Well, this is the last chapter that has been completed.

So from now on, updates will be much slower.

She stared intently at the woman in front of her.

She was certain that there was a sense of familiarity with her.

The brunette that currently sat across from her, glancing nervously at all the familiars shambling about the castle, screamed that she had seen her before.

"Have we met?" she finally relented, choosing to ask outright.

The woman swallowed nervously before glancing away.

"Y-yeah… I kind of ran into you when you came to this city," the woman said and she considered it.

Ran into her? Wait…

She blinked.

"Wait… I thought you were Lord Damascus's associate?" she asked.

"I'm basically his sister," the woman responded easily.

"So… let me get this straight," she tried to summarise given her current level of knowledge, "you are Lord Damascus's sister and you decided to inform the local magus instead of him about our presence in the city?"

The woman nodded.

"He was looking for Louvre at the time," the woman replied, "so I thought telling Tohsaka-san about you would stop him from getting distracted."

She stared at the woman.

Was this real?

If she had simply introduced herself then she and her family wouldn't have needed to slaughter that hotel since they could have easily just gone straight for Damascus himself?

Admittedly that chase had been a bit of fun, but they could've streamlined their hunt through pure luck.

She groaned as she palmed her face.

What was it with this town?

"S-sorry," the woman responded and she found herself half-glaring at her.

Was this what it was like being around Lord Damascus all the time?

There was no point in dwelling on the matter.

What happened was in the past.

So the next question was simple.

"And why are you suddenly here?"

The woman looked away again.

"… Because Shirou doesn't trust his newest guest near me," the woman replied.

She raised an eyebrow in response.

Who could Lord Damascus have brought over that he wouldn't trust?

They would certainly have to be a psychopath of some sort, though that barely narrowed it down when dealing with Apostles.

They also had to be dangerous enough to do something about this woman.

They would also need to have a motive for attacking her and a prior connection that existed for them to meet in the first place.

She was about to start deducting when her mind went to one tiny detail that likely gave the answer.

"… Please tell me he doesn't have Lady Rozay-En at his house?" she asked, earning a decisive nod from the woman.

She released a groan in response.

There was no way that one could possibly end well.

It was even worse when she considered that the so-called 'Artist's Lady' would be more than happy to drain her of all of her blood alongside the woman's.

The one rule of Rita Rozay-En was that you never let her near an attractive young lady.

Taking a deep breath, she considered that the fact that this woman was transferred to the castle meant that it was meant to protect them both from the monstrous Lady.

There was a clear and obvious issue that if Rozay-En discovered the location of the castle, she possessed more than enough magical aptitude to tear the defences down before they had the chance to escape.

"And why is she here?" she asked, hoping the answer was at least reasonable.

"It's… not pleasant," the woman replied, her voice clearly unhappy.

"I'm an experienced Apostle," she declared bluntly, "I've got a strong stomach."

The woman grimaced before glancing at her and eventually releasing a sigh.


She listened to the woman explain the situation and she soon came to understand exactly why he was calling on Lady Rozay-En's aid.

There was no one as capable of keeping a person alive with as much damage as her after all.

But… for Lord Damascus to be involved in an attack against Makiri Zolgen…

Zolgen was one of those names that was brought up by old Apostles who want to stress the dangers of underestimating magi, alongside other names such as Aozaki Touko and Barthomeloi Lorelei.

He was a being that was still classified as a magus but was very clearly closer to an Apostle than a human, only really avoiding the classification via semantics.

However, what did that matter when the one doing the hunting was Lord Damascus?

As young as Lord Damascus was, he stood out as exceptional. Her family could probably destroy Makiri Zolgen if they so chose and Lord Damascus stood above them like a mountain over a village.

Zolgen was unlikely to survive the night.

Especially if he was surviving by hiding inside a person that was going to be cut open by Lady Rozay-En.

She leaned back in her seat and picked up her wine. It may have been unnecessary, however it was a pleasant thing to distract her from having to drink the blood of animals.

"So… do you think Shirou will be all right?" the woman asked and she took a sip.

"I would recommend coming to terms with the fact that Lord Damascus stands far above most beings that still live," she said calmly, prompting the woman to blink, "he is probably within the top thirty most powerful beings that are still alive."

The woman stared.

"What?" the woman finally asked.

She released a sigh.

"Lord Damascus casually defeated myself, my brother and my father when we were together," she declared, "alone it would still be impressive but with all three of us, it is a far more impressive feat of power. Together we possess the strength to reach the lower tier of the Twenty-Seven Ancestors. To defeat all of us so easily, he ranks among the Twenty-Seven in terms of power and above the lowest ranks at that."

The woman stared, her face pale.

"For that reason, he's liable to rank among the top thirty beings in the world when it comes to strength," she stated without hesitation.

"… so how many beings that aren't Ancestors in that region of power?" the woman asked, her voice uncertain.

She shrugged.

"At minimum there are the Aozaki sisters, Barthomeloi Lorelei and the founders of the Mages Association," she said before freezing and remembering another name that had recently come to light, "and it is also rumoured that King Arthur has returned from the grave so we can probably include him in the total."

The woman stared at her, her face completely unamused.

"Don't treat me like an idiot," the woman said.

She frowned.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Telling me that King Arthur is still alive," the woman clarified and she blinked.

"Oh, that wasn't a joke, honestly we were rather surprised when we heard that," she admitted, "we're not completely certain of that particular piece of information though so we could be wrong."

The woman continued to stare at her.

Then an undead walked into the room, carrying a tray with a bottle of rice wine resting on top of it.

"Your wine," she said, motioning to the undead.

