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Thread: Hero Fall (A Post Fifth Holy Grail War fic)

  1. #1
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Prologue:

    Still in a daze, the king looked down at the weak, fragile body of the boy who'd been her Master, curled into a ball and muttering to himself, having exceeded the limit of what the mind could endure. All that remained of her former Master were those words he repeated over again and again and again. The same words she didn't wish to hear any longer. Her golden sword came down, severing his spine and ending his life. A mercy she had no right to carry out. Beside him, the one responsible for everything, sat wounded, clutching the wound that would've ended hers, as well, blood running down. The king raised her golden sword for the second time, but, as much as she wanted to, couldn't, and lowered it back down. She turned away to the large, ominous, and gaping crimson ringed portal in the sky above both their heads—the Holy Grail she so desired.

    Nobody could blame her for it.

    Only, she saw it for what it truly was now, and her heart was heavy with sorrow, deceived and blinded by her pride.

    But, nobody could blame her for it.

    There were no words.

    —This path… I don't believe it's the wrong one—

    Standing on this lonely battlefield, crimson shades pooling at her feet, this was the final outcome of her pride, her wish, and the devastation it wrought as she went from it to the slumbering city around them.

    Yes, nobody could blame her for it.

    —Oh, my dear little sister, how I await the day you crumble and fall and open those perfect eyes to truth—

    Taking up her sword for the third time, the king left to go find a place to sow her sorrows.

    Because nobody could blame her for it.



    Months later, high up in the mountains of China, two heroes were locked in a struggle of life and death. One, wielded a sword. The other, a bow. They went from range to range, peak to peak, at a speed impossible to follow with the naked eye alone. Thunderous were their clashes, demolishing their chosen battleground, until the mountains were reduced to canyons, and those canyons into chasms very deep, very dark, unable to be seen, even by those with keenest of eyes. At a stalemate, the two heroes stood facing each other and, over the roaring winds, the hero with the bow spoke to her opponent.

    "Why are you holding back, Saber? Am I not a worthy enough foe for you to still conceal your blade?" she proclaimed, pointing the tip of her bow toward them. Bright, crimson flames coiling around its strings, kept burning by Archer's anger alone, her eyes fiery and the horns protruding from her forehead giving away her demonic nature, she anxiously waited for her opponent to answer.

    Unmoving, Saber answered clearly and calmly. "No, Archer," she said, sheathing her sword in one smooth, crisp motion and shaking her head. "I never wished to engage you in the first place. My goal is to find and eliminate Caster, nothing more and nothing less."

    "Are you saying you never took this fight seriously? You were mocking me, Saber?!" Archer snarled, but, Saber was already gone; leaving to continue her pursuit of Caster.

    Lowering her eyes to their battlefield, the fire in Archer's eyes smoldered to embers, her horns shrunk back down to stubs. She grit her teeth in humiliation as another insignificant scratch on the latter's blade, gathering what lingered of her pride as she left to reunite with her Master.

    Having watched their battle unfold and come together and unfold again to its rather anticlimactic conclusion from a safe distance away, predicting its outcome before either even drew their weapons, Lancer was awoken from her nap by the sound of her Master whining in her ear. He was famished, huddled around her legs. Stretching stiff muscles, she picked something from that same ear, then hopped to her feet and pulled a piece of cooked, salted meat from her cloak. He snatched it, chewing happily, then he sat there, tongue out and tail wagging, satisfied. Patting his head, Lancer wondered if she should catch up to Saber and tell her where Caster had run off to. Her Master barked, and she nodded in agreement. Right. Yes. Of course, what was she thinking... Caster was their hunt, and nobody else's.

    And this was where the fun began.

    The start of another Holy Grail War.
    Last edited by Historia; October 12th, 2018 at 03:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 1

    Miles and an ocean removed from the World's events at large in an undisclosed city near Tokyo, Japan, Médée Veilleux gave the signal for her team to halt, looking up the weathered steps of the city's local temple at the gate that stood atop. Behind them, the city lay dormant, quiet and relaxed, almost as it were in a momentary state of hibernation till morning; its residents unknowing of the battle that had been waged right beneath their noses for the past two weeks. Of which, its finale, was right in front of theirs. Only, to her, it was all a waste of time. She should be out hunting, not investigating baseless claims. Especially one as trifling a matter as this.

    —After your recent failure, this is the chance we've been waiting for. Don't disappoint me again—

    She could never understand what went through her mentor's head to make her so... obstinate, but, what she thought didn't matter. Even if what she thought was that this was just another wild goose chase—another ruse to let the trail go cold again. For, her mentor, hellbent on the idea that an Ancestor was pulling the strings behind, well, anything even remotely having to do with these far eastern rituals, had let Lord El-Melloi II's obsession get the better of her.

    Feeling the faint presence of magecraft the closer she got toward the gate, of all the things he could have gotten her involved with, it were these backwater debacles. The Vice Director was so obsessed, in fact, that the team sent in addition to herself was comprised of members from the Brigade. Ten of the Vice Director's own, hand-picked elite.

    Continuing on her way to the temple, she alone would have been enough, but this, this was excessive—and that was only counting the team traveling with her. Others were busy scouring the city high and low for any possible signs of Apostle activity. The Vice Director had dedicated a great deal of her personal resources into this farce, and it raised only one question: who among the higher mysteries of the World had irritated her enough?

    … Ortenrosse.

    If it even was Ortenrosse.

