If hope is what gives strength, then let hope pave the way forward.
The situation in Mt. Glenn had escalated fast despite all manner of preparations being made for the inevitable clash with the Grimm. The walls were rebuilt and fortified to the best ability of the engineer corps, and even the civilians had begun actively donating their aid. It was nothing dangerous per say such as running supplies or holding mass putlocks, but the general somberness of Mt. Glenn was lifting.
If one looked from above, people were constantly milling around the dilapidated buildings and streets left barely usable after numerous attacks. Moving like worker ants, rubble was being shipped and cleared to be used as ammunition for barbaric catapult-like contraptions created on the spot by whatever materials the engineers had on hand. There would be no aid from Vale, so people did what they did best and adapted to use whatever they had on hand.
Mt. Glenn had become a hive of activity in a way not seen since the first settlers and vanguards of Huntsman and Huntresses had first founded the settlement. There was a distinct air of fragile expectation born from the presence of one Jaune Arc.
The boy had become something of a walking church constantly protected on all sides by his father and sisters, and a conglomerate of veteran Huntsman and Huntresses.
Anywhere Jaune visited literally brightened with an almost translucent dome of energy that surrounded the area and healed away injuries and fatigue.
It was miraculous, uplifting, and the boy always had the most sheepish smile on his face as if he felt embarrassed at all the attention. Said dome would only recede when Jaune rolled up the flag of the war banner, yet he never did so while walking down Mt. Glenn's streets. There were always people who needed healing or needed their spirits lifted under the banner of the war saint's warmth.
Even in a passive state, the war banner of the Saint was potent, far more than it should have been. There was quite a simple explanation for this that all magi inherently understood.
It was tied into abundancy and scarcity concepts.
In Shirou's world, True Magics were those unable to be replicated by anyone or anything. They were pure mysteries each belonging to their own categories and thereby possessing distinct identity, niches.
The strength of any magic is reduced based on the number of individuals able to replicate it. Think of a finite pool of water, this is the magic capacity belonging to a certain craft. Individually, one would have access to all the water, but each new person would divide the portions equally among themselves until eventually, the craft becomes obsolete, unable to even be called magecraft any longer.
This was the very reason for the secrecy of the moonlit world of his homeland. This was also the clearest explanation of why the users of True Magic, Sorcerers, were considered so powerful.
In regards to Remnant, magic users were virtually non-existent. This meant that should a magic user appear, or in this case, a weapon of magical nature such as a Noble Phantasm, it alone may draw from Remnant's pool of magic.
The Saint's war banner in Jaune's hands was directly being fueled in this manner, creating a constant passive effect.
The strange thing about Remnant though was that Shirou could tell by the Aura of its inhabitants that it had used to be a world of magic and mystery. Yet it was as if the gifts of magic had all been ripped away all at once, any and all knowledge on the ancient crafts forgotten, but he digressed.
Just because Remnant had forgotten of magic, didn't mean that it didn't exist. What was left of it had grown back to a sizable amount after millennia of disuse in the form of Dust and a thin layer of mana in the air.
What did all this mean for Mt. Glenn? Well, nothing in regards to ordinary people, but everything for the Noble Phantasms he'd willing left behind to be sustained by Remnant's energy. He'd explain more on that particular matter later.
As it was, Mt. Glenn had fallen in to a state of emergency after a sudden collapse of the tunnels leading back to Vale. There was no longer any means of escape, meaning that fighting was the only real option.
His Master had been nervous at the news, granted the entire week had been spent in a high-strung state looking for her mother with no luck. However, she became particularly anxious when it became known that he would be separated from her, and only relented when he stressed that he could be by her side in an instant if she so wished it.
Yes, you heard that right. He'd attributed the remaining Command Spells on Ruby's hand as 'magic wishes,' she could ask of him. It was a concept she found easier to relate with, but not so much that they also represented the bond between them. This made it difficult for Ruby to ever make a wish as she treated her remaining Command Seals as treasures.
