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Fragments of Chaldea

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A tiny strand of blonde haired shook occasionally with its owner's movement, visible over a booth's divider in Salon de Marie.

Arturia sipped from her tall glass filled with a blueberry milkshake, complete with whipped cream and cherry. Her green eyes seemed distant as she gazed forward. While maintaining her regal posture she smoothed out her ocean blue, sleeveless halter dress. A golden necklace adorned her otherwise bare neck since her hair was tied up with blue ribbon in the servant's usual crowned bun. Resting both hands on her lap, the young woman listened to the light piano music, enjoying Mozart's elegant pla-

"Hi Arty!" came a cheerful voice to her side.

She smiled back and replied, "Hi, Jeanne!"

The Saint waved to her before the amethyst dress disappeared in the direction of Mozart, leaving the King of Knights once more to her thoughts. She was close friends with Jeanne, and with her and Mashu they made quite the trio on the fields. The only qualm she had regarding the beautiful girl was that sometimes others would joke they were sisters since they had identical faces. While she could see that, their eyes and hairstyles definitely separated them as individuals much to her relief. It was just a nitpick though. It wasn't as bad as-

"Good evening, Arturia!" came a female voice just as she turned to look for her dinner companion.

A figure with short cut, platinum blonde hair bowed towards her. She returned upright and smiled as silver eyes met green. The woman before her wore a white kimono covered with a sakura petal design. A red obi-age wrapped around her waist with a white obi-jime cord. A pale skinned hand went up to her mouth to cover her cough, before returning to her side as she smiled once more.

"Hello, Okita," Arturia responded pleasantly with a slight bow of her head.

"I hope you enjoy your dinner!" The servant called before disappearing towards the bar, likely where Nobunaga currently was.

Arturia sighed and looked to where Okita had disappeared. If people joked that she and Jeanne were sisters, it was only worse with Okita who people claimed was her fraternal twin. She got along well with the top notch saber, and like many, was concerned for her health. Between her and Jeanne, it was just annoying to deal with all of the teasing thrown at her and wondered how the two dealt with it. Maybe she was just nitpicking before her birthday, but at least it wasn't as bad as-

"Good evening, stalwart King of Camelot!" the proud voice of the Empress of Rome boomed from the side as she strutted by in her red dress, swiftly disappearing before receiving an answer.

Nero. Their physical appearances were nearly identical. Their battle regalia almost matched completely should she take her armor off. She huffed in frustration at the amount of twin and clone jokes thrown at her just for the sheer coincidence she and Nero looked nearly interchangeable.

Thankfully her friend's haughty attitude, more revealing dress styles, and battle stances weren't identical or she knew the jokes would have multiplied tenfold. Even master was initially shocked at how similar they looked after Nero stopped crying and pushed through the crowd to meet the newest servant. She even had the guts to state her Roman figure was still more beautiful, especially her chest. As much of friends as they were now, Arturia still couldn't shake how much the red saber reminded her of Gilgamesh.

Her mental train now dipping negative, the King of Knights sipped on her milkshake with irritated eyes and a partially broken posture.

She groaned quietly as her mind snowballed to topics that annoyed her about Chaldea. So many servants looked like her. There were just so many servants in general. Emiya wasn't cooking for all three meals. She even began thinking about so many other sabers, and while not one was bad, it diluted the class so she shined less, but she was still controversially called the best saber. Maybe she let past grail wars coax her into believing she was the best, but many considered her the most pow-

"Brooding will never suit you, Miss Pendragon."

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Fragment 9: The Heroine Chaldea Deserves

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The male voice of her dinner mate came from her side as he walked to his seat, snapping her out of her thoughts and instantly straightening her posture.

The male servant sat down, wearing a dark green dress shirt with a black tie that matched equally dark formal pants. His black hair was slicked back at the top, with only a single, wavy strand falling in front of his face between his golden brown eyes. A single, small mole rested just beneath his right eye, a mark giving to him as a curse. He smiled with pearly white teeth towards his dinner companion, who groaned quietly and looked to the table in embarrassment at being caught with negative thoughts by her close friend, yet again.

"Neither does tardiness suit you, Diarmuid," the woman grumbled in response, causing a small chuckle at her feeble attempt to get back at the lancer.

"Grumbling over your look-alikes again? Or is it that Emiya never cooks enough?" He asked, making her blush at how he knew her so well at this point.

"The former," she stated, deciding to be honest about the cause of her storm. "At least you don't joke with me about it."

"Angering the King of Knights is low on my to-do list," He said simply with a friendly wink.

Diarmuid had been one of the servants to watch her catalyst summoning weeks ago, and she was surprised to see him at the facility. Her wariness about unfamiliar servants was vanquished, but only to be replaced by a concern and caution regarding the pair's last encounter. To say they left on harsh conditions was an understatement, with the male servant even declaring some choice words directed towards her and others involved. This concern diminished after they had talked privately about it, both acknowledging that it was their respective mages at fault, particularly saber's cunning yet deceitful master.

Since that talk, their friendship has been solidified off and on the battlefield where she could consider him one of her closest friends alongside Jeanne and Emiya. The latter two joined them at dinner later since they usually had their own tasks to do during supper. Jeanne entertained most nights and Emiya was constantly working in the kitchen. On some nights Jeanne would sit with them early and eat when someone else wanted to sing, or attempt to, but Emiya usually had to deal with extra orders.

In all honesty, she was often the one asking for thirds and keeping him in the kitchen, much to his teasing.

Irisviel was another of her closest friends, but she was usually found near Atalanta, Tamamo, and the children. Her motherly instincts made her a perfect, close aunt for Jackie and Alice, and lets Emiya have some breathing room from the smothering affection of his adoptive mother. While spending any time with Emiya was one of the better moments of a day, watching his mother fuss over him was always a treat. He would begrudgingly deny liking it.

A robot with a bowtie hovered to their table and placed down a basket of garlic bread and a red wine bottle, their usual appetizers. Discarding her negative thoughts, thanks to the newly arrived food uplifting her spirit, Arturia started small talk and jokes with Diarmuid as Jeanne began to sing softly with Mozart's playing.

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Across the room, a certain supervisor in a green, one shoulder dress and a berserker in a black suit stared at their dinner companion.

"Oh no. What are you planning?" Naomi asked with a hint of concern as she watched Medea attempt to hide the fact she was mischievously staring towards Arturia and Diarmuid from a few tables away.

"Oh, nothing," she giggled before turning to her salad. "Just a funny prank or two."

Vlad looked at her with a raised eyebrow before returning to the appetizers on the table. Naomi had also returned to her own salad, having acknowledged it was the truth but unsure of the reason why.

"Just... don't set off the facility's alarms like Drake did. Especially tomorrow when they're doing maintenance on the security system."

Medea smoothed her purple dress and cast one last sidelong glance towards the unknowing pair. There were a scant few jokes that Arturia and Diarmuid were more than just friends, the comments started by the male servant's fellow blue haired, Irish lancer who feigned ignorance. They were not as numerous as the rumors about her and Emiya as an item. If anything, Cu likely started it as a jab towards Emiya.

She amusingly ran through possibilities she could do to prank Arturia, acknowledging Diarmuid would get hit by the collateral damage unfortunately. She would have used Emiya, but Diarmuid was far more likely to be near the King of Knights just based on chore load. She had nothing against the man, but she did have a small, though slowly diminishing itch to tease the poor king even though they were on pleasant terms now. Not friends, but definitely not antagonizing. There was nothing wrong with a prank or two, especially since some other servants were known to be total jokers.

The princess ran some pranks in her mind but settled on one that would make her feel a little better at her defeat during the fifth war. She just needed to mix that potion and deliver it properly, then sit back and enjoy the embarrassing show. Nothing wrong with a tiny prank, right?

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The Alchemical Room, located in the lower floors of the west wing, was more active than usual the following afternoon.

Among its many shelves filled with glass containers, the few of the surviving magi worked, busy trying to create more potent elixirs and potions to help Gudao or some of his servants. Mixing stations and other tables filled with utensils were placed on the opposite side of the room from the entrance. Unlike most of Chaldea but similar to the rest of the Magecraft wing, the room lacked many decorations and was constructed with utility and purpose above all else. It was this design that Medea was currently thankful for as she zipped around the room quickly gathering more ingredients for her prank potion.

