Wow. I didn't expect the story which came across my mind during a break from work could attract that much attention. Thank you all for the positive reviews!
Chapter 1: The Reclaiming of a Name
EMIYA cursed in his breath. Being summoned is not something he hasn't been used to, but having done the job for thousands of years, he knows more than anyone what those words mean. If there is a world that needs to be saved, it means that there will be people that needs to be killed.
Even worse, this is a world he doesn't even know anything about. Even after being summoned to another world, it seems he still cannot avoid his fate of being a killing machine.
He tried returning to his spirit form, just like what he usually does whenever summoned as a Servant. And he was surprised finding out that he could not. This means the body he is in right now is not a spiritual body of a Servant, but a physical, living body of a human.
His sense of danger immediately jumped into overdrive. With a magus, not knowing his own body is the most dangerous thing that could happen. But he didn't panic; calmly, he reached into his mind, running through the process of activating his Magic Circuits. And he was relieved when his 27 Magic Circuits all flared up normally at his command. There would not be anything to worry about, then.
Now he finally felt safe to look around. He was standing on an altar covered in something he realized immediately to be a magic circle usually seen in a type of magecraft called Formalcraft in his world, even though he couldn't understand exactly what this particular circle means. Next to him, there were three other Japanese-looking youths who seemed to be completely oblivious about what was happening. With just a glance, he could see that these youngsters hadn't had any real fighting experience. They seemed to be normal students; one of them was even wearing his school uniform. And each of them was having a weapon on their hands: one had a shield attached to his bicep, another was holding a bow on his left hand and the last one was waving a decorated spear around.
Only now did he realize that he was also holding something in his own hand. He looked down, and saw his hand gripping the hilt of a sword. This peculiar sword piqued his interest; looking at its outer appearance, the sword is worthless as a weapon. The hilt is too long for a short sword, but the blade of the sword is not even long enough to be called half a claymore. The tip is too dull comparing to any other swords he had seen in his life, and the design of the blade is not effective for quick strikes or slashes. And the creepy blue gem at the root of the blade looks just like the eye of some evil creature. It is just like he is holding a toy sword. But even so, there is something else… something powerful coming out of the weapon. It is just like… the sword itself holds a soul inside it.
EMIYA narrowed his eyes, and muttered a chant he has been too familiar with.
Applying Structural Analysis on the sword, he was shocked when he couldn't read any information from the sword at all. There was nothing about the material, the maker, the power of the sword; even though a long history about the previous users of the sword could be seen, it didn't help anything. The only other time something similar to this happened before… was when he tried to read Gilgamesh's Ea, a sword made by the gods with the materials and skills that do not exist in the mortal plane. This sword is definitely at least a Divine Construct.
He glanced at the weapons of the other three, and tried Structural Analysis again. No luck. It seems all of the four weapons have the same origin as each other.
Before he could say anything, the one with the spear had already raised his voice.
"Where are we? Why are we here?"
From the group of robed people standing in front of them, a man walked up and bowed his head.
"Oh Heroes of legend! Please save our world!" he repeated what he had said before, like a machine.
The three other youths exclaimed in unison.
"What?! What is that supposed to mean?"
"It is very complicated, but to simplify, we have just finished an ancient ritual and summon you Heroes of the four Cardinal Weapons," the robed man answered, still not lifting his head up. "Our world is teetering on the brink of destruction now. Without your help, we are going to be destroyed. Please, lend us your strength, Heroes."
EMIYA narrowed his eyes. There is much more bullshit in those words than in the sheds of Augeas. He was ready to raise his voice, when…
"I don't think so."
"Yeah, me neither. Can we go back to our world after finishing that job? We will talk about your problems after that."
The boys holding the bow and the spear had jumped in before he could say anything. He turned his glare toward them, and realized that they were smiling, despite saying those words.
They know something about this.
The one holding the spear pointed his weapon at the robed men and shouted, "Don't you feel guilty for calling people into your world without their permission? Depending on how you answer, keep in mind that we might end up enemies of your world."
He said those words with an excited smile on his face.
From the far side of the room, the old man on the throne stood up from his seat. He spoke up, his voice echoing through the chamber.
"I am going to explain that, chosen Heroes of the Cardinal Weapons. My name is Aultcray Melromarc XXXII, and I rule these lands. Heroes, show me your faces! I am going to explain what is going on to you. In short, this whole world is on the brink of destruction."
From the story the king told them after that, EMIYA could figure out some basic ideas. First, long ago, a prophecy was made about the waves of monsters that would wash over the world, again and again, until nothing remains. Unless the waves were repelled and their accompanying calamities avoided, the world was doomed. Ancient hourglasses were made to signal the times when the waves begin, and they come in one-month intervals. At the beginning, the knights of the country, together with adventurers from many other places, were able to repel the waves, but the next waves had become more and more powerful over time, and soon, it reached the point that the knights and adventurers alone are unable to hold back the calamities anymore. Therefore, they decided to summon heroes from other worlds to help them stop the waves. And the heroes were now their only hope to survive.
That sounds suspiciously like the plot of a third-rate MMORPG at my time, the anti-hero thought sarcastically. He doesn't believe a single word coming out of the king's mouth. The world of magi has taught him not to ever trust anyone completely just by looking at their face. ESPECIALLY politicians. That speech was definitely only designed to appeal to the four summoned people in an attempt to control them.
"And what does that have to do with us?" the boy holding the bow said. "All of this sounds self-centered to me. If your world is on the road to destruction, just let it burn. I don't see what that has to do with us."
He was struggling to hide his giggle while speaking. What a brat.
