Hey all.

To make a long story short, my Pen-drive died, taking with it a lot of my unpublished works, though i kept my notes separate thank god.

To keep from going insane, I'll be rewriting some of my older works, and publishing the few that managed to survive, like this one.


Fake Life 2: Heretical Knowledge.

"Unfortunately for you, I'm not in the mood for any of your bad jokes." The youth known as Kiba Yuuto muttered, Shirou's eyes widening as a magic circle appeared before the blonde, a sword manifesting itself in his hands.

"That's perfect!" the clearly insane priest, Freed Sellzen, cackled, waving his own weapon overhead, the rest of their conversation fading from Shirou's consciousness, the very fall of the rain against his skin halting as the Faker's eyes locked onto the two blades, scanning them, taking in every minute detail of their existence. In the back of his mind, impossibly large gears ground into action, the sound of Forging Iron echoing in their wake as the Blade Works welcomed two more additions to his inner world.

Judging the concept of creation…

It was a Demon Sword, born from its master's desire to consume Holy Energy.

It was but a part of the whole, a mere fraction of the original, broken & remade by mortal hands.

Hypothesizing the Basic Structure…

A two-handed longsword, designed to overpower foes yet allowing for high-speed movement.

Its basic shape resembled a long Kris, a light, one-handed longsword designed for swift strikes.

Duplicating the Composite Materials…

While not forged by mortal hands, the base metals were identical to that of a regular sword.

While divine metal served as its core, base metals had been added to give the shards new life.

Imitating the Production Process…

No hand had ever forged this blade. It had been born from its master's will made form.

Originally forged by divine hands, it was restored through the use of alchemy and blessed Metals.

Sympathizing with the Experience of its Growth…

Countless times this blade was redesigned, re-forged, until it had assumed its current form.

Few possessed the qualifications for it to acknowledge them as master & so few had wielded it.

Reproducing the accumulated years…

While the blade itself was fairly young, it had stood by its master's side longer than any other…

It was old; it was new, its current form mere decades old, its legend reaching back centuries.

Excelling every manufacturing process…

Its name is Holy Eraser, and it would defend its Master by devouring the accursed light that shunned him, submerging those who wielded it in Eternal Darkness.

Forged anew, it stands ready to cleave apart the darkness, to bring the light of God down upon the damned. Though reduced from days of yore, all who aspire to Glory know its name, the greatest of Holy Swords...

"Excalibur…?" Shirou breathed alongside Freed's crowing, the Faker's eyes widening in disbelief, unable to comprehend the sheer blasphemy of the sight before him.

Excalibur was no mere 'Sword', it was a Divine Construct, the pinnacle of Holy swords, a Last Phantasm, forged by the Planet itself as the crystallization of mankind's prayer for 'Victory'. Guarded by Fairies, it had been entrusted solely to the hands of the Proud Once & Future King of Knights by the Lady of the Lake, who reclaimed it following his death.

It was Saber's most iconic Noble Phantasm, the very symbol of her Legend, so closely tied to her True Identity that she'd been forced to conceal it beneath a sheath of wind, for all who laid eyes upon the Sword of Promised Victory instantly knew its name, and through it the one King deemed worthy to carry the dreams & pride of every warrior, past, present & future who laid eyes upon it.

It was not something that could be 'Broken and Re-Forged' so easily. To even imagine something strong enough to shatter the Sword of Promised Victory, which by its very name signified that it could not be beaten, was blasphemous. How then, could the sword before him exist? Even if he chose to close his eyes and block his ears, his Inner World, that beautiful, haunting field of Unlimited Blades beneath a cog-filled sky, had burned its existence into his very soul.

It was (NOT) Excalibur…and yet there was no way it could (NOT) be.

It was but a portion of the whole, a fragment, an echo, an offshoot that had garnered a tale of its own through the actions of humans. Much like how Caliburn was descended from Gram, which in turn was descended from Merodach, so too had this sword seemingly descended from the Sword of Promised Victory.

Its name was Excalibur Rapidly: The Holy Sword of Heavenly Flash.

And it did not appreciate being wielded by a heretic like Freed Sellzen.

The sound of clashing steel snapped the Faker out of his thoughts, blinking just in time to see the two swordsmen lock blades, Holy Sword & Demon Sword struggling against one another. "You know, your shitty face is getting even more messed up." Freed sneered, his tone smug, a stark contrast to the look of fury on Kiba's normally smiling features "It's starting to look like it was made to be the prey of this Holy Sword, Ex-Cali-bur~!"

