And a tragic scene to go with it.
It had been thoroughly ruined, to the point where one could not begin to tell what the perpetrator had intended to destroy. It was as though a storm had raged through and wrecked the workshop, leaving nothing to remind a viewer of its former appearance.
This was no storm, of course, but deliberate destruction. After all, how could a storm wash over this place, in an underground water tank? The carnage wrought on Caster’s workshop could only have been caused by the power of an anti-army or perhaps an anti-fortress Noble Phantasm.
“Oh God… this is too much!”
Uryū Ryūnosuke could do nothing more than weep and wail in despair as he looked upon the scene of this tragedy. An onlooker might have been moved to sympathy upon seeing his pitiful, agonized form… that is, if they knew nothing of him.
Ryūnosuke and Caster had been busy hunting down fresh meat the whole of last night. But when they returned to their workshop, flushed with joy, they were greeted by this scene of utter devastation.
“The art pieces we worked so hard to create… it’s too much! How can humans do this kind of thing?!”
Ryūnosuke’s shoulders shook as he sobbed. Caster gently gathered him into his comforting embrace.
“Ryūnosuke, you still haven’t seen the true evil lurking in the hearts of men, so your grief is understandable… what you need to realize is that only a small amount of people can truly comprehend beauty and harmony. The others, the rest of the rabble, will only react with bestial jealousy when they are exposed to sacred artwork. To them, beautiful things are nothing more than targets to be destroyed."
Naturally, Caster was also furious at the destruction of his sanctum. However, he had no choice but to swallow his anger and calmly accept the situation. After all, he had once been the general of a nation’s armies. His battle intuitions told him that it would be dangerous to directly confront an enemy who could destroy all the demons he had posted as sentries and wreck his workshop so thoroughly.
That Ryūnosuke had not remained in the workshop last night was also a blessing of sorts. With that in mind, Caster’s rage slowly mellowed.
“You need to know that our creations will often be destroyed by these rabble… because of that, we cannot be overly sentimental toward our art pieces. Everything we make will inevitably be destroyed. Thus, as creators, we should take joy in the act of creation.”
“You mean… it doesn’t matter if what we make is destroyed, because we can always create again?”
“Exactly! Ryūnosuke, that sharp understanding of yours is definitely the best thing about you!”
Hearing that, Ryūnosuke brushed the tears from the corner of his eyes as Caster laughed heartily. He sighed deeply as he looked around his surroundings.
“Is this God’s punishment because we pursued our happiness too much?” he mumbled.
Caster’s attitude suddenly changed as he heard Ryūnosuke’s words. He firmly gripped Ryūnosuke’s shoulders, turning him so they were face to face. A sharp glint flickered in his eyes as he looked at Ryūnosuke’s expression.
“I’ll only say this once, Ryunosuke… God does not punish humans. God only plays with humans.”
Bluebeard’s eyes burned with emotion, but his face was blank. It was almost as though he was a different person, compared to the tense mood he had had earlier.
“Once upon a time, I committed blackest sacrilege, the most vile, the most foul thing a man could ever do. Ryūnosuke, the sins you have commited are nothing more than child’s play in comparison. But no matter how many I killed, no matter how sinful I became, no punishment from God descended on me. By the time I had noticed, I had walked down the road to Hell for eight years. The harrowing screams and the mournful wails of thousands of children were lost in the nihilistic darkness!”
“In the end I was not eliminated by God, but by men who had endless desires, like me. The Church and King decided that I was guilty, captured and executed me. But all they wanted was my wealth and my land; they simply drew me into a trap to make those things their own. That was not punishment for my sins! That was nothing more than blatant robbery!”
At that moment, Ryūnosuke realized that he’d struck a nerve in this monster – but Uryū Ryūnosuke did not feel fear. Instead, he felt a loneliness and anguish that seemed to have no end. Compared to his prior glibness, the current expression on Caster’s face, as though he had lost everything important to him, made Ryūnosuke acutely aware of the sorrow that this great madman concealed in the depths of his heart.
“But Sir, even so… God still exists, right?”
Listening to Ryūnosuke’s soft murmur, Caster couldn’t help but hold his breath and carefully examine the expression of his common yet strangely noble Master.
“…why, Ryūnosuke? You have no religion and know nothing of miracles. Why would you think so?”
”Because it seemed as though this world was a boring place, so I kept searching. But the more I looked, the more interesting and unusual things I found.”
Ryūnosuke opened his arms as he spoke, as though he were embracing everything in the world.
“I’ve thought about this for a long time. This world is full of so many pleasures. It’s far too much luxury for an individual. If we simply change the way we look at things, we’ll discover that there are endless foreshadowings in here. In the search for true happiness, there must be no greater excitement than defeating the world. Somebody must be writing this, the world’s script. Someone must be writing this long novel with almost five billion characters… perhaps, this author is what we call God.”
Caster blinked silently, staring blankly into the emptiness as though he were contemplating Ryūnosuke’s words. After a while, he once again looked at his Master, and asked in a low, solemn voice.
“- then, Ryūnosuke, do you honestly think that God loves men?”
The serial killer answered cheerfully, “Of course. It’s a love from the depths of his heart. A God who is able to keep writing this world’s script for tens of thousands of years without stopping must love men very much. Hmm… I think God must be doing His best with His writing, while being immersed in the joy of creating His work at the same time. He is touched by the love and courage in His work, shedding tears at the sad parts, and also shocked and terrified by the horror and despair within…”
Ryūnosuke paused, as though to review what he’d already said, and then he continued.
“God enjoys the courage and hope of mankind, but he also likes the sorrow and despair of bloodshed. Otherwise… the hymn of life would lack its vivid color. Therefore, Sir, this world must be full of God’s love.”
Like a devoted believer praying before a holy painting, Caster listened to Ryūnosuke’s words with quiet solemnity. Then, he slowly lifted his head, his expression one of happiness.
“In this modern day, the people have already lost their faith and the governments have abandoned God’s creed. Once, I thought this was a world near destruction… but I am thoroughly impressed that new followers like yourself still appear at times like this. Oh Ryūnosuke, my Master!”
“Ah, no, no, I’ll be embarrassed if you say things like this.”
Although he didn’t know why, at least he knew Caster was complimenting him. Ryūnosuke coyly deflected it.
“However – from your religious perspective, my sins are tiny in comparison.”
“It is the nature of first-class entertainers to take on unpleasant chores to earn smiles, right? Sir, God will surely reward your merciless acts by joyfully returning those fools to us.”
Hearing what Ryūnosuke said, Bluebeard laughed out loud, seemingly pleased.
“Be it sacrilege or praise! For you, does it all seem to be the worship of God? Ah, Ryūnosuke, your thoughts are truly deep and philosophical. That God, who plays with the countless humans in the world is nothing more than a toy himself – I see! Then even this bad joke can be understood.”
After laughing for a while, Caster’s eyes once more bore that forlorn look, the same look a man, madly devoted to his art, would have just before reaching his frenzied climax.
“Very well. Then let us use despair and vividly-colored tears to dye this divine temple a splendid shade. I will let those in Heaven know that they are not the only ones who know what is true entertainment.”
“Do you have any brilliant ideas again, Sir?”
Ryūnosuke looked expectantly at Bluebeard, who seemed more excited than he had ever been in his life.
“Since it’s been decided, then let’s have a celebration. Ryūnosuke, today’s feast is going to be a bit special; it’s to raise the curtains on the new religion you proposed.”
“Understood. I’ll do all I can to make it as COOL as possible!”
That night, Ryūnosuke and Caster had ‘harvested’ five children. These children, brought to this unknown, lightless place, were huddled against each other, shivering as they watched the crazed performance unfold before them.
In the face of these two crazed worshippers’ new religion, the souls of these innocent children would not see even a sliver of salvation’s light.
Glancing out the window on a whim, he found that it was already dawn.
The slowly-rising sun inspired no emotions in Emiya Kiritsugu’s heart, and he continued his task of compiling information.
He had met Maiya at this hotel in front of the city station, three days ago. Now it was a hidden headquarters for them, one of many. The first thing he did was to suspend room service, and then he papered the walls with blank maps of the Fuyuki region. After that, he began annotating various locations on the maps with information pertaining to them.
The data, had been collected over several days of searching on foot, reconnaissance by familiar, the variance of the leylines, tapping the police radio for information on missing people, and simple surveillance of various locations. And all these data points, dutifully indicated on the map nocturnal happenings in Fuyuki City regardless of size or importance like a mosaic, showed a state of utter chaos.
Emiya Kiritsugu’s right hand continued its work of writing while his left hand mechanically shoveled his nutrition – hamburgers from a fast food restaurant he bought while investigating – into his mouth. For nine years, Emiya Kiritsugu had eaten at the table of the Einsberns, who were merely a hair removed from royalty themselves. He had grown tired of the cuisine. This fast food, filled with the sense of slaughter, was more suited to his tastes. Being able to eat without interrupting one’s words or thoughts was better than anything, no matter how you looked at it.
When he had finally finished with his markings on the map, Kiritsugu studied them, and re-determined the direction of the Heaven’s Feel.
Archer – there was no movement at the Tōsaka house. Like a hibernating bear, Tokiomi had closed his doors with an unfathomable silence and not left ever since the defeat of Assassin.
