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Thread: [Quest] Lostbelt Raising Project

  1. #501
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    Location: Bianca’s Mansion, Fairyland


    I try to calm myself as I search for the words to say. I need to think carefully about what I want to tell her.

    Normal reasoning and common sense won’t work on Bianca. Things that would be obvious to any other person are alien concepts for her. In her mind, things like ethics and morality are non-issues. She simply doesn’t think such things apply to her, because of how special she is. Therefore, no matter how much I argue it, the idea that she’s doing something bad has no effect on her.

    In that case, I have to reword my approach in a way that can get through her thick skull. If she only cares about herself, I have to make her think about the topic in terms of her self.

    “Bianca, have you ever considered what it would be like to be mind controlled?” I finally ask her.

    “Huh?” She responds with a tilt of her head.

    “For example, what if I used my power on you right here, right now? What if I used Mind Break to make you do whatever I want regardless of your own will or desire? How would you feel about that?” I interrogate firmly.

    “Hm? Well…” Bianca begins to ponder.

    Bringing her hand to her chin, she makes a pensive expression as the gears in her head visibly start turning. It seems that she’s taking the question rather seriously.

    I’m sure it’s a question she has never thought much about in the past. For her who considers herself the only player in the world, the idea that the tables could be turned on her must be foreign to her. That’s exactly why I need to make her properly think about it and put herself in the shoes of others.

    “Hmmm, I’m not sure.” Bianca finally answered after her brief moment of thought. “I don’t really know how I would feel. I mean… that’s not up to me, right?”

    “Eh? What do you mean?”

    “In that scenario, you’re the one who would decide how I would feel. That’s the whole point of our abilities, isn’t it? So, whether I like it or not depends on what setting you’d input.” She calmly states.

    Well… she’s not wrong.

    “No, no, that’s not the point.” I shake my head emphatically. “I mean, how would the current you feel about being mind-controlled? About having your free will stripped away and having your mind violated by someone else? Doesn’t that thought scare you?”

    “Hmm, I don’t really like thinking like that. I think it’s just unnecessarily stressful to get worked up over that kind of stuff.” Bianca remarks nonchalantly.

    “Over mind control?” I ask, surprised at her thoughts.

    “No, just the future in general. I feel like it’s no good to get anxious about uncertainties, so I try not to think about it too much.” Bianca explains. “Besides, what’s more important is how you feel afterwards, not how you feel before, right? Like, everyone’s scared about going to the dentist beforehand, but then they feel good about it after since their teeth don’t hurt anymore. We don’t say that going to the dentist is bad just because we’re scared of it, do we?”

    Giving a blasé expression, Bianca pulls up her chin haughtily.

    “I guess that’s how they’re programmed, but NPCs sure seem to like worrying all the time. Personally, I think getting all anxious over things you can’t control is silly. If you start caring about stuff like that, you’ll never be able to enjoy the moment.” She states.

    “So what? Are you saying you aren’t scared of being brainwashed?” I ask her directly.

    “Hm? No, not really.” She just shrugs. “I don’t really care.”

    I’m astonished.

    I was certain that playing towards her own potential fear would help Bianca start to put herself in other people’s shoes, but I hadn’t expected the chance that she would be so apathetic to it.

    “W-why?” I question in a quiver voice. “Why does it not bother you? It’s mind control, you know. Brainwashing. You’ll lose all semblance of free will. You won’t even be you anymore. The you that’s here right now will cease to exist. It might as well be death!”

    “Yeah, I don’t mind. You’re free to go ahead if you want.” She bluntly replies.

    My shock and disbelief become immeasurable. Bianca has far surpassed my expectations.

    “Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Nothing really matters. Living, dying, free will or not, it’s all the same. As long as I’m having fun, I don’t really care.” She says, almost sighing, with blank, lifeless eyes that have lost all their light.

    “You… aren’t even afraid of death?” I gape at her incredulous statements.

    “Nah, not really. I’m not like normal people after all. Stuff like regrets or lack of fulfillment are for those who aren’t competent enough to do whatever they want. But I’ve already gotten everything I could ever want so many times over that it makes me yawn. So, I don’t really care if I were to die right now.” She explains in a somber tone. “Well, actually dying seems like it’d hurt a lot, so that’s a minus, but it doesn’t sound like Mind Break is painful, so whatever.”

    I see. I now understand what’s up with this stupid girl.

    Bianca Chrome has no fear. All her life, everything has always gone her way. No one has ever told her no and nothing has ever gone against her plans. That’s why she has no sense of anxiety. Since everyone does as she pleases, there are no uncertainties and there’s nothing to be scared of. That’s why the idea of fretting about the future feels alien to her.

    Bianca has never needed to think about the future since she always knew that things would work out however she wanted. She only has to live in the moment, indulging in physical sensations through instant gratification. That way, every day is utterly perfect and the happiest day of her life. There will never be a sadder day and there will never be a happier day. Since she already has anything and everything she could ever want, there’s nothing for her to work towards, nothing for her to regret when she dies and… nothing for her to live for.

    That’s… kind of sad.

    “Ah, we kind of got off track there, Ben. What were we talking about? Oh, right, you were complaining about how I use my powers.” Bianca continues with no regard for my stunned state. “Honestly, I still don’t get why you’re so huffy about it. Caring about silly stuff like right or wrong is beneath us. We’re the players so we don’t need to involve ourselves with NPC matters like morality. There’s nothing to threaten us so there’s nothing to worry about. Isn’t that great? You can live a life without any stress or anxiety if you’d just stop beating yourself up, Ben.”

