Disclaimer: I don't own Fate or anything related to the series.
Like always, thank you to Blind_Seer0 for editing this chapter. It was a lot.
Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise
Chapter 6: The Time of Revelation has Come Part 2
"Ready to die, clown?" asked Mordred, standing over the fallen Servant Mephistopheles. Makeda watched as the Caster who had attacked them upon introduction started to chuckle. Mordred frowned. "What's so funny?"
"Everything," said the demon. His form started to break apart into golden motes of light, his injuries from their battle taking hold. "You are running out of time and you do not even realize it. How is that not funny?"
Makeda considered those words. Mephistopheles had admitted to killing Jekyll's ally known only as 'The Doctor', whose mansion they stood outside the gate of. They had come to the mansion seeking more information on the demonic fog, but instead found an enemy who spoke only in riddles, laughed and threw bombs. What could be so funny? In the silence of thought, a soft ticking reached her ears. Everything clicked in her mind. "Saber!" she yelled out to the knight. "He is stalling! The mansion is set to explode!"
"What?!" asked the knight. He glanced down at Mephistopheles, who just started laughing more maniacally. Mordred swung his sword, silencing him for good.
Unfortunately, even with the Caster gone, Makeda could hear the ticking, counting down. "The bombs still last without him," she said. "We need to leave."
Mash and Ritsuka looked around, trying to find the source. Upon not being able to do so, Ritsuka gestured away from the mansion. "We need to leave then. Come on!"
Makeda followed that wise course of action, moving away from the mansion, the ticking lessened in intensity as she did. It stung, losing the information contained inside the mansion, but it was better than losing their lives. It was only when she realized that the heavy clank of metal boots was quickly moving away from her that she turned to look over her shoulder. Mordred bust down the metal gate around the mansion with his shoulder, causing it to crash onto the ground. He ran haphazardly over it, headlong across the mansion grounds and into the mansion, lightning surrounding him as he moved at shattering speed.
"That fool," said Makeda, gritting her teeth. Mash and Ritsuka turned as well, concern on their faces. They were clearly considering going after him. She held out her hand before them. "Do not think about it. You will not endanger yourselves. He made his choice; we just need to trust that he can succeed."
"But…" said Ritsuka, clutching their fists tight.
"Quiet please," said Makeda, closing her eyes and focusing all her senses on listening. There was the incessant ticking, no indication of when it would end. Boots on wood, a door being smashed down, books falling to the ground, heavy footfall descending stairs, something opening, and…words? What was- Her ears stood on end as the ticking stopped and she had only a moment to yell out warning. "Get down!"
A dozen explosions spread out from the mansion and grounds, forming a single large fireball. Mash moved forward and held her shield out before her. "Lord Chaldeas!" A large shield formed between them, deflecting the excess heat and small debris. But for the most part, the explosion was contained in the mansion grounds, consuming everything.
And then, unbelievably, as the orange fireball rose into the darkened London sky, a red bolt of lightning shot out of it, Mordred landing in a crouch at the gate of the mansion. Lightning wreathed him, disappearing as he stood. His helmet was off, a bright grin of triumphant on his face.
"Mordred," said Mash, smiling. She approached the knight, clearly happy to see him. Makeda let out a sigh of relief, glad at the sight as well. She raised an eyebrow as she realized that he was carrying something large, larger than he was. Mash stopped right before him as he stood completely and gaped. "Is that…a person?"
"Yeah," said Mordred excitedly. Like a kid who had found an abandoned cat. "Say hello."
"Ngh," said the young red-haired woman, her white dress gathered around her as she lay, bridal carried in Mordred's arms, her arms around his neck. "Uungh!"
When they arrived back to Jekyll's flat, the young man could only look in stunned surprise as Mordred opened the door with his feet and carried the young woman over the threshold and into the building.
"I sent you to get information," said Jekyll. "How did you manage to come back with a bride?"
"I found her in the basement of the mansion," said Mordred defensively. He glanced at her. "Would you like down now?"
A nod. "Uh."
Mordred gently lowered her so that she could stand out of his arms. At her full height Makeda saw that she was taller than Mordred by a decent amount. Interestingly, she sunk into the plush carpet, as if she weighed much more than she looked. She had a metal sphere strapped to her waist, and a metal horn attached to her forehead. She also smelled of oil and death. Makeda's instincts told her that this young woman wasn't a threat, but there was still something off about her. Something unnatural. Just like Mordred and Mash. Strangely though, she was also clearly not a Heroic Spirit. She was alive.
"You good?" asked Mordred.
Another nod. "Uh." Then, the young woman looked away from him, a blush on her face.
Mordred had an oblivious look on his face, apparently not thinking anything of the reaction. "That's that then."
"So," said Jekyll, drawing attention back to himself. "What happened out there? Did you learn anything?"
"We found an enemy Servant," said Makeda. "He killed your ally and destroyed his mansion. Unfortunately, all we managed to retrieve was this girl."
Jekyll studied the girl for a moment. "I don't remember hearing about the doctor having a daughter, or any children for that matter. Who is she? Why was she in the basement?"
"Ugh," said the woman.
Mordred nodded. "She was sleeping." Everyone looked at him in surprise. He stared back as if they were idiots. "In the basement, in the coffin I found her in. It's where she spends her time."
Jekyll sighed. "That is anything but clear."
The knight glanced to the woman. "Want to show them what you took?"
The woman nodded. She reached for the metal sphere around her waist and pushed a button that blended into the rest of the device. A latch clicked and the sphere parted. She reached in and pulled out a worn-out book. She held it out for someone to take. "Uhn."
"A journal?" asked Mordred. Jekyll took the book and started to flip through it. "Who's is it?"
