Fate/Zero:Act 8 Part 2
The roar of waves lapping against the shore.
At the beach, perhaps the break of dawn was not far away, for the ashen ray of light which illuminated the river bank was overshadowing the light mist with whiteness.
The sandy beach continued endlessly towards both left and right. The sea surface was enveloped in a white frost, and its frontier could not be seen. The masked landscape, was it a land opposite the shore? A faraway horizon? Or, was there nothing at that side?
Besides the restless roar of the waves, there was absolute silence.
With no clouds on the sky and no winds at the land, even if there were any kind of human activities, they would be far away from this shore.
Going forward continuously, going forward continuously only towards the east, leaving every single thing in this world behind at the west; and with that, reaching the desolate, empty coast.
That is why surely, at the other side of the mist, there was absolutely nothing.
Above that, the world did not exist earlier, and moreover, an expedition was impossible. This place was- the sea of the extremity of this world.
By just closing one's eyes, he could hear the roar of the waves.
That was permitted to no one but the one who went to the extreme end of the world. The melody of the roaring sea became distant-
He had seemingly dozed off lying on the desk.
With his shoulders stiffened due to his unreasonable posture, despite moaning with the pain as if he was numbed, Waver lifted his face.
He had a feeling that he was seeing a somewhat strange dream. A dream which he could see clearly, despite having no sense of himself; a dream as if he was peeping into someone else's memory.
The day had already darkened. Looks like he had accidentally wasted his time by dozing off for a very long time. He clicked his tongue at his own carelessness. Right now, there was seemingly nothing more valuable than time.
Every Master was scrambling to get Caster's head on the platter. The supplement of a Command Seal as a reparation to whoever managed to accomplish it the fastest......He did not even expect any hands to let this off. Especially for Waver, the runaway who has Alexander as his Servant, the injunction authority of the Command Seals could also be called as the “last resort”. He would not hand it over, whatever the circumstances.
No matter who the heroic spirit is, if it is of the class Caster, it is not wrong to say that he is a Servant who is someone full of tricks up his sleeves. The one who can challenge him head on without any plans, is someone like Saber's class which boasts of strong magic resistance skill. As for Rider, a class separate from the three knights; generally, he would have no choice but to face him with some strange strategy in hand. In reality, he judged that Alexander's magic resistance is about D level......he had no choice but to do with that consoling amount of defense.
Because of that, the best way thing to do when he faces Caster, is to skillfully tempt Saber towards Caster, as if he was going to fight Saber; and to wait for their drop out. However, the supplementary Command Seal he was striving for at great lengths, would elude him. Proposing an alliance with Saber to collaborate with them to hunt Caster down would be a poor plan. If he were to think of fighting forward in the Holy Grail war advantageously, not outwitting the others here would be meaningless.
A whole day and night after the announcement at Fuyuki church. For the time being, he had directed Rider to investigate about it, an idea which had struck him. Intending to work out a strategy, Waver had stayed back at his house, but......distressed, he finally fell asleep; because of which, that arrogant Servant would say something sarcastic to him.
No, it would be great if he finished off with just ordinary sarcasm- Recalling the pain due to the innumerable times of pokes at his forehead, Waver grasped his forehead reflexively. He hated that already. Sooner or later, won't it cause a crack at his skull?
Whilst thinking about that, Waver heard brisk footsteps coming up the staircase from the downstairs, and froze. Come to think of it, it was about time the old woman finished the dinner preparations and came up to call Waver. Right now, the things which were suspicious-looking were- for the time being, not there.
After a humble knock, the voice of the old woman could be heard, but its message was completely different from what Waver expected.
“Waver-chan, Alex-san has arrived.”
Who? As he was about to ask back, an extremely disturbing hunch struck Waver's mind.
How could this be? Just as he thought that, gahaha!, a hearty laughter in a loud voice arose from the living room downstairs.
“......WAIT a minuteeeeeeeee!?”
His expression changing, Waver bolted out of his room, and without so much as a glance at the dumbstruck old woman, he ran down the stairs as if he was half-tumbling down, and leaped into the dining kitchen at which dinner preparation was starting.
The television was on every night's variety. Glenn, the old man who enjoys having beer to go along with the starter. In the usual dinner view, there was about one extra foreign object within it.
