Fate/Bonds Beyond Humanity
I don't own the Fate franchise nor the High School DxD.
Before beginning the story properly let me put warnings here, this is going to be a long story where the characters are going to determine many of the directions but let me make it clear that yes there are going to be harems and other themes that some don't like.
I also will admit that I don't know how to write lemons and I am going to try and experience writing romance… feel free to give your criticism(if it is constructive) but don't expect lemons anyway.
Also, fair warning, expect some concepts and character of other franchises to show up, don't worry in getting lost, the chapter that they appear in will be the name of the franchise they came from with some of my opinion about the franchise itself but some will be relevant since the world of DxD is quite flexible even when fused with the world of Fate. Mostly I will let the story itself explain, if I let something pass feel free to call me on it.
Also unlike my One Piece story I will avoid answering many comments to avoid spoilers(I think I gave a bit too much there) but know that I am reading and I appreciate them. I may give an explanation from time to time but that will be it.
Also I apologize for any grammatical mistakes, I am brazillian and this is not my first language.
EDIT: Fixed a lot of spelling mistakes and changed some of the text for more consistency, I am sure I still missed something.
1- The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Before dawn, he had already opened his amber eyes and the teenager, slowly, started to wake up. Today is an important day and he needs to do his routine fast before rushing to school. Even before the alarm of his clock started, he had already pressed the snooze button. It read 5:00 Am and he needs to start now if he wants to get to the bathroom before the rest of the house wakes up.
First a few exercises, push-ups and sit-ups, basic repetitions. After he finished 100 of each he runs to the shower to get himself clean.
Carefully and slowly, no one in the house has woken up yet. It was a big house with a lot of rooms for the many inhabitants and some of them could get up with the smallest of noises. Finally getting to the main bathroom he lets out a sigh of relief before he gets to work.
First teeth, then shower, after washing his red hair he exits the shower and dries himself. There was a need to move fast. When the rest of his family is up, there is always a fight for the shower because of the sisters that lived there and he wanted to get everything done before one of them even gets to the door.
After getting back to his room for new clothes he goes to the kitchen, happy that no one else got up. He would be really embarrassed if- "Good morning Shirou."
Shirou almost falls face first from the stairs when he sees his mother sitting on the couch eating a light breakfast. There were two people there, his mother and one of the maids of the house and both of them were already eating breakfast.
"Guten morgen." One of the maids that was dressed with really casual clothes and dodges most of the job says. She had short hair and was an albino with red eyes and white hair like most of his family.
"Good morning." Shirou recovers and with his amber eyes he looks to the kitchen, now he is paying attention he can hear that there was someone working in there already. "Why did you guys get up so early today?"
"Weeeell… Usually you always insist on getting up too early and doing the chores but today is one special day isn't it?" His mother gets up, her long white hair flows on her back and her red eyes are full of mirth. "Last day of classes~" She sings and Shirou sighs.
"It is not that special." He tries to say and his mother looks at him in shock.
"Not special?" She turns to the one on the couch. "Liz! Did you hear him? He just said his last day of classes is not special!"
"Truly a tragedy of youth." Liz said while shaking her head with half open eyes always on the TV while placing her legs on the rest of the couch, the only man in the house turns to look to the other side considering her state of dress.
"Sella!" His mother calls the one in the kitchen. "Shirou says that today is not important!"
"I heard it, Irisviel-sama." Sella came out of the kitchen with a tray, in it there was another plate with rice, some eggs, vegetables and juice. "Eat your breakfast Shirou. Today is a special day."
Sella, the competent maid, was the opposite of her sister, Liz(short for Leysritt). Where the older sister was diligent, dedicated and worked hard, Liz was relaxed, avoided putting much effort and loved to just sit down, watch TV or play games.
The two even dressed in opposite fashion, with the younger more relaxed sibling exposing her generous bust with a sleeveless shirt and shorts while the older usually goes around in a long dress and apron.
"Thanks Sella." Shirou moves to the couch where Liz doesn't move to give him any space, he just shrugs and decides to go for a chair but the older of the siblings was not having it.
"Liz, move your legs! You are occupying all space!" Sella avoided shouting but her distress was still evident.
"Shirou doesn't mind." Liz said, completely relaxed.
"Irisviel-sama!" Sella, knowing that her sister wouldn't listen to her, directs her appeal to the closest authority.
"Now Liz. I understand that you like to relax but today is a special day! Let Shirou have some space." Under the order Liz moves immediately much to Sella's satisfaction. The younger sister was not having it.
"Flat." Liz said with a whisper but her sibling heard it.
"Excuse me!" Considering the difference of development between the two of them, Sella did have a small problem that her sister liked to poke at.
"I was admiring the flat TV." Even Shirou could tell that was a lie.
"Ahm ahm." Iri lets out a smile. "Illya is not up yet, we are quite early so no fights." Sella looked to the ground while Liz was triumphant, that lasted until the boss of the house turned to her. "And no more provoking your sister now or you will get all chores for the weekend."
Now the expressions of the sisters were reversed with the older going back to the kitchen in triumph while the younger pouts.
Shirou just resigned himself, he just wanted to get something to eat and leave early so he could avoid the chaos that was his family. He loves them all deeply but sometimes a guy needs his space and his family could be a little… chaotic. "Well at least Illya is still sleeping."
"Yes," Iri sits on one side while Liz takes the other with Shirou in the middle, all eating a light breakfast, "we were all supposed to surprise you but she decided to go to sleep late yesterday."
"Shouldn't you save more surprises for her considering everything?" Shirou asked.
"Her last day was last week and it was with your father! Yours is today and as a mother I refuse not to treat all the special moments of my children with the same affection!" The woman almost had a fire around her from her excitement.
"The only reason I needed to go an extra week was because of the accident that happened in my school. That gas leak delayed everything!" Shirou turns his head to the television, usually Liz didn't like to watch the news but considering the hour that is what was on.
"That just gave me the opportunity of getting back from my trip!" Iri looked really happy with that. "I couldn't get to Illya's last day but I got yours… it is just a pity your father couldn't make it."
"Kiritsugu-sama is always away." Liz commented and he couldn't disagree with that, the man just traveled too much for work, but that is what the head of a security company had to do apparently.
They sat there to eat their food, soon Sella also joined with her own food sitting on one of the chairs around. A normal family scene in the Emiya house.
The only one missing was his sister, Shirou couldn't help but think. A few seconds after that train of thought something, or better yet someone, impared his vision. "Guess who it is~!"
"I am guessing… Illya." He gave the answer that he knew she didn't want.
"No. Say it properly Shirou!" Even without looking at her he could tell she was pouting.
"Fine, fine... Emiya Illyasviel." Shirou said calmly but his sister didn't like that and let go of his eyes to pull his cheek.
"Shirooooooou!" He really should stop teasing but it was better to give her what she wanted or else his cheek is going to be hurting the whole day.
"Fine… Onee-chan." Almost like if a switch is flipped Illya lets go of Shirou's face and immediately gives him a hug from the back and he knew it, the sensation of two soft pillows on his back confirmed it and she knew that.
"I don't know why you avoid calling me that." She was still in her pajamas but Shirou was trying to avoid thinking about it, something that was hard since his older sister hit her growth spurt and was almost on the level of his- BAD THOUGHTS SHIROU! "I always make sure to give you lots of love."
A little bit too much in his opinion but he learned to live with it. After all, complaining to his mother would be no help and the only one that could truly help him at the moment was…
"Illya-sama, you should at least make yourself proper after waking up." Sella came to his rescue in the nick of time. "As the heir of the Emiya family you should at least demonstrate the proper decorum."
"Ah, come on Sella!" Illya complained. "It is just family here."
"Even then, soon you won't be with just your family for a while." Sella crosses her arms and gives Illya a hard look. "And bad habits in the house tend to show up on the streets."
Shirou turned to look at Iri at that moment, his mother still sported a smile but it was a fraction smaller than before and he could see it. Reminding her that Illya was going to Europe in a couple of weeks is not something that she wants, Shirou decides he needs to do something.
"It will be hard for you to find a proper husband with that attitude." He knows that saying it is to invite problems for himself but for his mother he shall endure them.
"Then I just have to marry you!" Illya hugs him more.
"We! Are! Siblings!" He manages to say between breaths while her hug gets even more tight.
"Not by blood." Illya whispers in his ear while Sella decides that enough is enough.
"While you are in this house young lady you shall follow the rules of-"
"Mom has no problems with how I dress." Finally Illya steps back, preparing to run.
"While I don't mind please don't stress Sella up." Those words embouden the maid as she gets ready to tackle her charge.
"See! You shouldn't stress me up! When we are on the exterior I will need all the help I can get!" Sella then tries to grab Illya but she dodges with a smile
"Can I at least eat first?" She tried to negotiate.
"Have you brushed your teeth?" Sella gave her demand for freedom.
"Yes!" The negotiation was successful and Sella conceded. Soon enough all the members of the family were sitting around and watching tv, a picture of a normal family.
"... after a successful round of tests, the new rockets are ready for the space mission. The famous singer…" At that point Shirou tunes out the news and moves to put his tray on the kitchen sink.
He barely got a chance to get up and Sella had already moved. "You need to get your things. I will take care of the dishes today."
"But you already-" The determined maid interrupts Shirou.
"No buts!" And she moved like a typhoon, getting every tray and leaving for the kitchen.
"But…" He was without words.
"Don't act like that Shirou." Illya says half laying on her big chair. "She just wants to give you a great day. Besides, it is not like you won't stop to do stuff at your school and get home late today."
And he couldn't disagree with that. Shirou always had the habit of helping maintain the stuff around school that even most adults couldn't fix but he always found a way.
Shirou could only sigh. "I really wish that our school had a bigger budget."
"Speaking of school, are you going to remain in Homurahara Academy or do you want to check for another place for highschool?" Iri asked with a tilt of her head.
"I think I am going to stay there. The highschool program is as good as any."
"That is right!" Illya gives a small jump to hug Shirou again. "He is going to graduate on the same alma mater as his onee-chan!"
"If Shirou is sure." Iri smiled. "But if you want to check other schools don't hesitate to tell me. We have plenty if you want a school more… intact?"
"It is fine." Shirou smiles back at his mother. "It gives me stuff to practice with my hands."
"Anyway, don't forget to talk with your kendo instructor." Sella reminded him while bringing a lunch box. "You need to tell her you are quitting."
