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6th Holy Grail War: Pre-War Stage

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Taiga’s Dojo (2:00pm)

Both Saber and Michael ended up working a sweat along with the rest of the students from the training demonstrated by Taiga. Many start heading to their respective changing rooms in the dojo, leaving Michael and Saber alone in the training area. Michael begins telling Saber “We may have to head back to the car soon. I don’t think we have enough time to search.” Saber replies back “Oh don’t worry too much about that. I’ll just ask Taiga if we can stay over later. Saber begins walking towards Taiga to begin her request, but Michael of course felt kinda strange about asking a stranger to live over at their dojo.

Saber walked right up to Taiga and began complimenting her teaching style. “I must say, I am impressed at how you demonstrated your own sword techniques. I’m even more impressed you made sure your students all followed along almost religiously.” Taiga, happy with Saber’s compliment replied “My students must be the most disciplined of all! I am their sensei, their teacher, so it is only natural!”

Taiga then looked back at Michael and then spoke quietly to Saber “Your boyfriend seemed quite stressed out over something. Did my training not work to aid in your sweet journey of love?”

Taiga had a slight solemn look on her face, as if she is suffering from the defeat of some world altering mission.

Saber, noticing the look on her face replied “Oh no it's not that, he always looks like that. I sometimes think he has to always hold a poop down or something.” Taiga then comments “I guess he does look kinda constipated.” Both girls began giggling like children until Michael walks up to them.

He asks “What are you girls laughing about?” Saber then replies “Oh nothing really.” Taiga however continues saying “Well, I do have some medicines in case you need help for yo-mmmmm” Saber immediately covers Taiga’s mouth before she finishes her sentence.

Michael asks “Medicine for what?” Saber immediately says “Nothing , Taiga was just saying her nonsense like usual” and then she slyly steps at Taiga’s foot to signify to her to shut up.

Taiga then tries to stifle a small scream due to the pain in her foot, realizes the signal that she shouldn’t continue her sentence. However, she decided to comment on Michael’s scowl nonetheless “May I ask, what is bothering you so much sir?” replying in English to Michael. Michael, deciding to reply back in English himself says “Oh, I was just thinking about something else. I didn’t mean to offend, your training was indeed quite splendid.”

Taiga then replies back “Well, obviously my training didn’t help to soothe your soul. You both should stay over! It would be nice to have guests over, especially those from overseas.”

Saber then quickly interjects “We would happily accept! Of course, I would love to have another sparring match, if you don’t mind me kicking your ass one more time.” She says this while also winking at Taiga in a mocking manner.

Taiga’s eyes start flaring up and she roars back “KICK MY ASS YOU SAY! THAT MATCH WAS A FLUKE!” She tries charging at Saber but Saber ends up holding her back like Taiga was a mere child trying to charge at an adult.  Michael looks at the two and couldn’t help but break out a small smile. It was almost like watching two sisters reuniting in some weird manner, although the two don’t really look all that alike.

Michael decides to reply to Taiga “Of course we will accept, but at a later date. I have to head back home quite quickly. I’m afraid the parking meter may expire quite soon.”

Taiga then responds “I see, well let me give you my number. By the way, don’t get any bright ideas mister! I understand why you may want to dump this hag of yours, but I am taken just so you know.”

Saber, enraged at being called a hag yells “HAG, DID YOU CALL ME A HAG? YOU'RE THE HAG YOU OLD FART!” Michael then begins trying to hold back Saber, never seeing such an outburst before. “We’ll come to visit later Taiga-san. Thanks again for the training session!” After Michael says this, he begins trying to drag Saber away from Taiga while both continuously stare metaphorical daggers at each other.

 

Shopping District (2:30pm)

Michael and Saber begin walking back towards his car to make sure that the parking meter doesn’t expire before they leave. Saber comments back on Taiga “That woman really grinds my gears! I can’t wait to kick her butt again” Steam seemingly pours out from her ears due to her anger. Michael of course replies “You have to admit, she was quite the instructor. I didn’t think swordfighting could be so interesting” Saber then responds “Well then you obviously haven’t been trained by me. Of course, I will say that woman does indeed possess quite a unique character. It will be quite pleasing to meet her again.”

Michael then smiles and says “Yeah, seeing how well you and her got along, I imagine you would have quite the time.” He grew quite contemplative about his time. He hadn’t enjoyed such free time in such a long time, and it seemed to temporarily relieve him of his thoughts of being in some mystical death tournament that would lead to some almighty wish.

Of course, fate would bring back these very concerns to the forefront of his mind immediately once he reached his car. A note seemed to be on the windshield of his car. He thought it might have been a ticket, but he looked at the parking meter and it seems there was a small amount of time left. He then thought it might have been an ad of some sort, but when he picked up the note, he realized it was something else.

Apparently it was a note, and it seemed to speak about some sort of surge of mana and how his servant is drawing unneeded attention to themselves. It then spoke about going to some cafe, called Copenhagen. Michael immediately turned to Saber and asked “What does he mean you drew attention to yourself?”

Saber, scratching her head out of embarrassment responded “It seems my portals give some faint prana trail that could be detected.” Michael, growing quite angry replies “What? Are you saying they can track us? Are they following us right now?”

Saber confidently responds “I don’t they would, it still bright outside and there are plenty of people about. Plus, if they did attack, I am pretty tough to boot” She puffs out her chest and keeps her hands on her hips to show distinct dominance and confidence in her abilities, although it didn’t truly soothe Michael’s nerves.

He then says “Well, it seems we may be meeting this master sooner rather than later. I will need you right beside me in case their servant happens to be nearby.” Saber responds “Of course, I doubt I’ll lose, but don’t you think they may just bring you to one location and then pull of some sort of trap to capture and kill you in?”

Michael then states “Yeah of course, but if this magical community is as secretive as I have heard, then meeting in such a public place may indicate that they aren’t planning such a move. Of course, I have heard of some psychos who don’t really care about keeping this whole magic thing a secret, but let’s just hope we don’t cross someone like that.”

“Yeah, that would be quite terrifying wouldn’t it?” Saber responds. Michael then urges her to get in the car. “Hurry, we’re going home to take a quick shower. We need to be ready to meet our new ‘friends’”.

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Copenhagen

The sky begins to darken as both a man and a woman walk towards the front of a nearby cafe, its title in neon lights illustrating Copenhagen. “This seems to be the place.” said the woman in the tight blue shirt quite excitedly. “I always did want to try out the alcohol of this time period”.

“You need to calm down Saber. I don’t need someone as powerful as you go on some drunken stupor” said the man next to her wearing the black leather coat. “We’re here for some important business. After all, we may get into a fight depending on how things go down.”

The woman named Saber replies “Oh I so look forward to it! I wonder how the servants of the other time periods fight.” She clenches her fists in anticipation. “Oh, this is making me pumped!” Other customers sitting outside under the umbrellas start looking at the woman would slight concern in their faces. The man then whispers to the girl “You're kinda making a scene here. We need to head inside quickly.”

“Oh right!” said Saber, and she quickly pushed the door right in front of her, entering the old-fashioned cafe. Customers seemed strewn about, sitting at the various tables. Many were simply drinking coffee. The customers by the booth near the servers of course we're drinking hard liquor to quench their thirst.

Several of the male customers, mostly the drunk ones, were staring at the new girl entering inside, obviously pleased with her appearance and at the fact that a beautiful woman had entered the bar.

The man seemed visibly irked. He knows for sure that whether Saber intended to or not, she has made herself the center of attention in this bar. The exact opposite of what he wanted as he was looking for the other master who messaged him to come here.

Saber began attracting far too much attention from several of the male patrons in this cafe. It left her master slightly perturbed, but he nonetheless began looking around for anyone in the bar who fit the description of any the masters in the profiles created during his recon.

He finally ended up spotting a man at one of the tables that fit the description of a master named Alastor Fraga McRemitz. Of course, he couldn't fully remember all the features of Alastor until he started waving him over.  (Shit he spotted me) thought Michael. He began taking in a deep breath, and walked up to the man, his hand on his Remington in case things turned deadly.

As the seventh hour drew closer in the pub you can see two men sitting in the corner of the bar both with a apprehensive expression on the their faces as one starts to to cradle a glass of whiskey in his hand he decides to speak.

           "Caster am I truly making the right call if it's anyone else this could end badly." Alastor remarks a tight frown on his face. "It's too late to back down now Alastor, I can already sense an approaching servant." Caster replied voice calm at delivering the news with numerous escape plans filling his mind.

           Suddenly the door opens and in walks the subject of their discussion. In walks a woman in a tight blue shirt having attracted the attention most of the fellow occupants in the bar Alastor however instead focuses on the man that walked in with her whose appearance can mistake him as none other than Michael Sagittarius the most overlooked and perhaps deadliest Master in this war. Reluctantly Alastor reaches out to him glove covered hands beckoning them over.

