[Fate] Layer Zero / Terminus (Archive)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by fallacies, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:21 AM.

  1. Threadmarks: Index

    fallacies Getting out there.

    Feb 27, 2013
    Likes Received:

    It's January 2004, and the curtain is soon to rise upon the War for the Fuyuki Grail.
    In a disused mansion somewhere in the municipality of Miyama, an extraneous element comes to awareness.

    The clocks have unto Zero begun their count. What will you do?


    Layer Zero / Terminus
    a Fate Quest
    by fallacies

    00:01 - Step in Now
    00:02 - Blue After Blue
    00:03 - ???
    00:04 - ???
    00:05 - ???​


    • This is the story-only archive thread for a quest currently being posted to the Spacebattles Roleplaying & Quests forum.
    • For informational purposes, player choices will be preserved per story-post, but any voting must be conducted within the appropriate thread.
    • Discussion is welcome.
    Corrections to the story text are appreciated.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017 at 10:07 AM
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  2. Threadmarks: 00:01 // Step in Now

    fallacies Getting out there.

    Feb 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures.
    In one of them I am your enemy.

      -- Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths (1941)

    00:01 - 24 Jan 2004
    Step in Now


    You awaken to the chiming of clocks -- not of one, but of many.

    Uncomfortably sore, you push yourself upright from the hard surface of the floor, squinting as you attempt to make out your surroundings. Your glasses are conspicuously missing, but somehow your vision is clear.

    "What?" you ask. "What the hell is this?"

    You sit within the forward foyer of an unfamiliar mansion -- though, as if the building were at some point converted into a functional clock tower, massive gearshafts span from wall to wall, filling the three stories of the atrium with a complex grid of interlocking motion. Directly overhead, from the summit of the space, an unobstructed skylight illuminates the circle of engraved marble beneath you.

    Upon inspection, the perfectly-cut grooves that mark the pristine, white stone appear to form a magic circle of some sort. Along the edge of the stone, there's an inscription in English:

    Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall.
    May the Heavens exist, even that my place be Hell.

    The inscription aside, the shape of the circle seems vaguely familiar to you -- and assuming that you haven't been arbitrarily kidnapped by cultists, it could very well have originated from a game that you've played, or some manga or anime.

    At the thought that you might've been kidnapped, you force yourself to your feet -- and immediately find that your balance is off. Perhaps you've been drugged? Or maybe it's the unfamiliar cut of your present attire -- a white winter coat that you've never purchased, worn over a sweater-and-miniskirt ensemble and a pair of black thigh stockings.

    Examining yourself, you catch your reflection from the corner of your eye -- meeting your gaze from within the glass pane of one of the countless pendulum clocks that adorn the walls.

    "What the fuck," you mutter -- exploring the contours of your face with a leather-gloved hand as you exit the circle, approaching the wall across the checkered marble floor.

    In perfect synchronicity, every clock upon the wall is ticking backwards -- but at present, this doesn't concern you in the least. What does is your appearance within the glass.

    The messy hair and the face in your reflection are unmistakeably yours -- in a resting state, incessantly dour, as if the entirety of your life consisted of first-world problems. The last that you recall, however, you didn't have the coloration of an albino; and rather than the scrawny, featureless frame that had at one point elicited suspicions of an eating disorder, you now possess the streamlined curves of a swimsuit model.

    Under different circumstances, you might have been pleasantly surprised.

    "We can rule out a kidnapping, I suppose," you say -- though, this isn't wholly accurate.

    There does exist the possibility that your abductors chose to provide extensive cosmetic surgery prior to your awakening; but if they were willing to invest so much in you, it's unlikely they'd have left you unattended, absent of obvious restraint -- even assuming that you're trapped within the mansion.

    Could the magic circle be taken at face value, then?

    "I swear, if this is some shitty isekai summoning thing, I'm gonna scream ..."

    There were details that lent to that theory, of course. The Art Nouveau aesthetic of the building interior could easily figure into a steampunk fantasy or a science fiction setting -- though, you hope that you haven't been dropped into Bioshock.

