No matter what, the ones who perceived the presence of the strange sorcery weren't Waver and Rider alone.
The spell-like waves emitted from the surrounding of Mion River were close to the multiple aria of the ritual magecraft class, something which could not be activated without at least 10 people. Certainly, every magus in Fuyuki city―namely, all the masters participating in the Holy Grail War, would have sensed that at once.
Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri who had newly acquired the rights to be a Master, and Lancer, were at that moment, looking for their enemy from a high place in Shinto best suited for a broad view, which was the rooftop of the under construction Fuyuki Centre building. Tonight, mist of a somewhat strange amount seethed from the Mion River, causing their field of vision to thin extremely. With the eyesight of human beings, only the blur figure of the illuminated Fuyuki bridge could be seen.
“―Can you see what's going on? Lancer.”
At Sola's question, Lancer who was looking through the mist with his super eyesight as a Servant, nodded.
“It really is Caster. Looks like something has set up a camp at the center of the river. As for the details, I'm afraid I can't see it.”
As usual, completely lacking any notion to conceal himself, it was the improper defencelessness as a magus. Caster was simultaneously turned into the target by many other Servants due to the supervisor's arrangement, and yet he was still not aware of it?
“If we want to bring him down, now's the best chance right?”
“Yes. Whatever he is doing, before he delivers his result, it would be wise to kill him first.”
Naturally, that was not all―Looking down at the Command Seals engraved on the back of her hand, which she had plundered from her fiance, Kayneth El-Melloi, she thought. I'm sure other Masters would have sensed Caster's appearance. If I'm aiming for the reward from the supervisor, the supplementary Command Seals, I have to go ahead of the other rivals and defeat Caster immediately.
If they managed to seize Caster's head successfully, these Command Seals which lacked a stroke due to Kayneth's idiocy, would be complete again. Three strokes of Command Seals, the originally ideal form―Her flawless bond with heroic spirit Diarmuid would be regained back. By merely thinking of that, Sola could not suppress her violently throbbing heart.
“I will go out and attack. Sola-sama, please stay here and observe my fighting.”
“No way! Now I am a Master. I'll back you up from your side.”
At those pleading-like eyes, Lancer shook his head determinedly.
“That cannot be done. With all due respect, my lady does not have the battle knowledge like Kayneth-dono does. That riverbank will become a place of death. Even for me, a battle in which I would have to protect my lady, whose defence cannot match up; is almost impossible. Please, please understand.”
Although she was told that, for Sola right now, merely parting from Lancer's side for a short while was a hardship beyond forlornness.
“Or else―Sola-sama, do you suspect dullness in my spear point? That I am fooling about in this selfish fight?”
At Lancer who had narrowed his eyes and asked her that, Sola shook her head hastily. Adding to the humiliation Kayneth “bestowed” towards Lancer was out of the question. By all means, Sola had to make Lancer who still swore allegiance to Kayneth, to understand that Sola was the Master truly worthy of his loyalty.
“Lancer, I will leave the judgments at the battlefield to you. Please fight this battle freely, without any regret.”
“I am indebted to you.”
After lowering his head quietly, Lancer kicked hard at his steel-framed foothold, and leaped towards the light at the street under his eyes.
Looking at the back of that Servant who leaped from one roof to another on the close-up buildings, earnestly focused on the river, Sola saw him off with bitter, painful feelings.
Ever since substituting Kayneth as Master―that heroic spirit had never smiled at her; not even once.
From the base Kiritsugu prepared to Mion River which was the source of the abnormal magecraft, Saber needed just a few more minutes to cover that distance with the Mercedes she was driving.
Logically thinking, since the streets of Miyama town were narrow and complicated, the time required would easily exceed 30 minutes. Nevertheless, the Riding skill of this Servant achieved the miracle of overthrowing this reasoning. The speed of the silver automobile which rushed through the narrow lanes and curves with bumps and close-shaves, had already achieved the preposterousness of making one doubt even the laws of nature.
Springing off from the road onto the path along the riverside, the automobile stopped after it landed with an elegant spin turn. Without waiting even for the car wing door to open, Saber leaped out, and ran up the bank. The fog was thick enough to block the vision of ordinary humans, but it did not block Servants' eyesight.
Sure enough, her bitter enemy was right in front of her, calmly standing still at the center of the river, which was 200 meters wide. Alighting from the passenger seat onto the top of the bank, Irisviel ascertained the figure in the mist with her magecraft-strengthened eyesight, and frowned with an irritated-looking expression.
“Just as I thought, it's Caster.”
Saber nodded, and observed the enemy Servant painstakingly. Alone and not accompanied by his Master as usual, he was standing straight on the sandbar-less river center, as if standing on the water surface. Upon a close look, the thing which was turning into his foothold, was grotesque shadows gathering beneath the water surface. Looks like the swarm of creatures she battled at the forest the other day, had gathered under Caster's feet, forming a “sandbar”.
From the abnormal emission of prana. there was doubt that Caster was performing some sort of large-scale magecraft. The outset of this strange fog which centered about the river, was probably an aftermath due to this as well. Not showing even the expression of him focusing on his incantations, he was merely standing relaxingly― The vortex of raging prana overflowed from the grimoire in his hands, distorting even the space around it.
An extraordinary prana furnace, a Noble Phantasm which compiles the monologic procedures......Falling into the hands of a lunatic, there were no weapons as dangerous as this.
“Welcome, holy maiden. It is my utmost delight to be able to meet you again.”
At Caster who gave a bow in his usual courteous way, Saber's eyes flared with anger.
“You're incorrigible......Heretic, what's your plan tonight!!”
“I'm very sorry, Jeanne. This evening, the guest of honor is not my lady.”
His face twisted with a sinister laughter which could make one shiver. Although he would reveal a madness which did not exist before, Caster responded.
“―In spite of that, to be honored by my lady's presence again is a supreme joy to me. Please enjoy to the fullest, the banquet of death and degeneration this unworthy Gilles de Rais prepared.”
Under the feet of Caster's who was laughing out loud, the dark surface started shaking. The countless creatures which had gathered under the summoner's feet, protruded their innumerable tentacles simultaneously―weren't they swallowing down Caster who was standing on their heads, receiving them?
At the first look, Caster appeared to have been assaulted by the familiars which had betrayed him. However, with his entire body covered by the tentacles, Caster proudly raised the voice of his mad, ringing laughter further up a tone, which was already similar to a strange shriek.
“Now, once again we'll wave the salvation flag! It's good that the abandoned had gathered. Great that the condemned had gathered as well. I am the leader! I am the commander! The resentments towards us, the oppressed ones, surely would have reached even “God”! Oooh the Lord of heavens! I receive the condemnation and offer up my body!!”
The bubbling surface swelled up, and pushed up Caster who was still being swallowed by the tentacles. Before one knows, the number of the creatures becoming his foothold increased. If one considers the depth of the river, that number was already more terrifying than imagined.
“Caster is......being absorbed??”
In front of the eyes of the horrified Saber, the amount of creatures crowding at the summoner's body itself kept swelling. The summons of had to be of an inexhaustible supply. The countless tentacles entwined among each other and fused together, and was already becoming a lump of meat.
The glittering, filthy mucus which could make one nauseous, was pretty much a sandbar of meat; an island of meat. Yet, as if that was still not enough, the assembly of creatures swelled continuously.
Even Caster's figure had disappeared. Only his voice reverberated like the cry of victory.
“O you proud “God”! O you cruel “God”! We'll drag you down from your heavenly seat! O Lamb loved by God! O humans who take after the image of God! At this very moment, scorn, insult, rip apart to your heart's content! We will ride on the guffaws of the rebels, to the lamentations and shrieks of God's children, and strike the gates of heaven!”
The dirty lump of meat had already swelled to the size of a sphere. No, maybe this is the real form of the diabolic underworld. All the familiars Caster had employed until today had to be but the bits and pieces of this; small fries which would not exceed this.
A grotesque shadow rising with darkness as its background. At that disgusting and yet overwhelming majesty, Saber held her breath.
Even the champions of the deep seas- whales and giant squids, could not boast of such large size. A nightmare which governs the ocean in the realm that is outside this world. Without a doubt, that aquatic giant fits the name of a “sea demon”.
It was fortunate that no one was standing with Irisviel at the river bank, but at the other shore of the river, residences had already turned their lights on. In spite the fact that it was late at night, the mad sounds would be transported by the wind there. Naturally, such an obvious mystery would be exposed to the eyes of the public. At the very least, due to the thick night fog which shrouded visions, those able to witness the monster would be limited. The residents' panic would be confined into a restricted area.
In any case, the unspoken agreement that the Holy Grail war should be conducted in secret, was completely violated.
“I have underestimated this fellow......Summoning such a monster!”
“No, no matter how strong a Servant is, the “form” of the familiar they can summon and use should be limited. However, if we were to ignore “using”, there should be no limit to it...”
The supposedly stout-hearted Irisviel revealed her awe through her voice this time.
“Neglecting the controls after the summoning, if it is just “inviting”......no matter how powerful the monsters are, logically, it is still possible. As long as he has the prana and technique to just open the door.”
“......That monster is not under Caster's control?”
“No doubt about it.”
Irisviel's state of being shaken was probably because of the terror she was able to comprehend as a magus. Nevertheless, Saber did not have any pains at grasping the gravity of the situation.
“Magecraft is “the art of flipping through evil”. But THAT is a genuine “evil” which does not apply to the reasoning of those minions. The incarnation of something which have the craving desire of endlessly devouring with thorough greediness. To summon such a thing; that act itself is neither an “art” nor anything else!”
Whilst tightening her fists in anger, Saber considered the magus' madness.
“Well then, that creature is not challenging anyone to a fight.....?”
“That's right. It was just invited to eat. A city like this takes only a few hours to be completely consumed.”
Caster did not even have the recognition of what a battle or a victory is. That demented Servant probably planned to wreck the “Holy Grail War”- the conduct itself; and to send it back, idle. Together with all the lives in this city.