    “… yeah, you’re probably right.” I sigh heavily.

    “Oh?” Bianca perks up, raising a brow. “You actually agree? Have you finally come to your senses?”

    “Even I know that I’m missing out on a lot in life. I have no friends, I have no hobbies, I have no treasured memories. When I reflect, I realize how few times I’ve genuinely had fun or smiled before in my entire life. I’m sure if I could just loosen up like you, I’d be a lot happier.” I admit reluctantly.

    “So, you do get it! That’s great, Ben!” Bianca eagerly beams, clapping her hands together.

    Her eyes light up with hope washing away all of the previous dull, lifelessness as if a single word could part the clouds in her mind. In sharp contrast, though, I feel more miserable than ever as I hang my head in shame.

    The truth is, she’s not entirely wrong. Most humans are naturally cooperative and empathetic. Only by working together and supporting each other can they become greater than their sum and manage to survive and thrive in this world. And from that bond, love and justice are able to be born. One could say that such things are a necessity for the continued existence of humanity. But what if such things are not necessary. What if someone can thrive on their own not through the support of others but by manipulating them? Does that person need to care about good and evil? Does that person need to care about the people they control anymore than the animals they eat? Probably not.

    If such a person exist, they would surely possess a peace of mind that few other people can ever obtain. In a sense, one could even say that they would reach be removed from all human concerns and reach a type of enlightenment. Such an existence would surely be far happier than any other human life. Such an existence would only be natural for such a person.


    “But, I can’t.”

    “… Huh?”

    The moment the words leave my mouth, Bianca’s smile fades just as quickly as it appeared.

    Quietly and slowly, I lift my head and meet her eyes.

    “You see, Bianca… I’m a coward.” I confess to her. “I can’t be like you. I’m just too much of a scaredy-cat.”

    “Wh-what are you talking about, Ben? You’re a Player too so you don’t have to—” Bianca stammers.

    “But I do. I get scared really easily. I worry about all the most pointless things and I always feel anxious. Whenever I talk to someone, I fret over what to say and how I look. When there’s something important happening the next day, I can barely sleep at night as I think about all the ways that things can go wrong. I’m scared of dying. I’m scared of the future. I’m scared of other people. There’s no end to the things that frighten me.” I tell her, clutching my chest as the contents of my heart spill out.

    A familiar pit in my stomach churns as it always does, winding up my body until I feel like a shriveled up, quivering mess.

    “But y’know, more than any of that, I’m scared of myself. I’m scared of what I might do and who I might become. I don’t want to be monster. I don’t want other people to think of me as a monster. I don’t want to accept that I am a monster.” I say, digging my nails deeper into my chest as if to draw blood from my heart. “To you, that might be stupid, but I can’t help but be afraid of my own reflection. For the past ten years of my life, there has been nothing I’ve been more scared of and hated more than myself.”

    I pause for a second and bit my lip, as if holding back something shaking withing me.

    “But recently… that changed. For the first time, there’s something else that frightens me even more than my own shadow. No, it frightens me because it’s no different from my own shadow.”

    I take a final sigh and force out my final words towards the specter staring across from me with lifeless eyes.

    “Bianca, you scare me.” I sincerely admit. “I’m afraid of you. That’s why I can’t be like you.”

    That’s all I could say to her. Even if she doesn’t fear herself and other people can’t fear her, I alone am still afraid of her. I alone can see what kind of monster she is. If no one else will hate her, then I’ll hate her enough for everyone.

    If she is the way she is now because she has never encountered conflict, never known fear, and never questioned herself, then I’ll give her enough trouble, anxiety, and doubt to smack that arrogance out of her.


    Bianca is silent.

    After my declaration, she froze up and has remained standing still, stiff as a board. Her arms dangle limply by her side and her eyes lose all their light. At that moment, she looked no different from a hollow doll, devoid of all life.

    And then, so quietly as to be nearly inaudible, she murmurs.

    “… I thought you would understand.”

    Before I can even react, she starts sprinting away, rushing out of the bedroom and slamming the door behind her. The last thing I see as she passes by me are the slight traces of tears beginning to well up in her eyes.

    After the door closes, I hear the slightly distant sound of the adjacent door to Bianca’s room violently opening and closing as well. In the end, I’m left all alone in the room once more.

    Reflecting on everything that had just happened, I slowly saunter back to my own bed and collapse onto it, feeling exhausted. Not wanting to bother myself with that whole ordeal anymore, only a single thought remains in my mind.

    “… who the hell would want to understand you?”

  2. #502
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    Location: Bianca’s Mansion, Fairyland

    “… can’t sleep.”

    Before I know it, it’s night and I’m lying in bad unable to pass out.

    After my altercation with Bianca earlier in the day, I ended up spending the rest of the day in the room. Even though I probably have a lot of things I should be doing, I just wasn’t in the mood. Mostly though, I didn’t want to run into Bianca, so I hid away in my little hole.

    When I peaked outside for a bit, I found a tray of food for dinner outside my door, but other than that, I spent the whole day mulling in bed and musing over all sorts of stuff. Maybe that’s why, when night came, I didn’t feel sleepy at all.

    “… maybe some fresh air would help.”

    Feeling whatever the opposite of refreshed is, I pop open the window of the room and let in the cool outside air into the room. Almost immediately, the atmosphere within changes, feeling slightly less gloomy than before. The breeze feels just right and the scenery from the window is as beautiful as ever, even at night. At this angle of the house, I can’t see the lake, but the forest lit up with strange, ephemeral lights is no less fantastical.

