Originally I was intending on waiting until next year to update... but I'm very bad at waiting so here we are.
Now... first things first.
I started this story before the Tsukihime remakes were announced or LB6 was released in F/GO. As such, anything from those sources is liable to be ignored.
So the 27 DAA are going to be my own versions of them based on the small amount of information we had prior to the new roster.
And even then, my interpretations may differ from other popular interpretations.
New chapters are going to be 9,000 words or more and released weekly. I have a small backlog ready for posting so I can guarantee that unless something that happens that physically prevents me from updating, I can at the very least keep this up for a minimum of two months (and if things continue to go how they have for the past couple of months, I shouldn't have issues keeping up with updates regardless).
I have also decided to focus solely on one fic at a time. As such, this is my only fic that will be updated until it is finished (outside of ficlets or the odd one-shot should I need a break from this fic).
Lastly, I have restarted my [popular monthly payment site that this site refuses to let you write] page. There you can gain access to chapters either a week or 4 weeks early.
The URL is - that sites url/thedistortedshadow
And... that's all for now.
The sound of clashing steel resonated through the halls as she parried yet another blow.
She hadn't even found the legendary teacher of Cu Chulainn yet and already she was running out of breath. It seemed that the people who had died undergoing her training had remained in this land, little more than wandering souls that attacked whoever came in search of training.
If the hound of Ulster had actually fought through this horde just for the chance to train under her, then that spoke volumes about his strength even in his youth.
Knocking another blade aside, she thrust Excalibur forward to impale the assaulting revenant, only to find her thrust deflected and the blade approaching once again.
Ducking forward she felt the knick of a blade from behind slice a shallow cut into the back of her neck. This wasn't the first time her instincts had saved her life since arriving in the Land Of Shadows. The warriors who haunted these halls were no slouches, each one would have probably been an exceptional hero had they not died before their prime.
Some of the individuals reminded her of the Knights who had fought with her. Though there was a clear difference. These warriors may have had the potential to sit at the Round Table, but they had never reached that point.
So while they were threatening, one on one, she held a clear advantage.
Unfortunately, she was almost completely surrounded and there seemed to be no end to the swarm.
She had to end this soon.
Gritting her teeth as she barely avoided another attack, she made her decision.
Releasing Invisible Air from around her blade should have had enough force to knock a human off their feet, but these warriors were barely slowed down by it.
"EX-" she cried out as she raised the blade above her head and poured magical energy into it.
"CALIBUR!" and with a mighty swing she brought the full power of The Sword of Promised Victory down upon her foes.
She didn't waste a moment.
Before the dust had even settled, she rushed forward, pushing what magical energy she could spare into mana bursts to push herself forward.
And soon she found herself facing a set of doors, large ornate doors that were shockingly unharmed by the attack she had launched. Barely registering their presence, she pushed them open before entering the room beyond at a full sprint.
It didn't take long for her to take note of her surroundings.
It was obviously a throne room, a large fire burning away in the middle of it, casting flickering shadows on the figure currently seated on the throne.
Swallowing in anticipation as she stopped and waited on the figure making their move, she glanced next to the throne and noted a series of spears, each of which caused her instincts to scream out in warning.
It wasn't surprising that the woman who gave Cu Chulainn his legendary weapon had made others.
The woman sat on the throne remained silent, her eyes closed but breathing steady.
It was a strange experience. To be on the receiving end of a cold, controlling silence.
Normally she was the one on the throne.
Soon Scathach opened her eyes and the silence continued.
It was slowly but surely growing more and more unnerving, the eyes of the purple haired woman practically bore straight through her soul. That one thing alone made her believe this woman was a legitimate godslayer.
"Who are you and for what purpose have you entered my domain?" the woman asked in fluent Gaelic, her tone frigid.
Taking a deep breath, she readied herself for what was to come.
"My name is King Arturia Pendragon," she declared firmly, "I have come to seek training under the princess of Dun Scaith, the mentor of Cu Chulainn."
The woman continued to stare at her for several seconds.
"Very well, I shall train you."
She was about to speak her worth before she processed what the woman said.
"Is… this a trick?" she asked, blinking at the sudden acceptance.
"I have been alone in this castle for millennia," the woman said easily, "the shades of those who died during my training aren't exactly the best of company."
She could barely believe it.
"I expected at least some form of trial before being accepted," she admitted.
"The trial will come, however it would be a shame to kill you so quickly," the princess responded.
The ease with which the woman assumed she would die from the trial was not encouraging though.
"Very well, I am honoured to receive your instruction," she decided to ignore the part about her death as she bowed before the woman.
Now she just had to make sure she proved her worth and survived the training.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Taiga felt herself deflate as she sat on a cushion in her own home, her grandfather seated at the same table with a cup of sake in front of him.
She wanted nothing more than for Shirou to leave the drunkard's presence, but if he did then she was at risk due to her connection to him. Meaning the only way he could safely leave Sumire was if he also left Fuyuki… and despite how much she hoped the boy would leave the vampire, she didn't want him to leave her too.
"What's the matter Taiga?" her grandfather asked.
She simply released a sigh.
"It's nothing grandpa," she replied before remembering Shirou's request, "Shirou wanted me to ask you if you could arrange for him to apprentice under a swordsmith."
The man raised an eyebrow.
"Don't lie to me Taiga," he responded, "I've known you long enough to tell something is bothering you."
"It's… not something I can tell you," she said, "but the part about Shirou is true."
