Disclaimer:

High School DxD is a Japanese light novel series written by Ichiei Ishibumi and illustrated by Miyama-Zero. The Fate series is owned by Type-Moon. I do not own any of the characters mentioned from both series. The only things I own are the ideas that popped into my head for this story and whatever original characters I would create for the story.

My main muses come from Gabriel Blessing and Marcus Galen Sands, authors of great works themselves. This story is meant to be a work of pure fiction made solely for fun, constructive reviews will be welcomed, flames will be ignored. Any references to characters in real-life are purely coincidental and should not be taken seriously. If I could make money out of my ideas, it would be nice...

Root Damn It!


~~AN~~

In the darkness, a coffin laid covered in dust and cobwebs, with the lid slowly moved to the side and a hand crawling out of it. With a groan, the individual within pushed the lid aside and sat up with a cough that threw out cobwebs and dust. Slowly, the individual crawled out of the coffin and moved to a table with a dusty desktop computer. With a shaking finger, the individual pressed a button to start it up before clicking another button to display some text, and then laying down on the seat to rest.

"Here is another chapter..."


Published: April 30 2022

Chapter 12: Interlude


Part 1

'The line should be exactly 2 inches away from the Anguz Rune.'

'The circle is not uniform, I need to redraw that.'

'The sequence needs to be powered up exactly three seconds after the last rune.'

'The octagons should be evenly spaced between one another and aligned with each other's sides.'

Those were some of the many focused thoughts going through one Rin Tohsaka's mind as she carefully drew out the mage circle that was the assignment for the day, her fellow apprentice slash rival being a few feet away doing the same and scowling at some oddity on her end. As much as she wanted to tease Luvia, Rin did not want to risk having a blowout from the circle due to an incorrect sigil placed at the wrong spot. She paused to stretch her arms and winced from the popping of her joints that sent small bolts of pain down her spine. She turned to the left and frowned at the sight of her teacher looking out the window of the room with an expression of seriousness and hints of frustration evident on his face, something that was alien to the man known to frustrate everyone around him with his idea of pranks and jokes.

It had been a month since the incident when Zelretch had evidently detected Shirou's presence and found something had gone wrong. As much as Rin and Luvia had tried to press for information, the old vampire was keeping silent and sternly telling them to hold their questions. Zelretch was often seen using his sorcery to look through the dimensions or checking through old tomes of certain subjects, all with a rather aggravated expression that was not often seen on the Wizard Marshall. There were a couple of times he even left the tower to supposedly find Shirou only to return empty handed and a touch of frustration on his face. That alone set off alarms in Rin's head as this was The Wizard Marshall who had mastered the Second Magic known as the Kaleidoscope, the power that allowed the user to travel to other worlds and dimensions along with gathering the energy from said dimensions and gaps to fire off an attack that would be making Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined look like a party popper, all with a smile on his face. It was virtually impossible for anyone to hide from him whatsoever, let alone one who was using his equipment as they held traces of his prana for easier tracking. If for whatever reason this trolling vampire could not find Shirou, that would mean Shirou was in a world that was not accessed before, and that meant it would be harder to get him home.

Honestly, that young man has not changed the slightest in terms of the amount of trouble he got into over the years. Shirou would probably argue that he had inherited Archer's E-rank luck stats to explain all the craziness he would get into.

With all that said, it was quite worrying for Rin. It had been five years since Shirou was forced to make a getaway from the other magus who wanted to carve him up to learn more on his Reality Marble. While they did not meet up in person often, he has been keeping tabs on her and the others to ensure their safety, like the time one of their shared enemies attacked her hoping to drag Shirou out from hiding so that he could get the fame of ending the Emiya line and the Tohsaka line. That guy got his wish all right, though he should have been careful with it.

Waver gave a rather flat speech on how the idiocy has been removed from the gene-pool, and if he was not under the stupid regulations of dealing with Sealing Designations, he would shake Shirou's hand and give him a medal. Then again, the enemy in question was one of the more vocal opposers for Waver's policies and teachings who did what he could to disrupt Waver's work, not to mention picking on his youngest apprentice, so that might be the case.

