From the rooftop of the centre building of Shinto which was far away, Sola was observing the figure of the giant sea monster which was swallowed by a blinding white light and gradually disappeared, in the night fog at the other side.
Her vision was already obscured in that fog, moreover from such a distance away, she could not follow up the progress of the fight with her naked eyes. She did not prepare any familiar which could be immediately used for scouting purposes in this situation, so she had no choice but to gaze at the riverbank at which the giant sea monster and fighter jets were dancing wildly, whilst worrying over it.
Anyway, the battle had apparently completed its first stage, but the Command Seals on her right hand was still there. That would mean that Lancer was still remaining in battle in good health.
Although she was being hit by strong gusts of wind which raged at the high windswept place, Sola was relieved for now. Lancer would probably bring good news back soon. If his victory was shared with other Servants, Masters apart from Sola would also receive the incentive of additional Command Seals, but that was something trivial. Now, she was happy at merely regaining the three strokes of the Command Seals binding her to her Servant.
If the noise of the blowing wind was absent, Sola would probably sense the presence of an attacker stealing up to her back unnoticed from the stairs earlier. Preoccupied with the battlefield at the other side, she let her guard down. But for the lady who did not even have the knowledge of self-defense, much less combat training, there is no way she could not be blamed.
Suddenly she tripped. Even after she ended up on the concrete floor with her face up, she did not even have the time to grasp what had happened. She reflexively held out her right hand to seek help, but it was grabbed by someone roughly. Nevertheless, that person obviously did not have the slightest intention of helping Sola, who had fallen. Instead, a blow of excruciating pain struck her wrist.
From the surface of her fine and slender wrist, like a broken tap, fresh blood gushed forth… Sola stared attentively in disbelief.
Her right hand was not there.
With a single blow, it was cut off cleanly. The fingers and nails which she prided in and never fail to take care, and also the Command Seals which were more valuable than anything else, disappeared altogether from Sola’s right arm.
Above the pain and the chill of losing her blood, the all the more desperate sense of loss dyed Sola’s thinking pitch black.
“Aa, aaaa, aaaaahhhhhh! AAAAAAHHHH!!”
Whilst letting out a deranged scream, Sola crawled about on the floor, trying to find the whereabouts of her disappeared right hand.
No! It’ll be troublesome if I don’t have THAT. I can’t call Diarmuid. I won’t be cared for by Diarmuid.
Worse come to worst, she would spend all the strokes and command him to “Love me!”, and that should be able to bind him. That’s why she was troubled at her right hand. Whatever the case, even at the price of her life, she would retrieve those Command Seals……
Nevertheless, no matter how much she searched on the cold concrete floor, apart from her splattered blood, there was nothing else ― After that, the tips of a pair of boots which were indifferent-looking and not moving, could be seen.
In the midst of her blurring vision due to heavy losses of blood, still prostrate on the floor, Sola looked up and saw an unfamiliar black-haired lady. Not even displaying any emotion, much less pity, that lady expressionlessly looked down at Sola, who was going to faint.
With her remaining left hand, she grabbed the lady’s boots, clinging onto it – after which she lost consciousness.
Without any lingering affection, Hisau Maiya tossed away the female magus’ right hand which she severed with all her might using a survival knife. Using proper methods, the engraved Command Seals left on her left wrist could probably be recovered, but because Maiya did not have such technique at this time, it was completely valueless.
Maiya quickly tied the right wrist to prevent further loss of blood, after which she lifted the unconscious target onto her shoulder, and with her other empty hand, rang up Emiya Kiritsugu with her mobile phone.
- What’s wrong, Maiya?”
“I have secured Sola Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri at Shinto. The Command Seals were cut off with her right hand, but her condition is not critical.”
“Okay. Leave that place quickly. Lancer would probably return soon.”
After getting the bare minimum conversation over with and cutting off the phone call, Maiya dashed down the stairs quickly and reached the lower floor. In the homunculus rib bone which was transplanted by means of Irisviel’s hands, there was still a dull pain since it had yet to familiarize itself with her body, but as for her movements, there was no problem at all. Thanks to that, just like before she was injured, Maiya trailed Lancer and his new Master, and managed to grab the golden opportunity of capturing Sola during Lancer’s absence.
Sure enough, Kiritsugu’s conjecture was right, but as before, he still viewed Kayneth who had lost his rights as Master, as the target he should annihilate. Kiritsugu’s policy is to be cautious against the ones who were chosen as Masters, even if they were to lose their Command Seals.
His real intention for ordering Maiya to capture Sola alive should be to question her about Kayneth’s hiding place. The interrogation would certainly be a cruel experience for Sola, but even if it were the case, there would be no sympathy or mercy from Maiya.
In the situation of men fighting against men, cruelty was not something uncommon. Even Maiya herself understood that simple fact as it is, much less Kiritsugu.
The tranquility of late night accompanying the night streets of Shinto seemed so far away, as ambulance and patrol cars traveled to and fro continually. To those people who rushed about whilst flashing their emergency lights, they would probably not understand what situation had forced them to rush about in the dead of the night, nor the entire picture of the situation. Perhaps they would not understand it even during tomorrow or henceforth.
The shadow of a tall man in the clothing of a priest walking alone on the footpath late at night, would sufficiently be a target of questioning as a suspicious person under normal circumstances, but tonight they were virtually worked to death due to receipt of successive requests for help and instructions for blockades, so there is no way they have the time to even be concerned about an ordinary pedestrian. Amongst the patrol cars which passed Kotomine Kirei countless times, not even one paid any attention to him.
For Kirei who was silently hurrying back to Fuyuki Church, caught in a deep thought within his mind, he did not spare any thoughts at all for the chaos of the city from which the remains of the mayhem had yet to subside.
Always faithful to the instructions, obedient to the responsibilities, strict with his ethics. Kirei had strived that hard until today. His conducts were always above the need to be doubted.
Which is exactly why – this was the first time he had the perplexity of not being able to surmise the meaning behind his actions.
Originally, Kirei would rush to Tōsaka Tokiomi’s fights with the intention of providing backup for his teacher – but the moment he saw that Tokiomi’s opponent was Matō Kariya, Kirei chose not to join him as reinforcements, but merely to hide in the shades; an action tantamount to sabotage.
It was certainly true that he knew the difference in strength between Tokiomi and Kariya, and that the situation rendered things like assistance meaningless in the first place. So even if he was to only stand beside the fight as a spectator, one could say that his decision was in line with his principles.
Nevertheless, his actions after that, were a complete deviation from his duty,
The instant Tokiomi caused Kariya to fall from the rooftop of the apartment, as if recognizing it as a complete victory, he did not even check his enemy’s corpse. Though half-shocked by his teacher’s audacity, Kirei went to look for Kariya’s body as a follow-up…… When he saw that figure prostrate on the back alley not long after, Kariya was still breathing.
Naturally, if he was the hound of the Tōsaka camp, delivering the final blow swiftly was an obvious duty. In spite of that, the thing going to and from Kirei’s mind then, was the contents of the conversation he had with Archer this morning.
If Kotomine Kirei wants to understand himself, not just Emiya Kiritsugu – no, prioritizing over Kiritsugu, he should observe Matō Kariya’s fate – that was the advice given to him.
Generally, that was an unpleasant conversation. A joke not deserving his time to be listened to.
But still, with Tokiomi and Kariya’s showdown before him, what on earth had caused Kirei to choose the action of standing beside as a spectator? There was no need for him to stay there if he had decided that assistance was unnecessary. Wasn’t it more meaningful for him to seek the other Masters?
And then, the instant the flames Tokiomi created caught Kariya…… The thing which was on his mind, wasn’t it the feeling of dejection?
