Further removed to the west than Miyama town of Fuyuki, the winding state highway stretched westwards with its back towards the city's lights. Meanwhile, an undeveloped piece of forest waited for visitors further up the road. Continuing beyond even the prefectural border, the state highway silently meandered on.
Although there were two lanes on the road, no crossing cars can be seen even with the sparse street lights. The state highway in the dead of night seemed to fade from memory and into the silence.
In such a silent night, a silver beast flew by.
Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe. The flowing, elegant, streamlined body with a scent of antiquity resembled a noble lady, while the roaring of the Inline-6 SOHC engine was like that of a fierce beast's. And behind the steering wheel of the classic sedan recklessly going beyond 100 kilometers per hour - were unexpectedly the slender wrists of a young lady.
"Hey hey, this goes pretty fast, doesn't it?"
Irisviel, who held the steering wheel and whose face was full of pleased smiles, said. Sitting in the passenger's seat, Saber's face was full of nervousness, and she barely managed to squeeze out a stiff smile and a nod.
"In-Indeed, unexpectedly, this is...some rather... skillful... driving..."
"Right? I had special training, even though it may not look like it."
That being said, based on the unfamiliar way she dealt with the gears, she's far from being a proficient driver.
"Among all the toys Kiritsugu brought to the Einzbern castle, I favor this one the most. I was always just running circles in the castle grounds, and today is the first time for me to drive in such a wide space. It's wonderful!"
"A toy, huh..."
There won't be any objections to call something like a skateboard or bicycle a toy. But for a machine with a speed of over 100 kilometers per hour on a serpentine road, it is a mismatch of classes. People would never call things that can put their lives in danger with the smallest mistakes as toys in ordinary situations.
Although it is a classic sedan made more than forty years ago, it possesses a 2996cc. M198 engine and its maximum speed is 260 kilometers per hour. Irisviel's reckless roam, compared to the car's potential ability, is merely a beginning prelude.
Apparently, Emiya Kiritsugu had specially prepared this car in the Einzbern castle earlier on, so Irisviel and Saber can have transportation apart from walking once they enter Fuyuki.
For over half a month, this car had been parked in the hotel's underground parkade. Now they are driving their precious car towards the Einzberns' castle residence.
"Hmm. Wait a minute, Irisviel. Haven't you been driving on the right side until just a moment ago?"
"Ah, that's right."
Irisviel nodded casually as if it was a very small mistake, and the car gave a jerk and moved onto the cruising lane.
Irisviel had never been outside of the Einzbern castle ever since she was born; for her, it is obviously her first time driving on a highway. Saber has been paying attention to her line of sight since they took off. Obviously Irisviel does not know anything about street signs. Although driving on the left is written in the law, it appears Irisviel doesn't even know this.
At least she could understand a little of what traffic lights mean, but that only went as far as considering slowing down when she saw the red light.. Although right now it is midnight with little traffic, it would be a miracle for them to be able to safely arrive at their destination.
"...Do we still have a long way to go to reach the Einzbern castle in this land?"
"I heard it will only take one hour to reach by car. When we get close, we should be able to see it..."
Saber did not stop wishing for this dangerous journey to be over, even if only a second sooner. It is already very fortunate that no cars are coming towards them on the midnight highway, but the fact that the winding road still posed a great danger filled Saber's blood with adrenaline, as if it were right before a battle. As a Servant, she possesses extraordinary reflexes and strength, and can immediately carry Irisviel outside the car to escape if danger presents. However, this legendary sports car worth ten million yen would then be reduced to an unrecognizable pile of scrap iron. That doesn't fit with Saber's frugal economics.
"...Wouldn't it have been better to hire a chauffeur?"
"Of course not. That would be borin- no, that would be too dangerous. After all, once we enter Fuyuki city, we can be attacked by other Masters at any time. You're the one who doesn't want to see innocent people being dragged into this, Saber."
"That is true..."
Just which one is more dangerous on this mountainous road: being attacked by other Masters, or Irisviel's driving skills? - Saber was half-seriously considering this question when a cold wave reached her senses like the edge of a blade.
"Stop the car!"
Not understanding Saber's sudden warning, the unmindful Irisviel asked dumbly.
Saber didn't have time to explain to her. She forcefully stretched her torso across the driver's seat, took hold of the steering wheel with one hand, and slammed her left foot tip-first on the brakes.
The reason Saber could immediately make decisions, enabling her to control this rampaging machine, is her skill of Riding as a Servant. She can completely understand the control of all ridden equipment both known and unknown to her.
Fortunately the car maintained a straight path during the sharp brake, and did not spin furiously.
The tires of the Mercedes skidded on the asphalt, emitting clouds of white smoke. As the car's uncontrollable slide continued, Saber once again confirmed the feeling that set her nerves on edge.
Without a doubt, it was definitely the scent of a Servant. Speak of the devil, indeed.
Irisviel fell silent. A figure of strange appearance emerged on the far stretch of the road lit by the Mercedes' headlights.
The tall figure before them, as though not even considering the danger of the speeding car, stood unperturbed in the middle of the road.
A luxurious robe of ancient design; sanguineous scarlet patterns adorned the pitch-black fabric. Those abnormally big eyes easily remind one of nocturnal animals. Even if one were to ignore these bizarre points, no ordinary passerby would appear in such a place at this time.
The car's momentum was overcome by the wheels' friction and the Mercedes finally stopped. There was barely ten meters between the car and the figure in front of it.
Saber quickly analyzed the current situation, then said to Irisviel.
"Get off the car as soon as I do. But don't go too far."
If the opponent is a Servant, a car with its steel frame would be as fragile as a mere cardboard box. If they were to remain in the car they would have been defenseless. After all, it's better to shift to a better defense position.
Saber opened the gull-wing door and stepped into the frigid night. Mixed with the smell coming from the trees rustled by the night wind was the acrid stench of burnt tire.
The figure in front of her eyes was different from the five she's seen before. If it's a Servant she hasn't met yet, it would be Caster, or perhaps Assassin... so Saber thought.
Although Saber and Irisviel, who didn't know about the ruse that occurred in the Tōsaka residence the other night, could not eliminate the possibility of Assassin, this Servant who was neither running away nor in hiding but standing proudly in front of them doesn't seem to be Assassin. Using the process of elimination, there's only one conclusion - the figure in front of them is Caster.
Is the expression on his face really the expression of a warrior about to do battle?
The confused King of Knights surveyed the opponent's countenance once again.
He was smiling, which in itself is understandable. For a warrior to be filled with joy upon facing their decided place of death is decidedly not uncommon. But that was not Caster's expression. It was as though they were long-lost brothers finally reuniting, a face shining so purely with delight it was almost piddling...
Before the unnerved Saber could challenge his identity, Caster betrayed her estimations and acted.
Caster bowed his head deferentially, knelt down on the asphalt road like a courtier being presented before a king.
"I've been waiting, your majesty the holy maiden."
Saber was getting more and more lost with the situation. Although she was once a king and accepted the genuflection of countless lords and heroes, she had no memories for this man in front of her eyes. This man was not one of her former subjects of Camelot.
Firstly, the title 'holy maiden' is very strange. When she governed Britain as King Arthur, she never exposed the fact that she is in truth a woman even at the end.
Irisviel, who got off the Mercedes after a while, hid behind Saber, who was full of nervous guard, and silently observed Caster.
"Saber, do you know this person?"
"No, I don't have any impression of him -"
As if he had heard Saber and Irisviel's murmurs, Caster lifted up his head and said:
"... Oh, oh, how can you say that? Don't you remember me?"
In reply to his ever more exaggerated words, Saber was astonished.
"Whatever you may say, this is the first time I've met you - I don't know where you have gone wrong, but... maybe you've got the wrong person?"
"Oh oh, wuwuwu..."
Caster began to sob as if he was very sad, and his hands were clawing his hair. His extremely happy expression up till now changed completely, his strange, greasy complexion twisted by dismay and dejection like a caricature. Just based on this, it can be seen that he is a dangerous man whose emotions change at a whim.
"It's me! I am your forever most royal servant Gilles de Rais! I've always prayed for your resurrection, always waited for the miraculous day when I can meet you again. I came here to the ends of time for that purpose, Jeanne!"
When Irisviel heard the man's words, she caught her breath.
"Gilles de Rais...?"
This is already the second Servant to declare his real name in front of them. Although his purpose is unknown, the name is indeed the renowned title given to Caster in the current world.
But for Saber, once his origin became clear, doubt simply hardened into denial.
"I don't know your name, nor do I know of this Jeanne."
Sighing half with shock after Saber's declaration, Caster let out even more scattered wheezings.
"What... could it be, that you've forgotten? Who you were in mortal life?!"
Saber was getting annoyed with this situation in which she couldn't get her point clear, so she regarded Caster grimly and said:
"Since you've already declared your name, then according to the knights' decorum I'll tell you my true name too. I am Arturia, the rightful child of Uther Pendragon, and the king of Britain."
Caster, lost for words, stared in blank amazement at this girl in front of him, who puffed her chest and proudly declared her name. And then-
"Oh! Oh! Oh waaaaaa!!"
Caster began a fit of weeping which was almost a shriek, while unsightly hammering his fists on the ground.
"How painful, how tragic is this! Not only did she lose her memories, even her mind is this befuddled... you... you! God, why are you so cruel to this lovely maiden of mine?"
"What are you talking about? To start with, I'm not -"
"Jeanne, I understand why you won't admit it. You, who originally was more devoted to God and believed in Him deeper than anyone else, was instead discarded by God. When you were sentenced as a witch and executed God did not give you any help or salvation. It is not without reason that you're now acting in this way."
Saber suddenly felt a repulsive feeling completely different from fear. It was as if every single hair in her body was standing on their ends.
The man in front of her didn't hear Saber's words at all, and never wanted to hear them in the first place. He had come to a conclusion based on his own delusions regarding Saber, and he has no doubts toward this conclusion. Under the control of this train of thoughts, none of Saber's words can go into Caster's head.
"Wake up! Jeanne! You don't need to be bewildered by the likes of God! You are the holy maiden of Orleans, the savior of France, Jeanne d'Arc!"
"That's enough! This is unsightly!"
Saber shouted, no longer showing confusion or restraint and openly displaying her disgust towards the kneeling Caster.
"I am Saber, and you are Caster, a Heroic Spirit. We are both Servants who fight for the Grail. The reason we met here is nothing more, and nothing less."
"... Saber, there's no point in saying anything to this man."
Behind the agitated King of Knights, Irisviel rebuked her.
As Saber - that is, Arturia - is an incomplete Heroic Spirit, she would not possess the knowledge that surpasses time and space one gains when one has reached the Throne of Heroes. Therefore, she is not aware of that tale tainted by insanity, the legend of "Bluebeard", Baron Gilles de Rais.
Gilles de Rais rose to the position of general as a savior and hero of France, but he turned his back on glory when he indulged in the immorality and lust of black magic. The 'monstre sacré' who eventually slaughtered hundreds of youths...
Gilles' descent into madness occured about the same time as the final fate of the valiant Jeanne d'Arc, who he fought beside. Thus, there are many legends that have connected the two. The deep-rooted delusion that the Heroic Spirit called forth by the Grail, Gilles de Rais, is seeing now can be nothing but madness. It's impossible to know just how much similarity exists between Saber Arturia and Joan of Arc, but the two of them must be very similar indeed. No matter what, Gilles - Caster already firmly believes Saber to be that person he's always thought of, and did not allow any doubt to be present.
"Jeanne, please stop referring to yourself as Saber, or to me as Caster. We will soon be free from the bound of this shackle called Servant. The Holy Grail War is about to be over!"
"That's just your own wishful thinking."
This time it was Irisviel who answered in place of Saber, who was already too angry to speak.
"Hey, General de Rais, since you said the war is already over, what about the Grail?"
"It's so obvious; the omnipotent Grail, that wish-granting machine is already in my hands!"
Caster, full of satisfied smiles, said proudly.
"My only wish was that the holy maiden Jeanne d'Arc would be resurrected, and now this wish had already been fulfilled! Without even the need to compete with anyone, my wish had already become reality! The Grail has already chosen me – Gilles – without even fighting at all!"
Ding! A shrill sound reverberated. The asphalt before Caster's eyes split perfectly into two.
It was Saber's invisible sword. Although Caster couldn't see it, he could feel the aura of the sharp blade right on the tip of his nose.
"If you continue to ridicule all the wishes of us Heroic Spirits - I will cut you down without mercy, Caster."
While her words were free of emotions, Saber's voice itself was as cold as a blade.
"Come, stand up. Knights can't attack someone who's kneeling on the ground. If you're also a soldier, then you can keep your cunning arguments to yourself, and obtain the Grail with straightforward warfare. Let me, Saber, be your first opponent!"
The mad flame in Caster's eyes disappeared.
His face, which was twisted with excitement, also gradually returned to its calm. Caster lifted his head up to look at Saber; the formidable will harbored within his gaze did not change the slightest.
It was a look of silent resolution. He had merely changed his determination into an even firmer belief.
"It seems just words won't be enough... Is your heart still sealed, Jeanne?"
Caster's gloomy voice no longer contained the lament just then.
"Then I am very sorry. It seems there's a need to use enforced therapy on you. Whatever it may be – I will definitely complete all the preparations for you next time."