"Doctor Victor," said Jekyll, showing the group the front inside cover. The name was clearly legible on the front. "So, that was his name. There is a lot contained in here. And a lot to read." He paused, his eyes moving rapidly as they scanned the pages. "The newest entries mention something called 'Project Demonic Fog'. The project leaders are listed as P, B and M. It says here that Victor suspected them of being Heroic Spirits."
Makeda considered the information. "That would make a lot of sense, considering the pattern of the other Singularities we have encountered. This information is exactly what we needed."
"So," said Mash, frowning in thought. "To stop this fog, we'll need to find and defeat the Masterminds P, B and M. Hm… Do you think Mephistopheles was M?"
"That crazy clown wouldn't be able to mastermind more than a shitty joke," said Mordred.
"I agree with him," said Makeda. "He was likely working with them, but he himself is probably not this M mentioned in the journal."
Jekyll gestured to the journal. "I'll read through this to see if I can learn any more about Project Demonic Fog. Meanwhile, I have another task for you. A little while ago I got a report from another ally. There's trouble in Soho."
"What type of trouble?" asked Mash.
"Attacks on civilians. Up until now, there have been no reports or incidents of monsters breaking into buildings and harming people, but this report says that a 'large book' has started to do so. We have codenamed it Magical Tome. I need you to investigate these reports and stop Magical Tome if you encounter it."
Makeda considered the new information. "That is troubling. It sounds like this Magical Tome might be a new type of enemy. Possibly a Servant. Although I would not be able to guess at their identity without more information."
"Then we should head out immediately, right?" asked Mash. Everyone nodded in agreement.
Everyone except Mordred. "Yeah, sure. We'll head out in a minute, but I've got something I need to do first."
Jekyll looked skeptically at his partner. "That's strange. Usually I can barely finish explaining a situation to you before you are practically breaking down my door to leave. And as a note, it doesn't close properly anymore. Thank you for that."
Mordred waved his hand dismissively. As he did, Makeda noticed that it was balled into a fist, a piece of paper poking out. "It'll be fine. Just need a moment to talk to our guest." He glanced to the young woman. "Okay?"
"Ugn," said the woman with a nod.
The pair left the front room and exited to the library, closing the door behind them. Mash and Ritsuka shared interested glances. "I wonder what that's about, Senpai?"
A shrug. "Not sure." A bright smile. "Maybe a confession of love?"
A gasp. "After a first meeting?"
"He did save her from an exploding building."
Shutting out the amusing chatter, Makeda focused on listening to the faint voices in the library. Her keen hearing could just make them out.
Of course, it didn't help her to translate grunts and groans.
"Yeah, I saw this note when I found you."
"That's up to you. I don't care much either way."
"Uh uh unnngggh!"
A pause. "Yeah, I know. That's why I'm asking."
"Then I'll tell them."
A laugh. "I've got it all memorized anyways."
The pair reentered the room and the chatter died down as the others looked in anticipation at them. Mordred scowled as he saw the large eyed, expectant looks from Ritsuka and Mash. "What're you looking at?"
"Nothing," said the pair together quickly.
"Did you sort out your business?" asked Jekyll.
A nod. "Yeah. Had a question. Plus, I found out her name," said Mordred, pointing to the young woman. "Can't just keep calling her 'she' and 'her', can we?"
"What's your name?" asked Jekyll, looking at the woman. "What's your connection to Victor?"
The woman didn't answer, glancing in expectation at Mordred. He put a gloved hand on her shoulder. "Don't know nothing about the old man, but her name is Cywyllog."
Jekyll and Ritsuka nodded at that, taking the knight at his word. Mash frowned, seeming to consider something. Makeda for her part listened for the lie in his words but couldn't pick up one. He was always so full of bluster that it was hard to tell when he was lying or not. The name didn't mean anything to her either. What she did notice was the surprise on Cywyllog's face as she heard him. She quickly covered up her reaction with a smile and nod of confirmation, but she had clearly been expecting him to say something else.
"Now," said Mordred, pounding his fist into his palm. "Let's go smash a book. Jekyll, are you fine with Cywyllog staying here? She's a regular human, so no reason to bring her with us."
A sigh. "Fine. Just don't go bringing anyone else here, alright?"
"Jekyll is going to be so pissed!" laughed Mordred as they walked back to the apartment.
Their new companion, a boy who had introduced himself as Hans Christian Andersen, smirked at Mordred. "I guess you're so unruly that you find the necessity of something like this hilarious, don't you?"
Mordred scowled at him. "You want to pick a fight? I didn't see you doing anything against the book."
"I gave you the way to defeat Nursery Rhyme, did I not?" asked Andersen. "Your attacks were unable to hurt it, and your mind would have never come to the conclusion of how to solve that plot point. So, you are welcome."
Makeda took a small amount of pleasure in Mordred's annoyed deflation at the author's words. The young knight had been trying to pick a fight with her whenever they talked, and the more time they spent together, the more he got under her skin. He seemed to have a particular grudge against her, and he was very good at surprising her with complaints constantly. But she put up with it, because they were on the same side and had the same goal. To defeat the Singularity. And, she could tell that he wished to keep Mash safe, which meant their secondary goals lined up as well. That was all she needed.
"Maybe I'll save Jekyll the trouble by shutting you up myself," said Mordred.
"A meathead solution," replied Andersen.
Before it could come to blows, Makeda stepped between the pair, hands out. "Now, now. We are all on the same side. It was because both of you that we dealt with Nursery Rhyme. You make a good team, so try to get along while the fog is hovering over London, okay?"
"Why don't you stop being so nosy," replied Mordred.
"Your type is the one that always butts into personal matters," said Andersen matter of fact.
Makeda felt an ear on the top of her head twitch, despite her best efforts. She managed to keep her face composed, a fake smile on it. "That may be true, but so is what I said, is it not?"