    It’s honestly amazing. How could such a peaceful place cause me so much strife? Despite its vast expanses of nature, this place feels even more suffocating than the cramped cities of Yao. It’s history’s most luxurious prison.

    “Hm? What’s that sound?” I suddenly wonder as I hear something on the wind.

    It kind of sounds like some sort of grunting or shouting. But looking around, I don’t see the source of it; it must be coming from the lakeside.

    This late at night, I thought everyone would be asleep, so I can’t imagine what could possibly be making that noise. It kind of makes me curious.

    I could just ignore it, but I honestly don’t have anything better to do and I don’t think I’ll run into Bianca, so I decide to check it out.

    Year: 2018
    Location: Hallow Lake, Fairyland

    “Oh, so it’s you two. What are you doing so late?”

    After quietly sneaking through the sleeping mansion, I sauntered out the front door to find a certain pair of Servants out in front of the lake.

    “Hm? Oh, if it isn’t Lord Bengshan? What are you doing out here?” Saber greets me as he notices my presence, putting down the sword in his hands.

    “Oh. Hi there.” Scylla coolly adds with her usual blasé expression.

    For some reason, the two of them were loitering outside the house, despite it being way past bedtime.

    When I first came out to peek, before I called out to them, I had caught a shirtless Saber diligently swinging his sword through the air over and over again, while Scylla watched unenthusiastically on the sideline. Though I could tell what they were doing, the sight still confused me somewhat.

    “Sorry for interrupting. I just heard some noise outside, so I came to check what it was.” I answer as I casually stroll up to them. “I guess that must’ve been your grunting.”

    “I’m sorry, did I wake you up? My sincerest apologies, Lord Bengshan.” Saber immediately apologized with a genuinely remorseful look. With that expression, he sort of gives off the same aura as a sulking puppy.

    “Nah, it’s okay. I couldn’t sleep anyways, which is why I ended up hearing you. But what are you exactly are you doing anyways?” I ask, still feeling in the dark.

    “Oh, just some practice swings. I tend to milady all day, so I try to get in my training at night when she’s asleep.” Saber answers.

    “Training? Even though you’re Servant?” I question in surprise.

    “Yes. It might not have any physical effects, but it helps keep my mind sharp. A single day of idleness will rust even the sharpest blade.” Saber announces proudly. “Well, it’s also just a little habit of mine. I get antsy if I don’t sweat a little for an extended period of time.”

    “So, you do this every day?” I wonder.

    “You bet he does.” Scylla suddenly chimes in with a sour tone. “Hmph. It’s one thing to swing his monkey stick around, but he has to do it by my lake. Not a night of peace and quiet since I got here.”

    “My apologies, Berserker. But, for the sake of our Master’s security, I can’t stray too far from the mansion. This is the only place where I can move around freely.” Saber says in a smooth and suave voice befitting a prince. “I greatly appreciate you allowing me to borrow your territory. Thank you, Berserker.”

    “Eh, w-well…” Scylla suddenly stammers, her face turning slightly red, before she swiftly looks away. “Hmph, whatever. It’s not like you’re in my water so do whatever you want, monkey.”

    Well, I guess these two are somewhat close. I didn’t really pick up on it earlier since they didn’t interact much during the whole swimming thing, but I guess they must be friendly if they’re spending every night together like this.

    “By the way, Lord Bengshan, I was hoping to speak with you.” Saber addresses me in a more serious tone. “Did something happen between you and Lady Bianca? I thought you two would be sending the day together in your room, but she suddenly stormed out and shut herself in her own room for the rest of the day. She didn’t even come out for dinner and had it delivered instead. I can’t help but be worried.”

    “That’s… it’s nothing really.” I answer hesitantly, making it obvious how little I wanted to talk about it.

    “What? Did you accidently forget to pull out and made her angry?” Scylla suddenly asks.

    “E-eh? N-no, of course not! Nothing like that happened.” I shout back.

    “Berserker! Please refrain from speaking of such inappropriate topics.” Saber swiftly commands in a rare harsh tone.

    “What? What else was I supposed to think those two were doing alone in a room together all day long?” Scylla protests, throwing up her hands.

    “It does not matter what you think, but saying such things besmirch milady’s name and honor. What happens in her chambers are to stay in her chambers.” Saber scolds.

    “Hmph. Fine.” Scylla pouts.

    “Geez…” I mumble to myself, still feeling embarrassed.

    Now that Scylla brought up the subject, I’m suddenly remembering the dream I had last night and it’s making me feel awkward in her presence.

    Well, then again, considering how casual she’s being, that must confirm that it was a dream after all… right?

    “I apologize for her rudeness, Lord Bengshan.” Saber says softly. “Still though, did nothing really happen between you two? I do not mean to probe, but I would like to know for milady’s sake.”

    “… it’s nothing much. We just… had a little disagreement. That’s all.” I decide to say, leaving out the details.

    “I see. I suppose such things do happen, though I have personally never seen Lady Bianca argue with anyone.” Saber accepts with a nod.

    Well, of course he’s never seen it. Everyone else automatically agrees with her.

    “Still, Lord Bengshan. I know it might be difficult for you, but I do hope you two can reconcile soon. It pains me to see my Master in such low spirits.” Saber gently asserts. “This may sound like outside meddling, but when you get to a certain age, you come to realize that there are few things in the world truly worth breaking a close friendship over.”

