Fate/Zero:Act 7 Part 4
"Woman, I will ask you a question."
Said Kotomine Kirei with a deep voice as he slowly walked towards the woman who, standing helplessly aside, had no ways of resistance left.
The black haired woman who served as her bodyguard, lying on the grond like a rag doll and already implacably beaten by him, was no longer a threat.
"Both of you seem to have challenged me in order to protect Kiritsugu. Whose intention is that?"
Kirei used one hand to grasp and softly raise the silent Einzbern's homunculus. Her statue-like, demure and beautiful face was torn apart by the grief inside her.
"I'll ask once again. Woman, under whose orders you two fought me?"
Kirei was really interested in this question's answer. Who was the person who set such a pointless obstacle in his path to Kiritsugu. That truth is very important for him.
But Kirei did see through one thing. No matter how he searched for them, there were no Command Seals on the body of the homunculus. She was not any Servant's Master. This recent, rash move was one that no Master would do.
In that case, it really was like what he and Tokiomi had known from the very beginning – Emiya Kiritsugu was indeed Saber's master, and these women were merely his pawns.
Now, the troublesome part.
If it was Kiritsugu who commanded these women to fight him, then he would have underestimated him. These women, as adversaries, were defeated by him without much effort.
There was also the possibility that someone else had ordered this. The main goal for the Einzbern was to conceal Kiritsugu, as a Master. For this purpose they would sacrifice anything. They were probably willing to sacrifice lives just to gain some time.
Still, every possibility led to this one question.
Kirei carefully looked again at the face of the silver haired girl who was gasping for oxygen. It was a doll-like face, too beautiful and well-crafted. Her red pupils were like rubies. She was exactly like the portrait of the "Lady of Winter", Lizleihi Justizia von Einzbern that was passed down through the ages.
This homunculus wasn't a Master, but she still participated in the Holy Grail War. So she should be the marionette with the responsibility of being the "Grail Vessel". Then she should be a being of great importance in the final stages of the Holy Grail War. To send such a pawn to the front line of the war, and expose her in midst of danger, it's definitely not a foolish move made by amateurs due to a lack of manpower.
Suddenly, Kirei felt a strange sense of weight on the tip of his toes, and looked down.
Kirei didn't notice it until now, because it was something so subtle and not worthy of notice. The weak, painful gasps that started from the ground were now beside Kirei’s feet without him knowing it.
With the body full of wounds, the black haired woman stretched out a trembling hand, and caught Kirei's right leg. Even though her grip was very weak, it was probably all the strength she has left in her body. Even if she had no strength to stand up or to clench her fists, those dim eyes were nonetheless burning with hatred and fixed upon Kirei unwaveringly.
Kirei, without a word, lifted his foot and trampled down mercilessly upon the chest of the woman with broken ribs. The woman who can’t even wail didn’t let out a sound of pain, just a tragic gulping sound produced by the air squeezed out from her lungs.
Even so, the woman didn't let her hands go. As if she was the driven by the current, firmly attached to a trunk, her weak hands grasped Kirei's arm, but she kept staring at Kirei with an expression of hatred.
Kirei moved his gaze back, and lifted up his gaze towards the silver haired woman lifted in midair.
The homunculus, although muffled and twisting her painful body, had no terror reflected in her face. If so, it's nothing special. If it's merely an imitation of humans, it's natural that it hasn't any feelings as fear towards the death or pain — but it doesn't seem like that. Because the red eyes of the homunculus staring at Kirei were certainly full of hate and anger.
Suspended in mid air and from the ground, both women looked furiously at Kirei, their eyes full of hatred.
"I won't let you pass from here."
"Even at the cost of my life, I'll stop you here."
Neither of the women answered Kirei's question. Who could have been the one who ordered them to attack Kirei?
No matter how the problem is looked at, there were always contradictions in the reasoning.
Then, Kirei thought about another situation.
