Following the group, lagging somewhat behind them, I couldn't help but struggle to sort out my senses.
The air was chock full of mana, which in turn made it hard for me to sniff out magical danger. For all I knew, we could be surrounded by assassins!
Not knowing this was hard on me, having relied on my sense of smell to get out of problems in the past.
"Hey, you okay?" The one wearing the shield asked me as he took note of my problem. "Sinus problems?"
"No, nothing like that. Just… trying to filter out all the smells." I idly commented, watching as the young man looked out the window with a smile.
"Yeah, the air feels really different." the young man said as he looked back at me. "Cleaner too. Definitely a different world."
More like suffocating. I may be getting better at taking out the other smells, but it' ll take time to get used to this world's air.
"C'mon, we're falling behind." I nodded towards the retreating group ahead of them, causing us to quickly pick up the pace to catch up to them. Passing through the doorway, Shirou was able to see a man sitting on a golden throne. The windows behind him illustrated a provincial city, reminding him of the England that was in Saber's memories.
"Oh? So these are the Heroes of old?"
I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but the old man before me was not what I considered to be a King. Compared to Saber, the King present was definitely lacking.
Then again, a lot of would-be Kings fall short of Saber's very presence.
I hadn't realized this before, but with more time spent listening to people talk, I came to the conclusion that they were speaking in English. Perhaps it was due to my proficiency in the language that it had taken so long for me to realize I wasn't speaking Japanese. Maybe it was due to how out of it I had been to realize that until just now.
The man on the throne introduced himself. "I am the King of this country, Aultcray Melromarc the 32nd. Raise your heads, Heroes."
I bit mine tongue at the words, loathe not to make a sarcastic remark at the fact that no-one but the ones clad in robes had their heads bowed— and from the way the others who appeared to have been summoned looked, I could tell that they were dying to tell the King off.
… Not that that was a good idea of course.
From the type of houses built, the technology was definitely pre-industrial.
Knowing that, I resolved not to anger the religious authorities and the King— both of them held near absolute power in the era it was apparent he had been summoned to.
The King, he doesn't seem to realize that they aren't paying him attention. Or… does he simply not want to acknowledge that…
With a wave of Aultcray Melromarc XXXII 's hand, the men clothed in robes left, around five people remained in the room, likely acting in the capacity of retainers or court historians.
He clearly did not think highly of the people it seemed he summoned, believing them to be no threat.
Though from the way the others were handling their weapons, I was of the same opinion. The only one not playing around with weaponry like it was a toy was the one without, the young man he had met in the library.
"Now," the King started in a would-be regal manner, "I shall explain the current situation. There is a prophet who once spoke a prophecy. That of Waves of Calamity" I could hear the capital letters in the name, "Occurring and a ritual to summon Heroes in order to fight off the end of the World. I am loath to admit it, but at first the warnings were thought to be false. Until we could no longer dismiss the prophecy as baseless."
The rest of the information dump they were given could be summed up fairly quickly.
The Dragon's Hourglass— they were said to be timers of doom, of the time till the next Wave of Calamity— began to pour once more as the year foretold, the current year, began. The first Wave occurred little over a week ago in Lurolona Village as a dimensional fissure opened.
The Heroes had been summoned as soon as possible afterwards.
I frowned at the information. I'm not a mage that specialized in research of the [Kaleidoscope], that's Rin and her hopeful teacher-to-be (if she passed his tests and impressed him of course), though I suppose Zelretch could have thrown me into the world, but it didn't make sense for him to do so. The Magician did not like to interfere directly with worlds. All the information spoke of a higher power at play.
Another thing of note was how the world's leaders seemingly… ignored this problem to begin with. It didn't seem like a smart thing to do, considering they had giant magical divine hourglasses that told them of impending doom and just ignored it. They had the basis that it happened before, several times in fact, but went about their way until it was, from the King's words himself, falling from the sky onto their heads. It didn't make a lick of sense and I knew that Rin, if she wasn't already on the cusp of losing it, would do it now with the information given to him. If I could figure out the flaw in the thinking, Rin would certainly know it.