    Rather than preoccupy yourself with hypothesis, the practical course would be to obtain a factual comprehension of your circumstances -- and most straightforwardly, attempting an escape would either move your captors to respond; or establish the legitimacy of your confinement. A quick check of the double-doors at the entrance gives that they are indeed locked -- but a lever tumbler key has been left within its hole; and with two clockwise rotations, some mechanism disengages the bolts that extend into the floor and doorframe.

    With a bit of effort, the heavy wooden doors push open -- and you have the distinct sensation of crossing over a threshold as you step out into the overgrown yard. The distinction of the 'crossing' isn't a shift of temperature or pressure -- though the air outside does happen to be chillier than expected. Rather, it's akin to the subtle unease of leaving behind the safety of your home -- as if the mansion provided you with any sense of security.

    To some relief, you note that the mansion's situated in a modern seaside suburb -- on a hilltop in what appears to be a well-to-do neighborhood. A steel-wrought tied-arch bridge is visible maybe two and a half miles away, crossing a river into a neighboring city.

    The buildings along the street adjacent aren't distinct enough in architecture that you can ballpark your precise location -- but as you were last conscious sometime in mid-November, the cold of the weather either suggests that you haven't been relocated to the southern hemisphere; or that you've been asleep for a very long time.

    "Nothing to keep me from escaping," you mutter.

    If you've been the victim of a crime, it's a very strange one.

    You entertain the notion that your predicament is the work of a supernatural existence -- that you've been spirited away by a faerie from out of Celtic folklore; or maybe by an R.O.B. -- however unlikely that is outside of excessively cliche Japanese web-novels and self-insert fanfics.

    You clearly aren't within a medieval fantasy setting, though; and if you've been dropped into a fictional universe, it's at the least a reasonable facsimile of the real world. Near-future science fiction is a definite possibility; and you can't yet rule out urban fantasy settings like The Dresden Files or The Gamer.

    That said, though you've never been to Chicago before, the body of water in the distance doesn't quite fit with your impression of Lake Michigan. The North Atlantic off the coast of New England is more approximate -- but the town you're in looks far too decent to fit the descriptions of Brockton Bay.

    "Status," you say, half in humor.


    "Shit," you mutter. "Shit, shit, shit."

    The 'Status Screen' isn't a Head-Up Display. It doesn't occupy a portion of your field of view, and it doesn't manifest like a holographic screen. It projects directly into your consciousness, absent of interference with your sense of vision. In terms of presentation, its abstract ergonomics are admirable -- and if not for the information laid out, you'd even appreciate it.

    You're a Nasuverse character -- an Einzbern homunculus; or, at the least, an artificial being that operates on Nasu mechanics, regardless of whether or not your memories disagree.

    Presuming that you're legitimately in Nasu, and not hopping along on some sort of a jumpchain, the 'von Einzbern' designation doesn't bode well.

    Character Inserts generally operate on a law of minimal narrative resistance -- and if you're an Einzbern homunculus in a seaside town during winter, the town you're in is probably Fuyuki, and the year is likely 1994 or 2004. Sometime within the next two weeks, your death is essentially guaranteed.

    "Fuck," you shout -- kicking impotently at the wildgrass. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!"

    This isn't a kidnapping. This is much, much worse.

    There's no escape -- because, even if you happen to survive your immediate ordeal, there's literally an entire world of sociopathic mad scientists waiting to get their mits on an Einzbern homunculus. Hightailing it out of the city is a possibility, but it probably won't do you any good. Your only recourse is ...

    ... the corrupted Grail?

    Brows furrowed, you remove the leather glove that conceals your left hand. Much as you anticipate, a crimson bruise marks the skin beneath -- restricted just to the back of the palm, unlike the Command Seals held by Ilya in the canon.

    By process of induction, the 'magic circle' in the mansion foyer is presumably a thaumaturgical array specifically purposed to the summoning of a Servant.

    "This is a terrible idea," you mutter, wiping your hands across your face.

    Maybe you aren't the Lesser Grail. Maybe there's an Ilya or Irisviel around to save you from that particular fate. If you get lucky with your Servant summoning, you could even win the War -- but making a wish on the corrupted Grail is a fool's errand.

