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

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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    You Are My King (A Third Holy Grail War fic)

    For more info refer to this thread: http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread...on-Fan-Fics%29

    Chapter list:

    Prologue
    1. Wilhelm I
    2. Bedivere I
    3. Liesel I
    4. Wilhelm II
    5. Bedivere II
    6. Liesel II
    7. Anniina I
    8. Wilhelm III
    9. Bedivere III
    10. Liesel III
    11. Anniina II
    12. Elroy I


    PROLOGUE

    —Travel through the wood, across the field, and over that bloodsoaked hill until you are well beyond all three, whereupon there will be a deep lake—

    The holy sword slapping hard against his armored hip, Bedivere rode as fast as his already winded horse would carry him through the forest. Biting back tears, he apologized profusely to Dun Stallion for how hard he drove him onward, not expecting the majestic beast's forgiveness for he deserved none.

    —I want you to throw my sword into this lake and give it back to the Lady who resides within its depths—

    Repeating Arturia's final request in his head over and over, he wished to take it all back, cursing himself for not heeding Morgana's words proven right.

    —Once that is done, come back to me—

    Flying across the grisly aftermath of that bloodstained battlefield, he desperately tried to find some semblance of sanity in Arturia's words, knowing that his soldier's discipline told him what his mind refused to accept. Her words were final, the wound she suffered from fatal and, with that, the door that barred the truth was broken.

    —This is my last request as your King—

    Everything fell to pieces.

    If he hadn't betrayed her to begin with, then those words would never been said, the wound never inflicted. The tragedy this day was entirely his fault, and nothing he thought would change that.

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

    Upon reaching the hill, Dun Stallion buckled underneath him and he was sent tumbling end over end to crash in a muddy, bloodied heap at its foot. The holy sword held tight in his grasp. Bedivere lay there in a sweat, breathing heavily, weeping silently for his companion. He prayed that Dun Stallion would be able to find peace, free of such a terrible handler. Using the holy sword to stand, it took all his effort to climb and come to the hill's top.

    Passing the traitor impaled on spear and his brother with guts spilled, he shed more tears for them both and collapsed, exhausted. He stayed there atop the grime and blood and dirt of the battlefield, hand trembling as he cried, willpower all but spent, waiting for death. Only by gathering what only he had left—his loyalty to his King—did Bedivere stand back to his feet and continue onward.

    Careful as he traversed the bodies of those fallen and ignored the pleas from those dying, it was a harrowing walk the rest of the way to the lake.

    When he at last stood at its edge, Bedivere could do nothing except stare at the holy sword in a trance; its golden and jeweled hilt and the magic runes that ran up the length of its magnificent blade and seemed to glow like skyfire. Hearing the whisper of the fairies, ancient words of power and protection, he faltered in his devotion yet again.

    Before him was once a lake of calm and serenity, one that he and his King had traveled over many times many years ago, before a thick, dark mist settled over its clear waters now blackened, obscuring what lay beyond.

    To cast the sword to its depths forebode a fate he knew to be the end of all he held dear. For it to leave his hand would mean his treachery was absolute, and he wept again. This time, for Arturia. For promising to be by her side always, but, only growing farther apart, before doing what he should've all along.

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

    Sobbing, he averted his eyes from the sight of all of Camelot's hopes and dreams sinking into the abyss, when something compelled him to witness what he at first shied away from. Even though he no longer had such a right. To his surprise, he bore witness to a heavenly-clad arm as it reached forth from the lake to take the sword in its hand and lower gently until both were gone. Immediately thereafter, the fog lifted from the waters' surface to reveal a place of splendor and beauty. With tears streaming down his face for an entirely different reason than before, he was in shock and awe. Though, the sudden joy that fluttered in his heart was short lived, for he realized that he'd made a terrible mistake. Not once, not twice, but, almost thrice.

    With a renewed faith that carried him swiftly back, Bedivere wailed upon discovering Arturia lifeless against the tree trunk he'd laid her beside, and fell to his knees. It was too late. He pounded the ground in defeat and was ready to fall further into despair when another voice he knew well sang in his ears.

    —It is not too late—

    Nimuë's voice, smooth and relaxed like the gentle waters of a flowing stream, splashed and echoed in his ears.

    —Dry your tears, and see—

    He looked up and witnessed another miracle. Arturia's eyelashes—they fluttered. Incredulous, he sat there until Nimuë broke the spell.

    —Go to her—

    "Your Majesty!" he cried, scrambling to Arturia's side. She still breathed, albeit faintly, and relief washed over Bedivere's wretched figure, as his King's eyelashes fluttered for a second time and her eyes opened slowly.

    "... Bedivere…?" Arturia tried to rise, cringed, and weakly went to touch the part of her head where Mordred's blade bite into her skull.

    The arm was eased back down and hand gently squeezed. "Don't try to move, your wound will reopen."

    Soaked through the bandage covering her forehead and running down the left side of her face, it stopped bleeding thanks only to his ring—its gleaming green gem dim and healing properties forever sealed. Yet another beautiful gift sullied in his name, but, seeing the smile on his King's face again was well worth all the sins he bore.

    Her left eye shut from the blood that was now a dry crust, Arturia, seemingly unable to hear him, said his name once more, "Bedivere…"

    "Sire… I… I have done as you asked of me." He wasn't able to meet her open eye.

    "I see… Be proud, for you have fulfilled your King's final request..." A moment passed, her face contorted in pain, and she said no more. Yet, she continued to smile, and her words hung in the air between them, like a chasm; separating them.

    It seemed like an eternity before he mustered the courage to cross over and say what had to be. "Sire, I must confess that I—!"

    "... A dream…" The words were barely a whisper.

    He huddled closer, "A… A dream, sire?"

    "Yes... I was having a most pleasant dream... while you were away…" Arturia said, chest rising and falling laboriously with each word spoken, every breath taken. "Something I... do so… rarely..."

    He was losing her. "Sire… I…!"

    —No, this was the way it should be. The way it was always destined to—

    Nimuë interrupted, washing his unspoken shame aside.

    —But, this is not the way it might happen. Nor when. You have the chance to alter the events that lead to it. See to it that Arturia lives past these final days. To redeem yourself—

    "... I..." He pressed Arturia's hand to his chest. "I'm…"

    —But never the outcome, and only if you let her go—

    His hold tightened. "I'm…"

    —Then, and only then, can you correct your mistake. Only then can you save her—

    "... sorry." It relaxed. "Please rest without worry…" He choked on his words. "If you… If you close your eyes again, you will surely continue dreaming where you left off…"

    "Dream… the same dream…?"

    A sad, faint smile came to his lips as he finally met her eye, "Yes, sire. I have experienced it myself,"—and he was ashamed because of it—"One must only wish hard enough."

    "I see," Arturia said, and there was another long pause until she spoke again, eyelids drooping. "Then, I believe… my slumber this time… will be a long one…" As her right eye closed, she bowed her head with that warm smile still upon her face. Arturia, his King, was gone forever.

    Bedivere shook. "Are you dreaming again, my King?" His tears flowed freely, running down his cheeks and dripping onto his hand still holding hers. "Are you able to see it? The continuation… of your dream?"

    With her for a little while longer, he at last let go and folded his King's hands upon her chest, brushing aside stray strands of her beautiful blonde hair, and drew away. Hearing Nimuë's voice again, looking upon Arturia as she slept peacefully, he vowed never to betray the person most dear to his heart ever again. Eyes on the shimmering sun as its light broke through the trees, whatever he had to do to make it so, would he. It was his new, unbreakable promise, and he'd wish it so, or may the World have his soul till the end of his days.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:02 PM.

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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    CHAPTER 1

    The world was on the very brink of another Great War, and if his years told Wilhelm anything, another Great War meant more letters to write home.

    He disliked writing letters. Especially letters for soldiers hardly old enough to drink, let alone lay down their lives for such a pointless, vendetta-driven war. A war orchestrated by a madman, who fooled everyone into believing the German people were of the best blood. A war none of them truly understood, and would never be able to comprehend the full extent of until after the bullets started whizzing by their heads and shells were dropped on them just the same. Only once their own blood spilt out alongside their guts and they cried for their fathers, their mothers, their siblings, their grandparents, would they then realize what they'd gotten themselves into; they so blindly believed in. That blood, no matter who or what or where it came from, was all the same.

