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Fate/Beyond the Hollow Lens

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Interlude 2

Returned From Death




He had been investigating the Phantom Societies movements for months. A lot of them had gathered at a particular spot. He had come to the village Aogashima due to many of its summoners and magus heading there. The more prominent members headed to Amami City in northern japan, but with so many coming here plus an internal contact that he trusted informing them of their plans here, he couldn’t ignore it. Apparently, the society had found the last phantasmal left in the modern world, only existing due to being asleep and recognized as a range of mountains. As a result it hadn’t drawn the ire of the planet and didn’t need to burn prana to exist. However if the society managed to awaken it with their plan, even momentary awakening would be disastrous. If it could cement itself as something natural the planet wouldn’t reject it and thus its prana upkeep would be severely reduced. Enough that a summoner’s ‘Field’ would be enough to sustain it, granting the society immense power. Thus the Kuzunoha sent him to deal with it… however, as he now discovered from a call he was listening to, it would seem the Clock Tower demanded that they be included in dealing with the issue. “You’re sure boss? We got our secrets ta keep… gonna be hard if i jus’-” he began to ask but he heard Ginko say “I know Kyouji-san but my hands are tied… you know how tenuous our alliance is. We don’t capitulate here and we risk them placing a sealing designation on us… I’m sure we could survive, but I’d rather we be able to exist without a target on our backs”. Sighing, he replied “You say that like it ain’t the case”. “Well at the moment any magus associated with them that moves against us does so without official clock tower support… which means them getting found out risks their position” Ginko replied “Which suits me fine. It also means we sometimes get free supplies and allies against the Phantom Society… so humor them this time, understand?”. “Yeah, yeah… ya made sure ta warn him he’s not getting our secrets easily, right?” he asked, to which Ginko replied “Yes… now, I have to go. Final preparations to leave are finished and I’d much rather be out of the reach of the Phantom Society”. He heard the call go dead. Looking over, he saw a woman approach. 

 

“Hello” the woman greeted “I am the magus from Clock Tower. Bazett Mcremitz, at your service”. Smirking, he replied “Pleasure. Names Kuzunoha Kyouji. Have ya been briefed?”. Shaking her head, Bazett replied “Nothing much besides we’re dealing with a threat to normalcy… what is the crisis?”. “Well… then let’s start with the society. It’s a shadow organization whose sole goal is to control humanity. Their latest scheme is to acquire a lot of power. Their method? The Daidarabotchi” he explained “They found a living one near Aogashima. Apparently, it slept before the last phantasmals left our side and the people regarded it as simply a mountain range… basically allowing it to be unrejected”. Frowning deeply, Bazett stated “I see… but then shouldn’t waking it simply kill it?”. Shaking his head, he stated “Not exactly… see, they plan to use some special magecraft to keep him alive just long enough to get the people of Aogashima to regard him as ‘real’ and spread him on the net… from there, humanity will as a whole acknowledge it as ‘real’, forcing the planet to not reject him” and Bazett finished, saying “Ah… then in turn the prana upkeep for it would be reduced… meaning he could be made into a familiar”. Nodding, he stated “Yep… if I had ta guess, they’d use a Comp to make it simple… after all, these things are beauts”. Staring at the 3 ft. long suitcase propped against the wall, Bazett asked “Comps…?”. Smirking, Kyouji pulled out a card, saying “First, a geas. Sorry, it’s policy. If ya don’t agree to it, we gotta work separately… but don’t worry. The terms are simple. I share our biggest secret and in exchange your body or mind can’t willingly reveal its existence to non-kuzunoha”. Bazett glared at the card for a few seconds, then looked at him, and requested “First… is the secret even worth it? Provide me a hint that it is, and I’ll accept it”. He smirked. 

 

“Sure thing babe. Lemme tell you a dark secret that both we and the society share… that not even your folks at clock tower are aware” he said quietly, tapping the suitcase “These things have deep similarities to the infamous Holy Grail Wars… if one were to research one, they might even uncover said wars inner workings”. Eyes widened, Bazett replied “No way… but that magic was lost ten years ago. How…” to which he laughed and said “Tempted eh…? C’mon then. Accept it. Hell, I’ll even say all it’ll do is physically rob your ability to inform others of the secret. You’ll just stop talking and your thoughts will drift ta something else… and if I don’t reveal the secret, I’m obligated ta destroy this”. Staring at him intensely, Bazett took the card. He felt the magic work on him as he said “Alright then!” and lifted the case onto a nearby seat. Opening it he revealed the truth; A simple rifle. Bazett stared at it, puzzled, and then watched as he took it out and held it like a proper rifle. Clicking the trigger after pressing a button on the side, the bulky far end opened into a pair of screens. One slid along a rail to the stock of the gun while the other slid to the top of the rifle and displayed the desktop of the Comp. “Here it is… my ‘Comp’... lemme boot up the ‘Devil Summoning Program’ and summon a pixie” he said, typing into the other screen as a keyboard appeared. As he typed, Bazett growled, asking “Is… is this a sick joke…?”. Smiling cockily, he stated “Nah. See?” and ran it. Bazett yelled “How the hell can some cheap hardware summon a ser-” but stopped as both of them heard an echoing giggle. “It isn’t polite to yell at master!” the voice said and then appeared. A leotard wearing fairy with pink hair and eyes floated between Bazett and him, saying “I’m Amelia. Nice to meet you!”. Standing, he said “Well? Impressed?”. Taking a step back from him, Bazett demanded “How… How did you summon that? That’s a phantasmal!”. Laughing, the phantasmal stated “Indeed I am! I’m weak though so master can maintain me even when not activating his ‘Field’! That’s why he chose me!”. Blinking, Bazett asked “Weak…?”. 

