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Thread: Fate/Stay Night: Across time

  1. #81
    紅魔|吸血鬼 Frostyvale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FSNdeluxe View Post
    The 'jobs' was merely a typo.
    Okay so step one is to reread your work so that you don't make these.

  2. #82
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostyvale View Post
    Okay so step one is to reread your work so that you don't make these.
    Understood. Do you have anything to say about the chapter I send you? or the changed dialogue?

  3. #83
    夜属 Nightkin
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    On a different note. Can anyone offer me advise about how to write a decent action scene?

  4. #84
    夜属 Nightkin
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    OK. I am currently busy to try to improve my writing, since I posted this story way too early.

    For the few of you who actually liked it, I will continue posting after I have managed to improve a little and have corrected my errors.

  5. #85
    Lethum Milbunk's Avatar
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    I will say the most important thing for writing a story is to not give up and always keep trying to correct your own mistakes, the more you can do that the better you'll get even if it will take some time.

    I like to think I am a lot better writing now than I was last year and that's all because I never stopped and always kept trying to improve.

  6. #86
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milbunk View Post
    I will say the most important thing for writing a story is to not give up and always keep trying to correct your own mistakes, the more you can do that the better you'll get even if it will take some time.

    I like to think I am a lot better writing now than I was last year and that's all because I never stopped and always kept trying to improve.
    Thank you for your words. What did you think of the story?

  7. #87
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Hey, I am back. I will be posting a new chapter on this forum soon. I will also be posting this story on fanfiction.net

  8. #88
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors lethum's Avatar
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    Go get them tiger.

  9. #89
    Lethum Milbunk's Avatar
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    I was wondering what was going on in this thread, good to see you still haven't given up yet. That's the most important thing!

  10. #90
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Here is Chapter 7

    Chapter 7

    Fate/stay Night: Across time


    Chapter 7: Sword and magic


    Shirou woke up when the sun started to rise. He stretched himself out and made his way to the water bowl, where he washed his face. He yawned. “Time to get some breakfast.” Shirou put on his clothes and left the room.


    “Good morning, mister Emiya. Do you want me to have some breakfast brought up for you?” A servant asked when he saw Shirou.


    “No, thanks. I'll be eating in the mess hall today.” Servant nodded in acknowledgment and returned to his chores. Not long after leaving his quarters he ran into Arturia.


    “Ah, good morning Shirou. I take it you have slept well?” Arturia face was expressionless as always.


    “Yes, I have. How about you? Have you slept well?”


    “Very well, Shirou. Must have been the food. I have never tasted such delicious food before.” A faint smile appeared on her face, but it vanished almost immediately. “The cooks have paid good attention to you yesterday as the food this morning also showed good improvement. Have you eaten already?”


    “No, your Majesty. I'm having breakfast in the mess hall. Merlin said I should learn how to wield a sword, so I'm going to the training hall to learn it.”


    Arturia looked at Shirou with approval. “That is a good idea. Learning how to wield a sword is always a wise decision.” She put her hand under her chin. “You will need somebody to train you. Maybe you could ask sir Gawain. He would be more than happy to teach you. Or maybe one of the other knights. Your exploits certainly warrant at least that much.”


    “Somebody already offered himself to be my teacher last evening.”


    Arthur raised a brow. “Who is it? One of the knights I presume?”


    “Mordred.” Shirou confirmed. Arturia was a little surprised when she heard the name.


    “Mordred. Hmmm … He is certainly one of the best knights around.” She sank into thought. “Anyway, I am going to the throne room. Since it is in the same direction you are going, I will walk with you for a while, if you don't mind.”


    “Why should I? Besides you are the king. If anything I should be asking for your permission to accompany you,” Shirou grinned.


    Arturia lead the way. When they approached the throne room, Shirou could hear the sounds of laughter and exited voices, but as soon as they entered all voices simply ceased. Everybody made a bow to the king as she made her way on the throne.


    “You may rise your heads.” She commanded as she sat herself down. Everybody lifted their heads. Shirou saw several knights among the attendants. Sir Galahad, Gawain and Bedivere amongst others.


    “I'll take my leave then.” Shirou bowed as he said that. “Have a good day.” The king nodded. Those last words drew some glares from the others. Perhaps he had been a little too familiar in public just now, Shirou thought.


    Shirou made his way to the mess hall for breakfast. For breakfast he had a couple of slices of bread, cheese, a grilled sausage and some water. Simple but sufficient. Shirou was almost finished when Mordred suddenly showed up and sat beside him. He was carrying a large two-hander. It was finely crafted for sure, but unlike Excalibur, Gawain's Galantine or Lancelot's Arondight, it was just a normal sword.


    “Good morning to you. Be sure to eat well. You will be needing the energy.” Mordred laughed. Shirou returned the smile. He certainly is not a bad guy. Mordred waited for Shirou to finish his meal.


    “So, shall we begin then?”


    “Yes, let us begin.” Shirou answered enthusiastically. Mordred stood up and gestured Shirou to follow him to the training hall. Shirou was rather curious about Mordred, so he decided to strike a conversation with Mordred.


    “So, tell me Sir Mordred. How long have you been a member of the round table?”


    Mordred looked at Shirou. “About five years. I arrived at Camelot six years ago. Back then I was completely unknown. I worked hard daily to be a perfect knight and to uphold the ways of chivalry. Thus I earned my place by proving myself to be a knight worthy of sitting at the round table.” Mordred's voice dripped with pride, but surprisingly there was also some scorn in it.


    “It seems I found myself a good teacher.” Shirou declared. “Even the king acknowledged that you were one of the best the round table has to offer.”


    “Not simply one of the best. I am the man that equals the king in the way of the sword, if not surpassed him.” Mordred boasted. That was indeed a very bold statement to say the least. Shirou could practically feel Mordred's confidence radiating from him. Shirou admired his confidence, but it also worried him a bit.


    They arrived at the training hall. Mordred led Shirou to a collection of weapon and armor racks that lined the wall. Mordred took a pair of wooden training swords.


    “Here take this.” Mordred handed him one of the swords. Then he guided him to one of the fighting rings that were not used. “Okay, mister Shirou. Just so you know I will not be going easy on you. First let us see what you know about sword fighting. Take your stance.”


    Shirou took position in front of Mordred and held his sword in front of his torso. Mordred held his sword loosely in hand. “Okay, mister Shirou. Show me what you got!”


    Shirou rushed Mordred and swinged his sword at his torso. Mordred brought his sword up fast and parried Shirou's sword effortlessly which he follow up with a mean blow to Shirou's left arm. It didn't cause any injuries, but it left Shirou with a serious bruise. Mordred wasn't kidding when he said he wouldn't go easy.
    “Too slow and too predictable. Don't just charge in blindly. Focus. Try to anticipate your opponent's movements!” Mordred instructed as Shirou regained his stance.


    Try to anticipate? Easier said than done. He circled around Mordred, but he didn't even try to follow Shirou. He was just waiting for Shirou to make his move. Shirou attacked Mordred's flank. Mordred merely side stepped the attack and smacked Shirou on his right arm.


    “Hmmm. This is no good.” Mordred clacked his tongue and thought for a moment. “I think I will first show you some basics. Go back in to your starting posture.” Shiro rubbed his arms and retook his stance. Mordred circled around him and pointed Shirou to the faults in his posture, which Shirou quickly corrected.


    “Now pay attention. I will demonstrate a simple attack routine.” Mordred took some distance from Shirou. He demonstrated a simple routine: strike, strike, block, strike, thrust. “Try it!” Mordred commanded. Shirou tried to repeat the same routine. He did decent as far as he could tell .


    “Hmmm, decent enough. Your first strike was too wide. As was your second strike. Try not to exaggerate too much. Otherwise you will leave yourself open for a counterattack.” Mordred explained patiently. “Now use what you just learned against me.”
    Shirou took his stance and attacked. Mordred of course blocked his attacks effortlessly. But before Shirou could execute his thrust, Mordred suddenly charged forward in a relentless shoulder charge knocking Shirou to the ground, skidding several meters backward. “Next lesson, even your body is a weapon.” Mordred laughed loudly as he helped Shirou get back up.


    “That's gonna leave a mark.” Shirou grunted. They continued practicing for a couple or more hours, during which Shirou never landed a hit Mordred.


    “Okay. Let us take a break.” Mordred said. Shirou was dripping with sweat. “A good first training. Would you not agree?”


    “Yes, Mordred-sensei.” Shirou replied.


    “Sensei?” Mordred asked surprised.


    “Teacher, instructor ...” Shirou clarified.


    “Here. Have some water.” Mordred took two mugs from a nearby shelve and scooped some water from a barrel. He handed Shirou one of the mugs, which Shirou gratefully accepted. He drank it up in one gulp, then he refilled it and went to sit on the bench. Mordred sat beside him, drinking his water with a straw he had procured from somewhere.


    “Mind if I ask you something?” Mordred inquired.


    “No, not at all.”


    “I heard talking that you know something about the Holy Grail. Would you mind if I ask you about it?” Shirou sighed. He had heard about the war from Kiritsugu, but he really didn't know all that much about it, so he explained to Mordred the little he knew about it.


    “That is very interesting.” Mordred said with a low voice. “But enough about that. Let us talk about something else. I would like to hear of your homeland and your era.”


    Shirou smiled. “Okay, but will you tell me somethings about you in return?”


    “Deal.” Mordred agreed. Shirou told Mordred about Fuyuki city, his friends and his school. Most of which clearly baffled Mordred. Like how Fuyuki city counted several tens of thousands of inhabitants, or when Shirou told him about cars. During his tale Lancelot had also joined the conversation. He wanted to know more about the traditions and culture of Japan. In return he and Mordred told Shirou about how they joined the Arturia's court, about their journeys and battles. Time passed quickly.


    It was noon when Arturia entered the training hall and approached the trio. When Lancelot and Mordred saw her, they abruptly ended their stories. They stood up and bowed when she arrived. Shirou followed suit.


    “Good day, Sir Lancelot, Sir Mordred, … Shirou.” She eyed the three of them. “How was the training?”


    “Tough. But Mordred is a good teacher.” Shirou rubbed his arms.


    “That is good to hear. I do belief that you are soon to train with Merlin. Perhaps it is best that you eat something before seeing him.” At those words Shirou's stomach growled.


    “Good idea, your majesty.” Shirou put his sword back in the rack. “See you tomorrow then, sir Mordred.”


    “Until tomorrow, Shirou. Make sure that you are well rested.” Mordred shook Shirou's hand and left the hall.


    “And if you will excuse me, my king. I have an appointment to attend to.” Lancelot bowed to Arturia and left.


    “Seems everybody left.” Shirou watched as Mordred and Lancelot left.


    “Indeed. Would you like to have lunch at my table?” Arturia suggested.


    “Of course. Has lunch been prepared already?”


    “No, not yet. But that should not take long.”


    “Would you mind if I cook instead?” At those words Arturia snapped at attention, surprising Shirou.


    “No, not at all. I will accompany you for a while, since the kitchen is in the same direction.” She made her way in the direction of the kitchen with Shirou quickly following her.


    “So what do you do the entire day?” Shirou asked in order to make a conversation. He had a general idea about it, but no specifics. Arturia eyed him with mild surprise.


    “Well, most of the time it involves regulating the country. To that end I must write and sign various documents and give approval for various actions proposed by other high ranking officials. I must also maintain law and order which requires the management of the army and see to it that criminals get their due punishment. There is also the matter of balancing the kingdoms finances. And from time to time there is the handling of diplomatic relations with other powers. Luckily I have Merlin and sir Kay giving me advice.” That is indeed a lot of responsibility. Shirou reckoned he would collapse under such pressure.


    “You don't have much time for your self, I take it?”


    “Not as much as I would like sometimes. But that is fine with me. As long as the people are safe and happy, I am happy.” She said resolute. Her eyes gleaming with determination.


    “I can understand that.” Arturia looked at him and Shirou thought he saw a smile there for a moment.


    “And what about you, Shirou. How do you spend your time?”


    “Well, during the school days I attend classes. We learn things like writing, history and math. The teachers also hand out assignments for at home on a regular basis. Then there is the occasional test for which we have to study. I also help with fixing broken equipment at school. Issei is always happy with how it helps cutting costs for our budget. Luckily I can use my magic to analyze the equipment, so I can find out quickly what is wrong with it. Although I have to be careful not to let others notice.” Shirou paused for a moment, scratching his head. “I also work part-time after school and during vacations to earn some extra money. The school encourages independency and than there is of course the maintaining of my house. Sakura helps me out with that.”


    “Interesting. Tell me, Shirou. What exactly is a part-time job? I think I understand the meaning, but it is not entirely clear to me.” She was looking inquisitively at Shirou.


    “Well, it is a job that you do part time. As in you don't work continually. You work for example a couple hours a day or once every few days. It is useful for those who go to school to earn some extra money or for those with other activities or other part-time jobs.”


    “I see. You said that you cannot let others know that you are a magus. Why is that?”


    Shirou scratched his head. “In my age, magi keep themselves hidden from the world. As far as the public is concerned, magic and the phantasm races are things from fairy tales. The Magi founded the Mage Association with their main goal being to keep magic hidden from the world. To that end, they'll punish anyone that breaks their rules. As long as a Magus doesn't disturb the common people or break any taboos, they are free to do as they please, no matter how despicable their actions are.”


    “Magi have always been known for their selfish interests.” Arturia said with disgust. “It is a shame however that magic is to be kept secret from the people. I think that the world is poorer without it.”


    They arrived at the kitchen. “I'll be looking forward to your cooking. See you soon.” She left Shirou at the kitchen, who watched her for a few moments before entering.


    A little while later, Shirou with the help from some servants brought the food to the dinner room. Arturia was reading a book at the table when they entered. She looked up when they entered and put the book away. When the delicious smell of the food entered her nose, she felt elated. The servants left after the table was set.


    “Let's dig in.” Shirou grinned. “Ittadakimasu.” He clasped his hands together and bowed his head. Arturia looked at him curiously.


    “Ittadakimasu?” She asked.


    “It means I am grateful to receive. It's a bit like saying grace.”


    “Ah, I see. Ittadakimasu.” Arturia did as Shirou did. “Now let us eat.” Every time she took a bite, she nodded in approval, clearly enjoying the food to her hearts content. Shirou eyed her as he was eating his own portion. During the meal they talked some more about their daily lives. It was a rather normal conversation, but Shirou found it a good one.


    “That was delicious, Shirou.” She said contently. “The cooking of my cooks has also improved significantly since yesterday but your cooking is still far superior.”


    “Thank you, your highness. I'm glad you liked it.” Shirou patted his belly satisfied. “Can I ask you something?”


    “Go ahead. I will answer your question if possible.”


    “Well, what I wanted to ask is ...” Shirou changed his mind mid sentence however. “No, never mind.”


    “Alright then. But now you should leave. I have already taken enough of your time. You will be late for your training with Merlin.” Arturia stood up and went back to her book. “It was delicious and the conversation was pleasant as well. We should do this again.”


    “I'll be happy to indulge you, Arturia.” Shirou smiled and headed for the door. He felt happy when she said that. “See you another time.”


    Shirou made his way to Merlin's tower. He knocked on the door upon arrival.


    “Enter.” Merlin responded. Shirou went inside. Merlin was busy sorting through some scrolls at the other side of the room. “I will be right with you. Why don't you take a seat over there? I have prepared some materials for you to practice with. We will begin momentarily.”


    Shirou made his way to a table sporting a variety of ordinary objects. Some candles, knifes, pots and even some armor and weapons. Shirou examined them while Merlin finished his business.


    “Oh, Shirou. You might want to know that I have found the location of the portal.” Merlin said casually, causing Shirou looked up in surprise. “It is protected by a boundary field, so I will have to go there myself and take it down if we want to reach it. But I am afraid that it will have to wait a couple of days. My duties you see.”


    Shirou sighed, but he understood. “Guess it can't be helped.”


    Merlin felt some compassion for Shirou. “I know. But in the mean time ...” Merlin looked at the table. “Let us begin your Magic training. You said to me that you knew only strengthening magic, correct?” Shirou nodded.


    “Well then, let us see what you can do. Take one of the objects and try to strengthen it. And remember, you don't need to make a new circuit. Just think of your trigger and activate your circuits.”


    Shirou took one of the knifes. “Alright. -------Trace on.” Shirou muttered, letting the imagenary hammer strike the firing pin. He immediately felt the magical energy flow through him. His body felt warm.
    “Basic structure...analyze. Composition...analyze.” Shirou focused on the knife in his hand.
    He had analyzed the knife's structure and composition. Now to reinforce it.
    “Basic structure … alter. Composition... reinforce.” Shirou poured in his magical energy in it. Afterwards, Shirou opened his eyes and examined the object. He felt a little disappointed when he saw that it had only worked partially.


    “Hmm. Looks like it will take some time. Let me see the knife.” Shirou silently handed it over. Merlin examined the knife. He took out a piece of wood from somewhere and tried the knife on it. Frowning he laid the knife aside. “Keep trying until you succeed. I will be back soon. There is something minor the king wants to discuss with me. I reckon that Kay has been voicing his complaints about me again. Ohh, and don't touch anything else than what is on this table.” Merlin warned as he left, but his eyes had only reflected mischievous hope.


    Shirou sighed heavily and tried again. The next hour he did nothing else then reinforce the items. Most simply fell apart and some weren't changed at all or only partially. But he did manage to reinforce some of them, including the sword, successfully. The last item, a knife, shattered and Shirou was left with no more items to reinforce. Merlin returned just after Shirou finished, who couldn't help but sigh when he saw that most items were destroyed.


    “Looks like you failed most of the time.” He shook his head. “I feared as much. Your circuits are few and of inferior quality. Not to mention that you never had received proper training until now.” He walked over to the table and examined the items. He smiled weakly when he found some items that were successfully changed. “There is something I want to ask you.”


