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    Paradox Eclipse

    For archival purposes. Was looking for it this morning and took a while.
    Then again tags are gone.


    ----------------------------
    Paradox Eclipse

    — Suddenly, I awake.

    A brief respite in a silent land. It’s so eerily silent that there is no indication that there was ever a great battle here. The mountains of bodies with gashes for tattoos and arrow wounds for love bites have been replaced with verdant mountains while the land that the warhorses trampled into hard clay is once again a sea of green.

    Too quiet… it’s too quiet. Even the wind is too afraid to disturb me or this stillness – like we are in a theater waiting for a play to begin. Or perhaps the play has already started and we are merely a step before and after the performance, the intermission. While those two states might be transcendently different – paradoxical, even – they are both but a brief respite.

    But then again, you could say that about my life as well. While some memories have stagnated, there are still others that glimmer. Even so, I cannot call myself a hopeful person.

    Rather than the all-drowning moonlight of tonight, I prefer a sorrowful all-oppressing darkness that covers the world – me. The moon is too bright tonight; it hangs so low that I could reach out and embrace it. But the moon was never for me. That moon is my hope, something that was finally gained after seventeen years of finally living. The final step one makes after they’ve thrown off the shackles of their youth and the first step when reaching into tomorrow. Yet, here, there is nothing else but the grass and this sharp, white, darkness – so black, it is as if my surroundings have sunk and are drowning in the night sky.

    Even after everything that has happened, it is quiet. Just like it used to be, just like how it will be tomorrow. Those rambunctious, chaotic yesterdays seem like a joke. But actually, if we’re talking about jokes, my life up to that point was more of a joke. The dream of a child that couldn’t be achieved, the sight that a youth couldn’t accept, the uncompromising of a man who had the weight of his own world on his shoulders, and what about the me of now…?

    The things that I fought for. The things that fought back. And the result that was reached.

    With enough time, the amazing turned into the mundane.

    And with some more time, I realized that the mundane was always the amazing.

    I tried to make sure that no two days were the same. But the more I tried, the more I found I couldn’t reach the place I sought or return to the place where I was. I have many regrets. But I still can’t deny my first wish. I have stood between the boundaries of emptiness my entire life. That is what has made me weaker than anyone else, but in turn led me here.

    Even if it wasn’t something that I desired, even if those that who have already passed on can’t be saved – that’s okay.

    I will admit it.

    This world is still beautiful. This life is still worth living.

    There’s a mix of emotion, from the guilt and helplessness of my past, the acceptance of the present, and finally a tiny fragment of hope towards the future.

    Tomorrow doesn’t have to be better than today. But I think it would be very worthwhile if it was. That is why a boundary moves in the first place. I know that now.

    Then again, no matter how worthwhile it might be, I’m sure there will be more than enough headaches ahead…

    —Thud

    I crumple over for a moment, and my head beats loudly.

    The usual dizziness assaults me as I grip the rims of my glasses, waiting for this episode to pass. But even if the dizziness is gone, nausea and the ringing in my ears still remain.

    I tell myself to be still. This is the foregone conclusion, the price that one must pay as long as the continues to see death – those thin lines scrawled all over creation. The owners of Mystic Eyes never live long. Eventually, the eye itself will turn on the owner; after all, as the body ages, the less
    od
    life force
    one has to maintain a pair. So then, if I am the owner of that True Ancestor fairytale, my life must be tragically short.

    Of course, if these were the actual Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, that is.

    The scar on my chest is gone as well. Then, if it is not either, this unbearable fragility must be because of another reason. If a certain dear friend were here, I am sure he would tell me that I’ve only lived this long because of my tenacity – like the curse where a candle continues to burn long after the wick is spent and the wax has melted. The only difference between the two is that hatred maintains that spell while I….

    “How unsightly. It makes me slightly uncomfortable, seeing you like this.”

    -But.

    A somewhat familiar voice.

    “Aozaki, huh.”

    “What do you mean by ‘huh.’ You weren’t expecting someone else, were you?”

    She frowns. I am sure she would be crossing her arms if she wasn’t holding that trunk.

    I shake my head. “If we’re talking about expectations, I wasn’t expecting anyone.”

    She’s changed a lot but at the same time, she hasn’t changed one bit. Actually, considering who she is and what she is capable of, I’m not even sure I’m speaking to an Aozaki that has met me before.

    “I heard that you were in the area. In fact, I thought you would be on your way to stop me.” I decide to be honest with her. “But our paths never crossed so I thought we weren’t going to meet this time.”

    “Stop you? Why would you need to be stopped?” She smiles.

    That might have been a blessing in disguise. If we had met up there’s no knowing what could have happened. Even if I am no longer affiliated with the Association or the Church, the name Aozaki still means trouble.

    But I’m glad.

