Fate/Zero:Act 8 Part 6

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-102:54:10[edit]

As Saber dramatically finished her sentence, everyone lapsed into silence.

The one who was most confused was Saber herself.

An awkward silence filled the room. This made no sense. Even though she spoke with emphasis, no one in the room was easily cowed by talk.

It was plain and clear, without any room for doubt. That was her kingship. There was nothing surprising about it. What was surprising was that no one voiced dissent or agreement – when it was obvious that those words should have been immediately said.

“Hey King of Knights, I might have heard you wrong but...?”

Rider finally broke the silence, his face was plainly confused.

“Did you say "you want to change fate"? Which means you want to reverse history?”

“Correct. Even if the wish is something cannot be granted through a miracle, if the Holy Grail is truly omnipotent, surely...”

Saber answered haughtily. Now she understood why the atmosphere between the two kings was so special – immediately, the situation cooled down.

“Errr, Saber? I’d like to confirm this...... The destruction of that Britain was in your time, right? During your reign?”

“Yes! That is why I cannot forgive myself.”

Saber answered, her tone becoming firmer.

“That's why I can't let things be that way. The destruction of my country was my fault, and thus I want to reverse it.”

Suddenly, someone laughed out loud. The laughter was a base, incomprehensible laugh. And the laugh was coming out of the mouth of that shining golden Archer.  

In the face of such grave insults, Saber’s face was full of anger. The thing most precious to her was ridiculed by Archer.

“…Archer. What’s so funny?  

Ignoring Saber’s wrath, the golden Heroic Spirit replied brokenly as he guffawed.

“Calling yourself a king – praised by all – a person like you could have 'regrets?' Ha! Of course it was funny. Saber! You’re the world’s best clown!”   

Beside Archer, who was laughing uncontrollably, Rider creased his brow as he stared at Saber with worry in his eyes.

“Hold on. You, hold on, King of Knights, you want to deny the history in which you’ve created?” 

Saber never had any doubts to her own ideals, and of course, would not be stopped by Rider’s question.

“Correct. Why you suspect me? Why are you laughing? The country to which I sacrificed my life as a king had perished. Is there something wrong with me grieving?”

The thing answering her was again, a burst of laughter from Archer.

“Oi, oi, did you hear that, Rider! This young girl who calls herself the King of Knights – is saying something about sacrificing for her country!”

In response to Archer was Rider’s deepening silence and increasing gloomy expression. To Saber, it was just as humiliating as being laughed at.

“I don’t understand what is there to be laughing about. As kings, we should naturally sacrifice ourselves, and strive to create a better country!”

“No, you’re wrong.”

In a firm, rock-like voice, Rider objected.

“It’s not the king sacrificing for the nation. It’s the nation and the people sacrificing their lives for the king. You got it backwards.”

“What-?!”

Saber could no longer suppress her own anger. She shouted loudly.

“──Isn't that a tyrant's rule?──Rider, Archer, you bastards are nowhere near a king! Heretics!"

“True. We are tyrants, therefore we are heroes.”

Rider answered without so much as a change in his facial expression.

“We take full responsibility for our nations. Therefore, Saber. Listen to me. If a king is not content with his own kingdom, he is a weak ruler. A weak ruler is a worse king to have than a tyrant!”

Unlike Archer, who had ridiculed her for all this time, Rider had rejected her from the basis of her ideals. Saber’s brows narrows as she retorted sharply.

“Alexander, you…Your own empire. It became four separate warring factions that quickly disappeared into the sands of history. At that ending, you don't have any regrets? If you can redo it, you'd want to save your motherland...aren't you thinking about that?”

“No.”

Raising himself to his full height, the King of Conquerors met Saber’s furious gaze with his own.

“No, I do not. If the actions of me and my generals lead to the eventual demise of my own nation, then I will accept it for what it is! Yes, I will grieve. Yes, I will shed tears. But I will not have a single regret!”

“…What?”

“Don’t you even dare suggesting something as stupid as an attempt to rewrite history! Such an idiotic action, is an insult to all of humanity who lived during my time!”

In response to Rider’s haughty declaration, Saber shook her head.

“What you’re saying is only the glory of a simple fighter. The people won’t wish for such things. Salvation would be their prayer."

“You’re saying they want the king’s salvation?”

Rider shrugged as he laughed.

“I don’t get it! What’s the point of such a useless thing?”

“That is the true worth of a king!”