    Is your purpose here to purify the wretched thing? Is this the function that you're to serve?

    "Stop it," you say -- taking a deep breath, and willing your pulse to slow. "Calm the fuck down, because it isn't helping."

    There has to be something else; something you can use ...

    You aren't a Servant, and your Alignment isn't explicitly indicated. It doesn't appear that you have any Noble Phantasms to call upon; but you do possess a number of 'Attributes' -- largely inaccessible, but apparently equivalent to a Servant's Class and Personal Skills. As to your physical features -- mentally converting the units, you note that though your height is entirely unchanged, you're now slightly heavier than you recall. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, given your new figure -- but it's unlikely to be of direct benefit to your survival.

    The majority of the Attributes listed in your Status can't be viewed at present -- blocked out by a distortion resembling the Photoshop filter that censored Lancelot's sheet in Fate / Zero. The Japanese names for some of them are visible, though -- but because your comprehension of Japanese is extremely rudimentary, this doesn't help you very much. (Why do your abilities even have names in Japanese, anyhow?) Likewise, focusing on the distorted text doesn't reveal unlocking conditions; and the Status Screen in general is disappointingly noninteractive.

    "Gabriella isn't too far from my actual name, at least," you mutter. "That's one thing they got right ..."

    The bits of the sheet that aren't obscured don't seem particularly promising, either.

    You're aware that along the metric for the Servant parameters, a Rank of E is something akin to ten times the human norm; and assuming that this same metric is applicable to you, a D in Endurance is at first glance astoundingly decent -- especially in conjunction with your D-Rank Gamer's Body knockoff.

    However, though aside from Luck, Endurance is your only standard parameter that could potentially cross into the domain of Servant-level performance, it affords you in truth merely a probability of survival in a random encounter -- and no means to fight off a Servant, if it comes to a direct engagement.

    You've been a Nasu fan for years, and you've written a number of fics -- but outside of Lancer memes, you've never been able to determine the precise function of the Luck parameter. Even at a Rank of EX, though, Francis Drake managed to get herself killed -- and so, your own ranking could perhaps be written off as useless?

    The QLT and QNT in the second parameters column are similarly a mystery -- but presuming that they refer to Circuit Quality and Quantity, a Quality of F and Quantity of EX would effectively yield a whole lot of nothing.

    "A Rank of A in Alchemy's gotta be worth something, though ..."

    Alchemy is never deeply explored within the canon -- but by the explanation on your sheet, it would essentially be the skillset of Emiya Shirou absent the capacity to Trace.

    Certainly, Tracing is of central necessity to Shirou's performance in the canon -- but you aren't Emiya Shirou; and there's nothing to be gained in precisely mimicking his character build. So long as you maintain your distance from active combat, Structural Analysis, Reinforcement, and Alteration should be sufficient to keep you alive.

    Given, however, that at the moment, you haven't the conscious ability to perform any of those three skills, you'll likely need to experiment -- and the sooner the better.

    Pulling on your glove, you turn, glaring into the relative darkness of the mansion.

    Really, things would be a lot simpler if Zelretch or whoever's responsible would just come out and explain their intentions. The silent Fal'cie business from Final Fantasy XIII wasn't endearing at all.

    "Let's get to it, then," you say. "But first things first ..."


    Your journey begins in the dead of night. All is not as it seems.
    What is your course?

    [ ] Immediately summon a Servant.
      [ ] Utilize the name of the Hashashin as a catalyst.
    [ ] Take further stock of your environs, and scout out the city.
      [ ] Prioritize the acquirement of a catalyst.
      [ ] Announce your participation in the War to Kotomine.
    [ ] Establish a basic grasp of your abilities; experiment with Alchemy.
    [ ] Write-In.​

    Note that sub-choices are optional, and may be selected in multiple unless explicitly stated to be mutually exclusive.


    • Attire: Default
    • Skeleton Key
    • Unknown Pocket Contents
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017 at 2:47 AM
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  3. Biigoh

    Biigoh What is this? Moderator

    Feb 19, 2013
    Likes Received:
    [X] Immediately summon a Servant.
  4. Unilateral

    Unilateral Getting out there.