    Médée sighed, partially out of disgust at that fool of a Lord, but, mainly because of the afterimages detailing the battles fought at this very spot she saw as she went along. They came in flashes, faster than any normal human eye could follow. They were even fast for a magus, but, her eyes could see everything clearly. Nonetheless, she would have to decipher them at a later date as she finally came to the temple, the energy of something twisted beyond. Hopefully something significant so she get this over with quickly and go back to what really mattered or otherwise she'd never hear the end of it.

    Telling her team to lay low, she went forward alone, following the dark whisperings behind the temple where there was now only death. From the smell, someone had also emptied their bowels.

    As she continued on with more questions than answers, her mentor rarely, if ever, acted upon her "gut feelings", and while she could certainly think of a few who would have interest in a ritual like this, none of those were Ortenrosse. The Vice Director was being made a fool of, too blinded in her hatred to even see it.

    Eventually, she came across hidden steps leading up to a cave, which she entered.

    It led into a vast cavern of raging red sand.

    Quickly scanning the area, nothing else caught her eye besides some crumbled remains resembling a deflated embryo.

    Handing it over to her team back at the temple, she checked in with rest who were scattered about the city. They were thoroughly clearing each portion of the city. Each successful sweep was given in sparse detail. Only two were really worth seeing for herself; first, it was reported that they found a house where a family had been murdered, the bodies fed upon by what could only be a Dead Apostle. Second, a strange bounded field masked the entrance to the sewer lines that ran underneath the bridge which connected the north and south sides of the city.

    So, standing by the railing of the winding two-lane road that curved around the mountainside further down, gazing down at the slumbering city below, Médée arranged for her team to collect whatever samples they could, then scorch the area and leave no traces behind.



    Arriving at the first location, Médée approached the magus who was watching over the house in case anyone happened to chance upon it.

    "What did you find?"

    "See for yourself."

    Stepping over the body of a man lying face down in his own blood, the magus led her inside, where it became apparent that—to her chagrin—the Vice Director's gut feeling wasn't wrong.

    "There's no mistaking it…"

    In the living room, on the couch, sat the drained and shriveled husk of a woman, fingers still clutching the remote to the television, her neck ripped into and what little od flowing through her veins sucked out along with her death thralls.

    "This is the work of an Apostle," he stated.

    Médée sighed for the second time. This was exactly what she didn't need. Turning to the magus, seeing a streak of blood which ran from the hallway to the beginning of the living room, she couldn't just pass this off as a robbery gone wrong.

    "Is there anything else I should be aware of?" she asked, looking at the sole, fluffy, oversized jacket hanging on the coat rack.

    "Yes. This way," he said.

    Following him to a child's room, it was dark except for a tabletop lamp. Beside the lamp was a stuffed animal. She picked it up. She asked of the child's whereabouts.

    "Vanished."

    Even though this was a very recent feeding.

    "It might be saving the child for later," she surmised. "Do what's necessary, and then contact the local church. I'm heading over to the second location."

    Stepping back out into the cold night air, she hoped whatever awaited her at the bridge wouldn't be anything more troublesome than this.



    And now feeling along the tunnel wall of the sewer line, thinking of what the second magus said of the bounded field, her sigh turned into a groan.

    Similar in likeness to that of a Territorial Field, the last thing she wanted was to confirm her mentor's suspicions, but, going deeper into the gloom, Médée definitely felt that familiar weight on her shoulders, but, it was faint and felt nothing like any of the Fields she'd encountered on their outings. Therefore, she'd no reason to believe it to be the real thing and wanted to turn back, leave it to the magus outside, but kept going anyway. Was it actually the cleverly disguised work of Ortenrosse, or the amateurish mess of a budding Ancestor yet to earn their place within the higher ranks of their kin?

    … She truly didn't care.

    Thus, after a time, when the concrete became slick and slimy, she pulled her hand away and snapped her fingers. Making a makeshift torch out of a tiny flame, the wall was covered in that same black sludge as back at the temple. Watching it burn—she was just about done with this whole sordid affair; it was like tar, and she followed the trail of it further into the tunnel, blue melting black, illuminating the dark.

    Attracted by the light, first grunts and groans not her own, then drawn closer by the smell of fresh flesh, the undead slowly, painstakingly approached. Ugly, shabbling mockeries of what they'd once been. Ghouls, victims of an Apostle, risen again, lumbering towards her with lolling tongues and bloodstained teeth. Their cold hands grasped for her, skin hanging loose from their bones.

    Destroying the first one that got too close, where there was the Dead, so too were their masters not far behind…

    But, turning the last of them to ash, letting its headless body fall inanimate at her feet, Médée scattered the charred bits and pieces, a hollow crunch, once hardened bone and cartilage crushed beneath her heel, while it wasn't his work—clearly, glancing around at the dozen or more around her in smoldering heaps—at least their being here proved it: the existence of a regular Dead Apostle.

    Significantly weaker, and stupider, than their more superior counterparts—which "significantly" was a gross underestimate of the gap between the two—it was probably a magus who, too far out of their element, wound up even more pathetic than they were in life.

    Whatever the case, the Apostle using these undead as its playthings would've no doubt already killed many more to satiate its hunger, their soulless husks bound to follow until a new master came along and took over the position. She had to find it, lest it—and it would, given the time—take over the whole city. After all, she knew how tedious that would be to deal with.

    Continuing on, peering down at someone's intestines strewn across the floor, a dim light flickering on and off overhead, it wouldn't be long now. Blood and water ran together until she came to the corpse of the man those intestines belonged to. Sprawled on his side, ravenously torn apart, two holes, perfectly aligned with one another, were visible on the neck.

