Oh... Okay.

I'm pretty sure this is the most enthusiastic response to a first chapter I've gotten... ever.

Thank you. Thank you all. I promise I will do everything in my power to make this story as amazing as I can.

Beta-ed by Draconic


Shirou Kotomine knelt as the sun shined through the church's stained glass. His hands clasped in front of him in a solemn prayer.

'Oh lord, please grant me the strength to see my dream through to the end' he beseeched the father. 'For the sake of all mankind, grant me victory in this battle.'

Semiramis had done an excellent job dealing with the other Masters of Red. The first five were in a sealed chamber below the church, docile due to her poison, but unharmed and in complete comfort. Since he was already the coordinator for the Red Faction, the other Servants would not object to the orders he gave them. All that was left before he could begin was to wait for the final master, Kairi Shishigou, to arrive and have him join the others.

There was still Ruler to consider, but with Lancer and Rider under his control, he was confident that she could be dealt with.

Sixty years he had waited for his chance to make things right. To save all of mankind. He would not waste it.

He could not waste it.

And he refused to allow a single Servant to stop him from achieving his goal, no matter how powerful she might be.

'Master,' Semiramis' voice rang in his mind. 'It seems that someone is approaching the church. He has Command Seals on his right hand.'

Shirou smiled. 'That would be Shishigou. Strange, he's early.'

'I wouldn't be so sure, Master. This one is far more handsome than the photographs you showed me. None of those unsightly scars.'

That caused Shirou to perk an eyebrow. If it wasn't Shishigou, that didn't exactly leave him with many clues as to who else it could be. He had all of the other Masters of Red captive in the antechamber, and no Master of Black would be foolish enough to walk straight up to the church in broad daylight.

Could Shishigou have been ambushed by another mage who wanted in on the War? Was it possible that his Command Seals had been stolen from him? Well… yes, it was possible, but that didn't mean it was likely. The man had a fearsome reputation as a mercenary and as a necromancer, and from what intel Shirou had gathered, they were both well earned. Very few magi would be brave enough to try to kill him and fewer still would have the capacity to succeed.

What kind of ruthless killer could possibly have taken his Seals?

The doors to the chapel opened with a creak. Shirou heard soft footsteps slowly pad towards him. Whoever was approaching him was breathing evenly and not wasting any movement. Truly the mark of an expert assassin, or at the very least, a trained warrior.

Of course, that didn't rule out the possibility that this was just a very lucky individual who was walking down the central isle carpet without any ill intent. Both were viable possibilities.

'Should I eliminate him, Master?' Semiramis inquired, her smirk present in her voice.

Shirou thought it over for a moment, but in the end, there were too many variables. While he doubted this mage could pose a threat to him in combat, he would do well to gain some perspective before he resorted to violence, lest their death have far-reaching consequences for his plans. For all he knew, the boy could merely be a decoy in Shishigou's service. It would do little good to unnecessarily antagonize the man by killing his underling when he was just being cautious. Rightfully cautious in fact. If circumstances were different, it would have been Shirou's distinct pleasure to work alongside a strategist of the necromancer's caliber.

Still, he'd waited for this battle for sixty years. He wouldn't let all his planning, all that time, go to waste over a single hasty action.

"Hello," a young voice greeted behind him. "Are you the overseer of the Holy Grail War?"

Again, the mage's words were strange. While he was technically the church appointed overseer, all parties were aware that his primary function was as a Master. The Black Faction would have no need to register with him, and the Red Faction would not likely refer to him as such. How curious.

Not wishing to be rude, Shirou rose to his feet and turned to face the mysterious arrival. He was greeted with the sight of a young Japanese man about his height, if not a bit shorter, with red hair and amber eyes. His posture was relaxed, yet poised to act. He was on guard.

Shirou's eyes glanced at the back of the boy's right hand. Just as Semiramis had said, he had Command Seals, though were black instead of the traditional red. Strange… very unusual indeed. This man's mystique grew by the second.

Well, if he had learned one thing from his time in the modern-day church, it was that it was always best to first ask politely. The inquisitors would still be ready for their orders if and when the party in question failed to give the answers he needed.

