Chapter 1: Prologue/Storyboard
AN: You boys thought I was done. You thought I was out. BUT I’M STILL HERE. Also so was this brainless idea, so enjoy it.
Synopsis: The Grail could wait. For it’s revenge against the man who had set it’s birth back more years. What were a few more? Just because the boy hadn’t been alive at the time it most waited to arise, didn’t mean it didn’t know. Didn’t see. Couldn’t tingle with anticipation as it waited to brand him for the coming bloodbath. (Shirou-is-a-Dead-Apostle fic)
Prologue / Storyboard
Visitor in the Dark
It was an elegant- no, make that beautiful- golden gown. As a former Chinese woman, it reminded her of that Western animation version of Beauty and the Beast that came out over a decade ago.
That it was held up by Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg only made the parable more apt, in her eyes.
“You don’t look amused.” He noted, even though the bearded man’s face was split in a grin that would have made more sensible people run away. Anyone with a brain in their head, or sense in their soul, knew that a happy and amused Wizard Marshal was a bad thing when that focus was on you.
Qiuyie would not realistically consider herself one of those people. It was a trait that had defined her in life, and it had long since defined her in death. “With all due respect,” None of it, in fact, “I would rather know why you have so--”
She looked around, noting the obtuse little Japanese decorations. A fox’s shrine. It was cute, in a way. Irritating, all the same. Her eyes, red and unblinking even in their almond-shape, returned onto the Ancestor.
Qiuyie didn’t do well with irritants. “-- kindly brought me to Japan for this.”
Despite her noted annoyance, the man simply spun with the gown, flourishing it out. For a moment, she pondered if he was doing it to annoy her.
Then she decided that, yes, Zelretch was doing it exactly because his eccentric actions would piss her off. And she could do nothing about it other than express such thoughts vocally.
She was a woman without sense, or much intellect, but she was not a fool.
“Oh, that’s very easy, my dear. I saw something amazing. Something I want you to do.”
A brow raised. Once upon a time, it had been black like most Asian women’s, but now it had long since turned a deep and vibrant red just like her hair. A result of her own meddling- or perhaps just a long unlife drenched in blood, boredom, and an utter lack of direction.
The worst kind of miserable existence for their kind. The kind that always preceded the long sleep of an Ancestor- or the utter and complete death of one not fit for the title.
Being beholden to another was a thing Qiuyie had hated since her life had been filled with it. China’s ancient traditions had worn on her while alive, doing so in death was even more disgusting.
But Zelretch was well known for doing interesting things. And Qiuyie liked interesting things.
So, closing her eyes, she listened. She privately hoped it’d make dealing with the irritating, and eccentric, Kaleidoscope worthwhile.
It definitely made it easier to not be bothered with the way his lips curled up into a fanged smile. “That’s why I like your type. So drunk on it all that you never do anything boring.”
Frankly, she wasn’t sure if she should be insulted, scared, or curious. So she was none of the above. She simply opened her eyes again, and watched as he leaned in. “How would you like to be a Mother again?”
Qiuyie blinked. And again when he thrust the dress into her arms, and noted with a pleased grin, “Keep that for later.”
After that, she didn’t get an explanation, just a name. One that made her more confused than anything else.
Emiya, Shirou. A pet of Zelretch’s, perhaps? Or just a human that had befallen the Ancestor’s boredom?
She didn’t know, but she understood the implications.
Qiuyie considered herself something of an entertainment buff, as ironic as that hobby was considering her inability to seemingly find something worthwhile in her long unlife. So, the facts of her night did- in some way- amuse her. A dark, lonely evening while she faded in and out of the shadows as the young man wandered his way home from his work.
A pub at his age. How scandalous. Of course, that only made the night more cliche. All that remained was for her to fade into view behind him and scare him and it would have been a perfect monster movie.
A terrible travesty of one. It had been weeks since she had been dropped into the wilds of Japan, and she’d had to track down the young man, with only a name and the parting advice that he would smell extremely iron rich.
A very wild, if apt, description. Even now, he stank of a metallic bent, and she knew instinctively how it would be a bitter, unpalatable taste to her. Someone who enjoyed the rich, rushing vigor of young, pretty, women to a “brand” like his, for lack of a better word.
Medicine, then. Like medicine, she supposed. Nonetheless, as he turned unto the street going towards what she presumed to be his home, she let the distance cross. No need to propel herself with her own feet, just to let the world bend in her own direction. His neck, her eyes, her fingertips-
Medicine. Bitter, unpalatable medicine. But one she had to stomach.
And for the first time in a long while, she tasted a man. Cradling him in her arms as she weakened him and lowered him down.
It was bitter, but like tea. If she could still remember what that was like. Strangely, it soothed her. As the moon rose in the sky, she wrapped him in her arms and moved within the bounds of the Emiya household. The quiet pervading the place a song for the dead that only they could hear.