    “I guess I’ll keep that in mind…” I respond unenthusiastically.

    The mere thought of “reconciling” with Bianca repulses me too much to even act nice about it.

    “Hahaha.” For some reason though, Saber chuckles at my reaction. Then, he quickly straightens himself up and flashes me a bright, casual smile. “My apologies, Lord Bengshan, but would you mind sparing me a moment of your time?”

    “Hm? Well, I have nothing better to do, so sure.” I shrug and accept.

    “Then, why don’t you take a seat? I don’t intend to take up a lot of your time, but you should make yourself comfortable.” He offers politely.

    “Then don’t mind if I do.” I nod and quickly settle myself down on a comfy-looking rock in the clearing.

    While I made myself comfortably, Saber swiftly towels off his sweat and puts his shirt back on, though leaving the full armor plating off. Once he was ready, he plops down on the grass in front of me, seemingly caring little about getting his trousers dirty.

    For some reason, even though not much has changed about him, his demeanor suddenly feels much less… stiff. Rather than a prim and proper butler, the aura emanating from the man in front of me feels a lot more down-to-earth and casual, like a friendly guy that you would run into at a pub or something.

    “So, truth be told, I’ve actually been meaning to talk to you for a while now, Bengshan.” He suddenly admits with a broad smile.

    “Huh? Really?” I gasp, shocked.

    “Well, Lady Bianca talks about you all the time, so I naturally grew curious.” He explains vivaciously. “But more than anything else, I heard from her that you wanted to become a hero.”

    “Th-that’s…” I quickly hide my face, feeling rather embarrassed. “Sh-she told you that?”

    “Yeah. She told me that you became a Master because you wanted to be a hero and help save the world. Something like that.” Saber affirms.

    I blush and wonder how Bianca knew that. I don’t remember telling her or any of the Crypters my reasons for joining Chaldea.

    I wanted to become a hero. Or rather, I wanted people to treat me like some sort of hero. I was tired of feeling like a monster, so I wanted other people to start praising me, and paying attention to me, and liking me. That’s why I signed up to “help save the world” and what not. Though nowadays, that feels like decades ago.

    But I still don’t know how Bianca could know that. The director sort of knew but… oh, wait, that’s right. Bianca said she took a look at my files. That’s probably where she found out.

    “S-so, what? What about that did you want to talk about?” I ask Saber after regaining myself.

    “Hmm, nothing much really. I just felt like talking to you, hahaha.” Saber merrily shrugs. “You see, I too want to become a hero.”

    “Huh? You want to be a hero? Aren’t you already a hero?” I ask, tilting my head in confusion.

    “Oh, right, I guess I am. Oopsies!” Saber laughs. “Right, what I meant was that I always wanted to be a hero, more than anything else in the world. So, when I heard you wanted to be one too, I felt like talking to you.”

    “Is that so?” I reply blankly, not really sure how to react.

    “Y’see, when I was kid, I always admired those stories of chivalry and adventure, especially those of the Round Table. I would imagine myself becoming a knight and fighting alongside legends like Arthur or Lancelot or Gawain.” Saber cheers with all the excitement of a 10-year old boy, before playfully sighing in a half-somber tone. “But, unfortunately, I guess I was born too late. Knights weren’t really a thing anymore by my era and stuff like dragons or giants had disappeared a long, long time ago. That kind of bummed me out.”

    “But in the end, you managed to become a Heroic Spirit, didn’t you?” I point out.

    “Yup, I managed to make it. I guess you could say my lifelong dream came true at the very end.” Saber grins. “But well, I guess that’s why I felt a connection with you. As someone who made it, I feel like I have to help you reach your dream too. Y’know, passing it forward.”

    “Well… thanks, I guess.” I half-heartedly bow.

    I’m really not sure how to feel. Maybe because this is coming out of nowhere, I feel a bit awkward talking about these things with Saber.

    “So, tell me, Bengshan. What kind of hero are trying to become?” Saber suddenly asks.

    “Huh? Wh-what kind?” I squeak.

    “Yeah, what sort of hero do you want to be? Or rather, what does a hero mean to you?” He affirms eagerly.

    “Th-that’s… um, I haven’t really thought about that…” I admit anxiously.

    “Oh?” Saber expresses a little surprise. “Well, no matter. If it’s something you want, there’s a reason for it. I’m sure if you just think a little now, you can find the answer easily.”


    As he suggests, I find myself contemplating the question.

    All this time, I’ve sort of vaguely wanted to become a hero but… what exactly did that mean to me? What exactly did I want out of myself?

    What kind of hero do I want to become?

    After another heated argument with Bianca, you find yourself having a chat with Saber and bonding over your shared desire for heroic status. Through it, he asks you want being a hero means to you.

    What is your answer?

    1. Someone who always does the right thing.
    2. Someone who helps and protects others.
    3. Someone who punishes evil and wrongdoings.
    4. Someone everyone likes and accepts.
    5. Still don’t know
    6. Write-In

  3. #503
    吸血鬼 Vampire BnEl15's Avatar
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    2. On another note, I still have no idea on who Saber is, but he seems surprisingly recent (relatively speaking, at least).
    Feel free to look at my Servant sheets here (Now 100% fixed and viewable)

  4. #504
    屍食鬼 Ghoul Theadier's Avatar
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    4. Someone everyone likes and accepts.
    Saber could be anyone

  5. #505
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    6. Write-In:​ Someone who challenges and corrects.

