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: Thief in the Night
First Chapter: E-Rank Luck
Chapter 10: Humiliation
Looking down, there was a spear right through my gut.
Before that, everything had been a blur, the only clear thing being a face that looked like mine. The burning piles we stood upon were mere flickers with our rushing blades, but it all crashed upon the senses as everything stilled with that spear.
What tried to go up against that fatal attack was a sword held above its wielder’s head. It looked quite unfitting on the leader of this mutiny, but it looked quite fitting on the King’s son. Or daughter. Or whoever I was supposed to be. I wasn’t quite sure anymore.
The King was actually a woman all along, though. Mother had told me the truth, but I refused to believe it. A lady could not be that strong, otherwise she would be someone like my mother…and I still maintained some of my belief in her.
But what does being man or woman even have to do with one’s worth as a knight? Nothing, it turns out. Father – and I do not think I would be able to call her anything else – had been able to rally the people into times of prosperity, and perhaps she would’ve been loved, though perhaps a bit differently too, if she had done all that even with everyone knowing that she was a woman. Had she insisted, that trickster Merlin would’ve let it happen with glee, and no one could go against that half-devil.
But still, I continued to loathe her as much as I admired her. And the reason had already become different as much as it had become clear.
I could see that she understood even that as I saw a faint light in her widened eyes.
She was right about my unworthiness as a knight. I could never become King Arthur Pendragon. I am simply Mordred of the Round Table, a Knight below her.
But she was King Arthur Pendragon. Perhaps she was not what that prophecy foretold, perhaps she had not been as shining as those exaggerated tales said, but she had her light, one greater than the other Knights’ combined…all because she bothered to take up the Crown and dared to believe that she could be greater beyond humanity’s imagination, even as she recognized how unworthy she could be. It didn’t even matter if she went by the name Arturia Pendragon.
And what made me loathe her now was that despair she always held. It swallowed the light in her eyes again, and she trudged past me, as if I was never her child, never someone she could’ve changed for the better against all odds, never a true friend to her for even a single moment, never someone worthy of being called human at all.
It was quite loathsome, indeed. No wonder she had the gall to hide that fool Lancelot’s infidelity with the Queen.
Yet as I slowly became one more addition to the burning pile I fell upon, I wished that I could have done something before my wrath had stolen me away. I managed to inspire a rebellion, but it could have been better. It could have been done earlier, but I was confused about who I was supposed to be. And I know I would go down in history as that Treacherous Knight of the Round Table who mortally wounded King Arthur.
Indeed, that is what I deserve. But with this, can I not wish for a rebellion against fate? I am King Arthur’s child, a child of the King who overcame expectations despite lowliness and awareness of it. I may have also been a child of the Witch who dared to crush Father’s spirit so, but where Father fails, I shall succeed for her sake.
Shirou Emiya felt trails of echoes as he opened his eyes.
When he saw the stone the ceiling was made out of, he jolted up, a mixture of worry and hope fueling his rushy movements around the castle that had taken an assault recently. The mixture strengthened as he opened doors and found empty bedrooms with wrinkled fabrics, but when he got to the kitchen…
“Onii-chan, your stalker’s being mean! And I just gave her a nice new arm!”
“I know I can’t cook, Shirou, but she dared to disrespect a teacher! She’ll never get my blessing now!”
“I’m surrounded by idiots.”
“They’re still cute idiots, though, Berserker.”
“Ah, this brings me back to my own youthful days with my own harem…”
Shirou also found Illya-nee’s maids and Servant standing beside him by the doorway. Saber and the maid with a clearer expression sighed with twitching closed eyes, while the only one without a clear expression watched as if staring into the distance.
“Lady Illyasviel and the woman who claims to be a teacher have been insisting on preparing you a meal for your well-being, Sir Shirou,” the maid named Sella explained. “They also wished for us to refrain from providing support, so we humored them despite our own wishes in the matter, but the Tohsaka girl arrived and…you can imagine what happened next.”
“Lady Illyasviel. Has great pride,” Leysritt followed. “A new war. Has begun. Within another war. Irony. Indeed.”
