The various fictional worlds, characters and elements that are written about in this fanfiction belong to their various creators, who I'm too lazy to list. This is purely a fan work and not intended to generate any sort of profit. I know that if it does a fair number of bloodthirsty lawyers are likely to make my life miserable. As always constructive criticism is welcome and flames will be ignored.

Here's the next chapter, which I hope is as well received as the first.

Originally I wrote one big chapter that was meant to run all the way to the duel with Guiche, however after a bit I decided that since this fic is my secondary focus I'd try to make the chapters shorter so it would be easy to update. I'm quite proud of how well God Slaying Blade Works is going, but I do have a tendency to make the chapters too big which results in a slower update rate.

Just to be perfectly clear I want to say that this fic is taking place in the Light Novels continuity rather than the anime, though it will be influenced by some aspects of the anime. All in all I was much more impressed by the Novels than I was with the show; it was as though the anime reduced many of the character to caricatures of themselves as well as oversimplifying the plot to make it easier for the general public to consume.

SPOILERS.

Well this chapter is mainly so that Alex can interact with the various characters of Familiar of Zero as well as gain a bit more insight into his circumstances.

In regards to the various items in his book, have no fear. I have a plan that will tie in to my major plot alterations. I'm not going to spoil it just yet, but I am quite pleased with what I came up with.

I imagine some people will be wondering just how much I plan to stick to the canon. Well I will initially be staying close for the major points, though Alex does have plans of his own, but as the story progresses . . . well that would be more spoilers. Allow me simply to say that I don't plan to slavishly follow the canon and leave it at that.

I imagine people will be asking what other Avatars Alex has; well I've decided that he'll have five in total, including the Rider one. I'll not be revealing what they are, though I did include a few hints in my first chapter. In addition to this he'll have other advantages, but I'll reveal those in later chapters.

Now I hope you all enjoy this chapter.


Why Me? Chapter Two: Learning

"Errr . . . Wake up please. Sir, you can't sleep in here."

Alex let out a groan as his eyes fluttered open.

The first thing he noticed was that he ached; in fact he was aching quite a bit. The second thing that his foggy mind latched onto was the fact that his bed felt a good deal harder than he remembered it being.

Hang on a second, he didn't recognize that voice. What was a stranger doing in his room?

With a heave he sat up and looked around him. Huh? Where was this place? Why was there a maid standing next to him and why was he in a class-

Memories of the previous day came flooding back. That was right; he was now in a bloody anime of all things. Not only that, it seemed that last night a bloody magical book had stolen all the awesome weapons and tools he'd managed to luck into having, and then to add insult to injury the blasted thing had electrocuted him into unconsciousness. A quick glance around the room showed that the book seemed to have gone missing. Had someone stolen it? Great, just bloody perfect.

"Are you by any chance the one who became Miss Vallière's familiar . . . ?"

"You know of me?" Lost in thoughts of regret and irritation he answered without even looking at the questioner.

"A little. It's become quite a rumour, you know, that a commoner was called by the summoning magic."

There was something familiar about the words used and the voice that spoke them, something that made the world-lost young man look up.

Black Hair, blue eyes, a face that was what he mentally labelled as 'the pretty girl next door', a neat maid's headband and an equally neat uniform. It was strange, she looked like the anime character and yet she didn't look like a drawing at the same time. She was immediately recognizable though, Siesta, one of the main characters of the series and arguably the token 'normal' person.

And if memory served him correctly he shouldn't be meeting her until later if he was following the 'script'.

Rubbing the back of his head to disguise his suddenly racing thoughts he nodded to her.

"That would be me, the little lady summoned me up yesterday as part of the familiar thing her class were doing."

"And she made you sleep in one of the classrooms?" The dark haired maid sounded outraged at the thought.

"That's more my fault than anything else," Alex admitted, "We had something of a disagreement last night and I decided that we both needed a bit of time apart before one of us said something they'd regret once tempers cooled. I came in here to do a bit of thinking and I guess I must have nodded off."

As he said that he let a grin that he knew looked a bit self mocking spread across his face.

"Can you tell me what time it is?" He still had his watch on, he could feel it underneath the large brace he wore, but he didn't know if it was accurate to the present time. That was something he'd have to look into later.

"It's early morning at the moment; the students should be going for breakfast soon so we servants have to clear up the classrooms before their classes begin." Siesta answered as she . . . hovered, for want of a better word, over him.

"Ah, thank you for letting me know that. I'd best be going to wake up my little Summoner; I get the impression that she's the type to sleep in if given the opportunity."

With a grunt Alex heaved himself to his feet, then stretched as he tried to work the kinks out of his muscles. As he did so he heard a muffled 'eep' from the maid that was now standing behind him. After taking a couple of seconds to straighten his armour and cloak he then turned to face her.

He could understand why she'd made that little exclamation of surprise given when standing at his full height he stood nearly a whole foot taller than her. Still she didn't look scared, a tad intimidated maybe, but not scared.

