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Fate/Silent Night
Fate/Silent Night
Did I forget to post this here? I guess I did.

There are still a few more scenes left before it's done. Expect them one a day until the 25th.

Somewhere in the near distance, snow slipped off of a bare tree branch to land on the icy earth with a crumbling thump. Ilyasviel von Einzbern ignored it, as she ignored the bitter chill of the winter’s night and the faint whisper of white flakes drifting down through the silver moonlight.

With a warm smile that indulged her awed stare, the massive figure of her Servant slipped down from his perch and offered her a hand up from where she knelt. “Hello, Ilya,” he said.

Despite the slow burn of shame starting at the back of her throat as she looked into those dark, wise eyes, Ilya’s pride forced her to accept the help as her due. “Hello, Rider,” she answered.

The Heroic Spirit seemed to smile a little wider behind his great bushy beard, and he reached behind him, into the mighty chariot of his legend, and rummaged around for a moment before coming out with a large package, tall and wide but not terribly thick, which he pressed into the seeming-child’s hands. “This is for you,” he said, gently.

With no small trepidation, she opened it. Inside were a book and an envelope, on which was written her name in a hand that she’d seen in only one or two places before, on tiny scraps that she’d carefully hidden from her family’s watchful eyes.

Her father’s handwriting.

Carefully, mindful of the way her cold-numbed hands trembled, she slipped the letter out of its container and began to read.

Dearest Daughter, it opened.


Gilgamesh, almighty king of divine Uruk, was startled out of a sound sleep by a sharp blow across the base of his skull.

“WHO DARES?!” he roared, bolting out of bed in his nightshirt and summoning several of his toys to hand.

Apparently, no one dared, for he was alone in his bedchamber. The only sign of any intruder - besides the throbbing of his rising bruise - was the fist-sized lump of black stone lying peacefully on his pillow.

He picked it up and examined it in confusion.

So far as his eyes and senses could determine, it was a perfectly ordinary chunk of anthracite coal.


“This will allow you and your guard to remain in the physical world indefinitely?”

“Yes, Souichirou-sama.”

“Why make it look like coal?”

“I promised not to say. Does it matter?”

“I suppose not.”

“Oh! Souichirou-sama!”

“That’s too formal, I think.”



“Shirou,” said the lovely blond figure kneeling at the main room’s low dining table, “we do not have time for this. We should be searching for other masters and servants to defeat.”

The red-haired boy by the door grinned back over his shoulder at her as he scooped up the small pile of wrapped boxes and carried them over to his companion. “I don’t think that any of them are going to be out at this time of night, Saber,” he answered, then, looking down into the smallest of them, pulled out a second package, this time wrapped in colorful paper. “But if you want, we can patrol later. Hm. This has my name on it...”

He opened the second package. “...and this one has yours. And the biggest one is something I had delivered for you. Usually I’d hide it until the end of the month, but under the circumstances you might as well open it now, too.”

Saber’s unmarred features drew into a frown. “Until the end of the month? You mean-”

Shirou grinned at her. “That’s right, it’s your Christmas present!”

“Shirou, this is not appropriate.”

“Of course it is! Gift-giving is in the spirit of the season. It’d be rude not to participate!”

The once and future King of the Britons glared for a moment longer, then let her breath out in an exasperated huff. “Knowing you, you’ll insist to the point of using a command seal. Very well.”

And with that she opened the larger box, and stared at its sole occupant for a long moment. “But...” she said, “ laughed.”

Her ‘Master’ shrugged. “You do the ‘sword of untouchable beauty’ routine so well that it seemed too weird seeing you cuddle something cutely. But since you seemed to like it, well, weird isn’t bad.”

Saber drew the large plush lion out of its box to sit in her lap with both arms wrapped firmly around its squeezable middle, ignoring the faint burning across her cheeks. “Thank you,” she said.

The look in Shirou’s eyes just made her more uncomfortable. “Anytime,” he said seriously.
“Shouldn’t you open yours?”

“Huh?” the amateur Magus glanced down at the object forgotten in his hands. “Oh, right,” he said, and tore into the paper. “It’s probably from Fuji-nee...”

In fact, it was not. One of the things the small box contained confused him. The other made him slam it closed with a furious blush that made Saber inquire as to his health. Fortunately for his peace of mind and probably her opinion of him, inquiring as to what was in her other box distracted her.

That, like the package with the map and the Bundle He Would Not Think About, had nothing on it beyond the simple name of her class in plain roman letters. Inside was...

“A book?” Shirou asked, craning his neck to peer upside down at the title. “In English, too.” He wasn’t the best reader of that language even when he had it in easy reach and right-side-up.

A moment later he realized that Saber had gone absolutely white, and locked up as tense as she had been the time she claimed to have felt a potential enemy Servant. “Saber?” he asked.

“This... is about me,” she whispered.

“Oh, that’s nea-” Even before he finished the sentence, he knew that it had been the wrong thing to say.

“You fool! Whoever sent this knows who I am!” She tossed the volume onto the table and rose to pace angrily around the room, adorable stuffed lion still clamped under one arm.

Ah. That was concerning.

“You’re right,” Shirou admitted. “But I think that if they were going to use it to destroy us, they wouldn’t have started by sending you a Christmas present. Or at least not a book.”

“You’re an over-trusting fool.”

“It’s just a book.”

“It is not just anything!”

And as the two argued, Camelot: The Legacy of King Arthur and the Ideal of Just Rule lay innocently on the table.


Matou Sakura did not spin on her heel to drive one knee into the privates of the boy standing next to her so that he would be too shocked to struggle while she tore his throat out with her teeth. Shinji was a tool in more ways than the one their classmates would have said, and letting him live was honestly crueler.

Also, Senpai wouldn’t have approved.

Her ‘Grandfather’ looked up a few moments after the two of them filed into his presence and stood waiting for his word like the slaves they were. Makiri Zouken always looked like a corpse that was being dragged along by a puppeteer’s strings, but this time there was something less dead and more tired in his eyes.

He didn’t move his fingers from where they rested on an opened letter on the table next to him, merely said, “Boy. You’re changing schools. Mugen Boarding Academy. You’ll have tomorrow to pack.”

Shinji didn’t ask for an explanation - he knew better than that. “Yes, sir,” he said.

“Girl. Take your command seals back.”

That made no sense at all, and besides which...

“I don’t know how,” she said.

“Come here, Girl.”

She came, willfully ignoring the way memory conjured a familiar loathesome heat. The fact that Grandfather had changed the venue didn’t make the dance any different.

And then, like a railroad spike being drilled through her skull, it was.

The pain was such a pleasant surprise that it took her a moment to recognize what he was doing, to start assimilating the new, alien memories unfolding in her mind.

“...what...?” she asked instinctively.

“Take your command seals back,” Zouken ordered, and, automatically, she did. She could feel the faint drawing sensation - it was still pleasant, but like a caress rather than... what she had known in the past - as Berserker faded into existence at her shoulder, a towering, eyeless female figure with eagle’s talons and scaled armor like some demonic crocodile, and a waterfall of twisting, hissing vipers pouring from beneath her ‘helmet’.

The old man coughed, harsh and wracking, for nearly a full minute, before pulling himself upright. “I’ll die tonight,” he announced.

Despite themselves, and despite a decade’s mutual torture, the two adoptive siblings traded a shocked look.

“Boy. Forget about this place. Girl. It’s yours, now.”

Sakura couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Get out,” he ordered, and they got, leaving him to slowly stroke the surface of the letter that seemed to have started off so much impossibility.

“Sakura, you-” Shinji started to say, caught between his resentment and a sudden worm of fear.“I think we’ll both be better people if we forget the other exists,” she cut him off, and saw his eyes widen in shock. “If Grandfather is gone tomorrow, you’ll have the day he gave you to take out anything you want. I’ll have Berserker destroy the entire house tomorrow night.”

He gaped at her for a moment, then flinched as a slender lavender asp lifted out of the mass of the Servant’s ‘hair’ to flick a delicate tongue against his cheek. “Where will you go?” he asked.

She hadn’t even considered it.

“Home,” she said, and that was the last thing they said to each other.


Tohsaka Rin frowned at the mess her Servant had made of her workshop. “If I were you, ‘Archer’-kun,” she said, with saccharine malice, “I’d start talking. Quickly.”

Archer - forcing his real identity out of the lying bastard had been worth the command seal it had cost her, even if it had been a snap judgement - looked up from the intricate mandala he’d laid out across her ritual floor. “This will sever my connection with the World,” he said, as calmly as if that was a reasonable thing to desire. “And mean that my defeat as a Servant will be a final dissolution.”

She thought of the bundle of papers secreted in the sealed lockbox buried in the far wall of the room, and that the box it had arrived in had been large enough to contain two such.

And if Emiya-kun were a Magus enough to have tripped his way into the War, even as an amateur...

“I’ll permit it on two conditions,” she told him. “First, anything you’re going to be doing in my house and my workshop, I’m going to look over and explicitly okay, first. Second, once this is done, there won’t be any more of your secrets and agendas. You’ll devote yourself to the war and my orders - or I’ll deal both of us out myself.”

“Yes, Master,” he agreed, and brought her the papers. There weren’t as many as she had received, but they were written in the same anonymous hand as her own had been, the same dense technical style. They had the same breathtaking breadth and depth of information to them, and, checked with senses other than the merely physical, the same faint whisper of inhuman power.

For some reason, another participant in the War - one whose Servant seemed to have access to a Noble Phantasm that pulled knowledge from Akasha itself - was manipulating them, trying to bribe them. It was worrying; were they just soft, or were they playing a longer game? Was there a trap here that she just wasn’t seeing?