"I don't doubt that part," he said, "however you're never this quiet and I cannot help you if you won't tell me what the problem is."
She released a sigh.
"I know… but… I don't know if you can help with this problem," she informed him.
"You honestly believe I cannot help you with something?" he sounded sceptical, "need I remind you just who you're talking to?"
"I know," she said, "but…"
She didn't know how to get him to drop the issue. One of the issues with having such a powerful grandfather was that there wasn't much he couldn't help her with.
The fact that she didn't even know if it was safe to tell him the truth only made matters worse. After all, there was no telling just how the city's overseer would react to a Yakuza boss learning the truth.
She blinked as she remembered that she now knew who the overseer was and had an easy method of contacting them without raising suspicion.
Her grandfather stared at her, his expression blank.
She shook her head to clear her mind of what she had just realised.
"So… can you arrange for Shirou to apprentice under a swordsmith or not?" she asked.
He simply stared at her before releasing a sigh.
"Of course I can," he said.
"Thanks," she said, "well… I'm going to go to bed now… goodnight grandpa."
"Goodnight Taiga," he sounded resigned.
She just hoped that Tohsaka would agree to letting him know.
That would actually give her someone to talk to about her current issues.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou sat in the dojo once again, Sumire sitting off to the side, a bottle of sake in hand.
"You don't need to watch over me Onee-chan," he said.
"Yep," she said before taking a swig of the bottle, "but I want to see what you're trying to do."
He honestly didn't know why she felt like watching him experiment, but it wasn't like she'd cause him any more problems than she already had.
Pushing her presence out of his mind, he thought back to his fight with Chaos. The older apostle had casually shaped his body into beasts and while it was possible such an ability was due to his own reality marble, it was also possible that there was at least some overlap with his own courtesy of the method.
And so he started focusing on his right arm, attempting to do something he had never tried before.
Slowly but surely, his arm started to split. It started at his hand, separating between his middle and ring fingers, eventually moving all the way down until his entire forearm was separated into two portions.
He started practising how to move them individually. It was strange but not exactly difficult. He had already practiced changing the composition of his body just to get his voice sounding human, but this was different. Now he was actively trying to move his body in ways that were physically impossible for a human to do and having spent so much time tied to a humanoid form, splitting himself like this felt almost wrong.
But it would be a useful trick to master.
If he could just practice to the point where he could do it without thinking, then he would open up a whole world of new possibilities for combat.
Focusing again, he shifted the two halves of his arm to form facsimiles of hands, sure they were only three clawed hands, but they were better than what they were to begin with.
"Huh…" Sumire's voice cut in, "am I seeing things or do you have two right arms?"
"Well, I think it's more accurate to say one and a half right arms," he responded.
"So it's not the booze, that's good to know," she replied.
Even so, this was just a first step. He would have to push the limits of this ability and figure out just what was too much for him to do.
But for now, he had to get used to this trick. After all, unless he could do this without thinking, it was useless if he got into a proper fight.
At least he now knew it was possible. He just hoped he could perfect it before he ended up in another life or death scenario.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Arturia couldn't stop herself from staring in awe.
To see the shades of warriors past that had pushed her to her limit being swatted aside so casually really showed her the power gap between her and the Scottish Princess.
Taking a deep breath she prepared herself for what was to come.
After all, despite her strength, she was no Cu Chulainn.
But there was one question on her mind despite everything.
"How many of these shades passed your trial?" she asked.
The princess simply shrugged.
"Maybe a couple of them," the response was swift and she felt herself feel a little better at that. After all, she was more than a match for any of those shades in single combat, so if some of them had passed the trial, then that bode well for her chances.
"I see," she vocalised.
"You sound relieved," the princess stated.
"If some of them passed your trial then that puts my mind to ease," she admitted.
"What a foolish sentiment," Scathach said with disdain clear in her voice, "you are assuming that these shades represent their strength in life… when the reality is that after so long there is barely anything left of the warriors they once were."
She flinched at that.
If these shades were but shadows of their former selves, then that did not bode well for her chances.
Yet again the princess swatted away a shade before they reached a large door. Without hesitation the mighty mentor pushed them open, revealing a courtyard that was likely once beautiful but now held nothing but dirt and trees that looked as if they were made of charcoal.
The sky was grey and the air stale, everything about the land felt dead and forgotten. It was as if the only living things in the world were herself and the princess that was now walking into the centre of the courtyard.
The woman came to a halt before turning to face her, spear in hand.
"Now, let us see just where you stand," the princess declared despite her perfectly relaxed stance.
Unsheathing Excalibur, she readied the blade in front of her. It wasn't her preferred stance but against this opponent she would probably need her blade to remain in front of her just to make sure she could defend herself.
Focusing entirely on the princess she waited.
"Come at me King Arthur, show me just what you are capable of," the princess commanded and she swallowed before taking a deep breath and forgoing the stance she had prepared to defend herself with.
If her new mentor wanted to see what she was capable of offensively then she would give it her all.
With a quick Mana Burst she launched herself forward and struck.
She was unsurprised when her blade missed entirely and immediately she launched another attack.
Frustration started to form as the princess casually avoided all of her strikes, never once bothering to block her strikes.
And then it was over.
A single parry.
That was all she saw before the spears shaft struck her throat, leaving her in a coughing fit before the tip of the spear was pointed towards her currently tender windpipe.
"I expected more from the King of the Britons," the Scottish woman stated bluntly.
"I may have been the King of Britain, but I was never the strongest knight," she responded as Avalon finished healing her throat, "that is why I have come for training."
