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!


Published: August 17th 2015

Edited: July 30th 2016 / September 18th 2017

Chapter 3: Phoenix Down

Part 1

"And here's the last one. Whew!" I dropped the box with a heavy thump and wiped my brow of the sweat. It has been a long time coming, but I finally had enough to pay back the officers with spare change for my rent. The only thing left to do was to pay back the doctors from the hospital and I will be cleared of my debt.

That meant another four odd months of work. Oh Joy.

"Ah, so you are done." I turned around to find the bar owner come over with some bottles. He looked at the neat piles of crates with an approving nod. "You even categorized them in their expiration dates and their weights. I don't often do that myself."

"Well, I figured that you might want to get the most perishable gone before they go bad." I wiped my hands on the apron to rid of the bits of dust. "And some of these boxes are ridiculously heavy, so I decided to place the lightest one at the top and you can work your way to the bottom, Kano-san."

"Ah! Why can't the other guys be like you?" He let out a sigh as he handed me one of the bottles to drink. "The other assistants are at least 2 years older than you, yet you act older and more mature than them!"

'Well, that is only natural since I am older and more mature than them.'

"Boys, are the two of you done with your work!" The sound of the owner's wife echoed through the back door. We proceeded to return to the bar where the greyed-haired lady was cleaning the glass cups with a cloth. "So is Shirou-kun done with the boxes?"

"Yup, sure did, Kawako-san." I replied back with a smile.

"That's nice." She nodded gratefully. "Hah, if only our sons were here to learn from you. Those two boys seemed to have forgotten about us after they left, and they don't do much!"

"I'm sorry." I automatically bowed my head before getting a light knock on it. I raised my head slightly to find the old man with a light frown on his face and his hand in the air. "Don't blame yourself, it's not your fault you know."

I merely scratched my cheek in slight embarrassment as I looked at them. During my time here, these two had become as close to family as I got back home with Sakura, Fuji-nee and Illya. Every so often, the owner's wife would just knock on my head with her ladle when I made a mistake or did something worrisome, and I could not help but wonder if that was the feeling one would associate having a mother care for you. And the bar owner's attitude towards business and private life made me think he was a cross of Raiga, my dad and oddly enough, Lancer.

Better step up your game Fuji-nee, because at this rate, I was thinking of having them as my custodians for this world.

A light vibration in my pocket broke my musings for a moment, stopping to place the apron and bottle down before reaching to grab the phone and opening the text message. Man I loved technology like this, it makes life so much easier. It was a shame the Association never put much emphasis on it, and Rin was extremely reluctant to have phones and televisions at her place.

Though I believe her aversions stemmed from her annoyances that she could not use said smart phones and televisions without breaking them after a few times due to her lack of understanding even the basic features.

I took a moment to read the message, before letting out an almost resigned sigh and an amused smile. That attracted the attention of the two elders as they paused in the affairs to gaze at me.

"Something turned up for you kid?" The old man asked as he placed the bottle on the bar top.

"You could say that." I let out a wry smile as I pocketed the phone. "It's just a notification about my other job. Apparently they could use a little help tonight and I was the only one available."

"Oh dear, I hope those people are not overworking you." Kawako placed her hands on her cheeks while looking worried. "I know you are in need of money because of your hospital bills and rent, but you shouldn't need to take up every job that comes."

"I agree with her, those people better not be pushing their workload on you because they are lazy." Kano gave a very angry frown at the prospect of me getting overworked by supposedly lazy people.

"Oh, don't worry." I let out a reassuring smile at them. "It is an easy side-job, and it is one totally up my area of expertise."

=()=

"STABH!"

"GAGH!" A pained scream pierced the silence of the night as a devil dropped to the ground with a Black Key stabbed into its heart, before its clothes and body darken and burst into ashes, leaving behind a few bits of scorched clothing and my blade on the ground. I took a quick glance around me before dispelling my projection and set ablaze the last traces of its existence.

Roughly a month and a half had passed since the Raynare incident that introduced me to the supernatural inhabitants of this world, and so far we had gotten along quite well. That said, I still did not trust them fully since I had known in the past that there were always going to be some bad apples hidden among the good ones. Furthermore, there was the whole 'resurrecting someone on their deathbed' aspect that I was still a little leery about.

Perhaps that was why Sona and Rias had occasionally asked for my help to track and hunt down these 'Stray Devils' that occasionally come into their area of supervision. These strays were apparently reincarnated devils who rebelled against their masters and became uncontrollable without their masters' supervision. Evidently these types were quite a danger to both the Devils and the humans, since these creatures would not care to do anything to cure their thirst for destruction. Some were worse than the others due to the Sacred Gears they had before they were reincarnated, and based on what little I had been told about them, each one of them was bad enough to warrant a team of Devils or priests to go and take them out.

The first time I was offered by Sona to participate in such a hunt, it was me being an observer to understand what they meant by the Peerage system and the Stray Devils. It was somewhat enlightening seeing them trying to protect their town from these creatures. At the same time, I was feeling a little underwhelmed at their hunting sessions. I did not mean to be rude, but it just felt so… so… 'Juvenile'. It did not have the same sense of urgency or threat as with my hunts with the Dead Apostles, and at the same time, seeing them use certain tactics at inappropriate times was a little mind-cringing to me.

And if half the stories I heard from Ise were true, the creatures being hunted were more of the type that came out of Zelretch's weird closet than monsters from the darkness. I mean, who the heck ever heard of a Lamia that shoots Freaking Lasers out of its breasts?!

It got to the point that by the third hunt, I was actively throwing in my own weight just so I could avoid seeing the type of creatures that were offending my limited sanity left in this world. For their part, the devils were grateful for the assistance and were willing to pay for my work. Not that they really needed my help, most of them were way too weak, so I pretty much got paid really quickly. Good thing too since I could use the cash to pay off my debt faster.

So yeah, it was just a simple side-job which I had no problems dealing with.

"Nice work Emiya-kun." I lightly turned my head to find Momo Hanakai walking alongside Yura Tsubasa. She looked around with a quick glance and gave a light nod of approval. "You are really good for this type of work. Most of the time, we have difficulty with the tracking and disposal of the target in question. Even the easier targets tend to make our job a lot more difficult."

"I have a lot of practice." I gave a shrug as I moved slowly to them. "I assume you have completed your end of the search?"

"Yup, we were able to find and take down the other targets, though we did have a bit more destruction on our end." Tsubasa shrugged as she replied. "Also, Emiya-kun. I have been wanting to ask but…" She paused as she pointed at me. "Do you always wear those type of clothes?"

I could detect slight confusion, curiosity and a hint of trepidation regarding my current attire and I could not fault her on that. Since my old one got messed up from my fight with Julius and my current form needed a new wardrobe to fit, I had to use a different set of clothes. I was currently wearing dark jeans with runes taken from the Holy Scriptures sewn along the length of it with silver threads, held together with a simple belt that had a few shield charms attached to it. I wore a simple black jacket with shades of dark grey to complement the white polo shirt I had, with runes sewn on the sleeves. Finally I had dark red battle gloves that cover the lower part of my arm, adorned with barrier charms and strengthening runes.

This was the 'Enforcer Battle Suit – Civilian Type' altered to my current size. Due to my unique fighting style, this version had to be custom-fitted to my specs, making me one of the few Enforcers in the Association to be given special clothes for my work habits. In a way, this set of clothes were quite suitable for the occasion, keeping up the masquerade of normalcy by taking out dangerous individuals.

Still, I preferred my old clothes since that was a product of mine, Rin's and Luvia's combined efforts, so I have been trying to repair and alter them to my size for future use.

"It's one set of my battle clothes." I dismissed my blades and pulled out a cloak from the dimensional pocket to cover my body and reduce the effects of the runes affecting them. "You might want to watch where you touch me to avoid getting hurt."

"I'll keep that in mind." Tsubasa tilted her head as she contemplated my looks. "But aside from the holy runes, I will say that the look suits you. A rather rough and tough feel to it, if I may say so myself." She let out a light smile as she looked me up and down.

I blinked before absentmindedly scratched my cheek. "Erm, thanks for the compliment?" I wasn't used to getting praises about my look, not to mention feeling this embarrassed at getting them from a girl. I chalked it up to my current teenage form as being the cause for my confusion.

"Right, if there's nothing else…" Momo made a few strokes in the air, before a blue circle with a big crest appeared on the ground underneath their feet. The two girls moved into the circle and turned to face me. "You coming?"

"… Err, think I will just take the long route." I replied while warily looking at the magic circle.

"That would take at least half an hour given the distance, this would be faster." Tsubasa raised an eyebrow as she watched me deliberate at the far end. "Come on now."

I moved up to the edge of the circle and stopped, mentally feeling a little irritated that we had to use this method to get back to the school. What was wrong with good old fashioned walking?

"You don't like teleportation?" Momo asked with a hint of amusement in her tone that reminded me of Rin when she has found a weakness to tease me with.

"I have some experience with such spells, none of them were good." I replied with a grimace as I recalled the memories where I got involved with teleportation spells. Three-quarters of the time, I got involved with some mad magus whose spell transported me to some dark hellhole with some type of hellish spawn intent on eating me alive. The remainder of the time, Zelretch used the spell to send me to a location so outrageous, I actually welcomed the hell spawn. And on occasions, some people I knew would get into small mishaps with the spells, making them lose an eyebrow at the least, and losing their entire innards at the worst.

Wasn't it sad?

"Well, I do not know what experience you have, but this one is safe. You will not lose any important body parts at least." Momo said in a manner that was lightly foreboding for me. I let out a sigh and stepped into the circle, noting the feeling coursing through my body. With a bright flash of blue light, I found myself back in the Student Council Room. Discreetly, I checked my body for any missing organs or body parts, particularly the part that mattered the most to me.

Phew~ that was close.

"Welcome back." I turned to find Sona stacking her files and placing them neatly into a drawer. "20 minutes exactly, a new record for you."

"Thanks to Emiya-kun, we were able to track down the Stray Devils that entered the town, with an additional two added into the mix." Momo replied as she went to her desk and sat down. "Honestly, our work efficiency has improved by forty percent. You should consider joining us, we could use the management."

"I have already helped you girls out with your hunts as a side job, so I am not joining your Peerage." I replied back as I worked out the kinks in between my joints. I will admit, having these hunts were a good way to get my body back in shape, even if it was not quite to my standards.

"Technically, you don't need to join our Peerage, you can just join the club. If you like, you can try a probation period" Tsubasa pointed that bit of information as an example. My only response was to raise an eyebrow at them.

"And you girls will not do the same thing as Rias would do if I were to attend your club during that probation period?" My question made Tsubasa and Momo look away while whistling lightly and Sona to shrug stiffly. After the Raynare incident and the few side-jobs I did for the two groups, it became clear to them that I had some skills that were decidedly, in my opinion at least, quite desirable for the groups. Rias for one was really persistent in trying to convince me to join her group, and spent the time I was attending the club under the so-called 'probation period' trying everything from her connections with certain important people to flat-out seduction. She was just a few miles short of being Rin's level, and that scared me. Honestly I fear the day she and Rin were to meet up, I would be dead meat.

For Sona's case, she was more 'practical' in her approach. She answered most of the questions I had about the Devils while listing out the benefits of joining her Peerage. She also pointed out how becoming a member of the Student Council, and by extension her Peerage, would grant me certain privileges not normally given to students.

Still, no matter how much they tried, they would not make me consider exchanging my humanity. I do have some pride as a human after all.

"Okay, point taken." Tsubasa shrugged in mock defeat. "But still, you haven't taken up a club yet right? Better get one soon or the others are not going to stop clamoring."

"Indeed." Sona let out a tired sigh. "The Archery Club and Kendo Club have been particularly insistent on having you as their member. What on earth did you do to make them this desperate to get you?"

"Err…" I paused as I thought back to the time I participated at the club recruitment drive. "I may have gotten a little too enthusiastic at the demonstration."

Momo let out a light snort much to Sona's displeasure. "If you call flooring the entire Archery Club and eradicating all the top Kendo members 'a little too enthusiastic', I can't help but wonder what would happen if you went all out." I merely shrugged in good humour.

Truth of the matter, a part of me was feeling a little nostalgic and I went to those two clubs to see if by some small chance, I would meet the alternate versions of Ayako, Sakura and Fuji-nee. The disappointment of not seeing them got used in the demonstration and in my focused state, I ended up using more strength and concentration than required against the club members, thus resulting in my fame and titles for being the unofficial ace of the Archery and Kendo clubs.

Oh boy.

"Still, you need to get enrolled into a club soon." Sona adjusted her glasses as she went into 'Kaichou' mode. "The rules state that you need to be in a club before the start of summer vacation, and if needed, I will force you to join a club of my choosing."

"That club of your choosing being yours by any chance?" I raised an eyebrow as I guessed her thoughts.

"If need be, yes." I swore to the Root, she nearly smirked in a manner that would make Rin proud as she agreed with my thoughts. "And it should not be too bad for you, considering you are still trying your hardest to get away from Rias."

That was true too; although I did get requests to help out with the extermination of those strays, roughly 3 quarters of it were those I accepted from the Student Council. The remaining quarter came from the Occult group whom I was still a little cautious about. The few reasons I bothered to take their request were either keeping an eye on Ise, watching their style of fighting to make countermeasures, occasionally get some money for the debt, and perhaps the most problematic one of the lot, the blonde former nun who looked at me with the most natural puppy dog eyes in the world as she pleaded on behalf of Rias.

Damn it, there should be a law to ban such a weapon.

A light knock on wood drew our attention to the door where Ise had knocked on to alert us. "Erm sorry to interrupt, is this a bad time?" Ise asked as he looked at everyone with a hesitant tone.

"No, we are finishing up." Sona replied as she straightened her glasses. "So what is the reason for your visit? It is quite late in the evening, and students should be not be here."

"Actually" Ise turned to face me with an apologetic look. "I need a favor from Shirou."

… Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

=()=

'Don't worry, it is just a meeting.' They said.

'There might be some disagreements and a couple of arguments, but nothing too serious.' They said.

Then how in the name of the Root did I get into this situation?

I was currently in the Occult Club Room, standing just outside of the very nice kitchen they had installed here. Aside from me and Rias Peerage, there were a lot of guests in the main room consisting of mostly young girls, one adult female and one male. Both groups were currently being fenced in by a few holy blades with several more pointed at their vital organs for good measure, with the exception of the silver-haired adult who was looking at the scene with a calm and cursory glance, the blond-haired male who was looking downright frustrated and shocked at this development, and an unconscious Ise being attended to by Asia.

I was not sure what transpired, but I could make a guess as to whom instigated the issue, considering the bits of conversation I could hear from the kitchen. I was barely in time to walk out of the kitchen and projected those swords to restrain the girls from attacking the others.

How did it happened again?

As per Ise's request, I made my way to the Occult Room for the first time to discuss with Rias about the use of my culinary skills, Sona tagging along to ensure that I don't end up getting some offer to join Rias's Peerage. The girl had some wrecked up priorities that much I could think of.

My first impression of the Occult Room: big. Like it was roughly the same size as the Student Council Room, but with some differences in decoration taste. For one thing, there were a lot of weird red magic circles adorning the floor and the walls, and the décor was suited for the occult feeling: dark oak furniture, dark Victorian style curtains, and unless I was much mistaken, there were some crystals balls and tarot cards nearby.

I was still trying to wrap my head around the concept that the creatures of the night would form a club to research their own. In a weird way, that was the ideal disguise for Rias and her crew.

In any case, we soon found out why Rias called for my services. Evidently there was supposed to be a meeting between her group and some other person's group, and for her part, she was extremely reluctant to have to play hostess to that individual. But as the meeting was apparently an unavoidable one with some big-shot, she had to provide some service to them, but Akeno shared her apparent dislike for the guest and was only willing to provide tea. It was only after Ise suggested me that Rias reluctantly agreed to it and sent him to ask for my services.

I was not really given much info, apart from me preparing enough for a large group of people, but their behaviors alone were enough to tell me that I should expect some trouble. After all, I had plenty of experience with this type of situation.

Somehow or another, I got the day off to help them prepare for the event. I had suspected it for a while now, but it seemed that both the Student Council and the Occult Club had a lot of power over the school matters, because when I handed in a request for the day off, the faculty were quick in processing and handing me the reply, while telling me that both Sona and Rias had already informed them beforehand and to prepare accordingly.

I spent most of the day preparing for the evening occasion, coming out a few times to lay out the items and greet the guests. The first guest to arrive was the silver-haired woman dressed in a maid clothing, and I was almost struck with the type of feeling that could only be invoked when meeting supernatural women with seemingly ungodly beauty. She had long silver hair that reached past her back and braided with small bows at the end, and had matching silver eyes that spoke of her years beyond the ages. She had a very attractive figure which her clothes hugged very tightly and her manners were almost typical of a true to the Root maid, if not for her serious demeanor and the amount of Prana that was flowing out like a torrent.

I had met many supernatural beauties before, and certainly Rias, Akeno, Sona and that Raynare girl had something going for themselves, but this woman seemed to take it to a level that kind of reminded me of Caster. Maybe it was that feeling of 'matured beauty' one would associate older women with.

It was from this person that I found out the meaning of the visit, and it made me feel a little exasperated and a little sympathetic for Rias. Evidently the group that was coming over was one of the other 72 Clans of the Underworld, the Phenex Clan being the group that was closely associated with the Phoenix if I recalled correctly. Seemingly out of a desire to keep the line of Pure-Blooded Devils alive, the two groups had opted for a political marriage for the two heirs of the clans. This meeting was taking place because the families had decided to bring up the schedule a lot earlier than Rias expected, and she was being notified by the heir of the Phenex Clan.

I do not need to be a genius of Rin's level to see where this disaster was going, judging from the reactions from the people I had met, and that only got reinforced when I met the second guest for the meeting. The blond-haired man dressed in a somewhat gangster-styled aristocratic manner came along with an entire Peerage of girls, each one of varying ages, and the manner in which he seemingly touches them and addresses the Occult Club was more than enough for me to put aside my minor dislike for the crimson-haired girl and devote every bit of hatred I have for this guy.

Heck, just seeing how he guilelessly placed his arms around Rias and touched her legs and hair were enough to tell me that this guy was related in some extent to Gilgamesh. Granted, Gilgamesh had an arrogance that was on a universally different level of his own, but this fellow came pretty close.

I would have preferred sticking in a few blades, but that would mean trouble for Rias's group, so I had to settle for a more mischievous method of slipping a little something inside Raiser's drink and got treated to the sight of coughing and spilling his drink on his clothes.

Ah~ that brought a smile on my face.

An angry voice broke my thoughts as I looked at Raiser who was evidently losing his temper and was about to take his rage out on Rias's group who wanted to respond back in kind but can't do so in their state. As much as I would prefer to stay out of this, I figured I had to interfere on two points. Firstly, as one who was physically of the same age as them and as a bystander who could move, I should stop them. Secondly, I felt that whatever Grayfia was about to do, it was going to become pandemonium when she does so.

Hah ~ what to do now in order to stop this fight?

… I suppose that particular weapon and 'Tohsaka Smile Number 3' would do just fine.

"Now, now everyone." I spoke out to everyone to get their attention with a smile on my face and projecting the weapon of choice by my side. "Let's not get too rowdy, okay?"

=()=

Rias was feeling really, really pissed at the moment.

She really hated the fact that Raiser was coming over to the human world, to her school, just to persuade her to marry him way before the appointed time she was allowed to choose. She also hated the fact that her parents were pushing her into doing this despite their promises. Sure, she understood about the fears that the Pure-Bloods were few and dying out, but she still wanted to live her life freely and to love someone of her own choosing.