"I don't want to use it," she'd pouted before she'd been dragged off by Ector, the both of them tasked with sniping positions on the wall. Ruby hadn't been very subtle about her 'high-impact Sniper Rifle' component of Crescent Rose.
As for him, well, he had a different task.
Emergency positions had been ordered all across Mt. Glenn, and everyone was assigned their own specific post. His guise as Archer was to single-handedly guard the underground tunnel the Grimm had managed to dig beneath the settlement. This was where it was theorized that the Beringels had come from. Needless to say, but he was specifically assigned the role after considering the kind of fire power he'd displayed, and the limited space of the underground tunnel.
He alone was deemed enough to prevent a route should the Grimm make use of the subterranean space. He was basically considered a portable artillery, and Priam Verdant wasn't shy about stressing this right to his face in a brief briefing.
Above him, the ground was shaking with dull tremors, trails of loose dust and soil falling from the ceiling. The battle had surely started, and he truly did hope that Ruby understood that her life was worth more than any Command Seal.
The number of Grimm he'd glimpsed marching towards Mt. Glenn's walls was substantial enough that all one could see was Grimm anywhere that they looked. Artillery had already begun firing at flocks of Nevermore just before he'd arrived at the tunnels, thinning their numbers just enough that the defenders appeared less nervous about an aerial assault.
As soon as he'd secured the tunnels, he was fully intent on providing his aide to Mt. Glenn's defensive efforts on the surface. So, why then was he caught in this predicament that was surely hindering his efforts?
"For the last time," Shirou nursed his growing headache by pinching the bridge of his nose and grimacing. "Leave."
He was supposed to be alone. He was told that he was going to be securing the tunnel on his own, but as expected, the fact that he was positioned in such an important role had garnered professional attention.
"Mr. Archer, do you really not care for an interview?"
A mic was once again jabbed towards his mouth for an answer, curtesy of a rather stern yet beautiful looking woman with shoulder length silver hair parted down the center of her bangs. She wore a formal suit and heels: a purple collared dress shirt over a simple tux accentuating her curves.
Was this woman being serious? He glared. His facial features couldn't be seen from behind his mask, but his narrowed eyes were just as effective… well, at least for ordinary people.
"Is that a yes? Perfect." The woman snapped her fingers and her entire news crew suddenly appeared revealing that they'd been boldly hiding in the surroundings. "Hurry, roll the cameras!"
What is with this woman?
His inner lamentations were left ignored while the woman cleared her throat and took her position. "Your aspiring host, Lisa Lavender reporting."
There was a brief pause as the camera began to whir and record live to Remnant's cross-continental-transmit system, or CCT.
"Danger is afoot within the now isolated settlement of Mt. Glenn. A sudden attack of worm-like Grimm has collapsed the linking tunnels to Vale, trapping myself, my news team, and many civilians inside the settlement now besieged by a seemingly endless number of Grimm."
The camera panned out to take in the scene of the collapsed underground tunnel and random holes where the Grimm had likely burrowed through. It was a scene of devastation. The central shuttle system between Mt. Glenn and Vale was in shambles. Trains were toppled off the rails, smoking and blackened by fires, while pieces of debris and shrapnel were scattered all across the ground.
"While other reporters record the situation above, I have taken the liberty to brave danger to show what many interviewed defenders of Mt. Glenn's northern walls call an unlikely hero." Lisa explained cordially. "Why yes, the entire fate of the defenders above may very well depend on the success of a single person stopping any Grimm that may use the tunnels for a pincer attack."
Lisa let the news sink in for emphasis. She didn't even look frightened that she could very well die here today in Mt. Glenn's defence. True reporters were those that braved danger for the truth and only the truth. "Placed to defend the entire tunnel by himself, I'm joined today by not a Huntsman, but a mysterious mercenary calling himself, Archer."