The princess simply released a sigh of her own.
"And you never considered learning magecraft to compensate for your lack of martial talent?"
She grit her teeth.
"I do not lack martial talent," she declared. She was a knight and despite there being stronger warriors than her, she was no weakling.
"Then prove it," the princess declared, "because from what I have seen so far, you are lacking compared to those with true talent."
And so she launched herself forward with another mana burst, ready to prove the legendary tutor wrong.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
"I fail to see this talent you claim to possess," the Scottish woman said as Arturia lay on the ground, every last part of her body sore despite Avalon's best efforts.
She had lost track of how long she had been fighting the teacher of Setanta, yet despite her best efforts, she had failed to land a successful attack on the woman.
Was she truly so lacking in martial combat?
No. That wasn't it. Scathach's rival had dominated her battle against Cu Chulainn until he had resorted to trickery. Which meant that this woman was beyond even the mightiest of demi-gods.
Was the woman's opinion on her talent born of her unparalleled ability? After all, when even Demi-gods struggled to stand against you, what was one mortal king?
"Just because a mountain stands above a castle doesn't mean a castle isn't impressive," she said as she pushed herself back to her feet.
"Do not make excuses for your ineptitude," the princess said, her voice cold as ice, "to ignore your own weakness is cowardly."
It was pretty obvious now that she couldn't dissuade the woman from her opinion.
However, there was one thing that she mustn't forget.
"I am not ignoring my own weakness," she said, her conviction not wavering, "if I was then I would not be here to seek your training."
"I am not as strong as I could be and I need to get stronger," she declared, "that is why I sought you out… because Vivian told me that only you could aid me in that endeavour."
The woman tilted her head.
"Vivian? The Fae?" the princess asked with a cocked eyebrow.
"Yes, I sought her training but she told me that I was too old for her training to truly benefit me," she explained, "thus, she led me to you."
The woman closed her eyes and she was tempted to strike while she wasn't paying attention. But such an act would be cowardly and she would not reduce herself to attempting such a cheap attack.
"I doubt she did not inform you that it would be easier to learn magecraft to improve your abilities," the Scottish princess said, "so the question is, why have you rejected that avenue of power if you are so desperate for it?"
She looked into the immortal woman's eyes.
"There is no honour in resorting to magic," she declared.
"Magic is a tool," Scathach responded without delay, "even little Setanta used it when necessary… are you claiming he was without honour?"
She flinched at that.
It was entirely possible to say the hound of Ulster lacked honour in certain areas… but combat was not something he could be called cowardly in.
"If you truly wish to grow more powerful, then you should learn at least some magic," the princess said, "given the amount of magical energy you were wasting throughout our little spar, you would likely have more success with that than focusing on your martial abilities."
She remained silent before finally releasing a sigh.
"I still wish to improve my swordsmanship," she declared.
"You certainly are stubborn," her new teacher said, "very well, I shall do what I can to bring out the last dregs of talent you may have."
Her body relaxed as relief flooded her being.
"However, you must also make an effort to learn what magecraft I teach you," her new master declared, "whether you use it or not is not my concern."
There was no point in arguing this any further.
She would have more constructive uses for her time here.
"Now, let us begin the training."
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Taiga felt her heart race as the school day finally came to an end. It was typical that it had crawled by at a snail's pace when she had something she wished to do.
She had to meet with Tohsaka before the day was over and ask about telling her grandfather about magic.
There was no guarantee that she would be allowed to do so, but it was worth trying despite everything.
Preparing herself she entered the hallway and searched for the girl she needed to talk to. It was surprisingly quick, then again she was sure the girl had plenty to do with her position so it was only natural she would leave the classroom as quickly as possible.
"Tohsaka-san, can I have a word with you?" she called out, prompting the girl to freeze and turn to face her.
"Of course Fujimura-sensei," the girl didn't miss a beat and she almost had to remind herself that the girl was literally a witch as she made her way over to her.
Prompting the girl into an empty room she closed the door and took a deep breath.
"What was it you wished to speak with me about Fujimura-sensei?" the girl asked and she turned to face her.
"I wanted to ask you about letting my grandfather know about magic," she said.
"I'm sorry Fujimura-sensei, but that isn't allowed," the girl responded.
The girl released a sigh before looking her dead in the eye.
"The only people who are technically allowed to know about the existence of magecraft are magi and individuals with enough political power to aid in covering up the existence of magecraft," the girl explained, "the fact you know is already a violation of that."
Taiga simply frowned.
"You… don't know who my grandfather is do you?" she asked.
Tohsaka simply blinked in response.
"Should I?" she replied.
Taiga released a sigh.
"He's the current head of the local Yakuza," she stated bluntly.
Tohsaka blinked owlishly before her jaw slackened.
"Wait… you're a Yakuza?" the girl sounded like she couldn't believe it.
"…well… I'm not a Yakuza," she admitted, "never really got involved in that stuff myself."
Tohsaka for her part looked away.
"… I need to speak with my legal guardian about this," she said, "having an in with the local Yakuza could prove beneficial."
"So that's not a no?" she asked.
"Not yet," Tohsaka responded without missing a beat, "it might be after discussing it with Kotomine but for now… it's not a no."
Taiga simply nodded. It made sense that the girl would need a little time to make the decision.
"Thank you Tohsaka-san," she said, it was strange to be treating a school-girl in such a manner, but this was about magic so she had to defer to someone with more knowledge on the subject.
"Is that everything you need me for Fujimura-sensei?"
