Crawling to the Dawn
a Fate series fanfiction written by The Overlord Bear
Summary: Shirou Emiya ends up summoning a certain treacherous Knight of the Round Table as his Servant for the Fifth Holy Grail War, and said Servant is a somewhat sane Berserker to boot…a Berserker who then ends up wanting to smack some sense into him and a bunch of other people.
Previous Chapter: Splits and Strokes
First Chapter: E-Rank Luck
Chapter 8: On the Line
“You could have left me to die.”
The blonde child was smiling as he said that to the latest Archer. Gilgamesh, even in this younger form, still looked eerie with that smile, and the night illumination did not make it any better.
But in his silent response, Archer remembered the stupidity of what he did.
“It was just me giving up, I guess,” Archer told the young Gilgamesh. He looked down on the Emiya Estate from the wall they were sitting on. “I think you’d understand after doing a bunch of things worse than inciting the wrath of the egotistic King of Heroes.”
Young Gil chuckled. “Well, even Fakers have their pride,” he said. “I guess it is a fortune that I took my Potion of Youth partially, otherwise you would not be blessed with a fate lower than a mongrel’s.”
“I could do better if you were nicer,” Archer retorted.
“True,” Gilgamesh replied, “But what is a hero without a harsh mentor? Besides, you do not look very friendly with children, or with adults who act like children.”
Archer sighed. This was the best he could get now, and he wasn’t going to waste it.
After some more silence, Archer asked something.
“You know who I am, right?”
“Why, you are a possible future of the Master of Berserker,” Gilgamesh answered, still smiling. “Though you do not look like you had Berserker before. You even look like you expected Saber.”
“I’m now feeling more thankful that your adult form is very full of himself,” Archer quipped with a flat look. A part of him always thought that familiar people not recognizing him was a miracle, but still, it was humiliating to be told off about how bad of a liar he was.
“Indeed, but you would be a mongrel of a Faker if I lived on as an adult,” the golden boy replied. “And my adult form does not like bothering with mongrels much, let alone Fakers. But that part of your identity is not what you want to talk about, yes?”
“Yeah. I just want to ask about the Fourth Holy Grail War. After all this time, I just realized that I hadn’t bothered to wonder more about what really brought Shirou Emiya upon the world.”
Gilgamesh laughed again. “You certainly are a pitiful imitation of a hero, Faker. And to think that your imitation swords function better than you do.”
“Can you revert yourself back to the careless adult you usually are?” Archer growled.
“Yes, but that would be missing more entertaining things,” Gilgamesh smirked back. “Now, come and listen to the King of Heroes’ grand account of the Fourth Holy Grail War.”
If she were more distant from the old man, Sakura would have despised him for giving her such maddening powers, but in this case, she was already mad enough for her to handle them with great focus.
And indeed, Sakura was mad, and not just in the sense of being insane, but also in the sense of being enraged. Perhaps it was cruelty, but she was feeling very unvindicated, and the slowness of everyone she once held dear made her want to share her pain with them.
Especially her sister. Especially Rin. Dear Rin. She was very much a fool, brooding so much like that when she could’ve used her reckless forwardness to just save her damned younger sister like she did for her stupid friend long before. Oh, and Sakura did hear of that story before. The old man told her about it during one training session, because he was always watching everything.
And that was just one piece of the tall pile. Of course, Senpai and Sensei did not need to be involved, for they were too precious to Sakura. Nor would Senpai’s Servant as well, for she would be there to give Rin an even harder time.
…and then he called her name, but the way he called her made her stop.
Looking up to the tall and tanned man sitting on the high and thick fence, Sakura’s shadow stood in place as a black blob with crimson lines. He should already know her name, but he should not be saying her name like he knew who she was and everything there was to know about her. Sakura knew no other male who cared for her that much, and Uncle Kariya did not look like that. If what she knew about the Holy Grail War was true, then…
She saw the other figure sitting beside him.
He looked younger, but she had a feeling that it was the same man who asked her to kill herself once. That golden hair and those red eyes were hard to miss, after all. Those eyes were also looking at her, and his presence held no vagueness.
Sakura had her shadow run away immediately. She let out weeping laughter as she sunk back into the shadows of the Matou Manor.
