This is chapter one of my story for a challenge issued by Alex-kellar on Deviantart. I know the story below sucks, but it might get better... no... It'll suck until the end of time.
-I revised this pitiful first chapter. Don't get me wrong, it's still trash, but so is the rest of this story. I only have so much magic in me, sadly, I must WASTE it on this mistake Dal left behind... Well then, see ya later, I have things to do.
A once clueless Auburn Red haired sword magus unwillingly tossed into a war against people who were far more experienced than himself. A foolish boy who strove to save everyone, only to realize that it was impossible and settle for as many as possible.
Shirou, the son of the Magus Killer, was thrown back into the flames of his birth.
Confusion swept him off his feet only for shock and fear to catch him once he caught sight of their faces. Faces he had long since forgotten were perfectly recreated down to every last detail. Each and every one of them looked hopeless, calling out for help, reaching out to the young boy.
He ignored them.
A woman cried out with hopes that the boy would take her infantile offspring away from the painful inferno.
It didn't matter. Shirou had long since thrown away his emotions along with the ability to care for others. All that mattered right now was his own survival. He stepped over her near motionless body, making his way towards... where? He didn't know where he was going, he merely picked a direction and walked. After a while, he found it hard to hold on to his hope.
So he let it go.
Another part of himself gone to the flames.
A distinct crumbling noise sounded off to his right side. A quick glance spared him the sight of a wall coming down, collapsing down over him.
It was a good thing he let go of his hope. There was nothing worse than holding onto hope so that it could be torn away from your grip, just like what happened with all of the people that he walked past.
He fell motionless as he stared up at the sky, waiting for his end to come.
And then he came.
'Why his he crying?'
'He looks happy.'
It'd be great if I could smile like that one day.
Kiritsugu's face seemingly disappeared, leaving a nothing but the flames and the darkening night sky. The flames turned red and began to swirl around a visage before turning into long scarlet hair. The sky soon followed in example, changing tones.
He had endured his personal hell once again to catch sight of something so very strange to him.
A bright blue sky remained unappreciated in favor the sight of a beautiful red haired woman staring down at him, her expression laced with genuine concern. She reached out to Shirou's neck, two fingers extended as she placed them on the boy's pulse.
"Are you alright?" She asked once she felt a beat.
Reaching down, he bent his mid-section and pushed himself off the ground. A groan of pain escaped his lips. Instantly, he was reminded of the injuries he sustained against Gilgamesh in the most straight-forward way.
Gashes and cuts across his entire body stung with a burning pain. Fractures received from deflecting hyper-sonic noble phantasms ached within his arms and legs. Each and every muscle in his body was sore. It felt as if he were a person who never worked out in their life and had decided to go on a hundred mile sprint.
His circuits were burning from extended use as well, he had started to use his own reserves when Rin's ran out. Constant moments where quick, reflex based action was required had drained him mentally.
All in all, he wasn't in the best condition and it showed in the woman's expression. In order to alleviate any concern she was feeling, Shirou turned back at her and smiled politely like how he always did to strangers.
"I'm fine, thanks." He said.
The woman shot him a look of disbelief as she watched him slowly stand from the ground. "You're clearly wounded..." She said. "Who did this to you? Was it the bandits?"
'Bandits?' Shirou thought. What was she talking about? There aren't any... A quick glance at his surroundings spared him the sight of several shady looking men lying on the ground, unconscious. 'Did she do this?'
Shirou didn't know what to say to her, it was obvious that he wasn't at the temple anymore, but he couldn't just tell a random person the truth of his situation. She was clearly a magus judging from the overwhelmingly large amount of mana she emanated, but that would make it more dangerous to tell her about. Still, he couldn't blame some bandits lest they suffer harsher sentences on a false account.
With no other option, Shirou did something that had no right to work. "It wasn't these guys. Don't worry about it." He replied, walking around the place, trying to catch sight of any recognizable landmarks. Finding none, he turned back to the woman. "Where are we?" He asked.
The red haired woman looked as if she wanted to say something, but stopped herself in order to answer his question. "We're in a bandit camp not far off from Clover Town." She replied, now more suspicious than curious.
Shirou quirked a brow at the news. He didn't know any place by the name of 'Clover Town', it didn't exist in Japan as far as he knew. Where did the grail bring him? "What country?" He asked politely.
"Fiore." She replied, narrowing her eyes at him.
This was the first time Shirou got even more lost after receiving directions. "Do you by any chance have a map?" He questioned after taking note of the oddly medieval appearance of everything.
Seeing her reach behind and grab a map, Shirou braced himself for something that he knew was a possibility. He lifted his arm in order to catch the rolled up parchment before unfolding it.
Looking up from the map, he swallowed nervously. "Is this a map of the entire world?" He asked, knowing full well it was when he saw 'Earthland' sprawled in big letters at the top.
