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Student, RPer, videogame and anime fan, movie guy. Also memist, but that's par the course. In other words, your garden-variety nerd. Not much else to say, really.

Yeah, I'm a rather bogstandard individual, sue me.

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The familiars moved through the city, feathers black as night, carefully observing the earth below.

They had spread out, they had been quiet and they had not drawn attention, as they had been commanded — the perfect servants for their lady. Maybe if they did well, she would give them names.

However, a group had different orders.

‘Bring me materials’.

That would be done, too. Whatever she requested, they would accomplish.

So it was that, in separate instances throughout Fuyuki, perhaps one would stumble upon an odd scene of dogs looking at a crow, and then carefully, slowly, they would start moving in a new direction.

Nothing notable. Not even a pattern, properly speaking — but they would all end up gathering in a certain spot, near a certain place.

But not just dogs. Snakes, as well, crawling on their bellies slowly along the riverbank under the cover of the night, hidden by the grass. Slowly, so very slowly, the animals marched.

However, more than anything, they were still spies, to an extent.

And so, while some crows concerned themselves with the gathering of resources, the others continued to observe and send whatever information they deemed useful.

In particular. . .

Anastasia Alexandrovna Voronin

Foreigner’s Graveyard, Shinto


“Well, that should be it,” She smiled, wiping sweat off her forehead that wasn’t really there as yet another zombie arose. The materials for the other project should be here soon, as well, and that would help tremendously. Ah, she could not wait to get her hands on—

Oh.

Oh.

Tonight was just full of surprises, wasn’t it? She almost could not believe the information that reached her through the karmic link — all at once, she wanted to laugh at the absurdity, cry over the waste and curse the stupidity.

But she could deal with that later. Right now? Right now it seemed that the heavens had smiled upon her once more and gifted her with yet another opportunity.

So thinking, she sent out a few commands to her puppets while she approached the Servant she had summoned—

—No, that title was not befitting any longer. As of now, she was. . .

“Teacher, sorry to disturb you,” She muttered, grasping her necklace as if nervous. “But my cute little familiars have sent me information pertaining the competition.”

She paused.

”A team has left the fallen leyline located at the church on the hill, seemingly nearly defenseless. So I feel we just can’t ignore such invitation.”


Necromancers were opportunistic by nature, but this defied even her wildest expectations. But hey, who was she to look a gift horse in the mouth? Besides, sending some of her puppets would not hurt — and perhaps they’d even get something useful out of it.




Z-Team Alpha

En-route —> Church, Shinto


They walked through the empty streets, taking quick and purposeful steps. To anyone else giving them a cursory glance, they would not have looked out of place at all, outside of the hours they had chosen to venture outside. However, to a more careful observer. . .

Their skin was flush and healthy. They did not stumble, they did not groan, they did not do anything that would bely their nature as ‘something that was not human’.

But there was no mistaking those vacant eyes that seemed to stare at infinity, there was no mistaking that lack of something that was crucial to true life.

Still, that did not matter. They had their instructions, and like the good flesh machines they were, they would follow them regardless of what happened to those bodies.

The group made their way through the streets with the sole objective of reaching that church and that graveyard to steal more materials so that their mistress would have what she requested and to investigate the situation further. Slowly, they made their way uphill and stepped forward to face any traps or opposition.

For her sake, they would ‘die’ again.

@Red Alice @EnterTheHero @Floodtalon

’Lancer Prime’

Front Yard, Matou Manor


“Well, failures in general are just part and parcel of being alive, Master. Nobody’s perfect,” He chuckled, accompanying her after shooting the other Lancer a final, curious glance. “That said, I would not consider them ‘failures’ to begin with.”

That much was true. He might have teased her about how the actions did not fit with what her ‘ideal of a soldier’ was like, but they weren’t failures as far as he was concerned. Just a little girl showing a bit of fire.

. . .He better avoid the first half of the statement if he ever said it aloud, he thought as he carried the girl’s piano to the place she instructed.

“Eh, don’t worry about it,” His smirk had regained the cocky undertone. “I can assure you, Master, that my failure should be the last thing in your mind.”