Berserker - the silhouette entering the Matō house appeared to be a Master, and the reports from the many familiars sent out suggested that he was completely defenseless and could be attacked at leisure, but Berserker's mysterious special ability could neutralize Archer's potent Noble Phantasm. Should he be left alone as a countermeasure against Tōsaka?
Lancer – Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri had begun to act, in the place of her fiancé, the gravely injured Lord El-Melloi. She was probably the one controlling Lancer now. Was she temporarily taking on the responsibilities of a Master through the Book of the False Attendant, or had she seized the Command Seals and formed a new contract with Lancer? If it was the former, even killing Sola-Ui would not cut off Lancer’s prana supply, and it would not make him unable to fight. For now, he would have to consider whether or not to attack Sola.
Caster – the night before, more children had gone missing from the city. It would appear he did not care about the warrant for his arrest issued by the authorities, and he was still continuing his inhuman acts without restraint.
Rider – no clues at all. Being that he constantly moves with his Master in his flying Noble Phantasm, tracking them would be difficult. Appears to be openhearted and forthright, a formidable enemy without flaws.
Regarding Rider and Archer… Maiya had awakened some time back, in the Einsbern Castle, and she had relayed the majority of information from Irisviel by telephone.
It seemed that things had progressed in an unexpected direction, so Rider, left with no other choice, had to use his Noble Phantasm to wipe out Assassin.
Rider’s Noble Phantasm, “Ionian Hetairoi”, was very much a cause for concern. But what Kiritsugu cared about more was the fate of Assassin.
Assassin was a Servant that could multiply indefinitely, but what did it mean? The troop of Assassins that had attacked the Einzbern castle last night must have been their entire combat force. Otherwise they could not have been able to present strength in numbers, being individually weak in combat. This was totally different from the prior farce at the Tosaka mansion; this time, it would be safe to consider Servant Assassin to be completely eradicated.
Then – what about their Master?
Kiritsugu sighed deeply, lighting his first cigarette for the day. In the end, he still felt apprehensive about this.
Kotomine Kirei. The greatest ‘oddity’ in existence during the Fourth Heaven’s Feel –
Kiritsugu still could not understand exactly why this man had entered the war.
When he had discovered Assassin during the chaotic battle at the warehouse street, Kiritsugu had already realized that Assassin’s Master was Tōsaka Tokiomi’s puppet, only responsible for the task of scouting. But after that, Kotomine Kirei had taken many actions that Kiritsugu was unable to understand.
Kotomine Kirei, hiding in ambush at the construction site of the central building, during the attack on Kayneth at the Fuyuki Hyatt Hotel –
Kotomine Kirei, sneaking into the Einzbern castle from the opposite direction during its siege –
No matter how you looked at those events, they only made sense if you considered that Emiya Kiritsugu was his target.
First, he used the ruse of pretending to withdraw from the War, then fleeing to Fuyuki Church to request protection while dispatching large numbers of his Assassins as spies. To make this tactic even more perfect, Kirei should have continued hiding in the Fuyuki Church during this time, without setting foot outdoors. But his current actions have completely exposed himself.
Kiritsugu, originally hiding under the cover of Irisviel and Saber, had only been exposed during the confrontation with Lord El-Melloi, so nobody should have known his true identity up to the day before yesterday. Even if Tōsaka’s intelligence network had discovered that Kiritsugu was taking action in secret, he could not have concluded that Kiritsugu was the one who actually had the contract with Saber. That aside, from the overall perspective of the war, what was the point of targeting Kiritsugu?
It was possible that this could be due to an entirely illogical personal grudge, but that probability was very low. In the process of investigating Kotomine Kirei’s experiences, there were almost no instances where he had crossed paths with Emiya Kiritsugu. There were no friends or relations to Kotomine Kirei amongst the magi whom Kiritsugu had assassinated, or even in the people around them who had been sacrificed.
In any case, what is definite is that Kotomine Kirei will continue standing in Emiya Kiritsugu’s way. It is clear that this man’s actions have already exceeded the boundaries of simply fighting for the Heaven’s Feel. He will not withdraw even after losing his Servant.
Kiritsugu exhaled a mouthful of hazy cigarette smoke with an exasperated sigh as he continued thinking.
He could only feel waves of dread whenever he thought of Kotomine Kirei, as though he were imprisoned in bottomless darkness.
Kiritsugu’s tactics were to ‘confuse the opponent’s mind’ from the beginning to the end. As long as one can see through the opponent’s actions, where he is preparing to attack and what the enemy’s objective is, one can discover his opponent’s blind spot and his weakness. In addition, a magus usually possesses a greater ‘sense of purpose’ than normal people. It is only because of this that Kiritsugu has never missed while ‘hunting’.
But now there is Kotomine, an enemy whom he cannot begin to understand on a superficial or intrinsic level. This is his greatest threat. And before this powerful enemy, Kiritsugu was now all but helpless.
It was as though he had a tracker who could read through his mind and deduce all his actions. This time, Kiritsugu is not the hunter, but the hunted. This is the singular, unforeseen key factor –
“…who exactly are you?”
Kiritsugu finally murmured without thinking. The more he thought about the problem that was Kotomine Kirei, the further away from him his answer became. All he could do was become more frustrated.
What exactly was the point of this search-and-destroy operation? It looked as though he would have to continue operating with the risk of suffering a surprise attack at any time.
Kiritsugu had rented a garage in the nearby town, and hidden a modified oil tanker inside it which could be remote-controlled over long distances. This converted civilian weapon, called a “low cost cruise missile” by urban guerillas, was originally the trump card prepared for use during siege by the Matō or Tōsaka. If one were to drive it into the Fuyuki Church in which Kotomine Kirei was laying low, even that Executor would not be able to survive…
“…Bastard, that’s enough.”
Kiritsugu messily snuffed the cigarette out in the ashtray as he reminded himself of that.
Now, in front of him, there were still many enemies which took priority in terms of elimination. What he had to win was the Heaven’s Feel. From that point of view, Kotomine Kirei was only a defeated Master. Even if the reason he was attacking Kiritsugu was unknown, it would be unwise to be too absorbed with him and neglect the overall battle.
This state of being impatient and frustration irritated him. It was probably a sign that his judgement was beginning to dull. He would need to rest and start over.
It had been over seventy hours since he last slept. Though he did not feel tired under the influence of amphetamines, his fatigue was still accumulating, and as a result his focus and overall condition were both deteriorating.
There was still some time before he would have to meet Maiya today; he should use it to get some rest.
After going to the bathroom, Kiritsugu lay down on the bed and used a self-hypnosis spell to disperse his consciousness. This was a crude way of eliminating mental stress, via the disintegration and cleansing of the psyche.
This self-hypnosis was not a high-level form of thaumaturgy, but the dispersion would cause a lack and dislocation of self-consciousness, so few people were willing to use it. But to Emiya Kiritsugu, it was the most efficient, and thus the best form of rest, and so he used this method frequently.
The scattered consciousness would be restored after about two hours, and the hypnotized person would wake up. Until then, the body of the hypnotized person would be like unto a corpse in terms of unconsciousness – but it should be safe to use it at this hidden place.
Kiritsugu, relaxed after dispelling the image of his enemy from his mind, fell into a deep sleep.
Facing the rising sun, the streets outside the window began a new day.
"It looks like your mood today is fairly good. Archer."
As usual as if he was in his own house, the golden-sparkling Servant, sitting as he wished in Kotomine Kirei's private room, had for an unknown reason worn an unpredictable smile since morning.
Under normal circumstances, when a person wears a smile he often will infect the people around him, easing the surrounding atmosphere, but by coincidence Kirei was of a personality that was not the sort to like seeing other people smiling; moreover, the smile of the King of Heroes in front of him could only be associated with some unsettling things.
"Though I have not yet seen the likeness of the Holy Grail— even if the Grail is a worthless trinket, I no longer care. Because I have found something else of interest."
"Oh, truly surprising. Did you not once scoff that this earth has only forgery and ugliness?"
"That has not changed. But, on the other hand I am interested in watching, until the end, the final outcome of this Heaven's Feel."
Perhaps, the miraculous feast held yesterday night at the Einsbern castle's central courtyard had caused some change in Archer's mood. But Kirei also saw a part of the process, and now in recollection— could it be because of Rider? Or because of the question-and-answer with Saber?
"I, as a person, like arrogant opponents. People who are not constrained by their own humble strength, and so are ambitious. Every time when meeting an opponent like this I will be very happy."
Looking at Kirei's puzzled expression, Archer leisurely waved the wineglass containing red wine and continued to speak.
"But there are two types of haughtiness too. The case in which the person has too low a caliber; and the case in which he has too great a wish. The former, not unusual one is very foolish, but the latter is of a difficult-to-obtain, rare species."
"Both are stupid things without any difference, isn't that so?"
"In comparison to mediocrity, this type of rare foolishness appears even more valuable, does it not? Though born human, but yet visionary of ideals so great that they are impossible to attain with human strength, and so abandon their status as a human to realize this one ideal—no matter how many times I see it I do not grow tired of it, the sorrow and despair of this sort of person."
Archer finished speaking, raising the wineglass as if in celebration, then elegantly downed the red wine inside. No matter how he appeared bold, this Heroic Spirit was completely unable to leave anyone with an impression of even slight avarice. Perhaps this was also his style of being a king.
"You said that, Kirei, but you appear unusually cheerful today."
"Only relieved. I have finally been released from a heavy burden."