"Shut up!" Kiba snarled, forcing the priest back before raising Holy Eraser before him, tendrils of darkness erupting from the Demon Sword to envelop its foe as he called out its name, only to be rent asunder by the Holy Aura coating the blade.

"Yeah, sorry." Freed sneered mockingly, the insane priest looking hardly apologetic at all as he straightened up once the light faded away "That little trick's not gonna work this time, Shithead."

"I'd be insulted if it did." Kiba shot back, his tone equally smug even as he trembled with repressed rage "That was just a test to make sure you weren't talking out your ass…" he readied his sword with a glare "Now that I know that's the real thing, I won't hesitate to break you AND your sword!"

"Whoa-there!" Freed exclaimed, backing up hurriedly whilst fending off Kiba's assault. For a moment, it actually looked like the blonde was pushing him, his Demon Sword coming round in a two-handed swing that by all-rights should have severed the priest's wrist from his arm, only for Freed to sneer mockingly, somehow managing to lean back to avoid the swing, delivering one of his own even as Kiba struggled to right himself, the Blonde crying out in agony as dark smoke burst from the resulting wound to his upper arm, dropping to his knees with a grimace.

"Aw, what's wrong?" Freed sneered, his tone mocking as he towered over the downed blonde, the so-called-Excalibur resting on his shoulder "Don't tell me you forgot? This sword was made for the sole purpose of killing piece of Shit Devils like yourself. Got it memorized?"

Wrong. He was wrong. That wasn't the reason Excalibur had been forged.

While it was classed as a Holy Blade, it had never been intended to combat Devils. It was the crystallization of the prayer 'Glory' that was etched in the hearts of those scattered before the sword's radiance, the nostalgic, sorrowful, hallowed dream of those placed on the bloody hell called a battlefield, exposed to the fear of death & despair whilst clinging to the desire to be 'Exalted'.

It was never meant to be wielded by anyone other than Saber. Not even Gilgamesh, Ancient Babylon's King of Heroes, with his infinite treasury said to possess the Prototypes of virtually every Noble Phantasm, could lay claim to the Sword of Promised Victory.

It was never meant to be wielded by anyone but Saber. For anyone else to even consider laying a hand on the blade was to spit on the Legend of the Proud King of Knights and all those who had rallied to her side. Even now, reduced to a shadow of its former glory, the blade silently trembled as it fought to reject the touch of the Stray Exorcist.

Shirou blinked, the Faker realizing he'd started running some time ago, feet pounding against the sodden tarmac as he raced from his hiding spot, the hammer in his mind slamming down, the comforting weight of Kanshou & Bakuya filling his grasping hands as he streaked towards the pair, the married twin-swords clashing against the Holy Sword as Freed, once again, somehow managed to bring the sword up to block.

"What the fuck?!" the insane exorcist yelped, his mad eyes widening in surprise at the unexpected assault before leaping back to give himself some room to manoeuvre "Hey! Who the fuck are you-?!"

Shirou didn't respond, not with words anyway, the Faker choosing instead to lunge towards his opponent once more, the Married Twin Blades cutting through the rain to clash against the Holy Sword of Heavenly Flare again and again, Freed unable to do anything but backtrack hurriedly whilst fending off the assault as best he could.

That was the key difference between the Magus Emiya Shirou & the Exorcist Freed Sellzen. While both of their swords were fakes, pale imitations of the originals, Freed was relying almost entirely on the power of his Holy Sword' to make up for his sup-par swordsmanship, whereas Shirou was augmenting his skill, power & technique with those of Archer, who had spent decades honing his skills, refining them to the point he could face down Heroic Spirits despite being a mere human.

There was simply no comparison. In a battle between two fakes, the one with the better skills was sure to be the victor. Excalibur Rapidly might grant its wielder enhanced speed, but even at his best, Freed couldn't compare to the swift savagery of Cú Chulainn, the monstrous grace of Medusa, the unstoppable force that was Herakles or the might of the King of Knights & countless other Heroes the Red-Clad Counter-Guardian had ingrained into his blades.

