Fate/route

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March 30, 2015 9:14pm
Fate/route

This is going to be a Route 50 crossover with the Fate series. It is not part of RouteSaga and does not take place in the same continuity as RouteSaga. For those unfamilar with the Fate series, this should explain how the Holy Grail War works.

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Day 1 - Monday
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Ilex green and silver white, the signature colors of the Route. The magus donned her school uniform in the mirror. Still young and freckled, brown hair spilling over her shoulders. Perfect.

She checked her phone; just a few minutes until it was done charging. She could afford to wait a few minutes. Grabbing her mother's journal, she held the fire-pendant close to the pages.

A lightning rat and a leafy cat. Two heroes, but one Heroic Spirit. Joined in death as well as life. If she could summon this pair as her Servants, the war was as good as won...

Mae's phone rang. Getting off her bed, the magus answered. She heard heavy breathing, as if the person on the other side had just run a long distance. "Frosti?" No, not quite. "Who is this?"

"Just... think of me as a friend," said the caller heavily. "Maestra Flarrior, are you planning to fight?"

Her breath snagged in her throat. "Yes," she replied cautiously. "How do you know about me--"

Suddenly, a power surge flooded the charger cord, a sharp burst of static in the mage's ear. Cringing, she pulled the phone away from her ear--and the screen was dark.

Frowning, Mae pressed the power button, tapped the screen, shook the device. No good. Her phone had been inexplicably fried.

Downstairs, the landline rang. Hurrying down to the dining room, Mae answered the phone. Same caller. "That's no good," said the voice. "Maestra, you must not participate in the war."

She was stunned. "What? Why?"

The voice was deep and familiar. "Because you already know about the flaw in the template. You already know that no good can come from this Grail."

"You must be one of my opponents," snapped Mae, fingers curling into a fist. "Trying to knock out the competition before the game starts? Listen, you! I don't care what you say. I'm going to--"

Dial tone. Mae stared at the receiver in her hand. Her heart pounded. Was she being watched? Glancing around frantically, she hurried back upstairs.

Nothing. Her room looked just the way she'd left it. Quickly, she put away the fire-pendant and her mother's notes, resealing her drawer.

Glaring at her now-fried phone, Mae grabbed her bookbag and headed down the stairs, locking the door on her way out. She should have left three minutes ago, after all.

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The city of Shioko, a union of Hoenn and Johto values. That great destination of the Route, the fifty caravans who left the Hollow Quarry far behind. That's what the stories said, anyway.

Lunchtime. She hadn't touched her bento yet. From the rooftop, Maestra gazed over the city, her eyes drifting to the abandoned construction site. Cinder blocks, bags of cement, and slabs of glass littered the area.

The construction site was in the center of the city, a prime space. Surely, it would appeal to some business? But the lot had been abandoned for as long as Mae could rememeber.

"But sensei? The TA isn't answering any of my calls? So how do I get the study guide?" Blinking, Maestra peeked down the stairwell to see an underclassman pleading with Ms. Aurore, arms flapping like wings.

Aurore crossed her arms. "I'm sorry, but I don't have time to prepare notes for all of my classes," she said crisply. "That's what the lectures are for. Both you and Twiggy have got to stop ditching class, Nep." Stunned, Nepeta stared as the teacher walked away.

Approaching from behind, Mae tapped Nep on the shoulder with a book, startling her. "Psst. It's for comp lit, right? Want me to lend you my notes from last year?"

Nepeta's eyes widened. "You'd do that for me, senpai?" she stammered, her face going red. "Thank you so much!"

"Yepyep. Gotta help my juniors and whatnot." Truthfully, Mae's face was hot too, not that she'd admit it. "Come by on..." Saturday should work, even if the war wasn't over by then. "I should be free Saturday morning. See you then."

--------------------------------

And so, classes came to an end. Alone, Maestra returned home. She wasn't there today, either. A book tucked under one arm, she entered her house, closing the front door behind her.

A red light on her answering machine was flashing: one new message. Frowning, Mae hit the play button. "Maestra?" said a cool, female voice. "As you know, the deadline is tomorrow."

The magus stood stiffly. "If you plan to take part in the Grail War, summon your Servant tonight. If not, let me know now, so I can arrange for a substitute magus to arrive."

As Kat's message ended, Mae scowled at the phone, her fingers glowing with a charging spell. No, calm down, she told herself. No need to blast the phone and set the house on fire... again.

It had been ten years since the previous Holy Grail War--the conflict that reshaped the face of the Route. A power struggle, not between regions, but between people.

She looked at the faint bruise-like mark that had formed on the back of her hand a few days ago. The candidtates were determined; the Grail had chosen her. There was no turning back now...

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"Urgh... almost there!" Gasping for breath, the boy with steel-blue eyes carried the massive shield down the sidewalk, drawing stares from passerby. He wore a safety helmet and a silver backpack that gave him the appearance of a large Aron. "Come on...!"

Reaching his truck, Toyguy heaved the great shield into the back before climbing into the cab. "What a stroke of luck!" he chirped, examining a diagram of a magic circle. "I can't believe I found such a perfect catalyst just lying around on the ground..."

Several blocks away, a man in Ylissean plate armor with gold stripes trudged down the street, clanking with each step. "How did they not notice my shield vanish?" grumbled Kellam, moving through the crowd that didn't notice him at all. "This is getting ridiculous. Who just randomly steals a shield from its owner's tent, anyway?"

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"You'd like to check this out, right?" said Gretel calmly, gesturing to the book on the counter. Nodding, Metatyph handed her his library card.

A new Holy Grail War was starting. Fiery images danced in his head as his fingers traced the symbols on the book's cover. He'd been waiting many years for this opportunity...

The Meowstic handed back his card. "All set! It's due back in one month."

Exiting the library, Typh trotted down the street eagerly, clutching the book close to his heart. It'd been almost a decade--but he would finish what his teacher had started.

"On loan from the Canalave Public Library, huh?" he muttered to himself, looking over the book as he approached his house. "Well, then. Let's get started..."

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Deep in the woods, another Master prepared her magic circle. Brushing dust off her pants, Twiggy placed a Pokemon Platinum cartridge in the middle of the clearing. Taking out her bo-staff, she began to draw a magic circle around the game card.

She glaned at the twisted runes that had appeared on the back of her hand a few days ago. The sign that things would begin to change, at long last.

Her eyes flickered with growing delight as she etched the runes in the soft, fertile soil. "Okay, I got this," she whispered, almost purring. "Everything's gonna be okay. Life sucks but we'll fix it. I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. Okay, where are we...?"

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You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
March 30, 2015 9:37pm
"Silver and iron for the elements. Stone and the Archduke of Contracts for the foundation. My great master for the ancestor."

A magic circle glowed blue on the floor of Maestra's living room. In the ceneter lay a picture of Sparktail and Thalia, gazing into each other's eyes.

The lights dimmed as Mae completed the circle's runes and stepped back. Reaching with her mind, she switched on her Magic Circuits, gritting her teeth against the mana flowing through her nerves.

"A wall for the descending winds," she recited, spreading out her arms. "Close the gates of the cardinal directions. Come forth from the crown, and follow the forked road which leads to the kingdom."

"Fill. Fill. Fill. Fill. Repeat five times. But when each is filled, shatter it."

"I announce! Thy body shall be under my command; my fate shall be determined by thy sword. In accordance with the quest for the Holy Grail, if thou would obey this mind, this reason, then answer my call."

"I make this oath: I shall become the virtue of the world. I shall lay out the sin of the world. Thou art Seven Heavens clad in Three Divine Words. Step forth from my circle, O guardian of balance!"

A blinding wave of light swept out from the magic circle. One hand up to shield her eyes, Maestra squinted at the forming shadow in the center as the light cleared---

"The hell?"

In the magic circle sat a fox, wagging its tail happily. Mae swore. "Damnit! What did I do wrong?" she muttered. Rubbing her shadowed eyes, she flipped through her book rapidly. "No, I drew the circle right... everything was aligned right--"

"That's right! Everything went right!" chimed in the fox. Rising to all fours, he padded up to the magus. "I accept your contract, Master. My lance shall be with you, and your fate shall be with me. Let's do our best together!"

A long silence. Mae stared at the fox with growing disgust. This was a Heroic Spirit? No, more importantly--THIS was her Servant? A fox like this was too frail to ever last a single battle!

Lancer's eyes widened as the magus suddenly attacked him with a broom. "I don't want you!" she snapped, swatting at him, sending the fox scurrying into the corner. "Go back and send someone else!"

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+ Lancer
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Master: Maestra Flarrior
True name: ?????
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Strength: C+
Endurance: C
Agility: B
Mana: B
Luck: C- (A)
Noble Phantasm: B
Magic Resistance?: C.
Battle Continuation: D. Lancer kept projects that had little to no chance of completion. He will continue to resist his opponent even when the battle has already been lost. At this level, it is not so much a defiance of fate as it is being a sore loser.
Authority: E
--------------------------------

A great pillar of smoke rose from the magic circle, and Metatyph cautiously stepped back to watch. A short teenage girl wearing a white blouse and a black pleated skirt emerged from the haze, a red ribbon in her long, dark hair.

They stared at each other for a moment. "Yo," said the girl after a moment. She seemed to be forcing herself to break the silence, more than really trying to intiate a conversation. "So, you're my Master, then?"

Typh nodded nervously. "Yeah." The Servant's expression was completely unreadable. She didn't look like any of the knight classes. And she was definitely not Berserker or Assassin. Which left... "So.. you're Caster, then?"

She gave a small smile, but it was one mere of politeness. "Naturally, naturally." She wasn't cold, exactly--she was looking at him and facing him directly--but she hadn't taken a step out from the magic circle.

"So which Heroic Spirit are you?" asked Typh, casually pacing around the room. "You're human, so that rules out Rose and Shanala. You're not wearing Ylissean robes. And you're certainly not Zelda or Midna."

On the last few words, his shoulders were angled away from the Servant. Just in time, he glanced back over his shoulder and ducked as Caster flung a book at him, nearly missing his head and embedding itself in the opposite wall. "That should give you a hint," she told him coolly.

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+ Caster
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Master: Metatyph Tempest
True name: ?????
Alignment: Neutral Good
Strength: D
Endurance: E
Agility: D
Mana: A
Luck: B
Noble Phantasm: C
Territory Creation: C. Capable of creating a Secret Base.
Item Construction: E.
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The boy with the Aggron helmet sat cross-legged in the back of his truck. Reaching the final lines of the spell, Toyguy gave a sigh of relief and glanced around the compartment.

No one had appeared in the magic circle. No flash. No surge of magic. "Huh?" he muttered, getting to his feet. What went wrong? Had he done the spell wrong?

Scanning around the magic circle, he checked each rune to make sure he'd drawn them correctly. Yep, he had. All the preparations had gone perfectly. So why...?

A knock on the door. "Excuse me?" called a voice. "Is my shield in here?"

The boy opened the doors, revealing Kellam. "There it is!" declared the knight, pointing at the shield in the middle of the magic circle. "I'm sorry to disturb your carriage so late at night, sir, but you really shouldn't take things that don't belong to you--"

Eyes widening in awe, Toyguy approached Kellam. He hadn't heard a word the knight said; no one ever did. "Are you my Servant?" he uttered finally.

The question was so sudden it took Kellam by surprise. "Wh-wha--?!" Shaking his head, he folded his arms, his expression becoming stony. "That's enough playing around. As a knight of Chrom, Exalt of Ylisse, I demand that you return my--"

"I knew it!" exclaimed Toyguy happily. He glanced between the shield and Kellam's armor; yes, the colors and stripes matched perfectly. "This is your shield, right? You answered my summons, after all!" He began to do a little happy dance. "It worked, it worked. I'm in the Grail War now!"

