Fate/Zero:Act 15 Part 2
People remembered that day in Fuyuki city to be one of abnormal weather conditions.
Unbelievably, the daily north wind suddenly ceased, and intense, midsummer-like sunlight scorched the seemingly stagnant air, resulting in an unseasonable heat haze everywhere. Bafflingly high temperatures and humidity – inexplicable even to weather forecasters – occurred over a very limited region with Fuyuki city at its center, further fueling the premonitions first felt by the clueless townspeople when strange things had first begun to happen.
The guerrilla incidents happening one after another in the city; the bizarre, appalling murderers; the disappearance of infants – not a single clue could be found towards a solution. There was no sign of the night curfew being lifted, and worse still, there had been the incident of the waste processing plant on the Mion River the day before yesterday. With these constantly bizarre incidents grating the nerves of the exhausted people, they could not help but feel that this peculiar weather was an omen of more calamities yet to occur.
Sitting wide awake in the shade of a tree, Emiya Kiritsugu watched as the angle of his shadow slowly changed with the blazing sunlight.
More than 40 hours had elapsed since he last slept, but his senses were still tense, never desiring rest.
Because he was in a dangerous situation, he had to time his breaks well and maintain a condition at which he could deal with things perfectly in crucial times – this was his experience as a professional fighter. Because the forewarning boundary field was already in place in key positions, when someone approached him he could instantly wake up. If he was in standby mode now, he could enter REM sleep within a few seconds, possibly dealing with his accumulated fatigue as well.
However, at this moment, Kiritsugu did not even spare a thought about such established caution. To cut off his feelings and maintain his very best condition was also one of his “mechanisms”, but under the state of being prepared to be scorched, he was able to surpass his limits and overdrive himself – this was another “mechanism”. The thing able to convert himself to such operational state was none other than the premonition of “settling the score” he felt under his skin.
Right now, the thing Kiritsugu was anticipating for was by the side of the pond in the back of Ryūdō Temple, which was situated along the mountainside of Mount Enzō, east of Miyama town of Fuyuki city.
After confirming Tokiomi’s fallout and Kotomine Kirei’s comeback at the Tohsaka residence yesterday night, Kiritsugu launched an assault on the Shinto church immediately, but that which was supposed to be his headquarters was already empty. There were signs of humans being there about an hour before, so it was possibly a paper-thin miss. The delays during the invasions of the Matou residence and Tohsaka residence had cost him precious time.
At that point, Kiritsugu had completely abandoned his search for Irisviel. That’s because he came to the conclusion that if he continued to be attached to her, he would fall all the more into the enemy’s trap. If he wanted to have any chance of winning, Kiritsugu had no choice but to enter into battles not as a husband who lost his wife, but as a Master seeking the Holy Grail.
By relinquishing the “Holy Grail vessel” – the trump card of the Einzberns – Kiritsugu now had to participate in the Holy Grail war with terms similar to that of outsider Masters (not from the three origin families). The strategy of luring the enemy to make mistakes whilst utilizing his superiority and overlooking his defense was no longer viable; he now had to seek ambush opportunities to outsmart his leading rivals. Thinking about it, what made the strategy of jumping ahead of his opponents effective was that he could, from this point onwards, fortify his position – which was to look beyond the final stage of the battle – and to set up traps about it.
From the outside, the War of the Holy Grail was mending its image as a battle royale, but as the war progressed, it began to show signs of it being a battle of occupying each other’s camps. The ultimate goal was to hold the ceremony for the descent of the Holy Grail; but to secure a proper place for the altar was part of the victor’s path which could not be avoided.
In Fuyuki, there were only four points in the land containing the suitable spiritual ground to summon the Holy Grail.
The first key place was Mount Enzō which held the natural cavern, the “Dragon’s Hole”. At that place, the “Greater Holy Grail” – which used Justicia as a foundation – was located. It was a secret altar known only to the three origin families, their favorite ever since it was prepared 180 years ago.
The Tohsaka family – which provided the ground – had the right to use the best spiritual leyline as their base. However, the prana overflowing from Mount Enzō was too powerful, and too dangerous to be used as a living ground to bring up the next generation of magi. Hence, they set up their stronghold at the next best spiritual leyline – the Tohsaka residence of today. Though inferior to the Greater Holy Grail, this place was sustained by sufficient spiritual power to summon the Holy Grail.
