- ] | [ -
Once again, Enhance saw red eyes turn around the corner and greet him in the darkness. The key difference this time was that the height was all wrong.
“Well, aren’t you a pitiful thing?”
It was not Svelten. It was a little girl, no more than thirteen at best. He couldn’t possibly mistake her for a real human. Her features were too ethereal, she carried herself with confidence, and had a mature edge to her being that no amount of precociousness could emulate. A small will-o-wisp also gently floated above her outstretched hand. This orb gave Enhance enough light to see by and take notice of her appearance in the first place. The light also showed to him that she was not alone, for a steely-faced young man followed closely behind her.
“He has no lieutenants that aren’t part of his Parade,” Enhance’s weary mind tried to process this. “Unless you’re independent specters you’re not from around here.”
“How astute for one so brutalized,” she said with an interested expression, “Yes, we here are gate crashers.” The man she was with nodded affirmatively. “We drilled up through the bottom and more or less barreled into you right away.”
“Like a single hole would sink this ghost ship,” Enhance mumbled, “Why do that?”
“There’s a vampire here that needs to be killed, and we’re pretty sure it’s not you.” The man said.
“Not from the Church, then. You acquaintances of Lorelei?”
“Seriously, who is that?”
“Not now, Onii-chan. The vampire’s talking,” she said, “No, we merely happened to be in the neighborhood.”
“A couple of freelancers, who happen to be out in the middle of the ocean, storm the property of a Dead Apostle Ancestor simply because they don’t like it. And here you are, talking to a different Dead Apostle Ancestor just because you can.” Enhance let out a raspy snigger.
“I see our presence here has lighted your fire,” the girl said.
The vampire feebly nodded. “I’ve not felt this good in a long time,” he said.
“Then, if you’re not our target, what crimes have you committed to be interned like this?”
“I kill my own kind. Not for fun and games. I kill to kill.” Enhance gave his reason for living.
“And why do you do this?”
“…because for the Knight of Vengeance, it’s the natural thing to do.”
“Sir Knight of Vengeance, I do believe that there’s something we can do about this situation...”
- ] | [ -
The deck of the Fredensborg
exploded like a missile had been shot straight through from the inside.
The Eighth had been attacked from the sea, but not in any direction that he anticipated. That was his error, and he would have to correct it soon.
Svelten turned his head in the direction of the clamor as soon as it detonated. He dismally noted that that was directly over where his prisoner was kept several stories lower. A storm of swords rained down from above and pierced into several of the Dead he commanded.
There were many of those that had missed their mark. That was deliberate.
A pair of figures alighted on the deck, a rumble of impact told of the force they landed with – a man with his arms around a fair child. A field of scattered swords sheathed into the wood lay between them and the bloodsuckers.
It was the full moon. On a night like this even the lowly Dead would have power that neared that of a mature vampire. As soon as the pair landed the Dead flailed towards them with the speed of hunting wolves. They rapidly hobbled and weaved around the swords as they zeroed in on the pair.
That was anticipated, and with flashes of light more swords came down. Not to strike at the familiars, but to embed into deck. A layer of blades encircled them, like a wall. The Dead approached heedlessly.
“Stick close to me. I’m no good without you.”
“That’s an apparent truth, Shirou!”
At this, the cage of swords had become a pillbox. The corpse-bodies that snaked their way into the gaps to get at the intruders within were mutilated. Hot energy and flying steel snaked from in-between the fencepost-like blades and slammed into the encroaching Dead.
The light of the moon empowered the walking corpses. Any blow that wasn’t a kill strike to the head was promptly recovered from and mindlessly forgotten. Their rate of arrival and their numbers was their advantage. They converged on the pseudo-turret as one, as per Svelten’s orders.
Through centuries of sponsorship by the Black Princess, there was no need to create Dead of his own. Svelten was too picky of an eater, too greedy of one as well, to produce children. The slack-jawed visages of the males he once fancied would only have been registered as corruption to his sensibilities. That ghoulish reminder was something he would not allow. The corpse-puppets that had been gathered here were all taken from enemy rivals by means of his own might and magecraft.
