Mordecai stayed up through the night, no need for sleep. Bloodlust settled, Assassin watched TV, and Mordecai checked over the guns. Very good condition, he supposed. Only problem, no way to test them before use. Mordecai frowned, and looked over his situation. He had an effective Servant and weapons. The things going against him were a cop, knows nothing about the opposition, and the cops know his face. The frown deepened. His plan was guerrilla warfare and surveillance. And apparently they were beaten at the latter by either a Master or a Caster. Assassin seemed more convinced it was a Caster, but Mordecai knew to keep his mind open. Assassin left to do his surveillance earlier, leaving Mordecai to himself. He remembered the flash of light last night, near or on the bridge. He felt the need to check it out.
Mordecai felt the presence of another master, but didn't care.
"So, this is what that was." He uttered to himself, in English. He knew they probably understood him, but it was cryptic enough. He noticed the large amount of people on the other side of the ex-bridge, commuters and the curious in equal measure, and the cops holding them back. Despite the scene, Mordecai knew there probably weren't any injured or dead. Still, perhaps he should volunteer at a hospital? Nah, no payment in that. Plus, if this was the result of a Servant, or even a mage, he got the feeling a gun wouldn't help at all. He'd need some spells. Luckily for him, he has multiple tomes in his backpack. He went out to look for a place to stay, and research.
Clay stirred to consciousness, a ray of light from the rising sun breaking through the study window, shining directly on his head. His body, stiff from being in a sitting position for so long, protested as he heaved himself up and took a sleepy, half-lidded stock of his surroundings. In front of him was... a collection of notes. Important ones, by the frantic-looking scribbles. What was he doing last night?
Letting out a large yawn, Clay brushed that thought from his mind. It was far too early in the morning to concern himself with such a difficult question. He could figure it out after he had his morning tea. Turning his still sluggish attention to the study window, he dimly registered a light dusting of snow falling outside. 'Oh, right. Mid-December in Japan. Well, all the more reason to get my tea...'
Turning to leave the study, he nearly tripped over himself as he stumbled fully to his feet. His pace slow and measured to keep his balance, he walked out of the study, still keeping an air of inattentiveness and exhaustion. One of the maids saw him shambling towards the parlor and stopped, a concerned look on her face. "Um... Master Clay? Are you alright?" He slurred out what was supposed to be an affirmation, but the only words his confused maid could make out where 'parlor' and 'morning tea'.
Entering the parlor and slumping down on one of the opulent armchairs, he waved his hand at the fireplace and jerked back as it lit with a loud snap. Grinding his teeth together and burying his face in his hands, he let out a groan and retreated further into his chair. 'I fucking HATE mornings. At least I'm not hung over...'
He led her forcefully through all of the movements. The music ran in the background and Maria was frightened at making even the slightest mistake. She knew she had to be a good wife and listen to her husband. She had to follow all of the rules and always smile. She had to always listen to what he had to say and laugh. She had to be graceful, beautiful and admirable and at the moment, she had to know how to waltz.
The orchestra at the corner of the ballroom played a powerful Austrian tune and Maria found herself between dozens of couples coming from the highest echelons of society. Barons and brilliant tycoons were only the tip of the iceberg that was the high society in the city of Vienna... and she had the privilege to be among them.
Maria was dressed in the most beautiful dress she even saw in her life in red. It was the first time she wore it for her husband, but she hoped it won't be her last. Marcus pushed and pulled and followed through the movements like a machine as he tried to enjoy the music. Maria stared past his shoulder out through the windows and saw the snow slowly make its way through the cold Austrian air and fall down to the ground below.
The music became louder and its pace intensified. Maria tried to keep up with the tunes but she wasn't sure she could pull through. She closed her eyes and hoped for the evening to end, but it only grew stronger and faster. Her head started spinning while the music turned into something else entirely. The dance changed and Maria stopped.
"Open your eyes, my dear"
His voice was different. Maria looked up and felt deeply disturbed. His eyes... she remembered his eyes weren't blue...
Maria was thrown out of her dream back into the cold reality of the holy grail war in the late morning. She cursed herself before turning towards her ingredients and collecting her spells for her afternoon walk. The old hag looked at herself in her pocket mirror and only for a moment she saw herself as she was all those years ago. Maria stormed out of her room and walked right past Caster without saying a word. She will see him later that day, and he could just continue doing what he does best.
Outside Maria stopped before going past a smaller bridge and glanced at the destruction of last night. She pulled a cigarette from her pocket and lit it with anticipation. While enjoying her cigarette Maria wore her special glasses and stared at the remains of the bridge. She smirked when she noticed the energy coming off a pair of curious onlookers on the other side.
Dirk's eyes flicked open in silence. The boy rose silently in his bed, looking around the room. The silence that gripped it was so powerful, it felt wrong to make a single sound. Breaking the quiet would be the worst of crimes. Saber remained in the room, though Dirk paid little attention to him for the time being. His mind was elsewhere. He stared at the door to the bathroom, and decided to take the chance to clean himself off.
Several minutes later, Dirk was standing in blissful silence, letting the scalding hot water fall and roll off of his skin. The water should have burned, but after the previous night it felt too perfect to flinch at. His ears tuned in on the rhythmic patterns of the dripping water. The beats of water splashing on the tile beneath him felt soothing. The only area that caused him discomfort was the cut that ran up his arm. Dirk wasn't worried by it; a wound was a wound, but this was neither debilitating nor noticeable to passers-by. It would be cold today. He could wear a long-sleeved shirt, some gloves, and suddenly he would be impossible to pick out of a crowd. That was something to consider. What would he do today? He had plenty of time to spare, in these wee hours of the morning, and could conceivably complete a circuit around the entire city. Plenty of places to go and people to see.
Right. People. His thoughts returned to the night before, and laid out the obstacles he had discovered.
First there was the Assassin. Dangerous, when unexpected. But I expect you now, don't I, Roman? The weapon he used was a gladius... I recognize that much. And the Phantasm. He called it, "Emperor's Bane". This narrows done the time of his existence significantly. And how many notable figures could say they cut down an emperor? I'll have to look that up today. His identity will be key to defeating him, I imagine.
Then there is the matter of his locomotion. He snuck past my bounded field. I didn't see any runes snuffed out, nor motion of grass until he landed between Saber and I. The entire entrance to our hiding place was covered. This leaves two possibilities. One: he is immune to the effects of bounded fields. Two: he had some manner of circumventing my defenses.
Hmm... there were multiple instances that Assassin should have taken a hit, and did not. Aha. Intangibility. He can move through solid surfaces. Based on where I spotted him landing... he came from directly above. Through the bridge. But if he had to solidify when he struck the ground, he must not have control of gravity, nor a means to propel himself in that form. A good defense, but that's its flaw. He exchanges offensive capability for immunity to the world around him. And I'll bet he won't keep it up for long if he doesn't wish to sink right through the ground.
Finally, there is the chaplet. It nearly immobilized Saber and I. Anything else, I can counter easily. That... will be troublesome. Then again... a Noble Phantasm, even, must have its limits. And a chaplet is hardly sturdy.
Yes. I think that's it.
Dirk felt a sting in his mind. The satisfaction of a dilemma puzzled out to its solution, combined with a bitter reminder. Yet another foe who would, ultimately, pass like dust in the wind. Still, he silently acknowledged the prowess of his foe.
You gave me a significant challenge our first night, Assassin. I even feared I would die. But, as all who have come before you, you too shall break upon my walls.
Yes, all before... et tu.
That was enough time spent standing in silence. Dirk reached for a bar of soap and began to scrub. He went through the simple ritual of washing himself, while his mind moved on to other matters.
There is the matter of his master, but Assassins are flimsy things, and work best alone. I doubt he'll show himself until it becomes necessary. I wonder what he's like? Maybe a fighter. That would be interesting. I've never seen a magus fight, besides myself. And I hardly count.
Scratch that. I have seen Marks.
Clay Marks. Clay Marks, the Englishman. You're in this town somewhere, foreigner, and I doubt you'll be hard to find. Maybe that's what I'll do today? Go out and introduce myself. Yeah... that sounds fun.
Marks is an accomplished magus, if that fire is any indication. I wonder if that's his specialty? He seems young, to be so proficient at it. I suppose I could always ask. That might get an interesting rise. He strikes me as impetuous. But no hypotheses yet. I'd like to meet him before I come to that conclusion.
His Servant, on the other hand... a Rider, and a strong one at that. Butchered Launcelot in only moments, and seemed quite bloodthirsty. Pompous, as well. I bet I can use that to my advantage. A one-on-one duel with a Knight of the Round would be quite a treat for one such as him, I'd wager.
Then there's the Einzbern. Impossible to miss, though the question is whether she'll leave her castle. Could always taunt her out. The problem, though, is her butler. I have no illusions of a Knight-class' strength, but he's no Saber. If we catch them alone, Sir L--... Sir Knight shall win. The D-triple-plus endurance is odd, though... And I'm certain I'll think of... something... to match whatever the girl is packing. That butler, though... was he the one who used that magecraft? That was absurdly powerful. I can't let a wild card like him run rampant. He needs to be dealt with, and soon.
And then there's the Caster. I didn't see him, but it was clear those hellish creatures are their ilk. One even followed us as far as this place. I can't dismiss the possibility it knows where we are now. I'll need to prepare for that.
That's everyone I know. I still have no information on Berserker, Archer, or their masters... where are you hiding?
As the last of the shampoo was scrubbed from his hair, Dirk turned the water off. He stepped from the shower and dried off, opting to dress before stepping out into the room again.
"I'm heading outside," he casually declared. He only stopped to fish through one of his bags to retrieve a book on topographic magecraft. "No one's sneaking in this time."
That was when he saw the key Saber held in his hand.
Several minutes later, Dirk sat at the bottom of a long ladder leading down out of the hotel, into a small, dark room that split off into separate tunnels. They were marked simply: "Forest", "Shinto", "Miyama", and "Harbor". Dirk nodded once, satisfied with what Saber had shown him. "Figures he'd be so paranoid."
He bent down and marked a rune on the ground, approximately fifteen feet down each path. Back in the main room, he set down a single, green candle, in a brass candlestick. The wick was old, white, and frayed a little at the end. His work in the hidden passageway complete, he moved back up the ladder.
His work was composed of a circle of twenty more runes running around the motel, approximately thirty feet out from its walls every way. Two more were placed upon its roof. He then set two more candles down, one in the windowsill of the lobby, and another in his own room. Once it all was complete, the young magus sat and read the incantation as described in the book.
