Chapter 2: Back into the Fire.
The Ashen one charged forward as the two opposing servants did so as well, his eyes briefly flickered to the woman before back to the Assassin.
Assassin. The title came to him. It made sense, in some capacity, one who specialises in killing humans. Then again, his head was currently filled with all sorts of information that he would need time to sort through.
Namely why he accredited the title of 'Saber' to himself when he was summoned. It had felt right at the time. As if something had been compelling him to answer. Not that it mattered much right now.
He had things to kill.
The woman shot down towards him from the building like an arrow, thrusting her spear forwards to skewer him. Saber raised his left hand towards her, still paying attention to the skull masked individual before he set off a pyromancy.
The woman clicked her tongue as the explosion rushed towards her, flicking her hair out to the side as chains spawned forth, latching themselves onto a nearby lamppost and dragging her to safety.
Assassin leapt into the air, throwing several dirks towards Saber, the swordsman raised his forearm in front of his helmeted face, two of the knives buried themselves into his gauntlet, although he paid it no mind as he continued his charge. Skidding to a halt and pulling his leg back, Saber kicked with all his might at the large piece of debris in front of him towards Assassin.
The lump of rock shot through the air like a cannon towards the servant, he let out a click of his tongue, manoeuvring his body into a corkscrew spin and allowing the projectile to fly just underneath him. As he spun he flicked out his left arm again, several more dirks shot forth towards Saber.
The Unkindled one rolled to the side as they embedded themselves in the street before he shot back to his feet, kicking off the ground with enough force to shatter the concrete beneath him and let out a small boom. Clearing the distance between the two servants in an instant.
Assassin, far from being surprised, looked as though he had expected the sudden shift in speed. As he came back down to the ground, he saw Saber thrusting his black greatsword towards his head. Assassin grinned behind his mask as he flicked out a dirk into his hand, tilting his head to the side so the blade sailed just past his eyes. Saber turned his body to perform a shoulder bash.
Assassin merely held his dirk in a reverse grip and positioned it so it stabbed into the Sabers side, directly in-between the armour plates and where the vital organs were. He could probably take the shoulder bash, but Saber would be in worse shape than him when the knife struck true.
The Saber's shoulder slammed into his chest, Assassin felt the air forced from his lungs as he shot across the street and slammed into the wreckage of a car, metal shrieked as it caved inwards to accommodate his shape. It hurt, but then he saw the hilt of his dirk stuck in the underside of Saber's arm.
The small knife had slipped under the armour, just into his armpit, the hand having wormed its way there while Saber's arm had been outstretched. There was no doubt that the knife had pierced his heart.
Saber's head trailed over to him, without even glancing towards the injury, the Saber moved his free hand to grip the dirk and rip it out of his body. Flinging it away before he advanced on the Assassin.
Hassan would have gaped, then he clicked his tongue "Battle continuation…" he affirmed and it would have to be a high ranked one in order to continue to function while sporting an injury to his spirit core like that. He jumped over the car as Saber charged forth again, the armoured servant slammed into the wreck where he had been moments ago as Hassan flipped through the air and landed behind on the opposite side of the vehicle.
Saber raised his boot and kicked the car in response, sending the wreckage skidding across the pavement and towards Assassin, the Servant jumped over the car and into the air, the wall he had been standing in front of was obliterated when the remains of the vehicle crashed into it.
The Ashen one scowled behind his helmet. He hated enemies like this, the Assassin was clearly agile and used his speed and throwing knives to run interference. It was, admittedly, a clever tactic to use and something he himself had done in the past. That did not make it any less vexing to be on the receiving end though.
The Shielder servant stumbled back as Lancer continued her assault, violently thrust her curved spear against the shield at different angles, each one trying to knock the shield to one side or another and expose the girl and the masters hiding behind her.
"What's wrong?" Lancer mocked "You don't seem to be attacking me? Is defence really all you can do?" She punctuated her sentence with another thrust into the shield, then hooked her spear around the side of the implement and wretched it to the side, exposing Mash's torso armour.
