Fate/Zero:Act 5 Part 3
After a night of continuous deadly fights, a streak of white light gradually appeared at the eastern sky. At this moment Kirei was using the magical communicator to establish a connection with the Tōsaka mansion in the Miyami district. He and his father Kotomine Risei were preparing to call for an emergency strategy meeting.
“Huh? Can we really trace Caster’s trail immediately now?”
Tokiomi’s satisfaction and praise were revealed through his voice. Kirei and Assassin’s efforts had finally yielded the results he wanted. Although his servant was still a tricky problem, his apprentice’s side had progressed very smoothly.
“Our opponent is really the Heroic Spirit of a magus. Despite being an Assassin, it was still tough for him to enter their workshop unnoticed. But now we are sure of the approximate position of the enemy. Currently Assassin is carrying out close surveillance at the perimeter of the area. Once Caster appears out of his workshop, his activities can be known immediately.”
“Which is to say that Caster did not stay within his workshop, and is actively operating outside?”
“Yes. That’s because……”
Recalling Tokiomi’s reaction when he delivered the report last time, Kirei hesitated slightly. Caster and his master’s actions might give rise to grave consequences.
“…Both of them went to the city beside Miyami town and captured the sleeping children back to their workshop. Until daylight appears, they had caught 15 of them. Though most operations were carried out smoothly, the parents of 3 children discovered them and a struggle ensued. Eventually, the two killed the entire family.”
Able to clearly feel Tokiomi’s fury, Kirei continued promptly before he manages to reply.
“Caster uses magecraft unhesitatingly, and he does not even clean and tidy up the place after it. Now, under my father’s instructions, workers from the Holy Church are clearing the traces they left behind at the scene. However……I’m afraid that even after today, Caster and his Master’s behavior will not change in any way.”
“……What on earth are they thinking! What type of person is that jerk? The Master of that Caster.”
“According to Assassin who eavesdropped their conversations, before summoning Caster, that Master had already been carrying out similar murders like this. Though we can’t be sure yet, this guy is apparently the same person as the wanted serial killer.”
Tokiomi breathed heavily in anger.
Since this month, news of the mysterious serial killer- ‘The Demon of Fuyuki City’, had been continuously reported. Using brutal methods rarely seen within these few years, he was related to 4 murder incidents in the city. Worst still, in the last case, it was said that he had killed all the family members in their sleep - an extremely savage killer. The police of Fuyuki city had set up a special task force which had gathered the police force from the neighboring vicinity to crack the case quickly. Nevertheless, there had been no progress at all; they were still at the stage where they cannot even determine the facial features of the suspect.
For Tokiomi, for such a serious thing to happen during Heaven’s Feel was indeed a headache. This should be the same for all Masters. The Heaven’s Feel must be carried out in secret. This is a solemn rule for all contestants. Someone who drew so much attention to this place would not be welcomed.
Actually, all the magi were responsible to guard the noble creed. Whoever he is, nobody would expose magecraft to the common people. Everyone researched their magecraft underground; those who failed to guard this secret would be put to death promptly by the Association. As long as something is related to the secrecy of magecraft, the Magus Association was firm and thorough in managing it. That is why this matter always made the magi’s blood run cold.
Let say there was a magus who appear at the headlines of the community news almost daily; and that this Master is his Servant’s puppet- this had to be a critically alarming situation.
“About these two, did you obtain any detailed information, reports, or something like that?”
“From how they call each other, we can gather that the Master’s name is ‘Ryuunosuke’, while Caster is known as ‘Bluebeard’.”
“Bluebeard? Then Caster’s real identity has to be Count Gilles de Rais, isn’t it?”
“Possible. This person was very famous in alchemy and black magic."
From the point of view of his fame as a legend, it is not surprising that he is summoned by the Holy Grail as a Servant. It's just that his characteristics are totally different from a Heroic Spirit. It is more fitting for him to be known as ‘vengeful spirit’ instead.