    Camille's not certain what is really "right." He's extremely limited to what he can do to protect (not to mention his reluctance to use Mind Break). Not to mention his reluctance to judge what is "evil" especially what he had done, and that his personality is not very much of the "Accepting" type.

    But throughout the Quest, Camille has refuted and questioned the motivations/approaches of others, and does his best to return/compromise things back to the way it is - - be it through Rider and her Gang or learning more of Alisha from Starkad....

    Effectively returning things to closest to a "Status Quo," a form of arbiter so to speak; a return to a peace he can live with, one where he's not longer a monster. And in this way, Camille can protect those he cares for.

    And in a sense, reflects the nature of ESP being a form of Alaya's influence - - making Camille an agent of humanity's interest, and in this case, Yao's interests.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
    Now Revamped!

  6. #506
    Sleepy's 6.

  7. #507
    吸血鬼 Vampire Wyvern's Avatar
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    I'll also vote for Sleepy's 6

  8. #508
    I'm going with Sleepy's 6​ as well.

  9. #509
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Sleepy's 6!
    My fanfics:
    The Gift (F/SN): The last duel between Cú Chulainn and Scáthach.
    Passion Acknowledged (F/SN): Shinji X Shirou lemon
    He Was a Good King (F/SN): Was Beowulf a good king?
    A Fairy Tale of Love and Death (F/SN): A meeting between Scáthach and King Hassan.
    Palingenetic Descension (Tsukihime): The origin of the Tohno family's hybrid nature.

  10. #510
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    Sleepy's 6 as well

  11. #511
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    Location: Hallow Lake, Fairyland

    The hero I envision. The hero I wanted to become.

    Resting my head on my arm, I contemplate in silence for half a minute before finding an answer.

    “If I were to put it to words… I suppose it’d be someone who challenges and corrects.” I declare hesitantly.

    “Challenges and corrects?” Saber repeats in a curious voice.

    “Yeah. Like someone who is able to go against bad or dangerous people. Something like that.” I explain timidly.

    “Oh? What kind of bad people?” Saber keenly questions.

    “Well… maybe someone who’s so powerful that no one else can oppose them.” I answer. “If someone was truly all powerful, then they wouldn’t care about other people, right? With their overwhelming power, they would have absolute freedom to do as they please with no regard for the wellbeing or freedoms of other people. So, I think a hero would be someone who was able to stand up to these kinds of villains that no one else can oppose.”

    “Hmm, I see.” Saber nodded along sagely, before making a slightly humored expression. “That’s not very glamorous, is it?”

    “Ah, well… you’re not wrong.” I laugh awkwardly.

    Now that I think about it, it’s not a very cool way of putting it. Rather than some sort of badass warrior in shining armor or a caped crusader in spandex, the way I said it makes me think more of like a hall monitor who yells at people for running in the halls. It sounds like a very passive or wishy-washy type of hero.

    “Hmm, how about, if you’re going to stand up to bad guys, you can bold and say that you’ll defeat them? Like, ‘I’ll be a hero who can defeat any villain!’, or something along those lines?” Saber suggests with a fiery spirit, his eyes burning with

    “Uhhh, well, that does certainly sound cool. But I’m not too sure about it…” I respond uneasily.

    “Huh, why not?” Saber gasps.

    “Well… I mean, if there’s someone that’s so strong that he can defeat any villain, then wouldn’t he be so strong that he can also defeat anyone else? If he’s that strong, what’s stopping him from doing whatever he wants, either? In that sense, he’d be no different from the villains.” I explain unconfidently.

    “But he’s a hero, isn’t he? Even if he’s strong, he’s a hero so wouldn’t he not use his power for bad things?” Saber points out.

    “I-I know. It’s just that… well, it still doesn’t feel right to me. I mean, just because someone’s a hero, is it really right for them to have that much power? There are a lot of people who think they’re good people and end up doing bad things. But I don’t think such people can be called heroes.” I argue while anxiously scratching my neck.

    “Ehhhhh…” Saber utters doubtfully, seemingly having trouble following my logic.

    Well, I can’t blame him for being put off. I might be taking this simple question a bit too seriously. In the end, we’re just talking about dreams and ideals, so bringing in pointless objections doesn’t really matter.

    But even so, I just can’t find it in myself to back down on this point.

    “Besides… I don’t think defeating the bad guys is necessary…” I add quietly, as if ashamed.

    “How so?” Saber asks, picking up on my mumble.

    “… I mean… yeah, it’d be cool to defeat the bad guy when no one else can, but… even if they can’t defeat them, I think just challenging them is amazing. Regardless of their own power or ability, if someone is able to oppose an unchecked power and stand for what is right… that person is already a hero to me.” I state solemnly.

    Sometimes that’s all that is needed. An omnipotent power that is left unchecked will never change. But even a single voice has the potential to correct that. To me, that one voice is more heroic that any fantastical power.

    “… that’s pretty stupid.”

    Suddenly, Scylla chimes in, after having been listening from the sidelines the whole time.

    “E-eh? Y-you think so?” I respond meekly, both surprised by her inclusion and a bit off-put by her statement.

    “If you’re going to go out of the way to play hero, shouldn’t you be more concerned with actually doing good? From what I can see, you seem to be saying that just trying hard to do something is enough and the actual result isn’t important. But then, no one gets saved in that case.” Scylla remarks harshly.

    “Hmm… well, you may have a point.” I admit awkwardly.

