I don't own any characters except my own OC. The other OCs appearing in this story are property of the following authors:
Deux Silences - Atosaki Kurokawa
Suchbass - Kage
Nomorenamesleft - Yagami Kousuke
Count Valerian - Kirsche Von Einzbern.
Topographic Ocean - Breno Da Roche
AzarielKayras - Leo Wells
I thank you for lending them to me. Now, to the story!
Chapter 2: Guardians
Two hours ago:
After hearing the words of the voice and realizing the fact he had to beat forty-one other Masters, Kiritsugu found himself in a luxurious room that reminded him of one of many in which he had lived along with his wife and daughter for the last ten years. He began to inspect the room; all his equipment was there, even his Contender. Normally he would have wondered how this could be possible, but right now he didn't care.
Inscribed on the floor of the room was a magic circle and at its edge was a relic the elders of the Einzberns had sought for many months: Avalon. He inspected the circle, making sure everything was in order, and proceeded to summon his Servant. Black light filled the room, and when it faded the figure he saw inside the circle was not what he expected. Before him stood a shadowy-armored swordsman with blond hair and a black visor covering his face. He wielded a dark sword decorated with red runes on the blade, so Kiritsugu concluded he was a Saber.
"Are you my Servant?"
The Servant just nodded.
He decided that asking anything else would be pointless so told him to take on spirit form. Kiritsugu then walked to the bed where his equipment lay, not bothering to put up his guard as he believed that if the Servant wanted to kill his Master, he would've already done it.
After placing his Contender within the inner pocket of his coat and taking his Calico M960 in hand, Kiritsugu decided to make his next move and check the place out. He exited the room and with each step saw how much it really resembled the Einzbern castle. He arrived at a living room and found that five of the other participants were already there.
"I understand we need to create a temporary alliance between the members of our group, but I think that magi of our level shouldn't associate with trash like them, Tohsaka." Kayneth said while looking at Waver and Kirei.
Kiritsugu knew that magi were stupid and prideful, but even he was surprised by the words coming from the heir of the Archibald family. While Kayneth discussed something with Tokiomi, Kirei and Waver, Kariya just sat in one of the chairs while observing Tokiomi alone.
"Kayneth-dono, I can't speak for the abilities of that boy," said Tokiomi while pointing at Waver, "but for three years Kirei-kun had been my apprentice, and I can say he'd make a very valuable asset to our cause."
Kirei bowed in front of Kayneth at these words, though he didn't like the blond man. Kayneth was obviously proud and arrogant, and he could tell he had little prior battle experience. Moreover, he deduced that the man before him saw only the value in magical powers of the present and not the rest of his abilities. In a real fight there were many factors to take into account, and the one considered strongest did not always win. Of course, Kirei would not say this to Kayneth.
"…I don't see anything special about him, Tohsaka." Kirei stood and took out his Black Keys. "Would you like a demonstration?"
"Oh? You think you can last even a second against me?" Kayneth answered, amused, removing a little glass vial from his pocket.
Tokiomi didn't bother to stop them, sure that if any of them were truly endangered their Servants would appear. He and Waver began backing away to give the priest and the magus some space. Before anything happened the sound of a gun going off was heard by all present.
They turned to see the Magus Killer with his Calico pointed at the roof. Kiritsugu had no real reason to stop them, but he did so due to a very basic instinct that some magi forgot in their illusions of invincibility: survival. There were forty-two pairs total, and though he wasn't fond of the idea, he something to fight for. If he was going to make his wish, he would need the others in that room. They were merely tools he'd utilize to fight until only his faction remained. Then and only then would they be free to fight amongst themselves. He would use them and then kill them, all to achieve his goal, all to save the world.
"Stop this nonsense!" he ordered.
"The magus killer," sneered Kayneth while glaring at him.
"Emiya Kiritsugu," said Kirei.
"Tokiomi is right," he replied. "We need to make an alliance until the other five factions are defeated."
"Wise words, Magus Killer. No wonder my lord believed you to be the leader of this group."
Those there swiveled around to see a man with long silver hair and eyes, wearing a butler's uniform.
"I am Aldebaran. I was selected by Gaia to supervise the Faction of Zero."
None dared say a word. They didn't sense anything special about the butler, but their instincts told them otherwise. A single wrong move could mean death. Still, Kayneth took his chances.