“From their conversations, as a Master, Ryuunosuke does not have any prior knowledge about Heaven’s Feel. Putting that aside, he doesn’t even have the self-consciousness of a magus.”
“This is quite possible. Under accidental situations, it is possible for someone without any magecraft teaching to make a contract with the summoned Servant… That Master will be the Servant’s puppet.”
“But, that is...”
Recalling what he had heard through Assassin’s ears, Kirei continued:
“…No matter what, Caster’s words and actions are beyond the boundary of normal comprehensions. He keeps saying things like the Holy Grail is already his; must rescue Jeanne d’Arc - things that do not make sense at all.”
As if trying to vent out all the anger in his heart in a single breath, Tokiomi let out a deep sigh.
“A Servant that is rampaging around due to his mental disturbance and a Master who is totally helpless at the situation? Why on earth did the Holy Grail choose such jerks?”
Servants attacking human beings- this itself is nothing abnormal. For spiritual beings who feed on prana to exist, Servants do not just acquire prana restoration from their Masters. They can also procure energy by absorbing the spirit of human beings. Masters who are incapable of providing sufficient prana to their Servants may use sacrificial ceremonies to make up for the inadequate prana.
Even in this Heaven’s Feel, cases like offering sacrifices were still within Tokiomi’s expectations. This is something without blame. Magi themselves are already existences beyond common rules. They can ignore morality and usual preception of right and wrong. If they have to sacrifice innocent people, as long as it is covertly and secretly done, silent approval is given.
But reckless murders like this which create such a huge commotion - this behavior is never allowed.
“You cannot let this matter run wild, right? Tokiomi-kun.”
With a displeased look, Father Risei cut in.
“Caster and his Master’s actions have clearly obstructed the progress of the Heaven’s Feel. This is against the rules.”
“Of course. As someone whose former job was to guard the secrecy of magecraft, I will not let them off.”
For generations, the Tōsaka family had always been the secret guardian of the area of Fuyuki city. Managing the laylines of this land and monitoring any abnormal occurrence here - this is the responsibility entrusted to them by the Magus Association. This is also the reason, as one of the ‘three initiate families’, the Tōsakas offered this place under their watch as the stage for the Heaven’s Feel.
As a Master whose goal is to acquire the Holy Grail and also as the guardian of this land, Tokiomi really has to stop Caster’s actions.
“I’m afraid they are also behind the continual disappearances of the children after the 4 murder cases.”
Kirei reported his views dryly.
“There only 17 children reported missing. If we take the situation of this morning’s surveillance into account, and if we include the extra ones they captured, the number of missing children will be at least 30. Their actions will only intensify, I’m afraid. Father, we have to stop them as soon as possible.”
“Yeah. It is already beyond the extent where warnings and punishments are effective. The only way left is to destroy Caster and his Master.”
“But the problem is that to fight a Servant, we have to rely on a fellow Servant. However, my Assassin cannot take any action.”
Kirei’s remarks really made sense. Assassin’s purpose was to specifically carry out clandestine plans, and how can he be allowed to show up again so quickly?
Father Risei contemplated this in silence for a while. To Tokiomi, he suggested:
“It is within my jurisdiction as a supervisor to alter the rules slightly. What if we put the struggle for the Holy Grail aside first? We muster all the other Masters to go against Caster. How about it?”
“Huh? Then……what do you have in mind, Father?”
“I can provide certain help which would assist the one who manage to eradicate Caster’s Master, in their future battles. The result of having the entire Heaven’s Feel disrupted because of Caster’s sole rampage… I doubt the other Masters would want it to happen too.”
“……Oh I see. Change the objective of this game to hunting. Is that right?”
Taking the Servant whose hand was injured in yesterday night’s haphazard fight into consideration, none of the Servants were killed yet. So if everyone shifts their targets to Caster, his life would be hanging by a thread. Just like a lighted candle in a hurricane, Caster's fate is ready to be extinguished any moment.
