Crawling to the Dawn – Chapter 9

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: On the Line

First Chapter: E-Rank Luck


Chapter 9: Thief in the Night


Shirou Emiya heard shouting all around him as they were led along by two red-eyed maids in white and black, but something louder filled his mind.

His adoptive father had a biological family. Kiritsugu Emiya left them behind for Shirou’s sake.

If what he had learned was true, then…

Hey, you’re looking glum there, Onii-chan! Or should I say…little brother?”

Why was that little girl not hating him? Had Kiritsugu successfully returned, then? Had he died happy?

It was stupid, Shirou realized, how he was hating himself again. It was highly likely that his adoptive father had found his way back, but he couldn’t help but wonder.

What if Kiritsugu failed to go back to his true family? What if Shirou left so much of a mark on the old man, so much that Shirou would’ve built his adoptive older sister’s jealousy?

What if Shirou never really was becoming the hero he wanted to become? What if he was still the burden who should’ve been left to die in that fire back then?

Your name’s Shirou, right? I knew that stupid robot was lying. You seem nice, and so is your Servant! The craziness adds to the fun, too!”

Berserker barked something with laughter, while Shirou looked up with widened eyes. His sister had that much faith in him?

And that’s why I want – no, NEED to save a loved one I can still save.”

Suddenly, a memory came back to him.

It was a sentence he never understood, as Shirou thought that Kiritsugu had lost all of his loved ones before their fateful meeting in the fire. Still, the kid let his old man go, as the former felt compelled to emulate the latter and avoid being a burden as much as he can.

When enough time passed for Shirou to think that Kiritsugu was never coming back, Shirou even told Fuji-nee to calm down and press on. They had a fight because of that, as Fuji-nee was worried sick about her old crush, but eventually, she got over it and moved on with a vow to be a better guardian for Shirou. She still was the crazy freeloader who also happened to be an English teacher and a yakuza heiress, but she felt sharper somehow.

Looking back at his history with Fuji-nee, Shirou felt even stupider. She had moved on better than he did. Meanwhile, he was still the self-destructive pushover trying to save people way beyond him.

Was this why Kiritsugu told him that?

Hey, if you’re feeling bad about having met Papa, then don’t. I would’ve been pissed if you insisted on keeping him around, but you didn’t.”

He saved her? Shirou Emiya saved his sister? Someone he had never met and had no good reason to associate with him?

Was this what Kiritsugu felt before he went back for his daughter?

Okay, plan change: Get him to the security room, Leys. Sella, you handle the tour, down to the fun secrets. Apologies for being unable to grace you with my colorful tour guide commentary, but Shirou and I need to have a heart-to-heart, sibling to sibling.”

“Hey, I’m Shirou’s older sister figure!” Fuji-nee shouted with a stomp. “Don’t I have the right to come along?”

Uh, who are you?”

“Taiga Fujimura!”

Taiga Fujimura? Oh, yeah, the crazy yakuza heiress. A little birdie told me that you had a crush on Papa and that you’re quite a freeloader. Your craziness would’ve made us friends if you hadn’t done such slights to MY family.”

“Why, you little…” the Tiger of Fuyuki growled before exploding into loud garbles. She also received some hard laughter from two ladies in red.

Before Shirou could say anything about that squabble, he felt his sides taken by one arm and then his back held by the underside as well. Then, he was feeling a rush of air passing around his face, blurring the sight of something tall, wide, and earthy over and past the trees. Vivid colors and cooler air rushed into his senses soon enough, and by the time all the rushing stopped, he recognized the place as a castle.

“Agh!”

“Leys! That’s my brother you just threw!”

“Sorry. Mistress.”

A castle that also happened to be technologically up to date with things like security cameras and ajr conditioning, power sources notwithstanding.

Shirou raised a hand to show that he was alright and to keep his sister from making a fuss. Getting up, he was about to give them a smile when…

“Hm?”