The Command Seals that had originally been carved on Kirei's right hand had disappeared. During the battle last night at the Einsbern castle, his Servant-Assassin had been completely eradicated.
Kirei had completely forfeited his rights as a Master. Though it looked as if there had not been any change, but exactly as he had himself said, only now had he truly been released from the responsibilities and obligations of being a Master. Kirei's temporary residence at the Church could finally be considered completely justified.
"Where have the vanished Command Spells gone now? Those existences that are after all the physical manifestations of magic, will most likely not disappear into thin air just like that, will they?"
"In theory, they should have returned to the Grail. The Command Seals themselves are things that the Grail bestows. People who have lost their eligibility as a Master because of the loss of their Servant, their Command Seals should be reclaimed back by the Grail. Yet, if there appears a Servant whose contract has been lifted because of the loss of his Master, the Grail will then redistribute the unused Command Seals it had previously reclaimed to new contractors."
Twenty-one engraved Command Seals distributed to seven Masters, disappearing after having been used once, and the Command Seals that at the end had not been consumed would then be amassed in the hands of the supervisor and commissioned for safekeeping.
"Then in other words, depending on the development of the war, new Masters may possibly emerge?"
The King of Heroes in front of him should not have such deep interest in something unrelated to his own desires.
Though he felt that Gilgamesh's question was to some degree somewhat abnormal, Kirei still continued to explain further.
"Indeed. But to be one of the candidates chosen by the Grail, is not something that can be casually decided. So during the search for new Masters, the Grail will still prioritize the consideration of those people, possible Masters, that had been previously chosen.
In particular, the Masters of the '3 families of the beginning' are even more special. Even having lost their Servant, as long as in that period of time exist other Servants who have not yet formed contracts, they can, under a circumstance of not losing Command Seals, continue to exercise their authority as a Master. It seems that several similar things have happened in the past."
In the eyes of Gilgamesh, who had been silently listening to his explanation, Kirei perceived an unsettling pressure, and could not help but stop.
"What is it? Continue explaining, Kirei."
"Anyway, this is also one of the reasons a Master who has lost his servant in the war will gain the protection of the Church. When there appear openings for other Masters, they will have a very great chance of once again obtaining 'leftover' Command Seals. Precisely because of this, the methods that participants of the Heaven's Feel use against enemy Masters are not to cause them to lose their combat effectiveness, but to directly kill them. This is also a measure to ensure that there will not be trouble from them in the future.
Gilgamesh, as if extremely happy, sneered, then once again filled the glass with wine.
"Then, so to speak— Kirei, don't you have a very great chance of acquiring Command Seals again?"
Hearing the words of the King of Heroes, this time Kirei sneered.
"That is not possible! The purpose of my participation in the Heaven's Feel is the same as my mentor Tokiomi said— to be a support for the Tōsaka faction, and now my assignment has completely ended. Assassin's investigation has been completely finished, Tokiomi-shi has already developed a sure-win strategy against all the Masters and their Servants. Now there is completely no need for me to appear again."
"I must say, I have great suspicion of this plan of Tokiomi's. That guy does not have the ability to obtain the Holy Grail at all."
"You truly speak freely of your own Master."
At Kirei who sniggered, Gilgamesh directed his crimson red eyes sharply at him.
"Kirei, it seems that you have a great misunderstanding of the Master-Servant relationship between me and Tokiomi.
Tokiomi faces me with the manner of a subject to his king, at the same time offering prana as tribute. It is because of this sort of contract that I agreed to obey his summon. Do not liken me to the other Servant lackeys."
"Then, how will you deal with the orders of the Command Seals?"
"I don't care... if a follower fulfils his obligations as one, then occasionally the king will listen to his counsel. That is all."
Kirei could not help but smile wryly.
If Gilgamesh knew the true objective of this Heaven's Feel... his contractual relationship with Tokiomi would probably weaken. Of course, if it truly reached that time, Tokiomi, possessing Command Seals, would certainly acquire an overwhelming advantage.
"Now is a state of competition for Caster's head. The one who attacks last and deals the decisive blow— Archer, it should be you. Now you do not have the time to slowly and leisurely sample wine."
"The way Tokiomi dawdles, it will be long before it is time for my entrance. During this period of time I can only look for something else to do, to kill boredom— Kirei, did you say just a moment ago that Assassin had already completed all his assignments?"
"Ahah, the routine business?"
Kirei had once promised Gilgamesh to inform him of the various Masters' actions and their motives for wanting to obtain the Holy Grail, for his 'entertainment'. So to satisfy Gilgamesh's curiosity, Kirei had also ordered Assassin to keep watch.
"Ah, that investigation has also been completed. I should have let Assassin personally report yesterday night. This way, the effort of explaining it―"
"No, this is good enough."
Suddenly Gilgamesh interrupted Kirei’s words.
“I have no interest in that shadow-like guy. Kirei, this sort of thing is only meaningful information when you say it.”
Although suspecting the intention of the totally unfathomable Archer, reluctantly, Kirei gave a brief summary of each Master's character.
From the intelligence obtained through eavesdropping on the conversations between Masters and their Servants and entourages, their motive for participating in the Heaven’s Feel could be easily surmised.
The Master of Lancer and the Master of Rider had no particular wish of the Grail, and participated in this war in pursuit of victory only for the honor of magi.
As for the Master of Caster, he did not even know what the Holy Grail was. He only participated in this Heaven’s Feel in search of even greater thrills from killing people.
The Master of Berserker seemed to be searching for some ‘redemption’. Because he had fled, he had caused the second daughter of the Tōsakas to become a sacrifice, and was now returning to request that the hostage be released with the conditions of the exchange being that he retrieved the Holy Grail. It seemed that he had a history with Tokiomi’s wife Aoi in the past. He was the one of the five enemy Masters whose motive was the most basely ordinary.
About Saber's Master ― Kirei had to lie to Archer.
Assassin, up till being accidentally exterminated the previous night, had not found any information related to Emiya Kiritsugu. Only that that man seemed almost as if he had seen through to that Assassin being killed by Archer was a fraud, until the end thoroughly concealing his own secrets. It could only be said that to be able to do this under surveillance as strict as Assassin was truly worthy of appreciation. In comparison with the other Masters only he was a special existence.
And, even if Kirei had really discovered Kiritsugu’s true intent, he would probably not have reported this to Archer.
As it looked now, there were still many points of doubt. But even this, did not shake Kirei’s thoughts of crossing swords with Emiya Kiritsugu. This was Kirei’s personal problem, unrelated to the Heaven’s Feel, and he did not have the slightest intention of allowing outsiders to interfere.
Therefore, Kirei said to Archer, it was the Einsbern family’s stubborn wish, participating in this Heaven’s Feel only simply to allow the Holy Grail to descend. But Archer seemed to not have seen through to what Kirei was thinking in his heart, only barely interestedly listening to his report.
“—Hm, to let their hopes be dashed is also not bad entertainment.”
After having finished listening to the motives of the other five people, Archer said disdainfully.
"After all, they're only a pile of rubble. Every one of them does not have any creative thought processes at all. Thinking of seizing my treasure only for some silly reasons… all thieving pests that should be executed directly without need for negotiation."
Hearing Archer's unusually arrogant words, Kirei helplessly sighed.
"Of information that required much work to obtain, do you have only these thoughts? It looks as if I have suffered for nothing."
"What 'suffered for nothing'?"
The King of Heroes, a meaningful smile on his face, said.
"What are you saying, Kirei? The efforts of you and the Assassins have gotten great results, have they not?"
As if sensing that the other party's words carried an ironic meaning, Kirei stared at Archer and said.
"Are you mocking me? King of Heroes."
"You don't understand? Never mind, it is excusable that you do not understand. Because you are a man who can only see what he cares about."
Completely ignoring Kirei's keen gaze, Archer languidly continued to say.
"—Guys who have no self-awareness, only simply pursue instinctive pleasure. Just like those beasts who chase the scent of blood. This type of feeling in their hearts will manifest instinctively in their words and actions.
Therefore, Kirei. When you, through yourself, again recount all that you have heard, seen, and understood, you have already amply shown your inner thoughts. That which your words describe in greatest detail, is also that which you are most interested in.
In other words, observing a person's words and actions, is the best way of understanding his interests. Toys like humans, stories like life there is truly no more meaningful way of entertainment."
This time Kirei also had to admit, he had truly been careless.
He had originally thought that this was only the King of Heroes' meaningless amusement. But it looked as if his judgment had lapsed; the other party was using this method to probe his innermost thoughts.
"Firstly discount that guy you purposely hid the truth about. This sort of subconscious concern is but only a sort of stubbornness. Now what I want to talk about is the person you unintentionally noticed.
Then, speaking of this, of the remaining four Masters, who is it then that you paid most attention to?"
Kirei suddenly felt a strong sense of unease in his heart. At this point, it would be best to end this topic as soon as possible.
Regarding Kirei's indecision, Archer seemed to feel satisfied, smilingly drinking a mouthful of red wine, then continuing to say.
"The Master of Berserker. Called what, Kariya? Kirei, your report of this man was truly extremely detailed."
"... Because his matters are relatively complicated. So the parts that require specific explanation are naturally more numerous. That's all."
"Hm, I don't think so? That is because you are more concerned about this man's matters, so you gave Assassin the order to 'thoroughly investigate these complicated matters'. An order you gave under circumstances even you were not aware of, purely based on interest."