The Makiri were assigned to a ground when they migrated here, but because they realized that the spiritual aura of the ground was not suitable for the family’s element, they shifted their base, the Matou residence, to a different place. The original spiritual leyline was protected by the Holy Church who intervened later. Today, it was at the top of the hill on which Fuyuki Church was built – that was the third spiritual leyline. Far away from Mount Enzō, it was located at the outskirts of Shinto, which was at the opposite side of the river – however, it was not much inferior to the second best spiritual ground.
The fourth spiritual leyline did not exist in this ground originally – because of spiritual processing by the other three spiritual leylines, the flow of mana subtly induced an anomaly; forming a gathering spot after 100 odd years, which appeared at a certain location as a result of it. It could also be called a subsequent spiritual ground. Through subsequent investigations, the fact that it was sufficiently furnished with spiritual grounds to carry out the ceremony, was confirmed; and during the third Holy Grail War, it was marked as a candidate site. Today, this place was located at the centre of the developing residential area of Shinto. Nevertheless, there was a problem with it, in that a council meeting hall was just built recently on that spot.
Even if Kotomine Kirei had taken possession of the “vessel of the Holy Grail”, in the end, he had to perform the ceremony at one of these four key spiritual grounds. If Kiritsugu went to those places, set up traps and could ambush him, then there was a high chance of turning the tables around.
With Fuyuki Church left unoccupied, Kiritsugu unexpectedly landed in a good position of being able to secure the Tohsaka residence and the Fuyuki Church – the second and third best spiritual leylines. The silver lining of the cloud; in order to use this to his fullest advantage, all the way till morning, Kiritsugu planted explosives into the two buildings, making them into traps. And then, since noon, he had set up a new position at Ryūdō Temple, and was on the lookout all the time.
Kiritsugu anticipated that Kirei would probably choose Mount Enzō as the ceremonial place. His enemy had vanished from Fuyuki Church. Naturally there was also a possibility that his intention was to seclude himself from society, but for him to relinquish the spiritual leyline he had already secured in the first place, he would only want to perform the ceremony at the best spiritual ground – Kiritsugu thus conjectured. If he thought about it, after obliterating Tokiomi Tohsaka, his residence was also at Kirei’s disposal – but he had left that place readily, so what’s left was just the Greater Holy Grail at Mount Enzō.
Obviously, there was a non-zero possibility that all of these were just a bluff to mislead Kiritsugu, and that Kirei would return to Fuyuki Church or Tohsaka residence. However, because of that, Kiritsugu had already set traps so that if Kirei set foot in any of the buildings, he would not be able to return alive. After being bombed to death, if the “vessel of the Holy Grail” was still unharmed, then victory would easily be his – as for Irisviel’s life, Kiritsugu had already looked philosophically upon it as a loss.
If he were to further increase his chances of outwitting Kirei, he could not disregard the Fuyuki council hall – the fourth spiritual leyline. As for that place, Kiritsugu settled on placing a familiar there for the purpose of surveillance. After being confirmed as being a spiritual ground, the “ground of origin” was left just like that without any spell-like defense being set up around it. Compared with the other three ceremonial sites – which were “hard to attack and easy to defend” – the council hall was not a strategic position at all, from the view of magi battles.
Hypothetically speaking, if Kotomine Kirei were to appear at the city council hall, then Kiritsugu would carry out a full-front assault. It was of course the worst development, but the risk of such a thing happening was also the lowest. If he acted according to priorities, whether he was right or wrong, the place he had to seize no matter what was Mount Enzō.
If Maiya was not harmed, she would be able to secure the city council hall, and confront Kirei directly with her perfect preparations. But, it was futile to lament about it. At this point, he could only rely on himself.
Suddenly, Kiritsugu recalled those times after he had lost Natalia. Come to think of it, his experiences of independent action without joining anyone, was surprisingly little. To have felt that unexpectedly, was it because Kiritsugu was always the one surviving in the end?