"Yes, you can leave if you want to now."
"Then I will see you later Fujimura-sensei," the girl said before leaving the room.
Now she would just have to wait until the girl got back in touch with her.
First though, she had an archery club to go and supervise.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Rin wanted to collapse into her sofa as she returned home. As simple as the idea of contacting Kirei about Fujimura-sensei may have appeared, actually asking him about the matter without raising his suspicion was another matter entirely.
The man may have been an asshole, but he was competent. And a competent official made hiding certain matters significantly more difficult.
Then there was the matter of the geass she had signed with Emiya. While it was plausible that Kotomine finding out about Emiya due to that may not break the terms of the geass, it was also possible that knowing the risk may.
Rubbing her head in frustration, she tried to think of other ways for her to ask Kirei about the matter.
Fujimura-sensei wasn't exactly public in her association with the Yakuza so it wasn't like there was an easy way to brush the matter aside as common knowledge.
Sure there was her connection to Emiya but that in and of itself was risky simply due to the fact that it might direct Kirei's attention towards the self-made apostle.
Letting out a stale breath, she collapsed onto her sofa.
She wanted nothing more than to be able to ignore Kotomine, but given he was the current liaison between the mages association and the church, she didn't have much choice except to speak to the man.
So how should she go about this?
… wait… Fujimura-sensei oversaw the archery club didn't she? She felt his lip twitch as an idea came to mind.
Reaching over to her phone, she lifted the receiver and started to dial the number of the church. Soon the phone started to ring and she waited. It wasn't unusual for the man to take his time answering the phone so she sat and waited.
After what felt like an eternity, someone finally answered the phone.
"This is the Fuyuki Parish Church, this is Kotomine Kirei speaking, how my I be of service today?" the voice of the priest said on the other end of the line.
"Kotomine, this is Tohsaka," she said, trying to keep her call as formal as she could.
"Ah, Rin, it is a surprise to hear from you so soon," the man replied.
"I need your input on something," she said, "I recently overheard a classmate of mine from the archery club mention my English Teacher is from a Yakuza family."
"Ah, that must be Fujimura Taiga then," the man responded before she could say anything more.
"Are the Yakuza already on the Clock Tower's payroll?" she asked.
"No, however I have looked into the teachers at your current school to ensure they meet your father's requirements of competence."
She couldn't bring herself to feel remotely surprised by that. It was only natural that her father would want her to receive an acceptable education even if it would prove ultimately useless at the Clock Tower.
"And you didn't try to approach them?" she asked.
"A priest approaching a Yakuza is liable to raise questions that are better left unasked," he replied and she furrowed her eyebrows. That sounded like little more than an excuse to her.
"What is the real reason Kirei?"
"Oh? You believe I am lying?" he sounded amused, "do you not trust me?"
"Of course not," she stated, "so what is the real reason you haven't approached the Yakuza yet?"
"I had some history with their neighbour," he stated, "given their connection to that man, I felt it best to leave them be."
She couldn't stop herself from glancing out the window to the north. If what Kirei said was true then he knew about Emiya's father being a magus. Which raised more questions than she was willing to ask yet.
"That doesn't sound like you," she said, "I thought you enjoyed infuriating people."
"There is a difference between infuriating someone and picking a fight with a man that nearly killed me," she felt her breath hitch at that admission, "Emiya Kiritsugu was a very dangerous individual and there is no knowing what he has shared with the Fujimura. For that reason, I avoided provoking them."
She swallowed nervously.
"However, if you have a method of getting to them without inciting their ire, then it is your duty as overseer of this city to approach them," Kirei said and she released a sigh.
"Of course," she said, "I will do that as soon as feasible."
"Is that everything you wished to speak with me about?" Kirei asked.
"Yes, thank you for your input Kirei, goodbye," and with that she hung up the phone and felt herself deflate.
So Kirei had encountered Shirou's father and nearly died by the man's hand. Knowing the man was dead and Shirou was not liable to try and kill her was relieving, but it was still surprising to know that Kirei knew of a magus that lived in the city and didn't inform her of them.
Now she would just have to visit Emiya's house and speak with Fujimura-sensei.
Hopefully this would be a mutually beneficial action.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou was in the process of preparing dinner for Fuji-nee when he noted Tohsaka's enter the range of his structural analysis.
Immediately he moved to the fridge and pulled out more ingredients. He may have been preparing plenty already but given Fuji-nee's stomach, he fully expected her to leave nothing.
Time flew by as he readied the meal before finding a suitable moment to leave it unattended.
He moved to the front door and opened it, Tohsaka wouldn't arrive for a few minutes but he would need to tend to the food.
Returning to the stove, he continued to make sure it didn't overcook.
"Come in Tohsaka-san," he called out as she reached the open door.
She soon entered the dining room before looking at him.
"You could have at least come to the door to let me in," she said.
"You were going to arrive at a bit of an awkward time," he stated, "I don't want the food to burn."
She pouted behind him.
"So why are you here today Tohsaka?" he asked, "I doubt you would come here to socialise."
She blinked before frowning while looking straight at the back of his head.
"Who says I wouldn't?" she asked.
"You're the overseer of the city, I'm certain you have better things to do than pay me a social call," he replied.
"You're literally the only person in this city I can both be completely open with and don't find insufferable," she said while palming her face, her heartbeat and breathing screaming that she was being honest, "however… as nice as it would be to be making a social call, I actually do have business… though it's with Fujimura-sensei."