Each of his Dead possessed a single spiritual core, a ghost egg. Through these scrapings of Svelten’s venerable soul he was able to exert his parasitic will over tools that were not originally his own.
Via these nodes, the white knight of the Black Princess ordered his privateers to devour Illya and Shirou.
“Duck and grab on!”
Ten lights screeched forth from within the circle of swords. One Dead for each had their jaws ripped off, their heads cracked. Wings of light shredded into them past the speed of sound.
The cage of swords shattered simultaneously. Shirou spun-swept with a golden longsword that broke the wall of lesser blades in a single blow. The exploding metal dug into the Dead’s faces and chests. Reactionary physics, not concern for their own wellbeings, made the Dead recoil from the force of the biting shards. The precursor sword of Germanic lore was used to split a Dead from collar to crotch, and left in its body. A long-handled sickle turned a Dead into a true corpse due to its concept of immortality revocation, and with it a gap in the line of the lunging Dead appeared. He scooped Illya up with one arm and bolted. His body was reinforced to nearly the breaking point. It’d be cruel if it wasn’t necessary.
The memories of Perseus within the weapon told his body what to do. He ran from the scary monsters and took cheap shots at them when he could until he lost the weapon in one of their heads.
The Dead that could pursue did, while the others who needed to regenerate trailed behind. The claws and teeth of the Dead raked at Shirou. Their strikes went skin deep. Their nails scratched up bloody sparks when contact was made with the swords that grew within him. The visible wounds that the Dead inflicted on him were cosmetic.
But they hit like battering rams. Each strike that connected stirred his insides up. His bones creaked from each bodily tremor.
He’d break down from the inside-out. Or they’d trip up. A tumble to the ground for even just a moment meant that the Dead would pull him apart.
He didn’t care about that. He ran with as much power as he could. He just had to protect Illya from them.
Illya shared this sentiment. She had to protect Shirou from succumbing to the pressure of the horde.
Together, they were an archer and his quiver. With her he could fire unlimited arrows. Without either item to support the other their usefulness was cut by more than half.
He struggled to keep the distance he and Illya had on the Dead nipping at their heels. He weaved around and over rubble. He used the leftover swords that remained from the initial assault to swipe at the Dead that got too close. He left the weapons behind when they got stuck in the vampiric puppets’ bodies.
The lights returned. The maximum number of Illya’s guardians was deployed. Ten wireframe familiars, each aglow from the energy of the independent magical core it possessed. They had the shape of birds and flew in a defensive perimeter around the two. They buffeted any who came close with their razor edges, and fired off salvos of prana at those who were further away.
Each one was single thread. The hair that he thought to be so soft and fine had become a weapon used to slice at the bodies of the pack of encroaching Dead. It was meant to be used for protection and active retaliation. She could not fight like this, and against numbers which hardly dwindled. Illya flushed from the stress of having to control ten familiars at once. They were meant to act autonomously and follow simple orders. If she wasn’t an Einzbern homunculus it would have been impossible and dangerous to do. Her neurons would have fried and she would have undergone brain death.
It was still hard. ‘Shoot that one there; hit that one next to Shirou.’ She acted and reacted at exhausting speeds.
There were less Dead than before. Not by much. Many were partially inhibited with swords stuck in various parts of their bodies. That did nothing to affect their relentless chase, and nothing to curb their appetites for the human beings their master ordered them to feed on.
For the second time that night, a figure leapt out of the crater in the ship’s deck and took the fight to Svelten.
The moment that Illya and Shirou had been buying time for had arrived: the full moon had replenished the Knight of Vengeance, the traitorous Single Edge, the demon of the Dead Apostles Ancestors.
Enhance had joined the battle. And it was the lyrical stylings of Depeche Mode that heralded his arrival.
With a blur of motion he brought the boombox down like a sledgehammer on the Dead closest to Shirou and Illya. Its skull exploded into bony gore.
‘-personal-’ the machine stuttered. ‘-someone-’‘
He swung wide. The chest of a foe became a bloody concave. The crumpled body knocked back into the Dead that followed behind it like tenpins.
