The Chaldeans were advancing quietly but steadily through London's streets. The eerie quietness was ever-present and hard to get used to, but they still pushed on nonetheless.
There were no enemies in sigh, although with the fog covering their vision it wouldn't be surprising if their foes were right next to them, hiding in some alley in waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. It was the reason why they did not let their guard down. It wasn't to the point of paranoia, but it was close.
The only one who seemed unfazed was Saber, but that was probably because she had done this many times in the past, so she knew what to and what not expect.
Speaking of the knight, their journey would lead them a bit farther from her usual patrols, but not that much. According to her, she had been increasing the range with each travel, and so far, she has only fought a Servant once. When asked, though, she didn't give much detail, so they left it at that.
'Vlad, I think we are already far enough. You can show yourself now.' Fujimaru spoke mentally to his Servant through their link. He didn't want to cause a wrong impression on Saber since she knew Lancer and it would be weird to explain why Berserker didn't show himself up until now, so he opted for speaking where she wouldn't hear.
The Ruler of Wallachia quickly reappeared at his side through blue particles, offering a nod to the young Master. Noticing his appearance, Mordred spoke with a raised eyebrow, "Huh? There was another one? What were you doing, geezer? Aren't you too old to be having escapades?"
She admitted she was a little surprised at the appearance of another Servant, but seeing how he positioned himself quietly and without any sort of hostility next to the wimp, she assumed he was an ally. Of course, Mordred wouldn't admit she was really close to launching herself to attack him.
Though... he seemed familiar for some reason?
For his part, if he didn't have a certain level of dignity to maintain as a King, Vlad would have showed a greater reaction than just a twitch of his eyebrows.
Different from Mordred, though, he still recognized the girl, something he noted didn't go both ways. Contrasting machinations between Chaldea's summoning and the World's he supposed.
"Tsk. Not fun." Saber clicked her tongue after seeing her attempt at breaking the ice didn't have the intended success.
Mash and Medea had forced smiles while Carmilla simply rolled her eyes. What she would pay to have a carriage to make the dull journey a bit faster at the very least. Perhaps she could use her Master as mean of transportation? Such sadistic thoughts crossed her minds while the said person felt a chill out of nowhere.
He decided to solve a doubt that he had been having to try and push his mind away from that creepy feeling. 'Hey, Vlad. Don't you think all of this secrecy around Lancer is over the top? She hasn't really acted suspiciously around us... At least while we were looking.'
'Hm... It is true that from an outsider's perspective, our way of acting might seem uncouth. However, her legend merits us to be careful while dealing with her.' As the old saying goes: better be safe than sorry.
'Is it that bad?' Although his expression barely changed, his confusion and slight disbelief could certainly be noted in his voice. Granted, he didn't know much, so that could be attributed to his own ignorance.
Seemingly aware of his plight, Berserker took it upon himself to give a summarized version of her story for his Master. 'Raised by a lioness, kidnapped at a young age and almost raped by an Indian King. She killed him before the act, took over his kingdom, became the queen, and then went out to steal all the treasures to finance her trip to western Europe. A woman said to fight fiercer than any men and never have been defeated in life. Do you think our worries are unnecessary?'
'That is... something. Now it makes sense why Ku—why Seth was wary of her. I am sure our alliance wouldn't have gone so smoothly if we had messed up...' To say he wasn't at least a little bit shaken from his Servant's words would be a lie. She hid it well, at least in front of his inexperienced eyes, but he could understand if she still held a grudge against people like Vlad or the other Master.
'Exactly so. She is a top tier Heroic Spirit, so, no matter if we won during an hypothetical fight, we would not have been gotten off lightly. Sometimes knowing more about your allies is more important doing so about your enemies. You would do well in remembering that, my Vassal.' He would not shrink away from a fight, but he would be foolish in instigating one when it was totally avoidable, especially one that could end with them having less support and unnecessary wounds.
'Right... Thanks for the advice. It seems I will have to add an extra course on history when I return to Chaldea. Though, now that we are on this topic; you mentioned that she was never defeated, right? Does that mean she has some sort of invincibility like Heracles?' A small shudder went through his frame at the recollection of the hulking behemoth. He definitely did not want to face against him ever again.
'It is possible. Even I am not sure of the criteria for our powers as Servants. How does our legend influence us? Is it when more people are aware of it that we become more powerful? Is it the content of the legend itself? Or is it perhaps how much it has affected the preconception of people? Regardless, you should expect future Servants to have seemingly impossible capabilities.' Noticing he was getting off-topic, the blonde-haired man decided to give a piece of advice to his Master.
Fujimaru didn't respond again, but his pensive expression was enough answer. Vlad was satisfied with that. The more he grew as a Master, the more he would be able to use them at their full potential.
In truth, he always felt the need to improve himself in any way possible. He knew that defeating a Servant was impossible because his capacity as a Magus was limited, but that didn't mean he couldn't capitalize in other areas, and even in the combat aspect, he could try his hand at fending off normal monsters or outright killing them if some conditions were met.
Was it strange that the mention of him killing someone, it didn't matter if they weren't human or animal, was something he considered as acceptable? The past him would have answered with a clear and concise 'Yes'.
