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Thread: You Are My King (A Third Holy Grail War fic)

  1. #21
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    Aw, that makes me momentarily disappointed. I had gotten a little attached to the idea of female Bedivere. But I can understand your reasoning, and I'm sure that I'll continue to enjoy the story. Good luck with your continued development of it!
    You have to realize when you're changing a character's gender if it's for the benefit of the plot or yourself. In my case, I just thought a female Bedivere would be neat, and while it did open up some interesting ideas to sift through, ultimately keeping him as a he was more appropriate for what I have planned.

  2. #22
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    * thanks to Dullahan for taking the time to look it over

    Chapter 4

    If letters were one of those things he hated the most, then meetings were one of those he valued the most, but, here, now, as he was, sitting in the corner of the room, farthest away from Yggdmillennia and the more "esteemed" individuals involved in the operation, the price he put on them was fastly beginning to change.

    Wilhelm shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

    It was a meeting full of people just as crazy, or possibly even crazier, than the man who claimed he brought an Irish high-king back from the dead. People who weren't discussing how best to reduce casualties and distribution of supplies, but, how such a thing as the Holy Grail ended up in Japan in the first place. Whether it was actually a real, physical thing, or something symbolic in nature. What to do with the accursed thing once they've acquired it, what research to conduct and where best to concentrate it toward, debating with one another as if they already had.

    They were so certain of themselves. So assured that they might find something there, even as they were split over what it might be, that it blinded them to everything else. Balling a fist, he rested it upon his thigh. It didn't bode well for those boys being able to see their twilight years.

    Also, Yggdmillennia had allowed for another civilian—another woman—to join them. He'd been watching her since she first appeared not long after the meeting went underway.

    Ignored by everyone else save for Yggdmillennia who introduced her and offered her a seat, at first, he had wondered why that was, but then the fact that they were all so absorbed in their meaningless argument to pay attention to anything else, as it was far too heated at current to call it a sensible debate—not that it ever was going to be, he'd known deep down—shouldn't have surprised him one bit. It didn't take long for the reason her being here to sink in.

    First, it was the man with a missing arm appearing out of nowhere, proclaiming he was Bedivere, Knight of the Round Table, who'd the audacity to impersonate a commissioned officer. Now, it was a woman with hair so golden-white and skin so fair she came straight from Wagner's opera that his wife had prattled on about and was one of her loves. A goddess, beauty unparalleled and sorrow unfathomable, bound to the earth to wallow in damnation for eternity. In reality, she was just another lunatic Yggdmillennia hired to harass him, using trickery to appear when they knew it would irritate him the most. To tell him that this Holy Grail War was indeed the real thing. That those claims about it granting miracles were true. Someone put near him to spy on his activities, and at the same time aggravate him to no end.

    Well, he wasn't a man so easily seduced.

    The only woman who'd ever was Klara, and if Yggdmillennia thought this woman was in the same vein, no matter her beauty, he was sorely mistaken. The very notion was enough to put him in a foul state of mind. And, not soon after, the meeting reaching its peak, another uninvited guest arrived.

    This time it was a man sporting a cane with one foot in the grave, informing them that all their squabbling was futile. That their enemies were amassinh a force so great it didn't matter if they'd the means to get the Holy Grail because all of them would be wiped out in the attempt regardless of whether they'd a hundred, three hundred, or a thousand men at their disposal and any manner of modernized weaponry. They were all doomed… unless they accepted his help.

    The sudden interruption stunned all at the front into silence, before they quickly erupted into an outcry of protest.

    "What's the meaning of this?!"

    "Who is this man?"

    "Explain yourself!"

    They were shouting so loud Wilhelm plugged his ears, noticing that the only one who didn't partake in the mob was Yggdmillennia. The man was content to simply sit there with that smug look on his face, as his fellows went about flinging accusations and insults now that the focus was on the old man.

    Seeing that was the last straw.

    Enough was enough.

    He got up.

    He should be back with the troops where he belonged. Where he would actually be able to do something, instead of being forced to listen to a lynching that wasn't getting them anywhere. Wasn't doing anything to ensure that those actually undertaking the operation would be as prepared as possible. As well as they could, anyhow, with all of this nonsense being thrust in their faces—mainly his—matter-of-factually.

    But, as he went to leave, just as a well-groomed, weasel-looking man was saying his piece, an explosion blew them all backwards. An intense, blinding light bathed everything in a bright, crimson red. They were thrown to the floor. Something malicious, something malevolent, something so indescribably ugly, passed through their bodies and dispersed itself around the room.

    Whatever it was departed shortly thereafter.

    Then, came the old man's voice, cackling as he spoke. "That is what awaits you, and you will face it alone, and you will die, without my help."

    Face to the cold marble floor, Wilhelm felt as if he was being kept pinned by a boulder twice his size; the sheer weight of it still lingering in the air. Only able to stand to his feet with help from the man who still had the audacity to wear a commissioned officer's uniform, he yanked his arm away and looked around the room. Everyone, besides a few notable exceptions, were pale, trembling, and so horrified it were as they had seen a glimpse of what Hell was truly like. He himself was shaking, and frowned.

    He'd already seen Hell. Been through it more times than he could count or wanted to, and, yet, he couldn't keep the torment of his experiences from bubbling to the surface after so long. With them, came those pains and regrets and sorrows afterward. His frown deepened. When asked if he was hurt, he shook his head.

    Yggdmillennia's egotistical voice ring out in the silence that followed. He was one of those who didn't appear to be affected by the aftereffects that plagued the rest. It came as no surprise. "It would seem that you speak the truth. Though, I cannot help but wonder what interest you have in warning us of the danger that awaits and forming an allegiance to combat it. Certainly, an esteemed man such as yourself has no need to."

    At that the old man, another who was unaffected, smiled. But, whatever he said in response Wilhelm didn't bother to hear.

    Unable to allow himself to be surrounded by these people any longer, he left the room to get some fresh air.

    Outside, the Heavens had been torn asunder.

    Great plumes of black cloud swirled around an enormous hole in the sky. In its center was a dark storm. Sparks of lightning streaked across, chased by claps of thunder.

    Satan waging war against God.

    Though he couldn't tell how far, it was to the northwest. Close enough to be seen from here, at least. Speaking of, people were now crowding the streets, staring up at it with a mixture of confusion, dread, and awe. One of them he recognized as that "war correspondent" Yggdmillennia allowed to be attached to the operation. Unlike the rest she was more interested in photographing it, along with interviewing anyone not completely transfixed by the gaping maw above their heads. He saw that black birds—ravens—had also gathered, roosting in the trees. An omen, surely.

    Now clear of mind, though broodingly coming to terms that maybe, just maybe, these happenings might be the work of something unnatural, something unfathomable to mortal men, Wilhelm almost wished he were someplace else. Far away from Yggdmillennia, his lackeys, and the Third Reich. With his family. But, that wasn't an option, the moment passed, and, thus, he addressed the man who had been standing silently behind him the whole time.

    "You said you would give me a full explanation," he said, continuing to watch the battle in the sky for a moment more, then facing him. "Well, what else do you have to tell me?"

    The man didn't seem to hear him. His attention was on the ravens. Turning back to look at them, some were flying off toward the storm in a great host. A legion of black-winged terrors, squawking as they went. When the ravens were no longer visible Wilhelm again asked, but the man stayed there, eyes still on the sky. Still looking after the ravens. It took a third time to snap him out of whatever occupied his thoughts.

    And, whatever it was, hadn't been pleasant.

    His face was ashen, with sweat on his brow, fatigue lining his features as if he were having a fright, a fever, and he swallowed, trying to compose himself. It was several minutes before he did. "Sire," he began, slowly, "What is it you wish to know?"


    His eyes went briefly to the ground as he appeared to compile his thoughts. Work the sickness from his body, and answer. "The Holy Grail is… a chalice. A large, golden cup that once filled is supposed to grant the wishes of whoever touches it first. In order for it to be filled, six of the seven Servants who seek it must be defeated, as only one may claim it. The last surviving Servant and, their Master, of which there are also seven—for a total of fourteen—can have but one wish each. Tangible or intangible it does not matter, whatever they wish for will be made a reality."



    Wilhelm put a hand to his mouth, brushing the thorny stubble of a fast growing beard. Like many, he could think of a dozen things to wish for, but only one he truly wanted. Something lost but not forgotten. Though, looking up at the second floor window, the same could be said for, he assumed, Yggdmillennia. The thought of what that man might want left a knot in his stomach. Or any of the other Ahnenerbe, for that matter.

    And if the man he hired spoke the truth—not that he really believed any of it—then, hypothetically, if he'd the chance to lay claim to it, then so did Yggdmillennia. Even if he didn't become the one to have his wish granted, the least he could do was see to it that Yggdmillennia didn't either.

    Later that night, or, that morning, as Berlin was busy being abuzz with the earlier events now being called a freak weather phenomenon, Wilhelm lay awake in his bunk. Thinking of the storm, it wasn't that he believed in it, but…

    He stared at the ceiling, wondering how all of this nonsense was designed to keep him from whatever was really being plotted behind his—and, by extension, his men's—backs. They were trying very hard to conceal their true plans. Something deeper than what was written in the reports, of the ones he actually received. If he could do nothing else, the least he could do was investigate further, and what better way that to charge straight into the fire headfirst?

    Yes. That was it.

    He was only willing to give their claims some credibility so as to discover the truth buried beneath. That hole in the sky? Exactly what'd been explained—an odd, once in a lifetime, occurrence. What he really needed to worry about? The maniacal scheme they were hiding. Closing his eyes and expecting to get at least an hour or two before he had to get up again, praying the things he was going to have to deal with later wouldn't be anymore hoaxes, he would start getting to the bottom of this operation. He owed it to his men.

    That was when he heard whispers in the dark.

    And, it was then, he knew, that his prayers had gone unnoticed.

    He opened his eyes, annoyed. It was probably some of the men, playing cards in the next room over. The walls were thin, so it was only expected. He listened closer.

    "... this boy… High King of all Britain? Preposterous! I'll not bend my knee to no mere boy!" someone shouted. Or, seemed to. They sounded distant, like an echo. Yet, so close, as if they were right on the other side of the wall.

    "Lot, you do not bend your knee to a boy, but your King," another voice said, young yet not.

    "A King?! Hah!"

    "He's not even a man grown! Still a child!" a new voice said, joining the first.

    Then, a third. "That's right!"

    "For once I, too, agree with Caradoc!" A fourth.

    Fifth. Sixth, seventh, eighth—it became a rabble of many spiteful, angry voices and as they grew in volume, right up against his ears. Like before, Wilhelm plugged them and thought he was done with those Ahnenerbe loons, grinding his teeth as they grew louder and louder.

    And louder.

    And louder.

    And louder.

    Threatening to split his mind in two, he felt his ears about to burst until there was a huge crash of thunder. A deafening boom that made him jump.

    The voices were silenced.

    After, he lay in a profuse sweat for a moment, ears ringing, heart pounding out his chest. Then, slowly, he got up and went to the wall. He waited. Nothing. He took a breath to calm his nerves, then opened the barrack door. Nobody there. Slipping out into the hallway, he peeked into each room beside his. Everyone was asleep.