At familiar peals of thunder, Saber turned around. At the open space of the park where it was just the two of them, the shining chariot of god's authority had just landed. Holding the bridles, the gigantic Servant shot an insolent smile at the person ahead of him.
“Yo, King of Knights. What a fine night...is what I wanted to say, but looks like now's not the time for genteel greetings.”
“King of Conquerors......You're still incorrigible. Did you come again to make some jokes?”
As if evading Saber who alertly put herself on guard, Rider calmly raised his hands.
“C'mon, c'mon. Tonight's the only truce. If that HUGE FELLA is left alone, I can't do any killings in peace.
Since just now, I have been going around calling the other Servants. Lancer had agreed. He should have caught up by now.”
“......The other Servants?”
“I have squashed Assassin to death, and Berserker is out of the question. As for Archer...merely calling him is useless. He's the type which would respond to collusions.”
Saber nodded, and with a serious expression, hit her breastplate with her gauntlet hand.
“Understood. I have no objection to cooperating too. King of Conquerors, although it is just a brief alliance, let's swear our loyalty together.”
“Huhu, it's good that we have understanding when it comes to battles......Hmm? What's wrong? You Masters not happy?”
Naturally, it was not that they were unhappy. Irisviel was just somewhat daunted at Rider and Saber's practical-minded sportsmanship, having placed their past grudge on the shelves. As for Waver, he did not even try to hide his wariness, as he peeked timidly from the driver's seat of Rider's chariot, not trying to get down at all.
Be it killing the enemy, or forming alliances, for those who live in battlefields, they definitely have no space for personal feelings, and have to make cold-hearted judgements- both of them probably had the same perspective in this matter. This is the spirit which could not be shared had they not gone through similarly troubled times.
Nonetheless, whatever they were to disregard now, Caster's recklessness had to be stopped. If an oath is something good enough for trust, the most prudent decision now would be to join forces here.
“I don't mind. Einzbern accepts the truce. Rider's Master, is that okay with you?”
At Irisviel's call, Waver nodded reluctantly.
“......Einzbern, what's your plan? I heard from Lancer just now that this is not your first time fighting with Caster himself?”
Indeed. For Saber, this could be called the return match of that fight in their forest. They had barely managed to fight off Caster with Lancer's help, but having acquired incomparable battle powers, Caster had come to fight back. Nevertheless, this time Lancer was not here, and they had formed an alliance with Rider. From the way things are going, it was still not entirely gloomy.
“―Anyway, we have to defeat him swiftly. Right now that monster is probably still being maintained in this world by prana provision from Caster, but once THAT THING acquires independent provisions and starts supporting itself, things would get out of our hands. To stop Caster before that...”
Satisfied, Saber nodded.
“His grimoire right?”
The autonomic summon prana kiln, . That extraordinary Noble Phantasm was now buried with Caster's body inside the sea monster's heart.
“Indeed. We have to settle this before before that guy gets up the shore to begin his meal. But...”
Frowning in displeasure, Rider gazed at that dark green giant which coiled round and round.
“Caster is at the depths of that massive meat. Well, what should we do?”
“Drag him out. Can't do anything else.”
At Rider's grumble, a new voice from the darkness behind responded. Under the street lights, the resplendent silhouette of the twin lances appeared. Slightly later than the chariot which dashes across the skies, it was Lancer. Finally, the three-Servant anti-Caster alliance had assembled.
“If he would just show his Noble Phantasm, I can destroy his technique with a blow from my ......Naturally, I don't think that guy would easily allow that to happen.”
“Lancer, you can hit Caster's Noble Phantasm from the river side by hurling the lance?”
At Saber's question, Lancer laughed audaciously.
“If only he would just show that thing, there won't be any trouble at all. You looking down on us lance-wielding heroic spirits?”
“Okay. So Rider and I will cover the forefront. Is that all right, King of Conquerors?”
“I don't mind, but......Even if my chariot doesn't need road to travel on, Saber, how do you plan to attack the enemy in the river?”
Being asked thus by Rider, this time it was Saber's turn to grin.
“This body of mine has received divine protection from the Lady of the Lake. Whatever the water is, there is nothing which can stop my advance.”
“Oh? That's something quite rare......I really want you to join my men.”
At Rider's self-centered comment, Saber whose beautiful eyebrows would usually ruffle, ignored him with a sharp glare instead.
“You will pay the price of that careless remark another time. Now, digging Caster out of the inside of the monster is the top priority.”
“Haha, aye! Well then, let me strike the first blow.”
Together with his roar of laughter, Rider lashed at the oxen of his chariot, and dashed up to the empty sky with clapping thunders. Not caring at all about Waver's shrieks who apparently hadn't made the mental preparation, the King of Conquerors' galloping Noble Phantasm started the straight-on charge towards that gargantuan sea monster.
“Saber, good luck!”
Nodding at Irisviel who called out to her, the King of Knights leaped from the bank into the river again.
The shiny greaves hit the water surface, and silver splashes scattered in brilliance. But, the tips of her toes did not sink. With hardness identical to a ground, the water Saber stepped on accepted her sprint. It was just the miracle which could happen to the king due to the blessing of the Lady of the Lake.
As she got closer, the figure of the sea monster grew all the more. As if bending over towards Saber, it overwhelmed her with its odious dignity.
Like a group of snakes, the curvy tentacles which extended all over freely, stretched out to intercept the approaching King of Knights.
Nevertheless, neither its strangeness nor its odiousness could hinder her sprint. Right now, fear and impatience were the same in Saber's heart.
“Let's settle this, Caster!”
The beheading strike of the Barrier of the Wind King which was swung over her head with renewed fighting spirit, first hit the sea monster with a merciless stroke.
Somewhere far away, within the thunderclouds of high altitudes at which not even birds fly, the voices of whispers being exchanged over digitally encrypted wireless radios could be heard.
“Control to Diablo I, come in!”
“This is Diablo I, loud and clear. Anything?”
“Request from Fuyuki city police for disaster relief operation. Stop patrolling immediately, get there now.”
“Disaster relief operation?” Hearing those words from the headphone, First Class Lieutenant Ōgi doubted his ears.
If it were helicopters or P3C, he could still understand. But a “disaster” which could call back an F15 fighter from its maritime border patrol, what on earth could it be?
“Control, clarifying order contents. What happened?”
At the other side of the wireless radio, there was a brief, awkward silence.
“......Ah, okay, don't laugh. Over there......a monster had appeared.”
To hear that in the cockpit of a subsonic cruising speed, it could be said to be a first-rate joke. Not laughing was an absurd request.
“That's the best! It was worthwhile for me to sign up for the air defense.”
“Anyway it is an official order. Diablo I, observe and report the situation at Mion River.”
“......It's a joke right. Oi?”
“Diablo I, repeat.”
The irritated voice of the controller told him that he was dragged into this ridiculous prank too. Sighing, Captain Ōgi gave a fixed reply monotonously.
“Diablo I, roger that. This plane is on its way to Mion river mouth for scouting. Over!”
Despite that, Captain Ōgi had suddenly become inclined to believe the content of the conversation just now. When the thought that such absurd conversation might be recorded in the voice recorder crossed his mind, he felt an awkwardness as if he wanted to run away.
“......Diablo II, just like what was said. Turn back. Let's go back!”
“Roger. But......is that all right?”
The pilot of the consort plane, Diablo II- Third Class Lieutenant Kobayashi said that in a tone which did not hide his suspicion towards that absurd order.
Nonetheless, whether it was true or false, he had no choice but to carry out the orders relayed to him. At least, the only consolation was that his destination, Fuyuki city was on the air way back to his base. He didn't know who on earth would take responsibility for it, but for now. at least the jet fuel wasting due to needless loitering would be kept to a minimum.
“If there really is a monster, you'll give us the permission to fight?”
At Third Class Lieutenant Kobayashi's semi-desperate words, First Class Lieutenant Ōgi snorted again.
“If this is a monster film, we are surely the roles which will be killed. The underdogs from Ultraman.”
“That's not funny.”
In the navigators' hearts, with the thunderous roar of the afterburner, turning its silver wings over, the figure of the F15J was as gallant as usual.
Archer looked down towards the distant, waveborne battle of Heroic Spirits from high in the air.
"What a disgraceful sight..."
The King of Heroes rode upon a shining bright ‘ark’ made of gold and emerald, 500 meters above the ground.
Gate of Babylon – the treasury of Gilgamesh, the primeval hero who once owned all of the treasures in the world, stored within it the original forms of many treasures that were praised by the legends and myths of latter men.
The golden ark that he is using to float in the air is also one of those 'divine secret treasures'. Indeed, this is the flying contraption that was passed from Babylon to India and recorded in the two epic sagas Ramayana and Mahabharata as the "Vimana".
"Although they’re mongrels, they are famous warriors at the very least... I wouldn’t have thought that they’ve fallen as low as joining together to finish that filthy thing. There should be a limit to deplorability. Don’t you think so, Tokiomi?"
In contrast with the languid and heedless Archer, Tōsaka Tokiomi, who was permitted to share a seat on the ark, had a heart full of anger and anxiety.
For the most part, magecraft has to be used in secret – it was indeed due to the need to obey this basic principle that the Tōsaka lineage was appointed this land's Second Owner by the Association. Caster's rampage not only threatens the progress of the Holy Grail War, it wholly tramples over even Tokiomi’s own prestige.
It would be a horrid tragedy if the liberated beast were to go mad again. If that happens, then the problem would no longer be a simple matter of finishing Caster's bounty, or properly conducting the Heaven’s Feel. Right now, this monster must be eliminated as soon as possible. The dignity of the Tōsaka name would be at stake if the number of witnesses increased.
"O King, that monster is an evil creature laying waste to your garden. A sinner that deserves death by any means!"
"That’s the work of the gardener."