As Michael moves closer to the table Alastor can't help but notice the former soldier reach for a subtle bulge in his clothing. 'Good' He thought, 'He at least came to this meeting prepared for a possible ambush however' Alastor reaches out a hand to Michael "Thank you for humoring me Mr. Sagittarius but please relax. As long as this dialog takes place you have my vow that neither I or my servant shall attack you or yours."

Michael noticed Alastor's analytical abilities. ‘This guy has quite the mind. I should be wary of him.’ Michael decided to calm down and listen to what the rival master had to say. "Ok, I'll humor you buddy." He begins to sit down on the chair in front of Alastor, with only the table between them maintaining a chest high barrier between the two. "By the way, where is your servant? I think its only fair if we both place all our cards on the table if we want tensions to be on the down low if you understand what I mean."

'Ah not what I had in mind but at least he's willing to hear me out.'Alastor thinks seeing Michael still on guard yet at least visibly less tense. "Do you see that skinny black haired lad at the bar drinking from the tap?" Alastor says as Caster raises his glass in acknowledgement "That is my servant can I assume that the energetic looking lass with you is yours?"

Michael begins staring at the tap and notices a dark-haired individual wearing a white hoodie. 'Hmm, didn't think he would just let him walk around like this fully materialzed' was what Michael began thinking. He assumed Caster would be invisible, believing that Alastor would remain far more cautious at this meeting. Michael then started analyzing the events at hand. 'He may have pre-planned this meeting beforehand, wanting to keep it cordial and friendly, and in turn didn't want to risk antagonizing me in the process. Otherwise, he would have had Caster invisible this whole time.' Michael then of course heard Alastor take mention of Saber, who was taking all the attention in stride, happily accepting the beers from the men wo were willingly buying for her. Michael then sighs "Yeah...that's her"

As Alastor watches Michael gaze upon Caster he takes the time to observe who he can now confirm as Saber and can't help but let out a chuckle. "Looks like ya have your hands full with that lass." Then Alastor's face goes serious all traces of humor forgotten. "Alright now that the formalities are out of the way I'm sure you have a few questions on why I called you here. I'll answer what I can and then I'll get to the purpose of this meeting."

Alastor allowed for Michael to ask any questions to his own liking. With this opportunity in mind, Michael decided to get this topic quickly off his chest. "How were you able to track us down in the first place? Saber and I had our theories, but I first would like to get that confirmed right away." Michael began placing his arms on the table as he was sitting down, one of them in the shape of the fist, which further exemplified his seriousness in the conversation at hand when paired with his furrowed facial expression. "Second, I haven't confirmed why this whole war thing started in the first place? What is its purpose? It ultimately doesn't matter to me, but I do feel the need to know why this thing can provide a wish at all, and why we all have to kill each other with these heroic spirits in the first place?"

Having expected these questions when he got here Alastor was quick to respond. "All magi are able to detect Mana use in the air some are more sensitive than other's and all ways of detection are linked to the 5 senses. I trained myself to detect the smallest amount possible and my sense is linked to my sight. I could pick up the small residue left behind." At this Alastor pauses to drink from his glass his throat going dry. “As to why these wars started I haven't the foggiest clue. Many believe it's to reach Akasha, the Root of all existence, it's original purpose was known only to the three founders of this system and they died centuries ago. As for why we kill each other the Grail stores the built-up prana to brute force it's way to the Root to make your wish a reality. Do you really think most people are going to give up a chance to make their dreams come true if all they have to do is kill 6 perfect strangers that are plotting to kill them in return?" Here Alastor looks down as he remembers days long gone. "In all honesty, I have no wish in this war I'd rather make my path my way and not rely on a wish like my sister so foolishly tried. Anything else?"

Michael began thinking upon this answer to his second question. 'The root of all existence huh. Eh, whatever, it doesn't matter to me in the long run.' After this thought, Michael tries to then respond to Alastor when suddenly he sees Saber walk right up to the table with a couple of drinks in her hand. "Oh, there you are Ma-Michael, I was looking for you everywhere. Got you some drinks thanks to those nice gentlemen over there."

The men behind her were swooning, practically having imaginary hearts in their eyes as they gazed at Saber. She then glanced at the man across from her master. "Ooh, who's your handsome friend here Mike?" She then knocks Michael aside with her hips to get room to sit on the chair. "Tch" Michael gasped as he slid across the bench due to Saber's impact.  "Are you that guy who wrote us that message? Boy, that was embarrassing to get caught like that." She begins to take sip from her drink, and slides over her second drink in her hand to Michael. "Oh, is your servant gonna sit over here. I haven't met another one like me before!" She said quite excited at this prospect, even though this chance encounter could lead to an enormous amount of danger. She points straight towards the tap at the man in the white sweater. "Hey, you over there, come here!"

Michael surprised that Saber noticed Caster so quickly realized that she is far more aware of her surroundings than she lets on. 'Is this whole ditzy thing just an act?' Nonetheless, he shakes the thought out of his head and decides to let Alastor answer Saber's question at this moment in time.

‘Nice try lass but I've gone through enough to see when someone trying to throw me off guard.’ (Caster get over here Saber already knows it's you.)(Right away) "While I appreciate the compliment I think it's time for one last question then I'll tell you why I asked you here unless you ran out of them?" Alastor inquires.

Saber, calmly listening to Alastor's words responded "Oh I was only stating what was on my mind. I didn't plan to seduce you so easily by merely complimenting you." She lays back on her chair, taking in another sip of her drink. "Besides, I have plenty admirers as it is." She then faces towards the many men fawning over her, with some walking towards the very table that they were all sitting at.

Several men, about 8 to 10 of them to be exact started crowding around the table, with one of the taller, more muscular men coming forward to speak with Saber. "My, my miss, you sure you want to hang with these boys? Why not come be with a real man?"

Saber decided to tease with the beguiled man, all for the sake of her own hidden agenda. Deciding to act coy and shy she then replies "Oh my such forwardness. I would love to go with you, but I'm currently with my boyfriend right now you see. It wouldn't be right to leave him under such circumstances.”

The foul man, decided to take extra actions to prove his manliness towards Saber, and immediately grabbed Michael by the collar, pulling him over the table. He then throws Michael towards the wall opposite the table and attempts to pin him there. "Argh" was the noise coming from Michael's mouth as he felt his chest being pushed against by the burly man in front of him. The foul man then spoke "I'm sure this little white boy won't mind if we have fun with his girl will he?"

Michael then looked at Saber past the aggressor's face. He saw that she was quietly snickering in the background before mouthing to Michael "Good luck"

'She planned this didn't she. But why?' He glared at her with enormous ferocity, while also noticing some of the other men trying to pick a fight with Alastor as well. He looked back at the man pushing him against the wall, and noticed that he was about to punch Michael straight in the face. "That's it!" said Michael as he quickly blocked the punch coming from the man's left hand with Michael's own right, and then swiftly lifted both of his own hands and with his open palms smacked against the ears of the bald Japanese man’s head. With the muscular man's balance thrown off, Michael then immediately followed up with a swinging right kick towards the man's chest, throwing him towards the rest of the patrons standing up to fight.

With the body of the muscular man being knocked into one of the standing patrons, another tried to have his hand at punching at Michael, only to fail miserably as the attacker's right hand was blocked Michael's own right, followed by a quick elbow to the attacker's head, also knocking him down with the first aggressor.

Michael then quickly jumped away from the rest of the fighters, keeping his hands up and preparing any options for the fight ahead. He looked quickly at Saber, relaxing at her chair and sipping her drink, as if readying herself to enjoy a big fight while chatting it up with Caster. He also saw Alastor in a bit of a scuffle himself with the rest of the patrons. At least he had some help. There would be no way he could take on so many men by himself without using some magic. It would have to be subtly used of course. 'One mind gate should do the trick. It would allow me to have double the thinking power to better counter my many opponents' Michael thought soon before he opened the gate within his brain. With a new gate open, he would now have two minds rather than one calculating possible battle scenarios in his head.

He looked forward at his opponents and began yelling towards the direction of Alastor "Looks like we'll have to talk later! We have a mess we gotta clean up first!"

'That cheeky lass how did she know I was homesick' Alastor thought as a feral smile made its way to his face. "Aye time to show these punks what happens when you challenge an Irishman to a bar fight!" He said as the next unfortunate soul came at him with a barstool Alastor promptly ducked under the blow and delivered a punch to the ear disorienting the man long enough to drop it and Alastor to throw him into the next. "Hey, watch that people pay for those ya know." Just then he felt something shatter across his back only to look another drunken patron in the eye. “That better not have been my whiskey I was still drinking that." He quickly grabs the man and headbutts him then tosses him into another with a broken bottle. As Alastor looks at what once was his table he gets more enraged. "Damn it you Bastards haven't you learned never waste Alcohol! Hey how you holding up over there I'm having a blast!"