Was it confidence, arrogance, or merely a lack of awareness regarding the situation that gave Lancer Prime the will to make such statements? In a war such as this—

—Where heroes fought each other for supremacy.

—Where what should be a ‘destined outcome’ could be overturned as a matter of course.

—Where even the brightest stars could find a match or a better.

Yes, in a war such as this, the sort of attitude that prompted one to say ‘failure is not a concern’ could be either of those three options, and only time would tell if glory or ruin awaited at the end of the road.

. . .But, if nothing else, the Servant seemed entirely self-assured, and once Benita gave the command, his eyes lit up once more.

“Alright!” He cheered, twirling his spear and following his Master to whatever battlefield that awaited them. “Just watch, Master — I’ll show you the strength of the man you’ve contracted with.”

And so, they departed, Lancer Prime ready to let his spear pierce the chests of heroes in splendid battle like the days of yore. Ready to—

Outside the Bounded Field, Einzbern Forest


—Be an errand boy?

As they made their way toward the forest and Benita explained the situation and instructions to him, his façade. . .remained the same, almost as if he really did not mind — a far cry from the previously stated desires to ‘show her his strength’ and ‘fight the other heroes of this war’, both of which he seemed to be rather eager to accomplish.

Furthermore, one would think that someone with his disposition would not find ‘courier work’ to be interesting, or even acceptable. However, Lancer Prime maintained his good cheer.

After all, she hadn’t explicitly told him ‘do nothing else’.

After all, he could do some scouting on the side.

After all, he was about to venture into enemy territory.

After all, if he met said enemy. . .well, there were just a thousand ways it would go, no?

“Yeah, sure, I’ll get it for you, Master. . .” A smirk once again made its way to his face. “Just to make sure, though, if someone's in the way, you don't mind if I kick their ass, right?”

Lacking the decency to even wait for her confirmation, Lancer Prime broke into a run, leaving behind only a sound akin to the crack of thunder and a trail of shattered ground.

Moving straight through the forest, he deftly avoided the trees and ignored the rough terrain as though it was not even an inconvenience, shooting forward like a bullet and attaining speed even the greatest among humans would find—

. . .No, that was wrong.

To begin with, Lancers were supposedly lauded for their speed in the first place — it was the hallmark of their class. To say that ‘his speed far surpassed that of humans’ would only be par for the course, and although Lancer Prime boasted of even higher specs, they were not ‘something no other Servant could attain’. Or rather, they shouldn’t have been.

But if anyone were to watch him now, one would have to wonder if even among the renowned heroes of ages past there would be a single one that could hope to match that sprint.

Reaching near the edge of the supposed crash site, he leapt to a tree branch and stopped almost as suddenly as he had started, surveying the area before him and whistling.

“Whoever that was, they sure didn’t hold back.”

Indeed, the craters proved as much, the landscape of the forest blown away around them as though a god had taken offense. His eyes narrowed as he jumped from branch to branch, approaching with more care than he had just a few moments prior and looking down to discern any sort of interesting—

. . .Ah, wait. To begin with, it appeared that he was not alone. Someone had beat him to the place, a Servant in fine armor and carrying a sword — Saber, then? He certainly looked the part of the knight.

Was this another curious party or the Servant of the owners of this place? Regardless, it would not do to try and skulk in the shadows — so he cheerfully announced his presence with a laugh, pleased.

“Well, I would be lying if I said I was fully expecting to meet anyone here, but my luck seems to be great tonight,” Spear slung across his shoulders, he looked at the man before him. “I take it you’re curious about that lightshow from earlier, too? We could compare notes if you like.”

But then, he paused — his smile became sharper, his eyes narrowed, and he brought his spear to bear, pointing it straight at his quarry from across the clearing.

“Or, if you want, we can just skip the pleasantries and start killing each other right now. I’m fine with either.”

@phonic @Cu Chulainn @Crusader Lord

Hero of the Rushed Life

Front Yard, Matou Manor


“Is that so?” Lancer shot another winning smile at his Master — no doubt, he could have gotten a girl to blush with only a passing glance but there was no mistaking the amused nature of it if one looked at him for more than a single second. “I don’t know, Master, you’ve looked pretty human to me so far, especially back when we first met. Was that behavior proper for what you think a soldier to be?”