Elsewhere, a certain blond perked up at the name before turning to look at the T.V. in her living room. She froze mutedly when the camera zoomed in on 'Archer's' face before the blond was suddenly right in front of the screen making inaudible noises of excitement while the raven on the blond's shoulder narrowed its eyes.
Shirou felt his brow twitch from beneath his mask. He'd seen the camera zoom in on him waiting for some sort of response. This was ridiculous. The only reason he was here was because it was likely that Grimm were going to appear not to be some mysterious guest in a news show.
He stared right at the camera, and said "leave," once again to Lisa and her news crew with the sternest voice he could muster.
"Please, excuse him. He's not quite talkative as all 'professionals' seem to be." Lisa spoke quickly on his behalf, ignoring his advice. There was a certain jab there, but this really wasn't the moment.
He gave up. There was no reasoning with reporters when they were in front of what they thought was a scoop. Instead of allowing Lisa's report to distract him, he focused ahead on the tunnels.
It may have been too dark to spot them further down the ruined train line, but several Grimm were charging in his direction. When he considered that these Grimm appeared at the same time the Grimm on the surface began their attack, then this denoted a layer of intelligence. For mindless creatures, the Grimm were acting too coordinated that he was beginning to grow suspicious.
In any case, the sooner he settled this, the better.
His left palm opened in front of him before mots of magical energy gave way to a black bow as long as he was tall. This immediately drew Lisa's attention. The entire frame appeared to be made of interlocking steel, wisps of tendril-like magical energy trailing around it.
A zapping noise resounded, carrying with it an air of intrigue as Lisa and her crew felt a buzz like sensation traveled up and down their spines.
"Is this your Semblance? And what manor of weapon is that? It doesn't seem to have any Dust chambers?"
He ignored her. This time producing a sleek twisted arrow in his right hand and notching it over his bow.
"Oh, ugh, a classic then." Lisa was fumbling for words while providing a brief background of weapon history. "Truly there have been stories of their use in the Faunus wars, but they have since been relegated after the creation of mecha-shift weapons."
Lisa went off on a tangent while he calmed his breathing and narrowed his eyes on the approaching adversary. Magic energy exuded off of him in waves that were greedily absorbed by Lisa and the others, a fact they didn't even seem to notice.
Magic was something Remnant once had, but had also been forgotten. In fact, no one, seemed to know of magic in the least meaning that humanity which was already outnumbered by the Grimm had lost a means of defending themselves. All that was left were Semblances of a past age enabling certain people to replicate feats of magic such as Ruby's speed and petals.
Unlike his prior world, Magic was something that didn't exactly have to remain hidden if no one knew how to utilize it in the first place.
Wind circled at his feet, rapidly accelerating and enveloping his figure in shimmering blue light that Lisa and everyone could now see was being siphoned by everything in his surroundings. The dim lit tunnel began to glow, translucent films of colour forming over Lisa and her news crew due to their close proximity to him.
He as a literal body of magic and conduit of the supernatural was the ultimate catalyst of a bygone age in Remnant.
"M-Mr. Archer, what's going on?" Lisa and the rest blinked while looking at their hands, all of them realizing what the energy surrounding them was. They'd seen it enough times around Huntsman and Huntresses.
This was the strength of Aura, the power of the Soul.
"B-But how?" The question was one not only asked by Lisa, but by James Ironwood of Atlas who was suddenly on his feet while reviewing the news feed in the middle of a meeting with Ozpin of Beacon Academy.
Once again, Shirou didn't answer. Instead, red light began to converge upon the tip of his arrow just as the sheer volume of Grimm sprinting through the tunnel came within sight. Beowolves growled with their claws digging into the dirt, while further back, Beringels sprinted with arms drawn forward.
Power rippled through his taut muscles, yet his mind was deceptively clear.
In the din brought about by the emergence of Grimm silencing all, a single voice was heard.
"My core, is twisted in madness."
The camera panned out to encapsulate Shirou's entire figure now bathed in crimson light. More than that, the arrow notched over his bow was splintering and cracking, revealing coursing blue energy within as it broke.