Rias also felt conflicted at having Shirou help out for this occasion. For one thing, she knew that Shirou still had some trust issues with the Devils considering that time she saved Ise by converting him into a Devil. Despite their attempts to show that they were the good ones, Sona had remarked that Shirou was still a little distant from them, choosing to interact mostly with Reya, Meguri, Asia and occasionally Ise. Sona had also shared her fears of Shirou meeting Raiser which could further diminished any hopes of him becoming an ally with his current view of Devils as it was.

There was also a small part of her that demanded she did not want Raiser and his Peerage to sample Shirou's – dare she say 'heavenly' – food as she felt it was too good for them, a sentiment shared deeply with Akeno and Sona.

It was some relief to her that Grayfia arrived first to greet them, thus allowing Shirou to meet her for the first time and provide a good impression. It seemed he was able to get along with Grayfia, and with a notable interest to Rias, seemingly struck by the sheer beauty of Grayfia. She always did have that effect on men.

Her mood ended when the magical circle belonging to the Phenex Clan showed on the floor and the person she dreaded to meet appeared with that ever irritating smirk of his. And he immediately sat next to her and wrap his arms around her, making her feel sick at the breathing that issued from his mouth each time he got close. She was sorely tempted to blast his hands off if not for the fact that Grayfia was around to supervise the meeting.

Evidently, Shirou seemed to have put aside his dislike for her and set about 'correcting' Raiser's behavior, if the strong drinks that he served were an indication and that she could have sworn she saw a smirk on Shirou's face when Raiser started coughing from the heavy flavor, perhaps augmented by whatever he added from the small bottle of liquid he placed into his cup.

Whoa, Shirou could hold quite a nasty streak in his own way.

Her amusement ended in an abrupt manner when Raser pushed his behaviour too far and Ise got riled up enough to hit him on the spot. Raiser's order for one of his girls to attack him were ignored as they were too interested in tasting Shirou's food, so he had to stop Ise himself and caused him to topple on to the small cart of food as he fell. Raiser's Peerage took offence at the loss of good food and tried to direct all their rage at him only to be stopped by holy swords appearing around them. Everyone looked around confusedly until Koneko pointed out the blades that were impaled into the ground with their shadows pinned to it. It took a moment for Rias to remember that they belonged to Shirou since he used it against the Fallen Angel from before.

Honestly, where did Shirou learned this magic to create these blades?

"Now, now everyone." Rias turned to find Shirou with a smile that sent shivers down her spine and his eyes half closed. "Let's not get too rowdy, okay?"

Then before her eyes, a spear appeared hovering in the air parallel to his body. The spear was blood red with a narrow head and there were some unusual carvings adorned on its entire body. But rather than the design that spoke of its purpose to kill, she was more terrified by the general feeling that was exuding from it. It was for whatever reason, seemingly dripping blood-lust from it, like it wanted to kill every single living creature in the room and it would not stop to do so. She had encountered a few demonic weapons in her past and met a couple of gods who were physical deities of war and savagery, but all paled in the face of this weapon, making them feel impotent. That feeling was making her stuck to the ground in terror, unable to move an inch even if those black rapiers were not holding her.

"Now Rias, I am sure you know this, but you are the hostess for this meeting, so even if your guest is the type who is extremely egotistical and bad-mannered, you should still uphold a certain level of maturity in dealing with such individuals." Shirou said while maintaining that very scary smile of his and seemingly calm detachment from the situation. Turning to Raiser, he started to address him "And for you, Raiser Phenex was it? Now you are her guest from the Devils side, so I can't interfere with that, but you are at the same time an outsider of the school, and that I can do something. So I would like you to at least restrain your peerage and your temper, and not create a ruckus. Consider yourself fortunate that I was willing to subdue them lightly."

"You did this?! You dare think that a mere human who incapacitated my peerage in such a manner can talk down to me?!" Raiser growled as he conjured up a ball of golden flames in his left hand.

"Oh, I don't think, I let my actions do the talking for this case." Shirou answered back coolly. "You see, I hate people who think they are so high and mighty, they would try to throw their weight around without considering the ramifications of their actions. Also, you may be her fiancé, but there are certain things you have to do and limits to how you treat a woman in public. And lastly." He motioned to Ise on the floor. "Both of you are at fault for what has happened to the lad here, so I do have some right to butt in on this matter. And on that note, both sides are to back off and restrain each other. Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?"

In that moment, Rias thought she saw a male standing next to Shirou with his arms crossed together. He was dressed in a type of blue leotard that had unusual threads around the arms and legs. He had long blue hair tied in a ponytail and a rather rough appearance to his possible Irish look. But the thing that nearly made her gasp in fear was the somewhat savage grin that accompanied the somewhat bestial red eyes that was alternating between her and Raizer. It was as though the figure wanted them to challenge Shirou's words, he wanted them to try and fight Shirou so that he could kill them.

"F~ Fine." She could barely hear Raiser's restrained voice and she found herself nodding almost frantically to answer him.

"Good." Shirou nodded his head once at their approval. "In a way you are lucky, because I think Grayfia-san has a different approach to stopping your arguments, and I would believe it would be less lenient than mine."

"Indeed, though I thank you for intervening in this manner." Grayfia replied back without any signs of being under the same influence of fear as the rest. Surprisingly, she was actually moving around to face her and Raiser. "As the representative for Lord Lucifer, I will not tolerate this type of argument to go on in such a manner. So restrain yourselves."

It seemed that her added presence was the final nail for Raiser, as he dropped his arm and took a reluctant stance. "Even I would be foolish to go against the strongest Queen. Lord Sirzech's Peerage are full of monsters after all. Very well, but I demand that the human release my Peerage this instant."

Grayfia turned around to face Shirou and lightly bowed to him. "Emiya Shirou, can I ask that you release them from your control?"

Shirou opened his eyes wide open, and for a moment, Rias though that his eyes turned black like steel. "That is fine, however I am not sure if they have all calmed down."

"You need not worry, I intend to make sure they do listen to my orders if they continue their hostilities." Grayfia calmly said it with the underlying tone that she was contemplating going the extra mile to make them listen to her. Shirou lightly nodded and made the spear disappear in a cloud of gold dust. It was only seeing the last speck of dust disappearing that Rias realized she had been holding her breath for the entire duration. She took a deep breath to steady her heart, noting that some of the others were also gasping for air, and she was at least satisfied at seeing Raiser looking like he had seen a ghost and ready to crap his pants.

Still, what was that spear and hallucination about?

=()=

Well, that helped a lot.

It may have been a tad overkill using [Gae Bolg] to get everyone to shut up, but it was effective enough to get negotiations ongoing. To alleviate the mood and to satisfy Raiser's Peerage loss of food, I brought out a new cart of pastries to let them sample, thus making them very happy and granting me the smug pleasure of seeing Raiser's embarrassment at the relative easiness I conquered the girls over with food.

Now I knew why Archer feels so happy about this.

At any rate, they decided after a fair amount of debating to have some sort of competition called a Rating Game in 10 days' time, with the 'suggestion' from Raiser being that Rias's Peerage would need all the help they could get. And despite Rias bluffing her way out of that situation, I could tell that she was partially grateful that she had this handicap from him. She would definitely need all the help she could get from these few days of training.

So after all that, I returned to the Student Council Room to hand over my letter of leave, and to report back of the events in the Occult Club Room. Evidently word traveled fast to the Sona's Peerage about the proceedings, as Tsubasa immediately bombarded me with questions about the incident the moment I entered the doorway.

"So let me get this straight, you essentially immobilized Raiser's entire Peerage, scared him into behaving himself nicely, and basically embarrass himself in front of everyone in the room?" Tsubasa asked incredulously with the others looking at me in disbelief. "Damn, I wish I was there to see that look on his face!"

"Yura, we do not take pleasure in people's discomfort." Sona adjusted her glasses as she looked at us.

"Come on, Kaichou! Wouldn't you feel the same way towards that guy?" Tsubasa asked with a raised eyebrow, and I got treated to the sight of Sona looking away and letting out a light cough while lightly blushing. That was a little adorable and slightly emotional for me as that action reminded me a little of Saber when she got embarrassed on the spot.

Darn it, keep control.

"But honestly, Emiya-kun. I am a little concerned about your actions." Sona focused on me to hide her embarrassment. "You may have limited knowledge about us, that I cannot refute, but you need to be careful making such moves against one of the 72 clans. You do not want to make enemies of them, especially one with great influence like the Phenex Clan."

"Hmm~ would that be because they are the clan mostly associated with the mythical creature of fire most famous for its ability to resurrect from the ashes?" I mentioned offhandedly as I absentmindedly twirled a small blade in my hand. Putting on an expression of great thoughtfulness, I said out the word that basically spoke of what I felt of the matter.

"Meh."

"What~ what do you mean 'meh'?!" Sona asked in a slightly offended tone.

"No offense, but it is not the first time I have to go against an immortal creature that is hard to kill and regenerates from its wounds." I shrugged as I thought through the times I fought such creatures. "And if you want to get more detailed, well…" I held up three fingers. "This was the number of times I went against a supposed phoenix."

"You are joking, right?" Tsubasa let out a chuckle only to stop when she saw my expression. "Wait, you actually fought off a phoenix three times?!"

"Well, granted the first two times, the bird was held back by some powerful barriers, and the last one was due to a crazy magus trying to resurrect the bird in order to absorb it into his body and gain its abilities." I told them a little as I reminisced about my old missions. "And I had a few artifacts that allowed me to go toe-to-toe with it, so as far as I know, I and a couple of others are the only ones to successfully fight off such a bird. So yeah, Meh!"

"No way…" Everyone in the room gawked at me who talked about going against one of the most mythological creatures in existence like I was talking about the weather. The boy Saji for one was looking ready to crap his pants.

"Trust me when I say, that no matter how many creatures that try to eat you, disembowel your organs, skewer you with 3 foot claws or skinned you alive as your soul is being sucked out, you will not forget the first immortal that tried to kill you." I knew my eye twitched uncontrollably when I thought back to all the immortal creatures I had taken out, right back to the first one I had fought.

Thank you Berserker Herakles for being the main core of my immortal monster nightmares.

My urge to shudder got interrupted by a knock on the door, drawing our attention to both Ise and Kiba who had arrived. "Apologies for the late visit, but we have a certain favor to ask of Emiya-kun." Kiba bowed his head to the girls before turning to me.

And once again, I had a very bad feeling.

Part 2

Ha~ Why am I not surprised anymore?

It seemed that my earlier performance at the Occult Room prompted Rias to appoint me as a part-time trainer of sorts for Ise and Kiba. I was supposed to meet them at some vacation home that Rias had near the mountain regions where they were going to spend their time training for the match. At first she had hoped to get me in for the whole training period, but me, Sona and surprisingly the other girls rejected that proposal. For Sona's reason, since I was not a part of her club I shouldn't be going on club trips. For the others, their reason was simpler: who would be around to fix the equipment when I'm gone?

Not sure how to feel about that, but hey, the thought counts.

After some serious negotiations, I ended up coming every odd day of their training to help whatever way I can, since I still had my part-time job to handle. At the same time, this was about as good an opportunity as I could have to get some answers to certain questions.

Especially the ones involving these Sacred Gears I kept hearing.

During one of the few question-answer sessions I had with Sona, I learned a lot about these gears, and quite frankly I was both impressed and disturbed at their existence. Apparently these were like physical Noble Phantasms created by God himself, meant to spread his acts of miracles among the world via his human followers. However some bugs got in the way of their creation, thus leading to some developing abilities that seemed more suited for war than peace, like Kiba's Sword Birth. Furthermore, each one was capable of going to the next level of power that was considered so outrageous, that level earned the moniker "Balance Breaker".

Amongst this lot, there were thirteen particular Sacred Gears that had more than enough power to supposedly kill other Gods, thus leading to their titles 'Longinus', allegedly named after the blind soldier who stabbed the Son of God. Ise's Boosted Gear was ranked the fifth of the lot, its ability name evidently taken from the dragon that was residing inside the gear, the one called the 'Red Dragon Emperor'.

Best not to let them know about the few Noble Phantasms considered Longinus level inside my Reality Marble.

I was honestly perplexed at the fact there were such powerful artifacts that could grant the user any power of the sort. Heck, even the Twice Critical Gear that everyone seemed to dismiss as average and weak would be a godsend to anyone in my old world. If I had such a gear, I would not have to worry too much about my Prana reserves. Combined that with Twilight Healing, I would be able to complete my jobs in a jiff.

I did asked why were the Devils able to use Sacred Gears if God allowed only humans to use them, and the best answer that Sona could come up with was the idea that God would not have expected the Devils to create a system that allowed for the resurrection and conversion of species into Devils, while Rias had shown evidence of half-humans also gaining the Gears. Even the Devil higher-ups had once dismissed this Ajuka's system as a mere joke until he created and demonstrated its use. So it seemed even God could not foresee this development.

But enough of that, I had another important question to ask.

"I understand the intent behind Sona's visit with me, but why are the rest coming along?" I raised my eyebrow at the Student Council who had come along to see the Rias's group. Oh, and I might add that for whatever reason, they were still wearing the uniforms on a weekend.

"I'm coming along to back up Kaichou if Rias-sama decides to go on the offensive and force you into her Peerage." Tsubaki adjusted her glasses as she replied back. Yup, that suited her.

"I'm tagging along to see how they train for this fight." Tsubasa waved her hand easily. She was a very sporty girl for this type of events.

"I just want to see Kiba-kun for a while." Reya looked down to the ground while blushing lightly. Oh yeah, she did have a crush for the prince didn't she?

"I haven't had a talk with Akeno for a while, so might as well take the chance to do so." Momo let out a shrug. She was way too easy-going at times.

"I just want to see everyone get hyped up for the match!" Ten points to the one who can guess the person who said that.

"I have yet to meet the others from the group, so I should go and introduce myself." The latest Pawn replied eagerly as she tried to check herself for any wrinkles on her clothes. I think her name was Ruruko Nimura, or something of the sort.

"I'm just here to see Hyoudou get trashed." The boy replied back without remorse. If I recall correctly, he and Ise went off on a rough start, supposedly due to him being attracted to sweet innocent Asia. Oh joy.

That said though, the path leading to the vacation house was pretty long. I am confident of my endurance, and most certain of my fellow (devil) classmates, and I figured Rias would want to ensure some privacy to avoid visits from the hormonal males at the academy, but this was seriously far. This was comparable to my time in Geneva when I was tracking a rouge magus in the woods and that was a really long distance and big ground to cover.

"Emiya-kun, how is the resident Fallen Angel treating you?" Sona asked me, lightly nodding her thanks as I offered a hand over a particularly bad patch of loose earth. "I hope that she is not giving you too much problems."

I lightly shrugged my shoulders as a response. "She is a little bit of a handful, but still manageable." And I meant that, Rin was way more troublesome of a roommate to handle than Mitelt, and it helped that Mitelt was at least more controllable than Rin on her bad days, even if she was still a small spitfire who tend to lash out at times.

Since I brought her under my protection, I went to get her into a place close enough for me to keep an eye on her and for her to come to me if she needed any assistance. It was a simple room with the bare necessities, but judging from her reactions, it seemed she had lived in pretty bad conditions before coming here. After that it was a matter of working out the other bits of our agreement and getting her some clothes to change into.

But perhaps the biggest help came from Kawako-san who had appeared around my area just as Mitelt was about to blow her top when I suggested she help out with the chores at times. Seeing an immortal creature with enough power to crush humans forced into seiza position while Kawako-san was lecturing her with the ladle that appeared out of nowhere in her hand was a sight that could only be seen to be believed.

My thoughts got interrupted as I took note of the scent of polished steel and regret in the air and turned to the trees. "Are you going to keep the girls waiting in the sun while staying in the cover of the trees?"

"Hmm, Buchou was right, you do have a keen sense towards us." Kiba smiled as he walked out of the tree cover. "My apologies for hiding, but I had to make sure no one else was following you, and at the same time, I was curious about your supposed sixth sense that could detect us easily."

"A gift and a curse if you want my honest opinion." I followed him while grimacing. "Because having to sense every single supernatural creature in the general area makes my life extremely stressful."

"That sounds hard." Meguri tilted her head as she tried to imagine what it was like to feel every creature around me.

"You have no idea." I muttered very softly. We continued on for a while before Kiba looked up and stopped to turn to us.

"Well, we are here." Kiba motioned to the house before us. The others started to move on before Sona turned around to face me, Saji and the new Pawn who were still standing in the same spot.

"Why are the three of you still standing there, is there a problem?"

Okay, I got a general idea from Rias's attitude in the school, and the somewhat light-hearted manner she dealt with stuff, not to mention the type of furniture that was in the Occult Club Room, and hearing about her owning a vacation house was certainly something, but seeing the actual thing just put things into perspective.

Rias was seriously loaded with cash.

The vacation house before me was your typical log cabin that reminded me of the ones back in Europe, but the sheer size of it made me think it was meant for the super-rich and famous. Heck, the place got a patio and a barbecue pit nearby, with what looked like an open-aired bath if the steam I was looking at was of any indication.

"This is…" Saji muttered as he stared at the roof with the huge wood carving perched on top.

"Yeah." I muttered back.

"Are those…" The female pawn pointed at the steam vapors coming out of the supposed hot spring with a dazed look.

"Yeah."

"Oh right, this is the first time you guys came to Rias's vacation house." Sona looked at the house before turning back to us. "Just a heads-up, this is one of her smaller vacation homes, so this is nothing."

'Smaller?!' I was not ashamed of myself for staring at Sona with my mouth wide open at her words. If this was the case, I could not imagine the bigger ones she had, or for that matter, I could not wrap my head around the fact the devil had multiple vacation homes.

Note to self, Rias and Rin must never meet, the twin-tailed magus would have a fit if she were to see the scale of the devil's bank book.

Feeling dazed at the revelation, I followed them to the back of the house where I saw Rias sitting at a table with Asia and Akeno drinking tea by her side. "Ah, so you made it!" Rias beamed as she waved to us. "I was beginning to wonder if you would show up, though I did not expect the Student Council to be here."

"Everyone wanted to tag along, so I let them." Sona replied as she shrugged. "I'm just here to make sure that you don't attempt anything to Emiya-kun while I'm not around."

"Of course." Rias agreed frankly without missing a beat. Though I could detect a slight twitch of her right eye as they stared at each other. Guess Sona foiled her plan after all.

"So Kiba is here." I pointed my thumb at the blond guy. "So where is the other person I'm training?"

"Well he is…"

"AAAAHHHHHH!" I immediately turned my body and made my stance, stopping just short of projecting Kanshou and Bakuya as I took in the sight that was unfolding of me. Ise came running out of a clearing, looking a little worse for wear in clothes and his expression of comical terror on his face. Soon after Koneko jumped out herself and chased him while carrying what looked to be a ton of rocks in a basket and throwing them like they were softballs.

"EI~" She let out a somewhat subdued battle cry as she threw the rocks at Ise without any effort.

"AAAHH! Koneko-chan, have mercy on me!" Ise screamed as he ran past us and back into the trees, with Koneko following. For a while, we all stood there silently, before Sona let out a sigh and massaged her temple. I on the other hand could only offer a tired smirk.

This was going to be a very long training period.

=()=

"Ha~ Ha~ Ha~ Koneko-chan, are you trying to kill me or something?!" Ise panted as he fell flat on his back and tiredly wiped the sweat off his brow.