Perhaps the words leaving his mouth surprised him, as well. Had he not resolved to be careful so as to avoid issues? If so, why was he pushing it?

. . .Because to him, understanding that sort of belief was impossible. Because he was someone that lived for himself and those he loved alone.

Because watching someone limit themselves like that was just sad. And so, he spouted the first thing to come to mind, even if he would suffer for it later, because his heart was on his sleeve and his mouth ran faster than his feet sometimes.

Make that a lot of times.

But that was perfectly fine. Perhaps some would mourn his lack of tact, but he would just shrug and move on — no sense crying over spilled milk.

That was just the sort of moron Lancer was — but at least he was an idiot who understood his own idiocy.

So now that he had said it, no sense in trying to back out.

“In fact, I am pretty sure yelling and trying to headbutt someone like that is definitely not what you think a soldier would have done. Try to show some fire like that more often, Master — and laugh a bit. Being a soldier is no excuse for being so grim — I’d say it’s bad for you. Judging by your smile just now, if we give it a few more years, the moment you try to change your expression, your face will break.”

Ah, but there was another thing to attend to. His head turned to regard the magus that opened the door and greeted them in welcome — and again, he flashed a smile and followed his Master in, spear slung across his shoulders, listening with half a mind while looking around.

To greet them so readily considering the circumstances — even if they should be allies — was either a mark of stupidity or confidence in herself and her own Servant. Perhaps there was the possibility of genuine trust, but he hardly expected that from magi, so he discarded the idea as soon as it came to mind.

His demeanor when the other Servant appeared did not change much — his easy expression did not change even though his muscles tensed imperceptibly, ready to answer to an attack that may or may not come as though it were second nature, but otherwise he showed no hostility and met her gaze evenly. It would not do to answer hospitality like that.

However, something the Matou Master said did catch his attention.

More than seven Servants? He could not help it — he laughed, the feeling of excitement carried by it made almost palpable and, for a second, he lost himself to his fantasies.

“What good news, Master!” His grin showed far too many teeth and he looked more akin to a predator. His grip on the spear had tightened. “This’ll be a battle to remember, I’m sure.”

Lancer was not a patient man, and that characteristic had risen to light with the news — it was obvious that he would much rather be hunting other Servants and vying for battles than standing around while his Master formalized the details of this little pact, but he supposed he would have to bear with it until later tonight.

Still, it was enough to make him feel giddy. His mood improved significantly, prior concern washed away, and his smile became more genuine.

“That said,” His eyes showed amusement as he looked at the girl. “Why so convinced that I might be a Lancer too, miss? You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover so easily. Maybe this is just a sword with a really long handle and a very short blade.”

It was certainly true that appearances pointed toward such, but appearances were just that, and heroes defied common sense often enough, even if his example had been particularly egregious.

Still, he was not wrong — Lancer was a famous hero with claims to various classes and a baffling (over)abundance of Noble Phantasms for a single man to wield. Though he would lack his armor, he could have very easily appeared as a Rider to rampage across the battlefield with his treasured chariot and he would still possess his spear and plenty of other things besides.

However, they were allies, at least for now, and they had revealed their own class.

“However, you were right this time.” He rubbed his chin with one hand as he seemed to think something over. “Hm, yeah just saying ‘Lancer’ might get confusing. . .oh, I got it.”

His eyes lit up in much the same way a kid’s would after finding a solution to a particularly difficult problem and his smile widened.

“You can just call me Lancer Prime. It has a nice ring to it.”

@phonic @ManyThings





Anastasia Alexandrovna Voronin

Foreigner’s Graveyard, Shinto


Ah.

In a way, she supposed this should not be surprising, but it couldn’t be helped — the figure of her Servant appeared before her and, if nothing else, she was suitably awed to begin with — beings such as these, they all had an inherent radiance to them, and this one was no different, regardless of how much they covered themselves.

