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KL ~Chapter 1~

Chapter 1: Shirou Emiya, Wannabe Hero

One Year Later

A delicate string of smoke rose from the end of the tobacco pipe as Fang Yin attempted not to laugh at Shinji, his face hidden behind a Chinese opera mask with a fixed smiling expression. The mask itself had a mystery applied to it that made it cling to the boy’s face and, considering his personality and the visage of the mask…she failed, hard. Her face broke into a smile as she laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of it.

Shinji’s eyes narrowed behind the mask. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted with a smirk. “Yes I am. Don’t you like your graduation present?”

Shinji’s eye twitched in response. “This is why you shouldn’t go out shopping with that old geezer that smells like opium while drunk. Now get this thing off me before I enter airport!”

“I can’t remember the phrase to do that…” Fang Yin chuckled. “It’ll probably come back to me before we get there…”

The pair was in her car, heading to the airport to get Shinji back to Fuyuki. It had been a year since they had met and she had taught him as much as she could cram into him within that time frame. Chinese Alchemy, Material Transmutation, Minor Mental Manipulation, Fuwen, Shenfu—she covered the basics and left the deeper mysteries for him to discover on his own time in Japan, laying the ground work for improvement.

As they pulled into the parking lot of the airport, the phrase finally came back to her and she spoke it while prana laced her voice. “Tsang!

The mask unstuck itself and fell into Shinji’s lap, who breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally!”

“Okay,” Fang Yin said from the driver’s side as her temporary charge got out of the car. “It’s been real, Brat. Try not to play into the old worm’s hands and, if you do, die well.”

“I don’t intend to fall into his hands or die before I’ve accomplished my goals,” he replied smugly. “Same goes to you, lay off the smoking or you’ll get wrinkles…Sifu.”

“Hmph,” she snorted, pulling out her pipe and lighting it. “You’re getting soft to call me master. Hurry up and get out of here.”

With their words said, Shinji Matou made his way into the airport. Fang Yin already had his equipment and workshop things sent ahead, while Shinji kept his notes in a note book he had on him, which he planned on switching over to a laptop or something—I mean it was the new millennium, not ancient times—so as to prevent the old worm from guessing what he could do completely. He was on his own from now on when it came to his studies into the Art and how it could benefit his health, his sister, and his circumstances.

As he made his way to the plane he fingered the candy he made through his Sifu’s art. It had some medicinal properties as well as magical, which would make her feel a little bit happier and brighter. Fang Yin described it as sunshine for your mouth. Anything that made Sakura feel better until he could do something about those worms in her body was a boon.

And so, Shinji Matou made his way back to Japan.

Sometime Later

A fist was clumsily thrown at the boy with red-hair, one that could be easily dodged. He could see it coming, but he couldn’t dodge it unless he wanted to risk the plum-haired girl behind him getting hit instead. So he took the hit meant for her. “Ghh—!”

Shirou Emiya stood strong as he weathered the blows that came one after another. Granted, they were simply the untempered fists of school children only a year older than him at best, but his tiny body was just as untempered.

He didn’t know the girl, having come to the park with his adoptive father, whose health had been getting a bit worse and sometimes strolled around to take in the often relaxing nature of the area. Shirou wandered off for a bit when he came across a scene that angered him.

Three kids were picking on a girl who seemed to lack any life in her eyes, simply crouching over and holding her head as they dumped sand on her and tugged on her hair for one reason or another. He jumped into the fray by body-checking one of them and then becoming a human shield. Confident that they, who outnumbered him three-to-one, could take him, the beating began.

The entire time the girl looked at him like he was an enigma. Who was this boy? Why did he help her? What did he gain from it?

No one helped Sakura unless they knew her. If they tried to help her, they got hurt. That seemed to be written in stone ever since she became a Matou and her original family abandoned her.