    “Go ahead.” Shirou drank some water.


    “Was there really not something else which you could do with magic?” Merlin looked at Shirou questioningly.


    “Yeah, there is. I'm able to do some projection. However, all those objects were always hollow on the inside. Besides projection is considered vanity, is it not?” Shirou sat himself down.


    “Well, it is. Projection is usually only good for creating an item which is only needed temporary.” Merlin pondered for a moment. “Could you demonstrate it for me? Anything would do.”


    Shirou stared at Merlin for a moment before answering. “Alright. Trace on.” He brought up the image of a knife in his head and focused on it. Shirou projected a knife similar as those he used for reinforcement practice. When he was done, surprise showed on his face. This knife had more weight then he expected it to have. It was still mostly hollow, though.


    “Here.” He handed it to Merlin and he examined it quite extensively. “This is the first time I succeeded this well with projection.” Merlin was still analyzing the knife. As time passed a look of intense interest and curiosity appeared on his face.


    “Lad. I am going to study this for a while. You are free to leave, but I will have some stuff delivered to your quarters for further practice. Call me if you need any help.” Shirou looked at Merlin dumbfounded. He never expected his first lesson in magic to be this short.


    “Well uhh...Ok. I'll go explore the castle a bit then.” Shirou left the tower as Merlin went to his work corner and began to examine the knife thoroughly. What did Merlin knew that he didn't?


    Shirou walked down the hall way, when he encountered Arturia and Bedivere.
    “Good afternoon your highness,... sir Bedivere.” Shirou waved.


    “Shirou!? I thought you would still be training with Merlin. Did something happen?” They both looked at Shirou inquiringly. Shirou told them of what had transpired.


    “I see. Merlin normally does not interrupt something without good reason. He will inform us of the reason in due time no doubt. So, what will you do for the rest of the day?”
    Shirou thought a bit for a while, then an idea popped up. “I haven't much to do actually. But can I ask to accompany you for a while?”


    “Why?” She asked surprised. Bedivere lifted his eyebrows.


    “Well, I would like to see how the king spends his day, and maybe strike a conversation or two. I'll not be staying here for long, so I thought I could get to know you guys a bit better. If you don't mind of course” Shirou smiled.


    “Hmmm. I don't know. There will not be much for you to see and I am almost done for the day, which is rare.” She pondered for a moment.


    “How about I'll cook for you again tonight in exchange?” This dragged her over the line. The way she reacted at Shirou's proposal surprised even Bedivere.


    “Alright then. You may accompany us.” Shirou snapped out of himself been dumbstruck.


    “So, mister Shirou. How was your training with sir Mordred, if I may ask?” Bedivere inquired curiously, but polite as ever. “I heard it was quite rough.”


    Shirou rubbed his arms. “Indeed, it was. It has definitely left some bruises, but nothing to serious. He sure is a strict teacher.”


    “I believe you.” Bedivere agreed. “Mordred is a fine warrior, although he keeps to himself a bit much, I say.”


    Shirou followed Bedivere and Arturia for the rest of the day. Although nothing noteworthy happened. The king just needed to do some miner business. Afterwards she spent her time walking through the castle and relaxing in the garden. They talked some among the three of them, until the evening.
    After which Shirou went to the kitchen to cook supper. Everill felt a bit jealous of the fact that Shirou was cooking for the king personally. In fact, most if not all of the people in the kitchen were either jealous or annoyed. But Shirou didn't bothered himself with it for long. Guinevere, Bedivere and Kay would be joining this evening.


    “You truly are a fine cook, Shirou.” Arturia sighed in satisfaction. Shirou couldn't help but notice how all the attendants were surprised by her appetite. The amount of food she ate would have been enough to satisfy two full grown men.


    “Indeed it was, mister Shirou.” Kay agreed. “The quality of the meals made by the cooks has also improved since you visited the kitchens.” Everybody else agreed with his statement.


    “Is there some more, Shirou?” Arturia asked. Everything on the table had already been eaten, but she was still hungry.”


    “Well, I think there is still some left. I'll go fetch it. Be right back.” He stood up and left. The door closed behind him, but not completely.


    “You certainly love his cooking, my dear.” Guinevere said laughing. “Never have I seen someone with such a small frame eating so much.” She took a sip of whine.


    “I know. I am still to indulgent.” The king gritted her teeth, as if realizing a fatal mistake. “This is bad indeed. His cooking is simply to good.” Everybody stared at the king in wonder. Then Guinevere, Kay and Bedivere noticed Shirou, who had returned seemingly to ask something. Since Arturia had sunken into thought, she didn't notice him. Shirou looked a little taken-a-back. “At this rate, should he leave, the absence of his cooking will certainly affect my will to fight.”


    The others exchanged glances in surprise. Bedivere glanced at Shirou, who silently retreated.


    “If you would excuse me, my king.” Bedivere left the table after receiving the king's approval. He quickly caught up to Shirou in the corridor. “It seems the king has taken quite the liking of your cooking.”


    “Indeed. Maybe I should ease up a bit on my cooking. At this rate she'll end up keeping me here as her personal cook.” Bedivere laughed and patted Shirou on his back.


    “I have never seen the king like this before, mister Shirou. You should watch your back, because that might just happen.” He grinned, but Shirou wasn't sure about how to answer.


    The rest of the evening was uneventful and everybody returned to their chambers afterwards. When Shirou arrived at his chambers, he found some boxes and bags with various objects. Merlin did said he would send practice material to his room.
    Shirou didn't mind and decided to practice a little more, since he had done it for nearly eight years. He went to sit by the window and gazed at the stars. Life here wasn't so bad, but he really should be returning home. The others at home were no doubt worried about him.
    Last edited by FSNdeluxe; April 27th, 2015 at 11:47 AM.

  11. #91
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Malgos's Avatar
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    I'm curious why did you chose to change Shirou's mental image to that of a firing pin instead of firing the hammer of a gun, was it just personal preference or a deeper reason that I don't really need to know?

    Also I'm not sure, but don't you capitalize "sir" when you use it as a title? Speaking of minor mistakes, ironically you had a typo in there and it read "miner" instead of "minor". Unless the king really did go and meet some miners then my bad. There were a few other mistakes that I spotted, but I'm sorry to say that I forgot them.

    I also agree with some of the others when it comes to the issues with this, but it's good to see that you put a lot of effort into improving.

    As the general opinion according to the poll is quite... Negative and I can think of more deserving things that I saw for the last two options, I voted for a generous average. Also I'm happy to see that some new writers are posting their stories here.

  12. #92
    夜属 Nightkin
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    No, the firring pin was an error on my account. Just fixed it.

    thanks for telling me and for your vote.

  13. #93
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Here is chapter 8.

    chapter 8
    Fate/stay Night: Across time


    Chapter 8: Brave, but foolish


    The next three days went by quickly. Shirou trained with Mordred in the morning and practiced reinforcement in the afternoon. He talked with the other knights and told them more of his time and homeland. Mordred in particular was extremely interested, often asking loads of questions. Shirou was allowed to use the kitchen as he pleased, which he happily accepted. He was happy he could use the kitchen and even cooked a couple of times for the king and her knights as well. Working in the kitchen he also bonded with Everill, who was eager to learn more about cooking from Shirou. In return he offered Shirou the best ingredients one could find and telling him some funny anecdotes.


    Shirou sat on a bench, sweaty and bruised. Mordred is a firm teacher who didn't shy away from hitting his student. Even so, Shirou thought Mordred as a pleasant person, but he should seriously cut back on his boasting. Really there should be a limit to everything.


    “Good work, Shirou.” Mordred handed Shirou some water, which he accepted gratefully. “You have improved some, but you have still a long way to go. Though I commend you for the strength in your strikes. They are focused and intense, but also very easy to predict.”


    “Thank you.” Shirou swiped the sweat from his brow. “Say, Mordred. How come you aren't as tired as me? I mean, I know I have decent stamina, but you are still wearing that armor. Doesn't it tire you?”


    Mordred drank from his mug through a reed. “Your stamina is indeed good, Shirou. But to answer your question, I have worn this armor for years. One merely becomes accustomed to it. Wear it long enough and you will hardly notice it anymore.” Mordred looked at the sky and sighed. “Tell me, Shirou. Don't you have anymore lessons from Merlin in the afternoon anymore?”


    “No, I don't.” After his second lesson with Merlin, he hadn't even seen him anymore. “Why?”


    “Well, you haven't been out of the castle, have you not?” Shirou nodded in confirmation. “Would you like to observe the village life? A change of pace, so to say.”


    That sounded interesting to Shirou. Observing how people lived in the sixth century.
    “Sure. That would be nice.”


    “Alright then. I will see you after lunch. Meet me at the stables.” Mordred smacked him on the back and gave a chuckle. “Later then.” He stood up and walked away.


    “Yes. Until later.” Shirou stood up and went to his chambers to took a bath. Training this intensive with Mordred made it necessary. As Shirou left his chambers refreshed, he bumped into Arturia.


    “Oh Shirou. I did not think I would run into you.” Arturia normally wore armor, but today she wore a beautiful, noble-blue tunic embroiled with a red dragon on the chest. Shirou reckoned that she must has wrapped cloth around her chest in order to flatten it, or something like that.


    “I have just taken a bath. It was really enjoyable.” Shirou responded.


    “Ah, I see. I have never enjoyed taking a bath. Mainly because of that reason.” Shirou understood what she meant.


    Shirou smiled, which prompted her to tilt her head in wonder. “Is there something that amuses you?”


    “Ah, no nothing in particular, Arturia. I just felt like it.” A thought appeared in his head. “Say, Arturia. Have you anything to do this afternoon?”


    “Nothing, which is rather unusual. Why?” She asked curiously.


    “Mordred invited me to visit the village with him, so I thought if maybe you could join us.” He smiled at her hopefully as she went into thought. “You could encourage the people with your presence at the same time. Like give them a boost to their morale by gracing them with your presence and such.” She looked at him questioningly.


    “Hmmm, if you put it like that. May I suggest that we take the opportunity to do some falconry? I haven't done that in quite a while.” She had made up her mind, even though she found Shirou's argument rather weak. “You should inform Mordred about this first though. I may be king, but it would still be rude to intrude uninvited.”


    “It would have been rude indeed. A king should lead by example after all” Shirou added. Arturia was pleasantly surprised by what Shirou said.


    “True enough. A king should indeed.” Arturia said proudly.


    “He is often found at the stables, the garden or the training area.” She said as she started to leave. “Now, if you will excuse me. I have something to discuss with Sir Kay concerning our finances.” Shirou started to look for Mordred. On his search for Mordred, Shirou heard some loud voices in the distance. When he went to inspect what, he encountered Gawain and Bedivere whom were engaged in a rather heated discussion.


    “How dare they!! That is something that falls within their duties as nobles. How dare they to burden the king with such matters!?” Bedivere's voice was full of anger.


    “I agree. This is happening more and more often. Do they really intend to push all the problems onto his highness?” Gawain sounded more collected, albeit still angry. “This is bad. If the king ...” Gawain suddenly fell silent when he noticed Shirou. “It is not a good habit to eavesdrop, Shirou.”


    “One doesn't need to eavesdrop when you are yelling so loudly. I could hear you all the way back there.” Shirou remarked casually.


    “True enough.” Bedivere sighed heavily. His expression turned a bit too self-berating.


    “So what was that about somebody pushing problems onto the king?” Shirou asked a little nervous. “Can I help with something?”


    “You offer is appreciated, but I don't think there is anything you could do.” Bedivere smiled sadly before turning to Gawain. “Sir Gawain, I suggest we discuss this matter further at a different time.”


    “Agreed.” Gawain crossed his arms. “Mister Shirou. I would like you to keep what you heard to yourself. This is not something that should be discussed in public.”


    Shirou nodded in agreement. “But why would they do such a thing. I mean … She brought peace to the country didn't she. So why?” Shirou felt like he had to ask. Gawain and Bedivere frowned at his question, or was it because Shirou referred to the king as 'she' again?


    “Normally we would not tell this to a stranger, but I feel that you are trustworthy.” Bedivere's eyes pierced into Shirou's. Shirou nodded firmly. “Truth to be told, there are many people who are growing increasingly more dissatisfied with the king recently. Especially among the knights and the nobility. The dissatisfaction has grown more considerably, specifically after the incident with Mordred a couple of months ago.”


    Shirou listened attentively. What he heard made him angry which showed on his face. “But why? She did so much for the people.”


    Gawain nodded in agreement. “I understand how you feel. It angers me too. King Arthur is the perfect king and as his knight I wish for his highness to reach even greater heights. To that end I shall stand by his side forever.” Gawain's expression turned to one of pure admiration, one could even say blind admiration . “If the king has one flaw, than it is ... No, never mind. I should not have said that.”


    Shirou stared at Gawain, unsure of what to say. Bedivere had listened to Gawain with a mixture of joy and sadness. “I can relate to Sir Gawain, for I too wish for … the king's wellbeing.”


    “Well, what would one expect from the king's most loyal knights. The perfect honor student and the head of the king's guard.” A low voice sounded from behind them. Shirou turned to face the origin of the voice. There stood a knight and someone who seemed to be a nobleman. Gawain's and Bedivere's faces soured. The knight wore an armor similar to that of Bedivere, with a bright green tunic underneath. He was of middle age, with streaks of gray appearing in his brown hair. The nobleman was of similar age and balding.


    “Sir Agravain. My lord, Hairud.” Gawain and Bedivere greeted with forced politeness. The nobleman returned the greeting.


    “These two adore the king too much, so their view is rather one sided.” Agravain smiled as if mocking Gawain and Bedivere. “But to answer tyour question, lad. 'tis the king's own fault.”


    “How so?” Shirou asked.


    “Well, because the king doesn't understand how others feel. He cannot understand the hearts of his people, that is why.” Gawain looked at Agravain in controlled anger. Bedivere gritted his teeth and averted his eyes. As if he was acknowledging a bitter truth. “How can one rule over others, if one cannot understand their subjects hearts? I say it again. The king does not understands the hearts of others, and as a king that is a fatal flaw.” Shirou saw Hairud nodding his head firmly in agreement.


    “Now that you mention it.” Shirou had wondered about this for a while now. “I've noticed this for a while now, but I didn't thought much of it because I don't spend much time with her or know her that long for that matter. Is that also the reason why I never see much people talk to her?” Agravain and Hairud lifted their eyebrows.


    “You've noticed that surprisingly fast.” Hairud smirked. Gawain and Bedivere merely followed the conversation silently. “The truth is nobody speaks to the king unless spoken to, or if one has something urgent to say. Even at the round table, all fall silent when the king appears. One reason people avoid talking to his highness, is because he never shows emotions. The king has not showed emotion or acted on his emotions, not even once since he ascended the throne.”


    “Sir Agravain. Those nay sayers simply do not realize how blessed we are with him as king. No other could have ruled in such a magnificent and just manner.” Gawain retorted. “And you lord Hairud. How dare you push your problems onto the king! Problems that are your responsibility.”


    “The king is responsible for all of the kingdom. Thus my problems are his problems.” Lord Hairud argued with a sly smile.


    This revelation boggled Shirou's mind. He recalls how the king never shows emotions, or at least not often. “I take it everybody is aware of the king's mistake?” He muttered.


    “It is hard not to notice. Well, I hope this answered your question. Now if you would excuse us.” Agravain and Hairud started to leave, when Hairud suddenly halted.
    “Before we leave, I must say lad. You are very dense for you still keep refering to the king as a she. Everybody knows the king is a man. Not that I care, though.” He grinned at Shirou. Shirou was staring at his feet in frustration of what he just heard.


    “No. You all are simply to dense to recognize the truth.” Shirou grumbled. For a moment they all stared at Shirou, forgetting the conversation they just had. Their faces expressed either exasperation or surprise at Shirou's apparent stubbornness and accusation. “Now, if you don't mind, I need to see Mordred.”


    Shirou walked a few paces and stopped, because he realized something. And even though he has no way to prove it, he felt in his heart that it was true. “I just realized something.”


    “And that would be ...” Agravain asked . Gawain, Bedivere, Agravain and Haruid looked at Shirou as he waited a moment.


    “After hearing that, I realize how stupid is for the king to make such a mistake and not noticing it. And it pisses me of.” Gawain frowned at those words. Bedivere closed his eyes in silent lament. Agravain and Haruid merely stared at him unblinking, then they started to leave when Shirou continued.


    “But you know. You people, no not just you. But everybody in this kingdom, from the peasants to the nobility and the knights, piss me of of a thousand times more.” Shirou raised his voice. Some servants came to investigate the commotion. Gawain, Bedivere, Agravain and Haruid stared at Shirou dumbfounded. They were completely baffled at Shirou's last outburst.


    “I'm going to see Mordred. You guys go about your business.” Shirou walked away, leaving the four men behind. What are they thinking? The people , the knights, the nobility… what was she thinking? Shirou started to run. Several servants were startled as he sped by. But Shirou didn't care, he needed to blow of some steam now. By the time he reached the training area, he had calmed down somewhat. Some of the soldiers stared at him as he arrived tired and panting.


    After catching his breath, Shirou started to look for Mordred. He asked some of the soldiers. They said Mordred had gone to the armory, so Shirou asked for directions.
    The armory consisted of several rooms. They were packed with various racks, sporting everything from armor and swords to halberds and longbows. Eventually he found Mordred. He was standing at the end of a narrow corridor in front of a steel, grate door. Shirou walked up to him, but Mordred didn't pay attention. He was staring through the grate door. Shirou looked over his shoulder.


    Behind the grate door was another part of the armory. But the weapons in there were a lot more precious. This room was obviously reserved for special weapons and armor. Shirou saw a beautiful engraved spear, a brilliantly decorated dagger and various other precious items. But the one weapon that drew his attention the most was the one Mordred was staring at. It was a large two hander, but it seemed to be made of silver. No, one could say it was more dazzling than any silver. It was beautiful.