Archer immediately rebuked Tokiomi’s request.
"Could it be, Tokiomi, that you regard this great treasure of mine as a gardener's hoe?"
"That is not what I meant! But as you can see – they won't be able to hold on much longer."
In truth, it is evident that the battle is progressing towards despair.
Although Saber and Rider’s blades continued to slash the sea demon’s gigantic body with no respite, it showed no signs of being wounded.
Of course, it wasn’t that the Servants were holding back. The unyielding sword that clove rocks and the iron hooves that brought forth roaring thunder; they ruthlessly carved out the sea demon’s flesh, scattering them about in waves of blood and decay. However, the shredded wounds would be filled up by new flesh in the blink of an eye.
The demonic monsters that Caster summoned and commanded previously also had physical regeneration abilities, so it was not surprising. However, the giant sea demon this time was indeed enormous in size. It was as if they were digging a hole in a marsh; the damage of the two Servants combined cannot keep pace with the monster's regeneration.
Even the utmost effort and combined attacks of the King of Knights and King of Conquerors could only slow down the sea demon's progress towards the river bank by a little.
"This is a great opportunity to display the majesty of a true hero. Please, give the command!"
The King of Heroes gave Tokiomi a glance of displeasure. Then he swung his right hand, which was propping up his chin on the edge of the ship. Four swords and spears appeared in the air next to him. The shining primeval Noble Phantasms unleashed a thunderous roar, and flew to impale the filthy mountain of meat that wriggled down below.
Saber and Rider reacted immediately and jumped away to avoid being caught in the attack, but Caster’s sea monster was in no ways so agile. The four Noble Phantasms hit it head on. Their power, enough to split mountains, blew one-third of the giant beast’s body into nothingness.
It was an unprecedentedly mighty impact, but Caster laughed out loud with an even more piercing sound.
"How can it be...?"
Tokiomi was dumbfounded. Beneath him, the wriggling meat mountain swelled up like a balloon, and repaired the damaged parts as he watched.
The physical structure of the giant meat lump was perhaps as simple as an amoeba. It has no bones or organs, and thus no weaknesses. Its movement won’t be impaired no matter which body part is destroyed, and it will speedily restore the destroyed parts relying on its mighty regeneration ability.
" – We're leaving, Tokiomi. I can’t watch that filthy thing a second longer."
Archer spat out while his crimson irises expressed his revulsion.
"But... please wait, King of Heroes!"
"Tokiomi, I used four Noble Phantasms for your honor. I don’t want to take them back now that they’ve been touched and stained by that thing. Don’t take my leniency so cheaply."
"You are the only one who can defeat that monster!"
Tokiomi desperately persisted. As it had progressed into such a situation, he had no time to think about the prudence a liege should have.
"With a regeneration ability of this level, we can only destroy it entirely with one blow. The only one who can do this is you, the King of Heroes, and the Sword of Rupture – "
This time it was Archer who raged, his pupils a burning crimson.
"Draw my greatest treasure, Ea, here? You are senseless, Tokiomi! I should take your head for speaking such rash words to the King!"
Tokiomi lowered his gaze, grinding his teeth, and stayed silent.
Indeed, it is impossible. With Gilgamesh's pride, he would only draw his his trump card, his cherished blade, when facing an opponent whom he recognizes as 'fitting.'
However, there was no other way to completely destroy Caster’s sea demon. That was also the truth.
He was forcibly reminded of the Command Seals on his right hand. Even if he uses one here, he can obtain another one from the Holy Church as the reward for defeating Caster. However – this kind of choice would definitely cause the relationship between the King of Heroes and himself to shatter.
Since that’s the case, he could only place his hope on other Servants.
...And if Caster is successfully destroyed by the other Servants, Masters other than Tokiomi would gain the additional Command Seals held by Father Risei.
The constrained anger caused Tokiomi to clutch his hands into fists. His nails dug into his palm.
Why did things progress toward such an unexpected direction? It was supposed to be a perfectly planned and prepared Heaven’s Feel, so how did it turn into such a mad and chaotic situation?
At that moment, a thunderous sound tore apart the sky. Tokiomi lifted his head stiffly.
The lightless thunder could only be the residual noise of a sonic boom. The paired lights that flew across the night sky, north to south, were the identification lights of jet-propelled fighter aircraft.
The situation was deteriorating rapidly with every passing moment. For Tōsaka Tokiomi, the Second Owner of Fuyuki, there was nothing he could do except to look on.
The strange scene spread below them shocked the two Eagles speechless.
"... What, is that...?"
Captain Ōgi raked his brain and considered the possibility that his eyes were playing tricks on him. Beyond that, he was doubting even his own sanity.
"And there's some strange lights at six o’clock. It's not a helicopter... is it a UFO or something?"
The stunned voice of his wingman, 2nd Lieutenant Kobayashi, coming through the wireless made the situation clear. This wasn’t an illusion that only Captain Ōgi could see.
"Control to Diablo I. Situation report."
"The situation – it's, uh – "
How can he explain this?
Disaster? Unknown craft? Airspace intrusion?
Monster – no, that can’t be considered. There isn't a codeword for that.
In order to explain this, it must be built upon the foundation of current knowledge. However, such knowledge far surpassed Captain Ōgi's capacity of thought.
"I’ll go a bit lower to look at it closely."
"Wait – Kobayashi, hold it!"
A nameless evil chill descended upon his back; Captain Ōgi reflexively tried to stop his wingman. However, Kobayashi's F15 had moved from circling to actual descent.
"Pull back! Diablo II!"
"If we observe it a bit closer, then we can know – "
At this moment, the two fighter jets were no longer onlookers.
The opponent wasn’t a modern weapon like anti-aircraft artillery or missiles, so Lieutenant Kobayashi had no way to estimate the range of the enemy’s attacks. And first of all, it would be impossible to react to tentacles that can stretch over 100 meters in the blink of an eye.
He couldn’t figure out what was happening even after the he lost control of the stick. It was as if he smacked into an invisible wall and spiralled into a fall. All he could do was scream.
Although he died this way, it may still be somewhat fortunate compared to what Captain Ōgi was seeing.
Numerous thick and robust web-like extensions stretched out from the surface of the meat lump on the river and entangled Kobayashi's craft, forcibly dragging the plane down despite the turbofan engine's thrust. Such a scene can only be called a nightmare.
The plane didn’t explode when it smashed into the meat lump. The F15, reduced into scrap iron, sank deeply into the gigantic primeval creature and was swallowed with not a single fragment left.
"Kobayashi – "
Having witnessed everything, Captain Ōgi's mind had gone over the ultimate limit of thought and comprehension, and was left solely with a perception alien to common sense.
Aah, it – was swallowed.
"Control to Diablo I. What's going on?! Report!"
"Eyes, it has eyes, so many eyes..."
Despite the thick mist Captain Ōgi still saw, very clearly, those wart-like eyes that emerged on the surface of the meat lump, which all opened at the same time and stared at the prey in the air above them.
Captain Ōgi could feel that ‘gaze’ even in the airtight cockpit.
That was it. That thing was unimaginably hungry. It focused on the next prey after it swallowed Diablo II, and kept a death glare on it...
However, overwhelming horror instead exploded into violent anger.
" – Diablo I, engaging!"
"W-wait, Ōgi! Just what is – "
He forcibly turned off the noisy radio communication and disengaged all safeties. 4 AIM-7F/M Sparrows. 4 AIM-9 Sidewinders. 940 rounds for the M61 Vulcan. All in premium condition.
Kill it before he gets swallowed.
Ōgi's lips twisted with mad laughter, having lost all normal capacities of thought. At the control column of a F15, the most powerful fighter jet in the world, he was the true God of Death.
Must avenge Kobayashi... rip that thing to shreds, then burn it to ashes.
He turned the plane around, locking onto the target with the HUD reticle. He would never miss with such a giant enemy. A saturation run, firing all weapons at once –
Powerful tremors rocked the plane’s body.
Right behind him – Ōgi battle instincts, pushed to the limit, told him this. However, judging from its results, his sudden turn to look behind him delivered the final blow to his already half-shattered consciousness.
An inky-black figure suddenly appeared on the other side of the canopy, fully exposed to the subsonic convection currents at the back of the plane. Behind his obscuring helmet, his gleaming eyes emanated blazing fire, and his gaze harbored endless hatred and madness as he stared intently into the cockpit.
In the sealed, radio-silent iron coffin, Captain Ōgi gave a final hoarse scream that reached no one.
Tōsaka Tokiomi, his sight reinforced with magecraft, watched the F15 streaking through the air.
The shadow that suddenly appeared on the back of the plane, armored in dully shimmering titanium... only a Servant is capable of something like that. Judging from its appearance, it must be the Berserker mentioned in Kirei's reports.
The blackness on the armor corrupted the fighter jet's outer shell drop by drop as if it was ink.
Indeed, it was Berserker's special ability that once robbed Archer's Noble Phantasms away and transformed even scrap iron into demonic swords and spears ― perhaps that power allows him to use anything and everything that can be remotely conceptualized as a 'weapon'?
The black prana again corroded the sonic silver wings, and even that epitome of modern science was instantly changed it into a monstrous form.
The twenty-meter-long craft having completely fallen under his control, the black knight lightly gripped its back like a dragon rider of legend. His howl, full of vengeance, reverberated through the night sky.
Tokiomi had already been informed by Kirei about the primary targets of Berserker and its Master.
Unexpectedly, the fiendish steel bird, now completely corroded by the pitch-black prana, turned its nose and charged directly towards Archer's airborne Vimana.
"Oho, is it that mad dog again...? Interesting."
Different from the initial battle at the warehouse district, Archer smiled wickedly and rose to Berserker's challenge. Tokiomi had no idea about what may have changed the King of Heroes' thoughts, and he didn't want to ponder about it either.
After all, Tokiomi had already vowed in the past to defeat that enemy with his own hands. He wasn't put off with doing it himself as the other man was an opponent who had more or less troubled him personally.
