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Crawl like a Worm (Nasuverse SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Jan 5, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 10: Morning, Musing and Magic Girls
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 10: Morning, Musing and Magic Girls




    Illyasviel von Einzbern didn’t felt like getting up from her comfy bed that day.

    It was quite early in the morning, her curtains were still low enough for only a small sliver of feeble light to pass through and she couldn’t hear anyone messing around the kitchen, meaning that Sella was still sleeping for now.

    With a sigh, red eyes stared quietly at the ceiling, her mind returning to once more wander about what had happened in the last few months. Becoming a magical girl, facing so many enemies and making new friends along the way and…

    And then Shinji Matou happened.

    She wasn’t by any mean annoyed, nor she felt any particular negative for the young boy as he had so far been helping them with the cards and joining in the ‘peace-keeping’ group in Fuyuki. She wasn’t even mad when the boy had taken the Caster and Saber card away from them, it was odd but… he wasn’t planning to conquer the world with those.

    It felt more like a parent taking a dangerous object from a child’s hands and making better use of it to protect and help. It was kind of infuriating how he showed a maturity she was still exploring… and she was 13!

    He mentioned the ‘Kaleidoscope’ several times to motivate his impressive knowledge over the whole situation but the thing was that… uh…

    Ruby said that wasn’t possible.

    While Zelretch-baka might be able to know stuff from other dimensions, no one can truly use the Kaleidoscope to find out the full history of even a single dimension.

    Being that the Mystic Code was tuned to the Second Magic, it was clear that her knowledge over the subject was factual and truthful, but it left little Illya to approach the matter the best she could.

    Asking him directly? Part of her ushered her away from even thinking about that. While Shinji had been friendly around them, his group was very protective of him and the Einzbern was quite sure that questioning him like that would warrant some aggressive reactions from them.

    Speaking of the group, her mind shifted to a lone member of it that Illya could consider ‘family’ to some extent. Chloe von Einzbern, Kuro or… her ‘real self’ was a topic that left her chest squirming in thought. The mere sight of someone looking just like her, but behaving differently around others and ignoring him the best she could, was a constant reminder that her mama and papa had lied to her.

    She had thought that her parents’ experience with Magecraft was limited, as their lack of grand surprise as they discovered about Ruby and her contract with her gave the young girl so much confusion and shock that she couldn’t even find something to start with in an attempt to elaborate her thoughts about it.

    Illya sighed as she found herself drawn back to reality as she spotted a familiar object flying right in front of her sight. Ruby giggled as she slowly descended and- BONK

    “Owie! Ruby!”

    The magical stick giggled again, this time with a teasing tone. “Ne~ is Illya-chan thinking about her Onii-chan?

    Cheeks burning red, Illya made a monumental effort by shaking her head negatively. “I-I wasn’t!”

    Oh? Maybe about Myu?” The mere mentioning of her close friend caused her cheeks turn a darker shade of red. “S-Stop it!-”

    Or is it Shin-ji-kun~?” Her mouth opened automatically, ready to dismiss the umpteenth guess of the stick when she realized it was indeed that.

    “I… was?”

    Oh! Is little Illya-chan preparing to wage war against his harem? Is she ready for a legendary conquest?

    “N-Not that way, pervert!” She huffed annoyingly, her embarrassment dissipating after too much teasing. One could say that after living with Ruby for months she long grown accustomed with most of her shenanigans. “I-I was thinking about that question I asked you a week ago.”

    The one about him using the Kaleidoscope to accommodate his surreal amount of knowledge over this world?” The stick stopped a moment to breath, taking her owner’s nod to continue. “Then you wish to infiltrate his lair, which is actually more of Chloe-chan’s love castle?

    “Yes- Wait, ‘love castle’?”

    A mature young lady, seeking to breach her interest’s cool heart and ensnare him to herself and her lovely friends. I think ‘Love Castle’ is aptly picked-

    “I-It cannot be that way-”

    And why is that, Illya-chan? Do you know Shinji-kun and Kuro-chan that much to say they would fall in that kind of line?

    “I-” And Illya stopped there. The stick had brought up one thing she had considered marginally but was quite important and essential if she wished to know more about Shinji’s secret. She had yet to make steps to approach him, to be called his friend and…

    She knew little how to meet him ‘casually’ when he was in town. The girl groaned, bringing her pillow over her face, drowning a small scream of annoyance.

    Why was socializing this difficult now?!

    But I think you might have the chance of talking with him quite soon as your mama got something yesterday.

    “Uh?” Red eyes looked over the pillow as the Mystic Code hummed. “What do you mean?”

    Do you remember that she was thinking about summertime now that school is coming to a close and how we all should be spending it?

    … “Yeah?” For some reason, Illya felt the need to brace herself as something terrible-

    Well, your mama managed to find an affordable mini-swimming pool yesterday and she wanted to try it out! Shinji-kun and others got invited too!



    “EEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?!”




    Miyu Edelfelt was feeling incredibly nervous.

    She had overheard Luvia speaking to Illya’s mom, Irisviel-san, about the chance of them spending a day together by the swimming pool the woman had just bought few days ago. The young girl could remember when Luvia forced Rin to built one because she was a maid and… their mutual boss showing her vindictive self when she wanted.

    The Tohsaka was angry through the whole day, but managed to get the medium-sized pool working after a day or two of strenuous working. No ‘Thank you’ or a tip for the hard-work, the older Edelfelt was enjoying the fact her very rival was forced to respect every single whim for her.

    She was obviously apart from that kind of relationship, receiving quite the minimum work for her job, the blonde mentioning that she wouldn’t ‘slave’ a little girl for duties normally given to adults. Something that surprisingly enough helped her managing her schedule about school and work while also letting some free time once in a while.

    But she was nervous!

    In few hours from now, Miyu was going to be at Illya’s house and- She didn’t know what to do about it. They have been close friends for a long time now and yet she felt that… there was more.

    She knew that there was more, something beyond friendship that she couldn’t grasp fully. Her heart would beat quicker, faster, as she would see Illya smile and it didn’t help that Ruby had been alluding to an amorous relationship that needed to blossom.

    The idea felt abstract, but also right. This was… confusing without ending to it.

    She sighed, her eyes glancing at the ceiling as she had woken up quite early and it was too much early to wake up Luvia for breakfast. She noticed Sapphire floating around as she got closer and sighed.

    Something on your mind, Miyu-sama?

    A polite tone, the very same the Mystic Code would use in every situation. It was mellowed after some time of being together as the kaleidostick had enough time to grow more accepting of her young master and… she would offer some advice when needed.

    “Today is going to be an important day, Sapphire.” The girl spoke softly, knowing to not use a loud voice or else waking up the rest of the house at this ‘unholy’ hour of the morning. “I… I don’t know how to face Illya.”

    I think Nee-san has already mentioned that you need to be a little less restrained around Illya-sama. Plus you will enjoy some less pressure with Shinji-sama around here too.

    Miyu shifted in her bed, eyes closing a little in thought as she contemplated about the other reason she was quite nervous for today.

    Shinji Matou was… an unknown element in her world. She could remember her Oniisan mentioning someone with his name going missing for few months and his surname matched up with the kind girl her Oniisan would walk around with before she got kidnapped. Sakura Matou.

    She had long tried to understand if this ‘Shinji Matou’ was dangerous or not, part of the Ainsworth family or someone even worse, but all research yielded little to nothing as the boy was… not in this dimension.

    The Matou stopped existing decades ago, the last surviving member having changed his surname because of ‘bad memories’, thus he wasn’t from this very dimension. She had weighed the fact he could have been from another dimension, his statement proving it and little Luvia cementing this theory pushing Miyu to evaluate other details of such individuals.

    He knew about her plight, he knew about her Oniisan and he knew about the Ainsworth. The disdain he shown with his voice about the group further assured his trustworthiness, going so far to even keep her little secret she had thought of revealing to the rest of the group now.

    With the event of today, a chance for further understanding of his character would be available and… she could maybe get to know him more.

    Her curiosity of befriending such individual stemmed by the fact, for some reason, she felt a connection with him. Something, in his eyes, felt familiar to her, the very haunted look she would see in the mirror of her bathroom when she looked at it while thinking of her Oniisan.

    Both wanted to save their respective siblings and both came from less than normal situations. If she had to be honest, part of her would have considered this Shinji to be her very counterpart in the dimension he come from.

    It was an odd theory but the more he interacted around her, the more Miyu was sure of it as her mind resonated in agreement with his logic. There were some questionable morality here and there, but he seemed to be keen to remind everyone he knew that some of the things he was doing was wrong and that he wasn’t doing out of pleasure, but out of duty and safety.

    When he took few of the Cards they had for his plans? The young Edelfelt understood that only someone that knows better about the inner workings of the Grail could truly make sure that those were safe to have around. That is why she had been incredibly confused when Zelretch had refused to accept the seven Cards, ordering to keep those in Fuyuki for… reasons.

    Sapphire had been quick to explain her how her creator’s mind worked and, if she had to be honest, she found the man to be someone to never met, not even once in her life.

    Ambitious, eccentric, mysterious and playing around with people, never showing true caring for those around him. He was the epitome of a selfish person, the kind of individual Miyu disliked the most.

    Shuffling under her covers, the young girl sighed softly and her eyes slowly closed as sleep had finally come to her. “T-Thank you, Sapphire.”

    She couldn’t see the mystic code from there, but Miyu could imagine her bending a little to nod at her.

    You are welcome, Miyu-sama.




    “This is a bad idea.”

    Five words to describe in the best light possible the distress this new development was bringing to my poor brain. Irisviel was starting to show the very thing I had long feared to see her showing with this ‘kind’ invitation.

    Once she knew that there is someone ‘cute’, ‘adorable’, ‘child-like’ and ‘mom-less’, she would try to approach them, cuddle them and then make them part of her expanding family. It was all done with a good heart, but the planning was atrocious.

    Going in a swimming pool, a very ‘little’ one to booth, with several younger girls in skimpy bikinis that were all going to press with each other and me-

    Thank God I wasn’t going to enter that blasted pool!

    My saving grace was that I wasn’t keen to be this close to people with so little clothes on. Why was I like this in general? Well, I have something of a fake illness called obsessive privacy preservation and that did cost me several things in my life.

    But now? I was going to employ all the tricks and expedients I had learned from years of practicing such situation to avoid getting ‘fan-serviced’ by fate.

    And while I was plotting all the possible ways to avoid getting stuck in any ecchi scene, the girls and Gilgamesh were already checking on their swimming clothes and my reaction to all those were… mixed.

    Chibi Luvia’s was so far the cutest as it was the classic school swimming suit children her age would use. It was oddly adorable to see the girl fidget at the staring but, seeing me giving her a thumb up, she seemed to relax and enjoy the praising coming her way.

    Turning to Gilgamesh, I was glad that he didn’t pick anything overly-exotic as he choose what looked to be a common swimming trunks with yellow and red color as main theme. He seemed to enjoy flexing the muscles he didn’t have but giggled when he was being reminded he wasn’t his older Archer self.

    Artoria was kind of a surprise as I had expected her to pick her Summer’s Rider clothes for this occasion and yet… she picked her ‘normal’ self’s Archer swimming suit, the one she got at Stage 3 of her Ascension. The color were different, the grand white replaced by purple and the black by the side replaced by a soft red.

    I nodded at her choice and she turned her face away, unable to cover the little blush appearing at the compliment as the Tyrant of Knights was glad to have found a good compromise.

    Kuro shocked me the most having decided to wear a decent-sized swim skirt and a bandeau bikini top. Overall an acceptable mix that didn’t show any unnecessary skin while also not being oppressively conservative.

    She let out a giggle at my compliment and she slowly tip-toed to me, bringing her mouth close to my ear.

    You know, I wouldn’t mind seeing what is underneath that shirt.” I blinked and paled a little as I was bringing with me an open shirt as… I had to hide several little, unpleasant reminders of my time with the Matou family. “I would love to see you wear the scars bravely.”

    I sighed. “I would too, Kuro-chan, I would too.

    She nodded and backed away as she went to comment amiably the other girls’ clothes, understanding that the topic was quite sore on me and I was still thinking what to do when I was going to be told to ditch the shirt.

    While I could staunchly opposite this and ask to be left alone, I know the tactic would only end up having them want to see me do that even more.

    “Shinji, could you help me with my hair?” The cute voice Chibi Luvia used to ask such request sweetened the whole situation and, with a small smile, helped her hair to fit better in the short comb she wanted to use for today.

    Letting long hair hang freely while swimming might be fun but the aftermath was going to be an atrocious mess to deal with. Humming quietly, I felt like today was going to be an easy day.

    It was going to be tiring too but… it was a pseudo-beach episode. No bad guys, no terrible encounters and especially… no Ainsworths to deal with for the day.




    “Sel-la, why are you wasting so much time trying on your swim wear?”

    Of course Sella had to be convinced to partake in such indecent display of skin. Staring at the long mirror in the bathroom, she posed to see if her current state showed too much of herself. Maybe she should have picked a swimming suit? Bikinis generally showed too much skin and-

    The door behind her opened to reveal Leysritt, the bustier of the two maid appearing quite annoyed by the time her fellow Einzbern was wasting to pick a proper clothing for the occasion. She ignored the scandalized shock in the hard-working maid and picked her orange swimming wear.

    “I-It was busy-”

    “You are wasting too much time.” The chill woman reminded and she gave her a long look. “You know that Shinji will not like it if you are this indecisive about things.”

    The little mentioning of the boy caused her to pause, blush and having her eyes shoot wide open. “What?! I-I am not going there because of Shi- the Matou boy!

    “You almost said his name. For someone that tries to lie around about the reason you accepted ‘begrudgingly’ Irisviel-san’s offer, you sure seem eager to make a good appearance.”

    “I do that every special occasion- And y-you did accept that too for Shinji-”

    “That is one of the reasons, yes.” Liz stated shamelessly, ignoring the following shock from Sella. “But I think I like the cool water with the warm weather-”

    “You- WHAT?”

    “I like… cool water?”

    “Before that!”

    “Shinji?”

    “Why would you be interested in a boy? That is so wrong-”

    “What do you mean?” Leysritt tilted her head in confusion. “I just want to eat snacks with him while watching some TV.”

    … “That is wro- wait, what?”

    “I don’t see why age would be a problem if I want to spend some afternoon with him. It’s not like I lack the same company with Illya and Shirou once in a while.”

    Sella frowned, her words while genuine lacking one real truth. “You mean that you have no interest in… being in a relationship with him?”

    Leysritt sighed at the question, turned to the fellow maid and grasped her shoulders, causing the woman to look at her in confusion. “I want to. But he is young and that would be wrong.” She stated calmly. “Differently from you, I am not trying to make a ‘fake good’ impression now because of that. He is young but… with what we are we got enough time to wait for the ‘proper’ time to truly try.”

    It was one of the few times the lazy woman showed interest in someone, but not just a superficial and marginal kind of interest. That was serious interest, one that well-gauged and planned to avoid failure and conquer success.

    Thinking about this, Sella felt her shoulders sag a little and was about to let the short-haired Einzbern off when-

    “’D-Differently from me?’ Are you calling me a pervert, Liz. You?!”

    “You are fawning over a little boy. That is what only degenerates do, don’t they?”

    “GAH! COME HERE!”

    But surprisingly enough, the ever-lazy Liz managed to out-speed her ‘sister’ almost instantly. Rushing to her room, the woman then started to quickly prepare herself for the day as she had indeed laid out a plan for little Shinji.

    While indeed she wanted to spend some good afternoon time with snacks and TV, Leysritt had failed to mention that she wanted to make good use of the modified ‘Game of Life’ tabletop game Irisviel-san had already used on Sella and her.

    What good occasion to make use of such delightful game and get some further entertainment out of it?




    AN

    Poor Shinji is walking towards a trap and sadly he cannot do much but let it happen. Plus what seems to be the classic OVA episode from the 2herz series is actually something a little more complex. You see, there is something like ‘jinxing things up’ and Shinji did that.

    Lots of women and girls, trying to fit in such a small swimming pool…

    Now that is the evolution of ol’ cat-fighting.

    Also first step in the project of the fan-game: I got the sprite of Shirou almost done, needs only some shadows and refinement and should be good to be applied. Progress Reports are going to be available in my p tr eon page so… cheers!
     
  2. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Does this mean Shinji's age has been retconned as well? At the time of Zero he would have been 7-8 and this was collaborated with you saying Illya was 3 years older (being 10-11 [in canon she was 10 until her birthday]), so it matched...but now you are saying she is 13. Is Shinji 10 now?
     
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  3. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Not a true retcon. Until asking directly to Kuro (the aftermath seeing a backstage beating), Shinji was aware that Illya was 10-11 years old in Prillya. Truth be told the info about them being 13 (Illya and Kuro) and 14 (Miyu) came a little later compared to the beginning of Crawl like a Worm. And yes, corrected age gap is 6 years.
     
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  4. Jeff Roy

    Jeff Roy Not too Sora, are you?

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    Poor SInji. Zelretch cursed him with Harem Protag Syndrome.
     
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  5. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    I just remember him monologuing after meeting Illya/Chloe about them being 3 years older, thus my question about it being retconned.

    Thanks for the clarification :D
     
  6. Tobi

    Tobi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I think I asked this in another site before but each time I read your fic and think of possible powers your Shinji can get my mind keeps going to the demon pillars. In Prisma Illya and Miyuverse are the demon Pillars dead. I keep thinking they will come in for some reason.

    I like the slice of life chapters... because I know the horror and grim darks parts will come. So I enjoy the light will it shines.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 11: Siblings, Scars and Worms
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 11: Siblings, Scars and Worms

    Chloe von Einzbern hummed quietly as she led the small group of friends towards the Emiya household.

