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6th Holy Grail War: Act 01

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Othinus Gremlin (Lancer Camp) - Shinto, Fuyuki City (00:00 AM)

It had been a few days since the Lancer camp, confronted Archer which resulted in Lancer's overwhelming victory yet, in lancer's eyes the battle was a moral loss as she had displayed emotions unbefitting of someone of her status.
The time had mainly been used for othinus's recovery, after the incident as such she had been sleeping for quite a while, which gave lancer the perfect opportunity to think about her master and what had happened to her.
She began by repairing othinus's runic eye and decided to inscribe a rune of magic that is virtually unnoticeable on it, as it would seem her master uses it to almost completely suppressing any trace of magic in her body, yet the complete 180 that happened doesn't make any sense, because of that Lancer began checking her master's body and as she thought something was wrong, as prior to taking her current form lancer had noticed nothing abnormal yet what she was seeing was probably not everything.
she'd probably have to take it slow or othinus would get weary of lancer with her already unstable mind.
2 hours later. (02:00 AM)
As othinus began to wake up lancer just said “good morning, master” while looking out of the window with a mellow expression on her face, as othinus said “lancer, where are we?” as lancer raised an eyebrow to the question, lancer said “we're in your hotel room, do you wish me to order some food?” to which othinus just nodded as she continued to wait Lancer said “I'm sorry that I'm calling this late, I wish to order some food and yes this is room 107” as lancer finished talking othinus said “Lancer, I'll like to ask why you've put a rune on my eye." as lancer turned to talk with othinus, she stopped for an instant because of othinus's facial expression the only way to explain it would be soulless, Yet this confirms another point lancer was worried about that being Othinus's trust being non-existent and even her own servant lancer had not seen Othinus's acting like this prior to the fight with archer, lancer would've chalked it up to Othinus's fucked up mental state but right now the cause is much simpler she's afraid of the might servants possess one could almost describe it as a heart of glass, the amount needed to break her is very small however the fact that she's showing it, is good now lancer can work around it and prepare plans for the future as a knock could suddenly be heard from the door, as a voice said “Your food is here, shall I come in or let it stay outside?” as lancer said “just let it stay outside” as the hotel employee said yes and disappeared.
Othinus began eating the food as lancer explained why she had inscribed a rune on the formerly shattered eye “As you're worried I'll explain it fast, You destroyed it in the fight with archer and a massive amount of magic, for a human at least, could be felt from you as such I was just checking it and used a rune to fix it” as othinus began calming down.


(02:30)
Lancer now in control of the situation then said “Why don't we go to the roof then, it should calm you completely down” as both of them got up and walked out the door and then up the stairs, all the way to the roof, as they closed the door, lancer activated her clairvoyance which at her rank already possess the long sight of the skill, as such she looks down towards the city to try and spot anyone else but nothing happens at least for the first 10 minutes, but a few minutes later lancer spots two people in front of an apartment.

 As the image of an arrow coming towards the pair appeared in her head as she waited to see if it was true.

And yes moments later, one of the people summoned a creature to stop the arrow which would mean an arrow that needs something to stop it would belong to an archer most likely, so lancer was witnessing a 'battle' between servants as such lancer wanted to wait, a little before saying anything to othinus and as she was watching the fight another one of Archer's arrows could be seen, but this one was unlike the other one, being more akin to the one used against herself, but it was blocked by the other servant with some kinda wood like shield.
Which gave lancer an idea she usually uses her spears at close range but what would happen if she mimicked her pupil at least to some degree? He'd probably call her a hypocrite but if it's similar, yet different that wouldn't apply then, so Lancer used her own runes to increase her psychical abilities most notably her strength, as she formed a single spear and filled it with mana until it had become a broken phantasm, she focused on rider and threw her spear with all her might and just as it moved out her hand the sound barrier was broken instantly until it was reaching Mach 7+ and became faster with each passing second.

As lancer grabbed othinus and jumped from the building towards archer's location and said “Archer think of this as an apology......................................”.

But the spear would most likely reach the destination first, so lancer was prepared to move away just as fast, for her master's sake.

Moving Towards Semina Apartments, Shinto District (02:47)

Edited by Featherine123

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January 20th, 02.47 AM
Semina Apartements, Shinto
 
After a while, Rider stopped concentrating and looked towards Peter disappointed, shaking his head. "It was killed." "How?" asked Peter. "Some kind of a shadow spear, it was too quick to make out properly." A shadow spear? They had determined that it wasn't Lancer, such an attack was too subtle for a Berserker. Either Saber or Caster. Likely Caster if they attacked from the shadows. A few moments later, what seemed to be a swarm of wasps started closing in on their location. "They know where we are too huh?" Peter remarked. Rider responded by summoning his own version of a swarm of wasps, engaging the swarm that is approaching them.
 
At this rate, it is merely a matter of time before this Master runs away as well. Assuming that it is indeed Caster, they wouldn't risk a direct confrontation and they also have the advantage of knowing both his and Rider's position. If Peter were to send Rider after the opposing Master, he'd risk exposing himself to an attack by the Servant. Their most strategic move would be to retreat themselves. At the very least however, Peter wants to know who they're up against. Come to think of it, Rider didn't mention who the Master's identity was. It's neither Othnius nor Helmut, that was obvious. "Rider, who was the Master?" Rider paused a moment before answering. "I didn't see him in any of your files, Master." An appearance altering magic? But why would they go through all the trouble just to draw attention with the object they were carrying? Are they merely hiding their identity, but why? Regardless of that, it seemed like they only attacked because their position has been compromised. Meaning that they either didn't want to fight or were waiting for an opportunity to ambush someone by surprise. Regardless it wouldn't hurt to find out.
 
Using the location Rider found him at as reference, Peter extended his prana to reach the other Master, speaking directly to their mind. "Let's stop this game of cat and mouse. I have no intention of fighting you." Before he could continue however, Rider suddenly dragged him and jumped away from their current spot as something suddenly landed on where they were standing a split second ago, forming a meteor-like crater. "What--" "Lancer." Rider interrupted. "We need to leave, now!" Rider insisted, unusually persistent. Peter understands the situation, with Lancer appraoching obviously not friendly and Archer still plotting something, the odds are stacked against them, not to mention the still mysterious 4th Master and their Servant. "Tch." Peter remarked as he threw what seems to be a throwing knife to the air, almost immediately caught by a pigeon Rider summoned. "Let's go." Rider then grabbed Peter and jumped towards the top of a nearby building. Peter reached to the other's Master one last time. "Let's talk, pick a location and throw that knife." Rider then carried Peter across the rooftops, while the summoned dove dropped the throwing knife at the alleyway where the other Master is.
 
Jumping towards the most crowded area he could find, Rider dropped Peter in a nearby alleyway and dematerialized to Spirit Form, Peter himself chanting "Perinde ac cadaver." in order to deactivate the shroud and put on a mask-like item changing the appearance of his whole body, before proceeding to blend in with the crowd.

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Archer Camp - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 20th, 02:47

The Kurokizaka District in Shinto was known for its high-end apartments and recreational facilities. With close proximity to Fuyuki Central Park and Mion River, those living in the Kurokizaka District enjoyed the luxury of nature at their doorstep whilst still benefiting from the convenience of living in the midst of the city, and thanks to being quite a distance away from Fuyuki Central Station, it counted as one of the quieter Districts within Shinto on top of that, though a daily rush of traffic could not be avoided by virtue of being close to Fuyuki Bridge. That being said, in the dead of night, this District should have ordinarily been bathed in the silent hum of the city, the occasional rushing cars and drunken laughs setting the pace for the city’s nightly rhythm. Today would prove to be an exception. A deafening shrieking of birds and the thunderous collapse of the Semina Apartment building jolted the inhabitants of the Kurokizaka District awake in a state of panic, and soon one could see windows light up one after the other, illuminating the streets in their soft glow. The city had awoken, but it had yet to pinpoint the cause of its disturbance. Hidden in the shadows, beyond the reach of the populace’s eyes, Heroic Spirits continued their battle while Archer remained underground. While he belonged on the battlefield like the rest, he had another matter to attend to before his bow could add to the ongoing carnage.

“Master…”, Archer called out, looking down at his collapsed Master, “…we need to talk.”

Having only just been released from his Servant’s ruthless dash for safety, Helmut was still in the process of calming himself from the adrenaline going rampant in his body, and while he would have ordinarily chastised his Servant and asked to discuss the topic at a later time, Archer’s words now carried a weight that he couldn’t easily run from. He had acted cordially enough ever since their arrival in Fuyuki so Helmut had almost forgotten, but he was talking to a Prince, and as such, he could not be refused.

“Archer, at least give me a warning the next time you-”

“How many people do you think have died for the sake of securing the entrances of our hideout?”

“Excuse me?”

“I asked you a question Master. How many have given their lives so that we might spend this moment safely buried under tons of rock and cement?”

“…I do not know. The building is 15 stories high with two apartments on each floor, so at the very least 28? Why should that matter?”

“There were 54 casualties Master, 4 families and a number of shared apartments, as well as two outsiders sleeping over for the first time.”

“My thanks for clearing up the facts Archer, but I ask again, why should the exact numbers concern us?”

Helmut knew he was treading on dangerous territory, but the rush from their earlier flight was still pulsating in his veins, his mind denied the chance to realize that he was no longer in battle. While it was just the two of them down here, he could not ignore the fact that he had still been the recipient of an assault only minutes prior, so his actions continued to be rushed by a sense of urgency. Wasting time on pointless discussion thus agitated him in his haste, yet precisely because of his current state of mind, Helmut failed to notice the silent fire that burned beneath his Servant’s seemingly neutral expression.

Paris responded by slightly raising his voice, “They mean nothing to me. I simply ascertained their numbers when securing the building, yet the same does not apply to you.”

Helmut was about to voice a reply but was shut down by his Servant’s dominating presence.

“Master, you might have conveniently forgotten since it was me who had commanded you to activate your thaumaturgy, but it was you who made the choice to kill those people. Consciously or not, to you the lives of 54 humans were a cheap price to pay for a single girl.”

“That again? As I said-”

“Let me finish. In that moment you had the opportunity to take out the Master of Rider. Thought at a cost, I could have distracted Rider long enough for you to kill his Master and ensure our victory. Yet instead you left yourself open to an attack by rescuing the girl instead. Had our opponent not been Peter, had they been any other Master, that precious window of opportunity would have doubtlessly been exploited. In case you had forgotten, just as I am able to occupy Rider, so is Rider capable of preventing me from protecting you. Had the enemy Master been one adept at offensive magecraft, you would have died.”

“Archer, Ayako’s strategic value-”

“Does not extend past these trinkets”, Paris finished for his Master as he held out his hand, displaying a pair of obsidian earrings.

Helmut’s eyes widened momentarily as he turned towards Ayako’s unconscious body to affirm the absence of her accessories.

“Just like that she has lost her value, the price of 54 is now too steep to pay for a single life. Furthermore she is now involved in your secret game and as such she must die.”

“Archer… why are you doing this?”, Helmut ground his teeth together as he stared into his Servant’s expressionless face, but he could find no clue to explain Archer’s behavior.

Paris was neither seething in anger, nor was he wearing a sadistic smile. All he said he stated with an unreadable expression, yet all that did was cause his words to cut even deeper. After all, they were not spoken in senseless rage, but in cold and unadulterated truth. Retrieving his sword and tossing it towards his Master, Archer motioned towards the motionless body between them.

“The question should rather be, why shouldn’t we? Her worth lay in the Mystic Code given to her by the Tohsaka, meaning that it would only make sense that without them she is reduced to no more than a liability. Kill her Master. Unless you have a reason not to?”

Archer’s words were calm yet cold, spoken with an edge that was far from being impartial. To those that had known him, it would be clear as day that Paris was furious. His Master however, who knew nothing about him, was left helplessly grasping for words.

“I…”, fumbling at the sword in his hands, Helmut had trouble formulating a response.

“Do you find difficulty in taking a life Master? Do not worry, it is only slightly harder looking your victim in the face as you deprive them of their life. Only a little more challenging to witness the agony of death firsthand, instead of saving yourself the trouble by closing your eyes to the nameless 54 that fell to their own deaths with no additional input of your own.”