Shirou gave the young man an honest smile. "Yes. I am the overseer," he assured the boy. "My name is Shirou Kotomine. It is a pleasure to meet you."

The effect of his name was instantaneous. The boy's guard tripled immediately, his arms moving into a fighting stance as he took a frightened step backwards. Shirou immediately sent out an urgent order for Semiramis to stand down. She had maneuvered behind the boy and had very nearly decapitated him on the spot.

"Kotomine?" the boy asked, his tone very different from a moment earlier. "You wouldn't happen to know a Kirei Kotomine, would you?"

Shirou's face lit up with joy. "Yes! My brother. You know Kirei? How is he?"

After his failure to stop Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia in the Third Holy Grail War, Shirou had been found by Father Risei Kotomine, the overseer at the time. The man had graciously adopted Shirou into his family, giving him access to the resources of the Holy Church to prepare for his next chance at the Grail.

In time, he'd also gained a brother. Kirei traveled with their father for the most part, but he had kept track of him as best he could. He had watched from afar as the talented boy had grown into a skilled and humble Servant of the Lord.

Nevertheless, though he did love his brother, Shirou had decided to limit their contact. He didn't fully understand the impulse. In a way, it felt like a revelation, but at the same time, it was almost instinctive. Whatever the case, he began to feel that remaining in contact with Kirei would ultimately be harmful to the both of them. There was a… distortion of some sort lurking within his brother, and as much as he wished he could heal it, he could think of no way to do so without risking the annihilation of them both.

Still, he tried to keep an ear out for news about him. And of course, his darling niece Caren. It was truly a shame about her mother.

What was his involvement with this mage? Perhaps he wed him to his sweetheart? Or maybe helped him see the light of God?

On the other hand, neither possibility would account for the boy's decidedly hostile reaction. However, it only lasted a moment. Then he scratched his head nervously. "Erm… he taught my friend magecraft."

Shirou quirked an eyebrow, "Really? I was unaware Kirei had studied magecraft."

"Well, I don't know all the details. I'm sorry, my friend doesn't really like to talk about him," the boy apologized.

Shirou sighed, to think that his brother had undergone something as significant as learning magecraft and hadn't thought to tell him. Kirei probably didn't mean anything by it. His efficiency was such that it probably didn't even cross his mind, but he still wished to be able to keep track of his accomplishments.

Oh well. Back to the enigma at hand.

He gave the boy a respectful bow. "That is fine. It is good to hear of him. Now then, are you a Master of Red? I was unaware the Clock Tower had recruited someone so young."

"Me? No, I'm not a Master," the young man denied. He raised his black Command Seals. "This is… well I honestly don't know what this is, but I can't summon a Servant with it. My friend though, she's a Master."

"She?" Not Shishigou then.

"Yeah. We weren't expecting to be a part of this war, but my friend's teacher—not your brother, mind you—decided to get us involved," he explained. "Except, we have no idea what's going on. We've fought in a Grail War before, but our Servant told us things are different in this Great War. Like with two teams of seven Servants, and how it's set in Romania. We figured that since the Church oversees the Holy Grail War as a neutral party, we could come see you for answers."

A Master who was completely unaware of where the pieces were placed in this War? This was growing beyond intriguing and turning into something suspicious. Perhaps Shishigou was killed after all and his Command Seals were passed to the young man's friend, a veteran of another offshoot Grail War as a replacement? That situation was still extraordinarily unlikely. And what kind of teacher would simply drop their pupils into a Holy Grail War, to say nothing of failing to inform them about who they were fighting against?

It didn't matter. He had only sympathy for their plight, but this unknown variable was far too unpredictable to leave to their own devices. She needed to be put with the others immediately.

Shirou painted his most welcoming smile across his face. "Of course. I would be happy to provide you with all the information you need. It is my duty as both the overseer and a fellow Master of Red. Would you please ask your friend to come join us?"

The boy cringed. "I can guarantee she won't do that."

Shirou raised his eyebrows. "Is that so? Might you explain why that is?"

"Because she's not a Master of Red."

Semiramis had once again positioned herself behind the boy in spirit form. Shirou ordered her to hold her strike. No agent of the Black Faction would just come out and reveal themselves so openly. Something else was in play here. Still, he slid his black keys from his sleeve into his hand, not invoking the blades, but ready to go at a moment's notice.