    At this hour of the morning most of the city was already either to work or enjoying some early beginning of their own holidays. With a modest beach and a pleasant park all within Fuyuki, very few individuals preferred to go somewhere else during this season and that has been a particular tradition for more than a decade now.

    The memories from Justeaze were useful, deadly so, as the tanned girl had some major insight over the happenings of this important place in the last two centuries and about the leylines present within the land.

    It was helpful but also dreadful, some memories unpleasant to even think about because of their weight for the current present. That part of her that was influenced by those images looked at Shinji with curiosity, failing to grasp how someone like him came from Zolgen Makiri.

    Brief fragments of a snappy Magus, sprouting about superiority and ambitions of ideal world peace. The latter bit was what allied the Einzberns to the Makiri/Matou as the chance of ending all conflict and bringing a unitary push for the Root resonated deep within the prime homunculus.

    And yet it was all for nothing.

    The mere proof that Justeaze’s oldest ally had gone through a radically different path was unquestionable as the scars Shinji was hiding with his shirt carried a familiar energy trace.

    Zouken was a monster, the young Matou had repeated this several times when she asked about his past, his answers curt and quick to the end as too painful to phrase around. She would be wrong in saying she understood the plight of the leading figure in this ragtag of misfits, but Kuro knew one little thing many would skip about Shinji.

    In that smile, even when genuine, there were still hints of something terrible looming over his mind, a thought of the past that keeps him from fully enjoying the present, denying him a happy future after so much suffering.

    Angry and helpless, there was little the young Demi-Servant could do about this issues, only be there and give her support when needed. It sounded little but… it was what she could do at the moment.

    Suddenly Kuro stopped in her tracks, eyes blinking once and then twice as she caught sight of a distinct individual standing by the entrance. Her sight, enchanted by the Archer Card, gave her some better look over said figure and she dreaded what she was seeing.

    Sakura Matou wasn’t Shinji’s little sister. While the boy might be convinced and determined to help this look-alike because of the stark resemblance with his younger sister, they both knew that this individual was far too dangerous to not be treated with caution.

    She came from Miyu’s Dimension, bearing a familiar undertone only those with a Servant Card would and… her body felt odd. The actions and the reactions to certain phenomena were genuine to a real human body, but her Circuits felt different from anyone else.

    It was like… she was facing a puppet, not a true organic being. Like a homunculus but… emptier.

    The female Matou noticed the approaching group and waved with a small smile, behind her a familiar redhead trying to help with some bags. Kuro decided to ignore the distracted Shirou, her eyes fixed on Sakura as the plum-haired girl gave off multiple emotions at once.

    There was surprise, some fear and… genuine happiness?

    It was a strange reaction from someone that was supposed to be their future enemy, but it was also even more confusing that this young woman decided to take a gamble in coming here, in enemy territory.

    Shinji waved back, a simple smile on his face, and Artoria narrowed her eyes at the seemingly harmless girl. Gilgamesh didn’t show any reaction to this development, merely walking closer to the young Matou.

    Kuro glanced back and saw Luvia looking right at her, a questioning expression that she replied with a shrug. Without knowing what to do about this situation, the little blonde followed Kid Gil’s example.

    They finally closed up to the gates that led to the modest house and Shirou stared up from his task of sorting out the two bags. “Oh, Shinji-kun and others.”

    “Shirou-senpai, Sakura-senpai.” The boy replied with a child-like voice, drawing a bigger smile from the carefree Emiya as he continued to try and fail in taking both heavy bags inside.

    Meanwhile the plum-haired girl twitched at the way she was addressed, eyes widening as her smile turned uneasy at the turn of events. Yet there was something hiding that Chloe had some trouble in identifying and…

    Why was she pleased by this?

    -------------------d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d--------

    “Good morning, Shinji-kun~!”

    I groaned inwardly as I was scooped up by the swift Irisviel, my body instantly pressed on her modesty as I tried to keep my mind from wandering through a very dangerous road. My determination to avoid getting caught in some difficult-to-explain situations further improved by the individual behind the kind mother.

    Kiritsugu Emiya was ripped, muscles and all, maybe slightly less than Kirei and he was showing some minor scars here and there in his chest. His glare, which promised utter pain at those who dared to touch inappropriately his wife, was a good deterrent for any poor soul ending up suffering my face.

    Seriously why the few interactions with this version of the Emiya family generally ended up with me trying to wriggle away from some murder by paranoid husband?

    The hug lasted little as I heard three other individuals approaching. Sella was for some reason hiding behind Leysritt while Illya looked quite normal at first sight.

    “Oh, Shinji-kun?” I nodded and the Einzbern approached, glancing briefly towards Kuro and sighing as she got an approving nod from her. It was an odd situation between the two, some friction present here and there but not as much as before.

    “I hope this has not been forceful from Mama-”

    “I will be honest and say ‘kind of’.” She sighed at my reply and I still smiled. “Still, thank you for showing some consideration.”

    A little blush emerged and she smiled herself. “Y-You are welcome, Shinji-kun.”

    As I was about to continue to address the others, I felt a strong hand squeezing at my shoulder. I didn’t need to stare up to recognize the familiar dread coming from the Magus Killer and gulped nervously as he started to speak.

    “Shinji-san, a word in private if possible.”

    Irisviel seemed to be busy bothering Chloe with showing her some other pairs of swimwear for her to use, the maids were helping Shirou and Sakura with the bags while the rest of the group was moving to greet two annoyances approaching.

    I might sound harsh about the two apprentices of this universe’s Zelretch, but I did have my reason to be this petty around them, especially counting the fact they grew in the best dimension possible that was known.

    Nodding slowly, I was quickly ushered in a particularly dark room, an office of sort and placed on the chair in front of Kiritsugu. The man had his stare narrowed on my small frame and he kept quiet for a while.

    Then he spoke. “Shinji Matou, I’ve a request that I wish you could answer without hesitation or doubt.”

    I blinked at the sudden seriousness he was bringing in that situation, but I nodded nonetheless, waiting for him to ask.

    “You have said that you know what happened if we went ahead with the Holy Grail War, how it would have ended up into.”

    There wasn’t any question, only words working as pieces of a puzzle for my mind to form silently and quickly. I sighed. “You want to know if that would have worked-”

    “No.”

    ...What?

    “Beg your pardon?”

    He blinked and nodded. “I spent years thinking if the Grail could have truly achieved my dream of ending war all around the world and all the clues led to an unmistakable ‘no’.”

    He leaned closer and his expression softened. “I… I want to know what I did in that War.” There was a simple pause. “I want to know how far I went for that competition.”

    ...Shit.

    I might have been ready to deal with the usual pragmatic Kiritsugu as this one did resemble every single one version of his, but this query was unexpected. I mean, I could understand that he would want to know how he behaved in that conflict, but I have completely forgotten about this very Kiritsugu.

    He didn’t behave like he had as the Magus Killer, those days gone after years spent with a loving family around him. He was genuinely concerned because, within himself, he knew that he would have gone through some actions that he wouldn’t condone now.

    I sighed gravely and glanced behind at the only door of the room, being greeted by the familiar face that was Maya Hisau’s, the assistant of the Emiya wearing a simple gray bikini. At least now I knew that she was alive in this timeline...

    “Is this office soundproof?” I turned back to the man, giving me a curious stare. “And can she be trusted to not tell this to anyone else?”

    Maya coughed. “I am going to preserve the secrets told there.” She gave me the scariest emotionless look I had ever to face, worse compared to the maids back to the Castle. “Even the most sinful of them all.”

    I slowly nodded at that and started to speak with the worst detail of Kiritsugu’s participation in the War.

    “If you knew that Irisviel needs to die for the Grail to work, how would you deal with the guilt and remorse at committing such act?”

    There was silence, the man’s eyes closing in thought before sighing. “I would try to cut the connection.”

    “And you did, but it was all for naught.” I stated clearly, ignoring the confusion rising on his face. “The Master of Assassin killed her, he broke her neck.”

    More silence but I could hear some shifting behind me. I mean, if Kiritsugu was supposed to be something like Fate’s Batman, his way of ‘cutting the connection’ are pretty quick to understand and imagine.

    “His name-”

    “He is not going to bring harm in this dimension.” My tone showed some confidence as I knew that Kotomine was passive nowadays about this behavior of his. “He has his own family to deal with.”

    He nodded thankfully. “What about… Illya and Shirou?”

    “Acht kept the Boundary Fields up when you tried to approach the Castle, saying that you failed the contract and thus wouldn’t be allowed to approach the ‘new grail’.” He flinched at the way I addressed his daughter but… this had to happen this way. “You found Shirou in Fuyuki, only survivor of the… Fire.”

    “Fire?” He was clueless of the event, as this dimension never experienced it.

    “You ordered your Servant to deploy their Noble Phantasm to destroy the Grail.” I explained quickly. “The corruption sparked a fire that destroyed a good part of the city, Shirou was the only survivor of the disaster because you gave him Avalon.”

    “Excalibur’s scabbard?” He glanced on the side and I did notice a safe on the wall. “So I did summon him-”

    “Her.” I interrupted quickly.

    He blinked. “What?”

    “King Arthur was a woman.” I continued without hesitation. “The young blonde, Artoria, is her ‘Alter’ version, a corrupted version of the original Saber.”

    His eyes widened. “A-And she is a Servant-”

    “No. She has been… resurrected.” I state with some minor doubt. What if the Emiya was going to take the following bit badly as I did resurrect a dead woman from a card.

    “How-”

    “Heroic Spirits only.” I squirmed in my chair as I felt Maya now relatively close where I was. “I can’t bring your… surrogate mother back.”

    He didn’t react to the mentioning of Natalia, but I knew that I did come close to a beating from the man. His past was a sore subject and I was playing with fire there.

    “Understood.” He looked like he had swallowed a lemon but he managed some restrain at the woman being mentioned. “I’m sorry if-”

    “Don’t apologize, Kiritsugu-san.” I muttered quickly. “Everyone would like to have that kind of power to… destroy that fear.”

    He nodded, a brief smile on his face before he returned his attention back at me. “You know, you shouldn’t hide the scars.”

    I froze on my seat at the words and sighed. “I- I don’t want to-”

    “Are you proud of why you gained those, of the action that caused those to be dealt to you?”

    I flinched, mind bringing me back to the very moment I received them.

    I remember letting out some yells as Byakuya, my father, complied with Zouken’s orders. It was the first few times when I tried to directly pull Sakura out of the pool of Crest Worms, ignoring the damage as to get her out of that horrible place.

    Sakura blinked in surprise, pale and empty orbs of purple watering with some strangely familiar emotion. Tears fell but her mind couldn’t compute what was happening within her, a nostalgic sensation that only renewed her sadness somewho.

    Her head would bow down during the whole punishment as she didn’t dare to look as her older brother paid for his kindness, but then she saw the daring smile on his face and… smiled herself.

    “I… I did what was right, yes. But-”

    I felt hands pulling my shirt up and removing it from my hold. Maya didn’t show much in her face but I could easily spot some mischievous glint in her eyes. “Give it back!”

    “Sadly this discussion is over, Shinji-kun.” I turned back to Kiritsugu with a snarl and felt paling as I was graced with Killing Intent. “But if I am told that you did commit some lecherous deed with my wife AND my daughter; you better have the grave ready.”

    I nodded quickly and he smiled. “Good.”

    Thus I was suddenly thrown out of the office without my shirt and I heard a gasp. Looking up I groaned as I spotted Irisviel staring at my back and… at my scars.

    Closing my eyes as my fate was sealed, I accepted the new glomping with some disinterest. I knew that this was merely the prelude for the madness of today’s event…

    -------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d-----

    AN

    Not much to say... except that Fate:player Online reached 1100 Followers!
     
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 12: Pity, Punishment and Worm
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 12: Pity, Punishment and Worm

    If there was something that I found legitimately worth of utter hate and silent anger, it was pity thrown at me.

    The way Irisviel kept me around like a toddler, a murderous-looking toddler that was ready to spit fire and raise hell all around just for the fact I was being manhandled like that.

    While many could easily confuse this as a childish tantrum, being actually an adult stuck in that very limiting body the issue was the fact I was being babied too much.

    There was no cooing, nor any of that stuff, but I was still being ‘comforted’ by the lovely mother while the last preparations were made.

    Of course the gravity of the situation was way beyond the simple irritation at being hold like that, the scars visible in my body easily sparking the morbid curiosity of the many people around for today’s ‘event’.

    And as much as I wanted to push away the Einzbern from coddling me like that, I soon realized that… my scars were glowing slightly. The bluish prana coming from the scarred circuits couldn’t be easily hidden without… a shirt.

    Thus the second best thing was… a tall human being. That could have been one of the many reasons why I was suddenly pulled in that annoying embrace, didn’t mean that I was going to let this go without some proper ‘acting’.

    Yet the scars had been partly revealed to the others, their reaction being mostly of shock and gloom, the only worthwhile reactions being Chibi-Luvia’s, her older self, Rin, Miyu, Illya and… Sakura.

    The two blondes shared the same horrified expression, yet the younger version sported a set of emotions different, more… apt to the current state of our friendship.

    Being her pillar, an example to follow to become ‘a proper apprentice under Lord Zelretch’, Luvia was mortified at the knowledge that I didn’t have the best of childhoods. Sure, I might have said that I didn’t have a kind home back in Fuyuki, but words fell deaf when tangible evidence was bestowed in such a fashion.

    I was unsure by her mere look if she understood the implications regarding the glow of said scars and I strongly hoped she didn’t as… then the dread would be twofold than the one showed right now.

    The Prillya’s apprentices of the Wizard Marshal did recognize the extension of the damage inflicted upon my body, sharing a glance and for once appearing serious regarding a serious situation. There was hardly something that could match this predicament in the series, or at least this early on.

    The two girls would surely continue to think about this, hesitate about ‘solving’ my plight at the price of getting some respect. Hopefully I will end up getting Touko Aozaki to do a professional work rather than trust my life on their hands.

    Miyu… How could I describe this...

    Miyu’s face was blank, none of the struggle that would come at seeing this level of abuse after so much time spent at ease. I could see a glint flickering once or twice during the stare, a sense of kinship, of understanding and… of respectful silence.

    It was never expanded in the lore what kind of ‘experiments’ the girl went before being found by Shirou. It was mentioned that the children of the Sakatsuki clan were subjected to special rituals, but nothing was given for certain.

    Same for what Kiritsugu did to her. While I was certain that none of the Magus Killers in the whole Nasuverse was keen to torture children, I bet the Miyuverse’s Kiritsugu had to have let go of some morals… for the Greater Good.

    A fully functioning Holy Grail? Who would be so stupid to waste that easy opportunity to get their dreams to happen?

    And then when she was captured by the Ainsworth family, but knowing Darius, she had to endure some rituals there… to speed up the Grail process.

    Maybe what happened during her second ‘stay’ was because of the limited time Darius was working with and… I could see that being a thing since she hardly seemed too much traumatized.

    Turning my attention to the young Einzbern’s reaction, I was quick to notice how nervous she looked.

    As much as the girl was trying to enjoy a peaceful life, the sudden presence of the dangerous threats coming from Miyu’s home-dimension were giving her a new perspective of the Magical Girl’s experience and with that she was also growing mentally.

    Growing smart and wise enough to understand that the world could be terribly horrible, the world could be unjust and… unfair.

    Yet the possibility of having someone having experienced abuse this early on? She would have started to realize this harsh truth with Miyu after reaching her dimension, but now that she was still developing and far from being capable of properly decide how to deal with this kind of situation? I wasn’t surprised to see her this much… clueless how to react to this revelation.

    Finally… there was Sakura.

    The plum-haired girl was paler than before, her face holding strongly at a blank mask trying to slip away at the sudden development.

    With the scars, my words regarding my genuine intentions were given some legitimacy. Not enough to make her fully accepting of my presence and… plans, but good enough to possibly avoid some stabby encounters anytime soon.

    The terrible thing about the Miyuverse’s Matou that I was left confused and terribly unaware of was…

    How far did Zouken trained Sakura before croaking a last snarl at the Ainsworths?

    Did he follow the same pace as his Fate Stay Night’s version did or… did he try to speed up the process in a desperate attempt to get a functional heir before his demise?

    The girl tried to avoid my gaze, but my eyes would match with hers more than once, her mask slipping the more I pressured her to give a genuine reaction.

    Knowing that poking too hard while everyone was around could… end up in a difficult mess.

    Since my status didn’t… allow me to enjoy any swimming, Irisviel was ‘kind’ enough to put me in one of the present chairs and give me a towel to cover up before joining the others and… cause some of the classic antics this perverted universe was known for.

    I sighed, deciding to bide my time and maybe get a nap or two done before the end of the swimming session.

    Just as I slouched on the chair and prepared to close my eyes, I felt a shadow looming over me for a moment before she settled down on the chair beside mine.

    Sakura looked nervous, terribly so that she tried to pull up a fake smile while waving at her ‘senpai’ while he joined up with the group already inside the swimming pool. Freezing a little, she then glanced at me and I returned the look, a placid and silent expression.

    “C-Can you spare some… answers? I… I have some questions.”

    I blinked, I didn’t expect her to… be intrigued this much. Sure, I did expect this situation to happen but… not now of all the times possible.

    She was supposed to act normally rather than trying to ‘screw her cover’.

    But I didn’t mind, I wasn’t going to lose anything by satisfying her curiosity just for once.

    “Sure.”

    ---------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------d-dd-d---------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d----

    Chloe sighed tiredly as she tried and failed once more to hear what Shinji and the Doll were talking about.