She just wished that there was a better way to keep an eye on Shirou instead of waiting for the reply…

"You need to focus." Zelretch's voice broke her thoughts, making her realize the vampire was standing next to her with a stern expression. "Your Azuz is off by 5 centimeters, and the shield needs to be diagonal to the west, not the north." He pointed them out to let her know her mistakes, before turning on Luvia who managed to restrain herself in time to not be seen laughing at her work. "And you are not off the hook. Your tower is facing 5 degrees away from Venus, and the Zine Rune is totally off. You would need to redo the outer circle again." With that done, Zelretch moved away to his desk, leaving the two young ladies to look at their drawings first before looking at one another.

This was concerning.

Zelretch was normally very laid back, letting them make their own mistakes so that they could learn from them, at least that was the excuse he gave while laughing at whatever mishap that came about from their calling of the Kaleidoscope in all of its terrifying glory. Rin still had nightmares of the one time she drew a pictogram the wrong way and got summoned to a world where every conceivable idea or imagination regarding adult fetishes and pornography seemed to be alive and thriving. She hailed from the country whose culture spawned multiple genres of questionable adult entertainment, yet this dimension made them look tame in comparison. Rin had to cordon herself inside a heavily guarded room for the one week she was stuck in the dimension to avoid everything and everyone trying to turn her into one of the women ending with an ahegao expression, and she may have set a new record in running away from said dimension screaming her lungs out.

That was also one of the few times the entire female population of the Clock Tower banded together to knock the heads of the males when they heard about that world. Even Luvia was sympathetic to her for that period.

On Shirou's part, he could not look Rin or Luvia in the eye for a few months without being reminded of that disaster of a lesson and turning red like a tomato since he came along with Zelretch to retrieve her. He literally ran out of the room and out of the country to his next hunting mission screaming his head off when Zelretch suggested sending him to the same world, and he stayed out of sight for almost a year before returning. And when others heard of that, they too left in the exact same manner, including those who hated Shirou. Because if there was one thing they could agree on, they would say that Zelretch was too much of a troll for their sanity.

Zelretch laughed like an absolute loon at that.

Hence, the fact that Zelretch did not want to 'troll' them and actually giving them aid in a snappish manner, meant that he was really being serious on trying to find Shirou, and likely whatever location he was in was a bad one to get the wizard marshal this concerned. The last time Zelretch had this expression, at least in this dimension and timeline, was roughly 3 years ago; he had to deal with the dismantling of the Grail System back in Fuyuki where some fools had attempted to delay the operation so as to obtain a few relics and information to try and recreate the system in another prana rich location, Romania if she recalled correctly. The wizard marshal was not pleased with the attempt and proceeded to demonstrate his displeasure on said fools, with only one lost to an alternate dimension where the vampire personally threw him in while the others were left begging for release from the suffering he had inflicted upon them.

Would this situation be the same?

Rin took another glance at Luvia who nodded before turning back to the old wizard. "Professor, may we ask a question?"

"You wish to know about your friend's situation." Zelretch stated it out as a point of fact rather than a question. A look at their faces made him sigh. "Very well, might as well take a break from the lesson. Grab what you need before I start." Rin and Luvia quickly got up from the floor and washed up before making it back to him where he had set up a table to serve tea and a few treats. He let them deal out their portions before speaking. "So, what do you wish to hear?"

"Is he safe?" Rin asked immediately. Zelretch took his time to consider while sipping his tea, making her itch for a personal Gandr to his face.

"I would say that Shirou is relatively safe, and more importantly alive and kicking, based on my last scan for him thanks to the amulet I have granted him." he finally answered while placing the cup on the saucer. "That does not tell us much if I am honest with you." Rin let out a breath at that. True, it did not tell her where he was or his current situation, but at least he was alive.

"Do you know where he is?" Luvia's question made the vampire let out a hum.