Shaking her head as her mind went back to her own body, she remembered the one thing she wanted before everything else:
Yes, that was what she needed right now. She needed lots of it. She already had lots of power, so now she needed lots of control over it.
And to get that control, she needed to break the chains she had left. Zouken, Rin…even Senpai.
She’ll get her order and freedom back. She knew she would.
This time, it was in the house of her Master. She knew because she had been to this particular doorway connected to the yard.
The moon shone brightly up in the sky. The little son sat beside his hunched father.
Looking more closely, she realized that the both of them looked so close to death. The father had gaunt cheeks and pale skin, and even his smile was tinged with sadness. The son, meanwhile, had King Arthur’s scabbard inside him, but he still had hollow eyes and flat lips.
They were also talking about dreams. The dreams were about being heroes. The father was going on about never being able to save anyone until he saved his son, while the son promised to continue his dreams.
“You don’t need to, Shirou.”
The father suddenly said that, ruffling his son’s hair in the process. The son looked surprised, and he looked up at his father.
“But you saved me,” the son also said.
“And that’s why I want – no, NEED to save a loved one I can still save.”
The son didn’t understand those last words he ever heard from his father.
She wasn’t sure about what to think there. She saw fools in front of her, desperate fools wanting to be heroes when they already were. She envied them so much, the true color of her eyes made the envy seem like she was born with it.
If only she had been born not as a monster undeserving of the glorious humanity perversely merged into her rotten soul…
But maybe she could make things right for the true heroes. She may have been destined to be a villain, but it would not do if her fellow performers, whether hero or villain, did not stick to the roles they were assigned to.
And if Father was happy, then she too would be happy.
“GOOD MORNING, SHIROU!”
It was quite a strange time for Shirou Emiya. Not only was he sleeping in his actual bedroom, he was also awakened in ways as forceful as being flipped out of his futon. Such ways of awakening happened two mornings in a row already.
And if the shameless giggling, the toe-powered cheek poking, and the close overhead face were to be considered, he was housing a lot more special guests. He hadn’t even mentioned how pretty much his whole body was burning up at the moment.
“I’ll handle the cooking and everything for now,” the deep voice of Archer declared somewhere. “Kid’s gonna need all the strength he can get.”
And then there was a sigh, which was followed by footsteps that caused the red-eyed face and the bare toe to move away.
Before he could even try to understand anything, Shirou was pulled by the front of his collar. Then, he received two slaps, one per cheek.
“Berserker is Mordred of the Round Table and has an appointment with King Arthur later, Saber is King Arthur and under the Einzbern, Sakura is my biological younger sister and the Master of Rider, Archer killed Shinji and got my father’s Archer, Kirei is a damn backstabbing snake who also stole Lancer, and Fujimura-sensei is probably the sanest one among us right now!”
Shirou had to blink out a little bit of spittle from that expository explosion caused by a high-strung Rin Tohsaka. She was looking even more unhinged than last night, and thanks to Shirou really getting burnt out after having her open his Magic Circuits, he hadn’t known about the exposition that made Tohsaka snap even more.
“As long as she isn’t kissing you, then just let her vent, Shirou,” Fuji-nee went in the background, one hand on her hip and the other on the back of her head. “This is definitely a lot, even for me.”
Shirou felt himself released, only to witness a clearly uncomposed Tohsaka tugging at her twintails.
“Oh, perhaps I should reintroduce myself to you, Emiya-san,” said the red-eyed boy with golden hair, who was sitting with his legs crossed beside Shirou. “My name is Gilgamesh, the Archer summoned during the Fourth Holy Grail War. My current residence in this time and place is with the current Overseer and repeat Master named Kirei Kotomine, and I was once Tokiomi Tohsaka’s Servant. I also apologize for any harm my older self brought upon you all.”
Shirou could only blink at that, while Tohsaka screamed “KIREI!” to the ceiling.
“Hey, you better thank me for getting this bastard literally down to size, Master,” Berserker entered with another toe to her Master’s cheek. “This kid’s older self was a bitch.”
The boy named Gilgamesh only sighed at that as he scratched the back of his head.
“DAMN YOU, FATHER!” Tohsaka screamed.