    “Clarent.” Mordred said suddenly.


    “Clarent?” Shirou asked to which Mordred nodded.


    “Caliburn's sister sword. The sword of peace.” He continued. Shirou tried to recall. Caliburn was the sword from the stone. According to the legend it shattered when Arthur fought a duel that went against Chivalry.


    “It is beautiful, but Mordred can I speak with you for a moment?” Mordred faced Shirou.


    “Sure. Let us go outside. It's rather cramped in here.” They went to the courtyard. “What is it you that want to discuss?”


    “Well, I met Arturia a while ago and ...”


    “Let me guess, you asked if he could join us?” Mordred sounded annoyed.


    “I'm sorry. Anyway, she agreed to join us. She also suggested to do some falconry while we were at it.” Mordred shook his head.


    “Very well. But may I ask why you asked him to join us?” Mordred was definitely annoyed.


    “Can I ask you something before I answer that?” Mordred sighed. Shirou took that as a yes. “Why didn't anyone ever tell her, … him?”


    “Tell him what?” Mordred asked confused.


    “Tell the king that suppressing her emotions is a mistake. That she should try to understand others more.” Mordred fell silent for a moment.


    “It is not our place to judge him. If that is his choice, than so be it.” Mordred's voice was permeated by very dubious tone. Shirou couldn't tell if it was adoration or scorn. Maybe it was both. He started to belief that Mordred had mixed feelings about his father. “Tell his highness I give my consent.”


    “Thank you. Next time it will just be the two of us. I promise.” Shirou shook Mordred's hand, which surprised him a little. Shirou went to inform the king. They met at the stables after dinner. Mordred and Shirou were waiting at stables when the king arrived.


    Arturia was still wearing the dragon embroiled tunic. But this time she also donned a golden sword on her hip with a matching golden scabbard. Mordred made a bow when the king walked up to them.


    “My king. I hope you will experience a pleasant time in our company.” Mordred obviously tried hard to mask his displeasure, but to no avail.


    “Raise your head, Mordred. It is I who must thank you for allowing me to join this outing. I know you are displeased by my intrusion.” Mordred raised his head and looked Arturia in the eye. “There for, I invite you to join me to participate in falconry. If you wish.”


    “It would be my pleasure.” Mordred answered. He tried to sound grateful, but a hint of annoyance slipped in. “I have ordered the stable hands to fetch the horses. Oh, that reminds me. Shirou, do you know how to ride a horse?”


    Shirou hadn't thought about that. “Unfortunately no. In fact, until I arrived here I have never even seen a horse before.”


    Mordred and Arturia looked at him with surprise. “That should not be a problem though. We have some excellent trained horses in our stables. I will have one of the stable hands fetch one.” Mordred said.


    “Excellent, sir Mordred. But that certainly was a surprise.” Arturia commented. “You said that you have never seen a horse before. Are there no horses in your country? Do they use other animals as mounts?”


    “We do have horses in my country, only none in my hometown.” Shirou explained. “And besides don't forget that I am from the future. In my time the horse and cart have been replaced by a mechanical substitute.” Mordred and Arturia were listening with interest. “I'll tell you another time, if you don't mind.”


    “Understood. You have piqued my interest, so I expect you to tell me in detail.” said Arturia. After their horses were brought they left for the village. The horse Shirou was riding on was a bit older, but highly trained. Shirou had almost no trouble riding it.


    Shirou, Mordred and Arturia rode out on horseback to the village, or rather town. He thought it to big to be a village. The villagers bowed as the king passed. Shirou looked around as the people went on with their everyday lives. Shirou saw the baker working hard on his bread, the smithy hammering away on hot iron and the weaver putting the final touches on a tunic. Children were running around without a care in the world. Some of them came to look at the king and Mordred, but more so to look at the stranger from a distant land.


    “Well, Shirou. What do you think of the village life?” Mordred asked.


    “It sure is lively. These people live simple lives, but they are contend with it. A simple but good life, but also a lot harsher in many ways then in my time.” Shirou looked around inquisitively. The atmosphere in the village seems so busy, yet somehow relaxing. It brought a smile on his face.


    “Indeed it is.” Mordred said absentmindedly, as if he was in thought.


    “But I must say, the cleanliness leaves much to be desired. Especially in regards of waste.” Shirou commented. It was the only real issue he had. The village was quite nice, but god, the smell.


    Arturia sighed. “It can not be helped. We don't have a real solution for this problem.”


    “In my time we have something called sewers. A network for tunnels and pipes used for disposing waste materials.” Shirou told.


    “That is quite a novelty you have in your time. But for us it isn't really plausible.” Mordred commented rather smug.


    “Well, it really is a quite old idea, though.” Arturia and Mordred stared at him. “I know that the Romans used it centuries ago.”


    “I see. It once again proves how much of their knowledge has been lost.” Arturia lamented. They spent some time exploring the village and its surroundings, until Bedivere and Kay arrived. Behind them rode a couple of squires who carried the equipment and the falcons with them.


    “Good day, my king.” Kay and Bedivere greeted the king in unison. “We hast brought the falcons at your request.”


    “Ah, good.” Arturia faced Shirou and Mordred. “Shall we go off to hunt then?”


    “Lead the way, your highness.” Shirou was a bit excited. They rode about an hour through a dense forest to reach the chosen hunting ground. It was a large open plain. The afternoon sun shined gold across the long grasses. Once there they dismounted, the hunt began. Arturia let the first falcon loose. They gazed at the bird as it ascended into the sky.


    “Would you like to try it?” Arturia asked Shirou.


    “Can I? I mean, I would like to, but maybe Mordred would like to go first. After all, you invited him in compensation for intruding on his invitation.” Shirou looked at Mordred, who met his gaze.


    “Hmmm, true enough. What do you say, sir Mordred?” Arturia looked at Mordred.


    “Perhaps, later. Since Shirou will be returning home at one point, he should use the opportunity to experience some falconry.” Said Mordred. He tried to be nonchalant, but it was obvious that he was bored by it all.


    “A sound argument.” Bedivere chipped in, ignoring Mordred's tone. Arturia and Kay nodded in response.


    “Very well. Squire, please hand Shirou the falcon.” The squire walked over to Shirou.


    “Here, mister Shirou. Please use this to protect your arm against the claws.” The squire handed Shirou a leather glove that covered his entire lower arm. Shirou put it on. “Alright then. Please stick your arm out.”


    Shirou did as he was told. The squire held his arm close to Shirou's and nudged the falcon to move to Shirou's arm. The squire took some distance from Shirou.


    “Now then, Shirou. When you want to release him, you just remove the cap from it's head and stretch out your arm in the air, like I did .” Arturia instructed. Shirou did as he was told. The falcon eyed Shirou for a moment before it took flight. Shirou thought the experience was kinda cool.


    “Now we wait for the falcons to catch some prey.” Arturia explained as the squires took out some mugs and filled them with wine. Soon everybody, except Mordred and Shirou, were having a sip of wine. “Are you not having any wine, Shirou?”


    “No, thank you. I told you before that I'm not good with alcohol.” Shirou reminded them. “How about you, Mordred?”


    “Not today. Thanks for the offer.” Mordred replied disinterested.


    An hour past before one of the falcons suddenly dived to the ground. “Looks, like one has caught prey.” Kay remarked as the bird dived to the ground, And indeed it had. The falcon had caught a small rabbit. Not much meat, but it would sure prove to be tasty.


    They continued the hunt for several hours, during this time Arturia decided to take a little stroll while the others continued with the hunt. She walked across the plains to the top of a small hill. There she stopped and gazed upon the landscape, seemingly enjoying the suns rays as the evening approached. What was she doing over there? Shirou saw her doing something.
    He used strengthening on his eyes so he could see her better. Apparently she was eating something from a small pouch. Upon closer inspection, he saw it were pieces of fruit or something. After eating a small handful she put them back under her tunic.


    “So, Shirou.” Shirou turned his attention to Kay. “How is your training with Merlin going?” Kay was rather curious about what Merlin was teaching Shirou.


    Shirou sighed. He hadn't spoken with Merlin after he showed him his projection. “Not sure. After my second lesson, I haven't seen him even once. He told me to just continue practicing strengthening.”


    “Odd.” Kay mumbled. Bedivere conceded with Kay's assessment. “But Merlin would not do something like that if he did not have a good reason for it.”


    “If you say so. I would appreciate it if he could explain it to me first.” Shirou shook his head in annoyance.


    “You better get used to it.” Mordred said, waving his hand. “What I have learned from my mother is that the key to dealing with a Magus is to give up.” Bedivere, Kay and Shirou looked at Mordred incredulous.


    “How are things going with the hunt?” Arturia rejoined the group and the conversation stopped. The hunt continued for another hour or two. In total they caught three rabbits, a rather poor haul.


    “Did you enjoy the hunt, Shirou?” The king asked as they rode through the forest on their way back.


    “It was pretty exciting handling the bird, but the waiting was a bit tedious. Luckily, there was some good company present.” Shirou smiled. All in all it had been a fun experience. “I was thinking of rabbit stew tonight. What do you guys think?”


    “Please do.” Arturia promptly replied.


    “Looks like the king has decided. Rabbit stew it is then.” Kay commented grinning. Everybody had noticed that these past few days the king got very eager when it came to Shirou's cooking.


    Suddenly Arturia stopped as her instincts were warning her of danger lying ahead. “Everybody, be on your guard. I sense danger ahead.” She drew her sword and the others followed suit. Their faces were tensed as they now too sensed the danger.


    “Attack!!” A voice yelled. A moment later, bandits appeared all around them. A group of roughly forty men suddenly sprang from the bushes. Shirou could hear Kay swear.


    “Drive them back!” Arturia yelled. Shirou could see one of the squires fall after been stabbed by a spear. The king and her knights drew their swords and faced the enemy. The fact that they were on horseback was an advantage.


    “What are bandits doing this close to Camelot!?” Bedivere shouted. His face showing only disbelief, although it did not dull his mind as he executed a lightning fast riposte on the first bandit. The bandit was dead before he hit the ground. Shirou could barely follow Bedivere's strike.


    “That is what I would like to know!” Mordred yelled enraged as he cleaved two opponents in half with a single swing of his two-hander. The fact that they were wearing armor made it even more impressive. Shirou gasped at the sight. Unlike the others who's fighting style was elegant, Mordred's way of fighting was simply savage. His strikes could barely be called technique, but they were powerful and very accurate. It was nothing like what Mordred had thought him before. It was a brutal way of fighting meant only for killing.
    Suddenly one of the bandits jabbed a spear at him, which caused the horse to rear up. Shirou fell on the ground and immediately got surrounded by three bandits. Each and everyone of them were armed to the teeth. Shirou was cornered and unarmed.


    One of them started to charge him, his sword trusting forward to impale him. The other two approaching him from the sides in a pincer attack. He was going to die. No! He still hadn't achieved his goal of becoming a hero of justice. Dying here would be meaningless. He recalled his last conversation with Kiritsugu.


    When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a hero of justice.


    What do you mean, dreamed? Did you give up?


    Yes, unfortunately. Being a Hero is a limited-time thing. When you grow older, it becomes difficult to call yourself one. I wish I hadn't taken so long in realizing that.


    I see. Then it can't be helped.


    Yes, I can't.


    Yeah. Since you can't, I'll become one for you.


    “Trace on.” Shirou activated his circuits. Streams of energy like lightning whirled around him and started to condense in his hand. In a bright flash a sword formed in his hand. The bandits jumped back in surprise. His arms trembled and felt like his arms were on fire.


    “He is the Magus. This the one we need. Capture him!” One of them shouted. They recovered from the shock and resumed their attack. The first attack came fast, but Shirou managed to block it, as he did with the second and the third. However the sword shattered at the fourth attack. But Shirou didn't give up. He promptly recreated the sword and this time he attacked. The burning sensation started to spread across his body.


    He hadn't been training for long, but it was certainly paying off. But the pain in his body made fighting more difficult. It is fortunate that compared to Mordred, these guys were plain slow. He even managed to injure one of them on the arm. His success was short-lived however as suddenly one of the bandits rushed in with his shield and bashed Shirou to the ground. The bandit brought down his sword, not with the blade but with the pommel, aiming to knock him out. But it was repelled as Arturia suddenly appeared.


    “Foul wretches. I will have you taste my blade!” She shouted. “Shirou, fall back to the others.” The bandits charged her, but she deftly parried and dodged their attacks, all the while delivering devastating attacks of herself. The bandits died within a heartbeat. Then Arturia launched herself between four bandits and literally smashed them aside with a mighty blow, belying her small physique. Arturia didn't notice the heavily armored bandit sneaking up from behind the trees.


    The bandit waited for her to get closer. He attacked with his large cleaver-like sword when she got close enough. Arturia had sensed the man approach and had already turned to face him, but suddenly Shirou stood between her and the bandit. Shirou shielded her and the cleaver cut him along the chest. He fell to the ground.


    Shirou's sudden intervention had surprised the bandit, causing his attack to mis his mark. It took a moment for the bandit to grasp what just had happened. Long enough for Arturia to attack. The bandit needed all his strength to block the attack. His cleaver was shattered and he was thrown backwards. He made a skilled back-flip and regained his footing.


    “Cowards. I will have you executed for this.” Arturia glared at the bandit. The bandit looked around, seeing that all all except of two his men were were defeated.


    “Retreat!!!” He shouted and he ran into the forest with his comrades. He was in luck however, as Arturia and the knights were devoting their attention to their wounded.


    Kay and the other squire were tending to the wounded squire. Arturia was sitting at Shirou's side as Bedivere tended to his wound. He had removed his tunic and was currently cleaning his wound.


    “He is brave, I have to admit that. But reckless. I am amazed that he is still alive” Bedivere sighed in relieve as he saw that Shirou was recovering. He marveled at how fast the wound was healing. Gawain had told them how fast Shirou had recovered from the wound he received, while shielding him. But this was much faster then in Gawain's recollection from that event.


    “He must not have been aware that as long as I carry Avalon, I cannot be killed.” She said worried. “Seeing that he has a way to heal himself makes me feel at ease.”


    “There are no more bandits in the area.” Mordred had returned. After the attack he went to scout the area to make sure of it. “How is he doing?”


    “Surprisingly well. His wounds are healing incredibly fast.” Bedivere said with disbelief. “Gawain told us that he healed fast, but this is amazing.” They looked as Shirou's wound slowly closed. At this rate he would recover within the hour.
    “Amazing. He is healing incredibly fast indeed.” Mordred whistled.


    Kay walked up to them. He looked relieved. “The squire's wounds are not life threatening, but we should get him to a surgeon as fast as possible. How is Shirou doing?”


    “He is recovering fast, thanks to his healing ability.” The moment the king said that, they heard Shirou moan as he had regained consciousness. “Shirou! It is good that you have awoken. How do you feel?”


    “I've felt better.” He groaned. “Looks like you're unharmed. That's good.” He said with a smile when he saw Arturia.


    “Really. That was reckless of you.” Kay sighed with a smiling, yet worried face. “Regardless, you have my gratitude for protecting the king. Even though it was unnecessary.”


    “That man was about to strike her from behind and she wasn't wearing armor.” Shirou complained. He tried to sit up, but Arturia stopped him.


    “Listen, Shirou. It is true that I did not wear any armor, but as long as I carry Avalon I can not be injured.” Shirou looked at her in surprise. “Now rest. Your wounds will be healed shortly. Then we will ride back to Camelot.”


    Shirou did as he was told and true enough, he was completely healed within less then an hour. They soon resumed their way to Camelot. Bedivere, Kay, and Mordred were ridding at the back with the squires, while Arturia and Shirou were ridding a small distance to the front.


    “He sure is brave.” Kay affirmed. “He would surely be a fine knight, would you not agree?”


    “Perhaps. But I am a bit concerned over how easily he risked his life.” Bedivere pondered. “He may not have been aware of Avalon, but still ...”


    “That is something to consider. I am happy that he was able to defend himself. Those bandits wast surprisingly skilled, but Shirou managed to defend himself to some extent.” Mordred sounded happy, but there was also some annoyance mixed in his voice for some reason. “Did you see how he projected that sword. That was a mighty interesting show of projection magic.”


    “That is called 'projecting'?” Bedivere asked, lifting his eyebrows in surprise at Mordred's words.


    “Ay. It is a rather unussulal skill. Not many Magi use it. It is usually used when a Magus is in temporary need for an object that is not at hand, since a projected object always disappears after a while.” Mordred explained.


    “I would call being able to create a sword from thin air, rather useful in battle, I say.” Bedivere remarked. “You are rather knowledgeable about the subject.”


    “Well, if you consider who raised me...” Bedivere and Kay stared at Mordred with an expression of understanding as they recalled who had raised Mordred.


    “What are your thoughts about the matter, sir Kay?” Bedivere asked. Kay was frowning, and went into deep thought for a while.


    “What my thoughts are?” He sighed deeply. “I am not sure. Please excuse me.” Kay rode ahead towards Shirou and the king. Bedivere looked at Mordred in wonder. Mordred lifted his shoulders, equally clueless.


    “King Arthur, Shirou.” Kay rode beside Shirou.


    “Ah, sir Kay. Is there something you need?” Arturia asked.


    “I wanted to talk to Shirou for a bit if you don't mind.” Shirou and Arturia looked at each other for a moment.


    “Sure thing. What do you want to talk about?” Shirou looked Kay in the eyes.


    “Well, first of all. I wanted to thank you again for protecting the king. Not as a knight, but as her brother. Thank you for protecting my sister.” Kay bowed to Shirou, which made him blush.


    “Ehhh, you're welcome.” Shirou averted his gaze, slightly embarrassed.


