21 A Reason To Fight

Aston sat on a random rooftop, peering off into the distance listlessly.

He hadn't donned his armour since the battle earlier and was still in casual clothing, thinking to himself even if he himself noticed that that wasn't like him at all. He didn't ponder too long on the things he'd done lest he fall into the bottomless pit called regret, "Huh." Maybe that was why his hair had lost it's colour.

"Sir Aston, get off there." Artoria released a small sigh, her knight had a strange habit of sitting in high places and.. Well he just sat there in silence. One of the easiest ways to find him was to scour the towers in Camelot, "You've come quite far in your craft." She tried to praise him, it also meant he was mulling over something.

Aston jumped down but still had to look down to meet Artoria's gaze, being considerably taller than the British King, "I must say, is it not unfair that my King addresses me as Sir Aston when I address her as Artoria?" He mused with a hand on his chin.

The Knight of Atrocity had taken up a spot a small distance away from the Emiya Residence, accompanied by the King of Knights.

"That is.." Artoria paused for a moment before nodding, it was the truth, "Then, Aston." It was strangely embarrassing to be addressing him in such a casual manner.

"This reminds me of the King with Caliburn." Aston smiled gently, Artoria had once been an upbeat, kind and incredibly precious if not somewhat naive teen. The days he'd spent in her company then were among his fondest memories, "Do you recall that time you rode into battle on a donkey?"

Artoria ended up flustered, very vividly recalling the tragedy that had befallen her younger self, "Y..You, that was because you convinced me it was the superior mount!" It was so naive to think tricking her was beyond him! "Ah.. the other knights." She hid her face in her hands, only having learnt why everyone seemed so happy later on.

"They were struggling t-"

"I know." Artoria wanted to smack him for that one but couldn't help the smile crossing her face.

Those had indeed been happy days.

Just a young girl going on strange adventures with a band of knights.

"Onto a more serious topic," Aston dropped his smile, noticing that the Sun had started rising in the distance. His Master would be up and about sooner or later and that, would be problematic seeing how she wasn't open to allying with Shirou Emiya, "We've so far identified Caster, Berserker and Archer. Lancer is myself and you are Saber."

"That leaves.." Artoria pondered on the information the Grail had given her for a moment, "Rider and Assassin." While Assassin could be incredibly dangerous, she doubted the possibility because the rules didn't allow going against Masters.. Or at least that was how she'd have thought if not for the fact that she recalled the last Grail War where her Master had done just exactly that.

If Rider was anything like his or her counterpart from the last conflict then that was going to be a problem as well, "Are you confident in your capabilities?" She asked in a strange tone, thinking more like the ideal ruler than what she was as of now.

"I would be but the fact is.." Aston stopped short and shook his head, "It is nothing of importance." Bazett was still his Master and Shirou was technically an enemy. Giving away the fact she didn't have the magical energy to sustain his complete noble phantasm was a betrayal, something a knight could never do.

Artoria shook her head too, "My apologies for asking." She was reverting to her old way of thinking, one she wanted to leave behind. Had it not already proven that it would only lead to destruction? Besides, she had no right to ask anything of Aston, not after how she had allowed his reputation tarnished, "I promise you this however, I would not willingly raise my blade to you." It was impossible.

"And you know of my stance already." Aston gave a small bow before turning to leave, he was going to walk back, take in the sights and all. Certainly a strange notion considering how his stay was only going to be a week or two longer at most but still, he wanted to revisit an age he'd lived in before, "Let us meet on the battlefield my King, preferably as allies lest I thr-" The Knight of Atrocity put a hand over his mouth failing to noticed Artoria who was waving him goodbye had frozen for a fraction of a second at his words.

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Bazett hurriedly wore her black suit, putting on a beige trench coat over it before slinging the case she carried around with her over her shoulder. She then put on tight black gloves, and looked up at the ceiling in thought for a moment.