“Though I would hold my tongue about it in front of Illya,” Saber added, “I would love to admit that the scent of Miss Tohsaka’s cooking is actually appealing.”
“YOU MAY BE A WITCH, BUT THE SCENT OF YOUR COOKING MOVES ME TO WED YOU!”
“Fortunately, Sir Mordred is here,” Saber remarked as she smiled with a slight bow and closed eyes.
“But what about Sakura?”
The words just came out of Shirou’s mouth as his concern fought its hardest against his confusion. Soon enough, he recognized how he was noticed when a spatula hit his face.
“I’m trying my hardest to stay sane here, Emiya-kun,” Tohsaka yelled with a glare over her bare right shoulder, which looked paler than her own complexion, “So will you shut up for a moment and let me cook something that’s actually decent!? That goes for the rest of you noisy idiots too!”
Shirou still had a lot to ask about, but the feeling of being useless was starting to take its toll on him. It was a…burning and tearing feeling that he hadn’t felt for a long while.
Come to think of it, hadn’t he been dreaming of fire recently? But it was different from the one that usually haunted his dreams. Cries for help would often accompany the one he was used to, and he would also be on a seemingly endless trudge.
But this time, it was like he was in place. He still felt that feeling of falling as he ran out of strength, but there were no cries for help. There was a heavier trudge growing distant, and after that, human breathing was the only sound identifiable within the flaming ruins.
Somehow, it all felt more…relieving. There was regret in that dream, but the self-loathing didn’t feel as heavy. There was an urge to scream, and…
“Does he need another spear to the heart from yours truly?”
“YOU KILLED ONII-CHAN!?”
“Thus the dog died by the wolf.”
“SHUT UP, GOLDEN DICK!”
“WHO KILLED SHIROU!? THE REAPER OF VENGEANCE AWAITS!”
As Shirou had his back to the floor, Berserker’s echoing shout silenced the noise and resonated with his soul. He also had his eyes closed, remembering that fascinating fire he had found himself seeing through her memories. It burned for another, and it burned at will.
And then came his memories of his adoptive father’s body up in the attic. The sight of Kiritsugu’s natural smile had moved him to tears, bringing back more memories of how the old man had lacked such a thing whenever Shirou got a look at his face. And even as Shirou believed that his father was a hero, the son wanted to ask how the father did it even better.
They all made Shirou feel smaller, but somehow, he felt less like a suicidal fool with nowhere else to go.
“Hey…kid…sorry about all that…”
“I see quite a fire in this young man’s eyes.”
“I…I agree, Archer.”
Shirou had opened his eyes again, looking up at the circle huddled over him.
But the silent Berserker’s green eyes were the pair Shirou locked with first.
Smiling, they felt no need to exchange any words there.
Then she reached a hand out, and he accepted that hand with his own.
They would kill the world for each other.
The thief and her spoils had realized that painful truth they doubted as they lived on earth. The thief had believed herself unworthy of her spoils’ heroism, while the spoils had believed himself unworthy of anyone’s care.
The thief saw no selflessness in him. None of what he claimed to be “heroism” were selfless acts, unless “selfless” meant “self-loathing.” Seeing how he was betrayed by people who would never care made her want to kill him too, but it would only be a want and nothing else. In the end, she would still let him live and move to kill – no, torture those who threw him away without a second thought. She loved him so much, and death would be too merciful for those fools, after all…Could she torture him too, if she wasn’t going to kill him?
The spoils saw heroism in her. How had he not noticed for so long? No, he knew, and then he forgot as he chose to spend all his time hating himself over and over, pretending it was heroism. Now he corrupted her with his own actions, and it hurt way more because he asked for it. That burning and tearing feeling came around again. So desperate was he for proof of humanity, yet so little faith he had in humanity. Her human belief in a savior was already insanity to him, and she considered him her best savior. Chasing that little light would be the death of him, but he was already seeking death for such a long time. What else would it take for him to be content and call a death happy enough?
She would kill the world to save him, but she wanted to hurt him too, for he was such a selfish and lying boy, he even fooled himself. The worm pit was already so close by with how gung-ho he was about saving the world, but he failed to take her away and burn it all down.