The concentrated red light at the tip spiraled, twisting until the air itself distorted into a vortex of billowing wind. Dust and debris were blown off the ground, the force of the gales causing Lisa to shield her eyes and her news team to crouch low in cover.
None could understand what was going on, let alone react in an appropriate manner.
What couldn't be felt through the broadcasting camera though, was the sheer pressure emitted from the arrow. It felt like a weight was crushing down over their shoulders.
"Get down," was all everyone managed to hear before Shirou's fingers loosened the notched arrow.
"Soar," the arrow rocketed forward, a spiral column of 'not Dust nor Aura' moving at speeds beyond human limitation. "Caladbolg."
Wind was rapidly sucked in at the point of detonation before being rapidly expelled back.
Lisa Lavender and her reporting team were knocked unconscious in wake of the blast, their camera tumbling to a halt and filming a blank wall. Yet one thing was clear from the broadcast: the deafening sound of an explosion.
Slowly, Shirou dismissed his bow, his expression momentarily easing before he moved Lisa and her news team to a safer location.
This felt as good of a time as any to leave, and now with no one watching...
He gathered magical energy into his right palm, and summoned numerous swords to stopper the tunnel now free of Grimm. If anyone saw what he just did, there was no way they wouldn't think of the Huntsman of Red. He wasn't concerned of others seeing what sort of capabilities he had as Remnant was in desperate need of actual heroes, but revealing Archer to be the Huntsman of Red was a no.
His alias as Archer would only affect him in the guise of a skilled mercenary with mysterious abilities or a type of Semblance. In no way would it be able to really affect him as much as the growing faith people were devoting to the Huntsman of Red.
Heroic Spirits are centered upon legends and belief, and in this way, they can be considered vulnerable. Napoleon of France was the simplest example. In no way did his tall stature as a Heroic Spirit match his height in real history.
If too many people believe you to be something you're not in real life, as a Heroic Spirit, you adjust to the subject of the people's belief; hence how he suddenly gained a divine attribute and had the impulsive tendency to bless people's marriages by leaving a decorative sword at their doorstep. The worst was the argument of whether he was a Faunus or not, and considering that the faith was heavily skewed for Faunus in general, he feared that he was going to wake up one day with some sort of unplanned animal feature.
The Cult of the Sun God tied in with the Religion of the Sacred Sword, or Sword God as it was being called, should it grow strong enough, would certainly affect him. This was the entire point of the matter which meant he had to be careful with what he wanted associated with himself as the Huntsman of Red. Should he reveal demonic-based weapons of blood lust, or destruction, the ramifications of a murderous cult worshipping him troubled him greatly.
'Archer' was and is necessary should he require more destructive arms. Moreover, he could easily do an exact impression of a certain cynic.
He nodded to himself once the tunnel was effectively blocked by several inches of steel that would kill anything that tried to pass through.
Grimm wouldn't be able to enter through here anymore.
With this task done, the guise of Archer was no longer needed.
His mask came off, then the dark overcoat, until the distinct red of his mantle became visible.
Lives were at stake, and nothing was more important than that.
With a thought, he dematerialized.
In astral form, physical objects no longer proved any sort of hinderance for Shirou so he moved freely towards a specific location. Inherently, he knew where to go since every weapon he'd ever Traced shares a connection of magic energy with him.
All around him, he could sense the signs of battle and desperation pervading around Mt. Glenn, yet it wasn't the time for his intervene yet.
He knew that no matter how strong he was, there was no way he could do two things at once. It was the common weakness of an individual verses a collective, and so, there was only a single method to remedy this situation.
"Nervous?" He called out as a he entered an enclosed room where Jaune Arc sat resting with a sigh under the protection of his family and various Huntsman and Huntresses fighting around him.