The princess glanced at her measurements once more before adding another set of ingredients to a small mortar in front of her. Many times Medea overheard some pieces of conversations involving Merlin's various pranks on the King of Knights, so she was likely to be wary at any signs of tampering to anything. She would have to use her superior skill to make her potion tasteless, while still retaining enough potency to bypass her high Magic Resistance. It was a very difficult task, but easy for a caster born from the Age of the Gods. It is with this thought that Medea smiled as she grounded the ingredients of a love potion with the pestle.

Tomorrow was a certain little blonde's birthday, and she was going to ensure it was one she wouldn't soon forget for multiple reasons.

Medea's calculations were on point as she paused from grinding to mentally check the parameters of her concoction. While creating a potion that would make a person fall in love was easy, most had an obvious taste to them. Therefore it was better, for stealth's sake, that the caster used a vague mix that compelled the consumer to act on current emotions to an exaggerated degree.

It had the drawback of needing to be applied at exactly the right moment of the targeted emotion, but she was sure she could manage a plan for that in the next few hours.

At best it would only last a few minutes, but that was more than enough time for the potion to make the King of Knights do something romantically embarrassing with a certain lancer. All she had to do was cast a faint suggestion spell, not perceptible thanks to her skill, to harmlessly turn the saber's thoughts towards her companion before she drank. The delivery method didn't really matter since Arturia tended to eat and drink a lot of food variety anyway. Medea would only have to pick what is most convenient.

"Figured I'd find you here," a male voice came from behind her accompanied by approaching footsteps. Medea turned to look at a man wrapped in an elegant, white cloth that resembled a mix between a robe and formal magus clothing.

The sleeves were loose and waved at his sides, golden stripes lining the edges. Black, finger-less gloves reached from his hands to under his sleeves. An intricate design ran along the outer, upper arms of his coat and onto his shoulders, with gold trim decorating the epaulets. A purple cross marked the front, with similarly covered diamonds decorating lines that stretched from the cut seams. Black formal pants and shoes covered his legs, a contrast to the battle attire that normally decorated his lower half.

Golden eyes gazed at his fellow servant as Medea turned her body to face him. "Aren't you on the training deployment today, Paracelsus?"

"Master decided to move my training for another time," He responded simply with a small smile and wave of his hand.

Paracelsus von Hohenheim was one of the first servants Gudao had summoned to Chaldea, but also one of the few to not participate in battles unless absolutely necessary. The servant was surprised that Gudao would let him sit out, since he disliked combat, and in return he was placed in charge of the Alchemical Room where he would usually be found crafting new elixirs for the teams. His training sessions were mainly for team practice and tactic familiarization.

"However," He began as he eyed a curious Medea, "shouldn't you be in the deployment room? They'll be ray shifting within the next twenty minutes."

The female caster's eyes widened slightly. "What do you mean? I'm not supposed to-"

Paracelsus sighed. "I told him he shouldn't have trusted Blackbeard with message delivery, wherever he is now. Yes. You're going with Gudao and the training team instead."

Medea mentally cursed Blackbeard as she turned back to her partially finished potion. She wasn't going to have time to finish it properly by tomorrow now that she had training, and she was going to play some card games with Naomi and Vlad after dinner. She could apply it another day, but that wouldn't be fun. The only way to finish it was to-

But Paracelsus was also an alchemist, and he'd know exactly what she was making if she told him the remaining ingredients.

There was no way she could lie to him about what it is, but she could definitely make him think it was for a different purpose. He would trust her without a doubt on that considering they were often working together when they were in this room at the same time. She couldn't trust one of these modern mages with getting this intricate potion finished correctly, and they were likely to talk about it and blow her cover. All that would be left to do was apologize to him later for deceiving him into helping her with a prank after her plan came to fruition.

"If I may, can you complete my potion for me? I need it done for Arturia's birthday tomorrow but I won't have time now."

Paracelsus nodded. "Sure. What kind is it?"

'Here goes nothing,' she thought. "It's a form of emotion boosting elixir. I made it tasteless so the consumer won't know they've had it. I saw Arturia moping around on occasion so I thought she should enjoy a happy birthday tomorrow."

Paracelsus paused and her heart skipped a beat in anticipation until he smiled. "That's very thoughtful of you, Medea."

A little lie can still go a long way.

Medea smiled and nodded. The princess searched around quickly for an unused pencil and parchment and brought them over to her table. She began writing down the full ingredients list as fast as she could, then made a small check next to everything that's been added and completed.

"This is all that remains," She stated as she handed him the parchment, which he quickly glanced over and mentally confirmed she didn't deceive him.

"Pretty easy one for our skill levels. Good luck with the mission, I'll have this ready for when you return," He smiled as he patted her on the shoulder.

"Thank you!" Medea smiled as she quickly made her way towards the door. The male alchemist turned to the concoction then rechecked the list. Placing the parchment down, he whistled and looked towards a nearby shelf as a small Chaldean Magus appeared from around the corner. The brunette haired woman had glasses that framed teal eyes, with her face giving away an age that would demand she be placed back into middle school. Regardless of her young age, there was a specific reason the former director found her worthy to be added to the organization, one that Paracelsus soon took a liking to as well.

"You called, sir?" His apprentice chirped.

"Janice, I think this is a good time to put your genius-grade skills to another test. I want to see how far you've come with my training."

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Fifteen minutes later, Janice was happily finishing up with Medea's Elixir under Paracelsus' supervision.

She had done everything perfectly using just the ingredients and proper timing, asking her mentor before adding specific measurements just to ensure her insight was correct based on the volume of the container and current ingredient combination. To his delight, she was spot on as always, the perfect prodigy of Alchemy in the modern age. She would likely become one of the top mages of this time in potion crafting just based solely on her skills, let alone her high grade magic crest, if it wasn't for one simple drawback that made the male caster supervise her every move.

Janice tended to be unbelievably clumsy at the worst times, and that is an atrocious habit to have in Alchemy.

"Final ingredients now," He stated simply as he watched from a few feet to her left. Janice reached for some ingredients on a low hanging shelf near the top of the flask she currently had boiling over a flame.

One vial wiggled precariously, causing the male caster to tense until it steadied itself. She measured the correct amount of a specific herb and showed it to her mentor who nodded. Dropping in the ingredient to be boiled, she watched as they dissolved in a cloud of tiny bubbles within the clear colored mixture within the glass container. She reached for the next ingredient container, this one holding the shredded remains of a root fro-

The door to the Alchemical Room was wrenched open with an audible screech. Janice almost dropped the container had Paracelsus not caught it as it hovered over the potion's flask. The pair looked towards the sound of heavy footfalls as a large, half-naked servant peered into the room, drawing the attention of everyone else within.

His grayish skin and bulging muscles gave away his identity to those in Chaldea upon first glance. The servant's neutral gray armor was more akin to straps and side skirts, with only a gauntlet on his left arm and leather gloved forming any reasonable protection besides his face guard. Blonde haired fell around his head and reached to his shoulders, framing an eerie smile and blue eyes. Paracelsus rolled his eyes as he noticed the servant's large hand gripping the automatic door.

"Come with me, Janice," He stated as he began approaching the servant in question. "Spartacus. Stop prying open automatic doors. You've broken two the past month already. Gudao has also stated many times you're not supposed to be in this room."

"You speak of oppression, Paracelsus! I am not even in the room as Master has said so!" The berserker bellowed into the room, causing several mages to cringe. While he was leaning into the room, technically he still stood outside.

One particular mage with long black hair and maroon eyes lost interest in the scene, and instead took the distraction to slowly sneak towards the concoction Janice was helping her mentor create. The particular mage was always a little jealous at the pre-teen's capabilities, and even more so at the amount of attention she took from the servant. He'd worked more years than her to get his craft going, and this prodigy comes out of nowhere and takes more glory in a few months than he could in a decade.

Thus he quickly tampered with the potion while the two were distracted with the loud berserker, looking over the ingredients list swiftly and choosing two at random. Adding a new ingredient may cause serious consequences of a violent nature, but increasing a few of the more mundane ones should be fine enough to ruin the potion's final effect. It was a shame the man didn't realize this was no mere elixir, but a concoction from the Age of Gods, lest he would have realized adding more of any of the ingredients would exponentially increase a desired outcome.

A little tampering can go a long way.

Oblivious to what he had done, he quickly made his way back to his isolated work station as Spartacus removed himself from the doorway as it slid closed, thankfully not damaged, and the pair began their walk towards the tampered but still clear potion. He chuckled to himself lightly at the thought of sticking one to that damn student of his.

"Now, where were we...?"