Balancing his big frame dangerously, sitting on the guest chair, “Yo!” that Servant lifted his hand relaxedly, after which, “Gulp gulp,” drained the cup into which beer had been poured.
“Wow, what a pleasant drink!”
Holding a bottle in his hand and advancing onto the next one, Glen-shi who had acquired this drinking partner, was completely delighted.
“Our Waver as well. After coming back from England, I had hoped that he would feel alcohol at least once, but he still can't do it. I have been so bored until now!”
“Hahaha, that's because he doesn't know how to enjoy himself. 'People who enjoyed life will win,' I had always been trying to tell him that.”
A friendly chat between the old man and the King of Conquerors. At this spectacle which appeared to not just be a bad joke, Waver could not even say a word.
Returning to the kitchen after that, with a troubled look on her face, the woman tapped Waver's shoulder.
“You can't be like that. If a guest is coming, you have to tell me earlier. If I had known about that, I would have prepared a better feast. Geez.”
Smiling at Waver who was somewhere else, Rider shook his head.
“No no madam, please don't trouble yourself. That's because a simple home-like style is the best hospitality.”
“Hmm. You are quite good at compliments.”
Ohoho, the laughing wife was completely caught up in Rider's cheerful pace. Looks like Waver was the only one who had become “unreadably” still in this atmosphere.
“As you have known, our Waver is that sort of temperamental person, right? I can't help but to worry if he is getting along fine in the school in England. If he has such a dependable person like you, sir, as a good friend, looks like I have worried too much for nothing!”
“No no. He is the one who has been of help to me. Even these trousers, he had chosen and bought it for me. Looks great on me, doesn't it!”
At the time when he was entrusted with external businesses, Waver got stuck with buying stuff for him, and bought an XL-size washed-jeans for Rider, which he proudly showed off. It was still a mystery as to how on earth the conversation between the two worked out, but at any rate, Waver was at last, beginning to understand what type of person “Alex-san” to the Mackenzie couple is.
As for the old couple who were cast suggestion upon using magecraft, Waver is their grandson, furthering his studies abroad in England. But for Rider, he is passed off as a friend Waver met during his voyage, and has boldly paid the Mackenzie residence a visit, thus settling down at a seat at the dinner table- this is seemingly the chain of events.
He thought about how the old couple could believe Rider so easily- probably it was because of Rider's huge size which forced them to do so.
“Alex-san, until when do you plan to be in Japan?”
“Er, well, until I settle some minor business, that's about, close to a week.”
“If it's okay, hey, how about staying at our house? Unfortunately, we don't have a small room to be used as a guest room, but if a futon is spread out on Waver's room, one more person should be able to sleep there, right? Hey, Waver?”
“FUTON? Ooh, this country's bedding! I really want to enjoy it to the fullest!”
“HAHAHA. Sleeping on the floor instead of a bed; it would feel strange during the times when you are still not used to it. Although we have been here for a long time, we were really surprised by it at the beginning!”
“That thing is the appeal of this foreign country huh. I like the surprises of unknown things. No matter what age it is, I would always enjoy Asia!”
Although he had unintentionally betrayed himself by using the first person pronoun, without even the slightest hint of recognition, old man Glen nodded with a smile on his face.
“Come now, it's about time the meal was ready. Waver-chan, please take your seat as well.”
Being urged by the old wife, Waver sat down on his chair, dispirited. The seat on which he was already supposed to get used to sitting, no matter what he did tonight, was still uncomfortable.
Although dinner had suddenly changed from the everyday one, displaying a grandeur similar to a semi-feast, eventually, Waver was silent from the start till the end. Sitting beside Rider who was laughing heartily and unreservedly, he did not even feel the taste of the food he put into his mouth.
“―So, what the heck are you doing??”
After finishing dinner, Rider went back to the room again, holding a futon set borrowed from the landlord under his armpit. And then, Waver started off by questioning the Servant.
“What......If I were to enter the main door normally, an excuse is absolutely necessary right?”
“When you come in and out, TURN INTO SPIRITUAL FORM! I HAVE TOLD YOU SO MANY TIMES!!”
Confronting Waver, who threw a tantrum and was half-crying, Rider became disappointed instead.