He turned his face to look directly at her without missing a beat in his meal preparations.
"I noticed Fuji-nee called you into a private room earlier," he said, "is this the same matter?"
"I should have expected you'd already know about that," she said before practically collapsing onto a cushion.
"I didn't actually make the effort to read your lips, so I don't know what the matter is," he admitted. If Tohsaka had been the one to call Fuji-nee into a secluded classroom then he would have listened in to make sure nothing happened, but if Fuji-nee wanted to speak with her in private, then that was her own decision.
Tohsaka blinked at that.
"You can lip read?" she asked, her expression making her surprise obvious.
"It's just another thing I picked up when I was learning how to replace my body," he said, "anyway, Fuji-nee will be here soon."
"Thank you Emiya-kun."
He started the finishing touches on the food before his surrogate sister discovered the open door and rushed into the house and towards them.
"Hello Fuji-nee, Tohsaka-san is here to see you," he called out just before the woman reached the door.
"Tohsaka is here?" she asked before entering the room and looking at the girl, "do you have an answer?"
"Yes Fujimura-sensei," Tohsaka said, "it appears that my legal guardian chose to avoid approaching your grandfather's organisation due to…" she looked towards him before releasing a sigh, "due to Emiya's father nearly killing him."
He almost tensed at that declaration. If he had done so then he would almost certainly need a new spoon.
"What?" Fuji-nee said, her voice small.
"We already knew Kiritsugu was a murderer," he pointed out as he started to fill up the dishes, "this is no different to any of the other people he killed."
Fuji-nee looked as if she had been stabbed through the gut at that.
"… b-but anyway… he has given me permission to try and recruit your grandfather as an associate of the Clock Tower," Tohsaka continued, "are you willing to introduce me to him?"
"Of course!" Fuji-nee said just as he placed the first dish on the table, "but… dinner comes first!"
"Of course," she seemed resigned as she sniffed and started to stare at the dish that was currently being devoured by her teacher.
"Here you go Tohsaka," he said as he lay a dish in front of her.
"W-what?" she blinked owlishly before glancing between him and the meal.
"I had plenty of forewarning that you were heading in this direction," he said, "so I made extra for you."
She swallowed before nodding.
"Thank you Emiya-kun," without any further delay she proceeded to start eating without checking the safety of the meal.
He had expected her to check it with magecraft to be safe, but then again, if he wanted her harmed he could have easily let Chaos eat her, or even overpower her himself.
So it made at least some sense that she wouldn't be overly worried about the meal he prepared for her.
Returning to the kitchen he slowly but surely brought all the dishes out to be consumed by the insatiable Tiger.
Time seemed to pass by slowly as the table was cleared of food.
Eventually he considered the repercussions of what would transpire that night.
The possibility of gramps learning about the magical world would allow him to ask for stranger things than he would get away with before.
Of course, there was the question of how he would handle the news that he was a vampire now.
Soon Tohsaka finished her meal and leaned back before jerking slightly. He guessed that given she lived in a western style manor, she was probably used to chairs and not cushions on their own.
"Well, I am ready to meet with your grandfather whenever it is suitable," Tohsaka said.
Fuji-nee simply nodded before gulping down the last of the food.
"Well, then are you ready to go?" she asked as she stood up.
Shirou simply removed all the dirty dishes.
"Yes Fujimura-sensei," Rin joined the older woman in standing up.
"Then let's go," Fuji-nee said, "I think I'll spend the rest of the night at home."
"It will probably be late when we've finished our discussion, so I will return home after," Tohsaka said and he nodded once again.
"Goodnight Emiya-kun," she said.
"Goodnight Shirou!" Fuji-nee said before the two started on their path to the Yakuza boss's house.
Without another word, he readied himself to wash the dishes and deal with Sumire when she finally woke up.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Rin couldn't stop her heart from beating as her teacher walked her to meet the head of the local Yakuza.
It shouldn't have been so nerve wracking but this would be her first real bit of politicking. Sure she may have been expected to do so the moment she entered the Clock Tower, but living in the back-end of nowhere as far as the Mages Association was concerned limited what experience she could attain.
Shirou was one thing, he was just as inexperienced as she was, with even the drunkard being known to avoid the games of politics that the rest of her kind tended to indulge themselves in.
But Fujimura Raiga would be a different matter entirely.
He was an old Yakuza boss. Politics was probably second nature to him by this point.
So she was going to have to tread carefully.
"A word of advice," Fujirmura-sensei spoke up and she listened intently, "gramps might seem like a grump, but he's actually a real softy."
The grin that the English teacher gave her didn't make her feel any better.
Of course the man would be soft on her teacher, after all, she was his granddaughter.
And most grandparents were soft on their grandchildren.
"If you say so," she responded.
It was pointless to take the woman at her word here.
It was one thing to interact with a yakuza boss when you were a direct relative or a close family friend, but she was neither.
This was a matter of gaining a connection within the organisation and the man wouldn't be quite so forthcoming with her.
"And we're here," her sensei said before knocking on the door, "Grandpa! I've brought someone who wants to meet you!"
Silence reigned after that.
She saw her teacher frown before a gruff old voice called out.
With a soft shrug the teacher opened the door and walked in. Rin quickly followed behind the older woman before looking at the room.
It certainly looked traditional. Possibly even exceeding Shirou's home in that regard.
Along the walls were cabinets, many of which showed off objects that were probably rather expensive, others of which displayed varying bottles of sake.
There were also blades decorating the walls and she found herself wondering how many were functional and how many were decorative. Maybe she should ask Shirou the next time she saw him.