"This territory I shall claim. A candle lights the way for my weary companions, yet let it be a bane to those who bring ill will to my door. Bounded Field: Haven."
The sigils and runes that made up his ambitious project lit brightly, like coins reflecting the daylight, before slowly fading to nothing once more. Dirk snapped the book shut, nodding at his Servant. "That should keep out unwanted guests."
He flicked one of the candles, demonstrating his efforts. "If any who bear ill will towards the residents of this place pass into the field, these candles will light, and produce a deep red flame. I've set it up so that whether we're in our room, coming through the tunnels, or approaching from outside, we'll be able to see the candles, and know to be on our guard."
Orihara breathed a sigh of relief. That was a weight off his shoulders, at least for the moment. Now it was time to enact step two of his daytime plan: socialization.
He quickly changed into the clothes he'd be traveling in. A gray denim vest over a long-sleeved black shirt, with fingerless gloves to match, and remarkably dull-gray jeans over his trademarked boots. A pair of rectangular black shades completed the ensemble. He stepped to the door, waving to his Servant.
"Do as you wish, Saber. Follow, if you'd like. I'm going to get a haircut... and I think I may look into a few of the esteemed competition."
"Do as you wish, Saber. Follow, if you'd like. I'm going to get a haircut... and I think I may look into a few of the esteemed competition."
"I'm coming with you, the rules may say that fighting is to be done in the twilight, but I've never met an Assassin that cared to follow rules, I doubt his master is any different as well. But before we leave, allow me to look at your arm, can never be too careful..."
Saber shifted to Spirit Form and followed behind his Master after pulling his sleeve up and inspecting the cut, nothing that he could detect, and it wasn't even that deep, little more than a paper cut.
Fuyuki: City of the Snowy Winter. Its name was centuries old and today it couldn't have been truer to it. The light dusting of snow that had danced from the clouds above down to the earth below covered the ground, still falling to continuously knit a soft winter's blanket. The shimmer of the morning sun glistened off each individual flake to produce the most wondrous glow. A gentle breeze rolled through the air, shifting the snow lazily into drifts and nipping at the few citizens brave enough to be out at this hour. The calmness and serenity this portrait portrayed was a perfect moment in time.
THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
At least it had been until the halls were filled with sounds like crashing thunder. The scene was instantly shattered at the bounding footsteps of one Heroic Spirit, racing down the hallway at a frantic pace. He was panting breathlessly, muscles aching from the frantic chase. He searched frantically for somewhere, anywhere he could seek refuge from the horrors he had stirred. Twisting and turning through the maze of corridors before him, the servant kept pace despite his body screaming to cease and desist immediately. While he would have loved nothing more than to obey, he knew stopping for even a moment would be certain doom. Then again, he knew he couldn't escape, that this entire effort was futile. He could only delay the inevitable tide he had beckoned upon himself. But he had to try, God damnit!
Without a moment's hesitation, Rider deftly slipped into the parlour to hide and prepare to make his last stand. The servant quickly pressed his back against the door, putting all of his strength into barring it against any siege made upon it. His eyes scanned his surroundings for any advantage he could possibly make his own, praying that he would never had to use it. Then his eyes focused on Clay, intense fear within them.
"Peasant, you must hide me," Rider pleaded, "I have unleashed a terror even I cannot challenge!"
Just then the door shook violently from an assault on the other side. Rider braced for the impacts as best he could but he knew the futility in the exercise. Still, some deep instinct for survival pressed him to try, to hold out just that much longer. Blow after blow, Rider struggled to keep his assailants from entering the parlour until finally he was knocked from his feet. His body sprawled across the floor, recovering slowly as he turned to face the doorway. His grip tightened as he prepared his soul for what was to come.
"It is too late, they are here..."
The door flew open with a thunderous noise that filled the parlour, revealing nine silhouettes, light pouring in from behind them. As his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, he slowly made out each individual filtering in through the doorway. There stood nine women, clad in a literal pastel rainbow of frilly nightgowns, shirts and panties. The slumber party amazons were armed to the teeth, clutching the finest selection of weaponry Bed, Bath & Beyond had to offer. Their leader in pigtails, an over sized t-shirt and fleece pajama pants, led the group with a fierce determination. As the girl pointed towards him, Rider could feel a warmth rise to his cheeks as they became slightly flushed.
"Show no mercy, sisters!" Diana called out to her entourage of bedtime battle maidens.
Rider had gotten to his feet just in time to meet the charge of maids rushing to pummel him into submission. The pillow in his hands was light as a feather and he wielded it with equal grace to any other weapon he had ever held. One by one he gingerly batted his opponents to his sides, making his way towards their circumstantial chieftain. There had never been such a beautiful and ridiculous display of combat prowess in the art of pillow fights that anyone in the parlour could recollect. Rider's sheer martial arts mastery had granted him the advantage and he dared to press it.
All was not well with his plan, however. The further he pushed forwards towards Diana, the more maids he left in his wake, ready to stand up and fight again. His position was now surrounded and though his skills were great, it was a losing battle. The women were far more experience gladiators of sleepovers, knowing every inch of their chosen weapons like he knew his halberd. Comparatively his motions felt clumsy even if he could feign mastery over such a weapon. As he contemplated his situation, Rider finally reached his prized target. Time slowed as he raised his pillow, ready to strike at the enchanting young woman before him. His hand felt heavy as lead and he hesitated, turning his gaze away in embarrassment, mirroring Diana's own expression to the meeting of their eyes.
It was also all the opening the maid bodyguard needed to turn the tide of battle. As Rider paused his assault, one of the women quickly struck out, slapping the servant warrior across the cheek with a hammer blow of a pillow strike. As he was caught off balance, the others swarmed in and began to pummel the servant feverishly with blows from their cushion arsenal. Eventually Rider was on his back, pawing at the girls playfully, trying to deflect as many blows as he possibly could.
"No! Please! Stop! Have mercy! Please!" he managed to gasp out between breathless fits of laughter.
Eventually the band of sisters halted their assault, feeling the poor solider had had enough of the sour taste of defeat and quickly began to file out of the room. Diana paused for only a moment longer to turn to her brother, waving gingerly at him as she exited the parlour.
"Good morning brother," she beamed, her smile filled with morning cheer and glee. "I'll be back for breakfast in fifteen minutes after I change into something more suitable."
Rider was smiling the biggest grin of all after the women had left him sprawled out across the floor. After a long, uneventful night of patrolling the manor grounds it was certainly a welcome change of pace. However, he never would have guessed this "pillow fighting" would have been such an amusing distraction. On the other hand, it did involve both battle and scantily clad women, two of Rider's favorite things on this great Earth.
"So," Rider finally exclaimed, looking over at Clay without bothering to get up, "what food shall be prepared to break my fast?"
Shinto, The Four Seasons Hotel - 10:00
"You have got to be kidding me."
Ilene gaped at the newspaper spread out before her, one of her eyebrows twitching noticeably as she scanned the headlines. The few words that managed to escape her lips practically oozed venom. "What the hell do they think they're doing?!"
Still unsure that she had properly read the print, the girl started over from the beginning, mouthing along as she read the various blocks of text.
Fuyuki Bridge Collapses was sprawled across the top of the periodical in giant letters, just above a large, full color picture of the bridge itself. The damage dealt to the structure seemed to have worsened overnight; not only was a sizable chunk of its road missing, but the area on either side of the fissure was a mess of cracks and fractures. What's more, it looked like a couple of the support cables had given way, causing the rest of the bridge to sag noticeably.
According to the text that accompanied the photo, no one was entirely sure of what had caused the damage. Forensics had yet to detect any signs of explosives or other destructive substances, and the way the bridge had collapsed seemed to indicate that it had been hit by an extremely localized earthquake, though no one was able to explain how that could have possibly happened.
The paper offered an abundance of theories, most of them entirely without basis. Everything from terrorism to signs of the Mayan Apocalypse was thrown out, with only the barest shreds of evidence to support them. Thankfully, the media was only looking for the most sensational explanations; Ilene supposed she should be grateful that the paper said nothing about magic.
However, this wasn't the article that had riled her into this state of furious disbelief. No, that little block of text was shoved neatly into the corner of one of the paper's rearmost pages, a place for little curios and interesting tidbits. It was a short piece, barely a few lines long, but it was enough to make the young Master question her competeitors' sanity. Guard Sees Ghost Break into Armory it said, with a few quotes from an understandably distressed soldier.
With a groan, Ilene leaned back into the couch, crunching the paper up into a ball and tossing it away. Covering her eyes with a hand, the young woman took a moment to bemoan her lot in life. "The first night, and already they're going this far? Do they even care about subtlety?
"Micheal," she moaned, barely managing to sit back upright, "how's that coffee coming?"
"Almost done, Miss Ilene," the reply came from the small kitchenette. "Just adding the cream and sugar, as you requested."
A few moments later, the butler slowly made his way over to the sitting room, a tray carrying a steaming cup and some fruit in his grasp. "Here you are, miss, just the way you like it."
The girl gratefully accepted the mug and, paying no heed to the temperature, gulped down some of the near-boiling liquid. The heat almost scalded her tongue and throat, but she welcomed the discomfort; combined with the bitter taste of the drink, it helped to spur her still sleepy thoughts to action. With a satisfied gasp, she set the half-empty cup back on the tray. Picking up a freshly cleaned apple, she nodded gratefully towards the older man. "Thank you, that was perfect."
As she bit into the fruit's clean, crisp skin, Ilene sank back into her thoughts, mulling over a dozen ideas. Just because they weren't allowed to fight during the day didn't mean that this time should be allowed to go to waste. There were still all types of things she could do. Hmm... But what to do exactly? How to handle these precious hours before charging back into the fray, how to best prepare herself and her allies for the coming fight?
"Say, Micheal," she said, talking around the chunk of fruit in her mouth, "do you know where Lancer is?"
"Er, yes. I do believe that he's in the bathroom."
"Still?!" Ilene shot a glare towards the room in question; sure enough, she could still hear the shower running. "Of course. Just what I needed..."
Well, if her Servant was going to keep himself entertained with the marvels of modern hygiene, then she supposed that it would be up to her to plan for the coming day. Chewing on her lip, the girl briefly pondered over her course of action. It would probably be a mistake to take the demon they had encountered last night at its word; undoubtedly it was trying to mislead them with its "faultless information".
Still. She'd have to deal with the Marks boy at some point, especially considering that Servant of his, and there was no reason to delay.
