Welcome to the first chapter of Remnant of Cursed Paradise! I don't particularly like long author's notes, so I'll get right to the chase with this one. This Shirou isn't based off of any of the routes in Fate/Stay Night: Rather, he's part of a route that I myself created from mashing together the bits and pieces I remember from the three. There will be discrepancies, and things happened in this route that didn't happen in any of the others, but it shouldn't affect the quality of the story in any way.
Well, go on! Your next adventure awaits!
Chapter One: Heaven's Feel
I twisted to the side of an incoming blow, just as readily unleashing Kanshou at my enemy. Bakuya trembled in my grip, eager to join its spinning twin, but my strength was enough even without Reinforcement to keep the Yin sword from flying away. Swords were littered all around us in an endless wasteland expanse. The burnt-orange sky above us seared with heat, and a bead of sweat trickled down to my nose.
Kanshou curved in midair, almost trying to find the path of least resistance back to its other half. My opponent, a Servant with the speed to dodge my first three attacks, once again whirled away in a flash of gold. I brought up Bakuya just in time to block a ringing strike from the red-eyed Servant.
Gilgamesh was glaring at me, his face only inches from mine, torn between amusement and utter fury. He growled, and through his parted teeth came the smell of fine wine and desert sand. I broke away first, but only because I was unable to cope with his strength for even a short amount of time. Even though he wasn't a contracted Servant, he wasn't an Archer class in the Fourth War for nothing; he knew how to use his Gate of Babylon to devastating effect. Since the Gate of Babylon existed as a Noble Phantasm, and Gilgamesh was still somewhat tainted by the Grail's massive power after being Incarnated, he could go on for a long, long time. Indeed, the idiot of a king was randomly shooting various treasures of the world at me, paying no attention to what I was actually doing.
I was analyzing each and every weapon he threw at me and threw it back at him the second it appeared within my Reality Marble, Unlimited Blade Works.
The good part of that was that Unlimited Blade Works was a part of myself, and as I assimilated the weapons into myself, materializing them cost literally nothing more than a split-second of thought and some prana. The bad part of that was twofold: firstly was that Gilgamesh quite possibly had an endless number of weapons inside the Gate. Since it existed as a Noble Phantasm, I had no idea whether just how many treasures were worth collecting in the past. Hell, we could do it for hours, with me getting gradually weaker and Gilgamesh consuming any and all energy within the Gate to keep going.
Not to mention I couldn't keep up with him in terms of anything except weapon deployment.
The other bad part of that was the amount of prana that I had. Even activating my Reality Marble took a good deal of prana, and while creating weapons wasn't as costly when I could literally pull them out of the ground of my self-created World, it still took some. Since I didn't have much prana due to my mangled, incorrectly-developed Circuits, I could only fight him for so long when he had the Gate of Babylon active.
My thoughts were drawn back out of my chances at a win when Gilgamesh threw another volley of swords at me. I tried to recall the speed that Cu Chullain, the Hound of Ulster and Lancer of this particular Holy Grail War displayed when he and Saber fought. Unlimited Blade Works made summoning and utilizing all weapons easier, and although it was a stretch, Lancer's Gae Bolg gave me the speed I needed to dodge.
My entire body filled with lightness that I didn't know could even exist, and I somehow managed to weave around the web of steel that Gilgamesh's "treasured" weapons. I absently knocked my Reality Marble from "dead useful" to "bordering on Sorcery" and then traced Berseker's raw strength by ripping Nine Lives from the sun-baked earth to my left. The speed tapered off. I was aware that my body could only handle so much stress, but I needed every ounce of power I could spare, so I redirected all the od in my 27 subpar Magic Circuits to recreating and then empowering the strongest weapon I could Project: Excalibur.
I'd only seen it used once, but with the sheer proficiency I had with Structural Analysis, once was more than enough to capture the full scale of Excalibur's power. What I created was nothing more than a frame of a frame, a copy of a Noble Phantasm of a weapon forged alongside Avalon as the crystallization of the hopes of the entire planet. Of course, it was still dwarfed by some other weapons: Even a fully-powered Excalibur blast wouldn't be enough to take all twelve of the God Hand's granted lives, and under the correct circumstances Rider's Pegasus, a Divine Phantasmal Creature summoned by the Bellerophon, could overpower it, but there were very few things that could surpass such a weapon.
