Artoria followed behind me as we moved through the compound. I actually didn't know where Yasaka was, nor where the main fights were happening.
Every so often, I could find some people, usually able to tell who is the enemy and who isn't.
There were some surprisingly powerful foes that popped up. And equally surprising, there were friendlies who engaged them. Honestly, I did not expect this faction to have such powerful combatants waiting in reserve like they were.
Several who would fit under the banner of 'ultimate class', even if that whole system of measurement was basically malarkey.
"How you doing on mana?" I quickly asked as we scaled a rooftop to get a better view.
"I'm full, and I was given this." She took out a jewel I didn't recognize, but I could see it was full of Rin's magical energy. "Zelretch said it should work for an emergency."
Ah, good thinking. Though, it wasn't a perfect recovery tool for her magical energy. Since she was a servant, a spiritual being, she couldn't generate magical energy as if she were 'alive'. And trying to forcefully drain the jewel of its contents would cause much of it to go to waste, simply running off in the process.
I looked around and noticed a much bigger fight in the distance. Tengu were taking to the skies, and several groups clashing while some large explosions lit up the sky.
Many types of Youkai I couldn't recognize at a glance were joining the fray.
"Wilhelm, there." She pointed a little off to the side, a swirling pillar of mist burst out. "I briefly saw a women with nine tails, I assume that is the woman you are looking for?"
"Yeah….and that should be dimension lost." I muttered.
"Dimension lost?" She asked in confusion.
"Shit, I never did talk about the sacred gears here…..think of them as noble phantasms." I didn't really have time to explain the differences, but I would rather he be wary of the strange weapons than not.
"Noted." She nodded. "Do you have a plan?"
"Yeah." I took in a deep breath. "Teach some kids a lesson they will not forget." I frowned, trying to wrack my brain around who all was in that little faction of theirs.
"Idiots who think they can do whatever they want because of some stuff they inherited from their ancestors or some other nonsense."
"I will follow your lead."
I smiled, holding out my hand as she took it and I pulled us both through a portal right to the big dome of mist.
I put my hand on the large dome and cast my gaze inside briefly. I saw Yasaka battling a group of people and somewhat handling herself, but she was slightly wounded here and there...
Without a second thought, I drew Mirage and pulled on the Kaleidoscope.
With a slash, I cut through the false dimension that was cutting off the fight from the outside world.
The mist dispersed aggressively, stopping the fight as all eyes turned to us.
"Wilhelm!?" Yasaka called out as she retreated several yards back.
"YOU!" I saw Georg shout from the corner of my eye.
The 'hero' faction.
More of them that I didn't recognize off the top of my head.
"I guess the lesson I taught you last time wasn't enough." I lazily replied, not giving him much attention.
Yasaka quickly reached our side, perhaps trying to buy herself a moments respite. "Kunou, where is she!?" Her eyes practically dilating.
"She's with my grandfather, completely safe." I gave her a reassuring smile.
Yasaka let out a long breath. "Good." She said quietly.
A big boulder a bit away started trembling and a large man climbed out of some accumulated rubble. "Fucking bitch." He spat as he stood up, dusting himself off.
"Friend of yours?" I raised an eyebrow, glancing at Yasaka.
She sneered. "Idiot calling himself Hercules, said he was going to harm my daughter."
Ah, the idiot who boasts about having inherited the spirit of Hercules, and i looked around and noticed a blonde girl. If I recalled correctly, she is the same but with Jeanne D'Arc.
I paused, reining in my quickly flaring temper. "Did he now?"
"What about you?" Her eyes turned to Artoria, standing to the side. "I don't believe we met."
"She's the one who I grabbed to heal Kunou before."
"Greetings, I am Artoria." Artoria stated.
"Wilhelm, is it?" Another voice cut through the tension in the air. I recognize the person and the spear he held at a glance.
"Cao Cao, are you trying to run your ancestor's name through the mud even more than you have already?" I didn't want to hear any spiel he was going to give.
"So you do know me."