Standing at the edge of the ark, Tokiomi looked towards the highest vantage point in the area, which would be the ideal spot to spy upon Tokiomi's group ― as expected, on the high-rise apartment complex where he locked his gaze, the opponent he wished for appeared.
That man stood there, this time with no intention of concealing himself.
The left side of his face was like a corpse, distorted and stiff with pain. His right eye was like a devil's, burning with the flames of hatred.
His eyes crossed with Tokiomi's and wordlessly declared battle.
"O' King, let me be the Master's opponent."
"Very well. You can have your fun."
The Vimana glided through the air and brought Tokiomi right above his target. It would be approximately an eighty meter descent. For a magus, such a distance is nothing to be afraid of.
"The fortunes of war upon us."
Tokiomi took his staff Mystic Code, smoothed the edge of his overcoat, and fearlessly leapt down from the sky.
Alone on the Vimana, Archer gazed at the pursuing steel shadow, his eyes burning with a sadistic light.
"A despicable and lowly dog only fit to prostrate on the ground now soaring into the heavens where kings dance... Even as a jester you are beyond help, mongrel!"
He unleashed Gate of Babylon, throwing out a continuous attack of six Noble Phantasms. Sparking with blinding brilliance, spears and blades charged to meet Berserker like comets, trailed by light.
The twin turbofan engine, receiving Berserker's alien power, gave off a monstrous roar. The black F15 used its acceleration to exponentially increase its relative velocity, breaking through a gap in the tightly-knit screen of Noble Phantasms.
However, Archer's Noble Phantasms did not lose their lethality simply because they were avoided. Three out of the six - an axe, a scythe, and a scimitar - immediately spun, changing direction and closing in on the F15's tail.
Just as they were about to hit, the black F15 writhed its ailerons and flaps like a living creature, escaping the blade edges of Archer's Noble Phantasms with aerodynamically impossible abruptness. With a second, then a third barrel roll, the barrage of Noble Phantasms scattered away into the sky. The intense G's of the first spin was enough to instantly kill Captain Ōgi in the cockpit, rupturing his internal organs; but of course, this was just a trifle for Berserker.
As soon as it dodged all the attacks, the F15 forcibly performed an Immelmann Turn and aimed its nose towards Archer, the pylons under its wings sputtering the flames of rocket motors. Two Sparrow missiles attacked Archer's Vimana with vengeance.
Although ordinary weapons would be useless in a battle of Servants, the weapons that Berserker corroded were of a different caliber. Carrying the prana of hatred, every single shot of the twenty-six-pound explosives had an annihilating might.
Archer boldly smiled and placed his hand on the Vimana's helm. Immediately, the ark of light accelerated and evaded the missiles' attack with an elegance that Berserker's brute force control can never compare with. The legendary flying Noble Phantasm, crossing the sky at the speed of thought, has already surpassed the laws of physics.
The mad black knight roared. As if echoing his malicious call, the front stabilizers of the two Sparrows suddenly twisted and once again they bared their fangs towards the Vimana which had evaded the first attack. Even the electronic radar-guided missiles have been transformed into magic weapons that chased the subject of Berserker's hatred like hounds.
However, Archer sneered at the incoming threat, deploying Gate of Babylon once again. He took out two shields and stood them in the sky, striking down the cursed missiles. With the ark shaking with the impact of the explosion, the red eyes of the King of Heroes were gradually stained with a shade of fanaticism.
"Interesting... I haven't played like this for a long time. Even a mere wild beast can make me so pleased!"
Archer's laughter raised as the Vimana's altitude sharply increased. Berserker's F15 once again gave pursuit, clawing at its back. The two instantly broke through the sound barrier, falling up through the sea of clouds in the night sky, climbing ever higher as the dogfight continued.
The thick evening mist enveloped the icy air as Tōsaka Tokiomi descended from the sky.
For a proficient magus, a controlled descent through manipulating mass and air currents is nothing too difficult. Or perhaps it should be said that the degree of proficiency is determined by the elegance of its execution.
Maintaining an absolutely vertical and straight path, landing as lightly as feather with his clothes and hair completely unruffled － an ordinary magus would definitely give a heartfelt praise upon seeing such an exemplary and skilled move like Tokiomi's.
But Matō Kariya had already transformed into something else. There was absolutely no respect or admiration towards magecraft in his heart.
Respect had turned into hatred, admiration had turned into anger. For Kariya, whose body was twisted into a thing ugly beyond comparison, Tokiomi's elegance and flamboyance deserve to be cursed.
You bastard － you are always like this no matter what.
His speech, his manners, and that royal disposition - this man has been 'perfect' ever since the day he appeared before Aoi and Kariya. That elegance and ease had always made Kariya feel the difference in their 'ranks'.
However, that will end tonight.
Elegance, something that this man paid the most attention to, is nothing on the battlefield where every man slaughtered one other. Now, right here, the Tōsaka family creed that was held in such pride will be dragged through the mud, destroyed...
Berserker, already in battle, began to mercilessly wring Kariya out of his prana. The agonizing pain caused by the maddening activity of the crest worms inside him was as if his hands and feet were being slashed by razors. His bones were rent, his eyes blurred.
However, such a pain is nothing when compared to the hatred that tore and gnawed at Kariya's heart.
" － It looks like you've changed, Matō Kariya."
Sharp, narrowing eyes that looked as though they were pitying; Tōsaka Tokiomi's showed his ease before battle and deliberately taunted Kariya.
"Discarding the way of magecraft, yet still longing after the Holy Grail and even returning to it in a form like this... Your shameful sight alone would be enough to cause slander of degradation of the Matō family."
Kariya replied with a mocking laugh. The sound that emerged from his mouth sounded like the chirping of insects even to himself.
"Tōsaka Tokiomi, I'll only ask you one thing... Why did you hand Sakura to Zōken?"
Tokiomi furrowed his brows when he heard this completely unexpected question.
"Is this a question you should care about at this time?"
"Answer me, Tokiomi!"
Tokiomi sighed, and said to the agitated Kariya.
" － You should know it without needing to ask. I only want my beloved daughter to have a happy future."
"What... did you, say?"
Upon receiving this incomprehensible reply, Kariya's brain momentarily blanked out. While Kariya froze, Tokiomi continued with an indifferent tone.
"Any magus with a second child would be troubled – the secret craft can only be passed on to one of them. This is a dilemma where one of the children must fall into mediocrity."
That word echoed in Kariya's empty mind. Sakura, who has lost her smile, and the image of Rin playing with Aoi... Tokiomi's words mixed into his few happy memories.
The image of the mother and her daughters from so long ago － did this man cleave it apart and discarded it just with the word 'mediocrity'?
"This is especially so since my wife is very outstanding as a mothering body. Both Rin and Sakura are born with equal and rare natural talents. Both daughters must have the protection of a house of magi.
Robbing away one's potential for the other's future － no father would hope for such a tragedy to occur."
Kariya couldn't understand the reasons flowing out of Tokiomi － no, he didn't want to understand. He felt that he was going to start throwing up on the spot if he understood just a small part of this magus' philosophy.
"The only thing to do in order to preserve both sisters' talents is to give one away for adoption. Old man Matō's request was a godsend. As a house that knows of the Holy Grail's existence, the possibility of reaching 'Akasha' is even higher. Even if I can't complete it, there's still Rin, and if Rin fails there's still Sakura; someone will always inherit the Tōsaka family's wish."
How can he speak of such a despairing truth with a still expression?
If they both walk the road leading to 'Akasha', then －
"...You want them to fight each other? Sister against sister?!"
Faced with Kariya's accusation, Tokiomi gave an unbidden laugh and nodded with a cold expression.
"Even if such a situation is to result, it is still happiness to the remnants of my house. If we succeed, the glory will be in our own hands; even if we fail, the glory will belong to our ancestral name. There is no such thing as a confrontation without sorrow."
Faced with Kariya, who was gritting his teeth, Tokiomi merely gave a cold glance and called out mockingly.
"It's a waste to tell you anyways. You are someone who doesn't understand the nobility of the way of magecraft at all, and had left the way and betrayed the art."
Hatred and anger, surpassing their uttermost limit, stimulated the crest worms within Kariya into life. An evil chill and agonizing pain passed through his entire body. Even so, it is a blessing for the current Kariya.
Erode me, devour my body. Let all the prana created thus become a curse for my nemesis...
Worms slithered out from the shadows around them like galloping waves and gathered to one place. These are disgusting crawling worms that looked like maggots and have the size of mice. All of these were the fangs Kariya acquired from Matō Zōken before Kariya became a Master － weapons to deal with battles outside the laws of the ordinary world.
"I won't forgive any of you... you disgusting magi...!
I'll kill you! And Zōken! Kill until none of you are left!!"
The worms that took in Kariya's hatred twitched and twisted together in agony. Soon shimmering, steely shells and wings emerged from cracks straight down their backs.
One by one － the slithering worms metamorphosed into giant beetles, which buzzed as they spread their wings and formed battalions as they flew around Kariya. A giant group amassed in the blink of an eye. These 'blade wing worms' adjusted into battle formation as they grinded their sharp jaws threateningly and ferociously. As a worm-user, this is Matō Kariya's deadliest hand.
Tōsaka Tokiomi's expression was still impassive, faced with a mass of carnivorous worms that could devour a bull and crush even its bones in an instant.
His level as a magus was far above Kariya, after all. Therefore, the suicidal secret craft that Kariya released was neither awe-inspiring nor frightening for Tokiomi. He could even spite this mockery of fate with ease in this battle to decide the victor between two former rival suitors.
" － From the moment a magus is born, he is someone that has 'power'. And some day, he will achieve a 'greater power'. This responsibility was already flowing in his 'blood' before he realized this destiny. That is what it means to be born into this world as the child of a magus."
Tokiomi said coldly as he lifted his Mystic Code and unleashed the craft of fire from the giant ruby embedded into its head.