The boy quickly seemed to realize the implications of his words and raised his hands in a placating manner. "She's not a Master of Black either!"

That made Shirou raise an eyebrow. "Explain."

"Well… she's not a Master of Red or a Master of Black. We're… a third faction, I suppose. She didn't come because she figured you'd kill her rather than give her information."

"So, she sent you instead."

The boy nodded.

"Judging by those black keys you've got in your hand, I'm going to say her suspicions were justified."

Shirou stowed the weapons, his smile never faltering.

"You're very observant, aren't you?"

This was impossible. The Grail's prana reserves were already taxed summoning the fourteen Servants for the Great War, as well as the Ruler. Even if it was only one more, it shouldn't have the power to bring forth any heroic spirits for a third faction. And yet, the young man before him seemed too earnest to lie. And the mysterious black seals on his hand were proof enough that something unusual was taking place.

Then again, wasn't a Ruler from a previous war taking over a faction from the inside already an unprecedented event.

This new master would inevitably become an obstacle for him. Like the Black Faction, she would have to join him in his quest, or be eliminated. If she had come to the church, he would have ensured she chose one immediately.

But the girl had been clever in sending her friend. If something happened and he did not return, she would make a beeline for him and he would risk losing Servants before the battle with the Black Faction even began. With seven heroes on either side, losing even one preemptively would be a severe blow.

On the other hand, if he gave them the information they wanted, they could go after Yggdmillenia, and at the very least provide a distraction from his own plans. After all, the Black Faction had no idea this new group even existed, and the element of surprise could give them a critical advantage.

Shirou smiled, impressed. The girl, whoever she was, had manipulated events so that the only way he could win was if he gave her exactly what she wanted. And with her friend here in her place, he had no way to nip her threat in the bud. It was a superb move.

The priest signaled Semiramis to restrain herself. He sat down on one of the pews and motioned for the boy to join him.

"Your friend is quite the impressive strategist, young man."

The boy grinned and took a seat. "I agree. She's pretty incredible."

"I will perform my duties as the overseer to the best of my ability. Please bear in mind however that I cannot divulge any information directly relating to the Red Faction, nor can I answer anything that might pose a threat to my associates," Shirou explained.

He told the boy of the current situation, of how the Yggdmillenia had seceded from the Mages Association, of their position in Trifas. He even let slip that they had summoned Vlad the Impaler as Lancer. It would do him no good if they were caught off guard by the son of Dracul. If their Servant was eliminated, he stood to gain nothing from any of this.

Moreover, Darnic had spent decades studying the Grail. It would not surprise him if he had discovered a way to forcefully recontract Heroic Spirits. It would be even worse if their Servant were to be captured. He relayed this information as well.

"In addition," he continued. "We have confirmed the summoning of a Ruler Servant."

The boy raised an eyebrow. "A Ruler Servant? What's that?"

"A Servant summoned by the Grail itself to act as a mediator in the war," Shirou explained. "Its duty is to keep the competition from affecting the outside world. They are given two Command Seals for each Servant in the war and are required to have no wish for the Grail upon being summoned."

He remembered how this had been the case when he had been summoned. But that had changed when he had witnessed the abysmal state of the modern world. No better than the past he had left behind.

If he didn't help mankind achieve salvation, how many more would suffer?

He had to save everyone.

The boy smiled in relief at the description of the Ruler. "That's fantastic. A lot of innocent people got drawn into the last Grail War I fought in. I'm glad that won't happen here."

Shirou joined in his joy. Despite his plans for his fellow Servant, he had no desire for innocents to be harmed either. The Ruler's duty was truly a righteous one, even if it was sadly insufficient in the face of what needed to be done. It was a shame that he couldn't afford to have another Ruler running amok, but it was a necessary evil. And it would be one of the last evil deeds to ever be committed in the history of mankind.

Still, he was pleased that the boy was such a caring soul. Such compassion was rarely found among mages. Though, he would admit, he was curious about one aspect of the boy's story.

"Young man, you have alluded to your experience in a previous grail war. Do you mean to say you took part in an offshoot Holy Grail War?"