    She cursed EMIYA for having some of the best set of eyes but not good ears to match the quality, her gloomy mood hardly hidden while she took one of the furthest corner from anyone to brood safely about the matter.

    While the mixed group seemed to have mostly ignored her strange behavior, she knew that it was a matter of time before someone decided to poke around to see why she wasn’t happy.

    Irisviel was busying herself with Leysritt and Sella, both maids surprisingly having a matching expression. An annoyed pout, something that could easily be found in the more serious of the two, while the blunter was a strange surprise to see this… expressive.

    Returning back to the tanned girl, Kuro was certainly curious but also worried about the topics exchanged between the two. She knew that she could easily jump in action and cleave the dangerous threat just in time if she noticed any attempt against the boy’s life.

    The churning of her stomach didn’t help with her nerves, she was way too tense and nervous to truly enjoy the pleasant water and… seeing Shirou shirtless.

    As much as she knew that she was related to him even more than her other version, it didn’t certainly mean she couldn’t glance at his built and-

    B-Back to Shinji! Eyes fixed on the ‘toweled’ boy, the young Einzbern was hopeful that he wouldn’t go as far as getting the Berserker to snap on and him.

    She hummed calmly, trying to soothe her worries but hardly getting any relief in that situation. She was itching to attack that Doll, to finally get some well-deserved peace with the looming threats that had yet to present themselves.

    The fact that Shinji was visibly delaying what the tanned girl knew was unavoidable left her perplexed, confused and terribly concerned. It was an odd sensation, to be this much tense about… someone’s else life.

    Odd as positive, odd as fresh. Odd as warming…

    Her little moment alone was concluded when her ‘mother’ finally approached and started to talk just as expected.

    “Is something wrong with Shinji-kun?” Was the question of the blissfully-unaware woman.

    Chloe wondered darkly if she should tell her that her son ended up bringing a monster rather than the soft-spoken girl that was Sakura Matou. Possibly badly, the Archer-wielding girl mused back, and that would put the boy in danger…

    She was in a swimming pool, a place she was quite enjoying but her interest over the situation was screwed by the dangerous place the young Matou has placed himself into.

    Thus the girl sighed. “He is a dummy.” The curt response caused the woman to giggle.

    “He is quite funny about that.” Irisviel admitted with a mirthful smile. “He reminds me much of how Kiritsugu behaves nowadays.”

    A dreadful comparison. Sure, Shinji was planning how to solve ‘everything’, but he never seemed to endear the idea of ‘Hero’ as much as the Emiya patriarch was known for-

    Wait, she meant ‘this’ Magus Killer, not the mindless drone prior the marriage.

    Kuro sighed, this was certainly a difficult development to digest but… it was like that. The Card had knowledge over the Kiritsugu from another dimension, the one where… the young Matou supposedly came from.

    It wasn’t a nice light, her ‘papa’ had killed innocents to assure that the ‘most’ lived through conflicts, through disasters. She could see the logic in some decisions but… some other instances left her sick, disgusted by how far the Emiya would go for… Justice.

    “He is my dummy.” The little Einzbern corrected herself much to her ‘mother’ surprise.

    “Is that so? Is someone in love for little Shinji?” There was amusement in the tease but…

    Sadly the reality was far more different than the woman hoped it to be.

    “I do.” The girl admitted placidly, ignoring Irisviel’s eyes widening in shock at the news.

    “...Sweetie, isn’t he a little to young-”

    “Aren’t you literally just a year or two older than Illya-”

    Human-wise, age is still an important factor in love.” The woman interjected the sassy remark from Kuro. “Do you even know what love is-”

    “I prefer to keep my love life private.” The girl interrupted coldly. “But yes, I do take into account everything about… this situation. It’s not a crush and… I am not rushing anything.”

    “That’s good but… why?” The question felt… strange to hear. “Why do you ‘love’ him?”

    There would be hundreds of thousands of words that could fill up the answer but the little Einzbern was aware that she didn’t have that much time and… went with the shorter summary.

    “He is kind, honest, caring and… he is genuine.” Her lips twitched, warmth slowly increasing in her chest, her heartbeat increasing just a little. “I can go for hours but I don’t want to. I can say for sure that he is interesting and… we both care to each other.”

    The woman chuckled. “Yet I’ve seen you staring at your Oniichan~.” Irisviel pointed out much to the girl’s discomfort.

    “He is good-looking.” Kuro admitted quietly. “But beyond your teasing, will you let Shirou tie up with so many… suitors?”

    She hit the spot, the mother tensing a little and looking nervous for a moment. “I- I think you know that I can’t let that happen-” The woman tried to explain.

    “Yet you are putting fuel on the fire some have for him.” Chloe pressed on. “While I can understand that he is dense and needs someone to help him around with girls, don’t you think that you should tune down the effort… just a little.”

    Iri blinked. “You think I’m pushing too hard?” She questioned a little curious now.

    “Just a little.” The tanned girl continued. “I understand that you are trying to help him up, but if you press too much… the situation might escalate to a point where he might have too much to chew.”

    The woman nodded slowly. “I understand. Then I shouldn’t probably try to sell photos of-”

    Irisviel stopped mid-speech, her red eyes trailing back to the chairs and… the two females stared at a curious scene.

    Shinji was passing to a beet-red Sakura some pictures. From her reaction and the allusions the woman was trying to make before stopping to see this scene, these have to be photos of Shirou in… questionable situations.

    Just as Chloe was ready to ask if this theory was true, Irisviel stood up and clapped her hands together.

    “Sella and Leysritt, could you take the children inside to play that ‘fun game’ you wanted to try with Shinji.” The matriarch ordered the maids, her smile sickly-sweet. “Meanwhile I wish to speak with the girls and Shirou-kun in private.”

    It didn’t take long for the tanned girl to recognize the strategy the woman was pushing for.

    Developed by the mother from the ‘Divide et Impera’ basis, the ‘Divide et Puni’, better known as Divide and Punish ruse, was used normally to punish Shirou and Illya when they committed some mess together, not generally of the Ecchi kind.

    And while Kuro realized this much, her eyes widened at the impressive speed exercised by the two young women in rushing towards the confused boy and proceeding to pull him inside the house.

    Panic surged at the scene and the girl literally jumped off the pool’s thin walls and rushed inside, followed by Chibi-Luvia and Gilgamesh.

    Artoria wanted to join too but… Irisviel decided to put a stop at her attempt. “Let the children play a little.” Her voice was just… like back then.

    The Tyrant held back a shiver, the unpleasant memories trying to reach back but she was strong enough to keep a calm posture externally.

    She nodded slowly and soon the pool was occupied only by the older girls, Irisviel and Shirou.

    Most of them interested in the dense redhead while the poor Salter faced the embarrassing situation that ensued alone. With pride and… blush.

    ----------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d---

    Next Chapter will get some fun scenes. Sella and Liz were given the powah over the poor Shinji, yet nothing ‘that bad’ will happen (pinkie-promise!).

    BTW a funny detail about the Kuro-Shinji dynamics: Both are the jailbait for each other and can’t do anything about that… yet. (No lewding people in this holy fanfic, of course.)
     
  9. Tobi

    Tobi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Iri strikes again and now that I think about it your MC is basically a more hopeful version of Hikki from Oregairu.
     
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  10. CatOnFire

    CatOnFire Magically Malicious

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    Yes you are on the wrong forum. The NSFW forum is a little further away for any level of hanky panky. NSFW doesn't mean you have to write smut it's just a forum that opens up the option to do. Honestly there is a little too much smut on the NSFW forum.
     
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  11. Tobi

    Tobi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Are you sure there is not lewding because you have the dreaded hand holding and hugging.
     
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  12. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    ...AU element? I cannot think of any Sakura that can be called 'tanned.'
     
  13. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    But Kuro is tanned.
     
  14. Threadmarks: Chapter 13: Game, Friendship and Worm
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 13: Game, Friendship and Worm

    If there was something that Leysritt was unsure in that very easy-to-understand situation was… how she was dealing with Shinji Matou.

    While the young maid had been keen to avoid appearing too much interested by the child, she couldn’t help but scope him in her hold as they all reached the living room. The place was big enough to house the small group formed mostly by children, yet it all seemed rather… small to her.

    It was a subjective detail that defied anything factual about the very room she had been spending most of her time here in Fuyuki. This was her haven, her safe place, and yet Liz felt far from calm as she noticed how tense the boy was in her pseudo-hug. They were both sitting, the rest taking their place around the small tabletop game Irisviel had used against Sella not so long ago.

    The game was simple as only those that ‘hosted’ the game were able to avoid any of the impish repercussions that would soon fall on the contestants- or rather the diluted version of those.

    As much as it would be… amusing to have Sella deal with the incredibly-awkward predicament, maybe to see how her fellow maid would solve such a horrifying situation without going berserk against her.

    Liz wouldn’t have minded some loud rants directed at her, but the fact she had to also be mindful of the other children, young and impressionable youths that could easily mistake a simple action to something much more complex and traumatic, made the whole idea kind of unacceptable.

    And she also wanted to make a good impression with Shinji. Especially with Shinji, at least.

    The Einzbern maid couldn’t see the boy’s current expression because of the position they had both taken, but she could perceive some tension still-present and visible form his shoulders.

    Red eyes blinked, trying to quietly guess why he would appear this much… unnerved. It wasn’t overall unpleasantness, but Leysritt was feeling rather guilty for some reason.

    She wasn’t truly hugging him, only letting him rest on her lap as the game began.

    Illya was the first one to face the ‘family-friendly’ dares left in the deck for this occasion.

    The little Einzbern was given the card, she quickly read the kanji and… blushed. There was silence just for a few moments, then she glanced at her recently-gained friend, Miyu Edelfelt, and leaned in to… plant a kiss on her cheek.

    It was a swift act, particularly harmless in Liz’s mind, yet both girls’ faces were now sporting the same shade of red as they returned to their initial seats.

    Leysritt’s confusion was shared by the young blonde that was little Luviagelita. The girl, differently from her older counterpart, did seem rather… shy and reserved. Very polite and showing none of the eccentric attitude the young woman going after Shirou’s heart revealed in spades.

    Kuro and Gilgamesh looked uncaring of the scene, the former not even deigning a glance their way while the blond merely smiling and nodding placidly.

    Sella looked partly-surprised at the reaction, but she was also looking conflicted about what was going on with the two classmates.

    Shinji… merely sighed. There wasn’t anything else she could pick up, mostly because of the limiting point of view she had over him.

    Time passed and the turn proceeded smoothly with little worth of interest. After Illya’s and Miyu’s card, the rest revealed to be rather tame and… dull.

    Leysritt bit down a sigh as it was her turn and…

    How odd.

    Without deigning a comment over the curious ‘dare’ of the card, the maid was quick to hover her free palm over Shinji’s head as she started to softly ruffle his hair.

    He tensed up even more, his head slowly turning to give her a wide one-eyed look of surprise, urging her to reveal the card’s content to the other players.

    Head-pat the closest player for the entire duration of the game.

    The written dare was received with mixed reactions. Once more Gilgamesh, with Miyu and Illya following his example, looked quite fine with it but… the rest of the group looked quite annoyed.

    Luvia wasn’t sparing herself with the pouty glare she was throwing at Leysritt, the child’s arms crossed close to her chest. Her stare moved to Sella, the fellow maid frowning and showing annoyance at the curious dare Liz was meant to continue for the rest of the game.

    Finally, red eyes met with bright orange ones and…

    Kuro was far from angry. She was also far from expressive… and yet the most interesting one in the group.

    Her stare was coldly fixed on the maid, sending a shiver down her spine, her blank expression mirroring to a terrifying degree those that only the normal Homunculi of the Einzbern Clan- No.

    She stopped in her own thoughts, eyes widening just a fraction as she realized that she was wrong with this assumption. The regal scowl, the well-crafted look that showed displeasure while also revealing nothing else from the owner of such expression…

    This was Justeaze’s trademark look. The one that their creator, Jubstacheit, had been keen to impress upon all the various models of homunculi.

    A stare of power, of undeniable respect and… a sign of possible danger for the one it was directed at.

    Liz’s instincts were quick to give her an answer, one that she couldn’t exactly commit to as… it meant letting go ruffling Shinji’s fluffy hair.

    She couldn’t exactly say this out-loud, she didn’t need to- but the boy’s hair was just so… soft.

    Her hand was literally in fluff heaven, a place where only those that knows how delightful is to head-pat someone with well-cared hair.

    Something that Liz was very aware of as… she did take care of Illya when her parents weren’t around, giving her baths, helping her clean up and… her soft hair.

    She could remember trying to do something like that with Shirou but… the boy had been quite keen to tell her to not ‘enter the bathroom when he was in’. A little hurtful, but Irisviel did mention that boys were less prone to accept a female in the bathroom they were using if it wasn’t their mother or their lover.

    Yet the red-haired teen also rejected Irisviel when she asked moments after the boy had refused the maid in.

    In the end, the matter was fairly simple: there wasn’t nothing wrong to get the chance to head-pat someone or something this adorable and… the woman wasn’t backing away from this opportunity!

    Tension didn’t simmer much to the rest of the group’s chagrin and the game resumed with a less-happier tone. Something that was clear to both females, but none seemed to be willing to show more than they had.

    And if the Matou was aware or not that he had just become a reason for some cold war, he wasn’t giving any sign of knowing about it. Hopefully he was blissfully unaware.

    Moments later, with Shinji picking up a mere ‘What is your favorite animal?’ question, it was Kuro’s turn and… the girl gracefully took the little card atop the reduced deck in her hands and glanced just briefly at it before returning her sight at the fellow Einzbern.

    Her whole demeanor suddenly changed, a subtle but ‘victorious’ smirk replacing the scowl as her sight lowered to Shinji and… she started to crawl towards them.

    Liz frowned, something was missing from that strange situation, a context more than necessary to understand the unexplained smug exuding from the tanned girl and… her arms wrapped around the Matou, creating a small barrier between the maid and the boy.

    Her red eyes gave a surprise expression, ready to silently question such a behavior and-

    The scowl was back, this time fully channeled onto Leysritt. The Einzbern homunculus froze as she was suddenly hit by the domineering effects of the glance, strong enough to have her froze in her act and retract her hand away from Shinji’s head.

    The paper, the little card, it was now revealed too as Kuro held it close to her face.

    Hug the closest player for the entire duration of the game.

    A successful overrule of the previous card, something that the maid had completely forgot about.

    The girl seemingly didn’t care of the shock visible through the red eyes as she picked up the boy, much to his minor discomfort and took him back to her previous seat.

    Something bubbled within Leysritt’s chest and it wasn’t hunger. It was primal and… incredibly nagging at her.

    It was a need, a crave to show the ‘thief’ how that slight wasn’t something a Einzbern maid could certainly allow to pass without consequences.

    Just as Sella got a card that merely asked for her ‘weight’, which for some reason sent her on a brief mumbled rant, Shinji decided to interrupt the beginning of the second round.

    “I think this game is turning a little… too aggressive.” He said from within the clutches of the tanned girl. “Can we call a vote and see who wants to continue?”

    Dreadful news for both maids’ plan, yet it was surprisingly only Liz that took it the worst considering how the more introverted of the two had yet to get a ‘chance’ to do something with Shinji.

    “Those who wish to continue?” Liz, Kuro and a hesitant Sella lifted their hands up, confirming three votes out of eight.

    Chloe’s eyes snapped at Luvia, the girl looking calm as she refused to join in that coalition. There was a strange gleam in the blonde’s eyes and then… it was the turn for the other part of the vote.

    “Those who wish to end this here now?”

    Illya, Gilgamesh, Miyu, Shinji and… Luvia all voted to end the game.

    A strange development indeed, one that Shinji put an end by addressing both Illya and Miyu.

    “Also, from what I understand, you two wish to talk with me, right?”

    The girls looked a little surprised, but both shared a nod to confirm the guess as the Matou stood up from Kuro’s shell-shocked self and followed the two Magical Girls towards the staircase that led to the upper floor.

    Gilgamesh joined in, same for Luvia and… the still-gobsmacked tanned female.

    Soon the living room was deserted, leaving just Leysritt and Sella behind to pick up the pieces of… what had just happened.

    And to pick up the used cards and put everything back to normal… well, that actually something that only Sella had to do. Lazy-mode Engaged!

    ----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d------

    I should have seen that one coming… somehow.

    I know that over-thinking was my forte and that missing something that was blatantly visible to everyone was still my major flaw, yet the way Kuro reacted to the mere and harmless session of head-patting (as much as unnerving as it was) was more than enough to leave me with some suspicions regarding why she behaved like this.

    Affectionate? Yes.

    But Yandere-level of obsession? Kind of overboard even for her.

    Something I was missing in front of me, something that had to do with me for some unspecified and unexplained reasons.

    I was glad that Illya did ask for some private time to discuss more about… the overall situation. She was more than entitled to know a little more about why she was supposed to put her life on the line while also allowing me to be taken away from an explosion in the making.

    We reached her room and… yep, it was like the one showed in the series.

    Seriously, why do I feel dirty all so suddenly?!

    Ignoring the sins crawling on my back, I was given the only chair in the room as both Illya and Miyu took a seat in the former’s bed. Kuro leaned on the medium-sized wardrobe, while Gilgamesh and Luvia decided to sit by the floor.

    “So, I know that you have tons to ask, but I have to ask one little question before you have a go at it.” I threw this sudden premise, my sight fixing on the adopted Edelfelt. “Miyu, I want to know if I can say to Illya something more about your situation. Your ‘unique’ dimensional state and… why you are connected to all of this.” I calmly said and I waited for a response.

    She tensed at the blunt request, something that she had to have expected to happen now of all times, but that she couldn’t have been truly prepared for.