"… it isn't going to bite me when I get too close is it?" the woman asked, sizing the corpse up as she said so.

"Of course not," she said, "doing that would be a violation of the Geass we signed."

The woman glanced back at her before releasing a sigh and taking the bottle.

Soon the lid was off and the woman was downing the bottle at a rate that would make Lady Sumire jealous.

Eventually the woman finished, her face flushing slightly.

"Well… I guess all I can do is wait until everything's over," the woman muttered.

She silently agreed.

There was little the woman could do until Lord Damascus was finished and Lady Rozay-En was gone.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Rin's heart was racing as she entered the Emiya residence.

To think she was going to be in the same building as the most sadistic and cruel Dead Apostle Ancestor.

Was it stupidity?

Even Emiya acknowledged it was probably a bad idea but in the end, that was probably why she was willing to do this.

Shirou didn't trust Rozay-En. Which meant that she was probably going to get his protection and despite not being an Ancestor, he was certainly powerful enough to hold his ground against a weaker Ancestor like Rozay-En.

"Hello Tohsaka," Shirou's voice piped up as she entered the living room and looked at the table.

Sumire and Louvre were there, alongside what was easily the most beautiful woman she had ever seen.

For once she was happy Shirou lacked any sex drive because if he still had one then she wouldn't feel comfortable in his decision to protect her.

"Hello Emiya-kun," she answered, refusing to take her eyes off the monster that sat so casually.

"Do you want anything while we plan?" he asked and she nodded.

"Coffee," she answered easily.

Having caffeine wouldn't hurt given it was likely going to be a long night.

"The usual?" he asked and she nodded, "okay then, take a seat… and Rita, if you try anything, you'll lose a limb."

The beautiful redhead released an annoyed sigh.

"Of course, of course," she waved him off dismissively, "rather cruel of you to put such a fresh young girl in front of me and expect me to do nothing about her."

"… Have you ever seen a psychiatrist?" Shirou asked.

"Why yes, I did once," the woman responded easily, "her blood was nothing special."

Rin inched as far as she could away from the sociopathic aristocrat as she took a seat at the table.

"I should've known better than to ask," Shirou responded, "anyway, onto the matter at hand. Matou Sakura."

Rin nodded steeling her resolve.

"First thing we'll need to do is bring down Zouken's bounded fields," she declared, "we don't know what sorts of protections he has erected around his house."

"Can you bring down bounded fields Louvre?" Shirou asked.

"Naturally, I have a few mystic codes at the castle that specialise in diagnosing, testing and dismantling such things," the male magus said calmly, "they are rather useful for ensuring my own bounded fields are difficult to counter."

She stared at the Apostle.

It made sense that he would have such tools but it wasn't something she had truly considered. She had simply been taught to analyse them manually.

But tools would be more consistent.

"Then I'll leave bringing down the bounded fields to you," Shirou declared.

Rin nodded.

"What about the Ancestors?" she asked, glancing between the pair of women.

"Meh, this has nothing to do with me," Sumire replied, "so I guess I'm just the taxi."

"And my job is to perform the surgery on the girl with Zolgen's Crest Worms infesting her body," the redhead answered, "I have no reason to help you get her out of Zolgen's lair."

She frowned.

First Kirei said that he would leave the matter to her and now two more older figures were refusing to participate.

She glanced at Shirou and found herself feeling grateful that at least he was willing to help her.

"So Louvre will bring down the manors bounded fields," Shirou declared, "I think we should split up after entering."

Shirou placed a cup of coffee in front of her.

"Thank you," she said as he proceeded to sit between her and Rita, "why do you think we should split up?"

"Well, I'm the best equipped to fight Zouken," Shirou declared bluntly, "so wherever his worms are at their most concentrated, I will go to keep them occupied while you and Louvre retrieve Sakura and Shinji."

She swallowed nervously.

It made sense. However there was something she wasn't so sure about.

"I don't think Shinji is going to be at risk from Zouken before we kill him," she pointed out.

"I know," Shirou responded, "but we're going to burn the place down to kill as many of his worms as possible before leaving. So getting him out will stop him from burning to death."

She blinked.

That made at least some sense.

"So extract both Sakura and Shinji then burn the place to the ground?" she summarised.


"I'm going to guess we're not to wait for you to leave first?" she asked and he nodded.

"Yeah, a bit of fire isn't going to kill me," he said simply.

She nodded.

"Okay, so Louvre is to collect his tools, then we're to head to the Matou manor, extract everyone that isn't named Zouken and then burn it to the ground," she summarised.

"Yes," he replied without delay.

It was a simple plan. But then again, why would they need a complicated plan to assault a single house with the element of surprise on their side?

"So the first step is to wait for Louvre to collect his tools," she declared before looking at the Norwegian apostle.

"Of course," the goateed man said before looking at the Water Bottle, "Twenty-First, would you be so kind as to transport me to the castle?"

"Fine, fine," the drunkard responded before placing her hand on the apostle's shoulder.

Soon the world twisted and the pair were gone.

Now it was just a matter of waiting.

She glanced at the remaining apostle who offered her an almost vindictive smile and she looked away.

Did she really have to leave Sakura's fate up to that monster?

Taking a deep breath she pushed those thoughts out of her head as she focused on her coffee.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Shirou followed Rin, Louvre just to his side as they marched towards the Matou residence.

This was certainly a dangerous situation for both Tohsaka and Louvre, however the latter had at least taken precautions by bringing a few mystic codes that could provide protection for both of them.

Naturally Louvre had avoided bringing any of his arsenal for Shirou to take, what with how Shirou was a near unkillable monster made of steel and magic.

He inched closer to his servant.