Rin left a corner of her mind worrying at the problem as she dove greedily into the workings of the Throne of Heroes and the World’s defenses, but ultimately it wasn’t likely to matter. Even if it was a trap, the bait was too good for any Magus to ever pass up.


It was a pity, Rin thought as she sipped her morning tea, that she wasn’t quite willing to follow through on her threat so soon after making it. Even after their deal, getting anything more than frustratingly vague platitudes out of him bore an uncanny resemblance to attempting to pull a weasel’s teeth, and-

The doorbell rang.

Rin glanced at Archer, but he was staring through the door pane in shock, so she sighed grumpily and went to get it herself.

The face standing nervously outside made her stomach turn a brutal flipflop, but she forced the longing deep out of sight in the depths of her chest and said, “Good morning, Matou-kun. To what do I owe the honor?”

“Makiri Zouken died last night,” Sakura told her, “and accordingly I wished to speak to you as the heads of our allied Families.”

That startled Rin enough to make her stare for a moment, and from inside the house, Archer said, “So you brought your Servant along to ‘talk’?”

“I brought,” Sakura said, “everything I wish to keep.”

Rin smiled, and said the polite things one did to invite a guest into one’s home temporarily, and sent the bitter hateful shadow of the young man she was coming to realize that she and her sister both loved to make them tea.

Once they returned to business, and she’d begun feeling her way around to asking why Sakura seemed to want to stay with her without giving the false impression that she was unwelcome, her sister broke her heart.

“I’d rather die than spend another night in that house,” Sakura said.

For a moment, Rin didn’t realize what that statement really meant. Then, as the implications penetrated, her heart clenched like she’d been stabbed, and she felt like she was going to be sick, though she didn’t think that her expression showed either feeling. She had known that Sakura wasn’t entirely happy with her life; it would have been hard to miss the shadows in her eyes those when the secret looks they watched each other with happened to meet in the middle, but... “...It wasn’t just that you... wanted to be somewhere else,” she said, looking down at her teacup. Her voice shook, slightly.

She forced herself to look up, and meet her little sister’s wide, shocked eyes. “I swear that that’s all that I ever thought was wrong.” The fact that her tone was all but begging for Sakura to tell her it was alright, that it wasn’t as bad as she was suddenly afraid it was, was the only thing about the entire affair she wasn’t ashamed of.

Sakura looked at her for a long moment, then lied, “It wasn’t so bad.”

Rin walked around the table to kneel next to her sister’s chair so she could throw her arms around her and hug her properly. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

Sakura raised one hand to stroke her hair, and in another circumstance it would have been hilarious that she was comforting Rin. “Sshh,” she said. “You didn’t know, and I never told you. That’s not your fault.”

That wasn’t it.

“Father wanted to send me,” Rin confessed, and Sakura’s hand stopped moving. “He said that - that a senior magus would protect his only possible heir as closely as possible, would do it better than he could.” Her throat hurt, like she was choking on something too large for it. “I told him that... that big sisters were supposed to protect little sisters.”

For a moment, Sakura just sat there, stiff and frozen, and then, tightening her own hug, she started to laugh. Rin could feel tears that weren’t her own trickling down from where Sakura’s face was pressed into her neck. “damn you, grandfather...” the younger girl whispered hoarsely.

Rin knew better than to think that that meant she herself was forgiven, but it was certainly more than she deserved. She’d make it up to her, the older sister promised silently.



There were probably a number of interesting implications to the fact that she didn’t mind having Sakura using her workshop, but in all honesty, Rin couldn’t have cared less.

She had her sister back!

Watching the familiars Sakura had inherited might make her gorge rise and fill her with the passionate urge to desecrate Makiri Zouken’s profane grave, might give horrible texture to the shadowy implications of what the younger girl had refused to say about her life in that now-ruined house, but it couldn’t blunt the thrill of that simple realization, that that quiet, long-yearned for dream that she’d never been able to stamp out of her consciousness had come true.

Granted that it had come with a thousand other complications, but -

Her heart squeezed in her chest.

- it was worth it.

“You’re... trying to change her class?” she asked out loud, tracing over the parts of the array Sakura had already laid out with her eyes and doing the math in her head.

“No,” the violet-haired girl said, making one of the usual pauses that tended to happen when a Magus was working primarily off of the skills stored in their Crest rather than their own understanding. “I haven’t done the important part yet... I’m trying to deactivate her Mad Enhancement.”

Rin blinked. “Deactivate it?” she asked.

“Berserker... Have you been having dreams?” Sakura asked. “About Archer’s life?”

Her own face, screaming, swam out of memory. “Yes.”

“I dream of hers,” her sister said. “Of where she came from, and why she became what history remembers... Turning into something she hated, to protect her own sisters as best she could. Accepting the hate of the world...”

Was she talking about Medusa or herself? Rin wondered, without thinking to ever ask.

“She died. She was free. And then Shinji and Grandfather dragged her right back into that same dark place... and, for my sake, she went. I won’t leave her there. I can’t.”

“Can I help?” Rin asked, and when Sakura looked up, smiling like she couldn’t quite believe the offer, she smiled back.

They worked side by side and almost in silence, enjoying the sensation of having the other there too much to need more than the humdrum requests for more chalk or confirming expected technical details.

The disturbing part came at the end, when power bled through the air in auroral sheets the color of blood in bad light, and Sakura’s familiars rippled their way out of her flesh to spread across the floor in sheets and writhing, ropey knots of living shadow, like black holes with shape.

Berserker’s hair thrashed as the nightmare stuff crawled up her body, but despite that the Servant made no attempt to escape, even without the lash of a Command Seal to compel her. Even after Medusa’s form had been covered in a shifting, lightless cocoon, Sakura kept chanting the Key of the spell, so Rin kept up the descant, until both of their voices were hoarse.

And then Sakura stopped, and all the light remaining in the workshop flexed, and the black nightmare covering half the room drew back into her feet like water running down a drain, leaving behind...

...A tall, beautiful woman, curled like a baby on her side and covered only by lavender hair that must have been nearly as long as she was.

“Archer,” Rin said as Sakura went to her side to make sure that the Servant was okay. “Go find Berserker some clothes.”


Saber tensed before the doorbell rang. “Shirou...” she said. “There is a Servant outside.”

He nodded. “Then be ready,” he answered, and went to answer.

“Hello, Oniisan,” their guest said from the front steps, and then threw her arms around him in a desperate hug.

“Ummm...” he said helplessly, trying to ignore the way the embrace was pressing her body - lithe, shapely, and warm against the chill of the December air - against his.

She giggled and let go, stepping back a little and letting him get his first good look at her. She was several inches shorter than him and maybe a year or three older, an albino with luminously clear skin and hair the same shade of snow-white, and deep scarlet eyes like blood. Even in a warm winter jacket, she had a good figure, and her eyes were alive with delight.

“Irisviel!?” Saber blurted behind him, and a split second after that she was at his side, resting her hands on the mysterious girl’s shoulders.

“Ilyasviel,” the guest corrected. “It’s an honor to meet you, Saber-san.”

“Ilyasviel...” Saber said softly. “...I see. I had not thought that you had survived.”

The pale girl shrugged uncomfortably and slipped one of her arms through Shirou’s, dragging him inside. “It’s a long story,” she said.

And indeed it proved to be. The first step of the explanation was Ilyasviel’s introduction of her Servant, a portly figure in red.

“Saber, Oniisan, allow me to introduce Nicholas of Myra.”

“Wait...” Shirou said, shocked.

“Father Christmas?” Saber finished, raising an eyebrow.

That figure chuckled, a deep and heartwarming sound. “Just Rider, if you’re more comfortable that way,” he told them.

“It’s thanks to him that I even know half of this,” Ilya admitted, before going through her family, the Einzberns’, longstanding efforts to regain the True Magic of the Heaven’s Feel, and how those had led to her parents’ meeting and their participation in the previous Grail War... and to Emiya Kiritsugu’s betrayal of his employers by destroying the Grail rather than attempting to claim it, leading to his isolation from her...

“That’s where he always went!” Shirou exclaimed, slamming one fist into the opposite palm. “I always wondered what could be so important, when he was weaker every time he came back...”

...and her own longing for the father she’d never been able to meet.

“I was incredibly jealous of you, Oniisan,” she told him with a grin. “I wanted to pin you to the wall like a butterfly.”

“Not anymore, I hope?” Shirou answered, trying not to sweat too obviously.

“Now that I know it wasn’t your fault, I’d much rather you were pinning me.”

...He couldn’t possibly have heard that right.

Shirou gave Rider a sidelong glance, and, thinking back to that embarrassing package, realized he probably had.


Rin stared at the note pinned up on the church door and ran through every foul word she knew.

At her side, Sakura used one mittened hand to pin the paper in place so she could read it. “I thought you said that the priest here was supposed to be the War’s administrator?”

“He is,” the older sister hissed.

“Then why did he leave? He had to have known that he’d be needed here.”

Vocabulary exhausted, Rin slumped and leaned her be-toque’d head against the heavy wooden portal. “Who knows, with that creep.”

“You know him?”

“He’s the one who signs the paperwork the government won’t take from me. Which means no, not really. He never even told me he had a daughter, much less one that’d put up with having him visit her.”

“...I see.” Sakura waited a moment before asking, “What now?”

“...Now, we have to start by talking to the other Masters ourselves,” Rin said.

“Senpai first?”

“He’ll jump right at it, if we can avoid getting gutted by that Servant of his.”

“She’s aggressive?”

“She takes the War as seriously as it should be,” Rin answered, and then started to explain how she had stumbled across the pair and received her cue to summon Archer as the two sisters started to walk home again.