    Had he imagined it?

    Was he going crazy?

    He put a hand to his forehead and chuckled. No, he concluded. He was simply tired. Too tired. Hadn't had a decent night's sleep since the operation began, and it was finally starting to take its toll. Shaking his head, he aimed to solve that right now, and turned to head back when he noticed something: the hallway, it was gone.

    The barracks was gone.

    In its place were tents, pavilions, and, in a confused daze, he wandered through them until he was standing at the edge of a field of grass and flowers. Some ways ahead he spotted a crowd. In the distance, behind them, a lake. The crowd was huddled together in a semi-wide circle, and he continued toward it, feeling as though something were pushing him gently forward. As he got closer, he heard someone speaking again. That same youthful, though wise-worded voice as before. Most of what was being said was lost to him, and upon reaching the fringes of the crowd there was an explosion of bright light.


    He flinched from its pure intensity, not unlike the one before but yet so different. Covering his eyes as, despite himself, he kept going forward until he was through the throng. Before him was a large stone, with an anvil atop it. Wilhelm blinked rapidly as the light dimmed to a faint glow and saw a… a young man…? No… a… young girl… holding aloft a sword of exquisite beauty.

    "What in..."

    He began to step back but was held still by a heavy hand. He looked up, seeing the hazy outline of a large man whose shaded face didn't mask the rugged complexion of his features or the hefty, gruff weight to his voice as he spoke. That of a seasoned soldier, as he leaned over and whispered down into his ear.

    "Do not shy away. This is something you must bear witness to. This is it, the moment we've all dreamt of but never thought would come true. The reign of a new High King. Arthur, son of Uther, and you, my son, will be his most loyal companion, as was I to his father before him."

    Trying to make sense of what in God's name was going on, the only thing Wilhelm knew was that he wasn't in Berlin anymore. Everything familiar had up and vanished.

    Was it Yggdmillennia's doing? Had he kidnapped him in his sleep and dragged him off to some far away place? Was this another one of his tricks? And—as he found he didn't have complete control of his actions—had that despicable man drugged him?

    He couldn't even move his head or turn away and, gazing at that sword for what seemed like an eternity against his consent, it enveloped him and he thought himself permanently blinded.

    That is, until he awoke with a start.

    Shooting up, he twisted at his chest, heaving. Wide-eyed, he looked around. He was still here. Still in his bed. Still in his barracks. Had it been just a bad dream? No… some kind of nightmare?

    "S… Sire…?"

    He looked over.

    The man who'd been hounding him since last night sat by the foot of his bed, head bowed and voice low. He sounded hurt, and when he looked up a tear rolled down his cheek. There was a rawness to it, like the pain of fresh, open wound. His face was now a portrait of grief, loss, and devastation. That of a man who suffered before and didn't know if he could do it again. Then, as he wiped the tear away, the brief display of emotion was put in check and he was composed, like before.

    Wilhelm waited, expecting him to say something more, but, in the silence that followed, no more words came. Reminded of himself as he studied the man seated by him like a gargoyle—unmoving and hard as stone—Wilhelm felt a kind of comradery, remorsefully knowing exactly where it came from, and, as the silence between them grew, he asked. "You said you aren't... one of Yggdmillennia's followers… are you...?"

    The man gave a nod. "Yes. Nor would I ever."

    "Then… Leutnant…" He had to force the words, the designation that this man didn't deserve, to come out. "First thing 0500… We have some work to do."

    "Yes, Sire. Thank you, sire…"

    Wilhelm rolled over onto his other shoulder, grumbling away the man's thanks and going to bed. Hoping to set his exhausted mind straight, he was disgusted that he felt for the man and his nightly woes.

    And, how little, that sympathy was.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:24 PM.

  3. #23
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    I thought since I've found I've fit really snugly into Bedivere's voice to share a bit of the 5th chapter as I'm already past 1,000 words of a predicted 4,000 length. So, I guess a preview:

    The ravens. There had been magecraft that bound them to some person’s will.

    And, if who he thought was controlling them, then the battle ahead was to be disastrous indeed. Glancing over at his Master ordering his troops as the competent leader Bedivere knew he was, he hoped that he could will himself into striking her down when that time came.

    One day, my dear Griflet, even with your help in bringing to light the misfortunes unseen to her, my dear sister will still fail to see that which is right before her eyes. Blinded by her chivalry, her belief that kingdom comes before king, her wicked day will come. Her honor—that righteous pride she holds so close—shall be her downfall. And, with it, so too shall everything she has sacrificed for crumble to ruin.


    Their fingers caressed each other's skin, hugging tight, becoming one; one mind with a single purpose, intertwined in an eternal embrace.

    … love…

    A dark warmth as he felt her lips on his, and the shudder of her body underneath. Unraveling not long after. Split apart by the very thing they came together in.

    … was an unforgiving thing.

    As, though you act in part her savior, so too will you also be her very undoing. You are kind, my Griflet, far too kind. And, it is your heart, the undying loyalty to her and nobody else, that shall doom all you hold dear.
    Last edited by Historia; March 16th, 2016 at 10:09 PM.

  4. #24
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Oh, and I did these just because:


    * all credit goes to respective authors, etc.
    Last edited by Historia; March 16th, 2016 at 11:11 PM.

  5. #25
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    I'll have to go back again and recontextualize myself with your previous writing, getting the image of Bedivere as a male into my head for those parts, too, but I will say that the transition was less jarring than I imagined it would be. As reluctant as I was, as a reader, to let go of this image I had developed, I think you made a good call.

    For this chapter, I really felt like Wilhelm was becoming more and more believably complex. He's anchoring in my head as a character, and my curiosities about him increase. Once again, your atmospheric details are very good to be so relatively concise. I admire that. I am surprised at how Wilhelm has held onto his skepticism so firmly in a believable way, and seeing him begin to lose that is almost sad even while before I was frustrated that he was denying what he was seeing right in front of his face. It seems like a really believable personal journey unfolding. I also thought that your introduction of the Bedivere connection/back story dreaming was very atmospherically interesting because at first I was quite disoriented in a way that I think sort of matched what Wilhelm was feeling. I was a bit confused by how Wilhelm seemed to be moving and acting in the dream, but then I realized it is as if he is seeing directly through Bedivere's eyes? I hope my interpretation there was right. In any case, I enjoyed it.

    Also, wow. I am very excited about the next chapter. I think that you have a wonderful transition point set up at the end of this one to flow into a Bedivere POV portion. I anticipate it very much, and it seems like a very elegant little slide into that headspace, an appropriate handing off of the torch from Wilhelm to Bedivere. The portion you selected for your preview has already made me very emotionally invested in Bedivere's plight, and the latter portion of his contemplation of his relationship with her is filled with this kind of throat-tightening tenderness that I am amazed you managed to pack into such a few short lines. Good luck as you continue writing!
    Imagine that the world is made out of love. Now imagine that it isn’t.

    Imagine a story where everything goes wrong, where everyone has their back against the wall, where everyone is in pain and acting selfishly because if they don’t, they’ll die.
    Imagine a story, not of good against evil, but of need against need against need, where everyone is at cross-purposes and everyone is to blame.

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

  6. #26
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prix of Heroes View Post
    but then I realized it is as if he is seeing directly through Bedivere's eyes? I hope my interpretation there was right. In any case, I enjoyed it.
    Yes. It was hard for me to convey, and this was the best I could come up with. As you know, Masters receive bits and pieces of their Servant's memories as they dream, and well, let's just say you'll be learning a great deal of Arturia's reign through the eyes of one of her dearest companions.
    Last edited by Historia; March 19th, 2016 at 09:20 AM.

  7. #27
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    Chapter 5

    Gazing out to the early morning sky of red and orange, the first rays of sunrise kissing the top of the city, a small, distant break was in the gathering clouds the only remnants of the previous night.

    Thinking again of the nights Arturia and he shared under those stars, to be able to forget who and what they were; two friends without a care in the world, no greater purpose to their existences than as youths still ignorant of the world and nothing but their dreams laid out before them, far as the eye could see—if only their lives had stayed that way.

    Camelot, during the many years long campaign to free Britain from the clutches of its invaders, had been so rundown, in such disrepair, that nobody would have thought it to be the same luxurious capital in those golden years after. Kay had been the one to thank for most of its renovations, taking it upon himself to be the seneschal of the king. Without him, there would've been no Camelot.

    First serving as the crude base of operations from which to launch their forces, after countless battles—twelve of them decisive victories, one of those being where he lost his arm—the only obstacle in their way to it becoming that almighty symbol of splendor, power, and chivalry had been Vortigern the Usurper. An old enemy of Arturia's father Uther and her uncle, he was the one mainly responsible for leaving Britain exposed to invasion. In his greed in wanting everything for himself, he plunged everything into chaos.

    Years later, after being spirited away for safety, Uther came home only to find it pillaged, plundered, and burned. Destroyed, and subsequently enslaved. Vortigern, being unable to keep things controlled, had hid in his stronghold in the south and abandoning his people, as cowards often do. Uther and his brother quickly gathered an army of their own to quell the situation and what followed was a bloody and seemingly endless war which eventually led to the Battle of Badon Hill, where the tables were turned. In this battle, the invaders had been struck a harsh blow, Vortigern said to be killed, and the war all but won.

    And, for a time, it was.

    Then, Uther's brother was poisoned, like his father and older brother before him, by followers loyal to Vortigern, leaving the title of king to Uther. With the more dangerous of the two dead, the war began anew, and, soon, Uther found himself fending them off alone. Though, after a hard struggle, he finally crushed them thanks to the aid of Gorlois, a duke in his service.

    And so, thus began the tale of Arturia.

    After his victory, Uther fell in love with Gorlois's wife, Igraine. His desire for her was so much that he threatened another war, this time with the duke, and did so. During this war, Merlin transformed Uther to look exactly like Gorlois so that he might sneak into the duke's castle and seduce Igraine. He ended up doing just that, unbeknownst to the real Gorlois, who died in battle some days later. From he and Igraine's union, Arturia was born.

    At least, that was how Bedivere always thought it happened, but, the story Morgana told him later had been a very different version.

    According to her, while the events of leading up to Arturia's birth were more or less the same, her birth itself was the result of a certain Magician's weakness.

    Merlin, adviser to Uther, had convinced their father to pursue a "maiden of the highest purity" and lay with her to conceive an heir who would become "greater than any who came before". For his part, after throttling Gorlois in his sleep and raping Igraine, Uther thought himself the father of a new lineage of God-like kings. Infused with the essence of a red dragon the Magician had said was "the embodiment of Britain's people, their hopes and dreams", "the ultimate ruler, the perfect paragon, the most infallible warrior", was created; a King of Knights. But, in reality, both Uther and his heir were nothing more than pawns in Merlin's scheme to see the world tumble to its inevitable death.

    —He who sees the World knows all, but with this knowledge comes great responsibility—or, in Emrys's mind, great dread. He has seen the End, and, so, with a life steeped in hatred for humanity, sought to help that end come sooner than expected. The death of man, as they had done to the gods before them, and my dear sister, is his tool of vengeance—

    The only thing Bedivere agreed with was that Arturia had truly been a King of Knights, everything else being nothing more than fairytale. Lies spun by Morgana, jealous of her younger sister's crowning as the new king.

