Merry Belated Christmas & Happy Belated New Years folks.

Let's hope 2020 gets better before it gets any worse eh?

If it's any consolation, one of my resolutions is to try and write more this year.

Hope it was worth the wait! Sorry if it wasn't.

Fake x Life Twenty-One: Revelations.

"Huh…did I overdo it?" Vali wondered, the White Dragon Emperor gazing down at the smouldering ruins of Kuoh Academy impassively as he lowered his arm. "They shouldn't have died from something that weak, right?"

"The younglings maybe, but not the Faction leaders." Albion noted impassively, the Vanishing Dragon not really caring one way or the other "If a sneak attack was all it took, someone would have offed them centuries ago."

"You'd know best I suppose." Vali conceded; his features impassive beneath his helmet as he gazed down at the destruction he had wrought upon the school building "You're not going to reprimand me?"

"Do you desire me to reprimand you?" Albion enquired, his solemn tone decidedly lacking in judgement "His proclivities aside, the Scapegoat wasn't wrong. There is no need for war in order to challenge strong opponents."

That was certainly true. As much as Vali insisted, he didn't care for the peace treaty, he could not deny the sense in Azazel's words. While battles to the death would likely be out of the question, that didn't mean he couldn't challenge people to officially sanctioned duels.

Hell, if they found a way to replicate the life-saving mechanic of the Rating Games, he could probably even challenge the faction leaders whenever they could fit the time into their busy schedules.

That and it wasn't as if the other pantheons would be so quick to sign up. The Abrahamic faiths hadn't earned themselves any favours over the past millennia, so he could have just as easily sated his desire for combat by taking down the more uppity challengers that would've crawled out of the woodwork to strike while their guard was down.

In short, there was little merit in Vali betraying Azazel. Truth be told, doing so after everything the Governor General had done for him left a foul taste in his mouth, something he'd come to expect whenever it came to anything associated with That Bastard.

"However, such things matter little to me as I am now." Albion continued, earning a quirked brow from his host "I care little what you do with my power, so long as it does not bring disgrace to my name."

"I suppose a Dragon who picked a fight with all three factions wouldn't care less if people saw him as a villain." Vali scoffed, only to blink as a flash of light pierced the smoke below, his lips parting in a feral smirk as a glowing pink barrier in the shape of a Sakura flower bloomed amidst the rubble "And what kind of villain would I be without a 'Hero' to oppose me?"


"Is everyone alright?" Shirou grit out from between clenched teeth, the Faker glaring into the smoke as he gripped his left arm with his right, his fingers extended outwards towards the glowing pink wall.

"We're fine, Shirou-kun." Sirzechs assured him, the Lucifer kneeling to help his Queen to her feet even as she insisted on checking him over for injuries "You can lower your barrier now."

Shirou did so with a sigh of relief, the Seven Rings that cover the Fiery Heavens vanishing into the ether as he lowered his palm. While his ability to trace higher-level Noble Phantasms had improved since his recovery from the battle with Kokabiel, tracing anything other than blades still took more effort than he preferred.

"Nice going Shirou." Azazel applauded, the Governor General looking decidedly unbothered by their near-death experience as he stood over a downed Cattelya "Was that another Noble Phantasm? Pretty sure I heard you shout something about Ajax, so I'm guessing that was one of his?"

"It's the strongest Defensive Noble Phantasm I can trace at the moment." Shirou confessed, which was technically true, for while Avalon was undoubtedly superior, the Ever-Distant Utopia could only defend a single person, whereas the Shield of Ajax was perfect for whenever you wanted to shove a fortress wall or seven between you and your opponent.

That, and something instinctive within Shirou was telling him it'd be a very bad idea to let them know he could recreate Avalon. While he had never done so himself, the ability wasn't outside his capabilities. Indeed, given how long it had been a part of him, there was probably no Noble Phantasm that Emiya Shirou could emphasize with more than The Ever-Distant Utopia.

"A weapon for every occasion eh? You're really something else kid." Azazel chuckled, shaking his head in approval even as he glanced up at the sky, his jovial smile never leaving his face even as he came face to visor with their attacker.

"So, Vali. Got anything to say for yourself?" he called out to his ward with a casual wave, as if the teen hadn't just tried to murder them all "If you tell me it was a joke I might just let you off by taking away your allowance."