When he suddenly noticed what he was doing, Kirei had already begun administering first-aid curative magecraft onto Kariya’s body. Carrying Kariya, whose condition had become stable despite in a deep sleep due to his actions, he left the battlefield, and left him in front of the Matō residence whilst stealthily concealing himself from public gaze – That happened about 15 minutes ago.
The carvings of the Command Seals were still on Kariya’s hand. Kirei did not watch the battle at the Mion River until the end, but no matter how much injury was inflicted, Berserker was apparently still alive.
Whilst covering the long distance from Miyama Town to the outskirts of Shinto at a slow pace, during that journey which passed through Fuyuki City, Kirei was still distressed over the self-question from which no answer came out – Why the heck had he done such a thing?
This was completely different from his buying and storing up wines of which the taste he knew not. That was not an action completely deprived of benefits. Until now, Kirei had also done secret things without Tokiomi’s permission, and also giving false reports repeatedly at times, but those were not something which could directly obstruct Tokiomi. His hope of a confrontation with Emiya Kiritsugu and Tokiomi’s possession of the Holy Grail – those were not conflicting things.
Notwithstanding that, his prolonging the life of Matō Kariya who had been prowling after Tokiomi as a nemesis, had unmistakably turned him into Tokiomi’s foe. An act of treason with no excuses allowed. In the state of not even having a definite purpose, he had perpetrated something preposterous. Tonight, Kirei had clearly crossed the line of being a loyal servant of Tokiomi.
Although he was conscious of the gravity of his action, why did Kirei not have a tinge of regret within his heart, but instead inexplicable exhilaration?
Archer – had he been tricked by that King of Heroes heroic spirit?
Compared to his walking feet, his mind was extremely worn out.
Suddenly, Kirei had a rare notion of wanting to talk to his father Risei. While he is honest to Kirei in all aspects, he is a father who would never be able to understand Kirei’s worries. Nevertheless, come to think of it, didn’t Kirei not have a heart to heart talk with his father before?
Even if he would end up making his father deeply disappointed, if he would just speak out his mind without any fear – while his relationship with his father would definitely change, won’t that provide something completely new to Kirei?
With this vague anticipation in his heart, shelving his worry for the time being, Kirei continued walking into the night.
To Father Risei, supervisor of the fourth Heaven's Feel, this was truly an extremely tiring night.
This was the second time he had assumed the office of supervisor of the Heaven's Feel, but he had never dreamed that a situation so difficult to deal with would arise.
Precisely because of the large scale of the series of problems that had arisen, in order to eliminate evidence, not only the Holy Church, but even the Magi's Association was also acting in secret. To both sides of these two large groups, the situation had already developed to a point that - rather than quarrelling amongst themselves and defining their respective spheres of influence, they had to prioritize on considering how to pick up the pieces.
On the surface, the strange incident not far from the Mion River was attributed to poisonous gases produced by chemical reactions caused by industrial waste--this report could temporarily deceive the public. The patrolling media truck was also constantly broadcasting that inhaling the toxic fumes could cause hallucinations, and that people living along the shores should hasten to the hospital for treatment. Of course, all the hospitals that could conduct diagnostics at night had already been infiltrated by magi and Executors skilled in brainwashing through the power of suggestion; they were currently anxiously awaiting orders. It should be possible to thus eliminate the majority of witness statements, but not the source of rumors.
The procedure for purchasing two F15 fighter machines from Middle Eastern weapon merchants had just been completed; this was the result of the Clock Tower playing the middle man. Though it was a second-hand C-model plane, at this critical point there really was absolutely no time to take this into account. The two F15s, on which the flag of Japan had been temporarily painted, would be delivered to the fortified air base; all that's left is to take the opportunity to exchange incompatible parts, and then assemble the J-model fighter plane.
The Japanese self-defence force was certainly a group restless with budget. A single fighter plane already cost over a billion yen, and now that a scandal involving losing two fighters simultaneously had occurred, this truth needed to be annihilated no matter what. From this point on, they could only use pre-prepared replacement fighters used as bait for negotiations, and get the self-defence forces to take the responsibility of destroying evidence as well.
It was already late at night when the endless telephone negotiations finally stopped and he could rest for a while, but Risei immediately remembered the guest waiting in the main hall. Sighing, he pulled over a chair and began his work anew, continuing to carry out his duties as supervisor.
"I am truly sorry to have made you wait. I have been rather busy tonight."
In Risei's voice there was an exhaustion that could not be hidden.
From the dimly lit pews came the sound of somewhat artificial laughter.
"That's unavoidable. You have urgent matters to attend to."
A light, metallic squeaking sound of the wheelchair's wheels rolling along accompanied that laughter. The silhouette that emerged from the darkness remained seated.
The silhouette, so wan almost as if he was a completely different person and could not even stand to walk, was actually the once-famous prodigy Kayneth El-Melloi.
Who among those knowing his past circumstances would have thought that he would have been reduced to such a condition? But in his eyes was a strong willpower that could be called obsession from which the stubborn, intolerant personality of the former prodigy magus could be vaguely perceived.
Although Kayneth had sustained great physical injuries that made it almost impossible to re-establish his glory, he had more or less retained the use of his hands through the contacts of the El-Melloi clan, exchanging an astonishing sum of money in gratitude to make a deal with a doll-maker residing in Japan, and through great difficulty had obtained the ability to move freely within the parameters of the wheelchair's mobility. His left little finger, covered in a thick layer of plaster, had also regained its sense of pain.
"Father, regarding my application— what exactly is the judgment?"
In contrast to the solicitous smile on his face, Kayneth's voice contained at least half an undertone of threat. Those drug addicts were probably like this when the effects had worn off and they were demanding drugs from others before they went into withdrawal. Risei gazed steadily at the face of this former magecraft prodigy; his face showed paranoia and confusion that could not be concealed.
That things would reach this point was definitely not what Risei had hoped for. However, a contract was ultimately a contract. Setting aside the consideration of the secret alliance with Tōsaka for the moment, it was necessary to practise what he preached for the honor of the Church.
"… Indeed, in the crusade against Caster, Servant-Lancer played an important role; this has also been verified in the report of the supervisor."
"That is to say, there is no doubt that I am eligible to receive a Command Seal?"
"Though it is like that…"
Father Risei furrowed his brow, and glanced at Kayneth as if feeling something is inconceivable.
"Of course, in accordance to the agreement it is necessary to give the Master of Lancer a fitting reward… Mr. Kayneth, do you think I can regard you as a Master??"
A look of hatred momentarily appeared in Kayneth's eyes, but he immediately recovered his demeanor that's cautious enough to be called gentlemanly.
"Regarding the contract with Lancer, I established it in the form that it would be jointly borne by me and my fiancée Sola. I certainly do not have the intention of proclaiming myself a Master. The two of us, Sola and I, are one Master."
"But now, are not both the supply of prana and the management of the Command Seals the undertaking of Miss Sola alone?"
Kayneth's grimacing expression was truly difficult to explain away as a gracious smile.
"Because of consideration for strategy, the Command Seals have now been temporarily passed to Sola for safekeeping. But the control over the contract with Lancer is still mine. If you are suspicious, you may ask Lancer directly for confirmation. And most importantly, the signature on the application submitted to the Church is mine alone."
Father Risei sighed. Even if he were to dig deep into the matter, make objections on the grounds of small and unimportant points, it would be meaningless. The true source of Risei’s headache was this unexpected situation of having to pass out Command Seals to a Master other than Tokiomi Tosaka. At this time, even if he were unwilling to add the Command Seal to Kayneth, at the end it would not be possible not to pass the Command Seals that he's reluctant to part with to his fiancée. Even if Father Risei were to interfere in the internal conflict of the Archibald faction, it would be of no benefit to him.
"——All right. I acknowledge your status as a Master. Come, sir Kayneth, please hold out your hand."
With practised skill Risei traced the faded marks on Kayneth's outstretched right hand, transferring one of the Command Seals accumulated on his right wrist to Kayneth's hand. There was not even any pain; the entire process was concluded in only a few minutes.