It was a beautiful set of strings in her ears as she laid him down upon a room that stank of him, and softly struck her fingernail across her palm, then let the black mixture from within dribble down unto his dry lips. It was a matter of hours, but steadily his skin regained luster and his sunken features restored.
And, with a boredom learned to endure for centuries, she waited and watched to see if Zelretch was a fool.
Or an oddly altruistic director.
DROPS OF RED
Chapter 2: Cusp of the Moon, Pt1
Fate/Drops of Red
Cusp of the Moon
“Yes. I’m sorry. Emiya, Shirou will not be able to go to school for a few days--”
His eyes opened. The fact that the room around him was familiar, but sheathed in glimmers of twilight, was new. It was even more interesting because as he slowly sat up, he saw that shades had been drawn across his windows and, thus, no sunlight was being let into the room--
-- it should have been darker.
“I’m afraid he’s very contagious, yes.” A voice. A woman’s voice.
His eyes turned to the side where he heard her voice.
It felt like his pulse stopped, but he became aware that- for a moment- he wasn’t sure if it existed at all. Glimmering-- no, glowing-- red eyes turned slowly from facing forward towards the “wall unto him.
She was a small woman by some opinions, if they were stood, he felt she might have only come to his chest. Waves of polished, bright red hair stood out from the white and brown of his walls, and her features were more rounded and cherubic than that of the girls he’d seen. Her body caped in a long shirt of white and black pants. If Shirou was a more cultured man, he would have known it by it’s name, an ao dai.
Lips smeared lightly red with rouge parted, “Of course. I appreciate your understanding. He should be fit to return to school by next week.” Her eyes, crushing in their doll-like and frighteningly level gaze, remained upon him with each moment that passed.
Shirou didn’t know why, but he remained silent. Something about her made him . . . wary. No, that wasn’t quite right--
-- it made him obey. As if she had silently commanded him to be still.
“Yes. Miss Fujimura, was it? I will call you immediately when he’s ready to see visitors. Please have no fear. I’m a friend of his father’s, so I’ve dealt with the Emiya house before.”
Shirou stiffened, eyes widening. Those lips perked slightly, enough that he could have sworn the red-haired woman had smiled somewhat. A flash of a sharp tooth-
“Is that so? Well, yes. I’ll be happy to tell you a story or two later. For now, I should go. He has woken up. Yes. I will make sure to tell him. Goodbye, Miss Fujimura.”
Quietly, the red-haired woman sat the handheld of the phone back into the cradle and shifted it back unto the lone desk in his room. Finally, it felt like Shirou could breathe again.
“You have good friends.” She noted. Her voice was like the soft, deep little rumble. It reminded him of stringed instruments. It was a voice that didn’t seem to be used often, but-- if he was to be poetic- that seemed like a shame.
It was a pretty, exotic voice for a woman who looked to be made of glass.
“Who are you?” Shirou asked, his throat feeling dry- drier than it had felt in years, in fact. His eyes remained fixed on her features, even while they schooled themselves back into an expression he could only describe as placid.
“That is a more complex question than you think it is, child.” She mused, and for the life of him, Shirou could only take that strange dismissal as annoying. “In a way, I am your new mother.”
Shirou blinked. “Mother?”
“When someone is born, the person who gives them life--” She turned on her knees, shifting her facing but not her seated position, towards him. “-- that is their mother and father, isn’t that right?”
“I suppose.” Shirou was confused, and he was sure it showed on his face. The slight tilt of the red-haired woman’s head only further brought surety to the fact he must have looked as much.
“Then, consider me your mother. Though, no, I am not Emiya, Kiritsugu’s wife, before your mind wanders.” He squinted at her, and that must have been funny for some reason, because her lips perked up once again.
“I’m getting on your nerves. That is normal for me. Do not worry about it. You can call me Qiuyie, it is a name I have been known by.” She bowed her head, and when she came back up from that expression of politeness, her face was once again indomitable.
“That’s- a Chinese name . . . You said you knew my father on the phone?” He asked. A normal person would have been more upset- more curious- about her presence.
Emiya, Shirou was not a normal person. “I knew of him.” Qiuyie agreed, “Though I never met the man himself.”
Shirou’s face scrunched up in confusion once again, “Then why lie? What are you here for?”
A slim hand with lengthy nails reached out a finger gently settling onto the tip of his nose and making his eyes cross. “You.”
One of his own hands raised up, feeling sluggish and yet moving fluidly despite, to push her hand away from his face so he could focus once again on her. “What do you mean-?”
“You know about Magi, correct?” His face scrunched up again. Things were starting to make better sense to him now.
“So you knew my father?” He corrected the phrase, an implication rather than an outright admission.
“There are other things that exist outside of the world of blind human eyes besides Magi.” The woman stood from her seiza position, going over to the desk and gently picking up a small mirror put upon it. It was a mirror he rarely ever used, but it was in his room on the off chance he had to. Carefully, she cradled the thing in her hands and brought it over to sit next to him once again.