    A fresh kill.

    She was almost upon it.

    Turning her palm towards the corpse as she passed, Médée was deep within the tunnel now. The flame she'd following was finally gone, and so as not to be surrounded in the dark another makeshift torch was floating above her palm. A faint, sickening green hue, and though fighting these creatures one handed was no trouble, even she would be a fool if she thought them to be feeble opponents. Inhumanly strong, relentless, if it managed to grab a hold of her it was the end.

    So, cautiously maintaining her pace, when she eventually discovered another body, ripped in two, the distance between them was wide.

    Bits of organ still hung from the ghoul's mouth. Its back was turned to her, and she waited for its black eyes to stare in her direction, not seeing so much as sensing her—the od flowing through her veins, powerful and ancient—it was more ugly than she guessed: dark, matted hair hung like seaweed from a scabby, burned, all but skinless face. Hunched over, its spine was visible and hands were like white sticks, the flesh almost completely fallen off its body in some places. Its broken and bloody fingers dangled at odd angles. Its clothing, too, was in poor condition. Not to mention, in poor taste. As the light from her torch started searing its exposed skin, it backed away into the dark, hissing and spitting, its mouth a mangle of misshapen, yellowed teeth. Gazing at her from the shadows, it garbled something and spat whatever it had been eating at her feet—a piece of the girl's stomach.

    The smell of the mushed, partially-digested remains of a final meal mixing in with a strong aroma of cheap perfume insulting her sinuses, Médée immediately kicked it away and took a step forward as the Apostle took a clumsy one back.

    "Do you have a master?" she asked, as the half-eaten organ hit the wall with a wet, meaty impact. She waited again, surging energy through her body and collecting it in her other hand.

    Darkness slowly creeping its way back, her makeshift torch flickering out. It said something, only, too deformed for it to have been anything past incoherent babble and the ghoul, unburdened now by the lack of light, sprang forward.

    She casually lifted her other hand, now fully charged with magical energy. Of course, how stupid of her to ask. She sent it reeling back, clawing and tearing at itself in a vain attempt at putting out the flames that now engulfed its body and watching as it writhed on the body of the dead girl, thought to ask once more—for there was always the chance—but, reconsidered. Whether it had a master or not, was unimportant. If it did, they were long gone by now.

    She also burned the body that lay underneath it, wanting to see her grueling duty done quickly, and cast her gaze across the area briefly. Spotting something—a trinket of some sort—she took it, then drowned the place in a magical fire, stepping through unharmed and making her way back to the entrance as her magecraft took care of any evidence.

    When she came out, she told the waiting magus to finish with the cleanup and made her way to the taxi she'd hired to take her swiftly to and fro. Getting in, she told the driver to take her to the private airport that the Vice Director had bought out; further solidifying the fact that her mentor had an incurable obsession.

    Inspecting the trinket, the taxi starting on its way, while it was yet one more thing to inform her of, unlike Lord El-Melloi II—who made it a habit to track down and hoard strange things in his personal time—nearly everything her mentor did in hers was an excuse to stomp out more Dead Apostles. Thus, she would have no use for it.

    So, she thought, then why not just keep it for herself?
    Last edited by Historia; October 12th, 2018 at 02:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Preformance Pertension SeiKeo's Avatar
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    Did you delete like two posts in here?

    Anyways, uh. If you're going to bring in an OC you really need to provide more to work with. The introduction of your OC here is basically just all exposition dump, which frankly people don't care about much already, but it also serves to not characterize her at all. There's an entire chapter and she's basically nothing.
    Quote Originally Posted by asterism42 View Post
    That time they checked out that hot guy they were just admiring his watch, yeah?


  4. #4
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by @Keo View Post
    Did you delete like two posts in here?

    Anyways, uh. If you're going to bring in an OC you really need to provide more to work with. The introduction of your OC here is basically just all exposition dump, which frankly people don't care about much already, but it also serves to not characterize her at all. There's an entire chapter and she's basically nothing.
    Yeah, I realized that. I'm re-working it. Just kept the first chapter in because.

  5. #5
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    I posted the revised first chapter. Hopefully it's a tad bit better than the previous.

    - - - Updated - - -

    As for the rest of the chapters, I have completed up until Chapter 5, and have material stretching all the way to Chapter 12. Hence, the list. Right now it's only a matter of organization and polish. Which I could use a lot of.
    Last edited by Historia; May 7th, 2016 at 12:33 PM.

  6. #6
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 2

    Wide-awake in her flat overlooking Clock Tower the day after, those images looping in her head since the trip back, Médée thought of the serpentine dagger and soured further. Lying beside her bed on the nightstand, unwrapped and out of its golden, leather-bound sheath, its iridescent blade was still ever changing colors; from sickening shades of scrapes, cuts, welts, and bruises to the fields of sunflower, hues of evening sun—these beautiful colors were the only thing left of her Holy Grail War.

    She sat up and took it, hair falling in front of her eyes.

    A finger tracing its thin surface, it was the only one she hadn't destroyed or handed over to the Faculty of Law to do what they pleased with, an ancient, ceremonial weapon embellished with a single violet jewel on the hilt, once belonging to a witch from the Age of Gods.

    She now held it to the light.

    Thinking of how, even though she'd won and proven her worth, that her mentor had yet to recognize her. How, despite winning, she'd been saved and spared by Saber whom disappeared shortly thereafter. Of what transpired because of her actions, a city on fire, the country an uproar, and being barred from ever entering another.

    It'd been several months since then.