"Well, usually I don't remember dumbasses, but kudos, you are leagues above the common rabble."
He frowned, I don't think he was used to people insulting him so blatantly. "This doesn't concern you, why are you risking your life for these…..Youkai?"
"Are you trying to find common ground with me, perhaps convince me to step to the side?" I rolled my eyes. "Besides, saying I'm 'risking my life' implies anyone in your little posse can even take it."
I was going to break him.
"I could snap you like a twig!" Hercules shouted. "A little magician and a little girl he brought with him, why are we even talking?"
"A little girl?" Artoria quietly repeated, a small twitch of her eyes told me exactly how she felt right now.
I grew up on the internet, insults don't really phase me…..but I'm sure it's an entirely different matter for her.
"He's all yours." I smiled towards my girlfriend, eyes not leaving Cao Cao.
I wanted this little faction of his to be destroyed before I finish dealing with him.
"What, am I supposed to be scared of her?" He laughed. "Come on then, little girl, I'll show you a real man." He threw his head back, posing like an idiot. "You can even have the first hit." He didn't even try to hide his laughter.
Artoria didn't answer, instead her magical energy exploded off her. Armor formed around her body, her armaments manifesting from within. Her Dragon's core practically roared to life as everyone in the area felt her presence.
She moved before most people here could even understand what was going on, a fist buried itself deep into Hercules's stomach.
I saw everything as I reinforced my eyes. Every moment as his eyes widened, blood flowed out of his throat, and his body practically crumbled and lifted off the ground, only to be blown into the side of the building.
"Oh." Yasaka said quietly, perhaps readjusting some thoughts she had about Artoria.
Honestly, I should have been paying more attention, but one thought was distracting me.
I fucking want her right now.
[Rein in the dragon.]
I don't even care if anyone is watching.
I want to make her mine.
[Maybe she's having some sort of effect on you because of her magical core's origin?]
I reluctantly pushed down those thoughts, with a mental promise for later, when we eventually get to that part in a relationship.
I ducked to the side as a certain holy spear passed by my head.
Oh shit, yeah, god killing holy spear, need to pay attention.
A kid covered in shadows suddenly charged, swiping his hands in the air, shadows rose up from the ground like blades and swept the area. "Oh, sacred gear, noted."
Yasaka bat them away easily enough, the Touki pulsing off her was palpable. "I don't suppose you know anything about them?"
"Edgy kid wearing the sunglasses manipulates shadows with a sacred gear, equally edge name." I spoke, dodging another swipe of the True Longinus.
"That's barely helpful." She deadpanned, stomping on the ground, creating many boulders that she grabbed with her Touki and threw at the shadow manipulator.
My sword swung out, as holy sworda burst out of the ground like thorns. None were powerful by themselves, but holy power was still practically lethal to me. "Discount Jeanne D'Arc can create holy swords, forget the name of that one too."
"I noticed." Yasaka shouted, throwing a large waft of fox fire at edgy-shadow-guy before cracking him across the face with her fist.
That's gotta hurt.
"Words can be hurtful." Discount Jeanne spoke, creating many more Holy swords that burst out of the ground.
Seems like she can do that on any surface.
"Well, you should give it a try, would be a better shot at actually damaging me." I retorted, stomping on the ground myself , raising an earth wall between us. I ducked under the True Longinus, but this time Cao Cao entered my range, using his spear as an actual spear with some degree of mastery.
Despite my dislike for the guy, he was quite good….but he was no Scathach. I gripped Mirage in my hand, deflecting each blow, knocking any his thrusts, and any attempts he made to inject holy power into me.
There was no hesitance to get close to me, he was adept enough to fight with such a long spear in close combat. Hell, he was actually fairly quick.
I wouldn't say he was on par with Okita in terms of pure speed, but his eyes were able to follow my movements.
When I attempted to exploit his openings, he was able to react in time to not be skewered. What an annoying opponent though, he only had to lean into his spear's power to eventually defeat me….from his perspective that is. A decent hit from that thing's edge and I would go down like a sack of potatoes.