"… No, I would not try to kill you." Koneko replied as she sat down on the chair near the pactio to grab a bottle of water. "I simply want to beat you to a pulp for every act of perversity." Ise could only let out a frustrated grunt at her admission. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow, to which she responded by showing a peace sign. Yup, she was most definitely a mischievous cat.

"I suppose there is some meaning to the madness?" I pointed to the wrecked Ise on the ground while looking at Rias.

"Well you see, normally when a reincarnated Devil is born, he or she will be born with enough magic to sustain the body." Rias pointed to Ise with a complicated expression. "Thing is, Ise-kun has practically zero-magical powers at all, and that is really weird."

"Is it that weird? I mean considering you revived him from a human state, and from personal experience, there aren't a lot of humans that have enough potential to actually manipulate Prana."

"Prana?" Rias tilted her head at my words.

"Magical energy if you prefer that explanation." I merely waved my hands while looking to Sona for the answer to my question.

"While it is true that normal humans would have lower magical reserves compared to magicians, the same applies to other species." Sona started her explanation while adopting a position I have come to label as "Shitori's Teaching Pose Number 1", with one elbow resting on her other hand and her hand adjusting her glasses. "Any creature being resurrected will have magical reserves created on the spot, it is just the matter of how much they have to begin with and how far they can train to attain a higher level."

"In his case though, based on Rias's description, I would say that Hyoudou-kun has absolutely zero talent in the magical arts."

"GAGH!" I was treated to the sight of Ise letting out a yell as though Sona's words were weaponised and impaled him at the core of his misery. Tough luck mate.

"But won't all start out like this?"

"Some are worse than others." Kiba voiced out his opinion as he pointed to himself. "I for one had a few issues with magic when I was resurrected, and it took a few months before I could utilize it myself."

"I see." I rubbed my chin as I considered this information. So I was right about the creation of Magic Circuits on their resurrection, but from their descriptions, it seemed that it was a bit of Russian roulette if you could get a decent upgrade from the start.

"And again, for some weird reason, Ise-kun just can't use any magic." Rias let out a sigh. "That is why I am currently training his physical body, hoping that it can at least raise his compatibility with the Longinus and perhaps get his body developed enough to get his magic flowing."

"Maybe he is not really utilizing his Magic Circuits well, so that is why he is having problems with Prana manipulation." I gave that suggestion as I looked at his state, being painfully reminded of my past when Rin was training me. Did I look that pathetic when worn out?

"I have no idea what you are saying but…" Rias turned to me with a keen eye. "By chance you know something that could help Ise-kun with his situation?"

"… I might." I gave that vague reply. I was not going to give her a free gift after all, and that was absolutely no way…

"Please Emiya-san, would you help Ise-san?" Asia put her hands together and unleashed her ultimate weapon on me: the most natural and earnest puppy dog eyes I have ever seen. I took one look at her before slapping my face and berating myself mentally for testing my E-Rank Luck.

Dammit, there really should be a limit to such cuteness!

"Ah, so that's how Rias got him to some of the hunts." Momo let out a smirk as she looked on.

"Can't say I blame him, no one can resist that type of firepower." Tsubaki added her two cents at us.

'Both of your comments are not helpful.'

"Ha~ fine. I might be able to help." I turned to both Kiba and Ise. "Can I ask you two to stand up so that I could check your bodies? I am using Kiba as a reference for this."

"By chance this is the same as last time?" Ise asked as he recalled our previous contact. I merely nodded in reply as I rolled up my sleeves. I was going to need every ounce of concentration for this.

"You know what he is about to do?" Kiba asked as he got in front of me.

"Something along the lines of checking our body structure?" Ise shrugged as he got beside him. "The only thing I know is that you will get a tickling feeling from the inside out." I could only reply with a shrug of my own at Kiba's questioning gaze.

"You two might experience some momentary discomfort." I placed both hands on their backs and took a deep breath, before opening my channels. "Trace On."

"Whoa~ here we go again!" Ise let out a stammer while Kiba lightly shivered from the Prana entering their bodies. Once again, I used Structural Analysis to examine both of their bodies and see what was about the Peerage system that made them unique. One thing I was told about Kiba was him being given a Knight Piece that dealt with speed, so I was curious how would that be different from Ise.

First thing I noted was the difference in development patterns. Ise's circuits were more or less spread out around his entire body, while the majority of Kiba's were being concentrated at the legs, with his arms having only 3 circuits each. Secondly, Kiba's circuit development is certainly a lot more developed compared to Ise's, likely due to him having been resurrected a longer time and more experience with it. Lastly, Kiba's circuits had a relatively stable flow compared to Ise's.

But something about Ise's circuits seemed off to me. His Od was all over the place and some of the circuits are disjointed, thus not getting enough Prana to at his limbs, and something about his core seems disrupted…

Wait a minute, this is?!

I removed my hand from them a little too quickly, but at least I got my answers, and honestly I was a little surprised to find out.

"Whoa~ I am never going to get used to that feeling." Ise shivered a bit more while Kiba nodded lightly in agreement. He turned to me with a tired look. "So you know what is wrong with me?"

"Well, I'll be a Root Hound." I muttered in slight surprise at my findings. "Your condition is a lot like mine."

"Condition like yours?" Rias leaned forward at my words, unconsciously, or in my opinion 'intentionally', squeezing her very abundant assets in front of me. "You understand what is stopping his ability to use magic?"

"I might have an idea." I motioned to both Kiba and Ise. "Both of their magic circuits are created once they are resurrected, but for Ise's case the circuits are extremely poor, as though his circuits stopped its development for some time, and that is why he is not receiving enough 'Od' through them. My guess something is stopping the generation of his circuits."

"Huh?" Ise titled his head in confusion at my words, and he was not the only one; everyone else displayed varying expressions of uncertainty and cluelessness. Asia on her part had the cutest expression of looking extremely dazed at my explanation with her hands holding her head, I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears in her attempt to understand my words.

Right, different world, different style of magic system. Oh Joy.

"Hah~ all right then. Ise, take a seat. I am about to give you the shortened version of my magical teachings and I need you to concentrate, okay?" I decided that 'Tohsaka Teaching Pose Number 5' will suffice for my explanation. Seating upright with my elbows on the table and hands clamped together, I directed him to the seat opposite of me so that I could look at him in the eye.

"Emiya-kun, may we sit in for this session?" Sona asked politely while some of the others nodded to show their agreement. "It's not often we get to hear teachings of a different magic school."

I paused for a moment to consider this issue. There was the possibility of revealing the fact that I was not from around here, but considering their impression of me being some wizard from an unknown school of magic, this might be a good time to reinforce on that.

Should not be too hard, since I did learn magic differently from the rest back home. Just got to be careful how to phrase.

"Sure, but keep the questions to a minimum and preferably after I helped Ise out with his dilemma." After they nodded and took their seats, I turned back to Ise with a straight face. Time for Magecraft 101, the 'dumbed-down' version.

"Firstly, Prana is what you guys would refer to as magical energy, basically the gasoline to powering your attacks if you would. It is called many names, but for our lesson, I will tell you the two most common ones: 'Mana' being the life-force of the world, and 'Od' being the internal energy present in our living creatures." I paused as I looked at the blank faces on some of the audience. Okay, need a different approach of 'dumbing down'.

"Erm, okay you do know of the term 'Senjutsu' right? Natural Energy?" I provided different terms as a reference, and was greeted with brightened expressions of understanding and nodding. "Well, that will be referring to the 'Mana', and the 'Od' will be like 'Chi', the energy inside a person. With me so far?"

Ise nodded as he looked at me seriously. At least he was interested in my explanation, likely due to the possible stakes at hand.

"Next is the manner in which the 'Od' is being circulated in your body via the Magic Circuits. Think along the lines of blood vessels, only these transfer Prana. These circuits are important in many things, like the proper functioning of your body or physical performance, and then we have the usage for magical attacks or magical enhancement of your body."

"Interesting." Sona replied as she started taking notes using a notebook that I had no idea where she kept it. Rias and Akeno were listening with narrowed eyes, no doubt trying to relate to their field of magic to get a better grasp of my style. The others were politely staying quiet, but their expressions spoke of their interest in the magic works.

"Okay that much I understand." Ise frowned as he looked at me. "Wait, you said my condition was similar to yours. In what way?"

"Well, the short version of it is, your circuits are somewhat stunted." I gave it a bit more thought before clarifying the explanation. "The condition you are having is similar to one I used to have, but there are still some differences in terms of our origins."

"Such as?"

"My issue came about from my lack of using my natural circuits in the beginning, thus resulting in a patched job of Prana Circuits. From what I have seen inside you, your body is trying to develop the circuits after your reincarnation as a Devil, but for some reason, the development is particularly slow, so I would say something is interfering with it."

"So what would it be?" Rias pursed her lips as she considered the information, no doubt trying to rethink her plans for this Rating game.

"Well there are several reasons, but for this situation we would go for the more obvious ones." I replied as I considered how best to explain. "The first reason would have to be his body is simply too weak to have circuits. And by that I mean he is seriously the weakest one of the lot" At that remark, I was treated to another sight of Ise slumping on the table and started crying like a baby. Sona's group were shocked at the sudden development while his teammates looked unsurprised at him. Guess he got that remark a few times now.

"Right, moving on to the second reason. This might be a little sensitive for you but" I paused wondering if I should be saying this so soon, but decided that practicality trumps personal misgivings. "There is a certain element inside you that is hindering the development up till now."

"A certain element?" Rias asked in a tentative tone, as if guessing what I had in mind.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but something can interfere with the whole devil transformation process if a foreign element was already inside to begin with?" At her hesitant nod, I laid out my words as plain as possible. "Okay, as far as I know, your biology is not too different from a human's, so if something that was already present in the person's body was potent enough to hinder the development, it would be possible to do so especially if it is the type that would be deadly to devils."

"Wait you mean…" Kiba perked up his ears with a frown on his face, guessing my thoughts.

"I don't mean to drag up bad memories, but I think the reason for your poor development is partially due to Raynare's attack on you. There are still faint traces of her light element that are flowing in your system." I watched Ise's expressions as I explained, knowing what was to come. Sure enough, his facial expressions switched to a blank state, his eyes widening slightly and his skin going pale at the memories of being attacked by Raynare.

"So it is from her spear that he got the issues from?" Rias muttered lightly as Asia started to lightly pat Ise's hand to console him. He was able to let out a small smile as he lightly grasped her hand back.

"So how is it related to your old condition?" Sona asked while she continued writing on her notepad. Her tone suggested she wanted to change the mood that descended on the discussion, and I was thankful for the change.

"My old condition was partially due to my incomplete training last time. I was not given proper instructions on how to utilize my circuits well enough, so much of it was touch and go. The end result was me barely able to use even five percent of my abilities." I replied as I thought back to the time of the Holy Grail War. "It was during one of my first fights that my old partner realized that my circuits were poorly developed and underused, so she helped me through some of her own methods."

"I'm guessing those methods are the ones you will try to help Ise-kun with?" Akeno asked for a confirmation.

"Generally speaking, there are many methods, but for his case there are only two methods, both of which applied to me." I raised my hand to list out the points. "The first method is one you are already implementing for him, the 'slow and steady' route through enhanced physical training. This would definitely yield more favorable results and a lot safer for him, as it would allow his body to adapt to the power of that Longinus he has."

"But considering your tight schedule, you are hoping for a faster solution."

"That would be very helpful indeed, Emiya-kun." Rias bowed her head deeply. I could only sigh inwardly at this scene. The few times I have seen her, she was someone who had a lot of pride in her and her group, and as far as I could tell, she would not defer to anyone so easily. She must really hate that Raiser fellow a lot.

Now I knew how Rin feels at times.

"The second method I am about to propose is pretty risky considering his body, but if it works it could potentially bring about a major boost in his powers. Roughly double if not triple his current level" I waited for any objections before continuing. "In the simplest of terms, it is like kick-starting an engine. Applying an external stimulant to his circuits should awaken it enough to push past his obstruction and opened up all the channels."

"Is it effective?" Sona's enquiry sounded a little doubtful, and I don't blame her for that.

"The success rate is low to begin with, and even if it succeeds the rest depends on the individual himself." I paused to take a sip of water. "For my case, I used both methods to get myself to this stage. I started out with the first method, then got introduced to the second during my first real fight, afterwards I continued with the first option to stabilize the Prana flow inside my body. Even now, I'm still considered a third-rate mage, and some of the others who went through the method have mixed results. Some who were very successful mages ended up crippling themselves severely."

Don't I know it? There were other methods similar to Rin's Jewel that I swallowed to help jump start the circuits, but those were more drastic than mine, not to mention the effects differed greatly. A magus with forty good quality circuits could end up the worst as compared to someone with twenty poor quality circuits. Based on Rin's explanation, it largely depended on the individual's mentality and will to push through the odds.

Guess that made me the lucky one.

"Now that you heard it, you have a choice. Do you wish for Ise to get stronger the slow and safe route, or take the more risky option in time for the match?" I laid out the options and waited for her reply. Rias was most certainly torn in her decisions between trying to increase her Pawn's strength through the quickest way possible and the prospect of crippling her member if the procedures failed.

But it seemed Ise made that decision for himself long before her.

"Give me the second method." I turned to find Ise with a determined look. "If this is the fastest way to get stronger before the match, then do it. I need these circuits to be opened."

"Are you sure you want to do that?" I gave him a warning as I frowned. "The possibility of you getting crippled is extremely high, and even if you can handle the shock, you might not get that much of a boost."

"Please, do it!" Ise actually got up from the chair, came to my side, and bloody got on his knees to beg. "I need to beat that Yakitori Bastard at the Rating Game!"

"Did he call Raiser ~?"

"Yakitori Bastard?"

Tsubasa and Momo clamped their mouths with their hands and tried to no avail to stifle the laughter coming out of their mouths while Tsubaki was looking to the side trying not to smile at that title. I on the other hand was looking very grim as I watched him prone on the ground. Honestly, I was not even sure why I agreed to helping them out despite my own curiosity of their culture or the fact they were creatures that could easily hurt people. So why?

"You are very different from the others. You don't go around asking for a reward or bragging of your accomplishments. You kept helping those less fortunate even when there is no real need to do so, and you keep worrying about your opponents."

The voice of an old friend and enemy echoed some familiar words in my mind, and for a moment I felt myself back on the rock talking to that person once again, wondering how we got to that stage before arriving in this world. Hah~ I felt so old.

Well, since he was this determined, I might as well do the deed then.

I got up from my chair attracting everyone's attention, and I looked at Ise from my height. "I should warn you, if you really want to do this, we cannot stop the process until it is finished. So I will ask one last time, do your really wish to do this?"

"Do it." Ise looked at me resolutely. "I can take whatever you throw at me."

"Very well, then." I turned to Rias. "I would need to borrow one of your rooms, would that be fine?"

"Whatever you need, just name it." Rias replied back.

"Okay, I need an empty room with enough space for me to draw a magic circle roughly 3 to 6 feet in diameter, preferably some place that would not be too affected by your demonic energies." I then motioned to Asia with my thumb. "Best to have her on standby, because the procedure could get very volatile. And maybe something soft to lay him down after the procedure."

"Okay, anything else?"

"Oh yeah, one more thing." I let out a teasing smile. "I would need to borrow the kitchen."

"Hah?" I absolutely swear to Zelretch. Simultaneously, Rias, Akeno, Sona and Tsubaki blinked at the same time while making the most comical expression of confusion.

"I would need to borrow some of the stuff from the kitchen to make the medicine required to force open his circuits." I explained after letting out a good chuckle. "It's not like I have ready-made items to awaken a person's Magic Circuits. That would be very dangerous since anyone would try to do so without proper instructions."

"Fair enough, Kiba could you show Shirou the kitchen, we will set up the room as instructed." Kiba nodded and showed me the way to the kitchen, with me quietly thinking through about the procedures to do this.

Boy, was I in for it or what?

=()=

"Sorry to get you involved in this." Rias bowed her head in shame as she apologized to Sona and the rest of the Student Council.

"It is fine, we don't mind helping you out in this case." Tsubaki replied as she effortlessly carried a cabinet with one hand and made her way to the doorway. "If doing this helps Hyoudou get his magical abilities up and beat the crap out of Raiser, we can practically do this all day long."

"You needn't worry about this." Sona agreed with her Rook's words. "Besides, this would be an ideal opportunity to study Emiya's brand of magic up close, and also to get an idea of where he came from."

"Ah, so that's why." Rias let out a teasing smile at Sona before frowning. "So what do you think?" Rias asked her as they cleared out the items in the chosen room.

"Think what exactly?" Sona grunted as she placed the heavy vase on the floor away from the entrance.

"What do you think about the method he proposed for this session? Do you think it can work?" Rias turned to her with a slightly anxious expression. Sona could tell that Rias was torn between wanting her servant to get stronger but at the same time she did not want harm to come to him.

"Emiya-kun did warned you that the methods he would use have a small chance of success, and that it would largely depend on Ise to be able to take it." Sona replied back as she straightened her clothes. "And Hyoudou-kun was the one who requested him to perform the procedure, so you just have to place your faith in him."

"I know, but I just don't want to risk him getting hurt because of this stupid marriage!" Rias threw a minor tantrum as she laid down the pile of books on the table with a little more force than necessary, making it groan in protest. "Because of my issues, my dear Ise is getting himself into danger!"

"I am sure Emiya-kun would take the necessary precautions before subjecting Hyoudou-kun to this ritual." Reya replied as she pushed the chairs out of the room. "He seems capable considering his knowledge."

"I suppose." Rias nodded just as Shirou came around the corner with Kiba and Saji, talking to them about something to which they were nodding a few times, probably related to the ritual at hand.

She could only pray to the Maous that the procedure would work.

=()=

Well it seemed everyone wanted to stick around for the ritual.

I spent a few minutes in the kitchen measuring out the ingredients required for the ritual, aided by Asia and Meguri who went about collecting some of the stuff, while Reya was helping me with the measurements. For a while a few of the others were watching me mix the ingredients up, clearly confused by the type of items I was using, since much of it was technically used for cooking rather than medicine, and things got a bit weirder when I produced a knife to make a small cut on my finger and Ise's in order to get some blood to mix into the ingredients. This way his body would not reject the item and I can use my blood as an anchor to get to the root of the problem. I sent most of them back to Rias and the others to help them out, asking only Saji and Kiba to help in the ritual. After the process was done, I stowed the items into a plastic container and took them with me to where the ritual would take place.

"Well, we cleared the room as much as we could, is this big enough?" Rias asked the moment I entered the room.

"More than big, this is perfect." I nodded with slight approval of the amount of working space I have. Having spent time in my own makeshift workshop in this world, I felt a little claustrophobic due to the relatively small area I had to cramp myself in. This room reminded me of my old workshop back home, minus the clutter.

"So what should we do now?" Ise asked now dressed in a thin shirt for the session.

"First, we should prep you." I drew a symbol in the air to draw out the small kit I had in the dimensional pocket to find the item I needed. A moment of mischief got me thinking to unzip one of the bigger compartments to reveal several syringes.

"Let's see, how much do you weigh? Roughly 50 to 60 kilograms?" I held my chin before slowly drawing the biggest one for everyone to see, roughly the size of two thumbs. "Maye this much would be needed for your condition?"

"What the heck is that?! Some sort of weapon?!" Ise's eyes were bulging as he scampered away from me. "Don't you even think of poking that into me?! I have seen Pulp Fiction!"