    When you boil it down, the hero I envision is indeed a very passive one: a hero who is defined by his reaction to others rather than the good he does for the world. There’s very little practical application, ambition, or inspiration to it. That kind of hero doesn’t save anyone or make anyone happier; at best it only resets things to how they used to be. You could say that it’s something more like a counter hero or a rival to the bad guy.

    From an outsider’s view, it’s obvious that I’m more focused on the villain rather than the victims… almost as if the hero exists for the villain’s sake…

    “Even so, if there’s someone going around unchallenged, someone has to stand up to them. I think the people who do deserve to be called heroes.” I rebut earnestly.

    “Then, what? Heroes are just obstacles to anyone who grows too big for their britches? Doesn’t sound very heroic to me.” Scylla scoffs. “Seems to me that your gilded hero doesn’t do much except keep people in their little goody two-shoes boxes and making sure nothing ever changes.”

    What is she talking about? That’s not what I want… but I’m not sure how to tell her that.

    “Then, might I ask what your idea of a hero is, Berserker? I’d be curious about your view as well.” Saber asks casually.

    “Like I care. From my experience, those so-called heroes were all nothing more than glory-seeking monkeys. I mean, there they were telling tall tales of their trials, but not a single one had what it took to stand up to me. How pathetic.” Scylla snarks.

    “Ahaha, that’s certainly an opinion that only a legendary monster would have.” Saber chuckles heartily. “I guess for you, heroes were the worst type of people, weren’t they?”

    “More or less.” Scylla shrugs. “But even I have to acknowledge one thing. Every one of the heroes I fought and devoured had at least one thing in common: they had something they wanted to accomplish and the backbone to try. They were all selfish assholes that would do anything to reach their goals, even stupidly picking a fight with me. In other words, they had ambition. But I don’t sense even a fraction of that spirit in our boy’s little ideals.”

    “… I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can agree with you. Perhaps it’s a difference in opinion, but the idea of a selfish hero doesn’t sit right with me. I just don’t think someone who only cares about their own desires and disregards the thoughts of others can be called a hero. In fact, I think they’re closer to being villains.” I argue, frowning slightly.

    “Then, what you’re asking for isn’t a hero, but a martyr. You can’t expect anything consequential to get done without wanting it to be done. That’s just too unrealistic.” Scylla remarks.

    “Wh-what’s wrong with that? If we’re talking about ideals, isn’t it fine to be unrealistic?” I retort. “Isn’t it only natural to admire a selfless hero over a selfish one?”

    “As an ideal maybe, but you’re talking about your own goal, aren’t you? This is the kind of hero you want to become. Then do you really think you can practically live up to it? How do you plan to do good if you don’t even want to do good? Are you going to live your life only opposing people you think are bad and never trying to make the world around you better and then still touting yourself as a hero? Even when the people around you are suffering?” Scylla harshly inquires.

    “I-I never said I wouldn’t help people. I was just, y’know, focusing on the main part.” I respond.

    “Didn’t seem that way to me…” Scylla comments snidely.

    “Mn, I don’t get it. What problem do you have with my image of a hero?” I tilt my head in confusion.

    “Simple. It’s just not beautiful.” She states with a contemptuous pout.



    Somehow or another, it seems I ended up getting into an argument with Scylla, though I’m kind of not really sure what we’re arguing about. I think she’s angry at me for some reason though.

    “Well, it seems like you two just don’t see eye-to-eye, but that’s just how it is.” Saber finally comments, breaking the sudden tension between Scylla and me. “As for me… I do think that it’s possible to help people while selfishly going after your own goals. Speaking from personal experience.”

    “Is that so?” I turn to him curious. “Well, I guess you’d know best since you’re the actual hero here.”

    Unlike me who only aims to be a hero and Scylla who fought heroes, I suppose the words of the actual established hero, Saber, would have more weight.

    “Oh, wait, does that mean that you ended up helping people because of a selfish goal, Saber?” I suddenly ask, picking up on his implication.

    “More or less.” Saber nods. “Like I said before, becoming a hero was my dream, so I really did it for myself. Of course, I’m happy to help others, but the core motivation has always been my own dreams.”

    “I guess that would count as a sort of selfishness.” I ponder. “Well, even then, I don’t really think you’re a really selfish person. In fact, I think you’re a very admirable hero. I don’t know how many people you’ve saved, but I get the feeling you have a very noble character, Saber.”

    Just from the few interactions we’ve had, I’ve gotten the feeling that Saber is a nice person. He’s bright, helpful, polite, and capable. In fact, he’s practically straight out of a picture book. Whether it’s a knight’s shining armor or caped spandex, I think such an image would suit an honorable hero like him very well.

    “Is that so…” Saber responds disquietly.

    Hm? How strange, he’s making a difficult expression. Did I say something wrong?

    He continues to make a pensive face for a short while, his eyes drifting aimlessly to the grass, before he finally raised his head and flashed me a relaxed smile.

    “Say, Bengshan, you know my True Name, right?” He says in a somewhat gentle tone.

    “Huh? Yeah, of course.” I nod. “You’re Tom of Lincolnshire, right?”

    Tom of Lincolnshire, the unknown hero behind a hundred tales.

    If one were to search for the name online or in books, one would yield no results leading to any famous, recorded hero in history or mythology. He is not recognized in any story nor is he worshipped by anyone. One might even say that he was a person who might as well never have existed.