 

“Yep… see, phantasmals are fairly varied… frankly, Amelia here could probably be killed by even a single human if they’re properly armed” he explained “What separates the two is that most phantasmals have magic, making even Amelia here dangerous”. Nodding vigorously, Amelia stated “Yep! Sad as it is, I can’t beat a human with a gun if they ambush me! Even a knife will hurt pretty bad!”. He continued “As for the how… basically that Comp there has a program with all the instructions to contract Phantasmals. It can’t summon them itself but it translates things fairly well so negotiations are possible… After that, the Comp stores them. From there, I can call forth any that are stored there kinda like a servant”. Frowning, Bazett asked “What about if they disobey? Surely that’s an issue”. Nodding, he replied “It is… thankfully, the program whenever it connects to a leyline creates Command Spells for each one I have… or restores them daily. Course I can just sever the contract and… well… force them back to the Other Side”. “I don’t believe this” Bazett said “There’s no way a computer can operate magic… How could it? It’s just-” but was stopped as he replied “Circuitry… that happen to also have magic circuits overlaid on them”. Eyes wide, before she could say anything he admitted “If you’re about to ask if it’s my work, nah… someone long ago figured it out. Actually, this thing’s kinda ancient. I had ta do a lotta personal upgrades ta bring it to the 21st century”. Sitting down, Bazett said “Magical technology… Do you realize how dangerous that secret is…?”. Laughing, he replied “Not at all! Ginko handles all business with your group. I jus’ handle fight’in any dark summoner that shows his face”. “Dark summoner… why call them that…?” Bazett asked to which he slowly stopped laughing and became serious, saying “Cause… as heretical as this stuff is… what they do is worse. I at least try ta keep magecraft a secret, right? They don’t…. In fact, since we’re so trust’in, i’ll tell ya another secret”. Looking at her, Kyouji stated “Truth is, I’m technically dead. My old body is rott’in in tha earth. I am only here because something calling itself ‘Charon’ made a deal with me and then gave me this body. My cause of death? I crossed a dark summoner… and was tortured to death by his phantasmals”. Bazett stared at him… with something like… pity? 

 

“I see… what-” but he stated “That summoner went on to involve the Yakuza, turning one into a Dead Apostle that I had to take down… so yeah. I try ta keep magecraft a secret and let ya’ll know when I fail. The society only does it as a convenience… as proven by their recent scheme”. Sighing in frustration, Bazett commented “What a mess…. If they succeed, it’ll mean a lot of trouble…”. Nodding, he responded “Yeah… prolly why you’re on this mission. Thanks, by the way. Gonna be honest, I’m not much of a magus myself. Only spell I know is ‘Field’. That itself is… only so helpful”. Bazett raised an eyebrow at him and he responded “Don’t worry. It just makes a certain area around me full of prana. Kinda like a reality marble but it’s only minimal reality overwriting”. Bazett glared at him, saying “You keep adding reasons for me to kill you at the end of this… but I’ve agreed to help and I have a geas saying I won’t share your secrets. However… if you ever get a Sealing Designation on you, I won’t hesitate”. Laughing, he responded “That’s fine…. Just wait till I get an apprentice, alright?”. Tilting her head and her expression softening, Bazett asked “An apprentice…? You aren’t passing it onto your kid?”. He stopped at that. His smile became a bit more fake as he replied “Naaaah it’s not the Kuzunoha way… at least not my branches. Too complicated ya know?”. He then looked away from Bazett’s scrutinizing eyes and said “Come on, let’s just enjoy the ride… once we get there, I doubt we’ll be able to rest. I got their location and we’re heading straight there”. Bazett simply nodded and relaxed. He meanwhile recalled Amelia and put his comp back in the case. Then he slept.. And talked to Charon about the woman he just met. 