"My thanks for waking me up like this. I imagine that I would have overslept if you hadn't, despite how uncomfortable the floor was."

He made sure to keep his tone and face friendly, after all Siesta had been one of the characters in the anime that he'd liked and found most entertaining, he wanted to make a good first impression. This was spoilt slightly by his stomach choosing that moment to loudly voice the fact that it hadn't been fed for a good long while now.

As its loud and bestial growl finished echoing around the empty classroom Alex could see a smile tugging at the corners of Siesta's lips.

"Alright," he acknowledged, "Maybe I should have seen about getting something to eat before I nodded off."

Another rumble seemed to answer his question with perfect timing. By this point the maid was covering her mouth with her hands in an attempt to stifle the giggles that were escaping her.

"I think that as soon as I've finished rousing my Summoner from her bed I'd best see to getting this beast fed before it starts causing a general disturbance." Alex commented as he turned to the door, "Perhaps we can speak again later when I go get something to eat."

With a nod and a grin to the black haired maid he stepped through the door and out into the corridor beyond.

A quick glance out of the windows confirmed that it was still fairly early in the morning since the sun was only just starting to clear the horizon. Retracing his steps he found himself outside the room in which he had left his pink haired Summoner the day before. As he lightly rapped on the door he idly noticed that even in the privacy of his own thoughts he was thinking of her as his Summoner rather than his Master. That suited him just fine, he was perfectly willing to work with her and protect her, but he'd be damned before he was anyone's slave, no matter the title that was placed on it.

There was no immediate answer to his knock so he tried again, this time with a bit more force, but again there was no reply. With a shrug he turned the door handle and pushed the door open.

The window's curtains were partly opened and the sunlight was illuminating the room. Louise was lying in bed with the bed sheets partly kicked off having apparently had a rather restless night. She was also cuddling her pillow and apparently gnawing on one corner in her sleep. Alex didn't remember any mention of that in any of the versions of the series, but he had to admit it did look pretty adorable.

No, mustn't get suckered by the cuteness. He had to remember that this girl was pretty much the quintessential tsundere, or at least she would have been. Now that he was here he wondered if it would be possible to lead her down a healthier mental road. He knew that she was the main romantic interest of the story, but quite frankly he saw her as more likely becoming a sort of younger sister than a potential romantic partner.

Ah well, those were thoughts for a later time, right now he had to see about getting her out of bed. Reaching out he placed two fingers on her bared shoulder and gently shook her. In response she made a sound vaguely like 'munya' then rolled over and away from his hand. Smiling slightly at her antics the new minted Gandálfr gave her a harder shake.

"Time to rise and shine my little Summoner. Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

"Wh-What? What's going on?" She sleepily questioned as she sat up in bed and rubbed at her eyes.

"It's morning, little lady, time to get up and face the day."

"Huh? O-Oh... Wait, who are you?" Louise yelled in a slurred voice. Her expression was vacant as she trailed off into a pitiful mumble.

"I think I'd be safe in saying that you're not really a morning person are you?" Alex commented as he looked down at her in amusement.

"Oh, the familiar. That's right; I summoned you yesterday, didn't I? Ishtander."

"Iskander." Alex corrected automatically, then blinked in surprise as a thought struck him. Ever since he'd arrived here he hadn't given anyone his name, at least not his real one. When asked before he'd still been a bit confused by the summoning and had thought they were asking who he was dressed as and so had claimed to be Iskander the Rider of the fourth Holy Grail War.

"Actually I'm-"

"Clothes." His words were cut off by the simple and direct order that was delivered through a rather unladylike yawn.

Reaching over he passed the uniform that had been draped over a chair to her. Louise then began to sluggishly pull off her lacy pink night shift.

Suddenly a memory sparked in his head and the red haired young man remembered what was going to happen next. No way was he going to fetch her underwear or help her get dressed. Bloody Hell, the girl looked like she was barely fourteen years old.

Crossing the room he grabbed the door handle once more.

"I'll just wait outside until you're finished dressing my Lady." He declared as he let himself out. From behind him came a half awake sound of protest, but he ignored it as he closed the door behind him.

As he waited out in the hall he thought about his name. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone, now that he thought about it, even when he'd been speaking to Siesta he hadn't introduced himself due to being in a hurry. Iskander, that was what Louise thought his name was.

Well . . . he could live with that. It was oddly childish he supposed, but having been dragged into this world against his will and having apparently lost everything he had except for the things he was wearing he felt a desire to have something that was all his own. His name then, he'd keep his name a secret to all save those he chose.

Thinking about all that had happened last night brought back memories of the pain in his right hand. Without really thinking about it he brought the hand up and idly rubbed the back of it where it had burned last night.

