Chapter 1: Three Becomes Four
Or, in the Sanskrit language that the natives of India employed almost 4000 years ago, இறப்பு.
While there are many a way that the word 'Death' can be interpreted, from the idea, the concept, all the way to sentient manifestations such as the Reaper itself, Irappu had no such additional meaning.
It was simply the act of destruction...destruction that, without fail, lead to death.
Irappu would often appear as a mighty storm, winds of immeasurable speed and deafening strikes of thunder and lightning causing indiscriminate destruction in it's wake. Occasionally Irappu would manifest as a ground-quake, swallowing villages whole and shaking the very Earth itself. Other times as erupting mountains of fiery rock and fire, of towering waves washing away everything without a trace. And, perhaps most rare of all, as beams of light that descended from the Heavens themselves, striking the surface with unmatched fury.
Modern Magus would likely describe Irappu as a sort of Transcendent Spirit of Gaia, a collection of tropisms and behaviors created by the planet's will that, when destruction needed to be had, Irappu would appear and unleash all of it's primal might upon whatever blight Gaia had recognized.
And, like many things once created and guided by Gaia, Irappu began to wane and disappear along with the ending of the Age of the Gods, it's appearances and powers no longer as devastating as they once were, being replaced by it's far more mundane cousins, 'Natural Disasters'.
This would have most certainly been the end of Irappu itself, slowly wasting away to nothing at all without the slightest inkling or care of it's fate, were it not for one Roman Gladiator by the name of Horatius.
It was unknown whether Horatius was a captured warrior from one of Rome's many campaigns, a slave sent to the Colosseum to fight and most likely die for other's entertainment...or a criminal that had been given the punishment of becoming a Gladiator.
Most would agree that it was irrelevant what Horatius had been, compared to what he would become.
Over the years and through a combination of charisma, skill and luck Horatius became one of the few Gladiators to win his freedom.
Granted his wooden blade, Horatius now found himself in a slightly unexpected position. During his tenure as a combatant of the crowds, he had slowly come to a realization about himself. An epiphany, for lack of a better term.
Horatius was a free spirit, one who wanted to travel throughout the massive empire of Rome, who wanted to travel even beyond that through the lands of the barbarians and yet even further. Being a slave, confined to wherever the whim of his masters took him, was nothing but soul-rending torture.
It did provide a rather wonderful catalyst for him to emerge victorious from his matches, granted.
So, at the age of 24, Horatius began his lifelong journey throughout the world.
From Sicillia toCorsica et Sardinia, all the way to Macedonia and back again.
And while he saw many things, wondrous sights and mind-boggling feats of architecture...he slowly fell into a melancholy, a sort of fatalism.
There was no way, in his all too short and fleeting Human life, that he would be able to see everything the world had to offer. Perhaps not even all of what just Rome had to offer!
Desperate to find a way to prolong his life, Horatius turned to a discipline he learned of through a chance encounter during one of his many treks towards the Diocese of Thrace, one of the caravan guards being a Magus. Secretive and wary even thousands of years ago the Magus, who went by the name of Justus, was something of an oddity, one who used magecraft as a means rather than an end and saw no problem with explaining odd bits of the practice with others.
Justus' curiosity only grew as, over weeks of conversation, he realized Horatius had discovered his Origin as well as having Magic Circuits of his own. While Justus' knowledge of the subject was limited, he knew the consequences of a person recognizing the existence of their origin and held some sympathy for Horatius' plight.
The plight of a man doomed to forever be a 'Wanderer', his Origin.
Pointing the former Gladiator in the direction of an institute where Magecraft was practiced that wouldn't merely kill him on sight, Horatius profusely thanked the Magus and they parted ways on good terms.
Thus began decades of searching and research.
No stone was left unturned and no theory left unread, any and all form of Magecraft or it's offshoots was considered and thus discarded as a viable option.
Early in his research Horatius had discovered the existence of Vampires, or more specifically, Dead Apostles. While turning himself into such a being would certainly solve the issue of longevity, there were other factors to consider. What little he could glean from texts and eye-witness reports suggested that Apostles played an intricate game of influence with each other, not to mention there was the issue of sunlight and large bodies of water hindering his movements, never mind the requirement of ingesting blood on a continuous basis.
Becoming a Dead Apostle was a last resort, there being far too many conditions attached when all Horatius wished was for the lifespan required to see the world.
As the years went by and he reached his 60th year, Horatius began to resign himself to the fact that he would most likely need to begin the ritual necessary to become an Apostle.
And then, by a stroke of luck, he purchased a tome from a desperate Magus that explained the concept of Transcendent Beings, as well as a list of what ones had been confirmed to 'exist'.
At last, a method to preserve his life had been discovered, one that carried risk, admittedly...but had none of the guaranteed ones that came with becoming an Apostle.
Because, according to all observed records, one Transcendent Spirit had no soul.
While Horatius had considered the idea of having his soul reincarnate into a descendant of his, he only discovered of such methods late into his life and, unfortunately, he was only of mediocre power as a Magus.
But to transfer his soul into a being that had none, that was more a force than it was a living being?
It just might be possible.
Completing his preparations, Horatius began to wait at the River Tiber, confident that his opportunity would arrive.
And arrive it did.
A sudden flood began and with the people of the Seven Hills running for higher ground, Horatius made his move.
While he may have been unable to directly transfer his soul, Horatius had found an interesting work around.
All souls return to the Root upon death, this was an unbreakable rule that he had no hope of circumventing bar becoming a Heroic Spirit or some other exception...an unlikely prospect. But altering his soul so that it would seek out an empty body before returning to the primordial state of being?
That was doable.
With a single thrust of his sword Horatius collapsed into the street, his blood painting the slowly dampening ground beneath him and his body began to expire.
All that remained to be seen was if his soul was able to take hold of Irappu's power...and if the flooding of the river was indeed caused by said Spirit.
And it worked.
Somehow, against all odds and 'conventional' wisdom, it worked.
A Human's soul had merged with that of an extension of Gaia's will, the two combining into a being that was not entirely Human but had the soul of one, not entirely a Spirit but having the power of one.
Upon awakening an indeterminate time later, Horatius/Irappu quickly learned the extent of their symbiotic state of being.
Horatius had reverted to an ageless body, it's appearance that of when he first won his freedom from the Gladiatorial pits several decades earlier.
Perhaps most interestingly, while possessing only 10 Magic Circuits of fairly mediocre quality, Horatius now found that through his connection to Gaia from Irappu, he could channel a functionally infinite amount of Mana gathered from the very world itself. High-level Magecraft would be beyond his grasp, a consequence of his limited Magic Circuits, but in theory he could now cast an infinite amount of more 'mundane' Thaumaturgy.
Not that any of this concerned Horatius. The access to a functionally infinite amount of power was a far, far distant second to his newfound longevity and he wasted no time in departing for new horizons. While Irappu may not have strictly been conscious during it's time of existence, it still recorded and experienced events that were now given meaning through the eyes of Horatius.
And what a bevy of experiences they were! Mountains that seemed to reach forever into the sky, oceans that seemingly stretched to the end of the world, deserts and jungles that expanded farther than the naked eye could see...even if the many places Irappu had been no longer held civilization, Horatius still wanted to visit them all.
And, for a not insignificant amount of time, that is what he did.
It wasn't until the mid 1400's that a change occurred.
Over the years Horatius had slowly become aware of a sobering yet unavoidable fact.
He was lonely, a loneliness that originated from Irappu, of all beings.
Prior to it's merging with Horatius such things had never bothered the Transcendent Spirit, but now that it had an understanding of emotions it began to realize just how alone it truly was. Many spirits, Phantasmal Beasts and the other myriad creatures spawned from Gaia had been gifted a form of sentience, along with companionship.
It had been granted no such comfort.
The matter was finally brought to head when Rome collapsed, brought down by both external forces and internal ones.
It may have been the Empire that enslaved him, the Empire that restricted his freedom for so many years...but it had been home nonetheless. A home that had lasted for so many centuries despite constant adversity that it had seemed it would last forever, a universal constant for the ever wandering Horatius.
Seeing it collapse brought no small amount of melancholic homesickness, a feeling only exacerbated by Irappu's isolation throughout the millennia. Horatius could no more ignore his own solitude than Irappu could ignore his Origin's call.
For the next few centuries they tried many times to form some sort of lasting relationship amidst their travels, seeking an anchor that they could always return to, no matter how far or how long they were absent.
While they encountered many interesting and friendly Humans, their limited lifespans prevented the sort of long-lasting bond that Horatius and Irappu sought after. And even among those few Humans that did catch their attention, a scant handful were in a position to both appreciate and understand the call of their Origin, the ever present need to explore and travel.
They were met with even less success when courting beings outside of Humanity.
Dead Apostle's only saw a form of achieved immortality that was superior to their own, or a being that they could exploit to further their own stature among their peers.
Confrontations between them and Horatius almost always ended with violence.
Growing tired of searching the planet for worthwhile companionship Horatius used the connection between himself and Irappu to travel to the Reverse Side of the World, hoping against hope that the varied beings that thrived there would be able to relate to him in some fashion.
He was sorely disappointed.
The denizens of that world only saw a Human, the very creature that had forced their exodus in the first place and either pretended he merely did not exist or actively tried to attack him.
For the first time in almost a thousand years, Horatius began to wonder if his immortal life was beginning to look more like a curse than it was a blessing, contemplating the very real possibility that all of his life's ambitions had merely lead him to a state of wishing he had never achieved them in the first place.
Then, he met a Vampire.
Not just any Vampire, but one who interested in Horatius both as a person and prank victim rather than as a means to an end, or a threat to be snuffed out.
Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg.
One of the twenty-seven Dead Apostle Ancestors, a true user of the Second Magic...and, most importantly to Horatius, had a friendly disposition.
One chance meeting at a cafe over coffee turned into pen pals, pen pals turned into active traveling buddies, traveling buddies turned into an unconventional-but real-friendship.