Jaune was being coddled, no questions asked, yet it was also out of necessity. His presence was too pivotal to risk when he provided a constant barrier of protection and healing for all those near him. Hence, why Jaune was sitting out of battle while maintaining a barrier around the building, an impromptu medical ward if one looked closely.
The boy didn't exactly look happy at his situation. Once again, he was being protected by those he wished to protect.
Shirou didn't really know the feeling. As weak as he'd been in the past, it never stopped him from doing what he thought was right.
At his sudden appearance, Jaune spluttered in disbelief, falling off the chair he was seated on and nervously pulling himself back up onto his feet.
"Y-You, y-you, Huntsman Red," Jaune's words were coming out garbled as his mind struggled to process.
Shirou raised a brow, yet nodded his head all the same. At any other time, he may have wished to give Jaune enough time to process everything, but right now, he was in a rush.
"You're dissatisfied?" He struck right at the heart of the matter, watching the way Jaune flinched. His lips pursed, and he refused to make eye contact.
"You believe that you can be of better use out there than in here," Shirou continued.
Jaune opened and closed his mouth, the grip he'd been keeping on the Saint's banner tightening in his indecision. "My father and sisters insisted I stay behind. I don't know why this banner chose me when I'm so weak that I can't even fight when it matters. My sisters said that they'd take me if I could land just one hit on them, but I couldn't do even that."
Jaune seemed to draw into himself, hesitation and doubt clouding his features, and prompting Shirou to sigh.
From how Shirou saw things, Jaune was already starting at a far better position than the original Jeanne of Arc had. Jeanne came from a family of farmers who knew next to nothing of combat and war. All that she'd had to arm herself other than faith was a single flag pole swinging a banner of freedom and courage in a hundred years war.
If Jaune was truly the parallel to Jeanne of Arc then there was only one lesson to be learned here.
Shirou stared at Jaune, grabbing him by the shoulders and forcing him to look up. "You don't have to be strong or capable to make a difference. Presence alone can go a long way."
Jaune shut his mouth, watching wordlessly as Shirou placed a hand over his chest.
"Heart, remember?" Shirou reminded, causing a rush of emotion to stir within Jaune. "The moment you lose faith, is the moment the people of Mt. Glenn will die."
The words sunk in. This was the reality, but it wouldn't have to be that way: Not with the presence of the Saint's banner.
"What sort of Hero do you want to be, Jaune Arc?"
Shirou pushed away as Jaune stammered yet came up with nothing.
"The choice is in your own hands."
Shirou didn't wait for a response.
He left without another word as Jaune bowed his head in deep thought, his gaze glancing out towards the window of the room where no Huntsman or Huntresses had been stationed.
Shirou could feel the edges of his lips tug upwards.
The protection of Mt. Glenn would be up to the potential he saw in Jaune now and in a way, he was reminded of his past self. Even if he didn't have the power or capabilities to make a difference, it never stopped him from doing what he believed was right.
The flag of the Saint billowed in Jaune's grip in much the same way it had when a naïve yet devote woman once carried it for the first time.
It was the banner which bore the weight of miracles born from a monotheistic deity.
A God of compassion, mercy, and of Light.
Much like Jeanne, Jaune had finally hardened his resolve.
It was more than Shirou could have asked for.
Wind whipped across his face, the loose fabric of his mantle billowing in the breeze as Shirou dashed from roof to roof, leaving behind inch-deep imprints of his footsteps. Any and all who saw him could only describe a red blur.
The speed of a Heroic Spirit was far beyond what any ordinary human could achieve without augmentation. His basic strength stat alone was already sitting at a letter grade of D which was twenty times the normal human value. C would be thirty, B forty, and A fifty, with EX-Ranks sitting beyond the parameter sheet on a league of its own.
If as a human he could already reinforce himself to a Servant's parameters to barely contend against them, then now as a Heroic Spirit himself who had access to reinforcement, his physical prowess was nothing to scoff at. This difference can rival an entire letter grade by adding (+) multipliers to his current attributes.