"That would be the reason I am not in the best of moods for some time, if you have noticed." The two women sharing a glance was his answer. "Here is the thing that you should know about the Kaleidoscope, or any of the True Magic for that matter. For all the power in the world, there would always be some restrictions to ensure that they cannot go unchecked. It is one of those little things that Gaia and Alaya had agreed on to ensure there was some order to the world without people going out of hand. In the case of the Kaleidoscope, each world has their own sets of conditions to be fulfilled before I can even take a glimpse at it, and after that I need another set of conditions fulfilled before I can set foot in it or to get memories from my counterpart."

"That does not sound promising."

"Indeed my dear it is not." Zelretch answered Rin's snark. "In my entire lifetime, there are only thirty-six worlds up to this point that I cannot get a glimpse of properly due to conditions that I have yet to fulfill. If I do not fulfill them, I cannot look into their world, let alone travel to said world." The two girls blinked at this new bit of information that was not included in their studies, but then with Zelretch being the only one capable of going to other worlds on a whim, the weakness may not be that evident until they were proficient enough to use it, and even then trying to go against the vampire would be their death wish.

"So you are saying that Sherou is in one of those worlds." Luvia said it as a statement as opposed to a question.

"I suspect it to be the case." Zelretch tipped his hand at her. "One of the reasons for that thought was because of a certain guardian that has been doing what it can to stop the breeches. It has only ever appeared around two worlds so far but it can access others if it wants to."

"Guardian?" Rin blinked at that. "You are saying there is a guardian in the world where Shirou is that can stop the Kaleidoscope from working?"

"I would say that world, and more." Zelretch took a scone and bit on it thoughtfully. "This guardian in particular may be on par with the one that I fought so long ago to the point of dropping a moon on him." That earned him a spectacular spit-take from the two women at that statement which he managed to avoid getting soaked by way of a rune barrier.

"Cough! Cough! Are you suggesting that the guardian is on the same level as the CRIMSON MOON OF ALL THINGS?!" Rin could be forgiven for yelling those last bits as she was trying to wrap her head around the idea of a guardian that was on par as one of the ultimate types, the same one that gave her professor the fame he was known for. Even to this day, there were Dead Apostles and magi alike who whispered the name of the Crimson Moon with awe and fear evident in their words. It was a bit of an unspoken rule that no one should attempt to recreate an apostle to be the same as that one in particular, mostly due to the fear that such a being would prove uncontrollable and would require the equivalent of Zelretch pulling out another moon from another dimension to stop that. And considering the current state that Zelretch was in, that would not be happening anytime soon. The Church for one had unofficial outstanding orders to ensure that anyone attempting a ritual to call forth Crimson Moon or any of the first generation Apostles should be eliminated with extreme prejudice, their relations removed, their lands to be salted and all traces of history removed completely.

And the less said about orders from the Barthomeloi family, the better for everyone's sanity.

"Maybe, who knows?" Zelretch was irritatingly nonchalant at the random dropping of that bomb. "And as I said, I am only guessing that Shirou is in one of these worlds because of the guardian and the rather annoying ability it has of crossing dimensions. Yes." Zelretch nodded at their wide eyes. "Whoever or whatever the guardian is, they have an ability that is either similar or a counter to the Kaleidoscope."

At this point, Rin was thinking she ought to have something stronger for a drink than tea. And judging from Luvia's action of rubbing her forehead, she too needed a strong drink.

"Enough about the guardian. Trying to know where Shirou is represents one problem, the other is his health status." The vampire broke their thoughts and sent their anxiety levels higher with those words and the expression on his face. "I know that he is alive, but his condition seems to be a mixed bag."

"How do you know that?" Luvia asked.

"The amulet is more than just a prototype of the Kaleido-sticks I created for the both of you." The two women shivered at the 'gifts' he had granted them after he watched some of the kid's cartoons from Rin's country and got inspired to make them. "It is a means for me to track his whereabouts and his status. It is semi-autonomous enough to send out updates from wherever he is, even between dimensions. And that is where I have my other problem."

"Great, what trouble has he got himself into this time?" Rin placed her fingers to the bridge of her nose to rub them.

"Something that is so bad to the point of activating my amulet's security protocol in a damaged state." Zelretch answered smoothly. That prompted her to bang her head against the table and makemake the china set shift slightly from the impact.

Damn it Emiya.