    Feb 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    [X] Take further stock of your environs, and scout out the city.
    [X] Prioritize the acquirement of a catalyst, preferably one related to a Japanese hero.

    I have some servants I'm thinking of, but I'd prefer we vote on that later, once we have a better understanding of the situation and surroundings. We should definitely summon a Japanese servant, though. We'll have the home field advantage if we do, due to the stat, skill, and NP rank bonus from our servant being well-known locally. Plus, their catalysts will be easier to find in Japan.

    PSA: Fuyuki city is canonically located in Kumamoto Prefecture, but is based off of the real-life city of Kobe, which is not. The more local and/or well-known the hero, the bigger the rank bonus.
  5. Threadmarks: 00:02 // Blue After Blue

    fallacies Getting out there.

    Feb 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    00:02 - 24 Jan 2004 - 14:20
    Blue After Blue


    The German passport and driver's license, and the International Driving Permit that you find in your inner coat pocket were all within the past year issued to one Gabriella von Einzbern; and laminated with the same unflattering photograph of your face, staring impatiently into the camera with a frown.

    Your age, apparently, is twenty-four -- consistent to your recollections; but your supposed date of birth has been pushed back to 1980; and your permanent residence has been relocated to a town you've never heard of, somewhere in the Landkreis of Ostallgäu in Bavaria, Germany.

    According to the two latter documents, you have license to operate motor vehicles of the categories A and B -- which cover smaller motorcycles and scooters; and standard four-to-eight passenger automobiles respectively. Being that the coverage matches your permit back home, and the rental services in Fuyuki do in fact offer motor-scooters, you've elected to rent out a silver Vespa PX-200-E. Payment was handled by the use of one of the two cards in the otherwise empty wallet that accompanied your photo-ID -- an American Express Centurion Card, in slate black.

    You've heard rumors regarding the Black Cards before -- of the absence of an effective credit limit; and the twenty-four hour availability of a dedicated concierge. Your income bracket being what it was, it was until today unimaginable that you'd ever hold one in your own hands -- and so, you've resolved for the time being (however long that happens to be) only to use it for small transactions.

    Quite simply, it's too good to be true -- and the fact that your purchases have in the past few hours gone through without a hitch comes with implications.

    You haven't simply generated into this world.

    Either you've taken possession of the homunculus known as Gabriella von Einzbern; or the party responsible has sufficiently mucked about the machinery of society so as to legitimize the fiction of your history. What was it that Robert Ludlum called it? A Legend? Like a femme fatale from some Cold War spy thriller, you've come to inhabit a name, a face, and a past; a Legend fabricated on your behalf.

    Whatever the case, the Einzberns are presumably aware of your existence, and paying for your lunch. Best not to overspend, lest killer maids are dispatched to chastise you on your spending habits.

    Kotomine Kirei doesn't strike you as the tech-savvy sort -- but it also wouldn't be out-of-character for him to be on a lookout for large purchases made within the city of Fuyuki. Drawing his attention may not be wise.

    "If you're done with that, Miss, I can take it for you," says a waitress, indicating the empty dish before you.

    "Thank you," you reply, nodding.

    This is the other thing that you've noticed: The waitress was definitely speaking to you in Japanese -- but her words register within your consciousness as English, as if dubbed over in real-time.

    Or rather, 'dubbing' isn't a very accurate description of the phenomenon, as your ears do in fact pick up on her enunciation word-for-word, phrase-for-phrase. It's merely that your mind is auto-converting the sounds to your comprehension; and when you respond, the waitress is likewise made to gloss over the absence of sync between the English that you're speaking and the lip movements that would logically correspond to the Japanese she's apparently hearing.

    "Would you like to order anything else?" she asks.

    "I would, yes," you reply. "Could I have a look at the English menu, please?"

    "The English menu?" she asks. "But your Japanese is ..."

    Her smile is professional, but it doesn't mask her confusion; there's been a shift change since you were seated, and she isn't the waitress that took your order an hour earlier.

    "I'm still learning," you elaborate, nodding to the bilingual kanji dictionary and the notebook of your jottings on the table. "I can speak the language just fine, but I can't read it."