There were grumbles of assent from the pair, and she counted it as a success that they kept moving towards Jekyll's without exchanging blows. As they did, Mash moved to between Makeda and Andersen, looking excitedly at the writer.
"Need something?" asked Andersen curtly.
"I'm a huge fan of your stories," said Mash. "They were some of the first I ever read. I had some questions about them, if you wouldn't mind?"
Andersen looked like he was about to say something rude and dismissive but cut short when he noticed Makeda glaring at him. He seemed to get her message loud and clear, don't you dare be rude to her. So, instead he said, "An avid reader will make better conversation than a metal clad meathead. What did you want to ask?"
Mash ran through the dark London streets, Makeda and Mordred to either side of her. Ritsuka rest in Mordred's arms, holding on tightly. Time was of the essence, and it was faster for them to be carried than follow after. And much safer.
After returning to Jekyll's apartment, they had gotten an immediate distress call from Scottland Yard. The police station was under attack by a powerful enemy and a friend of Jekyll's had sent out the call. Right before being cut off by laughter. Leaving Andersen behind, they had rushed out as fast as they could.
Please, thought Mash. Let us be in time…
Her breath caught in her lungs as they stopped short of the police station, blood and bodies covering every bit of floor space. "It's horrible," she said under her breath.
"It is," said Makeda. Mash realized for the first time how keen her hearing must be. She had heard the ticking bombs back at Victor's mansion after all. "This is all very recent though, the killers may still be around. Keep on guard."
"Understood," said Mash, looking around for any signs of life.
"They're definitely in there," said Mordred, putting Ritsuka down. His helmet was on and he held his sword at the ready. "They don't know what's coming for them."
"Oh, we know plenty," said a calm, methodical voice. A man in a long white coat stepped carefully around the fallen bodies and exited the Police Station, hands up. "We do not know your identity mysterious Saber, but we have seen your handiwork, such as killing Mephistopheles. And for the members from Chaldea, we were told to expect you."
"One of the Masterminds I presume," said Makeda, studying the man.
"Yes, I am-"
"The mysterious P," said Makeda, interrupting him.
P studied her in curiosity. "Mysterious Caster, I must ask how you came to that conclusion."
"You have the air of one in charge, not simply taking orders," she said. "If you're one of the Masterminds, we know that only gives three options. It is then simply a matter of choosing one option and putting it forward with confidence."
"Clever," said P. "Unfortunately, that cleverness will not save you from what is to come."
"Maybe," replied Makeda. Mash saw a shadow suddenly appear in the air behind Makeda. She went to shout a warning, but her warning was unneeded as Makeda's Enigmas appeared around the shadow and each shot powerful balls of elemental magical energy. The shadow let out a quick cry before breaking apart into magical energy. A fog lifted from her mind and Mash realized that an enemy Servant had just been defeated.
"How?" asked P, looking visibly confused. "How did you know that Jack was there? No one should be able to remember her."
"My nature is similar to hers," replied Makeda. "Constantly changing depending on how it is viewed. Plus, I have high magical resistance and had seen her before. It did not take much thought to know that you had back up and who it would be."
"Ah," said P. "Goodbye then." There was a shattering sound as a magical gem hidden in the sleeve of his robe was crushed. Magical energy surrounded him and in the next instant he was gone. The moment after, Mordred's sword struck where he had been standing, cutting a line in the ground.
"Damn it," said the knight, resting his sword on his shoulder. "I hate mages."
"An enemy has been defeated," said Makeda, walking into the police station. "That will make it easier for us to move around. Now, we just need to figure out why they were here and what their next move will be."
The Caster sounded frustrated by something. Mash glanced to Mordred, but his expression was unreadable behind his helmet. He followed her into the police station, still muttering under his breath. She glanced to Ritsuka, and they shrugged. "Guess we'd better get searching as well."
"How come we had to bring back another annoyance?" asked Mordred, lounging on the couch like usual. Mash sat on an overstuffed armchair, enjoying the crackling warmth of the fireplace. Ritsuka sat on an opposite chair, reading a thick paperback they had pulled from Jekyll's bookshelf. Cywyllog lay curled up on the carpet right in front of the fire, her eyes closed in contentment. Muffled voices occasionally came from the closed door of the library where their other companions consulted.
While the more scholarly types among their group discussed what they knew and how to proceed, everyone else had been given some time to rest and relax. Recent events had been moving quicker and quicker, and Mash was glad for the time to catch her breath and think about what had transpired.
Since the Police Station they had encountered P a second time. This time, he had been trying to recruit the newly summoned Caster William Shakespeare to his side. Makeda had finally revealed his identity, that of the famous alchemist Paracelsus, right before a fight had broken out. This time he hadn't run, and instead been defeated for good. One of the three Masterminds behind Project Demonic Fog had been defeated and a new Servant had joined their side. Things were looking up.
"I think Mr. Shakespeare is just very animated," replied Mash. "Isn't it good to always have more help?"
"Maybe," said Mordred. He let out an aggravated sigh. "But why did it need to be another scholar? We already had three. Why not a third knight who could actually get something done?"
"A third knight?" asked Mash. "Who is the second?"
Mordred gave her a surprised look. "I mean you, of course. Who else could I mean? Definitely no one in that room."
"I'm not really a knight," replied Mash. She looked down at the floor. "I might be borrowing the power of one, but I can't even be sure of that. I don't know his name after all…"
"Then just make him tell you," said Mordred. A laugh. "He's always been easy enough to convince to my side before. Just apply a little pressure and he cracks."
Mash leaned forward in her seat, feeling excited. "So, you do know who he is."
"Of course. You do as well, don'tcha?"
