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6th Holy Grail War: Act 01

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ACT 01: The Meeting of the Minds

Shinto, Fuyuki City

Mark sipped his coffee, and looked out of the window at the bustling crowds of people on the panoramic walkways that formed the crossroads of shops and restaurants in Fuyuki. Black, one sugar, no cream. He smiled to himself, and then cleared his throat, before standing up and addressing everyone inside the cafe.

"Hey everyone! Pay absolutely no attention to me. I was never here. You also can't hear anything I say, and won't disturb me for the duration of my visit here. Oh, and forget about the weird saiyan things you saw the other night too." Mark stated assertively.

The crowd of customers and servers looked at Mark, nonplussed, and then continued on with their daily affairs. While Mark's memory manipulation would have done little to nothing to an experienced magus, these civilians were easy to influence. Great, no disturbances, and you've wiped a section of the incident damage, albeit not much.

Mark removed his phone from his pocket, and waited for the call. Shortly after, the phone buzzed, and Mark picked it up. 

"Are you ready Mark?" asked the familiar voice, to which Mark responded "I'm patching in, with your permission."

All of a sudden, Mark blacked out, and then his view showed a fancy metal lift door, with an outer wall sliding up besides it. The lift was going down. 

Mark had shared perception with his benefactor; he was seeing what the old man was seeing. The lift eventually came to a halting grind, and the doors opened. Down a small hallway was an enclosed glass cubical, with no entrances apart from a small circular hole near the top, with a height of 20 meters from the base. In the middle, sitting on the floor was an emotionless looking old man, pale as can be, wearing rags which were hidden by a large white beard and long slender silver hair. Even in rags, the man looked regal. 

This was Jubstacheit von Einzbern, the eight head of the Einzbern family. He had been with the family since the Second Grail War, but now he simply sat in this castle of glass, head hanging low in his personal prison. While it is true that publicly the three founding families of the War had been wiped out, a Magus expedition to the Einzbern castle in Germany found a secret room deep underground. Housed in it was a collapsed Jubstacheit. Technically this "thing" was artificial intelligence, research had shown, being fundamentally linked to the nature of the castle and homunculus within.


The old man tried to ask questions in interrogation regarding the nature of the the Fifth Grail War, but the relic of a man stayed silent, unresponsive. "This is boring...let me guess, there's some evil braniac mastermind who directly controls it? That would be so cliche...but still awesome" Mark thought to himself, and almost in reaction, Acht (named for being the 8th generation model of his kind) snapped his neck up, with cold dilated eyes, staring at the old man/Mark. The old man froze in place, and Mark felt a deep chill within him. This was a first. 

"ThE hOmunCulus LiVes. ThE swEet, iNnoCenT sOul, mY cReaTIon, the UltImAte cReaTIon. AwAitIng tHe nEw WaR, hIdDen aWay iN ThE eVeRpreSeNt CiTY."

And then the man was silent. Mark was shocked enough to lose concentration. He briefly blacked out, and then returned to himself in the cafe. He looked around, and no one had bothered him or acted like he was even there, as planned. Immediately Mark received a call, which he picked immediately.

"A homunculus? That's what I gathered from that short outburst. Mark. If this is the case, you have information that other Master's do not. HOLD. ONTO. IT. We have to find the vessel. It gives us an immediately important advantage for the long term." Mark was the one to end the call, and he looked unusually serious and in the zone. 

"Time to REALLY get to work. Assassin. Take rooftop views and scout. Let's get on with the pleasantries, and then we'll get to looking"

There was no response, but Mark had a gut feeling Assassin would obey this time. Before leaving the cafe (without paying because he could get away with that), Mark once again checked his phone, and he viewed the interesting email for what seemed like the umpteenth time. 

"Hi Mark,

We managed to scrub the relic of corruption, finally. I think we have a good idea of who this could belong to but...it's just unexpected. What you described as Assassin's appearance really doesn't match with or make any sense to my hypothesis. I've attached a picture; I think with some minor research you can figure out who it is. Don't want comms getting comprimised and all that. It's been too long man...you should come see the team again. I think they could use it.

Be well,

Rutger
Archaeological Excavation Manager
Clock Tower

Mark inquistively clicked the image file, and he saw an envelope with a certain item inside. The envelope had a name and surname on it, and through some quick research, Mark did indeed find the identity of his Servant. 

Mark thought long and hard, and then sighed. "Bloody hell...I don't think I can wrap my head around this kind of man. The mad enhancement...it actually kinda makes sense, to an extent. But really, getting a man so divisively debated as to whether he was in the right or not...I'm just lucky he looks nothing like himself currently. Although maybe there is a reason for that..."

Mark realised there was work to be done instead of pondering, and left the dim lighting of the cafe for the bright sunny streets outside. 

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Illyasviel von Einzbern - Ten no Sakazuki, Ryuudou Temple

All her eyes could see was an unending expanse of blackness.

It was as if she were blind, her eyes were useless in this unforgiving void. It was dark. And frigid. Her body was shivering against the cold hard rock that she found herself on, the only sound that echoed in this vast space being the noise of her fingernails as they scraped against the rough surface of the rock in an attempt to lift her shaking body up. Where was she? How long had she been here?

No matter how hard she tried, the girl could not remember anything about herself. As if this nothingness was all there was to “living”. As if she was never truly alive. The girl attempted her first step forward, but fell just as soon as her foot met the uneven surface of rock, causing her to helplessly tumble down a steep slope and bruise her fragile body. It hurt. Her body hurt.

Feeling pain not seconds after being born into existence, the girl started sobbing, the act of which only caused her eyes and chest to constrict and hurt her more. She could feel the blazing trails of tears as they ran down her cheeks, and in her attempt to wipe them away she learned that they were salty. She could taste them. Of course she could. So why was she so surprised to learn that tears were salty?

The girl continued crawling forwards even though she didn’t know where to go. She was confused. Terrified. Alone. She moved stubbornly into one direction, scraping her knees and elbows in her haste, but she didn’t care. She wanted to move faster still, to get out of this place as soon as she could.

“…ve me…”

The girl’s voice was hoarse, her throat dry and hurting. She knew how to speak, but it was as if her body spoke for the first time. The girl continued her frantic movements. At some point she realized that she was running, but in this endless darkness she didn’t know how or when. So she ran. The soles of her feet were soft as silk, tender to the touch, so it didn’t take long for the sharp edges of rock to cut deep into her flesh. But she continued running. Because that was the only thing she remembered to do. She ran. And soon her eyes glimpsed at light. It was far away and barely noticeable, but to a girl who had only ever seen darkness it was as bright as a shining beacon. And so she pushed her trembling body even further to reach that light, to make it to the outside, to escape whatever darkness was lurking in the depths of this cave.

“…save me..”

The girl pleaded in a horse whimper as her eyes were suddenly blinded by the intensity of the sun’s glare. Deprived of her eye-sight once more, the girl lost her footing and fell, yet this time her body was caught by the soft embrace of grass, the scent of it as pleasant as honey in comparison to the crude smell of rock. She was tired. Her body was hurt. She had no more strength to keep herself awake and could feel her body succumb to it’s fatigue, yet the thought of losing the life she had just so recently gained terrified her. As her body was about to shut down from over-exhaustion, the girl could barely sense an approaching figure from the corner of her vision. Somebody. Someone was there!

The girl weakly extended her trembling arm towards the presence. Whoever it was, she didn’t care.

“Please… help me.”

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Paris (Archer Camp) - Shinto, Fuyuki City

The wind was playful yet rough in it’s attempt to ruffle Archer’s brown locks, his loose fitted clothing violently fluttering in the wind while he himself remained calmly seated at the very edge of the rooftop. In his hand was a cheap plastic tumbler filled with some carbonated drink he had picked up on the way there, the contents themselves were unknown to him nor did he care. It was simply the intoxicating prickling sensation he sought as the beverage burned it’s way down his throat, the flavor was merely a secondary benefit. However, despite occasionally sipping from his cup, Paris himself did not give off the appearance of a slacker. His eyes remained pried open, observant of every rooftop, every street, every alley and every window. In his mind he counted the passage of the masses, noted cars that passed him by, and followed each and every individual that seemed to head into the direction of the Church back to their very homes, or at least until he verified that they were no threat to himself and his Master. For the entire duration of his watch Archer didn’t blink a single time. While his body still required basic physical needs when in it’s tangible form, any injuries or inconveniences could be remedied with a small expense of magical energy, and so that’s what he did. While his Personal Skill granted him immediate insight into the lay-out of the city at a glance, he now pushed this ability to the limit by imprinting the very essence of this city’s architecture and infrastructure into his mind. As an Archer, this was the role expected of him.

“Archer, report”, the voice of his Master resounded in his head.

They had established a mental link before leaving their hideout after witnessing the consequences of a lack of communication, the only reason they had not done so before due to Paris’ dislike of sharing his senses with another person. Now, of course, he had no choice but to begrudgingly accept the benefits of instant telepathy.

“The wind is quite violent today, the mark of a true coastal city. Were it not for the lack of Greek ships on the horizon I would have mistaken this place for home.”

“Archer…”

“Leave me my jests. This task of mine is monotone and uneventful, deny me this simple pleasure and I might throw myself off this roof to try my luck with my next summoning.”

Archer could feel his Master sigh on the other end of their mental link. He allowed himself a slight grin, it seemed his joke was not well received.

“So there is nothing to report then?”

“Nothing at all. No sign of Lancer and her Master yet, nor have any other Servants made their presence known. At least not on this side of the river.”

“What about Miyama?”

“…Master, I might be a Servant, but I am by no means omniscient. Shinto is densely packed with this city’s peasantry, and looking out for outliers demands my full attention. If you want to know the state of Miyama, we must first cross the river.”

“No. Not yet. We’re already exposing ourselves enough as is, and Miyama is host to valuable locations. Not only did it host the Three Magus Families that used to reside in Fuyuki, it also holds two of this city’s leylines. It is quite possible that the other Masters have taken residence there, and would thus be difficult to infiltrate in your current state. For now let’s focus on Shinto. What of the traffic on the bridge?”

“Busy. I noted the presence of foreigners, too many to narrow it down to a single Master… except for one.”

“Please elaborate.”

“I noted the presence of one Mark Gatling. His physical appearance matched the pictures and descriptions of the other Masters you have provided me with, and he has since taken residence in a café, performed magic, and received a phone call. He has only just left the establishment, yet his Servant seems nowhere to be found.”

“Wait, so is he part of the clean-up efforts mobilized by the Association?… Can you not detect anything? Not even a Servant masking itself in Spirit Form?”

“Nothing. So either this Master has left his Servant behind or is keeping it at a distance, both scenarios painting him as a fool…”

“…or he is the Master of Assassin”, Helmut concluded ponderously, “…either way, track his movements while staying out of sight. If his Servant is Caster you would be left vulnerable to long-ranged attacks, while Assassin would pose a much more credible threat.”

“You can save yourself the worry, Master. I have taken residence on the southernmost ivory tower to the east, practically on the other side of the city. Without a Personal Skill similar to mine, spotting me would be next to impossible. That being said, in the case of an attack, I have the forest at my back to disappear into.”

“Will that be enough?”

“I was raised in the wilderness of Mount Ida, I trust you believe me when I say that I know how to make myself disappear in a forest.”

“…my apologies.”

“I’ve taken no offense. Had I been in your shoes I would not have taken myself as a herdsmen either, though my fondness for cattle has remained unchanged.”

“…”

“What is it Master? Is there anything you would like to comment on?”

“I-… no, nothing at all.”

Archer shrugged and took a sip from his tumbler, he didn’t care enough to address any misunderstanding his Master might have had.

“I hope you haven’t been idle after putting me up to this monotone task, Master?”

“Quite the opposite in fact, I’ve been unexpectedly fortunate.”

“Oho~ is that so?”, Archer leant back while keeping his eyes on the enemy Master’s back and lazily fished for the straw in his cup as he awaited his Master’s entertainment, “Please, feel free to boast to your humble Servant.”

“Is it just me or are you more agreeable when you are bored?”

“Talk.”

“Right, of course. In any case, while I was interrogating the populace to find out who witnessed your fight, I learnt that there had been a bar fight nearby, apparently caused by a pair of foreigners.”

“Foreigners, huh? Nothing to bat an eye at under normal circumstances, but consider the timing and the fact that all confirmed participants are foreigners and…”

“Exactly, it is very likely that the incident could have been caused by Masters, though I cannot fathom why anybody would ever be so stupid as to cause such a public scene without cleaning up after themselves.”

“…”

“Oh, my apologies. Though at least you weren’t the instigator in your case-”

“Just move on, Master.”

“Right. So I went to the aforementioned establishment and compelled the current owner to show me the security footage of the scene, and it is just as we thought. The two parties involved were Michael Sagittarius and Alastor Fraga McRemitz, the former being a veteran soldier with extensive military experience, while the latter is… ironically, another expert in Runic Magecraft.”

“Are you cursed, Master?”

“Believe me, at this point I’d consider it. In any case, I have made a copy of the footage before erasing it both from the system and the owner’s mind. This is information I’d rather keep to myself for now.”

“Then we are dealing with a possible alliance.”

“Yes, their cordial treatment of each other would suggest so.”

“What about their Servants?”

“While their Classes weren’t very clear, there were two individuals that seemed to belong with the group, yet remained passive to their surroundings. A woman and a man. The woman clearly knew how to use her femininity as a weapon, she was the instigator of the fight it seemed, and it’s an opponent I’d rather not face.”

“Are you weak to the opposite sex, Master? Don’t tell me you have never shared a bed with a woman?”

“I’m wary of the possibility of her possessing Charm as a Personal Skill, something that would bode very badly for yourself if you were to face her.”

Archer burst out into a throaty chuckle, one which he was very particular to convey to his Master in it’s entirety, “So it’s true then! But regardless, there is naught for you to worry about. I have been in the presence of True Divine Beauty, appointed as the judge to determine the fairest of the Gods, and even then, I was rewarded with the pinnacle of mortal perfection. I look forward to a woman that make my knees tremble!”

“…even if you are immune to beauty, I am not. I will continue to pose a threat to you if she truly holds the ability to charm men… either way, that remains to be seen. We cannot know for sure until we lay our eyes on her ourselves.”

“Then what of the man? The other Servant?”

“That one remains a mystery. I couldn’t glean any obvious details from his behavior, but both Servants seemed perfectly capable of reason and speech, so that eliminates the possibility of either of them being Berserker. The Archer and Lancer Classes have also already been accounted for, so that leaves either Assassin, Rider, Saber, or Caster… though it’s nigh impossible to tell by physical appearance alone. While it is unlikely that the Master of Assassin would not take advantage of Presence Concealment and instead display him for the entire establishment to see, we cannot eliminate that possibility either. We are, after all, talking about a pair that started a public fight without erasing the evidence of their shameless parade, so we can’t count on them possessing common sense. In any case, I am heading back to the Church, there is no reason for me to expose myself any longer. Keep watch and continue to track the enemy Master.”

Archer breathed a reluctant sigh as he scrunched up his empty cup.

“Your wish is my command, Master…”

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Einzbern Mansion, Night 

'Well that could have gone better' Alastor thought as he pulled back into the driveway. 'Still at least he's willing to work together albeit temporarily but man that Saber just had to start that bar fight.' At this he can't help but grimace as he thought of that disaster.  'Still time to check that camera footage I hypnotized  the guard at city hall for. With this traffic cam footage I may just find the location of an enemy master.'

      "Hey Caster have those homunculi patrol the grounds let's see just how many really thought their plans through" As they sat down at the living room he inserted the disk into the PS4 Alastor just had bring with him. 


"Alright let's see nothing yet let's fastfoward a bit and... oh someone is at the church, an Audi really boy I wonder who that could be?" Alastor snarks 'Stupid nobles choose something that cheaper and I might overlook it' "Looks like it's Helmut. Alright let's switch cameras There's us at the shopping district and oh Michael as well must have just missed each other. Let's see nothing on Velvet but I expected nothing less. Nothing nothing fastfoward a little and wait god damn it... Caster what the hell did I just see?!" 

         Alastor stares dumbfounded at the events he just saw after all it's not everyday you see two Servants attack each other in a crowded area. " I'm just as at a loss as you isn't this supposed to be a secret tournament?" Caster asks his face showing his worry for the civilians caught in the crossfire. "Wait I know that spear but it can't be. No hell no that's impossible she has no recorded death and that sure as hell wasn't my sister's Lancer!" Alastor completely loses his composer as it dawns on him who Lancer is.

     "Damn it! How the hell are we going to fight her she trained Irish Hercules for fucks sake!" "Alastor get a hold of yourself!" Caster shouts as a sound reverberates through the room Alastor holds his face a red mark slowly forming. "Thanks Caster I needed that now let's finish watching this." 

         As the tape wraps up a moment of silence falls between the two as the soak up just what they witnessed. "Well we have a hell of a time ahead of us. Of course since the tape has no audio all we have to go on for Archer's identity is how he escaped the fight and those arrows. Let's take the rest of the night to rest and prepare for tomorrow I have an idea on how to turn this to our advantage." As Alastor makes his way upstairs he turns around. "Feel free to watch Netflix or Crunchy Roll if you want to. You should know how to work it the Grail did fill you in on modern technology after all." As Alastor heads to bed Caster sees a show that catches his interest. 'What's this about?'

 

The Next Morning

       'What the hell?' Was the first thought Alastor saw when he saw Caster still watching something on the television the screen showing a short teen with a mechanical arm and red coat talking to a suit of armor with red eyes. "Caster are you watching what I think your watching." Caster remains unresponsive as he walks closer "Caster you okay man your freaking me out here?" Finally Caster answers in a drone "Alastor why?" Alastor replies with reluctance "Why what?" Finally a look of joy appears on Caster's face "Why didn't you tell me the Japanese were so great at storytelling! The action, the tension and it's creative use of Alchemy as a whole. I have so many ideas I want to replicate and with my skills I can't wait to see what comes out!" 'Oh God what have I unleashed on this world.' Alastor can't help but feel pity for those he has to face. 'An otaku with a high rank in Item Creation what have I done.' "Caster as happy as I am to see you have a new hobby I think we need to get down to business. Now here's what we're gonna do."