    However, in British and English folklore, there are a number of stories that share certain similarities. Tom Thumb, Tamlin, Tom a Lincoln, Thomas Rhymer, Tom Hickathrift, Yallery Brown, etc. All of these stories feature a character named Tom. Furthermore, many of them involve their Tom character meeting with the Queen of Fairies, if not entering a romantic relationship with her. On the surface, such similarities may seem like mere coincidences, but the truth is that they’re all connected and were indirectly based on a real-life person named Tom who lived in Lincolnshire. So, when one tries to summon any of the above Toms from legend as a Servant, they end up summoning the true, original Tom instead.

    That is Saber’s true identity, Tom of Lincolnshire, the origin of many fairy tales.

    “Yeah, that’s right. The truth is I’m not some legendary, mythological knight who went on epic adventures and engaged in chivalrous romances. I was just some normal bloke who lived a pretty normal life and had just one slightly fantastical event in my life but ended up having a bunch of legends told about him for it.” Tom affirms solemnly.

    Sighing heavily, he leans back and slumps his head towards the starry sky as if gazing on the light from years past.

    “But, y’know, I still wanted to become a hero…” He states in a melancholic tone. “I wanted to have epic adventures and to have them told for generations. I wanted to be a noble knight and to serve a fair lady and to fight crazy strong monsters. I wanted kids in the future to read my stories and feel as excited and inspired as I was when I read legends. I wanted it so badly, I would do anything to make it true. But in the end, I never lived up to that goal.”

    “Well, I guess that’s how dreams are.” I remark in a tone as soft as his, before trying to sound more cheerful. “But, hey, in a way, you got your dream to come true, right? Even if it was just luck, your story became popular folklore and now there’s a bunch of stories about you in modern day. You’re kind of really famous!”

    “… and what if it wasn’t luck?” Tom suddenly remarks.

    “Huh?” I gasp, shocked by the sudden suggestion.

    “Like I said, I wanted to be a hero more than anything. And I was willing to pay any price to make it happen.” He declares with sharp eyes.

    I freeze for a second as I process his implication and slowly put the pieces together to find a shocking realization.

    “A-any price? Don’t tell me…” I muse with widened eyes. “… the Heroic Spirit contract?”

    The Heroic Spirit contract, the primary method in which humans becomes Heroic Spirits.

    Putting aside the fictional Heroic Spirits which were entirely fabricated from the ideals and imagination of humanity, living humans who achieved great deeds in life do not automatically get thrown into the Throne of Heroes. In order to become a Heroic Spirit, one must make a contract with the world to give their existence to it after they die.

    The exact specifics are a little complicated, but the gist of it is that, while they’re alive, heroes make a deal with the world for something and in exchange promise to become Heroic Spirits after they die. Power, wealth, fame, love, whatever it is they gained from the deal, they must repay the debt for it by offering their eternal existence to the world. Us Masters are then able to summon Servants by stealing that debt liability from the world and temporarily writing our names on the contract.

    It is common among novice Masters to automatically assume that all noteworthy legendary figures in mythology and history can be summoned as Heroic Spirits, but that is not actually true. There are, in fact, many famous heroes who are not in the Throne of Heroes and thus cannot be summoned, no matter how famous or accomplished they are. These heroes are the ones who did not accept the Heroic Spirit contract. I’ve heard that examples of these include such figures as Michelangelo or Sei Shonagon. Such people had no desire for the exchange that the world offered and thus turned down the contract.

    On the other hand, there are also Heroic Spirits who choose to offer their afterlife without asking for anything in exchange. Of these there are those who wanted to protect humanity out of the sheer goodness of their hearts, those battle maniacs who just liked to idea of being able to keep fighting even after they die, and any other wild reason one may have to want to become a Heroic Spirit. But the bottom line is that, as a general rule, someone only becomes a Heroic Spirit if they want to.

    To be honest, it’s a bit of a grisly detail behind the mechanics of the Heroic Spirit system. After all, becoming a Heroic Spirit is basically selling your soul to the World. In exchange for something, you literally offer your afterlife to eternal servitude, forever enslaved to the will of the world and losing the ability to ever again rest in peace. Even though I, as a Master, am basically an accomplice in it all, I don’t like thinking about it too much…

    But if what Tom’s implying is true, then the thing he asked for from the contract… is the power to become a hero?

    “No, that’s wrong.” Tom denies, shaking his head. “Like I said, I was just some nobody with no legendary feats. I didn’t even come close to qualifying for becoming a Heroic Spirit.”

    “Huh, so it wasn’t the Heroic Spirit contract? Then…” I contemplate further, trying to deduce what Saber could possibly mean.

    If Tom never took the Heroic Spirit contract, that means he isn’t a proper Heroic Spirit. So then, what kind of Servant is he? If he’s from folklore, then maybe he’s a Phantom? But in that case, the real Tom wouldn’t be summoned. Then what else could he…

    “Wait…” I gasp in disbelief as I come to an epiphany, turning my wide-open eyes to Saber. “… are you a Counter Guardian?”

    “Yup, you got it! I’m part of the Counter Force.” Tom admits with a giant, unfitting grin.

    I’m speechless. After that insane revelation, I have no words or thoughts to spare.

    I never would’ve suspected that Saber was actually a Counter Guardian this whole time.

    “Basically, before I died, I lamented that I never got to become a legendary hero like I wanted, so I made a contract with the World to make it happen. My wish was to be revered as a hero and so the World spread my legend across the country as folklore. Over time those stories took a life of their own and countless variations were born. That’s why there are so many folk tales and stories about little old me.” Tom explains with a bright, bubbly demeanor.

    “And… you agreed to become a Counter Guardian for that?” I ask, incredulously.