"Please explain." Rin's muffled words were still heard even with her face to the table.

"My amulet is designed to monitor dear Shirou's health while storing mana for jumps between dimensions. In the event he is in danger, depending on the situation, different protocols would be activated, ranging from blind jumps to a different world, to class installations." That last part got Rin to look up.

"That sounds a lot like the Kaleido-sticks."

"I did say the amulet is a prototype." Zelretch pointed that out to her. "It was one of many that I tried to grant users the ability to equip the Servant Class. For Shirou's case, I had modified the core to allow him to equip the classes needed based on the Noble Phantasm he would use, maybe even himself as the catalyst."

"That sounds very useful considering his mage-craft." Luvia commented as she sipped her tea to try and get some composure.

"Yes, except the Class Installation feature was meant for emergencies." Zelretch countered. "I did not want to confuse his understanding of the Kaleidoscope, and let's be honest, his unique mage-craft tends to be more than a match for his opponents if he really wants to go all out without worrying about collateral damage."

"Indeed, the ability to create actual Noble Phantasms, degraded as they are." Luvia humped and turned to look Rin in the eye. "I am still wrapping my head around the fact that Shero has an actual Reality Marble in his arsenal and managed to hide it for so long." Rin gave a minor snort at that.

"Honestly speaking, it is more a case of ignorance than anything. Even during the Grail War, I did not know what he had done with Gilgamesh, only that he managed to defeat him hard along with Saber, and that Archer was his future self. It was when we were in London for some time that I realized what type of mage-craft he really had." Rin snorted as she remembered her own reaction. "In hindsight, I should not have been surprised since Archer was his possible future self with different circumstances. I was not sure whether I wanted to slap his head or curse him."

"Oh? I was under the impression you wanted to drag him to your room, tie him to your bed stripped to his boxers, and get him to create gems on your command while calling you his mistress as you brandished the whip you bought the other day." Zelretch smirked at Rin's sputtering with a red face while Luvia did another spectacular spit-take with her tea before bellowing in laughter at the reaction.

"Not funny!" Rin glared at Luvia, rather unsuccessfully given her red face of embarrassment.

"Oh of course it is not funny." Luvia took a deep breath before collapsing to the floor with a fresh set of laughs. "It is bloody hilarious! HAHAHAHA!"

Rin growled and turned to find Zelretch taking a sip of the tea that looked as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, while Luvia was doing her best to imitate a hyena on helium. "Can we please get on with the topic?"

"As you wish. Now where was I?" Zelretch set his cup down before tightening his expression. "The amulet is designed to grant Shirou a limited form of the Second Magic, thus allowing him to enter the spaces between the dimensions so that he can make a quick getaway. The safety measure is for the time when he gets overwhelmed by something so drastic and he cannot escape through dimensions. The amulet will detect the Noble Phantasms he has brought out or equipped and use them as a guide to install the appropriate Servant Card to grant him more capabilities than his weapons."

"Very random." Rin remarked as she noted the odd system of installing a Servant ability.

"But there are flaws to the amulet, flaws that I only just found out from the recent activation." Zelretch sighed as he leaned back in the chair. "One of the functions to aid with the transformation is to extract the Prana from the surrounding air to ensure Shirou does not have to supply too much of his own. There are filters to purify the Prana in case the surroundings are polluted, not to mention a limiter to vent out any excess prana so that his body does not get torn apart."

"In other words, if the filters and limiter are damaged, Shirou can get hurt."

"Yes, and from what I could tell from the past few attempts to find him, Shirou may have been forced to perform a blind jump to another world in between dimensions, and the amulet got damaged heavily from it." Rin felt a stone settle in her stomach at those words. One of the first lessons Zelretch gave her and Luvia, and repeated every odd lesson, was never to do a blind jump in any circumstance unless one either had a clear understanding of the Second Magic, or one was absolutely desperate to get away from the danger coming upon them. To do otherwise could be catastrophic in many ways, ranging from being stuck in another world that was similar to their native world with a few differences, which was considered the best case scenario, to having your body broken down to their very atoms and cease to exist on any plane of dimension.