"I don't know why you would." Iri let out a sigh. "You could stay, maybe participate in some championships, win some too… and I could take lots of pictures."
"I just don't see a point." He gets the lunch box. "I could have made one Sella."
"Not today." Sella's smile was from the fact that she had a reason to keep him away from the kitchen.
"Why don't you see a point?" Illya asks. "It could help you go to college if you wanted to."
"It just… got too easy after a certain point." Shirou looks at a watch on the wall. "I better get going, don't want to be late."
"You still have plenty of time- Oh! Why don't I take you there today!" Iri gets up, excited. "It has been so long since I took you to school!"
At that moment Shirou felt a premonition, a promise of the ride of a lifetime because his life would be on the line for most of it and even if he survived there would be sickness and pain making him unable to work or do anything else for the rest of the day for there was something that everyone on the family was in agreement, even his father, DON'T LET IRI DRIVE if you can avoid it.
"No mom, there is no need!" He had to control himself, say it too fast or too loud and he could hurt her feelings, don't put enough effort and his stomach would complain later.
"But Shirou," his mother was pouting at him, "when you go to highschool you will act all cool and won't want to be around your mother anymore."
His brain needed a minute to reboot. "What?"
"Yes!" Iri then jumps to her feet, her face full of determination. "You are entering the flower of your youth! Soon it won't be nothing but girls and hanging around your friends! Your poor mother will be left to root… At least until you give her grandchildren!"
"What?" His brain still didn't catch up with all that was happening.
"Irisviel-sama, I think you are exaggerating!" Sella tried to bring the conversation to a normal level.
"Am I? Research says that it is from 16 forward that the children start to get more independent from their parents! Look at Illya!" The young woman in question even sat straighter at being called. "She is already going to move out of the house and she is barely 19!"
Shirou knew what was coming. How could he not? He knew himself well enough to know his next few words even before he thought of them. "Fine, that will give me a bit more time to get some stuff ready." He sealed his fate.
"Oh! I need to get my keys and documents!" Iri then goes to collect her stuff while the rest of the family looks at Shirou with pity.
"You know she is going to go for the longest route right?" Illya asked.
"Probably you will see the whole city!" Sella really felt for Shirou in that moment.
"Shirou is a good boy." Liz finally says getting close to Shirou and patting him on the head.
"See if you can come back sooner today Shirou." Illya requests. "Today is a good day to look at the stars."
Shirou gives his older sibling a smile, that was a thing they do once in a while, even in the middle of a city with Illya's special telescope they turn to look to the sky when neither is too busy… Once Illya moves they won't be able to do it anymore
"Sure." He would have to make sure to leave a bit earlier but he was already going to school earlier than normal and he was sure Iri was going to leave him there at a decent hour.
A Mercedes-Benz 3000SL, stops in front of Homurahara. It was an elegant car, well conserved and taken care of and the favorite thing Irisviel had(after her family). An elegant car that many in the street can look at and admire, especially on how well the thing was preserved after it basically ran all around the town.
Shirou would know the work the thing took to look pristine, he is the one that does most of the job as a hobby and some days he regrets doing it. His mother loved the car, she truly did but her driving skills were close to non-existent or they were the equivalent of a professional racer ready to crash at any point. The teen barely manages to leave the car with his bag before he falls on the floor on his knees.
'God, I know I don't pray but please if you are there I need a new stomach!' He couldn't help but think. Shirou was not someone that believed in religion but there were some moments even an atheist would pray.
Irisviel didn't notice her son's plight, she exited the car happy for their little trip. "That was fun wasn't it Shirou?"
'Oh, the things I do for love.' "Yes mom, it was great. But I think I am almost late." He fixes himself, not willing to let his mother see his perturbed state, at least on that moment she looked a bit guilty for her… detours.
"Yes… I may have overreacted but it has been so long since we took a joy ride around Fuyuki." There was a good reason for it but no one in the family dared to say it. "Here, let me fix you up."
She starts to check her son's brown uniform, the uniform of the school, some students liked to put add ons or something similar but he was happy by just letting a button lose on the blazer and leave it at that. His mother knew that and made sure that it was all how he liked.
"There you go. Fufufu, I am so happy I could bring you on your last day." And her smile was the only reward Shirou needed.
"Thanks mom. See you later?"
"Of course, I won't travel for the rest of this year… I kinda want to see Illya go, you know?" And then his mother remembered that.
"Hey, it is going to be fine. Sella is going to go with her to make sure Illya… Okay, she will get in a lot of trouble anyway!" Iri had to hold back a laugh at her son's comment. "But Sella will make sure she is well fed and that she will come back home safe when she can."
"I know, I know. Your father said the same thing and it was Illya's decision and I have to respect it." She then tries to fix Shirou's hair but it was either a mess to the side or the front. "I really wish you fixed your hair back. It looks good on you."
"It makes me look like a douche."
"It makes you look mature." She started to try and fix the mess with his head hair again but the red hair was not having.
"It is going to be fine mom." He really wished he was taller than her, it would be easier to dodge.
"Should I come here later to pick you up?" Wasn't that a frightening thought?
"No, don't worry about it. I can get better by myself." He really didn't want to risk another ride in the car today.
"I know, it is just that a mother worries. You know? With Illya leaving soon and…"
"It is fine. I am going to be fine. You don't need to worry so much." He really understood that she was in a funk because Illya was leaving soon, but it still was not enough for him to risk his life again.
"I will always worry, even if you were the strongest man in the world I would be worried." Shirou raised an eyebrow.
"You don't worry so much about dad." Her smile was beautiful while she answered.
"He is not my son." She then gives him a kiss on the check. "See you at night, call me if you need me and have a happy day of school." Iri didn't want to go but Shirou made a point to watch as she got in the car, a hand waving for his benefit. Her son could only hope she would make it back home safe.
And with that he moved to the gates, some had seen the interaction between mother and son, a couple were jealous but most just didn't care. And with that the bell rings for the last day of class and Shirou really should run on his own.
The last day of classes usually don't have real classes, it is used more as a time for the teachers and the students to say goodbye to some friends, trade information, see if they would be together next year and some other stuff, each one with their own rituals.
Most teachers just wanted to say goodbye, talk about the year and many students were all for it. There were those that were getting ready for some classes or fighting to get a little bit done before said classes either by fear of extra tests, the failure from graduating or to avoid the classes altogether.
For club members, like the kendo club which Shirou and others took part of, it included a last visit with some words from their teacher supervisor. "SHIIIIIIIROOOOU!" And he was the favorite student of this particular teacher.
"Tiger." He said calmly. The 'tiger' in question had short honey colored hair, he was dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt with strips and jeans. She was also 'distressed' from the nickname.
"DON'T CALL ME TIGER!" Other students like her reaction but start to leave the classroom that the teacher, Fujimura Taiga, had just come rushing in. "Anyway, we are going to have a party later at my house to celebrate the great year and I wanted to invite you!"
Raising an eyebrow Shiro says. "No thanks, I still have some stuff to do and then I will just go home."
That ticks his teacher off. "Shirou, you barely hang out with your club or any other friends. Damn it, I think the only friend you have around here is Issei-kun." The teacher lets out a sigh." It got to the point that I have to invite you for a party… that everyone knew for weeks."
"Really, I didn't notice." Shirou was picking his lunch from his bag but in reality he was not hungry, still recovering from the ride to the school. "But it is fine. I don't like parties that much anyway."
Taiga lets out a sigh. "And it is that attitude that stopped you from competing in tournaments. We could have gone to nationals with you there."
"But… we went to nationals. We even won." Well, one of his club mates did, Shirou, stayed at home.
"Yes, but it would have been more dramatic if we hadn't- You know what: Just show up at my house. Or if you want I can take you straight from here." His english teacher was really trying there. "We party a bit, you speak with the guys and have some fun, ya know."
The 'Tiger of Fuyuki' as she was called stepped back and tried to appear non-threatening and that lit the alarm on Shirou's head. When that woman wanted something, she could be much more pushy.
He would know, since his refusal to participate in tournaments had her more than once following him with banners and other stuff to try and make him compete.
"Sensei… What is the problem?" And she knew that he was serious when he didn't use her nickname.
The silence lasted a minute until finally the teacher took a deep breath. "Ah, it's nothing much. It is just that many of us are moving to… better schools and the like."
Ah, that was the problem. The woman had attended this very same academy all the way until college, she had been one of its students and even was part of the kendo team herself. Taiga also would have won a few championships if she didn't have a certain habit of letting a tiger striped tag on the handle of her sword. That was completely against the rules, both sides had to fight with equal equipment for the fairness of competition.
The tag actually did nothing, it was just her preference but rules were rules and Fujimura Taiga never passed the third place.
But that didn't mean she wasn't skilled, if it wasn't for the rules or her lack of respect for them it was assured that she would have won a lot of competitions.
But all that, all the joys and failures, all that happened in her time as a student of the Homurahara Academy.
When she graduated from college she came back and even if the academy was not as grand as it once was it was still important to her.
"Come on Tiger, you had lots of students go in the past." It was hard but not new right? "What is different this time?"
The woman gives him a nod and a smile but Shirou even could tell it was fake. "You are right! You are right! Doesn't mean a teacher can't have her favorite students together for a small go away party right?"
"You remember that there is still a full day of classes right?"
"Yes, but I am super excited!" And it showed. The woman was almost bouncing with repressed energy. "I see you there okay?" The tiger exits the classroom, supposedly to have her own lunch. "Oh before I forget!" Her head appears at the door. "Do me a favor and pass by the club to get a commemorative sword. It will be there until you get it."
And with that she was gone, the students, used to her antics, just kept eating while Shirou stopped to think for a bit. He didn't decide if he was going to go do that or just go home but at the very least he could go collect the sword.
He didn't have the courage to tell her he was quitting… maybe he could stay for another year?
Either way Shirou still had stuff to do and his next stop was in the student council room and as a bonus if he decides to eat he is sure the main secretary will let him.
Suddenly his nose started to ich, it was not something uncommon but he also felt a particular smell from… his right.
Shirou looks to the window in the hallway and sees on the school grounds a girl dressed in a uniform that has nothing to do with theirs.
Like their academy it had long sleeves and a tie but that was where the similarities ended. The colour was all different, not wrong for the girl was dressed well but had to force his vision to notice all the differences but some were easy to not.