With the Monitor unavailable, the closest thing to neutral ground the four masters could get to was a public park by the riverside, lit by streetlights.

Ilyasviel perched on the bench, legs crossed delicately as she enjoyed the view of the waterway’s far shore, golden electric fire reflecting off the rippling surface in long streaks. Shirou sat at the opposite end, looking - if she did say so herself - adorable in the ushanka she’d given him, with Saber apparently indifferent to the cold except for the fur-lined cloak wrapped around her as she sat between them. Rider, as had been agreed over the phone, was insubstantial, lurking around hidden in the nearby shadows.

The overlook had six benches, three next to the bottom walkway and three more behind and slightly higher, where Ilya and her people had chosen to settle.

Tohsaka’s ally proved to be the violet-haired girl that had shown up in most of her brother’s more recent pictures - in short, a rival in more than the war.

Well, that was fine. She wouldn’t be much of a sister or a lover if she kept him from having other friends once her place was assured.

Sakura had been her name, and she took a seat on the bench next to theirs, right across from Shirou. Tohsaka sat on the bench directly in front of that, turned sideways to face her and Shirou. The Servant that they’d brought - not the tall male Archer that Shirou had described, but an athletic, beautiful woman nearly as tall, who wore dark glasses and carried a white cane to go with her mortal disguise and sat on the bench in front of Saber without turning her head to look back at them.

“You’re not very worried about being betrayed,” Ilyasviel observed as an opener.

“An Einzbern would, but Emiya-kun wouldn’t,” Tohsaka observed, with an amused irony that cut like a blade. “And it’s fairly obvious that he has the same hold on you as he does on both of us, so I’m not worried about it happening while he’s here.”

Ilya felt the corner of her eye twitch, but she declined to rise to the bait. “Well, since we’re here, I might as well start. I’ve learned that the Holy Grail has been corrupted, infected with a malevolent force which twists its execution of any wish into the most tormenting and destructive form possible.”

Tohsaka smiled a little wider. “That matches my own observations, yes.”

The homunculus forbade herself to grit her teeth. Rider’s generosity might be useful at times, but there was still such a thing as being too free with things. She’d told him to give Tohsaka only enough to confirm things, but here she was...

“Therefore, for a number of different reasons, it seems wise to disassemble and restart the ritual. With both you and I arguing for it and prepared to reinstate the ritual, it should be possible to persuade the Makiri representative to agree, allowing us to exercise the fundamental control spells for that purpose.”

Sakura piped up, “I would consent, but...”

Tohsaka filled in the second half of the statement. “That won’t work.”

“I was coined with the memories of my line,” Ilya said, frosty in spite of her internal admonitions to be reasonable. “I assure you that the control spells-”

Tohsaka raised a hand to interrupt her, more or less politely. “If the system had not been damaged, you would be entirely correct,” she said. “But my own tests indicate that the corruption has spread to the enforcement and defense mechanisms, as well as the final execution protocols.”

Ilya stopped.

Tohsaka kept going. “If we’re going to stop this, we’re going to first need to defeat all three Special Servants, Saver, Ruler, and Avenger, then actively cancel the energy already present in the Grail System. I believe that between the four - eight - of us, we have the tools necessary to do so, but it will not be as simple as merely executing the proper protocols.”

Shirou, who was an idiot even if she loved him, smiled. “Just as I thought. The Tohsaka-san from school is also a real Tohsaka-san.”

Saber looked pained, and past her, Ilyasviel could see her rival blushing.

She had gotten what she thought she wanted out of the night, it looked like, but it looked like some very inconvenient interference had come along with it.


If Senpai had been wise, he’d certainly have turned away from the touch of anything so polluted as herself.

If he had known to.

But he didn’t, and, for all that for years he’d been the only thing that made her life worth the living, he wasn’t wise.

Sakura smiled at his back. He was walking in front of her, next to Berserker as she was next to Saber.

She shouldn’t want him, shouldn’t want to run her hands over the smooth clean planes of him, any more than she wanted to run them -


- over the sinuous serpent-curves walking next to him, shouldn’t want to stain them, spread herself all over them, drag them into that familiar musky bittersweet dark she could feel in her soul even after the actual room was gone anyway.

Oh, how she did anyway.

Behind her, Oneesan and the Einzbern’s whispering got a little louder, finally breaking the threshold she could hear even though she doubted either intended her to.

“What’s your price, then?” the latter asked.

“Emiya-kun will make his own choices, I don’t doubt. But as far as you and I are concerned, Sakura has the first right of refusal.”

...what? What did her sister just say?

“He’s my brother,” the pale girl snapped irritably.

“And if you want my help, the only way he’ll be your lover is if Sakura allows it.”

“What about you, then?”

“I’ve already hurt her far too much to do it again, even for him.”

Oh, foolish, kind Rin...

Sakura let her gaze rest on Berserker’s bottom, to crowd out other images, equally sweet, from imagination and from what should have been innocent memory.

“Your sister doesn’t know you very well,” Saber observed next to her, as the trailing magi’s conversation subsided past intelligibility again.

“She knows what I choose,” Sakura answered, in an undertone even the Servant’s inhuman ears would have to strain to pick up. “And I choose not to show her what I want.”

“Why not?”

“It would hurt her.”

“I see.”

And neither of them said anything more until they came to the annihilated ruin of the house that had been Shirou’s home and Sakura’s refuge.


“Shirou,” Saber said, in warning, slipping forward and into a guard position between the vulnerable Masters and the rising golden power she could sense behind the ruined house.

“Another Servant,” Berserker added, settling in at the swordswoman’s shoulder as both of them triggered the burst of mana needed to reassert their fighting gear over the mundane clothing that they’d adopted.

“No Servant am I, but a King,” declared the tall, lean man stalking out of the ashes. Even in the nighttime moonlight, he gleamed yellow-gold, save for the red flush of rage suffusing his face. “And I am sorely wroth.”

“Hello, Archer,” Saber said as two tall masculine figures faded into existence flanking her and Berserker. “Shouldn’t you be dead by now? It’s been more than a decade, apparently.”

The golden Archer ignored her, instead tearing off his helmet to throw at Rider. “YOU!”

“Me,” Rider answered, shining blue eyes hard and cold and alien beneath his bushy white brows.

“Did you think,” hissed the strange Servant, “that you could steal from I, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and escape my justice?”

Rider regarded his enemy dispassionately. “Yes, the children are fine,” he said, “They’re settling into their new lives quite happily.”

“BE DAMNED TO THE PULING BRATS!” Gilgamesh shouted, then dragged himself momentarily back to something resembling poise. “Rest assured that I shall extract the full measure of your appointed punishment for you-”

“Archer,” Rin interrupted.

“Yes, Rin?” the man in red answered, using a curved silver shortsword to knock the flying shape of a needle-pointed rapier from its course for the young Magus’s throat.

Rin ignored the whistle of the wickedly sharp point as it spun past her ear. “This one, I think,” she said, “is not small fry.”

“No, he isn’t,” the tall man rumbled back, and started to walk forward. “I am the bone of my sword...”

Gilgamesh raised an eyebrow. “Well, if there’s filth stupid enough to interfere, why not wash it away?”

“Steel is my body and fire is my blood.”

A second flying sword - this time aimed at Archer himself - was chopped out of the air.

“I have created over a thousand blades.”

“You...” Gilgamesh snarled as a shimmering distortion yawned wide in the sky above and behind him.

“Unknown to death, nor known to life.”

And then it rained blades. “...Are no longer amusing!”

“Have withstood pain to create many weapons.”

Archer suited deed to word, calling and recreating dozens of copies of his chosen weapons as he carved his way through the storm.

“And yet, these hands will never hold anything.”

A muscle twitched at the corner of Gilgamesh’s eye, and he drew forth yet another weapon, this one a sinister black lance, traced in glowing blood-red circuits. “Very well, then I-”

“So, as I pray...”

Archer threw aside his swords and lunged, smiling savagely at the ancient king’s suddenly startled expression from a distance of about six inches.

“Unlimited Blade Works.”

And both of them vanished into thin air.


The Gate of Babylon yawned wide overhead, a golden sky yawning against the distant grinding gears, while below the sea of swords churned, rising blade-up like grey and rusted grass that rippled in the wind.

A moment later, the rain began, a thousand legends snatched out of the air by their own mirrors swirling as though caught in a dust devil, until a black and scarlet figure was spat out, rising like a rocket towards the golden mote at the eye of the falling shower.

Gilgamesh sneered. "Scum, you should have hid!"

In his hands, Ea roared, scarlet light swallowing the world like the tide rising in reverse.

From below, like a single silver thread woven into a crimson blanket, Fragerach answered.


By the time the deep, surging drain on Rin’s mana reserves stopped, the others had bundled her into Shirou’s arms and were most of the way up the hill to her family’s house. That had been enough to somewhat dull the sting of losing her Servant, but it didn’t do anything to ease the problem that they would now need to be in four places at once, any of which could lead to fighting a Servant far more powerful than any intended to be summoned in the War... with only three Servants of their own.

Which, almost a week of planning and preparations later, put them here, on the evening of December the twenty-fourth. When the Grail ritual had first been created, intricate mandalas had been laid across the entire landscape of Fuyuki in great interlocking rings to focus all the land’s energy into the single, critical central point. Those rings came together at three more points, the anchors of the War and the mechanisms that supported it - and they had been designed with protections, protections now corrupted.

“Are you ready?” she asked in the dim silver moonlight.

“Rider and I are,” Ilyasviel answered.

“Yes, ‘Neechan, and Berserker too,” Sakura said.