"I-! Said-! BACK THE FUCK OFF DAMMIT!" Freed snarled, drawing a firearm from his coat with his free hand & firing it at close range, forcing Shirou to back up a step to avoid the beam of light that emerged, deflecting the ensuing shots with his blades "Fucking Die already, will you?!"

"FREED!" Kiba snarled, the blonde swordsman dropping down from on high, having apparently gotten his second wind during Shirou's initial assault, Freed letting out a curse as he was forced to halt his barrage to avoid being bisected at the last second.

"Damned…Tag-Teaming…Motherfuckers-!" the priest spat between gasps for air, glaring down at the pair from his perch atop a nearby dry-goods store "If you're in such a hurry to die then bring it-!"

He trailed off, glancing sharply to the side, as if listening to some unseen voice. His distraction may have lasted less than a second, but to someone like Archer, who had routinely fought monsters far stronger than himself, a second was all the opening needed.

Spirit and Technique, Flawless and Firm.

Hurling the first set of Married Blades at the Priest's neck, Shirou promptly traced a second set even as he lunged forwards, closing the distance between them, his eyes never leaving his target.

Our strength rips the mountains.

"Time-out you fuck!" Freed snarled, deflecting the hurled blades easily, only to curse as he brought his sword around to block the follow-up assault "My boss is calling me! He'll be hella pissed if I'm late-!"

Shirou ignored him. Words were simply wasted movement in this dance, the Faker pressing his assault even as the hurled Blades came around from behind, homing in on their respective 'mates', Freed crying out in alarm as the Married Blades sliced into his shoulder from behind.

Our Swords Part the Rivers

"F-Fucking FUCK!" the exorcist spat, going for his gun once again, only for Shirou to spread his arms wide, a cross-like cut appearing on the Exorcists chest as his arms were deflected to the sides "YOU FUCKING-UGH!"

Our Names Reach the Imperial Villa

"Trace Overedge-!" Shirou incanted, burying his foot in Freed's gut, using it as a brace to launch himself into the air, Prana surging through his circuits & into his blades as he flipped overhead, using the resulting momentum to raise the altered blades overhead.

The two of us cannot hold the heavens together.

"Kakyoku Sanren!" Shirou snarled, the reinforced married blades, now resembling a pair of black & white wings, descending on Freed like the wrath of the God he so despised, the Exorcist's eyes widening in alarm as he brought his Holy Sword up to block the attack, the clash of steel coinciding with a sudden flash of lightning.

Kiba's POV...

'Damn!' Kiba cursed, the Knight of Rias Gremory shielding his eyes from the flash of light with Holy Eraser, his teeth clenched as he FELT the preceding impact even standing where he was 'Just what the hell is going on here?!'

As much as it chaffed, Kiba would be the first to admit that he'd underestimated Freed earlier. As insane as the Stray-Exorcist was, he hadn't been hailed as a genius prior to being excommunicated for nothing. True, Kiba had managed to hold his own against him during the Twilight Healing incident, but he'd had the advantage of a Knight's Speed and a Demon Sword that devoured Light Energy on his side, not to mention the fact Koneko was literally hurling parts of the building at the freak whenever she saw an opening.

Still, genius or not, there was no way in hell, pun most certainly intended, that a monster like Freed would be qualified to wield a True Holy Sword like Excalibur. Putting aside the sheer magnitude of difference between a True Holy Sword & the mass-produced 'Lightsabres' all exorcists carried, the number of people with the innate ability to wield a True Holy Sword could be counted on one hand with room to spare, a fact Kiba was all-too-familiar with.

How then, had Freed, who'd been excommunicated for being too bat-shit crazy for even the church to effectively control, managed to get his hands on one of their most sacred relics, a Holy Sword whose very name could give High-Ranking Devils pause for concern?

Were it any other Holy Blade Kiba would have probably laughed it off as a bluff even as he took the precautions to avoid being hit. But the moment he'd laid eyes on the priest's blade, once he'd felt the intensity of its Holy Aura, he'd instantly realized it was an authentic Excalibur, and then the rage had taken over.

Never in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined an Excalibur appearing before him. Oh he'd fantasized about destroying them often enough, but he'd never once harbored any actual intention of storming the churches they were stored in and actually carrying out the deed. For one thing the resulting fallout would most certainly reignite the war between the Three-Biblical-Factions…for another there was no telling what Rias would do to him for worrying her like that."