The long black robe floated backwards abruptly, creating a very big distance between him and Saber. Caster, standing up again, was almost a different person from the figure kneeling on the ground sobbing just then. A great air of majestic command that seemed to be able to stain the entire earth red with blood emitted from his person... not only Heroic Spirits, but even tyrants will feel the oppressing tension of fear.
The man in front of her is undoubtedly not an easy enemy – Saber, who stood in front of Caster, knew this from her instincts without a doubt.
"I swear to you, Jeanne. The next time we meet, I will definitely... save your soul from the curse of God."
"Save your words. Leave if you do not have the will to command a sword."
To Saber's cold reply, Caster silently removed his material form and disappeared into the night.
Letting out a long sigh, Saber also removed her battle tension. Irisviel collapsed onto the fender of the Mercedes, exhausted.
"Confronting such a senseless opponent... was rather tiresome."
"Right. However, I'm going to chop him up before he opens his mouth next time – I'm going to throw up if someone like that stayed a minute longer."
Although Caster has already left, Saber still said that indignantly.
"You regret how he escaped so easily?"
"Uh huh. I was just about to make him pay for his behavior of speaking absolute nonsense here - is what I want to say."
For a brief moment meekness covered her anger, as Saber reluctantly furrowed her brows.
"But in all honesty, it might be that Caster's retreat is a good piece of luck for tonight's."
Hearing Saber say such discontented words, Irisviel was very surprised.
For an opponent so skilled in thaumaturgical battle as Servant Caster, his bane would be Servant Saber, who has the strongest magic resistance. If the duo actually started fighting, Saber should achieve victory with an overwhelming advantage.
But Saber, with an expression that even she doesn't completely understand, shook her head with a bitter smile.
"That Caster... was a bit different. Or he's not quite the same compared with other magi. Although I can't be sure either... but it felt too dangerous for me to fight him in this condition of having my left hand sealed."
Saber's sixth sense was also strengthened to a degree due to her class's specialty, almost to the level of precognition. If even she felt uneasy about the enemy, Irisviel also had to reevaluate Caster.
"In any case, Lancer should be first..."
"Yes. But it's extremely fortunate that Lancer is also a noble warrior, not escaping or hiding himself away. He's also looking forward to our duel."
Although they are each other's enemies, Saber was sympathetic to Lancer's spirit. But even so, this did not erase Irisviel's tinge of unease. After all, no matter how the Servant is full of the spirit of chivalry, it's hard to say how much of that holds true for the Master.
And the King of Knights, who was put on the shackle of being a Servant, is she still fighting with the reputation of the sword...? When she thought of this, Irisviel couldn't help herself but feel sad.
Unknown to Irisviel, Saber, or even Caster who retreated first, the entire process of this chance meeting between them was under the surveillance of pursuers.
In the dense forest connected to the state highway, the pursuers wearing the ghastly skull masks concealed themselves on the treetops swallowed by the darkness, and surveyed all that just happened with a vigilant eye.
Not just melting into the shadows; the pursuers who cut all of their scents to evade Saber's senses seemed to be shadows themselves. No one else can achieve this apart from Assassin. Looks like Assassin, according to Kotomine Kirei's command, followed Saber and Irisviel from the warehouses to here.
Assassin, who was originally just given the mark of Irisviel, Einzbern's Master, obtained an unexpected gain. The last Servant who didn't even show himself in the melee of the warehouse district, Caster, was finally discovered by Assassin.
Although the scent of Caster, who departed in spiritual form, is quickly fading, Assassin's sharp spiritual sense can still detect it. Right now it is the best time for pursuit.
"Of course, that is not a task for you."
A voice suddenly sounded behind Assassin. A vague outline hazily emerged from the dim forest – it is, unexpectedly, another skull mask.
The second Assassin differed from the previous Assassin only in body shape, while the mask they wore and the black cloak attire were identical. Meanwhile, both differed from the Assassin who reconnoitered in the warehouse district in body shape and build. Although they are Servants of the same class, they are all clearly, unmistakably different individuals.
"Then what about giving it to you?"
"Yes. You only need to keep following Saber and her Master... By the way, did Master Kirei see the situation here?"
"No, master Kirei did not share perceptions with me."
The Assassin who initially tailed Irisviel shook his head. Looks like it was another Assassin who reconnoitered in the warehouse district just then.
The second Assassin smacked his lips when he heard this reply.
"Just to be on the safe side, we should still report to master Kirei the things that happened here..."
"Give that job to me."
A third voice followed. It's nothing to be surprised about now; another white skull mask appeared in the darkness.
This time, it was a child-like Assassin with a shrill voice and short stature. Perhaps no one knows just how many Assassins gathered here.
The monstrous sound of the engine of the Mercedez once again resounded in the night sky, and it sped away roaring in the state highway. Maybe Irisviel and Saber hastily took the road again.
At the same time the three shadows nodded to each other, and also disappeared like a whirlwind in the vast night.
In the darkness as thick as blood, only one solitary candle flicked. The dim candlelight reflected Uryū Ryūnosuke's handsome face.
Scarlet blood completely smeared these fingers too delicate for a man. In front of the man, who sat beside a long table, three rows of raw meat that reflected bright red were placed.
They were intestines. On the long table were human intestines.
Ryūnosuke stared intently at the intestines in front of him, then picked up a tuning fork with his left hand and hit it on the edge of the table. Ding. The tuning fork emitted a clear sound.
Before the clear sound of the tuning completely disappeared, he quickly poked everywhere on the intestines with his right hand.
At that time –
A seemingly agonizing sound suddenly came out of the darkness.
Ryūnosuke listened carefully to the sound emitted, and nodded satisfactorily after he compared it with the residue echo of the tuning fork.
"Very good, so here it's ‘mi'."
As he spoke, he marked a point on the intestines with a pin. Many similar marks of musical notes have already been made on the incessantly quivering intestine.
The intestines seemed to be still alive. To be correct, it seems the owner of the intestines was still alive.
On the crucifix on top of the long table, a girl who was sobbing incessantly with pain was tied up. A horizontal cut was made on her abdomen, and the innards that were dragged out were being fondled with in Ryūnosuke's hand.
Even Bluebeard praised Ryūnosuke for his idea of making a living human into a pipe organ to play lamenting music. To make the girl picked as the material not die from massive blood loss or infections, Bluebeard placed a few healing and rejuvenation spells on her body, and specially made some adjustments to prevent the pain from numbing her brain.
Ryūnosuke had always been frustrated with the fact that the human body stops its life-like activities as soon as it encounters a slightly extreme stimulation.
But now, with the help of thaumaturgy, all these previous hurdles were solved easily. Now, Ryūnosuke can flutter his wings of perception freely, improvising at will.
"Very good, so one more time. 'Do re mi~'"
Ryūnosuke hummed as he pressed down on the intestine keyboard. But the sound of agony that accompanied his movement was very unharmonious with his own tune.
The tuner smeared with blood furrowed his brows and tilted his head, and once again pressed down on the place he just fine tuned with the tuning fork. However, the sound made by the girl tied on the crucifix was completely different from the marked noted.
Upon careful reflection, although the stimulation happens in the same place it doesn't guarantee that the moaning made would be the same. This human instrument is flawed in its basic conceptual design.
"Huh... what a failure."
Ryūnosuke sighed unhappily and scratched his head.
After the human canopy he tried hard to design yesterday, this human instrument also ended in failure. If this frustration keeps going on, even Ryūnosuke would lose confidence.
But just then, Ryūnosuke suddenly remembered what Bluebeard said to him in consolation after his failure at making the canopy yesterday.
"No matter what, the idea is the most important. Even though the final result is not as satisfactory as imagined, the act of challenging it already matters a lot by itself."
Ryūnosuke was inspired by the words of the exalted fiend. For a youth who was never understood by anyone, who created art alone, the encouragement of these words held great meaning.
Hard work is needed. Ryūnosuke once again picked up his spirits. It won't do to be afraid of failure. Failure is the mother of success; a long journey begins from the ground beneath his feet.
After all, he has to think progressively. It's too early to discard the making of this human instrument. If he can find the root of the problem, he might be able to find some solution.
And, sounds aside, the expression of pain the girl had when he fondled with the intestine taken out of her body was also extraordinarily alluring. To discard such a precious expression would more or less be a waste.
The air, full of the stench of blood, suddenly felt heavy. The density of prana floating in the air became even thicker. All this signaled the owner of this thaumaturgical workshop has returned.
"Ah, welcome back, Sir."
Appearing gradually in the candle light, Bluebeard, Servant Caster, didn't even give Ryūnosuke a glance. The emotionless face, compared with the singing and dancing expression of joy when he left, was a complete one-hundred-eighty-degree turn.
Looks like something unpleasant happened while he was out. Although Ryūnosuke was a bit worried, he still couldn't wait to report the fruits of his research to him.
"Sir, I'm very sorry. As you said, the instrument didn't work. But I– "
Ryūnosuke haven't figured out what the sentence suddenly uttered by Bluebeard meant. Caster left the shocked Ryūnosuke at the side, stretched out a hand from inside the black robe, and placed it on the gasping girl tied on the crucifix like the claw of an eagle.
"It's definitely not enough! This degree!"
"Ah, yeah. I figured that out too... Huh?"
Ryūnosuke's sentence stopped halfway through. Caster's spider-like fingers gradually increased in force; the girl's head was squashed to pieces in his hand as if it was a fruit.
Ryūnosuke wasn't very unhappy with Bluebeard's attitude towards him. He understood that right now he was in an emotionally agitated state, and was completely ignorant of Ryūnosuke's existence.
"Oh you abominable God, even now you still bind Jeanne's soul and are unwilling to let her go! These blasphemous sacrifices are not yet enough!"
There were no light of reason in Bluebeard's eyes, who was roaring with spit flying from his mouth. Although Ryūnosuke didn't know what happened, the Jeanne he spoke of must be the armored girl they saw in the crystal ball.
Probably trauma caused by emotional problems with his ex.
Ryūnosuke began to pity him. Although they haven't spent a long time together, Ryūnosuke knew this odd-looking fiend in front of him is in fact extremely simple in his emotions.
"I must let her know that in this world the so-called God is only a hollow myth. Things like save the entire world are only boasting lies. The prayers of the silent lamb will never be passed on to Heaven!"
"Hum, yes. I understand, Sir."
Chiming along, Ryūnosuke obviously had no idea what Bluebeard's words meant, and he had no intention of trying to find it out; he thinks it's very vulgar to barge in on other people's emotional problems.
"Just blaspheming God is not enough! We must also prove to the world the powerlessness of God's authority and the hypocrisy of God's love! We need to prove God does not have the ability to carry out judgment! No matter how much evil you've committed you will not suffer God's punishment. Isn't it so, Ryūnosuke?"
"Ah, stuff like God are just boring old tricks that stupid people believe in. Sir, you're so much cooler compared to that fake God."
"Then, let us blaspheme God even more vigorously! We will pile the sacrifices of blasphemy as high as mountains, and place this scene in front of her."
Toward Bluebeard's declaration, Ryūnosuke contemplated it a little.
"Um, that means... from now on it's quantity over quality?"
"Yes, exactly! You're indeed Ryūnosuke! You understood my meaning very well."
When he saw that Ryūnosuke completely understood what he meant, Bluebeard immediately had a face full of smiles and clapped the other's shoulder. Ryūnosuke got used to his extreme change of temperament ages ago.
Only that, to the change of methods he spoke of before, Ryūnosuke has absolutely no interest in.
"Ryūnosuke, how many children are still locked in the cells?"
"... There are still eleven of them alive. Three died when I just played a little with them."
"Very good. Start with those eleven; make them sacrifices as soon as possible. When we're finished with them, we'll capture other children as replacement before tomorrow morning."
"That's... a bit of a pity."
After all, mass slaughter doesn't fit Ryūnosuke's taste. At maximum, he enjoys the art of killing, and isn't a killing machine. Such acts that did not savor the feeling of the kill, but merely piled corpses into mountains, were not much different from wars or natural disasters. It is a waste of lives. Only by slaughtering people one by one can you experience the wonders of life.
Bluebeard perceived Ryūnosuke's discontent; therefore, with his face full of angelic smiles, he spoke to Ryūnosuke like someone reasoning with a naughty child.
"Say, Ryūnosuke, this isn't the time to be stingy. Every life in this world is our property. Therefore you need to have the right kind of attitude and a heart as generous as a king. Feel free to waste. Please do remember your wealth is never going to run out. Only then, are you fit to be called my Master."
"Like a king?"
Yes. Ryūnosuke is very rich.
Ryūnosuke is not even remotely interested in things like currency. For him, the only thing with expendable value is human life. Also he, who obtained Bluebeard's help, won't be persecuted by the law no matter how he kills people. He is free to kill whenever, wherever, and using whatever method. Only that, these powers were granted to him by Bluebeard.
If one can do anything he desires and waste in whatever ways he likes with everything in this world, it's effectively the same as owning all these things. Even the Pope and the President won't be able to compare with him. Uryū Ryūnosuke is currently the richest man in the world.
"But I still think we should plan a bit on how we use it."