“Just a moment,” was Shirou’s response, and he pulled out a long red scarf, and began to loop it around his neck.

“...You can’t seriously think that that thing makes you some kind of sentai hero, can you?” Rin asked.

Shirou grinned back at her mischievously, then lifted it over his mouth and nose, closed his eyes, and focused for a moment - a moment that ended in a flash of mint-toned light, leaving him clad in close-fitting black armor. A second flash of light dropped a pair of very familiar blades into his gauntleted hands.

“Saber and I are both ready now,” he said.

Rin stared for a moment. “...Apparently it does,” she said. “How the hell did you do that?”

“It’s... part of how my magic works. I can borrow skills from objects, sometimes.”

“Your reality marble records their impressions, you mean.” Really, something so difficult to create that its very research was forbidden, and an amateur idiot just stumbled onto a natural one. Where was justice.

“Er... yeah.”

“Anyway. It’s time to-”

Something roared, and then things happened very quickly.

“What-” Rin started to ask, when Shirou interrupted by brushing past her and calling forth a Noble Phantasm the strobed in mystic light as a great black-and-gold Beast rammed into it headlong and fangs-first.

Whatever Artifact he had used flared and threw the monster back, most of the way across the otherwise nondescript clearing on the heights overlooking Fuyuki.

Ilyasviel shouted something in a language Rin didn’t speak, and sent the most incredible torrent of blinding azure light after it, not a proper spell but a raw and unfocused wave of pure prana. As attacks went, doing that was hardly efficient, but it was quicker than a properly chanted spell... And on that kind of scale, ‘efficiency’ wasn’t any bar to effectiveness. Rin herself couldn’t have dreamed of channeling a tenth as much power as that.

She was, after all, human, as Ilya was not.

Those reflections took place in a distant corner of Rin’s mind; most of her attention was devoted to chanting her own spell, and adjusting her timing so that the coruscating waterfall of every color of light plummeted out of the empty sky...

...Just in time to hammer the monster into the rising grasp of a swarm of gelatinous black tentacles, veined in dark and throbbing purple light.

Only when Sakura’s spell had drawn the trap closed and pinned the monster in place could she get a good look at it, a sinister, reptilian-looking thing with a long thrashing tail and taloned paws on its four feet, and seven heads, three with paired horns like an antelope’s and no eyes and four with single horns like a rhino’s and four staring snake eyes. All of them had great jagged mouths full of ragged teeth like a crocodile’s.

Except for the eyes, and the bleeding wounds that she and Ilya had opened in its flesh, both shining gold, the entire thing was drawn in shades of matte and gloss black, almost invisible in the moonlight.

“Seven heads, and ten horns...” Sakura whispered from just behind her.

And at the base of each horn blazed a golden ring, spiked almost like a crown.

“Servant Avenger,” Rin named it. “The Beast From The Sea.”


“Welcome to the Masque of Monsters, oh thou Queen of Scales and Beauty!”

Berserker looked up at the Servant that had called out to her, then mounted the towering boulder that marked her share of the three anchor points of the Grail’s supporting ritual in a single bound.

She did not speak.

“Oh? Not even a kind word for a fellow damned soul?” her opposite number asked, laying one hand over his heart in a mime of pain. He was a tall man, with broad shoulders and strong, predatory features under a ragged mane of silver hair.

She rather thought that he was mad.

“But I forget,” he continued regretfully, “you will not understand, lost in the taste of blood and-”
“I understand you very well,” she interrupted. “Saver.”

Saver laughed, a deep, sepulchral cackle, and drew a jagged spear from beneath his cloak. “Why, then we shall have the finest of dances, shall we not, my lovely one?”

She ignored her fellow servant’s babbling and charged, catching the lance’s blade in one gauntleted fist with a screech of metal on metal and dragging it out of line when he thrust it at her. Her other hand seized the shaft almost touching the first of his, and she heaved, trusting in inhuman strength to tear the weapon free of his hands.

Instead, he let her pull him off his feet, swinging his legs up and pivoting around the weapon to plant both armored soles into her helmet’s faceplate.

She staggered, of course, and felt the impact of a second spear against her gorget. If she’d still been mortal or anything resembling it, she’d probably have been choking and gagging.

“Well done!” Saver cheered. “Your passion to defeat me is beautiful, but-”

She punched him in the mouth.

He laughed again, approvingly. “It’s rude to interrupt someone when-”

She tried to kick him between the legs, but he dodged with a yelp.

“That, however,” Saver said, roughly handsome features distorted by a snarl, “was quite enough.”

That, she let herself reply to. “Are you going to stop playing games now?”

“What else is love and war? But I suppose you would not know, tied by your terror to your calm and rationality.”

This time he was done talking when she got her hands on him, seizing his shoulders and ramming her helmet into his face. “You talk too much.”

He tossed her off with a boot in the stomach, laughing. “THEN LET US WAR, IN ALL OUR BLOOD AND ALL OUR GLORY!” he shouted, and threw out a hand. “BEHOLD! THE FORTRESS OF IMPALEMENT!”

And then, above and below her, on every side and for as far as the eye could see, there were spears.

Behind her visor, Medusa’s cursed eyes narrowed. So this was the man history knew as ‘The Impaler’.


The man that Saber found sprawled on the couch under the jeweled pavilion filling what should have been an empty field was tall and broad-shouldered, with a heavy powerful frame made still heavier by the added flesh of too much rich living. He laughed when he saw her, slanted eyes squeezing shut in his round, moonlike face, and his teeth gleamed through his goatee and mustachios as he sneered. “This is the famed hero they send against me?” he demanded. “This slip of a girl?”

“A dagger may cut as keenly as a sword,” she answered calmly, “and well I know it.”

“And you would have me believe in the keen edge of a failure?” the Ruler demanded. “A weak-willed incompetent who couldn’t keep her own throne?”

“A failure of leadership,” Saber pointed out, “is not a failure of arms.”

Ruler had expected his assault to shake her confidence, and finding her unmoved by his barbs shook his own equilibrium in return. He covered it with bluster, springing to his feet and growling, “And neither are you a god, to face an army alone.”

She cocked her head slightly and smiled, a quiet, threatening little smile. “Am I alone?” she asked.

“Alone, forsaken - everything you might have called on slipped through your fingers while you still drew breath, Arturia Pendragon!”

“So I thought,” Saber agreed, and took a single step forward, still smiling. “As I lay dying, with my kingdom overthrown, I despaired. I had wasted my strength, I had kept foolish secrets, I had failed those that trusted me. I ruled neither wisely nor well.”

“I know your story, of a cuckold and weakling that knew not the way to master men.”

“And yet, now, I wonder... Tell me, Ruler, why did you take up a crown?”

“Because there is no order but what men make! Because I had the will, and there were none with the strength to gainsay me!” he boasted back.

“And even in death, your people follow you because they must.” Saber’s smile widened slightly. “I chose a different law. I became ‘king’ to protect my people, to make myself a willing sacrifice for them.”

“And won them nothing but pain,” Ruler accused.

“And won them nothing but pain, or so I thought. But if I worked for no glory but the love of them, as the holy shepherd enjoined, is it so strange that even those vainglorious, foolish knights should love in return?”

“Love? Love?” Ruler shook his head. “Is this the shape of your folly? The King exists to rule!” he thundered, “To bring order where there is chaos! Where there is order there is stability, there is progress - there the evils of man are cut short! And you call yourself a King!”

“And if they answer, I’ll be right,” she said, and reached insider herself, through Shirou, to the endless power of possibility that Rin had forged. “One of your own countrymen said it. ‘Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.’”

“And when they do not?” Ruler asked, leadingly, threateningly, as he raised his own sword and an army’s dust rose behind him and reality began to splinter and section the two Servants off into their own private corner of existence. “Will you fight alone, unsupported, unremembered, unloved, all for the sake of pride?”

Saber kept smiling, and didn’t move her hands from where they rested, on the pommel of Excalibur grounded point-first in the earth before her. “For justice’s sake? If I must.”

Ruler shook his head in mocking disbelief. “The arrogance of you... Then let us see how a lone woman fares against The Million Spears of Qin!”

The arrows of the army’s archers rose like smoke to block out the sun, and came back down like a flood with fangs of siege engines’ spears.

Coolly, Arturia lifted Excalibur from its rest and stepped a little to the right, letting the most accurate of the larger missiles pass by her smooth cheek with mere inches to spare.

An armored hand, smoking like a warm lake on a cold winter’s morning, reached over to catch the missile out of the air and spin it into a whriling shield that swatted down an entire swathe of falling arrows. “I’m not such a fool as to abandon my liege twice,” Lancelot said.

From her other side, Gawain said, “‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’ and which among us did not fail you many times, before the end as at it?”

A hand fell on her shoulder to squeeze reassuringly, and she turned her head to see Bedivere’s smile, as familiar as a brother’s. “And even if not, how could we not forgive our King and comrade?”

“Weaklings!” thundered Qin Shi Huang Di as his army rushed towards the King and her Knights like the tide coming up the beach. “Puling cowards! What kind of dog licks the hand of-”

A roar of golden fury interrupted the emperor’s rage, searing an arrow-straight path across the field and smashing aside the thousands of soldiers in its path before the last attenuated dregs were knocked aside by a guard’s desperate, suicidal dive just short of his Ruler’s palanquin. “Keep your tyrant’s tongue between your teeth,” Gawain snapped.

“Better yet,” Lancelot suggested, “let’s still it for you.”

“Let’s,” Arturia agreed, and led the Knights of the Round Table - her knights - into the charge.