The boy immediately started sweating. "Well, I don't think it was an offshoot, but my friend and I took part in a Grail War in Fuyuki. Though my participation wasn't what you would call planned."

"Fuyuki?" Shirou muttered. "I was unaware that any of the false wars were held in the Grail's original home."

The boy paused at that and looked away, lost in thought. Shirou wasn't sure what to think of the boy's declaration. He didn't feel like the young man was lying, but he had endeavored to keep track of the all the false wars that had sprung up after the original wish granter's apparent disappearance. He knew for a fact that none had taken place in Fuyuki.

So why did this child believe he had fought in one?

The red-haired boy eventually turned back to Shirou with a worried expression on his face. "Father Kotomine, how did the Grail get from Fuyuki to Romania?"

Shirou closed his eyes for a moment, recalling his most recent failure. "During the Third Holy Grail War, the last true war, the leader of the Yggdmillenia clan, Darnic Prestone, discovered the Greater Grail, the source of the ritual. Seeing an opportunity, he allied himself with the Nazis and used them to steal the device. The Three Founding Families tried to stop him, but…"

A woman with long white hair lay unmoving in a field of red snow.

It was your fault.

"…he slaughtered them all."

The boy rubbed his hand through his hair, his lips tight in a thin line of rage.

Shirou couldn't blame him. It had taken years before he could look back on the event without suffering from the hatred he had needed to cast aside. He had done everything he could to save his Einzbern master, just as Risei had done all he could to save his friends, the Tohsakas. In the end, neither of them could save anyone.

The boy rose, his fists clenching for a moment before slowly letting out a deep breath. "I see. That's… not what I was expecting."

Expecting? How could the boy not know that? It was decades old history, and if he had participated in a Grail War before, then certainly he would have studied up.

Shirou had thought the boy an enigma. Now he felt the term was far too lenient.

The boy turned to Shirou and held out a hand. "Thank you for your help, Father Kotomine."

Shirou smiled and grasped the offered gesture. "It was my pleasure."

It truly was. Despite the boy clearly holding back a great deal of information, he had been polite, earnest, and good natured. Even when he was not telling the whole truth, it was clearly for the sake of his master, an admirable trait in and of itself. He simply wished he could stop referring to him as boy.

"Young man, I understand that you cannot reveal your master's identity for her protection, but may I know your name?" Shirou inquired.

The red-haired boy paused for a moment, as if listening to some unseen voice in his mind, but in the end however, he smiled at the priest. "I don't see an issue with that. My name is Shirou. Shirou Emiya."

The priest raised an eyebrow at that. True, Shirou was not an uncommon name among their people, but to find one so mysterious so far from Japan was rather amusing. He couldn't help the light chuckle that escaped his lips.

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Shirou Emiya. I wish you good fortune in the war to come."

"Likewise, Shirou Kotomine."

With that, the boy headed for the door.

Surprisingly, it opened before he could arrive. A large man in a black leather jacket and three scars over his right eye, slightly hidden by the jet-black shades he wore, nearly plowed right over him.

Emiya jumped out of the way and bowed in apology. "I'm sorry. I didn't see you there."

The newcomer, who Shirou recognized as Kairi Shishigou, raised an eyebrow. "No worries, kid. It's fine."

Emiya rose and smiled earnestly at the mercenary. "Thank you. …have a nice day, sir."

From behind his sunglasses, Shishigou's eyes glanced at the boy's Command Seals. "Yeah. You too."

With that, Emiya nodded again and exited the church.

Shishigou strode towards the priest. "You're the Holy Church's master?"

Shirou nodded. "Indeed. My name is Shirou Kotomine."

"Kairi Shishigou. Care to tell me who that was?"

The priest smiled. "Of course. We have a great deal to discuss."


FATEFATEFATEFATEFATEFATE

Rin was on guard until Shirou returned, a gandr aimed at the door. Saber had her armor on and her sword out until her former Master stepped into their temporary base.

Since the three of them would be in Sighisoara for a bit, they had rented a basement from an elderly couple (Why couldn't she just swallow her pride and hypnotize them?!) to serve as their home base while they got their bearings. The place was a bit musty, but the leylines would help prevent detection from outside magecraft.