The woman nodded.
Rolling the map back up, Shirou tossed it back to her. "Sorry for bothering you." Turning around, he set off to find a way back home, however impossible that it may be.
Hearing shuffling from behind, he turned back to face the woman again.
"Where are you going?" She questioned, her serious tone coming off as rather intimidating. "You've been found in a bandit camp with major injuries, I cannot let you wander off on your own."
Sighing, Shirou pulled the breaks on all of his plans. Raising a hand to his bruised rib cage, he walked back to her. "What about them?" He asked, looking at the unconscious bandits.
"The authorities will arrive soon. They'll handle the situation." She replied. "As for you, a visit to a doctor is in order."
Rubbing at one of the bandages on his torso, Shirou took note of his appearance. He was once concerned about his lack of modesty, but the bandages underneath had covered just about every opening in his tattered garments. It was a solution, one that made him look like a homeless man, but at least he wouldn't get cold at night.
Hearing the door to the hospital building open behind, he turned around to see a familiar scarlet color making her way over.
"So it was a sword fight then?" She asked, quoting what she found out when the doctor had questioned Shirou.
Shirou nodded, a positive hum escaping his voice.
"Then... How did you end up here, far from your home?"
Shirou took a deep breath, rubbing the back of his head as he glanced at the ground. "I don't know."
Erza nodded, a sympathetic look danced across her features for a split second. "Do you have anywhere you can stay?" She asked.
"I'll be fine." Shirou replied. He had decided not to trust her the moment he figured out that she was a magus of some sort, sleeping in the trees would ultimately be the wiser choice. Granted, he was in another world, but he wouldn't take any chances unless he had more information.
Erza looked like she wanted to protest, to question him some more, but ultimately decided that it was unnecessary when she met his reassuring gaze. "Well then, I suppose this is farewell." She said, stepping past him. "Goodbye, Emiya." She added, remembering his name from when he told it to the doctor.
Shirou waved, watching and waiting as she disappeared from sight before he did anything.
After she had left, he turned and walked an entirely different pathway. The place he was in appeared to be a small village, small and old buildings spread throughout the area, an occasional medium sized one peaking above the heights every so often.
The residents themselves were dressed in old-fashion clothing from the west as they wandered about the dusty streets. Idle chatter filled the air, but paused in moments when Shirou crossed their line of sight. He must have looked pretty weird to the villagers, not only was he dressed weird, but his attire itself was completely ruined and stained with blood.
Ah, right... blood... he probably looked like he had killed a person. Some stared at him with concerned expressions and others stared at him with wary expressions, the latter making up the majority as it always did.
Just as he began to worry about it, the last bit of evening sunlight had completely vanished and crowd had diluted, most leaving the streets in favor of their homes and the comforts of their beds.
The passing of time seemed to be happening faster for Shirou. The sky turned black and yet it shone brightly, an immeasurable amount of stars pouring out their light into the unlimited darkness of the sky, leaving a patches of blue and white hues in the endless sea of black.
And then there was the moon.
Clouds passed through the sky for a moment, luna's calming light breaking through the openings, her moonbeams illuminated a pathway that had been completely unknown to the sword magus. In that one moment, Shirou had followed the brightness of the moon and found himself over a short wooden bridge.
The small river beneath had been running calmly this whole time, yet he had only just begun to hear it now. The cool wind of the night blew gently across his form, as if it were performing with the sight and sound. Even the smell of cherries seemed to be emanating from... somewhere.
The perfect moment of serenity he had found himself in told him that either this 'Earthland' was a beautiful place, or he had been in the right place at the right time.
Looking up at the sky, Shirou admired the moon and stars. They shone brighter in this other world he found himself in, most likely due to less pollution and artificial lighting. Regardless, the sight was breathtaking, which wasn't exactly healthy for a man in his condition.
He silently wondered if he'd be seen as a strange person for ogling this world's version of the moon. Perhaps the residents were so accustomed to such a view that they barely gave it a moment of their time. Immediately after the notion was made, he rejected it. Even back in his world, there were people like Kiritsugu and himself that spent hours staring up at the night sky. Maybe somewhere out there, a family like his own spent time conversing under the moonlight.
Quietly chuckling, Shirou wondered how his adopted father would have reacted if he were in his situation. Maybe he'd find himself in the same spot, staring up at the same sky and reminiscing over the same memories.
This serene moment was when he truly relaxed, his muscles loosening and his senses becoming alert, he was allowed to appreciate his situation for once. It was also at this moment that his serenity was shattered, the sound of a commotion finding its way to his ears.
"Hand it over, lady."
"We know you're loaded."
Turning to his left, Shirou began walking. He began trailing the sound and soon found himself on the streets, wandering further away from the bridge until he found himself at a narrow pathway between two houses.
