In the Yggdamillennia castle, there exists many workshops dedicated to the production of homunculi. They differed slightly from the ones produced from the Einzberns but the purpose and product was basically the same.
They were disposable, cannon fodder to throw at their enemies. They boasted physical prowess that would put a reinforced human to shame.
Oddly enough, the Church didn't crack down on this practice of creating artificial 'humans'. While the church had never made it a secret of their hatred for magi, they never explicitly mentioned homunculi. It was known that Homunculi do in fact posses' souls so, possibly the church did not see the issue with their creation as in their eyes they would return to the creator to be judged regardless.
The production of Homunculi wasn't exactly a top tier craft, but it was a secret well enough guarded that only a few families had the means to create them and most magi had to purchase any they required.
The Yggdamillennia were such a family that had the means to create their own after stealing a bit of research from the Einzberns, and they invested heavily into their forces.
The obvious reason being their foot soldiers as they only had so many magi under their command. But the second reason and possibly more important, was specifically for this war.
In the bowels of the castle, there were large rooms dedicated to the storing of homunculi in glass containers. They were acting as prana batteries for the sustaining of the servants for the war effort.
In one of these containers there was an anomaly. A homunculus with a bit more self-awareness and magic circuits that would make the greatest magi families green with envy.
He watched in his prison as the people of the castle used, and threw away, his kind every day until he finally had enough
He destroyed the container by overloading it with prana and sought to escape as he stumbled out of the lab. Having never walked before, he couldn't get very far before he was discovered….but a certain pink haired servant as he passed out from over exertion.
It wasn't long after that he awoke in a bedroom on the far side of the castle, away from most prying eyes. There he was finally introduced to the person who 'saved' him. Rider of Black, also known as Astolfo, one of the 12 paladins of Charlemagne.
Rider wasn't the only one, he enlisted the help of their Resident Archer, Chiron mentor of heroes. The former divine spirit was mentored in his life by Apollo, the god of music and medicine. He was knowledgeable enough to heal the young homunculi, though the fact that his life would not extend past three years wasn't something he could resolve.
When the faction returned after the battle between Ruler's servant and Rider of Red, Astolfo was able to sneak away for a bit as the others were still a bit preoccupied with everything that happened.
"Rider...where are we going?" The homunculi asked as the pink haired servant dragged him down the steps of the castle.
"We're escaping!" He said with glee.
He continued to drag the homunculi into the partially ruined forest outside of the castle as they kept moving.
Rider heard the alarms go off at the castle and knew they had been found out but hid his worry to not spook his companion. Though he noticed the homunculi breathing hard as was forced to stop for a moment.
"Tired" He asked, noticing the homunculus clutching the given sword tightly. Rider thought it would help his confidence to give him a weapon to clutch onto. It would also increase his survivability as homunculi have physical ability far above a normal human. Though it would take a bit for this one to get his body in shape.
"Can I really escape?" The homunculus asked.
"Of course, I'm helping you after all." He replied with a smile.
"But, I'm going to die in three years, whats the point?"
"Do you think you don't deserve to live?"
"What can I do in three years? What mark could I possibly leave on the world? I don't know what I'm supposed to do." The homunculus replied.
"You don't have to leave your mark on the world. The things we do in life, what we strive for and achieve we do them merely because we want to. All you truly need…is a will to live." Rider rexplained.
A Rider finished speaking, he suddenly felt another presence appear behind him.
Saber of Black materialized from his astralized form and stood staring at the duo as his master hurridly caught up beside him.
The master of Saber, Gordes, huffed as he caught his breath. "There you are! Jeese…..why do I have to be the one to run errands?"
"Hey…..run, I'll hold off saber." Rider whispered to the homunculus behind him.
The Master of Saber yelled at him to take care of rider while the homunculus stood there staring blankly.
"GO." Rider yelled as he finally collected himself and darted off into the forest away from the servants who were about to fight.
"DAMMIT" Gordes yelled as he chased after the homunculus.
Saber unsheathed his blade and engaged Rider who materialized his lance.
Gordes continued to chase but he didn't get very far as the homunculus easily stumbled as his experience with running was very limited.
"Jeese, why does caster want a broken thing like you that can't even run right." As he reached down to grab the boy, his eyes widened as he knocked the magi's hands away. "What? A Homunculus with enough self-awareness to preserve their own life?" He blurted out in surprise.
The homunculus they made were known to be without a will of their own and merely followed instructions. As the main creator of the homunculi for his faction, he was thoroughly surprised at this behavior.
"I WANT TO LIVE" The homunculus screamed as he unsheathed the sword that Rider had given him previously.
Gordes again stared wide-eyed as he instinctively reinforced his arms and attacked.
The swing of the blade was awkward at best as it had no chance to hurt him but a reinforced fist was about to connect with the homunculus's chest.
A moment later, both parties found themselves wrapped up in chains as they noticed a dozen golden ripples surrounding them.
"I do believe that is enough." A voice sounded out nearby.
Gordes and the homunculus looked over to see a familiar knight and saint walk out from the nearby trees.
"SABER" Gordes yelled out.
A moment later, Saber of Black came running over to stand by his master and Rider followed as well as he approached the homunculus.
Alex let the chains recall back into the gate as the Homunculus retreated a bit away.
"YOU! You are interfering with Yggdamillennia business, you are supposed to be neutral!" Gordes shouted.