"Well…," said Mash, feeling bashful suddenly. Ritsuka was looking at her in curiosity. She sighed. "Yes, I do. You confirmed my guess when we first met."
"Then just tell him to wake up."
"But what if the reason he's not talking to me is because he's sleeping but that he doesn't think I'm worthy?" she said, voicing her long held fear. "What if I'm not worthy of being a knight?"
Mordred sat up on the couch and glared at her. "'Then I'll just tell you what I told him all the time. Stop worrying so much. Just do what you want and act how you want."
"Is it really that simple?"
A shrug. "It's always worked for me." Mash wasn't sure she believed him, but she decided not to say anything.
"Anyway," said Mordred, changing the subject. "I was wondering why you trust that Caster so much?"
"Mr. Shakespeare?" asked Mash, confused by the question.
He shook his head. "No, the woman you came with. The lying king."
"Why wouldn't I?" asked Mash, confused by the question.
"Because she's clearly lying to you," replied Mordred.
A shrug. "Not sure," he admitted. "Probably everything. Lying comes way too easy to her."
Mash frowned, considering. "I guess I trust her because Doctor Roman trusts her, and I trust him."
"What if he's lying to you as well?"
She shook her head at that. "No, he couldn't be."
"Because, he's Doctor Romani Archaman. A boring, internet idol obsessed medical doctor who works for the Chaldea organization. He's exactly what he seems to be."
Mordred frowned. "If you say so. I'm not sure I believe anyone who could summon a Servant like that could be exactly what he seems. People like them, they lie like we breath. Mages are just like that…"
There was a moment of silence as no one knew quite what to say. Glancing down in the awkward atmosphere, Mash saw that Cywyllog, facing away from Mordred, had her eyes open, a sad expression on her face. She glanced back at Mordred as he stood from the couch and started to pace, his face twisted into an annoyed scowl.
"Anyway," said Mordred. "Just be careful. Whether you trust them or not."
Mash considered his words, and what he wasn't saying. She didn't like hearing him accuse Doctor Roman and Makeda, but she also realized that there was more to his words then he would ever admit. After a moment, she responded, "Thank you."
He looked at her in surprise. "For what?"
"For being concerned about me."
Another scowl. "Then if you get it, act like it!" At that he flopped back down onto the couch and buried his face in the book he had been slowly making his way through since they had gotten there.
Mash picked up her own book, the conversation very clearly over. Before she devoted her attention solely to it, she glanced down at Cywyllog. Her eyes were once again closed, but now there was a satisfied smile on her face.
"So, why are we going to the British Museum?" asked Ritsuka, walking next to Mash. Mash had been wondering the same thing when Makeda had told them their next destination but hadn't felt right asking. Everyone but Cywyllog had left Jekyll's flat, a first since they had arrived. Mash prepared herself for possibly the most difficult encounter they had faced yet. Jekyll didn't get a similar protection from Mordred that Ritsuka got from her, but the Casters had been able to create the next best thing. A face mask that would protect him from the demonic fog.
"Because we believe it may hold answers to questions about the Singularities and the Incineration of Humanity," replied Makeda.
"I believe it may," said Mr. Andersen, looking smug. "It is of course the natural progression of this hackney story,"
"And we concur with your instincts," replied Mr. Shakespeare, smiling at his fellow writer's annoyance. "I myself am excited to see what we may find there. My soul is burning with anticipation."
"Didn't we already check out that place when I was first summoned?" asked Mordred, glancing at Jekyll. "The place was totally wrecked, collapses blocking every possible entrance and hallway. Why the change of heart?"
"Because we have mages with us now," replied Jekyll. "What I hoped to find there before was allies, but when there were none left, that meant that there was no further we could go by ourselves. That has changed now."
"Allies?" asked Mash. She was confused by why he would be looking for allies at a Museum.
Ritsuka gained a look of understanding and insight. They looked excitedly around. "Wait, you were looking for the Mages of the Clock Tower, right?"
Jekyll nodded. "Correct."
"Mages?" asked Mash.
"Yeah," said Ritsuka. "It's well known in the Modern Mage World that the Clock Tower can be found through a hidden entrance in the British Museum." A frown. "Weren't you taught that as well?"
She flinched at that innocent comment. Ritsuka still didn't know about her past as a designer baby or that she had only ever lived in Chaldea. She wasn't quite ready to tell them yet either. Not with others around. "My education was very specific. I know about the Clock Tower as an organization, but its location wasn't ever told to me. It wasn't necessary, since I would never be visiting."
Ritsuka looked like they wanted to say something, but they also looked to know that the topic was fraught. So, they kept quiet. Mash made a note to discuss with Makeda about how to best tell Ritsuka, and whether doing so was even the correct path. She would know what to do.
"You see," said Jekyll, continuing the conversation as if a tangent had never happened. "I may know of Magecraft and the world of Mages, but I am not of that world. I can't cast Magecraft of my own, I'm just a simple scholar and amateur alchemist. And of course, Saber, you aren't a Mage either. Neither of us could gain entry, but now that we have Mages with us, they can gain us entry to the secret parts of the Clock Tower that would be hidden from us."
"Do you believe there's allies there?" asked Ritsuka, hopeful.
A shake of his head. "I don't," said Jekyll sadly. "But their records will hopefully be there, and maybe some useful mystic codes. There is likely to be something we can use, and that will make any trip worthwhile."
Mordred cracked his knuckles, his expression hidden by his helmet. "Just tell me who or what I need to hit."
"You will get your chance at violence soon enough," said Makeda. Mash thought that she sounded uncharacteristically harsh and annoyed whenever she interacted with the knight.
For his part, Mordred was clearly harsher with her than anyone else. Which, considering how he interacted with people in general was impressive. "Just don't go trying anything clever while we're in there. I know how you Mages can get while in your towers."