    Setting the dagger back down on her nightstand, Médée got out of bed, buttoned her shirt, and went into the kitchen. Pouring a glass of water, there was a reflection of her collarbone; deep scars from where Assassin's knives shaved her skin when she'd miscalculated and would've died if Saber hadn't been there to stop that fourth knife.

    —A person like you, who throws lives away like they serve no meaning, has no right to have their wish granted—

    Now scouring her fridge for something to go with it, blending an assortment of leftover fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, she drank them and set the empty glasses in the sink before taking stripping down and entering the shower. Warm water running, she could still hear Saber's words echoing in her head, feel the cold bite of her golden blade upon the nape of her neck. The Servant that got away. Her left hand throbbed.

    —From here on, you will learn humiliation. If, in time, you come to know it as I have, then that is more than anything death could ever grant you—

    Honestly, she could do without anymore Holy Grail Wars.



    Arriving by horse-drawn stagecoach at the Archibald mansion in the outskirts of London, Médée peered out its curtained window at the family's crest that hung proudly above the mansion's main gate.

    As punishment for leveling an entire city, letting a rogue Servant run loose unabated, and costing both the Magus Association and Holy Church an innumerable amount of joint resources to cover up, ever since, and oh so much to her great joy, she'd been stuck in her new position as an "official liaison" between them and her mentor about the Holy Grail Wars. Specifically, the man who'd inherited one of Clock Tower's most prestigious titles in a Holy Grail War of his own.

    Last she heard, he was still tracking down leads and researching the false claims of a supposed "Great Holy Grail War" whether they be right here in London, a channel and several rolling hills away in Ireland, or such volatile places as Africa, the Middle East, and even America to source them. Though many turned out to be squabbles between the local populace where a significant amount of magecraft happened to be involved, or petty pockets of rogue magi, or the whisperings of something long ago left forgotten and of no use in this current, modern age, a few were actual Holy Grail Wars, like the one she'd just returned from.

    The one that was supposed to be it.

    Except it wasn't, and walking up to the mansion, Lord El-Melloi II, hardly the tall, dreary, intimidating figured half the female student body painted his as, was little more than a lanky, slobbering, chip and cigar craving fool. A dreamer severely in need of a haircut. Great Big Ben London Star—as befitting an alternative title as any of the man.

    The Barthomeloi had left him far too long to his own devices with that apprentice of his, but to convince her mentor that she still held some value as a proper apprentice herself, she had to keep up these appearances. Had to keep going to these pointless meetings.

    Sucking in her disgust and disappointment through her teeth, tapping on the mansion's front doors, at least the situation had improved from the first time around.

    They swung wide and Trimmau, the mercury golem that functioned as Reines's maid and bodyguard, beckoned her inside with a curt, if awkwardly mechanical, bow. It'd been practicing...

    "Lady Veilleux, the Lord awaits you in his study."

    The doors shutting with a gentle, well-oiled creak behind them, Médée ignored the opaque, silver construct's explanations of her master's most recent additions to his master's collection of paintings and other fancy tapestries as they passed them by, following it through the main hall and up the stairs.

    Another thing she couldn't stand: Reines's heartwarming favoritism of her.

    While not having many face-to-face interactions with each other, Reines always made it a habit to be kind to her. Always having her maid escort her around the mansion when she visited, always telling her such things as "not to put up with the imbeciles who would do her wrong", and silencing any rumors about her person, it'd grown to become an annoyance. She'd already gotten a hold of Flatt for the red-ribboned gift basket full of expensive chocolates that would be waiting in front of her door after today's visit.

    Upon reaching the study, Reines was nonchalantly sipping tea.

    "It's wonderful to see you again! How are you?" the girl greeted. She set her teacup down on the tabletop beside her chair with a welcoming smile then snapped at Lord El-Melloi II.

    At the least two heads shorter than her, behind that gentle, princess allure was very much a lioness and her pride. Having fought without rest to secure her title as head of the Archibald family upon being chosen for the position after the first Lord El-Melloi's untimely departure, Reines was someone who would do anything to keep her standing within Clock Tower. It was partially the reason the current Lord El-Melloi was serving her.

    "Fine," Médée answered back.

    For that, she admired her ruthlessness more than her kindness, and when Reines turned to the Lord in question, who was already looking drained and defeated, commanding him to pour her a cup with another snap of her fingers, she would admire her and accept her kindness further if she dropped the façade of "the caring auntie"—as Flatt put it—altogether.

    "And how was your—"

    "Uneventful."

    "Oh, I see." Reines frowned.

    Lord El-Melloi waved her away. "Yes, yes." He gave the formalities a wave as well. His brow wrinkled. "Right, well..." He sighed, bringing a hand to his face. "So, it—"

    Reines took an obnoxiously loud sip of her tea, seated in her chair again.

    "... To start—"

    Slurp.

    Lord El-Melloi glanced in her direction with a pained smiled.

    "Did you find any leads?"

    "No."

    His gaze traveled to the shelves of books behind him briefly. He rubbed his chin. "Hm. I see… How disappointing…" he said, reaching into his coat pocket. His fumbled around, face darkening when something that should've been there, wasn't. "... Fuck! Where…?" Pacing back and forth between Reines, the shelf, and his desk, after a few minutes, he picked up a cigar from the floor near Reines's foot. "There it is…" He shot her a nasty look.

    She didn't seem to notice. "Nobody wants to hear about another celebration in America which turned out to be just some little girl's private costume party. Or those kids in Africa who saw one too many Monty Python skits. Get on with the one you neglected to tell her because you were being overly critical of the costumes at the party. Rambling on and on..."

