A.N. (8/15/23) - Here's another chapter for being gone so long.


Atlas (27) - Reveal

It was a declaration of war.

Her words could not have been taken any other way, not when she crashed through the ceiling to stop whatever plans they had in mind. It didn't slip past her that there was a giant wall of ice blocking half of the room, nor did the giant waves of magical energy coming from the other side escape her notice. While Rin never got an opportunity to see Fria exert herself like this, there was no doubt that this was merely a glimpse of the power of the Winter Maiden.

But Fria had her limits. Whether it was due to nearing the end of her lifespan or some other condition, it appeared that no further aid was coming from the older woman. That meant that the situation was three-to-one with the odds against Rin.

Well, more like one against two while their leader stayed in the back. Rin had never met Gillian Asturias, but it wasn't much effort on her part to guess the other woman's identity. The fact that her body was visibly glowing from the sheer abundance of Aura emitting out of her was a pretty big clue. Not to mention the family resemblance to her brother.

Just in case, Rin used her mystic eye to confirm the emotional states of the people before her. As expected, both Winter and Clover showed symptoms of being under the influence of Jax's Semblance. But when Rin turned her sight upon the last woman, she blinked in surprise for a moment as she took in her state.

Before she could think more about that, the woman spoke.

"Get her."

At Gillian's command, both Clover and Winter jumped into action. Even without his weapon, Rin judged that Clover was the bigger threat due to the sheer potential of his Semblance. Luck was a parameter that had a significant impact in battle, especially when you considered that it was a form of altering fate in one's favor. The one scene that came to mind as an example would be when Saber avoided an instant kill attack that reversed causality simply due to her possessing a high enough luck parameter.

Thus, Rin made preparations in the event that she would face his Semblance.

-The Birdcage of Binding-
"—Chains of Darkness!"

Throwing several gems at him, dark purple tendrils shot out of the air to suddenly grab Clover. If one defined curses as affecting the true nature of another through intervention, then one could easily affect the luck of another through targeted interference. Rather than simply cursing Clover with bad luck, Rin exploited his Semblance by creating a counter-curse to turn his Semblance against himself.

Of course, there were limits to this tactic. With the amount of jewels she used to power the spell, it would take a while for Clover to break through it and negate its effects. It was simply a matter of whether he burned through enough Aura to deplete her gem's magical reserves. But it meant he would be busy dealing with that war of attrition.

And while it temporarily negated his Semblance, that did not stop the man himself. Charging forward, Clover made to lunge at her with his arms outstretched while a glyph appeared behind him to increase his speed. The fact that he had no weapon did not deter him in the slightest, as he moved with something akin to a boxing stance while throwing the first punch.

In melee fighting, Rin was better than most people her age. Skillswise, it wouldn't be a stretch to claim that she was probably better at Clover in hand-to-hand combat. But there was more to a fight than skill, and that was proven when each punch Clover threw was fast enough to be measured in fractions of a second enhanced by Winter's glyphs.

Even as Rin deflected each blow as best as she could, she sensed Winter attacking while Clover distracted her. To counter that, she deployed her Azoth Array and sent the blades to block several ice attacks Winter threw at her. Each Azoth Sword deployed was filled with magical energy enough to make them fly at speeds similar to a bullet. Winter crossed her sabres right as Rin sent two more blades flying toward her, neutralizing the force of the attack in an instant.

The blades deflected, a clash of sparks trailing behind as the Azoth Blades flew around the room to attack Clover instead. Sensing this, the man dodged at the last second right as Rin gathered her wits again along with all of her Azoth Swords.

Waving the seven blades, an array formed as five of the blades glowed with different colors.

-Circulate the Five Elements-
"—Five Stars in Revolution!"

Rin activated a large-scale magecraft. Multiple magic circles formed at the center of the five blades, and a charged mana beam fired from the array once she threw her fists forward. It was inspired by the move that Penny used in the show utilizing conceptual means instead of technology, and there was no denying its effectiveness.

Jumping out of the way, a trail of ice followed the beam's path until it suddenly changed into a heat ray that left scorch marks instead. The array changed colors as Rin switched between elements, causing extreme changes in room temperature and forcing her opponents to backtrack.

Winter has had enough. Stabbing a sabre into the floor, Rin was shocked to find a mutated Goliath emerging from it. She never knew that Winter was able to summon something like that, and the unexpectedness of the fact caught her off guard.

The Goliath roared as it charged at her, and Rin changed targets from the Specialists to the large mutated Grimm. It endured the focused mana beam with its bony head without losing any momentum in its assault.

Changing tactics, Rin threw several more gems before her and aimed at the Goliath.