    They were youths swayed by the grandiose speeches and delusional ideologies of a man who for all intent and purpose wanted nothing less than for the world to go up in flames. Three hundred of the Führer's "finest", handpicked and fresh from months of rigorous training in Dachau and Bad Tölz, where each pledged unwavering loyalty to his cause even if it meant the deaths of millions; themselves included. Schutzstaffel—Waffen-SS—and at least fifty men of the Ahnenerbe, Himmler's personal artifact collectors. The Führer was willing to sacrifice them all for his own madness.

    In his experience, men like the Führer were often twisted, lonely, individuals. Broken beyond all recompense, and these men—these boys—were too brainwashed to see the truth. Though, while Wilhelm couldn't condone them, he also couldn't leave them to their fate. His duty was to see that every single one of them returned home alive, and by God would he do everything within his power to see that happen. Even if that went against the operation they'd been planning for months prior and would be ready to undertake two weeks today—if it could be called an operation at all.

    The reclamation of the Holy Grail, a thing of myth and legend, was a fool's errand, nothing more. With it in their hands, the Führer promised the eradication of poverty and hunger, disease and illness, conflict and strife; all of these miracles and, in the end, none of them. For, despite his claims of what it might grant them, they were the promises of a false prophet.

    Wilhelm knew couldn't possibly save everyone, but, at least he knew he could save many, or some, or even a few, and wasn't basing that on superficial nonsense. It was by the fact that he'd led men before. From his first taste of command as a lowly corporal in the Great War, cowering in the trenches trying not to soil himself as the French and British forces closed in, the lives of his fellows unexpectedly on his hands, to now, a captain in the Wehrmacht. It was a judgement made by a rational mind, with enough experience to reinforce it, and not one ruled by illusion or fantasy. What he promised was real, unlike the Führer's. Even so, these same claims were now being reiterated by a man just as wicked and whose ideas were just as delusional as their great leader himself: the leader of those fifty Ahnenerbe, Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia.

    Darnic was another man who'd boldly told these young men that they were real, the truth; that the truth was right before their eyes, in the form of the other man clad in silver and blue armor from a time very unbefitting to the current one at his side. What he claimed to be called a "Servant", summoned by the Holy Grail itself, he said. Smoke and mirrors and Houdini trickery, is what Wilhelm thought. Whether the man was an actor paid to play the part or another lunatic he didn't care. All that mattered to him was their destination: the city of Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan, where the Holy Grail was supposedly being kept hidden. Probably in a shrine, or some other place of worship. He knew worshipers of Christian faith were far and in between over there, so finding such a place where it might be wouldn't prove too difficult, he imagined.

    It was another duty of his to make certain the troops, and these two fanatics, wouldn't be going around upturning every rock to find it and having the Führer's troops within the confines of their new friend's capital and largest city was bound to cause tension alone, regardless of the efforts made to solidify partnership between the two, and all this nonsense would only help fuel the fire. He felt such a task would be like a quest for the Holy Grail in and of itself—nigh impossible.

    Already he wanted to call it off, but, he'd no say in the matter, staying silent through the rest of the man's speech, and once it was over he went back into his office and called in his adviser, asking for a quick rundown of arms and ammunition. The least he could do was make sure they weren't going in poorly equipped.

    Leutnant Meier rattled off a list on the little clipboard in his hand and everything appeared to be in order except that the further down the list the more bizarre—and deadly—it became. "... Maschinengewehr 34s, Panzerbüchse 38s, Flammenwerfer 35s, and Panzerbüchse 39s—"

    "Are they mad?!" he cried.

    What shocked him the most wasn't the fact he wasn't informed of their addition, but, their being there in the first place. The last one hadn't even been in production for longer than a few months! More importantly what were they going to need anti-tank weaponry for?!

    "And that's not all, sir,"—Meier glanced around before leaning close and in a hushed voice quickly said—"Schrapnellmines, newly commissioned just last month, have also been sent for..."

    "My God..."

    Wilhelm was at a loss for words.

    He thanked Meier for the update and when night came and he was alone going over reports, reading between their lines for anything that might've escaped his notice, found a slew of them right underneath his nose. There was enough firepower here to take on a small country!

    He didn't pretend to even begin to—or want to—understand the minds of madmen, but what were they thinking?

    Just what was this "operation"?

    And, as if knowing the exact moment to make his appearance, the man who was undoubtedly behind this let himself in, with his fellow in the fancy dress in tow.

    "I pray all is well with the preparations?" Darnic said.

    Wilhelm shuffled through and organized the reports, then set them on the stack to his right. The man clearly wasn't here to discuss how best to handle the troops or distribute the requisition of supplies. His tone was haughty and not that of a commanding officer talking with another of equal standing. Rather, a schoolteacher to a schoolboy. One that wasn't appreciated, at all. His voice was rife with disdain as he responded.

    He didn't attempt to hide it. "If you have need of me, sir, then say what. Otherwise, and with all due respect, leave."

    "I know you think little of me, Hauptmann, but know that what we are about embark on, this… war of mine… is just as real as you and I." Darnic lifted a hand toward the man behind him as if to say that this operation, this reclamation, this little ill-guided quest for the Holy Grail, that the thing itself, was something that could be seen. Something that could be felt; touched.

    Wilhelm scoffed. "And I suppose you have the Saint Mary and Three Wise Men waiting outside, as well?"

    Darnic chuckled, as lively as a man's death throes. "No, Hauptmann, I am afraid I do not. What I do have, instead, is the famed High King of Erin himself."

    The man in the fancy dress stirred, him with a warm, inviting, smile set in soothing, green eyes. With a masculine, pointed face and long, blonde hair, he bore the appearance of one of the many male prostitutes that were still being "relocated", and if the dead could be brought back to life, then perhaps Wilhelm might believe such—for a fiend always traveled with those of its ilk. But, he knew this imposter, whoever he was, was certainly not a king of any sort. Thus he continued reading his reports, waiting for the two of them to leave. When they didn't, he and asked what they wanted. Again.

    "It seems you still do not believe me," Darnic said. "Then, may I borrow a length of your time this night?"

    "Will you leave me to my work afterwards?"

    "Of course," the man said, with a conceited smile.



    Wilhelm followed Darnic out to the Grunewald forest until they came to a small lake deep within, one of many dotted throughout, and he watched as Darnic began drawing some kind of circle in the dirt with another shape inside—a pentagram, if his memory right—and a very intricate one, at that.

    "Do you know anything of the occult, Hauptmann? Better known as magic?"

    "It doesn't exist."

    If this was what the man had brought him out here for, then he was to have none of it. He'd rather spend his time signing off and stamping reports for the more pressing matters at hand than… whatever this was.

    "That it does not. At least, not in its purest form," Darnic said as he completed the circle, , and why was it when he flashed a faint smile Wilhelm shivered?

    Ahnenerbe's goal within the Third Reich was to find evidence of Germany's supposed "racial superiority" by traveling around the world conducting research, unearthing the accomplishments and deeds of their ancestors using exact scientific methods—hat was the official statement, anyway—but, behind the scenes, there were rumors that they dealt in human experimentation, Satanic rituals, and other heinous acts against God in the name of a united "Aryan" race. While Wilhelm found, once again, the idea of magic absurd, he knew horrible things were being done under the guise of this "research" and usage of "exact scientific method". It was all the more reason why he couldn't support the Third Reich; that he couldn't just abandon those three hundred boys.

    "Then, tell me, Hauptmann…" Darnic was writing foreign words along the outside of the circle now. They appeared to be Latin, or Hebrew, but Wilhelm wasn't able to tell for certain. "What do you think of fortune-tellers. Is destiny—is fate—something you believe in?"

    "If this is what you wanted to waste my time with, why not explain to me why you requested ordinance without my authorization or even so much as ask my opinion?"