"Micheal," she began as she rose from her seat, leaving the apple only half-finished. "Do we still have the number for the Mark's mansion?"
"I believe so," the manservant replied, pulling out a cellphone and browsing through the various contacts. "Let me see... Ah, yes, here we are!"
"Fantastic." Taking the phone, Ilene pressed a couple buttons and held it to her ear. "It's about time we made some lunch plans for today, now isn't it?"
Clay couldn't help but jump with surprise when Rider came bounding into the room, and grimaced when he slammed the door behind him. Then came the pounding... by the sound of it, somebody was smashing the door in with a sodding hammer. Or, at least, that's what it seemed to Clay.
"Peasant, you must hide me," Rider pleaded, "I have unleashed a terror even I cannot challenge!"
The door then flew open, sending Rider flying across the parlor, landing face-first in a prone position. Out stepped...
'Oh SODDING CHRIST.' Diana and several of the maids ran forth, still dressed in their nightware and brandishing pillows. Clay silently whimpered to himself and retreated further into his armchair, hoping beyond hope he would be spared his sister's overenthusiastic wrath. His younger sister was always the chipper early bird, and that didn't sit well with Clay one bit, not least when he had a pounding headache and couldn't figure his hands from his feet.
Much to Clay's silent satisfaction, they paid him no mind and focused their attention on Rider. "Show no mercy, sisters!" Raising their 'weapons', they set upon Rider. Clay simply kept quiet. He'd been through this before, his sister would eventually get bored and move on. When Rider relented, Diana stood back and politely excused herself.
"So, what food shall be prepared to break my fast?" Rider asked, not bothering to stand, seeming pleased with himself. Almost as if on cue, Maria entered the room, carrying a tray of tea and assorted pastries. "Hmph. I should have expected my little brother to hide in here. Well, I have your morning tea..." Clay heard those words loud and clear, his head bolting up and the rest of his body standing at attention. Maria rolled her eyes and set the tray on the table next to Clay's armchair and began pouring. "You're welcome, by the way. I should've had one of the maids do it, but Diana commandeered them. Speaking of, Rider, if you want any tea, I'd get it now. Clay can be... excessive when it comes to his morning cup."
Rudely seizing the cup from his sister's hands when she'd finished pouring, Clay swiftly quaffed the contents, his usual air of composure and sophistication absent. When he had finished, he wordlessly jerked the cup under the teapot in Maria's hands, his expression expectant. Maria, with a frown, tipped the teapot... into Clay's lap. He lept from the chair with a loud yelp, landing on his feet and massaging his thighs.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My grip must have been loosened by your terrible manners." Maria quipped with a self-satisfied smirk. The pain receding, he stood upright, the adrenaline clearing his head. He didn't bother responding to his sister's slight - she was right. Such crude, selfish behavior was unbecoming of a gentleman.
"Right. Well, we should prepare ourselves for the coming day. No need to lounge about and wait for night to fall." As though to punctuate his words, the phone on the opposite end of the parlor started to ring. Maria made a motion to answer, but Clay gestured for her to stop. "I'll take that - you tend to Rider's breakfast." Maria nodded and left the parlor, motioning for Rider to follow. Clay turned to the ringing phone and answered. "Marks residence. How may I assist you?"
Mordecai sensed another entry on the bridge, which served to hasten his manly retreat. If there was gonna be combat, he'd rather be around in the aftermath, rather than front row center to heroic spirit punch-up. Still, he was curious as to other Master identities, Assassin only briefly mentioned the Sabers, and never with a positive connotation. He sighed, and looked around for his wayward knight puncher, and found him eyeing a passing pizza delivery boy. Mordecai motioned for him to pay attention, and the assassin nodded.
Sighing, Mordecai continued on his quest for a new home. He decided Miyama would be a good choice, it being on the other side and all. Plus, if he remembered correctly, it had the foreigner section, so greater chance of English speakers. Mordecai Took one of the smaller bridges, with a surprising amount of foot traffic. He was slightly worried the thing would just collapse due to weight, not helped by the obese man in the semi yelling. He dismissed this thought as silly, and kept going. He tried his best to not laugh at the incredibly fit man with the tire iron approaching said obese man. God he loved justice.
He hoped to limit the number of shenanigans around here, simply asking around for a nice hotel. His first attempt was a bust with a German kid (12 maybe?) who couldn't speak English, and spoke Japanese slightly better than Mordecai. Take two went better, a Canadian woman who was as lost as himself, so therefore useless to this cause. Didn't even thank him for helping her find a way to Shinto. Third, and last, was mercifully an American, who lived here for a decade. He directed him towards two hotels to choose from, though he could only go with one, as the first was closed. He made his way to the other one, named after the Miongawa. Rather aptly, too, as he noticed the lake and park weren't too far away.
Mordecai strolled in, Assassin left outside to do surveillance or whatever he felt like doing, and walked into the lobby. It was nice enough, though Mordecai knew not a single man who like the color cyan this much. He walked to the front desk, got himself a room after a strange look, earned by him paying straight cash.
The room was nice, third floor same as before. Unlike before, there were actual people. One of them was either an amateur drummer, or a drummer suffering a seizure. He hoped the latter. Dear god, so he hoped the latter. The room was sparsely decorated, mostly nautical in nature, though with a few nice luxuries. Namely, a TV and a water bed. He restrained himself for a few more minutes, looking through his backpack. He found the room had a personal safe, and used it for the gun parts. With that over with, he climbed into bed with one of his books, looking up new spells.
The thing smelled musty, and was overall dusty. It was his fathers, a successful enough water magus, and boasted quite a few defensive spells. Mordecai was barely a quarter in and it mostly talked about his basic healing spell and a few shields he could make. Ice for physical defense, water for magical defense. Helpful, but not helpful enough to one as far passed the deadline as he. He sighed, rubbing his temples, preparing himself for more of his families random scribbles on the nature of water magecraft. At least assassin was allowed to have fun.
Snip. Snip-snip, snip.
Locks of dark hair drifted through the air lazily, settling in disorganized piles around the chair, on the rubber mat that spread from its base. Dirk sat quietly, listening to the hum of his usual barber as she worked. Barber wasn't technically the right word. But god help the man who brought up the fact that Dirk Orihara was a regular client of a salon. The woman working at his chair was a girl not much older than he was, a little on the short side and skinny as a twig, with multiple piercings on her face and a green streak running through her mohawk. She was rather odd to look at, and was dressed in sweatpants and a shirt with more metal attached than any clothing needed, but carried a sort of charm to it, Dirk thought. She'd always gotten stares fro the other customers who walked in, but he really couldn't see the point of contention. Korean, Japanese, was it that big a difference?
Her voice was cooing, low, and just a bit gruff, but carried a teasing tone to it.
"So, Orihara, you finally decided to pare down the hedge you've been growing up here?"
Dirk raised an eyebrow, the only expression currently visible on his face. He hadn't even bothered to remove his shades for this trip.
"So it's a hedge, now? I recall you being a lot nicer to it last time I was in."
"Well, yeah," she said, plucking up a finger's worth of hair to snip. "because last time it didn't look like there was a raven clutching your skull. This is just tragic."
"Coming from the woman whose hair is the color of foliage."
The hairdresser snorted out a laugh, and clipped away another clump of the boy's ridiculously thick locks. "Does shampoo even reach your scalp, with this much hair?"
"The nature of my scalp is a secret, and not one I share lightly. Not like you, baring it for the world to ogle at."
The banter was a usual ritual of theirs. Dirk held many things in vast quantities. Intelligence, creativity, ego... but friendship was something he gave out sparingly. Still, he had his good moods, and was willing to be genial to those who'd earned it. Their line of conversation dwindled off as Dirk was ordered to hold his head still, looking ever so slightly downward. Orihara listened intently to the sound of the metal blades shearing away just behind his ears. His friend honored the silence, and didn't bother to speak until something happened upon the boy's thoughts.
"Has my mother come in recently?"
"No, not in the last few weeks," his regular dresser replied, already sounding like she had her own thoughts on where this conversation should lead. "I did speak with her this morning, though. How's Sanosuke doing?"
"...Would you mean my father's brother?"
"Or, y'know, your uncle. But, yeah, him. You guys took him to the hospital last night, right?"
That thought intrigued him for a moment. So I guess Dad forced him to be sensible for once.
"I... wasn't around at the time," Dirk replied. "Did she say how he was?"
"Yeah, doctors say he'll live. Almost lost his liver, though. Not from booze, like, stab wounds. Guess he got mugged?"
"Guess so," the boy in the chair replied quietly. His stylist busted out the hair dryer and blew away the stray hairs and fluffed up what remained, brandishing her client's new look in the mirror.
"Ta-da!" she exclaimed. Dirk's flock of seagulls was gone, only a quiff-styled cut remaining. The stylist seemed very proud, though a little confused with her creation. "Didn't think you'd ever want it dyed, to tell the truth. What's the occasion?"
It was true, this was the first time Dirk had willingly changed his hair color. The embarrassing incident during the Kendo club's trip to Comiket absolutely did not count. He still remembered the nasty business spent the following week, washing the pink from his roots. Dirk looked at the sandy, almost chestnut-colored hair he now sported, and noted how much more like his mother he looked now. It'd take a second glance now to figure out if he was native or an American. It wasn't an astronomical leap in appearance, but it was drastic enough that he doubted his competitors would recognize him from the bridge.
"Satisfactory," Dirk told her. "Once again, your work exceeds expectations."
Not a minute more passed, and no more discussion was to be had. As usual, Dirk was in a hurry to leave. He followed his stylist to the front desk, where he handed her the yen she was owed. She took it quietly, only giving a short "See you later" to him.
Dirk replied with a nod, adding "Take care" as something of an afterthought. He stepped out of the shop, and looked at the bustling streets around him. Miyama wasn't the active side of town, technically, but it still had its share of livelihood to be found. Dozens of pedestrians shuffled down the sidewalks, chatting with one another about mundane, mortal things that Dirk was surprised to remember were once as important to him as to these faceless crowds. Nobody but he could see it, but a barrier separated him from the rest of these people now. Their greatest concern was what they'd be eating, or buying today. Dirk was fighting for power unto that of a god. It amused him, a little; the irony of it all. He wondered how many people viewed him as just another nameless nobody, to blend into the throng?
He flinched. Clearly not enough. He turned back to see his worst nightmare walking his way: club-mates.