    “Sir Kay, I don't mind you thanking him, but must I remind you not to refer to me like that out in the open. I am still the king.” Arturia looked back, in order to check if the others hadn't heard. A slight blush appeared on her cheeks.


    “I know dear sister. Please forgive me.” Kay smiled brightly. “It is only proper for a knight to thank the man who protected his little sister. Would you not agree, my king?” Arturia sighed in silent consent, albeit a little annoyed. “But I must say, Shirou, you were rather quick to throw yourself in front of her. I would even go as far to say as plain reckless.” Kay showed clear concern for Shirou's wellbeing.

    “My father always said that a real man shouldn't allow girls to get hurt. I don't need a reason to save a girl.” Shirou replied slightly embarrassed, but resolute. This made Kay laugh.


    “Well said.” Kay laughed. “But as her brother I will tell thee that you don't need to worry about her.”


    “I thank you, Sir Kay. Let me give you some advice, Shirou. You should worry about protecting others after you hast learned to fight yourself.” Arturia's expression turned stubborn. “Don't get me wrong Shirou. I am grateful, but I must confess that your action was bothersome. I have told you before, my gender is a trivial matter. Don't treat me, a warrior, as a woman.”


    Shirou looked away with a stubborn expression. “No I won't. I won't deny that you are a strong fighter, but you're still a girl. So don't get worked up about it. Besides, my dad thought me that girls shouldn't be fighting. And I agree with that. If necessary, I will do the fighting for you.” This surprised both Arturia and Kay.


    “You are being conceited, Shirou. You could barely defend your self from those bandits. How are you expecting to defend me like that. Are you trying to insult me?” Arturia glared at him in disbelief and frustration. Shirou returned the glare.
    Kay was looking from Shirou to Arturia and back again. He looked like a big brother whose younger siblings were arguing over who was right. They didn't speak for the rest of the trip. It was almost dark when they arrived at Camelot. However ...


    “What is happening in the village?” Bedivere suddenly said. Smoke was rising from the village and the orange glow of fire shone bright in the twilight.


    “Looks like a fire has broken out in the village. Let us hurry.” Arturia drove her horse into a sprint towards the village with the others hot on her heels. Shirou used strengthening on his eyes again. A large building was on fire. He could make out several villagers, soldiers and even some knights trying to put out the fire. It appeared that Lancelot and Gawain were directing the fire fighting effort.


    “It's the large building in the center of the village. Lancelot and Gawain are leading the fire fighters.” Shirou notified the king.


    “That must be the inn.” Mordred said. They arrived at the village a little later. It seems the fire hadn't been going for that long, but it had almost consumed the place completely. “First an ambush, now a fire. It is a busy day indeed.?”


    “My king.” Lancelot greeted the king on arrival.


    “Has the inn been evacuated completely?” She urgently asked Lancelot.


    “We are not sure. We believe that most of the occupants managed to evacuate. If anybody is still in there, they are surely dead by now. We have been giving it our all, but it seems the inn is lost. ” Lancelot reported. The king looked at the inn. She could only agree with Lancelot's assessment. Shirou was watching from a distance, when he saw a woman desperately trying to reach the inn, but she was held back by two men. Shirou went over to investigate.


    “Please, let me through!” She yelled as she desperately struggled to get passed the two men holding her back.


    “What is wrong over here?” He asked.


    “Please, you must help me! My daughter is still in there! We were staying at the inn. I ran out as soon as the fire broke out, but I lost my daughter along the way. I am afraid that she is still is inside!”


    “Do you have an idea where she might be?”


    “Our room was on the second floor, the second door on the right. But I don't know ...” Tears rolled over her eyes and started to struggle even harder.


    “It's too late! Anybody still in there is long dead.” One of the men said harshly.


    “I'll tell the king.” Shirou tried to reassure her. “Maybe he can do something.” Shirou ran over to the king. “Arturia, there is still somebody in there. A little girl is trapped inside.”


    “It is too late. The fire has progressed too far.” Lancelot said. His face was calm, but sad as he clearly had accepted the girl's fate. “There is nothing more we can do. Going in there now would be risking lives needlessly.”


    Shirou gritted his teeth. Arturia laid her hand on his shoulder. “Shirou. I hate to admit it, but Lancelot is right. It is too late now.” Shirou looked at her. Her face was as expressionless as always. Shirou turned and walked away.


    There had to be something he could do. His eyes fell upon a large sheet of cloth at a weavers shop. There lay. An idea formed in his head. He grabbed the sheet and soaked it in a nearby water barrel. He covered himself in it and dashed toward the open door of the inn.


    Lancelot, the king and Bedivere were busy delegating the fire fighting effort, so they didn't notice, until Shirou ran past them toward the inn.
    “Somebody stop him.” Lancelot ordered as he himself ran after Shirou. But Shirou had already made it inside. Lancelot followed him with lightning speed. However, he was forced to break off his pursuit when suddenly part of the ceiling collapsed and blocked the exit. Shirou was on his own now.


    The smoke stung his eyes and made it hard to breath. He had a hard time navigating. At this rate he was going to die here without achieving anything when suddenly an idea formed in his head. He placed his hand on the floor.


    “Trace on.” The hammer striked in his mind. When Shirou fixed appliances he used magecraft to analyze the inner structure of the malfunctioning object. So he thought it would be possible to analyze the layout of the inn in the same way. Shirou bit away the heat and focused. In his mind, the image of the building's layout formed. It worked. Now knowing were he had to go, Shirou dashed towards the second floor.


    The heat was unbearable, but Shirou pushed through. Luck was with him though, as the second floor wasn't yet completely consumed by the flames. There he saw her. The girl had passed out from the heat. Time was running out. He covered the girl in the wet sheet and made his way back to the ground floor. He was almost at the door when he noticed it was blocked. This is bad. He needs to get out and fast.


    “How foolish. What is he thinking?” Lancelot exclaimed in disbelief. “I am terribly sorry for not being able to stop him. I will accept any punishment you deems necessary.” Lancelot apologized to the king.


    “We will talk about this later, sir Lancelot. Let us first find a way to save him.” Arturia was worried. She admired his courage, even though it was foolish.


    “My king, the door to the store room is still free. Allow me to go after him.” Gawain proposed.


    “Are you certain, sir Gawain? I understand that you want to repay him for saving you, but this is reckless. Allow me to go with you.” Mordred offered. “The two of us would stand a better chance of getting him out.”


    Gawain looked at Mordred with surprise, but he soon nodded in approval. Suddenly a soldier called out. “My king, there he is.” He pointed at the entrance. There was Shirou carrying a child in his arms.


    “Clear the door way, by any means necessary.” The king commanded. Lancelot, Gawain, Bedivere and Mordred ran towards the entrance. But more debris fell, blocking the entrance further.


    “Out of the way.” Mordred kicked off and literally flew towards the entrance. “Stand back, Shirou!” Mordred shouted. Shirou had only a split second to react and create some distance between him and the entrance, as Mordred flew towards the entrance and with a mighty swing from his sword smashed the debris aside. Shirou watched the incredible display of strength in awe. “Do not keep standing there dumbfounded, get over here!!!”


    Mordred's shout brought Shirou back to reality. He ran towards Mordred at the entrance when suddenly the ceiling came down. There was no time, Shirou threw the girl to Mordred. “Catch her!!” Mordred caught the girl just in time. But the ceiling collapsed on top of Shirou. The last thing Shirou saw was Mordred retreating with the girl as the building started to collapse.
    Last edited by FSNdeluxe; May 4th, 2015 at 02:43 PM.

  14. #94
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Malgos's Avatar
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    The firing pin mistake is still going strong in this chapter. Also projection magecraft isn't really considered high level: Unless he was specifically referring to what Shirou is doing, even then I doubt he's far enough along yet to call it high level.

  15. #95
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    Fate/Stay Night: Across Time chapter 9

    Here is chapter 9 and 10

    Chapter 9


    Fate/stay Night: Across time


    Chapter 9: Resuming training

    A golden sword. Shirou dreamed once again about this sword. A shining, keen edge and a golden handle and cross guard, beautifully decorated. The gold and blue ornate handle and cross guard reflected the sunlight. The sword faded away and an open plain appeared. In the distance he saw the arena for a jousting tournament. He could hear the cheering and shouting from here.
    Then he saw the sword, planted firmly in a stone.
    I see. This must be the day when she pulled out the sword. And there he saw her, dressed as a boy, staring at the sword with determination. Arturia stretched out her arm to grab the sword.


    “You should think this through.” A voice said. She looked up. Merlin had appeared before her. “Because if you pulls out this sword, you shall no longer be human. You will be resented by all of humanity and die a miserable death.”


    A vision appeared of her dying alone on a hill. This would become her fate, the moment she pulls it out. But her eyes merely glowed more determined.


    “No.” She nodded firmly, even after having been shown the Fate that would await her.


    “Are you really alright with this?” He asked calmly.


    “Yes. Because … Many people were smiling. I don't believe this to be a mistake.”


    She took the sword with a firm grip. Merlin started to walk away.
    “But remember, Arturia. A miracle comes at a price. In exchange you will lose the thing most important to you.” Merlin left as Arturia pulled out the sword. The entire area became filled with a brilliant, golden light. In the distance, the cheering and shouting from the arena fell silent.


    Shirou understood. Arturia only wanted to protect everyone. To keep the people safe. But if she wants to accomplish this, she must throw away the emotion of 'wanting to protect the people'.


    One cannot protect the country, the people, as king if one has human emotions.
    Therefore she decided to trow away her heart. To suppress her emotions completely.
    She gave up her own happiness in order to safeguard the happiness of her people.


    She accepted this. Her heart won't change, even if she is abandoned, feared or betrayed.
    Arturia decided to protect, in exchange for her heart. This was something she kept strictly to herself. Nobody would know about such a sublime oath. She chose to fight. Even if solitary ruin awaited her at the end. She still decided to fight. No matter what.


    Shirou opened his eyes. What was that dream? No, these were memories, he somehow knew. Her memories. It was also strange. The sword she carried during the trip had been different from the sword she pulled from the stone. Even Merlin had looked different.


    Shirou looked around and found himself inside his room. How long has he been here? He looked out the window. The sun was already high in the sky, so he reckoned at least half a day. Voices could be heard in the next room. Suddenly the door opened and a servant came in.


    “My king, he's awake.” The servant said as soon as he saw Shirou. Arturia entered followed by Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot, Kay, Bedivere, Gawain, Mordred and even Agravain.


    “Shirou, how do you feel?” Arturia asked. Shirou tried to sit upright, but Mordred held him down.


    “Don't move, Shirou.” He said rather harshly. “You haven't fully recovered yet. Shees, that was admirable, but so damn reckless.”


    “What happened?” Shirou finally managed to ask. “How is the girl?”


    “Still worrying about the child, I see.” Gawain smiled in admiration. “Don't worry she is save, thanks to you.”


    “When the building came down, you had thrown the child in my arms. The collapse forced me to retreat or I and the child would hast been burried with you.” Mordred shook his head.


    “Luckily Merlin arrived in the nick of time.” Lancelot continued. “He used his magic to clear the flames and removed most of the obstacles, allowing us to dig you out of the rubble. But your wounds were severe. We thought you would die at any moment. Half your ribs were shattered and a piece of iron had ripped open your abdomen.”


    “Your healing ability is what saved you.” Bedivere took over, but he sounded unnerved. “It was strange. It looked like as if you were... 'pulled' together by blades. Layer upon layer of blades.” This revelation sounded unnerving indeed. “How do you feel?”


    “As good as can be, I guess. My body feels numb, though. And my arms have this burning sensation.”


    “I have treated your wounds, but given how fast they healed there was not much to do.” Merlin finished the explanation as he put down what seemed to be a traveling bag. “Afterwards we brought you here to recuperate. The numbness however is not caused by the injuries you had suffered.” Shirou looked at him questioningly. “I'll explain later. For now you must rest.” Merlin gave a hearty smile.


    “Shirou, there is something I wish to say to you.” Arturia made a difficult face for a moment, but then softened. “But first, there is someone who wishes to thank you.” She nodded to Kay. Kay walked to the door and opened it.


    “Ma'am, you and the child can come in now.” Kay stepped aside. The child and her mother entered. The child looked a bit pale, but otherwise healthy.


    “Emiya Shirou. I am glad that ye are safe.” The woman made a bow. “My name is Ailletha. And this my daughter Eda. You have my eternal gratitude for saving my daughter.” Eda walked over to Shirou. However she clearly hadn't fully recovered as she stumbled. Arturia caught her before she fell over.


    “You must take it easy, child. You have not yet fully recovered.” She helped her walk over to Shirou.


    “Thank ye, Emy'a Shi'ou, fo' saving me.” She handed him a flower, smiling brightly. “I picked this for you.”


    Shirou smiled and patted her on the head, as he accepted the flower. “Thank you, Eda. But seeing that you are alright is more then enough for me.” Eda blushed and looked at the ground timidly.


    “Now, what I wanted to say to you, Shirou.” Arturia looked at him firmly. “It was certainly a valiant deed, to brave the flames in order to save her. But as Mordred already said, it was far to reckless. You came this close to death yourself. I say, you should not have charged in so recklessly!”


    “King Artha? Are you saying that Shi'ou shouldn't have saved me?” Eda asked confused.


    “No, I am not saying that, dear child.” Arturia's expression was apologetic. “I am just saying that... he did not think it through. If things had gone wrong, we would have had to lay two people to rest.” She sighed. Some of the others present nodded in agreement. Suddenly Eda started coughing. Her mother quickly took her in her arms.


    “The child still needs to rest.” Merlin stood up. “I will provide some medicine to speed her recovery.” He motioned the mother and her child to follow him.


    “Please do, Merlin. Milady Ailletha, you may remain in the castle until Eda is fully healed.” Arturia said in her usually calm manner. “Sir Bedivere, please escort them.”


    “It is my pleasure, my king.” Bedivere bowed. “Please follow us. I will show you to your accommodations.”


    “Thank ye.” She lifted up Eda and walked to the door, there she stopped and looked back to Shirou. “Emiya Shirou, words can not express my gratitude. I will talk to my husband. He will surely reward ye handsomely.”


    Shirou smiled. “No need miss Ailletha. I saved her because I wanted to. There was no other reason. Knowing that others are happy because I could help them, makes me happy.” Ailletha was not sure how to respond.


    “Now I see.” Arturia said as she understood what Shirou meant. “I thought it was strange, but now I understand.” She smiled for a moment. It was a warm, gentle smile. A beautiful smile brought forth by genuine happiness. Shirou saw the surprise on everybody faces.


    “Ah, king Artha smiled.” Eda said with a cheerful voice.


    “Everybody, I believe Shirou needs his rest, as does Eda. Let us leave.”


    “You heard, the king. Let us bother him no longer.” Gawain urged them.


    Bedivere guided Ailletha and Eda to their quarters, followed by Merlin. Mordred bid Shirou good day and left together with Agravain. Gawain, Kay and Lancelot left with Guinevere.


    “Now rest, Shirou. I will have Everill prepare a meal for you.” Arturia left the room. Shirou laid himself down to sleep.


    “Ma, king Artha smiled.” Eda repeated happily.
    Ailletha smiled back at her. “The king sure did.”


    “Indeed, the king smiled.” Bedivere too was smiling brightly, after the initial surprise.


    “Is that a rare thing, Sir Bedivere?” Ailletha asked in surprise. Bedivere looked at her with an elated expression.


    “Milady Ailletha, are you aware of how much king Arthur has done for us?” He asked seriously.


    Ailletha was surprised by the question. “Well, King Arthur is exalted as the most righteous and wisest king there is. He defeated the invaders and brought stability to the kingdom. The king brought peace and prosperity to the country.”


    “Indeed. And I take great pride in serving the king and therefor work hard to support him. I have worked hard for years to earn my place at the kings side.” Bedivere sighed. “The king has done so much for us and therefore he should be reward more than anybody else.” Ailletha listened attentively.
    “That is my wish. That the king who did so much for our country to achieve the happiness he deserves. But that wish has gone unanswered. For all the years I stood at his side, I have never seen the king smile or cry. That is until today.”


    Bedivere was overcome with joy. His king who had never smiled before, had finally smiled. And it was because of Emiya Shirou. This stranger had brought a smile to the king. In his heart, Bedivere understood that this stranger from a distant land could bring happiness to the king. And he, Bedivere, would ensure the young man's safety to that end. Merlin followed silently, with an unsure smile.


    And Bedivere wasn't the only one who was pleased by it. “Did you witness that, sir Lancelot?” Guinevere asked, still in disbelief.


    “Yes, milady Guinevere. This is the first time the king has smiled. As far as I know, that is.” Lancelot too, was surprised by all this. “What are you thoughts on the matter, sir Gawain?” But Gawain was not sure as to what to say. He was frowning, as if to discern what just had happened.


    “I have been his spouse for years, and not even I have ever seen him smile like that.” Guinevere was not sure what to make of it. “Humhh? Sir Kay? Are you crying?”


    Lancelot and Gawain turned to look at Kay. He was crying. There were no tears, but his eyes were watery and what's more, it was obviously he was crying from joy. Now they thought about it, he was king Arthur's foster brother.


    “It has been almost ten years.” Kay wiped the tears from his eyes. “Almost ten years. I knew him from since he was just a babe. We grew up as brothers and loved each other as such. But ever since he pulled the sword from the stone, he had henceforth never smiled again. I was starting to think, I would never see that smile again.”
    Kay smiled from ear to ear. “Milady, Sirs. If you will pardon me.” Kay walked away, with a spring to his pace. She smiled. Arturia had finally smiled again.