"Bindings of Gaia." I invoked one of my 9-realms spells, Whisper doing the casting so I didn't have to distract myself.
The roots burst out of the ground, almost as if they were alive and shot out towards all the enemies in the area. Cao Cao swung his spear around, cutting them, only for more to burst out as he grabbed some distance.
Jeanne flicked her sword attacking the incoming tide with her own barrage of holy swords. Seemingly putting them into a temporary stalemate as it took many swords to fell one large root.
I wasn't done.
"Freezing winds of Jotunheim" I spread my arms out as the deathly cold cascaded out in all directions, taking caution not to encroach on my allies.
Cao Cao slammed his spear into the ground, his holy light surrounding him like a barrier but Jeanne took the brunt of it, a Root grabbing her leg and the cold air catching a stray limb before she could escape.
Her arm did not look to be in good shape, a deep blue color as if all heat in it had died. I didn't have time to mull over the thought as Cao Cao's spear extended towards me again, taking off a few stray hairs.
I decided to cast all my physical enhancement spells, earning a surprise noise from him as I closed the distance and slammed my sword down on his spear, cracking the ground under the blow.
"What!?" He spat out, arms shuddering under the blow.
"Ansuz." I invoked a Rune, shooting it into the distance as the space sort of vibrated, revealing a Georg who was preparing a large-scale spell in a tiny sub-dimension.
Whisper launched up to the sky where he was preparing to cast it, disrupting it with my own runic insertions.
I took a step back as Yasaka launched a kick at Cao Cao who brought up his Spear to block, knocking him back several yards.
"Handle the magician, please." Yasaka looked towards me, bursting from the spot she was in towards Cao Cao and Jean.
"Fine." I muttered, focusing on Georg. Yasaka probably would want her own time beating the crap out of these guys and it was kind of hard to do with a kid who could manipulate dimenions interfereing.
Georg snorted, waving his hand and bringing forth dozens of magical circles, a small smirk on his face.
I raised up Mirage, spell circles began to spin around the blade, my magical energy soared, and the Kaleidoscope vibrated.
"Ether Cannon." Georg's eyes widened as all his spells flailed hopelessly against my cannon, and he shot out the Dimension Lost in an attempt to seal the attack, only for it to push through like the sacred gear was paper.
"GEORG" Cao Cao shouted, an expression of shock on his face for the first time this fight. He tried to run to where the collision happened, but Yasaka intercepted him, laying down attacks with enough force to shatter the area.
Cao Cao took a few good hits, blood running down his face before he regained his footing.
"You don't get to flee from me after attacking my daughter." She growled, the area literally quaking with her steps, even as she reined herself in. She was after her own pound of flesh, the fact that she wasn't going full on fox was telling of how much she wanted to handle this intimately.
"Fuck off, bitch." The shadow kid ran at her, arms wrapped in his shadowy power and started pulling all the shadows along with him.
Thorn of inky darkness shot up out of the ground, they coalesced and reshaped to his whims, all aiming for Yasaka so Cao Cao could disengage.
I looked over to the side and saw Artoria handing Hercules his ass even as he used his sacred gear to attack her.
"Is that all?" Her words echoed across the battlefield as an explosion rang out in her palm where she caught his fist, not even budging.
"What the hell!?" Hercules shouted, his muscled visibly tightening and straining to try and move her but failing miserably.
"Clench your teeth, boy." The only warning his got before she reeled back her fist again.
Oof, those sounds he made sent a shiver down my spine.
If I remembered correctly, his sacred gear caused explosions on impact. She caught the explosion at point blank and didn't even react, must have thrown him for a loop.
I shook my head with a smalls mile, turning my attention back to Jeanne.
Jeanne slammed her sword into the ground with her good arm, a massive dome of holy swords started forming around me.
Cute trick, actually pretty smart, but hopeless.
"200 Birds." I swung Mirage in all directions, destroying the holy sword prison before it could fully form.
She didn't relent, every swing of her sword, many more holy swords followed in its wake, but she was trying to overcome quality with quantity, and she most certainly was not in the best of shape.