"I won't ask for your forgiveness, Azazel." The White Dragon Emperor rebutted; his tone decidedly cavalier for someone who failed to assassinate his targets. If anything, he seemed almost pleased to see they had survived his sneak attack "This side simply seemed more interesting, that's all."

"Good grief, I really must be getting old if you could pull the wool over my eyes." Azazel chuckled, shaking his head self-mockingly "So just how long have you been planning to stab me in the back?"

"Not long, all things considered." Vali confessed with a shrug "Don't act so surprised, you've known how I felt about the peace treaty from the get go" he glanced over at the Seraphs "I simply decided to accept Ophis' proposal after Michael saw fit to bestow Ascalon unto Ddraig's host."

Ascalon: The Blessed Sword by Which Force is Slain.

The sword of the Greek-Born Roman Georgios, who would later become known as the Patron Saint of England, Saint George. While a Holy Sword in its own right, it only qualified as a B-Rank Noble Phantasm due to the fact its powers were more inclined towards defence rather than offense.

However, as Shirou had proven earlier with Gae Bolg, the rank of a Noble Phantasm rarely accurately displayed it's true worth and in the case of Ascalon said worth could only be truly revealed when wielded against opponents of Draconic origin.

With that in mind, Vali's sudden act of betrayal shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Indeed, from a purely strategical point of view you could make the argument that his betrayal was well and truly justified.

After all, how else could the White Dragon Emperor, himself a Half-Devil of powerful lineage, possibly interpret Heaven bestowing a weapon unto his Eternal Rival, The Red Dragon Emperor, that was not only tailor-made to murder him twice over, but also rendered said rival all-but-untouchable?

Indeed, looking in on the scene from the outside, it was only understandable why Vali would feel the need to wipe out the Faction Leaders & his destined rival in one fell-swoop, which is precisely why Shirou didn't buy into it for a second.

Were it anyone else that hosted Albion, Shirou could have accepted such maudlin reasoning for their betrayal, but given what he knew of Vali's personality it was clear there was more to the picture that they weren't seeing.

Put simply, Vali wouldn't have cared that Issei had been gifted Ascalon. If anything, he'd have approved the decision, boasting that his Oppai-obsessed 'Destined-Rival' needed all the help he could possibly get if he hoped to stand a snowball's chance in hell of becoming worthy of dying by his hand.

And it was clear that Shirou wasn't the only one with such thoughts in mind, for while most of his peers were glaring up at the Vanishing Dragon, the Faction leaders themselves seemed more skeptical, Sirzechs and Michael frowning in silent contemplation whereas Azazel's Devil-May-Care smirk never left his face.

"I never thought I'd see the day the Vanishing Dragon bowed his head to the Ouroboros Dragon." The Governor General mused "Just what was it Ophis promised you, Vali? It must have been pretty attractive if it got you to bend the knee."

"Don't misunderstand, I haven't sworn my allegiance to anyone." Vali scoffed, crossing his arms defiantly as he peered down at them "She simply promised to let me take a crack at Asgard if I helped her out."

"Good grief, this is what I get for giving you so much freedom growing up." Azazel sighed in exasperation even as Sirzechs and Michael stiffened at the very idea of the Norse Pantheon getting involved "Sorry you had to put up with such a battle-junkie, Cattleya. It must have been annoying for a woman of your breeding."

"On the contrary, it was rather refreshing to have someone so honest in their desires as an ally." Cattleya countered, grimacing as she allowed herself to be helped to her feet "The fact we were both denied our birth rights simply made it easier to entrust my back to him when the time came to invade."

"Birth rights?" Serafall repeated, the current Leviathan blinking in shock as she glanced between the bespectacled Old Satan and the White Dragon Emperor "Wait, you mean Vali-kun is a descendant of the Old Satans too?"

"It's not like I was hiding it." Azazel countered with a shrug, his expression never changing as four sets of Demonic Wings suddenly sprouted from Vali's back, prompting gasps of shock from those gathered below.

"My name is Vali Lucifer." The White Dragon Emperor declared imperiously from on high, the very air seeming to tremble at the sound of his name "Though my mother was a human, my father was a direct descendant of the Original Satan Lucifer."

