[LV 15 - 1570/15000]
[HP: 1500][MP: 35][MC: 27][ST: 600][PT: 15]
[STR: 30][DEX: 30][INT: 20][WIS: 30][CHR: 44]

That afternoon, Shirou ventured outside the boundaries of Fuyuki City by himself for the first time. The Busujima School of Kendo was located in the midst of the woods. Shirou had to switch buses twice just to reach the place where the main road met the unpaved trail that supposedly led to the dojo.

Even calling it a trail was too much of a stretch. It was just a small patch of dirt where the grass didn't grow that disappeared behind the trees not five meters away from the main road. Honestly, if he hadn't been told it was there, he didn't think he would've been able to find it.

Oh, well. It wasn't such a big deal anyway. Martial artists of a high caliber had a tendency of keeping out of the way, where they wouldn't be disturbed by the distraction of the modern era.

Shirou fearlessly stepped onto the trail and into the woods. Two minutes into the walk, and it was almost like night had already fallen. The trees were so thick and the foliage so dense that only the barest amount of sunlight managed to pass through. The temperature also dropped several degrees and chills begun to run up his spine.

Something was very wrong in this place. Shirou didn't know what it was but he was certain that something was amiss.

[As result of a special action you have learned: Sense the Unnatural]

[SENSE THE UNNATURAL - LV. 1: 1%] : Sometimes, things around you aren't as they should be and you can tell right away. Detects supernatural influences in a ten meter radius.

Shirou's eyes widened, not so much because he had acquired a new skill, but because there was something supernatural within ten meters from him.

He reached for the bokuto he had strapped onto his backpack and pulled it out in one swift motion, naturally adopting the stance of the [Master Swordplay - Japanese Style]. He stood there for a long minute, waiting for something to happen.

[Sense the Unnatural has reached Lv. 2 - Max Distance increased to 20 meters]

The prompt appeared after about ten minutes of him standing there focusing on his surroundings.

He was being stupid, he told himself. This was Fuyuki City, after all. A place where leylines met and spirits gathered on their own. Furthermore, it was far away from the majority of the presences of the surrounding humans, and in all likelihood, the leyline was much closer to the surface in this area anyway.

It wasn't just because of the isolated position that martial artists retreated to the mountains to hone their skills. He decided to keep going, but kept his wooden sword at the ready just the same.

[Sense the Unnatural has reached Lv. 3 - Max Distance increased to 30 meters]

The feeling of wrongness had not changed in the least even as his sense expanded, further confirming that it was the place itself that radiated supernatural vibes. He was starting to relax when -


Something snapped in the woods somewhere to Shirou's left, and he froze in place. He breathed once, twice, and thrice, but there was only absolute silence.

That was not good. A forest is never completely silent. There were usually all manner of animals and insects around the place, each of them with their own distinctive noises. The only time when they would go completely still was when something scared them into motionlessness.

Once more, Shirou stood just as still as the forest's fauna, focusing his senses in the direction of the noise.

[As result of a special action you have learned Sense Presence]

[SENSE PRESENCE Lv.1 - 1%] Even when you can't see anyone you are not alone and you know it. Allows the detection of people and animals in a 10 meter radius.

[PRESENCE DETECTED. Distance: 0.2 meters. Direction: 6 o'clock.]

Without thinking and without turning, Shirou inverted the grip on his bokuto and thrust it backwards, brushing against his right side.


His blow was deflected to the side, unbalancing him. Instead of trying to regain his footing, he took advantage of the momentum and rolled on the ground, turning in the direction of his assailant, weapon at the ready.

"My, my," she said with a tinge of slight amusement. "Shotaka-dono did tell me to expect a prodigy, but I did not anticipate this kind of reaction from a boy your age."

Shewas a girl of about seventeen years of age, clad in a typical high-school uniform save for the skirt, which was considerably longer than the standard issue. She had, long purple hair that reached all the way to the small other back. She was taller than the average Japanese woman, and just as well-endowed.

The shirt clung to her generous breast snugly, while her skirt hinted at the toned shapes lingering just beneath it. Even to a ten-year-old boy, this young woman could only be considered beautiful. A beauty further enhanced by the stern, yet kind expression she wore on her face.