 

“Hey… Kuzunoha. Wake up. Hey.” he heard, waking up and saying “Uhhhhh… are we…?” and looked at the blurry image of Bazett, who replied “Soon. We have 5 minutes”. Yawning, he sat up and reached into his pocket. He pulled out an energy tablet and took it. Then he stood and said “Alright then. Let’s get this over with”. Standing, he opened the Comp and checked the local lines. The program affirmed the leylines were rich. Smirking, he stood and said “Let’s go. I’ll summon some phantasmals as we get closer… also, careful. They’re loyal to me so they aren’t gonna take orders… though they will converse and are willing to strategize with you”. Nodding, Bazett said “I understand… that’s how command spells work”. “Oh…? Speaking from experience?” he asked as he stepped off the train with Bazett who frowned at him and said “.... Maybe. I won’t divulge Clock Tower secrets”. Chuckling, he responded “Jus’ like I won’t rat out Kuzunoha secrets… glad we understand each other”. As they walked, Bazett asked “So be honest. How do things look?”. “Bout 500 dudes, 100 magus’, and 40 dark summoners… depend’in on how far along they are, we may also be facing stray phantasmals”. Eyebrow raised, Bazett asked “Stray phantasmals?”. Nodding, he replied “See, the ‘Field’ spell, by creating a prana-rich environment, allows for phantasmals to cross to our world easily. The stronger the field the stronger the phantasmals… if I had ta guess, we’ll probably be deal’in with strong phantasmals, so be ready. These things in numbers can fight servants”. Nodding, Bazett said “Luckily, I’m well equipped for such fights. Let’s go”. 

 

It took them four hours to drive there. An agent for the Clock Tower arranged for them to receive a car upon arrival in town. As such their day long walk was cut down to just 4 hours to his delight. As they approached he pulled out his comp from the backseat, transitioning there. Activating it, he stated “Bazett. I’m activating my own Field. You remember the Geas, no?”. With her nod, he began to chant, one of two he was ever properly taught “From mount Fuji heights, to the abyssal depths of Tartarus, I summon Elysium!”. He felt the spell take effect. A ring of light extended outwards and vanished into the horizon. He felt the air fill with prana and his magic circuits hummed in pleasure. He selected three phantasmals for this job as he didn’t have any spare magnetite for the stronger ones; the voodoo spirit of death Ghede, the hawaiian squid goddess Kanaloa, and the shaman of light Kresnik would do. Ghede looked like a well-dressed Englishman with black skin tight to the bones and a cane. Kanaloa was simply a tattooed giant squid. Finally, Kresnik was an Irish man wearing a white naval coat and white clothes wielding a white sword. None of them fully materialized, remaining in spirit form, but they kept pace with the car. “We’re going in rough” Bazett stated. Eyes wide, he asked “What?”. Then he got his answer as the car crashed through the front gates. He screamed in fear and shock. 

 

The battle began immediately. Bazett ditched the car basically immediately and ran into the compound. Kanaloa rescued him by tearing the door off and flinging him out into the arms of Kresnik who put him on his feet. “Master. Bazett is charging the main force. Shall we assist?” his Kresnik asked him. “Nah Lawrence. She can handle herself… instead, let’s circle round and find the main man runn’in this show, kay”. Lawrence nodded, pulling a sword out, and running with him. He slung his Comp over his shoulder, putting the strap over his head, and pulled out an elaborate longsword handle. His arms' magical circuits lit up as he chanted “Forged in heaven’s light, bathed in the darkest circle, take form Kusanagi!”. Instantly a blade of pure green prana formed. It was small at the moment, no longer than half a foot. However as a few summoners rounded a corner, yelling “You’re not getting away with this! Come, demons!” and summoned six large headed demons in chef’s clothing. Kresnik jumped behind him as suddenly the sword extended to 10 feet long, slashing in a wide arc. “G-grah!” the summoners yelled, bisected themselves along with their phantasmals. He continued running, saying “Rosemary, read their movement! Sam, scout ahead for the ritual site! Lawrence… you do you bud!”. “Yes master!” all of them yelled, spirit forming except Kresnik who kept pace with him, its sword out now. As he fought through the compound, Kanaloa would inform him of upcoming ambushes and he would use the unique properties of his Kusanagi to reverse the ambush. However, suddenly, he heard from Sam “Northwest master. Take the next right and follow the path!”. Nodding, he went down it. A trio of summoners waited, forming a small circle. In front six magus with open books stood, yelling “That’s far enough Kuzunoha! Just die!”. Balls of wind, fire, and ice formed. Appearing, Kresnik brandished his sword and it pulsed with psychic energy, the wave of which launched the elemental balls astray. He unslung his Comp and closed it off, activating the rifle function. Aiming, he fired, tagging the first in the head. “Shit! Defensive-” one began but was cut off as his head was torn off by Kanaloa who materialized above. “D-dammit!” the third yelled, backing up and then screaming in agony as he fell into an orb of darkness that vanished a second later, leaving no trace. “Sh-shit! Summon it, hurry!” one of the summoners yelled. The circle glowed and a phantasmal appeared.