He even had a story of one student in the past who was arrogant enough to ignore his warning and ended up in a dimension that could only be described as literal Hell on earth. By the time Zelretch got to him 2 days later, the student had spent a decade in that world and his mind fractured beyond repair.

Considering Zelretch brought out the strong liquor to tell this particular story, it was really bad to say the least. So on the plus side, Shirou was safe.

"Now, if it were just a superficial damage, that could be easily amended. But from wherever Shirou landed, there was some power that had broken the amulet in different areas that would cause it to leak prana, which would activate the function of drawing in prana from the air to facilitate transformations or dimensional jumps. The filters themselves are damaged so that means whatever prana gets sucked into the amulet for storage would likely be contaminated, and if used for the class installation…"

"The Servant Shirou will imitate would likely be one of the worst." Rin said it with absolute certainty, memories of her time in the Holy Grail War being an indicator, especially with the worm known as Zouken Matou. From what she recalled from that and documents on the fourth war, Zokuen had perverted the summoning partially due to the ceremony being done in the basement containing the accursed Crest Worms. The summoning required more prana than just the summoner, which was why the surrounding area mattered a lot as one might not get the best results even with the ideal catalyst, sometimes the area could be indicative of the legend one was trying to obtain. There were a few records of the second war that she read from her family grimoire that spoke of one Master who had intended to summon one hero as a Lancer, only for the area being used to contaminate the ritual and changed the class to a Castor.

"The Class Installation does not just use the Noble Phantasm Shirou is equipped with as the catalyst." Zelretch took a big gulp of his tea. "The amulet is using his own body as the base, or to be more precise, his very existence. You know very well what I mean, given your previous Servant." Rin winced at that, knowing full well what he meant.

"What is he talking about?" Luvia noted the expressions on both of their faces. Zelretch merely tipped his cup at Rin to let her explain, effectively throwing her under the bus.

Bloody vampire.

"As you know, Archer was a possible future version of Shirou that took a path that saw him become a Servant of questionable values." Rin started to explain while trying to get around the fact that Shirou had the potential to become a Counter Guardian. "Let's just say that there were other instances where Shirou could be a different Servant under other circumstances and leave it at that." Rin really did not like to think that Shirou could potentially be an Avenger Class based on the appearance of the entity from the Grail. Luvia narrowed her eyes at her as though she could almost guess what Rin was saying but held back on mentioning it. Rin decided to belay that conversation and bring back the topic.

"So, the Class Installation feature got activated? That was what you meant." Zelretch nodded while setting his cup down.

"You recall the lesson when I almost collapsed? I felt the activation of the amulet, and more importantly, the state it was in and the type of Servant it was installing on Shirou." Zelretch leaned forward with hands clasped tightly in front of him. "From what I could tell, our mutual friend was in a really tight spot with a being that was at least an A-ranked threat, and his bio-readings suggest that he was heavily injured. The amulet activated as planned, but with corrupted prana in the air and the filters damaged as they were, the amulet ended up installing a Class that I believe almost appeared during the Holy Grail War in this world, and definitely appeared in other parallel dimensions." Rin was having boulders in her stomach at this point, going through different notes regarding the war in her mind as the vampire spoke. Officially there were seven Servants, but she knew that the Einzbern had abused their knowledge of the Grail by summoning an unofficial eighth called the Avenger during the Third Grail War which ended up getting stuck in the Grail that led to the mess of her war. Based on the notes and what Zelretch had talked about during his supervision of the dismantling, there were possibilities of other Servant classes that could be summoned provided certain conditions were met.

"Which class did he install?"

Zelretch looked at her grimly, which was already a bad sign. "Berserker Emiya Alter." The boulders dropped out of her stomach and Rin almost lost her balance if not for Luvia grabbing her shoulder at the last moment.

"What type of class is that?" Luvia asked, noting how pale her rival went. She only knew rudimentary information on the Grail Wars since her family took part in the Third War, but she was pretty certain there were only seven official classes for the heroic spirits to be summoned into. "I have never heard of a Berserker Alter."