He would kill the world to find a true savior, but he doubted that he would ever find that person, for he held certainty that he had already killed that person. He swore that he even saw that person’s ghost in the audience that gleefully awaited his suffocation.
Now they realized another painful truth. They hated themselves so much, they ended up hating each other. She felt it before with her older sister, while he felt it again and again with his younger self.
“I’ll give you the most horrible pain and have you remember it for eternity, Senpai. I know you want it.”
“I guess so…Sakura. Let me show you the horrible truth you seek, then.”
When Caster saw Sakura and Archer in the kitchen as the sun rose, she couldn’t help giving them pitying silence.
They first drew her attention through their cooking. As she was planning to prepare food for her dear Souichirou for later, she entered the kitchen and found those two using it. If she didn’t know better, she would’ve called them a happily married couple preparing a feast not only for themselves but also for the community.
But in reality, it was like watching some couple on the verge of splitting off. Sakura was slicing and rolling piles of raw fish, while Archer was stewing and tasting pots of red meat, but the way they faced only forward while having that literal distance between them in silence made Caster think twice about using the kitchen today. She would’ve even scolded Archer for abandoning his post at the gate and maybe even Rider for letting this slide, but she couldn’t help being curious about the Master who had sought her help. Medea knew how yesterday’s assault was quite personal to the younger lady, and she also noticed that the stolen Servant was also taking it just as much.
“That’s a lot of fish…little girl,” Archer suddenly spoke, eyes still on his pots.
“That’s a lot of stew…Archer,” Sakura responded, pausing her slicing of a long sushi roll. “Do Servants even need to eat?”
“You’ve seen Saber and Berserker, right? Most of the empty plates last night were their fault. I won’t be surprised if you’re the same.”
“You ever said that to Nee-san before? She’d flip.”
“She’s not important to me. Maybe a bit important, but not that important.”
“Not after I took you and her arm?”
“Ill – The Einzbern there looks nice enough. And that idiot kid’s there to help with his lucky company.”
“You ever wished you were that idiot kid you’re talking about?”
Again, the silence came. Sakura continued cutting up her roll, while Archer stirred his stew.
Meanwhile, Caster walked away, not only wanting to be tactful but also feeling a mix of envy and amusement at how this was better progress compared to what she had to go through with Jason. And Sakura and Archer weren’t even a couple!
Medea would’ve also called Medusa out on looking like an idiot as she eavesdropped from the ceiling, but that would probably lead to at least one unnecessary death, so the Witch of Colchis held the urge back along with her laughter.
“Hey, where’d Goldy go?”
“Huh? Why are you of all people caring about the guy you called ‘Golden Dick?'”
Lancer’s eyes twitched as he looked away. The Einzbern girl was cute in a kid sort of way, but kids could be pricks, and even with his pride about keeping promises, he could still feel the painful urges to break them and go wild. Ironically, this was all because he looked like he was caring for another prick.
“I know I’m stupid, but are you not even concerned about how crazy that guy can get?” Lancer questioned further.
“He has been with us for a good while now,” Saber answered, “And while I have my reservations about his independence, he has not taken the chance to proposition me even once, so perhaps we can give him some leniency.”
“And that’s another piece of debt you owe me, Father!” Berserker winked at Saber with a thumbs-up.
The aforementioned “Father” sighed at that. “Yes, I do owe you a great debt…Mordred…”
As Mordred whooped, Lancer felt that at least one of these strangely close-knit nuts would lose his or her rear, whether metaphorically or literally, soon enough.
“Plus, he’s kind of cute,” the Einzbern girl added with a grin. “He even asked me to be his friend, so of course I said yes!”
What a weird girl, indeed.
“Hey, don’t forget our mission here, everyone!” reminded the actually hired teacher. “We’re here to kick Sakura’s ass, hug her back to our side, and crush everyone else getting in the way of that! Of course, those who surrender shall be given some mercy.” The Hound of Culann was surprised by how easygoing Taiga Fujimura was, but in a more positive way, as she also had bloodlust that went along well enough with his. “Besides, that blonde boy’s been nice so far, if a little eccentric.”