"Lucifer…?" Sona gaped, drawing everyone's attention to the Sitri heiress, who up until now had been rendered immobile by the Time Stop "The White Dragon Emperor is a descendant of Lucifer?"

"I'm having a hard time believing it myself, Sona-kun." Sirzechs confessed, the Crimson Satan ignoring a relieved Serafall as she tackled her younger sister in a bone-crushing hug, instead gazing up at the Vali alongside an equally troubled Michael.

"To think that a descendant of Lucifer would obtain the power of a Heavenly Dragon…" the Seraph marveled, unable to deny Vali's claims due to the very presence of the wings adoring his back, a trait unique to Devils sired from his Fallen sibling.

"Can't say I don't see the funny side of it myself." Azazel confessed "The Half breed spawn of a Devil and a Human, normally the Old Satan Faction would've put you down just to save face, but you just so happened to have lucked out and been born with Albion's Sacred Gear…" he shook his head with a mocking smirk"Seriously, your very existence is a tragic comedy."

"I'd have gone with 'Miracle' personally, but to each their own." Vali quipped back, only to turn his attention to the side as the wall of the Old School Building exploded outwards, revealing the dusty forms of Rias, Issei, Koneko and Gasper, the latter two looking decidedly worse for wear "Ah, so that's where you were, Hyoudo Issei."

"Huh, Vali?" the perverted pawn blinked, his eyes widening in alarm as he looked away from Gasper, who was clutching onto Rias, in order to take in the state of the school "Whoa, what the hell did we miss?!"

"Nothing truly important." Vali scoffed, as if he hadn't just dropped the bombshell of the century on the Faction Leaders "I simply decided that I was done being held back by a philandering man-child whose only interest is in tinkering with his toys."

"Throwing Shemhazai's words back in my face…That's harsh, Vali." Azazel sighed, not even trying to deny the accusations "Still, I suppose it's my fault for letting you run about as you pleased until now…" he conceded, reaching into his coat and pulling out an ornate golden dagger "So I guess it's time to apply some tough love."

Judging the concept of creation…

A Holy Dagger, crafted by the Scapegoat in the Likeness of the Vanishing Dragon's Wings.

Hypothesizing the Basic Structure…

A Lance-like Golden Dagger, it's pommel capped with a Purple Soul-Gem.

Duplicating the Composite Materials…

Forged by the Scapegoat with the aid of the Evil Dragon.

Imitating the Production Process…

Designed with the intent of recreating the works of the Holy Father.

Sympathizing with the Experience of its Growth…

Yet for all its power, it paled in comparison to the Genuine Articles.

Reproducing the accumulated years…

Though only decades old, it was the Scapegoat's greatest success in centuries.

Excelling every manufacturing process…

The culmination of the contract between Azazel the Scapegoat and the Golden Dragon King:

"Balance Breaker!" Azazel declared, a flash of golden light obscuring his form as he took to the air on his twelve abyssal wings, fading away to reveal him encased in Plate Armor almost identical to Vali's, save that it shone with a golden radiance, a massive Spear of Light held in his hand "Down Fall Dragon Spear!"

As Azazel Transforms...

"Oh you have gotta be kidding me!" Issei proclaimed, the perverted pawn looking decidedly put out as he gaped up at Azazel in disbelief "Was there a Bargain Sale on Balance Breakers that I missed out on?! Why is it everyone else is able to pull it off without trying when I had to bust my balls just to get it to work for ten seconds against the Yakitori Bastard?!"

"It's because you're weak." Ddraig reminded him, causing his host to slump in despair "But even if you weren't, you only recently awakened your sacred Gear, whereas Albion's Host and the Holy Demon-swordsman have doubtless been honing their skills for years."

"I suppose that's true." Issei groused, still sore but willing to concede the point to his draconic partner as he glanced up at Azazel's armoured form "But I thought Sacred Gears could only be used by Humans, how is Azazel able to use one?"

"It's because it's a fake." Shirou cut in, earning a look of surprise from the others "It's one of Azazel's Artificial Sacred Gears, the only one that's worked out of countless failures, and even then, only because of the research he conducted into Divine Dividing."