    The girl nodded slowly and sighed. “I-If it helps- then yes, please go ahead.”

    I hummed, smiling a little as I turned to Illya. “So… what is your first question?”

    The Einzbern blinked, surprised for being given the chance of asking first and… she settled for something ‘light’.

    “S-Shinji-san, if it isn’t asking too much… can you tell me what happened to ‘me’ in your dimension?”

    I shifted nervously at that very query before… sighing tiredly. Seriously, why did she hit me with something that heavy.

    “This is a question that has a lengthy answer. I wish to ask you how much you know about the Einzberns, how much did your parents tell you about them?” I asked once more, getting a frown from the girl.

    There was a brief confused pause before Illya spoke again. “I- I think it’s a rich family based in Europe.” She explained the best way she knew. “Mama said that they didn’t like moving and… that’s why they ceased contacts with Mama and Papa.”

    So terribly lacking and prone for traumas once I’m done with this.

    “The Einzbern clan is considered one of the most powerful families in the Moonlit World, the ‘place’ in the world where Magus live away from mundane people’s knowledge.” I started with something… lenient. I knew that I could go far and wide with their history, but I had other things to do in that interrogation. “Their most recent greatest leader being… Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern, a prime Homunculus that served as the Head of the family for almost a century.”

    Red eyes widened. “A-A Homunculus?”

    Of course she would end up interested about the term.

    I prepared myself for some deep-lore exploration, trying to keep my tone as mindful as attentive of the girl’s reaction to what was going on be said now.

    “A Homunculus is a more humane version of a Golem, a creature born from alchemy and magecraft.” I stated as calmly as I could. “The Einzbern Clan is known for two important subjects they were the most adept at: Wishcraft, which is something that will be important later in the explanation, and Homunculus-crafting.”

    “Y-You mean that they created… human-sized puppets?” There was a little hesitation in Illya’s tone. “B-But why? Why would they need to have these… Homunculus?”

    “The plural is ‘Homunculi’,” I corrected quickly before answering her query. “And the reason is… because they wanted to achieve immortality.”

    … “W-What?” Miyu finally blurted in shock, glancing at the pale Einzbern in surprise. “I-Immortality, but-”

    “’To be a Magus, you have to always walk the fine line between life and death.’. The Einzbern once had the knowledge of the Third Magic, the Heaven’s Feel, something that allowed their soul to not disperse once they reached the end of their bodies. The Magic itself focused on denying the soul from dispersing by the end of their lives, giving the chance for… a new body to be given and continue to work at their projects.” I took a breather, this was going to be a difficult task but… I think I was doing alright. “The Third Magic was lost a thousand of years or so, leaving the Einzbern with only the capacity to create Homunculi and… nothing to keep a real soul to perfectly integrate with the new bodies.”



    “B-But- Why- How does this connect to m-me, Shinji-san?” Illya asked, her mind still trying and failing to grasp the complex depiction of her ‘mysterious’ family.

    I nodded. “Wish-craft is the response of the family to recover the Third Magic. Given a powerful construct with immense prana the rightful runes to activate a Wish-craft device, a Miracle can be achieved. The opportunity to do something that shouldn’t be happening, even with Magic itself.” I continued to say much to her ever-growing confusion and then… pointed my finger at her.

    “When you fought the Saber card and you used the Archer Card-” I paused to glance at Kuro, the girl blinking in surprise but nodding in remembrance of the event. “You made use of the Wish-craft magecraft only the Einzbern could use and, with the prowess of Archer in creating copies of swords, you ended up copying for more than a few moments… a true projection of a Divine Construct.”

    Miyu’s eyes widened. “That golden sword?” She asked, Illya looking at her for a moment before turning her attention back at me.

    “Excalibur, the Sword of Promised Victory.” I named the blade. “This weapon is one of the strongest, if not the strongest excluding Gilgamesh’s Noble Phantasm.” I paused just a moment and then sighed. “The thing with Archer is… he can project copies of swords, but he can’t truly replicate the full effect of Noble Phantasm. But you, Illyasviel von Einzbern, not only recreated the blade but you brought with it the whole power it is known for.”

    There was silence, the two girls giving their all to absorb this new information while… Gilgamesh decided to pipe in.

    “So that’s why her blade isn’t in my treasury?” The blond asked out of curiosity. “I’ve never learned about this but… why is it called a ‘Divine Construct’? Does it have to do with Gods?”

    I nodded, getting a gasp from Luvia. “Y-You mean that Gods e-exist?”

    “Many deities have existed before the end of the Age of Magic.” I replied quickly. “And yes, most of them were responsible for Excalibur’s creation. A sword born from the crystallized wishes of Mankind as a whole, its main duty to protect the world against dangerous threats.” I finished to explain.

    “But I think I can return to the main story rather than digress further.” I admitted with a sigh. “The little reminder is to explain… how the Grail works. Or at least how the Grail partially works.”

    “I- Can I try to… guess?” Illya lifted her hand up and I nodded with a small smile. “T-This Grail makes u-use of an abnormal amount of energy a-and activate the chance for a… miracle?”

    “That’s the simple explanation, yes.” Kuro butted in with a calm tone, surprising us all as she took the lead. “Yet the system has some… other requirements. Seven Servants’ souls that are filtered inside the construct… via a Lesser Grail.”

    Miyu tensed a little, possibly remembering that it was her role in the Ainsworth’s Holy Grail War.

    “A-A human sacrifice?” She asked fearful, drawing Illya’s surprised but supportive look as she received a nod back.

    “The human sacrifice bit is… partly different between Einzberns and Ainsworths. While the latter make use of full humans… the Einzbern used Justeaze-model Homunculi.”



    “No.” Illya said in a dull tone. “Y-You aren’t telling me that-”

    “In the Fourth War, you mother was meant to be the Lesser Grail.” I decided to drop all at once, ignoring the horrified look on her face. “...And you were going to be the one for the Fifth.”

    “W-WHAT?!” Kuro leaned off from the wardrobe and glanced at me with a shocked expression. “A Fifth War? I thought the Fourth would-”

    “The Grail is terribly corrupted, no real wish can be made without the worst version of it to happen.” I interjected strongly. “A-And… this is actually the only route where Illyasviel von Einzbern survives… with the rest of the Emiya family.”

    “Mama… Papa and… Niichan.” Illya blinked, tears slowly flowing. “A-And Sella and L-Leysritt.”

    “Shirou… survives.” I glanced at Kuro while saying this. “But he ends up living a terrible life, one that he comes to regret.”

    The following silence was… gloomier. I think I should have sweetened the fall for Illya, the girl already dealing with her own problem and… me telling her how this is the only known timeline where she survives? Not a pleasant situation.

    “Still,” I continued with a steel-like voice. “There are a few details that are worth to mention as… this isn’t a situation that is going to happen again.”

    … “W-What?” The pale Einzbern asked once more.

    “The Illya from my timeline is still in the Einzbern’s Castle in Germany.” I confided with certainty, smiling a little. “Once I’m done with the Ainsworths and we are back to my timeline, I will make sure your version is taken out from the Einzbern clan’s possession and put in a safer place.”

    “A-And Mama and Papa?” Her tone was… frail, slightly hopeful as my words were now lifting her off the floor.

    “I will make sure they are both saved too. I will save people, I will prevent the Fourth Holy Grail War and… I will destroy the Grail myself.” I re-affirmed by promise, getting all their eyes on me.

    It was one of the few times I seemed so serious, so hell-bent on doing something this massive. I knew the risks, I knew the costs that would scar upon my own soul, but there was no alternatives and-

    “Thank you.” Illya muttered with a soft voice. “Y-You, You are meaning it. I-I can tell.”

    My lips twitched and I sighed as I stood up from my chair, made just a few steps towards her and…

    She started to sob a little louder, head pressing on my chest, as I pulled her in a hug.

    I patted her head as I ended up turning to see… a slightly sniffling Miyu. I sighed at the Sakatsuki and nodded opening the hug a little as the other girl didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity.

    I tended to the two sobbing magical girls as I tried to make sense of what I was supposed to do here.

    “Both of you are… good people.” I began to say. “You two are responsible for saving Fuyuki multiple times now and I know you will do more in the future. I want you to know that you are doing a good job.”

    I relented the embrace a little, just enough for the two girls to look at me.

    “Miyu, I… I will be honest with you. I know that this might sound weird but… when you feel down, when you feel the need to cry, remember that you have Illya.” I turned to the aforementioned girl. “The same applied to you too.”

    They both blushed a little and I sighed. “Hugging is by no means something perverted. So cease at once with the day-dreaming and remember that you two are good friends.” I huffed and relaxed a little. “And there is also the fact that Miyu is her dimension’s Shirou’s Imouto.”

    The silence that followed was brief but also amusing as the little Einzbern jumped in surprise with a ‘What?!’ while the ‘Emiya’ blushed a little in embarrassment.

    “So yes, you two are step-sisters… to a degree, and I want you both to remember that you can trust each other.” I concluded, feeling the burden lessened from my back… FINALLY!

    Just as I expected this emotional moment to be concluded, we were all distracted by… fake hand-clapping from… Ruby?

    The Mystic Code was floating by the… open window?

    Outstanding ovation, Shinji-sama! Truly an emotional moment, to show those poor girls proper kindness and manners!” She commented happily and over-the-top… yet I could sense that something was off about her.

    I opened my mouth, ready to ask her if she was alright when…

    You know, I think we should really poke more about this Sakura girl, Sapphire. I think she has potential for- UH!?

    The door slowly opened to reveal another Ruby and Miyu’s Sapphire.

    The Mystic Codes stopped and soon even Luvia’s Sapphire left the safety of the blonde’s pocket, approaching the giddy-looking ‘impostor’?

    Then… she spoke. “N-Neesan?

    A giggle, then she floated closer… towards me. “That is correct, Sapphi-chan! I, the legendary Ruby, managed to escape the evil clutches of our creator to...

    I took a step back as I knew what was going on already. My legs never moved this fast as I was being chased by a flying magical stick.

    Shinji-samaaa! I just want to become your best friend!

    HELL NO! I’M NOT DOING THIS!

    I rushed away from that room, ready to make my last stand by leaving Fuyuki by feet if forced to

    Shinji Matou would concede half an hour later, barely three blocks away from the Emiya’s household, his poor body unable to keep up with the endless bundle of energy known as Magical Ruby and the forced bonding would leave him without a chance of getting out from the madness in the making.

    Look and behold, the CLAW!Ruby-chan is now in town!

    ---------d-d-d-d----------d-d-dd----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------

    AN

    This chapter is packed with stuff. Hopefully with little mistakes too (an empty hope, just like Kiritsugu’s dream).
     
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 14: Plan, Kidnap and Worm
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 14: Plan, Kidnap and Worm

    Zelretch is an utter bastard.

    Ruby, just like her sister, was an immensely powerful Mystic Code. There was no hesitation in my thoughts to confirm that, if she had been given a proper owner, she would have done some impressive work around the world.

    Rin was naive, mostly materialistic, and terribly narrow-minded over the complicated thing known as Kaleidoscope. If Hollow Ataraxia wasn’t the ‘dream’ sequel of one of the original Routes, then I can happily say that the girl did mess up big time by willingly ignoring the Kaleidostick during the Fifth Holy Grail War.

    An easy win denied by the idiocy of the Tohsaka heiress.

    And while I could see why she would be deterred from making use of Ruby’s potential, as the Mystic Code was proving to be as annoying as her Prillya’s version was during the walk back home AND the hours that preceded the usual nightly rest, I couldn’t exactly fault the stick until a certain degree.

    Boredom is terrible for mortals, but it is even worse to those that don’t have an expiration date. Couple that with whatever trash Rin had left in her ‘pseudo-interdimensional’ chest and I could see the giddy Kaleidostick driving herself deep in the world of magical girls and… super sentai.

    Actually, I was quite confused by the whole fact that the twin-tailed tsundere somehow ended up having magazines about the topic, possibly something pushed subconsciously by Kirei’s tutoring years before the Grail War.

    Then I decided to not delve further in the madness, the growing headache that persisted even when I went to sleep being more than enough to keep me from going too deep about the lore behind Ruby and Sapphire.

    Yet, by ignoring the ‘theories’ around the overly-childish kaleidostick, I was also forced to deal with the brutal reality that limited me in the usage of such a powerful instrument of cuteness and doom.

    While Ruby is capable of perfectly grasp the nature of the Kaleidoscope, to actually make use of its power while being fueled by dimensional energy itself, in my hands she was incredibly restrained by a very crucial requirement the show never lingered much.

    The use of the Mystic Code… required the user to have decent Magic Circuits.

    I could make use of Magecraft to a minor degree, but going too far could easily compromise my whole being. The Crest Worms that offered me the chance of dabbling in small-scale experiments were similar to Kariya’s, the ones that my ‘uncle’ used to become the Master of Berserker.

    While those offered some functional circuits, the ill-usage/over-usage of those forced the worms to feast upon their host’s lifeforce and… would cause a quick decay of the body.

    Something I had been incredibly paranoid about, being quite careful to not jump in action with the Card Installations as I worried about a continued drain from the transformation that could have seen me death. Paranoia was legitimate in that case, not rightfully as I found out that the Card didn’t drain too fast from the fake circuits, but in this predicament the fear was confirmed by the Zwei Form.

    Illya, Miyu, Chibi-Luvia, her older version, and Rin were capable of sustaining their ‘Magical Girls’ forms because they had an absurd amount of good-to-high quality Circuits in their bodies. I knew that if I even went in some ‘form’ with Ruby, my body would have been strained beyond recovery.

    A minor issue that hopefully was going to be dealt by the time Touko reached Fuyuki to deal with her contract.

    But the reason behind my annoyance at being restrained from making use of Ruby’s true power was actually something a little more… pressing.

    While large-scale spells were a big no-no, I found quickly enough that the most useful of lesser spells I could truly use to the maximum capacity was… storage spells.

    A pocket dimension that could easily hold an immeasurable number of inanimate objects and be taken around as far as I wanted until I continued to have the Stick around.

    This discovery helped in the formulation of a little plan of mine regarding the current plot situation. It was clear that the Ainsworth family was still preparing on the other side of the ‘dimensional portal’ and that if I wanted to truly defeat them with minimal-to-none casualties, I had to take several precautionary steps in front of their pacing.

    Early in the morning as we were all enjoying some breakfast, I mentioned calmly about having to go for some important business that required my lone presence.

    The majority of the group sitting at the table was surprised but hardly concerned by the announcement as I did have situations like this one where danger wasn’t implied in any shape or form.

    No, the real problem was the frown plastered on Gil’s face. I swore inwardly at the fact I did forget that the blond youth still could make use of his Sha Naqba Imuru, the Noble Phantasm granting him non-negligible glimpses of the nearby future and possibly offering him a clear sight over my plans.

    He didn’t call me out, but the stare he was giving me was enough to bring a certain level of uneasiness regarding my own idea for the day.

    I mean, there was nothing truly dangerous about sneakily setting up a forward HQ in Miyu’s home dimension, placing several objects that could help in creating a temporary workshop where to build and prepare for the next phase of the ‘counterattack’.

    I really didn’t want to give Darius the chance of getting Miyu, because having him unleash corrupted Servants wasn’t going to help us with what we were meant to deal early on.

    Angelica’s Archer Card might be weakened and lacking half of the full-fledged Gate of Babylon, but her propensity with Flash Air was enough to stabilize if not increase her current threat. And there was also the fact she wasn’t as cocky and moronic as Adult Gilgamesh was, making her capable of deploying Ea without having to dilly-dally around too much.

    But I would be lying in saying that the ‘eldest’ sibling was going to be the scariest to face as Beatrice Flowerchild was easily going to be the worst to fight in the upcoming assault.

    Having two Berserker-Cards and Mjolnir, the unstable girl was going to be hell to dispatch quickly. With Magni being the only other Card known, I was quite unwilling of going to fight her without a proper study of what the other card was.

    ...Then there is also Julian.

    The possessed Head of the Family was seriously powerful on his own, his grasp of magecraft beyond anything a modern Magus could even dare to achieve on their own. Yet the young Ainsworth, with just some little help from his Zouken-alike ancestor, could manipulate Prana to an insane degree.

    And that wasn’t something to be scoffing at. Never.

    I blinked as I found myself staring at the strange transparent tear within the space-time continuum. The only way to enter Miyu’s dimension and once I stepped through it… I would have to deal with an unforgiving time limit.

    I sighed, my eyes closing for a moment before turning my attention to Ruby, the Mystic Code floating around the rift. “Remember the plan-” I repeated with a nervous tone, getting a groan from the Kaleidostick.

    No stunts with Magic, no attracting attention- but it’s kind of boring-” She twirled, her tone dry at the lack of action and… explosions.

    I don’t know why, but this Ruby loved explosions and… I could get around that interesting trait.

    “If they notice us and get their full manpower to us, we wouldn’t survive the encounter.” I reminded quickly, drawing a simple nod from the stick.

    I understand. It’s just…” She tensed up suddenly and giggled. “What if we prank them somehow? Like we get a massive amount of pizzas at their house-

    “They would kill the poor man or woman enlisted to take the pizzas to their home.” I blinked, frowning quietly at the deflating stick. “But I guess we could prank them if a situation present itself.” I promised and flinched moments later as Ruby squealed with a high-pitched note.

    I nodded and turned back to the tear and… jumped into it.

    I felt wind twisting around me for brief instants and then… I found myself crouching in pain on… a few meters away from where I once was?

    I turned around, just in time to see the Kaleidostick leave the rift and flying near me.

    That was weird.