    Lord El-Melloi took a seat at his desk. "Yes, well, I wanted to make sure of that one before sharing it, and after some more looking into it, I can say this one might be worth our attention." He leaned back in his chair, linking his hands together, cigar between his teeth. "The MENA branch of the Association is up to something. The Director of the Academy has reported strange rituals being performed around the ruins of Babylon that were similar in nature to those in Fuyuki rituals 70 years prior. Of course, you already knew this part."

    "Oh, get on—!"

    "Let's skip to the end, then." He cleared his throat. "Gray went to investigate shortly after you left. She's already on her way back, but, in her search found a water source running underneath what remains of the city. Multiple, in fact. Moreover, she discovered what appears to be an entrance in the heart of the ruins, but that's not what's significant about this one." Snuffing out his cigar, he snorted. "What is, is that Gray discovered signs of incantation circles, like those used to summon Servants. Though, whether or not they were successful is anybody's guess."

    "Like the catacombs."

    "Yes."

    While she hadn't bothered to read the findings in full, something to do with an armored shadow entity which was reminiscent of the ghost-liners in these Holy Grail Wars, the Servants, and that its name was supposedly Kay.

    "And Hephaestion."

    Lord El-Melloi gripped the armrest of his chair, knuckles white. "Yes." He slowly relaxed. "Also, while you were away, another has already began in a small mountain village in China. It wasn't one of those I'd been following any leads on. A representative was sent over, but, we lost contact with them recently..." he trailed off.

    "You're still upset about not being able to go instead? Honestly." Reines closed her eyes and scowled as she took a third sip. Dozens of empty boxes in a corner of the chambers read Yerba Mate. "Quit being a baby about it."

    "At least I have an interest in something besides sucking up to the Vice Director through her apprentice and drowning myself in tea all day," he countered with an exasperated sigh.

    Médée broke the accompanying tension between the two. "Is that everything?"

    He broke eye contact with Reines and nodded.

    "Then I'll make sure the Vice Director hears of this," she concluded.

    Then she left the Lord's study, hearing shouting and something as it shattered as soon as the door closed.

    Trimmau escorted her out.

    And getting back into the stagecoach for the ride back, regarding these strange rituals, last she heard, their new Director was working diligently to organize the branch into something of a higher discipline, but clearly Atlas was still lax and its members even moreso. It came as no surprise something like that would've slipped under their noises. Of those Dead Apostles that they knew by name, Sumire was only one of her kin to overcome the traditional weakness of water, able to submerse herself without consequence. The ruins of Babylon had no running sources of water, having all dried up an Age ago. Seeing as how Sumire could also manifest water and live in it, it wouldn't be far-fetched to say she might be hiding there, as well. If anything, she knew her mentor would be elated at this news… in addition to what she'd found in Japan.

    … Or, rather, who.
    Last edited by Historia; October 12th, 2018 at 02:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 3

    —Today, the youth who holds the lance in his hands shall have all the glory and praise he desires—

    The familiar presence Bazett felt began to multiply; fan out among the shipyard in a formation reminiscent of what was taught in her Enforcer training days.

    They'd finally made their move.

    Falling back into the ship, she masked herself and listened, chanting one of her more immediate five-verse incantations beneath her breath.

    "Ar mo mionn, A ligean ar an spéir dorchaigh..."

    One of them moved to check for any traps. But, it was already too late.

    "... In ainm mo shinsir, beidh mé tost ar fad séantóir..."

    Continuing her chant, the sky grew black and the clouds drew closer to the ground. They retreated. But, it was far too late.

    "... Istigh leis an búir toirneach!"

    Thunder crashed, lightning striking down from the heavens, its roar drowning away their screams. Stepping out into the open after, Bazett ignored the grisly smell of charred flesh and pulled up her sleeve, exposing her metal, prosthetic left arm to the elements. It sizzled in the rain. The Lightning coiling around it like white-hot tendrils. She channeled magecraft along its length and aimed at where she calculated those still alive to be hiding.

    "... Tá brón orm..."

    With a deafening screech, it chained through the metal littering the shipyard, and the air filled with the dying screams of more of her pursuers as they sprang up, lit aflame. They thrashed about in the rain, those dying screams bubbling to howls.

    And, she waited.

    And, in the second it took for her to register that not all of them were dead, something hit her chest with such force the others would've crushed her ribcage if she hadn't dodged them in time. Spitting blood, her former, fellow Enforcer was already making their next move, launching several more bullets of magical energy. She dodged what she could and blocked what she couldn't with her prosthetic arm and, letting the useless limb fall away to her side, empowered her other hand and slammed it down in their direction. The ground broke, and a man was thrown clear, sliding in the mud, the magical barrier he'd put up to shield himself shattering violently, sending have her tumbling across the ground with a particularly acute blast of magecraft which rendered her temporary immobile in the same instant.

    If she were an ordinary person, an ordinary magus, the blast would've been enough to kill her.

    Gasping for air, she lunged out with her prosthetic in a last ditch act to catch him unaware, coming just shy of swiping him across the face. Only, the damage was done and she heaved, rolling over on her back and clutching her chest. Next she knew, he was above her, hand glowing bright, about to finish the job.

    But, even he couldn't anticipate the intervention of a Servant.

    —Until the day comes when this land and this era itself disappear into the ocean, not a single human, not a single bird nor a flower will ever forget him—

    Blood dripped onto her jacket, blood trickled down the Enforcer's chin, blood ran down the barbed weapon nearly touching her abdomen and jutting from his.