"Emiya-kun, is that really necessary?" Sona asked with a tone of incredulity and a hint of amusement.

"Hmm… Good point." I held back a smirk as I put back the big syringe and took out a relatively normal sized one. "This will do." This time I held nothing back as I watched Ise heft a big of relief.

"You are evil." Rias raised an eyebrow at me.

I merely shrugged as I took a small vial of clear liquid and loaded the syringe with it, before turning to Ise. "Okay now hold out your arm." Ise slowly lifted his arm for me to find the nerve, then winced slightly as I poked the needle into it and injected the formula, before removing it quickly and put a clean wool on it. "There done."

"That wasn't so bad." Ise let out a sigh of relief.

"That was just penicillin." I could not help but smirk at the expression he gave me at my reply. Oh man, I was really infected by both Rin and Zelretch. Stowing that thought, I took out the container and removed the cover to reveal the contents.

"Black toffee?" Rias blinked at the innocent looking snacks I displayed.

"Not quite, rather these are 'Prana Tokens', each one carrying a small bit of Prana to help with the procedure. It also contains a drop of Ise's blood so that his body would not reject it during the process."

"And these are the same as the ones your friend used on you?" Tsubaki looked at the toffee with a disbelieving tone.

"Not exactly, at least Ise can swallow this and properly digest it under supervisions, rather than me having to swallow a small rock in a tight situation and still get cramps from it time to time." I grimaced as I clutched my stomach. Honestly one would think that Rin's gem would pass out of my body safely after a few weeks, but no~ the bloody stone took a couple of years to pass out, during which I suffered a lot of cramps from it, not helped by Rin's laughter when she heard about it. I made it a point to at least research the procedure and tried to make it more 'customer friendly' in terms of consuming the Prana Token if ever I needed to perform the procedure.

I know that she meant well, but still damn you Tohsaka for laughing at my indigestion period.

"Sounds painful." Kiba mentioned as he looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

"Believe me, it is worse than it sounds." I gritted my teeth at remembering the bloody pain. I shook my head to forget the memories and focus on the main task at hand. "These tokens have a small bit of my Prana to act as a seed inside, so once you ingest this, I will activate it and it will help guide me to the root of the problem and hopefully awaken your circuits. So ready?"

"I think so." Ise gulped a little audibly but nodded with a determined expression. I temporarily placed the container down and took out a piece of chalk to start drawing a circle, pausing to look at the others.

"Will you guys be observing or actively participated in this experiment?" I asked as I mentally calculated the size of the circle I was drawing. "If you are participating, I would need to make a bigger circle with everyone inside, otherwise only Kiba and Saji would be required inside the circle."

"We'll be standing outside." Sona replied as she and the others moved towards the walls. I continued a small circle just enough to encompass us males, before writing in the runes for this ritual. I should remember to thank both Rin and Luvia for teaching me how to make this circle, because this would definitely be important to draw it accurately.

"What is the circle meant to do?" Momo asked as she watched me write the runes on her end.

"It is meant to keep out ambient energy so that I can focus on Ise's Prana signature." I resisted the urge to raise my head to avoid seeing her legs from my angle. "This is easier for me as I do not have to expand more of my Prana to find his energy and block out the rest. Also this helps to keep them registered." I motioned at Saji and Kiba with my other hand. "Since I would need their help in supporting Ise, this spell would recognize their Prana and handle their bits while I focus on Ise."

"This is really interesting." Sona looked at the circle with an improving nod. "I have seen a few magic circles in my life, but none of which could block out ambient energy this easily."

"To be honest, it is still a work in progress for me." I admitted that fact as I fiddled with the last rune. "The people whom I learnt this spell from would be able to draw this within 2 minutes flat without blinking an eyelash."

"They must be very talented, or they have a very good instructor." Tsubaki remarked as she studied the circle closely.

"Both points for their part." I dusted off the chalk on my hands and checked my work. "Those two were seriously talented and extremely hard-headed in their studies. Throw in a teacher who is extremely difficult to please, and you basically have a recipe for someone who has to work their asses off to become the best or risk losing their minds."

"Losing their minds?" Rias raised an eyebrow at that remark. "How so?"

"Trust me, you are better off not knowing." I shivered at the memory of the last student who left Zelretch's teachings. Seeing the nervous blabbering wreck that student had become was something I would not want to wish on anyone except my worst enemies, and even then I am not sure if it would be too much for them.

Lightly coughing to get the dust out of my system and to clear my thoughts, I turned to the males inside the circle with me. "Okay, Saji and Kiba, I would need you two to suppress your energy. I would like to have as little interference as possible for this to work."

"Then what about me?" Ise pointed to himself.

"I need you to do whatever it was that you have been doing to practice your magecraft." I replied while placing particular objects around the circle. "Just do whatever you have been doing so that I can feel the Od inside you and I can use it as my anchor. With me so far?"

He nodded as the other two guys took their positions at his sides to hold him by the shoulders. I took a deep breath before placing my palm on the floor, flooding the circle with Prana and activating the runes, bathing the room in a whitish glow and cancelling out all other residual energies in the room so that I can sense Ise's Prana. Once the energy signature stabilized, I took out one of the Prana Tokens and held it out to him.

"Okay, now you swallow this token." Ise looked at the toffee with a dubious expression before chucking it into his mouth and swallowing it. "Your blood will act as the bridge that would allow me to activate my Prana residing in the seed, making it go around your body until it can find the part where Raynare's residual energy took root, then I will attempt to eliminate it while opening up the channels inside your body. Oh and one thing I need to warn you."

"Let me guess, I will be feeling some momentary discomfort?" Ise let out a tired voice at all the technical talk that went over his head.

"Nope." I looked at him straight in the eye. "You will most definitely feel major agony." Before he could respond to that, I placed my hand on his chest and concentrated on finding the Prana token.

Right there.

"Trace on."

"AARRGGHHH!" Ise let out a pained yell as his body started to spasm wildly, with Saji and Kiba trying their absolute best to hold his arms and prevent him from knocking anything in the circle which was beginning to glow a darker shade of blue. I tightened my hold on him and spread my Prana through his body and activated the Prana Token inside, making it burst from inside and letting the seed take place at the site where his old wound was.

"Hold him steady, you two." I told the two guys to hold Ise tighter. Not an easy feat seeing that Ise was currently trashing about in the chair like a man possessed by a poltergeist. The seed was taking a longer time to get to the point that I wanted, but it was close enough that I could risk it.

"Here we go!" I poured more Prana into his body, mentally taking note the layout of his Prana circuits and deciding the manner in opening them. Then with a minor push, I 'broke' the seed.

"WAAAAAHHHHH!"

Ise let out a guttural scream as his Magic Circuits started to light up beneath his skin, with the ones at his chest being the brightest and trying to reach the ones disconnected at the limbs. Then with a bright flash of light, the circuits flared up all over his body and face before receding back to the center of his chest. After a while, Ise collapsed to the ground with Kiba and Saji supporting his weight.

And now we wait.

=()=

"Is he really okay?" Rias asked for the sixth time as Kiba and Saji moved Ise to the bed. Shirou patiently placed his hand on Ise's chest and closed his eyes again while the weird lines appeared on his hands and spread out on Ise's body. After a while he opened his eyes and nodded.

"He is doing fine, the treatment was a little rough on his body, but at least his circuits are now fully functional. He would need to rest for today in order for his body to get used to them. Best to have some water ready, his body would be burning through fluids pretty quickly to cool down."

"Thank goodness." Rias laid a hand on her bountiful chest as she let out a sigh of relief. "So what should I expect from this?"

"At the very least, he should be experiencing small periods of light-headedness, tiredness and minor dehydration, but he should be able to handle his gear a little more." Shirou looked at Ise for a while with a pondering eye, before continuing. "Your training method would suffice to strengthen his body, so I would have to change whatever I had planned to help him get better for his fighting."

"Will do." Rias let out a thoughtful frown as she alternated her sights on her Pawn and Shirou. "Seriously, where did you learn these techniques? I may not be well-versed in the magical arts as I should, but I am pretty sure that a technique to open these 'Magic Circuits' would be taught at every school to help their students."

Shirou looked at her for a moment before letting out a playful smirk. "That's for me to know, and for you to not find out."

"Oh is that so?" Rias let out a challenging smile in return. "I will make sure to find out where you learn these techniques from and make them mine."

"That goes double for me." Sona added in her bit as she looked at the both of them. "I too have an interest in your magical arts, and I will make sure that you will regret not telling me in the first place."

"Hahaha~" Shirou let out a somewhat forced laugh while slightly edging away from her. "Well then, if nothing else happens, shall I continue the training with Kiba?"

"Huh?" Rias blinked as she looked at him.

"You did ask me to train both Ise and Kiba right?" Shirou motioned to Kiba. "Considering that Ise would be knocked out for a while, I might as well start with Kiba to see what I need to do for him before creating a proper routine for him."

Well then, this would be very interesting.

=()=

Kiba stood with a sword at hand, waiting at one end of the testing grounds that he was to spar with Shirou, his eyes on him stretching and his mind on other matters.

He would not deny it, he had been a bit curious about Shirou for quite a while now. His appearance belied a talent for combat and a shrewd mind for strategies, and his battle style was particularly intriguing. And for the ladies, there was the 'mysterious past' that followed Shiro, considering the amount of effort both Rias-Buchou and Sona-Kaichou took to unearth his whereabouts and came up empty, noting that there no record of him prior to arriving at the hospital a few months back for some serious injuries.

His magic was also something unusual, given that Shirou was able to create blades similar to Sword Birth, but the main differences were the amount of power emanating from such creations, and the fact that Shirou was able to create both holy and demonic blades at a whim. Truthfully, there was also a small part inside Kiba that felt a little lost and somewhat jealous of Shirou, seeing him effortlessly creating and using those holy blades easily as though he was their chosen owner from the start, while Kiba and his friends were constantly experimented on and subsequently put to death for trying to even touch the blade without repercussions. It was a very complex feeling to have.

And perhaps the biggest mystery to him…

Kiba tiled his head slightly to look at the blade he had created for the match. Its name was [Earth Shatter], but contrary to its strong title, it was just a simple sword with a very low power output, designed merely to disrupt the footing of his enemy through small tremors while he remained unaffected by its attack. It was a single edged blade with a light brown handle and no jewels on it, with a thin layer of gold on the backside of the blade.

But Kiba was not bothered by its appearance or lack of firepower, rather he was more interested in the reaction towards Shirou.

Ever since that small incident at the Student Council Room, Kiba had been monitoring Sword Birth's behaviour towards Shirou, and he was honestly baffled by the various manners around him. Every time they meet up to hunt down Stray Devils, Sword Birth always reacted like a child excited to meet his dad after a long time. Then the few times Kiba tried to go against Shirou for being a little too confrontational with Rias over certain matters, Sword Birth would retaliate by hurting him in different ways.

Heck, that one time Kiba had a lightning blade out, the sword actually electrocuted him and knocked him out for two whole hours.

There were also the other hunts where Kiba felt that Sword Birth was exerting more power than he normally planned out as though it wanted to show off to Shirou that it could also handle monsters its own way, like a child wanting to impress his father.

Kiba took one last feel of the blade as he watched Shirou finishing up his warmup. There, it was faint but he could sense it. The blade was reacting to Shirou again, this time feeling that it wanted to prove that it can be worthy for something. What it was, he can't tell, but it did trouble him a little.

"Okay, thank you for waiting." Shirou's voice drew Kiba's attention back to him who had just finished his stretches and was now in a very questionable stance with those two scimitars that seemed like works from China, given the black and white theme of balance. Kiba narrowed his eyes at the amount of openings from that stance. There was something very wrong with that position, it was as if he was begging for someone to attack him at those points. And yet…

Why did Kiba feel that going for those obvious openings would mean certain death for him?

He shook his head to get rid of unnecessary thoughts and readied his stance. No, it must be a part of Shirou's strategy; Kiba had seen Shirou's fighting up close and concluded that he had an extremely unorthodox style of fighting, with the use of unusual magic that replicates weapons easily. He would need to be careful in dealing with Shirou, even if it was just a spar.

Time to test the grounds first.

He stabbed the ground hard with [Earth Shatter], quickly using that window of opportunity to run straight at Shirou who stumbled slightly at the tremors and swing a brand new blade at one of the openings, only to have deflected just inches from his skin by his left scimitar.

'No surprise there.' Kiba sped up and tried another opening at his side, only to be blocked again by the blade on his right. Clearly that attack did little to disrupt Shirou's footing, if anything it seemed to have aided him more. He even used the weird position he was in to his advantage by spinning on his heel, lightly nicking Kiba on the cheek before planting his feet firmly on the ground.

'Interesting.' Kiba quickly made his way back to his initial position and pulled out [Earth Shatter], adopting a sword stance similar to Shirou's and slowly moved around to keep him in his sights. He had some doubts about it, but it seemed Shirou was using a somewhat suicidal style of fighting to handle his opponents by giving them fake openings for them to exploit and using that to take them out. It was illogical. It was totally insane.

And yet it worked well for him.

Kiba leapt forward again, this time using his speed to circle around Shirou a few times before aiming for the neck, and just like last time, got his blade deflected just inches away and nearly getting one himself right in the eye. He threw back his back and used the momentum to get away from Shirou, landing a few feet near the trees.

Honestly, he was having harder time than he had anticipated; he did not think that Shirou's fighting style could be so effective, it was somewhat damaging to his pride.

And yet…

Kiba could not help but have a roughish smile adorning his face as he rushed forward to attack Shirou again, exchanging strikes and blades thrusts while barely dodging each other's attacks. This was oddly exhilarating, not even the other times he fought with other swordsmen would make his blood and swords sing so loudly!

"Clank!"

"Clank!"

"Clank!" "Clank!"

"Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!" "Clank!"

=()=

Well, this was a pretty good workout.

I noted with slight approval as I blocked Kiba's blade from cutting my neck. I was already told about the Knight Piece and the powers granted to the chosen person, not to mention seeing it in action during my hunts with the Devils, but experiencing it myself let me have a better understanding of it.

Kiba wasn't too shabby himself, using the sword called [Earth Shatter] to create mini earthquakes to disrupt my balance and moving in to attack my blind spots, and he recovered quickly to avoid my attacks, using another sword called [Sonic Flash] to avoid my movements and perform hit-and-run tactics. In addition to that, his two sword style was actually a lot better than mine in terms of power and speed.

With all that said and done, it was a bit of a shame to have to label him as average.

Kiba was being too reliant on his speed to deliver any quick attacks that would be a little weak to finish off anyone with one hit. Also he was a little direct with his intentions to target certain parts of my body even if he tried to use a feint to confuse me. His preference for attacking from the front seemed to be more related to his ideal of a knight, always facing the opponent upfront and never attacking from the back. Nice concept, but terrible for an actual fight.

But perhaps the biggest offender of his fighting style would have to be his usage of his Sacred Gear, Sword Birth. Rather, his under-usage of Sword Birth.

Based on Sona's explanation and what I have seen, Sword Birth was basically a simplified version of my Reality Marble, one that could create any type of demonic blades based on the user's will and imagination. In many ways, both of his gear and Unlimited Blade Works have corresponding strengths and weaknesses that complement each other. While my ability allowed me to copy and project almost every single blade, spear and shield in existence, Sword Birth had the advantage of producing any type of sword imaginable with the added bonus of low Prana costs, with the disadvantage of having a seemingly lower output.

If in the hands of a more capable person, Sword Birth could potentially be stronger and more versatile than Unlimited Blade Works. Heck, if managed properly, it could even take on Gate of Babylon for the first few minutes before Gilgamesh would think of taking on the user seriously.

Well at the least I was able to grasp something about the gear, but something was eluding me. Although I could reproduce the blades he created, something still felt off about them, as though their core was missing. My best guess was the individual blades were merely extensions of the real gear itself, so they would not possess much within. Still it was a little irritating to me, because aside from Gilgamesh's Ea, all the other blades I have glimpsed have been copied perfectly into Unlimited Blade Works, and in an odd sense, my pride demanded that I add Kiba's blades properly into the collection.

Well, since sight doesn't work, I would have to go for the physical approach.

I used a little extra force to force Kiba back, making him stumble and giving me the chance to close in quickly to parry his swords out of his hands and kicking him in the stomach to get more distance between us, before throwing Kanshou and Bakuya at him. Without missing a beat, I raised my arms up in time to grab his swords neatly in my hands and…

"Ba~ Bump!"

Again, that odd feeling of something stirring inside me, only this time it was a lot louder and harder, as if the creature inside was actively trying to wake up. At the corner of my mind, I noted the two swords seemed to have gotten heavier, more 'solid' if one were to describe the feeling. I ignored the feeling and focused my attention on Kiba, who managed to sidestep both of my thrown blades, letting them get embedded into the trees behind him while he created another sword in his hand. I immediately dashed forward and swung [Sonic Flash] right at him, just as he raised his blade to block it and…

"CLANG!"

"CRACK~ BOOM!"

A crater appeared at our feet as Kiba got thrown back by the shock wave resulting from our blades hitting each other. For a moment I stood there like an idiot while looking at the damage made, before turning to look at [Sonic Flash]. Okay~ maybe there was a lot more power than I had anticipated regarding this blade. From what I had glimpsed, it seemed to be a blade that concentrated more for quick slashes and small burst of speed, none of which suggested the ability to create sonic booms!

For that minor distraction, I nearly paid dearly for it, as Kiba quickly got back on his feet and started to go on the offensive, nimbly attacking both my neck and heart at the same time and not letting up on the aggression, and for the first time of our spar, was pushing me back a few feet. I was keeping a tight hold on my abilities to avoid overpowering him, but looks like I had to get a bit more serious.

I quickly scrawled a rune on the ground to agitate the soil and make him lose his footing temporarily, before making my way to the trees, when for some reason, [Sonic Flash] started to glow brightly and within a blink of an eye, I found myself within an inch of slamming my face into the tree in front of me. I rammed my foot hard and stopped in time to avoid crashing into it and turned around, frowning at the newly acquired blade in my hand.

This was really weird, I should have been able to detect these abilities from the get-go, yet there was nothing that suggested such abilities from such a weak blade. Furthermore, this odd feeling I have been getting this whole time, as though the blades were alive for the first time since I laid eyes on them.

No time to think about it, Kiba was getting back up, I better end this spar so that I can return these blades back. I rushed back at him and started to parry with the blade, managing to nick at the sides in between our attacks, then with a great swing, I aimed [Earth Shatter] at the side, meaning to scare him into a corner if not disrupt his footing. Kiba quickly dodged to the side, leaving the blade to hit the ground and…

"BBBBBOOOOOMMMM!"

… Leaving behind a huge crack in the ground that split the forest behind him and seemingly the small hill in the distance?!

"What~ wait a minute?! You mean to tell me you have been using this weapon against me earlier?!" I turned to Kiba who was openly gawking at the destruction behind him. "Doesn't that mean you were trying to kill everyone in the area if you used this at full power?"

"… That is not how it works." Kiba blinked and replied back in shock. "That is definitely not the power that is inside [Earth Shatter], I know because I made it. It should not be able to do that!"

"Well, if that is the case, think you better take them back." I lightly stabbed the swords into the ground while silently giving my prayers that they don't activate, before stepping back to let Kiba take back his ownership. It was only a few seconds later I realised that something was wrong given that Kiba was frowning at the blades, before he moved forward to grab them by the handles.

"AAAHHH!"

Kiba suddenly gave a yell as he jumped back and looked at his hands which were burnt red from grabbing the blades. My worries later got turned to suspicions as the two blades started to give off a faint glow of red light, with a light pulse of energy coming from them.

