Wellp. Here we are, I was actually working on some OTHER thing, not this. Though it WAS a crossover, and it WAS with RWBY. It just isn't a FSN/RWBY crossover. And I was (and am) kinda excited about it and still putting words down on it.
I ran into this prompt online that reminded me quite a bit about the good old 'What if Shirou was raised by..." challenges back in Beast's Lair. And decided to start writing this out of nostalgia. As it turns out, this was also something of a writing contest run by one Alex Kellar from Deviant Art. And while I do attempt to be humble, I will admit that competition is one of my vices. So I figured I might as well do the best I can with the prompt and try and win the thing while I'm writing for funsies and nostalgia.
'What is the prompt in question?' you may be asking. Well, I think there were technically three of them? Ish? I'm pretty sure there were three of them. But the one that called to my attention was basically "What if Shirou was raised by Raven Branwen." This intrigued me. So I decided to take up the challenge. So this here prologue will be my own rendition of how Shirou gets to Remnant. As well as...some other stuff.
I've got a few chapters written for it. But I'mma be posting them weekly or bi-weekly. Haven't really decided yet. Point is. Updates should be relatively regular, on saturday (this going up on a wednesday being disregarded, because reasons). Most of my time is taken up by work and the gym. And that terrible tyrant...sleep. But I'm still trying to put down words because it's fun. Ya kno?
Kudos to one FreeLancer V for helpin' me with Beta reading. He's helping me by taking a look at these things with a critical eye in order for yall to get a better...uhh...not product it's not like I'm selling something here...a more enjoyable story? Sure, let's go with that.
Edit: Kudos to Keel the Swift for helping me with punctuation and word choice. Chapter got updated to meet newer standard of writing.
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/( x □x)\ Σ旦
It felt as if a fist made of solid flame burrowed into his forehead. Searing, bludgeoning, breaking. The agony of it was stupefying, overwhelming, all-consuming.
Thinking was impossible. He tried to do something. He had to do something. He was here for a reason. He tried to coalesce his thoughts into an action.
He felt the fist twist. There was a roaring in his ears, so loud it drowned out the howls. Howls he could feel lacerating his throat as he screamed from the depths of his very soul.
He felt the fist grip something.
"So, you really are alright?" Tohsaka Rin asked. She appeared indifferent, uncaring even. But he knew her well enough to spot the worry in her eyes.
"Yes Tohsaka, I'm fine." Shirou answered. In truth, he didn't know how he felt. He knew she couldn't stay, that she had to face her past. To do otherwise would deny all they'd fought for.
He could feel a longing in his chest. An emptiness. A void. But that did not matter, he would not dishonor her and the sacrifices she made.
He made a snap decision. Forevermore, he'd fight in her name. He'd strive to be the type of man that Arturia Pendragon would be proud of.
"I'll be just fine," he repeated, forcing conviction into his voice.
The agony retreated momentarily. It took something with it, something precious. He felt hatred, rage, loss. He felt outrage at the violation.
The fiery fist had taken something precious, and he could not tell what it was.
He marshalled his will, resolved to fight back as best he was able.
The fist came again. He screamed as it tightened its hold.
"As my lady wishes," Shirou said with a bow, and made his way to brew some tea.
If he were entirely honest with himself, he might be slightly regretting his decision to take up Luvia in her offer to become her butler.
Yes, he was only working part-time, and yes, the pay was so good that working a few months as the Edelfelt heiress' personal butler would finance his traveling around the world to save people, and yes, he got along well enough with the woman most of the time.
But it was in moments like this one in particular, when he could feel Rin's murderous stare boring a hole in his back, that he realized that maybe, just maybe, he might have been better off not taking Luvia's job offer.
He heard Luvia launch into her trademark cackle. And by every Noble Phantasm in his soul, what a cackle.
As he arrived at the kitchen and set about preparing tea, he only hoped Rin would be able to hold on to her temper and—
The explosion informed him of exactly how much wishful thinking he was doing.
He sighed and made his way back with the tea tray, hoping against hope they'd not demolish too many rooms.
Then again…with overtime he would reach his goal faster. But having to renovate the mansion three times in as many weeks?
He pushed it back. With every muscle taut, exercising nothing but his Will and his Magic Circuits, he pushed it back.
He felt something tear. He'd lost something else precious. Something else irreplaceable.
But no, this was a distraction. He was here to do something, if only it didn't hurt too much to see.
The fiery limb came again, and again he beat it back.
It came again, and again, and again.
"As always you save me Emiya, if it weren't for you we'd never be able to stretch the budget far enough."
"Neeee, Emi-yaaan. You work too hard ya knooo?"
"Shiiiroooou, my scooter broke again!"
"Indeed Shirou, hunger is the enemy."
