Fate/Zero:Act 7 Part 3

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Anger, like acid, was eating away at Kayneth drop by drop.

He is a first-rate magus. He would never lose his composure due to emotions, especially when facing a situation when he is fighting for his life.

Actually, if this is a duel of secret craft between first-rate magi colleagues, Kayneth wouldn’t be harboring things like anger at all. He would probably admire and acknowledge the opponent’s ability, calmly analyzing its true value, and concentrate in performing his magecraft that would serve as a proper reply for the enemy’s craft. Those noble and flamboyant, gentlemanly games are what Kayneth knew as ‘battles’. With the right to use the Holy Grail at stake, he aimed to compete with Tōsaka Tokiomi, Matō Zōken, and four other unknown yet outstanding opponents, and arrived at this desolate place at the farthest east.

However – the pain of the wound on his right shoulder throbbed and invaded his senses as if mocking Kayneth, continuing the pain as if it was humiliating him.

This isn’t a wound taken in battle. Those things – are never fit to be called "battles".

It was as if he stepped on a piece of rotten floor board. As if he tipped over a steaming pot. As if his best suit got stained with mud.

The opponent is as insignificant as an ant, not worthy to be called an enemy. A piece of rubbish that even seeing it would make him feel dirty and unpleasant.

To feel "anger" at something like that, and risk his pride as Lord El-Melloi, would be unthinkable.

These things are just daily hassles. Something close to being bitten by a stray dog.

It was just bad luck. Dismiss it as a simple misfortune.

Even as he tried to convince himself in this way – he screamed at the pain of the wound on his shoulder. The severe pain that felt like he was slowly being burnt tormented him and ate away at his pride.

Kayneth’s icy cold face was as expressionless as a mask, not loudly swearing or gritting his teeth. For an observer, that is definitely not the expression of someone in anger.

Indeed. He didn’t hate anyone. All his anger was directed inwards. It was merely that he was provoked by a situation that surprised him – something that is impossible, unreasonable.

Impossible –

The rage that had nowhere to go became destructive impulses that spread to Volumen Hydrargyrum. Kayneth smashed the walls of the corridors around him with his whips of blades.

That base scum made me bleed... impossible! It shouldn’t have happened!

His walk resembling a sleep-walker, Kayneth pursued Emiya Kiritsugu, who had fled. The shapeless mercury lump, taking the place of its master’s heart, followed him, full of murderous intent.

The door that blocked his way wasn’t pushed open, but smashed apart by the mercury's weight.

Be it flower vases, paintings, or elegant furniture: all the decorations that happen to fall into his sight are smashed and destroyed.

There were many traps along the way. Wires tripped by Kayneth's defenseless feet, or a fuse in the carpet that when stepped on would cause a pre-set grenade to explode or a mine to throw out shrapnel. At those times, the mercury protective membrane would expand immediately and rush forward to block it.

Those set traps were like toys made to fool children, so ridiculous that Kayneth wanted to laugh. But the sound of his laughter was at the same time mocking Kayneth, who was hurt by those tricks that were like toys made to fool children.

Self-mockery cut into pride like a razor. That humiliation inflamed the anger in his heart even more.

Lord El-Melloi’s admirable Mystic Code isn’t something that is made for this kind of foolish tricks. His mercury should be a weapon that takes in Gandr shots, deflects magical swords, and breaks through supernatural fire, ice and lightning. It should be a craft that makes whichever magus who hates him marvel, revere, and at the same time arrive at death.

Then, what would his current distasteful situation be?

The opponent that he unleashed his proud Mystic Code to chase is nothing more than an anonymous mouse... Every passing second was making him feel humiliated. The wound on his shoulder was hurting worse and worse.

An endless hysterical downward spiral – however, that had also come into sight of its conclusion.

No matter how big the castle may be, the possibilities of escape become limited if one runs upwards. The mouse finally got chased to the end of the corridors in the third floor. The stream of mercury that Kayneth sent out earlier to find the enemy accurately located him this time. Looks like the target had set himself to stay firmly where he is. He should have decided to have the final confrontation with Kayneth at that place.

Confrontation – as that word floated into Kayneth’s mind, he couldn’t help but let out a laugh.

Seems like the enemy still hasn’t given up. So that’s how it is. He had wounded Kayneth once, so there should still be a chance of victory if the same luck decided to grace him again. He should have made this final decision with all the spirit of a desperate mouse trying to bite the cat.

"Idiot..."

Kayneth’s tight mouth became twisted with his sneer as he muttered.

