"Here, order anything you want." I gestured towards a menu sitting infront of Ruler.
We did a little bit of shopping, and she picked out a couple things she found more 'appropriate' for herself to wear. It was probably a bit of a culture shock, to see the variety of things available in this era she could wear.
Fun fact, Romania has its own currency, and this place does not take either American dollars or English Pounds.
May or may not have technically stolen the clothes…..then robbed the store for some loose cash.
I did leave quite a bit of gold behind as an apology though. I think that that lets me off the moral hook.
Honestly, I feel like its one of those things I overlooked because I was focusing on the bigger picture.
I tend to do that a lot.
The restaurant we were in wasn't too large, but I wasn't particularly picky right now. I could easily grab something out of my Ring and tied myself over, but I was curious about this Ruler Servant. How many times in the future will I be able to sit down and calmly talk to a Saint as a Devil?
Raikou was behaving herself…..relatively speaking. She no longer was looking at Ruler like she was about to strangle a puppy. I had somehow convinced her I was just trying to get some information out of the Ruler Servant, and I had no other intentions.
I was not oblivious to the red flags that Raikou had been smacking me in the face with. But there was not much I could do about it for the moment. Once I get the Grail sorted, I should be able to help her with her Mad Enhancement.
"So many strange dishes, Master, help me decide." Raikou pouted, trying to make sure she kept my attention focused solely on her.
"I can't say I'm knowledgeable about the cuisine here." I looked it over. I was not hiding the fact that I was a glutton, so I didn't mind just splurging. "Lets just try all the big stuff."
"I'll feed master." Raikou muttered to herself. "Fufu~"
Well, if it makes her happy.
"What do you want, Ruler?"
"Oh um…" She fidgeted with the menu in front of her. "I'm not really hungry, and I don't need it…"
"You're in an actual body, even if there won't be any physical repercussions if you forgo eating, you'll still feel hunger pains." Based on what Artoria told me. Apparently, that was an eye-opening revelation, because there were points where she and Rin were in particularly bad situations, and she went without eating for days on end.
"No, really. It's okay, you don't have to." She politely declined.
"If you tell me no, I'm not going to push it. But if it comes from some weird place like thinking I'll expect good will in the future or that I might harm you…" I trailed off, not feeling like I needed to finish that sentence.
"It's not that…" She said quietly.
"Erm, I…" She awkwardly held the menu in her hands. "Idontknowhowtoread."
"Pardon?" I blinked at her in confusion.
"I Can't read…." She said quietly.
"But….the Grail should have downloaded the information into your head, not to mention servants have the ability to parse every language in the world due to this. Was it a side effect of you not having a proper vessel?" I rubbed my chin. "Perhaps there are other side effects as well." I was lost in thought for a moment. "Wait, you spoke to someone here not too long ago, how were you able to do that if the Grail didn't give you the knowledge?"
She turned a little red, a bit embarrassed seemingly and it just made me more confused. "I can understand the languages fine."
"Then what are you –" I paused, her meaning finally sinking in. "Pfft." I held back a snort of laughter.
"It's not funny!"
"You're right, you're right." I held my hands up. "...It's hilarious." I couldn't help but burst out laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing. "A Heroic Spirit who ascended after their death from worship through the ages, someone written down in the annals of history…..is illiterate because her Legend depicts her as a peasant girl."
She turned bright red, and her eye was twitching something fierce. "I never had the chance to learn."
"Too busy fighting wars. Big G didn't think it a good idea to give you the ability to read and write with your revelations?"
"B-big G?" She squeaked out. "How could you call the Lord something like that!?"
"What's wrong with Big G?"
"It's blasphemous." She huffed.
"What do you mean, who?"
"Who says that calling him Big G is blasphemous?"
"Well…" She didn't appear to know the answer.
"We can always consult the Bible, just tell me which passage to seek out." The corners of my lips curled up.
Hah.....couldn't help it.
Her eye twitched again, and for some reason, I couldn't help but enjoy her reaction. I looked over to Raikou, who didn't even want to acknowledge Ruler if she didn't have to.
"I'll just order a bunch of stuff for all of us." I stated, earning a sigh of relief from Ruler
"Master~ Say 'ahh' " Raikou held a fork up to me as I took a bite.
"It's good." I happily replied, earning a bright smile from my Servant. "What about you, Frenchie?"
"My name isn't 'Frenchie'" she grumbled taking a bite. "But it is delicious, thank you."
"Well, I can't just start calling your real name in public if you want." I chuckled, only to stop in realization. "Huh, I never did properly introduce myself, did I?"
"I wanted to ask you a question…..but I didn't know what to call you." She said awkwardly.