Regarding their abilities, though. . .from what she could see about them, manifested in her vision as they were, she seemed to be. . .

"It's shoddy. But, it'll do for now."


That sentence confirmed her guess, and suddenly, she felt much like a lamb standing before a wolf. Introduction in that regard would be unnecessary.

A Caster. Of all the potential classes, she had not given much thought to what would have happened if the one to turn up was that one. In a way, it was only her fault that she was at a loss — the decision to compete in this backwater ritual had been motivated entirely for the desire to gather materials, and she had chosen to summon a hero that would be ‘compatible’ rather than procuring a catalyst to call a specific one.

Basically, she had left everything up to a coin toss, and only time would tell if the coin had doomed her or not by this point. The silver lining was that they did not seem about to attack — fat lot of good those Command Mantra would do at this distance, regardless of how wondrous they were. Even further. . .was that a touch of interest in her Servant’s voice or had she imagined it?

‘I won’t ignore such cute efforts’.

If it had come from anyone else, perhaps she’d have been insulted, but considering the situation. . .it was praise enough for her. The fact that her Servant had praised her ‘potential’ was a good sign. But what. . .

"However, why don't we drop that little pretense? I would prefer our relationship to be of a 'Master' and 'Apprentice'."


Oh.

Oh.

Her mind almost screeched to a halt as she regarded the offered hand with something akin to wonder. She had certainly not expected this.

Was she being too trusting? Was this a trap?

. . .No. Her prior assessment still held. If Caster wished to break away from her or kill her, this pretense would not be needed, so this offer seemed to be the real deal. Her head felt faint, and she chuckled.

“Well, I could, yes, but that would hardly be proper considering your kindness, Caster. . .though I suppose I should call you ‘Teacher’.”

And with that, it was sealed.

“My name is Anastasia. I’ll be in your care.”


She inclined her head and took the Servant’s hand, uncaring about whether or not she had made a deal with the devil. This sort of opportunity, this kind of gift, was one she could not afford to let slip away.

“May I ask what the name of the Heroic Spirit I have summoned is?” Genuine curiosity filled her tone. “As you can see, I used no catalyst, so I’m in the dark regarding your abilities beyond your class.”

A frown overtook her features, but it was not directed at Caster. Rather. .

“Still, I wish I could have known to try and summon you earlier — I don’t doubt you could have done a better job in an hour than I managed with this graveyard for a week. Geez, this is actually embarrassing. . .”

She shot a glance at the zombies playing the instruments, their services not needed anymore — a wave of her hand caused them to stop just as suddenly as they had begun, leaving the night unperturbed. Her gaze turned toward Caster once again, and she seemed to ponder on what to say.

“. . .I had a pet project I intended to see to tonight, had I summoned a more meatheaded sort, but considering you’re here. . .well, Teacher, what is the first order of business?”

@Red Alice

Hero of the Rushed Life

Front Gate, Matou Manor


“Hmm.”

The Servant had not said anything for a while, merely mulling over her words in blissful silence — forgetting about the situation and her age and simply taking them as they were. Certainly, it would be hypocritical of him to say anything about not desiring the Grail, considering he couldn’t care less about the cup himself, but still. . .

To risk one’s life, to stake everything for ‘victory’ was something he himself had done on a regular basis — and would continue to do for however long this second life he had been granted lasted.

But it wasn’t just ‘victory’ in his mind.

“Well, it doesn’t really concern me, but are you sure that’s all there is to it?” He asked. It simply did not sit right with him. “To begin with, there’s only so much you can do with the time you are allowed, Master — you shouldn’t waste it limiting yourself to ‘following orders’.”

After all, what he had gone to those beaches for was. . .

Glory. Eternal and everlasting, all for the sake of that promise he had made so long ago.

For his mother, his father and his teacher — for their sake, so that they could watch on proudly as he lived and died like a proper hero.

And for his own sake, as well — to show the world his proof of legend, to hear his name in every breath, to burn as brightly as possible before his life was snuffed out, the destiny that awaited all men.

It had not changed even now. His life was that of a shooting star, plain and simple.