          

Fuyuki church, Present time

        Caster makes his way up the the church proper as the instructions of this approach echo through his head 'Found you' As said the priest makes his rounds Caster applies magic to manipulate him. "Your going to close the church early and head to lunch" As the priest walks away a glazed look in his eye Caster sets his sights on the building proper. 

"First your gonna get the shepard away from his field no use harming the poor man."

        As he walks in the building Caster starts feeling a sensation as he lays small stones in the four corners of the room

"Then your going to set these runestones I carved last night to set a bounded field that alerts me when someone walks through the door with active circuits. Save the last stone for when you leave we don't need you to set them off"

        Caster begins huming a now familiar tune to himself as he placed a few jewels around the room the each one emitting a dull crimson glow. 

"Finally your going to leave a few little gifts behind for our poor lord when I give the clear release the spells stored in those jewels and he'll have an experience he won't soon forget."

Einzbern Mansion earlier 


     "But Master how will we know when he leaves to repair the damages? For that matter how will we know he will oversee it in the first place?" Caster asks the perceived flaw in his plan. "Simple my friend I've called in a few favors from some of the people on cleanup duty sometimes it pays to have the respect of the fellow working men they won't let me know his exact location but they did inform me that he was coming himself. With a few other hands greased they'll let me know when he arrives in the Shinto area"

Einzbern Mansion, Outskirts of Fuyuki (flashback)  

 

"Alright thanks for telling me Jonathan I owe you one" Alastor says to one of the men in the city. "No problem this is me just paying you back for saving my ass in Brazil good luck Alastor and godspeed" a man replies before he hangs up. "Caster let the operation begin."

 

Edited by HeraldofHector

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Shinto, Fuyuki City

“!?”

Helmut had only just broken his mental link with Archer when his senses were suddenly assaulted by the sharp pain of his Bounded Field’s alarm system. Like a knife wedging itself into the back of his head, the magnitude of the response was unlike anything he had ever felt. A Servant.

“Archer, our base is under attack!”

“What? Now? Are you certain?”

“Yes, the signature is unmistakable! It’s definitely a Servant, but he seems to be alone”, Helmut shouted soundlessly and started sprinting towards the nearest alley.

How did he find out? For how long had their hideout been compromised? Why would he act exactly when him and Archer had left the premises? Was it coincidence or was it all on purpose?
Cursing the string of unfortunate events that had followed them ever since they had arrived, Helmut hurriedly summoned a basic familiar to his side, a pitch black eagle holding a sickle and hammer in it’s chained talons, and tossed it into the air whilst it had yet to properly stretch it’s wings. Catching itself mid-flight, the mindless eagle moved to fulfill it’s given task and dived towards the church above cloud-level. Closing one eye while running out of the alley, Helmut sprinted towards his hideout as fast as he could while simultaneously muttering the spell that would link his closed eye and right ear to the sight and hearing of his familiar.

Meanwhile Archer promptly materialized his bow and quiver, nocking a single arrow onto the string as he quickly glanced across the far-reaching distance separating him from the detected enemy Servant to confirm the presence of the enemy at their doorstep. Delicate. Fair. Almost too gentle. The man that threatened to break into their home was the complete opposite of his previous opponent in almost every regard.

Paris split his attention between his two targets, the Master in Shinto and the Servant at the Church, “He seems nothing like a fighter Master, his robes are white and soft, garb that is meant to comfort, not protect.”

“I will trust your judgement until I can see that Servant for myself. So you don’t believe him to be one of the Knight Classes?”

“Saber is out of the question, and neither does this frail man strike me as a Rider.”

“So it’s either Assassin or Caster then.”

“Most likely, yes”, Archer agreed as he tested the grip on his bow.

The arrow he had laid into it’s embrace was itching to be fired, yet Paris was painfully aware that his current attacks would carry little weight.

“Then what do you propose, Master? Should I engage or should I leave the enemy free to pillage our home as they please?”

Helmut bit his tongue in self-loathing as his mind raced to consider the correct plan of attack. Archer’s arrows would be at their weakest in his current state, and while they still carried enough force to pierce a Servant if they landed, it also made them much easier to defend against if one knew that they were coming. In that case he needed a way to bypass the handicap placed on his Servant, for which there were only two ways. One was to have Helen herself care for Paris to cure him of his ailments, but such as thing was obviously impossible, while the other was to perform an attack that was not affected by Archer’s Physical Parameters.

“Archer… what is the status on your Noble Phantasm?”

“The energy I am currently receiving is more than enough to replenish Apollo’s Arrows. It is a rather cost efficient Anti-Unit Phantasm in the first place, much unlike the act of begging the Gods for their favor. Seeing as it redefines my physical abilities and Personal Skills, a massive amount of magical energy is needed to perform this task, which is why my original limit for this Noble Phantasm were two consecutive activations in a single day. As I am now however, I am free to open fire as I wish. Just say the word and it will be done.”

“No. Wait Archer. There is still the other Master to consider.”

“Is it not likely that Gatling is the Master of this Servant?”

“It’s not impossible but… it makes no sense why he would show himself in public if he was going to attack our base anyway. He would be putting himself needlessly at risk, so the possibility is higher that he belongs to another Camp.”

“Which would put us right between two enemy Servants, not counting Lancer who could still be hiding in Shinto.”

“…”

A Servant at the door, and possibly two others at their back. Archer’s only effective attack was his Noble Phantasm yet the act of firing it would be akin to launching a bright beacon into the sky and alerting everybody of his existence.

However.

If they let the Servant be, he could uncover their secret ritual in the basement, and securing another leyline of such quality would hold too much risk now that most Masters seem to have arrived. Alternatively, were they to attack, the Master they were currently tracking would elude them.

“Master, decide now or I shall take your silence as approval of my actions.”

"…you are free to use your Noble Phantasm Archer”, Helmut reluctantly commanded as he turned on his heel, heading for another unpopulated area before creating a second familiar, “My familiar will take over tracking the enemy Master, so focus your attention on the Servant. Escape into the forest after your first shot, we will meet up again after the heat has subsided.”

Paris nodded in consent, a self-satisfied smile on his lips. His previous defeat had been weighing heavily on his mind, so being given the chance to initiate an attack from a preferred distance was refreshing, almost dangerously so. He could feel himself becoming careless, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to pass up a chance as ripe as this one. Even though his current condition was sub-optimal, he couldn’t help himself for wanting to give the intruder a rough welcome.

Taking his eye off the enemy Master after confirming the presence of Helmut’s familiar in the clouds above him, he finally dedicated the entirety of his focus on the fair-haired Servant. All relevant details related to the distance between himself and his enemy were subconsciously picked up by his mind as his years of experience as an Archer finally bore fruit.

The varying wind currents and air pockets between himself and his target...
The nearby flocks of birds and bugs that posed a risk to his shot’s trajectory...
The movement of his target’s body... how he carried himself.. the instant he would expose himself...
And most importantly, the environment around him.

“Good…”, Archer muttered thoughtlessly to himself as he spotted a sizable patch of forest separating himself from his prey, “…if I spread out the trajectory of my arrows he won’t know from which direction they came from. Yet more importantly…”

“Intervention of Apollo…”

Paris held his breath as he channeled a tremendous amount of mana which he continued to imbue into his arrow. Magical energy, much like sound, heat, or any physical or spiritual particle for that matter, was bound by distance just as any other substance existing on the physical plane was. Much like a thunderclap chasing lightning, the outburst of magical energy which accompanied the activation of any Noble Phantasm would be just slightly behind his arrow's tip as it would chase it’s divine velocity. As an Archer, this was the greatest opportunity, his greatest advantage over the other Classes. Paris waited for the instant the Servant’s back was completely turned to him to release his arrow…

“Guided Arrow of Fatal Weakness”, and released it with all his might.

Stumbling back two steps due to the powerful feedback which his current body could barely handle, Archer quickly regained his footing and leaped off the building towards the forest before any nearby Servants could converge on his location. However, just as his foot pushed off the building’s edge, Paris spun his body around to face the Church once more, this time four arrows were neatly lined up on the arch of his bow.

“Right Palm. Left Palm. Right Foot. Left Foot.”

Archer’s eyes remained cold and focused as he concentrated to target each limb individually, yet when it came to releasing the arrows he purposefully pulled his bow upwards with a sharp jolt, forcing the arrows to miss, activating his Personal Skill to correct their flight path in the process. Due to them being shot wildly off-course, each arrow would come at the enemy from different directions in an attempt to confuse him, though their main task was to pin the Servant down in case his Noble Phantasm managed to hit. That alone would not kill him, even an ordinary human would survive this assault, but the value was in the conceptual effect imbued in his Noble Phantasm, not it’s physical striking power.

Having done all that he was able, Archer caught himself on the roof of a suburban house and leaped towards the forest.

All the while, his eyes never left his opponent’s back.

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Japanese Territorial Waters, Near Fuyuki City
 
Peter was sitting in front of a laptop, his left hand fiddling with what looks to be a USB drive. Without lifting a finger, he has figured out the identity of both Lancer and Archer. From what Rider told Peter about Archer's battle performance, he shouldn't be that much of a problem for Rider, at least under the same circumstances. Lancer is a bit trickier, while he seems to be stronger than Rider physically, her master doesn't seem to be very capable, so as long as Peter can arrange a fight utilizing both Lancer's weakness and Rider's greatest strength, they should have a good enough chance to win.
 
What worries Peter the most is the meeting between 2 masters. If they have truly formed an alliance as he feared, the War has became much harder. Even without knowing their respective classes, 2 Servants working together is a fearsome thought, and that's not even considering the capability of their respective masters. Peter will have to break their alliance or eliminate at least one of them as soon as possible. Yet without knowing anything about them, simply rushing in would be a fool's move.
 
And finally, there's the issue of Rider's Noble Phantasm which Peter still can't use without going out of comission. Peter's left arm stopped fiddling with the USB drive. Peter took a good look at it, by all accounts it looks no different from one you'd buy at an electronic store down the road. Peter can't sense any magical energy coming out of it either. And yet it's a key to a part of the net exclusive for mages. The price to get it could be used to buy a car. Clutching it inside his left palm, Peter infused some magical energy into the drive and plugged it in his laptop. A browser immediately opened up on the screen opening a website impossible to access otherwise (he tried), fate.net. What a cheesy name, thought Peter. And yet here is a gateway that connects all the mages in the world, or at least those who are aware of and willing to use it. Browsing the items section, Peter can only see some basic items mostly books such as 'Principles of Thaurmatology' and 'History of Magecraft', nothing useful to Peter. One of the items Peter noticed was some sort of writing contraption involving a quill pen to send and receive messages. Peter scoffed. What's wrong with sending emails or even a regular fax machine?
 
As Peter feared, the kind of items Peter needed wasn't sold on the site. After all, most mages are too proud to sell their works on a modern technology like the internet. Idiots don't know how much profit they're missing. However, Peter did notice a section labeled 'Contacts'. Browsing it Peter immediately understood it's purpose. If they won't come to the site to sell their abilities directly, the way to reach them becomes an item to purchase. And not cheap items either, the prices ranging from a thousand to a million dollars.
 
After compressing the list by searching for crafters exclusively, Peter began to shuffle through the list of abilities and prices. Of course, listing their names would undermine the value of the 'contacts'. Peter can't settle for anything but the highest quality of items, this war leaves nearly no room for mistakes. Peter can probably get the money needed using the same way he acquired the yatch he's currently on. He would prefer not having to stoop to such methods but if it comes to it...
 
*BANG*
 
The sound of gunfire from the storage room stopped Peter abruptly. An attack!? Peter was surprised and confused. Surely anyone who got near the boat would have triggered the bounded field Peter had set up around it. Unless... Assassin? Peter hadn't prepared for an attack but they should still have a good chance to survive if they haven't incapacitated Rider already. Worst case scenario is that they'll have to leave the boat behind. Running towards the storage room, Peter hastily opened the door. "Rider what--" Inside was something Peter hadn't even considered.
Edited by A Random Player

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Some time in the evening

A day has passed since both Saber and her master Michael came across Alastor and Caster. It was during this meeting that both parties decided to form an alliance for this holy grail war, in preparation for the battles against the other masters and servants. Of course, all Michael was left with was a card from Alastor holding the number for contact. He holds the card with his left, pulling out his phone with his right, contemplating on whether to call Alastor today for details on a new hideout. When they finished their conversation while keeping their presence hidden from the cops, Michael learned a bit more about boundary fields and what defenses they bring against magic and the like. Of course, he barely understood, as he only knew a few spells himself, but he thought it may be best to reconvene with Alastor for the time being. He felt that his ally may possess a defensible hideout, containing these very ‘boundaries’ that Michael’s own hideout is lacking. However, before he decides to input the numbers on the card into his phone, Saber calls out from behind him.

“Yo, Master, how bout we go out and visit Taiga again. You did say you needed something from there right?” Michael immediately put his phone away, to turn to Saber for a response. “Right, I almost forgot about that. Thanks for the reminder.” He says, while looking back onto Saber, wearing some of the new clothing she bought from the infamous shopping spree a few days prior. It seems she decided to not dress up to fashionably as Michael first assumed she would, but she instead decided to wear a grey sweater and a blue skirt for some odd reason. “Why are you wearing a skirt?” asked Michael, but of course Saber replies “Why not? I felt like wearing a skirt. What, you want a peek?” She possesses a smug grin on her face, poking at Michael for fun, but Michael just sighs and responds “Whatever, we should hurry up to meet Taiga-san as fast as we can.” Saber has a slight giggle. “I did want to meet that old hag again.” Both of them went to go out the door, before Michael decided to remind Saber to turn off the TV that she was watching beforehand. As she reached for the remote in the table within the living room, a Breaking News alert appeared on the screen, with reports over a gas attack, similar to the ones that occurred back in 2004. The reports seemed to catch Saber’s attention, but she was immediately interrupted by that line of thought by Michael when he yells out “Hurry up! We gotta go!” She then turns off the TV and runs out the door with Michael towards his car.

 

Taiga’s Dojo

The gates to the dojo are pushed open as Saber and Michael look onto the seemingly ancient Japanese architecture once again. Both then enter into the main entrance to search for Taiga to take up of her offer for a stay. As they enter into the main dojo, they see that Taiga would be nowhere to be found, searching around the lobby, and then into the training area itself. Yet, there appeared to still be no sign of Taiga. “Wonder where she is?” asked Michael, quite anxious to get a hold of the Contender his father spoke so dreadfully about.  “I mean she might have left, but I did leave her a few messages.” Suddenly, Saber goes to reach for Michael’s phone grabbing it from his pocket. “Wait, what are you doing?” Michael goes to try and reach for it back, but Saber’s reactions for far too quick that she immediately evades his grasp for his phone. “What? I want a phone and you will never buy me a phone, and I really want one. Too bad it’s not one of those of those pretty little flip phones those Japanese girls have, but oh well. Besides, I think she will be much more responsive to my texts” Michael sighs once again at Saber’s response. “I don’t think she can tell someone else would be texting, since it’s still the same phone. Plus, even if she could, I imagine she is quite busy at the moment. We should probably leave and try to come at a different time.” A vibration sound soon came from the phone in Saber’s hands. “Wait, was that her?” asked Michael. “Yeah, I typed in ‘Where you at you ugly hag?’” said Saber quite proudly. Michael, getting slightly frustrated, then asked “Okay, what did she text back?” Saber then says “She says and I quote ‘YOU WANNA FIGHT YOU WHORE! I’M IN THE KITCHEN YOU HOOKER!!!!’” Saber’s immediately starts crushing the phone out of anger, her teeth grinding and her eyebrows furrowed. “Wait, my phone!” but Michael’s pleas were in vain. “That bitch! I’m gonna kill her!” Saber exclaimed while running outside, towards another building where she assumes the kitchen to be. In her rage, she drops the crushed phone, which Michael picked ended up picking up its ruined remains. He pulls out the SD card, and puts into his new replacement phone. “I guess it's a good thing I kept a spare, but still, that girl’s strength and speed are ridiculous. I have to be doubly careful on making sure she doesn’t get hands on this extra.” He then goes out to follow Saber to where she thinks is the kitchen.

 

A few moments later

As Michael enters inside another another Japanese structure, he is welcomed into what seems to the inside of an actual home rather than a dojo. He takes off his shoes near the front entrance, and walks through the main hallway towards what he thinks is the kitchen, as all he can hear now is some screaming, loud noises, and thuds. He follows  into a new room, sliding open the door to what seems to be a dining room, with Taiga’s face down on the small table with Saber triumphantly holding Taiga’s face down with her very feet. “What’s wrong hag, give up?” Saber says, victorious. Michael looks down to see Taiga, wearing what seems to be a green apron over a long sleeved yellow and black striped shirt. “Shut up you weird girl! You’re just like your weird sister who has the same name as you weirdo!” Taiga exclaims, still struggling under Saber’s heel. Michael seemed surprised at this comment. “Wait, Saber had a sister?” asked Michael. “Wha..I don…” Saber tries to say, but then Taiga interrupts. “Yeah, there was this English woman named Saber who used to live a long time ago, after Shirou invited her…” Taiga finishes her sentence, her face becoming less strained and her eyes almost tearing up. Saber, noticing Taiga’s muscles relaxing, lets her foot off of Taiga’s head, realizing they must have brought back some bad memories. “Thank you..” says Taiga, before she slowly stands up, wiping some tears, and then immediately tries to karate chop Saber on her forehead, which Saber easily dodges. “Tch, I will get you next time, weirdo as the same name as that other weird girl!” says Taiga. Michael getting curious asks “This weird girl, you said her name was also Saber.” Taiga starts to reminisce, stating “Yes, back when I used to raise Shirou here. He invited that weird girl over, although she was quite kind and courteous herself, quite unlike this hooker here.” Saber starts glaring daggers at Taiga. “I see, this Shirou, used to live here. Was he your son?” continued Michael, ignoring Saber’s conflict with Taiga.