    “Not so different from the dimensional hopping that took me in this ‘universe’.” I commented back, getting her to nod quickly.

    It’s similar, but also rather unstable and… I’m actually surprised you didn’t suffer more during the ‘voyage’, Shinji-kun.

    “I’ve some luck… rarely.” I paused, before sighing sheepishly. “Maybe even never. I guess this is just something to prepare me for some… bad situations that will happen soon.”

    Ruby floated right in front of my face. “Oh? You are already expecting some fun things to happen? Even if this ‘serious work’ shouldn’t have anything turned at us?

    “It depends if we avoid encountering some characters that are going to be wandering around the city right now.” I mused quietly, picking the stick mid-air much to her whining and placed her in the small backpack I had brought with me.

    While a child could appear harmless, a possible elementary student was going to appear even more innocuous to the ‘guardians’ of this Fuyuki Town. And since I was still ‘fairly young’, I had no need of getting the uniform required by the school.

    Rushing inside the town proper from one of the least frequented entrances, I was quick to take the shortest path that would have me taken to the abandoned building I had decided to set up the secret base.

    I had taken into account the fact that a third of the Miyuverse’s Fuyuki had been vaporized during the penultimate Holy Grail War and that the place had to be abandoned on this side of the universe too.

    I was granted relief by the fact the small warehouse was indeed unused and devoid of human presence. Making a quick patrol around to make sure I didn’t end up getting anyone following me at a certain point of my walk, I was swift in preparing workshop, a war room and a medical section that could house more than enough people in the group. With Ruby around, the job was less difficult that early planned and it did take me just four hours to prepare this HQ.

    With a tired but satisfied smile, I ventured outside the building, knowing that I was now ready to return back home and ignore any of my silly worries. It was surreal that something terrible could happen now of all time-

    Thud

    Uh- What the-!!

    I almost fell on my butt as I crashed onto someone, a feminine and youthful ‘eep’ surprising me as my eyes were quickly on the fallen child and… I froze in fear at the sight bestowed.

    Her blonde hairs were tied in a ponytail with a bow that reminded much of bat ears. Her eyes were twitching in pain and closed, but soon I was granted a little glare from the little girl I just stumbled upon.

    Erika Ainsworth, or Pandora, looked incredibly incensed by the sudden obstacle in her path.

    “Y-You meanie!” She exclaimed, her little index pointing at me accusingly. “W-Why did you appear so suddenly a-and my Papa will-” The blonde paused, turning around as if expecting someone else but… there was no one behind her.

    I paled the moment I heard footsteps behind me making the presence of someone unseen right nearby and… two adult hands were now squeezing at my shoulders. My eyes widened in dread as I heard him.

    Darius smirked. “Who would have thought that you would have come out from your little hideout, Shinji-kun.” The faux Leader of the Ainsworth family mused quietly, his tone demanding answers to silent question.

    I gulped nervously, but a tentative smile developed as the now-confused Erika stared both at me and at her ‘father’.

    “I-I think I need Chris Hansen for this.” I admit I could have picked better words but… yeah, nervousness is a troublesome influence.

    He lowered his head near mine and whispered right into my ear. “At least I don’t make use of worms to keep my family loyal.” His smug tone was slightly infuriating, yet the jab at Zouken was well-received.

    That is, I needed to get out of that incredibly bad situation. I jinxed myself in the past, but never to the horrible crap I was currently dealing with.

    I blamed the Nasuverse’s logic.

    “Y-Yeah, you just need to be inside one of your children to keep control of everything.” I shot back calmly, my little safety now broken as his hands tightened on my back and starting to draw blood with his fingernails from my neck.

    “Cheeky brat- GAH!” Before an escalation could have ensued, Ruby jumped out of my backpack and crashed painfully… between the man’s legs. Something cracked, he howled in pain and fury, and in that moment of chaos I pulled a smoke grenade from my backpack and prepared for the greatest run of my life.

    With the bastard disabled for a while, I had less than a minute to rush away from the range of Authoritarian Personalism, the Noble Phantasm being what could possibly get me captured for real.

    Just as I started to move through the smoke, my eyes catching quickly on a small opening towards a long alley that could get me away from public sight, I felt something crash onto me as a pair of short legs and arms wrapped around my body.

    “I got you!” Erika squeaked in victory, her body being quite a hefty weight to consider as I was just… her age? Maybe her body was a little older than mine but… her interruption did little to stop me from rushing away from the spot I once was.

    She squeaked as I started to move, surprise painted on her face as I easily managed to run with her non-negligible intervention. “W-Wha-Wait!” She begged loudly, but I was too focused on not being murdered by a surely-pissed wraith.

    I saw the dark presence of Authoritarian Personalism finally snapping into action from Darius’ trembling body, but just as expected, the range being a step or two shy from getting me.

    A minor relief in what was going to be a terrible chase through the city. Ruby was incredibly helpful as, despite being limited with her magical prowess, she could still remove the pins from the other smoke grenades before hauling them behind me, providing me some cover as I rushed towards the rift hovering by the forest outside the city.

    It took some minutes to finally get through several corners just to confuse my pursuer and-

    My worry tripled as I heard a sizzling sound and… I saw blades slamming strongly onto the ground nearby me. Angelica just found me, yay!

    I wasn’t smiling, I was close to cry out at the scariest chase of my life. Zouken was something to be afraid of because of how volatile he was… but to deal with someone that casually used swords, lances, axes as long-range throwing ‘daggers’ while I continued to rush because my life depended on it, was more than a legitimate reason to be frightened to death.

    The smoke was more than enough to hinder her aim and the presence of the still-screaming girl latched onto my body was more than enough to get her to try to not just pincushion my whole body.

    I entered the forest and I started to feel the strain, plus Ruby mentioned something about running out of bombs, which was quite troublesome on itself-

    I blinked as the portal was now wavering a little and then I remembered something good but also bad.

    The rift itself was unstable and… could partially collapse if too much ‘matter’ moved through it. So, if too many people went through it, the tear was going to be… impassable.

    It wouldn’t close up, the connection being too strong right now, but it would make it impossible for people to make use of it for possibly a week or two.

    More than enough to prepare myself from a more-pissed, less-classy Darius/Julian going for a ‘stroll’ to try and get Miyu.

    Without thinking twice, my legs increased the pacing as my hopefulness drowned my fatigue as I managed to jump through it and… crashed on the floor. I groaned, my eyes half-closed in pain as I felt my left arm hurting and-

    “Owie!” Erika whined even though I was the one that took most of the brunt damage and-





    Did I just forget about- No, I don’t want to believe. This, this is not happening- this is-

    She blinked a few times and recovered from her brief ‘pain’, re-adjusting on my chest and smiling smugly.

    “I caught you!” She declared proudly, something that made me frown in simple and utter… annoyance. The girl wasn’t that much heavy, but my body was kind of getting back from that mad run across town.

    “I think the opposite is correct.” I stated flatly, the girl’s pose stilling as her eyes narrowed on my face and then… she stared back. The rift was now minuscule and nobody could pass through it. The blonde’s eyes went wide in realization and then she slowly returned to glance at me.

    She blinked, I sighed and then she sniffled again, tears swelling up. “I-I won, right?”

    I looked at her intensively and then… sighed. “Nope.”

    Her crying and straddling was far worse than I thought it to be but…

    Now things were truly going to go insane with the ‘essential’ element to Darius’ plan now deprived from him.

    As I returned my attention back to the crying girl, I started to notice something I had failed to catch on at first.

    While Little Pandora continued with her ‘tears’ of sadness, my sight caught some little twitches on her face. The little scowl turning upwards once or twice in a while as a sign of… relief.

    The original lamb had just discovered that she had been freed from her ties to a dying world.

    ------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-------

    AN

    Before writing this chapter, I had gone to see if there had been any new chapters from the Prillya’s Manga and… there has been an update on November 1. The final battle is intensifying and I’m partly confused by Illya’s moments of being a Pseudo-Shirou.

    Not the idiotic kind, more like the Hero-twist to her personality. Rather odd and… I hope KALMIA-sensei can pull through the hard-work. I can’t help but be excited for Season 4~!
     
  16. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Kuro was the one speaking, and she was staring at Shinji and Sakura the two times it is mentioned that she is looking at a tanned girl, thus my confusion. Unless she had her eyes closed and thus was seeing everything darker :p

    I thought the normal action was their souls reincarnating? IIRC, Nasuverse has a reincarnation cycle, although things can get knocked out of it: souls consumed, Throne of Heroes, Counter-Guardian, soul imprisoned, etc.

    Did she transform into a clas?

    Wouldn't the prana being released by Ruby help counteract the damage? The worms wouldn't need to eat their hosts body to produce od, when it is being force fed to them.

    Pretty sure the hero twist happened awhile back :p

    Dear God, I hope their is a season 4. Your wording implies that it is confirmed. Is that true?
     
  17. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Actually it was a third person with a predominant element provided by Kuro's thoughts. While her thoughts are provided and she is the epicenter of the POV, it still is a Third-Person POV.

    That is a correct statement, in a normal circumstance reincarnation is a thing. But the Heaven Feel is something that allows the soul to persist and survive the deterioration effects created by Gaia itself. The Einzbern wanted to have immortal bodies with immortal souls, instead of turning into puppets.

    Crawl Like A Worm. CLAW.

    The thing is that they can 'overheat' or rather, Zouken created a precautionary step that cause the Worms to make things unbearable to the Host even if they manage to find something to feed the Worms instead of their bodies. I think it was displayed in HF when Shirou tried to 'help' Sakura but the Worms still acted up.

    But it wasn't just that much... evident. It was a sweet addition to her personality but now she has that Third Ascension Saber appearance and... yeah, things are sure going to take a curious turn of events.

    I think it was mentioned when Prillya Prisma Phantasm was released that the company working on the Anime was already working on Season 4, but that there were other important projects that causing this much delay to the full production.
     
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  18. Tobi

    Tobi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    You know the kindap part reminds me of a Fate Zero si fic I used to read. The MC's plans mostly revolved around kidnapping people and it just works out. In that fic the Shinji of that world became a good person because he was kidnapped alongside Sakura.... the side effect is that he now wants to follow in the MC's footsteps and that involves kidnapping people to save them.

    Back to the current fic... despite the fact that Pandora is crying I can't bring myself to feel sad for her. It's a good thing you have her now. Darius the dick's plan will not succeed without her.
     
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  19. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I think the MC nicknamed himself 'Karasu'/Crow as he had some mask stuck on his face. He summoned Caster Cu and ended up causing a mess for a War. The author tried to make a sequel but rebooted it and then went in hiatus for some reason.

    Let's just say that pity is hardly an emotion one should give to Pandora, especially since she does have a fun spot in manipulating chaos around herself.
     
  20. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    WIth her thoughts being provided in her PoV, I thought that the section was in 1st PoV. Thanks for clarifying :D
     
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  21. Tobi

    Tobi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Yeah that’s the one it’s funny because instead of Shirou being infected with the desire to be a hero it’s Shinji of all people. It’s a shame the fic was discontinued I was hoping to read more of the sequel.

    As for Pandora I can feel pity for her, this makes me sound evil but really can’t feel much sadness.
     
  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 15: Futile Hope and Worm
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 15: Futile Hope and Worm

    Returning back to the castle proved to be a particularly-difficult task to accomplish with a struggling Erika Ainsworth latching and whining against my small body. She weighted as much as I was and yet I was having some difficulty with the sore legs and arms I had at the moment, the result of the previous mad-chase I had in the alternative Fuyuki.

    Ruby could have done so much to help other than merely putting some rope to keep the little blonde from jumping off and try to hide away from me. I was far too tired to be dealing with that kind of issues and I sure was starting to feel the strain building up the more I ventured deep in the safe woods.

    And while my body ached and silently groaned at the pressure I was putting onto it, my mind was rendered free from actually summarize what had just happened mere moments ago.

    I had taken initiative in setting some forward base in the Miyuverse version of Fuyuki, fully aware that the real fight would have to happen in that place and not in this ‘stable’ universe. It was the Ainsworth Family’s turf and they would have fought bitterly to the very end for the sake of ‘saving the world’.

    The world couldn’t be saved even if they pulled the wish. Why I was sure of it? It was Erika’s secret burden that had caused the mess that was known as ‘Degradation of Gaia’. Or at least the missed opportunity to activate it when it was needed back in the fading Age of Gods.

    Pandora’s Box was a difficult Noble Phantasm to understand, Darius only mentioning and trying to use it as a ‘greater version’ to the standard Holy Grail, yet failing to mention a single thing. If the box had been opened back in the ‘canon’ time, then the world wouldn’t have needed any savings and, if he tried to do this now, the Degradation would have reached a higher pace compared to prior to the unorthodox pithos’ activation.

    The Box itself was inspired by the (in)famous Greek legend that saw it as a container of the greatest sins bestowed to mankind and the hope to fight back such adversities and… It missed the fact that it had also resulted in an effective slow down of the first Deterioration, the original one that caused the end of the Age of Gods and the period of time known as an Age of Fairies.

    With the Box left closed in the Miyuverse, the world experienced just a briefer Age of Fairies compared to the FSN version and that ended up causing a dangerous shift of natural laws as unchecked Magic started to devastate the world itself.

    Natural disasters, changing climate and other horrible effects that cursed Earth to suffer for decades and… Erika decided to abide to Darius’ plan, that is why she ended up helping him set up the proper end of the world.

    While the little girl whining against my chest might have seemed like a minor issue to deal with, I was currently holding one of the few strong beings that despised humanity as a whole after the tortured lifetime she had to survive until now.

    She was a tool, she was born one and, even if she tried to appear normal, she would have never obtained that kind of peace. The guilty mind, the infuriated soul and the impotent body she was provided with could hardly give her satisfaction and… that was a constant for her to be hurt by everyone around her.

    Even those that tried to ‘help’ her. She was aware of the truth of everything and I was afraid of how much she was aware about me. It was terrifying to know that this little girl was… this threatening and powerful if given the chance to fully manifest and that was why I had to return to the castle without any break along the way.

    Luck was surprisingly on my side as I started to feel my legs close to give up at the burdened road, my eyes lit as I spotted Kid Gil waiting patiently for me. He was alone and… he looked annoyed.

    He was staring at me, barely caring for Pandora as her blue eyes took notice of him and she started to yell at him too, his red orbs fixed silently onto my face. My frown was met with the appearance of his trusty chains, Enkidu wrapping comfortably around my body and the girl’s as we were both lift off from the arduous ground.

    I opened my mouth, maybe to greet him or merely sigh, yet I closed it as soon as possible when I saw a brief flash of anger coming from his face. I blinked, keeping quiet as the boy turned around and started to walk towards the barely-visible castle in the distance, the small portals from which Enkidu originated moving with him and dragging us along.

    It was an awkward moment, one that Erika’s sudden silence worsened up just a little. Her puffy eyes were recovering from some tears, her lips closed as she probably knew that lamenting her situation now wouldn’t have truly gotten a better chance of leaving compared to mere instances ago.

    The walk proceeded uneventful and soon we entered inside the large fortified set of building. I spared just a glance by the entrance and it seemed that there was the entire group preparing for a ‘warm greeting’.

    I gulped nervously as Gil barely spared a word even as we entered inside the castle and, moments later, he stopped right as we all joined him inside the closest living room. The part of Enkidu wrapped around me unfolded and I fell to the ground… painfully.

    Not painful enough to have me needing some medical assistance, but enough to get my mind to fully realize that this wasn’t going to be a good situation for me.

    Just as I stood up in a shaky manner, I found my cheek slapped by the tiny hand owned by Luvia, the blonde looking worried but also irritated by my reappearance with another child. Salter went in to pull my aching cheek with a sharp hold over it, causing me to groan in pain, the young woman looked annoyed if not hurt by my ‘unexpected walk’ and the danger I had gone through.

    How was I aware that they knew ‘a little’ of what had gone through my first step in the Miyuverse? Gilgamesh’s reaction and the lack of warmth in continuing to stare me down with such a neutral tone.

    The Alternative version of Artoria made way for Kuro and, instead of a punch or something along those lines, I found myself tackled on the floor by the tanned girl. Some tears started to fall to her partly-obscured face, her pink-toned hair hiding the puffy eyes from continuous crying.

    I blinked as she crumpled, bringing her face incredibly close to mine. Eyes going wide open, I was finally given a full glimpse of the turmoil she was going through. It was a painful sight as I found it difficult to keep a straight stare at the disappointed and aching look she was giving me.

    She knew that, Kuro was doing the worst thing I could have to endure about this very situation. Physical pain? I can tank it after so much torture. But emotional one? My mind was already fragmented as much as it was sane, and seeing how she had taken my solo mission…

    I felt my throat hurting. I felt my eyes burning. This is unfair!

    Just like lying to them was.

    A traitorous thought pushed back, yet my intention was legitimately good as I wanted to reduce the chances of seeing them hurt… at the danger of having myself hurt by the threats lingering in that dimension.

    For a moment, I could see Shirou’s point and… and that was hurting my heart too.

    “D-Dummy...” She whispered dully, getting my eyes back on her face and… she pressed her lips on my hurting cheek. “M-My dummy.” She proclaimed frailly and softly, enough to get me easily sobered out from that intimate action.

    It was innocent, it was meaningful as it dignified our ambiguous relationship and…

    Why was it still hurting me?

    I gulped again, this time my lips parting to say something. “S-Sorry,” An apology, a true one that-

    “No,” She refused quietly. “Not like this.” The girl continued but… she stood away from the closeness and away from me. I stood quiet as I lied still for a moment, eyes going wide and hyperventilating for just a moment.

