CHAPTER 6:

If you are reading this, things have turned out much worse than I had anticipated and someone from my old life is causing trouble for you. Suffice to say that my life before I met you was one in which I made a lot of enemies. In this crate, I leave you all of my weapons, supplies, and magical knowledge, in addition to a short list of all of the families that I think most likely to come after you.

...The Einzberns are an old magus family from Germany. I contracted with them for ten years. I even fell in love with, was married to, and had a daughter with a woman from their family. I am sorry for never explaining my many trips to you Shirou, but many of them were for her, attempting to gain custody of her. The reason for their hatred of me is simple: they contracted my help with a problem, and I ended up working against them.

I lost my wife, my oldest companion, and most of my own lifespan in an attempt to complete a ritual in Fuyuki City on behalf of the Einzberns. Ultimately, I realized what it was they were trying to do, and the least morally wrong option was to destroy their ritual, a fact for which they have never forgiven me. The great Fuyuki fire resulted from the destruction of the ritual. This was the preferable option to the alternative, but... I am responsible for the death of your birth family as well as hundreds of others… I would tell you this while I live, but you live in peace and happiness, and it would be selfish of me to disturb that out of some desire for absolution. I only tell you this here, so that in the event that the Einzberns do come for you, you will properly appreciate what they are capable of.

The Einzbern Homunculi are deadly combats, they can be identified by their red eyes and….

Shirou laid down the notebook and sighed. He had been hoping for more details about the ritual itself. The notebook of general magical knowledge had some useful information like the ritual for summoning a servant, as well as general information about Heroic Spirits. The notebook of 'possible threats,' though, was useless except for the Einzbern entry. Kiritsugu had clearly thought that his sabotage of the ritual would prevent it ever happening again. Shirou grimaced. Well, at least he now knew the five best approaches to killing an Einzbern Homunculus. Considering that his father had been married to one, Shirou could not help but be slightly disturbed by the prospect.

It was patently clear that he had never really known his father that well. The man's notes suggested aggressive, brutal strategies for dealing with all of his potential enemies. The means for those ends took the form of enough firepower to level a building. The notes seemed to anticipate what Shirou's reaction would be, and apologized for the apparent coldness of the writing, but did nothing to explain how Kiritsugu could be so cold. If this was a man who, like Shirou, had only found joy in saving people… what sort of savior must he have been?

And the idea that the man had a daughter… A daughter a few years younger than him, probably. He simply could not decide how to feel about that. Happy, that his father had good reasons for those long absences from home? Upset, that his father had cared more about a daughter that he could not reach than the son he had at home? Still, Shirou could not begrudge his father those trips… If he had known their purpose, he would have agreed with his father's intent.

He palmed the knife into the air and caught it in a reverse grip, testing the air with a few experimental cuts. Shirou would use this, at least. Blades had long been a fixation of his, and the knife seemed to be of exceptional quality. The rest… Shirou picked up the massive pistol. It was far and away the most valuable magical artifact he had ever held, a real life mystic code, and one that he could likely use to devastating effect. He holstered it, pulling the edge of his shirt over the handle to obscure it from view.

He anticipated that he'd be able to use both the sniper rifle and the submachine gun effectively. Simply put, ranged weapons of any kind had always been trivial for him to master. He had discovered this while hunting with Raiga back in the day, and had confirmed it during his brief tenure in the archery club. He laid the SMG and a shinai into his gym bag and zipped it up. The rifle could be useful, but the only way he could justify the use of such a weapon would be against a monster who would certainly cause more death if left alone. Since he knew of no such monster, carrying the rifle around everywhere seemed patently foolish.

"Master, your guests are well clear of the area. Do we move out soon?" His servant's voice was collected as ever as she walked into the room, but she paused with uncertainty as soon as she saw the box of weapons laid out around Shirou.

He stood and beheld her for a moment. Radiant and pure, just looking at her filled him with a hope that his dreams of heroism were perhaps not so far away. It was strange, almost sacrilegious to think that even magecraft like his could summon such a being. "I think we're as ready as we are likely to be." He stated. "I think the best way to start out is to go and talk to this priest. He can hopefully give us some useful information. Does that seem wise to you?"

Saber simply nodded. "As you wish. I will accompany you to the church and wait outside while you speak with him."

"Yes..." He tipped his chin down as he spoke. "Before we do that though. Did you hear what Taiga was saying?"

"Her lover had abandoned her and she was distressed. I gathered from context that this was a common occurrence."

"Well, yes, only..." Shirou sighed. "The guy she was dating was a magus, although she didn't know it. He's one of our enemies, a guy named El Melloi, a veteran of the last war." Saber stiffened momentarily. "So his relationship with her was a front to begin with. Anyway, he had this girl with him. She looked about your age, height… and although her coloration was different, she had your face." He hoped that he was not leaping to conclusions. Did the faces only look the same to him because he did not know how to distinguish one English female from another?

Saber frowned deeply. "That is strange. But when magi are involved, similar appearance could mean anything at all, or nothing. We will address them when they appear. Fear is the enemy."

"Fair enough." Shirou replied. "But you'll understand, since I don't know your identity, it could have been something specific from your legend. Anyway." He slung the gym bag over his shoulder. "Let's go see that priest."


"I thought we were attacking him?" Gray questioned as they touched down a few blocks from the church. Not that she would mind skipping a fight just now. Her head ached furiously, her stomach was lurching at every turn, and a weariness had settled into her bones. To think that she would get sick at a time like this, when her master needed her more than ever!