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Paracelsus examined one of the vials of the potion his student so perfectly crafted with a smile as he walked down the hallway. Janice had created her first potion that required a very high skill level not found in the modern era. She truly was a prodigy, and she would continue to bloom if the male caster had any say in it. He would keep it hidden from Medea that he didn't finish the potion personally, but supervising still counts doesn't it? In case she required more, there were several extras in a small leather pouch that he would deliver to the mailbox outside her room.

Thoughts aside, he pocketed the small vial as he walked into the cafeteria to see if there were any leftover snacks from lunch.

Upon entering, he spotted the unknowing recipient of the potion sitting alone at a table with an empty cup in front of her. She wore a blue strapless dress complete with gold trim and matching white throw-over sweater. The blonde looked up and met the inquisitive eyes of the caster as he made his way towards her, the only other servant in the room. The cafeteria was empty save for them and the few robots cleaning the surrounding tables, avoiding the one the King of Knights sat at out of courtesy for a customer.

"Still here and alone, Arturia? Lunch ended an hour ago," Paracelsus stated curiously.

"I just wanted to enjoy one final milkshake. Jeanne was accompanying me, but she went to the bathroom to help Marie with makeup," she stated as she stared at the empty cup in front of her. The male caster caught the small glimpse of a sour thought process in her eyes. In that one moment, he got an idea. 'No harm in a test run.'

"Would you like me to get you another?" He asked politely. Her eyes lit up as she smiled softly. Answer received.

Paracelsus smiled as he walked towards the self-service stations as he pulled out the small vial from his pocket. As he was about to gain the attention of a robot, the double doors to the kitchen swung open to reveal Emiya wearing his chef uniform. Their eyes met.

"Paracelsus. What can I do for you?"

"Arturia would like another milkshake, if you don't mind that is."

Emiya chuckled. "Of course she would."

Before he could respond, Emiya had retreated into the kitchen and came back with a readily made milkshake only moments later. It was another glass complete with whipped cream and a cherry on top. The male caster raised an eyebrow an-

"Before you ask, I just know," He chuckled as the male caster took the item in question and nodded. "But, I have to ask. What're you planning to do with that vial?"

Emiya's knowing eyes were locked onto the vial concealed in Paracelsus' left hand; One doesn't simply hide items from the keen eyes of an archer. Looking down to the offending appendage and back up to meet the Archer's stern gaze, he knew he had to come out honestly lest he look suspicious.

"It's a potion I made that stops negative emotions and replaces them with happier ones. I figured Arturia should have a very happy birthday tomorrow after what she's gone through in her life, and I wanted to test it out now since she seemed a little depressed for some reason," he calmly explained.

Emiya nodded and smiled lightly. "If it was anyone else I would have stopped them, but you've always helped us on the field with your elixirs. I don't see a reason not to trust your concoctions now. Thanks for doing this for her, she really does deserve happiness."

A little lie can still go a long way.

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Arturia stared at her milkshake with a suddenly uplifted mood. She was disheartened that Jeanne and Emiya were likely to be working on her birthday; The young king would have loved to spend the day with them. It was only after Paracelsus gave her the new milkshake that her spirits lifted higher than usual, though whether it was because of the nice gesture or powerful suggestion magecraft was something else entirely. Whatever the case, she was smiling again when Jeanne had returned.

"Food cures everything for you, doesn't it?" Jeanne laughed as she sat down next to her friend.

"Emiya's cooking especially," she replied as she played with the cherry on top. She noticed some of the whip cream on a side looked... displaced, but she ignored it. Arturia took the spoon out of the cup. She raised the glass to her mouth and began drinking, letting the perfectly crafted sweet tickle her taste buds. For a split moment she thought she tasted something else, something much more foul, but it soon disappeared. Her thoughts on the strange occurrence left her as more of the delicious liquid distracted her min-

"Yo Arturia!"

A male voice called from one of the cafeteria's entrances, causing both of the girls to turn only for the source to start laughing. "Geez, I know you hate being called clones but you don't both have to turn at her name! I mean, unless you are clones."

Jeanne pouted as she fiddled with the hem of her blue sundress. "That's not funny, Cu. You know Arturia doesn't appreciate those jokes!"

Cu raised both of his hands in surrender before brushing a sleeve on his Hawaiian shirt. "Yea, yea. It is obvious where the jokes come from though. So before you kill me with your glares, I just wanted to say Diarmuid was looking for you. He's currently with Scathach and Fionn at the Party Cave."

With that, the blue haired lancer ducked back out of the cafeteria. Jeanne sighed and shook her head before turning to look at Arturia, who was glaring at her drink as she downed the rest of it quickly. She put the empty glass down harshly and folded her arms, causing the saint to raise an eyebrow curiously; The King of Knights never let her emotions take control of her like this.

"I guess it's really getting to you these days. I understand, it's annoying for me too," Jeanne sighed as Arturia got up quickly. "I'll see you at dinner, okay? I'll make sure tomorrow's singing is extra wonderful for my dear friend!"

Without saying anything in return, Arturia stormed towards a doorway exiting the cafeteria with clenched fists. Jeanne, eyes widened in shock, watched her friend's mood plummet dramatically as she left, something no one has seen from the great King Arthur before.

The door slammed shut behind Arturia, and she turned in the opposite direction from the Party Cave; She currently had no intention of seeing Diarmuid. There were much more pressing concerns to be addressed. The wave of atrocities that has swept through Chaldea, mocking both her looks and her name needed to be answered, and it would be resolved with justice if she had anything to say about it.

It had gone on long enough, with these people who would dare joke about some simple similarities. However, it was apparent to her that asking them to stop several times would never stop the wave of insults... So she suddenly had the greatest idea she ever had to deal with the Arturia-faced identity problem and jokes. She continued her march back to her room to get what she needed.

The King of Knights will have to deal with the clones herself, by any means necessary.

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It was a year after the initial construction of Chaldea that many of the non-magus employees demanded there be a universal place of worship.

While the arguments for and against religion could go on for eons, it was near unanimous that those who worked so hard for the future of humanity be given a small, pious sanctuary. This room was adequate enough for large groups with flexible furniture such as pews, candle holders, altars, podiums, and mats for different religions. It had the same design as the rest of Chaldea, save for two wooden double doors that replaced the classic sliding design. It was far from a high quality place of worship, but this dedicated sanctuary room served its purpose well enough.

It was here that Jeanne was silently praying in one of the front pews, the light from the hanging chandelier basking her in an almost ethereal glow. Her lips moved quietly as she softly went through her small routine. She had just finished helping set the pews up for tomorrow's sermon. It wasn't often that she would pray in the middle of the day with other tasks or hobbies to occupy her, but she resolved to ask the lord for some good fortune for her currently troubled friend. While this was a common place for her to be found throughout the week, her two companions practically lived in the room.

At the altar stood one of her friends, quietly leading through the bible in preparation for a prayer service the next morning. His white hair was spiked high, with two high cropped bangs framing the top of his forehead. The man's red cape lay on a chair near the altar, choosing instead to wear a standard, black priest outfit of the Catholic Church. His golden eyes glanced each passage, marking certain ones for relevant use with lightly tanned hands.

Behind him moved the second companion, her fair skinned hands swiftly and carefully setting up candle holders and moving the Buddhist pieces to their proper places in hidden backrooms. As she reappeared from behind a small curtain to the left, she swept a bang of her long purple hair behind her shoulder. Her teal eyes darted across the room, checking to make sure everything was in place for tomorrow. The female wore a very modest, white high waist dress that some would joke was more concealing then her battle attire could ever hope to be.

Two matching colored heels clacked lightly against the ground as she walked next to her male friend. "I believe we're set. I'll have the Eucharist brought out tomorrow morning."

"Thank you, Martha," He smiled back and nodded before turning back to the bible. "I'll just need a few more minutes to finish."

"Amakusa, would you like me to lock up after you two leave?" Jeanne inquired.

"If you would be so gracious, Jeanne," the man smiled once more.

Upon learning that Shirou Amakusa was in Chaldea, Jeanne had mixed feelings. Their last known memory was not a friendly one, though she was surprised and relieved upon finding out he was more than ready to mend the bridge as a current ally and fellow Catholic of sorts; Saint George helped too. Any reservations she had in her first month within Chaldea were removed and the quartet had become the heads in leading worship for the small group of Catholics in the organization.