Michael responds "I'm all right at the moment" while dealing with two men charging straight at him, one with a whiskey bottle of his own and the other with just his fists. He ducks under the whiskey bottle lunged at him by the first attacker with their left hand. Michael then charges at the man with the man holding no weapon at all and launches two quick punches at his gut then his throat right before the attacker could throw any of his own. Then, due to his dual mind gates, he immediately calculated that the man with the whiskey bottle would go for an overhead swing aiming for the top of Michael's head.

To counter this, he quickly grabbed the man he just punched and threw him behind him towards the bottle wielder, with the whiskey bottle shattering over the thrown man's head, causing him to slowly lose consciousness. Before the man could fall to the ground however, Michael followed up with a side kick in his gut, launching him into the man behind with the broken bottle, with him knocked out on top of his fellow attacker, his own heavy weight pinning his fellow patron down.

'That's two down' thought Michael, before the first two guys he brought down started standing up. "That's just great!" lamented Michael as he placed his fists up to make sure these first two attackers begin to start staying down.

Saber herself sat down enjoying the chaos enveloping before her. She was quite curious why none of them started attacking the servant next to her, but it did give her time to talk to him. "So, judging from your skinny body, I'm assuming you're a Caster right?" she asked. "Well, I hope you’re enjoying the fight so far. Which of our masters do you think will knock the most guys out? I'm hoping mine does quite well." She commented, excited by how these new events were about to play out.

As Caster calmly takes a drink he decides to answer. "While I don't mind the show I do believe my Master has the most down so far but we'll just have to see."

"Hey, don't any of you little shits know how to have a proper scrap I had tougher fight with my Gran!" Alastor shouts as he smashes another man head to the floor more than a few men collapsed in a pile beside him. As two men start to try to ram a table into him he lifts their fellow brawler and tosses him through it cause the two men to falter long enough to be clotheslined. "Sorry barkeep, take it out of their wallets! Oh man I always wanted to do this." As one man staggered back to his feet Alastor grabs him by the throat and slams him into a groaning man back. "Man, that felt good, you sure you’re alright there!?"

Two of the men knocked down from the before started engaging Michael immediately after they stood up. The muscular man from before aimed for a right hook, but Michael ducked down to dodge. He then elbowed the man to knock him forward, giving Michael time to contend with the other attacker in front of him. However, the man gets a lucky hit on Michael and knocks him back into the muscular man, who grabs into a choke-hold. &I'm doing just fine& Michael struggles to say out loud while he is stuck in a choke-hold while getting punched by the man in front of him.

Saber starts to shout "Ooh, come on Michael! Is that all you got!?" as she slams down her drink due to the mere excitement for the fight at hand.

 

'Shut up Saber!' thought Michael as he lifts his legs to counter the attacker's punches while using his own remaining hands to start poking out the eyes of the man holding him in a choke-hold. He was able to kick the attacker in front of him away, and slumps down to drop his own body weight. By doing so, he brought the muscular down, and used his own skull to bump into the muscle-bounded man's nose. He then spun around in the ground to do a sliding kick to drop the big man down, and then immediately followed up with a strong elbow into his face to knock him out. He jumps up to see the enormous Alastor just throw around his opponents like nothing, finishing off his last opponent with a choke-slam of all things.

"Are you a professional wrestler or something?" said Michael, not remembering such knowledge from his profile. Of course, his answer would have to wait as he had to pointlessly deal with the last attacker. 'Let's end this quickly.' Michael posted up, awaiting his attacker's first move. The man decided to go for a knee, which Michael quickly anticipated and decided to go for a wrestling move of his own. He stopped the knee with one hand, and used the other hand to pick him up and slam him down into another table knocking him out.

Once that was over with, he looked around to see the impending damage, with the remaining patrons running out and the servers all cowering down. &I guess we'll have to pay for all this.& Michael of course was glad that he didn't have to use his guns for this fight. He couldn't afford to get arrested now for breaking any gun laws.

Saber decided to get up out of her seat and start applauding. "I guess you were right Caster, your master ended up knocking out the most in the end. I guess you should try harder next time Michael." she said with a gleeful smile on her face.

A well-timed groan from one of the many knocked down men was heard right after her response.

Immediately after was Michael's own furious reprimanding. "What the hell Saber?  You planned this didn't you! Thanks to you we'll have to leave, since the cops are probably gonna be arriving to check out this ruckus!"

Saber then calmly replies "Oh don't worry about that! Besides, I needed to see how tough our competition was. Plus I got to have a nice little chat with Caster!" She then looks towards Alastor "By the way, do you have any other location from where we could finish our conversation? You seemed to have something important that you wanted to discuss."

"Ah sorry but that was it I still don't have the whole city memorized," Alastor shrugs "however long reason short I was wondering if you wanted to team up for the war. Now hear me out their are some nasty characters in this war and I'd sleep easier if I had one less knife aimed at my back. If we both make it to the end we can settle this man to man no servants involved. What do you say Michael do we have a deal?" He asks hand out in offer.

Michael seemed quite befuddled by this approach. A team up? Could he really trust Alastor so quickly? Of course, Michael recalled the fact that Alastor could have placed himself in a far more advantageous position before he arrived at Copenhagen. Such as keeping Caster materialized rather than invisible, and advantage Michael himself does not have in Saber. Also, Alastor could have pulled some sort of trap, completely destroying the cafe when Michael and Saber arrived.

With these things in mind, Michael replies "Let's leave here first before I accept your offer. After that, I want to know one last thing, why are you fighting in this war? Once you answer this, I will give my answer to you."

"Nothing fancy I assure you. Officially, I’m in this investigating what happened in the last war," Alastor said plainly. "I'm trying to find out what just caused a chunk of the city to disappear, how a house like the Einzbern can just suddenly vanish without a trace. Unofficially I'm trying to find out what happened to my sister. “At this Alastor turns solemn memories long past reaching the surface. "I know she probably died but I at least want to find something of her to bury even if it's just the match to my earring she had." Here Alastor looks Michael straight in the eye. "There's my answer. I have no grand reason I just want closure for my family if I happen to win the grail I'd be more than happy to give it up."

Both the masters and the servants began running quite far away from the scene of the bar fight, and decide to finish their conversation. Saber starts off by stating "Family huh, you did mention that your sister fought in the last grail war. Sorry about what happened to her." She says with a calm, apologetic tone. She then goes to Michael and whispers in his ear "We could use some allies. We were quite lucky that they were the ones that tracked my magic down and no one else after all" Michael, acknowledging Saber's statement, despite his anger at her for placing them all in a precarious position of arrest, decides to give his final answer.

"I don't know why you would want to team up with me of all people, but, if only temporarily, I will ally with you on the condition that none of your actions hurt the innocents around us. I know we are fighting a 'war' after all, but I don't feel inclined to team with a psychopath." Michael finishes his statement with his hand on his Remington, just to indicate that he will finish Alastor off if he tries anything funny now or in the future.

Saber decides to then interject "Geez, you're so serious Master! I doubt our friends here would cause much trouble, isn't that right Caster?" She finishes off by slapping Caster's back, unintentionally using more strength than she should, knocking Caster forward quite a distance.

"Aye your Saber is right it's my job to keep them out of this mess as much as possible." Alastor gets out laughing at Saber's antics. "I'm so glad this amuses you," Caster says dryly at his laughter. "Still if it makes ya feel better you have my word. Here's a number to reach me now let's hurry I think I hear sirens."

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Lancer vs. Archer, Brief Summary (Original found on Discord Chat) - Shinto, Fuyuki City

Lancer continued to effortlessly nullify Archer’s barrage of arrows with deft flicks of her crimson spear, disappointed all the while at Archer’s disregard for chivalry due to his fruitless attempt to sink an arrow of his into her Master. Voicing her displeasure, the ground at her very feet cratered as she charged forth to close the gap between herself and her opponent, summoning 3 lances to surround Archer from every angle to deny him the chance to escape.

Yet in his state of enhanced awareness and premonition, Archer managed to detect the surrounding spears and aimed one of his arrows at a projectile's side, causing it to spin wildly off-course into another, while he prepared to defend himself from the last with the armored vambrace he wore on his left forearm, his right armed with a sword to prepare for Lancer’s incoming charge. However, he greatly underestimated the potency of his foe’s spears.

Ripping through his armor and flesh and making it’s way through his forearm, Archer suffered a grievous wound as the lance continued it’s path until it punctured a gaping hole into his lower abdomen, numbing him with crippling pain and leaving him defenseless to Lancer’s follow-up attack. Sneaking past his guard and blasting his body backwards with the force of a well-aimed kick, the spearwoman aimed for his point of impact and summoned an additional 5 spears to descend upon him.