“. . .Maybe you should start by smiling some more. It’s concerning to watch so serious an expression all the time — live a little, Master. Otherwise when you make it to the end, you might find out you had been dead all along.”

Ah, perhaps he had stepped on more serious matters than he had intended to, considering he was talking to a ki.

“That said, I won’t abandon you over this. To begin with, it’d be very inconvenient to try and find another magus agreeable to a contract, and I’m not one you can get rid of so easily”

A lopsided smile was shot in her direction before the Lancer let the matter rest and turned toward the building in front of them. It had still rubbed him the wrong way, but there were more important matters at hand for the moment and it wasn’t his place to order her how to live her life. Whether she heeded the advice or not, it wasn’t his business.

That sort of outlook, though. . .

It was still much too sad.

@phonic





Anastasia Alexandrovna Voronin

Between Tombstones, Foreigner’s Graveyard


“Ah,” She stretched her arms up after finishing the latest of her preparations, revelling in a job well-done. “Well, that should be it for now, hm? After all, it would not do to spend the opening night without having even called my Servant, would it?”

It was, after all, a perfectly normal concern given the circumstances — the Grail War had officially begun, and although she was confident in what she’d accomplished with her preparations, she doubted it could not be bettered or that she had accounted for everything — or everyone. It would not do to have her fortress fall like a house of cards this early.

Still, what an interesting opportunity this little vacation had turned out to be.

“I hadn’t expected this little backwater to attract so much attention. . .” She mused, running a hand through her hair and brushing some of the red locks out of her face.

Well, it was not entirely true. The factory was practically bound to send someone considering their stakes in this, as well the other two families involved, but still. . .what a gathering it had turned out to be. She had not expected so many magi holding the rank of Fes — or higher — to pop out of the woodwork like this for a backwater ritual.

Perhaps it was hypocritical of her to say so, but she was, after all, a necromancer — they thrived on battlefields and merely followed them to obtain materials for their research. She had thought to take a break, gather some reagents and then go back home, but this was even better than she had expected.

She smiled down at the black sarcophagus she had deposited in the middle of the graveyard. It appeared that she had not made a mistake when she thought it convenient to bring them along.

Ah, but enough of that. There were matters to attend to.

Her pace quickened as she headed toward the location she’d instructed the corpses to draw the circle in. The job was satisfactory and precise, as expected of her assistants, and she stood at attention in front it.

Raising one hand in its direction, she opened her mouth to recite the words, but at the last moment, she hesitated.

She was not doing something like ‘reconsidering her course’-- far too late for that even if she wanted to. It was just. . .

“Hm, it’s night, the moon shines well enough, the location is suitable. . .but there’s something missing.”

Was she intending to summon at the best possible time? Perhaps she had forgotten a catalyst?

However, all she did was nod to some of the zombies she had risen and stood to the side, holding. . .

—this had to be a joke. A terrible, terrible joke, some would have said as the first notes started playing.

But it was not, and soon, the band she had assembled started playing a soft tune that merged with the background sounds, such as the wind rustling the grass, adding the element she was looking for. This was, certainly, the greatest of her preparations.

There were more, of course, but she did not need the whole orchestra right now. Right, where was she?

“Hm. . .Silver and iron to the Origin. . .”

Right, right, that was the incantation. The marks on her hand began to glow as she went through the lines, but while she maintained an impassive façade, there was no denying the fact that the ritual was quite dull, so she allowed her mind to lose itself to the music, letting her body work on autopilot.

And through it all, the circle began to shine brighter and brighter still—

”—Come forth form the ring of deterrence, oh keeper of the balance!”


And the blinding light consumed the graveyard.

@Red Alice

Hero of the Rushed Life

Leaving Farm Shed, Fuyuki Outskirts


“You sure it’s wise?” Lancer called out. “Well, if it turns out to be a trap I can just beat them into submission regardless, but it’s more the principle of the thing.”

Absurdly confident. Indeed, that seemed to be the defining trait of this Servant. Overconfidence was a sin that one paid for dearly, especially in a conflict such as this, but Lancer seemed thoroughly disinterested, as though to him talking about ‘killing other heroes’ was akin to commenting on the weather.