For Jeanne, mending a bridge and working together to give proper thanks to their lord was a nice way to pass the time. Upon hearing of one attempt of turning on their master, her doubt would have been revitalized if not for the fact he was the one who informed her; It appears he really was trying to walk a new path. With the last of her doubts now subdued, she took every chance to show her appreciation for their friendship as opposed to their previous antagonism.

Jeanne found she helped to bring out Martha's less 'refined' side that few knew. While it is embarrassing enough for Martha to apologize every time it manifested, the ruler ignored it when in animated conversation with the fellow saint. They had quickly become friends thanks to their time in the French Singularity, though one would argue it was difficult not to become at least good acquaintances with the Maid of Orleans due to her bright disposition. The saint could hardly figure out if anyone in Chaldea actually had any negative feeling towards th-

The double doors of the sanctuary swung open viciously. With a loud crack, the stopped as they slammed into the walls, and instantly garnering the attention of the three servants. The chapel fell quieter. Their eyes widened, and several brows were raised, as they took in the familiar servant before them.

Long, blonde hair was tied into a ponytail with familiar bangs and ahoge peeking out of a black baseball cap. A blue jacket with golden trim covered her torso and arms, with black short-shorts revealing her legs. Two black combat boots protected her feet and lower calves, the muscles partially concealed by the footwear were tensed in preparation for instant movement. A long blue scarf with golden trim was wrapped around her neck, flowing behind her casually. What was most interesting was the swirl of blue that colored her glaring eyes, and the clenched fists that held onto Excalibur.

"Arty?" Jeanne stated with much concern in her voice as she stood up to face her friend. "What happened to your eyes?"

Before she could approach her friend, the saber grit her teeth and dashed swiftly towards the Maid of Orleans, bringing Excalibur down in a chopping motion. Jeanne, in total shock, back pedaled and panicked as her friend's weapo-

Arturia shifted her movements, and swung in quick precision to shatter three black keys that had been thrown to intercept. She back flipped as another pair flew towards her, smashing them to pieces as well. After back flipping and landing, she glared towards her interruption. Jeanne looked to her side as Amakusa casually took his place between the two servants, cautiously analyzing the saber in front of him. Six black keys materialized in his hands and he took a fighting posture, his right hand tensing to throw at a moment's notice.

"Stay back, Jeanne. Something is wrong with Arturia," Amakusa stated calmly as Martha ran up beside him, her cross-like staff materializing in her hands.

"What do you think you're doing, King of Knights?" Martha yelled. "You know that figh-"

"There is a plague," Arturia stated calmly, startling the trio. "I am the cure. I am justice."

"What are you talking about? Explain yourself this instant!" Amakusa demanded.

"Too long has it been allowed that Saber-faced jokes and teases be thrown so casually. It must end. To do so, I will become the only one! I must eliminate the other clones!" The crazed Arturia yelled, the blue swirls in her eyes causing her pupils to glow faintly. Excalibur began to glow.

Jeanne's eyes widened. "They're just jokes, Arturia! You're going to strike me ov-"

"Enough!" She yelled as she dashed forward with a swift step. Six black keys detonated against Excalibur as she swiftly destroyed the projecti-

Only to be stopped by the combined efforts of Martha's staff and Amakusa's swiftly drawn katana. The two grit their teeth as they stared into the maelstrom of fury that was Arturia Pendragon. The male counterpart quickly turned to their partially stunned friend. "Run, Jeanne! Find help to subdue her! Something is seriously wrong!"

She wanted to stay. Jeanne desperately wanted to help her friends and figure out what was happening, but he was right. She was the target, and running would be a better answer. Without further hesitation, Jeanne materialized her flag and bolted for the door. Arturia turned to attempt to cut her off only to be met by a swift strike from the male catholic. She parried the slice to her left, only to have to dodge right as Martha's cross was thrusted from behind as Jeanne escaped.

Arturia growled in frustration. "Do not keep me from righting these wrongs!"

Amakusa grit his teeth. They had to hold back considerably or they could cause massive grief for the Furniture Department, and Engineering Division in general. He could only hope Arturia, in her crazed state, still had enough sanity to limit damage to the structure as well. He began planning a safe way to deal wi-

"My wish will not be denied!" The female saber yelled before a blinding flash from Excalibur engulfed the room. The ruler and rider covered their eyes as the flash peaked, before fading away to reveal Arturia had vanished. Sensing her spiritual signature chasing Jeanne, the male ruler mentally growled. He thought to make a run and set the alarm system off, but was instantly dismayed upon realizing it was under maintenance today.

Gritting his teeth, Amakusa turned to Martha. "We need to run for help immediately as well!"

"Yeah! You got it, Shir-" Martha coughed with a slight blush on her cheeks. "I mean... I understand!"

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ IX ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

Diarmuid was walking one of the many halls of Chaldea. Cu had informed him that Arturia was told he wanted to talk to her, but that was ten minutes ago. Usually she would promptly arrive when requested, but she failed to do so for the first time. The lancer had opted to leave his fellow Irish to their drinking so he could look for the particular saber, curiosity driving his steps. He'd have to apologize once more to the lancers about running out early on their drinking session, but he needed to get Arturia to appear at a certain place and time for him, Emiya, and Jeanne to surprise her tomorrow wit-

Speaking of Jeanne, wasn't that her running towards him in full sprint with her flag?

"Diarmuid!" The saint yelled as she came to a halt in front of him, fidgeting on her feet anxiously as she looked behind her. A few employees were running past the pair.

"Jeanne, calm down, what's happening?" The lancer stated as he tensed. His dual lances materialized in his hands upon recognition of another servant presence approaching rapidly from where the Maid of Orleans had appeared. It felt familiar, yet different... Had Chaldea been breached?

"It's Arturia! Something's wrong! She's trying to attack me!" She spat out quickly as her head snapped back at the approaching presence. Diarmuid's eyes widened in total shock. "Please! You have to help!"

Diarmuid swiftly pushed past her and crossed his lances in time to block a strike from Excalibur. He grit his teeth as his eyes widened even more as he gazed into the stormy blue eyes of his friend. The lancer had never seen his friend so angry before, nor her eyes so blue for that matter.

"Keep going, Jeanne! I'll hold her off!" Diarmuid yelled as he forced the saber back with a push before thrusting with Gae Buidhe to force her back further. He could hear the retreating footsteps of Jeanne behind him.

"Get out of my way, lancer!" The saber yelled in rage, making him mentally flinch. It had been a long time since she had used anything close to resembling hostile words with him, and that was from another war.

"What happened to you, Arturia!? Why are you acting like this!?" He yelled as he used Gae Dearg to deflect a slice from Excalibur that would have carved a large gash across his torso. Gritting his teeth, he deflected yet another strike.

"I am the strongest of sabers!" She declared as she struck with speed and ferocity not previously shown by the King of Knights. "I will prove this by defeating those unworthy and ending all form of mockery against me!"

"By killing our dear friend!?" Diarmuid spat out as he blocked a vicious attempt at his head with his lances. These were not sparring blows but full-fledged strikes. 'Something is definitely wrong with her. She would never do this.'

He was shaken from his thought from a swift flurry of strikes from Excalibur that came at blinding speed. The fighting style had also changed the situation dramatically as he struggled to prevent damage to the nearby walls and stop Arturia's advance.

Arturia's eyes steeled. "It is the only way left. Now. Out. of. My. Way!"

With astounding speed, without use of a prana burst, she dashed towards Diarmuid, making him raise his guard. In a split second reminiscent of their first fight, she twisted her body to throw off his aim and flew well past his guard. His eyes widened as he turned towards his fleeing adversary and began a hasty pursuit.

'I can't let her get to Jeanne!'

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ X ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

The afflicted saber's eyes narrowed. 'She's stopped running.'

Arturia dashed through the hallways gaining distance from the lancer, occasionally bowling over an employee or robot that got in the way as she continued her search. She carefully felt for the presence of nearby servants in the facility. The magecraft-laced walls made it harder to detect other servants from a distance, but with her current speed she deducted she should be near her target. Not paying attention to her current location, she continued scanning for potential signatures that were nearb-

She sensed two presences nearby that were stationary. One was roughly around the center of a large room, making occasional movements, but it was the second one that remained perfectly still that caught her suspicion. Its presence was incredibly faint, almost at the assassin level of concealment, but she found she could surprisingly detect its trace. This one was obviously trying to hide, and due to its proximity and direction of travel for the saber, she quickly assumed she found her target.

Pumping prana into her legs and into Excalibur, Arturia grit her teeth and dashed directly towards the end of the hallway where the offending wall that concealed the target stood strong.