    In any case, after they'd united Britain, they learned that Vortigern survived and reoccupied his stronghold in the south. And, with him, one final battle.

    Months before it was to take place, he had suffered the crippling affliction from the loss of his arm. Then, weeks before, he had been given Passelande, Arturia's own personal warhorse before she moved on to an even grander steed. A great charger selectively bred, Passelande had been just as majestic as he was mythical. Blessed by the Lady of the Lake herself, it was Arturia's gift to him for his bravery during that ill-fated battle against the invaders, who afterward had been all but completely broken.

    He remembered the utter defeat of being unable to saddle him.

    At that time, Arturia was on tour to visit all the lands under her rule in the short break leading up to facing the Usurper to rally support and boost morale for a last push. While she was fine in dealing with the petty kings—enough of them had thankfully flocked to her during her struggle and were willing to do so again to meet Vortigern in battle and defeat him once and for all—he knew that she would not be with everyone else. He'd known that without him there by her side that she would try to uphold the lessons taught by Merlin of what humanity was. Fail to see her subjects for what they truly were. For, despite his dismissive of Morgana's tale, he later learned that Merlin was not human himself. With the unnatural length of time the Magician had been alive, unlike with Arturia being half-human and half-dragon, he realized what her warning of Merlin's evil meant: he wasn't able to understand humans, and had passed this lack of understanding down to Arturia. Because of this, in being unable to empathize with her subjects, even if she managed to win, without approval from those she led, a king who didn't have the heart of their subjects was nothing more than a tyrant, and Britain didn't need another.

    So, even though she ordered him to remain at the castle and continue his recovery, even though she had said she would have no need of him, she still did. Someone to help her understand. Who better than her right-hand? At least, then. And after. For a long while. And, despite his devotion to the role, Kay had been no substitute.

    Where Arturia went, he went. Always.

    And nothing was ever going to break them apart, so long as he had still drawn breath.

    The dreams they shared still fresh in his mind, Bedivere stood against one of the many pillars that supported the capital building of the city where down below, in its square, were all the men under his Master's command. The Reichstag, it was called, and it was being used as a temporary training area for the troops. He watched them go about their daily exercise routines, rifles at their shoulders and discipline in their step. All five hundred of them.

    Two hundred reinforcements had been commissioned to bolster the already significant force, the request made after Lancer's Master agreed to that vile man's terms. That, unless they worked together to defeat the odds stacked against them, nobody would win the Grail. Last night was clear evidence of some dark magecraft at work, but, while this unseen threat was no doubt frighteningly powerful, it would be fatal to assume this alliance of theirs would last. He couldn't guess their intentions, and thus couldn't trust them.

    … Not that he would have even if he did, with the way both of them seemed to expect the explosion before it happened.

    There was definitely something else between them, going on in the shadows.

    And it went without mentioning that the two men had also since disappeared.

    Yes, Leutnant Meier said Obersturmbannführer Yggdmillennia had left on official business, taking "Mr. Makiri" with him, leaving any further preparations unattended and in their care for a few days. Laid out for them was a set of instructions that Leutnant Meier then promptly listed off and his Master, after telling the Leutnant to discreetly poke around and unearth more details, had ignored in favor of personally seeing to it that the men were being kept in shape and fit for the combat they would see later on. Barking orders, pointing and shouting as they worked in tandem with one another, each man doing the exact same as the one behind and in front of him, his Master was truly a leader of men. Bedivere expected no less.

    A well-trained, well-equipped, masterfully lead army was the ruler of the battlefield, and any soldier worth their sword could see that the men of this army, arrayed in neat columns and rows and so in sync they were a single entity, was a force to be feared. He was fondly reminded of the Roman legions of old, those battle-hardened legionarii who for one reason or another were stuck fending off the hordes of invaders on Britain's shore alone, after his sudden death. Cut off from Byzantium in the east, in dire times that required dire decisions, before even Vortigern became king, rallied behind their leader to drive those first waves of invaders and their like back to lands whence they came.

    When Vortigern had been defeated, some of them were revealed to still be alive, and those willing were invited to join Arturia's court as protectors of peace and order, becoming the backbone of her rule in those early days. A few of their number had even joined the inner circle that was Arturia's Companions, which was later expanded into the Round Table known far and wide. Arturia's Companions turned into Arturia's Knights, the Knights of the Round Table, ushering in a new era that lasted even many more years until…

    He tightened his only fist.

    "Something the matter?"

    Emely sat on the step, film camera tucked underneath her raincoat—another modern invention she hadn't minded explaining about—to keep it dry. Overhead, the sky was a blanket of light gray. Rain, a shower so punishing each drop was like a well-placed arrow piercing his armor, that had been hammering down on their heads the whole day, was now a peck on their shoulders, barely even noticeable. It was starting to let up.

    Thunder rumbled in the distance. "Nothing to trouble yourself over," he said, catching the slight concern in her voice.

    And, realizing his non-existent arm had unconsciously went up to fix his hood, the loss still ailing him even when it shouldn't have, Bedivere cursed his lack of self-control yet again. He couldn't relax, deep down in his gut, the sins of what he'd done still swimming in the mirth that was his drowned soul.

    It appeared he couldn't completely hide it, either, for Emely adopted a more somber tone. "Reminds you of automatons, doesn't it?" she said, eyes on the men below. "How they always put the same foot down, right-left, forward-back, turn, and all that." Breaking out in a faint smile then, a thin crack than the usual fissure, she shook her head with a soft chuckle. "The well-oiled machine of the Third Reich. Beautiful, isn't it?"

    "Yes," he said, drawing his raincoat closer around himself. The sleeker fabrics of this era brought recollections of the own sheepskin and wool cloaks of his time, which paled in comparison. Regardless, wrapping himself in their warmth—the fond memories of his youth—he found himself start to relax. With those men—and some women—of whom he shared many struggles, did he stand slightly less rigid. He smiled, just a tad. "Very."

    And, what seemed to have become commonplace, he listened to Emely talk.

    As she rambled on about whatever suited her fancy, he thought further of those he fought beside.

    Of Arturia.

    When she first became king, her standard had been little better than a white blanket on a long pole. A sign of a king who had not yet earned his place. To prove his, or—in Arturia's case though the majority did not know it—her, worth, a great showing would have to be made. Of strength, strategy, and all the right qualities needed in a ruler. Most of all, the ruler of all Britain.

    Then, after Vortigern's defeat, after the last invaders had finally been driven to the coasts and shores, had that white little standard turned into that of a great king's: a large banner of blue and silver. On it was a fearsome dragon, its claws extended and ready to strike, with mouth agape and spewing fire to light enemies aflame. A symbol of power and authority. The Pendragon.

    And, then, he thought of Guinevere.

    Guinevere, daughter of King Leodegrance of Cameliard, and Queen of Camelot. Two years younger than either he or Arturia, just a girl during those early years, she had been one of the first to join the cause as an honorary Companion. Instrumental in uniting them, if not for her knowledge and stratagem in politics and negotiation, then none of the petty kings—even King Mark—would have given Arturia the benefit of the doubt. Without her, along with Kay, would there be no Camelot. For, also, entrusted to her father had been another of Uther's legacy: the Round Table.

    Intelligent, beautiful, and not afraid to speak her mind or intermingle with the men, Guinevere… She…

    —Even with your help in bringing to light the misfortunes unseen by her…—

    Had meant something.

    —… my dear sister will still fail to see that which is right before her eyes…—

    More than what she had been wrongly labeled as.

    —Blinded by her chivalry, her belief that kingdom comes before king, her wicked day shall come—

    Better than an adulteress or a whore or a witch. Least of all a traitor who—there was a flash and he spun, seeing Emely standing there with her film camera.

    "S-Sorry!" she screeched, taken aback by his sudden reaction, staring at him from behind the bulb attached to it. "You just looked… so… sad. Perfect material… a-and all that."

    Bedivere realized then that he was looming over her, his back to the spectacle in the square. A life of constant fighting, of living in unspoken fear of the axe that would come to sever his head as it had done his hand, had given him a speed regarded as inhuman by his peers. If she had been a barbarian, a raider, or marauder, if what held was a weapon instead of a toy, he would've struck her down without hesitation. His blood ran cold at the thought. He stepped back and apologized.

    Emely's gaze went to her feet. "I… I didn't mean… to…"

    She went quiet and he lowered his head. How stupid of him. Letting his emotions get the better of him and almost…

    —Her honor—that righteous pride she holds so close—will be her downfall—

    And, head in his hand in despair that night so long ago, after spending its entirety fumbling in frustration with his horse and saddle, had been that familiar voice…

    Not quite a whisper, but quiet enough so that intimacy was the only way to hear her words. The shadow of her small frame in the doorway, caught in the torchlight. The soft sound of her bare feet going lightly across the floor, to rest a slender hand on his naked shoulder. Taking a hold of his right arm, pressing her body into his, pulling the stump to her cheek. When he had tried to pull away, not letting him go, sliding her arms over his bare chest. Golden hair, loose around her shoulders, as she nuzzled him and rested her head upon his shoulder, like a pony. Then, drawing away. And, when he turned to look at her, seeing the dark circles underneath her moistened green eyes.

    —With it, so too shall everything she has sacrificed for crumble into ruin—

    Her soft lips suddenly on his.

    —As, though you act in part as her savior…—

    Her naked body, those gentle curves, guiding him along.

    —… so too will you also be her very undoing—

    All reason lost, shoved aside by loneliness.

    —You are kind, my love—


    —Far too kind—

    … love…

    —And, it is your heart…—

    Intertwined in an eternal embrace.

    —… the undying loyalty to her and nobody else…—

    The shudder of her underneath, as they came together as one.

    —… that shall doom all you hold dear.—

    … was an unforgiving thing.

    He still remembered the morning after, when she had kept true to her words and helped him saddle Passelande. Once he was ready, twisting back to look down upon her and for a moment seen the innocent young girl she was, instead of the worldly young woman she had turned into, and, eventually, the mature woman she would grow up to be, shuttered. But, thanks to her, he'd been able to catch up with Arturia before it had been too late.

    "The birds. They're still hanging around," he heard Emely say, after awhile.

    He looked up, seeing a couple perched in the arches of the building above their heads, sheltering themselves from the rain. Ravens.

    Unlike what he'd sensed from last night, these didn't have magecraft coursing through their bodies. Didn't have someone binding them to their will with invisible chains around their necks. There was only one he knew who utilized their keen eyes and sharp tongues… But, trying to get his mind away from the thought of her before he lost himself again, Bedivere surfaced back to the present, hearing Emely now say something about the woman standing a few pillars down from them.

    "She looks lonely. Why don't we…" Emely began, but he was already by the woman's side. And, taking one look at her: ivory skin dusted in gold, eyes the shade of spring, long, silver hair reaching over her shoulders… to anyone who saw her she was someone you couldn't keep your gaze from wandering. Tall, back straight, her arms crossed, with a lean figure that denoted her as an athlete, she was nothing short of divine and… to him…


    … a quick and deadly fighter worthy of extreme caution.