It wasn’t because of his skills or outstanding strategies that the mouse managed to touch Kayneth. It was just an unreasonable coincidence. There’s a need to make sure he knows the difference.

Not a confrontation. This is execution. This is slaughter.

Kayneth, as his body filled of his cruel intention to kill, turned the final corner with his Mystic Code and arrived at the end of the corridor.


It basically fitted the setting Emiya Kiritsugu expected. The third confrontation with Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald.

The distance was barely thirty meters. The width of the corridor was just over six meters. There are no places to hide. No place to retreat.

Kayneth’s Volumen Hydrargyrum has potentially fatal speed and power within a radius of seven-and-a-half meters. The initiative remains with Kiritsugu until Kayneth can get in range.

In his left hand – fifty rounds of 9mm bullets in a fresh helical magazine, the Calico waited for the moment to open fire.

And his Mystic Code, the Contender Custom, in his right hand. The "magecraft bullet" was already loaded in the single-shot chamber.

Kiritsugu didn’t show any fear or beg for mercy; he merely stood silently holding two guns. This made Kayneth even more unpleasant and twisted his expression as he uttered mocking jeers.

“You wouldn’t think that the previous method would still work, right? Despicable thing.”

It won’t work. It would be a problem for Kiritsugu if it did work – however, he needn’t tell the other person this. He needed to have Kayneth think that Kiritsugu is stupid enough to repeat the exact same attack.

"I won’t just simply kill you. I’ll only heal your lungs and heart to make them revive, then I’ll slowly deal with you starting from your toes."

Kayneth said sinisterly as he slowly walked towards Kiritsugu step by step. The Volumen Hydrargyrum twirled beside him, flexing its countless whips dauntingly as it shook their sharp tips.

"Die in regret, in pain, in despair. And curse when you die. Curse the cowardice of your employer... the Einzbern Master who humiliated the Holy Grail War!"

Right – Kiritsugu sniggered within his heart as he regarded Kayneth’s proclamation of execution as nothing more than a breeze beside his ear. It seems the Master substitution plan he proposed worked at the end.

Fifteen meters. If he was to make a move, it would be now.

Towards Kayneth, who was looming nearer, Kiritsugu first used the Calico in his left hand, firing a rain of 9mm bullets in full-automatic. It was a completely identical replay of that sneak attack in the first floor corridor, a pinning attack made to trigger Volumen Hydrargyrum’s automatic defence. In order to make it unable to take the following strike by the Contender, this is a feint made to weaken the mercury’s defensive membrane.

Of course, Lord El-Melloi would not fall for the same trick twice.

“Fevor, mei sanguis!”

The mercury’s defensive form activated immediately, but this time it wasn’t a membrane. Volumen Hydrargyrum leapt in front of its master and formed countless spikes from the floor to the ceiling. It was like a thick bamboo forest covered Kayneth’s entire body, and at the same time completely blocked all the bullets flying near.

There’s no need to use a membrane as defense if he wasn’t facing an attack such as flames or mist. Things such as bullets would become harmless as long as it is not allowed to move in a straight line. Thus, using only “columns” to defend would be enough.

Of course, the prana needed to expand the mercury into a mountain of swords isn’t even comparable to that used to form a membrane. Every single spike, twirled as thin as a steel wire, had to be equipped with all the strength and malleability to deflect bullets. The automatic defense this time was completed using all the prana Kayneth had in his possession. The inherited Magic Crests of the Archibald family on his shoulders circulated to its ultimate limit, creating extraordinary pain to the practitioner.

It could be said that the defense this time was the true impregnable fortress.

The bullets, hindered by the silver mountain of swords, bounced back and forth in the gaps between the numerous spikes, making raucous metallic noises. Finally, they lost all power and dropped to the ground. Not one of them reached Kayneth’s body.

Then, the Contender in Kiritsugu’s right hand gave a roar. This is the single-shot bullet that made Kayneth bear his despicable scar the first time it penetrated Volumen Hydrargyrum’s defenses, something with far more destructive power than the 9mm bullets.

However, the degree of defence the mercury mountain of swords put up wasn’t even comparable to that of the membrane.

All the spikes closed up together like a Venus flytrap the instant before the killing move touched the mercury spikes, and surrounded the bullet. The thick cluster thin spikes became a single giant column in the blink of an eye, completely sealing off the .30-06 Springfield bullet.

Volumen Hydrargyrum, made to interchange forms freely, showed what marvels it can do. The immaculate skill that controlled the magecraft of fluidics to such perfection should indeed be the epitome of this unparalleled craft, fully worthy of the prestigious name of the Archibald house.