A frown crossed his face as his fingers felt something that shouldn't be there. Glancing down he saw that where before the back of his right hand had been smooth there was now something on them. Drawn out on the back of the hand was the image of an open book. It was as though someone had carved the picture into his skin years ago and now the image was picked out in thin raised scars.

That certainly hadn't been there the night before. He glared at it as though by doing so he could force it to reveal its secrets. Right, time to think about this logically, if it wasn't there yesterday then that must mean that he got it last night. And last night the only thing that he'd done involving books had featured a magic book that had eaten everything he owned apart from the things that he'd been wearing. Therefore if logic could be trusted that meant that he had gained this . . . marking due to that book somehow.

This was something new, of that he was completely sure. To the best of his knowledge nothing like this had happened to Saito. So that meant . . .

He stood there and allowed his thoughts to wander as he considered possibilities. In the end he was brought back to the present by the door next to which he was standing opening and a slightly irritated Louise coming out.

"You should have waited," she snapped as she looked up at Alex's tall figure. "As a familiar you should obediently follow my orders and wait until I give them to you."

"Girl," The red haired young man replied, "I've got my sins, but I'm definitely not lustful enough to wait and watch while a child changes her clothes in front of me. If you wait a few years then I'm sure the experience would be a bit more pleasant."

It was rather amusing to watch as Louise's face paled, then flushed, then went purple with rage.

"You-You, how dare you have such thoughts of me. I'll punish you! I'll-"

"Oh? What's this I hear of you punishing someone Louise? I had no idea you had such interests."

The pink haired girl's rant was cut off as the tall and gorgeous red head that Alex knew to be Kirche stepped out of her door and into the corridor. He had to admit that he hadn't gotten a good look at her yesterday, but now that he was closer to her he had to acknowledge that she was a captivating sight. It didn't help at all that she was what he regarded as 'his type', tall, curvaceous, a fellow red head and absolutely sure of herself. The simple fact was that she ticked almost all his little mental boxes

The only problem was that Kirche was perhaps a bit too immodestly dressed for his taste. He had no trouble with a girl that wanted to show off what she had, it was just that a more modestly dressed female was more attractive to him. In the anime the fire mage had doubled as a plot device to provide fan service in addition to being one of the main characters. He'd much preferred her in the Light Novels where her character was fleshed out a bit more.

"Good morning Louise." She greeted the shorter girl with a broad grin.

"Good morning . . . Kirche." The reply was ground out as though it was only through force of will that she could force the words out.

"So then, this is your familiar?"

Alex felt slightly self conscious as the tanned girl's gaze almost blatantly traced the muscles of his bared arms and the red and gold of the mantle he was still wearing.

"That's right."

"Well, you've certainly been able to summon up an interesting familiar, even if he is a commoner. But then I suppose that that's the best we can expect from Louise the Zero."

"Shut up."

"I summoned a familiar yesterday, too. Unlike a certain somebody, I was successful on my first try."

"Really."

"And, if you're going to have a familiar, it should be a good one, like this. Flame!"

Alex had been watching the exchange with a certain degree of interest. He'd noted that while Kirche's words were teasing there was something in their tone that wasn't as cruel as he'd expected. He knew that later in the series the red head was depicted as an ally and friend to the future Void Mage even though their earlier interactions had shown them to be rivals if not enemies. Still it was interesting to see signs of their future friendship so early. If he had to describe it he'd say that her words were meant as playful teasing, she simply couldn't or wouldn't see how they were cutting at Louise.

His thoughts about early main character interactions were cut off by the sight of a red lizard bigger than a komodo dragon coming out of the room behind the fire sorceress. Its appearance was odd since it was broader than any lizard he'd ever seen; in fact it looked slightly toad-like in its proportions. None the less it was an intimidating sight, and the fact that it was perfectly content with the fact that its tail was on fire indicated that it was definitely a magical creature.

Still, as he looked at it a rather wicked thought crossed his mind.

"That's a mighty fine Charmeleon you've got there," Alex commented as he squatted down next to the creature, "Quite a big fellow too, is he ready to evolve to Charizard yet or are you going to level him up a bit more first?"

Looking up he saw that both the girls were looking at him in bemusement and couldn't help but let a smile break over his face as he internally cackled at his joke.

"Ah, sorry. It is rather poor manners to enquire on trainers future strategies isn't it? Please just forget I said that."

"Char-? This is a fire lizard! See, look at the tail. A flame this vivid and large means it's without a doubt a salamander from the Fire Dragon Mountains! It's like a brand! Collectors can't even put a price on these!"

Despite her initial uncertainty the red haired mage seemed to swiftly resume her train of thought as she highlighted the many positive qualities of her reptilian familiar.

"That's nice," Louise said, her voice clearly bitter.

"Isn't it? It matches my affinity perfectly!"

"Your affinity is Fire, isn't it?"

"Of course. After all, I'm Kirche the Ardent. The ardent of gently smouldering passion. Everywhere I go, I have boys falling for me. Unlike you, right?"