And so, faced not only with the root of his grudge, wielded by someone the Church would probably thank him for killing, albeit backhandedly, Kiba had let his emotions get the best of him and wound up paying the price, as the still burning cut on his arm could testify.

Simply touching a True Holy Sword was enough to hurt a Devil, and Low-Class Devils often died to the smallest of Scratches from them. While Kiba wasn't weak by any stretch of the imagination, he was still leagues below a Pureblood like Rias or Sona, so it was a miracle he'd only been brought to his knees the moment the blessed steel bit into his flesh. Even now, he could feel his Demonic Power escaping from the wound, unable to properly heal it due to the lingering touch of the Blade's Holy Aura.

That he hadn't dropped Holy Eraser was probably the only reason Freed hadn't decided to follow up the attack right away. Well, that and the fact someone had literally leapt from the shadows to intercept the mad-exorcist mid-taunt, driving him back with a beautiful pair of Chinese Dao-Swords.

'An Exorcist from the Church?' the Gremory Knight wondered, eyeing the corpse of the priest Freed had murdered as the light died down 'No. I can't be certain, but it looked like he was wearing our school uniform…'

"Are you okay, Kiba-san?" a familiar voice inquired, the Gremory Knight's eyes widening in disbelief as his night-vision allowed him to make out the features of Emiya Shirou, the elusive Brownie of Kuoh who had been driving Rias up the wall due to his penchant for running away whenever she tried to say hello "You were cut earlier, is it bad?"

"Ah…no, I'm fine." Kiba stammered, the pain from the Holy-Sword's cut having lessened, though his left arm still stung if he flexed the muscle. "It's barely a scratch; he just caught me off guard earlier." His eyes widened as he realized they were alone "Wait, where's Freed?!"

"He got away." Emiya admitted, an annoyed frown marring his features "He used some sort of flash-grenade the moment his sword broke. By the time my vision cleared, he'd already disappeared."

"Damn it!" Kiba snarled, slamming his left fist against the wall, heedless of the flash of pain in his upper arm "And I'd finally managed to track one down…" he muttered, only to trail off, looking up at the redhead in surprise "Wait…broke?"

"Well…shattered would probably be more appropriate…" Emiya admitted, Kiba's eyes widening as the redhead held up what was clearly the hilt of Freed's Excalibur, the knight only now noticing the plastic bag the redhead was carrying in his free hand, which upon closer inspection contained the rest of the blade "I figured leaving the pieces lying around would be a bad idea, even if that guy didn't come back for them." He glanced at Kiba curiously "I take it this isn't the first time he attacked you?"

"Huh…?" Kiba murmured, shaking his head to clear it, his mind seemingly unable to process the sight of the destroyed Holy Sword "I mean, yes, we've crossed swords before. He threatened two other members of my Club some time ago." He grimaced at the memory of the Twilight Healing incident "We'd assumed he'd been taken care of, looks like it was just wishful thinking."

"By 'we' you mean Gremory Rias-sempai…right?" Emiya deduced, earning a sharp look from Kiba that he quickly regretted due to the pain in his arm "I'm guessing Shitori-Kaichou & the Student Council are involved as well?"

"Not…exactly." Kiba muttered, not wanting to give too much away, but at the same time wondering just how informed the redhead was, as to his knowledge only High-ranking members of the Three Biblical Factions were even aware the Gremory & Sitri heiresses were in japan.

"I see…" Emiya mused, his expression contemplative, Kiba honestly surprised by the concern in those his ochre eyes as the redhead glanced at his arm "You should probably get that looked at…"

"I'll be fine…" Kiba assured him, a wan smile on his face as he rubbed the limb, the cut slowly healing as the Holy Aura was washed away "That being said, I think I'd better be getting home."

"You need any help?" Emiya wondered, only for Kiba to wave his concerns aside, as unlike Issei-kun, he could simply use the teleportation circle to return to the dorms. Besides, as insane as Freed was, he wasn't suicidal, so it was highly unlikely he'd try anything so soon after losing an Excalibur.

What's more, judging by his moment of hesitation prior to Emiya's finishing move, it was clear someone had called him off, most likely whoever had given the lunatic the Holy sword, in which case, it was highly unlikely he'd be seeing Freed again any time soon, as he couldn't imagine them being too pleased with the lunatic for losing such a valuable weapon.