Kiritsugu Emiya’s adoptive son recognized his sister’s blonde Servant, having met her while she was in that maid outfit before, but Shirou didn’t remember being even more mesmerized by her beauty. Perhaps it was just the knightly outfit, though. It made the maid outfit look quite ridiculous…

Noticing his look, the Servant gave a smirk to her Master, who crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you a knight before you are a woman, Saber?” the little Master asked, a smirk betraying her mock seriousness.

“Did that even matter when you forced me into your perverted visions of maidservants?” Saber answered with an even bigger smirk, and then she closed her eyes. “No matter. I am already in my most appreciated appearance.”

“Ugh, why do you have to have such blinding Charisma?” the Master grumbled, waving a hand away as she looked away from her Servant. “Anyway, hi, little brother!” she followed up with a wave and a grin to Shirou. “Name’s Illyasviel von Einzbern,” she introduced with a curtsy, only to stop halfway with a look upward, “But, hm, I think I’ve gotten too used to that, though I don’t mind having Mama’s family name. Oh well, at least it’ll be my middle name! You wouldn’t mind if I registered myself as an Emiya here eventually, yeah?”

“Well, I guess the answer’s obvious already?” Shirou answered, having a slightly awkward smile at his sister’s flippancy. “I mean, you’re not trying to kill me, right?”

At that, his sister pouted. “Ahhhh, after all the kindness I’ve done for you, you’re still doubting me?” Turning to her smirking Servant, she also snapped some more. “And Saber, stop giving me that look! Even with those closed eyes, I’m pretty sure that you’re mocking the Emiya blood!”

Saber frowned, but not so deeply. “Oh my, Master, are you implying that this good young man in front of us has a drop of your father’s blood? If it were not for my oath of servitude to your family, I would have considered him unfortunate to have such a thing coursing through his veins.” The smirk came back quickly enough.

“Alright, I’ll let you have your revenge, Saber,” the little Master said after a hoarse sigh. “And little brother, this old Faris over here is my Servant, Saber. I don’t know if you know, but she was also Papa’s Servant during the previous War for some reason. Maybe it’s because she was a pot calling the kettle black that she had to deal with Papa being a stick in the mud.”

Saber’s lips straightened out at that, but she didn’t say anything in response.

“Oh, and that wonky maid is Leysritt,” Illya pointed beside Shirou. “Sella’s the cranky one with your companions.”


“Apologies, for my childish Mistress is not here to provide you…ample entertainment,” said Sella as she bit back a mutter about her relief over being assigned this role of leading her Mistress’s brother’s companions through the castle. “Putting that aside, welcome to the Fuyuki Einzbern Castle. My name is Sella, and I shall be your tour guide for today,” she sighed with a curtsy.

“BRING ME TO SHIROU!” the tiger-like lady in yellow and green shouted, flailing her arms above herself. “BRING ME, YOU THIEF’S SERVANT!” she even shouted in English.

“But we are fellow criminals, dear Tiger,” quipped the blonde Berserker, making Sella feel the beginnings of yet another headache at this seeming equivalent of Lady Illyasviel and Saber.

Fortunately, the red-clad Master accompanying those two beasts threw gut punch to each.

“MISS TOHSAKA, HOW DARE YOU PUNCH YOUR TEACHER!”

“YOU DARE ASSAULT A SERVANT, WITCH!?”

The Tohsaka Master simply glared at them and gave them a certain finger before walking ahead, her Servant sighing and shaking his head as he followed.

“She’s royally pissed,” the tall and tan man declared. “I think this is a new level, too. Just ignore the idiots behind us and lead the way, though, Miss Sella. We can handle them.”

“Hm, I’m beginning to remember a certain gathering here…” the blonde child mused as he moved forward. “I remember the King of Conquerors and his slip of a Master massacring Kirei’s Assassin here, too…”

Sella then became disturbed by the Tohsaka girl’s sinister grin and subsequent cackle. On the other hand, the intimidating aura somehow managed to get the other fools to silence themselves. The maid decided to take what she could get and go further into her task.

“This castle assures protection of its guests and repulsion against any intruders,” Sella declared, gesturing with a raised arm as she advanced to the interior. “During the previous War, the Mistress’s father utilized various traps with very little Magecraft, all of the traps meant to kill any unwelcome being with a physical body. While they certainly fulfilled their goal, Lady Illyasviel thought it excessive, even for someone she deeply admired, so she decided to honor his memory along with the castle’s value by upgrading the security system with more efficiency via added application of Magecraft and reduction of explosive payload.”

