Thanks to Lord Revan ColcytusRising, Krzysztof Wierczyński, Delirios de un sonador, Hexamon, Emiya Archer, 3loc, Calvert K Hose

Chapter 11: A Sword's Edge

Penelope's POV; The day after

It was a good night of sleep, and I felt like I shouldn't live.

Well, more like late afternoon to night, but I think that what I am describing is understandable, when the light outside was enough to know it wasn't early, but the heavy clouds were enough to know perfectly that it was just a resting moment.

My back didn't hurt anymore, but it was itching like crazy.

I started to think of stretching, but I could feel a hot breath, a warm weight, and above all a hot liquid, on my shoulder.

Slowly turning my head I saw the blonde-haired Annabeth drooling on my shoulder, her eyes closed and small snores rhythmically coming out her mouth.

I was somewhat stunned, for like a second, before rudely, quickly, and above all justly, shoving her to the left, so that her weight, her morning breath, and above all her thrice damned droll didn't flow on me.

And I could at least scratch my back, or at least try to, a strange feeling of numbness, of not feeling exactly right, when my fingers got on it.

Then, the second after I could move my shoulder enough, and oh wow I was really warm in this blanket that I am sure I didn't have on, the weight was back again, this time with murmurs of protest from the girl, and I knew that someone, someone who ought to apologize, was awake.

Under his silver eyes, there were two bags of slight black, while the white of his eyes was full of red, and his fingers were continuously tapping on the ruined wheel of whatever-the-hell we were on.

Also, was I wrong or I could see the spring from my seat?

"I was quite hard-pressed in finding a car, brat. If you really are that critical of the ride, find something else that will work and also find somewhere where I can put runes, so we are not stopped in every populated zone due to your behavior."

I ground my teeth at that, and shoved the girl who was now snoring, and drooling, on my elbow against the boy.

The girl made barely a sound of discomfort when she landed but, before the stupid meanie could say anything, I took my hand inside my own bag and grasped my own bag of boring things.

Meaning my own toothbrush, a useful tool against the small enemies of candy, and my own soap.

And a good shirt. I could feel my skin sticking to the seat, and I could also feel that there was something tense behind it.

Tense and a tad unfeeling.

"Remember the pendant." Came the chiding tone of the utter asshole, something that mom would absolutely agree with, and I did, of my own volition, take the pendant and activate it, my hair standing up for a moment before flattening again.

The jacket was already on and damaged, both knowing the meanie he would be able to repair it without much of a problem later and so, with a lot of fear in opening the rust bucket, I went out.

And oh wow was this a rust-bucket. It was incredible that I slept that well.

The service station itself was...nondescriptive.

I could see many Russian-looking words, and some horizontal white-green-red flags, around, along with beat-up cars and camions.

Some had strange names, and had "Chavdar" on them, while the cars were FIAT 850s and such, while some signs had the "video surveillance" were all around, both in a strange Russian and in English.

There were also some hammers and sickles around, which was...surprising?

The people around also didn't, at the very least, look happy, and many were looking up at the, for now, just cloudy skies.

There were many bad words, at least those that were in English, which if I was aware of would blame Sheru for it to anyone, and many bad looks to those clouds.

There was a small shop beside the gas station, and the signs for the bathroom were pointing inside of there, with my presence not exactly registered when I passed by those people, I walked as fast as possible towards it.

The inside, in which I was greeted by the sound of little bells, was full of smoke, and many Russian-looking things, with again many of that white-green-red flag, strange curved knives on the walls, along with that almost forgotten smell of alcohol, and a much more good aroma of tea.

Bad tea, but still tea.

An older-looking woman was inside, paying some attention to the men around while lazily smoking her own cheap cigarette while having a steaming cup on the desk while nursing her head with her not-occupied hand.

Her black hair almost ended in a veil, while arrows-like tattoos were on her arms, or maybe more waves-like?

Well, in any case, I could feel my own mouth slightly dry in there, and even more when her black eye zeroed on me and, despite her being old and not being really as dangerous as the meanie in the car, that made me almost go ramrod straight, but the low curses and the strange looks around from both men and women, of all ages made me just walk faster to the counter.

Luckily the pendant was working, I was sure of that, it was like a warm coat that, when I was in front of those eyes, and that sneer, made me able to ask:

"I am sorry, but I really need to go the bathroom, may I go please?"

The woman stared at me for but a moment, then she pointed at a door with those signs.