After almost thirty years of an unusual bromance (as Zelretch later liked to call it), Horatius eventually explained to Zelretch the circumstances surrounding his powers as well as his search for companionship.
The Apostle immediately took the opportunity to christen him as a World Spirit(TM), an acknowledgment of him both being Human and a Spirit of Gaia in one body.
Additionally, the Wizard Marshall proposed a solution to Horatius' desire for ever-present companionship.
Having been one of the founding members of the Holy Grail War, he was fairly knowledgable on the process of how to summon a Heroic Spirit and the necessary requirements to do so. Given Horatius' access to essentially unlimited Mana and a direct line to Alaya through Gaia, the most pressing concern of how to sustain and manifest a Heroic Spirit's presence became a moot issue, the only real difficulty being presented in making sure the Spirit could be suitably informed of modern era nomenclature and societal norms.
Horatius was immediately intrigued at the idea of a companion that was simultaneously extremely powerful and capable of longevity just as impressive as his.
After agreeing to the proposition with startling quickness Zelretch requested a favor of Horatius, one he figured the World Spirit(TM) would be interested in.
In a rare display of responsibility the Vampire informed Horatius that ever since he had mastered the Second Magic, he had been constantly safeguarding their world against trans-dimensional threats. As it turns out, the Kaleidoscope isn't the only way to bridge the gap between realities and not all of the beings that do so merely perform the feat out of curiosity.
Since Horatius enjoys travel so much he would be the perfect candidate to investigate these realms that could potentially harm theirs and root out whether there's a threat or not.
Again, in startling swiftness, Horatius agreed.
Travel to mysterious and exotic worlds in order to help his first true friend? A friend who would, in return, provide him with a very real possibility of companions that would never abandon him?
It was the deal of a lifetime.
A few years passed, the duo working almost non-stop to complete their project and in no time at all the preparations were complete.
The Spirit wouldn't receive their knowledge from the Grail, rather they would be directly tied to Horatius' memories, the combination of his long life of travels and Irappu's own extensive experience providing a more than solid foundation. At Horatius' request, there were no Command Seals, classes or any other form of limiter attached to the summoned Spirit.
For all intents and purposes, they would be their original selves, with all the power and personality quirks that came with it.
Forgoing the use of a catalyst, instead desiring an ally that would complement him perfectly, Horatius sent out a plea to the Throne of Heroes and, in a burst of released power, summoned his first companion.
And, as it would turn out, fate had a strange sense of humor.
The hero of old that was brought forth from the Throne was a young woman with tanned skin, hair the color of mountain snow and eldritch lines adorning her body.
Attila the Hun, at one time Rome's most ferocious foe, now serving one who had lived through that era and probably one of the few surviving beings that could personally recount details of her campaign. More than that, she was a remnant of a power that had once ravaged the Earth, the power that Horatius was intrinsically tied to.
Which made it only all the more ironic that these two, who would at one time have been foes of one sort or another, so perfectly complemented each other.
Both seeking a goal unrelated to the bloodshed that had defined their mortal lives, a goal of personal, emotional catharsis. Both created by a higher power to fulfill a purpose, but now free from said beings shackles.
Both, at their core, adept at causing pure destruction, even if that was no longer their hearts desire.
Thus, in the year 1910 Horatius' second lifelong companion, Altera, joined him.
For decades afterwards the two aided Zelretch in his ever present vigil against trans-dimensional threats, experiencing sights and wonders-with the occasional horror thrown in for good measure-they had scarcely even imagined possible.
It was a dream that Horatius had never thought he would achieve during the past few centuries of his wandering.
Eventually, during the year 1946, Horatius and Altera stumbled upon what was more commonly known as the Land of Shadows, a world separated and ordinarily inaccessible to all. There, they met the Warrior Queen known as Scáthach, the guardian and champion of the dead, doomed to remain in that barren land until the end of time itself.
Both parties desiring conversation, Scáthach having felt the weariness of isolation for a long, long time while Horatius and Altera, as always, were open to the idea of a good exchange of stories.
This dialogue carried on for a time longer than either side could remember, culminating in Horatius offering Scáthach a deal. In exchange for returning as his friend and ally, he would free her from her internment as the gatekeeper of the Shadow Lands.
Agreeing with a speed that rivaled that of Horatius himself, the former Gladiator then began to carry out his side of the bargain. Turning into Irappu itself, yet guided by a sentient and fully aware mind, the storm tore away at the Land of Shadow until the realm ceased to exist, the assault every bit conceptual as it was physical.
Perishing amidst the assault with a smile on her lips, Scáthach ascended to the Throne of Heroes...but not before giving the duo a catalyst that would summon her without fail, a necklace comprised of primal runes she had personally made and never shared with a single soul.
Thus, in the year 1946, Horatius' third lifelong companion, Scáthach, was summoned.
For 62 years following that series of events the trio travelled as they pleased, aiding the Kaleidoscope when needed and generally enjoying a life that none of them had ever imagined they would be gifted.
The start of their newest journey, while of vastly more apocalyptic proportions than the usual fare they dealt with, was much like any other they embarked on.
Namely because, like all events of apocalyptic nature, it started out with Zelretch thinking to himself, 'Hey, you know what would be funny'?
Whipping cream? Check.
Sneaking shoes? Double check.
I feel two sets of eyes immediately lock onto me...but they don't make a move, pretty much giving me permission to go ahead with this 'welcome home' prank of mine.
I ever so carefully creep over to the peacefully resting form of Horatius, lightly treading on what little floor space isn't covered in unaccountable amounts of crap.
Seriously, for a guy that spends so little time at 'home' he sure goes out of his way to decorate it with memorabilia up the wazoo. Ancient clay pottery that goes all the way back to 4000 BC from early Iranian cultures, woven tapestries found in the Tarim Basin, a Megazord action figure no doubt bought from some local Toy Store…
Hey, no one ever said all the shit gathered was of equal value.
Getting back to the more important task at hand I finally make my way to my buddies side, his face half covered by blankets and gleefully squirt some whipping cream into my hand.
Magecraft is a wonderful thing, able to create a silent dispersal mechanism so the loud hissing sound doesn't wake the victims of my little escapades.
Carefully depositing the lump of cream into one of Horatius' outstretched hands I gently apply the end of the feather onto his nose-
-And burst out into insane laughter upon seeing my oldest friend now blearily waking up only to find himself looking like he got attacked by a can of shaving cream.
"...Really Kischur? Of all the myriad ways of making people miserable that are available to you, you went with the whip cream and feather trick?"
"Hey there's nothing wrong with a classic, now is there? And I could have just gone with the bowl of warm water technique..."
The visible portion of his face twitches and I hear a grumble of, "Well when you put it like that..."
He heaves a gigantic sigh before throwing aside the sheets and stumbling off to the bathroom, prompting an unrepentant grin on my part.
Turning my attention to where the invisible sets of eyes are 'watching' me and I cheerfully grin and ask, "So how'd your last little field trip go?"
With a brief twisting of space and a haze of colors two figures appear before my eyes.
Scáthach sits on the edge of a raised table that looks like it was hand-carved several centuries ago, legs lightly kicking back and forth as her voice, a combination of regal, cheerful and musical tones explains, "Oh, it was nothing too exciting, hardly even worth recounting. In all honesty the only highlight was seeing Horatius display an unusual amount of terror at the foe before us, a sight most unexpected...yet welcome nonetheless."
"Scáthach, that's not a very nice thing of you to say about Master..."
Primly perched on one of the few available chairs scattered throughout the room masquerading as an antique exhibit, Altera's words, a gentle yet husky tenor, sound admonishing...but the tiny smile she wears tells a different story.
It took a goodly number of decades hanging around Horatius, Scáthach and myself but she'd finally learned how to relax a little bit, occasionally even poking fun at people.
Which had warmed this old fart's heart. Seriously, what's the point in being alive if you're not gonna enjoy the stupid thing?
"After all, everyone has some fears. Even if they are as something as embarrassing as being afraid of a few harmless bugs."
Scáthach smirks in reply to the other woman's words and she sagely replies, "Ah, my apologies Altera, you are absolutely correct. Spiders are a very frightening creature..."
"I can hear you two!"
I snicker at my dimension-hopping partner in crime before curiously asking, "Seriously though, what did you run into out there? The threat level was only that of green..."
"What we ran into, Kischur, was some madman's interpretation of what a tarantula would look like if it's parents were a lobster and praying mantis that were into hatefucking."
Scáthach rolls her eyes before dryly adding, "And despite their size they were barely more of a threat than a single bear would be. Yet apparently you were so alarmed by their existence that you felt it necessary to call upon Irappu's powers and more or less destroy what amounted to a continent of the creatures..."
The sound of running water shuts off and Horatius morbidly replies, "I have a thing with arachnids, Scáthach. I don't like them. One time in the Gladitorial pits with only a family of tarantulas to keep us company was one time too many. And you saw those portals, they were undoubtably about to launch an invasion. I saved the entire world from an arachnophobics worst nightmare."
The Warrior Queen just makes a small 'hmm' noise as Horatius steps out of the washroom, face freshly cleared of the whip cream smears.
Of average height at around 1.75 meters, tanned skin with black hair that curls at the end and falls down to his neck, a musculature that's meant more for use than it is for show, all topped off by striking dark eyes-a consequence of his merging with Irappu-and Horatius doesn't seem all that dissimilar to the idea of the 'handsome Gladiator' many romance novelists would attempt to portray.
Lucky Bastard, think of all the stuff I could get away with if I wasn't old as shit!
...Oh well, no sense in complaining about it now.
"Well, since you three are all back now, how does grabbing lunch sound? We can catch up over a meal and talk business there."
Predictably, Altera and Scáthach immediately perk up at the idea of food while Horatius merely gives me a questioning look.
I just offer an evil grin in response.
Oh he is just going to love this…
"Sure, why not? Although I don't know if my two 'Heroes' deserve such a meal, allowing an assault on my person while I was enjoying such a well deserved rest..."