    He was dead before his body hit the ground.

    "Ya hurt, Master?" Lancer asked, as he twirled his spear, offering his hand.

    "It's fine," she replied, gazing up to a dirty clouds in a sweat. Her prosthetic arm was out flat, inoperable. A number of her ribs were broken. When she tried to rise to her feet again, her chest was being squeezed to death.

    She got up anyway.

    She labored her way to a spot overlooking the bay, spotting a group of shipbreakers laboring themselves to drag a massive piece of metal through the muddy sand.

    —Our dearest Son of Light—



    Not long after, between rows of derelict ships, slipping in and out of their towering shadows, save for the sparks that showered them as the workers up on their decks were busy cutting them down to size, Bazett read the names of various barnacle encrusted steel skeletons left abandoned. The shipyard was silent, the ships forever still. The air hung heavy with the odor of brine and fuel and a distant aroma of salty, burnt flesh that was carried by winds. She continued to ignore that particular smell.

    In the weeks since the end of her assigned Holy Grail War, losing her left arm, acquiring her Sealing Designation, and finally luring out the last of those magi sent to apprehend her, she'd gotten no rest. The hunter was now the hunted. Covered in oil and mud, peering down into the dark, polluted waters of the shipyard, she thought of that initial assignment, that wish she'd secretly held close to her heart, a childish dream, and, looking back at Lancer, honestly wished she'd never in the first place.

    When she'd first summoned him, at the time, to meet Cú Chulainn in the flesh, to speak with him and find out with her own two eyes what such a man was like rather than just reading about his deeds in storybooks... Once, she thought she could save him, but, now knew that if anyone needed to be saving it wasn't him.

    It'd nearly cost her everything, not just her left arm, but, pulling her hood down, slinging Fragarach over her shoulder again, and trying to form a fist with her prosthetic replacement, it was something she should've accepted by now: failure.

    —My older brother told me this once: 'Life itself is not painful. It's you, who's holding your breath'. Getting rid of that habit is not easy, Bazett Fraga McRemitz—

    … His words came back, that night came back, the fire crackling between her and the Executor priest she was content to call a friend despite their affiliated organizations being less than friendly. When she'd whined about her woes to a man who'd listened with rapt attention, disheartened, still trying to find herself and her purpose in the world. A stupid girl who nobody needed, hated by many, and loved by none; to a man needed no one, who hated no one, who loved no one. The first, and only, night they'd spoken at length.

    —If you feel you are unnecessary to this world… to forgive yourself, you must first see a greater world—

    Her Sealing Designation. From hunting down loansharks in Tokyo's underbelly where they'd first met the master puppeteer to recovering research materials from known, rogue magi in Sochi that would suit her own mechanisms, it was during that brief period it'd been placed on her head, and their initial reason for being here in Bangladesh, artifact collecting, overlapped with the arrival of the Magus Association. While it was only appropriate to receive one as she was a loose-end, she couldn't help but wondering Touko herself had her hand in seeing it pushed through this fast.

    It was no secret that the infamous holder of the title Red, who in exchange for crafting her a new, fully-functional left arm, requested they work for her for at least six months, would have connections within the upper hierarchies of the Clock Tower—those noble and prestigious magi families, histories of tradition spanning centuries who'd love nothing greater than the chance to have a rare Mystic Code and Magic Crest within their possession—and had the resources to send the two of them wherever she needed her business done.

    Not that she was complaining, it gave her something to do, though this was taking it too far. It wasn't something she took pleasure in nor that she had time to deal with right now except more grief.

    As they came to the shantytowns outside the city, Bazett paid their ferryman and lowered her hood down further as she and Lancer melted into the crowd.

    She didn't want to think about it any longer.

    Eyes shifting to the tattered cloak over her clothing, concealing the bag they'd risked life and the rest of her limbs for, they needed to find a place to rest and mend her wounds.



    "Ya know, my teacher would've liked you a lot, Master."

    Lancer, leaning against the wall of the unoccupied building she'd decided upon in one of the Chittagong's poorer neighbourhoods, grinned.

    Short, youthful, and beardless, his skin fair and features slender, blue-black hair thick, and eyes, swift and gray, the color of dreary rain, he was cheerful as ever. His weapon, the infamous barbed spear Gáe Bulg made from the bone of the sea monster Coinchenn, lay propped up beside him.

    Without him, she never would've been able to escape Japan.

    She winced.

    Lancer spoke again. "Something wrong, Master?"

    She shook her head. "No, it's nothing."

    The pain in her chest. It wasn't the best job, but, enough to heal on its own, and that was all that mattered. She ran her hand across her prosthetic. Just a replacement for the original of flesh and blood where skin met metal, despite how real it felt, it was never going to be no matter the prosthetic nor skill of the practitioner.

    She stood up. Stretched. "... Are we sure that was the last of them?"

    He wore partial scraps of leather and metal armor over a tight fitting bodysuit for a balanced mixture of speed and protection. He shrugged. The pieces clicked together.

    "Then we should hurry."

    When she stepped out, and they were in busier streets, a boy bumped into her. She stopped, turned, but he was gone, and in her hand was a letter that hadn't been before while the bag holding the artifact's they'd collected was gone.

    That troublesome woman worked too fast.

    Lancer pursed his lips, looking in the direction the boy disappeared, then looked back. "Aye… where to next?" So, he knew it too. It hadn't been a boy, a local, but, one of her uniquely crafted puppets. He peeked over her shoulder, probably hoping it was someplace where he'd get a decent fight. Humans and homunculi weren't enough. No, what he wanted was…

    She scowled. "Dammit."