Standing at nearly six feet tall, the Kendo team's captain was hard to miss. Broad-shouldered, tan, and muscled, and dressed in a cobalt blue jacket. His cocky grin was the sort even the worst punk would keep his distance from, and his shifty eyes belied his nature. A gray sweatband was wrapped tightly around his forehead, causing his brown hair to comically puff out in something of a spiky mushroom.
He was accompanied by one of the younger members of the team, a second-year with a face like a doe's. For a boy, this was rather odd to see. His gray, spacey eyes seemed to be staring out into some vast entity, and simultaneously absolutely nothing. The vacant stare was somewhat off-putting; or, it would be if he wasn't dressed in such a silly way. His baggy, loose-hanging t-shirt was pink, and possessed a trio of balloons over his left breast, in various colors. Dirk was fairly confident it was from some American show, though he didn't care to recall the name. The boy's bangs were sticking out, falling barely above his eyes from the gray wool stocking cap that he wore at all hours of the day. On said cap, a yellow rubber chibi face was smiling gleefully at the world.
Dirk sighed to himself. And here he thought today would be productive.
"Seiichi. Koji," he said flatly, addressing the two in order as they walked up to him. The younger one, Koji, simply nodded slightly at him, acknowledging his presence in the vaguest manner possible. Seiichi, on the other hand, folded his arms and groaned impatiently at him.
"That's no way to address a senior, Orihara. I oughta smack you for that one."
"You can try," Dirk stated, not a hint of smugness in his voice. That quality was carried through the words spoken, no inflection necessary. "but we both know I'd win that fight."
Seiichi was fully aware of this, but wasn't backing down on the issue. "Even so, it's disgraceful. You could at least try to be civil, you know."
Dirk's brow was beginning to furrow in frustration. "You know, in America, they have a thing called equality. You should read about it sometime, the experience might prove enlightening."
The glare from his captain would freeze a lesser man in his tracks. Dirk shook his head, and buried his face in a palm.
"Fine. Good morning, sempai."
The tall boy's expression was as if dark clouds had been scattered to reveal the shining sun. His mood instantly improved, and he was practically beaming as he replied back, "Good morning to you too!"
He slapped a hand onto Koji's shoulder, and the boy responded by widening his eyes like saucer plates. He looked around quickly, with minimal head movement, like a prey animal that had just detected some predator in the vicinity, but did not know the direction it was approaching from. "Say good morning!" Seiichi asked of his teammate.
Koji's face flickered as he slowly processed what was happening. "Right. Good afternoon, Dirk."
Seiichi shook his head, worriedly, at the kid. "Bro, sometimes I fear for you. Where does your mind even go when you get like that?"
Koji stared up at him like he didn't understand the question. "I'm... not sure," he said in a quiet, scratchy voice. "I think there were butterflies this time. Does Spain have a lot of butterflies? Might've been Spain."
Koji stared down at his feet, shuffling them back and forth with a concerned expression as he tried to recall the butterflies, and whether they possessed the heritage of Spaniards. An awkward silence descended upon the trio very quickly, and Dirk decided to take control of the conversation. He deftly avoided that elephant in the room to address a different one.
"Is there something you wanted to say, Seiichi?"
"Oh!" his captain yelped in surprise, snapping back to the present situation. He scratched his puffed-up hair, chuckling as he tried to think back. "Er, no, I guess I just wanted to come say hi? I mean, we saw you, but, we weren't really sure it was you, you know? I don't think I've ever seen your hair that short, or any color besides the usual..."
"Or pink," Koji added, still lost in his thoughts. It wasn't entirely clear if he was even referring to the present discussion, or something in his own mind.
Dirk nodded. "Well, it's me. If you'll excuse me, though, I have important things to get to."
Orihara tried to sidestep them, but was rebuffed by Seiichi's arm blocking him at the torso.
"Ah, no, you don't," he warned. "It actually just occurred to me: me and Koji were gonna meet up with some of the team for lunch. Think you'd like to join us?"
Even behind his shades, Dirk was staring daggers. "That... sounds like a tremendous waste of my time. Thanks. But no thanks."
Dirk ducked, moving under Seiichi's arm, only for the boy's other hand to swoop down and catch him by the scarf. Dirk was yanked back, and brought face to face with his scowling captain.
"Look, Orihara, I get that you're a grouchy stick in the mud and hate companionship, sunshine, puppies, and all the things that are good on this earth. But as a member of our team, you're obligated to at least acknowledge our existence. So, O great Kenshi, think maybe you could spare an hour for us mere mortals?"
Dirk glared right back for several agonizing moments, before slowly letting out the breath he'd held in.
"I'm not staying for dessert."
"That remains to be seen."
With Koji and Dirk in tow, Seiichi set off down the street, dragging both of his charges to the established meeting place.
Shinto, The Four Seasons - 10:15
"Marks residence. How may I assist you?"
Ilene couldn't help but smile as she began. Oooh, this was going to be fun. "Is this Clay Marks? Master of Rider and participant in the sixth Holy Grail War?"
There was a noticeable pause before a reply finally came. "... I take it this is Illene Einzbern."
The smugness in Ilene's tone was overpowering. "Awww, and I went through the trouble of getting an unregistered number and everything," she whined, though the grin never left her face. "What tipped you off?"
"I'm capable of putting two and two together, you know. It's not every woman that knows my name and purpose for being here. Speaking of purposes, why, exactly, are you bothering me?"
"Straight to the point, aren't we? You're not exactly one for subtlety, apparently but then again neither am I." The girl took a second to clear her throat before continuing. "You see, I was just so disappointed that we weren't able to meet last night, that I thought I'd propose a little get together this afternoon."
"And what would be the purpose of this... 'little get together'?"
"Nothing sinister, I can promise you that. What, you don't think I'm foolish enough to violate the rules, now do you? No no, all I want to do is chat, maybe have a bite to eat while we're at it."
"Let me see if I understand you properly. You want me to meet you - a magus infamous for her ability to magically manipulate people - under conditions where I cannot cook you alive if you get a little handsy with your magic. That doesn't sound shady in the slightest."
Though she knew Clay couldn't possibly appreciate the gesture, she made sure to give a theatrical roll of her eyes. "Oh darn, you've seen right through my evil schemes. All my plans are foiled now; I suppose I should just go ahead and surrender right now, shouldn't I?
"Marks, don't underestimate me." There was no trace of sarcasm in Ilene's tone; she was speaking with the utmost sincerity. "I'm smart enough to know that you're no fool; there's no way you'd let me into your head that easily. If I wanted to break you, I wouldn't go through the trouble of announcing my intentions. I want to talk, nothing more."
There was another pause before Clay finally mustered a reply.
"Very well. If you want to talk... you will have your wish." His apprehensive tone has disappeared, replaced with... smugness?"Where do you want to meet?"
Clay's new tone managed to catch Ilene off guard, if only for an instant. "...I've been told that there's a certain restaurant in Shinto that's renowned for its sushi. If there are no objections, why not meet there? It'd be a shame to come all the way to Japan and not sample the local tastes."
"We meet at noon. Bring your Servant, if you wish. It matters little to me."
"Oh, just like that? And here I thought that'd you like to keep Servants out of it." Just like that, Ilene's haughty tone had returned. It'd take more than a little smugness on Clay's part to impede her ego for long. "Anyway, noon won't quite work for us. How does one sound?"
Before she could get the last word in, Ilene found herself speaking to a dial tone; apparently the Marks boy had hung up first. Infuriating, but it made no difference. Everything was going according to plan.
The walls of the church were about to crumble as they shook with every mighty blow that struck it. Men from all corners of the earth pulled and pushed a massive war-ram at the front gates. The massive structure was the most beautiful in the ancient city on the river. Its ceiling was painted with the legends of the book and it contained room for hundreds of followers. The high up painted windows depicted scenes from the life of Jesus Christ himself, master work done centuries ago.
A few battle hardened men held the doors in place but they all knew it was a matter of time before the heretical invaders would break through. The weary warriors prayed in their hearts that their savior will come to their aid and deliver them from their fate. They were a group of young men who were tasked with defending the church from any stragglers, but the main army had already fallen. A few knights joined them as they were routed from their ranks and tried to help the people of the city.
Those inside were all gathered around the altar and sat on the floor in silence, listening to the ongoing scene outside. A few whimpers were heard from some of the younger children in the crowd. From that desperate mob came a man in robes that stood up and walked towards the highest point of the altar.
"Fear not, my brothers and sisters, for god is at our side!", he spoke with a great verbose voice that echoed through the church. Some of the distraught faces turned to see him speak.
"Those heretics have failed to defeat us! They do not know the power of our faith - of our convictions!", the man continued with his lecture, pounding his hand at the altar's wooden table that stood in front of him. More of those inside turned their gaze upon what appeared to be a preacher.
"We shall stand united against our foe and deny it victory, for it cannot take our faith away!", he decreed loudly. His two hands moved away from his sides and were stretched upwards.
"Their iron will shatter at the touch of our divine skin!", he shouted at his captive audience.
"For every one of us dead is another at the side of our lord, for every one of them dead is another burning in hell! Send them to the dark abyss from whence they came and protect his kingdom", he announced with great pleasure. Those holding the gates heard him speak and their hearts listened. Even inch of their body knew that they will be protected with the grace of their lord.
"Open the gates of hell, let them inside - and help me send them to oblivion!", he screamed at the knights as he pulled a short sword from underneath his robes.
"For I am THE PREACHER OF GOD and YOU ARE MY DIVINE ARMY OF HEAVEN!"
A moment of silence was broken by the knights and soldiers shouting in unison.
"I WILL SEE YOU ALL IN HEAVEN, BROTHERS!"
Then it cut to commercials. Caster was instantly flung out of his heavenly experience watching the movie play in Russian and with Japanese subtitles, a masterpiece of its time, no doubt.
He watched the movie with great fascination as the period where it took place was before his birth and the way they described it was simply stunning. It looked so real he couldn't believe it was all made by normal people. He watched the movie with a massive grin on his face while viewing the story unfold and the latest scene only made him love the movie even more.
His wide grin disappeared as he realized the movie was broken up by a set of disgusting Japanese commercials. He pulled himself up from his laying position and lunged at the remote on the coffee table. He held it tightly, and in a fit of rage threw it at the opposite wall. The sodding device almost broke and Caster quickly realized his mistake. The old man stood up and closed the box before he would break that too.
He had to cool off but he was cooped up in the apartment for too long. Caster raised his two hands up at stretched them, and then slowly moved them back behind his head. He stopped moving as his hands touched the floor. The old man then stretched his legs forward, letting out a deep sigh in the process. He pulled himself up from the floor and waddled towards the window. He couldn't stand to wait another moment idly by while a war was unfolding outside.