"There is a time limit to being an ally of justice."
The struggle continued, for moments or hours he could not tell. Each time something was taken from him, something irreplaceable was lost.
Each time it hurt less, or maybe he was merely getting used to the pain. It was getting easier to think.
He was here to do something, to kill something. Something dangerous.
No…he had already fought it. There was a weapon in his hand.
The flame came again.
The Apostle had been kidnapping the destitute for weeks. He'd contacted the Clock Tower, but they would not be able to mobilize quickly enough. Not to save the people it had kidnapped.
Its lair was formidable, its mysteries powerful. But to Shirou it was barely an obstacle. It had been a long time since he had been defenseless.
The battle against the Apostle itself had been underwhelming. The magus it had once been had specialized in memory, in its loss, retrieval and transfer. It had next to no combat ability, never once having had to deal with anyone that could fight back effectively.
It was a pitiful creature, its very body wasting away. Very little of it remained that could be quantifiably referred to as 'human.'
A little less after Shirou had decimated it.
It staggered against the large metal construct, covered in runes and blood.
"Wait!" it pleaded. "You can't! I'm so close!"
"It doesn't matter how close you think you are," Shirou answered coldly. "You did not have the right to hurt those people."
"But! Do you not understand!? I've managed it! The soul engine will be able to bore a hole into the Akashic plane! I've already done a test run!" it pleaded, its voice a warbling gurgle. "The Counter Force won't become involved!"
Shirou used Structural Grasp on the construct. Read in its history the hundreds of people whose bodies and souls had been fed to it in ones and twos over a period of centuries.
It was only on the last month that the disappearances were noted. For it had been a dozen instead of one or two a month.
He raised his arm, bringing to mind a weapon that should be able to destroy the magus before him. Harpe: The Slaying Scythe.
He could do nothing for those it had already fed to the machine. But he could at the very least avenge them.
The pitiful wretch raised a hand. Shirou Traced Bakuya and cut its arm off at the elbow, putrid sludge ejecting from the stump in a torrent.
But the hand was not needed for the spell, what the spell needed was intent. And the creature was too far gone to feel something as natural as pain from the loss of a limb.
"Forget!" it ordered.
He had so little left. He couldn't remember what it was that he had given, but retained only a terrible sense of loss and longing. Of violation and anger.
He could feel the hand, grasping, seeking.
He could see again. He wasn't sure why it was that he knew it was 'again' and not 'for the first time,' except that it was a sense of a restoration rather than discovery.
There was a thing in front of him. A…human? No, that was wrong.
"Fall!" it warbled at him. "Fall already!"
He felt the fiery fist in his head grasp something.
She stood at the top of what remained of the mountain, watching the sunrise. The sky was painted red as Illya snuggled tighter to his chest.
She turned, and he couldn't help but think she looked so beautiful.
"Shirou," she said, her voice steady yet overflowing with emotion. "I love you."
"NO!" he screamed. He bent his will, fighting back the grip of the fiery fist. He felt it sear him, sweat fell in rivulets down his face. He felt his limbs trembling, adrenaline rushed through him.
Somehow, he beat it back. Unwilling and unable to let it have this. All before had been sacrificed to keep this sacred. He did not know how he knew, but he did, a knowledge as deep and true as knowing the sun would rise.
"Fall!" the thing repeated, and his anger surged within him.
He did not know what to do, what he had come to do. But his body remembered. He felt something within him emit heat, felt his vitality sap, pain ran through him.
But he knew it was fine. That his body would not succumb. He was doing as he had been forged to do.
Blue lightning coursed through his palms as he raised his arms over his head. The lightning lengthened, coalescing into a long shape with a cross guard. A beautiful sword settled into his hands with a nostalgic pang.
He knew he had not seen this weapon in a long time. It was blue and gold, too finely made to be a weapon for the battlefield.
With a blink, he realized he knew more about this weapon than he did about himself.
The fist redoubled its efforts.
In his mind's eye, the sun lost its color. The sky went dark. The ground itself was swallowed away.
Yet the girl remained. Her dress was a vibrant blue, beautiful even as it was marred by mud and blood. Her hair shifted in an unseen breeze, the color of spun gold.
Her eyes…what color were her eyes?
"Shirou…I love you."
It took all he had to hold on to her. He didn't have anything else left. All that he was, he bent to ensure this last thing would not be taken from him.
Nonetheless, his body knew what to do.
"Caliburn," he whispered. He then bent his knees, swung his hips, and brought the sword down with all his strength. A blinding golden light burst forth, vaporizing the wretch and carving through the infernal machine behind it.
Unfortunately, the Soul Engine, constructed with knowledge bargained for and stolen, was a precise instrument. One designed to bore a hole through dimensions, it was a mystical construct capable of bastardizing a True Magic. It held within it a tear in reality, captive and subdued, tamed.