“Oh, speaking of fathers,” Gilgamesh suddenly reentered, eyes widened in recall, “I think your father was in the Fourth Holy Grail War. He was Saber’s Master, and…he had an Einzbern wife, I think? They’re probably the current Einzbern Master’s parents, too…”
“Ah, I should have smacked Kiri back to his family in the first place!” Fuji-nee declared. “But wait, could that also be why he never came back here?”
“Hey, maybe we should just play catch up with Father later tonight,” Berserker growled, lying down and then doing sit-ups. “Just watching you idiots being idiots is more tiring than I can handle.”
“Ah, it has been a while since I went to that castle!” the golden boy declared, eyes lit up with excitement. “We will not have wine this time, but we shall still have fun!”
Shirou gave off a blank stare in reply. Not even a thought of Sakura Matou had him snapping out of that. His body was also burning up, but he knew that he had to stay up, so he sat down, though with closed eyes.
The next thing he managed to comprehend was when Archer came back to call everyone to breakfast.
Though breakfast was surprisingly quiet. Everyone was staring or glaring at their food, except for Archer, who was giving flat looks at his silent companions the whole time.
Near a certain park teeming with grass and trees but barren of people and even animals, a certain cerulean-haired woman with hidden elfin ears walked towards it. Above, she wore a double-breasted jean jacket over a black shirt, while below, she wore a long tan skirt and black leather boots. A shoulder also bag hung on her right side, and her gaze was set upon a lone figure standing on the grass.
This woman’s strange beauty was currently subdued by her creasing brow. The place she was walking towards had a sort of persisting grayness to it, making the areas she had gone through before coming here seem a lot more radiant with this winter day’s fair weather. Whispers already made her aware about how haunted this place was, but of course, experiencing something in direct and immediate contact with one’s own five senses would give something starkly different.
The figure waiting on the grass was a female one, looking away at first until she called. She was a young lady who seemed to have similar fashion tastes, wearing an open and black leather jacket over a white shirt above, while below was a black skirt and white sandals. Even more striking was her white-streaked purple hair, its fringe hanging over red eyes. Also striking was her left arm, which was covered by a black cloth with red lines, wisps coming out of it.
And then there was the young lady’s smile. Medea of Colchis knew a vengeful smile when she saw one.
“You are the Master of Rider?” the Fifth Holy Grail War’s Caster asked. A certain blindfolded figure had given a hands-up alert to her gate guardian before asking for his Master, who received an invitation to a meeting at the Fuyuki Central Park.
“Yes,” the Master of Rider answered, still wearing that smile, though with closed eyes. “My name is Sakura Matou. You can call me Sakura.”
“That close?” Caster questioned. After all, as far as she knew, first-name basis was a very serious thing in Japanese culture. “Who do you think I am, then?” she added, making a small smile as well.
When Sakura opened her eyes and widened her smile, Medea felt like she was looking at herself, holding misery with glee as she held it as a weapon to strike back against the ones who gave it to her in the first place.
It was both a saddening and gladdening sight.
“I envy you, Medea of Colchis. Grandfather has been watching you and your new lover, and if what he says is true, then like him, I do envy you very much.”
The Witch of Betrayal was a little taken aback by that response, but she quickly realized why it should not be a surprise. She also began to understand where those disgusting bug familiars were coming from.
“You fought to have your way,” Sakura continued, “And you won a precious time from it, no matter how short it would be in the end.”
Sakura then raised her left arm, showing an open palm and its burning energy to Medea.
“Still,” the Master of Rider followed, “Fate will not allow you to have it any longer. You will have to return to that cursed everyday where you are simply a tool for the entertainment of some twisted beings above and beyond.”
“You want me to help with your vengeance, then, young lady?” Medea then asked, face now hardened. “It’s certainly easy to see. I only hope that you would not lose sight of happiness, no matter how distant it is.”
“Is that a refusal?”
Suddenly, there was a nail right by Caster’s neck, its owner having asked the above question. Still…
“No,” Caster calmly answered, her smile coming back, even. “I only wish to warn you that vengeance can lead to easier regrets, though I do not disagree with giving it to those who deserve it. In other words, you need to control it well before controlling everything else, and I shall be glad to help you there.”
“She’s right, Rider,” Sakura agreed, eyes closed as she continued to smile while lowering her left arm. “I need better control, for I have all this power I have never imagined myself having before. Besides, I think I’m just excited to be able to work with the Witch of Colchis. You do not need to be scared, Rider. We shall be in good hands.”