I quickly made my way over there, entering the girl's part, the feeling of my hair rising, of my goosebumps coming and of my teeth chattering a bit rising up again.

This wasn't good.

I was able to enter the bathroom, a dirty and full of moss one, and finally, paying much attention to make sure there was space, I was finally able to take off the ruined jacket-armor and the shirt, my pendant being stuck in an awkward position due to one of the links being now bent badly due to the kicks I got.

And I could see under it, now, that three thin scars ran just before my back, already whitened.

I stared at them for a long moment, then two long moments, then three.

Those were my first scars.

They felt...strange.

The same way I felt, in a way: I couldn't look away, but I also couldn't look, an ugly feeling rising up when I stared, at the shirt I was going to put on forgotten in my hand.

There was almost a static in my ears, that made the already low words coming from outside this dirty and twisting them into hisses, and I started to salivate so much, feeling warmth against my back my mouth dry and full together, and my breath was coming far too fast while a maniac laugh-

Inhale. One-two-three. Exhale.

The feeling of the sea, of the earth below me, of-

When I heard the door open, I was barely able to turn my head towards the entrance when a young woman, with the same tattoos that looked arrow-like, or jagged lines going around the arms in a circle, entered, her dark eyes zeroing where I was, her teeth almost bared like a dog, then to the pendant, and the black eyes scanned it, almost hungry and at the same time furious.

Or, in short words, a fifteen-year-old bully.

"So, what brings you northern fucks down here?" a heavily accented voice asked, while I quickly put on my shirt and touched my right pocket, where the pen-sword now was.

Her voice was like nails on a chalkboard, even if I knew instinctively that it wasn't, and it didn't make sense to me it was, but before I could answer she gripped the pendant and dragged it, and myself, closer.

Only Shirou's heavy training on 'keep control of yourself, brat' made sure I didn't open the sword right there and then, and just held my ground with as much strength as possible, only for the nails to come back:

"Oh look here! This would sell good money if it's what is masking you from those pesky, and ugly as shit, singless Alkonostes that those oh-so-civilized cunts have unleashed on us normal cretins. How about a trade, little fuck? I will not beat you to death if you give us that little trinket, so we can survive a bit more."


Before I could show my own confusion, and the start of anger, she tugged a bit more and the chain I had, and in which the pendant was in, broke.

All my hair stood up in that moment, while from the store an alarm started to blare, and strange words, with an alphabet I had never seen, lighted up, while many curses in different languages started to arrive in my ears.

And that same smile of the bully in front of me became full-toothed, and she leaned down and spoke:

"Ooooh, so you are one of those "civilized", ain't ya? Well, now I really have to wonder how ya got this trinket. The northern fucks may also help us a bit if-"

"Maria. Stand down." An older woman's voice came behind, and the counter's clerk went inside the bathroom, her voice authoritative while her own tattoos were glistening in an almost silver light, and her eyes from dark had become a deep blue.

Then she turned towards me and I knew that she was doing something, that feeling of hair rising and goosebumps going up and down wherever she was looking, while the people outside the bath became more and more loud, until this woman shouted, her voice loud:

"Enough! Prepare in silence!"

The sounds outside ended, even if the movement didn't, and also the magical energy didn't, and her yellow stare of doom just continued, until she exhaled loudly and turned towards the bully:

"Maria, get outside. Also, give me the pendant."

The bully tried to retort, opening her mouth and marching forward, but a stare and an open hand were enough to make her huff and give my, and I stress the "my", pendant to the woman.

While this exchange was going on, I was able to quickly put on the jacket armor, which maybe would have been good enough if they hadn't given me back my, my own, pendant and let me go away.

"Now," The woman's eyes closed, her voice tired and her breath slightly ragged: "It seems like we were right, little demigods were coming this way."

Were they monsters? But they didn't feel, or act like ones. Not the ones outside clamoring again, and spoken words I couldn't understand completely, a mixture of English and of…Russian like? I hadn't heard it where we lived, so I couldn't piece it.

"And a child of the "civilized" sea god. Perun must be laughing his ass off right now. Remain here, I will make sure you survive the coming cataclysm, despite what we were asked to do." Her tone was sad, but her eyes didn't let go of mine while the pendant was still in her hand.

Perun? What in the name of the Root was she talking about? Who?

