3 years ago
When we speak about occultism, theories on dimensions say that there is a 'power' from outside this world.
Pinpoint the beginning of all things. That is the dearest wish of all magi, the 'root', ... The place of God, Akashic Records, the records of the beginning and the end of all things that creates everything in this world.
200 years ago, there were those who put into execution experiments on that place 'outside of this world'.
Einzbern, Makiri, Tōsaka. Called the 3 families of the beginning, what they designed was the reproduction of the 'Holy Grail', the subject of many traditions. Expecting that the summoning of the Grail would realize any wish, the three families of magi offered their secret art to finally manifest the 'omnipotent container'.
... However, that Grail could only grant the wish of one person. As soon as that truth was known, the bonds of cooperation were washed in blood by conflicts.
That is the beginning of the 'War of the Holy Grail', 'Heaven's Feel'.
Henceforth, once every 60 years, the Grail is summoned again in the far-East land of 'Fuyuki'.
Then, the Grail selects 7 magi who have the power to take it, and distributes a huge amount of prana among them, to render possible the summoning of Heroic Spirits called 'Servants'. The conclusion of a battle to the death decides which of the seven is most suitable to receive the Grail.
— To put it simply, that is what Kotomine Kirei was undergoing.
"The pattern that has appeared on your right hand is called the 'Command Seals'. It is the proof that you are chosen by the Grail, and the holy mark that grants you the right to control a Servant."
The person with the smooth but carrying voice who explained this was Tōsaka Tokiomi.
In the room of an elegant villa built atop a small hill in the neatest district in the south of Turin, Italy, 3 men sat on a lounge chair. Kirei and Tokiomi, and the Father who introduced them and mediated the conversation, Kotomine Risei... Kirei's actual father.
For the friend of a Father who would soon reach 80, that Tōsaka was an eccentric Japanese. He did seem to be around the same age as Kirei, settled and with the presence of an expert. From the lineage of an old distinguished family even by Japanese standards, this villa was his secondary residence, as he said. But the most interesting was that he would casually declare himself as a 'magus'.
Being a magus isn't such a strange thing as it may sound. Kirei was, as his father, a clergyman, yet the duty of the father and son greatly differed from what ordinary people know of a 'Father.'
The 'Holy Church' that people like Kirei belonged to had a doctrine that was outside the bounds of miracles and divine mysteries, but would bear the role of exterminating the stigma of heresy, and burying it into oblivion. That would be, taking a standpoint from where they could supervise a blasphemy such as magecraft.
Magi conspire with magi only, and are organized in a self-preserving group that calls itself the 'Association', which presents a threat as a rival to the Holy Church. At the present time, they have both agreed to preserve a temporary tranquility; but even so, a state of affairs where a Father from the Holy Church and a magus would gather in the same building for a lecture would be unthinkable.
As for the case of Risei, the father, the Tōsaka family was one to which the Church already has old connections, despite being a house of magi.
It was the previous night that Kirei had discovered the surfacing pattern shaped in three marks. He had then consulted his father, and Risei had immediately taken his son to Turin the next morning to meet that young magus.
From then, after a hurried greeting, the explanations Tokiomi had given to Kirei in this secret meeting were concerning the same war, 'Heaven's Feel'. The meaning behind the mark that had appeared on Kirei's hand... That is, the product of Kirei acquiring the privilege to dispute the chance of getting his desire by a miracle through the fourth recreation of the Holy Grail that was to happen three years later.
Not that he would refuse to fight. Kirei's duty in the Holy Church was, in essence, direct removal of heresy, meaning he was a fully fledged combatant. You could say that it was his very duty to wager a life-and-death bet against a magus. Rather, the problem was the contradiction that it required Kirei, a clergyman, to participate as a 'magus' in the Heaven's Feel that was a dispute between magi.
"The thing about the Heaven's Feel is that it is a battle that uses Servants as familiars. So to keep on going forward, the elementary magecraft for the summoning itself becomes required. ...Essentially, the seven persons who are selected as Masters of the Servants have to be magi. It must be exceptional for someone like you, who doesn't make a living out of magecraft, to be recognized by the Grail at such an early stage."
"Does the Grail have preferred people to select?"
Tokiomi nods to the yet-unconvinced Kirei.
"I mentioned the '3 families of the beginning' — for the granting will favor the magi related to the Makiri, who have now changed their name to Matō, the Einzbern, or the Tōsaka houses. In other words..."