"Then please continue to fight glorious battles as a Master——"
"That is most certain."
Kayneth nodded, all smiles, then took out a handgun that had been hidden in the seat of his wheelchair, and aimed at the priest who had already turned away.
The dry sound of a gun firing broke the silence of the Hall of God.
Kayneth did not even spare another glance for the old priest who had slumped down, and stared transfixed at the picture of the Command Seal carved on the back of his right hand.
Things had progressed to this point but he had only one… compared to the opponents who had not used their Command Seals, he was already in a disadvantaged position. And the Masters of Saber and Rider had already obtained new Command Seals; these circumstances definitely could not be ignored.
The assassination of the supervisor would undoubtedly cause a stir, but in this Heaven's Feel, there were magi other than himself who liked to use small props such as handguns. The primary suspect would thus be the filthy rat employed by the Einzberns.
Kayneth could not suppress the satisfied laugh that flooded forth from deep in his throat. He was immersed in the ecstasy of regaining his status as a Master. For the assassination of the supervisor, an action that made the dignity and pride of Lord El-Melloi plummet down to the floor, he had no intention of self-reproach.
Immediately upon stepping into the chapel, Kirei felt the presence of death.
A faint stench of blood, and the remaining, even fainter odor of smoke. Certainly there had been someone who had committed an unforgivably wicked deed in this house of God.
Though he did not sense any danger, Kirei still walked in very carefully, passing through the pews - upon arriving at the altar, he discovered the silhouette lying at the side.
The cry that rose from his lips was weak. At the same time as discovering the silhouette of Father Risei, the trained and keenly observant eyes of an Executor noticed the bullet hole in his back and the pool of blood on the ground.
Kirei, in a state of complete mental torpor, carefully examined the corpse of his father.
He pulled up the right sleeve, checking the number of the Command Seals his father had managed. As expected, there was one less. Risei had given one of the Command Seals under his management to someone, and had presumably been murdered by this person soon after. One of the Masters that had won merit in the process of the crusade against Caster had been dissatisfied with sharing the credit with the others he had fought alongside, and had therefore committed such a crime. There was essentially no need for analysis to be able to determine the entire sequence of events.
But even a magus could not seize all the Command Seals from the hands of the dead elderly priest. The Command Seals managed by the supervisor were protected by holy prayers. Without his permission, it is not possible to seize them through the use of thaumaturgy. Father Risei, the only one who knew the secret holy words, was already dead; the Command Seals of previous Grail Wars preserved to this day could no longer be used.
——That wasn't right; would Father Risei have permitted such a thing to happen?
Kirei lifted his father's right hand, discovering that there were unnatural bloodstains on the fingertips. They seemed to be marks made with abrasions. The dying Father Risei had immersed his finger in the pool of blood, and must have left clues somewhere.
Since he had understood this, it was relatively easy to find the words in blood.
On the floor, the final will in red-black writing was "jn424"-- one not of Christian faith might think this to be a secret message of unknown meaning. But to Kirei, who had inherited Risei's pious faith, the significance of this cipher was very obvious.
John 4:24. Without missing a word, Kirei recited those holy words stored in his memory.
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth——"
As if in response, on the already cold right wrist of Father Risei, all the Command Seals simultaneously gave off a faint light.
Accompanying a burst of dull pain, the Command Seals were transferred one by one onto Kirei's arm. Speechless, Kirei stared at the light of the Command Seals.
Undoubtedly, that was the faith a father had entrusted to his son.
Father Risei had believed that the first person to discover his corpse would definitely be his son. Only so did he write down in blood a code that only one of the clergy could understand. He had entrusted all the important duties of the supervisor—managing the Command Seals, guarding the Grail, guiding the Heaven's Feel in the right direction—to his son. He had truly believed that his son was one who could bear these responsibilities; even in death, he had no doubt of this.
He did not know that Kirei had concealed his newly-obtained Command Seals, and had already gained the right to be a Master——
He did not know that his son had, on an impulse, sown the seeds of disaster for his benefactor Tokiomi——
Suddenly feeling the tears falling from his cheeks, Kirei pressed his hands to his face, stunned.
To shed tears in front of his father's corpse and last wishes… … as a person, this was natural.
Even thus, at that time Kirei had been mired in terror and confusion, as if almost falling into the abyss of hell.
He must face all this directly——in his heart there was an authoritative voice telling him thus.
The feelings flooding up from your heart now, Kotomine Kirei—you must understand all of this, must accept all of this. That is because——
When was the last time he had shed tears? Now he still clearly remembered that it had been three years ago. Using a hand to scoop up the falling tears, that woman had once said this: "You love me." ——
The intrinsic ability in his heart to conceal oneself was staunchly blocking recollection.
He cannot turn back. He cannot reflect. The tears shed that day, the feelings held that time, needed to be tossed into the abyss of forgetting.
The answer he had once understood.
The truth he had painstakingly come to realize.
If it was because he had not faced this with an open heart and had thus adopted the method of avoidance that allowed him to maintain his current condition --
He could not comprehend the tears that flowed once more at all. The same feelings as at that time were crying out to the sentiments that had been sealed away and sought for understanding.
But heedless of these rational warnings, memories seeped continuously forth from the gaps between the seals.
This time was very far from the ending he had expected -- he had thought thus then.
At the bedside of the frail, dying woman, had Kirei not come to realize the thing which his consciousness desired?
Wanting to ■ ■ ■ ■ this woman——
Wanting to see this woman even more ■ ■ ■ ■ ——
In deeply loving Kotomine Kirei and trusting him——in this aspect, his father, and this woman, did have something in common.
They are also the same in absolutely misunderstanding the nature of the person that is Kirei.
Precisely because of this, three years ago Kirei had constantly prayed like this in his heart…
In the moments before his father’s death, let him sample once again the joy of the greatest ■ ■ ■ ■ of the mortal world—
"Just like those beasts who chase the scent of blood—— The soul pursues pleasure——"
As if the ruby-like eyes that had been latent in the bottom of his heart, accompanied by that sinister laugh, were quietly whispering.
Only pleasure is the form of the soul-did he not speak thus? The nature of Kotomine Kirei is also like this——
"…O Lord… hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
The familiar prayer he had to recite every day instantly spewed forth from his mouth; this might have been an instinct of self-preservation. In this way he returned to his role as a clergyman, tightly binding a soul that was close to falling to pieces.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us… and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil… Amen.”
He sealed the cursed truth of the tears falling uninterrupted from his face to forgetfulness's other shore. Kirei prayed for his father's fortunes in the next life, and made the sign of the cross on his chest.
"You—useless fellow! Trash that only knows how to boast!"
Lancer could only quietly lower his head and silently endure the ferocious scolding.
"You were only to protect a woman temporarily. But you could not even do it; this is preposterous! So this is the stuff a so-called knight is made of!"
Kayneth was currently cursing, spit flying everywhere. But from the extent of disconcertment, compared to Lancer who forgot himself out of shame, Kayneth was actually even more out of things. Because of his naturally stubborn personality, now the extent of Lord El-Melloi’s anger was filled with righteous indignation to the point of being fear-inducing.
Kayneth had obtained a new Command Seal; satisfied, he had returned to the abandoned factory that he used as a hiding place, and found that there was in fact no sign of Sola there. Logically speaking, at this time she should already have ended the battle with Caster and returned here. He had waited in a state of anxiety brought on by worry, and waited until—the solitary return of Lancer, whose expression was serious.
"Though it was only a temporary substitution, Sola was undoubtedly your Master, was she not! You actually do not have the ability to guard her till the end—why did you become a Servant? How can you be so shameless as to return alone!"
"...I truly do not have the dignity to return."
