This is something I planned a bunch after a lot of life events happening. This is dedicated so I hope you stick around. I have been outlining this for awhile with help from my Beta so I hope you guys enjoy the ride. This hint will have to do; Zelretch's magic works on Remnant. What am I getting at?
Chapter 1: ASHES
"So much to watch, so little that's interesting~"
If anyone had heard the voice coming from a certain location, located inside of a certain clock tower, they would have taken note. And in truth, only one did hear the utterance of a certain man.
"Please, Wizard Marshall. It scares me every time those words come out of your mouth." the voice of a man wearing a red coat with golden ornaments, called out. His perpetual sour expression bled into one of fear before he continued, "We just sent off the next prospects of students you took an interest in."
"It's just booooring Waver-kun~" Zelretch complained. Several minutes into listening to his whining, he saw old man flicked his wrist to make a screen appear from nowhere. Images flickered in and out of different places while Zelretch shook his head each time. The other man, one Lord El-Melloi II, cringed at the other's casual disregard of sorcery. The Second True Magic, the Operation of Parallel Worlds!
He wondered why the Wizard Marshall himself kept him around. As much as Zelretch denied it, his own skills were mediocre, and if it weren't for noticing the potential of Rin and Luvia; he would have surely been ignored. Then there would be one less pest in his vicinity.(Or so he thought of it that way.)
Zelretch snickered as a particular version of Shirou Emiya got himself into a certain... precarious situation. The amusement was short lived however, and in his boredom he returned to moving perceptions of parallel worlds as if it were a mortal's television. In the silence of the older master changing channels, and the younger averting his gaze in fear of learning something he shouldn't, Zelretch asked a simple question. "Where's that confidence the King of Conquerors raised in you?"
"And risk the chance of suddenly being in another version of myself? Locked in another Holy Grail War, with its rules turned on its head for the sake of your amusement?" El-Melloi II chuckled.
"Oh what a nice idea. I'm glad you mentioned that~" Zelretch grinned with a perverse smile. The younger man quickly backed off on instinct, a cold sweat falling down his back. His audible gulp made the older man laugh. "No sense of humor these days."
The images changed slower than before and the man gestured for the younger to watch. Zelretch knew if the boy could figure out his magic like he did the Edelfelts, he'd have a much more enjoyable time training him. Besides, the boy would never be able to actually learn the trick. Unravel the secrets like some scientist maybe, but practice it?
Zelretch 'oohed' when a new viewpoint appeared before him. This one was different than the others; The world had changed, there were no signs of modern countries and borders anywhere. The clock tower was gone, and so was the surrounding city. At some random location, a group of smokey, inky toy monsters prowled around on a self evident hunt.
"This is Earth… isn't it?" El-Melloi II murmured. His mind twisted up in thought, gears churning to understand the world in front of him.
"It's shattered, Type-Moon... interesting. Let's see how this occurred," Zelretch murmured the last to himself, as more and more viewpoints appeared in a blurry haze. Parallel worlds (using the previous realm as a focal point) flew by, all moving at different paces from each other. The timelines varied, events played out simultaneously; and just like that, everything blinked out of existence.
Zelretch laughed when the other boy could barely fathom what occurred. The wizened man left his chair, moving lazily towards a pile of nondescript items nearby his throne-like seat, each unassuming object a powerful artifact in its own right. The other could only force himself from moving.
"Are you going to intervene? I had thought you've been taking a break." El-Melloi II asked in a resigned tone. Never would he think to even attempt stopping Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg. He took a double take when a deck of playing cards rustled in the Wizard's hand, somehow causing a clear sparkle of gleaming silver engravings to appear. "Wait, prototype class cards!? Don't those still have some of their egos? Fragments of their souls are there, and I don't even know how you did it! Amongst other problems that weren't removed!"
"It... appears so?" El-Melloi II frowned from his spot, unwilling to go closer to check for sure. But he was sure, it would be worse than the Chaldea Incident!