Tokiomi lifted his right hand to show the threefold pattern.
"As the current head of the Tōsaka family, I will participate in the next battle."
Then, was this man planning to cross arms with Kirei after having kindly guided him so thoroughly? Although Kirei couldn't comprehend that, he carried on with his numerous questions.
"I wonder about the Servants you mentioned earlier. Heroic Spirits summoned and used as familiars, you said..."
"It may be hard to believe, but that is the fact. That could be the one wonder of this Grail."
The legends of great men, super humans who have left their name in history and folklore. They are those who remained in the permanent memory of men after their death and were taken out of the category of mankind, promoted even in the spiritual realm; they are 'Heroic Spirits'. Those are on a whole different status from the vengeful spirits or common evil spirits from nature that the magi usually summon as familiars. So to speak, it is an existence with the spiritual status of a god. Although a part of that power can be brought out and borrowed, it is unthinkable that they would be used as familiars in the present world.
"If you consider that making this impossibility possible is the power of the Grail, you understand how outrageous a treasure it is. In the end, even the summoning of a Servant is but a mere fragment of the power of the Grail."
As if to say that he himself was dumbfounded by what he was saying, Tōsaka Tokiomi sighed deeply and shook his head.
"Heroic Spirits from between the ancient age of gods up to at best a century ago can be summoned. Seven Heroic Spirits follow seven Masters, each protecting their own Master and exterminating the enemy Masters. Heroes from any era and country are summoned into the present era, and would meet in a deadly competition for supremacy. That is the Holy Grail War of Fuyuki, Heaven's Feel."
"... Such a monstrosity? In a place where thousands of citizens live?"
All magi follow the common idea of hiding themselves. It's the one obvious way to go in this era that believes science to be the sole universal truth. Revealing their existence is definitely impossible when we take the Holy Church into consideration as well.
But you would have to conceal a power that can bring a catastrophic disaster with Heroic Spirits. Using seven Servants in a conflict between humans in the present era and have them clash together... It is practically the same as ordering a slaughter of massive calibre in a war.
"— Of course, it is implicitly understood that the confrontation must be held in secret. You need a well prepared supervision to make sure of that."
Having remained silent until then, Kirei's father, the priest Risei, came forward and voiced his part.
"The Heaven's Feel happens every 60 years, and this time will be the fourth. The civilizing of Japan had already begun when the second War occurred. Even in the most remote places, we cannot ignore people witnessing the spreading of serious damages.
Then, since the third Heaven's Feel, an agreement has been made so that we at the Holy Church would dispatch a supervisor. To reduce the disasters from the War to a minimum, we must conceal its existence and have the magi comply to keeping the feud secret."
"Does the Church serve as a referee in a conflict between magi?"
"Precisely because it is a conflict between magi. There is no one in the Magi's Association who is fit as a referee because of political implications. There simply wasn't any way other than having recourse to an external authority such as the Church.
In addition, it was just not possible for our Holy Church to let the name of the Holy Grail be used lightly to begin with. We can't ignore the possibility that it really is the cup that received the blood of the son of God, either."
Both Kirei and Risei, father and son, have a place in the section called the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament. A duty of that group in the Holy Church is to recover control of holy relics. The treasure called the Holy Grail appears in many tales and legends, and the importance of the 'Grail' in the doctrine of the Church is particularly large.
"Under such conditions, last time, in the chaos of the World War, a meeting was held at a suitable time regarding the third Heaven's Feel and I, then a youngster, was appointed an important task. For the next battle, I would proceed to the land of Fuyuki to watch over your fight."
At the words of his father, Kirei could but tilt his head.
"Please wait. Isn't the chosen Church supervisor expected to be fair? It is a problem if a participant is a blood relative... "
"There, there. You would think this is a blind spot of the rules?"
The unusual smile of the stubborn father was implying something that Kirei could not read.
"Kotomine-san, you shouldn't trouble your son. Let's move on to the real question."
Tōsaka Tokiomi explicitly urged the old priest to the point.
"Hm, right. — Kirei, all we have explained was only about the 'outward aspects' of the Grail War. There is another reason I had you meet Mr. Tōsaka today."
"... Which is?"