In other words, it was exceedingly delicate.
Shirou had known this when he used Structural Grasp. He had planned to kill the magus and carefully dismantle the device. That information, like so much else, was long burnt away.
The tear seemingly roared in freedom with a scream of shattering reality. It grew exponentially until it swallowed the room, the still-molten remains of the device, and the room's sole remaining occupant, before reality reasserted its hold and mercilessly crushed the tear into unbeing.
What remained of that old workshop proceeded to be crushed as the ground around it rushed in to fill the new sinkhole.
A coin flipping through the air. A simple premise, but even this simple a premise has hundreds of factors which influence thousands of results.
How many times does the coin flip? How many times does it bounce? Exactly which direction does it point? What surface does it strike against? Does its crystalline matrix deform? How much potential energy does it have? How much of its kinetic energy is transformed into thermal energy? How many air molecules did it displace? At what exact frequency does it resonate as it strikes a surface?
All of these things and more affect the outcome. But no matter how many factors there are, observation always collapses them all into but the simplest result.
That is often the purpose of flipping a coin. To determine an outcome. To take myriad possibilities and forcibly destroy thousands of them until but one remains. Thus is the purpose of flipping a coin, to determine an outcome between two possibilities. But an oft overlooked fact is of immense importance.
A coin can always land on its edge.
Thus is the nature of the Kaleidoscope.
It is all things and none, all possibilities that could happen are happening and not happening. Simultaneously at different instants. It is all colors, and it is neither dark nor light. It is dizzying diversity and hellish homogeny. Chaos, only existent in a strictly ordered form.
In it there is only one constant: Absolute Inconstancy.
The space between dimensions, an imaginary space that is all too real. Nonexistent until observed to exist, yet persisting after it is once more unobserved.
Observation, is the key. Without observation all the myriad possibilities cannot collapse into a simple result. A result that changes even as it is observed.
A result that mutates the observer.
A human body is dependent on the tyranny of constancy. It is built to withstand constant high gravity. It requires constant fuel through the intake of flammable gases. It demands constant nutrients. It wastes away at a constant rate. It depends on a constant traversal of time.
One second, per second.
What would happen to it in a place where the only constant is inconstancy, is at best difficult to describe.
The body burns as it freezes. Different sections of it misaligning as every part of it experience a different constant. A patch of epidermis could have a constant one second per second, which is different from the relative five seconds per second of the dermis beneath it, which is itself different from the negative second per two seconds of the endodermis underneath it.
Through this a body will drift, for an eternity that lasts the merest flicker of an eyelid. Doomed forever to be in a place where it does not belong. Held together by the curse of its own constancy, and if it is lucky, enslaved to the whims of chance.
Or if it is particularly unlucky, the machinations of Fate.
For of all the myriad dangers and horrors of the infinite sea of unreality, there are none that surpass this one.
It is not uninhabited.
It is in this manner that the destiny of the shattered, inconstant body of what used to be a man was chosen. One of his arms was grotesquely small for his body, but it was young and vibrant and full of life. His chest was in places old and leathery, in others diseased and liver spotted, yet in others the skin was the smooth and unblemished pink of newly born skin. His organs? It would be best not to delve into those.
But its mind, its soul. That remained immutable. Unchangeable. For his soul had been forged in unkind fires, compressed, and hardened.
It mattered not in what state its body was. As long as the soul remained immutable, it would persist.
It is this blotch of stability in a realm of instability that drew the attention of one of the greater beings within it. It was neither the weakest, nor the most powerful. It did not swim, or drift, or move to this blemish of constancy. It simply was there, retroactively it had always been there.
It recognized the body. For It had seen its like before.
It had worked with Its sibling to make bodies like this. Yet It could also tell that this one was not one that they had worked on.
The Being changed Its form, settling into one which was old. A form that copied that of the things It helped create. Tall and scrawny, humanoid, featureless but for a pair of curved ram's horns growing out of Its skull. Lastly the Being settled Its body into an aesthetically pleasing dark purple coloration.
"You have traveled far," the Being tittered, willing the protean possibility around the two of them to be air so Its words could carry.
The body twitched.
"Yes," the Being sibilated. "Very far indeed, through an unlikely, perilous journey."
It leaned closer to the body's head, looking into its eyes, one a lusterless grey, the other a vibrant amber, almost gold. It spied through them to the soul within, and gasped.
In the soul It saw a vast barren field. As far as It could see the field stretched, and It could see far indeed. The field was infinite, truly infinite, a distance that could not be traversed. Vast and empty, filled only by weapons and armor, driven point first into the ground as grave markers. The eternal night skies within the soul flickered between the blue of the night and the gray of apathetic emptiness. Beyond the skies were monolithic gears, their sheer scale tricking one into believing they were near enough to touch, as It could see the pinpricks of stars between It and those gears. It could hear them grinding, trying to work past some unseen obstruction, trying to answer the call to manufacture.