Altera gives an almost imperceptible pout before muttering, "I thought it would be funny..." while Scáthach offers a disapproving frown.
"You should not blame us, Horatius. What sorry excuse of a warrior would let such a simple prank go through without contention?"
The ex-Gladiator just looks incredulous.
"Are you kidding me? This guy pulled a fast one on Barthomeloi once, if he doesn't want to be caught, he's not gonna get caught."
I bask in both the well deserved praise and the memory of that little caper.
Sneaking into the Queen of the Clocktowers bedchambers and slipping a copy of Twilight under her arms as she slept, taking several pictures and then distributing them as an early Christmas present to the denizens of the institute had been well worth the following year spent avoiding the woman's wrath.
Well worth it.
"So, partner, you ready to go on yet another wild adventure?"
I ignore Kischur's friendly banter for the moment in favor of amusedly glancing around the cafeteria of the Clocktower, a massive room that's as opulent as it is functional. Nearly two dozen long-tables take up the majority of the floor space while a smattering of more 'refined' dining setups are reserved for the more affluent or wealthy members of the Magi.
And none of the currently seated 200 Magus in training are closer than two tables distance from us.
In between Kischur's well earned reputation as something of a prankster and ruiner of peace and quiet, as well as my obvious friendship with him and ability to sustain two extremely powerful Heroic Spirits unassisted...we probably make for an intimidating duo of freaks.
And there's the fact that on occasion, when the conversation has run dry, Kischur and I will make snide comments about the eating habits of those around us, just to see if anyone has the guts to fire back.
No luck so far.
"While I'll be the first to admit that my Origin can be pretty damn insistent about things, there's nothing wrong with taking a few days to relax. Honestly, it was only like eight hours ago that I was busy exterminating a race of invading demon-spiders. What's the big hurry?"
Losing some of his ever-present joviality, Kischur pulls out a small crystal orb...that is entirely pitch black in coloration.
"Yup. There's a real ball of bad news potentially headed our way."
I give an annoyed glance at the object held in his hand, the seemingly smooth surface actually comprised of an uncountable number of flat planes, giving the illusion of smoothness.
The Jeweled Eye. Able to remotely view and examine who knows how many parallel words, the Eye acts as a sort of early warning system of worlds that are attempting to break into ours. Using a rainbow colored threat level, with violet being the lowest and red being the highest, it can give us an idea of what sort of trouble we're dealing with. We typically ignore anything lower than a green threshold, figuring that the world's more mundane security measures (read: Enforcers) can pick up the slack on those issues.
...Oh, I'm sorry, did I say red was the highest threat level?
I meant to say that black is the highest.
After all, black is the presence of every color.
"You'll forgive me for not being all that rather enthused, Kischur. The only other time we've followed up on a black lead we ended up on a blown to Hell and back world, something I'm pretty sure was Azathoth looking down on it from the general direction of freaking Polaris."
Scáthach sagely nods from where she's sitting in front of three empty bowels of soup, a varied collection of Beef Barley, Oxtail and Mulligatawny.
"And here I had thought the Land of Shadows could be rather...dismal. That unfortunate plane of existence brought new meaning to the words, 'Land of the Dead '."
Altera just wordlessly gives a nod of agreement, returning to her plates of Garlic Bread, Ravioli, Chicken Pot Pie, Asian Salad and what looks like half a birthday cake.
...What is it with the petite female Heroic Spirits of this reality and eating at least twice their body weight at mealtime? That one student of Kischur's that has Arturia as her familiar has the same insatiable appetite…
"Well, it's not like we can just ignore it. While we were more than a little late to prevent the last black warning from going tits up, the next might be one we can nip at the bud. And besides! The universe you go to might be completely inhospitable and you'll have to head straight back anyways, black warning or not. Heck, two weeks ago I hopped through a portal only to suck in a lungful of some super-virus that had me crapping blood for three days straight, time reversing body or not!"
I sigh and look down at my tomato bisque soup, reflecting that I don't have quite as much of an appetite after the Vampire's little editorial.
Reflexively pushing it in Altera's direction, the tanned woman happily accepting the unexpected gift, I give Kischur a resigned look and ask, "So when are we going to be leaving then?"
"Soon as I get a portal all set up. And before you go I have a present I think you'll-hold that thought-HEY, RRRIIIINNNN!"
Who I'm assuming is 'RRRIIIINNNN' stumbles and almost drops her tray of food, face looking more than a little mortified as the Vampire's shout echoes throughout the room and hundreds of pairs of eyes all lock on her.
"Congratulations Kischur, I think you just gave her the emotional equivalent of a heart attack. Wait a moment, isn't that your Tohsaka disciple? The one who was part of the last Holy Grail War four years ago?"
"Bah, she's made of pretty tough stuff, she'll get over it. And yeah, she was. Hey, Rin! Over here!"
Looking like she'd prefer to be anywhere else, the dark haired young woman slowly marches towards us with all the enthusiasm of a gallows victim, Magi everywhere gazing and whispering about her with equal parts glee and awe.
Classroom politics at their finest.
It's the two figures traveling with her that draw my attention though.
There's the slim figure of Britain's most famous King, who'd I actually had the privilege of seeing once in the flesh during my travels centuries ago, laden down with her own mountain of trays and bowels.
Then there's the Magus Killer's heir, one Shirou Emiya. Tanned from his many travels to the cauldron of religious and economic conflict that is the current day Middle East, with the slightest traces of prematurely whited hair adorning his skull.
The young man had initially caught my interest along with his girlfriend after I'd heard from Kischur about the Holy Grail War and it's subsequent dismantlement, as well as their part to play in said process.
Imagine my surprise when I had found out that the fledgling Magus not only was capable of manifesting a Reality Marble, but was also very much aware of his Origin.
While I would hesitate to call our relationship one of 'being friends', seeing as how we've only spoken perhaps a grand total of five times, there's a certain level of instinctual understanding that comes from having knowledge of one's Origin, of having an understanding of what a person is.
"Good to see you again, Emiya. Just got back from the Middle East?"
He tries to hide his instinctive wince...but the kid has all the deceptive talents of a guilty puppy.
And that's not counting both Arturia and Tohsaka's annoyed-but-also-concerned glances in his direction.
Looks like they don't approve of his moonlighting as a Hero of Justice.
"Err...hello there, Horatius-San. And to you three as well, Altera-San, Scáthach-San and Kaleidoscope-San."
"Oh for the love of-Kid! You're banging my favorite disciple, that makes us practically family! You can just call me Uncle Zel!"
I'm not sure what's brighter, Emiya's hair or Tohsaka's face as they both make strangled noises of surprise and almost drop their food onto the floor.
Although, the way Arturia's cheeks also slightly redden as she quickly glances between the two of them makes me wonder if there's not more going on between all three of them.
Goodness, what sort of sordid affair am I bearing witness to?
Thumbs up, Emiya.
"Well met, King of Knights. It's unfortunate, but apparently we won't have time to conclude our spar from our previous meeting. Duty calls Horatius yet again, it seems..."
The blonde Knight recovers from her earlier embarrassment due to Kischur's comment and comraderly smiles at Scáthach, happily replying, "It is good to see you as well, Guardian. While unfortunate, I will look forward to our future meetings regardless. But you are leaving so soon?"
She hikes a thumb back at both me and the old Vampire, a mannerism she seems to enjoy using after seeing me employ it a few times and dryly explains, "Those two are up to their typical plots and adventures, as usual..."
The King of Knights gives me a searching gaze and I merely shrug innocently, Altera coming to the rescue with, "Arturia, have you tried the food called Ravioli before?"
"I cannot say that I have...but I made special note to acquire them along with several other dishes. Are they truly so delectable?"
With a starry expression in her eyes the 'Whip of God' says, "Delicious."
...Perhaps I should have seen this coming, but the three of them were rather quick to bond.
Aside from the obvious connection of being Heroic Spirits and finding themselves in a time far removed from their own, they each have a shared interest.
For Altera and Arturia it's, perhaps unsurprisingly, their shared love of food. Comparing notes on what herbs and methods were used during their eras, as well as hunting tactics they would employ, has thus far carried them into a steady friendship.
Scáthach and the King of Knights both trained warriors of renown during their lives and the shared love of all things related to martial prowess is no small connection. And even if Arturia no longer has access to the raw strength and speed she had when a full-fledged Servant, there's certainly nothing wrong with her technique, a trait that the Warrior Queen of Ulster has shown great appreciation for in some perfectly friendly practice bouts that left both of them bruised and even bleeding slightly.
...It's no less destructive than my own friendship with Kischur, so I'm in no position to judge.
Speaking of said destructive camaraderie…
"Hey, Horatius, gotta borrow you for a second, we got interrupted."
"You mean you interrupted yourself?"
"Shut up and get over here."
I smirk and scoot over a few tables alongside the Wizard Marshal, leaving Tohsaka and her two companions to chat it up with Altera and Scáthach.
I don't miss the two questioning glances they send my way though, wordlessly asking if they should also sit in on my conversation with Kischur.
I idly gesture with my hand for them to do as they were. It seems we're only going to be here for a little while, I certainly don't begrudge them the opportunity to socialize for a time. Besides, we're only sitting a few meters away, they can probably hear us no problem regardless.
"So what's the big secret you apparently wanted to conceal through the ultra-secure method of sitting a few extra seats away?"
"Sheesh, you have no appreciation for theatrics, do you? If I wanted to make sure no one could hear us I would have thrown up a Bounded Field or something. This is just to make it look like we're discussing something super-duper secret and important. That way all the Enforcers and Nobles watching us will start collectively shitting themselves at the mere thought of whatever horrendous plot we're concocting!"
I try not to let my head drop to the table below.
"Has anyone ever told you you can be petty to the extreme?"
"Hey, they should have known better than to try and slap some Sealing Designations on us."
...I'll give him that.