"Way to spoil the big reveal, Shirou." Azazel pouted, or at least Shirou assumed he was pouting from his tone, the Governor General shaking his now armored head with a dismissive shrug "Still, it's as he said: this is simply my first success after untold failures."

"You really are incredible, Azazel!" Vali applauded; his tone decidedly more interested as he regarded the golden Armor adorning the Fallen with obvious approval "So, you finally got one to work, and here I thought Albion would have to demand retribution for all those invasive experiments of yours."

"Don't flatter yourself." Azazel scoffed, waving a hand dismissively "While I won't deny Divine Dividing was my main source of inspiration, it wasn't the only Dragon-Series Sacred Gear I studied to develop this little gem."

"I'm more surprised a pacifist like you actually managed to bring yourself to murder a Dragon to empower it." Vali countered, sounding honestly approving "I didn't think you had it in you, old man."

"See, that's the problem with you brats. You always think the only way to get what you want is through violence." Azazel sighed dismissively "I didn't kill any Dragons for my research, Fafnir and I simply entered into a mutually beneficial contract for the sake of my research."

"I thought I recognised that gaudy aura." Ddraig mused, the Welsh Dragon sounding torn between annoyance and being impressed with the Governor General's feat "Just what did you offer that stingy bastard to get him to agree to surrendering his soul?"

"Now, now, no need for insults, Welsh Dragon." Azazel chuckled "I'll have you know Fafnir-kun has actually mellowed out a bit since Odin revived him." He raised his hand in the air "That being said, as much as I enjoy being praised, I'm afraid I don't have the time, so try not to die, alright Vali?"

With that said he vanished, Vali's eyes barely having time to widen in alarm before he was forced to block a barrage of Holy Spears from on high, the White Dragon Emperor cursing as he spread his wings to dispel the spears, only to curse as Azazel hurled the one in his hand into his chest, sending him flying into the ground.

"Holy!" Issei swore, looking on in shock as Azazel, who up until now had come off as a quirky but otherwise affable oddball, proceeded to hand the virtually unstoppable Vali his ass six ways from Sunday with seemingly little difficulty "Was Azazel always this strong?"

"Don't let his personality fool you." Rias warned her Pawn, her expression grim as she watched the battle unfold between the two armoured warriors "Despite his recent pacifist stance, he wouldn't have been chosen to lead the Grigori without having the power to back up his words."

"Indeed, for all his faults, Azazel was never lacking when it came to raw power." Michael confirmed with a solemn nod, the Seraph watching his Fallen brother with a hint of intrigue "While he lacked the battle-lust of Kokabiel or Baraqiel's mastery of Holy Lighting, he more than made up for it with his cunning, devising many tools and spells to facilitate the Grigori's, at the time, fledgling numbers."

"A trait that has seemingly improved of late." Sirzechs noted with approval, his eyes never leaving the Fallen's gold-clad form even as he kept Vali at bay with a swipe of his spear "To think he had actually managed to create a Sacred Gear capable of using Balance Breaker."

"That isn't a true Balance Breaker." Ddraig countered, drawing everyone attention to the crimson gauntlet adorning Issei's left arm "All he did was force that Fake Gear to Awaken by overloading it with his own power."

"It's like purposefully pushing an engine beyond its limits, or overloading a spell in order to increase the output." Shirou added by way of explanation "It'll boost his overall power for a while, at the cost of destroying the Gear when the battle is over."

In a sense, Azazel's use of the Down Fall Dragon Spear was almost identical to Archer's use of Broken Phantasms. While most Heroic Spirits would hesitate to destroy their Noble Phantasms, the very nature of Unlimited Blade Works meant that EMIYA, and Shirou by proxy, could do so with much more freedom.

Indeed, given how their projections suffered a loss in rank, 'Breaking' them to use as projectiles was often the best way to up their destructive potential.

"It's as the boy says; Azazel is sacrificing the life-span of his Sacred Gear to force it into a Pseudo-Balance Breaker." Ddraig confirmed with what sounded like a disapproving growl "Honestly, does he intend for all Artificial Gears to be disposable?"

"No, he just hasn't worked out the kinks yet." Shirou dismissed with a shake of his head "You can tell from the enchantments he's placed over Fafnir's soul gem to prevent it from being destroyed when the Spear Breaks. He fully intends to perfect it someday."