    Others however, were not sure what to make of it. “Hmmm, I believe this is the first time I saw the king smile. By now, I believed the king was incapable of showing emotions.” Agravain pexpressed, his brow frowning.
    Mordred simply walked silently beside him. It was true. His father had shown emotions for the first time, ever since Mordred can remember. And for some reason, it made him feel frustrated.
    “By the way, I have something interesting to tell you about Sir Lancelot and the queen.” Mordred looked at Agravain's smiling face.


    The next day Shirou woke up well rested, even though he still felt a little sore. He had recovered quite fast from a wound which should have meant near instant death. The fact that he healed fast was indeed something very handy, but it still was a bit unsettling.


    He washed himself and put on the new tunic that was left behind. It was bright red embroidered with black dragon on the left chest. When he left the room, he immediately ran into Bedivere. He was sitting by the fire place, reading a book. He looked up when Shirou entered.


    “Good morning, Emiya Shirou.” Bedivere gave him a gentle smile. He looked like he was in a particulary good mood. “You must be hungry. Coincidently, It's just time for breakfast. Since you are awake in time, the king would like to invite you to breakfast.”


    Shirou suppressed a yawn. “I would be happy too.” He stretched himself out. “Please lead the way, Bedivere-san.” Bedivere happily escorted Shirou to the king. “Say, how is Eda doing?”


    Bedivere looked at Shirou, his face still looking happy. “Still thinking of others wellbeing , I see. Haha. She is doing alright. Merlin says that she will be fully recovered before the day is over. She is currently eating with her mother. Her father is also here. He was worried sick when I saw him. He eased down when he realized that Eda was going to be alright.” Shirou was happy to hear that.


    When they arrived, the king and queen were already sitting at the table, along with Kay and Merlin.


    “Ah, Shirou, sir Bedivere. Good that you are able to join us. Please have a seat.” said Guinevere graciously. Bedivere and Shirou took place at the table. Soon the servants came, bringing the breakfast.


    “Everybody enjoy the meal.” Arturia's expression was as calm as ever. “How are you feeling, Shirou?”


    “Much better, thank you. But I still feel numb.” Shirou scooped up some of the vegetable soup. He had some difficulty holding his spoon due to the numbness.


    “You had been very brave, saving the girl from that inferno. Not to mention saving sir Gawain twice and shielding my husband.” Guinevere spoke with admiration for Shirou's heroics. “I would say he has earned a sizable reward for his actions by now. Would you not agree, my king?”


    Arturia nodded in agreement. “Indeed, milady Guinevere. I was thinking the same thing. Shirou, it is about time that you received a proper reward.” She looked at Shirou intensely. Her eyes saying that she wouldn't allow him to turn it down. “Eda's father is determined to reward you for saving his daughter. You should know that he is the most talented and skilled bowyer in the land. He knows that you have considerable skill with archery and therefor he offers to craft you a masterpiece with all of his knowledge and skills. To that end I will grant him the finest materials to work with. Even Merlin has offered his help in it's creation.”


    Shirou gulped. That will be some bow. “That really isn't necessary.” He said nervously. “Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the offer. But the truth is, I don't need a reward. Seeing that Eda is safe is good enough for me. Besides, once I return home I would not have any need for it. It would just be collecting dust.”


    “Shirou, you saved his daughter's life. And in return he offers you a masterpiece of the kind of which, he won't ever make another in his live. Refusing this gift would be rather rude.” Merlin scolded Shirou. “And I say you have earned this gift. There is no reason for you to not accept it. Even if you would never use it.” Shirou let the words sink in.


    “Alright then. I accept.” Shirou took a bit of bread and soaked it in the soup. “By the way, Merlin. What about my magic training?” Merlin drank some water, staring in the distance with a dreamy smile. “Merlin!”


    “What? Ah, yes! Your training.” Merlin took his bag and opened it. Shirou looked inside. It contained numerous books, ingredients and potions, along with other tools. Shirou thought it odd for all those things to be contained in such a small bag. “Space distortion spell.” He explained when he saw Shirou staring. “Ah, here it is.” He procured a familiar looking knife.


    “Is that ...” Shirou started.


    “... the knife you projected some days ago? Yes indeed.” Merlin eyes gleamed from excitement. “I must say, your projection is very unusual ... and interesting.”


    “Excuse me, Merlin. But could you explain it to us as well?” Guinevere inquired as the other's too where interested in what Merlin had to say.


    “Ah, of course milady Guinevere.” Merlin cleared his voice. “You must know that there are three ways to use magical energy for transmutation, the manipulation of materials. Strengthening, which means improving the properties of an object. Like making a candle shine brighter for example. Then there is Alteration. Giving an object a property it did not had before. And lastly is Projection. Meaning creating objects from Prana.”


    Everybody listened attentively to Merlin. “While strengthening and alteration are commonly used, projection is not. This is because objects made from prana always disappear after a short while. It also less efficient. It is therefore only used to create an object that one only needs temporarily, but doesn't have on hand. Using it for anything else is considered folly.” Merlin turned his attention to Shirou and held up the knife. “Our guest Shirou however is able to project items for an extended period of time. He projected this knife, albeit incomplete, days ago and it still remains.” Merlin let his explanation sink in.


    “During our fight with the bandits, he projected a sword.” Kay remembered. “I must say that is pretty handy during sticky situations.”


    “Not surprising? That was the reason why you are feeling numb. Because you suddenly projected such a complete item you flooded circuits that have been dormant for a long time. You were lucky that you only projected a simple sword. Shees! You could have lost an arm.” Merlin chided him. “Anyway ... Shirou, I am sorry that I did not explain it to you sooner. I was engrossed by my study of this knife. And also, I have been investigated the portal through which you have arrived.” Merlin explained enthusiastically. Shirou's heart accelerated a little when Merlin mentioned the portal.


    “Have you found it?” He asked excited, to which Merlin nodded.
    “It is still closed however. We might have missed it opening a few times. However, I have replaced the barrier with my own and placed some familiars as sentries. I will know immediately if the portal opens.” This eased Shirou a bit.


    “The others are definitely worried sick by now.” Shirou sighed at the thought. He has been here for more then a week now.


    “Not necessarily. From what I have learned is that, when one returns to their own time, they will arrive not much later from when they first stepped through.” Merlin reassured. This made Shirou's heart skip a beat.


    “Are you sure about that, Merlin?” Kay inquired while stroking his goatee.


    “I am. The magi from his age have recorded it in that red book. They believe it is a failsafe from the flow of time in order to keep everything in order. However, the time between the moment one has left and one returns will grow larger the longer one remains in the other era.” Merlin's expression grew serious. “About one or two days per month. Shirou has been here for almost a fortnight, so he should return about half a day, a day later then when he left. So no need to worry, OK?” He gave an overly cheerful smile. Shirou hadn't interacted with Merlin much, but he was beginning to believe that Merlin was a lot more childish than he had heard.


    “That is good to hear. I am sure that we will be able to send mister Shirou back to his own time before his friends and family get worried.” Guinevere said calmly. “Do you feel reassured now, mister Shirou?” She folded her hands and smiled at him.


    “Yeah, it sure is a relief. But I must say, I would miss you guys. It has been rather interesting meeting you all.” Shirou grinned. “But now is not the time to say goodbye.” Shirou finished his plate. “Thank you for the food. By the way, is Mordred here somewhere? I'll be staying for a while longer, so maybe I could continue my training with him.”


    “Sir Mordred has left the castle yesterday. He said he had to take care of some personal affairs.” Arturia stated calmly. “Before he left, he bid you a speedy recovery. He also said that, should you wish to continue your training, you should ask someone else in the meantime.”


    “Bedivere, why don't you help him train?” Kay suddenly proposed. “I would like to do it myself. however the king has requested my assistance with the finances.”


    Bedivere smiled happily. “I would have offered myself regardless. What do you say, mister Shirou?”


    “Thank you. I'm looking forward to train with you.” Everybody had finished their breakfast and prepared to leave. “Say, Kay-san. Do you often help the king with the finances?” Shirou asked out of curiosity.


    “Indeed, I do.” Kay straightened his back. “I also advise him on other affairs as well, especially concerning management.”


    “This is true.” Arturia confirmed with a satisfied look. “When it comes to handling the finances and management of the kingdom, there is none other I trust more then sir Kay. While I am considered unmatched with the sword, he is unmatched with words.”


    “Indeed, he is.” Bedivere added with a grin. “There is even a rumor going on that he could even shock fire dragons to return where they came from with his oratory skills.” Everybody chuckled.


    “Please, sir Bedivere.” Kay blushed slightly.


    “While the rumor is exaggerated, he most certainly is a skilled at diplomacy and management. He is man who has a clear understanding of his own capabilities. I am most fortunate to have him at my side.” Arturia stated proudly, which made Kay smile.


    “Well, then I am off to my tower. Shirou, I will see thee after dinner, so doth not be late.” Merlin grabbed his bag when Shirou noticed something.


    “Say, Merlin.” Merlin turned to Shirou. “What is it?”


    Shirou pointed to the two pieces of white cloth inside his bag. “What were those pieces odd cloth for?” Merlin got a slight blush, like a child that was caught doing something naughty, but without regret. Kay glanced in the bag and sighed.


    “He did it again?” Arturia clasped her hands together and sighed heaily. Guinevere shook her head in displeasure.


    “He did it again.” Kay confirmed. “Merlin! How many times do we have to tell you to stop stealing women's undergarments.” He sounded like father berating his disobedient child.


    “Those two girls were rather eager. One should always have time for love. There is nothing more important than that.” Merlin grinned, not feeling ashamed or guilty in the slightest. They all shook their heads in exasperation.


    Several moments later, Shirou and Bedivere were standing in the trainings hall. They had already taken up their training swords.


    “So, mister Shirou. Let us see what sir Mordred has taught you up until now.” Bedivere had become completely focused. There was only room for seriousness. Shirou took his stance and attacked. As expected, Bedivere was just as skilled as Mordred. He parried every strike Shirou made. He didn't counterattack, but merely defended as he was observing Shirou's technique.


    “Alright, you may stop.” Bedivere said after a while. “I must say, Shirou. You executed your strikes rather well, but I get the feeling that this way of fighting doesn't really suit you.” Bedivere remarked. He passed around for a bit, pondering.


    “How so?” Bedivere's statement had surprised him. He hadn't been practicing that long, so how could Bedivere possibly know that?


    “I am not sure myself. I would say that you don't have the talent for this style of fighting and I think Mordred would have noticed this as well.” Bedivere sank deeper into thought. “However, I am sure that we will find a way to resolve this. In the mean time we will continue as we are now. Now, have at thee.”


    Shirou took a defensive stance as Mordred had taught him. Bedivere came at him fast, but Shirou reckoned he was holding back. His strikes were fast and precise. Shirou did his utmost to defend himself and tried to counterattack. Bedivere didn't hit as hard as Mordred did, but he still let Shirou feel it when he made a mistake. Which, of course, happened the entire time. In between, Bedivere instructed Shirou on how he could improve and what he did wrong.


    By the time they finished several hours had passed. Shirou's body was hurting all over from the blows he had received. Bedivere handed him a mug with water, which he quickly drank.


    “Tell me, mister Shirou. How does my method of training compare to sir Mordred's?” Bedivere inquired.


    “Hmmm. He usually gives a demonstration first, then he lets me try. During which he corrects any mistakes I make. After which we spar. I will say that Mordred is more physical in his approach during sparring. He hits me a lot harder than you did, and even throws in a shoulder charge or two and such.” Shirou's body ached a bit as he recalled his sessions with Mordred. “In the end, I would say he is a good teacher in his own way.”


    Bedivere nodded as to affirm it. “I see. Judging from what you just told me, I would say that Mordred's training is more directed at giving thee an early combat experience. Most of the others would do that, after their students hast progressed further.”


    Shirou did had that impression when sparring with Mordred. Then he recalled the fight with bandits the other day. “But you know, during that ambush the other day … The way Mordred fought back then. It was completely different from what he had thought me.”


    Bedivere frowned at the memory. “I know what you mean. I have seen him fight that way in battle. I was quite shocked when I saw him fight like that. He used to fight much more elegantly. A truly savage way of fighting, but undeniably effective.” Bedivere sounded displeased. “A knight should not fight in such a way.” He murmured.


    “It was...brutal.” Shirou admitted. “But what amazed me more though, was the strength which Arturia and Mordred displayed.” Shirou's tone changed to admiration. “How can they posses such strength, with such a small frame?”


    Bedivere's face turned serious. “Are you aware that the king carries the Element of the Dragon?” Shirou tried to remember. The legend did mentioned something like that. He nodded in confirmation. “Because of that the King possesses a tremendous amount of Prana. He can use this Prana to reinforce his body and increase his strength. And when you consider that Mordred is the King's son, it is possible that he inherited this trait from him.”


    “That explains a lot.” Shirou shrugged his shoulders. No wonder she can use such strength.


    Bedivere looked outside and noticed that the sun was almost at its zenith. “Oh my. It is noon already.” Bedivere remarked. “You should go and grab something to eat, if you wish to be in time for Merlin's training.” Shirou nodded.


    “I'll do that. Thank you for your time, Sir Bedivere.” Bedivere nodded with a smile. Shirou's stomach growled.


    After dinner, Shirou went to Merlin's tower. It has to be said that the food here had improved quite well during the time Shirou has been here. He knocked on the door on arrival.


    “Enter.” Merlin responded and Shirou entered. Merlin was busy working on some potions.


    “Please sit down. I will be with you momentarily.” He pointed to the table by which they practiced strengthening the last time. Several objects were lying on the table. Shirou walked up to the table and sat down on a stool.


    Shirou was curious about what Merlin was making. “What are you making over there?”


    Merlin looked to Shirou. “Some magic potions. There art some for increasing ones physical abilities, some to breath underwater and this one here is a powerful sleeping potion.” He pointed to several crystal flasks with purple, green and yellow liquid respectively. Then he dropped some clear liquid into the yellow liquid, which promptly became clear as well. “And finished.” Merlin grinned satisfied and put the flasks, all but three, one of each, on a shelve. The other three went into his bag.


    “Now we may begin your training.” He walked to Shirou with some spring in his step. “Let me tell thee, that I wast surprised when I learned that you projected a sword, the other day.” Merlin clasped his hands together. “Would you care to demonstrate that again for me?”


    Shirou felt nervous before Merlin's excitement. “Fine, I'll try it.” He began to focus and activated his circuit. “Trace on.” The image of a sword appeared inside his head. His circuit traced across his right hand as it began to glow and …. The magical energy flowed out of him and formed into a sword.


    When he was finished, he looked at the sword weighed it in his hand. It felt just as a real sword. He began to smile as it got through to him.


    “Impressive. However ...” Merlin took a sword from the table, then he began to chant a spell. “Rise and fight.” The sword began to float in the air. “Shirou, please take a fighting stance.”


    Shirou saw were Merlin was going and quickly took his stance. Merlin waved his hand and the sword swung at him. It hit the projected sword with great power. Shirou reckoned that this power would equal to that of a knight, like Bedivere or Mordred, who used all his power. A shock went through his arms for a moment and the projected sword was shattered. Merlin landed the sword back on the table as Shirou's sword dissipated into thin air. A mischievous smile played around Merlin's lips.


    “Projection requires having an accurate image and understanding of the object in your head. If not, then the projected will be flawed and shatter just like that.” Merlin lectured. Shirou understood what he meant. If one wants to project an object, one must first try to imagine it as it is in reality and have a clear understanding of it. The better the Magus' imagination and understanding of the object, the better the projection.


    “So, I take it we will practicing like this for a while then?” Shirou inquired.


    “Yes, partially. Most of your practice will consist of repeating projection. Besides that I will try and find a way help improve your ability to commit the properties and appearance of objects to your memory.” Merlin was frowning as he began to sink into thought. “But for now we will keep practicing the projection.”


    And thus they practiced projection for the rest of the day. Most objects ended up hollow, but some of them were projected rather well. As expected, swords in particular were the most complete. Before he left, Merlin had instructed him to practice his projection whenever possible.


    Todays lesson was a long one and all that projection has made him tired. So he decided to eat in the in the mess hall. The hall was almost empty, except for a few soldiers. He got a simple, but delicious stew for supper and was enjoying it gratefully.


    Meanwhile in the ruined fortress. It had taken him less time than expected to arrive. Mordred rode through the gate and jumped of immediately when the horse stopped. A soldier hurried over and took over the reigns. Mordred started towards the barracks when three men came to greet him.


    “Ah, Sir Mordred. I hope you had a pleasant trip.” The Commander said calmly. “To what do we owe this surprise visit? Nothing troublesome, I hope?”


    “Good to see you too, Commander. And you as well Giraud,... Beves.” They could hear the suppressed anger in Mordred's voice. “To answer your question, Commander, I am here because some blinking idiot decided to ambush the king, in an attempt to kidnap Emiya Shirou. Forcing me to kill several of our men.” The Commander's face darkened indicating that he knew who did it.


    “Commander, Where is Dunstan?” Mordred's tone made it clear that he would accept no excuses.


    “This way, sir Mordred.” The Commander led the way. “So, Dunstan attacked you and the king? That explains why returned with only two of his men and a shattered cleaver. When he said that he went to stage an ambush, I reckoned it would be another weapons transport, so I paid no heed. But to attack the king! What brought him to do that?”


    “Eh, excuse me Commander, but who is this Dunstan?” Beves had gotten curious, since he did not know many of the other groups who were part of the growing rebellion.


    The Commander lifted an eyebrow as looked at Beves. “I am amazed that you don't know of him as he is the most infamous bandit in the kingdom. He is the most dangerous and heartless man you would ever encounter, I can swear to that.” The Commander had brushed with Dunstan and his band a couple of times in the past, each time ended with a slaughter.