"If anything goes wrong, make sure Tohsaka gets out safely," he whispered.

It was a simple command, in the end if something went horrifically wrong then Rin's safety was a priority.

Sakura shouldn't be in immediate danger due to everything Zouken had done to her body, and since Zouken had approached him to try and ease tension between himself and Shinji, he doubted the old magus would harm Shinji either.

Meaning Rin was in the most immediate danger.

Louvre at least was undead and could remove a worm violently if necessary and heal afterwards, meaning he was significantly more durable than Rin was.

Shirou himself was easily the most dangerous member of the group so his safety was unnecessary to worry about.

"Understood Lord Damascus," the apostle replied in just as quiet of a whisper.

"Well miss Tohsaka, there is something I am curious about," Louvre said, prompting Rin to face him, "what exactly is your reason for wanting this operation to happen?"

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"You're the overseer of this city are you not?" the apostle asked, prompting her to nod, "well, the fact that Makiri Zolgen is doing such a thing to his heir should be no business of yours."

Tohsaka grit her teeth and clenched her fists.

"You expect me to just let something like this go unopposed?" she asked.

"You are a magus, such matters shouldn't bother you in the slightest," the apostle of the lake said bluntly, "even if you morally oppose such practices, you are overstepping your role as the overseer of this city."

Rin remained silent.

"I am certain there has to be another reason you are so vehemently against what Zouken is doing," Louvre continued, "do you have a personal connection to that girl?"

An uncomfortable silence fell before Tohsaka finally spoke.

"… She's my sister," her voice was low, her anger clear for all to hear, "my father basically sold her to the Matou to continue their line. Part of the agreement was to stay separate."

"Is the contract magically binding?" Louvre asked.

Rin shook her head.

"I checked, there's no trace of magical energy on the contract," she declared, "I thought I could continue to ignore it, the contract was made by my father after all. But seeing that diagram of what Zouken did to her… of what has happened to her… I can't just sit by and do nothing about it."

"Understandable," Louvre responded without hesitation, "I don't know what I would do if Rozay-En decided to kidnap my daughter."

Shirou looked at him.

"You actually care about your children?" Rin asked, blinking as she looked at the oldest of the group.

"Of course I do," Louvre replied, "I will admit that it is likely not the same kind of care that you feel towards your biological sister, but I still care about my children beyond simply being my heirs."

Tohsaka looked away from the old apostle.

"Is that normal for Apostles?" Shirou asked, causing the man to look at him with a frown.

"It is not," the apostle of the lake admitted, "it isn't necessarily rare but there are more that don't care for their family than do."

He nodded.

"I guess the ones that don't care are likely closer to Rita then," he summarised.

"Don't be so quick to judge," Louvre said and he returned his focus to the man, "from my understanding the Rozay-En family are actually rather loving towards each other."

"… You're joking right?" he deadpanned.

"Just to explain, Lady Rozay-En's biological father was turned into a Dead Apostle at the same time she was, it's well known among our kind that he wanted grandchildren and that Lady Rozay-En supports him financially," the oldest of the group explained.

He hadn't heard about that from Sumire.

"I am going to guess that her father is partly to blame for how much of a sociopath she is?" he asked.

His servant nodded.

"They were aristocrats in a location where there is no one to oppose them," Louvre declared, "they had no consequences for their actions and were allowed to believe that they were superior just because they were nobility. Then they were infected with Vampirism and that just reinforced their superiority complexes."

Shirou nodded.

If he ever met Rita's father he would make his disdain for how Rita turned out known.

Soon they arrived at a large Western style mansion and Rin pulled them into an alley nearby.

"Okay, that's it," she informed them.

Shirou just nodded.

The bounded fields were obvious to him. The mansion itself stood out as unusual given the part of the city they were currently located in.

"Louvre, you know what to do," he commanded, prompting the apostle to nod before bringing out a small pouch of tools.

The tools contained within appeared normal at first glance, having appearances that resembled things like lockpicks, tuning forks and other miscellaneous items.

But the magecraft imprinted on them was another matter entirely.

Yet again, the magecraft was beyond his personal ability to perform, though he could probably replicate the tools if they were within his range.

But even then they'd be inferior copies.

Slowly Louvre proceeded to use the tools to knock at the bounded fields, receiving responses that prompted him to move to other tools and so on.

After half an hour according to a clock within a nearby house, Louvre finally nodded.

"I will be bringing down the bounded fields now," he declared and Shirou found himself nodding alongside Rin.

The bounded fields fell and Shirou's analysis enveloped the manor.

That was not good.

"Rin, Louvre, go upstairs and retrieve Shinji," he directed, "Sakura is in the middle of the worm's nest."

Tohsaka's eyes widened and she swallowed.

"I'll retrieve her, burn the place to the ground once I'm out," he commanded, "I'll try to kill as much of Zouken as possible but the priority is getting your sister to safety."

She bit her thumb almost hard enough to draw blood.

"Tohsaka!" he snapped and she closed her eyes before releasing her thumb.

"… Yes," she sounded somewhat defeated but the plan was still in effect.

He moved towards the front door even as worms started to slither out of the basement and upstairs.

Rushing forward he crashed through the front door, practically shattering it as he stormed into the building and headed straight for the basement even as the noise stirred Shinji from his sleep.

Shinji was Rin's problem now.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Rin rushed through the shattered door and glanced around the entrance hall.

She wanted nothing more than to follow Shirou and save Sakura but she had a different job to do.

Readying her magic crest, she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye and fired a Gandr straight at the offending party.

The disgusting worm that had been slithering out of the woodwork was torn apart by the curse.

