Fate/Zero:Act 16 Part 7
Now, pain had become everything to Kariya.
Whether it was the human called Matō Kariya that could feel pain, or that the concept of pain had been stuck into the body of this trash that was called Kariya—there was no longer any difference between the two. He felt that none of this mattered any more.
Which part of him hurt for what reason, why he had to experience this sort of torment—he had never known these causes and effects.
It hurt to breathe. It hurt for his heart to beat. It hurt to think. It hurt to remember.
There was nowhere to run, nothing that could be done. It seemed that he had felt like this before, but he could not remember. Perhaps he had already given up on himself.
The worms were crying within his body. The worms were writhing their bodies in pain. The culprit of his torment was at this moment also making its final struggle.
Berserker. It must be because of that resentful black spirit. At this moment Berserker was fighting; because the prana he required far exceeded that which his Master could provide, he had gone beyond control. The worms were suffering because they had been drained of too much prana, and so they tore at Kariya’s internal organs, ceaselessly struggling.
But that could not be helped; there was no other way.
Berserker must fight—that was what that priest had said. Kariya no longer remembered his name—but they had both made an agreement; he had agreed to let Kariya have the Grail, therefore Berserker must fight.
The Grail—at this moment only it meant everything to Kariya.
As long as he had the Grail, the war could end. As long as he had the Grail, Sakura could be saved.
There seemed to be something else, but remembering was really too painful. Those must be things outside the range of his thoughts.
Kariya did not even know what this place was. At first he had been in icy darkness, but now he felt a strange heat, and even breathing was difficult. He thought he smelled something burning; perhaps it was his own body that had been burned, but that didn’t matter. In any case his body could not move; what was most important now was Berserker’s fight—and— saving Sakura.
Sakura—ah, he would really like to see her one more time. He would really like to see that child.
But not Rin; he couldn’t see her. He mustn’t see her—no, but why was that, again?
Even thinking made him feel pain. His brain, his consciousness and his soul were all being crushed.
There was something strange. It seemed that something important had happened. Something was wrong.
Though he had become aware that something was different, Kariya’s thoughts were quickly caught up once again in endless torment.
There was only pain. And suffering—
For the countless time, she was thrown into the air.
For the countless time, she was effortlessly beaten to the ground. Saber had given up counting, because she could no longer remember.
The strongest sword-wielding Servant? Who had fabricated this? —Now she was like a small boat in a storm. Facing Berserker’s waving black sword, she could only give up resistance and suffer the attack; she could not even make a single decent retaliatory blow. She did not even feel indignant at this. Her heart, immersed in hopelessness, had long since become devoid of all fighting spirit. She was no longer the heroic King of Knights that was named the incarnation of the dragon. This was truly too tragic; it made one sigh.
She should be going to save Irisviel; they had made a vow to hold up the Grail together. She could not lower her head now; she knew this clearly in her heart.
But she could not win. Facing that man, that sword, there was no way to obtain victory.
'Arondight • The Indestructible Light of the Lake’—the counterpart to King Arthur’s ‘Sword of Promised Victory’, the most precious of swords that had been obtained by men from the fairy lands.
That sword had been dyed pitch-black; the prana from his body, filled with resentment, had caused the sword by his side to also fall to become the sword of a mad warrior.
He had been the unrivalled ‘perfect knight’ admired by the masses; he had been a flower that bloomed on the precipitous peak of the way of the knight. His form and his actions had once been the greatest treasure of all who had the ambition of becoming a knight.
And yet he had committed himself to madness. Hatred roiled within the red eyes; at the same time he gave out an animalistic howl.
He roared, I hate you.
He roared, I curse you.
Exactly how was she to avoid the sword that he brandished downward full of hatred?
She could not look at him directly. Her sight blurred in tears, her legs buckled down weakly. At this moment, all Saber could do with all her strength was to protect her body before suffering the fatal impact.
Sir Lancelot, Knight of the Lake.
Now that she thought of it, the clues to his identity were everywhere.
Once he had hidden his name for the sake of a friend’s honor, disguising himself to enter a horse race. Even though he had fallen into a trap, and faced the enemy’s sharp blades with only his bare hands, he had won the victory with his skilled fighting prowess using only an elm branch.
But even though she noticed, Saber would definitely not admit it. That he who had been the subject of people’s admiration would be reduced to a Berserker—how could he be that ‘Knight of the Lake’?
Saber had once believed that they were friends. Even if their armies had clashed because of some unavoidable reasons, their hearts were nevertheless still the same. One was a subject that upheld the way of the knight, the other, a king who upheld the way of the knight.
But was this sort of partnership also only a naïve fantasy of her own?
He had never forgiven, never accepted. Even after his death, he had still cursed with resentment that ending, that tragic fate.
