“It seems unlikely that gra- I mean, Zouken would come out of hiding this early in the war and the Tohsaka Master doesn’t strike me as someone who would resort to kidnapping, let’s check our other leads first.”
“Alright, we’ll follow your lead then.” Pushing hard on the gas the car sped up as the three of them made their way out of the deep forest road and into the outskirts of Miyami Town.
Going by the one nearest to their location, Shinji Matou would be the first target. Sakura still remembered the park she had fought Illya at only to have been saved by. It seemed unlikely that he would have changed locations just yet.
There was still a short amount of time before they reached his apartment. Taking this moment to rest her eyes Sakura drifted off to sleep.
“Shinji come here, I want to introduce you to your new sister. Her name is to be Sakura Matou. and I want you two to get along. Make sure you treat her well, she will be the pride and joy of this family soon enough…”
“Don’t worry anymore Sakura, your good uncle Kariya will win this war and then you can be reunited with Rin and Aoi once more! So please… Just be patient just a little longer…”
“Sakura! We’re here.”
Awaking with a start Sakura glanced around through the tinted windows of the car. Right before her eyes across the street was the apartment that they were looking for. Immediately she forced the haziness out of her head as best as she could while calling for her Servant.
“Assassin do you sense any of Matou’s Assassins?”
‘Yes, I can feel all six of them are nearby inside the building itself.’
“What about the homunculus? She should have the same kind of aura that Illya carries with her.”
“No, I do not sense anything like that, only the crude magical barrier that surrounds this place neither do I see the vehicle that was stolen. And… No it is nothing… Just those things are all I can sense. I know not if the boy is here but his Servant’s being present suggest he is.”
Curious about the thing Assassin was about to mention Sakura decided that he must have his reasons for not bringing it up. Deciding it was best to leave him to his own tasks both Sakura and Maiya deduced that Shinji was not the one to have stolen it. Thus they decided to move onto the next candidate.
The car quickly left the quiet apartments and passed through the streets as it made its way towards the nearby forest.
“Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. Through our research it seems like he is likely hiding out in an abandoned mansion near Kotomine Church. If my memory serves me correctly, Kayneth was staying at the Matou Mansion for a short time during the previous Grail War. Do you remember anything about him Sakura?”
She had indeed seen him a few times, though the memories were now faint Sakura the few times they had spoken. Though she was only a little girl at the time she had helped him to find his ‘precious one’ and save her from whatever trouble she had gotten herself into.
Even still she could never really appreciate the taste of tea like he seemed to do. But perhaps it was indeed time to pay this man a visit after all. Though she doubted he did it, it wouldn’t have been the first time he charged into the Einzbern forest to steal an Einzbern homunculus. Perhaps he did it again?
Eventually they made their way towards the edge of the forest that housed the hidden Edelfelt Mansion. It did not take long for either of them to sense that the entire place had been put into the control a great many bounded fields. Fields that seemed like they were meant to sniff out anyone who dared to try and invade the premises.
Before they could even go a few minutes into the quiet forest path a man could be seen standing directly on the road ahead of them.
It was a knight, one with olive green leather armor who held two long spears each covered in a deep purple cloth. The tips of these spears glowed in a deep dark yellow and red.
But perhaps the most striking thing about him was the small mole located just under his right eye.
“Lancer… It appears that the rumors that El-Melloi was bringing into play the same Servant that brought him victory in the last war were true. Sakura, be careful this man should not be underestimated. He was able to easily be more than a match against Saber. If he were to fight Assassin head on it would surely end in Assassin’s defeat.
Though she had not seen him directly in the last war, Sakura had heard that this was the same man that Kayneth had been fighting with that entire time. It was a strange feeling to know that even though it had been fifteen years and they had never met face to face they still held some sort of a connection to one another.
But before she could think about those feelings any further the knight slowly began to step forward towards the car. With a loud voice he began to speak to them but his voice did not sound like his own. Rather, it was the voice of a magus noble, proud and pure but with an edge of wisdom in every word.
“Master of Assassin, you are stepping into the realm of Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. To what purpose do you come here for?”
Making it clear that it was Sakura the voice was speaking to she spoke up perhaps at least for the time being it was best to remain completely honest with him. “Sir Archibald, we have come here to look for an Einzbern homunculus that had been stolen a short time ago. We have evidence to suggest that it was a team of a Master and a Servant. Do you know of anything related to this incident?”
“I have neither the Servant or Homunculus you are looking for, if you have no business here leave at once. Unless you wish to declare a declaration of war? My Lancer will gladly take you on anytime. I am sure that your Assassin is lurking nearby, do not thing I haven’t been watching you all this time.”