"To tell the truth, we have had a positive proof since long ago that the Grail that appeared in Fuyuki was a different one from the holy relic of the 'son of God.' In the end, the battle in the Heaven's Feel of Fuyuki is only fought for a treasure that is a mere copy of the omnipotent container, one that opens a way to a utopia. It is in no way related to our Church."
That's how it is. Otherwise, the Holy Church would not be content with just the role of a silent supervisor. If the Grail turned out to be an actual 'Holy Relic', the Church would bypass the cease-fire agreement and plunder it out of the hands of the magi.
"If the final goal of a chalice is only a means used to reach the Akashic Records, it is none of our Holy Church's concern. Afterall, the craving of magi to find the 'Akasha', the origin, does not necessarily conflict with our doctrine.
— Though, to allow ourselves to leave it alone, we need to pass it to a strong person. If an unwelcome fellow got around it, we don't know what kind of accident might be caused."
"Then, if we eliminate it as a heresy —"
"That is still difficult. The magi who confront for the Grail have an uncommon tenacity. If we were to conduct a frontal trial, a conflict with the Magi's Association would be inevitable. And that would create too many victims.
Rather, as the second best plan, there would be nothing more interesting than finding a way to entrust it to a 'desired person'."
"... I see."
Kirei was gradually catching up to the true motive of this interview since his father was intermingling with Tōsaka Tokiomi, a magus.
"Since they have been oppressed by the faith of their native land, the Tōsaka family has followed the same doctrine as ours. Knowing Tokiomi-kun's character, he himself is guaranteed to qualify for the use of the Grail."
Tōsaka Tokiomi nodded, then resumed speaking.
"Reaching 'Akasha'. There is no greater purpose than this to us Tōsaka. But, sadly, the Einzberns and Matōs, who once shared the same motive, have lost track of it to more worldly matters, and have now totally forgotten their original intention. I won't even mention how they have invited four Masters from the outside, as well. They want the Grail for their despicable lust and nothing else."
That would mean that the Holy Church would approve of no one else but Tōsaka Tokiomi as the bearer of the Grail. So Kirei understood more about his assignment.
"So you would like me to participate in the next Grail war to let Mr. Tōsaka Tokiomi win?"
Finally, Tōsaka Tokiomi showed the first sign of a smile.
"Of course, we will join forces under the surface against the five remaining Masters, and annihilate them, to increase the chances of victory."
At Tokiomi's words, Father Risei gives an austere nod. The neutrality of the Holy Church as a referee was already turning to a farce. This Heaven's Feel must be interesting, taking into concern the original expectations of the Church.
As for that, it was neither good nor wrong to Kirei. If the intentions of the Church were clear, there was only the fulfilling of his task as one devoted executor.
"Kirei-kun, you will be transferred from the Holy Church to the Magi's Association, and you will become my apprentice."
Without a break and with a practical tone, Tōsaka Tokiomi hastened his explanations.
"A — transfer ?"
"The exchange has already been made formal, Kirei."
Saying this, Father Risei took out a letter. It was a notification with the joint signatures of both the Holy Church and the Magi's Association, and was addressed to Kotomine Kirei. Kirei was more than surprised at the merit of the performance: from the day before to today, the letter had been taken care of immediately.
In the end, there really was no real purpose of acting up in the matter for Kirei, nor had he any particular reason for taking offense at the discussion. For Kirei had no purpose at all.
"The important thing will be to have you do nothing but practice magecraft in my house in Japan. The next Heaven's Feel is in 3 years.
By then, you must have a Servant that obeys you, and become a magus who will participate in the battle as a Master."
"But — is it alright? If I openly study under you, won't there be any doubts that we are working together?"
Tokiomi gave a cold-hearted smile and shook his head.
"You don't know about magi. If their interests collide, a conflict between a teacher and his student ending in a battle to the death is a common occurrence in our world."
"Aah, I see."
Though Kirei didn't mean to understand about magi, he had a good grasp of the tendencies of the race called magi. He had had countless occasions to compete with 'heretical' magi as an executor. The number of people that he had brought down with his own hands isn't in the tens or twenties.
"So, do you have other questions?"
As Tokiomi requested for a conclusion, Kirei asked the question he had had since the beginning.
"Only one — The Grail that selects the Masters, just what is its purpose?"
Apparently that was really not a question Tokiomi expected. The magus' eyebrows gathered in a wrinkle for a short while, then he gave a relaxed reply.