Any sense of serenity had vanished at that very moment.
His circuits were still hot and numb, using them any time soon would simply cripple them. Looking down, Shirou spotted a wooden plank leaning against the wall to his right. It was most likely left over from the construction of the house itself, which was still fairly new. However, the plank wasn't a means of construction at the moment, to the sword magus, it looked like weapon.
Reaching out, he grabbed the short eighteen inch plank of wood and held it in a simple one-handed sword stance.
"Stop right there." Shirou spoke, his voice held authority, a mimicry of Saber's tone, as he outright commanded the men to stay put.
The tone of his voice coupled with his piercing golden-eyed gaze caused the men to hesitate before answering.
"G- get out of here, kid." One of them spoke.
Shirou stepped closer, his eyes narrowing as if he were daring them to continue their criminal act in front of him.
In a moment of what spontaneous bravery- or more like outright stupidity, the man charged the wounded magus. Drawing a dagger in preparation, he held it up at the Shirou in a basic stance. The stance itself, while not too bad, gave away the man's next attack due to his amateur skill in whatever style he practiced.
Shirou flicked his wrist and batted the blade out of the man's hand. He motioned to analyze the dagger with structural grasp, but he simply couldn't perform any sort of magecraft in his current state. Acting quickly, he angled the thin end of the plank at the thief's neck and deftly swung it down twice in rapid succession before following up with another swing to the head.
As the man fell down, Shirou used his gut as a launch pad to decrease the distance between his remaining enemies and himself. As he ran, he spotted the two thugs charging him as well. Raising the piece of wood behind his head, he torqued his waist and abdomen as he slung the plank at the man in the back.
The make-shift weapon sailed through the air and struck him in the head, snapping in half in the process.
The man in front barely had any time to be surprised as he was struck in the chin. Shirou wasn't used to fighting unarmed, but the skills he gleamed from Archer weren't exclusive to the married swords. In fact, he had learned a lot from his cynical future self.
A swift jab to the gut was followed by another to the inner thigh, the attacks working their purpose to stun and temporarily immobilize the man. Utilizing the opening, Shirou took the few seconds he had to charge a sweeping kick, the strike landing in the man's ribs and causing him to fall over.
The one he had struck in the head had begun to get up, but Shirou barely had any stamina left in his body. Leaning as he walked over to the man, Shirou fell over, using the force of said fall to fuel another punch to his jaw.
They both fell over at the same time, the only difference being that Shirou wasn't unconscious.
Pushing off the ground, he sat upright and caught his breath- only to immediately stop breathing at the sight he saw.
He had no idea how he missed it, another thief was still standing, right next to the middle-aged woman they were robbing. Shirou had no idea how he missed it, he couldn't make out any defining features due to exhaustion and the abnormally long and worn out dark gray-ish brown cloak they were disguised in. They weren't that tall, but he still didn't want to fight them since it wasn't really possible right now.
As he examined the figure, he took a moment to glare at them, warning whoever it was to stay away from the innocent woman.
It was then that he noticed it. The figure tilted their head up, the lower half of a feminine face escaped the shadow that was cast by her own hood. Her lips were quivering in a frustrated frown, as if she were contemplating her next move and didn't like it very much. A bit of her voice became audible in the form of a grunt as she turned on her heel, ran further down the alley and left.
Turning back to the older woman, Shirou reached down and grabbed the small purse off the ground before stumbling to his feet and handing it to her.
"Thank you!" The woman shouted graciously, taking the offered object and pocketing it into her dress.
"Are you alright?" Shirou asked, still panting slightly. Upon seeing the woman nod, he continued. "You should notify the authorities before these guys wake up."
As he turned to walk away, Shirou heard the woman speak up, causing him to stop in his tracks.
"Ah!" She sounded. "What's your name, young man?"
"Emiya Shirou." He replied.
"You're not from around here, are you?" She asked after a moment of pause.
"I'm lost, actually." Shirou said, realizing how much he stuck out being an Japanese man in a western settlement... a Japanese man with red hair... maybe his biological mom was Scottish or something? It's not like he could find out now of all times.
"You look worn out, do you have a place to rest?"
Shirou shook his head.
"Perfect! I mean-... My husband and I own an inn nearby, why don't you come for a stay?" She offered.
Shirou reached up with his least sore arm, scratching behind his head as he smiled nervously. "Thanks, but I can't afford anything like that at the moment."
The woman scoffed lightly. "Nonsense! I can't possibly charge you after what you did!" Stepping closer, she reached out and grabbed Shirou's arm in attempt to support his weight. It was a fruitless effort, but he appreciated it nonetheless. It was the thought that counted after all.
"We can't have our heroes going homeless now, can we?" She added.