Fate/Zero:Act 9 Part 3
"It looks like your mood today is fairly good. Archer."
As usual as if he was in his own house, the golden-sparkling Servant, sitting as he wished in Kotomine Kirei's private room, had for an unknown reason worn an unpredictable smile since morning.
Under normal circumstances, when a person wears a smile he often will infect the people around him, easing the surrounding atmosphere, but by coincidence Kirei was of a personality that was not the sort to like seeing other people smiling; moreover, the smile of the King of Heroes in front of him could only be associated with some unsettling things.
"Though I have not yet seen the likeness of the Holy Grail— even if the Grail is a worthless trinket, I no longer care. Because I have found something else of interest."
"Oh, truly surprising. Did you not once scoff that this earth has only forgery and ugliness?"
"That has not changed. But, on the other hand I am interested in watching, until the end, the final outcome of this Heaven's Feel."
Perhaps, the miraculous feast held yesterday night at the Einzbern castle's central courtyard had caused some change in Archer's mood. But Kirei also saw a part of the process, and now in recollection— could it be because of Rider? Or because of the question-and-answer with Saber?
"I, as a person, like arrogant opponents. People who are not constrained by their own humble strength, and so are ambitious. Every time when meeting an opponent like this I will be very happy."
Looking at Kirei's puzzled expression, Archer leisurely waved the wineglass containing red wine and continued to speak.
"But there are two types of haughtiness too. The case in which the person has too low a caliber; and the case in which he has too great a wish. The former, not unusual one is very foolish, but the latter is of a difficult-to-obtain, rare species."
"Both are stupid things without any difference, isn't that so?"
"In comparison to mediocrity, this type of rare foolishness appears even more valuable, does it not? Though born human, but yet visionary of ideals so great that they are impossible to attain with human strength, and so abandon their status as a human to realize this one ideal—no matter how many times I see it I do not grow tired of it, the sorrow and despair of this sort of person."
Archer finished speaking, raising the wineglass as if in celebration, then elegantly downed the red wine inside. No matter how he appeared bold, this Heroic Spirit was completely unable to leave anyone with an impression of even slight avarice. Perhaps this was also his style of being a king.
"You said that, Kirei, but you appear unusually cheerful today."
"Only relieved. I have finally been released from a heavy burden."
The Command Seals that had originally been carved on Kirei's right hand had disappeared. During the battle last night at the Einzbern castle, his Servant-Assassin had been completely eradicated.
Kirei had completely forfeited his rights as a Master. Though it looked as if there had not been any change, but exactly as he had himself said, only now had he truly been released from the responsibilities and obligations of being a Master. Kirei's temporary residence at the Church could finally be considered completely justified.
"Where have the vanished Command Spells gone now? Those existences that are after all the physical manifestations of magic, will most likely not disappear into thin air just like that, will they?"
"In theory, they should have returned to the Grail. The Command Seals themselves are things that the Grail bestows. People who have lost their eligibility as a Master because of the loss of their Servant, their Command Seals should be reclaimed back by the Grail. Yet, if there appears a Servant whose contract has been lifted because of the loss of his Master, the Grail will then redistribute the unused Command Seals it had previously reclaimed to new contractors."
Twenty-one engraved Command Seals distributed to seven Masters, disappearing after having been used once, and the Command Seals that at the end had not been consumed would then be amassed in the hands of the supervisor and commissioned for safekeeping.
"Then in other words, depending on the development of the war, new Masters may possibly emerge?"
The King of Heroes in front of him should not have such deep interest in something unrelated to his own desires.
Though he felt that Gilgamesh's question was to some degree somewhat abnormal, Kirei still continued to explain further.
"Indeed. But to be one of the candidates chosen by the Grail, is not something that can be casually decided. So during the search for new Masters, the Grail will still prioritize the consideration of those people, possible Masters, that had been previously chosen.