Gilgamesh had one of those weapons in his Gate. Ea, the fabled Sword of Rupture, an Anti-world weapon that couldn't be defined as a Conceptual Weapon or a Mystic Code, but some abominable clash of the two. It was a weapon from the Age of the Gods, meaning I couldn't Trace it if he decided to pull it out. Even if I could, it wouldn't make much difference; there was no possible way the planet could survive a blast from Ea, not without both Alaya and Arcueid Brunestud themselves intervening. Excalibur wouldn't stand a chance, especially my crude copy of it. I just hoped that Gilgamesh cared enough about ruling the world's civilizations that he'd leave them be and not use Ea.
Excalibur's charge was taking too long for my likings; my utter inability to gather Mana from the world extended the time by a few minutes, but Gilgamesh looked utterly amused by my efforts. "Go ahead, choreboy!" he shouted over the whine of Excalibur's shining blade. "Try it! Your pathetic traces of energy can't even begin to match my power!"
I took a deep breath. He was right. I couldn't match him, and no matter how much I "Faked", I couldn't reach his level of power within my lifetime. So I did the only thing I could do to win.
I brought him down to my level.
Saber had always drilled into me that honor and duty were essential parts of combat, and while I tried not to fight dirty, I really needed to in this case. I ducked below Gilgamesh as he bolted towards me, another sword in his hands. Unlike the ones before it, this one had no name, but I could see power within it that was disturbingly similar to a weapon within Archer's and my collection: Balmung. I Traced the weapon out of instinct, only looking up long enough to see Gilgamesh's flabbergasted expression at the two almost identical crossed blades. His was older than Balmung by a large margin, several of thousands of years at the very least, but it was only stronger than the holy/demonic sword of Sigurd by a very small amount. It was as if this one was the original.
"So, even this one is tainted by your human hands..." Gilgamesh said, almost sadly. The reality struck me like a viper coiled to bite: the sword he was holding was Balmung. Actually, it didn't have a name, but it was still fundamentally the same sword, only with less of a history behind it. It must have actually sucked for him to see this, the "tainting" of the weapons in his Gate by the hands of Heroes that he essentially spawned. Gilgamesh was a brutally cold man, even evil to some people, but in that one moment I allowed myself to pity him just the slighteset bit. I never pitied him again after that, but dead men deserve that much at least.
I was abruptly reminded of Excalibur, still taking prana from me in vast quantities, in my other hand. I brought it up to bear. The very point scuffed the breastplate of his armor as he dove back.
Then there was fire and light.
My first coherent thought after the light faded was that everything burned. My eyes, my hands, my skin and bones and even my teeth were cracking and blistering. My body wasn't able to handle the stress of having an up-close-and-personal ticket to an Excalibur attack, even when fully Reinforced. My second thought ran along the lines of analyzing my environment. My eyesight was shot, just a single white blur, and my entire body was numb, probably from a combination of burnt nerves and shock, so I had to rely on my other senses. Taste was useless as well, but my hearing and smell gave me a bit of information. Through the smell of thoroughly cooked human, the almost bittersweet scent of cherry blossoms and cool night air hit my nostrils. That, and the swaying of a breeze that wouldn't have been present in my Reality Marble told me that I was no longer inside of Unlimited Blade Works. With my vision slowly returning and a small modicum of motor function remaining, I turned Unlimited Blade Works inside of me and dulled the pain as best I could before propping myself up on my elbows.
My eyes were still blurry, and my depth perception was shot to hell, but even I couldn't mistake the golden blob laying motionless on the ground in front of me. As my vision cleared further I realized that a faint trail of smoke was coming from the downed Gilgamesh's body.
He was dead, and not the kind of dead that returned him to the corrupted Holy Grail, or the Throne of Heroes, but the dead that meant "you're not coming back. Ever."
A sense of elation and relief, promptly blunted by my Reality Marble, bubbled in the pit of my stomach. The Excalibur Image was still in my hand, though it was fading rapidly. I took one final look at it before it dissolved.
Inside me, Avalon was working far too fast to be considered normal. I'd assimilated the Conceptual Weapon when Kiritsugu Emiya, my adoptive father, saved me from a fire caused by the Fourth Holy Grail War ten years prior. It took a long while, but with my summoning of Saber, the Scabbard of Excalibur had finally accepted me as its new bearer and my regeneration abilities multiplied tenfold. It would never give me the pseudo-immortality it gave Saber, but even life-threatening wounds would fade within a day, and if I ever fully mastered its regenerative effects, the regrowth of limbs would be possible within the same time limit.