Sella’s audience had narrowed eyes at the bounds of the room. Meanwhile, the tiger lady had a finger on her head as she swung her head around with a raised eyebrow.

“I apologize,” Sella continued with a bow, “But the Mistress prefers that she not waste the traps on any more test runs or demonstrations.” She turned to move forward, gesturing for her audience to follow her once again. “Among the composition of these traps are…materials of very sentimental value. Just know that if your body ever comes in contact with them, you shall not only lose any shred of ability to utilize Magecraft, but also suffer a curse that shall give you a slow and painful death you cannot escape.”

Sella gave brief looks to the slight niches on the walls and the ceilings, frowning at them before she turned to her audience.

“The latter effect was something we expected to happen, considering the state of those materials’ source,” Sella recounted, “It seems cruel, but Lady Illyasviel insisted on utilizing them like so.”

Unsaid was the memory of how the orphaned daughter had masked her rage with a smile, vowing to make any and every foolish intruder suffer what her father was forced to experience if they ever decided to cross her and her loved ones that far.

“Well, I guess that’s natural, isn’t it?” the tiger lady commented with a small smile. “I mean, what sort of stronghold wouldn’t be well-guarded?”

“And the tiger finally became human,” Berserker grinned, leaning back to dodge a swipe from her target. “But in seriousness, I think I can understand what you are trying to convey, maidservant,” she continued with a smaller smile. “Though you seem too worried to even be fully open about these things you should be explaining to us in full detail.”

At that, Sella sighed and turned around. Her chest felt heavy again, filled with that concern she first realized while witnessing her Mistress expressing her borderline worship for her late parents. Sometimes, she even wondered whether she was more human than her own masters and mistresses, but in the end, her existence was still that of a servant, and she did not want to impose without being certain of its helpfulness to the one she served.

“I apologize once again,” Sella repeated. “I am simply attempting to fulfill what was assigned to me to the best of my abilities. Lady Illyasviel can offer you her own tour some other time.”

Unsaid was how she couldn’t muster the will to be as cruel as her Mistress. At the very least, her Mistress had some growing kindness, but still.

Shaking her head, Sella reminded herself to introduce some more basic things for the tour. Perhaps her too serious self was just trying too hard again…

“No matter. That is only one out of two things in this castle that would require Lady Illyasviel’s touch in touring. As for the rest, I have memorized the historical notes about their construction and usage, and I shall gladly recount them verbatim.”

Maybe being the boring nag would really help her fit in better…and that tall and tan man’s “Heh” certainly made her smile a bit wider. The same went for all those groaning fools and that smiling child too.

Besides, Lady Illyasviel didn’t seem to like these people she was assigned to. Now, where was the Lady herself…?


“Are you sure we should just wait here like this?”

Shirou wondered about that. They stood in some corner of the hallway in an upper floor, judging from the view the windows provided, and right in front of yet another great pair of doors. And speaking of the windows, the owner of the castle was giggling as she looked at what seemed to be the courtyard through them. Her Servant stood straight beside her, smiling along. As for the maid accompanying them, she still had that blank thousand-mile stare.

And Shirou still wasn’t sure about how to refer to the little girl who was actually older than him. Onee-san? Nee-san? Illya-nee? All of them sounded weird, even with her friendliness towards him, and he still had to think about a lot more things…like Sakura being Tohsaka’s younger sister.

“Heheheheh…Those hussies are starting to get antsy…” the little Master continued to giggle at the distant scene outside the window.

Looking along with his strange sister, Shirou tried to see what she was seeing. Soon enough, he found the other maid leading his other companions. While the maid out there had a hand up like some sort of tour guide, Tohsaka and Fuji-nee were flailing their arms in the air.

“Sella can get really boring when she does tours,” the older sister answered before Shirou could even ask. “She can memorize a lot, but she’s so mechanical about it! And it seems like she’s having fun with it now! My heart is greatly warmed by my growing maid! Or perhaps de-aging maid? She usually acts like a naggy hag, you know?”