Enough of that for now... I'm tired of waiting for her. It's time for me to do something...
Caster thought to himself as he looked outside of his window out into the city and caught a glimpse of a mountain hiding behind a row of tall residential buildings. His mind tried to recall what that place was, and it clicked the moment he visualized the map the catholic priest showed him and his master.
The temple... their wretched place of worship - there I could visit and preach the word of God
It was morning when Caster left his temporal prison some would call a lousy apartment and stepped out into the busy Japanese streets of Fuyuki. He left behind a note in case Maria would get back unexpectedly, telling her to pray for his safety.
He was still dressed in the same robes as he did when he first appeared in this world. Those bright garments made him look very much out of place for such a city in a land of heathens, but perhaps he could use that to his advantage. The towering giant moved himself in a light pace, listening to the rumblings of the city and the people within it. So much have changed since the last time he was alive he could barely stand to see at first.
The bones whispered as loud as they could into her mind while she repeated those words out loud. She spat them out, again, and again, and again. The thigh bone belonging to the legend of a man from all that long ago began to shine as the process came to its end result.
A flash of light stung the old hag's eyes and a sphere of clouds cloaked Caster. He came back to live in that dilapidated Hungarian castle all of those years after his demise. The preacher was enraged he was called away from staying at the side of his god, but the realization still hung in the back of his mind. That little voice was silenced immediately when Caster spoke up with his deep voice, making the poor old hag's body tremble in fear.
"Who uses infernal magic to bring me back into this world?", he cried out in anger.
"It is I, your master. Caster, I require your assistance-", Maria tried to remain calm in the face of her newly acquired servant. She never did any spell of this sort before in her life. The thoughts of such a spell... she only saw it by accident...
"-FOR WHAT, YOU WITCH?", he raised his voice and cut off Maria. The clouds dispersed and he stood in front of her. Too large and imposing to be seen as a Caster, the man wore long bright robes and fashioned a stylish beard - but what popped out the most were his eyes - Those black, soulless pits that are in the place of his eyes.
"-to prove your worth", Maria answered calmly. Even though she appeared calm she felt as his her heart would pound right out of his chest. She then raised her right hand to the side and opened her fist, from which a chain fell down with a cross at its end.
"It is my will, and you will comply.", she ordered him.
"I answer only to two masters, and you are none of them", Caster answered decisively.
"The other one is dead", she replied, "and the first? He is my master as well".
Caster was daydreaming when a loud honk woke him up and set him jumping back and away from an incoming car. He suddenly remembered why he was even outside and pulled his hand out to hail a cab. Onward to the temple, where the heathens are aplenty and much preaching is needed.
Sitting in the cab was an unexpectedly uneasy experience for Caster. First and foremost, the tall man suffered from his head banging on the roof of the car constantly. It was the first time Caster felt the disadvantages of his height, and the small space made for him only made him even more uncomfortable.
Caster sat at the back of the cab while a new type of music was playing in the background. It wasn't something he would expect - it wasn't Japanese pop or perhaps the odd American song - it was in an entirely different language altogether.
"Hello", the driver was struggling with pronouncing his Japanese, "Where to?", he asked Caster. Caster peered through the seats and glanced at the cab driver - a tired looking man in his early 30s with tanned skin and a foreign looking set of clothes. Oh, he wasn't the one to judge, but his presence there intrigued Caster.
"Bring me to Ryuudouji temple", Caster asked the driver. The cab was parked at the side of the road but the driver wouldn't enter traffic. He seemed to delay his answer when he looked at the old man through the mirrors and tried to size him up. Caster felt somewhat disturbed by the driver as he continued to stare at him.
"What is it?", Caster asked the driver again as if he was being late for an occasion. An ominous grin crept onto the driver's face as he snapped back and turned to meet Caster head on.
"You...", he whispered as if he was about to issue a threat. "You speak Arabic! It's so great to meet someone who could understand me in this country!", the man was seemingly ecstatic to meet another person that understood him. Then it struck him - the song in the background made his accidentally speak in Arabic without even noticing.
"Hello, my name is Rafik!", he said as he threw his hand forward to meet Caster's in a handshake. Caster reluctantly reciprocated his kind gesture.
"Do you think... we could go to the temple... any time soon?", he asked awkwardly while Rafik was excitingly shaking his hand. The driver then nodded his head in agreement, turned around and started pulling out of the parking space he was in.
"So where are you from?", he anxiously asked Caster before he rolled down a window and shouted at a car that tried to cut him in what appeared to be Arabic Gibberish.
"Oh, nowhere special.", Caster desperately wanted to stay away from conversing with an infidel or giving him any details. He might be a spy or the enemy in disguise... "I came here to visit a friend.", he quickly added to change the subject.
"Oh, and what are you planning to do in the Japanese house of prayer?", he asked curiously.
"I'm a preacher", Caster answered adamantly, "I figured I could sway some hearts today where these false gods are worshipped".
The driver's eyes lit up in excitement at what he heard coming from Caster's mouth. He hasn't seen a fellow Muslim in a long time, and now he was sitting in the car with a preacher of all things. The man quickly tried to recall the little scripture he remembered and felt ashamed he haven't been praying properly or eating Halal in this new country.
"Say, honorable preacher...", the driver addressed Caster, but it seemed more like he was mumbling to himself, "...I have a confession to make, and I need your help".
Caster raised an eyebrow at the request of the heaven and shrugged his shoulders as a response. The driver saw that as him agreeing to hear him out and then he burst into a river of jumbled words he could barely align to form a sentence. The driver nearly fell over the mountain when Caster yelled at him, "Mind the road!".
"Now try and calm down", Caster hoped he could prevent an accident in the cab he was riding in. He eyed the scenery outside and admired the Japanese woods that were at the edge of the city.
"I... I have not been a good man. I did not pray as much and I broke some laws, I... Could God ever forgive me?", he asked humbly. The driver then stopped the car as it seemed like they arrived at their destination. Caster could see the temple outside - he was clamoring to bolt out of the car before, but now he felt like he had to answer the man.
"Rafik...You believe, and that is all that matters. Those actions you make every day are there to remind you of him, so you will not stray off the beaten path and work other idols. Love him and his word, and your mistakes will not be punished.", Caster explained himself before he left the cab without paying. After all, a counseling session isn't free.
The journey to the temple was a perilous one, but not without its merits. The most glaring of them would be the surrounding peaceful scenery that accompanied Caster during his climb up the ridiculously long stairway to the mountaintop above. Caster saw a handful of souls climbing down the stairs but he carried forward to see the epicenter of the city's heathen ways.
It was atrocious. The temple seemed to be drawn from the mind of a minor devil and the other buildings around it didn't prove to be any better. Caster carefully made his way through the entrance and peered into the temple. He gaped at the interior and the ongoing ritual with mixed feelings of curiosity and disgust. It was beautiful, in a way, but its purpose was sinister at heart. When the crowd inside prepared to leave Caster had already concocted a plan.
Those few leaving the Temple into the forum were struck by an odd sight - an old man standing atop a rock holding his two hands up to the sky. His outfit was a peculiar one, but something else seemed off about him, something about his eyes...
The man in robes snickered lightly when he met his crowd. They were mostly young adults wearing casual clothes seemingly in a hurry to get somewhere else. They all have gathered for one event, which was a great opportunity for Caster to sway their faith towards the true one.
"Welcome, people of this city!", he announced in front of the handful of perplexed citizens.
"I have come all this way to show you the power of faith and to bring you back into the light, for you have been living in the dark of the night all of your life", Caster began his preaching but halfway through almost all of those who paid attention to him broke away and started making their way down the stairs.
Caster was enraged they refused to hear him out. He was renowned for his enthusiastic sermons and unmatched charisma and he wasn't going to let some foreigners ignore him. The rest of the group who were inside the Temple trailed the vanguard outside and met with the eccentric preacher standing atop a rock.
"Do you not pray for salvation - for good health and a good life?", he asked those around him curiously. A few more heads turned to see the rest of what he had to say.
"When your cry goes out to heaven - is it being answered?", he continued with his rhetorical questions and hoped he could hold their attention for longer.
"What are you talking about?", one of the onlookers shouted out at the preacher. Caster fixated his gaze at the young man when he swiftly pulled out his cross dangling on his neck and showed it for all to see.
"You have forgotten your faith, but I am here to make you believe", he replied passionately.
"You-", the young man burst into laughter, "-you better get the hell out of here before the cops show up. Beat it, preacher" he ordered Caster obnoxiously. Caster stood dumbfounded at what he heard coming back from the crowd. The rest had already stopped listening and were leaving the temple when Caster noticed an old man being lead forward by a younger woman. His other hand held a cane and he wore black sunglasses - something told Caster the man was blind.
An idea sparked into Caster mind. He jumped down from the rock and strode towards the blind man with great anticipation. The younger woman noticed him approaching her and tried to steer away from the seemingly deranged man that was coming right for her.
"Hear me!", he announced before pushing the young woman to the side and holding the hand of the blind man, pulling him away from the crowd. Many of the people going down the stairs heard the commotion at the temple and decided turn back and see it. The young woman pled those around her to help her and save her father.
"Ye who have sinned can be forgiven as long as you believe!", Caster shouted at the agitated crowd before he stopped in his tracks. The blind man seemed terrified, fighting off Caster's hands when he felt them. He was shaking in fear of the inevitable as his loved ones cried out to him to be careful and screamed at his kidnapper to return him.
"Let go of me", the old man struggled against Caster's grasp but it was to no avail. The servant was powerful enough to hold the man in place and the fear of retaliation quickly settled him calmly in his place. Caster held the cross in his right hand and raised it up for all to see while he placed his left hand on top of the blind man's head.
"If you do not believe then open your hearts and eyes now... I will prove the power of prayer to you all - and make that man see again!", Caster screamed at the top of his lungs for a theatrical effect. The crowd around him saw him as a deranged lunatic, but the situation was about to change. Those who were inside the temple left just so they could witness what was causing disturbing noises outside for themselves.
"Glory to the father, son and holy spirit-", he opened with Japanese words, but then the rest were in a language non in the audience could understand. The blind man began to shake again as he tried to escape from the madman's grasp, but without any success. When Caster finished with his prayer the blind man fell down to his knees and nearly crashed his head on the ground. It was then that three of the onlookers decided to step in and pull the old man away from Caster. Two ran towards Caster and pushed him aside, but the preacher didn't resist. The third one grabbed the blind man before holding him up and walking him back to the group.