“But I can't bring this in if I turn into spiritual form...”
Saying that, the object the giant showed was a small sports bag brought into the room under the pretext of being a travelling hand luggage.
“I dunno what it is, but bringing this thing back is my duty for the day isn't it? For this sake, you had even openly given me these trousers. In the first place, the one who ordered me was you, wasn't it?”
“That's why I said......If you would just place that thing in front of the house secretly, I can just go and get it afterwards. That's all!!”
“If that's the case, isn't it the same if I enter the main entrance openly and think of an excuse? ―Or should I say, in the first place, what the heck is this!?”
With a rather unsatisfied expression, Waver took the bag Rider held out, and inspected the contents.
There were altogether twenty-four test tubes being plugged by stoppers. As for those containers which were differentiated from their handwritten alphabetical labels, all of them were sealed with colourless and transparent liquids.
“Finally, I can wear trousers. I had wanted to take a stroll down some lightened up areas―But for me, the King of Conquerors, why did you want me to go to a country-like riverside to draw water?”
“That's much more meaningful than munching rice crackers and watching the television, that's why.”
Waver swiftly cleared the table, and removed the whole set of experiment tools, one of the few valuable items he brought from his school dormitory in London. He then prepared the operation.
Vials into which ores and reagents were filled, spirit lamp mortar, droppers......At those apparatus which were lined up on the desk one by one, the King of Conquerors frowned.
“What is this? So you plan to start off with some make-believe alchemy?”
“It's the real thing, not make-believe. Idiot.”
While replying disappointedly, Waver set up the test tubes Rider brought back in the tube rack according to the labels. And then he selected the complementary reagents, and mixed them together. This was just something which was repeated many times in the Clock Tower as the basic subject. As for the amount, even with his eyes closed, he would not go wrong.
“Just to be sure, but you're sure that you did not make any mistake with the places drawn on the map?”
“Are you looking down on me, boy? What could possibly go wrong with something of such standard?”
Grumbling, Rider tossed the folded up map to Waver. Fuyuki city's complete map. Besides that, with a roughly fixed interval, alphabets filled the map alongside the Mion River from the river mouth upstream.
The inscriptions on the map were marked with labels from the test tubes Rider brought back. The liquid content was the water of the Mion River retrieved from designated spots along the river. As for Rider who wanted to go out in the materialized form no matter what, with his buying clothes for Rider as a condition, Waver ordered him to collect the river water. As expected, leaving whether Rider would be of use or not aside, it seems that it was a more useful task than ordering him out for something like a useless walk.
“......What am I doing?”
Silently, he made progress on the preparation of the reagents, and as if going back to the elementary department at Clock Tower, Waver was quite unhappy. He who should be participating glamorously in the Holy Grail war as a Servant's Master, why is he repeating such plain and boring work again?
Whilst letting out a melancholic sigh, he plugged the reagents which were fully mixed with a stopper. With that done, first of all, he unplugged the stopper of the test tube labelled “A”, and dropped a drop of reagent into the center.
Exceeding his expectation, the reaction was instantaneous. The water which was supposed to be colorless and transparent, suddenly turned into rust red color.
“-t on earth is this?”
He thought that Rider would surely start with the sequel of the video, but Rider was watching the experiment over Waver's shoulder with an engrossed expression. Although explaining was troublesome, because a barrage of questions would intrude upon his work even more, Waver did not ignore him and answered.
“Traces of the remains of the procedure. The remains of the magecraft in the water.”
Label A, namely the position where the river mouth is the closest to the sea. At that location, such a reaction was evidently abnormal.
“The upstream of the river―but still at a position considerably close to the river mouth. Who performed magecraft there? If we go upstream from here, we could probably grasp the location.”
“......Boy, since the start, did you realize that the water of that river is mixed with such a thing?”
“No way! But it is a land with water flowing through the heart of the city. It is natural to start investigating from the water.”
To find out the whereabouts of the magi, the easiest way is the “Water” element. As an absolute principle, water is something which “flows from a higher place to a lower place”. Compared to the effort needed to calculate the wind's direction and read the earth's pulse, finding the lowest flow of the water pulse is the least laborious. And this is further the case for a land with rivers.