Shinji told her their uncle tried to help her, but he died in front of her pitifully. Her brother said he would help her and Grandfather had her watch as he went through the surgery to attach the circuits to his soul a few times. The same thing would happen to anyone else that tried, she was sure.

So why did this boy continuously take hit after hit for her, without knowing her. She hadn’t seen him before. She hadn’t spoken to him before. So why did he continue to stand up for her?

The boys halted their assault after one managed to get in a hit that left Shirou with a nosebleed and the biggest of them puffed out his chest proudly. He seemed to be neglecting the fact that his hands were starting to hurt and the boy didn’t fight back. “See what you get when you mess with us?”

Shirou simply let out a breath he had been holding and asked, “Why were you picking on her?”

“Because she’s weird,” the leader said. “You got a problem with that?”

“He might not, but I do,” said a voice from behind the three. That got everyone’s attention and they turned to see Shinji Matou approach, huffing from his brief running pace.

“Nii-sama?” Sakura said, her eyes regaining a bit of their light. It seemed like he had gotten a little better since then and his skin tone was healthier, a little bit…although the look of anger on his face was a new one for her.

The leader stormed over and jacked the blue-and-white haired kid up by the collar of his shirt and looked him in the eye. “What are you going to do about it?”

Oh no, Shirou thought as the other two that remained stood in front of him and blocked his way. If he left to go help the boy, then he couldn’t help the girl.

Shinji, on the other hand, put on a nasty smirk and activate the circuits in his eyes, triggering his artificial Mystic Eyes of Whisper. The connection was made and he whispered low so that no one else heard him order the boy to, “Go beat up your friends.

The bully stared at him for a bit…and then dropped him to go plant his fist into the back of the other kid’s head. The kid rubbed his head and then hit him back, and it soon escalated while Shinji walked over them and went to the idiot and his sister.

“What happened to them?” Shirou asked, conflicted if he should stop it or not. On the one hand, they were beating him up. On the other, the bigger kid had grabbed a stick.

“I told him the other kids were making fun of him behind his back,” Shinji lied smoothly. “Morons with muscle like that will believe anything and, since those two were merely lackeys, he didn’t doubt it.”

Shinji narrowed his eyes and asked, “Why did you just stand there and take a beating? What are you to Sakura?”

“I saw her being bullied and decided to help,” Shirou said as he looked at the girl and extended a hand to help her stand up. “You have a pretty name, Sakura.”

“So you’ve never met and decided to help her even though they outnumbered you?” Shinji said with disbelief in his voice. When he saw Shirou nod, and actually meant it, he bluntly said, “You’re an idiot…”

And then he froze as ice ran down his spine. Someone was behind him, someone dangerous. He turned to face a grown man who looked even paler than him on a bad day.

“Dad?” Shirou said. “Is something wrong?”

Shinji hurriedly corrected himself. “I meant he was an idiot in a good way—no, I mean not an idiot.”

Kiritsugu merely nodded and fixed his gaze on his son. “I’m curious as to what happened here and why those three are fighting?”

“A petty squabble,” Shinji said. “They turned on themselves as quickly as they do others. They’re morons.”

“Hmm,” the older man said, “Let me go have a word with those three before they hurt themselves seriously then. Trying to hit each other with sticks is a bit overdoing it for a small squabble.”

As the man walked off, Shinji wiped the sweat from his brow at meeting the man. He felt it was time to leave, but one of the first things his Sifu taught him was to be thankful to those who helped you. After all, it made using them again easier, and the boy did help his sister. “What’s your name?”

“Shirou Emiya,” the boy stated.

“My name is Shinji Matou, and this is Sakura,” he nodded to his sister, who now stood behind him. “Thanks for being a well-meaning idiot. I’d give you something else as thanks but the best I can do for now is say that.”

“It’s fine,” Shirou said. “I don’t help people for thanks, but because it needed to be done.”

“Hm…” Shinji shook his head at the idiocy and turned to Sakura. “Let’s go.”