    The man turned up from his drawings. "Because, we shall have need of them. Anything less with be altogether ineffective against what lies in wait." He smiled knowingly. "Now that I have answered your question, what of mine to you?"

    Wilhelm shook his head. "Soothsayers. Nothing but pretentious con-artists too eager to tell you whatever you want to hear for the money in your purse. And, no, I don't."

    "Speaking from past experience, are we?" The man chuckled. "I wonder…"

    The letters went all around the circle and were also visible inside another, larger circle that surrounded it where four more, smaller circles faced inward. In each were more symbols that Wilhelm didn't exactly recognize either. When Darnic stepped away he simultaneously broke some sort of jewel in his hand.

    "... If your viewpoint will soon change?"

    He set the broken jewel in the pentagram's center, telling him what it was.

    "An… incantation… circle?" Wilhelm crossed himself and in response the man let out an amused grunt. He ignored the mockery of his faith. He stood by what he said earlier and meant it.

    Darnic apologized. "I meant no offense." Then, beckoned for him to hold out his hand. "We are nearly finished."

    Indulging him to get his little stunt over with, Wilhelm did so and Darnic said something indistinguishable. It was a verse of some kind, and, immediately after, Wilhelm winced as a tingling, hot, almost searing pain etched itself underneath his skin like a needle and thread were stitching a intricate pattern. The pain was not enough to cry out, and he endured, having felt worse before, staring hard into the other man's eyes as he continued speaking.

    "Once, long ago, during the Age of the Gods, magic was everywhere. It was in the sky, the sea, and the earth. In people and animals and even insects. Today it still is, but very faintly so, and it requires special places, such as where we are now, and one knowledgeable in drawing it forth, such as myself, to give it life again." Darnic looked down and Wilhelm followed suit. "Behold."

    "Wha… What in God's name... is this…?"

    Wilhelm stared dumbly at the bruise-like marks where the pain had been. Blood red and pulsing, they resembled a sword and shield and stung when he brushed his hand across their surface. Almost as if they were alive.

    "Command Spells marking you as a Master"—Darnic rolled up his sleeve—"Same as I." On his wrist was a similar mark, though his was that of a serpent coiled around a spear. "It seems the Holy Grail has chosen you to participate, or, rather"—he grinned devilishly—"I forced it to recognize you as worthy."

    Wilhelm drew his hand back and tried to rub it off but couldn't. Going to the lake's edge, he then tried to wash it off, but the water sizzled and steamed, evaporating soon as it came into contact. "What in the world?" he whispered, scowling when the man laughed again.

    "Try all you will, but once it appears it shan't come off until the War is over. And, do not think of fleeing, as we are not done yet." As if on cue the "High King of Erin" blocked his path and wouldn't let him even if he wanted to. "Please, step up to the circle, and we shall finish this."

    That sudden chill came back even colder, his gut wrenching like he was back at Marne, screaming at him to retreat regardless of the consequence, but with no choice, Wilhelm went against orders and begrudgingly did as told.

    "Normally it is drawn as the chant is being recited, but as you are not knowledgeable of what that is, and because your attunity is not particularly high, I will provide you with some of my own and will instruct you as you say the words. Now, hold out your hand, and focus on the jewels in the circle's center. Imagine what you hold most dear in your heart, and repeat after me: 'Silver and iron to the origin. Gem and the archduke of contracts to the cornerstone. The ancestor is my great master Schweinorg. The alighted wind becomes a wall. The gates in the four directions close, coming from the crown, the three-forked road that leads to the kingdom circulate..."

    Wilhelm repeated the words. The air grew colder and with it his body the same.

    "Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut. Shut. Repeat every five times. Simply, shatter once filled…"

    His hand burned bright. The circle reacted. Wisps of red vapor rose from it to the sky like steaming blood.

    "Rider, I announce. Your self is under me, my fate is in your sword. In accordance with the approach of the Holy Grail, if you abide by this feeling, this reason, then answer. Here is my oath."

    The sky rumbled, dark clouds appeared on high and hid the moon. The air grew colder still.

    "I am the one who becomes all the good of the world, of the dead."

    He faltered when a freezing wind came, chilling him to the core, but was compelled to keep going until the end, keeping the image of his wife and child in his mind. And, as he repeated the rest of whatever Darnic was making him say, red turned blue and the air became warmer. It shone white and pure as he said the final lines.

    "I am the one who lays out all the evil of the world, of the seven heavens clad in three words of power. Arrive from the ring of deterrence, O keeper of the balance, King of Combat!"

    The circle exploded in a shimmer of light, the sound of it deafening, as if an artillery shell went off directly in his ears. Wilhelm screamed, blown back by the blast, and Darnic laughed for the third time, perfectly safe, as all went silent and a figure appeared in the circle's center where the jewels had been.

    When the smoke cleared it was revealed to be a knight, armored head to toe in silver armor, with a long gray skirt lined in golden-white fur. Around his neck hung a cross, and draped over his shoulders was a mantle also of golden-white and green cloak. At his side was a sheathed sword, and when he strode forward, whoever it was surprised Darnic, for his laughter ceased.

    "What is this?!" he exclaimed, "This is not what I… Wilhelm… what did you…!"

    The knight passed him with not a word, leaving him speechless. And, as Wilhelm sat fully upright, cursing his battered bones, the knight crouched before him and offered a hand—the only one he could for the other was gone—and said, "I have answered your summons, Master."

    Just as speechless, eyes wide, Wilhelm could do nothing but stare into the knight's eyes through the slit visor of his helm; clear as the ocean and just as bottomless. The knight's voice was low, husky, almost femininely so. It took him a moment to accept the hand.

    On his feet again, the knight was nearly a head taller than him, and Wilhelm was still gazing when Darnic opened his mouth again.

    His sudden shock was all but gone. "Is this enough to make you believe?"

    Wilhelm paid his words no attention. "Wha—Who, are you?"

    The knight knelt. "Forgive me, Master. I am the Servant Rider, at your service."
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:40 PM.

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    Inactive Imperial's Avatar
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    I do like the juxtaposition of the naysayer with an old hand like Darnic.

    I also have to think a magic newbie being paired with an Arthurian Servant is a deliberate send up of Shirou and Arturia. Already banking on Darnic having every intention of throwing Wilhelm and Rider at the other teams like cannon fodder in another callback to Kirei and Hundred-Faced Hassan. But maybe I'm looking too hard for the parallels. At least the Lancer isn't Irish.

    There's not too much else to say so early in the game, but I'll probably check in periodically, even if the idea of female Bedivere raises my hackles. Kind of amazing I've been in the fandom this long when a tentpole of the franchise pisses me off so much.

  4. #4
    BORN TO REJOICE Walnut Sparks's Avatar
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    I like where this is going. There will be so many tears.

    I don't even mind female Bedivere if it's a conscious alteration and not just a mistake.
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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imperial View Post
    I do like the juxtaposition of the naysayer with an old hand like Darnic.

    I also have to think a magic newbie being paired with an Arthurian Servant is a deliberate send up of Shirou and Arturia. Already banking on Darnic having every intention of throwing Wilhelm and Rider at the other teams like cannon fodder in another callback to Kirei and Hundred-Faced Hassan. But maybe I'm looking too hard for the parallels. At least the Lancer isn't Irish.

    There's not too much else to say so early in the game, but I'll probably check in periodically, even if the idea of female Bedivere raises my hackles. Kind of amazing I've been in the fandom this long when a tentpole of the franchise pisses me off so much.
    You're not looking too hard for parallels. There definitely are (and are going to be) some.

    And it is kind of amazing, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walnut Sparks View Post
    I don't even mind female Bedivere if it's a conscious alteration and not just a mistake.
    It's a conscious alternation. Originally, I was going to do King Arthur's story through the perspective of female Bedivere, and it morphed into this. I'm incorporating what I thought of for that (I'd written some scenes already) into this, so, now it's all in one big package, so to speak. If that makes sense. Funny enough, is that idea was already done by Wayne Wise and Dave Wachter in their book Bedivere Book One: The King's Right Hand and Catherine Christian in her book The Pendragon. More or less, anyway (Both had Bedivere as male, one stuck closer to Celtic origins than the other, etc.)