The front rank, baked-clay faced grim beneath helmets of the same color, set themselves with overlapping rows of spearpoints, trying to present the Knights’ shorter weapons with no vulnerable target to attack. Excalibur, well named, could cut through mundane steel with ease, and barely noticed the wooden shafts behind the spearpoints. Three slashes opened the way and then she was into the army’s ranks.

She shouldered one man aside - heard the brittle crash as Lancelot brought him down - and sheared the man behind him in half in a fountain of dust before ducking under the reaching arms of the third rank to stab a soldier in the fourth through the neck. Behind him one of the Qin soldiers had tripped, fallen to his knees, and she could see despair in his face as he tried to pick his spear up out of the dust already spilled across the ground.

Behind her, she could hear the sounds of battle - screams and shouts and the ringing of blades and the crash of impacts on armor and the hungry wolf-howl of Sir Marrok’s animal rage - as the wedge of knights behind her followed in her wake and pried the army’s ranks open like an axe blade.

She set one foot on the fallen soldier’s arm and the other on his shoulder, and vaulted up to the shoulders of the one behind him to leap and smash feet-first into the next rank’s faces, riding them down and stepping forward again to slaughter her way past the four ranks behind them and then she was out into the open, and able to raise her head and meet Ruler’s eyes.

He gestured a command with the feathered fan in his hand, but she ignored the marshalling reserves and broke into a run, charging across the churned ground.

His guards met her, or tried to, piling around her with perfect coordination, leaving each other just enough room to swing their twin broad falchions. Even for her, being encircled would be deadly, so she feinted ahead and then went right, Excalibur shearing through her target’s blocking swords and lopping off one of their wielder’s forearms in the bargain, then opening his ribcage to the spine on the backstroke and then she was past him even as he started to crumble away and ducking under the next one’s blow to impale him through the heart.

The guard beside them scythed one blade down at her neck, and she stepped around it as she pulled her own weapon free and broke his neck with a murderous blow of the pommel then reversed the weapon to relieve the next arrival of his head and shear the fifth in half vertically before Lancelot and Bedivere slammed into the remainder from the rear.

“You’re still far too reckless,” the latter scolded, and she laughed and turned to face Ruler.

“Shall we duel, Qin Shi Huang Di?” she asked, more seriously.

Ruler snarled a foul oath and snatched his own sword from its sheath and began to slash it at the air in front of him, leaving trails of light floating in the air behind its tip.

“My King, it’s a spell!” Sir Bedivere shouted, starting to step forward to help. She waved him away, and launched herself out of the way of the deafening, blinding thunderbolt that followed a moment later. Even before the glare had faded she landed and threw herself forward.

Ruler’s eyes bulged, seeing that she had survived, and he slashed at the air a second time, forming a different character that breathed a torrent of flame that she cleaved apart and charged through, ignoring the residual tongues of flame that licked at her armor.

The third spell was wind, a hammering gale with teeth of razored ice, and she had to set her feet and drop to one knee with a hand dug into the earth to keep from being blown away. With her other hand she raised her sword- “EX-”

Panic stole across Ruler’s face, and there was an abrupt resurrection of the sounds of conflict as the soldiers of the Terracotta Army once again tried to throw themselves at her.


And golden light ate the winds and their master alike.


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
Enjoyable... but I watched the 2012 addition to the 'Silent Night' horror franchise within 48 hours... so now I wonder if Rider torched a german castle with a flamethrower.

The sky was full of ten thousand spears, and they were coming for her.

Medusa dodged three, swatted aside a fourth. Dodged two more, working her way steadily towards where Saver -


An avalanche fell on the back of her head, driving her to her knees, and she rolled to the side, out of the way of the killing blow that would have followed.

“Is this the best you can do, Queen of Scales?” Vlad asked, staring down at her in disappointment. “Look at you, scrabbling through the dust like a pathetic creature of meat and bone.”

This time, she caught the first spear to fly at her and flung it after him as he vanished from in front of her to reappear across the field.

“Panting and sweating as you run through my garden. How can you challenge a perfect immortal monster?”

Gritting her teeth, she tore the barbed spear that had buried itself in her thigh free and advanced again.

“‘The hero must!’ your heart cries, and throw yourself forward, standing like a proud woman!”

This time she followed his motion, barely, and slammed an elbow into his throat a moment after he finished hissing, “Coward.”

“You can shut up any time,” she suggested, and barely missed getting her hands around his throat before a volley of flying spears forced her away from pursuing him so closely.

“But what kind of host would I be if I left you wanting, confused, ignorant?” Saver laughed, and then she was dodging too hard to listen to his drivel, spear after spear flying at her, filling the air around her.

“You will fail!” Saver told her as one, forked and then twisted around itself, buried itself in the ground and trapped one of her feet between its tines.

“The world will burn!” Another flying missile glanced off of the armor protecting her calf, and in the process all but tore the limb out from under her and spilled her onto that knee.

“Your Mistress will die!” She caught the third spear and threw it away.

“And all because you were too afraid of yourself, of your own strength!” When she looked back up it was just in time for her foe to seize her wrists with what she could easily recognize as the strength of madness and hold them forced away from both their bodies.

“How does that make you feel?!” Saver cried down at her, and Medusa leaned her helmeted face close to his neck.

Hungry,” she answered, and fastened the jaws of the serpents pouring from her helm on every portion of his flesh that they could reach.

Saver laughed, and tore himself free, leaving bloodied gouges all across his body that healed even as he spoke. "Better. That's marvelous, really. You've taken a very important step! But now.. a monster can beat a man... but how does a monster defeat another monster?"

She ignored his babbling and charged, moving, now, more quickly that she’d previously been capable of, catching the single spear he managed to get on target and snapping it between massive brass talons a split-second before the other set slashed through the space where Saver’s ribcage had been.

The bats completely filled her vision for a moment, and the squeaking horde fled to coalesce back together into the laughing, bloodied figure of her enemy, fangs glinting in his grin. “You’ll have to do better than that,” he said, even as his face began to lengthen and his limbs shifted and flowed into a different form, and the second half of the sentence came from the muzzle of a wolf six feet at the shoulder. “Here, let me show you!”

The mass of the form he was wearing bowled her over, even with her increasing strength, and pinned her to the earth as he snaked those great jaws down to fasten onto her head and shake viciously.  She could feel something strain in her neck, and the black metal of the armor cracked horribly under the assault, until she hooked her tail under his stomach and flung him away with a convulsive thrash.

She followed in a flash of scattered earth, landing atop his tumbled form with one taloned arm raised high to plunge the massive claws down and through -

- into the dirt as his body once again dissolved into the chiropteran swarm and fluttered out of the way. 

This time she was half expecting it, and her serpentine hair flashed out, each strand swinging after a frantically evading target, sinking venomous fangs into every one they could catch.

When he pulled himself back together again, Saver looked distinctly ragged, almost ill, clutching at his chest as though pained, and many more bloody marks stained his skin and clothing beneath the cape. “Magnificent!” he cried, even so, as the wounds closed, “truly this is the hunger that Grey-Eyed Pallas Athene felt called to fear! Yes, by this shall you truly become the Master’s weapon!”

She ignored his rambling and reached up to sink razor-tipped talons into the breathing slits of her helmet, then tore it asunder as she settled back onto her tail - rapidly growing into a serpentine body longer and heavier than the rest of her - and raised and twisted her legs to present their great scimitar claws as rending weapons in their own right.

“Yessss...” Saver whispered, hardened grey stone dust creeping along his skin and hair, a moment before she launched herself at him. “Just like that, just a little more-”

Again, she sprang forwards, as quick as a serpent’s strike. This time, knowing the writhing nest of snakes flowing down from her head as forewarned, he dissolved even further, into mist.

Mist that, caught in the terrible gaze of Medusa’s legend, had no resistance to her Eye, and collapsed rapidly back into first a fall of dust and then into the supine, paralyzed form of Vlad III.

She leaned over his body, larger arms and smaller braced on either side, and looked into the still-conscious eyes, filling with realization.

“A monster,” she said, “defeats another monster by outwitting it.”

And then she opened her mouth to finish it.


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
This is magnificent, V. Do continue.
Sucrose Octanitrate.
Proof positive that with sufficient motivation, you can make anything explode.
I can only quote Marvin the Paranoid android here... 'What a depressingly stupid machine.' ... tool that he was.
I'm putting it up to Grail Mud depleting his wisdom score there... or him being basically conditionally suicidal like his Hellsing counter part.
Then again I'm thinking that Medusa was thinking the same way as I am... though she really missed the opportunity by not saying 'By thinking like a man' in response to how does a monster kill a monster.

Shirou fought the urge to clap his hands over his ears. It wouldn’t have blocked out the six-voiced howl that the Beast sent up as it shrieked out the agony of having a head and neck forcibly removed by a suicidally overcharged noble phantasm - he could feel the notes resonating up through his bones.

Instead, he let the jeweled dagger at his waist take the load as his body’s circuits strained, tried to focus through the noise, to visualize the blade, long and wasp-waisted, with letters in no human tongue marching up the fuller, dark against the metal’s purple sheen...

“Watch out!” Sakura shouted, and then what felt like a flash flood knocked him flying. He tucked and rolled and came back up and saw that the Beast was free again, golden blood smoking and burning the grass and earth under its claws to sick black mud. Sakura’s rush of violet-veined power had thrown him out of the way of its first charge, but the Beast tore at the ground and bellowed after him, its nearest head snaking eyelessly, jagged jaws gaping wider than his own height as though to swallow the one that had wounded it whole.

Shirou dived forward, under the head’s motion, and seized Arondight in both hands, swinging the heavy sword with all his strength to bite deeply into the neck passing beside him even as he spun away from the spray of molten poison that served the Beast for blood and the thrashing of its amputated stump.