-Six Fetters-
"—Gleipnir."

Within seconds, bindings of purple light wrapped its limbs until it collapsed to the ground. Not only that, but several more bands flew toward Winter and Clover as well. Taking measures to prevent themselves from being captured, the two of them missed the last gem that Rin flung over their heads.

A blinding light illuminated the room, catching everyone except Rin off guard as they suddenly lost their vision. That was enough for the purple fetters to completely bind the two Specialists, leaving them captured on the ground.

Even though they struggled, there was no escaping the spell inspired by the binding that held the mighty wolf Fenrir in Norse mythology. Furthermore, a secondary barrier enveloped them all as the ten-count spell completely contained those captured. Not even Winter's glyphs would be able to activate outside that barrier, leaving them trapped inside until they either escaped or the power of the spell ran out.

With the defeat of her guards, there was no reason for Gillian to look unconcerned as she did at that moment. And yet, something was off. Even with the upper hand, Rin felt that there was still another obstacle to overcome first.

Her arm was raised and aimed at the other woman's head.

"We're alone now. If there's anything you have to say, speak now."

The woman blinked before she suddenly started to laugh. "Excuse me, forgive ourselves for asking. What exactly do you expect me to talk about at this point?"

"Cut the act. If you reached this point, there's no way that you don't have a trump card. With whom you're prepared to face, I doubt that these two are your only methods of attack."

If Gillian believed that these two were enough to defeat Fria, then either she underestimated the power of a Maiden or was vastly overconfident in the power of her Semblance.

"Hm, as expected of the one who stopped us before."

That caused Rin to pause. "What do you mean? Are you talking about your operations in Argus?"

"That too, but I was referring to something else." Gillian smiled. "We'll admit that we managed to gather quite a number of capable warriors from our dealings with Merlot. Filling our ranks with capable Semblance-users easily helped our ascension as a powerful group, but it was your actions against Merlot himself that drew our attention to you."

"You sent the Ace-Ops after me when they came to acquire Doctor Polendina," Rin recalled. "I wondered why they wanted me to come with them at the time."

"So you noticed? I suppose that you deserve a reward for catching that."

Again, Rin had the feeling that she was missing something important.

"Then let me begin with what our plans are. You are correct that we have an interest in you, and you also believe that we have the means of acquiring the power of the Maiden somehow. This is an operation long in the making that we've spent months working and preparing for. Even now, I suspect that you have an inkling of what our true purpose is."

"Only a hunch."

"Would you please indulge my curiosity and tell me what answer you came up with?"

"There's no hard evidence to back it up, so all I have is a theory from what I've managed to piece out."

"That's fine. Rather than hearing a correct answer, I simply want to know what conclusion you reached."

She was too arrogant with her position, even completely ignoring the threat of an attack from Rin.

"...not yet." Rin narrowed her eyes. "First off, I have to confirm something with you."

"Ask away."

It was a guess, but…

"You're not Gillian, right?" Rin asked uncertainty. "And if so, who are you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Your emotions." Raising her other arm, she lifted her eyepatch to reveal her mystic eye. "I can visualize other people's emotions. At first, I assumed that it was malfunctioning due to your Semblance. I figured that since you absorbed so many people's Aura, your own would be muddled by the vestiges of all the emotions of the people you absorbed."

Rin took a deep breath.

"But that's not it. I sometimes forget because I'm used to dealing with your minions, but one's emotions and Aura are not the same. They are tied to one another and share a special relationship, but they are separate aspects of a person. Jax targets other people's Aura by using his Semblance to affect their emotions, which I can notice with my eye. But unless he's using his Semblance on you, there is no reason why I would be able to visualize multiple emotional states coming from you."

Even now, Rin could spot the differences the longer she stared at Gillian. It was a mess of colors and hues, too distinct from anyone else that she had seen thus far.

"I'm not sure if you're unaware, but I recently had the chance to interview a certain associate of yours. Marcus Black was able to inform me of his account of your expedition in the deserts of Vacuo. Since then, I had my suspicions but was still filled with doubt as to the conclusion I reached. And after meeting you, I realized that my initial theory was incorrect after all."

"Oh?"

"My first thought was that you're some kind of spirit possessing Gillian, but that's not it. Or rather, that's only scratching the surface of what you are. Even now, I'm still not one hundred percent certain if you're truly who I believe you to be. So I'll move to a different topic first to determine something."

Gillian stared at her with eyes filled with amusement.

"This world… I did my research. I studied its history, I traversed its grounds, I touched its memory. For so long, I wondered how is it that my magecraft was able to function in what I presumed was an entirely different world. But then, an entirely different line of thought came to me one day."