    Hm.

    As for this first chapter itself, while it is fine the way it is, or, should I say, as I thought when I originally uploaded it, looking at it now I can't help but think it's off somehow. I believe it's Wilhelm skepticism near the end--his belief in what he kept saying as the delusions of madmen and fairy tales and fakery and whatnot. For him to just go "oh, yeah, look, he was right, I believe" is too soon. Plus there are some other things I want to add involving the events during the time-period and his thoughts on them to show more of his character (eve of World War 2, and all). Of course I could always save it all for the next chapter, but ah... I dunno, I'm rambling...

    The second chapter is 1/4 through and I should have it out soon. Or after I mess with this first one some more. We'll see.

    E: First chapter could still use some work, but I believe it's better than what I first uploaded.

    E2: After consulting help from Dullahan (thanks bro), I've found what I've written to be inadequate for an authentic portrayal of a World War II Wehrmacht commander. Thus, I'll come back to this story after I've gathered enough material to make it so.

    E3: Updated first chapter and the second chapter is halfway complete.
    Last edited by Historia; January 16th, 2016 at 10:16 PM.

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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    CHAPTER 2

    His Master's face, marred with the scars of many years, was set into an almost perpetual grimace. Decades of hardship etched into the crevices around his mouth, the lines underneath his eyes, and wrinkles on his forehead, his head was hidden by his hands, and Bedivere could hear him muttering behind them, seemingly lost in deep thought. A collection of angry creases weighed down his brows and shadowed his eyes while on his forehead an old wound ran diagonal.

    It was the kind of face Bedivere knew all too well; seen time and again on the men and women he'd once rode beside early on in the campaign to unite Britain.

    It was a face molded by war.

    His Master couldn't be much older than his late forties, but, lifetimes passed where the battlefield was concerned and, judging by his current composition, he would've feared him to be under a spell if he hadn't already checked, as the man never brought his gaze to rest upon him. When he finally did, his Master wasn't looking at him so much as trying to make sense of what he was actually seeing.

    He moved his hands away and began to open his mouth. "H…" he paused, rolling his tongue, cheek bulged, biting a finger. He looked away and then back. "How did you lose it? The arm?" his Master finally asked, staring him in the eyes now. He indicated at the missing appendage. "Well?"

    "To an axe, Master."

    "... How much is he paying you to get it replaced?"

    The question caught him off guard, and, upon realizing what he meant, Bedivere immediately knelt as before and removed his helm. Afraid it might already be too late, he had to rectify his position. His hair fell like a curtain around his ears as he hastened to do so. "Master. I am ill to know that you have been deceived. If you mean the Master of Lancer, I have no affiliation. I assure you."

    "Master… of Lancer…? You mean... Yggdmillennia?" His Master spat the name.

    "Yes. And nor have I any to Lancer. I am Rider, your Servant. Bedivere is my name, loyal Knight of the Round Table and right-hand to the Once and Future King, Rightful Ruler of Camelot, Arthur Pendragon. My sword and life are yours, and yours alone."

    "If it isn't one thing after another…" His Master slumped back in his seat with a sigh, a hand going to his temple as if he were in pain.

    "Master?"

    He raised the hand. "Don't call me that."

    Bedivere bowed his head, unsure of how to respond. "As you say," he managed after a pause. "How would you have me address you, then..?"

    His Master waved a hand about.

    He understood.

    "Then, I…"—his eyes moved from his Master's face to his body, the grey uniform he wore, decorated with the markings of an officer of high ranking—"Shall call you Sire," he said, raising them back up.

    His Master cringed, though he made no attempt to correct him for a second time. Clearly he was still trying to come to terms with the situation.

    As his Servant, it was only appropriate to help him in the endeavor.

    "If you would allow me to explain—"

    "Yes, I want a full explanation," his Master interrupted. Motioning to a chair in the corner of the room, he asked him to take a seat, and as soon as Bedivere did—albeit awkwardly in his armor—took a deep breath. "What is this Holy Grail, really? The one in Japan? Is it the real thing?"

    Bedivere's mind went back to the time of the tourney and feast Arturia held in Camelot the night before the quest to seek the Grail. Of the exemplary courage and companionship shown by every knight who vowed himself to finding it. The night before their departures and the morrow after would be the last all of them would be together, the Grail ultimately being what broke them apart; fractured them. But, most of all, he remembered the angst of his King, and the sorrow and the regret of what disbandment the decision had wrought upon the court. Camelot was never the same, forever afterward. Foretold to grant wonders that only God himself was able to gift, he'd dismissed it as an old wives' tale at first, but, right after his King suffered that most grievous wound he desperately wanted it to be true; that its power could be used to heal her and save her from her fate. This new Grail was said to be the very same. Unlike the Grail he knew of, this one was genuine. Attainable.

    "It is."

    Nimuë had told him so.

    And he wasn't going to let the quest this time around end the same.

    Though, his Master didn't appear to be convinced, and, before Bedivere could explain further there was a rapping on the door. He concealed himself, transferring his material form to a spiritual one, disappearing in a shimmer of green. The action happened almost instantaneously and he soon found himself watching his Master frowning at the chair he'd just been seated at in bewilderment. His Master's eyes moved around the room as he rose from his own chair, touching himself forehead to heart.

    There was another rapping on the door.

    "C…" His Master stopped and peered closely at the chair, then shook his head and straightened up. "Come in," he said with clear authority, the corner of his eye still on the chair as a young man entered quietly. His Master gave a nod in the young man's direction. "Leutnant Meier."

    A small clipboard was tucked under his left arm and, handing it over, he saluted, "Sir, sorry for the disturbance, but the Obersturmbannführer has need of you."

    His Master chewed over what was written on the papers clipped to it. As he flipped through them Bedivere felt a gloom pass over him, hanging there like a storm cloud. His face darkened when there was no more to read.

    "Thank you, Leutnant," he said.

    The young man saluted again, then left the room and soon as the door shut and they were alone Bedivere watched him walk through the rain that accompanied the storm outside, before disappearing into the mist. His Master fall back into his chair, running a hand through his hair with another accompanying sigh.

    It reminded Bedivere much of Arturia and how she would cope with the courtly affairs too maddening for her ears and often left her drained and exhausted by the time the day was done. Whatever message or report his Master had just received was most likely of the same sort, and, like Arturia, one that he wanted to hear, see, nor read any more of.

    Though, again, as with his King, he was naught to ignore it.



    Later on, his Master found and ordered the young man with the clipboard to come with him and gave a glance back, then continued on. Bedivere took it as the sign that he should now resume physical form, and did so, following behind the young man as his Master strode through the halls of the building they were in, then the streets of what he could only assume to be the staging area for a grand campaign, passing marching armed soldiers and their beasts of war as they went by.

    Taking note that a few saluted in their direction, or acknowledged them with a nod, he quickly confirmed his Master was indeed in a high place of power, especially when citizens greeted him and made way as he went, and though his Master did not return their greetings nor even smile as a kindness he was truly like a king.

    Once again, memories of Arturia doing the same came to occupy Bedivere's thoughts and after some time they stopped within what he assumed as the town square, a large area that broke off in four directions, surrounded by trees and flowers. Yesterday's gloomy weather had been fruitful here, for they were tall, healthy trees of a deep, rich green and lovely, vibrant flowers of red, white, and gold, where atop a fountain in the square's center was the Roman god Neptune, seated with his trident and the fountain's waters, his lifeblood, flowing underneath the throne of barnacles he lounged upon. A mass group of people were gathered around the fountain, and in their midst Bedivere spotted the Master of Lancer. He was fair haired and handsome, with pointed features reminiscent of a snake. He imagined the man to be just as venomous. At his side was his Servant. In stark contrast to his Master, Lancer was beautiful in appearance, more heavenly than man. A saint, descended from the heavens to mingle among the living. As he and his Master approached them along with a woman Bedivere didn't recognize, there was something about Lancer that made him seem sincere; unlike whom he served. Of the woman, she was young, fit, pretty. Like one of the fillies used to breed Camelot's stock of warhorses. In her hand was a box-like device and hen they came within speaking distance, his Master wasted no time with launching straight into what he must've read in that report.