"Ryūnosuke, you've been poisoned too deeply by this capitalist society. Living in this era, it's inevitable for you have such thoughts. But you need to know that for nobles, waste is a virtue. Someone who possesses wealth has a duty to exhibit his wealth to the world. Only by doing that can you show the brilliance of wealth and make it more meaningful."
Bluebeard's few words completely convinced Ryūnosuke. This master of death and destruction once again received new inspiration.
Anyways, like what Bluebeard said, just concentrate on getting rid of those kids tonight. Maybe he can find some new ways to play in the short time period. Ryūnosuke became more excited as he thought about this.
But even so –
Although he accepted Bluebeard's point, Ryūnosuke could not forget the figure of the girl who had been used as the human instrument.
Her face, that had been squashed by Bluebeard and which was no longer visible – was originally quite cute.
Looking down from the 32nd floor-- the top floor-- of Fuyuki's Hyatt hotel. There is no building taller than this in all of Fuyuki.
This title of the highest building will soon become that of the soon-to-be-completed Shinto shopping center. But because the Shinto shopping center is still under construction, this Hyatt hotel is top for already completed buildings.
Accompanying the unstoppable growth of Shinto, there will be more and more new hotels. But the Hyatt hotel, which has the most advanced facilities and best service standards, will not give up this status to anyone else. It's not only the hotel's managers and staff who think so; even the hotel's customers are amazed by Hyatt's high quality service and management.
But not even living in such a luxurious room, sitting in the real leather sofa by the window, could ease Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi's depression in the slightest.
To him, the items of this room are merely 'a wasteful gathering'. It's merely a somber room, some expensive furniture, and some fancy everyday items. To Kayneth who's been born into aristocracy, there's nothing he can't stand more than originally common things being dressed up in fancy outfits to appear falsely aristocratic. But right now that's exactly what this hotel room is like. There isn't the slightest bit of historical background or cultural heritage to this room. It is merely a pigsty decorated by a luxurious appearance.
But the instigator of this lowly feeling is not limited to just this hotel; this extremely tiny island nation known as Japan is filled with things that leave Kayneth with an unhappy, ugly feeling.
Even the tiny island of Hong Kong can give off a very local, folk-style feeling. But right now Fuyuki's Shinto does not show even a bit of its local culture. Like now, overlooking the city's night scenery from a high spot, there is no way for you to guess exactly in which city of which country you are. Simply gathering the most common items and putting them together-- if he were to be asked what exactly this city is, Kayneth would say it is merely like a mountain of rubbish.
If this easternmost island nation had preserved its original, honest backwater fishing village feeling then it would be much more interesting than it is now... but unfortunately when it comes to the ability to comprehend things like this, a race like the Japanese probably could not do it. This undeveloped country which did not even have a constitution a hundred years ago wants to forge forward and compete with western countries by purely relying on technological science and financial development, as if they wanted to unabashedly force their way into the ranks of the developed countries. It is indeed very difficult to reason with these people.
Kayneth used a finger to gently tap his head, which has a slight headache due to his annoyance, and sighed irately.
In reality, he isn't the type of person to get upset over small things such as these, but something else is the cause of his irritation.
The wide screen TV in front of him suddenly stopped its late night program and began broadcasting urgent news. The newscaster is at the scene, reporting live on an explosion caused by sources unknown on a warehouse street by the coastline of Fuyuki.
According to nearby residents who heard the explosion, firetrucks were on the scene about four hours ago. Although there is no news yet, those police who've already begun their investigation on-site are definitely hiding their findings. How can the ignorant, common people be able to make a correct judgment on something that surpasses their knowledge?
It's not simple being the supervisor in the Holy Church either. To count the time, within 30 minutes after Kayneth canceled the bounded field, all the cover-up tasks had been completed.
Now the entirety of the truth lies solely in the memories of those few who had been present. One of those people was Kayneth, Servant Lancer-- heroic spirit Diarmuid ua Duibhne's Master.
The beginning of the long-awaited Heaven's Feel. And the thoroughly prepared-for first battle. Although the results are different from his expectations.
Even in his youth, Kayneth Archibald had appeared to be more outstanding than other kids. No matter what the problem is, nobody could find a better solution than Kayneth's; an opponent who can win against him in a competition is non-existent.
Yet his effort had not surpassed the normal sense of purpose. Simply believing that his research results would be better than someone else's at some place, some time. That was all.
Because of that, Kayneth had already been seen as a 'prodigy' by others in his youth.
This fact is known by everyone. Nobody had any doubts about his title of 'prodigy', and nothing had ever threatened his position as 'prodigy'. So there was no need for him to be proud or egotistic, he simply enjoyed his deserved title as 'prodigy'.
He has never been in a tight spot, nor has he been extremely frustrated. In the world of the young Kayneth, he was the master of everything. There isn't a need to doubt this in the slightest. He was a talented magus prodigy. He was also the heir of the well-known Archibald family. Not only did he inherit the magic crest passed down through the generations, he himself possessed talent rarely witnessed in this world. All of these 'facts' made all the honors received by Kayneth seem matter-of-fact. So as to believing that there's nothing in this world Kayneth cannot achieve with his power, this kind of self-confidence is not unfounded. This is not a mistake of Kayneth himself, but the common knowledge of all those around him.
Even in the busy Clock Tower amongst the numerous, successful researchers, his crowning to the famous title Lord El-Melloi by a huge lead had made everyone nod approvingly. But to Kayneth who has become used to being called 'prodigy', to him who's always been the target of admiration and jealousy, Kayneth did not feel the slightest feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment. All of this is merely life's 'inevitable result' to him.
The past was like that, and the future will definitely be like that. This is a sacred and inviolable 'agreement of life'; to Kayneth there is no doubt about that.
Because of that, to he who can already predict the entire world-- if a very rare, to the point of impossible, 'accident' occurred, then that is the chaos Kayneth absolutely cannot tolerate; it is an insult and blasphemy to God's order.
The Servant, Saber, who had clearly been caught in his palm, escaping so very easily. Such an unspeakable inconceivability.
"—Yes, awaiting orders."
As soon as the words left his mouth, the handsome Heroic Sprit appeared obediently and respectfully in front of Kayneth, stooped in a bow. To Kayneth who is the main lecturer on spirit conjuring, speaking directly with the spiritual form poses no trouble, and is in fact very familiar. But a conversation like this face-to-face is very rare.
At least, if his Servant is face to face with him, Kayneth can observe the most minute changes in his expression while conversing with him. As for calling this type of activity a conversation-- it might be more fitting to call it an interrogation instead.
"Thanks for your hard work tonight. I was able to witness very well the might of Diarmuid ua Duibhne's twin spears."
"Thank you, Master."
Lancer replied simply and frankly. He did not feel proud upon hearing the compliment, nor did he show telltale signs of happiness, nor did he seem dissatisfied. He only accepted it with the stringent humility of a knight.
But to the eyes of Kayneth, this definitely was not Lancer's normal expression-- he's hiding something.
"Ah, please answer my question honestly. ... You, what do you plan on doing?"
"... You, what do you mean?"
Even faced with Kayneth's sudden question with an air of interrogation, Lancer still kept his very cautious attitude.
"Lancer, you swore to me as a Servant. To do everything in your power to help me attain victory in the Heaven's Feel. Right?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"Then why are you not serious about this?"
Even being scolded so by Kayneth, Lancer did not show the faintest expressions of anger or guilt, he only kept his head lowered with a serious face. Perhaps he had long been prepared for this interrogation.
"... I only did it for the Knight's honor. Not for viewing the battle as a game."
"Oh? Not admitting it?"
Kayneth made a disdainful grunting sound, then continued the questions.
"Then, let me ask you, why did you let Saber go?"
"You had the overwhelming advantage more than once, but both times you did not strike; do you really want me to control you with a Command Mantra?"
Lancer had no response this time, he only held his silence.
"I'll say it again. I witnessed all of tonight's battle. Only thus am I able to ask these questions. Lancer, do you feel that battles are 'fun'?"
Looking at the silent knight with his head lowered, Kayneth sneered and continued.
"Are you that happy? To fight with Saber. To the point of not being able to bring yourself to finish her off?"
To a bystander, they might praise Lancer's bravery and finesse in battle. But from the Master, Kayneth's point of view, bravery and finesse without any results-- this enrages him.
The original relic prepared to summon his preferred heroic spirit Alexander had been stolen by his ungrateful student, Waver Velvet. But this Waver's power does not match at all with that of Alexander's, in the end being unable to control his own Servant and causing Alexander to go on a rampage. Because of Waver's uselessness, the situation then descended into a chaotic status, destroying Kayneth's Lancer's chance at victory... Kayneth has never had so much bad luck. And the cause of all of this is Waver alone, but being angry at a person not in front of him is pointless. He can only store this anger inside of him, waiting for his time to face Waver in battle when he could dispel all this anger at him. Regarding this sort of 'external anger', Kayneth is very realistic, calm, and brutal.
But, conversely, Kayneth has no method of controlling his 'internal anger'. To Kayneth who has led a life of being admired, who has never had any contact with defeat his entire life, whether himself or a subordinate, anything that does not meet his expectations-- even if only a little bit-- is definitely not allowed. For he who has been successful all his life, who has never faced any setbacks, is very weak against defeat.
So, to Kayneth, right now, between the enemy Waver who obstructed his obtaining of victory and Lancer who was unable to bring him victory, the latter enrages him more.
"...I'm honestly very sorry. Master."
Noticing Kayneth's anger, Lancer bowed his head deeply and apologized in a serious tone.
"I swear on my reputation as a knight; I will bring you Saber's head. Please believe me, no matter what."
"There's no need to swear to me again! That is only the natural result!"
Kayneth, who had gradually became excited, used an angry voice to suppress Lancer's apologies.
"You already swore to me. That you would bring me, Kayneth El-Melloi, the Holy Grail! In other words, you will destroy the six other Servants; they mean to do the same thing. This is the entire battle's premise.
But what you are saying now... is that oath aimed at victory against Saber alone? This falls far short of the agreement at the start. What's wrong with you?"
"-- I think you're the one that has something wrong with him, Kayneth El-Melloi."
It's neither Lancer nor Kayneth, but the voice of a third person. Nobody knows when the woman who emerged from the bedroom had begun to hear the Servant and Master's conversation.
Although sporting red hair like burning flame, she gives off the feeling of an extraordinarily cold, icy beauty. She looks to be a bit younger than Kayneth, a high-class lady perhaps only around twenty years of age. One can tell at a glance that she's a sentimental and prestigious aristocrat. And the temperamental authority emanating from her severe eyes make her seem like an empress.
Her eyes that look as if they are scolding a subordinate are looking at only one person-- Kayneth.
"Lancer has done very well. It's you who are misjudging the situation."
"Sola, what are you saying..."
Considering Kayneth's personality, his not exploding in anger at this point is unfathomable. But this is all because that this woman is a very special being to him.
Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri. Kayneth's teacher-- the department head of the Department of Eulyphis's daughter. She is also the goddess of victory that will complete Kayneth's glory-- that is to say, she is Kayneth's fiancee.
The marriage of the two renowned families Archibald and Sophia-Ri, the union of the prodigy and the department head's daughter, this was a popular topic in the Clock Tower. Although Sophia-Ri's family crest has been passed on to the first son, so Sola doesn't have too high of a place as a magus.
But through her veins flows the ancestral magus blood of the Sophia-Ris. The union between Sola, who has magic circuits many magnitudes above the average person, and the 'prodigy' Kayneth will definitely bring about an even more excellent next generation.
But-- the glorious future seen by the bystanders may not necessarily be that happy for the people involved.
Sola who's glaring at her fiance and Kayneth who has a horrible expression because he feels humiliated-- no matter how you look at it, those two do not give off a feeling of harmonious love.
"Kayneth, if you ask me, in that situation Lancer's decision was correct. In order to contend with Berserker, he had no choice but to team up with Saber."
Although she hadn't been present to watch the battle on the warehouse street, Sola had used her own familiar to report everything that happened there. Not for the sake of entertainment. Although she has no magic crest, she's still a member of the Sophia-Ris and thus had been nurtured in the ways of magecraft since youth. Regarding a battle between magi such as the Heaven's Feel, her own knowledge is not any less than a Master such as Kayneth.
No, it's rather that from her point of view regarding the battle, the actions of Kayneth as a Master were decidedly lacking.
"Lancer's Gáe Dearg is a very effective noble phantasm against Berserker. Coupled with Saber's aid, it would be a simple matter to defeat that black Servant. This is a very good opportunity to destroy the enemy."
"... That is because you don't know how terrifying Saber is."
Kayneth, who was grinding his teeth because he could not vent his anger, rebutted in a hoarse voice.
Although Kayneth's fiancee has a very sharp eye for analysis, in the end Sola is not his master and not his commander. As Master, Kayneth had been determined to fight by relying on his own decisions since the start. Also, as a man being scolded by his own fiancee, Kayneth's dignity was hurt even more.
"I used the ability of the Master's Perspective1 to understand Saber's ability. She is a very strong Servant. Her comprehensive ability completely overrides Diarmuid's. A very good opportunity to defeat her was lost!"
"You... do you really understand the specialty of your Servant?"
Sola made a cold, nasal grunt towards the stubborn Kayneth as she said this.
