The glow of the blue sky overhead was dimming, signaling dusk. A man hurried down the street, a stained canvas bag in one hand. Days ago he had thrown away his conspicuous uniform, and now he only wore a simple shirt and pair of slacks so as to not attract attention. His formal appearance might have served him well in the past, but that was another lifetime. Now, it served his purposes better to remain inconspicuous. His gloves were one of the few things he had kept, but with the fingers torn off and a layer of wear and dirt, the formerly pristine white gloves were nondescript and unrecognizeable.
He reached the middle of the road and turned to the row of buildings to his right. Like every other building in this town, each one was unlike every other building in this town. Whoever had cobbled this city together had cared far more about uniform purpose than uniform appearance. These particular structures were from every different culture, time period, and even world, but each was a living space of no particular impressiveness.
The man stepped into one of these houses, locking the door behind him. Pausing only to adjust his orange glasses, he went down to the basement and emptied the contents of his bag onto the floor. He picked up one of the dead chickens he had so unceremoniously dumped and made a fresh cut across its throat with a knife from his pocket. He used the bleeding body to smear a curious circular pattern across the floor, taking care to not let any of the blood go to waste. When the blood had run dry, he continued the process with the other two dead fowl. When they had run out of blood as well, he tossed the bodies aside and stared at the design. It was incomplete.
He carefully wiped the knife clean and pulled up his sleeve. He sliced open his forearm and used his blood to paint the final lines of the summoning circle. Satisfied with his work, he ripped off a strip of his shirt to bandage his injury, then settled himself at a simple desk he had previously set up in a corner. He pulled off one of his gloves, unveiling the red design carved onto the back of his hand – a cross bearing an eye in its center and surrounded several pairs of outstretched wings. Gendo Ikari reached out towards the circle with this hand.
“I hereby summon a servant, that I may do battle in this Holy City War.”
George had woken up one day to find himself somewhere he didn't know. He found this strange, since he knew most places he had been, and couldn't seem to remember having gone anywhere else. Here, light came from a glowing blue sky instead of a sun, and none of the buildings matched. There didn't seem to be any of those green pieces of paper or tiny round metal bits that people used to like so much. Instead people gave people things they found for things that those people had found. George liked this better. He was good at finding things, and people always seemed to want to give him shiny things and tasty things for his things.
He had spread out his found things on a big cloth, like he saw other people doing. Several people had already given him tasty things and shiny things in exchange for his things. And there was another person here, though something about this exchange of things seemed strange to him. She was a little girl with blue hair. That wasn't strange; there were many young people, and many people with odd hair colors. She had a shiny thing that he thought he could swap for a tasty thing; that wasn't strange. But she wanted the bottle.
George looked at the bottle. It was filled with dark red liquid, and had a special-looking shiny label. This was not a thing, he felt, for a young girl. But she was a young girl with a shiny thing. They exchanged their things.
Rika Furude had successfully obtained a small bottle of wine. According to the knowledge planted inside her head upon her waking up in this place, blood or silver would be more effective than wine, but in this scavenger city such resources would be much more difficult to obtain in the proper quantity. She had over many years learned how to use her child's body to its greatest effect, but this place was not Hinamizawa, and without the voice that had been constant companion for so long, it had been difficult to adapt. Thankfully, it seemed every other individual were similarly displaced, and without any sort of central authority, there was no reason for any of the people she passed to care about a little girl who carried a bottle of alcohol and bore strange red markings on the back of her hand.
Rika reached her destination, a small grating set into the base of a wall at the end of an alleyway. She pulled the grating aside, and pushing the bottle through ahead of her, squeezed her way through behind it. The opening widened into a small, damp room. Whatever entity had created this city had been haphazard, for it had neglected to give this room any openings other than the grating and one small window in the roof. Having such a secluded spot had suited Rika well thus far. The conditions might wear on her eventually, but she was in the habit of spending most of her time outdoors anyway.
Using the wine, she drew a summoning circle on the floor of the chamber. She was able to complete a small circle, though unfortunately there was only drops left for drinking. Rika set the bottle aside and studied her design. It was cramped, to suit the limited materials and space, and the material itself was hardly ideal. She didn't understand the source of the knowledge, but she knew that such a circle had the risk of weakening whatever being she summoned. It was a risk she felt she had to take.
Rika stretched out the hand that bore her command seals – in her case, these resembled some alien insect with a body like a blade, with spindly legs and a pair of curved horns.