"Get away you crazy Christian!", one of the two men shouted at Caster while he was down on the ground. A disturbing smile crept onto Caster's face the moment he heard the blind man sigh and shout in the background. He threw out his glasses and pushed himself away from the boy that helped him up - the blind man was standing alone on his two feet and looking around himself. He was in awe at the incredible images he could see, and he burst into tears when he saw his daughter call him for the first time in years.
"Father-", she cried out before jumping forward and running towards the former blind man. The crowd was completely baffled as it was gathering around the pair. The two men that tackled Caster joined the group and witnessed the miracle with their own eyes. The preacher pushed himself up from the dirt and addressed his captive audience.
"Do you see the power of prayer now? Do you see the righteous path of Christendom, one we all must take?", he preached to the crowd. Caster was excited to see them looking at him with admiration - and a dash of fear, just like the good old days. It was then that questions from the crowd started bombarding the preacher, all concerning the miracle Caster preformed and how they too could be healed.
I performed a miracle, one that all saw and marveled at! Now they can see the glory of God and his power..., Caster was very pleased to witness the reactions coming from the crowd. His words penetrated their hearts - he was sure they will follow the true God and walk away from their heathen ways.
But that wasn't god who performed that miracle
"This is a miracle", someone cried out from the crowd in confusion. Others soon followed, "This is amazing", "How is this possible?", "Can he really see now?", "The preacher was right!", were all flung around by the crowd.
"Can god heal me too?", another asked. Then another person came forward and asked to be saved from his cancer. Another person came forward and asked for his limp to be cured with the will of god. Caster stopped himself from responding or following their requests - as it wasn't god who would do those miracles, but it was him...
"Believe in our Lord and do not falter in your faith, for he is a vengeful god!", Caster's words immediately silenced the crowd. The captive audience simply listened in anticipation for any other words coming from the grand preacher.
Then it clicked.
Caster snapped his fingers and the blindness returned to the mind of the poor old man. He couldn't support his weight and thus fell forward on the crowd surrounding him, begging for mercy. This time his tears were of despair and deep sorrow. He cried out in pain at the cruel loss that fell upon him.
Am I... God?
Those around the blind man were dumbfounded at his behavior. He seemed to be completely healthy just a moment ago before the preacher finished his words.
No... I have been brought here by magic... and this, this is magic, not the will of God
"Only True faith will be rewarded. You believe, and that is all that matters ", Caster felt a strange choking sensation in his throat, as if he couldn't speak to his crowd.
You believe, and that is all that matters
The servant stopped. The preacher stopped. The man stopped.
Does it really matter?
The crowd lost track of the stranger after that. Some say he ran away through the woods while others swear he just disappeared into thin air. No doctor could have explained what happened to the blind man - they were certain what he described was impossible. A few that witnessed the event decided to visit the Fuyuki city church that day. Maybe the preacher was right after all.
Maria decided it would be beneficial for her to meet her competition. Her magic will allow her to trick their mind and evade any foul play on their part, and if they do try to end her she will simply return the favor.
"Berserker, I just don't understand... why would they do this?"
Maria was pleased the two didn't notice her approach them - or perhaps they let her walk up to them. Either way she will undoubtedly make the first move. The old hag picked out another cigarette and lite it. She sucked on the cigarette before letting go and puffied a cloud of smoke to her side.
"They made their grand escape", Maria spoke to the Topfer girl in German, "the bridge looked much better last night. It started crumbling over time".
"Do you mind not killing me right now?", Maria asked playfully, "I want us to have a chat".
Sophie was lost in thought which was probably why she was quite surprised when someone spoke to her from behind. She let out a confused exclamation as she spun around to face the newcomer. Now that she was alert she could definitely feel a reaction from the seal on her right hand, there was no mistaking it; she was also a master.
For a second or two Sophie floundered about what to do. This was it, an enemy right in front of her; should she attack? Then her ears started catching up with her brain, she was quite surprised that one of the other competitors spoke her language.
Sophie quickly dropped from a stance ready for action, one she had sprang to in surprise; her face began to flush with embarrassment. Of course they couldn't attack anyways, it was still in the middle of the day.
Sophie stepped in front of the imposing figure of Berserker and bowed at the waste formally. Since the newcomer had apparently wasted the element of surprise Sophie was pretty sure that the offer to just talk was genuine.
"[Y-Yes of course.]" Sophie stuttered just a touch as she tried to quickly change her mental gears again and straightened her back. "[My name is Sophie Topfer. It's a pleasure to meet you Ms...]" She trailed off when she realized she didn't actually know who she was speaking with.
A rather intimidated server nearly broke her spine in twain as she bowed to the loud young woman, scurrying back to the kitchen for another dish. The girl left behind dug into the plates she still had, struggling to collect some morsels from what little scraps remained. She was about Dirk's age, with sandy hair that carried a pinkish tint to it. Short cropped, with uneven bangs that fell over her bright eyes, and four big spikes of hair that symmetrically shot out and to the side from the back of her head. She was dressed in a brown, short-sleeved hoodie over a pink and white striped shirt whose sleeves went down to the palms of her hands, and shorts, of all things on a December morning. Her wily, catlike face was unblemished, and the only decoration it had was a conspicuous silver ring hanging off the right ear.
Next to her, looking rather bemused by her teammate's behavior, was a plump-faced girl with neat, dark hair with a fringe that went behind her head and stopped right at the nape of her neck. She was dressed in a skirt and a somewhat frumpy gray sweater. She was trying to make conversation with the pair of boys across from her. Unfortunately, that pair happened to be Dirk and Koji; Seichii sat at the head of their table, quietly sipping noodles from his bowl.
"Still no job, Dirk?" the frumpy girl asked. "Any place in Fuyuki would hire you."
Dirk arched his eyebrow, his actual eyes still hidden behind his shades, as if he were offended by the very question. "Maybe I've got sights on something bigger than Fuyuki, Iwanako."
The girl seemed to take such a suggestion less than seriously. She tittered a bit before taking a sip from her drink. "I'd be surprised if you have sights on anything at all. Have you even started looking at colleges yet?"
"He probably thinks he doesn't need to look," Seiichi commented. "And frankly, that's fair. I mean, have you seen his test scores? I'd pay him to come to my school if I had one."
Dirk nodded slightly, a smug little trace of a smile on the corner of his lip. "At least one of you has some sense."
The girl that was still eating, Rea, seemed to tune into the conversation at that point specifically. She set down her latest (emptied) bowl of food before leaning forward and placing both elbows on the table. She gave an unpleasant glare at her teammate, and drawled out a few biting remarks with her scratchy voice.
"Brave talk, coming from the layabout. Do you even know what you're gonna do with your life, Orihara? Do you have a major picked out, or anything? Literally anything at all."
Koji's eyes lit up as he joined the exchange as well. "Maybe he wants to be a super detective, like Sherlock Holmes. Or L!"
The boy in the hat leaned forward and looked to his left, so Dirk couldn't possibly avoid his gaze. "Do you want to be L, Dirk?"
Orihara's lips tightened, and he gave a grunt of disapproval. "No, I don't think I care much for dying."
Koji seemed a little disappointed by the answer, and went back to studying the patterns on the wall. Rea, though, seemed angrier than ever. She seemed to be talking to the others at the table as she said, "See, this is the shit I keep talking about! A damned waste of space and talent that could have gone to someone who'd use it! Instead of a doctor, or a police officer, we got Dirk. A lazy good-for-nothing dipshit who doesn't even have the sense to use what he's got!"
Dirk listened to the rant patiently. He idly wondered if Rea would change her tune, were she to find out what he'd really been up to as of late.
There was more she had to say, but Orihara simply tuned it out. About a minute later, he looked back up as she seemed to be calming down.
"Are you done?" he asked. She scowled at him, but said nothing more. Satisfied, Dirk pulled a cell phone from his pocket and started surfing the web. He had some research to do.
Conversation continued around him, but he tried very hard not to partake of it. Drama tended to unfold around his teammates, and he wanted as little to do with it as possible. He could still remember the last "lunch date" they'd all gone on. He'd had the bright idea to point out that the sandy-haired girl apparently lacked the knowledge of what a pierced right ear implies. He was still trying to find the right word for what the shade of red on her face could be called. Currently he was hovering over "scarlet", but "crimson" and "sunburned tomato" were still in the running.
He'd also managed to bring up that Koji, for whatever reason, always conspicuously wore a ring in his right ear as well.
How had he described it again? 'If she wasn't the only one that looked like that, she wouldn't look weird, and no one would stare'?
It had been just about the dumbest thing Orihara had ever heard. But whenever the two left these get-togethers now, they left together. So apparently it had worked. A shiver went up Dirk's spine. Just another sappy reminder of why he hated hanging around these people.
It was nearly one o'clock now. The others had left some time before, giving Dirk a little peace and quiet. Saber was hovering around, still unseen, but the silence was what he really cherished the most, even more than isolation. Nothing in the air but background noise, allowing him the time to process what he'd been studying.
And in this instance, that silence had worked very much in his favor. A biography page, narrowed down from many others, was proudly displayed on his phone. He read the English words slowly, savoring the pronunciation.
Maria didn't bother with hiding her identity. There was no need for subterfuge or underhanded tactics - there was still ample time for that in the night. Knowing her enemies was of the utmost importance to her, but having a friendly encounter wouldn't hurt either.
" My name is Sophie Topfer...", the girl seemed to be struggling with her words. She was caught off-guard but perhaps this gesture of peace would prove to be instrumental to developing a truce with the master of a Berserker. The documents Maria had over the girl were mistaken - she was too young to be the one to enter, yet she carried the same name of the original submission. It looked like the Topfer family had to change their representative in the last minute, which made Maria only more confident in her ability to finish this war alive.
"My name is Maria ", the old hag introduced herself to the young master.
"I hope you haven't stayed in the street last night... They can be dangerous. Assassins, Rogue Vagabonds... How have you been?", Maria tried to make herself appear as if she cared about the well-being of her future opponent. Who knows, perhaps they could stay allies till one of them is inconveniently destroyed by one of the other five teams?
"[Oh no. I have found a very fine establishment to rest in.]" Sophie was mildly concerned though, she though it sounded rather unbelievable that the city was really that dangerous on it's own. On the other hand she didn't feel much fear from common thugs of any strip as long as Berserker was watching over her. The thought caused Sophie t turn around and give a nervous glance at the so far quiet champion. True, she didn't expect him to suddenly attack here in the open without her command, but with who he was it was tough to be 100% sure.