"Doesn't look like he needs it." Issei noted blandly, eyeing the admittedly awesome battle between the two in awe, though perhaps it would be better to call it a one-sided beatdown, as no matter how hard he tried, Vali couldn't seem to land a blow on Azazel, the Governor General sending him crashing into the ground beneath a hail of Light Spears.

As the dust settles...

"Albion's power is certainly impressive." Azazel applauded, watching from on-high as Vali pulled himself out of the dirt "Against anyone else you've have been nigh unstoppable, but I've had years to study your abilities. I know your next move before you've even considered it."

"I knew letting you study Albion would come back to bite me in the ass." Vali chuckled, the descendant of Lucifer clearly enjoying himself despite his words "You can read me like a book, can't you?"

"Don't flatter yourself, you're not that complex." Azazel scoffed as he crossed his arms "I mean, did you seriously expect me to believe that yarn about Ophis making you a better deal?"

"Ok, I'm totally lost here." Issei confessed, the Red Dragon Emperor looking between the armored warriors in understandable confusion before glancing down at his Boosted Gear for answers "Who the hell is Ophis?"

"Ophis, the Ouroboros Dragon." Ddraig responded solemnly "Otherwise known as the Dragon God, she is without question the Strongest Dragon in Existence. Even Albion and I working together couldn't compare to her when she's holding back."

"And apparently she's the leader of the Faction that attacked us today." Sirzechs supplied dutifully, earning a look of alarm from his sister and her Pawn "She's apparently managed to sway the White Dragon Emperor to her side as well."

"Though judging from Azazel's hypothesis, it's possible he did not do so willingly." Michael calmly pointed out, the Seraph looking troubled "I must confess, I find myself wondering just what kind of tactics she used to do so."

"Knowing Vali? She probably would've offered him a fight on the grounds he bent the knee once she beat his ass into the ground." Azazel scoffed knowingly "Hell if you'd said that from the onset I'd have certainly believed it more than you accepting her offer without taking a swing at her."

"But that's not what happened, is it, Vali?" he continued to press the White Dragon Emperor, who throughout this entire exchange had remained uncharacteristically silent "No, something else must have happened to make you bend the knee without so much as suggesting you fight it out."

"And what does it matter if there was?" Vali demanded as he took to the sky once more, his glowing wings spread wide "This ambush may have failed, but in the end, they only got this far because I betrayed you." He scoffed self-mockingly "There's no going back from here, Azazel."

"Just stand down, Vali." The Governor General commanded, his tone that of a father used to dealing with a stubborn child rather than a leader trying to talk down a subordinate "I don't know what they have on you, but even without my Balance Breaker, you couldn't hope to take on Sirzechs, Michael and I on your lonesome."

"True…even I'm not so arrogant as to believe I could defeat the faction leaders on my own." Vali conceded, his wings spreading wide as he raised his gauntlets to his face "However, Azazel, I have never been alone from the moment of my birth. Albion."

"I stand ready, Vali." The Vanishing Dragon responded, the gems on Divine Dividing glowing in response to his voice "If this is to be our end, then I can think of no finer opponents save perchance Ddraig."

"I'd have preferred to wait as well, but it would appear the current Red Dragon Emperor was unable to live up to our expectations." Vali concurred, sending a dismissive glare towards Issei "Perhaps your next host will be more fortunate in his choice of rivals."

"Though I doubt they would be as agreeable." Albion opined, sounding almost wistful "It is not too late to reconsider, you know? Once you allow yourself to be consumed-"

"You know better than anyone that it was too-late for me the moment I was born." Vali replied ominously, the blue gems on his Armor lighting up as he began to chant "I, who am about to awaken, am the Dragon who stole the principles of supremacy from God-!"

"Hey, Vali!" Azazel called out, the Governor General's eyes widening in alarm even as Vali's demonic power surged to new heights "Don't tell me…you'd go that far?!"

"This is bad." Sirzechs noted, the Crimson Satan appearing at the Governor General's side even as Michael appeared at his other "He's entering Juggernaut Drive."

"Tell me something I don't know!" Azazel snapped, grimacing as his Golden Armor vanished, leaving a single purple gem that he snatched out of the air "Dammit, didn't think he'd respond to being cornered like this."