 

A dragon came from the circle and looked at each of the summoners. “V-vritra! It worked! We’re saved!” One cried out, to which Vritra stated “I do not submit to the weak. I devour them” and with a quick motion devoured the summoners head. “S-shit! Run!” another yelled, both running. Vritra considered them and then him, saying “You… you are strong, like me… but not my summoner… so I will kill you, and then them!”. “Back fiend!” Kresnik yelled and pointed his sword at Vritra, firing a stream of flame from it. “Hmph” Vritra huffed, opening its mouth and firing a blue bolt of lightning that collided with the stream and both created a small explosion. Rosemary attempted to grab Vritra, but he simply flew away, turning to attack. Sam came from the shadows, raising a hand and forming a dark orb in Vritra’s path as it breathed another bolt of blue lightning. The orb absorbed the lightning and then vanished. He aimed and fired, shearing off scales. “He’s not invincible! Just be smart with your attacks!” he yelled, aiming for another shot and firing. This time he hit the neck, shearing off more. Turning to him, it yelled “You’re annoying! Die!” and breathed another bolt. Kresnik himself sent a stream of fire to counteract him. Kanaloa this time flailed its tentacles at Vritra, a few getting glancing blows, but like before it flew out of range of them. Then Sam smirked, saying “War is often decided before it begins… Sun Tzu I believe. Wise words for you friend… are about to fall”. Then suddenly a purple aura surrounded him and Vritra, followed by Vritra rapidly falling. He switched to his sword, aimed, and had it extend to its maximum range of 50 feet. The sword pierced Vritra’s throat, making it cry out “Gaaaaah! What sorcery is this!? How can a mortal- no! A magic sword! How!?”. Smirking, he stated “Never underestimate a Kuzunoha”. Retracting it, Vritra landed on the ground and then began to dissipate. As his Comp absorb it, he smirked and said “4k units of magnetite? Daaaaamn… you were pretty lucrative. If only I came across more…”. Looking at him, Sam stated “Master. The ritual is ahead… it’s well underway”. Rosemary chimed in “Bazett is enroute. She is currently finishing up the remnants of the main force”. Nodding at Rosemary he said “Then let’s head there. Thanks team”. 

 

As he stalked the edges of the ritual site he knew it was bad. There were many Fields active. As such, the prana was much higher than any one… in fact, he was fairly confident he could summon his strongest phantasmal and use the magnetite from the last fight to maintain one of his current phantasmals for an hour. However he didn’t need power, he needed coverage. He counted eight summoners and twenty magus’. That, on top of the many, many regular people there. Frowning, he considered his options before saying “Rosemary, Sam… you two positions to get the right half. Lawrence, on me. We’re going to immediately eliminate the left half”. Frowning, Lawrence stated “This plan is reckless master… are you certain?”. Nodding, he stated “I could probably use Metatron to wipe them out, sure… but I need coverage, not power. Doing it like this accomplishes that… is there an issue?”. Nodding, Lawrence stated “If Bazett is caught in our combined assault, her chances of survival are low”. Frowning, he hesitated, then said “Let’s do it anyway… Rosemary, telepathic communication if she gets too close so I can make the order to call it off”. Rosemary and Sam moved into position while he and Lawrence began to walk. ‘Master… the magus approaches. We have 3 minutes’ Rosemary communicated to which he said “Understood… then… attack!”. He extended Kusanagi to it’s full length while Kresnik fired the fire stream and made sure to sweep it so the two forces would meet in the middle. Rosemary appeared some distance away and with all tentacles on the ground facing towards the ritual while Sam appeared on a rooftop and pointing his cane down at the ritual. Instantly, from the two phantasmals, ice began to creep outwards at an alarming rate. Many of the regular humans were devoured instantly and the magus were only able to stall… but they stalled long enough as several summoners fled into the main ritual circle, which somehow protected them. 

 