After becoming Zelretch's apprentice, and reading up on how many of her predecessors had gone insane, Rin had taken to keeping her gem satchel with her at all times, just in case. Granted, being sent to another dimension to fight in a supersized Holy Grail War hadn't been what she was expecting, but hey, the life of a future kaleidoscope was never dull.

Oh, how she missed dull.

She hadn't exactly been given any time to prepare herself, so her supply of jewels was limited to some twenty-two gems of various sizes and prana values. She had been forced to pawn off one of them to get the money for the basement and had then used two more to form a communication link with Shirou. He had kept his crystal in his pocket during his conversation with the overseer, letting her–and Saber through their Master-Servant connection–hear everything that was said, as well as to try to stop him from boneheadedly telling the priest his name.

That left her with nineteen jewels for the whole war.

Nineteen jewels for fourteen Servants.

It had taken three just to hold Heracles in place for six seconds. Three more for a simple barrier spell that was shattered by a mere familiar.

The next time she saw Zelretch, she was going to kick him in his family jewels.

She sighed and looked balefully at Shirou. "Are you sure you weren't followed?"

"I caught two dove familiars trailing me back, but I took care of them," he assured her. "How are you?"

Rin tried to smirk at her boyfriend but even she could feel it was fake. "Shouldn't I be asking you that? I sent you into an enemy Master's workshop by yourself."

"It was the best option we had. Besides, if anything went wrong, I know you and Saber would have come to save me. Though, I'm not sure what he would have done if you had come."

Rin snorted. Kirei's mysterious brother was one hell of a surprise for sure. She wondered what sort of variation in this timeline had led to that happening. He certainly didn't sound young enough to have been born after her old teacher, so something else must have changed to add another son to the Kotomine family.

Still, as much as she distrusted the name, Rin wasn't someone going to blame someone for events that they had absolutely nothing to do with. "What was he like? The priest? Did you get the same bad feeling about him that you did with Kirei?"

Shirou scratched his chin in thought. "No. Not like Kirei. If anything, he felt kind of like Archer, though he was a lot nicer. He seems…honest, if very dedicated to the War. We'll have to fight him eventually, but if we need an alliance I think he'd be a good place to start."

Rin sighed. "Well, that's good to know at least."

"An alliance at this stage could be unwise," Saber advised. "While we would be a crucial advantage for either side while both are at full strength, they would at best be able to position us so they can easily eliminate us once we are no longer of use to them. At worst, we would be simple cannon fodder."

Shirou clenched his fists. "I'm sorry. I dragged you both into this just so that I could protect innocents from the War, but that Ruler Servant is already here for that purpose."

Rin put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You couldn't have known that, Shirou. Besides, Ruler may be able to protect bystanders, but they have no control over what the person who wins the Grail does with it," her eyes narrowed. "On what he does with it," she huffed.

Darnic Prestone Yggdmillenia. She'd heard the name in their world. He had been one of the masters of the Third War that she'd researched in preparation for her own. There, he'd died in pursuit of the chalice. Here, he'd taken it.

And killed her family.

Maybe they weren't her blood. Maybe she never met them. But they were Tohsakas nonetheless. And he had murdered them.

This wasn't like with Kirei though. When she'd realized he had murdered her father, she'd been furious. It was annoying enough that she'd been powerless, but it had at least been satisfying to watch Lancer kill the bastard. It was a shame it had been at the cost of his own life.

But in this case, her fury was less primal. She couldn't care as much that Darnic had murdered her ancestors. She'd never even met her own grandparents. What infuriated her the most was that he had stolen the Grail from them and was now treating it like his own property. He wasn't just insulting them, he was insulting the entire Tohsaka family, including her, just by having the Grail and high jacking it for his own ends. He'd had his shot and he'd failed, so he decided to throw a temper tantrum and spit all over their struggles.

She wasn't powerless this time. For the sake of her pride, she could at least avenge her family's honor and grind Darnic into the dirt where he belonged.

Well, that was why they were headed to Trifas.