About two years back, after Kischur had 'accidentally' left a portal open and several hundred guinea pigs that pooped solid gemstones poured in through the gap (I decided not to ask the obvious question of whether he'd been the one to create the things) and caused a massive rush of Magi and Enforces trying to capture (read: adopt) the little critters, Barthomeloi had tried to hit us with an SD on the grounds of us deliberately trying to ferment rebellion among the Clock Tower.
In retrospect, I'm not entirely certain why I'd been hit with one alongside the old Vampire, considering I had nothing to do with anything.
Probably just because it's pretty well known that he and I are on good terms.
Either way neither side had been willing to back down, threats had been made (Barthomeloi offering to lead an Apostle hunt after Zelretch's wrinkly old ass and him promising to 'pull an Alderaan' on the Clocktower using his Jewel Sword) and eventually both sides backed down with nothing to show except a lot of bluster and me deciding that it seemed like a wonderful time to leave the Clocktower on an extended vacation.
I think everyone had just been bored at the time…
Still, Kischur hasn't forgotten that little series of events and has stepped up his game of trying to piss off as many powerful figures in the Magi hierarchy as he possibly can.
"So what's the real reason you dragged me over here?"
"Simple, really. I got another pretty awesome catalyst for you to use!"
I stare at him emotionlessly for a moment before sighing and replying with, "I appreciate you trying to keep an eye out for me in your own unique way...but the dynamic Altera, Scáthach and I have isn't something I want to mess with. A new Spirit, one who's personality and motives might clash with our own, could disrupt that."
Kischur just knowingly grins and smugly says, "Oh I think you'll enjoy having this particular Heroic Spirit watching your back. Stop by my office in a few hours, I'll have everything set up for you."
Knowing a losing battle when I see one I roll my eyes and dryly retort, "Fine, Mom. See you then."
The Kaleidoscope wanders off and I scoot back on over to the chatting group, Altera and Scáthach raising an eyebrow at the latest bit of news.
Looks like we might be getting an addition to our jolly little band sometime in the near future.
"Emiya, mind if I borrow a moment of your time?"
The young man meets my gaze with no small amount of confusion but nonetheless nods, following me out into an empty hallway while his companions worriedly stare at his back, obviously loathe to let him out of their sight lest he somehow disappear in the few seconds they take their eyes off of him.
Heh, I know the feeling.
"So...is there anything I can help you with, Horatius-San?"
"Actually I was wondering if I can maybe help you."
I try not to laugh at his stunned expression before explaining, "I hear you've been involving yourself in some pretty dangerous brushfire wars up and down the Middle East. More than that, it's rather obvious Arturia and Tohsaka don't exactly approve..."
He awkwardly shuffles on his feet before slowly replying, "They don't...but I'm not good at Magecraft like Tohsaka-San is, or particularity charismatic like Saber-San...it's pretty much all I can do."
"And in doing so, you're hurting them. It's the Hedgehog dilemma all over again. Trust me, I spent more than a few centuries having to deal with the fact that people I'd come to like would only be hurt by my constant need to wander."
The kid looks visibly downcast at my words and I smile before asking, "Emiya, do you only feel your Origin tugging at you when you have knowledge of these events, or does it always affect you no matter what?"
"Usually only when I hear things on the news or read about it on the internet. Why?"
"Well, there's an easy solution then. Avoid any kind of media outlet or the like for awhile and you should do fine."
He looks at me like I'm crazy.
"It's...not as easy as you're making it out to be, Horatius-san. Information is everywhere, and the Clock Tower in no exception-"
I can't resist chuckling at his gobsmacked expression and explain, "Cave diving. You'll be out of touch with the outside world for awhile and the sport is just demanding enough that you can't afford to let your mind wander, so no worries about thinking of all the faceless people you could be saving."
He frowns at those words before swiftly retorting, "They're not 'faceless' people, Horatius-san."
"No one is. But if it comes down to the happiness and peace of mind of those who matter to you, as opposed to some people you might see for all of about ten minutes...it'll do you good to think of them as faceless."
He couldn't make it any clearer that he doesn't approve of what I'm saying...but he's at least willing to consider it, if the sullen expression is anything to go by.
Clapping him on the shoulder I walk back towards the table and advise, "Take it from one person aware of their Origin to another. The few people who stick by us, despite knowing of our 'condition', are worth whatever soul-rending agony we might go through in ignoring our Origin's call. And, over time, those very same people will make the call seem absolutely trivial in comparison."
"Ok, Dracula. What's your real angle in giving me another catalyst to play with here?"
Looking perfectly offended Kischur just indignantly replies, "Now just what makes you think I have a 'real' angle here? Didn't I already tell you why?"
"Yes, you did. And the number of times you've told me the entire story the first time I've asked I can count on one hand."
The old Vampire just theatrically sighs and mutters, "Sheesh, guy sure knows how to take the fun out of surprises..."
"You're surprises have an unfortunate tendency to leave their recipients in compromising positions, Kaleidoscope."
He pouts at Scáthach's words, the Queen of Ulster relaxedly leaning up against the wall of Kischur's workshop while Altera contentedly sits in the chair next to mine, calmly listening to the conversation taking place.
"Aw c'mon now, I'm not that bad!"
All three of us shoot that down with, "Yes you are."
He heaves out a despondent sigh and abruptly switches demeanors, becoming far more business-like and serious.
"Real talk then. The Aylesbury Valesti is gonna kick off in a few years and I think we're gonna need all the help we can get if things go tits up and a fight breaks out. Which is my way of saying a fight will break out."
I frown and curiously ask, "Why would you need my help though? I mean, I'm willing to bet that the Mage Association and Church can set aside their differences for a few hours, at least long enough to put a stop to the damn thing. And don't Solomon and Blackmore have an axe to grind with Altrogue? In between all of that firepower-never mind if you tag along-I think you'll be just fine."
"I wasn't invited. And I'm pretty sure Blackmore might hate me more than he does Altrogue, what with fucking up Crimson Moon and all..."
All three of us give him 'the look'.
Relenting, he raises his hands and airily replies, "Ok, ok...bad joke, I get it. But seriously, I dunno if you heard but apparently blonde and tiny somehow got Primate Murder to become her personal guard dog. That will tip the scales a bunch, even if I decide to crash the party."
"You mean when you decide to crash the party..."
I trail off and frown as I consider this latest development. Sure, Irappu doesn't exactly have the ear of Gaia or anything like that...but you would think it would have been able to keep track of the planet's personal attack dog.
"How did Altrogue get that thing to listen to her?"
"Beats me. Maybe she found it's favorite brand of Human kibble."
Altera seriously nods and adds, "No better way to tame a beast than to feed it it's favorite meal."
I'm half-tempted to make a joke about her being the same way, given how enthusiastic she is about food, but decide that's low hanging fruit.
Instead I turn to Kischur and ask, "Ok, I get why you would want me to come along now, but is that entirely necessary? If Primate Murder shows up in any capacity to delay the ritual, wouldn't Alaya deploy a bunch of Counter Guardian's to at least restrain it like it had been doing?"
"I wouldn't rely on Alaya to keep a turtle from winning a cross-country sprint, never mind actually doing something that benefits us..."
I have to concede that point. Alaya is a little...inconsistent with it's recognition and elimination of 'threats',
Kischur sighs and leans back in his chair, lacing his arms behind his head.
"That's why I want you standing by, Horatius. In between Altera and Scáthach, as well as this third Heroic Spirit that I want you to summon, there'll be no shortage of firepower in both physical and mystical varieties, certainly enough to at least make the big bad wolf a non-issue."
His gaze turns hard.
"And if we somehow still fail at making sure the ritual isn't completed...we'll be relying on you and Irappu to make sure Dark Six doesn't get a chance to do whatever it is it might plan to do. Your World Spirit(TM) Reality Marble should make sure of that."
"Do you have to specify that you've trademarked that phrase every time you say it?"
"Hey, I like it and I came up with it!"
I shake my head in exasperation until Scáthach suddenly interrupts with, "While I'll freely admit that doing battle with several Ancestors of incredible power is an attractive proposal...are we even certain we'll be back in time for said event? We know that parallel worlds have varying degrees of time scales..."
Another fair point. While we haven't encountered anything totally bizarre, like one minute equaling three years or anything like that, we did have a case where one minute in that world equaled 27 in this one.
That was an outlier, the vast majority not having anything more dramatic than a ratio of one second equaling seven, but it did raise the possibility of there being more excessive time differences in worlds we travel to, making Scáthach's question a pertinent one.
Of course, Kischur just shrugs indifferently and replies, "Just assume the worst and use that 27:1 ratio and come back before the ritual starts."
We fall silent before Kischur suddenly claps his hands an announces, "Alright, let's get to summoning!"
"Not so fast, Kischur. I never agreed to this without consulting Altera and Scáthach, their say is just as important as mine-"
"We're fine with it. If we have another friend, you'll be all the better protected, Master."
Scáthach merely nods in agreement and adds, "Having another Hero of old to spar with would be most welcome, never mind that they could regale us with their own tales of yore. Altera and I are in agreement."
...Well so much for that potential roadblock.
Kischur just smirks at me and I roll my eyes before relenting and asking, "Alright, so what's this amazing catalyst you apparently got your hands on?"
He wordlessly slides a plain stone tablet with some kind of shed skin on it, a snake's skin to be precise.
Hmm...why does that sound familiar? Didn't Kischur describe this catalyst being used by a Tohsaka in the fourth Grail Wa-
I cast an unamused glare at the grinning Vampire.
"I'm legitimately questioning whether you're crazy or not. You want me to summon the King of Heroes?! The very same Spirit that apparently hated the current state of the world so much they were gonna let Angra Mainyu just go wild across the globe?! That's the very definition of, 'clashing ideals and motives', idiot! You got a case of the vastus animus or something?!"
"Hey now I've got a perfectly working brain! Don't go casting aspersions on my sanity!"
"Could have fooled me..."
I glance back at Altera and Scáthach, the two of them with carefully neutral expressions adorning their faces.
Basically saying that the decision is all mine to make.
