Thoughts, Words, Works

Fate Crusade Side Story 01: Arrival @

In the grim dark present of roleplaying, there is Only Grail War. Stormshrug's Fate/Crusade is the second campaign following the events of Fate/stay night using rules adapted from Fantasy Flight's Warhammer 40k RPG systems. I'm not in this campaign, but I'm playing a role from the sidelines. His story has already begun...

Pieter's Command Seals

Ishmael's flight was rough. Air travel was nothing new to him (in more than one sense), but the bad weather moving in over the Roman metropolis kept his connecting flight grounded in Amsterdam for an hour. Ishmael watched in frustration as bored Euro passengers lit up almost directly under "No Smoking" signs. He tried focusing his attention on refreshing the Italian he hadn't spoken in almost a year, but the scenery was full of memories, all too fresh, and the airplane was full of screaming children.

Finally, he landed and found his way to meet up with the church arbiter for this Grail War. The chapel was unfamiliar, a small building in a pre-gothic style, probably dating back to the early days of the Catholic faith. Compared to the modern, airy buildings he'd seen in the New York suburbs, it belied a modest beginning for the faith. According to the instructions, he rapped thrice on the door and entered the confessor box. He masked his surprise when the priest who greeted him spoke with a familiar voice.

"So we meet again, Ishmael."

"Father Jamieson."

"I am not surprised to see you chosen for this duty. Who could possibly be more impartial than one who has already had his heart's desire fulfilled by the Grail?"

Ishmael snorted faintly. "We both know that my wish was like a class-action lawsuit that divided its rewards so finely as to be attributed to rounding error. The real reward is that the city still stands, as do I. A reward I hope to achieve from this Grail, as well."

"Perhaps. Still, winning the last Grail War does put you in a truly unique position. Everyone can trust that you truly wish the best for the world. Given past incidents, even the church mediator cannot be above suspicion." Through the grating of the confessor box, Ishmael thought he could see the Father smile. "Don't misunderstand me: I don't begrudge your sponsor wanting another pair of eyes on this Grail War. Quite the contrary; I think the last Grail War demonstrated the fruits of such collaboration quite clearly. Still, not all within my organization agree with the principle behind any coordinated effort."

"Indeed. I was appalled at what I learned when I saw the Association's records of what your predecessors were responsible for. I felt myself foolish for trusting you, back then, even though my trust was never betrayed."

"The colorful history of the so-called Holy Grail War is indeed shocking, isn't it? It reads as a litany of catastrophes and near-cataclysms, and lays bare the corruption that takes root in the soul. I was fascinated and terrified: what could drag human beings to such depths? I searched for answers, but even having seen the manifest Grail in Venice, I found none. It seemed little more than power, neither divine nor diabolical, and no different from that which rules our daily lives except in scope. Try as you might, even that much power would not undo The Fall."

"Indeed, I am sure you could elaborate at length on mankind's thirst for power, but I'm no theologian. We have pressing business to discuss." Ishmael exhaled, thinking that in some other time and place, he might well have enjoyed such a discussion.

"Indeed, I digress." Jamieson himself sighed. "Then you are aware of the scheduled transfer of the Grail's vessel?"

"Yes. The Association informed me. You are to receive the vessel, and keep it under your care until it's ready. Frankly? I'm concerned." Ishmael's eyes narrowed. "No offense, Father, but last time you were unable to keep the Grail out of greedy hands. What assurance do we have that it will be safe this time?"

"Your concerns are shared. However, I do not necessarily see a preferable alternative. Whoever possesses the vessel of the Grail will inevitably be a target."

"My plan hinges on precisely that." A grin slowly spread across Ishmael's face...

Continued in Chapter 2: Dramatis Personae.


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