760/The Blue Gunner

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The Blue Gunner
Date of Scene: 07 October 2014
Location: Dun Realtai
Synopsis: Aoko Aozaki drops by Dun Realtai for a visit with real, live Knights of the Round Table. More notably, she gets to meet the real, live King Arthur, who winds up being... well, quite a bit different than she'd expected...
Cast of Characters: 346, 482, 560, 591

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
As had been warned, the weather in Dún Reáltaí is unseasonably cold, even for autumn. There isn't any snow over the barren earth. The wind carries with it a taste of the winter to come, and it skirls through the unfinished masonry of the castle's central keep. Most of the villagers are in today; with leaden skies and such a cold wind, most of them are predicting a dreary, autumn rainstorm. They're correct, for the most part. Rain drizzles steadily down from the featureless sky.

Thankfully, it's not cold inside. The great hall of the castle keep itself is a vast chamber, with a high, vaulted ceiling. Its older, darker stone is overlaid by the brighter masonry of new stone. It lends the hall something of a patchwork look, but no one seems to mind it too much.

Sir Bedivere of Dún Reáltaí is here, although for once, he isn't working. A great open hearth dominates the north side of the hall, currently blazing, and a number of chairs and stools are set before it. He's perched in one of those chairs in the garb of a commoner, with a bowl of water and a roll of fresh linen on the table beside him, patiently enduring the replacement of the worst of the bloodiest bandaging. Most of the wounds are largely superficial, cuts and lacerations and gouges; the worst of them is a chunk ripped away from his right shoulder, painful enough that it demands a little more care than the other wounds.

At least he's remembered to have breakfast and lunch today, and true to his word, he isn't trying to overwork. In fact, he hasn't done much of any work today, and instead bided his time through the foul weather, resting.

He still looks like he got chucked into a paper shredder, though.

An invitation has been left for the magician he had met, for she had expressed interest in meeting King Arthur, although he had not let that particular cat out of the bag. It was not his secret to tell; indeed, it was one he had guarded for many years.

Saber (346) has posed:
At the side of the knight in question and patiently tending to his wounds in none other than the Servant Saber of the Fourth Holy Grail War and, strangely enough, his King. While one might at first see her as merely a young girl on older than fifteen years of age, she was, in fact, the Once and Future King of Britain: Arturia Pendragon.

But for the moment, she acts as his lady – a somewhat embarrassing twist of fate where the villagers misinterpreted one aspect of their bond and believed the two to be lord and lady. Sensitive to impressions of nobility upon the people, Arturia suggested to the silver-haired knight that they do nothing to suggest otherwise. The people here had need of some sliver of hope following the destruction of their village and the deaths of so many of their loved ones. To finally have a competent and caring lord and lady – a stable noble family – looking after their welfare was surely a significant boost of much-needed morale. Only visitors from outside knew the truth...though even that seemed up for some debate.

Currently, Saber employed herself in dressing the wounds Bedivere had returned from...and giving him the lecture he knew he was in for the moment he set foot in Dún Reáltaí once more. "I am aware that it is the sacred duty of a knight to protect the people, and I am aware that such magic is not unavoidable. But you must also bear in mind that, while we no longer have need to hide our weaknesses, to have a lord constantly injured is bad for morale."

At the moment, she might seem more like a fussing wife than a king and superior...and likely not the Servant of the man who was now her Master.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
The younger (mostly in contrast to one another, she's still close to her 30's) Aozaki sister is used to temperature extremes; even discounting occasional field trips with unsavory, questionable undead wizard marshals, she's just been around in general! Can't stay still, that one. Definitely doesn't behave her age at all. Too much energy, not enough to put it into. Maybe that's how she's managed to look a bit younger than she really is. Just pretend you're young so hard your body doesn't catch on it needs to age.

All that to say, Aoko doesn't mind the cold. Now, she isn't lucky enough to be a Servant, so what that means is that she's dressed the part! She's put a nice, warm red coat over whatever it is she's wearing underneath, with a matching hat for the rain. Her fairly long red hair just kind of blends in with that completely, really, making her blue eyes stick out all the more.

With her presence comes dread, though. Something in the air around her. Something ABOUT her. It can't be placed, or identified, it's just... there. Likely she doesn't feel too different than Merlin must have, like her humanity and right to be present is a legitimate thing to question. If you ask her, though, she won't know what to answer either. She just kind of radiates that. Never asked for it.

As she enters the castle, she spends far too much time looking around; the details on the stones, the craftsmanship of the castle. She's never been in a REAL castle before. Or rather, one that wasn't modern, or in ruins. Being in an authentic keep during its prime time, how could you not look around a bit? She's also carrying a box! Three feet by three feet, but a bit less than a foot thick, gift-wrapped and everything. As she finally enters the great hall, she grins, hurrying along to Bedivere.

"Heeeey, Sir Bedivere! You didn't tell me you were LORD of this place! And you even have a lady! That's what the villagers are saying, anyway. Oh, sorry! Hello, my lady, well met! I'm Aozaki Aoko, but Blue is fine."

She deposits the box on the floor, and takes her coat off. Seems she has put on a fairly fancy blue dress, with brown pantyhose covering her legs, and blue butterflies keeping her hair in a ponytail once the hat is off. It's fairly elegant, the sort of dress you'd wear for something important!

"Ah so! Where is he? Where's the king? Nobody's going to believe me when I say I met KING ARTHUR! Oh, I bet he sounds like he could move entire kingdoms with just one word!"

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
All throughout the king's fussing, the silver-haired knight doesn't say so much as a single word. Slumped slightly before the fire, patiently allowing her to tend to the wounds, he almost seems resigned to his fate. Only once she's finished her speech does he finally draw in a breath, wincing slightly when it jostles the worst of his wounds, and lets it go in a beleaguered-sounding sigh.

"And I have already told you, my lady, I could not allow those creatures to harm Lady Houken. She would have been slaughtered like a lamb brought to the butcher. She was not wearing armour. In fact, she appeared terrified, and unaccustomed to battle, I would wager." Bedivere flinches, baring his teeth when she dabs at a particularly painful gouge. "—Gh. If that is what they did to steel armour, what then would those things have done to that girl? I could not but stand by and allow for it to happen, and the others were busy with their own opponents. It was to me to protect her."

Still, he sighs, letting his head bow forward just slightly. Rather than the elabourate braids that Aoko had seen him in before, his hair is drawn back into a simple horsetail, bound by one of the two brass cuffs that had bound it before; the better to keep out of the way, and move around as needed. His clothing seems more suitable to a commoner or a peasant than a lord, and he looks up when their guest's very aura announces itself more than her presence.

"She is here," he says suddenly, glancing back to Arturia. "Lady Aoko Aozaki. I am to understand she is a magician of some manner, although I am not certain of the specifics..."

Bedivere allows himself to be hurried to, if only because Arturia might kill him if he tries to get up. Gulp. "Greetings, Lady Aoko. Forgive me for not bowing but I am currently, ah, indispos—"

Wait, what.