"Hmm." I hummed to myself for a moment. "I'll obviously keep my family name a secret for the moment, feel free to call me Wilhelm." I introduced.
I did have a bit of pride in my name, but I was fine to keep it hidden for now.
"Wilhelm." She spoke with a small smile. "I cannot reveal my True Name as the administrator of the –"
"Even if you made it rather obvious?"
Her eye twitched again. "It's a secret I must keep."
"Please call me Ruler."
"Whatever you want, Jeanne."
Ruler let out a long sigh. "I've been curious…." She looked like she wanted to change the subject. "What is your wish for the Grail?" She looked at me intently.
"Curious? Why would you be curious about my wish?" I waived my hand flippantly. "Shouldn't you expect me to say something like 'seeking the Root' as a proper Magus?"
"Maybe." She pursed her lips. "But you don't seem to act like how I would expect." She admitted. "My dealings with both sides so far have been…."
"stressful?" I offered with a chuckle.
"That is one way to say it." She let out a sigh.
"Let me guess. Lancer of Red tries to kill you for some reason, Saber of Black comes to your rescue and his Master tries to recruit you?"
"I am impartial, I will not reveal any information to other participants in this war." She said firmly, not acknowledging what I said as either right or wrong.
But I could read in between the lines here.
She continued. "You have been…. generous in providing me aid and haven't sought anything in return. I was merely curious about what you wished to achieve if you gained the Grail."
"What if I wanted to drown the world in death?" I just thought of the most edgy thing I could think of off the top of my head to see her reaction.
"I have a duty to be impartial, your wish has no bearing on how I will act unless I'm forced to by the World." She said without hesitation. "But my instinct is telling me you do not wish for such a thing."
"Instinct, huh? Is that another way of saying that you're being pinged by Heaven's system – Revelations as they're called?"
"Heaven's System?" She tilted her head in confusion.
"Different vernacular I suppose. The means by which followers of the Church can access the 'power' of the Heavens. There are rules and requirements, what else to call it but a system?"
"Oh." She seemed to understand, but otherwise wasn't offended. "Is that how a Magus understands the Lord's blessings?"
I just shrugged. "I can understand it on a theological level, I'm just...incompatible with the teachings."
"Hmm." She looked at me strangely. "You never answered my question, what is it you wish for?"
"Hah. I didn't think you'd notice." I tapped my finger on the table, and for the first time in this conversation, Raikou started to pay attention. Well, she was paying attention to my answer. "I'm a very selfish man. Someone I cared about is gone and I want to bring her back."
"Someone you cared about?" Ruler's eyes lit up.
"Someone you care about?" Raikou mimicked her words, and her expression turned a bit dark.
"I misjudged you, Wilhelm." Ruler's eyes brightened. "You are fighting for love!" She proudly declared, briefly glancing to the increasingly annoyed Berserker.
"W-what?" I sputtered out.
"How romantic." She exclaimed, reaching over and cupping my hands. "I can't help you, Wilhelm. But I will silently support you." She smiled brightly. "To fight for such a pure reason, to willingly fight against Servants out of love."
There was a crumpling sound next to me where Berserker crushed part of the table in her hand. "Master." Raikou's smile betrayed the killing intent around her.
I turned back to look at Ruler. "You're doing this on purpose."
"I have no idea what you speak of." Ruler gave a very innocent smile. "As you know, us French are very enamored with such beautiful love stories."
Did she just….?
[Are Saints allowed to do that?]
I have no idea.
[I like her.]
"Well played, Ruler, well played." I would give her this one, even if the look Raikou was giving sent made shivers go down my spine.
She must have noticed my Berserker's affliction since she could see Raikou's class and skills.
"Don't mind me, I'm just speaking from my heart."
I couldn't help but laugh. "I wish all Saints were like you." I shook my head at the absurdity of this whole thing. To poke at me using only truthful words, well done. I reached over and pat Raikou on the head, soothing the seething look she was giving me. "Well, you asked me a question, I have one for you too, Ruler."
"I don't mind answering as long as no rules are broken." She said with all honesty.
"Would you despise me if I turned out to be the anti-thesis to your beliefs?" I was honestly curious to know her answer.
Saint Jeanne D'Arc.
She was someone who would not lie.
"Anti-thesis?" She seemed confused.
"Hmm, lets say it turned out I was a Demon, but nothing else changed. Would you think differently of me?"
"If you were a Demon?" She seemed surprised by my question. "I don't see how that would change anything." She looked down at the table. "Humans and Demons are just words, I don't believe there is any need to differentiate between them. I bear no ill will towards such descriptions and I try to be kind to all."
"You are a strange woman." Raikou was the one who spoke up. She glared at Ruler, as if measuring her. "I strangely do not wish to crush this insect for the moment."