“WHAT I AM NOT THAT OLD!? TAKE THAT BACK!” screams Taiga. Saber tries her best to hold back a laugh. “Wait, no I apologize, who was this Shirou?” says Michael, fixing his mistake. Taiga then responds “Well, he was the son of the original owner of this residence, Emiya Kiritsugu.” Michael’s eye widens at the mention of the name. I see, Taiga was taking care of it in their stead, hence it becoming her dojo. Taiga, noticing Michael’s expression asks “Did you know Kiritsugu?” Michael, startled at the question, makes up a backstory. “Oh, well he was an old friend of my father’s, back when they used to work together overseas.” He starts scratching the back of his head, realizing the ridiculousness of calling them friends, since all Kiritsugu did was shoot and nearly kill his own father long ago. “Oh, I see, this must be a strange family reunion. Speaking of which.” Taiga stands up to go to the girl, examining her. “So, how are you related to the other girl named Saber?” Saber, bewildered at this question states “Ummm….I’m not?” Michael, realizing this other Saber must have been a servant summoned at the previous war, making Kiritsugu, or possibly his son, another master. That must mean this is his base of operations. Michael needed a plan to distract Taiga long enough to find the Contender, but what could he do?

Deciding to think on it a bit later, he starts to ask “Taiga-san, are we interrupting your cooking at the moment?” Saber interrupts immediately “This old hag probably cooks shit food you know!” “HEY! I can cook...fine.” Saber, surprised at Taiga’s lack of confidence exclaims “Hey, I can’t cook either you know. Don’t lose spirit!” Taiga then looks at Saber “Well, I had a feeling. All you have going for you is your looks.” Saber, angry at the response goes “WHY YOU!?” Michael of course notices this strange back at forth. ‘It’s almost like they’re sisters’ thinks Michael. Taiga, of course, calms herself down before entering again into another conflict with Saber. “Oh wait, before I forget, there is another guest here. I ask that you two don’t make too much noise since she is sleeping. Of course, I expect  you to follow Michael. This girl here though…” Saber, still angry at Taiga responds “What, I can be courteous! Here, I’ll help with the cooking.” Michael, chuckling at this response replies “You don’t know how to cook. We either order out, or I do all the cooking.” Saber, deciding to prove herself in her cooking capabilities to her master, and to her rival Taiga exclaims “Well, you’ve never seen me try! Watch me!” She goes into the kitchen, with Taiga berating her on her etiquette in the kitchen. This, of course, leads to a heated cooking contest between the two. Michael sighs, glad that at least the two aren’t beating each other to death, or rather Saber isn’t beating Taiga to death. While he would enjoy seeing the two try to out cook each other, which may lead to the destruction of the kitchen, he decided to go out and find the gun, realizing this is the perfect time as Taiga is distracted. He walks outside back through the hallway, putting on his shoes, to then leave the building.

 

Several minutes later
After a very thorough search of all the buildings, he came across a building that seemed to function as a shed, or sorts of tools and junk. Going inside, he a bench, with several different machines such as an Air Conditioner, Microwave, and even a ceiling fan. He also saw some bicycles just placed to the side, but of course, there were plenty of wooden boxes placed over a blue tarp near the entrance of the shed. Michael decided to move the boxes, and then immediately pulling off the tarp. What he saw was a strange, yet familiar sight. “A summoning circle.” said Michael to himself. ‘A servant was definitely summoned here some time ago’ Michael realizes that all this junk won’t lead him one step closer to his objective of finding the contender. Deciding he may need some extra brain power, he opens up a gate in his mind, similar to what he did during the bar fight. With the power of two brains, he sat down and began thinking of where Kiritsugu would have hidden his contender, while also contemplating whether the kitchen may be on fire due to Saber and Taiga’s competition. After some pondering, he finally comes to the conclusion of where Kiritsugu would have hidden the weapon. ‘This will take up a whole gate, but oh well’ Michael immediately closes up his hands in a fist, and blue lines start enveloping his arms. Under normal circumstances, it would take all of his focus just to strengthen two of his limbs, but the help of the mind gates, he can actually move his body for evasive and offensive maneuvers, while also placing 100% focus on his strengthening spell. Going to an inconspicuous area, he decides to pound away at the floor, hoping that Taiga doesn’t hear the loud noises he was about to make breaking into the ground. He starts punching at the ground, creating craters breaking into the floor, essentially burrowing through concrete with his bare hands, albeit charged with magic as shown by the blue lines illuminating his arms. He eventually stops his excavation once he notices a small box. Pulling the box out of the depths that it was buried in, he places it on the table holding the various machines. Opening up the box, he notices a gun, albeit a strange looking gun only holding the capacity for one bullet. Alongside the contender, were 25 rounds. Michael seemed quite curious at the rounds. ‘A pistol that fires this calibur of bullets?’ He decides to contemplate this strange discovery later, and closes the box, picking up the gun, getting a good feel for the gun. ‘I should put the gun back in the box and put it in my car.’ However, before he could make another move, he notices a presence behind him. It seems the loud noises he made did bring in the attention of someone else.
‘The other guest?’ He saw a young teenage girl, with white hair and red eyes, but the girl said one word that seemed quite strange to him, as he holds the Thompson Contender with his left hand. The girl, noticing the eyes of the man in front of her, holding this strange gun, says to him “Fa..ther?”

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Fuyuki Church 


      'Alright Master just a few more jewels to go then I'll leave post haste.' Caster thought relief felt through the link shared between himself and Alastor. As Caster went about this final task if one looked close enough you could see the faintest silver glow from under his robe.

       'Good job Caster but hurry. Helmut likely had a bounded field set up to alert him if the church was invaded.  We don't know if your water shield will hold long enough against a Noble Phantasm to use Macro Cosmos. Personally I don't want to find out either.' 


        'Understood Master' Caster thought as he placed one last jewel this one different than it's fellows were instead of the crimson hue of the others this was a deep blue as azure as the sky. It was placed to feed pure oxygen to the flames when burst to ensure nothing of the structure remained.

        Suddenly a crash came through the stained windows of the church as he suddenly felt a sharp impact against the silver hue outlining him. His shield quickly shatters but does it's job to slow it's impact however it becomes clear it's job was never meant to kill. 

       As soon as the arrow pierces his body he realizes he's swiftly losing all control of his body. Thankfully he still had enough strength to at least further defend himself and enough focus to call forth his strongest defence.

      "O’ Heavenly Stars, Macro Cosmos " Caster intoned desperation and weakness clear in his usually calm voice just barley holding back the numbness long enough to recite his aria as four more arrows fly through the church. As Caster let's out a stuttered breath he feels the four thankfully much weaker impacts against his defense. As they falter against his barrier he finally acknowledges the voice in his thoughts 'Alastor''  his mind supplies he hastely opens up their shared mental link. 

         'Caster what happened I suddenly felt a huge pull of mana on my end and suddenly the link was cut!' Alastor's thoughts showing his concern. 'It seems Archer was protecting the church I've been hit by what can only be his Noble Phantasm I might have Macro Cosmos up but I can't move my body' Caster answers.

       'Damn it if you can't move screw subtly and make  this place to blow up like a Michael Bay movie.' Alastor says as he activates a rune "Ansuz" he utters back at the manse increasing his circuit output to feed more energy to Caster.  'Keep your Macro Cosmos up take as long as you can.  I'm not risking anything so I'm using a command seal hopefully they'll believe your dead so we can come up with a better plan.' 

      "Caster by the power of this Command Seal return to my side after you destroy the Church"  

           'Understood Master ' Caster answers relief felt as he slowly starts to dissappear.Caster determined to at least finish his mission levitates an Ether jewel  intent on using it to set  off the others. As it crashes against the wall he quickly damages part of his cloak and telepathically pushes it out of the barrier. As a thunderous percussion started to overtake the chuch he lets one last thought echo in his mind before he finally disappears.

       'When next we meet Archer I'll show you who the real master of long range combat is'

Edited by HeraldofHector

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Forest behind the Church, Fuyuki City

Helmut dashed across the undergrowth at breakneck speed, each step he took propelling him past trees and shrubbery at a velocity that would otherwise paint him a blur, yet his skin and clothes remained unblemished from the snapping twigs and branches that obscured his path. The reason for that was the cocoon of air that currently enveloped his body. The continuous circulation of the sharp wind pushed aside leaves and sticks and redirected most of the air resistance Helmut would have normally been exposed to by accelerating his rapid pace. A human body wasn’t aerodynamic, so by casting Air-based Thaumaturgy to circumvent the forces that would otherwise act against him, Helmut could solely focus his attention on finding the safest yet quickest path through the forest.

He tensed his muscles and leaped off a rock jutting out proudly from the mossy earth, yet unfortunately this simply propelled him straight above a wide forest stream whose current was too fast and it’s shallow rocks too slippery to secure a safe foothold. Scanning the air for a brief moment, Helmut adjusted his posture and aimed for a floating leaf carried by a gentle breeze. His right foot reached out for it. His magic circuits flared to life. In an instant the motion vector directed downwards into the leaf, or in other words the force his inertia exerted onto the unsteadily floating foothold, was reversed and directed back upwards towards Helmut’s own body which had already tensed up to prepare for the next jump. The force was released and his body was catapulted safely across, the leaf itself merely swerved slightly in the wind as it was spared the weight of Helmut’s descent.

It didn’t take long for him to reach the Church.

Archer had informed him that the enemy Servant had escaped immediately after being hit by his Noble Phantasm, which were at least some good news amongst their sea of failure, so they had agreed to meet up in the shambles of their destroyed hideout to formulate their next steps.

“Quite the sight, isn’t it?”, Archer’s voice heralded his appearance as his body took shape amongst a glimmer of golden wisps, “Our first home reduced to a pile of dust and ash.”

“Archer, what about your mana supply?”

“It remains uninterrupted, it seems the explosion did not penetrate too far into the earth. From the looks of it was an unfocused blast, not one aimed at a specific objective, but one with the simple goal to catch us unawares if we hadn’t known of it’s existence.”

Helmut breathed a heavy sigh of relief, “So he didn’t find out about our ritual in the basement. I had feared what a Caster Servant could have done if he created his territory right on top of a nigh inexhaustible syphon of energy.”

“So it was Caster who aimed to eliminate us then. In hindsight it makes sense. Even before his use of Jewelmancy, we should have eliminated the possibility of him being Assassin the moment you managed to discern his presence by means of your Bounded Field. Had this Servant been an Assassin, we would have never even known he was there.”

“Exactly…”, Helmut muttered in agreement as he crouched down to examine the rubble at his feet, spotting faint shards of crystals amongst the rock and cement, “…Jewelmancy, huh? This would make sense considering what he said…”

“Master?”

“Right, sorry I was caught up in my own thoughts. The familiar that I sent to the Church ahead of me managed to hear Caster mutter a single phrase, something that we might use to discern his true identity. I sent the familiar in order to communicate with him in the first place, but it seemed his Master is of the cautious sort, going so far as to force his return with a Command Seal. In any case, the words my familiar picked up were ‘O’ Heavenly Stars, Macro Cosmos’, does any of that ring a bell?”

“…not to my knowledge, no. At the very least this wasn’t his Noble Phantasm, yet it seemed to be a powerful shield nonetheless. While my arrows were at their weakest, they were repelled like they were nothing more than air, so it is possible that only attacks of Rank A may penetrate his defenses.”

“So it was a chant to cast a defensive shield? My, what a troublesome opponent. In that case all that we are left with are his general time-frame and profession.”

Archer perked up his ears and regarded his Master with an interested gaze, “How so? Did those words mean anything to you?”

“Not to me personally, no, but the idea of macro- and microcosms is relatively recent… in comparison to you Heroic Spirits at the very least. I am not too sure about the specifics since it didn’t particularly fall into any of the fields of science I studied, but I believe it was generally associated more with the practices of Astrology, Alchemy, and Symbolic Geometry. Normally that alone wouldn’t have been much help, but thanks to you confirming his proficiency at Jewelmancy we can be rather certain that we are dealing with an Alchemist, in which case figuring out his identity should only be a matter of time.”

Archer whistled in approval, “It seems your family’s focus on the sciences despite being mages proved useful after all. Now if only I could say the same for your combat ability.”

Helmut allowed himself a smile, though he faced away from Archer so that his Servant might not know of his joy at being praised by a Heroic Spirit, “Either way, we don’t have time to waste on idle conversation. The link between you and the leyline remains intact, but we don’t know for how long. Regardless of that however, it’s not like we can continue to use this place as our hide-out, so we’ll have to salvage what we can leave… though I fear only my equipment in the basement has survived the blast.”

“Mere cloth can be bought with gold, your weaponry on the other hand takes time to re-create and craft anew, Master. I imagine this to be a fortunate compromise.”

“Yes you are right... In any case, try to find a way into the basement so that we can recover our equipment. Be sure to remove the Azoth Dagger closest to the exit when you leave, we don’t want anybody else stumbling into our secret. Destroy the entrance once you’re done. Don’t leave a trace in this wreckage.”

“What about you Master?”

“I’ll have to call my family and ask them to deliver my heritage to our new location, but before that I will have to find a place for us to live first.”

“…I’ve lived in the wild before Master, and while I didn’t particularly dislike it, it’s not a way of life I’d rather return to.”

Helmut pinched the bridge of his nose as he pulled out his phone and dialed the number of his father, “I know, me neither Archer. We’ll… have to figure something out.”

As if on cue, both Master and Servant exhaled a tired sigh.

Hopefully their next location would prove just a little less troublesome.

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Semina Apartments, Fuyuki City

Day had progressed into late night as the first stars slowly became visible even in the crowded city-center of Shinto.

While it was generally known for it’s high-rise skyscrapers and large shopping malls, Shinto was also home to a number of apartment buildings for those that preferred the city-life over Miyama’s quiet suburban environment. Amongst them all, one L-shaped apartment building stood out in particular. It’s rooms were rather luxurious considering that each floor housed only two apartments, each taking up the entire wing and boasting four bedrooms, two bathrooms, one kitchen open to the dining area, and a large communal living room connecting them all. In other words, the Semina Apartment Building easily qualified as a high-end living destination due to the sheer convenience of its location and the spacious construction of its rooms, yet curiously enough, one apartment always remained empty throughout the entire year. It wasn’t that the apartment was out of order or that the owners themselves refused to rent it out. In fact, its pricing has been considerably lowered over time and has constantly been kept in optimal condition to attract any potential customers, yet even then, the second room of the eleventh floor remained unoccupied until this day. The reason was as simple as it was superstitious…

“…so you are telling me that people refuse to live in this apartment because of something as ridiculous as a ghost story?”, Archer asked Helmut with a skeptical expression as he set down the last of their belongings in his Master’s study which had previously been one of this apartment’s four bedrooms.

Following their run-in with Caster, Archer and Helmut had recovered as much as they could from the rubble and proceeded with their move as fast as they could, fortunate to have avoided another Servant confrontation along the way. While it initially wasn’t an easy task to find the perfect location to serve as their hideout, Helmut happened to run across an ad for Room 2 on the 11th Floor of the Semina Apartment Building for a curiously cheap price. While money wasn’t the issue, the rooms were large and spacious, much to the satisfaction of Archer, but more importantly it possessed its own private parking garage, a crucial benefit considering Paris’ final Personal Skill granted to him by the Goddess Hera. That being said, it came with one more added benefit.

“Whether a ghost story or a rumor, what’s important is the fact that the story is relatively well known by the inhabitants of Fuyuki. Even though it’s a given that not every grown adult is going to believe it or be scared by it, the fact is that this apartment has been subconsciously ‘avoided’ by the people, and considering that the suicide murder actually happened, the conceptual aura tied to this location is only strengthened. I’m not a specialist in Bounded Fields, so it is a blessing to be given a prime location that has already established its own Bounded Field by natural means. True, the effects of it may be minuscule, but by strengthening it with a Field of my own I can enhance the effect many times over and thereby effectively deter people from wanting to enter this place. This isn’t a direct effect or a blocking of their actions mind you, it simply places a subconscious fear, or rather, a desire ‘not to want to approach’ this room into their minds and thus keeps us protected. Of course magical amulets are going to annul this effect so it’s not like this is a defense meant for Masters or Servants, but it should keep us under the radar for the time being.”

“Alright, alright…”, Archer motioned for his Master to stop talking as he dropped himself onto the living room couch, relishing in the luxury he had been craving ever since arriving in Fuyuki City, “…enough of your explanations, let us go over our battle-plans. This is the first time in a while that we are granted the opportunity to talk in peace, it would be unwise to waste it.”

“You are right”, Helmut yawned as he headed towards the kitchen to prepare and pour himself a fresh cup of coffee.

Fortunately the apartment had come pre-furnished, so Helmut simply had to head to the supermarket across the street to pick up the most basic amenities. Heading back into the living room and tossing his Servant a bottle of soda, Helmut sat down opposite him and prepared for their discussion, “Now then, where to begin?”

“Let’s start with the most recent event. Caster’s attack. Do you believe it to be deliberate?”, Archer inquired with the serious demeanor of a Prince.

“An attack on our hide-out as soon as we left it unattended is curious indeed, though without the two clues left behind by our assailant we couldn’t have been absolutely certain.”

“Exactly, were it not for the fact that our Priest had curiously decided to go for a walk mere seconds after Caster’s appearance and his attempt to lie down an array of jewels apparently meant to explode, this clearly eliminates the choice of it being simply a recon mission nor a friendly greeting. This was a deliberate attack. Somebody knew we were there, and what’s more, they knew when we were gone.”

“But how…”

Helmut leaned back on his cushioned backrest and ran his hands through his hair as he stared at nothing in particular.