    "What's the meaning of this, Yggdmillennia?" he demanded.

    "Emelyn Brestrich, official war correspondent," the woman said, hurriedly introducing herself before Lancer's Master could respond, hand outstretched.

    His Master jabbed a finger at Lancer's Master, ignoring her and her greeting. "Now you're dragging civilians into this?!"

    The woman pressed forward despite the blatant rejection. She was smiling genuinely from ear to ear. "You may call me Emely, Hauptmann." It was like a ray of sunshine had settled on her face, and Bedivere knew right away that she was one of those individuals sorrow could never truly take ahold of. Like Gawain. He imagined the woman's laugh being just as bright and heartfelt. "Well wishes to both you and your Leutnants."

    "Leutnants...?" His Master spun, expression changing from anger to confusion to panic as he went from the woman, to the young man with the clipboard, then over to him, trailing not far behind.

    Bedivere had taken it upon himself to match what the young man with the clipboard was wearing, dressed in the same gray uniform and with all the same adornments. He felt it only appropriate, so as not to generate suspicion. Rather, by the way his Master's face went red and twisted into a grimace as his body trembled he wondered that, perhaps his decision was the wrong one.

    His Master clenched shaking fists. "You…!"

    "Ah, Leutnant Bedrydant. I was wondering when you would arrive," Lancer's Master smartly said, flashing a crooked, knowing smile. He came forward and offered his hand. "Your train being delayed might have set us back if you had taken another week or more! Glad of you to finally join us."

    The man knew his identity already?

    Bedivere accepted only to help solidify the man's fabrication and let go as soon as he was able, loathing the brief moment of contact between them. Liken his appearance, the man's skin was a snake's—smooth, without callouses of any kind whatsoever—as if he'd just finished molting. The unnatural touch of a fork-tongued viper, poised to strike. He felt only once the man was coiled around his prey would he then shed his skin again and reveal his true nature, biding his time until that day came.

    And feared that to not be far away.



    The rest of the morning went by with the woman—Emely, as she preferred to be addressed—organizing that group of people, whom Bedivere later found out were those top leaders involved with what was being called "Operation Nightfall", into proper rows for a photograph. The device in her hand was a camera, she had explained, somewhat surprised someone hadn't heard of one before. The latest vogue.

    Bedivere had listened intently to her prattle on about the various other devices, ranging from different variations of the box-like camera she had to larger ones that required the use of many hands to operate. All of this was new and fascinating, as even though the Grail gave him some information about the current era it hadn't bothered with the more miscellaneous, mundane details. One thing it had was the existence of motor vehicles. From bicycles, cars, trucks, and motorcycles to tanks, ships, and aircraft. These were the new horses of the age. Tanks, especially, could be considered the warhorses that would replace the ones of his time. They were the beasts of war seen earlier. All of these he was qualified to ride and if commanded he would, but, honestly, he preferred his mounts to be of flesh than metal, and if given the option to choose the choice would obvious. After all, you couldn't feed apples to a tank, and seeing a mare pulling a farmer and his cart down the street, it fondly reminded him of the one he had as a boy before Dun Stallion.

    "You like horses?" Emely said, holding her camera right up against to her face. Having gone through five rolls of film already, she didn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

    "Yes."

    She now had it pointed at him. "Care to share?"

    And, so, he did.

    "Wow," she said when he finished. "I was wrong. You love them."

    "More than most would admit, yes."

    Two more rolls later, she asked about how he had lost his arm.

    "In a battle."

    "It must be hard for you."

    The memory of it came to him through the pain in his stump. It ached as he reimagined the sight of his arm flying away from his body; screaming, blood spurting, painting his world a crimson shade, still grasping his sword as it was lost amidst the carnage of the battlefield. Then, only blackness.

    And that was all he remembered.

    Not even details of the battle could he recall. The majority of what happened was been told to him later by Tristan.

    It was after many countless battles had already been fought and won decisively. By that time, everyone had grown a bit too confident, a bit too comfortable, a bit too sure of the stupidity of the enemy they fought to think that they couldn't change. That they couldn't adapt. This battle, later regarded as one of the twelve most significant, put an abrupt end to that.

    Many times over the course of this battle, Arturia had led charges into the enemy ranks from their flanks without much causality until reinforcements from the coast arrived. Led by a prince known as Hengist, the enemy hastily rallied themselves under his leadership and the battle continued long into the day. When the majority of their forces had been wiped out, and as it appeared Hengist and his army would break and flee the field, they surprised everyone by offering themselves for wholesale slaughter. Willingly throwing themselves into their charges, Hengist utilized the innumerous bodies of the slain to tangle the cavalry and surround them in what was for all intents and purpose a suicidal bid to take out the King in an all out bloodbath. As for his part, he was sent crashing down, along with a few others, including Arturia, to fight on foot. For a short while, he fended off the press of bodies that sought to tear him and the others to shreds till their numbers dwindled to just himself and Arturia, but, it wasn't long before they became overwhelmed. He lost his arm to Hengist himself, saving his King in the process just as reinforcements arrived. Tristan told him the look in his eyes afterward was "so vicious that even Arturia herself was frightened of what he was capable of".

    Not that she would have let shown such fear.

    What he did remember, were the weeks after, or, rather, fragments of those weeks, of his time spent in recovery. Bedridden for most of that time, slipping in and out of consciousness, he could see the face of Guinevere clearer than all the rest of those who had came to visit him during it. Some of Gawain, Tristan, Kay, and the other knights he knew and ones he hadn't at the time. Few of Vivian, the Lady of the Lake before Nimuë and sole reason he hadn't died from infection. Fewer of Arturia, whom he recalled visiting him only once, to tell him that she was grateful for his service. That his sacrifice would not be in vain.

    Later, when he was deemed ready to serve, the loss of his dominant hand often left him in fits of frustration and with thoughts of his own worthlessness, for he had great difficulty doing much of anything. What good was a Marshal of the King if they couldn't even saddle their own horse, let alone ride it? Or fight? But, from the loss of his hand sprouted the companionship and support of fellow knights and castle residents that fixed what he couldn't alone.

    He had learned to fight left-handed thanks to the consistent—and, early on, oftentimes brutal—sparring matches with any who was willing, be it page, squire, knight, and, on occasion, king. The smiths had fashioned for him a metal hand and leather arm brace to help hold it in place, for use in riding and other menial tasks. Bakers had given him whatever he asked, for he had lost much of his original muscle mass and had to rebuild it from the ground up.

    As a result, his left side was now slightly larger than the right, though he had done all he was able to make them even. Guinevere's girlish affection for him, also, during those many days of his recovery—or perhaps even before then—had turned into a sincere love. Their relationship had shifted drastically in such a short amount of time, and, so too, had his friendship with Morgana.

    His mood darkened.

    It was also to be the start of when he and Arturia would grow ever farther apart.

    And, it was a long stretch of time, the sun dipping below the clouds on the horizon, before either he or Emely spoke again.

    "Your commander is really against this operation, isn't he? 'Holy Grail nonsense', he calls it," Emely said, popping out a roll of film from her camera and holding it up to what little daylight was left. The woman must have caught wind of his mood, for her easygoing tone had taken on an air of reassurance. She threw the roll aside and slapped a new one in. "I, for one, find it exciting. 'The Quest to seek the Holy Grail, Renewed'! It would make great film material," she said with a chuckle. Cranking the camera until it was ready for use again, she pointed it in his direction. "What do you think?"

    Bedivere simply gave a nod.

    Once again, he listened to her talk about whatever came to mind, offering responses to the questions he was willing to answer and meeting with silence or a nod or shake of the head the ones he'd rather not or was reluctant to.

    By then night had fallen and the moon and the stars were out.

    His Master and the others—his actual Leutnant, Meier, Lancer's Master, Lancer, and a few of those officials from earlier—were still inside the Palace, discussing plans for the operation. From the shouting that drifted down from the uppermost floor, it didn't appear to be going very well.