There was a sound of bells outside, and the whispers and muttering became shouts and angry cries, a man shouting "get out brat" intertwined with insults in that same strange language, or "it's not a fucking good place to be in, little boy!" from an old woman coming alongside the bully's voice insults.

"What the- Please, stay here while I take care of this, ok?" she put a hand near my shoulder, but I was getting angrier and angrier, and I didn't let her touch me, moving back.

There was a small shake of her head, but she went out, to the screams and shouts, and, after a few seconds, I was invested by muffled sounds and anger and shines of metal against leather and the feeling of magic and of hair rising, of power and of goosebumps on my arms.

And, muted, hidden, the assuring feeling I had felt every time I trained since after Shirou had helped me, and mom, of a sword tracing my throat.

I ran to the door and saw him standing there, the pink leather jacket being slightly torn in places, while his white hair was puffed and uneven.

His bloodshot grey eyes were scanning the crowd of men and women, like he didn't hear the shouts, or see the weapons being waved around, or feel the rising and rising feeling of the twin fires, but when his eyes found me, he zeroed and exhaled.

His hands didn't have anything in them but were open wide, and when he moved he kept one behind the other.

The sounds stopped when the woman who had talked to me, who had tried to ask me to stay away, hit the counter with her hand, the sound of wood on wood, that sound shutting up everyone else but not Shirou, who continued to move towards me.

His small strides were stopped by a hand, enormous, and that hand was of an equally enormous man, who had a short knife in his other hand and a long beard, red and grey, that covered an angry face that I couldn't see well from where I was, and a soft, barely contained, voice came from the woman at the counter, deep in its softness and in its almost sadness:

"You don't want this boy. We will shelter you until your gods have finished duking it out, and we take care of them. But stay here, and please don't try anything."

Shirou stopped for a moment, then he turned to the woman, not moving the shoulder gripped by the hand, and asked, the sword edges coming closer and closer while he hissed, his eyes almost shining.

"Do you know what you are doing? You know how many will die due to the Thunderer's stupid anger?"

I tensed, having forgotten since we started this quest that not just my mother was in danger, but that what Shirou said might as well happen.

Shirou didn't forget. I felt shame and admiration at that.

"We know. We know many will die, but the "civilized" gods made too many messes to be kept as powerful and known as they are. They need to be taken care of."

The woman's voice was again sad, and she turned away from Shirou, but I could feel she was just lying.

If she really didn't want to do that, then she would have helped us, not make this game!

I felt my own circuits activate, and the pipes strain, but Shirou's voice cut like a sword, and his neutral expression became angry, angrier than I had ever seen him, his tone scarier than I had ever heard, while he put a hand, the one that didn't have the shoulder covered, on the pendant:

"I will give you one chance to let us go. I don't know how you knew where we were, I don't know how you got us there in the first place, but if you let us go nothing will happen to you, or your family, but the power of old Thracian knives and of some forgotten Slavic deity won't help you from me."


I took a step back at the words, but the moment he touched the pendant I felt the sword on my skin becoming hundreds and hundreds, and the adults, and the teenagers, took a step back as well.

The man, maybe in instinct, maybe in fear, maybe with thoughts behind his action, tried to lower the knife in a clumsy stab.

Only for Shirou to let go of his own pendant, which now from having a suffused light had become inert, and making my body feel many, many swords and lances and clubs and everything all around, while only one knife appeared in his hand and, after dodging the attempt, used to pierce the side of the man.

The scream made me stagger back against the wall, the blood rushing out of the wound made me pale and the sickening slump, with the knife still in the wound, made me shudder.

Shirou eyes made me flinch because, besides the movement he did to plunge the knife, he didn't stop looking at the woman, who was now wide-eyed, and completely alert, and had taken up a small shield and what looked like a sica.

"Trace Bullet on"

Two swords appeared, in the still horrified silence, and plunged against the two cameras, destroying them.

Then he continued to speak, his voice almost bored but hands open again:

"You are twenty and want to risk the lives of millions, if not billions, because you have lost your little war between gods. The count is damning for me, and for you. Let us go, and there will be no more bloodshed. Please."

The last word was almost begged, and the woman beside me, the one who had planned this all, straightened up.

But the girl, probably her daughter, someone barely older than me, shouted a war cry, and the people around did as well, all trying to rush my teacher.

"Slava Bulgaria!"

In the moment the girl cried out, his hands were already filled with two swords, two falchions, one white with blue lines in his right hand, the other black with red lines in his left.