Across the clearing, he saw one of the Beast’s heads dive into a flowing dome of violet-veined shadow, black fluid crawling and clinging as it spread up the monster’s neck and golden boils began to erupt from below the liquid surface - boils that were, in turn, filled in by thin but rapidly thickening threads of darker purple as corruption and consumption struggled against each other.

Another reared high above the battle, poised to come down like a hammer, but was pierced through by a flashing streak of mulicolored light - a streak that was followed a moment later by another, and another, and a hundred more, riddling the black menace of it like a machine gun chewing apart a demonstration target. When the stump finally fell to earth, bleeding gold, Rin raised one index finger to her lips and blew across it.

The fourth of the remaining heads struck at Ilya, standing rooted in one place and lit by the azure glow of gathering power. A few feet away, its strike was pre-empted by her release of the energy she’d summoned, a thundering torrent of mystic might that momentarily turned night into day and rose into the distant sky like a beacon without the slightest concern for any mere piece of legendary monster that might have happened to be in the way. The blast was so intense that it didn’t merely remove the Beast’s offending cranium, but also cauterized the wound so deeply that not a single drop of gold leaked out of the charred ash.

Ilya smirked at Rin, and started to say something, some taunt, but Shirou wasn’t able to hear what it was because that was the point at which the Beast’s tail caught him and knocked him into the air for one of the heads to snap out of the air-

Ilyasviel screamed and threw a blast of azure fire that, less prepared than her previous strike, merely splashed off of the Beast’s scales-

Rin fired, once, missed, again, barely nicked the neck of the head coming towards him, ran out of time-

A great wet rope of liquid purple blackness unfurled and stretched towards him, racing to pull him out of the way of those jaws, and losing-

Arondight Broke in his hands, and he cast the twisted blade like a javelin.

The gleaming point found the inner right of that head’s four gleaming eyes, and punched through it, into the skull - terrible brilliance lit the other three, and the gaping mouth, from within, as the releasing energies of the Phantasm’s destruction burned away everything they could reach, delayed only slightly by immortal bone and scale - and then out the back in an explosion of gold and lavender.

A moment later, the gentle grasp of Sakura’s magic had snatched him out of the air and into her arms. “Don’t scare me like that!” she scolded, and a moment later his already aching ribs protested still harder as Ilya piled on from the other side.

“This really isn’t the-” time, he started to say, and cut off with an involuntary shout as the last head of the Beast struck down to devour the three of them and Rin as well in a single bite.

There was no time for him to form Rho Ais again, Ilya had her back to it, Sakura’s black oil was rising but too slowly-

Rin stepped in front of them and, smirking, tossed something tiny and glittering into the monster’s maw.

He had just enough time to see the magical explosion begin to blow the last head apart before the splattering tide of gold and black poured all over the four of them.


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
This is kind of awesome. I can see places where it might be inaccessible to people who didn't have a previous understanding of the franchise (I personally had very little idea of what was going on in the "Souichirou-sama" scene until I looked it up), but the premise is superb, and the execution is plenty good to carry it., I guess rider was the one who din't wind up in a fight? Given that, and the fact that his rider incarnation really *has* to have some sort of a noble phantasm based on being around the world in the blink of an eye, I'd think he'd be showing up to provide fire support to somebody as soon as he realized that he was the odd man out.

Seems like he might make a decent Caster too, with elf and reindeer summons, item crafting, and a bit more juice in the divinations

It's a shame that Saber didn't actually read the book she'd been given - might have given her a fair bit more debate ammo, and would have been a nice use of Chekov.
Rider has his own battle to fight, and it's on schedule for tomorrow.

Saber did read her gift - otherwise she'd never have thought to attempt to use the Round Table phantasm that I'm personally certain she's always had access to. It's just that she's... not much of a debater, so to speak.

"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
Well, okay - but "you were an utter failure as a ruler and everything you fought for was destroyed while you yet lived" felt like it almost cried out for some response along the lines of "I became an icon of just rule that lasted for centuries." even if only in passing.
Valles Wrote:Rider has his own battle to fight, and it's on schedule for tomorrow.

Saber did read her gift - otherwise she'd never have thought to attempt to use the Round Table phantasm that I'm personally certain she's always had access to. It's just that she's... not much of a debater, so to speak.
Saber only has access to NPs that she had on her death"bed", as she was summoned from there, not from the Throne of Heroes.  That's why she doesn't come equipped with Avalon, or Caliburn, or her spear Rhongomyniad, for example.  The Knights of the Round Table weren't present when she was summoned, so she couldn't have that as a Noble Phantasm when Shirou summoned her, unless something is significantly different about her situation from canon.
Stand between the Silver Crystal and the Golden Sea.
"Youngsters these days just have no appreciation for the magnificence of the legendary cucumber."  --Krityan Elder, Tales of Vesperia.
Sirrocco Wrote:Well, okay - but "you were an utter failure as a ruler and everything you fought for was destroyed while you yet lived" felt like it almost cried out for some response along the lines of "I became an icon of just rule that lasted for centuries." even if only in passing.

Well, it's still Saber - as far as she's concerned, he's right. She's just gotten enough of a perspective to realize that 1, nobody else would be likely to've done any better, and 2, she did accomplish something worthwhile, worth keeping, even if it wasn't technically what she'd set out to do. But that's really none of his business.


Actually, I just couldn't think of anything that was both a suitable retort and something I could picture her saying, but let's go with the excuse.

Jorlem Wrote:
Saber only has access to NPs that she had on her death"bed", as she was summoned from there, not from the Throne of Heroes.  That's why she doesn't come equipped with Avalon, or Caliburn, or her spear Rhongomyniad, for example.  The Knights of the Round Table weren't present when she was summoned, so she couldn't have that as a Noble Phantasm when Shirou summoned her, unless something is significantly different about her situation from canon.
So, first, fuck Yuku and its broken quote functions. Seriously.

Anyway. It's well established that the power of belief distorts the abilities, appearance, and even behavior of the Servants. I don't think that a technicality like details of the timeline would stand between Saber and the single most fundamental point of her entire legend, especially given that other parts of it include the idea that King Arthur is 1, not dead but dreaming, and 2, that when 'he' rises again the Round Table will follow him.

Besides, as much as I do like to explore consequences, this is ultimately a crackfic, and readers are advised not to look at any given aspect too hard.

"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
Valles Wrote:
Jorlem Wrote:
Saber only has access to NPs that she had on her death"bed", as she was summoned from there, not from the Throne of Heroes.  That's why she doesn't come equipped with Avalon, or Caliburn, or her spear Rhongomyniad, for example.  The Knights of the Round Table weren't present when she was summoned, so she couldn't have that as a Noble Phantasm when Shirou summoned her, unless something is significantly different about her situation from canon.
So, first, fuck Yuku and its broken quote functions. Seriously.

Anyway. It's well established that the power of belief distorts the abilities, appearance, and even behavior of the Servants. I don't think that a technicality like details of the timeline would stand between Saber and the single most fundamental point of her entire legend, especially given that other parts of it include the idea that King Arthur is 1, not dead but dreaming, and 2, that when 'he' rises again the Round Table will follow him.

Besides, as much as I do like to explore consequences, this is ultimately a crackfic, and readers are advised not to look at any given aspect too hard.
The power of belief can do that, once they've reached the Throne.  Arturia is being summoned from while she was still alive, so there wouldn't have been a chance for her to be altered by what was said about her later.  (And she's not going to the Throne in any case, she's going to go to Avalon.)  And at the time of her summoning, the Round Table was broken.  Galahad and Gawain were dead, and Lancelot, who was the most loyal, the 'ideal knight' to her 'ideal king', had committed treason.
And in any case, it was explicitly stated in the light novel of Fate/Zero that Arturia doesn't have the Knights of the Round Table as a NP:
Quote:Fate/Zero: Volume 2 wrote:

...Even the horse of the King of Conquerors became an Heroic Spirit.
Apart from shock and admiration, everyone was speechless. Even
Archer, who also possessed a rank EX Noble Phantasm, was utterly silent
after seeing such a radiant army.

These heroes rode alongside their king on the battlefield; their wager, like the king’s, was the king’s dream.

Not even death could stop their ending loyalty. The King of Conquerors turned it into a fitting Noble Phantasm.

Saber was shaken to her core. It wasn’t the strength of the Noble
Phantasm that she was afraid of, it was the fact that such a Noble
Phantasm had de-stabilized her beliefs. It shook the beliefs that she
held in pride.

This flawless cooperation…

This bond with subjects that became a Noble Phantasm...

It was something that the idealistic King of Knights pursued for
her whole life, yet even to the end, it was something she could not

Her issues with the Round Table are the reason for her intended wish in F/SN, as what she saw of, and was told by, Rider, combined with her encounter with Lancelot at the end of F/Z, where she witnessed the hatred he held for her, led her to believe that anyone could have done a better job as king than she did.
But yeah, as you said, this is just a crack fic, and I probably shouldn't be devoting this much time thinking about it.
Stand between the Silver Crystal and the Golden Sea.
"Youngsters these days just have no appreciation for the magnificence of the legendary cucumber."  --Krityan Elder, Tales of Vesperia.
Quote:Jorlem wrote:
Her issues with the Round Table are the reason for her intended wish in F/SN, as what she saw of, and was told by, Rider, combined with her encounter with Lancelot at the end of F/Z, where she witnessed the hatred he held for her, led her to believe that anyone could have done a better job as king than she did.
But yeah, as you said, this is just a crack fic, and I probably shouldn't be devoting this much time thinking about it.
For my purposes, the fundamental blockage preventing Saber from attaining it in canon was her own lack of faith in her subjects' relationship with her - consider it along the lines of why Luke Skywalker couldn't lift his X-wing on Dagobah. It's an explanation that satisfies me, at least.