That was just the sort of man he had always been.

Regardless, he would listen for now — the girl had not given him any reason not to, and if the negotiations turned sour he would get another battle out of it, so it wasn’t like it interfered with his own wishes for this war, so whistling, he set out to follow the girl. The day was not yet over, and so perhaps there would be a chance to bathe his spear in blood tonight — and show his Master the sort of man she had contracted with.

. . .The fact that she had not even planned for it was far too amusing, even now, but it would only make her face once he revealed it more amusing. After all, even without a catalyst, she had managed to summon one of Greece’s greatest heroes — that sort of luck was simply incredible.

“Hm, so you have acquaintances in the city?” He asked. “I assume my spear won’t be piercing their hearts tonight, then — it would be bad form, unless you mean you’ve arranged for a duel.”

Walking side by side with her, he wondered what to do or say after that, before deciding it was as good a time as any to try and fish for more information about his Master.

“Come to think of it,” He began, consciously refraining from asking about her parents again — it would only serve to set her off again. “Mind telling me what you want the Grail for, Master? It’s a fancy cup, but I wonder what is it you want so badly to stake your life on it.”

He would rather know, at least. Lancer was the sort of moron that didn’t need the Grail for much anything at all, and his only stake in the war was merely out of a desire to fight other heroes and prove himself by obtaining victory.

The ‘omnipotent wishgranter’ guaranteed as a prize was nice, but not something he would lose sleep over. Most people weren’t like him, though, and he would like to know what the cause he was supposed to be fighting for was.

It wouldn’t make much of a difference so long as he got to fight strong opponents, but it would let him assess his Master’s character.

Still. . .

He resisted, he really did, it was just so hard. Her face when she had tried to attack him after calling her a kid had just been too funny. Kids throwing tantrums always were, especially when they tried to act mature for their age.

But he still remembered that she had three absolute orders at her disposal, and that she could make his life very difficult if she wanted, which was something not all kids could. Teasing was sadly out of the question for now.

So he fought the urge to ask if she wanted a lifetime supply of candies.

Hero of the Rushed Life

Farm Shed, Fuyuki Outskirts


“Ah, sorry. . .”

Noting her struggling, he let his Master — and wasn't that going to take a while getting used to — go, thinking that the situation could not possibly get more awkward.

At least it seemed that she had forgotten her previous anger, or at least let it go for the moment, which he was thankful for — she could have just as easily exploded again, but hopefully things would go smoothly for now.

. . .Ah, who was he trying to fool? He was no Chiron. It was just a matter of time before he screwed up and she started crying, he just knew it, but at the very least he’d managed to avert a crisis within the first minutes of summoning, so he’d count it as a win.

“Don't be too hard on yourself, Master,” At least he’d try to make light of the situation. It was the least he could do. “Personally, I found your spirit praiseworthy.”

Stupid, of course, and useless since it would have done nothing even against the weakest, much less him, but praiseworthy nonetheless. But he would not say that — she’d just calmed down, no need to bring her irritation down upon him again.

The idea of a child with Command Mantra was almost terrifying. Shaking his head and driving away those thoughts, he noted the information regarding her housing, nodding along as she explained while shooting a curious look to the golden apparatus within the bag.

“I am Benita Garibaldi; your Master. I presume you to be of the Lancer-class Servants because of your spear. Might I ask whom I have summoned?”


Immediately after those words were spoken, however, he snapped to attention. The statement was interesting for more reasons than one

She didn't know who he was?

Come to think of it, he saw nothing that would serve as a catalyst proper around, so did that mean. . .

A laugh came to his lips, unbidden, and he put a hand over his face. The first words he had said were suddenly even more appropriate, and the humor washed away any leftover awkwardness he felt, his features returning to the supreme confidence they had displayed at first.

It would have been one thing to inform her of success, but to let her know exactly who the awe-inspiring figure she had summoned was, to begin with?

His laughter finally stopped, and he smiled down at her, cocksure disposition returning. He retrieved his spear and propped it against his shoulder.

