Fate/Zero:Act 4 Part 1
"...Damn it. This is bad."
Rider, who was standing on the arch of the Fuyuki Bridge overlooking the battle taking place in the warehouse district, muttered softly as he stood up.
"Wha, what is?"
Seeing the giant Servant display impatience for the first time, Waver became agitated, and he questioned Rider while clinging to the steel frame.
"Lancer brought out a decisive technique. Looks like he wants the match decided quickly."
"Wouldn't that be favorable for us?"
"Fool, what are you talking about?"
Rider stamped his heel on the steel frame he was standing on with a bang. For Waver, whose entire body was clinging to the frame, the tremor shook him to his very bones, and another shriek rose.
"I wanted to wait out on the battle's development before everyone arrives, but by the look of the current situation Saber's going to have a disadvantage, and it would be too late to attack by then."
"Too late? – Didn't you want to strike when they have all become exhausted from fighting each other?"
"...I think you have misunderstood something, boy."
Rider furrowed his brows and tilted his head downwards to look at the Master lying beside his feet, as if disappointed at the performance of a humorless clown.
"I did hope that other Servants would take up Lancer's bait. Isn't it obvious? Rather than picking them out one by one, it's far better to get them all together and have a great battle royale!"
Waver forgot to answer; he was shocked out of his wits in realising the differences between his understanding and that of the brave Heroic Spirit.
"Get them all together... a great battle royale?"
"Yes. It's such a rare opportunity to cross blades with the greatest heroes across all ages. If all six of them are here in completion, I won't let any one of them get away."
A fierce and dangerous growl as that of a lion seeped out of Rider's throat, but there was a tint of laughter as he tilted the ends of his lips upwards. Waver realized that only this man could wear a grin like that.
"Now then, Saber and Lancer. They both have the flaming spirit of true warriors. I admire them; it would be a pity to let them die like this."
"What else is there apart from killing them?! Isn't that the point of the Holy Grail Waaa-!"
Waver's slightly hysterical voice was mercilessly interrupted by a smack to his forehead.
"Victory without ruin, domination without disgrace. That is true conquest!"
Rider proclaimed, holding his chest upright; then he unsheathed the sword by his waist and sliced through the hollow sky with a swing, cleaving apart the empty space.
An enormous shining Noble Phantasm immediately appeared, accompanied by spiralling torrents of galloping prana. Waver felt like he was about to be blown over by the sudden storm, swallowing his screams and hugging the steel frame even tighter.
"Observation is over. We will join the battle, boy."
Before his words were finished, Rider had mounted the Noble Phantasm with a leap, his mantle flowing.
"Idiot idiot idiot! You're acting nonsense!"
"Oh? If you don't want to go, you can stay here and look."
"I am going! Bring me along, idiot!"
"Good, that's more like my Master!"
Rider emitted clear laughter, took hold Waver's collar gently, and let Waver ride beside himself.
"Now roll on, Gordius Wheel • Wheel of Heaven's Authority!"
The Noble Phantasm answered the call of the King of Conquerors with a thunderous tremor.
Gales surged. A confusion of life and death.
The moment that the swordsman and the spearman slid past each other, flowers of bright crimson blood fluttered and bloomed briefly – before fading away in the blink of an eye.
Saber, who charged past, stopped. The two of them turned at the same time.
They both still stood erect, without losing the thought of warring against each other. The two Heroic Spirits were still intact.
Finally the battle had the slight possibility of moving away from the path of attacking each other. At that moment Saber took in the situation and made a quick decision that prolonged their duel.
As a result, the yellow short spear that poised to pierce Saber did not land on Saber's chest, but her left arm. At the same time the golden sword that Saber uplifted deviated just a little from Lancer's vitals, the edge aimed at Lancer's left arm... Curious how they were injured at the same place.
But were they damaged to the same extent?
"You still won't let me win easily... It's very good, that adamant manner of yours."