“I hereby summon a servant, that I may do battle in this Holy City War! May my servant wield power capable of bringing about my victory.” Rika paused for a moment. “And may my servant understand the power that comes from having those you can trust by your side!”
The central spire of the Holy City was surrounded by clock towers. Several had complex systems of planets aligned in concentric rings, some had swinging pendulums and gears in great excess of what ought to be necessary, while others held spinning gyroscopes in orbs, and a few of the towers even held functional timepieces. The tallest of these had not still just a few days ago, but it now spewed out bizarre shades of steam, and its every tick could be heard even in the streets below, while its every tock shook the stones until the outside observer could not tell how the structure was still standing. The nearby towers had been gutted of all parts of any worth, and were now inhabited by anyone wanting a livingspace with a view, but only the brave or desperate approached this tallest tower.
If any of them had been able to make it inside, they would be able to see why this tower still stood – what set it apart from the other clock towers. It had been stripped like they had, but with different purpose. The other clock towers had been scavenged, reduced to useful pieces, but this one had been taken apart like some insane doctor seeking to perfect life might dissect a corpse on an unholy and tulmutuous night. The fruit of the madman's labor showed more and more further up the tower. With each increasing level, so too increased the number of pendulums swinging back and forth, the gears and cogwheels ever spinning, and the mechanical arms that carried and crafted and corrected.
The top room of the tower was the abode of the clockmaker himself. He was not bothered by the constant hum of gears and widgets, nor the ever present ticking of the great clock, as these had become more part of him than his own breath and heartbeat. The clockwork was far more dependable, as well; even the slight exertion of scrambling around the highest level of the tower caused his lungs to force his ribs out and in as if they yearned to break their way out of his already too-taut skin.
This emaciated figure crouched down on the enormous gear that made up most of the floor. Several mechanical appendages, extending from the walls and ceiling, were scratching a silver pattern into the surface of the gear. The man muttered and coughed as he watched their progress, occasionally using the tool in his own hand to correct or embellish the mechanical work. In this way the summoning circle was finished quite quickly. Still crouching, the man extended one bony and discolored arm. On the back of his hand was a red depiction of a cube encircled by a six-toothed gear. When he spoke the summoning incantation, it was as a continuation of and then a crescendo from his mutterings.
“I am Noximilien – no, Nox...I am Nox! My servant shall be powerful, powerful enough to obliterate the others! I will win this war! I hereby summon a servant, that I may do battle in this Holy City War!”
Light Yagami gazed out the window to the street below, a well-practiced look of bored disinterest on his face. And indeed, most of the view below was of little interest. But there was one man who was heading towards one of the houses opposite. There was little to set him apart from anyone else on the street – true, his glasses were a rather odd shade of orange, but given the nature of this strange city such an accessory was as unique as dirt. Next to other dirt. Next to a whole field of dirt. Light frowned. Such a metaphor seemed rather lacking, given his intellectual capabilities.
But metaphors were insignificant. What mattered was that he had noticed the glasses-wearing man was also wearing a pair of gloves. The climate of this city was not cool enough to merit wearing them for warmth, and they were too torn and dirty to be worn for aesthetic or sentimental purposes. No, those gloves were for hiding a command seal. Light turned away from the window and allowed himself a smirk. This war had not even properly begun and he had already discovered his first target.
Furthermore, he had devised a method to avoid similar detection. He had avoided something so obvious as gloves; instead, he wore a long-sleeved shirt that was several sizes too big. The sleeves were so large they covered the red design on the back of his hand: an apple bearing a closed eye and a single wing. It was a brilliant ploy – in this scavenger city, it was hardly unusual for clothing to not fit properly, so it would never arouse suspicion like something as obvious as gloves. Light shuttered the window and allowed himself a chuckle that grew into a full-fledged laugh. He had the Death Note, he had a head start, and he would soon have his servant; soon he would return to the true world with even more power. It was another piece of evidence that some force was guiding him, helping him on his glorious quest for justice.
Light turned to the summoning circle in the room, drawn in blood. It had been so easy to arrange its creation; so few in this city realized the danger of introducing their real names. He, of course, had been using the alias Yami Wright; his implanted knowledge itself didn't suggest that names would be significant in this war, but his own Note was evidence enough. But the Death Note would not be enough to win this war, if it came to physical confrontations. It was time to summon a servant.
“I, Light Yagami, hereby summon a servant to obey me, that I may do battle in this Holy City War!”
