Fate/Zero:Act 3 Part 4
After receiving the signal sent by Irisviel, Emiya Kiritsugu and Hisau Maiya raced towards the factories according to its direction. They were welcomed by a soundless stretch of silence.
There was only the howling of the sea wind by their ears, and an atmosphere as quiet and stagnant as death. The night was so serene.
“…It has already begun.”
Just by the traces of prana from the surroundings, Kiritsugu was able to accurately judge the situation.
Someone had formed a barrier. It should be the work of the enemy Servant’s Master. The goal was to segregate ordinary humans from the Heaven’s Feel, concealing the true battlefield of the war. It is a compulsory rule for magi to prevent their activities from being exposed to other mortals.
Kiritsugu began to contemplate as he held the ten-or-so kilograms heavy sniper rifle. He had already estimated Irisviel’s position according to the transmitter. However, questions remain as to how to approach the location, and where to observe once they reach it.
He did not think about joining the battle at all; that was why he brought the sniper rifle along. He wanted to inspect the battle at a suitable place, attacking with the rifle only when needed. Servants are not humans, thus only a Servant can wound another Servant. No matter how powerful Kiritsugu and Maiya’s firearms are they would not work on Servants. It was Saber’s job to battle the opposing Servant. As long as the enemy can devote himself to the battle and does not pay attention to the well-being of his Master, then it is possible to win this fight.
“Up there, that looks like that’s a good place to observe the fight.”
Maiya pointed in front of them as she spoke. It is a derrick crane that towered high into the night. Judging by sight, the control cabin hovered about 30 meters above the ground; it would be the best observation point possible if one can contrive to silently climb up there.
Kiritsugu had no objections to Maiya’s suggestion, but because of that, he shook his head.
“Yes, that is the ideal place to survey the battle. So it shouldn’t be only us that came up with the idea.”
Without further explanations on Kiritsugu’s part, Maiya had already understood his intentions.
“Maiya, slip in through the eastern bank, I’ll go through the west… Find an observation point that can overlook both Saber’s battle and the crane.”
Maiya disappeared in the shadows of the factories with a jog, holding the AUG assault gun in her hands. Kiristugu checked the input from the transmitter as he cautiously moved in the opposite direction.
All Irisviel could do was to stare at the battle in front of her in astonishment.
This battle in front of her was proceeding with extraordinary intensity.
She knew it to be a merciless duel that could only have taken place in that remote era.
Warriors clad in armor, in single combat battling with all the strength in their bodies amid the light reflecting off sword and spear and the shadow of swinging blades.
But the amount of escaping prana and the intense heat were different.
If it was merely a clash between cold steel, what would be the mighty torrent of air that accompanied it and threatened to destroy all within sight?
The foot that landed crushed the ground.
The wind that followed the swinging of weapons crudely severed the lamp post in half.
Irisviel could no longer see the movements carried out at such high speeds. She was only feeling the after-shock of the conflict between the two.
The peeling sheet iron on the outer walls of the warehouses was ripped away by the wind from Irisviel’s side as if it was a piece of coiled tin foil. She could not comprehend how the iron can be torn away. Perhaps it was Saber’s sword or Lancer’s spear that brushed against its adjacent hollow space. Apart from that, she could not come up with any other explanation.
The wind was moaning.
Faced with a dimension that is completely at odds with the physical laws of this world, the air emitted paranoid wails.
A chaotic storm raged on the empty shopping street, destroying, trampling all things within.
Just hand-to-hand combat between the two would be enough to ruin an entire street.
Heaven’s Feel —
Irisviel was experiencing the awe and wonder told only in stories. The world where myths and legends dwelled came alive vividly before her eyes.
This could be the legends reborn.
Shafts of thunder tore the sky apart, knolls of roaring waves shattered the earth. The imaginary realm was miraculously materialized with astonishing clarity.
This is… the war between Servants…
Faced with a world that she had hitherto not thought possible, all Irisviel could do was stare as if transfixed.