Despairing at the painfully obvious gap in their ability, Archer desperately attempted to save himself by stabbing his sword into the ground while in midair, using it redirect the trajectory of his falling body away from his foe’s deathtrap, yet despite his efforts one spear still managed to graze his leg and shave off a large chunk of his flesh, rendering it nigh unusable. With no other option but to rely on his Noble Phantasms to survive, Archer invoked his ultimate blow yet missed due to the injuries he had previously suffered.

Left defenseless and drained, Lancer deigned it merciful to spare her opponent of death, yet to her surprise Archer’s arrows re-appeared as they seemed to have obtained a mind of their own, homing in on Lancer independently and threatening to strike her, yet Scathach invoked her Noble Phantasm to obliterate Archer’s own. Enraged by his cowardice, Scathach sent multiple spears to claim her foe’s life, yet in the last moment Archer seemed to be spirited away after cloaked in a heavy mist.

Returned to his Master with his body wounded and broken, neither himself nor Helmut had a way to heal his injuries due to both of them being drained of their magical energy, forcing the pair to prematurely perform a grand thaumaturgical ritual which robed Helmut of his consciousness upon completion.

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Fuyuki Church

He found himself in a haven untouched by the uncouth grips of war.

The faint rhythm of marching soldiers and clashing blades was so far removed from this idyllic oasis that it seemed as if the war being waged beyond the walls was but a dream, a game the city’s children played to pass the time, a fantasy made up by the local housewives to enrich their uneventful lives. The open bedroom walls gave way to a small terrace carved out of white marble, the many flowers grown there filling the warm room with a pleasantly sweet fragrance.

Helmut briefly wondered where it was that such a peaceful place could exist, yet his tired mind failed to grasp the connecting threads of his mind and left him as a mere observer to the nebulous dream he found himself in.

A wind blew in from the open balcony, it’s arrival heralded by the calm rustling of the flower’s leaves, and with it came a fragrant mist. Helmut blinked and rubbed his eyes after following the mist’s gentle movement, for he could have sworn to have seen the shape of a woman within it’s midst. Were he asked to recount her features he would be unable to grasp for words, for her beauty was both ephemeral and unforgettable, a transcendental splendor that was reserved solely to the realm of gods. However her lovely brow seemed furrowed, her enchanting eyes filled with worry over the man she carried in her arms.

Tenderly and with great care, the goddess laid the man down on the large cushioned bed without ever taking her sight off his heaving breaths, yet as soon as she had ensured his comfort did the goddess rush out of the room in search of something… someone.

Moments passed and silence returned once more, this time even drowning out the low rumbling of the conflict beyond the walls.

The soft splash of a nearby fountain and the occasional chirping of a bird reminded Helmut that time was passing after all… and then, finally, she stepped into the room.

This woman was someone else, not the goddess that had visited this room before, but a woman of extraordinary beauty nonetheless. Her hair was of a somber green, it’s length reaching down to her knees and concealing her nakedness, yet the woman seemed unperturbed by her nude body as if the very concept of clothes was foreign to her. Faint highlights of shimmering blue streaked her voluminous hair like rays of sunlight reflecting off a quiet pond, and it was accordingly adorned with vibrant flowers and leaves, most noticeable of all being the Nymphaea Alba (Water Lily) that she wore endearingly above her left ear. Her smooth skin appeared glistening as if softly shimmering in the sun’s evening embrace, and her fragrance was an earthy scent of crisp sweetness that reminded Helmut of the untouched forests of his childhood.

He suddenly realized that this woman was not human. She was a nymph.

Swiftly crossing the room and sitting herself beside the wounded Paris, she began to care for him with practiced familiarity, as if this wasn’t the first time that she had tended to his wounds.

It was then that Helmut felt himself waking up from the odd dream, yet one last things echoed in his mind before the world was reduced to nothingness; the soft whisper that the nymph directed lovingly at the man beside her.

“Rest easy my beloved, for I am here for you. Put your mind at ease my dear Alexander, and may you never leave my side again…”

______________________________

Helmut’s eyes were heavy and lethargic, his lids seemingly glued shut by crusted mucus to make his waking even harder. Groaning thoughtlessly as he rolled his body over to dispel the notion of waking up, Helmut suddenly found himself supported by nothing but air as his body fell a short distance onto the hard stone floor, a blanket he had not been aware of now tangled between his legs.

“…”

Helmut rightened his body, keeping the blanket, and rubbed his eyes free of it’s rheum before finally opening them and getting a good hazy look of his surroundings. He had expected to see a splendid bed and a terrace of white marble, alas he was greeted merely by undecorated stone pillars holding up the high roof of a spacious underground hall, in other words the Church’s basement that he had turned into his base operations. His mind was still rather foggy as it felt like he had slept half a lifetime straight, yet it received it’s due dousing of cold water when Helmut heard a certain voice speak up from across the room.

“Morning Master, it seems like you weren’t dead after all. Had you been out for a day longer I might have had to find myself another Master.”

“I-… Archer? Wait… how long was I out?”

“Not long at all. You had collapsed yesterday and slept until today’s late afternoon, yet you were out cold like a man too passionate about his love for drink.”

“I certainly feel like I’m hit by a pretty bad hangover, that’s for sure…”, Helmut muttered as he massaged his temple while slowly getting to his feet by supporting himself with the couch next to him. Wait. Couch?

Paris caught his Master’s quizzical expression and answered before he could raise the question, “I called for the priest after you had collapsed. He insisted on returning you to your quarters but I convinced him that this was the best place for you to recover, so we settled with moving that couch down here.”

“Down here? That’s right. If there’s any place to treat a mage’s mana exhaustion then it would be a place rich in mana. In that case…”

Helmut took a deep breath but immediately choked on the air and started to cough. The air was thick. Suffocatingly so. Like a sauna that threatened to smother you in it’s heat, only his body wasn’t sweating. No. It wasn’t his physical body that felt the pressure in the air, it were his circuits that hummed quietly with the overabundance of magical energy. The air was rich in mana to the extent that it was nigh sickening, but that meant that his ritual had succeeded.

Smiling as he realized that his Master had finally come to his conclusion, Archer walked over to him and joined him as they both headed over to the altar, the sight of which was magnificent. To the human eye only the bright glow of the interlinking magic circles was apparent, yet any magical entity would be able to comprehend the significance of the ritual before them. Like a red hot burst of flames burning it’s way violently into the sky, like a crushing fountain gushing forth relentlessly, the spectacle before them was nothing other but and endless stream of mana being continuously syphoned from the Leyline beneath the Church and being spewed into it’s underground hall. By having set barriers in place to keep the abundant quantities of mana from escaping, Helmut had created a room with abnormal mana density, the likes of which could be used to enhance just about any minor rituals and magic spells and restore one’s mana, yet most importantly of all…

Helmut kneeled before the centermost circle and confirmed it’s activity. Yes. It was working perfectly.

“How do you feel Archer?”, he asked without taking his eyes off examining the circle.

“In a word, excellent. My mana storages were refilled many times over as soon as you breached the spiritual walls separating us from the leyline, healing my injuries at that point was a simple task, yet you are referring to the nature of the mana I am currently receiving, are you not?”

Helmut nodded silently and waited for Archer to continue, it was a rhetorical question after all.

“To be honest, it feels wild, like an untamed animal, but the mana I am receiving from that the leyline is potent enough to sustain me. It feels odd to have one’s supplier of magical energy change so suddenly in the midst of the war, but I am in no position to complain.”

“That’s right. While I’m limited in the amounts of energy I can offer you, by linking you directly to this leyline with my own blood you are now able to continuously absorb magical energy directly from the source. You should now be able to use your Noble Phantasms much more freely…”, Helmut explained, though he noticed his Servant making a complicated expression, “…what’s is the matter, Archer?”

Paris expression hardened as he allowed himself a second to choose his words, “Nothing. It is merely that your mention of my abilities remind me of my defeat at the hands of Lancer. I realize that you have only woken up but-”

“Please Archer, not now. My mind is still hazy from what I saw and I doubt I am going to be able to think clearly for a while. We will discuss strategies, we will need to considering the state you were in yesterday…”, Paris flinched at the mention, but Helmut pretended to ignore it, “…but as I am right now I won’t be of much use to you. Pulling of a ritual like this is a miracle by itself. It normally requires a massive and infinitely more complicated thaumaturgical process to leech the earth of it’s energy, the Greater Grail is an example of just that, a machine that has attached itself to a leyline and is continuously sucking it dry, yet what we have before us is something much much simpler. While the magical energy we are able to extract by means of my family’s magecraft is more than enough for you, this is by no means comparable to the massive storages that the Greater Grail is capable of amassing, but regardless of scale, this amount of energy is more than enough for us. This will be the trump card that will give us an edge in this war… Archer? Are you listening?”

