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: Humiliation
Next Chapter: E-Rank Luck
Chapter 11: Away from the Night
Taiga Fujimura took out Tora-Shinai. She had never been so aware before when she was wrapped by its enraging curse.
The Shirou Emiya who called himself Archer then made his twin blades disappear, replacing them with something identical to Taiga’s own weapon, complete with the strap that made it special.
“I know you’re not into fair fights, Fuji-nee,” said EMIYA as he imitated Taiga’s stance, even gaining the dark aura associated with Tora-Shinai’s curse, “But since we’re both unfair here…”
Swing into a clash. Slash but sidestep. Feint a stab.
“I thought you were unfair, Archer?” Taiga sneered, shaking some pain off her fist after managing to land a stomp on Archer’s exposed abdomen. “You’re here to fight me with whatever guts you have left, not to beg for my mercy.”
“If you say so, Tiger,” Archer smirked, but only for a moment, as he soon yelled into a raging series of flips and swings that pushed Taiga back. “Ngh!”
Taiga could smell blood on her cheek, but she was now the one smirking. “Looks like you copied Tora-Shinai a little too well, Shirou.” She spat to the side, changing her expression to a sneer again. “Give in to the bloodlust already and fight me to the death!”
This time, it was Taiga pushing EMIYA back with raging flips and swings. Her smirk also widened when she met a particularly resistant parry that turned into a blade lock.
“Do you feel how much love I have for you, Shirou?” Taiga asked, her power escalating along with her opponent’s seriousness. “I may be an idiot, but I’m not someone you can just put to the side!”
And then EMIYA was sent flying again. He almost crashed into a tree, but he forcefully slowed himself down into a recovery by planting his Tora-Shinai copy to the ground, breaking the stone decorating it.
Still, Taiga continued walking towards the future self of her little brother figure.
“I wonder how the me from your time felt, Shirou?” she asked. “Maybe she knew that you thought you were taking responsibility for your own decisions?”
Archer jumped and raised his sword high, but Taiga made another blade lock with a one-handed swing.
“But whether you really were or not,” she continued talking, “I can very easily imagine how much she’d blame herself for breaking her promises to the man who took you in.”
Throwing Archer’s weight to her left, Taiga then knocked him face-down with a roundhouse kick.
“What’s the matter, Shirou?” Taiga sneered as she pointed her weapon. “Too emotional to fight? I don’t think that sort of attitude ever stopped you from hurting me, though!”
Slamming her weapon to the grounded Archer, Taiga ended up producing clouds of dust from all the broken stone she hit as her target rolled away. She also got a bunch of hard hits from him as she found herself blinded by the dust.
“YOU’RE A COWARD, SHIROU!” Taiga yelled as she closed her eyes more tightly and went back to focus on Archer’s bloodlust, followed by parrying all his next hits. “AND NOT JUST TO ME!”
With that, Taiga kicked up her power even more, her voice becoming a guttural growl while her body emanated a figure of a tiger. Said figure loomed over her, glaring with her against Archer as the dust got cleared.
“Punishment either way, huh?” he wryly smiled before moving to copy his older sister figure’s power escalation.
“Wait, why are we hiding, Illya-nee?” Shirou whispered.
“Because I can see that your passion to fight isn’t matched by your actual skills,” Illya whispered back. “Do you want me to recount how you almost got toasted and diced by those two purple Servants? What sort of magecraft do you even know?”
“But we can’t hide forever! And, uh, Reinforcement, Structural Analysis…”
And then the siblings had to shield themselves from wind and dust kicked up by the nearby clash.
Taking a look after that, Shirou saw Berserker and Saber still forced to stay and run on the ground. Caster and Rider completely dominated the battlefield from the air with their mobility and range. There was also the matter of Fuji-nee and Archer at the Ryuudou Temple gate, along with Tohsaka, Lancer, and Sakura inside the Ryuudou Temple proper, preventing the two Knights of the Round Table from unleashing what Illya called their Anti-Army Noble Phantasms.