This time, it was Saber’s turn to answer arrogantly.

“A correct governance, a lawful society, all subjects would probably be wishing for them.”

“Are you a slave to this “correctness,” then?”

“You could say that. The only one fit to rule is someone who would willingly give themselves up for an ideal.”

Without any hint of hesitation, the young King of Knights nodded.

“Through the king, the people could understand law and order. The king should not express something that would disappear upon the king’s death, but rather something more precious.”  

At Saber who had proclaimed that firmly, while displaying a feeling as if he pitied her somewhere, Rider let out a deep sigh.

“That is not a path taken by a human being.”

“Correct. As king, we cannot hope for a normal life.”

To become the perfect ruler, to become the embodiment of the ideals, she was willing to give up her body and throw away her emotions. The life of that young woman whose name was Artoria was changed completely the moment she pulled that sword out of the stone. From then on, she became a legend of victory, a synonym of praises and dreams.

There was pain, there was disappointment, but within it was the radiance of victory. An unchangeable ideal which still supported her sword arm.

“King of Conquerors! A king like you could never understand my own beliefs! You’re nothing but a bully who was blinded by his own desires!”

Saber shouted sternly. Rider’s eyes immediately widened as he answered in response.

“A desireless king is no better than a flower vase!"

Rider’s loud roar, plus his gigantic body, made him appear more fearsome.

“Saber, you just said that you needed to 'sacrifice for your ideals.' Indeed. You’re some saint – so holy that no one could ever hope to come near you. But who would be willing to die for their empty beliefs? And who would be thinking about this so-called saint day and night? You could only comfort the people, but not lead the people. The only way to bring country and people upon the right path is to present those desires, and the glory that could be found only in legends.”

Draining his cup, the King of Conquerors corrected.

“As king, you must have stronger desires than anyone else. You must be more magnificent, more easily angered than everyone else! He should be both pure and chaotic, a man who was more real than any other man. Only through this, could your subjects be impressed by the king, and only this, would the message of 'if only I was king, that would be wondrous' would be imprinted upon the people’s heart”

“Such a way of kingship… where on earth is the justice?”

“It doesn’t exist. Justice is unnecessary in the principles of a king. That's exactly why there is no remorse.”

“…”

He was too adamant in his opinions, and Saber was already uncontrollably angry.

Though the basis was for their people, the two’s ideals were too far apart.

One side prayed for peace.

The other dreamed about prosperity.

The king who suppressed the chaos of war and the king who stirred up the chaos of war, there was no way their ideals could have been the same.   

Rider smiled as he continued bluntly.

“King of Knights. Your justice and ideals might have saved your people and country for a time, and thus, your name is praised until today, mm? Although, the people’s lives whom you saved, and their end, you did know what happened at the end, right?”

“What…did you say?”

The bloodstained sunset hill.

That sight was once again reignited in Saber’s brain.

“You wanted solely to 'save' your subjects, yet you’ve never 'guided' them. They don’t know “the king’s wishes.” You ignored the lost subjects, yet you yourself pretended to be saintly, drunk in your own narrow views.  

Thus, you’re not a good king. You’re only someone who wanted to become someone who took care of the people. You’re just a little girl who spun a cocoon around yourself in order to become that idealized view.”

“I…”

There were many things she wanted to say in retort. Yet, every time she opened her mouth, she could only see the site she witnessed at Camlann.

Bodies everywhere. The blood ran like a river. There lied her subjects, friends, and loved ones.   

As she pulled out that sword in the stone she knew about the prophecy. She knew that she was destined to fail, and she already understood.

But…why…

As she witnessed the sight personally, she felt surprised. She could do nothing else but pray.

Once a magus prophesied it was nearly impossible to go against fate. Yet, she still wondered, if she could have a miracle.

A dangerous thought occupied Saber’s thoughts.

If she wasn’t England’s savior, but rather a tyrant who ravished England…

The chaotic world would only become more chaotic. First, that was not her way of kingship. And no matter what perspective, she would never make that choice as Artoria.

But, if she really did that…in comparison to Camlann, which one was more tragic?

Suddenly, she felt a chill on her spine. The chill brought her back to reality.

It was Archer’s look.

The golden servant had left them alone since Saber had started arguing with Rider. He himself sat by a corner and drank quietly. His deep-red pupils started studying her, but she didn’t know when.