“Yes… I understand the significance of the ritual and am in a good enough mood to suffer your gloating, but what did you mean by your mind still being hazy from something you had just seen?”, Archer shot his Master a serious glare, fairly certain about the implication of Helmut’s words, but wanting to confirm it regardless.

But for Helmut there was no dodging the issue. His Servant seemed particularly sensitive to his past, having left the church on a whim previously precisely because he was reminded of it and causing the whole fiasco in the first place, so Helmut needed to tread carefully lest he risked angering Archer.

“I don’t remember much, but I faintly recall a comfortable bedroom and a terrace of white marble, and… a goddess? She carried you inside while surrounded in mist, but left soon after, only for somebody else to enter the room- ”

“Oenone.”

“Huh?”, Helmut raised his eyebrows at his Servant’s sudden interruption, but the name meant nothing to him.

Paris lifted his gaze and displayed to Helmut a slightly melancholic expression; he seemed willing to talk about it.

“Her name was Oenone, she was my first wife. Come Master, let’s take a walk. I feel like I might explode if we stayed here any longer.”

To a Servant, an entity of spiritual origin, an environment as rich in mana as this one must have been intoxicating to say the least, there was no reason why one would find it unpleasant, yet Helmut didn’t voice the issue and followed his Servant outside. He must have had his reasons.

Crossing the courtyard and entering the adjacent woods, Paris finally continued talking as soon as he was surrounded by nature.

“I had that very same dream yesterday as I recovered from my wounds so I know what you saw. In fact, it was a memory of when I had just been bested by Menelaus in battle and Aphrodite had intervened to save my life despite my defeat. The woman you saw within the mist was certainly her, be glad, not many mortal men of this era are fortunate enough to lay their eyes directly on a true Goddess.”

Helmut carefully followed Archer’s slow pace as they worked their way through the undergrowth. He could faintly make out the splashing of a small forest stream in the distance.

“Then that woman, wait that doesn’t make sense, you said that it was your first wife, Oen-… Oenone, but I never heard any mention of her during the Trojan War. Wasn’t Helen your lover at the time?”

Paris remained quiet for a second before forcing a sorrowful laugh.

“No you are right, I had long abandoned Oenone at that point, this was merely my mind deceiving itself, but you seem to be mistaken about the other thing. Helen was never my lover.”

“What!?”

Paris raised his hand to command silence, his eyes never making contact with Helmut as they stared painfully into the distance. The splashing noises seemed closer now.

“Helen never loved me, nor did I ever love Helen. I don’t know how the authors that came after me romanticized her 'abduction' by my hands. Two star-crossed lovers finding each other against all odds thanks to the help of the gods and consummating their marriage despite the war raging on beyond their walls…”, Paris scoffed with an annoyed expression, “…no. The truth was much simpler than that. I raped her. I came to Sparta under the guise of a diplomatic mission, yet I stole her away from her family. From her husband and daughter. Yet that didn’t stop me. I continued to lust after her all the while. Do you remember my dream? You were right, it was Helen who was supposed to care for me by my bed. Aphrodite had left to force her back into my bedroom so that she might alleviate my stress, and-…”

“Stop! Please, stop. You’ve gone on long enough.”

“…”

Archer regarded his Master with a long look, before nodding silently and averting his gaze. They had arrived at the small forest stream.

“Why…”, Helmut briefly hesitated to ask his question, but decided to continue regardless, “…why was Oenone in the dream, not Helen?”

Paris bent down to soak his fingers in the clear water, yet it felt empty. Devoid of life and crude. Nothing like the mountain streams of Mount Ida which were tended to and groomed by the local nymphs, nothing like the river home to Oenone herself.

“Who knows. As I said, it was simply my mind playing tricks on me.”

Helmut frowned. His Servant wasn’t answering him seriously anymore.

“Then what happened to Oenone after you left her? If she appeared in your dreams she must still matter to you, so what happened to her by the end of the Trojan War?”

Paris remained quiet for the longest time, the open question echoing in the heavy silence for quite a while before Archer finally stood up and turned. 

“Let’s go back, Master.”

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St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
2017
 
"Therefore, I believe it is in the world's best interests, and by extension ours, to gather an army at the Plains of Megiddo for a final crusade against the sinners to bring about the day of the Lord, the Armageddon."
 
The council of cardinals was left speechless after Peter's presentation giving him looks that says 'I can't believe you just said that.' with one of the cardinals even leaving his mouth gaping open. Peter felt like he did all the way back in elementary school, after he blew his math teacher away with magic after she marked his test with an F for using a different formula than the one she taught. Peter was grounded for 3 months afterwards. His parents had to move him to a different school, he even heard that the Mage's Association had to send a specialist to clean up the mess. Not that Peter remembered much of what happened afterwards, it was a long time ago after all. What Peter never forgot however, was the look everybody gave him just after he used magic. A look of surprise and disbelief mixed with... fear. They feared him back then for doing something they didn't understand, now the cardinals fear him for something they do understand very well. Yes, they feared what he said because they know that all of it is true. The faster the Armageddon comes, the more people will be saved.
 
After a silence that seemed to last for a milllenia, one of the cardinals basically shouted at Peter. "Have you gone insane, priest?" Not exactly the reaction Peter expected, but a reaction nonetheless. "You know it as well as I, your Eminence. That the world has not improved in the last 100 years. If anything, it has fallen deeper into the clutches of sin. Even the most saintly men have started to abandon the church and succumbed to the pleasures of the world. As was written 'If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.' If we had done this earlier, people like the 'Catholic Necromancer' would never have became such heretics. The faster the Lord returns to this world, the more people who will be saved." The council of cardinals murmured among themselves. They had to know that what Peter said was true. And then, they would have had no other choice but to accept his request.
 
After a while the murmurs stopped. Now is the moment of truth, a moment Peter has anxiously waited months for. It takes months for a priest to be able to present a formal request to the church through the College of Cardinals, who will in turn present said request to the pope for consideration. If the college of cardinal approves Peter's request then the pope would likely follow suit. One of the cardinals stood up. "Your 'theory' Father Peter, has proven more than anything the state of your mental health, degraded to the point where you are a danger to both yourself and those around you. I simply cannot on good faith allow you to continue your position as priest. Therefore, on my authority as bishop of the Holy Church, I hereby relieve you of your position, and all the privileges and rights it entails, effective immediately." And with that, the rest of the cardinals stood up and prepared to leave the room. Peter stepped back, he couldn't believe what he was hearing. Relieved from his position? Laicization occurred very rarely in the church and in almost every case as a result of direct offenses to the church's laws such as marrying or abusing their authority, neither of which Peter had done. He was well within his rights to present his request to the College of Cardinals, and went through all the normal procedures. Peter stepped forward. "Your eminence, with all due respect I--" The cardinal bishop stopped, "I would suggest you to seek mental help, Mr Peter. You seem to desperately need it." And with that, the cardinals left the room, leaving behind a shocked Peter.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Japanese Territorial Waters, Near Fuyuki City
Present Day
 
Peter jerked himself up. He was laying down, passed out on the yacht's cabin. Peter grabbed his head with his right arm, feeling as if someone were continuously pounding on it with a hammer. There was barely any strength in his right arm. In fact, there's barely any strength in his whole body, noticed Peter as he tried to get up. In addition to that, he seems to be sweating quite heavily. And yet oddly enough, Peter did not feel any pain in his body. As cheesy as it sounded, the pain came from the inside. Peter limped towards the windows. The ship was undamaged, and the sea looks calm, terrifyingly so in fact. With those possibilities of an attack and a storm scratched off, only one possibility is left. Peter must have expended so much magical energy that he exhausted all of the magic circuits inside his body. Peter collapsed. The simple act of limping to look at the window has drained what little energy was left in Peter's body. Peter took several deep breaths. How exactly did he came to regress to this pitiful condition? Peter can't seem to remember.
 
"You've awoken, Master." Rider's voice from the winds came. The voice seemed to trigger something inside of Peter's head, as if it represented something Peter had forgotten, though Peter still can't quite recall what it was. "Rider. What happened?"
 
"You were out cold after I used my Noble Phantasm under your command."
 
"Ah right." Peter replied, still not recalling anything. However, Rider wouldn't have any reason to lie about it, and Peter himself can't offer any explanation for his condition, so he can only assume that Rider was telling the truth about what happened. After all, it is a plausible explanation as to how Peter exhausted all of his magical energy. Still breathing heavily, Peter struggled to get up. "That Noble Phantasm you used... it is your strongest weapon, correct?" "As you say, Master." Rider replied. Barely managing to get up, Peter limped to a chair and threw himself on it. "I don't suppose I have enough magical energy to materialize you right now?" "I would not advise it in your current condition, Master." replied the voice from the winds. Even though Peter hated to admit it, Rider is probably right. Considering limping to a window and to a chair had left him as breathless as someone who ran a marathon, it would be foolish to expend any more magical energy, however in a real battle... "The dove familiars, are they still around?" Peter asked. "They are. Earlier they picked up a battle between Lancer and Archer."
 