She grit her teeth as more followed after the worm and movement started to make itself known all over the hall.

"Ignore them," Louvre declared as he followed within, "wasting time just gives the familiars more time to arrive."

She nodded before reinforcing her body and jumping up to the second floor, an action that Louvre followed flawlessly.

Entering the hall on the second floor she was greeted by one of the doors opening and Shinji walking out, his expression twisted into an irritated scowl.

The moment his eyes landed on her he blinked.

"Tohsaka? What are you doing here?" he asked as he glanced at Louvre and sneered, "and who is that old man?"

"Shut up Shinji," she shot back as she moved towards him, "we're getting you out of here."

"Why?" the boy who was barely capable of magecraft asked as he took a step away from her, "this isn't your house. Get out."

She grit her teeth.

"We don't have time for this Shinji," she shot back.

"How is that any different to normal?" he shot back, "you've never given me any time have you?"

He looked behind her and suddenly a look of realisation crossed his face.

"Wait… are you here to try and get Sakura?" he asked, his tone practically laughing, "just how naïve are you Tohsaka?!"

She grit her teeth as she heard Louvre casting spells behind her.

"What are you talking about?" she demanded.

"Are you planning on giving her to Emiya?" he asked, his face twisting into a scowl, "it doesn't matter, even if you do nothing will change."

She fired off a Gandr at a worm that was creeping towards her.

There was no time for this.

But Shinji was talking as if there was something she didn't know.

"What do you mean 'give her to Emiya'?" she demanded.

"You don't know?" he sounded almost smug, "she needs a fresh supply of magical energy to keep herself stable."

She froze.

A fresh supply.

She grit her teeth.

"What?" she asked coldly as she considered one particular aspect of the diagram Emiya had shown her.

"Don't worry, I've been keeping her alive all these years, given her a fresh supply of magical energy daily," he said, his face twisted into an arrogant smile.

"Tohsaka, hurry up!" Louvre commanded but she ignored him.

"Are you saying that you have been raping her for years?" she demanded through gritted teeth.

"Raped? Please, the little slut-"

One gem was emptied.

Shinji fell to the floor, his head spread across the corridor behind him.

Rin breathed hard, her fury consuming her as she saw more worms moving in.

A second gem emptied.

A dozen Crest Worms erased from existence.

A hand grabbed her, lifting her from the ground and rushing through the open bedroom before smashing through the window and landing on the street outside.

"What are you doing Louvre?!" she demanded, "Zouken's still alive and-"

"And Lord Damascus gave us instructions to save Matou Shinji," Louvre replied, his tone cold, "and instead you killed the boy."

She froze.


She felt bile rise from the pit of her stomach as the statement managed to pierce through her rage.

"I… I…" she didn't know how to respond.

"For now, we should return to the front of the manor," Louvre declared as worms started to leave the manor, "we have to wait for Lord Damascus to return, then we're burning everything."

She swallowed before nodding.

Shinji was dead.

Meaning they had technically failed their mission.

She had killed Shinji.

That was a simple fact.

But… Shinji had provoked her.

So wasn't it Shinji's fault?

If he had just shut his mouth and gone with her then he would still be alive.

"Tohsaka, snap out of it," Louvre commanded and she nodded.

She would have time to worry about it later.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Shirou ignored the worms that attempted to eat him as he made his way down the stairs towards the basement.

They were proving incredibly ineffective against him and if killing them would have made a difference then he would've slaughtered them instead.

But all that would do would be take time.

Time that Tohsaka and Louvre didn't really have given the sheer number of worms that were crawling through the manor.

When he reached the open area that made up the basement, he immediately turned and walked off the stairs that were still descending and straight into the pit of worms.

He crushed dozens as he landed and without missing a beat, he walked through the shin high pile of worms towards the centre of the room.

Where Matou Sakura was lying, her eyes wide open and doing a spectacular imitation of a corpse despite her body still functioning even with the worms slithering around and in her.

Zouken's puppet of a body stood above her, looking straight at him with a frown.

"Why have you come here Emiya-san?" the old magus asked, "I was under the impression Shinji was not causing you any more trouble."

"This has nothing to do with him," he declared.

"Ah… so you were recruited by Tohsaka to attack me," Zouken responded, "tell me, do you have any understanding of this situation?"

"Tohsaka's father sold his younger daughter to you to continue your line," he said.

"This is well within the terms of the agreement," Zouken declared, "Tohsaka is the one in the wrong here."

Shirou proceeded to swipe the man's head clean off his shoulders.

"I don't care who's in the legal right," he declared as more worms merged into the bodies' legs and rapidly reformed a head, "this is about not being able to just ignore what you're doing."

"You are housing a Dead Apostle," the Matou patriarch declared, "do you honestly believe that you have any right to interfere with my business?"

Shirou simply bent down and picked up the girl that was lying in the centre of the room.

"I don't need a right to interfere in things I can't allow," he stated.

Zouken's eyes widened.

Shirou knew exactly why.

Matou Shinji was dead.

Shirou stomped down and flooded his body with magical energy before turning and leaping up to the top of the exposed stairs and growing a third arm.

An arm that held a mystic code that released gouts of flame.

Soon the entire floor was engulfed in fire and Shirou rushed up the stairs, crushing all the worms in his way as he released more gouts of fire.

Tohsaka and Louvre were no longer in the mansion so he didn't have to hold back.

The girl in his arms passed out, the worms no longer writhing around her to keep her awake.

Soon he left the manor and without a moment of hesitation, both Rin and Louvre launched flames at the house as he stopped beside them.

"We should get back to my house as soon as possible," he said, earning nods from the two, "Louvre, carry Tohsaka."