He said nothing, and only judging from his eyesight, one could not read his intent. But there was something lascivious in his gaze. It was as if a snake crawling up her body, bringing her humiliation and unease.

“…Archer, why are you looking at me?”

“Ah, I am merely studying your annoyed expression.”

Archer’s smile was surprisingly gentle, but at the same time, fearsome.

"It is like a virgin on which flowers are being scattered, lying on the bed. I like it."

“You bastard….”

For Saber, this was a mockery hard to be forgiven. Without any tinge of hesitation, she threw down her cup, and a sound could be heard from the sheath of the invisible sword.

But at the next moment, the thing that made the other two change their expressions was not her threatening attitude.

Moments later, Irisviel and Waver also felt something different in the surrounding air. Though it was unseen, through their skin they could feel extremely heavy murderous intent.

Strange white creatures emerged in the center of the moonlit court. One after the other, their pale white visages were like blooming flowers as they appeared. The paleness was the color of cold, dry bone.

Skull masks and black cloaks. The previously empty center court slowly became surrounded by this strange group.

Assassin…

Not only Rider and Waver knew that they were still alive, but Saber and Irisviel also learned of the detail from their conversation with Kiritsugu on warehouse street.

Assassin was not limited to the one slain near the Tōsaka residence. The reality was, there were many Assassins – an unnaturally numerous number of Assassins that participated in this Heaven’s feel. They all wore masks and were clad in black robes, and their body sizes differed as well. Some were giant, some were slim, some where short like children while some were women.

“…This is your doing? Archer.”

Archer shrugged rather innocently.

“Who knows, I have no need to understand the thoughts of mongrels"

Since this many Assassins are gathered here, their command cannot have originated from just Kirei. Perhaps it is the plans of his mentor, Tōsaka?

Because Tōsaka has declared fealty to the King of Heroes, Archer grudgingly recognized the Master. However, what Tōsaka did now was extremely displeasing.

Though Rider was the host of the banquet, Archer was the one who provided the wine. What on earth is the meaning of this? This is an action which would indirectly dirty the reputation of the King of Heroes. Shouldn't Tokiomi be able to understand that?

“Mm…so much confusion!”

Waver sighed rather desperately as he watched the opponents approach. Incomprehensible!

This event has far exceeded the regulation and limits of the Heaven’s Feel.

“What's the meaning of this?! Assassin appearing one after the other…There was supposed to be only one Servant of each class!”

Watching the awkward expressions of their prey, Assassins laughed evilly.

“You’re correct. We are all acting as one Servant, and each individual is only a shadow of the whole.

Waver and Irisviel could not understand that Kirei Kotomine’s Assassin existed in such a strange manner.

“The Old Man of the Mountain” – among the people who succeeded the name of Hassan-i Sabbāh, only one had the power to switch bodies.

Differing from other Hassans, he did not need to modify his body in any way. Or, it could be said that there was no purpose in doing so, though he was typical in terms of strength, his mind was able to change his body freely.

He could use impressive planning and tactics, understand languages of other countries, identify poisons or set traps. All in all, he was a master assassin – able to do everything, and switching in different abilities based on the requirements of his assignments. It was said that on occasions he is able to utilize strange strength and agility to use illusionary fighting styles that had been long forgotten.

He could disguise as man or woman, youth or elder – anything! He could stand quite naturally next to you. Sometimes, he could even change personality based on situation so no one can guess at his real identity.

Nobody knew the truth. Hassan may have had a unique body, but he had many different souls.

The knowledge at the time could not think of multiple personality disorder as an illness.

With said definition in modern medical sciences, it was a source of arcane “power” to Hassan the assassin. He could use the multiple personalities within him to use all kinds of different skills and draw upon their knowledge, confusing their opponents or weaving a web of defense, and kill their opponents with unexpected methods that no one could predict.

This is the assassin that Kirei had summoned – "The Hundred-Faced Hassan".

He is a Servant that had one physical body, but at the same time possessed a thousand different souls. Analyzing from this basis, “they” were initially different souls in the first place, and since they are now no longer limited by the physical body, “they” can now all materialize simultaneously into different shapes.

Of course, their strength was also limited to being just one person, and after their split the Assassins cannot hope to match the other Heroic Spirits. But because they possess the unique skills of the Assassin class, they were unparalleled in terms of spying and gathering recon.

“You mean…we’ve always been watched by these things until today?”

Irisviel murmured painfully as Saber also shivered unconsciously.