    “That’s right. That’s all I wanted.” Tom replies with a light sigh. “Well, it would’ve been nice to actually have gone on those adventures myself, but this is a close second. I got to become the hero I always wanted. What more could I want?”

    “But…” I hesitate to respond.

    But, in exchange, he became an agent of the Counter Force…

    Was it really worth it?

    The Counter Guardians, the agents of the Counter Force, are those humans who have pledged their eternal service beyond death to preventing the extinction of the human race. In many ways, it’s similar to regular Heroic Spirit Contracts, but it’s even worse in a sense.

    At the very least, Heroic Spirits retain their identity. They are revered and worshipped by humans and leave their bright mark on the world long after their death. Their very existence continues to inspire, support, and spur the progress of humanity as we reach the future.

    The Counter Force, however, is a colorless, heartless power that only cares about humanity’s survival. The Guardians that serve it are much the same: mindless, merciless slaves that do nothing but murder. With no distinction between good or evil, they kill everything that threatens humanity. Those that become guardians become nothing more than nothingness and repeat the cycle of endless slaughter forever and ever more. The reason they are called Counter Guardians is because they have no free will or autonomy.

    Is that what truly the nature of this bright, shining hero in front of me? It’s just so hard to believe.

    “Haha, well, I normally don’t get to talk this much. Thanks to being summoned as a Servant, I got given a lot more leniency this time around.” Tom laughs, with the cheerful swagger of an idiot.

    “… and you’re okay with that? It doesn’t bother you?” I ask him, my voice quivering in my throat.

    “Well… I can’t say it doesn’t. But I’ve gotten used to it.” He smiles as he shrugs. “Besides, think of all the good I’m doing. Every time I take out however many people I have to, I save so much more. I’ve saved the world infinitely many times! Isn’t that great?”

    But… but then the one who’ll never be saved is…

    “Also, I knew what I was getting myself into. I signed up for it and I got my side of the bargain, so I can’t exactly start complaining, can I, hahaha?” He merrily adds.

    I feel myself struggling to restrain a shout. I end up biting my lower lip with enough fury to tear it off.

    “Y-you wanted to become a hero that much? To give up your free will for all of eternity?” I ask him anxiously.

    “Yeah, I did. I wanted it more than anything.” Saber nods with a smile worthy of a thousand suns. “Even now, I don’t regret it one bit. It was all worth it!”

    Oh, I see. I get it now.

    The man in front of me broke a long, long time ago. That’s why he’s able to smile like that. He really doesn’t care anymore. Maybe he never actually cared to begin with. For him, becoming a hero was worth eternal damnation. Now, after an eternity of mindless slaughter, the only thing left supporting him is the memory of that wish. The only thing keeping him sane is the comforting lie that it was all at least worth something.

    “… why are you telling me all this?” I finally ask him, lifting my sullen head.

    “Oh, right, we kind of got off track. Well, basically, what I wanted to tell you was…” Tom recites nonchalantly, as if everything that was just said wasn’t important. “For me, a hero has not autonomy. I lost my free will a long time ago, so I don’t really care about it, even now.”

    He begins to stand up and suddenly his armor and sword manifest. Now clad once again in full armor, he regains the image of a stalwart knight.

    “Heroes are those that answer the prayers of the people. Driven by the unconscious prayers of humanity, I have been summoned countless times and killed countless more people.” He announced with the pride and dignity of a knight in his voice. “But this time around, I was summoned by the lone, desperate prayer of a single girl. So, I plan to do everything in my power to protect her.”

    In a flash, he abruptly points his sword at me. Before I can even react, the tip of his blade is next to my throat.

    “So, I have to ask you this, Bengshan. You said that you want to be someone who can challenge and correct those with uncontested power. But what do you want to do with the ones you challenge?” He interrogates me with sharp eyes and his sharp blade. “Are you going to eliminate them so that they’ll never pose a threat again? Will you enact justice and punish them proportionally to their sin? Or…?”

    Our eyes meet and we stay in place just exploring the answers within the other’s pupils. The sharp, cold hostility in his eyes tell me everything. He knows far more than he’s letting on and he understands the situation far more than I expected. And in spite of all that, his decision was made a long, long time ago. From the beginning, he never had any free will. That’s why, his position now is perfect for him.

    After our brief, silent exchange, Tom suddenly pulls back his sword and slides it back into its sheath. The cold, serious glare he had turns into the usual, polite and gentle smile in an instant. I guess that means he got what he wanted.

    “Well, that’s the gist of it. I had to get a little serious for a second, but I really just wanted to confirm your intentions.” Saber chuckles heartily but sincerely. “Whatever hero you end up becoming, I hope it’s one who’ll also be able to protect her smile. That’s all I’m asking.”

    “…” I continue to not answer.

    Because right now, I have no answer to give. All my eyes and words can tell him is I don’t know…

    Leaving me with just that question, the little midnight rendezvous is adjourned. Saber vanishes with a wave, either teleporting away or going back into spirit form. Meanwhile, Scylla, who had been silently listening to our entire conversation, gets back up and wordlessly returns to her lake for some peace and quiet. All that’s left in the clearing after that is me and my feelings which only seem to become more complicated over time.

    The things I want to do. The things I need to do. The hero I want to become. The people I have to save…

    I pull myself back to bed and realize I’m suddenly tired enough to sleep again. In the end, I drift off only hoping that tonight’s dream can actually give me some relief from this absolute mess.

    Wise-up! Servant Sheet acquired:
    Saber - Tom of Lincolnshire

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