He nodded before picking the girl up.

Shirou pushed off, limiting his speed to match Louvre.

Once they were at the Emiya residence, they could rest.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Rin held her tongue as they reached the front door of the Emiya residence.

How was Shirou going to react to her killing of Shinji?

She didn't know.

She knew that Shirou didn't exactly like the boy but he had wanted to save him. So how was he going to deal with her after what she did?

They entered the house and soon she found herself being dropped back on her feet.

She took a deep breath before removing her shoes and making her way inside.

"Here she is," Shirou said, his voice the same typical monotone it always was, "let's move to a bedroom for the operation."

Rin watched as Rita Rozay-En rose from her seat and offered a twisted smile.

"Of course, lead the way," and without any further talk, the Beast of Blades led the Artist's Lady out the other side of the room.

Rin plopped herself down on a cushion as Louvre followed suit.

She stared at nothing as she thought about everything.

Sakura was about to be operated on by Rita Rozay-En. And Rin had killed Shinji.

How had things ended up like this?

"So… did you have fun?" Sumire asked.

She grit her teeth.

"No," she declared bluntly.

The drunkard proceeded to rub her chin before looking at them.

"Wasn't there supposed to be someone else with you?" she asked.

"Tohsaka-san killed him," Louvre declared bluntly and she looked down.

"Oh, is that all?" the drunkard asked, completely unfazed, "what did he do?"

The being that practically breathed alcohol asked.

"I don't want to talk about it," she declared.

Not with something as old and removed from humanity as the Water Bottle at least.

"Fine, be that way," the drunkard responded before returning to her booze.

The question of course, was what Shirou would say when the surgery was over.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Shirou watched Rita closely as she brought the scalpel down.

Sakura was currently anaesthetized, something that he had to ensure the woman would actually do before starting.

But now that the surgery was starting, he focused intently on the way the blade flowed.

Rita was precise. He was certain that humans would need machines to operate with the precision that she was displaying casually.

There was one thing that seemed off however.

"Is something wrong?" he asked as she removed the blade and then used magecraft to manipulate the blood within the unconscious girl and drag one of the worms out, its phallic head pierced straight through by the scalpel, "you look like you're struggling."

"Naturally," she replied without hesitation, "I'm used to doing this when my subjects are thrashing and screaming… this is so peaceful that I'm having to stop myself from compensating for the screams."

Of course that was the problem.

What else could it have been?

"But it's not beyond your ability," he clarified, prompting her to nod in acknowledgement.

"Of course it isn't," she said as she returned to the incision, "I'm both an artist and a specialist in keeping a victim alive. I have a very steady hand."

He wished she had other reasons for being so skilled but he would just have to accept what he got.

She wasn't causing any unnecessary damage to Sakura's body, simply going straight for the worms and killing them with a precise stab before removing them slowly but surely.

Time passed by slowly as he kept an eye on the proceedings.

Finally there was only one worm left.

"And now it's time for the coup-de-grace," she said, a malicious smile twisting upon her face, "the death of Makiri Zolgen."

She didn't kill it the same way she did the rest.

Instead she removed it, forcing the mouth open before extracting it from the girl's body, lifting it to her face as she gave a cruel smile at the worm.

"Hello Zolgen, long time no see," she said, her voice pleasant, "unfortunately for you, this time you won't get the opportunity to escape."

She pinned the worm to the floor where it started to thrash about as she focused on repairing the damage that was done to the girl.

He watched as the girl's own blood was used as sutures to stitch her back together, before the sadistic vampire proceeded to accelerate the girl's natural healing processes, leaving several scars but little else.

"Now, time to die Zolgen," Rita said before she proceeded to pin the worm once again and then pierce it with the scalpel in the head.

The worm thrashed about for a few more seconds before it finally stilled and all vital functions ceased.

"So, we keep Sakura and you keep Zouken's corpse as agreed," he said, earning a nod from the sociopath.

"Indeed," she proceeded to lift the worm before looking at him, "I assume you wish to see me leave as soon as possible?"

He nodded.

"I don't trust you around young women," he stated firmly.

"Very well, I'll get Sumire to return me to my castle," she dismissed as she stood up and he followed suit.

He looked upon the girl that was now left weak and sleeping on the floor, but very much alive and worm free.

"Thank you Rita," he said, prompting her to blink and stare at him, "I may not like you, but-"

"You don't have to force yourself to thank me," she cut in, "I chose to help because I could gain something from aiding you."

"I know," he replied, "but it is important to me anyway."

"Oh? Do you have a personal investment in the girl?" she asked and he shook his head.

"No, but a friend of mine does," he admitted.

She shook her head.

"Well, I suppose that's as good a reason as any to help out," she muttered, "though I would recommend preparing for the inevitable."

"You mean their death," he responded, causing her to nod.

"Everyone you know is liable to die before you," she declared simply, "even myself and Sumire are more mortal than you appear to be."

He froze.

She wasn't just talking down about humans this time?

"What? Did you assume that I couldn't see a superior predator when face to face with it?" she asked, her tone taking on a haughty undercurrent, "you've grown since our last meeting that is clear. Just how powerful you are I am unable to gauge but even the least time we met, you were already quite the anomaly in the existence department."

She offered him a smile. One that held no malice.

"After all, back then you still had your skin and hair," she shot back and he stared, "I'm guessing that maintaining it became too draining. Either that or you lost touch with that last part of your humanity."

He continued to stare.

"Even so, the magical power I feel coming from you is far more impressive than before," she declared, "give it a few centuries and you may accumulate enough mystery to be mistaken for a phantasmal beast."

He wasn't sure whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. But she was calling him powerful.