“Okay, Nii-sama,” she said softly, before turning and giving Shirou a small, “Thank you.”

Shirou watched the brother and sister walk off into the distance, until his father returned. “Shirou, did you get their names, by any chance?”

“Yeah,” the boy nodded. “Shinji and Sakura Matou.”

“I see…” was all the man said. The wheels in his head however were turning. He knew that family name.

The boy was a magus, considering that he had hypnotized one of the boys into committing an act of violence. Kiritsugu had dispelled it through his last active circuit, which put a bit of stress on him despite the fact that it should have been easy, due to his health, but that didn’t change the fact that Shirou wasn’t at a point where he could discern that. The fact that his nose was bleeding and the scent of blood probably made it so he didn’t smell when the child used his artificial mystic eyes in addition to it being so weak.

It would be…troublesome if he came looking for revenge after the Magus Killer had personally broken into their home and shot the hand off of what was probably his father, going by appearances, and Shirou couldn’t defend himself. His skill in Magecraft was poor at best, despite the quality of his circuits. “Shirou, how has it been going with using your Magic Circuit?”

“Better,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt as much when I make the circuit now. But whenever I try to use Projection the items are empty inside, so I use it as an extension of strengthening through Reinforcement instead.”

Kiritsugu raised an eyebrow at the boy’s choice of words. Leaving aside the unorthodox strengthening he focused on, “What do you mean it doesn’t hurt as much when you ‘make’ the circuit now?”

Shirou scrunched up his face and thought about it. “When I make my circuit from scratch, it felt like a hot rod going down my spine, but I’m used to that.”

The man’s ailing heart froze for a beat and he gave a withered cough.

“Dad, are you okay?” Shirou asked.

He waved the boy’s concern off for a bigger one. Shirou had been turning his nerves into makeshift circuits. He had literally been walking alongside death until this point, and Kiritsugu just noticed it now while his time was running out. He had been adamant on not teaching him much to avoid him walking such a path, and it was for naught.

“Shirou, let’s go over how to use your Magic Circuit a few more times as we walk,” he said. “After that, we need to discuss the future if you still plan on using Magecraft.”

With the Matou Siblings

“Nii-sama, when did you get back?” Sakura asked as they made their way back home.

“A few hours ago,” he answered. “I had came home and found out that you weren’t there, so I came retrieve you…why didn’t you tell me you were being bullied in the letters you sent?”

“Because you were working so hard and I didn’t want to burden you,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt, so…”

“Regardless, next time you tell me,” he with a slight growl. “Standing there and needing to get help from a stranger makes you look bad and got the idiot a bloody nose. You’re lucky his dad didn’t make us recompensate or something for the trouble.”

“Yes, Nii-sama,” Sakura answered. A few minutes of silence followed until she asked him a question. “What…did you learn over there?”

“I learned a diversity of skills, rather than exceeding in one,” Shinji told her. “The ground work has been laid. All that’s left is to improve what I know and devour more knowledge. To that extent, I’ve been looking up some arts that interested me and decided to see if I can get access to it. I’m setting up one of the spare rooms as my workshop, and because I’m so smart I’ve even gotten my own Mystic Code.”

“Really?” Sakura tilted her head. He pulled out an intricate fountain pen and inscribed on the air the symbol for ‘water’ in fuwen, causing it to shoot a spout of clear water out like a hose. “Wow…”

“It uses my blood mixed with ink and my element to transcribe the fuwen in the air using water molecules,” he said, leaving out that it was a drain to use compared to the more stable shenfu. But he had to show her some results from his efforts. His ego demanded it.

“You’re amazing, Nii-sama,” she said honestly.

“That’s right,” he gloated, patting her head. Then he remembered the candy he made and pulled one in a clear wrapper out for her. “Try this. I made it for you.”