    "They'll be at it until tomorrow morning, I don't doubt." At this point Emely had ran out of rolls and was arranging all her captured film on the ground for later storage. A well-used box was beside her.

    "It's necessary for the success of the operation," Bedivere replied. Gazing up at the night sky he couldn't help but think of those cold nights at Camelot.

    The nights he and Arturia, and sometimes Guinevere, too, would just watch the stars as they twinkled. Trying to spot the ones that fell, the worries of the Kingdom far from their minds. He hadn't believed Merlin then, what the magician had said about them being able to grant wishes, but, looking for them now, he prayed that he might see one. A shooting star.

    Even though the chance was slim. Even though it wouldn't really matter.

    And, that was when he felt it.

    The presence of something vile.

    At once, he sprang to his feet.

    Emely jumped with a cry of surprise and knocked over her box, tangling herself in her countless rolls of film. "Gah! A little help here!" she cried, struggling to free herself while trying desperately not to damage any of the rolls.

    He could sense it nearby, but not from where or which direction, and knew better than to go off in search. If it was an enemy Servant, then that was exactly what they would want him to do.

    "Hey!"

    To leave his Master vulnerable and open for attack.

    "Leutnant!"

    And he wasn't about to let that happen, either. Not again.

    Readying himself as whatever it was came closer, he was going to get Emely to safety when a shrill voice called out from the gloom.

    "There is no need for violence, Servant," the voice said, as a man peeled himself from the shadows.

    Without drawing attention, Bedivere took a cautious step toward him and in a low voice, replied, "State your intent, and your name, or I will have you leave. By force, if need be."

    "Very well," the man countered. His skin was dry and leathery, speckled with dark blotches. It stretched over his bones as he grinned. He had no hair, save for thin receding lines of white at the sides. His eyes were a sickly yellow and gleamed in the moonlight. His body was a bit more lively than a corpse, as he continued to approach, shuffling, hunched in his walk and assisted by a cane that looked like a gnawed root. He stopped just outside of striking distance. "I am Zouken Matou… and I have business with your Master."
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:40 PM.

  7. #7
    BORN TO REJOICE Walnut Sparks's Avatar
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    So far so good. As a narrative, it's looking more like /Zero than /sn. Which is... okay, I'm mainly looking forward in reading more about Bedivere, but Angra Mainyu's story always interested me too.

    I notice a few run-on sentences, like:

    Quote Originally Posted by Shrapnel View Post
    Making her way to one of the various weapon storerooms, taking from it a rack of halberds and going down to the adjacent castle courtyard from where Josefine and the homunculus were playing, Liesel thought of the mess this Third Holy Grail War was going to be as she began plucking one halberd at a time and laid them out in a neat row, checking for wear.
    Kill Em All 2004
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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walnut Sparks View Post
    I notice a few run-on sentences
    Stylistic choice. A poor one, probably, but it is what it is. I have made changes to it accordingly, and am currently looking over the rest of the chapter and making more edits. You know, like I said I would (and always do 10x over).

    The (current) updated sentence reads thus:

    And, going up the stairs to the ramparts above, she let a sigh escape her lips as she made her way to one of the various weapon storerooms, taking from it a rack of halberds. Going down to the adjacent courtyard from where Josefine and Ilseviel were playing, Liesel thought of the mess this Third Holy Grail War was to be, as she began plucking one halberd at a time from the rack and laid them out in a neat, orderly row, checking for wear.
    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, and here is the full sized version of the new above cover.

    Spoiler:
    Last edited by Historia; January 22nd, 2016 at 02:58 PM.

  9. #9
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    I finally finished reading what you have so far, and I'm really enjoying it. I love your presentation with your cover and the link to the music. I wish I could be that cool.

    But anyway, I am aware from your edit notes that you ended up changing some things in Chapter 1, but its current form impresses me in your courage to tackle a topic that directly includes a glimpse at World War II affairs rather than glossing over them. I suppose that a story about the Third Holy Grail War would have a hard time avoiding that completely, but nonetheless I think your efforts read very nicely and seem to be convincing for their purpose in the story.

    I am very interested in Bedivere's story. My familiarity with the Knights of the Round Table does not run as deep as some. It's more pop-lit and Heather Dale music than, say, La Mort d'Artur. Because of that, possibly, I have really attached to the telling of the Arthurian narrative through Fate's lens on it, and it makes me really excited about your take on Bedivere. I'm curious about the fact that it is apparently alright for Bedivere to be a female Knight of the Round Table in your interpretation of King Arthur's court, in spite of Artoria's own need to hide her gender? I think I've read that correctly, but if I haven't feel free to correct me. Is it a case similar to Saber's where it's obvious upon summoning her that she's a woman but not in her life back then? But I thought that the way I was reading the prologue that her gender wasn't hidden. Forgive me if I'm confused.

    I am also interested in the Avenger narrative, and I found the talk about the homonculi touching and painful and sad as always. I look forward to seeing what you do with your story.
    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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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    Forgive me if I'm confused.
    It'll all make sense as the story develops and truths are revealed. The prologue ties into a lot of things even if it doesn't seem to.

    - - - Updated - - -

    By the way there are four (planned) characters that'll help tell the story--and not all of them will be from a Master's perspective, as seen in this second chapter.
    Last edited by Historia; January 23rd, 2016 at 10:39 AM.

  11. #11
    I am much later reviewing this than I'd told you I'd be, but I'm here now I guess.

    I'm really intrigued that you've pulled a couple WWII Germans in as masters in this war. It makes total sense, when I think about it, but it's not something I would have considered if it hadn't been presented to me. I'm also interested to find out how much Bedivere found out about Arturia after she died, and I'm also maybe a little bit hoping that they'll encounter each other in this war.

    Also, I'm impressed with the extent you took the Einzbern part. It's always felt like a subject that requires some courage to poke around in, so congrats on that.



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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    This is just a heads-up and I should really try to get some sleep as I have my first exams tomorrow (well, technically, today), but can't and ah, well, anyway while writing/brainstorming the next few chapters I've come to realize that I can't quite convey (most of) the other character's voices how I want (jugging between them and spreading myself thin was a no-no).

    What this means is, those chapters that I said were to be released sometime soon? Forget about 'em. Instead, I'm going to expand upon the two I've already written material for, and, when those are to the level where I can say "yeah, looks good", I'll work on the new 3rd chapter. Which, if you see from the chapter listing, will be Bedivere's POV.
    Last edited by Historia; February 1st, 2016 at 03:07 AM.

  13. #13
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    I look forward to when you can update! If there's any way I can help / be a sounding board, let me know!
    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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    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by Snow View Post
    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 3

    Outside Osnabrück, around that same time, standing atop the battlements of the Einzbern castle Liesel observed her counterpart walking with Ilseviel in the courtyard below. She allowed a subtle smile to creep upon her face.

    Beside her, Jubstacheit pushed his frost, bushy brows closer together. His heart cold, he wrinkled his forehead in what she could only guess was perplexity.

    "Is she functioning properly?" he asked, addressing her for the first time today.

    And, for that, did she envy him. "Yes, Lord Einzbern. Her motor skills, physical aptitude, and comprehension ability are working as intended. The memory alterations are still intact, as well."

    "And what of the Servant preparations?"

    "Nearly complete."

    He said no more, but continued to simply watch them for a while longer before taking his leave, descending down the steps and disappearing into the castle and, seeing him go, Liesel secretly feared the Monolith's judgement was not truly intact following the total loss of the Second Ritual.

    Going back to those two in the courtyard, it had sought to utilize a more powerful Servant to succeed the last and during its choosing process, actually accepted a suggestion proposed by one of those vile Apostles: the use of a non-traditional Heroic Spirit. That was, a wicked being guaranteed to hold great power at the cost of the rules being forcibly changed to accommodate its container.

    It went against the true nature of the Creators' wish.