“Don’t get too distracted, Shirou!” Illya pulled Shirou’s head back, forcing her to make eye contact with him. “We need to make up a plan to take those two down, and we’re gonna have to play dirty like our dear Papa would. Not too dirty, but you get what I mean, right?”
Shirou couldn’t find much argument against that, so he nodded, though he still found the thought a bit hard to swallow. “What do you have in mind, then?”
“You’re skilled at archery, right?” Illya looked at her hair, from which she pulled out strands and spun them around.
“Yeah, how’d you know?” Shirou replied.
“I’m your and older crazier magus sister, do the math, Shirou,” she snarked as she completed…a slingshot? “Ta-da! It even has wings!”
Shirou took the crafted weapon and rolled it around in his hands. The glowing construct felt cool and metallic, though it looked weightless and ethereal. “But this isn’t a bow.”
“Minimalism, Shirou,” she shot back with a flat look. “There are many types of ranged weapons, but a ranged weapon is still a ranged weapon. How many tautologies must I state for you to understand?”
“I’m not following?” Shirou tilted his head.
“Just pull the thing back, make those wings glow like crazy, and let go,” Illya said with the corresponding motions to mimic. “And surprise those Servants with it. After that, I’ll help make you an opening. And we should make sure to telepathically call our Servants to attack without laser beam spams while we do it. Got it?”
It was kind of long-winded, but Shirou got the gist of it. “Got it. Distract and exploit?”
Illya hugged him. “My little brother’s growing up so well…I mean, he’ll probably be stupid forever, but still.”
Shirou blushed at that jokingly overdramatic praise. “Come on, let’s go, Illya-nee.”
“Look, we’re stuck on the same level, Father!”
“If those spells and that pegasus don’t kill us, then your attempts at humor will, Mordred.”
So went another exchange from the child and the parent as they dodged more attacks from Caster and Rider, whose presences above were currently quite humiliating for the two Knights of the Round Table. There certainly were higher platforms for them to jump on and attack from, but they were too few and too far, especially with the wide open front yard in between. And they had to endure this while their sibling Masters conjured up a plan to actually gain an advantage.
“Expect some dirty tactics, Father!”
“Stop repeating the obvious, Mordred!”
Oh, and there were also Mordred’s attempts at boosting morale. Arturia guessed that Mad Enhancement killed her “son’s” inhibitions there. Maybe she could’ve used that back in their time? Or, perhaps…
“Mordred, please talk to those women!”
“Now we’re talking! Hey!”
The barrage of lights paused, particularly as Mordred rolled into a kneeling position right below Caster.
“I ask for your ears, fair maidens!” the Berserker called, sounding a bit more like the knight she really was.
And then she almost got torn apart by Rider and the pegasus.
“You may be witches now, but I can still see the fair maidens you once were!” Mordred continued, making Arturia twitch at that bone-headedness.
“You and your mother certainly look like fair maidens as well!” Caster called back, though she still continued unleashing her spells. “But we know treachery when we see it! Now where is your Master, Berserker? Sakura requires his presence!”
“That broken girl needing my idiot Master?” Mordred asked back, literally running in circles now. “That’s like Guinevere needing Lancelot!”
Saber facepalmed at that. Definitely Mad Enhancement killing those inhibitions.
And then Saber saw a thin streak of light zip past Caster, who was alerted with Rider.
“It appears that these knights’ Masters are distracting us,” the horse-riding Servant stated.
“DAMN IT, I FORGOT ABOUT WISE BLIND PEOPLE!” Illyasviel shouted as she appeared with her younger brother, who was holding what seemed to be a slingshot made out of his sister’s hair.
“Get up somewhere you can get the jump on them from.”