The Enforcer walked out of her room and was faced with fresh bacon and pancakes, coupled with two glasses one of milk and the other of orange juice. Why was her servant so keen on cooking for people? "Wait, how did you even buy these things?" Bazett was sure she hadn't given him any more money.

Aston appeared near the table, scratching his scar with a small smile, "Funny story really.."

Oh no... Bazett's shoulder slumped as she struggled to maintain a nonchalant demeanour, finding it to be increasingly difficult as she recalled HIS memories. It was pitiful and sad to see him so loyal to a woman who'd used him, caught up in political schemes and felled by rebellion when all he had ever wanted was to help the British people, the same people that loathed and feared him due to those very schemes and machinations.

"Please don't tell me you stole supplies.." Bazett practically pleaded, with his speed he'd be gone before anyone could even notice something off.

Aston gasped, dramatically placing a hand over his chest, "I am deeply hurt that even you would think that of me." He chided with a gentle smile, "There was this man dressed not unlike you.." The Lancer put both hands behind his back, "Something about talents? He had me take different postures and gave me funding, promising that I would be given work." Aston gave Bazett a thumbs up, smiling as if happy, "Of course I did make him promise me this work would not put the innocent in peril or hurt them in any shape or form."

He explained the situation without much pause, more so because he didn't truly understand it himself but wasn't averse to earning easy money.

"You know what? I'm done." Bazett just gave up and took a seat, she would think about this after breakfast. Once she took a bite however, she ended up forgetting the ordeal entirely and was reminded of why her servant constantly claimed he had a high ranked skill pertaining to cooking.

How was she supposed to go back to ordinary food after this?

Aston only observed in silence, deriving satisfaction from his Master's actions. While it didn't come anywhere close to his King's expressions, everyone had a particular reaction to his food, apart from Lancelot because he kept feeding the man bread and water.

The Knight's eyes widened as a strange possibility crossed his mind, had he played a part in driving his dearest friend mad?

Couldn't be right?

As if forgetting the way she'd eaten, Bazett shamelessly pushed the plates away and fixed her collars, "Archer and his Master will possibly be at the same Academy we encountered them in the other night." She wiped her mouth with the tissues Aston had brought over.

"Quite right, it would not do for that young girl to simply cede to the threat that is you, my Master." Aston nodded, folding his arms, "She appeared to be one of those 'I can't get by without being respected!' types that are endlessly stuck in that time of the month."

Bazett went silent, estranged by how well the knight could mimic young girls and be extremely rude at the same time, "She wasn't tha-"

"She was not, the pragmatic mask over her compassion fails to hold." The Lancer hummed, "Quite flimsy, 3/10 but astounding considering she happens to be a magus." The same could be said for his Master who while stoic on the outside, was a gentle yet lonely individual on the inside, "Has the widespread cold pragmatism of magi died out with the passage of time?" What he'd seen so far was hinting at that.

The closest thing to an actual magus he'd seen so far was that priest using children as mana batteries.

"Afraid not." Bazett denied the presumption but didn't wait for the servant to ask further, "We should head to the school too, I know you can beat Archer." She'd seen him play around with the man with her own two eyes even if only in blurs, there was motive again for her to win this war.

For the tragic Knight of Atrocity, she hoped to allow him some semblance of happiness with the Wish-Granting Holy Grail not knowing that the man was already satisfied and incredibly grateful to her for allowing a reunion with his beloved King.

"I still can't understand how I didn't summon Cu Chulainn though." Bazett spoke her mind without realising and covered her mouth with both hands, realising that she was being far too rude.

"Ehem, Merlin decided throwing me to the Shadowlands was an adequate bit of tomfoolery in return for me calling him a manwhore and filling his home with donkeys." Aston nodded with closed eyes before smiling proudly, "The joke is on him however, I gained much from a Godslayer trying to kill me and me trying to kill her." He even appeared pleased with himself for that.


Bazett pursed her lips, stood up and left.

She didn't get Cu Chulainn, she got his, or at least one of his, successor(s).

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