Fate/Zero:Act 7 Part 1

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Act 7.

-130:44:57[edit]

Reminiscing, this is the first time she felt uneasy since Irisviel stepped onto the grounds of Fuyuki.

She realizes once again the importance of Saber, who remained by her side constantly. The quiet confidence and tolerance emanating from her lithe frame gave Irisviel much assurance.

It was not that Hisau Maiya, Saber’s replacement to accompany her is untrustworthy as a guard; Kiritsugu also held Maiya’s abilities in high regards, and she is not being suspicious of her.

So what is the reason for this strange anxiousness?

Leaving the castle due to a strategic retreat, there was absolutely no dialogue between the two walking in the forest of the bounded field. True, Maiya didn’t seem to be the type who enjoyed banter, but her complete silence seemed too heavy for Irisviel.

Would Maiya answer if she is spoken to first? Trying once probably won’t do much harm. Currently, the two are within a safe zone, isolated from battle and not in a precarious situation where quietness needed to be maintained.

If so, then she is going to gather her courage and open her mouth – but because she didn’t know what to say, Irisviel once again checked herself forcefully.

The things she wanted to ask were piled as high as mountains. Meeting Kiritsugu; memories of time spent with him. Kiritsugu’s integrity in Maiya’s eyes… no matter what the question is she wanted to know the answer. But Irisviel felt hesitant to ask any one of them.

Hisau Maiya knew the Kirtsugu she did not know.

If the answer coming from Maiya’s mouth had enough force to shatter the image of her husband in Irisviel’s heart –

No, such a thing is impossible. There is no evidence to deny it in such a way. For Irisviel, the short span of nine years since their initial meeting was the whole of Kiritsugu.

The silence continued as her mind circled about irritably. Though the atmosphere was clearly awkward, Maiya continued to move as she ignored it completely.

“– Clearly, I am not apt at handling this woman –”

As she hung her head and sighed deeply, a warning flashed inside Irisviel’s head.

“--!?”

With a face full of surprise, Maiya looked at Irisviel, whose whole body suddenly stiffened.

“What’s the matter, madam?”

“… Another new intruder. Slightly ahead of our position. We’ll meet if we continue onward.”

The situation was only to be expected. Maiya nodded calmly.

“Then, let us slowly loop around. It will be very safe if we looped from here towards the north.”

“……”

Irisviel, concentrating in her current efforts to scry on the invader with the magecraft of ‘clairvoyance’, did not respond immediately.

Clad in pitch-black vestments, the tall figure was intimidating. His short hair and serious demeanor appears exactly like the photographs found in the resources that Kiritsugu collected.

“… It’s Kirei Kotomine.”

Compared to her statement, Irisviel is more surprised by the change in Maiya’s expression as she made her report.

Always icy and expressionless, she is a woman whose emotions are impossible for anyone to detect. She had thought previously that Maiya’s heart must have been truly cold and cruel to her core -

This is the first time Irisviel saw Maiya’s “expression”. It was crisscrossed with anxiety and fury. What she saw was completely different from fear, but a sense of apprehension. Her fear was probably not Kirei, but instead the fact that Kirei appeared in such a situation.

As she detects this point, Irisviel understood. Though the process was brusque, Irisiviel, however, finally understood the mind of Hisau Maiya.

“Miss Maiya, the orders you accepted from Kiritsugu is to ensure my safety, correct?”

“Correct, but –”

“But what? You’re thinking “this is the only man whom I cannot allow to interfere with Kiritsugu”, right?”  

Smiling slyly, Irisviel pointed out her thoughts. Maiya was temporarily rendered speechless.

“Madam, you… “

“Incidentally, I have the exact same opinion as you.”

Kirei Kotomine. The man who is probably the greatest threat to Kiritsugu. Maiya’s response upon merely hearing his name makes it self-evident.

Even though Irisviel was a homunculus, she fell in love, fulfilled that sentiment and even became a mother. Thus, she obtained the sixth sense that humans have but homunculi can never understand – that is, “a woman’s intuition.”