“Again with those damned 54! Why are you so obsessed with mere tens of lives when millions more will die at the dawn of our victory?”

“Don’t evade my inquiry Master. Why do you refuse to take Ayako’s life? Why do you hesitate?”

Helmut’s brow furrowed as his grip tightened around the hilt of Archer’s sword. What was going on? What did his Servant want from him? Why on earth was he suddenly so insistent on the lives of the innocent?

“…Ayako is a civilian. By using her as cover to infiltrate Miyama we can-”

“You care for her Master.”

“What!?”

“You desire her for her humanity just as I desired Helen for her beauty. Raised as a magus and denied a human life, you crave the normalcy that Ayako has shown you in these past two weeks. Don’t attempt to refute my claim, I have seen the way you act around your sister Veronica. Though only briefly, I had been guest at your estate, and the manner in which you care for you sister is not unlike the way you now look upon this woman.”

“…”

“There is no need to confirm or deny my claim, it is clear as day. Neither will I reprimand you for your desires, it is a perfectly human instinct to care for others, yet I feel the need to remind you of the consequences that such a longing holds.”

“…so what?”, Helmut harshly muttered, irritated by the fact that his Servant laid him bare seemingly without much regard, “What does that have to do with your constant reminder of this building’s inhabitants? We set up my daggers with the precise intention of blocking of the entrances in the case of an attack, why are you so insistent on reprimanding me about our plan now that Ayako is with us?”

“I feel obliged to remind you of your oversight precisely because of her presence, Master. Without her the Rider Camp could have been defeated. Without her there would have been no need to use this plan so soon when we could have instead focused on the battle at hand without the burden of a hostage holding us back. What I want for you to do is to stop looking at this woman as a woman. From this point forward she has ceased to become a human. She is now the product of every man, woman, and child that has died to keep her alive. Stop ignoring those that were sacrificed and carry that burden with you every second you dare to spend in her presence despite that knowledge.”

“Where the hell is this coming from Archer? Why are you making such a big deal about this? You caused a War over a woman, what would you know-”

It took a mere instant.

Had Helmut been more attentive he might have noticed the trembling in Archer’s muscles or the sudden spike in killing intent, all of it directed solely at him. Paris disappeared from sight, and a mere moment after, Helmut’s vision turned black as he was slammed deep into the nearest wall, causing an indentation several centimeters thick, the mere force of it fracturing his ribs and causing minor tears in his lungs. With his body still rearing from the aftereffects of the sudden impact, Helmut coughed up a combination of saliva and blood as his limbs hung limp and lifeless from his side. Looking upwards, he glimpsed at wrath. With his earlier composure thrown into the wind, Archer’s face was contorted into ugly rage.

“My brother died for my selfish whim!”, Paris did not shout, yet his voice seemed to fill the entire underground parking garage regardless, “Every second of every day I lament his death, and every night I spent with Helen was a reminder of the day he chose to give his life for the sake of his reckless brother. Don’t you dare cheapen his life any more than you already have!”

“Ahhh”, Helmut came to the realization. That was why Paris had been so adamant about reprimanding him.

Helmut had prioritized a woman over a shared objective and endangered their lives in the process. Furthermore, he had thoughtlessly sacrificed the lives of 54 without consideration, and while he likely would have done so without Ayako’s involvement as well, the fact remained that these deaths were now pinned onto her survival. Helmut neither knew the faces nor the names of the families that had resided in the Semina Apartment Building, just as Paris was not aware of every soldier that had fought in the Trojan Army for his sake. It only took a single sacrifice however, for the accumulated lives to crush you under their combined misery. For Archer it had been his brother, for him…

Helmut lost his body’s strength as he allowed the wallowing self-hatred to take residence in his heart. Naturally it wasn’t as if he had suddenly started caring for a nameless group of 54, just as Paris cared little for every single Trojan soldier that had lost his life, yet merely the thought of his sister’s death unsettled him more than he could have ever imagined. If the apprehension of her death was this crippling by thought alone… just what was the extent of the weight that Paris carried with him?

To see somebody slowly retrace the footsteps of one’s life… Paris’ earlier behavior now become painfully clear, “I’m sorry…”

While his words were simple, Archer could finally spot the sincerity in them.

Annoyedly clicking his tongue, Paris tore his Master from the wall by his neck and discarded him on the floor, causing him no shortage of pain.

“Consider this the price of cheapening my brother’s legacy, and don’t you dare repeating your insult. There should be enough mana in those barrels to heal yourself”, Archer stated drily with the remnants of his earlier outburst still lacing his words.

In that moment a deep tremor shook the underground space, reminding Helmut that beyond the boundaries of this space, a war continued to be fought.

“What is…?”

“Rider seems to have engaged another Servant in battle, the one whose presence continues to elude me. Such an ability seems unbecoming of a Saber, so it is likely the Berserker of this War. In regards to the tremor, it was ripe with the essence of Lancer. Rider has chosen to flee in response to her appearance.”

“…”

“It seems the bait worked, though it will be all for naught if we allow Rider to escape. I’m heading out to observe the conclusion of this fight, you stay put and heal your injuries.”

Archer started walking towards the western end of the hallway as he slowly dissolved into a shower of golden sparks, though he slowed his step to ask a single question.

“Do you care for her?”

Only silence greeted his inquiry, though the lack of a response was answer enough for Paris.

“Then consider Ayako included in my contract to you. I hope you understand the consequences of your choice.”

Helmut watched his Servant’s departure with heaving breaths, the underground garage losing its shine as Archer’s presence disappeared completely.

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Time: 06:34 January 19th
Location: Tohsaka Mansion, Master's Bedroom


Svanhild stepped out of her bed, still slightly drowsy. Keeping Berserker under control was taking up a lot of energy, especially since she was worried that he'd go on a rampage if she let him leave the building. He wasn't exactly susceptible to orders, and Svanhild was finding herself needing to convince her insane companion that something was a good idea. Of course, sometimes she didn't feel like it so she just cast Suggestion on him. He was surprisingly susceptible to it.
They hadn't started patrolling yet, despite having been in the city for several days. This was due to Svanhild trying to get used to Berserker's mana upkeep, and because shortly after summoning him, she'd attempted magic beyond her level. It had succeeded, at the cost of leaving her bedridden for an entire day, and having the unexpected side effect of causing her hair to darken, and her eyes and skin to gain a slight brown shade. It was a very minor difference, but still one she found offputting. Mostly she was concerned that she didn't know of a way to fix it, and she didn't think it would go away with time.
The purpose of the ritual had been to connect Svanhild to the ley line, and to make it easier for her to pass through the boundary fields, which she had slowly raised back up while recovering. It was up for the most part now, but Svanhild doubted she'd be able to finish the job. It was a lot more complicated than it sounded.

Heading downstairs for breakfast and tea, Svanhild noticed that most of her energy seemed to have returned. 
"Berserker, we're heading into the war tomorrow." She felt a vibe of approval emanating from her Servant, wherever he was. Insane as he was, it seemed like he could still understand what he was told, to a certain level. Or maybe he just understood her intent. It would have been annoying to have to spend a command spell just to keep him from going on a rampage, so this was rather convenient.
"But for now, we will continue to recover our energy." 

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As lancer moved towards rider, he began moving away the moment the spear arrived at it’s destination, Lancer began looking around for anything that may cause a problem yet nothing was in sight yet Lancer had this irritating feeling which was beginning to annoy her greatly, yet her face was mostly the same the only difference being that she was biting her right lip as a way to show her annoyance.
 
While Lancer was annoyed, Othinus began thinking ‘What’s this feeling in the air, I feel like my back is being crushed by the air almost as if it weighing several tons?’ as othinus looked up at lancer and was about to say something before stopping, no a better explanation would be that she couldn’t speak at all, lancer’s face looked almost the same as normal, yet the pressure coming from lancer was nothing like othinus had ever seen, if she had to guess, the moment lancer sees any of the people that were the cause of all those innocent civilians that lost their lives, she would kill them instantly.
 
While othinus was lost in her own thoughts, lancer and her arrived at the destination as lancer said "Master we're here so please don't get down from my arms, you understand what i mean right?" as othinus just nodded, currently Lancer wasn't in a good mood so going against her may just irritate her further, as it seems like she puts othinus safety above everything else.
 
Lancer began moving towards the destroyed apartment as she said "Master, 10 seconds is all you can take any more than that and i want you to command me to flee with you" for every second that went by, the pressure from the aura surrounding lancer became even stronger, the feeling was different from how it usually would be, it truly was like a Lion walking towards a hoard of defenseless animals anyone even the average person should be able to feel it fairly well, Lancer truly is a berserker woman.
 
Lancer was walking towards the destroyed apartment, before othinus had noticed anything they stood right in front of it as lancer slowly put down othinus, as she used a rune on her fist and the moment the rune was drawn, othinus body began hurting all over it felt like her heart was being played with, as it had begun pumping really fast, as Lancer said "Master, i said 10 seconds is the max so don't worry" as she was preparing to throw a single strong punch and then said "Archer, have you felt the anger of the dead?" as she threw the punch and said "then look upon the justice that is about to make you understand *Last Komedia!!!* " as she began yelling an instant before her fist hit the ground, as it instantly began splitting apart as she threw another one, then another one and then finally another one, as she spotted a few people below the ground and stared at them as if she was a wild beast looking at her prey.
 
What othinus was looking at was indeed lancer, yet she was completly different to the one she had first met when she summoned her, this was indeed a Hero as othinus had known them since her youth, a person who does not tolerate the killing of the innocent a hero of peace, yet she didn't wear a smile or looked angry no her face was blank, the only trait the one she had first summoned also had.

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Archer Camp - Fuyuki Bridge / January 20th, 02:50

In the darkest hours of Fuyuki’s wintry night, a single icon remained illuminated even after the sporadic lights of the local households have been all snuffed out. Streetlights may have remained in the early dawn, but all of them paled in the majesty of the bridge that connected the two districts of Fuyuki. Painting a stark contrast against the midnight blue color landscape of forest and sky, the Fuyuki Bridge stood tall and proud, a bright red beacon in a sea of navy.

At its apex stood a golden light.

The figure itself was not golden, it turned out to be a mere man in fact, yet the aura surrounding him dyed him in an unmistakably golden radiance that sat upon the massive bridge like a royal crown. The man held a bow, and strung upon it, three arrows quivered with the unbridled magical energy contained with them. It took a mere instant to release these warheads into the darkest shadows of the city. One more second to restring the bow, yet another to ready the projectiles and guide them upon the intended course.

But the man had not one second, nor two, but ten. Ten long seconds to unleash his assault, five crucial chances to fire his bow, fifteen shadows sneaking along the darkest alleys of the city in their attempt to seek out their targets.

Had his enemy not started to burrow her way towards his Master like a mole, then Archer would not have had to resort to such an unsightly tactic, one that so blatantly drew upon the offering of his Master. It was a coward’s strategy, an exploit used by the weak to topple the strong. While it was true that he was thus most suited for such a lowly blow, the act of doing so brought him no joy nor satisfaction. He didn’t detest if of course, it was but another tool to secure his victory, but neither did it bring a smile to his lips. He had to resort to his most powerful attack. His Master was in danger, so this was simply something he had to do.

And so his calculating eyes followed the path of his elusive arrows as they snuck upon their target from all directions, each salvo a brief two seconds behind the other. Ten were meant for Servant, while the remaining five fell upon the Master.

And so Archer observed as his fifteen Noble Phantasms cut apart the night.

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Semina Apartments, East Shinto City, Fuyuki - 2:48 AM JST

"Let's stop this game of cat and mouse. I have no intention of fighting you."

The Master tensed up at the echoing voice inside his mind, his mallet quivering. He paced a few steps back as his eyes darted along the perimeter. Who was this voice delivering admonitory threats? Was Jumper worsening his sanity?

He heaved a couple breaths, as the weight of his lungs pressed inside him. Whether it was a Master or a Servant specializing in Mental Interference or Illusion magecraft, they might be tapping his mind actively. As he slowed his heartbeat, he visualized the figures dropping from the apartment, the swarm of birds spilling into the sky. He replayed it again, this time the figures vaulted into the birds. Then the birds started to spontaneously be engulfed by their own wings. Then they all glinted in emerald sheen. It must've been the parrot.