"Do you think Gáe Buidhe is only for looking good? In comparison to Saber who has already received incurably critical damage, wouldn't Berserker, whose identity is unknown, be more of a threat?"
Although he wanted to argue more, Kayneth could not say even a word of rebuttal.
Towards Sola's offensive manner, Kayneth became reluctantly intimidated.
"Firstly, if you really consider Saber very dangerous--"
During Kayneth's silence, Sola continued on.
"Then why did you leave Saber's Master? That completely defenseless Einzbern woman standing to the side. When Lancer occupied Saber's attention and they were in the midst of battle, why did you not attack the opposing Master? But what you did instead was... hide on the sidelines and watch until the end? You're the one who's in the wrong."
Watching Sola sigh deeply, Kayneth felt as if he was burning with anger at this humiliation, but still he could only watch her in silence, not saying a word.
If it was any other person, Kayneth would've put an end to this humiliation long ago. Even if he had to put the title of Lord El-Melloi on the line, he would have definitely inflicted many times the humiliation back at the person.
But there's only one person in this world, only Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri, who is the exception to this.
Not only because she's the daughter of Kayneth's teacher, but also because she's Kayneth's fiancee; his marriage with her would bring Kayneth even more honor and prestige and the future he's always been pursuing.
This proud as a gem, intelligent lady is the only woman Kayneth, as a man, loves in the entire world.
The first time they met, even before exchanging a single word, Kayneth's heart had already been captured by this woman.
Perhaps noticing Kayneth's depression, Sola's tone relented a bit and she continued on with less derision:
"Kayneth. Compared to other Masters, do you know where your advantage lies? That's you yourself."
"Adding your own designs onto the original contract system, you really are a prodigy. You deserve being called the greatest prodigy in Eulyphis."
Even though Kayneth was completely sick of hearing words of compliment, he wouldn't mind hearing these words come out of Sola's mouth no matter how many times she says them.
But in fact, Sola's opinion of him was not solely flattery. The secret technique Kayneth prepared for this Heaven's Feel had completely overwritten the rules of the war that had been designated by the 'three original families'.
Originally, there is a cause and effect line between Servant and Master. A technique to separate the right of Command Mantras and the right of supplying prana, letting two separate summoners control one each... by way of Kayneth's prodigious ability, this impossible technique was made possible.
Kayneth is the magus who owns the Command Mantras, yet the one to supply the Servant with prana is none other than... Sola. They can be said to be a two-person team Master.
"-- But, Kayneth, although you are first-rate as a magus, as a soldier you are merely second-rate. Going through all that trouble to complete your preparations, but on the battlefield you were unable to make proper use of them, right?"
"Hey, why do you think I supply prana for Lancer? This is originally what you should be responsible for, so why should I commit to it? Isn't this for the sake of your battles going well, for the sake of letting you attain victory in Heaven's Feel? Compared to those Masters who have to supply prana to their Servants, you already have a crushing advantage. You can fully utilize your prana to execute various actions."
"But... the war's just started, it's better to be cautious..."
"Oh, really? Then why do you demand results so hastily from Lancer?"
Although Sola's tone is softer than it was at the start, there is still the implicit meaning outside her words mocking Kayneth's cowardice. Kayneth's expression became even worse.
"So before you blame Lancer, you should first do some self-reflection. Kayneth, tonight you--"
"Sola-sama, please stop here."
A sudden, low-toned voice interrupted Sola.
It's Lancer. It's unknown when he raised his head, looking straight at Sola.
"If you continue to humiliate my Master, then as a knight I cannot tolerate it any longer."
"No, that wasn't my intent... I apologize. I crossed the line."
Sola, who up until a moment ago had the dignity of an empress, apologized and lowered her eyes as if in shame after one sentence from Lancer. No matter who looks at this transformation, it's way too sudden.
In Kayneth's heart, the scene before him left a very negative impact. Sola has always nagged at him incessantly, and has never listened to him even once. He, who is to become her husband soon. Sola, who is to become his wife soon. Why do the words of a Servant have more weight than those of her future husband?
And since the start, Sola had been arguing with him to protect Lancer. Perhaps she could not stand watching Lancer being scolded?
Kayneth watched Sola's eyes, which were fixated on Lancer, and saw some emotion in his fiancee's eyes that he has never before witnessed before. And then he shifted his eyes towards Lancer--
The scintillating mole under Lancer's left eye caught his attention. Is that the fabled "tear mole" of Diarmuid ua Duibhne that attracted females?
No, baseless suspicion is stupid. Even a commoner would know that Sola was the daughter of the renowned Sophia-Ri family. Even though she does not possess a magic crest, she still has very strong resistance against this type of charm spell.
Unless, she herself does not willingly resist this type of charm, then--
Just as Kayneth was lost in thought, the fire alarm went off without warning, interrupting his train of thought.
"...What? What's happening?"
Sola mumbled confusedly, and at the same time the telephone in the room began to ring. The call display shows that it's from the lobby.
Kayneth calmly lifted up the receiver to listen to the receptionist. When he finished, Kayneth's gaze once again regained the sharpness unique to magi.
"It seems like there's a fire somewhere downstairs; the management is telling us to evacuate."
Kayneth said to Sola as he hung up the phone.
"Although the fire is not too severe, the places that caught fire are very scattered. It looks like arson."
"Yeah, I think it's definitely not coincidental."
Kayneth made a disdainful sound. The restlessness and worries that had been in his heart earlier quickly disappeared completely.
"This is a plan to disperse the crowd. The opponent must be a magus. Looks like he doesn't want to do battle in a building with too many bystanders."
Sola speaks with a tense expression.
"Then-- an ambush?"
"I'm afraid so. It might be that guy from the warehouse street who wants to play some more.
Interesting. That's exactly what we want, right Lancer?"
Lancer nodded definitively, as if preparing to battle with the enemy. Out of all seven Masters, there is only one person who would be in such a rush to attack Kayneth-- that is the Master of Saber, whose Servant had been hit by Gáe Buidhe. He must want to dispel this curse as soon as possible.
"Lancer, go to the floor below to meet them. But don't disperse them too quickly."
At Kayneth's hidden intents within the words, Lancer only nodded:
"Understood. Cut off the attackers' path of retreat, then chase them here, is that it?"
"Yes. Since we have visitors, then why not let them take a good look at Kayneth El-Melloi's magic atelier?"
This hotel, as Kayneth's stronghold, must have undergone complete renovation. Not the material type of renovation, but a fortification through magecraft. In this building totaling thirty-two floors, Kayneth's bounded field covers twenty-four floors. This place can be called a castle of magecraft. In addition, there are three magical furnaces for Kayneth's exclusive use, and in place of hounds there have been summoned ten-odd evil spirits and apparitions. There isn't even a flaw in the drainage pipes; Kayneth completely covered the area underneath the hall with his bounded field.
Instead of attacking enemy territory, it's much better to perfect one's own territory. As for the challenger who dares set foot in here, Kayneth will make him realize the real terror of Lord El-Melloi.
"Since all the other customers are already gone, there won't be anything to worry about. You can both use your full power to fight."
The irrepressible sound of laughter spilled out from Kayneth's throat. And the knight who had not been able to stop trembling in excitement also rushed out.
To Kayneth right now, the only thing that is needed is action. Only action and results can dispel the humiliation inflicted upon him by Sola. Right now, the only thing to do is to make full use of his own potential, that which had made others call him a prodigy, to prove his capabilities.
Yes, Kayneth right now desires blood. The dark anger that has been bottled up inside him must be offset by somebody's blood. The unfortunate enemy who coincidentally showed up to attack right now is about to become the perfect offering.
"You said I was a second rate-soldier; I'm about to make you take those words back. Sola."
"Okay. I'll be waiting."
Kayneth's fiancee who's usually always criticizing him, only at this moment did she watch him with a smiling face. Kayneth's fighting spirit heightened even more--
The fear and drowsiness of the customers, who had been awakened by the fire alarm in the midst of their dreams and herded outside to the parking lot, combined with the cold outside, caused them to wear difficult expressions. Amidst these people, the employees of the hotel scurried about busily.
"...Mr. Archibald! Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald! Are you here?"
Of all the names recorded on the customer list, there is only one person whose presence has not been confirmed; the bellhop called him in a frantic voice. Everyone regarded this largesse customer who had reserved the entire top floor of the hotel very highly. On some level, this is the person they least want to be in danger.
"Mr. Archibald! Are you here?"
"-- I am here. Do not worry."
A resonant voice came from behind the bellhop, but as the bellhop turned around he became confused. The person speaking to him was a Japanese male wearing an old-styled coat.
This kind of joke is too much. The angry bellhop was about to yell at him-- but he was captivated by the man's eyes.
That man's eyes held an indescribable, mysterious force of attraction; the bellhop was unable to avoid his eyes, and was not able to even speak.
"I am Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. My wife Sola is with me."
This unknown Japanese male stated in a clear voice. And the bellhop accepted this without any suspicion as if hypnotized.
"...Is that so? Ah, yes. That's it."
After the bellhop checked off a spot on the 'escaped' section of his list, finally confirming that all the customers were safe, he exhaled a long breath. All of his suspicions while speaking to Archibald earlier and his feelings that something was wrong had disappeared without a trace.
Watching the employee continue on to tend to other customers, Emiya Kiritsugu left the chaotic crowd. His earlier hypnotic suggestion, to a commoner with no magic resistance whatsoever, would not be broken in a short period of time.
After walking to a shady, dark area some distance away from the hotel, Kiritsugu pulled out the cellphone in his pocket as he scanned the surroundings to ensure no one was watching him. Cellphones were very common amongst the people, and has given Kiritsugu great help. It is a simple yet useful wireless apparatus for communication and holding it will not draw any suspicion from anyone.
First he has to contact Maiya, who was positioned for surveillance.
"Everything set on your end?"
"No irregularities. Ready."
Maiya's position is a tall building still under construction diagonally across Fuyuki's Hyatt hotel. From there it's possible to clearly see Kayneth's room, that was the position Kiritsugu designated.
Kiritsugu sighed lightly, reaching for his cigarette box with one hand, dialing a set of numbers on the cellphone with the other.
Kiritsugu dialed an empty number. But there was no response whatsoever from his cellphone. The modified communication loops were connecting not to an analog signal, but to the trigger of a C4 bomb.
The bomb only caused a very small explosion, to the point where the sound of the explosion cannot even be heard outside the hotel.
But what resounded in the night was the horrifying sound of reinforced concrete splintering and collapsing.
The evacuees who had noticed something was wrong saw the sudden change in the towering building and began to shout in panic.
"The hotel, the hotel is collapsing!"
The hotel, towering at a hundred and fifty some meters in height, kept its upright posture but collapsed as if being sucked into the ground. Because all the outside walls collapsed inward, not a shard of debris flew outward and only the dust created by the collapse spread towards the surrounding streets. Precision blasting-- a highly advanced blasting technique used primarily to demolish tall buildings. Due to the destruction of load bearing walls and key support structures, the building collapses downward and inward on its own weight. Using the least amount of explosives to obtain the result of total destruction. To Emiya Kiritsugu who's familiar with all blasting techniques from past to present, there's a very special appreciation for this type of art of destruction.
All of the buildings acting as the bases of magi in Fuyuki City are listed on Emiya Kiritsugu's destruction list. And Fuyuki's Hyatt hotel is one of the list's entries. Kiritsugu obtained the building's blueprints beforehand and determined the points at which to place explosives. As long as the preparations are all complete, the actual execution requires less than an hour.
Although the evacuees were already as far as possible from the collapsing building and outside the range of flying debris, they were showered with the dust sent flying by the collapse and mired into a state of panic. While watching the disturbance in the crowd, Kiritsugu looked for a gap with weaker wind and lit the cigarette in his hand.
"Maiya, how are things on your end?"
"Up until the end there was no activity on the thirty-second floor. The target has not escaped from the building."
In other words-- Kiritsugu thought with some satisfaction as he looked at the ashes of the ruins of Fuyuki's Hyatt hotel-- the one called 'Lord El-Melloi' Kayneth-sama is now most certainly keeping the rubble company.
The thirty-second floor that Kayneth was on, due to the chain reaction caused by the precision blasting, had lost its support and practically freefallen a hundred and fifty meters to the ground. No matter how well it is defended by a bounded field, in the face of such destructive force it probably cannot protect the people inside the rooms.
Suddenly there came the sound of a child crying and Kiritsugu's attention was stolen from the ruins.
The child's mother walked past Kiritsugu holding a child who would not stop crying due to fear. Both were wearing only pajamas and covered head to toe with white ash, appearing so miserable it was hard to watch.
Kiritsugu kept watching the backs of the parent and child... up until his hand was singed by the burning tip of the cigarette, when he snapped back to attention. Kiritsugu tossed the mostly-burnt-up cigarette to the floor and stamped it out with his foot.
Emiya Kiritsugu felt a little confused; sentimentality is definitely unacceptable for him. These kinds of weak feelings would directly threaten his life. But, regarding his failure, he cannot face it with a composed attitude no matter what.
Yes. Even if he did not want to admit it, the reality was this—Kiritsugu saw the figures of Irisviel and Ilyasviel in the receding figures of the parent and child.