It had a shoulder cape for starters, the skirt was smaller, much smaller in perspective of a magenta color with a matching corset. Paying close attention he could see the white ascent on the skirt and the lines on the shirt but that was until he noticed the person itself.
She was beautiful with blue eyes and the most vivid red hair that he had ever seen, but that was not what caught his attention.
A person like her was standing in the middle of the grounds, surrounded by people and no one said anything, nobody reacted to her, it was like she had no one's attention and that should be impossible.
But what Shirou found truly odd was that the girl was looking at him. Not in his general direction but directly at him.
He didn't know why but he could tell she was looking at him for a few seconds, maybe a minute until she let out a smile.
Then Shirou blinks and the girl is gone, the ich on his nose and the smell are too.
The red haired teen didn't like that but everything felt normal. 'Did I imagine that?' He thinks to himself for a few seconds and just shakes his head.
Strange things happen but he can also make mistakes, most importantly the smell was gone and that actually helped to forget what that was.
It would be strange if he just jumped at shadows because he suddenly smelled the smell of burned earth and sulfur.
"I am changing schools next year." Issei, his friend for a long time, had told Shirou while they ate in the council room, there were only the two of them there.
"You are?" Shirou didn't hide his surprise. Ryuudou Issei was dedicated to his job on the student council and there was no secret he planned to run for president in his first year of high school, a first if he manages to win in his first year.
The young man had squared glasses, well kept black hair, his uniform hadn't a single defect and is the son of the main monk of a temple that he cared the same name as him. He was serious and when Shirou offered to help repair some stuff it was he who took Emiya seriously.
They hit it off from there, almost everyday Shirou ends up going for the student council to ask if they needed help with something and it was Issei who would work with him, getting tools or just showing him what needed to be done.
They also talked with each other about the future, school, their colleagues and such. Shirou was the only person that Issei trusted with his intentions of becoming president and now he also just told him he essentially quit.
Issei didn't quit, he was not super competitive but Shirou knew that there was a thing Issei was proud of was his position on the student board with his grades and his work in the student council.
"Why are you changing schools? Something happened? Can I help?" Shirou was concerned but Issei just gave him a small smile.
"Nothing severe happened, Shirou-san, but an opportunity showed up." Issei stopped talking to take a bite of his own lunch.
"An opportunity?" Shirou raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
"Yes, a friend of the temple showed up just the other day with a bit of interesting gossip." Issei came close to Shirou to whisper in his ear. "Kuoh Academy is going to be co-ed next year."
"Kuoh?" Issei lets out a sigh and a shake of his head.
"Shirou, I expected you to know the biggest school of Fuyuki, if not Japan."
That sounded like something that Shirou should know about. "So? Are they that great?" He almost wanted to suggest that it was because of some sport or something but Issei was not the type to focus on that.
"'That great'? Shirou, Kuoh academy is a huge campus outside of town, it has a great reputation, the best facilities and all the women that have graduated from there are said to have gotten excellent jobs. It has produced many politicians and athletes of renow." Issei got excited talking about it, much to Shirou's amusement.
"So, if I got it right, this all girl school is going to be co-ed?" His friend gave him a simple nod.
"Exactly! But it still is a prodigious and expensive school, normal tuition…" Issei gave a small shiver, just thinking about it must bother the guy.
"I don't want to talk about the zeros. But they want to incentivize the entrance of males and there are going to be discounts." Discounts?
"Why the discounts? No, wait! Why is a school that has always been for girls suddenly decided to be co-ed?" Shirou wanted to say he smelled something fishy but he was going to wait for Issei's comment.
"It was not out of nowhere. There have been talks since last year from what my father's friend told me." Issei looks pensive while talking. "From what I gathered they made some reforms that expanded the campus a bit too much and they want to use the full capacity."
"It must be a huge school." Shirou's comment snaps Issei out of his musing.
"Huge is an understatement, it has its own college."
"Yeah, no joke. The college said it has always been mixed but the school can use the superior installations for their clubs if they want." Issei snaps his fingers, remembering something. "Because of how the whole thing is designed, there are lots of clubs to the point that there is a club for everything."
"Everything? Is that possible?" That was hard to believe.
"It may be propaganda but with two huge campuses, a middle school and students working together on both sides…" Enough had been said.
"No offense but that sounds too good to be true." Issei nods.
"I agree but it made national news more than once and the fact that such a scholarly endeavor is unic gave it a lot of scrutiny. So far there has been no big troubles or scandals either." Then Issei moves to put away his lunch box, Shirou didn't notice he was finished. "And trust me, I have been researching them for a week. But is there something wrong with you?"
Shirou looked at his own lunch, he barely touched the thing. "I am just not hungry today." His stomach was almost there but it was still doing flips.
It spoke of his mother's skill in driving that even hours later he was still feeling the effects.
"Isn't what I said right?" Issei showed his concern but Shirou tried to smile to calm him down.
"No it is just… I was a bit late tonight and my mother drove me here."
Now the main secretary looked at Shirou confused. "You aren't lying aren't you?"
'Is my poker face that bad?' "I am telling the truth, my mother drove me here in a rush and I am still feeling the effects." Now the black haired boy looked convinced.
"Usually you are more organized than that." He couldn't help but comment and Shirou chuckled a bit.
"Yep, stuff happens." Now that Shirou thinks about it… "This is going to be the last time we hang out."
"Maybe, if you start to see your friends outside the school for once." Shirou winced. "Don't look at me like that. You are the one that says 'sorry I am busy tonight' or 'I can't do it tomorrow'. Really Emiya, I swear that is like you are living a double life."
"I just like to spend time with my family." Which he does, to be fair.
"And that is fine but if I noticed you know it is a problem." Issei could see that Shirou was properly chastised and let out a sigh. "But don't worry. I am not moving from the temple or whatever. If you want we can try and do… 'normal student's' stuff."
"... You got called on it too… didn't you?"
"I don't know what you are talking about." But Issei had a tell, he always fixes his glasses and turns his head when he is frustrated at something someone said.
"Sure, next year we can go and… try 'normal student's stuff'." Shirou got up and moved to shake his friend's hand. "Good luck there, Student Council President."
"Ha! It may not be that much of a right thing Shirou… But I swear to you I shall give my best, after I pass the test to get in."
After their small moment Shirou decided to save his lunch for later. "Ah! Do you need something looked after? Considering this is the last day it may as well be the last chance for a while."
"You do realize that we are going on a break right?"
"And the people who will need to come on said break to not repeat a year?" Well… Issei couldn't exactly disagree and Shirou was offering.
"Sometimes Shirou I think you are too nice for your own good."
After the classes Shirou got to work. There were some computers and a heater that needed small repairs, at least the computers did need some cleaning while the heater was starting to make a weird noise.
Issei said that he didn't need to bother that much but Shirou liked working with his hands. Ryuudou offered to stay but there was no need, Shirou would finish it quickly… Until he found a problem.
It was nothing big, per say, but the condition of the heater when he stopped to check was… precarious... as in a fire hazard waiting to happen.
There were no spare parts and he knew it was not safe to leave that alone if no one fixed it soon.
After some thinking he decided to call one person from the administration. Took over half an hour for someone to get there and while they trusted Shirou's expertise they didn't understand the explanation at all.
After another half hour a proper repairman was called.
"Kid got a point, this is trash."
"But Yamanisuke-san, there is really nothing that can be done?" Shirou didn't know the man but he was sweating a lot and it was not that hot.
"Well… you can buy a new one." The bald teacher started to sweat some more, Shirou pitted the man since this was not really his job.
"I think I need to call the director for this…"
"Can't you make a decision? I also need my own payment." The old repair man said.
"Hum… Sir…" Shirou felt that he should say something. "If you have some spare parts we can make this last a bit more. Also you will be able to receive a faster payment, right?" The last part had Shirou asking the teacher.
"I do have some spare but what are you? The junior repair brigade?" Yamanisuke asked.
"No, I just like to help." Shirou smiled to try and reassure the man and the old man chuckled.
"Kids these days… fine I will get some parts in my car but you better buy a new one sometime before the next year starts." The teacher felt reassured by the compromise.
"I am sure the headmaster won't find problems in agreeing with it." Now the bald man was calmer, it was evident he had no power to make decisions and the fact that the heater will last until the director can have a say is a bonus.
"The budget here must suck." Shirou heard the repair mumble but at that he could only smile. The man did have a point.
With Shirou's help the man finished the job without further troubles and left without hesitation.
"Thanks for the help Emiya-kun." The teacher Yatame bowed to him in appreciation.
"It was nothing sensei. I was just taking a look and saw a problem, that was all."
"Still… It is already night." The two looked to the sky and the sun had almost set completely. "I made you waste so much time, I am sorry your last day had to end like this."
"I already said it was fine. I stayed to help because I wanted to." Besides, he likes to help.
"You are truly too nice Emiya-kun." The teacher started to move back to the school. "I will need to fill out a report asking for a new heater, you are welcome to wait for your parents in the teacher's lounge if you want."
"It will be fine, have a good night sensei." Shirou waves at his teacher and gets moving to leave until he remembers something. "Ah. I forgot to pass the kendo club."
Changing direction he made the steps to the small building that was the club he was a part of. Shirou didn't plan to be a part of it next year since he found problems because he isn't competitive enough and one of his classmates almost picked a fight because of it.
But that was a problem for next year, he was still a part of the club and it was only fair that he gets the last gift from his teacher if just to not hurt her feelings.
Shirou reached the club, it was one of the most well conserved buildings, a dojo of moderate size. Shirou expected the door to be locked considering the time but he opened it.
Once he was inside he saw the leftovers of a party, a banner saying 'Good Luck in Kuoh', cups and bottles. It wasn't much and it wasn't a proper party from what Shirou could see but it was a pre-party.
"They must have gone to sensei's home." Shirou whispers, noting on the table beside the drinks covered sword. It was in a small bag made to carry kendo swords or bats and after turning on the lights he moved to it.
There was a tag with his name on it. "This must be it." Opening it he pulls out the wooden sword.
It was well crafted and made in the style where it could be used as a one hand sword, medium size and slick… It was not a sword for competitions but it was the style he prefered. Someone must have remembered when he said that once.
Shirou studied the sword for a bit until he noticed a tag on the handle, it was like Taiga's-sensei but instead of a tiger it had the symbol of yin and yang stamped. He couldn't understand why.
'Maybe I should go to the party-' The smell of burned earth came back to his nose.