He released his mental vicegrip, relieved that the intruder left no reply. They sent the parrot to trace their mana signature. His position was exposed, and the first player had knowledge of his participation. Maybe even a description to prosecute him. But what did he want? He's eventually going to hunt me down! No intention of fighting me.

This was an opportunity to disengage before any enemy forces could close in on him. Jumper should be enough to deter them in any case. But the demolition of Semina Apartments & the noisy swell of exotic birds must've awoken residents, and most certainly the authorities. This wasn't going to be a very clean Holy Grail War.

"It's getting time to find home." the man whispered. He held the unusual mallet in his hands. His practical knowledge plumbed pretty deep inquiring its otherworldly design. Yet he found himself stumped against an abyssal gap from what he couldn't theorize or postulate was yet possible to this technological age. Something was holding him back from breaching glories beyond his knowledge, but what? Perhaps Nature was protecting her children.

"I could always throw this away. It'll be such a mystery, they'll be able to reverse-engineer this."
Thus Prometheus exchanged one's generosity for punishment.

The shadows around the mallet fizzed into dust, the Master dropping it to the ground as he lurched back for safety. The strange object was now a rusted lead pipe.

"Wh-What was that for? We could've needed that more than I cou-"

Our's utopian fixations for human advancement, is a risk to permit impermeable forms in ephemeral civilization. Our's instantiates to project missing dimensions of all forms to the ideal, not solve them in one fold. We're's to concatenate one's biological functions indefinitely, as so our's remains supplied with one's prana. Until the sequence of our's ritual has terminated.

"You mean, the Holy Grail War?"

Correct. Our's has diagnosed a flaw in its form, our's must elucidate.

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January 20th, 02.53 AM
Shinto
 
My wife is going to kill me!
 
Tadao thought worriedly as he rushed into his car. He had been stuck between a rock and a hard place, his boss had asked him to work overtime to fulfill some deadlines, and he had no way to refuse.
 
On the other hand, his wife is  pretty unreasonable even among women and would definitely not hear any of his explanations. He hadn't even dared to call her to tell her that he would be home late.
 
That might have been a mistake in hindsight,  was his first thought after he found 6 missed calls from his wife in his phone. 
 
He sighed.
 
Looks like I'll be sleeping outside the front door again tonight... Tadao thought lamentably as he fumbled through his keys.
 
Just then, he felt a light tap to his shoulder.
 
As Tadao looked back, his body immediately froze the moment their eyes met. It wasn't as if the man was overtly intimidating, or that something was physically blocking him from moving, rather it's his body itself that doesn't want to move.
 
"Take us to ██████." The man said.
 
While a man one just met asking to be taken somewhere would normally be very suspicious, for some reason, Tadao didn't feel the need to question him. Rather, he merely got into the driver's seat, waited for the man to get into the back seat, and drove away.
 

 
The ride was spent with silence, neither Peter nor Rider said anything to each other. Finally having had enough of it, Peter started. "I know there's something you want to say Rider." But Rider stayed silent.
 
Peter sighed, as he watched the city's night life go by the window.
 
"I'm not blind to my own faults Rider. I had all the chance to stop your fight with Archer at any moment, yet my own arrogance of my tactics got a hold of me. I let go of a potentially precious hostage and forced you to reveal more of your powers than necessary. This engagement had left us worse than before it happened and it was almost entirely my fault." He admitted.
 
At that Rider scoffed.
 
"It was." he replied, finally opening his mouth.
 
Peter chuckled bitterly at Rider's cold reply. "You don't hold your punches do you?" He wasn't happy about the results either, his plans had blown up in his face and he had nothing to show for it but an angry Servant.
 
Well, that's not entirely true...
 
"That unknown Master we saw... what do you think he is?" Rider didn't answer.
 
Peter twiddled with the car door's lock. "I suspected he was Caster, but I have no prove for that." He continued. "His appearance didn't match any of our files as you've said, and his Servant is most definitely an irregular."
 
Well their appearance is one thing... but the Servant may prove to be useful... Peter thought, smirking.
 
"Master." Rider warned.
 
"Yes Rider, I understand." Peter answered, slightly annoyedly. "I overestimated my own capabilities and underestimated the enemy, that will not happen again." Peter reassured him. As he pressed the button to lock the door, Peter continued "I trust you're following them?" He asked.
 
It was Rider who sighed this time.
 
"I am." He answered finally.
 
Peter chuckled internally. Even though they're currently angry at him, Rider is still doing what he had asked them to do. It was clear that his Servant hadn't quite lost their faith in him. And it is Peter's duty to ensure that said faith will be rewarded.
 
The car would continue driving for about 10 more minutes, all the while Peter started pondering about their next move. The moment they had reached the place Peter had directed the driver towards, the car stopped.
 
"Looks like this is our stop." Peter remarked nonchalantly as he unlocked the door and opened it.
 
As he was exiting the car, Peter held the driver on his shoulder and whispered in his ear. "Go home, then forget everything that happened within the last 2 hours." He said as he walked away from the car, which proceeded to promptly drive away. It wasn't some fancy spell he used, but with the battle with Archer and his current disguise draining him of his prana, it was the best he could do. Besides, it is very unlikely that another Master would find that specific driver.
 
Now then, for our next move...
Edited by A Random Player

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Fuyuki Bridge, supporting column

"What's that Assassin? You found something? Oh that? Well blimey mate, you found a familiar!"

The mass of shadow was replaying the scene in his mind, over and over again. His master it seems had genuinely not noticed the magical presence that haunted him, but of course, Mark had asked Assassin to watch the roofs, and this is indeed what he had done dutifully. Assassin had a keen instinct, but he only hoped his Master possessed the same.

"WEIRD MAN..." was what he thought. Incidentally, Assassin's thoughts while still cryptic, were a bit more defined than the abstractnesses of his speech. His mind betrayed the fact that he almost wished he could live like his seemingly cheerful and carefree Master. 

Assassin had never had what one could call a happy life. Family, friends and even justice were not meant for this man. What could one do, when despite existing in the same plane as the rest of individualistic society, their mind belonged elsewhere? 


"Hmm...Assassin, tell you what. Go scout Fuyuki City and shadow a servant. I don't care which one...whichever you desire. Do not under any circumstances reveal yourself or even attempt to engage in combat."

"Me? I still don't think it's wise for me to go out and become a key player in this game. The King shouldn't be moving about on the board in an errant manner...if anyone wants to attack, they step within our territory. Now hop along, you've got scouting to do!"

And just like that, Assassin had been sent on his way. He had at first noticed an entirely overwhelming presence, not too soon after leaving the Temple. A presence filled with unbridled anger and also fearsome power. Assassin instinctively knew not to look for this presence, located near the Semina apartment complex. But moments later, he sensed a faint but equally resolute presence at the Fuyuki Bridge. This presence was calm, and calculated. Back when he was among the living, being calm and calculated was a vital part of Assassin's job, and the best method of survival in his mind. Assassin, seemingly drawn to this existence, carefully made his way towards the bridge, and eventually managed to rest himself on one of the structural supports near the apex of the bridge. 

Assassin felt like he was in the presence of a King. This man exuded a royal aura...yet there was something...foul surrounding him. Assassin didn't feel the same charisma he often felt oozed from his Master. This man was no leader. Yet he was a royal presence...


Assassin mulled all of this over in his head, as he stood silently and just watched as the man drew a bow and made several shots towards the darkness of the night. As long as he didn't make any attempts to engage, it was likely this man would never even notice he was being watched from 20 meters away...

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Archer Camp - Fuyuki Bridge / January 20th, 02:54

His last arrow had only just left his grasp when Archer noticed a presence sneaking up behind him.

“…hooves?”

Though the hard sound of hooves clacking against the cement of the road below him was the most noticeable, Paris could also feel soft thuds resonating on the metal beams he himself was using as a vantage point.

More of Rider’s beast?

Archer turned to see a pair of panthers balancing across the steel beams, their fangs bared and their sharp eyes monitoring his every movement. They had been steadily sneaking up on him while he was distracted by his own assault on Lancer, yet now that he had spotted them they dropped any pretext of stealth and approached him more aggressively. They were not alone. Paris could spot a small group of deer below him, though contrary to his knowledge of these docile creatures, they seemed to exude a bloodlust on par with the predators that stalked him above. However it wasn’t just the intent to kill which added potency to their aura.

“Magical energy. I see, so these are more of Rider’s pawns.”

While none of these animals had mana as potent as the beast Rider had summoned to block his arrow, they seemed to posses a faint wisp of magical energy regardless, enough to dominate their minds and instincts and to slightly enhance their physical capabilities. If that was the case, they would have no trouble killing humans, even docile species like deer or pigs, and would no doubt sow chaos if let loose in a city as dense as Shinto.

Wait. One thing didn’t add up. These animals came from Miyama, yet Paris had exchanged blows with Rider in Shinto only minutes prior. Closing his eyes and focusing his mind, Archer attempted to search for Rider’s signature but found himself chasing elusive remnants of his aura, like the smoke of a dying flame dispersing into the air. In other words, Rider had left the battlefield, yet the last trace of his presence was undoubtedly found in Shinto, so why did these animals originate from Miyama? Could this have been a contingency he had set up to ensure his victory had their battle dragged on for too long?

No matter. For now Archer needed to eliminate these threats.

Paris strung a single arrow and aimed it at the skull of the panther closest to him. Both beasts, responding in kind to their opponent’s open hostility and leapt across the beams to close the distance between them in a matter of seconds. However, they were simply enhanced animals in the end, whereas their prey was a Heroic Spirit. Archer released the arrow he had strung and watched it pulverize the skull of the targeted panther before side-stepping the second beast as it lunged at him midair, his second arrow already resting at his cheek. To slow to react, the panther was skewered by the arrow in its hind leg and failed to catch itself on the opposing beam. Desperately scratching at the metal in an attempt to save itself from slipping off, the panther eventually fell after seconds of squirming only have its head impaled by the shaft of another arrow held in Archer’s hand as he leapt off his own beam and nailed the animal into cement below himself. The carcass of the dead beast now stood between the advancing deer and Shinto as a warning, though Archer knew that it would do little to convince them to halt their march.

The deer charged and Paris drew his blade, each swing cutting deeply into their flesh and sawing at their bones, yet one swing wasn’t enough to kill them. His jabs were clumsy and his footwork left him open for an experienced fight to exploit. It took him two or three swings to sever the head of just one animal despite his superiority in all aspects of combat, such was the elementary application of his technique. Either way, animals were just animals in the end, none could stand up to a Heroic Spirit. Even if this particular one greeted them with a clumsy mimicry of swordsmanship. But even then…

“…I cannot afford to swap Hera’s boon for Athena’s over such simple foes.”

This was simply trash he had to dispose of before returning his attention to Lancer who should be fighting off his arrows by now. The longer he took the more he left himself open to a counterattack, but that was precisely why he preferred Hera’s gift over Athena’s. She was best equipped to deal with long-ranged bombardment, and as such, should be his preferred state when combating Lancer over long distances-

Suddenly. Without warning, Archer’s eyes widened in shock.

Caught up in his mindless disposal of the deer, Paris had failed to detect the presence of a single cobra. An animal was merely an animal, an existence ten leagues removed from the might of a Heroic Spirit, a creature that could never topple a crystalized legend that had existed in the Age of Gods… yet for every rule there was an exception. Archer’s body was in the middle of performing a predictable straight-forward swing aimed to bury his sword into the skull the last deer, and as such, was ill equipped to react to the cobra that had mingled with the herd. It’s body coiled only for an instant before releasing the tense power built up in its muscles and launching itself at Paris’ exposed neck. It’s fangs were bared with the expectation of digging into it’s victim’s exposed flesh, the venom dripping from them itching to be released into Archer’s bloodstream. Time seemed to freeze for that one instant. Paris followed the cobra’s attack with trembling eyes, his rapidly beating heart pounding against his skull. His dry lips were momentarily glued together before they finally parted to give voice to his panic.

“Athena I beseech thee!”

His existence was rewritten once again, his body and mind restructured to be the vessel for another goddess’ blessing. His muscles tensed and his grip around his blade tightened. There was no more clumsiness in his movement, no wasted effort and no openings in his footwork. With a single-minded goal his body moved as one, though it’s unnatural haste was nonetheless fueled by fright.

