Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything associated with it.
Thanks like always to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter for me.
Fate/ Zero: Lingering Wills
Ryuudou Temple, Fuyuki, Japan
December 31 st , 1999
"Master," asked a nervous looking apprentice, glancing around the dark forest. "Is this really the place?"
"Of course, it is," replied the master, annoyed. Around him were the cream of the crop of his students from the Clock Tower. Mages who had graduated with honors or were about to. Top of their class. And all extremely loyal to him. That was the most important part. His goal was only a short trek through the forest, and he didn't need his students needlessly worrying at this point. But he guessed he also owed them some explanation in exchange for their loyalty and assistance. "My reports and scrying are all reliable, and they say this is where our target has been for the last several years."
"This used to be a Buddhist Temple, right?"
"Correct. Before the events of five years ago, this was a temple to that religion. I doubt any of the monks that were here realized just how powerful of a leyline they sat on top of, but to Mages this has been a spot of interest for centuries. It should be no surprise the that our target is residing here."
"But why are we going through this forest? Isn't there a path up?"
The Master let out a heavy sigh. He had scraped the barrel with this particular apprentice. He would need to revise his assessment later. "Why would we ever attack an enemy from the front? Think tactically."
"But why would it matter?" asked the idiot apprentice. "They would at least have a bounded field up to sense for enemies, wouldn't they?"
"Of course not. First, the enemy isn't a mage, such a thing isn't in their abilities. Second, if there was a bounded field, I would know about it and it would already be disabled. No one knows we're here."
"Are you so sure of that?" asked a commanding voice. The Master looked around and saw a blonde woman with piercing green eyes. She was in a well-tailored black suit. In her hand was a flowing mass of air, invisible to the eye, and at her feet were his three top apprentices, all unconscious. "Leave now and you will be spared. If you do not take this warning, then your life will be forfeit."
His apprentices looked ready to flee in fear just from the pressure the woman exerted. Suppressing his own fear, he held up his hand and quickly fired off a powerful magical bolt. It struck the woman with a bright explosion, obscuring her. He charged his mana and fired again as quickly as possible. Seeing him take the initiative, his apprentices raised their hands and fired. A barrage, bolt after bolt after bolt struck the woman She couldn't be seen through the smoke and multi-colored explosions.
"Halt!" ordered the Master, cutting off his attacks. His apprentices did the same, a few straggling bolts hitting home for good measure before everyone was done.
"Is that it?" asked the idiot. "That was the guardian, right?"
"Of cour-," said the Master, suddenly being cut off as a shape moved swiftly out of the smoke and the wind left his lungs. He folded over, seeing his own legs and a rain of blood right before his upper half hit the ground and everything went dark forever.
Arturia stood by the bisected halves of the mage who had been issuing orders. She was now in her armor, unharmed from the weak attacks that had been sent her way. She held up her magically sheathed sword to the mage who had been questioning their purpose here. "Leave," she commanded. "Now."
To his credit, the mage only looked slightly terrified as he looked at the other mages and took command. "Grab those thee and head back the way we came. We're going home." A pause. "Leave the Master."
The mages moved quickly, picking up their fallen and heading back down the mountain. Arturia watched them go, never relaxing until she felt their presences disappear from the area. Assured that the mountain was now secure, she headed back up to the abandoned temple. It had been through grudging necessity that she had taken over the holy site. It was both defensible and one of the few places that she could properly maintain her existence.
Once inside the temple she moved aside some heavy stone slabs that were camouflaged to look like the floor and headed down a set of stairs into a hidden chamber. The only thing in the chamber was a large golden cup. Kneeling before it, Arturia gently brought the cup into her arms and against her chest.
Do not worry Irisviel," she said softly to the Grail. "I will protect you, forever and always. Nothing will ever tear up apart again."
The Grail did not respond, but she felt a presence in the room with her. Arms she could not see wrapped around her from behind, holding her gently. It was moments like this that she lived for now. Nothing else mattered. Outside, the dawn rose, ushering in a new year, but inside the room there was only the soft light of the Grail.