Though the opposition was not powerful, they were numerous and were able to sneak up on the group. Though she was the most powerful Servant, they were still a huge threat.

In addition, the Assassins that normally followed them like shadows had now abandoned their ability of presence concealment and fearlessly showing their figures, this meant…

“They meant business.”

Saber gritted her teeth as she realized that they had fallen into an unexpected trap.

A group of rabble that relied on their numerical strength – if confronting in a frontal assault, there was no way Saber could lose. However, that scenario was limited to the situation only – if there was only Saber to fight the battle.

Right now, Saber must protect Irisviel. No matter how weak Assassins were, they were exceptionally dangerous to humans. Even to Irisviel, a homunculus who could use magecraft flawlessly. However, magecraft alone could not stop Assassin – there was no way she could be depended to defend herself.

Thus, if she wanted to protect her companion and fight at the same time, the pressing question at hand was the numerical superiority of their enemies.

With one strike of her sword, how many Assassins could Saber stop? No, the question is no longer how many she could stop. If she missed but one person, that one might cause massive damage to Irisviel.

Right now, the question is not “Could she stop them?” but is "With one blow, could she stop all of them at once?" And then with the number of Assassins surrounding them now, it was incredibly hopeless.

However, from the Assassin's perspective, this strategy was their final resort.

Even though they fought in a group, this group was still limited in numbers. Sacrificing the most, exchanging for small amounts of survivors – this method of victory is equivalent to a suicidal charge, which is why it is only reserved for final battles.

Assassin, as a Servant, wanted the Holy Grail as well. They should not be able to stand the fact that they were merely a chess piece in Tōsaka and Archer’s game – but, they were unable to resist the Command Seal.

For tonight’s operation, Kotomine Kirei used a Command Seal. The order was “Victory no matter what sort of losses.” The Command Seal was an absolute order to Servants, and thus, they could only follow it.

Though it made them feel happy that Saber was disturbed and fearful, in reality she was not their target. Their target was Rider’s Master. Even though Rider had a powerful Noble Phantasm, its destructive powers are unidirectional. If Assassin attacked from all sides, they should... no, they must be able to strike at the wimpy short Master.

Yes, for the King of Conquerors Alexander, it was a precarious moment.

But…why is the large Servant still drinking happily, as if nothing had happened?

“…Ri –Rider, Oi, OI….”

Despite Waver’s shouting in discomfort, Rider still didn’t act. He scanned the Assassins around him, his expression still quite even.

“Hey, kid, don't panic. It’s just a few new guests to the banquet.”

“How in the world do they look like guests?!"

Rider laughed wryly and sighed, he then greeted the Assassins that surrounded him with an idiotically calm expression.

“Fellows, could you relax a little and cut down the creepiness? As you can see, you are scaring our friends.”

Saber thought she heard him wrong. This time, even Archer’s brows creased.

“King of Conquerors. Are you trying to invite them as well?”

“Of course, the king’s words should be heard by everyone, so if someone showed up to hear, it doesn’t matter if they’re friend or foe.”

Rider said calmly as he scooped a spoonful of the red sake in the barrel and handed it to the Assassins.

“Here, don’t be shy – if you want to drink with me there are cups over there. This wine is as your blood.”

Hyunn, the sound of something flying through the empty space answered Rider's invitation.

Only the handle of the ladle remained in Rider’s hand; the spoon part has already fallen onto the ground. This was the work of one of the Assassins. The wine in the ladle fell scattered onto the grounds of the center courtyard.

“……”

Rider lowered his head and stared at the wine scattered on the ground wordlessly. The skull masks laughed in derision.

“Did you hear what I said wrongly?”

Rider’s words were calm, but clearly, the intent and tone changed. The only ones able to detect this change were the two that drank with him before.

“I said, “this wine is as your blood,” right? Since you dare to spill it onto the ground, then inevitably…”

At that moment, a whirlwind roared to life.

The wind was scorching hot and dry, as if it wanted to consume everything. The wind didn’t feel like it should come from the evening forest, or the castle’s court – the way it was roaring, it seemed that it came from the desert.

Waver spat as he tasted sand in his mouth. Sand! It was really sand that the strange wind brought. Truly the hot sand was not supposed to exist.

“Saber, and Archer, the last question of the banquet – is the king lonesome?”

Rider shouted as he stood in the center of the raging desert wind. His cape danced atop his shoulders. Somehow, he had already changed back into the proper garb of the King of Conquerors.