One second the cobra existed, the other it was completely wiped out.

A shattering blast resounded in the dead of night as a moderate scar was carved into the cement road of Fuyuki Bridge. Taking a deep breath to calm himself despite his body perfectly capable of handling this level of physical effort, Paris instinctively took a step back as his free hand reached for his neck. Even though he had expended more magical energy than necessary to obliterate the snake that had come for him, a single drop of venom had slipped past him and splashed against his neck. While this cobra hadn’t seemed particularly venomous, it’s poison would normally be harmless if it simply touched non-bruised epidermal skin, Paris could already feel the side of his neck blistering after having only come into contact with a single drop of venom.

“Curse you and your wicked poison…”, Archer muttered agitatedly as he sheathed his blade.

The animals were gone for now so he leapt back to the top of Fuyuki Bridge, but he had wasted no insignificant amounts of precious time. Thankfully he as alone and nobody had witnessed his shameful flailing. Worse than hurting his pride, his unsightly panic could have potentially revealed a critical weakness of his if only Lancer had closed the gap between them fast enough to see him.

Angered and annoyed by his own carelessness, Archer gazed back at Shinto to react to Lancer’s next move.

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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January 19th, 2:28 AM
Tohsaka Mansion

Slowly, Svanhild woke up. As her mind cleared, she became more aware of Berserker trying to tell her something, which she assumed was the reason she'd woken up in the first place.
"What is it, Berserker? Hungry?"
Berserker was getting very annoyed now, to put it mildly, but Svanhild finally picked up on that something was very wrong.
"Well, I've recovered, so let's go out and investigate. Stay in spirit form for now, Berserker."

Immediately after she exited the house, Svanhild spotted a tiger prowling the street. Feeling that it wasn't normal, she began preparing runes for battle, but only had time for one before it noticed her and jumped at her. Utilizing the power of the Ansuz rune to enhance her Gandr shots, she fired three curses at the tiger, two of which managed to penetrate the feral beast's skull.
Slightly out of breath, she muttered to herself: "Yeah, something is definitely not right." Slightly louder, she said: "Berserker, I'm gonna need you to defend me."
Miyama was rather empty tonight, probably in part due to people staying indoors during the night, owing to the mass amnesia incident and the exploding church, although Svanhild wasn't aware of either and was just disturbed by the unsettling silence.
Continuing their investigation, and continuing the fighting, Svanhild's Gandr shots claimed the lives of two warthogs and a penguin, and Berserker either knocked out or slew any other animals they encountered. She was interrupted from investigating a dead polar bear by a loud trumpeting.
As she spun around, she spotted a large African elephant charging towards her. Berserker finished off a lion he was fighting and leapt to her side, right before she dashed for cover. But Berserker stood his ground with a subtle, unsettling smile on his face.
As the elephant reached him, he grabbed one horn with each of his hands, took three steps back in speed with the elephant, planted one foot firmly into the ground, changed his posture to lower the center of his weight, and redirected the force of the elephant's charge upwards.
As the elephant's legs left the ground, its eyes went from fury to panic, as it realized it was no longer in control of the situation. Merely a moment passed before it was slammed into the ground on the other side of Berserker, legs in the air. The impact left it unconscious.
Wasting no time to be frozen in awe, Svanhild ran towards the elephant to investigate it, asking Berserker to keep it pinned to the ground in case it woke up. She could feel the magical energy in it slowly dissipating, and heard the heartbeat calm. 
"There's some sort of enchantment on these animals," she said, to no one in particular. Berserker released his grip on the downed elephant. He then looked up at something behind Svanhild, who turned around to see what he was looking at.

Edited by Leona

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Mount Miyama Shopping District, January 20th, 2020 Caster Camp. 2:27 A.M.


        "Thank you for your time ma'am if you recall anything no matter how small contact this number."Alastor recites the phrase with a practiced ease.  Jotting something down in his pocket sized notebook before handing her a card.

        "Oh it's no problem at all sir I'll let you know if I remember anything." The speaker an average looking house wife named Tsume replies before he turns the corner to take his leave.

       'Two Weeks.' Alastor mused, 'I've been here chasing leads for two weeks and no matter what all I get is more questions. Hell most of the masters were kids as opposed to adults like the reports imply. It's almost like somebody doesn't want the events of the last war to come to light'.
      
        "Shit! None of this makes sense." Alastor whispers under his breathe the chill in the night air causing his truck's window to fog up. His thoughts however were interrupted as a roar breaks through the silence of the night followed by high pitched scream.

         "Damn it what now!?" He rushes back only for his blood to turn to ice. There in the middle of the street a figure with golden fur and compact muscles was towering over the figure of a fallen woman. The woman he talked to not 5 minutes prior her apparel dyed crimson in her blood.


             Letting his training take over he upon closer inspection of the area notices the woman was thankfully the only victim of the animal frenzy most avoiding the districts at night do to his blunder two weeks prior. However, this didn't mean the lion was alone as overhead a menagerie of exotic birds were acting more akin to hawks hunting prey while a hulking brune of a bear was slowly breaking down the barricaded door of a chinese restaurant down the street.


          "Caster clip the wings of those birds then deal with the bear. I'll deal with Mufasa " Alastor commands the servant of spells as he materializes. he felt his face set in a snarl of rage remembering a night long past.

          "Very well the less chance of someone getting hurt the better. O' Wind!" Caster intones sending a controlled gale to break the wings of the avian swarm. As expected this attracts the attention of both murderous predators both letting loose earth shattering howls as they take off at speeds usually unobtainable to their species. However before both beasts could close the distance "O' Earth!" the bear was incased in a prison of earth . As for the lion...

         "Ehwaz! Uruz! Raidho!" Alastor shouts before taking off at breakneck speeds his body feeling a familiar flood of strength with each successive rune. He tackles the great beast sending it skidding back even as his strike meets an unexpected resistance. Looking at his opponent he see a faint light surrounding it a telling sign to his eyes. 

         "Caster these animals are being enhanced finish this quickly!" Alastor announces as the lion having shaken of the blow charges at him as it's claws tearing through the suit despite the fabrics enhanced defensive qualities. 'Shit if those claws get me I'm screwed time to get serious'  "Ansuz!


        Meanwhile not wanting to risk the bear breaking through it's concrete prison Caster decides to finish his fight before it truly starts  "O' Earth"  a stone spear thrusts through the bears  heart the light leaving it's eyes as it's goes still blood pooling out the bottom of its prison. 

       The lion sensing a change in his opponent snarls as it takes a second lunge. Alastor however with his strength and speed amplified even further manages to shatter it's defences alongside one of it's front legs with a kick. As the lion stumbles in its charge he delivers an elbow strike to its head sending the fangs flying out of the jaws of the beast. Leaving the beast no chance to recover  Alastor scrambles onto the back of the animal intent on strangling it. It thrashes around in vain as finally the feral lion's body goes limp. As Alastor walks away, hiding a wince as the runes are deactivated, the body erupts into dust disappearing once more from whence it came. 

'Judging by the fact the corpse is gone the lion must have been summoned by a servant the best guess being the Rider of this war.Why have it attack innocent people though? Was this just to draw out the other masters or to send a message of what's to come?' Alastor muses. "Caster," he calls getting his servants attention. "Have the two butlers drag the bear back to the mansion tell them to keep it cold I'll skin it when we get back."

Suddenly his phone goes off looking at the ID he releases a sigh, "Now let's go something tells me this is gonna be a long night."

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A bright light appeared before anything had happened, Within a few seconds of archer’s last arrow being fired lancer had already seen them being fired but just now moved, as she had whispered to her master, “Master use the gate when you feel it necessary” as The arrows dived down towards Lancer.
Othinus was unsure of what to do, as she wasn’t sure if lancer could beat all those noble phantasms and was afraid to use a Command Seal, as such she needed to make up her mind as she remembered that a master was close, so it was now or never.
“Lancer I order you to use your second noble phantasm and win against archer” as a split second passed and lancer looked liked she had slashed the air with her spear, as she said “Gate of Skye: Gate to the Magical Realm Brimming with Death” as a black orb appeared behind lancer, as it looked like it began to expand which began to look like an infinite void of nothingness on the inside, as Lancer said “Gate of skye, Release and open” As the Gate of skye began to turn into a vacuum, which began to Suck the arrows into it and Archer’s master below the ground, as lancer took out her spear and stomped her foot into the ground, as she began to to throw it a full power towards archer and in an instant The spear and arrows passed each other.

While everything was going on othinus was looking at everything with a blank expression, as a million thoughts ran trough her head while she was looked at the Gate of Skye, as she began thinking about the past.
“Scum, human trash, disappointment, Disgrace, monster, killer, murderer, thief, worthless, inhuman creature, bitch, pig, Retard, idiot, abnormal, livestock and slave were words othinus had been beaten to understand as positives, in her eyes getting noticed by her parents was all she ever wanted, however in the years before her brother’s birth she was not allowed to understand how the world worked by her father, which in turn expanded to her mother as such ‘normal’ was not a word she understood after all it was good othinus wasn’t normal that made her special after all, as such her emotions and idea of how people worked had been warped.”

“After the birth of her brother she was almost completely forgotten as a human being and was treated as a practice target for her brother, as such othinus didn’t understand how magic worked but rather that people who can use magic are good people and people who can’t are bad people, that Woman shouldn’t talk back to men and that othinus herself was useless and couldn’t do anything right, so she was dumb and dumb people aren’t good”

“However the death of her brother turned all that around, as the death took it’s toll on her father which in turn let her mother influence him enough to teach othinus, not as his daughter but as his ‘thing’ if she did something wrong she got beat, beat and beat some more and if she tried to talk back she got beat some more, however othinus wasn’t good at magic she was however extremely gifted by having Magic circuits at an unbelievable level, with the only downside being the quantity being nearly nonexistent, as such her family never knew of her true potential as she was ever only teached basic magic at the start, however as the years went by she far surpassed her parents which made her father despise her even more, as such he purposely pushed her to her limit and sometimes broke it just to see her in pain, but for othinus it was just her father trying her best after all her father is never wrong so it must’ve been the right way, as she learned magic she began learning about the Nordic gods and most importantly the all-father odin, with her mother putting into her head that she is odin’s vessel which made othinus take anything and everything her mother said, after all othinus was a ‘god’ her mother had said so it must be true, othinus in the first place has no formal education so without her parents she couldn’t possibly function alone, which both her parents knew, the father who hates her and her mother who uses her because of her hate for othinus’s father, so othinus wasn’t sure what to believe as she grew up her mindset became ‘she shouldn’t make decision’ until at the age of 28, othinus was granted a gift from god the command seals for the holy grail war and because she is a ‘god’ she can’t lose, after all she is the strongest her mother said so.”

“as othinus came back to her senses, the world began turn black by the sight of the gate of skye.”
 

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January 19th, 2:50 AM
Tohsaka Mansion

Mark had lied to Assassin when he said he was going to stay put. As he walked through the streets, with his phone in one hand and in-ear headphones plugged in, one might assume him as just a regular civilian. An odd guy for sure, after all who walks down dark alleyways and wide streets at the dawn of the witching hour, the dimly lit street lights flickering from ongoing use. But this was just a ruse.

Mark had ordered some blue hairspray through secure channels earlier, and he was also wearing tinted shades that blocked out his eyes. His command seals were covered by thick but finger-less gloves, on the normal hand too for good measure. He had applied the hairspray earlier at the shrine building, it was an azure blue; and he had also spiked his hair with gel. The authenticity is commendable, well done me! he mused as he stepped out of the corner of an alleyway. The mana signatures he had sensed on his little night walk were just around here. After reaching a wider road, Mark was in the vicinity of a gated residence.

Mark at first, saw only one person.  A fair, young woman. She had blonde hair and ocean blue eyes, and Mark immediately noticed a red flower clip in her hair. She also wore red tinted glasses (very fashionable thought Mark) and from this distance, Mark could barely make out some sort of jewelry adorning her neck. She was quite the stunner indeed. Foreign just like him. The description fit what he had been expecting like a glove.

Now you must know by now that Mark isn't the first thing you think of when you envision the image of a mage. His command seals were covered, he wore tinted glasses, he had dyed his hair and spiked it up something fierce, and he really didn't have a very imposing mana signature. Calling it subtle would be an understatement. 