The moment he beautifully completed this magecraft he devoted all his skills in – Lord El-Melloi’s destiny also came to its end.


※※※※※


Even a Master and a Servant, whom had made a contract, have to use communication techniques such as speech to establish a connection between them when they are far away from each other.

But if the two of them are connected with the bondage of the Command Seal, then one party would quickly detect a disturbance in the other’s scent if the other is in a life-threatening crisis.

Therefore, Kayneth’s dire situation swiftly passed to Lancer, who was still in the forest.

"What – !?"

Lancer suddenly turned to gaze at the direction of the Einzbern castle straight after he destroyed Caster’s army of demonic monsters, just when he was prepared to finish off their nemesis with Saber. For the first time, Lancer realized the fact that his Master, whom he thought was observing his battle behind the frontline, had already entered the enemy formation and undertook another battle.

Lancer’s momentary wavering was a god-sent opening for the desperate Caster.

Within Caster’s hand, having already finished regenerating, Prelati's Spellbook throbbed with torrents of prana. Of course, Saber wouldn’t stand aside and leave the magus’s spells alone.

"Futile struggles!"

Saber wielded her holy sword with her right hand and rushed forward, trying to defeat the enemy before he could complete his incantation.

But Caster wasn’t foolish enough to pronounce incantations in front of a blade. He didn’t speak even one syllable of incantations, just chaotically let out the surge of prana that the Noble Phantasm produced.

Although the previous summoning magecraft was nullified, the pools of blood that stained the ground were still connected to the prana. The uncontrollable prana that spurt out flowed into that mesh of blood, but finally scattered apart without forming any shapes.

"Ku..."

Her sight was blocked off before she got close enough to strike; even Saber didn’t take a rash move and stopped her steps.

Caster didn’t intend to complete the spell to begin with, but forcibly activated a magecraft that was bound to fail. That would be enough in this situation. The blood that didn’t form any summoned monsters immediately boiled and evaporated due to the saturated prana in them, spreading out in all direction as a fog. This is an imprudent skill that could only be used with the enormous amount of prana provided by a Noble Phantasm.

What he expected – was a blinding mist.

Even Caster, overloaded with confidence, deducted that it would be impossible to reverse the situation and arrive at victory at this state. The magus Servant quickly removed materialization in the time while the bloody mist covered Saber and Lancer’s sight. Faced with two of the three knight classes, he didn’t even get to leave a word behind. Swallowing his anger and humiliation, Caster rapidly left the battlefield in spiritual form.

Luckily for Caster, Saber doesn’t have the ability to turn into spirit form and chase him; Lancer, who has that ability, could not chase him due to his Master’s crisis.

“Bastard... what unbelievable cowardice.”

Saber muttered in anger as she recalled Invisible Air from the surrounding atmosphere. The refreshing wind immediately blew in from all direction and scattered the filth of the blood mist. When the two Servants regained their field of sight and Invisible Air was recalled to once again conceal the holy sword’s form, even Caster’s spiritual aura had disappeared, not to mention his physical figure.

“Lancer, what’s wrong?”

Regarding the fact that Lancer could easily have chased their enemy but instead let Caster escape, Saber didn’t heckle him but just questioned calmly. It was obvious that something happened based on his changed expression.

“My lord is in trouble... Looks like he left me and attacked your headquarters.”

Lancer explained hesitantly. Saber also figured what had probably happened, and displayed a dejected expression.

Then... everything did happen according to Kiritsugu’s plans.

It wasn’t what she wanted. It wasn't that she wanted to completely deny the tactic of deception, but the cruel trap that Kiritsugu set is an existence that can not co-exist with the King of Knights’s belief of standing stoically in the battlefield no matter what happens.

"It must be my Master’s work... Lancer, you should hurry. Go save your lord."

The spearman was at first dumbfounded at Saber’s unhesitating urging, but then bowed his head deeply in thanks. For Saber, this decision was the same as going against her own lord. Retain Lancer here so his Master can be killed would be the reasonable choice made to win the Holy Grail War.

But if we continue on this train of thought, then there was no need for Lancer to fight Caster to save Saber from her crisis. He didn’t think of himself as stupid then. Therefore, he wouldn’t think of Saber, who let him go on his way, as foolish now.

"I am in your debt, King of Knights."

"It’s all right. We swore to have a duel between knights. Let’s hold on to that glory till the end."

Lancer nodded briefly, then disappeared into spirit form. Just like that, he galloped towards the castle in the depth of the forest as a whirl of wind.