The others didn't seem to care about the sad story.
"Uh-huh. So, you expect us to just work for free, then?"
"That's certainly convenient for you."
"...It really is selfish, you know. Dragging us into a problem that doesn't have anything to do with us."
"Well, it's true we have no obligation to help you. And suppose we do save the world, only to get sent home empty-handed after all our hard work? Nobody would take a risk like that unrewarded."
… They still look excited though.
The King shot a glance at one of the others in the room before he tried to smooth things over, addressing the first three.
"Of course, we plan to richly compensate you for your efforts. Besides that, we could also prepare discretionary funds to support you on your journey. It's a small price to pay to ensure your cooperation in saving our world."
I almost couldn't help but laugh again. Three of the four of the summoned Heroes looked less intimidating than a kitten playing with a ball of yarn, perhaps less so as they fumbled trying to point them threateningly at the King.
"Oh? Well, as long as you make it a promise..."
"Don't think that means you own us, though. We're just cooperating for as long as you stay on our good side."
Their attitude is doing them no favors, though I suppose it matters more for me than for them…
"Now then, Heroes, tell me your names…"
"My name is Amaki Ren, age 16. I'm a high-schooler."
… It's evident that he's done some light training from his muscles, though not any large muscle building activities— he looks lithe and doesn't have gargantuan muscles.
"I'll go next, then. The name's Kitamura Motoyasu, college student, 21."
Motoyasu had traditional Japanese features and was in average shape.
"Oh, me now? My name is Kawasumi Itsuki. I'm a 17-year-old high-school student."
The bow Hero, Itsuki, was hard to get a read on for me— it was as though he was used to strange situations and hiding information.
"Oh, sorry. Guess I'm last. My name's Iwatani Naofumi, and I'm a 20-year-old college student."
The shielder seemed to be a completely normal human by any stretch of the imagination, yet the King looked at him derisively.
"And you? I was told one other was summoned with the heroes," Aultcray Melromarc XXXII directed towards me with a look of suspicion in his eyes.
I couldn't blame him for it either, after all, the summoning ritual called for four heroes to be summoned, a 'plus one' was not in the books or rituals if I had to take a guess.
I decided to be frank and mention my own ability in magecraft.
The King could come to his own conclusions from there.
It did not seem like the Moonlight World was hidden here from previous talk. "Emiya Shirou, age 19, apprentice magus at the Clocktower."
"Hmph… what can you do with magic? That's just a term particularly weak espers use to further confound the public… Unlike you I have something that's useful, [Accuracy]; the ability to always hit my target. It'll come in handy with this bow."
Now, I'm not particularly well versed in general magecraft, nor do I care much, but I know that I'd be lectured if I came across Rin and haven't corrected the elementary level mistake Itsuki made with his categorization.
"It's not Magic, it's magecraft. Magecraft is the ability to perform anything mudanley possible given an infinite amount of time and resources. Magic is what is not possible mundanely, like making something out of nothing. I do admit I'm only a 3rd rate though." My explanation of the difference inherent in magecraft and Magic attracted the intention of Naofumi, who was looking at me with a shocked expression on his face.
"But I bumped into you at the library… you're from the same world as me!" Naofumi pointed out, staring at me with wide eyes, as he couldn't believe something as amazing as Magecraft was actually real in their world.
In that same moment, my eyes took in the King, watching as the man narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
It was clear as day to everyone aside from Naofumi himself, that the Aultcray did not like the Shield Bearer whatsoever.
Why, I didn't know, but now that he learned I came from the same world as him, it looks like he didn't like me either.
… To be frank, I had no idea why this was, but I needed to get myself sorted out before I found myself under a blade attempting to take my life.
"Well, magecraft is existent but hidden and not common since magical circuits are rare…" I began to explain with patience, almost reciting the same explanation given to me by my girlfriend.