Maybe it's fitting I summoned Assassin after all...he thought bemusedly, It's time to have some fun.

He slightly quickened his walking pace, and started speaking in purposefully bad Japanese:

"Argh, it says it's around here, where is it!?"

He scratched his head comically, before continuing "This is a rare encounter damnit...we won't see this monster again, and even if we do it'll be a 4*, not a 5*!"

He purposefully stopped about 20 metres short of the woman, and looked up with fake shock.

"Ah! I didn't see you there....woah now." He silenced himself with thick hyperbole. He had only now seen the large , muscular man a few feet from her. He was also caucasian, though not as pale as the woman, wearing chain mail armour covered in dirt, as well as an iron helmet. He had long hair and a thick beard. 

"Oh snap...and as luck would have it, I see a beautiful woman, and then right after a big macho man is standing next to her...gacha god, why must you be so cruel!? Even his cosplay is better than mine!" Mark moaned emphatically, before turning around even more comically and saying to himself loud enough for the woman to hear "No Joseph, you still have a chance! Charm beats brawn and brutish strength anyday...right?" The name was a throwaway alias...man I bet she's chuckling at the irony of me chucking the word charm in there.

Mark turned around and cleared his throat theatrically, then gave a warm smile, before bowing with his hand to his chest. "Oh fair lady...the gacha game doth given me no end of low luck, but your good graces have given me the strength to go on. Neither Shakespeare nor Poe could envision the rherotic I do when gazing upon you, and I vie for your attention; I shall prove that the pen is mightier than the (looks at the muscular man)....uh, chain mail".

Mark finished his mini speech, then returned from his bow and grinned at the woman. It looks like he had something to keep him preoccupied for the time being; watching a man standing and shooting arrows, and then killing some animals just wasn't his cup of tea. 

The shared perception is useful, but doing stuff like this is even better

He awaited her response.

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Archer Camp - Semina Apartments, Shinto District / January 20th, 02:51

Death.

Helmut could see nothing but death.

The breech in reality that Lancer had opened up was one of unimaginable proportions, a direct link to her very own realm of the dead; her fabled Land of Shadows. Helmut couldn’t believe it. He refused to believe it. After all, in the hands of this mythical Servant was held the answer to dimensional travel, a form of thaumaturgy closer to the 2nd True Magic than anybody in the modern magi community had ever and could possibly ever achieve in this lifetime or the next, a true miracle made form. What mattered wasn’t so much the fact that this apparent Noble Phantasm of hers opened a gateway to her Land of Shadows, what was even more important was the placement of this realm. The World of humans had long since rid itself of the mythical and the divine, all traces of the phantasmal have been eradicated long since the coming of the Age of Man, but this didn’t mean that they no longer existed. In a layer one step removed from ours existed the Reverse Side of the World, the spiritual counterpart to our physical dimension in which we reside in, which was become home to all creatures of myth. Gods, Beasts, and Elementals, all phantasmal beings that had lived freely on Earth in the Age of Gods had sought refuge in this realm and generally didn’t interact with the world of men anymore. It harbored all existences and regions, all the Heavens of the Divine and all the Realms of the Demonic, and was such the eventual destination of the deceased and forgotten. Yet, against all odds, Helmut was offered a view straight into this mysterious realm… a view that was priced to high for a mortal human like himself.

“You can’t be serious… this can’t be real…”

Helmut’s mind was thrown into a panic. The ecstasy of being granted a sight most magi would kill and die for was transformed into raw fear and terror. That was only to be expected, there was no other way he could have possible reacted. Death. He saw death, his own imminent death.

“No… not like this! Not now…”, tears welled up from his blood-shot eyes, his body already too weak to struggle simply by being close to the gate.

Continuously and without pause, the gate sapped away any and all magical energy, nay, his very life force like a gluttonous void. It feasted on the loose rubble first, then came the rocks and boulders until the unending void gnawed on the foundation of the crumbled Semina Apartment Building itself; all the while Helmut could merely hopelessly watch on the brink of losing himself to the overwhelming and crushing presence exerted by the mythical gate. In a matter of seconds his body lost all warmth. Starting from his limbs the numbing cold relentlessly ate its way towards the core of his chest, depriving him of any sensation and leaving him slumped over on the ground; his collapsed posture almost seemed like he was kneeling before the mistress of death before him. His sight came next, starting with color he was slowly deprived of his view of the world, each passing second making him realize how much he missed the vibrancy of something so simple as color, something he had previously spent nary a thought on and had taken for granted. Soon he finally felt his body caught in the forceful pull of the gate’s unending suction. It would be over. Just a little longer and he’d be freed of this nightmare. Just one more-

Helmut’s fading thoughts stopped as he saw something swallowed by the Gate out of the corner of his eye. It was a person. Brown hair, fair skinned, and clothed in simple pajamas as if she had only just left her bed minutes prior. She was unconscious, but that frailty didn’t suit her. Full of life, strong, stubborn, an occasional hint of sadness as if she was missing somebody important to her. That is how he remembered her. She was human, so painfully ordinarily human, yet she deserved to live more than himself, more than anybody.

“Archer…”, Helmut whispered, his cracked voice dry like dust and faint as a breeze, yet somehow dripping with emotion he didn’t know he still had, “…I refuse for it to end like this… for her… but this is a power you cannot overcome…”, his body was dragged across the ground and lifted into the air closer to the source of the devouring vortex, “…by all the gods… anybody who is listening…”, his body made contact and slowly disappeared into the Gate of Skye, only his arm now remained in the world of men, flaring to life one last time in a brilliant flash of crimson red, “…any god who is close to Paris, I am offering you all three of my Command Spells… please… help him win this War and-”

don’t let her death have been for naught.

Helmut ceased to be before his final plea, yet his Command Spells had received their order before his mind stopped functioning. In a massive surge of magical energy, three crystallizations of high-thaumaturgy exploded to life at the same time and sought to fulfill the last command of their caster. Under normal circumstances, Command Spells could accomplish feats that bordered on miracles, imitations of True Magic that could be expended for a single-use. Things such as teleportation and the restructuring of one’s cognitive functions were easily achievable, yet these pocket-sized miracles had a limit. The broader the order or the more unrealistic the goal, the weaker the effects of the Command Spell. There were some things that were simply outside the realm of possibility, and such commands would usually end with the Servant in question simply receiving the expended energy as additional mana reserves or a temporary boost to their ranks.

However.

There was more than one miracle at play this time. Not one, not two, but three Command Spells were activated simultaneously with a single shared objective. While this still wouldn’t have been enough to accomplish something as extraordinary a feat as calling upon the Gods that no longer existed in this realm… against all odds, a “Gate” had been opened. A breech that shattered the divide between this and the Reverse Side of the World, and while only temporary, a link could now be established. The compulsive might of the Command Spells recognized this and crossed into the phantasmal realm of the deceased and forgotten. From one afterlife to the next, they traveled until they finally encountered the olympian pantheon.

The Command Spells entered this realm… and woke a God.

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

Archer Camp - Fuyuki Bridge / January 20th, 02:56

“What… what is this?!”

Paris looked upon the city in pure shock as he witnessed the activation of Lancer's second Noble Phantasm. No doubt had this been a response to his flurry of blows he had assumed to be undodgeable, yet this magnitude of power was breathtaking nonetheless. He knew Scathach to be killer of Gods and ruler of the Land of Shadows, yet even then he would have never expected her to possess a Noble Phantasm that very well might just be at EX Rank. Furthermore…

“How ironic. In my attempt to protect him from Lancer I instead was the one who caused his death…”, Paris muttered with a remorseful scowl.

True, they had last parted on rather bad terms, the last conversation he would ever have with his Master being a small fight, yet he couldn’t deny that he had found Helmut to be rather agreeable. He wasn’t unpleasant, nor was his naivety off-putting. If anything, Archer regretted the death of the girl that had become their neighbor. Given time, she might have grown into a fine warrior indeed.

Paris shook his head. Forget it. The battle wasn’t over yet, he couldn’t afford himself to be distracted by sentimentality. He was used to loss, so he needed to ignore it. Ignore the welling heat of his blood. The urging of his pumping heart. The itching of his fingers longing for an arrow to give shape to his feelings. No. Rushing in now would be suicide. In face of such power he was nothing more than a pebble in Lancer’s path. He couldn’t. He shouldn’t. Yet why hadn’t he run yet?

“Damnit, and here I had thought I was above it all…”, Archer hung his head as the last trace of his Master’s bond vanished into thin air.

Then. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a light shot out of Scathach’s Gate of Skye. A single brilliant luminescence that lightened up the night like the descending sun. The shadow of darkness was washed clean with the brightness of day wherever the light traveled, as if what had emerged from Lancer’s gate was the sun itself. The light moved at blinding speed, like a soaring comet it cut apart the sky like a burning sword, and far away the forests bordering Fuyuki City rejoiced in glee. As if every tree celebrated the emergence of the light, every sapling and every full-grown oak groaned and rustled their leaves to welcome the grace of the sun that was their God.

“What the-”, Archer exclaimed in surprise, yet his words were cut off at the realization of what this entity was, “…no, not you. Why is it you?”

Baffled and frozen by the absurdity of the situation, Paris could only look on as the light darted across the city until it finally found its destination; Fuyuki Bridge. It wasted nary a second as it collided against Paris’ body and seeped into his skin, the very heat of its existence burning and melting the steel beams around them. The process was painful. Excruciatingly so. The existence did not hold back, or rather, it purposefully caused as much pain as it could as it took over and reshaped the Servant Vessel Paris had inhabited to make it its own. 

To summon a Servant one needed a Vessel. 7 empty Servant Vessels were provided at the start of the Holy Grail War. Those were the simply truths on which the foundation of the Fuyuki Grail was built upon. To summon these Servants the empty Vessels needed to be filled with Heroic Spirits... yet what was filled could alternatively be replaced. While it was commonly unheard of to force one existence over another, there was one precedent for this phenomena. A True Assassin was once summoned into the Vessel of a fake summoned by another Servant. In both this case and the last, the Servant itself had been the catalyst for such an irregular invocation since a strong link was required for such an irregularity to even be possible. In the past it had been the Vessel that had allowed for it to happen, the designation of Assassin itself, yet in this case it was the opposite. The Heroic Spirit, or rather the person itself, had become the anchor to which this existence was bound, the bait to lure in a God.

Screaming and writhing in pain, Paris could feel his mind and body fading away, his essence being annihilated by the painfully bright light. Not just his physical body was being replaced, even his spirituality changed considerably. Archer’s aura lost its golden shine and instead took on a much more earthen color. The brown of tilled fields, the richness of nutritious earth. The warmth of the sun’s touch, the solace of a mother’s embrace. While it still kept a hint of golden glamour, Archer’s aura was now almost unrecognizable, and neither were his physical features what they once were. Paris was gone and a new Archer had taken his place. A new Servant. A God.

Now unconscious due to the strenuous process of possession, the new Archer stumbled and fell off the bridge, plummeting headfirst into Fuyuki River. There a new presence, a third-party that hadn’t been there a moment ago, caught the body in bubbling water to break the surface tension and reduce the damage of the impact before disappearing upriver; a faint shimmer on the water’s surface the only proof of its existence.

Edited by ChristmasForJuan

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Fuyuki Bridge / January 20th, 02:56

Assassin had spent his time watching the man fight off animals with relative style and grace, but what happened next astounded even him.

In what seemed like a mere instant a beam of light shot down onto the man, and he could be seen to writhe in agony. Assassin remained silent and out of tangible reach. 

The light disappeared, and the man plummeted head first from the apex of the bridge, down into the water. From his position, Assassin knew not of his Fate. But he had caught that this was a...different presence. The man looked and more importantly felt different. 

"What a lucky soul...he achieved it." Assassin wallowed, "All I want is to be accepted. I want to transform into a different person...a person who would be accepted and not judged. I'm no monster...I am as human as the rest of you." This self pitying train of thought soon came to a head. Assassin switched tracks. 

"What to do now? The commander ordered me to perform recon..." he thought, before uttering aloud "THE BULLIES MUST SUFFER". It was in no way related to his thought, but rather a sordid drudged up memory. 