"Well if you're certain…" Shirou mused, the redhead shrugging offhandedly as he turned on his heel and walked off, pausing only to pick up his book bag from where it lay in a puddle "See you later, Kiba-san."

"Ah…" Kiba nodded, watching the redhead disappear into the night, waiting until he was certain he was alone before slumping back against the wall, the strength in his legs finally giving out.

'It's a good thing Rias has been bunking with Issei since the wedding…' he mused, pulling a Flyer out of his pocket, the Gremory crest lighting up as he activated the teleport function 'She'd throw a fit if she saw me like this…'

Azazel's Blazer Shining Aura Darkness Bachelor Pad...

"Yo." Azazel called out, the rugged older man waving lazily at Shirou from his spot on the couch, an open bottle of bourbon & a shot glass placed before him "You're back late…something hold you up at work?"

"Not exactly…" Shirou muttered distantly, pulling off his wet clothes as he went, wondering whether or not he should inform his caretaker of what happened even as he wiped himself down with a towel.

On the one hand, it was clear Azazel wasn't human, and something about the man, whenever he wasn't fixated on the latest addition to his ever-growing 'collection', made it clear he knew more than he let on. On the other hand, how exactly did one broach the subject of how they intervened in a fight between a crazed Church Executioner & a non-human that ended in the destruction of a Holy Sword?

"Hm? What's this?" Azazel mused, pausing mid-drink, his relaxed expression belied by his sharp, inquisitive eyes as he glanced at the plastic bag lying next to Shirou's sodden book-bag "Picked up something interesting did we?"

"You could say that…" Shirou admitted, deciding to just go wing it and hope for the best, the faker setting the bag down on the coffee table before his caretaker, who looked on in silence as the shards of the Holy Sword were revealed "Don't suppose you'd know anything about this?"

"Quite a bit, actually." Azazel admitted, his amused tone belying the sudden shift in the air around them, Shirou tensing as the man reached down to pick up the handle, only to relax with a sigh as the blade didn't seem to react all as Azazel looked it over with a craftsman's eye "Enough to know it shouldn't be here in Japan…" he glanced up at Shirou "Or in pieces for that matter."

"I ran one of my classmates being attacked by some lunatic who claimed to have killed a priest." Shirou explained, Azazel's eyes narrowing at the mention of a murder so close by "I think his name was 'Free' something."

"Freed Sellzen…" Azazel muttered, his tone laced with exasperation and what sounded like disappointment as he shook his head "I wish I could say I'm surprised, but honestly this is exactly the kind of thing I'd expect his name to turn up."

"You know him?" Shirou asked rhetorically, as Azazel had proven to be highly informed in matters pertaining to the Vatican despite his assurances that he wasn't affiliated with them. 'If I were to ever set foot in a Chapel, they'd probably drive me off.' had been his exact words, though Shirou had noted a hint of underlying bitterness when he'd said it.

"By reputation if nothing else." Azazel confirmed, his expression tired as he set the hilt of the blade back on the table "He was considered the most promising exorcist of his generation; there were even those who proclaimed him a 'Genius'." He scoffed "Problem wasn't what you'd call the most…pious of disciples. He never believed in God to begin with and only enlisted so he could kill with impunity."

"And they let someone like that become an Executor?" Shirou demanded, though truth be told, given how Kirei turned out, he probably shouldn't be surprised by the Church's low standards. Alternate Worlds be damned.

"Why not?" Azazel shrugged dismissively as he poured himself a shot "Who better to turn on the Heathens & Devils than someone with an Axe to grind?" he set the bottle aside with a sigh "Truth be told, the problems didn't really start until some genius decided to use him as a test subject for the Holy Sword Program." He paused mid-sip "Tell me, Shirou, are you familiar with the legend of Excalibur?"

"Intimately." Shirou scoffed, unable to help the wry smirk that adorned his features "It's the Strongest Holy Sword, entrusted to King Arthur by the Lady of the Lake." he recited, as if challenging the man to contradict him, "It was later returned to her hand by Sir Bedivere following the King's fall at Camlann."

"That's the official version, yes." Azazel confirmed, neither reacting to the Faker's challenge nor denying a word of it "The truth of the matter, however, is that during the battle with Mordred, Excalibur was destroyed."