In particular, the Masters of the '3 families of the beginning' are even more special. Even having lost their Servant, as long as in that period of time exist other Servants who have not yet formed contracts, they can, under a circumstance of not losing Command Seals, continue to exercise their authority as a Master. It seems that several similar things have happened in the past."
In the eyes of Gilgamesh, who had been silently listening to his explanation, Kirei perceived an unsettling pressure, and could not help but stop.
"What is it? Continue explaining, Kirei."
"Anyway, this is also one of the reasons a Master who has lost his servant in the war will gain the protection of the Church. When there appear openings for other Masters, they will have a very great chance of once again obtaining 'leftover' Command Seals. Precisely because of this, the methods that participants of the Heaven's Feel use against enemy Masters are not to cause them to lose their combat effectiveness, but to directly kill them. This is also a measure to ensure that there will not be trouble from them in the future.
Gilgamesh, as if extremely happy, sneered, then once again filled the glass with wine.
"Then, so to speak— Kirei, don't you have a very great chance of acquiring Command Seals again?"
Hearing the words of the King of Heroes, this time Kirei sneered.
"That is not possible! The purpose of my participation in the Heaven's Feel is the same as my mentor Tokiomi said— to be a support for the Tōsaka faction, and now my assignment has completely ended. Assassin's investigation has been completely finished, Tokiomi-shi has already developed a sure-win strategy against all the Masters and their Servants. Now there is completely no need for me to appear again."
"I must say, I have great suspicion of this plan of Tokiomi's. That guy does not have the ability to obtain the Holy Grail at all."
"You truly speak freely of your own Master."
At Kirei who sniggered, Gilgamesh directed his crimson red eyes sharply at him.
"Kirei, it seems that you have a great misunderstanding of the Master-Servant relationship between me and Tokiomi.
Tokiomi faces me with the manner of a subject to his king, at the same time offering prana as tribute. It is because of this sort of contract that I agreed to obey his summon. Do not liken me to the other Servant lackeys."
"Then, how will you deal with the orders of the Command Seals?"
"I don't care... if a follower fulfils his obligations as one, then occasionally the king will listen to his counsel. That is all."
Kirei could not help but smile wryly.
If Gilgamesh knew the true objective of this Heaven's Feel... his contractual relationship with Tokiomi would probably weaken. Of course, if it truly reached that time, Tokiomi, possessing Command Seals, would certainly acquire an overwhelming advantage.
"Now is a state of competition for Caster's head. The one who attacks last and deals the decisive blow— Archer, it should be you. Now you do not have the time to slowly and leisurely sample wine."
"The way Tokiomi dawdles, it will be long before it is time for my entrance. During this period of time I can only look for something else to do, to kill boredom— Kirei, did you say just a moment ago that Assassin had already completed all his assignments?"
"Ahah, the routine business?"
Kirei had once promised Gilgamesh to inform him of the various Masters' actions and their motives for wanting to obtain the Holy Grail, for his 'entertainment'. So to satisfy Gilgamesh's curiosity, Kirei had also ordered Assassin to keep watch.
"Ah, that investigation has also been completed. I should have let Assassin personally report yesterday night. This way, the effort of explaining it―"
"No, this is good enough."
Suddenly Gilgamesh interrupted Kirei’s words.
“I have no interest in that shadow-like guy. Kirei, this sort of thing is only meaningful information when you say it.”
Although suspecting the intention of the totally unfathomable Archer, reluctantly, Kirei gave a brief summary of each Master's character.
From the intelligence obtained through eavesdropping on the conversations between Masters and their Servants and entourages, their motive for participating in the Heaven’s Feel could be easily surmised.
The Master of Lancer and the Master of Rider had no particular wish of the Grail, and participated in this war in pursuit of victory only for the honor of magi.
As for the Master of Caster, he did not even know what the Holy Grail was. He only participated in this Heaven’s Feel in search of even greater thrills from killing people.
