Fate/Zero:Act 6 Part 2
Saber turned into a gust of roaring wind and galloped in the forest.
Now Saber no longer cared about her disagreements with Kiritsugu. Her heart would turn into a sword once at the battlefield. A sword whetted matchlessly sharp and gleaming. It is a sword that had not a sliver of doubt.
Saber knew very clearly that she was running into Caster’s battle array of magecraft. Her blood was boiling; the evils that this devil had committed made Saber furious. But what’s pushing Saber forward at the moment wasn’t her furious mood. Anger and hatred alone would not be able to turn Saber’s heart into a sharp sword.
Those slaughtered children. It wasn’t as if Saber hasn’t seen such scenes before. As long as one is at the battlefield, no matter how unbearable one finds such things to be, those small carcasses would still be seen. For her, who was once King Arthur, it was an ordinary situation seen all the time.
The so-called humans, once they stand at the edge of life and death, would turn incomparably ugly, despicable and violent. Humans are two-legged beasts that ravished women, slaughtered children, and robbed the poor. Nine out of ten times the blood-stained battlefield would become full of such demons.
However, precisely because of that, humans need to ‘prove’ themselves even if they have sunken into Hell. Prove that humans can still live on with dignity no matter what difficulties surround them. Someone is needed to prove and testify to that.
The one who can testify to that is the knight. The shining star on the battlefield.
A knight must proudly illuminate the entire battlefield by inspiring awe with his justice. He needs to let those fallen souls, reduced to demons, to again pick up honor and pride, and become proper humans once more. Putting aside his own anger, sadness and anguish and focus on the greater good: that is the duty a knight must bear.
Therefore, Saber must defeat Caster. This isn’t the urge of anger but her duty.
Saber had to admit such actions are lacking in careful consideration. She couldn’t help it if someone rebukes that she acted too hastily. However, Saber isn’t someone with only brawn and no brains. Although she predicted that Caster would be a tough enemy, she did not despair; because it’s not as if she has no hope for victory. If it is going to be a fight to the death, the last person standing would be her – that was Saber’s intuition.
Caster must be defeated. Different from Kiritsugu, Saber had her reasons to defeat Caster by her own hand. She must subdue that devil even if she suffers heavy wounds and damages her strength. This is the duty of the King of Knights, an inescapable obligation. A devil that sullied the meaning of war, a scum that humiliated the pride of humans; Saber would never let such a person go.
The stench of blood became heavier. The mud that wrapped about the edge of her armor stopped Saber’s steps.
Behind Saber, the ground was clouded with raised dust, and the disturbed dust was soaked through with dampness. That dampness wasn’t caused by rain, but crimson blood.
It was a sickening stench. A sea of blood surrounded her. Just what kind of cruel slaughter did Caster go through to create such an unbearable scene? Saber’s heart was torn apart with pain when she thought of this.
And the ones slaughtered were all young and lovely children. Saber remembered those children, screaming with terror, which she saw in the crystal ball. That was something that happened just then. Just a few minutes ago, before Saber galloped into the forest.
Back then they were still lively children. Now they’ve already turned into scattered carcasses.
“You’re finally here. Jeanne, I’ve waited a long time.”
Caster greeted the stationary silver-white figure with a hearty smile. Caster’s face was full of complacent smiles as if he was very satisfied with the lavish ‘banquet’ he was holding. Caster stood in the middle of this sea of blood; his inky black cassock was covered with the fresh blood of the hostages, making his smile more spooky and terrifying.
“What do you think about this tragic scene? Mortifying? Could you even imagine the anguish those innocent and lovely children went through at their end?”
“But Jeanne, this still isn’t a true tragedy. Compared to after I’ve lost you, in order to meet you again –”
Saber had nothing to say, and she had no intention to listen to Caster’s long speech either. She wanted to cleave Caster in half with one sword blow; with no hesitation left, she took a step towards Caster.
Caster also detected the killing intent in Saber’s advancing step and stopped talking, suddenly pulling his hands out from the edges of his cassock.
The thing that was hidden in front of Caster’s chest once again made Saber stop her advance.
It was a child – the sole surviving hostage. He was still sobbing weakly as Caster’s forearms held him close. Did Caster leave him alive just to use him as a shield in the battle against Saber?
“– Oh Jeanne, your flaming and anger-filled eyes are so appealing.”
Caster, feeling relaxed, smiled briefly towards Saber.
“Do you hate me so much? Yes, you should hate me. I betrayed the mercy and love of God and you would never forgive me for that. You were truly more devoted to God than anyone else.”
“Let that child go.”
The tone Saber used to command Caster was as cold as a blade.
“This competition for the Holy Grail is to select the Heroic Spirit most worthy of obtaining the Grail. If you use strategies that sully Heroic Spirits, you will be abandoned by the Holy Grail.”
