Fate/Zero:Act 13 Part 2
In the cool morning air, Emiya Kiritsugu appeared before a certain abandoned house in Miyama.
It was an old building built many decades ago, bereft of renovations or maintenance. The courtyard even possessed a storage room built in the previous era. To be exact, this was the place he had bought as a preparatory headquarters for Irisviel. Considering that even Einsbern Castle, with its location beyond city limits, had already been attacked by enemies, it became clear that purchasing this hiding spot had been far from meaningless.
Saber was not here. Normally, he could feel the Servant’s presence through his Command Seals, but now he felt nothing. Perhaps she was on her way to Rider’s headquarters. Realizing this, Kiritsugu planned to follow her.
It would be very easy to assassinate an apprentice magus like Waver once his hiding spot became known – however, he could only make his move once Saber had lured away the opposing Servant. Kiritsugu had also followed Tōsaka Tokiomi, who had left Fuyuki Church by himself, all the way to the Tōsaka house last night, but hadn't found any opportunity to strike. He had felt Archer's surveillance over the situation from some unknown location. If he had boldly struck his Master under such conditions, it would have been nothing short of suicide.
Although he had affirmed the target’s location, Kiritsugu didn’t go to the scene straightaway. Instead, he rushed to this abandoned building serving as temporary headquarters.
It wasn’t his intuition, but a premonition comprised of many factors… he feared that this would be his last chance to communicate with his wife.
Now, with three Servants already fallen in battle, Kiritsugu was very aware of the situation surrounding Irisviel, the ‘Vessel’ of the Holy Grail. Had his heart been fragile, he would never have come here.
The meeting with his wife was now a trial for Kiritsugu, in a way his punishment.
The sacrifice required for the Holy Grail he sought was the life of the woman he loved dearly – he had to face that fact without showing even a sliver of indecisiveness.
If he could overcome this trial, then the Emiya Kiritsugu that emerged would be able to defeat all sentiment in his heart and remove all doubt. Prudently and concretely, just like a machine, it was certain that he would hold the Holy Grail in his hands.
Therefore, for the self called a weapon of war, this was the final and the greatest test.
If he could not handle it… then that meant every dream in the chest of the man called Emiya Kiritsugu held no meaning at all.
Standing in front of the door leading to the underground storage, Kiritsugu knocked out a pattern according to their arranged password. Soon, Maiya opened the heavy steel doors from within.
Kiritsugu noticed the changes in Maiya before any words were said.
Maiya, whose eyes were full of nonchalance and nihilism in every situation, now had sliver of a nervousness flit past as if Kiritsugu’s appearance made her waver.
“… Are you here to visit madam?”
Kiritsugu nodded wordlessly. Maiya lowered her head and said in a low voice.
“Her current situation…”
“I know, I know everything.”
No matter what, Kiritsugu needed to look at the scene in this underground storage with his own eyes. Moreover, he had long been mentally prepared for this – upon understanding this, Maiya said no more and stepped out Kiritsugu’s way, then walked towards the outside of the underground storage.
Irisviel silently lay in the Magic Circle filled with prana pulsations in the corner of the dim underground storage. This figure provoked Kiritsugu’s memories.
Kiritsugu and Irisviel’s first meeting had been just like this. Brought by the father of the household, Acht, into the deepest part of the Einsbern family workshop, he had stood before an Irisviel deeply asleep within a sink of amniotic fluid.
As the Vessel of the Grail – why would they give a contraption with only a few years' usage such a beautiful appearance? Back then, he had really felt it was unreasonable.
Is this thing the Holy Grail? When he had asked this question of the old magus beside him, she who had been deep asleep suddenly opened her eyes. The eyes that stared at him through the amniotic fluid floating in front of her face, that gaze filled with dark crimson, had completely enthralled Kiritsugu. He could not forget it to this day.
It was the same now as it was then.
Irisviel opened her eyes. She and Kiritsugu looked at each other, then she gave a small, gentle smile.
“Ahh – Kiritsugu –”
Irisviel stretched out her hand and caressed Kiritsugu’s face.
Even a simple movement like that required the current Irisviel to spend a relatively large amount of energy – her icy cold fingers convulsed a little in reflection of that.
“– Is this a dream? You really – came to see me again – “
It was easier than he thought, and he could still speak freely. It was the same as when he had sunk Natalia. Language and actions were not affected at all. No matter how tangled his heart was or how frayed his emotions became, his two hands could still complete the job with precision.
He could obtain victory – he believed that firmly.