    She was that vile man's Servant, and, it was strange, for her to be here instead of with her Master. At first, he had thought she was keeping an eye on his Master, as last night. Now, he wasn't certain.

    The ravens. If who he thought was really controlling them, Bedivere hoped he could strike her down when that time came. But, he didn't want to jump to any conclusions.

    "We have to talk."

    He needed answers, and didn't want to be proven right.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:31 PM.

  8. #28
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Also, next chapter preview:

    Liesel rushed to her counterpart's side and first began healing her by stopping the internal bleeding, but before she could start mending Josefine's rips her counterpart spat blood at her, telling her they should have killed the magus as soon as he entered instead of letting him walk away. To which, she responded, would have resulted in unnecessary death. Either the magus would have ended their lives, or they his, and the one to ultimately suffer in the end would be their Lord, when the other caught wind of her partner's demise.

    "Ilsev... iel..." Josefine wheezed through a collapsed chest cavity, face contorted as she struggled to stand, slowly making her way over to the child and, after picking her up, gave a hate-filled glance in their Lord's direction as she lowered her head and started walking away.

    "Where are you taking her?" Liesel asked as her counterpart passed her by and took to the stairs. She frowned, watching as Josefine labored to climb even the first few and, with a sigh, told her to put the child down. "Let me help." Now going up together, the child between them, she asked the same question as before.

    "To... her... room," was the rasping reply, as Josefine heaved, wincing with each breath and every step. Her ribcage needed immediate attention. The girl, too, was still out of sorts and appeared in worse shape than before. And, as they came to her room same as the previous night, Avenger manifested in a red swirl of rage.


    Ignoring his query, Liesel assisted Josefine in setting Ilseviel gently on her bed. Closing the door behind her—and doing her best to repair the damage, she left her still coughing counterpart to stay by the girl's side. Again, Avenger asked the same question. And, recalling the Ancestor's words...

    A daughter is a precious gift, just as precious as any son. She is a wonder just as great, a person in her own right. She is not a vessel for family pride, but a person born equal to men. She is entitled to make as many mistakes as any other and still be a full recipient of family love. She is not property to be coveted, but a sacred thing. Her own individual. So, take care of your daughter and know she is a blessing in full measure.

    ... did she give her answer: "Because love... is a dangerous thing."
    Last edited by Historia; March 25th, 2016 at 01:00 PM.

  9. #29
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed reading this and seeing where it is going. This time, I felt a little bit lost in the syntax at times. I think that it might be partly me, but especially in the first half of the chapter there are a number of sentences where it feels like there are words missing? And sometimes I think they are sort of stylistically omitted for tone, but I found myself getting a bit confused. That's just a structural note, in case it helps you.

    Also, I feel a bit dumb and I'm still suffering from the flu, so forgive me if this is just a dumb comprehension fail, but: Following out of the previous chapter and into this one, with the chapter preview provided, I was pretty certain that the person Bedivere loved, whom it was dangerous to love, was Morgan?

    It was probably because of this sentence:

    The ravens. If who he thought was really controlling them, Bedivere hoped he could strike her down when that time came.
    And now it has been detached in the narrative, so I am now getting the impression that you have altered Gwen's adultery to be with Bedivere? I know that you said from some of your background reading that you had started to ship them, so I think this could make sense, but it sort of seems like that even in the draft that exists now that you are mixing the description of stuff with the ravens - which I took to be about Morgan? - and his thoughts about Guinevere in such a way that it is hard to parse the two apart. Honestly, I think that it's not necessarily that you're failing as that I'm not following, given that you obviously have immersed yourself and really committed to knowing that Arthurian narrative and its variations such that you can do your own version of it. It's just something that is throwing me.

    In any case, I think that despite my confusion that Bedivere's internal conflict reads as very valid and true, even if I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. I really appreciated how you showed how much he cares about Arturia in a way that doesn't conflate all forms of love with being in love with someone. Lots of people do that, particularly when it comes to male/female bonds, so I think that you're showing a nuance to the way Bedivere cares about different people, which is nice.
    Imagine that the world is made out of love. Now imagine that it isn’t.

    Imagine a story where everything goes wrong, where everyone has their back against the wall, where everyone is in pain and acting selfishly because if they don’t, they’ll die.
    Imagine a story, not of good against evil, but of need against need against need, where everyone is at cross-purposes and everyone is to blame.

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

  10. #30
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prix of Heroes View Post
    I really enjoyed reading this and seeing where it is going. This time, I felt a little bit lost in the syntax at times. I think that it might be partly me, but especially in the first half of the chapter there are a number of sentences where it feels like there are words missing? And sometimes I think they are sort of stylistically omitted for tone, but I found myself getting a bit confused. That's just a structural note, in case it helps you.
    It does. Thank you. Reading it back to myself it sounded alright the first and second times around, but that was yesterday when my brain was hooked on the idea of 'this is good'. Now I see it could use some smoothing over.

    See, this is why a second pair of eyes is ideal.

    Also, I feel a bit dumb and I'm still suffering from the flu, so forgive me if this is just a dumb comprehension fail, but: Following out of the previous chapter and into this one, with the chapter preview provided, I was pretty certain that the person Bedivere loved, whom it was dangerous to love, was Morgan?
    And you aren't wrong.

    So I am now getting the impression that you have altered Gwen's adultery to be with Bedivere?

    but it sort of seems like that even in the draft that exists now that you are mixing the description of stuff with the ravens - which I took to be about Morgan? - and his thoughts about Guinevere in such a way that it is hard to parse the two apart.

    It's just something that is throwing me.
    Guinevere's adultery was a fabrication by some rich woman who wanted her adultery fantasy on paper. Some people have weird fetishes. But, uh, I guess you can say yeah, I am. That lady's fan-fiction was bullshit.

    And, yes, they are overlapping one another. I thought it made sense. Bedivere is remembering Morgan's warning that he'll screw everyone over because of his kind heart and his devotion to his King. His love is destructive.
    Last edited by Historia; March 25th, 2016 at 06:53 PM.

  11. #31
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    I believe if you look back through the chapters you might start to notice a theme with that.

    Liesel puts it best in that preview:

    "Because love... is a dangerous thing."

    - - - Updated - - -

    Two major themes in this are: what is love (baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more), and having the ability to change.

  12. #32
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrapnel View Post
    I believe if you look back through the chapters you might start to notice a theme with that.

    Liesel puts it best in that preview:

    "Because love... is a dangerous thing."

    - - - Updated - - -

    Two major themes in this are: what is love (baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more), and having the ability to change.
    I have noticed this. Being able to work with themes in a work is a nice feeling when it actually goes well. I think you're doing a good job so far.
    Imagine that the world is made out of love. Now imagine that it isn’t.

    Imagine a story where everything goes wrong, where everyone has their back against the wall, where everyone is in pain and acting selfishly because if they don’t, they’ll die.
    Imagine a story, not of good against evil, but of need against need against need, where everyone is at cross-purposes and everyone is to blame.

    Blog of Fiction for You to Consume
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.

  13. #33
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    Chapter 6

    Hands on her hips, sleeves rolled up, striped down to her black-collared dress and feet bare, Liesel assessed what remained of the summoning chamber now that most of the rubble was cleared away.

    The only things left to do required nothing more than a simple broom to sweep away and wiping a grimy hand on her forehead and turning her attention up to the enormous hole in the chamber ceiling, sunlight shone down from it, spotlighting the incantation circle permanently seared into the floor. It still steamed, days old, and she watched as Sofine meticulously guided her broom around it, a pile of burnt bristles and brooms in the corner of the chamber. Hopefully it would cool down soon as they only had so many brooms to spare.

    A blackened stain was visible in the incantation circle's center.

    … Ilseviel had also been damaged.

    Acting as a conduit for the pillar of light that was "the Servant answering it summons", Ilseviel borne burns over her entire body from what the Ancestor had called "a harmless bout of the Servant's wrath". A small price to pay for victory, she said, and, of Ilseviel's burns, one stood out: an ugly crimson brand beneath her right eye. Undoubtedly her three Command Spells. Meaning the ritual had been a success, but, not without consequence, just as she'd thought. Which, begged the question: how many of these "small prices" would they have to pay, before the War's end?

    —Before you stands Angra Mainyu, All the World's Evil, as he truly is—

    That night, after hearing those words, Liesel had thought him to be a thing of shadow, disaster, and death like the one who'd summoned him, though he was the embodiment of all that was wrong with the world in a very different fashion.

    —Though he may be merely a boy, inside him is a rage rampant and wild—

    … An unfortunate soul sacrificed by his people for the evil he was said to bore, chosen as the one to carry all the evil in the world in his heart because of their simple-minded beliefs, cleansed so that they might not suffer their God's fury. An insignificant, pitiful, and hate-filled youth who wanted one and only thing: revenge.

    —Such a sad thing, what humans do to one another, to ease their troubled minds…—

    First impressions aside, just because there was no convincing her this boy to be a threat, didn't mean there wasn't one. Even now, with the War only little over a week away, there was no doubt in her mind that the other Masters were already making their moves and securing their holds, and it was high time they did the same. Thus, now the question was: with their Master injured and Servant underwhelming, how would they go about it?

    Bringing a large guard of homunculi to accompany them would only draw unnecessary attention. Alternatively, having only she and Josefine—while they were both trained in the art of combat and able to hold their own solidly enough—were no match for a Servant alone, regardless of the class. Therefore, their best chance was either fool's luck, or a small, special force comprised of competent homunculi who, together, could protect Ilseviel and Avenger. Her shoulders slumped.

    If only they had such a force.

    "So, then, why not just create one yourself?" the Apostle quipped, having come beside her presence unannounced and equally as uninvited.

    Giving her a sideways glance Liesel often found herself doing to avoid the pull of those eyes, it took all of her inner strength to not let her gaze travel down. "Do you usually make it a habit to invade the minds of those who show you hospitality, or is that only when it amuses you?"

    She heard the Apostle chuckle, and imagined her smiling eerily. It sent a chill down her spine. "Only those whom I have an interest in."

    "Well, whatever you may think or might have seen, simply 'creating one myself' is not an easily accomplished task."

    "Oh? Are you so certain? I believe you would be able to do it. The very least you can do, is try."

    Those words harking back to a time better left forgotten stung her, and, when Liesel felt her eyes move away, she dared to look. Smaller in stature, two full heads' worth to be exact, the Apostle was no longer an ancient ready to embrace death, but, a young girl, eager to confront it, skin smooth and pristine, with lips fuller, and eyes even colder. It was almost comical, if not for the fact that even as she was now, the Apostle was still capable of decimating entire countries alone if given the incentive to do so.

    "As you guessed, the ritual—materials, summoning, and all—had taken a greater toll than I imagined," she revealed, in answer to the unasked question of how and why. "Therefore, to conserve what little I have left, this is the form I have assumed; one that I shed nearly a millennium ago. I think it suits me quite well. Would you not agree?"

    Brow furrowed, Liesel closed her eyes, unamused. "Was your only goal in coming here to irritate me?" When she opened them again, she dared look into those eyes.

    "No need to glare, child."