Emiya Kiritsugu once believed that there was no differentiation in sacrifice. All life was equal, so choosing the path that led to a smaller sacrifice was okay. In this manner of judgment, the lives of women and children do not receive any special treatment.
The Holy Grail could be used to save the world. And Kayneth is a target that must be eliminated in order to obtain the Holy Grail. There are a thousand-some people in the Fuyuki Hyatt hotel, but the Holy Grail could save at least five billion people. Kiritsugu could completely eradicate these tenants along with Kayneth if there was the necessity to do so.
Then why did he need to set a fire beforehand to cause this disturbance?
In the beginning, he thought that this had been the obvious tactic. Kayneth specifically set many traps in order to defend against an ambush; as for the tactic against his strategic defense, this one has definitely yielded effective results. That prodigy magus held his iron wall as his pride, but he never thought that the entire castle would be destroyed so he remained inside.
But, was his real intent really just limited to this?
His sentimental hope that the innocent tenants would escape in time, is it really showing just now unconsciously?
This really is a fatal romanticism. If he was on the battlefield, this sort of sentiment would definitely lead to his death.
To steady the shaky feelings in his heart, Kiritsugu once again lit a cigarette.
He's degraded. Although he doesn't know how much weaker he is, the Emiya Kiritsugu today has definitely degraded from the one nine years ago. If this continued then he might not be able to successfully obtain victory in the Holy Grail War. No matter what, not restoring the cold manner of judgment from before is unacceptable-- the faster the better.
The neighborhood disturbed by the late-night incident has at last begun to stir. Watching the crowd gather in the street, Kiritsugu inhaled deeply and took out his cellphone to give Maiya the signal to retreat.
The sound that reached his ears was not the voice of his subordinate, but the roar of two metallic entities colliding.
The not yet named metallic lookout. Nearing its completion, it's temporarily called the Fuyuki shopping center's thirty-eighth floor.
The construction is already more than half done, only the exterior left incomplete. This high-rise building will soon become a shopping center and the symbol of Fuyuki Shinto, but right now it is only an empty skeleton of reinforced concrete, buffeted by the strong gales of the night.
Whether it is the streetlights on the ground or the stars in the sky, everything seems distant and bleak. It is in this void that Hisau Maiya knelt, unmoving, supporting on her shoulder the AUG assault rifle that had night vision equipped. The muzzle was propped on her upright left knee.
If magus Kayneth noticed Kiritsugu's plan and escaped from the window, Hisau Maiya who was waiting here would ambush him. But the result is that this preparation had been completely unnecessary.
"Maiya, what's the situation there?"
From Hisau Maiya's earphones came the questioning voice of Kiritsugu on ground level. Having needed both hands to support her rifle, Maiya switched the cellphone to earphone mode to free her hands.
"Up until the end there was no activity on the thirty-second floor. The target has not escaped from the hotel."
Maiya spoke into the microphone beside her mouth and gave Kiritsugu a brief summary of her surveillance. Although she has just witnessed a devastating destruction, her voice did not contain even a bit of excitement.
Her surveillance mission here is over. Maiya retrieved the bullets, which had not had a chance to be of use before the mission was over, from the gun, put them into a case, and then slung the assault rifle over her shoulder and stood up to head for the stairs.
At that moment, she noticed a trace of abnormality.
Not a typical abnormality, but a hard-to-detect subtle change of atmosphere. To an experienced soldier, it is an easy matter to clearly detect this kind of killing intent.
"-- Your senses are sharp, miss."
From behind the now still Maiya came a low, cold male voice. The voice echoed in the empty building of reinforced concrete, making it impossible to determine from whence it came.
Maiya did not respond or ask questions. She only calmly used her sharp intuition to determine the enemy's location and pulled out the 9mm-caliber handgun from her belt.
As for the other person in this place, the person who discovered Maiya's existence-- no matter who it is, this reason alone is sufficient for him to become Maiya's target.
"-- Hmm, it's also nice to have this kind of preparation."
The man hidden in the shadows said so in a mocking voice.
At that moment, something was tossed at Maiya's feet from the shadow of some pillar.
Maiya immediately aimed her gun at the object and after making sure it was not dangerous, she pointed her gun back towards the place where the object was tossed from. But even so, Maiya still used her peripheral vision to watch the object that was tossed out.
The corpse of a small animal.
A bat. And judging from the CCD camera on the bat's abdomen, this is definitely the bat familiar Maiya sent out. This is the one that was placed by the Fuyuki church that she had lost communication with.
Then, without doubt, the one who deliberately tossed out the corpse of the bat can only be him. And the opponent seems to have no interest in concealing himself any longer. Slowly walking out from behind the pillar where he was hiding, he exposed himself to Maiya's line of sight and line of fire.
The man in front of him seemed filled with authority and pressure, wearing a pitch black frock. Maiya knows him.
"Oh? This should be the first time we've met. So how do you know who I am? Is it perhaps your precognition?"
Maiya, realizing her mistake, regretted it.
Kirei did not show the slightest bit of discomfort at facing Maiya's gun and continued on calmly.
"If that's so, then you should definitely know about a lot of other things too, right? This is a prime location for spying on Fuyuki Hyatt hotel's thirty-second floor; perhaps some very important person lives there?"
This time it was Maiya's turn to be silent. But her mind was filled with suspicion: as a Master... Kotomine Kirei should carefully hide himself, so why would he choose to show up here? What is his real intention?
On the other side, Kirei diverged his sight slightly outwards-- landing on the position where the Fuyuki Hyatt hotel is now a pile of rubble. He stared intently for a while, then heaved a long sigh.
"Even so--was it really necessary to destroy the building too? To use this kind of tactics, can he still be called a magus? Or rather, maybe he shouldn't have been considered a magus to begin with?"
This man-- Maiya was suddenly surprised-- he knows. He knows all about Emiya Kiritsugu. Just like how Emiya Kiritsugu knows Kotomine Kirei.
"Look at me rambling on and on here, miss. Why don't you say something-- where is the man who should be here in your place right now?"
After being asked that, Maiya made a new judgment regarding Kotomine Kirei. This man in front of him must be killed.
The sound of Maiya's rapid fire rang out. Although the 9mm-caliber called the military bullet has a good ability to inflict damage, it is still not powerful enough. So in order to effectively kill the opponent, the key is to shoot the abdominal region three times consecutively. Compared to the small fatal point that can instantly cause death, attacking the position where it is easy to hit and inflict heavy damage seems more effective. This is the rule of killing by shooting.
Even so, Maiya's bullets did not strike the organs beneath the frock, but rather the hard concrete floor.
Even if Kotomine Kirei's evasive actions were of an unbelievable speed, they cannot be faster than the speed of sound of the bullets. But he determined Maiya's thoughts before she pulled the trigger and acted beforehand. What's amazing is Kotomine Kirei's judgment on tactics.
Predicting the moment of Maiya firing, and thus dodging the bullets. Even in the field of thaumaturgy, this is beyond the ability of the average person.
Not only that--
In that instant the person who turned to hide was not Kirei but Maiya. Her right hand was stained with blood, and the handgun that was supposed to be clutched in her hand fell to the ground with a metallic noise. And her surprise-filled eyes stared at the pillar she had been propping her back against. The keen edge that is suddenly sticking out from that pillar glints with a cold light.
The thin blade, longer than a meter, made one think of the weapons used in fencing; as a sword the hilt was very short. This is the projectile weapon used specifically by the executors in the Holy Church, called the "Black Key". Just now, this is what cut the back of Maiya's hand and made her drop her handgun. Kirei had simultaneously thrown this weapon and avoided the bullet.
Although it is a hand-tossed weapon, it had enough power to penetrate reinforced concrete. Even so, it only made Maiya drop her gun and did not contain the intent to take her life. To use such force on purpose, he probably wants to take away the opponent's weapon and at the same time destroy her morale. It's best to capture the other alive-- after all, Maiya had not yet answered Kirei's question.
"Your movements aren't bad. Very sharp."
Kirei, who's holding the position of initiative after completely reversing the situation of attack and defense, spoke and walked over leisurely. And once again a Black Key appeared in his hands. The long blade of the Black Key is a semi-solid formed by prana, so while carrying it just holding the small hilt is sufficient. Nobody knows exactly how many Black Keys are hidden under Kirei's loose frock.
The Black Key, as one of the staple equipments of the Holy Church's executors, has great power but is also very difficult to use. Someone who is able to use its power so skillfully must be a very strong expert. And Maiya seems to have encountered such a rare expert now.
Maiya is not a warrior, only a soldier. So to her there is no combat record worth boasting of, only the analysis of combat. The combat ability of Kotomine Kirei very obviously surpasses her own. In this situation where she has no equipment or advantageous terrain or tactics, admitting her defeat is wiser.
"What is it, Maiya? What happened?"
Kiritsugu's voice sounded in the earphones. It seems like the cellphone in her pocket is still keeping her in contact with Kiritsugu. But-- Maiya now cannot respond. He can hear Maiya's voice. That horrifying executor's real goal is not Maiya but Kiritsugu. Kirei's judgment that Maiya was Kiritsugu's subordinate, carrying out every action based on Kiritsugu's instructions, was verified completely here.
"What's wrong? Not calling for help? Emiya Kiritsugu is nearby, right?"
Kirei no longer had a bit of doubt left when he said this name, because he is convinced that his judgment is correct. If Kiritsugu wants the Holy Grail, then he would definitely act tonight.
The effect of the curse of Diarmuid's Gáe Buidhe is easy to see. They have been mired into a very unfavorable situation with one of Saber's arms sealed off while the six remaining Servants are still in good condition. To the Einzbern camp, the most pressing matter is to eliminate the origin of the curse, Lancer, as soon as possible.
So Kirei set up his net near Kayneth's dwelling, calmly awaiting the arrival of the ambushers.
But in the end he found not Emiya Kiritsugu but someone else. Yet Kotomine Kirei is certain that this person is acting based on Kiritsugu's instructions. So this woman he is facing right now is definitely the key to finding Emiya Kiritsugu.
He can't kill her; it's best to capture her alive. As long as he can make her talk, it's fine.
Even if he had to break her arms and legs.
After making a cruel judgment in his heart, Kotomine Kirei approached the woman's hiding place slowly. The opponent should be unarmed. The already disassembled assault rifle cannot be reassembled quick enough, and the dropped pistol is far away. This match has already been decided.
But what stopped Kotomine Kirei was an impediment beyond his expectations.
Suddenly a veil of white smoke appeared between him and the prey, completely obscuring his vision, and with it an irritating smell of chemical reactions rushed into his nostrils.
What suddenly appeared in front of Kotomine Kirei was a smokescreen released by a military-use smoke dispersion bomb.
And in that instant when Kirei's sight was obscured by the smokescreen, Maiya escaped with haste.
Although Kotomine Kirei tossed a Black Key in the direction of the noise, he did not hit the target. The instinct of an executor who's been through countless battles told him that he could not move carelessly in the current predicament.
Kotomine Kirei held Black Keys in both hands, not daring to let his guard down the slightest, and surveyed his surroundings while waiting for the smoke to disperse. In this building exposed to strong winds, the thick smoke only took several seconds to dissipate-- but, that woman managed to escape in these mere seconds.
Only he was left. Realizing he was the only person left in this empty building, Kirei grunted and put away his Black Keys. He did not have any intention of pursuit.
Kirei picked up the smoke dispersion bomb, now empty of all smoke, from the ground and began to inspect it. It's an American grenade model. There isn't anything special about it; it's simply something that anyone can get if they had the right connections.
It wasn't tossed by that woman, because if he had found that she had moved in the slightest then he would've thrown a Black Key to stop her. This had been tossed in front of him by someone else to help that woman escape.
Of course, there shouldn't be anyone else inside this building. If that's the case, then the smoke grenade should have been tossed in from outside the building.
Kirei walked to the edge of the building-- ignoring the wind tugging at his frock-- and looked down.
Around the rubble of the former Fuyuki Hyatt hotel, there aren't any buildings that can stand shoulder to shoulder with this one. The distance from ground level to this position is at least a hundred and fifty meters. It'd be hard to aim at this position precisely even with a long range weapon. Not to mention a hand tossed smoke grenade. It's a cosmic farce for someone to toss that up from ground level.
But Kirei was, after all, an executor who has hunted many strange magi before. He was already thoroughly used to facing enemies who were beyond common sense. To him, this level of strangeness didn't have anything that was worth being surprised over.
Somewhere below him existed the magus who stopped him.
As long as this was confirmed, then he has gained something tonight.
At the same time, Kirei felt the breath of the strange form concealed beside him.
"Yes, it is me."
Assassin, who was sporting a long pitch-black gown, materialized kneeling in front of Kirei. This Assassin is one among the three who were spying on Irisviel and Saber in the forest, who had been charged to bring over the obtained information.
"Didn't I tell you not to materialize indoors?"
"I'm terribly sorry, but I have a very urgent report to make..."
After a night of continuous deadly fights, a streak of white light gradually appeared at the eastern sky. At this moment Kirei was using the magical communicator to establish a connection with the Tōsaka mansion in the Miyami district. He and his father Kotomine Risei were preparing to call for an emergency strategy meeting.
“Huh? Can we really trace Caster’s trail immediately now?”