The point of the matter, was that with his inhuman capabilities, he was able to quickly analyze the situation of Mt. Glenn's defences and single out the most glaring points with unerring detail.
Inside his head, he could already picture Mt. Glenn's entire lay out, the distribution of the troops, and the problems people were already facing. Everything was processed through his Eye of the Mind (True) B skill. It provided him a heightened capacity of observation in battle refined through discipline and experience. While most useful when fighting against adversaries, its observational utilities made it efficient on any battlefield.
Right now, he'd determined exactly where he was needed and moved accordingly.
Grimm were sieging the walls at all sides, but once again, the weakest link was the north wall after the loss of its artillery. Regardless of the repairs the engineers had made, it was no longer as durable as the rest.
He stopped upon the tallest building in the northern district of Mt. Glenn and took in a breath.
Ruby was stationed on the north wall with Ector that was led by Nicolas Arc.
Due to the limited use of the artillery to focus only on flying Nevermores, Mr. Arc had created a ground troop to hold a position in front of the wall against the larger Grimm.
It was a common tactic, and one he'd seen used on the other walls as well. However, it wasn't feasible if prolonged. The other walls at least had the cover of artillery, but the north was holding based on the integrity of its Huntsman and Huntresses alone. Many would soon tire, then perish, before the defensive line would be pulled further and further back.
Through observation, he'd noted a key detail as to why he'd rushed to the north wall.
The Grimm were distributing their forces, placing a majority towards the north while maintaining constant pressure on all sides… they were being directed. Experience told him so, but then who could control this many Grimm?
An Elder Grimm came to mind, but even with his eyes, he couldn't sense anything distinct among the Grimm.
Regardless, if the situation played on as it did, the Huntsman and Huntresses of Mt. Glenn would surely fall. There were far too many adversaries and Mt. Glenn's forces were already spread too thin. Add in an unknown commander, then this situation was practically hopeless without intervention. Mt. Glenn would have been destined to fall, and any survivors would be forced to try and seek shelter in the subterranean galleries which certainly wouldn't last either.
One wrong decision, and the majority of the people here were going to die.
His lips thinned, his muscles growing taut.
From the corner of his eyes, he spotted Summer fighting side by side with Qrow, back to back surrounded in a sea of adversaries. The two were holding their own through a combination of flawless teamwork denoting the trust that the two had in each other.
On a high tower, the reverberation of Crescent Rose chambering every new bullet resounded as his Master had an uncharacteristically serious expression in her eyes. Behind her mask, he could picture her biting down on her tongue while aiming which in hindsight was quite childish.
Definitely Ruby though. In comparison, Ector was the one mounted on the artillery shooting down flying Nevermores.
Shirou readied himself for action, his knees bending, the colour of steel flickering over his irises as he gripped at invisible hilts. Yet, before anything at all could happen, a jolt shot straight into his mind like a flash of lightning. It beckoned him, called to him in this time of need.
A voice, not one, but many still.
'I-I don't want to die.'
Anguish in desperation, and the realization that the end of life was coming.
'I didn't even get to propose. I promised her I'd return back to Vale for the engagement.'
Regret and bitter sentiments derived from a love that had yet to bloom.
Everything entered his mind all at once, and suddenly, he could see. Where his eyes turned, he could perceive the nature of inner sentiments. He could feel the emotion of others; could understand their regrets and hopes, and it gave him pause.
He was glowing. All around him white light covered his shroud of red before dispersing out across Mt. Glenn in the form of shimmering white dust.
He was the Huntsman of Red.
The title carried meaning far beyond something as mortal as prestige. It was a symbol. His symbol built upon his existence as a Heroic Spirit.
What was an object of worship if not for the beginning of any Deity?
His newly acquired divine attribute flared from within him, responding to the pleas of the desperate and the damned in accordance with his own nature to save others. This was an aspect of divinity to understand the thoughts of the people.
By obligation, he was required to act with benevolence.