Mash sighed. The pair's bristling and posturing with each other was tiring. She wished she knew why it seemed impossible for them to get along. They were all allies after all. Plus, she liked both of them, and they were both so kind to her, so why couldn't that go for each other as well?
"We are here," said Makeda, ignoring Mordred's words. Mash looked and saw the smashed remains of the British Museum. Rubble from a caved in ceiling blocked every entrance. Her confidence in being able to find anything diminished, the place looked like a warzone.
"So," said Jekyll, glancing around the group. "Who wants to do the honors of clearing our path?"
Mordred stepped forward, his sword out. Electricity sparked around him and his weapon. He let out a fierce cry and slashed through some rubble, turning it to dust. He didn't turn around to face them, but Mash could just see his smug satisfaction in her mind. "Follow after me. I'll cover this and leave the magic bullshit for the Mages. Wouldn't want any of them to hurt themselves with grunt work after all."
Mordred continued into the Museum, smashing his way through the various bits of rubble. Jekyll let out an exasperated sigh and followed, a knife she hadn't known he had appeared in his hand. She had been wondering what, as a regular human, he was doing with them in a dangerous place like this, but both he and Mordred seemed confident he would be fine. That was enough reassurance for her.
"It's nice to have some muscle to do all our dirty work," said Mr. Andersen, walking next to Mash. He made eye contact with her then glanced over to Makeda, who was walking to the side of the group and examining various destroyed artifacts and pieces of art. "This could be done much easier with certain Magecraft. Curious that we're not using them though, isn't it?"
Mr. Shakespeare walked up to the other side of Mash, joining in on what she thought might be a conversation. "Ah, you should not judge a lady so harshly, especially one who is a ruler."
"Wait," said Mash, looking back and forth between the writers. "Were you told her identity?"
A shake of their heads. "Of course not," said Mr. Andersen. He smirked. "But you know, and just gave us a great hint."
Mash silently cursed herself, but also felt impressed by the writer's deductive ability. She decided to inquire later if he would ever be interested in writing a detective novel. She would love to read it.
"It is her bearing," said Mr. Shakespeare. "Of noble birth and training. She may be an existence that is a total enigma, but she is not unknown. Instead, I should say that only those whose heads are filled with empty thoughts would not be able to discover her identity."
"It seems even someone whose head is filled with rocks can figure it out," said Mr. Andersen, gesturing to Mordred. The knight was unaware of their conversation as he smashed through another large pile of rubble. "So, that begs the question, if her identity is so easy to figure out, why would she risk herself in a place like this?"
Mash pondered the question. It hadn't occurred to her, but when phrased like that, it made sense. Why now, four Singularities in, had she finally decided to join them? Was it just to collect information? And if it wasn't, why hadn't she been told the real reason?
Mr. Shakespeare laughed, smiling brightly. "The answer is clear, is it not?"
"Really?" asked Mash, looking at him. She thought about what the reason could be, but despite all the time with Makeda, she could only come up with one answer. She blushed as she said the it, feeling childish. "Could it be love?"
Another laugh. This time it attracted the brief confused attention of the others who had spread out to examine the museum. Even Mordred stopped smashing stuff briefly to send a helmeted glare back towards Mr. Shakespeare. "You guess my thoughts exactly," said Mr. Shakespeare. "For a famous ruler and romantic figure like her, only one option could move her to action like this. Love. A long-lasting love, transcending distance and time. Summoned into the modern era to protect humanity by the last Master of Chaldea. Isn't that interesting to you?"
Mash frowned at that. She glanced to Ritsuka. "But Senpai isn't her Master." She realized what she'd revealed right as she said it. Both writers looked initially surprised to hear that, but then their faces lit up. Something had been answered for then.
Mr. Andersen smirked. "That answers that question. Good job poet. Maybe your head isn't just filled with useless rhymes and notions after all."
Mr. Shakespeare gave a deep bow to Mr. Andersen. "I am honored by thy praise." He looked to Mash. "I apologize. That was not meant as a trick to pull information from you. I concluded wrong, but I do appreciate the clarification. I will keep the secret, and where I learned it from."
"Thank you," said Mash. She didn't know why, but she felt at ease with both men. Maybe it was because their stories and poems had been what she had grown up with, raised in Chaldea on their verses and rhymes. Doctor Roman had introduced them to her, and now that she met them in person, they felt like longtime friends. And she felt like they viewed her the same as well. Maybe it was a delusion, but it was one she chose to believe in. That feeling made her want to prove her wits to them as well. To be an equal. The challenge excited her.
"More and more questions arise," said Mr. Shakespeare. While they had been talking the group had entered a hidden tunnel system that Mordred had revealed. Makeda had moved forward and without a word cast a bit of Magecraft and opened a gap in a barrier. The tunnel system wound downward, and Mash had long ago lost her sense of distance. Mordred and Jekyll were covering the front, Makeda and Ritsuka taking the middle, with Mash and the writers taking the rear. While they talked, she kept her shield at the ready to protect them if needed.
"We assumed that your Master needed to be hers because we had so far not interacted with anyone else who would qualify," said Mr. Andersen. "A stupid assumption on my part."
"Wait," said Mash, thinking. "Wasn't Chaldea consulting with you while you were in the library?"
"They were," replied Mr. Shakespeare. "The brilliant Lady Da Vinci joined in our conversation and enlightened us with what she knew. You three are the only Chaldeans we have interacted with."
Mash considered that. It occurred to her that outside of the initial conversation with Mordred that she hadn't heard from or interacted with Dr. Roman. It was strange to go this long without talking to him, especially in a Singularity. She had been so absorbed with recent events that the strangeness of it all hadn't occurred to her. He hadn't come with them since he needed to stay back as Commander, but why wouldn't he be the one communicating with their allies?