Enhance followed through. He didn’t let the Dead regenerate. He didn’t give its fellows that it had been thrown into the opportunity to again chase the humans. He jetted towards them and again swung the boombox.
'-flesh and bone-'
The sounds that followed were the sounds skulls breaking and the device’s chassis crunching. He spun with monstrous speed and hurled it at some distant Dead. Many of the mindless zombies tripped over their downed fellow. The rate at which they moved caused their bones to break under their own weight.
'-make you a believer-'
The thing was still playing music faithfully. Even though they hadn’t shared the best of memories, Enhance had decided that his begrudging self-respect for it was well earned.
Avenger, his now-reclaimed demonic sword, was a dark blur that sliced into the Dead. Gouts and clouds of blood and ash sprayed wherever its harsh edge cleaved through Svelten’s vampires. He took a swing with both hands. A few Dead clustered too closely together were bisected at the same time. He took the legs out from another one. He stabbed it through the heart center and split its chest in two with a horizontal blow.
He threw a punch at speeds that parted the faint cloud of dust that had billowed from the crater. The head came clean off and disintegrated from the force as it sailed through the air. Enhance seamlessly went into a spin that slammed the stock of the shotgun, the property of the Church known as the Holy Crematal Artillery, into the head of another. The force of the blow twisted its head off. With the monstrous momentum of this move, Enhance used it to flick his wrist and bring the shotgun to the opposite side, his finger right on the trigger. He fired. The Dead in his path were utterly blown away by a burst of blessed fire. A single leaf of paper was dispensed where the shell would have been in a normal rifle.
He grimaced in pain. With the gun in hand, wisps of smoke rose from his withered arm. Just from using it like this it was like an old man’s arm, wrinkled and leathery. But the moon was full. Instead of letting the hurt he felt limit his actions, Enhance channeled into it. The pain was a metronome he danced to. It was a breakbeat in the most literal of meanings.
A weapon by heretics, for heretics. Amen.
‘If the casing gets dented Ciel’s gonna throw a fit when she sees how badly I’ve treated this,’ Enhance thought to himself. He sighed internally even as the chalky, gangrenous brains of Dead plopped onto the deck from each decisive strike.
Hey, if they all died here – quite likely against such a high-ranking Ancestor – at least he’d get out of a lecture. If pain drove him, then guilt was the mind killer, and boredom just as bad.
Depeche Mode as interpreted by DDYND. Trance beats filled the night air.
He’d let it play.
“Clear!” he shouted to Shirou and Illya. They leapt back; he sent a storm cloud of molten metal at a group of nearby Dead that had been again dogged the magi duo. With that self-contained killing spree, the Dead were gone.
This meant that it was time for Svelten to switch gears. “Give one a minuscule taste of freedom and they indulge in buck wild totality,” he drolly complained as he fingered the brim of his cap. “I of course expected nothing less from you when this series of events came to pass, my dear Enhance.”
‘-I’m a forgiver-’
“You know what, Svelten? I did enjoy our little talks. Talking with you always pissed me off, and when I get mad it’s easy to turn that to hate. And hatred is where all of my strength comes from.”
Enhance glowered with black hate. Svelten remained neutral. He did nothing but let the moonlight glint off his armor. He let the world do the work of flaunting his position as the white knight for him.
“It was also way too arrogant to just leave my weapons on the wall across from me. Bastards like you put on a few centuries and then think they’re so above it all.
“That Black Princess of yours will have her turn with me someday, but if she thinks she’ll get to have a leak she’s out of her damn little mind.”
Enhance left the world behind. He surged forward. His curse bolstered his already maxed-out full moon potential. The world he was in now was a world of blurred motion, and he aimed to take Svelten’s head. The memory of his bitter loss against the Eighth did the exact opposite of dissuade him from his course.
Tonight would be different. There was no ambush. It was an enemy he fought before. They were both at full fighting strength.
Svelten invoked the power of Parade that he had allowed to build up all this time. His years of necromancy had ultimately culminated in its development. From soothsaying to bombs powered by the tumultuous feelings of victims of genocide to simple summoning, acts of destruction and creation were things he was capable of achieving in equal measure.