“Things like us.” She held the mirror up, spinning it so that it’s vertical height was now horizontal height, and his features could be wholly seen in them rather than only half of his face--
And he stared into it, seeing the change immediately.
Gone were vivid amber eyes, instead replaced by stark, unyielding crimson. With a wave of her hand over the reflective surface, he blinked and the red vanished in favor of that glimmering near-gold he was used to seeing.
With a smile, rouge-painted lips revealed canine teeth just so slightly more elongated. “Welcome to the Moonlit World, Emiya, Shirou. Or, should I say, my child.”
It was a strange new world to experience. Especially having to deal with the fact he wasn’t yet strong enough to resist the strain of the sunlight- so all of the blinds and shades within the manor had been drawn while he dealt with Qiuyie’s intrusion into his life.
He’d actually had to stop himself from cooking food, on her word, as they sat in the Emiya dining room.
“While it’s important to try and keep in touch somewhat with your human habits-” Qiuyie mused, trilling a set of long nails against the tabletop as they sat across from one another, “- you won’t be able to handle food for now. It would make you sick.”
A deep-rooted side of him died at that thought. Rather, it screamed in agony.
Pausing, the red-haired woman mused, “To be honest, it’s amazing that you are as aware as you are- or that you didn’t become a ghoul.” The unspoken words in her head were a mystery to him. But, I suppose Zelretch would not have told me about you if you were a boring one that would just become The Dead or a Ghoul. To go right to the stage of a vampire still beholden to me…
His expression must have been an amusing one, since her rouged lips quirked again. “Normally, an attempt to make a new Dead Apostle will only work if the person is suitably strong of body and spirit- or to be more precise, if they have the requisite Od and Magic Circuit quality. Though, it’s strange, you . . . don’t seem to be extremely gifted in either.”
A finger came up, pressing against her lips idly. Something else is expediting the process, but what.
“Were you a Magus, Miss Qiuyie?” He asked instead, his hands knitted together on the tabletop. The soft laugh he got in return was an answer enough, but those lips opened again regardless.
“No such thing. In fact, some would consider me a very poor example of my . . . breed, you could say.”
That brought a raised brow from the red-haired male. He had no basis on what she was speaking of, but she had such an odd . . . feeling that pervaded her being to say such a thing.
“I don’t understand.” He decided it was best to be honest. Her looks returned to a placid, deathly stillness again.
“You will later. Needless to say, my choice as your mother is a curious one.” Shirou squinted again. That had only brought to mind more questions. “The only trait that matters is more appropriately, one that all of the older kind possess innately, so it could be seen as . . . redundant.” From within a bag at her side, she hefted a set of papers and slipped them onto the table.
With his attention drawn, he simply let his gaze turn unto them, noting how they were written in chinese script in scrawled patterns, some of it almost legible to him since it was nearly kanji. He raised a brow, then turned his gaze back onto Qiuyie. The red-haired woman fanned the papers out and then tucked them up between her first and second fingers, even while her gaze moved from them back unto him in return.
“Simply put, one of the weaknesses of a vampire is the fact the life-giving energy of the sun erodes our body and soul.” She flipped the talismans between her fingers, a deftness he would have attributed to a street magician in each smooth motion, “Our lineage does not suffer as extremely from it. Ancestors- born vampires or those whom reach a certain amount of power, one could say- also do not suffer that singing weakness usually through their own efforts. It’s a mundane gift.”
Her fingers paused, showcasing the talisman’s printed sides to his eyes as he noted that, altogether, they carefully created a diagram of a stylized sun with script pervading the paper in a circle outside of the pictogram and radiating forth from it. “But a useful one for younger brood, since it allows them to acclimatize to life without becoming creatures that only exist throughout the night.”
Offering the fanning of talismans to the redheaded man, Qiuyie settled her fingers together and leaned forward unto the table again. Sitting with her legs crossed rather than in more traditional seiza, his gaze moved from the papers to the red-headed woman and then back to the papers again. “I am not a Magus, no.” She admitted, “I am what you Japanese would call an Onmyodo- though the term isn’t quite right.” She waggled a lazy set of fingers, looking terribly amused as his gaze was drawn to the sheafs of paper in his hands.
The papers dancing and glowing with a faint light that stung his eyes- and his fingers, in fact--
He dropped them, and the papers kept their glow until they slipped fully from his fingers. “Your “Houjutsu” is, after all, based on Buddhist principles. The anathema of the art I learned from my own Parent so long ago.”
Shirou blinked, turning his gaze from the now inert papers back unto the vampiress. “Why tell me?” He asked, softly, wary.
“Because, one day, you’ll have to kill me to be truly free. And, if I raise a good child-” She leaned forward, settling her chin on her splayed fingertips, “- that means I can return to where I need to be.”