"Fervor Mio Sanguis!" he yelled as ten liters of mercury came forth from the vial in his gloved hand.
The mercury transformed into a spiked ball and locked onto the silver-headed man. However, before the Mystic Code could be used, Kayneth was smashed into the floor by what seemed like a strange force. He tried to use his magic, but it was useless. Waver understood almost immediately.
"The… power of … gravity?"
"Yes. I forgot to tell you I'm the third strongest Counter Guardian at Gaia's service." Aldebaran answered with a grin.
Even in the city's center, the clash of weapons could be heard from far away. Atosaki saw her Servant now engaging the white-haired spearman who, after firing off that red energy beam, decided to fight without using his weapon. Edward had ordered Saber to fight against the green-haired Servant while he continued to look at Gene with narrowed crimson eyes.
"How do you find her?" he asked at the magus.
Gene smile grew so wide that he looked like a madman. He raised his hand and a spiraling air vortex began to form.
"Tempête," he announced as it shot out.
At this Edward called forth his blade into his hand and concentrated flames on the edge. He swung it before the tornado could land.
The clash between fire and wind made the Lancers stop for a second and look at the Masters, Lance out of concern for Atosaki and Lancer of Red because he couldn't help but feel interested by the boy's flames. He felt something evil emanating from them, but the boy seemed able to maintain control. Seconds passed and Gáe Bolg smashed against the golden forearm of his armor.
On the roof a nearby house, Saber and Rider continued their fight.
"Your Master seems strong," Rider said as he swung his golden spear at Saber's exposed neck.
"Of course! Only someone like him is worthy of being my Master!" she answered as she parried the attack with her large sword.
Rider just smiled at her words while thrusting his weapon at her chest, only for Saber to stop the spearhead a few inches away. He recognized that the girl before him was strong and began to think that the air of superiority she exuded wasn't a bluff, unlike many people he had met in life.
"Please don't insult me, Rider!" Saber yelled.
"What do you mean?" he asked while pulling back his spear.
"Fight me seriously. If you don't, then it is not only an insult towards me but also my Praetor, and that is something I would never forgive," she said with a scowl.
The Rider laughed and held his spear at the ready.
"I apologize for that, then. Here I come!" he said as he dashed at her.
Emiya Shirou found himself lying on the floor after having been hit by some redheaded man. The mansion surrounding him somewhat resembled both the Tohsaka's and the Matou's. He started searching for Rin because he didn't know how to summon a Servant. To partake in this War he'd need one, and he couldn't let it be weak because of a bad summon. Upon locating his friends, he found that neither she nor Sakura had summoned theirs yet, so Rin agreed to help him. Thus, a ritual began and ended, and the moment he saw his Servant, he couldn't be happier as he was able to meet her once again.
"Tell me, are you—" Saber wasn't allowed to finish. Shirou hugged her and she allowed herself to smile at their reunion.
While Shirou explained to Saber the situation, Rin helped Sakura with her summon.
"Saber, would you be my sword once again?"
"Of course, Shirou. I swore I would be your blade and shield."
Shirou smiled at her words and told her to follow him, noticing it was night already. They needed to move fast to avoid innocents getting involved. He ran out of the room and toward the entrance of the house, assuming it would be built like Rin's. His assumption proved right, but near the entrance he came across a man with red hair wearing scarlet and gold full-body armor with the crest of a scorpion on his chest and its stinger crossing his left shoulder.
"Sorry, Emiya Shirou. I need to talk with you and the rest of your group," he spoke.
"I don't have time to listen to you!" he yelled as he traced the twin swords Kanshou and Bakuya.
"Then I can't let you pass," said the man as a red dagger appeared in the air and flew at Shirou's shoulder.
It happened so fast that Saber's Master hit the floor before she even had time to react.
"Shirou!" the female knight cried while looking at her wounded master, then moving at amazing speed to reach the armored man. She swung her invisible sword, but it didn't reach him. Two more daggers showed up over his head and blocked Excalibur's attack.
The knight looked at Saber with cold eyes before pushing her back with the daggers. "Calm down, Servant, I only defended against your Master's attack."
Saber didn't believe him and readied herself to strike again when she was stopped by a voice she recognized well.
"Don't do it, Saber. Neither you nor the idiot are a match for him."
She turned to see a red-cloaked Servant along with his Master standing behind them. "Archer."