"Regardless of intent, we cannot allow him to finish his transformation." Michael proposed, the Seraph raising his hand to summon spears of light even as Sirzechs' hands filled with his power of destruction "I will not ask you to strike him down brother, but I cannot allow him to endanger the lives of those below."

"Dammit-!" Azazel swore, moving to summon his own spears only to pause as he sensed something below, his eyes widening at the sight of a familiar Redhead lunging towards the Vanishing Dragon, his hand gripping the cloth that bound his left arm "Shirou! Don't-!"

T͍͚̠̤̦̫̞̂͐̀̾͌̅̂h͔ͧ̓͗̊ͣ̒E̬̬͚̠̱̮ͬ̃ͨ͌͝i̶̘̟͔̞̬͔͊̍̍̍r̗̂͗̚ ̷̣͚̹̘͔̭̫B͓͕͆̈́͛͒̂ͬ͌ȯ̤̣̭͓D͓̩ͫ̍y͖̱͉͓ͬ̓ ̘͖͍̮̻ͫͯ̋̎̏̔ͅI̷̻͛ͦ̿̌̽̾s̘̗̙͕͕ͤ̆͛ͮ̎ͮ̏͞ ̷̘̤̯M͓͐a̛̠̜̦̬̻̗͋̆D̘̝̩̙̣͙͇̃̓̆͌̽e̟͓̟͙̭̅̏ͅ ̛̤͇̘͍͑͌̌Ó̟̓f̞̺̭͕̣̦ͪ͌ͫ̇̐̚ͅ ̞͈͓̝̹̼̞ͫ̊̎̃́̓̎S̲̝̠͉̈w̟̼͇̥̪̃͛͜O̺̪ͯ͒̕ṛ̟͎͍ͮ̏̓ͣͥḎ̇̇̈́̅̾͞s̲͙ͮ̿̄͆̑̔ͮ-̤̖̤̣̥̆ͬ͞!̤̦̭͔̩͍̼͝

He Cannot be allowed to finish.

Such were the thoughts that encompassed Shirou's mind as Vali began his chant, the Faker's body moving instinctively even as the rest of his peers stood overwhelmed in the face of the menacing aura the descendant of Lucifer was giving off.

While lacking the instinctive terror of Sirzech's power of Destruction, the power Vali was drawing upon was still ominous enough to trigger the Faker's Flight or Fight response, and while Emiya Shirou would never allow a potential threat to endanger innocent lives, this particular threat only hardened his resolve.

That has no place in this world.

Indeed, it had been a long time since he'd encountered it, but even to this day he still woke up in a cold sweat at the memory of that ever-cloying darkness, of the countless voices calling out in agony, reaching out to tear the living to shreds with their burning resentment.

It may not be as potent as the malice that had festered within the corrupted Fuyuki Grail, but there was no denying the similarity between this dark, curse-ridden power Vali had tapped into and the mass of Curses that embodied All The World's Evils.

It cannot be allowed into this world!

At the edge of his hearing, he swore he could detect the sound of people calling out to him, but he ignored them, so focused on his task, so determined to see it through, that he couldn't permit himself to acknowledge their presence lest they distract him.

He could not allow for any distractions. The slightest opening is all that would be required for either side to fail, and even a moment's hesitation could cost him precious seconds he needed to pull what he needed from the Hill of Blades.

"I am the bone of my sword-!"

The words that were carved into his very soul ignited, stoking the flames of his inner-world even as the seal that kept it from mingling with Archer's weakened, the sound of hammering steel and the scent of iron ash filling his mind as the massive cogwheels slowly began to grind against one another.

Normally such an act would have been tantamount to suicide, for while they shared similar origins, literally and figuratively, Shirou's path had strayed from that of EMIYA, so even as the Counter Guardian's World sought to envelop Shirou's own, those subtle differences would cause the two to tear at one another.

"Steel is my Body, and Fire is my Blood-!"

Indeed, even if he hadn't strayed from the path of a Hero of Justice, there was no guarantee unleashing the Artificial Phantasm wouldn't have been fatal. If anything, it was far more likely his Inner World would have been completely subsumed by that of Archer's with far less resistance.