"[Still it's a refreshing to talk with someone else in the mother tongue.]" Sophie said as she turned back, now a bit more cheerful. "[I don't hold it against the locals to talk in their language, but... well...]" She gave a nervous laugh as she switched momentarily to slightly fractured and badly accented Japanese. "I'm not so acceptable."
As her mind drifted back to things at hand Sophie became a little dour again and switched back to German. "[Were you there? At the bridge?]" She asked. Sophie knew that the woman before her could easily lie, but she had to ask. "[I could feel the spells, but I can already see that such echos were nothing compared to what actually happened.]"
" Oh no. I have found a very fine establishment to rest in.", the girl spoke worryingly. Perhaps Maria's hints have seeped into her subconsciousness. By making her appear like the only friendly face in the war, Maria could turn that sweet little girl into her lovely ally. Time will tell.
" Still it's a refreshing to talk with someone else in the mother tongue...". Maria only listened carefully to what Sophie had to say. She tried very hard not to show any signs of satisfaction. " I don't hold it against the locals to talk in their language, but... well...", Sophie mumbled at the end before she continued in Japanese - that infernal tongue she couldn't quite understand.
Maria tried to let out a consoling smile out towards Sophie as she continued talking. Her sweet voice was easy on the ears but it only reminded her of herself years ago.
" Were you there? At the bridge?... I could feel the spells, but I can already see that such echos were nothing compared to what actually happened.", she asked Maria curiously. Giving away some information won't prove to be a challenge - after all, she is bound to find out at some point. Might as well act nice and speak up.
Maria started walking away from Sophie away from the bridge and signaled her to follow.
"Lets have a walk, I can tell you then", she suggested.
"I have witnessed most of it", Maria began with her lecture, "The end of a battle between a knight class and an Assassin left the warrior injured. It was then that another servant holding a lance came to the scene in his automobile. A massive wave of fire erupted, cutting the bridge in half - leaving the injured servant with no escape route - except for the river... and so they broke the ground beneath their feet and fled through the river."
"I...", Maria stopped walking and turned to face Sophie, "I didn't fight. I was too scared". Maria lowered her gaze in shame. Perhaps she could garner some more sympathy from her newly acquired acquaintance.
Outside other people saw the two, but their eyes fooled them when they gazed upon Maria - instead of an old woman in a fur coat what they saw was a pretty young woman, only a few years older than sophie.
Sophie began to follow Maria without really thinking about it. Now that the pair were in different light Sophie could get a much better look at her new companion. The way she looked so old and haggard struck a deep blow into Sophie's heart; she wasn't even sure if she could bring herself to raise a hand against someone who looked like she needed to be in a nursing home. The worst though was possibly the woman's hair; the limp strands were a mess, their ends frayed and unkempt. Someone who cared so little about their own body, how they looked, it told a story to Sophie; of someone who had given up on even them self in someway. Sophie couldn't imagine what would drive someone to that, and then send them here, to fight.
When Maria turned to face her Sophie had to hurry to rub a tear out of her eye. "[Oh Maria.]" She couldn't help but let sympathy spill into her voice. Sophie began to slowly lift her hands and placed them lightly on Maria's shoulders. "[I don't want to fight either. All of this seems like a stupid way to decide anything.]" Then Sophie's voice became a little bit lighter as she had a thought. "[Hey, I have an idea. How about we not fight? Maybe we can stick together and figure out something else we can do?]" Sophie gave what she hoped was an encouraging smile.
" Oh Maria...", the young girl seemed to pity the old hag. She tried to comfort her by placing her hands over her shoulders, " I don't want to fight either. All of this seems like a stupid way to decide anything.". Maria slowly nodded her head in agreement without looking up to meet Sophie's gaze.
" Hey, I have an idea. How about we not fight? Maybe we can stick together and figure out something else we can do?", the girl spoke to Maria cheerfully with hopeful words. Maria realized that the girl herself was not ready for this task - and was pushed towards it, or perhaps she was playing her just to stab her in the back. The old hag looked up to see the girl smile at her as if she offered to be her friend.
"Yes", Maria suddenly smiled back at Sophie, "I... I couldn't bring myself to hurt someone like you or... anyone else". Maria looked away from the girl in shame as she wiped away at her eyes to hide her fake tears. She felt something odd in the air - there was a third seal nearby.
"Excuse me...", Maria said when she pulled out her eyeglasses and put them on with a faltering grip, "...My eyesight is not what it used to be. I want to see you better". Maria took another look at Sophie before turning away from her and looking around herself. "Do you want to join me?", she asked the girl when she noticed a light coming from a street away, "I could use a cup of coffee. It was a rough night yesterday".
Sophie immediately perked up as she clasped her hands together. "[Yes, that sounds wonderful.]" Sophia couldn't believe her luck that the first master she had so far encountered was a friendly one, or at least pretending to be. "[The place I went for breakfast only had tea and I've been hankering for some coffee for a while now.]" For a moment Sophie didn't pay any mind to any wars as she looked around the street.
Spotting a shop down the street that looked promising she grabbed at Maria's hand. "[How about there?]" Then she began pulling gently, yet quickly and firmly without waiting for an answer. Quickly she reached the door and pushed it open when suddenly she stopped dead with a foot inside the door. There was no mistaking that strangely familiar pull, another master was inside the restaurant...
Dirk looked up from his phone with only a modicum of interest. He felt a strange tugging in his hand. One that he'd first felt the night before.
Masters... two of them, I think.
He watched the door to the shop open, and from his corner booth watched a pair of young women walk in. Both were very clearly foreign. Dirk scoffed, giving a once-over to their appearances.
They make this too easy. That's them, then. I don't think I recognize either. And if they're together... an alliance?
You're the Masters of either Assassin, Caster, Archer, or Berserker. I wonder which?...
Dirk snapped back to the present, at the young woman who stood by his booth. She held a little notepad in her hand, ready to take another order. "Were you planning on getting anything else?"
Dirk mulled it over before muttering, "White mocha, please."
The waitress nodded sweetly and jotted his order down. Dirk raised up a hand to stop her as she turned away, and she swiveled right back to face him.
"Was there something else, sir?"
"Yes, there was," he stated, looking back at the two newcomers. This should be interesting...
"Get them two cups of coffee, please; my tab."
"Right away, sir."
The waitress scurried off to acquire the orders, allowing Dirk to lean back in his booth seat. He popped his neck, loosening up the joints as he crossed a leg. His advantageous position allowed him to watch the pair as if he were simply looking forward. No need to draw attention to himself.
Let's watch this play out.
Sophie scanned the inside of the restaurant as her eyes adjusted to the new light level. Though she could feel the pull of her seal there were also several patrons inside and it was hard to single out who was causing the reaction. After a moment She began to pull Maria again though this time it was much more slowly and cautiously.
Pausing for a moment she looked back at Berserker who had so far followed along. "[Why don't you stay outside for a little bit? But stay alert.]" She spoke with a low tone to her quiet servant.
Beginning to move again she indicated to the server that she would like to sit in an empty corner both. It was near a window, but would allow both Sophie and Maria to sit with their backs not exposed to the dining room. With that determined, Sophie led Maria over to the seats her grip a little tighter now; no longer so joyful, but protective instead.
"[Someone's here.]" She whispered to Maria as they took their seats.
Maria was satisfied with the recent turn of events. The girl she met seemed to be fond of her, or to be exact - protective of her. Moreover, she left her servant outside while the two went into the establishment seemingly unprotected. However Maria was still uncertain how the events will unfold with the addition of a third master. The old hag didn't have much time to react before she was lead forward by Sophie. She didn't resist being the submissive side in their interactions - it would only make her more sympathetic towards the lovely girl.
The two sat down at a booth overlooking the street outside through a large glass window. The girl seemed to scan the room anxiously looking for a sign that will let her find the third master. Maria had already pinpointed the little delinquent - a young male teenager who appeared to be a local Japanese or Asian.
" Someone's here.", the girl whispered worryingly to Maria. The old hag nodded in agreement but before she could point out the person in question a waitress approached the two. Maria was surprised at the quick reaction time from the staff but what was stranger was that she walked towards them with two cups and a coffee jug. She placed the two cups on the table and smiled at the two young women, saying something in Japanese before pouring Maria's cup first.
"What is she doing?", Maria asked Sophie in German hoping for an answer.
The waiter left quickly after hearing someone cry out to her. The place was filled with foreign words Maria could barely understand and irritated her to no end.
"It feels so strange here...", Maria mumbled as she opened her little bag over the table and pulled out a cigarette packet and a lighter. She placed the tube in between her lips and lit the end, sucking on the first wave of smoke and then blowing it out through the glass window outside.
Maria then looked back at Sophie and smiled. "Old habit", she said, "I only do it when I'm nervous...". "I haven't smoked in years", Maria leaned forward and whispered.
Sophie frowned a little at Maria's cigarette as she cleared her throat obviously and pointed at a sign nearby that clearly stated in Japanese and pictures that smoking wasn't allowed in the restaurant. However, the infraction seemed only a minor distraction at the moment as she considered what the waitress had said. "[She said that one of the regulars wanted to give us some coffee.]"
She gave another quick glance around the dining room looking for who it could be. She was positive that it had been the other master who had placed the order, though who that was still escaped her. Sophie knew that both herself and Maria were foreigners and that meant that multiple pairs of eyes were watching them; that would be no way to find the mystery person. Sophie felt a bit of frustration starting to well up. That was the second time today that another master had gotten the drop on her and she felt like someone, somewhere would be thinking her quite the fool.
"[I suppose we should go introduce ourselves.]" Sophie wasn't quite able to hide the hint of a growl as she fingered the coffee cup in front of her. It wasn't as though she thought it might be poisoned or anything, but she couldn't get the idea out of her mind. It didn't help either that a small amount of Maria's smoke was floating over and agitating her throat.
Maria was slightly surprised by Sophie's response to her short sinful experience. Times have changed indeed, and she wasn't aware there were so many places you couldn't smoke in. She sighed in disappointment before putting the cigarette to her lips one last time. Maria then crushed the end of burning cigarette on the windowsill and threw the half-burnt bud into the street.
"It's the boy", Maria tossed the name out like it was nothing, "the teenager sitting near the bar.".
Sophie quickly zeroed in on the young man that Maria mentioned. She had noticed him before, but now that she looked at him closer she was also positive that he was the mystery master. There was something in his eyes that others lacked; a way that he seemed to analyze the pair with such cool regard. However, Sophie was also a little surprised by his age. Were all the participants in the war children or grandparents?