The first woman, with a shield and what looked like a war scythe, tried to run him with it, but Shirou avoided it by bending back and, with a quick slash, the white sword cut through the wood that made the handle and, while she was unbalanced, moved to try to cut her own hand.

I knew that, I could see his movement.

But a young man tried to jump him at that moment, from behind, only for Shirou to change the way his black sword was held and make a violent and brutal stab behind, which went through his shoulder and, with an agonizing scream that made me shudder and turn away, the only thing I could hear then being the sound of the man crashing against racks.

When I turned, I was the woman getting ready to join the fight.

I had a moment of hesitation, this being the first time I had ever seen people really hurt, but it was soon gone when while letting myself think of the sea, I shouted, my circuits thrumming with power:

"Ω θαλλατης ιππεις, πολεμους κλιβυετε!"

The pipes in the bathroom, which were already strained before, shattered and from them three horses made of water ran forward to trump the woman, only for her to turn and her eyes to become blue again.

All the while, a sickening crunch of bones being broken.

I felt the horses stop, and my powers strain, and, when I let almost out a whine, the woman jumped at me, her skin becoming of a wood-like color, and she crashed on me like a train shield first.

A piercing cry of a woman, quickly silenced was the company it made.

I was barely able to uncap my pen when the little curved sword tried to hit me, and I was again barely able to dodge the shield bash.

I tried to use another one of my powers when I dodged back, using my back foot to create a small earthquake, but the woman didn't care and kicked me hard in the stomach, making me lose both breath and retch for a moment.

I could see some blood droplets falling on blood while I coughed, having bitten my own cheek.

"I am the child of Veles! Stop trying to use his own domain against me, child!" She shouted, angry, and then tried to bash me again, only for a flying black sword to come her direction, which made her backtrack fast while it embedded against the wall between us.

We both turned and saw a carnage, which greeted us with another sound of breaking bones.

Of the twenty people, eight were now backing up, while grasping their weapons like they were a shield or a wall, while another woman, with blonde hair, was now on her knees, her left leg having bones protruding out after Shirou had kicked it inside, and always Shirou, with the hilt of his white sword, being right inside the guard of the woman, hit her temple, with another sickening wet cracking sound and a wordless scream that burned out almost immediately.

And he was watching us.

There were many bodies on the ground, and a lot of blood, and a lot of broken things, and the last one who seemed to be the young girl, who was between Shirou and the door and, after some shudders, charged forward with her little knife and her small shield, her wood like skin not as hard as the older woman.

Shirou just moved to the side in the last moment and, after making the girl sail off, he raised his now opened left hand, which soon had a sword, a long scimitar, which bit at the back of the girl, the sound of wood being carved what came to my ears, along with the sizzling of cinders and the smell of ashes.

That, and immediately after a piercing scream, a mixture of many animals crying in pain, of earth and rocks cracking and of water rushing away.

While she writhed on the ground, the woman I was fighting shouted herself, a similar sound but of many animals in sorrow, and of a far thunder, and tried to rush only for Shirou to step forward and aim the blade to the neck of the girl, now completely still in fear and faintly trembling, red cinders being where her wound is, something that made me feel satisfied in a deep part of me.

That made all stop, the only sounds remaining being the moaning of the injured and the soft drops of liquid falling around.

Then Shirou spoke, his voice flat and brutal and unyielding and sharp:

"The gods aren't the only things able to retain concepts. Mortals write their own histories, and carve their legends. Sometimes that's enough that their own concepts, more powerful than a god's power, are born."

He moved the left hand slightly, the plain but beautiful sword moving slightly alongside it:

"This is Paramerion. Not much in itself, if it wasn't for its previous owner, whose name was Basil the second Πορφυρογέννητος."

Born in the purple, my brain supplied.

"But his second epithet is more known, Βουλγαροκτόνος."

"Bulgar slayer." The woman breathed, having lost her own wooded skin.

Shirou nodded slightly, then turned towards me with his eyes and ordered:

"Penelope, get out and get to Annabeth. Prepare the car. I need to stay here and speak with these people."

I had never moved faster, while shuddering at the memories and the scenes and not wanting to ever see Shirou look at me with those steel eyes, or talk like that ever again.

Because he did that for me as well, and a part of me, a big part, was happy about that.


This was...a good chapter, I think. Could be always better, but it gives more insight and also helps the plot.

Maybe a tad too bloody, but that's where my mind went while writing, and it made too much sense.

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