"My boy." The air quickly closed off from the humor and levity it had earlier. A sad and sympathetic smile appeared on the old man's face. It was one of the few that never ceased to surprise Waver. He like many others thought the man was off his gourd. A price for reaching the Root. Zelretch spoke airily, "I loathe many worlds. Only because they are so tragic."
"They dance at an inconsistent tune, in a song that changes periodically. Always a moment of calm before a storm. Others, nothing but a storm."
The young man held on his breath. A long gaze he shared with the man turned into a small grin. Zelretch had a heart, only buried underneath it all.
"If you're so reluctant, I guess I'll keep everything a se~cret~" In a blink of an eye, Zelretch hollered just like before while he fazed from existence, leaving El-Melloi II stuck with a gaped face.
Moments later, the same Zelretch had a thoughtful grin as he sat down on his couch, El-Melloi II stood behind him by a blasé command. "Watch with me. You'll see my surprise soon."
"Wh-Where am I?"
Everything felt like water, as if she was endlessly falling into the ocean. Not a speck of light graced her eyelids, she heard nothing at all and she couldn't feel any kind physical sensation. Cold, Hot, Pain, even Numbness were void from her senses. Her eyes failed to open for her, arms were like lead weights which failed to pull up to her chest, not to mention the unresponsive legs. It was as if she didn't have any in the first place. She couldn't control her body, everything was gone.
She tried to take a breath of air…. and failed. She couldn't breathe!
Ou, Girl! Calm down would ya?
"Who said that?" The girl called out in alarm. With her eyes still closed, she couldn't tell where she was. It didn't feel like she heard. Or rather... hearing that voice was different than usual. It echoed and rang all around her being, permeating her entire form.
In a soft blaze of wind and fire, an image of her body played out, located in a village two days away from Vale. She couldn't feel the wind building up pressure, nor the flame heating up her body. Even her head wasn't able to turn. Yet she could see, and the girl was utterly helpless to interfere.
What's the last thing ya remember?
The voice was brash and fierce yet almost playful, speaking with a carefree attitude. She tried her best, willing the events to appear before her in the flame. The panic of her frozen body redoubled her efforts, wondering if this could be her escape from this torture.
"I remember seeing a little girl in the middle of the road, and… and…"
A fake. An illusion to get her guard down. Almost worked too, but the conjurer was reckless and inexperienced. It should've been so easy to stop the girl, yet...
"I got pincer attacked by a man with metal legs, my flame Dust didn't even blow him back."
If ya wanted that, you coulda used the other one. The clear crystal. You saw the kick a stone's throw away and didn't even strengthen your stance?
She quickly defended herself, not liking the tone. "My weapon was gone, so I used what I had at the time. They were too fast, I couldn't hit them."
Pure brute force. The third assailant came by and you were surprised! Ya thought you could handle them without any knowledge. Commanding the elements up there felt like you were above the world, huh?
"I thought they were bandits…." She murmured. The voice didn't pull punches in it's accusations. What else could she have done? All she had were basic defense classes from her town's militia. She wasn't a huntress, and she certainly didn't have the experience; she never needed more than the minimum. What'd the voice expect?
Now, what else do ya remember?
Try as she might, everything else after the attack was a blur. She had been knocked down somehow and afterwards... she felt a gasp until she couldn't breathe. An arrow got her.
"My back…" If she could cry she would've, then and there. Her legs weren't responsive back then. Everyone had spaces between the vertebrae, that was where her nerve strands were cut. She couldn't even feel as those two assailants lifted her up in a vice, let alone resist.
Got the spine real good. You'd be lucky if you could even feel anything below that waist a yours.
What else do ya remember?
"Nothing else after that."
"Well, I remember stopping at a small town by the lake up to the northeast. I was on my way to Vale until I met an old man that…. that wanted some help."
The voice didn't respond, yet somehow she could tell it was anticipating her reply. It was odd, the feeling encompassed her entire being; warm, inviting, yet a spark of electricity was there, ready to burst forth. She wanted to revel in the blessed feeling, but she sensed the voice wanted her to continue
"He handed me a box? No, a deck of cards as a reward. I told him I didn't know how to play."