Employees yelped and jumped out of the way in a hurry as the saber obliterated the wall in a single strike, taking out the small nook the servant was hiding in. Its enclosing walls crumbled with a cloud of smoke and flicker of lights as a new pathway between the hallway and large room was forged from the ruins. Screams echoed through the room with the sound of retreating footsteps. Standing proudly and resolutely above the debris of the walls, Arturia reached down beneath her to pluck the offending servant from the rubble, pulling her target out of the-

Her eyes widened at the sight of rough, shaggy black hair and matching beard tied with some rope. The man wore blue jeans and a white shirt that had a few game controllers making an intricate design on the front. A special cloth that acted as a presence concealing shield lay in tatters underneath the debris near his bare feet. Besides some gashes in the shirt and light scratches, the man was obviously fine, save for the half shocked, half angry look in his sharp, black pupils.

"Hey! I searched hard for that cloak!" The servant yelled at the partially stunned saber.

"You are not my target," She stated plainly as the King of Knights shoved the servant far into the larger room before passing glances down both ends of the split hallway. She had to pick quick as she sensed a certain lancer searching nearby. Choosing one of them based on her instinct, she quickly dashed down the corridor. The servant, left in a slowly disappearing cloud of dust, slowly froze at the aura of malice that emanated from the servant behind him.

He didn't need to turn back to recognize the servant in question, who glared vicious daggers into the back of her fellow pirate. Behind her, a few female employees were staring through a door to a nearby room, partially masked by the dissipating steam. The pink haired servant's only shield was a towel wrapped around her as the steam's veil began to clear, revealing the hot waters that filled the many bathes and central pool of the large room. Towel racks, showers, benches, and cleaning products made it very clear what room had been breached from the hallway, and revealed the intent of why the male servant was trying so hard to stay concealed.

'Ah shit. Well, I'm dead anyway so...'

"You have guts, Teach. But not for long," Drake growled out as she stared at the back of the male servant only a few feet away. Her feet were still enveloped by the warm waters of the central pool.

Blackbeard stood up and sighed before turning to face the angry servant. The female employees panicked as they ducked back behind the swinging doors to the nearby changing room. To her surprise, he had a straight face as he looked directly into her eyes and put his hands on his hips, definitely not the response she would expect for someone caught peeping. Their height difference was made very apparent as he stared down at her, though her fury made her seem significantly more threatening.

"I mean, can you blame me?" The man stated as he took two steps forward much to the surprise of the pirate. What came next was even more startling and knocked the anger straight out of the female pirate for a split second. She looked down towards Edward Teach's outstretched arms to find his hands softly cupping her breasts through the towel. He gently fondled the pair as he hummed to himself. The room froze over at Drake's overpowering icy glare.

"I mean, look at these cannons. These lovely twenty-four pounders. What a fine treasure. The true booty for raiding a British fleet. Just. Glorious." He stated calmly as he dropped his arms to his sides to look at the absolutely infuriated fellow rider in front of him. The male pirate smiled and let out a chuckle. "That was great! Did I really call you a hag back then? Sheesh- Oh don't look at me like that. You often say do whatever you want, right, Drake? Do what you want cause a pirate is free?"

A vicious growl was his only answer as she took a step forward, letting her blood lust pour from her eyes as she seethed at him.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 'Worth it.'

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XI ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

Diarmuid ignored the blood curdling screams that came in the direction of the public baths as he turned a corner to face the angry gaze of Arturia. He braced his lances as he quickly got into a fighting position. As he stared at her furious form he realized she wasn't looking at him. Deciding to break an important rule in combat, he quickly looked behind him to find the target of her gaze.

Further down the hallway, stood Okita in her standard, replicated hakama she sometimes wore around Chaldea. The loose, pink sleeves hung beneath her tensed arms as she gripped her katana. Determination filled her eyes as the blade of her weapon held without wavering as she approached, the hot pink lower garments fluttering lightly as she did.

Diarmuid turned back to meet Arturia's eyes, grateful that he wasn't punished for his recklessness in that one moment. It appears that everyone else is just an obstacle in comparison to her targets. But that didn't make sense since Jeanne wasn't in the vicinity, yet she still holds the same look when gazing upon her friend earli-

"...all forms of mockery..." The lancer's eyes widened upon realization as his head shot back towards the oblivious Okita.

"We will stop you here, Arturia! You will not get to the Holy Maiden!" Okita declared proudly as she continued her approach.

"Okita! Get back! You're one of her targets as well!" Diarmuid yelled out as he turned around upon recognition of a feral growl. He braced his lances as he dashed forward to intercept Arturia's dash, her flurry of strikes beginning once more as she tried to batter his guard. Behind him, Okita wore a startled expression as a male ruler bolted down the hallway from behind her to place himself between the Shinsengumi Captain and Diarmuid.

"You're not safe here, Okita!" Amakusa yelled as he took a fighting stance with his own katana.

"Out of my way, Diarmuid!" The lancer flinched internally at the venom used when she said his name.

"Warn the others! She's targeting anyone who looks like her and possibly other sabers! We can't let her get to any of them!" Diarmuid yelled as a slice from Excalibur nicked his cheek, drawing blood. He struck Gae Buidhe towards her arms in an attempt to disable her fighting capabilities, but her new found agility let her parry the attempts like child's play. "Run Okita! Amakusa, protect her and find Scathach!"

"Y-Yes! We will warn the others!" Okita yelled as she swiftly retreated down the hallway, her temporary bodyguard following suit.

Diarmuid bashed Arturia back with his lances and took the offense. Surprised at his sudden ferocity, the saber was being driven back as the lancer manipulated his weapons with skill and grace that helped make the first knight of Fianna famous. Her flurry of blows were met with graceful parries, swift strikes, and well-practiced feints. He was glad that in her crazed state, Arturia's moves seemed to have traded some skill and power for the increased agility, which he took advantage of now that he was familiar with it.

Now if only he could land a disabling strike.

A sudden spin attack from Arturia made Diarmuid dodge backwards as the wide horizontal slice gashed the surrounding walls. Using the newly acquired space, she tried to dash through his broken guard to pursue her target only to be intercepted by the lancer who predicted the maneuver. She grit her teeth as she dodged backwards, away from a strike aimed for her right wrist with a certain golden lance.

She growled and turned around, bolting down the hallway with speed in an attempt to find another target or route. Diarmuid cursed under his breath, then swiftly chased after his friend.

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XII ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

Paracelsus was working frantically in the Alchemy Room, Janice moving quickly back and forth between shelves as carefully as she could to bring him the necessary ingredient for an antidote. Something had happened to the mixture that increased its potency and duration, and he was partially at fault for letting Arturia consume a corrupted concoction. Mentally cursing himself while trying to find a reason why, he skillfully prepared an antidote. What could have gone wrong? When could it have ha-

Spartacus' interruption.

They had left the potion unattended. Mages were particularly jealous and scornful people. If there was a secret rival that had enough envy, a mix could easily be tainted for one's personal satisfaction. While he would not have any rivals of the sort considering he was idolized by the other alchemists, that left Medea and Janice. It was doubtful anyone would dare attempt to cross the Princess of Colchis. There had to be a secret rival of Janice's who wanted to see the prodigy fail, and he would find out who it was one way or another.

But the antidote came first.

"How much longer?" Martha asked from behind him, staring at the elixir sitting over a cooling stand.

"Almost ready. It's a splash potion so it doesn't need to be consumed. I'll need to deliver it myself to be sure, however. Let us hope the others are holding her off fine with the limitations they're under," He explained as he stirred the mix.

The doors to the room slid open and Martha took a fighting stance before slowly lowering it upon seeing Emiya. He had his usual skin tight, black and red battle attire and his white hair was slicked back properly. Gone was his friendly smile, replaced with the cold stare and determined grit he was known for on the field. In his hands were Kanshou and Bakuya, gripped with angry fists. Paracelsus met his glare with an even stare of his own, knowing full well he had helped make a grave mistake.

"It appears my trust was misplaced," The archer stated evenly, with an underlying current of disappointment and anger laced in his otherwise smooth words.

"I am one of those at fault. The antidote is almost ready. I will explain the rest when we are less pressed for time and I have righted this wrong," He stated evenly as he took the flask of liquid off of the cooler.

"And how do we know you aren't accidentally pouring more gas onto the fire?" The archer scoffed.

"Please, Emiya, you had no reason to doubt me before this, do not now," The caster stated in his attempts to-

"You gave me reason to, caster," Emiya retorted coldly.

