Stories are like threads woven together to make rope. They start somewhere, giving you a feeling of both foreboding and of wishing to follow. They take you in loops, knots and spins that can save a man or break a man. The characters, the plot, the setting, each thread is carefully chosen to give the rope its strength, its color, its draw, and its ability to attract others to it. Finally, it terminates, bringing people to their destination, usually in a remarkably different condition from how they were before.

But sometimes it feels as though that thread repeats itself endlessly, in a hopeless cycle of repetition and despair.

He struck me in the stomach with a solid punch. The force compressed my muscles, nearly crushed the organs, and pushed all of the water in them back and forth, wracking my body with intense pain. Besides this was also the knowledge that the attack was meant to cause pain, and nothing but pain.

But that didn't matter. After all, in my time alive I had felt more than my share of pain, be it on my hands, on my body, or in a place a whip or a strike would never reach.

"Stay down, kid." The voice was calm and totally impassive. The tall man who gave this order was probably already pushing thirty. In the town he was known simply as a madman and a raving lunatic, with his speeches about magic and magecraft and such. To them he was a madman spouting nothing but gibberish. His latest rant had been that the city would soon play host to the Holy Grail, something they dismissed as "just the crazy guy talking again."

To the boy he was beating, however, it was all painfully real. All of the things the man said about inherited magic circuits, about prana and mana, about the Five Magics, all of that was the world he lived in.

And the Holy Grail the other man sought was the goal of the boy spread out on the ground in apparent pain. With his ruffled and messy black hair, red shirt bearing the words: "I work better when playing video games" and a picture of a maniac player in action and blue denim pants, he looked like a teenager out on the town.

But his thoughts were anything but.

Now, big guy, let's see how you do against a proper magus.

"Event Repetition: Pain." He said, facing the floor. His saliva dripped on the floor, and as if it was the signal, the older man bent over and clutched his stomach, as if he himself had been hit in the stomach with his own punch.

If I were to tell you that the boy on the ground had caused the delusional adult to bend over, you wouldn't believe me. Even if I explained to you, it would defy common sense and any form of rational thinking.

So let's skip over that. In the meantime, the man, fully understanding that in one way or another, the boy had caused the crushing pain he had suddenly felt, turned to the boy.

"Event Repetition: Stand."

The boy moved to his feet with a speed that seemed impossible for a person, as if he had been standing the whole time. The man's eyes widened with shock and he went for the gun tucked in the holster on his left hip, which was hanging just above his belt.

"Event Repetition: Strike."

The man had already put his guard up and hardened his muscles, ready for an attack. His arms formed an impenetrable guard in front of him, and any action taken by the boy would be futile. In terms of technique in hand-to-hand, there was no contest between the two.

So why did the punch strike with the same amount of force that the other man had exerted, despite it being made with the right hand of a 16-year old with only about 3/4ths of his muscle strength and far rougher technique than he? Despite the impossibility of the fact it had been done, clearly and unequivocally as the second, true round of pain hit the man, forcing him to double over. The boy walked towards the man who was doubled over in pain.

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way." The boy said. "Give me this hideout and disappear, or we do this the hard way. I have money, so you can set up in a nice little place somewhere else if you wish." He delivered this offer with an uncompromising face, meaning that any further negotiation was pointless. There would be no arguing anymore, and the next attack would no doubt be a fatal strike.

Ignoring all of this, possibly blinded to the nuances of negotiation by rage and hatred, the older man stood up. The boy merely drew a dagger and put it into his right hand.

"Event Repetition: Punch."

The same force, applied in the same way. The punch the other man had thrown was repeated, this time aiming directly for the head of he who first threw it. The main difference, however, was that a knife had been placed in the hand. The force of the punch was enough to propel the knife forwards, digging into and destroying the skull of the target, and piercing the brain for an immediate kill. The event had been repeated, but thanks to circumstance, the result had changed. The boy quickly withdrew his knife from the head of the man he had just killed. Wasting no time, he walked down into the basement of the single detached house, where he found all of the necessary preparations already made.

Well, I can't say anything about his preparation skills, that's for sure. The boy thought to himself as he turned on the lights, revealing a magical circle etched on the ground and all of the reagents already placed in their positions. So I came just in time. The boy said, striking a match and lighting the candles that were around the circle. He stood in the middle and began to chant.

Silver and iron to the origin. Gem and the archduke of contracts to the cornerstone. The ancestor is my great master Schweinorg.

The circle began to glow, slowly and regally turning around to match the speed of the chant.
The alighted wind becomes a wall. The gates in the four directions close, coming from the crown, the three-forked road that leads to the kingdom circulate.

At this point the boy raised his hand, fist unclenched.
Shut (fill). Shut (fill). Shut (fill). Shut (fill). Shut (fill).

With each "Shut" he closed his hand, with each "Fill" he opened it. Every time he did so, a candle went out until the five that were on the edges of the circle, forming the shape of a pentagram, were all out.
Repeat every five times.
Simply, shatter once filled.
――――I announce.

The boy opened his eyes and brought his hand down in front of him to stretch parallel to the floor. His voice took on a new air of strength as he continued.
Your self is under me, my fate(doom) is in your sword!
In accordance with the resort of the Holy Grail, if you abide by this feeling, this reason, then answer!
Here is my oath. I am the one who becomes all the good of the world of the dead, I am the one who lays out all the evil of the world of the dead!
You, seven heavens clad in three words of power, arrive from the ring of deterrence, O keeper of the balance ―――!

"Come forth, he who would answer my call!" He screamed.

Perhaps it was the desperation of the voice calling out into the Throne of Heroes, begging for a warrior to assist him on his impossible request.

Perhaps it was predestined, that it had happened before that he had summoned a hopeless warrior who raged against the world and decided to pull out any means to end his suffering.

Or perhaps it was just that a coincidence of luck that that Servant was the one that appeared before him.

The red coat, flapping in the wind generated through the Throne of Heroes.

The armor shining under it, jet-black and imposing.

The bare, tan hands, the height of a full-grown man, and the white hair and clear eyes of a shell-shocked veteran going for one last mission.

That was the man that appeared before the boy who repeated events. Kneeling before him was the browned knight in red.

"This is a rhetorical question, but… I ask of you, are you my Master?"

The red marks appeared on the boy's hand, but he felt nothing of the burning pain told of by those who had experienced the bloodbath he had just entered. He looked at the marks disinterestedly before turning to the man that knelt before him.

"Yes I am, Servant Archer." He pronounced clearly.

"Then we waste no time." The red knight said. "The enemy is already here." The boy nodded.

"As expected of a Servant such as yourself." The boy said. "Let's go welcome them, shall we?"