“But the condition of awarding benefits to the one who defeats Caster……Will it backfire on us instead? Will it eventually hinder us from obtaining the Holy Grail?”
Smiling, Father Risei replied.
“Of course it is not good for someone else to acquire the benefits. But the only one who could deliver the final blow to Caster, cornered by the hounds, would be Archer.”
“……I see. That’s obvious.”
As long as Kirei’s Assassin is present, it will be all too easy to arrange the time accurately so that Archer delivers the finishing blow. Although the rules were altered now, the Tōsaka camp’s battle tactics and skills were still unchanged.
“Then quickly prepare to gather the other Masters.”
After he decided what to do, Father Risei got up and left the underground chamber. Just as Kirei was about to stand up, he was halted by Tokiomi.
“…Oh yes, Kirei-kun. I heard that you left the Fuyuki Church to do something on your own yesterday night.”
Kirei had already anticipated Tokiomi’s question. On the surface, Tokiomi’s apprentice had already been defeated in this Heaven’s Feel, and was currently seeking protection from the church. So he shouldn't be doing anything at all.
“I am very sorry. I know this is very risky too, but I had discovered a spy in the vicinity of the church. So I had to do something about it-”
“Spy? Is its target you, who’s a part of the Church?”
Tokiomi sounded much stricter.
“Please don’t worry about it. I have already destroyed the spy. No secret will be leaked out,” answered Kirei in a breezy voice.
Kirei surprised even himself at his ease in lying straight at his Master’s face.
“Why didn’t you use your Servant?”
“I feel that this is something trivial. Assassin is not required.”
After a moment of silence, Tokiomi commented, slightly unhappily.
“……You really are a highly-skilled Executor, and I also know you have high confidence in your ability. But based on the current situation, aren’t you careless in these actions of yours?”
“You’re right. I’ll tread carefully next time.”
Kirei lied again.
From now onwards, Kirei would probably go into the battlefield a few more times to trace Emiya Kiritsugu’s trail, until he finds him.
Kirei waited until the communicator was in complete silence before leaving the underground chamber.
Just as Kirei opened the door of his room in the first floor of the house, he sensed a disharmony as if he had just walked into a wrong room.
It was neither the change of scent nor the change in temperature of the room. Overall, he felt a great change in the overall feel of the room. The plain room of his had suddenly emanated a luxurious and elegant feeling as if it is a palace.
There was no difference in the settings and lightings of the room. The only difference was a man who is sitting on the bench in the middle of the room, totally ignorant of everyone else.
This intruder, who took over someone else’s room with no reason, is someone that surprised Kirei a little. Startled, Kirei frowned.
With golden hair standing upright as if it’s burning and a pair of ruby-red eyes, this man in front of him was none other than Tōsaka Tokiomi’s Servant, the King of Heroes, Gilgamesh. However, instead of wearing his original golden armor, this Heroic Spirit was donned in a modern match-up of a leather jacket with furs and fashionable leather pants.
Since he was summoned, this Servant had been wondering around carelessly with his ability of Independent Action. But, getting tired of parading himself in his spirit form, Archer decided to dress himself in ‘playing attire’ to take on physical form on a whim while having a stroll in the streets at night. Although he had heard of Archer’s idiotic deeds from Tokiomi, Kirei had never imagined that Archer would appear in his room.
Apparently, Archer was not ashamed at all at intruding other people’s rooms. Putting that aside, he had even casually removed a bottle of red wine from the cupboard and had poured himself a cup. Elegantly, Archer sipped the wine.
“Despite being few in number, compared to Tokiomi’s collection, yours is more high-class. What a presumptuous apprentice.”
Still in the dark about the reason for Archer’s visit, Kirei looked at the row of empty wine bottles on the table.
Looks like Archer had tasted all Kirei’s hidden wine.
Although it is initially surprising, if one ponders about it, he would find nothing strange. Kirei has this habit that, once he hears of a wine of extraordinary quality, he would purchase it immediately.