I turn back to Kischur and sigh before raising an expectant eyebrow.
"Well? This is the part where you tell me the upside to this insane idea of yours, isn't it?"
"Heh, you know me so well. But I ain't telling. That would spoil the surprise! Only way you're finding out is if you go ahead with the summoning itself..."
I cast one last confirming glance at my two companions and they nod, obviously not too worried about any potential disasters.
"Altera, Scáthach? Stay alert and ready while we pull this off. If Gilgamesh comes out swinging I want you two to kill first, ask questions never."
The King of Combat just stoically nods, expression slipping into one of cold readiness while the Queen of Ulster gains an excited smile, obviously liking the idea of potentially facing off against one of Humanities oldest heroes.
Kischur just claps his hands and gleefully announces, "Alright then, go ahead and follow me!"
Resignedly getting up from my chair and trailing after the excited Vampire I reflect that most Magi would kill to be in my position, what with freely exploring the inside of the Wizard Marshall's workshop...and then they would have been summarily disappointed.
Twenty meters long and four tall, it's actually rather light on things dedicated to Jewel research.
A few benches and tables with various cabinets stocked full of different gems, a scattering of tomes and blueprints...and twenty of the precious stone shitting Guinea Pigs happily running around in their cage, a massive jungle gym that's easily just as big as the actual worktables themselves.
The most defining feature, however, is one entire side of the room with every available surface covered by a spiderweb of interconnected papers, maps, photos and bright red sharpie lines.
Most aspiring Magus would eagerly assume this is where he does his research and while they wouldn't be wrong...this is where the disappointment would sink in.
Because all of the posted information and notes is about pranks and schemes he's thought of over the years.
Receipts for elaborate costumes, smoke machines, firecrackers and a box of 1000 Whoopee Cushions.
Mugshots of roughly half the Clocktower's residents, all with various prank ideas written in frantic scribble beneath them, webs of red marker connecting them with other people who Kischur might be able to prank together and thus save time.
Geographic maps of areas where he might be able to unexpectedly drop said victims that'll achieve maximum embarrassment such as brothels comprised entirely of S&M midgets, manure dumps, animal breeding pens and, weirdly enough, one in the middle of Sea World.
...Not sure why that last one is on there, but I long ago learned to stop asking questions.
Needless to say, it's pretty easy to see where he spends the majority of his effort and time.
Tucked away in the corner of the room almost as an afterthought is a Summoning Circle, already made and set to do it's job.
"Alright, you get to do the honors. Oh, and here's your return ticket once you crossover."
Kischur hands me the catalyst and I wordlessly accept it before tossing it into the center of the circle, ignoring the loud clatter it makes as it does so and paying far more attention to the egg-shaped jewel he handed me. Much like The Jeweled Eye it merely seems flat, actually comprising of incredibly fine edges and surfaces.
It's also the only way for us to reliably get home once we cross over into another universe, the jewel able to open a portal anyplace and at anytime that leads to where we first made the jump.
I carefully set it on a nearby bench, making a mental note not to lose the damn thing.
"Ok, here goes nothing."
Altera manifests her Photon Ray in a blaze of multicolored light while a Gáe Bolg appears in Scáthach's hands with a flash of crimson, the weapon being twirled once before resting easily in her palm, both of them watching with an intensity that would make most normal people highly uncomfortable.
I let my mental trigger do it's thing-the sound of a xiphos being unsheathed echoing throughout my head-and let my Magic Circuits channel more Prana than normal.
"Hey, Throne of Heroes."
Being connected to Gaia-and by proxy Alaya-has it's perks, foremost being that when performing summons I don't have to bother with lengthy chants of self-suggestion and such excess verbiage.
And, you know...being alive for several millennia helps in having a pretty solid grasp of my mental faculties.
Regardless, the circle flares to life and in a process similar to when I first called Altera forth a physical blast of air and excess power hits us, albeit not accomplishing more than ruffling a few bits of clothing.
We're all too focused on the lone figure slowly coming into focus at the center of the spell array to notice tangential details anyway.
Golden armor that's masterfully crafted, at first glance seeming impractical but upon closer inspection fitting together in the way only a true piece of art can, deep blue embroidery decorating it with gentle swirls and cuneiform writings.
A helm of the same material, ivory horns arising from it in the shape of a bulls primary weapon, only a narrow slit showcasing piercing red eyes of the same coloration that Scáthach and Altera have that lock onto mine, the pupils unnaturally slitted, denoting the King's demigod ancestry.
Long, flowing blonde hair that escapes through a gap where the helm meets the neck, reaching down to his thighs in undulating waves.
A slight sloping of the armor's chest, most likely to...to…
"To think that, after my many, many years of rest, I would be brought forth from the throne for a rather...mercurial, reason."
The voice is a quiet tenor that somehow doesn't need to be loud to radiate pure authority, the tones and inflection carrying assuredness that world leaders could only dream of.
"You had best have a more compelling reason for summoning me than, as you so inelegantly put it, 'more firepower'."
Gauntleted hands smoothly reach up and remove the helm, revealing one of Humanity's oldest heroes in all of her glory.
Oddly pale skin, considering her heritage, light pink lips that barely have any visible imperfections and a mean looking glare.
"Ok, Schweinorg, you've got some shit to explain."
The old Vampire just looks way too smug for my liking as he grins at me.
"Uh oh, you're using my last name? I must be in trouble~!"
I start slowly counting down from five.
"...Sheesh, relax already. I got this particular catalyst from an alternate world...specifically, one where everything-and I mean everything-had it's gender reversed. And let me tell you, seeing a female Richard Nixon was the treat of a lifetime...still not as weird as the reversed color world though. Orange skies with black clouds and red trees was creepy."
I resist the urge to sigh and resignedly ask, "And you felt the need to grab a catalyst from that universe...why?"
"Well, partly because it was easier to find a relic that I already knew existed and looked like...mostly just because I wanted to see your dumbstruck face."
Of course he would travel to a parallel world and embark on a treasure hunt just so he could watch me act bewildered for a few seconds.
"If you two mongrels are quite done with your bickering, I await your undoubtedly compelling answer."
Open displeasure and slight hints of murder now infecting her tone I return my somewhat sheepish attention to the King of Heroes, an awkward silence that's abruptly broken as a golden light suffuses the room, two portals denoting the usage of the Gate of Babylon appearing before our eyes.
And before Kischur or I can make a move, my two companions make their presence known.
A Gáe Bolg smoothly rises to lightly brush against a gap in the golden armor's side while the Photon Ray unhurriedly rises to the King of Hero's neck.
"Please refrain from harming our Master."
While the words are polite, Altera's tone wouldn't lose out to frozen nitrogen in it's frostiness.
"What she said. While I quite enjoy the idea of testing my skills against the King of Heroes, this isn't the method I would prefer it to come about."
Seeming completely unfazed by the appearance of my two allies Gilgamesh merely furrows her brow as she stares at the two of them, curiously asking, "The Scourge of God? The Wizard of Dun Scaith? What Magics have turned you into women? And I go by the title of Queen of Heroes, not...King..."
The 'Queen' of Heroes falls silent, eyes suddenly shifting back and forth in rapid motions as if she was reading some invisible script.
Ahh...I see what the issue was with that hostile response.
According to Kischur while the Grail had given Heroic Spirits knowledge of the modern era, it had performed that action by more or less manifesting the spirit with said information present within their minds, much like how a computer would be sold with a few key bits of software already installed.
The method Kischur and I had devised works a bit differently. Rather than some blanket info dump the entirety of my memories are transferred over, bar none.
But that's the point, memories. It took Altera and Scáthach a few seconds when I first summoned them to realize they had a massive library of thoughts and experiences that weren't theirs, but could still be freely examined. Gilgamesh must have gone through the same thing.
Case-in-point, after a few seconds of 'recollection' the Queen of Heroes dispels the Gate of Babylon, prompting Altera and Scáthach to also lower their weapons as Humanities oldest sovereign stares at me and Kischur with undisguised curiosity.
"A Human slave who became the first of his kind to merge with one of Gaia's incarnations, who self-evidently commands the respect of Demigod like beings...and an Apostle Ancestor, one who wields one of the few remaining True Magics left to humanity in this day and age, who summoned me in the hopes of preserving this world's future."
I have what I'm pretty sure is the unique pleasure of seeing the Queen of Heroes perplexed.
"Had one of my kingdom's bards composed a tale such as this, I would have applauded their...imagination."
Feeling fairly reassured that this meeting isn't about to devolve into bloodshed I respectfully nod my head and reply, "It's an honor to meet you, Queen of Heroes. Any complaints or problems you may have with your incarnation can be directed to the old guy next to me, it's all his fault."
Kischur sends me a betrayed look but Gilgamesh completely ignores us, instead turning her attention towards the two other Heroic Spirits in the room.
"Hmm...the spawn of the White Titan and the warrior who, through dogged determination and sheer skill, eventually learned to kill Gods..."
All three women lock gazes, the tension in the air ratcheting up a notch and all of the sudden I'm wondering if it was a good idea to bring three of the strongest Heroic Spirits in existence into the same room on such short notice.
Kischur apparently has the same thought, as he quickly sidesteps behind me without the slightest hints of shame.
Now that's rather rude, considering he's the one with the near indestructible body…
Eventually, as if some invisible switch was flipped, the three ancient heroes relax simultaneously.
Gilgamesh's domineering presence reverts to merely being authoritative, Scáthach offers up a friendly smile and Altera easily nods.
Gilgamesh turns towards me and fixes that crimson gaze on my own before somewhat challengingly inquiring, "So, Master..."
Wow. The way she says 'Master' makes it sound like she's reading out my execution sentence.
"I, one who once ruled the known world, am meant to be subservient to you?"
I offer up an unworried smile before easily responding, "While I understand that there's several centuries-if not millennia-of my memories to sift through...I think you'll quickly come to realize that there's no form of control placed upon you aside from me feeding you Mana. No Command Seals, no Contract Geas, no spiritually binding pacts...I'm not a fan of things that restrict one's personal freedom."