Lancer smirked before she struck forwards, tilting the spear and slamming the pole into the Shielder's chest, Mash let out a gasp as she was forced back, soon responding with a punch aimed at the Lancer.
The woman ducked under the blow and cartwheeled away from the servant, getting back to her feet and giving Mash a mocking grin "Ah, I see...you're rather new to being a Servant, aren't you?"
Mash's subtle flinch all but confirmed it "Yes, I can see it now." Lancer went on, twirling her spear in her hands as she idly paced about in front of the pair "That Saber over there is the actual threat, you by yourself are rather pitiful, aren't you?" pausing, she slowly sported a sly grin "Perhaps he's realised you're dead weight and has merely abandoned you to die…"
"That's not-!" Mash exclaimed only to widen her eyes in alarm as Lancer instantly charged her in a burst of speed, Mash raised her shield just in time to block a drop kick from the woman, Mash let out a cry of exertion as she pushed back, throwing the angle of her shield up and sending the Lancer into the air.
The purple haired woman scowled as she flipped while flying before landing gracefully onto the ground, her mocking grin now having turned into a slight scowl. "So, you have some bark, little mouse." she cracked a grin "I suppose that fierce expression you have will look all the sweeter when I-" she cut herself off as she watched Mash's eyes slowly widen in surprise and look over her shoulder.
Time slowed down for the Lancer as the hairs on the back of her neck prickled upwards, shooting a glance over her shoulder towards the sensation.
Only to catch a street lamp to the face.
The blow knocked the Lancer off her feet and sent her hurtling through the air before she crashed into the ground, Saber dropped the metal lamp he had awkwardly been holding with his free hand before turning back around to face the Assassin.
The Onyx blade blurred as he blocked the dirks aimed towards him and jumped backwards to stand next to Mash and in front of the Masters. "The Assassin matches me in speed but he's more agile." he looked over to where Lancer was pushing herself up and out of the crater in the ground "How would you rate her?"
"She's quick." Ritsuka replied back instantly, still stricken by the display "But, I don't think she can take a direct hit...and she might not be stronger than Mash."
"Good." Saber nodded "The assassin is unskilled in direct combat, I will deal with the Lancer while you protect our summoner."
"Yes, Saber-san!" Mash nodded her head, her eyes fierce with determination. Saber turned his body to face the Lancer as she returned to her feet, glaring at him, her eyes glowed and Saber felt his body lurch.
His eyes trailed down to his gauntlet…
And the flakes of stone slowly formed over his armoured fist "Petrification!" Saber called out as he leapt at the Lancer, throwing a fireball towards her as she broke eye contact with him. He felt whatever had been constricting his body lessened considerably.
"Mystic eyes of petrification?" Olga breathed out in alarm, then stared in the direction of the Lancer in realisation "She's Medusa!"
That was a name that Ritsuka knew well enough, snapping his head to her in shock and then then over to the area where she and Saber were currently fighting. Mash appeared by the pair's side, raising her shield up as she deflected several knives that had been thrown towards them.
Assassin clicked his tongue as he jumped through the air, landing on the side of the nearby building and then kicking off of it, shooting through the air and throwing more dirks towards the pair.
Mash grit her teeth as she moved to block the continued assault, narrowing her eyes before casting a nervous glance behind herself towards her Master and the Director. If she tried to attack, Assassin would probably shoot past her and get to them, but defending from him would ultimately end in a stalemate.
It was an unfortunate situation for her.
Ash parried the lance upwards, throwing his fist forwards in a punch, Medusa ducked under the blow, crouching low and spinning around with her leg to strike the back of Saber's knee. The servant dropped down as Medusa's boot made contact.
However, his fist ignited in fire before he slammed it into the ground between them. A trail of black fire soon sprouted forth, snaking along the pavement as it shot towards the Lancer, the woman widened her eyes in alarm and kicked herself away from the Saber servant, the black fire soon sputtering out after a few metres.