The study of wine is actually a deep world without any boundaries if you wish to pursue it. Wine can fill the emptiness of one’s heart through its taste. When you are feeling hollow inside, getting drunk with alcohol is not a bad idea too.
Walking in the cul-de-sac, Kirei thought about these ideas, half-seriously.
Nevertheless, hitherto, he had never tried wine even once. All he did was to increase to number of delicious wines. Kirei did not even think of serving it to his guests.
As for this drunkard who casually drinks others’ hidden wine, no matter how much he praised it, Kirei did not have any welcoming attitude towards him.
“What do you want?”
Facing this blunt question, Archer lifted up his wine glass and gazed meaningfully at Kirei.
“Looks like the ones who are bored aren’t just limited to me alone.”
Hearing this reply, Kirei realized the meaning behind those words instantly.
Apparently, this heroic spirit had known what transpired last night- Kirei disobeying Tokiomi’s orders to stay put, and venturing out alone- although Kirei was not sure since when Archer knew about it.
“What’s wrong, Kirei? Are you also feeling unsatisfied with only obeying Tokiomi’s commands?”
“……So, are you still unhappy with your contract now, Gilgamesh?”
Evading Archer’s question, Kirei asked back in a displeased tone. Although he is the mystical ‘King of Heroes’, Kirei did not see him as someone to be feared. In spite of Tokiomi’s views, a Servant is still a servant. No matter who this Heroic Spirit is, he is still Servant Archer, an existence belonging to Tokiomi. Comparing him to Kirei who is Tokiomi’s apprentice, their status is about the same. There is no need to worry too much about him.
Archer did not mind this attitude of his. He merely snorted, and took another sip of wine.
“The one who summoned me here and has been providing me with prana is Tokiomi. So no matter what, I still have to treat him with servant-like etiquette.”
After this surprising declaration, a sliver of melancholic haze gleamed in Gilgamesh’s red irises.
“But frankly speaking, he is really a boring man, completely devoid of any interesting aspects.”
“……These words should not come from you, a Servant.”
From his astonished heart, Kirei felt a slight surge of anger at Archer’s rude remark towards his master. At the same time, he felt that he had a rough idea as to why Archer came to visit him. In this mored relaxed atmosphere, Kirei had slowly accepted the presence of Archer in his room.
“Are they really that mundane? Tokiomi-shi’s orders.”
“Huh… Really meaningless. Wanting to achieve the omnipotent, wish-granting device, ‘Akasha’? What a pointless wish.”
The only thing every magus yearns for even in their dreams; Archer laughed it off just like that. But Kirei was able to empathize with him.
“The craving desire for the ‘root’ is something every magus has. Bystanders would not be able to comprehend it.”
“If that is so, you are one of the bystanders too, Kirei. As far as I know, before this, your position is one which opposes the magi, right?”
Archer had seemingly heard about Kirei’s complicated stand. Although he always wears an air of hauteur, his ability to gather information is amazingly sharp.
Kirei folded his arms, deep in thought. Instead of Tōsaka Tokiomi’s apprentice, if he looks at things from the view point of the representative of the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament, what is the purpose of Tokiomi’s Heaven’s Feel?
“…..The path leading to the ‘root’ can be said to lead to the ‘outside’ of the world. Which is to say, it will not bring any effect to the ‘inside’, which is this world. For the Church, which only focuses on the ‘inside’, the magi’s pursuit is downright pointless. We can only take their action as a meaningless plan.”
“Oh I see. Looks like I am only interested in things related to this universe, which is also my garden.”
Speaking as if he owns the universe…Having such a haughty attitude really fits his status as the ‘King of Heroes’.
“I am not interested in the territories that cannot be controlled by me. That’s why I don’t care about this ‘root’ thingy at all.”
Kirei smiled bitterly. In other words, this Archer’s stand goes against all the other magi. That is why it is reasonable for Tōsaka Tokiomi, a typical magus, to feel helpless at someone like Archer.