She unwrapped and put it in her mouth curiously…and was met with a warm, comforting feeling enveloping her body. It was nice and soothing. “It’s delicious and it makes me feel a little…better.”

“That’s what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “Now, let’s go home and I’ll tell you about what I did overseas. You wouldn’t believe how irresponsible that aunt of mine was…”

One Year Later

“Trace on. Basic structure, analyze. Composition, analyze. Basic structure, alter. Composition, reinforce.” Practicing Structural Grasping, the twelve-year old Shirou Emiya set out to work on the skills he had at the moment to pass the time now that Kiritsugu had passed away under the moonlight a few months ago.

He was lucky to have gotten a job at the Copenhagen thanks to the Master and he got paid extremely well for only three hours of work. His daughter, Otoko Hotaruzuka was nice too but, even though she and Taiga had known each other since High School, they clashed over personalities. Otoko was hardworking and despised lazy people, considering Taiga to be a bad influence on him.

His father did not leave his Magic Crest behind for Shirou, but he left behind knowledge of his exploits and his method of anti-magus combat—except for the details of the event that left him sick. The weary man spent his final hours helping his son make up for what he lacked over the years, due to his lackluster interest in introducing Shirou into the world of Magecraft and mysteries. The lessons were meaningful, but at the same time harsh.

However, one cannot cram a lifetime of training into a year, and Shirou Emiya from then on had to practice on his own with his limited resources. His father had no idea that the next war would start soon, and thusly only told him that the grail wasn’t worth it and left a final request, asking for his daughter to be saved if Shirou continued to pursue the path he did.

And so Shirou trained, learning from his father even after death…

All in hopes of being a superhero someday.

With Shinji Matou

It was truly lucky that the Matou lived close to the outskirts of the city that had a fairly large area of woodland and an additional Bounded Field, set in an inconspicuous section by his grandfather, which allowed Shinji to practice his Art since he refused to do so in that basement of worms and corpses. His only regret for the moment was that he had to deal with his grandfather’s idea of adequate training partners as a result—Blade Wing Worms.

As if the horrendous familiars of the old worm couldn’t get any worse, now they could fly…and seemed hungry. Then again, he found it somewhat stress-relieving to think that for every one of them he killed, it was one less that Sakura had to deal with and he would have to get rid of later. The old worm was probably breeding a dozen for every single one he killed, but it was the thought that counted.

From the right sleeves of Shinji’s shirt came shenfu that appeared in his hands, each bearing a simple symbol of flame written in fuwen, and were tossed towards the incoming horde. The ‘Seal of Flames’ on each one ignited in mid-flight as they went streaking and fire hungrily consumed the flesh and fat of the worms, bestowing upon them a fate similar to the corpses that they fed off of—being turned into fuel and nourishment. But it wasn’t enough as more soon took their place and he kept running.

Using the base-level shenfu he created wasn’t nearly as taxing as trying to inscribe new characters in the magic writing since he simply needed to give them a prana tug to trigger the magical energy stored within them. Plus, he wasn’t going to use some of the higher-tier ones in a situation like this, nor the other mysteries he had up his sleeves. It would only be a waste considering how much magical energy he managed to store inside those shenfu through his blood-ink when he could only channel so few units of prana through them.

Getting aggravated by the constant swarms that tried to linger outside his range and holding shenfu between each of his fingers, with the lightning character denoting them as ‘Seal of Lightning’ talismans, he began the to impress his will upon them.

“Form, construct—” The shenfu began to fold upon themselves, taking the shape of dragonflies with their wings locked into place. “Life, impart—” There was a glow as the dragonflies came to life, fluttering their wings as they awaited their command. “Purpose, destruction of enemy—” With their orders set, they only awaited to command to begin. “Mission, start!”

The animated manikin constructs flew off at his command and threw themselves at the flying worms. Upon reaching the menaces, they released their curse that served as the basis of their existence, unloading a string of lightning that washed over the bugs. The flow of electricity ruptured their bloated bodies and fried their wings, leaving the mess of fluid and meat to fall to the ground.