"You took your time leaving the school magus." The voice was of a girl, full of confidence and a bit of arrogance. Shirou turns around and sees her once again, the girl with crimson hair from earlier.
The uniform really was out of place in his school but before he had time to think about it he processed what she said. "Magus? I am sorry but you must be confusing me with someone else."
The girl's smile didn't diminish, if anything it became more pronounced and the smell became stronger. "Are you telling me you can't feel my energy? Then why are you sweating."
With that comment Shirou changed his posture from confused to alert. "What gave me away?" The smell disappeared and she looked at him confused.
"What do you mean? You called me for a contract, magus." Now Shirou was the one confused.
"I am sorry but I don't remember wanting to make a contract." The girl placed a hand on her chin to think but Shirou had his own questions. "Who are you? And how do you know that I am a magus?"
"You felt my energy, it was supposed to be the sign and I was going to wait for you to go to an isolated place for a meeting."
"That… sounds overly complicated."
"Tell me about it!" The girl wasn't shouting but it was almost there. "I mean, the other magus sends a familiar with an obviously modulated voice, tells me that there is a stray devil in this school and then this whole set up when I asked her for a cellphone number." She starts to massage her eyes. "I thought that it was you and that the other magus was a truly skilled detector but apparently you are the better one!"
Shirou gives her a time to rest after the small rant, going to a drinking fountain reserved for members of the club he projects a small cup of plastic since he couldn't find any.
"Feel better?" He offers the cup and she accepts.
"Yes, thanks." She then examines the cup. "You made this?"
"Projected actually. It is something basic for a magus…" Shirou shuts up when he remembers that he shouldn't be talking about it and he didn't know who this girl was.
"Interesting. I always saw the magus as just the researcher you know? Compared to magicians who can use spells from other races and true mages, sorcerers, who can bend the laws of the world with skill and knowledge alone." She then finishes the water and Shirou stops supplying the prana to keep the cup existing, as little as it was.
"Mostly are, but my education was… specialized." Shirou then looks straight into the girl's eyes. "Who are you?"
"Oh. I apologize, I haven't introduced myself yet." The girl then did a courtesy. "My name is Rias Gremory and I am a devil."
Gremory was a name that Shirou knew, his mother had a book that spoke in length of those who carried that name and their similarity. "Gremory? From the Ars Goetia?"
"... You never have met a devil before, have you?" Rias' mirth was paupable on her voice.
"Well… no. But isn't that name a big deal?" She laughs and he just glares a bit.
"...haha, I am sorry. I am sorry. You really sound like the first time that some people summon devils." She controls herself and smiles some more. "You also believe in people too easily, I could be lying about being a devil."
"Why would you lie?" She shrugged at that.
"No idea." Then she unfolds a pair of bat wings on her back. "But just so we have no doubts here. Yes I am a devil and you are a magus. Correct?" He nods and she continues. "Are you sure you aren't the one that summoned me?"
"I don't even know how to do that." He decides to be honest.
"It has to do with these pamphlets." She pulls a piece of paper with a magic circle in it. "You make a wish and either me or one member of my… let's call them my household, comes to grant it if possible."
"Then how you don't know who called you." Rias could just sigh at the question.
"Because that person left a familiar where I showed up…" Rias then looks at Shirou and asks. "Are all magus that paranoid?"
"Don't know many, in my family… well technically there is only my sister and me that are magus and I am not that great of a magus."
"That makes no sense on a lot of levels but… to each their own I suppose." Rias smiles again and asks. "Speaking of family, what is your name?"
"Emiya Shirou." He stands his hand and Rias shakes it without hesitation.
"Emiya… I think I heard that name before… but it doesn't matter right now." It was obvious the girl was still frustrated. "I have no idea where the stray is… if there is even a stray to begin with."
"Okay, slow down a bit. 'Stray'? Can you explain that please?"
"Long story short, every high level devil has a household called a peerage." She raises one finger then follows with another. "Once you are part of a peerage you can only leave with the blessing of the king, the leader and creator of said peerage." The third finger goes up. "Those that leave before are called strays and usually they leave by killing their former masters and running to the human world when possible."
"Usually?" Rias shrugs.
"Some just run. Not ready for the life of a devil."
"Are they dangerous?" Shirou's question got another shrug.
"Depends, most are because once you become a devil you need to learn to control the energy that comes with it." Raising a hand a magic circle appears and drops something for Rias. She shows Shirou a chess piece, a knight; "This is an evil piece, if I used it on you, you would become a devil. Once you are a devil the very mana that your body uses will shift, you will gain the element of shadows and if I, the mistress of this piece, die or lose my power for some reason the energy manipulation loses control and will mutate you if you aren't already able to control it."
"Why is that so cruel?" Shirou steps back, the small piece making him nervous but Rias shakes her head.
"Turning a member of other races into devils is a hard process. The benefits are huge and if nothing happens to the king until the person masters the power then there are no real downsides."
"Besides being a devil?" A chuckle comes from Rias.
"Yes, 'besides being a devil'." She makes the piece disappear. "Those that kill their masters and run away become criminals of the highest order. They usually go insane by the piece's power and start killing or doing damage that if not controlled can expose our world." Raising an eyebrow she asks. "Questions?"
"No thanks." Shirou then turns pensive. "And that stray? Are you sure that there isn't one around?"
"My contact said they had definite proof… as a devil when I am summoned and receive a request I must see it through, my pride demands that." Shirou now had some questions.
"Isn't that dangerous? You could fall for a trap or something?" She found his concern funny.
"There are safety measures, to call for a devil the wish needs to be sincere." That just confounded him more.
"And it knows how?"
"Magic." Shirou had to admit he walked into that one. "Anyway, do you know any other magus in this school?"
"Honestly I thought I was the only one here that knew about the moonlit world." Shirou couldn't help but scratch the back of his head. "I didn't even know that there was anyone else on the 'know' around."
"You really know nothing about them." Rias was smiling, almost like she knew a joke that he was not privy to. "There is much more to this town than you know about. That being said, here."
Rias was offering Shirou the pamphlet and he just took it. "What do I do with this?"
"If you have a wish you can call me." She shrugs. "Consider it an apology for scaring you."
"I was not scared."
"Cute, but the way you are holding that sword," she was pointing to it and only then he noticed how he was gripping it, "says otherwise."
"Fine." He couldn't deny it and placed the pamphlet in his pocket. "But what about the stray? Are you just going to leave?"
"There is nothing I can do." Rias stopped to think. "There is no sign of a stray and there was no one missing in the region as far as I know. It would be easy if there was something weird happening around." The last comment caught Shirou's attention.
"Weird? Like a random gas leak?"
"Sorry to disappoint but gas leaks are not that uncommon."
"They are in the middle of a forest." Now Shirou had her attention.
"Show it to me." It was a demand but one that Shirou had no problems complying with.
The woods behind the academy were not a big forest but it extended enough to the walls of the institution. When one looks outside it looks like the entrance of a real forest when it was actually, while considerably big, lacking the wood life that would make that a real forest having only insects as the majority of the population.
Once Rias got close to the forest she made another magic circle and summoned a creature that looked like a bat but… cuter?
"Batchan, explore for a bit. Come back if you find anything." Batchan gave her a nod, a salute and flew into the woods. Shirou watched all curiously until Rias moved to enter as well.
"Hey! What are you doing?" His question made her turn around.
"What? Batchan can't scout all this by herself and I am more sensitive to another devil's energy."
"But shouldn't you call for reinforcements or something like that?" Was she insane by going alone where there can be a criminal?
"Thank you for the concern, it is much appreciated however," the smell returned once again, stronger than before, "I am strong Emiya-kun. So please, go home and let me deal with the stray."
Having said her piece, Rias marched to the woods and Shirou wondered if the demonstration was to reassure him or because of her pride. Either way it didn't matter since Shirou could go home… As if he would let someone walk in the woods alone.
The duo walked for a bit with Rias taking the lead, the girl turned to see Shirou following her but said nothing about it. The two kept walking for a bit in silence, looking around for anything unusual.
Shirou didn't have any difficulties walking, the light of the full moon helped illuminate the way but soon the path started to get more difficult and he said. "This is odd."
"What is it?" Rias stopped to listen to his explanation.
"The gardners take care of this place, it shouldn't be like that." Even if the school was in trouble financially it was still a thing that needed to be done to avoid accidents. "I am sure I saw them entering here once or twice before the 'break'."
The two stood there, each thinking of what that meant when Rias raised her head and then her hand for her familiar. "Report."
"There is a barrier a little further north."
"IT TALKS?" Shirou was shocked.
"So do you." Rias didn't bother turning to him. "Continue."
"Right boss." The voice was so cute but Shirou refrained from commenting. "I didn't find any way to open the barrier but it's not that strong."
"Is it a devil's barrier?" The small bat nods. "Show us the way." The familiar took flight once again and they followed the small creature.
Soon they reached the barrier, to normal eyes there was nothing but Shirou used another piece of magecraft, reinforcement, to improve his vision. "It is a small one."
"You can see it?" Rias asked.
"Yes, it is really small. Small enough that it doesn't go past the tree line."
"Hum~" Rias raises her hand until she can touch the barrier. Once she found it there was a spike of energy around her and a red aura covered the barrier and when it was completely enveloped it was destroyed. The whole process lasted a couple of seconds.
Once it fell Shirou stood there shocked, there was a cave, with a huge entrance that a whole truck could go into the ground. "How the hell did nobody notice this?" He was really confused.
"Good question, either the cave is recent and the barrier was keeping normal people out," Rias starts to walk towards it, "or it was dug very recently." Shirou starts to follow but Rias turns around to stop him. "Sorry but this is where we split."
"There is a good chance that there is indeed a stray and the other magus had to call for help." Rias gives him a smile. "While I appreciate the intent, from now on I won't be able to protect you."
"I don't need protection." Shirou didn't feel offended per say but still insulted.
"I don't know how powerful this stray is going to be, but he is skilled." Rias goes back to march to the cave. "Batchan, keep an eye out. Nobody else goes in." She gives Shirou a last look. "If you want to come I won't stop you but please, be careful and run if I tell you to."
Shirou didn't disagree and they both made their way in the cave. Even if it wasn't a natural one it was still absolutely dark. No lights of any shape or size.
But both explorers had night vision since one of them was from a race inclined to the darkness anyway. Shirou had reinforcement, the human eyes could adapt to dark environments but not enough to help in such a situation, except that reinforcement allowed him to see to a greater degree, enough to avoid tripping at very least.