Lancelot and Guinevere had loved each other—yet Arturia had not seen this inescapably unrighteous action as a betrayal; this had all happened because the King had concealed her gender. The one who had to carry the burden of this conflict all her life was Guinevere.
Arturia had understood the severity of this sacrifice, and expressed thankfulness to her (2). There was also guilt in it. But for Lancelot who had fallen in love with her, she had even felt relief. This person who had the same ideals as the King would not cause the country to fall into a dangerous situation; she believed that he would share the burden with her. And in truth, he had indeed done so. Though he had fallen into the dilemma of having stepped onto an unrighteous path, he had supported Guinevere from the dark, supported the King.
That he had been exposed like a piece of ugly news, causing the two to have to stand opposed, was the single-handed plan of the traitors who hated Camelot. Because Lancelot could not sit and watch as the girl he loved was killed, Arturia could not but deal with him in the capacity of a king.
No one was wrong, but precisely because everyone was right, a tragedy had occurred.
In that case, Arturia had always fought upright with the status of a King to the very end.
Therefore, when facing the battlefield on the hill that had been dyed red with blood, she was able to argue with Heaven about the unfairness of fate.
If one carried out all the paths of striving for something, but could not obtain the right result, then it was definitely Heaven who was at fault.
In that case, she could only forever lift her head up high if the Grail that can fulfil miracles existed. Precisely because she believed — therefore she fought.
Before Arondight’s relentless attack, Saber’s holy sword gave out a groan. Her sword of light that promised victory—it had long since become meaningless, in the hands of its owner who had lost the will to fight. Berserker constantly rebuked Saber, who was unable to counterattack and could only defend. At this point he had already completely unleashed his true ability, and his skill with the sword was completely incomparable with his previous level. Even if Saber had been uninjured right now, she might not have been able to withstand that strong momentum.
But in the face of her opponent’s ferocious attack, and the sense of pain in her hands and legs that had long since become numb, Saber remained unmoved. The enemy’s strong prowess that was many times greater than her own, and his merciless attack, were gradually causing her spirit to crumble.
Ahah, my friend… Is this your true intention?
Do you despair thus at fate? Are you truly using hatred to curse the king and country that brought you despair?
Once we had embraced the same dream, and put our lives on the line for the sake of saving the country.
If there was no difference in our ambition, then why do you hate thus? Do you regret now?
—One cannot lead by salvation alone—
No. Tell me it is not like this.
Lancelot. Only you. I hope you can understand, because you truly are the people’s ideal knight.
I hope that you can nod in agreement that our methods are entirely correct…
—Abandoning the people who have lost their way, desiring to become a saint on one’s own—
Relying on the last of her reason, Saber blocked the black sword that fell heavily down; at the same time, she used all her strength to shout.
Within the sound of sobbing, her knees fell weakly to the ground.
She couldn’t move; she had reached her limit. There was no way to defend against the next attack.
Perhaps this was the only salvation.
Since he was thus unwilling, thus filled with hatred—in that case, apart from using her body to receive the sharp sword that he swung, there was no other method of recompense.
At the exact moment that Saber decided to completely abandon resistance—suddenly, Berserker stopped moving.
Saber and Berserker could not have known that about ten seconds ago, the Crest Worms within the body of Kariya — who was hiding in the equipment room of the underground parking area – had ceased their activity. In order to sustain Berserker in the physical reality, the prana in Kariya’s body — which had already been in short supply — was absorbed in great amounts, and this need for prana was multiplied manifold when the final Noble Phantasm was unleashed. Finally, the Crest Worms were exhausted by their too-heavy burden.
And the backup prana, that could originally have sustained the Servant in physical form for several hours in the circumstance that the Master was not around, had also been consumed completely in ten seconds due to Berserker’s outburst (1). In this instant, the prana that drove this killing machine suddenly dried up, causing Berserker to come to an emergency halt as if having malfunctioned.
In the abrupt silence, Saber’s hand could clearly feel Berserker’s gradually fading heartbeat. The hilt of her sword tightly gripped in her hand, the sharp blade of her beloved sword pierced the black armor.
This ending was truly too ironic; who could have foreseen it?
In this fleeting instant, the victory had been decided; a slight feeling of greed made Saber ashamed of herself, and she could not but shed tears.
She knew that she should not have killed him, but had nevertheless struck a killing blow on this person that should not have been killed. Now Saber was only a prisoner to an idea—just like Diarmuid had rebuked her at the last moment, she who had stepped over countless corpses desired only the miracles of the wish-granting machine. This was the truest face of Saber in this moment.
"Even thus, I still want the Grail.”
Tears fell onto trembling gauntlets, mingling with the blood of Berserker which had slid down the blade.
"If I do not do this, my friend… If I do not do this, then I will be unable to give you any sort of recompense at all.”