"Ba~ Bump! Ba~ Bump!"

The feeling inside me was getting more intense, as though the thing inside me was now trying to be free, and unless I was mistaken, it seemed that Kiba's swords were reacting in sync as the blades started to glow and shake in time. Then without warning, the blades dislodged themselves from the ground and flew straight at me with the blades aimed at my head. By the smallest of margin, I twisted my body to avoid the tips and grabbed the handles as they flew past me. Immediately they stopped glowing and moving, allowing me to slowly raise them to my eye level, before I turned to look at Kiba and the others who were watching our spar. Their expressions were all I need to accurately summarize with these words.

"Okay~ this is awkward."

=()=

"Thank you for the meal!" A loud shout was the only indication before everyone started to eat the food in front of them, with Ise and Koneko seemingly forgoing all table manners and competed with each other in stuffing as much as food into their mouths.

"Where is Yuuto-kun?" Rias turned to Akeno who was quietly sipping some soup.

"He is currently outside, doing some minor training." Akeno replied as she laid down the spoon. "But I think he is just blowing off some steam after what happened earlier."

Rias could only nod while sighing lightly. Considering how two of Kiba's swords ended up getting attracted to Shirou in some odd manner, it was perhaps understandable that Kiba would feel a little peeved since they rejected him when he tried to grab them. What puzzled her more was why the blades reacted so violently towards the both of them; the swords kept going after Shirou despite his best efforts to keep them in one spot, making him throw in the towel around the evening and just store them in some dimensional pocket that he conjured up.

He was truly a mystery. She would need to double her efforts on finding out who Shirou Emiya really was.

Part 3

"WWWAAAHHHH!"

The scream reverberated in the woods as Ise went about like a prisoner escaping for his life, which was a pretty accurate description considering his current circumstances.

"PWEH! TWACK! CRACK!"

An arrow made of steel narrowly missed his head and hit a tree, causing the trunk to crack and collapse under the weight of its top, barely missing Ise by a foot as it crashed to the ground.

"WAH! Are you trying to kill me, you damn handsome?!"

"Yep."

"Don't say it like it is a walk in a park for you damn it!" Ise yelled in the air as he mentally cursed Shirou with all his might. That caused him dearly as he ran over a wire and triggered a trap that released a heavy log aimed for his body. He dived to the ground in time for the log to miss his head and smashed the other tree in its way.

'Holy Shit! How the heck did he set that trap up before this?!' Ise could only look at the damaged tree in shock before scrambling to his feet and making his way to the appointed spot that would end the game. The sound of a bowstring alerted him in time to summon the gauntlet and knocked away the arrow aimed for his legs, before jumping away from another arrow and crashed through the bushes and land right where he needed to be.

"Okay, you have made it. Practice is over." Shirou's voice echoed in the empty clearing to alert him, making Ise let out a sigh of relief and collapsed on his back while panting heavily. He had spent the earlier part of the morning escaping from Shirou's arrows and traps, and he had to do it on an empty stomach and a bottle of water to hydrate himself.

A soft thud made him lazily turn his head lightly to find Shirou having landed on the ground and made his way towards him. Seriously, he did not know where Shiou learned this training style, but it was a miracle he survived the whole thing.

"Pretty good, you have managed to last out longer than expected, and you made it within the time limit." Shirou nodded lightly after coming to his side. "Better get up now. The lactic acid building up inside would stop you for a few hours, so you need to get moving. And I am so not carrying you back, you need to haul your ass."

"You are a devil!" Ise cursed as he panted on the ground.

"Nope, I'm just human, you're the devil here."

=()=

"Welcome back, you two!" Asia greeted us with a very bright smile on her face as she handed us towels and a bottle of water for refreshment.

"AH! Asia, I am so soothed by your presence!" Ise started weeping while throwing me a disbelieving glare. "This damn guy is relentless in his attacks. Who the hell taught you that style of training, Master Roshi or something?"

"I don't know any Master Roshi, but this is the type of training that one would need if going against someone with a lot more experience in fighting matches." I wiped my brow with the towel and took a sip of water. "If anything, I am actually going very easy on you for this bit, since you are still getting used to your Magic Circuits running inside you, and I can't bring up the level until you are ready."

"If that is the case, then I don't even want to know what will be the next level?!" Ise shivered in fear as he backed away from me.

This was currently the third time I had returned for their training, and so far things were going rather smoothly. Ise was apparently made of sterner stuff than anticipated as he awoke a few hours later from the treatment, allowing him to take part in the training Rias had planned in the beginning, so I ended up starting his training a lot earlier. Based on what I was told and what I had seen first-hand, the treatment was a success; his stamina had improved significantly to the point Rias had to include other forms of physical training for him to handle.

His magical stats also seemed to have improved significantly given the few bits of talk I gathered about his magecraft training with Akeno, though I was a little unsettled by the manner both Rias and Akeno gave their report with the type of expression I had associated with Rin's teasing mood, certainly not helped when I saw Ise do his practice on some fruits.

By the Root, what have I unleashed on the unsuspecting population of females?

All that said and done, he was by far the most untalented person I have seen to date, and I have unfortunately seen many in my lifetime, myself included. Despite the improvements, he was seriously in a bad position where he could not handle going against some of the more dangerous types I had identified from Raiser's group, and that was not counting the blonde dude in. There was only so much training I could give for the time being, but if Ise wanted to defeat that guy, he was going to need way more.

"Welcome back, the both of you." I turned to find Rias and Akeno making their way to our side, subtly noting Ise was suddenly a little more energetic as he looked at her. "So how is his training going along?"

"Quite well, at least he managed to last for one and a half hours straight as compared to the initial 15 minutes from the first trial, and though he barely dodged my traps and attacks, his reflexes are honed."

"That is good I suppose, but I am guessing there are still some issues." Rias let out a light sigh.

"Currently he still needs more work, also I am still going easy on him for his body to get adjusted." I looked around to find someone but can't find that person. "I suppose Kiba is still a little wary around me huh?"

"Sorry about that, though to be fair, you having taken some of his swords may have contributed to his behaviour." Rias shrugged as she replied back. I can't exactly argue on that part; for whatever reason, those damn blades kept following me everywhere to the point I had no choice but to store them in my dimensional pockets so that I don't get caught with swords in the open.

"Well, he will have to deal with it his own way, quickly if possible. Otherwise we won't make any progress on his side" I replied as I took another swing of the water. "I think for now I will focus on getting Ise to have a better handle on his circuits."

"Ah, finally something less lethal to my body." Ise let out a sigh of relief. "Still a lesson in control magic energy, ah! I mean 'Od' by your terms, maybe with better control I can do that. HEHEH!" His expressions as he muttered that out was all the indication I needed to direct a very serious glare at him.

"I may have agreed to train you and help you unlock your circuits, but if you seriously think for one minute that I would let you abuse my teachings with your perverted thought patterns, I would make you the first test subject of some of my more destructive experimental spells." That got him to drop his expressions and gulp nervously at my threat.

"Okay, point taken." He lightly coughed before proceeding. "So what will you teach me besides that unusual meditation method? I hope there is something practical coming up."

"Well glad you are at least motivated." I let out a smirk to show him what I had in mind. "Because I am going to make you beg for mercy by the time this lesson is over." It was utterly satisfying to see him go very pale at my words.

Thank you Rin for all your lessons in smiling.

"Ah that is nice of you, Emiya-san!" Asia beamed very cheerfully, clearly ignorant of the amount of pain I was going to inflict on Ise. "I thank the Almighty for this ~ Ouch!" Suddenly she grabbed her head with both her hands while wincing from whatever pain that hit her.

"Whoa there, are you okay?" I stepped forward to put a hand on her head and checked for any injuries. "I don't see any wounds, did you hit your head against something?"

"Oh yeah, you were not around during one of our lessons." Rias lightly tapped her head as she remembered something. "You see, as Devils we are basically the enemies of God, so in that aspect we cannot give any prayers or praise to God without some type of feedback." Rias let out a resigned smile at a disappointed Asia. "Technically speaking, we all get some form of pain whenever we hear someone giving a prayer or having a Holy Object, but if the one doing the prayers and blessings is a Devil, the pain would be the most severe."

"Well, guess that sucks big time for her." I turned to Asia who suddenly put on an expression that made me think of a little cat about to get serious with a toy mouse.

"PPPIII! I am not giving up, I want to continue praying!" With that, Asia got on to her knees and started reciting every name associated with God. "Oh Dear God~ Ouch! The Almighty~ Ouch! My Father of OUCH! My Deliverer OWIEE!"

"Ah dear child, I think you better stop doing that before you get hurt too much!" I tried to gently restrain her from hurting herself. I was feeling a little guilty at seeing her reactions to the pain as something rather cute, not to mention a little concerned that she might get brain damage from her constant attempts to pray. But Asia would not have any of that, and ploughed on her way.

"My Faithful Creator Ouch! My God of Fathers Owiee~ AAAAHHH! MY LORD, PLEASE GRANT MY PRAYER!" She let out a slightly frustrated yell before pausing to realize something. "Eh~ My Lord?"

"No way~" I turned to Rias and the others who were looking at her in shock while I continued massaging Asia's head. I was not sure what was going on, but given the manner Asia seemed to stop having pains, I am guessing her stubbornness paid off.

"Oh My Lord, I thank you for the great fortune that you have bestowed on us for having Emiya-san help out in our training!" Asia gave a quick prayer and waited tentatively to check for any feedback, then spread her arms out in joy. "YA~ I can pray to my lord now!"

"T~ that is impossible." Rias muttered softly. "How can she be fine?"

"Errr…" Ise looked at Asia and Rias, before looking up with a thoughtful expression. "Erm, My Lord~ OWW!" Ise let out a yell as he grasped his head. "Okay that hurt."

"How did that happen?" Akeno turned to me with a raised eyebrow. I merely shrugged my shoulders.

Good for Asia to be able to pray again, but this was so not my problem.

=()=

"What do you think?" Sona asked while passing me a bunch of papers.

"What do I think of what exactly?" I replied back with another question while folding the papers and placing them into envelopes. I came back to the school after my training lessons with Ise to hand my homework to the teachers before coming to the Student Council to help out a little. Honestly being a student again put a damper on my lifestyle as I needed to keep up my quota of being in this school to avoid trouble.

"Their chances of winning." Sona turned to me and folded her arms. "Do you think they are ready for their match with Raiser?"

"Quite honestly, they can handle themselves with the Pawns and maybe the Rook, given the videos I have seen of their matches." I said as I leaned back on the chair I was on and gave thought to the current predicament. "The Queen could be a totally big wall to overcome, but if they keep their cool, they might handle her well."

"I detect a 'but' coming along." Momo throw in her two cents as she and the rest paused in their work and listened in on the conversation.

"As it is, they have several major hurdles they need to deal with." I put up my hand and started to list the points. "Firstly, despite Raiser being the King of his Peerage, he doesn't necessarily lead them in their fights, rather that girl with the drill hair is the one doing so, and she has a very good head for tactics and warfare based on the manner she directs the members into their fights. She is the type who would analyze the opponent, read their behaviours, and find out their weakness, before completely crushing them."

Yup, I was really familiar with those types, after all my ass got handed to me by those guys more times than I could count, and it was those types that found out about my Reality Marble in the first place.

"The second reason stems from the abilities of Raiser himself. It is not so much of true resurrection as the actual bird, rather it seems to be mostly high-speed regeneration." I paused as I considered what I have seen from the videos. "Typical regeneration could still be dealt with since they are still attached to the physical body, but given his ability of flames, that means he does not need to worry much about anyone trying to attack him during his regeneration as he can stay incorporeal for quite a while, thus allowing himself a more roughish style of combat."

"That is true. I have been studying their fighting styles for a while, and one thing I can say is that alone they are formidable if not a bit open with their superiority." Sona nodded her slowly as she recalled her side of information. "But once they start working together, each other's strengths covers the other's weaknesses, making their defences airtight and their teamwork more solid."

"Mostly." I countered with my own thoughts. "Based on what I have seen, Raiser tends to be a little rasher and more flamboyant in his actions, while the girl seems to lack actual combat skills considering how she tends to have one or two of the members around her. Still, there is the issue of numbers; Raiser has the full set if I am remembering your Peerage System correctly, while Rias is still short of a Knight and a Rook, not to mention Ise being her only Pawn, Asia being a non-combatant medic and there seems to be a missing Bishop."

"That would be the third weakness Rias has, lack of numbers?" Sona asked to clarify the issue. "Regarding the other Bishop, he would not be able to attend the Rating Game because of his power's instability, he can't control it well enough to be of use."

"That would be a problem for fighting I suppose." I frowned at that information. "So effectively, Rias only has Kiba, Akeno and Koneko as the main fighters. It would be a hard match for them."

"You have been giving a lot of thought to this." Tsubaki remarked as they digest the information I had pointed out. I merely shrugged as a reply.

"So in my opinion, they would have quite a hurdle to take on."

"So how would you take on such individuals?" Sona asked, now fully giving me her attention as she considered all the information in her head.

"For that, I shall answer by asking you a question." I sat up straighter and looked her in the eye. "Supposedly you are going against someone like Raiser, and you happen to have a member who has a Longinus. It does not have to be Boosted Gear for this scenario. You too end up having ten days to train yourselves for the match. So what would be your strategy?"

Sona folded her arms and looked down for a moment to ponder, before giving me a reply. "I would first try to increase the user's compatibility of the Longinus for better control like Rias is doing. Then for the match, I would probably use the others to take out the others while retaining the Longinus for Raiser to ensure that it would be at its full power to take him out. I would also try to retain a couple of others as support in the event Raiser proves harder to take down. If by some odd chance that does not work, I would use my available members to try and wear him out before using the Longinus again to take him off the game."

I nodded lightly as I listened to her short reply. "That is a pretty decent plan, but there lies the problem." I paused to glance at everyone who had a confused look on their faces. "You are making the same mistake as Rias in depending on the Longinus to take Raiser out."

"! ~ Is that so?" Sona recovered quickly from my reply and focused on what I was telling her, no doubt trying to see the flaw in her plans and at the same time prepare herself to fight Raiser if such a thing happened.

"As with most people, if you are given a weapon that has a sure-kill method of taking down a major opponent, you would always reserve it for that person alone, and more than likely build a strategy solely on that. But when it comes to actual fights, that type of plan would only work 3 out of 20 times." I took 'Tohsaka Pose Number 7" using a pen and paper to illustrate my points. "Those stories you heard about those successfully using such tactics are mostly blemished to showcase the end result and not the problems that come with it."

"For Rias, this tactic could possibly be her downfall, considering her straight forward thinking in fighting and how much she hates Raiser to the core." I wrote those points for them to read. "She is concentrating too much on Raiser's ability to resurrect himself and is pouring all her effort into overcoming such an obstacle. Her other members are making progress in terms of skills, but in the end she may have underestimated the difficulty of having fewer members and battle strength, not to mention she is in essence going against two tacticians in the group."

"So what do I do?"

It was a good thing I had smelled her a while back, so I was able to defend my dignity while watching the others get startled and turned to the doorway to find Rias listening to our conversation. She stride right in and stood in front of me.

"Tell me Shirou, what would be the best method to defeat Raiser?" Rias asked with a slightly stern but formal approach. Clearly she may have been a little insulted that I downplayed her tactics in my explanation.

Which if I may add, was kind of the plan, since I caught her scent earlier and Sona had given me the opportunity to try something for the group.

"Rather than me telling you, why don't I show you instead?" I turned her with a neutral expression. "The next couple of days are the weekends, so there should be no issue if I demonstrate your flaws and hopefully iron them out in time. Gather your Peerage together because tomorrow I will be facing you all in a mock fight."

"What~ you want to take on all of us?" Rias asked with her eyes wide open.

"Yes." I gave that blunt reply. "I will show you what happens if you are going against someone who has been fighting for a very long time. You may have power; that much I will give, but that means nothing if you are focusing on that as your primary form of attack and nothing else."

"Ah Emiya-kun!" Sona stepped forward with both arms stretched at both mine and Rias chests in time to stop an outburst from Rias. "Perhaps you would want to reconsider the idea?"

"No need to."

"Then would you mind if we come along?" Reya threw in her remark as she alternated her gaze nervously between us. "I mean, just in case you might need some assistance."

"Yeah, I could use your assistance actually." I let out a frown as I considered what I was about to say. "Because I think Asia would have her hands full tomorrow and she might need your assistance."

"Emiya-kun, are you saying you will beat us in combat?" Rias let out a very dangerous smile as the Prana leaking out of her intensified. Yup, she was ticked off big time.

"I am just being prepared for both sides." I gave that remark as I got up from my seat. "I myself could use some patching up after the fight, but we will see." With that, I made for the door and exited the room in time to catch their words.

"He's not seriously thinking he can beat us, is he?"

=()=

"No way…" Tsubasa wiped her eyes as though to check if she was seeing correctly.

"Oh my word!" Momo had a hand on her mouth as she looked on with a shocked face.

"You have GOT to be kidding me?" Tsubaki muttered softly while her glasses slide off her nose.

"Holy SHIT!" Saji looked at the scene in front of him with an expression that could only be summed up with the words 'what the fuck just happened?!'

Sona would normally chastise her Pawn for using such language, but in this case she could only agree with a light nod and a dizzy head. This was not your typical sparring session at all.

The training grounds behind Rias's vacation home had been transformed greatly into something resembling a battlefield, with huge cracks in the earth, swords stabbed into the ground, trees broken up into pieces of wood and burn marks from the explosions that occurred.

But the biggest part of her shock came from the sight of the Gremory Peerage completely battered from the fight and strewn about the area like rag dolls, while Asia was going about trying to heal every one of them.

Issei was the least injured as he was knocked out within the first few seconds of the fight, while Koneko got some minor bruising on her body and her clothing got burnt from the earlier explosions. Kiba was by far the worst off of the lot, as one of his arms was nearly split in half down the middle and his legs were broken. A little further away, Rias and Akeno were lying flat on their back with a few bruises on them and completely depleted of energy.

The person responsible for this onslaught was casually sitting down on a rock in a distance, looking at the general surroundings with an analytical eye while absentmindedly cleaning his twin blades with a cloth, with dust on his clothes as the only indication of having taken part in the fight. Around him, five demonic blades that were taken from Kiba hovered closely, as though they were ready to do his bidding.

Sona looked at him in disbelief before turning back to Rias who had a similar expression of shock on her face. Granted, she knew that Shirou was strong, he had experience in fighting and he had a powerful magic on his side, but still?!

Two minutes. It took TWO MINUTES for Shirou to completely obliterate Rias and her Peerage.

How the heck did that happen?!

"Sitri-san." Sona gave a startled shiver before turning to Shirou who was looking at her with an almost resigned expression of boredom. "I think you can understand why this was the outcome, so I would like you to help me with explaining to Rias about it." She could only nod as the others went forward to help Asia with the treatments, with only one thought in her mind.

'Shirou Emiya, what in the name of the Maou are you?'

=()=

Well that was a little excessive, but it should get the point home.

I was now in the living room seated on one end of the table with the Sitri Peerage on my left and Gremory Peerage on my right. Judging from the somewhat nervous looks from Sitri's side and the half-glares from the Gremory's, it was safe to say I was being judged as scary and ruthless. Especially Kiba, who was looking at me with a fair amount of animosity, likely due to the amount of injuries I had given him and certainly not helped by the fact the swords I had grabbed from him earlier responded the same manner as their earlier counterparts and were now following me like faithful dogs. Even now, they were behind me, occasionally hovering closer before going back to their original positions.