Lancer stared at Saber with a desolate smile, as if desperately trying not to pay attention to the wound on his elbow. As expected, like a film on rewind, Lancer's injury was healed without anyone touching it and left no trace behind. A Servant's self-healing would not manage to recover him that quickly; it must be his hidden and observing Master who used the healing magecraft.
Contrary to Lancer, even Saber's demure beauty could not hide her pain and anxiety.
Lancer's airborne spear and the sword clutched tightly by Saber's two hands had a definite imbalance in power. At least, from the outside, the wound dealt by the short spear on Saber's forearm seemed rather light compared to Lancer's injury.
"...Irisviel, heal my wound as well."
"I healed it! I did, but..."
Compared to Saber, who was injured, Irisviel's expression appeared even more flustered.
Irisviel was undoubtedly a first-rate magus. The strength and intensity of her craft goes without saying. She is, in truth, an exception in the world of magi, possessing a body that was ‘designed' and ‘manufactured'.
It would be impossible for her to make mistakes when using basic magecraft such as healing. Even if an error did occur on the off chance, Irisviel would know how to deal with it herself.
And yet –
"No, the healing did work. Saber, your current state is one of full health."
Saber did not dare to keep her guard down as she kept appraising Lancer with caution, and at the same time stared at the injury on her left arm. The wound did not bleed much and was quite shallow, but the problem was that her sinews were severed. The most important digit on her hand, the thumb, can not be moved; therefore Saber can not exert enough strength to grip the sword hilt.
Saber knew that there is nothing wrong with Irisviel's healing methods, but the arm was not cured. Her left thumb felt as if it was born crippled, turning completely immobile.
Lancer paid no attention to Saber, nor did he resume his attack. Full of confidence, he bent down and retrieved with his left hand the yellow short spear that fell to the ground.
"In front of my Noble Phantasm Gáe Dearg • Crimson Rose of Exorcism, it's good that you realized armor is useless."
Perhaps he thought that after showing the effects of his Noble Phantasm, there was no point in keeping up the masquerade. Lancer spoke the true name of his Noble Phantasm with no hesitation.
"But you were rash to discard your armor. If you had not, you would have a defence against Gáe Buidhe • Golden Rose of Mortality."
Lancer, the long red spear in his right hand, the short yellow spear in his left, began to swing them exaggeratedly as though spreading a pair of wings, in exactly the same manner as when the battle first began. It was not a gesture to seduce, but a unique battle style mastered after arduous training.
"I understand now... It is a cursed spear; wounds dealt by it would never heal. I should've noticed this earlier..."
A crimson spear that severs prana, a cursed golden spear, and a love spot below his left eye that attracts women – it was easy to determine once all those are put together. Based on legends, the glorious name praised by the Celtic legends of heroes was actually remotely related to King Arthur. It was quite incredulous that this did not occur to Saber.
"The first warrior of the Knights of Fianna... Diarmuid of the Love Spot. I did not know that the Grail granted the honor of participating in the war to you."
"That's the beauty of this war for the Holy Grail... But the honor is mine. For one that traverses time and space to join the Throne of Heroes due to its invitation would not mistake your golden sword for any other."
The Servant participating in the fourth Holy Grail War, Lancer... the Heroic Spirit of the Celts, Diarmuid ua Duibhne.
Lancer, whose cover was carelessly blown off, narrowed his eyes with a refreshed feeling despite that.
"Competing with the famous King of Knights to avenge your sword blow – Hmph, I wouldn't give this opportunity up either."
As Heroic Spirits who are separated by time they had no historical connections. Through the legends of the past from the era that invited them forth, they managed to know the heroes that came after them. Diarmuid also knew of the legend of King Arthur that brought fame to his homeland after his time.
"So, since we know each other's name, I challenge you as a knight to determine the victor of this mundane battle – although I've already wounded your arm. Are you feeling that it's unfair, Saber?"