"Why isn't it known then?"
"To be a magus is to walk with death. That's what every magus is taught. Magecraft is dangerous… Do you really want people to experiment with dangerous things in broad daylight instead of hidden, politicians to use more dangerous weapons in war, or another reason for humans to have prejudice over?"
"... Those are fair points…" Naofumi was forced to agree.
The King cleared his throat, silencing them once more. "Ahem! If everyone could confirm their statuses that would be great."
Status? Our conditions?
Naofumi seemed to be questioning the same thing as Itsuki who vocalized the question. "Status?"
"... I don't know what that is either," I added.
"What, you guys didn't notice it the moment you got here?" The guy with the sword, no Ren, asked. "There's an icon in your peripheral vision, right? Focus on it."
I was too worried about the people with nuclear bombs disguised as simple weapons to notice the change in my vision.
I mentally grumbled back to him, still not wanting to draw any more attention to myself, I finally focused on the spinning icon and what seemed to be a browser window popped up.
Class(es): Saber, Archer, Caster lvl 1
Equipment: Otherworldly clothes
Magic: Unlimited Blade Works, Tracing, Structural Analysis, Alteration, Reinforcement, Minor Jewelcraft
How does this 'Status Magic' know all this? I don't recall any of the priests casting spells on us. How did-
However, my thoughts would be interrupted by a resounding cry.
"What? I'm only level one?"
"Can we really fight like this?"
"Do you not have status magic back in your worlds, Heroes? Here it is something anyone can use." Aultcray blinked at the confusion the Heroes were giving him. No doubt this was normal for him and everyone else in the world.
We have the Servant status magecraft, but nothing like this… or so widespread.
There was an unspoken question evident from the room. What should we do now?
Noticing this, the King started to speak once more. "We would like for you all to go on a journey to polish your skills and your weapons… They are quite powerful, yes, but something powerful that only grows with level…"
"Well, should the five of us party up?"
"Ahh, about that, it is perhaps better for you to go your separate ways… The weapons are said to naturally repulse each other you see…"
That makes zero sense, no matter how you spin it. You summon four heroes, but they are not allowed to… to… 'Party up?', is that right? Rin, I am so glad you are not here.
"I don't quite get it, but basically you're saying we can't get strong except for on our own?"
"That's exactly right." The King must have been relieved at not needing another overly verbose explanation.
"So we need to gather companions then…"
"On the contrary, we have gathered companions for you. They will be arriving tomorrow. For now we have prepared rooms for you all. You may go there to rest and gather your strength. The real journey begins tomorrow."
At the King's words, I narrowed my eyes, already feeling like I was being manipulated into a game I want nothing to do with.
I've already got a taste of the Mage Associations politics, I wanted nothing to do with a Medieval Kingdom version of it.
I also felt the eyes of the King upon me as well, causing me to grimace as I felt not just his but several others.
All hostile towards not just me, but the Shield Bearer as well.
"Thanks!" I escaped from the room before the King could call out to me, before something bad could happen.
With the same word of thanks from the others, the five people summoned left for their rooms.
Arriving in the Guest corridors, I noticed that there were many extra beds lying unused.
I frowned as I walked down the hall, occasionally taking a deep sniff of the air, filtering all the abundant mana out to catch any whiff of anything out of place. When I found nothing of note, I picked a room at random and sat on the bed, amusing thoughts appeared in my mind as I pulled up the Status Menu once more to look into it.
What classes would Rin have? Definitely a Caster for sure. She is also a good shot too, so probably an Archer as well.
I hummed as I continued to look into the Status Menu, taking note of all the little things that it provided, including the number of magic circuits I had and their quality. Really, the thing provides a lot of information on whoever it was attached to. After going through the menu, I got ready for the night. Tiredness is the enemy.
Despite the remainder of Saber, I doubted I'd be able to sleep.
My stomach also decided to respond. Hunger is also the enemy.