“Since you’ve already been resurrected, the Holy Grail is useless to me… Jeanne, if you really want to save this child’s life.”
Caster couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Then, with his face full of disappointment, he softly let go of his grip and placed the child on the ground.
“Don’t cry, child. You should be happy. God’s devoted disciple came to save you. The omnipotent God finally answered to your wishes. None of your friends received God’s salvation, except you.”
It seemed that the young child also understood that this blonde girl who sprinted here was his saviour, and began to cry loudly at once. At the same time he ran straight towards Saber.
The child’s little hands clasped Saber’s shin guard. Saber’s fingertips softly brushed past the child’s hands. The only thing that can envelope the child and give her solace was the mountains surrounding them. Currently Saber was in a very desperate situation. She could no longer prepare for battle and take care of the child’s safety at the same time.
“It’s very dangerous here. Get away quickly. Run this way, and then you’ll see a big big castle. In there people will help –”
Clack, the child’s spine made a sound. His sobs became painful wails.
Saber was shocked beyond words; the little figure in front of her eyes burst apart. Moreover, what gushed out from within the child was not red blood.
It was an inky horde of snakes, countless snakes intertwined together – no, that thing was covered with suckers as big as fish gills, not something as simple as a group of snakes. Are they octopi? Or the tentacles of some strange octopus-like creature? Those tentacles, as thick as Saber’s arms, extended in the blink of an eye and wrapped themselves around the silver armor, starting to tightly constrain Saber’s arms and legs.
The flesh and blood of the hostage still hung on the demonic monsters summoned from another world – there was more than one demonic monster surrounding Saber. Endless tentacles continued to emerge from the remains of the hostages scattered everywhere; a dozen or so monsters surrounded Saber almost immediately.
Those monsters are about the same size. They have no limbs or a lower body, making them impossible to describe with words. There is a circular mouth at the end of each one of those endless tentacles. The mouths contain razor-sharp teeth like a shark’s. Although the origins of those creatures are unknown, they’re definitely not living beings of nature. They might be creatures from another world, and that world does not obey the natural laws.
“I should have told you beforehand, you should make full preparations the next time you see me.”
Caster laughed loudly as if celebrating his victory. As he spoke, a thick book appeared in his hands. The cover of the book was wet and glistening and, unbelievably, a piece of human skin was placed on it. It is only an ordinary book by the look of it, but with Saber’s lightning-like senses she could tell that massive amounts of prana surged around with the book as its center and expanded outwards. Without a doubt, that book is Caster’s Noble Phantasm.
“This is the magical book my friend and ally left for me. I obtained the means to lead armies of demons using this book. What do you think? Is it that no other army can stand up to the majesty of my demonic army?”
Saber didn’t reply. She was still tightly bound by the tentacles. The rotten and smashed formless carcass still remained in her hands. Those demonic monsters consume the flesh of the hostages as they emerge; therefore the remains of the carcass no longer had any solid weight. That kid was just crying and clutching to the edge of her clothes a minute before; now it was already reduced to this tragic state.
“– That’s enough. I don’t want to compete for the Grail with you anymore.”
The swordsman Servant, Saber, said quietly. At the same time, she released the anger that has been roaring and fuming in her heart.
The demonic monsters began to retreat backwards. Compared to sound waves, that impact wave brought more force to Caster’s eardrums.
What erupted from the slender body of the girl was a yell of blood-churning anger – and a huge burst of prana. Those tentacles that surrounded Saber’s entire body didn’t endure even a second of her prana burst. They broke into slivers of flesh in the blink of an eye, scattered away and disappeared. Not a trace of the slime that enveloped Saber lingered on her; the silver armor regained its brilliant shine. Amid the hordes of demonic monsters, the girl stood like the god of war, and glared at Caster with burning eyes.
“I ask for nothing in this battle, and I don’t want to obtain anything either. But now… this sword in my hands is made to eliminate you.”
Caster was awed by Saber’s majesty, and began to gasp weakly. His expression – it’s not one of doubt or fear, but slightly lost and confused.
“So noble, so just… Oh holy maiden, even gods fall to shame in front of you!”
Caster’s voice was extraordinarily happy, but suddenly he sank into silence. Taking that as their signal, the fragile tentacles lashed towards Saber like an avalanche.
“I have stained my love! I haven sunken into love’s bog! Oh holy maid!”
The swinging sword and the mad laughter lifted the curtains of this battle to the death.
Irisviel held her breath and gazed unblinkingly at the turn of the battle in the crystal ball.
The uncanny matter Saber had predicted was also already very obvious.
Considering the special abilities of Servant classes, Saber has an overwhelming advantage over Caster when they battle. When she achieved the class of the Heroic Spirit of the sword her ability of magic resistance was increased in magnitudes. If Caster uses magecraft as his main weapon and intensively resists Saber upfront, then he has not the smallest amount of chance.