The black-haired youth would even go as far as to say that his past self would also berate him in his ways. Something about violence not being the answer, and that talk could do much more than just fighting with one's fist.
He wouldn't know of the horrors he experienced. The dread; the sadness; the anger; the despair. The... powerlessness...
In the span of a few months, he had been made aware of how really small he was in the grand scheme of things. He was forced to watch time and time again as people he had come to care about got hurt in front of him... He had caused the death of a Servant that he was not even the Master of, and knowing the outlook of that person's real Master on death, his actions might have caused an irreparable situation in where she wouldn't get a second chance.
And as if that wasn't enough, his mind was still implanted with the memory of Seth being eaten by Typhon. The recentness only helped to make it worse. In the moments were he was alone it would randomly flash through his mind as a painful reminder of how weak he really was.
That Ritsuka considered Seth to be a sort of older brother figure would be an understatement, so seeing him almost die—no. At that moment Fujimaru truly thought he had died. He thought he had lost him forever. The fellow Master, who despite belonging to a totally different race, could understand him better than anyone; better than even he himself could.
It was the Lev incident all over again...
He clenched his hands into fists to prevent himself from breaking down there and then at the recollection of the event where he lost his sister. He lost her when Chaldea was bombed; he lost his parents when the Earth was incinerated. He wasn't confident in being able to take it one more time if Seth were to die.
The youth had to constantly remind himself that different from him, his fellow Master was not powerless. He was strong. There was no way he could die that easily. Although...
He was also the one that got exposed to danger the most. That meant the chance of him finding someone he could not win against was proportionally greater.
Fujimaru really wished his mind worked on ways to prevent that from happening instead of uselessly filling his head with never-ending worries. Unfortunately, reality was often disappointing, and this case was not the exception to the rule.
Again, the image of Seth being eaten after an exhausting fight against Heracles resurfaced. To this day, he didn't know where that Beast had come from, but like a scavenger animal, it chose the worse moment to strike.
An enemy that he couldn't defeat had already appeared; the same enemy they were helpless against. What was to say the trend wouldn't continue?
Seth had mentioned that "someone" got him out and defeated Typhon, but who was it? He never told anyone, so there was no way of knowing. And if that person wasn't interested in even establishing contact with them, then he or she couldn't exactly be considered an ally.
The black-haired man had clearly told him not to trust anyone, and despite having difficulties to follow that creed in its entireness, he still took it to heart. Show your trust outside, and your mistrust inside. That was what he had told him, something that seemed to apply here.
However, if he couldn't trust anyone, then he could only depend on himself. Of course, he would never really do that, but that didn't mean he wouldn't try to better himself in preparation of bad outcomes.
He was already building up his stamina by dodging Cu Chulainn's spells; learning to fight and use your instincts with Seth, and finally, learning tactics and efficient command with Zhuge Liang. Yet, he knew it was no near enough for what was to come.
It shouldn't have to stop at those three.
What did it mean to save the world? He sometimes asked that question to himself when his mind rambled. It sounded easy to say it... but when he put more thought into it, it was further from being so.
Saving the world was the goal, but what about the road? What would it involve? Was everything going to resolve itself with just words? Fists? Blood? Sacrifices...?
It could be all of them for all he knew. That was why he wanted to be as prepared as possible. It was extremely hard to know every single legend from every single mythology out there, but he at least could bother to learn about the most impactful ones or about those whose protagonists were powerful beyond belief or did deeds so unbelievable that they left a deep impact on people.
He had only grasped the surface due to the limited time of his learning, but he already showed some improvements in Magecraft; or to be more specific, Jewelcraft. Ritsuka didn't know how Seth was able to tell the thing that would suit him the most, but the important thing is that he did, and it worked from what little he was able to tell.
A sideways glance to his right hip revealed a small sized pouch that he knew was filled with equally sized gems ready to use in case of an emergency. It surprised him the first time, but after thinking for a bit, he realized it was logical. Albeit amidst complicated circumstances, he was a King. Having riches shouldn't be something to be shocked about. He still blamed it on his misconceptions. Another matter to improve, he thought.
The youth felt he was imposing too much already, but he knew how much Seth wanted him to grow in different aspects, so he wouldn't be reluctant to add another thing to the training. His earlier conversation with Vlad told him that he was not a good at discerning people's nature, so he wanted his help regarding that. As someone who has lived for many, many years, he was the right person in Fujimaru's mind for that.
He would probably never be on par with a Servant in terms of fighting capabilities. The same applied when it came to commanding forces. He was still young and inexperienced; that much was true.
However... However... He wouldn't lose to anyone with regard to his resolve.
This was a war he did not want to fight. He just got dragged into it without any say. There were most likely better suited people for the job than him. After all, he was just someone normal until a few month ago. Being able to magically have all the answers and resolve every situation that arose was merely a pipe dream and something of fantasy.
Fujimaru was aware of that, more than anyone else.
But... He will absolutely not do a half-assed job. He will see things through to the end with his own two eyes.
He might not be the best Master in the world, but he sword he would be the best possible within his own capabilities.
That was the resolve of Fujimaru Ritsuka, the last human Master of Chaldea.
I feel like shieeeeetttt. Winter banzaii...
Good luck to those rolling for Kama and/or single mother Okitan on JP btw