“Uhh…” Shirou could only say at the moment. It seemed like his sister didn’t like his companions out there. He also gave a raised eyebrow to Saber, who merely shrugged and kept on watching.

“That Tohsaka and that tiger lady also haven’t gotten my approval yet!” the new hot-blooded sister declared with a raised fist. “If they think they can steal Papa and Onii-chan, they’re gonna have to go through me first!”

“Uhm, they’re nice, if a little rough around the edges…” Shirou feebly commented with a lot of worry.

“Your Berserker’s True Name is Mordred, correct?” Saber suddenly asked, steely gaze on Shirou, who flinched at her voice.

“Ah, yeah, it seems so…” Shirou didn’t remember catching things about True Names and such when Berserker explained the Holy Grail War to him, though. “You know her?”

“I am King Arthur.”

Silence.

“Onii-chan sure is stupid, huh? At least it’s cute!”

Shirou agreed about himself having some stupidity, but he was also sure that he wasn’t that stupid about popular legends of old.

“Ah, Illya-nee – ”

“Oh my, Onii-chan’s treating me like an older sister! I feel like I might lose control of myself if he keeps it up!”

The adopted Emiya couldn’t figure out whether his blushing sister was serious or teasing about that. Saber sighed, though.

And then there’s the other awkward thing. Suddenly, all of his Servant’s explosions of rage some time ago made more sense.

“So you’re all…legendary figures?” Shirou asked.

“From the Throne of Heroes, yes,” Saber answered, “Though I am an exception for reasons to be explained to you at another time.”

“The Throne of Heroes?” Shirou was also pretty sure that, if he remembered correctly, Mordred wasn’t considered a hero, or, at least, someone more revered than King Arthur.

“Ehhh, you don’t know something that basic about the Holy Grail War?” Illya-nee (which he would call her for now) commented with a raised eyebrow of her own. “Didn’t that Tohsaka girl tell you anything, at least?”

“Uhm, no.”

“And now she’s in the negatives in terms of my respect for her,” said Illya-nee, expression growing colder and harder. “But I don’t think I need to tell you more, not with how screwed up this stupid attempt at a competition is now. The truth is an ugly and complicated mess, and now those idiots will be…”

Suddenly, glass shattered, and Shirou fell over.

When he got out of his daze, he found that right beside him was Berserker, who carried Fuji-nee and the golden kid. On the other side was Archer, who carried Tohsaka, and the maid Illya-nee called Sella. Behind him were a giant rock and some glowing arrows.

“Apologies, Lady Illyasviel,” Sella bowed. “I did not expect this level of a reaction.”

“Damn it, I should’ve tightened the property damage restrictions in the security system…” Illya-nee muttered, and then she wore a smile too wide to be true. “It’s fine, Sella. It looks like everyone’s excited for the biggest secret in this castle! I hope you’re ready to say your prayers, then! Leysritt!”

The maid with a thousand-mile stare then took out a halberd from somewhere. Shirou felt some nervousness when that happened, especially when she pulled back, but then she swung it way more upward than he expected. A clang sounded, and a metal plate hit the floor, a ladder following its descent.

“Take a single brick off the following area if you want me to kill you all,” Illya-nee announced with fake sweetness made more disturbing by her childlike appearance. She went up the ladder first, and Shirou followed, everyone else lining up behind him.


Mordred didn’t regret ending that boring tour quickly the way she and that strangely reluctant Archer did, but she was quite fascinated by the rage Father’s Master had. She seemed like a better fit than the idiot boy Mordred was stuck with.

“Meet my father, Kiritsugu Emiya.”

When they all entered the gray and grainy attic, Mordred was quite surprised by how spacious it was. But even more surprising was the coffin up ahead, its placement giving off an aura of solemnity which the declaration from the little girl of a Master resonated with.

Housed in there was the corpse of the girl’s father? It smelled quite like the traps hidden within the castle, too. If that was a form of her appreciation, then Mordred found it strange, but it was hard to think of it as a problem with the zeal the daughter showed. Mordred could relate with that.