“…I sensed no familiars and our Priest couldn’t have given out our location this quickly without us noticing, much less giving our enemies an up-to-date status update of our movements. Could we have been spotted leaving the Church then? Assassin remains unaccounted for, and we know Caster’s Master is working together with Saggitarius, whose Servant is that woman I saw on the recording. I trust in your perception Archer, if any Servant was watching us you would have noticed. So if she was watching us regardless of that, that would mean that she is likely to be the Assassin Servant, thus proving herself to be the one to provide Caster with information.”

“Do you still have the video?”

“Oh. Yes, just a second”, Helmut responded as he fingered a small flash drive from his pocket and plugged it into the built-in TV occupying the entirety of the opposing wall.

Opening the copied file containing the bar fight and enlarging it, he allowed his Servant to watch the recording from start to finish in silence.

“That woman…”, Paris said once the video had stopped playing, “…is she really an Assassin?”

“What do you mean Archer?”

“I met many warriors in my life. The greatest heroes of my era slaughtered each other outside my city’s walls, all for the woman whom I have taken as my plaything.”

Helmut shot his Servant a sharp look, but Archer merely shook his head without changing his expression.

“Obviously I have grown since then, and like any child, have come to regret my spoilt behavior… but my point is that I have seen the greatest of warriors as well as the most beautiful of women with mine very own eyes. That Assassin personifies both. She does not strike me as a mere woman. She never once lost control of the situation, as chaotic as it turned out to be, while still casually engaging Caster in a conversation. Charm Skill or not, she is capable. And dangerous.”

“You disagree then? You don’t believe her to be the Assassin Servant?”

“…no. All evidence points towards it so I am inclined to believe it, I am merely cautious of a warrior woman like herself being summoned into such a threatening Class. There is not much we can do to prepare for her Presence Concealment, and using a Command Seal might be our only way of surviving a surprise attack.”

“An alliance between Caster and Assassin then, both Classes that excel at trickery and schemes. This doesn’t bode well for us. We can’t even be sure that we weren’t followed…”

“Even if we were, chances are high they might not attack us unless we leave this place. Caster went out of his way to spare the life of an innocent after all, despite it being a needless waste of his time that he could have otherwise spent preparing his trap. These Masters are very unlike Othinus, they care for the lives of those uninvolved in this War. As such…”

“…we can use the residents of this apartment building as our hostages. I am surprised, I wouldn’t have expected such an underhanded strategy from the great Prince of Troy.”

“…”, Archer merely regarded his Master with a cold glare as he unscrewed his bottle and took a hearty sip; it seemed he himself was slightly irked by the idea of having to stoop to such a low level simply to guarantee his own safety.

“Either way…”, Helmut continued to move the topic along, “…with that matter solved, next we have the issue of this recording. I am going to be honest with you Archer, if forced into a direct confrontation with either of these two Masters, I would lose. The Enforcer of the McRemitz outclasses me both in physical combat and magical warfare thanks to his family’s runic lineage and his vast experience on the battlefield. Saggitarius on the other hand boasts military experience and an unnatural combat sense, as much has been proven from his impressive feat of taking down multiple opponents at once without blinking an eye. His battle instinct is palpable, and while I haven’t managed to find out whether or not he is capable of any usable magic, the fact remains that the Grail chose him to be worthy to fight as a Master in this War, so we cannot exclude that possibility. Meanwhile, I am adept at Air-based Thaumaturgy, but none of it is particularly suited for fast-paced combat. I can act as a supporting mage, but the only tool I have to help me out in the heat of battle is my ability to alter vectors to a degree, but even then I have a clear limit that can be easily overcome by my opponent's own magic. Lastly, look at their movements.”

Helmut picked up the remote and rewinded the video to the beginning of the fight.

“While they don’t seem to practice any specific from of martial arts, it wouldn’t make much of a difference if they did. They have found a way of battle that suits them perfectly, whereas I simply move my body without purpose. I am a mage, a researcher. I’m not a fighter like they are.”

“So you fear meeting them in battle? It is an ill-omen that the first two Masters we lay our eyes upon already outclass you in combat ability.”

“…yes. I might be able to hold them off at range, but I doubt I will survive an encounter… sorry.”

“Incompetence is not a sin Master, though I admit that it does not bode very well for us, especially now that we have measured ourselves against two Servants, one whose might equaled that of mine very own brother, and the other who escaped the grasp of my Noble Phantasm in an instant. A Command Seal might have been wasted in the process, true, but the fact remains that we were unsuccessful on both accounts.”

“Which places us at the bottom of the food-chain… damn it.”

Both Helmut and Paris fell silent at the painful utterance of the truth.

However.

It was then.

In the silence that followed, the presence of a third person in the room suddenly became apparent.

Neither of the two had payed much attention to their surroundings due to being completely invested in their discussion, their carelessness worsened by the trust they had placed in the barrier they had set in place to deter any mages or non-mages who weren’t protected by a magical amulet.

The door now creaked deafeningly loud in Helmut’s adrenaline rich mind as him and his Servant immediately jumped to their feet to face the sudden intruder. Archer’s hand grasped behind his back to reach for his materializing sword when-

“Oh my bad, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just came back and heard that I finally got a neighbor after 8 years of living on this floor alone, so I wanted to check out the competition. The door was open so I thought you were still in the middle of moving in, seeing how quick everything went from you buying it to coming over to live here. Thought I could give you guys a warm welcome, but I probably should have figured that bursting into someone else’s room in the middle of the night wasn’t the best idea, sorry”, the woman explained apologetically as she raised a hand before her face to further emote her honest apology.

She was clearly rambling, pressured by the suffocating pressure of the two men that simply continued to stare at her with a dumbstruck expression. But what else could they possibly do? The “intruder” was a mere woman that appeared to be in her mid-twenties. He brown hair was cut short at her neck and nicely complemented her amber eyes, though they currently seemed to be slightly clouded over. Her cheeks were slightly reddened, but considering that it wasn’t cold enough yet, it was likely that she had been drinking, and while far from drunk, was enjoying a pleasant buzz. She dressed rather plainly in fitting jeans and a casual blouse of a light blueish color, yet it seemed complete as an outfit and fashionable in its own way despite its simplicity. All in all, she was a normal human.

“H-how…”

“…how did you bypass our barrier? Who sent you? Are you a Master? What is your purpose for coming here? Do you know who I am? Who told you we were here?”

Helmut’s mind was flooded with a plethora of questions, but none of which he could possibly ask if this woman was truly a mere civilian. However, he had broken the silence, and the woman’s oddly captivating eyes were now focused on him.

“…who are you?”, he eventually managed to mutter.

“Oh me? I live right next door. My name is Mitsuzuri Ayako, nice to meet you.”

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‘Father? Wait what?’ Michael thought as he was startled at the sight of the young girl. She had sleek white hair, with vivid red eyes. He was so startled that he immediately saw the Contender on his right hand and immediately tucked it away in the back of his jeans. Afterwards, he tries to address himself to the little girl “Look little lady, I ain’t your da…” he was interrupted after being swept up in a strangling hug by the girl. “Father...it’s been so long, where did you go?” Michael seemed perplexed at her words ‘Is she Taiga’s guest? It doesn’t help that she thinks I’m her father. I gotta clear up this misunderstanding quick!’ He looks down at the girl, her head buried in his chest, her cries being muffled by his black shirt. “Look miss, I am not your dad, and I got to get you get you back to Taiga-san quick okay? We are gonna go back” He gently pushes the girl back. “Can you do that for me.” The girl looks expectantly back at Michael and responds “Okay daddy!”

Immediately, Michael sighs and his face falls looking down on the ground. ‘She called me ‘daddy’ again. Just great.’ He places the tarp over the giant hole in the concrete in the shed, and places several boxes that he moved earlier to cover the tarp. He then closes the large door to the shed, hoping Taiga never uses it for he will not be able to explain the big hole in the ground. Michael then looks back at the girl. “What did I just say? I am not you ‘daddy’. You understand?” He then waits for an answer. “Yes daddy.” Michael seemed stunned at the prospect of being called daddy. The only thought in his head was that Trish must be laughing somewhere in the afterlife at his troubles. “...Kid, you gotta sto…” Suddenly, the girl starts jumping up and down and tries to ask another question “Can I have a piggy back ride?” Michael, again surprised, decides to answer “...Uh, ok, just don’t call me daddy again please?” He kneels down, allowing the girl get on his shoulders for him to raise her up. “Ok, dad!” Another sigh leaves Michael’s mouth, before he carries the girl all the way back to the kitchen.

 

In the Kitchen with both Saber and Taiga

Meanwhile, a heated cooking competition stirred between Taiga and Saber, one that lead to the absolute devastation within the kitchen itself.
“YOU WILL NOT WIN THIS SABER!!!” screamed Taiga as she furiously whisked away in a pan filled with scrambled eggs. “SHUT UP YOU OLD HAG!!!” Saber yelled back as she used her wooden spoon to stir a few ingredients in her own pan on the heater. It wouldn’t take long for them nearly break the faucet, and overheat the oven to cause a small fire.
“YOU BIMBO, YOU CAUSED A FIRE!” yelled Taiga, looking both at the fire, and desperately trying to look for where she could get a bucket to collect water from the broken faucet to put it out. “SHUT UP OLD HAG!!!” as Saber aids Taiga in using pans to fill with water to stop the fire. It took some time, but the two did finally stop the fire, and were somehow able to fix the faucet, albeit temporarily. It needed proper maintenance to properly deal water like a normal faucet.

Both Taiga and Saber were laid out on the mat, leaving behind a mess a in the kitchen. “What the hell happened?” said Saber. “I….don’t know.” replied Taiga, both individuals flabbergasted at the destructive events and forgetting about their respective individuals both have to protect. However, on cue, Michael with Ilya on his back, open up the sliding door directly away from the mess at hand. “Taiga-san, sorry ‘bout this but I found your guest. I’ll need you’re help to take care of a..discrep….” it was then that Michael saw the mess. He looks directly at Saber and Taiga, and realized that their competition has gotten very out of hand. The girl on Michael’s shoulders of course decided to say hi to the two women laid out in front of them, stating “Hi old lady, hi pretty lady…” It was then that the smell of smoke reached the girl’s nose “Cough, cough, what is that smell?” Taiga, incredibly exhausted says “Ilya-chan, we kinda made a mess. Sorry to wake you up. Also, STOP CALLING ME OLD LADY!” Of course, Taiga ends up breaking into a sob, too tired to deal with being called old, and far too exhausted to finish cleaning up the mess at hand. Saber, getting back up, replies to Michael, scratching the back of her head “Sorry ‘bout the mess. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not my fault. Well, not entirely.”

Michael, sighing once again, carefully placed the girl who he knows as Ilya on the ground, and decided to get to work on fixing the big mess the two wom… well girls left behind.

 

Few hours later

It took some time, but Michael was able to get the sink fixed on time, with Ilya assisting him on getting whatever tools he needed. He still got irked from time to time, as Ilya would say “Yes Dad!” and “Ok Daddy!” but he was able to slowly tolerate it. Meanwhile, Saber trained with Taiga, or rather defeated Taiga several times in a mock sword fight. Both utilized wooden swords, and of course Saber easily dodged many of Taiga’s attacks with ease, paying more attention to her master and this new girl. 'He almost looks happy. Did he want a child? were what Saber’s thoughts were. It caused her to also wonder where she got her initial clothes before she got on her shopping spree. 'Was there someone else in his life? Does his wish involve that?' However, her thought process was interrupted as Taiga yells “PAY ATTENTION YOU STUPID BIMBO!” as she goes for an overhead strike at the top of Saber’s head. Saber quickly blocks the strike, and then follows with a sweeping kick to knock Taiga back on her back. Saber then hold her hand out to help Taiga back up. Taiga of course, begrudgingly accepts, standing back up on her feet. “Sorry, I was just kinda distracted a bit.” says Saber. Taiga then comments “You were looking at your boyfriend with Ilya weren’t you? Were you thinking about having children? He does seem quite happy with her, even if he may not admit it.”

“Wha… look he isn’t my boyfriend, and no I don’t plan on having kids!” says Saber slightly flustered. “Anyways, this Ilya girl, is she your granddaughter or something?” Taiga was chuckling at Saber until the mention of being a grandmother was included. “EXCUSE ME? YOU DIDN’T ASK IF I WAS A MOTHER? YOU JUST WENT STRAIGHT TO THAT? I AM NOT THAT OLD!” Saber then calmly replies “Well, Ilya called you grandma so I just thought..” an immediate interruption commences “I AM NOT!!!” Saber chuckles a bit. “Well, who are her parents? She keeps saying that Michael is her dad, but he obviously says no, and I do believe him.” Taiga comments “I never met her mother or her father. Ilya just decided to live her one day, after Shirou brought her along.” She seemed lost in thought. Saber then replies “This Shirou you keep mentioning, he sounds like quite the player bring so many girls with him.” Taiga quickly responds “Oh, I tease him constantly, but he was never like that. He was always a good kid, no a good man. He would always help anyone in need no matter what. He must’ve wanted to help Ilya too, and as annoying as that girl is, I am quite glad she did get to live here.”

Michael then walks towards the duo with Ilya at her side, with the young girl holding tightly to Michael’s finger as well as keeping him away from Saber for some reason. Saber tries to approach her master of course, but Ilya seems to try her best to stop her attempts. “Excuse me Ilya-chan, what are you doing?” asks Saber. Ilya grumbles and then says “Don’t try to use your charms on my Dad you skank!” Michael lets out a small chuckle. Saber, flabbergasted responds with a “WHAT!? Why aren’t you afraid of Taiga approaching him then?” responding to the fact that Ilya does not try to get in Taiga’s way, allowing her for idle chit chat with Michael. Ilya then quickly replies “She is an ugly old lady. She doesn’t stand a chance with my dad so I’m not worried.” Taiga, hearing this, smacks Ilya at the top of her head. “WHAT DID YOU SAY!?” screams Taiga. Ilya’s only reply is “Owowowow!”

Michael, embarrassed at these chain of events speaks to Ilya “Ilya-chan, don’t be mean. Apologize to the young women here.” Ilya frowns a bit “But Tiger-san isn’t..” Michael interjects “Ilya..” Ilya finally gives in. “Okay...Dad.” Michael sighs once more. “We really need to stop you from calling me dad.” Ilya bows to both Taiga and Saber, giving them a sincere, or as close as she could get to sincere, apology. It didn’t work entirely between Taiga and Ilya however, as it lead to another argument between the two. This gave Saber the chance to actually talk to her master.

“Yo, Master. I see you have even more girl troubles than before eh.” Michael, irritated at this response replies “Look, just call me Michael, I feel I told you that already. Next, my only troubles seem to be with you. What was with that huge mess with Taiga?” Saber replies “Come on, she is just super competitive and really stubborn. It’s not my fault she doesn’t know when to quit.” Michael then says “Just let her win once. It may calm her down.” Saber this time around smacks Michael at the top of the head. “You don’t understand proud warriors like her Michael. She would immediately know if I was holding back, (which I always do and I think it already irritates her), but letting her win would be the biggest insult to her as a fighter.” Michael, realizing the meaning behind Saber’s words then replies “Okay, just try not to make a mess.” Saber, deciding to continue her conversation with her master, asks “So, I’m guessing you want to stay for a bit?” Michael turns his head towards his servant “We don’t have time. Plus, while I have several weapons in the trunk, the bigger payload is back home. We have to pack and get ready to move out to Alastor’s hideout, wherever that is.” Saber then interjects “We got all the time in the world, and besides, I never saw you smile so much before until today. You must really like kids, although I hope not in a creepy way...although that may explain why you don’t seem too attracted to me.”  Michael, getting furious replies “Saber!” Noticing her Master’s irritation replies “Sorry, sorry, just joking around. On a more serious note, you were married before, right? That would explain the ring. Did you two have children?” Michael merely replies with silence, which lead to Saber to continue her statements. “Hmm, are you fighting in this war to bring someone back? Your child? Your wife?” Michael then stops speaking softly to her “Please stop Saber.” Saber, in a gentle, and much more serious tone than she usually gives responds “I apologize Master, but may I offer a suggestion.” She looks towards Ilya and Taiga. “Let’s camp here for a bit, until we're ready to go pack up and go out that is. Besides, Ilya-chan would be so sad that Daddy-kun just up and left you know.”

Michael then slightly smiles and responds “Shut up Saber…” until Ilya runs up to him, grabbing his right hand. “Let’s go play daddy!” Michael then says “What did I say about calling me that?” and then goes off to run off with her, carrying her on his back for another piggy back ride. Saber simply looks on at Michael, thinking aloud 'Why did I have to have a master like him? Is this some sick joke? He is just like…' Taiga walks up to Saber interrupting her line of thought. “Is something wrong Saber?” Saber responds to Taiga, looking on to her master. “No, it’s nothing….”

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A few days later...
 
Fuyuki Harbor - 05.13 PM
 
The night was approaching at the harbor, the final wave of ships leaving the harbor for the day was having their final inspections all the while most of the harbor's workers were going home for the night, leaving behind an unfortunate few who will continue to work until the morning of the next day.
 
A small yatch docks at one of the piers.The yatch seemed to be originally white, the paint had turned slightly yellow out of use. After a few moments, a lean man stepped out of the boat, wearing a black jacket, shirt, and trousers, directly contrasting the color of the boat. The man was carrying a dark blue duffel bag and pulling a large purple briefcase onto the pier. The man looks around the pier, trying to find a familiar face, giving up after a few minutes and walked in the direction of the city instead. Passing through one of the harbor's workers, the man in the black jacket stopped him.
 