"And that was…?"

"Humanity has existed for quite a while now," Rin continued. "Approximately six thousand years according to records and research done into studying this world's history. But that only concerns the most recent iteration of humanity. If you take into account the existence of primordial humans, then they've existed for quite a time even before that."

Primordial humans, otherwise the first humanity that was wiped out by the Brother Gods. The differences between them and modern humans were not simply one by which era they lived in. Due to living in mana-rich environments, every fiber of their muscles and every drop of blood that flowed through their veins were filled with pure magical energy. Comparing the humans from the Age of Gods to those from the modern era was like making a comparison between a racecar and a wagon.

When the gods abandoned humanity, they took away their blessings as well upon their departure. There were only two exceptions to this, and only one of them was still alive in the same body that they had when the gods still walked the earth. Because Ozma reincarnated into new bodies upon each death, the only living primordial human left was Salem.

"If this were an entirely different universe with its own set of rules, then that would make sense. But since my magecraft still works, another theory came to mind. What if this world, Remnant, was simply a type of parallel world? One that has diverged at an early point in history even before the advent of the common era."

Of course, that theory came with its own set of problems. For one, Rin's magecraft was tied to multiple foundations that were built based on the common sense of man by the faith and logic established by Earth's history, not Remnant.

"But several years ago, I was brought to this world. Without my input or consent, I was forced upon a land that I did not know with no clue as to how I got here."

Left unsaid that she was also trapped in the body of the person known as 'Rin Tohsaka' with all of her magical abilities and knowledge.

As well as something else…

"This isn't a parallel world, but another world."

A memory.

"But this is another world that has a connection to my… no, our world."

Darkness swallowed everything as a black shadow attempted to paint over the planet's texture. It was indiscriminate in what it covered, and she was no exception.

"We were sent here by a Holy Grail."

Finally, Gillian—no, the being inside of her—laughed. "So you've finally rediscovered the truth. Yes, you're right. This is another world that exists due to the Holy Grail. Nearly four years ago, a hole opened and turned the world inside out. And somehow, you came to this world despite everything I know telling me that it should not be possible."

Her arms flew to the side, and a broad smile graced her face.

"I'll admit that you got most of the details right, but I'm hurt that you missed one important detail. Then again, I have to admit that it would be hard to notice right away since it was only a single meeting."

"Meeting?"

"Yes," she nodded. "When we first met, although it must have been something like a decade ago. I doubt you would have been old enough to still recognize me even if I was in my original form, let alone the one that I am inhabiting now."

"No, I think I remember…"

Or rather, she (Rin Tohsaka) remembered.

"Really?"

"Your name… I heard it again recently and it tickled a long-forgotten memory."

"You heard-" She blinked. "Of course, you're talking about Marcus Black."

It took her a while to recall the name not because of a fault in her memory, but because of a different reason. Even so, she pushed past the ache of pain that came suddenly and spoke.

"Emilia."

But that name wasn't significant in and of itself. Instead, it was her other name… her family name that invoked an actual reaction out of her.

"Your name is Emilia… Ainsworth."

That was her true identity. Even though she had no idea why, that name was carved into Rin's mind. A name that meant nothing on Remnant, but was something that represented a powerful faction that did not exist in this world.

And if she was here, then that meant…

Right after Rin said that, the woman stopped smiling. "Close enough, but I believe that I should reintroduce myself. Even if it is not an accurate descriptor, I believe that it would be best to go by this name instead."

Her hand moved over her chest, and she bowed.

"My true name is Pandora." Looking up, her face was filled with sorrow. "And my goal is to reopen the pithos and escape this world contained inside the box."

That was the hidden truth.

Remnant was not simply another world.

It was a world inside the pithos known as Pandora's Box.

The Holy Grail that was used during the Fourth Ainsworth Holy Grail War.

Pandora smiled once again. "What do you say, representative of the Tohsaka family? Will you allow my plan to resume the ritual, or will you stand in the Ainsworth's way once again? Choose now, and decide whether you are an ally or foe."


So yeah, that's a thing.

The implication that our SI is actually the Miyuverse version of Rin Tohsaka was something that I had been hinting at for a while now. Most of you figured out that Pandora was involved, but did any of you guess that Remnant was actually related to Pandora's Box? Since the Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya series has yet to show exactly what world is contained inside the pithos, I'm making it so that the crossover elements relate to Nasuverse stuff by having Remnant be that world.

And if you count the years since she's been on Remnant, that means that it has been about four years since the Fourth Holy Grail War, which means that there's another year left until the Fifth according to the timeline. This also lines up nicely with when canon begins for the RWBY series.