I snapped my fingers, several Runic circles appeared above me. "Lightning." I called out, one of my simple arias to invoke my spell as bolts of lightning cascaded down on the one who hosted the spirit of Jeanne D Arc.
Her sword, her rapier, thrust quickly in my directions, intercepting the magical lightning.
Flicking my hand, a few talismans appeared between my fingers. "Three Elements Sealing Formation." I invoked as my three talisman flew out to surround her. They formed a triangular sealing spell, her body became visible stiff as her movements became hampered.
Runes spun around my arm as I pushed them on the ground next to her, reinforcing the spell to a further degree.
"Can you not handle this little girl's blows?" Artoria's fight seemed to get near us as she began taunting him, not even drawing her weapon. I saw her look over here many times, but she didn't move to interfere, probably because we weren't really in any danger.
The shadow guy was keeping Yasaka distracted, purely because he would not stay down. If any sufficiently lethal attack was about to land on him, he would kind of fuse with the shadows and mitigate the damage.
I could tell Yasaka was starting to get annoyed, and I would rather she not start throwing around blows that topple buildings in this constrained area.
I withdrew a certain bloodthirsty spear from my ring, aiming for a moment, the muscles in my arms bulged as I threw it with all my might.
It shot across the battlefield, the magical energy mixed with the intense bloodlust drew eyes from everyone but the shadow user couldn't even react in time as it caught him, carrying him to the side of the building, impaling him through the chest.
I turned to look at Cao Cao who was supporting a very hurt Georg. Mildly surprised he was still alive, even if it wasn't a very strong Either canon, was still an Ether Cannon.
"The irony of impaling the spiritual successor of Connla with Gae Bolg." I spoke towards the holy spear wielder who grit his teeth.
Yeah, Shadow kid inherited the spirit of Cu Chulainn's son, who died to his father's spear. He was kind of forgettable so I didn't remember until a few moments ago.
If looks could kill.
Well, I doubt he's even a fraction as furious as I am about Kunou.
I looked at Jeanne who still couldn't move and nodded to myself. It wasn't the strongest sealing spell I knew, but it was fairly robust.
Artoria threw the beaten body of Hercules on the ground near us. Striding over without even being winded.
Cao Cao was silent, looking around at his defeated comrades.
"Georg, we need Sieg and Arthur." He looked at his barely conscious companion.
Georg was not in good shape, half his body was burnt pretty bad, and I don't think his right arm could even be called an arm anymore.
Cao Cao pulled off a necklace he kept under his collar, a small vial in his hand as he poured It on Georg. A visible phenomenon alighted over the boy's mangled body.
A phoenix tear, interesting.
The tears of the devil phoenix's that live in the underworld, that so called pillar clan. One of the most potent healing items that can be purchased on the market. But even with that, he didn't look all that good.
But he still responded, the Dimension Lost connecting space as two more people walked out.
The aforementioned Arthur and Sieg looked around.
One looked like a typical 'English gentleman' the other wore a priest's coat.
"I'll take the one dressed as a priest." Yasaka walked up next to me, she was looking a bit better, even if she still had dried blood on her.
Sieg looked at her, pulling out two swords. "Balance Breaker: Chaos Edge Asura Ravage" He called out as four more arms sprouted from his back, each wielding a demonic sword, well one was holding a light-sword. "I'll handle the Fox, you get the other one, Arthur." He called out.
A sub species, I believe.
"I guess I am your opponent then?" The other one turned towards Artoria. "I am Arthur Pendragon. I suppose I cannot hold back anything." His gaze briefly swept the broken bodies of his teammates.
Artoria paused, hearing his name. "Are you one of…..his descendants?"
"I am." He nodded, almost uncaring about the battlefield. "It is tradition in my family to name each successive generation after the King, I am not the first Arthur Pendragon. But I have grown accustomed to the name, even if I think the convention is droll." A light erupted from his body, and a holy sword appeared in his hand. "I wield the strongest Holy Sword – Caliburn, prepare yourself."