The defensive form that traced the Tōsaka family crest in the air turned into crimson flames and burned the night air. This is an aggressive defense that will burn everything it touches to ashes; even to him, it feels childish to use this against a complete novice of an enemy, but he had no intention of holding back.
After all －
"The Matō magecraft was passed into Sakura's hands because you refused to inherit the family headship. I have to thank you on that point... however, I would never forgive a man like you. Escaping from the responsibility of your blood is a weakness, a vile behavior which can never be overlooked. Matō Kariya is a disgrace to the way of magecraft. Since we have met once again, I will have to exterminate you."
"Enough nonsense... you inhuman bastard..."
"You're wrong. Being responsible for yourself is the first requirement of being human. If you can't even do this, then you are only fit to be a dog, Kariya."
"O' worms, devour him, tear him apart!"
The dancing, scorching flames confronted the howling hive of insects.
The third deathmatch of the night had begun.
"That's... awesome! Totally awesome!"
Uryū Ryūnosuke was so overwhelmed with excitement that, heedless of his surroundings, he raised his voice to a strange shriek, his whole body shaking.
Although he was not alone with the crowd of onlookers now gathering at the riverside, none of them were concerned with Ryūnosuke's odd behavior. Every set of eyes were fixed on the otherworldly, impossible phenomenon unfolding before them.
On the river's surface, a giant rampaging monster. In the sky, sparks flew as a UFO clashed with a Self Defense Force fighter.
A spectacle never before seen that anyone would deride as hackneyed.
Serves you all right! Ryūnosuke cheered.
With their mouths agape, everyone present stared dumbly at the reality in front of their eyes. At their wit's end, the only thing they could do was watch as 'common sense', the worthless idol they had blindly worshiped and utterly believed in, loudly came crashing down.
How's that, you bastards? It's always been me on the losing side, until now. Frustrating, isn't it? Pathetic, eh?
None of you even imagined - didn't even try to imagine - how awesome and bizarre the world is outside the walls of common sense.
But me? Of course I know. I've expected it; hoped for it. That someday, I can see something tremendous. That's why I only ever do the abnormal, seeking out novelties every day, wandering in a frenzy.
And ― I've finally found it. The treasure chest I've been seeking for.
Yeah, God definitely exists. This extraordinary sight is my proof.
The one who snickeringly brought out such absurdities just to see the trembling expressions of his pitiful lambs was the great Trickster in His heaven. The God he had been seeking all along finally appeared; all the prepared jack-in-the-boxes, set up in this place and that, all opened at once and spouted flames.
This is a farewell to tedium. There is no longer a need to devote time and effort into murder. Even if it's left alone, tons of people are going to die. Crushed and ripped apart and smashed open and devoured and die and die and die endlessly. The color of a blondy's guts, the sensation of a black man's spleen, even those bowels that I haven't seen before; I can experience them one after another! Day by day, I'll be swept up in interesting things, right in the center of the world!
“Aaaahhh! The Lord has come! The Lord has come!”
He raised his fists high in triumph, singing and springing and celebrating this victory of a lifetime. Ryūnosuke shouted encouragements to his comrade who had become the rampaging monster.
“Go for it, Sir Bluebeard! Destroy them! Slaughter them! This is God's own toy box!”
Just then, he was shoved hard by an unseen hand.
Falling painfully on his backside, he looked around, shocked. Nobody was near enough to touch Ryūnosuke. On the contrary, the people around him started to scream and back away when they saw him. It was as though he was one of the absurdities in the river and in the sky, appearing right before their eyes.
“What is it? Hey, what?"
Just as Ryūnosuke expectantly started asking the people around him where this new oddity was occurring, he casually put his hand to his stomach and felt something hot and slippery... and then, he started fixedly at his own hand, dyed crimson.
Red. Pure, captivating red.
The glistening, vivid, fundamental color that he had always been seeking.
Ah, this is it ― Ryūnosuke instantly understood, a faint smile on his pale lips.
The color he was searching for all along. The thing he teared through all sorts of places to find but could never obtain, the true "red".
Lovingly, he embraced his abdomen, gushing with fresh blood.
“I see...... I never realized, huh......”
"The darkest place is under the candlestick" - those words were well said. He had never thought that what he was seeking could be hidden somewhere so near himself...
He was intoxicated, his skull completely filled by the surging analgesia. The second shot struck him in the center of the forehead.
Even though his entire head above the nose had been blown away without a trace, his lips still traced a smile of total bliss.
Got him ― confident, Emiya Kiritsugu, kneeling on one knee on the deck of the ship, lowered the muzzle of the Walther night vision sniper rifle.
He was about two hundred meters downstream from Caster's monster, close to the heart of the river at Fuyuki Bridge. Kiritsugu, who happened to have been staking out the harbor just as Caster appeared, promptly chose one of nearby empty yachts and commandeered it, arriving here.
Needless to say, it never crossed his mind to attack the monster Caster had become. Using the panic as cover, Kiritsugu's aim once again was to 'hunt' the Master.
The light amplification scope loses its efficiency as the number of particles in the air increased, making it useless in this fog; however, this was no trouble for the infrared scope, crucial for differentiating magi. Within the gathering crowd of onlookers, Kiritsugu searched for the thermal pattern characteristic of Magic Circuits. As a result, one of those individuals was gunned down.
Under these circumstances, anyone loitering near the riverside while keeping Magic Circuits active must be involved in the Holy Grail War.
The probability of his target being the Master of Caster was over sixty percent. For now, taking the shot was the right choice.
Incidentally, due to Kiritsugu's position, the two warring magi on top of the nearby high-rise apartment were in a blind spot, and spared from his gunshots.
"......This is bad."
Although that particular incident was resolved successfully, Kiritsugu's expression soured as he turned around and confirmed the situation.
No matter how favorably he looked at it, Saber and Rider's strenuous attempt to halt the sea monster was going poorly.
Even presuming that he had hit his target, it still requires a certain amount of time before the Servant, cut off from a prana supply, becomes unable to maintain its link to the modern era and disappear. If Caster reaches the bank and begins 'feeding' before this happens, that would be the end. Once it gains a new prana source, they would have no choice but to eliminate it physically.
And finally, the immortal, infinitely-regenerating monster is on the verge on pushing onto the shallow riverside.
Despite grinding her teeth in despair, Saber was neither frightened nor daunted, and continued to brandish her sword.
No matter how deep her slashes, the wound would be filled instantly without a trace. This was a fruitless effort ― no, if they could just slow the monster down even by a little this battle would have meaning. However, when the impending outcome is considered, this equates to no more than futile resistance.
If only she could use her left hand...
Although it was an unavoidable regret, Saber could not help but consider it. Even with the exceptionally powerful Noble Phantasms possessed by Rider and Archer, it will not be enough to fell this monster. No matter how large a force they use to trample it, it is meaningless if all its injuries can be regenerated from instantly. To defeat this horror, one must simply deliver a strike that covers it entirely, obliterating it down to the last scrap of flesh ― what is needed is not an Anti-Army, but an Anti-Fortress Noble Phantasm.
could achieve this, but Saber could not use it now. The fatal secret technique which releases in a single blow an enormous surge of energy rivaling her entire prana supply; no matter the circumstance, for her to use it, she must swing the sword with both hands.
Naturally, it would risk Saber's pride for her to face Lancer now and complain to him at great length about this - impossible to even consider. The handicap of her left hand is her debt for vowing to settle her match with Lancer fairly. In the Einzbern forest, Lancer came of his own free will to 'serve as her left hand'; in the name of the King of Knights, she must repay him for his spirit.
"Hey, Saber! We'll accomplish nothing like this. Retreat for now!"
At Rider's voice coming from his chariot directly above her, Saber replied angrily.
"What nonsense are you speaking! If we do not stop it here ― "
"This is a stalemate! Just pull back. I have an idea!"
She was compelled. Delivering a blow with all her strength as a parting gift, Saber dashed across the river's surface in pursuit of Rider, and retreated to the riverside where Lancer and Irisviel were waiting. Saber kicked off from the water and leapt onto the river bank. At the same time, Rider's chariot landed, descending from empty space accompanied by lightning.
"Listen, all of you. No matter what steps we take after this, right now we have to buy some time."
Dispensing with greetings, Rider spoke urgently. Even the King of Conquerors did not maintain his easygoing composure this time.
"For the time being I'll drag that thing into . Well, it'll probably be impossible to destroy it completely even with my elites. Confining it in my Reality Marble is the best I can do."
"What do we do after that?"
At Lancer's question,
Rider replied blankly. Nevertheless, from his grave expression, it is obvious that he was not joking.
Buying time to stave off an emergency ― even with the King of Conquerors' hidden technique, this was all that could be done.
"After taking in such a giant, I can maintain my bounded field of troops for a few minutes at most. During that time, by any means possible ― Heroic Spirits, find a strategy that will grant us victory. Boy, you stay here too."
As soon as he finished, Rider plucked Waver out of the charioteer's carriage.
"Once the bounded field is deployed, I will have no way of knowing the situation outside. Boy, if something happens, concentrate and call me. I'll dispatch a messenger to you."
Though they were allied right now, from Waver's perspective, having him and his own Servant go separate ways and leaving himself alone with two other Servants was extremely dangerous and reckless. However, nothing can be resolved if they all simply stood on guard against their allies' treachery.
Though his heart was quivering with fear, with a sullen look, the youth nodded.
"Saber, Lancer, the rest is up to you two."
Though the two had spoken in agreement, they were both extremely bitter. Everyone present understood that Rider's decision was simply an emergency reaction without an actual solution.
Nevertheless, it was as though he placed his full trust in the Heroic Spirits he had appraised. After gathering his resolve, Rider aimed the chariot at the savage giant monster, and charged - without distress on his face, without once looking back.