Still, the thought of what Maria had said hung in her mind; he might even still be dangerous. And now here he was holding the advantage over her with such apparent ease. Well, she would just have to show that even if she was a fool, she could still get things done.
Sophie gave her hair a quick flip and without further preamble got up taking her coffee with her and walked over to where the teenager was sitting. She didn't really pay attention to weather Maria was following or not as she drew near. Flashing a quick friendly smile she started speaking to Dirk in rough and formal but understandable Japanese.
"I suppose we have you to thank for the drinks." She motioned at the large table that had once held Dirk's companions, but now was empty save for him. "Mind if we sit with you for a bit?" She asked. Sophie considered that weather he was going to be a friend or an enemy, it would be best to get to know him a bit.
"Mind if we sit with you for a bit?"
Dirk waved his hand, gesturing for the pair of ladies to sit across from him. As they slid into his seat, the waitress returned with his own drink. He thanked her quietly and took it, taking a sip as he got a closer look at the two of them. He pushed his shades up the bridge of his nose, settling them back over his eyes after they had begun to sink. Orihara's face was perfectly stoic as he studied the two briefly.
"Don't mention it," he briefly said, about the drinks. "You looked a little lost. This city can be unforgiving to foreigners."
His eyes, hidden though they were, rested on Sophie first.
That look she gave me before... She must know who I am, then. Doesn't seem hostile, yet. Let's see how we can use that. But her...
His eyes lazily drifted to Maria. He watched the young woman closely as she sat.
There's something odd about you, lady. Something off. But what, I don't know...
The thought was already beginning to tickle in his mind, pricking at him, begging to be solved. He resisted the urge to go on a tangent right there, and kept his focus on the conversation he should be having. Even if they knew who he was, there was still some fun to be had as the friendly bystander.
"What brings you both to Fuyuki?" he asked of the pair. "There's not much around here that would interest tourists."
A betrayer of the lowest form is our enemy then.
While Dirk had researched their enemy, the knight had stood behind him, reading over his shoulder. Saber had continued to stay by Dirk's side throughout the lunch, just waiting for the Assassin or Caster to create some sort of mischief, though he was thankful they had not, but at the same time, slightly disappointed, he was unsure of why exactly and that bothered him. To pass the time, he walked around the establishment.
A waiter brought drinks and food to customers, a man - little more than a boy really - in the back stood cleaning a stack of dirty cups, eyes distant, his movements lethargic and seeming to convey a feeling of despair. Under his breath, just out of reach of hearing for a human's ear, but well within the range of a servant, he spoke to himself of places far away, places Saber had never even heard of in his lifetime, of lands across the great ocean in the west, and all seemed to have something to do with travel. Angel Falls, Easter Islands(A holy site of great importance Saber assumed), and others he had not the time to fully comprehend. The boy was shocked out of his trance by the manager walking by and slapping him on the back, a new tray of dirtied dishes set down and a reprimand that "Kenchi" get back to work and to stop daydreaming.
A frantic pace of washing the plates, cups, and bowls ensued. Kenchi quickly finished the stack he had been working so slowly on before resuming the slow cleaning and vacant stare, though this time instead of talking about far-off places, he instead grumbled.
"Old man thinks I can't make it out there, I'll show him, I've only got three years until I'm out of here, and I'm not coming back. I don't want this place, let Yono inherit this place, I don't want it. This place stinks, this town stinks, this whole country, stinks!" The sound of ceramic breaking in his hands made him look down to where he had smashed the soup cup he'd been washing against the counter. A deep depression set in almost immediately and the frenzy he'd been in earlier came back full, as he scrambled to find the pieces before his father appeared again.
"What am I kidding...I can't even go a day without breaking something, what am I gonna do out in the real world?"
"What you are going to do is pick yourself up again and keep walking Kenchi."
The boy almost jumped out of his own skin at hearing Saber, who had materialized in his suit and gloves again while the dish washing boy had been on the ground. Though he had covered most of his face by crossing his arms and holding it with his hands.
"W-w-w-w-who are you?,"He asked in a voice little more than a whisper.
"Simply an old friend of people much like yourself,"He walked around the counter, his shoes making so little noise the boy believed himself to be going deaf a moment before realizing that it was simply the way the man walked, Saber picked him up and continued on with his little speech to the dish washer, "Being unsure of your abilities is a common problem among those your age. The only thing you can do here is to keep getting yourself back up and doing everything you can to avoid the mistake you made the last time you fell. I believe your father is simply hoping you stop dreaming about doing something and actually do it,"He dusted the apron off as Kenchi stood stunned, his heart in his throat, what was this strange man doing here?
"Now, try not breaking any more dishes, I believe I hear your father coming."
Kenchi nodded before the words hit him, and spun around to see his father backing into the room, a new tray, this one much lighter than the previous loads, only to turn around and seeing Saber nowhere in sight. Although his father asked him what was wrong, all he did was smile and answer "Nothing Da, I'll get these done right quick. Sorry for not being here earlier, guess I was just tired."
The knight watched a few moments more before returning to Dirk's side, where two women sat across from him. And judging from Dirk's flickering of the eyes and his own slight pull nearby them, these were Masters. And as one appeared completely soaked in mana,at least to his spirit body eyes, she was either very cautious, arrogant, or had something to keep behind that curtain. To add onto to it, they both were very near to his home, in terms of their overall appearance. An almost welcome sight actually.
"What brings you both to Fuyuki? There's not much around here that would interest tourists."
That is good, feign ignorance, even if they know you know, a valuable skill when dealing with others, especially powerful individuals such as these two. Little can be known for sure, always keeping them guessing, even if it is at the back of their minds.
Sophie quirked her head slightly at the young man's response. While Maria had been so forthright, this boy seemed to be playing dumb despite the fact that he had been obviously found out. The young man's response still puzzled her. Sophie turned a little to Maria, "[Why would he play dumb?]" She asked keeping her voice down. She was speaking in German, but there was still no reason to let the new master overhear her.
On the other hand she had to say something, why not play along. "Well..." She replied across the table in Japanese trying to think of how to phrase it. "I suppose you could say we're here for a competition of sorts." She wondered how that would go over. "I'd guess you might be interested in that kind of thing?"
"I'd guess you might be interested in that kind of thing?"
Dirk flexed an inquisitive eyebrow at the young woman's question. His lips stretched, considering what she'd said.
That sounded like German. Interesting.
"Competition, hmm? Yeah, I think you could say that. Competition is something of a... passion of mine. Heh, sehr gut."
He let the little piece of German drop casually, as if he'd done it without even thinking. Truthfully, that was just about the only phrase he knew in that language.
But, of course, they don't know that. Maybe you'll think twice about whispering your gossip to one another, now?
"What kind of competition are we talking?" he asked, shimmying deeper into his seat. He grabbed his mocha again, knocking back a fair gulp. "Sports? Kendo, maybe? Or, no, I suppose that's not too popular outside of Japan. Baseball, perhaps?"
His eyebrow arched again, suspicious and knowing. "Or maybe something a little more... dubious?"
Maria was again dragged behind Sophie as she made her way to the table where the boy sat at. Maria carried her drink with her. She watched as the two exchanged Japanese words - she could recognize two words from the bunch, but it all seemed like gibberish to her.
The boy continued to talk and seemed to have asked the two of them a question.
" Why would he play dumb?, she asked Maria curiously. The old hag shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.
"This situation is filled with uncertainty and deception. Be careful with your words...", Maria answered in German.
The boy answered again, but this time Maria caught him use a phrase in German. His skill was very poor at pronouncing those words, but she wondered... did he understand her?
"I can't follow the Japanese", she pled Sophie to translate what the boy had said, "What is he saying?".
"[What is he saying?]"
She seems confused. Let's try a little more diplomacy, then.
"[I'm saying,]" Dirk responded, this time in English. The accent was slightly noticeable, but the pronunciation and grammar were perfect. "[that I find competition very interesting, and I'm eager to know the sort that brings you here.]"
A short gesture to a passing waitress sent her scurrying off, returning a moment later with fresh coffee, sugar, and cream. She set the tray down, mumbling some complimentary phrase in a rush before bounding off to attend to the other customers. Dirk snuffed a bit watching her go. Chizuru was kind of cute, in the way she so frantically worked around the shop. Like an eager puppy.
He picked up a little cube of the sweet, white powder, and slid it across the table towards the girls.
"[Cream? Sugar?]" he asked nonchalantly. He didn't bother waiting for an answer, and poured a bit of the former into his mocha. He took a loving sip of the sweet drink, exhaling softly as he set the cup back down.
"[This is a very lovely shop. The coffee's good, and the soy sauce is made in-house. I'm in here more often than not. I think I'd miss it if I were to ever leave Fuyuki.]"
Even behind his shades, it was obvious to tell that his eyes were focused on the pair now.
"[I'd imagine you have places like this where you come from, right? Something you'd miss?]"
He took a few lumps of sugar, silently counting them off as he plopped them down into his coffee. One, two, three, four.
"[This competition... must be very important, to make you leave those places behind. Tell me, if you don't mind my asking, what do you hope to gain from this 'competition'?]"
Mordecai sighed in frustration. Of course Magi don't like footnotes, why would they? Still, he learned a few useful things for defensive magic, cost effective too. It wouldn't stop a raging servant, but it'd work against a number of weak spells. Judging by Assassins wounds and story, that was all Sabers team were using.
Mordecai smiled, and laid back in his bed. He didn't want to test it, not right away anyways, but it was a good start. It wasn't getting too dark yet, speed reading really helped him. Perhaps he could test it...
He hopped up, closing the curtains, putting up a do not disturb sign, made sure his neighbor was still going at it (he somehow was), and got to casting.
"Feet planted, hands held out in front of you, insane amounts of concentration...." Mordecai followed his spoken list, and shut his minds of any thoughts not helping the casting. He exhaled slowly, and the shield began to form. It was much like his healing spell, a clear, glowing liquid creeping from the center of his palms. Unlike his healing spell, it didn't keep going till it hit something, it stopped for a second, swirling around and expanding in a circle. It's gelatinous motions looked odd, yet hypnotizing. The swirling stopped when it grew to its' full size, 3 feet in total. Mordecai dropped the spell, the event maybe taking a dozen or so seconds. He could hold it for longer, but using up all your prana was a bitch. He sighed again, happy that it could at least be made. he could fully defend himself. And now to wait for Assassin, as Mordecai had come up with a plan.
I love it when I'm devious. Mordecai thought, grinning wolfishly.