Already powerful and with plenty of time to continue growing.

His next growth spurt would likely be during the Grail War but he would continue to accumulate mystery simply by continuing to exist.

Rita proceeded to start walking and he found himself following her to the living room, where Rin immediately tensed and handled her gems.

"The surgery is a success," Rita declared bluntly, "now, little Shirou wishes for me to leave this house, so if you would be so kind Sumire…"

The drunken vampire nodded before rising from her seat and placing a hand on the younger ancestor.

"Goodbye little Shirou, enjoy your time in the shadows while you can," she said just as the world twisted and she vanished.

Tohsaka remained seated, fidgeting nervously.

"Emiya-kun… I…" she seemed to be struggling to get the words out before she took a deep breath, "I'm sorry about what I did to Shinji."

"It's fine," he said without hesitation.

"B-but," she tried to say and he shook his head, even as the world twisted once again and Sumire returned.

"Tohsaka, I saw what happened," he declared bluntly, "I know exactly why you did what you did and I cannot blame you for that."

She looked at the table.

"If you had chosen to kill him in cold blood then it would be different," he explained, "if you planned on killing him from the start then it would be different."

"But your emotions got the better of you and you acted without thinking," he stated as he remembered his initial sighting of Rita, "given how much I want to kill Rita for everything I've seen in her castle, I'd be pretty hypocritical to judge you for killing someone who admitted to performing such acts with no remorse."

"What did he do?" Sumire piped in, "little Rin wouldn't answer me when I asked."

"Then you'll just have to remain ignorant," he declared.

"Now… Tohsaka, go, Sakura should probably see you when she wakes up," he declared, "besides, you're better at undoing hypnosis than I am."

She blinked before releasing a sigh and nodding.

Soon she was out of the room and he was left with just Louvre and Sumire.

"Onee-chan, can you return Louvre to the castle and bring Fuji-nee back?" he asked, causing her to stare at him.

"Not until you tell me why little Rin killed the person she was supposed to bring back," she declared, her arms crossed.

"That's a personal matter for her," he declared bluntly, "it's her choice whether she tells you or not."

"Then I guess you'll have to do without my teleportation then," she responded.

Shirou stared at her.

"Are you seriously going to withhold that just because I respect other people's privacy?" he asked, "besides, if you were so invested in the matter, you should've been there personally."

Sumire frowned at him.

"He raises a valid point Lady Water Bottle," Louvre spoke, his tone uncertain.

"You shut up," she shot back half-heartedly.

"So?" Shirou asked, "are you really going to be that petty about this?"

"Yes," she shot back.

He considered the situation. If he wasn't going to have reliable access to Sumire's teleportation, then he would have to compensate.


If all she was going to do was freeload then why should he continue to house her?

His mind returned to their fight at her castle.

Her callous disregard for humanity and her attempt at getting him to ignore the suffering Rita was inflicting upon the innocent.

Then there was the fact that she was the one that was responsible for bringing Chaos to Fuyuki in the first place because she didn't keep her mouth shut.

Sure, meeting Chaos had proven beneficial in the long run, but it wasn't like she planned that outcome.

Hell, she had even gone out of her way to try and stop him from meeting Altrouge just because she didn't want to be involved in the politics of the Twenty-Seven.

She just brought danger with her and tried to get him to completely discard his empathy.

"If you are going to be like that, then I have multiple reasons to kick you out and none to keep you around," he stated bluntly, prompting her to blink.

"Oh? And if I leave, I could easily give away where you live," she said.

"You mean like you already have?" he shot back.

She froze.


"You're the reason Chaos knew to come to Fuyuki in the first place," he stated, "why should I trust you won't give it away again."

She frowned.

Her brow furrowed as she looked at the table, face twisted in concentration.

He waited for several minutes before speaking up again.

"So, will you continue to refuse, or do I have to kick you out?" he asked bluntly.

"Do you really think you could kick me out if you tried?" she asked, her tone obviously amused.

"Want to try?" he responded.

With Louvre's weapons and Fragarach within his collection, he couldn't stop himself from believing he could actually hold the advantage.

Her amused grin fell.

"Not really…" she admitted before releasing a sigh, "fine… I'll work. Just make sure you keep the booze coming."

He nodded.

She proceeded to place a hand on Louvre's shoulder before the world warped around them.

He considered the situation despite that.

There was no longer any guarantee she would be a reliable method of escaping the city should anything serious ever happen.

He would have to arrange for plans that didn't involve her at all.

He would not be caught flat-footed because she chose to be petty.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

Her body ached.

That was nothing new.

She must have fallen asleep without realising it.

But that had certainly been a nice dream.

Being rescued from her grandfather's basement was always a pleasant dream to have.

But it would never be reality.

There was soft breathing nearby.

It must be her brother. No one else would sleep so close to her.

She opened her eyes, ready to crawl out of bed and prepare breakfast.

That was not her ceiling.

Her mind sharpened and she shot up, taking in her surroundings before her eyes fell on the owner of the breathing.

Her heart skipped a beat.

What was Rin doing in the same room as her?

She continued to look around the room, seeing it to be a plain Japanese style room.

Where was she? What was Rin doing there?

There was a knock on the door and Rin jerked awake.

"Wha- who," Rin locked eyes with her before freezing.

She swallowed nervously. This was a worrying sign.

"Sakura…" Rin said, her voice low.

Her mind stalled as she was enveloped in a tight hug.

"Sakura… I'm so, so sorry," the words pierced her daze.

This didn't make sense.

Why would Rin be there? Why would she be hugging her and apologising?

Oh… of course.