"Alright, according to the priest, the Red Faction was cobbled together in barely over a week. The Black Faction has been preparing since Darnic stole the Grail. Fortunately for us, the Black Faction also have no idea we exist," Rin began. "If we use hit and run attacks against them and carefully assess their defenses, we may be able to weaken them so that when the Red Faction makes their move, the two will be evenly matched. Then, we can swoop in and take out whoever's left."

Saber frowned. "It is a sound strategy, Rin. But it does seem a tad… dishonorable."

"We don't have a choice," Rin declared. "You're strong, Saber. But even you can't take on fourteen other Servants, yourself. Especially if one is Vlad the Impaler. In most places, he would be summoned as a vampire, but here in Romania where he's a hero, he'll be a king, and have a massive boost in power due to his own fame. If we're really unlucky, he might even have access to the Imperial Privilege skill, and that's basically a cheat card that lets a Servant do whatever the hell they want."

Saber narrowed her eyes, but her stare was more contemplative than angry. Rin knew how hard this was for the King of Knights. While she was capable of discarding her honor if pragmatism demanded it, it was not something she enjoyed.

She sighed and nodded. "You are correct. Without Avalon, I am at a massive disadvantage against a foe of such power. It's like Gilgamesh all over again."

Shirou cocked an eyebrow. "Avalon? What's that?"

Rin rolled her eyes. "Avalon is a conceptual weapon Saber had while she was alive, Shirou. It grants her nearly unlimited regeneration. It's why she didn't age a day after she pulled the sword from the stone."

"Really? That's incredible! What happened to it?"

"It was stolen from me shortly before the Battle of Camlann," Saber explained. "If it had not been, the wounds that killed me would have been healed instantly. Like how yours were when you fought Archer."

"Geez, that'd be a nice thing to have right about now…" Shirou mused. "To have that kind of healing available at all times… and I still haven't figured out how I did that."

Rin sighed. "Yes. Another tidbit of mysterious knowledge that will do us no good if we focus on it right now. We need to come up with—"

A sheet of paper poofed into the air in front of her, floating gently to the ground. Rin's eyes widened when she recognized the handwriting and she readily snatched it out of the air. Saber and Shirou leaned over her shoulder to read it.

My god, how did you three survive a Grail War?!

The scabbard is in the idiot! There! You have a 'chance.' With him around, I get the distinct impression that you might never figure that out on your own, even given time.

This is the last time I'll be providing any assistance. You'll have to do the dirty work yourself, so… murder, mayhem, tax evasion, all that messy business is up to you.

Regards and best of luck,
Your beloved master,

K.Z.S.

Postscript: I assure you, this is not because I feel guilty for eating your tofu. It was vastly inferior to my chicken fries. Not your fault, mind you, merely that particular kind of tofu is a travesty against God and all his creations, is unsuited for use as anything other than paint thinner, and simply should never exist in any form. I am genuinely appalled that you're capable of eating that.

Post Postscript: On a much more serious note, I feel it would be wise to give you a warning about Darnic Prestone Yggdmillenia: I can assure you that you're a better mage than him in terms of talent, natural ability, and even raw power; just as in our world, he's little more than a manipulative, two-faced plagiarist. However, Darnic… cheats.

I'll explain: He's assimilated several souls into himself in order to extend his lifespan—only three times total, but as I'm certain you're well aware, that's far more than the norm—and in doing so, he has also acquired the power those souls contained. It doesn't help that he's a conniving schemer. He'll be more than a match for you if you try to face him directly. Nevertheless, it is in your best interest to ensure he dies. That priest was telling the truth, but if anything, he gave you a watered-down summary, not that this provides much more detail: In the world you currently find yourself, Darnic's alliance with the Nazis, turned out to be a rather one-sided arrangement.

From what I determined during my stay in that world, he had a Servant of unrivaled power. A great Irish hero who supposedly had access to all knowledge in the world, and as such could determine his enemies' weaknesses almost instinctively. But I digress. With this familiar at his side, he systematically hunted down and butchered all the members of the Three Families like animals. This includes your ancestors, as I'm sure goes without saying.