"Oh?" Peter was intrigued. The war hasn't officially started and there's already a battle between servants? "What happened?" Peter asked, still out of breath. "Lancer won decisively, Archer wasn't even able to land a single strike on her. However, Archer suddenly disappeared just before Lancer landed the killing blow. I've determined both their identities, Archer is Paris a hero from the Trojan war, and Lan--" "Save it for later Rider." Peter interrupted the voice, leaning his head on his left arm. His headache greatly impeding his ability to process complex information, Peter can't comprehend much of what Rider is saying. Though he did get that Archer seems to be completely outclassed by Lancer, meaning that either Archer is not much of threat or that Lancer is dangerously powerful. Perhaps both. All this thinking is making Peter's head hurt worse. As powerful as Rider's Noble Phantasm maybe although Peter still can't quite remember what it was, this side effect on Peter's body makes it quite unpractical in real combat. While Peter is confident enough in his and Rider's ability to not rely on Rider's Noble Phantasm too much, there still may come a time when he will be forced to use it. When and if the time comes, Peter will have to find a way to utilize Rider's Noble Phantasm while avoiding or at the very least minimizing the side effects on his own body. And with battles already starting happen, he will have to find that way sooner rather than later.
 
The faster he wins the war, the faster the Lord will come. And the faster the Lord comes, the more people who will be saved.
Edited by A Random Player

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Ryuudou Temple, Miyama Outskirts, Fuyuki

“Assassin, how’s the watch?” pondered Mark.

Silence, and then, “IT GOES WELL BOSS”. Through the last few days, Assassin had become a bit more talkative, although it was still limited to short phrases on rare occasion. Maybe this is the limit of his speech mused Mark, before turning his attention to his ringing phone.

“Yes, how fares London old man?” he cheered into the phone.
 

“So loud…there’s a clean up to be done Mark. I presume you heard about the skirmish that took place?” replied Mark’s mysterious benefactor.

“Yep. Had a familiar in place. Assassin isn’t quite on the trust radar yet. That Lancer woman really had the Archer’s number. I searched Wikipedia for the things that the Lancer said to the Archer, and the identity that matches the most would be Paris from the Trojan War. The one in this war at least looks a little bit cooler than the one on the article” said Mark.

The old man sighed and retorted with “While your means of discernment are…questionable, I admit that I came to the same conclusion. What of the Lancer?”

“OH mate, she was smoking!”

“…And what else?”

“Oh, nothing. Her master seemed off her rocker though”

“I don’t even know why I bother holding conversation…that’s my first and last mistake. Look. The association has ordered all mercenaries, disciples and others involved in the War to help clean up that shambles. What the fuck was that Othinus woman thinking? The mind trembles.”

I can’t believe he referenced that? The old man might have some fun inside him after all thought Mark bemusedly.

“Okay, so it’ll look good to the Association if I get there first compared to the others, and also it opens up potential for alliances?”

“Finally you’re learning. Report back on your findings.” And then the line was abruptly cut short.

Mark walked down towards the shrine entrance and without looking back called out “Mate I could really use someone watching my six, if you feel what I’m saying?”

Assassin is very receptive to this kind of language. Him and that Michael character could probably get along thought Mark.

Assassin jumped down to Mark’s level, then dematerialized. “TAKE POINT, I’ll FLANK”.

“Time to get to work”. They departed for the streets.

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Fuyuki Church

“…I understand father, I apologize for my oversight. I will make sure that Archer won’t act on his own accord a second time. Please send my regards to Veronica”, Helmut dryly stated as he hung up the phone, tiredly massaging the bridge of his nose.

Him and Archer had only just returned to the church when he received the call from his father, reprimanding him for his careless handling of his Servant and the disaster he had caused in the heart of Fuyuki’s downtown as a consequence. His Servant had mentioned to him the day before that he had run into the enemy Lancer, yet never could Helmut have imagined that that meeting of theirs would have generated this much attention. Exhaling the sigh he’d been holding back while on the phone, Helmut turned his head only to be greeted by the amused smirk of his Servant as he lounged comfortably on the couch Helmut had only rested on a few hours prior.

“You’ll make ‘sure’ that your unruly Servant won’t go astray again, I see. Now how exactly do you plan on doing that?”

Helmut forced back a frown. Archer’s chipper demeanor was hollow after all, likely an attempt to distract himself from their previous discussion.

“Please Archer, you know as well as I do how bad of a liar I am. I wouldn’t have cared if it had been you to have instigated the incident, let alone if you had killed civilians, these people are bound to die if we reach the Grail anyway. Alas I need to act my part as the obedient dog to the Association until we have guaranteed our victory, and to that end it has fallen to the Aigentler Family to shoulder our part of the responsibility.”

Helmut noted that his Servant was about to say something, yet he pressed on to deny Archer the pleasure of a snide remark.

“And no, my expertise is far removed from the cleaning duties of the Church. My family will simply provide the resources to hire the necessary personnel, though it stands to reason that any more public disasters like this one would be… ill-advised. At least until we have secured the Grail.”

“Yet many obstacles still stand between us and our prize, the most notable of all being the Servant of the Lance”, Archer reminded Helmut with pressing urgency.

Silently groaning to himself, Helmut nodded while rubbing the lethargy from his eyes, “I get it, no need to remind me incessantly about this. I had preferred to push this issue until I had the chance to sleep off the backlash from performing yesterday’s ritual, but seeing as the Mages Association has now been involved in this, it no longer seems to be a matter that we can delay. Just give me a minute to wake up”, he stated as he walked over to the table that carried most of his tools and supplies, the ones he had used to carve the magic circles into the stone.

Picking up a tourniquet and restricting the blood flow to his right arm, Helmut chose a syringe filled with a strangely colored substance and injected it into himself. At once his eyelids were freed from their exhausting weight and his tired limbs regained some semblance of vitality. Reaching out to his bottle of water that he had left there the day before, Helmut was surprised to see that it was already empty. Odd, he didn’t remember finishing it.

“Mana Supplements, Master? Why rely on those cheap tricks when you are bathing in the planet’s very own life-force?”, Archer inquired mockingly, flashing Helmut a victorious smile as he saw his Master reaching for his bottle.

“…”, briefly considering to comment on his Servant’s insubordination, Helmut ultimately decided against it, “The energy that is directly syphoned off the leyline is too raw and powerful for me to absorb effectively. While channeling it is obviously still possible for me, using it to replenish my own reserves is a tad more difficult for a human like myself, which stands in contrast to an entity that is primarily spiritual in nature. As such, these mana supplements are preferable. While the energy they contain might be limited and minuscule in comparison, they have already adapted to my personal mana signature and are thus much easier for my body to digest… that aside, let’s move onto Lancer.”

Archer’s expression immediately sharpened, and though he had been spread out snuggly on the couch before, his tense body now betrayed no more signs of comfort.

“So after an entire day of making me wait, my Master finally deems me of enough value to inquire about the enemy that nearly killed me”, Archer’s voice was cold and serious, his joke not meant as an insult but rather as a method to vent his own worries.

“Archer, tell me about what happened. Don’t spare the slightest detail.”

And so he did. It didn’t take as long as Archer would have thought, the battle was over in a flash after all, yet to the recipient of the one-sided beating it had seemed like it hours.

“So the Lance has been summoned by Othinus… a rune user heading the call of another rune user.”

“What do you know of this Othinus, Master?”

“Not much to be honest, only minor details about her family and the circumstances that crowned her their heir. Neither do I have any idea how to explain her change in appearance. As far as I know she should be around 23 years old, yet you profess that she took on the form of a 14 year old girl?”

“After gouging out her own eye no less. Either way, her mind was clearly broken and should thus not pose too much of a strategic threat. While we must be aware of her movements as a wild-card we cannot hope to predict, what worries me is that she managed to summon a Servant that towers even above the elite.”

“…so it really is Scathach then. Are you sure?”

“Her Noble Phantasm left no room for doubt. ‘Gae Bolg’, the demonic spear carved from the very bones of the sea monster Curruid… only that she seemed to possess several of them.”

“Spears that she can manifest from thin air and use as projectiles without the need for manually controlling their movement, yes, you mentioned that they were powerful enough to pierce your armor and shatter your arrows with little effort. A Lancer with a nigh inexhaustible treasury of spears that can be shot out on a whim coupled with a Noble Phantasm that can wipe out yours without a trace… she seems to be made for mid-ranged combat, leaving close-combat and long-ranged assault as our only options. Archer, you faced her in close range, what is your impression?”