“Of course — as I said, you summoned a good Servant. Don't worry about the Grail, Master, for you drew the strongest card in the deck. My class is indeed Lancer, and my name is Ac—”

——However.

Once again, he was unable to finish, this time because of an interruption rather than his own confusion.

He watched the cat run circles around them, and then the scratching on the ground — words.

A familiar? He had just been about to reveal his identity to her, surely any enemy observing would have found it more important to keep quiet and learn — the true names of heroes were an important matter in a ritual such as this, and his own more than any other revealed his sure weakness — though he was of the opinion it did not matter. After all, to exploit it they would have to catch the fastest in the history of mankind to begin with.

Still, it was an odd behavior. What could they want, to reveal themselves so recklessly?

"Where did you get that accordion?"

"Is it actual gold?"

"What is its market value?"


“. . .”

Lancer looked down at the scrawled sentences, particularly the last, a flat expression on his face.

“. . .Master, do you know what is going on? I think I’m lost.”

Sad day, when a hero must say that to a child.

@Phonic @Paradox Witch


Hero of the Rushed Life

Farm Shed, Fuyuki Outskirts


Honestly, he had thought the first meeting to be going rather smoothly, all considered. He did not think he had said anything wrong, and he had hopefully looked approachable enough for the girl to trust him — he knew he could cut the awe-inspiring figure, and the last thing he needed was to intimidate her, but it all had seemed to be fine.

At least until he saw her droop down slightly, and he caught a flash of something red on her hand.

. . .Ah.

Well, this was awkward, but hopefully his Master would forgive him, right? She would understand his confusion, right? She wouldn’t take it too badly, right?

After all, what was a Servant to do when confronted by the same situation? He honestly could not be blamed for not believing a little girl was to be his Master for a war — and wasn’t that a sobering thought — but at least he had come off gentle enough their their relationship would likely be good regardless, though it still begged the question: where were her parents?

So immersed he was in his own thoughts that he almost didn’t notice his Master jumping toward him, clearly intending to cause harm. As it was, the situation only made him stare down in befuddlement as she appeared to move in slow motion.

“I am not a child! How dare you speak to your Master like thi-”


He almost cringed at the resounding ‘clang’ as her head met the armor, and wondered if his Master wouldn’t kill herself before an enemy could even try. Then the panic settled in as he hurried to catch her when she started to fall forward, letting go of his spear.

It must have made for quite the scene. Despite his brave disposition that could stare down any other hero with a smile and a laugh, his face looked more akin to a deer caught in headlights — did that expression even exist yet? Oh, whatever — as he looked around wildly, not knowing what to do.

Put him in front of an enemy army and he would fight to the last breath. Ask him to whip people into shape and he could do that, too. Survival in the wild? No problem. But caring for a child that had just now hurt herself?

He almost wished to be getting mud thrown in his face in those beaches again, instead.

“Ah, damnit, damnit, this was never covered in our lessons. . .”

Think, think, what would Chiron do? Perhaps it was telling that the first person to come to mind was that centaur instead of his father or his mother, but the fact remained that he was the best at everything, and that included raising children, so in Lancer’s mind, ‘copy Teacher’ was never a bad move.

Alright, she had said she was not a child and she had lashed out about that — not entirely unexpected behavior, and something he himself had done when he was still a kid. Children did not like being reminded of their age in most cases — or rather, they thought being eight was the same as being a man grown.

So.

“I apologize Master,” He stammered out, perhaps more rushed than he should while trying to emulate his teacher’s gentle tone. “Of course, you are not. Uhh. . .what do you say we go look for some ice?”

Try to placate her by agreeing while looking for something to help with her head before it swelled. Following which —

“Would you mind pointing me to your —“ He very nearly bit his tongue to avoid saying ‘parents’, lest he incur the girl’s wrath and she hurt herself again. “ —house? Living arrangements here?”

Right, get her there, and then they could discuss more, try to keep her from getting angsty by promising something — not candy though, he had a feeling he would only aggravate the situation if he did that, since he’d come off as treating her like a child again.