The two servants stood glaring at each other. The tension could be cut with either of Emiya's blades. Martha watched the stalemate tentatively, unsure of getting herself involved. Only the saint turned when the doors opened once more and Gabrielle strolled through the doors, her arms crossed and her Magecraft uniform in pristine order. She sighed at the sight before her, guessing the exact problem instantly. Golden eyes scrutinized the two arguing servants.

"We don't have time for this! Arturia needs to be cured immediately, Emiya," She explained, eyeing the archer coolly as he turned his harsh gaze towards the orange haired employee. "I informed Roman to get Gudao to return, but because time is of the essence, that is Plan B. I have Plan A ready to roll, so if you aren't going to trust Paracelsus, then place your trust in me!"

Gabrielle finished her approach and gave a small smile and nod towards Martha. "Thank you for telling him to get working on the antidote. I had other servants to round up."

"You're welcome," Martha replied with a small nod of her own.

It was hard to perceive, but Paracelsus raised his eyebrows at the Magecraft employee. There were often jokes and choice comments thrown towards the outgoing mage, but they were equaled by the praise of having some guts and leadership skills of a promising level. He had figured a loose plan was forming among the servants when Martha informed him of the situation, but for Gabrielle to have been revealed as the mastermind was unexpected. The caster could suddenly see why she has earned the respect of many servants.

Emiya's gaze did not wither. "You best hope it works, Miss Rutherford. Saber deserves far better than this."

"It will so long as you don't mind lending me your strength," She stated simply, and after a few seconds pause was met with a small nod from the archer. "Great, thank you! Please meet us at the ambush point when the antidote is ready, Paracelsus. I need to find Diarmuid. Emiya, can you head to..."

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XIII ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

Arturia glared past the blockade of servants that blocked the hallway in front of her to a certain Roman clone behind them. Nero glared back with Jeanne close behind her, eyeing her friend warily behind the wall of lancer class servants. Diarmuid had engaged Arturia in time for the makeshift wall to form, joining in the ranks to fill in the missing gap. His companions to his sides all wore their standard battle attires, a rainbow of different colors forming an aegis for the two Arturia-faced servants behind them.

A blonde haired lancer with long hair and silver armor stood poised to his left, his green eyes glaring at the King of Knights. White cloth and blue armor pieces accented certain parts of his war gear. To his far right was a female with long maroon hair and determined red eyes, gripping a red spear visually similar to Cu Chulainn's. Her maroon body tights hugged her tightly, leaving little to the imagination with only two silver shoulder pauldrons for armor. Black, reinforced cloth woven onto the tights covered some of her more exotic regions from lustful eyes, though barely.

In the direct center with Diarmuid was a mostly naked lancer, save for a leather brief that covered his private region. A red cape flowed behind him, matching similarly colored lines that wrapped around parts of his exposed, bulging muscles. A golden shield and Greek helmet accompanied a sturdy, bronze spear. The shield was faced forward with the spear poised to thrust at a moment's notice. The servant's eyes glared at his target through the dark slits in the helmet.

Behind the line of lancers, forming a final line of defense, stood Altera with her sword poised to strike in defense of her Roman friend. She looked determined, yet a little uneasy. Her gaze shifted between Arturia and the sword before her. Still, she held firm, though her nerves were wary. She did not like the sight of Excalibur, but she didn't know why.

"You march no further, King of Knights. We hold this pass," The half-naked lancer declared.

"You will not keep me from destroying that which has brought so much grief!" She retorted and thrust an accusing finger towards the two servants behind them.

Nero glared back. "They were just jokes, Arturia! Grow a backbone already!"

"Then grow a face that doesn't mock my own!" She yelled back. "You copy my clothing. My class. My hair. My face! How dare you!"

"You were born after me, clearly you copied me!" Nero yelled back tauntingly with a smirk on her face. "Or are you just jealous of my lovely bosom?"

"Empress Nero, please don't make this worse!" The blonde haired lancer yelled, throwing a quick glance behind her.

"She started it! I always finish negotiations like a proper empress!"

"Then finish it with your ugly mug at the end of my sword, Red Saber!" Arturia yelled in anger.

"...What did you just say to me?" Nero asked in a whisper.

"You're nothing compared to me, you ugly empress! I am the best saber! Therefore I am also the most beautiful and the best leader! You are nothing before the greatest! So allow yourself to fall to my blade and end this quickly, you sorry excuse of a clone, so I may move on to the next target beside you! And take your terrible art and ear cringing singing with your fall!"

There was silence at the audacity of Arturia's claim. Some stared back with surprise and concern over the effect of the influence she was under. Others stared back with anger and determination to fix the real problem. But it was neither clashing weapons nor retorts that broke the silence.

It was a lone sniffle.

"M...My ar- My voice is... How dare you!" Nero sputtered before she began wailing, much to the surprise of most of the servants present. Jeanne quickly moved to try and calm the crying empress as she bawled, with Altera passing a glance of sad concern to her friend. It was replaced with fury when she turned back to the King of Knights.

Blue, storm filled eyes grew angrier at the sight, with Excalibur igniting with power that gusted down the hallway. "True sabers do not cry to such petty insults! You will fall here!"

"I, King Leonidas, will meet your charge, saber!" The half-naked lancer roared proudly as he bashed the shaft of his spear against the shield. "Spartans! Prepare for glory!"

He was met with incredulous looks from the Irish lancers around him.

"Fionn, Leonidas, Diarmuid. We just need to stall a bit longer," Scathach ordered calmly, reasserting control over the situation. The tension of the standoff was threatening to explode in the next instant, and she would not allow that to happen.

"Did Gabrielle say for what exactly?" Altera asked while concealing the anger, and remaining nervousness, from her voice.

"Arturia!" The entire group of servants looked past Arturia to spot the source of the outcry.

The corrupted saber turned to meet a comical sight further down the hallway, wearing a familiar blue skirt with black leggings and white blouse. Blonde hair was tied into an also familiar bun with a special strand sticking from the top of his head. The most bizarre piece of the sight was a lone mask that covered his face that looked like a copy of Arturia's. Judging by the rapier in the obviously fake saber's hands, it was clearly D'Eon. Several of the lancers kept their incredulous looks from before.

"This is her master plan?" Scathach asked with a dumbstruck tone, finally breaking her usual composure. She would have a word or ten with her orange-haired friend after this.

Diarmuid sighed. "There's no way that's going to wo-"

"What!? Another Same-faced clone!?" Arturia cried out as she dashed down the hallway towards D'Eon. "Identify yourself and perish, fiend!"

"...I don't know anymore," Diarmuid groaned in complete exasperation, but internal relief that the plan seemed to be working as D'Eon disappeared further down the hallway with an angry Arturia in pursuit.

"Scathach! Diarmuid!"

The lancer turned around with several others to find Gabrielle running towards them her side ponytail flailing above her shoulder. "We're going to need your help for the next part."

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XIV ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

To Arturia's frustration, D'Eon proved to be a skilled swordsman who swiftly parried all her strikes while making a run through the now empty hallways. They had been making turn after turn, shooting down staircases and then up others as the effeminate Frenchman seemed to be leading her in random directions. Thankfully the absurd ruse had yet to fail as Arturia's blinding rage forced her to chase the 'clone' that stayed within striking distance. The maddening chase seemed to draw to a close when the Arturia look-alike sped up down a straight hallway towards a blinding light at the end.

Prana flooded the King's legs as she used a burst to shoot down the hallway after the saber, following him out the door and into the surrounding snowy mountains. To the crazed saber's satisfaction, the target kept within visual distance as they bounded further and further away from the structure. Sensing something was amiss, the King of Knights bolted towards her target to end the chase quickly, closing distance as D'Eon crested a saddle and leapt towards a familiar, circular clearing.

'You want your end in the battleground, eh?' Arturia thought as she grit her teeth, using another Prana burst to close the final distance towards D'Eon, clearing the raised walkway in a single vault and swinging Excalibur down to stri-

Her eyes widened as she used a mid-air emergency burst to fling herself backwards. Red projectiles penetrated the ground in front of her, tearing up snow. She dodged backwards quickly as the rain of swift, red projectiles followed her path, inching closer with every mom-

She dashed left as the rain of arrows turned to follow her. Gritting her teeth and sensing the source of the incoming fire, she looked towards a nearby mountain top to-


She had raised Excalibur instantly to parry a flanking strike from a red spear. In an instant the user appeared from the opposite flank, sending a horizontal strike to her legs which she quickly blocked before he re-positioned behind her in a split second. The lance was spun as its user thrust towards the saber, forcing her to dodge through the incoming rain of arrows. Swinging Excalibur furiously, she managed to deflect several incoming projectiles, taking only minor tears in her clothing, as she landed safely on the other side.