You may have a brief advantage when he hears your last name. He'll likely be… shall we say unsettled… to find out that he not only 'missed one,' but allowed them to roam free, so that she might be able to acquire power and seek revenge on him. Which though never a good thing, nevertheless would not lower you from the moral high ground in any contest involving this petty thief. If he figures out that you arrived where and when you are using Second Magic—and he might, he's a cheat not a fool—he's certain to make a point of 'acquiring' you in some form or another. You'll be getting a failing grade on this if you get your soul stolen by this leech.

As for his treachery: Once he had acquired the Grail, he called in his Nazi collaborators and successfully had it airlifted to his castle outside Trifas. And then he slaughtered all of them. Now, I'll admit, a dead Nazi is the best kind of Nazi, but nevertheless, they did much of the work, and he got all the credit because there was no one left to whom the deed could be attributed, which is consistent with most of his life's 'achievements'.

He's surrounded himself with other talented mages, giving them his family name, and I expect that he wouldn't bat an eye at killing them all if it helped him reach the Root.

It occurs to me that this postscript is much longer than the actual letter. Perhaps this should have been the content to begin with and the thing about the scabbard should have been the postscript.

Post Post Postscript: One last thing of note; Celenike Icecolle Yggdmillenia.

She's just terrible.

The worst sort of person. Awful, perverse, grotesque, top-heavy yak… just all sorts of unpleasant nouns. If you see her, kill her. Trust me, if you let her escape, she'll start fantasizing about mutilating your corpses in her smallclothes while making assumptions about how you pity her, which… unfortunately, your significant other might.

Rin's eyes nearly popped out of her sockets. She whirled on her boyfriend. "Shirou! Did you know about this?"

"That your tofu was better than Burger King? It'd be hard not to—"

"That's not what I—Wait. Hard because you hate fast food or because you like my cooking?"

"Both? I mean between the two of us we could probably open a restaurant. Also, I'll admit, I hate mapo, but I can recognize a well-made dish when I eat it."

Saber gently pushed the two apart before Rin could decide whether to kiss Shirou or kill him. "We are getting off topic. I am sure Shirou loves your cooking just as he loves you Rin."

The dark-haired girl blushed, turning away from the others ever so slightly in order to hide the grin that had sprouted across her face.

Shirou sighed. "Thanks, Saber. I'm not always the best at saying what I mean."

"Think nothing of it, Shirou."

The King of Knights spoke no differently than she usually did, but Rin couldn't help but notice that she was eyeing Shirou with what could only be described as fascination.

"A lot of things suddenly make sense now," murmured Saber. "That being said, I'll need to borrow my scabbard for the time being," she held out a gauntleted hand.

Rin blinked. She supposed it only made sense that she'd want it back. Avalon was said to be King Arthur's most prized possession, but—wait, what did she mean by 'borrow?'

"I was kind of expecting you to just want it back, period," Rin said by way of commentary.

"Oh, I most certainly do. I would happily take possession of my scabbard, however…"

She gave Shirou a look of complete exasperation.

"There's just the issue of your total lack of responsible behavior during our previous War."

Ohhh riiight…

Rin was sure her own face was mirroring Saber's now.

"I would like to keep it in my possession just until we encounter some other Servants, Vlad Tepes III in particular. Just to ensure I am not killed at such an early stage. And though I regret the necessity, it is, after all, just that. I'll need to return it to you."

"I really don't understand. Why do I need it more than you? —Wait, hold on, what do you mean irresponsible?"

Rin and Saber looked at each other, sighed, shook their heads, then went back to giving him that look.

"Okay, why are you two looking at me like that?

"I feel like I should not have to answer this, particularly since I am quite certain I've said it before, but you serially put yourself into unnecessary danger, to the point that it was difficult to gauge whether you even had a rudimentary self-preservation instinct. You lost enough blood, over the course of that one week, to fill a warhorse. You had your ribs shattered by the shockwave from Archer's attack that night in the graveyard with Berserker. Archer nearly severed your spine when Caster strung you up into Ryuudou Temple."

"You've got a pretty good point, Saber." Rin added. "Come to think of it, when you took that chain–or whatever that thing was–for me when the Rider class Servant attacked us, it punched clear through your wrist! And then you immediately ran off to fight a Servant on your own! It's a wonder you didn't bleed out right there, forget actually managing to survive long enough for help to arrive while Rider attacked you!"