"Uhm," he says, pale face flushing scarlet. "N-no. I—I fear you misunderstand, good lady. Er, that is to say, she is not my lady. You are standing in the presence of the king."

All the while, his face is absolutely crimson.

Saber (346) has posed:
So the Left Hand of the King was not about to submit without a fight, was he? That was, admittedly, something to be expected. But while the pale-haired knight had acted completely within the dictates of the Virtues, Arturia was not about to let him off the proverbial hook. "And as I continuously tell you, if you are to properly face such things and act as a proper knight, then you have need of better armour. What was acceptable in Camelot will not do, here. Perhaps a shield, as well."

He was not going to like that, preferring agility over damage absorption, but if he was going to throw himself in front of danger then she was going to insist he do it *right*.

Her hands paused and her scolding died on her lips as the Heroic Spirit sensed a sort of wrongness in the winds. A creature of pure magic, sensing its presence or any change in it came as naturally as breathing. She refrained from straightening or summoning either Excalibur or her armour, but she remained wary. There is an unfamiliar presence, she warned Bedivere silently. Not a Servant, perhaps a magus...

Blonde eyebrows lifted as she regarded the violet-eyed knight. So he knew of this new arrival, and it would seem her assessment was somewhat correct. The flaxen-haired knight didn't have tome to inquire further before Aoko's arrival.

The Servant remained slightly wary, her previously animated demeanour became subtle and impassive. Something of her traditional paranoia when it came to presenting herself in the modern world surfaced along with her apprehension; she trusted her marshal completely, and his instincts were flawless, but that feeling of wrongness persisted. She seemed friendly enough, but before she had the chance to introduce herself properly, the combined dignity of king and knight was destined to die once more.

As Bedivere's complexion flushed bright scarlet, so too did Arturia's. "Ah...th-that is something of a misunderstanding...it is simply..."

She stopped suddenly, flicking a curious glance at her marshal and then to Aoko at the mention of her legendary identity. While that identity was apparently common knowledge throughout the multiverse at this point, a part of her persisted in being overcautious. But...if Bedivere seemed to think it was safe enough, she supposed she worried over nothing.

With a slight half-nod, half-bow, the Servant made her introduction. "Yes, I am she. I am Arturia Pendragon, King of Britain. But I am also the Servant Saber of the Fourth Holy Grail War."

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
Aoko's expression: :D

Bedivere explains she's a magician.
"No, no! Just a magus. That's alright!"

Aoko's expression: :D

Bedivere explains there's a misunderstanding.
That lady is no lady, it is King Arthur.

Aoko's expression: :D

She tilts her head juuuuust a bit, looking towards Arturia. Blink blink. No, that grin isn't off her face yet, it's like the information is taking a few seconds to reach her brain from her ears. Maybe the shock was too much and she immediatly repressed the information.

Aoko's expression: :D?

She turns to face Saber, her head almost a full ninety degrees tilted. Is she broken? She sure seems to be. All that dread and that weird feeling of being a monster... and Aoko's staring blankly at the king like someone cut the connection between her brain and her face.

"E-Eh? EEEEH?! YOU'RE King Arthur?!"

She shakes her head, she slaps her cheeks a few time, she stares. The five foot three magus... well, really, Magician, but she's not one to brag... just stares in disbelief.

The only thing she finally manages is: "... s-so short..."

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
Although Emiya Shirou took some minor injuries yesterday too (mostly: a few burns), they all mysteriously healed within a few hours, leaving not even the slightest scar or hairless flesh. Burns don't heal that way, certainly not this quickly, but... for him, they apparently do.

Not too long after Aoko strolls into the keep, the doors swing open again. In comes Emiya Shirou, his arms laden with various bags. Grocery bags, mainly, but no doubt there's other things stuffed in there. Why he is bringing groceries to the keep might be a mystery, but he's been bringing other things here and there. A Union issue power pack that can run small appliances for months before needing replacement. Some of those newfangled induction cooking surfaces, a small fridge, knives...

It's pretty obvious what he's up to if anyone checks his room though. He's setting up a small kitchen for... some reason or another.

But what he finds when he's walking through is... not what he expected to find.

Emiya Shirou halts at the doorway, stupefied by the awkward atmosphere that seems to be building. The redhead blinks a few times, shoulders stiffening and legs fidgeting a bit as he tries to figure out what to do with his load of stuff....

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
The Left Hand of the King is an incredibly stubborn man... but he is not a needlessly stubborn man. Although he has a habit of throwing himself into danger, the fact that terrible things come of it tend not to be entirely his fault. In this case, it wasn't a case of facing something that hopelessly outmatched him; it was a case of shielding Nozomi, because he could sustain that kind of injury, and if his eyes serve as any kind of judge, she would not have.

"Yes, my lady," the knight sighs. It's what he's come to learn is the standard 'married couple' response, and what scares him is how easily he's fallen into giving her that answer. Yet at the same time, it's the truth. Although he's one of the few people who can argue with her and runs the closest risk of winning, he doesn't enjoy doing that. Furthermore, in this case, she has an extremely sound argument.

It's something he's intended to do. He just hadn't really had the time to see to it. Now he's wishing he'd made the time, and every single injury is underscoring that point by throbbing, stinging, bleeding, and burning... but perhaps not burning half so badly as his face. "I will see to it as soon as I am healed. Something light, perhaps, which will allow me to remain mobile."

To that wary look from his king, the knight offers no response, bland and blank-expressioned. He had known of Aoko's coming, and he had already experienced her aura for himself. For as much as it sets him on edge, and for as much as it takes conscious efforts to set his hackles back down in the face of it, she seems to mean no harm. Indeed, she seems clueless about the apprehension she raises in others.

Now that Bedivere isn't wearing his plated gauntlets, in fact, the red-haired magician may well catch a glimpse of the intricate command seals on the back of his left hand. It's a sword, but rather than the pointed and angular depiction on Kiritsugu's hand, or the more stylised representation of a different Emiya Shirou, this one is a graceful amalgam of knotwork in the Celtic style, far more intricate than the other command seals of the Fourth and Fifth Wars.

He tilts his head slightly at Aoko's strange display of confusion. "My lady? Are you hale...?" She doesn't seem to be. Is she broken? Is that aura actually correct, and something horrible's about to happen in the face of Aoko's strangely blank expression?

Oh. No, she's just going to...

Bedivere frowns, and something in his expression goes terribly cold.

"You will address the king with due respect," he says softly, and there is a dangerously steely note to his voice. Although he has appointed himself the bodyguard of the king, he had also tasked himself with safeguarding her dignity and her reputation, as well.

His eyes then flick sidelong at the entrance of yet another person. Oh, it's Shirou. Bedivere glances the boy's way, regarding the bags with evident curiosity. Why he seems to be setting up some kind of kitchen is a mystery, and perhaps something he should talk to the boy about. There's no reason why he couldn't use the castle's ground-floor kitchen. It sees little enough use.