※※※※※


When the Emiya family of the previous generation determined the "Origin" of their son and heir, at a loss they named him "Kiritsugu" due to the strange results.

Basically, he possesses the dual attributes of "Fire" and "Earth". To be specific, they were composite attributes, "Severing" and "Binding". That is the form of his soul that was born with him, and the true form of his "Origin".

Sever, and bind – it’s not exactly the same as being called "destruction and rebirth", because Kiritsugu’s Origin has no meaning of "recovery". For example, a string that is cut and then connected again would have change of thickness at the point where the knot is tied. That is, the action of 'severing and binding' would cause irreversible "corruption" in the target.

Kiritsugu became particularly aware of his Origin when he was asked to complete some hands-on work. His hands weren’t very skilled. If a normal contraption breaks down, he could fix it. But if it comes to delicate machinery then everything would suddenly become the opposite. The more he wanted to fix it, the worse the damage would become for the machine.

As a matter of fact, Kiritsugu’s handcraft isn’t extraordinary. If a normal metal wire snapped, the original function can be restored by just connecting it back together. However, if he were to fix a delicate electric circuit using the same principles, the result would be fatal. It wasn’t something that would work as long as everything is connected. If the connections become out of order, the circuit would lose its function.

This wasn't something created by Kiritsugu’s personality or temperament; from magecraft’s point of view, it is the true essence of the root deep within his soul.

Emiya Kiritsugu utilized his extraordinary "Origin" to its fullest extent when he created his Mystic Code. The first and second ribs on both sides were cut off and taken out of his body. The extracted ribs were grinded into dust, condensed with a craft to preserve the soul, and sealed within sixty-six bullets as their core.

These bullets would actualize Kiritsugu’s "Origin" on the target when it hits. If it were to hit a living creature then there would be no wounds or bleeding, but the place where it was hit would appear to be suffering necrosis. The surface may seem to have healed, but the nerves and capillaries wouldn’t be regenerated properly and the original function would be lost.

Moreover, as a Conceptual Weapon, this bullet poses an even graver threat to magi in particular.

Kiritsugu had already used thirty-seven bullets, but not a single one of them was wasted. The bullets that were made using a part of his body had already completely destroyed thirty-seven magi.

Now, the thirty-eighth "Origin Bullet" severed a new sacrifice’s life force.

Kayneth probably didn’t comprehend what was happening to his body until the end. The moment that the excruciating pain spread into his body, all of his vital organs and nerves had already been torn into a shapeless mess.

Before a scream escaped his throat he was already spurting out blood. All the muscles in his body were sent into spasms with uncoordinated movements conducted by a nervous system that was on the edge of being broken; the lean body clad in the chic suit began to perform a ridiculous dance.

Using intense pressure to make the densely-packed prana, circulating in the Magic Circuits, suddenly begin to ignore those paths and flow chaotically, destroying the practitioner’s body in the process. The moment Volumen Hydrargyrum blocked the Contender’s strike, Kayneth suffered damages more severe than getting directly hit by a bullet.

When Kiritsugu’s magecraft bullet is interfered by magecraft, the impact of the "Origin" within the bullet would affect all the way down to the Magic Circuits of the practitioner.

If we were to compare a magus’s Magic Circuits as a high-voltage power cable, Kiritsugu’s bullet would be a drop of water. What would happen if a conductive liquid attached to a thickly-placed electrical circuit? The short-circuiting current would destroy the circuit itself, resulting in permanent damage.

Just like that, shorting out Magic Circuits is the terrifying effect of Kiritsugu’s Mystic Code.

In order to avoid the damage of Kiritsugu’s magecraft bullets, one has to discard all magecraft and purely defend the bullet by physical means. On that point, Kiritsugu’s choice of using .30-06 Springfield bullets is a malicious one. There isn’t something that can completely block this specialized hunting rifle round to begin with. This is a type of bullet that excelled in penetration. As long as one isn’t in an armored vehicle, one can’t avoid getting hurt.

Only one shot. That would be enough. Kiritsugu dared to choose a gun that doesn’t suit real combat, the Thompson Contender, as his Mystic Code, due to the fact that it is the handgun that can deal the maximum physical damage possible.

Kiritsugu placed his finger on the spool of the trigger guard when his beloved gun finished its duty and swung the long barrel downwards as if throwing off a blood stain. The empty cartridge flew from the opened magazine into the empty air with the momentum, falling onto the marble floor with a faint trace of sulfur.

Kiritsugu felt nothing for this victory. This was exactly the same as all the times before, a successful taunt with a calculated conclusion. That is all.