Joy.

Oddly enough, Saji was looking at me with a bit of awe, while Akeno was looking at me with an expression that was making me feel like a slab of priced meat, not helped by the scent of leather being at its all-time high.

Not sure what the smell meant, but I think I could guess her personality based on the few times she fought.

"Shirou Emiya, please explain why did you attack us in such a manner?" Rias asked while clearly trying to restrain the frustration in her voice.

"Mostly to teach you something that you can't learn elsewhere." I replied back evenly as I looked straight in the eye. "So, what did you think of the fight, the both of you?" I asked to both Rias and Sona.

"… We were completely outmatched by you." Rias muttered softly in a reluctant tone while Sona nodded lightly to show her agreement.

"And I think you understand why, don't you?" I asked again with the same tone.

"Brutal tactics, a clear understanding of their fighting abilities, minimum waste in movements and…" Sona hesitated in adding the final part of her thoughts, only to be interjected by Koneko.

"A weapon." She looked at me with that blank face. "You become a weapon without emotions."

Well, that was putting it lightly.

"Here's the thing, you guys are technically a lot stronger and more durable than me. Even Ise here could beat me one on one if given the opportunity to do so." I motioned with my thumb. "So why do you think you guys lost?"

"Because you are more used to fighting?" Saji offered his opinion.

"What gives you that idea? I could easily be lucky."

"Yeah right! Lucky is what you call someone if they can throw in a few light punches without intending to. You are someone who basically wipe the floor with them and still have time for taking out the trash!" Saji pointed at the Gremory Peerage. "How else were you able to take them all out within two minutes?"

"A little excessive, but I agree with his description." Sona adjusted her glasses again as she looked at me. "I had suspected this for some time, but you tend to hold back a lot in your previous hunts. Even that time with the Fallen Angels, I got the feeling you were purposely restricting your strengths."

Well, give little miss president a gold star for attention.

"Fine. Saji is right on that point, I have been fighting a very long time, so I tend to limit myself a little to ensure that I don't use unnecessary force to fight others." I motioned to Rias. "Why don't you tell me where you went wrong? Sitri-san can put in her opinion as well."

Both sides looked at each other for a moment, then with a light nod, Rias started to explain from the start, how I took out Ise first with a quick hit to the head, then using a mixture of swordplay and martial arts to incapacitate Koneko, dealing with Kiba in the most brutal manner and finally taking both her and Akeno out with several arrows. Every now and then Sona and her Peerage threw in a comment about the fight and the others would nod in agreement. Rias later finished off with an idea of what to do in such a scenario. After she had told it all, I only reply with a nod.

"Congratulations, you now understand your own weaknesses and your own flaws. At the same time you have a better understanding of your teammates' strengths."

Their expressions were all I needed to see.

"As I have said, you guys are technically stronger than me, but I have fought your types long enough to get a general feel of your abilities, and as I have been by your sides for quite a while, I was able to study each of you and figure out your strengths and weaknesses, doubly so for Ise and Kiba since I am training them. With that in mind, Raiser's sister would probably get double the information and used that to destroy you, and that is not including Raiser himself. If you don't break your methods, you won't win."

"… That may be the case, but don't you think you may have gone too far with the sparring?"

"Would you have listened to me if I told you? Considering your reaction when I commented on your weaknesses in the Student Council Room, you would not take in a word I said. And no offence to you all, but in my experience, creatures who had lived a long time with power tend ignore other weaker creatures by default. They need a rude wake-up call to get them to listen. This was your wake-up call, which I might add, was me taking it easy on you."

"… In a way, that is true." Ise spoke for the first time in the whole conversation. "I have been undergoing his training and I can say that he was holding back on us a lot. That would be roughly 7 percent of his strength he is using."

"!"

Thank you for the assist, Ise.

"Right now, I am only using the bare minimum since I am a human, so what do you think will happen if Raiser decides to go all out on you guys?"

"What would you suggest?" Kiba asked after dropping the death glare and looked at me solemnly.

"At this point, I doubt my words would mean much, but you have to drop your previous plan of relying solely on the Longinus. I already took Ise out easily, so you need to readjust your plans accordingly." I got up and made my way out.

"Wait." My hand stopped short of turning the handle of the door. I turned my head to find Rias standing and with a very painful expression, one I recognized as one having to swallow their huge pride and going with their gut.

"Shirou." Rias hesitated for a moment before bowing her head down very low. "This may be too much to ask of you considering all that you have done so far, but I would like you to train us for the remainder of the training period? I really want use to get stronger to defeat Raiser."

"… Is that really all you want?" I asked her with an even tone. "Nothing beyond that?"

"I… I really want to take over the duties of the Gremory House, and I want to graduate without regrets. I want to become the champion of the Rating Games!" Rias let out those words with a bit of frustration. "I want to do a lot of things, but with Raiser as my opponent, those simple dreams would never come true. I need to win!"

"Please help us!" Ise also begged Shirou and bowed his head deeply. "We really need to beat the Yaktori Bastard in this Rating Game."

"You do realise that you only have roughly six more days to the match? Even if we start immediately, that is a lot of training to cover?"

"Yes we understand. But we still need an edge against Raiser, otherwise we will be toast!" Ise replied while bowing even lower.

"Emiya-kun?" I turned to find Reya standing a little close to me. "I think that they could really use your help. I understand if you still have reservations about us, but I can say for the Gremorys that they are a good group of Devils. It is Devils like Raiser that give us the type of reputation you have heard of. So at least, can you help them get rid of that image?"

I looked at her for a moment as I pondered. Granted, there was more to it than she thinks regarding my dislike for demons or devils in this case. I do know that there were decent ones among the evil creatures back in my old world. Heck, even amongst the Apostles, there were some who were decent enough to work alongside humans, Zelretch and Solomon being the most notable ones, followed shortly by the curry-obsessed Executor and the White Moon Princess.

The issue was for every decent one, I end up fighting roughly ten thousand evil ones hell-bent on trying to conquer a nation, create more zombies, or try to annihilate the entire planet. And right now, I am still within the evil counter. Not to mention I still do not know if I should really help them out.

… Well, guess I will find out if I lived long enough to regret the decision.

"Ha~ fine. I will help you guys."

"Yes!" Ise and Asia cheered as they hugged one another. Well, too bad I had to ruin their little celebration.

"Well then, I hope you lot are ready." I let loose a smile that made everyone in the room go pale and started to move away from me. "Because you are going against an immortal who has fought a few battles before and has more experience and fighting strength, so I will not hold back on your training." I turned to face Rias who looked like she was seriously regretting her decision.

"So then, when do we start?"

Oh, this is going to be fun.

Part 4

It was time.

Ise absentmindedly fiddled with the collar of his shirt for the umpteenth time while pacing back and forth across the room like a madman. No one could blame him for it for that matter, for they too were dealing with their nervousness in their own way; Kiba was lightly tapping his feet while trying to read a book, Akeno was lightly raising a cup of tea that was shaking from her nervous hand, Asia was trying to give some light prayers, even Koneko was eating lesser than normal, claiming she did not have much of an appetite.

Yes, it was that bad.

Rias could only grab her arms tightly as she looked out of the window at the area they would go for their fight. It was decided that their Rating Game would be held in a simulated version of their campus, courtesy of Raiser who said that he would give her as many handicaps as she wanted, it did not matter to him as he was very confident in his victory.

As much as she was loathed to admit, he might have a point. He was considered the favourite to join the big leagues and the only times he lost were due to him intentionally surrendering to show his respect to the opposing team. She had suspected it for a while, but more than likely he was chosen for crushing her will in order to get her compliance.

Well, at the very least, Raiser would not be taking her down without a fight. They had spent a great deal of their time undergoing Shirou's Spartan training and improving their own individual skill-sets. Rias shivered slightly at the memories of her undergoing some of the more 'unique' types of training that Shirou had designed for her. A part of her partially wondered if Shirou had some repressed anger issues to let out.

Her thoughts of getting trashed during her training got interrupted by the door opening and Shirou entering with Grayfia.

"You guys are still nervous about the match?" Shirou looked around and let out a light 'Humph!' "You should be relaxing right now."

"Yeah well, we are not the battle-ready fighter like you." Ise replied as he stopped pacing to face him.

"You guys have read the notes I made for you right? Granted the details may differ based on the flow of the battle, but they should be sufficient to aid you in your fight."

"We have read them and understood the plan, but it is still a little nerve-wrecking for us, since this is our first Rating Game." Rias remarked with a sigh.

"I might have something that can help a little." Shirou held out his hands and closed his eyes for a moment, before several weapons appeared in the air. "I had a quick talk with Shitori-Kaichou and Grayfia-san about the rules of this Rating Game, and from what I understand, anything goes short of killing your opponent and you are each allowed one object of a different type to bring along, so I think these would do for your match."

Rias could only raise an eyebrow at the assortment of weapons that Shirou procured for them. There was a big nail that was attached to a really long chain, a small dagger with a relatively normal leather sheath adorned with a small white gem, a pair of metal gauntlets adorned with runes of an unknown language, and finally a shield of seemingly Norse Origins, with a gold face in the center of it and the hair representing the rays of the sun.

"Here this one is for you." Shirou handed the chained nail to Akeno. "This should be ideal if you are going against the other Queen. If you are using this against Raiser, you probably have a couple of minutes before it melts."

"For you, I will be loaning you the Sunō-Buros Samu." He lightly placed the dagger into Asia's hands. "I am guessing you do not want to fight others, so this one should do the trick. It is more of a protection charm, and I think this will help you a lot later."

"Now for your case, it can never hurt to have more attack power or defense, so these gauntlets should do." He handed them to Koneko who raised an eyebrow at the design. "Don't knock them till you try them, they helped me a few times against some really tough opponents."

"For Rias, since you are the King, that means you would need protection all the time, but considering your numbers, that would not be an option." He paused for a moment while looking at the shield thoughtfully, before giving a light nod and held it out to her. "This should help you against Raiser and his Queen if you are forced to fight them head on."

Rias hesitated a moment before placing her hand on the shield. It was brief, but she could sense a somewhat potent power emanating from it, not to mention the odd sensation that she was being judged by the item itself. Certainly not helped by the shield's design of the face seemingly following her no matter where she tilt the shield.

"Nothing for us?" Ise asked while pointing at himself and Kiba.

"Kiba has Sword Birth to help with the fighting, and you have the equivalent of a nuclear warhead set to overload. I think the both of you don't need my weapons." Shirou paused before adding in a statement with a straight face. "That, and the fact that my weapons are telling me to not loan them to you for fear of being infected by your obsession with breasts."

"HEY!"

"The design is of Norse Origin, isn't it?" Grayfia ignored the commotion going on and voiced out a question while keeping a steady eye on the shield, as though sensing the same feeling as Rias. "I am detecting a fair amount of power originating from it. May I ask where you obtained such an object?"

"I just picked it up on one of my jobs." Shirou shrugged as he replied. "As for what it is, does the name Svalinn mean anything to you?"

"Svalinn, is that not the shield that stops the flames of the sun?!" Rias perked her ears at the familiar name. She had read a few books on Norse mythology and the name was one of the few one would know from the start. "I thought it was just a nursery rhyme?"

"Well no, the shield is real, and you are currently holding a duplicate of the shield." Shirou replied somewhat reluctantly. "It should be more than enough to deal with Raiser's flames and The Queen's explosions."

Rias could only look at him for a moment before turning her attention back to the shield. Honestly, she was hoping to use the training session to get answers regarding Shirou's past and magic, but the more she dug out, the more questions she got in return.

Just who was Shirou?

"Ojou-sama, it is time to leave." Grayfia's voice interrupted her thoughts and reminded her of the occasion. She shook her head a little to clear her head and take a deep breath. She would think about this matter afterwards. For now she had to concentrate on crushing Raiser.

"Ah Ise, a quick word with you!" Shirou motioned to him to come to his side. He then bent down a little to whisper something into Ise's ear, for a moment both of them giving a quick glance at Rias, before whispering a bit more and Ise nodding lightly. "Go get them, kid." Shirou lightly patted Ise's shoulder before leaving the room.

"What did he tell you?" Rias asked Ise after he returned to their side. He paused for a moment before clenching a fist. "A promise between men!"

Hah~ boys.

'Still…' Rias frowned lightly as they made their way to the holding area, thinking about Shirou's plan of attack. It was not like she wanted to doubt his methods, having seen first-hand their effectiveness, but she had to wonder.

'Could it really be that straightforward?'

=()=

'7 minutes?!'

'It took 7 minutes to take down my Peerage?!'

Raiser stood slack-jawed at the situation in front of him, not caring for once how stupid he looked in the face of this development. This was inconceivable, it shouldn't happen at all to him.

And yet it did.

At the start of the game, his three Pawns and one Rook went to the gymnasium as planned to get their point of attack, only to be beaten to the punch by the Knight, Rook and the pathetic excuse of a Pawn. Both Rooks started their own private fight while the Knight and Pawn took on the other three, with the Pawn using some outrageous (and rather reluctantly to him, very enviable) technique to destroy the clothes off them, before the knight knocked them out. Then in a move that shocked him, the knight left behind a few swords and detonated them at once, completely destroying the gym and taking out his members.

His confusion grew bigger as other areas that were thought to be ideal vantage points got destroyed in quick succession, with more of his Peerage taken out. That threw Ravel into a bit of a panic and ended up getting herself forced into a corner by Kiba Yuuto. In their attempts to free her, both Isabella and Karlamine got taken out by the Pawn and the Rook, leaving Yubelluna alone to deal with the remainder of the group.

For a while, she was able to deal with both Rias's Queen and Rook, seemingly taking the little girl out easily and forcing the Queen into a stalemate, but then out of nowhere, she summoned a long chained nail to constrict Yubelluna's body and send large amounts of lightning through it to electrify her body. Then in her attempts to free herself from the chain, she got punched to the next building by the Rook who donned an unusual pair of gauntlets. Then as she was about to use her Phoenix Tears, the Pawn and Kingiht combined their attacks to make a few blades attack her from both the sky and the ground, piercing at both sides and retiring her before the damage got too severe.

It was impossible, how could this group have gotten stronger in a mere 10 days? Especially that worthless Pawn that took out the majority of his Pawns easily with his fists alone; how was it possible?!

No, he could not lose focus. There was still a way to win this game. After all, the objective of this Rating Game was to take out the King, and he was immortal. Plus he had a trick up his sleeves.

With that in mind, he teleported himself to the area he last saw Rias heading to. He smirked inwardly as he appeared right in front of Rias and the new Bishop, exactly where he knew they would be standing.

"Rias my dear, how delightful to see you."

"Raiser!"

"I must say, you are doing a lot better than I have anticipated. But that will not do you much help for much longer." Raiser kept the confidence high in his voice as he subtly took note of her behaviour and the surroundings. If he was correct, she should running on a high of adrenaline and nervousness, and if he timed it just right…

"Ha~ you must be blind to your own defeat." Rias said with a notable sound of forced confidence.

"Oh, is that so? I could also say the same to you Rias." Raiser remarked with a slightly dismissive tone.

"Stop calling me by my name!" Rias's aura flared up as she glared at him angrily. "I did not give you any permission to call my name so freely!"

"My dear, why would I not call you by your name? After all, we are betrothed to one another, so it is only natural to call you by your first name." Raiser let out a smirk at her reaction. 'Almost there.'

"We are not married and I will never marry you at all!" Rias snarled rather bitterly at him, while the Bishop tried to fruitlessly calm her down. Time to push her one last time.

"If you believe it to be so, then how about this?" Raiser raised a hand to her. "You and I, right here and now, fight each other with no interference." He paused before adding one more statement. "Oh, but what am I saying? Even with the Power of Destruction, you won't be able to defeat me. Maybe you do need some help."

At this point, Rias seemed to shake from her toes up with rage, and with a deep breath, yelled loudly. "Fine! I will take your challenge and rub it in your face!"

'I believed the human expression is "Hook, line and sinker".'

"Very well, let us begin!" Raiser stomped his foot down on the ground, creating a ring of fire that surrounded him and the two girls, cutting off their escape. Before they could react, Raiser conjured up a ball of flames and directed it at the blonde nun. "Don't mind me my dear, but a support type healer like you would be too dangerous for this fight. I will have you retire right here and now."

"BOOOM!"

"ASIA!" Rias screamed as Raiser let loose his flames and completely set Asia's spot ablaze. Raiser was not stupid; if he let the girl stay at her side, Rias might continue fighting. Best to get rid of the asset quickly.

Rias needn't worry though, after all the Bishop was rather cute, he made sure to lightly injure her so as not to ruin her visage. It would be a shame to ruin such beauty, especially what he had planned for her.

Whatever thoughts he had got put to a halt when a pale light shone from the area where the nun was. The flames started to thin out and die off, revealing the nun to be covered in pearly white barrier. Hovering in front of her, a small dagger with a white gem glowed brightly with Japanese characters appearing on the blade.

'What, how did she survive that?!'

"Asia, are you okay?!" Rias scrambled to Asia and checked on her.

"I am fine." Asia stammered lightly as she took a deep breath to steady her nerves. "At least I was protected by this barrier."

"Freeze his flames, my blades!"

The golden ring of flames seemed to be converted immediately into golden chunks of ice before Raiser's eyes, then with a large cracking sound, shattered into smaller pieces of ice, revealing Kiba holding a pair of swords of unusual design.

"Yuuto-kun, how?" Rias blinked as she looked at him confusedly.

"Buchou! We have come to save you!" Ise yelled out as he stumbled onto the roof.

"We have arrived." Koneko landed lightly on the rooftop with her usual blank face.

"It seems you have started the fight before us Buchou."Akeno quipped as she came shortly after.

"My flames, how did you?!" Raiser rounded onto Kiba who merely smiled in reply.

"Let us put it as me getting some very innovative ideas from a certain someone." Kiba twirled his swords by the handle before dismissing them.

"But how did you get past Ravel?!" Raiser almost yelled as he felt a sudden fear for her safety. She may have a good mind for tactics and strategic planning, but her powers were at most slightly above average, and she could get a little impulsive at times. She wouldn't be taken out that easily, but she could get over her head in her attempts to win. And she was trying to get out of the deadlock with the Knight and the Rook.

Did they hurt her badly?

"Oh you mean your sister?" Ise pointed his thumb to the courtyard where Raiser could see her trying to get out of a weird barrier with swords marking the area. "She is currently in detention for misbehaving."

'Thank goodness.'

Raiser sighed inwardly with a great deal of relief. At least his sister was safe. Now he would pick up the pace for this fight.

"It seems that your group has made quite a fair bit of progress, Rias." Raiser stated as he kept an eye on all of them.

"Surprised? We went through a lot of crap just so we can fight you evenly." Rias said as she helped Asia up to her feet.

"It must be a High-Class Devil to have taught you all to such a level within this ten days."

"Actually no." Rias's reply knocked that idea out of the park. "It was Emiya-kun who trained us." The name took a while to register in his head, but when it finally did, the wind got knocked out of Raiser's ego.

"Emiya, as in the human servant?!" Raiser's tone carried a huge amount of disbelief. "A mere human wizard trained you to this level of beating my Peerage? My dear, I did not know you jest."

"Nope, he is not my servant and we are not joking about him training us." Rias replied as her body started to shiver from remembering her painful days. "Honestly, I do not know whether calling him human is the right thing. That type of training was insane."

"No kidding, I nearly died ten times on that training camp!" Ise shuddered while holding his arms.