Medea heard Rider grunt as the nail was taken away, though the former could still feel the distrust. No surprise, of course, especially since she was the Witch of Betrayal, and they were in a War where the winner shall be the last Master-Servant pair standing. But Caster had no plans beyond staying with her dear Souichirou for as long as she could, and she would only go after anyone who was enough of a threat to that.
And so far, in all her honesty, Medea saw Rider shoot up to the top of her list there. Not even those who made that recent explosion in the city were enough of a threat to her yet. Saber looked quite charming, and so was her “son,” but she could patiently wait for them to come to her.
So now, it was only this blindfolded and protective nail-wielder who could pose an immediate threat to her. Rider here looked like she wanted to take her Master’s fate into her own hands with how tense she was. Managing those lesser threats and getting those cute girls would simply be a bonus to Caster in this alliance.
In other words…
“Indeed, you shall be in good hands. Shall we go shopping for dinner, then?”
…Medea was going to have a change of plans.
“Good morning, Papa.”
Compared to the rest of the more electrically powered castle, Illyasviel von Einzbern was in a place where she had to light a candle by herself. She did not mind that, for it made the place a lot more solemn to her.
After all, it was in the attic, the highest room in the castle, where Kiritsugu Emiya’s body was preserved.
This time, Illya had Saber accompany her. Said Servant was silent as she stood behind her Master.
“At a loss for words, Your Majesty?” Illya asked, deciding to sound a little playful for now. “I’m sorry, Papa wasn’t able to say much about you when he came back. I only had vague childhood memories and the old robot’s lectures to go with before you were summoned.”
And then Saber stepped forward, her grave expression within the candlelight as she looked upon the body in the glass-topped coffin. The body wore those dark and rotting clothes that made him look more like a dump. Though in contrast, its face did have a small smile, a sight which had been burned into Illya’s memory ever since she was a child.
“The last time I saw him smile,” Saber then said, “Was when I saw him carrying you on his shoulders in Germany. You were looking for walnuts in the snow at that time.”
But Illya was more fascinated than nostalgic about that memory, and that was because that time had become a vaguer memory to her ever since she saw her Papa come back and die. She didn’t bother to know more about that just by herself and the Einzbern, since one, she knew that she had been lied to by the corrupted Grail ever since her Papa came back, and two, the rest of the Einzbern were too prideful and ambitious to just listen to what they considered a tool for their quest to the Root.
In other words, Illya could more easily learn about the specks of light in her mostly dark past through her strangely remembering Servant.
“That was quite a short time, no?” Illya asked, side by side with her Servant as they both looked upon Kiritsugu Emiya’s body. “And then came the times when you hated him.”
“Yes,” Saber answered. “A knight has his code of honor, but he was no knight. Instead of swords and sorcery, he had traps and firearms. His dreams mattered more than his loved ones, and I despised that. He would have been better off with a Caster or an Assassin, but he wanted what was considered the strongest Servant, as if a Servant were simply a tool with no will, intellect, and feelings of its own. I had even tried to consider myself as such when I realized that I was to be summoned again.”
Illya then gave more of a look at Saber, who was beginning to tremble a little with her clenched fists by her sides.
“I shall be frank: He deserved the pain he received,” Saber continued after a deep breath, closing her eyes this time as her trembling stilled. “But I am glad that he truly atoned for his sins as much as he could before he died. I don’t know what I would do if I had to come to this world again to know that he had wasted himself away here after leaving you behind and taking another child into his care.”
“But you’re here with me now,” Illya remarked, looking back at her father’s body.
“Yes, I am here with you now, Illya,” Saber replied. “And I now envy him for being able to face his own shortcomings.”
Blinking, Illya looked at Saber again, and with more curiosity this time.
“I do not think I had told you this before,” the King of Knights continued, “But I wanted to win the Grail to change the past, so to speak.”
At that, Illya was baffled. Saber was King Arthur, after all, and even with all the darkness in her and her Knights’ legends, the world looked up to the figure she was known as. Besides, all the heroes she knew always had to struggle to become great.
Still, the Einzbern Master remained silent, letting her Servant have her moment. It even seemed like Saber was finally figuring out herself.
