Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 2: The Time of Rebirth has Come
"Summoning a Demon God was not part of the plan for that Singularity," said a handsome man in a nineteenth century outfit. While his looks were those of someone in their early thirties at oldest, something in his speech hinted at a much older age.
"I saw an opportunity and I took it," replied Lev, annoyed at the man talking back to him like this. Who was Zolgen Makiri to critique his motives? "Olga was receptive to Amon's essence, and it was less of a waste than just removing her soul from reality. She could be used as a weapon."
"Yet your weapon lost," said Zolgen, his tone never wavering. The man was infuriatingly calm.
"Amon is not lost," said a third voice. This one was multi-toned, and if Zolgen's voice was of one who was old, then this one was ancient. Lev and Zolgen both bent to their knees as their lord spoke, joining them in the meeting room. Lev kept his head down as the robed figured passed him and didn't lift it until the man had sat and bid him rise. "Both of you may stand. As I said, Amon is not lost, they are just back with us. We are not pleased with this recent loss, but it will do nothing to affect our plan. Instead, we are more interested in this mysterious new Caster we observed and her Master. Lev, explain."
"Yes, my lord," said Lev, turning to face the throne. Sitting on it was a dark-skinned man, not exceptionally large or well built, but still radiating a powerful aura that told even the most unobservant that they were dealing with someone of immense power. Of immense danger. The lord's long white hair was braided, red beads threaded into it. His body was covered in a heavy robe, but underneath Lev knew were tattooed arms. The most chilling part of this man though was his eyes, eyes which stared into your soul, and beyond.
Lev took a deep breath and let it out before speaking. "The female Caster is an unknown Heroic Spirit, one not yet in Chaldea's records, as thin as they are. I could only hazard a guess at what her True Name might be, but it seems to me a fluke that she could defeat a fully powered Demon God. As I see it, I misjudged Olga Marie as a host for Amon, and her spiritual energy and will were too weak to properly sustain Amon. Likely nothing more."
"Are you sure about that?" asked Zolgen, his voice needling into Lev. "What about her Master? How was there someone still able to summon a Servant after your trap earlier? Who is this second Master?"
"Dr Romani Archaman, head Medical Officer of Chaldea. He was supposed to be included in the trap, but he was late to the test and avoided the explosion. He was the reason the other surviving Master, Ritsuka Fujimaru, was also excluded from the fate of the other Master Candidates."
Lev clenched his fists tightly, anger filling him. "But there were no files, public or private to hint that Roman was available as a Master Candidate. Him and Marisbury hid those records. Because he was too much of a coward to risk being pulled into a fight. He's always been like that, even since our school days."
"But he did come to fight," pointed out Zolgen. "And he managed to banish your existence from the Singularity. That is a very specialized magecraft, one that may put him at the level of a Pride, well above yours as a Fes."
"There were no hints that he ever had such abilities," yelled Lev. "The filth cheated, somehow. This is not who he was."
"You are not who you pretended to be either," said the Lord, his voice chilling Lev and his temper. "Regardless, the fact remains that no one can stop our plan now that it is initiated. We will observe, and I suspect I have an idea of the True Name of this Caster Servant. It will be up to you Lev to determine if her Master is worthy of attention or not. Do not fail me again. Understood?"
"Yes, my lord," said Lev, bowing deeply.
Their lord looked to Zolgen. "Does your part progress properly?"
"It does," replied Zolgen. "I have assembled all the pieces and the fog has started to spread. Soon, London will be consumed." A vicious smile. "No knight in shining armor will be able to save them."
"Good. Keep it that way until the moment everything reaches completion. Soon, my plan which has stretched millennia will be complete. There is nothing, and no one, who can stop the elimination of humanity."
Roman stood outside the door to Makeda's room, his hand raised to knock, but unable to go through with the action. His clothes felt unbearably hot and he could feel sweat running down his neck. He licked his lips and swallowed hard. But no matter what he did, he couldn't knock. It wasn't that he didn't want to, it was that he wanted to so much and he just…couldn't. He didn't deserve to.
With that thought, realizing that he wasn't worthy to do so was almost calming to Roman. If he wasn't worthy to do it, then he couldn't do it. He shouldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. He had a lot of other work to do, stuff he was obligated to do regardless of his worth or not. So, with that thought he turned away from the door, feeling guilty but knowing he had other important duties to do. He had an important meeting to call and an organization to run. Too much for a reunion he wasn't ready for. Not yet.
As he turned and walked away down the hall he didn't notice as the door slid open silently and a pair of furry ears poked out of it. A longing gaze, one of someone who had a lot to say but was unable to say it followed him down the hall, staring still as he turned out of view.