"Then you—in the battle with Caster, was it also your foolish childishness that encouraged you to neglect the protection of your Master, focusing only on displaying that foolish heroism of yours?!"
Lancer weakly shook his head. His natural beauty was twisted by sorrow; this meant that he was also remorseful of this hateful outcome. But now Kayneth did not have the time to notice this at all.
"Master, please allow me... Because Sola-sama and I did not make an official contract, we cannot even feel each other’s presence...”
"It is precisely because of this that you should have been even more careful, even more attentive!"
Kayneth immediately shouted, cutting off his Servant’s explanation.
Usually for a Master and Servant who had made a contract, no matter which party had fallen into danger, it would be communicated to the other. In truth, in the Einzbern forest, it was in this way that Lancer had saved Kayneth from the emergency circumstances.
But this time, because Lancer and Sola had in fact entered the battle without forming an official contract according to the laws of contract thaumaturgy, Lancer had only protected Sola out of his duty to Kayneth; this had also become a cause of the disaster.
In the end, by the time Lancer had ended the battle and returned to the rooftop of the building in central Fuyuki, Sola, who had originally stayed there, had long disappeared; only the bloodstains splattered over the floor were any hint as to the seriousness of the occurrence.
The only thing that could be confirmed was that Sola was still alive. The prana supply that allowed Lancer to remain in this world and that provided him with the strength to act was still flowing unobstructed into his body. Undoubtedly, she had been kidnapped, but the instigator did not seem to intend to take her life.
If it had been another Servant, perhaps it would be possible to sense her approximate location by the path of the prana supply. But unfortunately, because the contract which Lancer had made was not a standard one—the contractor and supplier of prana were two different people, his ability to sense the supplier of prana was clearly extremely weak. Even if he could determine that Sola was still alive, but where the prana came from, he could not sense at all. With no leads, searching for Sola in the city was almost like searching for a needle in the haystack. In the end, he had had to return alone.
"Ahah, Sola... indeed I should not have passed the Command Seals to her... a magecraft battle would truly have overloaded her..."
"In not advising Sola-sama otherwise, I am also responsible. But Sola-sama made that decision purely because she wished that you, Sir Kayneth, could regain your standing. In that case, no matter what, please—"
Kayneth raised his eyes, clouded with jealousy, and stared at Lancer.
"You still have the gall to speak thus. Don’t act stupid, Lancer, it must have been you who encouraged Sola."
"You... why would you draw such a conclusion..."
"Hmph, stop pretending! In the stories of legend, you are fairly well known for womanizing and adultery. Were you not involuntarily intending to seduce your master’s fiancée?"
Kneeling on the floor with his head lowered, Lancer’s shoulders were shaking violently, almost dangerously.
"——My master, no matter what you must take back those words."
"Hn, hit a nerve? You cannot endure this anger? In that case, you are intending to show me your true face of ferocity?"
Kayneth continued to mock the Heroic Spirit who could barely control his own emotions.
"You’ve finally slipped up. On one hand you swear eternal loyalty to me, speaking pretty words; on the other hand, driven by lust, you betray me. You always spoke of knighthood with a proud expression; do you think that would be enough to mislead me—Kayneth?"
"Sir Kayneth... you... why do you not understand my loyalty?!"
Lancer’s sobbed. The somewhat quivering inquiry was almost plaintive.
"All I wanted was to defend the honor I have always had! I only want to participate with you in glorious battles! Master, why do you not understand the heart of a knight?!"
"Stop saying these insolent things, Servant!"
Kayneth mercilessly snapped at Lancer’s plea with a ruthless expression. The suspicion of and dissatisfaction with his Servant had at this point already passed boiling point in his heart.
"Presumptuous puppet. No matter what you are only a Servant. You are only a shadow that can stay in the real world through magical means! The glory and pride you speak of is only a trick that the spirits of the dead use to confuse the people of the world. Furthermore you are actually insolent enough to the point of lecturing your Master; know the limits to your audacity!"
Because what Kayneth had said was too much, Lancer was speechless. Kayneth, seeing Lancer’s expression, secretly felt a sadistic pleasure. Seizing the opportunity, he stretched his right arm, on which the image of the Command Seals had once again been carved, towards Lancer; the magus proudly laughed loudly.
"If you are dissatisfied, then try using that pride and honor of which you speak to withstand my Command Seals—hm, no match? This then is your true ability. The spirit and fortitude of which you speak are not even worth mentioning in the presence of the Command Seals. Those are the real tricks of puppets such as Servants, then.”
"... Kayneth... sir..."
Facing Kayneth who was loudly mocking him, Lancer weakly lowered his head, unable to make any sort of rebuttal. The previous majesty of brandishing the twin lances in the presence of warlords had long since vanished without a trace; whether from weakly slumped shoulders, or the unfocused eyes staring at the ground, it was impossible to see any trace of heroism.
Looking at his miserable likeness, Kayneth finally felt that he had vented all the grievances he had been continuously accumulating, and felt slightly relieved.
Perhaps up till now, Kayneth had finally been able to establish his ideal master-servant relationship with this Heroic Spirit. Though it was somewhat late; he should have been able to, at an earlier time—preferably immediately after summoning—completely strike down his pride. If this had been done earlier, this presumptuous Servant would probably not have had other intentions, and served him compliantly.
After a long silence, Lancer suddenly called to Kayneth in a cold voice.
"What is it? Is there anything you still have to say?"
"...That is not my intention. There appears to be something closing in on us. It is probably the sound of an engine equipped with an automatic drive."
Though Kayneth did not hear anything. But the hearing of ordinary people was greatly incomparable to that of a Servant.
A motorcar which, at almost daybreak, drove in this direction with this abandoned factory as its target, definitely could not be simply passing by.
Come to think of it, at the time of deciding this place as a stronghold, the camouflage enchantments he had set up in the surroundings had almost reached the point of revealing weak points... Kayneth sneered at himself who was no longer a magus, and surfaced a dry smile.
"Lancer, go immediately to destroy it. Do not stay your hand."
Lancer nodded, immediately shifted into spirit form, and disappeared.
According to the directions that Irisviel, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was giving, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL that Saber was driving had gradually left Shinto, moved east, and come to a deserted area.
"If you follow this road straight, on the left hand side there is an abandoned factory. There... appears to be the stronghold of Lancer and the rest."
The location of the factory and the route to take had all been told to Irisviel over the phone by Kiritsugu.
After the intense battle not far from the river, one could guess that Lancer, who had left the battlefield without a word, would probably have returned to his Master’s side. Upon hearing that Kiritsugu had gotten hold of a report as to Lancer’s whereabouts, Saber proposed to act immediately.
"Come to think of it... are you all right? Wouldn’t consecutive battles be a great burden to you?"
"No problem, Irisviel. On the other hand, I hope to be able to face off against Lancer tonight."
After somberly announcing this, this time it was Saber who flanked worriedly at the passenger seat.
"You, on the other hand, Irisviel, are you all right? You did not look too well just now."
While operating the steering wheel, Saber looked at Irisviel beside her. Saber discovered at a glance that Irisviel’s face was pale and bloodless, and that she was constantly wiping cold sweat from her forehead. Ever since leaving the riverside, she had been like this. Though she was trying her best to hide it, observers could tell at a glance that she was exerting herself.
"... Don’t worry, Saber. As long as you are by my side...
Ah, look. That building. That should be it."
A long time ago, when the city had not yet been depicted as an emerging residential area, this was probably a place used for something like lumber. The location that had been abandoned by developing trends, forgotten by emergent flourishing streets, quietly stood in the heart of a small hilly area overgrown with lallang.
Slowly passing through the front door and into empty ground, Saber turned off the car’s engine. The surroundings were quiet; Irisviel, standing outside the car, warily eyed the situation around, then nodded.
"—Indeed there are traces of magecraft enchantments. But what is strange is that they do not seem to be carefully managed; they are already showing flaws."