"At least your body was left intact, he keeps on trying to cut my limbs clean off." Kiba's mouth twitched in a rare case of annoyance.

"… Broken ribs and ruptured organs." Koneko had her head down as she replied.

"Ara~ Ara~ Emiya-kun has some very unusual training methods to say the least, it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy." Akeno remarked with a very scary smile that sent shudders down Raiser's spine. To make this entire group this strong in such a short time, and to make the rumored masochistic Queen of the Gremory be this cheerful, what type of training did the human put them through?

"As discussed, let's put that plan into action!" Ise, Kiba, Akeno and Koneko split up and surround Raiser at four areas. "Go for it!"

"EI!" Koneko slammed her fists into the ground and tore up a hug part of the concrete to throw at Raiser who merely deflected it with a fireball, only to get slashed by Kiba who used the distraction to cut his arms.

"Damn You!" Raiser slammed his fist into Kiba's body and setting him on fire, but his moment of triumph got stumped when Kiba's body cracked and shattered like glass.

"Over here." A diagonal cut at the back forced Raiser to turn and see a group of Kibas surrounding him with blades of different types in their hands. As one, they rushed forward and performed hit-and-run tactics to strike Raiser at various areas of his body. As Raiser tried to regenerate from his wounds, he found himself wrapped in chains and his right shoulder impaled by a steel nail.

"Fufufu~ I have been looking forward to this." Akeno let out a very gleeful giggle as she summoned a thunderstorm and directed its fury right at Raiser.

"GGAAAAHHH!" Raiser yelled out in agony as deadly amounts of electricity coursed through his veins and disrupting his concentration to regenerate his body properly. He was only given a brief reprieve from the lightning before he got the breath knocked out of him by Ise punching him in the stomach.

"Yeah you like that!" Ise went into a boxing position and started hammering away at Raiser. The immortal devil snarled and lashed out with a fiery arm, only to be blocked by the Rook who held up her arms to withstand the blow. To Raiser's bafflement, she did not get knocked down or blown away from his attack, rather she stood fast and secured, with the gauntlets seemingly glowing with symbols all over it.

"Get smashed!" Koneko merely raised her right arm and thrust a palm at Raiser's chest. A momentary flash of light from her gauntlets, and Raiser found himself hurtling backwards off the roof and mid-flight above the running track. As he attempted to catch his breath, the chains around him grew taut and he jerked violently before being pulled upwards.

"Ara~ Ara~ you cannot leave yet." Akeno yanked the chain harder to lift Raiser into the air before turning her head to the rooftop. "Now!"

"Heave ho!" Both Ise and Koneko grabbed the end of the chain and pulled hard to bring Raiser crashing down to the rooftop, followed shortly by another lighting attack by Akeno.

"Rias now!"

"Eat this!" Rias summoned a big ball of dark matter and directed it to the crater, detonating it on impact and swallowing everything around the area. After a few seconds, the ball dispersed to show broken chunks of wreckage.

"Think we got him?" Ise asked as he leaned closer.

He got his reply by having a piece of rooftop thrown in his direction and Raiser emerging with a very furious expression on his face.

"Damn you swines!" Raiser glared at them with a great deal of venom in his voice. He was certainly looking a little worse for wear, with his clothes no longer looking spotless and his chest was sporting big bruises from the hits. He was also panting a little hard, and his wounds seemed to be taking a while to heal. Unfortunately that was not a good thing for them.

"Hit him again!" Ise fired off a dragon shot while Kiba brought out a pair of blades and rushed towards Raiser, with Akeno and Koneko providing support. This next round of attack only served to make Raiser madder than before.

'Enough!' Raiser let out a roar of frustration as he poured a large portion of his energy into his flames and slammed his fist into the ground, sending out a blazing inferno surrounding him and taking out a large part of the opposition. Within a few seconds, the entire rooftop was charred black from the flames, and the metal railings and antennas were reduced to molten objects. As for Rias's Peerage, it seemed he manage to take out the Queen, Knight and Rook. At least he was able to get rid of the main opposing force, now the only ones to deal with were the worthless Pawn, the medic Bishop and Rias.

Now where was she?

"BOOST! BOOST! BOOST! BOOST! BOOST! EXPLOSION!"

Before he could react, a metal gauntlet made contact with Raiser's face and he found himself flying through the air and crashing into the nearest wall, making the already unstable structure crumble and topple on top of him. Cursing deeply, Raiser pushed the debris off his body and turned to find the offender.

"Ouch! That hurt!" Ise panted hard while wincing. "Not as much as Shirou's explosions, but close enough." He straightened his posture and glared at Raiser with a smirk. "How's that from a swine huh?!"

"…" Raiser glared back with a great deal of contempt while taking note of the Pawn's state. At the least, the flames did hurt him a lot; half of his clothes got burned off to a crisp and the remainder got covered in soot. The exposed flesh showed a great deal of first-degree burns, and the damage was bad enough to have his right cheek almost burnt black and blood flowing from the cracked skin. But it was not those that Raiser was interested in.

Rather, he was more puzzled by the glowing lines that were running along his body and face.

"Ise, those lines…" Raiser turned to find Rias hidden behind a golden shield that apparently protected her from the blaze and everything else behind her. She was covered in a bit of soot but otherwise unharmed, and was currently looking at the Pawn with a slightly mystified expression.

"Oh these?" Ise looked at his arms with an expression of recognition. "These are apparently the circuits inside me. Shirou said that if I concentrate hard enough, the 'Od' inside me would get focused and would make them glow. Got to admit, this is pretty cool."

'OD? Circuits?' Raiser frowned inwardly at the unknown words the boy was talking about. Whatever they meant, it was somewhat troubling to him that a mere human wizard would be able to train this pathetic Pawn to withstand his attack.

"I will give you this, you have gotten a little better since the last time we met." Raiser sneered as he gathered his power to heal the damages incurred to him. "But in the end it would be for naught, because you can never hurt…"

"Splat!"

Raiser paused as he looked down to find a pool of blood staining his shoes. Slowly, he raised his hand to his mouth and touched his lips before pulling it back to find the source of the red liquid.

"What was that you said? I can't hear you Mr Yakitori~" Ise smiled at him. It took a while for Raiser to realise that his wounds were taking way longer to heal than earlier, and he was suffering some internal damage. That realization started to make him cough out more blood as the pain shot through his body.

"How is this possible? What did you do, you damn vermin?!" He snarled at Ise who merely lifted his gauntlet and opened up his fist to dangle a cross from his fingers.

"I decided to prepare one little present for you, hope you enjoyed it." Ise replied back cheerfully as he lightly swung the cross.

Raiser stared at the boy in disbelief as he wiped the blood off his mouth. It was insanity for a devil to come close to any symbol of Christianity, let alone a low-level Reincarnated Devil holding onto one of the main symbol of God. Yet he was not experiencing any pain but that was…

"Wait, but the only way for you to be able to hold it without getting any feedback would be…" Raiser snapped his head to the arm that was glowing slightly. "By the Maou, did you sacrifice your own arm to the dragon?!"

"A small price to pay, and I did have to ask Shirou about it." Ise clenched his fists tightly as he glared back at him. "But quite honestly, I don't mind doing it again if it means to beat your ass ten different ways to make you pay for trying to get Buchou! And on that note!" He raised his arm in the air and bellowed out words that no one expected. "Let's do this, Draig! Grant me your strength!"

[WELSH DRAGON OVERBOOSTER!]

[BALANCE BREAKER!]

Raiser clamped his eyes shut as the jewels on the gauntlet glowed brightly and bathed the entire area in red light. After a few seconds he opened his eyes to find Ise clad in red draconian armor decorated with gems all over. "So, what do you think?" The eyes on the helmet glowed as Ise asked.

"Impossible! You have achieved Balance Breaker within a short period of time?!" Raiser glared with a hint of disbelief. "There is no way you can achieve such a thing, you are a mere worm!"

"True, I am weak. I do not have Akeno's talent for the magical demon arts, the crazy strength of Koneko, the sword talent of Kiba or the healing ability like Asia. And I know there is no way I can match Shirou's fighting style or his insane planning. But I can however aimed to be the strongest Pawn for Buchou!" Ise directed his fist at Raiser. "So let's do this."

Before Raiser could speak back, Ise activated the boosters on his back and charged forward, laying a straight right into his gut, followed shortly by an uppercut to the face. With another boost, Ise flew past Raiser and punched downwards, sending him crashing to the floor and leaving him embedded in a crater. Then with another boost and using the weight of the armour, Ise delivered another fists into Raiser's body and pushed through the roof, continuing all the way through the concrete floors and to the first level.

"Damn you vermin!" Raiser seethed with rage and sent a fireball at Ise, engulfing him in bright flames. But no sooner did Raiser stand up smirking, the flames got canceled out by Ise who merely swung his arm to the side.

"You think this will hurt me? Shirou's flame swords are way hotter than yours!" With that, Ise leaped forward and delivered a straight left to Raiser's face.

"GAGH!" Raiser yelled in pain as he tried to displace his body to reduce the damage. That was proving harder than expected as each time he tried to do so, Ise rushed in to lay another punch or kick to his body. Each hit felt like a beast just rammed itself into him.

"Go Ise-san!" Asia cheered as she finally made her way down the building.

"Kick his butt!" Rias added in her bit. Ise did not seemed to hear her and just continued on with his assaults.

"This is for Kiba!" Ise elbowed Raiser in the gut.

"This is for Koneko!" A kick to the face.

"This is for Akeno-san!" A punch to the leg.

"This is for trying to hurt Asia!" A double-fisted attack to the ears made Raiser see double and stumble badly.

"And this is for making fun of Buchou's dream, you damn Yakitori!" Ise powered up his boosters again and slammed himself into Raiser, delivering both of his fists into Raiser's face and chest and making him cough up more blood.

"And before I forget, this is for trying to even think of marrying Buchou. Her virginity is mine!"

"What was that?!" Raiser had enough of the constant bashing and stopped Ise's fists this time round. "That virginity is mine to bear, you damn swine!"

"Why the hell would you want hers? You have a god-damn harem to make out with for crying out loud!" Ise kicked high to hit him in the face.

"That is that! This is this!" Raiser head-butted Ise despite the armor and sent him stumbling backwards. "I am entitled to have her!"

"AHH! I can't stand this Yakitori Bastard trying to get Buchou! I am so saving Buchou's virginity away from you!"

"I can't get married anymore!" Rias covered her face and squatted down in a fetal position, clearly embarrassed at the type of banter going between the two guys. The two of them don't seem to notice their nature of the conversation and just continue bashing each other.

"Have another taste of my fists!" Ise activated his thrusters again and raised his arm to deliver another blow when…

[TIME OUT!]

His armor glowed brightly before disappearing in a cloud of red sparkles, leaving him stumbling on the pavement and completely vulnerable.

"AH COME ON! Not now Draig!" Ise yelled in frustration as he looked at his gauntlet. That momentary distraction was all Raiser needed to get back to his feet and slammed both his fists into Ise's stomach, causing him to double over in pain. With a quick motion he grabbed his neck and lifted him off the ground before slamming him back done, making a small crater in the ground. A quick burst of power send flames erupting from the crater and the surrounding area.

"AHHHHHHH!" Ise yelled in pain as he struggled to free himself from the arm and get away from the flames, but Raiser had other plans. Using the flames at his feet as propulsion, he flew upwards in the end before launching himself towards the ground and slamming Ise into the ground, materializing himself from the wreckage and quickly grabbing Ise again in mid-flight and slamming him against a broken slab of wall.

"I will commend you for your tenacity and strength. Given your tight schedule, you have made great progress." Raiser panted with a triumphant smile. "For a mere worm, you can be quite tenacious. I would see to it that you can achieve your full strength after I get married to Rias. For now I will put you to sleep so that we won't be interrupted."

"…" Ise tried to open his mouth only to gasp loudly. "Oh you want to say something? Very well then." Raiser loosened his grip on Ise's neck. "Guess I can let you speak your final words. So what do you want to say?"

"Yeah, just one thing." Ise took in a deep breath as he looked at him. "Have a drink on me!" Before Raiser could react, ISe raised his left arm and poured some water from a small bottle. "Gift!"

[TRANSFER!]

"GAHHH!"

Raiser screamed in agony as the water hit his face and the sensation of his face melting became instantaneous and excruciating. He released his grip on Ise and fruitlessly tried to wipe the water from his face to ease the pain. That was a terrible mistake in two manners. Firstly, the act of wiping made the melting sensation worse by moving the water across his skin.

The second involved him getting distracted and having his legs stabbed and his body restrained by chains.

"RARR! What is this?!" Raiser struggled to free himself from the chains the bind him and the swords that pinned him to the ground.

"Finally made it." Kiba muttered as he limped slowly to where Ise was dropped to the ground, followed shortly after by Akeno being supported by a bruised and battered Koneko.

"Took you long enough, what kept you?" Ise grunted as he turned his head tiredly.

"Well we were injured quite seriously, so we needed some time to heal ourselves enough to move this much. And quite frankly, you destroying the staircase was not helping our case much." Kiba replied back easily while offering a hand.

"Point taken." Ise grabbed Kiba's hand and heaved himself up while wincing from the pain. "Still the timing was pretty good, did you wait for the moment to strike?"

"I wish I could say yes, but that was purely coincidental." Kiba shrugged while wincing slightly. "Maybe Emiya-san can do it, but not me." He looked at Raiser and his slightly scalded face. "Was that Holy Water you sprayed on him by chance?"

"Yep. I had Asia hand me a bottle before the match, just in case." Ise turned to the other two injured. "How are the both of you?"

"Ara~ I am fine, though I won't be able to continue for much longer." Akeno assured him with a light smile despite the heavy injuries she had sustained. Koneko merely nodded lightly.

"GARGG! Release me this instant!" Raiser yelled furiously with his eyes bloodshot from the holy water.

"Now why would we do that?" Ise coughed out blood and glared. "Considering all the ideas you had for Buchou, I would think that you enjoyed being tied up."

"You Damn Coward! You dare to gang up on me?!" Raiser looked at Ise with venom. "In the end you are just a mere worm who can't do scrap without your teammates picking up your mess!"

"Ah have you forgotten Raiser?" Ise responded with a tired smirk. "This is a team battle." He placed his hands on both Akeo's and Rias's shoulders. "Again I admit, I am weak, but if this gear can help me beat you to such a bloody mess, how about someone who is a lot stronger than me to begin with?"

[TRANSFER!]

Rias's eyes went wide and she nearly gasped in surprise as her body went rigid from the amount of pure power flowing into her. Judging from Akeno's reaction, she too was receiving a huge boost from Ise.

"As much as I loved kicking your ass, Buchou should be the one to deal the final blow." Ise turned to face Rias. "All yours."

Rias stared at him in disbelief, for a moment fearing that this was a dream that would end soon. Then she smiled at him, a fierce, proud grin.

"No problem!" Turning to Akeno while raising her hand, she asked with more confidence than ever. "So then, ready to do this Akeno?"

"Ara Ara~ Naturally my King." Akeno let out another sadistic smile as her arms radiated large arcs of electricity. Rias concentrated all her power into one big ball of mass destruction while flashing a very sadistic smile of her own.

In the face of such overwhelming power in his current state, Raiser could only whimper one word.

"Mommy…"

=()=

"Raiser Phenex retired. Victory to Rias Gremory."

Part 5

"CHEERS!" The sound of metal cans hitting each other filled the room as everyone yelled with loud gusto and laughed happily. I could hear them all the way from the kitchen I was working in, even with the sounds of deep-frying in the background.

It was the day after the Rating Game, and they were really hyperactive after their victory. For a change, Sona called off her usual council meetings and came along with the rest to join them in their celebrations. Thankfully I was expecting a large group to turn up and I had to consider the monstrous appetite of Koneko, so I bought enough to feed a family of sixteen.

Though I still wondered if that would be enough seeing the rate that Koneko was demolishing the tenth plate of fried rice.

"Hey Shirou, come on out and join us!" Ise called out to me while precariously balancing a multi-decked sandwich he made with what he had around him. I stopped the stove and made my way out of the kitchen.

"Finally, you took your time getting out of there!" Ise commented as he started to tackle the sandwich and failing messily.

"Well someone needs to feed your stomachs." I pointed my thumb at Koneko who was making her way through the twelfth plate of fried rice and fifth plate of dumplings. "Doubly so for her."

"Yeah, but for the guy who came up with that training regime and the strategy to deal with Raiser, it is just not right that you are not partying with us." Ise replied as he tried to chomp on a salami sandwich.

"Ise-kun has a point, you should be out here, and I think we got enough food." Akeno paused as she looked at the increasing pile of plates next to Koneko. "At least, I think so."

"Fine, I do need to let the cake rest before serving anyway." I smiled inwardly at both Koneko's and Meguri's ears perking up at the word 'cake'. I think I have them wrapped around my finger now.

"So, hope you guys are partying hard?"

"Oh yes, it is a really big occasion to celebrate." Tsubasa drowned another can of drink in one sitting. "After all, that arrogant prick needed to be put in his place regarding how he thinks about females."

"Ara Ara~ I am very pleased to help deliver the final blow to him." Akeno said that with a smile that I had come to dubbed as "Akeno Smile Number 1", for having the same type as Rin's when she is the mood for rather dangerous teasing or temper issues.

"Yes, it is good that you guys won, but can I clarify one thing?" I turned to Ise with a raised eyebrow. "Did you have to use that spell on those girls? I could think of other ways to not hurt them or distract without having to blow off all their clothes. At the very least, you could just remove the protective spells off them."

"Well, we needed a distraction." Ise stammered lightly while trying to avoid the issue. "And I thought it was a good idea at the time."

"Ise, remember what I said during the training?" I kept my tone even while having a thin smile on me. "It would seem that you will become my crash test dummy sooner than expected." Ise went pale at my implied threat. Tough luck for you.

"But seriously, I want to know something." Rias turned to me with an odd expression. "How did you predict exactly the manner Raiser would deploy his Peerage and react based on them?"

"It's not really that complicated. You should be able to think it yourself." I offhandedly replied as I took a bite of the shrimp casserole I decided to try out for the celebrations.

Hmm~ could use a little more salt.

"I too am curious." Sona asked as she turned to me. "I have known people who can plan ahead of time, and I myself have some ways of strategizing ahead, but you seemed to have predicted the Rating Game all the way to his defeat."

"Nope I am not giving you a free explanation." I went to sample another creation of mine while inwardly enjoying their frustrated expressions of not getting their answers. That enjoyment however got turned to wariness when both of them suddenly smiled in a manner that would make Rin proud.

"Asia." Rias turned to the blonde nun.

Uh oh.

"Ruruko." Sona turned to her female Pawn.

Oh no.

Ruruko and Asia looked at each other, nodded lightly, and in a quick motion, turned to me with clasped hands and the damned puppy-dog eyes.

"PLEASE EMIYA-SAN/SENPAI!"

… Damn you Devils to Hell and back! Wait~ Hell was their home-world. Let me rephrase that.

Damn you Devils to Heaven and back!

"Hmm~ maybe we should do that more often. Give it enough time, he might be forced to join us." Momo teased as she cupped her chin.

"Fine, I will tell you, just STOP with the Puppy Dog Eyes!" I threw my arms up in frustration while the two girls dropped their act and lightly high-fived each other. Damn these devils.

"So, what do you want to know first?" I asked in a slightly grumpy tone.

"How did you know Raiser's reactions and actions to certain tactics we used in the Rating Game?" Rias immediately asked a question that I honestly felt she should be able to guess herself.