Lancer would’ve scoffed at that, but then he remembered how the guy wasn’t really much for unprovoked chaos unless it involved some stupid wannabe fighter or that Saber lady. He already remembered that even before that, though, but he had a better memory with a cute woman helping him out.
There also wasn’t much of a reaction from the others to the nicer teacher lady’s naive reminder. They seemed to know about Kotomine’s psycho tendencies, but aside from Saber and Berserker, they didn’t seem like they knew enough to be hostile about Goldy. And maybe he was just easier to take lightly with that younger form. Lancer would still be more or less the contrarian there for the sake of balance, though. Anything could happen at this point, after all.
“Well, whatever happens, you better let me have a good fight,” he then said, growing a bit more touchy from finding trees as far as the eye could see on both sides of the mountain path they had to take. “I won’t even care much if it’s gonna be Golden Dick or even those ladies.”
“You’ll be facing Sakura with me, Lancer,” his new Master declared, her new arm bearing three Command Spells thanks to the Einzbern girl. “Don’t get carried away.”
Lancer would admit being a bit uncomfortable about facing that unstable girl for a reason or two, but he just did a quiet nodding grunt in response, as 1) at least he wasn’t bound to scouting duty for eternity now (and if that Kotomine showed up again, which he probably would with his luck, he’d make sure to deal the killing blow upon him); and 2) he didn’t want to incur the wrath of a very serious woman (and there was more than one female here who could turn into a very serious woman).
That deep voice caused Lancer and everyone else to look up and ahead, as they had reached the seemingly empty gate.
“Working with my old killer, huh?” Archer materialized on the clearing. “Then again, I’ve always been quite a suicidal boy. I’m smarter now, of course, but still suicidal, so what’s the difference?”
Lancer took some time to understand what the apparently mislabeled Servant meant, and then his eyes widened as he noticed some similarities that had been right under his nose the whole time.
“Shirou?” the nicer teacher lady stepped forward before Lancer could fire back. “What happened to you…?”
“Oh, the usual idiocy from an ordinary human,” Archer answered with a hand out like some Kotomine knock-off. “And somehow, your surprise is a relief, Fuji-nee. I thought everyone was insulting me by pretending not to know who I am and what sort of guy I am. Just look at me over there, even more silent because everyone’s finally smart. Isn’t that right, kid?”
“That’s still rude, Archer,” the kid Emiya answered, stepping forward. “And what about Tohsaka? I thought you were concerned for her before Sakura took you away. You know that they’re sisters, right?”
“And you know that I only cared for myself since the beginning, kid,” Archer shot back with a cold glare. “Drop the heroic veneer already.”
And then the kid Emiya rushed, causing Archer to summon his twin blades and everyone else to gasp, but…
“Is this enough of a drop for you?”
…the kid just ran by him and went past the gate. And then he smirked over his shoulder.
At that, a laugh bubbled out of Archer. Then, he closed his eyes and continued to face forward.
“Man, why have I been doubting so much?” He opened his eyes and bent his limbs into a combat stance. “Everyone can pass…except for Fuji-nee.”
And everyone went “Wait, what!?”
“Stop pissing me off, Archer!” Lancer’s new Master yelled with a pointer finger at her old Servant, but the nicer teacher lady pushed that arm back down.
“You still have to deal with your dear little sister, Miss Tohsaka,” that lady said, a dark aura growing around her. “And I have to deal with my own dear little brother figure. I’m very glad he knows that, too. We can always fix him, right?”
“Hey, I can work miracles, but I got my limits too!” the Einzbern girl complained. “Still, kick his stupid ass, you oversized cat! The world needs saving, and I gotta be a superhero worthy of Papa and Mama’s heavenly praise! Now let’s go, you witch! Saber, Berserker, Lancer, onward!”
“You’re gonna taste some CQC from me after all this is done, Einzbern, and your demonic video games won’t save you!”
Thus began the battles on Ryuudou Temple.
Next Chapter: Away from the Night