I looked down when an itching sensation tore at my legs, then my pelvis and waist. The flesh I could see through my blackened and torn jeans was already regenerating and I could even see skin in a few places. A frown split my face. No matter how much of a benefit this extreme regeneration was, it still wasn't normal. Abnormal things were too hard to predict, and an ingrained sense of knowledge that bled off from my Structural Analysis made me uncomfortable around unpredictable things. The same thing occurred around Berserker, and to an extent, Lancer. You couldn't tell what either were going to do next, and it aggravated me almost as much as the prospect of fighting them did.
The itch had already traveled to my chest, and it was creeping farther up my shoulders by the second. I focused on the returning of the cool concrete beneath my back; in the searing inferno caused by Excalibur's Prana Burst, my shirt had probably been sublimated. My chest was healed, now onto my forearms and collarbone.
My heartbeat sounded louder than normal, but I assumed it was just the shock wearing off after my body recognized it was no longer in danger. The itch faded, surprisingly, to a mere tingle in my limbs. It had passed my elbows at that point, and my chin was coating over with fresh skin.
The thudding sound returned, but I didn't have any point of reference to compare its rhythm to. For all I knew, my heart could give out at any moment, but with Avalon's abilities, I doubted it. I tried to call upon some of my od, but the vast majority of it was being redirected through Avalon, leaving me with only enough to summon a sword.
Avalon's healing thaumaturgy reached my face, reconstructing my bones and cartilage. The smell of burnt flesh had mostly faded at that point, leaving behind a multitude of scents; the soft sweetness associated with water, a sharp woody smell that told me I was near pine trees, and a metallic, acrid burning that reminded me of scorched metal.
My eyes were the next to be restored. Color, shape and texture flickered into focus in an instant, and it took a moment to regain my bearings. My body was emitting a faint white glow reminiscent of Saber during her Prana Bursts. The light flooded the ugly, blackened flesh of my hands, transforming them into healthy ones in an instant. The light continued to travel after it reached my fingertips, pulsing directly into the street beneath me.
Then the weird stuff began to happen.
The asphalt turned a lush green color before my very eyes, and a patch of soft grass sprouted between my fingers. The grassy patch spread like a wildfire, and before I knew it, I was laying against the crest of a hill, a grasslands of incomparable beauty around me. The towering buildings of Fuyuki City were nowhere in sight. In contrast to the worry and tension I should have been feeling, a sense of peacefulness washed over me, rising from the grass to infuse my muscles. I felt like taking a nap, just leaning back, and relaxing for a while.
Then Gilgamesh moved, and any serenity in my system vanished. I pushed myself to my feet with a single spasm of my legs and summoned Excalibur reflexively.
Before I could release the prana construct, confident that I was only able to use the crystallization inside Unlimited Blade Works, the holy sword appeared in my hand. Confused, I attempted to analyze it. To my surprise, my magic failed.
"I wouldn't try that if I were you."
I spun at the voice. The man it belonged to was young, only about my age, with short blond hair that shaded his eyes. He had a hard facial structure and a thin frame, and I could see corded muscles from the bits of skin not hidden by his white tunic and blue pants. He stood just as regally as Saber, and I could see the sheathed blade of Caliburn at his hip. My eyes narrowed.
"That doesn't belong to you," I growled. After fighting with, for and (briefly) against Saber, I'd come to recognize her Noble Phantasms as her possessions. I even asked permission the one time I'd Traced the Sword in the Stone that Chooses Kings. Therefore, it wasn't any surprise that I readied Excalibur when the man pulled Caliburn from its sheath and inspected the blade lazily.
"I'm serious," he continued, not giving any indication that he'd heard me. "Don't try any magecraft here. Avalon will recognize it as an attack and attempt an automatic removal of the threat. And this sword is mine; rather, it's my real counterpart." He resheathed Caliburn and closed the remaining distance, extending a hand as he did so. "I'm the Legend of King Arthur."
I looked at the hand, then buried Excalibur's point into the earth and shook it. "Shirou Emiya."
"I already know who you are, but it's quite nice to be introduced anyway." Arthur held out his hands in an expansive gesture. "What do you think of Avalon?"
"Avalon... a paradise?" I was thinking out loud, but I made no motions to stop doing so. There was a crystal clear lake in the distance, tinted blue by a cloudless expanse of sky. The sun was bright, but not overly so. Near my feet, Gilgamesh moved again, and Arthur kicked him in the head. The King of Heroes slumped, once again unconscious. If this space was Avalon, and if Avalon theoretically existed within the Scabbard, then that meant that Saber was here as well, trapped in an eternal stasis. The thought brought me back to Saber's last words. "One endlessly chasing, the other endlessly pursuing..."