Rider simply chuckled. "We'd be very bad contestants if our first action in this war was to assassinate the church supervisor."

"So we're going to have a nice conversation with him instead." Her master stated as he jumped off the chariot. Gray followed him. If her master had a plan, that was sufficient.

A wave of nausea swept over her as she set foot on the ground, but she pushed it back and followed her master along the narrow road that led to the church. Truly, it was less of a church and more of a chapel. Despite the beauty of its architecture, the building was not large and had no supporting structure beyond the sanctuary itself.

The color of the place stank. Something, no, many things had died here and putrefied, like a swamp filled with pollutants that prevented even the carrion from living. The beauty of the surrounding forest juxtaposed against the toxicity of the church induced a sense akin to vertigo. This place was evil. In the context of Gray's experience as a gravekeeper and as an initiate of the Clocktower, she did not use the word lightly.

The church, perhaps predictably, was empty except for the priest himself. "I had not expected you," he stated as they entered. "I observed your fight with Caster, but you did not make yourself known to me. I am surprised to see that a man could come out of a bloody war like the last one and decide to return."

"To be a magus is to walk with death, Kotomine. Although you've turned from the path of the magus, I think you understand my reasons for joining this war again better than most. After all, you are holding down the position that killed your father."

"Yes…" Kotomine appeared to consider this a moment. "I suppose you mean to say that duty is not something that can be avoided, simply because it is dangerous? Strange that you would think of the Grail War as a duty."

"There are several duties I fulfil by joining the war." Her master stated the fact almost wearily. "But it is danger that brings me here today. The servant Caster has set up his territory a mere mile from here."

"Has he?" Kotomine raised both eyebrows in surprise. "I thank you for the warning." He paused. "What makes you so sure of this?"

"Magical residue in the vicinity indicates an exceedingly accomplished rune user. Additionally, this field originated within the last week based off of the degradation level of the residue. Any magus willing to do the footwork could verify this." He coughed. "It's an unremarkable forest, so most wouldn't look there, but I had reason to suspect that area."

Kotomine was standing with his arms crossed, looking deeply suspicious. For her part, Gray was confused. How was her master making claims about the magical residue? They had not had time to collect samples. Was this… Yes, this must be a bluff.

Her Master continued, having stepped into his persona as a lecturer. "The enforcer Bazett Fraga McRemitz and I were not well acquainted. We interacted exactly once shortly after she joined the Clocktower, when she asked me about my experience in the Holy Grail War. She expressed an intense desire to fight alongside the legendary hero Cu Chullain. Since the Caster of this war is Cu Chullain, it is self-evident that she succeeded."

"However, she was not fighting alongside her hero as she claimed to have desired. Moreover, Caster affirmed my assertion that his master was a coward. So I concluded that she must've had her servant taken from her. The person who accomplished this had to be a magus living in Fuyuki who desired to fight in the Grail War, had no servant of their own, had the skill to take down an Enforcer, and knew that she was even fighting in the Grail War in the first place."

"You're accusing me of stealing the servant of this Bazett?" Kirei's voice was genial, but incredulous. "She came as a part of the Association. There are hundreds of people who could have betrayed her."

Waver lit a cigar and gave it an experimental puff. "I actually thought it might be Atrum, at first. But he's dead and his workshop is torched."

He looked the priest dead in the eyes. "Kotomine, you're the only other survivor of the 4th war, so it is only natural that I researched your history extensively. Bazett was a name on the rather short list of your list of known associates. You recommended her as a candidate for this war, and her peers among the enforcers named you as a close friend of hers. In other words, you were her closest friend in the city. Likely, you are the only person here around whom she would drop her guard."

The priest frowned. "Bazett is a good friend… was a good friend, I suppose. It is difficult to stand here and listen to such accusations. I'll concede that you've compiled a fair amount of completely circumstantial evidence. It wouldn't convince most people, but then, I suppose that the only person you had to convince was yourself. Do you mean to kill me, or blackmail me?"

"Neither. This is a mission of mercy. Leave the Grail War now, or I will destroy you. You're already aware that my servant is trashing your servant's workshop. Rider's magic resistance and speed makes him a nightmare for your servant, even within his workshop." Waver glowered. "Be happy that I'm allowing you this much grace. "

Kotomine made a shooing motion with his hand. "Leave. I have no interest in watching you posture anymore."

Her master bowed and turned to leave, catching Gray with a sidelong glance and nodding slightly.

Gray whirled on her feet, unleashing Add from beneath her cloak in one smooth motion, whipping the materializing scythe up to defend against the blow that she knew was coming. His fist rang against the haft of her scythe, throwing her backwards with stunning force.

Her master was running already, but Kirei spun on his heel and rocketed after him.

Kotomine was fast. An expert in martial arts, a magus of reasonable talent, and an Executor of the church specializing in the assassination of mages, Kirei had very nearly reached the pinnacle of human achievement when it came to physical ability. Even with a few moments head start, her master had never stood a chance of escaping such a man.

Kotomine was fast. Gray was faster. Her scythe arced out like a snake and the priest had to throw himself into a roll to avoid being decapitated. She vaulted over him so that she was between him and her master again, and swept her scythe upwards. The priest backflipped out of the way and drew up his fists, smiling. "I had heard you were good," He commented, smiling, "But I had no idea little Waver had stumbled upon such a useful tool."

Gray frowned at that. A tool? She… She was useful, she supposed. But to act as though she was some extension of her master's' will… "I fight of my own volition. I volunteered for this."

Kotomine smiled indulgently. "I'm sure you did."