Kellam stared at Toyguy, utterly bewildered. "That doesn't even--how did you come to that conclusion?!" he spluttered. "Look. I kinda need my shield, all right? We're currently at war with Valm--"

Excitedly, Toyguy paced around the truck. "Come to think of it; I didn't even notice you approach!" he murmured thoughtfully. "The armor and the spear threw me off at first--but no, it makes sense. You must be Assassin!"

"What?!" protested Kellam. But before he could so much as demand an explanation, his body flashed white, and mana began to flow into his body, sending the knight reeling to the ground. "Gah--it burns--"

Happily, the boy with the Aron helmet took Kellam's hand. "I'm Toyguy, your Master, and I've summoned you to participate in the Holy Grail War," he explained cheerfully. "Let's do our best together, Assassin!"

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+ Assassin (?)
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Master: Toyguy
True name: Kellam
Alignment: Lawful Good
Strength: A
Endurance: B
Agility: D
Mana: E
Luck: E
Noble Phantasm: ??
Angst: C
Prescence Concealment?: C. Can move around undetected even while wearing full plate armor.
--------------------------------

Even in the dim light, the Command Seals stood out on the back of Maestra's hand, shaped like a Blaziken's head. One for the hair. One for the beak. One for the eyes. A symbol of her contract--the wrong contract with the wrong Servant.

"Still don't understand where things went wrong," she muttered, glaring at her notes. "It would've been one thing if only one showed up, but this, this is the completely wrong spirit. What is this thing anyway, a background character to a background character--"

The fox picked up the carved mural, gazing at the Raichu and the Leafeon fondly. "So, the stories are still told," mused Lancer, curling his tail around his paws. "How wonderful..."

A book flew past him and hit the far wall, missing him by inches. "Nothing about this is wonderful!" snapped the magus. "How am I going to win now?" She might as well surrender right now and seek refuge in Kat's mansion--

A fluffy tail slapped her shoulder lightly. "Oh, is that what you're worried about?" said Lancer, his eyes gleaming. "Well, I wouldn't worry about that. My abilities are--"

Snick, click, turn. Mae froze as she heard the front door unlocking. "Quick, hide!" she hissed. Nodding, Lancer dove under the couch as the door opened.

"Nee-chan, I'm home," called Maestra's brother. A boy with long, golden brown hair stood in the doorway. He frowned at the floor. "What's going on?"

Maestra looked around the living room and sighed. "Welcome back, Nii-san," she said. She hadn't cleaned up her magic circle yet, so the living room was still a mess. "Just managing family affairs. Don't worry about it."

--------------------------------

As the two siblings left the room, Lancer emerged from behind the couch. Leaping up onto the windowsill, he gazed into the distance.

To the west stood the mansion on the hill--a lonely building with a single lit window, its walls cracked and moldy. Oldest of all buildings in the Route, the mansion cast a long, grim shadow over Shioko City.

The fox's gaze rested on a lone figure in the distant window. Slowly, a smile formed. Yes, truly, Shioko's third Grail War was about to begin...
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
April 1, 2015 9:53pm
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Day 2 - Tuesday
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Classes came and went in a blur. Maestra could barely focus; her thoughts were buzzing the entire walk home.

In past years, she might've walked home with her brother, but these days, he seemed to be staying after school later and later for club activities. "What club meets on Tuesdays, anyway?" she muttered.

Her Servant was waiting in the living room when she got home. Dropping off her pack, she changed into a collared blouse and pleated skirt, black with white lace. "All right, let's see what you can do," said Maestra, plopping down onto a couch. "What sort of hero are you, anyway?"

Lancer tilted his head questioningly. The magus massaged her forehead. "Oh for the love of... why are you even called Lancer?! You don't even have a--a--"

She trailed off as the fox rose up onto his hind legs, paws reshaping into hands and feet, a pencil-like dagger in one hand. Holding up the dagger, he twirled the small blade in his fingers, lengthening into a crystalline blue lance before Mae's eyes. "You were saying?" he said

She took a step back. This wasn't like her senpai's art magic, where one created a rough image and refined it into detail. Rather, Lancer seemed to have written the concept of the lance into existence around the dagger. "Where the hell did you get that?"

"It's my Noble Phantasm, silly," he replied, fingers running along its length with satisfaction. "Don't all heroic spirits come bundled with their symbol as heroes?" He snapped his fingers. "Which reminds me--I suppose I'll need armor, too."

His fur shrank, and a suit of dragonscale armor appeared on the fox's body; unlike the lance, the armor materialized normally for a Heroic Spirit. "Show me a target, Master, and I'll prove my skill."

Give him a test. Finally, Mae felt some confidence return. "See that bathroom at the end of the hallway?" she said, pointing down a corridor. "There's a framed UBW poster on the wall opposite the door. I need you to hit the person with seaweed hair."

A wide grin. "Easily done," said Lancer confidently. Without moving from his position, he flung the lance like a javelin down the hallway and into the bathroom, shattering the glass with full force.

Hurrying into the bathroom, Mae checked to see if her Servant had passed the test. Sure enough, the lance had struck Shinji Matou in his left eye, piercing the glass almost cleanly, with only a single crack touching the other faces. The magus frowned at her Servant suspiciously. "That was too perfect. How did you do that?"

"Do what?" he asked, a little too innocently.

Glancing back, she was completely shocked. The lance had definitely pierced Shinji's head, but it was off center of his nose, just under the eye. Most of the glass frame had been destroyed, fragments littering the floor. A mesh of splitering, white cracks obscured Sakura's face and one of Rin's pigtails.

Glancing down, Mae noticed thin smudges of blood where she'd stepped on the broken glass. "Hold still," said Lancer awkwardly, looking very apologetic and not at all confident. Carrying her back to the living room, the fox extracted any remaining glass slivers and washed her cuts. "My apologies, Master. I should have thought about it first."

Nodding, she reached for a hand broom and dustpan, tossing them to him. "It's fine, I'll heal quickly." Healing wasn't her specialty, but she'd invested enough research in that field for daily use. Something like this would be fine. "I probably should've removed the frame first. Or not rushed into a room with broken glass."

As he went to clean up the bathroom, Mae covered her face with her hands. Had her mind been playing tricks on her? I could've sworn it was a clean hit. But then again, a clean hit was illogical and impossible. Hmm.

She had the cuts closed by the time Lancer returned. "Well, Master," said the fox brightly, his lance at his back. "Shall we patrol tonight? Or did you want to do more testing."

"Nah, let's get going." Mae put on her boots, fastening the buckles. "Still don't know what you can do or who you are, but maybe you're not completely useless after all."

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+ Lancer
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Master: Maestra Flarrior
True name: ?????
Authority: E. Lancer carries a certain level of influence, but lacks the conviction to fully utilize his potential in this area. In some situations, he may be persuasive.
Illusion: B. Can manipulate information to create glamour, the physical illusion. Can create an illusion convincing enough to fool himself. Because the strength of his illusions rely on suspension of disbelief, close analysis will cause glamour to collapse.
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Three girls were heading home from school, the sun setting on the horizon. "Hey, anyone heard from Atar today?" asked Pokey, glancing to the others. Her rust-colored hair was slicked into spikes. "We gotta get that project done soon."

The girl next to her wore a cat-ear headband. "Nep stored most of the materials at Twiggy's house, I think," said Kittu nervously. "I haven't heard from either of them lately, though. What do you think, senpai?"

They both looked to the third girl, who was significantly taller. She wore a fox-tail ribbon in her dark hair and a light pink Kyubey shirt. "Maybe I can ask the TA to help," suggested Apsa dryly.

Across the street, Caster's familiar had returned. Crouching down, the Servant listened to the invisible phantom's report. "No sign of hostiles," she said concisely as Metatyph emerged from the alley behind her. "But there's traces of recent spells."

"Really now?" murmured Typh, glancing down to his Servant before looking down the street. The sky was approaching a dark, regal blue. "You'd think the other Masters would be out patrolling by now."

Caster nodded, her expression unchanged. "There's some students, but no magical signatures aside from our own." She frowned as Master stepped into the open. "It's almost as if--" Trailing off, her eyes narrowed. "Master! Get down!"

Whirling around, Metatyph hit the pavement as sweeping shadows struck at him from thin air, barely missing him. Rolling aside, he scrambled up, a ball of flames igniting in his hand. A gray figure with a gold helmet and a long, black cloak had appeared at the end of the street.

At last, an opponent had appeared. Stepping in front of her Master, Caster stretched out her hand. "Combat Familiar," she chanted, the wind gathering into swirling shadows around her. "Confirmed familiar materialization. Bernkastel, ayashii-kaze!"

At her command, the swirling shadows flew forward at the man like a howling demon. With inhuman strength, the Servant sprang up high over the wall of wind and landed with a deep tremor, the shadows twisting back toward him before collapsing.

Three successive fireballs from Typh struck the side of the Servant's golden helmet, bursting over his body. With a feral, rolling growl, the Servant charged at Metatyph, his cloak splitting into a pair of black wings with red spikes.

Moving back from the Servant's thrashing blows, Typh kept his eyes on the enemy. "Caster, call the rest of your familiars," he shouted, holding up his hand, a Command Seal vanishing.

"Combat Familiar: Peony, Belphegor, Swift, Yuki, Ra," chanted Caster, the magical energy in the air multiplying rapidly. "Confirmed familiar materialization. Peony, rifurekutaa!" She sent up a protective barrier around them both as wings swept forward, bouncing off the glowing bubble.

His face obscured by his helmet, the gray figure glared at Typh and Caster as the shield dissipated, the wings melting back into a cloak.

"Definitely Giratina's abilities," muttered Typh, gathering another bundle of flames in his hands as crimson blades gathered at Berserker's clawlike fingers. "But Giratina's not a Heroic Spirit--"

"Hey! Berserker, back off for a bit!" yelled a voice. Eyes widening, the gray Servant stepped back as a girl in a green tank-top and leather boots leapt down from a low roof, landing briefly on Berserker's shoulder before hopping to the ground.

Behind Metatyph, Caster crossed her arms. Twirling her bo-staff expertly, Twiggy planted her weapon in the ground and locked eyes with Typh. "So, you're Caster's master, huh?" she said coolly. "Never thought it'd be you."

Yeah. Typh hadn't expected to see her either. Not under these circumstances. "You and Frosti doing all right?" he asked, trying not to reveal how surprised he felt.

"None of your business," she shot back. "You're doing this for your mentor, right? Of course you are. Anything to keep the wheels turning." She studied at him for a moment, then turned away. "But I'll let you go. Just this once." Looking to Berserker, she motioned for him to follow her, and then strode off down the street, lithe as a tiger.

Metatyph stared after Twiggy and Berserker. "Wait! What's this?" he demanded. Was she making fun of him? "Where are you going--"

At the far end of the street, Twiggy stopped and looked back towards him with a sly grin. "You really wanna go, mate?" she called. "Cool, I'm game. Fight me, anytime you like."

Before he could reply, Caster stopped him. "We probably shouldn't fight them head-on," she warned him as Twiggy and Berserker turned the corner out of sight. "If he's a Berserker, we likely don't stand a chance against him alone. We should regroup and figure out what to do next."

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+ Berserker
--------------------------------
Master: Twiggy
True name: ?????
Alignment: True Insane (True Evil)
Strength: B+ (C+)
Endurance: A (B)
Agility: B (C)
Mana: C
Luck: E
Noble Phantasm: B
Mad Enhancement: C. Strength, Endurance, and Agility are increased by one rank, but one can no longer think and speak properly.
Angst: A+.
Divinity: C. Though having fallen from grace, Giratina's body is still the body of a god.
--------------------------------
+ Caster
--------------------------------
Master: Metatyph Tempest
True name: ?????
Familiars: B. Capable of forming strong bonds with familiars, and enacting strategies through her familiars.
--------------------------------


Running, running, running. Nepeta fled down the sidewalk. How did it come to this? She'd only wanted to finish that project with her friends.