    Like a Translation Charm from a crappy Harry Potter fanfic, this Attribute of yours isn't at all applicable to the written word. A newly uncensored section of your Status Screen confirms this -- though the text itself was rendered visible only after the restriction came to light.

    From this, it appears that your presently concealed Attributes might already be functional; though, revealing their names and descriptions would likely require a bit of experimentation on your part -- presuming that they haven't been assigned to a predetermined event-unlock.

    "Ah, I see," says the waitress -- though she quite evidently doesn't. "I'll return with your menu in a bit, then."

    Left alone to nurse your mug of chocolate, you turn your attention to your notes.

      じゅそき(jyuso-ki)= 呪詛機? = curse device?
      願望機 = がんぼうき(ganbou-ki)= wish device?

    Working this out hasn't revealed the English name of the Attribute -- though, you suspect that the kanji on the bottom is simply a reference to the Einzbern specialization in Wishcraft.

    It's beyond you as to how you'd even go about making use of the associated ability, though; and the bit about Curses is likewise a mystery. You do recall reading that Angra Mainyu was capable of contaminating the Grail owing the inherent relationship between wishes and curses -- but this might be some misremembered factoid that you've unconsciously pulled from Madoka Magica.

    If you aren't careful, Urobuchi Gen is literally going to get you killed.

      ちくしょうどう(chikushoudou)= 畜生道? = animal path? path of the beasts?
      ターミナス(taaminasu)= terminus
      常世 = とこよ(tokoyo)= eternal world
      触官 = しょうっかん(shoukkan)= apparently, abbrev. for 触覚器官, or "tactile organ"

    The second Attribute is more difficult.

    Outside the context of Naruto, the Animal Path is apparently something from Buddhist cosmology. Your dictionary only gives that it's one of the six paths of reincarnation, wherein those souls weighted down by karma might be reborn as animals. Tokoyo, which you remember being referenced in Touhou, is by contrast the Eternal World of Shinto mythology -- either the undying lands that lie beyond mortality, or the world of the dead. Its opposite is Utsushiyo -- the manifest, imperfect world inhabited by mortals.

    Does the use of "Animal Path" as the pronunciation for "Tokoyo" imply that they're one and the same? From a folkloric standpoint, it doesn't make a terrible amount of sense -- but you suppose that it could be a reference to the Reverse of the World, or to Gaia. Wasn't the Reverse of the World supposed to be under the dominion of Gaia anyhow?

    Terminus is merely Terminus. This is straightforward enough -- but it's being used as the pronunciation for "Tactile Organ"; and you seem to recall that both faeries and homunculi were at some referred to by Nasu as "terminals of the World." Does that imply that you're some sort of agent or Counter Guardian of Gaia? That's a bit hard to believe, unless you're now an authorized user of the Excalibur or something.

      呪層界 = じゅそうかい(jyusou-kai)= curse layer/stratum world/boundary?
      (probably cursed boundary layer?)
      そうせい(sousei)= 創世? 創生? = genesis? creation of life?
      えど(edo)= 江戸? 穢土? = Edo? impure earth?
      浄土 = じょうど(joudo)= pure land? pure earth?

    "Jyusou-Kai" is the only term here that entirely corresponds with its stated pronunciation. It's also a made-up word -- and you're about halfway certain that it's the kanji associated with Matou Sakura's "Cursed Boundary Layer." At her disposal, the Boundary was a fairly overpowered ability -- and so, you actually have no complaint regarding its appearance on your sheet. It might bear some relationship with the Einzbern wishcraft-cursecraft thing, though -- and as with that, you haven't a clue as to how it would work.

    The other part of the name appears to indicate the specific variant of the Cursed Boundary Layer that you'll manifest. Sousei -- used here as the pronunciation for Tokoyo; perhaps punning off their shared second kanji -- translates to either Genesis or the creation of life. Edo probably doesn't refer to the city of Tokyo -- as "Pure Earth" and "Impure Earth" are by virtue of forming a matched set the more likely interpretation. Whereas the former refers to the paradise reached upon the casting off of desire, the latter is the mortal realm, mired by earthly attachments.