"I hope we don't become enemies, Ruler." I stood up from my seat, looking out the window. The Sun was starting to get a bit low.
"I pray for your success, Wilhelm." Ruler said with sincerity.
"Hey Raikou." I glanced at Berserker who was walking at my side.
"Yes, Master?" She smiled at me.
"Thanks for answering my summons." I wanted her to know I did appreciate her. She seemed upset about earlier, I at least wanted to sooth her annoyance a little bit.
"Master~" Raikou quickly wrapped me up in a tight hug.
Yeah, I was happy it was Raikou who answered my summons. "You ready for what's to come?" I asked her, as the night approached.
"Have you devised a plan?" She asked.
"Yes, we need to find where the Grail is specifically held within the Yggdmillennia Castle. I don't have confidence in infiltrating somewhere so heavily defended without getting discovered." If I simply knew the location, I could pop in and grab it. The only issue that comes after is carefully severing all the little bits that are anchored into the local Leylines. Which would take time, and I doubt I would be left alone while doing so. To not do so would be like pulling an engine out of a car with my bare hands. Things were bound to break in the process.
I really meant it when I said I hope Ruler doesn't become my enemy, but I feared it may be inevitable
"No plan survives contact with the enemy and all that. But, we need to see how both sides move and go from there. If there is a wide-scale battle, that's in our best interest. But we can make do with some small clashes as well."
"Are we going to prepare for the coming battle?" She asked.
"I doubt things will immediately escalate once the sun fully sets, so we probably have a little more time." I shook my head. "There was one thing I wanted to check out. Sir Wiggles found an abundance of Magical Energy at a nearby cemetery. Based on what he transferred through our link, a Servant summoning might have taken place there."
Raikou's lips thinned. "You believe a Servant is still there along with their Master?"
"Worth checking out, may also find a clue or two on any Servants we hadn't seen before. That priest was the only Master of the Red faction we've seen so far, and he doesn't seem like the type to do the summoning in a graveyard. Nor do any of the servants revealed appear to have benefited from such a summons, so I'm guessing we have an unknown here."
"If there is only one Servant, then you will not need to fight, Master." Raikou stated, and the look on her face left no room for argument.
I held my hands up in surrender. "If there's only one servant, I won't throw myself at them and support you from behind."
Omake -- The horrors of the Kaleidoscope.
"There, there, it's okay." I ran my hand through Wilhelm's, hair as he laid his head on my lap. Any other time, I may have enjoyed the intimate exchange, but he was being rather unresponsive.
"I'll never sleep again." He cried out.
I do not know what he saw, but it left him like this and I could do nothing but try and sooth him. He walked out of Zelretch's office and immediately planted his face into my thigh.
"Yo, what's up with Schweinorg?" Rin walked into the room.
"I do not know, he apparently had witnessed something quite severe to be left like this." It was honestly a bit concerning. Mayhaps I would need to take drastic measures to cheer him up, Jinn taught me a few things I felt comfortable doing.
"Oh, stop being a baby." Rin scoffed. "What even happened?"
Wilhelm raised his hand up towards Zelretch's office. "Another Zelretch dropped in to visit."
"Wait, the Old Man has another version of himself from a parallel world, here? How!? I thought that was impossible." She looked utterly baffled.
I did not know much about their Magic, but such a thing sounded impressive to me.
"Hard, not impossible." Wilhelm mumbled into my thigh.....of which he then squeezed, making me shake my head. I guess it wasn't as bad as I assumed if he was still willing to touch me like so.
"Oh, I gotta see this." Rin perked up.
"Don't go!" Wilhelm shot his head up, staring at my Master.
"You're being so dramatic." Rin rolled her eyes. "Seriously, what's so bad about another Zelretch?"
Wilhelm huddled himself into a ball. "The horror." He muttered.
"Yeah, okay." Rin said dryly. "Going to ignore that." She began walking towards his office, and open the door without hesitation. "Hey, Old Man, heard there was another 'you' around, wanted to see." She said plainly.
"Ara Ara~" A VERY feminine voice answered back. "If it isn't Rin-Chan." I couldn't help but pause and stare at Rin's back. The angle meant I couldn't see, but a shudder went down my spine. "You can call me Zelretch-chan while I'm here." Her giggle reaching even my ears.
Rin, very wisely, closed the door and turned around, walking back to us. she didn't speak, but the blank look on her face said everything as she got on my other side and also curled up into a ball, resting her head on my other thigh.
"There there." I pat her head, same as my boyfriends.
"The horror." She whispered.
Small omake that popped into my head from chatting in discord.
So, guess which knight makes an appearance! And Jeanne being snarky without being snarky.
Anyways, if you want to read 7 chapters ahead, visit my pat.reon.com/astoryforone