“If the Holy Grail of Fuyuki City is only a special device which seeks the ‘root’, no matter how violently the magi fight for it, I think the Holy Church would just ignore them. Unfortunately, the ability for the Holy Grail to realize wishes is ‘omnipotent’. It has unlimited, mysterious power to change even the ‘inside’ of the world. If such a great power were to fall into wrong hands, it will become an existence which threatens our belief. This is the reason the Holy Church chose Tōsaka. Instead of ignoring this matter and let the grail fall into wrong hands, it is better if it is wasted on a ‘boring, meaningless wish’…… But I have a feeling that my father has other purposes in the beginning.”
“What you mean is, the other Masters fight for the Holy Grail for reasons different from Tokiomi’s?”
Kirei nodded his head in response to Archer’s query.
“While Tokiomi is a typical representation of a magus, he is also one of the most right-winged. In this era, people who pursue pure magecraft like he does no longer exist. All the other guys are pursuing the gifts of mundane riches. Prestige, desires, power… all these are wishes that can be fulfilled ‘within’ the world.”
“Isn’t this great? These are all my favorite things.”
“You are but the king who reigned over these uncouth ones, Gilgamesh.”
Refusing to reply, Archer merely laughed and finished his delicious wine in a single gulp. At Kirei’s apparent evaluation, he did not feel insulted at all.
“Then what about you? Kirei, what wish do you want to fulfill by getting your hands on the Holy Grail?”
At such a direct question, for the first time, Kirei hesitated.
Indeed. This is the most fundamental question of all. Why are the Command Seals engraved on Kotomine Kirei’s left hands?
“I……do not have any special wish.”
At his vague reply, Archer’s red pupils emanated a coquettish glow.
“How can that be possible? I thought the Holy Grail only summons those with wishes?”
“It should be like that. But……I am not sure of the reason too. Why would the Holy Grail choose me? Someone without any ideals to accomplish; someone without any cravings to fulfill… Why am I chosen?”
“Is this something worth such frustration?”
Noticing his heavy look, Archer could not help but to laugh loudly.
“If it is not for any desire or ideal, won’t merely seeking pleasure be enough?”
“How dare you!”
Kirei’s fury is basically created unconsciously.
“You want me, a disciple of God, to seek pleasures? ...How can I commit such a sinful act which would cause me to be condemned?”
“Sinful act? Condemned?”
Looking at the serious expression of Kirei's, Archer felt more meaning to those words. Without bearing any goodwill, Archer laughed at him.
“Huh. That was a leap in logic, Kirei. Why did you correlate pleasure and sin?”
Kirei could not reply. And Kirei was also unsure how he ended up in such an awkward situation, something he had never experienced before.
At Kirei’s silence, Archer became increasingly full of himself and commented.
“Acquiring pleasures through sins is actually wrong. But humans do acquire happiness through virtuous means. If you say that pleasure in itself is sinful, does it make sense at all?”
Such an elementary question, yet why was he struggling to reply? The reason eluded Kirei. He felt as if a nonchalant unease was locked in an unknown territory deep within his heart.
“……What pleasures? I do not even have them. That’s why I will not seek it.”
Finally opening his mouth, Kirei answered in a voice unlike him at all, unsure and hesitating- as if he could not find the answer and simply came up with some sentence to deal with it.
Archer scrutinized him, then burst out in laughter.
“Kotomine Kirei, suddenly I have a new-found interest in you.”
“……What do you mean?”
“I’m just kidding. Don’t mind me.”
Pouring himself a new cup of red wine, he leaned back on the sofa, speaking loudly.
“Happiness is fundamentally a part of the human soul. There isn’t any ‘yes’ and ‘no’ distinction. It is just whether you are ‘aware’ or ‘not aware’ of it. Kirei, you had only failed to find it from the depths of your heart. To experience happiness, that is the first thing to do.”