Among the three other people who were summoned, the one with the shield was the only person who hadn't said anything. And now, it was his turn to voice his concern.
"He is right. Even if you are the one who summoned us here, we still don't have any responsibility to help you. If what you said is true, we are going to have to dedicate our time and lives to bring peace to your kingdom. Would we have any compensation for that besides a 'thank you and see you later'? I mean, is there even a way for us to get home?"
It seemed that this question hit the mark. The king glanced at his vassal standing next to him. "Well… of course we are planning to compensate you for your efforts. Naturally, I've made arrangements to support you financially, and also to provide you with whatever you may require, in thanks for your efforts."
That's it. This is when he knows he needs to say something.
"You are still avoiding the question. Is it possible for anyone summoned here to return back to their worlds or not? Or does that mean…" he glared straight into the king's eyes without even flinching, "you don't have any way to return us to our worlds at all?"
For the first time, the king shuffled nervously on his feet.
"Well… I'm sorry to break this into you, but… the only way you can return back to your home world requires the calamity threatening our world to be brought to an end. And considering you are the only people who have the way to put a stop to it… I'm afraid you will need to help us resolve our problem if you want to go home."
EMIYA cursed in his breath again. He had actually expected this, though. Dimensional magic is not something easy to master; it is considered a True Magic in his home world, and there is only one person who can use it effectively, who is also one of the most powerful magi in the entire world, and a freaking Dead Apostle Ancestor to boot. Of course he is going to be restrained here until this calamity is over.
This is becoming more and more like a Holy Grail War. Only kill or be killed; there is no way out.
"Well, as long as you promise to assist us in our journey, I don't think we'll have a problem."
"Don't think you've bought us off yet. But as long as we aren't enemies, I will help you out."
Those idiots. They were acting arrogant and superior. That attitude reminded him of a lot of heroes he had met during his time as a Counter Guardian, as well as his time in Chaldea. They are actually thinking that they are going to become heroes. That thought alone made the ex-Counter Guardian's blood boil.
He already knew that there are only two ways to become a hero. One is that you must be a person whose achievements are so great they literally change the history of humankind in some way. His Master in Chaldea, Fujimaru Ritsuka, is definitely someone like that. The other way is, you must be the one who kills so many people your name is etched into history. Kill one person, you would be a murderer. Kill millions of men, you become a hero. Kill everyone, you are a god. And these three idiots were walking into that hell.
Why does he know that? Because he had also been roped into being someone like that, once. And when he realized what being a hero like that means, it was too late to walk away. That was exactly what led to his demise, under the hands of the very same people who he was supposed to save.
But even though his blood was boiling, he wasn't angry. Rather, he just felt pity for those ignorant youngsters. If they wanted to walk into hell, so be it. It's not his problem. He will just do what he can to help this world, and then he will be out of here.
"Very well then," the king nodded. "Heroes, tell us your names."
The man with the spear stepped up first. He has a pretty well-kept face, which belongs to the type of man who always has a few girls gathering around. He is about 170cm tall, and his long, blond hair is kept in a ponytail behind his head. He looks kind, but for some disturbing reason, he reminded EMIYA of a certain incompetent magus with blue hair that he knew.
"My name is Kitamura Motoyasu," he declared confidently. "I am 21, and I am a college student."
The youngster with the bow was the next person to introduce himself. "Okay, my turn. I am Kawasumi Itsuki. I am 17, still in high school."
17. So, the same age as him when he was in the Fifth Holy Grail War. That boy looks like the artist style of person. He has a vain but mysterious appearance, and the ex-Guardian can swear that he can feel some kind of power coming out from him. Definitely not magecraft or anything like that though; he has been too familiar with the feeling of mana around him to mistake it for something else. It was very similar to that feeling he had when he was around Asagami Fujino during his time in Chaldea, albeit much, much weaker.
The last one, the one holding the shield, spoke up. "Guess I'm next. My name is Iwatani Naofumi. I am 20, and I am also a college student."
Iwatani Naofumi… now, this guy is pretty interesting in EMIYA's eyes. He is the only one who showed genuine surprise at the concept of being summoned, and the only one among the three who didn't seem to understand what is going on. And he seems quite humble, if not a little bit naïve. But he is the only one among the three that the ex-Guardian could imagine to be an actual nice guy. He lacks the arrogance and vain of the other two, and he seems to be actually concerned about the potential of having to fight in a war, unlike the other two who seem to think that this is a video game or something. Even so, however, the guy still showed his unconcealable excitement of the potential of being a hero. And that irked EMIYA so much.
The king turns his attention toward him. "And you, Hero of the Sword?"
He blinked. Name, huh… "I have n…"
He suddenly stopped mid-sentence.
He has long abandoned his own name since he became a Counter Guardian. Not only because it was a requirement for an unknown being who worked as a killing machine for whenever the World needs him to, but also because that name brought him shame whenever he thought about it. It reminded him of the foolish, unachievable dream his naïve, stupid past self had made and stubbornly followed until the end of his life.
But after his time spending in Chaldea, something that he had forgotten for a long time surfaced again. He still believes that the dream he used to have in the past is immature, but he also realized that even an immature dream has its own beauty.
The dream of Emiya Shirou might have never been completed, but at least he had been shown that dream was not his alone; there are a lot of other people who also share that seemingly naïve, stupid dream. And from what he had experienced there, achieving that dream might be even closer to possibility than he thought.
For once, he had felt hope and pride in his name rather than despisal.
And he knew it. This is a completely new world, his new chance at life, a place where he could try to walk his own way again without making the same mistake he had done in the past. This is the time for the man named Emiya Shirou to be reborn.
"My name is…" he said, and a rare smile appeared on his face.