“Whether or not she dominates the mid-ranged space is irrelevant, she is a Lancer in the end, a Servant of the Three Great Knight Classes. While I briefly attempted to measure her ability with my sword, I was overwhelmed almost immediately. However, it’s not as if my attempt was fruitless.”

Helmut moved closer to his Servant and crossed his arms before his chest. Archer seemed confident about the information he was about to share with him, and the light of humiliation still shone fiercely in the defeated Prince’s eyes. If there was anyone who could find a way to beat this Lancer, it would be him.

“I only made direct contact with her on two occasions. Once when I kicked off of her to dodge her spear and a second time when she landed a blow on me after my guard was broken. Despite her womanly figure, her body was hard as rock during our first contact. While I never intended for that half-hearted kick of mine to do any damage in the first place, it is important to note that she received it without even flinching. Despite being a Servant, she is also a woman, so to take such a blow when my Strength was enhanced by Athena clearly marks her as a Servant with exceptional Endurance. In your terms, I believe it could easily Rank as high as A. However, in great contrast to her Endurance, the blow she landed on me was not as heavy as I would have expected. My own Endurance is only average and my guard was broken at the time, so it stands to reason that I was greeted with the full force of her attack, so measuring her output was simple. Once more I would not be surprised if her Strength ranked A, yet we have to consider the runic enhancements she had bestowed on herself at the start of the battle. Had her Strength been naturally ranked as high as A then that blow would have surely cracked by sternum, yet it didn’t. Rank C is inconceivable of a warrior of her nature, so B it is.”

“In that case…”

“Exactly, so long as I do not rely on Aphrodite, I can equal her in Strength. And once taking advantage of the unique properties of the Archer Class, surpass her.”

Helmut could not suppress a proud smile after hearing the confidence in his own Servant’s voice.

“Then you would be able to break through her defenses the next time you meet.”

Paris responded with a determined expression of his own, “So long as I have time to prepare and focus, my arrows will easily carry the weight of A Ranked Attacks. Spears she might have aplenty, yet no Lancer can weather a continuous bombardment of the highest grade. She might surpass me in Agility and thus cement herself as an expert in close to mid-ranged skirmishesl, yet that leaves her woefully exposed to long-ranged assault. From what I have gathered, her spears are only capable of flying into a single direction once manifested, and their speed is nothing my arrows cannot surpass. So long as I have the edge in distance, I shall remain victorious.”

“Then the countermeasures to prevent her from destroying your Noble Phantasm with her own?…”

“Will be put in place when we meet next. After all, even a God-killer will have difficulty guarding against an attack she cannot see.”

“In that case I will grant you full permission to use your Noble Phantasms as you see fit. I was unable to provide you with the required amounts of mana when you faced her yesterday, but no more. From now on you will be able to fight at your full potential.”

Archer chuckled in response to his Master’s excuse, yet flashed a haughty grin nonetheless.

“I accept Master. Do not dare to rue your words later on, you have given me full reign of my abilities and I plan to use them. With the exception of my final Personal Skill of course, which stands to benefit the both of us.”

“So long as you remember.”

A comfortable silence cemented their agreement as Master and Servant were filled with hopeful optimism, yet whether or not their confidence was premature remained to be seen.

With their strategy meeting now over, Helmut interlinked his fingers above his head and satisfyingly popped his joints as he stretched the lethargy from his tired body. Heading back towards the table housing his tools once more, Helmut reached for a reinforced suitcase and unbuckled it’s clasps, exposing it’s contents to the dense mana-infused air. Securely placed into the cushioned insides of the suitcase were rows and rows of Azoth Daggers.

“Daggers?”, Archer curiously inquired as his eyes were drawn to his Master’s personal armory.

“Correct. While my family’s magecraft is deeply rooted in science, I’m a magus after all, and as such I too possess an Elemental Affinity; Air. These Azoth Daggers serve as vessels for some of my more complicated spells…”, Helmut carefully explained while sheathing four of them on either side of a suit-jacket’s inner pockets before putting it on, “…while I personally would have preferred jewels of the kind that the Tohsaka and Edelfelt use, my magecraft is by far not powerful enough to justify purchasing such a high-quality, and more importantly, expensive medium. Plus my family’s proficiency at transferring and storing mana cannot be compared to either of the two great Jewelmancy Households, so these Azoth Daggers are a fitting compromise. In any case, let’s go.”

“Finally. You talk too much for your own good Master. However…”, Paris warily eyed his Master as he warned him, “…as I am right now I will be of no more use to you than a civilian. All my Stats are currently ranked at E-, and as such we would only expose ourself to our enemy if we go out now. Are you sure you want to investigate the scene of battle in my current state?”

“…”, Helmut considered his Servant’s point briefly, yet his opinion didn’t seem to change even despite his warning, “…quite the opposite in fact, this is the perfect time to display you to the prying eyes of our enemies. Just as you said, your Stats are all currently ranked at E-. A Stat allocation like that is unheard of, an impossibility, so nobody would believe that these are your true Parameters. In that case, if those aren’t your true Parameters, then they must be unlocked under a certain set of conditions, much like a pacifistic Servant that is only allowed to show force when retaliating to an attack, so our enemies might be wary of you precisely because your current Parameters are abnormal. That, and it will prevent them from glimpsing at your actual Base Parameters, giving us a chance to parade the city at day without risking revealing your Stats.”

“Then you are counting on the fact that ordinary Masters won’t do battle during the day… yet have you already forgotten about Othinus? An insane mind is not likely to listen to reason.”

“Othinus has already painted a large enough target on her back. She has roused the ire of the Mages Association, and as such, will encourage all those affiliated with them to go against her. All those that wish to preserve the secrecy of Magecraft would focus on taking her down in the case of an attack, not unlike what happened during the 3rd iteration of this War as it was documented by Lord El-Melloi II.”

“…you do realize that you are gambling with your own life as well as mine, Master.”

“…the Mages Association will have their eyes on us after the incident we caused, especially now that my family has hired personnel to clean up after our mess. I need to continue to show them loyalty, now more than ever.”

“Ahh, so it all boils down to theatrics in the end. If that is your wish, I have no choice but to oblige. However… if you are wrong. If we do end up under enemy fire, know that you alone will be there to receive it.”

“I know Archer… I’m well aware of your policies.”

Archer shrugged his shoulders, acting disinterested, and disappeared into a golden mist.

“Then let us be on our way, Master.”

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Fuyuki Public Library, Shinto City, Fuyuki (6:48 PM JST)

The sun began cresting upon the rooftop edges of intercity Shinto. The sky spread creams of orange & pink along the withering cirrus, the streets below starting to tint the black of dusk.

The evening rush hour was in effect. Salarymen, clericals, & part-timers alike would be retreating home as public business was weaning on close. The library was to remain open for a good 2 hours. The librarians wouldn't meticulously carry out the routine check-out of the shelveloads of private books in the curation chambers until then.

A hidden closet space bound from the inside was accessed from a narrow, ruined wall leading from the roof. The perfect spot for a squatter. If he kept quiet enough, no one would detect him from indoors, yet alone suspect there was really anything wrong with the outside (or how one would reliably access the roofs of a 7-story building.) Littered scraps of insulation & plaster strewn about, as well as several crinkled McDonald's bags - one of which was being inspected by a rat. A weathered bronze lantern was the only source of light here, which would most likely need to be shut out soon as to not crack out from the floorboards.

A decrepit man lurched his spine against a dusty brick surface. He wore a khaki hooded overcoat, the stitchings loose & surface scratched. Only his wispy white goatee & stubble recessed from the hood. His denim trousers were wrinkled along, splotched bleach, clenching knots & burls incongruously. For a hooded stalker, there was an air of shame & loneliness to him with his goodwill getup. He wouldn't be so much intimidating than out-of-place among the public.

The man flung his aching arm before him. He inspected the strange red tattoo on the back of his albino palm, using his mana to illuminate it.

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Roots swirling out from a singularity; perhaps its the whole of the law. These roots divert from their anchor grounded in knowledge & realization, never deviating from their base model. But then one of the roots bursts: the anomaly - that which breaks the known.

The man pondered his symbolic interpretation. He had given life to that which had none of its own. A taboo among magi, the Mage's Association saw the threat in this. He was a fugitive magus for stealing & transferring top secret documents pertaining to the Holy Grail itself.

The 6th Holy Grail War had commenced unusually adjacent to the 5th - which saw the 3 Magi Families of Fuyuki - Einzbern, Tohsaka, Matou - suddenly vanish along with their secrets. It was an emergency the occult sphere only thought fictional. The Clock Tower issued bounties to whomever found the cause of disappearance with enough money to rival a 1st-world economy, gagging all possible intel sources & news media inquiring about the incident, & gutting the manors clean to salvage all remaining thaumatergical record & capital.