At the same time, Saber was experiencing a similar wonder.
Slaughter at war was truly a piece of cake for her. As a knight that braved her life through countless battles, she fought with her enemies as smoothly as she would yield a knife and a fork.
In her comprehension a ‘spear’ should be a weapon that is wielded with both hands. It is common knowledge.
So she thought that for Lancer, using two spears is just a means to confuse the enemy.
As the Heroic Spirit of the Lance, the spear in his hands should be his Noble Phantasm. Whereas, revealing the true name of the Noble Phantasm in the Heaven’s Feel equates to exposing one’s true identity.
Therefore, the amulets bound onto Lancer’s spears must be for the purpose of concealing the spear’s real name. Looks like his Master and him were very prudent on the matter of hiding identities.
If that was the case, it would not be hard to explain why he was using two spears.
Because Saber does not know which spear is the true Noble Phantasm, she had to fend off the attacks made by both of them.
Even so, the long spear on the right, the short spear on the left — one of them must be Lancer's 'true weapon.'
Between one’s habitual weapon and the weapon used to dazzle the enemy, ‘feint' and ‘solid’ moves can be distinguished. So Saber paid close attention to each of his attacks. She believed that if she can recognise the true lance, her chances of winning would be improved immensely.
Her own attack was deflected for the third time. Saber had to step back to wait for a better opportunity.
“What’s wrong, Saber? Your attacks are not really working.”
She could not argue back to Lancer’s taunts. After about thirty exchanges, she still had not managed to hit her opponent even once.
Lancer swung the lance in his right hand and approached her in a straight run. The swinging shaft covered a wide area, its strength and speed equal to what would be achieved with both hands. No, precisely because it was used with one hand, there were many moves not capable when a spear is used conventionally with two hands. The lance was thrust towards Saber from an unexpected angle.
Nevertheless a lance has its own limitations. Because of its extended length, a gap would inevitably show up between two attacks. During that time, the shorter spear from the left can follow in and continue to hassle Saber.
Saber’s attack just then was broken by the short spear’s immaculate defence.
Simultaneously using two lances, yet making no feint moves. This Heroic Spirit, Lancer, merged the lances in his left and right hands in a seamless choreography. Just what kind of devotion and practice was needed to obtain such a strong fighting style?
… This man is good!
Saber was still quivering with having a strong opponent in her first battle until then. But now Saber had suddenly escaped from that shadow of fear.
Despite that, according to observers, Lancer would appear to have an advantage with his incessant attacks, the truth was not so.
Lancer was as good as exhausted from fending off Saber’s attacks since they first engaged. Despite his taunts he was also powerless to change the situation.
For Lancer, who is capable of using his lance with just one hand, dual-wielding two spears, long and short, at the same time would enable him to attack both long-range and close-range. Taking account of the supremacy in weaponry, he should not have been forced into his current predicament by Saber and her single sword.
How did the sword…
Lancer complained silently in his heart. It was not only the observing Irisviel that could not see the movement of the high-speed sword. Even Lancer, a Servant himself, could not discern the trajectory of the sword in Saber’s hands.
Lancer had no way of knowing. This too is one of Heroic Spirit Artoria's Noble Phantasms, the threat of Invisible Air • Barrier of the Wind King.
The air surrounding the sword was compacted together with immense amounts of prana, creating impossible refractions of light, rendering the sword invisible. Although it is not too much a support for the Noble Phantasm, its result was however very obvious in melee combat.
Saber’s opponent is attacked with an invisible sword, and the countering attack is similarly blocked by an invisible sword. Lancer’s worry was understandable. Even though he could decipher Saber’s attacks by her movement, he could not make surprise attacks on her due to the inability to see the length of her blade.
Therefore Lancer can only approximate things and keep himself outside of Saber’s range. Also, only then can his magnificent continuous attacks be used to their full extent. Despite him being able to block all of Saber’s attacks, he had yet to find an opportunity to deal her a lethal blow.
This woman, is quite good…!