"What manner of Saber fights with magic?"
"If one has it, why not make use of it?" The Unkindled replied with a grunt and a shrug "Much like your peculiar talent...although you do not look like a basilisk."
That was apparently the wrong thing to say as her eyes suddenly shrunk to pin pricks, then disappeared in a blur of movement. Saber widened his eyes behind his helm, spinning around and raising his sword to block the lance that would have gone through his head had he been any slower.
The woman's eyes glowed as they locked onto his own. Saber felt his body turn sluggish as whatever petrification she was attempting to use on him slowly began to take form. The Ashen one clicked his tongue, his left hand lashed out and gripped the pole of the Lance, retching it to the side.
Then his head slammed forwards, his metal helm smashing into her face causing a satisfying crunch to echo out as he broke Medusa's nose. The woman let out a cry of pain as she stumbled back.
Saber raised his boot and kicked, the armoured heel burying itself in her gut and sending her shooting away from him like a rocket.
Assassin heard the hit and snapped his head to the side just in time to see Lancer shoot past him and crash through a wall. He clicked his tongue. This situation was no longer advantageous, they would need to flee and try again.
He slid to a halt, turning his body and jumping out into the air to get away.
"Abandoning your comrades in their hour of need?" A calm voice spoke out, Assassin widened his eyes in alarm as he caught sight of a figure standing atop the building in front of him.
The figure waved their hand in front of them, a dozen burning runes formed in front of the man and illuminated his features. Dressed in blue robes and looking like a druid, in his hand he held a large ornamental staff. His hood covered his face, although the reds of his eyes could be seen as they reflected the flames.
"Not very sporting if you ask me." Caster quipped, then flicked his wrist, sending the runes shooting towards Assassin. The servant had barely a moment to contemplate the unexpected outcome before his body was consumed in a ball of fire.
Saber craned his head up at the sound of the explosion, just in time to watch the limp burning form of assassin plummet to the ground before dissipating into motes of light.
Mash was also staring up with a degree of concern, turning her body to face the new arrival when Ritsuka called out to her.
"Mash! Behind!" Heeding the commands of her Master, the girl spun around and swung her shield directly behind her. She could see Medusa's eyes widen in alarm just before the edge of her shield cracked against the side of her head.
The Lancer was sent stumbling away from them as she tried to reorientate herself.
"Not so fast there!" Caster's voice called out as he jumped down from where he was. Landing a few metres away from the Lancer. Medusa narrowed her eyes at him.
"Caster!" She venomously spat out the title like an insult "What are you doing here!? Why would you help them?"
"Isn't that obvious?" The man shrugged, "It's better than helping you." Lancer growled twirling her lance in her hand as she made herself ready to charge the Caster.
'What a fool.' She gleefully thought 'Attempting to engage a Lancer at close range, he would have been better off as a Sa-' too late, she realised her blunder.
She had forgotten about Saber, something Caster hadn't as she now noticed his eyes weren't actually on her, but something just behind her. She attempted to turn her body to face the sudden arrival.
She was barely able to turn her heels before she felt the cold bite of steel press into her neck. Never seeing the face of the person who killed her.
Lancer's head was removed from her neck, her body slumping to the ground as the head rolled away from them.
Ritsuka was staring at the remains with wide eyes and a somewhat pale complexion as Lancer's form faded away into a cloud light.
"Surprised you were going to do that." Caster nodded to the Saber "Thought you might have been one of those 'I want to look my enemy in the eye' kind of swordsmen."
"Considering her eyes attempted to petrify me, that would have been a fairly stupid move on my part." Saber responded, earning a bark of laughter from Caster "Now, are you friend or foe?"
Caster gave him a carefree smile before his eyes fell onto the two humans next to them, Mash stepped in front of Ritsuka and Olga while sending an anxious glance towards the new servant.
"You guys are the first humans I've seen around here for a while." Caster admitted "Not to mention the girl there is a type of Servant I've never seen before." Then he turned his inquisitive gaze onto Saber. "And I know for a fact that my teacher would never let one of you guys past her."