    “Dunstan is the leader of the largest band of outlaws in the country and he is, as the Commander just had said, brutal. He only cares about himself and has an extreme penchant for destruction. And it is said that he had even murdered his own sister.” Giraud continued. “I recall how I have once witnessed how he massacred an entire village. And during the Saksen invasions he fought on the side of the invaders. He is also extremely smart as he has evaded capture for more than ten years and is capable of concocting effective strategies.” All this made Beves feel afraid. They had such a dangerous man working with them?


    “Indeed. He is also a capable fighter, who's skill could match that of a knight. I would prefer to see him dead though.” Mordred grumbled. “It was my mother who brought him to our cause, but those who know of him can all agree that he would betray us at any moment and for any reason he chooses.”


    They arrived at the forge. The smith was working on a large cleaver-like sword while a tall, heavily armored man watched. He turned around as he felt the group approach. Beves couldn't help but feel intimidated. No, terrified was more appropriate.


    “Sir Mordred. I take it you are here regarding the ambush I staged the other day.” His voice was deep and calm. Mordred walked up to him.


    “Remove your helmet, Dunstan.” Mordred's voice was dangerously low. Dunstan stood up. He was more than six foot tall, towering above Mordred, but Mordred was not intimidated in the least. Beves was surprised when Dunstan removed his helmet as he had imagined him with a hard face and scared all over, but such was not the case. Dunstan had fair features, and large square chin. His hair was pitch black and hang onto his shoulders. It were his eyes that drew the most attention. When Beves looked in to those pale, ice-blue eyes, he could only feel dread. Cruel, heartless, without a shred of compassion.


    “Glad that you are aware. Now explain!” Mordred said impatiently. “I thought you were smarter than that. Why did you do that?” Dunstan remained calm


    “Because milady Morgan le Fay had commanded it.” Dunstan said with indifference. “I was against it, but when it comes to the king, milady Morgan can be quite obstinate.” Mordred growled.


    “Mother did? I should have known.” He said with agitation. “I take it she is in her workshop?”


    “By last account, she was.” The Commander replied. Mordred stormed off, leaving the Commander, Giraud, Beves and Dustan behind. The Commander turned to Dunstan. “So you were supposed to kidnap the stranger. Emiya Shirou, was it?” Dunstan merely nodded. “Any idea as to why Milady gave the order to abduct him?”


    Dunstan looked the 'Commander' in the eye. His gaze was as calm as it was cold. One found more warmth in the eyes of a dead man. Dunstan piercing gaze had made many a man back down from fear alone. Luckily the Commander was hardened enough to resist it. “Milady Morgan believes that the king has taken a liking to this stranger and as you are aware … “


    “She loves to destroy the things the king cares about whenever an opportunity presents itself.” The Commander finished the sentence as he shook his head.


    “And then there is this fact about him knowing about this Holy Grail.” Dunstan continued. Beves, Giraud and the Commander looked at each other with intrigue. They had heard rumors about the boy knowing something about the location of the Holy Grail. And about a supposed war in order to obtain it.


    Soldiers jumped aside as Mordred stormed towards Morgan's workshop situated in the basement. By the time Mordred had reached his mother's workshop, he felt merely exasperated. Morgan was an intelligent and powerful Magus, but when it came to his father, she could be rather reckless at times.


    “Mother!” Morgan turned around when Mordred stormed in. “Care to explain yourself?”


    Morgan regarded Mordred with mild surprise. “I think you know well enough why I did it. Your father has taken a liking to him and besides that … The information about the Holy Grail you had gained from him is inadequate. Therefor I ordered for him to be brought here, so I could retrieve the knowledge myself.”


    “That is unnecessary. He answers all my questions because he does not see any harm in doing so. Furthermore, I am certain that he did not knew that much to begin with.” Mordred knew very well of the methods his mother would employ and he would not wish such fate onto anyone.


    Morgan eyes widened and a broad smile appeared on her face. “Ha, you have taken a liking to him as well, have you not?”


    “I like his stubbornness. And he is also brave enough to risk his life for others, a quality that is extremely rare amongst magi. But that is besides the issue. You have caused us unnecessarily trouble.” Mordred complained loudly. Morgan merely made a pouting face. “I know it is of no use telling you this, but try and refrain from such actions.” Mordred turned around and left, knowing that his mother would not heed his words.



    Chapter 10

    Fate/stay Night: Across time

    Chapter 10: A Royal Gift


    It has been four days since he had resumed his training with Merlin. His numbness was gone now. Merlin assured him that projecting would now much smoother now his circuits were opened. That is as long he doesn't overdo it. During this time he practiced his projecting constantly, like projecting chopsticks during meal times and other simple things. Shirou was waiting in the training hall for Bedivere. Today Shirou was planning to use his projection during training. If all went well, Bedivere would be in for a surprise.


    “Ah, Shirou. You are early today. If I had known, I would have come earlier myself.” Bedivere didn't come alone, accompanied by Gawain and another knight were accompanying him. The other knight was not wearing his armor. He wore a bright green tunic, embroidered with a climbing Lion. His face had an elegant face and his blue eyes shone brightly. His blond hair and beard were neatly kept short.


    “But before we begin, let me introduce to you, sir Tristan.”


    “A pleasure to meet you, mister Emiya.” Tristan spoke with a jovial tone and extended his hand. He strikes Shirou as a person who always looked at the glass half full.


    Shirou shook his hand and returned the smile. “A pleasure to meet you too, sir Tristan.”


    “I have already heard about your exploits from my fellow knights. Nothing to scoff at if you ask me. Although I must admit they sounded a bit reckless.” His voice turned a little more serious for a moment. “Would you mind if Gawain and I observe your training?”


    “No, not at all.” Shirou said smiling before he turned to face Bedivere. “Shall we begin then, sir Bedivere?”


    “An excellent idea.” Bedivere walked over to the rack to grab some training swords.


    “You only need to take one, Bedivere.” Shirou said suddenly. Gawain, Tristan and Bedivere looked Shirou with curious surprise.


    “Ohh. Are you planning to train without a sword?” Tristan asked in amusement.


    “Not really.” Shirou smiled cryptic. “Trace on.” A training sword appeared in a flash. This lifted some eyebrows.


    “Impressive. Do you think that it will hold out?” Gawain whistled softly.


    “Shall we find out?” Shirou took his fighting stance. Bedivere smiled as he faced Shirou.


    “Yes, we shall.” Bedivere grinned and began his attack. Bedivere began slowly, but he upped his pace very fast. Shirou managed to block a few strikes, but most still came through, as always. His projected sword lasted quite long to Shirou's relief.


    “Your sword is holding out rather well, I believe.” Bedivere remarked. “And your skill has improved a little as well. I am going to up the bar a little.” And sure enough. Bedivere's pace increased even further, as did the strength in his attacks. At one point Bedivere went for Shirou's left arm with some power. This one was going to hurt.


    At that instance, Shirou remembered the small buckler shields he had seen lying around and he reacted fast. “Trace on!” And he projected a small buckler shield in his left hand and blocked Bedivere's blow. Bedivere's eyes widened in surprise and while the shield shattered. Tristan and Gawain were both smiling from amusement and approval as the attack was still nullified.


    “Well, well. That certainly was a surprise, Shirou.” Bedivere grinned. “It seems your magic has improved somewhat too.”


    “Thank you. But it only lasted for a single attack. My sword is at it's limits too, by the way.” Shirou looked at his sword as it disappeared.


    “Indeed. That was some quick thinking you did.” Tristan grinned broadly, clapping his hands. Gawain too, gave a small applause.


    “It is a very useful skill indeed. No doubt it will certainly save your live. Why don't you two take a small break.” Gawain proposed as he took some mugs and filled them with water. Only now Shirou noticed how thirsty he was.


    “Mind if we join you?” A voice called out. From the courtyard, three knights entered. They were Kay, Mordred and an old knight which Shirou hadn't seen yet. The old knight's hair was completely gray. His eyes, as Shirou noticed, looked exactly like Kay's. The knight's armor looked old, but it was well maintained.


    “That was some interesting magic you used, Shirou.” Mordred sounded amused. “You would be the first Magus that I know of, who fights at melee range. You certainly are more suited for an open confrontation. Not unlike those other Magi who skulk in the shadows.” Mordred had given some minor compliments during their training together, but this is the first time that he actually praised him. Something that didn't went unnoticed.


    “Did I hear that correctly or is there something wrong with my ears? Because I believe that sir Mordred has just given praise to someone.” Tristan was clearly baffled, but also amused in a way.


    “Indeed, he did.” Said Gawain, lifting his eyebrows in surprise.


    “I never knew that you could praise anybody, sir Mordred.” Said Bedivere smiling in somewhat delightful surprise.


    “Tssst! Are you guys looking for a fight? Of course I give praise to others...when it's due.” Mordred said somewhat grumbling.


    “Hahaha! Alright break it up you guys.” The old knight laughed loudly. “In any case. What sir Mordred says is true, young man. Magi never fight with physical force, because they consider it beneath them.” The old knight grinned. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sir Ector. Sir Kay's father and knight of the round table.” He extended his hand.


    “A pleasure to meet you, sir Ector. You said you are sir Kay's father? Then you are also the king's foster-father, aren't you?” Shirou concluded as he shook his hand.


    “That I am.” Ector said with a serious tone and a satisfied smile. “I heard of your deeds. Saving sir Gawain from an ambush. Saving a girl from a fire and shielding the king. And you have only been here for a little more than a fortnight ago. I must say, I am a little impressed.”


    “Now that is rare. The great sir Ector is impressed.” Gawain laughed. “That is something only a few could manage to do, even if it's just a little bit.”


    “Indeed it is.” Kay remarked nodding heavily. “My father is not easily impressed. So I congratulate you, Emiya Shirou.” Bedivere and Mordred nodded amused in agreement.


    “Okay, that is enough.” Ector said with faked annoyance, before he returned his attention to Shirou. “I heard you have been receiving training from Mordred and Merlin. Tell me, mister Emiya. Has Merlin pulled any pranks on you yet?” Ector narrowed his eyes.


    “No, luckily not. It seems he has not made such a decision yet.” Shirou smiled nervously.


    “Then, you have been lucky so far.” Ector sounded a little relieved, but oddly enough also a little disappointed. “We just witnessed the results of another of his pranks. He did something to the some of the guards, causing them to behave like roosters. They have been locked up until it wears off.”


    After hearing this, Bedivere and Kay shook their heads in exasperation. Mordred sighed heavily. “In any case. Mister Shirou, I have a message for you.” Ector continued. “This afternoon the king will be holding a ceremony in your honor.”


    Shirou eye's widened with surprise. The knights however seemed to be expecting it. From the looks on their faces “You will receive a gift in honor of your deeds. So I suggest you tidy up for your big moment.”


    “This is great, mister Shirou.” Tristan slapped his shoulder. The others too were happy with the news. “You have proven yourself, so it is only proper for you to receive a reward.”


    “It is about time.” Gawain grinned, crossing his arms and nodding.


    “Wonderful news!” Bedivere exclaimed. “I hear the weapon is to be a masterpiece. One of a kind. I hope you will be able to put it to good use, Shirou.”


    “We'll see.” Shirou replied unsure.


    “It will be a great moment for you, none the less. But if you don't mind, I would like to return to the matter of your projection magic? We still have some time.” Mordred changed the subject. After witnessing Shirou projecting the shield and sword, his curiosity was aflame. And it seemed the others were curious as well. “I would like to know how far you can go with you projecting? I am rather curious.”


    “Ohh. It seems to be a rather interesting conversation is taking place.” Everybody turned around. Merlni walked towards them with a sprightly spring in his pace. “May I ask what the subject is all about?”


    “Ah, Shirou used projection to create a sword and shield during the training.” Bedivere explained. “It was quite intriguing and so we have become rather curious as to how far Shirou could go with it.”


    “I can imagine. What do you say, Shirou?” Merlin asked with a playful grin.


    “Well, I don't mind. I am actually curious myself. So why not?” Shirou shrugged his shoulders.


    “Alright, but be careful. If you overdo it, it will go really wrong, really fast.” Merlin warned him with a dark look. Then his face brightened up again. “And remember to focus on the image as I told you.” He said with an air-headed smile. Shirou nervously nodded in confirmation. At this point even soldiers and some servants had gathered around them. Curious about what is going on.


    “Is that not the lad who saved Gawain and that girl?” The soldiers were whispering. “Ay, he is. I hear the king will be rewarding him today for his actions.” They were pushing each other in order to get a better view. “Indeed. I saw him creating a sword from thin air. Shht. He is going to do it again.”


    Shirou started by creating a sword, then a battle-axe. He continued with bows, crossbows, halberds and two-handed swords. It was quite taxing. “Alright. I will try some armor now.” He was already beginning to sweat some more. “ He created some buckler shields and plate armor. “It seems that armor cost me a lot more energy to make.” Shirou was now starting to pant.


    “You should stop. You are wearing yourself out needlessly.” Kay urged him. The other's nodded in agreement.


    “Perhaps you're right. But I want to make just one more. You're going to love this.” Shirou started to focus, while the others looked on. They were eager to see what he was going to make, but also worried as Shirou was visibly exerting himself. Merlin who had looked on with a cheerful smile, had suddenly gotten very tense.


    He fidget around nervously. Is he really planning to do such a thing?


    Shirou was now giving his all. His body felt hot and his head was throbbing. “Shirou that's enough!” Merlin had stepped forward and stopped him. “That's enough Shirou. I told you not to exert yourself.” He chided him with a somewhat nervous smile.


    “He's right, lad.” Ector reprimanded him with a frown. “You would not be the first young man to overdo it. You should go and prepare yourself for the ceremony. As do we.” He looked at the other knight's. “And the rest of you should return to your duties!” He commanded.


    “We will be taking our leave then, sir Ector.” One of the soldiers said as he saluted. The crowd started to disperse.


    A little while later, Kay was drinking some ale with his father under the midday sun. But the incident from earlier didn't let him go. He put down his mug and looked at his father. “Father, what do you think of him?” He sounded uncertain.


    Ector put down his mug and sighed. “I don't know, my son. That lad has great potential. That much is true. I also heard from Merlin that the lad's magic is highly specialized, but also that his aptitude is fairly low.” Ector closed his eyes and frowned as he thought about it. “According to Merlin, he will never become a great magus, but his specialization grants him the possibility to overcome great obstacles. Only time will tell.” Ector drank another gulp of ale.


    “I see.” Kay took his mug when he started to smile.


    “What are you laughing at?” Ector asked.


    “Have you heard it, father? She smiled again.” Kay looked at Ector with elation. Ector looked at him with surprise. “Shirou made her smile.”


    “He made her smile?” Ector was happily surprised. “Ah, how long has it been? I somehow feel the hand of Fate at work here. But I can not explain why though.” Kay looked at his father with wonder. He realized that what his father just said, might be right.


    Shirou had just finished bathing and was putting on the new clothes which was provided for the ceremony. It consisted of a tunic made of red linen trimmed with gold, a matching belt and a black trouser and high boots. Shirou thought it a bit flashy for his taste.


    Somebody knocked. “Enter.” Shirou responded. It was Bedivere and Tristan.


    “Are you ready for your ceremony?” Tristan asked cordial.


    “Almost.” Shirou strapped on the belt. “Done.”


    “Then would thou follow us to the grand hall?” Bedivere motioned to the door. Shirou nodded.


    “I must say, Shirou. That was mighty interesting.” Tristan said as they walked through the corridor. “Was it not, sir Bedivere?”


    “Indeed it was.” Bedivere sounded absentminded. Then he looked Shirou in the eyes. “Anyway Shirou, let me instruct you about the proceedings. Because these ceremonies have a certain procedure to them.” Bedivere's tone grew serious. “When we enter the hall, you will walk up in front of the stairs. The king will give a short speech, after which he will ask you to step forward and kneel. You will kneel on your left knee and place your right fist on your heart. And when he presents you your reward, you will take it with both hands and say: 'I hereby accept this gift which you bestows upon me.' Afterwards he will tell you to rise and turn towards the audience. The king will then command the festivities to begin.”


    “That sounds easy enough.” Shirou grinned.


    “Ah, it is a relative small ceremony indeed.” Tristan laughed. “The ceremony for knighting is grand in comparison. However, for one to be granted knighthood, one must also prove himself in upholding chivalry, honor and justice. So you still have to prove a lot before you have earned that honor.”


    “True. But I believe you have the potential to become one, Shirou.” Bedivere was convinced of that, which clearly showed on his face.


    “Thank you for your faith. But I already have something I wish to become.” Shirou stated firmly.


    “Oh. May we know what it is you wish to be?” Tristan was now really curious. His face shining from expectation. Bedivere too was interested.


    “Ever since I was a kid I wanted to become a hero of justice.” Shirou spoke confidently. “To save everyone.” Bedivere and Tristan looked at each other with uncertainty. While they could agree with Shirou's wish to save people, his statement of saving everyone was just impossible which made them feel a bit worried.


    “Ahum, Shirou. While we share with you the desire to protect people, I must point out that saving everybody is … well, impossible.” Tristan said hesitantly. “It is just beyond human capabilities.” Bedivere nodded in agreement.


    “I know.” Shirou sighed. “My father told me this as well and I understand. But the thought of not being able to save everybody just doesn't feel right. I don't like such biased justice.”
    “I can somewhat relate, but ...” Tristan continued.


    “We have arrived.” Bedivere cut him off. They stood in front of the double door leading to the great hall. “Alright then, Shirou. We will continue this talk another time. But now it is time for the ceremony.”


    Bedivere motioned to the guards who opened the double door in response. Shirou walked inside, flanked by Bedivere and Tristan. Two large tables laden with food stood on both sides of the hall. Servants stood along the walls, holding cans holding beverages.


    Arturia sat on her throne with Guinevere seated on her left side. Merlin stood behind the throne along with Kay. Lancelot, Mordred, Gawain and Ector were lined up on the right and left side, along with other important looking people and knights.