“The fall of my kingdom is a burden that I still carry upon my soul,” Saber followed up, “But after all I have been through recently, I realized that it is not the fall of my kingdom that weighs upon me the most. Instead, it is the fall of my dear friends and loved ones. Without them, I would not have been able to lead our kingdom to greatness. Even Mordred, I cannot discount there. Even though I still see myself as one undeserving of what I had been destined to do, they put so much faith in me, so much that they dared to risk their honor for me.”
At that point, Saber’s eyes were closed again, but this time, they were leaking tears, all as her body trembled again.
“Perhaps the Rider of the Fourth War had a point, then,” the King of Knights said with a teary smile, one that even turned into a smirk. “But I can boast that I and my people are better than him and his people, for even though I had not held pride like his, my own friends and loved ones still dared to have faith in me, even though we also had to suffer the consequences of our accursed sins as a result.”
Illya honestly didn’t know that much about the Fourth War yet, but she was glad that Saber was getting herself back together better. With that, she gave an embrace to the somewhat taller girl, surprising Saber a bit before she hugged Illya back.
“And that’s why I don’t hate you even though you pissed me off with that insult to my Papa,” Illya commented with a smile to her Servant. “I come from a heartless clan, but my parents have hearts!”
Saber laughed at that, and then she wiped the tears off her eyes. “You certainly are a striking combination of your parents, Illya.”
“And you still need to deal with your ‘son!'” the Einzbern Master also dared to add with a wider grin. “I think she got her lunacy from a certain someone, after all!”
“Well, you are right,” the Servant of the Sword agreed with a chuckle. “I hope there will not be too much property damage, then. This place is quite beautiful.”
“Eh, you should already know that castles are meant to take hits, Your Majesty, and we can always fight outside,” Illya replied with a wave of her hand. “And besides, any fool who tries to do some bad things to the precious things inside this castle will have to deal with those new and improved traps I made out of Papa’s blueprints and ribs!”
And then Illya blinked, as if remembering something.
“Oh yeah, have I told you about how I sent the Overseer a special gift today?”
At that, Saber blinked as well, gaining a puzzled expression.
“See, I just recently realized something important, which we’ll talk about after the issue with Mordred is dealt with,” Illya continued, “But in advance, I just decided to have Sella and Leysritt take some time to see how he’ll react to something with Papa’s ground bones on him…”
At this point, Lancer had just understood more about how cursed his Master truly was.
It all started when someone knocked upon the door of the church and left a gift-wrapped box there. From what he had observed before, it was left by one of those Einzbern maids, but while Lancer had suspicions about it, Kotomine was with him as they went to the door. The priest didn’t even look worried, and he even laughed when he read the card attached to it!
And speaking of the card, it went like so:
Papa says hi.
It was handwritten, but Lancer could not go into further detail about it, especially not after Kirei ripped the package open to reveal a contraption of plastic and metal, which immediately exploded just as the two of them realized what it was.
Strangely, though, it was just an explosion of smoke…but then the disappearance of the smoke revealed something else.
That was when Lancer found quite a surprise.
The sight of Kirei Kotomine’s face impaled by small yet sharp metal spikes was a gruesome one, but that was nothing new to the war-hardened Cu Chulainn. What surprised him was how the spikes dissolved into his skin, the blood leaking out of the wounds also sizzling with a dark energy that covered the wounds back into unblemished skin. Even a pierced eye of his became reformed with that energy!
And while his Master laughed out loud, Lancer felt even more unsettled. He was no stranger to things like cursed spears and war cruelties, but he had a feeling that Kotomine was on a worse level. In other words, Cu Chulainn had met evil people before, but he had never met someone made out of pure evil. Or if Kotomine was not made of pure evil, then this Servant of the Spear was not familiar with a soul that embraced such grave curses, even to the point of being buried by them.
Cu Chulainn decided to look away from his Master for now, then.
“It appears that we must perform a bigger role soon,” Kotomine declared, his laughter having ended with deep breaths before that. “We shall prepare for a revisit to a certain castle…”
“Well, just make sure that I get some good fights,” Lancer could only say while in spirit form, which he was in the whole time, now unable to work up his usual hot-blooded energy at the moment.
With that, Kotomine turned around to go back inside the church for a while, and Lancer followed.
“Okay, so I got us some motorbikes from my family. I hope you don’t mind if you’ll just float along like a ghost, though, Mr. Archer, ’cause these are just for the ones who can’t do it like you do.”