The rubble that littered the deck began to slide back in a single direction. Enhance, Illya, and Shirou felt their centers of gravity shift, and it was harder to stand up straight by the second.
An amorphous giant had risen from the water behind Svelten. He had summoned upon the most numerous dead that the ocean had to offer. The chalky white skeletons of billions of plankton had been unified in death to come together and form a colossus made of sludge-moist diatomaceous earth.
With a pair of arms as thick as semi-trucks it meant to the boat over like a child in the bath would.
The now 50-degree incline put no damper on Enhance’s enthusiasm for vampire killing. He ran, and each step cracked the deck beneath his feet. He climbed, and his talons gouged into wood with each swipe. He flapped his wings, and ascended to meet the Ancestor above him. He didn’t care if a hundred plankton golems were here. Svelten was at the top, waiting for him.
Svelten was waiting for Enhance so that he could knock him back down to the depths of Hell. All the while the ship was tipped even more.
When they registered what was happening, Shirou stabbed swords into the wall that used to be the floor before he and Illya fell too far back. The blades and hilts of the many Noble Phantasms that Unlimited Blade Works had in stock were used as makeshift footholds.
The sound of the music was drowned out by the boom of artillery. The hybrid sea-going vessel Fredensborg
was alone in these waters. No other ship had fired upon the three. Rapid flashing pinpricks of flame explosively lit up the form of the giant, and hundreds of cannonballs of mud bombarded them.
Enhance’s blood fell like rain behind him. As the one closest to reaching Svelten, his vision was filled with the globes of destruction. Enhance swung his sword wildly. His reflexes had not failed him. But, the oversized buckshot was fast, and there was so much of it. His strikes hit home, and each one of his multiple strikes brought down a mud ball. If this ploy of Svelten’s weaponized gravity and used it to bolster the already explosive momentum of the projectiles, then Enhance used gravity and the weight of his blade to protect himself. Harmless gobs of mud stung his eyes. His abdomen, torso, biceps, crown - unavoidable glancing blows flayed bloody streaks into his body. He grimaced through this and continued his charge. Enhance would suffer a thousand cuts to delay one single solid blow. That was a price he could pay.
That wasn’t a tab Illya or Shirou could foot. They had more time to react to the barrage than Enhance did, but not by much. He shielded her, like he had done many times before. Shirou once made the images in his mind reality. This time, he did not call upon any sword of legend. This time, he called upon the swords that were his.
Two swords for two allies of justice: Kanshou and Bakuya, the black and white married blades were in his hands.
They were overwhelmed by the noise. Shirou could not respond with the speeds that Enhance demonstrated. He was only human. But he had careful aim and experience. It was barely enough to weather the storm. The gears in his world turned, and the sword that broke in any way he immediately replaced. He had to. Neither sword could stand on its own against this.
In the middle of it all, Shirou okayed Illya’s plan. His body felt like it was on fire. Like his heart pumped magma, or his nerves were naked electrical wires. He blazed with the surge of prana Illya sent to him.
Even if their body was a magus’, a human was not meant to hold a fraction of the capacity of the Holy Grail. His body would break apart if he stayed at this level for too long.
A fuse was lit, and he was full of powder. If his magic circuit was turned into a cannon, then all he’d have to do is fire it.
“I am the Bone of my Sword…”
He was sent into overdrive. He reinforced himself the instant the heat grew thermonuclear. For an instant, Shirou felt what it was like for a Command Seal to be used to push him past his limits.
He had to use this surplus of energy before he collapsed from midnight sunstroke.
Use magic, make more, spend the influx of Illya’s prana. That’s what he told himself.
He would not be blue-balled again, in any shape or form.
Shirou launched sword bullets at the mass of plankton. His true target was big. Streaks of metal shot past Enhance. The swords split the wet mud. Its arms broke, and its head crumbled where each heroic blade buried into it as the conglomerate of dead essences was slowly overcome by the surplus of spiritually superior weapons.
Plankton cannot speak, yet their death wail was the sound of tons of damp clay collapsing back into the sea it came from.