Where was Teacher when you needed him?! He’d have diffused the situation entirely with just a few words and a smile. Hell, by this point, the girl would have loved him!

“And then we can talk about the current situation. Sound good?”

That ought to do it, or at least placate her as much as possible. He felt so sorry for Chiron. Was this what dealing with children entailed? The centaur had done it for lifetimes, but he could barely handle a minute of it. His respect for his old teacher swelled once more.

Ah, focus, focus, you can think about that later, for now try to fix this. At least she had not begun doing that, and Lancer hoped she never would lest she wanted to end him.

Please, please, please, do not cry, I am not equipped to deal with crying little girls.

@Phonic

Hero of the Rushed Life

Farm Shed, Fuyuki Outskirts


The figure materializing was nothing short of dazzling. A tall man, bearing the armaments of antiquity, clad in armor clearly superior to anything the modern world had seen in ages and carrying a spear slung across his shoulders.

His figure — his essence — spoke of power and confidence. His features were handsome, sharp and strong, and his smile could have made even virtuous housewives blush. Yet, his eyes remained closed, as though basking in the feel of the artificial breeze and the cold on his skin. He took a deep breath he didn’t really need and —

“You sure summoned a good Servant, huh?” He laughed aloud as he boasted with well-practiced ease, his tone all but dripping with undeniable pride.

Yet, the youth seemed to be the sort that could absolutely back such attitude with skill and power. Rather, it was because he possessed both of those that he would show pride and laugh with confidence — because he possessed the proof to be called ‘a hero among heroes’ and he knew it.

Therefore, he must act the part.

He finally opened his eyes, genial — if arrogant — smile not leaving his features. “My class is Lancer, the name’s A—”

However, he trailed off right at the end, a confused expression overtaking his features as he stared at the air in front of him.

Then he looked to the left. And to the right. And, for good measure, he turned around, leaving his spear resting on his right shoulder as he used his free hand to scratch the back of his head. His brow furrowed, as though deep in thought, as he examined the area looking for something, but clearly not having much luck.

His eyes trailed downward for the first time once he turned around once again, slit pupils like those of a raptor meeting the blue of the girl, but his expression only became even more complicated as he took in her attire, an eyebrow rising.

“Uh. . .” He seemed to struggle to find something to say, as though he were not sure how to proceed — a far cry from the cocksure disposition he had showcased at first, and he squatted to be on eye-level with her.

“Um, say, little miss. . .” He began, looking over her shoulder every now and again. “Would you mind telling me where’s your dad? Or your mom, I suppose. . .whichever one called me, I mean.”

What was a kid doing there to begin with? Maybe they’d just botched it and he had appeared where he wasn’t supposed to? The circle did look correct though. . .so maybe they just weren’t in the shed, even if they were nearby. Yeah, that was probably it.

The kid, however, was still an oddity. What was her excuse for being here instead of his Master? The situation was fishy. She did look at him rather intently so maybe she. . .

As though a lightbulb turned on in his head, he suddenly realized the truth of the situation.

“Oh, if you want an autograph, it’s no problem, just take me to see your parents first.”

Yeah, that would explain it, at least — if she was here, she probably was related to his Master, possibly a heir, and what sort of child wouldn’t want to see a legendary hero in the flesh (for lack of a better term)? Still didn’t explain the aforementioned Master being missing, but he could grill them for answers when they were in front of him.

Or why the girl was dressed like that. The attire was weird, and he'd peg it as resembling some sort of military uniform of the time or other if the cup had given him the right knowledge, but was it really normal to dress kids up like that? Maybe she had some cute little costume party coming up? Maybe it was just some cute fancy?

At least he dearly hoped it was that sort of thing and that it wasn't because his Master was a weirdo. Ah, but he was getting sidetracked. . .

He put on his best smile.

“So, what do you say? I’ll uh. . .give you sweets if you do?”

He didn’t have those, but he was sure that could be fixed quickly enough once everything else was sorted out. And he would fix it. After all, it would not do to promise something and not fulfill it.

That was simply not how a hero acted, and he would feel terrible if he did that to a little girl besides.

@Phonic








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