    I glanced around me, trying to find anything, something that could get me to find hope for an apology but…

    Nothing. Everyone was angry, everyone was infuriated by what I did a-and-

    A giggle from Erika caused my attention to snap at her and instead of the childish blue eyes of hers, I was graced with a pair of malicious cold-sea orbs. A bitter smirk was displayed on her face and then she spoke.

    This… this was Pandora. Why was she showing herself this early? Why would she-

    “Little, little worm~,” She sang with an amused tone. “I wonder when you will snap and die.”

    The blonde didn’t rhyme, there was no need to do that. The words struck a strange chord within my soul and…

    And it started to spread.

    Eyes going wide open in shock, I stared at the familiar dark and red lines spreading all along my body. Passing through the barely-used lanes of my crest-worm Circuits, hitting and warming those up with energy and dark desire.

    I could remember the day I saw Sakura starting to cry for no apparent reason right as I helped her to bed after one of the sessions she had to endure with Zouken. She had looked so helpless and I felt so much weak towards the monster that was my ‘grandfather’.

    My Worms wiggled eagerly as they fed upon the new energy, my sight going blurry for a moment as I felt my brain slowly being burned out by the sudden appearance of this corruption.

    How- Why- WHEN?

    But nothing replied back to me. Even in my mind I was alone to deal with such a horrible fate.

    Everyone, those that I wanted to be friend to me- They were treated as tools. I could feel the old cackle keep me awake from that insane situation, I could see how Zouken had been right about me.

    In the end, you are still someone born out from my mind, Shinji. Something made to suffer, endure and become as empty and devoted to life and death as I am. You and I are… similar and the same even.”

    Another cackle, another bout of pain ruptured from my Circuits and then-

    THUD

    Something blunt slammed on the back of my head, I felt the darkness draining away from my skin, from my circuits from my thoughts as I fell at the safe hold of someone familiar.

    There was a simple lullaby that took me fully out from consciousness, the language being neither Japanese nor English.

    It was in German. Die Lorelei.

    ------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d---

    The situation is as bad as I thought,” Ruby muttered darkly as she escorted the group back to the bedroom the boy had last used. “Jiji-baka might have said that there had been some foul influence conditioning the boy but… to this degree and extent? We are lucky that his body hasn’t deteriorated even more than it is right now.” The Kaleidostick finished with a simple sigh.

    Luvia was uncertain of what was being said and sought more information with a quiet tone, ignoring the grim looks appearing in both Gilgamesh’s and Artoria’s faces at the dark news they had just received from the floating stick busy with helping the boy.

    Kuro was silent as she put Shinji on the bed, her eyes staring attentively at his chest. It was rising and lowering to a proper pace, the little Matou’s breathing having grown stable and comfortable, hopefully like his rest was.

    Shock, mortification and doubt struck her mind without mercy, part of her already calling the blame on herself. It was her reaction, or rather her planned attempt to scare Shinji off from his quirky attempts to get some solo action in dangerous situations, that had caused the horrible development she had witnessed as the closest being to the phenomenon.

    Pollution, his Circuits had turned dark and red as to signify the corruption and the death of those.

    His hair and eyes flashing the distinct Einzbern’s colors before returning to their normal coloration, the quick sight having been more than enough to left her stomach churning at the scene.

    Justeaze had been silent at first, out of fascination and morbid curiosity instead of simple shock and surprise. To see this degree of pollution, even her Ancestor would have been baffled by the state the boy’s body was.

    It was rotting to a worrying speed, enough to make her understand the insistence Shinji had pressed on getting a new body rather than trying to cure what he already had. It was devastated, damaged beyond recovery and even her Magus’ mindset failed to see it as a chance to learn something new.

    It was beyond the scope of their comprehension, the extent of the corruption being something that couldn’t be studied even with the most modern or effective tools allowed by the current Age.

    There was an expiration date on that body, Kuro thought nervously and worringly, one that Shinji had been aware until now… and had looked very unafraid of even now that he had been close to suffer some serious damage.

    He had shown some distaste and minor anger at the time requested by Touko Aozaki, the woman having to deal with some other appointments before reaching out for Fuyuki, and he never once shown to be afraid at the deadly time pressing on his soul.

    A ticking bomb that waited to explode on them, she childishly added with an inner sigh, the body needing for sure to be burned with powerful fire after the boy’s soul had been removed from it.

    If it continued to rot and corrupt to the final bits of the few available Circuits, the chances of dealing with a worrisome undead creature would be fairly high. And that couldn’t be allowed for the sake of keeping the Magus Association out of the city for the time being.

    Ruby was going through numerous tasks without a pause, analyzing vital signs and other details, mundane and not, regarding Shinji’s state. Reports after reports, his conditions were brought up with accurate words and enough detail to put even more concern in everyone’s minds.

    Mostly normal, his Circuits suffering from the sudden exertion of energy and depletion. The Worms would have started gnawing in panic in this situation, yet the Mystic Code was keen to provide them with some of the energy she was allowed to pass to him, giving him some relief as his body started to recover from the phenomenon and-

    How did it happen? Justeaze spearheaded with her usual dull tone as they both finally moved their attention away from the present and back to the recent past. It certainly didn’t happen without external cause.

    While the Crest Worms were indeed a nasty specimen to deal with and have inside a body as young as the Matou’s, the pollution wasn’t related to their nature and reason to exist. Their purpose was the same as they were only living as replacement Circuits to the boy, none possessing anything that could spark the process and… he had been fine until a certain moment had struck.

    In fact, from what Ruby was telling mid-activities, the reason behind her arrival had been mostly kept a secret to Shinji himself, the boy unaware that the Zelretch of his world was keeping a close watch over his ‘apprentices’ and that he had grown worried by how the boy had ‘changed’.

    Something had caused him to develop this dangerous crescendo of pollution, but what ‘certain moment’ could have initiated this horrible situation?

    Something that had happened recently, something that could have been caused by someone that wasn’t currently here in the castle as the boy was being treated.

    None of the Emiya family, nor Miyu and her ‘sister’. Rin was excluded too as she had been the former master of this dimension’s Ruby and-

    That left to only one possible candidate.

    Sakura’s core was inhuman, simplified and dollified for the purpose of keeping her weakened and easy to manipulate. The plum-haired girl had been spending some time with her ‘brother’ during the little event happening just a day ago.

    Innocent and seemingly harmless, the female Matou would have eluded her sight… if not for her connection to the Berserker Card and her rare biology compared to normal humans.

    She was dangerous even when she meant no harm and she was responsible for Shinji’s current plight. Anger was bubbling nastily inside Kuro’s head, roaring and demanding for some retribution and yet her mind was fixed on the sleeping face of the boy.

    The little Einzbern was still guilty of having struck at the tired and drained Shinji, to have brought him to this meltdown and… she had to fix things. She had to.

    Eyes going slowly away from the Matou to the rest of the room, she was surprised to learn that it’s been three hours of silent contemplation. Three hours of watching over his slumber while making sure he was alright.

    Luvia had fallen asleep on her chair, some droll starting to roll off from the edge of her lips as she frowned in her rest, aware of how uncomfortable was sleeping in that sturdy chair.

    Gilgamesh’s calm eyes bore on Shinji, yet he seemed unwilling to share a look to her as he was the one that was truly devoting his full attention at the boy. There was no thinking, there was no guilt, there was only mindful staring from a concerned kid.

    Artoria’s golden eyes were directed at the door, there was some uneasiness playing on her features and Kuro was certain that part of her truly wanted to look at Shinji but… she couldn’t bear it. It was something that had come from the original Saber, the fact that she can’t in her good heart look at a wounded comrade of hers.

    The Einzbern sighed and… she stood up from her own chair as she silently made her way toward the door and-

    “You shouldn’t go,” The younger version of the King of Heroes mused loudly enough to stop her on her tracks. “She is at fault, but you aren’t-”

    “As if your clairvoyance helped you when a faker killed you, Gil,” The girl scoffed back with a cold tone, drawing an irritated look from the blond.

    The boy looked angry at the comment, the sore defeat something that even her younger version was embarrassed of to some fair degree. Yet he didn’t jump to the bait, knowing better than fight in the same room where their common friend was resting from that horrible ordeal.

    He was calm, but he didn’t deign her any other words as she walked out of the room and slowly went toward the entrance of the castle. Her clothes melted in Prana as her Archer dress materialized.

    Her reserves were filled to the brim, enough to allow her for a precise and quick assassination in the proper style that only Counter-Guardian EMIYA could manage. She rushed through the cold breeze of the nightly time and quickly went for the roofs of the tall buildings making up the industrial district of Fuyuki.

    There was silence, her breathing and her heartbeat keeping stable as she went ahead with a simple but effective plan. Her mind having its attention on keeping the specific pattern of her target highlighted compared to the innocent bystanders that could be around her.

    She ventured deeper in the city, trying to find out where Sakura was and… the young woman wasn’t in the central quarter?

    A confusing surprise, but one that gave reason for a scowl to form on her face as Kuro was forced to leave the safety of the height of the small skyscrapers and rush towards the ‘calmer’ blocks of the town.

    She stopped just as the place where the girl was came into sight and… the Einzbern frowned at the scene.

    Sakura was silent as she quietly pushed her feet to propel the small swing she had taken seat into. It was a small playground, slightly off from the nearby park where children would wander around during daylight.

    Violet eyes were hard-pressed on the floor as the girl seemed to be… thinking? No, it felt more like she was having an inner conflict about something. There was some quiet struggle.

    How odd, Kuro thought while she traced her bow and a Caladbolg II appeared on her free hand. Red lines broke the projected copy, rendering it in a Broken Phantasm. Her eyes narrowed in deep focus at the target as she readied the projectile.

    Yet Kuro made a sole mistake.

    Her breathing was deep, her eyes blinking just once, the wind having her sight clouded for a brief moment.

    It was enough for Sakura to move out of the swing and drop her Card to the floor.

    “Install,” She said with a feeble tone, almost passing unheard by her soon-to-be murderer.

    Kuro didn’t wait any longer as the spiral-sword rushed out of the bow and flied right towards the transforming girl.

    The arrow detonated during the spacial distortion that it was known to create, the cracking explosion shattering the quiet setting as the playground was bathed in fire and power.

    And Sakura…

    There was a growing giggle, from soft to loud, the mad Servant laughed at the damage caused by that simple attack. Her red visor turned with a craze-looking smile at the position the Einzbern was currently hiding in.

    “I see you~!” The Berserker announced giddily, causing a scoff to leave the tanned girl’s lips as she jumped out and prepared Kanshou and Bakuya.

    Both swords readied as she saw dark-armored Sakura bolting flashly from her previous position and right towards her. “Let’s play~!” The crazy Matou shrieked as her sword prepared to clash against her opponent.

    A terrible development, Kuro mused darkly, but one that she could play around with some proper attention.

    Her guard was ready as the older female swung in an attempt to cleave the Archer-class wielder down with a single hit. She ducked, letting her black scimitar return the attempt by clashing against the armored side. Hot sparks erupted from the hit, but there was no damage registered by the mad enemy.

    How resilient is that thing?

    “Overedge.” The command was immediately received by the simple swords as they updgraded to their feathery-like form as the fight finally began. The longsword slammed with immediate strength and no hesitation, while Kuro’s blades were deftly deflecting and hitting the giggling Berserker.

    Finally, the armor started to crack at the following strike but as the first blood was drawn by the Einzbern, the tanned girl was taken by surprise as a knee drove painfully on her stomach.

    The hit was non-negligible, sending her flying away from the immediate proximity of the stronger but crazier Servant. A groan left her lips as her back started to hurt, a lesser evil compared to the ache developing from her chest.

    Blood flowing in a calm stream from the edge of her lips, Kuro knew that she had let that happen for greed. She had seen the opening and she had been baited in a terrible counterattack.

    Unacceptable, she thought tiredly and her hold over the twin swords renewed as Sakura rushed for another close engagement.

    The Einzbern jumped away, her bow forming again as she flung two quick Caladbolg III. The weaker version explosive Broken Phantasm had the mission of stalling the opponent just for a moment, enough for the Archer to think for a proper plan of action.

    She blinked as she was forced to move away from a strike landing to the ground from the seemingly-rabid Berserker, the crazed look now starting to irritate her. Just a little.

    This sure looked like to be the beginning of a difficult fight.

    Maybe it was hope or maybe it was a prayer, but familiar words absently left her lips as she braced for the following assault. “I’m bone of my sword,” Kuro muttered, knowing already that the Card wouldn’t allow her access to the full extent of EMIYA’s Noble Phantasm, but rather she felt them as words of calm and focus.

    A creed of Justice to keep herself standing before the worst nightmare.

    But justice to whom? To the world? To Alaya?

    No, she sighed before roaring a battlecry and resuming the melee.

    In her mind his name burned brightly, a motivation worth more for a failure of a world.

    Hopefully, once things were concluded, Shinji will be there to… bash her head and call her a dummy. His dummy.

    ------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-

    AN

    I bet nobody saw this escalation. Well, I mean, I understand that it comes out from nowhere but… yep, things are happening even without the full presence of the Ainsworth.

    It ain’t that difficult, it is just complicated to then evaluate how things are supposed to end and… next chapter will see a very complicated but desperate action from Shinji. You thought that the ‘Pollution’ was the worst that would happen to him? Prepare for some deep Magecraft poop coming soon!
     
  23. Threadmarks: Chapter 16: Degradation, Plight and Worm
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 16: Degradation, Plight and Worm

    My mind was aching, my brain was burning and my soul was suffering at what has just happened.

    A white noise, a shallow shriek and then I was bestowed with sight.

    It was pitch black, so dark that I thought I had been still blind and clueless over whatever was happening inside of me.

    Then I blinked to the darkness surrounding me, uncertainty and uneasiness displayed by my body’s language, but then… I was granted a different setting, something a little more substantial compared to what I just woke up into.

    The room was familiar, it was one that existed within the rotting mansion owned by the Matou Clan. I blinked again, silently grasping with my mind the entirety of the squalid place around me.

    ‘Magically’-working candles kept the illumination going, albeit dim and near-dead, for me to have a good sight over this… office. A particularly worn desk with papers and books, tomes and other literary pieces.

    Several where the libraries behind the desk and its chair, numerous the decrepit leathers of the old books and the jars containing dark-colored substances.

    For someone that was completely unknown to this room, this ominous place would have sent shivers and made them question their sanity at being there.

    There were just too many red flags about the owner of this strange office, enough to warrant a quick run away from there before he could return to commit his usual rounds of heinous crimes.

    Yet I didn’t run, nor I did contemplate hiding away at that prospect. I was just too lucid over the situation, aware that the predicament was far too surreal to be true.

    I had a perfect remembrance of what had happened prior to my trip down my unconscious psyche and I was sure that no one was here to make my life a living hell-

    “Brave words from scum like you,” A soft voice called out from behind the desk. “First you… deprive me of my rights and then you valiantly vouch for the horrors of my family.”

    I blinked again, this time in shock as I found myself warped to the chair in front of the desk and my eyes were now directed at the origin of that comment.

    A tired but disgusting smile was latched at his face, his blood red eyes were mirthfully fixed on my frame. His stark-white hair with diluted red tips, a black copy of my current clothes with their themes alternating a primary black and secondary crimson.

    Cracks were now spreading all over his skins, blood and corruption the more evident in that display of horrible decay.

    “What… are you?” I cautiously asked, my entire body was tense and ready to spring out of what looked to be an ambush playfully set by the corrupted version of Shinji Matou.

    His smile widened and his eyelids dropped partially, then he answered.

    “I’m… not you,” He commented so eagerly and giddily. “I’m the real owner of the body you have so gladly stolen from me.”

    ...I thought he- generally in SI-related stories, the previous host of the body taken shouldn’t be around to-

    “Mess your plans?” He casually finished my thought. “Maybe even introduce obstacles and render your hopes and dream nigh-impossible to reach?” The boy wondered with glee and curiosity.

    It was silence what he was bestowed as I was just too surprised about the scene.

    I couldn’t even try to think about the situation. He was aware of my thoughts and that put me in the worst of the cases to face a child-version of Shinji Matou. The FSN version to booth.

    Then the child tilted forward, his expression twitching to a serious mask that was more than enough to give an intimidating appearance to the overall being before me.

    “I want my body back.”

    The demand was clear, but my interest about considering that was non-existing.

    “No,” I said back, expecting something of a tantrum or even worse from the childified version of the future ‘Master’ of Rider.

    “A pity,” He replied smoothly. “It’s actually sad that I can’t impose myself too much, not with the ‘care’ provided by your pets.”

    “They are not my-”

    “They exist for the sake of giving you something to fend off in the harsh worlds ‘around us’,” Shinji interjected with a sigh. “You are just in denial about their true purpose, trying to not sound yourself as selfish as that fool of Emiya.”

    I tensed up even more at the mentioning of the name and his grin returned once more.

    “Oh right, I forgot to mention that I know everything from within your mind,” He declared happily. “I know of your plans, I know of the ‘routes’ that would end up with ‘Shinji’ dying one way or another, I know of the ‘protagonists’ and I know that you are trying to meddle against destiny for the sake of a filthy invader.”

    I steeled my feature at that insult, realizing quickly that it was directed at Sakura. “She is not-”

    “Consider her your sister as much as you wish, Bukharin, but you are not a Matou and so isn’t she,” His interjection was brutally-composed, a symphony that left a bitter note out for the witnesses to hear and understand. “You stole my body, albeit unwittingly, and now you wish to ‘make amend for my sins’? Are you perhaps demented or worse?”

    “I-”

    “BE QUIET!” His loud and demonic tone sent the room through a shake, the chair trembling in abstract fear as I stared at the monster now unfolding before me. “I didn’t do anything yet and here you are like many would that I can’t be saved.”