Kirche puffed her chest out proudly. Not wanting to lose, Louise did the same, but the difference in volume was just too striking.

Despite this, Louise glared at Kirche. It wasn't that hard to tell that she really hated losing.

"I don't have the time to go around flirting with everything I see, unlike you."

Kirche only smiled calmly. Then glanced down to where Alex was giving every appearance of ignoring the byplay between them as he tried to work out how to properly pet a lizard the size of a small tiger.

"And what's your name?"

Alex abandoned his efforts to pet the reptile, to its displeasure if the disappointed rumble it gave was anything to go by, and stood up. He took a little bit of pleasure in the way that Kirche's eyes widened as he stood to his full height of nearly a head taller than her. Clearly as quite a tall girl herself she was unused to meeting someone who held such a considerable height advantage on her.

"Iskander Mest Babylon." Alex had been considering what to call himself when someone asked and had decided that since he was naming himself after the King of Conquerors then he'd take what was arguably his greatest conquest. The Mest had been pure gibberish that he'd thrown in there because it sounded good.

"Oh? What a strange name. That's not the name of a noble is it?"

"Hardly, I wouldn't be able to cast a spell if my life depended upon it." He replied with total truthfulness.

"I see. Well then, I'll be off now."

She stroked her flaming red hair back and walked off. The salamander followed her with a cute shuffling movement that looked odd with such a large creature.

As she disappeared, Louise shook a fist in her direction.

"Ooh, that girl gets on my nerves! Just because she summoned a salamander from the Fire Dragon Mountains! Arrrgh!"

"There's no need to get angry my Lady." Alex assured her as he stepped up beside her. "She may have summoned a fine beast, but you've got me."

"Is that meant to make me feel better?! You can determine a mage's true power just by looking at their familiar! Why did that idiot get a salamander, while I got you?"

He knew that she was just saying that because she was not yet aware of what it was that he could do as a Gandálfr, but it was still a bit irritating to hear her dismiss him so casually.

"Louise, I think you still don't understand the full importance of having summoned a human to act as your Summon."

"Hah, I'd have preferred to have gotten a sparrow, at least then I'd have been able to use its eyes to see with. I can't even do that with you." For a moment she seemed to slump in place, then she straightened and turned to him. "Never mind that, let's go to breakfast."

As though it had heard her suggestion his stomach took that moment to growl quite ferociously.

"That might be a good idea." He agreed as he felt his face redden slightly.


-()-


The Academy of Magic's dining hall was the tallest and centremost building on the premises. Inside, three extremely long tables were arranged parallel to each other. Each one looking like it could easily seat a hundred people. The table at which Louise and all the second years sat was the middle table.

"Ah, so this is the famed Alviss Dining Hall," Alex commented as he looked around, "Most fitting for such a famed place of learning."

"Oh, so you know of it? Feel suitably grateful, normally a commoner like you would never set foot inside this great hall."

"The summoning told me of it. Still it is quite a thing to see it with one's own eyes." Alex replied as he stared at the various statues that lined the edges of the hall.

The two came to a stop as Louise paused before an empty chair; almost absently Alex pulled it out for her as he continued to look around the great room. As Louise sat down he leaned down slightly to address her.

"I doubt there's a place for me here since I don't imagine the serving staff is aware of me yet. Tell you what, I'll head down to the kitchens and see if I can get myself something to eat there. I heard that there's some kind of half day off later so that the students can spend a bit more time with their familiars. I'll meet back up with you then so we can discuss thing somewhat better. Till then you go to classes and I'll try and familiarize myself with this place."

He was well aware that the bowl filled with thin soup and a few scraps of meat was meant for him, but he'd be damned before he sat on the floor and ate like a dog. Not giving his Summoner a chance to answer he turned and headed towards one of the doors out of the hall.

It seemed that luck was on his side, after following a few of the servants that were bringing food to the hall he found the kitchens just as Siesta was arriving as well.

"Ah, hello again." He greeted her as the bright colours of the mantle he wore drew her eye, "I've come to see if I can find something to quieten down this unruly fellow." He grinned as he gently thumped his belly. With almost theatrical timing his stomach chose that moment to grumble once more.

Siesta giggled at his antics and gestured for him to follow her.

"Don't worry mister familiar, I'm sure that we can find something to quieten your problem."

Alex had to duck his head a bit to get through the door, but once he was inside the kitchen he found that despite its outside appearance the ceiling was high up enough that he didn't have to risk banging his head. The place had a busy atmosphere to it as cooks and maids bustled around ladling food into dishes and laying out other food on plates. Several of them paused in their work to take a look at the towering and oddly dressed young man that had just entered the room, but quickly returned to their tasks as he passed them by.

"I think that there's still some food left over from the nobles' breakfast. If you don't mind you can eat that."

Alex returned her tentative question with a big grin and a nod of his head.

"I'd be most grateful, thank you."