As she entered the empty town square, a bolt of light blasted her in the back, and she fell to her knees. "Gah!"

Footsteps approached. "Sorry, kid. I don't really want to do this. But if I let you go, I'll never be able to fix this mess." A swell of mana. "At my signal..."

Nepeta cowered as her pursuer snapped her fingers. Nothing happened. "Eh? What're you waiting for?"

Another voice. "I told you not to go out there on your own! Just hang on, someone's approaching."

Desperately, she spread her fingers like wings, magic feathers spreading over her hands. This simple spell was the only magecraft she ever mastered.

It wasn't Nep's fault. She couldn't have known that Leopard drew his magic circle in this abandoned town square, ten years ago, during the last war.

As mana surged through her body, the magic circle under her feet activated for the first time in ten years, opening a path to the heavens...

--------------------------------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
April 26, 2015 1:20pm
Maestra scanned the silent city plaza. Magikarp Square had never been this quiet, she thought to herself. But then again, she didn't exactly come here at night very often.

She sighed irritably as Lancer scurried around on all four paws. "So much for secrecy," muttered the magus, watching him go around her in circles like a moon orbiting a planet. "This idiot's gonna--"

Wait. A magical signature? Faint, but there. Now, what were the chances of a magus living in Route 50 with no knowledge of the Grail War? "Hey, Lancer," she said to the circling fox. "Do you sense a Servant nearby?"

He abruptly slid to a halt, shifting back onto his hind paws, the leg bones thickening, the playful look in his eyes vanishing. "Yes, at least one," said Lancer, dragonscale armor materializing on his body. "Be cautious, Master."

"Of course, baka." Just outside Coolio's craft shop, a young woman lay unconscious on the pavement. Standing over her was a trembling girl in a glittering blue dress and reindeer antlers. "Nep?" uttered Mae incredulously.

The trembling girl glanced up as Lancer approached. Yes, this magical signature was unmistakably coming from Mae's kouhai. To think she could pass by a fellow magus in the hallway and not notice! "N-no!" gasped Nepeta, wringing her hands, a ribbon dangling from her wrist. "It wasn't me... it wasn't me!"

Eyes narrowing, Mae gathered multicolored sparks into her hands, just in case. "Miss, please show me your arm," ordered Lancer, reaching out a hand. "This will just take a moment."

Shaking her head, Nep backed up against Coolio's locked doors, keeping her left hand pressed over the back of her right. "No... don't come any closer--" Sinking to the ground, she curled up into a ball. "No!"

At that moment, Mae sensed a sudden swell of energy, a dark blur leaping over a nearby wall like a demonic bird. "Master! Look out!" shouted Lancer, pushing Maestra back as the blur rushed between them and Nep, followed by the strike of steel on steel.

"Huh?" A warrior in a black cuirass with white wrappings on her arms had appeared, blade rebounding off Lancer's polearm, immediately drawing back to slash at his legs. Parrying her sword, the fox swung his lance up at his foe's belly, forcing her to step back.

They froze. "Hello, Saber," greeted Lancer, eyes narrowing beneath his dragonhide helm. "I suppose I should've expected you." Behind Saber, Nep got to her feet and stared at them in confusion.

The light behind Saber made it hard to make out her features. "And the same to you, Lancer," replied the Servant. Moonlight gleamed off her blade. "You're breaking curfew, you know? Not that it matters."

Lancer nodded. "They say it's polite to look your enemy in the eyes in combat, but even without obstacles, you look away," said the fox lightly, though there was a growing edge to his voice. He nodded to the unconscious girl. "Was that your work?"

If Mae could get a good look at Saber's eyes, she was sure they would be filled with contempt. "Naturally," said the Servant dryly as they began to circle each other, their footsteps matching in rhythm. "Would I really leave my Master out in the open without protection?"

Mae stared at Nepeta as Lancer glowered at Saber. This went against the proper order of things. A Lancer ought to take the initiative. By priority of first strike, Lancers could pierce defenses and disrupt the enemy's carefully-laid plans. But Saber had struck first.

No good. She didn't know why Lancer was getting agitated, but the conditions were against them "Lancer! Don't attack them yet," she ordered, holding up her hand, one of her Command Seals disappearing. Immedistely, the fox halted and reluctantly lowered his lance.

Approaching the unconscious woman on the pavement, Maestra checked her pulse. Still alive. No external injuries visible. She glanced up to Saber. Though Mae couldn't make out her expression, the Servant nodded and backed away.

The girl with the antlers covered her face with her hands, her Eeveeraptor-shaped Command Seals visible in the moonlight. Taking her by the wrist, Mae pulled Nep to her feet, looking her in the eye. "So, kouhai," she said quietly. "You're in this war too?"

Nep stared at Mae blankly. This was the first time they'd encountered each other outside school, after all. "No--but yes--but not exactly," she stammered, shooting an uneasy glance to Saber behind her. "Senpai--what're you doing here? What's happening? Who's that fox? And--and--"

The magus formed a small smile. "That's right--you don't understand yet, do you?" she said, kneeling down by the unconscious woman. "Hey, help me carry her. Normal people shouldn't wander around at night for now."

From a high rooftop, a shadow watched the Masters carry the fallen woman away, eyes like flame.

--------------------------------
+ Saber
--------------------------------
Master: Pepper Nepeta
True name: ?????
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Strength: A
Endurance: C
Agility: D
Mana: C
Luck: C
Noble Phantasm: A
Magic Resistance: B. Effects of most spells are nullfied as if rubber-stamped "DENIED"
Procrastination: B+. At the start of battle, Saber is weakened and her instincts are dulled.
Authority: A-. Capable of commanding an entire city, if she wanted (though this would be unlikely).
--------------------------------

"I can't quite figure out how your spells work," muttered Metatyph, pacing around his living room as Caster buried her face in an open book, reading eagerly. "Each incantation has just two parts... and those parts sound familiar, but--"

Outside the window, Toyguy spied on Metatyph and Caster. "I never knew Typh was such a studious mage," mumbled the boy, staring at the large stack of tomes on the table next to Caster.

"So, these are our enemies?" muttered Kellam next to Toyguy. They don't seem that threatening."

Toyguy gasped. "When did you get here?" he spluttered, staring at his Servant.

Kellam sighed. "I've been right here," said the knight. "Just been sitting next to you this whole time."

"Impossible!" exclaimed his Master, placing his hands on Kellam's shoulder plates. "I never noticed you once. You really are Assassin class!"

Kellam just rolled his eyes. "So what're all those?" he asked, gesturing to the shiny objects around Toyguy. "Wind-up dolls?"

Toyguy held one object up for Kellam to see. In his palm was a life-size model of an Aron. " These are my familiars," he explained, setting the tiny robot on the windowsill and giving it a little shove. "They're extremely durable and constsntly transmit information back to me, so they'm make wonderful scouts--"

At that moment, a wave of heat swept out from the house as the Aron on the windowsill triggered Typh's boundary field. Alarmed, Caster shut her book and stood up, hefting it in one hand. "Who's there?" demanded Metatyph, fireballs forming around his hands.

Hastily, Toyguy tried to stuff the Aron scouts into his pockets "Crap, crap! Assassin, we'd better scram!" Frowning, he glanced around. "Assassin?"

"I'm right here," sighed Kellam, lifting Toyguy up onto his shoulders before fleeing from Typh's house.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
May 18, 2015 6:03pm
--------------------------------

Still carrying the unconscious woman, Maestra stared at the lonely tent on the sidewalk--hardly a suitable location for magecraft. "This is your house?" she uttered as Nepeta raised the entrance flaps. "You've gotta be kidding me."

Activating the lantern hanging from the tent's ceiling, Nep shifted uncomfortably as Lancer padded into the tent, sniffing around. "Well--it's my nest and it's enough for me, so yeah?" she said nervously as they laid the unconscious woman on the cot. "So...

Sighing, Mae sat on the floor, aware that Saber was watching her every move from a few feet away. "Right, let's talk. Firstly... you're just a novice when it comes to magic, right?"

"Well... I can make little whirlwinds with feathers," said Nep in a low voice. "I... I can't fly, but if I concentrate hard enough, I can shift the direction of the breeze--"

"Maybe it'd be easier to take her out now, Master," muttered Lancer, eyeing Saber suspiciously. "No need to form alliances. Only one can win the Holy Grail, after all."

"I-I'm not forming alliances or anything," insisted Mae, pushing the fox's head down. She looked Nep in the eye. "Listen, kouhai. Saber here is your Servant--a spirit summoned through time, bound by contract to serve as your familiar."

Some odd mixture of excitement and fear flicered in Nepeta's eyes at the word 'contract'. "Okay," she breathed, glancing briefly to Saber. "So she's a familiar. What sort of contract are we talking about?"

Mae grimaced. "Hold up your hand." Obediently, Nep held out her left hand to Mae. "No, your other hand." Taking hold of Nep's wrist again, she angled the command seals so they were clearly visible.

"This is a holy sign, proof that you're a Master. Each seal can be used to give your Servant an absolute command--but if you should use all three, you will lose control over your Servant. So use them wisely."

As Mae released her, the girl with the antlers stared at her Command Seals apprehensively. "Let's get to the point. You're in a battle between magi--a battle between Masters, the Holy Grail War. As your Servant, Saber's purpose is to help you defeat the other Masters--a fight to the death for the ultimate reward."

Her words had an immediate effect. Nepeta reeled back, aghast. "That's enough, Master of Lancer," said Saber quietly, stepping forward. "My Master ought to have this explained by the overseer."

Her first instinct was to protest, but after a moment, the magus realized Saber was right. "Lancer, get her to my house," she ordered, pointing to the woman on the cot. Nodding, the fox rose to two paws and picked up the woman, his armor and lance materializing. Getting up, Mae stepped out from the tent. "Let's get going. Quickly."

--------------------------------

On the third floor of the mansion on the hill, a woman in a white coat and jeans gazed out over the streets of Shioko below with a ghost of a smile. One hand reached to her pocket several times, withdrawing with nothing each time.

The front doorbell rang. Stepping to her desk, Kat buzzed them in. Voices echoed from the speakers. "She can't dematerialize?" muttered Maestra's voice. "That's a shame. See you when we return."

Kat's eyes flickered with light as she heard the foosteps climbing the stairs. A short pause. Then, three raps on the office door. "Come on in," she called, yawning.

The door opened, and Mae and Nep entered. "Welcome, Master of Saber," greeted Kat, leaning on her desk. "But this is a surprise, Mae. I never thought you would team up with someone else."

Maestra scanned the office uneasily. Kat's mansion always gave her a cold, lonely feeling. Its lavish rooms and hallways were furnished as if awaiting visitors, yet dim and dusty, seldom used. "Nonsense," she said coolly. "I just felt Nep here ought to know what she's gotten herself into."

Fear flickered over Nepeta's face briefly, and Kat's smile broadened. "Of course, of course." Moving over to the private fridge in the corner, she fetched a bottle of Pepsi. "May I interest you in anything to drink?"

Nep shook her head silently, and Mae impatiently tapped her foot. "What a shame," sighed Kat, pouring the contents into a tall glass. " Now... at its core, the Holy Grail War of the Route--or specifically, of Shioko City--is an attempt to replicate the miracles of Jirachi."

Nepeta frowned. "You guys keep mentioning the Holy Grail," she said tenatively. "Is this the 'real' Holy Grail? The one from Christian mythology?"

"Nope, but that's where this artifact takes its name," explained Mae. "Legends of a 'grail' predating even Christianity tell of a wish-granting cauldron. Many have attempted to find or create such a thing over the ages, but no one's ever succeeded."

Kat nodded. "The power of Jirachi is limitless, but only comes once every thousand years," she said, slowly circling them with her glass, her eyes bright. "Through the Holy Grail, we summon heroic spirits to fight as our Servants. With seven Masters and seven Servants, we can access the limitless power of the stars."