“Let the two of us stop Kirei here. Is that alright, Miss Maiya?

After a brief moment of hesitation, Maiya nodded her head with a strange expression on her face.

“My deepest apologies. But please prepare yourself, madam.”

“No problems. Don’t worry about me. You carry out your task. Not the orders Kiritsugu gave, but act on the things you think are necessary.”

“Yes.”

Come to think of it, perhaps she had already suspected. That was why she was afraid to confirm it.

Now, Irisviel understood. The reason why she’s been avoiding Maiya… was not that she was afraid of her, but she was afraid to know her heart.

She was afraid of the truth that she “wasn’t the only woman who cares about Emiya Kiritsugu”.  

Irisviel cannot help but to laugh in the exultation that came with the approaching deathmatch. Pulling out her Calico submachine gun, Maiya gave her a glance of surprise.

“– What’s the matter?”

“The human heart is truly an amazing thing.”  

Gambling her life for Kiritsugu – the fact that there is another woman with such determination other than herself.

Clearly, the answer is supposed to be shocking. However, now – such a truth made her feel infinitely at ease.


※※※※※


For Kirei Kotomine, it is not difficult for him to assess Irisviel’s side and their plan of action.

All the other Masters are setting Caster as their target, while Caster has his eyes set on Saber. Therefore, there was no need for specific movements. The best strategy is to make complete preparations to confront an attack in the home base and wait for the opponents to arrive.

Therefore, there was no need for a search. The Einzbern Forest in the wilderness of Fuyuki – it should not be unused at this time. Emiya Kiritsugu should still be there.

Of course, Kirei never planned to enter battle himself. There was a high chance of the eastern side of the forest becoming a major battleground. It would make sense for their enemies from Fuyuki to attack from that direction.

Thus, Kirei hung around the western edges, waiting for battle to be joined. He also hedged his bets on the chance that – if battle really started on the eastern side as he predicted, then he can launch a surprise attack on the castle from its opposite direction.

He released Assassin into the forest as scouts in spirit form. With the ability of “presence concealment”, Assassin is able to enter the bounded field without being detected. Though they cannot go near the castle, they were still able to observe the battle around the outer rim of the forest.

And – as predicted, the battle between Caster and Saber begun on the eastern side of the forest. What’s more, and lucky for Kirei, Einzbern only engaged with the Servant alone, while the Master remained hidden behind closed gates. Assassin’s report was an excellent opportunity for Kirei.

If Kiritsugu was hired by Einzbern to be a hunting dog, then he should be guarding the Master who was defenseless and isolated from her Servant. Now it’s an excellent chance for Kirei to force them into a dead end.

Even though Assassin immediately alerted him to the fact that Lord El-Melloi was also advancing towards the castle, Kirei did not hesitate. Instead, he felt anxious. If Kiritsugu died by Kayneth’s hand, then it would be impossible for Kirei to complete his purpose. Thus, Kirei prepared for the worst case scenario of being forced to confront Kayneth and advanced rapidly in the forest.

Also, depending on situation, there was also a possibility of Einzbern abandoning the castle in order to escape. Thus, it is obvious that the path of retreat will be the direction away from the eastern battlefield where the Servants were currently battling. If that happened, then there was a good chance of encountering Kirei.

Just to be safe, Kirei began his battle preparations early – As such, he reacted dexterously to the unexpected murderous intent.

Within half a breath he ducked and dodged a hailstorm of bullets, which howled above his head like thunder. Sometimes, even veterans of many battles would lose morale and judgment capabilities when surprised by a machine gun. However, such events are mere exceptions to the Executioners of the Holy Church. Kirei didn’t even break a sweat as he analyzed the situation calmly.

There is a single opponent present. Judging from the sound of gunfire, it was a submachine gun with a barrel width under 9mm. Because the handgun bullets lacked the ability to penetrate tree trunks, its threat level was significantly lower than that of the sniper rifle in the forest.