Facing Archer's argument which did not permit rebuttal, Kirei began to review his own actions.
Matō Kariya... he had indeed believed this was a character that required especial attention. Not only did this person bear a strong hatred for Tokiomi, Berserker as his Servant also had the mysterious ability of being able to seize others' Noble Phantasms, considerably the arch-nemesis of Archer.
But in consideration of threat level— Kariya and Berserker would definitely not be first in line.
The Master and Mad Enhanced Servant, hastily prepared, that came forth to the war. They will probably be, of these five enemy groups, the quickest to be eradicated. There was not even need for use of some scheme; merely dragging out the battle into a protracted war would be enough.
As long as let be, he would be his own death. So to some extent, he should probably be considered an opponent extremely easily dealt with. Against such an opponent, still investigating the situation thus detailedly——taking a step back, it truly appeared somewhat insensible.
"... I admit it, this was a lapse in my judgment."
With the humility of a clergyman acquired from long years of self-cultivation, Kirei nodded and said.
"Indeed, after thinking about it carefully, Matō Kariya is but a short-lived and thus weak enemy.
From a long-term perspective, he cannot become a threat, is not worthy of attention. I have given him too high an appraisal, and only thus have to Archer— you, explained too much."
"Heh, is that it?"
Even though Kirei had made allowances, Archer's glittering scarlet eyes, still had an unfathomable expression.
"But Kirei, now let us suppose— in the event of miracle interweaving with luck, Berserker and his Master survived unto the end and furthermore obtained the Holy Grail. What will happen at that time, have you thought about it?"
In the event of, that is, assuming something completely unreal...
The ultimate end of what Matō Kariya seeks is only the showdown with Tōsaka Tokiomi. Not considering his chances of winning, in the event that he was in the end victorious over Tokiomi and furthermore obtained the Grail— at that time, what will Kariya face?
... It did not even require thought; it must be his own darkness. Originally for the sake of helping Aoi reclaim her daughter, but now to claim the life of Aoi's husband. Of this contradiction he seemed still unaware, no, rather than say he is unaware, once might say he is, because of the jealousy and selfishness of his heart, intentionally deceiving himself, hiding this feeling.
When facing that bloodstained victory, Matō Kariya will definitely sink into the dilemma of having to face the ugliness of his own heart.
Archer, from one side watching Kirei silently thinking, smiled and said.
"I say, Kirei. Did you realize the true significance of my asking you this question?"
"... What do you mean?"
Archer's hint made Kirei even more confused.
Did his previous thought process have any areas of inadequacy...
"Tell me, Archer. What exactly is the significance of Matō Kariya obtaining the final victory?"
"Nothing, nothing at all—hey, don't assume such a scary expression. I've told you so many times that I don't have the intention of poking fun at you.
Think about it, why did Kirei Kotomine all along not discover the complete meaninglessness of this question? Do you not feel that this matter in itself is worthy of consideration?"
If this conversation were to continue, Archer would continue to lead him by the nose, step by step. So Kirei just gave up thinking, resting his entire body against the chair and saying.
"You might as well speak plainly, Archer."
"If I had posed the same question to you using another Master as an example, you would definitely perceive at once that this is a completely meaningless question, and directly cast away such a silly question. But with Kariya it is different. You did not believe this to be a pointless question, instead interestedly immersing yourself in this sort of hypothetical thinking.
Completely uncaring that one is doing something so futile. This precisely is authentic 'interest'. Congratulations, Kirei, you can finally understand what is 'entertainment'."
"... Entertainment? You speak of pleasure?"
Hearing Archer's affirmation, Kirei resolutely shook his head.
"In the fate of Matō Kariya, there is no element that would allow one to feel 'pleasure'. The longer his life, the heavier the suffering and lamentation accumulates on his body. To him, an earlier death would instead be a sort of salvation."
"Oh Kirei, why perceive 'pleasure' that narrowly?"
As if facing a student with poor comprehension abilities, Archer sighed deeply.
"Exactly what contradiction is there between suffering and lamentation and 'pleasure'? So-called pleasure does not take any particular form; it is precisely because you do not understand this that you are confused."
"That's not something which should be forgiven!"
Kirei's angry voice, like a conditioned reflex, rang out.
"King of Heroes, only people with evil like you will feel happiness in savoring the suffering of other people. But, that is the spirit of a sinner. An evil which must be punished. Especially you will not be on this path of faith I, Kotomine Kirei, live on!"
"So you believe that pleasure in itself is a sort of sin? Heh, you do make fallacious arguments. You've become a really interesting man."
Just when Kirei was still considering retorting with a few words, suddenly an acute pain wracked his entire body, forcing him to double over.
From his forearm near the elbow came a burning pain. Though the reason was unknown, but this feeling Kirei had truly once felt. The same painful and strange feeling as now-- Kirei had felt it three years ago. At that time, it had been the back of his left hand. That was also when everything had started.
The pain was gradually replaced by waves of burning. Kirei stopped thinking out of surprise, only unconsciously rolling up his sleeve and checking his wrist.
On the back of his left hand, had suddenly appeared the holy marks of fate. The remaining Command Seals, the symbol of which part had vanished after having been used once against Assassin, had reappeared in their original size.
"Heh, exactly as I thought? But this is truly too soon."
New Command Seals. The numb feeling brought about by the intense pain proved that these were authentic holy marks, but even thus, Kirei nevertheless was temporarily unable to regain his senses, stunned and unable to say a word.
This is completely impossible.
At this point all the Masters were still alive. And not one Servant had had their contracts terminated. Being again granted Command Seals under these conditions — this sort of thing was unprecedented.
And in addition, Kirei did not belong to the '3 families of the beginning'. That the Holy Grail would grant him, one who has withdrawn, with the same holy marks—what hopes did it have of him? This was truly a completely incomprehensible, abnormal situation.
"It looks as if the Grail still has high expectations of you."
Archer, with a somewhat sinister smile, said.
"Kotomine Kirei, you should also respond to the Grail's expectations. No matter what, you must have a reason to wish to obtain the Grail."
"I... my reason to obtain the Grail?"
"If that is truly a miracle that can grant any wish—the Grail is definitely able to realize even what you yourself do not perceive, the deepest wish of your heart."
Gazing at Archer's expression, Kirei suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu. Yes — that was depicted in the illustrations of the Bible, the expression of the snake of Eden.
"Kirei. Thinking will not bring you the answer. It is precisely this sort of thought, chained by ethics, that has distorted your knowledge.
Pray that you can obtain the Grail. At that time you will find among the things the Grail brings you, the answer to the true happiness you seek."
This is something Kirei has never thought about.
This is a reversal of the ends and the means. Precisely because he does not know what his own wish is, he must obtain the Grail that can grant all wishes to find it out.
If it were just to find the answer- indeed, there is a way to find an immediate answer.
"... But if it is like this, I will have to personally destroy the wishes of six other people before being able to find the answer. And if I seek the Holy Grail for my own personal intents... I must make an enemy of my teacher and benefactor."
"You must first look for a strong Servant. Otherwise, how will you contend with me."
As if speaking of someone else's matters, Archer leisurely drank a sip of red wine and said.
"Anyway, as a necessary precondition, you must first seize a Servant from the others.
As for what comes after... heh, Kirei, you're on your own."
As if now more interested in Kirei who had been again granted the holy marks, the scarlet eyes of the King of Heroes shone with the light of pleasure.
"To pursue, for your own desires. That is the true way of entertainment. Then entertainment will bring pleasure, and pleasure will guide you in the direction of happiness.
The road has been pointed out to you, Kirei. Pointed out extremely clearly to you."
When it comes to the essential factors of a knight, the first to come to mind should be the sword and the armor, and the other vital one which does not fall behind those armors, is horse-riding.
Straddled on top of the saddle, controlling the reins and gallop on the battlefield at will- that is the expected appearance of a knight. This isn’t limited to horses; other quadruped animals, chariots, or even Imaginary Beasts would suffice. This mobility which far surpassed walking and the exhilaration coming from such freedom is indeed the essential joy connecting together all such ‘riding’ abilities.
For Saber, who had fought her entire life as the King of Knights, the very act of ‘riding’ is something had already rooted its existence in the depth of her soul. The ‘Riding’ ability that she possesses when materializing as a Servant is perhaps the true reflection of this characteristic of hers.
This is really marvelous – Saber remarked in her heart as she gently caressed the steering wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 300L.
The feeling of controlling this mechanical contraption is completely different from that of riding a stallion, but after only one experience she had discovered that this intricate mechanical contraption gave off the delusion that it is alive.
While it is obvious that mechanical gears have no blood or soul, it still loyally moved forward rapidly and sturdily according to the will of Saber, its driver. This deference the Mercedes displayed was like riding her own beloved stead, and it filled her with trust and satisfaction.
“No wonder Irisviel is so ecstatic about driving.”
As she realized this, a small question also invaded her thoughts – since driving this car is so pleasant, then why did Irisviel pass the chance of driving to me this time?
“How does it feel to be driving, Saber?”
Irisviel, sitting next to her, asked with satisfied smiles all over her face. It was a satisfied expression of a mother who had brought a new toy to her child and looked on as the child played.
“It’s truly an amazing riding being. If this thing appeared in my era, it would definitely be something unimaginable.”