She laughed softly. "Heroic Spirits are summoned from every age, into every age, for all manner of purposes," murmured Kat, though seemingly more to herself. "This grail, this cup--if it could fulfill any wish, what mage wouldn't for such a thing?"

"I... I don't know," said Nepeta quietly. Kat halted, and Maestra looked at Nepeta, surprised. "Is it really necessary to fight over the Grail? If it's so special, can't we just... pass it around, or something?"

Kat closed her eyes. "I'm afraid it doesn't work that way," she said with a tinge of regret. "Only one person can obtain the Holy Grail. That is not something we chose, but what the Holy Grail has decided."

"Something the Grail decided?"

"Such limitless power cannot be earned easily," said the overseer grimly, turning to face the window with wide eyes. "The Grail chooses its candidates and their familiars. Only by emerging victorious over the other candidates can a Master become worthy in the Grail's eyes."

"And what if I don't want the Grail?"

There was a long silence. Maestra stared at Nepeta, shocked.

"Even if you don't want to fight, the other Masters will hunt for you," said Kat sternly, draining her glass. She tapped her nails against her desk. "Whether or not you want the Grail, you obstruct the path to the Grail."

"But--surely we don't have to actually kill the other Masters?" pressed Nepeta desperately. "Isn't there some way to like... take away their right as a master, but not actually kill them...?"

A thoughtful look appeared on Mae's face. "I suppose if we cut off the Master's hand, they wouldn't really have the Command Seals anymore," she mused. "They'd also lose authority over their Servant, and--"

"Wha--wait, senpai, no!" spluttered the girl, waving her arms like wings. "I mean--this is all so sudden? and I'm not sure if I'm ready to start killing people? Especially for something I'm not completely sure I want?"

"No, you don't have to kill the Masters for the Grail to appear," said Kat quietly, setting down her glass and gazing out the window, the gleam in her eyes vanishing. "But... if you could wish for anything--"

In that moment, Nepeta hesitated. In her head, she completed Kat's question. If you could wish for anything--just one small thing in this bleak, fading city--would you turn away that chance?

"There's nothing for it," said the overseer finally, turning to face Nepeta and Maestra, her eyes flickering. "If you should lose your Servant, whether by forfeit or by defeat, your only refuge in this city will be this mansion." A faint, wan smile formed. "But surely... it won't come down to that--right?"

Both Mae and Kat stared at Nepeta, waiting for her answer.

"I... I still don't know if this is something I desire," she said slowly, uncertainly, her heart pounding. "But... I'll fight. I will."

As Maestra and Nepeta made their way out of the office, Kat got up off the desk, her eyes bright. "Rejoice, Maestra," she whispered, an odd smile forming. "Your wish is about to come true..."

I have a wish?
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
June 2, 2015 12:40am
--------------------------------
It was dark when the two Masters reached Maestra's house. "You live here all alone?" uttered Nepeta as they crossed the front lawn, her jaw dropping.

The house wasn't that large--just a typical suburban home, nowhere near the size of Kat's mansion--but perhaps, compared to a tent, it might as well be a castle.

"Nii-san sleeps here, but I don't see him much," replied the magus, approaching the front door, frowning at the windows. "Probably in bed by now..."

Saber's voice cut through the air. "Wait, both of you."

Slowly, Mae and Nep turned to face the Servant. "Do you now have a better understanding of what the Holy Grail War is, Master?" asked Saber, looking at Nepeta with cool, narrow eyes.

A simple, reasonable question. But the words made Maestra's skin prickle. "Um, yes? There's seven Masters and seven Servants," said Nepeta awkwardly, staring at her Servant. "We're fighting for the right to grant a wish--any wish in the world."

"A single wish," corrected Saber. Maestra stepped back as the Servant pointed the tip of her sword at her neck. "We should not make alliances which we may have to break. Especially if you admire this person."

Nep was aghast. "That's ridiculous!" she protested. "Senpai--how, how can I turn on her--"

Odd. Why would Nep say something like that? They barely knew each other, after all. "No, she might have a point," admitted Mae. "Lancer said something similar." After all, only one could win the Holy Grail War and earn the right to use the Grail. "Still..."

She shouldn't get attached to a fellow Master, but she remembered the tent. Nep's tent. How could Mae send Nep away, knowing her kouhai had no house to return home to? "Truth is, though--"

She stopped as her brother came down the stairs. "Nee-chan, where've you been?" called Mystery. "Senpai called earlier, but you weren't home."

Mae's face became tinged with red. "Nii-san, you baka! Why didn't you let me know earlier?" she demanded, hurrying inside. "Frick, frick; how long has she been waiting? No good, no good..."

Staring after her, Mae's brother looked back to Nepeta and Saber. "Sorry about that," he said, running his fingers through his hair with an unsettling smile. "I'm Maestra's brother--call me Myste. You're friends of my sister, right?"

Saber rolled her eyes, but said nothing. "Not exa...well, I guess so," said Nep as they followed Myste inside. "I mean... not exactly? But like... maybe? And, um..."

Lancer was waiting patiently on the dining table as Mae entered, tail curled around his paws. "Welcome home, Master," greeted the fox, bowing his head. "The unconscious woman is currently resting in one of the guest rooms. She should be fine after a day's rest."

"Yes, yes, very good," she said distractedly, waving him aside as she hurried to the landline and dialed Frosti's number. "Hello? Fro, you there?"

A calm, steady voice filtered through the earpiece. "Mae, yo!" greeted Frosti's voice. "How've you been? Couldn't get a hold of you lately."

Relief and elation spread over Maestra's face. "Yeah, I heard you called earlier," she said hurriedly, trying not to sound nervous. "My cell got fried, sorry 'bout that."

Lancer watched in amusement as his Master chatted eagerly into the phone with Frosti. Projects, papers, relationship rumors. Just barely able to pick up Frosti's voice, he tilted his head at a slight angle, then shook his head.

Mae glanced around as someone knocked on the dining room's door. Right, time to wind down the conversation. "So--uh--when're you coming back to school, Senpai?" she asked. "Just wondering."

There was a heartbeat's pause. "Eh, I should be back in a week," said Frosti. ""Don't worry, nothing serious. Just gotta handle family business, y'know?"

A week? Mae's shoulders sank slightly. "No, no, it wasn't that I wasn't worried or anything," said the magus quickly, the tinge in her cheeks darkening. "A-anyway, good luck with that stuff. Night!"

Ending the call, Mae flopped down on a nearby couch, clutching at her heart and breathing heavily. Getting to his paws, Lancer hopped down from the table, grinning. "Well, Master, I think I have a better understanding of your personality."

Her glare was like a lash of venom. "Sh-shut up! It's not like I think of Fro that way or anything," grumbled the magus, curling into a ball, trying to hide her reddened cheeks. "I mean, I haven't--you know... ever been to her house or anything--"

She broke off as the door opened. "Senpai? Are you all right?" called Nepeta worriedly as she and Saber entered the room.

Freeze. Immediately, Lancer's eyes became thin slits, his grin vanishing. "What're they doing here?" he asked darkly, taking out his pencil-like dagger.

Regaining her composure, Maestra quickly sat up. No need for alarm, though; the Command Seal was still restraining the fox from attacking. "I--well, see, I can't let an underclassman sleep on the streets with the Grail War going on, so they're gonna stay here for now."

She gave Lancer a look. "They're our guests, so be nice, Lancer." The fox's jaw dropped.

"I'm afraid I share Lancer's misgivings," said Saber flatly, crossing her arms. "How do we know this isn't a trap?"

Sighing, Mae rubbed her forehead. "Look, if you don't want to stay here, I won't force you." She looked at Nepeta. Still shy, still confused. But something seemed to have gotten through.

Whatever Kat said, Mae was fairly certain that she had no wish. And the look in Nepeta's eyes, when she learned the power of the Grail... that meant Nep did have one.

"You're a novice, right?" said the magus. "Well, then--don't worry about fighting me just yet. Let's call an informal truce for now. You can stick around here for now. We have a lot of empty bedrooms--I had a lot of siblings. How's that sound?"

Saber's eyes narrowed suspiciously, her fingers curling into fists. Maestra held her breath. "Y-yeah! That sounds like a good idea," agreed Nepeta, grinning weakly. "Saber?"

Saber sighed. "I may not agree with this, but I will abide by your decision, Master," she said reluctantly.

Exhaling in relief, Mae got off the couch and shook Nep's hand. "Right--if anyone asks, I'm tutoring you, got it? Since that's pretty much what we were going to do anyway."

A tinge of pink in her cheeks, Nep gulped and nodded. "Got it!"

--------------------------------

Stone columns, choked in ivy. Happily, the girl danced across the ruined pavilion under the great shadow's gaze, leaves fluttering in the wind. An innocent, pure smile--or was it one of shameless crime?

With eager, bounding steps, she entered the tiny cottage in the blossom-speckled grove, vine-woven walls wreathed with pink nightshade petals. Proof of nature's dominance over human folly.

She gazed at the Luxray's head formed by her Command Seals, its teeth bared in a fierce scowl. "Isn't this perfection?" she whispered gracefully, though her eyes held a fierce gleam. "Isn't this how it ought to be?"

In thin, rasping growls, her Servant uttered his agreement. The old, gaping wounds still burned, still rang hollow and empty. The others didn't yet know that the Grail was well beyond their reach, long before they ever began--
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE

June 7, 2015 7:26pm
--------------------------------
Day 3 - Wednesday
--------------------------------

The man in the hallway wore a worn jacket, blue with green pockets. Examing himself in a dull mirror, he looked up as she approached with small, shuffling footsteps. "Papa?" she asked tenatively. "When will you come home tonight?"

He adjusted his glasses. "I don't know yet," he admitted, glancing down at a faxed memo in his hand. "Depend on how bad the situation is.2 Rescue work can be... unpredictable."

She stared at the floor, swaying slightly. "Will we... will we be able to keep the house?"

Frowning, Leopard knelt down in front of his daughter, resting his hands on her shoulders. "Listen, Nep," he said firmly. "You mustn't burden yourself with thoughts like that. You're still young. You have a life ahead of you."

His eyes were weary, but tender. "My job is to make sure that other people are safe. But your job is just to be happy. And as long as you're happy, I'm happy. So... so please, don't let yourself be weighed down by so much. All right?"

Trembling, she nodded slowly. "Can we... can we have mac and cheese tonight?"

He laughed softly. "Of course we can." Kissing her on the forehead, Leopard got to his feet and headed for the door. "I've left a hot bowl of oatmeal for you on the table. Take care, Nep."

Standing alone in the hallway, Nepeta watched her foster father setting off into the morning fog, the sky still dark. "You too," she whispered. "Come back safely, Papa..."

--------------------------------

The patio door slid open, and the boy crept outside. Still early morning, at least half an hour before they set out for school. Yes... plenty of time to set things into motion.

Entering the gardening shed, he gave the tiny makeshift altar in the corner a scowl. "Master," said his Servant sternly from the shadows. "You ought to pay more respect to your ancestors."

He snorted. "Don't talk like that, Rider. Ancestors? Family? What hollow concepts." Myste turned to face his Servant, a figure clad in black and red plate armor. "Anyway, I don't like the look of that girl who came in last night. She'll be the death of us all, I swear it."

The green eyes flared, then slowly became calm again. The Command Seal would remain intact. "But of course," he said, circling his Master with slow, careful steps. "All obstacles must be removed in order to reach the Grail. And the first obstacles have presented themselves."

In the faint morning light, the boy gazed at the wicked blade in Rider's belt, with a sheath to match his hellish armor. "No one would expect me to come this far," muttered Myste. "I'll have my dynasty. Soon, soon."

Nodding, Rider turned away, hefting a small red slab in one hand. "Now, Master," said the Servant, a black helmet appearing over his head. "Knowing your targets, and knowing who you have at your disposal... what would you have me do?"