"And that isn't even mentioning your duel with Archer—" Saber went on even further.

"Hey, but you agreed not to interfere with that fight—"

"Yes, I did. That does not mean I supported your decision. It was reckless of you, and by all means, you should not have come out of that battle alive. Archer dealt you multiple fatal wounds, and I can see now that the only reason you survived at all was because of Avalon. You could have simply let me—"

"Okay, okay, I get it!" he pleaded.

"Do you, Shirou? Do you really?" Saber eyed him disparagingly.

Rin very slowly shook her head no, to which Saber could only respond with a sigh. "Please just stop…" whined Shirou.

"Thus, my decision to merely borrow it."

Saber and Rin both nodded to one another again, as the Servant once again raised her arm, giving him a stern look.

"But for now… my scabbard, Shirou."

He paled.

"I-I don't know how to give it to you. What did the letter even mean by 'the scabbard is in me?'"

"Exactly what it sounds like," Rin said matter-of-factly.

"If there's a scabbard inside me, shouldn't I have felt the effects of it being there for… however long it's been there? It should be in the way of something. It'd be at least as long as Saber's sword, right?"

"It's a powerful magical artifact, it wouldn't cause any problems," Rin added.

"Just for the record, I don't know how long I've had it, either. I certainly don't remember anything about getting some sort of sheath put into my body."

"That's fine."

"If you plan on trying to surgically remove—"

Saber and Rin were giving him a different look now, one of confusion.

"We can't get Avalon out of your body by cutting it out of you."

Shirou breathed a sigh of relief, but at the same time, he began to sweat. Not cutting it out just meant that it had to be removed in some other way that he hadn't thought of.

"I still don't know how to remove it though."

Saber drummed the fingers of her right hand against her other gauntlet. She looked to Rin, who shrugged. Turning back to Shirou she said,

"It shall likely be a process of trial and error."

She probably wasn't considering the fact that her former Master might come away from this with a few burns or bruises, because she'd spoken just a tiny bit too brightly than would have been reassuring.

"Yeah, I don't like the sound of that either."

"Don't worry, it'll be fine, most of my ideas barely even involve touching you," Rin said. "Most of them. Now, arms out at your sides, don't lower them for anything. If you get tired, Saber can hold them up for you."

It wasn't like he had a choice. Even if Rin was being a bit gung ho about it, Saber had been right about needing Avalon.

It was going to be a very long evening.

That night, just as Rin slept with Shirou in her arms, Saber did with Avalon.

Although the king was far more affectionate.


This story will not always be updated this quickly, once a month will probably be closer to normal rate, but I pushed myself to make an announcement...

Of my brand new P a treon! (The site really does not like that word, does it?)

Yes, I have started pat reon! I'm never going to stop doing this, but it can't hurt to put myself out there. Link below and on my profile!

Link (delete spaces): www. p atreon.c om (s lash) themaster4444

Thank you for Reading! I hope you enjoy what comes next!

Go Forth and Conquer!


Omake: Rin and Saber's Lecture — The Fate Route Version- Written by Draconic

"There's just the issue of what happened during our first fight in our previous War."

Ohhh riiight…

Rin was sure her own face was mirroring Saber's now.

"I would like to keep it in my possession just until we encounter some other Servants, Vlad III in particular. Just to ensure I am not killed at such an early stage. And though I regret the necessity, it is, after all, just that. I'll need to return it to you."

"I really don't understand. Why do I need it more than you? Wait, hold on, what was wrong with what I did when we fought Berserker?"

Rin and Saber looked at each other, sighed, shook their heads, then went back to giving him that look.

"Okay, why are you two looking at me like that?

"I feel like I should not have to answer this, particularly since I am quite certain I've said it before, but—"

"No, you've got a point, Saber. I'll save you the trouble," Rin interrupted, "The issue is that you got everything on and in your torso–with the exception of your spine–smacked halfway across a graveyard, you numbskull!"

"That was—"

"If you honestly think you can say anything that'll justify taking a five-hundred fricking percent lethal attack for someone who will die the second you do, you are certifiably insane."

Shirou shut up.

Rin and Saber both nodded to one another again, as the Servant once again raised her arm, giving him a stern look.