The Queen of Heroes casts a suspicious gaze in my direction even as she falls silent, obviously delving into said memories in an attempt to ascertain if I'm telling the truth or not.
"You can relax, Queen of the World. Horatius may be many things, but he's certainly no enslaver. And don't be so dour and serious about everything, this job is far more fun than you're giving it credit for!"
I pinch the bridge of my nose before wryly stating, "Only you would find battling interdimensional monstrosities entertaining, Scáthach."
She just easily smiles at me, Altera adding her own bit by quietly announcing, "The food is very delicious."
Thanks for the backup there, Altera, but I don't think that's a sales pitch the Queen of Heroes cares much about.
Sure enough she just ignores the other woman and continues to think to herself, crimson eyes largely unfocused as she focuses on nothing.
...Well, there is a lot of information to parse through and I'll be the first to admit that my memory, while pretty damn good, is by no means perfect.
That was Irappu's specialty, not mine.
A sudden clap startles me out of my introspection and four pairs of eyes turn towards Kischur, the scheming Vampire sporting a playful grin as he announces, "Well kids-"
"I'm older than you, Kischur."
He ignores my interruption and blithely continues with, "-since you're all good friends now how about I send you on your way? You can work out the kinks in your teamwork as you go!"
"Actually that sounds like a terrible idea."
"Glad you're in agreement, one interdimensional portal coming right up!"
I resignedly sigh as a familiar rip in reality manifests before my eyes, a shimmering portal of shifting colors and sights that blend into some sort of fever-dream acid-trip.
"All set here! And remember, 27:1. At worst, 53 minutes over there will be one day here, try not to spend more than a month playing around if you can, would yah?"
I roll my eyes and dryly retort, "These one way trips really suck...any luck on finding a way to reliably travel back to the same place over and over that doesn't require me to carry around a Fabergé egg?"
"If I did, I would have freaking told you about it already. Now get moving and save me from having to do any actual work!"
Well, so much for that. Seeing as I don't have a clue how to access the Second True Magic I'll just have to take Kischur's word for it that traveling to the same location over and over isn't as easy as it may sound.
We can get to our location and open up a road to come back...but afterwards we'd have to find the thing all over again. And The Jeweled Eye loses track of the parallel world once Kischur actually opens up a portal to it, for whatever reason that he apparently can't figure out.
"Hmm...I can now see why you occasionally refer to this Vampire as a, 'pushy, conniving dick', as you so eloquently stated."
The room goes silent as we all stare at a slightly smirking Gilgamesh.
Did...did the Queen of Heroes just knowingly sass someone?!
Ok, something is seriously different about this summoning because the King of Heroes, according to witness testimony, was something of an arrogant prick who's idea of humor ran along the line of kicking puppies.
Unfortunately I don't get a chance to think on that as Kischur pouts at me and woundedly accuses, "Oh, so that's what you really think of me?"
"...Only on the bad days?"
With a haughty sniff he turns his nose the other way and with all the gravitas of an upset toddler replies, "Well go ahead then and take your girlfriends with you! I mean, who would want to spend time with an old dick like me, right?"
"Oh come on you old futuo, why do you have to be like-hrk!"
My breath leaves my lungs in a sudden burst as he plants his foot into my gut and promptly pushes me through the portal, my last view of this plane of existence being him grinning like a loon and slipping me a wink.
...Catamitus just wanted an excuse to kick me through a portal.
And why do I feel like I just forgot something important?
Hmm...first impressions of this world are, well, interesting.
The air is practically thrumming with ambient Mana, easily Age of the Gods level stuff, if not greater. Reminds me of the Reverse Side of the World a little bit...the quality and taste isn't too bad either, nice and crisp, if a tad smoky.
I offer up a brief sigh of relief as I can sense the three Heroic Spirits 'standing' nearby in their astralized forms, obviously observing things on their own.
It would have been rather awkward if Kischur had punted me through the portal and closed it before my companions could join me.
Regaining my feet I idly brush off the seat of my pants, briefly wondering if there's some sort of waterfall nearby to account for all of the background noise, a sort of staccato roar with interesting base mixed in.
[Pardon me, Master.]
A lithe, tanned arm wraps around my waist and with a strength that seems incredibly disproportionate to the actual appearance of aforementioned limb, yanks me away from where I was standing.
Not a moment too soon either, as a taloned foot that looks like it belongs on a mountain crashes down where I was standing, cratering the ground around it for a good dozen meters and causing me to raise an eyebrow in response.
So is this our interdimensional threat I should be worried about? It's certainly ugly enough…
At least 250 meters tall and appearing for all the world like a humanoid Godzilla, minus the stubby forelimbs and back spikes, it's certainly unpleasant to look at, nevermind the odd pulsating warts and other such crap that adorns it's hide.
Skidding to a halt after her brief sprint away from the thing Altera sets me down, a quick nod of thanks being wordlessly accepted by her as we start observing the whole picture.
And what a picture it is.
Several helicopter-like vehicles buzz throughout the air, none closing to more than 400 meters of the thing while, perhaps most interestingly, dozens-if not hundreds-of human sized figures fly through the sky on a mix of wing-types and launch a variety of attacks on the monstrosity.
The ones with bat-like appendages are using what appear to be Elemental Magecraft, a mix of fire, electricity and ice projectiles bombarding the monster while the flyers with Angel and Crow-looking wings are firing off beams of light in a variety of weapon shapes such as swords, lances and arrows.
...Well, not exactly Magecraft, but it feels pretty damn similar.
"Well gang, what do we think? Is the giant Monster our target or is the admittedly adept Magic humanoid creatures with obvious signs of modern technology?"
Scáthach manifests in a crimson wave that reminds me of the Northern Lights while Gilgamesh predictably coalesces amidst a small storm of gold particles, both contemplatively staring at the deafening battle taking place less than a kilometer away.
"If it's tall dark and handsome over there that's on our side, I'd say it's doing just fine. Take a look, those attacks don't seem to be doing much."
The Queen of Combat is right on the money, if the strikes don't simply glance off of the thing's flesh they only leave shallow divots and gashes which heal within seconds. Hmm...reminds me of a Dead Apostle a little bit, at least in regards to how quick it fixes itself.
"If we are to judge these...comrades of ours simply by looks alone, then the titan of filth will be no ally of mine. Merely observing the thing makes me nauseous."
I can't help but privately agree with the Queen of Heroes observation, especially once I get a good look at what one of those throbbing pustules does.
With a brief spray of some kind of disgusting looking ichor it splits down the middle and disgorges a dozen eldritch nightmares, the mix and match of monsters ranging from a humanoid goat demon to a crimson skinned lizard-man, all of them leaping to the ground or taking to the skies and further distracting the attacking forces.
...Not the grossest thing I've ever seen, but suffice to say it's a sight I could have happily done without in my life…
"...They're fighting to protect their homes..."
All of us, Gilgamesh included, look to Altera as she neutrally gazes at the far off battle.
...Well, not entirely neutral. I've spent enough time with her to notice the slightly furrowed brow, the minuscule downturn to her mouth that signifies her disquiet.
"And what fine observation has lead you to that conclusion, Oh King of Destruction?"
Seemingly ignoring Gilgamesh's sarcastic tone my second oldest friend simply replies, "Their movements, their faces...they are like the Romans when my armies used to ride to their villages, their towns, their cities."
The Queen of Heroes seems to accept that, another odd point that momentarily stumps me. Again, judging by her male counterpart's reputation, she by all means should have ignored Altera's words as the rambling of a mindless tool when compared to her own sovereign mind.
Instead, she seems oddly contemplative.
Something to think on when the world isn't blowing up around us.
"Hey! Are you four blind?! Quit standing around and get out of here already!"
We all turn in mild surprise as a figure swoops down for a heavy landing, clad in some kind of carapace looking armor that reminds me of a beetles, his four bat wings swiftly retreating into his back.
Huh, interesting. Looks like they can retract those things at will.
Even more compelling is that the figure spoke perfect Latin with no discernible trace of an accent. Odd…
"Ah, pardon me if this sounds strange...but I don't suppose you could maybe explain what's going out here?"
An incredulous gaze meets mine...and he momentarily falters upon seeing my companions, not that I blame him.
Scáthach with her bodysuit and vambraces, Altera with her tribal cloths that don't do much to cover her modesty and Gilgamesh adorned in her resplendent armor make for quite the mismatched trio.
And then there's me with a simple outfit of leather jacket, jeans and boots.
We probably look like some sort of seizure-inducing comedy group. Regardless, the figure gives a swift shake of his head to clear it and hurriedly explains, "Have you been living under a rock or something?! The Old Satan Faction came out swinging and used Annihilation Maker to create these damn things! Fucking Bandersnatch...worst of all is the Jabberwocky over here, even the Emperor wasn't able to slow it down for long! At this rate it'll reach Lilith in just a few hours...There's nothing you four can do, if you head sixty kilometers west of here there's a refugee camp, if you go now you can probably make it."
Well that was a whole lot of nothing that was just said...but I get the general context.
Big bad monster, made by organization and sent to attack a place, guy standing next to me thinks things are hopeless. Also I don't know what direction west is.
Not a lot to go on, but it's enough.
"Nothing we can do? Had you proper understanding of what you just implied I would have taken action to punish you for your presumptuousness...as it stands I will merely educate you on the matter."
Oddly enough it's the Queen of Heroes who solidifies my decision.
"Attila, Scáthach, let us show this woefully misinformed man of what Demigods are capable of. Besides, that creature is far too disgusting to let wander freely."
Crimson eyes meet mine and in an amused voice Gilgamesh asks, "Of course, with your permission, Master."
I don't think any of us believe for a second she's asking that honestly, her words mostly meant to humor me.
Another odd trait from the Queen of Heroes, this familiarity and 'jolliness', but I'll happily take it over the alternative.
Besides, I was gonna ask them to waste that thing anyway.