Saber cocked his head to the side in confusion "Are you speaking of my unkindled nature?"
"Is that what they call undead now?" Caster frowned in thought, raising his free hand to pull his hood back. Revealing a long blue ponytail, red eyes and a somewhat youthful face, likely no older than his twenties. "Suppose it doesn't matter too much." he looked Saber up and down "You don't seem too bad a guy and technically I'm dead too so." he shrugged "Not much to think about."
Saber stared at him, his helmet hiding his blank expression "I see." he responded with after a few moments "Friend then?"
"Yeah." Caster nodded his head, relaxing his posture "Friend."
"What!?" Olga virtually exclaimed in shock "He's a stray servant!? You can't just trust him that quickly!"
Caster looked at Olga with a blank expression, then turned back to look at Saber, the two stared at each other for a few moments before they replied at the exact same time.
"He seems like a decent person."
"Honestly!" Olga growled, then turned to Ritsuka "He's your servant! Say something!"
Ritsuka wasn't paying attention to her, still staring at the spot where Medusa had been killed with an almost haunted expression.
"Oh, I see how it is." Caster nodded his head with a frown, then stepped towards the Master, Mash made to move in front of him when Caster held up his hands in a surrendering like gesture "Easy lass, just going to shake him out of it."
Mash looked hesitant, sending a glance towards Saber. The servant nodded his head, seemingly giving permission for the Caster to make the attempt.
Mash relented and allowed the man to pass, he stood just to the side of Ritsuka.
Then pulled back his middle finger with his thumb and flicked the boy in the side of the head. Ritsuka recoiled at the sudden impact and turned to see Caster staring at him with a blank expression "First time seeing someone die?"
"H-huh?" Ritsuka swallowed "Y-yeah...Not really...um…"
"Hm." Caster nodded his head "Well, I can only tell you to man up and push through it." the servant shrugged, throwing a thumb over at the servants behind him "Those two are gonna be in deep shit if you keep freezing up like a newborn every time you see a drop of blood."
"R-right…" Ritsuka nodded slowly, "S-sorry."
"Feh." Caster shrugged, "Just work on it." he spun around to face the others "So! Who are all of you?"
"Saber." The Ashen one introduced himself.
"Got a name?"
"Alright then." Caster nodded, then turned to Mash, giving her a wide smile and leaning in "And you, lass?"
"Eh…?" Mash blinked "Um...Mash Kyrielight."
"Oh? Very nice name you got there." He nodded, then looked her up and down. "Not a true name though is it...You don't feel like a full servant to me."
"I'm a Demi-Servant."
"...No idea what that is but I'll assume it's like being a Demi-God or something." Caster dismissed, then turned to Olga "And you?"
"I am Director Olga Marie Animus-"
"Got it. I'm calling you Anemone."
"You know, like the flower." Caster grinned at her "Thank the grail for knowledge on that kind of stuff. Wildflower, it's white. And you've got a pretty wild temperament there girl."
"Anyway." Caster cut her off "I'd advise all of us to get somewhere not in the open. With all the fighting we were doing around here, we're liable to attract the attention of a certain prick I'd rather not face right now…" he paused "Or berserker will come lumbering up here."
"There are more servants?" Olga widened her eyes in alarm, Caster scratched the back of his neck.
"Three, although I'm one of them." The man explained "We can do it later." he threw a thumb over his shoulder. "Best to follow me."
"You think we're stupid enough to-"
"Alright." Ritsuka nodded his head "Come on Mash." then walked after the Caster, leaving Olga gaping at him in shock.
"Coming, senpai!" Mash followed after him, Saber watched as the trio walked past him, then looked at Olga. The woman still gaping like a fish before scowling and marching after them.
Saber stared blankly at the retreating figure of the individuals before he shrugged his shoulders and followed after them. He could probably do with some information anyway.