Caster is a magus who can summon evil demons.
Saber’s magic resistance ability can only be activated when someone targets her to use magecraft. It can not stop Caster from summoning monsters from other worlds. Moreover, once those monsters are summoned, they would materialize and carry a threat different from magecraft. The teeth and curved claws of the monsters have attack powers equal to swords. The only things Saber could use are her sword and body when facing those monsters.
But even so, Saber, the mightiest in armed battle, would not fear any mere monsters summoned from another world. That is most certain. However, that is something she could only do when her body has no wounds.
The battle of the forest reflected in the crystal ball was definitely not an optimistic situation.
Faced with the monstrous tentacles that continuously attacked her, Saber didn’t move back a single step. She still maintained the swift and ferocious attacking posture. Every time Saber waved the invisible sharp sword in her hands, monsters would be cleaved apart in the air. Those hordes of tentacles did not manage to go near the girl Servant a single step.
Saber is completely capable of pushing back the monsters’ attacks, but those monsters attacked one wave after another – this means Saber was already in a bad situation where she has to defend with all her might.
Although Saber can defeat the opposing army with her vicious swordplay, Caster was merely standing far away with ease and watching her fight. Saber couldn’t even get one step closer to the leader of the monsters, Caster.
Countless new monsters with their tentacles continued to grow out of places where they were severed, and endless monsters also emerged from the pools of blood soaking the earth. Those monsters surrounded Saber in layers.
That invisible sword and the continuously summoned and materializing monsters were in a situation where their powers were completely equal to each other. This means Caster holds the reins for this battle. That magus wasn’t trying to get a quick victory but moved step by step, maneuvering just enough forces needed to combat Saber, and got the battle into a deadlock.
It seems like Caster planned to fight a drawn-out battle. He wants to tire Saber out, exhaust all her energy, and then finish Saber off with one blow. Moreover, right now Saber was completely stuck in Caster’s trap.
Perhaps the situation would have been different if Saber wasn’t wounded. It’d be a piece of cake for Saber to handle this group of weaklings. However, now Saber’s left hand was troubled by that curse. Saber’s expression could be seen through the crystal ball; she was evidently very anxious about not being able to fight as she wishes.
“Still no sign of other Masters entering the forest at the moment?”
Kiritsugu’s question came from behind Irisviel. Obviously, Kiritsugu didn’t care too much about Saber’s problematic situation. Irisviel was extremely disappointed with Kiritsugu. However, Kiritsugu looked like he didn’t notice his wife’s disappointment and just silently prepared his weapons. Kiritsugu placed various grenades and small machine guns into the suspender beneath his jacket. This is something quite unbelievable, the preparation of a magus about to enter battle – however, Irisviel saw that the holster by Kiritsugu’s waist contained the magecraft single-loader that Kiritsugu only carried at crucial moments. She understood that her husband had made the preparation to fight the best he could.
“Maiya, escape the castle with Iri. Go in the opposite direction of Saber.”
Maiya nodded undoubtedly when she heard Kiritsugu’s command. But Irisviel couldn’t conceal the uncertainty in her heart.
“Can’t I… stay here?”
“Saber is fighting far away from here, which means this castle is no longer safe because others would think the same as I do. So it’s very dangerous here.”
Someone may really want to take advantage of this and attack Saber’s Master in the short period of time when Saber is away from the castle. The best time to kill a Master is when the Master and Servant were acting separated from each other.
Between a Master under the protection of his Servant, and a magus that guards his headquarters all by himself, which one of those two enemies is easier to defeat? – Kiritsugu would definitely choose the latter. If another magus chose the same answer as Kiritsugu, he would certainly attack Irisviel, who remained in the castle, once he knew that Saber was fighting alone.
She had finally met up with Kiritsugu, but they are about to be separated again; this made Irisviel very unsettled. She became more unsettled when she detected the pain and conflict Kiritsugu hid in his heart. However, she’s only a burden if she stays by Kiritsugu’s side. After all, meeting with Kiritsugu in the castle is already a breach of the rules they agreed on before.
Irisviel finally felt the root of her anxiety when she coolly thought things through in her heart. It wasn’t because of being separated from Kiritsugu, but because she has to move together with Maiya. Kiritsugu did originally plan to have Maiya protect Irisviel, but Irisviel still couldn’t get rid of her detest towards Maiya.
But Irisviel wouldn’t go against Kiritsugu’s battle plans due to her personal feelings.
“– I understand.”
In the short time that Irisviel took to nod slightly –
A new prickling pain appeared in Irisviel’s magic circuits. This is the information fed back to her by the bounded field of the forest.
“… What’s wrong, Iri?”
“Kiritsugu, it’s just like you feared. Looks like a new enemy entered the forest.”
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