"By all means, go wild. Let this world have a taste of what a Heroic Spirit can really do."
Scáthach has an expression similar to that of a child dropped into a candy shop with no limit on their coin purse, Gilgamesh smirks before manifesting her helm and adorning it while Altera merely nods and turns to face this 'Jabberwocky', her expression becoming frigid in it's intensity.
...Who the Hell decided to name that thing Jabberwocky? It doesn't look anything like the namesake monster…
"Hey! Are you four even listening?! That thing is-"
I gently set a hand on his shoulder, offering up a relaxed smile and tell him, "Don't you go worrying yourself now, kiddo. They'll be just fine."
His expression suggests he thinks I've taken leave of my senses but all of the sudden the Queen of Heroes announces, "Well then, who shall take the lead in carving through these smaller monstrosities? Using my treasures on such lowly creatures does seem rather wasteful..."
"I'll do it."
Altera's emotionless response seems to amuse Gilgamesh and even Scáthach chuckles before playfully bumping the other woman's shoulder with her own.
"Why Altera, if I didn't know any better I'd say you're eager..."
The dark-skinned Spirit just calmly dips her head, glances at the Queen of Heroes and makes a small 'mmm' noise before going back to staring at the Jabberwocky.
Scáthach grins manically and says to the Golden Queen, "Oh, you seem to have inspired a bit of competitiveness in her. That's quite impressive, Queen of Heroes."
"It's only natural. I would have made a poor ruler indeed if I did not inspire my subjects to greater heights."
Her piece said the Gate of Babylon suddenly flares to life around her feet, odd wing-like constructs now adorning the side of her boots.
"The time for talk is over, shall we depart and show these commoners the strength of a true sovereign?"
The Lord of Spirits excitedly licks her lips and murmurs, "Oh I think we are going to get along splendidly."
Shaking my head in equal parts bemusement and pity for the poor creature about to suffer their competitive wrath I take a deep breath before settling in to do my part.
"Roar of the Crowd..."
With the echo of an unsheathed Xiphos ringing in my head I feel my Magic Circuits come to life, the opened pathways thrumming with energy as the near unlimited wellspring of Irappu's strength tries to force its way through them, in much the same way water tries to force itself through a dam.
While I haven't had to actually speak my mental trigger for a long time now...there's something intrinsically comforting about that mental shift that always brings me back to it.
A simple application of Fire Thaumatergy, counterintuitively enough, Frozen Domain 'convinces' the warm air around a certain area that there's colder air somewhere else, subsequently lowering the temperature. A competently powerful Magus could use this Spell to cause localized flash freezes and other such effects...I can only manage to make things uncomfortably chilly.
There's a reason Kischur had jokingly called me a 'shitty Average One'. Affinity for all elements, but without the necessary output to go crazy with them.
No matter, it works for my purposes just fine. Channeling as much prana through my Circuits as I can I feel my body start to rapidly heat...and promptly stabilize as the Spell leeches the excess warmth.
"All set here. The stage is yours, ladies."
I hear Gilgamesh snort at that but make no further comment as they all turn to face the Jabberwocky.
And then the air becomes heavy with released Prana.
Altera's Photon Ray becomes almost painfully bright to look at even as the Marks of War on her body shimmer with a fractal pattern of colors, the diadam adorning her head lighting up with a shifting pattern of blue, green but predominately red while her veil seems to almost sparkle with barely containable power.
Scáthach manifests two of her favored crimson spears, witchfire blazing along their lengths even as Primeval Runes reveal themselves along the fabric of her clothing, her previously excited smile becoming downright euphoric in nature, eyes half-lidded in a fugue state of awareness.
Gilgamesh suddenly starts to release blood red light as the God markings upon her skin and underneath her armor come to life, four Gates of Babylon manifesting behind her shoulders and hovering there like protective sentinels.
A grin I have no control over makes it's way onto my face, the old rush of fighting in the colosseum, to the death, coming back to me and I give the order that'll start this little job of ours.
All three Heroic Spirits blur forward at once, no more than three meters distance separating them.
Altera in the lead, her Marks of War allowing her to expel Prana in a steady stream that accelerates her beyond even what most Servants are capable of.
Then again, those three aren't anything so limited as Servants.
Scáthach takes up the middle, Runes and pure strength allowing her to keep pace perfectly, spears held at the ready to strike at whatever target might break through her friend's forward assault.
Gilgamesh brings up the rear, those winged boots flexing and shifting in an odd motion that lets her keep up with the other two Spirits, despite her lack of natural enhancements.
In about five seconds they've covered 400 meters and the first of the smaller creatures meet them in battle.
...Well, perhaps it'd be more accurate to say the first of them meet Altera's sword.
A Goat Demon has time to glance towards the sprinting Heroes-
-and then it finds roughly half of it's body mass unraveled by the Photon Ray, head going in one direction and legs in the other, bovine puzzlement evident on it's now slack features.
The same fate befalls eight others in quick succession before the beings realize they're being attacked, let loose a chilling assortment of howls and charge forward.
It doesn't do much except cause my three companions to marginally slow their pace.
Altera's weapon splits itself into three striking ropes of burning light-no doubt where she got the moniker, 'Whip of God'-that slash and strike in independent arcs, each and every swing ending one of the creatures before it has time to process it's imminent death.
Some of the luckier ones make it through the Photon Ray's onslaught and leap towards Altera-
-only to be killed with very precisestrikes of Scáthach's Gáe Bolgs, neat little holes being drilled into their heads or hearts as they skid to an undignified halt, hateful expressions permanently etched on their ugly faces.
Some of the smarter or at least more enterprising demon-things attempt to attack from the side or rear-
-and promptly find themselves nailed to the ground or crushed into pulp by a myriad of weapons fired from the golden gates surrounding Gilgamesh, bladed or blunt weapons being fired with equal abandon and not a single shot missing.
And in no more than 14 seconds the three of them reach the Jabberwocky itself, a trail of massacred bodies marking the path they took.
Now the real show can begin.
Gilgamesh kicks things off by dematerializing the four gates that had been shadowing her...and instead hundreds of golden portals manifest across the sky, bathing the landscape in a harsh glow as the Queen of Heroes slices her hand downwards, even as she runs at a parallel angle to the Jabberwocky.
With a deafening CRACK and metallic scream hundreds of weapons pour forth from the Gate of Babylon and with a noise comparable to someone setting off a few kilograms of C4-
-the vast majority merely bounce off of the Jabberwocky's skin, perhaps a few dozen actually penetrating at any depth.
The creature summarily ignores the assault, although the surrounding natives to this world swiftly back off, clearly not wanting to proceed with their assault until they can figure out what the motive behind that attack was.
Gilgamesh isn't deterred in the slightest, dismissing the majority of the Gates until only thirty or so are left.
The Noble Phantasms that fly out of these gates are a cut above the rest. Whereas the previous weapons had merely bounced off or caused the equivalent of a pinprick...these are a whole other story.
A spiral lance perforates the Jabberwocky and keeps going after it exits the other side. A pitch black scimitar ignites dark purple flames along the patch of flesh it slices open, the fire rapidly spreading despite the creatures regenerative powers. A sparking warhammer impacts against the Jabberwocky's flank and causes a twenty meter patch of skin to ripple with transferred kinetic force, no doubt making a bloody hash of the things innards.
...Provided it has innards.
Amidst all the rest of the various strikes and their effects the Jabberwocky doesn't make a single noise, the only response being that it briefly stops moving and it's regeneration takes over a second later, causing the wounds to disappear as if they never happened.
Another tense second passes...and then it's massive head turns in Gilgamesh's direction-
-before it lets loose a roar that sounds like two tectonic plates grinding together, taking a single, ponderous step in the Golden Hero's direction.
Which causes it to miss Altera's sudden appearance directly behind it's legs, Photon Ray incandescent with released power as it's three 'blades' combine to form a sword of light almost five meters long.
She leaps upwards and unleashes a powerful two handed swing-
-that tears a massive gouge out of the Jabberwocky's achilles tendon (again, provided it has one) and briefly staggers the monstrosity, the wound seeming to have trouble healing when compared to the Noble Phantasms Gilgamesh launched at it.
Taking advantage of it's brief imbalance Scáthach casts a Vind rune beneath her feet and the added burst of air, in addition to her own superhuman strength, catapults her almost a hundred meters straight up where she alights upon the creatures arm and sprints forward towards it's face, in seeming defiance of gravity.
Several tumors along the Jabberwocky's arm burst open as she does so, a sizable group of ugly freaks howling as they dash forward, openly baying for her blood-
-and they promptly start dying in droves as Scáthach tears into them with a lethal efficiency that is as beautiful as it is erotic, dancing and swaying with an almost sexualized style of slaughter.
A red skinned Devil creature slashes out at her face with it's talons, only for an unhurried jab of a Gáe Bolg to piece it's skull and cause it go limp as the Queen of Ulster gracefully leaps over it's corpse and casts a Sowilo rune midair, flames engulfing another three and turning them to ashes as she smoothly lands in a crouch, knees bent as if in prayer with the barbed spears crossed underneath her chest.
Two more attempt to attack her from the front and find themselves bifurcated by a swipe of her spear, allowing another duo to come at her from the sides. With a playful smile she flips a Gáe Bolg behind her back and stabs into the Jabberwocky's flesh, using it as a makeshift pole to hoist herself upwards and kick outwards with her legs, booted heels cratering each creature's skull and throwing them back several meters.
Still more pour in though, prompting the Warrior Queen to use a single arm to flip herself upwards in a dexterous display pole dancers would have envied and spin once, a far stronger Sowilo rune blazing to life at the end of the second Gáe Bolg's tip and engulfing the monsters in killing fire.
A forward flip rips the embedded Gáe Bolg out of the Jabberwocky's skin and brings it in a looping arc that nails the last attacking Demon thing to the floor where it stays, unmoving.
Scáthach resumes her headlong sprint towards the Jabberwocky's face, dark crimson hair momentarily illuminated by the embers of her foes burning bodies and I feel a bit of fond exasperation at her showmanship.