Shikigami Exertion—the art of creating a being similar to a familiar with the power to do a single-purpose curse and would last until he lost the energy to sustain them. It was the second piece, useful information he could reclaim from the Ryuudou Temple after bribing an unscrupulous monk for access to the scrolls of their Houjutsu…and some hypnotism using his Mystic Eyes of Whisper to make sure he kept quiet and couldn’t identify him afterwards.

Even then, what he used was merely a degraded version compared to the ones he had at home and even then a familiar was preferable. These creations weren’t alive in the sense of a familiar and were inferior. They could only carry out his simplistic orders on their own, unless he guided them, and they weren’t capable of using the Art or having their own Magic Circuit.

In the end it was just something thrown together to work for his low number of circuits and health. Not that they didn’t have their uses as excellent suicide bombers, trackers, and spies, especially when he used a shenfu as a medium to serve as the basis of the single-use curse they could unleash. Since he wasn’t limited to using living animals, he’d often reshape them into that of a dragonfly for size and speed, further reinforcing it if he needed durability.

If he needed something bigger, like the size of a dog or up, he needed to have an appropriate amount of paper with a shenfu inside as a core and to use a Formalcraft ritual belonging to the school of magic. The one time he tried to do it without the ritual it failed and left him gasping for air while in pain from the strain of using magic that was beyond him…for now. In other words, it was a cheap practice that required a lot of set up if you wanted to do something impressive, but even then it was still limited.

Still, given the temple’s history and despite the fact that there were no longer any active Houjutsushi, there should have been more knowledge than a couple of scrolls that he found besides the shikigami information in a spiritual land like this. Somehow Shinji didn’t doubt the fact that it was purposely hollowed out by his grandfather at one point and time, given how effective their exorcism arts tended to be on things like him. Now that he truly knew how twisted his grandfather’s craft was, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

Shinji registered the presence of magical energy and interpreted it as sound. To him, the sound of Zouken’s body alone was the same squelching sound of bloated worms moving about in an unnatural manner that sent shivers down his spine.


Ngh…” Shinji grunted as the feeling of his circuits running hot was becoming all consuming and his od levels were dropping. As if sensing his distraught, the horde of insects prepared to swarm, leaving him no choice but to wrap this up and then head back to the Matou Residence to go take the medicine he made to aid his body from the strain.

Inside Shinji’s Workshop

Sakura Matou stared in curiosity at the items in her brother’s workshop as she waited for him to return from the shower after practicing, feeling a little dizzy and hot. Even though it had been a few years, she subconsciously found herself comparing it to the Tohsaka one that her sister had once taken her into. It was different, to say the least.

In one corner, by a fireplace, was a sturdy table with chemicals in vials and…gourds? A cauldron was bubbling over a low fire, and the scent of herbs and medicine was in a cabinet that was nailed to the wall. She didn’t know what he used, but Shinji would make her some of that candy that made her feel better once a month from there.

She looked over to his laptop in another corner, where he typed in the notes he had gathered. He mentioned that he was slowly transcribing all the materials in the study too, but it would take a few years. Her fat—Tokiomi Tohsaka never used something like that, always relying on older methods because of his pride as a magus…

Sakura hated that and loved it about him when she was younger. His obsession with the elegance of being a magus was what led to her current situation. The fact that he died and her mother was soon to follow left her feeling conflicted, a mixture of glee and sorrow. They were responsible for everything, giving her to Zouken, introducing her to the pain of betrayal and perversion of the Crest Worms.

Even though it was a cruel feeling, knowing that Rin had no one and she had her brother left her somewhat happy and horribly guilty at the same time, because she knew there was nothing Rin could have done. A sinister part of her even wished she could put her through what she went through, sharing the pain. Although she would be hard pressed to admit it, she missed her sister and the fact that they never saw each other despite their residence being so close together…but Rin was a magus before she was a sister, and following tradition meant a lot to her, so they would never be sisters.