"It is a sub designation for Servants who have another possibility or another aspect of themselves to become a Heroic Spirit. Just as one Heroic Spirit can have multiple classes to be summoned into, each class has a possible sub-division" Zelretch started to explain to her. "This is not to be confused with the unofficial class "Alter Ego", in which the personification of an emotion, wish or personality trait is so strong that it breaks off from the main spirit and becomes an entity of its own. To some extent, the former is more preferable than the latter since that has its roots from the same base."

"Okay, that much I understand." Luvia licked her lips as she made sure Rin was not going to collapse to the floor, getting a little worried at her reaction. "I know that Berserkers are essentially spirits gone mad from rage, and are absolute mana hogs. I guess the Alter aspect would make it more dangerous?"

"Even more so for our dear friend." Zelretch looked like a boulder had settled on him. "I don't believe I have told this to any of you, but each time I meet someone, I can see if they have the potential to be considered a Heroic Spirit in the future. Granted that does not happen often since the modern age has taken away a fair amount of possibilities for people to be considered heroes. There are requirements to be fulfilled before a person can be considered to enter the Throne, or to be seeked out by the Counter Force." The last words snapped Rin out of her trance.

"You will be interested to know that the two of you along with Waver are strong candidates to be considered for the Throne." Zelretch paused before continuing, "to be more precise, you are candidate vessels for Servants to possess." The two blinked at that oddity.

"As for Shirou? He is one of those with multiple possibilities." Zelretch looked at Rin. "You of course know of one possible class." Rin squirmed in her seat at the memory of Archer and his fight with Shirou. "Our dear friend can be summoned under multiple Classes except for Rider based on my viewings. It gets even more diverse given his unique talents, which is why he was granted the amulet."

"How the heck did he end up with an Alter Sub-Class?!" Both Zelretch and Luvia winced at the screech by Rin who was looking very murderous. "It is one thing to have filters and structural damage, but I would have thought that you would not give the amulet the ability to install other classes that are not of the seven present classes!"

"The conditions involved were so unique that it would be a one in a million chance, but then, didn't Shirou often complain about having E-Rank Luck stats?" Rin did not appreciate Zelretch's attempt to joke about the situation based on the glare she was directing at him.

"Look my dear, you can bitch me out on this all you want, but the incident has passed and you would be happy to know that he got out of the situation and got the class removed from him." Zelretch continued to speak. Rin looked at him a bit more before closing her eyes and letting out a sigh.

"So he is safe?" Luvia pushed on with the question.

"He is. Something or someone had managed to deactivate the amulet to bring him back to his regular state. But he has his lifespan shortened from the class installation, but he is getting back properly!" Zelretch raised his hand to stop the incoming rant. "Thankfully that world he is in is rich in pure natural prana, so all he has to do is to follow the Asian teachings of Sage Arts and slowly draw it into himself to heal his body and his core. As of my latest reading, he has gotten back half of his years, but he really needs to take it easy."

"Good luck with that, we have been forcing him to take holidays the past few years." Luvia snorted loudly.

"But the fact that you can feel his status, doesn't that mean you can pinpoint his location, or at least his coordinates?" Rin asked with a slightly hopeful tone, only to get a sigh from Zelretch.

"I tried that, my dear. At least I know which general area of dimensions it is at." Zelretch told her. "And I have also learned other details of the world he is in, and I am so grateful that I just gave him the amulet."

"Why?" Zelretch hummed in a manner that got their alarm bells ringing.

"Well then, where to start? I can tell you that one of the reasons that Shirou was able to get out of that forced installation was due to a particularly powerful individual that was able to reset my amulet. I can tell you that there are different species living in that world similar to ours, yet different at the same time. I can tell you that the guardian that has been blocking my attempts to cross the world is an actual dragon that could compete in size as Primate Murder." As he continued his explanation, the jaws of the young women appeared to have unhinged themselves with how wide they had gone from his descriptions. The both of them had been through a lot in their own world, and there were even weirder things in other worlds that would make theirs tame. But from the sound of it, Shirou was in a world that sounded almost too fantastical or weird.

And then there was the bit about Shirou having been deaged to go back to highschool alongside devils of all things.