With that, there was nothing to stop the ship from catastrophically falling back down into the sea. The silver familiars morphed into a safety net that kept the pair from falling away. All Enhance had to do to weather the fall was dig into the deck and tough it out.
Svelten showed no concern for himself as the boat fell. He merely stood as calmly as if he were on solid ground. Instead, he just sort of blinked incredulously as he saw how easily the titan of the Ghost Corps went down when going against this magus’ weapons. He and the homunculus – he saw her for what she was now – were nearly shredded by his Dead. That was no fluke. He had seen their desperation.
Was his compatibility against them just that poor?
If that was so, then he would simply make better use of his resources. It’d be far more satisfying to meet his enemies head on.
With the boon of the moon to bolster the Eighth’s fabled skills, his ornate but sharp sword and parrying dagger easily met with Enhance’s Avenger and Shirou’s Kanshou and Bakuya.
“I don’t believe that I’ve ever had the amusement of seeing an Enforcer in an aloha shirt before.” Svelten said as he dealt strikes to his foes, genuinely pleased with at least that aspect of the night’s events.
“I’m no Enforcer,” Shirou grunted, as he fought to keep the Dead Apostle Ancestor from overpowering him. His arms ached; they were already past their limits, and it was survival instinct and the desire for victory that kept him going. Enhance was a decent ally who helped divert Svelten’s focus, but it wasn’t enough. If the fight continued, he knew he would lose. “-just a concerned guy who you happened to cross paths with.”
“Tell me - does The Battalion mean anything to you, young man?”
“What ‘Battalion?’ ”
“Of Kron? Lorelei’s Battalion?”
“-Damn it.” Shirou cursed as that name once again haunted him that night.
Enhance didn’t ask. Sometimes he felt it better to just not ask.
Svelten jumped away from the brawl. He lazily dodged the thrown swords and sanctified gunfire as he backed away.
“Phantom Rondo; slay once again.”
He intoned. Spirits appeared, this time shoulder to shoulder, rank and file at each of his flanks. He raised his sword; the ghosts did likewise. “Synch rate; bellissimo.”
Svelten confirmed his passphrase.
This was why the Church had named him Svelten. His elegant technique where he perfectly synchronized the moves of his ghosts with himself. The intangibility of his retainers coupled with his grandmaster-tier martial prowess as fueled by his Ancestor reflexes made him a virtually insurmountable obstacle.
Rizo-Waal Strout, Neardark; Fina-Blood Svelten, White Knight Vlad. The knights of the Black Princess were considered the pinnacle of the vampire race for good reason. It was said that victory against them could never be achieved – that all one could pray for was mutual destruction, and even that was a miracle-to-be.
Deep down, he felt some variety of remorse that he would overcome the Rose Prophecy. Would that be like what humans felt when they lost faith, came upon that which to themselves was irrefutable proof that their God or whomever was a sham?
Or would he instead feel elation? Achieve enlightenment? Be the vampire who broke the chains, and paradoxically elevated as the symbol of divine right, that Altrouge’s court was a dynasty everlasting?
Either way, few things excited the venerable Svelten to be the way he was now.
- ] | [ -
The fight couldn’t go on anymore like this. He needed to be stopped.
So Illya made a miniature black hole to do the work.
She didn’t care how she did it. She had only read a glimpse about the precise mechanics in a library book and a half-remembered astronomy documentary seen on an outing to a planetarium. But stars were composed of hydrogen, and black holes were collapsed stars, and there were exactly two atoms of hydrogen for every single molecule of water on Earth, and the sea breeze was moist with misty vapor and that was plenty for her to work with. That was more than enough for her full awareness of her wish-granting capacity as a Grail.
Spaghettification occurred. It was a matter of course that Rondo would un-synch. He was pulled like taffy. Svelten let out the kind of horrible sound that no human should ever hear. The grinding of his bones made a makeshift duet with the crackle-pop of unstable time-space.
This unthinkable torture was splitting his head. The suffering was unthinkable. Still, he was an Ancestor, and the left hand of the Black Princess. He would solve this problem before he was crushed like a grape.