    Not wishing to deal with her any longer, Liesel turned her attention back to Sofine. The girl was trying her hardest not to stumble, trip, or otherwise fall all over herself. The anxiety of that day, that fear of making another punishable mistake, still loomed heavily over her shoulders. She saw from the corner of her eye, the top of the Ancestor's head, as it tilted up to where the stained glass portrait of the Grail's conceptualization had once been. Gathered about it were many ravens, crowded around the one she always observed, and, eyeing them rather closely, almost as if she could see into their black, feathered bodies, the Ancestor let out a short, ugly show of dark bemusement.

    "Curious creatures, are they not?

    "No," she snapped back, tired of their little game of cat and mouse they'd been playing since the Apostle arrived and decided to stay. It'd been like this for the past few days and gone on as long as she could stand anymore. She told Sofine to be on her way and soon as the girl was gone—pile of brooms, debris, and all—met the Apostle's eyes once more and held it this time. "So, are you ready to tell me what you're doing here? "What is your interest in our affairs truly is?"

    … And the smile she'd imagined? It was there in full.

    "Such a strong, deviant child," the Apostle said, her swirling, black pupils in a deep, dark, bottomless void. "Justeaze chose well."

    At the casual mention of the Lady's name, Liesel's body trembled and she couldn't tell if it was because of her failing functionality, or, the anger she felt for harboring emotions that she shouldn't have developed in the first place. Anger that she couldn't quite control, no matter her efforts. Fear, that wouldn't go away and she was ashamed to admit she possessed. Her lip back curled in disgust.

    "Answer the question," she snarled.

    "Very well," the Apostle said, seeming to give a shrug. I might, in due time, but, right now, I would rather stay here for a little while longer and… observe." She broke eye contact, going back to the ravens. "Such lovely creatures…"


    "Why, is that not obvious?"

    She scowled. "No, it isn't."

    "Do you not think it odd that they are gathered all within this one place?"

    "... What?"

    She smiled. "You'll see soon."

    With that said, the Apostle began to disappear, blending into the shadows from whence she first appeared, leaving a whisper of farewell that echoed in Liesel's mind.

    I wish you well, child. Till next we shall meet…

    Now alone with the ravens, Liesel was left to wander in her thoughts, lost in those memories best left alone, searching for answers to questions long abandoned, and knowing that she would never find them.

    "Create one myself, indeed," she scoffed, before turning on her heel and heading back to the castle.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:36 PM.

  14. #34
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    Chapter 7

    A gentle, much welcomed breeze tugged at Anniina Edelfelt's hair as she gazed out at the city of Hachiōji, Tokyo, below. Surrounded by mountains, it was bereft of the clutter, noise, and pollution that plagued those places further west and brushing aside brunette curls dangling down her forehead like the many paper lanterns lit outside the tiny, slant-roofed houses of the neighborhood, a light fog from a late night shower had rolled in within the last several hours, making the lanterns seem like will-o'-wisps in the gloom. There were thousands of them, and if she were still the little girl who dreamed of fairies and griffons, she would've believed that beneath them laid the buried treasure and sacred tombs of her ancestors.

    … But, that was before she and her sister were sent to a foreign land far from their own to study the arcane arts.

    Before they had become proper magi.

    A land where modernization thrived, and the tales of old died.

    Where the little girl she used to be died along with them.

    And now, they were somewhere else even farther away, to participate in a war neither of them had even heard of until recently. The Holy Grail War—it was the only thing that mattered, the only thing that'd secure her family's place in the world of magi and assert their holdings within the Clock Tower.

    Watching the train that always came thundering down through the neighbor from the south, carrying shipments of supplies needed for the other "great war" at the tip of everyone's tongue, filling the sky with a thick, black, and ugly smog, she was glad that the battlefield—their battlefield—was far removed from the ongoing circumstances. The concerns of the nations fighting in this second "war to end all wars" meant little to her.

    They were being sent straight into the jaws of death, and had half a mind to trade in her gems for a brush and follow the same path as her great-grandfather. Strive to become successful like he was, and live happily ever after without fear of her family's disappointment, but, akin to committing suicide, the thought was something so shameful and cowardly that it'd be better to simply plummet to her death than live with the humiliation. She imagined the first thing for people to see in the morning to be her corpse, splattered across the dirt street below and laughed bitterly.

    Almost as if he were there to stop her, her Servant materialized, standing upon the very spot she might have decided to throw herself if she were to actually go through with the selfish act and leave her twin to fight alone.

    One of the most prominent heroes from her homeland, he was little more than a shade of his true self, and, catching the tail end of the train as it disappeared into the mountains, Anniina didn't want to be reminded of herself whenever she looked upon his visage.

    The mountains.

    Somewhere on it sat the ruins of the castle said to be haunted by the ghosts of its fallen defenders and the enemies that'd slain them. Horses could be heard galloping, soldiers' screams echoing, and the clashing of arms reverberating throughout its forests during the early hours of 2 to 3 o'clock. The witching hour, when the veil between the land of dead and the land of living was at its thinnest. Yūrei, what the local's word for them was. Apparitions.

    Though, after staking them out for the last week these claims were nothing more than the imagination of the ignorant, and if there were any real truth to them, she would've noticed something by now. Especially the raising of the dead.

    Rather, they were leylines—ancient earth energies that amplified magecraft underneath the ground—found in every corner of the world.

    Rarely plentiful enough to hold abundant sources of power, sometimes—such as the case with these "apparitions"—they were known to cause hallucinations. Places of nature, the forest—or the mountains themselves—and not the castle, was the real culprit here.

    Even so, unless the battlefield brought them there it wasn't worth the time to investigate further, go in for a closer look, better spent doing final preparations in order to come out victorious in the War.

    Resting her head on her arms, she brought her knees to her chest. Perched on the second floor balcony of the mansion their parents commissioned for them years in advance, perilously close to its edge, what she wanted was what any normal older sibling would: for her sister to be safe. That no harm should come to her, so long as she lived. In Annaliisa's place would she willingly give her own life to see the future of the Edelfelt bloodline succeeded, and, perhaps, to be remembered not as a failure, but, a savior.

    That was all she could hope to find here, when it came down to it.

    Some more hours later, she still sat at the same spot, looking at the sun reaching over the mountains and bathing the city in its light, washing it clean and freeing it momentarily from the shackles of industry, as everything stopped so that everyone might pray. Pray for those souls lost fighting over the summer, as they wallowed in darkness forever. For those that were still fighting, as the most recent conflict, while at a standstill at the moment, would no doubt continue into the month. Paper lanterns were replaced with incense, and the sweet fragrance of burning, scented candles wafted up to the mansion, carried by the wind.

    ... The God Izanagi no Mikoto,

    With all the respect from the depth of our hearts,

    We ask that they hear us, such as the spirit that hears our intent,

    With sharpened ears, together with the spirits of the Sky and the Land,

    Take the badness, disasters, and sins and purify all.

    For expansion of our souls.

    And the fulfillment of your will…

    Today they were to meet with the new supervisor from the Holy Church who was to preside over the War because the outcome of the previous one proved that magi couldn't be trusted to govern themselves.

    The Holy Church was already on uneven terms with the Association, and now they were intruding upon a ritual solely designed for magi, by magi, and, while she didn't mind the intrusion, her sister did. Annaliisa was thick-headed, quick-tempered, and not afraid to voice her discontent with the things in life that she could do without. If this supervisor and she were to meet it would cause trouble and widen the rift between the Church and Association in the process. Furthermore, not without mentioning, their chances of winning would also be at risk. So, not only would they spark conflict with the two organizations, but also their parents, if they ended up losing because of it.

    And she'd rather not face the consequences of either.

    "What ails you, my other little maiden fair?" her sister's Servant, the real Saber, wholly intact in body and mind—unlike hers—whispered. Standing behind her, sly as a cat, he purred in her ear. "Is it my other half. How he is not the same as I?"

    It tickled. "Not exactly."

    She felt her neck tingle, his hair brushing her skin.

    He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, holding her tight, snug and warm in his burly embrace. "Does this help to soothe such a sorry sight?"

    She took his hand in hers, and squeezed. "Yes, it does. Now unhand me."

    He did, slowly. "Very well." Light-footed, he slunk back with a gentleman's grin. "Quite resistant to my charms, as only the very best women should be."

    When she turned to look upon him, the tickle became an itch. The result of his geis, enticing men and women alike to his charming wooes. A spell she'd properly protected herself against, and judging by the lingering aroma of his nightly escapades, many others in the time since his summoning hadn't.

    His eyes twinkling behind tousled brown hair speckled grey, their mesmerizing green like the sea upon the shore, his features were strong and defined, face and body nurtured and raised from the earth itself. He was nothing short of handsome and, as he said his farewells she couldn't help but wonder why her Saber was so vastly different.

    Where Annaliisa's Saber was tall, hers was short.

    Where her Saber was well-built, hers was pathetically so.

    Where hers was merry, hers was gloomy.

    Where he was striking, he was dull.

    Her sister's Servant was the embodiment of his legend, while hers… wasn't. They were supposed to be one and the same, but…

    She turned from the ledge, now seeing him by the balcony entrance.

    Where her sister's Servant was charming, her Servant was uninviting.

    He stood there awkward and stiff, and when she asked what he wanted, the massive, black sword across his back, naked and plain, rusty, spoke for him, informing her that her sister waited for her downstairs.

    "It would be within your best interest not to tarry long, little lamp," it said.

    For him to be mute and his weapon to be his mouthpiece was quite the shock when she first summoned him, but, now it was something she was convinced had to do with his current state though the sword declined to elaborate.

    "Thank you," she said, finally getting up.

    And mark her words, whatever it was, she would find out sooner or later even if she had to threaten it over a blacksmith's melting pot. For, she knew, it could mean the difference between attaining her wish, and not.

    "... Finally!"

    A scarf wrapped around her neck, rubbing her mittened hands together in the cold, her twin sister's golden-blonde hair, normally curled, hung straight down past her shoulders, damp.

    "Just look at this! These clothes are so...! And, my hair is…!" She held up a clump of wet and twisted ends. "And it's all his fault!"

    Kicking her Servant, he just laughed and rubbed her head, making it even worse. "Ah! What's the matter, my little maiden fair?"

    "You, obviously," the sword said.

    "Surely not I? Why, it was the puddle's fault!"

    "Grrr! Forget it!" Annaliisa screamed, stomping off down the road. "Let's just go and get this over with! Come on, Anni!"

    Ignoring the beauty of the country in its late summer season, she carved a fiery, feisty path to the church. If anything, her steaming temper would dry her out in little to no time at all.

    "Quite the fire inside that one. A very sought after quality when she becomes a bride, someday soon," the sword remarked, as they walked along. "And, you, yourself, my little lamp, are—"

    She tossed it one nasty look back, and it fell silent.

    Sakura trees swayed above their heads, cherry blossoms falling around them, their pink petals littering the path.

    At seventeen years of age, they were at their peak to be wed to the most desirable of them. It was a tradition that both of them could look forward to, and her only option to redeem herself in her parents' eyes if they failed to claim the Grail, but, if she could help it that'd be a long ways off and no damned sword was going to tell her otherwise and before long, still catching the occasional curious stare they arrived at the church, where a man in the black cloth of the Church stood waiting at the entrance, an inviting smile upon his face. As they approached, he bowed respectively.