Saber smiled and replied frankly, at the same time chasing doubt out of her heart. Irisviel must have believed that Saber would feel happy with driving and then proceeded to pass the chance of driving to her. Perhaps, it was a kind of a reward for her loyalty as a knight. If so, then Saber should also return this gesture as a knight.
“But a Servant’s ability is pretty awesome too. Although it’s the first time you are controlling a machine, the level of your skills can truly be regarded as first-rate.”
“I’ve got some strange feelings too, more or less – a feeling as if I possess this skill I was made to master long time ago. Rather than understanding it with reasoning, I just remembered the controls of the next steps naturally.”
Irisviel hummed for a while, then suddenly a mischievous smile emerged on her face.
“I’ve suddenly got an idea. We should go to the world’s black market and buy something like the latest tank or bomber; if you get in and drive it, then wouldn't you finish this entire Heaven's Feel with one blow?”
Although she knew Irisviel was joking, Saber gave an amazed and bitter smile.
“Although your idea is interesting, I can declare this – there are no weapons in any era that can defeat my sword.”
While Saber’s words seemed over-confident, Irisviel did not beg to differ. Anyone who had fought together with this Servant would testify the truth of her words with their own eyes.
“Speaking of that, Maiya is getting deeper and deeper into Fuyuki city –”
Saber said in a low voice as she looked at the small truck that Hisau Maiya drove in front of them, which served as the forerunner.
“– Is it really alright? Is this house, which is going to be the new headquarters, too close to the center of the battlefield?”
“That is not something worth worrying about. Both the Tōsaka and Matō families openly built their defenses in the city. Other foreign Masters also resided within in the city without any qualms; it’s the Einsbern family who built their dwelling so far away that appear to be the odd ones.”
For the Heaven’s Feel, which on broad principles demanded battles to be secret, the location of the headquarters didn’t have any special meaning. The so-called ‘advantages of the terrain’ is just referring to those elements of the leylines that had to do with magecrafts concerning spirituality.
“Also, considering this in terms of concealment, maybe this new place Kiritsugu chose is even more reliable than the previous castle.”
It seems Saber herself didn’t notice it, but her face was briefly clouded with a dark shade when Kiritsugu’s name was mentioned.
Not surprising, Irisviel had already given up in her heart. That's because the strife between the two was already predicted from the start. Irisviel's current position was to cover up for that. If that happens, she would have no choice but to think more of it in accordance to her reputation.
The strange combination of light van and classical sports car finally crossed the Fuyuki Bridge and entered Miyama. The scenery around them changed completely when they exited Shinto, a gentle and quite style, simple and carrying with it a historical weight, filled their surroundings. Despite being plain, the quiet row of houses makes one feel its history.
“This place really is too close to Tōsaka and Matō’s headquarters. He definitely chose a place no one would expect.”
“It’s said that the most dangerous place is also the safest. In terms of unpredictability, Kiritsugu’s choice is definitely correct.”
Although it was a comment of agreement, Saber voice still sounded somewhat stiff. Saber thinks Kiritsugu’s theories are appreciable in terms of strategies; what she could not endure was the coldness and cruelty of Kiritsugu’s tactics.
Maiya, slightly ahead, gradually slowed the speed of the light van and parked on the side of the road. It looks like they’ve already arrived at their destination.
“Here?... Fuuh. Another really mysterious building, right?”
Stepping off the Mercedes which was following behind the light van, Irisviel’s first words were full of emotion.
A Japanese building that was full of classical elegance as if it was a stage set from a period drama. Even in Miyama, where the passage of time seemed unperceivable, this building should still be counted as one of an extremely rare style. Moreover, considering the large area this wooden structure took, it is an extremely rare example even in the architectural history of modern Japan.
However, the feeling of desolation emanating from this building was also extraordinary. It looks like it’s been lying unused for a long time. This place must have some history behind it as it pointlessly occupied such a large space in civic planning and wasn't torn down, while remained without human occupation and yet bore signs of frequent reparation.
“From today onwards, both of you would use here as your headquarters.”
Maiya, getting off the small truck, handed Irisviel a string of keys as she said those words with a matter-of-fact tone.
“Ah, just give this to Saber.”
“ – Understood, Irisviel.”
Since her master ordered her to keep the keys to the rooms, Saber took the key ring from Maiya’s hand without hesitation.
There were many keys on the key ring. Apart from the keys for the main door and the porch, other keys for the back door and other rooms should also have been included. The shapes of the majority of the keys are the normal cylindrical kind; only one was cast in an ancient style.
“Maiya, what’s this key for? It’s very different from the other ones.”
“It’s the key for the storehouse in the courtyard. Although it looks very old, I’ve checked that the lock has no problems.”
After answering thus, as if she realized the condition of that building again, Maiya's cold face clouded just a little.
“This house was bought only a few days ago. I’m very sorry, but as you can see, there isn't any preparation at all. Maybe the inside isn’t really suitable for people to live in…”
“I don't mind. For the time being, I won’t complain as long as it can block out the wind and the rain.”
Although it didn’t sound like something a high-born lady would say, the Einsbern castle in the wildness wasn’t any better in terms of dilapidation.
“– If so, then I’ll be taking my leave.”
Maybe Kiritsugu gave her some other duties as well; Maiya quickly returned to the light van after she excused herself and briskly departed, leaving Irisviel and Saber who were still standing in front of the empty house.
“Then, Saber, let’s start checking out this new home.”
After opening the lock of the door, as they thought, a run-down front yard without any maintenance for a long time, appeared. The courtyard was full of waist-high grass and the main house, immersed in weeds, gave out a feeling of unease.
“Is this is what people call a haunted house?”
Irisviel seemed like she didn’t care at about this desolate and abandoned house at all, and instead looked around cheerfully, like a bad child anticipating a haunted house in a theme park. Seeing her childish face in high spirits, Saber didn’t even know what emotion she should respond with.
“Huh? What’s wrong, Saber?”
“– Nothing. If you don’t mind it, then it’s good.”
For Saber who had been through countless battles, this is already something she’s used to, so there wasn’t much that displeased her with this abandoned house’s dilapidation. If Irisviel can also accept this, then there’s nothing inappropriate about using here as the new headquarters.
“The inside must have a wooden corridor, and tatami, and paper-panelled sliding doors. Ohoho, I once said I wanted to see what old Japanese houses are like with my own eyes, and Kiritsugu definitely remembered that and did this in purpose.”
How could that cold, cruel, emotionless man, who was like a fighting machine, think about sentimental matters like this on the battlefield? Although Saber didn’t agree with Irisviel’s words, she didn’t say anything when she saw how happy Irisviel was.
Just like this, finished checking all the inner rooms while sneezing continuously due to the piles of dust she had to face, Irisviel finally wore a serious expression and began to contemplate.
“Is this far from your expectations?”
“Hmm. I’m already satisfied with this – it’s a bit difficult for this to function as the headquarters of a magus.”
Despite Irisviel’s weak appearance, she was in fact a first-rate magus.
“Although it wouldn’t be problematic to set up a bounded field around here, when it comes to setting up a workshop… but this is the tradition of this country so there’s nothing I can do. The prana can easily drift away in a house with such an open structure, especially for the Einsbern craft… Aaa, this is frustrating. If possible, I want a room sealed off with stone and earth…”
Saber, suddenly remembering something, spoke as she took out the last key that they haven’t used yet.
“Didn’t Maiya say that there’s a storeroom in the courtyard? Shall we check that out?”
“– Aha, this place is ideal.”
Irisviel nodded and spoke with satisfaction as soon as she stepped into the storeroom’s door.
“Although it’s a bit cramped, I can practice the craft in here just like how I did in the castle. After all, as long as a magic circle is established, I can solidify my territory.”
Maybe Kiritsugu thought about this at the start, and specifically found this spot with a storeroom. After all, a traditional Japanese building like this with a storeroom attached is very hard to find.
“Then, let’s start preparing now. Saber, can you please get the material we put in the car?”
“Right, shall I get all of them?”
“For now, just take the chemicals and equipments for alchemy. Hmm, let me think… right, also take the red and silver makeup boxes too.”
“As you command.”
Saber carefully took out a particularly light luggage from the trunk of the Mercedes. Although it was Maiya who was responsible for packing the luggage, Saber had some idea about what’s in it as well.
When Saber brought the makeup box, Irisviel seemed to have already decided on the location she wanted to create the magic circle at, and said to Saber while pointing at one corner of the storeroom.
“Then, I’m afraid I’ll have to trouble you, Saber. Draw two hexagrams overlapping each other on that spot, with a radius of six inches and facing this direction.”
“ – Understood.”
Saber also knew a bit about basic magecraft, so she could easily complete Irisviel’s demands.
Despite knowing the meaning of the instructions, she wasn’t clear on why Irisviel wanted her to do so.
“Then can you please mix some mercury for me? Strictly obey the ratios I tell you, and prudently – “
“Irisviel, I’ve got a question.”
Finally, Saber couldn’t bear it anymore, and spoke the question she’s kept hidden in her heart since this morning.
“ – You seem to be trying your best to avoid touching anything at all today; is it just me?”
“It’s like that for driving the car, or taking the keys… maybe such things can afford to be ignored, but you won’t use your hands even for the all-important magic circle; there must be some reasons behind it. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is there something inconveniencing you today?”
Irisviel appeared like she’s having difficulties in talking about this, and glanced around. Saber kept asking.
“If you aren’t feeling well you should tell me beforehand. After all, I’m responsible for your safety, and I need to be prepared for such things.”