    That troublesome woman worked too fast.

    Closing her eyes for a moment, she didn't want to know whatever scheme Touko was up to, or, in actually, who her other clients were nor allow herself to get further involved than necessary, but, some things couldn't be changed, could they?

    The Einzbern family. A certain homunculi required disposal of. It was the second time she'd gotten such a request from them specifically, recalling that particular assignment. Black mud, a hollowed city, virgin blood. Bazett's eyes narrowed. She already didn't like the sound of it.

    And the last bit, especially, sealed the deal.

    … Her name is Forte. Perhaps you've heard of her? No, of course you have, my mistake.

    Of course she knew the name.

    Quite the favorite among those given the privilege of a Sealing Designation. After hearing about your circumstances, she personally contacted me to offer her services.

    Forte was a magus not tied to anyone within Clock Tower and who openly went against its core values for the sake of money and personal benefit. In other words, a freelancer. Moreover, a formidable, experienced combatant of many gruesome melees capable of challenging Dead Apostles on par with those dealt with by the Canticle Brigade.

    She hoped their new partner wasn't as uncouth as the Magus Killer—not that she'd ever met the man, but, there were stories. After all, the very last thing she needed was even more attention from the Association.
    Last edited by Historia; October 12th, 2018 at 02:12 PM.

  8. #8
    Dead Apostle Eater Historia's Avatar
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    Chapter 4

    "It was discovered in the woods near Farnham, of all places. This whole time and I hadn't sensed it, but they had!?"

    When she'd made her way to her mentor's study, Médée found the Vice Director not there. Instead, having to follow the breadcrumbs, she found her in Surrey, snarling at the leader of a group of Executors when she arrived. Pointing her gauntleted hand in his face, demanding an explanation, he explained that an unnaturally high concentration of unholy entities—ghouls, undead, spirits of the damned, the markings of an Apostle—was reported by the local priest. By the time her mentor caught whiff, the situation was already dealt with. Not their doing, but, the local priest's, who stood off to the side hands behind his back observing his own handiwork with seemingly stoic disinterest. Skimming over the pile of stinking, maggot-ridden corpses herself, bloody puncture wounds and cross-shaped seared flesh, clearly the man was once an Executor himself.

    …. Though as if her mentor gave a damn.

    Being shown a map of the surrounding countryside, the Vice Director quickly went over it. The Dead Apostle was still in the area, certainty. Hellbent and fury-fueled, certain. Biting her thumb after, she motioned her over.

    Her mentor, usually straight faced and unflinching in everything she did, was dripping blood. Trickles ran over her hand, down her chin. There were drops on the ground.

    "... Vice Director?"

    Her mentor wiped the blood from her chin and looked over at her with a solemn expression. "Well?"

    She recalled all she'd taken from those images: a skull face and demonic arm, the flash of crimson light cleaving dark shadows, breaking of the embryo—the incomplete Grail—the explosion and death of most involved; that man, blasting a girl dressed in blue and silver with frills, running away and dying just the same; the girl's broken body, her insufferable, childish laughter, mocking the knight as she took her last breaths; said knight, unamused, seething, dealing the death blow; those last words, blade stained with blood and black mud.

    — … You can't be him. You never will be. You're just a...—

    —… Father… What was I...—

    None of these details—the Masters, the Servants, a Grail or no Grail, their victories and defeats, the who, the why—mattered, except the very last, shortly before they'd arrived yet whose trail had immediately gone cold again: the witch in white, strolling through the grimsly aftermath with her umbrella, humming an old, somber tune…

    "Francesca. How many times do I have to…?" She went quiet, grumbling to herself. "And what did Lord El-Melloi II have to say?" she said after her anger subsided, lifting a hand for her to continue.

    Médée paraphrased. The rituals in Babylon, the Subspecies Grail War in China, their missing representative, Sumire...

    When she finished, the Vice Director crossed her arms. "Yes... But, given the… ambiguity… I want to be prepared for it. There's no telling what might happen… I'll arrange a team to investigate further. Once I have their names I want you to get in contact with them. You'll see them off."

    "Yes, Vice…" She went to bow, then paused. Wait. If she wasn't going with them, then—?

    Upon seeing her face, her mentor's expression darkened. "The last time I let you go off on your own, you ruined the reputation of three of Clock Tower's most prestigious bloodlines. I still have to go through the trouble of replacing them. I'm sending you to China." She held up two fingers. "There are two reasons, and I want you to handle them properly this time."



    "Here you go!"

    A grand total of one book was dropped before her. Its cover was in poor condition, smelling of old parchment and soiled undergarments, scraped and torn. From what she could make out of the title on the binding, it was something having to do with the Holy Wars. Flatt sat down with an exaggerated huff, shaking dust from his hair. Putting his head down on the table, his eyes focused on the stack she'd collected, all relating to the history of the last 70 years regarding the Holy Grail Wars.

    Her brow twitched. How could such a genius mind be in the body of such a fool? She opened the first page of the book. It practically crumbled between her fingertips. Turning through it carefully, from what she could make out, it was something having to do with two kings and a beast in the desert. A story, a fiction, a myth. A scary bedtime story to tell the children at night. In other words, worthless. Trash. She tossed it.

    "Ah! Hey! I wanted to read that when you were done!" Flatt sprang up, chasing after it.