--------------------------------
+ Rider
--------------------------------
Master: Mystery Flarrior
True name: ?????
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Strength: B-
Endurance: B
Agility: D+
Mana: C-
Luck: E
Noble Phantasm: A+
Riding: B
Magic Resistance: E.
--------------------------------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
June 20, 2015 12:39pm
Calm, deep breaths. Cautious, wary eyes. Zipping his jacket, the mage stared across his property with the wariness of a perching Taillow.

No. That wasn't quite right. Not like a hunter, searching for prey. He was on the defensive, not the offensive. This was his home, his den. Somewhere that ought to be safe from prowling eyes. A mage's prescence ought to be anonymous, after all.

"Did you figure out who last night's intruder was?" asked Metatyph as Caster returned with her familiars.

"Based on crystal memory flashes from last night, he's another Master." The Servant handed him a transparent crystal. "Apparently he was spying on us from the windowsill."

She frowned. "He then, uh... started talking to himself, accidentally triggered the boundary field, and... flew away."

Typh looked troubled. "I wonder why he would come alone?" he wondered aloud, squatting down by the footprints on his lawn. "Does he know about the Grail War? He wouldn't spy on another Master without his Servant for backup, right...?"

Caster lifted her head as one of her familiars nudged her shoulder. "Yeah, pretty much," she said to her Master. A small smile forming, she gently scratched her familiar under the chin.

"Well, I guess it doesn't matter." Shaking his head, Metatyph looked back at his house regretfully. "Anyway, this place is too vulnerable. We'd best move our base of operations elsewhere."

--------------------------------
+ Caster
--------------------------------
Master: Metatyph Tempest
True name: ?????
Familiars: B. Capable of forming strong bonds with familiars.
*new* Furniture: B. Best suited to passive roles. Will recieve a boost to Luck when playing support.
*new* Librarian of Stored Knowledge: B. Skilled at collecting, compiling, and collating information to form strategies. Can recall information perfectly due to having Uxie's blessings.
--------------------------------

Stirring, Maestra slowly sat up and rubbed her eyes, glancing around her room. Immediately, she felt dizzy, she felt as if her head was floating in a cold, morning fog. "Swear I wasn't drinking last night..."

Time to get up. Rolling out of bed, she pulled on her uniform and headed out of her room to grab some quick breakfast--

Wait. What was that smell of smoke? "Senpai!" called Nepeta, waving her arms frantically. "I-- I don't think foxes can cook!"

Groaning, Mae entered the kitchen to find Lancer scraping charred eggs off a frying pan. The fox froze. "Uhh, morning, Master," he greeted with a nervous laugh.

The patio door opened. Quickly, Mae shoved Lancer down so he could dematerialize out of sight. "What's all this?" called Myste, poking his head inside. "I smell fire and smoke. Were you trying to cook again, Nee-chan?"

--------------------------------
+ Lancer
--------------------------------
Master: Maestra Flarrior
True name: ?????
*new* Cooking: E. hope you like bitter guacamole and runny pasta lol
--------------------------------

30 minutes and one Servant punishment later, Mae, Nep, and Myste set out for school, followed by a dematerialized Saber.

"So, why are you letting Nep stay at our house again?" grumbled Myste. "She used my sink and it's a mess now."

Mae sighed. "Because her parents are out of town and she can't math," she said curtly, looking to Nep. "Right, kouhai?"

Nep looked away uncomfortably. Why was she feeling flustered right now? It was as if her body were made of feathers. "Y-yeah," she stammered after a moment, nodding. "I guess I just need to--"

"Yo, Atar," said a voice. Nep glanced back to see Pokey coming up the sidewalk, wearing a dark leather jacket. "You didn't answer any of your texts last night. What's up with that?"

Blinking, Nep patted her pockets for her phone. "Oh, shoot," she muttered. "Must've left it at home--"

Pokey frowned at Nep, then at Mae and Myste. "Didn't know you walked to school with the senpais," she added bluntly. "Too cool for us now?"

Short, spiked hair. Nepeta forced a smile, but couldn't look her friend in the eye. "No no, I'm just getting some tutoring, that's all. Just for a few days, though!"

Her playful voice felt out of place at that moment, like a Goldeen in a desert. Quickly, find something to break the silence. "Hey, I like your jacket," she said, pointing at the studded cuffs. "They're very... uh..."

A slight spasm ran though Pokey's body. "Oh, yeah... pretty sweet, I guess," she mumbled, putting her hands in her pockets. "Hah.. I'd better get to class."

Grimacing, Pokey set off down the sidewalk, Myste's eyes narrowing as she passed him. Holding back a sigh, Nep looked down at her shoes. How did it come to be like this?

Feeling uneasy, Mae prodded Nep with her book. "Hey, we'd better get moving too," she muttered. "I-I mean. No point in being late, right?"
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
July 26, 2015 1:22pm
--------------------------------

A shot from the dark. Rider struck as he leapt forward. His blade hooked around the pedestrian, trapping them. Pulling them close, he covered their mouth and reached into the person's ribcage with glowing, claw-like gloves.

His fingers curled around the person's soul. Carefully, he unraveled the soul like a spool of thread, extracting strands of life-force and absorbing them into his body like slurping noodles.

Sated, he releasing the soul, letting it drift back into its owner's body. "Sleep," he muttered with a flick of his wrist, fingers spreading wide as if casting a veil over the person's face. Once their eyes were closed, Rider carefully lowered them to the ground.

In life, perhaps he would have questioned his Master's orders. Perhaps he would be reluctant to put his abilities to such a use. But now, he simply held onto that one word, that single drive: Grind. Grind until your strength is beyond compare.

A/N: If the noodle metaphor seemed out of place, I have managed to successfully imitate Nasu.

--------------------------------

They reached the school yard without further incident. "Right, we part ways here," said Mae, glancing back to Nep and Pokey. "Your classroom's on the second floor, right? See you after school, then."

Pokey gave a half-hearted nod. "Yeah," replied Nep happily, taking her friend by the hand and leading her off. "See you, senpai!"

Still a little early; other students were milling around the courtyard.

As Mae and Myste approached the building entrance, a girl with disheveled hair suddenly leapt out from the bushes. "Emvee!" she exclaimed. "There you are~!"

MV's eyes widened as Basscannon tackled him from behind, trapping him in a tight bear hug. "I was waiting for you all morning," she purred happily. "I knew you must've waiting for me, too!"

Snorting, Mae watched as Myste struggled to break free from Bass's grasp. "Soo, Nii-san, is this your special someone?" she teased.

He frantically shook his head. "No, no, you've got it wrong," babbled Myste as bass cuddled him relentlessly. "She's just a friend, just a really good friend... you know--"

Oh, yes, this was too good to miss. Other students were staring at them now. "Oh~? What's this?" said Bass, grabbing Myste's wrist. "Looks like you hurt yourself--"

His eyes widened in panic, and he pulled his hand away. "Quiet! You're just imagining it," he yelled, leaping a few feet away before bass dove for his leg, pulling him to the ground. "Nee-chan, help...!"

"Nah, looks like you're having fun. See you at lunch!" Laughing, Mae headed inside, leaving her helpless brother at the whims of his stalker.

--------------------------------

"Twigs, Apsa," called Nepeta as she entered her classroom, pulling a disgruntled Pokey behind her. "Noot noot~"

Over by the window, Twiggy gazed out across the streets, not turning her head. "Morning, Nep," she said distantly. "Nice day today, don't you think?"

Hurrying over, Apsa grabbed Nepeta wrist and pulled her down under a desk. "Be careful, you idiot!" she hissed. "They'll see you!"

Nep frowned at her disheveled friend. It looked like Apsa hadn't slept well in days. "They? Who's they?" she asked, getting back to her feet.

Frantically Apsa grabbed at Nep, but missed. "You know--they're everywhere!" Her eyes darted around the classroom wildly. "They talk their way into their positions. They've got eyes and ears everywhere. Can't be careful."

"That's just the way it is, Apsa," said Twiggy flatly, still not tearing her eyes from the window. "That's how things have run for decades. No soul left in anything--"

At that moment, Nepeta noticed Pokey clutching her forehead. "Hey, you all right, Zoe?" Her friend's face was contorted, eyes squeezed shut.

Slowly, Pokey's face relaxed, the invisible pain subsiding. "Yeah," she gasped, breathing heavily. "Just... just a bit dizzy, that's all."

Falling silent, Twiggy and Apsa watched as Nepeta pulled Pokey's arm over her shoulder. "C'mon, I'll help you to your seat," Nep muttered to her friend.

Her friends, her dear friends. All the same dull, disillusioned eyes. None of this was a surprise, of course. It happened to everyone. That was just how life was, right?

--------------------------------

A/N: I was trying to write a fourth part for this update, which skips straight to lunch, and is a little more relevant to the overall story, but it's taken awfully long to get to this point and I may as well just move that to the next update. Sorry if these parts were too weird, we'll get back to the Grail soon thougn!
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
August 18, 2015 1:44pm
--------------------------------

Morning classes passed in a blur.

The rooftop was crowded by the time Mae arrived with her lunch. Brooding students leaned on the rails, gazing off into the horizon as clubs waited for their last members to arrive. There were five, six, seven underclassmen offering boxed lunches to their seniors with red faces.

"Damn it! Isn't the roof access supposed to be locked, anyway?" grumbled Mae, stomping her foot. Turning, she headed back down the stairs. "Great, where do I eat now? No way I'm going in the cafeteria--"

A blur shot down the hallway as Mae reached the second floor. "Excuse me! Coming through!" called Twiggy, racing past Maestra with a large basket of poffins and vanishing into a nearby classroom.

"Noot noot?"

Mae glanced around. Nep was waving to her from a corner of the hallway, sack lunch in her lap. "You're... eating on the floor?" said Maestra dubiously, joining her underclassman.

"Yeah, why not?" Nep tore into her sandwich with quick, tiny bites, like the pecking motion of a bird's beak. "Once the crowd clears, it's very peaceful here." Her voice dropped to a mutter. "They're the best, but there's only so much I can put up with in one day..."

Mae gave Nep an odd look, but said nothing. The two ate in silence. Somewhere nearby, they could hear a small crash.

"Hey, senpai," said Nep after a moment. "You know what would be really, really funny? If every single Master was at school. We could've just walked right by them."

Mae snorted. "Not possible. I'm almost positive I know who one of the other Masters is, and he doesn't go to our school. Heck, I'm not sure he's ever gone to a normal school..."

--------------------------------

The Servant materialized in the middle of the classroom as Twiggy set the poffin basket down. "Must be an club room," she said, looking around at the dioramas and model buildings. "Art? Architecture? Engineering?"

Her Servant's eyes narrowed. "Look at this," continued Twiggy disgustedly, pointing at a scale model of a glass-walled tower. "Glass, plastic, and steel. No heart or soul in any of it."

Berserker gave a bitter growl of agreement. A black tendril shot from under his cloak, smashing the minature skyscraper. Giggling, Twiggy fed him a red poffin as the remnants. "How many trees were destroyed to build that tower?" she said softly. "To build this school? All those houses?"

Each had known what the other desired from the very begnning. After all, their wishes were almost the same. She would become the tip of destruction, just as he had.

And yet--was it just Berserker's imagination, or was there something empty in this girl's laughter? "It's getting late," said Twiggy after a moment, looking up at the clock. "Lunch is almost over. We'd best go now."

Nodding, Berserker waited for his master to climb onto his back. Cloak splitting into a pair of spiked black wings, he turned and sprang out the window, phasing through the glass and soaring off into the sky.

--------------------------------

Fifth period began. Ms. Aurore entered the classroom, struggling with a heavy stack of books. Sighing, Mae looked at the empty aide's chair next to the teacher's desk. Hope you're all right, Fro.

She could barely focus on the lecture. It hadn't been twenty-four hours into the Grail War and everything was a mess. Lancer. What sort of fox carried a lance? Foxes were, well, scrawny. They had no business carrying heavy weapons.