"Is Mr Devenish not around?" He asked the worker. The worker paused for a moment. "You mean the old man? Heard he went on a vacation. New Zealand or something." Replied the worker. A slight smile formed on the man's face. "Is that so? Well tell him I said hello." The man replied before continuing to walk towards the city. "Yeah, sure thing." Replied the worker who stood there for a moment, squinting his eyes trying to recall the man's identity. When the worker realized that he didn't actually know who the man was, he was already gone.
Edited by A Random Player

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January 19th
Fuyuki Zoo - 02.07 AM
Miyama Town, Fuyuki
 
It was late at night, the zoo was devoid of people save for a few guards, who seemed to be staying in place, unmoving except to breath. In the midst of the zoo, a large man was walking by his long white hair reaching his back and a thick white beard covering half his face. Although the color of his hair would usually indicate old age and frailness, the opposite can be used to describe the man. With a posture not unlike that of a soldier and the size to match, not to mention his attire, consisting of a brown robe tied with a sash and leather pants. If there were anybody around to see him, he would definitely draw quite a lot of stares.
 
Rider can't help but admire the era he had been summoned to. The flickering lights, the horseless metal chariots they call 'cars', and buildings with heights rivaling mountains. Even though the knowledge of their existence had been imparted unto him by the Throne of Heroes, seeing them through his own eyes is nonetheless still an eye-opening experience. It may be the case that these 'inventions' are humankind's blasphemous attempts to breach the territory of the Lord, but the mere fact that they accomplished so much is in itself beyond impressive. The boat they were just on until yesterday is itself proof of humanity's accomplishment. To think that sails were considered revolutionary during his time, their boat had the ability to move using neither that nor rows, rather using what they named propellers on the bottom of the boat, spinning to propel the boat forwards. And yet these advancements seems to have come at the expense of nature. Such as the sky right above his head, where Rider can barely see a single star compared to his era where the night sky always seemed to be blanketed by white dots as far as the eye can see. There is after all, always a price to be paid for blasphemy.
 
His master soon approached from one of the cages. "Alright Rider, that should be all of them I can manage, are you ready?" Rider nodded. Lifting his right arm slightly, a few gate like images opened around him, exiting from each an animal. A lion, a hawk, an elephant, and 2 wolves, his master nodded in approval. "This should be enough to occupy the rest of them for a while." His Master took a glance at his right hand, wrapped in a red shroud. It was quite obvious that it bothered him quite a lot, and yet he had said nothing about it. Quickly noticing Rider's attention, his Master pulled away his glance. "Return to Spirit Form, Rider. The less people notice you the better, we're going to pay another Master a visit." As Rider took on Spirit Form, his Master started to head for the zoo's exit.
 
As they were approaching to exit, his Master asked. "I trust you have taken care of the cameras?" "Yes Master." Replied Rider. His Master then got into the black sedan they had rented and drove away from the zoo, where the alarms blared soon after.
 
----------------
 
2.40 AM
Shinto, Fuyuki
 
Rider and his Master were standing across an apartement building. The building was L-shaped and painted in white, boasting at the very least 15 stories from what Rider can observe. It would've been quite awe-inspiring in his era but in this it is no more than another building in the forest of bricks and mortar.
 
"Where do you think they are Rider?" His Master suddenly asked. While his pigeons saw the Master they were hunting enter the building, they have yet to confirm where they were in the building. Searching the entire building would waste a lot of time and would give said Master plenty of time to escape. Yet knowing all that, his Master did not seem worried in the slightest, Rider assuming he has already figured it out. "I believe you know, Master." Replied Rider. "I read a bit about the Semina Apartements. Room one on the 11th floor has been apparently abandoned for quite a while, it was reportedly 'haunted' after a family suicide occcured in that room. And yet now it stands occupied." His Master explained. He did have it figured out as Rider had suspected.
 
"This other Master we're looking for is there then?" Rider asked, though he already knew the answer. "That's what we're here to confirm. Can you get us there from here stealthily?" Asked his Master. Rider raised an eyebrow "What would be the point of that Master? The other Master had most likely set up one of those 'Bounded Field' around his area of residence. They would be aware of our presence as soon as we step inside of it." Has his Master done a miscalculation? This would be the first time Rider witnessed it. But his Master merely smiled. "Excellent assessment Rider. But I was talking about room TWO on the 11th floor. In particular, that window." His Master asked pointing towards what seems to be a kitchen window. Rider nodded, it appears his Master had thought of everything after all. Slowly stepping backwards, his Master then ran to the edge of the building they were on, jumping towards the window, missing it by a few inches. Rider then materialized holding the window with his left arm and grabbed his Master's outstretched right arm with his own. Pulling his Master towards the window, he opened it and went inside the building, Rider following suit.
 
The inside of the building was quite dark, there were artificial light sources in the room, though it is not currently activated, leaving the room barely illuminated by the moonlight. Before they had the chance to do anything however, a young woman saw them, and his Master unfazed, immediately activating his Mental Interference magic commanding the young woman to "Freeze for a minute." However, she instead started to back away before starting to run, seemingly trying to grab something. "Rider!" his Master immediately called, and Rider leapt towards the woman's position and hit her on the head, knocking her out.
Edited by A Random Player

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Homurahara Academy, Miyama Town / January 19th, Early Afternoon

An arrow traced a beautiful arc in the air as it swiftly crossed the full length of the shooting-range, deeply embedding itself into the very center of the circular target set up at it’s very end.

Nearly two weeks had passed since Helmut and Archer had set up their new home in the Semina Apartment Building after their previous hideout had been discovered and destroyed by the enemy Caster. Following the two consecutive public incidents, both of which Archer was involved in, Helmut received an order from the Association to stand down until the damage could be fully repaired, seeing as they could not afford Archer instigating yet another scandal that could potentially overwhelm the limited capacity of the clean-up crew sent by the Association. As such, Helmut and Archer remained holed up in their apartment for two full weeks. Two weeks spent on expanding on their arsenal. However, this change in environment also brought with it an unexpected change, an uncertainty taking the shape of their neighbor Mitsuzuri Ayako. Having somehow managed to penetrate Helmut’s establish Bounded Fields by means Helmut had yet to figure out, Ayako proved to be exceptionally social, and with no other choice but to remain at home anyway, made fast friends with the Master and Servant of the Archer Camp.

Earlier that day, a Sunday, Ayako invited her neighbors to accompany her to her weekly exercise for which she would cross the river over to Miyama Town. Restless from their inactivity, Helmut and Paris agreed to come along with the intention of getting a first look at the territory that remained yet unexplored by them, considering themselves protected by the company of a civilian. Unexpectedly, Ayako’s destination turned out to be the local high-school, or more specifically, the the shooting-range utilized by its Archery Club. Ayako had promptly changed into fitting attire and calmly performed the precise bodily movements iconic to Kyūdō, each step placing her into a serene meditative state. When she finally released the arrow, Helmut suddenly realized that he had held his breath for the entire duration of her performance.

“Just like a magus…”, Helmut contemplated as he admired the beauty of her technique.

Her cool yet focused expression was very unlike the carefree smile she would usually wear in his presence, but it was nigh indistinguishable from the trance he himself would go into when performing high thaumaturgical rituals. What he witnessed was a human who had achieved what magi were trained to master from early childhood, yet with martial technique alone. Not because she was forced to by her parents, but out of unadulterated passion for the art. For a magus like himself, it was hard not to be captivated by her performance.

Next to him, another person likewise sounded his approval with a soft whistle, not loud enough to disturb the bow-woman, but enough to make his thoughts known.

“That woman. I had a hunch after spending seeing the way she carried herself, but she’s got talent. More importantly, she got the will to capitalize on it and allow for it’s growth. What a waste, if only she had a proper mentor…”, Paris whispered solemnly for his Master’s ears.

“Is that jealousy I hear? How unbecoming of you Archer.”

“Not jealousy. Rather I lament the fact that she wasn’t born in my era when Troy lacked for mighty heroes. You might joke, but were she just 10 years younger, would you even so much as hesitate to take her as your disciple?”

“…”, Helmut merely kept his eyes looking forward, his silence answer enough for his Servant.

“Either way, an interesting specimen she might be Master, but we are in enough danger as is. We use her for cover, nothing more.”

“I’m a magus Archer.”

“Then don’t let it get to your head. That’s all I have to say.”

Before Helmut had the chance to reply, Archer had already jumped to his feet to receive Ayako who had just finished with her exercise, cordially voicing his admiration and interest for the art of Kyūdō. Pointing Paris towards the rack of bows and arrows, Ayako casually seated herself next to Helmut and relaxed herself against the wooden wall serving as their backrest. Her focused expression had now molten away to reveal her usual smile.

“Ahhh that was pretty embarrassing, having you guys watch me after being alone for so long~”, Ayako joked, though it was clear that she wasn’t bothered by their presence in the least.

“Embarrassed? I was under the impression that we ceased to exist the moment you picked up your bow.”

Ayako’s eyes briefly flashed, “Right, it’s easy to forget myself when I’m going through the motions, I’m surprised you noticed. Do you…?”

“No, my family was never one for the arts, but I guess it would be correct to say that I meditate from time to time?”

“Hm, by the way, while we’re on that topic…”, Ayako lazily stretched her arms above her head as she kept her eyes on Paris, making sure that he didn’t mishandle any of the equipment he was technically borrowing without permission, “…you said you went to school in Europe, right?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Well… do you happen to know a school called Clocktower?”

Helmut’s body tensed at the mention of the name, the back of his neck assaulted by a slight shudder as his mind reacted to the suspicious question posed by the bow-women beside him.

“Is she a mage? Or the heir of a dying household like the Matou?”, Helmut carefully considered before formulating a safe response.

“…I went there to complete my studies. How do you know of it?”

“You went there!?”, Ayako’s body perked up at his reply, her eyes now widened and filled with desperate hope, a show of emotion very uncharacteristic of her usually composed demeanor, “Then have you heard of somebody called Tohsaka? Tohsaka Rin?”

“!?”

Helmut had to suppress the urge to reach for the Azoth Dagger in his inner pocket as Ayako carelessly dropped the name of the missing heir of the Tohsaka; even Archer, who had been merrily mimicking Ayako’s previous movements as he strung a borrowed bow, halted his actions and carefully listened to what came next.

“She knows about the Tohsaka, so she must be a mage, or rather a descendant of a dried up bloodline. A Master then? If so, then she could have attacked me at any time in these past two weeks, so does not seem hostile. Not yet at least. More importantly, I don’t sense a shred of magical energy from her…”

His eyes narrowed as he warily continued the conversation.

“What is the heir of the Tohsaka to you? Were your families allies?”

“Allies? What do you mean, Tohsaka was my friend back in high-school.”

“Wait… friends?”

“Yeah, I’d even go as far as to say that we hit it off pretty well, but 10 years ago she just up and left. Not just her, Emiya and the Matous just disappeared from one day to the next as well. Sure they were close, but without saying a word… and in the middle of the year too, it just didn’t make any sense you know? But Tohsaka always said that she wanted to go to London after she graduated, a pretty costly private university called Clocktower, so I had to try and ask… I’ve tried everything else already…”

Helmut opened his mouth but no words came out. He didn’t know what to say. She just outed herself to be a civilian after all, though by chance she seemed to have befriended one of the foremost players in the previous Holy Grail War that was held in this country. The worry she now showed for her friend’s disappearance was only too relatable. Almost painfully so.

But what could he tell her?

As a civilian he couldn’t tell her the truth, not that the Association had any idea what happened 10 years ago anyway, so he simply had to lie to her… so why did he hesitate?

“She… our parents used to work together…”, Helmut finally forced out, eliciting another hopeful gasp from Ayako, “…but I don’t think she ever enrolled at Clocktower, I’m sorry. I know as much as you do in that regard.”

Ayako momentarily froze, then leaned back while brushing the hair that had fallen into her face behind her ear, “Oh, no that makes sense. I guess I just got my hopes up after remembering that you’re from Europe and all.”

A melancholic smile graced her lips, her shoulders now slightly slumped and tired. Unnoticed by the two of them, Paris had continued his mimicry of Ayako’s display of Japanese Archery.

Neither of the two said a word and simple let the sound of whizzing arrows fill the practice hall.

“You know, you kind of feel the same.”

“...what do you mean?”, Helmut still felt a little awkward from their earlier conversation and could only respond accordingly, that being evasively.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not flattering you or anything, it’s just that you and Tohsaka are… similar, which is probably why I find it so easy to talk to you about all this. Both of you are pretty distant but don’t shun others, and both of you seem like you carry yourself with a higher purpose but still bother with listening to the problems of others. Some may call it high-and-mighty but I’ve always admired that about Tohsaka.”

Ayako chuckled softly, but her eyes still carried a tinge of sadness.

“And it certainly helps that the two of your are loaded. Just look at this…”, Ayako tucked her hair behind her ear to show off an obsidian crystal stud, a simple accessory previously concealed by her trimmed haircut, “…she gave these to my on the birthday after we started getting along, not everybody does that you know?”

While Ayako dismissed it as a joke and continued talking, Helmut was hit by a sudden realization. The earrings. Crystals. The fact that the Tohsaka were adept at Jewelmancy. Ayako’s apparent immunity to his Bounded Field now made perfect sense, the earrings gifted to her by Tohsaka acted as a magical amulet powerful enough to nullify the effects of Bounded Fields targeted at the mind, the subconscious, and with a mage as adept as a Tohsaka crafting the amulet it would go without saying that a simply ritual like Helmut’s would be instantly overpowered. But that raised another question. Why? Why would Tohsaka Rin give a civilian like Ayako such a powerful amulet?

It was then that Archer returned from his attempt at pretended Archery.

“You’re not too shabby with the bow Paris. Your form was terrible, but you’re a deadly shot”, Ayako explained with a faultless smile, the shift in atmosphere caused by Archer’s appearance perfect for lifting the mood for everybody involved.

“There is more to Japanese Bowmanship that I had initially thought. It seems my Western style is almost brutish in comparison to your artistic performance.”

“Oh please, I’m still mad that you managed to outperform me just when I thought that I finally managed to surpass a rival underclassmen of mine. But if you want to I can show you the basic steps. It normally takes years, but you’re clearly adept with the bow already, now it’s just a matter of stringing it without brute force.”

“Of course, I’ll look forward to learning from you.”

“…”, Helmut watched their interaction with a concealed frown, the scene of Archer pretending to be a humbled student too bizarre for his liking. Obviously Paris meant what he said in jest, but it was odd regardless.

Either way, Helmut needed to discuss his findings with Archer as soon as possible.

“Are we even allowed to do that?”, he chimed in, “To use school facilities on Sundays?”

“As long as we clean up it’s fine. On top of being an alumni I’m also a former president of the Archery Club, plus I’m good with the teachers”, Ayako dismissed his worries just like that, “But that being said, I’m only done with my warm-up so I should probably get back to it. I don’t mind you staying, but…”

“It’s fine, it was time we were on our way anyways, I’d feel terrible if we continued to interrupt.”

“Don’t bother, it’s more fun with more people, it brings back memories of the old days.”

Helmut nodded and Paris said his farewells beside him as he left for the door. Helmut took a second longer to change into his shoes.

“And Helmut…”, he stopped at the door as he heard Ayako’s voice coming from the dojo, “…thanks for listening. It’s been a while since I talked to someone about this.”

“…anytime”, he promised and closed the door.

------------------------------

Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 19th, Half an Hour Later

“Are you sure you are alright with opening yourself up to her like that? Your conversation was not hard to overhear, Master”, Archer chided Helmut on their way back home, having taken time to scope out Miyama Town on their way back to no avail.

“I’m not opening myself up Archer, I gathered information, valuable one at that. If that means that I must befriend her then so be it. What about you, since when has a Prince subjected himself to the role of a student that easily?”

Archer merely shrugged at this Master’s reply, “Spare me your retort. That woman has fire in her heart whereas you are merely an empty husk of a magus. I find that playing the role of a mortal human is rather amusing, but you are too young to separate your emotions from your actions just yet.”

“I’m a magus, Archer. I know where my priorities lie.”

“If you say so. Then what of that information you gathered? Of what significance are those earrings?”

“They are defensive amulets crafted by the last surviving Tohsaka heir. It’s more than a dwindling product, it’s an access key to their manor. While the Association might have raided the mansion for thaumaturgical knowledge, they kept the Bounded Field intact to prevent non-magi from accidentally stumbling into one of this city’s precious leylines. Do you understand now? We don’t know for how long we can rely on the Church, and the leyline at the Fuyuki Park is too risky to access in our current condition. That leaves Ryuudou Temple and the Tohsaka Mansion, but the Temple is too open and exposed and doesn’t suit itself to your ability, whereas the Tohsaka Mansion is the perfect hideout. With the help of that amulet we’ll be able to secure a better defensible leyline.”

“I see, then how do you propose we use these amulets? You don’t plan on stealing them from her, no, I’ve watched you long enough to know what you intend to do with her.”

“I don’t believe I am in the wrong.”

“Your family would disagree.”

“They would disagree with a lot of things, especially if they were to find out about my wish for the Grail. No, this is the right choice. You yourself have appraised her.”

“As a skilled martial artist. Not a warrior. Not a killer. While her skill with the bow and the spear might be exemplary for human standards, it was perfected for the purpose of meditation and aesthetics, not killing. Don’t argue with reason when what you seek are excuses, Master.”

“…then would you disagree with my choice?”

“I am impartial to a matter as small and insignificant as this one, though I would be loathe to lose a competent sparring partner for no other reason but my own Master’s sentimentality.”

“It might be necessary in the future, Archer. We are fighting a losing battle, and must make use of whatever means we can get our hands on.”

“Then that is what we must do. This is your choice, I will leave it up to you to make it when the time comes. That being said…”, Archer and Helmut had just arrived at the lobby of their apartments when they were met with two large aged barrels deposited next to the wall designated for the residents’ mailboxes, “…what are those?”

“Wine.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s wine. Wine that has been aged by my family for multiple generations, each time filled with more and more of my ancestor’s magical energy. We could hardly justify an art as expensive as Jewelmancy, so my family used the next best vessel. Whether wine was truly the best option, or whether by ancestors simply wanted to find more use for their cultivated vineyards, this is my family’s treasure, or at least as close to one as we can get. It’s what I would have originally used to attempt to break through to this land’s leyline.”

“You would have performed the ritual to leech this city of it’s energy… with wine?”