    Servants in the Holy Grail War's designed system were to be of good alignment. Letting a potentially evil existence into the already established criteria was certain to upset the balance the founders had put in place so long ago. There was no telling what affects it would have on the stability of the War and, not without mentioning, their own efforts of claiming the Grail. Also, as if that wasn't enough, further of a concern was the catalyst itself—Ilseviel.

    While another copy of Justeaze, altering the process they had been constructing their units for the past century to achieve what the Apostle proposed was bound to have consequences. There was no telling how unstable she might become as time went on, though so far there were no signs of mental or physical deterioration. Even so.

    She let a sigh escape her lips at the idiocy of it all.

    Making her way to one of the various towers which served as a storeroom, taking from it a rack of halberds, Liesel thought of the mess this Third Ritual was to be. She started plucking one halberd at a time and laid them out in a neat, orderly row, checking for wear.

    They had more than enough halberds to give to every homunculi currently residing within the castle to ensure it would be defended if something were to happen while she and Josefine were away accompanying Ilseviel to the site where this latest ritual was to be held, but, honestly, what did it matter?

    Despite her best efforts in coordinating offensive and defensive tactics learned from previous human conflicts, none of them were up to standard. They were all failed experiments, meant to be broken down but only kept functioning because of current events. With exception of a few units, they were put to work on the grounds serving various roles, which saved her and Josefine some trouble, but also made the days more stressful than she particularly liked. It didn't help that the bounded field around the land which turned away those prying eyes of the World and beyond was in decline. Evidenced by a raven perched on the stones outside the storeroom, she feared there was no stopping the decimation of the Monolith here by those seeking to eliminate the competition for any subsequent rituals.

    Stopping her inspection, this raven, in particular, she'd seen a number of times already.

    Its presence was a sign that the Einzbern were nearing their end.

    Moving to place the last halberd back on the rack, she dropped it. Her fingers trembled. She let it pass, closing the hand. She frowned.

    Leaving the storeroom and making her way to the next, her eyes were drawn again toward in the courtyard below. Josefine and Ilseviel had left and in their place was a lone homunculus. It was Sofine. Upon making eye contact, the girl tried to scurry out of sight, only to fall flat on her face.

    She and the others of her generation were the latest attempts to create the "ideal" homunculus than any that came before.

    Though, recalling the main garden displayed in the central courtyard that she put an insurmountable effort into making presentable, day in and day out over too many years—despite the fact that nobody was likely to come by and admire them—recently hacked to oblivion by the girl she now stood over, Liesel hardly believed this to be ever achievable.

    For all of that painstaking and needless work to be literally torn to shreds in a matter of seconds, it went without mention that her frustration exploded, sending her into a rant that frightened even herself. The snide comments from Josefine hadn't helped, either, and while she'd directed it at the impatience of Jubstacheit in rushing the process, thereby resulting in defective units like Sofine, there was plausible reason as to why the girl tried to run the moment she saw her.

    Cowering behind the broom she carried, trying to make herself as small as possible, Liesel was reminded of a mouse hiding beneath the many summer leaves that still littered the courtyard.

    She called down to the frightened girl. "Sofine?"

    "Y-yes, Lady Liesel…?" the girl squeaked, gentle red eyes peeking through the bristles before moving it away from her face entirely.

    Like the others of her generation, she was lovely as all Einzbern homunculi evidently were. Except, unlike her sisters, unusually short and thin to where she would be crushed if thrown together with the rest. Which was one of the reasons she was often assigned to help the tuners in their errands. The incident with the garden had been her first interaction amongst others of her kind on castle grounds outside of message running since she was created—and after Liesel's own subsequent outburst, her last.

    Pinching her brow and cursing because of her own lack of self-control back then—a mistake she would never make again—Liesel knew full well it'd not been the girl's fault.

    She'd also yet the opportunity to tell her that. Until today.



    Within the castle were a total of seven courtyards, six outside with one at the center. Inside each courtyard was a garden, with the most grandiose being in the central courtyard, simply referred to as the main garden.

    It was a white, red, and violet circlet of many beautiful flowers from the most ghostly orchids, to the very radiant of veronicas, and frostiest of pansies. They were all grouped together, spiraling around a flower on the crown that was so thin it almost appeared translucent as it rose above the rest.

    Now, it was little more than a patch of disheveled dirt and grass. All the flowers had been cut down to their stems and petals were still scattered over the courtyard, serving as a lasting reminder that nothing was forever.

    Taking some grass seed from a sack and sprinkling them in the shallow hole she just finished digging, cursing her declining functionality when her arm jerked and they fell everywhere but the hole, Liesel clumsily motioned Sofine over.

    Nothing was forever, but, that did not mean it could not be remade.

    "Sofine." Liesel wiped her hand on her apron, holding out her shovel. "Come here."

    "You want me to…?" the girl pointed from herself to the hole, then looked over at the bag. Receiving a nod in reply, Sofine took some seed, dropped them in the hole, and poured dirt carefully on top, managing not to spill too much of it. "... like this?"

    "Yes. Splendid." Pointing to another spot where there was nary any grass, Liesel told her to try it by herself this time.

    She beamed. "R-right!" she said, jumping at the chance to correct her folly from last time.

    It was going to be a while before the main garden would look like it once had—a few years, by her estimation—but, observing the way Sofine slowly sank the shovel into the soil, trying to judge an appropriate depth to pull it free, Liesel was confident it could be done again. Perhaps it could even become grander than it once was. And maybe even cure a failure in the process.

    Though, her mind moving to more pressing matters, the cool night air giving her an unwelcome shiver, the effort might all be pointless. Recalling the Servant preparations, the last components needed for the ritual to summon it were supposed to arrive in a few days. The Apostle was personally delivering them itself, the task previously done through the use of familiars. She had no way of knowing which of them it was, and not knowing was often a fatal mistake. Having dealt with their ilk in the past, she further wondered what interest one would have in the Holy Grail to begin with, and none of what she thought seemed pleasant. Though, any misgivings fell on deaf ears, for Jubstacheit had locked himself in his study until their arrival.

    And once the Monolith made its decision there was no dissuading it.

    Thus, as Sofine finished planting seeds and she told her to start on the next one, even if she had the means to convince him that it was foolish to trust the word of the undead, regardless of which Apostle and what their interest was, the end result would be the same.

    "How goes the restorations?"

    It was all a bother.

    "Faster, if you helped," Liesel said without turning to address her counterpart, who now only worried and accomplished the bare minimum of her regular duties due in part to units like Sofine and in part due to taking it upon herself to be Ilseviel's main "caretaker"—a dereliction she couldn't stand.

    Josefine gave a shrug and took the shovel from Sofine, leaving the girl to awkwardly stand to the side looking lost. Liesel told her to help distribute seed as her counterpart dug a few holes. The girl accidentally spilled the bag.

    "I-I'm sorry… Lady Liesel…" Sofine stammered, head bowed.

    "It's alright. Mistakes are… normal. You've done quite enough. Please attend to your other duties." Dismissing the girl, Liesel watched her limp away.

    "That one is so clumsy," Josefine commented, braided hair falling over a boastful bosom as she continued shoveling dirt. "Or, she might just have a perpetual fear of weeds."

    Filling the holes, Liesel gave her a distasteful look. "This is not a time for jokes."

    "I was being serious."

    She rolled her eyes. "Where is she?"

    "Speaking with the tuners."

    "I assumed you were going to be with her still?"

    Josefine unhurriedly planted the shovel. "I felt it best to inform you of something, first."

    "What do you mean?"

    "The Apostle is here with the final components."



    In the castle's ceremony chamber, Liesel waited with Jubstacheit for Josefine and Ilseviel. The Apostle's familiar, a large, black wolf, sat in front of the incantation circle with all the pieces in the center and ready to start. Above it, the stained glass portrait that depicted the ritual of the Grail's first conception loomed: three magi arranged around a goblet, each reaching a hand out to touch it. The one in the middle, with the ridiculously tall crown, dressed in white and gold, was Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern: the first Einzbern.