"—Saddening indeed. Things have come to this, and you still make excuses to fight?”
A voice that inspired nostalgia.
She raised her head to look across. The knight’s gaze was just as it was before, calm as the tranquil surface of a lake as he looked upon the King’s tear-stained face. Having discarded the contract with his Master, in the time before he vanished, he had been released from the spell of madness.
"Yes… Thank you. Perhaps, this is the only way I can convey my longing.”
Looking upon the sword that pierced his body with a gaze filled with compassion, Lancelot smiled wryly as he continued to speak.
"Actually… at that time I had hoped that you would personally punish me. My King… At that time I really wished that you would denounce me out of your own anger…”
The traitor knight, Lancelot who was called the culprit of the split of the Round Table — thus he spoke with sorrow to his only friend, who had never blamed him even until the very end.
"If I could have been punished by you… If you had demanded recompense from me… Then I would definitely believe in redemption… I would definitely believe that one day I can find a way to forgive myself. … The Queen is probably the same…”
This was—the regret of one man and one woman. They embraced the same ideal as the King, but because they had been too weak, they had not been able to carry this ideal through.
And these two people had, even in death, not been able to obtain salvation. They had blamed themselves deeply for having betrayed a most important person, and the burden of this self-blame they had carried for a lifetime.
Pain such as this—to whom could it have been told? Exactly what kind of admonishment, and dealt to whom, could have given them respite?
Sighing deeply, Lancelot relaxed his body, falling into the embrace of the King. The body in her arms was very light; Saber could not but feel a lump in her throat. The Servant’s gradually fading body seemed to be almost weightless.
"Even though it is in this way, in the end I still did borrow your chest…”
As if dreaming during a nap, the Knight of the Lake quietly whispered and sighed.
"To die in the King’s arms, before the King’s eyes… haha, like this it is really… as if I am a loyal knight…”
"You - shouldn't say that - "
Saber anxiously answered. Before he disappeared, there was something that she needed to tell him. She hoped that he would understand.
Not ‘as if’. It was ‘indeed is’.
She wanted to tell him, you are a loyal knight. No one knows better than I—the sincerity you devoted to the country, to the King.
So there was no more need for self-reproach. Even if it had been a mistake that was not allowed to be made—your character is not something that can be overturned by a single mistake.
I don’t want to shame you; I don’t want to lose you. Precisely because I have this wish, I can truly deny this so-called crime that you have committed.
These were Arturia’s true thoughts, but—could not become that knight’s salvation.
The knight closed his eyes as if sleeping soundly; his body was gradually dissipating. Saber saw that he was about to vanish, but nevertheless could not think of what would be the right thing to say.
"Lancelot, actually you…!”
You are not a sinner—but what significance would such words still hold for him?
Even if someone denied his crime, the one most caught up in this wrongdoing was not anyone else, but Lancelot himself.
Why had she been unaware of this lonely thought of his? Why had she been unable to release the noble spirit of this knight from a self-reproach that bordered on madness?
—A King will not understand someone else’s feelings—
These words that she had heard as she left the Round Table—who had spoken them?
The knight’s dead body did not say anything more; alongside the last remaining light, he vanished.
"—wait… wait… Lance—“
Staring at the crook of her arm that had lost its weight and was now empty, Saber began sobbing.
She could not even make a sound. She did not allow herself to make even the slightest sound. In the last moment that she had been facing a loyal knight, she had actually been unable to say even a word of reassurance—then what right had she to cry now?
A King can only be lonely and proud—
This she had said to herself; as she searched for the path to her kingdom’s salvation, exactly how many people’s opinions and troubles had she neglected?
Gawain who had heroically sacrificed himself, Galahad who had lost his life in the line of duty—what did they think of, in their last moment? Did they leave this world with the same regret and unwillingness? Why was she so certain that that was not true?
Saber cried soundlessly, tormented as if countless thorns were piercing her heart.
Could it be that she as a King should never have been high above—
If things had been thus, would it not have brought about a broken end? Could everyone be saved?
"... It isn’t finished.”
From her sobbing throat—that was the determined voice of a constantly victorious King.
"It can be compensated for… It’s not too late… I still have the Grail. I still have the miracle that can overturn fate…”
Leaning upon the sword of victory, Saber stood up.
Even if she was unable to listen to the hearts of people, even if she was rebuked for being a proud and aloof King—none of that mattered at all.
Even thus, as long as she could win the victory for her homeland and her subjects with her own hands, it would be enough—this was what she asked of herself, what she must do as a ‘King’.
As long as she could obtain the Grail, everything could be made up for; all the previous mistakes could be righted.
Now this belief was everything to Saber who had chosen the path of the King.
Covered with wounds, Saber stepped forward.
|Back to Act 16, Part 6||Return to Main Page||Forward to Act 16, Part 8|