Inferring the opponent’s position through the location of the gunfire, Kirei threw two Black Keys. However, contrary to expected results, he only heard the sounds of blades piercing tree trunks.

“…Mm?”

The murderous edge of the kill returned to raid him, flanking the surprised Kirei.

Once more, the sound of gunfire appeared. This time from his left. Though he dodged it at the last second, this volley was considerably more dangerous than the volley above. The conclusion he previously reached concerning the enemy consisting of only one person slightly slowed his reaction.

The position of the second gunshot was completely different. It was too fast for movement. Although, if there were two gunners from the start, it was entirely possible to take out Kirei if a coordinated crossfire was used.

Amidst his confusion, he sensed again four more presences. Kirei quickly placed two black keys in each hand, four black keys in total and positioned himself as new sensations flashed in his brain.

“That means – an illusion?”

It wasn’t impossible. He was deep into the forest’s bounded field. A bounded field includes illusion. In addition, if there was a magus present who could control illusions, it was entirely possible to cause delusions to the lone target, Kirei.

Was the unseen sniper really just a single person? Does this mean the one who controlled the illusion was the same? Or does this mean that there was someone else responsible for support…

Regardless, before the discovery of a counter to the illusion, he could only follow his opponent’s tempo. Kirei pulled out four black keys, throwing them simultaneously towards the four directions.

-As anticipated, there was no sign of contact anywhere.

Kirei, annoyed at the fruitless endeavor exhibited his frustration. At the same time, the bullet scored a direct hit on his back.

The third gunshot had even no scent that he could sense. That is to say, the first two attacks were designed feints in order to confuse Kirei. In theory, if an illusionary trap could control fake hints of murderous intents, it should be also possible to seal the true killing intent behind it.

Without even time to howl in pain the tall, robed figure fell face first, his feet tangled. There was neither a twitch nor moans of pain.  

Has she pierced the spine and killed him instantly? Maiya, deducting as such, stood up from her sniping location as she pointed the Calico at the prone Kirei and approached him cautiously.

“- Miss Maiya, no!”

Irisviel, sensing a trap, shouted a warning. But it was too late.

Kirei, maintaining his position, did not stand up. Instead, he threw a hidden Black Key with a single swing of his arms. From the lower trajectory, the black key ripped apart Maiya’s right calf, taking away her opportunity for the next action.

Like a spring, Kirei mechanically leapt as he suddenly charged toward Maiya. Fearlessly, Maiya pressed the trigger.

But Kirei only protected his head; he didn’t bother dodging. Even the sleeves of the monk’s robes were made from thick Kevlar filaments. It was covered seamlessly with the Church’s special protection spells. 9mm caliber pistol rounds, even at extremely close distances, cannot pierce it. Even then, the strikes from 250 foot-pound bullets, firing at 10 rounds per second, struck Kirei’s body like metal bats. However, he was able to completely protect his organs and bones because of his well-trained musculature that acted like armor.

Sensing that Kirei was bulletproof from head to top, Maiya immediately tossed the Calico and pulled out the combat knife located near her thigh. Kevlar, though protective against gunshots, was very vulnerable to the cutting of a sharp blade. If her gun was useless, she could only survive through melee combat.

As the hailstorm of bullets stopped, Kirei pulled out another pair of Black Keys with his hands. He slashed at Maiya with a cross shaped movement. Except, Maiya was not slowed in the slightest by her wounded right foot, and she deflected the continuous strikes of the Black keys with her heavy dagger.

Even though the edge of the Black Key was far longer than the dagger, it was still a modified throwing weapon. In close combat the Black Key, due to its extreme length, lacked balance; Maiya’s large dagger, due to its versatile nature, possessed overwhelming advantage.

“Victory is still possible ---!”

Maiya suddenly charged forward in what seemed to be a half-suicidal move. The Black Keys should have a very difficult time defending against such an attack, and even if she was struck in retaliation, the chances of being seriously wounded were low.