In just a few minutes the black haired maid had set a plate down in front of him with a couple of chicken legs, some fresh baked bread, a slice of some sort of pie and some fruits that he didn't recognize.

"I'm sorry that it's just the staff meal-"

Alex cut her off by raising a hand.

"This looks positively delicious and more than enough for me. Once again you have my sincerest thanks."

Grabbing a knife and fork that were on the plate he started to carve a strip of flesh off one of the legs, then paused as he realized something.

"Ah, I'm such a fool. This is twice that you've most generously helped me and I still haven't taken the common courtesy to introduce myself." Putting his fork down he turned to face his benefactor. "Please forgive me. I'm Iskander Mest Babylon; might I have the name of the one that has so kindly helped me?"

"I'm Siesta. Is that a noble name?" There was a slight catch in her voice as she said that and he could see her eyes flicking to the rich red of his mantle and the golden embroidery upon it.

"It's like I told that noble girl earlier, I couldn't cast a spell to save my life." He assured her. "In all honesty I have to say that I've been less than impressed by the nobles I've seen since arriving here."

"Oh no! You shouldn't say things like that to nobles!"

"Well I don't plan to lie either. If you want to be regarded as nobility then you'd better damned well act with nobility. If you don't then thing will go the way of the French Revolution."

"The French Revolution?" Siesta sounded confused by the reference.

"About a couple hundred years or so ago there was a country where the nobility became completely detached from those they ruled over. In the end they were living in luxury while the peasants were starving to death. To make a long story short the commoners eventually rose up against the nobility and executed pretty much the lot of them. In a way if things had stopped there then it could have been a great thing, but the people were angry and thirsty for blood. It didn't help that men who were fanatics ended up as the leaders."

He took a mouthful of food and glanced to where Siesta as well as several other members of the staff were listening to him enraptured.

"History came to call it the Reign of Terror, people were arrested and sentenced to execution for the most ridiculous and petty things. Mobs ran riot in the streets and carried out their own 'justice' on anyone who was even accused of allying with the nobility. By the end of the whole wretched affair had claimed something like seventeen thousand victims at the very least, the last being the man that had been running the whole thing."

As he finished talking Alex saw the appalled expressions on everyone's faces.

"Ah, my apologies. The French Revolution was one of my areas of study back during my education; I tend to ramble once I get started."

"Did-Did so many really die?"

The question came from one of the maids that were standing next to Siesta.

"Sadly yes, things were so chaotic and wild back then that the death count might have actually been higher, there's just no way of being certain." Shaking himself he sat up, "Don't be so downhearted, it was a bloody chapter in a country's history, but they recovered from it. These days the country is famous for its food and wine, I spent a few weeks holiday there a couple of years ago."

His good humour seemed to dismiss the rather dark atmosphere that had fallen over the room.

"Oh? Have you been to many countries mister Babylon?" Siesta asked.

"Just Iskander is fine," he assured her as he took a swig of water. "My parents were from different countries and the place where I lived was pretty close to some borders, so travelling wasn't that hard."

"Do you have a large family?" Siesta asked. As she did so the other maids and cooks began to return to their duties, it seemed that talking about his family wasn't as entertaining as tales of bloody executions.

"Yes, I've got two sisters, one older and one younger. In fact my older sister got married just last year. It was . . ."


-()-


Alex stood on the roof of one of the school's towers and gazed out over the vast fields that could be seen from these heights.

Breakfast had been a couple of hours ago and though he'd been having a fine time chatting with the friendly maid he'd decided to get on with trying to learn how to get around the school without getting lost. After a few false starts he'd finally worked out where thing were and begun to get a decent idea of how to navigate the various corridors and hallways. He still didn't have the whole place down yet, not by half, but at least he now had a good idea of how to find Louise's room and how to get to various places from there.

Now he was standing here and relaxing as he tried to plan his next move.

Or at least that had been the plan. In practice he was in fact staring at the markings on the back of his right hand and trying to work out what they were. Did they perhaps signify some sort of link to books? Perhaps it was like his Gandálfr runes and wouldn't activate until he actually held a book in his hands. Arrrgh, this was so frustrating. His thoughts just kept on chasing themselves round in circles in his head.

"Why don't you just show me what you are you blasted scar."

Perhaps it was just his frustration but he'd actually addressed the comment at the marking out loud, hardly something he normally did.

Therefore he was very surprised when the out-of-character action drew a reaction from the markings on his hand.

The scar lines that made up the form of the book seemed to light up as though with internal illumination. Alex barely had time to blink in surprise before the glow suddenly flashed into a blinding light that left him seeing spots before his eyes. Alex stumbled back and ended up tripping over his own feet as he missed a step. Landing heavily on his rump he frantically blinked his eyes as he tried to clear his vision of the black and white spots dancing before his eyes.

Bit by bit his sight returned, though when it did so he had to blink a few more times to make sure that he wasn't in fact hallucinating.