Facing the enemy that he had just met, knowing the time had come for him fight with his life, a sad smile emerged on Lancer’s face.
The two Heroic Spirits devoted their entire selves to the fight, sparing no thoughts to the world surrounding them.
No, even if they had stayed on guard, in their current state they might still be oblivious to the fact that someone was slipping into the terrain...
The reason was that, not only is the newcomer a considerable distance from the sparks flying off the deadly dance of blade and spear, he moved soundlessly in the shadows, and also had the ability of "Presence Concealment" that can bypass a Servant’s detection.
A gust of wind from the sea fluttered the black robe; the sliver of a satisfactory smile emerged on the countenance beneath the white skull mask.
No one could have thought that the Servant "Assassin," eliminated in front of many witnesses last night, now stood in the evening shopping street.
Assassin hid in the perfect spot to observe the straightforward battle — the crane that loomed beside the cliff. The location was about 500 meters away from the site of the skirmish. As a Servant with eyesight surpassing that of a human he could clearly discern the two’s conflict, even spotting their expressions with accuracy. Meanwhile, the two combatants barely had time to consider if they were being spied upon.
He could have remained in spiritual form and obtain information from a much closer distance. But while he is in spiritual form, his senses would have turned into spiritual detection; and the job that his Master gave him tonight was to ‘observe with your eyes.'
Assassin, who understood his Master’s intentions, silently gazed at the battle in the distance according to his order.
Fifteen kilometers away from the warehouse area where the deadly struggle continued.
Someone was sitting in the darkness within the basement of the Fuyuki Church, encased by the silence of the night.
While his eyes were closed, he was not resting but sitting in silence with his nerves on edge. The jet-black figure was Kotomine Kirei's priest's frock.
From his profile, one might think that he was contemplating about certain matters. Who would have thought that he was listening to the crooning of the sea breeze, and seeing before his eyes a battle scene full of the sparks from the clashing of steel.
What he was seeing and hearing was an unknown battle between Servants taking place in the distant warehouses… the contents identical to those seen by his Servant Assassin.
He was using the result of his past three years of study. An ability called Shared Perception that was taught to him by Tōsaka Tokiomi.
Using only a prana connection, he was able to share senses with the one that made a contract with him. In the Heaven's Feel, the ability to completely monitor a Servant's actions from long-distance is very useful. If one's Servant is Assassin, who is especially skilled in reconnaissance, then the ability is peerless.
The only difficulty lies in that if the contractor does not agree to it, the ability can not be used. For Tokiomi, who taught this magecraft to Kirei himself, his suggestions were immediately rejected by Archer. For the haughty King of Heroes, even if it were his Master, to allow another to look through his eyes seems highly unlikely.
Therefore, the only ones who can achieve this are Kirei and Assassin.
“— Something is happening around the warehouses beside the estuary of the Mion River. It appears that the initial battle has begun.”
Kirei spoke, but there is no one in the darkness. Instead, there was an aged phonograph upon a table, its brass horn tilted towards Kirei. As was expected, the ordinary antique phonograph replied to his words in a human voice.
“Not the initial; officially, it is the 'second' battle, Kirei.”
Although the sound was rather distorted, the unconstrained tone filled with composure could only be the voice of Tōsaka Tokiomi.
A closer inspection of this antiquity showed that, while it could be mistaken for a phonograph with an old-style bell-type horn, beneath the apparatus there was neither a turntable nor stylus. In its place, the end of the horn was connected to a large jewel with a metal wire.
This contraption is a prana conductor that is passed down in the Tōsaka family, and which Tokiomi lent to Kirei. A similar prana conductor was placed in the workshop of the Tōsaka residence. It appears that Tokiomi was also currently sitting in front of the device. Through sympathetic vibration the jewels on the two contraptions can pass to each other the vibrations of the air inside their horns. This is the Tōsaka family using the ‘communication device’ of their jewel magecraft.