Artoria narrowed her eyes at the proclamation, I couldn't dare to even guess her thoughts right now. She took her own stance, invisible sword summoned.
The sword this Arthur wielded, it was large, like a great sword, but he wielded it expertly. I could tell even Artoria was mildly impressed by his swordsmanship as she didn't stomp him right from the beginning. But, you could begin to see Arthur getting a bit restless, nearly every move he made was countered with ease and experience he couldn't overcome.
Even with Artoria's smaller stature, he was being dealt blows with far greater weight behind them then anything he could muster. He had to practically retreat on every collision.
They clashed many times, Arthur never even making a comment on her invisible sword as he gradually got used to its dimensions, even able to counterattack every now and then.
I knew Artoria enough to see she was holding back, but I didn't understand why.
In fact, it seemed like they were sticking to purely swordsmanship, like an unspoken agreement between both of them.
Actually….something strange was happening. I wanted to say that Arthur was hesitant to attack, but even looked rather perplexed at what was happening.
After a moment, Artoria even stopped as Arthur's sword swept towards her head. A clean strike, the which could have decapitated her, stopped.
Arthur was straining himself, trying his best to force the blade forward, but it refused to budge.
It wouldn't even touch her skin with its edge.
The sword started to vibrate in Arthur's hands, the holy glow intensified, and Arthur showed a painful look as he suddenly shouted, jumping away, sword falling to the ground and sporting some nasty burns on his hands.
The sword sticking up out of the ground, Artoria stared at it, Arthur looked on in shock as she hesitantly placed a hand on the hilt.
The blade burst out with a golden light, blindingly bright as it began to shift.
"Does it change shape to fit the wielder's desire?" Artoria muttered at the now much smaller blade still impaled into the ground. "Hello, old friend, it has been awhile."
It did in fact do that if I recalled correctly. One of the sword's many abilities.
The new golden words engraved on the sword were easy to read.
Whosoever pulleth out this sword from the stone is rightwise king of all England.
Artoria dismissed her invisible sword, gripping Caliburn tight and pulling it from the ground without any resistance.
"What?" Arthur whispered, clearly in shock. "How? Not even the Church...!? Only someone of his blood should be able to wield that sword..."
"I will be taking this for now, whether you can regain it in the future has yet to be determined." She declared, almost inviting him to disagree with her. "Surrender, this fight is not worth continuing."
Arthur looked down at the sword being pointed at him and raised his arms in the air in surrender seemingly no will to fight in his eyes.
"Well, isn't that something?" Yasaka practically snuck up on me, throwing the body of her opponent ontop of Hercules's prone form. "I believe a few secrets have been hidden from me." She mused.
I guess I was distracted.
"What? How did you defeat Siegfried?" Cao Cao looked at Yasaka in shock.
"Did you seriously believe this brat who hasn't even seen three decades could match me?" She scoffed. "I have ruled over the Youkai in this region for centuries, boy. The only reason I hadn't crushed you all so easily before was that boy manipulating Dimensions, and my unwillingness to cause collateral damage."
"Do you truly think I am defeated?" Cao Cao stood up an edge in his voice, gripping his spear tightly. "The hero always slays the monster in the end."
"By all means, use your balance breaker." I lazily replied. "Make this interesting for me."
He sneered at me. "Balance Breaker: Polar Night Longinus Chakravartin."
The Holy Aura around him exploded out, it became suffocating for someone like me to stand here. A large halo-like ring floated behind him with several orbs. I'm pretty sure each of those orbs corresponds to a specific ability, but the details escape me.
Mirage flew into my hand, Dawnbreaker, Whisper, and Ascalon spun around me, waiting.
I snapped my fingers, A circle of runes burst out underneath Cao Cao, he looked down as they glowed and exploded.
"What an absurd holy power." I couldn't help but comment, as he was completely enveloped in a shield. It was almost like fighting an Archangel.