“… Sorry. However, I really didn’t hide anything from you.”
Irisviel sighed helplessly, then turned towards Saber and stretched out her hand as she spoke.
“Saber, now I’m going to squeeze your hand the hardest I can, is it alright?”
Although she didn’t know the reason, Saber stretched out her hand to hold Irisiviel’s. Those fingers that were too beautiful and fine for humans softly took hold of Saber’s hand – then, they shook extremely gently for just once, and Saber couldn’t even feel any pressure.
“I’m not joking. I did the hardest I could just now.”
Irisviel made a forced smile and spoke.
“Just opening my fingers takes all my strength away, and it’s impossible to hold or grab anything, not to mention driving a car. Just changing my clothes this morning exhausted me.”
“Wha, what on earth is going on? Are you hurt anywhere?”
Saber asked, shocked, but Irisviel just shrugged her shoulders as if it didn’t matter.
“I just didn’t feel well, so I shut off the sensation of touch. Although sealing off one of the sensations would suppress my spirituality in a large degree, it doesn’t have a big influence on other activities. This accommodating convenience must also be one of the advantageous points about being a homunculus.”
“It’s not so simple, is it?! Don’t force yourself when you aren’t well. You should see a doctor.”
“Don’t worry, Saber. Did you forget? I’m not an ordinary human. Even if I catch a cold, I can’t see a doctor – this kind of discomfort is only a blemish in my construction. It doesn’t matter; you don’t need to worry too much for now, I’ll adjust it properly myself.”
Although she couldn’t completely comprehend it, she knew if she kept inquiring about this then the fact that Irisviel is a ‘manufactured’ homunculus would be laid bare in front of her eyes. Therefore, Saber had to stop herself. It was because she knew very well that what Irisviel was most proud of was the fact that she ‘isn’t merely a manufactured doll’.
“Aaah, then I really have to trouble you, Saber. Things like the ones today, driving the car and creating the magic circle, would all need your help, my lord knight.”
“– These are what I should be doing. It’s me who asked questions that shouldn’t be asked, I’m sorry.”
“Alright alright. Then, let’s hurry and make the magic circle. As long as I can rest properly in a magic circle connected to the leylines, my situation would improve.”
“As you command. Then, please repeat the steps of the construction.”
Then, the duo began the creation of the temporary workshop in the storeroom. Saber concentrated on the creation of the magic circle of the Einsbern craft after she refined the mercury according to Irisviel’s instructions. Like two harmonious sisters, the two of them busied themselves together in the storeroom, surrounded by a happy atmosphere.
But Saber would never have imagined that this happy time she spent with Irisviel in this storeroom and their smiles would be the final beautiful memories about this noble princess that she would hold.
From the distant west, an army arrived, sweeping rolls of dust at its wake. No one dared to underestimate this invading army since the beginning.
Rumors about its might had already swept through the entire country like a gale long before this army arrived. Usurping the throne of the small country Macedonia in the far west country of Greece, the young king had since then subdued the neighboring countries in the blink of an eye, and became the leader of Corinth.
It was said that his ambition crossed over the Straits, and he had wanted to extend his insolent neck into this great empire of Persia.
Of course, none of the brave warriors who swore utter loyalty to protect their glorious country would bow their heads before the invader. The warriors bet their augustness and honor as soldiers upon this and countered the attack of Alexander’s army. However, the soaring morale of the enemy that appeared before them terrified them horribly, and they shivered in fright.
It was not due to the command of gods or the call of the greater good; all were only to fulfil a tyrant’s desire of conquest. However – why would these soldiers have such a soaring morale, such a mighty fighting spirit? Even those warriors who swore to protect their country till their death could not contend with them.
However, it was not this that truly shocked the defeated generals.
Young Alexander, standing in front of the captives, opened his mouth and spoke as if he was a kid pulling a prank – what I want isn’t your country. I want to keep progressing toward the East.
Then, is this country merely a foothold for his continuing conquest? – No, of course not.
Then, could it be that his ambitions even exceeded the Iranian plains, and wants to conquer distant India? – No, it’s the East even further away than that.
Seeing that none of his foreign subjects could guess his intentions, the King said loudly.
“My goal is the end of the world. My destination is the furthest border of the East. I want to behold Oceanus with my own two eyes. I want leave my footprints at the beach beside that endless sea.”
Of course, no one believed in his words, and they all considered it as boasts that he used to conceal his true intentions.
But this man really did return the domination of his conquered lands to the local nobles, and brought his army away with him continuing towards the East. The defeated generals finally understood when they watched, dumbstruck, his back disappearing into the distance.
None of those ‘reasons’ that the tyrant said were lies.
He was only progressing towards the East, and swept away those who stood in his way.
How pitiful and deplorable were those soldiers who discarded all their glory and riches and left their homelands to follow him!
At first, they also felt indignant.
And they thought how deplorable they are that they have to fight due to such a foolish reason.
But very soon they, who had lost everything, suddenly thought.
What would they see behind that mountain –?
What would they see at the other side of the sky –?
To explore the unknown world; isn’t that the dream that all men had once possessed in their youth?
But as their age increased those men, who had to cement their positions and keep climbing up the social ladder, simply discarded the dream of their youth for those illusionary glories and titles. Now, this man shattered their reason of existence in one night’s time – and once again ignited the dream they had longed for in their hearts.
The men who finally understood this held up the weapons in their hands once again.
They were neither heroes, nor generals- they were just ordinary youths, having just taken out their armor and weapons from the inside of the storeroom. Those hearts from which pride and willpower had been lost, regained only the heavy thumpings of their hearts at that time, and they went after the back of the great king traveling to the east.
Thus, the army of the King increased endlessly with his victories on his road of progress.
How incredible were those people if they were to be beheld by others' eyes!
Heroes who were once defeated, generals of vanquished armies, and kings who lost their throne; everyone walked together, shoulder by shoulder, with the same smile on their faces and the same light sparkling in their eyes.
Towards Oceanus –
The men called loudly together.
Forward, to the East, to the more distant East!
Until, together with ‘that man’, they behold the legendary beach.
The long march still continued on without end.
Across boiling deserts, over chilling snow-capped mountains, fording billowing rivers, chasing away ferocious beasts, and fighting for their lives for times out of count with those alien tribes never seen before and the unknown weapons and strategies they deployed.
Innumerable soldiers died in foreign lands.
Their sight scattered while they stared at the back of the King, who continued forward.
Their hearing faded while they listened for the sounds of the tide from the distant East.
Even when they died in battle after giving all they had, their faces still held a proud smile until the end.
Very soon – they’d be able to return to the image in their dreams, the evening-mist-covered seashore that they had once seen.
There, no other sounds existed apart from the sound of the waves ceaselessly splashing against the shore; a distant and far-away sea that one cannot see the end.
That is the scene that their King described for them, but they never got to see for even once in their lives.
Therefore, this isn’t a scene in their memories –
But a scene that they continued to long for in their hearts during their heroic crusading lives.
The youth seemed to hear a billowing of the tide when the dream of the Heroic Spirit’s memories that was transmitted from a distant time and space ended.
That billowing had, perhaps, always echoed in his heart.
Rider agreed without a question as soon as Waver mentioned that they should go have a stroll in the streets.
Of course, for Waver, there was nothing that interested him much in this eastern little town compared to his hometown London. He just wanted to find a book.
Although the easiest way to find books is to use the library, it would appear a bit inconvenient when a giant such as Rider was following him. Moreover, it’s clearly foolish to bring a loud guy such as Rider into the library, which demands silence. Besides, Rider had a history of destroying the library when he was first summoned out. It’s going to be problematic if he went along, got recognized, and Waver had to pay for the damages.
So he had to search in the bookshops – he had to go to larger shops to find English books as local bookshops usually only sell books in the native language. However, a market that is too busy can also be problematic.
It was the first time Waver walked in the streets of Fuyuki Shinto during the day. It was reasonable as he hadn’t had anything in particular that needed him to come out during the day until now. The morning streets were completely void of the nocturnal feeling full of a demonic aura, and the warm sunlight and fresh air can make one’s mood very glad.
“Say, what on earth got into you this time?”
“Nothing in particular; just wanted to lighten my mood.”
Waver replied, his face full of annoyance, to Rider’s rascally question. It wasn’t as if he had something that irritated him or that he was unsatisfied with Rider’s work; it was that pointless actions such as to lighten his mood has nothing in common with Waver’s strategies.
Anyways, no matter what – he wanted to completely forget about the War of the Holy Grail even if for only a little while. That was the truth.
The meaning of joining this War of the Holy Grail had changed a little in Waver’s heart. While these changes were small they completely took over all processes of his brain, making his mind depressed or even suffocating.
“– Alright alright, just stop asking why. Anyways, weren’t you yelling since the day before yesterday that you want to stroll at some busy place?”
“Mmm, the pleasure of feeling the bustling atmosphere in a foreign market is not any less than the pleasure of battles.”
“… Countries brought into war and strife because of such reasons are pitiful indeed.”
Waver mumbled helplessly.
Hearing his words, Rider tilted his head as if very surprised, and asked.
“What’s wrong, kid? You talk as if you saw it with your own eyes.”
“Alright alright, just pretend that I didn’t say anything.”