Shirou grimaced but said nothing, his fists clenching as he stared down at the shards of Rapidly on the table before them. If he hadn't gazed upon the Holy Sword, hadn't glimpsed its history when it was recorded into his Inner World, he probably would've denied Azazel's words with the same intensity with which he'd rejected the world when Ilya had died before his eyes.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on who you ask, the Church managed to recover the fragments, and through trial, error & the use of Alchemy, managed to reforged them into Seven Lesser Holy Swords, which were distributed among the three main branches of Christianity." Azazel continued "However, it takes a rare kind of individual to wield a True Holy Sword. Even reduced as they were, without someone capable of wielding them, the Seven Excaliburs may as well have been glorified paperweights as far as the Church was concerned."

"I'm guessing that was the basis behind the Holy Sword Program?" Shirou deduced, his eyes ochre narrowing in confirmation as Azazel actually scowled, as if he'd recalled something distasteful.

"That was the premise by which it was founded, yes." The man muttered, his expression grim as he emptied his glass and poured another shot "The Project Director, Archbishop Valper Galilei, had always been obsessed with Holy Swords, Excalibur in particular, so when he learned the truth of what happened to the blade, he was equal parts distraught & delighted." He chuckled at Shirou's look of disbelief "I know, right? Who in their right mind would consider Excalibur's destruction a good thing? Thing is, when he learned of the new blades, Valper secretly hoped one of them would choose him as its new wielder."

"I'm guessing that wasn't the case." Shirou deadpanned, earning a snort from Azazel, the Faker honestly more sickened at the thought of such a man being deemed 'worthy' of wielding an Excalibur than he'd been watching Freed wield Rapidly.

"Nope!" Azazel agreed cheerfully, looking decidedly chipper for some reason Shirou couldn't explain, yet strangely felt he could relate to "He didn't take being rejected too well, though mind you even I'd be hurt if I was turned down seven times in rapid succession."

"Unfortunately, his depression did little to waylay his admiration for Excalibur and those deemed worthy of wielding one." Azazel muttered, his good humour vanishing as he stared into his cup "As time passed and the Church's search for those capable of wielding the new Excaliburs continued to turn up blanks, that admiration turned into an obsession, culminating in Valper, who had become an Archbishop by that point, proposing a plan to speed up the process. I won't go into the details, but the short version is that he experimented on those who showed some ability to wield lesser Holy Swords, in order to determine just what it was that made them able to do so."

"He sounds more like a Magus than a Priest…" Shirou muttered, having learned long ago from Kiritsugu and his interactions with Rin & Kirei just what kind of mind-set was needed for one to be considered a First Class Magus by the association. True Magi held few scruples, favouring an 'End Justifies The Means' approach, provided of course that said means didn't broach on research into Vampirism or expose the existence of Magecraft, and even that was only out of a desire to avoid confrontation with the Holy Church.

"Mm, well there's a thin line between 'Wisdom' and 'Insanity'…" Azazel mused, no doubt referring to the biblical definition of a Magi as Wise-Men "Sadly, as much as they'd like to claim he went mad, the truth is Valper was in complete control of his sensibilities when he decided to do away with his test subjects after his research failed to produce the desired results." He chugged back his drink with a sigh "Needless to say, he was excommunicated as a heretic by the Church."

"But not before making use of his research up to that point, right?" Shirou muttered, his expression grim as he held Azazel's gaze "I can't imagine any other reason that Freed would be able to even touch an Excalibur otherwise."

"Sharp as always." Azazel mused, nodding his head approvingly as he poured himself yet another drink "On the surface, Valper was denounced as 'The Genocidal Archbishop' and was forced to go into hiding to avoid being executed for his crimes." He set the glass aside "However, while they publicly denounce the incident as 'Heresy', the fact remained that Valper's research had greatly improved their understanding of the requirements necessary to wield a True Holy Sword, namely that the wielder's body contain a strong Light Attribute."

'Could he be referring to their Origin?' Shirou wondered, his features grim as he pooled over what little he knew on the subject. A person's Origin was the starting point that defines their existence and directs their actions throughout life, a driving force from within the Akashic Record, often referred to as a person's instinct.

Those who awaken their Origin, intentionally or otherwise, become almost unable to stray from it, and there were even those who believed a person's origin & death were related. While Kiritsugu hadn't been particularly religious, typically going through the motions in order to keep up appearances, he'd nonetheless drilled the importance of a person's origin into Shirou, in particular the effect it could have on a person's Magecraft, to the point even someone like Shirou, with his sup-par Magic Circuits, unusual Elemental Affinity & lack of talent could become a Magus.