Walking over to the corner by the door, Sakura saw ran her hand alongside a large shikigami modeled after, and scaled to the size of, a tiger. Her brother named it ‘Baihu‘ and said that the white sheets of construction paper that made it were all reinforced through fuwen written on the underside of the individual pieces that merged seamlessly, to the extent that you could barely tell where one sheet began and another ended, placing its exterior at the same level as steel. He told her that the ritual took him four hours to make sure he didn’t botch it since it was his first major combat shikigami…and it took a lot of paper, so much he had to have her help bring it in.

Since then he made a few more that lay in the pile: Zhuque, the phoenix made of red and gold sheets. Qinglong, the dragon made of azure-blue sheets. Genbu, the turtle made of black sheets. Fangfeng, the giant made of tanned sheets. Bashe, the serpent made of two-shades of green sheets.

The numerous shikigami there were merely shells, manikins who’s ‘Seal of False Life’ had not received the necessary connection to move on their own after they had been tested. They were his proudest prototypes; ones that would serve to further improve his future shikigami…Sakura still wondered how he got them out of the house to test and then back inside being so big and heavy.

On another desk, to the left of the group of constructs, were origami animals in containers that her brother used. There were a couple of map of Fuyuki that had scribbling on them as well, a few charred at certain points. He said he was making a divination tracking array or something, using the four gods.

Nii-sama is really learning magic, Sakura thought. And part of that scared her. What if he decided to follow the path of a magus as well and abandon her?

Crreeekkkk…The door creaked open as Shinji appeared, a towel around his neck after changing into a thermal shirt and pajama pants.

“Sakura, it’s late,” he said. “Why are you still up? It’s nearly Midnight.”

“I…wanted to see you,” she said softly, staggering as she walked towards him.

“You can barely stand straight,” he said, his brow furrowed in curiosity as he felt her head. “You’re burning up too. I’ll give you some medicine and put you into bed.”

“I’m…fine,” she said.

“No, you’re not,” Shinji sighed before taking the girl into his arms and carrying her out. “I’ll stay with you tonight to make sure you get some sleep.”

“But, your notes…?” Sakura tried to argue; poorly given she could barely stay awake. “You said you were going to—”

“They can wait until the morning,” he assured her, carrying her through the hall. “I’m your brother before I’m a spellcaster.”

A magus who doesn’t follow the traditional path of the magus was a spellcaster. Shinji was not a magus in that sense, as he refused the tradition that abandoned her to this life. He studied the Art to help her, not for the sake of the Art itself.

Knowing that, Sakura resigned to resting in his arms and basking in his warmth. He would never betray her or abandon her, not like her family before now. “Okay, Nii-sama…”

In A Dark Alley Somewhere

Zouken felt the warm emotion of Storge affection filling the girl, after going through a range of other emotions, using the connection with his familiars inside her. He smiled enough that it shifted the wrinkles on his newly acquired body’s cheeks as he walked from the point of the victim’s death back to his home. He could capitalize on those emotions, and twist them into something ugly soon enough.

After all, the worms were starting to feed on her prana more and more as she grew older.

The process was not too quickly, as to not break her body before he could get her soul and mind to do it first. Right now she merely felt feverish and a twinge of craving that was easily suppressed subconsciously. But soon, in two or three years, it would get to the point where she would seek relief from the all-consuming carnal desires of the Crest Worms through the more satiable means.

And Shinji would be forced to give it to her or watch as her mind crumbled beneath the lust.

That sibling bond would make the act even more sickening to the pair, their bodies savoring the feeling as their minds rejected their actions. It would stain their souls with every ounce of self-loathing, pity, anger, shame, and hatred they could muster. They would probably try to rationalize it as them not being actual siblings in blood, but the dark feelings would mar their souls and make them wallow in private—staining an innocent affection forever.