“Damn… squirrely bastards aren’t ya?” he commented, approaching “No matter. I’ll cut you down here and end Phantom’s plans”. Laughing, one summoner exclaimed “Oh really!? You can’t stop us! We will succeed! Summon them!”. The other summoners pulled out laptops and typed in commands, a pair of phantasmals. One was a greek warrior using snakes as legs and feet and having a rooster's head holding a branch and golden shield. The other was a mass of dirt and grass given life with a single eyeball and gaping maw. Instantly the eye glowed purple and the ice stopped encroaching. Turning, the rooster headed greek waved its branch and a wall of ice rose, saying “Bcaw! We shall protect the ritual! Bcaw! For our masters!”. The other hummed, saying “For… Masters…”. The rooster headed individual then turned to Rosemary and raised its branch. Instantly, Rosemary was replaced by a mirror containing a reflection of her, who screamed “Wh-what is this… this magic…!?”. “My power! Bcaw! I cannot be defeated! Bcaw!” the rooster declared as the soil individual turned, and its eye shone at Sam. Sam attempted to turn to run but stopped cold, saying “D-dammit… using… bind on a… spirit”. Humming, the dragon then turned to him and Lawrence. “Wow… this is bad…” he stated as Lawrence added “Indeed… still we must fight and win. Losing is not an option”. Laughing dryly, he stated “Ain’t that right… Still, we’ve got a job, Lawrence” and rushed with him. “Bcaw! A mistake! A mistake! Bcaw! You shall pay! You shall pay!” the rooster phantasmal cried, rushing forward itself. It’s branch began to glow but seeing the incoming attack he pulled out a tag and held it in front of him, yelling “Mamoru!”. His circuits fed prana into the tag and it glowed brightly at a silvery beam flew at him at imperceptible speeds but his defensive tag absorbed the spell and turned into a mirror. Smirking, he stated “Nice try! You’re dealing with Kuzunoha Kyouji however! Such tricks…. Won’t work!” and extended his sword to maximum length and slashed left to right. Like with the magus and humans, the rooster soldier was bisected at the torso, crying out in pain before dissipating. However, the worm simply dug into the earth and avoided it. However Lawrence landed by the hole, put his sword in, and yelled “Die demon!” before pumping fire into the hole… only to have said fire erupt outward, sending Lawrence flying. “M-master! It’s immune to magic! Beware!” Rosemary cried, still slamming against the mirror pane. However he pulled out his gun and ran for an elevated area, saying “Understood! Lawrence, are-” but was interrupted as the snake deity rose in front of him and beared down to attack. “Shit!” he cried, trying to aim but he knew it was pointless. The enemy had got the jump on him. Then, to him at least, a miracle happened. Bazett, appearing from the periphery as a blur, shoved him aside and then turned and grabbed the edges of the creature's maw. “McRemitz! Careful thats-” but stopped, shocked. Bazett held the monster back and kept it from clamping its jaw on her, even if she was clearly struggling. Shaking out of his shock he aimed and fired several times. Shrieking it moved away or tried to… but then Sam and Lawrence appeared behind it and stabbed into it, Sam saying “No no, not after what you did to me loute!” and Lawrence exclaiming “Die, foul monster! Begone from this world!”. With a final cry, the creature dissipated as both channeled their power into the beast itself.

 

Turning quickly Bazett raised a foot and slammed down on the circle. “Noooo!” one of the summoners cried “Our work! You can’t!”. Panting he slowly stood, saying “Man… thanks for the save. I was almost a goner…”. “Damn you Kuzunoha! Do you know what you’ve done!?” one yelled, but then smirked “You’ve invoked his wrath! Our god will descend and kill you!”. Raising an eyebrow, Bazett looked at him and asked “Should we be concerned?”. Nodding, he stated “Yeah…. Yeah, I don’t like this. Be ready for battle” and then looked at his now recovered phantasmals, saying “Sorry but I need something stronger”. Nodding, Sam stated “Of course… should you desire a guide through death, call me”. Then all of them vanished into his Comp. Cycling through, he settled on his strongest phantasmal and then used all his magnetite to summon something to support them. Instantly, an angel appeared but it looked completely like a robot. The only human features of it were its appearance, that it wore clothing, and its blonde hair growing from its robotic scalp. Next to him a tree grew and from it a beautiful, if nude, woman emerged. “So you summon me again master… let me guess. Do you need defensive magic?”. Nodding, he responded “Yeah. Dunno what’s com’in, but I almost got suckered before… not gonna get that again”. The woman laughed, saying “Of course. I’ll provide the support… the woman over there. Is she an ally?”. He nodded and the woman bowed to Bazett, saying “Greetings. I am Jose, a Daphne of the Tree tribe”. The angel turned, giving a polite bow mid-air, saying “I am Nigel of the Metatron Tribe. A pleasure, milady” with a tone implying politeness. “Huh… fascinating. You summon Phantasmals so easily… and you’re maintaining them?”. Shaking his head, he responded “If it weren’t for my field provid’in me with plenty of prana, I’d be hard pressed ta summon just one of tha three from before… no, I need extra resources for that guy… Daphne though I could and sometimes do. She’s kinda reliable like that”. Then they heard a smooth voice say “I’m sorry… but that reputation will need to come to an end”. 

 