And maybe her Master could be relatable, judging from how he ran up to the coffin and kneeled at the sight of the body there. Mordred also didn’t expect the tiger lady to follow him, even breaking down into tears…in silence.

Meanwhile, Father, the red witch, and even Archer had strained expressions at that. Only the younger form of the fool who propositioned Father didn’t look like someone painfully serious.

Mordred didn’t quite understand, but to satisfy her annoyed curiosity, she decided to take a look at the dead body.

She then saw the face of the one who once gave Avalon to her Master. He was also smiling, much like that moment when he found Shirou Emiya in that inferno.

The whole sight was…disappointing. Or was it enviable? Mordred wasn’t quite sure. She was sure that it made her desire to fight Father surge stronger, though. But even as a Berserker, she had some respect for rules, for they had to be followed somewhat before they could be broken. So she held back from being rude in this solemn situation.

Mordred also kept her silence as they all went back down, moving to dinner, as if the broken windows were just some spilled milk that could be wiped off the floor easily. She spent time at the rear of the queue, pondering about her jumble of feelings regarding this infuriating castle tour.

So Father’s Master had a perfect father. That perfect father was also greatly respected by her own Master and the tiger lady. But Archer, the red witch, and even Father herself had faces that seemed to say otherwise. That supposedly perfect father also used Father’s special sheath to save the only child he could manage to save in a disaster that may or may not have been of his own making.

Ah. A nobody outdid her legendary Father. And Father could still do way better.

Mordred burst with laughter at the dining table. Everyone turned to look at her, of course.

But before she announced her challenge to her Father, Mordred decided to have an unsaid eating competition with her. The food was quite exquisite, continuing to give her more hope in humanity and its future, and she was certain that Father strongly agreed with that, judging from how much and how fast she ate beneath all her dainty movements.

Once the food was out and everyone was done eating, Mordred grinned and put a foot on the table.

“Let us fight, Father!” the Knight of Treachery pointed to the King of Knights.

And then a shrill ringing sounded throughout the dining room that suddenly glowed red.

Mordred certainly didn’t plan that, though.


As he jogged through the forest, Kirei Kotomine grinned. It was also a jog down memory lane, about times when he had not yet accepted his true nature. On one hand, the castle he was approaching was where he truly lost his Servant during the previous War, while on the other, it brought him back memories of Kiritsugu Emiya’s wife, whom he had fought in the area before and then killed later on somewhere else.

What disappointingly simple people they all were. But who was he to refuse someone else’s request for suffering? He didn’t even care that he had likely lost Gilgamesh. He didn’t even care that he only had the dog called Lancer left as his Servant. He just wanted an answer to his lifelong question, a question about his incomprehensible purpose in life:

Why could he only find peace through others’ suffering?

If only he could find someone who had a good enough answer. Kiritsugu Emiya’s daughter seemed to enjoy causing others’ suffering, but it was definitely far from the extent that he had. He knew of revenge, of course, but his sadism was not born out of revenge. It was a sadism that wished to attack unprovoked. It was also harder to understand than Zouken Matou’s twisted desires, which, as he learned during one random encounter, all aimed towards a utopia, something quite impossible and therefore infuriating. Kirei never wished for a utopia without hatred and misery, after all. He just wanted to know how someone as empty as himself would be able to fit into the world.

And so, another day came for Kirei to try finding the answer. But whether or not he found it, he would still enjoy torturing the Einzbern girl and all her loved ones with his own two hands and unleashing All the World’s Evil once again upon the city.

Just another d –

“Heads up, you old coot!”

Kirei spun to the side as he dodged something that rushed past him. Strangely, that little cut it made reeked of a familiar scent…and its source was right up ahead.

“An army got ahead of us,” Lancer stated, perched on a nearby tree. As usual, he was itching to fight, but Kirei was curious about their fellow intruders, which included skeleton soldiers.

A hooded figure that was once behind those soldiers then became the front as she turned around to face Kirei and Lancer. She wore black and white, but the colors that stuck out the most from her were the whitened purple and reddened black.