"The Grail will... Of course, it will preferably select Masters who sincerely need it.
As I said earlier, us Tōsaka will be included at the top of that list as one of the original 3 families."
"So, all of the Masters have a reason to want the Grail?"
"It isn't limited to that. The Grail requires 7 persons to show up. If not enough people turn up at the present time, irregular people who would normally not be chosen can carry Command Seals. There might have been such a case in the past, but — Aah, I see."
While speaking, Tokiomi seemed to realize what Kirei was suspicious of.
"Kirei-kun, you think you shouldn't have been selected, don't you?"
Kirei nodded. No matter how hard you would search, there was no reason for a wishing machine to notice him.
"Hm, certainly, it is odd. The only thing that would link you to the Grail would be your father, who was appointed as supervisor, but... No, you could think that's the very reason."
"... Which means?"
"The Grail might have already anticipated that the Holy Church would support the Tōsaka family. So an executor of the Church who would acquire command Seals would back up the Tōsaka."
Saying this, Tokiomi, who feels satisfied at having to end the discussion, added.
"In other words, the Grail is giving me, a Tōsaka, two shares of command Seals, and for that, it chose you as a Master.
... How about it? Does this explanation satisfy you?"
So, he gave his conclusion with such a daring tone.
This arrogant confidence seems to suit the man called Tōsaka Tokiomi. This man holds a dignity that just borders sarcasm.
Certainly, as a magus, he was a man of excellence. And he must have had the self-confidence that came with that excellency. That's why he probably would never doubt his own judgement.
That meant that you would never get any other answer from Tokiomi here and now — That was Kirei's conclusion.
"When do we go to Japan?"
Hiding his inner discouragement, Kirei changed the subject.
"I will visit Great Britain for a bit. I have a small task to do at the Clock Tower.
You will go to Japan a step ahead. I will tell my family."
"Understood. Then, I will go at once."
"Kirei, go ahead first. I need to discuss something with Mr. Tōsaka."
Nodding to his father's words, Kirei stood up from his seat and, after a silent bow, left the room alone.
Remaining in the room, Tōsaka Tokiomi and Father Risei silently watched Kotomine Kirei off.
"That's a reliable son you have, Kotomine-san."
"His strength as an 'Executor' is guaranteed. None of his colleagues are more studious than him during training. I'm the one you should doubt."
"Ho... Is that the exemplary attitude of a defender of the faith?"
"Oh, it shames me to say it, but this Kirei is the only pride of a senile old fool like me."
The old Father was known for his rigor, but, feeling at ease with Tokiomi, he smiled. As his eyes turned to his only son, his trust and love clearly showed up.
"As I still didn't have a child past 50, I had given up on an heir... But now, I am amazed at how far my son has gone."
"Though, he agreed more easily than I thought, hasn't he."
"My son would jump in a fire if that was the will of the Church. That's how far he would go for his faith."
Though Tokiomi didn't mean to doubt the words of the old Father, the impression he had had of Father Risei's son wasn't quite such a 'passionate faith'. The quiet appearance of the man called Kirei felt more nihilistic to him.
"To be honest, that was a disappointment. However I look at him, it seems he was just involved in something that is of no concern to him."
"No... That might really be salvation for him."
Speaking ambiguously, Father Risei started muttering gloomily.
"It is a private matter, but his wife died a few days ago. They hadn't been married for even two years."
Tokiomi was at loss of words under the unexpected circumstances.
"Though it doesn't show, he seems to endure it fairly well. ... He has too many memories in Italy. Maybe right now, for Kirei, returning to his old fatherland for a new mission could help heal his wounds."
Risei sighed in his speech. Tokiomi kept gazing straight at him.
"Tokiomi-kun, doesn't one's true worth show as hardship increases?"
Tokiomi deeply bowed at the old priest's words.
"I am obliged. My debt towards the Holy Church and both generations of the Kotomine family will be carved as a family precept."
"Not at all. I am only fulfilling my oath for the future generation of Tōsaka. — The rest will be only praying for God's protection until your journey takes you to the 'Root'."
"Yes. My grandfather's regrets, the dearest wish of the Tōsaka... this is what my whole life has ever been for."
Hiding how much his self-confidence was suffocated by the weight of his responsibilities, Tokiomi nodded resolutely.
"This year, I will reach the Grail. I will make sure of that."