    I’m really glad that this person is still alive. I’m really glad that I got to meet this person again.

    “I was called here, but it seems whoever caused the mess cleaned up after himself.” She tries to explain. “And well, considering what happened seems to be partially my fault as well, I decided to find the one who started all this as some sort of final follow-up.”

    “You definitely found me.”

    Her scarlet hair flutters about as she turns around to look at the landscape before murmuring, “Yes, I did, didn’t I.”

    Before turning her attention right back to me,

    “Long time no see. You’ve degenerated, Araya.”

    “Yes, it seems you have also strayed from your path, Aozaki Touko.”

    With that, she takes off her glasses and gives me one of her classic looks as if she has seen through me the entire time. We sit down and start to talk just like we did when we were classmates.

    We endlessly talk about things like how I tried to construct an apartment complex, what happened to Cornelius, how she got her Sealing Designation pardoned and how the pardon was revoked – senseless things that have no meaning to anyone other than ourselves.

    Finally, we talk a little about what happened here and how I became like this.

    “I knew you had bad taste Araya, but this takes the cake.” The edge in her voice is far more on the side of distaste than disapproval. “So, you’re saying you met a kid who was injured in a car accident and you took over his body.”

    I wouldn’t say that I took over his body – it’s much more complicated than that. Normally, I would correct the person talking, but I know that Aozaki knows what I truly mean; she’s just simplifying her words so we can continue our conversation without going into technicalities.

    “But Araya,” she looks at me, meaningful and concerned, “if you successfully transplanted those eyes…”

    Rail Zepplin
    Mystic Eye Collection Train
    .”

    She looks at me dangerously, “You kidnapped a child and went to Rozay-en for help? No, of course you did, you’re living proof that you did.” There’s enough tension to cut the moon. I half expect her to kill me on the spot, but in true Aozaki fashion, she shrugs her shoulders and that clears up the air between us. “I shouldn’t disparage you for that. That’s what any other magus would do if they had a pair of rainbow ranked mystic eyes in their grasp.”

    “These aren’t the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception.”

    Aozaki barks a short laugh. “You’re the only one would think like that. Regardless of what they were before, as long as the function is the same, you may as well call them by the same name. Or do you not want others calling you ‘Balor?’”

    “This isn’t like calling Dagda’s Cauldron a Holy Grail, Aozaki. You know full well.”

    She raises an eyebrow while murmuring about how she’s surprised that I made such a European reference. But we both know what I am getting at; the owner of these eyes was not someone born with the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. Instead, he had the ability to see things that one normally cannot see – Pure Eyes. Going through a near-death accident meant seeing and understanding the form of death itself, while at the same time forming a connection with the Swirl of Origin – the goal of every magus.

    Aozaki doesn’t say anything about that, though. That’s what sets her apart from other magi. She knows that I couldn’t reach the origin with that alone, that’s why I had to go to the
    Rail Zepplin
    Mystic Eye Collection Train
    .

    “If the body was connected to Ymir’s entrance, you wouldn’t need to implant the eyes. Implanting the eyes is too risky in the first place, anyway. You would just need to take over the body. But what you did was much more serious, Araya. Using that boy like one of your spare bodies, you didn’t just take over his mind –“

    “Yes, if Mystic Eyes are merely traits that one obtains, independent magic circuits that express a certain phenotype, then these Pure Eyes are the inheritance of a karma, the very destiny of this child. Only the tuners in Rozay-en’s train can accomplish something like that.”

    Not just the transmission of a pair of eyes, but also a fate, a mission. Actually, it’s more than that, it’s a promise, a wish passed down from parent to child.

    “Surgery with only an infinitesimal chance of succeeding. Araya… you….” She stops herself. “So then, how does it feel, being connected to what you wished for.”

    “Utterly infuriating. It is like being to see through a peephole but never being able to open the door to step through.”

    To see the world like Godo Word does and being unable to reach the outside of the World, again in the same fashion as him – that is why I attempted that. Of course, there were a lot of other factors like the arrival of the Princess of True Ancestors and the advent of the Six Royalties while the situation at “home” also deteriorated as I found it harder and harder to stay myself. In the end, it was only because of my origin that I was able to still myself within this body.

    That is correct, even to the bitter end I was able to stay myself…

    “Do you really think that, Araya?”

    I must have unintentionally said it out loud or this face was too obvious.

    “Like some sort of changeling, you took a child’s place. But we can’t even call you a changeling because you took that child’s fate as well. Even a pond where ripples cannot form can be changed if a drop of color is added.”

    Aozaki pauses for a second before continuing, “You threw away your old self for a body that could collapse at any time and an uncertain future. All of that was to obtain a pair of Mystic Eyes that you learned couldn’t even help you make your way to your goal. No matter your tenacity, no matter how stubborn, or how much you wish for true knowledge, you must have started hating yourself.”