Archer walked past her and stood before the man in armor.
"Long time no see, Hero-san," said the knight.
"Antares!" Archer seemed slightly taken aback. "What in the world could you be doing here?!"
"You should know never to yell at me, Hero-san."
"Archer, who is that guy?" Rin asked. "Is he a Servant?"
"He is, but at the same time he isn't."
"I am Antares, leader of the Counter Guardians. I was assigned by Gaia to supervise you, the Blue Faction."
"I see. Since this War has so many Masters, the World had some of her dogs watch over us magi so we don't cause too much trouble," Rin concluded as she helped Shirou stand.
"Rin don't talk like that. Antares is the strongest of the Counter Guardians. No one has been able to match him his whole life."
"How do you know that, Archer?"
"Because Hero-san is also a dog of Gaia, little miss," said Antares.
Rin looked at Archer with eyes wide open while he glared at the armored knight.
Edward was beginning to lose count of how many times his flames had clashed against Gene's cyclones. He could have used more power, but he was afraid of destroying the surrounding houses. Even though he hadn't seen a single person since being transported into the city, he felt a need to be careful. Normally he could control his flames to the point of using them without causing collateral damage, but because the enemy used wind magic his flame moved erratically with the air currents.
"Okay, enough of this!" declared Edward.
Gene smirked, assuming those words meant the boy before him was losing his composure. There was no greater fallacy of thought than that. Gene saw a towering spectral arm appear over Edward's head, holding a sword that looked like the one he'd been fighting the entire time.
"Now take this!" he yelled as he lowered it.
Gene attempted to stop it with his tornados, but to no avail. The gigantic sword sliced cleanly through them. He barely managed to move fast enough to dodge the blade, still thrown off by the pressure of the slash.
Lancer of Red watched this while dodging another thrust from Lance mid-air. He landed and took a good look at him.
"I admit that you are strong, but it seems my Master needs my help, so I guess I need to finish this."
In that moment Lancer disappeared and Lance's head snapped back with a kick to the chin before being thrown skyward. He looked down and saw the white-haired Servant beneath him.
"Dammit," he would say if he had the ability to speak.
The spearman was sent hurtling through the atmosphere, and when he finally lost some momentum the other Lancer was in front of him with spear at the ready. From the ground Atosaki wasn't able to see the blade of the golden spear for it was black as night, but Lance could and readied his weapon to block Karna's incoming attack.
He swung at Lance with both hands. The moment both spears collided he felt a strange resistance, as if there was a barrier in between them, still it was enough to throw Lance down into the streets.
"Lance!" Atosaki screamed, pained by seeing this.
"Atosaki-san, go after him," said Edward. "I'll cover you."
Another crash sounded nearby.
"Saber!" It was his turn to worry.
"Hey, you told me to fight seriously," Rider said. "Is that all you got?"
"Bastard! It was just a lucky shot." Saber yelled while rising from the crater she'd made.
"Saber, calm down!"
Edward made the mistake of taking his eyes away from the blue magus who had been lying on the ground.
Gene used the opportunity to create a tornado around his legs, giving him the thrust of a high-powered rocket. In less than a second he was in between Edward and Atosaki. Before the latter could react, he launched a kick at her face.
She managed to throw one arm up and mumbled a spell while drawing with her free hand's forefinger the letter "M", the word "Ehwaz" spoken before his foot made impact. There was enough force in the strike to send her crashing through the upper window of a two-level house across the street.
"You bastard!" Edward yelled as he grabbed the man with his ethereal hand. "Be purged by fire… Crimson Gauntlet!"
He heard how loud the man howled when he was engulfed by the flames, careful enough that he wouldn't kill him by accident. He released Gene when he lost consciousness. The shock and pain of being burned alive had him knocked out cold. The worst he had were first degree burns covering his body, along with some grade II burns around his arms.
"Atosaki-san, you alright?!" Edward shouted.
"Y-yes… It sounds bad out there," said her voice from past the rubble. "Just give me a second…"
He sighed in relief, but before he could move he whipped around with his sword in order to block Rider's spear.
"Well, I guess you are stronger than Saber."
Edward could feel the ground under him cracking due to the weight of the blow. It was only a matter of time before his blade faltered and the spearhead impaled him.