"No, it is this place. Irisviel."
Saber, who had gotten out of the car a little later, asserted with a calm expression. This highly skilled swordswoman had probably long sensed through sharp senses the scent of battle.
Indeed—as if to prove Saber’s pronouncement true, in front of the silent abandoned land suddenly appeared a handsome figure holding a lance.
"You were actually able to find this place—it must not have been easy, Saber."
"After investigating, my—partner told me this was your stronghold."
The word ‘Master’ had almost issued forth from her lips, but she ultimately had not said it in the end—this showed the minute wave of emotion of which even Saber herself had not been aware. Of course, in principle it was for the sake of concealing the reality of who her true Master really was. But, the most fundamental reason was still that subconsciously, she did not wish to admit that Kiritsugu was her master.
Lancer’s expression was grave, very different from usual, hesitating for a long time as if choosing words in his mind, then asking the visitor a question.
"Where is my master’s fiancée? ... Saber, you will not say that you do not know?"
Saber’s and Irisviel’s expressions both turned troubled; they looked at each other.
"I do not know—what happened?"
"Nothing. Pretend I never asked."
Lancer sighed lengthily; the amount of relief it contained was far greater than disappointment. Originally he had not intended to ask Saber this question. That the one who was his rival would use such underhanded means as kidnapping a hostage—just thinking about it, Lancer found it detestable.
"—Come to think of it, Saber, are you all right? I do not think it was to chat with me that you came here. But didn’t you expend a lot of energy in the battle against Caster?"
"Regarding this, I think the other Servants are the same."
Saber passed over the matter as if it were inconsequential. It was indeed as she had said; in the battle with Caster at the riverside, every Servant had expended a great deal of prana.
"So I predicted that tonight no one would initiate an attack, instead taking the defensive stance—precisely because of this, there is no need to worry that tonight’s battle will be intruded upon by people who have nothing to do with it."
Saber, whose entire body was overflowing with a calm fighting spirit, stepped forward. Her slender, small body nevertheless evoked the impression of majesty; this aura, accompanied by the splendidly radiant armor formed of dazzling prana, enveloped her entire body.
"It is already almost dawn... There is still some time in the night; if this great opportunity were to be missed, we do not know in which month of which year we will have another opportunity to face off without a care. I do not think this opportunity should be missed—what do you think? Lancer."
Lancer, whose usually handsome expression had been lost to the worries of his heart, now finally smiled slightly.
"Saber... now the only thing that can bring a cool and refreshing wind to my heart, is this pure will of yours to fight."
In reality, a while ago Saber had also been secretly surprised as to why Lancer had lost his previous majesty. Until she had seen his smile and discovered that her worries were unnecessary. A man with such a smile clearly did not require concern or worry of any kind. That sort of smile was one that only people who had overcome all difficulties and were steadfast in their beliefs could have.
Lancer brandished the red lance as if wishing to chase away all the worries and laments in his heart; the point was directed at Saber.
Saber also released the Barrier of the Wind King; the precious golden sword was revealed amidst the whirlwind. Facing Diarmuid’s Gáe Dearg, using air pressure to conceal the blade of the sword was meaningless.
And the most important thing was, the King of Knights believed that this rival originally from another time but that she had coincidentally met in this world was a Heroic Spirit worthy to accept the light of the sword in which she had accumulated all her glory that shone upon him.
The morning light was lucent, the sky a faint red; all the fighting spirits concentrated between the two Servants was silently and anxiously on the offensive. If one’s senses were especially sensitive, just standing in the middle of the whirlpool of their wills would make one feel pain as if having been hit; perhaps it would even induce a heart attack.
Every cell in Irisviel’s body shuddered with the anticipation of a lethal blow; to say nothing of the aura, even the circulation of her blood was stagnated.
Then—both parties stepped forward at the same time with spirits majestic as the rainbow in the sky, and the clashing sounds were clear as ripping cloth.
The two heroes who had not had a chance to battle these three days, tonight finally had the chance to face off; an intense battle would once again occur.
The situation of battle tonight—on one hand was a re-enactment of the showdown at the warehouses, but the battle of their crossing swords was even more intense than the first—fiercer, more direct, more final; it was a direct clash of strength on strength.
Between the two there was no need for mutual evaluation, nor the use of tricks to confuse the other. Lancer held only one lance right from the beginning; the blade of Saber’s sword was also completely revealed. Neither used means of plots and tricks. Even faster, even more imposing. After one made a move, the other would immediately retaliate at full strength with a blow that would counter the first. A simple contest of skill, blade of sword against point of lance, even more intense, even more white-hot.
The holy sword intertwined with the demonic lance, in direct opposition; the sparks flying were simply dazzling. The clash between the precious artifacts of legend, driven by strength and speed far beyond that of a human, passed the speed of sound, nearing the speed of light. Observation had long since lost meaning in this momentous battle. Those divine skills, pushed to the limits at the point of this fierce battle, were having a supreme contest between the two.
An unknown number of rounds had been fought; perhaps tens of rounds, perhaps hundreds of rounds. It was simply impossible to determine with a mortal eye. After the lance and sword of the two clashed, they finally separated, and moved away from each other.
Lancer had just started speaking, but was unable to continue, his face an expression of anguish and confusion.
Tonight, though Saber’s swordplay had changed only slightly, but it was indeed lighter in strength than the first time and somewhat held back. Lancer would not have been unable to notice this. This was not due to the expenditure of Saber’s physical strength, but it was that her swordplay itself had changed.
Saber held tightly onto her left thumb, tucked into her palm, in actuality not grasping her sword. The remaining four fingers were lightly wrapped around the sword; in controlling her sword, her left hand was used only for support. When attacking, the strength of her left hand was not used at all.
It had clearly been Saber who had taken the initiative to pronounce her intention of facing off, but she deliberately did not use her left hand, only using the right to hold the sword of gold.
Of course, Lancer understood the reason behind this.
Indeed, Lancer had once used the demonic lance Gáe Buidhe to seal the strength of Saber’s left hand, but in the battle against Caster last night, Lancer had destroyed the cursed yellow lance, proactively giving up the advantageous lead. But Saber’s pride would not settle for accepting Lancer’s concession, and so she intentionally did not use her left hand. This, then, was an action of true chivalry.
But—even that concession that was noble enough to inspire instantaneous respect—Lancer did not welcome this action from his heart.
If the action of casting away Gáe Buidhe had caused Saber unnecessary concern.
From the final result, it meant that Lancer’s actions had dampened the enthusiasm of the showdown between the two. It was a battle in which both parties did not have any regrets, and used all their strength to face off, that Lancer had hoped for. If Saber had held back because she could not put aside her consideration of the fairness of circumstance, Lancer was truly somewhat uneasy about the battle.
"—If you misunderstand, I will be very troubled. Lancer."
As if having guessed what Lancer was thinking, Saber shook her head with a stern but calm expression.
"If I were to use my left hand, my shame would definitely slow my sword. Facing your superb skills with the lance, this would be a fatal mistake."
"So, Diarmuid, this is really the best strategy I use in order to put all my strength into bringing you down."
Saber said resolutely, Holding the sword with one hand was indeed somewhat heavy; Saber lowered the sword slightly, and assumed her stance.
Shining in her eyes was only an awe-inspiring, coolly clear will to fight. There was no carelessness, nor was there hesitation.
Perhaps to her, the extent of the injury to her left hand was only of secondary importance in battle. Perhaps the most important contributor to Saber’s ability to obtain victory was in the clear fighting spirit and passion for battle that had been honed to purity.
To sever her confusion, she would rather give up her left hand—the pride hidden in her heart, then, was her greatest weapon.
It is this in which the King of Knights is most noble.
Saber now undoubtedly had embraced the resolution of fighting to the death. She also wished to face off with Lancer to her heart’s content under conditions like these—after understanding her intentions, Lancer felt something intense and also freeing, as if having been shocked by electricity.