Now, Emiya Kiritsugu was prepared for anything and could completely guarantee the trustworthiness of his functions. The strength of humans was never something that bothered Kiritsugu. No amount of confusion or anguish could affect his work. For Kiritsugu, his mental system of recognizing a goal and acting towards it could function without being disturbed by any factor whatsoever.
From this perspective – he was the most perfect tool because he had that fatal flaw as a human.
“I… feel very happy…”
Irisviel gently caressed the cheek of the man who can only be called a machine and said softly.
“For being able to fall in love with you… to marry you… to have a husband, to have a daughter. In the fast few years… you gave me everything I wanted… I no longer have any regrets. Everything, all the happiness in this world, I’ve already…”
“… Sorry, there are many, many promises left unfulfilled.”
I said I’d get you out of that eternally wintry castle and go look at the flowers blossoming outside, to look at the sea that sparkled with light on the waves.
I once promised you that I’d one day bring you with me and look at all those things.
Now that he remembered it, it had been such an irresponsible promise.
“No, it was good enough. Mmm.”
Irisviel didn’t complain about those promises that couldn’t be fulfilled and said with a smile.
“All those happinesses I didn’t experience… all that was left undone, please give them to Ilya. Your daughter – our most important Ilya.”
At that moment, Kiritsugu finally understood the reason why Irisviel, who was approaching the edge of destruction, could still smile with such strength.
“You must, bring that child there.”
The mother who bestowed her hope onto her child had no fear.
That was how she could face her own demise with a smile, with no trace of terror.
“Let that child, see everything I didn’t see in my stead… let her see, the cherry blossoms in the spring, the clouds in summer…”
For a machine that only knew to obtain the Holy Grail, this was a meaningless action and yet another meaningless promise.
Even so, he would still nod as a human.
After he had obtained the Holy Grail and fulfilled his wish of saving the world… the machine that had fulfilled its duty would change back into a human again, right?
At that time, he would definitely remember his promise to his wife. And at that time, do the duty of a good father and love his child thoroughly.
That was something for the near future. It could come true after only a few more short days.
However – this was not that time.
“This… needs to be returned to…”
Quivering, Irsiviel placed her hand on her chest and concentrated all the prana within her onto her fingertips.
Suddenly, in her empty hands a golden light started to shine, enveloping the entire storeroom with a cover of warm brilliance.
Holding his breath, Kiritsugu looked upon everything happening before him. The light gradually formed a silhouette, then turned into an object that shone with a metallic sheen and fell into Irisviel’s hands.
The golden scabbard.
“This… is something very important for you. In the final battle, it’ll be definitely be useful…”
Irisviel’s voice sounded even weaker than before.
That was to be expected. Irisviel, who hid in the Magic Circle in this underground storeroom in order to slow the speed of her destruction, had separated the last thing protecting her, the miraculous Noble Phantasm – Avalon • All is a Distant Utopia, sealed within her as a Conceptual Weapon – from her body using her own hands.
“I… will be fine. Maiya’s here to protect me… so…”
“… I understand.”
Upon calm contemplation.
Avalon, which was originally Saber's property, was a Noble Phantasm that would only show its effect once it had a supply of magical energy from the Servant. Since she had no hope of joining Saber on the front lines, there was no strategic merit to Irisviel being equipped with it any longer.
Even if this Noble Phantasm could slow the speed of her destruction, it did no good in the bigger picture – the most correct choice now was to repossess this Noble Phantasm from her.
Kiritsugu took the golden scabbard, placed his wife’s weak body on the ice-cold floor, stood up, and said.
“Then, I’ll be going.”
“Mm – take care.”
The words of farewell were very brief.
Emiya Kiritsugu turned and walked out.
Maiya, who had been standing and waiting outside, couldn’t help but draw a sharp breath when she saw Kiritsugu coming out of the underground storeroom. Of course, she did not know the true meaning of the Noble Phantasm shining with light in Kiritsugu’s hands. Actually, what surprised Maiya was the change in Kiritsugu himself.
“We’ll go finish Rider’s Master today. Saber has already left, right?”
“… Yes. Just this morning, not too long ago before you came here.”
“Very good – Maiya, I’ll keep entrusting the job of protecting Irisviel to you.”
“Yes, sir… Hmm, Kiritsugu?”
Just as Kiritsugu was about to walk out of the door, Maiya stopped him in a dazed voice.
Maiya stared for a moment at the eyes that turned to her, then made a small sigh and said after lowering her head.
“It’s finally back. The expression that you had back then.”
After a low reply, Kiritsugu continued walking outside without once turning back.
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