"Master Shirou." He seems pleasant enough to the boy, in spite of that chilling aura directed at Aoko. "Good day. May I help you with something? Although, I fear I may be of little use, for the moment." A vague gesture, towards his bandaging's various states of disarray.

Inevitably his violet eyes slide back over to Aoko. Argh. Grrr.

Saber (346) has posed:
Bedivere was not the only one of the two who had easily fallen into their now-familiar pattern, which did nothing at all to refute the beliefs of their adopted people. In fact, it only served to reinforce it. Knight and king had been forced to look at it objectively and conclude that no one could blame any of them for that assumption. The silent communication they had always shared would seem to have different implications entirely, not knowing that she was actually his king. And their subtle bickering only served to reinforce that appearance.

And per their newfound custom, the silver-haired knight was awarded a frown at what she knew was the 'married couple' response. "Do not 'Yes, my lady' me, my lord," she scolded him in turn. Fortunately, he acknowledged her point soon enough. "It was, after all, you who taught me the value of being flexible of mind when adapting to changing combat situations. I imagine at the very least more refined steel... blacksmithing techniques have improved considerably over the centuries."

The Servant's gaze went blank for a moment as Aoko's mind worked to adjust to the abrupt new reality. Ah yes, she had seen this many times before, upon a person learning that King Arthur was, in truth, a young girl. Though she was twice the age she appeared to be, the truth of her gender remained. Nothing to do but wait it out, only...

Arturia had always had something of a complex when it came to her diminutive stature. Traditionally, she had always buried such things behind her mask, deep within herself, but nearly five years spent in the multiverse had worn away at that mask. She was much more free with her emotions now, no longer required by her ideals to hide herself and carry her burdens on her own.

Her face flushed red once more as that complex was now front and centre. "W-well...you see, through Caliburn and later Avalon, my ageing was halted..."

...And then Bedivere kicked into attack mode. While it was nice that someone would always be there to defend her honour from insult, she likewise didn't want to scare off all their potential allies, either. "Sir Bedivere, it is all right," she reassured him gently, her hand lightly on an unshredded part of his arm. She meant no harm, she is merely surprised.

Her head turned slightly at Shirou's entrance, blinking owlishly at all the grocery bags. "Greetings, Master Shirou," she hailed. "Have you need of assistance?"

Yes, Bedivere was quite wise to remain where he was, lest he incur the possibility of undoing Saber's work and incurring her wrath.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
It takes Aoko a few moments to fully reboot.

When she does, she vigorously shakes her head. "No, no! Ah, I mean, sorry! I don't mean any disrespect, I just expected... w-well in the legends you were usually... and in those movies... handsome and... tall." There really is no polite way to get that out of her system. She's pretty bad about that.

Welp. So first Jack the Ripper, now King Arthur.

Talk about unexpected.
You think you know so much about the world, and then you just don't. Now in fairness it's not her fault history and legend books are lying, but it goes to show you can't just take everything at face value.

"Sorry, sorry! It's still an honor to meet you, King Arthur! Or do you prefer lady? Dame? P-Please tell me what to say so I stop embarassing myself, hahaha..."

Laugh it up, it's that or be more uncomfortable.

Shirou walks in! THANK GOD.

Aoko, dressed so fancily compared to their first meeting, seems extremely glad for his arrival. "Ah, Shirou! Hello, hello. So you live here too?" This gives her just long enough to regain her bearings, turn back to face Saber, and NOT trip all over her own tongue, or chew on her foot again.

"Right, right, I see now. Sir Bedivere mentioned the sword made you no longer human, but he never mentioned you picked it up so young! Ah, geez, that must have been quite the burden at your age. I can relate, but it's complicated, and not as incredible a tale as yours of knights and chivalry! Now that I'm done making an embarassment of myself, hi again! It's really nice to meet you. You don't get a chance to talk with living myths very often."

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
Blink blink. Picking up bits of the conversation as he gains his bearings, Shirou starts realizing why everything feels... soooooo awkward in here. Aha. Yeah, that explains it.

He'd wave, perhaps, but his arms are pretty occupied, so he tilts his head at Aoko, then gives her a quick little nod. "Hey, Aozaki. I didn't expect to see you here." She cclearly came because of the Knights of the Round table, but he's not gonna say that.

He hasn't even had the courage to ask Saber about any details... it's been just too strange to think about.

"Actually a few of this was to help you, but it looks like Saber got to it first. There's some bandages and antiseptic here for you... well, it'll be handy for the future." Because, obviously, Bedivere will be getting injured again.

Unlike Aoko, Shirou doesn't seem to be too concerned with prim and properness. He approaches and sets the bags down, then wrings out his arms. "How're you doing, Sir Bedivere?" It doesn't look good. Shirou's not about to voice how he looks like he went through a meat grinder though.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Scolded once again, the marshal simply sighs a defeated sigh. There's no real getting away from being scolded like this, is there? He could have, and did, adhere to the chivalric virtues flawlessly and he's still going to catch hell for using himself as a shield. Maybe he'd better talk to some of his new allies and see what he can do about a new suit of armour. No matter how much he might have revered that heavy steel plate and hauberk, it's useless, now.

"Yes, my lady." The words are more of a mumble than anything else, and it's possible Bedivere knows he's going to get scolded again for that. "I will speak with our allies, and see what can be done about it. I will have new armour commissioned immediately..."

His eyes are slightly narrowed in Aoko's general direction, but he seems to ease when that hand lays over his (mercifully uninjured) forearm. He exhales through his nose in a gesture suggestive of reluctance, but seems to let the matter go, inclining his head and briefly closing his eyes to the magician.

"You may refer to her as the king, if it please you. As to that, it was not my secret to reveal..." His brief flicker of a smile is apologetic. "Please, accept my apologies for my deception. But such was necessary, in Camelot. I was among the first to know the king's secret, and for twenty years, it was my duty to keep it. The nobility could not know; they were contentious enough, and that was well before Sir Mordred began to sow the seeds of rebellion." He frowns. "I fear there were some who never fully trusted my king, and her decisions or policies."

That smile returns, though it's a little weary. "But it is good not to have need of such secrecy here in Dún Reáltaí. It was... wearying, to hold so many secrets. They slip away from you, like fish, when you are incautious. Again, I am sorry for my deception. I did not wish to mislead you, Lady Aoko."

His eyes flick to Shirou, regarding his description of his supplies. "Splendid, Master Shirou. You have my thanks for that. Ah, perhaps not so severe as it looks," he adds, although it's pretty obvious that he's in pain every time Arturia probes into one of those wounds to clean it. Even the stoic marshal has to wince at that. "I have been dealt far worse." Never mind that his idea of 'far worse' is 'he almost died.' "It will be healed in no time at all. And then, I will be commissioning new armour, although I still must speak to our Union allies. Perhaps there are some with suitable talents that I may contact to discuss such a thing. But my old armour will not serve. It is hopelessly sundered." Considering it looked like so much paper fed to a shredder when he came home...