At Tokiomi's dignity, Father Risei blessed the memory of his late friend.
'My friend... You too got a good heir.'
With the wind of the Mediterranean sea rustling his hair, Kotomine Kirei returned from the villa atop the hill, alone and silent, on the narrow, winding path.
Finally, Kirei put in order the many impressions he had had of the man called Tōsaka Tokiomi, whom he had met just then.
Perhaps he had led a hard life. As if pride was proportionally converted to the experienced hardship, he was a man endowed with a firm dignity he could rightfully boast about.
He understands that sort of personality quite well. Kirei's very father was of the same kind as that Tōsaka Tokiomi.
Men who have defined the meaning behind their birth, behind their own existence, and followed it without a doubt. They definitely would never waver, never hesitate.
Forging it into an iron will of acting with a clear objective, vectorized only by the fulfillment of 'something' that was identified as their lifelong goal, in any aspects of their life.
The 'form of this conviction' can be, in the case of Kirei's father, a pious faith; and in Tōsaka Tokiomi's case, perhaps it was the self-confidence of one who was chosen — a privilege not for the plebeians, and the self-consciousness of someone with a responsibility to shoulder. He was one of those remaining 'genuine aristocrats' you would rarely find nowadays.
From then on, the existence of Tōsaka Tokiomi would probably hold important implications for Kirei... But even so, he was of a type that was incompatible with Kirei's kind. That was just the same as saying that he was similar to his father.
Those who see only their ideals can never understand the pain of those unable to have one. People like Tokiomi had a 'sense of purpose' as the base of their convictions, but that was totally absent in Kotomine Kirei's mind. Not once in over 20 years had he ever felt such a sensation.
By judging so, he couldn't consider the most noble idea, have comfort in any quest, or find rest in any pleasure. Such a man couldn't have any such thing as a sense of purpose in the first place.
He couldn't even understand how he was so far removed from the sense of values that the ordinary world held. Kirei couldn't even figure out a passion to throw himself into about anything.
He still believed that there was a God. That there was a supreme existence, although he didn't have the maturity to perceive it.
He lived believing that one day, the holiest word of God would lead him to the supreme truth and save him. Betting on that hope, clinging to it.
But in the depth of his heart, he already knew. That salvation would no longer come from the love of God for a man like him.
Being confronted to such anger and despair drove him to masochism. Under the pretense of penance for moral training, he simply kept wounding himself repeatedly. But those tortures forged Kirei's body like iron, and when he realized, he had risen to the top of the elite of the Holy Church as an 'Executor', where nobody had followed him.
Everyone called that 'glory.' Kotomine Kirei's self-control and devotion were praised as a model for the clergy. His father Risei was no exception.
Kirei understood very well why Kotomine Risei had so much faith and admiration for his son, but that was a misunderstanding so far off the point; for in reality, his heart was shameful. A whole lifetime's worth would probably not be enough to amend that misunderstanding.
Till this day, there is no one who has come to understand how much Kirei lacked.
Yes, even the only one woman he was to love —
Feeling a sense of lightheadedness, Kirei loosened his pace and put his hand to his forehead.
When he tried to remember the wife he had lost, he lost his diffuse thoughts in a rising mist. It felt like standing in a fog before a precipice. The instinct for survival told him to not to take even one step forward.
When he realized, he had arrived at the bottom of the hill. Kirei stopped and looked back to the faraway villa at the top.
Finally, he still hadn't reached a satisfactory conclusion on his interview with Tōsaka Tokiomi... That was the important problem that concerned Kirei the most.
Why had a miraculous power such as the 'Grail' chosen Kotomine Kirei?
Tokiomi's explanation was a desperate one. If the Grail wanted a supporter for Tokiomi, there must have had been as many a capable person as it wanted who would be friends with him; not Kirei.
There must have been a reason to his selection for the next Grail's appearance.
Yet... The more he thought about it, the more Kirei found the inconsistency worrying.
He essentially didn't have any 'sense of purpose', nor any ideal or aspiration. Regardless of the way you look at it, he had no reason to be the bearer of a miracle such as an 'almighty wish machine.'
With a gloomy face, Kirei looked at the three symbols that had appeared on the back of his right hand.
They say the Command Seals are a holy mark.
Would he find a pledge to carry, three years from now?
|Back to Prologue: 8 years ago||Return to Main Page||Forward to Prologue: 1 year ago|