"Don't kid me. It would be more of a shame to me if you worry about such a small injury of mine."
Saber declared resolutely, while at the same time gritted her teeth with hatred deep in her heart.
Just one blow is not a big deal...
Saber gathered her prana once again to wrap herself in silver armour. Although it would be a waste of prana before Lancer's Gáe Dearg, it could still block the critical blow from Gáe Buidhe. Saber compressed the surrounding air and once more sealed her golden sword inside Invisible Air • Boundary of the Wind King.
Her wound cannot be healed. Most likely, the curse of the golden spear will not be dispelled until the spear itself is destroyed, or its owner Diarmuid has fallen.
Saber must break through Lancer's twin spears with her remaining right hand. With the aid of prana bursts, single-handedly wielding her sword would not be too painful. But the strength that could only be delivered with both hands was sealed, and she can not use her ultimate attack: Excalibur • Sword of Promised Victory.
However – At this moment, far from cowering down, Saber's fighting spirit soared.
It was a meticulous plan to use one of his two Noble Phantasms first, and cunningly lure his enemy into carelessness. Saber was not angry with the trick; rather, she eagerly wanted to applaud Lancer's scheme.
This enemy is perfect.
She encountered such a flawless enemy for the first battle of the Holy Grail War. As a warrior who lived by the sword, it was inevitable that her fighting spirit ascend to the skies when faced with a fabulous opponent. At the same time Diarmuid ua Duibhne, the one that stood opposing Saber, was also forcing himself to face her not only with tricks, but spending all of his wits on this ultimate battle.
Lancer would have detected Saber's vigor without words. A satisfied grin seeped up Lancer's mouth. His heart felt the exact same way as Saber's did. Lancer respected Saber for sacrificing her left arm to block the surprise attack of his Gáe Buidhe that was unleashed for the kill. It added an extra sheen to the joy Lancer associated with the worth of winning this battle.
As knights, the two Heroic Spirits even echoed each other on their souls' desire to do battle.
"Prepare yourself, Saber, I will win this time."
"Only if I do not win first, Lancer."
The two exchanged their bold provocations as both planned their next, fatal attack, slowly and cautiously approaching the other.
The holy sword and demonic spear were at the edge of an explosive situation.
The air that was cold and clear and full of tension – at that moment, it was suddenly cloven apart by a thunderous ruckus.
" – !?"
Saber and Lancer were both stilled with awe, simultaneously turning to look at the south-eastern sky. The source of the sound was clear for all eyes to see.
A flying object drew a straight line across the sky and was heading directly to their location, shedding violet sparks of lightning on its way. The sound was undoubtedly created by it.
Irisviel was dumbstruck as she said in shock.
From its appearance, it was an antique chariot with two prows. War horses were not yoked on the shaft, but handsome bulls with muscles rippling like waves. Their hooves ploughed the empty space, pulling the luxurious and splendid chariot forward.
No, the chariot was not merely floating in air. Its wheels boomed loudly; it was not solid ground but lightning that the bulls stood upon.
Every time the bulls' hooves and the chariot 'stomped' upon the empty sky, violet lightning spread like a web, rolling the air upwards with deafening roars. The prana spurting from the lightning was probably what Lancer and Saber can only unleash if they use up every single ounce of their strength.
Only a Servant's Noble Phantasm can be so strange and emit such a great amount of prana. Without a doubt, a third Servant had decided to interrupt the duel between Saber and Lancer, and was therefore showing himself.
Saber and Lancer both tensed, and stared at the suddenly arriving chariot soundlessly. Irisviel's alarm was obvious, and the unseen Master of Lancer should have also felt a shiver of fear.
To be enveloped by such an enormous aura of lightning and thunder, the Heroic Spirit is most likely some sort of thunder god. And if it was a thunder god with a connection to bulls, the first one to come into someone's mind would be the highest god of Mount Olympus. Although this chariot can not be called a Heroic Spirit itself, even as a Heroic Spirit's attachment it was very threatening.