While Shirou was quite content with his skillset, and had been even before Lancer had gouged his heart out that night so long ago, for those less fortunate, it was possible to alter, or even outright change a person's origin, though from Kiritsugu's explanation, the process bore considerable risk.

'It would explain Freed's bizarre behaviour…' he muttered, recalling the light of insanity that had burned in the Exorcist's eyes even as he'd struggled to block Shirou's blows 'Having his origin changed to the point he could wield a Holy Sword must've snapped his mind.'

"In the end, the church had their Holy Swords and the means to wield them, so they were content to sweep the whole incident under the rug." Azazel continued, his tone dismissive "Though from what I understand, there's still a considerable bounty out on Valper's head, and he's considered Persona Non Grata by just about all of Christendom." He glanced down at the shards of Rapidly "I suppose it makes sense he'd flee to Japan, I can't think of any other reason for Freed being able to wield an Excalibur…" he scoffed wryly "I can only imagine his face when he finds out Freed broke it."

"Ah…you think the church will be mad?" Shirou muttered, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly as he debated whether or not to admit to breaking the blade. On the one hand, letting Freed take the flack could push the Church into dealing with the maniac before he killed again.

On the other hand, Shirou somehow knew instinctively that, the moment he revealed his Magecraft to Azazel, everything would change. It wasn't that he didn't trust Azazel, well, not entirely; the man had his own secrets after all. It was simply that part of being a Magus was keeping the existence of Magecraft on a need-to-know basis.

To date, Azazel hadn't asked him any pertinent questions, despite clearly possessing knowledge of the Moonlit World and having all the reason to do so. As such, Shirou had resolved that, should the man ever ask, he'd tell him everything, but not a second sooner.

"Mad?" Azazel scoffed "Try Apoplectic. Bad enough an Excalibur was stolen in the first place, destroying one would probably send the Pope into fits." He chuckled at Shirou's alarmed expression "I'm just kidding, Shirou. While the fact the sword was destroyed might upset them, they'd actually prefer that to the alternative of it remaining in the possession of the likes of Freed and Valper."

'Rapidly certainly felt so…' Shirou concurred, recalling the feeling of rejection the Holy Sword had been emanating towards Freed, only to trail off with a grimace as his arm spasmed 'Shit not now-!'

"Oi, Shirou, you okay?" Azazel wondered, eyeing the redhead in concern as he gripped his shoulder, Shirou's vision swimming as he turned to regard his benefactor, the world tilting sharply before he fell into the burning darkness.

"Oi, Shirou!" Azazel barked, lunging to his feet, one hand coming up to steady the teen as he fell over, still clutching his left arm, the Governor-General of the Grigori's eyes narrowing at the limb concealed beneath a Holy Shroud.

He'd known from the moment they met that there was something odd about Emiya Shirou. Holy Shroud aside, the kid had a yard-long stare he'd seen countless times before, on war veterans and the survivors of great tragedies, or simply glaring back at him whenever he looked in a mirror.

Eyes like that had no place in the head of someone that young in this day and age. Fallen he may be, but unlike many of his subordinates, Azazel never blamed Humanity for his fall, and indeed retained his initial fascination with them. It was for this reason he'd been the first to propose a cease-fire, and it was for this reason the current chain of events was beginning to incite his old anger.

'First Raynare and her cell and now Freed and Valper.' he muttered, glaring at the remains of the Holy Sword of Heavenly Flare with distaste 'Damn it all Kokabiel, just what the hell are you planning?'

Second Chapter!

For those of you wondering, yes, there is a reason Shirou is fixating so much on the Excalibur Sword that will become apparent as time goes on. Also, the reason he attacked Freed is equal parts him responding to Rapidly's hatred for the Exorcist & his own mind processing the fact the sword is supposedly an 'Excalibur'.

Also, no, Sakura will not be showing up, nor will Saber & Rin. As previously established, Shirou killed Saber Alter with Rin's Azoth Dagger & both Sakura & rin are dead, so if those three do show up, it'll mostly be for cameos.

No. Shirou does not know Azazel is the Governor General of the Fallen Angels, nor has he met Vali or any of Azazel's fellow Fallen, as Azazel prefers his privacy.

Don't expect another chapter too soon. I'm taking my time getting back in the saddle.