In the meantime, Santa!

The core of the ritual he had come to destroy, the Greater Grail and the mystic enchantments that empowered it, lay in a cavern, deep beneath the city of Fuyuki. Moisture dripped endlessly down the living stone walls, and the shadowed space was lit only by the scarlet light bleeding up from the intricate tracery of mystic sigils filling the entire floor. Ahead of him, a pale form, swathed in blackness, waited.

For a moment, under the calling to forgiveness he’d learned from God’s grace and the insight and faith of children all the way across the world, Nicholas of Myra felt the old, hungry, angry grin tug at his lips, the same expression that had led the pack of his cohorts as they fell upon their rivals in the streets of a long-vanished days.

It would be good to fight again.

The shell that the corruption was wearing had passed on to her reward long ago; he felt no compunction over the way its jaw shattered under his fist, no more than he was concerned by the wave of black mud that he had dashed past to land the blow.

The black oil began to spread across the cavern floor, limned in scarlet light and burning away with emerald fire where his feet fell, and in places it humped upwards, extending into wavering pseudopods that grew spindly, malformed limbs, clay golems of congealed evil like a toddler’s clumsy efforts to sculpt a human figure.

A casual swat dissolved the one in his way and let him lay hands on the core of the putrefaction again, burying one fist in its stomach and then seizing its long silver hair to drag its already ruined face into his striking knee.

He pulled the thing upright and drew back his free hand to strike it again, and then one of the slime-golems wrapped its gelatinous arms around the wrist and began pulling. Rider shook the thing off, only to find several more swarming him and giving his real enemy time to pull its shell free and disengage, leaving more rising lumps of filth with each step. 

Clearly, he’d be unable to finish his target with its minions climbing all over them, and they were growing stronger with time.

Fortunately, he had an answer to that.

Out of the shadows faded twisted, ugly figures, hooved with leering faces and long, goatlike horns, and twisted, ugly staves in their clawed hands, which waded into the mud-creatures with gleeful cackles, diverting them as he struck the Grail’s core over the head with interlaced fists, driving it to the ground so that he could put the boot in.

Which he did as a chorus of splattering crunches rose from behind him - then shouted as it wrapped a slender, black-razored hand around one of his ankles and yanked it out from under him, tumbling him down into the mud in a splash of green fire.

It started to crawl over him, to try and sink its talons into, him but he kicked it away.

He heard one of his krampus begin to scream in pain as the mudmen pulled it down.

Something was wrong, he was missing something.

The Grail’s vessel pounced on him, eerily silent despite its mangled face and shattered ribs, and his coat tore as its hands clenched and ripped at him, driving him back.

How had it gotten so strong? What was driving its increasing resistance to his wrath? What fury of its own?

Abruptly, as though God had whispered the answer in his ear, he realized the trick of it, and it made him feel foolish.

Of course.

The corruption of this desperate effort to reach for the power of the divine had come from the avatar of all the evils of the world. Every sin, every unfed mouth, every weakness and every despair.

And every blow thrown. He could not defeat it with his fists, because to strike was, itself, an evil, even when a lesser one than letting wickedness go unopposed. His struggle against it only fed the monster as it tried to devour him.

But he had another answer within him, antithetical to its nature - and, he knew, the stronger. Nicholas relaxed, and closed his eyes, and let the rising mud take him.

For what was the spirit of Christmas but all the love in the world?


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
That lack of faith, as you put it, cut both ways. Remember, when she was confronted with Lancelot, she recalled a time when she was heard one of the Knights of the Round table say, as she was leaving the room "A King will not understand someone else’s feelings". There was also the 'problem' of her ideal of kingship, that the King should save his subjects, and therefore stands alone. That is the fundamental disconnect that was the center of Saber's character arc in F/Z: she had forged herself into an inhuman ideal, and so her subjects were unable to relate to her, or she to her subjects. As Rider put it, she could save them, but she could not lead them.
From the beginning, the Nasu'verse's round table wasn't truly 'round', and Lancelot's betrayal broke it completely. It was said that the Table had no head, but because of the oaths the Knights had sworn to their King, the head would have been wherever the King sat.

That's why Ionian Hetairoi shocked her so much, the relationship that Rider has with his men is the same as she wanted with her knights, but her ideals made that impossible, though she kept trying anyway. Ionian Hetairoi said to Saber that Rider's ideals, that she had derided as being the way of a tyrant, were superior to her own, as they had allowed Rider to succeed where she had failed. The thing with her following her ideals to destruction is meant to parallel Shirou's decision to basically do the same.

But anyway, I'll stop now, to avoid becoming this guy.

On the subject of the snip, well, I hope Rider's Jesus impression works.
Stand between the Silver Crystal and the Golden Sea.
"Youngsters these days just have no appreciation for the magnificence of the legendary cucumber."  --Krityan Elder, Tales of Vesperia.

“You look cheerful today,” Shirou told his wife, taking the spoon out of the pot he’d been stirring and tapping it on the rim to shake the excess off. The light of the winter afternoon tinted the kitchen rather gray, but the red ceramic rest he set it on made things rather more cheerful, as did her smile.

“Why shouldn’t I be? Sakura teased back, tossing ebony hair back off the shoulder of her modest green blouse. “My sister and yours say that their presentation on modern Sorcery to the Clocktower went well, my brother was refused parole, Taiga’s trapped with her family for once-”

“That’s mean,” Shirou protested, fighting laughter, “she’s taken care of me for years.”

“-and best of all, I’m going to get to spend the night with the biggest, strongest, handsomest man on the planet.”

He couldn’t help blushing at the way her voice scaled down into a sultry purr, but a part of him he rarely listened to made him step forward to fold her into a hug, and trace his hands up her smooth, bare back. “Well, in that case,” he answered, letting his voice rumble up out of the depths of his chest, and enjoying the way she melted against him in response, “why don’t I go get your gift for you while we wait for dinner to finish?”

“Ooh,” she cooed, “what did you get me?”

He chuckled and let go to tap her playfully on the nose. “That’d be telling,” he said, knowing that she’d be delighted to ‘unwrap’ her lavender-haired ‘present’, and let his other rest on the doorframe as he stepped into the warm chill of his girlfriend’s Workshop. As usual, Rin was bent alone over a pile of papers and diagrams finely detailed enough to make him once again glad he’d talked her into letting him install electric lighting.

He set the tea service in his hands down next to her papers and said, “Here you go.”

Rin glanced up and said, “Thanks,” then stretched, one arm upright and the other hooked over her head onto its elbow, making the cartilage of her vertebrae pop and the threads of her sweater creak against the pressure exerted by her soft, round, inviting-

Her giggle broke him out of his staring, and the blush chasing across his cheeks grew hotter as she gave him a saucy wink and promised, “I’ll be down to give you a special lesson just as soon as I finish this. Don’t worry, I haven’t been at it too long.”

Shirou raised a dubious eyebrow at her, then cocked an eyebrow at where Saber had been watching her master work from a comfortable armchair in the corner. “Five hours,” the Servant answered, confirming his suspicion, and he sighed.

“Right, then,” he said, “it’s time for you to come to dinner, then.”

“I already ate, Mother and Sakura called and made sure I did,” Rin told him, already leaning over her papers with her bust perched on the edge of the table.

Since, unlike him, she was short enough to do it without crouching all the way down, Saber slipped an arm around her shoulder and another under her knees and lifted their lover into his arms, despite the female Magus’s squawk of protest. “Well, it’s time for you to come to bed, then,” she said.

He carried his girlfriend through the halls of their home - ignoring her playful protests - and laid her down on their bed with a deep kiss, then went to close the door to keep out the draft as Saber slipped into the covers beside her and Ilya grinned up at him in the balmy spring sunshine. “I’m gonna chase off those two Tohsaka girls,” she said, “so Mama and Papa can grill you properly without me interfering.”

At his expression his fiance laughed and deliberately misinterpreted. “Don’t worry,” she told him, “I know they’re your friends and I won’t do anything too mean, I just need to make sure that in a couple years they still understand who’s the wife and who are the mistresses.”

Shirou glanced awkwardly over his shoulder at the somewhat older albino woman and the scruffy-haired, skinny man standing five feet away. “...Please don’t say ridiculous things,” he begged, and she laughed at him and headed for the gate as he turned to face his inevitable doom.

Emiya Irisviel smiled happily at him. “If my Ilya is happy with the things, then I have no complaints!” she said. “So as long as that’s true, I’ll go back to working on dinner!”

Under other circumstances, that statement and the memory of Ilya’s stories of the disaster that inevitably followed her mother around any kitchen she touched would have had Shirou flinching in sympathetic horror, but as things were he was trapped under the dark and empty gaze of the murderous man still feared as The Magus Killer.

Who smiled and gestured him to sit beside him on the verandah. “Don’t look like that,” he said. “I can tell you’re a sincere young man, and Ilyasviel is perfectly capable of being her own advocate. As long as you’ve resolved your mind that this is what you want, I have no concerns.”

Shirou sat quietly for a long moment. “Honestly, I don’t think I am,” he admitted. “There are some things that have been bothering me.”

“Like what?”

“Well, for one thing, I know that I’m not married to Sakura, and I’m not dating Rin, and I’m certainly not engaged to Ilya.

“Sakura’s hair isn’t black, it’s purple, and there’s no way she could have completely dissolved all of her clothes except the apron in the space of thirty seconds without me noticing.