The chariot that tread on lightning circled above Lancer and Saber menacingly, then slowed down and landed on the ground. It was positioned exactly between the two Heroic Spirits, blocking both the sword and the lance. The dazzling light that ceased as the chariot landed revealed the figure of a muscular man, standing commandingly at the helm of the chariot.
"Both of you, put down your arms. A king comes!"
This casual bellow was almost as loud as the thunders emitted when he rode upon the air. The fiery glare almost held the power to reflect back the opposing sword blade and spear tip.
Lancer and Saber are both famous Heroic Spirits; a yell or two is not going to scare them away. However, this new Heroic Spirit did not want to attack them, but just joined in because he wanted to intervene in their duel. The two of them began to hesitate since they did not understand the reason behind that action.
The imposing owner of the chariot first dented Lancer and Saber's vigor then continued to speak in a stern tone.
"My name is Alexander, King of Conquerors. I am participating in this Holy Grail War and received the class of Rider."
That was when everyone really became gob-smacked. In the war of the Holy Grail no Servant would want to declare his identity as it could be a key component of his battle plans. Meanwhile, the most agitated people around was Waver, who sat beside Rider.
"What – the bloody hell do you think you're doing, stupid moroooooooon?"
His fear of Rider's looming bulk already forgotten, Waver shrieked at Rider while grasping the mantle of the King of Conquerors.
Bish, the merciless finger flick echoed in the night; the protesting voice died down. Only the middle finger of Rider's right hand paid any attention to it, and Rider asked with a glance to Lancer and Saber that were on either sides of him.
"You slaughter each other to obtain the Grail... I want to ask you something before you engage.
I don't know what expectations you have of the Grail. But now, consider for moment whether your wishes are even greater than the desire to possess all of earth and heaven."
Although Saber still hadn't understood what he meant, her instincts told her that those words were full of danger. Her pupils widened subconsciously.
"You – what do you want to say?"
"Hum? I was quite clear."
By then Rider had maintained his dignity, but his voice was much more gentle and amicable.
"I have descended upon the battlefield, so do you have any intention to pass the Holy Grail to me? If you forfeit your claims to the Grail, I would regard you as friends, and share with you the joy of conquering the world."
It was such a random suggestion. Saber was dazed before she had a chance to feel angry. Opposite her, Lancer was also stunned speechless.
Alexander, King of Conquerors. He is indeed an extraordinary Heroic Spirit. There had no one else like him in human history, so full of eagerness to manifest his ambition of conquering the world.
But even so, what about Rider's suggestion? Suddenly jumping out, proudly declaring his true name, demanding others to respect him before he had shown his worth in battle: all those actions made it look like he has no desire to join the war for the Holy Grail.
It was the first time that anyone had seen something like this. It was hard to tell whether this was a wise decision or a foolish move.
"I admire your boldness in declaring your identity just then, yet... I found it hard to agree to your proposals."
Lancer shook his head with a bitter smile, but there was no laughter in his eyes. A glare as intimidating as a sharp sword collided head-on with the scornful sideway glance of the King of Conquerors; sparks flew.
"I will lift up the Grail; that is the oath I took with the only new king of this era. The one that will hold the Grail in his hands will not be you, Rider."
"...Did you stop my duel with Lancer just to declare all those nonsense?"
Saber asked, immediately following Lancer's words. Her expression was different from that of the beautiful spearman; there wasn't any laughter to be found. Rider's suggestion was extremely irritating for someone as serious as her.
"Your joke was overdone, King of Conquerors. This is unbearable humiliation to a knight."
Lancer and Saber both cast hostile glares towards Rider. Rider mumbled as if troubled, massaging his temples with his knuckles subconsciously at the same time. Although Rider appeared to be running out of plans, his majestic pose did not change at all. Therefore, Rider is actually someone rather rare.