"What the hell type of place is he in?"

"Evidently, the world is apparently thriving in the Age of the Gods. The Christian God was an actual god there. Won't those priests from the Vatican love to hear that?" That statement had Rin and Luvia looking at each other with flat expressions, before collectively smashing their heads against the table as one, uncaring of the tea set getting loose and their hair getting soaked as Zelretch chuckled at their actions. The two girls could only think of one thing at the same time.

'That is it, when I get my hands on him, I am going to run Shirou / Sherou through the different worlds!
He will be begging for mercy when I am done with him!'

(In another dimension, a sword-wielding idiot felt chills down his spine before moving away from devil girls arguing about something that he had no idea what it was about but did not want to be a part of.)

Part 2

If people were to look into the abandoned building, one might be forgiven for thinking that someone wanted to replicate the love child of the Chainsaw Massacre and the horror tropes of hospitals.

If one entered the building by the front door, they would find the walls stained with fresh blood that pooled to the floor, with hand prints found on different parts that suggested their owners getting picked up by slammed against the walls and ceiling. Further down the corridor to where the staircase was, they would find what appeared to be a steady stream of blood coming from above and overflowing the steps. The same was found on the second level, with broken glass littering the area and smashed walls.

The third level however? That was the nightmare.

Bodies were strewn all over the area or pinned against the walls with barbed wires or broken pipes used as makeshift skewers. Be they male or female, young or old, there was no pattern to the selection of the bodies. The females, particularly the young women, appeared to have been assaulted in the process given the state of their clothes and bruising on certain areas like their arms and necks. Each of the bodies were also mangled or destroyed in some manner, such as having their arms ripped out, their chest removed to reveal their organs, or even their eyes gouged out messily. But one thing was common for all of the bodies there.

All had expressions of sheer pain and terror stuck on their faces, as if something had tortured them right to the point of death in order to preserve that expression forever, said death being a gaping hole on their foreheads and exiting their skulls from the back. And to compound on that idea, a scream ushered out from one of the rooms.

"PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP!" A man kept on screaming with broken vocal cords as his body was systematically stripped of flesh without killing him, revealing bones and muscle tissues twitching about while leaving only the head intact, and he was lifted high into the air by something that looked like it could only exist in the deepest bowels of nightmares. What it was could not be seen past the dark smoke that covered the ceiling, but eight glowing eyes staring right at him through the smoke and sounds of clicking made it clear that it was not something of this world and it was the source of this man's misfortune. Then the dark smoke parted to reveal a sharp and large scythe aimed right at his forehead.

"NO PLEASE, I AM BEGGING YOU! AHHH!" The man screamed for the last time as the scythe pulled back briefly before slamming directly into the head, almost splitting it in half. The man gurgled out blood as a green glow started pulsing from the head to the dark cloud through the scythe, continuing for a few seconds until the scythe stopped glowing, then with a wet squishing sound, got pulled out of the skull messily, releasing the body to collapse on the floor.

The dark smoke swirled and gathered to a corner of the room, condensing into a rough humanoid shape, before it dispersed to reveal a young man dressed in street clothes with the hood up to cover the head and cast a shadow over the face. Said young man lifted a hand towards the newly made corpse which started to shake a little before a spider with silver etchings came out of the ear and crawled towards him, pausing briefly for him to pick it up.

"Another worthless dreamer." The man mused with a slur in his voice as he stroked the spider's back like one would for a dog or a cat. "His dreams barely filled you up my friend." He moved his hand nearer to his shoulder where a cloud of smoke appeared and swallowed the spider.

"Still, at least I have finished with this area and got the energy needed for whatever task that Cao Cao has handed to me." The young man moved out of the room and down the stairs, uncaring of the blood splattering his shoes or the few limbs he kicked away without remorse. Once he left the atrium and out of the building, the young man pulled out a metal tube and pulled at the pin before throwing it back at the entrance. He merely walked a few steps and turned just as the entrance glowed brightly and green fire shot out of every opening in the building, engulfing it quickly within seconds.

"Ah, what a nice bonfire." The young man reached into his jacket and pulled out a small book to open it, using a pen to tick off some entries before flipping to the ones at the back. Each page had descriptions and photos attached to them.