    She stops and narrows her eyes at me.

    “No, you definitely did. Otherwise, all this wouldn’t have happened. So, then Araya, why did you stop? All reports say you were one step away from the Spiral of Origin, yet you turned back. I didn’t take you as the same type as my sister.”

    She’s right. Manipulating certain events until the conditions were perfect and then being able to dispatch the Counter Guardian that came through the hole, my dream was right in front of me. Yet in that moment… in that very moment… I….

    I looked forward, at the end of the world. At the salvation of those who could not be saved.

    I looked backward, at the deaths of those who became precious to me. Those I had trampled in my quest to save them.

    And finally I heard the voice a nine-year-old boy for the first time in ten years.

    The world is full of death. Every body, molecule, chair has death scrawled on it. Yet humanity… no, yet humans still live and try their best to flourish in this world. Slightly ignorant, slightly scared, slightly accepting, these ugly, ugly humans live to their fullest.

    Saving those who couldn’t be saved is only self-satisfaction – self-satisfaction of the highest order. But I can’t deny that it’s still a beautiful goal. To undo this paradoxical spiral of a world and deliver meaning; there is nothing wrong with that.

    Even so… even so… when facing this overwhelming, all-consuming scrawled death, we make our own meaning. That’s right, meaning is created, it cannot be forced upon someone else.

    That was the moment I degenerated.

    How arrogant is it, trying to extinguish the meaning that gives meaning, meaning? That is the truth behind these lines and dots.

    It is okay if I do nothing. It’s okay if people can’t be saved.

    It might crush me that there are those out there who might never be saved by anyone. It might feel like my soul is being ripped out when I know that there isn’t a person who will mourn them.

    But that’s okay, that’s fine.

    We all live in-between the emptiest boundaries of all creation – these lines. We do our best to live in a world that is so fragile that a single cut can unraveled anything and everything. But a boundary is only a boundary. We are the ones who can define what is inside.

    Even for those who haven’t been saved.

    Even for those who will never be mourned.

    So…

    “I stopped because I found something more important than true wisdom.”

    That should have made her gasp, but an understanding smile is all that I will get out of her. Too late, I’m too late in figuring that one out. It must have been something she realized an eon ago.

    “Araya, what was his name? Actually, what is the name you’re going by right now?”

    His name. The person that I usurped and used, yet still believed in me right to the end. His name is…

    “-Shiki, Tohno Shiki.”

    She delightedly laughs at that.

    “Too fitting. That’s too fitting, like some kind of cosmic joke.”

    I just nod as she wipes away tears from laughing too much. There’s no need to explain the joke. I think we will just leave that as it is.

    Mundane coincidences pile up and create miracles that can never be formed again; this is just one of those. Two old friends finding themselves in the same place. Two old classmates who promised to hurriedly run through two separate paths, meeting in the middle rather than the end. And of course, both having degenerated. Both realizing the worthlessness and baseness of the world. Both knowing that no matter how special they may seem to others, something like being special never held any meaning.

    Aozaki pushes herself off the grass and takes her trunk with her while mouthing that will we see each other later if we do.

    I just lie there and watch her leave. I am satisfied with this ending; I have said everything that I wanted to say, so even if I never see her again, I think that will be okay.

    The clearing is silent and the grass doesn’t even sway as she moves further and further away – like the magic lantern projection that she’s so fond of. But I know that she will turn back because there’s one thing she hasn’t asked yet.

    A line of untested apprentices standing in the office of a great Lord comes flowing back to my mind. She turns to each one and asks them a simple question and they all give the exact same answer. All of them except –

    Aozaki turns back towards me; her face is framed by the moonlight.

    “Araya, what do you seek?”

    “To deliver my thanks.”

    Thank you, Aozaki.

    “Araya, where do you seek it?”

    “For all those I have met.”

    You remembered this battlefield was where Araya Souren was born.

    “Araya, where is your goal?”

    “ – Isn’t it obvious? The dawn after this paradoxical eclipse.”

    So, it should come to no surprise that this is the same place where Araya-Shiki arrived.
    Though abandoned, forgotten, and scorned as out-of-date dolls, they continue to carry out their mission, unchanged from the time they were designed.
    Machines do not lose their worth when a newer model appears.
    Their worth (life) ends when humans can no longer bear that purity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ticeexcenny
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  2. #2
    Don't @ me if your fanfic doesn't even have Shirou/Illya shipping k thnx ItsaRandomUsername's Avatar
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    Like I said before, it was cool beans, being able to beta this. Definitely a pleasant surprise, and neat enough to compel from start to finish. Thanks.
    McJon01: We all know that the real reason Archer would lose to Rider is because the events of his own Holy Grail War left him with a particular weakness toward "older sister" types.
    My Fanfics. Read 'em. Or not.



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