“Stop your mockery and help me out. The barrels are old so you need to be careful in handling them.”

“As you wish… Master.”

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Taiga’s Dojo (Emiya Residence), January 20th, 2020, Around 2:00 AM

Taiga was quite adamant at defeating her sworn rival Saber that she aimed at dueling her far past midnight until she could somehow defeat the unstoppable warrior. It almost seemed for the hundredth time that Taiga screams “Duryaaaa!” as she charges straight at Saber. However, despite even Saber even giving out a yawn to display a sign of exhaustion, Taiga ends up failing to strike at the servant once again, with Saber swiftly ducking to the left. The immediate counter arrives, with Saber swinging around with her wooden sword striking Taiga’s right heel with enough force to knock Taiga off balance, leaving her back laid out on the mat.

“You know, I think I have beaten you about 100 times already, or at least it feels like a 100. I'm starting to get kinda sleepy.” Saber states to Taiga after reaching out her hand to aid her up. "How 'bout we call it a day, shall we Tiger-san." A quiet “Rrrrrr…” emits from Taiga's mouth, irritated at being called Tiger as she is being lifted back up by Saber. Once she is standing back up on her feet, she tries to ignore the derivative comment of her nickname and decides to comment on Saber’s own inhuman performance. “How do you move so ridiculously fast. The only other person who seems to move that fast that I have fought before is the other weirdo with the same name as you. Speaking of which, are you two somehow from the same country? Is that why you two have the same name?” Saber opens up the sliding door, going to look for a shower before she goes to bed to sleep since it was so severely late. “We might, my name is a bit more common there I suppose” Saber replies back without really thinking on her response. Taiga then asks “Well, where do you come from?” Saber starts leaving the building to head straight to the showers. “Sorry Taiga-san, kinda tired and I need to take a shower. We’ll continue this conversation tomorrow.”

The servant begins walking outside while Taiga comments “Of course she skips out on that question.” Saber enters the main central building, walking through the hallway to walk into the door to the bathroom. Once inside, she strips her clothes, enters the bath, and turns on the shower-head, allowing the water to land softly on her skin. It is there that she contemplates the events that have passed beforehand. She thinks about her time volunteering at the dojo, teaching some of her students a few new sword techniques unknown to them beforehand, while also sparring against Taiga time after time, defeating her each time. She also remembers the time that Michael seemed to fondly take care of Ilya, almost as if he was her own father. Saber recalls Ilya aiding Michael in fixing the oven after the whole fiasco of a fire due to her fierce cooking competition with Taiga. It was there that Saber saw how he taught Ilya how different tools seemed to function, and how screwdriver was used for different screws and such. Of course, besides these lessons, Michael would give Ilya several piggyback rides, while forcing Saber herself to be some sort of monster to chase the two in some sort strange piggyback tag. It would be the only time Saber would get to interact with Ilya, as most of the other times the two interact, it involves Ilya standing in front of Michael as if to shield him from her. ‘What, does she think I plan to take him away from her?’ Of course, after further thought, Ilya may be right to defend Michael from her, as he himself had a few practice matches himself against Saber. Their first match was with the wooden swords, which he ended doing far worse than Taiga in that match up. It was after this that Michael challenged Saber to hand to hand combat. Of course, Saber made sure to hold back a considerable amount of her strength, but Michael put up much more of a fight in this endeavor. However, he only lasted an extra few seconds, unable to match up to Saber’s own unorthodox style of close quarters combat. It was after her victory that Ilya came to shield Michael, which left him in a constant state of laughter for his own reaction at his new protector. ‘That girl is quite fond of him, and he seems to care quite a bit for her. I guess it kinda makes sense that she does call him father.’ Saber starts finishing up her shower, turning off the faucet, while contemplating her own Master’s fighting style. ‘He isn’t too bad I guess. He put up a better fight than most of my students. He almost reminds me of him.’  It was this reminder that seemed to slightly make her a bit more somber. She shakes her head, seemingly trying to shake off those weary memories while drying herself off with her towel. ‘I need to forget about him. Besides, I should be more focused for our meeting with Caster and that Alastor fellow at his hideout tomorrow.’

Once she was done drying herself, she put on a new set of pajamas she bought from the mall a while back. After putting on her blue and white striped pajamas, she decided to go look for the bed where her master would be sleeping at, hoping to annoyingly tease him once again. Of course, the main reason she desired such attention of her master was for the fact that he seemed to be one of the few men so far who did not seem to be susceptible to her charms. It seemed that Michael just shared another similarity to her old comrade from her past lifetime, and that seemed to bother her tremendously.

After she leaves, the shower, she roams the building to find the bed from where her master is located to sleep next to him. However, instead she finds that little girl already annoyingly sleeping at the side of his bed, holding on to his arm. 'He must have been unaware of this girl's presence.' She looks on at Ilya, the amnesiac girl with the strange white hair and red eyes. 'Oh, what a nuisance! She must have planned for this to ruin my plans to annoy Master.' However, before Saber could think of a plan to quietly move Ilya to another bed, a huge BOOM was heard right outside. The noise loud enough to wake up Michael and Ilya. Michael, unaware of Ilya's presence, was going to ask why the little girl was sleeping on his bed, a noise that seemed to come from an elephant was audibly heard inside, causing him to quickly suit up, wearing his belt with his hidden guns, and his leather jacket containing his magazines. He looks at Ilya, "Stay close to me, understand?" The little girl nods, and closely follows behind Michael. Saber, grabbing Michael by his jacket, tells him, let me take point, we don't know what we are currently dealing with at the moment. 

As the group walked outside, an unusual sight seemed to play out before their eyes.  An elephant loudly squealing out in front of the dojo with a possibly frightened, or insanely brave Taiga out in front, with a wooden sword readied to fight the beast. "What the hell is thinking?" yelled Michael. He looked at Saber, and was about to order something as he says her name loudly "Saber..!" The servant immediately responds, "I know already!" and materializes her summoned gown with her sword. She runs right in for Taiga to save her from getting stomped on by the elephant just in the nick of time with her insane speed, immediately  throwing her into the fighting dojo that Taiga came out of. "Stay here, okay?!" Taiga, befuddled at the strange outfit that Saber was wearing, was too stunned to respond back as Saber went out to fight the elephant.

It was there that Taiga witnessed a sight to behold. Saber, deciding not to use her sword to harm the animal, decided to knock out the creature with her applied knowledge of pressure points. It would unusual to apply this knowledge to an elephant rather than a human like she was taught, but if there was any better time to wing it, it would be know. Using her quick agility, she dashed all over the animal, karate chopping each of the supposed pressure points with superhuman pressure. However, she noticed that the hide of the animal was much harder than expected, almost like there was an extra barrier protecting this already sturdy elephant. Deciding to apply even more pressure to her strikes, she dashes all around the animal, hitting it sides with palm strikes and the like. It causes the animal to lurch from side to side, ill prepared for the sudden force of these strikes. It wouldn't take long for the creature to pass out as Saber walked out in front towards Taiga with her hand scratching the back of her head out of embarassment for showing her superhuman abilities in front of Taiga.

"Woops. You really shouldn't have seen that." said Saber as she seemed unsure of how to really explain this phenomena to a  jaw dropped Taiga. Michael face palmed as Ilya seemed unsure herself of the miracle she saw. It however didn't seem to stun Ilya as much as it did Taiga. For some reason, the young girl felt familiar with this strange miracle.

Michael picked up the young girl quickly and dropped her by Taiga. He then looked back at Saber and whispered "What the hell are you doing?" Saber quickly responds back "We have bigger problems. That elephant had some sort of shield around it." Michael, hearing this detail replies back "It's magic, isn't it. A master tried to attack us." He looks down pensively, thinking of his next move. 

"We need to find Alastor, he may be able to help us." Saber replies "Agreed, but uh, what do we do with them?" Michael looks back at Taiga. "I'm really sorry Taiga-san, but we will have to explain this later." He then looked at Ilya. "Stay with Taiga-san okay?" He looked back at Saber. "Let's get to the car, we gotta go."

Both the master and the servant get in his car, with him opening his trunk to check all his supplies would be in order. He then went to the driver seat quickly, temporarily leaving the trunk open to check for a pistol in his drawer by the dashboard. 

Ilya, looking at the dazed and unaware Taiga, still shocked at the sight she has witnessed, decided to take this opportunity and quickly hide in the trunk while Saber is seating in the front passenger seat and with Michael in the front looking for his extra pistol. Once he finds it, he goes back to close the Trunk behind him, unaware  he left Ilya hiding to join the two on their new, dangerous adventure.

Edited by bioky858
Time Retcon

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 20th, 02:43

“Master!”

Helmut awoke from his Servant’s strained whisper. His forceful grip on his shoulder pressed him for urgency while the finger at his lips reminded him to to be quiet.

“A Servant and Master have just scaled the wall of the building, we are under attack!”, Paris conveyed over their mental link once his Master’s mind was conscious.

“What!? Now!?”, Helmut flushed his body with magical energy to instantly dispel the sluggishness of sleep and applied basic reinforcement before he jumped out of bed towards one of his suitcases containing his Azoth Daggers, his bare body exposed as he wore only a pair of sweatpants to bed, “Can you make out who it is? Why haven’t they attacked yet?”

“They seem to have entered the neighboring room for some reason. They gave up the opportunity of a surprise attack, might they be friendly?”

“No, treat them as hostile. They have invaded our territory without warning at night, they must be aware of the consequences of their actions. Archer, who is it?”

“Neither Caster nor Lancer, this signature is new to me.”

“Call for Hera then, we need to hit them hard.”

“I cannot string my bow fast enough to prepare for a second attack, not when drawing it back to the maximum of my ability.”

“I will take care of the wall, shoot the moment you can confirm a visual.”

Helmut opened the clasps on the suitcase and tossed it into the air, casting minor air thaumaturgy to make its contents float beside him.
Archer materialized his armor and bow, pulling back the arrow he nocked on his string to its utmost limit.

Master and Servant locked eyes for a brief second. They nodded in unison.

“Ursprung”, Helmut chanted after throwing three of the Azoth daggers in his vicinity at the wall connecting them to the opposite room, each spread out evenly from each other, while using his free hand to grab a handful of more daggers and raising them above his head.

Arbiter of the Gods. I declare thee, Queen of Heaven, as the pinnacle of beauty!

As Archer’s words left his lips the activation of his Noble Phantasm surged to life; Aphrodite’s blessings was faultlessly replaced by the gift of Hera. The effects were apparent immediately. This room, this building, the very land they stood upon he now claimed for himself. The power of worship filled his body with each breath as his very existence was restructured to adapt the changes caused by his Noble Phantasm. The attack that should have normally been a Rank C attack now carried the weight of a blow at Rank A.

“Master, now!”

Helmut activated the thaumaturgy contained in his daggers and released it into the world, causing an immediate reaction as the air around the three Azoth Daggers was suddenly pushed outwards by an abrupt force, slightly denting the wall and creating a near-perfect vacuum around the point of origin. With a burst of mana, the thaumaturgy collapsed in on itself and caused an erratic chain implosion as the opposing differences in pressure violently crushed anything within the magical vacuum and instantly tore down the wall.

Then, as if on cue, Paris unleashed his attack the moment he confirmed the presence of the enemy Servant, his eyes scanning the rest of the apartment the second his arrow took flight.

“Master, the enemy Master is near the kitchen, I shall keep the Servant at bay.”

Helmut moved without bothering with a reply and flung the projectiles he had prepared across the broken wall without taking proper aim in an attempt to disperse them evenly across the room.

Their combined assault was faultless and swift. Everything want according to plan until-

“Ayako!”

The pair spotted a woman at the feet of the enemy Servant.

“Focus on the enemy Master. The conflict is over as soon as you can kill him.”

“No Archer, they can use her as a civilian hostage, our actions will be limited if they use her as a shield.”

“Master, my aim won’t miss even if-”

“Cover me.”

“Master!”

Helmut channeled his mana once more and invoked a basic thaumaturgical spell aimed at Ayako meant to invoke a powerful gale to propel her body towards their side of the room. However it was a rushed attempt, one made after they had already lost their element of surprise, giving the enemy plenty of opportunity to interfere.

All he could do now was to await his opponent’s response.

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January 20th, 2020, Around 2:20 AM

As Michael began driving his car towards the epicenter of this current disaster, he couldn’t help but grimace at the sight of all this destruction illuminated by the headlights of his car beneath the dark sky. Buildings and stores were wrecked beyond repair, with glass getting shattered, and several animals, particularly primate, and chimpanzees just causing a huge mess within a few other convenience stores. It didn’t help that there was plenty of traffic, consisting of several empty cars which are from people who abandoned their vehicles to get away from these violent animals. The worst part of it all was that a huge elephant was trying plow through the cars, stepping right over them. “What the hell?” were the words erupting from Michael’s mouth, a perfect representation of the onslaught seen before him. “My words exactly master. We need to find Alastor quickly. This is a mess that is far too much to handle, even for me.” Saber comments herself. It didn’t help that a few more chimpanzees noticed the occupying vehicle holding Michael and Saber, and started running right at it. They jumped onto the hood, and tried to bang at the windshield and the side windows to break inside to attack the driver and its passengers. It was at the sound of this banging that Ilya started to yelp out in fear.

At the sound of her small scream, Michael’s eyes widened in fear. “What...WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE ILYA!?” Saber crawled into the back, opening the back seat to the trunk to see Ilya in shock, hiding under the many boxes of ammo and weapons. “Little girl, you shouldn’t be here!” Ilya, cowering in the back, talked in a nervous tone “I just wanted to go with you. I didn’t want you to be charmed out of your money out this weird lady.” Saber, facepalming, tells Ilya “Are you serious!? I really don’t plan on doing that Ilya-chan. I promis-” Michael interjects quickly “Saber, get in the back with Ilya to protect her.” He pulls out a glock fastened in the belt of his pants, and starts to aim quickly and fire at the chimpanzee banging at the side window to the driver seat, slowly cracking the glass to break it. However, before he could fire his shot, a sudden force somehow topples the car over, crushing the chimpanzees to the left side of the car. “Oh sh…!” Michael was able to mouth out as the car was being knocked over, with the 3 passengers unable to see what is knocking the car over. “AAAaahhhh!” was what Ilya starts to scream, terrified at the dangerous event at hand. Saber, needing to save her master and Ilya, unfastens her seatbelt, and pulls out her sword, materializing on her waist, along with the rest of the clothing from her time period. She slashes at the driver side of the car which is slammed down on the concrete, opening up a portal, and looks back on the other side which was staring straight at the sky. She catches a glimpse at the top of one of the buildings, and grabs both Ilya and Saber through the portal. Once through, the 3 find themselves on the roof of the very building that Saber was able to glance at.

She glances back and see the portal close behind her. “Phew, that was a close one.” said Saber looking onto the chaos on the streets. Ilya, on hands and knees, seemed to have an expression of shock on her face. Michael looks down to see the expression of the girl. “Crap, we have a ton to explain now.” He kneels down and softly puts Ilya in hug. “It’s okay Ilya-chan, we’re safe now.” Saber, looking back at her master, begins to be stuck in a bit of thought. ‘Master is right. How do we explain this portal thing to her? Never mind the fact that we seem to be stuck in some sort of zoopocalypse.’ “Master, we should leave her immediately with the girl. It isn’t safe with her here.” Saber then says “I don’t really like this plan, but I can take her quickly away from here back to the dojo while you stay and try to get Taiga and the others together.” Michael stands up, surprised that Saber would suggest such a plan, as it was one of his first ideas that came to mind. “I would like to agree to it, but something tells me this whole mess was caused-” “By another Master right?” Saber finishes Michael’s line of thought. Michael replies back “Yeah, and it may not be a smart idea to separate if the master and his servant are around her observing the chaos. There would be no way to safely find Taiga and her students safely in this mess on my own.” He looks back at Ilya, and picks her up, holding her like a child as she seemed quite shaken and startled. “It may not be ideal, but I’ll focus on keeping Ilya safe. I need you to protect us both. Can you do that Saber?” Saber smiles back at Michael, and holds up a thumbs up “Can do Masterino!” Michael, sighing then says “Please don’t say that again.” Saber replies “Yeah...it sounded kinda lame to me too.” The two look down to see where their car, which was knocked over is.

They notice the huge rhinoceros next to the toppled car, most likely the perpetrator for the car to be in the state that it is in. Surprisingly, even the primates crushed under the side of the car seemed to still be in tip top condition, seemingly unaffected from being crushed. “That is one tough monkey!” comments Saber, surprised at the animals durability. “Yeah, they might be guarded by some sort of magic” comments Michael. He looks back towards his car immediately however. “We need to get back to the car.” Michael states as he starts to walk to the access door from the roof to the lower floors. Saber, puzzled asks “Why? I don’t know if you have noticed, but there are a bunch of killer animals down there ready to rip our throats out. You know, I can carry both of you and just travel by rooftop on foot. I mean, is it because you don’t like being carried by women, is that it?” Michael, starting to slightly blush states “No, that isn’t it. There is just some stuff inside that might be kinda useful to protect us, that’s all.” Michael then looks behind Saber to see several birds of various species dive bombing to attack her. “SABER, WATCH OUT!” yells Michael, which leads to his servant turning around to slash at the birds with her sword, instantly cutting through them.

This leads to several bodies falling to the roof, and others falling down to the roads below. “I feel kinda bad about that. I really do like birds.” Michael, shaking his head, says “Well, you can start regretting about killing birds later. Come on, we have to hurry.” He beckons his servant to follow him as he walks through the access door. Both individuals start walking down the stairs to notice a havoc on the base floor, consisting of a bear and a few apes seemingly breaking down several doors to attack those living inside. Screams can be heard from the occupants, which startle Ilya even further. She gives out another small yelp, which attracts the attention of the bear. Michael immediately pulls out his Glock and fires a few shots. However, the bullets didn’t seem to do much other than really piss the bear off. ‘So this magic barrier is even strong enough to handle 9 millimeter rounds. Just great.’ He calls out to his servant immediately for a quick save “Saber!” Hearing his call, Saber immediately responds “Got it!” She charges ahead, deciding to use her bare hands, probably out of fear from killing more animals. The bear tries to pull off an attack, trying to swipe at her with its right claw, however, before the attack could even be pulled off, Saber uses a single palm strike to the chest of the bear, knocking it a good distance away from her, through the wall next to the door of an adjacent room, with an extra bit of distance as the bear knocks out while sliding across the carpet.