It was a natural cave, there were no stalagmites or any other sign that time was responsible for it. In Rias' mind the odds of a stray were rising by the minute, the clues just kept piling up but there were still questions on her mind.
What was a stray doing in a school? Nobody was attacked so it was not hunting humans for food, it was hiding in the woods but those woods were close to a school… too close for comfort even.
Rias had one of her peerage, her Queen, investigate the area and it made no sense so far. The story of Homurahara was a long one; founded by normal men in the times after the establishment of the Meiji government. It was once the top school of the city and in the good times was an example of administration.
As far as Rias knew nothing supernatural happened to it, even if Fuyuki itself had its fair share of events. A normal school, with mostly normal students, falling apart for the times were changing… Why would a stray hide there?
Questions and questions. That was all that Rias had at the moment, just questions. Looking behind her she could see that the magus was still following. That was another question.
It was not like she didn't know that there were others of the moonlit world in the city, that was actually expected because unless someone figured out how to make a city large boundary field there was no way of monitoring all who go in or out, and even then it would be hard for someone to process all that intel.
But the fact that she found a magus without any previous ties to devils or minimal prior knowledge? That was weird. The way he described his family spoke more of isolation or exile but Emiya Shirou didn't look like a criminal or even the child of one.
But even the most isolated families had more knowledge of devils and the like, sure he knew about them but he was still surprised about what a devil was like.
Oh, she felt his eyes looking at her, there was some desire there but not as much as mostly would have. It was buried beneath caution and confusion, confusion being the key there.
So far Shirou didn't do anything she had heard magus usually did, no aria or words to help him focus or the use of a mystic code, an object imbued with power, or anything that was common.
Rias had met some magus once but that was years ago and they were contracted with her family. Thanks to them she had a fair understanding of magecraft and what magus could do, that is why she didn't want Shirou with her in a dangerous situation.
It is not that a magus can't fight, they just didn't but there were exceptions. That didn't change the fact that Shirou was an unknown element.
She didn't know his capabilities, even if he could fight and the way he kept a firm grip on the wooden sword spoke of familiarity, he may never have been in a real fight.
But from what she could gather he was a nice guy, if the stray is dangerous she will have to make sure he doesn't get hurt.
Shirou stops out of nowhere making the devil also pause. "What is wrong?" Rias asked, turning towards him and seeing him place a hand on his nose.
"This smell… it is awful."
"Smell?" Rias wasn't smelling anything.
"It is how I detect mana." Shirou started to make a face of disgust. "And the air here… I never smelled something that bad in my life."
"How does that work?" Rias would admit that she was curious if asked.
"Everyone has their own way of using mana, their own smell. But the deeper we go to the cave…" He didn't need to finish.
"Out of curiosity, how do I smell?" That distracted Shirou who suddenly looked nervous.
"I don't know how you smell… I know how your power smells."
"Huh, nice dodge." Then Rias started to exude her energy, enough so that Shirou relaxed. "I think that my power 'smells' better right?" Even if Shirou couldn't see properly he knew she was smiling cheekily.
Two started walking again and in a few minutes Rias started to detect the energy that Shirou was talking about. It was from a devil she was sure but it was also corrupted, truly from a stray.
Looking at Shirou, Rias can tell he was having no troubles with her energy… was the corruption the source of the 'bad smell'? That was interesting. "We are getting closer to the stray, last chance to back out."
"Are you calling reinforcements?" His concern was cute at that point.
"In my peerage I am the strongest by far. About the other Kings in this town…" She could think of one that would for sure help but that would hurt her pride and give her friend bragging rights.
"Then I am not leaving. I may be a magus but I promise that I can take care of myself."
"If anything I can't call you a coward, Emiya-kun."
It didn't take long for them to find what they were looking for, its form was huge, the size of a house and it was sitting on the center of the cave. Looking around it was possible to see multiple paths, paths that could take a person to other entrances or even a labyrinth that this stray used to hunt.
That would explain why nothing happened in the area, this was not a hunting ground, it was a hideout and the owner was home.
It noticed them and opened its mouth showing its sharp teeth. "A devil and a human? How did you find my abode?" The voice was of a man and he turned to them, it was obvious that this stray had seen better days.
The uncontrolled devil magic of his piece had mutated him, the power that would replenish his youth keeping him young and strong had instead turned him into a huge and fat monstrosity with small hands and long arms.
"May I know who I am speaking to? And why do you decide to live beneath a school?" Rias didn't recognize this one, he was not one of the most dangerous strays wanted.
"No you may not." The stray tried to get up but found himself unable. "Tsk, ate too much." He glares at Rias. "You… you are a Gremory aren't you? I recognize the hair."
"My name is Rias Gremory and you are invading my territory." With this declaration Rias got ready to kill the stray only for him to laugh.
"HAHAHAHA! Your territory! HAHAHA!" Once he controlled his laugh the devil said. "Girl, you have no idea what is down here and you think you own this place?"
"What is down here?" It was Shirou who asked the question.
"And why would I tell that to you, human? You are the second one that dares to enter my home and this time there will be no escape!" A dark gray energy started to leave the stray.
"Second?" Rias wondered if it was the other magus.
"Doesn't matter! You both will be food for me and my FRIENDS!" The energy spread and much of it entered the tunnels.
"RIAS! THE SMELL IS STRONGER NOW!" Looking behind her the devil could see a barrier forming on their back.
"THERE IS NO ESCAPING NOW!" The power of the stray was rising but Rias was not concerned.
"Emiya-kun! Stay back!" Rias energy matched to answer, whatever the stray intended Rias planned to not give the giant a chance. Focusing her power she unleashed a blast of dark and red energy at the giant.
The two powers collide but Rias was obviously the superior one breaking through easily and disintegrating the head of the stray.
"That was easy." Rias said she felt like being smug at the moment but that only lasted when she noticed something.
"The barrier is not going down." Shirou commented.
"But that means-"
"IIIARRHG!" The body of the stray shakes while his head regenerates. It was slow and disgusting for the spectators, flesh moved up and transformed into bone to replace what had become dust."Ah! That was unpleasant! The Power of Destruction wasn't it?" He glares at Rias. "You may look like a Gremory but you have the ability of a Bael!"
"That is impossible." Shirou says. "Nothing should regenerate once the brain goes out."
"You really don't know much about us devils… but even I agree that was unusual." Rias got more energy ready to repeat the attack. "It doesn't matter, his regeneration has to have a limit. All I have to do is force him to that limit."
"Hehehe!" The monster-like stray started to gather his energy again. "Sorry but I have no intention of having my head blow up again!" The power rises but so does Rias'.
"YOU DON'T HAVE A CHOICE!" Once again she launches blasts of destruction and once again there is a contest but this time the result is different. There is another barrier in front of the stray with the same kind of energy. "WHAT?"
Rias was confused, nothing should be able to withstand the Power of Destruction but for some reason this time the barrier was holding. "You purebloods are always thinking themselves invencible! The power of the 'great' 72 pillars won't break my barrier!"
Soon the attack stops, Rias seeing no point in continuing that exercise. "This… how? I broke the other barrier easily up there."
"Yes you did!" The stray said with a laugh. "And by doing it YOU told ME who was coming!"
"Did he… adapt the barrier?" Shirou asked.
"Even then the Power of Destruction is not that easily countered." Rias commented. "This… he is not a common stray."
"THANK YOU FOR NOTICING!" There was no joy there, only contempt. "I AM MORE THAN JUST A STRAY AND I AM MORE THAN A DEVIL NOW! I AM THE KING OF THIS CAVE AND YOU TWO MY DINNER!" He licks his lips. "IT HAS BEEN LONG SINCE I HAD MEEEEEEEAT!" And he unleashes his power once again, but not at the invaders but the tunnels.
"Are you hearing this?" Shirou asks, getting closer to the devil.
"Yes, this isn't good." Rias didn't hesitate in letting Shirou's close.
They came from the tunnels, hundreds of thousands entering from each side. Rats, rats everywhere of many colors and different sizes. The whole rat population of Fuyuki had gathered together and they were out for blood.
"He controls rats…" Rias mumbled but there was no time.
"ATTACK!" With that command the rats advanced.
Rias didn't waste any time and started to throw energy at the rats but they came from all directions. 'Come on, come on!" Rias was in a frenzy trying to take out as many as she could when a group was rushing to the side.
"LOOK OUT!" But Shirou jumped in and started to hit the rats with his wooden sword. He was using reinforcement but focusing on keeping the sword intact, there was no need to strengthen it and he kept his focus on speed instead of power until Rias launched a blast of destruction to his side. "Thanks!"
"FOCUS!" She was glad he helped but the problem was still in the thousands with more and more coming. She kept attacking and attacking but there were too many rats, Shirou was watching her back and getting any rat that was getting too close, she was planning to keep going until the numbers were manageable.
"RIAS! NORTH NOW!" Shirou called and she saw something that clicked the pieces on her brain, giant rats bigger than cars.
"SHIROU! GRAB MY BACK!" They needed to retreat. For a moment he looked confused "JUST DO IT!" The boy placed his arms around her necks and she unfolded her wings.
Aiming for the tunnel with most rats she charged. "YOU ARE NOT ESCAPING!" Another barrier showed up on that entrance but that was the plan, she turned and went faster to a tunnel on the side with fewer rats and unleashed her power on her hands to kill those there. "AFTER THEM!"
"KEEP GOING!" Shirou didn't need to tell her that but he let go with the arm that had the sword. "TRACE ON!" Then he started to supercharge the wood with mana.
Once he felt it was enough he threw it up, hitting the roof the tunnel started to go down from the impact breaking the stone and isolating them from the rats.
Rias kept going, stopping was too risky and now she really wished to have called for help. This was not a fight she can win alone, if she had her peerage then they could win easily… not. That was not an opponent that she could beat like that.
She lands but almost falls if Shirou hadn't grabbed her from her waist. "Are you okay?"
"Just... tired… not used… to fly with extra weight." She takes time to breathe only to notice the stench. "This is…" Please let it not be what she thinks it is.
"The sewer." But it was.
"Damn it." They pass a small whole and enter the sewer proper. "He is going to be chasing us."
"You know who he is?" At Shirou's question Rias lets out a sigh.
"Ever heard of the 'Hamelin's Flutist'?" That surprised Shirou.