But before I could head to bed, there was a knock at the door.
"Coming!" I got up to open the door. Standing outside was Naofumi, to whom I gestured to come inside. The young man seemed to be happy to find me and quickly made his way in.
Taking in his appearance, I first wondered why he was here, before I came to a probably wrong conclusion. It must be a result of us coming from the same world.
I was something familiar to him, after all.
Magecraft and hidden society aside, of course.
"Hi, Emiya. Got a question for you." Naofumi started, looking a little nervous as he looked back towards the door in anticipation.
"I was wondering if you'd consider partying up?" The other asked straight up, as I blinked in a way that was reminiscent of an owl, allowing Naofumi to go on. "Mostly because we come from the same world, yeah? I didn't even know Magecraft was a real thing until today. And honestly, I would rather have someone that knows my world and understands me by my side."
I looked at him with a narrow gaze as it was clear he was holding something back. "And?"
"I… also have an attack stat of one." Hung his head, before grunting and rubbing his head in annoyance.
"What does that mean?" I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. An attack stat of one?
"Uh... Hmm…. Okay. Look, I am going to punch you."
"It's the only way for you to understand."
"Hey-!?" I was expecting a lot of things, but to see Naofumi literally punch me in the gut was not one of them. Though I felt the blow and felt the power behind it, meaning Naofumi put a lot of effort into the blow, yet it felt like I just got slapped across the stomach. Still hurt, if the bar at the top of his view was anything to note.
I looked down at his stomach, quite sure I didn't put up the [Reinforcement] due to how quickly Naofumi threw the punch, and I was quite literally caught flatfoot from the out of nowhere attack.
"So, yeah… Figured as much." Naofumi muttered, giving him an apologetic look.
"Okay," I murmured, giving the man a scathing look. "Still, it's weird. I can feel how much strength you put behind the hit. Why is that?"
"Maybe because a shield isn't a weapon?" Naofumi said, which caused me to laugh out loud.
"Let me tell you something. There are plenty of shields out there that can cause some serious damage. I mean, a lot of them can. Hitting someone with a piece of metal is going to hurt no matter what. So I don't know what the deal is with the piece on your arm, but that is some defective thinking right there in whoever created the shield in the first place." I shook my head at the sheer stupidity of what was happening, sure a shield was a protective piece of gear, but can also function as a weapon if used correctly.
Both of them blinked as the green gem on the shield suddenly darken in hues, almost pitch black before returning back to the same green once more. Both of them looked at one another before deciding to not comment on it outloud.
It makes sense to some degree, to have something intelligent be housed in a weapon that holds this much power. Unfortunately I cannot look at it with [Tracing] to find out more.
Shaking his head once before giving Naofumi a once over, I smiled. "Sure, I'll join you" as I sent a [Party Invite] through the menu I found earlier when I was browsing through.
It caused the other to blink in surprise as something appeared before him, a look of understanding on his face as he agreed to the party invite
[Shield Hero Iwatani Naofumi has accepted the party invite]
[Shield Hero Iwatani Naofumi has been automatically promoted to party leader]
[All bonuses and attributes are applied with a Cardinal Hero as party leader, along with EXP boost gains as a companion]
We both of them stared at the message for a moment before shrugging, I was willing to step back as I'm more useful as a weapon than a leader (don't think like that Shirou, I told myself, Rin would be mad), and Naofumi seemed to understand the Status magic more quickly than me.
"I'll be in your care" We said at the same time, laughing a little as we realized that we both bowed at the same time. I winced as my stomach groaned once more, thankfully not loud enough to gain Naofumi's attention yet.
Shirou, Hunger is the enemy.
"Ah… I forgot to ask but do you want to join the others? They're talking about the situation in the front area". Naofumi scratched his head awkwardly.
It was evident that there was nothing better to do at the moment, so I nodded my head in agreement. "I'll follow your lead there".
A/n: Thank you to redskin122004 once more