In the case where there are other ways of investigation, he thought as far as starting off with the easiest one first, but......it seems like Waver had already drawn the “winner”. For now, it could be said that luck was with him.
B, C, D......Following the order, he deftly dropped the reagent into the river water in the test tubes. As it heads toward upstream, the reaction becomes increasingly stronger. At this joke-like conspicuousness, Waver's emotions surpassed wonder, into utter shock. This could be nothing but due to someone setting up a workshop right in the middle of the river, and discarding the waste directly without any precaution whatsoever. Such a magus who is worse than third-rate magi, and is but a mere fool, does not ex―no, exists. That very newbie. The incident Waver heard from the supervising Father at the church, to which he was summoned this morning.
“But still, confirming it with such a way......I don't feel proud at all.”
Exhausting his ingenuity to outsmart the enemy, competing their wonders with each other―That is the “Magecraft Contest” which Waver imagined. What he was doing now- making progress by carrying out underground investigations like a police forensic- was something people with no talent whatsoever do. Though he had already grasped the positive results in his hands, what was left in Waver's heart was the bad aftertaste of humiliation.
The reaction of Label P, was now in the state of a black ink. If it becomes any murkier than this, such a simple method like this could no longer be used for the analysis.
With the expectation of what would happen, he dropped the reagent into test tube Q.
The water remained transparent. No matter how vigorously he shook it, there was no response.
Waver opened up the map again, and pointed at the P and Q scribblings.
“Rider, here, and here, what's in between them? Draining trench? Mouth of an irrigation channel?”
“Oh? There was something remarkably big there...”
“That's it! If we track back this thing, Caster's workshop is probably there.”
For some reason, with a solemn face, Rider gazed at Waver closely.
“Oi, boy. Could it be that you are some great excellent magus?”
At those utterly unexpected words, Waver could not help but to take it as something cynical. Snorting, he turned away.
“This is not something great magi would do. The method is the worst among the worst. YOU, you're making fun of me huh.”
“What are you talking about? If you achieve good results using a poor method, isn't that a much greater achievement than starting from better methods? You should be proud of yourself! As a Servant, I am proud as well.”
Laughing boldly, Rider clapped the master of a small build. Increasingly upset, Waver tried to retort, but realizing that it was completely useless to preach the mysteries of magecraft to this Servant, he held his silence and shrugged off the matter.
“All right! After grasping the location, it is now my turn! Hey boy, do you plan to strike at once?”
“Hey wait! The enemy is Caster. Attacking immediately may be a little stupid.”
For a magus, the layout of his workshop can be said to be the compilation of the sorcery he mastered within him. Consequently, capturing the workshop means possessing the equivalent power, skills, and everything of the resources, and to challenge head-on.
Especially the one who is called the hero of sorcery, Servant Caster. The ability of the class' attribute, “Territory Creation”, is amplified. As long as he possesses the skill which enabled him to create within the shortest time, the workshop which demonstrates the very best result whatever the terrain and requirements are, in this battle, Caster is the one who can boast of being the strongest among the seven Servants. Because of that, in going against that workshop, reckless actions like attempting a head-on bulldozing action, even if it were Caster's natural enemy, Saber; would be equivalent to suicide.
Such a standard of reasoning should be understood even by Rider, but apparently, this Servant did not even have the slightest consideration for that. Before one noticed, Rider had already materialized the “Sword of Cypriot”, sheathed it, and in that manner, tapped Waver's shoulder whilst grinning broadly.
“Look. In a war, the camp's position changes every now and then. If you have grasped the position and don't strike with immediately; if you let them slip, it would be too late then to even regret.”
“......You, why are you so fired up again today?”
“Of course! My Master has finally shown some achievement which is likely to get us some results. If that's the case, bringing back the head of the enemy and repay my master, that is my spirit as a Servant.”
At such a ticklish manner of saying things, Waver was also at a loss of the best words to answer back.
As if taking that silence as consent, whilst laughing wholeheartedly, Rider hit his Master's slender shoulder and nodded.
“Don't give up at such a beginning. For the time being, we just try to strike them, isn't it? Maybe we can unexpectedly pull this off?”
The former soldiers under the King of Conquerors, were they dragged about in this way until the extreme east end of Asia as well? Thinking that, Waver could not suppress his sympathy towards the ancient warriors.
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