"Glory shines from within the sword of the King of Knights. It is truly great that I have been able to meet you."
The path that the two anticipated was the same.
If it was a narrow bridge on which it was not possible to give way to each other, the person who took a step first must be respectfully seen off from behind by the other who had fallen back.
Precisely thus—was this without worry, without distraction, in which lives were risked, the exploration and pursuit of lance and sword, a battle of true worth.
The expressions of the two were both extremely anxious and serious, but at the corner of their lips hung the hint of a smile.
"Head knight of the Knights of Fianna, Diarmuid ua Duibhne—attacks!"
"That is well. King of Britain, Artoria Pendragon meets battle——!"
The two closed in once again, white blades clashing, sparks flying; from its midst could be seen the joy of those to whom battle is the meaning for their living, shining brightly.
Kayneth hid in the shadows deep inside the abandoned factory and gazed at the situation of the battle outside. The thoughts in his heart, contrary to the incorrupt preparedness of those knights, were only boiling with anxiety.
Since the victor remained long undecided, he was getting more fidgety by the second with those anxious feelings.
Why couldn’t he win?
Although Saber underestimated Lancer so much, why would Lancer’s spear still be unable to hit Saber?
The answer became very clear upon some careful thinking – that is, Lancer is very weak, far more inferior to Saber.
At this moment, he regretted profoundly for not getting the Heroic Spirit Alexander.
It would never have turned out like this had he made the King of Conquerors his Servant as he had previously planned. Having his Holy Relic stolen at the crucial moment, he had to summon Diarmuid as a substitute in a hurry. As long as a first-rate, authentic Master such as himself is present, those small disadvantages can be amended even if the ranks of the Heroic Spirit were lowered. The parts that the Servant lacks in will be amended by his own talent; Lord El-Melloi did indeed have such a fearless attitude.
However, right now, having lost his Magic Circuits, Kayneth had long lost his previous confidence. In order to survive this war with his sole remaining Command Seal and an inferior Servant, he had to be even more prudent than before.
When there is no definite chance of victory, the right thing to do would be to immediately escape with the Master. Although he hadn’t gotten around asking how Lancer managed to lose Gáe Buidhe, the chances of victory against Saber became even more elusive after her left hand had healed.
Right now wasn’t the time to stick to battles; Lancer should have other duties needing to be prioritized over this. It would be impossible for the current Kayneth to search and rescue Sola by himself. It simply cannot be done without ordering his Servant.
But – just how stupid is that Lancer? Can’t he even realize the severity of such a situation?
Fretting, Kayneth scratched his head repetitively. How great would it be if he could use a Command Seal right now! Why did he just have to have only one Command Seal by his hand? It was such a pity for Sola to take away two Command Seals. If only she was able to trust Kayneth…
Right then, Kayneth’s neck suddenly felt an unnatural flow of air.
A piece of paper fluttered down beside him. It was an extremely ordinary piece of notepaper, but Kayneth fixed his eyes on the few concise words on it with a deadly gaze.
“– If you don’t want your beloved one to die, then quietly look behind you –”
Stunned, Kayneth’s eyes widened, and he moved the wheels of the wheelchair to change the direction his body was facing. Deep inside the pitch-black abandoned factory, the light coming in through a skylight illuminated one single place like a spotlight.
The outlines of woman, lying on the floor as if deep asleep, emerged out of the dim and cold light.
Kayneth would never mistake those features no matter how dim the light is or how far the distance becomes.
Although the pain and haggardness on Sola’s steel-grey face showed that something had evidently occurred, the strand of hair beside her mouth quivered as if blown by a breeze. That was the proof of her breathing. She was still alive.
Kayneth forgot the warning on the paper and almost cried out despite himself. Then, like a wraith emerging out of the darkness, a human figure stepped into the weak light and showed himself.
An old coat, those untidy hair and listless whiskers, and only those pair of eyes, different from the gloomy countenance, fierily emitted a razor-sharp light – that unforgettable man, the only one who had cruelly torn apart all the Magic Circuits in Kayneth’s body, that hateful flunky of the Einzberns.
He had probably transported the unconscious Sola in quietly from the back door during the gap formed while Saber and Lancer concentrated in fighting each other. The barrel of the submachine gun in the man’s hand aimed steadily at Sola’s forehead.
“It just has to be… that bastard…”
Kayneth had experience that viper-like cruelty and seamless prudence first-hand. Compared to anger and hatred – a deep despair that far surpassed all other emotions made him hang his head powerlessly.
It really was the worse situation he could think of. The woman he loves was captured by the most difficult enemy that he didn’t even want to imagine.
However, just before he sank into a panic, the voice of reason stopped Kayneth.
There must be some purpose for that man to deliberately show himself and let Kayneth confirm Sola’s wellbeing.
Kayneth turned his head and cast a glance at Lancer, who was fighting with all he had in the abandoned empty area. Judging from the two Servants’ position in battle, Sola’s location was a dead spot that they can’t see. The two of them were both bent on dealing with the strong enemy in front of them, completely ignorant to this new invader.
Kayneth couldn’t guess what the man wanted, so he silently inclined his head, showing his intention of obeying the other’s wish.
The man took a roll of vellum out of his coat and cast it into the air after casually opening it. Although the weight of vellum cannot be compared to the notepaper beforehand, simple manipulations of air was enough to make it fly with the wind. Like a jellyfish, the vellum floated across space slowly and leisurely, and landed on Kayneth’s knees.
Although others would only perceive this as some meaningless figures and well-made patterns the things recorded on it was, for Kayneth, a perfect magecraft document written in a format that he was familiar with.
– Only that the content was very rarely seen.
Binding magecraft: Target – Emiya Kiritsugu
The Crests of the Emiya family hereby command: Provided that the following conditions are met, this oath shall become a commandment and bind the target without exception.
To the fifth head of the Emiya house, Kiritsugu, son of Noritaka: regarding both Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald and Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri, all intentions and actions to kill and harm shall be forbidden for all eternity.
Self-Geis Scroll – one of the most merciless contract magecrafts that would only be used in the treacherous society of magi when a contract that absolutely cannot be disobeyed was to be made.
It is an enforced curse that forcibly uses the functions of one’s own Magic Crests upon oneself. Theoretically, it has a power that cannot be erased by any method. Even if the caster lost his life, the Magic Crests would bind the soul of the dead man and would not pass down the generations. It is a very dangerous magecraft. For magi, a parley that involves offering such a declaration would in fact mean a maximal concession.
Although it wasn’t something Kayneth often saw, it was indeed proper in the way it was written, with no loopholes. The signature made with the blood of the declarer himself was evidently pulsing with prana, showing that the spell was already established and was currently working.
That is to say – when the conditions recorded in the bottom half of the declaration is fulfilled, that man – Emiya Kiritsugu will give up a part of his free will, and the contract will be confirmed as an unbreakable curse.
Holding the vellum with shaking hands, Kayneth read the conditions to establish the contract over and over. As if hoping the contents would change the next time he reads it, he stubbornly contemplated those words repeatedly. He bent his entire will to consider if the contents left any gaps that may form contradictions.
However, different from Kayneth’s wavering thoughts, the most logical part of his heart had already accepted his own yielding. The possibility that his beloved woman and himself may return to their homeland alive – at this moment, isn’t that his greatest wish?
If he hesitated a few more moments, Emiya Kiritsugu would probably pull the trigger. After the first bullet took away Sola’s life, the barrel would definitely point at Kayneth himself. There were no choices for him. Whether to lose everything or to regard that declaration as his last hope of life… that was the only difference.
With a dim and blank look as if he was an empty shell, he looked at the final Command Seal on his right hand and then gave the final unbreakable command as Lancer’s Master.
Without a sign, without a reason – brilliant vermillion scattered all over the earth.