It speaks volumes about one's skill when it's as much provocative art as it is a fighting style.
In the brief moments she took to dispatch her foes Altera and Gilgamesh weren't idle, the latter continuing to weave in between the mass of small fry on the ground and the Jabberwocky's ponderous steps, Photon Ray a constant light show of destruction as she swings it with a single-minded efficiency, her artless but brutally effective strikes a stark contrast to Scáthach's more 'eccentric' tempo.
Meanwhile the Queen of Heroes took to the skies on some sort of floating carpet embedded with precious gemstones, Gates of Babylon still firing off a constant stream of high-ranked Noble Phantasms.
Apparently the Jabberwocky has had enough of that particular threat, however...with an animalistic fury it's jaws unhinges unnaturally wide, a stream of blackened fire issuing from it's throat and engulfing the Queen of the World, carpet and all.
I feel the briefest moments of concern-there's no telling what kind of nasty properties that fire might have-before relaxing again as a golden aircraft of some kind that I vaguely recognize as the Vimana used during the 4th Grail War shoots out from an extra-large portal, flying beneath the armored Spirit and she effortlessly lands on it, the only sign of her being hit at all is some slightly glowing portions of her armor and that's it.
Well, that and the clear irritation her body language is displaying.
The Jabberwocky gives another rumbling roar and splits it's maw wide-
-only for two crimson spears to shriek through the air and stab through it's eyes, eliciting a pained roar that raises an octave as swirling Is runes cause a wall of ice to cover it's ocular bits.
Clever, you can't regenerate what isn't actually gone…
The colossal creature lifts it's arms to no doubt scratch away at the blinding material...and quite literally gets disarmed by Altera and Gilgamesh a bare second later.
The sudden draw on my Prana forces me to open my Circuits wider as two very powerful Noble Phantasms come into play.
A massive array of Magic Circles flare to life directly above the Jabberwocky, Altera cutting loose with the Star of Tears and a blinding blue light flashes down from the Heavens in a destructive display most would normally attribute to a meteor striking the Earth, completely burning away the creature's left arm from the wrist up, limp hand falling to the ground below with all the grace of a crashing airplane.
It never ceases to amuse me how much of a grudge Mars holds against Altera (or at least her progenitor) that he'd reach across dimensions just for a chance to blow her up.
Gilgamesh's attack isn't as flashy but no less effective. Manifesting a silver longbow big enough that she has to hold it sideways the Queen of Heroes pulls back on the string, takes aim...and when the string snaps forward a storm of lightning bursts forth in the place of arrows, a two second deluge that blows the Jabberwocky's right shoulder apart at the seams, ragged and smoking flesh falling like rain from the injury.
I think it's safe to say this is where things come to an end.
As if on cue the largest Gate of Babylon yet shimmers into existence and with an imperious gesture the Golden Queen sends a huge sword flying towards the swaying Jabberwocky.
Thirty meters long and three wide, Ig-Alima never ceases to amaze...granted, it's still rather small in comparison to it's target, but in between the still struggling to heal injuries Altera inflicted on it's legs as well as the host of other wounds the weapon strikes with enough force to topple it backwards, like a mountain slowly slipping off the edge of the world.
The ground itself shakes beneath my feet and the thunderous CRASH noise reaches me from all the way back here as the monster impacts the forest below.
Angrily writhing back and forth, slowly but doggedly healing itself it looks like the fight may continue-
-until all eyes look upwards and see a new star in the sky, glowing bloody crimson like an overexposed lens flare, the woman holding it perched upon a barbed spear held aloft by a slowly spinning Luft rune, a feral grin adorning her regal features.
"Soaring Spear of Piercing Death!"
A violent throw of the blazing spear sends it slashing into the downed Jabberwocky where the world seems to freeze for a split-second…
And then, with an effect similar to viewing water pour from a showerhead through sunlight, innumerable darts of light start tearing through the monster, a lightshow of pure, destructive energy as the overcharged Gáe Bolg tears itself into pieces, each fragment containing a sliver of it's causality warping powers.
After a few seconds of this the Noble Phantasm shuts off like a switch was flicked and all is silent, the Jabberwocky unmoving as it lays sprawled on the ground-
And it's form abruptly crumbles, flesh sloughing off it's bones as the structure of it's body can no longer support it due to the countless tiny gashes Scáthach's Noble Phantasm inflicted.
With little to no fanfare the enormous corpse slowly melts away into nothingness, like a shadow finally exposed to sunlight.
...Well, that's a wrap. And it took just over two minutes for the three Heroic Spirits to finish things.
Said Spirits astralize themselves and even through the vague empathetic link we share I feel Altera's satisfaction at a job well done, Scáthach's afterglow of a good fight and Gilgamesh's smugness at putting the Jabberwocky in it's place.
[Nice work, Altera, Scáthach, Queen of Heroes. I think you wowed the crowd.]
Altera's voice comes back in demure tones, quietly replying, [Thank you, Master. It was nothing special, though.]
I glance up at the hundreds of flying figures, now seeming to shake themselves out of their stupor and beginning to mop up the smaller critters, a grin crossing my features.
[Well, If you say so.]
[Hmph. While it was no Gugulana, as a moment of idle entertainment I suppose it performed satisfactorily.]
I chuckle at the Queen of Hero's tone before turning to the dumbstruck guy who first approached me, his expression suggesting that I grew an extra head sometime in the past few minutes.
"W-what are you? Some kind of Longinus Wielder? How did you make those three appear and disappear like that?"
"I don't know what a Longinus Wielder is, so I'm just gonna go with 'no'. Also, I'm gonna need you to look at this."
I bring one of Kischur's many Mystic Codes eye level with the confused man-he assured me the fact that it looks like the Men In Black's Neuralyzer is just a coincidence, which I don't buy-and trigger it with a small pulse of Prana.
A very powerful selective memory loss Spell that erases more memories the more Prana you channel into it, quite a handy code for someone in my line of work. I pocket it as the man blinks dumbly for a second-
"W-what are you? Some kind of Longinus Wielder? How did you make those three appear and disappear like that?"
...You're kidding, right?
Damn, that's some powerful innate Magic Resistance, typically stuff you wouldn't find on anyone lower than an experienced Clocktower Magus…
Well, that's why we have backup plans.
[Altera? Kindly make him forget, would you?]
Materializing herself and raising the Photon Ray above her head the brown-skinned beauty bashes the poor sap over the head with the hilt and he crumples forward with nary a sound.
Pleasant dreams, sweet prince.
My companion astralizing once more I generally ask, [So who's up for a field trip? That Jabberwocky thing was headed towards something, might be a good place to start looking for more information.]
Gilgamesh interrupts with, [As opposed to the many plebeians still in the area that would no doubt be grateful to their saviors? Provided they are not disrespectful mutts, of course…]
Speaking up for the first time since the battle ended Scáthach advises, [Now now, Queen of Heroes, if we were to do that we would no doubt be welcomed with open arms...but we would also be the subject of much scrutiny, not to mention a biased viewpoint. For the moment retaining our anonymity and finding out more about this world we've travelled to is more important. This isn't the first time we've done something like this. Besides, we can always just reveal ourselves later.]
She pauses for a moment.
[Also Horatius just wants to explore, it being a new world at all.]
Guilty as charged.
Regardless, the Golden Queen is silent for a few seconds before the mental equivalent of a shrug is felt and her voice disinterestedly replies, [Do as you wish.]
Well, approval is approval.
With that in mind I reinforce my body with the ease of centuries of practice and sprint off into the surrounding forest before the rest of the unconscious guy's comrades come looking for him, clocking in at 80 km/h and weaving around trees with a relaxedness that allows my mind to wander.
Hmm...quite the interesting universe we seem to have found this time.
Human's with bat and angel wings, normal Humans that can fly around seemingly unaided, giant monsters that would put most of the stuff back home to shame in pure size and, perhaps most importantly, I was mistaken for a 'Longinus Wielder'.
Provided the term 'Longinus' implicates the same thing in this world as it did in mine that means there are people that have the ability to 'kill the divine', or something along those lines…
And if there are weapons or tools that can do that, obviously there must be Gods. Sure would explain why there's so much ambient Mana in the air.
Huh, I wonder if it's a God that gave off the black warning...
Well, so sense in taking wild guesses. As soon as we're a sufficient distance away from the small army back there I'll beg the Queen of Heroes into giving me a ride on the Vimana to the nearest sign of civilization.
And maybe ask why she's not being a total douche, unlike her male counterpart.
Mysteries upon mysteries…
...Dammit, I still feel like I'm forgetting something…something to do with getting back...home…
I take a deep, calming breath, let inner peace take me and-
"Schweinorg you senile MENTULAAAAAA!"
Hmm...now what to do, considering my fun with Horatius has run it's course and he's likely gonna be gone for awhile.
Well I could always try and get started on that plan to dump Mercury into another dimension...nah, that's too much work right now.
Instead I let my mind wander as I refill the water bottles of my precious little pet's cages, glancing at my workbenches and deciding that it has been awhile since I've taken a look at some of the ideas I've had floating around for awhile...now…
What the fuck?! Why is the jewel I gave that idiot to get back home sitting on my workbench?! How could he forget to bring that with him?! He had all the time in the world after I...kicked him through…
...I just meant that as a joke!
Ah Hell, he's gonna be pissed once this is all said and done. I better up my life insurance...
Welcome all to a fun little project that I've had on the backburner for quite some time now, but have finally got around to posting! This story is going to be a fairly lighthearted, fun adventure tale of Horatius and three of the more powerful Heroic Spirits interacting with the various DxD factions and such as they try to simultaneously find a way home and also complete the task they were given.
A fair bit of the character interaction and dialogue will be between the four leads though. While there were brief snippets of wordplay and past history future chapters will delve a bit further into the specifics of how Horatius, Altera and Scáthach met and some of their earlier escapades.
Drop a review or any other form of feedback and see you all next chapter!