"So these are the devils and the exorcists in the area huh?" What little could be seen of his face in the light from the fire showed a smirk with a forked tongue with a spider tattoo on it licking his lips. "There are some fine ladies there, there is even a cute looking fallen angel staying there, and is that Griselda the exorcist? I would love to introduce myself to them, along with a few dreams to get them excited."

Another turn of the page revealed the first photo of a male student. "This is the Welsh Dragon host? He looks pretty weak to say the least. But if Vali is having trouble with him, I better keep my guard up. And from what I have heard, he is an oddball that throws convention out of the window with his attacks."

Another flip of the page revealed a photo of a man with black wings. "Azazel, the recently retired governor of Grigori. One of the strongest too, I would need to get a few more dreams to deal with him. I should find a nest of those fallen angels to get stronger before heading to Kuoh."

Another flip drew a snort from him. "Great, another weak boy with a weak gear. But what's this? [Absorption Line], supposedly a gear holding one part of the Evil Dragon Vitra? I suppose I could keep him alive for Cao Cao's or Georg's experiments."

Another flip showed a pale haired student. "A pretty boy with the devil equivalent of Jeanne's Sacred Gear, huh? I could use him as an experiment for some of the dreams I had planned for her, it would be great fun." A dark chuckle came after that statement as he flipped to the next page only to come up short at the photo and the description.

"Wait what?" The young man went closer to the burning building to get better light to read the description, flipping back to one of the earlier pages before looking back. "Seriously, this kid is a crossdressing vampire? That is so not legal to look that way, damn it! Bloody traps! And he has a Sacred Gear that can stop time anywhere in his sights?! Bloody Hax Vampire Trap!"

The young man decided to save his sanity from that description by flipping to the last page to find a photo of a red haired teen looking back at him. Unlike the other entries, this one took up several pages with additional photos of the man in different situations and weapons.

"Shirou Emiya, the one that Cao Cao and the others have their eyes on." The young man hummed as the top portion of the building collapsed from the fire. "I don't really see what's the big deal about this guy. I mean sure, he has magic unheard of, and the odd ability to attract Sacred Gears, not to mention going against some of the higher tier monsters. But are they really that serious in trying to recruit this guy? I can tell that this guy would not be a good fit with us." The young man frowned as he considered what he knew from rumors and observations.

"It is clear that Cao Cao is using me to test this fellow for the group, to see if he could take away my gear or we finish each other off while testing my loyalty." The man clicked his tongue in annoyance as he closed the book and kept it. "Figures that he would try something like this, but I guess I can only blame myself for being too obvious with my actions."

"Still, if Cao Cao and the others believe that he is dangerous, all the more reason to find Emiya and consume him for his strengths. The stronger I make my gear, the better my chances are against Cao Cao." The blaze from the fire suddenly burst upwards from the collapsing of the upper floors, casting a bright light on the surroundings and on him, with his shadow stretching far behind him and somehow displaying eight insect legs with the glowing eyes where his head would be.

"Oh, what dreams do you have for me to consume, Shirou Emiya?"


=()=


=====Author's Notes=====

(Looks at the calendar, and then the posted date of the last chapter)

Ho boy...

Hello to you all, I have finally returned with a new entry for this story. Covid has been a mess and a half within these past few years, and I had to struggle with writer's block and having to leave my previous job to find a new one because my contract got cancelled last minute. I really needed to get the momentum going for my life before I finally got some motivation to write this.

To be honest, I was planning another chapter, but writer's block is being a bastard right now, so I decided to write an interlude, hopefully it gets better.

For some who may not know, I have published a couple of Harry Potter fics on this account. One is a main story featuring a Ravenclaw Harry, the other are a collection of story ideas.

Hoping to get another chapter out of this, the Potter stories, and my RWBY stories. (Speaking of the last, we have an anime version coming up, yah!)

So there you have it, this is my new chapter. Hope you enjoy reading it. Please Rate, Review and hopefully continue following the story.

And I put my pen down for now.

(Going back to the coffin to rest...)