    "Welcome, Lady Edelfelts. It's a pleasure that we finally make acquaintances. My name is Risei Kotomine, and I am the designated Overseer for what they are calling this Third Holy Grail War." He opened the door. "After you."

    "As it should be." Annaliisa shouldered past him, her Saber going in straight after, apologizing for his Master's behavior as he did.

    "And same to you," Anniina said.

    "Thank you, ma'am," the man replied, closing the door and re-lighting candles on his way up to his podium.

    The church was small, barely large enough to fit twenty people. With five people, it already felt cramped, but, unbeknownst to them, there were two other guests here, as well, for a total of seven. Eyeing them, one a boy around their age and the other a woman many years older, they could none other be a Master and his Servant—or, a Master and her Servant. She was inclined to think more the former, than the latter and, just the same, so too were they being eyed closely. The woman smiled. The boy smirked. Mockingly so. Annaliisa glared back and Kotomine must've caught the animosity rising in the room, so he cleared his throat and introduced them.

    "Yes, my apologies. I had forgotten to inform you, but since all of you happened to be in the vicinity, I have decided to host one meeting instead of two. As such, Lady Edelfelts and Servants, if you will, please meet Lord Tohsaka and his. Lord Tohsaka and Servant, if you will, please meet the Lady Edelfelts and theirs."

    He clapped his hands together, dispersing it from the room.

    The boy was quick to offer his hand to her sister, but, at such a gesture—not even mentioning the fame of their family, how they were the first greatest in all of Finland, her beauty—Annaliisa scoffed, lifting her nose at the boy and his Servant. "Don't approach me, you r—"

    "Hello, there!" her Saber said, waving a hand at them, interrupting what could very well have been the first blow of the War.

    "Likewise," the boy's Servant replied.

    Their eyes locked, but, whatever moment they shared, passed with not a thought as they rightly ignored one another immediately after. The woman then moved on to her.

    "And to you, as well."

    Anniina nodded, but said nothing in return. For some strange reason, she felt no need to. Was compelled, not to. She'd already shielded herself from any and all outside influences—otherwise, again, Annaliisa's Servant would've added her to his repertoire already—so then… why couldn't she speak back?

    Undoubtedly noticing her putting up more barriers between them and checking the integrity of those she already had, the Servant giggled harmlessly. "Oh, I assure you, my dear, I have no tricks up my sleeves by which to sway you. No need to be so cautious." The smile widened. "At least, not for some time to come."

    Figure curvaceous beneath dark clothing that clung rather loosely from her person, caught in the glow of the candles, and pale, sky blue eyes with braided hair blacker than midnight, Tohsaka's Servant was a captivatingly, hauntingly beautiful.

    And, as the Overseer began to speak again, Saber leaned closer, the sword speaking into her ear. "It would be wise to watch this one at all times," it warned.

    It didn't have to tell her that twice.

    Just what, Anniina wondered, touching her breast and feeling how fast her heartbeat while her blood ran cold, had their parents gotten them involved in?

    "... As you all are very well aware, the Holy Church has appointed me to preside over this Third Holy Grail War and to see that nothing unfortunate happens that would result in a mass loss of life, as the Second had. Master Tohsaka, I believe you know full well what I am referring to, but, as I understand it this is the first time the Edelfelt family of magi have been a part of something such as this. Therefore, if you would allow me to explain the reasoning behind my presence here to them, I would kindly ask that you and your Servant relieve yourselves for the time being..."

    "You may, Overseer," Tohsaka said. Turning to leave, he called for his Servant to follow after. But, she stayed.

    "I, also, have a desire to know," his Servant said. "If that is permissible, Master?"

    She was asking his approval, yet Anniina felt that this Servant of Tohsaka's was not so easily obedient.

    "Is it, Overseer?"

    "I see no problem," Kotomine replied. "Ultimately, it is up to the Lady Edelfelts."

    "Who cares! I just want to get this o—mhhmp!" Annaliisa's outburst was covered by her Saber's hand, as he again apologized for her brash behavior. "Let go of me!" she managed to huff after a brief, sibling-like struggle.

    "As you say, my little maiden fair."

    "That's better." She shoved him and turned back to Kotomine. "Well? Go on then," she said, gesturing.

    Anniina frowned. Glancing over at Tohsaka's Servant, they shared a brief look. A strange, almost warm familiarity.

    And waiting long enough for any tension to settle and Tohsaka had seen himself out, Kotomine began anew:

    "Sixty years ago, the event known to us as the Second Holy Grail War occurred…" He paused momentarily, mulling over his words. "Yes, to call it a war would be nothing short of accurate. Nobody, save for those involved, knows what exactly transpired during that time, but, for what I have been told it was utterly gruesome.

    Originally a formal gathering where all seven Servants were summoned, the participants swiftly turned it into a massacre with no regard for the lives around them and nothing of the global repercussions their actions would bring. Or, perhaps, that was the intention all along. As, years later, one of the largest conflicts in human history, as a direct result, shook the world because of it.

    Just so, it was 'The Great War' of 1914 . And, now, it appears we are about to be plunged into a second. While it might be too late to stop the storm that is inevitably to come, the least we can do is make certain that a third never sees fruition. That is my reason for being here.

    And, for the sake of preventing magi from murdering one another in the streets with no heed for the consequences, the Holy Church has hereby intervened and I hope that you both understand: while this may be your Third, we would not like one of our own."

    "A justifiable reason as any," Tohsaka's Servant said. "Though, is it not because the Holy Church wants to obtain the holy chalice for themselves, as well? By stealing it from under the sight of those participating, they might wish this inevitable second war averted. Or, you, yourself."

    "Very observant. While those above me would like to think this 'Holy Grail' to be the same that the Lord drank from, they are merely observers in a game I am the moderator of. I take my orders from them, not my actions. That said, there are certainly rules already set in place that I must abide by, but, to answer your curiosity: no, I have no such intentions. I am simply a priest, here to prevent a future conflict that with each passing day heats nearer to its boiling point. Now, let's continue on, shall we?"

    Afterwards, back in their mansion, after a history lesson and explanation the rules, Anniina once again looking up at the mountains. Her sister and her Saber were out in the city, scouting while she mused upon everything the priest had spoken of, but, more importantly, Tohsaka's Servant was definitely Caster. There was no uncertainty in her mind about that. She would have to begin coming up with a plan to defeat her, countermeasures and all, immediately. And, in the case of the worst possible outcome...

    ... One down, six to go.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:39 PM.

  15. #35
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 8

    Wilhelm rubbed his eyes. There was an ache in his back. He peered around, light from the sun outside his window pouring in. It was early morning. He had fallen asleep here again. The second in a row.

    Days worth of neglected paperwork was piled up on the corner of his desk, needing to be sent off today as they were to officially ship out to the site of operation in a few days, and he groaned. He gave the man who never left his side a look, then asked him to fetch Meier, so they could get the paperwork done and over with so he didn't have to see it anymore.

    When the man left to do so, Wilhelm took a random handful from the pile and began stamping, long past the point of caring what they said. Most of what he wanted to know had been cycled out during the first few days, the rest being just an endless stream of miscellaneous garbage. More propaganda, and even further reason to oppose what his beloved country had become. To bring it back from the dark road, where the men under his command walked. Not that it was possible for a lowly officer to do much, or even anything at, really, but…

    Brushing the crimson mark on his hand, maybe if he wished for it, then… Klara would… He stopped himself. No, no… the past was the past.

    There was no changing it.

    Speaking of bad dreams, he could still see fragments of the last nightmare in his head, several nights ago, and tried to expel them from his mind as he continuing to stamp, ink-stained fingers pressing away.

    After the first one, he had chalked it up to age and experience coming back to haunt him. That the barracks were part of the problem. Though, no matter where he slept nor what he did, they kept coming back, different every single time; each one more intensive than the last. These nightmares of his were becoming all the more real as time went on, and to keep himself from seeing them any further, he mulled all that man had told him of this… Holy Grail War, as it was officially called.

    The past several days, whenever the opportunity presented itself, Wilhelm would inquire about whatever it was. Real or fake, wish or no wish, to his chagrin he had to understand it to the best of his capabilities if he were to stop Yggdmillennia and the Ahnenerbe. Already, even in sparse detail, what he learned was more than an old soldier's mind could comprehend.

    Fourteen participants. Seven Masters, seven Servants. Grouped in pairs. Each Servant was assigned a class, best suited to match their strengths, of which there were also seven. His Servant—as the man had no qualms in devaluing himself as merely that—had been Marshall to King Arthur, and given the class of 'Rider' due to his knowledge of and expertise in mounted warfare. So he said.

    As for the other six, the ghastly man at Yggdmillennia's side and that woman at the meeting, specifically, were two of them. Which ones, he had no idea, and he snorted, glancing at his watch.

    Usually, he and Meier would be here by now. They were late. Not that he particularly minded.

    Leaning forward in his chair, Wilhelm put his fingers together and pressed them into his forehead. Looking down at his desk, he contemplated what to do, now that he was armed with this new information. What next course of action to take.

    If he ordered it, this man, Bedivere, would even eliminate Yggdmillennia, but, while it was tempting to cut off the head, the body would die, and the body was what he was trying to protect. Not to mention, all eyes would immediately shift to him if any foul play was suspected, and that was something he couldn't have. Furthermore, who was to say another madman wouldn't just assume his place? That other one who was at the meeting and who seemed even more of a bastard than Yggdmillennia… he shuddered at the thought of having him in charge. Calling him a creature was a kindness.

    He sighed, and gazed up at the ceiling. The day was long, and he felt as if he had only just scratched the surface of this whole affair. It was all superficial nonsense, he kept telling himself, but, as time went on, and the more he became aware of, the more his grip on the world as he knew it faltered.

    … The world as he knew it.

    He chuckled, then.

    It was always changing, faster than simpler men could keep up. All of this was only further proof of that. If only Klara were here.

    "What do you mean, they're already there?" Wilhelm said, looking up from the paperwork he had missed which Meier so kindly took it upon himself to inform him of, stamp hovering mid press. There were only a few of them left, he was sick of having to see them any longer, and just when he thought he could be done with his headache another came to take its place.

    "The message said that the Obersturmbannführer and his guest, Mr. Makiri, were already in Japan. Presumably, in negotiation with the local government."

    "That's it?"

    Meier nodded. "Yes, sir."

    Setting his stamp down, Wilhelm dismissed the Leutnant and stretched the skin above his brow in exasperation, grumbling to him about the secret agendas of that man. Both of them, and what it might be, before rising from his chair to peer out the window at the men and women that he had to bring home at all costs. With Yggdmillennia and… Mr. Makiri… already in the country of their destination, he suspected that what time left they had to prepare would be pushed forward in favor of securing ground upon the site that was to be the battlefield for this Holy Grail War that man—his Servant, face twisting in sheer disgust at having to refer to him as such, thereby acknowledging that all this nonsense wasn't so nonsensical after all—had warned would also undoubtedly take some of their lives during its course. Of course, in war, casualties were expected on both sides. If he was going to stop Yggdmillennia and that other man and whatever their plans were, if he were to against such monsters as these Servants and claim the Holy Grail, there was going to be several.