The voice sighed. Ou, it's not for playing.
"Figured as much, way too pretty for anyone to just use… wait! I remember now! It glowed just before I blacked out."
Heh, those brats did a number on ya. You were wounded at the face, arms, legs, just about anywhere you could think of. But…
She waited for the voice to finish. It unnerved her, because she could tell it was trying to find the right words.
You're damaged, more inside than out. It's a mess.
"So, I'm guessing you're why I'm not dead? Where am I?"
Weirdly enough, she could feel the voice shrug. Even if there was no image, she knew it grimaced. Hell if I know. You're stuck in a box, far as we could tell.
That can wait. For now, what do ya wanna do? You wanna stay here and let whoever's in charge get their hands with ya? A slow death's not as great as you think it is. Or…
You wanna get out? They're not doing a thing to fix you up. You're stable, because of us, but that's all it's gonna happen. Won't last either.
Less than yer hoping for.
She could, as he said; stay put for whatever her captors had in store. A number of possibilities flew across her mind, none of it good. It was like that back in her hometown. Getting something from a legend, like a Maiden told to her by her grandmother was already something she didn't expect. Let alone the local doctors wanted to give her some kind of check up so often. A multi-faceted semblance they said, weird as it sounded. She didn't think it was a hard question to answer.
With her mind made up, she responded determinedly, "What do you have in mind?"
First off, its a bit late but, ah well, lets start over. Yo, name's Lancer. Let's get you outta here eh, Master?
"Alright… Lancer. My name's Amber."
The machines used to keep Amber stable also allowed others to view her vitals. If anyone had been close to a monitor, or if it were a different point in time (unlike now), they would have been alarmed the exact moment the scanners blipped. The most worrying display to make noise showed off increased brain activity. The EKG spiked into faster intervals as warning signs blared a dull tone into deaf speakers.
"[Synchronize, Lancer]" Amber's voice rang out, strained yet soft. A blue glow behind the neck blinded her sight when she tried to look through the glass. Her body hurt like no tomorrow. Everything was on pins and needles, a dull ache settling in when she broke her bindings, the restraints snapping as if they were made of paper.
The dying wail of metal grated at her ears. She grimaced when a hand wiped her eyes before it landed on the surface of her 'box'. Vision went down as far as they could, her parched lips cracked as she spoke her thoughts, "Bone and scars… This machine… didn't even give us nutrients."
No matter. The box sundered under her considerable strength quickly enough; the hatch cracked, glass shattered into a barely held together spiderweb, and the complex machine died in a swirl of disjointed humming. Amber grunted, her legs wobbling under the meager weight of her emaciated form. A hand found a metal bar she took for a brace, and she breathed.
Her Aura gathered around the muscles weak with entropy, and as fast as lightning, they supported her body as best as they could. It was evident her body was already in worse shape than she previously imagined. A spark of red glimmer failed to materialize in her opened hand, eliciting a frown. The metal bar she used before twisted and turned under her hands, screeching when she tore if from the ruined machine. The makeshift spear will have to do for now.
After straightening the makeshift weapon out, Amber engraved a sign at the middle of the pole: Eihwaz, the rune of so many things. Strength, reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, and protection. A shine encompassed the pole before it faded into ethereal dust. Dexterous fingers twirled her tool in place and she tested it on a second machine beside the one she tore out of.
A deep gash like an ugly scar clawed at the center of the second coffin. The upper components were sheared off, flying towards the nearest pillar to lodge itself into the stone.
With a nod, Amber twirled her spear a few times before keeping it behind her right arm, almost like it was second nature. Dismissing the odd thought, she scanned the area around her: Dim green fire flickered softly on wall mounted torches, barely illuminating the hallway stretching beyond normal sight. She narrowed her eyes at the figure of a man, a flask barely gracing his lips as golden courage drained onto his shirt. She deadpanned, "You gonna stop gaping, kid?"
She walked on the center floor, spear twirled a few times as she calculated the potential-no… obvious threat.
"The exit's behind you right? Stand aside."
Or we make you