    He cackled. “I’m unable to find redemption where my crimes were related to a dysfunctional family, yet the bitch that went close to end the world for the sake that she was abused just like I was is given a freebie from hell.”

    I couldn’t reply and he capitalized on this. This wasn’t just… a good situation to be centered into.

    “My only sin is being named as someone that will commit those deeds, things I as an individual have not committed and-”

    “No.”

    …There was silence, this time his eyes widening at my quirk quip and I sighed.

    “Differently from Sakura, you are not condemned just because of what you are going to do,” I started to explain with a soft tone. “You can’t be redeemed from your nature, one born from the gruesome horror that is commonplace within the Matou family, something that I hadn’t experienced myself but… I consider to be your falling grace.”

    Shinji blinked, he seemed impatient at my slow-paced wording. “Tell me then, Bukharin, what is it that condemned me to eternal damnation?!”



    I looked at the desk, eyes showing little fear at the anger exuding from the query as I sighed and swung the metaphorical axe down.

    “Your mother’s death.”

    I wasn’t sure of what to expect the moment I concluded my reply. Maybe I would be subjected to the boy lashing out with what he could muster in that moment, maybe I would end up suffering a tantrum that would deeply condemn the very flaws my own character had and the lack of effort in some of the things I had to do to save her.

    But he didn’t do anything, he merely stood still as his brain tried, failed and then continued the senseless search of a response to that painful stab in his own mind.

    Many forgets that, despite the cruelty of the Matou, Shinji did have some solace in the form of his mother… until Zouken decided to kill her.

    His father was so much deep in his own depression that Shinji’s self-worth shifted to depend on Zouken, beginning what would turn out to be a shit-show where the boy would hopelessly try to be considered worthy of the title of heir to the clan.

    The arrival of Sakura, which could have helped to save him from the hideous path he ended up falling into if it had happened much earlier, only fueled a sense of faux rivalry with the younger girl, further enabling his unrestrained negative emotions and turning his step-sister in a mean to deal with frustration and stress.

    It was in that moment that I truly realized what I was looking at.

    This wasn’t just the soul of the young boy which body I was currently inhabiting. No, it was now far too gone for it to be the true host of Shinji Matou.

    The unusual cracks on the skin, these were brand unique compared to his attempt to emulate Dark Sakura’s style, but dignified something far worse and… something I should have been conscious of.

    The soul was once Shinji’s but it had deteriorated so much without a connection to the living world, it was slowly decomposing like a dead corpse and the resulting pollution was spreading into my very soul.

    It was like Zouken, but instead of having some failsafe to keep the soul from free-falling into the process of the degradation, it was happily letting it happen.

    It would be death, it would be rebirth in something terrifying as Wraiths were nothing to scoff at.

    I stood up from my chair and started to walk away from that horrible desk, gone was my willingness to be in the proximity of the dangerous tumor spreading so quickly and without proper care.

    “W-Where are you going?” I heard him call in shock. “W-We are not done yet!”

    I ignored him, just like I should do with my own melancholic thoughts for the time being. The gravity of the situation far beyond my inner insecurities and I have to put aside my doubts for the sake of getting some treatment.

    I stopped by the door-handle, glancing at the confused, angry, irritated and lost Shinji Matou. Or what was left of his original self as the fragment barely resembled him with how his personality now was.

    He was afraid and he had the knowledge to hurt others.

    “I’m leaving,” I finally stated with some conviction. “And I refuse your demands.”

    He snarled as he tried to move out of the chair but… he was stuck there. His eyes widened as the more he tried to get away from it, the more the seat would pull his body within it.

    There was true fear but I had the door already open. “You hope for salvation, when your inner desire is the damnation of others.”

    I closed the door behind me without hesitation and I humbly accepted the blinding light as it came to me, coaxing me out of that feverish nightmare.

    -------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d--

    Regret was a powerful word to describe the current mix of emotions desperately flooding her mind while she ducked away from a sharp slash from her enemy’s longsword.

    Kuro was having some trouble with the still-cackling Berserker and, truth be told, she was starting to get angry at how annoying the noise had turned out to be after a full hour of hearing it.

    Seriously, was it one of the cards’ ability to giggle dementedly for hours or was that something born out from the plum-haired Matou.

    Questions, questions. Curious ones but she didn’t have the mind and time to truly focus away from the seemingly endless fight for her life.

    A full hour, it was impressive how sheer determination, Card-boosted stamina and careful mana-usage could take her so far in this difficult brawl.

    Part of her was astonished by how much good-thinking could help her, but part of her success was mostly granted by the brute-like mindset her opponent had developed several minutes in the battle.

    Sakura could have gained a minor resilience to Mad Enchantment, but no human was truly capable to manage and avoid the cursing effects of the ability for too long and thus the tanned Einzbern was granted some minor advantage in the form of a mindless beast rather than a brutal butcherer.

    The older girl’s strength had increased over time, but it was now easier for Kuro to telegraph her actions and avoid getting hit by her powerful hits thrown at the chibi-Archer.

    The issue was that while the Berserker could go for more than an hour or two, Chloe was limited by her body and the need of mana to survive.

    Her reserves had started to go below half of her usual capacity and that was starting to leave her in a concerned thought of dying if someone didn’t join her to help or if she didn’t escape the rabid Matou.

    Time was proving to be her truest foe as she wouldn’t have minded having Shinji to actually help her right now.

    Her arms and legs were sore, terribly so, and her back was aching at the constant dodging which required inhuman flexibility to pull properly, something that the Archer Card was giving her the chance to perform without further straining her body.

    Explosive rounds were ineffective against the adaptive bitch, all versions of Caladbolg failing to get anymore damage on her armor.

    The same was for Kanshou and Byakuya. The Over-Edged scimitars were unsuccessful in gaining more momentum out from the openings present in the animal-like stance adopted by Sakura.

    Her chances of success were now close to none, the fight had proved to be a fatal mistake to begin and-

    Crack

    Air sucked out from her lungs, Kuro’s eyes widened at the sudden attack at her ribs. The kick had been far quicker than any of the previous attempts at landing damage on the shorter girl and the effects proved to be as devastating as she had expected.

    Her bones ached all at once, her tongue tasted some strangely familiar substance- blood, the Einzbern realized as she was sent flying away from her still-energetic opponent.

    Sakura seemed to be barely winded, looking more eager than anything at how long things have gone and… Kuro couldn’t get up.

    The moment she landed on the floor, she rolled for some time and… the girl’s legs refused to properly obey with her needs, her arms failing to pushing her face off the floor as the Berserker approached towards the downed Einzbern with a slow pace.

    It was cocky, it was pompous and it was easy to discern the predatorial instincts behind such a slow walk. It was domineering for the victor and humiliating for the loser of this challenge and she waited for the final blow to come.

    Sakura lifted her longsword, the twisted smile still visible through her mask as she prepared to end the girl’s life.

    Kuro was thinking several things at once as the blade started its descent, chiding herself for being this headstrong and arrogant over her masterful hold over the card, her foolish image of having the complete powers of EMIYA and the fact that she hadn’t prepared any backup for these kind of occasions.

    She thought how she should have considered Gil’s disinterest in partaking with her plan as more than just a need to stay beside Shinji and more of a factual matter regarding their current inability to keep up with Sakura.

    Artoria wouldn’t have any difficulty in matching and overwhelm the Berserker, the boy would have just some trouble with Lancelot’s Noble Phantasm and… Kuro wasn’t just enough to go in a fair-fight.

    Not even an unfair one like the precedent one had allowed her some relief or minor victory, only a slow path to her self-created demise.

    She sighed, too tired to beg and too annoyed to even consider talking with the mad girl, waiting for her mistakes to come down upon her and-

    The sword stopped mid-arc as several magic beams slammed onto Sakura, breaking through her little armor and piercing through her skin.

    A surprised shriek was the only thing leaving the Matou’s lips as she was then sent flying with a stronger beam of light.

    Kuro’s sight was limited, but she suddenly saw a short figure descending from the sky, a hooded cloak covering his face and body. In his hand was a long staff with a large circular form in top of it and… he rushed towards her.

    She didn’t need any further instructions to understand what was going on and, as Shinji crouched down to pass her the familiar cookies, she took a bite from one of those and then proceeded to devour the rest.

    Her Mana reserves started to soar back to normality, her wounds slowly healing at the sudden intake of energy and then- the young Matou chopped at her head, causing her to yelp.

    “You and I are going to have a really serious talk after this is over, you dummy” He promised with a tired tone. “But first… I will deal with family matters...”

    Just as he said that, Sakura recoiled from the damage suffered and it wasn’t the best of scenes for sure.

    Taking the brunt of the sudden magical attack, her entire armor was mostly shattered and ready to fall apart, giving to the two witnesses more of her pale skin now stained in crimson-red blood.

    But the plum-haired girl didn’t seem to mind, rather her full attention was taken by the new arrival as she giggled with a more innocent tone. “Hello Oniichan~, are you here to play too~?”

    Shinji sighed and glanced at her with a deadpan. “Sakura, it’s late, can’t we play later?”

    The Berserker huffed and pouted, then she smiled and giggled. “Nope~-!” The girl said before rushing to attack her step-sibling, blade ready to draw some blood out of him.

    Kuro tried to stand up and maybe help Shinji but… she soon realized that it wasn’t truly necessary.

    Not at all.

    The end of the staff slammed on the ground with vigor. “Atlas.

    A large distortion appeared right around Sakura’s surroundings, the Berserker stopped on her tracks by the unexpected trick as she tried to shake and break free from that stun-spell, the results being miser at first.

    It was magic, the Einzbern remembered as Shinji had confirmed Caster to be Medea of Colchis, a witch from the Age of Gods, thus the effects were quite… interesting to see from a visual perspective.

    It was flashy, way denser than normal magecraft in terms of Prana/Mana, but the results were indeed a level beyond any magecraft coming close to this specific spell.

    But the boy was far from done, the girl realized as soon, he aimed his hand at Sakura’s… wrist.

    Aero.” The new spell was a wind-based one, damaging the hand of their mutual opponent that held her long-sword, forcing Sakura to drop it out of pain.

    A loud clang signaled the weaponless state of the plum-haired Matou, further weakening her current state.

    Shinji then proceeded to lift off to the air, turning briefly to Kuro to tell her something, a warning. “Move out of the way, dummy,” His tone was easy to perceive as still-annoyed by the current predicament, enough to make Kuro flinch briefly.

    She still ended up obliging, her skin tensing at the sudden intensification of magic energy around the boy. Just as the older Matou looked ready to break free from the spell, the boy unleashed his attack with a longer incantation.

    Rain of Light: Machia Hecatia Graea!” Numerous seals developed mid-air all around Shinji, these directed at the struggling Berserker and then…

    Things exploded in a blinding light, smoke erupting from the blast and causing the tanned Einzbern to cover her eyes and bring her arms up to protect her face.

    Moments of uncertainty passed, worries lifting up as soon a particularly familiar noise caught her attention. It wasn’t pleasant, her guard tensing up as she summoned her dual scimitars at it.

    It was her giggling.

    It was soft and mixed with coughing as Sakura, now deprived of armor and visor, stared at the sky with a crazed look. Her lips were a little burst as more blood rolled out of her mouth.

    Then the giggle became a full-fledged laugh, the one kind only a mad-woman would have and more than enough to prepare the Einzbern to capitalize the current damage inflicted.

    “I-It didn’t work- IT DIDN’T WORK, ONIICHA-GAH!”

    She was pushed forward, her eyes widening this time in utter shock and fear as… she looked back to find Shinji holding the now-plunged Rule Breaker on her back. He was smiling softly.

    “I know that you are strong, sister,” The boy said quietly, removing the small dagger out of her body. “That is why this was just a distraction.”

    The girl blinked in shock, mouth opening to speak again but… then she stumbled and fell forward.

    With a calm but loud thud, Sakura Matou fell unconscious as the effects of the dagger started to work through her entire self.

    The connection to the Ainsworth was severed, her connection to the card was severed and soon a blinding light coated her for a few moments, returning to her body her previous clothes.

    In Shinji’s hands was now the Lancelot-Berserker Card. “And… that is done for,” He proclaimed calmly, the Caster Card then was uninstalled with Ruby appearing out of the… staff?

    Was that how he had managed to keep up with the Card’s draining price? Maybe it was Ruby’s energy and-

    Her curiosity was given little life as soon she found herself tensing with some embarrassment at the glance the boy was throwing at me, a shiver or two going down her spine.

    “And now, I think I will have to rehearse the little chat we had back in the Castle,” He mentioned with a careless tone, starting to approach the now tense-still girl. “It was something like ‘Dummy’ and ‘my dummy’.”

    He hummed quietly as he got close enough to stare at her full-blush, the smug look hardly helping with how much humiliating this situation was. She should have been happy to be classified like that and… yet the way he said it felt off. Something was off about it.

    “I think your punishment should be a little more… articulated compared to what you did to me,” He nodded to himself. “Maybe a stroll around the city will help.”

    ...What? That didn’t sound that much difficult.

    “Without Cards. Without Servants’ powers,” He continued giddily. “You know, a simple walk through Fuyuki.”

    She blinked, before sporting a nervous look. “B-But what about Sakura?”

    Shinji glanced back as they both stared at Ruby while the Mystic Stick opened a portal to the castle and yeeted Sakura in the unused bed of that room, entering it herself and then closing up.

    “It’s not a problem,” He admitted with a calm hum. “Now, let’s go for-”

    “My bones are sore.”

    “Pity,” He sighed with a little smile. “It would seem like they will be sore for a while then.”

    … “Shin-kun,” Kuro tried to reason in a nervous manner. “We can talk about punishments back home, I’m still tired and-”

    “Too bad, Kuro-tan.” He interjected mirthfully. “I think I will go for a stroll myself and… you wouldn’t like for me to wander alone during nighttime in the city, wouldn’t you?”

    There was a pause, the girl evaluating the ways and means of dodging that annoying and tiring task but, seeing the shit-eating grin on Shinji’s face, she now was sure that it was meant to be a penance walk rather than one to think about stuff.

    She sighed and nodded, the boy taking the lead for the rest of the night as he safely lead her back to the castle, all while holding her hand and giving it some quick but comforting squeezes.

    The tanned Einzbern was unsure of how she should remember that night. Either the night where she had almost died, the night where Shinji got some revenge out of whatever had happened with his fainting or… the night she finally made progress.

    ...Still, she had to admit that Kuro-tan had some giggly ring to it~.

    ----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----

    AN

    You thought I would have skipped the update, but it was me, one day later!

    Yep, I didn’t mean to skip updating yesterday but… I was kind of tired. I had been working with some side-projects and that got me tired to the point I couldn’t pull anything out of my brain about the update.

    So that is why this update is now here for you all to enjoy…

    And now I will have to write up the update for Golden Month.

    Drat.
     
    Hugs4u, FeebleEcho, Nicolaos and 2 others like this.
  24. Threadmarks: Chapter 17: Inception, Worm and Wormlet
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 17: Inception, Worm and Wormlet

    A full day of relative quiet had gone by at the castle as we recovered from the quick-paced escalation we had faced in the last week.

    The final day before Touko Aozaki reaches Fuyuki to finally provide with her services and give me some advice about the situations at hand.

    She was experienced in neutering threats early on, so it was a sure matter of fact that the woman would know how to properly deal with the Wraith that was Darius Ainsworth.

    Pandora had been carefully secured away from everyone’s sight, the girl still given the chance of enjoying some food during lunchtime and dinnertime. She was also given some pretty clothes and toys to try out and keep herself away from boredom itself.

    The blonde was mostly harmless if kept at distance and away from her Box, her case being fairly complicated and surely going to require the direct intervention of some specialists from Clocktower; maybe some Enforcers if the Ainsworth managed to somehow fix the fragmented portal and invade this dimension.

    With Sakura deprived of her Berserkalot Card and safely monitored in her new room, I was left to study the case I had been given and the little unexpected development I had now to face in the form of the furious plum-haired girl.

    This version of my little sister was legitimately angry at what had just happened, after all Kuro had attacked her ‘without an apparent reason’ and that had surely sparked a furious outburst that lasted several hours.

    She was so angry that she tried to refuse eating her share of lunch and dinner that were served by battle-trained Homunculi, only the threat of being force-fed managed to get through her stubborn resistance but other than that she was despondent to anything else.

    Trying to dialogue this soon would surely fail and, truth be told, I was unsure of what I was supposed to say with her without getting shouted at for having ‘attacked her’ in an indirect way.

    Rightfully so, I was also careful to chide the tanned Einzbern for going for that dangerous and life-threatening attempt on her own, the girl now forced to endure what I considered to be the best kind of punishment that someone like her could have to face.

    At first Chloe was confused by my demands, almost eagerly jumping at the opportunity to don the purple-themed clothes that came from Germany, the ones that she had been meant to wear if things hadn’t changed much in this timeline; if she had remained one with Illya.

    Giggling melodiously as she went to try the dress she was meant to have used in formal occurrences, the girl expected me to be dejected by her reactions but, much to her initial surprise, I was smugly smiling while Gilgamesh tried to hide a smile on his face.

    Artoria looked surprised at my little request, but there was also a melancholic stare that I was quick to identify while the others were partially-distracted from it because of the tanned Einzbern’s amusement.

    Saber did meet with Illya back in the castle in Germany in the FZ timeline and… maybe that was bringing up that kind of sadness attached to the specific nostalgia; Something I needed to help her with in the near future, this kind of feelings going to surely become a problem for her if I didn’t intervened soon.

    Luvia was frowning at this, praising the clothes as something incredibly pretty and even going as far as to ask if it would have been possible to get a blue copy of it.