She pushed those thoughts out of her head and locked eyes with the old man sitting at the table, a bottle of sake with a cup and saucer making it clear that the man had been relaxing.
It was obvious by the man's wrinkles, leathery skin and grey hair just how old he was. However, despite that the man looked to be healthy and strong enough to compete with her P.E teacher.
"Gramps, this is Tohsaka Rin, she's a student of mine," Fujimura-sensei said, her tone no longer quite so jovial, honestly she sounded a little tense, "she's got something to discuss with you."
"And what exactly does a child have to discuss with me?" the man asked before a smirk graced his lips, "is she seeking my blessing to try and seduce Shirou-chan?"
"What?! No!" she yelled out as she tried to keep her face from heating up, "this is about business!"
"Yeah, this is… big," the older woman said, "it's… something I want to be able to talk with you about but… well, it's not something I can just talk about."
The old man's eyes narrowed.
"Is this what has been bothering you these past several years?" the man asked and the teacher nodded, "so Tohsaka-san, you're responsible for my granddaughters problems."
The man sounded almost threatening.
Rin simply released a sigh.
"No, the problems are connected to the Tohsaka family but she isn't the cause," Fujimura-sensei responded before looking at the floor, "but… I kind of need Tohsaka-sans permission to share this with you so…"
The Yakuza boss narrowed his eyes.
"And exactly why do you need a little girl's permission to talk to me about what's bothering you?" the old man asked. Rin grit her teeth before taking a deep breath. As much as she hated the fact he was so dismissive of her, it wasn't a surprise.
Fujimura-sensei looked at her and she took a step forward.
"Because if she shared it without permission and it got out, she, you and your entire organisation may very well be hunted down and executed by the organisation I represent," she stated bluntly.
The old man raised an eyebrow.
"Oh? And what organisation do you represent and why should I fear it?" the man asked, his tone indicating he wasn't in the slightest bit intimidated.
"The Clock Tower," she stated, "one of the three main branches of the Mages Association."
The man's expression turned blank.
"Taiga," the man spoke, "if you wish to play pranks on me, at least try to make it believable."
Rin couldn't help herself. She smirked before raising her hand.
A knife stabbed itself into her heart, and her magic circuits blared to life. She pulled her sleeve down as her arm glowed, her magic crest lighting up and she selected the appropriate spell for the situation.
A ball of fire erupted above her hand. It wasn't the most useful of spells, only really capable of lighting things, but it was enough.
The old man in front of her was now staring, his eyes narrowed and his expression a stony mask.
"Is that enough to convince you?" she asked, "because I wish to speak with you about coming to a… mutually beneficial arrangement."
The man's eyes kept themselves affixed to her arm as she cut the power behind the spell, her circuits losing their visibility. She turned her arm around to prove to him she wasn't using any trick.
The man eyed her, his body tense.
"So… if I am correct, then this means that Taiga's problems are related to magic?" the man asked and she nodded.
"Yes," she said, "Shirou is… involved in our world and well, I'm sure you can understand why that would affect your granddaughter."
The old man took a deep breath.
"How deep is Shirou-chan?" the old man asked.
"Let's just say… Shirou's involved in things that even I want nothing to do with."
The old man took a deep breath.
"And what exactly is he involved with?" he demanded.
"I cannot say," she stated bluntly, causing the man to look at her, his eyes showing obvious anger at her declaration, "I understand you may be frustrated, however I took a magical vow that prevents me from speaking of these matter with anyone who doesn't already know."
Fujimura-sensei perked up at that.
"Oh yeah, you took that… what was it called again…" the brunette started.
"Yeah, that's it," the teacher said with a nod.
"You know about this vow Taiga-chan?" the old man asked, earning a nod off the older woman, "and did you take such a vow too?"
The teacher shook her head, "no, it's… well…"
"Fujimura-sensei was no threat to Shirou," she decided to explain, "however, my connection to the mages association made me a threat to him."
The old man narrowed his eyes.
"And why exactly are you a danger to Shirou?" the old man asked.
"Shirou's a Vampire," her teacher blurted out.
The old man blinked in obvious disbelief.
Rin simply felt a weight leave her shoulders. The fact that the Yakuza boss now knew meant she wouldn't have to worry about what she said anymore.
"You expect me to believe that little Shirou is a vampire?" the old man asked.
"It's the result of his… well… I guess his lack of proper training is the best way to describe it," she stated, "he seems to have replaced his body with blades."
The old man looked at her, his expression clearly disbelieving.
"The reality is that he turned himself into a non-human and the Mages Association and Church both hunt down non-humans with the intention of destroying them," she explained, "so I had a choice, take a magical vow that prevented me from talking to others about his existence, or he would leave this city."
"And you chose to take a vow?" the old man said, clearly doubting what she said.
"Shirou saved my life from another thing that came here, it isn't fair that he would have to leave because of that," she said, "but that isn't why I'm here. I wish to speak with you about creating an official alliance between the Fujimura group and the Clock Tower."
The old man closed his eyes before picking up his sake bottle and pouring some into his cup.
Slowly but surely, he proceeded to drink it.
Rin felt herself fidgeting as the silence continued and the old man gave no indication as to what he was thinking.
Eventually the man put his cup down and looked at her.
"And what exactly are you intending on bringing to the bargaining table?" the old man finally asked.