The Master of Berserker seemed to be searching for some ‘redemption’. Because he had fled, he had caused the second daughter of the Tōsakas to become a sacrifice, and was now returning to request that the hostage be released with the conditions of the exchange being that he retrieved the Holy Grail. It seemed that he had a history with Tokiomi’s wife Aoi in the past. He was the one of the five enemy Masters whose motive was the most basely ordinary.
About Saber's Master ― Kirei had to lie to Archer.
Assassin, up till being accidentally exterminated the previous night, had not found any information related to Emiya Kiritsugu. Only that that man seemed almost as if he had seen through to that Assassin being killed by Archer was a fraud, until the end thoroughly concealing his own secrets. It could only be said that to be able to do this under surveillance as strict as Assassin was truly worthy of appreciation. In comparison with the other Masters only he was a special existence.
And, even if Kirei had really discovered Kiritsugu’s true intent, he would probably not have reported this to Archer.
As it looked now, there were still many points of doubt. But even this, did not shake Kirei’s thoughts of crossing swords with Emiya Kiritsugu. This was Kirei’s personal problem, unrelated to the Heaven’s Feel, and he did not have the slightest intention of allowing outsiders to interfere.
Therefore, Kirei said to Archer, it was the Einzbern family’s stubborn wish, participating in this Heaven’s Feel only simply to allow the Holy Grail to descend. But Archer seemed to not have seen through to what Kirei was thinking in his heart, only barely interestedly listening to his report.
“—Hm, to let their hopes be dashed is also not bad entertainment.”
After having finished listening to the motives of the other five people, Archer said disdainfully.
"After all, they're only a pile of rubble. None of them have any creative thought processes at all. Thinking of seizing my treasure only for some silly reasons… they're all thieving pests who should be executed directly without need for negotiation."
Hearing Archer's unusually arrogant words, Kirei helplessly sighed.
"For the information that required much work to obtain, do you have only these thoughts? It looks as if I have suffered for nothing."
"What 'suffered for nothing'?"
The King of Heroes, a meaningful smile on his face, said.
"What are you saying, Kirei? The efforts of you and the Assassins have produced great results, have they not?"
As if sensing that the other party's words carried an ironic meaning, Kirei stared at Archer and said.
"Are you mocking me, King of Heroes?"
"You don't understand? Never mind, it is excusable that you do not understand. Because you are a man who can only see what he cares about."
Completely ignoring Kirei's keen gaze, Archer languidly continued to say.
"—People who have no self-awareness, only simply pursue instinctive pleasure. Just like those beasts who chase the scent of blood. This type of feeling in their hearts will manifest instinctively in their words and actions.
Therefore, Kirei. When you, through yourself, again recount all that you have heard, seen, and understood, you have already amply shown your inner thoughts. That which your words describe in greatest detail, is also that which you are most interested in.
In other words, observing a person's words and actions, is the best way of understanding his interests. Toys like humans, stories like life; there is truly no more meaningful way of entertainment."
This time Kirei also had to admit, he had truly been careless.
He had originally thought that this was only the King of Heroes' meaningless amusement. But it looked as if his judgment had lapsed; the other party was using this method to probe his innermost thoughts.
"Firstly discount that guy you purposely hid the truth about. This sort of subconscious concern is but only a sort of stubbornness. Now what I want to talk about is the person you unintentionally noticed.
Then, speaking of this, of the remaining four Masters, who is it then that you paid most attention to?"
Kirei suddenly felt a strong sense of unease in his heart. At this point, it would be best to end this topic as soon as possible.
Regarding Kirei's indecision, Archer seemed to feel satisfied, smilingly drinking a mouthful of red wine, then continuing to say.
"The Master of Berserker. Called what, Kariya? Kirei, your report of this man was truly extremely detailed."
"... Because his matters are relatively complicated. So the parts that require specific explanation are naturally more numerous. That's all."