    As I accepted her little request with a kind smile, Ko-Gil decided to answer for me and he wasn’t anyway near lenient as I would have been in this kind of cases.

    Possibly because the blond was slightly at odds with the girl, especially after I had been reprimanding him for not stopping her when he could have back when he knew of her intentions.

    He pleaded that it was because she would have still gone anyway and that any attempt at stopping her would have resulted in a stronger reaction, but I knew very well that it was a lie to mask up something I was already aware of.

    The normal Kid Gil was a mirthful child that would let some ‘jokes’ pass by for the sake of creating an amusing situations, couple this comedic touch to the grittier taste from Angra Mainyu and… he was a very sadistic young boy.

    My lecture got him quiet, surprisingly enough he didn’t deny the accusations I had thrown at him, further cementing that he was indeed in the wrong over the subject.

    “You know that you are supposed to wear that even at school, right?” He asked with a cheeky tone. “That you can’t change to your regular uniform?”

    The tanned Einzbern stopped with her happy twirling, stilling as her wide eyes snapped at me with some confusion before she stomped until she was standing in front of me. “What?!”

    “I decided to send a message to the principal and Taiga to tell them that you were going to present yourself with some traditional German clothes because of some festivity happening right now,” I replied with wider smile, cautious to not spring the frowning girl. “They were elated that you were going to go at school with elegant clothes, Taiga even asking if she could make a special lesson in English about Germany and their traditions.”

    Her frown deepened with some irritation and she stood quiet just for a brief moment as she thought about the proper reaction to give out to my smug expression.

    “You are a jerk, Shinji,” She said with a small pout, eyes rolling. “I mean, if I was the one getting hurt you-”

    “I would have tore apart whoever decided to attack you in a safer and non-life-threatening manner,” I chimed in with a sigh, my hands quickly reaching at her pouty cheeks and pulling a little, causing her to squirm in minor surprise and pain at the sudden torture. “I remind you that the punishment is for being dumb, not because you went against a possible treat, you dummy.”

    For some reason, the moment the last two words left my lips the girl seemed to ease for an instant, a blush erupting on her features and causing her to back away from this little escalation.

    “I-It wasn’t that bad-”

    “You were almost drained out of mana, your body was close to collapse at the lack of energy and that is why you aren’t going to be the one escorting me today with your whole core recovering.”

    Kuro pulled away from my hold with a huff, arms crossing in annoyance. “W-Well, at least I’m fabulous.”

    She truly was, that adorable clothes truly brought out a regal cold beauty element out of her appearance and part of me contemplated if this punishment was influenced by the fact I had always wanted to see Kuro with FSN Illya clothes or not.

    Diverting away from that digression, I shifted my attention back to Artoria and Luvia. “You are and… I hope you two are ready for today’s task.”

    The two blondes nodded almost at the same time, the shorter female smiling happily at the Tyrant and… Artoria gave a nod back to the child, sporting a small smile of her own.

    Kuro seemed ready to say something more about the matter but, before she could try and bring even a word out, our attention was taken away by the distinct noise of a car’s horn echoing through the walls of the fortress.

    I snorted, Gil giving a bright smile as he took the lead out of the room as we all soon followed; Kuro looked confused as she took her school bag and walked up to where we were going and… she froze as we finally reached the entrance of the castle, her sight finding a distinctly familiar car and an even more familiar woman waving happily at her while holding a camera.

    “Chloe-chan~! You look so pretty!” Irisviel von Einzbern giggled happily, the car having two extra passengers in the form of Illya and Miyu.

    Both girls seemed surprised as well for this development, but when Kuro turned to glance at me… well, she found a knowing smile as I was well aware of this interesting visit as I was the one that asked the Einzbern matriarch if she could accompany the tanned girl to Homurahara for that morning.

    The woman accepted without hesitation and now… she was here. And her pseudo-daughter was rightfully furious at me for this little deception.

    A deadly glare ensued and she looked positively ready to jump on me. “W-Why!!”

    I blinked and merely shrugged, but what followed was hardly-innocent as it might seems.

    After all, I was more pissed than her.

    “When I first found you, back before I had Sakura removed from your proximity, I thought that you were dead,” I finally admitted with a simple frown. “I felt my heart dying for that very moment, even though Ruby told me that your vitals were still stable, I felt at fault for pushing you to commit that difficult situation.”

    Her eyes were wide open and she was kept quiet as I continued to speak, but still I decided to start walking towards the car, the girl following closely as we did have just a little amount of time before having her turn out late.

    “I was so certain that I had been the cause for your pain, that I could have been capable of making sure that Sakura had been neutralized before this happened and...” I blinked, then nodded. “I’m not angry at you, I’m angry at how you took things in your hands without backup or support. This why you will experience this discomfort; a fraction of what I truly felt that day when I got you back to the castle.

    There was silence, the girl was listening raptly at my words and appearing quite mortified at hearing my own plight at what had happened almost two days earlier.

    Her shoulders were tense but she finally nodded at me. “I-I see.”

    A little smile was painted on my face at that and, before she could turn and enter the car, I reached out her hand and stopped her. “Kuro.”

    The girl turned slowly, a little surprise at this approach and feeling unsure about what I planned to do with her but…

    I gestured her to lean closer, the girl frowning at the request but complying as I slowly went forward and… planted a quick peck on her cheek. A blush erupted almost immediately but I was quick to speak before she could ask why I did that.

    “Do learn from this mistake, I know you can do and… do smile at school,” I said while nodding at her. “You really look fabulous.”

    Face sporting a confused but energized expression, the Einzbern merely nodded before waving and entering the car with a small twitchy smile.

    Before I could have the chance of moving away from the vehicle, I heard a familiar giggle as the pale-haired mother jumped in action and started to affectionately tease the poor girl, Illya and Miyu looking fairly surprised of my action themselves and deigning me a confused and inquisitive look.

    I merely shrugged and snorted as I turned back to walk inside the castle followed by the rest of the group.

    There was still much to do about what had happened between Sakura and Kuro and… now it was about time to check where my lovely sister had set her hideout.

    --------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------

    The first clue I decided to use to backtrack Sakura’s past steps was to go through her possible modus operandi upon entering this dimension.

    As much as the girl was so soft-spoken and seemingly naive about the world, she was also incredibly cunning about the things she was accustomed with and… she was also capable of remembering where she had lived for years.

    This was the first time I had ever gone this close to the grounds were once the Matou’s mansion existed, the ruins of the scorched building leaving a somewhat unsettling sensation at seeing these instead of the decaying part of town.

    Gone was one of the symbols of ‘my childhood’, now a grand grave left for everyone to look from afar.

    The place was deemed haunted by the neighborhood, the eerily ominous feeling reaching out to those that merely looked at the area, feeling a bitter taste reaching mouth as if bile building up from the stomach was tried to burst out.

    And that was something that happened even to those that had been unaware of the happenings within the house prior to its destruction.

    It was disorientating as a first experience, but I stepped up inside as I was used to much worse than this little frightening stare.

    Luvia was attached to me, shivering a little as her whole body and mind was screaming fear at being in the proximity of this place and even someone as battle-hardened as Artoria seemed affected by being there, her whole self tensed up and her guard ready for any attack.

    Not a positive sign for sure but… we had to check there before going elsewhere; Sakura had to have tried to control this place as a hideout, so maybe it was here?

    What a difficult complication to deal with!

    Just as we passed the ruined gates, I found myself mesmerized by the noisy silence that was evident from that destroyed mansion, the laughs of that disgusting old man still persisting even now that he was long deceased.

    Seriously, was I walking on cursed grounds or what?

    Before I could call off the visit at the visible lack of hints that could lead us to where Sakura might have taken refuge until two days ago, my attention was drawn by a detail I had not noticed at first.

    While the manor had been horribly mauled by what could be considered Zouken’s last stand against Zelrecht, I couldn’t help but notice a particular section of the place that just was… confusing.

    There were two small dirt-filled sections that were meant to be used to grow some flowers by the entrance, something that had to have been ruined by the flames just as it had happened to the building… but there were some growing flowers there.

    While plants could have grown after the fire, the kind of flowers I was looking at were not among those that could have been conceived without an artificial touch bringing them here.

    They looked healthy, domesticated and… well-cared for.

    My sight heightened as I started to look around some more, dragging the visit for a little more than I had expected it to be as we slowly ventured to see the entire proximity of the destroyed house, my eyes keeping a wary look as I had a feeling that we weren’t alone in that specific time of the day.

    Moments of restless calm passed, the agitation brewing inside my core was close to burst out as my nerves were quick to call out the mansion as a dangerous place to be wandering around without more precautions.

    But the curiosity was here, my mind was yelling at me that it couldn’t be possible for anything dangerous to have settled here of all places and… then I saw them.

    My chest tightened in sudden panic, my eyes going wide open in silent horror as I froze on spot at the shocking sight I was presented in what could be described as a ‘seemingly normal scene’ to be looking at.

    I was dreaming, there was no way in hell that this could be a normal predicament. This has to be a nightmare!

    Luvia was shocked too, but it was confusion more than anything dominating my brain right now and Artoria seemed ready to bring up Excalibur Morgan at the surreal picture presented to her.

    I blinked as the plum-haired girl sighed happily, blissfully unaware of our presence as she continued to water some flowers.

    She was wearing a simple white sundress and she seemed slimmer than she should look like.

    Sakura Matou seemed to be having a quiet moment of delightful peace in that simple task of gardening, her mind completely devoted in tending at the flowers growing by the side of the mansion while a figure watched her silently go through this activity.

    Sitting in the stone bench just a few meters away from the teen, the bald head of one Zouken Matou was enough to send me in a dreadful fit and… he slowly turned to look at our general direction.

    I expected a disgusting smile, a devious idea at the opportunity presented by this careless wandering and-

    I-I chewed too much, I was already trembling more than Luvia and the little blonde was having trouble keeping me from not falling on the ground and… the elder merely looked surprised if not confused by our presence.

    Maybe he had been unprepared too? Maybe this was our chance to get out of there before things could turn even worse than-

    “Sakura-chan,” He finally stated with a tired voice. “There are some… intruders.”

    -now.

    Gulping nervously, I braced myself as the young woman reacted at those words.

    The warning was quickly heard by the girl, the teen jumping up in surprise and causing the small watering can to fall on the floor, spilling the entire content on the dirt beneath her shoes.

    Sakura Matou looked shocked at seeing the three of us and her violet stare briefly lingering with the two blondes’ before she ended up glancing right at my eyes.

    I saw surprise, confusion and… realization and mortification. It was a flurry of emotions that looked so genuine and so innocent.

    Why, why was I subjected to this? Why was this happening to me?!

    And while panic was consuming my already-damaged sanity, the scene continued to unfold and bring out some more uncertainty to what was currently going on here.

    “I-I didn’t expect that you-” The girl tried to say, blinking before glancing at the old worm. “G-Grandfather, what is-”

    “It would seem like your version was ultimately,” The founder of the Matou Clan stated, his darkened eyes boring dully at mine. “And this mysterious Matou decided to finally investigate about us.”

    W-What? They expected this- why were they even-

    At those words, the female Matou seemed to ease up and give me a kind smile; trying to get me to calm down as I was incredibly agitated by what was happening right now.

    “W-Who are you two?” I bluntly demanded, my face the palest possible. “I-I know that Sakura is safe and that Zouken died years ago, so who are you two?!” I ended the question with a loud-pitched tone, regaining some bearing over my fear and starting to think about what I was supposed to do now.

    Run, my brain screamed to run without giving a look back at the sight and… maybe torch this place.

    This was an illusion, it should have been one and yet the two girls standing by me seemed to be seeing the same thing I was. That meant that… that, they were really there.

    “I suppose that you aren’t truly that much aware of what is happening in this universe, not as much as Zelretch had intended you to be at least,” The old man said with a sigh, slowly standing up from the bench and carefully turning to look at us better. “Still, it’s interesting to see whom could have been my grandson if Byakuya hadn’t run away with his brother.”

    I tensed up again and prepared to tell Salter to jump at the attack as dark mist started to cover the entire frame of the elder, the darkness lasting several moments and disappearing to reveal… someone much different than the decrepit old worm.

    Gone was the close-to-death appearance, his entire appearance was… rejuvenated. He looked much younger, still old enough to appear as a grandfather and… he had hair.

    It was styled similar to mine, the dark-violet tone of his hair had grayed down to a light gray but, instead of the same-color eyes I was greeted with a pair of red orbs.

    It took me a moment to connect the word ‘Zelretch’ to the current change, my eyes widening once again as I took a step back from the man. “A Dead Apostle.”

    Luvia gasped and stepped a little closer to me, while Artoria’s eyes narrowed at the smiling vampire as the elder started to clap his hands at me.

    “Impressive, that is a correct statement, yes,” The man admitted happily, his eyes glowing powerfully and mirthfully. “So there is still some hope that you aren’t going to be a threat to us and… maybe we can discuss rather than fight with each other.”

    “What is there to discuss with something worth killing on sight,” I snarled back at him. “That was the last step to shatter your own humanity-”

    “H-He isn’t a horrible person,” Sakura piped in nervously, her eyes darting from her grandfather to me… and then back to Zolgen. “W-While the Association has warranted the full extermination of Dead Apostles, grandfather is now sane again and… and he stopped hurting me since Zelretch-sama made him sign that Geis-”

    “WHAT?!” I shot back as my panic was overlapped by utter shock and confusion, my eyes then turning at the still-smiling bloodsucker. “What is she talking about?!”

    Yet the man didn’t reply at first, his stare slowly dropped at… my lower face?

    “You are bleeding from your nose,” He commented quietly, his index aiming right at the little string of blood slowly leaving from my left nostril; I blinked and my hand was quickly checking as… I was truly bleeding, self-shock at this discovery.

    But the man was hardly done with me. “What is the current stage of your body? How much did the Crest Worms already consume your prana and-” He paused a moment, initially frowning before gracing me with a wide-eyed look. “How many do you have?! You barely have the Circuits to dignify this unnatural number and-”

    “G-Grandfather!” Sakura interrupted with a stern look. “I understand the interest but… he isn’t a specimen.”

    Zolgen blinked and slowly nodded at her chiding, bowing his head a little and-

    What is going on with these two? Why was the man this submissive to her?!

    It should be the opposite! Even in case of Geis, the man would have continued to be the hierarchical leader of the clan and-

    I stopped for a moment, my thoughts intensifying in crystallizing a guess that was as surprising as terribly possible; A guess that explained why Zolgen was this much submitted to Sakura’s words and why he wasn’t making much of a fuss over it.

    A traitorous thought, but a sure possibility considering what I could drawn from the little hints given and-

    “S-Sakura,” The girl glanced back at me, eyes giving curiosity at being called. “Y-You are the head of the Matou Clan!”

    There was silence and… the young woman slowly nodded, surprise evident in her features. “I-I am but- how do you know about this?”

    Everyone was looking at me with a confused look, shocked by this wild guess of mine that was seemingly correct in the long term and…

    Zolgen cackled.

    It wasn’t the same pitch as his more repugnant version, rather it was something a little more elegant than else. It was a slight improvement than the coughfits-inducing laughs of my grandfather.

    “Yes! I knew that Zelretch wouldn’t have told me about your brilliant mind and then show me someone lesser!” He chuckled, amusement dripping from his fanged smile as he leaned forward. “It’s a waste! To think that I would have wasted this goldmine of an heir for the sake of turning him a specimen is-”

    “I wasn’t a specimen.” I interjected curtly, my dry comment seemingly plunging a metaphorical dagger right on the vampire’s heart. The man looked confused at my statement and I sighed before giving out the truth.

    “This is punishment,” I said vehemently. “Punishment for interrupting ‘training’ sessions.”

    Sakura gasped, eyes widening as she suddenly started to walk towards me, ignoring as Artoria summoned Excalibur Morgan and Luvia prepared to turn in Kaleid Sapphire-

    But the plum-haired girl didn’t care as-

    -She dropped to her knees and delivered a heartfelt close hug.

    “I-I’m s-sorry!” It was a prelude for thousands of apologies, sobs mixing between those and bringing me to a state of utter speechless.

    My strength was forfeited as I felt my eyes watering up at the situation, the pressure immense and my core quivering tiredly as I returned the hug and placed my chin on her shoulder.

    I started to say ‘sorry’ myself.

    Sorry for being a bad big brother,

    Sorry for not being there to protect her,

    Sorry for not being strong enough to keep her safe,

    Sorry for… for failing her so much.

    And in that very moment, the world made by others was forfeited for the sake of family. This Sakura was the one that was granted a happy ending and… his heart steeled at the chance of doing the same with his own sister.

    A bond formed by uncertainty but sureness, by chance but destiny, by desire and temperance.

    The world rolled, but the two keep hugging.

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    AN

    So, I’ve discovered that there is a very minuscule section of the manga that does ‘partly’ address the Matou Situation. Sakura is a Matou and she is Shirou’s kohai… but she seems far happier compared than her other selves and there is no mention of Zouken.

    The manga in question is Prillya 2wei Volume 1 Chapter 4.5, BTW. (It contains a Yamcha EE too, my God~!)

    Next chapter will see Luvia-tan making discoveries about Shinji’s families from the most ‘trustworthy’ source over the matter.

    And yes, I didn’t explain what is truly going on as of why Zouken is alive, a vampire and… Sakura is happy and the head of the family. Next chapter will bring an answer to that, I just wanted to show some emotional break before giving something logical and worth some reasoning.

    QQ AN: We have reached the current pacing. The update schedule is an update every two weeks on Saturday.
     
    Uyurgezn, FeebleEcho, Hugs4u and 2 others like this.
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