"Magecraft has many applications," she declared, it wasn't a good idea to admit to the limits of the art so simply hyping it up would probably be the best choice for this situation, "beyond that, the Clock Tower has many resources that it can bring to bear. Including people within the government. We can ensure that none of your activities are disrupted."
"And what do you want in exchange for this aid?" the old man asked.
"Simply that you bring your resources to bear should anything supernatural need to be covered up quickly," she explained.
The old man proceeded to take another sip of his sake and she once again found herself wondering what he was thinking.
"And why do you need our resources if you already hold so much power?" he asked.
"We don't need your resources," she declared, trying as hard as she could to make her tone cold, "they would simply make covering things up quickly easier."
"And can you give any examples of things your organisation has covered up?" the man asked.
"The Fuyuki Fire," she stated.
She had to resist the urge to smirk when she saw the man's eyes widen. Obviously he hadn't expected that to be supernatural in nature.
Admittedly she didn't know the specifics of it, merely that it had been something that Kirei had mentioned the church being involved in.
The old man proceeded to frown.
"From what I've heard, Emiya Kiritsugu was behind that fire."
She simply nodded.
"I don't know the specifics, however my legal guardian did mention that the reason he didn't approach you about allying yourself with the Clock Tower was because Emiya Kiritsugu nearly killed him and he wasn't sure how much the man had shared with you," she explained.
Raiga remained silent for several more seconds.
"What would you do if I said I refuse your proposal?" the old man asked.
"I would use hypnosis to remove all memory of this encounter from your mind," she stated. It would have made more sense to lie, but she doubted she could lie well enough to trick this man.
"Then I suppose I don't have a choice," the man said, "I will accept your proposal."
Rin felt a weight lift off her shoulders at that.
"Then we should probably prepare a contract," she stated.
"You mean like the one between you and Shirou?" Fujimura-sensei asked.
"That probably isn't necessary for this," she replied, "this is supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship after all."
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Taiga couldn't stop herself from feeling like a weight had been taken off her shoulders.
The mere fact that she would be capable of talking with her grandfather about magic related things now was the best news she could ask for.
Well… besides the death of the vampire that was corrupting her little brother or him regaining his flesh and blood.
Setting up the contract had been a tedious process, though thankfully no magic had been involved.
But the exact terms and conditions were negotiated by both sides.
"And that's everything done," Tohsaka said, as she gave a solid nod and rolled up the contract, "should any matters come up that require my attention, then feel free to contact me."
With that, the girl proceeded to write down her address and telephone number before giving it to the elderly man.
"I understand," her grandfather responded, "I assume I should contact your legal guardian about any issues I have?"
Tohsaka nodded, "yes, his name is Kotomine Kirei, the priest of the local parish."
Raiga nodded before taking the contact info for the other man.
"Is there anything else you wish to talk about before I leave?" Tohsaka asked.
"Nothing at this point in time," Raiga responded, "however that may change depending on what Taiga tells me."
Tohsaka simply nodded.
"In that case, I bid you a good night Fujimura-san," and with that the girl stood up and proceeded to leave the room.
The silence that fell after the girl's departure was decidedly uncomfortable.
Taiga found her attention shifting to her grandfather as he rose from his seat and moved to one of the cabinets he kept bottles of sake in.
He pulled out one of the more expensive bottles and she couldn't stop her eyes from widening as he brought two cups and saucers with it.
Pushing his old bottle and cup to the side he opened the new one and poured two cups before pushing one in her direction.
"Thanks grandpa," she said as she accepted the cup.
"So… Kiritsugu was some sort of wizard then," he said.
She could only nod in response.
"And Shirou is in a complicated situation," he continued, "it's no surprise you've been so down these past few years."
She nodded before sipping her drink and feeling the pleasant burn.
"Shirou's got a mentor… a useless drunkard he found freezing in the park after Kiri died," she said, "I thought she was going to die she was that cold."
She released a sigh.
"I… kind of wish she did," she admitted and her grandfather remained silent, "turned out she was a vampire and the only reason she had gone with Shirou was because she sensed weird magic in him or something."
Raiga continued to keep his silence, so she continued.
"She found out that Kiri taught Shirou wrong… and it's my fault," she continued. Her grandfather's only reaction was a simple quirk of his eyebrow, "Kiri asked me something about teaching and… well… I screwed up!"
She couldn't help herself, she just had to scream.
"And now Shirou's got a Vampire making him call her 'Onee-chan', getting him involved in vampire stuff and teaching him things that made him lose his body!"
"I'm sorry, what do you mean 'lose his body'?" for the first time her grandfather spoke up and she grimaced.
"He replaced it with swords," she said, "he's literally made of swords… and needs to drink blood in order to not die of magical exhaustion or something."
Her grandfather blinked.
"Does his wish to train under a swordsmith have anything to do with this?" he asked.
"Yeah… he was told by an even bigger and meaner vampire some stuff about learning more or something… that's also where Tohsaka comes in," she said with a pout.
"An even bigger a meaner vampire?" he asked.
"I don't know… I just know that both Sumire and Tohsaka freaked out about him," she admitted.
Her grandfather nodded.
"Sorry, Sumire is-"
"The vampire that Shirou is close to, that much is obvious Taiga," he interrupted and she rubbed the back of her head sheepishly.
She took another look at her drink before downing the entire cup.
"It feels like the bitch is trying to steal Shirou away from me," she told him.
He simply kept his silence again.
"I don't know what to do," she said, her voice was smaller than she wanted, but she just couldn't put her normal energy into it.