A rare number of Masters who had established a contract with a Servant can experience former memories of the Heroic Spirit in the form of dreams. Waver was reluctant to mention what he dreamed of this morning although he didn’t know if Rider knew about this. No one should want others to see through events in their memory; moreover, Waver didn’t intentionally want to see those memories in the first place.
Rider immediately expressed immense interest to the shops around them as soon as they arrived at the bookshop in the shopping street in front of the station. It seems like Waver won’t need to worry whether this King of Conquerors will stir up some trouble before Waver’s proper business is done.
“Then I’ll deal with some business in this bookshop.”
“Basically, you can do whatever you want, but you absolutely must not step out of this shopping street. We can’t be careless even during the day. You need to be able to rush to me immediately if I am attacked.”
He didn’t even know if Rider was listening at all. Anyways, Rider’s big eyes, sparkling with light, were completely focused on the surrounding restaurants, toy shops, gaming arcades and food stalls already.
“… Don’t conquer, don’t invade.”
“Huh what!? Seriously…”
Worried that they might draw attention if they took too long here, Waver stuffed his wallet into the King of Conquerors’s thick palm.
“Don’t steal anything, and don’t you think about eating without paying! Go use money to buy something if you want it! Do you need me to use the Command Seal to tell you this again properly?”
“Hahahaha! Don’t be so nervous. Macedonian decorum is applicable to all civilized men in any country.”
There was no way to know if he really understood what Waver meant. Rider disappeared excitedly into the crowd of packed and raucous shoppers after he left this indifferent reply. Waver could only sigh as he looked at Rider’s gradually disappearing figure. Although he was still seemingly slightly worried, Rider is extremely adaptable to foreign cultures despite his careless demeanor. The soft methods he used against the MacKenzie couple last night was the best testimony.
However, if Rider spends all the money in the wallet Waver just gave to him, then half of all the funds he prepared for the Fuyuki Holy Grail War would have disappeared. Yet, compared with having Rider trigger some unsolvable problem, it would actually be cheaper to avoid that with spending this amount of money. As long as he can get the Holy Grail, it won’t matter if he doesn’t have the return fare. Waver had more or less matured a little for him to progress from his originally stingy personality to his current caliber of indifference towards money.
For Waver – he had no plans of buying the book he wanted even if he really did find it. It would be enough to just finish reading it in the bookshop. This was because Rider would definitely interrogate him about his reasons if Rider got to know about this book he wanted to read. Therefore, Waver didn’t want to take the risk in buying it.
Perhaps because there were too many foreign residents here, the foreign language shelves not only contained tourism booklets and vulgar paperbacks but also a large variety of other books. Although Waver didn’t expect to really find the target, he found it easily contrary to his expectations. Waver immediately began to quickly browse through the content of the book.
He forgot about time as soon as the book was in his hands. This was Waver’s speciality that didn’t change since childhood. He has the confidence that he won’t lose to anyone when it comes to the understanding of a book after reading. However, in the Clock Tower, this kind of talent he has only makes it easier when researching through books, an ability that’s just like a librarian’s. Therefore, he always thought with hatred that it would definitely be more simple and straightforward had he been the one writing it whenever he saw a book full of unnecessary words and incomprehensible technical explanations.
However, those unpleasant memories were quickly chased out of his consciousness as he flipped through the pages. The content of the book Waver was now reading was very captivating, and it pulled the reader’s thoughts along to gallop together at the distant end of the world.
Waver remained in an oblivious state of reading for he didn’t how long.
Suddenly, Waver felt some extraordinarily heavy steps, different from that of an ordinary person, coming into his hearing. So he immediately put the book back and pretended a calm demeanor. His sight happened to connect with that of Rider’s, who happened to be look towards the foreign language shelves, when Waver turned his head around.
“Oooh! I found you I found you! Such a short dude hiding between the shelves really can’t be seen by anyone, and is so bothersome to find.”
“Normal people are all shorter than book shelves, you idiotic giant! – Speaking of, what did you buy this time?”
A paper bag, so large that it made Waver feel uncomfortable, was held up in one of Rider’s hands. As if he loved the contents inside to pieces, he eagerly opened it and showed it to Waver on the spot.
“Look! So ‘Admiral’s Grand Strategies IV’ goes on sale today, and I bought the open day limited edition! Wahahahaha, my luck rank indeed work as well as they look!”
Waver couldn’t help but feel a passing headache when he saw that what Rider bought was ten times more idiotic that the most idiotic thing Waver himself could think of.
“Say, you only bought the software for such a big thing…”
Half way through his sentence, Waver suddenly discovered that the large paper bag in Rider’s hand was too enormous as packaging for just one software disc. He immediately realised that this King of Conquerors bought the console as well.
“Alright kid! Let’s hurry back and play together. I even bought an extra controller!”
“Let me tell you this: I don’t have any interest at all towards this kind of vulgar games.”
Hearing Waver say this, Rider immediately furrowed his brows in irritation, and said with a heavy sigh.
“Huh, honestly, why do you like to immerse yourself in that little world of yours? …Don’t you want to just find even a little joy?”
“Stop bothering me! How would a magus like me, who’s searching for the truth, have spare time to do these pointless things? I don’t have extra brain cells to waste on computer games!”
“– Hmm? Then you have extra brain cells to waste on this book?”
As Rider spoke, he pulled out the book that Waver just stuffed back into the bookshelf. This completely unexpected action made Waver uncontrollably rebuke him, out loud and nervously.
“ O – O – Of course not! How do you know I was reading at this one before?”
“Only this one was put in the shelf the other way around; only an idiot would miss it – Huh? ‘Alexander the Great’… isn’t this my biography?”
At this moment, Waver wanted to be swallowed by a chasm opening up in the ground. This current feeling of shame was even worse than having his tutor Kayneth mock his essay.
“You really are a weird guy. Isn’t the real person standing in front of you more reliable compared to these records that you can’t confirm? Isn’t it easier to just ask me whatever questions you have?”
“Aaaaaa! Fine, I’ll ask you I’ll ask you!”
Waver yelled, half crying, and spoke after he grabbed the book from Rider’s hands and flipped to a page that he was particularly interested in.
“Historical records say you were a very short man, so why do you appear like an idiotic giant now?”
“I’m short? Where did you read that!?”
“Look at this! It is said that your feet can’t even reach the foot stool after you conquered the Persian Empire and sat on Darius’ throne, and at the end they had no other choice but to swap that foot stool for a table!”
“Aaa, you mean Darius? That couldn’t be helped; I’m indeed short compared to that tall man.”
Hearing Waver say this name, the King of Conquerors laughed loudly and clapped his hands, then said while gazing at the sky with a face full of reminiscing expressions as if he was remembering an old friend.
“– Not only was that emperor’s caliber very majestic, his figure was, too. He was indeed a ruler fitting for the mighty Persian Empire.”
From Rider’s description, the other man should have been a giant of more than three meters tall. When Waver’s brain thought of this he couldn’t help but feel a chill.
“Unimaginable… it’s really unimaginable!”
“If we think along your line, then King Arthur was actually a woman! A woman! Isn’t that more surprising compared to my height?
Ah, anyways, this so-called history written by whomever at wherever is very hard to completely and accurately describe the situation back then.”
Rider laughed optimistically and said this as if he cared nothing about the discriminating records left in history.
Waver, staring at his expression, went on to say.
“You just let other write whatever they want? – It’s history concerning you.”
“Hmm? This isn’t much to be worried about… you find it weird?”
Waver continued speaking.
“Any ruler in any era would wish to have his name remembered by those after him. They’d definitely all get angry if they know records of them, made by later men, have errors or missed something out.”
“Hmm, true. If you can leave your name behind in history, then it also counts as some kind of immortality. However, all these are meaningless to me. I’d rather have twenty more years of life like this compared to existing in such books with just my name for two thousand years.”
Although he didn’t know if Rider’s reply, accompanied with a bitter smile, was his true thoughts or only a joke – for Waver, who had just finished reading the history concerning the King of Conquerors, this was exactly the heavy topic that he didn’t know how to answer.
Alexander the Great, who created the largest empire in history to date, refused to lose himself in the glory of this great accomplishment and continued forward at the same time. The curtains of his life fell after a short period of only thirty years.
No matter how later men lamented the tragedy of his passing at the height of his life, the emotions he expressed himself about his short life had a heavy feeling for others no matter how light the tone is.
“Aaa, even if I had only ten more years; I’d be able to conquer the West as well.”
“…Then, after you get the Holy Grail, how about wishing immortality to it?”
Standing behind the King of Conquerors, who excitedly wondered about the possibilities, Waver finally couldn’t control himself and asked as an interception.
“Immortality? This is a good idea. If I won’t ever die, then I’d be able to completely conquer the entire universe.”
Rider seemed to suddenly remember something as he said this, and his face darkened.
“…Speaking of, there was also an idiot who gave up the immortality he once found. Ha, that bastard really manages to stay on my mind.”
Waver had no idea what Rider was talking about, and it was also the first time that Rider spoke to himself in this matter. Right now, Waver had a new understanding to the meaning of Rider’s wish that he spoke of in the quiz of the Holy Grail last night.
In the afternoon, while the two walked on the road back home, Waver was silent the whole way through.
Everything on the streets would soon be enveloped with darkness, and the nocturnal Fuyuki city would once again become the battleground of the War of the Holy Grail. As a Master, Waver would also have no choice but face this cruel war with his Servant.
There was no terror or restlessness.