Zouken would admit that Shinji was worth more than his father ever was as a puppet. The man was an easily controlled fool, whom he simply allowed to waste away due to his vices. But unlike his father, the boy didn’t know he was being manipulated. Every ounce of kindness he showed her, every thought of freeing her from her fate, and every bit of happiness that was obtained would be thrown back as despair three times over.

Shinji was much like his uncle Kariya in the fact that he believed that he could do something on his own and was defying the elderly Matou. Yet he different in the fact that he was actively studying a craft and seeking knowledge and power rather than expecting Zouken to hand it to him, as his uncle did and paid the price for it. With that power, he could at least serve as a decent pawn in the Holy Grail War that was coming.

Zouken had monitoring systems in place, and he knew that the destruction of the physical body of the grail had ended up leaving it with so much unspent energy that it was devoting it to restarting the war sooner. As if a fire that small could encompass all the energy of the grail. It would be less than ten years by his guess, although he would know for certain once a Servant had been summoned and a command seal issued.

The representative of the Matou would most likely be the girl and thusly placing her in danger. The boy would act to protect her and at the same time bring him the grail for her freedom, as did Kariya. While Shinji didn’t have the prana levels to sustain a Servant and probably wouldn’t, there was always the ‘Book of the False Attendant‘ Zouken had developed to fill in the gap rather than risk his most valuable pawn. It would also have the benefit of allowing him to fight with all his power without the strain of handling such a large existence.

Still, it wouldn’t be as effective as a real command seal and once exposed it would place Sakura as a target. But hopefully the boy will have managed to kill a Master or two with the skills he did have by that point, before being killed by the Tohsaka heir and spurring the girl to loathe her sister anew at taking away her seemingly last shot at happiness. That should be enough to twist her into the perfect existence.

There was always the slim possibility that Shinji could win the prize himself if the Servant was strong enough, but Zouken liked not laying all his worms in a single pit, so to speak. Perhaps he should actually make an effort to seek out a suitable summoning catalyst while he had the time and advantage of the knowledge. That would maximize his chances to ensure him the Holy Grail and immortality that didn’t rely on having such a withered body.

“Just a little more time before the pieces fall into place,” the old worm in human form said, as he walked the dark street with a smile on his face.

Second Year, Middle School

Time had passed.

Within the halls of a school building, the spellcaster and the one who sought the path of the hero met once again on even ground, unaware that the other walked alongside death for the sake of a goal otherwise unreachable.

“Ah…you’re that idiot from a few years back, aren’t you?” Shinji asked as the sun was starting to set. He was inspecting the cultural festival signboard that Shirou was fixing up. “You’re still an idiot for doing this for those third-year guys, but you do really good work.”

“Thanks,” Shirou blinked until he recognized him by his hair, after all it was unique. “Shinji Matou, right? How’s your sister?”

“Fine as she can be,” he said. “If you’re planning on doing the other signboards you’ll be late getting home. Won’t that worry your family?”

“I live alone for the most part since my Dad died, and Fuji-nee is at her job until later.” Shirou said plainly.

“Sorry to hear that,” Shinji said honestly. The thought did cross his mind considering how the man seemed sick but…still. “Anyway, I still owe from that time with Sakura. How about we head out to this Italian Restaurant I know.”

“I told you, I wasn’t expecting a reward—”

“I insist,” Shinji said. “Besides, the company will keep me from getting bored.”

Shirou simply shrugged, realizing he wasn’t getting out of it. It didn’t hurt to eat out every now and again, plus he rarely made friends. It was the beginning of an awkward friendship to say the least.

Author’s Note:

Alright, Shirou is in the game now. This would be an example of a ripple effect, in meeting Shinji, who knew Magecraft, led to Kiritsugu discovering Shirou’s screw up, and in turn will lead to Shirou being somewhat more competent than before.

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