Michael and Ilya both look on with an expression of shock on their face. “..You never hit that hard back in those training matches back at the dojo.” Saber looks back at her master and Ilya, her elegant foreign clothes just stop fluttering from the pressure of her attack.  “Oh, I always made sure to hold back. If I went all out, it wouldn’t turn out for well for my opponents you see.” Michael, looking back at the bear finishes off stating “Yeah, no kidding.” This small moment of levity would quickly fade as the 3 apes attacking some of the occupants in their rooms go out to attack Saber at the reaction of the big sound from the impact of the bear in the first room. One ape uses both his arms to go for a downward slam at the top of Saber’s head, but blocks the blow by delivering an expert powerful palm strike from below to the ape’s hands, knocking him back, slightly off balance. She then quickly turns around and uses the same hand to deliver another powerful palm strike to its chest, knocking it back through the hallway while also knocking him into another ape further back. Both apes start sliding down the hallway, knocked unconscious, with the third ape dodging the two to go straight for Saber. He throws a right hook, which Saber quickly grabs and seems to go for a judo throw, according to what Michael sees, through the hotel doors, right outside. Saber decides to relay to her master after committing this recent feat “You should call that Alastor fellow really quick. We will definitely need his help and Caster’s help if we want to take care of all these animals. They are much stronger than they should be..” Michael notices a calm demeanor amongst Saber, a sight that he usually only sees when she is in her training matches against Taiga. ‘It seems combat really is her bread and butter huh. Despite the obvious danger, and the fact that these animals are practically bullet proof, I feel totally safe around her.’ He decides to comment back to Saber on her suggestion. “Yeah. I’ll call the guy immediately, after I get what I need from the car.” Saber, nodding to her Master, replies “Okay, follow me.”

She then walks straight out the door, attracting the attention of the raging chimpanzees. Five of them run right at Saber, but she quickly dispatches of each of them in a timely fashion. The first is knocked far away to the left with Saber’s right leg, utilizing a high kick. The next primate is brought down with a low kick with the same leg, causing the chimp to slide across the concrete away from his attacker. With her leg now planted on the ground she sees three of the chimps mere inches away from her, ready to attack, but she moves her hands at blinding speeds, making them appear like a blur. She goes for palm strike with her left into the right chimps rib cage, then an immediate elbow with the same arm to the chimp left of her. She then finishes off with an uppercut palm strike with her right arm to the middle chimp, knocking him straight into the air. She then gives out heavy breath and immediately concentrates on the rhino, which is now charging straight at her. She holds her hands out, holding back the rhino as its charge cause her sandals to start sliding across the concrete, into a shoe store of all places, away from both Michael and Ilya.

Michael, believing in Saber’s ability to easily take down the rhino, runs straight to the car to pull out his keys to open his trunk. He realizes immediately that everything in the trunk would immediately pool out the second he opens it, but right now isn’t the time to worry about hiding his weapons. However, one last encounter just had to ruin his chance to reach his guns. The elephant that was plowing through the traffic had finally reached both Michael and Ilya and tries to charge at the two of them. He jumps out of the way at the last minute to avoid the charging elephant, which causes it to crash into the front of the building next to the toppled car, which seemed to sell phones and such. The elephant of course turns around ready to strike once again. Unluckily, Michael was straight on the ground, barely able to avoid the first charge with Ilya being carried by him. By the time he would get up, the elephant would have easily trampled him, crushing both him and Ilya into paste. It was at this time that Ilya, standing beside him, seemed to hold her hand out for some strange reason. It was then that Michael noticed very faint, light strings deriving from her body, and two ethereal looking birds seemed to form at the ends of these strings. The elephant, not at all started at the sight of these new strange creatures, charges straight ahead. However, the birds shot out strange blasts of light from their beaks and easily pierced through the elephant, making it look like a holey mess. “What the..” was all Michael could say as Ilya started to faint immediately after the ethereal, white birds faded away. He rushes in to the catch the white haired girl, unable to comprehend what just occurred in front of him. He looks to his left to see Saber walking towards him, with the Rhino unconscious in the background, it's behind protruding from the shoe store. Saber looks to her right to see the mess of a corpse from the elephant. “What the hell happened?” as she looks back at Michael with an unconscious Ilya in his arms. “I have no clue.” was all Michael could really say.

Edited by bioky858
Time Retcon

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January 20th, 02.43 AM
Semina Apartements, Shinto
 
The woman's resistance to Mental Interference was unexpected. Is she a magus helping the opposing Master? Peter wondered. Before he had much time to think however, as Peter suddenly sensed a slight change in the air followed by one of the walls suddenly collapsing. "Rider!" Peter immediately called, both of them knowing that an attack would immediately follow. Rider hastily summoned a standing grizzly bear on the side of the wall, being forced to bow down as its head reached the roof, covering Rider completely.
 
Sure enough an arrow immediately struck the bear less than a split second later, penetrating it and barely stopping in front of Rider. Had the enemy Servant not had taken a split second to confirm Rider's position, it would probably have been Rider instead penetrated by the arrow. The arrow had struck the grizzly bear's stomach, approximately the level as Rider's heart, which it would've struck had they been a split second too late. While not an amazing warrior, the enemy Archer definitely has the aim to qualify for his class. It was pretty impressive considering he only took a split second to aim his arrow after the walls collapsed. However Peter has no time to admire his foe "Rider, wall!" Peter shouted, signaling Rider. Rider almost immediately responded by summoning his lance, a long white pole with an equally white blade on top of it, glowing in the dark room. Rider then proceeded to unsummon the bear and summoned two Cheetahs at the same time, each rushing at the enemy servant and his Master respectively. Without wasting a breath, Rider also threw his spear at their direction, aiming at neither of them but rather at the space between them, forming a white line behind its path intending to forcibly split them apart from each other.
 
Peter noticed that the enemy Master was using magecraft to move Ayako's unconscious body towards him, which he takes as a confirmation of his theory, though he decides to ignore it for now, as she wouldn't be a threat in her current condition.
Edited by A Random Player

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 20th, 02:44

The gale Helmut summoned clumsily propelled the unconscious body of Ayako into his arms, though it seemed Archer’s efforts weren’t as successful. The attack he had launched sunk into a massive grizzly that had materialized out of thin air to serve as Rider’s shield, and while the arrow’s entire length dug deeply into the animal’s flesh, it seemed that it couldn’t fully penetrate the bear’s flesh; a testament of its toughness.

However.

Helmut had achieved his objectives. His Azoth Daggers had littered the ground on the opposing side and the hostage was secured. He had been blessed that the opposing Master, whose identity remained obscured in the dark, had chosen not to act when Helmut exposed himself to attack by choosing to save Ayako. Helmut would be loathe to capitalize on this moment on inaction.

“Archer!”, he commanded over his mental link as his Magic Crest flared to life and flooded his circuits with mana, the chant for his spell silently passing over his lips.

Knowing what his Master was about to do, Paris let go of his bow’s string with his right hand and drew his blade, charging at the wall behind him beside his Master who had elected to do the same. While their enemy had responded by sending more animals and a thrown spear after them, neither posed an immediate threat and would be taken care of regardless of his interference.

Master and Servant leapt towards the wall
Helmut’s thaumaturgy activated.
Archer’s sword flashed in the darkness.

A deafening explosion rang out as the wall was blasted into smithereens at the same time as the Azoth Daggers littering Ayako’s apartment imploded in a massive chain reaction, crushing the floor, walls, and support beams alike and bringing the floors above crashing down onto Rider and his Master, the weight of the collapsed floors breaking through the two apartments below until the avalanche of dust and debris finally came to a stop.

With a light-footed tap Archer landed deftly on the opposing roof, while Helmut’s landing caused a large cratered impact as he dispersed the weighty force of two people onto the ground he landed upon; such was the one-directional brutality of his manipulation of the 3rd Law of Motion.

“Are they alive?”, Helmut wasted no time in confirming the status of his enemies.

Archer sheathed his blade and took up his bow again, the metal tip of his drawn arrow guiding his sight, “The dust proves too thick for me to confirm visual. That being said, the mana signature of the enemy Servant has yet to dissipate, though that could merely be him holding on to life after his Master’s demise”, Paris’ bow groaned in pain as he drew it to its limit and charged the loaded projectile with pure magical energy to the point of bursting before releasing it before it could explode in his face. However, just as he did when fighting Caster, Paris sharply pulled up his bow with a jolt to cause his aim to miss by a mile, yet the arrow would return to meet its target soon enough. Archer prepared another arrow and scanned for movement.

“That Servant… the Archer, Lancer, Caster, and Assassin Classes have already been accounted for, and neither did that Servant strike me as a Berserker.”

“Which leaves Saber and Rider.”

“What do you think Archer?”

“Considering he had yet to pull his blade, even when faced with an unexpected attack, it is highly unlikely that it is a Servant that places his trust in a sword, which marks him as the Rider of this War.”

“Rider huh… be on your guard, we won't know what mount he will summon forth if he finds himself in an unfavorable situation.”

“I can protect myself Master, my concern lies with you, or rather, the burden you have taken upon yourself.”

“…we will discuss this once once the battle is over. What about the Master?”

“His appearance matched the description of Peter El-Melloi, which would explain his lack of a response on the battlefield.”

“El-Melloi? This is is a chance too favorable to pass up…”, Helmut briefly glanced at Ayako as he considered his next step, “…so long as you can keep Rider at bay, I can hold my ground against El-Melloi. Bringing Ayako to the garage can wait.”

Archer remained silent, his expression focused yet cold.

“You don’t approve, Archer?”

“Nothing of the sort, I simply would have preferred more optimal conditions.”

“El-Melloi is not a fighter, against him I can protect myself as well her. We still need her.”

“I will do as you wish, but ready yourself for battle. I doubt the enemy will remain silent any longer.”

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East Shinto City, Fuyuki - 2:44 AM JST

The man abandoned the library crawlspace about an hour ago, taking 5 before to get some sleep made scant by the cold wind & nightmares. His posture slumping, pace dazed between steps, an insomniac stupor pervades over him.

The sidewalks of Shinto's interior streets were too upscale. Best he not be caught in his pathetic getup and draw unnecessary suspicion to himself. It only took 3 minutes of anxious speedwalking to where was a vestibule between a few concrete plaza fronts lead to the network of stagnant alleyways & gated lots serving as the backbone of the many buildings. They weren't all too dirty - the businesses around here mainly used them for shipping, parking, disposal - but there was certainly the neglect of weather and age to behold: creases in the pavement, rusting girders & frames.

The man unfolded his crinkled, fading Fuyuki rail map. The kerosene furnace of his weathered brass lantern was only glowing a faint red spot. The surrounding light pollution barely assuaged the ravenous dark obscuring the rest of the paper. "I can barely see shit. Wonderful."

He tapped on the lantern's glass. "H-Hey, Jumper... I think, this map could be a lot better, right?"

The penumbra of the flame began folding out from the top of the lantern. Like the shadow of the groves of a paved road slipping above the rays of a car's headlights, the shadow began manifesting as an aura enveloping the lantern itself. The man gasped, throwing his back against a nearby wall as he tried yanking the rusted iron chainlinks free. Only he couldn't stop the shadows from travelling up the necklace, stopping behind his neck.

The light died. Darkness robed his vision for a couple seconds as the shadows reconfigured the lantern's original shape.

Wyrrrmmph... The lantern shone in a brilliant, stable cast not too intense or too diluted. It seemed the bulb was something just above an LED. It shone 10 ft. from his point to the end of the street outside was clear, decaying reasonably dull towards the end of the brightened street. The brightness was so sudden, his eyes squinted in pain as his pupils throbbed from absorbing heat. He felt for the bottom ring for the latchpin, only for it to be replaced by a slider switch. The distance & intensity of the light softened as he adjusted it. In fact, feeling the bottom surface wasn't brittle & flaky as he remembered. The top served as a cap over the bulb, whilst the bottom fit the base of a battery case. Both made of an unknown metal alloy rigid as titanium-iron. The chains were also made of this metal, slightly bigger & locking tighter.

He was dumbfounded. He anticipated Jumper being able to work with the world's objects & fixtures. But to improve his ramshackle lantern down to a conceptual degree? It was as if a new item manufactured itself right on the spot. No trace of the original's semblance.

"Hmmmm..." The man held out the full surface of the rail map. Jumper knew what was in his mind, realize the design by intuition. It used the map's cast shadows to engulf the entire paper in them. Startled, their Master let go of the transmuting paper, setting it to the gentle wind. He gave it chase right before it could end up in the street, latching onto it just as the shadows disintegrated. The map now showed a detailed view of Fuyuki like you'd find on a road atlas, but also smooth as a fresh print.

Instantiations such as we were almost devoid of our's purposes. Our impermeable microcosm reverts us to such as time intercedes.

"This... this is incredible! I don't have to lack what others have been granted now. Hell, no one has to anymore."

Shall Master permit our's to change your's clothes? Mayhaps your's face? Our's calibrates for a higher aim than one's material consolidation of ego.

"No, that's not it. Do you know how much humanity could benefit from this? You can actuate the world to literally become better than it is."

Such forms are incapable of perpetuation when set to the conditions of impermeable spheres such as now. Our's deem ontologics derived of such method empirically impossible.

Its clearly rooting for humanity? Yet it seems not to be human. "Why though? We could set humanity beyond the stars if we use you to the right scope. Pristine, sustainable cities. Fertile spans of land, water, & air. Technologies beyond our modern convenience? We could even sure diseases! Famines even!"

If our's could do such, we would have been. Recall our discourse on the truth within our sun.

KKRRRSSSSNNNNHKKKK! A splintering crash suddenly echoes across the sky. The source seemed to be from the northeast, about ½ mi., 6 blocks. The man immediately scuttles towards the direction of the sound. This wasn't a construction blasting zone. Nor were terrorist bombings really even heard of in Japan. The Holy Grail War was underway, and it was a matter of time before Fuyuki would bear its annual destruction. It was easiest for him to conduct the war when the sun was down anyway.

--

Semina Apartments, East Shinto City, Fuyuki - 2:47 AM JST

It took a good 3 minutes for the Jumper pair to trace the source. A medium-rise apartment complex had an entire side crumbled. A full 11-story drop. He could barely make out two men presiding on the very top floor, one of which brandishing a bow. A faint energy swam inside his body.

Master, our's registers four above-average mana signatures.

No way, then those two must be, Archer & their Master?

A parochial assessment.

Parochial? You're sensing two others and can't seem to pinpoint any visuals!

Your assertion lacks credence to substantiate the aforementioned experience of two additional signatures. We've registered it, but additional stimuli is required to conclude the source.

Right, so we should remain cautious then. I can feel them coming from the same area. Keep an eye out for them. They could either be another pair or two different Servants or Masters.

Our's requires not perception of optical organs reserved for carbon specimens.

The man sighs. He could sense the two signatures from within the wreckage. It was still rather strong, so the force didn't kill whoever (or whatever) was buried.

"Is there a way you could survey that wreckage, Jumper?" he whispered.

We're gleaning proposed initiative to yield a favorable result. Our's deduced appropriate method emphasized for stealth and pedagogic efficiency.

Fortunately, the pair had retreated to a nearby alcove to divert attention. Its likely the other Masters and Servants might sense their trace as well, so having no visual or sound would make put them on caution. The man had directed the light into the alcove, displaying the shot down its length as if it were in daylight. The wall edges, fences, and various heaps of junk gave enough shadow for Jumper to manipulate.

"Go on, demonstrate this initiative." He held out the lantern by its hook. The shadows began raising themselves off their surfaces, dividing million fold, gaining their 3rd dimensions.

The shadows had each become a speckle orbiting around their Master in unison & procession, like a marching band. A swarm of ants scampered all along the alcove. Not only could Jumper create inanimate objects, but it could mimic life? Only his contract with Jumper prevented him from mistaking them for the real thing - their chitinous exoskeletons glinting the light, pinprick follicles like static along their abdomens & thoraxes, jaws & legs ceaselessly flexing in ravenous rhythm.

The ants redirected course, dispersing into waves as they crawled up the walls & ground, scouting for creases, holes, or infrastructure to navigate through. Insectoid skittering rattled against the air. The Master could track their movement by tuning his ear to each of the diverging colonies.

The ants hit plenty of dead end crawling along pipes, rain gutters, or wires. But Jumper was able to discern a map leading to the Semina lot as the ants gradually followed their leading traffic. A detour along the long end of the L-shaped apartment gave way to a drainage ditch, in which the ants were able to move under the pavement.

Headway was found just a few feet away from the wreckage. A winter's crack in the asphalt sidewalk was their terminus. Now they began approach to the wreckage itself, to infest throughout it in order to detect the two perpetrators.

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January 20th, 02.45 AM
Semina Apartements, Shinto
 
Peter faintly noticed a few glowing lights around the floor, Rider clearly noticed it as well as he summoned instead of animals, pieces of enchanted wood enveloping around both of them just moments before the whole room collapsed around them. "Ad maiorem Dei gloriam." Peter chanted, releasing the shroud wrapped around his right hand, forming a softer platform to cushion them from the fall. The shroud of Ignatius, an excellent knight turned saint who founded a group known as "Soldiers of the Lord", whose principles served as the basis for modern-day Executors. Quite fitting, considering his mission. "I expected them to treat their hideout with more care, how many casualties do you think there are Rider?" Rider stared at Peter, seemingly confused at his question "Is this really the time for such questions Master?" he asked. Peter sighed. "I suppose not, but still it is quite a pity how many souls may go astray because of the deaths that happen today." Rider made no reply to that.
 