Tokiomi’s satisfaction and praise were revealed through his voice. Kirei and Assassin’s efforts had finally yielded the results he wanted. Although his servant was still a tricky problem, his apprentice’s side had progressed very smoothly.
“Our opponent is really the Heroic Spirit of a magus. Despite being an Assassin, it was still tough for him to enter their workshop unnoticed. But now we are sure of the approximate position of the enemy. Currently Assassin is carrying out close surveillance at the perimeter of the area. Once Caster appears out of his workshop, his activities can be known immediately.”
“Which is to say that Caster did not stay within his workshop, and is actively operating outside?”
“Yes. That’s because……”
Recalling Tokiomi’s reaction when he delivered the report last time, Kirei hesitated slightly. Caster and his master’s actions might give rise to grave consequences.
“…Both of them went to the city beside Miyami town and captured the sleeping children back to their workshop. Until daylight appears, they had caught 15 of them. Though most operations were carried out smoothly, the parents of 3 children discovered them and a struggle ensued. Eventually, the two killed the entire family.”
Able to clearly feel Tokiomi’s fury, Kirei continued promptly before he manages to reply.
“Caster uses magecraft unhesitatingly, and he does not even clean and tidy up the place after it. Now, under my father’s instructions, workers from the Holy Church are clearing the traces they left behind at the scene. However……I’m afraid that even after today, Caster and his Master’s behavior will not change in any way.”
“……What on earth are they thinking! What type of person is that jerk? The Master of that Caster.”
“According to Assassin who eavesdropped their conversations, before summoning Caster, that Master had already been carrying out similar murders like this. Though we can’t be sure yet, this guy is apparently the same person as the wanted serial killer.”
Tokiomi breathed heavily in anger.
Since this month, news of the mysterious serial killer- ‘The Demon of Fuyuki City’, had been continuously reported. Using brutal methods rarely seen within these few years, he was related to 4 murder incidents in the city. Worst still, in the last case, it was said that he had killed all the family members in their sleep - an extremely savage killer. The police of Fuyuki city had set up a special task force which had gathered the police force from the neighboring vicinity to crack the case quickly. Nevertheless, there had been no progress at all; they were still at the stage where they cannot even determine the facial features of the suspect.
For Tokiomi, for such a serious thing to happen during Heaven’s Feel was indeed a headache. This should be the same for all Masters. The Heaven’s Feel must be carried out in secret. This is a solemn rule for all contestants. Someone who drew so much attention to this place would not be welcomed.
Actually, all the magi were responsible to guard the noble creed. Whoever he is, nobody would expose magecraft to the common people. Everyone researched their magecraft underground; those who failed to guard this secret would be put to death promptly by the Association. As long as something is related to the secrecy of magecraft, the Magus Association was firm and thorough in managing it. That is why this matter always made the magi’s blood run cold.
Let say there was a magus who appear at the headlines of the community news almost daily; and that this Master is his Servant’s puppet- this had to be a critically alarming situation.
“About these two, did you obtain any detailed information, reports, or something like that?”
“From how they call each other, we can gather that the Master’s name is ‘Ryuunosuke’, while Caster is known as ‘Bluebeard’.”
“Bluebeard? Then Caster’s real identity has to be Count Gilles de Rais, isn’t it?”
“Possible. This person was very famous in alchemy and black magic."
From the point of view of his fame as a legend, it is not surprising that he is summoned by the Holy Grail as a Servant. It's just that his characteristics are totally different from a Heroic Spirit. It is more fitting for him to be known as ‘vengeful spirit’ instead.
“From their conversations, as a Master, Ryuunosuke does not have any prior knowledge about Heaven’s Feel. Putting that aside, he doesn’t even have the self-consciousness of a magus.”
“This is quite possible. Under accidental situations, it is possible for someone without any magecraft teaching to make a contract with the summoned Servant… That Master will be the Servant’s puppet.”
“But, that is...”
Recalling what he had heard through Assassin’s ears, Kirei continued:
“…No matter what, Caster’s words and actions are beyond the boundary of normal comprehensions. He keeps saying things like the Holy Grail is already his; must rescue Jeanne d’Arc - things that do not make sense at all.”
As if trying to vent out all the anger in his heart in a single breath, Tokiomi let out a deep sigh.
“A Servant that is rampaging around due to his mental disturbance and a Master who is totally helpless at the situation? Why on earth did the Holy Grail choose such jerks?”
Servants attacking human beings- this itself is nothing abnormal. For spiritual beings who feed on prana to exist, Servants do not just acquire prana restoration from their Masters. They can also procure energy by absorbing the spirit of human beings. Masters who are incapable of providing sufficient prana to their Servants may use sacrificial ceremonies to make up for the inadequate prana.
Even in this Heaven’s Feel, cases like offering sacrifices were still within Tokiomi’s expectations. This is something without blame. Magi themselves are already existences beyond common rules. They can ignore morality and usual preception of right and wrong. If they have to sacrifice innocent people, as long as it is covertly and secretly done, silent approval is given.
But reckless murders like this which create such a huge commotion - this behavior is never allowed.
“You cannot let this matter run wild, right? Tokiomi-kun.”
With a displeased look, Father Risei cut in.
“Caster and his Master’s actions have clearly obstructed the progress of the Heaven’s Feel. This is against the rules.”
“Of course. As someone whose former job was to guard the secrecy of magecraft, I will not let them off.”
For generations, the Tōsaka family had always been the secret guardian of the area of Fuyuki city. Managing the laylines of this land and monitoring any abnormal occurrence here - this is the responsibility entrusted to them by the Magus Association. This is also the reason, as one of the ‘three initiate families’, the Tōsakas offered this place under their watch as the stage for the Heaven’s Feel.
As a Master whose goal is to acquire the Holy Grail and also as the guardian of this land, Tokiomi really has to stop Caster’s actions.
“I’m afraid they are also behind the continual disappearances of the children after the 4 murder cases.”
Kirei reported his views dryly.
“There only 17 children reported missing. If we take the situation of this morning’s surveillance into account, and if we include the extra ones they captured, the number of missing children will be at least 30. Their actions will only intensify, I’m afraid. Father, we have to stop them as soon as possible.”
“Yeah. It is already beyond the extent where warnings and punishments are effective. The only way left is to destroy Caster and his Master.”
“But the problem is that to fight a Servant, we have to rely on a fellow Servant. However, my Assassin cannot take any action.”
Kirei’s remarks really made sense. Assassin’s purpose was to specifically carry out clandestine plans, and how can he be allowed to show up again so quickly?
Father Risei contemplated this in silence for a while. To Tokiomi, he suggested:
“It is within my jurisdiction as a supervisor to alter the rules slightly. What if we put the struggle for the Holy Grail aside first? We muster all the other Masters to go against Caster. How about it?”
“Huh? Then……what do you have in mind, Father?”
“I can provide certain help which would assist the one who manage to eradicate Caster’s Master, in their future battles. The result of having the entire Heaven’s Feel disrupted because of Caster’s sole rampage… I doubt the other Masters would want it to happen too.”
“……Oh I see. Change the objective of this game to hunting. Is that right?”
Taking the Servant whose hand was injured in yesterday night’s haphazard fight into consideration, none of the Servants were killed yet. So if everyone shifts their targets to Caster, his life would be hanging by a thread. Just like a lighted candle in a hurricane, Caster's fate is ready to be extinguished any moment.
“But the condition of awarding benefits to the one who defeats Caster……Will it backfire on us instead? Will it eventually hinder us from obtaining the Holy Grail?”
Smiling, Father Risei replied.
“Of course it is not good for someone else to acquire the benefits. But the only one who could deliver the final blow to Caster, cornered by the hounds, would be Archer.”
“……I see. That’s obvious.”
As long as Kirei’s Assassin is present, it will be all too easy to arrange the time accurately so that Archer delivers the finishing blow. Although the rules were altered now, the Tōsaka camp’s battle tactics and skills were still unchanged.
“Then quickly prepare to gather the other Masters.”
After he decided what to do, Father Risei got up and left the underground chamber. Just as Kirei was about to stand up, he was halted by Tokiomi.
“…Oh yes, Kirei-kun. I heard that you left the Fuyuki Church to do something on your own yesterday night.”
Kirei had already anticipated Tokiomi’s question. On the surface, Tokiomi’s apprentice had already been defeated in this Heaven’s Feel, and was currently seeking protection from the church. So he shouldn't be doing anything at all.
“I am very sorry. I know this is very risky too, but I had discovered a spy in the vicinity of the church. So I had to do something about it-”
“Spy? Is its target you, who’s a part of the Church?”
Tokiomi sounded much stricter.
“Please don’t worry about it. I have already destroyed the spy. No secret will be leaked out,” answered Kirei in a breezy voice.
Kirei surprised even himself at his ease in lying straight at his Master’s face.
“Why didn’t you use your Servant?”
“I feel that this is something trivial. Assassin is not required.”
After a moment of silence, Tokiomi commented, slightly unhappily.
“……You really are a highly-skilled Executor, and I also know you have high confidence in your ability. But based on the current situation, aren’t you careless in these actions of yours?”
“You’re right. I’ll tread carefully next time.”
Kirei lied again.
From now onwards, Kirei would probably go into the battlefield a few more times to trace Emiya Kiritsugu’s trail, until he finds him.
Kirei waited until the communicator was in complete silence before leaving the underground chamber.
Just as Kirei opened the door of his room in the first floor of the house, he sensed a disharmony as if he had just walked into a wrong room.
It was neither the change of scent nor the change in temperature of the room. Overall, he felt a great change in the overall feel of the room. The plain room of his had suddenly emanated a luxurious and elegant feeling as if it is a palace.
There was no difference in the settings and lightings of the room. The only difference was a man who is sitting on the bench in the middle of the room, totally ignorant of everyone else.
This intruder, who took over someone else’s room with no reason, is someone that surprised Kirei a little. Startled, Kirei frowned.
With golden hair standing upright as if it’s burning and a pair of ruby-red eyes, this man in front of him was none other than Tōsaka Tokiomi’s Servant, the King of Heroes, Gilgamesh. However, instead of wearing his original golden armor, this Heroic Spirit was donned in a modern match-up of a leather jacket with furs and fashionable leather pants.
Since he was summoned, this Servant had been wondering around carelessly with his ability of Independent Action. But, getting tired of parading himself in his spirit form, Archer decided to dress himself in ‘playing attire’ to take on physical form on a whim while having a stroll in the streets at night. Although he had heard of Archer’s idiotic deeds from Tokiomi, Kirei had never imagined that Archer would appear in his room.
Apparently, Archer was not ashamed at all at intruding other people’s rooms. Putting that aside, he had even casually removed a bottle of red wine from the cupboard and had poured himself a cup. Elegantly, Archer sipped the wine.
“Despite being few in number, compared to Tokiomi’s collection, yours is more high-class. What a presumptuous apprentice.”
Still in the dark about the reason for Archer’s visit, Kirei looked at the row of empty wine bottles on the table.
Looks like Archer had tasted all Kirei’s hidden wine.
Although it is initially surprising, if one ponders about it, he would find nothing strange. Kirei has this habit that, once he hears of a wine of extraordinary quality, he would purchase it immediately.
The study of wine is actually a deep world without any boundaries if you wish to pursue it. Wine can fill the emptiness of one’s heart through its taste. When you are feeling hollow inside, getting drunk with alcohol is not a bad idea too.
Walking in the culdesac, Kirei thought about these ideas, half-seriously.
Nevertheless, hitherto, he had never tried wine even once. All he did was to increase to number of delicious wines. Kirei did not even think of serving it to his guests.
As for this drunkard who casually drinks others’ hidden wine, no matter how much he praised it, Kirei did not have any welcoming attitude towards him.
“What do you want?”
Facing this blunt question, Archer lifted up his wine glass and gazed meaningfully at Kirei.
“Looks like the ones who are bored aren’t just limited to me alone.”
Hearing this reply, Kirei realized the meaning behind those words instantly.
Apparently, this heroic spirit had known what transpired last night- Kirei disobeying Tokiomi’s orders to stay put, and venturing out alone- although Kirei was not sure since when Archer knew about it.
“What’s wrong, Kirei? Are you also feeling unsatisfied with only obeying Tokiomi’s commands?”
“……So, are you still unhappy with your contract now, Gilgamesh?”
Evading Archer’s question, Kirei asked back in a displeased tone. Although he is the mystical ‘King of Heroes’, Kirei did not see him as someone to be feared. In spite of Tokiomi’s views, a Servant is still a servant. No matter who this Heroic Spirit is, he is still Servant Archer, an existence belonging to Tokiomi. Comparing him to Kirei who is Tokiomi’s apprentice, their status is about the same. There is no need to worry too much about him.
Archer did not mind this attitude of his. He merely snorted, and took another sip of wine.
“The one who summoned me here and has been providing me with prana is Tokiomi. So no matter what, I still have to treat him with servant-like etiquette.”
After this surprising declaration, a sliver of melancholic haze gleamed in Gilgamesh’s red irises.
“But frankly speaking, he is really a boring man, completely devoid of any interesting aspects.”
“……These words should not come from you, a Servant.”