    Taken as a whole, the name of the Attribute is "the Pure Earth of Tokoyo" -- but pronounced "the Impure Earth of Genesis." Orochimaru's zombie apocalypse jutsu was "Edo Tensei," you recall -- "Impure World Reincarnation"; or, more accurately, "the Reincarnation of the Impure Earth." Being in a Naruto crossover would suck terribly for you -- but if not that, the juxtaposition of unrelated mythological references otherwise forms a nonsense of utterly ambiguous meaning.

    Maybe a name is just a name? Hopefully?

    'Status,' you think.


    To your disappointment, it doesn't appear that anything's changed. Aren't isekai insertion protagonists supposed to gain points toward ability mastery merely by applying Observe to their skill menu?

    "Miss?" asks the waitress. "Sorry about the wait. I had to go looking for the menu."

    "Ah, thanks," you say -- dismissing your sheet with a thought.

    Taking the menu, you thumb to the desserts page. The restaurant has a wide selection of crepes -- but as you already had two of those earlier, you slide your finger down across the cake offerings, and stop upon a photograph of a particularly rich-looking Black Forest.

    "I'll have this," you say -- because your Gamer's Body knockoff restores you to a physical default, and there's no way you aren't abusing it to hell and back.

    "You sure?" asks the waitress. "It's a pretty large portion."

    "I can handle it," you reply, smiling easily. "I'm in a chocolatey sort of mood."

    A bit skeptically, she jots down your order and leaves you to you work. Her impression of you must already be terrible, even if you've only sparsely interacted with her. The dessert here is delicious, though -- and so, even if the floor staff thinks that you're insane, you'll probably be back.

    'Kinda wasting time, though,' you think, leaning back in your chair and looking up to the ceiling. 'It's fairly obvious by now that reading a dictionary isn't gonna get me anywhere with the Attributes.'

    This is true -- but given that you're full and rested and no longer panicking, your extended brunch hasn't entirely been a waste of time. You deserve a bit of relaxation after the morning that you've had; and in the six odd hours since your 'arrival,' you've made a bit of headway into establishing your circumstances.

    Closing your notebook, because you've had quite enough of kanji for the moment, you fish from your newly-purchased handbag a map that you obtained from the Fuyuki City Tourism Bureau -- unfolding and flattening the creases across the table.

    1. Buke Quarter - Emiya Residence
    2. Foreign Quarter - Tohsaka Residence
    3. Foreign Quarter - Matou Residence
    4. Homurahara Private Academy
    5. Miyama Crossing
    6. Miyama Downtown - Mount Miyama Shopping District
    7. Ryuudou Temple
    8. Mount Enzou
    9. Mion River - Fuyuki Bridge
    10. Mion River - Oceanside Park
    11. Shinto Financial District - Fuyuki Station-Front Park
    12. Shinto Financial District - Fuyuki Center Building
    13. Fuyuki Central Park
    14. Fuyuki Church - Foreigner's Cemetary
    15. Fuyuki Church - Chapel & Rectory
    16. Industrial Park - Dockyard
    17. Industrial Park - Factory District
    18. Miyama Suburb - Einzbern Forest
    19. Miyama Suburb - Abandoned Village
    20. Miyama Suburb - Einzbern Castle
    21. Shinto Municipality Limits - "Haunted Mansion"
    22. Foreign Quarter - "Clockwork Mansion"
    You're presently in the city of Kobe -- or rather, in the urban area that occupies Kobe's general location within the real world, southeast of Himeji, and northwest from the metropolitan area of Osaka. It took a bit of legwork, and some riding about on your Vespa, but you've established the overall lay of the land.

    The Tohsaka and Matou homes were the easiest for you to find -- and not entirely because their architecture is distinct. Your base of operations -- tentatively, "the Clockwork Mansion" -- is within the Foreign Quarter of the municipality of Miyama. The Tohsaka property is about seven minutes away by foot; and the Matou Residence is two streets away from that. Wary of bounded fields and potential observation, though, you've opted to approach neither for the time being.