What if these women weren't following any instructions, but actually acted accordingly to their own will, thus deciding to fight Kirei?
That was another possibility that couldn't be ignored.
Kirei suddenly felt a familiar spiritual body soundlessly arriving next to him. Assassin's words were transmitted directly to Kirei's mind.
"Caster, and Lancer, as well as his Master, already finished their battle. They've left the forest. Saber will catch up soon. My master, it’s very dangerous here."
Kirei coolly finished listening to Assassin's report, and nodded, disappointedly. It was pointless to do anything there. There was no chance to confront Servant Saber face to face. Instead, even retreating and escaping safely from there was dangerous now.
Now there's only one stratagem to be used – just to stop Saber's pursuit?
Kirei drew from his shirt his new black keys, and without hesitation, as if tearing up cloth, casually stabbed the silver-haired homunculus’s belly.
The artificial woman let out a silent cry, and blood flowed out from her mouth. So it was red – Kirei let out a bored sigh as he let the shaking body on his hand fall to the ground.
Hurting her was unavoidable. A few minutes should pass before she dies from blood loss. Save her, or let her die and chase Kirei: Saber will soon show up and will have to choose between those two demanding options.
It was done. Kirei, without a glance towards the dying women, took the path from where he came and started to gallop through the forest.
At the end of an event, there's no room for unnecessary thoughts. Regarding the two females that just entered the death match, there was nothing important or worthy to remember.
Despite this, as he galloped, the gazes of those two people were imprinted in Kirei's mind.
That was true hatred. Their killing intent were definitely not coming from their sense of duty or doing their job.
Those women were not trying to achieve victory for the Einzberns, but instead they were protecting that man, Emiya Kiritsugu. If it was the former, both women would probably be in the city with Kiritsugu, fighting their enemies. They didn't use this sort of steadfast battle tactics, but instead they were putting aside Kiritsugu and advancing defensively.
Even staying away from Emiya Kiritsugu, they were still willing to protect him. With a persistent desire to win a battle that can't be won.
What trust and expectations did those women had towards Kiritsugu? When the battle skills are in a totally different level and the victory is unreasonable, what were they protecting, trying to do?
A reason for someone to be so thoughtless and to do such a foolish thing, Kirei could only think of one.
If those two people were aiding Emiya Kiritsugu because of the faith they have in him, then all of their foolish actions were logical. But at the end, an important question appeared.
Women are frequently selfish beings. Sacrificing themselves to save him is something that can only be done when those two women fully accept him, fully comprehend him.
That was to say — Is Emiya Kiritsugu a being that could be comprehended by others?
"That's not possible..."
Kirei's throat made a moaning, whispering sound.
Those contradictions can't be occurring.
His expectations of Emiya Kiritsugu were completely overturned, an accident to his intuitions.
Emiya Kiritsugu was an empty man. It should be a man who was at the verge of emptiness but still hasn’t found a reason to fight. That's why Kirei was looking forward to him. He considered that deep in Kiritsugu's heart, in that kind of lifestyle, there should be the answer he was searching for.
If he wanted to do so, Kiritsugu must have been solitary. He mustn't be accepted and comprehended by anyone, thus becoming the master of a soul that has been separated from the world — Just like Kirei.
Kirei threw off the growing suspicions in his heart, as if escaping from those thoughts, and gritted his teeth as he ran through the forest alone.
Irisviel heard someone calling for her from far away, and dimly opened her eyes.
A familiar face and golden hair, shining even more beautifully as it reflected the light.
"Irisviel, hang on there! Irisviel!"
After Irisviel confirmed that it wasn't any other person but the girl that was the King of Knights, she was completely relieved by a sense of safety and nearly collapsed again.
"No! Keep your consciousness! I'll go call Kiritsugu right away. Hang on until then!"
"...Kirei.... Where is the enemy?"
Irisviel asked with a faint voice. Saber frowned regretfully as she answered.