From his astonished heart, Kirei felt a slight surge of anger at Archer’s rude remark towards his master. At the same time, he felt that he had a rough idea as to why Archer came to visit him. In this mored relaxed atmosphere, Kirei had slowly accepted the presence of Archer in his room.
“Are they really that mundane? Tokiomi-shi’s orders.”
“Huh… Really meaningless. Wanting to achieve the omnipotent, wish-granting device, ‘Akasha’? What a pointless wish.”
The only thing every magus yearns for even in their dreams; Archer laughed it off just like that. But Kirei was able to empathize with him.
“The craving desire for the ‘root’ is something every magus has. Bystanders would not be able to comprehend it.”
“If that is so, you are one of the bystanders too, Kirei. As far as I know, before this, your position is one which opposes the magi, right?”
Archer had seemingly heard about Kirei’s complicated stand. Although he always wears an air of hauteur, his ability to gather information is amazingly sharp.
Kirei folded his arms, deep in thought. Instead of Tōsaka Tokiomi’s apprentice, if he looks at things from the view point of the representative of the Assembly of the 8th Sacrament, what is the purpose of Tokiomi’s Heaven’s Feel?
“…..The path leading to the ‘root’ can be said to lead to the ‘outside’ of the world. Which is to say, it will not bring any effect to the ‘inside’, which is this world. For the Church, which only focuses on the ‘inside’, the magi’s pursuit is downright pointless. We can only take their action as a meaningless plan.”
“Oh I see. Looks like I am only interested in things related to this universe, which is also my garden.”
Speaking as if he owns the universe…Having such a haughty attitude really fits his status as the ‘King of Heroes’.
“I am not interested in the territories that cannot be controlled by me. That’s why I don’t care about this ‘root’ thingy at all.”
Kirei smiled bitterly. In other words, this Archer’s stand goes against all the other magi. That is why it is reasonable for Tōsaka Tokiomi, a typical magus, to feel helpless at someone like Archer.
“If the Holy Grail of Fuyuki City is only a special device which seeks the ‘root’, no matter how violently the magi fight for it, I think the Holy Church would just ignore them. Unfortunately, the ability for the Holy Grail to realize wishes is ‘omnipotent’. It has unlimited, mysterious power to change even the ‘inside’ of the world. If such a great power were to fall into wrong hands, it will become an existence which threatens our belief. This is the reason the Holy Church chose Tōsaka. Instead of ignoring this matter and let the grail fall into wrong hands, it is better if it is wasted on a ‘boring, meaningless wish’…… But I have a feeling that my father has other purposes in the beginning.”
“What you mean is, the other Masters fight for the Holy Grail for reasons different from Tokiomi’s?”
Kirei nodded his head in response to Archer’s query.
“While Tokiomi is a typical representation of a magus, he is also one of the most right-winged. In this era, people who pursue pure magecraft like he does no longer exist. All the other guys are pursuing the gifts of mundane riches. Prestige, desires, power… all these are wishes that can be fulfilled ‘within’ the world.”
“Isn’t this great? These are all my favorite things.”
“You are but the king who reigned over these uncouth ones, Gilgamesh.”
Refusing to reply, Archer merely laughed and finished his delicious wine in a single gulp. At Kirei’s apparent evaluation, he did not feel insulted at all.
“Then what about you? Kirei, what wish do you want to fulfill by getting your hands on the Holy Grail?”
At such a direct question, for the first time, Kirei hesitated.
Indeed. This is the most fundamental question of all. Why are the Command Seals engraved on Kotomine Kirei’s left hands?
“I……do not have any special wish.”
At his vague reply, Archer’s red pupils emanated a coquettish glow.
“How can that be possible? I thought the Holy Grail only summons those with wishes?”
“It should be like that. But……I am not sure of the reason too. Why would the Holy Grail choose me? Someone without any ideals to accomplish; someone without any cravings to fulfill… Why am I chosen?”
“Is this something worth such frustration?”
Noticing his heavy look, Archer could not help but to laugh loudly.
“If it is not for any desire or ideal, won’t merely seeking pleasure be enough?”
“How dare you!”
Kirei’s fury is basically created unconsciously.
“You want me, a disciple of God, to seek pleasures? ...How can I commit such a sinful act which would cause me to be condemned?”
“Sinful act? Condemned?”
Looking at the serious expression of Kirei's, Archer felt more meaning to those words. Without bearing any goodwill, Archer laughed at him.
“Huh. That was a leap in logic, Kirei. Why did you correlate pleasure and sin?”
Kirei could not reply. And Kirei was also unsure how he ended up in such an awkward situation, something he had never experienced before.
At Kirei’s silence, Archer became increasingly full of himself and commented.
“Acquiring pleasures through sins is actually wrong. But humans do acquire happiness through virtuous means. If you say that pleasure in itself is sinful, does it make sense at all?”
Such an elementary question, yet why was he struggling to reply? The reason eluded Kirei. He felt as if a nonchalant unease was locked in an unknown territory deep within his heart.
“……What pleasures? I do not even have them. That’s why I will not seek it.”
Finally opening his mouth, Kirei answered in a voice unlike him at all, unsure and hesitating- as if he could not find the answer and simply came up with some sentence to deal with it.
Archer scrutinized him, then burst out in laughter.
“Kotomine Kirei, suddenly I have a new-found interest in you.”
“……What do you mean?”
“I’m just kidding. Don’t mind me.”
Pouring himself a new cup of red wine, he leaned back on the sofa, speaking loudly.
“Happiness is fundamentally a part of the human soul. There isn’t any ‘yes’ and ‘no’ distinction. It is just whether you are ‘aware’ or ‘not aware’ of it. Kirei, you had only failed to find it from the depths of your heart. To experience happiness, that is the first thing to do.”
“Mind your own business, Servant. Trying to educate me…”
“This is no ordinary education. It is gained by a king from experiencing all the luxuries and pleasures of the world. Listen carefully.”
Despite saying that, Kirei was actually meticulously analyzing everything Archer said.
For some reasons, those haughty words sent shockwaves to his nerves.
“Kirei. First of all, you have to understand something about this thing called entertainment.”
“U-huh. Limiting your views to only the ‘inside’ is not the right way. You must broaden your horizon……Oh yeah. Let’s start by letting you experience my entertainments. How does that sound?”
“For the ‘me’ right now, there is no such thing as ‘time for entertainment’.”
I am different from you, Kirei thought silently.
“Hey, don’t say something like that. After accomplishing Tokiomi’s tasks, you will have lots of time, eh? You duty is to dispatch spies to monitor the movements of the other five Masters, right?”
“……You are correct.”
“In that case, you shouldn’t just understand their intentions and battle strategies. How about finding out their reasons for seeking the Holy Grail and letting me know about them? That’s not something too hard for you, right?”
Indeed, this type of investigation did not diverge much from the assignment Tokiomi gave him.
Assassin, who observed the everyday life of its target, could easily record their conversations. By analyzing the content of the dialogues, the reason they sought the Holy Grail could then be deduced easily. All he had to do is just to ask Assassin to pay extra attention to this type of conversation.
“……But Archer, why do you want to know such things?”
“I mentioned it before, right? I am interested in the behaviors of human beings. And among those who fight for the Holy Grail, there has to be one or two interesting Masters, right? At least more interesting than Tokiomi.”
Kirei tried to cool his head and think rationally. He had only regarded Emiya Kiritsugu with interest, completely ignoring the rest. Besides, he did not have any obligation to agree to Archer’s request. However, if he could have some influence over this Servant who was completely out of Tokiomi’s control, maybe it would bring some positive effects to the Tokiomi camp in the future.
“……Okay, Archer. I promise you. But this will take some time.”
“No problem at all. I have the patience to wait.”
After finishing the red wine again, Archer rose from the couch. His movements caused not only the air to waver slightly; the glow within the room fluctuated with him as well. This Heroic Spirit who controlled all the creations of the earth seemed to emanate an invisible radiance from his entire body.
“Ah, I will come again to taste your delicious wine. Your collection can even rival the heavenly wines. To leave them gathering dust in a monk’s storeroom is such a waste.”
Expressionless, Kirei neither agreed nor disagreed. Maybe Archer took his silence as consent. Wearing a satisfied smile, he left the room.
Right after Archer left, the majestic atmosphere left the room too; replacing it, the mundane atmosphere of the room.
Finally alone, Kirei started to ponder on the strange conversation he had with the strange visitor.
It was the first time he had a one-to-one conversation with Archer.
Come to think of it, be it Servants or Masters, all of them fight with all they have in this Heaven’s Feel to fulfill certain wishes- save that uncontrollable King of Heroes who is apparently not interested in the Holy Grail at all. Amongst the Servants gathered in Fuyuki city, he had to be the one with the least will to fight. From this point of view, it looks like he shared the same sentiment with Kirei - he had to be the only Master who participated in the Heaven’s Feel without any reason.
No, maybe the reason still existed, just that Kirei hadn’t discovered it yet. There had to be a craving desire for the Holy Grail to achieve certain miracles, maybe somewhere deep within his heart.
Nevertheless, this is definitely not the ‘happiness’ Archer talked about.
The one who knows the answer is not Archer; it is someone else.
The person in question is Emiya Kiritsugu. Everything would have been solved if the conversation just now could instead be between him and Emiya Kiritsugu, Kirei thought.
Of course their positions were completely different. Thus they would have discussed using their weapons instead of their words. But it is still alright if that is the case, since Kirei had only wanted to fight with this person called Emiya Kiritsugu; a conversation between men.
As these thoughts played in his mind, Kirei picked up the empty wine bottles tossed away by Archer.
At the scene of the collapsed Fuyuki Hyatt hotel, the rescue team was working frantically throughout the night.
After the effect of Kiritsugu’s magecraft was lost, the evacuation personnels discovered that there were still two VIPs in the building when it collapsed.
Because they were on the top floor of the hotel when the incident happened, rescue workers lost all hopes at finding them alive. Still, their bodies had to be found before they threw in the towel completely. Under the daylight-bright mobilite, rescue workers quickly cleared the rubbles at the scene using excavators.
At the dawn of the following day, the rescue team that toiled throughout the night was exhausted. At this moment, something strange happened.
“You said you found something strange?”
This was followed by the prompt arrival of the chief of the rescue team to the scene. According to the workers, they found a silver sphere of about 3 meters in diameter amongst the rubble. No matter how they examine it, it did not look like part of the building materials at all. Out of nowhere, it had just appeared suddenly in the midst of the rubbles.
“……Is this from the building? One of the decorations of the revolving restaurant on the top floor?”
“Even if that is the case, this thing is perfectly undamaged. Isn’t that weird?”
At closer observation, its surface did indeed have no signs of damage at all. Reflecting bright light just like a mirror, it looks like it had just been polished.
“Why…does it look like mercury?”
The bewildered chief declared his thoughts as he laid his hands on the surface of the sphere.
At the first contact, surprisingly the sphere sank inwards.
As the astonished chief looked at it in further scrutiny, he realized that he did not press inwards- he had merely touched it.
Not noticing anything strange, the nearby rescue workers wore a puzzled expression and looked at their astounded-looking chief.
“Did anything happen?”
“……we have to remove this thing from this place.”
“…Use the truck to transport it away. Hurry.”
Suddenly, the chief became unusually composed. In a calm voice he instructed the workers to work swiftly.
Though the workers were still slightly baffled, they knew that the object of unknown origins before their eyes should be removed from the scene immediately. So they promptly heaved the silver sphere up to the shelves in the truck.
“Huh? Where’s the chief?”
A member abruptly noticed that the chief, who was just overseeing them seconds ago, had disappeared. And from behind the backs of the busy rescue workers, the sound of an engine starting could be heard.
At the driver’s seat of the truck, slowly driving the truck away from the scene, is the expressionless chief of rescue workers. But when the rescue workers noticed this, it was already too late. The truck which carried the silver sphere had vanished among the streets in the dawn light.
Five hours later, at the outskirts of the city, a police patrol discovered the lost truck, with the chief still sitting at the driver’s seat, unconscious. However, the truck which transported the silver sphere on its shelves was now only left with an empty husk.
“…Excuse me? Is this Mackenzie’s house?”
“Yeah. This is the name of the owner of this house.”
“……Then, who is…..Sir King of Conquerors Alexander…?”
“I am he.”
“……Ah, ah. Err… I see. Ah, haha……ah. Then can you sign over here?”
“Thank you very much. So-sorry for disturbing.”
“Hmm. No problem at all.”
At the second-floor bedroom of Glen Mackenzie’s house he was so accustomed to staying as if it is his own house, Waver Velvet woke up from his dreams.
The sun had fully risen. Treating the day as a holiday, he lay idly on the bed, refusing to get up. So it shouldn’t hurt if I lie about like this, right?
Everything that had happened until now was just like a dream. That unequalled, tragic death match and destruction.
But the engraved Command Seals on the back of his left hand reminded Waver that this wasn’t a dream.
As Rider’s Master, Waver had witnessed the fierce battle between the five Servants yesterday night - this is an undeniable fact.
At that moment, for the first time in his life, this youth entered into the battlefield; for the first time, weaving in between life and death.
Trepidation, horror; he had never felt them so strongly before.
However, what was left in his heart at this moment……wasn’t fear-related emotions. Instead, impulses full of delight and excitement surged up in his heart.