Hovering in the air in front of him was a book. To be more accurate it was the book that he'd seen last night, the book that had eaten pretty much everything he owned and then electrocuted him. In other words it was not a book that he was too happy to see again.

Still, despite his misgivings he reached out to catch the book as it drifted down to him as slowly as though it were a feather. As he did so he noted that the scar lines on his right hand were now gone.

As soon as it settled into his grip he could feel its weight returning, but had no trouble in holding onto it. For a moment he sat there and simply studied the tome that he now held.

It was quite a large book a good foot by nine inches and at least three inches thick. The cover was bound in thick dark brown leather with no design or words upon it. This time there was no shocking jolt or searing pain, and that was definitely a good sign. With a shrug Alex tried to open it on a random page half way through.

Emphasis on 'tried'.

It was as though the pages were made of steel and welded together, he simply couldn't pry them apart. And yet when he just let the book fall open as it would the pages moved as though they were just normal paper. Frowning slightly he looked down at where the book had fallen open. If he had to guess he'd say that it was about ten or twenty pages into the book. However when he saw what was on the page such thoughts were banished from his mind and replaced with incredulity.

On the page was a picture of himself in his Rider costume. It was a pretty good picture if he did say so himself and was clearly something that had been drawn and then painted by hand rather than just printed. Then he looked at what was written on the page across from the picture and he felt his jaw drop in astonishment.

Alex Rivers/ Iskander

Alignment: Neutral Good

Class: Rider/Gandálfr

Height: 194cm

Weight: 97kg

( ) = When boosted by Mark of the Gandálfr

Strength: B (A)

Endurance: A

Agility: D (B)

Mana: B

Luck: B

N. Phantasm: A+

Class Skills:

Magic Resistance: C

Cancel spells with a chant below two verses. Cannot defend against Magecraft on the level of High-Thaumaturgy and Greater Rituals.

Riding: A+

Creatures on the level of Phantasmal Beast and Divine Beast can be used as mounts. However, that does not apply to members of the Dragon Kind.

Expert of Many Specializations: A

As a Servant of the Gandálfr class this skill allows the use of any weapon the Servant comes into contact with as though it were a favoured weapon with years of mastery and training in it regardless of how exotic a weapon it may be.

Personal Skills:

Charisma: B

Suitable for a king of a country or to command a country's military.

Military Tactics: B

Suitable to command an army of many thousands to great effect as well as provide a bonus modifier during the use of an Anti-Army Noble Phantasm or when dealing against an enemy Anti-Army Noble Phantasm.

Noble Phantasms

Gordius Wheel: Wheel of Heaven's Authority

Type: Anti-Army Rank: A+ Range: 2-50 Maximum Number of Targets: 100

Mark of the Gandálfr: Mastery of All Weapons

Type: Anti-Unit Rank: A Range: 1 Maximum Number of Targets: 30

/-/-/

This is the Default avatar of Alex, the one that he will naturally revert to when the power sustaining his other avatars is exhausted. Unlike his other avatars this one has the ability to wield weapons and tools from other sources than its own series as well as being able to acquire new skills and Noble Phantasms.

Stats? More than that these were the stats of a Servant from the Fate series, and they were for him?

This-This was absurd, utterly ridiculous.

Except . . .

Except that he hadn't been strong enough to break oak furniture like toothpicks before. He hadn't thought in terms of military strategy with the same ease with which he spoke his own language. And he certainly couldn't hold to a role that he was playing so easily without stuttering or stumbling over his words.

And yet all of these things had happened to him since coming to this world.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself he looked over the details of his stats again with more attentive eyes. His rankings seemed to be the same as the Iskander in Fate Zero as far as the physical stats were concerned. His luck seemed to be reduced from the extremely high rank of A+ to the merely formidable rank of B, however his Mana seemed to be at the B rank rather than the original C rank.

If this was to be taken seriously then it meant that he wasn't as lucky as the Rider he was imitating, but he was able to handle more magical power than the original had.

The Class and Personal skills were somewhat different as well. For one he seemed to have the Expert of Many Specializations ability as a class skill. Looking back at the top of the page he saw that his Class was defined as Rider/Gandálfr, a dual Class? That had never come up in the Fate series, here though it seemed to mean that he got an extra Skill that Rider hadn't possessed.

There were a couple of other changes too, his Magic Resistance was a full rank higher than the original Iskander's had been, however it looked as though the Divinity Personal Skill wasn't there at all. By the looks of things that had been traded for a slightly increased resistance to magical attacks.

B rank in both Charisma and Military Tactics, could that be the reason for some of what was happening? Charisma would certainly explain how he was managing to pull off his speeches and conversations so much more easily than normal. Alex wasn't a shy fellow but he wasn't any sort of speechifyer either. Given some of what he'd done, just randomly pulling words out of his head and throwing them together because he thought they might sound good, he should have stumbled or at least have lost the thread at least once. Instead he'd been able to carry on with no problems at all.