"Hm, I don't think so? Because you are more concerned about this man's matters, you gave Assassin the order to 'thoroughly investigate these complicated matters'. An order you gave under circumstances even you were not aware of, purely based on interest."
Facing Archer's argument which did not permit rebuttal, Kirei began to review his own actions.
Matō Kariya... he had indeed believed this was a character that required especial attention. Not only did this person bear a strong hatred for Tokiomi, Berserker as his Servant also had the mysterious ability of being able to seize others' Noble Phantasms, considerably the arch-nemesis of Archer.
But in consideration of threat level— Kariya and Berserker would definitely not be first in line.
The Master and Mad Enhanced Servant, hastily prepared, that came forth to the war. They will probably be, of these five enemy groups, the quickest to be eradicated. There was not even need for use of some scheme; merely dragging out the battle into a protracted war would be enough.
As long as let be, he would be his own death. So to some extent, he should probably be considered an opponent extremely easily dealt with. Against such an opponent, still investigating the situation with such detail——taking a step back, it truly appeared somewhat insensible.
"... I admit it, this was a lapse in my judgment."
With the humility of a clergyman acquired from long years of self-cultivation, Kirei nodded and said.
"Indeed, after thinking about it carefully, Matō Kariya is but a short-lived and thus weak enemy.
From a long-term perspective, he cannot become a threat, is not worthy of attention. I have given him too high an appraisal, and only thus have to Archer— you, explained too much."
"Heh, is that it?"
Even though Kirei had made allowances, Archer's glittering scarlet eyes, still had an unfathomable expression.
"But Kirei, now let us suppose— in the event of miracle interweaving with luck, Berserker and his Master survived unto the end and furthermore obtained the Holy Grail. What will happen at that time, have you thought about it?"
In the event of, that is, assuming something completely unreal...
The ultimate end of what Matō Kariya seeks is only the showdown with Tōsaka Tokiomi. Not considering his chances of winning, in the event that he was in the end victorious over Tokiomi and furthermore obtained the Grail— at that time, what will Kariya face?
... It did not even require thought; it must be his own darkness. Originally for the sake of helping Aoi reclaim her daughter, but now to claim the life of Aoi's husband. He still seemed unaware this contradiction. No, rather than to say he is unaware, once might say he is, because of the jealousy and selfishness of his heart, intentionally deceiving himself and hiding this feeling.
When facing that bloodstained victory, Matō Kariya will definitely sink into the dilemma of having to face the ugliness of his own heart.
Archer, from one side watching Kirei silently thinking, smiled and said.
"I say, Kirei. Did you realize the true significance of my asking you this question?"
"... What do you mean?"
Archer's hint made Kirei even more confused.
Did his previous thought process have any areas of inadequacy...
"Tell me, Archer. What exactly is the significance of Matō Kariya obtaining the final victory?"
"Nothing, nothing at all—hey, don't assume such a scary expression. I've told you so many times that I don't have the intention of poking fun at you. Think about it, why did Kirei Kotomine all along not discover the complete meaninglessness of this question? Do you not feel that this matter in itself is worthy of consideration?"
If this conversation were to continue, Archer would continue to lead him by the nose, step by step. So Kirei just gave up thinking, resting his entire body against the chair and saying.
"You might as well speak plainly, Archer."
"If I had posed the same question to you using another Master as an example, you would definitely perceive at once that this is a completely meaningless question, and directly cast away such a silly question. But with Kariya it is different. You did not believe this to be a pointless question, instead interestedly immersing yourself in this sort of hypothetical thinking. Completely uncaring that one is doing something so futile. This precisely is authentic 'interest'. Congratulations, Kirei, you can finally understand what is 'entertainment'."
"... Entertainment? You speak of pleasure?"
Hearing Archer's affirmation, Kirei resolutely shook his head.
"In the fate of Matō Kariya, there is no element that would allow one to feel 'pleasure'. The longer his life, the heavier the suffering and lamentation accumulates on his body. To him, an earlier death would instead be a sort of salvation."