    Solely birthed to give shape to the Grail and with it the reclaiming of the Third Magic that was taken from their Creators, she had became its core and it was her essence that allowed the ritual to continue into the present day. If only she were here now, then perhaps she would be able to see that trusting this Apostle was a course of action too much a risk to undertake. But, Justeaze was long gone, and the Grail nor her copy and container, no matter how important, learned, or alike, were substitutes. It never would be, and Liesel went forlornly from her to Nagato garbed in red on the right.

    The youngest—by far—of the three, calculating and devoted where work was concerned, he had been a very pleasant, dependable young man.

    She could not say similar of his descendants.

    Naomi was much more involved in the political upheaval of the Association than her great-grandfather ever came close to being, wrapped up in her own warped ideologies of his wishes, too bullheaded to see that her method of carrying them out was doomed for failure. Proud, ambitious, and stubborn, her offspring and their children were going to have a very difficult future ahead of them if she survived. Though, at least her son was not completely within her clutches, so there might be hope for them yet.

    Moving to the left, the faint smile on Liesel's lip shriveled. For, in all black, was the most maniacal thing to come out of the world of magi in centuries: Makiri Zolgen.

    After the First Ritual—after the death of Justeaze—the once charming, handsome man they had known was no more. In his place was a selfish, conniving worm that only cared for himself and his own interests. Oldest of the family heads, he had been the sole reason behind the Second Ritual turning into such a bloodbath and Liesel shuddered just thinking about it. She hadn't seen him since, but knew he was still alive somewhere, preparing for this Third Ritual, and she prayed for everyone's sake that deep down the Makiri Justeaze had known well—the Makiri Liesel wanted to always remember herself—was still present within that… creature he'd become.

    Remembering the man he used to be, it all made her feel very aged.

    The signs were becoming more noticeable as the decades went on.

    Even now, her hands were clasped tight as if fused together by wax to keep from shaking, but even then her shoulder twitched slightly and she could do nothing but endure it when Josefine and Ilseviel finally entered the chamber and with them now here in attendance, they were ready to start the summoning ritual that was to guarantee their chances of ever obtaining the Grail, and, perhaps, forever to come, to be rendered a hopeless wish.

    When the doors shut completely, the Apostle's familiar stood and walked to the corner of the chamber adjacent where the shadows cast by the moon light's through the stained glass portrait were the densest, and laid down. Behind it, out of the darkness, came forth a dark haired woman.

    No, to say she came forth was incorrect.

    It were almost as if she extended from it, with her long, dark hair trailing behind. And wrapped in a black gown that appeared to weigh heavily on her shoulders, her back stooped over as she slowly stretched herself across the floor and came to loom over the spot her familiar had originally been.

    "I see that we are all accounted for," she rasped.

    Her eyes were strikingly lucid, and unlike the rest of her—a face ravaged by time, skin cracked and whiter than a winter's moon—not lost any of their youthfulness. They were also the color of blood. Not the vivid red of freshly spilled, but the blackened stains left behind to dry and, as they slowly moved between them, when Liesel peered into their depths, they were cold.

    Deadly, frighteningly, cold.

    So frigid her whole body numbed, frozen where she stood. Locked under their spell, she felt compelled to look into them for eternity, at the blackness that swirled in their core. And they didn't capture her gaze so much as consume it.

    It took a great effort for Liesel to pull herself away and stop following after them as they passed over her in that brief moment of contact. A moment that'd been just that, but which left her very tired, drained of her strength.

    Drawing in only shallow amounts of breaths afterwards, the air had been taken from her lungs. No, to be more accurate, the very heart of her had been touched. When she dared next look—a sideways glance that didn't focus on the Apostle's upper face—Liesel could have sworn on those dry, thin lips, barely a sliver, was a smile.

    It was then she knew they had indeed made a horrible, damning mistake.

    And, as the Apostle stopped before Ilseviel with a certain purpose, she had the feeling their world was to come crashing down in the days ahead.
    Last edited by Historia; February 18th, 2020 at 08:41 PM.

  15. #15
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    I'm really glad to see that you updated! I read over the past installments too, and I'm trying to press my memory for the various things that changed. I think that means it still flows as well as I thought it did the first time. One thing that was bugging me to remember: did you change Bedivere's awareness of Arturia's gender? I think I just remember more consistent masculine pronouns but now that you have developed it a bit more, it is obvious that Bedivere knows Arturia is female.

    I still love your atmosphere that you have in the new installment. The description isn't long and excessive, but there is definitely a certain feeling that the descriptions give me, and I think it seems authentic in a way that suits your story. I'm very interested to learn even more about Bedivere, and so far all of the other characters seem very vivid, too. Not having read any of the official information about the Third Holy Grail War to a great degree, I'm not sure which ones have a basis and canon and which are your creation, but they each feel like a genuine, real part of the story so far.

    I can't think of any mechanical critique at the moment, but that means I liked it very much. I look forward to reading more when you're ready!
    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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  16. #16
    紅魔|吸血鬼 Frostyvale's Avatar
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    Her Master didn’t appear to be convinced, but before he could reply there was a raping on the door and she concealed herself, transferring her material form for her non-material one, disappearing in a shimmer of green.
    I like where this is going but you probably didn't mean that.

  17. #17
    BORN TO REJOICE Walnut Sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    One thing that was bugging me to remember: did you change Bedivere's awareness of Arturia's gender? I think I just remember more consistent masculine pronouns...
    I seemed to remember it that way too. I was wondering if I imagined it.
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  18. #18
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by White Len View Post
    I like where this is going but you probably didn't mean that.
    B-But what if I did?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Grail Grand Prix View Post
    One thing that was bugging me to remember: did you change Bedivere's awareness of Arturia's gender? I think I just remember more consistent masculine pronouns but now that you have developed it a bit more, it is obvious that Bedivere knows Arturia is female.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walnut Sparks View Post
    I seemed to remember it that way too. I was wondering if I imagined it.
    Yes. I changed the pronouns. I always intended for Bedivere having known Arturia's true gender from the beginning. The use of masculine pronouns was going to be revealed to be a precaution set by Merlin and reinforced by Bedivere's own devotion as to further hide Arturia's identity, in place of the geis and a few other things. I dropped it for a few reasons.

    I still love your atmosphere that you have in the new installment. The description isn't long and excessive, but there is definitely a certain feeling that the descriptions give me, and I think it seems authentic in a way that suits your story. I'm very interested to learn even more about Bedivere, and so far all of the other characters seem very vivid, too. Not having read any of the official information about the Third Holy Grail War to a great degree, I'm not sure which ones have a basis and canon and which are your creation, but they each feel like a genuine, real part of the story so far.
    I don't like to overly describe things, or go into much detail when I do, I've found. I can't write purple prose unless I really rake my brain about it. This can be seen in what is now the dead What the World Can't Make Sense Of at the beginning. Particularly with Jack's POV. Also in Rot Me, but with that one, since it's its own thing with just Misaya as the protagonist the whole way through and I don't have to spread myself between multiple POVs like You Are My King I can let myself go a bit wild—and really love it.

    Hm. As for basis on canon... there's Lancer and Lancer's Master. They were both participants in the Third War. Helene Riefenstahl was a real person, and if you go to see Race in theaters she's one of the (more prominent) people who filmed the event (and is also being portrayed in the movie). All the other characters are my own creation (the majority, anyway).
    Last edited by Historia; February 12th, 2016 at 06:51 PM.

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    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Hm.

    Just wanted to post to say that in light of recent developments (or plot bunnies hopping all over the valley that is my imaginative mind), I've decided upon two things.

    The first, is changing Bedivere back to male. I did this, well, I'm not to spoil anything story related (of course), but I felt as though I already had too many female characters. I'm taking into account all of my (Type-Moon) works across the board. It bothered me enough, is what happened.

    The second, is this requires a lot of setup, and lots of trial and error and holy cow what have I gotten myself into trying to write this but most of all (grizzly) bear with me if every-time you visit this page its different.

    It's gonna happen a lot.
    Last edited by Historia; February 19th, 2016 at 02:51 PM.

  20. #20
    Put your emptiness to melody, your awful heart to song. Prix with a Silent X's Avatar
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    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!
    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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    Spoiler:
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    Let Sakura say fuck and eat junkfood you weirdos.


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