"The world is full of secrets," said Mr. Shakespeare. "It does not strike me as odd then that Chaldea would be the same. You should not despair at not knowing either, those who are closest are often those unable to get the proper distance and prospective. It does mean that once you can, you will be the one most appropriate to uncover the mysteries that surround you."
"That's a long-winded way to put that," said Mr. Andersen. "That's just like you."
"But it is why you want to be down here in the first place, is it not?"
A begrudging nod. "It is." The passage opened into a large domed chamber. Several other paths like the one they had just traversed led into this room. Before them on the far side sat a large run covered metal door. The others all stood before it, studying it. "And this is where we drop our side chatter and move on to the real reason for this dumb walk."
As they joined the group, Makeda turned to regard them. "Did you have a good chat?" she asked brightly. Mash thought there was something off with her words, but she couldn't be sure. Maybe the conversation had tricked her into overthinking things she shouldn't?
"Enjoyable enough," said Mr. Andersen, pushing past her. He studied the door for a moment. "This looks like the place. Now, who wants to get this open?"
"I will," said Makeda and Mordred at the same time. The pair glared at each other.
Mash stepped between them, already dreading the argument and wanting to stop it before it begins. "Why doesn't Caster break it down? It is a magical door after all, she would probably have the easiest time."
"I agree," said Jekyll. Mordred shot a glare at him. "Not that I doubt that you could, but your way will be loud and possibly damage something of value behind it. This is all we have left to us. We need to proceed careful."
Mordred lowered his sword and stepped away from the door. "Fine, you win. She can use her Magecraft to get through. It's not worth my time anyways."
"I am glad that you have seen reason,"' said Makeda, moving and putting her hand on the door. She closed her eyes and a flash of magical energy radiated out from where she was touching. As it spread, a bounded field surrounding the door broke apart. When it was completely gone, she reached out and pulled on the large handle, the door creaking open. "Who would like to enter first?"
"I will," said Jekyll. His knife was out as he went through. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Shakespeare followed.
Makeda was about to follow as well but stopped short. Mash saw her ears twitching. The next moment Mordred was turning around, sword in hand. A chill ran down her spine and she looked down the dark tunnels, not seeing anything.
"'What's wrong?" asked Ritsuka, unsure of what they were reacting to.
"Something is coming," said Makeda. "I can hear the clinking of gears."
"I smell oil," said Mordred. He sniffed again. "And ink. And…well, a lot."
Mash looked down the tunnels, still unable to see anything but knowing that the other two were right. "I can't hear, see or smell, but I can still feel them coming. Senpai, you should join the others in the archive, I believe there's going to be a fight.
"But," said Ritsuka, about to argue.
"I agree with Mash," said Makeda. "We will be fighting a purely defensive battle. The sooner you find what we need, the sooner we can leave the fight."
"Just trust that Shieldy and I have got this, alright?" said Mordred confidently. "We're knights after all; this will be a cinch."
Ritsuka paused for a moment before entering the archive room as well. Mash could hear faint voices as they explained the situation, but soon she found herself needing to focus on what was in front of her. They had met a lot of different enemies throughout London, but what they saw now seemed to be an army comprised of each and every one. Monstrous homunculi, mechanical dolls, floating books and squat robotic figures. Dozens of each. Mash held her shield at the ready, Makeda and Mordred to either side of her.
She glanced to either side. "What's the plan?"
Makeda's hands started to glow with stored Magecraft. "We hold this point in a defensive patt-"
"Attack!" yelled Mordred, leaping forward and cutting a homunculus in half. A doll leapt at him and his sword came around to bisect it. A book opened its cover and magical energy started to build up. The process was interrupted as Mordred's sword flew threw the air, impaling it into the wall behind it. A robot tried to shoot him up close, but he just built up electricity around his foot and kicked it into a second robot, causing them both to explode.
Unfortunately, the flood of enemies was too much for him to stall. The enemies swarmed over him, sparks and yells flying through the air. Mash would have rushed to his side, but she found herself faced with half a dozen enemies of her own, all trying to take her out or push past her into the archive. She swung her shield at a homunculus, knocking it away. A frighteningly quick doll tried to hit her, but she managed to get her shield around in time to block its attack. That meant that she was left unprotected as a book shot a ball of fire at her. She saw the attack coming from the corner of her eye but was unable to move in time.
A wall of water interposed itself between Mash and the fire. There was a hissing as the attack was cancelled out. The water surged outward, breaking apart into five spears of water. The spears froze themselves and shot towards the crowd of enemies. Five spears, five hits and five enemies fell. Makeda didn't hesitate to continue her attack, four homunculi interspersed in the crowd catching fire. As they fell, they caught on two books, burning them to ash. She pulled out her incense burner and a sweet smell filled the air. A wall of smoke built up between the enemies and the two Chaldean Servants.
"There," said Makeda, letting out a brief sigh of relief. "That will give us a moment to gather our bearings."
"But Mordred's still out there," said Mash, the sounds of the knight battling and yelling reaching her through the wall.
Makeda scowled. "He made his choice when he leapt into battle with no plan."
"We need to rescue him."
"We will, but we will not risk our lives, or the lives of those behind us for someone with a death wish."
"He doesn't have a death wish," replied Mash, annoyed. "He clearly wants to live as much as anyone else. Just by his own rules."
"We do not get to dictate the rules and roles we are given," replied Makeda. Her ears were twitching in irritation. "He can struggle all he wants, but his recklessness is just going to get others hurt."
Mash turned to regard the wall of smoke. It looked solid despite what it was made of, and she could hear the sound of enemies scratching at and shooting it. She glanced back to Makeda. "Please let me out, I need to save him."