"He escaped. If only I was here a bit earlier, this wouldn't have happened."
"...and Miss Maiya?..."
"Although she's also heavily wounded, they aren't life threatening. Yours are worse! The amount of blood coming out from this - "
Saber stopped halfway, astounded.
The blood that flowed out of Irisviel's abdominal wound until now suddenly stopped. Saber carefully rolled up the torn clothes and saw that it was all stained with blood but couldn't find any trace of the wounds on her smooth skin.
"—Sorry, I scared you."
Irisviel got up painlessly from Saber’s arm that was holding her up. Her face ought to be pale, but it already regained its color. The recent wound seemed like a mere illusion.
"It should be alright. Don't worry. Compared to magecraft used to heal others, healing myself is pretty easy... from the beginning, my body wasn't created as a human's body."
As Irisviel smiled gently towards Saber, whose eyes were wide of surprise, she apologized in her heart for lying to this incomparably trusting knight.
"It's actually thanks to you, Saber..."
Although Irisviel's body, from magecraft's perspective, is artificial, the art of self-healing when the practitioner is unconscious wasn’t added in. What healed her was a miracle that had nothing to do with Einzbern's magecraft.
The Noble Phantasm Avalon • All is a Distant Utopia – it heals all it's bearer's wounds, and even stops his aging. The sheath of the holy sword Excalibur. The artifact used back at the Einzbern's castle to summon Heroic Spirit Artoria was now sealed inside Irisviel as a conceptual weapon.
Normally, it should be a trump card that the Master, Kiritsugu, should equip. But then, serving as the front line substitute Master Irisviel's protection, he left this utmost defensive Noble Phantasm in the hands of his wife. Anyway, if its real owner Saber wasn't near supporting prana, the sheath wouldn't have any properties. To Kiritsugu, who decided from the start to act separately from Saber, it was a useless thing.
Kiritsugu, who didn't trust his own Servant, had carefully asked Irisviel not to tell Saber about the existence of the sheath for insurance. But Irisviel felt very uneasy in her heart about forcefully borrowing the Noble Phantasm of the King of Knights.
Even so, when its effects were confirmed, it was a truly astounding power. Before Saber arrived, Irisviel was undoubtedly in a critical state. Just by the touch of the hand of the king of knights, the wounds suddenly healed, and her strength rapidly recovered. It was nonetheless known as a miraculous Noble Phantasm.
Her Magic Circuit that Kirei broke by brute force should have malfunctions, but now it hadn't any problems. So now she should be able to smoothly use magecraft as always.
So the next thing should be treating Maiya's wounds. Unconscious, she was not dying, although she suffered serious wounds. Irisviel, looking at the wounds mercilessly done upon the body, realized again the terror of that man, Kirei.
The Executor was a monster. Whether facing firearms or magecraft, he only used his physical capabilities to pulverize Irisviel and Maiya's combined attack.
This is an enemy who should never be allowed to approach Kiritsugu – Irisviel bit her lips because of the intimidation of his presence.
This victory could be called a miracle attained from the persistence. But it was clearly luck. If Saber had been slightly delayed in the battle with Caster or Lancer, Kirei would have reached the castle deep within the forest.
This wasn't the end. Next time, Kirei will challenge Emiya Kiritsugu again.
"But it's not only me who is protecting Kiritsugu... right, Miss Maiya?"
Maiya's pained expression had become serene because of being anesthetized in preparation for healing her. She hadn't regained consciousness yet, and without the usual rejecting, sinister expression on her sleeping face, she just seemed an innocent girl.
She should hate her. Irisviel wasn't inhuman anymore. Because her soul became one of a woman, a wife who loved a man. But now, Irisviel must thank Hisau Maiya. Because it was Maiya who told Irisviel her objectives in this War.
"Next time we must win. We'll protect him together..."
After setting a new oath, Irisviel began to concentrate on healing Maiya's bruised body.
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