"Is that guy-"
"No! But he was once a famous devil that had the skill to control rats, he used it to have hundreds of familiars in his Rating Games."
"'Rating Games'?" Rias covers her face with her hands.
"That is a lot to explain but it is where devils compete for prestige." Rias tries to make a magic circle but it fails. "He is blocking communications somehow."
"I suppose that makes this a boundary field. No sign here." Shirou's cell had no bars. "To be fair we are in a sewer now."
"Or he has the field covering that too." The frustration was apparent in her voice.
"Is he famous in these games?" Shirou starts walking, going to look for an alternative exit. Rias didn't move for a bit and Shirou stopped for her.
After using her magic for a bit she sighs and starts walking as well. "He was good ten years ago. Those that knew the story of the original gave him the name of 'Hamelin's Flutist' as an epithet and that boosted the fame for both him and his King's peerage. He was the strategist and an exceptional one at that, using his familiars, the terrain and barrier magic to great effect. He conquered win after win to the point he was considerably famous."
"So… what went wrong?"
"They lost… a higher class peerage beat them and that was the end of the myth." Rias then touches Shirou's shoulder, having him flinch. "You are hurt."
"Not really." He tried to move the arm but it was stiff. "I reinforced my muscles a bit too much but it was the best way to get us away." They get back to walking. "So they just lost and what? The guy flips?"
"Unfortunately that wasn't their only defeat, it just… all started to go downhill for them." Rias tries to remember but she fails. "I was just a child and don't remember all the details but he killed his king and then he was gone… I think." Rias checks out a corner and they both proceed. "He was a normal human, a magician, before becoming a devil. Without a sacred gear, either he needed to adapt or get left behind."
That was the truth about most competitions, there are adaptations and new techniques that get discovered. For a time or in the lowest tiers manipulating familiars can be devastating but the higher one goes the harder it is for the same tricks to work and rats are also not the strongest of familiars.
"If we had an open space I could end him easily." Rias decided.
"Could you?" Shirou had his doubts. "He managed to stop your strongest attack."
"Yes, but that makes no sense. The Power of Destruction may not be absolute but it makes no sense why it didn't work." Rias was frustrated and it showed. "I can even destroy energy, and I am sure I broke the barrier."
"You can destroy energy… that is it!" Rias put a hand on his mouth.
"Ssshhhh." They both look around. "They can be close." After a while she lets him go. "What you figured?"
"Your attack needs to pass by the energy so he would need to just keep replacing it." That made sense.
"Except that his energy is not infinite, it can't be." It was literally impossible for someone to just have infinite power like that.
"Then maybe-" Suddenly they heard steps, lots of steps and both runned and got closer to a wall to check a corner.
They were there, a huge rat with a squad of small rats. They were lucky that the smell was covering their scent but that was just a temporary measure, the reality is that with their numbers it is just a matter of time.
"I am happy I didn't eat my lunch today." That many rats, the smell of the sewer and of the stray's power, all of it was making Shirou dizzy.
"Emiya-kun, I will go and distract the rats. You have to find an exit and call for help." Rias said.
"What? Are you mad?" She shakes her head.
"We can't win as it is, we don't know the secret of his regeneration and we can't call for help." Rias places his hands on the sides of Shirou's face. "I have no intention of dying and once I kill enough rats I will get out too."
"Then let me help!" Shirou demanded but she was not having it.
"I am Rias Gremory, the Second Owner and protector of Fuyuki together with my fellow devils, this is my job not yours." She steps back and gives him a smile. "Besides, once you are out you can use the pamphlet I gave you to call for my peerage. Focus on the name 'Akeno' and say something you truly wish and she will appear."
"Greamory-san-" She gave him no time to question her taking flight. She kinda prefered when he called her Rias. "WAIT!"
There wasn't much space but she charged, leaving Shirou behind and attacking the giant rat. Once their leader was down the small ones tried to get her, making a tower of small bodies, now she was sure the stray was controlling them at a distance. She still is not sure how he was doing all that but he was.
Killing the small ones she advances, if the rats were being directly controlled then there was a chance the stray could see her using them and in that case she can both serve as a distraction for the other red head while trying to escape.
Finding another cluster of rats she didn't hesitate to incinerate them, moving through the sewer she is looking for an exit while killing any rat and making as much noise as possible.
Her movements were erratic and from time to time she tried to hit the roof to no effect, the boundary field going farther than she thought. That kept going for a few minutes until Rias got fed up with the rat assault, unleashed her power to get some space and picked a random direction.
One way or another she had no plans on dying in a- she hits something, hard. Falling on the ground she looked up, there was another barrier in front of her, this one practically exuding energy.
"No place to run now little Gremory." She turned around to the stray voice, it was coming from one of the giant rats with more of them showing up. "You were dead the moment you entered my territory, now you-"
She blasted that rat to oblivion. "I am not interested. If you want to kill me," Rias was ready to make her stand with all her power, "you better bring MORE!." With a roar she releases her power once again, the rats around her being destroyed. "Uff."
"You said more?" She shivered when the voice came again, more rats pouring in followed by their giant peers. "I have been in this town for years, taking my time, building my army! Before I could call hundreds of rats! NOW THEY ARE MILLIONS!"
Rias knew that wasn't an empty boast, she also knew that she had no choice but to fight. Charging her power once again she aimed at the giants, in her mind the most dangerous ones.
That was a mistake, the smaller ones rushed to her, their safety and any survival instinct removed by their master.
Rias only noticed them once they were already on her leg, scratching and biting insensately. She panics and begins to fly again with some trying to hold her. "GET AWAY FROM ME!"
Using the Power of Destruction on herself was stupid but she instintivale used fire instead, burning her leg a bit but getting rid of some rats for only one of the bigger ones to drop from the celling on her.
She didn't see when the claw hit her but the fear made her unleash another blast of power, this time her back was bleeding and she felt a lot of pain.
But there was no time to rest, more rats were coming and she had still one option left. "Millions you say? Then, by the time I am done, Fuyuki will be clear of rats."
The moment that Rias flew away Shirou bolted, not to look for an exit but to go back to the stray by the same path they escaped previously.
Shirou had no intentions of letting the girl risk her life alone, that was unacceptable but if she didn't want his help and he can't follow her since she can fly the best choice he could see was to take out the mastermind.
He reached the passage quickly and saw that it was still closed but that was fine, Shirou had a thing that many didn't have, his magecraft. "Trace on!" On his hand appeared a sword, it was a simple katana of his creation and it didn't have a name to be called by but it was enough.
It was just a copy, a fake but he was the maker of the original, that was his specialty as a magus. Where others focus on the path to the root Shirou just makes tools and because of his origin and element, both sword, much both his parents, the maids and even his sister's shock, his focus was on the way of the blade.
It was for that reason he practiced kendo, to approach himself more on how to use a sword to reach… something. He has no goal for his magecraft yet but he likes to make swords, to fix things and to help people, it was just his nature.
Channeling a little bit of mana on the blade he swung it to the rocks. It hits and they make a path, that was the sword's intent, to take rocks out of the way, simple but useful to help someone stuck or to enter where previously the rocks blocked his path.
The katana disappeared with him cutting the flux of mana completely and he ran, reinforcing his legs as much as he safely could.
Once he got back and saw the giant figure he also noticed that there were no more rats around. "Oh! The human is back! Did you abandon that pureblood?" The stray looked amused if anything else.
"Why are you here?" Shirou asked, getting closer with careful steps.
"'Here'? This is my home, I have been living here for years now, eating from the leyline below this school." The red head stopped on his tracks;
"There is a leyline below Homurahara?" The information shocked him.
"Yes there is! Such a lucky break to find this here!" The arms attempted to go up but they were barely moving until the stray gave up. "It is the perfect hiding! Using the mana of this small branch I survived as a stray! No one could find me and, once and a while I could send my rats to just get me a good meal!"
Shirou was only half listening to what the stray was saying, if there is a branch of a leyline below the academy and this guy has been 'eating' it... even with his minimal education he was sure that it was bad. "Is that why you are like this?" He moved a little closer.
"Yes, this form was maximal for my survival! Using the excess of mana I modified my body using the power of the evil piece that I still have!" Then the being started to let energy out again. "I raised my defenses and made this place my home! For the last ten years I lived like a king!"
"YOU CALL THAT LIVING?" Shirou couldn't believe that someone would do such a thing to himself.
"But of course! I have an army of loyal subjects! I eat what I want! I am a KING! Greater than that pureblooded bastard!" The hatred in his voice made obvious who he was speaking about.
"Your former master?"
"BAH! THAT IGNORAMUS! HE WAS THE REASON WHY WE LOST SO MANY MATCHES! AFTER OUR FIRST DEFEAT HE STARTED TO REJECT MY STRATEGIES! HE DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER IN TRYING TO IMPROVE OUR FIGHTING FORCE! ALWAYS COMPLAINING THAT WE HAD NO SACRED GEAR!" The rant then stopped and he started to laugh." But then I showed him! I SHOWED THEM ALL! MY STRATEGIES WERE ABSOLUTE! AND EVEN WITHOUT THOSE CURSED TOOLS FROM GOD I EASILY KILLED THAT PUREBLOOD BASTARD!"
"You killed him over a disagreement?" Shirou was starting to get angry.
"I KILLED HIM BECAUSE HE WAS AN IDIOT!" The smile on that face was as monstrous as the rest of the body. "JUST! LIKE! YOU!"
Two enormous rats came from the tunnels and charged at Shirou. The teenager barely had time to react when he jumped back to dodge one but the other managed to swipe and hit his side.
"After that girl showed up here I had to mutate some of my soldiers! They are not as small or versatile anymore but they are now powerful! I should have done this years ago!" The two rats strike at Shirou who dodges, he tries to retreat but they are chasing him.
For his first real fight he was fairing really well until one of the giant vermin hit him with its tail and his back hit a wall. The time it took for Shirou to recover his bearing was the time the rats directed themselves at him again.
"Oh! Looks like your little friend found an exit! BUT WAIT! I HAVE BARRIERS THERE! I HAVE ALREADY CLOSED ALL THE EXITS!"
The giant rats then stopped, Shirou used reinforcement to try and see why. When he failed he tried to force more mana on his eye, a risky endeavor but he needed all the information he could get.
While the stray spoke with, he supposed with Rias when he said 'Gremory', Shirou steadily increased the output of mana on his eye until he saw it. Whisper, almost fireflies made of mana going to the rats in a gray color.