The destructive power of Kiritsugu’s magecraft bullet depends on how many Magic Circuits were activated within the target the moment the bullet hit, since what destroys the practitioner’s body would be his own prana. On this point, it was absolutely fatal for Kayneth. Since he was provoked continuously and used the utmost amount of prana he had, he granted Kiritsugu the best result he could hope for.

Even the mighty Volumen Hydrargyrum was finished if the practitioner’s prana was cut off. Kayneth lay recumbent in the sea of mercury that reverted to its original shape and spread all over the floor, his body twitching slightly. The former Lord El-Melloi was now as harmless as a baby. Let alone the power of a magus, his body may not even be spared a normal human’s functions.

Although he was going to die sooner or later if left alone, Kiritsugu’s principle is to give a concrete final blow to a fallen enemy. He switched the Calico into semi-automatic and walked towards Kayneth, who already resembled a breathing corpse. He was going to fire one shot into his head at critical distance. Then, one of the seven groups of people fighting for the Holy Grail would have dropped out.

But just then, Kiritsugu felt a mighty aura of prana approaching him with intimidation and frowned.

Unhesitatingly, Kiritsugu held up the Calico and took aim, firing repeatedly towards Kayneth. But the bullet emitted sparks in the empty air and sprayed in all directions and disappeared. It was the twin spears of red and yellow that performed movements too fast for eyes to see.

Facing Lancer, who materialized on a position set to protect Kayneth, Kiritsugu was gobsmacked. Stopped by the enemy’s Servant at this time; this was definitely unexpected.

Originally, Kiritsugu thought that Saber intercepted Lancer, based on the fact that Kayneth entered the castle alone. But if so, then how did the spearman get past the King of Knights? If Saber was defeated, Kiritsugu would have confirmed that the recipient of his prana had disappeared. However, Kiritsugu’s prana was definitely still being absorbed by Saber, who still existed somewhere. His Servant was wholesome without a doubt.

Then, there’s only one conclusion – he could only deduce that Saber voluntarily stepped out of Lancer’s way.

Lancer stared at Kiritsugu, who was mentally wavering, with a look as cold as ice. He shifted both spears into his right hand, emptying out his left hand to scoop up Kayneth’s body. Kiritsugu didn’t rashly attack this apparently defenceless move. He had just confirmed that bullets are useless to Servants.

"– You should understand just how easy it is to pierce you through right here, Saber’s Master."

For Lancer, had he not heard what Saber just said to him, he would find it very hard to deduce that this man in front of him, who looked nothing like a magus, is in truth the Einzbern Master. However, he knew his lord Kayneth’s strength. If he managed to break through Lord El-Melloi's magecraft, there are no grounds left for suspicion.

However – no, just because of that, Lancer’s spear tip didn’t point towards Kiritsugu.

"I won’t let you kill my Master. I won’t kill Saber’s Master either. Neither I or her want to end in this way."

"..."

Is that so? – Kiritsugu once again regretted the conflicting personalities between himself and his contracted Servant.

“Never forget. The only reason that your life is spared now is the King of Knight’s nobility.”

Lancer declared this to Kiritsugu, his tone carrying a cool sarcasm. Then he took up Kayneth and leapt out of the castle, using his torso to break the glass window.

Kiritsugu wasn’t as foolish as to chase them. Just like Lancer said, that would be a completely suicidal move. Since Saber wasn’t here, there was nothing Kiritsugu could do.

No, even if Saber is beside him, would Kiritsugu entrust this to her?

Although Lancer, the Heroic Spirit Diarmuid, is also naive, it was Saber’s idiotic chivalry, which rivalled Lancer, which completely exceeded Kiritsugu’s capacity of comprehension.

Her mind probably believed very firmly that Lancer would not kill Kiritsugu. There must be something wrong with her. How could the King of Knights do such a thing like permitting her own Master to be exposed to the enemy’s Servant alone? If Lancer decided to go back on his word, then her Holy Grail War would end right there. Even if that spearman had no such thoughts, if Kayneth remained conscious he could have used a Command Seal to demand it of him. Didn’t she even think of such a possibility?

Kiritsugu contemplated this appropriately, and lit the cigarette in his mouth.

How ironic. A Heroic Spirit who single-handedly created an extremely foolish trust with an enemy Servant, while she had great estrangements with her own Master.

It looked like he should have chosen his Servant more carefully after all – only then did Kiritsugu feel this failure with a pang, and puffed out the hazy smoke with a sigh.



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