"Ritsuka," said Roman, looking across the table at Chaldea's last Master. They were fidgeting in their seat, Mash looking nervous next to them. To Roman's left was Da Vinci and Makeda to his right. Otherwise they were alone in the conference room, one meant to house a fully staffed Chaldea. They weren't even close to that anymore, with the director, a large portion of staff and all the Master Candidates dead or in stasis. All that is, except for Ritsuka and Roman. Which was why this meeting was happening.
"Yes Doctor?" asked Ritsuka. They frowned for a moment, changing from nervous to curious. "Should I refer to you as Doctor or Director now?"
"Uh," said Roman, thrown off by the question. "I…I haven't really thought about that."
Ritsuka held up their hands, waving them in panic. "Sorry, I didn't mean anything by that. I was just curious."
Roman shook his head. "No, it's a good question." He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "It seems weird to go by Director, considering what has happened. I guess technically I'm more like an acting director until a new one gets appointed. But that also sounds a little pretentious. I'm just the chief medical officer, who happens to be running the show for now. I guess Doctor would be the best?"
A smile and a nod. "Understood," said Ritsuka. "What did you need to talk to me about, Doctor?"
That sounded much better, and Roman gave a small smile before responding. "It's about continuing on as a Master of Chaldea. You fixed Singularity F and completed the First Order, but there's still seven more to fix to prevent the Incineration of Humanity. I wanted to make sure that you were willing and able to continue with the Grand Order of fixing all seven?"
"Of course," said Ritsuka, looking resolute.
Roman looked over to Mash. "I have the same question for you as well. Mash, are you able to continue at Ritsuka's side?"
There was no hesitation as Mash nodded. "I am."
As she spoke, Roman had the image of an emotionless, expressionless young girl staring at him from an observation room. No fire had been in her eyes then, no desire. But now her eyes burned with determination. To fight for and save humanity. The sight soothed him, made him realize that he had been making the right choices.
Ritsuka smiled at Mash. "Thank you Mash. It'll be great to fight with you. Doctor and Makeda as well."
There it was, the sticking point. How to go about it? "About that," said Roman, feeling uncomfortable with what he was about to do. "I won't be able to join you in the Singularities."
Confusion on the faces of Ritsuka and Mash. "Why not?" asked Ritsuka, visibly deflating.
"Well," said Roman. He couldn't tell them the truth, that he suspected who was causing the incineration of humanity and that he needed to stay hidden until the last minute. That, despite having a Servant neither he nor Makeda could risk going into a Singularity and acting directly. "I was never supposed to be a Master Candidate."
"Why not?" asked Ritsuka.
"Roman doesn't have the qualifications," said Da Vinci. He hadn't told her anything, but like usual she seemed to have picked up on what was going on. "His magical circuits aren't compatible with the Servant summoning process. It's honestly a miracle he's still standing."
"That is correct," chimed in Makeda. She gestured to Roman. "My very presence is sapping his mana. If I was to go all out again, I might kill him. We are very lucky it worked the first time. He is barely awake right now."
Roman was impressed by how bad the two women were at lying. Not that he was much better at it, but Ritsuka and Mash were sure to see through such poor-
"You just rest then, Doctor," said Ritsuka, leaning across the table. "Mash and I can handle this, right?"
"Of course," replied Mash, her expression painfully trusting.
He winced inwardly. Here they were, a bunch of adults lying to the children they were supposed to protect. Putting them into a life or death situation. But if they didn't, then everyone would probably die anyways. It was an awful situation all around. But that didn't mean he couldn't do anything to help improve it.
"Thank you for understanding," he said. "In addition, as the sole surviving senior officer, it's up to me to lead the remaining members back in Chaldea, so my efforts will be better suited to staying back here. Luckily, while I shouldn't go into the Singularities, I'll still be able to help you from over here."
"We should train them," said Makeda, surprising everyone at the table. She looked at Roman. "It might not be safe for you to enter a Singularity, but together we can still give them advice and combat experience, right?"
Da Vinci nodded. "That's a good idea. We can get you set up in the simulator. You can spend some time in there while we work on locking onto the coordinates of the Singularities."
"Well?" asked Makeda. "What do you think, Master?"
Roman glanced around the table and saw the expectant looks of Mash and Ritsuka, the pair looking excited at the prospect. He let out a sigh. A smile. "I think that's a great idea. But won't I be needed to find the Singularities?"
"Nope," said Da Vinci immediately. "You'll just get in the way standing over everyone like an impatient teacher."
"That was fast," said Roman. Laughter rang out in the room. He joined in, feeling better about the path he had chosen. This was the right choice; he could feel it. Not a supernatural feeling, just a gut one. He pushed his chair back and stood up. "Ok, then we'll get started immediately."