    It was two days since she returned Japan and the finalized list of names of those the Vice Director chose was given to her earlier. First on it was Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri, an utterly spoiled pompous ass even by her standards. That sister of his had been not better. Second, was Professor Lian Chao, one of the few magi of Asian descent present, with presence, in Clock Tower. Though his knowledge of curses and other such macabre subjects was profound , his talents were best suited behind a podium. She couldn't see him surviving the heat. Then, there was that Enforcer, Neil Ancrum. She barely knew anything about the man—or any of those special class rejects, even—save that his record for eliminations is far greater than his number of captures putting forefront along with herself. Last, there was that member of the Church, Kirei Kotomine. She didn't recognize the name, but, the Vice Director requested it personally and approved him.

    She took a book from the stack, opened it, and started reading.

    From what Lord El-Melloi II shared, the Third Grail War ended with it being stolen by the Yggdmillennia family, an annoying bloodline which welcomed lesser magi families into its ranks. They were like cockroaches; everywhere you went. She'd even encountered one in her Holy Grail War, and guessed that ghoul in Tokyo—the same who killed a little girl and fled the scene shrieking like one himself—had been a part of them, too. Her reasoning? No respectable magus would be so cowardly.

    Anyway, there'd been two Grails: the Greater and the Lesser. The one stolen was the Greater one, "The Great Grail", he called it. The Lesser Grail, on the other hand, was destroyed by one of the participants. And of those participants, three survived to see the end. On the last day, Wilhelm Hausler and his Servant, a Rider class, encountered Lancer, mysteriously without its Master. Though they managed to defeat it and destroy the Lesser Grail, it'd all been a distraction for Darnic to get away with the Greater one. The actual Grail. Then, he vanished, and none of these books had any information as to where. The only big clue the magus was still alive were these smaller Holy Grail Wars. "Subspecies Holy Grail Wars", they'd been officially dubbed.

    The original system for the Holy Grail Wars was the collaborative effort between three families: the Einzberns, who created the vessel to hold it; the Tohsakas, responsible for the gathering of the Heroic Spirits, the "Servants"; and finally the Makiris, who provided the Command Spells which allowed the Masters to control the Servants. A total of seven Masters were allowed to participate at any given time, each allowed one Servant for a grand total of fourteen participants. There were seven classes a Servant could be assigned based upon their strengths: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, and Berserker. Also, the number of Servant per class was limited to one.

    In these flawed copycats, this new system, there could be multiple Servants per class. Meaning, she could have summoned two Caster class Servants if she cheated the system. Only, instead of seven, though all seven were possible, five was maximum. Her War had five participants. Lord El-Melloi II's had two. The one she'd wasted time investigating… at least three.

    Of the seven, Saber was viewed as the strongest overall. One of the three knight classes, the other two being Lancer and Archer, they were usually Heroic Spirits who in life and legend were regarded as exceptional melee combatants, commonly with the sword. She'd lost and been humiliated by the Saber summoned during her own War, but, the Holy Grail War in China, Francesca and rumor of a rogue Enforcer with two others in tow… If there was one in this latest War, then...

    —You foolish girl. Once, I desired revenge, too. Do you really think your wish will come true?—

    If there was one thing her Servant—and her Servant's previous Master—had been good for, it was these conceptual tools sometimes left behind by the more powerful ones. Last time, she'd been foolish, but, now, she was prepared.

    She had to succeed, no matter the cost or burden to bear, personal misgivings aside, this time was her chance to really prove it, and, when the day came...

    —Something tells me to be wary of you in the distant future, and should it come to a duel between you and I, know that you are to hold nothing back. As I will unleash everything at you, in turn. Now, go, and take care of this before it grows ever more a nuisance—

    She would have a place in the family. She would seize power.



    That night, her belongings packed, only the necessities, she looked over at her nightstand. Putting the witch's dagger in with the rest of her things, trinket included, Médée was about to make her way out the door and to her flight to the next place her mentor bade where she suspected there would be just more questions than answers instead of what she needed, when there was a knock on her door.

    She stopped. Stood. Listened. Waited.

    At this hour Lord El-Melloi II would be relaxing in his flat playing with himself and belching, fingers rapidly tapping away on some hand-held device in his hands glued to a television screen as she been forced to sit and watch like their first meeting. The start of it all, where she'd been sent on a hunt to Vietnam for sightings of a strange, mysterious spawn of undead creation that was simply just a coven of lesser spirits and the only thing they recovered was some ancient, unresponsive tablet but enough to convince her mentor that he had some value. If word already reached his ears, then the one at the door was his apprentice.

    Letting out a groan, she opened the door, but, instead of Gray, she was greeted by Flatt who smiled brightly.

    "Take me with you and Gray!"

    Her brow furrowed. This was the first time she'd heard that fool's apprentice was coming. Dammit. Just when—

    "I already have my stuff ready!" He turned around, showing off his knapsack. "And my ticket!"

    How did he even…? Nevermind. She grabbed her own stuff and shut her door. Fine, whatever, this changed nothing. Walking down the street, it would take around thirty minutes for them to reach the airport, and she hoped listening to his mouth running a mile a minute was the only headache she'd have to deal with.

    "... Do you even know where I'm going, Flatt?" she asked as they came to a crosswalk. The light was red. She hated London traffic.

    "Nope, but Lord El-Melloi II told me I could if I left him alone!"

    Wonderful. "Let's meet up with Gray then." She should be waiting at the airport, awkwardly standing there. The girl probably hadn't even left it since she returned to London, another assignment already in her, no, both, their laps. No matter the cost or burden to bear…. Next time she was going to choose her words more carefully.

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