From the shadows a hispanic man in colorful business clothes emerged. His jacket was a polka-dot pattern using pink and green while his pants were striped and blue and yellow. His shirt worn under the open jacket was a vibrant red with a purple skull on it. “Heh… so you’re the one they sent… ‘Eyes of Phantom’... I knew my sources were right” he stated to which the man responded “Indeed. I am overseeing this project personally… to ensure you’d be here”. Eyebrow raised, he asked “Me…? Wait, is this a trap?”. Shaking his head, the man stated “No, no… just that if my own desires… and theirs… are to be realized, I need to keep you here”. Frowning, Bazett stated “I see… so you set up this elaborate ploy to merely divert this particular kuzunoha here… and the false plot was perfect to do so hmmm? Not something that can-” but she was interrupted as the man stated “Oh no this was a legitimate plan for a while… it’s simply that the chance of success hinges on perfect execution. I was coming here already to oversee the final stages myself… but you’ve seen to that for me. This giant will yet sleep… and you are within my reach. All our goals are met”. Frowning, he stated “McRemitz-san. Run”. Looking at him, she began to ask “I beg your pardon. I can handle-” but he interrupted, saying “Don’t tell me you can’t see it. That is no man. At least, not anymore”. Eyes wide, Bazett looked at the man who with a smirk laughed and said “Keen eye… you are not the Summoner for nothing. Still… you are woefully short. I am neither man nor phantasmal… truthfully, I am a Pseudo-phantasmal”. Eyes glaring, Bazett asked “What…? Who then? Who commands-” but was stopped as the man stated “No one you’d know. Neither of you. My master is unimportant to this… for now, I will fight you. Either eternally or as the victor. Either circumstance works for me”. Frowning, Bazett readied to fight as he stated “McRemitz-san… Please. Run away. We-” but was interrupted as Bazett stated “I won’t run. That’s not an option, so don’t even ask”. Frowning deeply, he sighed and said “Understood… then, please. Be extremely careful… if I had to guess, he’s not your average phantasmal”. 

 

“Oh… how right you are, summoner” the man said as he morphed. His jacket became a long sprawling coat of the same design while the shirt transmogrified into obsidian-looking skin. The head became a black grinning skull with two red sclera with yellow coloring and pink pupils. Forming a crown, diamonds were set on the top of the skull, connected by a golden filigree. Forming from nothing multiple hunks of obsidian formed and finally the pants became skin as well. The figure had an overall skeletal appearance. “Wh-what… what kind of Pseudo-phantasmal…?” Bazett began but he stated “Those chunks… they aren’t those are they…? I only recently read a study about ruins related to you… but to think one of you’d appear…”. The skull smirked and said “Heheheheh… yes, young one… I am of the Tezcatlipoca race, belonging to the Zealot tribe of the Kishin clan”. The hunks them moved to encircle the man, who then said “However… you all may refer to me as Fantasma”. Glaring, he asked “What unfortunate soul did you consume to gain that body huh? You aren’t even willing to take on the life you stole?”. Laughing, Fantasma stated “Would you take on the life of an ant after crushing it? Do you stand in wheat fields once you have reaped? Life begets life. Life steals from life. It is the way of life. It is the will of the gods… and so that will shall be enacted. I do not care for your moralizing”. “How can you call that moralizing! We aren’t ants or wheat! You-” but was interrupted as Fantasma asked “I suppose you are right… you are more like pets. Even so, does my question change?”. Nodding, Bazett said “Yes… maybe not anymore but there are tales of humans in the past that did. Cu chulainn most notably”. Frowning, Fantasma sighed, saying “An upstart. However, you did provide a valid argument… so I shall respond. Even if I did… who would it help? One person? My work now helps the world. The Phantom Society will guide you humans to prosperity and everlasting harmony. For that, I would sacrifice a thousand humans with nary a thought. Now, either step aside and let me capture the summoner, or prepare for battle… My goal is within my sight. It shan’t escape”. Then the obsidian hunks centers became clear, revealing their true form; obsidian mirrors. Fantasma then sat as a throne of obsidian formed from nothing. “Bazett. Last chance… if you run for it, you can warn them…” he stated, to which Bazett stated “I won’t… I have to see this through”. Sighing, he then requested “Fine… however, if things take a turn… take my Comp and run. No matter what, the Comp cannot fall into their hands. Understood? If you don’t… I’ll make it official”. Glaring at him but nodding, Bazett said “I don’t understand… but fine. I will do so but only because… you make it sound like them getting it is a bad thing”. Smirking, he replied “Not quite but… well… Do you want ‘em to have another Comp? One with the big guy there?”. Bazett shook her head, replying “I’d rather not… Nigel seems powerful”. Smiling, he replied “Yeah. He is… speaking of… Nigel sucker punch him would-” but was cut off as the man stated “No, no… none of that now” and suddenly Nigel was sent flying. 

 