Everyone appeared to be equally shocked. Saber, Irisviel, and even Lancer himself widened their eyes at this overly abrupt end – Lancer’s own shock should probably be the most intense, since he had not a sliver of expectation or preparedness for that agony and despair.
Dazed, Lancer gazed at the crimson flowers that dripped from the red spear shaft to the ground. No matter how, he could not believe that it was all his own blood.
His own beloved spear pierced his heart. It was no one else’s but his own two hands that forcibly stabbed the spear tip into his own body.
Of course, it wasn’t his intention, nor was it his wish. What his crimson spear was supposed to pierce was Saber’s heart, and what was supposed to pierce his own heart should have been Saber’s holy sword.
Able to rob everything away from him at a whim, regardless of his fighting spirit or beliefs – no such great power exists apart from Command Seals.
Because Lancer was overly focused on the duel with Saber, he did not notice the treaty secretly sealed in the dim abandoned factory beside him until the end.
“Use up all the Command Seals, and let the Servant finish himself’” – that was the required condition within the Self-Geis Scroll Emiya Kiritsugu brought up. He demanded Kayneth to use up all the Command Seals and completely destroy the Servant – a total retreat from the Holy Grail War.
Crimson tears flew out of Lancer’s wide eyes.
For him, it was already the second time to be murdered by his lord. It was precisely because Diarmuid ua Duibhne was bent on overcoming that unhappy end that he wished so strongly to return to this world from the Throne of Heroes. However, the end that he received was a replay of that tragedy – he only experienced that despair and sorrow once again.
The Heroic Spirit looked behind him with eyes wet with blood and tears. Just then, two Masters walked out of the abandoned factory to witness his end. They were Kayneth, sitting on his wheelchair with an empty and dazed expression and another man, who stood and carried Sola’s comatose body in his hands. He was the anonymous true Master of Saber that he saw at Einzbern castle.
“Do you… so…”
Kneeling in a pool of his own blood, Lancer tried his best to speak with a hoarse and low sound.
“Do you want victory so much!? Do you want to win the Holy Grail so much? Even … willing to trample on my only true wish… you, don’t you feel ashamed!?”
His beauty twisted with blood and tears, changing into a completely different countenance akin to a demon’s. Lancer, forgetting everything except hatred, no longer distinguished between friend and foe. Thinking of Kiritsugu, Saber, and everything in the world, he roared out a growl of vengeance that tore at his heart.
“Unforgivable… I’ll never forgive you! You dead men who are slaved by fame, and desecrated the glory of knights… let my blood stain that dream! I curse the Holy Grail! I curse that your wishes will become disasters! When you fall into the burning pits of hell, do not forget my, Diarmuid’s, anger!”
While he gradually lost his material body and crumpled as a hazy shade, he screamed curses until the final moment when he disappeared. There was no longer the glorious figure of a Heroic Spirit, but only an evil spirit roaring with resentment. Servant Lancer had finally been completely eliminated.
As if at a loss, Kayneth gazed at the blank space left by Lancer’s disappearance. Casually, Kiritsugu placed Sola, who was still deep asleep, on his knees. As Kayneth softly caressed the haggard sleeping face of his beloved, he asked Kiritsugu with a weak voice.
“… Then your enforcement has been…?”
“Ahh, it’s established. It’s already impossible to kill you…”
Kiritsugu slowly moved back as he took out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it – maybe that was the signal.
“For me, that is.”
While Kayneth mumbled in a low voice Hisau Maiya, who witnessed everything in the shadows far away, silently pulled the trigger of the Steyr AUG assault rifle.
Kayneth and Sola were captured by the aim of the night vision scope and were mercilessly exposed to a rain of automatically-fired bullets. For the two of them, who have lost the protection of Volumen Hydragyrum and had no Servants left in service, the 5.56mm high-speed bullet rain of baptism was an inescapable gale of death. In the savage power of the bullets that they had so despised in the past, the magus and his fiancée’s bodies were torn in pieces and fell to the concrete ground.
He only doubted if the magecraft of the Self-Geis Scroll was tempered with, but missed the trap hidden behind the meaning of the important contract. That finally took away the fate of the genius magus.
Perhaps Sola, who died from the bullets without pain, was the luckier one. Tragically, even after he was transformed into a sieve and fell down from the wheelchair, Kayneth still remained breathing. He had been dealt many fatal wounds all over his body and had no more hope of surviving. However, even if he had only seconds left to live, it would be a cruelly long time if it were to be passed by enduring the pain and agony of death.
“… Ahhh… Kill… Kill me…”
“Sorry, that is a contract I can’t fulfill.”
Kiritsugu ignored the weak entreating sounds beside his feet, and replied with a nonchalant voice as he exhaled the purple smoke that he had breathed in.
The sound that sobbed with pain didn’t go on. Saber couldn’t bear to keep watching and used her sword to cut off Kayneth’s head, ending his pain.
At the end, the King of Knight’s sword did not fulfil the promise made with Lancer. On the contrary, it ended up far from faith and glory, and was stained with the blood of ending the pain of someone already wounded without hope.
“Emiya, Kiritsugu –”
The azure irises burned with a cold fire. They were not eyes used to look at friends, nor was it a sight used to face comrades in a broader sense. Identical to when she faced Caster’s madness and Archer’s arrogance, it was a look sharp as a blade used to pierce those that she had recognized as enemies.
“I finally understand it now; you’re a man without morals. I had originally thought that even if our paths differ, our goals are the same; but I was far too foolish…”
Kiritsugu still remained silent. There was already no need to answer. It was because the actions that Saber just witnessed were absolutely ‘evil’.
“Up till now, I’ve believed in Irisviel’s words and never doubted your character. However, even if a man like you now says that you’ll save the world with the Holy Grail, I won’t believe a word of it anymore.
Answer me, Kiritsugu! Did you deceive even your wife? Just what is the true reason that you seek the omnipotent wish-granting vessel?!”
Kiritsugu – although his eyes stared at Saber as if irritated, the mouth that held a cigarette still didn’t speak a word. It was a gaze used to look out at a wildly barking stray dog. It merely contained a decisive separation that gave up trying to understand each other using words from the start.
Within Saber’s heart, there was already a calm and resolute decision that almost said ‘he must be killed’.
Maybe, at the end, the only thing left between her and this master would be to face him with her sword. Even if that will be prohibited by the Command Seals, this obvious enmity cannot be changed. This might be the largest fracture in their camp during the War of the Holy Grail. However, no matter what, as long as she’s with Emiya Kiritsugu, it is very probable that she won’t be able to obtain the Holy Grail that she truly wishes for.
“Even if my sword does win the Holy Grail, if I am to entrust the Grail to you, then I…”
That sunset over Camlann flashed past Saber’s eyes. The wish hidden in her heart made her words blur at the end.
A sound from behind her interrupted that painful pause.
“Answer me, Kiritsugu. No matter what, this time you have the obligation to explain.”
Even Irisviel, who trusted her husband completely, couldn’t help but raise her voice in her question.
Different from Saber, she fully knew the way her husband thinks and understood him. However, there was a vast difference between the beliefs expressed in words and the stunning real actions before her eyes.
She already had a cold premonition that said ‘could it be…?’ in her heart when Lancer questioned her about Lord El-Melloi’s fiancée back then. However, the conscience in her heart denied that probability. No matter what, for him to do something of that degree…
At the end, even as his wife, Irisviel had underestimated Kiritsugu’s ruthlessness.
“– Speaking of, this is the first time you witnessed my ‘method of killing’, Iri.”
Changing from the silence that he’s maintained until know, Kiritsugu answered with a dry voice. The dim and cold look that he gave to Saber shrank back shyly with shame as he turned to Irisviel.
“Nah, Kiritsugu. Don’t speak to me, speak to Saber. She needs to talk to you.”