The same could be said about Military Tactics, it certainly explained why when he'd thought about Saito's battle against an army it had seemed so clear to him how the army could be broken with the right men and means. Most of the time he didn't even like tactics based computer games, yet there he'd been planning out an entire battlefield.

More and more it was looking as though what was depicted in this book was actually real. It wasn't simply his costume and props that had become real armour and weapons, he himself had taken on the qualities of the Servant that he had dressed up as.

Looking at the section on Noble Phantasms he noted that Ionioi Hetairoi wasn't there. Instead there a new Noble Phantasm that embodied his status as a Gandálfr. That was something of a disappointment given that the Army of the King was an insanely powerful asset to have at one's disposal. If his memories of the Familiar of Zero series were anything to go on then in almost any situation it would be a game winning card to play.

On the other hand he supposed he could see why he didn't possess it. The most fundamental basis of that Noble Phantasm had been the bond between the King and his soldiers that it had represented. Alex didn't possess that bond and as such had no right to expect that kind of power.

Of course by the same token he shouldn't have had the Gordius Wheel to call upon and yet there it was. Almost without thought his hand went to the short sword at his waist.

Could it be true? Could he really call upon that magnificent chariot with just a swing of his sword? He could feel it now, now that he was looking for it. A sort of tenseness within him, like a muscle that was coiled to spring and was just waiting for the right moment to come.

He could do it.

The thought crystallized in his mind with absolute certainty. He just knew that if he swung the sword just so then it would open a tear in the world through which his chariot would come through. And not only that, he'd be able to ride it as well, he could feel the knowledge of how to pull and snap the reigns to direct the bull grow in his mind as he thought about it. Hell, if he wanted to he could ride a horse, a camel, a dragon or an elephant, the knowledge and skills of how to do so were right there in his mind, as clear as his own name.

A+ rank Riding, probably a good skill to have since horses and carriages were the way to get around in this world and Alex had only ridden a horse once in his entire life and that had been when he was eleven.

For a moment he was tempted to make the swing of his sword and summon the chariot, simply so that he could feel its power and experience the thrill of driving it with these new skills. However it was only a momentary impulse that was swiftly quashed by logic. A Noble Phantasm wasn't a toy to play with; it was a trump card to be reserved.

Or used to impress one's partner he supposed, recalling the actions of the real Iskander in his Holy Grail War.

Turning his attention back to the book he turned the page to see what was next.

The next page had a number of drawings upon it of the chariot and bulls that he'd just been thinking about. The pictures were coloured in inks and resembled the concept drawings for the vehicle that he'd seen on the internet. On the page across from the pictures was a description of the uses and abilities of the Noble Phantasm set out in a way similar to the entry for it on the Type-MOON wiki. There were some subtle differences, but for the most part they were simply the words referring to him rather than the original Iskander and a couple of comments about how this Noble Phantasm was compatible with Mark of the Gandálfr.

The two pages were apparently devoted to the new Noble Phantasm that he'd gain with the Gandálfr class. On one page was a large printed copy of the runes burnt onto the back of his left hand while the page across from it had a description of the abilities imparted by those runes. Intuitive knowledge to use weapons of any kind, augmentation to physical abilities, the conversion of emotions into power, a link to the one that imparted the runes. Pretty much all that he had been expecting given his knowledge of the series and the exploits of Saito.

However after that no more pages would turn. Frowning again Alex flicked back to the part with his stats and took note of what was written at the bottom. 'This is the Default avatar of Alex', this implied that there were other avatars, whatever they were. Also 'Unlike his other avatars this one has the ability to wield weapons and tools from other sources than its own series', that implied that there would be weapons from other series to wield. Could that mean that all the possessions that the book had sucked up were still available to him somehow?

There was something going on here that he didn't quite get, but for the time being he was willing to roll with it. One thing he did know was that he'd received a considerable boost in power, much more than he'd expected to have when he decided to go with being Louise's familiar. Servants might not be invincible, but having the power of Rider would certainly improve his chances of living long enough to . . .

To . . . what? That was a question that he'd been subconsciously avoiding. Should he try to go home? For that matter could he go home? He knew that if he flew into an eclipse then there was a chance that he'd return to Earth, but would it be his Earth? Might he not end up on the world of Hiraga Saito instead, a world where there might already be an Alex Rivers?

And that aside there was also the moral questions to be asked. Should he abandon this world to the path it might well follow if he wasn't there? Leave Louise to die covering an army's retreat, leave Tabitha to continue as the pawn of her uncle, leave that uncle to burn the world in his demented schemes to reignite his emotions?

Hah, who was he kidding? He knew damned well that if he left these folks in the lurch then it would haunt him for the rest of his life. They were good people at the end of the day; even the skirt chasing Guiche or his tsundere Summoner, they certainly didn't deserve to be abandoned.