Saber (346) has posed:
Another frown. But at least she was able to get him to agree to new armour. That was, after all, her entire point for fussing at him. And she could threaten not to prepare French toast with apples again should he continue with that 'Yes, dear' response, but she suspected that this pattern was a permanent arrangement.

And Aoko still had a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease. Perhaps this time was a little better – she had never given much thought to her appearance until only recently – but the complex remained. It certainly did nothing to help that her knights – with the exception of Mordred – towered over her. "Tall..."

Well, now she was at something of a loss. "A-ah...Saber is acceptable...that is much of my identity in the current era..."

The Servant did nothing to stifle the sigh on replying to the younger magus. "Indeed...I thank you. In accordance with Fides, my knights are my responsibility as much as I am theirs." Most likely, Bedivere would disagree, but the Virtues applied to her as much as they did him.

Inevitably, the conversation turned towards their now-mythical past, though Saber was accustomed to it. "Yes, my father died when I was but fifteen years of age. At that time, my tutor approached me with the truth of my lineage and warned me that I would become something no longer human should I choose to claim Caliburn and lead Britain."

The way she said 'father' was distant, as if she was speaking of a stranger. For Arturia, Uther had been precisely that. She had never so much as laid eyes upon him, and he had abandoned her to Merlin not even moments after her birth.

"However, the land was in chaos, the Saxons encroaching upon our kingdom, and so, there was little choice in the matter. The people were in need of a king to lead them." If Bedivere was dismissive of his legend and his commitment to chivalry, it was not difficult to see where he shared a similar outlook as his king. Humility was a Virtue which came naturally to them.

"However, it was necessary to hide my sex, as the people would not follow a woman. We kept that secret so well that history only knows me as a man." Arturia tilted her head slightly in her equivalent of a shrug. "But that is no longer necessary, and I merely hide my identity under the auspices of the Holy Grail War, however unnecessary that is, now."

Another frown; the marshal's wince was, to her, as plain as day, and her frown told him pleant about what she thought of that comparison. Out loud, however, her words were rather different. "Perhaps we should work as a team as we did in the past," she suggested. "It seems that when we are separated, that is when you tend to receive such injuries."

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"I didn't expect to see myself in a castle meeting King Arthur either!" Aoko replies to Shirou in earnest, placing that fairly solidly in her top ten moments she didn't expect would happen and which did happen.

At the talk of the armor, she simply says: "Sorry, sorry. I'd offer to fix the armor for you, since it was kind of my cat's doing, but it's probably too big to stick. I could make it look brand as new for a few hours, maybe, but that wouldn't be very useful to you." The downsides of having such a broadly applicable magecraft. Sure, it's got a lot of uses, and meshes well with what should be but probably isn't her origin, but it's just not as good as something more specialized in repairing things.

Right, back to the topic of the King of Knights.

Aoko shakes her head at Bedivere and Saber, agreeing. "I understand. I'm a magus, I'd be a huge hypocrite if I told you lying is bad. The whole magus philosophy is that the world can't know all these incredible things exist. I don't know how I feel about that, but not strongly enough to shake the world and get even more heat on me than I already have, haha~."

Right, that's THAT uncomfortable episode out of the way.

"Well, I just feel a bit silly and overdressed now. Oh! That's right, I brought you a gift! Your knight mentioned the winter might be bad here, so I thought I'd get you something to keep you guys warm during downtime. It won't help the village, I don't think I could pull off something big enough to, but..."

She motions towards the large box she brought with her, gift-wrapped and all. It is actually warm to the touch, and once unwrapped, appears to be a kotatsu! Saber might be a bit familiar with that, if Bedivere isn't. Shirou definitely would be. It seems to constantly radiate warmth, despite not even being assembled or plugged in.

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
"Yeah, like I'm falling for that. Your mouth is saying one thing but your face tells a different story." Shirou mutters, and begins unpacking his own supplies. He's only got over-the-counter stuff from some pharmacy, but it's a good supply of fresh bandaging and antiseptic creams and other things suitable for dealing with most minor wounds. Not that Bedivere's wounds are 'minor.' Really, that's hospital-worthy...

"... And it's my fault for not getting out of that fire-" He winces himself at the memory... "...Quickly enough to help. What you were dealing with is much worse." Which is probably why he's gone and got all these supplies...

"...As for armor... well, I like the metal gleam and style, but plate mail went out of style centuries ago. Modern soldiers use these fancy vests made of woven materials that aren't nearly that heavy... but I bet the Union's got all kinds of super metals to work with too. Saber's right."

He IS listening to Saber's explanation, but it's filling him with fury. What an unreasonable life. That's just not fair for anyone. Nobody should have to live hiding their very GENDER... all the more so if Saber was doing it for their good.

Without meaning to, he's started clenching the bags really tightly. Angrily.

"and if Aozaki can't fix it, there's no chance I can either..." he mutters out a moment later. "Metal that gives in like that won't be the same again even if you weld it back together. ....ohhhh, a kotatsu!"

This is in reference to the gift Ako's unboxing. Well, HE apparently knows what it is. And he draws closer to examine it, after feeling the heat it's giving off...

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
The silver-haired knight tilts his head, regarding Aoko with muted curiosity. Truly, though, his hair is not greying, although his eyes suggest that he's seen more than he should for his evident years. Rather, it's such a pale shade of blonde that it seems nearly colourless, tempered here and there by a darker or more smoky strand, but almost silvery in its subtleties. His face is that of a man in his prime, although there are slight lines and faint shadows beneath his eyes.

No; he just has an extremely pale complexion. A northerner of some kind, perhaps, and more than likely one whose appearance must surely have marked him a foreigner in the court of King Arthur. Odd, that. Wasn't her first-and-last knight of Britain? Was he not Welsh like the others? His appearance would suggest otherwise, in spite of what the history books might say.

He thins his lips at Arturia's wordes on the knightly virtue of Fides, but he does not comment in so many words. Serving her as her knight and marshal is hardly a duty to him, and he is hardly worth such attention or responsibility as she focuses on him.

Even so, he lets her speak of Britain, for she was its king, and he was but a humble servant. It is her story to tell, not his; his part in any of that saga was minor, at best – at least according to him.

Bedivere does give a faint, unhappy sigh at the continued fussing. He casts Arturia a beleaguered and slightly desperate look. "I will be fine once I have commissioned new armour," he protests, a little helplessly. "You need not concern yourself so..."

"I appreciate the offer," he says to Aoko, glancing back to her, "but that would not help me. I do not care of its appearance; merely its function. And if it is all form and no function, it is of no use to me. No, this is something I have intended to do for some time, now. Camelot steel is not strong enough to hold up against the dangers of the multiverse, it would seem." Bedivere sighs. He really had liked that armour. "Alas."

He frowns slightly at the description of magi. If his understanding is correct, they're really more thaumaturgists than actual magicians, the likes of which Merlin counts himself among. And if he understands his instincts, however dim they may be in relation to this kind of thing, this woman is no mere thaumaturgist. He's not about to argue the point, though. It's rude. Also, it wouldn't go anywhere. She's almost as stubborn in denying it as he is at insisting his own normalcy.