    He just hoped the majority weren't his.

    That night, tossing and turning uncomfortable for the first time since the cramped, muddy, and blood-soaked, shell-ridden and bullet-eaten ground of the trenches, Wilhelm dreamt of another field, littered with bodies and the ripe stench of death whereupon, atop a hill in its center, were two figures. A haze red and orange sun burning behind them, he had no control over his body like all the other times, his legs carrying him closer as he saw one of them fall while the other, now alone, staggered to stay upright.

    "Arthur!" someone shouted, their voice distant yet right beside him, coming from within himself. The voice was not his own, but, he had realized after several of these fever dreams—these devilish nightmares of a time nearly as barbaric as what he witnessed during The Great War—that the voice was that man's. This Bedivere's and, seemingly unable to hear it, this voice that wasn't his, the lone figure planted their sword at their feet, leaned against it, and crumbled to their knees.

    He called their name again and hastened to climb the hill, only to slip and tumble back down and sink in the mud below. When he emerged, he grasped a hand outstretched. Lifted to his feet, looking into the hard eyes of a dark-skinned man in leather, the scene had abruptly changed. The field of bodies was now a city on fire, and the hill a great palace in devastation and ruin. All around, people were screaming and running away from it, the smell of charred flesh and burnt wood heavy in the air, and, above, the bleak sky was full of smoke and ash though the red sun remained.

    It was utter chaos, as the dark-skinned man began to led him through it, the words he spoke barely heard, but, at that point, whatever had taken ahold of him distorted, hazing out of focus, and Wilhelm woke from this new dream in a hot sweat.

    Unbuttoning his shirt, getting up from his bunk, not even bothering to slid on his slippers, he pattered outside. The moon, a half-crescent, was bright, illuminating the quiet midnight in front of him as he let the cold, wet air hit the scars upon his chest. Once his breathing went back to normal, he sat down from a sudden, but, expected pain in his backside. Even if he were still a soldier, a man of the military, he was older now and it was obviously starting to take its toll. Chuckling to himself after sitting there for a short while, he wasn't even past fifty yet.

    Oh, if only Klara could see what became of him.

    He frowned, noticing a raven atop a building—the same lonely one from several days prior, probably a straggler from that flock during the night of the meeting—and glanced down at his hand where his Command Spells were. It twitched. Moving his fingers, gazing into the raven's eyes, both he and it had one thing in common: being left behind. Just then, out of nowhere, another bird, a hawk, dove for it from somewhere high above. The raven fled. Though before it could get away, it was struck dead and Wilhelm watched its plummet, and the subsequent quiet thud as its black body hit the ground.

    "I would not have looked at it for much longer, if I were you."

    Appearing beside him, that woman from the meeting, the third Servant, walked forward, her silver hair shimmering under the moonlight. In her hand was a raised bow, and as she lowered it, the woman held out her arm. The hawk perched itself on her wrist, and she whispered softly to it, then it was gone.

    Wilhelm blinked.

    He hadn't even see it fly off. It had just simply… vanished into thin air.

    He blinked again, and rubbed his eyes the second time that day for good measure. No, surely, it had. It must've. He was just more tired than he thought.

    "A familiar," the woman—the Servant—said, back still turned to him.

    He opened his mouth to say something, but, no words came when she then looked back, her beauty spectrally haunting and taking his breath from his lungs.

    "I've been hunting them since the night of Berserker's summoning. That was the last."

    "... a what?"

    "A familiar, Sire. " His Servant repeated, standing behind him. "A magus-controlled puppet."

    "Puppet?" His forehead wrinkled in confusion. That raven had definitely been alive. "That wasn't a puppet."

    "A living one," Rider corrected. He went past him and his fellow Servant, to the raven. "Forced against its will, bound to serve." He bend down and cradled it in his arms. "By Caster's magecraft."

    "Caster? Another Servant?"

    Coming back, Rider's face was deep with sorrow. "Yes." The raven's blood smearing his gauntlets and breastplate, his Servant held it close to his heart, teeth clenched. "And this confirms it." Revealing the wound where that woman's arrow had hit, was the signs of something seared into its flesh by flame. Wilhelm waited and when he looked at him with now wet, reddened eyes. In that moment, he feared what more the man had to say, bracing himself. "She is the greatest magus of my era and Camelot's worst foe, Arthur Pendragon's sister: Morgana le Faye." The pain upon his face appeared even greater than the previous night and he held the raven closer still. "To defeat her will require a mighty host."

    Just when he believed things couldn't worse.

    Or further headache-inducing.

    Sitting down, Wilhelm suddenly felt tired and held up a hand for Rider to leave him be. Eyes on the spot where the raven had fallen dead upon, he watched the woman crouch down and touch. Raising a brow, he asked what she was doing.

    "Is it no concern of yours, magi," she answered haughtily.

    "I'm no such thing."

    "Yes. You're even lower than that: a pawn to play in the war ahead."

    "What did you…?!" Wilhelm flushed red with anger. "I'm not one of Yggdmillennia's pawns, either! For you even to say that is…!" He took a bold step toward her. When he got close enough to reach out and touch her, if not for her bow now aimed squarely at his chest with an arrow notched, he wouldn't be so hesitant to continue—only for Rider to get between them.

    "Thank you for your help, Archer, but, it is done. Go back to your Master. Tell him his cooperation is appreciated."

    The two Servants stared one another down intensely until the woman finally conceded and lowered her bow with a look of disdain so clearly visible Wilhelm could practically see the murderous intent within her eyes. Like a flame, they burned into his mind, smothered his senses, and turned his thoughts to cinder: images of a grand hall filled with warriors reveling in the scourge of battle, all drowning in a crimson sea, were projected to his mind and he felt his gut moil at the sheer brutality of what he briefly witnessed. Holding a hand to his mouth, he swallowed and all but turned away from the nightmare of it.

    As the woman averted her gaze, saying something about the weaknesses of lesser men, disappearing in a haze of red sparks shortly thereafter, he also had the distinct, sinking feeling that this one hadn't been a simple dream, either.


    "I… I'm fine…" he said, staying the man who was still so quick to rush to his aid. Falling back toward his office, a clammy hand over his face, he ordered him to stop following him. "Leave. Me. Be." he snapped, using his other hand to steady himself in the doorway as the man yet again moved to help and after shutting the door behind him and drawing the blinds, enveloping himself in the dark, eyes downcast in silence, looking into that woman's eyes had brought forth those memories no sane man would wish to remember.

    The ugly stench and bile and destructive toil and toll the battlefield left in its wake forever scaring those who survived to breath the next day. He ran his three shaken, grief-stricken fingers over the one he'd received at Somme, still hearing the whistles blowing in his ears as they were ordered into No Man's Land, and the bellows of his comrades—those young men under his command—dying one, two, three at a time, dropping like flies to the bullets that for by some divine intervention had only whizzed by him. The mortars that came howling in, burying their corpses in earth and shrapnel, and how he earned the scar upon his forehead.

    Wilhelm sat at his desk and clasped his hands together, trying his best to take control of himself once again.

    It was some time before he was able to.

  16. #36
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Feb 2015
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    Likely never gonna finish this, so here is the last chapters I started (I was doing them simultaneously, though might have incorporated them into earlier chapters, can't remember):

    Elroy I

    Elroy peered out the tiny window of the plane at the glistening English channel mere meters below, the turbulence making him queasy as the sole flight attendant squeezed through the cramped aisle and handed him his drink. He thanked the man and took a shaky sip, thinking of how long they’d continue flying for, praying he didn’t hurl his breakfast all over the man in front of him. Their comforters were knee to knee, the aisle was the width of an average person’s arm, and, as the plane lurched, lowering in altitude, his stomach curling, he really hoped he wouldn’t hurl, because he feared that everyone—not just the man in front—would get a mushy showering of biscuit and egg, and swallowed. Hard.

    Eventually, it settled—thank goodness—and he took a big gulp of his drink this time, heaving a sigh. Out the window, the fields, farms, and rolling hills of French countryside in the midst of springtime filled him with further relief, for it meant they were finally getting closer to their destination.

    Glancing at his still trembling fingers, the contents of his drinks swaying this way and that, he again prayed for that to be soon.

    “... This yer first time on an aeroplane?”

    A woman leaned out the row, one hand grasping the beam that ran at an angle from the front side of each seat, creating a sort of triangular arch that traveled the length of the entire aisle, while the other kept a cup and saucer steady on her lap. It took him a moment or two to decipher what she’d said through the thick accent and nod.

    And, as the plane lowered still, she raised her voice over the rattle of its propellers. “Ah. Don’t min' it much longer. We’re almost landed. Shan’t be long now.”

    He gave another nod, and it must have been pathetic-stricken because she proceeded to put a hand on his, dark, mossy green eyes staring into his.

    Their corners seemed to grin as she reassured him. “Aw’s gonnae be fine.”

    It was around another hour before they finally touched solid ground and, stepping from the plane, Elroy collapsed on his knees in a flustered sweat, cursing the form of transportation that Frenchman had secured for him, grateful though he was for having the opportunity to leave the country to continue to conduct his research, and stayed like that until someone rudely smacked his backside.

    “Ay, wasn’t sae bad, now was it?”

    It was the woman from before.

    “N-no, not very.” Wobbly standing to his feet, he wiped his brow with a handkerchief, then righted his suit and tie and checked to make certain his hat was still on his head.

    “That’s th’ spirit!” She smacked him again. “Name’s Abigale. Yer’s?”

    “Elroy,” he said with a pained grunt from the hard hit, looking around at the runway the plane had landed on, trying to figure out where they were. He’d absolutely no idea, and shot a glance at the woman, who was admiring the scenery. “... Do you know where we might be?”

    She looked back with a shake of her head. “Nae sir.”

    “Oh.” He frowned. “Thanks anyway.”

    “Don’t mention it.”

    Pulling out a crinkled map of France from his suit pocket, he smoothed the edges and hunched over it, but everything was in, well, French. Therefore, useless. The only option now was to ask one of the locals or perhaps try one of the other passengers, but he didn’t know the language and everyone else but Abigale were already gone, leaving the workers who were mosing around the small, out of the way airport.

    If he were lucky, one of them would be able to understand him, and, perhaps—though the chance was slim—happened to speak English. Even so, he had little choice and, scoping out which to ask, decided upon the one barking orders to the others; the one in charge. A burly man with a mustache and wearing denim overalls.

    “Excuse me,” he said slow and cautiously as possible upon approach, taking note that the man could squeeze him like a can of spam quite easily. “Could you tell me where we are?” He pointed at his map, emphasizing what he wanted by poking it repeatedly.

    The man seemed to get the message and nodded, saying something in French that sounded like “cane”. Thanking the man, he went back to it and searched for a word similar, mumbling it to himself, when at last he found it: Caen. He smiled. It wasn’t a fair distance away, close by and only a days’ ride. The problem now was where to acquire a vehicle. Perhaps one of the locals…

    “Ey! Over ‘ere!”