As the Holy Grail was gathering mana to prepare for the 6th war, someone had discovered a failsafe in the system that allowed the Grail's emergency reserve to be utilized in order to trigger an early Master selection process, fractioning the remaining mana to materialize the standard 7 Class set. Jumper was the apocryphal 8th Class - a glitched summon with an unstable mana container enough to fabricate Servants designed to guarantee victory or realize abstract objects & concepts into beings.

"I wonder if the Clock Tower knows you're on the field now, Jumper." the man whispered to himself.

Well, the iota of my existence already registered this Holy Grail War unto this microcosm at an unscheduled, unauthorized instance.

Jumper's voice had no gender, no pitch, no accent - its voice was hard to define by human standards. It was a faint whisper producing no sound waves. To the man, it spoke from inside him and around him simultaneously. The easiest way to describe it was the very air he breathed sharing its existence.

The man sighed. "No, like the Church has to report I was chosen as your Master. They know you're out there, but they sure would suspect me."

You're? Our's progenitze from the schemata embodying the Forms.

"You're not very good at understanding humanity for a theory. Yet alone talking like a human." The man turned over to the book he stole out of the Philosophy section. This Servant he so admired & sought to control would be easy to create with how widespread its text was. It was absurd to think a magus could weaponize the written word as a catalyst powerful enough to panic a major world authority. The book was standard print edition, Greek letters standing out against Japanese hiragana & katakana. The man had gutted the rest of the work from the ancient, dusty spine to only include the section relevant to Jumper.

"Well, the sun will set soon. We can move out of here then."

The sun abhors our's. Its essence manifests as a quality to repress gleans to its true nature. What do you know of the sun, Master?

"The sun's vital to supporting life in the universe. It gravitizes the planets of the solar system, brings heat & light to them. Earth wouldn't support life without the sun. It makes the plants grow & cycles its energy through the animals that feed on it, where other animals feed on them"

All traits the sensible world assigns to the sun. Yet we're keen to fail to instantiate more of the sun.

"But that's the scientific understanding of the sun. I doubt we've uncovered all we can know about it, but you're query only obscures the practical, empirical uses we have from that knowledge."

This is where we're slaves to the reflections of the material world. Disregarding how one magus heeds little mind to the mysteries we seek to exploit.

"The hell's that supposed to mean?"

Master, introspect of the traits our's gives to your skin.

"Wait, are you talking about my..." the man shutters, crossing his arms around his chest & rubbing tightly. "It was never my fault I was born albino!"

For all our's clairs unto the scheme - skin, you're corporeal form fails to elucidate an essential quality instantiated unto we're skins. Your's burns and sallows upon reaction with the sun's rays. 

"The hell kind of point are you making!? Just spit it out!"

Master, would the proceeding reverberations of your chords orate the consensus of your inductive reasoning faculties that your corporeal imitation of skin is not perfect?

"Yeah, of course I'm far from perfect! No human ever was."

Materialistic fallacies we're feeding our doubts when we're lost to deduce the truest forms. Just as you've admitted there's more to know of the sun, there's more you've experienced of the skin. What traits do both instantiations of aforementioned forms assimilate?

The man starts to seethe at the confusing rhetoric. He was salivating excessively from the existential stress Jumper was inconveniencing him with.

Very well. Both your skin & the sun are impermeable imitations of the true ideal both wish the emulate. Just as your skin experiences a irreparable flaw of through pain, decay, and damage against the sun's radiation, the sun is destined to expend its heat & collapse on itself - thus ceasing the transient existence of this microcosm. Our's is proof enough that your minds are capable of exceeding your bodies & reuniting with the eternal realm harmonious of the Forms. We magi understand this as the Akashic Records, do we not?

"Perhaps you're correct, Jumper. My point still stands that your container makes it harder for you to understand humans at their most basic. I don't really fault you for it. But let's try to save the philosophy for a time outside the Holy Grail War. I need to be focused in obtaining the Grail, and I trust all the other Servants will be outmatched against you."

Even so, as your skin rejects a fundamental essence of the sun, I too cannot persist in the sun. Its corrective impulses are an aspect of nature that prevents our's from ascending this flawed microcosm into correcting all that have, ever, and will comprise its existence. Accessing the Forms will allow me to bypass that and the lapses in ephemeral gratification you covet.

"I'll leave it at that for now."

With that, the man crawled over to his lantern, turned out the gas with the latchpin, and fastened it back into the rusted chainlinks around his neck.

Edited by Sarki

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As Svanhild opened her eyes, she raised her left hand. A command seal was clearly visible. It had appeared when she arrived in Fuyuki the previous day, and although she was disappointed by the simple pattern, she was still pleased to know she'd found success in coming to this country.
She'd managed to get a relatively cheap hotel room. To her surprise, the room was well kept, and spacious enough for her and her belongings, at least temporarily. She'd paid for two nights, so she had to get another place to stay soon, since she doubted she had enough money to continue paying for it. In a worst case scenario, she'd have to charm some poor man into letting her stay with him.

...

She decided to begin by exploring Shinto, since she was already there. She suppressed her mana, so any mage watching her would be unable to peg her as one. Of course, this would be ineffective against anyone who knew what she looked like, but since she'd only been in this country for a day and had kept her plans as much secret as possible, she doubted any of the Masters knew about her participation yet. It was only a matter of time, but she should be safe for now. The only people that knew were her brother and her sponsor at the Association.
The city was quite lively in the middle of the day. Fuyuki wasn't exactly a big tourist destination, but there were a few of them here anyways, so Svanhild had no problem mixing in. Knowing no Japanese turned out not to be such a big issue due to that, but she'd brought a dictionary with her just to be safe.
After checking a few stores in normal tourist fashion (and leaving with a new pair of earrings), she headed to her first destination, the Fuyuki City Church.

...

Well, the church had seemed like a decent place to set up a base, but it seemed too public and just not comfortable enough. A Catholic church was a decent enough place to visit and pray at, but for a protestant it just wasn't suitable as a place to stay. Besides, the priest hadn't been a fluent English speaker, and communication between them had been slightly difficult, so that would have made things rough in the long run. She'd spent today and yesterday exploring Shinto, and had failed to spot any other place suitable as a base, so now it was off to Miyama.
After wandering the town for a short while, she came across a mansion in the foreigners' district. There were no lights in the house, the garden was overgrown and several windows were broken. Yet Svanhild decided that this might be an ideal location to use as a base. The door was locked, but the lock was rusted and easily broken. There were remnants of a boundary field, but it had decayed and could no longer serve its function.
The insides of the mansion were a mess. The floor was covered in dust, several furniture were broken, and glass shards from the windows seemed to lay around in occasional places. Seemed like someone had thrown rocks at the building. Yet Svanhild smiled. This place was perfect. The ley lines here were brimming with mana, and although it was unsuitable for her, she knew a way to bypass that issue.
After spending the day cleaning part of the mansion and repairing some of the windows with magic, Svanhild headed back to the hotel, both to fetch the rest of her belongings and to stay there for her second night.

...

It was the night of her third day in Fuyuki. She had yet to investigate the entirety of the mansion, but she was quite sure that it was not haunted, despite all appearances. She'd cleaned the bedroom she'd decided to use, and made sure the bed was safe. She'd gotten some supplies for the kitchen, and cleaned most of it. She'd also cleaned some other rooms, but those not as thoroughly. The vermin problem was way less serious than one would expect after years of neglect.
Heading to the basement, she realized that this was the workshop of the mansion. A suitable place to summon a Servant.
She drew the summoning sigil with her own blood. There was no hesitation when she cut her palm, but she was slightly hesitant when drawing the sigil. Trying to avoid wasting blood.
As the sigil was complete, she spoke the incantation.
"Silver and Steel shall be your essence. The foundation of the contract shall be stone of the archduke.
The walls shall be the four winds. The gates shall be shut, and the threeforked kingdom road shall spin.
Close. Close. Close. Close. Close.
The sigils shall shatter at my behest.
If you heed the call of the Holy Grail, hear this.
I shall embody all good in the world.
I shall eliminate all evil in the world.
In three words, from seven heavens, tear your restraints and come forth!"
She took a deep breath before continuing.
"But, your eyes shall be shrouded in chaos,
And your mind shall be caged in madness,
I shall be the Lord that holds your chains!"
At the final word, she let go a final drop of blood into the center of the sigil. There was a loud boom, and a figure appeared in the sigil.

The man was about 190 centimeters tall, and heavily muscular. His skin was identifiable as Caucasian, despite being very tan. On his body, he wore chainmail armor covered in dirt, and on his head he wore an iron helmet. Long hair flowed from underneath the helmet, its color unidentifiable due to the dirt. The same could be said for the thick beard. The man's eyes could not be seen through the hair, but the glare could be felt. No weapons were visible.
Svanhild smiled, but that smile quickly turned into a frown.
"Why can't I see your name, Berserker?"

 

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