The box is stared at a bit blankly, but he'll let Arturia handle actually opening it. Mostly because if he tries to get up she's probably going to kill him.

"My thanks, Lady Aoko." A faint smile. See, this is Bedivere staying right where he is. "It was not necessary, but I appreciate the thought."

His smile affects a slightly blank quality to it.

"...What is it?"

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
"Nothing I could not handle, Master Shirou," Bedivere chides gently. Honestly, the way these people sometimes treat him like a child is a bit grating. Is it not a knight's duty to accept injury so the less capable have no need to? It isn't as though he won't heal. Sure, maybe he heals a little more slowly than he used to, but as Arturia has pointed out, he is no longer nineteen years of age, and he's lived a hard life of consistently pushing himself past his limits. But in the end, he knows those limits, and he does actually think before taking risks. If he does take risks, they're almost always calculated. "I knew what I was walking into, and there is a reason why I did."

Mostly 'so Nozomi was not turned into a red smear.' It was a good, sound reason!

"A vest? Cuirass? They do not offer much protection," the silver-haired knight comments, a little dubiously. "My arms, shoulders, and neck are left unprotected. No, I will see about commissioning another suit of plate. Besides that, it is what I am accustomed to, and what I have trained for twenty years to be able to fight in. Surely something can be done. Perhaps there are enchanters within the Union who may enhance the strength of an alloy? I will discuss the matter later with my allies."


The unfamiliar word draws a slightly blank look from Bedivere.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"Ah, come on Shirou. Aoko's fine! Or Blue. I'm not a fan of my name, truth told. Aozaki, that is. Besides, if my sister shows up it's going to get confusing for you." Though, it's nice to see a youth being so polite, sometimes. He reminds her of Shiki, except it doesn't seem for Shirou that her intervention was needed to set him on the right path. No, this young man seems to respect life and heroes already, and he seems to know what power should be used for. Meddling...

Well, okay, maybe it'd be fun.
Totally unnecessary, but fun.
... hehe.

"Hey, you said you were working on Reinforcement, right? I can give you a few pointers later, if you want. Nothing big, but if your dad didn't have time to teach you the fundamentals you're REALLY going to mess your body up with that sort of magecraft. Could be permanent damage to your Magic Circuits, too."

Right, there she is. Teacher Aoko. Back into the game.

She twirls back to face Bedivere and Saber, smiling. "Oh, if I fixed your armor it would actually be fixed. It just wouldn't stay fixed long. It's like I explained to Shirou last night, Notarikon, sentence fragments can still convey a full message. But something as complex and big as armor, yeah. Sorry. I could help enchant your new suit of armor though! Make it a bit harder, nothing fancy, but you knights love magic swords and magic armor, right?"

Maybe she's too excitable.
Definitely trying to make a good impression in front of Arturia right now. She looks back towards her gift, and nods. "Kotatsu, yes! Your can keep your lower body warm while you eat, or just sit around it to read books or whatever it is you do here. If I didn't mess up it'll always be warm, just enough to be comfortable, not enough to be dangerous."

Most likely it absorbs a tiny bit of ambient prana to accomplish that. Nothing that would be dangerous even in the long, long term.

Saber (346) has posed:
Once more, Saber did nothing to stifle her sigh. Really, the man was as stubborn as a mule. I am certain you shall have the chance to return the favour following a future battle, she reassured him. His day would come, of that she had little doubt.

"I thank you for the offer," she told Aoko and Shirou. "We are in need of a permanent solution, though that will be attended to soon. Something similar, I should think, but with a more modern alloy." And by 'soon' she meant 'as soon as possible' and her marshal knew it.

"It was not lying, per se...merely omission of certain facts," the flaxen-haired knight clarified. Not to mention some help from an enchantment courtesy of Merlin. And while they were forbidden from outright lying, there was just enough room for interpretation when it came to not disclosing everything. "Few suspected, and those who did and learned the truth became Knights of the Round Table." Bedivere had been the first, and not long after him Lancelot, Gawain, and those other few privy to the great secret of Camelot.

She noted Shirou's efforts to control what she surmised to be anger, but she refrained from speaking. It had been her burden to bear, and she had done so willingly. Perhaps now she understood just how much she had given up, but to reach this point in her existence? She would do so again willingly, knowing what awaited her.

The King of Knights indeed recognised the gift. There had been little time to explore the current era with the Holy Grail War upon them when she and Irisviel arrived in Japan, but in the five years she spent living with the Tohsaka sisters as Sakura's Servant, she had since learned a number of things. "Ah...I thank you. Yes, it shall be put to good use, I am certain."

Though for Bedivere, it might take some getting used to. And then there was the fact it wasn't plugged in, which likely meant magecraft was involved. It was probably just as well; they had yet to have the village wired for electricity.

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
"The point I was going for is that the material's really light and even better than metal for some things... though they're focused on bullets and impacts, almost nobody uses swords or spears anymore... maybe some kind of supermetal over the fiber..." Mumble, mubmle. Shirou's pondering armor designs? Maybe he has some talent in structures in general...

He frowns at Aozaki, who is still calling him by his first name. Twitch, twitch. "Is that why you're calling me Shirou rather than Emiya? Because you don't like your own family name? ...Why Blue?" There's some grouchy sarcasm behind his words. He did say that Aozaki reminds him of Emiya Kiritsugu, but the opinion is starting to shift.

She's almost more like Fujimura Taiga. Oh boy.

"...." he does peer at her following the warning about messing his body up. "Isn't that how magecraft is to begin with? Making a Magic Circuit only got easier recently, and I've been practicing hard for years." 'Making a Magic Circuit,' he says. Oh boy. That can't be good.

"Turning Reinforcement on yourself isn't easy... if you have good pointers, I'd be grateful. it looks like my specialty is Projection, though." Muttering his usual 'trace, on,' as if to demonstrate Shirou holds out his hand, palm down. With a flash of golden light, Clarent appears in his hand. Every fine detail has been captured, the shining silver and crimson longsword a perfect visual replica and bearing a very similar aura of sorts. Really, it's impossibly close to the original... and making it seemed relatively effortless to him.

Effortless enough that he can set the weapon down casually on the Kotatsu and then the rest of his bags in the other hand.

"Hrm... an old-style kotatsu for the houses would be a good backup plan if the insulation's not enough for the coming winter. The traditional ones used coal." he points out thoughtfully!

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"You WHAT?"

No, nevermind the fact he just traced a Noble Phantasm.
She doesn't care about THAT. Who is she to judge what's possible and what isn't? That'd be hypocrisy. It's easy to tell this kid has a talent, and he meant it when he said he's only good at one thing. That's the sort of stuff magi build their entire paths on.

"No! No that's not how... you don't MAKE Magic Circuits, they're already in you! H-Have you actually been forcing your body to sprout new ones every day? How are you ALIVE?"