With the Black Key in his right hand, Kirei blocked Maiya’s dagger hand for hand. Perhaps he was relying on the length of the blade for a counter attack – the crisscrossed blade’s shadow lunged forward, its edge poised to strike.

Maiya, foreseeing the attack, easily dodged the counterattack. Simply moving her head a little, the tip of the Black Key missed her as she barged into her opponent’s embrace.

Yet, just when Maiya believed that victory was at hand, her gaze was drawn to Kirei’s unusual movements.

The point to a crisscrossing counterattack is that the crossed hands – the right hand, where Kirei should have held the Black Key was empty. As he lunged forward, he abandoned his weapon.

That is to say, Kirei’s right hand never had the intention of using the Black Key to pierce Maiya in the first place -

Like a clamp, the veiny fingers grabbed Maiya’s right hand.

Snakelike, the tall black-robe twisted his body deftly, and dived beneath Maiya’s right arm. In the next instant, as if supporting someone who is wounded, Kirei carried Maiya’s right arm with the back of his shoulder.

The exorcist who wielded the Black Keys – she was fooled by her prejudiced first impression. In deadly despair, the helpless Maiya finally understood. This movement is Chinese kungfu, Baji Quan. At the same time Kirei’s side pressed close to Maiya’s waist. Using his left elbow to land a blow at Maiya’s heart as simultaneously, a brilliant strike from his left foot struck Maiya’s supporting leg.

An amazing completion of “Six grand opening – elbow upthrust.” As he grabbed the hand holding the dagger, all the actions are completed in an instant. A combo worthy of the soul of Ba ji quan – combining offense and defense.

Maiya could not even move as she fell heavily to the ground. Due to the extreme level of impact, the paralyzed Maiya thought she had dislocated both her arms and legs. Subconsciously, she could only feel the sharp pain in her chest after it had been struck by the elbow. She probably had broken two, or three ribs.

Even though a single strike was capable of disabling Maiya. Kirei, however, was satisfied. Since now he knew Kiritsugu’s location, Kirei did not need to grant her any mercy. As he clenched his fist – ready to deliver the death-blow – at that time, he saw something that made him doubt his eyes.

The embarrassed Maiya was also surprised. It was already agreed upon, that prior to battling Kirei, Irisviel will only be supporting her from a hidden location. But she – Irisviel, who, except for magic, should have no other type of self-defense gently floated from the bushes and stood facing Kirei.

“Madam, no!”

Now, Maiya tossed away all her fears and embarrassment. To her, compared to her own danger, more serious question was the threat now to Irisviel.

If Kiritsugu were to lose his wife now – as someone who swore to protect him, there can be no danger that’s more despairing.

To Kirei, this situation was hard to comprehend.

He knew that Irisiviel and her family were not apt at using combat magic due to their specialization in alchemy. During the previous three Heaven’s Feels, they were helplessly defeated during the first rounds. Perhaps, that was also the reason for these northern magi being nearly useless in actual combat. Judging from the fact that they found the mercenary Kiritsugu, they must have reflected upon the issue.

Thus, in the situation where the female protector lay fallen on the ground, isn’t this most unlikely situation - the fact that the Einzbern family’s Master appearing alone in front of Kirei?

Kirei was fairly certain that the silver-haired maiden in front of him was Saber’s master. If she dies, then the Einzbern camp will undoubtedly be defeated.

This woman should be the key piece that must escape no matter what the cost is.

“Woman, you may be surprised, but my reason for coming here is not to defeat you.”

Before the enemy Master, the statement is equivalent to abandoning battle. Even though it is unlikely that his opponent will believe him, at least Kirei made the attempt to negotiate. This new developing was too far from what he had hoped for – meeting with Kiritsugu on the battlefield was his real goal. Compared to that goal, the situation of the Heaven’s Feel can only play second fiddle.

Of course, he didn’t expect his opponents to believe his words -

“I understand, Kirei Kotomine.”

-Because he did not anticipate the belief of the opposition. The silver-haired maiden’s reply only made Kirei more confused.