It realized that this was not a field as It had initially thought, but a hill. A hill that traveled continuously up. And…there, just within the edge of Its vision, at the other end of that endless void, at the peak of the infinite hill. There It could see tufts of green grass, sunlight peeking through as if from a doorway.
Never before had the Being beheld something so beautiful.
This man, this creature that had evolved rather than been constructed. Never before had It seen something so perfectly made to create that which would destroy. A void forever attempting to fill itself, knowing it would be impossible, yet making the attempt nonetheless. And the instruments held within it…there were some inside the soul that could threaten even It and Its sibling.
The Being knew jealousy such as It had never known before. That something else could have created a creature as beautiful as this and then set it adrift! The temerity! The audacity!
The sheer, inexorable genius!
Well, one Being's discard is another Being's treasure. And so Dark, as It liked to call Itself, took possession of the body before It and carefully, oh so carefully, began to work upon it. To restore the creature to how it must have been before the ravages of unreality had sundered it.
It was not Light however, Light was the one who would know what to do. But Dark did not want to involve Its sibling. Knowing Light, It would only launch into a diatribe about 'balance' and 'the poor thing's proper rest.'
Dark did not have the knowledge to return the body to its prime…but humans grew, this was a fact. It scanned the body thoroughly, and It saw that one arm, the exceedingly tiny one, was healthy. So Dark forced the rest of the body to match that arm.
The end result was…less than ideal. Dark could see how the whelp before It would grow into the masterpiece It had glimpsed. The body was small, though not scrawny, its hair a vibrant red, its eyes would shine golden in the light of a star. But while Dark mended the body, It made sure to keep that soul, that wonderful empty-but-not-empty soul, completely intact.
It scanned the body again, and saw within it the Gift. It took Dark but an instant to see, and one more to comprehend.
The body had twenty seven conduits through which it channeled the energy of its soul. Through that channeling it could bring about aspects of that wonderful, destructive world it called its soul, into the plane its body inhabited. The twenty seven channels were relatively weak. Left as they were, they would require years and years of careful experimentation before the soul could fulfill its destructive potential.
That simply would not do.
Dark worked upon them slowly and lovingly. Learning more from this one act of enhancement than from all of the creatures of Grimm that It had created back in—
Dark cut off that line of thought before fury could distract It from the delicate task of enhancing the channels. To repair and enhance was foreign to It, but Dark was nothing if not persistent. Besides, with channels as attuned to destruction as these, it would be a travesty for anything other than Dark to work upon them. The agony It caused to the soul was inconsequential, the soul would thank It for this pain if it could. Dark knew this.
Eventually, Dark finished Its work, satisfied at the expanded and strengthened channels. But then It realized that It did not know how to modify the body to fit the wonderful soul. And Dark could not bear the thought of keeping the magnificence It had so briefly glimpsed forever stunted and weak.
That old world, the shadow of what it once was. Dark knew it was full of weaker versions of the humans that Light and Dark had created. Mere shades of the glories they had once known. For once, the reminder of their betrayal did not fill It with rage and hatred, for now they would serve Dark's purpose.
After all, who better to raise a human, than another human?
Dark gave Its newest toy one last look, and noticed the severe damage to the seat of the soul. It grunted in annoyance. In Its excitement, Dark had almost ruined everything before things could even begin.
It fixed all the damage that would hinder the soul's deadly potential, reconnecting all the severed pathways that would have kept the soul from accessing its powers and techniques. Lastly, Dark gifted it with the knowledge of the language spoken in that shade of a world.
Dark placed a palm on the head of Its newest toy, lovingly caressing this new masterpiece, one that was Dark's and Dark's alone. One that Light could not put claim to.
"I will interfere directly no more than I already have, little soul," Dark said with amusement coloring Its voice. "Sally forth my little Exemplar, and make me proud. Do not fear you'll displease me by destroying my old creations; if they are too weak to stand against you, then it is their fault for not achieving their potential."
It leaned closer, whispering something more into the body's ear. Something that seared as much as it soothed. Then, with a flash of kaleidoscopic light, the little body was gone.
Dark decided to seek out Its brother. It had been eons since they had last spoken, and It felt in a particularly jovial mood.
Dedicating one small part of Its awareness to witnessing Its new toy, Dark immediately pulsed in amusement.
Not even a few seconds passed, and already that wonderfully destructive soul was snuffing out the black flames of Its first creations.
With an amused chuckle, Dark enjoyed the show as It sought out Light.