"I don't recall breaking any established rules. A person who is not apart of the war wished to be removed from it, what is the problem here?" Alex replied.
"That thing is the property of our faction, you have no right to stop me from taking it back. Saber, go retrieve the product." Gordes declared.
Saber nodded solemnly as he approached.
"Master, your orders?" Alex said as he looked towards Ruler.
She looked a little conflicted at the situation. "He is neither a master nor a servant. You have permission to protect this innocent." She declared.
Gordes scowled. "Saber, kill them and get that homunculus!" He shouted in rage.
Alex brought invisible air out as he connected with Saber's Balmung. He could feel the suppression the blade was leaking out towards his dragon aspect.
But he also felt something odd from the owner of the blade, it was as if his heart wasn't in it. Each time their blades connected, it was without any passion or pride.
"Is this what you've turned into Siegfried?" Alex said as he deflected another swing.
Saber didn't answer but there was a slight twitch in his expression.
"STOP PLAYING AROUND AND FINISH HIS SABER" Gordes shouted again.
Their 'fight' continued even through the shouts as Saber and Alex half-heartedly tried to attack one another.
"Serving a shitty magus without honor, condemning an innocent to a fate worse than death."
Saber at this point truly wanted to reply, his master's orders previously had forbade him from speaking though.
"What even is your wish, I feel no desire in your blade." Alex said again.
Saber came to a halt at that statement, his hands trembling slightly as he stared at his 'opponent'.
"My wish..." He muttered
"SABER THAT'S ENOUGH, BY THE POWER OF THIS COMMAND SEAL I ORDER YOU TO USE YOUR NOBLE PHANTASM." Gordes yelled in rage.
Saber's eyes widened as he held his blade infront of him as he lost control of his actions. He tried his best to fight it, but his body was no longer his own.
He pulled down the hilt to reveal a jewel that began to glow and fill with energy.
"YOU FOOL" Alex shouted in the direction of Gordes. "HIS NOBLE PHANTASM IS AN ANTI-ARMY ATTACK"
The idiot master didn't seem to realize, the noble phantasm was a wide-ranged destructive type attack and he didn't even take cover himself, let alone the others.
The energy shot up into the sky from his blade, its activation was fast. Faster than when Alex used his own version.
Saber continued to fight the command though, slowing the process down by even a second.
"The Evil dragon will fall....."
"And the world will now reach the Twilight."
Rider ran towards the homunculus and Ruler tried to get out of range as Gordes seemed to realize he messed up.
"BALMUNG" Saber roared in anger as the blade fell.
The attack landed as the area of the forest was decimated but the anti-army attack.
Even though it was a strong attack, the fact that Siegfried had no will to unleash it had significantly reduced it's power.
Alex stood standing, only minor injuries as his blade was revealed to block the blow. Ruler was relatively unarmed, minus a few scrapes and scratches. Gordes was blown away and got hit a bit in the after math as he stood up and was bleeding from various places.
Rider had taken a bit of the blow as he ran to protect the homunculus that was within range of the attack. No, the one who suffered the most was the weakest of the bunch.
While he was barely affected, his body was just too weak.
Rider stared at him. "Hey....You okay? Get up." There was no response as the homunculus's eyes had no light in them.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE YOU STUPID FAMILIAR?" Gordes shouted.
"I followed your command, Master" Saber replied, his voice practically dripping with anger.
"Don't you speak to me like that! I'm your master, now go retrieve the item and we'll bring it back to caster. I'm sure its parts will still be of use."
Alex had the urge to run his blade through this man, but to his surprise he noticed a fair amount of bloodlust coming from the usually composed saber.
"No, I will not master." Saber replied.
"WHAT!? I order you as your master, go get that thing and bring it to me now!"
Even Ruler was a bit surprised at the expression that Saber showed. All their interaction up to this point, the man was always soft spoken and never showed anything past a neutral expression even if he did not like the orders he was given.
Saber stared at his master, his eyes were now unwavering in his resolve. "You and what command seals."
Gordes gaped at the comment, opening his mouth to say something but never able to voice anything. His anger taking hold as his hand lit up and his command seal looking ready to use. Before he could truly speak a command, a fist connected with his stomach, knocking him out.
Saber gently put his master's body down as he approached the now fallen child.
"You asked me what my wish was." Saber said. "I don't have a grand wish like most of the participants in this war, if anything its selfish and laughable."
"What are you doing Saber?' Ruler asked as the man placed his hand over his heart.
A moment later they all saw his fingers sinking into his flesh as he gripped something solid and ripped it out. His still beating dragon heart now pulsating in his hand.
He stumbled up to the homunculus that was laying on the ground and pushed his heart into the boy's chest.
A moment later, his complexion got better as a faint heartbeat was now heard and his breathing returned.
"Saber….." Ruler muttered as the hero slumped to the ground in exhaustion.
"My Wish.....just once I wanted to know what it felt like. To save someone without being asked to."
A content smile appeared on his face as blood began to drip from his mouth. "So...this Is what pride feels like....its nice. Ruler, would you please extend your protection to the boy. He deserves a chance at life."
Ruler looked at him, even if she didn't want to do what he asked, how could one deny the smile they were being presented with as they asked a favor? "You have my word Siegfried, he will come to no harm under my watch."
"Thank you." The hero said one last time as he body dissipated into the air.
Sorry for the delay, i should be doing another chapter after i get off work tonight and another one this weekend.
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