Aoko creeps closer to Shirou, glaring deep into his eyes. She is less looking into them, than she is looking at the way prana flows around his body. No, that's not right, this kid's fine! Completely healthy. He's got Magic Circuits like anyone else. They're kind of average, but that's a detail.

"We might have to start lower than I thought. Let's. Erm. Let's start by giving you homework. Stop doing that thing you're doing and focus on activating your actual ones. We'll, ah... get into more complicated stuff later. Not here."

More complicated being a relative term, since the kid just whipped up a Noble Phantasm, really. "As for my name, ah... w-well, I think I'm banned from showing you indoors!" She warily looks towards Bedivere and Saber, who surely understand what she's implying. "I'll show you when we practice, how's that?"

Back to Saber, Aoko gives a hearty nod. "Don't worry, I'm not judging. I didn't mean you were lying like it was a bad thing, I just meant sometimes secrets are necessary. No harm's intended, it's just better that way. I totally get it. I still think you're really cool. Maybe even cooler for being King Arthur despite all those odds playing against you."

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Bedivere regards Aoko with a slightly blank look when she describes the effects of fixing things with thaumaturgy. Or maybe magic. Whichever one it is she would actually use, but... doesn't that defeat the purpose of fixing it, if it just breaks again? He's not going to argue too much, for the moment, though.

"I may perhaps ask that favour of you, then, if I should have something suitable commissioned. But I do not care for enchantments. I trust in cold steel, as I have ever." That is to say, Bedivere alone doesn't have a magic sword or armour. His equipment is all mundane, and that probably explains why he keeps getting mauled within an inch of his life every other week. "Still, I thank you for the offer."

He blinks somewhat owlishly at the kotatsu. Well, he doesn't mind reading, although if there's work to be done he's more likely to be found doing that. If there's any season for lazing around one's home, though, it's winter. "I see." He doesn't comment on 'if I didn't mess up,' although he seems a little apprehensive.

"Indeed." He glances back to Aoko. "While it is against our codes to lie, there is no stricture against omission of information, and if that information had become public, Camelot would have fallen far sooner. It is as my lord says; the people would not have trusted the rule of a woman, although she ruled more justly and with more wisdom than the man who had come before her." He thins his lips, briefly, in what seems to be distaste. Not that he has anything against Uther Pendragon, personally. He was but a boy in a foreign kingdom when Uther ruled. No, his beef is the fact that the ungrateful people would have fussed over something so... inconsequential.

He contents himself with eyeing the kotatsu with open wariness.

The talk of Magecraft, however, is more or less over his head. At least, until Shirou manages to conjure a nearly flawless-looking copy of Clarent. Arturia may no doubt see the way Bedivere tenses; that subtle motion is as obvious to her as an open snarl coming out of anybody else. Oh, he knows the boy can do that. But Clarent tends to carry some particularly sour memories, for him, to go by the way he's watching the blade from the corner of his eyes.

While he's slowly burying his anger and his pain, it isn't the kind of thing that can vanish in an instant. And his last vision of that sword was as it was thrust into the king's side—

He forces himself to relax, though, with one last look. His expresion is blank, but Arturia might notice the beginnings of anger in those violet eyes. He's gone terribly quiet, and his regard has gone terribly cold. I must speak to him later. To call that particular sword here, in this place... were he not a guest in my hall, and were I not indebtted to him for the work he has done here...

Still, he manages a faint smile in response to Aoko's praise of the king. Respect, as he had hoped that his king might earn, in the modern age. That seems to warm him more than any mention of his own legend – which, indeed, seems to make him uncomfortable if anything else – the simple fact that his king has respect of those who came after. That her deeds and sacrifices were not forgotten.

Saber (346) has posed:
Saber openly stared at the Noble Phantasm in question; she most certainly was minding that particular fact, given which he had traced. Things were starting to come together – Shirou must have spent some time around Mordred, probably during the autumn céilidh – but the picture was more than a little disturbing. Magic came at a cost. Not to mention his ideas about magic were off.

She opened her mouth to explain that magic circuits were a part of a magus's physiology, that what he was doing was opening them – and probably on a dangerous level – but Aoko beat her to it. It was just as well; Saber understood magic and had possessed magic circuits of her own during her mortal existence, but she was hardly a magus.

Sea-green eyes flicked to her marshal, and it was then she easily noticed the rage and sorrow he buried at the sight of Clarent. The sword did not carry the same issue with her, even as it was the sword which felled her. No, Clarent had been her father's sword, passed down through the Pendragon lineage. It was a tainted thing now, from Mordred's betrayal. Just as Arondight had become tainted when Lancelot by accident slew his fellow knights.

Once more, Arturia lay a hand on an uninjured part of his arm. Though under normal circumstances the silver-haired knight was unwaveringly calm, there were times when rage could overtake him...as it had both when Caliburn was broken and at Camlann.

"Ah....yes," she spoke out loud, and he would understand this as a distraction. "I would prefer such lessons be taught in the outside, and some distance from the buildings. We have only just recently restored enough of the village to support the people through the winter to come."

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
With Aoko getting angry at him, Shirou's breath catches in his throat. Well, angry isn't quite the right word, but she's creeping up on him and getting loud, which is enough to get him making a few hissy, stammery noises. Consternation, what did he DO darnit? "...maybe?!" he gets out hurriedly. "I've just been doing what I've been doing..." And he's supposed to stop it. And use... what, are the circuits he's been using not his only circuits? He gives Aoko a puzzled – BAFFLED – expression. yeah, details will have to wait. In the meantime, his shoulders bunch up.

He turns about when it seems Aoko's attention has gone elsewhere, but this just brings Bedivere into his view and...

He may not be anywhere near Saber's level of familiarity with him, but...

That is not a happy Bedivere he's seeing. It's the opposite of a happy Bedivere. "Er....?" Shirou's now the one tensing up, only to end up looking on confusedly at everything.

He's completely oblivious to the faux pas of sorts that's just been committed.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"Really, really..."

Aoko rubs the side of her head, sighing.

"Sorry, just... I can't believe you've been making artificial Circuits for possibly... what, years?... and are still alive. Do you realize the strain that puts on your body? Forget the strain, doing that wouldn't even be useful, the energy it would take to make a working, stable Circuit, and then keep it running, and then feed it energy so you can use it, would be greater than if you just used your own to start with. It's like..." What is it like? She ponders.

"I don't know, it's like... you have a phone, right, and it has a battery in it. But instead of using the battery in the phone to power it and use it, you're using the battery to create a new battery out of nothing, and then power your phone with that. Do you see the problem?"

She takes a deep breath in and calms down.

"Whoo, weird episode! Haha... I sure must be making an impression on the king... I swear, Saber, I'm not usually this bad." She ignores the tension in the air, apparently oblivious to it and its source, and quite glad to be.