There were far too few trains in this city, the Rail Tracer thought. There were no tracks or stations anywhere. The two exceptions were the length of train rail nearly as tall as he was he had found, and the red design on the back of his hand. Technically, it was an abstract pattern, but anything that the Rail Tracer dreamed up – that is, naturally, everything – would have more trains to it. So it must be a train track, albeit one dripping blood. In that respect it bore a remarkable similarity to most train tracks the Rail Tracer had seen, albeit usually the blood was his own fault.
This was still a remarkable lack of trains, to the point that 'Rail Tracer' was a rather poor choice of name, and perhaps he ought to use his old name of Claire Stanfield instead. This remarkable lack of trains also caused some small unconscious part of Claire's mind to try and remind him how people kept telling him that maybe the world actually existed outside of his mind, and was not dreamed up by him. This part of Claire's mind, however, was far too small for any conscious part of Claire's mind to truly take notice. Though this prodding may have been what caused Claire to consider an individual besides himself.
“Hmmm, this might be a chance to get some romantic advice.”
Claire hopped and skipped around the room, dragging one of his feet along the ground so it traced out the circlular pattern from his head. It did not strike Claire as strange that he would simply know the proper mystical design or incantation; just 'knowing' things was natural for dreams. The profuse amount of blood on the floor also did not strike Claire as strange, as he had been responsible for the untimely death of those people from which it flowed. No, it was their responsibility, because they had not been showing the train rail segment the proper respect, and he had merely administered justice. This reasoning was a bit weak, perhaps, but he really needed that rail. But enough pondering on arbitrary things like justice and respect. He had to decide what to add to the basic incantation.
Claire thought about the girl he had met on top of that train. Her lovely dress, striking eyes, not to mention her skill with a knife...ahh, he really was in love. This time, for real. There had been others, and maybe that was his problem. He needed to be better at sticking with one person.
“I hereby summon a servant, that I may do battle in this Holy City War, and get advice on being devoted to someone!”
It had been hard to collect so much silver. But she was already dealing with one contract gone awry; she would not let herself have to deal with another.
Still, it had been costly. Even with the aid of her mother's expert business advice, she had already used up half her magic to acquire and shape the materials for her summoning circle. With no way to know for certain how long this war would last, she might have to go without using any magic just to survive to the end. But now she was prepared to summon a servant. With the right servant, she would be able to survive: to see her parents and little Tatsuya again. She would return to see all her friends- no, that didn't bear thinking about. She had to focus on surviving. She would deal with the problems back home if she returned home. When she returned home. Until then, she would stay optimistic and she would survive.
Madoka Kaname, magical girl, extended her left arm. She took off her glove, revealing her Command Seals: a two-faced moon, surrounded by a ring with a single gem.
“I hereby summon a servant, that I might do battle in the Holy City War! May my servant have the power to survive to victory!”
The structure at the center of this city was not the tallest, but it was the largest by far. It was a massive edifice of stone and metal, with no apparent entrances. Its tallest point was a spire from which spewed a blue glow that rose up like smoke and eventually joined the dome that served as a sky.
But the most unique feature of this building was what lay inside: for this building was the the City's only library. Kept in this private structure was every story from which all the residents had been so unwittingly pulled. And thus the one who held it also held the incredible advantage of knowledge of every other participant in the Holy City War, assuming the right story could be found.
He who held this library was currently sitting in one of the more lavishly decorated rooms, on a very comfortable chair with a book in one hand and glass of wine in the other. When he had first arrived he had been on high alert, assuming that other masters would have knowledge of this place and strike immediately for access to the strategic target. After all, why would he be the only one granted a true understanding of this City and how it worked?
But no attack had come, so it seemed he had the additional advantage of being the only one who realized he had the advantage of this place. The other masters must have assumed that this structure was decorative or simply another oddity of the City, and thus dismissed it as insignificant to their pursuit of victory.
He pulled up the sleeve of his priestly garments to look at the Command Seals on the back of his hand. One was in the shape of the grail, and the other two were of a jagged design more familiar to him. A smirk appeared on his face; it amused him that he would be the one to represent his own story. He would be the only one from that story; that was one of the rules of this war that he instinctively knew. Not even the servant he had been in command of so recently would be able to appear here.
He stared at the silver summoning circle before him, thinking about the nature of the servant he wished to summon. Two courses of action were set out before him: he could either attempt to win this war as quickly and efficiently to get it over with, or try to enjoy life in this city in the same way he would anywhere else.
Kirei Kotomine stared at his glass for a long while, almost let out a sigh, and downed the wine. Best to get this over with.
“I hereby summon a servant, that I may do battle in this Holy City War. May my servant be obedient and know how to kill.”