“Rin’s workshop isn’t right next to my kitchen, and a tea set wouldn’t just appear in my hands by magic, and her breasts aren’t that large, and there’s absolutely no way Saber would put up with her dragging her into a threesome even if she hadn’t just appeared in a room that I know she wasn’t when I came in.

“Even if it wasn’t winter rather than spring, the door to the hallway outside Rin’s room wouldn’t lead to my porch, and all four of our parents are dead, and even if you were alive, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve met because you adopted me after the fire killed my biological parents.

“Since the last thing I remember before talking with Sakura in my kitchen was being doused in the blood of a mindless monster controlled by the Grail, and since you’re the first person I’ve talked to so far that isn’t obviously directly part of one of the girls’ dreams and desires, that would make you the only mind that the ritual would have, the corrupting existence that’s taken over the heart of it.

“Wouldn’t it.”

Kiritsugu - it was as good a name to use for him as any - let out a huff of breath and looked up into the blue sky. “I guess it would,” he admitted. “But you know, this isn’t just a dream or a hallucination. I was created to make the impossible possible, and you and your comrades have won a war - perhaps not the one that was supposed to happen, but enough of one. All you have to do is decide. What do you want?”

Shirou looked at the sky himself, and thought carefully.

“Nothing you can give,” he decided.

“Are you sure?”

“Just because I don’t think of myself, doesn’t make me too stupid to realize what a wish granted through destruction would mean.”

“What about you, Sakura?” Kiritsugu said, obviously not satisfied with his answer.

Shirou turned his head a little to watch her face out of the corner of his eye. “Having Senpai only counts if he gives himself to me,” she said, “and if he wants another girl then as long as he’s still my friend then I’ll be... Okay.” Not happy, he noted, but she thought she would survive. “If it’s Rin, or Ilya, or Saber or even Berserker, I can even smile and wish them luck, because I like them and I can see why he’d make those choices. And if I decide to change my mind about punishing Shinji, I can always do that myself.”

There was something burbling, unhealthy, in the voice that said, “Ilya, don’t you want a wish?”

Warm arms slipped around one of his own. “I want Shirou, and I already decided that I’d rather share than trust a failed experiment to give him to me.”

The Grail’s voice was obviously inhuman, and the figure from which it emanated about as lifelike as a wax dummy, but somehow it sounded weak, desperate. “Rin, I can give you everything, lay love and Root alike at your-”

“No,” she interrupted. “Even Ilya’s earned a break I won’t interfere with - and if I wanted to, I wouldn’t do it in such an unsightly way. No.”

“dAMn yOU WhY wOn’t yOu HATE?!” the Grail howled, as the world began to come apart around them, its details bleeding away into blackness.

Sakura wrapped herself around the side of his body Ilya wasn’t filling, and Rin’s voice came from right next to his ear as her arms slipped around his neck from behind. “It’s the wrong season for it,” she told the nightmare, and then all sensation and awareness vanished.


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."

Shirou woke up warm and dry, in a comfortable bed in a room he didn’t immediately recognize. Saber was sitting in a chair beside the bed wearing a sweater he recognized as Rin’s. He guessed that that meant that he was in her guest bed.

Saber had been watching him sleep with a small, content smile on her face, and when she noticed he was awake the expression brightened into a beaming look of joy that made her already beautiful face into something literally stunning, catching him halfway through sitting up. She blushed when she saw him looking back, glancing down shyly then looking back up and asking, “How do you feel?”

“...Pretty good,” he said once he found his tongue. “Especially since I thought all of us were going to die.” Could this be another hallucination? No, it felt different, and anyway all four of them had told that thing to stuff it.

“If Berserker and I had been a little later, the cold might have done it,” Saber said seriously. “Rin woke up when we found you, so we brought all of you to her house. Shirou, don’t scare me like that again.”

He grinned, sheepishly. “I’ll try not to. I guess it’s Christmas morning... I should get started on making something for a treat.”

“You’re the last awake,” she told him, and caught him when he wobbled trying to stand up, “but I think that Sakura would be glad of the help.”

“Right,” he said. “I guess getting clean clothes can wait, since Rin won’t have anything that’ll fit me the way that fits you.”

Saber blushed nearly the same color as the sweater and helped him downstairs, although by the bottom of the steps he was steady enough that she was just holding him rather than holding him up.

Doing the cooking delayed the confrontation he was expecting - Shirou might not have been able to understand what had made three different girls decide he was ‘tasty’, but he wasn’t enough of an idiot to miss the point when their own literal fantasies were rubbing his nose in it - but before too much longer the food had been dished up and eaten and Rin was chivvying everyone into the room with the tree.

For a moment, he hung at the doorway, contemplating whether there was an isolated armchair he could claim to defuse things, and then Rin took one arm and Ilya the other and they dragged him to the center of the couch and settled down on either side. “Um,” he said, blushing - and blushed much harder as Sakura settled comfortably into his lap and Saber settled cross-legged on the floor next to Ilya’s legs. “What...”

“We talked while you were still asleep,” Sakura told him firmly, “and this is what we worked out.”

“It’s a contract to share limited resources,” Ilya said.

“I-” he stared helplessly at Berserker, pleading with his eyes for a rescue and some common sense.

“I’m going to see how you stand up to them before I throw my hat in,” the tall, sultry woman told him, smiling in amusement at his plight.


“You’re not allowed to object,” Rin growled, poking him in the side.

He kept boggling for a moment, then sighed. It was still ridiculous and probably going to end in tears, but what would the harm be in pretending otherwise for a few days? And none of them were anything but gorgeous...

Almost unconsciously, Shirou smiled, and slid his arms around Rin and Ilya’s shoulders. “But,” he said, “I have a condition. If I find some place to install a hot tub, you’re all going to take advantage of it.”

The girls traded looks. “Deal,” Rin said, grinning, and Sakura laid her head back on his shoulder and started to say something before the doorbell rang and interrupted her.

“I’ll get it,” Berserker said, coming upright from her station next to the presents under the tree and going to the door.

She talked with someone just outside for several moments, while all of them looked on in curiosity, then came back in slowly, holding the arm to support a woman Shirou had never seen before, slender and frail like from a long illness, and obviously needing both her cane and the Servant’s support to stay upright. If he had to guess, he’d have said that she looked to be somewhere in her thirties, and she looked a lot like-

He felt both Rin and Sakura go stiff. “...mama?” the latter whispered, almost hidden under the former’s louder expression of surprise.

“I’m home,” Tohsaka Aoi told her daughters, smiling at them with eyes clear for the first time in a decade.

Both of the girls lunged to their feet and dashed over to throw their arms around her, all three crying happily at their reunion as Berserker stepped back to watch with approval.

“Welcome home,” Rin said, as Shirou checked off the next-to-last item on his list of things about the war that had concerned him.

And what were the odds of Lancer showing up from wherever he’d gotten to before tomorrow?


It wasn’t home, decided the man that legend called the Hound of Culainn, looking out over the sapphire sea and ivory beach under the blue-diamond tropical sky, but it was certainly pretty enough, and the climate was as nice as the company.

“Hey,” said the shapely woman sprawled across his chest, “I didn’t ask at the time... do you regret bowing out of the War?”

He didn’t even need to think about it. “Not a bit,” he said. “I’ve already got more than I’d’ve had the sense to ask for.”

She thought about that a moment, then gave him a sultry smile and rolled entirely on top of him. “Merry Christmas, then,” she said.


"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
And a little lame boy on a crutch stepped out from behind a corner:

"God bless us, Every One."
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll
Heh. Love the story.

Oh, and Lanzer + Bazett for the Win?

[Image: fh-se03-026sp.gif][Image: fh-se03-025.gif]

[Image: fh-se03-015.gif]
Sucrose Octanitrate.
Proof positive that with sufficient motivation, you can make anything explode.
Yeah, pretty much.

"V, did you do something foolish?"
"Yes, and it was glorious."
Necratoid Wrote:I can only quote Marvin the Paranoid android here... 'What a depressingly stupid machine.' ... tool that he was.
I'm putting it up to Grail Mud depleting his wisdom score there... or him being basically conditionally suicidal like his Hellsing counter part.
Then again I'm thinking that Medusa was thinking the same way as I am... though she really missed the opportunity by not saying 'By thinking like a man' in response to how does a monster kill a monster.
As someone who had a bit of input into that fight during the writing process, I can confirm that he was suicidal during that fight. Vlad here was summoned as Saver, which is generally portrayed as a messiah archetype. Given the corruption of the Grail, it summons a Dark Messiah, Vlad II, who was willing to become any monster that was needed to drive the Turks back from his lands and people.

In this sequence, he sees Medusa as the same: someone who became a monster to defend the things she cared about. However, unlike Vlad, Medusa thinks of this as being an inherently terrible part of herself that she should never touch (canonically, Rider!Medusa never uses her Monstrous Strength skill because it deliberately channels the Gorgon). Hence his deliberately baiting her, over and over again, to use everything that's a part of her in the fight. He views her as someone tied down by other people's opinions on what her actions meant (and certainly, Vlad would see that as a kindred spirit, given how his legend was distorted by Stoker's Dracula), and so he's fighting not to protect the Grail, but to give Medusa the cathartic epiphany that as long as she stays true to what she wants to protect, it doesn't matter if anyone calls her a "monster". 

Essentially, despite being dipped in Grail corruption and half-mad, Vlad's still living up to the function of his Class... even if it requires being devoured and destroyed by Medusa to help her get the point.
"Oh, silver blade, forged in the depths of the beyond. Heed my summons and purge those who stand in my way. Lay

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