"Please… please stop…" she muttered weakly, "stop showing me these things."

She hated this.

A situation that was tailor made to build up her hope.

She knew it would be torn down by her grandfather soon.

The sound of the door opening caught her ears before an unfamiliar voice spoke up.

"Tohsaka, be careful, she's still recovering," the voice said and she looked at the owner.

A tanned boy with white hair wearing plain clothes stood at the door, staring at Rin.

"S-sorry," Rin said as she unlatched herself from her before taking a deep breath, "how are you feeling?"

Sakura tried to interrupt whatever magecraft was being used to make her see this when she felt it.

An absence that shouldn't be there.

She couldn't feel the Crest Worms that infested her body.

Where were they? She shouldn't be unable to feel them. Unless they were messing with her head.

"Please… stop this…" she begged quietly, "stop showing me these things… please grandfather… stop it."

Teeth grit.

She looked at the image of Rin. It's face was distorted into a scowl and she cowered.

"How often did Zouken taunt you with this?" the image of Rin asked and she froze, "what did he do to you to make this so hard for you to believe?"

She glanced away.

Her grandfather already knew the answer to that.

The unknown individual moved over and placed a cold hand on her skin before piercing it.

"Emiya-kun! What are you doing?!" Rin shouted at the figure.

But she had frozen.

She had felt the figure's magical energy flow through her like a cleansing wave and.. there was no sign of the Crest Worms.

They were gone.

She could feel her magical energy flowing normally, she could feel this other figure flowing different magical energy through her.

It was not her grandfather's magical energy, that was something she could tell.

But then… what was going on?

"Do you believe you're seeing the truth now?" the figure asked and she looked at him.

"This… is real?" she asked, unsure what to think.

He nodded.

"My name is Emiya Shirou. I perceive the world a little differently to most beings and noticed what had happened to your body," the figure said in a dull monotone.

But she was focused on one single thing.

Emiya Shirou.

The boy who kept attempting the high jump years ago.

She pushed those thoughts out of her head, there were more important things to worry about.

"I informed Tohsaka about the state your body was in and… well," he said before glancing at Rin, "the moment she knew what was happening to you she was on the warpath."

Rin went on a warpath?

"She asked for my help in saving you from the situation and I called in help that specialised in surgery," the boy said and she found herself looking at Rin once again, "to put it simply, you are the last Matou and Zouken's worms have all been removed from you."

She stared in disbelief.

There was no way she could be free of her grandfather.


"W-what about Shinji?" she asked.

Immediately Rin looked away.

"… He… he boasted about what he did to you," Rin said, her teeth gritted, "I… I lashed out and he didn't survive."

She stared.

Rin had killed Shinji?

She hadn't wanted that.

"He didn't deserve to die," she muttered.

"Whether he did or not is irrelevant now," the figure claiming to be Shirou spoke up before anything else could be said, "he angered Tohsaka and paid for it. For now we have to decide what to do next."

She looked at him.

"How are you sure grandfather is dead?" she asked, wondering if they had any idea what he was.

"His soul was contained within the Worm that was latching onto your heart," Shirou said simply, "it was killed when my associate removed it."

She stared.

He… he actually knew that her grandfather's body didn't matter?

Then… that meant that she was truly free.

"I will need to speak with Kirei about this," Rin said and she looked at her once again, "he can make whatever arrangements we decide on."

Sakura clutched at her chest.

If Rin had actually gone so far as to kill Shinji and gain aid in saving her… then was it possible?

"T-Tohsaka-san…" she spoke quietly, causing Rin to look at her, "w-would it be acceptable for me to call you 'Nee-chan'?"

"Of course it is," there was no hesitation and she felt a smile forming on her lips, "if you want I can get Kotomine to arrange for you to be reinstated as a Tohsaka."

She felt her eyes widen.

Rin was inviting her to be a Tohsaka again?"


"Wouldn't that stain your reputation?" she asked.

"Screw that," again, no hesitation, "I really screwed up just obeying the agreement. Something as minor as a stain on the family's reputation is nothing."

She felt her eyes watering.

Rin wasn't even hesitating.

This was too good to be true.

But… but it seemed that it was true.

If this was a dream then she didn't want to wake up.

"I'll go and prepare something to eat," Shirou said before turning and preparing to close the door, "I'd recommend Sakura gets washed. Rita may have been tidy but Sakura still underwent pretty intensive surgery."

And with that, the boy closed the door.

She stared at the closed door for a few seconds before Rin's voice cut in.

"You can trust Shirou," her sister said easily, "he's physically incapable of lust."

She blinked.

"I'm not scared of him," she admitted.

"Still, he's a good person," Rin said, "though I'd be wary of his associates. They're definitely not good people."

"You don't like his friends?" she asked.

"… The associate who operated on you was Rita Rozay-En," Rin stated bluntly.

Sakura frowned in thought. She was certain she had heard that name somewhere before.

"She's also known as the fourteenth Dead Apostle Ancestor," Rin supplied and she froze.

"Why does he know something like that?" she asked, there was no way that was a normal thing to know.

"He's the apprentice of the Twenty-First," Rin declared, "he knows her by association."

"Does he know you don't like his friends?" she asked.

"Please… he's probably listening in on us right now," Rin said dismissively, prompting her to flinch, "as he said, he perceives the world differently to everything else. Things like walls mean nothing to his perception."

Sakura glanced down at herself.

"Does that mean…" she trailed off.

"Yeah, he can see us naked whenever he wants," Rin admitted, "though he doesn't seem to care about that."

She frowned.

"What makes you so sure?" she asked.

"His body is composed entirely of blades," Rin's response made her do a double take, "he has no hormones to fuel such things… unfortunately."