    Shirou saw Halinard and lord Haruid among them. When Shirou looked around further he spotted Ailletha and Eda. Eda smiled brightly and waved at him. Shirou returned the gesture. Shirou stopped in front of the stairs and Bedivere and Tristan went to the sides to stand next to their fellow knights.


    Arturia stood up and stepped forward. She opened her mouth and spoke with a clear voice. “Welcome to all who hast gathered here. Today we are gathered here in honor of a man who, on several occasions has risked his life for the sake of others. He is a stranger from a far away land, but he has shown a measure of selflessness and dedication befitting for a knight and shall therefore be rewarded.” She lowered the tone of her voice at the most important parts, keeping everybody at attention.


    Then she looked at Shirou. “Emiya Shirou, you have saved the life of sir Gawain and the people who accompanied him. You have thrown yourself in front of me and caught a blow which was meant for me. And lastly you braved an inferno in order to save a child.” She gestured at Gawain, herself and Eda respectively. “You did all this, knowing that it could have cost you your life. So, in light of your heroic deeds, you will be rewarded. Kneel, Emiya Shirou!”


    Shirou did as he was instructed, like Bedivere had told him. A man stepped forward carrying a long object on a large velvet cushion, covered by a red, velvet cloth. The man was middle aged and Shirou noticed that his features bore some resemblance to Eda's. This must be her father. He removed the cloth to reveal a large, matte black bow. It had a simple, yet elegant design. It's grip looked like a curved handle, with a hand guard-like arrow rest in front of it.


    Arturia took the bow and held it before Shirou. “Emiya Shirou, this bow made by Meldred is one of a kind. He poured all his knowledge and skill in it's creation. Furthermore thanks to Merlin it has received the blessing of the faeries. It's arrows will strike with great power and at great range. I hereby give you this bow as your reward.”


    Shirou took the bow with both hands and said. “I hereby gratefully accept this gift which you bestows upon me.”


    Arturia gestured with her right hand and said: “Rise, Emiya Shirou!” Shirou stood up and all those present gave an applause. “Now let the feast commence!” Arturia proclaimed, raising her right arm high in the air.


    The servants came forward and started pouring ale and wine. Soon everybody was enjoying the party. Shirou was talking with Merlin about his training when Eda and her parents approached him.


    “Ah, Eda-san, Ailletha-san. Glad to see that you're doing alright.” Shirou greeted them with a smile. “And you must be Eda's father. Glad to meet you. I am Emiya Shirou.” He made a small bow.


    Meldred was a bit unsure about how to respond to Shirou's bow, but returned the bow nevertheless. “Good day to you, mister Emiya. I am Meldred.” He said smiling. “Firstly, I wanted to thank you personally for saving me daughter.” He patted Eda on her head. They both shared the same chestnut colored eyes.


    “It was nothing. And thank you for the bow.” Meldred smiled and nodded.


    “This bow is a masterpiece. I will not make one like that ever again.” He grinned widely. “And thanks too the king supplying the materials and Merlin aiding in it's creation, the bows power will be unrivaled.”


    “Indeed. So be sure you practice with it so you can master it's power.” Merlin clasped his hands together. “And if you would excuse me. I have something to discuss with the king.” Merlin walked over to Arturia, almost hopping. Then Eda gave a small yawn.


    “It looks like Eda is a little tired.” Meldred gave Eda a loving look. “My dear, shall we go home? Eda needs her sleep.” Ailletha nodded in agreement and lifted Eda up.


    “Oh, are you leaving already, mister Meldred?” Guinevere asked disappointed. “How unfortunate that you would not stay any longer.”


    “I am sorry for leaving so early.” Meldred bowed. “And I would like to spend some private time with my wife and child as I hadn't much time to do so while I was working on the bow.”


    Guinevere gave a warm smile. “No need to apologize. I understand. Children need their sleep. I will have somebody escort you to the gates.” Eda had now fallen asleep. She must have been very tired. “I will accompany you part of the way, though. I don't get to talk often with my subjects, aside from the servants.”


    “Thank you, your grace.” Meldred said humbly while bowing again.


    “Mister Shirou, you should attend the party further. I shall return momentarily.” Guinevere advised.


    “We bid you good day, mister Emiya. Until we meet again.” Ailletha was holding Eda gently in her arms. Then they left, escorted by Guinevere.


    The party lasted till late in the evening and everybody had enjoyed it. Before going to bed, Shirou decided to take a small stroll before going to sleep. When he arrived at the terrace garden he encountered Arturia, Kay, Ector and Guinevere. Apparently they were having a late night chat.


    “Oh, look. Mister Shirou has come to join us.” Ector was the first to notice him. “Out for a late night stroll, I see.” His tone all serious.


    “Yeah. I couldn't sleep just yet.” Shirou walked over to them. “It was a nice party today.”


    “Indeed it was. It was unfortunate that mister Meldred had to leave so early.” Guinevere gave a sad smile. “How do you like your new bow?”


    “It was quite an honor, but it really wasn't necessary. It is … simply too much.” Shirou finished.


    “Ahho. No need to be so modest. You have rightfully earned it, lad.” Ector laughed.


    “A reward maybe. But I reckoned such a gift would have required a great feet of heroism.” Shirou said, convinced of his argument.


    “You are not entirely wrong on that part.” Arturia explained, her tone neutral as always. “Firstly, you have risked your life for people you did not even know, on more than one occasion. You even shielded me from an attack. That alone would have earned you a sizable reward. But when it comes to a weapon blessed by the faeries, you are indeed correct. I expected Merlin to enchant it himself, so I was surprised when he revealed what he had planned. When I asked him, he told me that you would prove worthy of the gift in time.” She put her fist in her side and looked at Shirou calmly.


    “Did he really?” Shirou was surprised by this revelation.


    “Merlin possesses the proof of the highest Mage, Clairvoyance. So he must have seen something in your future.” Guinevere remarked. “I believe we can expect great things from you.”


    “I believe so too.” Kay nodded, his face all serious.


    Shirou felt uncertain in face of their claims. He merely smiled nervously. “Ehh, Thank you for your confidence in me.” Shirou looked at them, unsure what to say. “Well..uhm. You know I have been wondering about this for some time now. But Merlin is rather youthful in his behavior for such an old man, is he not? It is quite surprising.”


    “That is because he is not an old man.” Arturia sighed heavily in exasperation, putting her hands in her sides.


    “Ah, so. Wait? What do you mean, he is not an old man!?”


    “It's quite simple. Merlin is a very childish individual and he loves playing pranks as we have told you before.” Arturia shook her head. The others nodded in agreement, with hopeless expressions. “He recently changed his appearance through suggestion magecraft to make himself look like an old man in order to fool people.”


    “He is a really bad guy.” Shirou said softly. He suppressed a yawn. “Anyway. I think I will go to bed.”


    “A good idea. I think I will too.” Arturia said. “Milady Guinevere, will you accompany me?”


    “Later, my king. I want to spend some more time talking with sir Kay and sir Ector.” Arturia merely nodded. “Good night.”


    When Arturia and Shirou were inside, Shirou noticed something. “Uhh, Arturia.”


    “Yes, Shirou?” She stopped and faced him.


    “There is a dust bunny hanging in your hair.” Shirou looked at the dust bunny hanging from a hair strand which stood straight up. Shirou had noticed it before. He thought that single strand of silly hair to be rather cute.


    “Oh.” She reached in her hair to brush it off. “Do I have it?”


    “No, it's higher up. Wait I'll get it for you. May I?” She nodded. Shirou reached for the bunny.


    When Arturia realized where Shirou was reaching, she became alarmed. “Wait! Shirou, don't!”


    “Uhh?” Shirou uttered in surprise, but it was too late. He had touched the hair and he suddenly found himself flying through the air and crashing six meter further in an armchair. A moment later, Guinevere, Kay and Ector stormed in after hearing the commotion. There they saw Shirou squirming on top of the toppled armchair, with a worried Arturia trying to help him up.


    “What happened?” Ector asked in confusion.


    “That is what I want to know.” Shirou grumbled as he managed to scramble up with Arturia's help. “I believe she just threw me through the room.”


    “My king?” Kay asked surprised.


    “I am terribly sorry, Shirou. It was a reflex.” Arturia reached up and plucked the bunny from her hair. Upon seeing her doing this, an expression of understanding appeared on everybody's face.


    Shirou inspected himself. Looks like he wasn't hurt anywhere, aside from some bruises. “What was that all about?” Shirou asked groaning.


    “I am terribly sorry. I did not think you would reach for that strand.” Arturia sighed, looking all apologetic. Now Shirou thought about it. She threw him the moment he touched that strand of hair, as if he had triggered a conditioned reflex.


    “It's okay. It doesn't look like I injured anything serious.” Shirou rubbed his side.


    “Haha! You touched her hair strand didn't you? Perhaps, we should have warned you about that.” Kay laughed, as did Ector. Guinevere chuckled while covering her mouth.


    “What's so special about that strand that she would react in such a way?” Shirou was more curious than angry.


    “Well. It is a long story.” Arturia began. “From before I united the kingdom.”


    “Indeed. Does the name Rience mean anything to you?” Ector asked, still rather amused.


    Rience? Before Arturia united England? It indeed rang a bell. “Rience? As in king Rience.” As it dawned to Shirou. “Ah, I remember. Wasn't he the one who decorated his robe with the beards of his defeated opponents?”


    “Indeed.” Arturia confirmed with a firm nod. “One day he send a messenger. In the message which he delivered, he told us how king Rience had conquered eleven other lords and had them swear fealty to him. How king Rience had cut of their beards and used them to decorated his robe.” Arturia's expression turned firm as she recalled the events. “King Rience demanded that I would hand over my beard and bow before him ,swearing my undying loyalty. Or else he would kill me and destroy my kingdom”


    “I can see how that would have been difficult.” Since her body doesn't change ever since she pulled the sword from the stone and, more importantly, her being a girl.


    “Indeed. Please don't interrupt.” Arturia continued her story. “I said that I had neither beard to give, nor a knee to bow for him. And that it fact, it would be him who would bow before me and that I would separate his head from his person, not just his beard. That was my reply.” Arturia smiled with satisfaction.


    “As you can imagine, this infuriated king Rience.” Ector joined. “And soon the messenger returned with Rience's reply.”


    “The messenger had described my appearance to his king and upon hearing it, Rience send me his reply. Saying how haughty I was and that he would shave off the hair standing on my head to use it to adorn mine robe!” Arturia continued.


    Now it dawned to Shirou. “When he said 'hair', he meant that strand of hair?”


    “Obviously.” She was slightly annoyed by Shirou's interruption.


    “Okay, I apologize for interrupting.”


    “Apology accepted. Well then, part of the battle that followed became a fight to see whether I could defend my hair or not. And consequentially, I had a duty to protect my strand of hair well, for the sake of my country.”


    “Indeed. And ever since then her opponents have provoked him by sneering at his hair, threatening to cut it, decorate it with a ribbon and whatnot.” Kay explained further. “The battles were long and fierce, but in the end the king won with dignified victory.” Arturia's expression was full of pride when Kay finsihed.


    “So you see, mister Shirou, how important that one strand of hair is. Not even I am allowed to touch it.” Guinevere's tone was dead serious. This was indeed serious, Shirou thought. If not even the queen was allowed to touch it.


    “I take it you understand it now?” Arturia asked.


    “I understand. I won't touch it again.” Shirou promised with a smile. Arturia gave a satisfied nod.


    “Thank you for your understanding. This strand is truly important.”


    “Agreed. I like it too. It looks really cute.” Shirou grinned.


    “Uhh? Shirou I must ask you not to make jokes like that.” Arturia replied in surprise. A slight blush appeared on her cheeks. This did not escape from the others' attention. Especially Kay and Ector seemed pleasantly surprised.


    “I think it is about time to grab some sleep.” Shirou decided. “Good night to you all.”


    “Uh, yes. Good night to you.” Arturia said as Shirou made his way to his chambers. He felt tired. He recalled what had just transpired. Never could he have imagined how important a single strand of hair could be. He grinned involuntarily. That hair really looked cute on her. Shirou liked it a little here. He would surely treasure the memories he made here. And since he still was going to stay here a little while longer, he figured he should enjoy it to the fullest. Unfortunately for him, he could not know of the troubles and challenges that lied ahead.

  16. #96
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Fate/Stay Night: Across Time chapter 11

    Chapter 11
    Fate/stay Night: Across time



    Chapter 11: Infidelity revealed



    Shirou awoke in the middle of the night. His arms felt hot. Must be because of his overexertion today. He stood up and went to the water bowl on the table under the window. He put his arms in the water. He sighed from relief. When his arms had cooled down, he went to the dining room. The fire was almost out, so Shirou trew another log from the pile in it and sat himself in front of the fire.


    Suddenly door opened and a servant entered. “Oh, Shirou. I am sorry for disturbing you.”


    “It's alright. I had a little trouble sleeping, that's all.” Shirou stretched his arms out. They still felt hot, but it was not unbearable. “Busy with on the late night shift, I see... Uh, what's your name?”


    “Nicholas, Shirou. I came to check on the fireplace.” He looked at the fire place. “But it seems you have already done so. I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience.”


    “It's alright, Nicholas.” Footsteps could be heard from the hallway. The next moment Merlin entered followed by a female servant.


    “Ah, Shirou. Couldn't sleep either, I see.” He walked passed Nicholas, giving him a pat on the shoulder while passing and stopped before Shirou.


    “Ah, Elsa. How are you tonight?” Nicholas asked bashfully. His cheeks were turning red.


    “Good. Thank you, Nicholas.” She smiled, equally bashful. “Eh... the headmistress is searching for you. She wants you to help out at the pantry.” Shirou had to smile when he saw the two of them talking to each other. Then Merlin snapped his fingers and Shirou shifted his attention towards him.


    “Let me guess. You're arms are feeling rather hot.” He smiled a bit from exasperation. “That's what happens when you overdo it. Here, drink this.” He handed him a vial with some light blue liquid.


    Shirou coughed after he drank it. “Yuck. So bitter.”


    “It will help you recover faster. It will be better in the morning.” Merlin stood up and started trough the door. “I bid you good night.” Merlin stopped in front of Elsa. “My dear child, would you like to accompany me for a while?” Merlin asked with a little to friendly-looking smile.


    Elsa clearly felt what Merlin's intentions were. “Maybe for a little while. But no funny things, alright?” Elsa warned. Merlin accepted, smiling mischievously. He will certainly try.


    “Good night.” Nicholas said as he closed the door. When Shirou noticed how Nicholas was glaring at Merlin's back, he had to suppress a grin.


    The next morning, Shirou was eating his breakfast in the mess hall, his bow was resting against the table. His arms were no longer burning. Merlin's potion had clearly worked. Though they felt a bit stiff, Shirou reckoned it would not be of much hindrance.


    “Good morning.” Shirou turned around. Tristan and Gawain, both with big grins on their face, walked up to him and sat down. “Did you have a good night's sleep?” Tristan asked. Shirou nodded in response. “That is good to hear.”


    “Shirou, Mordred and Merlin wanted us to tell you that the training will be canceled today.” Gawain informed him,


    “Really? That is convenient, cause I was planning to test out the bow today.” Shirou was a little eager to test how powerful it was. He had planned to ask leave from Mordred, but it looks like that is no longer necessary. “Did they say why it was canceled?”


    “Not really. But I know it is because Mordred and Agravain had something really important to tell.” Gawain said with a brooding, even worried expression.


    “In any case, Shirou, we expected you to want to test your bow out today. So we got up early and prepared a little something for you.” Tristan said with a wide grin. Gawain had stopped his brooding and grinned too. “Would you accompany us?”


    “Sure. Give me a sec.” Shirou quickly finished his plate and cleared the table. Then he followed them to the stables. There stood three horses ready. They carried saddle bags with rations and quivers. Two of them had bows on them.


    “We have prepared some targets on the plains. After that we will go for some hunting.” Tristan explained. “Now then. Shall we go?”


    “Yes. Let's go.” Shirou said enthusiastically. Soon they had arrived at the plains and when Shirou looked around he saw a few targets standing at different distances. “This is the place?”


    “Indeed.” Gawain and Tristan dismounted. “Don't look so disappointed. These are not the only targets.” Gawain pointed into the distance. Shirou strengthened his eyes and saw several more targets standing on the next hill. At least a thousand meters further.


    “Uhhh. Hey, hey. There is no way we can hit a target from this distance with a bow.” Shirou was clearly stunned. “It would require a rifle to hit something at that distance.”


    “You are mistaken, Shirou. It is true that one cannot hit such a target with a 'normal' bow. However, let us not forget that your bow is not a normal one.” Tristan's tone was one of amusement. “According to Merlin, it should be easy with this bow.” Shirou looked at the targets in the distance nervously. Are thy really expecting him to hit those targets from here?


    “Shall we begin?” Gawain clasped his hands together. He and Tristan took their bows and quivers. Shirou followed their example. “Who shall be first?”


    “Since we arranged this for Shirou, I say he should go first.” Tristan suggested.


    “True. Alright, Shirou. You are first.” Gawain conceded. Shirou took position in front of the target. The target was made from hay, supported by wooden beams. Pretty standard. Then Gawain and Shirou noticed Tristan's bow. It looked completely crooked. They looked at each other in bewilderment.


    “Is there something wrong?” Tristan inquired. Both shook their heads.


    “Okay then. Let's give it a try.” Shirou readied his bow. He raised it up and nocked the arrow. Then he drew it as he brought the bow down again. Typical Japanese archery style. He aimed for the target. It stood approximately twenty-five meters away. Shirou felt power welling up inside the bow and arrow. He let the arrow loose.


    The result was stunning. The arrow was launched with tremendous power. Shirou was certain that it had just broken the sound barrier. And when the arrow hit the target dead center, it was simply blown apart. The arrow continued further until it buried itself in the next hill.