The incoming fire stopped as the glow of Gae Bolg appeared through the cloud of debris sent aloft by the bombardment. Arturia glared at the offending servant as he cleared the debris cloud, casually strolling forward. Cu Chulainn stopped and took a fighting stance, angling Gae Bolg towards the ground as he grinned at the King of Knights.

"No hard feelings, Arturia. But this needs to end. Let's just consider it a fun spar, how about it? I always like those."

"Chaldea is plagued by mockeries of my very existence!"

"I wouldn't really say plagued," He shrugged. "Were the jokes really that bad? I could stop after this is over."

"I don't believe you, villain! I am the hero that will save Chaldea fro-"

She dodged right as a powerful arrow penetrated the ground where she stood, detonated the earth, and sent snow flying. Arturia glared towards the red-clad archer on the mountaintop, his expression tense as he held another arrow knocked on his jet-black bow.

"Less talking, dog," Emiya growled in frustration, making the blue haired lancer glare back towards him. "I don't want this delayed any further."

"Your cooking is the only thing that gives you any of my time, bastard."

Arturia dodged back and growled as more arrows penetrated the ground in front of her, sending her airborne. She swiftly parried a blow from Cu who had followed her flight path with a thrust. As they landed, Cu rapidly began engaging the saber as she furiously swung Excalibur to disengage from th-

She ducked backwards as an arrow sliced through the air were her torso wa-


Excalibur impacted a rapier as Arturia swiftly dodged backwards and eyed D'Eon with a glare, the mask now gone and replaced with his usual determined look. 'Three against one, huh? A fitting fight for the best saber.'

"I will defeat you and carry on with my mission!"

An arrow was deflected as she rapidly swung Excalibur to meet the swift blows from D'Eon and Cu. She jumped to dodge a sweep from the red lance as she back-flipped over a slice from D'Eon, sending a chop down towards the opposing saber which was swiftly blocked by a parry from the rapier. She dodged away from the incoming riposte, turning her body to intercept an arrow from Emiya as another grazed her side. It sliced through her jacket and drew some blood.

Arturia winced as she glared towards her friend, pumping a large amount of prana into her legs before jetting towards him at blinding speed. She grit her teeth in frustration as she swung Excalibur to block incoming arrows. She brought the blade down harshly and releasing built up prana.

Emiya casually jumped as his perch exploded where he once stood, his maneuver sending him towards the battlefield. He swiftly traced a unique arrow with a spiraled tip, firing the projectile into the peak near Arturia causing it to explode with considerably more smoke than usual. As his bow de-materialized it was replaced by his favorite blades. He threw both in a wide arc before tracing a new pair, hearing when his friend shattered the two thrown blades in the smoke cloud before landing next to a readied Cu and D'Eon.

"Get another firing perch, bastard. Too many in close comba-"

"Good grief. I said less talking."

"You've gotta be- You need to get your smug ass back out of range, now!"

"I don't see any command seals on your hand."

The lancer threw a glare and growled at the red arche- He dashed towards Emiya.

The red lance swung up and deflected a blow from Arturia aimed at the archer, the dash coming far faster than the three servants had expected. Without missing a beat, Kanshou and Bakyua were swiftly swung in graceful arcs, aiming for the clenched knuckl-

A swift burst of invisible air knocked the pair away from the crazed saber as she used the energy to bound herself backwards. She grit her teeth as she swung Excalibur to the side, parrying a follow up strike from D'Eon. With rapid speed and precision, D'Eon delivered a bombardment of thrusts towards the airborne saber, with most being blocked by the golden sword while the rest tore her jacket, revealing the white shirt underneath.

Arturia landed and swung horizontally at D'Eon who ducked underneath and thrust once more, forcing the King to dodge backwards again, pouring lots of prana into her blade as she deflected an incoming twin strike from the red archer, his blades shattering upon impact. Two new ones quickly formed in his hands as he swiftly struck in dual wielding precision, which she deftly blocked before he leapt backwards to gain distance. Tensing her legs to pursue an-

She swiftly brought her blade behind her to stop a swing from Gae Bolg before dashing forward to clear herself from a whirling follow up strike.

The saber was intercepted once more by the red archer who deftly flanked the crazed saber. To the opposite flank, Cu appeared, Gae Bolg spinning violently in a vertical rotation as it approached Arturia. The saber swiftly struck Gae Bolg to change its strike path before swiftly pivoting to smash twin slashing blades away from her legs. Spinning once more she deflected a thrust from Gae Bolg that appeared from a different angle then turned to skillfully intercept a blade coming down from above and another from the side.

The whirling dance continued as the lancer and archer struggled to prevent intercepting the other while attempting to disable the King of Knights. With a golden glow, Arturia launched a violent spin attack, simultaneously releasing invisible air to push the two allies away from her. D'Eon observed in a fighting stance from the side, unable to find a proper time to engage without making things more difficult. Cu cursed under his breath and glared at Emiya who had landed on the opposite side of Arturia.

"You're making this difficult! Get some distance already!"

"When I need to," Emiya shot back with a huff. "And when do you not make things difficult yourself, Lancer."

"Quit the bickering! Now is not the time!"

The four servants glanced towards a familiar employee standing at the saddle leading to Chaldea. Next to her stood Amakusa and Scathach, weapons drawn and ready to defend her at a moment's notice.

Using magecraft to help amplify her voice, she pointed at Arturia and declared, "We're stopping your rampage here!"

"Not until I-"

"Emiya! Cu Chulainn!" The magus employee interrupted. Arturia turned her attention back to the tri-

There were only two. Looking up quickly she saw the lancer had suddenly gained considerable height, Gae Bolg glowing red with a surge of energy. His posture was partially leaned back, his eyes locked onto the crazed saber as the prana being exerted from his spear multiplied by the second. 'I can't let him throw that!'

Arturia rocketed towards the lancer, Excalibur glowing blue as she prepared to strike before he could fire off the noble phantas-

Gae Bolg stopped charging and he dashed towards her, meeting her in midair with a fierce blow that caused a shock wave to disturb the snow falling around them. Arturia fell towards the battleground and righted her posture before impact, landing gracefully as D'Eon swung his blade, slamming against Excalibur and locking it into place. The blue lancer landed and readied Gae Bolg, but he didn't move as he studied Arturia. Preparing to disengage from D'Eon she began pumping her dwindling prana into her legs to swiftly disenga-

She heard it and leapt prematurely, dodging a volley of arrows that sliced through the air where she had previously been. As she dodged backwards, she glanced Cu charging Gae Bolg once more with energy before rocketing towards her with a swift thrust that- it would have pierced her if she didn't prana burst once more, her reserves now nearly dry from the sudden expenditures.

From her right flank she spotted Diarmuid as he made his charging approach, Gae Buidhe coming within inches of her wrists as she dashed backwards once more towards the steep drop-off that was quickly approaching; She was running out of dodge room. She swung Excalibur violently, the shockwave of energy from a suddenly formed and then destabilized invisible air forcing the two lancers far back towards the others.

She swiveled as a servant teleported on her other flank, causing her eyes to widen as she caught sight of a hurled flask racing towards her, only a few feet and closing. She saw an incoming arrow from Emiya on an interception course with container to break it, sending whatever was insi- 'No!'

Excalibur ignited, sending blue prana gushing from its blade as she swung at the offending container, incinerating it, its contents, and the incoming arrow in one swing. The impact also sent a surprised Paracelsus to the ground for cover, the attack singing his robes. Arturia was panting as the smoke from the snow cleared, her stormy blue eyes glancing at the servants around her.

"Shit!" Cu exclaimed as he grit his teeth.

"She shouldn't have been able to do that!" Paracelsus whispered as he picked himself up and backed away from the servant who was now glaring daggers at him. "You should be out of usable magical energy to fight!"

"You underestimated the greatest saber!" She roared as Excalibur lit up with energy once more as she prepared to swing it down at the caster. Amakusa began charging spells from the distance but they wouldn't reach her in time, nor would Emiya's arrows as he swiftly began knocking a new arrow to send airborne. Arturia's downward slice came down as Paracelsus attempted to dodge backwards while drawing his blade, too late to chant a short ranged teleport spell. His close combat skills weren't going to save him from the vicious blow that came down violently.