    Mount Miyama is the shopping district closest to the Clockwork Mansion, and offers the majority of the goods and services that you'll require to get by in the subsequent two weeks. In case you require emergency access to a priest, the Koushuuensaikan Taizan is situated here as well -- though, the outward appearance of the place is sufficiently shady that you've elected to put off braving their mapo tofu for a better day.

    Initially, you had trouble locating the Emiya Residence -- but on finding that the Fujimura Group takes as the seat of their turf the largest and most distinct property in the historic Buke neighborhood, you're able to quickly isolate your quarry. Shirou's home, it turns out, is a refurbished Edo-period compound directly down the street from an intersection that leads toward the Homurahara Academy. Ergo, by the relative placement of their houses, Matou Sakura travels roughly two and a half miles every morning just to eat breakfast with Shirou -- and then about the same distance to get to school.

    She's a lot more athletic than you, in other words. Five miles isn't 'walking distance' for a normal teenager.

    Homurahara Private Academy is eastward and uphill from Mount Miyama -- again, not particularly difficult to find, as it's the largest of the three high schools within the municipality. Ryuudouji occupies the entirety of the mountainside southeast from the campus -- but as Caster might've already set up shop, you haven't bothered to investigate the temple grounds.

    A quick check of the English-language edition of Asahi Shinbun gives that Atoram Galliasta -- "Son of the Tiger," and heir to the Galliasta petroleum empire -- died about five days ago to a fire that broke out in his Fuyuki City penthouse, just south of downtown Miyama. Subsequently, the police discovered evidence on scene of his possible involvement in a human trafficking ring -- linking him to an ongoing investigation.

    You doubt that you'd be able to recover Medea's catalyst from within the mess -- assuming that she even made the mistake of leaving it behind. Still, it's good in this case that the Church and the Association haven't been entirely immaculate in their cover-up. Galliasta saw fit to make use of children as an energy source -- and even if it wasn't out of any sense of justice, the Masquerade had posthumously permitted him to burn.

    As with Ryuudouji, you've temporarily stayed your distance from the expanse of undeveloped forest just outside the southeastern city limits. Your standing with Illyasviel is uncertain at present -- and so, you judge that any confrontation with her can wait until you've properly gotten your bearings.

    Excluding the possibility of a random encounter with Gilgamesh, Kotomine and his church are a known quantity; and so, the final Master on your list of participants is Bazett.

    "Your Black Forest Challenger, miss," says the waitress, interrupting your train of thought. "Er, I'll just set it down across the table from you?"

    The portion of the cake is indeed a bit larger than you expected. Rather, it's about half the volume of a twenty-four inch cake, shaped as a single slice.

    "Ah -- no," you reply, quickly folding the map and stowing beside your handbag in the basket at the foot of your seat. "You can just put it in front of me. I was done with the map, anyhow."

    The waitress does as instructed -- and putting her slight frown out of your attention, you glue your eyes to the creamy layers of fudge between the breading.

    You're going to enjoy this, even if you go without dinner tonight.

    'Probably gonna be a busy evening, anyhow,' you think, cutting into the cake with a knife. 'Will I even have time to eat?'

    Drawing from your coat pocket a prepaid cellphone -- a mova P505iS -- you click into your album, browsing through the photos until you reach an image of a mansion. The front facade and the general layout are at a glance identical to that of the Clockwork Mansion -- but you located this building across the river in Shinto, on a Church-owned property not far from Kotomine's chapel.

    In Capsule Servants, it was dubbed as "the Haunted Mansion" -- but you know of it as one of the twin mansions of the 3rd War Edelfelt sisters, mentioned in Hollow Ataraxia. Bazett is likely to be here.

    The current date is 24 January 2004 -- one day after Lancer's canonical summoning. You vaguely recall that Kotomine betrayed Bazett immediately following the ritual -- but either she was able to escape; or the priest didn't care enough to ensure her demise. Subsequently, upon coming across her body, Angra Mainyu placed her in a stasis -- but the location and time-frame involved aren't clear to you. Given her injuries, it would make sense that Bazett couldn't have gotten far from the church -- and certainly, she wouldn't have been able to return to the rebuilt Fuyuki Hyatt, where she'd been staying.