If Nep's Saber is related to Artoria, I swear I'm going to throw a book at the Grail.

Suddenly, a ripple of heat swept over her--a flash of magic, a warning vibration. Mae's eyes narrowed. The boundary field around her house had been breached. Someone was trespassing.

She raised her hand. "Sensei?"

Pausing her hand in mid-sentence, Ms. Aurore glanced away from the whiteboard. "Yes, Maestra?"

"I feel a bit ill. I think I need to go to the nurse's office."

Aurore rolled her eyes. "Yeah, suuure you do," she muttered. "All right. Go ahead. And be careful on your way home."

"Thank you." Packing her books, Mae pulled her bag over her shoulder, got up from her seat, and left the classroom, ignoring everyone's stares. Lancer was already on the prowl, his blood running hot.

Picking up speed, she descended the stairs, making her way down the hallway. Pulling out her spelltome, Maestra exited the building and crossed the courtyard, reciting defensive charms under her breath as she hurried down the sidewalk.

--------------------------------

"Lancer, report," ordered the magus as she reached the corner of her street. She didn't have to call him to her side; he was close enough that she could sense his prescence from her front yard. "How many?"

There was a slight pause. "One, perhaps two intruders," answered Lancer, sounding a bit annoyed. "I don't understand--I didn't notice anyone approach--"

A crash. As she reached her house, Mae saw a man in black plate armor on the roof holding a scythe. "Rider," said Lancer, voice on the edge of a growl. All around the fox, the lawn was strewn with tossed bricks. A second story window was broken.

Leaping down to the ground, Rider swung wide with his glowing, translucent blade. Darting under the lethal slash, Lancer thrust up at the man's chest, who immediately blocked the lance with his scythe's handle like a polestaff, shoving the fox away.

As the black knight swung down, Lancer sprang to one side, knocking the scythe off course with a rapid pivot of his lance. Recovering with superhuman reflexes, Rider quickly swung from the opposite direction, only for the fox to vault over the scythe, lone tail lashign at the ground.

Frowning, Maestra scanned the area for Rider's master, but to no avail. Spelltome open, she cast more defensive charms on Lancer, words and sentences vanishing from its pages as she activated the mana stored in the ink.

This was all she could do to help. A Servant was simply too strong for an ordinary magus. Even with her wards, she'd still drawn a poor card.

Lancer spun his lance with expert control, deflecting each of Rider's swings. But a lance was just a lance. Given an opening, Rider could easily hook around the polearm with his scythe's curved blade and yank it from the fox's grip. Then, it would be over. The glowing scythe would quickly tear through the dragonscale armor.

But this never happened. Each time the scythe's blade closed in on the lance's tip, Lancer would immediately jerk his weapon free, avoiding the spiritblade by a few inches. The fox's reactions seemed to be instant.

Even so, Rider matched him blow for blow, maneuvering faster than his armor should have allowed for. His slashes and Lancer's thrusts blurred with inhuman speed as the duo circled each other, tearing up the grass underfoot.

Lance and scythe collided with a choked clang, locking together. Mae ducked as steel flew over her head, clattering on the asphalt. Once Lancer was disarmed and cut down, she'd be defenseless--

Wait, what? The weapon that had been cast behind her was not her Servant's lance, but Rider's scythe. Now Mae could properly see that the back end of Lancer's lance had four small barbs like dragon claws. "Damn you and your back hooks," muttered Rider as the fox advanced on him.

There! A surge of mana! Yes, that must be Rider's contract, binding Master and Servant. Which meant if Mae followed those threads, it would lead her right to Rider's Master--

A sizzle of power. "Well, I'm afraid my Master's being a coward and doesn't want to meet you yet," said Rider, hands glowing with fire mana. "We shall continue this another time."

He flung a fireball at Maestra before she could dodge. "Master!" shouted Lancer, leaping in front of her. His lance shot forward and pierced the fireball, which burst into tiny tongues of flame.

Mae glanced around as the light dissipated. Rider had vanished from her front yard. "Damnit," she muttered. "We almost had one down."

Behind her, Lancer dropped to all fours, lance and armor dematerializing. "That woman you rescued from Saber last night is gone," he said grimly. "Bedroom door was wide open. Doorknob was smashed off with a brick."

Mae didn't react immediately. Opening her spelltome, she scanned her house. Good--the barrier on her dresser was still intact. "That scythe must've been his Noble Phantasm," she said finally.

Yes. Heroes were almost always linked with their weapons. As their legends were told and retold over the ages, their weapons became synonymous with their feats. That was the Noble Phantasm: Once its true form was unleashed, the hero's weapon would recreate the hero's legend--

A paw on her shoulder. "It's all right," reassured the fox. "We'll get him next time, Master."

"Yeah," agreed Maestra, nodding. "We'll get him. Eventually. But first--"

She spun on Lancer, her eyes blazing. "What have you two done to my lawn!?" she yelled, pointing at the brick-strewn grass.

With a nervous laugh, the fox began to back away. Immediately, Maestra smacked him over the head with her spelltome.

(A/N: A cookie to whoever knows what this is a callback to)

--------------------------------
+ Rider
--------------------------------
Master: Mystery Flarrior
True name: ?????
*new* Brickjutsu: B. Allows use of bricks as weapons.
--------------------------------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
September 4, 2015 10:31pm
"Saber?" called Nepeta as she stepped out into the courtyard. "I'm ready to head back."

The Servant materialized, leaning on a nearby pillar. "Master, you do realize I've been following you all day, yes?" pointed out Saber dryly.

"Oh right," said Nep with a nervous laugh. "I guess I forgot? But I didn't forget that you showed up."

She took a good look at her Servant for the first time. A cool,q expressionless face framed by a lock of hair on either side, an ahoge dangling over her forehead. Her hair was tied back with a black ribbon. "I think I've seen your face a lot. Do all Saber servants look the same?."

Saber rolled her eyes. "You're imagining things, Master. Let's get going."

--------------------------------

The library trembled as Berserker stalked down the street. "I'm getting out of here," said Gretel nervously, clocking out and fleeing outside.

"Not him again," muttered Typh, staring out from a second-story window. "How'd they find us so quickly, anyway?"

Around the room, Caster had set up a flag and various furniture. "Hold still," she said as four large tomes appeared around her, a magic circle under her boots. "They might not know where we are yet."

Raising her hand, she muttered, "Ra, hikari-no-kage." A ball of light briefly glowed by her shoulder before a boundary field appeared around her Master.

Eyes narrowing, the Servant watched Berserker carefully, her eyes tracing that shadowed, hardened expression. "He's not just insane; he's furious," she noted. "Well, this is definitely not what I expected from the likes of Giratina."

Listening to the blows raining from outside, Typh stared at the ceiling nervously. Tiny, thin red cracks had formed on the walls, slowly growing, slowly spreading...

--------------------------------

And so, the Flarrior household settled down for the evening with beef udon from Unlimited Kitchen Works. "Wait, this is from that Japanese food truck on the corner?" said Nep from across Mae.

"Yeah," mumbled Mae between slurping noodles. "I like their bento most, but I figured I'd try something different."

To her right, Myste set down his udon. "Say, is there any reason the second-floor window has a big tarp over it?" he asked blankly.

For some reason, his words irritated her, as if he were somehow to blame. "I don't know, Nii-san!" she snapped, trying not to look at the bricks stacked up in the backyard. "Some vandals ripped up the lawn. And broke the window."

"Well, I can think of a couple people who might do that," said Myste, pointedly looking at Nep, who rapidly shook her head. Draining his carton, he got up from the table. "Anyway, thanks for dinner."

Lancer and Saber rematerialized as he left the room. "Mmm, I wish I could eat this every day," said Nepeta happily. She turned to her Servant. "Want some?"

"Who do you think I am? Sab--" The blue-haired Servant broke off and squinted at Nep's udon. "Oh, haha, right. Well, in that case. Thank you, but no."

"Servants don't need to eat," said Lancer from under the table. "The Grail created the Servant bodies, so we don't require the same nourishment as living beings. Effectively, we're not human."

Mae rolled her eyes. "Of course not. You're a fox."

She glared at him as he stole a chunk of beef from her udon, tail wagging. "Hey! You just said that you don't need to eat!"

--------------------------------

Metatyph stared as the furniture rearranged itself around the room at Caster's behest. "Well, that's handy, but I don't see how any of this is going to help protect against Berserker."

"Don't worry, Master," said Caster, brushing off her skirt and sitting down on a bean bag. "This is our secret base. We make the rules here. Ra, terekine-shisu."

At a snap of her fingers, a piece of chalk floated up and began to write on the chalkboard on the far wall. "Even if Berserker figures out our location and comes back, no other Servant can get inside as long as we say so."

--------------------------------

Night had fallen. Time to patrol for Rider.

"I'm having trouble identifying that scythe, let alone identifying its owner," said Mae to the fox a few steps behind her. "Are you absolutely sure that was Rider?"

Lancer waved his tail casually, as if shrugging. "Well, he certainly wasn't a Berserker or an Assassin."

"Maybe he was Caster. He used a fair bit of magic. But a scythe that is also a pair of gloves? That throws everything off." Then, her eyes narrowed. "Come to think of it, you never told me your identity, either."

He didn't even seem surprised. "No? I did show you my Noble Phantasm," replied Lancer lightly. "Twice, now."

She crossed her arms. "No, no you didn't. All I saw was some stage magic with a knife and a lance. I didn't get to see its true form."

He shrugged. "What a shame. You'll just have to wait until we find Rider again."

--------------------------------

Entering the lonely tent on the sidewalk, Nepeta gathered up her belongings and stuffed them into a duffel bag. She hadn't gotten a chance to do this last night. "Just how long do you plan to stay at Maestra's house, Master?" asked Saber from outside.

Nep hesitated, holding a small packet of birdseed. "Until she kicks me out, I guess." Now, should she take her comics too, or save that for another trip?

Saber's eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms. "Master, don't forget that we're under a truce, not an alliance."

Nep blinked. "Huh?"

"Maestra may have decided not to target us, but she has no obligation to help us in the Grail war," pointed out the Servant. "Likewise, you should feel no obligation to help her."

Nep sighed. "You're right. I don't know a whole lot about this sort of thing. I like what I like? Sometimes that's enough, and sometimes it's not? But like..."

Fidgeting with the ribbon on her wrist, she looked down at her shoes. " Doesn't the world already suck as it is? Sure, I need to be careful. But... well, you were following me around school, right? You've seen how they all are--"

She trailed off. Saber was staring at her--not with anger, not quite curiosity--but it was getting late, and Nep wasn't in the mood to figure it out right now. "Never mind," she said hastily, zipping the duffel bag. "Let's get go back to Mae's house for now."

--------------------------------

"Back from your walk?" said Myste as Maestra and Lancer returned. The young man was leaning on the wall by the entrance, looking at his sister coolly.

Mae didn't so much as glance in his direction as she passed him and headed up the stairs. "Yeah, yeah, everything's good."

Heading for her bedroom, she shut her door and examined her dresser again. The boundary field hadn't disturbed, and the drawer was still locked, but still, she might as well be careful.

Rider had been out in the streets tonight, of course. But the clues were too far apart; there wasn't enough for a trail that might lead to the Servant. So where is he? And where is his Master?

Getting ready for bed, she lightly flicked the fox on the floor. "Hey Lancer, go play watchdog downstairs, all right? I know you're a fox but we gotta stay alert." Nodding, Lancer dematerialized.

Downstairs, Myste waited until the sounds from his sister's room stopped, then headed to the garden shed. "Hey, Rider," he muttered. "Time to go eat..."

--------------------------------
End of Day 3
--------------------------------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
September 21, 2015 9:28am
--------------------------------
Day 4 - Thursday
--------------------------------

She saw a Raichu and a Leafeon in a forest clearing, standing back-to-back.