And while her Master was quirky, to say the least, Arturia’s instincts were sharp and comfortable enough to work with Illya’s tricks. So as she shook her head with a wry smile at the irony of their relationship, Saber turned to Berserker, who was looking back with a wide grin.
“Do you really think you can achieve victory with such unpreparedness, dear?” Caster then questioned the ones playing fools. “I am neither a princess you can deceive away from her kingdom with trite words, nor am I a giant you can knock down with a stone flung into her eyes. And do you really think that Rider and I cannot dodge that obvious preparation I sense coming over there?”
“Just keep going and waiting.”
Not like Arturia felt much of a need for that reminder. She already figured out how to ground the two flying Servants too. So with that in mind, she gestured to Mordred with her invisible sword as they continued their move from treetops to rooftops, earning a nod in response.
And then they looked at Caster dodging more streaks light aimed at her face. This time, the Servant of the Spell looked quite flustered.
“Hey, I thought you’re better than us?” Illya smirked. “What’s a little slingshot to Your Majesty who’s better than a giant?”
Meanwhile, Rider sighed. “Caster, please do not be carried away by this girl’s tricks.”
“Do you not understand pride, Rider?” Caster growled back, only to cringe as she remembered something. “Wait, of course you wouldn’t, considering your history…”
“I do, Caster,” Rider answered with a flat expression. “I know that it comes before a fall. Like what we will have next if we do not stop those Servants.”
Berserker started a run and then jumped off with a yell towards Rider, who struggled but managed to throw the attacking Servant off her and her mount’s backs. Unfortunately…
…that gave Saber enough time to unleash the wind around her sword and stagger the airborne Servants.
And then Shirou fired more streaks at Illya’s signal, the shots now striking true upon Caster’s and Rider’s faces.
With that, Saber took the chance, doing a run and a jump to drive her sword through Rider’s back, followed by jumping off to plunge her sword into Caster’s chest.
As the Servant of the Sword witnessed Caster’s pitifully croaking end on the ground, she heard the Servant of Madness fatally slice Rider behind her.
“Oh yeah!” Illya also whooped.
“Illya-nee, what about Tohsaka and Sakura?” Shirou asked.
“Onward, Mordred!” Arturia immediately called as she went deeper into the temple. “We must assist our allies ahead!”
“Don’t get too excited, Father!” Mordred responded as she followed. “Also, I just realized that we just drove swords into those fine ladies without getting their names first!”
And just as the King of Knights thought that the Knight of Treachery finally stopped making horrible jokes.
“What an honor to have the Tohsaka Clan’s remains honoring my humble wishes.”
So went the fake priest speaking through Sakura’s body, which was distorted by the mud corrupting the Grail. The killer who lost his original body seized control as Rin, with Lancer as her distanced rear guard, faced Sakura one-on-one. The current Tohsaka head considered how Sakura could’ve made contact with that mud and Kirei ever since the previous night, but before she went to a certain conclusion…
“Did you stuff yourself and that…thing inside my sister, Kirei?” she asked, shrugging her prosthetic right arm again as she endured the foreignness of it and its magical energy. “Answer me now.”
“Would you believe if I said that my presence here was a happy result of foolishness,” he replied with a cold look, “While your sister being a Lesser Grail was the work of a magus that even my cursed self would abhor? You know I would never lie to you.”
“There’s still omission, considering what you did to Father, Mother, and Uncle Kariya, Kirei,” Rin shot back, “But that aside, I guess I can believe you. Now should I assume that you won’t be handing over my sister’s body back that easily?”
“If it won’t be much of an inconvenience,” he replied with a twisted grin, the corruption covering Sakura’s body with the form of a sharp-clawed and thick-limbed beast, “Then I would like to see this city filled with the Grail’s mud once again.”
“At least you’re honest…” Rin flipped her hair out and gave a side glance. “Lancer.”
“Finally!” said Servant yelled as he launched past his current Master.