"... Are you offering terms to me?"
Feeling that Rider might make some attempts of flattery, Lancer and Saber simultaneously refused him. Saber continued with disappointment written on her face.
"Besides... I am also that lord that rules the kingdom of Britain. No matter what kind of a king one is, he can never bow before another lord."
"Oh? The king of Britain?"
Rider showed interest in Saber's declarations and raised his eyebrows.
"How surprising. The renowned King of Knights is actually a young girl."
" – And would you like to try the blade of that young girl, King of Conquerors?"
Saber lifted her sword as she lowered her voice. Her left hand was still powerless to hold the sword; its four fingers were just resting on the hilt. The fighting spirit that rose wavering from the blade, however, was more solemn and majestic then when she fought Lancer. Rider furrowed his brows and let out a long sigh.
"My – breakdown of negotiations, is it. What a waste, that's too bad."
When Rider looked down and mumbled to himself, he found the glance that was full of hatred that looked up from beside his feet.
"Ri, de, eeer..."
He had the pain that came with his swollen forehead, but his regrets were more tragic than that pain. Waver's deep cries passed through the air.
"Nooow what? Talking again and again about conquest, and people still dislike you... do you really think you can beat Saber and Lancer?"
The stocky Servant faced his master's questions with no sign of remorse, but began to laugh heartily.
"Er, well, wasn't there a saying that says actions speak louder than words?"
"And your action is just to say your true name out loud like that!?"
Waver was so angry that his head was dizzy. Using his two weak fists, he continued to hammer at the breastplate of Rider, who was just standing there, and started to cry tears. Looking at this sad situation, Irisviel felt neither contempt nor sympathy. She just felt that she couldn't take it anymore.
The atmosphere that had subtly relaxed –
"Oh? It is you, of all people."
– Suddenly became tense again with the low, resentful voice that crept along the ground.
It was the still-concealed Master of Lancer. Ever since he had urged the Servant to use his Noble Phantasm, the observation had been very quiet. Now he was interjecting to ask Waver's purpose in coming here.
It was a sound that was completely different from the tone used before; something that exposed a heart drunk with hatred.
"And I was wondering what you stole my Holy Relic for in your outrage – I didn't think you would actually have the guts to join the Heaven's Feel on your own, Waver Velvet."
Waver heard someone calling his name with malice and knew that he was the subject of that hatred. Not only that, Waver may be able to guess the owner of that voice.
How could he not predict it? With his rank as high as lecturer of the Clock Tower, Holy Relics for other Heroic Spirits can still be prepared even if Alexander's cloak was stolen. Therefore, at the land of Fuyuki, it is not a surprising thing to have this man standing before Waver as his enemy...
"What a pity. It's a shame, really. I actually wanted my poor beloved student to be happy. Waver, someone as mediocre as you only deserves to possess the calm and stable life of commoners."
Waver was dazed with delusions, unable to determine where the voice came from. He no longer knew how many times he had experienced the nauseating feeling in his stomach – Lecturer Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. The feeling of having those crystal blue eyes that held a mixture of humiliation and pity, which glared down at Waver from the lecturer's mean and slender face somewhere above the boy's head – he felt it acutely once again.
Waver wanted to return some smart remarks to the lecturer. Waver had, before his lecturer had managed, skilfully made the Heroic Spirit Alexander into a Servant that obeys him. Was that not the best revenge for the humiliation that he suffered at the Clock Tower for such a long time?
Yes. It is no longer a relationship of teacher and student. He is now my true enemy. I can hate him as much as I want, even going as far as taking his life. Now he is undoubtedly my real opponent.
During the few years that Waver spent at the Clock Tower, he had always hated that haughty lecturer in every waking and sleeping moment, even considering killing him for a few times – yet, it was the first time that he was faced with such enmity from his lecturer. The youth Waver experienced the gaze of a true magus that was full of the desire to kill for the first time.
However – the reverse is also true.