“…huh.” Illya said. “So that’s how it looks when a person is pulled into a hole that small.”
It was the girl. Of course.
If he killed her, the magus lost support, and this horrible trap would be exorcised from existence. He could slink away into a hiding place in his ship, he could find somewhere to heal in peace, where he would then proceed to kill the final intruder and once again subjugate Enhance using all of the methods at his disposal. His was a mission from his Princess, and he would allow himself to fail it in her name.
“I’ll take your face, you processed meat doll.”
In a sudden burst of movement he split his breastplate with his own hands. An oarfish familiar shot out of his chest. It was one of his oldest, most precious creations. It was from the Baltic Sea, from the time when the Third Crusade was in full swing. The serpentine beast’s jaws opened wide to show rows of vampire fangs. Already the black hole began to distort the thing’s ribbon body. But it was long, and it would reach.
Avenger throbbed like a phallus and shifted from a mortuary sword to something much larger, with a highly defined spine. The familiar was split from the jaws all the way to the tip of its tail. The sword penetrated through the now-corpse, and the scent of fish exploded out.
Enhance took the brunt of the undead fish guts. Not a single drop of rotten slime splattered on Illya.
She peered from behind the vampire to get a better look at Svelten’s last moments. The end would be too interesting to not.
- ] | [ -
Her eyes were red.
Not the kind of red that was swollen with tears. Not the kind of red that were the bloodshot eyes of the exhausted or tripped out. No, red was the color she had been born with. Her eyes were red. Not red like the eyes of his princess. Svelten could go on and on about the minute differences between his beloved Altrouge and this hateful homunculus. The layering of the irises within the sclera, how wide apart they were set in their faces, the shapes, wines and roses and vermilions and carmines and cardinals and and garnets and crimsons. Such wondrous crimson. That color, it stirred his heart the way that few things in the world did. It was a holy color. It was not a dirty red, an ugly scar red. It was a hue of gospel. It was pristine, mighty, something more. A color linked to the wondrous world he wanted to take more in of.
Her eyes were not the eyes of his princess. He could never deny that as long as he lived. He could also never deny that her eyes were just as beautiful as those of the princess he adored so much, for different and innumerous reasons that only mattered to him.
The darkness encroached on everything in his sight. Soon there would be no more light to bounce off anything for him to see with. With that, there would be no way for him to see the beauty of the world.
Her eyes were red.
Her eyes were not the eyes of his princess.
But if he forgot all about those important, bothersome little details, then he noticed, with enlightened disappointment and pleasant surprise, that that there was no difference at all.
If those crimson eyes that baptized him with darkness were to be the last thing he’d ever see…………………
He’d be a lot worse off without them.
“M’lady…” Svelten wistfully whispered with a tip of his hat.
Then he was gone.
- ] | [ -
they were on was an existence sustained by Parade. The demise of the Reality Marble’s owner meant that the ship would go down with its captain. With the disappearance of the necromancy modifications made to it, it would return to being a skeleton and would be laid to rest once more on the ocean floor.
That was assuming, of course, that it would be allowed such a peaceful and cyclical interment. The small black hole continued to rage as it devoured the rest of the boat, as if it were racing against the world’s corrections now that the prana link had been severed. Steel and wood that felt like it became more brittle with every second wailed and rumbled as it was compressed into the apple-sized vortex.
“Well, then. Good job.” said Shirou.
“The guy was a creep and a weirdo. Let’s go.” said Illya.
“Best thing I’ve heard all night.” said Enhance.
‘-reach out and touch faith-’ said the boombox.
- ] | [ -
“If anything’s going to be destroyed, it shall be on our own terms, not because it was the territory of a load-bearing foe.” Illya said with a flash of pride as the abridged recounting of the night’s events was completed.
“So you just left a black hole in the middle of the ocean?” Tohsaka asked.
“It was a small one.” Shirou said.
“Don’t worry about that,” Illya explained, “Its natural decay rate means that it’ll poof into nothingness on its own. Eventually.”
“You don’t know how a black hole works at all, do you?”