“Watch out for that cursed Grail mud, though, and don’t kill my sister,” Rin ordered, using up an equivalent of a Command Spell through her new arm, admiring and fearing how Illyasviel managed to create quite a convenient copy of, ironically, some Matou work.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Lancer replied as he jumped around Kirei’s attacks and attempted to stab in return. “GAH!”
Lancer’s side released some smoke as the curse made contact with his body. He jumped back to Rin’s side and gave her a look. “Little help here, Master?”
Rin pursed her lips and charged forward.
It could be called stupid, but if Rin could spare some idiocy for Shirou Emiya, then she could spare some for her younger sister as well.
And it seemed that Sakura was still fighting deep inside, considering how the cursed mud beast flinched and gasped at Rin’s aggressive charge.
“Uncle Kariya is gone…No one will save me anymore.”
The first punch had Rin facing memories of Sakura surrendering to those disgusting worms.
“I wish I could kill her…kill him…kill them all.”
The second punch had Rin feeling Sakura’s desire to kill all those more privileged than her.
“I won’t let anyone take Senpai…Shirou…away.”
A subsequent knee had Rin meeting Sakura’s maddened care for Emiya-kun.
“No, I won’t just kill them…I’ll kill them slowly and painfully…Take away everything they love…I’m no different from that worm…”
An elbow had Rin discovering Sakura’s descent into Zouken Matou’s level of bitterness.
And then Rin found herself unable to move any further, the beast holding her curse-scorched body in place by the elbow, all while the curse ate her left arm away at a more alarming pace.
Suddenly, there was Lancer, who had taken advantage of an opening from the side and stabbed, forcing the beast to release Rin and shake Lancer off.
“That was really crazy, Master!” the Hound of Culann declared as he jumped away from the beast, “But you got honor as well, so keep on fighting!”
Rin wasn’t sure about how long they could hold out, but considering how Sakura had some awareness about what was going on, she would give it everything she got here.
“You are in the way of my current entertainment.”
So did Gilgamesh state in his teenage form, finding his child form a bit lacking for this particular excursion. With it, he found himself looking at humanity and its foolishness with a sneer again, but he held himself back somewhat, considering how his new life companions treated him with some respect even after humiliating him. The fact that none of them tailed him right now also helped. It allowed him to more easily unleash his most prized weapon, which was ideally meant for his and his one friend’s eyes only.
“Those mongrels shall never equal you, Enkidu,” he stated as he stepped back and right outside the cave, now holding a gold and crimson thing that was and was not a sword charging up through its spinning segments. “But something tells me that you may find them enjoyable.”
Then he pointed his Sword of Rupture at the cave. “Now, cup, blind yourself before my brilliance!” He pulled back, and then… “Enuma Elish!“
Glowing crimson energy burst into the cave as he thrust his weapon forward, causing the cave to collapse and close. A tremor shook the area, and the earth shook even after the cave was sealed, subsequent explosions sounding as well.
When the tremors and explosions stopped, the King of Heroes dematerialized Ea. Then he turned and walked back to his new life companions, grinning all the while as he looked forward to their pampering of him.
The first thing EMIYA saw when he opened his eyes…was the moon in the night sky.
And though his limbs felt stiff, he managed to see the handle of the Tora-Shinai copy he held…and nothing else.
“It’s scary how you’re such a pushover, Shirou. Sorry about that again.”
Above him was a smile. It was more jovial, even though he was sure that he and she could feel the vibrations from the fights beyond them. Someone was certainly keeping a promise very well, then.
“Maybe you can look cool by being a copycat,” Fuji-nee continued, “But even you know that you can’t beat the genuine article, right?”
“Sometimes,” he wryly smirked back. “A lot of those original users aren’t from the future, you know?”
A light tap came upon his forehead from the real Tora-Shinai. “Since when did you become so cheeky? Seriously, I bet you even broke a lot of girls’ hearts after taking their bodies too. And I hope I wasn’t one of them!”