Although Archer had somewhat enjoyed this original game for a while, he soon grew bored of the aerial battle after the third, then fourth exchange of the endless Holy Phantasms and missiles.
Finally, in this repetitive dogfight, Archer's Vimana was in a position pursuing Berserker's F15. If he reduced the distance between them a bit more, he would be in a perfect position to attack. Aware of this, Berserker pulled further from his pursuer, pushing his craft to full throttle, then using the acceleration from his descent to perform what is known as a full vertical descent.
“Stop your useless struggle...”
Archer accelerated the Vimana while chuckling, and was once again in Berserker's tail effortlessly. In the blink of an eye, the two shot through the clouds, falling back down to the flickering lights of Fuyuki.
“I might as well plunge you headlong into the dirt. How does that sound, mongrel?”
Archer arranged his prepared Noble Phantasms into a torus shape, restraining Berserker in every direction and sealing off his path of retreat. Due to this, the only route Berserker could take was straight down, towards the Mion river - on a collision course with Caster's sea monster, which was creeping towards the river bank.
As if trying to soften the impact of the inevitable collision, even by a little, the F15 opened all its flaps. Clawing at the atmosphere, it tried for maximum deceleration.
It was at that instant that that huge lump of meat disappeared.
At point-blank range, Rider shouted and activated . Archer and Berserker knew not the reason behind the fact that Rider and his subordinate Servants drew in the gigantic sea monster within the expanded Reality Marble. Nevertheless, not wanting them to be stained by another drop of mud, Archer foresaw the timing of the collision, and dematerialized his Noble Phantasms. With no intent of missing this chance, the demonic F15 twisted its nose upwards just before it touched the surface of the water, and escaped the crash with an almost-perpendicular course.
Causing curtains of water to rise up on both sides due to the shockwave, the black F15 glided on the river, almost touching the water, and passed by the Servants observing the progress from the riverbank. At that moment, the shining figure of the knight, coated in silver and azure armor, was clearly burned into the mad dark knight's eyes.
Within that black helmet, the pair of eyes which brimmed with stagnant hatred, fiercely burned like a crimson blaze.
Based on Tōsaka Tokiomi’s standards, this is too crude to be called a battle of magecraft - it was nothing but a comical farce.
Tokiomi was just disinterestedly maintaining his defensive boundary, having not yet executed a move that could be considered an attack. In spite of that his opponent, Matō Kariya, was already at the verge of death.
It was complete self-destruction. For Kariya right now, the act of using magecraft is itself a self-inflicted fatal injury. Even though Kariya himself must realize this, he foolishly continued using magecraft beyond his limit without hesitation. As a result, he had no choice but to pay the obvious price.
Even with a glance one could tell he was in a dire state. The capillaries all over his body were continually rupturing, and even now, they incessantly splashed out blood. He could not stand straight, and his staggering figure was like someone drowning clumsily in a bloody mist. With his eyes stretched wide open due to intense pain, one could not tell if there was still any sense left in him.
You were raging so passionately just now... and when the lid is opened, this is your condition?
The saddest thing above all else was that, despite utilizing such prana that it shaved off his own life, Kariya’s attacks did not scathe even a hair on Tokiomi.
The summer insects which flew into the fire – they were like the proverbial stage show. The swarms of beetles simply charged endlessly straight into Tokiomi's incendiary boundaries, without even one breaking through and all of them scorched to ashes. To begin with, the act of challenging the flames directly in a frontal assault is exceedingly stupid for a bug user. Yet, Kariya did not slow his assault. Reducing his own lifespan, he fruitlessly spurred on the insects, turning them to cinders.
This was beyond laughable. At this utterly powerless enemy, Tokiomi had surpassed disdain and now felt pity. Before long, the flames will burn away all of Kariya's insects. At that point, Kariya would probably die wretchedly, unable to withstand the agony. Tokiomi merely had to focus on maintaining his craft while calmly observing him. This fight will end within this impregnable fortress.
However, for Tokiomi who followed the noble path of magecraft, the disgraceful behavior of a corrupted magus who has fallen - and worse, having it displayed in front of him - was too unpleasant for him.
Responding to the two-line spell, the flames of the defensive boundary curled like a snake, stretching towards Kariya. To begin with, whether or not this instant-made magus knows the correct principles to counter an offensive spell is itself a subject of doubt.
"I... I'LL KILL YOU... TOKIOMI... ZŌ-KE-N..."
Despite being burned alive, Kariya did not scream; in its place, he merely repeated an endless murmur of curses. With his body been devoured from the inside by worms, it's possible that he no longer had a sense of pain to feel the heat with.
As he writhed with flames enveloping his body, he broke through the fence, stepped over the edge of the roof, and dropped into the darkness of the alley below.
Finally, after cleanly sweeping away all the remaining bugs there with his conflagration, Tokiomi undid his craft and sighed, fixing his collar.
The corpse - will not need a confirmation. Even if there was still breath in him, he would not last long. After this, he only had to wait for the annihilation of Berserker to come naturally from losing his contractor.
At first, Tokiomi only expected that the Matō would resign and let pass the Heaven's Feel of this cycle. He could not understand at all the intention behind sending the disinherited outcast Kariya as an improvised Master. In the end, Tokiomi did not understand what Kariya had wanted that caused him to hasten and join the war.
A victory without any sense of achievement, and trailed by a bitter taste; without sparing another worrying thought, Tokiomi turned towards the river, and began examining the battles that raged around Caster.
Thanks to Rider's clever scheme, the gigantic sea monster had disappeared without a trace from the water's surface. However, although its form was nowhere to be seen, the Servants and magi gathered there could clearly perceive the presence of the monster raging within the plane-divergent bounded field.
"... What should we do?"
Unable to withstand the creeping weight of the silence, Waver opened his mouth.
"He said he was buying time, but if we don't think of something in the meanwhile, we'll end up where we started. Hey, Einzbern, don't you have any ideas?!"
"Even if you say that..."
From Irisviel's chest, an out-of-place, frivolous electronic sound started beeping. Irisviel herself was taken aback, and she hastily took out the source of that sound.
Her mobile phone. It was something she received from Kiritsugu in case of emergencies. Obviously, there was no need to guess who the caller was. Nevertheless, as a situation where they would use this to converse was considered impossible, due to the urgency, Irisviel temporarily forgot the method of usage she was supposed to have remembered.
"Ummm, ah... What, should I do with this?"
She could only ask Waver, who was standing next to her. Irritated at the interruption to their conversation, Waver snatched the noisy phone from Irisviel's hand, pressed the Receive button and held it to his ear. Although he was a magus, Waver came from a family which did not adhere to formalities, and he was competent with machines to the degree of an ordinary person.
Now it was Waver's turn at confusion, as a low male voice came from the other side of the conversation. He had wanted to return it to the owner after receiving the call, but ended up answering it instead.
"Er, no, I'm..."
"Hm? ...I see, Rider's Master, huh. Just as well. I need to talk to you."
"W-Who are you?"
"It doesn't matter. Caster disappearing, that was your Servant's handiwork, right?"
"Then I have a question. When Rider releases the Reality Marble, can he drop the contents at a specific place?"
It was a question without a clear purpose, but it was a race against time, and there wasn't time to ask the questioner's motives. Waver racked his brain for the fundamental laws governing Reality Marbles that he had learnt at the Clock Tower, put it together with the properties of which he had witnessed only once, and gave a cautious reply.
"It should be possible, to a certain extent, probably 100 meters at most. The prerogative for their reappearance lies with Rider."
"That will do. After this, I will choose a time and send up signal flares. Release Caster directly under it. Can you do that?"
The problem now was communicating this to Rider within the bounded field, but come to think of it, Rider had said that he would send a messenger afterward. Rider is probably still conscious of the link between the inside and outside of the field.
"I can... I think. Probably."
Even so, who is he talking with? He is likely someone from Einzbern's side, but from the way he talked, Waver had no choice but to conclude that he was watching from somewhere nearby.
"One more thing. Tell Lancer this: Saber's left hand contains an anti-fortress noble phantasm."
Increasingly confused, Waver returned a question, but the conversation was quickly cut, leaving only static.
Feeling the meaningful gaze from Waver, Lancer asked him with suspicion.
"Um... there's a message for you. 'Saber's left hand is an anti-fortress noble phantasm' or something..."
Lancer's expression changed to astonishment as Saber's simultaneously changed to awkwardness.
"Is that true, Saber?"
She wanted to avoid bringing up this topic here, but there's no use hiding it now. Dropping her face, Saber nodded silently.
"And... it can bring down Caster's monster in one blow?"
"It is possible. But..."
Nodding again, Saber stared straight at the Servant of the Spear with unwavering eyes, and continued.
"Lancer, the weight of my sword is the weight of my pride. My injury from the fight with you is an honor, not a chain.
It is as you said in the forest. If I am backed by Diarmuid O'Duibhine as a substitute for my left hand, that alone is worth tens of thousands of men."
No good will come from making Lancer feel guilt at the point. As a comrade in the conducts of chivalry, in the end, Saber wanted Lancer to welcome the conclusion without unnecessary binds.
Silent, as though he was looking through at the figures of Rider's army and the sea monster at the other side separate from this plane, Lancer squinted, staring at the river.
"... Hey Saber, I cannot forgive that Caster."
His low reply came softly. On the contrary, his bewitchingly beautiful eyes shone with determination.
"He treats other's despair as righteousness, and rejoices at the propagation of fear. On my oath as a knight, that is an 'evil' which I cannot overlook."
Thrusting the red lance in his right hand into the ground and releasing it, Lancer tightly gripped the remaining yellow lance in the middle with both his hands. At that moment, realizing and rejecting what the proud spearman was intending to do, Saber stared and shouted.
"Now, which is the one who must win? Is it Saber? Or Lancer? No, it is neither. The one thing that must claim victory here, is the 'chivalry' we serve - isn't that right, heroic spirit Artoria?"