Assassin was still afraid of the Gate, and rightfully so. He instead turned his attention to a mana signature radiating warmly from the shopping district in Miyama. This signature seemed innocent, curious, warm, and yet...clearly powerful. 

Intrigued, Assassin started to make his way towards the gently emanating signal with his signature subtelty. There was more yet to observe. 

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??? - Mion River / January 20th, 03:02

The silence of night had overtaken the world, yet the domain of moon and stars brought with it a melody of its own. Not an eerie stillness, but rather a somber orchestra of subtle melodies. The river’s ebb and flow set a peaceful rhythm for the nearby forest to follow, leaves mimicked the sound of rushing water as they were ruffled by the seaside breeze, and branches stretched and groaned as the first inhabitants of the forest began to wake from their nightly slumber.

It was here, where nature was left to prosper due to the negligence of the people, that Archer was taken by the presence that had appeared in the water. Truly, a place that had yet to be touched by humans was were she felt most at ease, and likewise would it grant them a chance to converse. Away from the machinations of Gods and Men, away from their schemes and wiles, and away from the war that seemed to be fought in the city’s center. War. War. The children of men seemed so fond of their wars and squabbles. War had taken him away from her then, and it had taken him away from her now.

The entity carefully placed Archer on the riverbank deep within the forest. The water around them took on a gentle glow which illuminated their dark surroundings with a soft blue iridescence as the entity made certain that Archer was free from physical injury. Once done, passed the time while she waited for Archer to wake. She entertained the school of fish that had trailed behind her. They were curious, fascinated, strangely nostalgic about her presence. Like a memory that eluded their grasp, like a childhood friend they had forgotten and had reunited with. She smiled somberly at the fish. It seemed that nature had never forgotten them even after they had left. Soon enough the creatures of the forest noticed the commotion and approached her with the same wary curiosity that had overcome the fish, and within a span of minutes, the riverbank had had transformed from a lonely meadow into a scenery commonly illustrated in fairy tales and children’s books. Deer gave themselves to her gentle careers and hummingbirds fetched colorful flowers to adorn her hair. A family of squirrels curled up next to were she sat while nightingales accompanied her enchanting voice as she sang them all a lullaby.

For the first time since that fateful day, she smiled.

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

Archer - Mion River / January 20th, 03:28

Archer woke to a melancholic melody sung by a voice too beautiful to be human.

It was dreadful. The song was lovely beyond compare, but the performer’s own sorrow permeated each and every note, dyeing an otherwise lively song with the gloom of mourning. It was dreadful precisely because it was beautiful, it was a song that laid bare a maiden’s grieving heart, a melody reminiscent of the ballads performed by Orpheus himself. Unwilling to continue listening to this desolate performance, Archer rose from her sleep and opened her eyes to regard the source of the singing. There, a few paces left to where she had been put to rest, a woman faintly sang her lullaby to the animals that had gathered to listen.

She didn’t wear any clothes, yet seemed comfortable in her nakedness, so much so that it would seem unnatural for her to be covered in the fabrics woven by men. She had seated herself comfortably beside the river, at the edge where water intersected with land, and had arranged her unnaturally long hair in such a way that some of it floated playfully on the river’s shimmering surface. In fact, her earthen green hair seemed almost indistinguishable from the vibrant plant-life growing out of the river, so much so that it was impossible to distinguish where her hair ended and vegetation begun. Similarly, her skin appeared to be glistening wet yet dry at the same time, like the reflection of the stars catching themselves on running water, almost as if this woman was the embodiment of a water itself. Truly, she seemed transcendent in every way, and as such, it was impossible for Archer to mistake her for anybody else.

“Why did you help me, Oenone?”

Oenone’s eyes flashed towards her now awake companion and continued to unhurriedly bring an end to her performance. Most of the animals had dozed off by then, most notably a family of swans that had chosen to move closer to Archer before curling up into feathery pillows and awaiting the coming of day. At the sudden return of silence, Oenone turned to look at Archer, her eyes as deep and tranquil as a forest pond.

“I had found you at the center of a war fought by Heroic Spirits, should I have not brought us to a place were we could talk in peace?”

Archer held her gaze for a full second before releasing the breath she had been holding and relaxing her tense shoulders. At the very least Oenone showed no hostile intent towards her. Reaching out to the swans beside her and caressing their soft bodies, Archer continued in a more relaxed tone.

“Last we met you regarding me with nothing but scorn, so please forgive me for being surprised to see you carry me out of harm’s way after showing me such an honest display of a woman’s fury.”

Oenone responded with a gentle smile. It was as if her face was made for nothing other than displaying such a lovely expression, yet for Archer it was easy to discern that it was simply a mask she wore to protect her wounded heart.

“True… there was a time when I was incapable of feeling nothing but hate for you, but those were the emotions of a younger me. I am embarrassed of my own irrationality I showed you back then, but eventually it became clear to me that we were both simply pawns. Small pieces of a distasteful game played by the Gods, you and me, victims and casualties alike.”

Archer’s eyes briefly widened in surprise to her companion’s confession, “I never expected to live the day that you would come to like me.”

“No you are correct, I never have nor do I now, but at the very least do I sympathize with you now that I have reflected on the events that lead to his death. I might not harbor hatred towards you anymore, but neither can I bring myself to like you. Surely you understand.”

“Your dislike of me is easier to understand than your continued longing for that man. Even now I reek of his stench. I had thought to annihilate every last shred of his existence, but it seems he is unwilling to keep his lecherous fingers away from me even past his second death. At the very least his stench isn’t as pervasive now as it had been then, so I suppose it should disappear before long.”

“…that is surprising.”

“What? My distaste for my captor, the man who tore me from my true husband and child simply so that he could satisfy his youthful urges? You seem to be sorely mistaken if you ever believed that I felt anything but contempt for the man who turned my own people against me.”

Oenone made a hollow attempt at a chuckle, “How ironic. A tragedy more akin to the Rape of Philomela rather than the romantic union of star-crossed lovers. To think that the greatest of Greek’s Heroes died for a lie.”

“And yet it doesn’t seem like you bear hatred towards the man who caused the Slaughter of Troy.”

Oenone’s movements froze for a brief second, though her hesitation was immediately covered up by her unfailing mask of a smile.

“You are wrong, daughter of Zeus. I felt nothing but love for my unfaithful husband, but the man you have described to me is a monster, a beast in human skin that has as much become a victim of our God’s wiles as us. That man is abhorrent and sickening, which is why I let him die on that day as he came crawling back to me, seeking out my skill as a healer rather than looking upon me as his wife. My husband is dead. He died the day he was put under Aphrodite’s spell, the man who existed after falling to her temptations was Paris no longer.”

“Then why is it that you came?”

“…”

“Even despite our shared hatred for that man, neither of us could resist this opportunity, could we not?”

“As I said, my husband is dead. He chose the life of a Heroic Spirit instead of returning to the Underworld… yet the time we spent together in our youth remains dear to me. Don’t misunderstand, were he to return to me now I would abandon him just as I had in life, but I cannot deny nor forget the blissful dream from which I have now awoken. While I care for him no longer… I could not resist the chance to lay my eyes on him one last time. To see what had become of him in his years of service as a Heroic Spirit.”

Archer furrowed her brow as she listened to her companion’s honest reply. It seemed the two of them were fundamentally different in the end. They were identical in every aspect but one: Oenone had allowed herself to move on and rid herself of the hatred for her husband, whereas she could never allow herself to forgive him. Not in life, nor in death.

Oenone noted Archer’s silence and encouraged her to speak.

“So this was your final goodbye then, Oenone? One last look at our wicked prince before leaving his memory behind you?”

“A goodbye that you have deprived me of in your haste to give shape to your rage, but yes, I see no reason to linger now that this opportunity is squandered.”

“Even if it meant forfeiting you chance at the Grail?”

“…I see. This explains your unexpected willingness to subject yourself to the call of the thaumaturgy that had managed to penetrate into the Reverse Side of the World. Even after ascending to Godhood you lack the power to change your fate, is that why you now rely on the tools of Men to do it for you?”

“I don’t expect you to understand Oenone, to you Paris was no more than an unfaithful husband. To me he was the kidnapper that tore me from my husband and daughter, my country and and my people. He was the rapist that ravished my body day after day, the coward who chose to hide himself from the wrath of my lawful husband and incited a war simply so that he could keep his prized treasure. I was despised Oenone! Hated by Troy for bringing the armies of Greece to their doorstep and detested by Greece for ‘being an unlawful wife’. If you care to remember, it wasn’t the Trojans that killed me. No. I died at the hands of Greece’s jealous wenches and the soldiers who believed me to be the cause of their companion’s deaths. I answered the call of this Grail because our Gods are nothing but incompetent fools who would gladly incite a war amongst men for something as insignificant as a contest of beauty. No Oenone, I have lost my faith in the Gods and must now place my trust in the hands of Men.”

“Are these truly the words befit of a Goddess?”

“Goddess or not, it is a fate I am willing to change at any cost. For that I would gladly lower myself to the status of a Servant.”

“I see… in that case I must apologize, I had greatly misjudged you. Had things been different we might have even become friends.”

“Don’t make me laugh, what would an Oread of Mount Ida ever have in common with the Queen of Sparta save for a mutual hatred for an unfaithful Prince?”

Both Oenone and Archer exchanged a playful look before breaking out into soft chuckles. Archer was right. Had Oenone laid eyes on her back when she was alive she would have undoubtedly been overcome by jealousy due to Archer’s blessed beauty; such was the childish way of Mount Ida’s nymphs. This uncommon friendship, the fragile bond the two of them currently shared was an unprecedented friendship borne out of a single man’s selfish acts.

“In that case I assume you will be returning to the Reverse Side of the World soon, Oenone?”

“Correct, I have no more business in this era. Besides, as an elemental this foreign land is strange and new to me. It seems this territory belonged to a dragon long time ago, so my continued presence would be seen as a breech in etiquette if I lingered for too long. This Grail you seek is yours to fight for, I will have no part in this war.”

Archer nodded in assent as she rose to her feet.

“One more thing, daughter or Zeus. After you fell from the bridge his bow remained. I had assumed it was merely an echo of his existence and would vanish soon enough, but it has yet to disappear. What do you think of it?”

Archer regarded the royal bow offered to her with a critical eye before taking it into her own hands and examining the quality of the craftsmanship, weighing it in both hands and testing the spryness of the wood before returning it to spirit form, much to Oenone’s surprise.

“Why are you surprised? My dear husband took everything from me, yet he forgot that in marriage we share everything. It is quite simple really, what is his is mine.”

Oenone simply responded with a complicated smile before turning away and disappearing into the river, her physical form seemingly melting away until it was indistinguishable from water.

Following her example, Archer left the meadow they had shared and headed back towards the city from whence she came. The night was no longer young and she could already feel her existence waning without an anchor to keep her in this world. She had until roughly 3 hours after sunrise to successfully bind herself to this era. She could not fail in this task, she wouldn’t allow herself to. This was her only chance to change her fate and return to her the happiness that was pried away from her by the Gods.

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Shopping Center around 2:30 am
After Saber flips the car back on its correct side, and Michael was able to carefully lay a passed out Ilya on the ground, he quickly goes to the trunk to get his belongings.

Saber comments “I didn’t expect Ilya to be a secret mage. Do you think she was keeping that secret from us this whole time?” Michael replies “I don’t know, I’ll have to ask the only mage we know.” as he puts on a vest that allows him to carry an assault rifle (AK-47) on his pack, and two pistols on his sides (Glock on the left, Colt Remington on the right, and the Contender on his pack, with the ammo in seperate pockets in his jacket and the magazines for the rifle on his pockets of this new vest.)

Saber then says “Are you sure about carrying so much fire power out in the open?”

Michael then replies “We are in a battle zone. Once things calm down, I’ll figure out a way to hide this. Until then, we need to stop this attack and figure out what caused it in the first place.”

Saber then says, with her battle designed blue dress flowing in the wind “So that leads us to call our favorite Irish mage. Well, I guess we don’t really have any better options now do we?”

Michael nods in agreement and calls Alastor. Rings fills the noise in his ear as he looks out at the streets and buildings, all wrecked by the animals just recently defeated. He eventually gets an answer.