    As Kotomine theoretically manages the property on which the Haunted Mansion stands, you can't be certain that he doesn't have Bazett under observation -- assuming that your guess regarding her location is correct. Even if Kotomine doesn't care enough to track her -- even if he isn't actually aware of her whereabouts -- Angra Mainyu could already be present. Unlike the majority of the other key locations in the city, it's uncertain that there's active bounded field on site -- but venturing within is most definitely a risk.

    The locations of many of the canonical catalysts of the 5th War are known to you -- but as with Bazett, they're potentially secured behind layers upon layers of defense. If you're going to be obtaining a Servant for yourself, it might be easier to look outside of Fuyuki -- and you do possess certain resources that would facilitate the effort, if need be.

    Alternatively, so long as you choose to enter the War as a participant, you'll eventually need to engage with the other factions -- and it's never too early to attempt diplomacy. If you're lucky, doing so as soon as possible could land you with both an alliance and a catalyst.

    'Is there a way to have my cake and eat it too?' you wonder -- savoring the taste of the chocolate within your mouth as you stare into the screen of your phone.


    The sword, the shield, or the stave?

      [ ] Attempt diplomacy, potentially to the end of securing a catalyst (choose only one):
        [ ] Approach Tohsaka Rin.
        [ ] Approach Emiya Shirou.
        [ ] Approach Matou Sakura.
        [ ] Approach Matou Shinji.
        [ ] Approach Matou Zouken.
        [ ] Approach Illyasviel von Einzbern.
        [ ] Approach Medea of Colchis.
        [ ] Approach Kotomine Kirei.
      [ ] Venture into the Haunted Mansion.
      [ ] Risking police attention, infiltrate the ruins of Galliasta's atelier.
      [ ] Return to the Clockwork Mansion, and maybe explore it in more depth.
        [ ] Establish a basic grasp of your abilities; experiment with Alchemy.
        [ ] Summon a Servant. (Mutually exclusive with experimentation into Alchemy.)
          [ ] Utilize the name of the Hashashin as a catalyst.
      [ ] Acquire a catalyst by other means. (Please specify.)
      [ ] Write-In.
    • Excepting a write-in, please choose only one of the primary choices.
    • If you intend to select a write-in scenario, please be sure to keep the contents sufficiently distinct from the established choices; and non-dependent on the established choices.
    • Note that roughly 32 hours remain until the summoning of Sasaki Kojirou.
    • The protagonist is presently at a cafe-restaurant situated in front of the Fuyuki Station-Front Park, not far from the Copenhagen Bar & Microbrewery. Until 1994, their signature Black Forest Challenger was offered entirely free of charge if consumed within 10 minutes.

    • Attire: Default
    • Clockwork Key
    • Mobile Phone
    • Handbag
    • Wallet
    • Bilingual Kanji Dictionary
    • Notebook & Stationery
    • Fuyuki City Map
    • Passport
    • Driver's License
    • International Driving Permit
    • Motor-Scooter
    • Debit Card
    • Black Card
    Akuma-Heika and Biigoh like this.
  6. Unilateral

    Unilateral Getting out there.

    Feb 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Wait, how far can we travel from the Grail before it picks another master? Can we travel to another country to grab a catalyst and summon, before either returning, or waiting for our opponents to come to us?
  7. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

    Nov 7, 2016
    Likes Received:
    While it has wishes in it, I do not remember Angra Mainyu being part of PMMM....

    Animal Path is also part of Taoist Cosmonology as well. It means about the same in both though (I believe Taoism generally ascribes to Five Realms [Paths] while Buddhism usually stick to the Six used in Naruto)

    Things are getting interesting.
  8. fallacies

    fallacies Getting out there.

    Feb 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Well, there's a summoning cutoff at Feb 2nd, which is more binding than geographical restrictions.
    Canonically, Berserker and Saber were summoned in Germany, which is literally on the other side of the planet -- but that might be because Einzbern Castle is hooked up to the Grail.
    So, the answer is tentatively "yes" -- you can go to other countries.

    Anyhow, voting takes place on SB, and the final tally for the current choice is in about 3 hours or so.
    Was referring to the wishes and curses thing.