"I suppose, all you can do at this point is be there for Shirou," her grandfather said, "it sounds like he's involved in things that we have no business getting involved in… so the best we can do is support him to the best of our abilities."
"I know, it's just…" she trailed off.
"It feels like you can't do anything for your family," he finished off for her and she nodded as she put her face in her hands.
"So… can you explain everything you know to me?" he asked and she released a breath even as he took her cup and poured her another drink.
"I'll try," and with that, she tried to remember everything she had learned.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Fujimura Raiga frowned as he processed everything Taiga had told him.
"I see," was all he could say.
It appeared that Shirou's position could dramatically change at any moment. Especially if what she said about these creatures was true.
He hummed to himself as he considered the situation.
It sounded as if Shirou was liable to get involved in these supernatural factions just off the mere fact he was associated with a member of one of them. Which meant the boy would need more than just personal strength if he wanted to do anything more than simply exist.
The boy needed to learn about power.
"Taiga-chan," he spoke, causing his granddaughter to focus on him instead of her drink, "I will need to meet with Shirou soon."
She blinked at his declaration.
"Why?" she asked.
"There are things I will need to teach him," he responded without hesitation.
The way she flinched in response to that made it obvious she already knew what he meant.
"A-are you sure? I mean, he's just a child," she asked, her tone almost pitiful.
"The longer I put it off, the less time he will have to put what I have to teach him into practise before it becomes necessary," he responded, "and from what you've told me, he's already lost whatever semblance of his childhood he may have had."
Taiga's eyes fell back to her drink as her posture slumped.
There was just one more thing he would have to do tonight.
"Taiga, do you still wish to remain uninvolved in my business?" he asked.
She blinked and looked at him once again.
"Wait… are you… are you thinking of making Shirou your successor?" she asked.
"Only if you still wish to reject the position," he clarified.
As much as he may have wanted her to take over the group, it was her choice. Finding a successor that he felt comfortable leaving the group in the hands of was proving more difficult than he liked.
The amount of passive aggressive infighting and outright hostilities among the candidates made choosing one problematic.
But Taiga would be accepted. The fact she shared his blood meant that her taking over would be accepted without much difficulty.
Shirou was also liked by most of the group, so they were likely to accept the choice so long as the boy proved he was capable. And if he was truly as inhuman as Taiga said, then he wouldn't have any problem keeping them in line if they tried anything.
In the end, he would prefer Taiga take over, but if she wasn't going to then at the very least the assets and manpower of the Fujimura group could aid Shirou once he was forced to participate in whatever games these vampires played.
Taiga continued to look at her drink, the silence weighing on the room.
"I don't want to take over… but…" she trailed off.
He let out a sigh.
"Taiga-chan, understand that Shirou will need a powerbase should these vampires be what you claim," he declared, "I doubt the Fujimura group would be enough to ensure his safety but it would be a start at least."
The young woman sighed at his declaration.
"Sorry grandpa, I'm going to bed," she said as she rose from her seat and gulped down the last of her drink.
He could do little more than release a sigh as she left the room.
She would have to make her choice soon.
He had the feeling Shirou didn't have that long before he would need more resources.
Glancing at the clock he saw it was nearly midnight.
Finishing off his drink, he decided to follow his granddaughter's lead.
Tomorrow would be another day.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
"So… Taiga-chan and Tohsaka went to talk with Taiga-chan's grandfather?" Sumire couldn't stop herself from frowning as she made certain she had understood what the little Apostle said.
"Yes," Shirou responded as he sat across the table from her.
"… why?" she asked.
"Because Fuji-nee's grandfather is a Yakuza boss," he responded.
Had she known that?
Meh, it didn't matter.
"So… the Overseer for the Mages Association has gone to the head of a mafia gang for some reason?" she summarised.
"Same difference," she dismissed before taking another swig of her sake.
"So… what're you going to do tonight anyway?" she asked.
"I have more experimenting to do," he responded, "there is still a lot I need to do if I want to push my abilities to their limit."
She took another swig of her bottle. Just what would he actually be capable of by the time he was a century old? He had already lost his original body so the single hardest part of making oneself impossible to kill through conventional means had already been achieved.
Nrvnqsr also appeared to have some interest in how he might progress. So if Shirou did follow Prof Chaos's advice, just how powerful would he be? If Nrvnqsr's interest in the boy was anything to go by, it was probably immense.
Which raised the question… would he become stronger than her? And if so, how quickly would he surpass her?
The boy proceeded to leave the room and she released a sigh before looking at her bottle once again. Should she try going sober for a change? If she did she might actually be powerful enough that Shirou couldn't surpass her.
Wait… if she did that then Altrouge and Ortenrosse would definitely start getting on her case about not joining them.
So she would have to deal with both being sober and having the two main factions trying to recruit her.
Not worth it.
And without a second thought she proceeded to take a long swig of her sake.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou sat in his dojo once again.
Chaos had said that he should focus on the conceptual aspects of a blade but what exactly did that entail?
There was the obvious stuff like cutting and steel, but what else was there?
Okay, first there was the question of exactly what made a sword a sword? There was the blade, the hilt, the handguard and pommel.
What else made a sword a sword?
A blacksmith would certainly help him with figuring that out but he needed to get an appointment before he could really do anything concerning that.
He pushed those thoughts aside. He would simply wait until he got proper lessons before trying to figure out more.
Perhaps the most effective thing he could do now was to simply continue practising morphing his body.
Once he got used to doing that, he should be more dangerous in combat at the very least.
And that's all for now.
See you next week.