The owner of the voice saw the petrified fear on Waver's face with his sharp sight. With a tone of icy mockery that sent Waver's hair to stand on its end, he continued to speak as if toying with Waver.
"Well, I can't help it, Waver-kun. Let me give you some extra tutorials. The true meaning of the slaughter between magi – I will pass the terror and the pain of the kill onto you without any reservation. You should be proud."
In fact, Waver was already shivering with fear, not even paying attention to the humiliation brought by those words.
To become a true magus, one must be prepared to be killed... A theory that was usually comprehended through books was keenly felt by Waver. The glare that the man shot from who-knows-where was more lethal still. The moment when a magus wanted to kill is the moment when the death sentence is pronounced – Waver did not know that until now.
Then, something enclosed the slender lone shoulders of the boy, which was shivering from terror, in a gentle and powerful embrace.
Waver was befuddled of the rough yet gentle touch. The hand of the stalwart Servant – with coarse fingers that are thick with calluses could only induce dread from the short Master.
"Oi, magus. If I understand correctly, you were supposed to be my Master instead of that kid, apparently."
Rider called out to the unseen Master of Lancer. In fact, his face was covered and twisted by a huge smile of malevolent pity.
"That thought is beyond ridiculous. The man that deserves to be my Master should be a warrior that rides with me into the battlefield, not a coward that doesn't even dare to show his face."
Silence descended; only the anger of the unseen Master could be felt spreading along the night air. Rider suddenly laughed into the empty sky, a roaring laugh that exhausted the airs in his lungs.
"Come on out! There must be others. Friends that are hiding in the darkness and spying on us!"
Saber and Lancer were both shocked.
"– What are you doing, Rider?"
Facing an inquiring Saber, the King of Conquerors did a thumb-up accompanied with a hearty smile.
"Saber and Lancer, your frontal battle is most excellent and fine. The clear sound made from the clashing of sword and spear would perhaps attract more than one Heroic Spirit, don't you agree?"
Irisviel was trembling at the thought that Kiritsugu might have been discovered in his unknown hiding place, but Rider only had other Servants in mind. Rider wanted to deliver the deafening sound to every corner of the surroundings, and bellowed once again.
"What a shame. What a shame, really! The heroes of might gathered at Fuyuki! Seeing the prowess displayed here by Saber and Lancer, does it not invoke any sentiments from you? Having a name that deserves praise, yet concealing yourself and spying in secrecy; what cowardice. Even Heroic Spirits would be troubled upon hearing this, huh?"
After another fit of laughter, Rider tilted his head with a fearless expression at the corner of his mouth, and ended with a challenging glance.
"The Heroic Spirits invited by the Holy Grail, gather here at this moment! For those cowards that fear to show their faces, spare yourself the humiliation that Alexander, King of Conquerors, would deal to you. Prepare yourself!"
Rider's enthusiastic speech even passed to Emiya Kiritsugu, who was hiding in the distant container port conducting his observation. It was also heard by Maiya, opposite Kiritsugu's position.
The minds of ancient heroes were so far removed from Kiritsugu's own that he couldn't even sigh in response.
"...That fool managed to conquer the world?"
Opposite the intercom, Maiya also appeared like she could not understand the situation.
Like Kiritsugu and Maiya, the secretly-observing Kirei also saw all of Rider's actions and heard his senseless words through Assassin's eyes and ears. At the moment Kirei was at the distant Fuyuki church, and Kirei had told everything he saw and heard to Tōsaka Tokiomi through the jewel communicator beside him.
"... This is bad."
From the distant Tōsaka residence such an irate sentence was heard.
Although Kirei knew the speaker couldn't see him, he furrowed his brows and nodded.
"Indeed it is."
Tokiomi and Kirei did not disregard Rider's nonsense talk like Emiya Kiritsugu did. The reason was that they both thought of one particular Heroic Spirit, who would never ignore something like Rider's challenging words.
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