Arthur nodded sympathetically. "Quite so," he said, reaching forward to give me a friendly clap on the shoulder. "Then again, that is your fate. To endlessly chase, and if you break that fate... who knows? You could very well reunite with Arturia in time. But for now, you need to continue your chase."
"Right," I said. I pulled Excalibur from the ground and handed it to Arthur, who took it gratefully. "How do I get out of here?"
Arthur blinked, then threw his head back and laughed. Avalon twinkled with light in response to his amusement. "Oh, that's easy," Arthur said after a moment, still chuckling. "Just grab on to Excalibur. I'll keep the King of Heroes in here for a while. A word of warning, though: Avalon was only able to pull the barest essentials of your soul inside of it. Your body is probably already dead, and your Magic Circuits are nil in here. The only way to keep going is to transplant yourself into someone else's body."
"So I'd become a Homunculus?" I asked. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing; Homunculi were often used by the more twisted Magi for experiments regarding the human soul, from what I could glean of Illyasviel von Einzbern's maids, they were also Homunculus, only Altered into familiar-like servitude of Ilya.
I was surprised when Arthur shook his head. "No, you'd be invading another human's body and assimilating their soul. Homunculi are created, while you are merely displaced. Think of it like a hijacking, or a revolution."
I frowned. That didn't sound good, but I was longing to go out and continue my "pursuit" once more. At the very least, I wanted my magecraft, however feeble it was, back. If it meant sacrificing somebody else's soul, however...
Arthur must have been able to interpret my facial expressions, because his expression turned a little tense. "Look, I'm not saying you have to like it, I'm saying you have to do it. Sorry about this, Shirou, but you don't exactly have a choice."
With a motion that would have made Saber proud, he thrust Excalibur into my grip and closed my fingers around the hilt. Before I could drop it, Excalibur was bleeding pure light, and everything faded. The ground dropped out from beneath me, and then I was falling.
I sat up, gasping, as reality reasserted itself. My eyes were still used to the bright light of Excalibur, so the darkness of the room was disconcerting. I almost began Tracing Kanshou and Bakuya, but then I remembered what Arthur had said, and I stopped just before reaching out with my od. Instead, I sat stock-still and waited for my eyes to clear to discern my location.
A warrior fought with all five senses, and while anyone with any sense would blow me off as a warrior, I'd still learned to fight with more than my eyes. All I could hear was a swishing of wind outside and the indiscernible buzz most people associated with lonely darkness. I could feel something soft covering my lower half, and I ran my hands gently along the fabric, hesitant to use Structural Analysis. I sent out a pulse.
I was floored by the response I received.
There wasn't anything unusual about the material itself; it was a standard 61.43/38.57 blend of cotton and polyester, respectively. No what was strange wasn't my surroundings, but me.
Or rather, what used to be me. I was fairly sure that before the incident inside Avalon I didn't have a total of seventy four Magic Circuits, each one working at maximum efficiency.
Whatever Arthur had done inside of Avalon had changed me, or if he was really telling the truth, had made me consume the soul that resided within this body. That made me want to retch a little, but I forced the bile down.
My eyes finally adjusted enough for me to see. I was in a bedroom, a fairly large one at that, that was decorated in a very Western style. Instead of the sparse furnishings and tatami mats I'd grown up with in the Emiya estates, this one had full carpeting and pastel blue and gold wallpaper. There was a small desk on one side of the room, opposite of the bed. A fold-out door probably lead to a closet set into a wall. A dresser was next to it, a freshly polished mirror hanging above the smooth mahogany cupboard. A set of cubbyholes were screwed into the wall to my right, filled with books and various trinkets.
I stepped out of the bed and looked into the mirror. The body was younger than I was previously, but still a few years older than I'd been during the Fire. This person's entire body, from the hands to the torso and even the shoulders, was thin and bony, with a bit of muscle but not much. I made a mental note to fix that and moved on to "my" face. "I" was blond, with much the same hairstyle as my previous body, only a bit more tame. My face didn't have many defining features yet, other than the piercing blue eyes that stared back at me. The look was so utterly alien, even though I hadn't looked myself in the mirror for a few weeks, that I took a step back and felt my cheek just to confirm that, indeed, this was now my face.
I was now this teenage secondary-schooler.