As soon as the Church of Fuyuki was put into Father Kotomine Risei’s hands, Tokiomi had placed the jewel communicator into the church. Father Risei was Tokiomi’s secret supporter, while his son Kotomine Kirei was sent into the Church for protection in the beginning of the Heaven’s Feel as the first person to be defeated. Logically, Tokiomi’s goal was to communicate discreetly with these two people.
Everything appeared to be completely normal on the outside; no one would think that Kirei could manage to contact the outside world. At the same time Kirei, who was not a magus, also thought that rather than using this strange machine, radios might just as well do the trick.
But the difference between radios and Tōsaka’s jewel communicator is that conversations on the latter cannot be eavesdropped. Upon consideration, Tokiomi’s prudent behaviour was actually more beneficial for Kirei.
No matter what, right now Assassin and Kirei have replaced Archer as Tokiomi’s scouts. Kirei used his own eyes to see what Assassin sees, and also employed the clairvoyance that came with being a Master to capture every minute detail.
“It... appears to be a battle between Saber and Lancer. The level of Saber's abilities is extremely high, mostly likely with the majority of parameters near A rank.”
“… I see. No wonder it is the strongest class. Can you see the Master?”
“I can only see one more person… a silver-haired woman standing behind Saber.”
“Hm… seems that Lancer’s Master knows he should conceal himself. Not an amateur; he understands the rule of this Heaven’s Feel… Wait, did you say Saber’s Master is a silver-haired woman?”
“Yes. A young Caucasian girl. Silver-haired with red eyes; doesn’t look quite human.”
The other side of the brass horn seemed to be silently contemplating.
“… An Einzbern homunculus? Could it be that they are still making homunculi Masters… though it is not impossible…”
“Are you saying, this woman is the Master of the Einzberns?”
“So Jubstacheit’s pawns are not just limited to Emiya Kiritsugu… It’s hard to believe that I actually predicted it wrong.”
For the first time in his life a curious agitation surged up in Kirei’s chest; within moments he realized that it was actually the emotion named disappointment.
“All in all, that woman is the key to grasping the flow of the Heaven's Feel. Kirei, you must pay close attention.”
“… I understand. I’ll send someone to follow her at all times.”
Immediately after receiving those mysterious words, Kirei continued to watch the two Heroic Spirits intently.
But be it the sparkling collision of blades or the leaping prana bursts, in Kirei’s eyes they were no longer as bright as they seemed moments ago.
Kiritsugu silently set up the Walther on the mountainous shipping containers piled on the container port beside the seaside cliffs. He took in the situation of the fight using the electronic sights that penetrated the cover of night.
Firstly, the thermographic scope… he spotted it. On the screen that displayed cool shades of black and blue, red and orange images emerged conspicuously. The heat diagram representing the two of them fused together, as if it was a giant flare.
Further in the distance two smaller heat patterns appeared. One of them was standing in the middle of the street witnessing this battle — the other was concealed on the warehouse roofs of a remoter locale.
It was very easy to decide which one of them was to be the target of assassination.
It was indeed Irisviel who stood on the road. She was almost stating that, as the partner of an excellent Saber, she should not hide away but fight a fair battle bravely and in the open. Then the heat signature on the roof would be the enemy Master… the one controlling Lancer, who was facing Kiritsugu's Saber with dual spears.
Submerged in the darkness, Kiritsugu donned a coldhearted smile. It was the best starting condition he could hope for. Lancer's Master probably relied on illusions or such presence-concealing magecraft to hide his position and thought it enough; he did not consider that this would be countered with mechanical cameras. Like all other magi who died by Kiritsugu’s hand, he would walk the same road as them to his destruction.
Kiritsugu contacted Maiya, positioned on the other side of the battlefield, with his radio.
“Maiya, Lancer’s Master is hiding on top of the warehouses, northeast to where Saber is. Can you see him?”
“… No. From my position it’s a blind spot.”
If possible, Kiritsugu wanted to cooperate with Maiya to ensure the accuracy of the attack with a crossfire. Unfortunately, only Kiritsugu himself can fire at the moment. But it would not be a problem as it was a distance of barely three hundred meters. Kiritsugu’s skills would have taken his target’s life with just one bullet. As long as he remains unaware of the presence of the sniper, no magus can defend himself from a .300 Winchester Magnum round.