Archer was grateful that Fuji-nee wasn’t so angry about having broken that motorbike he blocked the day before, but still, he was apprehensive about her attempt at easing their mobility. Not that there was anything wrong with the equipment, since the mopeds she provided were in working order, and one of them even had a sidecar for Rin and the kid.
What had him apprehensive were the drivers’ personalities. Fuji-nee already had dibs on the one with the sidecar, while Berserker was very enthusiastic about driving one by herself. The two wild women were also eyeing each other with a cursed madness about them, especially with one having Mad Enhancement and the other having Tora-Shinai. Plus, Fuji-nee was being too kind to Rin and the kid, allowing those two to stick so close in the sidecar. Even the fact that she provided helmets for them didn’t reassure him enough.
Even Rin and the idiot kid shared his sentiments, judging from their looks. The two of them already had their helmets, and the bias could be seen even there, since while Shirou had a full-face helmet, Rin only had a chin-strapped helmet.
In summary, the three of them knew that this was not going to be a smooth ride at the very least.
Thus, Archer reminded himself to stay close to Fuji-nee’s trike. Berserker could handle herself well enough in case she crashed, but Fuji-nee’s group would be in a lot more danger in this upcoming monster match, so he would have to make sure to put more priority into keeping them safe enough. Hopefully, he would be able to more easily keep them away from creating unnecessary property damage. Fuji-nee would be more willing to do crazier things with that shinai in her hands, after all.
“Hey, is it okay if I just hug you from behind, Sammo-nee?”
Oh, and Archer almost forgot Gil. The golden boy was acting like an innocent child, but Archer knew that he was putting up an act. Then again, Archer had been helping Gil be more creative about pissing people off, and Gil was feeling like being more receptive towards the Faker.
“Well, just hold on tight, then, kid!” Mordred replied with a toothy grin, not even offended by the way Gil referred to her. At the very least, there was less trouble there. “This lion’s gonna beat this tiger!”
And of course, the bloodthirsty knight just had to push that button.
“Oh, you’re on, little cub!” Fuji-nee growled as her eyes glowed red beneath her fringe. “SHIROU! TOHSAKA! GET TO THE SIDECAR! NOW!”
With a palm to his face, Archer prepared himself to vanish and then zoom across the streets in spirit form. Meanwhile, a grinning Berserker went on her moped, Kid Gil hanging on from behind her, right as Rin and the idiot kid got into the sidecar and held on to its front.
“Hey, Archer!” Berserker suddenly called, drawing the tall man out of his facepalm. “Go start the race for us!”
“Archer, I hope I have a powerful enough grudge that would turn me into a Heroic Spirit if I die here,” Rin also threw in, glaring at her Servant as she waited for the inevitable madness.
Meanwhile, the idiot kid was silent, taking everything in like usual as he faced forward and sat disturbingly still.
Still, with a sigh, Archer decided to humor the two wild women, since they were starting to run late after all the preparations they had to do first.
“On your marks…” he started.
The pressed brakes held the motorcycles in place, but the turned throttles had their engines growling.
Fuji-nee showed a thumbs-up to Berserker, only to flip it over and run the tip of it across her neck. Still, Berserker smirked, right as Archer went…
The shouts that came next howled through the streets, loud as the engines that roared with them.
Meanwhile, Archer already vanished, now zooming for Fuji-nee’s group.
“So he’s cursed as well, huh…”
Reviewing the footage recorded by the spy camera Sella and Leysritt set a short distance away from where they left the bomb, Illya found her suspicions confirmed.
“Why had I not noticed him so well, though?” Saber wondered out loud.
“You were probably hellbent on getting the Grail and one-upping Papa, Saber,” Illya snarked with a smirk. “He was also probably that good at hiding. Was he the Master of Assassin back then?”
“Hm, come to think of it…Yes, I think he was,” Saber recalled, looking down in thought. “I regret not having kept closer contact with Kiritsugu, then. I knew all of the Masters except for Assassin’s, so if what Kirei Kotomine told you about himself is true…”
“…then the current Overseer should not be taken lightly,” Illya followed up. “He doesn’t seem like he’s suffering in the way that Papa had with the curse, and the way he continues to exist with that smile on his face has been giving me a sense of wrongness that reminds me of my usual nightmares.”