[LV. ?]

"Emiya Shirou, I assume?"

"Ah, yes," he stuttered. "You must be Busujima-sensei, then. Thank you for having me." He bowed.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Emiya-kun. Forgive me for startling you."

"It's alright." He shook his head. "I imagine it was meant as test of some sort?"

"Indeed. It is unusual for Shotaka-dono to send someone my way, especially a person so young. I was...skeptic, I admit, but I can see why he recommended you so strongly. You are quite the little prodigy, aren't you?"

Shirou blushed. "Ah, it's nothing. I can't really take any credit for something I haven't really worked for."

"Ah, modest too," she chuckled. "Such a rarity."

Shirou blushed even further and fidgeted in place.

"Well then, come along Emiya-kun. Follow me closely. It's very easy to become lost in this forest. Make sure to memorize the path for the future, hm?"

"Yes, Busujima-sensei," he replied obediently, following after her.

As they walked, he took notice of her appearance and how she moved. Her steps were nearly silent and the way she shifted her weight from one foot to another was flawless and smooth. Certainly, she was a person of great skill, which probably accounted for the fact that he could not read her level with his Gamer eyes. In most RPGs (and in real life to be honest) it's very difficult to gauge the true strength of someone of much greater ability.

Shirou knew, then, that he could learn a lot from this person.

Thirty minutes of walking at a brisk pace and several intersections later, they arrived in a clearing in the forest, where a traditional Japanese building had been erected.

"Do you live here, Busujima-sensei?" he asked.

"Yes. This land has belonged to my family for generations. It is quite removed from civilization, but I like the quiet."

"It must be tiring going to school every morning from here."

"It is...inconvenient at times, yes, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Come, make yourself at home. Would you like some tea?"

"I wouldn't want to impose."

"Nonsense. If you are to be my student, this will be your place as much as it is my own."

She showed him inside the house and into the living room, where they sat together to have tea. Shirou looked around surreptitiously and his eyes met the pictures of a man and a woman high up against the wall.

"My parents," she said, confirming his suspicions. "They passed away in an accident a few years ago."

"My condolences," he offered. "So, you live here all by yourself?"

"Indeed. Why? Do you think I'm too young to live on my own?" she asked with a certain amount of teasing.

"Not at all. My last living relative passed away a little over a month ago from an illness. Since then, I have been living on my own, too."

Her eyes went wide. Such a young boy living all on his own.

"I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything you need help with?"

Shirou smiled. "You are very kind, sensei, but you don't need to worry. My appointed guardian lives just next door from me and she checks up on me regularly. Plus, my father was big on self-reliance and taught me all I needed to know before he passed away. His death didn't exactly come as a surprise."

"I...see," she said after a moment. "You are quite the trooper, aren't you?" She smiled thinly.

Shirou scratched his head and shrugged. "I just play the hand I'm dealt."

"As do we all. Very well. At this point we should discuss the terms of your apprenticeship."

"Alright." He nodded.

"Before we begin, I'd like to make something very clear. You are the youngest person yet to come to me looking for tutelage, but you are by far not the first."

"Yeah, I guessed as much. Do you think that my age will be an issue to the other students?"

"There are no other students, Emiya-kun. They have all, without exception, quit after a single day of training."

"Oh. Harsh much?" He grinned.

"Do you believe I'm kidding, Emiya-kun?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No. You are dead serious, I can tell, but so what? They came looking for you for their own reasons and for their own reason they have given up. Either way, it has nothing to do with me."

"Is that confidence behind your words, or is it arrogance, I wonder?"

Shirou cocked his head. "Doesn't that depend on whether or not I see them through?"

A glimmer of amusement flickered in Saeko's eyes despite the stern frown she was putting on. This kid was too much.

"Well then, shall we see if that mettle of yours is the real deal?"

[NEW QUEST: The Painful Way of the Sword]
[Objective: Don't give up against Saeko]
[Reward: 5000XP, Relationship Status with Busujima Saeko: Disciple]
[Consequence for failure: 500XP, Relationship Status with Busujima Saeko: Victim]

"Bring it on."