Archer's mouth moved, and he sniggered. There was no need to answer. He replied with his silence instead.

Saber did not hesitate either. If her own beliefs were shaken, it would be a flat denial of her days spent as king.

“A king...has no choice to be lonesome!”

Rider laughed. As if responding to the laugh, the whirlwind grew stronger.

“Wrong, wrong!! That answer is almost as good as having no answers! Let me teach you two today what it means to be a true king!”

The unknown hot wind inverted, and eroded the reality.

In the strange phenomenon occurring tonight, distance and position had lost its meaning. The raging sandstorm changed all it touched.

“How-How could this..."

Waver and Irisviel gasped in surprise…only ones who understood magecraft could understand the phenomenon.

“A…Reality Marble-?!”

The earth-scorching sun; the cloudless, clear skies; stretching to the blurry end of the sandy horizon, there was nothing that obscured vision.

To think that the Einzbern castle could be changed suddenly meant that it was undoubtedly the illusion of something that eroded away the reality. It can be said that this is the uppermost limits of the miracles of magecraft.

“How could this be….you could materialize the environment inside your mind…You aren’t a – magus?!”

“Of course I’m not. This is not something I can do alone.”

Alexander laughed proudly as he majestically stood in the center of wide, everstretching field.

“This land is the land in which my army once crossed. It is imprinted upon the hearts of every single one of my warriors who shared in my joys and sorrows.”

As the world changed, the positions of the five who were initially surrounded also changed.

The Assassins, originally surrounding the group have been moved aside to one side. Rider stood in the center. In the other side stood Saber, Archer, and the two Masters. This is to say that Rider stood before the Assassins by himself.

– but, could it be said that Rider fought alone?

The eyes of everyone widened as they noticed the mirage-like images that appeared around him. One, two, four….there were more and more images, ever increasing. The colors become clearer and more solid.

“The reason why this world can exist again... is because it is printed upon all of our hearts.”

Under their expressions of total shock, heavily armed cavalry materialized beside Alexander. Though their faces and equipments differed, their muscular bodies and mighty chargers displayed a fierceness that could only be found in a true army.

Only one person present understood what this situation meant.

“All of these beings…are servants!”

He was the only Master here, and so he understood. Servant Alexander's trump card, his true noble phantasm, was now appearing before his eyes.

“BEHOLD, MY PEERLESS ARMY!”

The King of Conquerors stood before the lines of cavalry and raised both of his arms to the skies, shouting with immeasurable pride.

Ionian Hetairoi

“Their bodies may return to ash, but their spirits still hear my call! These men are my legendary heroes – my loyal followers! They’re my true friends - breaking the rules of space and time to fight once more at my side!”

“They are my treasure within treasures; they are my right to rule! They make up Alexander's mightiest Noble Phantasm – Ionian Hetairoi!!”

EX rank anti-army Noble Phantasm; the consecutive summon of multiple independent Servants.

The Lord of war, the Maharaorajah, and the founders of many dynasties – the peerless array of heroic spirits gathered here were only heard reverently in legends. All of the famed warriors standing here – all of them once fought beside Alexander the Great.

A riderless horse galloped towards Rider. It was a powerful and sleek steed. If it was human, it is probably just as impressive as any one of the Heroic Spirits standing before the king.

“Long time no see, pal.”

Rider smiled childishly as he hugged the neck of his horse. “She” was the legendary charger Bucephalus. Even the horse of the King of Conquerors became an Heroic Spirit.

Apart from shock and admiration, everyone was speechless. Even Archer, who also possessed a rank EX Noble Phantasm, was utterly silent after seeing such a radiant army.

These heroes rode alongside their king on the battlefield; their wager, like the king’s, was the king’s dream.

Not even death could stop their ending loyalty. The King of Conquerors turned it into a fitting Noble Phantasm.

Saber was shaken to her core. It wasn’t the strength of the Noble Phantasm that she was afraid of, it was the fact that such a Noble Phantasm had de-stabilized her beliefs. It shook the beliefs that she held in pride.

This flawless cooperation…

This bond with subjects that became a Noble Phantasm...

It was something that the idealistic King of Knights pursued for her whole life, yet even to the end, it was something she could not obtain.

“The King - lives to the fullest!! He needs to live more fully than anyone else! He is a figure of admiration to his people!!”

Rider’s voice boomed as he sat atop his beloved steed. The Heroic Spirits began smashing their weapons against their shields, shouting in unison.