"Mash," said Da Vinci, cutting in. "Could you show Ritsuka and Makeda the simulator? Explain to them how it works. Roman and I will be along shortly, we just need to chat quickly."
A nod. "Understood," she said. "Right this way please."
Mash and Ritsuka left the room without even looking back. Makeda's gaze lingered momentarily on Roman before she too left, the door sliding shut behind her. Roman turned to Da Vinci. "So, what's this chat about?" he asked, honestly confused.
Da Vinci's expression was serious as she locked eyes with him. "We're lying to them; your readings are fine. Which of course doesn't match up with the data we have in your file, but for now I'm keeping that from everyone else. Before we go any further, I need to just confirm some things with you so that I can agree to this plan."
He let out a heavy sigh. "I think I know what you're going to say."
"That magical signature I read underneath your glove during Makeda's summoning and your fight with Lev, what is it?"
"King Solomon's tenth ring."
"And you have it because you're him reincarnated, correct?"
"That's a good guess, yeah." He was honestly impressed. This must be how people in his past life felt like when dealing with him.
A shrug. "I just chose the least possible answer and went with that first. You were either him or a relative. Having that ring and being able to summon the Queen of Sheba point heavily to that. There's no file on who the first Servant summoned by Chaldea was, but my guess now is King Solomon, and somehow that led to you being reincarnated as Roman."
He nodded. "Marisbury and I won the Holy Grail War in Fuyuki in 2004. He wished for assets on which to build Chaldea, I wished to see how living like a human was. I was born into the past, lived my life, attended the Clock Tower where I met Lev, then was given a special invitation to join Chaldea in 2005, only a few months after when our Holy Grail War concluded."
"That's a bit of a confusing timeline," said Da Vinci. "The Grail sure has some impressive abilities."
"Marisbury and I already knew the respective methods to achieve our wishes, so the Grail was able to use those frameworks to grant what we need with its considerable mana."
Da Vinci brought her hand up to her chin, cupping it as she thought. "And the ring and your spiritual connection is what allowed you to summon Makeda."
"That would be correct," he said, sighing. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Honestly, I never expected to see anyone from my old life ever again. Especially not as I remember them. I must seem so different to her after all this time, I'm not really like how I used to be."
A smug smile. "Feeling self-conscious?"
"Of course not," he said.
"Oh?" She didn't sound convinced. "If you're not feeling self-conscious, then why did you stand outside her door for half an hour refusing to knock?"
"How do you know about that?"
"Everyone in Chaldea knows, except maybe Mash and Ritsuka," replied Da Vinci. "A dozen people walked past you, me included, without you even noticing us. Everyone else saw you from down the hall and just watched."
He felt his face turning red. "That…can't be true…"
Da Vinci smiled mischievously. "It's not. I just saw you on the cameras when I was doing my daily security checks. But you were zoned out the entire time."
"Only because Magi Mari won't answer my question! I messaged her immediately and was like, 'Magi Mari, someone I know from my past has reappeared, what should I do?' and she was like, 'Haha, lol. Mushy couples should just struggle and fail on their own.'"
"You really shouldn't rely on internet idols for love advice. Those types of people tend to be hopeless in matters of love."
"You have any advice then?"
Da Vinci puffed out her chest proudly. "Of course not. My life is about achieving art and beauty, no time for love."
He looked at her skeptically. "None at all?"
Her expression turned sad. "None that I was allowed to have."
"Don't be," said Da Vinci. "When this is all over if I feel like it, I'll either find someone I'm interested in or I won't. That's my choice now. That's what matters."
Roman considered that for a moment. "A new lease on life, a new chance at experiences you missed, I guess?"
A nod. "Exactly." She held out a finger and poked him hard in the chest. "That goes for you as well. You might not have had a choice in your old life, but you do now. Do what you want to do. No buts."
He was about to argue, but then realized that there was no use. She was right after all. Instead he smiled. "Thanks. I'll do that."
"Good," said Da Vinci, putting a hand on his shoulder and turning to lead him out of the room. "Now, we've got a training session to start. Pull yourself together and let's get to it. Humanity won't save itself after all."
Roman stood outside Makeda's door once more. This time it had only been a few seconds instead of long minutes. He took a deep breath and knocked, the sound ringing in his ears. This was a bad idea; he didn't have a plan and his chances of success were low. He didn't even know what success was supposed to look like. He should just leave now and-
The door opened and he was soon standing face to face with her. Despite having just gone through a training session, she looked as fresh and poised as ever. He was suddenly self-conscious that he hadn't even bothered to take a shower afterwards.