A frown. "I am not going to let you endanger your life."
"It's not endangering anything. It's a rescue mission."
"It is foolishness."
She gripped her shield, holding it in front of her. "I'm a knight, and I'm not going to let him die."
"He is a Heroic Spirit," replied Makeda. "If he dies, he will go back to the throne. If you die, you die. That will be the end of it all."
"But…" said Mash, hesitating for a moment. What should she say to that? Makeda was right, and she knew it. Then, after a moment she realized something. "It's what Mordred would do for me. That's all I need to know."
Makeda looked like she was about to argue for a moment, but she just let out an exasperated sigh. "Fine, if it is like that, then do not risk your life. I will go save him while you stay back. Like him, I am a Heroic Spirit, and I will just be sent back to the throne if I die. My life is less valuable than yours."
The words hurt Mash to hear, but she just nodded, taking a step away from the wall. She bent her knees, preparing herself. "Thank you," she said. "I'll hold here, please, just save him."
"I will," said Makeda, waving her hands. The wall broke apart in a blast of air, blowing all the enemies next to it backwards into their allies.
As soon as the gap was made, Mash gripped her shield tightly and leapt into the crowd of enemies which now filled the entire cavern, clouds of books flying over the ground bound enemies. She gathered her magical energy and created a protective barrier around just her, stronger than any she had ever made before. Usually she needed to protect many allies, but this time her only goal was to protect herself long enough to rescue another.
"Mash," yelled Makeda, finding herself left behind by the sudden reversal. "What are you doing?!"
"I'm sorry,"' replied Mash, knocking a group of robots to either side. "But please protect everyone until I get back."
She didn't hear Makeda's response as a large homunculus stood in her way. Mash bent her knees and leapt off the ground as hard as she could. Her shield smashed through the spongy body of the creature, the remains collapsing to the ground behind her. To her side a robot aimed a machine gun arm at her. It fired, but she interposed her shield between them. Not wanting to slow down, she released her shield and flipped herself over the shield. She came down with an axe kick, tearing the robot in half.
Mash back kicked a doll that tried to sneak up on her. She was starting to get a hang of their attack patterns. She moved to try to get around and pick up her shield, but another homunculus swung its arm at her like a club. She got her arms up to block the attack but found herself being flung through the air. Flipping wildly in confusion, she only managed to get her bearing when she landed on the shoulders of a third homunculus. A book tried to shoot her, but she leapt off and it hit the homunculus instead, disintegrating its head.
At that point, Mash was unsure of where she was or where Mordred might be. She leapt from enemy to enemy, trying to find her bearing. She could see powerful flashes of magical energy from the opposite end of the room, Makeda protecting the door to the archive. She looked around for Mordred and thought she saw some sparks of electricity from a particularly thick area of enemies. Her guess was confirmed when a doll head went flying and knocked a book out of the air on total accident. Her shield was too far away now though, and it was all she could do to dodge the enemy. She needed some type of weapon…
There! She leapt off a homunculus, landing in a crouch on a particularly large tome that was hovering around the field. As it tried to open its pages to attack, she used it as a springboard and leapt at the cavern wall. Her gauntleted hands wrapped around the hilt of Mordred's sword. She swung herself at the wall, striking it with her feet. She bent them and pushed off. The sword was in deep, but after a moment came loose. As soon as it was, she threw the sword to where she had last seen Mordred.
Mash fell to the ground, hoping her aim had been correct and yelled out, "Mordred! Incoming!"
She fell to the ground in a crouch, several dolls converging on her. She kicked and blocked, barely keeping the dolls away from her. Had she failed? Had she risked her life for nothing…
Suddenly, there was a powerful surge of energy from the center of the cavern. Red lightning sparked everywhere, striking books out of the air and incinerating homunculi. A powerful cry filled the air. "Who is ready for a rebellion? Take the full force of the sword that struck down my father, Clarent Blood Arthur!"
A massive swath of enemies was incinerated immediately as the energy exploded in a burst around Mordred. A beam of red energy struck the ceiling of the cavern, dislodging chunks of it which fell and crushed a dozen more enemies. Mash didn't need to be able to see him to know that Mordred had a vicious smile on his face as he brought his sword down with a shout.
"Take this!" As his sword sliced through the air, it incinerated several books that were unable to get out of the way. Once parallel to the ground; a large, powerful beam of energy shot out of the sword and down one of the side tunnels which enemies had been coming from. Every creature in the way was incinerated in an instant. A hundred enemies, gone in the blink of an eye. Mash felt the earth shake as the beam struck a wall as the tunnel bent. She heard a cave in, that route being blocked completely, at least for now.
A gust of wind shot through the much-thinned crowd of enemies. It pushed them to the side, leaving Mash a clear path to her shield. She didn't hesitate to take the opportunity that Makeda had given her. A doll tried to get in her way, but she just kicked it in the head, caving in the casing and knocking it to the ground. She leapt over the front of her shield and grabbed the straps on the other side. It was invigorating having the weapon back in hand, and she easily blocked a shot from a book. The book itself was blasted out of the air by a magical bolt.
A hand reached out and took Mash's. She turned to see the smiling, blood and oil stained face of Mordred. His helmet was off, nestled safely to the back of his armor. "Hey Shieldy," he said, pulling her through the cavern. "Thanks for the save. It's been fun out here, but let's get back to see if the nerds have finished their research yet."
Mash nodded, following behind. As they ran, Mordred cut down any enemies that got in front of them. She kept her shield at the ready, blocking incoming attacks from the rear and sides, bashing away any who tried to approach. They soon arrived back in front of the archive's doors, Makeda standing guard before it. There were piles of monsters surrounding her, their bodies quickly fading into nothing. She frowned at them; her gaze more critical than any Mash was used to seeing from her.