“He gathered the will of every courageous being! He marched toward that dream and began his long conquest! That is our king! Thus-”

“The King is never lonesome! For his wishes are our wishes!”

"Indeed! Indeed! Indeed!"

The majestic cries of the Heroic Spirits pierced the heavens and flew among the stars. No matter what they faced – enemy or fortress, it was powerless before the King of Conquerors and his loyal friends. Such was their spirit they could cross the earth. With this spirit, they could split the very oceans.

And thus, the Assassins standing before them was as insignificant as clouds.

“Alright, Assassin. Let us begin.”

Rider's smiling eyes were full of ruthlessness and cruelty. To someone who ignored the king’s words and declined the king’s gift, he no longer cared to hold back.

“As you can see, my preferred battlefield is the plains. Sorry, but if it's about winning by numbers, I believe I have the advantage?"

The hundred faces among the Hassans had forgotten about the Holy Grail at this moment. Forgetting victory and the mission of the Command Seal, they had already lost sense of themselves as a Servant.

Some ran away, while some screamed fruitlessly. Some others stood dumbly on their spots. The panicked mob of skull masks were indeed just a group of rabble.

“Trample them!!"

Rider commanded without hesitation.

"AAAALaLaLaLaLaie!"

The collective roar of the Ionian Hetairoi echoed in response. The peerless army that once swept across continents once again thundered across the battlefield.

This was no longer a battle. It was a massacre.

The results of using a mill to grind a sesame seed would yield more response.

Wherever the Ionian Hetairoi rode, there was not a trace of Assassins remaining. Only a faint, faint smell of blood and some dust that was swept away remained in the air.

“WOOOOOOOAAAAAA!”

With a cheer of victory, the warriors gave dedications and praise to the king. Soon, with their mission completed, they returned to spirit form and disappeared into the distance.

And as such, the bounded field generated by these heroes also disappeared. Everyone vanished as if a bubble had been popped. The scene returned to the night air. The people present once again stood in the courtyard of the Einzbern castle.

The white, clear moonlight was silent. There was nothing in the night air.

The three Servants and two magi returned to their previous seats, raising their cups once more. The ladle – sliced to bits by the dirk – stood as a testimony to all that happened.

“—How disappointing.”

As if nothing had happened, Rider quietly murmured to himself as he finished the wine in his cup. Saber said nothing, and Archer smirked with the slightest hint of an unsatisfied expression.  

“Indeed, no matter how weak the mongrels, it must have been quite the effort for you, the king, to take down this many, mm? Rider, you’re really a thorn in my eyes.”

“Of course, let’s get this straight, no matter what, we shall have a match to see which one of us is better.”

Not offended in the least, Rider smiled as he stood up.  

“Anyways, we’ve said all we wanted to say, right? Let us stop here for today.”

But Saber was still dwelling on Rider’s words, and she didn’t want to let him off the hook so easily.

“Hold on, Rider, I’m not finished –“

“You, shut up.”

Tensely, Rider stopped Saber’s comment.

“Tonight was a banquet among kings. However, Saber! I do not recognize your kingship anymore!”

“Do you still plan to mock me, Rider?"  

Saber’s tone already held a great amount of irritation, but Alexander only looked at her with pity. Pulling out his sword, he waved it in the air. Suddenly, in a thunderous roar, a chariot drawn by divine bulls appeared alongside the roar. Though it was not nearly as impressive as the Ionian Hetairoi, it was still wonderous to behold.

“Hurry up, kid. Climb on.”

“…”

“Oy, kid?”

“---Ah? Ah…um…”  

Ever after he personally witnessed Assassin’s effortless defeat, Waver’s heart was strangely covered by some shadow. Though it was the first time he had ever seen such an irregular, out of the norm Noble Phantasm, so his reaction was natural. Besides, it was his own Servant’s true strength – it was the first time he had seen it.

Unsteadily, Waver crawled onto the chariot. Alexander gave Saber one last glance as he began to speak with sincerity.

“Know what, little girl? It would be better for you to wake quickly from that painful dream of yours. Or else, there’s going to come a day where you’ll lose even the self-respect of a hero – the kingship you spoke of, that’s just a spell you put upon yourself. That is all.”

“No, I –“

Ignoring Saber’s final retort, the chariot with flashing lightning flew into the skies. In the end, the only thing left was the sound of thunder as the chariot disappeared in the eastern skies.