"Enough of that, Archer's Master has proven to be quite more of a handful than expected." Peter said, analyzing their situation. It was not that their opponent was too strong but their recklessness in destroying the environment was outside of Peter's expectations. Having expected a member of the Mage's Association to act like his father in avoiding civilian casualties, even preventing them from knowing about magic. Instead, their enemy seems to not care at all about civilian lives, although he did seem to care about that woman, they may be able to take advantage of that. "Rider, remove this barrier." Rider complied and unsummoned the pillars of enchanted wood enveloping them, revealing a thick cloud of dust and a large debris falling their way, Rider holding it with one arm and throwing it a short distance away. Since an attack has yet to come their way, Peter assumes that the enemy Archer can't see them through the thick cloud of dust, setting up the perfect condition for his plan. "Rider, storm. As soon as you confirm their position, attack." Peter commanded. If Rider questioned the logic of drawing even more attention to themselves, he didn't say it. Summoning thousands of birds of dramatically varying sizes, colors, and flight patterns emerging from the dust cloud, covering the night sky around them and probably a few miles beyond it with their combined voices. If anybody was still asleep around the area, they would be no longer.
 
It matters not how good of an Archer you might be, with these many targets all with different patterns, anybody would be overwhelmed.
 
"I found their position, all of them should be attacking by now." Rider said. Peter nodded in approval. "Make sure to keep them spread out just in case. Let's go." Rider complied and jumped through the rubble, Peter following behind him.
 
"What are you doing with that knife mommy?"
 
Peter suddenly heard a voice cutting through even the voice of thousands of birds. It was the voice of a young girl, though it didn't sound quite 'human'. The sound sent chills throughout his body. Peter looked around the area, trying to find where the voice came from, but there was nothing but piles of debris and dust around him. Rider looks back to Peter. "Master?" He asked. Peter shook his head, as if to snap himself back into reality. "It is nothing, let's go."

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Helmut Boltzmann von Aigentler (Archer Camp) - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 20th, 02:46

Archer noted the muddled presence of a nearby Servant, yet the signature was… odd. While it undoubtedly revealed itself to be close by, it seemed nigh impossible to pinpoint its exact location. Like a light source shining through thick cloth or a blurred smear obscuring one’s vision, the Servant that had chosen to enter the battlefield remained elusive and unaccounted for.

However.

Archer did not have the luxury to worry about the presence of a third party as his eyes picked up movement from within the lingering dust cloud. Out of nowhere an incomprehensible mass of birds burst forth and chased away Rider’s protective veil with the erratic flapping of their wings, their deafening cries soon taking to the skies and filling the desolate streets of Shinto with both their screams and the constant rumbling of their beating wings. They were loud. Perfect lures to attract any nearby Servants to their current location, though it was one Servant in particular Archer wished to attract, one who would recognize his sent.

As if on cue, the volatile arrow he had shot previously had circled around the city, leaving traces of his magical energy in its path, and returned to detonate against its intended target. As Archer hadn’t previously been able to lock his sights directly on Rider, he simply aimed at a piece of rebar that had jutted out from amongst the dirt and rubble close to his general location, yet with the constant mass of birds obscuring it from sight, the arrow was caught by one of the numerous flying pests. A short flash heralded the thunderous explosion that followed, as the unstable mass of magical energy forcibly crammed into a single projectile erupted violently against the root of the beasts’ outpour, briefly halting their flow, if only momentarily.

Archer didn’t miss the chance, “Master, we are retreating! Head for the elevator!”, Paris commanded over their shared mental link as he unceremoniously kicked Helmut off the roof at the same time as he leapt forward and dove for the ground.

“Archer, what are you doing-”

Paris disregarded his Master’s complaints and simply focused on the task at hand. An arrow was still placed on his bow after all, and despite his initially shock, Helmut had begun to desperately fight off the bird’s violent descent with the magecraft stored within his many daggers. It wasn’t much, but at least he could slow them. That was enough.

As his bow trembled in agony from the force Paris exerted on it, a fatal phrase left his lips as he feel headfirst towards the street. The dust was gone, and amongst the uncountable flapping wings, Archer spotted a single brief window of opportunity. A hole barely the size of a finger. But it was enough. Archer spotted his enemy and chanted, “Intervention of Apollo: Guided Arrow of Fatal Weakness”. A streak of pure light darted across the short distance between himself and his opponent on a perfectly horizontal trajectory, though Archer immediately lost visual as his body picked up speed during his descent. Not that he could allow himself to wait around and witness the result anyway.

Deftly rotating his body in midair, Paris confirmed the presence of his Master who had already landed, launching the last of his Azoth Daggers at an eagle that was barely two meters away from him, all while still somehow maintaining his grip on Ayako.

“Relax your body Master, and prepare the detonation process.”

“Wait, what-!?”

Dematerializing his bow, Archer charged forward as he yanked his Master by the collar behind him, breaking the entrance door of the building without care as he rushed into the lobby area and tossed his sword at the elevator door. Breaking apart without resistance, Paris leaped into the tight space, severely damaging the wall he caught himself on to absorb his inhuman velocity, before turning on his feet and rushing into the dark abyss below him. The elevator door at the lowest floor blew apart by the mere pressure of his landing, through which Archer tossed the his two passengers immediately without hesitation.

“Master, now.”

“Archer… give me a second to-”

“Now!”

Helmut cursed underneath his breath as he took a second to reorganize his thoughts, yet he quickly scrambled towards a Magic Circle set up not far away from the elevator door. The place they had currently found themselves in was the lowest floor of the Semina Apartment’s Private Parking Garage, though curiously enough it was devoid of cars except for one, a black Audi Q7, as well as a myriad of equipment and suitcases. This was the safe-house that the Archer Camp had prepared for themselves in the case of an eventual ambush. Placing his hand atop the Magic Circle, Helmut channeled his mana for a brief moment and reached out to the large number of Azoth Daggers he had placed at the entrances of the garage and near the structural pillars of the Apartment Building. His magical energy resonated briefly as the media that held his magical energy sang the symphony of destruction, before the Semina Apartment Building was crushed from the inside by a sequential invocation of implosions and collapsed in on itself.

About to be buried under tons of steel and cement, Paris laid his palm upon the nearest wall and closed his eyes. Like a dry sponge the structure around him hungrily soaked up his abundant storages of mana and spread them throughout the entire lower parking structure, effectively mimicking the Prince’s most cowardly act.

“Siege of Troy…”, Paris dryly whispered as he was assaulted by a brief dizziness, steading himself soon after as his link to the Church’s basement replenished his spent supply. Shaking off his light-headedness, Archer turned towards his Master who himself was in the process of catching his breath.

They had managed to avoid a disadvantageous situation for now, but they couldn’t know for how long.
He had spread his presence over the city and marked his presence with the shining beacon of his Noble Phantasms, but that didn’t mean that other Servants would take the bait and gather at their location.
While they had momentarily found safety, they needed a plan.
Furthermore there was the issue of the girl…

“Master…”, Archer called for Helmut’s attention, “…we need to talk.”

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January 20th, 02.46 AM
Semina Apartements, Shinto
 
As they were scaling the building. Rider suddenly stopped and yelled "Tevat Noah!" and layers of enchanted wood sprouted around him,  Peter being able to softly hear someone chanting close by "...row of Fatal Weakness" followed by a bright streak of light, similar and yet stronger than Rider's own lance throw burying itself through the layers of wood that sprouted just seconds ago, making a loud cracking noises as it buries deeper and deeper into the wood before eventually stopping. "Rider!" Peter called, worried of his wellbeing for once. However, with a calm voice Rider replied from inside of the wooden structure "It will have to be stronger than that to reach me." Peter chuckled, he was worried for nothing. The wooden structure then disappeared leaving Rider standing as if nothing had happened. "More importantly, the enemy Servant has just taken a nosedive straight to the ground." Rider remarked. Peter sighed. "You'd expect a Heroic Spirit to act more 'heroic'. Truly I underestimated not their abilities but how much they are determined to be cowards. Recall the rest of the birds unnecessary for recon." Peter commanded. Rider complied, the screeching of thousands of birds suddenly silenced with the exception of one or two screeches every once in a while.
 
As Peter stopped to think about their next plan of action, the building shook as if it was just about to collapse on itself, Rider immediately grabbed Peter by the waist and jumped down the building as the it did collapse on itself, his feet landing lightly on the ground. Letting go of Peter to drop him on the ground, Rider remarks "Restraining Archer shouldn't be too difficult, eh Master?" Peter snorted "Save your sarcasm for somebody else, Rider. This is but a mere inconvenience." Not to say it wasn't completely his fault, if he had grabbed the girl at that moment, things might have gone differently. "I had hoped he'd be as keen to fight as you said he was against Lancer." Rider thought for a bit. "I recalled that Lancer used a spell before their fight, it may have influenced Archer's behavior." Peter looked surprised. "Mind Manipulation on Servants? I hadn't considered the possibility to be honest." As a specialist on Mental Interference himself, Peter had considered the mind of Servants to be incorruptible by Magic, if another Servant was the one that casted it however, it might have been a possibility. Damn my own oversight, Peter cursed internally.
 
"Master." Rider called in a more serious voice. Peter raised an eyebrow. "I had felt it while we were up there but now that we're down here, it became increasingly evident that there is another Servant around the area yet..." Rider paused. "What is it?" Peter asked. After another short pause, Rider finally replied. "Their presence is all over the place, instead of one concentrated source, there are traces of them everywhere, as if they're like a mist." "A mist? Could it be Assassin utilizing Presence Concealment?" Peter asked. Rider shook his head. "Presence concealment would have rendered me unable to detect them at all, it is also different than if they were to muddle their presence by spreading traces of their energy, it seems like all of these traces are parts of them, their regular state of being." Peter was confused. "So, are you saying this Servant is not a person." Rider paused for a moment before replying. "I can't tell for sure." he finally said.
 
Peter thought about it for a moment. Rider would have known it if it was Archer, Lancer is most certainly not a mist-like entity, while Assassin wouldn't likely have abandoned their stealth and element of surprise for nothing, unless they have killed Archer's Master. "Rider, can you still sense Archer." Rider nodded. "He is underground, protected by some kind of barrier, there hasn't been any fluctuations in his energy yet. He's likely still planning something with his Master." No, it isn't Assassin. So either Caster, Saber or Berserker. Regardless, they have yet to attack, it seems like they are just here to observe at least for the moment. Likely they had planned to take out the weakened survivor. "Master." Rider suddenly called, interrupting Peter's line of thought. "What is it Rider?" "I think I may have found the other Servant's Master." Rider explained. "Oh, is their Servant with them? What do they look like?" Peter asked, curious. "Rider shook his head, looking slightly disappointed himself. "I cant see their servant unfortunately, but they're carrying an object that looks far too advanced and out of place even in this era, I can't imagine them being an ordinary bystander." Peter sighed "You're not sure, excellent. Well we can't approach Archer beneath all of that debris for now, might as well approach this possible Master. Send a parrot to his location." "As you wish, Master." Rider replied, summoning a green parrot flying towards an alleyway.

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Semina Apartments, East Shinto City, Fuyuki - 2:46 AM JST

A cacophony of squawking & screeching flooded the air, a shower of exotic feathers floating to the ground. The blurring colors broke well enough against the sky's tenebrum due to their brightness: oranges, greens, violets flecks with blue, whites. Why a prattle of foreign birds? Most unusual. Are they familiars?

The man had shuffled back into the alleyway, hoping to divert suspicion from his locale. The sudden flock had distracted him long enough to miss Archer & their Master retreat back inside the crumbling apartment front. He wondered just how Jumper's ants were fairing with the sudden course of events.

Master, our's indicates one's mana signature translating upon the northwest cardinal direction. Our's has claired one's Master & Servant are attempting to ascertain the position our's currently occupies.

It took two minutes before the birds dispersed, though a couple stragglers were lost about their way.

"Shit, they're coming this way then?"

A green parrot began orbiting above the alleyways above them. Its shrill cackling echoed between the concrete & plaster walls below & throughout the sky. They were being closed in.

The man jolts towards the bird calls, his anachronistic lantern jerking back on its chain with enough of an angle to briefly startle the bird - as if a column of the sun's rays suddenly burned away the night.

The corner edge along one of the rooftops shoots out a slender spire out from one brick. The parrot coughs shut, shimmering into dust. Its green & red feather trail evaporated along with it. The sight baffles him, as the parrot would've most assuredly bleed out & drop. But it was actually a projection. Much like Jumper.

Tnnk tnch! The spire that feel the parrot dropped on the cobbled asphalt. He inspected it, noting its bumpy grooves: it appeared to derive from the concrete brick of the unassuming building, except the surface felt rigid, but slightly tensile to his press. It appeared to be an extremely dense limestone-calcium glass. A few seconds pass, it dissipates into ash-like flakes of shadow.

"They know I'm here." The man felt his heart throbbing as he sought the nearest escape route. A worn-out, crinkling aluminum drainage pipe tepidly sputtered stale runoff as he ran by it. Jumper, do whatever you can to delay them. Stopping, he forcefully shook & yanked at the pipe, struggling to snap the rusted wielding at its ends.

With a metallic squeak, the pipe tore off, a discharge of water spilling squirming mosquito larvae & shards of lichen-infested insulation into a puddle on the floor. Jumper folded the pipe's shadow back over itself, bending its form to be conical & blunt. The shadows unenveloped a thick warclub with a reinforced, studded cudgel on the end. It felt rather aerodynamic to the hold & swing - like its aluminum grade was merged with synthetic industrial polymers that were centuries away from development.

Turning down his lantern's brightness, he began examining the perimeter for any crawlspaces or infrastructure where he might lurk.

--

A man with sleek black hair in the black coat ordained in Holy Church vestments trails by another man in brown beggar's cloth. They were inspecting the area outside the patios & walkways surrounding Semina Apartments.

Jumper's ants failed to catch up with the Rider pair before the flock of birds released them from their dilapidated tomb. The ants dispersed into smaller garrisons, scuttling both west & east, with the other rerouting north.

Catching them at a chokepoint between two walls, the two flanks congregated oncemore. The Master looked behind him. Ants were never seen idle in such formation. A hissing grew, as their carapaces sprouted each a pair of wings. The swelling buzz, pinchers, and stingers made them appear indistinguishable from tiny wasps.

The swarm homed in on the men.

Edited by Sarki

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Ryuudou Temple, Miyama Outskirts, Fuyuki

Mark sipped his tea on the steps of the shrine building with a calm disposition. He had decided to try to switch from coffee to tea, as there was less caffeine and well, it was supposedly healthier. This particular tea was imported from China; a fruit tea, popular among students there. I almost feel, well...British he mused to himself quietly, but then a hushed but noticeable humming interrupted his thought. The red lines which Assassin had materialized upon their arrival started glowing and pulsated mildly. Mark did not move.

Slowly and stealthily, a pair of flashing eyes, appeared out of the darkness, edging from the forest just beside the shrine gate. Two seconds later, another pair of eyes accompanied them. While Mark did not have night vision, the shrine lamps were well lit enough for him to make out two mongrel-like figures edging slowly closer towards his end of the shrine entrance, in an almost prowling manner. Both sets of eyes shone with a yellow tinge, but neither figure made a sound. Mark viewed the figures curiously. 

"Yo. I'm guessing...this is meant to be an attack on me? I think it's hardly coincidence that two large dog like creatures would appear at my doorstep right as the War is to commence". The creatures were, as expected, silent. I don't know what I was expecting to be honest. It's not as if talking animals is outside of the realm of possibility... Mark's thoughts trailed off as the two figures had edged close enough into the light to be discernible. 

They were wolves. They didn't seem rabid or maddened; instead they were collected and poised, edging a paw closer towards him every so often, never averting their eyes from the target. Like a professional killer. 

Mark smiled wryly. "You two are very good at this stealth business. Probably can't hold a candle to my new buddy, but still very impressive. But the fact remains that you wandered into my territory. HIS territory. It was nice meeting you, at the least." And then Mark promptly turned his back to these beasts and continued sipping his tea in silence. 

The wolves both inched a bit closer until they were merely 50 metres from Mark, and then they couldn't contain themselves. They had judged the distance, and within 7 paces or 3 seconds, they would have him in their respective jaws. The wolves got ready to pounce when...

There was a sudden flash of red light, coming from the veins in the ground. They pulsated quicker and quicker. One of the wolves tried to make a break for Mark, but a vein in front of it flashed brightly and caused it to jump back dizzily. The other wolf started snarling. But this was not aggression. This was fear. Then, it stopped snarling. Both wolfs stopped dead in their tracks. They both suddenly and slowly, averted their gaze away from Mark, and towards their left (or Mark's right if he were facing them). Something there had caught their attention. In fact, it had them petrified.

But two seconds later, the attack came from the other side. It was silent and quick; one could not capture this attack with the keenest photography. But a keen mage could, if they focused, catch a red blip enter the side of one wolf's skull, exit there and do the same with the other wolf. But this occurred in the space of nanoseconds. The angle of attack was sublime. Both wolves stood there, for at least 1.5 seconds, before they collapsed. They also immediately disappeared. 

Mark had finished his tea. He turned back around, amused to notice the disappearance of the wolves. "You sure clean up quick Assassin...anyone who would be foolish to enter this place when it augments your abilities the way it does, is simply foolish". 

But who ordered this attack I wonder? As he pondered the recent events, Mark heard screaming coming from somewhere in the distance. It was muffled due to distance, but definitive. "Are there other animals? Maybe a pair of Servants are clashing?" Just what is going on here?"

Mark wondered if it this was an opportunity or something to avoid. Assassin.

"YES COMMANDER" blared the Servant, and upon materialization it was of note that the area around his hands and arms were freed of fog. Assassin's true arms were likened to a lean but muscular male, and they were fair in complexion. They seemed normal otherwise. 

Mark made a mental note of this, and started to decide whether to venture out into the night...   

Edited by EdwardSunnyDisposition

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