"Astsusa Ratana" Cao Cao declared as my head snapped behind me, spear being thrust into my back. A pure teleportation, able to slip through my perception, I barely even noticed the space around me shudder.
Was it because of the holy power?
No time to contemplate.
The spire didn't pierce my, my form shattered as I appeared to the side and swiped my sword at him.
"Hmph, lets see how you deal with your weapon being destroyed – Chatsuka Ratana." His spear moved towards my sword, a collision of energy burst out at the meeting point of our two weapons. His eyes narrowed and his expression changed. "WHY WON'T YOUR SWORD BREAK?" He suddenly shouted as he broke off the attack.
"Isn't it obvious?" I sneered. "You're too weak."
He tried to use a weapon breaking ability on me, how adorable. With the Eye of Magnus basically keeping it all together as a Lynchpin, he's essentially trying to destroy a Divine Construct.
"Fine, I will end this in one blow then." He calmed himself, but killing intent was still in his eyes. The holy power around him went another qualitive change, if it was intense before, it was almost obscene now.
I felt a sense of danger at this.
"Balinayaka Ratana" He roared as all the accumulated holy power gathered and released right at me.
"Shield of Asgard" I put out my strongest defensive spell, and I included a Primordial Rune in the creation. It was big enough to envelop both Yasaka and Artoria so they didn't get swept up in our battle.
The buildings behind me were obliterated, and even through the shield, I felt the intense light try to penetrate into me.
"Impossible." Cao Cao muttered as the attack finally died down, to see me standing strong after what was probably his strongest attack. His arms sagged, and his spear no longer holding its powerful killing intent.
Good, his spirit has broken just as his faction has.
Shouldn't have targeted my daughter.
"GAAh" He let out a scream as my swords pierced him from all directions, falling to the ground.
His spear spell next to him with a 'clank'.
….I want it.
[You might be able to take it, it has it's own amount of intelligence.]
[That or kill you, call it a coin flip.]
I'll try later…maybe. I shook my head, putting it into my ring without touching it.
"Well, that takes care of that then." Yasaka walked up to Cao Cao, staring at his unmoving body. My swords returned to my ring, but he still didn't move. I'm pretty sure he's still alive, but none of my business anymore, and I'm sure Yasaka also wants her pound of flesh.
"All yours to deal with." I said towards the Youkai leader.
"You give me the best presents." She cooed.
"Lady Yasaka, I request suitable imprisonment for this one." Artoria walked up, Arthur awkwardly following behind her.
Yasaka stared at him, her rage very much still apparent. "I will…..not execute him, but he will be punished."
"That is all I ask." She nodded.
I didn't speak up, the look in her eyes was rather telling. I could see that Artoria felt some sense of responsibility for the one who claimed to be her alternate's descendant. I would leave it to her to deal with him then.
"Actually, I think they're all still alive?" I muttered looking around and saw Connla still breathing haggardly, having been unable to free himself. Jeanne was still bound, her body a mess and her arm looked dead. Hercules was broken underneath the other one --- Sieg, or rather Siegfried? Pretty sure he might be dead, actually. Georg was a bit better if handicap now, but unconscious and Cao Cao….well fuck him. I paid no mind to the growing pool of blood forming around him.
All's well that ends well.
I guess it's time to clean up this mess.
First off, big shoutout to TheMadLad over on discord who created the new cover art.
So, the chapter. I know a lot of people were hoping for Artoria going full King Arthur or Excaliburing the lot, but honestly, it seemed like a waste back when I first wrote this chapter. I had her 'reveal' planned for later when the Excalibur swords are more prominent. I think, in character, Artoria wouldn't deem them worthy of facing her real sword, especially releasing its true name. All, in all, they weren't a group that required everyone pulling out all the stops and canon kind of just throws power levels all over the place so its hard to get an actual gauge on people's strength. Like, one moment Cao Cao is matching Azazel in his fake sacred gear, you know, an angel who is older than humanity, then next he can get randomly slapped by some brat still in highschool.
Anyways, if you want to read 5 chapters ahead or support me, visit my pat.reon.com/astoryforone