“Alastor, you there?” says Michael.

"Yeah I'm here. Guessing you got caught up in this mess too?" Alastor replies

"That response implies this...animal attack spread to where ever you are. Speaking of which, I may need to get to you. Any idea where you're located?" Michael responds as he kneels down to check on Ilya.

"Let's see looks like I'm around a chinese place in the Miyama Shopping District. Just took out a lion and bear." Alastor answers.

Michael chuckles a bit, surprised he is still finding levity in this strange situation. "Yeah we took out a few chimps, birds, a rhino, and..." he pauses, realizes he is about to speak about Ilya until Saber interjects. She says "What do you mean we? I did all the work!" Michael scratches the back of his head "Okay, Saber took out all the animals I mentioned." he then finishes honestly.

"Yeah it's a real mad house right now weird thing about the lion though when I broke it's neck the beastie just erupted in Mana guess you can guess what that means."

Michael realizes the implication "So the animal you killed was summoned by someone? But the animals here are just corpses. They haven't dissipated, except Saber mentioned that she felt some strange barrier when she hit these animals. It seemed to imply some sort of magic."

He gently moves the hair on Ilya's head to check if she has any injuries before he continues, "I am starting to get sick of all this weird magecraft. In fact, I saw something really strange just happen recently that I may need to ask you for some advice to figure out what happened. You mentioned a chinese place right? I'll stay on the line, we are coming to you. Let me know when you can see us."

"You think this is bad you haven't seen anything yet." Alastor replies with a hint of levity in his voice. "Still I'll keep an eye out for you and the lady but be careful."

"Got it." says Michael as he puts the phone on speaker and places it on his chest pocket so he can free his hands to pick up Ilya, essentially carrying her like a baby. He makes sure his left hand is able to be free so he can reach for his Glock to attack any animals that may come in their way.

"Ready Saber? I will require you to defend me?" says Michael. Saber responds "Gotchya Master." as the duo with Ilya in tow travel to the Chinese restaurant.

On their travels, they come across a variety of birds, which led to Michael shooting at a few while Saber starts slightly whimpering at the sight of dead birds. Michael says "Get over it Saber. I really am sorry, but we gotta keep moving." However, Saber responds still wailing comically "But they were birds....BIRDS!!! YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND!"

Her loud noises started attracting more attention causing Michael to quickly console her as he hold Ilya. "I am sorry Saber, I promise I won't shoot any more birds okay?" He looks around seeing eyes hidden and hearing growls. He thinks (Crap wolves). "Umm....Saber." She responds, wiping her tears "I got it." before going in to slash a pack of wolves as Michael starts firing at the wolves with his Glock, seeing that the shield seemed to prevent bullets from penetrating the animals. (Damn, they are practically useless.) He then looks at Ilya, still surprised she is asleep despite the loud gunfire. (She must be spent from doing...whatever she just did to that Elephant. It doesn't matter what secrets this girl keeps, I gotta keep her safe. I know Taiga wouldn't forgive me if anything happened to her.)

He looks back at Saber, still wiping her sword of blood after killing the pack of wolves. "Yeah...I'm done." she says with a gruff voice as if she was Clint Eastwood in a western. Michael then says "..Okay good. The GPS says we are getting close." He decides to talk to Alastor, hoping he is still on the line.

"Hey Alastor, you see us yet?"

"Yeah I think I see you and wait is that a kid?! There's liking them younger but don't make me call the police on ya."

"....That is your response." says Michael. Saber asks "What did he say? Did he call you a pedo? Did he?" Michael responds "Shut up Saber."

He answers back on the phone "Just remember I am carrying a few weapons on me. Don't make me shoot you on accident." he says in irritation as he, with Saber walks to the restaurant.

"Yeah yeah learn to take a joke. I take it she's the reason for the strange sight?"

"Yeah, she....I think she's a mage." answers Michael as he walks through the restaurant and places her gently on a couch inside. Saber then answers herself "Yeah she is, there is no other explanation for what she did to that elephant. Quite powerful for a modern mage too I think." confirming Michael's suspicions.

"The kid took care of an elephant herself that is an accomplishment. Alright let's have a look to see what's going on. Caster" Alastor calls for his servant. As Caster astrilizes his hands glow with a warm gentle light. "Lucky for us Caster is a damn fine medic if anyone can figure this out its him"

"Just don't harm her okay? I just want to know what is going on with her." says Michael.

Saber, understanding her master's concern says "Yeah, don't try anything funny, or..." she unsheathes her sword to show its metal. "bad things are gonna happen."

"Don't worry all I'm doing is looking her over to find out what's wrong. So while I figure this out do you mind going into further details as to why she fell unconscious. If I have a general idea I'll know what to look for." Caster replied his tone professional as his hands hover above her body.

Michael nods to show that he understands. "I...I saw her summon these strange crystallized figures that looked kinda of like birds, and they were attached with her with these very light strings that are barely visible."

Michael tries to recall even more "The figures just blasted the Elephant apart, filling it up with holes. It was after this that she just passed out."

"I see. Alright well I do see some strain in her magic circuits. It doesn't appear to be a lack of mana her stores look like they were barely touched. The problem is that her circuits have atrophied from lack of use causing her to fall into a state of unconscious from the shock. She should be fine if a little sore by lunch tomorrow." Caster intones with a ease that only comes with years of practice even as a puzzled expression flashes across his face.

"So...she passed about because she hasn't flexed her muscles in a while?" says Saber in a basic manner.

Michael then asks, ignoring Saber's comment "Why does she possess so much magic? Is she from some mage family like us?"

"That's what has me puzzled. All the evidence points to her being an Einzbern humunculus, but from what I've come to understand all the founding families of the Grail War have disappeared." Caster answers.

"Aye it's true we've been looking all over for any of the members to try and figure out what's happened. Far as I can tell she's the only living Einzbern left." Alastor says in response.

"Einzbern?" Michael asks puzzled.
 

Saber answers "It's some old mage family, one of the first that started this ritual of this Holy Grail War."

Michael asks "How do you know this?"

Saber answers "I think all of us servants have like the basic encyclopedic knowledge on several topics, we just don't know all the most personal aspects of certain matters of history. It's kinda weird, right Caster?" She asks to her fellow servant to get some similar response.

"Saber's right when the Grail summons us from the Throne of Heroes it uploads all relevant information into our current selves. How else are we supposed to know Japanese when a majority of heroes hail from all over the world." Caster says as he takes a teachers stance.

Saber nods "Yep Professor Caster is right."

Michael, still perplexed, decides to ask a different question "So Ilya is of this old mage family? And you said they aren't alive anymore?"

"Well that's what we gathered all that was left when my team was sent to investigate. All we found were few dead half formed humunculi and some notes on their families magecraft. To be fair we may have some more notes hidden away back at our base but I wouldn't count to much on that." Alastor answers.

"Would any of this help us figure out who caused this mystical animal attack?" asks Michael.

Saber continues "Yeah, that is our most pressing concern."

"Well judging from the fact that neither of us did this and I have an idea on who Lancer may be evidence points toward this being the work of a Rider or Assassin and let's just say I'm leaning more towards Rider on this one."Alastor says getting to the point.

"Is there a way you can...I don't know, find the closest magical spike? Like someone who just used a good amount of magic like a servant?" asks Michael.

Saber replies "You want some magical radar?"

Michael responds "Well, they were able to detect you when you used your portals. Maybe they can get some sort of reading about another servant?"

"Well our best bet would be Caster I only caught that bit because my sight is the sense that's linked to mana sensing. Well Caster?"

"Hm..." Caster closes his eyes trying to find the closest signature to their own. "Ah looks like we're in luck we have three signatures grouped together southeast of here. If we hurry we maybe able to get there before they leave."

"Well there you have it if you want we can take my truck should be there in a few minutes."Alastor offers.

"Ok, let's get going." Michael says. He looks to Saber, "Can you carry Ilya for me? I need to get ready for a fight."

Saber picks up Ilya, carrying her over her back. "Yeah, I guess its time we get out of this imitation of Chinese food. I mean, the meals here look decent enough, but I never ate anything like this back home."

The duo start walking out of the restaurant, waiting for Caster and Alastor to leave and get the truck.

"Well its just around the corner here's hoping the reinforcement held up to whatever is still out here" Alastor says making his way out to the black truck. "Ah there she is looks like we got lucky. Put what you don't need to feel comfortable in the bed and let's go." Alastor comments. 'Man am I glad I invested in the four door.

Michael and Saber enter in the truck with Ilya gently placed on Saber's lap. Saber comments "Aww she is kinda adorable when she isn't annoying me."

Michael waits for Alastor to reach the driver's seat and sees Caster enter the passenger seat next to him. He stays close to his own servant with Ilya. "I guess it's time we end this whole mess." The group travels together to where this magical signature exists, preparing for a possible battle.

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Berserker, having never taken etiquette classes, grunted as he realized the stranger didn't seem willing to fight. He then walked off, looking for something else to do.
Svanhild, however, just stood there, confused by the man's behavior. He seemed to be called Joseph. Deeply unsettled by his words (at least, the ones she could understand), and apparent advances, she repeatedly opened her mouth to say something, only to fail to find any words. She was detecting no magical energy from the man, and didn't recognize his appearance, so he probably wasn't a Master. She wanted to ask him how he had failed to notice any of the rampaging animals around the city, but felt like it was likely better if he didn't realize what was going on. Finally, she settled on something to say.
"Uh.... hi."
She then looked to Berserker for support, only to see him wander off. Turning back to "Joseph", she attempted to say something again, but her mind was still a blank. Just then, she felt an enormous surge of magical energy from Shinto, signifying that an incredibly powerful Noble Phantasm had been activated. Though, as she was already disoriented by "Joseph", her shock at this was easy to hide as further confusion.
"Uh..." she repeated.

 

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Mark showed signs of fake shock and then embarrassment. He then began speaking in English, hoping Svanhild understood. She better bloody understand, he mused.

"Ah... you don't speak Japanese? I shouldn't have assumed to be honest, after all not all foreigners would know it, if anything I'm struggling with the language too!"

He moved ever so slightly closer, but not by a significant amount and continued with "Anyway, I was saying that my name is Joseph, and I'm a foreigner just like you. You can forget all that other stuff if you understood any of it. I much prefer to play the game as is". Mark sighed, and then turned his attention to what was most likely a Berserker class servant given his appearance. 

"Who is this guy then? Boyfriend? Husband? Father? Bodyguard? He's got some pretty cool fashion sense huh...don't tell me he's into cosplay too?" Mark asked quizzically.

He had not expected the response he had gotten. There was no fun to be had without something to work with, and her being off guard had actually managed to unnerve him. Is she faking? If not...is she truly prepared? Mark recalled how he had been berated by the old man at the Clock Tower, and then sardonically thought I suppose I'm not one to talk...

All the while he was talking like this, it seems Assassin had appeared in the vicinity. Using his abilities, Mark realised that Assassin was perched on streetlamp just a few meters from the two humans,  poised and ready, alert and watching, focused. Mark had his shared perception on all the way on his walk to the mansion and subsequent encounter with Svanhild, and as such had witnessed second hand the metamorphosis of Archer. This is valuable knowledge no doubt, and hey, it might give me an advantage, Hell knows I need one.

Mark also had a good view of the seemingly black hole which was the Gate of Skye, and the sheer magnitude of its power. For the first time, he was afraid. He had no idea how he could have combated Archer if it had come to it, let alone Scatach. Perhaps the situation he had entered into now was of good fortune.

"So, what's your business in Miyama? Sightseeing?" he spoke, before suddenly obtaining a sense of dread. Assassin affirmed his doubt "Something formidable approaches" was all he said, but Mark reckoned he was tensing up all the same. Gonna have to keep a level head...maybe they'll think I'm a civilian too?

There was still plenty of room for doubt. Mark had on him a Luger Model 1906 (Neuer Modell) with a fair few 7.65×21 mm Parabellum (.30 Luger) ammo pouches lining the inner pockets of his coat, as well as 3 Two-Tone Black Throwing Knives, with three under each sleeve. With a flick of the wrist, these could be brought to his hands. He also carried a Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife, sheathed with an internal holder in his coat. And last but not least, he had his gauntlet and loyal Servant. It would have to do.