Eyes wide, he raised his gun to attack and as he did a mirror floated to intercept rapidly. Bazett ran right at Fantasma and attempted to punch through the mirror. However, as her fist came close the runes floating around her arms dissipated. “What!?” Bazzet said in shock right as her fist slammed into the mirror. Not even cracks appeared as Fantasma laughed, saying “Oh humans… so reliant on, what was it called? Magecraft? Learn your place” before the mirror surged forward with incredible force, sending Bazett flying. Pulling out Kusanagi, he extended it right at Fantasma but another mirror blocked it, but Fantasma commented “Oh-ho? Found magecraft to equal mine? Impressive human… but how does it truly add up?”. Then the mirror began to glow. Daphne however shook her branches and something impacted right in front of him and then the mirror cracked. Frowning, Fantasma commented “Hmph… relying on others… a common trait of your kind. Akin to ants… though as the woman pointed out, an ill comparison… perhaps monkeys?”. Growling, he responded “We’re not monkeys! We’re humans! Not animals!” and pulled a tag out, saying “Kogeki”. Instantly, the tag flew forward and slammed into the mirror that moved to replace the cracked one. Instantly, it was engulfed in flames but did little more than blacken the mirror. Frowning, Fantasma stated “Tsk… more magecraft… wait, this taste… it isn’t… what magecraft are you using, mortal?”. Smirking, he said “Guess. Maybe you’ll be right” and raised his gun, firing again. A new mirror blocked his shot, making it ricochet away. Bazett then suddenly dove down from above, slamming her heel into it. Unlike before, the magecract stayed and the total strength of her strike shattered the mirror. “What!?” Fantasma growled, then gestured outward with a hand, saying “Latigo del carcelero”. Instantly, from a mirror, a smoky tendril snaked out and attempted to grab Bazett. At that moment Nigel appeared as if from nowhere, grabbing Bazett’s arm and pulling her gently behind him. With the other hand, Nigel fired a 3 ft. radius beam directly at Fantasma. Bazett, looking flustered, stated “I could’ve avoided-” but stopped as the beam eliminated the shadowy tendrils and melted through the obsidian mirror and smashed into a hexagonal-patterned barrier that shimmered into view upon being hit. Clicking his tongue, Fantasma stated “Well, well… a voice of god actually descends? Whatever for, one of the Metatron race?”. Glaring, Nigel responded “None of your business, old one. My lord’s intentions are not yours to decipher… Master, we must move swiftly. He gains power yet”. Sighing, Fantasma retorted “Damn you… sniffed out my ploy already?”. 

 

“Wh-what…?” he began as Daphne stated “I thought something was up! Yeah, yeah… the leyline is turn’in this way!”. Blinking, Bazett asked “What leyline…?”. Daphne stated “There’s an old line go’in from…. Au-strall-leeya? Ta tokyo then Amami City! He’s alter’in the flow though, inching it closer to here!”. “Hmph… well then. No need to hold back… Kiddos! We’re playing a game! The leyline will begin to empower me in 5 minutes! You have 5 minutes to defeat me! The only rules are no one outside of us will interfere! If you surrender before then… I’ll spare you. Yeah, and tell ya what… if ya manage to impress me, or annoy me, I’ll grant you a prize on your way out. Understood? If you can’t vocally surrender… well… too bad” Fantasma stated as two more mirrors materialized “Now, let the games begin!”. “Damn you! Making a game out of this! Die heathen!” Nigel yelled, firing another laser. This time, while it did not melt, the obsidian mirror that blocked the attack exploded. A barrier bounced the shrapnel off but he smirked, saying “An attack of absolution eh…? Then I shall counter!” and a mirror moved in front of him. “N-no! Watch out!” Daphne yelled, summoning another leaf barrier in front of Nigel right as Fantasma finished chanting “El precio de la sangre padago, quema la vida de mi enemigo!”. From the mirror a beam of concentrated white fire poured out. It slammed into the leaves and split around it like a great river might around a great rock. The stray shots flew towards the nearby mountain range and created visible explosions as each hit. “Wh-what power!” Bazett exclaimed, staring at them as he responded “I know! So pay attention!” and fired another shot, this time aiming past the mirror while it was busy. However, the barrier around him shone and blocked the attack. “Tsk… not strong enough… damn… gonna have to do that huh….?” he commented, pondering if he should. Looking at Bazett, he watched as she ran at the mirror, unleashing a series of punches and kicks after the attack had fizzled off. At first at an impressive speed, then after 30 seconds and shattering it, being very slow. Backing off, Bazett stated “Gah! This is annoying! Having to replace these every time!”. 

 

Smirking, Fantasma stated “Of course. Now that I realize you are a close-combat mage rather than a distance fighter, it was a simple matter of recalibrating my mirrors to shave off your magecraft… I’ll admit, it’s impressive that yours is so…. ‘Resilient’ against it… but ultimately, vulnerable”. Nigel, having had time to gather mana, fired this time and a pair of beams at Fantasma, who defended with a pair of mirrors. They exploded as well, with Fantasma stating “Oh-ho! You defeated my defenders, without leaving me time to remake them! However… you missed my ploy!”. He however produced a tag, throwing it to Bazett and saying “Mamoru!”. Daphne produced a wide-range leaf barrier that was 20 ft. long in front of them and 20 ft. tall. Nigel had to duck to get behind it. Fantasma finished chanting by the time his tag had activated to form a defensive barrier around Bazett, who commented “What!?”. “Volar a mis secuaces, oscuras y brillantes, ensartarse y revelar su dificil situacion!” Fantasma finished chanting and suddenly every broken piece of obsidian rose, then surged forth. Cutting through the barrier, Daphne screamed as multiple shards sank into her, filling her with holes. He curled up himself, but a few still dug into him. His leg, arm, right rib, and his stomach. He vomited blood from the pain. Nigel was battered and dinged but not defeated. “Master!” Nigel cried, moving and blocking a new wave. Bazett moved to defend herself but was shocked as the barrier absorbed the full brunt of both waves before collapsing. “What… What was that magecraft? I thought you said you-” Bazett began but then stared as he laid on the ground, breathing heavily. Growling, he stated “N-not my… magecraft….” and moved to stand as Nigel stated “Master… you mustn’t… you are-” but he interrupted, saying “Nigel… Can you beat his barrier…?”. Nigel, hesitating, stated “W-with time master-” and he responded “Time we… don’t have… tsk… dammit…” and then looked at Bazett, saying “Remember… our deal…?”. “Y-yes but-” and then blinked as she suddenly, reactively, caught the Comp. 