Kiritsugu thought about it, and felt that he had led a life distantly connected to the word “alone”. It could also be called a life much crueler than being alone. There was always someone beside Kiritsugu. The one making excuses all this while for killing or causing the deaths of those “someones” was again, Kiritsugu.
Both Maiya and Irisviel were people he was destined to part with ever since he met them. Sure enough, as he thought, Kiritsugu was left on his own, trying to enter the final stage of the battle. To begin this way, and to end this way – this had to be Emiya Kiritsugu’s fate. Someone like him who had lost so many people – such absurdity was unforgivable.
–The boundary field established at the temple gates sensed the presence of something approaching. Kiritsugu cut off his disorganized emotions, held his Calico submachine gun in his hands, and stealthily examined the grounds. Nevertheless, his caution was not necessary. Kiritsugu already knew the prana waves which approached him.
Come to think of it, there was someone – who was the strongest reinforcement to him – that had not joined his side as an ally yet. At that fact, despite himself, Kiritsugu could not help but to be surprised and snigger. She was still alive. Though it was hard to decide that if this noble knight – which was not part of Kiritsugu’s tactics – joined him, whether she would be an “ally” or not.
Though hidden, a Servant could not be mistaken about her own Master’s whereabouts. Saber was not lost, and she had come all the way to the front of the treetop at which Kiritsugu was hiding himself, and had stopped within a distance from which they could talk, but outside the perimeter at which they could exchange blows – a delicate distance indeed. A distance too far for intimate words to be exchanged between them; that was also the distance separating the hearts of this Master and his Servant.
The slender figure in suit was as imposing as ever, but the exhaustion within her face could not be concealed. As a Heroic Spirit, physical fatigue was nothing to her; but the excessive exhaustion due to her worrying was a completely different matter. The commanding glint in her eyes during those times when she was waiting upon Irisviel, was evidently losing its force.
“ – Since yesterday night, I had been searching all over the streets for Irisviel. But, I still haven’t discovered anything……I’m very sorry.”
The Servant he did not think about and had left behind; Kiritsugu had no interest at all at how much time she had wasted within a night; and when he heard about her idle actions which were just as he expected, he could not even think of any words to answer her.
Even now Saber’s aim was still to “rescue Irisviel”.
From last midnight till this morning, within this time when Kiritsugu had steadily prepared the deathtraps for Kotomine Kirei, this Servant had probably sought Irisviel recklessly, and drove around in the city looking for her without even any hint of where she was.
Was that the willpower as a knight? The naively honest loyalty towards someone she had once served? …… Her actions were just a silly plan with no strategic planning whatsoever. But at the same time, it was also a stinging criticism towards Kiritsugu who had resigned to the death of his wife, and changed his strategies accordingly.
Needless to say, she did not come all the way to this place to mock him. Saber was just stopping by at Ryūdō temple as part of her search for Irisviel, and sensed the presence of her Master. But to have to see her again the second day, and having to once again face the difference between their principles and their actions, he could do nothing but to ascertain all the more the conflicting principles between both of them.
From the dim shadows of the tree, at that cold look from Kiritsugu, the dry premonition she felt within her heart returned. – Perhaps, even until the end of the war, she would not have the chance to respectably exchange a single word with her own Master.
“……Well then, I will continue the search for Irisviel. If there’s anything, summon me with the Command Spell like last time.”
After saying that, Saber returned to the temple grounds. Needless to say, she was neither called back, nor were there any words of appreciation before her departure.
From the viewpoint of the Holy Grail contest, Kiritsugu’s actions was the best plan – Even Saber herself understood that. Because of that, she could also decide without a doubt that it was safe to leave this place to him. She had no fear of leaving Kiritsugu alone. If the situation arose when the Servant was needed, the compelling force of the Command Spells could transcend even space and summon her to his side – she had already experienced that last night, and confirmed it.
Whilst descending the flight of stone steps connecting the temple gate to the ground below, Saber squinted her eyes in the unpleasantly blazing sun.
The enemies to be killed could not be found, and the location of the one she was to protect could not be ascertained…… what’s left was just her definite intuition, which told her that she could not afford to waste a single moment.
Not even knowing where to go, she was spurred on from the inside by the tingling impatience.
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