"Black…" He didn't finish. Rider's knee connected with his cheekbone, sending him reeling back to the wall of a house. He saw Saber land in front of him with a face full of rage.
"Rider! No one threatens my Praetor."
Meanwhile, Atosaki rose unsteadily and inspected the room where she'd been thrown. It had painted blue walls with white carpeting, a matching closet and a queen-size bed. She moved closer and what she saw left her speechless. There were two people, a young man and woman, sleeping soundly on the mattress, but it was no regular slumber. After all that noise and destruction they should have woken up. However, they remained asleep. Wrong… They had been forced to sleep. She tried to understand how this happened and then realized that carelessness could mean death for these people. She stumbled over to the broken window.
"Edward-san!" she called from above.
The crimson-eyed boy created a small red claw and used it as a hook to climb up while Saber continued the fight in his stead.
"What's wrong? The Master is down, but neither your Servant nor mine can win against those two."
He saw what she had found, and his rage suddenly became palpable.
"Then this was the feeling I had," he said as he clenched his fists.
"Who did this?"
"Most likely Gaia."
He didn't want to answer, feeling only repulsion at the idea.
"So we could fight without distraction. To make us believe that the city was empty."
He grabbed her by the waist and jumped out of the house, ready to make an escape to minimize collateral damage.
"Saber, we are leaving!"
The red swordswoman nodded, but the moment she did, Rider raced past her and aimed his spear at the two Masters. While holding Atosaki, Edward couldn't fully fight, so he needed to at least block the initial attack.
"Tessu no kabe, sōgyō no tō, shakutetsu keikei, tanzen toshite tsuini oto nashi."
He heard someone reciting what he thought was a spell and decided to gamble on it. He summoned his spectral hand and used it to stop the spear for a couple seconds, and that was enough.
"Gochūtekkan!" a voice yelled.
Five pillars of steel fell from the sky and dropped around Rider like a cage.
Lancer of Red was distracted watching this, and that gave Lance an opening. He charged him and aimed his spear tip at the opposing Lancer's left eye. Still, Lancer managed to dodge him but acquired a small gash on the right side of his face.
That wasn't all. While trying to get around Lance, he failed to notice Saber who swung her blade at his left side. Lancer was sent flying toward the entrance of a house. He got up almost instantly and saw the red swordswoman and the blue spearman pointing their weapons at him. He looked at where his Master lay and decided that this was enough for the night. He moved faster than the eye could see, grabbing his Master before fleeing the scene. Neither of the Servants had enough energy to follow him.
Atosaki looked on from overhead, amazed, at the steel pillars restraining Rider.
"Did you do that?" Atosaki asked Edward.
"No, he did it," he said with a smile while pointing at a young man dressed in a long-sleeved black shirt, a blue vest and denims, gripping a Japanese katana with his left hand. Behind him was a girl whose pink hair was styled in short twin tails. She had a pair of fox ears and a fluffy tail and wore a blue, traditional ero-kimono and matching geta, plus a necklace with a mirror for a pendant to finish it all off.
Edward reached the ground and let Atosaki go.
"Hey there," he said to the newcomer.
"Hello. I guess you don't know me. I'm Yagami Kousuke, and this is Caster," he said, pointing at the girl behind him.
"I'm Edward, Edward Hellhound, and she's Atosaki Kurokawa. I'm the Master of Saber and her Servant is a Lancer."
"Thank you for your help, Kousuke-san," said Atosaki with a courteous smile.
"You're very welcome."
"So how long can this keep him at bay?" Edward asked.
"Well, Caster is helping me reinforce the bakudo, but I don't think it will last long since it's not made to hold Servants."
"I was afraid you would say that. Atosaki, go take care of Lancer." He then turned to Kousuke. "Kousuke, Caster, can either of you create a barrier so our attacks don't destroy any of the houses?"
Kousuke looked at him with a puzzled expression.
"Caster can, but why? I thought the city was empty."
Edward told him he was wrong and reported what Atosaki had discovered. To say Kousuke was shocked would be an understatement, but before he could answer the five pillars shattered, and in front of them stood a raging Rider. Kousuke drew his sword as the other Servants got ready to fight. The Rider just grinned in anticipation, thinking this would be fun.
"Alright play time is over, weaklings, now I'm gonna be serious!"