Looking to the devil he could see that and a pure cyan going into him from above his head, he was seeing for the first time a small, not even the mais root, portion of the ley line below his school which was already just a small vertent of the main one beneath the city.
"...MILLIONS!" Once the speech was over the stray focused on Shirou. "Once I kill you I will take my time with that pureblood! One thing you can say about those bastards is that they produced fine specimens!"
Shirou got up and started tracing a new sword, the difference between tracing and projection is that he can make it closer to the original, with more substance, than any simple projection could have. They are still not 1 to 1 but since Shirou was working with both swords and he was their creator the difference was almost null.
Once again he pulls out a katana but where the rock mover had a brown handle this one is simple black with a little of gray. "WHY ARE YOU DOING ALL THIS?" If Shirou was honest he didn't want to fight.
"Because I can! Why else?" But with that answer his decision was made and the teen charged to meet the two rats.
The thing about this new sword is that it was the sharpest one that Shirou ever made, the result of his training and practice on forging metal using magecraft to improve the material while hammering away any impurity.
The rats didn't have a chance, their size just made them bigger targets. Shirou cuts the side of one and once the other tried to crush him with its arm Shirou cut it off followed by cutting the pest head.
"Tch. A magus instead of a magician but a fighting one at that! Funny how that is supposed to be rare yet two invade my home one week apart from each other!" Shirou was not interested in anything the monster was saying at that point, he was done with all this and ready to just finish this fight.
The stray just chuckles and lets out his energy once again, all condensing around him, Shirou could see that but he had no choice, this was his best sword and he was reinforcing it to the max.
With an overhead swing abandoning all defense Shirou's swords clashed against the barrier.
It stopped, the energy not even being disturbed.
"You know there is this funny story of a invencible sword against an invincible shield. I always hated that story." The devil was talking but Shirou just kept swinging. "The whole idea is that, since they were equal, mutual destruction was their fate and it would be a tie."
Shirou jumps back. "Trace on!" He uses his aria to channel more mana and trace kitchen knives, four of them on his free hand and he throws them without missing a bit.
Even if their appearance was non conspicuous they were also his creations, tools of utility to help in the kitchen of all things. "Why is it a tie?" The devil didn't care for what Shirou was doing. "The shield did its job! It stopped the killing blow!"
Shirou threw the knives, the small weapons catching fire mid flight. Usually they were used to lit the stove without matches or electricity but by using more mana he managed to turn them into fireballs.
"It is almost like people forget that the guy with the shield can have a weapon of his own!" The impact of the fireballs didn't make the devil even flinch. "That is why I hate that analogy. But it gave me an idea: What if the shield didn't break? Or better yet, it got fixed?"
Once the fire stopped with just the small blazes around the shield the stray just stood there, in the same position. Shirou was starting to lose his patience and launched himself again.
"So here I am with a shield that doesn't matter how many times you break I can just make it again!" Once he said it Shirou noticed how the barrier 'moved' with every impact. It was not absorbing the blows, just countering with enough energy to nullify them.
This time Shirou didn't retreat, he was racing against time to save Rias. Channeling more mana he called forth another of his creations, a huge two handed sword, bigger than his arm.
Its european design was both for experimentation and praticity. It was the first sword that ran away from the japanese standard he grew used to trying and practicing but he wanted to branch out.
But the real feature of it, the other reason for the design, was to make it easy to stick it to the ground, right outside the barrier in this case, and unleash electricity.
Using his mana Shirou empowers the sword and directs the energy to the stray and once again the barrier holds and unlike the Power of Destruction the electricity travels around failing in destroying the barrier.
But it was exerting pressure, the notion that his opponent had unlimited energy being completely discarded. Shirou could see it only as impossible and tried another route, instead of the battering ram of absolute power he used a steadier and incremental approach.
"What are you? You use projections but every single one of them is different and each carries power of their own." Shirou was ignoring the comments, focusing only on the task at hand. "Oh, that's so cute! You are trying to make me run out of energy!" The output of power started to increase to the devil. "FOOL!"
He ended up flying back, only the reinforcement of his body saved his life but he was still in a great degree of pain, only his will to keep him going.
The smell was there, and stronger than ever. Forcing his eyes to the limit one more time he could see whispers of energy running around the cave and then back to the devil. "You- How? You are absorbing your own energy?"
"Bah! I wish it was that easy!" The stray tried to move its arms again only to fail. "I may be stuck on this form but this is the best place to be!"
'The best place to be…' That clicked on Shirou's mind, unlocking a memory from when he was starting to learn magecraft.
"There are two types of ley lines." His mother explained to him once with a book in hand. "Those made on nature and those made on actions. The first comes to be because of the flux of mana of the world. Like you the world also has circuits to circulate its own mana."
She made a crude drawing of a ball with lines in it. "Mom, that is ugly." Illya was there too, passing through the kitchen where the lesson was being held. "Here, let me!" His older sister was the most talented of them both in many aspects… but her drawing was worse than their mother's.
"I think I got it… so the world also has magic circuits right?" His ten year old mind registered the information.
"Yes!" Both, woman and girl, affirmed. The older of two then continued. "Those are just natural but new ones can also be created. Like a human that can have implants of external circuits to improve their magic capabilities the world also gains circuits when events happen or important constructions are made by anyone if those buildings or places have meaning and a strong influence."
"Forgive my rudeness Irisviel-sama," Sella intrudes in the lesson, "the important thing is that once we get your forge ready we need to place it in a good position for the ley line. Fuyuki has the second biggest one in Japan and if you want success in your experiments you need them to happen in the best place to be."
'That is it!' Shirou figured out the trick. The guy was using his position to absorb the mana of the ley line, even if it wasn't the main vein it was still enough to empower him. He was acting like a living workshop.
But that shouldn't be possible… except that he is using his own energy to absorb the land's… "You are a plague!" Shirou declared. "You are infecting the ley line with your own power to devour it! You are the reason why Homurahara has been struggling more than it should."
The bolts of bad luck, the broken structure, it was all symptomatic. The ley line did more than just circulate mana for those who could use it, it brought good fortune, helped in prosperity and even wards off bad omens. Maybe the school would still be in decline but not on the level that it was now.
"Oh~ You figured it out!" The stray tried to clap his hands but he couldn't. "You are right! I AM USING MY OWN ENERGY TO EASY THE PROCESS! THE EXCESS OF MANA MAY HAVE CHANGED MY FORM! BUT IT MADE ME INVENCIBLE!" The barrier got stronger and more visible as more mana was used. "NO ONE CAN TOUCH ME NOW! AND EVEN IF THEY DO I CAN REGENERATE THANKS TO THE MANA THAT I ALREADY ACCUMULATED! I REACH THE POWER OF THAT PHENEX BASTARDS! NO ONE CAN COMPETE WITH THE POWER OF A WHOLE CITY WORTHY OF MANA!"
He was right but that didn't mean that Shirou wasn't going to try. This being is a poison infecting the city for who knows how long and the redhead was going to put a stop to it.
"Calm down! You are in a hurry but don't just rush." Shirou told himself after hitting the sides of his face with his palms. "Do what you always did. Pick apart a problem and find a way to win."
That is how he goes to make his swords, to fight on kendo and now that he is going to bet everything on a life or death brawl, Shirou needs to remain calm.
"TRACE ON!" He could feel the mana passing by his circuits. It was starting to get hot and now it was going to get even hotter. "I WON'T LET YOU RUIN MY HOME!"
"COME MAGUS!" The devil roared in challenge, his barrier growing stronger. Shirou manifested two of his swords and ran to attack. "Heh, he never learns."
The confidence of the devil was not undeserved, his wall managed to contest and win against the mighty Power of Destruction from the Bael and even if his opponent passed there was no way a human magus would have enough firepower to kill him before he regenerated.
A pity for him that he wasn't the target. Two swords showed up in Shirou's hands and once he got close to the barrier he made a turn and started to race around circling his opponent while pumping the swords with more and more mana.
The two swords touched the ground and the result shocked the stray. "WHAT IS GOING ON?" He could complain but not react.
To keep absorbing the ley lines the stray couldn't just move and his body ended transforming, adapting to his nutrition and the fact that mana accelerated any mutations. Truly this form was more efficient to survive such a lifestyle.
But the weakness is the same as any magus workshop, from the most studious magus to the most powerful spellcasters if something happens that they can't use the ley line properly everything gets one hundred times harde.
Shirou couldn't move the monster but he could break the place where he was standing, the rocks breaking apart with the floor getting more and more uneven.
"STOOOOOOOP IIIIIIIT!" The stray demands and tries to unleash his power once again but the ground is already too unstable and he ends up moving, just a few centimeters, enough that his barrier breaks. "NONONONONONONONO!"
The ground gives in and both combatants start to fall to a deeper level. Shirou undoes one of his swords to fish something from his pocket. A piece of paper with the Gremory symbol on it. "RIAS GREMORY! I HAVE A WISH!"
Deep in the sewer, still fighting a horde of rats Rias feels a pull, the familiar connection between her and one of her pamphlets. She is exhausted, bleeding and charging the last of her power on a grand attack of desperation but the pull came just before she did.
There was no hesitation, this was her salvation. There wasn't ill intent and there was a wish to be done, with that her instincts took over and she let herself be summoned right above the massive stray.
Then the wish came. "UNLEASH ALL YOUR POWER! DESTROY THE STRAY!"
Shirou was just a bit above her but he was mostly safe if one doesn't count the fall to a lower level of the sewers, it was still better than the stray's position, below a very pissed off woman with a mass of destruction on her hands.
"DISAPPEAR!" Rias Gremory lets out the strongest blast of the day while using the rest of her strength to grab Shirou.
The once called 'Hamelin Flutist' could only scream and despair, destruction itself had come and it started to wipe out his body from existence completely. He tried to stop it, to make a barrier but there was no contest this time.
Without the support he had before his protection lasted less than a second, without the ley line there would be no regeneration this time. Even if the attack didn't connect he spent so much time connected to the ley line that the separation already meant death.
His body was just a mass of mana and flesh that his corrupted soul refused to leave and now he was going to die...There was only hate in his final moments.
Hate for the master who blamed him, for the Phenex he couldn't defeat, for the Gremory and for the human magus… "In the end… I never knew your name… BUT I CURSE YOU FROM THE DEEPS OF HELL MAGUS!"