    They all whistled in unison. “I don't think this bow is really suited for hunting.” Tristan commented with a dead serious expression.


    ”Agreed!” Shirou and Gawain responded in unison. They looked at each other, then they burst into laughter. Well, Tristan and Gawain did. Shirou merely smiled.


    “Maybe you and Tristan should go first from now on.” Shirou suggested.


    “Good idea.” Gawain took his bow and aimed for the next target, which stood at twice the distance of the previous one. “So Shirou. Do you know what went wrong?”


    “I am not sure. When drew, I felt energy flow through the bow.” Shirou pondered. Gawain let loose and hit the target near the edge. “I think the key is to adjust the amount of energy using my magical energy. Maybe if I focus on it. Considering the distance, that was a pretty nice shot, Gawain.”


    “Argh. I am not really fond of using a bow. And Tristan is better than me,” Gawain grumbled as he stepped a side to let Tristan take his shot.


    “True enough. We are knights. Fencing is our bread and butter. But knowing how to use a bow is still necessary.” Tristan commented as he took aim. “Ay. Any decent army needs archers.” Tristan loosed the arrow. He hit the target dead center. “Alright. Your turn again, Shirou. And try not to destroy the target again.” Tristan grinned as he patted Shirou on the back.


    “I'll try.” Shirou sighed as looked at the target and took aim. He reinforced his eyes as he aimed. When he drew, he felt the energy well up. Shirou didn't let the arrow loose yet. He focused on the bow, on the flowing energy.
    Concentrate. Try to adjust the bows power. He could feel the energy lessen. When he deemed the energy low enough, he fired. The arrow flew with tremendous speed at the target and hit the target dead center. It pierced the target up to the feathers. Shirou smiled at his successful shot.


    “Well done, Shirou.” Tristan cheered as he and Gawain applauded. “Marvelous shot.”


    “Indeed. And the target is still intact too. If it goes like this, you should have a good feel for the bow before the evening.” Gawain commented enthusiastically.


    They practiced a few more hours on the first group of targets. Tristan hit the second and third target, which stood at one hundred meters distance. with good accuracy. Gawain hit the second target reasonably well, but missed the third almost all the time. Shirou, in the meantime, was getting more and more accustomed to regulating the bow's power. He hit all the targets dead center, not missing once.


    “That was some fine shooting.” Tristan declared as he drank some water from his flagon.


    “Speak for yourself.” Gawain was a little disappointed by how poorly he did, compared to Shirou and Tristan. “Well, it was to be expected. I have never been good at archery.” He sighed. “Now that we had some practice … . Shirou, why don't you try using the bow's full power?” Gawain suggested as he pointed towards the targets on the next hill.


    “Why not? Let's see what it can do.” Just how powerful will this bow prove to be? “Here I go.” Shirou nocked an arrow and drew. He upped the power a little and reinforced his eyes.


    “By the way, Shirou. The way you draw your bow. It's not like we are familiar with.” This question was on Tristan's mind for a while now.


    “Ah, yes. This is the traditional Japanese style of archery.” Shirou explained. He loosed the arrow. Again it flew to the target with tremendous speed, breaking the sound barrier. The target was not entirely destroyed, but there was a serious hole in the center.


    “Did you hit it?” Gawain asked. He and Tristan could not use magic, so they could not strengthen their eyes in order to see far distances.


    “I did. The arrow blew a hole in the center.” Shirou marveled at the result, since he knew he didn't use it's full power. “I am going to try to unleash it's full power.” He decided.


    “Ohh. That is something we want to witness. Right, Gawain?” Tristan patted Gawain's shoulder. Gawain nodded firmly. Their faces were now showing pure excitement.


    “Alright then.” Shirou scoured the distance. He noticed a large bolder which was approximately four kilometers away. The furthest distance at which Shirou was able to distinguish things with his strengthened eyes. “That bolder over there.” He pointed.


    “We shall have go and see the result up-close later.” Gawain shook his head.


    “That would be best, yeah.” Shirou grinned sheepishly. Then he put up a serious face. He nocked another arrow and took aim. He focused on building up power within the bow. At one point, the bow began to feel warmer as the energy build up. Shirou reckoned he was nearing the limit. So he stopped building up power before the bow became too hot to hold.


    “Ready?”


    “As we'll ever be.” Gawain responded. Shirou exhaled and fired. The arrow blasted trough the sound barrier. And when it reached the rocked, it hit with such force that the arrow simply exploded, leaving a large crack in the rock behind.


    “Well?” Tristan asked, bursting with curiosity.


    “I think the arrow exploded from the force of the impact.” Shirou was unsure, since he couldn't see it clearly from here. “Shall we go take a look up close?”


    “I guess it's necessary.” Gawain replied. He was already sitting the saddle. Ten minutes later, they had reached the bolder. When they saw the large crack in the bolder, they could only bring up a dumb grin of amazement.


    “Incredible.” Gawain whispered. They dismounted. As they scoured the ground around the bolder, they found bits and pieces of the arrow. The shaft was reduced to splinters, but they could not find the tip.


    “Did you find the tip already?” Gawain asked.


    “Not yet.” Shirou replied. Then a thought occurred to him. “Wait! I think I know where it is. Come here.”


    Tristan and Gawain walked up to Shirou, who stood in front of the rock. He was trying to peek inside the crack.


    Tristan and Gawain looked at each other. “Do you really think ...?” Gawain questioned softly.


    For a moment, a ray of sunlight lit up the inside of the crack and Shirou saw the glimmer of metal deep inside of it. “I no longer think. I know it now.” Shirou looked at them with a broad grin. Then they all started laughing.


    They had originally planned to go hunting after the shooting practice, but after Shirou's demonstration, they were satisfied. So they returned to Camelot after eating their rations. It was afternoon when they almost had reached Camelot.


    “That was some fine shooting. The power of that bow is truly tremendous.” Tristan couldn't stop talking about it.


    “I know. Look we are almost back. Can you keep quiet for the remainder of the trip?” Gawain grinned. He too, had kept talking about it for some time. But he had managed to stop.


    “I will try.” Tristan was struggling to not to keep talking about it, so he decided to talk about something else. Something Shirou had said came to mind. “Say, Shirou. There is something I would like to ask you. Something about what you said earlier.”


    Shirou looked at Tristan. “Sure, go ahead.”


    Tristan nodded. “What is a rifle?” Shirou was a little surprised at the question. But more because he had expected it sooner.


    “Hmm. I would like to know too.” Gawain had forgotten with all the excitement from Shirou's demonstration.


    Shirou scratched the back of his head as he tried to figure out how to explain it. “Well, it is ranged weapon.” He began. “The basic principle is simple. You have a metal tube with one side closed off. The bottom is filled with an explosive powder. Then a projectile is put in. When the powder is ignited, the explosion hurdles the projectile through the tube with great force.”


    “Sounds powerful.” Gawain commented.


    “It is. In my age, it is the basic weapon for all armies in the entire world.” Shirou continued.


    “Interesting. How fast can one shoot with them? How far?” Tristan was really eager now.


    “Well, that depends. If you are talking about small arms, that is those that are man portable, they can shoot … .” He paused for a moment as he thought. “When it comes to range … anywhere from point blank to more than 2000 yards.”


    “Impossible!” Gawain replied stunned. “One can not distinguish anything from that distance.”


    “Normally that is true. But have you ever heard of lenses?” Shirou inquired.


    “Lenses? Yes, of course. They allow one who's eyesight has deteriorated to read better.” Gawain put his index finger and thumb close together and held them in front of his eye.


    “Indeed. Lenses can also be used to created tools which can allow one to see things from great distances.”


    “I see.” Gawain nodded in understanding.


    “And as for how fast they can fire, some can fire hundreds of times for every one time a skilled archer can fire a bow.” Tristan whistled. “The projectiles are also many times faster than arrows. So I hate to say it, but if you should ever face someone carrying a gun, which luckily will never happen, you would do well to take cover. Otherwise you'll be filled with holes before you can even reach him.”


    “The way you explain it, it seems to be a formidable weapon.” Gawain sounded displeased. “And a cowards weapon.”


    “I can't really agree with that. Because then you could consider everybody who has ever used a ranged weapon a coward.” Tristan replied shaking his head. “I take that the natural the principle was also applied to the artillery?”


    Shirou nodded. “Indeed. The principle was first applied to artillery. They are called cannons and they can hit targets many miles away. Later models could fire projectiles that exploded on impact.”


    “Devastating.” Tristan could only imagine what it would be like.


    “True. There was this one war in which artillery played a truly massive role. During this war, there were artillery barrages so intense that they changed the entire landscape. I saw some historical images. The artillery shells created fiery explosions that dig deep craters into the ground. And should you get hit, or even if the projectile hit a couple of meters further, your body would be torn to pieces, if not disappear entirely.”
    Tristan and Gawain were accustomed to war, but what Shirou told them brought a shiver down their spine. Shirou had to shiver himself.


    “But it took a long while before they got that sophisticated. When gunpowder reached these lands, that is the name of the powder that made those weapons possible, which was I think in the fifteenth … or was that fourteenth century? Not sure. They did n't knew how to make a proper weapon at first.” Shirou reassured them. “I know that the first cannons were made by bell-makers. They would fire a stone or iron projectile and took very long to reload. They also had a fair chance of exploding in your face. Nevertheless, when the cannons appeared the castle wall became obsolete. Weapons like the catapult and trebuchet were the first to be replaced. The bow and arrow still remained active for a long time, since it took a several centuries before a man-portable gun could somewhat compete with it.”


    “Sounds like wars will change drastically in the future.” Gawain made a difficult face. When they finally arrived at the village they saw that it was almost in an uproar.


    “What is going on here?” Tristan said cursing. They were shocked to see the village in such chaos. Tristan dismounted and grabbed a villager by the arm. “What is happening?” Tristan asked urgent.


    “Ye haven't yet heard then, sir?” The man sounded agitated. “Word has just spread. It has been revealed that the Queen has been unfaithful to the king.”


    “What?!” Gawain rode next to them. Shirou too, was shocked, but not surprised. “That can not be. Are you saying the queen has had an affair?”


    The man nodded fiercely. “Ay, Sir! And what is worse, the one she had an affair with was none other than Sir Lancelot!”


    Tristan released the man and looked at Gawain. His expression showed clear denial and confusion. This can not be true. It could not be true. For Gawain too, it was inconceivable.


    “Back into the saddle!” Gawain urged Tristan. As soon as Tristan was back in the saddle they rode towards Camelot with all speed. When they arrived, they immediately noticed the charged and tense atmosphere.


    When they arrived at the throne room, they found Merlin. He turned around as they entered. They all looked at him with questioning eyes. Merlin nodded. His eyes full of sadness. “I take it you would want to speak to the king about what has happened.”


    They all nodded. Merlin sighed. “Follow me.” They followed Merlin silently as they made their way to the library.


    “How was it discovered?” Gawain asked silently.


    “Mordred and Agravain discovered it and subsequently revealed it.” Merlin replied sadly. “Guinevere is currently imprisoned in the dungeon.”


    “Why? Why did this happen!?” Tristan's face had become blank.


    “Oh, I reckon there are a number of reasons. One of them being love. I always stress the importance of love, but it can cause ... unwanted situations.” Merlin shook his head. “The king is planning on pardoning Sir Lancelot.”


    Inside the library they found Ector, Kay, Bedivere, Galahad and Arturia seated at a table. The atmosphere was heavy.


    “Ah, Merlin. I see that you brought sir Tristan, sir Gawain and Shirou with you.” Arturia spoke calmly. Her face was completely calm, not showing any emotions.


    “I have been thinking about the current situation, but I have the feeling that you have already made your decision.” Merlin replied. Arturia merely nodded.


    “Lady Guinevere will be executed within four days.” Bedivere declared heavily. The others remained silent. Kay just stared at the table with a sad and exasperated look in his eyes. Ector was frowning and Galahad was just not sure how to react.


    'Executed?!' Shirou turned pale at those words. He thought back of the time he spend with Guinevere. While they had only spoken with each other on a few occasions, he found her a gentle and kindhearted person. It was simply wrong! Was there nothing he could do?


    “Does she have to be executed? Is there no other way?” Shirou asked uncertain.


    “Shirou. Adultery is already a serious matter, which is punished harshly when it comes to the common people.” Gawain explained. He looked sad, but also angry. “But since lady Guinevere is the queen, it basically amounts to high treason.” Shirou looked at Gawain and then looked at the others, at a loss for words. “I hear it was Sir Lancelot who courted the queen. Is this true?” Gawain gritted his teeth.


    “Unfortunately it is.” Ector declared with a deep sigh. “A truly regrettable fact.”


    “Sir Lancelot. How dare he.” Gawain muttered with clenched jaws.


    “Enough. This meeting is adjourned.” Arturia declared calmly as she stood up.


    “Then I will take my leave.” Gawain saluted and started to leave the room. As did Tristan, who was still a bit shaken from what has happened, laid his hand on Shirou's shoulder.


    “Shirou, you should go too.” Tristan said softly.


    “Does it have to be this way?” Shirou blurted out. It was wrong to execute Guinevere and Shirou was determined to change the king's mind. “Arturia, I know you feel the same about this. As the king you surely can ...”


    “Shirou!” Ector interrupted him. His eyes were filled with sadness. “We all feel sad about what has transpired, but it must be done.”


    “He is right, Shirou.” Gawain's voice was trembling slightly. “As sad as it may be, it is the law.” He sighed and then left with Tristan following him.


    “Still I won't accept this. Your highness. We both know why this happened, therefore you can't do this. I know you don't want to do this, so please ...” Yes. This happened because Arturia was forced to hide her gender. Shirou knew that. It was obvious when you think about it. So it is partially her fault too.


    “Shirou, I am the king. And as the king I have to be the first one to follow the law.” Arturia showed no emotions. Not in her expression, nor in her voice. “Further more, it also means that I cannot let my personal feelings get in the way. What is expected of me is my decision as a king, nothing else.”


    Merlin laid his hand upon Shirou's shoulder. “My king, are you certain about your decision? Perhaps we can come to a different solution.”


    “I am sorry, Merlin, but it has to be done.” Arturia stood up and left without saying another word.


    “It seems that the king will not change his mind.” Merlin said with a sad voice.


    Some time later. Shirou was sitting on a bench in the terrace garden. The execution of Guinevere. He knew this to be a part of the legend. If he remembered correctly, Guinevere shall be saved by Lancelot. Indeed, during the execution Lancelot shall storm the execution and save Guinevere. And several knights shall lose their lives.


    “Hoy, Shirou.” Shirou turned around. There stood Mordred, waving casually as if nothing was wrong. “Judging from your expression, I reckon that you know of what has transpired.” Mordred sounded content.


    “Why? Why did you do it?”


    Mordred tilted his head and sighed from annoyance. “The queen had an affair with sir Lancelot. It was something that could not be forgiven. It was the right thing to do. And to be honest it was Sir Agravain who revealed it. I was merely present.” Shirou could not help but notice the sneering mixed inside her voice. Then Shirou realized, somehow, that this was done in order to hurt the king.


    “Do you resent Arturia that much?”


    Mordred fell silent for a moment. Then he responded with a cold voice. “I do.”


    “Mordred. Does Guinevere have to die just so you can satisfy your hatred?” Mordred remained silent. Shirou could feel his gaze piercing him. “You know I come from the future, right? I know of the legend of king Arthur and which part you play in it. During the short time I spend with you, I can tell in the very least that you are not an evil person. So why?”


    “Because I hate him. The perfect king? Ha, I am the only one who is fit for the throne.” Mordred's voice trembled slightly. “Shirou, since you know of my father's legend, you also know of what will happen. I don't harbor you any ill will, but I warn you not to interfere. This neither your country nor era. I say this because I have taken some measure of liking to you.” Mordred's voice had become calm again. He turned around and left. Shirou looked as he walked off. He reckoned that Mordred must be carrying a lot of anger with him.


    After a while Shirou went to make a stroll through the castle until he arrived on the roof. The roof was merely a large rectangle space bordered by ramparts. He kept thinking about what would happen in five days. There must be something he can do? Then he suddenly spotted Lancelot on the far side of the roof. He was gazing at the sunset.
    “Sir Lancelot.” Shirou called out to him. Lancelot turned around. His face expressing only sadness.


    “Shirou. How are you?” His voice was likewise filled with sadness, but was nevertheless surprisingly calm. “How can I be of service to you?”


    Shirou hesitated for a moment, not really knowing what to say. “Actually, I wanted to help you. And the queen too, of course. Do you know of a way by which we could change the king's mind?” Lancelot merely smiled sadly.


    “I am afraid not.”


    “Look we both know that Arturia would not want to execute her either, but she just keeps denying her own feelings. We should try to prevent her from doing something that she will come to regret.” Shirou was hoping Lancelot might know of a way.


    “I doubt the king will change his mind.” Lancelot's tone indicated that he had already resigned himself to it. Then his voice suddenly grew heavy with grief, “I tried, but I could not stop myself from loving Guinevere.”


    “Sir Lancelot. You are planning to rescue the queen from the execution, are you not?” Shirou knew the legend, thus he knew what will happen during the execution. Lancelot looked at him, mildly surprised. “Lancelot, let us try to free the queen before the execution.” An idea was forming in Shirou's mind. And he believe that it just might work, ... with a little luck.


    “You want to rescue her before the execution? How? We would have to fight all the guards and knights in the castle.” Lancelot smiled faintly. “I appreciate what you are trying to do, but the only way I can think of is to free her during the execution, when there is a clear escape route.” Lancelot walked to Shirou and laid his hands on his shoulders. “You are a good person, Emiya Shirou. You should keep your distance from the execution platform when the time comes.” And he left. Shirou gritted his teeth in frustration. Why is everyone accepting this?


    “I wont let this happen.” Shirou declared. He was determined to prevent the execution.

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