After boasting with a nonchalant smile - Lancer divided the dual spears that make up his noble phantasms, and broke it neatly in half without hesitation.
The enormous curse contained withingushed out in a whirlwind, and scattered before their eyes into nothingness. If one thought of it as a noble phantasm that was legend taken form, its figure disappeared far too swiftly.
Who would have thought that a Servant would destroy his own noble phantasm, his trump card to absolute victory, with his own hands? It wasn't just Saber, but also Irisviel and Waver who were struck speechless by Lancer's actions.
"I entrust my vow of victory in the King of Knight's stroke. I'm counting on you, Saber."
The feelings in her heart took form as Saber tightened her 'left hand', firmly and strongly. Released from the curse of mortality, the arm of the King of Knights recovered instantly, answering with unmistakable strength.
"It's a deal, Lancer... Right now, I swear upon victory by my sword!"
The Barrier of the Wind King unveiled. Blowing up torrents of wind, a golden sword revealed itself. As though congratulating the promised victory, the shining blade illuminated the darkness brilliantly.
"That's, from King Arthur's legend..."
Finally witnessing the sacred crown-jeweled sword in front of his eyes, Waver whispered, dumbfounded.
As if seeing the dawning light at the end of the long night, the impatience and anxiety lurking in their hearts were gently swept away by the radiance.
Yes- this is truly the knight's ideal.
It was the crystallization of everything etched in the hearts of those who were scattered at the radiance; those who were placed on the bloody hell called a battlefield, fully exposed to the fear of death and despair, and whom still cling to a desire: "to be exalted."
"We can win..."
Trembling with joy, Irisviel whispered ecstatically.
However, as though raising an objection to such a hope, a roar of repulsive malediction shook the night sky, and spread. No, the screaming, which was unlike a voice, could be none other than an explosive turbofan.
Looking up to the sky, Saber saw hatred incarnate. Riding on the steel bird tainted with jet black prana, the mad heroic spirit once again bared his fangs at the King of Knights.
Together with Berserker's bloodcurdling roar, flames spouted from the six barrels of the 20mm Vulcan autocannon.
Emiya Kiritsugu clicked his tongue as he intently watched this unexpected turn of events.
The ship had already been anchored after moving to the appointed location, and the preparations for the engine-powered escape lifeboat loaded aboard were finished. Saber had also successfully regained her Noble Phantasm of certain kill; all that’s left was to summon Rider back and get him to free Caster's sea demon – just as he thought this, Berserker, as though he had somehow lost control of himself, suddenly shifted his focus, from the battle he had with Archer until now, to Saber.
However, now that he thought about it, this was already the second time that Saber was challenged by Berserker without reason. Even when they first met at the warehouse district, as soon as the black knight lost his target, he assaulted Saber like a starving beast. It could be passed off as a coincidence if it only happened once, but that can’t be said for a second time. To begin with, he had suddenly changed targets while completely ignoring his initial target of Archer, who was still going strong.
Of course, even for Archer, boasting an extraordinary amount of pride, this outrage was an inexcusable disdain.
“Have you no control? Mad dog!”
Archer cursed as he accelerated Vimana and soon approached Berserker’s back, close enough that he could kill him for certain. There was now so little distance between them that the opponent would never be able to evade the barrage of Noble Phantasms from regardless of his transcendent mobility – however, this decision backfired on him.
From the underside of the F15's body, scorching fireballs, like will-o'-the-wisps, slowly scattered in succession, washing over the nose of the trailing Vimana.
Originally, this armament called a flare dispenser simply launched out decoy heat sources in order to throw off the enemy’s heat-seeking missiles. However, as a result of being eroded by Berserker’s prana and demonized, they have even transfigured into tracking incendiary weapons. Based on their dogfight up until now, Archer made the hasty conclusion that the enemy doesn’t have a way of attacking against an enemy behind him, and therefore couldn’t cope in time to this unexpected counterattack. The bow of the Vimana plunged into the hive of roaring fire balls, lost control while surrounded by the crimson flames, and fell towards the surface of the river in a spiral.
Although he finally obtained the result of felling Archer, Berserker thought nothing of it right now. The fiendish steel bird did not even confirm the whereabouts of Archer after he sunk into the river, and with nothing but relentlessness, instead tracked down Saber and mercilessly poured down a rain of 20mm rounds.
For Saber, although the F15 that Berseker spurred on was a completely unknown weapon, her skill of sixth sense, equivalent to precognition, allowed her to comprehend with extreme accuracy the nature of this threat. Just before she was hit by the initial strafing run, Saber had sensed that this attack would result in wide-area destruction. Promptly realizing that Irisviel may be caught in the battle if she stayed on the river bank, she once again leapt onto the water surface and sought a path of retreat on the river.
As this was an unavoidable decision, the result guided her to yet another dilemma.
By good command of footwork as a Servant, Saber would be able to rival a jet fighter in speed and galloped on top of the water. However, this vast river surface, with no obstacles at all, was undoubtedly the best hunting ground for the black knight who strafed down from the air above.
The bullets pouring out like torrential rain swept behind the galloping Saber, missing her by a hair, and scattered raging sheets of water like the streams of an upward waterfall.
Regardless of the size of the caliber, something on the level of mere cannon shells pose no threat to Servants at all. This is especially so with Saber, whose physical abilities would allow her to evade them with no difficulty, and even deflect the shots back with the blade of her sword if she wanted to. However – no matter how extraordinary the Heroic Spirit may be, the 12,000 rounds-per-minute of the pride of America's General Electric, the M61 autocannon, presented an unmanageable amount of shots. Worse yet, as a weapon carrying the properties of a Noble Phantasm due to Berserker’s prana, a single shot would instantly be fatal.
“And I finally recovered my left hand…”
Saber was bitterly regretting. Even now, it would be possible for her to use her Noble Phantasm without hesitation and destroy Berserker in the air, but the enemy’s tenacious and incessant attacks didn’t allow her any opportunity to counterattack. Berserker’s battle tactics were both accurate and prudent, as though he knew the full extent of Saber's abilities. In order to hunt a lion, the best method is to keep chasing it, not giving it a single chance to bare its fangs, strangling it; Berserker's skill was like that of a hunter who fully knew the essence of this.
Abruptly, restless tremors spread from the river bank all the way into its surroundings. Only the magi present knew just what these unexplainable tremor meant – the epicenter was probably the inside of the Reality Marble that Rider expanded. The powerful quakes of the raging sea demon were finally beginning to affect normal space. It was an omen that Rider's Reality Marble was finally approaching its ultimate limit.
He must let Rider know of the situation here. Waver, after deciding as such, began to concentrate his thoughts to calling out his own Servant. Having no knowledge of telepathy, Waver could only rely on speech to come to a mutual understanding. However, Rider, who knew this, did say that ‘I’ll leave a herald for you”.
The space beside Waver abruptly shook, and the form of a knight emerged.
“Mithrenes of the rides forth to listen in the King’s stead!”
Overawed by the intrepid demeanor of the Heroic Spirit and his simple salutation, Waver faltered. However, he changed his mind, knowing that it was not the time to pay attention to such things, and mustered the courage in his heart to give directions to this Heroic Spirit he’s never met before.
“I want you to release the bounded field and throw Caster out to the appointed location as soon I give the signal. You can do that, right?”
“It can be done – but it is a race against time. It appears that our army inside the bounded field cannot stop that sea demon for much longer…”
“I know! I’m aware of that!”
As Waver grumbled he also attended to Saber, who kept dodging the attacks of the black knight, with a heart full of prayers.
“Damn it, Berserker, that bastard… can't something be done about him?!”
“– I will go.”
Lancer, responding resolutely, disappeared after grasping the now solitary crimson spear. The spearman that temporarily turned into spiritual form accurately materialized again on the body of the F15, steadying himself by grabbing the steel wings pulsing with black prana with one hand.
“It all ends here, mad warrior!”
No sooner had Lancer shouted this that he brandished the in his right hand above his head, and pierced the body of the grotesque machine with the spear tip.
The red spear that can cut through all prana circulation gleamed. It was indeed the archenemy of Berserker’s peculiar ability. But the black knight has had his full share of the power of this attack after the battle in the warehouse district. The mysterious Servant, maddened but not without prudence, did not make the same mistake when faced with Lancer’s Noble Phantasm. Right before the red spear skewered the craft's body, Berserker promptly discarded the doomed F15, and leapt high into the sky after using his arms to wretch off the important part of the craft. Immediately after, the fighter jet, reverted to a mass of scrap metal in an instant by cutting off its prana, crashed with Lancer on its wings, throwing up a splendid sheet of water from the Mion river.
The part that Berserker seized at the last minute was naturally the section accommodating the Vulcan unit. The autocannon, having avoided direct contact with Lancer’s spear with a hair's breadth, was still pulsing with the jet black prana that supplemented it, and did not lose the properties of being the black knight’s Noble Phantasm.
Carrying the six barrels and the cylindrical ammunition casing, weighing 200 kilogram in total, Berserker once again aimed from the sky at Saber below him. The rotary cannon, accelerated by prana, spun up in the blink of an eye. Saber finally realized that she had nowhere else to turn in the instant the torrential bullets were about to surge out.
The firing distance for Berserker, having jumped down from the aircraft and continuing to aim at Saber as he descended, was exceptionally closer than before. Saber no longer had time to anticipate for the initial velocity of the rounds, and no matter which way she may dodge, she couldn’t get out of the range of the rain of shells about to pour onto her.
It's all or nothing...!
Now that it has come to this, Saber was prepared to resort to using her Noble Phantasm, misplaced though it may be; the instant she swung the sword over her head, streaks of shining steel came flying in from an impossible angle and struck Berserker head on.
Hammer, axe and bolt gouged the jet black armor, and a giant sickle cleaved the body of the revolving gun barrel in half. Furthermore, a flaming bolt hit the ammunition storage directly, igniting all the remaining 20mm shells, blossoming wild crimson flames in the air. Berserker, washed over by the fragments and blast, was helplessly blown away, drawing a parabola in the empty air before sinking into the river surface like a thrown rock.