“Of course I didn’t,” Archer smirked even wider. “Not with that freeloading attitude of yours.”
“You little brat!” Fuji-nee pinched and pulled his cheek, though she was also smirking at him. “But at least I beat you in a Tora-Shinai fight! Now what happens next?”
Archer’s eyes looked into the distance again. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just be stuck in hell again. Maybe I’ll meet another version of all of you. Sold my soul to some mad instincts just for that. Well, that, and killing myself, which…”
“…Doesn’t make any sense,” Fuji-nee poked his cheek this time. “Well, just leave yourself, whatever version it is, to me, your self-proclaimed older sister who’s definitely better than that mini psycho disciple!”
“You know she’s Kiritsugu’s biological daughter, right?”
“Damn it, you got me there…”
And Archer faded away with a laugh.
Taiga smiled, and then looked up to the moonlit sky, but…
She had to steady herself as the earth shook. Then she looked at the battlefield behind her, hoping that her family and friends were keeping themselves safe enough.
“Wait…no one’s there?” Taiga then realized, so she ran deeper into the temple grounds.
“Don’t kill her!”
That was what Shirou and his companions were greeted with by Rin Tohsaka as they arrived to reinforce her and Lancer’s fight against Sakura, who had gone berserk with the black and red-lined curse that brought back the adopted Emiya’s memories of the night when he was practically reborn into the world.
“We should check that damn Grail later,” Shirou then heard Illya-nee say, also keeping him away from being frozen by his darker memories. “But I get the feeling that our missing gold friend did something to that already, judging from that tremor we just felt.”
“So we just knock Little Miss Crazy out and purify the demon inside her?” Berserker asked.
“Rin Tohsaka!” Saber called. “What is going on with her?”
“Grail crap and a fake priest possessing her!” Tohsaka shouted as she had her slowly crumbling artificial arm take another hit from the cursed Sakura. “Someone help me get to her!”
And then there was Fuji-nee, who was now standing to catch her breath beside Shirou. Meanwhile, the adopted Emiya took that as his last signal to not waste any more time.
“Fuji-nee, we need to stop and save Sakura!” he told her, and then he faced the raging beast up ahead, which had just paused its rampage as it looked at him and Fuji-nee. “Sakura! It’s me, Shirou! Fuji-nee’s also here! We’re here for you!”
The pause continued.
“Ah, the Emiya heirs are all here.”
Then the beast twitched, opening a sharp toothy maw and letting out a deep male voice.
“How unfortunate, though,” the voice continued, “That I never had the chance to meet you personally as this Holy Grail War’s overseer, Shirou Emiya.”
“Who are you?” Shirou had to ask.
“That sounds like Kirei Kotomine,” Illya-nee answered with narrowed eyes. “I think we’ve all met him already.”
“Wait, there’s an Overseer for this thing I was dragged into?” Shirou tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
“Wait, didn’t you have that genius Tohsaka witch with you the whole time?” Illya-nee mirrored Shirou. “You looked kinda close, you know?”
“Well, she never told me anything about meeting an Overseer?” the adopted Emiya tried to double-check his memories in the midst of all this chaos.
“What?” Fuji-nee uttered, about as confused as Shirou. “That’s Father Kotomine? Possessing Sakura?”
“How cute, Rin,” the possessing Kotomine then laughed. “And dear teacher, I am not the sole – UGH!”
And then Tohsaka, although fuming with a heavy blush, took that chance to unleash a beatdown upon the one she called a fake priest.
“Huh, whatever works!” Lancer commented with a wide-eyed shrug and smile. “Now we’re win – ”
Unfortunately, his head was cut off before he could fully express his words of hopeful relief.
“HAHAHA – Huh?”
But right after that, Kotomine was cut off once again by the beast he was possessing.
“I can’t move this beast anymore!” the beast’s voice gradually shifted from low to high. “I can’t – GET OUT OF MY BODY!”