 

Nigel vanished as he held Kusanagi, saying “Take that… run…. Return it to… Kuzunoha. I as… the Summoner… charge you with the… d-duty of… returning the Summoner’s Code… to them…”. Turning to Fantasma, he began to stumble as Nigel dissipated. “W-wait! I’m uninvolved! Why-” but he cut her off, saying “The… Overseer and… Priestess… are obligated by Geas… to retrieve the Summoner’s code… immediately upon their death…. By any means… necessary… If we die now… they get to…. Run wild without restriction… as you can see… The Clock Tower wouldn’t be able to defeat them easily… It’d be….” and she finished, saying “It’d be a costly war… that could be mitigated with your existence… you’re using my duty against me so I don’t steal this aren’t you?”. Nodding, he stated “I guessed from the start… you were going to find a way… you’re an enforcer… your kind are crafty…” and then he vomited more blood, but continued saying “However… you could’ve abandoned me… yet you didn’t. You have a sense of duty… to Clock Tower… to yourself. So I give you this duty... “ and then took Kusanagi into both hands, funneling his prana into it, extending its base range to 1 foot as Bazett silently considered his words. “What makes you think you’ll just leave?” Fantasma asked, extending a hand and saying “Fuego de destruccion”. As a ball of fire formed, he quickly extended his Kusanagi to it’s new maximum range of 60 ft., severing all prana within, creating a series of small explosions around the spell Fanatsma had been preparing. However, once the smoke cleared, Fantasma’s clothing was only a little singed, though the barrier was gone. “It’s…!” Bazett began but then stopped, frowning but with a sigh saying “Understood…. I will do this, Kuzunoha. It would be ill-advised to allow the Kuzunoha to fall”. Smiling, he said “Th-thanks…. Oh! Tell Ginko… I like Inaruna Sake… she’ll… she’ll understand…”. Bazett ran off into the distance. “You’re not getting away with that Comp!” Fantasma cried, holding a hand out and saying “El precio de la sangre-” but was interrupted as he slashed at the hand, cutting through a barrier that appeared and cutting the hand and forming spell in half. “G-GRAAAH!” Fantasma cried, holding his hand, then yelled at him “B-Bastard!! How!?”. Smirking, he simply stated “My Kusanagi… when held with both hands… can cut anything…. I don’t think…. It can kill you… but it will stall you… just long enough… that she’ll be on a train out of here…. Now then, bastard… let’s dance”. He then charged, sword in his hands, and made a new slash. However, Fantasma leapt over the slash and ran at him, almost a blur. 

 

He instinctively leapt back. Instead of a pierced heart, his chest now had a hole. He could feel wind where there shouldn’t be any. He landed on his feet, moving and even with his blurry vision saw the next attack coming, based on experience. He moved the blade to block which made Fantasma leap away. “Grrrr… you’re annoying, human! Get out of my way!” Fantasma yelled, dark energy seeping out of his fingertips forming sharp nails. He then attempted to claw at him at dizzying speeds but he used his body’s experience to deflect two slashes and then retaliated. “Tsk!” Fantasma yelled out, then continued his assault. He blocked and deflected… but knew it was a matter of time. For two minutes he lasted until the nails vanished suddenly and he slashed empty air. Then he felt the prior hole be completed as Fantasma punched through his back, bones and all, and pushed his heart out. “I win” Fantasma growled ferally, him breathing to reply. Then he chided himself mentally. He forgot, he lacked a heart to use that breath… and he was in too much pain to speak. Only to fall forward. “Damn you… that woman is fast. Even were I to chase… tsk. You gave her enough of a head start” Fantasma ranted as a new voice yelled “Sir! The woman! Shes-”. “I know!” Fantasma yelled “Bah, just let her go. We got what we wanted; the Summoner is dead… the Kuzunoha are vulnerable. Prepare to move”. As his life faded, he only regretted that he couldn’t warn his comrades, Rei Reiho and Madam Ginko about the danger of Fantasma… he only hoped that Bazett would.