“I know why you’re here. Although, this is not negotiable. You cannot reach Kiritsugu…We will stop you. Here.”

“……”

To Irisviel, it was a good thing that the exorcist looked confused. The opponent clearly underestimated her, and his carelessness was her chance at victory. Perhaps, he knew the specialty behind Einzbern’s magic, and figured out that she was not a combat magician.

Irisviel pulled out the “secret weapon” hidden in her large sleeves. At first glance, it was no magic, but rather an unreliable item. A soft and thin metallic bouquet of wires dangled lightly between her fingers.

“Madam, this man is an executor – an expert magus hunter! This is not an opponent that can be faced with only magic!”

Maiya, suppressing her pain, screamed on the ground. In response, Irisviel only smiled quietly.

"What I learned from Kiritsugu, isn't limited to operating a car!"

As Maiya watched speechlessly and Kirei observed in surprise, Irisviel poured mana into the metallic threads. The thin threads became unraveled and moved between Irisviel hands like a living organism.

Kirei’s understanding was half correct. The Einzbern family possessed magic that was designed to forge, create, and more importantly, use matter. Kiritsugu could not have taught her any offensive magic. Originally, if one went solely by magical ability, Irisviel was far superior to her husband. Thus, Kiritsugu could not have taught her magic.

What he taught her was not how the homunculus lived. Rather, it was to use tears, laughter, joy and anger to sing about life – the meaning of the term “to live.”

In addition, he also taught her the determining to “live on.”

Kirei’s understanding was also half-wrong. Irisviel already had a method of turning her magic into offensive purposes as a “battle” state. It was something she learned from her husband, who always lived for battle – if she was to “live on” with him, she must face the test of “survival” one day. Thus, she will also need to face battle.

“Shape ist Leben!” (From German: "Shape is life!") [Furigana translation: "Shape, conceive life!"]

Through two small chants, weaving the magic in one breath. The control of metallic shapes was Irisiviel’s true skill.

This secret was peerless.

The silvery thread crisscrossed as it drew into complex shapes. It crisscrossed, combined, like a weaved piece of art as it took on a complex solid shape. Using a giant eagle as base, it appeared as an intricate silvery work of art.

The silvery thread crisscrossed as it drew into complex shapes. It crisscrossed, combined, like a weaved piece of art as it took on a complex solid shape. Possessing fierce wings and beaks, and sharp claws. Using a giant eagle as base, it appeared as an intricate silvery work of art.

No, wait, this was not a mere framework-

“Kyeeeee!!”

Like the sound of a metallic blade scratching, the eagle made out of silver threads screeched and flew from Irisviel's hands. It was created by an alchemy-using homunculus on the spot. It was a “weapon” given life by Irisviel, whose fate hangs in the balance.

The bullet-like flight far surpassed Kirei’s imagination. Surprised, he dodged the attack, but the razor-sharp beak still brushed past his nose.

As the first strike missed, the silver thread eagle started to circle above Kirei’s head. This time, both claws dashed downward. The target was Kirei’s face. Although, for an executor, this battle was not simply defensive. Fearless of the sharpness of those claws, he struck at the eagle with a powerful strike from his fist.

The sharply descending eagle could not change its flight path. The fist landed a clear blow on the abdomen of the eagle.   

“Mm!?”

Yet, Kirei was the one who was surprised. As the eagle was struck by his fist, it changed into shapeless silver thread and wrapped around his right fist like vines.   

Immediately, he pulled with his left hand, but the silver thread also trapped the other one. Only moments ago, the silver thread flew with an eagle’s shape in the air, but now, like handcuffs, it tightly trapped Kirei’s hands.

“….Hm.”

Yet, as an executor, Kirei has fought countless magi to the death. Only grunting lightly, he charged towards Irisviel. It didn’t matter if his hands were trapped – as long as he delivered a kick up close, the battle would be decided.

“Too naïve!”

Irisviel scolded as she poured more mana into the silver threads.