Mordred waved to Makeda. "Miss us?" he asked, a mocking smile on his face. "Putting up a decent fight?"
"I am," replied Makeda. She fired a magical bolt, taking out a book. "No thanks to your recklessness."
Mordred cleaved a Homunculus in two. "Did you see how many I just killed?" asked Mordred with a frown. "You would be crushed without my help."
"Your help? You mean the help that included putting yourself in danger, throwing away your only weapon, risking Mash's life to retrieve it, and forcing an ally to hold a point by themselves or risk the deaths of everyone on your team? That irresponsible act is what you count as help?"
"So, I miscalculated a bit," said Mordred, bristling as he kicked in the head casing of a robot. "It all worked out in the end."
Mash blocked a doll's attack, kicking it away from them. She hoped that Mr. Andersen and the others found what they were looking for soon so that they could leave before the pair came to blows. Makeda blasted another book out of the air. She shot a glare at Mordred. "Worked out in the end? We are still fighting, and all more tired for your actions than we should be. With a Noble Phantasm like that at your disposal being aimed properly we could have simplified this situation immensely with planned timing and coordination."
"Lay off," said Mordred.
"No. Someone needs to tell you how reckless you are. How much of a child you are."
"You're not my mother."
"And my son would never act like this. Yet, despite us having no relation, you treat me like you know me. Like you already hate me. I do not know who you think I am, but I am not that person."
"Yes, you are," yelled Mordred, glaring back at her. "A sneaky spellcasting trickster who uses words and lies on your allies. You lied to Mash, and you keep secrets. That tells me exactly what I need to know."
"There are reasons for that beyond what you know."
Mordred let out a frustrated yell as he stabbed out and skewered three dolls on his sword. He planted his foot on the front one and pulled his sword out, throwing them to the ground. "And there it is! The words of a King who thinks they know better than anyone else. Standing above, ruling from your throne and acting like only your reasons matter. Like your intent forgives anything you do. But it doesn't."
Makeda fired another magical bolt, but this time her aim was off. The bolt missed the targeted book, instead striking the wall. This opening allowed the book to open its pages, firing an ice spike at Makeda. Mash interposed her shield between the attack, protecting Makeda. With the extra time she was given, Makeda readjusted her aim and fired at the book again, destroying it.
"Caster?" asked Mash, sparing her a quick glance. Makeda's face was as stoic as ever, but she got the sense that Mordred's words had struck her particularly hard.
"I am fine," replied Makeda, her ears twitching. "Thank you for the assistance."
"The truth hurt?" asked Mordred.
Mash rounded on Mordred, glaring at him. "Knock it off!"
He looked taken aback by her reaction. "Wha-,"
"I get your frustration. I get that you're concerned for me. Thank you. But I don't want you attacking Caster like this. We're all allies. We're in this together. We can argue all we want once humanity is saved."
"I know. But she's not wrong. Neither of you are. Regardless of how different you are, you're also both very similar. So, I need you to put aside your differences and work together. If not with each other, then with me." She locked eyes with him. "Please?"
For several moments, neither said anything. They continued slashing, bashing and shooting enemies, but didn't respond to her. Then, as Mash blocked a homunculus trying to smash her into the ground, the creature found itself simultaneously cut in half and with its head blown off. The chunks of the homunculus fell to the ground, Mordred and Makeda standing to either side of Mash.
"I find those terms acceptable," said Makeda.
A nod from Mordred. "Yeah, sure, whatever you say Shieldy. You're just as pushy as Ga-, he was. Where do ya' want us to start?"
Mash smiled at the responses, but quickly frowned at finding herself in charge. That wasn't what she had intended, but neither of her allies seemed intent on issuing orders or following the orders of the other. She thought through what they should do. Glancing around the room, she saw that there were still dozens of enemies left, with a slow trickle still pouring in from each of the tunnels. Much more manageable, but still an issue.
"Saber," said Mash, glancing at Mordred. "We should hold this point. We don't need to beat all of them, just hold out long enough for the others to finish and rejoin us. Could you hold the left flank while I hold the right?"
A nod. "Sure thing. Easy enough."
The pair moved apart, preparing to cover their respective areas. Mash looked to Makeda. "Caster, please move back and cover us. I know it's a lot to ask, but you've got the best sight and longest range. Make sure no one gets past us."
"Gladly," replied Makeda with a smile. She moved back, standing just before the archive door. Magical energy started to build up around her as she prepared various Magecraft.
"Ready?" asked Mash, looking over the advancing hoard. They had taken some time of their own to regroup, and they had once again surrounded them and looked ready to continue their attack. She braced herself. This was just like the battles of famous heroes she had read about with Doctor Roman. The brave King Leonidas holding the great Persian army at bay with just three-hundred men. The Siege of Troy, where great shield heroes fought on both sides. The stories and legends of the hero inside of her… To be a hero, she would just emulate those she looked up to. And there was no one else she would rather do so with.
The hoard of enemies surged forward. Mash raised her arm and then knifed it through the air. "Hold them off," she yelled, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. Magical bolts flew past her, striking book after book out of the air. Lightning surged around Mordred and laughter filled the cavern as he struck enemies down with every strike. Confident that her allies would be fine, Mash concentrated on the enemies before her. "Let's do this…"
Author's Note: I'm starting to think that Makeda and Mordred have issues with each other. There's a lot of ground covered in this one to get the band together and get past the parts that don't change that much. By necessity this fic assumes that you've played through the Singularities, because otherwise I'll be here forever writing everything. Things will be going into more detail starting next chapter. Also, Mordred's got himself a girlfriend. I wonder who Cywyllog really is…..