"Hah~ Okay. First point to note, this is a man with a lot of pride in him. He has won multiple times and has not attained any damage to his reputation in the process. He is not the type who would go into the frontlines to lead his Peerage, rather he would let that sister of his do the actual coordination on the field. With that in mind, it became necessary to demoralize the sister through unorthodox methods."

"The blowing up of the gym." Sona mentioned while taking a quick sip.

"Since the layout of the match was the entire academy, that meant a few spots for them to take point and secure a route for attack and defence. Now I am not too sure about the format, but given what I was told, I would imagine that both sides are at opposite sides of the academy to ensure no one tries to get an easy vantage point too early in the game right?"

"Correct."

"Well, that just means that you need to grab a couple of vantage points to deal with the enemy. That would be ideal if you had numbers, something which Rias does not have. So on that note, the next best thing to do would be to deny the enemy that vantage point."

"That meant the school yard, the swimming pool…"

"Yup, those other locations that I wrote down on that paper were also ideal areas for them to take control if they wanted to, so Kiba's job was to take them out and forced them into one spot. And if doing so helps to get rid of a large number of the opponent's fight strength, it would deal out a lot of psychological damage to the tactician of the group."

"But wait a minute, how would you know which ones would be ideal spots for attacking someone?" Momo asked curiously.

I replied back with a small smirk. "Just in case I had to fight either you guys or any other creatures in the school. Minimum collateral damage with maximum casualties to the enemy."

"…"

Yup, I think they now got the idea that I was serious.

"Cough! That explains the gym and the other locations, but how did you predict Raiser's Queen going after Koneko and Akeno?" Rias asked in an attempt to continue on.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Queens are the types who tend to go against one another?"

"… I never really thought of that in that manner." Both Rias and Sona looked to each other and their respective Queens thoughtfully. "Now that you mentioned it, it does seem like the Queens would often go after one another in a match. I suppose it would be best to deal with worst possible threat quickly. "

"There's that, and there is also the mentality that each counterpart would want to prove who is the better of the two. It helps for your situation that Raiser's Queen shares the same amount of pride as him. With that in mind, she would probably go after Akeno with the mind-set that she is the better 'Queen' than Akeno. That same mentality would also make her dismiss Kiba, Asia and Ise as secondary targets, with Koneko being a liability to the plans as she is the other heavy hitter of the group." I motioned to both Akeno and Koneko. "Thus it would make sense that she would go after them, but she would probably target Koneko first as she would be easier to handle than Akeno."

"Was that why you gave those gauntlets to her?"

"Based on what I know, that woman has a lot of attack power at her disposal, being able to create explosions at her fingertips." I remarked with a slightly bitter reminder of a certain someone who has a penchant for blowing stuff up whenever she got pissed off. "In order to deal with her, one would need either an exceptional amount of power, or an absurd defense."

"The Gauntlets of Brahmā Kā Caimpiyana should do the trick for both."

"Wait a minute, Brahma as in the one of the Gods of India?" Sona asked in a slightly strained voice. "I never heard of this weapon before. Wait, for that matter, how a weapon related to a God got to your hands?!"

"Lucky me." I merely shrugged back. "It may not be surprising for you not to hear about this weapon; its origins are less known as compared to weapons like Gae Bolg or Hrunting. The only known bits of it were related to a story which spoke of an unnamed hero who served Brahma, thus the name of the weapon. So at least you have the element of surprise."

"It was certainly an eye-opener." Tsubasa muttered as she shook her head. "I didn't think she could punch that hard even with a Rook's strength."

"That's the beauty of the gauntlets. The stories tell of them enhancing known traits of a user's strengths and granting them a huge boost in both offense and defense." I motioned with my hand at Koneko. "That would be the case for a normal fighter, so the result should go double for her."

"More like triple to me." Momo pointed to Asia. "Then what about the dagger that protected Asia? I guess that is something you procured for her as well."

"The Sunō-Buros Samu is a weapon that deals more on protection than hurting someone. Normally it brings out enough power to stop a small explosion point-blank, but I figured Asia would be the perfect wielder for it, since the dagger responds best to one of pure heart." I lightly patted Asia's head. "Who better to get the best effect than a girl who was recently a nun and still innocent inside?"

"Akeno's chain?" Tsubaki asked about her fellow Queen.

"Well for that particular weapon, I can't really say it has much of a legend, nor can I tell you the name of it or its owner, but I can tell you that it used to belong to a strong fighter. A woman of Ancient Greece if you would want to know." I inwardly smile at the manner some of the girls in the room seemingly preened at the thought of a woman able to hold her ground among men in ancient Greece.

Guess Rider could be a good role model, just without the questionable fashion sense or that super-sensual body.

"How about Yuuto's blades? Are they yours too?"

"Nope they are his altogether, I only gave him a few pointers about flame resistance to help out with the fight." I replied back while motioning to Kiba to explain.

"Emiya-san had suggested that I should use the other flame resistant types as a base to create the [Phoenix Eraser]." Kiba created the blade to show everyone. "Granted it is still a work in progress, since I do not know how strong a phoenix flame is, but at least Emiya-san gave me some benchmarks to get a general idea."

"Good thing too." I nodded my approval as I looked at the blade. "It seemed you are going with 'direct conversion of energy' as the basis for this blade. A pretty sound method when dealing with opposite elements."

"Thank you Emiya-san." Kiba lightly lowered his head in appreciation. Well at least he was no longer holding a big grudge over me taking his blades away.

"Emiya-kun, can I see the shield that you loaned to Rias?" Sona asked with a tone of great curiosity. "I am a little mystified about the properties that made up its power."

For a moment, I was thinking of refusing, but since there was hardly any chance of them figuring out my otherworldly origins, I should be safe as long as I keep a close eye on them. With that in mind, I extended my hand and projected the shield for her to examine.

"This is a very unique item." Sona peered at every possible angle, her eyes studying every detail of the shield and occasionally lingering on the runes, as though trying to decipher them.

"Indeed." Momo leaned in for a closer examination, her curiosity as a Bishop having taken over. "This shield seems to be encompassing several layers of defense magic that constantly feed off one another. Unless I'm mistaken, the feedback would strengthen the shield even further." She frowned as she looked at the face of the shield. "But this feeling I am getting, why do I think that the shield is testing us for some reason?"

"Well, you have a good eye there." I gave a light nod. "This fellow is a little fickle about the user who wishes to borrow its power, so it tends to judge everyone that touches it. It would give out an appropriate amount of protection based on how it feels about the user." I pointed to Rias. "In her case, she could only use five percent of its power."

"Wait, five percent?!" Tsubasa turned to me incredulously. "Five percent was enough to take on Raiser's flames?!"

"Svalinn has the power to go against the flames of the sun at its strongest for years on end, so a mere phoenix flame would be weak compared to it. I should know, because this guy saved my butt against another phoenix a few times over." I replied back with a shrug.

"Interesting…" Sona looked at the shield one more time before turning to me. "Emiya-kun, may I borrow this for a while? I would like to study its properties to have a better understanding of its defenses. I might be able to create better defensive spells against flame type attacks with the concept."

"… Not for now, but if there is a time and opportunity, then perhaps I can loan it to you." I decided to give that reply after thinking it through. One thing I would hand to Sona was her cunning intuition to certain things not within her scope of understanding; if she were to study the shield, she might discover something that I would really not want her to know.

I would have to keep my abilities under a low profile for the time being.

"Well, in the end we won. In a way, it was a good thing that Ise-kun appeared with the others when I was facing off with Raiser." Rias said as she leaned back on the chair.

"Actually, you should thank Shirou for that too?" Ise scratched his head in slight embarrassment. "I mean he was the one who guessed that Raiser would come directly at you."

"Huh? When did he say that, and how would he know about Raiser's reaction?"

"Remember when I say that Raiser has a lot of pride? That same pride will demand gratification by going to the front lines and taking on the King." I pointed to Rias. "To him, he needs to take you on to ensure that his image as the undisputed champion is intact, not to mention he was counting on your personality to do so. He knew that if he agitated you enough, you would no doubt accept against your better judgment."

"Hey, that makes it sound like I'm impulsive!" Rias frowned at my choice of words.

"You did accept his challenge right? But in anticipation, I decided to relay that message to Ise only, and let him decide how he will handle the situation." I nodded lightly to him. "At least he has enough sense to know that he would need more backup to ensure your protection in the event he needed to go one on one with Raiser."

"Wait that meant that small talk you had with Ise was…"

"That would be me telling him to watch over you just in case Raiser decided to confront you and you do fall for his ruse." I raised an amused eyebrow at her. "Good thing I could predict your behavior, otherwise half of the preparations would be useless if you were to get yourself defeated because of your headstrong mind-set and volatile temper."

"HEY!" Rias pouted heavily at my words.

"That is true." Sona added her two cents with a straight face. "After all, she lets her emotions run wild whenever she gets pissed."

"SONA!" Rias turned to direct her glare at Sona, who merely sipped her drink in a manner that was meant to hide that smirk appearing on her face.

Oh, the both of us were so evil.

"Well, now that the match is over, we can now go back to our studies, and I can continue working properly." I said as I took a sip of the drink. Seriously this training was pretty disruptive to my working schedule, and the rent was not going away on its own.

"You know, you could just take up our offer of going on full-time hunts, that should pay you better?" Sona remarked at my words.

"And if you want, there are other ways to get paid even more." Rias added in that with a glint in her eyes.

"Firstly, I am fine with my current part time job. Secondly I do not need to hunt those creatures down so often considering how weak they are. And lastly, I am not joining your Peerage." I replied back with the last one directed more towards Rias. Her pout was all I need.

"But you know, I didn't know that Ise-kun achieved Balance Breaker during our training." Akeno mused while directing a questioning gaze at me. "Granted you have trained us individually, but then something like that was kept from us."

"For my part, I did not think he would actually use it in the fight." I replied back with a glance at Ise. "We were able to awaken the dragon sleeping inside the gear and made great strides in his training, but regarding the armor, the only way for him to use it prematurely would be to sacrifice his arm."

"And it was worth it." Ise lifted the left arm that was still sporting the reptilian gauntlet on him. "Granted it is a pain in the ass getting used to it, but at least we can hide it by getting the dragon energy sucked out somehow."

"That is good and all, but Ise, allow me to repeat my lesson. You do not do that type of stunt again without supervision or council. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?" I looked to him with Rin's patented smile and my eyes closed to emphasize my point.

"YES SIR!" Ise stood rigid and saluted me while having a very pale face much to the amusement of some of the guests in the room. Guess my threat helped to make him remember some of the more painful lessons.

"Seeing the results of the match, perhaps I should consider asking you for a few tips in strategy, maybe a quick sparring session if it is possible." Sona mused as she finished off her drink.

"That would be interesting, I would like to know how strong I can be." Tsubasa agreed as she clenched her fists.

"Oh, is that so?" I kept my tone and expression evenly while looking at them.

"Yes, that would be great!" Saji clenched his fists eagerly. "Maybe if I train hard enough, I might be able to gain Balance Breaker like Hyoudou! And then I can…" His voice trailed off as he looked to Ise who had an indescribable expression. "Err, Hyoudou? Are you okay?"

"You… Want to… Train under him?" Ise stuttered while his eyes started to twitch. "You want… to undergo… that hellish training… Heh... Heh~Heh… HEHEHEHEHEHIIIIIII!" Ise started to let out a slightly wicked crackle while cradling his head in his hands and curled up into a fetal position.

"Wha~ what the heck happened to him?" Momo blinked owlishly as she watched him. "Why is he acting like…? Er Akeno?" She paused as she watched her friend spilling the drink from her shaking hand while having a smile that was honestly creeping her out.

"Yuuto-kun?" Tsubaki looked at Kiba whose mouth was twitching uncontrollably.

"Koneko-chan?" Tsubasa blinked at the little girl whose hair was literally on end and she was totally rigid.

"…" Sona slowly turned to look at Rias who was absolutely pale-faced. "Rias, are you okay?"

"Sona, if you are thinking of taking Emiya's training…" Rias turned her slowly with a forced smile and sweat droplets falling from her forehead. "I wish you the best of luck." That made the Sona Peerage paused at their reactions before slowly turning their heads towards me.

"Well then, if I am going to train you, would you like the slow and easy route, or the fast and hard route?" I asked them calmly with a very gentle smile on my face. "Either way, once you take up my training, I will make sure you will get a lot stronger."

Oh, the expressions on their faces were very satisfying.

=()=

"I'm back."

"You sure took your time getting back. Was the Rating Game that good?"

"Not too bad. Granted it was a little too restrained for my tastes, but it is better than the earlier ones I have seen."

"I don't see the point of going to those games run by those devils. They are just simulated fights, no one is going to get killed, their actions are lacklustre and their tactics are deplorable. To me, that type of game is a mockery to what we do back in our old world."

"True, it is a tad juvenile to me as well, playing make-believe warfare just to pass the time, but I find solace in understanding the creatures we have to fight every so often, not to mention the occasional breaks in normalcy that makes them interesting. And this match was particularly educational."

"How so?"

"I believe you know the Crimson Princess of Gremory and the Immortal Phenex?"

"By Phenex, you mean the arrogant blowhard who purposely keeps a harem of women just to show them off? Yeah, I know the idiot. As for the princess of Gremory, kind of hard not to know her, given her power, her family and that smoking-hot body of hers."

"Yes, well you will be pleased to know that her Peerage completely decimated the Phenex Peerage under 7 minutes and took him out without much effort on their part. Evidently they had researched on several methods to bypass his abilities and took him down quite easily"

"HAH! Serve that guy right for believing in his immortality to get his ass out of the way."

"Hmm~ how unlike some people we know."

"Don't push it! Anyway, that can't be the only reason you took this long to come back, was the fight really that good?"

"Although it was good, something else had turned up that made me stay longer."

"What would that be?"

"… Do you remember the message we got a month ago from two of the others? I think I might have stumbled onto some proof."

"! Explain. Now."

"From the Gremory group, several things caught my attention. After arriving here we have seen a lot of weapons, both holy and demonic, but having been on the receiving end of Shirou Emiya's weaponry, I remembered their appearance and power. One of them was the same type that took me out and sent me here. Another thing that struck me was the type of tactics used against Raiser; they were almost a carbon copy of what Emiya used against us."

"… I see, so he is here."

"We do not know yet, it may be a coincidence, but I have set some familiars in the area to keep an eye on the residents. One way or another, they will find out if it is him."

"Good, very good. HEHEHEHEH! So if it is him, we will be able to have our revenge again very soon. HEHEHEHE!"

"Indeed, the legend of the Magus Killer will be ended with his head on a silver platter. That would be the ideal present to bring back home to his family once we can leave this world."

"YES~ YESSSSSSS! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!"


=()=


Current Chapter Noble Phantasms:

Sunō-Buros Samu - The Snow Blossom Dagger

Type: Anti-Personnel

Rank: B+

A small dagger with a simple brown leather shethe, with a small white gem encased within the silver hilt. On the blade itself, there are japanese words that reflect its origins.

The origins of the blade are shrouded in mystery as there is not much to go on. Some debated that the blade gave rise to the story of the "Little Matchstick Girl", others suggested that it was a mere fairy tale that may have fallen out of history and only resurfaced as a separate story all together. What is known is that it involved a japanese servant girl who tried to sell firewood for her family in the middle of winter, with a dagger by her side to keep her safe and a memento of her late grandmother. No matter what troubles came her way, she remained pure of heart and refused to take a life of another. She was later taken in by an aristoucratic family and got married to one of the lesser sons. In her lifetime she helped others in any way she could, and thus the dagger she held became a family heirloom passed down the family to a girl of pure-heart.

The main abilities of the dagger focused on the principle of protection, and the strength depends mostly on its user. The more pure-hearted the user, the stonger the power of its defensive barrier which takes the form of tiny snowflakes that surround the user in a tiny bubble of white aura. If the user tries to hurt someone with it, the dagger will automatically freeze the user into solid ice and shatter the body completely to avoid bloodshed on its blade.

=()=

Brahmā Kā Caimpiyana - Gauntlets of the Champion of Brahma

Type: Anti-Unit

Rank: B+

A pair of metal gauntets adorned with Hindu decorations and ancient scriptures. The knuckle portion is reinforced with metal bands for added protection. When active, the metal portion and scriptures will glow brightly to the point they resemble gold.

In a relatively unknown part of Asian history, a few of the Indian Gods were having problems with Asura, who would often rampage and disrupt the lands, polluting the area with his unruly aura and unintentionally the minds of the people, making them extremely bloodthirsty and constantly seeking battles. In their desperation, they tried to send in their best warriors to contain the situation, only to lose them to the same bloodthirstiness. Finally, one relatively unknown farmer boy took up arms for Brahma and took on the soldiers, eventually stopping Asura's rampage and forcing him to retreat. The relatively humble gauntlets he put together for his battles thus became a Noble Phantasm associated with Brahma's champion.

The gauntlets have the ability to enhance known traits of the user while increasing the attack and defensive capabilities. For a regular human this would be more than sufficient, but in the hands of a magus or a Dead Apostle, the gauntlets would boost their abilities tenfold. Depending on the user, other traits would get stronger.

When Shirou uses the gauntlets, they would boost his trait of Steel, transforming his entire body into a type of "blade-mail", with the added bonus of him able to use any of his swords as a base to add attributes to his body, such as dragon-slaying or flame enhancement.

=()=

Svalinn - The Shield that protects humanity from the Sun's Wrath.

Type: Anti-Fortress

Rank: A++

A Norse shield of intricate design, it is roughly the size of a full grown man's torso, with old Scandinavian text around the circumference of the shield. In the center of the shield, a man's face represents the sun with his hair flaring in the form of sun rays. In the place of the eyes, dark red gems are embedded.

As the object of some of the most known poems for Norse Mythology, its fame arises from the ability to protect the earth from the sun. The multiple defensive spells placed on it are made in such a manner that they feed off excess energy from one another, in effect creating a stable loop of power that does not get wasted and at the same time enhancing their own abilities, most helpful when facing off a flame creature, as the spells would only get stronger the longer it get exposed to a higher grade of firepower.


=()=


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

Hello, I have returned with a new chapter for this story. Apologies for the late chapter, but things got pretty messed up in my life. Soon after my last chapter, my father suddenly fell ill and passed away within a month, and it was pretty sudden. It was a rather unreal experience for me, I mean he was healthy one moment, the next he got cancer and passed away without so much as a symptom showing.

Long story short, I went into a major funk, and it took a while before I could pick up the electronic typewriter and start hammering at the keyboard in an attempt to channel some of my emotions away. I was not really paying attention in the beginning as to what I was writing, and I was basically writing down ideas for different parts of the storyline. So it was roughly three quarters in then I realized I was writing enough ideas about the Rating Game Arc and I figured I might as well finished with this part.

I will be honest with you, I was totally unsure as to the manner I should write the Rating Game arc since there was not much to go with, furthermore I was not sure how to insert Shirou properly. Other stories seemed to just put him there for the sake of using his helpful nature, which would be fine given his younger days, but mine is older and more distrustful towards the devils. I decided to at least write it in a manner that he was reluctant to deal with their training, and at the same time, try to have a possible explanation as to why Ise had such poor magic control besides your typical comedy worthlessness.

For now, I can say that I will not be writing all the arcs since I am planning to have a bit of diversion where I am going with this story. Question is, I do not know which arcs to write. So on that note, should I write the Excalibur Arc and the meeting of the factions? They seemed to be used a lot. Like, seriously a lot.

And I put my pen down for now.