CHAPTER 1:


"The specter that has haunted magecraft, practically since its inception, has been the ever approaching threat of stagnation. It is certainly true that entire fields of the craft have become almost impossible in recent centuries. You could argue with some force that ultimately, magecraft will fade into meaninglessness and that any attempt to escape this destiny is mere vanity. If you are one who would argue in such away, let me tell you now: you are a pathetic creature barely worthy to be called a magus. Magi, by definition, are a class of being whose sole purpose is to pursue the unattainable, to achieve the impossible."


"Master, wake up." The voice was flat and toneless. Waver cracked an eye open from his position on the sofa and frowned.

"Master, wake up." The voice was accompanied now by a slight poke.

Waver sighed heavily and sat up. He had been up too late again, but what else could be expected? There was much to do, and he had only a few weeks before the Grail War started properly. He suppressed a yawn. At least he had managed to find an apartment that had a sofa. "Gray, what time is it?"

"You have half an hour before you miss the bus." Waver met with Gray's vibrant green eyes and winced. "I can't wear the hood to school, master." Gray stated apologetically.

Of course she wouldn't be able to wear the hood while they were doing reconnaissance. He should have expected that. Japanese schools had uniforms, after all, and a hood wasn't something they let you wear in a normal school anyway. He fumbled for his cigar case. "Sorry for the short notice. When did you get in?"

"Late last night. I noted that you had already keyed me into the bounded field so I let myself in." She paused. "The bed was empty so I slept there. I take it that the large man on the futon is your servant?"

Waver cut off the end of a cigar and lit it. "Correct." He pulled in a breath of smoke and then exhaled slowly. "Well, technically he's our servant. I have the command seals, but you're ponying up more mana for him than I am."

Gray simply nodded. Waver regarded her for a long moment. "You should meet him before we head out. Let's go take care of that now."

"Master..." She frowned. "Don't you need to..."

"I slept in my clothes, and I'll smell like cigars whether or not I get a shower in. This is more important." He crossed the room and pushed the door open. "Rider. You wanted to meet the other master, right?"

Rider, who was dressed only in his boxers and a t-shirt, was already sitting up straight. "I heard her come in last night. All things considered I thought it better to wait until morning for introductions."

Gray bowed stiffly. "I am Gray, co-master with Lord El Melloi II." She paused awkwardly. "Lord El Melloi II is my master, though. That is to say, I'm his disciple."

Waver nodded. "She's your master, I'm hers, and you're mine. We should all be able to get along famously."

"A clear hierarchy is essential to victory." Rider replied amiably. "So tell me, Master, what is the wish you have for the Grail?"

Gray frowned. "I don't have one. I wanted… to change, I suppose. I've been doing one thing for my whole life." She shrugged. "This is different, so I volunteered to assist my Master."

"Foolish! If it is a change that you want, take up a hobby! To wage war for so small a reason… Surely there is more you desire?"

Gray swallowed, blushing a little. She was conscious of deeper yearnings, but... "There's nothing that I'd care to be given by the grail."

Now Rider's face split into a smile. "Now there is an attitude I can get behind! Whatever your dreams are, I am glad to hear that they are so precious to you." He paused and regarded her more closely. "Waver, she does..."

"Yes, the resemblance is strong, and I don't mean just in terms of appearance. There's a connection there, but I'm not quite sure what it is." Waver frowned. "Suffice to say that she's exceptionally suited for a grail war." He paused. "It goes without saying, but I trust her with my life."

Gray was not going to argue with his assessment of her abilities. Lord El Melloi II was almost always right about this sort of thing. Nonetheless, it seemed to her that he had glossed over some important details. "I feel the need to add that as a magus, I'm not very capable."

Waver sent her a sidelong glare. "Oy, quit saying things like that, Gray. It's bad form to act all humble when you're a better magus than I am."

Gray didn't have a reply. She couldn't disagree with him. In terms of mana and circuits she far outclassed him. However, given how unskilled she was, it seemed like the height of arrogance to claim herself as the superior of Lord El Melloi II.

Waver sighed and picked up his briefcase. "Come on Gray, let's get to the bus stop. Rider, is there anything you require before I go?"

"On the contrary, I am very well-supplied, with both information and comfort. Your king is most satisfied with your preparations." He chuckled. "I have more than enough to occupy me."

Waver smiled quietly. He hoped that his king's optimism was well-founded. For the moment, however… He had a job to do.

~!-*~


The Lecturer was well aware of his own limitations. He possessed neither exceptional mana, nor a spectacular crest, nor a particularly interesting Origin. He did, however, possess one extraordinarily rare quality that had allowed him to leap ahead of many of the older families. He cared nothing for his pride or reputation. He was not too proud to turn up his nose at a promising pupil who had a disgraceful past. He wouldn't turn away from a branch of research out of fear of failure. He was not so full of his family honor that he was afraid to ask for help.

He sighed.

He was also, apparently, not too proud to take on a job as an educator of normal, uninteresting, Japanese highschoolers.

"My name is Mr. Samite, and I will be your lecturer for this class while your usual teacher, Mr. Saito is away on vacation. Some of you just misheard me now. Some of you heard that I am your teacher. Some of you heard that I am to be your mentor for your time here. Some of you, in fact, heard me just say that I am to be your surrogate parent for as long as you're enrolled here. No. I am your lecturer. I will present information in a format that is easy to understand, and you will attempt to comprehend it. I will evaluate the extent to which you are successful in comprehending the information. This will be the extent of our relationship."

He did not anticipate that the students would give him much trouble. He did not have the fearsome reputation here that he did at the Clocktower, but normal brats were nothing for him to control when compared with the pedigreed pricks to which he was accustomed.

Now, if only he could convince himself that it was worth it.