Saber and Lance moved to their Masters so they wouldn't get harmed. There were two reasons Rider didn't retreat like Lancer: first because he was a man who enjoyed fighting and the other was that he didn't feel he'd lose. He took a step forward. All three Servants were ready and on guard. They could feel he was no normal Rider, rather, some sort of beast. Even after fighting Saber so long he didn't have a single wound and seemed not at all tired. He was about to charge when he felt something that forced him back.
"A Command Spell?" His anger mounted, but he couldn't resist. "You are all lucky my Master is a coward!"
With that said, the green-haired Servant disappeared. Edward sighed and took a seat on the blacktop. He looked at Atosaki and Lance, and then he observed Saber. All of them looked tired.
"Atosaki-san, how are you doing? Sorry I asked a little late."
"Don't worry about before. I protected myself with the Ehwaz rune. My healing took care of the rest."
"Ehwaz rune?" asked both Edward and Kousuke.
"Uh-huh, it reinforces objects. In this case, I used it on my dress so I could handle the kick and the impact. Lance taught me how to use it. Right, Lance?" His Master smiled as he put an arm around her small shoulders.
"Goshujin-sama," said Caster to Kousuke after a moment, "we need to get going."
"Eh? Wait, alone? We should stick together," Atosaki said.
"I know… but I feel another presence coming here."
"Calm down, it's an ally; and she has already arrived."
They all heard a rumble of thunder and turned up their faces as a man wearing silver and black armor with blond hair, a pair of brown leather gloves and a hammer in his right hand.
Mere moments afterwards and a woman from their earlier gathering literally walked out of his shadow. Edward and Atosaki had made Saber and Lance turn into spirit form so they rest for a while the only servant who remained materialized was Caster.
The three masters looked at the woman expectantly.
"Greetings, I am Kirsche von Einzbern." She said with a small but formal bow that might be expected from a noblewoman.
"You were with us in that white room." Kousuke pointed out.
"Yes I was brought there by the old man." She said coolly. "Well it's not like I've anything better to do anyway and this should prove interesting at the least."
"Excuse me, I'm wondering, how did you find us?" Atosaki asked.
"With this," Edward answered for her as he made a few small orange globes appear around him.
"Fire Familiars! I haven't seen them in a long time," said Caster.
"I call them Ghost Fire. Before we were transported from that room, I put one near all of us, just in case."
"Yes," said Kousuke. "It helped me find you two."
"And I really appreciate the help." Edward smiled at him then turned to Kirsche "Did you enjoy the show?"
"I do not know what you are talking about," she said, addressing him with a suspicious smile. "I just got here guided by your little familiar, Hellhound."
"Yeah, right. You know I can feel them wherever they are, right?"
He just sighed and stood up.
"So what's the plan?" Atosaki asked.
"We could create an alliance between us for now," Kousuke said while putting his sword back in its sheath.
"That's not a bad plan," commented Kirsche.
"Or we could get some answers," Edward said.
"What do you mean?" asked the other young man.
"I said I put my Ghost Fire on everyone that was present in that room. That includes the old guy, and I can still feel the one near him."
The other three looked at him, very surprised.
"So? Shall we go?"
Two of the others nodded immediately, but Kirsche was silent. "If Gaea is behind this getting answers might prove difficult." She pointed out. "If Counter-Guardians try to stop us, then I want all of you to get back."
The others immediately raised eyebrows and Caster asked "Are you suggesting that you can fight a Counter-Guardian?"
Kirsche just smiled. "Magi bend the rules of the world to make miracles happen. Counter-Guardians enforce those rules…but me…depending on what I want the world just gets out of the way. It's a last resort of course, but still…"
"In that case if Counter-Guardians stand against us we'll leave them to you." Caster said, and Kirsche nodded.
"That would be wise." She agreed.
Standing within the nave of a church was a white-haired priest. Seated behind him were four people to whom he paid little attention, since he had everything he needed. He looked at the four Command Seals beside his own.
A voice made him turn around. "Rider won't be happy that you messed with his fun."
"He will understand, I hope. I am also very intrigued by how much help you have given me."
He looked at the woman who had stolen him from his thoughts. She was a pale-skinned blonde wearing a flowing white dress.
"I simply want to make sure my faction wins. On top of that, I want this War to be interesting."
"I understand, Supervisor of the Red Faction, Counter Guardian Pleiades," Kotomine Shirou said with a smirk.