Astounded, Saber turned around and, looking up, saw Archer standing haughtily on the top of the arch of the Fuyuki Bridge. The shooting Noble Phantasms encircled him, surrounding him like an halo. He let out a wicked smile.
“Now, Saber, show it to me. I shall see for myself the true worth of your brilliance as a Heroic Spirit.”
It didn't even need to be said - Saber replied to Archer's insolent words with a silent glance, and once again returned her sight to the river surface, adjusting her stance with the golden sword.
All obstacles have been eliminated. Now was the time of conclusion.
Kiritsugu, who witnessed Berserker’s departure, was on a life boat already galloping to the safety zone. He aimed for and shot up a flare at a spot in the empty sky. The roaring yellow phosphorus flame was right above the line connecting Saber’s current position and the speedboat that Kiritsugu abandoned.
“There! Right under it!”
Waver immediately saw the signal and yelled at Rider's herald beside him. The Heroic Spirit Mithrenes disappeared without so much as a nod, returning to the inside of the bounded field where the king and his companions were waiting.
Immediately after, as though it had been in wait, the air around them shook, and the space that was eroded by the thoughts of the Heroic Spirits returned to the shape it was meant to have. Firstly, an alien shadow covered the night sky like a mirage, then its real form emerged in an instant; the giant and ominous body then fell into the water. That place was directly underneath where Kiritsugu shot the flare.
The raging sheets of water thrown up by the gigantic mass impacting the water assaulted the river bank like a tsunami. However, Saber, the only one who had fought and held her own in direct combat with the sea demon, was not hit by even a single splash. The prana gushing out from her right now summoned a surging wind so pressurized that it brushed aside the wall of water.
At the same time as the reappearance of the sea demon, Rider’s chariot also leapt into the dim night sky once again. Its scar-covered form told of the degree of intensity of the battle that played out inside the Reality Marble, but his majestic and awe-inspiring flying form was not diminished at all.
“– Seriously! Just what took all of you so long… Woah!?”
It was during Rider's moment of complaint that he saw the concentration of light pulsing from Saber’s sword; he immediately understood what was happening and urgently turned aside, escaping the area under threat. On the other hand, Caster’s sea demon wouldn’t be able to dodge so dexterously no matter what. The giant throbbing meat lump could do nothing apart from shrieking to scare this unknown brilliance.
The time was ripe.
Pouring all the strength in her body into the two arms grasping the hilt tightly, the King of Knights lifted the golden sword up high.
Light gathered. As if illuminating this holy sword was its ultimate duty, the light condensed further, merging into a blinding brilliance.
At the fierceness and purity of this beam of light, no one could speak a single word.
It was the gallant figure of a knight who once shone the light of purification upon a battle-ravaged world, a darkness blacker than night.
Unyielding for ten years, undefeated in twelve battles. These peerless feats of arms and this glory were eternal, transcending time.
This shining sword itself is the nostalgic, sorrowful, and exalted dream of all warriors past, present and future who stand at the brink of death on the battlefield – the crystallization of the prayer named ‘glory’.
Proudly uplifting this will, ascertaining that this faith will be seen to its end, the king of eternal victory now loudly declared the true name of this miracle she held in her hands.
It was –
The prana, accelerated by the factor of the released dragon, became a streak of light, a swirling and surging torrent that devoured the sea demon together with the dark night.
A silent scream rose within the river water evaporating in an instant, as every single atom composing the body of the giant sea demon that had been the embodiment of terror were exposed to the scorching impact.
But in the center of the sea demon being completely burnt to cinders, within a fortress of bulky defiled flesh, Caster simply wordlessly watched over this moment of white blinding annihilation which had stolen his heart.
Yes – it was unmistakably a light he had once seen in the distant past.
Had he not once been a knight who pursued and rode after this light?
The recollection, vivid and utterly unclouded, brought Gilles back to the distant past.
It was the light that shone through the stained-glass windows of the great cathedral, at the long-awaited coronation ceremony of King Charles. It was a white brilliance, a blessing of joy that wrapped around Jeanne and Gilles, who had attended as saviors and national heroes, together with the ars nova melody.
Aah, there’s no mistake – it was this light.
He could still remember it. Even now, after his fall into brutality, his entire body smeared with corruption, the memories of that day did not fade at all and remained carved into his heart.
Even if his end was stained with humiliation and revulsion, no matter how much he may be held in contempt – the glory in his past alone cannot be denied or overturned, for it was in his heart.
Something that even God or Fate will never be able to take away or violate…
Gilles de Rais was dumbstruck by the clarity of his own rapidly falling tears.
What was he confused with? Had he lost sight of something?
If he could just look back and admit it – wouldn’t that be enough?
“Just what, have I…”
Before this murmur, directed at no one, left his mouth, all matter was brought into another world, annihilated by the white light.
Archer, standing on the high arch of the bridge and looking down upon all, couldn’t help but have a smile emerging on his face when he saw this light of destruction that burnt and consumed all.
“Do you see it, King of Conquerors? This is Saber’s light.”
Archer addressed the empty space beside him. Rider, who had just experienced a merciless fight, was letting the chariot pulled by divine bulls remain still in the air, and was gazing dazedly at the ultimate light Excalibur was emanating.
“Do you still not want to acknowledge her after witnessing that ray of light?”
Rider snorted, dismissing Archer’s question. However, what was on his face as not despite or mockery, but a solemnity as if he was looking out over a thing of tragic grandeur.
“It was indeed because she took upon her shoulders the hope of every man of the time that she’s able to display such might – it’s painful precisely because it is so blindingly brilliant. Who could have thought that the person carrying such a heavy weight is only a little girl who liked to dream?”
On the river surface, which the two of them looked down upon, Saber’s slender body was huffing painfully due to the intensive battle to the death that had just ended. Rider only knew what kind of heaviness was piled upon her young and delicate shoulders thanks to last night’s quiz. For him, whose personality is open and straightforward, this kind of ‘way of living’ is absolutely unforgivable.
“This kind of little girl is truly the final result of someone who discarded youthful romance and dreams, discarded love, and sunk into the eternal curse of ‘ideals’. It is truly painful, and one can’t bear to look upon it anymore.”
“This is exactly what’s lovely about her, isn’t it?”
Different from the King of Conqueror’s fully melancholic expression, the golden Servant’s smile was immeasurably obscene and did not hide his dirty desires at all.
“The overly-mighty ideal that she harbored within her would burn her into nothing but ashes at the end. Those tears that she would shed at her final moment… I imagine it would be very sweet to the taste.”
Complacent, Archer let his imagination run wild. With a flick of his eyes, Rider gave him a look of enmity.
“… It seems I still can’t like you, Babylonian King of Heroes.”
“Oh? You only discerned it now?”
This title made the sparkling golden Heroic Spirit burst fully into a smile.
“What do you plan to do, Rider? Want to use brutal force right now to unleash your anger?”
“Although it’ll be quite a joy to do that, tonight my strength would perhaps not live up to my feelings if my opponent is you.”
After Rider spoke the truth straightforwardly and with no exaggeration, he gave another look at Archer and said scornfully: “Of course, if you don’t want to let the chance pass and insist in fighting with me, this king would gladly do so at anytime.”
“No matter. I permit you to escape, King of Conquerors. I wouldn’t feel satisfied if I don’t defeat you at the height of your strength, anyways.”
Hearing this self-possessed declaration from Archer, Rider lifted his eyebrows as if pulling a prank.
“Hmm? Hahaha. Though you say that, the truth must be that your wounds caused by being sunk by Blackie haven’t healed properly either, right?”
“… All who provokes the king need to die to repent their sin!”
Seeing how the other didn’t take the joke well and that his twin red irises were full with a killing intent, Rider tightened the reins of the divine bulls with a smile and increased the distance between them.
“Decide the victor next time, King of Heroes. The owner of the Holy Grail, I imagine, would perhaps be the result of our battle.”
The only ones who are worthy to obtain the Grail are the Heroic Spirits at the level of ‘Kings’. That is, one of the two between the King of Conquerors and the King of Heroes. Undoubtedly, Rider himself still believed firmly in that point right now. The Heroic Spirit Alexander smiled fearlessly and left the top of the arch of the bridge, and as thus galloped towards the river bank where his Master was at.
“What would happen at the end?... Rider, I still haven’t decided if you’re the only one who’s worthy for me to grant the ultimate treasure to.”
Archer, who was muttering to himself, had another Heroic Spirits in his heart. In terms of the degree of attention he had, the interest of the King of Heroes was actually all piled upon her.
Tonight, witnessing with his own eyes that incomparable light lead the thoughts of the primeval Heroic Spirit back to the distant past.
– Once upon a time, there was a man.
He was a foolish and ridiculous fellow whom, despite having a body made of mud and soil, set his heart to stand shoulder to shoulder with gods.
Of course, his hubris and disrespectful arrogance offended the gods in heaven. The man suffered divine retribution and lost his life.
Even to this day, the King of Heroes still couldn’t forget the way that he passed away with tears streaming down his face.
Why are you crying? The King of Heroes had asked.
Could it be that, only now, you are regretting having taken my side?
It’s not that – He had answered.
“Who would understand you after I die? Who else would march forward by your side? My friend… when I think that you will live on all alone henceforth, I can’t help but shed tears…”
Like so, when he saw that man taking his last breath, the incomparable king realized – the way that this man, who was human but wanted to surpass humanity, had lived, was even more precious and more brilliant than all the treasures he had collected.
“You fool who stretch your hand towards realms not of men… There is only one person in heaven or earth who’s worthy of appreciating your destruction, and that is none other than I, Gilgamesh.
Sink into my embrace, oh you glorious and illusionary men. That is my decision.”
The golden majestic brilliance disappeared in the night mist, leaving only an evil laughter echoing long after.
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