“…”

To Saber, because Rider refused to listen to her speak to the last, she naturally felt wronged. Yet now, what Saber could not drop no matter what was a unreasonable sense of worry.

No mercy, no ideals, a king whose rule was based on violence in order to fulfill his own desires. Yet, even so, there was a group of such loyal followers, who was willing to swear an unbreakable fealty to him.

This was anathema to the King of Knight’s ideals. She could not accept such beliefs.

Yet, Saber could not simply treat Alexander’s words as a joke, either. There would come a time, where she would force him to take these words back – such words bothered Saber like a thorn in her side.

“Ignore him, Saber. All you have to do is follow in your own beliefs.”

This time, the person who interjected was Archer, who had been mocking him for all this time. Hearing such strange words of encouragement, Saber answered icily.

“You were mocking me moments ago, yet you want to flatter me now, Archer?”

“Of course! Your way of kingship is the only way, without a fraction of an error. Of course, to your frail body, it must be such a great burden.

Such bitterness… such tangled webs… I couldn’t help but to sincerely wish to comfort you.”

Proper outer appearance, a serious voice, yet there was still an unlimited amount of lust and maliciousness hidden within his expression and tone.

As long as this golden Servant existed before her eyes, Saber would never have a single moment of confusion. Unlike Rider, who was someone she could communicate in words with, Archer was only an unforgivable enemy to her.

“Continue on your path of righteousness, Saber, and clown along the way. I like it. Saber, make me happy, and maybe I’ll reward you with the Holy Grail?”

The white jade goblet shattered in Archer’s hands.

“Rider has already left, the banquet is long over – Archer, leave now, or draw your sword.”

Though it was invisible, Saber’s waving sword nonetheless unleashed a powerful pressure. Archer, with broken goblet in hand, had no discernible change in expression. Either he was exceptionally brave or exceptionally stupid. Only one of the aforementioned possibilities.

“Oy, oy. Did you know, countless nations have been destroyed because of this cup? Ah, whatever, punishing you is pointless either way – punishing a clown like you is not fitting behavior for a king.”

“Quiet. I’ll warn you only once. Next time, I’ll cut through you mercilessly!”

Ignoring Saber’s warning, Archer smiled as he stood up.

“Try harder, O King of Knights. Sometimes, I think you’re still pretty cute.”

As his last words faded, Archer vanished as he turned to spirit form. As if awaking from a dream, the courtyard, without the golden light shining upon it, contained only emptiness.

And, as such, the curtains fell on a battle.

Though it was different from battle by a normal definition, but, it was indeed a conflict. In order to fulfill the belief of kingship, the Heroic Spirits also had many reasons that they must wager their lives on.

As all her opponents disappeared Saber stood silently, alone, in the courtyard. Irisviel couldn’t help but to feel that the scenario was familiar – wasn't such a lonely shadow the same as in yesterday's skirmish in the warehouse street?

Yet today, there was not a single shred of satisfaction upon her face even after she had defeated powerful opponents. The thoughtful, yet depressing expression made Irisviel feel uncomfortable.

“Saber……”

“When I was shouting at Rider, if he were willing to stop and listen to me, what would I have said?”

It was unclear who the question was addressing. Saber turned around as she smiled dryly, perhaps laughing at herself.

“I remember – ‘King Arthur could not understand the heart of others.’ Once, a knight who had left me told me that.” 

“…”

“Perhaps it was – among the Knights of the Round Table, the thoughts of a particular knight.”

Irisviel shook her head as she spoke to Saber:

“Saber, you’re the king of ideals. Your Noble Phantasm is proof of this.”

Just like Rider’s “Ionian Hetairoi” Saber also possessed “Excalibur” If the King of Conqueror’s Noble Phantasm was his commanding abilities, then the King of Knight’s Noble Phantasm was the physical actualization of her ideals. The proud aura in which it exhibited was undeniable by anyone.

“Of course, I wanted to become an ideal. In order to make no mistakes, in order to be blameless, I had no emotions and never expressed my feelings.”

Giving up herself for the duty of the king.

In comparison to the limitless desire of the King of Conquerors, the road was far more distant.

“As long as the battle could be won, and the administration just, then I was a perfect king. Therefore, I wanted no understanding. Even if people thought I was arrogant and lonesome, I suppose that’s also the rightful expression of the king.

But why – why am I unable to be proud of my own beliefs like Rider?”