In the Raichu's paws was a longsword, glowing with sparks. In the Leafeon's paws were a pair of matched blades, hilts wrapped in vines.

Two warriors standing against the darkness. Even if they could never truly eradicate evil, wherever the world's adversary rose, they would strike him down every time.

Little wonder that they stood back-to-back, with perfect, immutable trust. After all... these simple images were created to mirror his own desires...

--------------------------------

"Blagh! I'm late!" yelled Myste, racing out the door.

Sleepily, Maestra got out of bed. "Tsk, tsk, Nii-san," she muttered, rubbing her eyes. "What club is it? Robotics? Philosophy? Help Desk?"

Given her brother's tendencies, she wouldn't be surprised if there *was* a Help Desk club.Getting dressed, she pointed at Lancer. "Fox. You're coming with me today."

Downstairs, Mae and Nep sat at the table over breakfast cereal. "Should I expect to get attacked today?" asked Nepeta.

Mae pondered briefly. "Servants usually don't fight in the day," she said. "They can't afford to make a ruckus and attract attention. Even the king of heroes isn't immortal."

Nep frowned. "But Rider attacked you in the daytime."

Mae nodded. "Yeah, he's an exception. And even then, there's generally one Servant who might not confine himself to night."

She wiped her mouth with a napkin. "There's seven Servant classes. The three knights--Saber, Lancer, and Archer--are absolutely necessary for the Grail's materialization. Because the Fuyuki Grail is usually the template for a Grail War, the other four classes are typically Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin."

More munching. "Servants of the Assassin class are by far the weakest, usually incapable of facing other Servants in direct combat. However, they are exceptionally skilled at targeting the Masters."

"What makes the knight classes different?"

"Because they're usually the strongest Servant, with excellent parameters and astounding resilience to magic. That said, there's also Berserker, who may have been weak in life, but has a tremendous parameter boost at the cost of their sanity."

mae-senpai u make my kokoro go doki doki "Wait, what?" uttered Maestra.

Nepeta looked up from her cereal, confused. "Huh? I didn't say anything."

In the corner, Lancer giggled to himself, until his Master's spell tome flew across the room and hit him in the head.

--------------------------------

The school yard was filled with chatter when Mae, Nep, and their Servants arrived.

"Did you hear what happened to that one first-year girl?" said one student. "They say she just disappeared."

"I heard a brick fell on her head," said another.

Another student. "You know those three students who hang out on the rooftop all the time? They vanished too."

"I bet that's what happened to Rai and Poffin."

"Nah, they're just busy. No one knows what with."

Waving to Mae, Nepeta headed inside to escape the courtyard, shuffling into her classroom. But even there, the chatter continued.

"Don't you see? The government's alien spies have arrived," hissed Apsa, grabbing Pokey's shoulders and shaking her. "They've arrived among us, picking us off one by one. They're building an underground base somewhere--"

"Stahppit!" cried Kittu, holding up her hands and sweating profusely. Her eyes were bloodshot, a faintly sweet smell wafting from her coat. "Please, please. No more..."

"Yeah," agreed Pokey quietly, massaging her forehead. "Do we.. do we REALLY need to think about all this?"

In the corner, Twiggy was watching Nepeta intently. Shuddering, Nep shook her head and kept her eyes on her sketchpad.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE

October 4, 2015 10:09pm
--------------------------------

"That girl in green's a Master," said Lancer, pointing at Twiggy as she passed down the hallway. "I can't say if she's Rider's master, but she definitely has a Servant. I haven't talked to Saber directly, but she's been tracking her too."

"Well, we can't attack her in broad daylight," muttered Mae, glaring at the incomprehnsible math classwork. "But we can keep an eye on her for now."

The bell rang, and fourth period came to a close. "Nee-chan, come eat lunch with me," called Myste, poking his head into Mae's classroom.

Shrugging, Mae got up and followed her brother into the hallway, up the stairs. The rooftop was almost empty today.

"Those protagonists of other stories must've wised up and cleared out," mused Lancer. "If Rider didn't eat them first, anyway."

"Did you say something, Nee-chan?" asked Myste.

The fox's eyes widened, and he immediately went silent. "Nah," said Mae, giving Lancer a warning glare before sitting down with her bento. "How're the other club members doing?"

Her brother shifted uncomfortably. "Just fine, just fine," he said. They ate in silence, the breeze lifting their hair slightly.

"Hey, you're the family heir, right?" said Myste suddenly. "Does that mean you know all the little secrets that Mother left?"

Lancer frowned at Myste. "Of course," replied Mae. Why?"

Myste shifted uncomfortably. "Just curious. Are you really good with magic?"

She was about to give a glib reply, then thought better of it. "It's taken some getting used to over the years, but I think I can do it. Why?"

"It must take a lot of magic to handle the family affairs."

"Not really, it's mostly paperwork. Most of the little secrets keep to themselves, most of the time. Kat handles the most difficult stuff. Heck, even you could do it."

She laughed, ignoring the look on his face. "Ah, Nii-san. If only you knew what sort of things you had to put up with." And with that last remark, she gave Lancer another glare.

--------------------------------

Smash, smash, smash. "Great, is Berserker back again?" sighed Typh, throwing down his book in disgust as the library shoook around him, bookshelves rocking as the walls creaked and groaned. Sheesh. Doesn't Twiggy have school or something? I wish he would just go away."

Bookshelves rocked as cracks spread across the walls, paint peeling in tiny bits. He tried to avoid looking around the room too much. If he stared too long at the cracks, he got a headache.

Caster and her bean bag were now surrounded by stacks of library books. "Hey, have you gotten any sleep?" asked Metatyph worriedly. "I mean, I know you don't need to sleep, but isn't it strange not to?"

"Nah, this way is a lot easier, really," said Caster, poring through the book. "Hm... nothing in this one either. Damn." Shutting it, she moved onto the next.

Nodding silently, Metatyph finished a bag of Whatever Quilava's Favorite Food Is. Not that he was a Quilava or anything, but it was close enough.

--------------------------------

"So, that's Saber's Master," said Kellam, peering over the courtyard wall at Nepeta. "She doesn't seem very strong, though."

Toyguy frowned up at Kellam. "Why? You're not saying that because she's a girl, are you?"

Kellam crossed his arms. "Ridiculous! I was in the same army as Sully. Anyone who's seen her knows better than to think women can't fight--"

He fell silent as footsteps approached from behind. "You must be Assassin's master," said Rider. Toyguy slowly turned to face tbe Servant in plate armor. "Where's your Servant, boy?"

After looking around for a minute, Toyguy pointed at Kellam. Eyes widening, Rider stepped back. "Damn! When did he get here?" he muttered, drawing his black sword and pointing at Toyguy.

"Yeah, um, I've been here the whole time," said Kellam, sighing. He moved in front of Toyguy protectively. "Anyway, I haven't a clue how I got wrapped up in all this, but I can't let you hurt the boy." He raised his shield and spear.

Rider nodded, his expression concealed under his helmet. "Then let's duel, the two of us," he said. "Follow me." He turned and headed down the street.

"Wait! Lancers lose to Sabers in Grand Order!" protested Toyguy as they followed Rider to a more empty part of town, entering a grassy field. "What are you thinking?"

Kellam nodded as he and Rider took opposite sides of , his face stoic. "Yeah, but neither of us are Sabers or Lancers. And where I come from, lances beat swords. Which is, you know, how weapons are supposed to work."

With a single step, Rider brought his sword against Kellam's lance. Their weapons collided, drew back, collided again.

As with the fight against Lancer, the Servant in black armor maneuvered with expert skill, parrying each of Kellam's thrusts with astounding strength.

But still, Kellam was no amateur himself. Toyguy stared as Rider slowly lost ground to the knight in plate armor, the enemy Servant driven back with each step.

Suddenly, Rider stepped back and returned his sword to its sheath. He raised his hands, his bladed gloves glowing with pink energy. Advancing solidly, Kellam drew back his lance arm, preparing to pierce his foe.

The gauntlets melted into fluid light, flowing into Rider's hands, reshaping into his black scythe. Eyes widening, Kellam tried to move back, but too late.

"Shadow Tamer."

Invoking the true name, Rider swung the scythe directly at Kellam. The pink blade passed through the knight's body, snagging soul-strands and drawing them out into the open. "Here comes the worst part," muttered Rider. "Just how much does that boy want me to absorb, anyway?"

Gasping, Kellam sank to his knees as Rider took hold of the soul-strands. Horrified, Toyguy stared as energy drained from Kellam's body, flowing into the knight in black plate. "Assassin! Get to safety," he shouted.

One of Toyguy's Command Seals faded. The air around Kellam vibrated, warped--and the man vanished, as if he'd fallen through a gap in time and space.

Rider stared at the place where Kellam had been, his eyes growing dull. Slowly, he looked at Toyguy. "He's not here anymore, right?" said the Servant. "That was a terrible idea, you know. Now you're on your own..."

Turning, Toyguy fled the park, down the street, running with all his might.

--------------------------------
+ Rider
--------------------------------
Master: Mystery Flarrior
True name: ?????
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
*new* [NP] Spirit Looms: Shadow Tamer. Anti-Unit. C. Spiritblades that can touch and interact with the soul. The dark blade of the "one who tames shadows". Rider recieved his while training with Soulweavers in the land of Lore. Originally, they took the form of bladed gloves, but Rider adapted them for use as a scythe.
--------------------------------

"Well, that's four Masters identified," said Lancer as he and Maestra headed back. "Metatyph, Twiggy, Nep, and yourself."

Maestra squeezed her book tightly. "Odd, Twigs wasn't in class after lunch," she mtutered. "Well, the grail war's usually restricted to night, when most of the city's asleep. But Rider's master doesn't seem to know that..."

A sly grin formed. "Say, Master? Why were you staring at that empty seat during fifth period?"

Her face started to go red. "No reason at all. Don't think about it."

The fox tilted his head at an angle. "A crush, perhaps? But that didn't look like your classmate's seat. A teacher's aide, perhaps."

"I said, don't think about it," she snapped. "Just because senpai hasn't shown up in a week, d-doesn't mean I'm worried about her or anything, b-baka!"

They were approaching the vacant lot on Main Street. "Oh dear, was it that girl you called the other night?" said Lancer, grinning.

Blushing furirously, Mae covered her face. "M-maybe...?"

"Thought so." Turning, Lancer stared at the lot, his amusement vanishing, tail going slack. There was a strange look in his eyes. "Ah..."

They were at the construction site. Regaining her senses, Mae stepped onto the dirt. "There used to be a tower here," she said. "The pride of Shioko. A brilliant tower of glass..."

Wait a minute. There was someone lurking in the construction site. From this angle, Mae couldn't get a good look at her, but the person's headphones looked like a combination of Pikachu and Raichu ears.

Lancer's eyes widend with recognition, and a shiver ran down his spine. "Master," he said with surprising urgency. "It's not safe here. We should head home for now."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
October 8, 2015 8:39pm
--------------------------------

Panting, Toyguy came to a stop behind his truck. "I... I think I lost him," he gasped, one hand on the door. Opening the back, he stared at Kellam, who was slumped on the floor. "Hey... hey, you okay?"

Kellam nodded slowly. "Yeah, I'm good. But... that scythe. I didn't expect him to land a hit like that."

Climbing in, Toyguy frowned. "When do you think you'll be recovered?" he asked. "I heard Servants could heal on their own, but..."

The knight shook his head. "I don't know. For now, just... just get me a vulnerary, will you?"

--------------------------------

After dinner, Nep and Saber dropped by Nep's tent again. "Interesting," said Saber, examining a red hand lamp. "Where did you come across this?"

Glancing up to her Servant, Nepeta's eyes widened. "H-hey! Put that down, please," she said hastily. "That, that's dad's special..."

She trailed off. Indeed, where did Leopard get that lantern? She didn't quite know where it came from, really.