Not even Kirei can hold out this time. As he lost his balance, the silver threads wrapped around the tree tightly and pulled Kirei towards it. Finally, it bound him firmly towards the tree trunk

The grown tree was more than 30 cm thick. Even if Kirei wanted to use his outrageous strength, it was impossible for him to break or uproot the tree. At last, he was completely immobile.

And even then, Irisviel was the one who steadily lost her advantage underneath Kirei’s strength. In theory, Kirei’s hands should have been overpowered by the pressure generated by the silver thread. Yet, his muscles were trained to the point where they appeared steel-like, and they were powerful beyond all belief. Her silvery thread almost broke, as they struggled underneath the saturated state of near-collapse. In order to keep it tight and to prevent the metal from breaking, she must constantly use her mana to maintain it.

“…Maiya-san….hurry!”

The key to victory – was the still-prone Maiya. She was the only one who could give Kirei a final blow. As long as she stayed out of the range of his kicks, a simple shot to the exposed head was enough. For Kirei, it was impossible for him to cover his head with his sleeves like before.

As she received a momentary respite, the injured Maiya recovered sensation in her hands and feet. Moaning in pain from her broken ribs, she moved slowly to the abandoned Calico.

Victory or defeat is a battle of willpower measured by seconds – even though she clenched her teeth in pain from the magical backlash, Irisviel still encouraged herself.

Maiya picking up the gun to fire; as long as she can keep the thread’s strength to that point, it would be good. Then, they could eliminate Kirei Kotomine, the greatest threat to Kiritsugu.

It could be said that the two women still mistakenly underestimated the terror that is the Executor of the Church.

With no knowledge of Chinese kungfu, Irisviel thought that it was only necessary to bind Kirei’s hands to render him helpless. It was not her fault that she only thought like that. However, for someone who managed to reach the level of training such as Kirei, the entire body is a weapon. For example, if he only planted both feet on the ground…

“BOOM,” the deafening sound rendered Irisviel speechless.

The tree trunk shook erratically. As if struck by a full-powered fist. That means the sound she was hearing – only someone using his full strength to strike at the center of the tree could make that sort of sound.

The clear strike sounded again. This time, she started to doubt her ears. She heard a chilling sound of breakage.

She could not see the situation, but Irisviel understood through the touch of her silver thread. The tree trunk that bound Kirei had large cracks in it. The cracks were next to the part where the silver thread wrapped around – the spot directly below Kirei’s hands.

Kirei, with the back of his hands pressing against the bark, was striking at the tree trunk with all of his strength.

Irisviel could not have known – but the strength from a martial arts master is not merely produced from the wrist. From the strength of the feet on the ground, the turning of the back, and the twisting of shoulders, it was possible to instantaneously release a burst of power in the fists. To an expert in this phenomenon, the strength of the arm was insignificant in comparison to the power of the whole body. If it was necessary, one can press the fist next to the target and strike simply by virtue of the “force” coming from outside of the arm – this is known as the hidden technique of “explosive force.”

The sound of the third strike shook the forest. In comparison to the time before, this was much stronger. The tree trunk groaned one last time as the broken fibers broke with loud cracks. As the supporting point of the silvery thread, the trunk collapsed. Grabbing the thread with both of his hands, Kirei nonchalantly escaped the silvery ring at the point of collapse and pulled the thread apart link by link.

Irisviel knelt instantly as she felt the powerful backlash from the breaking of her magic. Calmly stepping forward in the manner of a victorious conqueror, Kirei looked into the despairing eyes of the two women and strode to the Calico, easily crushing its wooden frame with his hammerlike feet.

“Bastard......”

Still not being able to stand back up, prostrate, Maiya moaned viciously. After throwing at her an extremely bored glance, with the tip of his foot, Kirei casually kicked her at the stomach. As if sobbing convulsively, after Maiya fainted in agony and rolled over, she was perfectly still this time.

And then, with a look that lacked any expression, this time his gaze was laid on Irisviel.


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