His words seemed to be sincere but there was still no way of telling if they were true or not and he seemed like he knew something that they did not. If he really did have scouts throughout the city then perhaps he might have found the vehicle’s true location. Thus Sakura had to think of a new course of action. If he really was the man she remembered all those years ago then perhaps he might still have a weak spot in that one woman.
Steeling her heart once more she braced herself and opened the car door. “Maiya, stay here. I want to try and reason with him.”
“Ah but Sakura, you can’t trust this man! He’s the one who stole Irisviel right from under Kiritsugu's nose!”
“It’s ok Maiya, please, believe in me. I promise I will come back safe and sound.”
Giving a final look of determination towards her adoptive mother she nodded her head before putting a foot out of the door and issuing a second command to her Assassin.
“Assassin, materialize yourself on top of the car, show you are not a threat.”
Following her orders to the letter the Masked Servant materialized himself on top of the car and made his entire spider like body visible. Though he made no gesture or threat it was clear that he was watching both Lancer and his Master very carefully.
Slowly but surely Sakura began to make her ways toward the armed Lancer in front of them. Standing at the ready but making no motion to attack Lancer only watched in curiosity as Sakura slowly moved closer and closer.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed but eventually Sakura had made her way directly in front of Lancer and his armed self. In less then a second before Sakura or her Servant could even think those two deadly spears could run themselves straight through her body.
Yet Sakura did her best to stand firm. Clenching her fists as hard as she could stop the scary thoughts from emerging onto her face she stared directly into Lancer’s eyes and spoke.
“Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. Look at my face, do you remember who I am? This is not the first time we have met. My name was once Sakura Matou a scared little girl but one who you are indebted to.”
“Oh? I know who you are, You were once the proud heir of the Matou name, but you cast that aside to follow some forsaken fate with that cursed Kiritsugu. I owe a magus like you nothing.”
The grip of Lancer’s spears tightened as the pressure in the air strengthened to near hostile levels. But Sakura held firm, she glared once more at Lancer before speaking up in a voice that sounded dry and emotionless, it was a voice that even Kayneth could not forget, one that reminded him of the past. Of the little girl that had once saved his fiance’s life.
“She’s not coming back… Do you remember what I said? She was not coming back. Because it was easy to miss. Those were the words I once spoke Mr. Kayneth. The ones that allowed you to save her… So please, if you have any decency in your heart or if you truly cared about her then tell us what you know…”
That monotone voice was the most Sakura could do. If this would not work then their visit here would be fruitless or in the worst case scenario she could very well die by Lancer’s spears.
An eternity seemed to pass as the two of them continued to stare directly at once another. But eventually it was Sakura who ended up winning. Lancer’s mouth opened once more and the voice of the Magus Noble rang out. It was a bitter voice but one that held a tinge of loneliness, of things once held dear but forever gone.
He couldn’t change the past, even he knew the Grail was beyond such things. But perhaps he could fix past mistakes even if only in a tiny way.
“...One of my familiars followed the black car that left the Einzbern forest only a few hours ago… It is currently stationed in a parking deck near the newly reopened Hyatt Hotel. I know not how long it will remain there. Now… Get out of my forest…”
With those last words the Lancer dematerialized and began to walk on the trail back to the mansion. It was clear that Kayneth was done talking, but Sakura’s courage had managed to get them the information they so desperately needed.
“Assassin, go there at once and follow them. Stay hidden and inform me if they try to leave before we catch up.”
“As you command.”
And the masked Servant disappeared off to accomplish his task.
They drove in silence as they approached their destination. Was it due to shock of how out of character Sakura had acted? Sakura was unsure of what Maiya thought about what she had just done. Nearly throwing herself onto Lancer’s spear like that just to get that information.
But regardless of what she thought the decision was already set in stone. And they had come out of it all the better.
Before either of them could speak up about the past confrontation Assassin’s voice rang in Sakura’s head.
“Master, I see a large well built man who bears the signs of a Servant and two people with traces of magic following them. One of them greatly resembles a homunculus of Einzbern origin.
They appear to be getting inside of the black car that was stolen. What are you commands?
Time was beginning to run out for them. They needed to act quickly before the trail they had worked so hard to get went cold. They could simply watch from a distance, something that Assassin specialized in but there was always the chance that he could be detected by the unknown abilities of this new Servant, or they could chose to charge in guns blazing using Assassin’s ability to attack from the shadows to act as a diversion.
In just a few short minutes Sakura and Maiya could be convening on their location. But what would they do?
1. Stay back and observe, see what they do
2. Go in guns blazing, use Assassin as a diversion
3. Attempt to negotiate with them. They might be willing to make a deal
4. Write in...