But Saber looked displeased. "So, that's who his Master was," she muttered as Nepeta took back the hand lamp. "But..."

"Look, it was just something I grabbed before the realtors closed in," said Nepeta, stuffing the lamp into her duffel bag. "We can talk more about this at Mae's house, okay--"

An eerie chill filled the air. Eyes widening, Saber quickly moved in front of Nepeta. "Get outside! There's an enemy--"

As she lifted the tent flap, a blazing projectile struck Nepeta's tent with a great splash of fire. Shrieking, Nepeta sank to her knees as her home burst into flames. Her tent, her cot, her nest--it was all burning--

Dismayed, Saber knelt by her Master's side. "Hold still," said Saber urgently, scooping up Nepeta in a firefighter's carry. The duffel bag was already a lost cause; Nepeta's comics and games were already melting, burning, disintegrating.

Leaving the burning tent with her Master, Saber quickly scanned her surroundings, but could not pinpoint the enemy Servant. They would have to be dealt with another time...

Up on a nearby roof, the Servant materialized, her legs long and supple like a deer's calves. "Damn, they got away," grumbled Archer, her tail rippling in the wind. "So close, too."

A few feet away, the girl with the Raichu headphones watched as Saber turned the street corner and out of sight. "Yeah," said Fexible offhandedly, watching as Nepeta's tent collapsed. "It'll take a lot more to bring them down."

--------------------------------
+ Archer
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Master: Fexible Fexxerton
True name: ?????
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Strength: C
Endurance: E
Agility: B+
Mana: C
Luck: D
Noble Phantasm: B+
Independent Action: C. Can stay in this world for two days after mana has been cut off.
--------------------------------

"His hideout must be in this area," said Maestra as she and her Servant reached the end of their patrol. "But... there's nothing out of the ordinary here. Nothing at all. If someone set up their workshop here, I would already know.

"Maybe Rider's master is a neighbor," suggested Lancer. "You might not notice anything unusual because they've always been magi, so you're used to it."

"Nonsense. None of the neighbors are magi." Though, that didn't preclude them being Masters. It was very, very rare, but even in Fuyuki, there had been several Masters who weren't magi.

Of course, such circumstances were too contrived. Only a magi could summon a Servant and provide them with mana, so it would be ridiculous for the Servant to form a contract with someone else.

Lancer dematerialized as they reached the Flarrior house. Mae frowned. All the lights were on. "Huh...? What's going on?"

Heading inside, Maestra found Myste draping a towel over a shell-shocked Nepeta's shoulders. "Nii-san! What happened?" she demanded.

Myste held up his hands. "I don't know for sure. Sounds like there was this tent that some vandal set on fire. I'm going to see if we have anything warmer for Nep." He headed out to the shed.

Mae's eyes widened. Her brother couldn't know it was more than just a tent--that was Nep's real home. "I'm sorry to hear that," she told Nepeta gently, patting her head. "Did you see who--"

At that moment, the phone rang. "Hang on..." With a trickle of dread, Mae answered. Her eyes widened. "Kat?"

"Evening, Maestra," said Kat's voice. "I've been examing the recent increase in assault victims. In just the last hour, A1v1n1, Janwu, and Arkangel have been brought in. Most of the victims have magic circuits. There's no doubt: this is a Servant's work."

"Rider," she said immediately, her heart sinking. "You want me to take care of him, I take it?"

"Of course. We can't have Servants running amok." Kat's voice was crisp. "Consider this an intervention on the overseer's part. This is beyond the grail war now; Rider's master is being too irresponsible."

When the call ended, Mae looked down at Lancer. "Alll right, you. I don't know how strong you really are, but you've somehow managed to stay in one piece so far. Think you can handle that guy?"

"Oh, certainly," he said, winking. "In fact, I think I might even know wh--"

She slapped the table, silencing him. "No sass. Can you take Rider out?"

Meekly, the fox nodded. Maestra looked up at Saber, who had been listening from the corner the whole time. "And as for you two. You're not going to intervene, right?"

Saber shrugged. "I don't see why I would. We have a truce, after all."
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 11, 2015 11:06pm
--------------------------------
Day 5 - Friday
--------------------------------


Slowly stirring, Nep rose from her bed, adjusting the black ribbon on her wrist. Saber was standing at the window, as if gazing over Shioko. "Are you all right?" asked the Servant without turning her head.

Nepeta looked down at her feet. Her tent, her entire life swallowed in flames. Gone in a second. "No... not really," she admitted. "Hey, Saber... are you really going to just sit back and watch?"

Saber shrugged. "I don't see why not," she replied. "Lancer can take care of himself. At least, I will be disappointed if he can't."

"Yeah, but, Rider's going wild across the town," pressed Nep. "Wouldn't you be obligated to help him? I mean... you... you're--"

Saber sighed. "That's in the past," she said, patting Nep on the head. "Yes, in our time, I would help Lancer. Or rather, he would be helping me. But..."

She gazed out the window, up to the fading stars. Dawn was approaching. "Well, that's in the past. That stuff doesn't matter anymore. The only reason I'm here is to win the Grail."

--------------------------------

"Emveeeeee!"

A voice called out as Mae, Nep, and Myste reached the school yard. Myste's eyes widened as basscannon came tearing aross the courtyard. "W-wait! Bass! No glomp today, please!" he protested, his face going red. "Really, I can't get sidetracked today--"

"No, silly! You need to come to Wicca Club," laughed Basscannon, grabbing his hand. Her eyes glowed. "Mr. Navarr wants to see you about that missing skull!"

Nep and Mae watched as Bass dragged the yelling boy across the yard and into the building. "Nii-san, Nii-san, what am I going to do with you?" sighed Maestra, shaking her head.

--------------------------------

"Why would you do such a thing?" demanded Cue, shaking Kittu. "Why would you go anywhere near that--"

"Stop! I didn't mean to," cried Kittu, pushing Cue away. Her hair was disheveled, her eyes tearing up, sweating heavily. "I... I made a mistake, okay? I didn't think it would kick in so quickly. I..."

Anything. Nepeta would give anything to not hear this. To not think about how the world had changed. "Say, where's Twiggy?" she asked, glancing around the classroom.

Apsa shrugged. "Not a clue. At least she came to morning classes, but maybe she's ditching those, too." Nepeta sighed glumly.

A poke at her shoulder. Pokey was looking at Nep with heartfelt sorrow. "I... I heard your place was torched," she mumbled. "Sorry to hear that."

A lump rose in Nep's throat. She'd been able to keep it out of mind until now. Tears squeezed out as her friend patted her shoulder. "Hope you find the scumbag who did it. Did you... d'you want to crash at my place?"

"It's okay," she choked out. "I...I've found a place." For some reason, she couldn't quite bring herself to mention Mae's name...

--------------------------------

Slowly, the walls of the library distorted, buckling before Berserker's might. With a forceful blow, Caster's Secret Base was torn open to the outside air, brick and bookshelves tumbling to the floor as red-and-black streaks tore through.

Couughing, Metatyph peered into the dust. "You all right?" he asked, massaging his forehead.

"Yes, I'm fine," replied Caster, standing next to him. She stared as he began to move toward the opening in the wall. "What are you doing? You can't go out there."

"Sorry, I can't take much more of this," said the boy, flames splashing briefly from his hands. "All this hiding and waiting hasn't done us any good. We're going to settle this right now--hey!"

He quickly pulled back his hand from the door as Caster threw the book in her hand at him. Even though she was no knight, the Servant approached with startling speed. "Then I'm coming with you," she said coolly.

Outside, Twiggy and Berserker watched as their opponents emerged from the wall. "Oh, are you surrendering?" said Twiggy, smirking, raising her bo-staff as Typh threw a fireball at her. Easily, she ducked the projectile, sidestepping a second. "What a shame. I thought you would put up more of a fight--"

"Combat Familiar: Ra, rifurekutaa! Swift, kousoku-idou!" Twiggy's eyes widened as Typh's next fireball shot at her with astonishing speed. Behind Typh, a force-field had appeared around Caster.

Snarling, Berserker moved toward Metatyph, spiked wings lashing at the young magus. "Belphegor, juretsuku!" shouted Caster, pointing at the dark Servant. A dark blur flew at Berserker, a sequence of rapid pink flashes with the impact of invisible blows. Snarling, Berseker stumbled back, his gray skin scraped and bruised.

Typh's fireballs burst as Twiggy struck wide with her staff, charring the wood. The boy ducked as green, thorny vines shot over his head. Staring at Berserker, Caster raised her palm flat to the sky, holding up a red jewel. Mana surged around Caster's body, flowing into the jewel. "Uxie's Knowledge!" she called.

The jewel floated up into the air, transforming into a mirror. Both Masters stared as a Pokemon appeared, its eyes closed, its head like a yellow turban. "Uxie? The Being of Knowledge?" muttered Metatyph. "What is going on? Why is Uxie here?"

In the mirror's reflection, Caster saw eight books floating in a circle around her. Reaching forward, she touched a tome, and all eight came to a halt. Opening the selected tome, she turned it to the appropriate page. "As I thought. You are the Exile!"

The dark Servant halted. "Yes, I should have recognized you," said Caster coolly, stepping toward Berserker. "After all, I traveled with you once--no, I traveled with another version of you. He would never have taken your path. But you two weren't so different."

Confused, Metatyph glanced between Caster and Berserker. Giratina was not human; Giratina could not be a Heroic Spirit. But Berserker was Giratina, and Berserker was a Heroic Spirit. Therefore--

"Aurton Silversky," said Caster, pointing at Berserker. "You, who would free the world and redeem humanity's transgressions against nature. By all rights, you are the world's enemy."

Typh flinched. Just one world-tearing blow, and his Servant would be felled. No matter what familiars Caster had at her disposal, she couldn't possibly stand up to a Giratina.

But Caster did not pause. "Your atrocities were praised. Because of your rebellion, humanity came to honor you as proof of their flaws. In worshipping you as a symbol of chaos, they were saved."

Eyes filled with a murderous light, his wings spread wide, splitting into tentacles. A black wind swept from his body, buffeting Metatyph. Caster's eyes narrowed. "Truly, you are worthy to be called Angra Mainyu, anti-hero, he who saves the world through evil deeds."

An agonized cry as his red tentacles rebounded off Caster's force-field, torn from his throat. Seething, the Exile backed away from, the raw truth exposed, the shame of past and future betrayals.

Shaking, he turned and fled, the pavement shaking with his footsteps. "Berserker!" shouted Twiggy, dismayed. "What's gotten into you? Hey...!"

--------------------------------
+ Berserker
--------------------------------
Master: Twiggy
True name: Aurton the Exile
Divinity: C. Though having fallen from grace, Giratina's body is still the body of a god.
Charisma: N/A (A). Skill sealed by Mad Enhancement
Details: Aurton Silversky, the self-proclaimed savior of Pokemon. Though his body was destroyed, his soul was protected by the Four Virtues, allowing him to usurp the Exile's throne. Leading wild Pokemon in mass uprisings against humanity, he was ultimately defeated by an army of Pokemon that harbored loyalties to humans. Despite his image as a rebel, Aurton cannot truly be called chaotic because of the ideals that drive him.
[NP] Forge of Malice: Passage of the Dead. Anti-Fortress, B (Anti-World, B+). The chaos of Distortion is released from the Exile's body, warping time and space. This reflects the Exile's desire to purge the world of human civilization. Due to being summoned as a Berserker, this cannot be released in powerful bursts, but instead occurs as a continuous effect.
--------------------------------
+ Caster
--------------------------------
Master: Metatyph Tempest
True name: ?????
[NP] Uxie's Knowledge: Universal Library. Anti-Unit Phantasm. C. The true power of Uxie, the Being of Knowledge. The collective records of human knowledge, which manifests in the form of eight large tomes... However, ????? prefers to use these tomes as projectile weapons.
--------------------------------
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
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