Death was inevitable in any battle. To save everyone was surely an impossibility proven by statistics and common sense. Yet when he could hear the voices of the people, their cries of lamentation and desperation. It was no longer a matter of 'if' he could do it or not, only that he would.
It was with resolution, that one may take action without hesitation.
First, he would save those likelier to die in the chaos: the injured, the weak, and the exhausted.
Faith carried him forward, the energy of the devote bolstering his spiritual form. His muscles slackened, yet his body moved faster than it ever had before.
He leaned forward, then vanished, reappearing to intercept the clawed appendage of a deathstalker intent on murdering a young Huntress in over her head. Disbelief came over her features first, followed by growing recognition until she was all but crying in relief. Her wolf ears perked up as she clutched onto a photo of the idol of all Faunus kept in a locket.
Just like Vermillion, the Hero of Red would come when needed the most.
"You…oh my god. I-Its really-"
The voice was cut off as he gently hoisted the blushing Huntress into his arms and vanished to reappear within the walls once more. "W-Wolf ears." He very pointedly ignored whatever observation the Huntress had made in the spur of the moment. Faith was an odd energy that molded to the belief of the follower. What she saw may not be what others saw. "P-Please be my alpha."
Okay, that one he really will pretend that he didn't hear.
He shook his head, his form blurring once more to the point that he was no longer discernable. Where death came to claim the lives of men and women, a figure in red would come and whisk them all away into safety.
Once, twice, it was hardly worthy of notice; however, when it happened all across the walls and more and more people found themselves safe and the Grimm no longer paying attention to them, word was passed down through the chain of command.
A buzz of hurried whispers resounded in the midst of battle, drowned out by artillery fire.
Up on a northern high tower, Ruby abruptly stopped sniping and couldn't help the swell of excitement welling up from within her. Everyone may not yet know who was saving them, but she certainly did. Ector who was beside her merely stared at the red blur traversing across Mt. Glenn with as much confusion as everyone else.
In the watching crowd of Huntsmen and Huntresses on the wall, Cinder's complexion looked as if someone had just kicked her in the gut.
Finally, Shirou landed in a crater at the front of the north wall of Mt. Glenn directly before the defensive line set up by Nicolas Arc.
All sound vanished as his figure came in focus.
All movement froze at his iconic appearance.
Shirou shook off the dust and gravel clinging onto his form from the debris he'd kicked up on impact. He stood tall, robust muscles and ethereal-like glow present for all to see.
Faith may take a role in sustaining him, but against this many Grimm, there was only one option left at his disposal to prevent overtaxing his Master. The spot he landed on wasn't mere coincidence or for dramatic effect, there was purpose here.
Willing his magical energy downward, he burrowed it deep into the earth.
There was one abundant source of power left untouched for what felt like an eternity: The untapped magic leylines of Remnant. It takes magic to catalyze magic.
Once his energy made contact with Remnant's leylines, he felt his knees begin to wobble.
The subconscious power of man lurking within Remnant seeped into him uncontrollably at the presence of a suitable conduit after years of oppression at the hands of Grimm.
His blood vessels began to burst, red veins popping up over the whites of his eyes.
The full extent of the dormant magical energy of Remnant wasn't something that his body could contain as its durability was far from enough to channel and direct it all, yet still he proceeded.
Right here, right now, as a Heroic Spirit, and as a Magus who walked with death, he would draw in the strength of the planet-no! Not the planet, but the repressed tenacity of mankind pushed to the near brink of extinction: Remnant's Will of Humanity!
Abandoned by the brother Gods, left in ruin to a world of bloody evolution, all that was left was the instinct for survival.
'I want to live.'
These four simple words represented everything humanity's subconscious stood for in Remnant.
His vision blurred, blackening by the edges such that he feared that he may pass out, yet a voice steadied his mind.
"You can do it! I believe in you!" His Masters voice entered his ears, filled with adolescent expectation and firm resolution unbidden by life's cruelties as it should be.