There was nothing left of the 'Hamelin's Flutist' and even his name won't be remembered.
Rias managed to catch Shirou and bring the both of them to a stable place on the main floor. She was running on fumes by that point but still had enough to ask." Did you really just summoned me for an attack? How did you know it was going to work?"
Both were laying on the ground close to the hole where the fight had ended. "I didn't." Was the answer.
"You… didn't?" She lifts her head for a bit to look at Shirou but he just shrugs.
"I had no way to win against the guy. So I called someone who did or could." Both of them are exhausted and wounded, Shirou had put a lot on his attacks, every muscle of his hurt while Rias was still bleeding quite a bit. That didn't stop her from laughing.
"HAHAHAHAHAHA! You are funny Emiya-... no Shirou-kun! I like that! I really like that!" She tried to move but the exhaustion caught up with her now that she relaxed.
"You are hurt."
"That is obvious! Don't worry about it, we devils can survive a lot. I just need some rest."
"Gremory-san… is kind difi-"
"Rias!" She interrupted him immediately.
"Call me Rias! We fought together and we bled together! I think that made us at least friends." She had a smile while she said that and Shirou couldn't help but see beauty in it.
"Fine… Rias-san-" She interrupts him again.
"Just Rias! Let the formality go already!"
"Rias…" Seeing she wasn't stopping him this time he continued. "I find it difficult to believe that anyone can shrug off your wounds."
"You are the one here who is human, remember?" Rias couldn't help but say.
"BOOOOOOOOSSSSSS!" Batchan comes from the entrance. "BOSS! BOSS! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"
"Oh! Batchan! I almost forgot you were there!" Rias was happy to see her familiar again.
"WHAT HAPPENED? A MINUTE THERE WAS NO BARRIER! THE NEXT THERE IS A BARRIER! NOW IT IS GONE AND YOU ARE LIKE THIS!"
"Calm down already you silly goof…" Rias lets out a sigh. "Just give me a minute to recover a bit then I will call for Akeno and we can go home. Huf. The report of this is going to be a pain, not even counting that the former Second Owner let a stray live here for almost a decade at least."
"You just need to recover a bit?" Shirou asked. "You were bitten by rats!"
"Yes and I wanted to forget that! Believe it or not, devils can take a lot of damage and most diseases won't affect me, just let me rest a bit and once I can move I will call for help… that can take a few minutes… an hour at most." He didn't know anything about devil physiology but if she was bleeding then Shirou was worried.
"You know what. I think I still have something on me." He tried to call his mana but his body was too sluggish, the magus needed to dig a bit deeper. "Uff… I am the bone of my sword."
Rias and her familiar shivered, the words had power beneath them but it was unlike anything she heard before. On the magus' hands something started to form and Rias could tell that it was not just projection.
It was a scalpel, the kind that would be used for a surgery. Small, simple and just a piece of steal- no, her instincts could tell that it was more. Maybe not anything grand but still it was something… different.
"What is that? And what were those words?" Rias stared at the scalpel while Shirou did something she found insane. He stabbed his own leg. "Are you nuts?" But then she saw it.
"Some of his wounds are healing!" Batchan voiced her thoughts.
It was not a great change or a fast healing, it was slow and the pace wasn't anything to brag about but still… it was better than the devils had by a good margin.
"This is tracing my own brand of projection. I can create anything that I have the blueprint memorized. And this," he raises the tool for her to see, "EM."
"E… M?" Both devil and familiar tilt their heads.
"Short for Emergency Medic." He moves closer to her and points the blade at her leg. "May I?"
"Hum." She nods and he stabs her leg. Difference in how he did it for himself, he starts to pour a lot of mana on the blade and her wounds start to heal faster than his. "Hey! Stop!" She takes his hand off. "Are you mad using that much mana?"
"Your wounds? Are they all gone?" That snapped Rias out of her anger.
"Oh! They are… that is amazing but," there was no doubt in her mind, his condition got worse, "you healed me almost completely but now you are almost dead."
"Yes, I can still feel my muscles hurting and I didn't recover any of the blood I lost." She then picks the small item. "Still that is amazing." In the next second she stabs Shirou with it, hard.
"Now listen here SHI-ROU-KUN!" The woman was mad. "While the concern is appreciated, don't you dare to risk your health for me like that, okay?" For the first time it dawned on him that she was truly a devil.
"Good. By the way, how are your wounds?" It was then he noted that Rias had sent her own mana to help him. When she took out the blade it was obvious that she was tired as hell but looked at the object in her hands with wonder. "This is fascinating. You said you had the blueprints right? Did you make this?"
As expected since Rias didn't hesitate pumping mana to close all the wounds he took. "Yes, first I forged the original. It is in my workshop together with the others."
"There is more?" Rias' voice was from a person that was pleasantly surprised. "That is amazing! You must be a really talented magus!" He made EM disappear
"Nah." Shirou denied immediately. "It was just something to fix my own shortcomings. Afterall I can't use conventional magecraft." He then checks his pockets. "Where is the pamphlet?"
"I have no idea… Do you think it got destroyed?" They both look at the whole.
"Do you have another?"
"Not today. I admit I expected trouble so I didn't bother bringing more than that one to give to the magus in case the clue paid off." Rias gets up and Shirou turns around, fishing for something from his pocket.
It was his phone, the screen was cracked in half and it was not working. "Do you have a phone on you… my got destroyed."
"Yes, that is common in fights. I did say I brought nothing else right?" With some effort Rias started to make her way out but she stopped, feeling some pain.
"Here." Shirou steps to her side and places an arm over his shoulder. "Let me help."
"What? Want to carry the princess after the victory?" Rias was teasing him but he could barely see anymore. He didn't have enough mana to keep his eyes enhanced.
"More like you just need some help."
"Boss… Should I go call for the others?" Batchan asked. Shirou almost admitted he forgot the small thing was there.
"Yes please. Bring them to the door of the cave. If someone is already in the clubhouse, have them here immediately."
"Roger!" The little thing flew away.
"Yes. We devils go to school too you know?" Rias was smiling but she noticed that Shirou couldn't see that. "Do you want to be one?"
"One what?" He didn't understand.
"A devil." It looked like a simple question, it was anything but. "You have talent and a lot of skills, the only thing holding you back is your human body. If you become a devil, using magic will be second nature to you."
Then Rias got on a long sales pitch telling Shirou all the benefits of being a devil, the longer life, the power, the prestige. After that she told him the benefits of becoming a devil for her, the value of his skills and how much the Gremory house would be willing to pay along with lots of benefits.
"No thanks. I don't want to be a devil." He would have shrugged but he was both helping someone and his muscles hurt. "I am fine being human. Nothing against those that become devils but I just have no reason to."
"But-but- You must have a dream right? Or a wish?" She didn't sound desperate but definitely sounded confused. "Tell me what it is and I will help you!"
For a solid minute Shirou stayed quiet, thinking. He never told anyone his dream did he? He never bothered. Once they were out of the cave they both looked up, it was a full moon tonight.
"It is silly." He admitted.
"Doesn't matter. Tell me and I will make it come true." She insisted.
"I.." It is there, under the gaze of the moon he takes out her arm and looks at her. "I dream of a world where everyone can smile."
Silence, just silence was her answer. The devil, Rias Gremory, was without words.
"You see… my dad, he saved my life once, I remember that memory clearly, he had the most peaceful smile, so simple and yet so beautiful. I couldn't help but ask, 'could I smile like that?'... I learned magecraft because I could help my sister with her stuff, not that she needed it. But I still can make things that others can use. A sword to clean boulders and save people, a medical tool that can heal the wounded, I even figured out how to make one to generate electricity."
Their eyes were still in the same place but Shirou had just one more thing to say.
"I enjoy helping people and what I want is to see everyone smile."
Rias… in that moment she knew that Shirou's dream was impossible, on so many levels and in so many ways that it was not even a joke. "But… you are living only for others… that is awful."
"Maybe." There was no regret in his voice. "But it is my choice."
"You are insane." She said but then she started to laugh. "Completely and utterly INSANE!"
There was no malice in that laugh, it was sincere, melodic and expected for Shirou.
"Fine." She says once she controls herself.
"Fine! I shall make your wish come true, one way or another. You don't need to be a devil for this and you saved my life so I owe you one anyway."
"Hey! I didn't save you for a favor!" That annoyed Shirou but Rias just laughed more.
"Don't you want to bring smiles to people?" With that question Shirou nods. "Then let me do this, it is what makes me smile." She made a point to point to her mouth to show her smile.
"BUCHOU!" Shirou turns around and sees a blond boy with a beauty mark under his eye, blue eyes and dressed in a suit running towards them with a sword on his hip, for a second Shirou's eyes land on the weapon and he gets the full story behind it.
'Holy Eraser' was its name and its creator and owner was…"Kiba, slow down."
"Batchan told me you fought a stray and almost died." He was in full panic.
"She exaggerated, I am fine!" She tried to calm him down.
"You have no wounds but your uniform tells me otherwise." It was only when the blonde said that Shirou noticed Rias' state of dress, his face turned red and he turned around completely.
"That is no trouble Kiba-kun- Ah! Let me introduce you to Emiya Shirou-kun here. He has some skills that you must see." When she sees his back she asks. "Shirou? Something wrong?"
"Well… your clothes..." He was trying to be subtle.
"What?" She looks to herself. "It is just a little skin."
"Buchou, I recommend we take you for a check up. The nurse needs to know what happened." Distressed, the blond approaches but Rias is calm about everything and still wants to tease Shirou.
"Don't worry Kiba. Shirou-kun here took care of all my wounds." She holds his arm making him go redder. "Isn't that right?"
Shirou took a deep breath, he learned that if he gave in then there would be no stopping. "Yes I did. But she was bitten and scratched by rats." Best strategy is to throw the other party under the bus.
"WHAT? BUCHOU THIS IS SERIOUS! WE MUST GO!"
"Fine… I need to burn these clothes anyway." A sentiment that Shirou couldn't help but agree with. He looked to the moon and realized something.
"Excuse me Kiba-san but… what time is it?" Kiba pulls out his phone.
"Little past midnight."
At the new information Shirou's brain started to compute what happened. His phone broke, he fought a devil and he was late… really late. "I barely graduated to highschool and my sister is going to kill me."
Kiba is confused by the comment, Rias just laughs more and slaps her fellow redhead on the back. "Welcome, to the first day of the rest of your life."