"Oh Kirei, why perceive 'pleasure' that narrowly?"
As if facing a student with poor comprehension abilities, Archer sighed deeply.
"Exactly what contradiction is there between suffering and lamentation and 'pleasure'? So-called pleasure does not take any particular form; it is precisely because you do not understand this that you are confused."
"That's not something which should be forgiven!"
Kirei's angry voice, like a conditioned reflex, rang out.
"King of Heroes, only people with evil like you will feel happiness in savoring the suffering of other people. But, that is the spirit of a sinner. An evil which must be punished. Especially you will not be on this path of faith I, Kotomine Kirei, live on!"
"So you believe that pleasure in itself is a sort of sin? Heh, you do make fallacious arguments. You've become a really interesting man."
Just when Kirei was still considering retorting with a few words, suddenly an acute pain wracked his entire body, forcing him to double over.
From his forearm near the elbow came a burning pain. Though the reason was unknown, but this feeling Kirei had truly once felt. The same painful and strange feeling as now-- Kirei had felt it three years ago. At that time, it had been the back of his left hand. That was also when everything had started.
The pain was gradually replaced by waves of burning. Kirei stopped thinking out of surprise, only unconsciously rolling up his sleeve and checking his wrist.
On the back of his left hand, had suddenly appeared the holy marks of fate. The remaining Command Seals, the symbol of which part had vanished after having been used once against Assassin, had reappeared in their original size.
"Heh, exactly as I thought? But this is truly too soon."
New Command Seals. The numb feeling brought about by the intense pain proved that these were authentic holy marks, but even thus, Kirei nevertheless was temporarily unable to regain his senses, stunned and unable to say a word.
This is completely impossible.
At this point all the Masters were still alive. And not one Servant had had their contracts terminated. Being again granted Command Seals under these conditions — this sort of thing was unprecedented.
And in addition, Kirei did not belong to the '3 families of the beginning'. That the Holy Grail would grant him, one who has withdrawn, with the same holy marks—what hopes did it have of him? This was truly a completely incomprehensible, abnormal situation.
"It looks as if the Grail still has high expectations of you."
Archer, with a somewhat sinister smile, said.
"Kotomine Kirei, you should also respond to the Grail's expectations. No matter what, you must have a reason to wish to obtain the Grail."
"I... my reason to obtain the Grail?"
"If that is truly a miracle that can grant any wish—the Grail is definitely able to realize even what you yourself do not perceive, the deepest wish of your heart."
Gazing at Archer's expression, Kirei suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu. Yes — that was depicted in the illustrations of the Bible, the expression of the snake of Eden.
"Kirei. Thinking will not bring you the answer. It is precisely this sort of thought, chained by ethics, that has distorted your knowledge.
Pray that you can obtain the Grail. At that time you will find among the things the Grail brings you, the answer to the true happiness you seek."
This is something Kirei has never thought about.
This is a reversal of the ends and the means. Precisely because he does not know what his own wish is, he must obtain the Grail that can grant all wishes to find it out.
If it were just to find the answer- indeed, there is a way to find an immediate answer.
"... But if it is like this, I will have to personally destroy the wishes of six other people before being able to find the answer. And if I seek the Holy Grail for my own personal intents... I must make an enemy of my teacher and benefactor."
"You must first look for a strong Servant. Otherwise, how will you contend with me."
As if speaking of someone else's matters, Archer leisurely drank a sip of red wine and said.
"Anyway, as a necessary precondition, you must first seize a Servant from the others.
As for what comes after... heh, Kirei, you're on your own."
As if now more interested in Kirei who had been again granted the holy marks, the scarlet eyes of the King of Heroes shone with the light of pleasure.
"To pursue, for your own desires. That is the true way of entertainment. Then entertainment will bring pleasure, and pleasure will guide you in the direction of happiness.
The road has been pointed out to you, Kirei. Pointed out extremely clearly to you."
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