"Yes?" she asked. Roman thought he heard relief in her voice, but he figured he might just be imagining it. It could as easily be annoyance. They had just been together barely ten minutes prior and he had said very little to her that wasn't instructions and orders. Only business, no pleasure.
"I, uh, wanted to talk," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Are you free?"
A quick nod. "I am," she stepped aside and gestured into her room. "Come in?"
He entered, the door closing behind him. On the bed in a pile napped Achat, Shtayim and Shalosh. There were no other personal effects since this room had only been hers for a day. He sat down on a chair, with Makeda taking the bed. Both sat in silence for several minutes, just staring at each other. Why was this so hard? It's not like he hadn't done this type of thing before. Wait, how had he done this before?
"Something on your mind?" asked Makeda, the first to break the silence.
He let out a heavy sigh and gave a self-deprecating smile. "I'm just wondering how I did this before. You know, talking to you."
She became thoughtful at that, her left ear twitching in thought at the top of her head. "If I remember correctly, you made a big show of serving heavily spiced food with little water. When I retired to my chambers, I was then thirsty, went searching for water, and you would only give me some if I returned to your chambers with you."
He was briefly horrified and impressed at the audacity of his past self. "Wow, I was a jerk."
She laughed. "If it makes you feel better, I knew the plan from the beginning. It was a clever little scheme." A wink. "I had some water left in my bag as well. It gave me a good excuse to talk to you. Privately."
"How did royal procedure make this easier?"
"Because we both knew the rules to follow, and how to break them," she replied. "Although, you are my Master now, so if you wanted to talk you could summon me whenever you want."
"I didn't mean to become your Master," he replied. He winced, realizing how that sounded. "I mean, I'm happy to see you again I just don't know what expression I should be making."
Makeda frowned, looking unsure of herself. "I do not know either." She looked down at her lap, her ears flattening slightly against the top of her head. "My memories end at my death, but you have been reborn here for an entire new life. How can I chain you to the past?"
Roman was surprised to hear that. He instinctively reached out, but pulled his hand back, staring instead at the place his ring rested. "It's true that my old life was just one large chain, binding my freedom. I was never born with any and had to live my life as the ideal king chosen by God. There was nothing else for me. Being reborn was my first choice of my new life, but it wasn't the first choice I've ever made."
She looked at him in mild confusion. He continued speaking, "I chose to talk to you that night, and methods aside, I don't regret that. I'm just…unsure how to restart that relationship, if I even can. I'm a different person now."
"So am I," replied Makeda. "We are bound by different laws now. We are not kings; we are Master and Servant in the modern era. Bond together not as rulers, but as partners. And…if you are interested in having a relationship like we had before…I…"
Her words were cut off with an embarrassed blush, and Roman felt his cheeks getting hot as he caught her implication as well. "I might like that as well." Then he added hastily, "if you don't mind that is."
"Of course not," she said excitedly, nearly leaping off her bed. Her ears perked up. Her excitement dimmed as quickly as it appeared though, and she looked down at her lap once more. "There is something I need to tell you first."
"What is it?"
"When we were fighting Amon, I did something without telling you. I have been trying to figure out how to tell you all day, but I was unsure how to approach the situation." A heavy sigh. "Arba', you can come out now."
Roman frowned at that. "Arba'?" he asked. Achat, Shtayim, Shalosh. One, two, three. The Three Enigmas Makeda had at her control. Arba'. Four. That wasn't an Enigma she had. Until now. From the pile of furry forms came a small, four horned creature. On her head glowed an orange Dalet. The feature that stood out most to Roman though was the small braid of white hair that hung down her head in a familiar style. "It can't be…"
Arba' climbed into Makeda's lap and laid down. She started to stroke the Enigma's back gently. "While Shtayim was inside Amon, I felt the flame of this little one's soul still inside. I directed Shtayim to surround and remove her."
"That's how you defeated Amon," said Roman. "You removed the soul anchoring the Demon God to this world."
A nod. "Exactly. When she was removed, I had a choice. Let her pass on or give her another chance at life. She did not want to go, so I created a fourth Enigma, reincarnating her as a new life. I know that you knew her in her past life, so I was unsure what you would think or how to tell you."
Roman stood from the chair. Makeda's ears flattened slightly, her expression uncertain. He moved in front of her and knelt. He held his hand out to Arba'. She looked up, sniffed his hand, and licked it. His emotions came crashing down inside him, tears leaking out uncontrollably. "Thank you," he said, gasping slightly. "Thank you for saving her."
He just knelt there, sobbing with emotions he hadn't known he'd had. He barely noticed as Makeda's hand reached out and started to gently stroke his hair, her own voice filled with relieved happiness. "You are welcome."
The fourth Hebrew letter, Dalet (ד), given the numerical value 4 (Arba').