“Can any one of us claim to understand how the deeper mysteries of the universe work, Rin?”
“Black holes are not target selective! That wasn’t a black hole you made at all!”
“It was a small one! That’s why!”
Let it be known that Illya would not moonlight as a theoretical physicist anytime soon.
“I still can’t believe you brought a Dead Apostle Ancestor along with you, just like that.” Changing topics, Tohsaka said this incredulously as she once again eyed the dark-coated young man. He didn’t respond. He was too busy idly fussing with a beat-up boom box.
“Can we keep him, Rin?” Illya asked enthusiastically.
Shirou added, “He did say he’d prefer to keep us nearby as the fallout from this comes to a head because he told us ‘Live bait that can fend for itself is a rare commodity.’ Him staying with us shouldn’t be a problem for you or Fuji-nee this time,” he said with a bit of relief, “For once it’s not a young woman we’d be putting up.”
“The gender of the Single Edge is not what I take issue with!” Tohsaka loudly protested.
“His name is Enhance,” Shirou said with a bit of an affronted look, but right now she couldn’t care less about his skewed priorities.
“The problem is not about a broody man who actually calls himself the ‘Knight of Vengeance’ in public. The problem is that you people are nosy and have a death wish!”
“So, Rin,” Illya said, “Does this mean that if you were in our position you would’ve let a craft full of hostile vampires and vengeful spirits roam free as it held a decisive prisoner captive?”
“No. No, I wouldn’t have just let it go. I also wouldn’t have attacked it head-on without any intelligence on what I would be getting myself into.”
“Would you really have?” Illya asked. “If your intelligence had informed you who exactly your foe was would you have still gone up against him?”
If it was just her, Tohsaka Rin alone, would she have taken such a risk? She decided that was doubtful. An upbringing as a magus made her accepting and prepared for death, while at the same time it urged the philosophy of self-preservation. She was a single woman with no successor to pass her Crest on to. If she went, then so too went generations of Tohsaka knowledge. Whether to be left to rot in the middle of nowhere, or stripped from her corpse and taken into Clock Tower storage it would be lost forever. Her things would be hawked by vultures from the Association, and the loss of its Second Owner would cause the power balance in Fuyuki City to shift. Even if the stars aligned and she somehow succeeded in destroying her target, the enemies that this would make her would be too powerful. On her own, Tohsaka Rin wouldn’t have risked it.
But if she had something worthy on the line? Something that she could go crazy for?
“No,” she admitted, “I’m not like that.”
‘-I’m not like you two,’ she thought.
“You’re right. You’re not foolish like us. It’s nothing to be ashamed of that you can’t care about justice the way we can.”
Because really, what else would you call someone who fearlessly attacks a vampire’s lair without any prior information on it, and especially when it turns out that the vampire in question is not only one of the Dead Apostle Ancestors, but also one of the most powerful ones out there? What would you call it when a victory is achieved against all odds, with not only zero casualties, but the addition of an ally? “Idiots” and “dumb luck” were appropriate.
“And what of your so-called ‘justice?’ Tohsaka asked, “This good deed of yours was inconsequential to your original intentions.”
“That can’t be denied,” she admitted, this confession of hers articulated with a matter of fact shrug, “If Shirou and I hadn’t happened to be there we certainly couldn’t be having this conversation.
“You’re right, Rin. The only reason that we even got caught up in that watery grave,” Illyasviel von Einzbern looked at Emiya Shirou with a knowing smirk, “was all because we wanted a few little deaths.” END
“For the love of- did you really just say that?” Tohsaka groaned. She slumped so much in her seat that she looked like her true identity was actually that of a previously undiscovered species of invertebrate, beached and trapped by the oppression of the surface world. That only liquid could prevent her sluggish body’s termination by desiccation.
Looks like she’d be nosediving into that bottle of champagne after all.
Idly she looked to Enhance and wondered if vampires could drink alcohol without, like, suffering a reaction to it. He quirked his head in response.
“That’s a beer stein you’re pouring that into, Rin.”
“I need this. I need all of this.”
“As I said, the only thing that could possibly judge anyone in this world doesn’t exist.”