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
For a moment the marshal almost seems like he might say something, tension crackling about him like a live wire, but ultimately he holds his tongue. All it takes to soothe him is a simple touch, a hand laid over an intact area of his forearm. The king may feel a brief shiver under her touch; a physical effort to restrain himself, and to bury the emotions that threaten to resurface at the sight of that accursed blade.

He calms, or at least draws away from the cold rage he can feel trying to form, but it seems to cost him. His head bows just slightly, though his eyes are still locked on Clarent as though it were calling to him from across the room.

Bedivere slowly draws in a breath through his nose, and he lets it go through his nose; he does this two more times, and slowly, painfully, masters himself from the shock of seeing that sword so close.

"Do not conjure that blade in my hall again," he says to Shirou. His voice is very quiet, and it is very, very cold. His hand rises to point at Clarent. "That is an accursed blade, a wretched blade, and it is steeped in the blood of all I once held dear, wielded by a traitor. It does not belong here."

He lets that hang for a few moments, before he shakes his head, slowly, as though he were trying to reorient himself. But it must be a sign of how distraught the mere sight of that reminder of Camlann makes him. He does not so much as apologise for his coldness.

Bedivere lets it go, though, ultimately... but he doesn't seem to have much to say about Magecraft, in spite of the mark on his left hand, or the possible feeling that Aoko may have of him – he's as much a magus as Shirou, if untrained; even though he may use a different word for it.

Saber (346) has posed:
With a slight tilt of her head, Arturia regarded Aoko thoughtfully. She was explaining magecraft rather well. "Do pardon me for asking, however, I wish to know if you are perhaps a teacher of magecraft?"

If the blue-eyed magus was indeed one, she had half a mind to encourage Shirou to ask for her instruction. The Servant had been more than a little concerned about his lack of real training, both for his sake and theirs. Even if Kiritsugu wanted to protect him from the world of the magi, such a thing was impossible. The boy had some talent and he was going to use his gifts for the greater good whether or not he had the proper training. He posed a far greater risk to himself by remaining untrained.

And Aoko seemed to the Servant to be a reasonably good person. She would much prefer Shirou learn from someone with some humanity as opposed to, for example, Lancer's Master. Or Kiritsugu.

Saber shook her head with barely a hint of movement. "It is all right..." she began, though immediately her attention shifted to soothe Bedivere and reassure Shirou. The lord of Dún Reáltaí was about as diplomatic as possible, given the circumstances, but the young magus *did* deserve an explanation. She would have to spend considerable time soothing her marshal later; even now the nightmares plagued him from time to time. "Master Shirou, you learned to copy that blade from the Saber of Red, did you not? That was the blade of the Pendragon line, but it was the one my 'son' wielded in the battle which brought Britain to ruin."

She inhaled softly, letting her breath go slowly. "As it is, Clarent is a tainted blade. Perhaps it can be restored, though much of that would depend on Mordred's actions from now on."

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"Teacher? Ah, some people call me that. I'm not licensed or anything, it'd be more accurate to say I travel and see a lot. In a way it would be like asking you to tell me about how Saxons fight. You can tell me because you've seen it first-hand, but you're not really one of them, so you might be missing the formal training or some nuances only a native would have," Aoko answers Saber, a bit more composed than before. The nervousness is fading, at least, and she's back in her comfort zone.

"I know the basic theory behind a lot of different types of thaumaturgy, magecraft, even a bit of alchemy or actual witchcraft, which not all magic is by the way, Sir Bedivere~. Most of it I couldn't use if I tried, not without some really detailed instructions anyway. I'm okay with Notarikon, but it's a bit crude compared to Numerology... and like your knight pointed out, not really useful in a fight. What use is a magecraft that can only repair a suit of armor for a few hours, huh? Unless you need it to fight right then and there, not much!"

She inspects the Servant, then, inching closer. It seems she's trying to tell whether or not the king's Magic Circuits are still active and emulated, even as a Servant. She's never gotten to examine one before, so she's curious if that's also replicated in full.

"Ah! But otherwise I just kind of... make fire. A lot. It's nothing fancy. Amateur magecraft, really. I've got a good grasp on Reinforcement, but only used on myself. I couldn't turn wood into metal or anything like that, but I hear a specialist could probably use a broom like a sword if he wanted."

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
"Th...." Shirou's beginning to say something to Aoko, but it drizles off into nothing. How's he supposed to answer that? "... ...hrmngh. I don't know...artificial circuit? I thought I had to make one each time..." He answers stubbornly. How's he supposed to have known better if nobody told one? "But the first time I made a sword like this one I guess I overdid it. I was sore for a few days and half my body was numb and sluggish.." he's probably lucky he didn't paralyze himself for life. "I know how dangerous it is!" he bites down on the urge to say 'idiot,' out of politeness, despite his frustration. "...After that the magic Circuits got easier to use though. Like I could just... there aren't any good words for it. But it's like turning them on and off?"

What kind of spirit does Shirou have, to do something so ridiculously hard and dangerous for YEARS and only getting minimal results...? And then EXPLODING open his switch?

But then the faux pas he just committed is explaind. And this is apparetly a MUCH BIGGER DEAL to him than accidentally killing himself with poor magecraft. His face goes white with horror... and then...

He bows deeply, hands clapping together and folded... extremely apologetic body language, that's for sure. "I'msorryI'msorryIdidn'tthinkaboutthatatall!" He blurts out in a hurry.

"It's... just... the sword was so beautiful I felt it was a shame not to use it for something good..." What kind of explanation is that? Shirou seems to be blabbing things without thinking.

It is indeed a beauteous blade, that's for sure. How could such a beautiful blade be so accursed...?

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
The marshal takes a few more deep breaths, reaching for the famous calm that he had relied on for so many years. Although it was a detail that never made it into the history books, Bedivere was perhaps the most unflappable of the king's knights. Although there were times when he had let slip that careful control, in most cases he could be depended on to have a level head and sound advice; somewhat famous for having a cool head even among the cooler heads of the Round Table.

Yet he was never a proud or vain person. Those details were quickly lost to history, as were many other details about him, it seems. Few remembered his military position, or his role in so many of their campaigns against the Saxons. And virtually no one remembered that his actions – however involuntary – had won the impossible battle in which Caliburn was lost.

Calm once more, albeit a little more subdued than he had been, Bedivere turns his attention back to Aoko. He regards the magician somewhat dubiously. "It is not all witchcraft, no, I am aware. But it seems to be the only suitable explanation for how some of the things I have seen function." He shakes his head, slowly. "I have made the acquaintance of a Wisewoman, a witch, who visits Dún Reáltaí, at times, although she is of another world. And the filídh of Dál Riata were not dissimilar," he adds in a quiet murmur, "although the use of magic was not the only role that they fulfilled."

Oddly, he seems to be rubbing at those command seals when he mentions the last, as though he were almost uncomfortable.

Aoko inches closer to Saber, and something in Bedivere's posture seems to grow a little more tense. Habit, perhaps. He had also served as her bodyguard for many years; people attempting to get physically closer often meant trouble – but he doesn't comment, although he might regard her a little warily.