Kirei burst with laughter. It was just like old times.

“Is there something funny, Overseer?” the adopted Matou asked.

“You’re just like your uncle,” Kirei admitted, still smiling after he got his breath back. “It was quite wonderful, how I strung him along. He thought he killed your mother, who mistook him as your father’s killer!”

The reddened black intensified, and Sakura Matou walked into Kirei’s personal space with a glare. “You killed Uncle Kariya?” she asked, an inferno hidden beneath those coldly stated words.

“The finishing blow was not mine, child,” Kirei answered. “I assume that it came from Kiritsugu Emiya’s Servant, who is currently held by his daughter, the Einzbern living up ahead. She gave your uncle’s Berserker quite a battle back then.”

The girl’s eyes widened for a while, and then she continued to glare at him. Kirei continued to smile, anticipating her coop –

“Agh.”

“What the hell!?”

The glare of the red-eyed girl intensified as she drove her darkened arm into the fake priest’s stomach. He couldn’t feel it sprouting out of its back. Instead, it stayed within him, sucking his insides into the arm and shutting down all of its senses…

And then he found himself sensing what the girl did. At the moment, it was fogged by dark iron, but while the sharp scent and hard force persisted, images flashed brighter and brighter with sounds louder and louder through the fog: approaching people and cursed ballistics from a wide hall, screaming splatters of more red off a girl in red’s arm, crackling and exploding blockades by two women in purple, searing cries of a surprisingly familiar man in red, gobbling consumption upon a legend’s imitator as added energy…Kirei witnessed them all.

For a while, Kirei wondered if he could reform his body, but being a witness to this girl’s destructive force mesmerized him. And he knew that she could do more, especially with the Grail fragments and the emotional turmoil inside her, so he held back for the moment, setting aside plans to get out of her for later.

He also knew that Zouken Matou would be aware of his presence, but Kirei didn’t mind. Sakura Matou was already beyond the old worm’s control, after all. All Kirei needed to do for now was to wait for his dear charge, Kiritsugu’s children, and all their other comrades…


As Medea rained energy from the skies upon the front of the castle, she found it a cathartic experience.

All that worrying while holing up in Ryuudou Temple had made her rusty, so much that she almost got turned into smithereens by some mundane rockets guided by Magecraft homing systems. Sakura didn’t mind as long as the people she wanted to talk to were kept alive enough.

She also saw Rider flying around and making explosive streaks upon the other parts of the castle, as Medea ordered last-minute. The Gorgon riding Pegasus with that man’s bridle surprised Medea, but it didn’t matter when they were breaking their targets’ morale very well.

For a moment, she even wondered if her Dragon Tooth Warriors were even needed!

And then Medea dodged a very golden beam of light. It was quite a close call for not only herself, but also for the whole team.

“Hold your fire!” she also heard Sakura shout as she passed by with Rider on Pegasus. “I think I can talk to them now!”


Noticing that her special traps weren’t doing much against their attackers, Illya decided on the next best thing to do:

“SABER, FIRE EXCALIBUR!”

“ILLYASVIEL VON EINZBERN, YOU’RE JUST LIKE BOTH OF YOUR PARENTS! EXCALIBUR!”

When one had Command Spells tattooed throughout the whole body and was facing such a dire situation, who wouldn’t hesitate to do a beam spam in return?

Still, they didn’t know everything about who was attacking, as Illya had no time to check the security cameras. The surveillance familiars she stationed also couldn’t identify the attackers past the fact that they were Magi, and then those familiars got wrecked by a bunch of beams after the rockets started firing.

Maybe Illya should’ve consulted Saber about fortress defense methods, but there was no time for that now. More beam spams needed to be made.

“ILLYA-NEE, STOP!”

She turned back to give her adoptive little brother a glare, but Illya faced the front again when she saw him looking past her.

“Sakura…”

The Tohsaka witch’s voice was almost inaudible within all that noise.

“Senpai. Nee-san.”

Was that a Pegasus? Was there even a blindfolded woman known for riding Pegasus?

“Sakura! Is that you!?”

“Ah. Sensei.”