Soon enough, the curse blob that covered Sakura Matou, who now sported white hair and red eyes, migrated into a gigantic mass covering her left arm.
“SOMEBODY CUT MY ARM OFF!” Sakura then shouted as she held her cursed arm.
At that, Saber charged ahead to deliver a quick yet powerful slice, managing to do what was asked.
But as Sakura fell back, the blob twitched and then grasped at Saber, who was left incapable of using her weapon as she was suffocated by the curse. Shirou had to hold his adoptive sister from recklessly running to her Servant, especially as memories of that day gave him twinges again.
“OH NO, YOU DON’T!”
But as Shirou found himself helpless once again, he saw his Servant charge in like the mad being her Class made her to be.
“GET BACK, ALL YOU IDIOTS!”
So did Mordred shout at the inconvenienced ones behind her. To her, calling those fools magi would be an insult to the likes of Morgan and Merlin, and calling those fools warriors would be an insult to likes of her and her fellow knights. And if she managed to save and protect the King back when she served as a member of the Round Table, then why couldn’t she do it again now?
“You dare…go against…the King…Traitor…?”
Through that blob consuming her Father, Mordred could see a pale and gold-eyed imitation grinning back at her.
As a result, it only took a few moments for the Berserker to get her Noble Phantasm fully charged.
“CLARENT: BLOOD ARTHUR!”
Mordred did not care if it would kill her. Catching a glimpse of her Father being a monster like that was worse than what she had to deal with before this Holy Grail War crap.
So as the light of her betrayal cut into the world ahead of her, Mordred smiled with no regrets.
Indeed, she had never felt clarity so strong before.
And when she found herself the last dying person on that hill of death again, she laughed her heart out.
Even as it gave pain to her damaged body, she kept on laughing, hand reaching out to the illuminating sky above her.
“I expect a good pampering from you all, servants! Also, note that the word “servants” does not start with a capital letter.”
So did Gilgamesh greet what was left of his new companions as they left the ruined Ryuudou Temple premises.
“Did you destroy the Grail, Goldy?” the Einzbern puppet asked.
“Why, of course!” the King of Heroes confirmed, hands on his sides and a smirk on his face. “You need not check, for I am a very thorough man. Now please, pamper me, servants.”
“Wait, you’re that kid?” asked the plain violent woman, who was currently carrying an unconscious Matou girl on her back. “You look a bit bigger than I remember.”
“I have regained a good amount of my manliness, woman,” Gilgamesh replied. “Though I am also quite confident that my womanly self would be just as formidable as my manly self.”
“Did my father have to deal with this crap too?” the once again one-armed Tohsaka spawn groaned from the back of a boy who had the scent of a Faker.
“This is not even my most imposing self,” the younger but not quite young Gilgamesh answered. “And I am certain that you have met that most imposing self of mine already!” And then he noticed some absences. “Where is my dear Saber and her ‘son,’ though?”
“Uh, died in a blaze of glory,” the Einzbern puppet answered with a clipped tone.
Gilgamesh felt disappointment at that. “What a shame.” Then he looked at the Tohsaka, who was now growing a glare that reminded him of a certain goddess whom he considered deserving of a fate worse than death. “Would you like to be my next lover, then? I can provide you with a superior replacement arm as well.”
“In your dreams, you foppy creep,” the feisty lady scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“Over my dead body,” the dumb Emiya boy added, also earning looks from his female companions.
Gilgamesh laughed at all that, and then he turned to walk down the stairs. “Continue entertaining me, then, mongrels! The King has managed to gather a good amount of mercy for you.”
Those mongrels could ask why, but he had no intent to admit the whole truth to them. It had aspects which were obviously something that even Enkidu would laugh at and pester him about, and the King’s violent tantrums could only go so far. Plus, even the King himself still did not fully understand himself.
But all that is human life, the strangest, if not the rarest, treasure he had ever known.
Next Chapter: To the Dawn Again