Setting up the bipod, Kiritsugu had just started to get into the mood — Suddenly, with a start, he turned the Walther towards the derrick crane.
In that moment he felt that all his plans were ruined.
Keeping his disapproval inside his heart, he whispered into the radio again.
“Maiya, up on the crane…”
“… Yes, affirmative here as well; it’s just like what you thought.”
It seems that the figure seen by Kiritsugu through the night vision scope was captured in the scope of Maiya’s AUG assault rifle as well.
Meanwhile, the third party that was scrutinizing the battle between Saber and Lancer also discovered the silhouette atop the crane.
It was a completely unpredicted event. In the Holy Grail War, one would logically rather stay on the sidelines than to eagerly join in the battle. A clever Master would not step in even if other Servants jump into the fray, but would choose to keep on observing a fight. Picking on the aftermath of a conflict would also be quite a good idea. Even if one is not that fortunate, it would at least get one to know about the enemy’s conditions.
Kiritsugu, who arrived first at the battle scene, never thought that this fight would have only one team of observers. He had therefore given up the best position on the crane and chose a place that can pay attention to both it and the battlefield. The newcomer appeared to be oblivious to the fact that his location was already under surveillance, and occupied the ideal spot to observe the fight. Consequentially, he was exposed to Kiritsugu’s line of sight.
However, one important factor escaped his calculations.
Kiritsugu once again gazed upon the pale green shape within the scope. It was an observer that he had never seen before… Completely covered by a pure black robe, a skull mask over his face. Though hard to believe, it is definitely Assassin, the one who was annihilated last night at the Tōsaka residence.
Kiritsugu, who wasn't satisfied by the images recorded by Maiya's familiars, was not entirely surprised by the reappearance of the supposedly-dead Assassin. The problem, putting aside the strangeness of the situation, was that the one currently on top of the derrick crane is a Servant.
If Kiritsugu sniped Lancer's Master now, the opponent would be dead instantly, but at the same time it would also exposed the shooter’s location. Although Assassin is not a class with decisive combat strength, he is nevertheless a supernatural being, a Servant. As a magus Kiritsugu would never manage to win in such a fight.
He could not expect Saber to help him. In regard to the distance between Saber and he, Assassin was far closer to him. Besides, Saber was not even aware that Kiritsugu was at the scene; he can not hope for her to come to his aid.
Saber was also devoted to the battle with Lancer. Even though a Servant would lose his prana supply when his Master is killed, the Servant can still remain materialized in this plane with his own strength. Defeating Lancer’s Master does not mean that he had defeated Lancer.
There was only one thing left — the Command Seals.
The authority of the Command Seals is not limited to the scope of the powers of the Servant. When the Servant agrees with the Master's order without resistance, the Command Seal can have effects outside of the Servant's potential and accomplish a miracle. It would not be impossible to instantly transport Saber to Kiritsugu's location to hold off Assassin. But that would leave the defenseless Irisviel directly in front of Lancer.
— Kiritsugu thought, incessantly, combining many elements and finally came to a conclusion. Although it was the ideal opportunity to finish off Lancer’s Master, it would have to pass for the night.
Since that was decided, it would not do to have doubts on anything else.
“Maiya, you keep an eye on Assassin, I’ll observe Lancer.”
Kiritsugu sighed soundlessly, lowered the bipod of the Walther, and continued to calmly observe the scene within the scope.
Since he had decided to abandon this opportunity, Saber’s effort tonight was as good as wasted. If she could restrain from showing her Noble Phantasm, or to escape immediately with Irisviel, then he would have to extend his thanks to her — But she was a haughty and proud Heroic Spirit, and those possibilities were only his conjectures.
However, it would not be a bad idea to see just once how capable his subordinate actually is.
“… That will depend on you, my lovely King of Knights".
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