So they all knew each other? Great!

“Okay, let’s use the power of love, family, and friendship here, everyone!” Illya shouted, although sarcastically, since one, those psychos were destroying the family castle, and two, she was itching for blood.

“Hmph, it seems that I can’t get much of a word in,” said the hooded figure with – wait, was that that curse? So that was why they weren’t working on this one… “No matter. Actions can still say a lot. Rider.”

Two beaming rushes happened, and then they were missing a Master’s arm and a Servant.

“RIN!”

Illya only realized that when she saw Archer trying to slice the thief while on the escaping Pegasus.

So much for beam spamming.

“I NEED A NEW MASTER AND A GOOD FIGHT, SO I COME IN PEACE FOR NOW!”

“Lancer!?”

“Oh, hello, dog.”

“Wait, you were here this whole time, Goldy!?”

Oh, that dumb guy. Well, Illya did need more firepower, and her genius could handle an idiot of his sort, so…


Archer wished that Assassin were still around, even as some corrupted being. He could stand watch, but he wanted to face something simpler than what was left in his hands.

Said remains sat behind him, sleeping away after stabilizing herself with the whole essence of the unfortunate False Assassin. The feeding was not pretty, not when she had the man’s screams and gurgles audible enough for their lone audience, but it was also quick and efficient. But it could’ve been worse.

And speaking of worse, the sound of Rin’s screams and Sakura’s laughter still rang in the depths of Archer’s mind, making him shudder once again. He was still certain that the older Tohsaka would survive and even strike back, but he still had a heart, hardened it may be.

And then there was the last Command Spell from Rin’s arm. Archer couldn’t kill Sakura, and that enchanted order even coordinated with his prickly and buried memories, flashing images that also dared to split his head in two. Combined with her hateful looks at him and yet another Command Spell from Sakura herself to kill himself if he ever broke his contract with her (It seemed that she almost forgot about Rule Breaker, unfortunately) after finding out about the truth of his identity, especially the Counter Guardian part, Archer loathed his current situation.

Then again, it was his fault. Trying to kill Berserker herself instead of her Master showed how much he let himself be softened up by stupid sentimentality. But at least he still had a heart, and now he had to stop regretting so much if he wanted every remaining living person he held dear here to get past this with as little damage as possible.

“Archer.”

He didn’t seem like it as he turned to face Caster, who called him, but he almost forgot about what this woman in purple did to facilitate Sakura’s escape. Just like Rider, who stepped forward from the trees she hid beneath with a likely glare, so did Archer approach this self-styled second-in-command.

Among the three women he faced here, Caster had the most of his ire because of how she went along with Sakura’s sudden orders to bring down the main hall of the Fuyuki Einzbern Castle upon the loved ones (except for that kid and Gilgamesh…probably) he was stolen from as another way for Sakura to spite him for being her traitorous Senpai. It was petty, but if he was gonna fall down sentimental and treat everyone like his stupider kiddie self did, he might as well go all the way now and make the best of it.

“Rider, you shall accompany me and Sakura on the temple grounds,” Medea continued.

Medusa replied with silence.

“Archer, you shall guard this gate,” the hooded witch turned with a more smug look, “Though perhaps ‘demoralizing’ would be a better description than ‘guarding’ for what you are supposed to do here tomorrow.”

“And I’m an Archer who prefers swords,” Archer shot back, arms crossed.

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I trust in you and your strength,” Caster answered, tone so honest and patronizing that Archer wondered why she hadn’t started laughing with one hand beneath a cheek yet. “Come, Rider. We all need to prepare ourselves for the coming battle,” she then turned.

“Hmph” was the only sound that the blindfolded Gorgon made as she followed, picking up Sakura along the way.

After watching them enter the temple, which was likely to be evacuated of its residents very soon because of very high potential damages, Archer turned to face the lengthy steps between the bordering trees.

“Oh well…at least I can still see if I’ll finally die when I’m killed.”

Archer made a bit of a smile as he said that half-joke.


Author’s Note: Yeah, this thing’s still alive. Its end’s nearing, though. I got it all planned.


Next Chapter: Humiliation

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