My next task was done unconsciously. Even as my mind tried to sort things out, I began running through and Tracing various weapons in my mind. But really, I was a kid again? That gave me dozens upon dozens of chances to save people, to become an Ally of Justice like Kiritsugu had been for me. This gave me a chance to get strong enough to fulfill my ideals, and to make good on my promises. To Kiritsugu... and Saber.
A spear appeared in my hand, replaced by the ancient contract-severing dagger, Rule Breaker, and then followed by another spear, this one blood red. A jolt of phantom pain lashed through the spot where my heart was, and I dropped my free hand from my face to my chest in an attempt to rub the feeling away. I looked at the barbed point and winced. The lance was Gae Bolg, the spear of the legendary Cu Chullain. In the very beginning of the Fifth Grail War (before it had technically even started, actually), I'd been stabbed directly in the heart by the famed spear, and only a Jewel Mage of the highest level, Rin Tohsaka, was able to fix it. Even then, it greatly helped that Avalon had been implanted into me, because it reduced my recovery time from days to a few minutes.
I frowned at the memory and dismissed Gae Bolg. That was the night when Saber had appeared for the first time, and also the first time I'd ever spent any amount of time with Rin Tohsaka or my Counter Guardian other half, the Archer Servant EMIYA.
I was restless, and even a child's resolute sleepiness during the wee hours of the morning wasn't enough to drop me. I sat in the chair next to the desk and rummaged around in its drawers. After a minute, I pulled out an unopened journal and, through a little more digging past crayons, a few semi-sharp pencils. I opened the book and set the tip to the page.
I don't know where I am or who I am. My name is Shirou Emiya, but I'm currently inhabiting the body of a blond child. I'll fill in the information of my arrival in this predicament at a later date, but for now, I believe that reconnaissance is the best course of action. I'll try to discreetly wheedle some information out of the boy's parents, or if that doesn't work, the nearest library.
I shut the journal with a soft but sharp snap and placed it back in its cupboard. I stood and began meandering around the room, thinking of something to do. Out of impulse, I checked the moon.
Then all thought processes ceased, and I simply stood there, mouth hanging open.
The moon was broken. A few cracks ran along the whole part of its surface, but a good half of the moon was broken into asteroid-sized chunks, slowly orbiting themselves and an off-colored chunk in the center that I assumed was the core. Somehow, important thoughts escaped my mind, and I was left wondering if the Type-Moon would be angry enough to hurl the moon at the planet if he saw it. I wasn't feeling anything close to amusement, more like shock and utter disbelief, but even despite that a faint chuckle emerged from my throat.
I spent a few more minutes just blankly staring at the shattered satellite, then tore my eyes away and inspected my Magic Circuits. I knew I had seventy four, and I knew that they worked at least as efficiently as Rin's did, but other than that, there was nothing. I pulled the image of a gun into my head, the hammer already drawn back. I took a deep breath, then depressed the mental trigger.
All seventy four blazed to life, pulling in mana and generating od at the same time. The amount shocked me, and I shut them off out of instinct before hesitantly opening thirteen again. Rin's Circuits could maintain about thirty units of prana per Circuit, and my Circuits during the War could only use about ten, and even then it damaged them slightly each time I used them. Now, however, these Circuits utilized almost fifty units each, bringing my total prana utilization to 3700, about three times as much as Rin at her strongest. I'd need to train with these a lot to use them to their fullest extents.
I shut off the thirteen active Circuits one by one, trying to get a feel for them. Instead of the sudden rush that I was used to, it felt like opening and shutting off a valve. My inactive Circuits probably weren't gathering ambient mana, but there was a reservoir of prana that resided inside them, unlike my past ones that dissipated any od when I shut them off. I shut off all but one Circuit and Traced one more Noble Phantasm, only half-expecting it to work.
To my surprise, Excalibur appeared in my hand, blade shining softly with pearlescent motes of moonlight. The blade wasn't of human make, nor was it created with earthly materials, so the only place I could Trace even a fragile image of the sword was inside Unlimited Blade Works, since the materials used to create such weapons no longer existed in the age I lived in. The fact that I could summon a much stronger replica of it within the physical world meant one of two things: I was either in a time or place that contained the materials used to create a crystallization of an idea, or I was in tune enough with Unlimited Blade Works to project my Reality Marble within a limited, interlocking space in the real world. I personally hoped for the latter to be true, but knowing my luck, it was the former. Still, whatever place had the ability to forge things like Excalibur was dangerous. I would have to be careful from that point on.
Thanks for reading! Leave a review on your way out, and if you enjoyed, follow and favorite! If I made any grammatical errors, or if you have constructive criticism, please leave it in the reviews.