"Paracelsus!" Gabrielle cried out in horror. Scathach was about to make the blinding dash, but her eyes widened in the last second.

Cu Chulainn and Diarmuid slowed their charges to a stop and grinned as the blow was intercepted by another blade. The long, silver claymore with black handle glowed with power as it held back the legendary Excalibur. A black under layer of clothing with red accents contrasted against the silver armor pieces of the newly arrived saber, his black cape and long, white hair blowing with the mountain winds. His white eyes gazed into Arturia's stormy blue ones with calm determination. The green glow from his exposed chest illuminated the closely falling snow, mixing with the golden and bluish light from Excalibur and the white from Balmung.

"No one is underestimating you, Eure Majestät. This is over. Cease and desist, King of Knights."

She grit her teeth and glared at Siegfried, one of the sabers said to rival her in legend and power. She could feel her energy reserves approaching depletion, but if she had enough energy to defeat this one saber then she could at least prove her worth to Master as the best. 'I could then take my time to defeat the clones when the time arose! Yes! This will wo-'

A cloaked figure ascended from the drop-off behind Arturia, the cloth fanned out in the form of makeshift wings. A feminine hand clenched a jagged dagger as it shined brightly.

"Rule Breaker!"

Her vision went dark.

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XV ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

Jeanne stared worried at her friend beside her, who breathed slowly with a look of regret, sadness, and anger defining her features.

Her tattered clothes had been replaced with a loose blue shirt and matching sweat pants. The pair sat on the edge of the King's bed, but it was far from comfortable. Quietly, Arturia held her emotions in check even if they shined in her eyes like a small blaze. Yet, she held herself together, even if those who knew her understood what lay beneath the composed veil. Through the crack in the door, Emiya and Diarmuid stood leaning against opposite walls of the hallway and occasionally passing glances into the room.

Jeanne reached out and rubbed her friend's back as she let out another long breath. "You never meant them to begin with. It's alright, Arty."

"…But I can never take back my shameful actions… What I did was…"

"It's not your fault. Roman has already figured out what really happened."


Jeanne slowly placed her hand atop her friend's own. "You're still my friend, Arturia. I'm sure the others will forgive you too. You shouldn't worry about it!"

She let out yet another controlled breath, but Jeanne quickly reached out to pull her friend into a hug. Though she was stiff in her hold, Arturia raised one of her slender arms to gently hold the other servant's own. Still, her glare penetrated the floor with the tornado of emotions that wrecked her thoughts within. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly as she grit her teeth at the damage she'd caused, and the likely scar against her name.

Emiya sighed in frustration. To see his former servant and dear friend in any distressing state was always aggravating. To only partial relief, the King of Knights was handling the situation well through a mix of emotions rather than adding to her mountain of past regrets… but if he had a choice, he'd obviously rather see a smile. He looked towards Diarmuid in front of him as the lancer glanced back while shaking his head slightly. It obviously didn't sit well for him either.

They can only hope Chaldea's leadership was dealing out appropriate punishment to those involved in this disaster.

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XVI ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

"…Then that's it then. No one is totally at fault. It was a giant chain of snowballing events," Gudao sighed as he rubbed his temple with one hand. Before him stood Medea and Paracelsus, with the recently caught, self-proclaimed rival of Janice standing slightly away from them with his gaze directed elsewhere.

Gudao stood next to the doctor on the other side of the hallway, joined by one of Chaldea's first heroic spirits. The caster had one hand on her hip, and her mechanical gauntlet gripped a large staff topped with rings that projected a prism of prana. The inventor wore her standard Renaissance era outfit in vibrant red and blues that she used in battle. She used a hand covered in a blue, silk glove to brush some of her black hair behind her shoulder. Her blue eyes glared at the employee across from her as the iron grip on her staff tightened.

"But there still needs to be consequences so this doesn't happen again," Roman stated with crossed arms as he stared at his two servants in the hallway. "I'm placing a temporary ban on any new use of potions and elixirs within the facility unless express consent is given by the receivers and I am properly informed."

"Paracelsus." The male caster looked at the unofficial, acting director. Roman's expression remained calm. "You and mages in the Alchemical Room can no longer leave any mix unattended. Please be more scrutinizing yourself in determining what is being made. I do not want any repeats of this."


The female caster reluctantly looked to her master, shame very much present in her eyes. "Though it was meant to be a prank, the series of events caused it to spiral out of control. The fact of the matter is you're one those who consistently picked on Arturia. You're banned from doing anything of the sort to anyone, and are ordered to find a proper way to make it up to Arturia by tomorrow afternoon. Her birthday should not be a sad day and I worry for her spirits. I will ask Naomi and Vlad to keep a closer watch on you as well."

"...Understood, Gudao," she said quietly and let out a relieved sigh. 'I got off light.'

Gudao's glare was joined by Doctor Roman's and Leonardo's as they glared at the employee, who flinched at the sudden intensity.

"And you. You've broken the strict code of conduct forged by the founders of Chaldea and purposefully tampered with an alchemical mix for ill purposes. The results, while severe, could have been far worse. You are hereby banned from using the Alchemical Room. You are also sentenced to a month in the brig," the doctor stated without any hesitation. "We'll find a new position for your skills in time."

The employee nodded reluctantly in understanding.


The two servants quietly turned and walked down the hallway as two security robots appeared to take the employee down the opposite direction. These two had one of their arms replaced with what appeared to be a gun. A blue lasso of pure energy shot out from one arm of a robot and secured itself onto the wrist of the employee.

"Letting the servants off a little easy, Gudao..." Da Vinci stated plainly as she passed a subtly disapproving glance at the master.

"If I think of something more suitable as punishment, I will inform them. But Paracelsus was deceived, and Medea meant it as an embarassing prank at first. Now if you don't mind, there's someone I have to thank before I talk to Drake about causing the only casualty of note during this disaster."

As Gudao left down another corridor, Roman let out a sigh that caught Da Vinci's attention. The inventor raised an eyebrow as the doctor pulled out a notepad and began scribbling.

"I'm going to throw a memo into the system that any 'saber-face' jokes are completely banned. Last thing I want to see is some sort of relapse."

¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨(¯ˆ·.¸ XVII ¸.·ˆ¯)¨·..·¨·..·¨·..·¨

"It still failed…" Gabrielle said dejectedly as she gazed out the window of the Salon at the falling snow; It danced in her orange eyes as she played with her orange ponytail. Her gaze remained firmly planted on the faded reflection of herself in the window as Gudao sat across from her at a salon booth. Though she looked a bit disappointed, he remained firm.

"Doesn't change the fact your initiative stopped anyone… I mean anyone besides Blackbeard from getting hurt. Many of the servants agree you helped organize the effort, and I'm happy it was you," Gudao stated as he looked at his closest friend and chuckled.

That grabbed her attention instantly and made her turn back. "What's so funny?"

"Just find it humorous that the tactical rumors of the "resident pervert" are gaining traction. If only they knew how much of a genius you really are."

"And you don't remind them?"

"Of course I do! But no one takes my opinion on you too seriously… Like I'm just defending my pervy best friend like I should be!"

She puffed her cheeks in annoyance. "Oh? Am I not allowed to appreciate the fine wildlife?"

"…That's what you're annoyed about?" He laughed as she rolled her eyes. "Seriously though, Gabby… thank you. I appreciate it. So does Chaldea for that matter."

"Don't sweat it... Last thing I want is to see the last light of humanity snuffed out by an intended prank, let alone my best friend being buried in the mountain of ensuing paperwork for that matter."

"There's still a lot of paperwork after this."

The Magecraft Division employee huffed and looked her best friend in the eye. "Seriously, you work far too much. Take some time off already. How about a day for once instead of an hour? Hang out and play sports with us sometime or something. Go play video games with Tyler and... Hell! I don't know, anything!"

"Yes, yes, mom," Gudao rolled his eyes as he got up to find Mashu, but chuckled as Gabby threw some of the table napkins at him. She always was as temperamentally immature as many people claim her to be, but also has some tactical impulses and can take the initiative without hesitation... not to mention she also had master potential. At least a lot of servants respect her on a level most other employees can only dream of reaching with a few.

Maybe that lesser known nickname from the few Japanese staff really does hold some water if those facts had anything to prove.

'Ko-Gudao Gabby huh... There's a teasing nickname in there somewhere... Gudao-ko? Kudao? Nah...'