His Servant was the most powerful one; that was beyond doubt – because he witnessed the might of Rider’s true Noble Phantasm with his own eyes last night.
It still felt like as if he was right there even when he thought about it now, and he was able to feel the scent of the hot wind that blew the boiling sand dunes along.
An army of cavalry in high morale was in front of his eyes.
And also the majestic and proud face of the king who drew himself to his full height in front of that formation.
Ionian Hetairoi – a Heroic Spirit with such a mighty Noble Phantasm has no reasons for losing. Alexander would definitely defeat all other enemies and obtain the final victory.
That would definitely be called the King of Conquerors, Alexander’s victory – at that end, where would the victory of Waver Velvet, be?
Yes, he would never forget. He was once mocked and looked down upon by those so-called prestigious families and nobilities. He gambled all he had to join the War of the Holy Grail exactly as a counter blow for their contempt towards him. Obtain the victory of the War of the Holy Grail and become the best magus in the world; that was the goal Waver set to himself.
But the War of the Holy Grail that unfolded at Fuyuki completely surpassed Waver’s anticipations… the Servant he summoned happened to be a guy who completely ignored his Master’s command, and acted by himself to fight only with his mighty strength.
If this goes on, Rider would definitely walk step by step towards victory with ease. Meanwhile, could Waver only forever hide behind his Servant with fear, be of no help even till the last minute and just muddle through to the end of the War?
Would he obtain the Holy Grail just because he was lucky enough to draw the most powerful trump card? What would be proven with a self like that? Prove that he obtained glory under Rider’s shadow? At the end, this would only make others continue their mockery.
And if Rider really lost, then – what would a Master as useless as himself do?
This kind of battle… if this goes on until the end, then there would definitely be no changes in him.
It would only display his incapacity, insignificance and humiliation even more when he’s beside an overly powerful Heroic Spirit. This made Waver more ashamed that the humiliation he went through at the Clock Tower.
“– How come you’re so quiet? Hmm?”
A sound came from somewhere above Waver’s head. Looking up, he saw that Rider still wore the usual innocent smile that he found incredible, and was looking down at Waver.
I’ve had enough with looking up at this angle.
I don’t want to experience this angle of being looked down upon no matter what.
I’ve had absolutely enough of you!
Although he almost spurted this impulsive sentence out, Waver barely controlled his mood with the final shred of manners in him, and used a more euphemistic way instead.
“Nothing, just feeling a little bored with you.”
“See, you felt bored after all, right? That’s why I suggested us to play this game together –”
“It’s not like that!”
Like usual, this reply had nothing to do with the question, and it finally reached the limit of Waver’s patience.
“Having a Servant who’s so powerful that you’re almost guaranteed to get the Holy Grail… doesn’t bring anything to make me proud of myself! Making a contract with a Servant such as Assassin would have shown my worth even more!”
Hearing Waver’s words, Rider scratched his head with a snort.
“If you really were to do something so stupid, you’ve probably died many times over by now.”
“That’s enough from you! I have no qualms about dying in my own battle! I wouldn’t be here participating in the War of the Holy Grail if I was afraid of dying!
And – how do I say this – just from when did you become the protagonist!? Always acting by yourself before I gave the order; what kind of a position are you putting me into with all this? Just what did I come all the way to Japan for!?”
“Calm down calm down…”
Different from Waver’s worked-up mood, which was as tense as the tension between a drawn bow and bared sword, Rider still smiled without any seriousness. It was as if Waver was hammering a nail into a bag of rice; he couldn’t use any force.
“If the wish you want to fulfill after you obtain the Grail is able to move my mighty desires, then the King of Conquerors would be completely at your command from now on – how about that? Do you wish to grow a bit taller?”
“Of course not! … Haaa!”
Seeing that Waver’s mood became more agitated the more he talked, Alexander placed a hand on his head, and interrupted him as if saying ‘isn’t this good enough?’.
“Say, kid, you don’t need to be so eager, right? No matter what, this War of the Holy Grail wouldn’t count as the climax of your life, right?”
Isn’t this ritual the miracle of a lifetime? – Waver, who was about to open his mouth and rebuke, suddenly understood Alexander’s meaning. For this King of Conquerors, the Holy Grail is only a method to make him appear in this world again. His true goal is the conquest the entire, wide-spanning world after the War of the Holy Grail.
“If you really wish to pursue a life full of glory and dreams, then go and fight for yourself. It wouldn’t be too late to find a battlefield made for you after all that.”
In front of the miracle that was hailed as being able to grant all wishes, this guy’s wish happened to be just obtaining a human body – just how foolish does this action sound?
However, there is nothing wrong with this wish when it comes someone who thinks his own value is higher than that of the Holy Grail.
Just what kind of a person is this guy, who is so arrogant and confident about his might?
It was with such questions that Waver purposefully checked up on the historical records. However, the more he knew about the glorious accomplishments the history texts listed about this man, the more profoundly he felt that –
This man merely possessed a charisma that was overwhelming and incomparable with other mortals – so great was it that even those majestic and elite armies who worshiped him, believed in him like a god, and could even give their lives to him.
At the end, Waver had to admit – those who mocked the King of Conquerors’s wish as a boring wish are the foolish ones who merely dragged their bodies along from day to day, and spend their life away on nothing.
“I shouldn’t be the only one unsatisfied with this contract, right?”
Waver asked in a low voice after he silently swallowed his humiliation.
“You must have some complaints too, correct? Like why would I, such a useless person, end up being your Master! You would obtain victory even easier if you partnered up with an outstanding Master.”
Without showing if he really understood the meaning from Waver’s heart, Rider said evenly.
“Mmm, you’re right.”
Rider lifted his head and looked towards the sky.
“True, if your figure were more imposing, then it’d look more fitting compared to now.”
The King of Conquerors’s half mocking reply ignited all the anger in Waver’s heart in an instant. As the short Master became even angrier and almost erupted, Rider suddenly took out the world map that never left his side and spoke while pointing at the first page.
“Ok kid, look here, look at the enemy in front of us.”
The map of the entire world was portrayed in the A2 size paper. Rider’s so-called ‘enemy’ is this entire world.
“Come. Try to draw, in scale, the current appearances of us two beside our ‘enemy’. Line us up and compare us.”
Waver signed helplessly towards Rider’s pointless question.
“How can I draw that –”
“You can’t draw it, right? You wouldn’t be able to draw it no matter how fine your pen is. Even drawing with a needle tip would be too wide – us two are the same compared to the enemy in front us, just two very tiny dots.
Therefore, we shouldn’t care about whether it’s fitting or not at all.”
The tall Servant laughed without restraint.
“This body is just one grain of sand in a desert compared to what I should conquer. You and I are the same, both so tiny. Since it’s so small that it can’t be seen, what’s the point of us two comparing the sizes of our figures?”
“I feel even more elated precisely because of this.”
Rider laughed openly, and continued to speak boldly.
“The more insignificant I feel, the more I want to use this insignificant body of mine to rule over the entire world. That is indeed the most exhilarating feeling… Listen, that is truly the heartbeat of the King of the Conquerors!”
Waver was completely defeated by Rider’s vigor.
In front of Rider, whose mind was so optimistic, the irritation and anxiety in Waver’s heart were only hassles that don’t deserve to be mentioned. The King of Conquerors’s eyes couldn’t even see those daily anxieties.
“… Basically, your point is that it doesn’t matter what kind of a Master you have. No matter how weak and small I am, it won’t be a problem for you at all, right?”
“Why would you think that? Oi!”
Rider furrowed his brows, forced out a laugh, and patted Waver’s back.
“Kid, this inferiority you feel is indeed the forerunner of having the spirit of a king.
You’d still think that you are insignificant no matter how I explain to you. However, you’d still persist in marching towards a higher goal even knowing this. Aaa, from my experience, the seed of ‘supremacy’ had already started growing in your heart.”
“…You’re not praising me at all; you’re treating me as if I’m a fool.”
“However, kid, you’re so foolish that it’s cute.”
Rider smiled and spoke frankly.
“If I really made a contract with a Master whose ambitions are not too far from mine, like you said, then I would definitely feel really bored. However, your wishes far surpassed your capacities. Someone like you, who would chase after a ‘far-distant glory’, is the basic guideline of living in my time.
– Therefore, precisely because of this, I really feel very happy about making a contract with a foolish kid like you.”
Waver turned his face aside, not daring to face Rider’s rustic smile.
Why does this idiotic giant always use these unhappy things to comfort me?
Perhaps no one in the world would be happy when others call him a fool.
Thinking that he didn’t know what emotions he should face Rider with, Waver almost wanted to disappear right now –
Right this moment, an unanticipated evil chill suddenly passed through Waver’s entire body.
All the Magic Circuits in his body began to hurt terribly as if they were in a spasm.
Of course, this abnormality didn’t appear because of Waver’s internal causes. It was because an abnormal chaos appearing in the prana of the surrounding air and his Magic Circuits, calibrated to it, fell into an abnormal state with it.
Standing beside him, Rider also looked solemnly towards the East, as if he could deduce this abnormal prana’s initiating direction with a Servant’s instincts.
Rider said in a low voice like a soldier about to walk into the battlefield. Hearing this, Waver also immediately realized tonight’s battle had already begun.
The War of the Holy Grail was still going on –
Having no time to attend to the sentiments still entwined within their hearts, the soldiers will once again throw themselves into battle.
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