“Mind your own business, Servant. Trying to educate me…”
“This is no ordinary education. It is gained by a king from experiencing all the luxuries and pleasures of the world. Listen carefully.”
Despite saying that, Kirei was actually meticulously analyzing everything Archer said.
For some reasons, those haughty words sent shockwaves to his nerves.
“Kirei. First of all, you have to understand something about this thing called entertainment.”
“U-huh. Limiting your views to only the ‘inside’ is not the right way. You must broaden your horizon……Oh yeah. Let’s start by letting you experience my entertainments. How does that sound?”
“For the ‘me’ right now, there is no such thing as ‘time for entertainment’.”
I am different from you, Kirei thought silently.
“Hey, don’t say something like that. After accomplishing Tokiomi’s tasks, you will have lots of time, eh? You duty is to dispatch spies to monitor the movements of the other five Masters, right?”
“……You are correct.”
“In that case, you shouldn’t just understand their intentions and battle strategies. How about finding out their reasons for seeking the Holy Grail and letting me know about them? That’s not something too hard for you, right?”
Indeed, this type of investigation did not diverge much from the assignment Tokiomi gave him.
Assassin, who observed the everyday life of its target, could easily record their conversations. By analyzing the content of the dialogues, the reason they sought the Holy Grail could then be deduced easily. All he had to do is just to ask Assassin to pay extra attention to this type of conversation.
“……But Archer, why do you want to know such things?”
“I mentioned it before, right? I am interested in the behaviors of human beings. And among those who fight for the Holy Grail, there has to be one or two interesting Masters, right? At least more interesting than Tokiomi.”
Kirei tried to cool his head and think rationally. He had only regarded Emiya Kiritsugu with interest, completely ignoring the rest. Besides, he did not have any obligation to agree to Archer’s request. However, if he could have some influence over this Servant who was completely out of Tokiomi’s control, maybe it would bring some positive effects to the Tokiomi camp in the future.
“……Okay, Archer. I promise you. But this will take some time.”
“No problem at all. I have the patience to wait.”
After finishing the red wine again, Archer rose from the couch. His movements caused not only the air to waver slightly; the glow within the room fluctuated with him as well. This Heroic Spirit who controlled all the creations of the earth seemed to emanate an invisible radiance from his entire body.
“Ah, I will come again to taste your delicious wine. Your collection can even rival the heavenly wines. To leave them gathering dust in a monk’s storeroom is such a waste.”
Expressionless, Kirei neither agreed nor disagreed. Maybe Archer took his silence as consent. Wearing a satisfied smile, he left the room.
Right after Archer left, the majestic atmosphere left the room too; replacing it, the mundane atmosphere of the room.
Finally alone, Kirei started to ponder on the strange conversation he had with the strange visitor.
It was the first time he had a one-to-one conversation with Archer.
Come to think of it, be it Servants or Masters, all of them fight with all they have in this Heaven’s Feel to fulfill certain wishes- save that uncontrollable King of Heroes who is apparently not interested in the Holy Grail at all. Amongst the Servants gathered in Fuyuki city, he had to be the one with the least will to fight. From this point of view, it looks like he shared the same sentiment with Kirei - he had to be the only Master who participated in the Heaven’s Feel without any reason.
No, maybe the reason still existed, just that Kirei hadn’t discovered it yet. There had to be a craving desire for the Holy Grail to achieve certain miracles, maybe somewhere deep within his heart.
Nevertheless, this is definitely not the ‘happiness’ Archer talked about.
The one who knows the answer is not Archer; it is someone else.
The person in question is Emiya Kiritsugu. Everything would have been solved if the conversation just now could instead be between him and Emiya Kiritsugu, Kirei thought.
Of course their positions were completely different. Thus they would have discussed using their weapons instead of their words. But it is still alright if that is the case, since Kirei had only wanted to fight with this person called Emiya Kiritsugu; a conversation between men.
As these thoughts played in his mind, Kirei picked up the empty wine bottles tossed away by Archer.
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