However, not of that mattered now. Here, in this moment, the Worlds of Emiya Shirou and the Counter Guardian EMIYA were operating in complete alignment, the massive Gears that dominated the skies overhead interlocking in perfect unison as they sought to bring about the end of All The World's Evil.

"I have created over a Thousand Blades-!"

Over a Thousand Blades Forged to Defeat Over a Thousand Foes.

Over a Thousand Battlefields Conquered to Prevent Thousands more from Forming.

Over a Thousand Lives Taken to Save Countless others in need.

Over a Thousand Regrets Embodied by the Scars that marred his Re-Forged Heart of Glass.

Such was the life of the man who had become EMIYA, the nameless Hero of Justice whose sole desire was to save as many people as he could. He sought neither praise nor reward, not once did he try to make himself understood, only advancing ever onwards towards the fulfillment of his borrowed dream.

"Sacrificing Everything…Gaining Nothing."

And in the end, that very dream had broken him, twisted his ideals under the yoke of the Counter Guardian, leaving him with nothing but regrets and Hill of Swords.

Normally, it would be impossible for Emiya Shirou to emphasize with his counterpart. It was simply impossible for the naive boy who inherited Kiritsugu's impossible dream to accept the Counter Guardian as the culmination of his efforts to achieve it.

But such was not the case for the current Emiya Shirou. Indeed, having betrayed and been betrayed by his ideals in his own way, he was probably the closest analogue to Archer, to the point the resistance between their Worlds was nigh-imperceptible, just strong enough to prevent him being devoured instantly.

But that was fine. All he required was a single, solitary moment from which he could draw the necessary blade from the Hill.

Judging the concept of creation…

A magnificent cursed Holy Sword that alters itself to best suit the wielder;

Hypothesizing the Basic Structure…

A two-handed, golden great sword, the hilt set with a blue jewel that boasts a magnificence and enormity;

Duplicating the Composite Materials…

Crafted by inhuman hands, it bears the legacy of the Dawn of Ruin;

Imitating the Production Process…

The Treasured sword of the Nibelungen, awarded to the hero for services rendered;

Sympathizing with the Experience of its Growth…

Wielding Ether from the Age of Gods, it was used to strike down the Sky Demon;

Reproducing the accumulated years…

Though it's master met an ignoble end, it claimed revenge through the hands of those who loved him;

Excelling every manufacturing process…

Let the Evil Dragons fall before the Advent of Twilight, Let fill the Phantasmal Greatsword-

"BALMNUNG!" Shirou cried out, his ochre eyes blazing as they locked onto Vali's, the White Dragon Emperor's own eyes widening in shock, and perhaps anticipation, as the Faker leapt towards him, using both hands to swing the Greatsword of Siegfried in an attempt to cleave the Battle Junkie's head from his shoulders.

"I think not."

Shirou blinked, his instincts screaming at him to call of the attack, bringing the Phantasmal Greatsword across his body to block a sudden strike to the chest that would have cleaved him open from shoulder to hip, his eyes widening as they locked onto the offending blade.

Judging the concept of creation…

A Radiant and Brilliant Royal Sword that symbolizes the right of succession;

Hypothesizing the Basic Structure…

An ornate, sparkling white sword more dazzling than any silver, adorned with splendid decorations;

Duplicating the Composite Materials…

Comparable in worth to the sword of Selection, it amplifies the authority of the king's royal aura.

Imitating the Production Process…

The Sword that proclaims Sovereignty over Gallia;

Sympathizing with the Experience of its Growth…

Sister to the Flower that Proclaims Sovereignty over Europe;

Reproducing the accumulated years…

Stolen by the Knight of Betrayal, it stuck the final blow against the Once and Future King;

Excelling every manufacturing process…

And yet, at long last, it finds itself in worthy hands, may it's returned luster shine as proof of his right to rule-!

"Forgive the intrusion." A cultured voice apologized in flawless Japanese, snapping Shirou out of his analysis, the Faker's ochre eyes widening as he found himself gazing into a familiar pair of flawless blue eyes framed by blonde hair, the sole difference being they rested behind a pair of spectacles "But I'm afraid I cannot allow you to kill Vali just yet."

And we'll just leave off there for now.

Here's hoping things pick up as the year moves on!

Lord knows we don't want it to get any worse.