The group soon found themselves before a building, Caster had described it as a school before everything, in his own words 'went to shit'. Something that he had promised to explain better once they had hidden themselves away.
"Right." Caster sat down on a table in the ruined classroom "So, what brings the living-" he stopped when he stared at Saber "-the mostly living to this place?"
"One moment." Olga raised her hand, turning to Ritsuka "Get Romani back up here."
"R-right." Ritsuka nodded his head, then stared at the communicator on his wrist before looking back at the director with a sheepish expression "How do I do that again?"
Olga's eye twitched as she began to explain the basic principle to him. Caster watched them with an amused expression before he turned his head to Saber, the servant leaning against a wall near him with his arms crossed "So...where are you from?"
"Huh...never heard of it."
"You too?" Saber hummed in surprise "How odd. I've never known a summoning to take me to an unknown land before."
"Really?" Caster blinked "Shouldn't the grail have filled your head with all the important stuff?"
"I know I am apparently a Saber." The Ashen one shrugged "I have minor knowledge about other classes and what they usually entail. However, that is it. I actually have no idea what is happening right now."
"You don't sound too worried about that."
Saber let out a chuckle "Wouldn't be the first time. Although this is one of the longest times I have been summoned before."
"Really? You die that quickly?"
"No." Saber shook his head "But summoning between worlds can't be maintained for long. Once the heir to fire is deceased my link with the world disappears and I return to my original world."
"Excuse me!?" Olga nearly screamed in shock, Caster winced at the volume and Saber cringed "What did you just say?"
"Oi, oi!" Caster frowned at her "Try and keep it down, we're meant to be keeping a low profile here."
"Forget that." Olga dismissed him, eyes still fixated on Saber "What did you say just now?"
"Fujimaru!" Romani's voice came through "I'm relieved to see you got through that-"
"Is summoning between worlds odd to all of you?" Saber asked in an innocent tone of voice. Romani was cut off, his face turning blank at Saber's words. Olga was similarly gaping at him in shock.
"Um…" Romani coughed into his hands "Did you say summoning between worlds?"
"As in different worlds?"
"That was what I meant." Saber nodded "Although time is convoluted , it might be simpler to say I was summoned to a different time occurring parallel to the one I inhabit."
They still looked confused.
"Saber." Olga inhaled "What knowledge do you have of your summoning?"
"I'm a Saber." He replied "There are six other classes."
"...That's it." He shrugged "A little confusing...I apparently also have something called a 'Noble Phantasm'."
"Saber...can you just explain a few things about your world to us?"
"Hey." Caster asked as he stared at the unkindled in a slightly inquisitive tone of voice "How common are undead?"
"Very." Saber nodded "Although I mainly encountered other unkindled like myself."
"There a difference?"
"...Barely." He admitted "Why?"
"Saber." Ritsuka scratched the back of his neck "We're all human."
"Yes." Saber nodded his head "I can mainly see that." he looked at Caster "Except you...you seem to have the possession of a Lordsoul fragment."
"Lordsoul?" Caster blinked at him "Oh? You can sense my divinity. That's a pretty good nose you got there." smirking at some hidden joke.
"No...I mean we aren't undead." Ritsuka elaborated, Saber slowly turned and stared at him, then at Olga, then at Mash.
"Oh." He spoke after a few moments "Never been summoned to a world this different before."
Olga was biting her lip "How common is this 'travelling between worlds'?"
"Everyone could do it."
Olga let out a wheeze, although it quickly dissolved into an insane giggling fit. Everyone stared at her in varying degrees of concern, except Saber. He looked down at her and then back up "Did I say something wrong?"
"No…" Romani shook his head "I-I think it's just you admitted to using some form of the Second Magic and that apparently everyone could do it."
"It wasn't that complicated." Saber dismissed "All you needed was a summoning stone...or a red eye orb." He admitted "Those could be used to actively seek out and invade other worlds."
"So you could find a host of embers and kill him." Saber replied "I never did it myself, but it happened to me a few times."
Olga's laugh only seemed to intensify.