She blinked as she heard that last part, muttered under Rin's breath.

She almost laughed.

"Anyway, I guess we should get you cleaned up," Rin said before pushing herself off the floor, "we'll deal with everything else later."

Sakura nodded before pushing herself off the futon she was now sitting on.

God she felt weak.

She almost collapsed before Rin was there to support her.

"Come on, let's get you sorted."

She felt a smile creep onto her face.

She was free.

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

The phone rang and Taiga found herself answering it while Shirou was busy in the kitchen.

"Hello, Emiya residence, this is Fujimura Taiga speaking," she answered.

"Ah, Fujimura-san, this is Kotomine from the Church," she blinked. Oh yeah, this was the guy that Kiritsugu nearly killed wasn't it? "I would like to ask if Tohsaka Rin is there?"

"Ah, yeah, Rin's here though she isn't available right now," she responded.

"I see, then I assume she is safe," the priest on the other end said.

"Yep, she and Matou Sakura are both here and safe," she declared bluntly, "is there a problem?"

"I was simply wishing to know about the fire at the Matou household," he said, "I know for a fact that it claimed at least one life, I was simply wishing to know if it took a second too."

"Yes, it did," she confirmed.

Shirou had informed her that Shinji had died during the assault on the Matou household, meaning that Kotomine must have been asking about Zouken.

"I see, then I shall leave the rest in your capable hands," the priest said.

"Fuji-nee! Don't let him hang up yet!" Shirou called from the kitchen.

"Did you hear that?" she asked.

"Yes, I did," the priest admitted, "is there an issue?"

"Can you get him to work on reinstating Sakura as a Tohsaka?" Shirou shouted, "Rin said she was going to get Kotomine to do that anyway."

"I couldn't quite make out what he was saying that time," the priest admitted and Taiga repeated what Shirou said for him, "I see, very well I shall do what I can."

"Thank you Kotomine-san," she said.

"Now, if that is everything?" she waited for Shirou to speak out yet again but received nothing, "then I shall bid you farewell for now."

And with that the priest hung up.

"So Rin and Sakura are both going to be Tohsaka now?" she asked her surrogate brother.

"Yeah," he responded easily, "can you do me a favour Fuji-nee?"

"Of course," she said with a firm nod.

"Can you report Rin and Sakura as absent due to the fire?' he asked.

"They're here and seem healthy enough," she responded.

Sure she understood why they should be given absence but she wanted to hear it from Shirou's mouth specifically.

"They've just had a hard night," he said simply, "they deserve a rest from everything that has happened recently."

She nodded.

"Consider it done," she declared firmly.

"Thank you Fuji-nee."

XXX Tainted Steel XXX

She looked out upon the clouds, nostalgia of the last time she was here clear in her mind.

But she was here for a reason and the owner wouldn't appreciate the intrusion.

Well, at least until she revealed why she was here.

The Bounded Fields were powerful, the owner being an even more talented magus than herself all things considered.

But the difference was that she was an Ancestor and the owner of this place wasn't.

Soon she was walking through the compartments, heading straight towards the pilot cabin.

"For what reason is an Apostle like you here Rita Rozay-En?" the voice was feminine, clearly different from the last time she had encountered the owner.

Meaning they'd changed bodies again.

"Hello Prelati," she said before looking at the owner of the voice.

A young girl, white hair and striped clothes.

She licked her lips.

"My, that's a nice body you've claimed this time," she stated.

"Jealous?" the magus asked.

"Jealous that the blood is inside you and not in my bathtub," she admitted.

"Now… it's not like you to come here," the girl said, "so why are you invading my workshop? You know I take issue with your kind."

She took a seat opposite the girl.

"I have something that will interest you," she declared before pulling out a small wooden box lined with minor bounded fields and housing the corpse of Makiri Zolgen.

"And what exactly is it?" the girl asked, an eyebrow raised.

"That's a secret until you agree to my terms," she declared.

"And those terms are?" the girl asked.

"A free favour to be traded in at my leisure," she stated.

The girl took on a thoughtful frown.

"It isn't like you to ask for something so one-sided without explanation," the girl said.

She offered a smirk.

"Yes, but this is something that I know is worth that to you," Rita declared.

The girl rubbed her chin.

Rita knew she would be unable to gain anything from the girl if she was wrong about the contents of the box. But she was confident on this matter.

"Very well, one favour," the girl declared, "however, if it is not worth that, you shall receive no more business from me. Is that clear?"

"Naturally," she admitted as she cast a geass to ensure the commitment.

"Now that the agreement has been struck," she said as she handed over the box.

Soon the box was opened and the figure frowned.

"You believe one of Makiri Zolgen's Crest Worms is worth a favour?" the girl sounded cold, "you believe I haven't had the opportunity to analyse one before?"

"If you already know how they function then analyse that one," she said.

The girl proceeded to analyse it.

Two seconds later her eyes widened and she stared at her.

"This is," the girl started to say.

"Zolgen's corpse," she clarified.

The grin that split the girl's face wouldn't be out of place on Nrvnqsr Chaos.

"So, I assume that is worthy of a favour," she asked rhetorically.

"Most certainly," the girl answered, "the only thing I would love more than that worm's death is Aozaki Touko's."

"Unfortunately that one is a bit beyond my ability to kill," she admitted.

"Well, I suppose I really should offer you some tea shouldn't I?" the girl said.

"I must decline," she replied, "as much as I would love to have tea with you, that body of yours is too tempting to remain around."

"Very well, then I bid you farewell," the girl declared.

"Goodbye Prelati."

And that's all for now.

Shadow Out.