“No, I’ve got nothing to speak with that Servant. There’s nothing to be said to a killer controlled by glory and honor.”
He fearlessly spoke words that insulted Saber while maintaining a front of speaking to Irisviel. Of course Saber would not leave it alone.
“Don’t you dare to humiliate chivalry in front of me, you beast!”
Even if faced with the angry yells of the King of Knights, who raised her brows in rage, Kiritsugu stayed steady as a rock. He still paid no attention to Saber, fixing his gaze on his wife instead. However, at this time, he finally started to spill his words out endlessly.
“Chivalry cannot save the world. It was so in past histories, and it will be so in the future. Those people promoted the idea that there is a difference of good and evil when it comes to the method of battle, and acted on the battlefield as if they have pride. Just because all the heroes of the ages were cloaked with that illusion, how many youths do you think were deceived by the glory of such courage and finally bled to their deaths?”
“That’s not an illusion! Even if it’s a matter of life or death, as long as it is the action of humans it must have rules and beliefs that allow no violation. Righteousness must not be lost! Otherwise, the endless flames of war will once again turn this world into hell at the end!”
Saber rebuked righteously. However, Kiritsugu snorted in derision.
“See, just like so – just like you said, Iri. This great Heroic Spirit dares to think that the battlefield is better than hell.
What a joke! No matter in what era, the battlefield has always been a veritable hell. In the battlefield, there is no place for hope. What lies there is only cold despair and a sin called victory, built on the pain of the defeated.
All those people who met there have wholeheartedly admitted the evil and foolishness of this act called ‘war’. As long as people don’t repent and don’t regard it as the most evil taboo, then hell would endlessly reappear in the world.”
For Saber, who only knew the utterly cruel, emotionless Kiritsugu, it was the first time she saw Emiya Kiritsugu’s other side – a man almost crushed by endless anguish and sorrow, his monologue that was close to lamentation.
“However, humans did not realize that truth no matter how high they staked their mountains of corpses. That’s because in no matter what era the courageous and fearless great heroes have always bedazzled the eyes of the multitude with their splendid heroic legends. Because of the wistful actions of those idiots and their refusal to admit that bloodshed is by itself evil, the essence of humans has stayed on the same spot since the Stone Age!”
Just who was the target of the rage filling those pair of eyes – that was already clear without the need to clarify.
Ever since the day that the flames of war started on the land of Fuyuki, Kiritsugu had probably began looking at the shining figures of the Heroic Spirits before him, those who prided in courage and resolution, with that unendurable rage in his heart.
Those who left such heroism, and those who longed for such heroism; the anger directed at them and with nowhere to let out… it was a hatred toward the overall concept of ‘Heroic Spirits’ that was created due to the prayers of men.
“– then Kiritsugu, your humiliation of Saber… was it because of your hatred towards Heroic Spirits?”
“How could it be? I’d never mix in such personal emotions into it. I need to win the Holy Grail and save the world. I am only using the most suitable method in the processing of fighting for that goal.”
If he had fought as he had planned before, and if he didn’t capture Sola but killed her immediately, then Lancer, whose supply of prana would be completely stopped, would naturally disappear. However, what Kiritsugu employed was a strategy that completely removed the possibility of a Servant, having lost his master, forming a contract with someone else and returning to the battlefield. Based on the result of the battle against Caster he predicted that Kayneth, who was protected by the Fuyuki Church, may obtain extra Command Seals. Therefore, he prepared such a twisting and complicated trap.
Relying on the Command Seal of the rival Master to eliminate the Servant, and then take out the Master, a complete removal of the obstacle… during that time, what he demanded from Saber was not to win over Lancer but to distract Lancer’s attention while Kiritsugu convinced Kayneth, acting only as a decoy.
“The world as it is, the human nature as always, it is impossible to eliminate battles. In the end, killing is necessarily evil. If so, it is best to end them in the maximum efficiency and at the least cost, least time. If you want to slander that as foul and demean that as nasty, then do as you wish. Justice cannot save the world. I have no interest in things like that.”
Saber recalled Lancer’s final, disappearing eyes filled of anger. Then, she stared at the tragic remains of the man and woman, collapsed in a puddle of blood, and the expression of anguish carved on their faces, and spoke.
“Even so, you –”
As Saber was about to speak her thoughts, she suddenly found that her own voice was lower and calmer than she thought it would be. She had just realized that her complicated emotions towards Kiritsugu was no longer her previous anger, but had to changed to some kind of pity.
That’s right; maybe he is a man that should be pitied.
Isn’t he himself that needed salvation, not this world?
“– Emiya Kiritsugu, I don’t know what kind of betrayal you were subjected to in the past and why you despaired. But that rage, that lament, are undoubtedly things that those who pursued justice possesses. Kiritsugu, in your youth you should have wanted to be ‘a hero of justice’. You should have believed in and wanted to become a hero who saves the world more than anyone else – isn’t that so?”
Until now, the only attitudes Kiritsugu had shown to Saber were complete ignorance and cold scorn. But now, Kiritsugu, having heard Saber’s quiet questioning – the eyes that he fixed on his Servant showed other emotions for the first time.
It was a rage seemingly close to boiling over.
The sound of car exhaust disturbed the silence of dawn. Then, the small truck that Hisau Maiya drove entered the yard of the abandoned factory with bright headlights on. She should be here to take Kiritsugu back to Shinto after concluding her duty as a sniper.
Kiritsugu took his eyes off Saber and walked towards the small truck, not even turning around, and opened the passenger side door. Saber was still speaking to his back. There was something that she had to say no matter what.
“Kiritsugu… do you understand? If you commit evil due to your hatred of evil, at the end all that’s left will be evil. The rage and hatred that sprouted forth there will cause new wars once again.”
Faced with Saber’s heavy words, it was as if Kiritsugu had the intention to reply for the first time and wanted to turn around – however, he changed his mind at last, and said while staring at the empty air.
“I will stop the endless cycles. That’s why I need the Holy Grail.”
Indeed, as if talking to himself, he said loudly.
“I’ll use this miracle to complete the revolution of this world, the revolution of all human souls. I will make the blood shed within Fuyuki city as the final bloodshed of all human beings.
For that, even if I am to carry ‘all the evils of this world’ – it won’t matter. If that can save the world, then I’d gladly accept it.”
Kiritsugu spoke the decision in his heart with such a calmness and evenness that even Saber could not find any words to reply to him.
Even if his method and path were unendurably evil – his faith in seeking the Holy Grail was pure and selfless. She had to admit that if there was a Master in the war worthy of obtaining the Holy Grail, then he would undoubtedly be Emiya Kiritsugu.
Wordlessly, Saber watched the departure of the small truck that Kiritsugu rode. The first ray of dawn shone beside her. The dark night that made Fuyuki into a demonic realm had departed, and the streets once again put on the mask of ‘ordinary’ beneath the sunlight.
“Is Kiritsugu… gone already?”
Since Saber had the time to think about the oddities in the question, she was unable to immediately detect Irisviel’s strangeness.
That empty and wondering gaze, the pallid face, and the sweat pouring down from her forehead like a waterfall…
She was probably just forcing herself while she was beside her husband and pretended that there was nothing wrong. Irisviel fainted as soon as she relaxed, and collapsed as if she was a puppet cut loose from her strings.
Although Saber immediately moved up and held her, the strange heat coming from the slender body in her arms made her realize that Irisviel was already in a critical condition.
“Irisviel!? Hang on!”
From the resolute and bold way that Emiya Kiritsugu declared his determination so loudly that morning, it could be seen that they were truly words from his heart without any falsity.
But just what those incredible, ominous words meant at the end – Kiritsugu finally understood it clearly a few days later.
In a despair even deeper than despair.
In a regret even deeper than regret.
|Back to Act 10||Return to Main Page||Forward to Act 12|