[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]
[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]
[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]
[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]

Shirou was flung backward and rolled on the floor of the dojo. He stood back up in half a second, but it was more than enough for Saeko to be on him again.

She was giving him no quarter, no discounts on account of age. Shirou wouldn't have it any other way, but damn, it hurt like hell.

His [EXTREME PAIN TOLERANCE] negated pain from things that didn't do any actual damage and prevented loss of focus where it couldn't, but otherwise Shirou felt every single drop of pain.


He parried one blow after another but she was just so damn fast that, inevitably, she managed to deliver a hit in a matter of moments.

[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]

The bokuto connected with his ribs and sent him spinning. Even then, thanks to his prowess with the sword, he managed to retaliate. It was, however, entirely futile. Saeko parried, dodged and evaded masterfully.

[Master Swordplay - Japanese Style has reached Lv. 20]

At the very least, he was still progressing. Saeko was sticking to ordinary swordplay as opposed to whatever personal style she'd employ when not brutally weeding out perspective apprentices.

[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]

He recovered and charged again. This time, however, she hit his wrist and disarmed him before hitting him in the stomach

[CRITICAL HIT! You lost 20 HP]


"...That will be enough," she said, lowering her bokuto while eyeing him with a strange look. "You have definitely surpassed my expectations, Emiya-kun. I have brok- made most people give up in half the time. I'm afraid that at this rate, I won't be able to make you give up short of inflicting you with long-lasting injuries."

"That's...great," he coughed with some difficulty. "I can see why most people would quit. You certainly are a harsh mistress, sensei."

"Uh," Saeko blushed fiercely. "I suppose I am, aren't I?" She looked away with a troubled expression on her face.

"I'm sorry, did I offend you?"

"Oh? No, no. Not at all. Anyway, I think we can now formally agree that we are master and disciple. Welcome to the Busujima School of Kendo, Emiya-kun."

"Thank you for having me, sensei. I'm looking forward to learning under you."

"I'm, hm..." She fidgeted awkwardly in place. "I'm looking forward to teaching you."

[QUEST: The Painful Way of the Sword COMPLETE]
[Reward: 5000XP, Relationship Status with Busujima Saeko: Disciple]

Shirou cheered inwardly at the huge amount of XP. Granted, it was only a portion of the requirement for the next level but it was a huge step forward regardless. He certainly hadn't wanted to join the ranks of Busujima-sensei's victims.

"I think that will be enough for today. Let's set up a training schedule for the rest of the month, shall we?"

About an hour later, they had agreed to train two afternoons each week, plus one entire weekend every month. She refused payment, saying how it was her sworn duty to pass down the Busujima style.

Shirou returned home, more than satisfied with the agreement.

Saeko accompanied Shirou through the forest and to the bus stop, waving him off as the vehicle departed.

Honestly, Saeko didn't know what to make of him. His ability with a sword was incredible for a ten-year-old kid, but much more than that was his insane resilience. Several grown men and women with years of experience had come asking to learn the Busujima style, and she had beaten them all into submission without fail.

She shattered their pride and sent them scurrying back home mercilessly. Many of them were so utterly broken by the overwhelming defeat against a teenage girl that they had abandoned the sword altogether.

Then this kid came along, and no matter how much she had beaten him around, he just kept getting back up. Never once did he show the barest hint of giving up. Never once did he let out a frustrated cry.

He took the beating and charged back in the fray.

Saeko was divided about him. On one hand, she finally had a student with the backbone required to learn the Busujima style; on the other, however, she was...annoyed.

Busujima Saeko had a secret known only to herself; one that she could never share with anyone. She absolutely enjoyed shattering the pride of those men and women and having them crawl powerlessly on the ground at her feet.

It was unbefitting of a samurai, she knew, and the only reason why she ever allowed herself to be like that was because it was her duty to weed out the worthy from the unworthy. However, now that she had finally a capable student she could no longer indulge herself in such behavior.

Oh, well. She still had her other duties to perform. That night was going to be a full moon, after all. They would certainly come in droves.

Licking her lips predatorily, she returned home to prepare for the night.

Updated: 07/15/2016 - Last edited: 09/10/2016
Beta: Warellis, Akemi Homura-san