Mark wondered how to get this woman on his side for the coming battle, whether she sensed it too, and if either of them were ready.

 

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January 20th, 03.05 AM
Shinto, Harbor
 
"I did say pick it up when you can Velvet, but 3 AM, seriously?"
 
"I'm not exactly in control of my schedule here."
 
The black haired woman groaned "Your mother would've at least been funny about it."
 
Out of all the people I could've found, I had to find the one who knew mother. Peter thought lamentably. While the woman's skills were unquestionable and she for some reason decided to fly all the way from Ireland to make a deal with him in person, her constantly talking about Peter's mother was starting to get on his nerves, like somebody scratching an old wound. "If you knew her so well, maybe you should've told her not to die." He retorted bitterly.
 
The black haired woman paused, the wind blowing her teal colored coat. Her light brown eyes looking on the verge of tears for a moment, before she quickly blinked it away. "I agree, I should've done that." She replied in a half joking tone.
 
Peter rolled his eyes, deciding not to grace that line with a reply, he wordlessly turned back from the yacht that had been his until a few days ago and started to walk away, before stopping just a step later. "The deal is done, go back to Ireland." He didn't see her face then but he's sure it must've been very punchable as she replied "Are you worried about me sweetie?" Peter's could immediately feel his face warming up and reddening as he grunted annoyedly and walked away in a regular pace, not wanting to give the woman the satisfaction of knowing she succeeded in flustering him.
 
Finally having a weapon to fight other Masters, Peter is thinking about getting a much needed sleep and make his next move tomorrow. As Peter was just thinking about going back to a hotel however, Rider suddenly called out to him. "Master, there seems to be an interesting development currently taking place." Although tired enough as it is, Peter knows that he can't waste any opportunities to possibly gain an advantage in the war. "What is it Rider?" "Four Masters are gathering together in Miyama." Peter raised an eyebrow "At this hour?" Peter then remembered the animal rampage that probably caused them to come out in the first place. "Hmm... interesting."
 
While he might not have enough mana for a full on battle, he still have just enough to make a sudden impact on unsuspecting combatants. Glancing at the black hole in the sky, Especially with that Servant preoccupied. This might finally be his big chance to grab the advantage. This long night has just begun after all...
Edited by A Random Player

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Svanhild's expression softened ever so slightly once the man switched over to English. While it wasn't her native language, she was at least able to use it to communicate.
"Can't say that I do," she responded to his inquiry into her Japanese knowledge. "Hello Joseph, my name's Svanhild."
She was much more comfortable now, but chose to ignore his remark about "playing the game", not fully getting the meaning.
"My father. Work's driven him a bit mad so I'm taking him on vacation." She was so proud of this lie she'd prepared that she failed to notice Berserker wandering away. "I don't have a clue why he dresses like this, he doesn't talk about it and he doesn't let me pick proper clothes for him. I swear he's not always like this."
She sighed slowly. "Something like that. I need to care for dear old dad, make sure he doesn't get himself in....." she said, trailing off as she realized Berserker had left. 
"...for faen!" she exclaimed, coincidentally as soon as she noticed something approaching. She noticed 'Joseph' tense up slightly, but was too distracted to make anything of it. 
Berserker, prepare to fight. Something's coming.

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Miyama, 2:55 (Saber/Caster Group)

"Alright we should be arriving to the signatures in a few more minutes." Caster announces for the passengers to hear. "Before we get there I have to say something." Alastor says while pulling off to the side of the road. "This is your last chance to back out of this. If you have any qualms about teaming up I'll let you out right now. Let's be honest we're about to paint some huge targets on our backs if they get away." 

Saber stares out the window, looking at the sky still dark due to some strange weather, with Ilya still resting on her lap. At least, that was the reason she thought most bystanders would believe. She knew that whatever the reason, it had something do with this Holy Grail War. She hears Caster speak, signaling to her that whoever they were approaching, they were getting close. She looks at her Master, wondering what his response would be. What she saw was a man still staring intently in front of him, his head pensively resting on his hands. 'It's kinda irritating how similar my Master is to him. It's a cruel joke.' 

Michael responds to the servant sitting in the front passenger seat, "It's kinda late to ask that question, we got a battle to win." He looks out forward. "I am assuming our enemy can detect us in some way?" 

Unbidden a small smirk makes it's way across Alastor face. "I had a feeling you'd say that. Yeah once we get close enough they'll be able to detect us. If it's through some spell or their servants doesn't matter ." Here Alastor pulls back on the road "We should come up with a plan for when we get there. So what have you got in your bag of tricks soldier?" 

Michael knows that he doesn't possess much in terms in weaponry. His only idea was to get kinda close to get a decent shot in battle. After all civilians...well civilians not involved in a normal war would be involved, so he couldn't provide the traditional cover fire from range with his assault rifle. "You need to get me to a nearby neighborhood, I can take a vantage location there to provide covering fire. The goal for me and you.." Michael points at Alastor, "Is to take out the Masters that may be involved. I need you to draw out those Masters in the open so that I can get some clear shots at our enemy."

Saber of course interrupts "I assume you want Caster and me to take on whatever servant or servants they may have." Michael responds "Yes, you first, from what I understand, Casters and Archers prefer fighting at range. You take them head on, Caster should back you up." He then thinks a bit more. "Alastor, is the location we are heading to have any distinguishable landmarks, or has a location you are familiar with?" 

Alastor nods before replying "Last I checked on a map there are a few buildings in the area that you can use. The main problem is it looks like we're getting close to the old Tohsaka Manor and the Matou Building. Normally it wouldn't matter much but I have a feeling I wasn't the only one to set-up shop in one of the founding family's houses. So we could be knocking on their front door. Be ready for anything." 

Michael nods "That manor may be where they are holed up in." He looks down on his phone to check the map. "We are getting close, stop here."

"Alright sure. This spot fine?" Alastor questions as the car slows to a stop near some houses.

 "Yeah, it's fine, see that house with the brown roof. I am gonna climb up on that." He walks out the car, still carrying all the weapons. Before he begins to climb over the fence and then climb onto the roof he asks "I may need someone to be my spotter, or at least protect me in case I get snuck up on? Any volunteers?" He looks back at his servant and his two other allies. 

"I believe I can help with that." Caster says summoning a large mass of earth and a controlled gale from two large crystal clusters. "These are my Elementals. The earth elemental as you can guess excels at absorbing damage. The wind elemental on the other hand can remain more easily hidden and control the wind to attack at range. I'll be helping with long range support closer to the fight." Caster looks at Michael his face stern. "They can hold against Servants for a short time but if it comes down to it send a signal and we'll get out of there as quick as possible."

Saber, impressed by Caster's summon says "That's a cool trick Caster! Isn't it Michael?" Michael nods and merely gives orders. "I need one of those wind elementals guarding the car. Ilya is gonna be inside, I don't want her involved in our battle. Hence, the car should stay here. After that, I will need 2 wind elementals, one at the base of this building and the other on top with me. The one at the bottom will be there in case the owners of the house get in the back. That way, I can have it warn me of their presence. Lastly, Caster you will go up another rooftop to get a vantage at the Tohsaka Manor."

He looks towards his ally Alastor. "You will have to fight those Masters after Saber goes up to meet them first. We can have earth elementals attack at the front, while you take the long way to flank to the side, or you can go head on with the elementals in tow. It's your call."

Saber then replies "So that means I am the opening act? Aww, I thought the best are always for last." Michael, deciding to compliment his servant this time around says "Well, I think its time we change the formula bit. Start with our strongest act first, what do ya say?" Saber smiles "Okie dokie Master. I will definitely leave them breathless." Michael then says "Before you start, let's wait on what Alastor will say."

Caster shakes his head "I'm sorry but I only have the two wind elementals at the moment. I'm afraid it takes me a long time to create my Elementals. I'll leave my earth elemental to guard the car and leave you the 2 wind. I'll have to send my fire and water to assist in the frontal assault."

Michael nods "I guess that will do. Saber, carry me up to the building. It will be quicker that way. Plus, I can signal to you when you need to go in." Saber responds surprised "I always assumed you hated that." Michael then says "I do." He looks to Caster. "I assume the wind types will follow me?"

"For as long as I order them yes, but don't expect anything too complex. They may be powerful but that doesn't mean they're completely autonomous." Caster warns.

"Will they listen to me or Alastor?" asks Michael. Saber, getting kinda bored says, "Come on! We got a battle to fight!" Michael says "Wait Saber. Will they?"

"Yes they'll listen but remember if I'm not around only use simple commands." Caster says. "Well there you have it we set to go?" Alastor asks.

"Ok, and your plan Alastor? You charging straight in, or gonna have the fire and water elementals be distractions while you take the long way around and flank?" Michael asks his ally before beginning the plan.

"Oh that's easy." Alastor says putting on a pair of gloves. "I'm heading in with them. My skill set doesn't lend to subtlety and this way Saber and the elementals can keep their servants distracted while I attack the masters."

"Well, that is that. One more thing, we should communicate with our phones and keep them on speaker. I would silence our ringtones currently in case our opponents are nearby when I call." Michael calls Alastor, immediately getting a response. "Okay, let's begin." He turns to Saber to have him jump up the nearest building. Once up top, he has then commands one of the two wind elementals to go stay on the bottom, leaving the other on top. Both Master and Servant stay prone in case their opponents could possibly see them. "Alastor, I will have Saber enter the call as well, so we can listen in on her conversation with our enemies. It will be up to you when you want to start charging in, then I can provide covering fire." Michael says to his phone, with Alastor on the other end. 

He then looks to Saber, "Don't have your phone on speaker, and be ready at all times." Saber nods "Of course I will be ready, what do ya take me for?" Both of them peer over, seeing a few trees and the back of the Tohsaka mansion. After a few seconds of searching, they spot three figures, one of them vastly larger than the other 2. Saber, seeing her opportunity, and maintaining her memory of their last location, slashes her sword in an empty space and walks through, coming out of another portal in front of the mansion, and begins talking to the 3 strangers. 

"Hi, I know its weird I just showed up in front of ya through a portal and all, but I was wondering if one of you 3 happened to be responsible for the big zoo we have in the city?" 

Michael hearing Saber's words, face palmed while peering slightly over with his assault rifle. "She went to have a talk rather than just attack? Goddammit Saber." Still, he was curious whether these new found enemies would admit to committing this strange attack on the city. Of course, this battle, and the next immediate action, from either himself, Alastor, or their foes, would determine the direction of how this Holy Grail War would surely follow. 

'Master did she really just walk up to them and ask that?' Caster asks Alastor from his rooftop truly puzzled. Alastor can only pinch the bridge of his nose and sigh before responding 'Yeah she did. Stick to the plan and keep an eye out we don't want any surprises.' 

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Mark was surprised, which suited his fake personality well.

"HOLY SHIT, WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?" he jumped back and exclaimed in English, visibly unhinged. Svanhild leapt back as well, showing slight but genuine concern due to the surprise being too much to form a sound. Her landing wasn't quite as smooth as Mark's, so she skidded back a couple of paces.

So she's showing some sense. Mark mused, then directed his attention to the Chinese woman. "Seriously...what the hell are you? No offence meant, you're very pretty but...I mean was that a portal?" Mark quickly directed his attention back at Svanhild, "Er, not as pretty as you!". I should wait quietly. Play the innocent civilian.

Staying quiet and gathering her composure, Svanhild simply listened for a short while, and decided to just play dumb for a bit. Ignoring 'Joseph's' remark, she asked "There's a zoo in this city?" with a quizzical look on her face. Berserker was ready to attack now, but Svanhild prohibited him from making the first move. Let's try diplomacy first. Hopefully I can at least buy enough time to figure out if this guy's worth anything as a hostage.

She's playing it cool huh? Good. Mark wondered if this Servant would think him a civilian, hostage or someone important. Meanwhile, through shared perception, he saw Assassin's view. Assassin had shifted to be standing directly next to Saber. No weapons, no malicious intent. His red beacons for eyes were staring directly at her, almost analyzing her like a curious child. As long as he made no attempts to influence her, he would remain hidden in the shadows. Are there others? Is her Master at hand? Lots of questions, variables, not enough answers. The best they could do was await the mysterious maiden's response.

Edited by EdwardSunnyDisposition

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