Now, Irisviel finally understood Saber’s confusion.

The tragic ending of King Arthur was one in which everyone forsook her. Because she was unable to gain her follower’s sincere admiration, the honor of the King of Knights was tarnished.

“—Saber, even if fate cannot be avoided, no one said it’s set in stone.”

After a moment of silence, Irisviel finally spoke.

“What do you mean?”

“Fate is not something that’s predestined. The turn of the world, luck, and many unexpected events are the things that determine the final shape of destiny.

Thus, your destruction was not destined just because you were the King of Knights. Thus, you should strive for the Holy Grail.”

“…Yes, you’re right.”

Once, the king’s magician told her, if she pulled out the Sword of Destiny, then she was walking towards an unavoidable destruction. Even so, she had no regrets.

Even though she understood, she never really understood its meaning. Even if she couldn’t believe in hope, she still wanted her hope to be true.

Thus, even as she personally witnessed the predicted end in the prophecy, that was when she could no longer accept the reality.

There was only prayers, only despairing hope.

She wondered if she made a mistake along the way somewhere.

The way she had selected – there should have been a more appropriate ending…

The thought turned her into a Heroic Spirit and guided her to the Holy Grail of Fuyuki.

“Thank you, Irisviel. I almost lost the thing that was most precious to me.”

Saber nodded, her eyes were as peaceful and clear as before, shining with a confident radiance.

“My deeds as king, I cannot get any answers now. I should be asking the Holy Grail. Thus, that’s why I’m here.”

“Yes, you’re precisely right.”

Irisviel sighed in relief. The proud King of Knights doesn't suit the thoughtfully reminiscing, sad expression on her face. Following her own beliefs – that was what she should look like. That shining sword, also promised her victory.


※※※※※


At Miyama, the underground basement of the Tōsaka manor was currently surrounded by a bitterly stifling silence.

“That Noble Phantasm of Rider’s…what is its power level?”

Heavily speaking into the communicator, Tokiomi asked Kirei.

“The same rank as Gilgamesh’s Gate of Babylon. In other words, Rank EX.”

A sigh followed.

Just as he had anticipated. Assassin’s sacrifice was not meaningless – at least, he was able to figure out Rider’s trump card. If he had no knowledge against Rider as he fought him, Tōsaka probably couldn’t do a thing against that super Noble Phantasm.

The only thing that exceed their expectations, was the rank of the Noble Phantasm – even if he knew about it ahead of time, could he find a way to defeat it?

As before, he had always thought his own Servant, Archer’s Noble Phantasm was the strongest. However, unexpectedly, a Servant appeared with the same level as Archer’s own. This far exceeded his expectations.

Now, a rare sense of regret slowly floated into the foremost thoughts of Tokiomi.

Perhaps throwing away the playing piece of Assassin was a deadly mistake. Against such a dangerous opponent like Rider, it may have been better for him to send a scout to gather information instead of risking a frontal assault. If he could run into a case where Rider and his Master moved separately, he might have even been able to use an assassination…

“Idiot.”

Tokiomi shook his head. It was his own fault. This wasn’t a strategy – it was only his random thoughts.

Yet, the situation was not desperate. There were many things that could still cheer him up. For example, Alexander's Master was only a third-rate magus. If the person who summoned him was Lord El-Melloi, the situation would have been much worse. The ability parameters of the Servant was also heavily dependent on the ability of the Master. Did he not also use the result of Kayneth’s dispute with his student? Looks like all the luck in this fourth Heaven’s Feel was on his side.

Looks like it was time for business. Tokiomi took his wooden staff as he calmly yet firmly stroked it. His life’s work was found in the gigantic gem that was framed near the handle, sealing a lifetime’s worth of prana.

“Since Assassin is no more, Kirei, you should not be saving your own strength any more.”

“Yes, understood."

Across the other side came Kirei Kotomine’s quiet yet deep voice. This first-rate student and Executor, even though he had lost his Servant, still possessed a large degree of combat ability. Now, because he could no longer command Assassin, he had no need to disguise himself – it was time for him to unleash his own abilities.

As predicted, the second part have begun. Based on the information gathered by Assassin, he shall mobilize Gilgamesh and begin his assault. As for the solution against Rider, he’ll slowly find an answer to that.

Finally, it was time to step out of his territory and step into the battlefield.

Silently enduring the pains of the Magic Crests, Tokiomi stood from his chair.


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