It wasn’t quite obvious with the demeanor she usually had, but Illya had struggles with nightmares since childhood, particularly after the Fourth Holy Grail War, and even more after her Papa came back. The nightmares would usually involve that cursed thing possessing the Grail, that being of pain and suffering taking the form of her Mama and trying to grow resentment within Illya’s heart. It even tried to take the form of her Papa, trying to make her doubt him by telling her lies about how he only viewed her as a tool for his own twisted dreams. Not like they didn’t affect her, especially after she read up so much about the man also known as the Magus Killer, but she always held on to the fact that not only had she saved a child from the fire he started, he also risked it all to come back to her.
Still, nightmares were nightmares, and Illya rarely awoke from them without her heart racing.
“Considering what you sent him along with the gathering we shall have tonight,” Saber then said, “It would be wise to stay alert, even expecting him to attempt entry into our stronghold. Even if he claims that he had been defeated by Kiritsugu, looking at how the two of them are now does not assure us that he will give an easy encounter.”
“But at the very least, we can call a truce and team up with Onii-chan and the Tohsaka witch in case things go bad,” Illya added with a confident smile, though she did feel sweat upon her brow at the thought of facing that wrongness more clearly…and then there was another thing. “Oh yeah, didn’t we just leave the golden maniac behind after you and Berserker wrecked him with those blasts? He probably knows something we should know, and considering his late Master, maybe the Tohsaka witch knows something about him.”
“Really?” Saber questioned with a twitch in one eye. “I didn’t notice.”
“Your Majesty, are you telling me that your hatred for the golden maniac and your awkwardness towards your ‘son’ got you slipping up?” Illya shot back, face going flat at her Servant’s hubris.
“My apologies, Master,” the Servant then answered, trembling with clenched fists of rage again as she closed her eyes. “I have been failing to handle my emotions well lately.”
The Master sighed at that, then. Again, they could never change the past, so they had to make do with what they had now.
“Well, alright,” Illya said, turning around on her computer chair and then wheeling it across the floor with the help of a foot, all to head to a bigger desk with a lot more screens than the previous one. “I think we should get to waiting for our guests to get close enough to be given a guide to the castle now. We can discuss other matters later. The party favors are waiting for the guests, and the food is waiting for your stomach, Your Majesty!”
“Illyasviel, I know I am a glutton, but I also have honor,” Saber snarked back, only to shift tone as she noticed something onscreen. “Oh, and that seems to be – ”
“Okay, time for the speakers to – ”
And then a great crash sounded just as the surveillance room speakers were connected to a certain camera, one whose screen showed a bike sending its riders flying off as it exploded into flames. Said bike was followed by a trike that once carried a screaming girl as it crashed into a tree.
Some seconds later, some clearer words of rage were heard from said girl, who had just stood up after pushing herself off the tall man who took her into his arms and fell off a tree branch with her.
“I AM SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS!” a certain Rin Tohsaka screamed, right before she threw a gem that exploded into ice to put out the fire caused by a certain Berserker, who was accompanied by a certain golden Archer in a younger form. “AND WHY DID YOU EVEN LEAVE ME BEHIND LIKE THAT, YOU CRAZY WOMAN!?” she also screamed to a shinai-and-Shirou-wielding woman in green and yellow.
“Guides. Present now.” Leysritt seemed to demand in the background of the surveillance room.
“I shall attend to them, Lady Illyasviel,” Sella volunteered, creased brow and scrunched-up frown on her face as she marched out of the room. “And stay with Lady Illyasviel, Leysritt!”
“Yes. Under. Stood.”
Meanwhile, Illya and Saber stared some more, and then the former switched on the room microphone in her also Magecraft-powered zone.
“Welcome to the Einzbern Estate, dear invited guests!” Illya greeted with a smile. “Don’t bother wasting your valuables for whatever mess you make, though, for we have housekeeping more efficient than a cheap pile of rocks!”
And then the castle owner laughed when the jewel magus exploded into incoherent yelling.
Meanwhile, Saber sighed, but she still smiled.
The art of taunting was something to learn, after all, even as a knight.
Author’s Note: Outlines and schedules are great, though they’re even more so when they’re made voluntarily. Less being in a rush, more feeling a rush.
Next Chapter: Thief in the Night