Shirou, however, earns a long, hard look from the marshal. For a moment it almost seems as though he may not be inclined to forgive this trespass... but his expression seems to fall, a little. He can almost appreciate that point of view, of wanting to redeem Clarent, and to use it for a just purpose once again after it was stained with so much wrongful blood... but... no. There are lines he is not yet ready to cross.

"Do not bring it forth again in my hall," Bedivere says instead, very softly. "I will forgive you this, for you had no way of knowing, as I have not told you this tale. But I will not suffer the presence of that accursed blade, real or magicked." His voice seems to drop even more, and his eyes slide away. "Forgive me. I did not mean to speak harshly. I... am... not ready, yet, to see that blade again."

Saber (346) has posed:
"I see," the jade-eyed knight replied, mulling over that explanation of the different kinds of magecraft. She tilted her head curiously when she found herself examined, however. In truth, Saber understood little of the strange magic circuit Merlin had generated within her using dragon's blood or some such. Said to be the pinnacle of holy beasts, dragons were sacred in Britain, and one in particular was said to have slumbered beneath the land, forming the western mountain ranges. It was also said to be the personal guardian of the Pendragon line, though Arturia had never particularly thought on it. What she knew was that something was infused with her ciruits, creating a Core which had granted strength far beyond what a girl of her stature should have been capable of.

Or so merlin had obliquely hinted at. But with that geezer, she could never be sure.

What she understood was that in spite of the artificial youth Caliburn and Avalon had bestowed, she had been able to wield nearly any melee weapon effortlessly. Becoming a Servant had only amplified that strength. And perhaps to many magi, that Core might have been absolutely fascinating.

Arturia's attention, however, was on keeping the violet-eyed knight calm. Nothing had affronted his personal dignity for a while...no, everything had to do with his self-enforced role as her guardian. His regard was a comfort but a part of her feared he was going to get himself killed if he took it too far. A strange thought, given Bedivere's traditional reserve. But Camlann had left lifelong scars that were only beginning to partially heal. Some never would, not completely.

"In battle, you must learn to use every advantage you have," Saber explained to Shirou, giving her best diplomatic effort. "That is, so long as it is in accordance with the Virtues. However, it would be for the best not to conjure that sword here."

Her hand remained lightly on the upper arm of her marshal, and perhaps that might have seemed rather informal and familiar for a simple king-and-knight relationship, or even a Master-Servant one.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"Yooooou, are amazing!" Aoko suddenly comments, backing away from Saber with a grin. She brings her hands up to make a frame with her fingers, trying to make a perfect rectangle around the king's shape to isolate her from the background noise.

"Oh, I wonder if Merlin knew what he was missing out on, not teaching you magecraft. If you were a magus, king, you would put the best of them to shame if only through the overwhelming quality of your system. I guess the quantity isn't exceptional, but the quality! Hm. In your terms, I guess you might be able to rank your Magic Circuits as an EX, or some of the higher variants of A. I'm not very clear on how the system works exactly. Quantity... I'd need a longer time to tell for sure. This here third-rate magus examining you is just a measly little C in quality and E in quantity. You could say I drew the short straw."

Perhaps to Bedivere's great joy, Aoko finally leaves the king alone, to look back towards Shirou. "Ah, c'mon, don't hit yourself like that. You what to know what I see when I look at you now? I see someone who practiced magic the hard way and actually got scary good at doing one thing like that. And I think I can teach you to do it the easy way instead. Picture what you'll be able to do when all that energy you've been wasting all this time is suddenly in your hands! It's like you learned to play a sport with a blindfold, got good, and now I'm telling you the blindfold wasn't necessary at all. There'll be a period of adjustment, but once you do..."

Well, she couldn't predict, really.
Shirou's kind of an unique case.
Never seen anyone push Gradation Air that far.

"Anyway, phew! Here I came to meet a hero and it turned into an all-out exchange. Nothing blew up yet so I'm calling this a good day!"

Sir Bedivere (482) has posed:
Aoko steps away from Bedivere, and the silver-haired knight seems to relax visibly. Most of his wounds seem to be rebandaged, now, thankfully. He looks tired, though; having been given a bit of a scare after Clarent's appearance, and perhaps still catching up on his rest after being mauled a bit by White Len's happy fun murdergames.

Wearily, he reaches up to cover the hand at his forearm.

"Forgive me," he murmurs, quietly. "I am tired. I will take my leave, here, if you do not mind..."

Carefully, and a little unsteadily, he pushes himself upright, glancing back to the others. "It was a pleasure to see you again, Lady Aoko. Master Shirou. Lady Aoko, you are free to visit at any time." He dips his head respectfully to them, carefully and slowly making his way to the stairwell, and wearily dragging himself up Dún Reáltaí's unforgiving five flights of stairs. He must be tired; and perhaps still a little shaken after seeing Caliburn once more.

With that, then, he's soon gone.

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
And now Saber's lecturing at him too. Shirou's shoulders sag a bit. "...Take care, Sir bedivere. Sorry again. I hope your wound heals quickly... that probably stings." He'll have to go and do something as an apology. Maybe figure out some new armor arrangements for the knight?

He nods in agreement with Saber. "...I'm really sorry. G-geeze, with what he said, I'm surprised you're not more upset... that was really stupid of me." Again he bows his head at her, ashamed....

Though Aoko stuns him out of that. "E-easy way?!" ...There IS an easy way?!

Wow, that's scary.
Really scary.

For some reason, Shirou stifles down the urge to gulp when Blue's looking at him that way.

There's something a little scary about her. Though, for whatever reason, Shirou seems more oblivious towards it than most magi.

Aoko Aozaki (591) has posed:
"Sure, sure! Thank you, Saber, Sir Bedivere. It was interesting!"

And counter-expectations.

As the the knight and the king withdraw, Aoko reaches down to grab her red coat again, putting it back on. She smiles at Shirou, producing a phone number from her pocket to hand it to home.

"Here, if I'm not on the radio, try calling me! And yes! Easy. Hang on." She looks around. Bedivere and Saber are goooone, soooo...


Aoko points at a window. With just one finger extended, her entire arm suddenly flares with blue light, and in less than a second, the Magic Circuits in her ribs and that one arm don't just light up, they hum. They produce sound, like a rocket engine flaring up. No spell is actually cast, but a bright blue beam of light shoots from the tip of her finger out the window, barely small enough to fit.

It nicks the corner a bit.

"Right! Haha~. Time to go!"

Preferably before Bedivere comes back to check what THAT was.

Emiya Shirou (560) has posed:
"....Oni....." Shirou's left speechless. Did she just... no, what DID she do? He's left holding a phone and... staring at her. Did she LASER the window's edge? Shirou's wide-eyed. Awed and... oh dear, Bedivere's gona have a fit when he finds out about that.

....IF he finds out about that...

Someone'd better start working at that to get rid of the scorch marks... "....They hummed like a jet engine..." What? He has no idea what he hard, but it wasn't the laser.