Alex enjoyed writing, and during the course of his writing he'd come up with a creed that he liked. He knew it was not a realistic code to live by, but he felt that simply trying to stick with it was a good way of living one's life.

Live your life as you see fit, go to your grave without regrets.

He knew that it was an unrealistic creed to try to uphold, after all everyone had regrets, if only small ones. Still he could honestly say that there wasn't much in his life that he regretted and certainly no major regrets so far. But leaving before things were settled, leaving when he knew it could cost lives, that was something that he'd regret big time.

He was brought out of his ruminations by the sound of a sudden explosion in the school building some distance away from the spot where he sat. Ah yes, that must be where Louise was having her lesson he guessed. In the series it as also where Saito first learnt of her tendency to cause every spell she tried to result in an explosion. As it stood Alex had neatly avoided being caught up in the general mayhem following her attempt at a spell.

Still if memory served correctly then Louise was punished by having to clear up the room that she'd blown up without using any magic of her own. For a small girl like her that can't have been easy, and right now she didn't have Saito beside her to help out. Ah well, he'd decided to be her familiar, though he wasn't going to accept that title, Summon sounded much better, he'd best go and help his little Summoner.

As he got up he glanced down at the book in his hands.

"Guess I'm going to be having to lug you around until I find somewhere safe to put you."

As soon as he'd finished saying the joking words the book suddenly glowed with a white light . . . then faded out of sight as though it were nothing more than a dream. Alex felt a slight sting on the back of his right hand and glanced down to see that the thin scar lines making up the picture of a book were once more there on his skin.

"Hmm, interesting." This called for further experimentation in the future. Right now though he had to go and aid his beleaguered Summoner.


-()-


"You should have been here when I needed you, not wandering around the school." Louise grumbled as she righted another chair and brushed some dust off it.

"I hardly think following you into lessons would have been a good use of my available time," Replied Alex as he heaved a table that had been overturned back into the correct position. "I was able to get a good meal, establish friendly relations with the servant staff and familiarize myself with the layout of this place. All in all I'd say that was time quite well spent."

He took a moment to look around the room, to take in just how scattered all the furniture was, not to mention the soot stains and slight burns.

"This really is quite impressive my Lady, did you really manage all this with just one spell?"

"It was just a little mistake," she grumbled in reply as she used a damp clothe to wipe the soot off another chair that she had just righted. "Just a slight screw up. I don't see why everyone's making such a fuss over it."

With a rather marvellous sense of timing the blackboard chose that moment to give up the ghost and topple over in a loud crash as it broke into four separate parts. Alex didn't need to say a thing; he simply raised one eyebrow and looked at his pink haired Summoner who had the grace to blush.

"At how much of a distance could you perform such an explosion?" the red haired young man asked as he moved to pick up the pieces of broken blackboard.

"Huh? I don't know I've never tried."

"Perhaps we should set aside some time in the future to perform some experiments," he suggested. "I can think of a number of uses for such an explosion if you can make it at a distance. Hah, just imagine what it could do to an enemy supply line if you could sneak behind them. Not only would it kill some of them but the noise and the explosion itself would scatter them like leaves in a gale. It would be a nightmare trying to get it back in order."

He continued to pick up the various pieces of the board's frame until he realized he couldn't hear any noises coming from Louise. Glancing over at her he saw that she was staring at him in perplexed amazement.

"What's wrong?"

"You-you think this explosion is good?" Her voice was hesitant, oddly fragile.

"Well you can obviously make explosions of considerable power, and any sort of destructive power is always an asset to a military. Tell me, what spell were you attempting when you caused all this?"

"Errr, basic earth transmutation."

"Hah! You try to simply transform something and this happens? Just think what you might be able to accomplish with a spell that's meant to cause an explosion. We're going to have to put some time aside to practice and experiment my Summoner, just you wait. We'll drag out that potential of yours by the scruff of its neck if need be."

The room grew silent once more save for the sound of Alex's work as the pink haired young girl continued to stare at him.

"You . . . you think I've got potential?"

There was no mistaking the fragile hope in that voice. Alex almost kicked himself as he realized just how delicate the poor girl's ego was at this point. She still had no idea of her true power, of her elemental affinity. Right now she was simply a young girl that had never been able to get a spell to work right in her life. He represented her first success, and she was willing to grab onto anything that reassured her that she wasn't totally without talent with a death grip.

"Of course! I am a powerful summon, therefore it goes without saying that my Summoner must be of an equal tier. If you are having trouble with your magic it simply means that we'll have to find some other way that suits you more."

He made the declaration with as much confidence as he could manage which, much to his own surprise, was quite a lot. It seemed to have some effect on Louise because she ducked her head and then turned away to work on another chair.

"Hmph, as though a commoner like you is a powerful familiar."

The words were derisive, but the new Gandálfr allowed himself a private smile as he noted that they lacked any real force to them.