    He looked back. In the driver’s seat of a truck was Abigale, one arm dangling out the window. She slapped its side and waved him over.

    “Well, what’re waiting fer?!”

    Multiple thoughts ran through his head about how she might’ve procured it on such short notice, but, time was of the essence, and he wasn’t about to say no.

    He hopped in the passenger seat, pointing at his destination, that he needed to get there as quickly as possible, but, with her nod and accompanying cat-like grin as she raised her foot, added “and as safely as possible” to that request, before she pressed down hard on the front pedal and sped off, bumping down the dirt road.



    The day was coming to a close, Liesel sat at Jubstacheit’s desk in his chambers, triple checking the certificates she had finally gotten stamped at the bank the day before. As, though they were isolated in a bounded field and safe from all but the most perceptive of prying eyes, that didn’t mean they were exempt from taxation, and, if one, or more, of these were held for seven months, they were entitled to an additional allowance on expenses. If held after thirty-seven, they could be used to pay all taxes at a twelve percent premium, along with collateral. Meaning they wouldn’t have to worry about the upkeep of the castle and surrounding property for awhile. With the War already here and all of their resources having went toward it, this was something they sorely needed.

    Ignoring Avenger—who hovered by her shoulder and kept asking that one and only thing—counting them out, she would have to turn them in soon, lest they have to dip into the emergency funds. Putting them away for later, her thoughts traveled to the earlier issue of creating a small group of homunculi to accompany them. Images of Sofine clumsily trying to handle a weapon flashed through her mind, and she dismissed them forthwith.

    No matter who she chose, none of them—not just Sofine—would be ready by the time the War officially started. She pinched her brow. A hopeless endeavor, surely, but, if there was even the chance it could help to grant the Creators’ wish…

    In the end, no matter how much she wanted to deny it, the Ancestor’s words rung true. She had to at least try. Just as the Lady had lectured them to, and, apparently, the Ancestor had also been present to hear.

    How can we know if something is to succeed, if we never strive to do so? If not this day, then there is always the next, and the day after, so long as we have a reason to continue to see His wish as an actuality. So, then, too, should we keep attempting fate. The wish He had, and the dream His own have passed on to me, and now onto you and yours, so long as you believe it so, then so too will it continue to exist. The love that we all must share.

    Though, despite Justeaze’s words, it was not so easy a task, as the ability to move heaven and earth was within the Age that no longer existed, and would never be attainable. Not by them, nor any other, in a new Age where the feats of myths and legend were all but gone. It was nigh impossible, but, once again…

    The least she could do, was try.

    Letting out a groan, she leaned back in Jubstacheit’s chair. It was surprisingly comfortable, and, gazing up at the chandelier that hung in the center of the room, Liesel found herself drifting off to earlier days, reminiscing about those quiet evenings spent with the Lady in the castle gardens. Back to a time when there was no War, just a gathering of like minded individuals—magi, homunculi, and ordinary people alike—who simply wanted the world to be a better place. A safer place.

    She had just closed her eyes when Sofine stumbled through the doors, hunched over and out of breath. “L… Lady… Lady Liesel!” she panted, clutching her chest, one hand on the edge of Jubstacheit’s desk as she took in large breaths of air. “There’s… an emergency!”

    Liesel waited until her breathing settled. “What is it?"

    The girl pointed back, in the direction of the main hall. “There are g-guests!”

    “Guests? What guests?” She didn’t recall scheduling anything for the past several months, least of all today, on account of the War. Especially now, so close to its official start.

    “I-I don’t know! But… but Lord Einzbern is with them!"

    If Jubstacheit was with them, then maybe she had just forgotten there were to be guests. Not to mention, scheduling it so late. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time, but, even so, she still would have felt them cross the bounded field at some point. Been able track their progress, even. Yet, within the past few hours, nothing. Which, was near impossible for even the most—

    “We’re going there, now!” she commanded, already out of her seat and on her way out the door. She stopped and waited. “Sofine!” The girl was busy fixing the chair, having been knocked over. Wasting time, when it might already be too late.


    Taking the lead, Liesel stormed down the hall with Avenger trailing silently behind them, asking for the whereabouts of Josefine and Ilseviel.

    The girl fumbled with her words as she struggled to keep pace. “With them!"

    “How many?”


    How could she not have sensed three intruders, let alone one?! Of course, she already knew the answer, but… “Sofine?” They were moving too slow.


    “Go faster.”

    She, Sofine, and Avenger arrived at the main entrance to the castle shortly thereafter, where down below six people stood. Of the six, only two she didn’t recognize. One was flamboyantly dressed man in purple and blue, while, the other, at his side, could be nothing else, but, a Servant. His Servant, to be precise, and it only took one look to know both were just as horrible existences as the man she had secretly hoped would never enter here again.

    Makiri Zolgen, now calling himself Zouken Matou, waited behind the man and his Servant, one hand over the other on his cane. A cane that, too, shared a sad history with Einzberns, same as the man himself. Opposite them was Jubstacheit, with Josefine and Ilseviel behind.

    As their words traveled up to the stairs, Liesel listened as Sofine gave an overview of what had happened before she arrived.

    The flamboyantly dressed man’s name was Darnic Yggdmillennia, a magus., and his Servant, Lancer, one of the three strongest. The other two were Archer and Saber, and of Archer, he said, she and her Master were also a part of their company. As, the two of them, he continued, along with Rider and his Master, had formed an alliance; this alliance being the prime reason for their being here. That is, to defeat a foe greater than any of them could ever hope to alone.

    “The only way to defeat this foe, is with our combined strength,” the magus went on. “Therefore, my partner,”—he gestured at Makiri, an ugly mockery of the beautiful man he once had been—“and I would like to offer a proposition. We would like to—”

    Jubstacheit raised a hand, asking for silence. Then, he spoke, his voice neutral, “You come unannounced, and expect to be received warmly. I will overlook this transgression, for now, if only to hear what you have to say. This foe you speak of…”

    The magus smiled. “Why, a Servant, of course.” His eyes went briefly to Josefine and Ilseviel. “Caster, specifically. Once Caster and their Master are defeated, we can go about settling the matter of the War as normal. Do we have an arrangement?”

    Jubstacheit appeared to weight the decision, but, before he even opened his mouth to offer a response, Josefine stepped in.

    “You fool,” Liesel said underneath her breath, tensing.

    “Leave! Both of you, at once!” her counterpart demanded.

    “Oh, and, who do we have here…?” The magus leaned forward, observing them more closely, as if he hadn’t already been. Ilseviel, in particular. “I knew the Einzberns were famed for their homunculi, but this…” She saw Ilseviel make a face, flinching away from him when he touched her hair, practically breathing down her neck.

    Josefine stopped him before he could do anything further, grabbing his wrist and putting herself between him and Ilseviel.

    “Leave. Now,” she snapped.

    “My apologies, miss. I meant no harm.” Still smiling, the magus took a few moments to gather himself, and soon as he had, bowed and when she unhanded him offered it to her.

    When Josefine didn’t accept, the magus drew it back smoothly, running the hand through his long, extravagantly maintained, blue-black hair. His eyes, golden-brown, slitted as that of a snake’s, shifted back to Jubstacheit.

    “Do we have your support, Lord Einzbern?”

    Josefine answered for him. “No.”

    And, the seemingly perfect smile on the magus’s face, twitched. “Excuse me?”

    “We decline,” Josefine repeated, sternly.

    His face darkened. “Oh, I see your doll has grown quite fond of speaking out of turn,” he remarked. “If you would allow me…”

    Without a second thought, he blasted Josefine in the chest and sent her tumbling across the marble floor, then walked up and pressed down on her chest. There was a snap.

    And, all Liesel could do, was watch. She was unable to move a muscle as he proceeded to grind down, making certain Josefine felt each and every twist—lest she act and have the War start here.

    Hand cupped underneath Ilseviel’s chin, his smile was now a smirk. "Such a lovely thing,” he said.

    Ilseviel was too frightened to move, looking at him with big, saucery eyes.

    Makiri was laughing hoarsely at the sight.

    "G... get away from her..!" someone roared, and, to her surprise, it was Sofine.

    She had slipped away unnoticed, and was now holding a croaking Josefine up to help her breath.

    The magus eyed her curiously, as she stared him down, then simply chuckled, letting go of Ilseviel. "I believe that is enough for one night," he said, as he and Makiri went to leave, saying farewell. "It has been a pleasure... And, the offer is always open, so long as Caster remains a threat." Then, they were gone.

    "Makiri…“ Liesel found whispering after them. “What happened to you?"

    "L-Lady Liesel! Lady Josefine is…!"

    But, with no time to dwell, Liesel rushed to her counterpart's side. She had to act quickly. Though, before she could start mending her rips Josefine spat blood at her, telling her they should have killed the magus as soon as he approached Ilseviel instead of letting him walk away. To which, she responded, would have resulted in unnecessary death.

    Either the magus would have ended their lives, or they his, and the one to ultimately suffer in the end would be Jubsteicht and the Creators' wish, as they plunged themselves straight into a War they currently had no means of fighting effectively in.

    And, she doubted, they would, even when it did finally come.

    "Ilsev... iel..." Josefine wheezed, face contorted as she struggled to stand. Liesel set her back down, telling her not to move, that she would only make it worse, but, her counterpart still tried to do so. She managed to sit up and coughed violently.

    “Josefine! Don’t you—”

    She was ignored as, helped to her feet by Sofine, Josefine slowly made her way over to the child. After picking her up with great difficulty, she gave a hate-filled glance in Jubstacheit's direction and lowered her head as she started walking away.

    Liesel looked back to their Lord as he stared blankly at something only he could see: the realization of his dream. What she saw, and what Josefine walked away from, was the consequence of his desperation. Is this what the Ancestor spoke of?

    As Josefine passed them and took to the stairs, Liesel followed her. "Where are you taking her?" There was no answer. She frowned, watching as Josefine labored to climb even the first few and, with a sigh, told her to put the child down. "Let me help."

    Now going up together, the child between them with Sofine in tow, she asked the same question as before.

    "To... her... room," was the rasping reply, as Josefine heaved, wincing with each breath and every step. Ilseviel, too, appeared in worse shape than before, and, as they came to the homunculi's room, Avenger manifested in a red swirl of rage beside the door.


    Assisting Josefine in setting Ilseviel gently on her bed and closing the door behind them, she left her still coughing counterpart to stay by the child's side. Once outside, again, Avenger asked the same question.


    It is such a strange thing… This thing she called 'love'. It is something I still do not fully comprehend—even after all these many centuries—but…

    Next to him, fists clenched and head down, trembling not from her lameness but anger for the first time, Sofine spoke to the carpeted floor. “Why didn’t you help, Lady Liesel?”

    …. from what I have learned in that time, is that…

    And, this time, did she give an answer.

    … there is nothing as precious nor punishing a gift.

    "Because love... is a dangerous thing."

    A daughter is a precious gift, just as precious as any son. She is a wonder just as great, a person in her own right. She is not a vessel for family pride, but a person born equal to men. She is entitled to make as many mistakes as any other and still be a full recipient of family love. She is not property to be coveted, she is a sacred thing. Her own individual. So, take care of your daughter and know that each is a blessing in full measure.

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