Fairy tales were meant to mesmerize and captivate the childish glee and thrill of wonder and awe when heard for the first time. A message of hope in the fight for a better future in that through perseverance, the hero will always prevail.
It was naïve, so utterly naïve and wrong to just assume that the best outcomes would always come to pass, but there was something there in that idealistic simplicity that brought meaning to being a hero.
Under their hands, the impossible becomes possible.
Very well. The time is now.
His presence reacted with Remnant's latent magical energy to the point that a wellspring of light began to exude from him at its center. The air began to shimmer and dance, constructs of magic in the form of butterflies and glowing sigils spreading outward rapidly.
What was lost was now found.
Even if it was for just this moment, the might of magic was wielded once more against the creatures of Grimm. The familiarity of the magic in the air had the Grimm instinctively prioritize him.
His inner armoury stirred with but a thought, vying for deployment, and amidst the surge of magical energy coursing through him, he let it all loose.
"I am the bone of my sword."
Reality cracked, shattering into pieces with the sound of tearing fabric as swords formed and stretched across the entirety of the horizon. North, south, east, west, the sword's spanned to the very heavens opening a gateway to what appeared to be a different world.
Eyes stared up; hope dared to bloom.
The swords soon cracked and shattered one by one into numerous mots of light carried down by the wind, none able to contain the vast energy of Remnant as a whole on its own.
He gnashed his teeth, blood pooling into his mouth. This was no longer a problem of quantity, but of quality. If so, then so be it.
The mass of swords suddenly began to dwindle, the vast curtain of steel retracting down into a single point held in his hands.
It all boiled down into a single sword able to bear the burden of what no other sword can: The weight of miracles granted by divine providence.
The sword was slim and lacked decorative ornamentation to flaunt. Yet it was blessed with divine providence, the natural aura it exuded carrying a breadth of mysticism and intrigue.
It would neither chip nor break: It was the sword of a Noble Paladin.
Holy Sword Durendal the Peerless.
It sensed its natural adversary in the creatures born from dark before it, yet more than anything, Durendal's true power as a sword was now in full use.
"Move!" Someone called out to him.
The Grimm chose this moment to resume their attack not only on him, but on Mt. Glenn's walls.
He glanced up to see dozens of Grimm already lunging towards him, but he didn't flinch. He didn't even move as Durendal's blade shifted into a pure white.
One moment the Grimm were charging at him, then in the next they had disappeared into mots of black dust harmlessly showering over him.
No, that wasn't quite right.
Smoke was wafting from Durendal but no one could understand what had happened.
Regardless, the time to attack was now.
By attacking, he would leave part of Mt. Glenn unprotected, but he couldn't just stand and do nothing either. This was going to be a gamble on a boy in over his head with an uncertainty that eluded even him, yet somehow that alone was worth betting on.
Shirou began to step forward, the sound of dirt crunching underfoot echoing in the muted silence of awe and wonder.
Durendal was a sword that would neither chip nor break. This was reiterated for a single purpose alone. As a sword, many could rival its destructive power and even exceed it, but none could ever surpass Durendal's capacity as a vessel.
It was the ultimate lightning rod, or conduit of power.
The overflowing energy of one of Remnant's ley lines was no longer channeled through him, but through Durendal's blade all at once and the blade didn't so much as whine in protest.
Thrice this miracle is called upon, and thrice this miracle will answer.
Light began to expand from the blade, growing bigger and bigger by the second and parting through the clouds themselves as Durendal emitted its stored energy.
For duty it's drawn. For oaths it bears witness.
It was a sword of light that seemed to stretch to the horizons at the ends of the world held in the hands of a single man who swiped it forward horizontally and erased an entire line of Grimm for as far as the eye could see.
It was a show of confidence, a message to the disheartened.
Believe in this sword.
Believe in its miracle.
He held Durendal in both hands, voice lowering into solemnity as he took a stance and beckoned as if in reverent prayer.
"Durendal." He intoned.
"Unleash your light."
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