Waver did not have any accomplishment yesterday night- every action was decided by Alexander, alone. As a Master he had only stood beside his Servant, witnessing everything from the side. Worse still, he fainted at the climax of the battle, rendering him unable to catch the final result of the fight.
Nevertheless, Waver still felt that it was a very meaningful battle. The things and values he obtained from it, looks like only he understood them.
“…not daring enough to even show up before me, coward; you are not fit to be my opponent at all…”
These words were used to insult Lancer’s Master. Lord El-Melloi, someone Waver hated and feared, was laughed at by Rider as a coward.
But the valor Rider held with pride was merely rash idiocy in Waver’s eyes. If he had been the one who planned the battle strategy, he would let his Servant cross swords in the battlefield, whilst as a Master, he would hide himself behind the curtain to observe the progress of the combat- which is the same tactic as Kayneth. This is what is called as proper battle tactics.
“…the man who is most befitting to be my Master must be a valiant one who charges into the battlefield together with me…”
Of course Waver wasn’t the type of person who can charge into the enemy beside Rider. Hiding beside the bridge, he was actually so terrified that he scrambled into the chariot, wanting to escape immediately. However, this reaction had been mistaken as an act of valor.
Nonetheless, at this time these things needed not to be pursued further.
No matter what his reasons were, Waver could still clearly remember the feeling of Rider’s hand on his shoulder - so broad, so strong.
“Yes. This type of person IS my Master.” Rider had really said that to him.
Compared to Lord El-Melloi- the prodigy, famous lecturer, someone to whom Waver cannot hold a candle at one time, Waver was way superior then.
His value was finally approved- come to think of it, this was the first time someone acknowledged his ability.
Although praises and slanders are but meaningless things, for this youth who had never been praised by anyone before, being praised by someone else was really exhilarating.
That is why Waver was on seventh heaven right now. No matter how he tried, he could not contain his excitement.
Although his Servant did not treat him with the courtesy demanded by a Master and had always called Waver by his first name, yet, no matter how disrespectful this obstinate was, Waver should at least feel grateful towards him now. After all, Rider was the first one to value him.
Tortured by his complicated thoughts, Waver stuffed his head under the covers. From today onwards, what type of attitude should he employ when he treats that giant Servant of his?
At this moment, suddenly Waver realized that the usual snores beside his ears in the mornings were absent.
Waver lifted his head from the covers and found out that, Rider who usually sleeps on the bed, was not there. For someone who abhorred spiritual form, he would not simply cancel his physical form and revert to spiritual form without any good reason. Besides, even if he had dematerialized, as his Servant, it is impossible for Waver not to feel any of his presence at all. So there is only one possibility- Rider was not in the house.
Waver started to think calmly. He had overslept this morning, so it was not unusual for Rider to rise earlier than him.
However, the problem at hand is that Rider was not within the house, which meant that Rider went to other places alone without Waver’s permission-
From the stairs of the corridor, footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs.
From these heavy footsteps, Waver could tell that it was Rider, thus feeling slightly relieved. However, recognizing the meaning of such heavy footsteps, Waver paled immediately.
“Oh, so you are awake, eh? Kiddo.”
Rider’s voice was accompanied by his huge torso which appeared at the door. And regarding the thick suit of armor he was wearing… Though Waver had gotten used to the weird occurrences, he still found it to be an alien and unimaginable thing. If this extremely strange sight were to be seen by the Mackenzie couple, he feared that the hypnosis he casted on them would be nullified very quickly.
Therefore, Waver had, with some difficulty, managed to convince the Servant who downright refused to dematerialize, to stay at the first floor and not moving around as he liked… Of course, that was the case, until this morning.
“……You…went downstairs dressed like this?”
“Don’t be scared, okay? The old couple of this house had left early in the morning. So there are only two of us now. I went downstairs to receive the express delivery package.”
Looks like Rider also knew to try his best not to be seen by the Mackenzie couple. Waver, who got slightly relieved at this, suddenly noticed something amiss. Nervously, he examined Rider from head to toe.
In the hands of the giant was a small package with the express delivery label on it.
“……So you went to the main entrance in this costume?”
“I have no choice what. We cannot send the delivery man away without showing any gratitude, right?”
It was already too late.
But luckily he was not noticed by anyone staying nearby, only by the postman who comes occasionally to deliver parcels. In spite of that, it was very likely for the word to spread from the postman, saying something like there was a warrior in Greek armor in this house. All he could do was to pray that people would treat his words as a prank.
“Say, this isn’t even your parcel, so you don’t have to express your gratitude, right?”
“Huh? No. It is my parcel.”
Showing off, Rider let Waver see the parcel- “Fuyuki Town Miyami District, 228 Mackenzie Residence. To the King of Conquerors Alexander”. This preposterous content was openly displayed on the post receipt. On the Distributor column, the words “Specializing in Selling Character Goods: Animan Bar Nanbo Shop”.
“What is this? Rider, explain.”
“I am just trying out this mail-order thingy. There were quite a lot of products which caught my attention on the advertisement section of ‘World Military Monthly’.”
When he thought of it, Waver finally understood why Rider further requested for a postcard when he asked Waver to buy military magazines and recording tapes. At that time, Waver hadn’t the faintest idea what the postcard was for… No, it should be that Waver had not even considered it.
“I said, where on earth did you learn mail-order from?”
Although Heroic Spirits can obtain knowledge from the Holy Grail, it would not have been to the extent of learning how to use mail-order. Waver was very reluctant to believe these were all true.
“Huh? This type of trifle, didn’t they explain it clearly at the back of the magazine and the recording tapes? Just look at it for a while and you’ll understand.”
“When did you see those advertisements……huh? Where did you get the money for the mail-order?”
“Don’t worry. I have already paid in full.”
Laughing cheerfully, Rider returned Waver’s wallet to him. Apparently, he had taken his Master’s wallet without permission while he was sleeping.
This man is so naïve that he had even wanted to buy an invisible bomber; no one would know what expensive merchandise he had purchased this time. Appalled, Waver took out his wallet and checked the sum of money inside, whilst holding back his tears.
After checking, he realized that the number of 10 000 yen notes inside remained unchanged; just that a few thousand yen notes were missing. Waver heaved a huge sigh of relief. Because he had collapsed in relief, Waver’s fury at Rider for taking his wallet without permission had diminished.
This teenager was not even aware of his helplessness: Is he considered lucky or unlucky?
As for Rider, he was beside Waver, humming a tone while opening the parcel happily.
He shouted in joy after opening it.
“Not bad! Not bad! I like it very much. The real product looks even nicer than the one in the photographs.”
Rider removed an XL sized T-shirt from the parcel. No matter how Waver looked at it, it looked just like another cheapskate product. At the front part of the shirt, an eye-catching logo was imprinted on top of the world map - "The Admiral’s Great Tactics". It looked like one of those products from the games segment published in on the front page of the special edition of the magazine.
“It is really not bad. After I noticed Saber yesterday night, I had a sudden inspiration too. If I wear contemporary styled clothes when I go to the streets, you wouldn’t mind, right?”
Waver’s Heroic Spirit abhorred spiritual form and strongly preferred his physical form. Although Waver had headaches over this matter, the silver lining was that at least Rider did not think of going for window shopping in the streets. Now he is in deep trouble. Waver was angry to the extent of wanting to curse Saber (who gave Rider such an idea) and her Master to death.
Meanwhile, Rider had tried on his new shirt and was displaying various poses, drawing simple happiness from it.
“Wahaha! Just like what I wanted- the effect of having the whole world on my chest. Haha! Really makes me feel happy.”
“……ah, ahh. Yeah, yeah.”
What if he continued to cover his head and sleep over it? If he did so, he would banish the view of this elated Rider, wearing a T-shirt from his sight; and to escape back to gentle sleep. Currently, this is the best idea Waver could think of. When he gets up again next time, the world would be a better place, right?
Such a tempting notion had to be abandoned as Waver thought of what Rider would do next.
“……Hey Rider, wait. I said, wait!”
Noticing that Rider was about swagger out of the house, the nervous Waver stopped him immediately.
“Where are you going?”
“Do you have to ask that? To the streets, of course. To show those peasants the new look of the almighty King of Conquerors.”
To wear only a T-shirt amidst the cold wind in November was already abnormal enough. To top it off, his valiant body was only covered in a T-shirt, nothing else.
“At least wear trousers before you go out!”
“Huh? That thing that causes you to stumble? Oh yeah. Come to think of it, everyone in this country wears that thing.”
Looking slightly troubled, the brown giant who did not even wear underpants held his forehead with his fist, whilst asking Waver seriously:
“Do I really have to wear that?”
“That is a must.”
Although he had not washed his face yet, Waver’s sleepiness had gone up in a puff of smoke.
This inconsiderate, ignorant-to-common-sense muscular idiot who’s as lacking in manners as a gorilla… Once Waver thought of the countless allowances he had made for him, he could not help but to get angry.
“Let me get this clear. I will not go to the streets to get super big-sized pants just for you. I’ll definitely not go.”
“What didya say?”
With an exaggerated look, Rider stared at Waver. But Waver would not give in this time - he had set his determination with an iron-hard will.
“Hey punk, are you going against my majestic achievements?”
“Your majestic achievements and your trousers are two completely irrelevant things! Before you go out to enjoy yourself, show me what you can! Kill at least one of the opponents’ Servants!”
“Eh? You are quite an impatient fellow. You can engage a Servant in a combat anytime you want, you know.”
“So do it now! Kill at least one of them! If you do that, I’ll buy you trousers or anything you want.”
Showing a sudden solemn look, Rider became silent.
“……Oh I see. Understood. For now, as long as I present you the decapitated head of the enemy, you swear that you would get me a pair of trousers?”
At Rider who gave in with such surprising alacrity, Waver felt very helpless instead.
“……So you really want to go to the street in this T-shirt only?”
“Ain’t the King of Knights doing the same? As the King of Conquerors, how can I be lagging behind her? And no matter what, I like the design of this shirt very much. It fits well with the conqueror outfit.”
This idiot without any tastes was praised down the generations as a hero; is this a dry joke from the historians from the past? Waver’s train of thoughts subconsciously flew past time and space and returned to the distant past.
At this exact moment, boom! An ear splitting explosion reverberated into Waver’s ears.
No, to be specific, it was not a sound, but a hearing stimulus. It directly attacked Waver’s sensitive nerves of a magus - in other words, a magecraft impulse.
“What was that? ......At the east.”
As a Servant Alexander could also felt the stimulus clearly.
From the open curtains, one could see a layer of cloud dispersing in the clear sky. Although the pattern of the cloud looked like those clouds formed by fireworks, the twinkling glow did not look like normal fireworks smoke at all.
Despite the fact that Waver could see the smoke clearly, because it was formed due to magecraft, people besides magi could not see it. The same goes to the noise. To a normal person, it was but a sound of normal fireworks.
“That position…is where Fuyuki church is, right?”
As one of the Masters participating in the Holy Grail War, Waver had at least some basic knowledge. So he understood the meaning behind the signal immediately.
As the supervisor of the war, the Holy Church would send that signaling fire every time it has something crucial to inform the Masters. This is the most appropriate means to inform the Masters, as the Holy Church would not have the faintest idea where they would be.
“Is it something related to us?”
Waver struggled to find the best answer to Rider’s question.
“Cannot say that it is totally unrelated to us. How should I put it……”
In fact, Waver did not announce to the Holy Church his identity as a Master.
As long as he has a Servant on the grounds on Fuyuki city, naturally his position as a Master is established. So there was no need at all to do things under the Church’s thumb - Waver decided. After all, he had obtained the holy relic through unscrupulous means. If he did anymore extraneous things, would he land himself into deep trouble?
However, it would be safe if he ignored the convention called by the Fuyuki Church. A meeting for all the Masters called by the supervising Holy Church, what emergency could it be? Normally it would be due to amendments to the rules, addition of extra conditions… Besides, it might also announce new information next.
This information might be the key point to the battles henceforth. From the current situation, it would be more beneficial if he listened to the supervisor’s suggestions. And if they were some regulations which restrict him, when the time comes, all he had to do is just to ignore them.
“Rider, we’ll discuss about the trousers some other time. I have some other things to prepare right now.”
“What are you so afraid of? It is hard to get such a nice weather for strolling.”
Throwing the disappointed Rider aside, Waver started doing his preparations.
A heavy atmosphere hung over the pews of the church.
Noticing the dense demonic aura in front of him, Father Kotomine Risei could not help but to laugh bitterly.
Around an hour had passed since the summoning signal had been released. None of the Masters came to the Fuyuki Church; in place of them, five familiars gathered in the place. Apart from Kotomine Kirei who had withdrawn from the war on the surface and Caster’s Master, Ryuunosuke, who was not able to see the signal, the other Masters had sent their representatives. Looks like none of the Masters were bothered about their etiquette towards the church.
Tōsaka Tokiomi had also sent his familiar to the meeting. The rest of the familiars should be dispatched by Einzbern, Matō and the two foreign Masters. This had also proven the fact that Lord El-Melloi, whose whereabouts were unknown after the explosion of the Fuyuki Hyatt hotel, is still alive.
“I had actually prepared the usual pleasantries of greeting especially, but it seems no one has come. So I’ll go straight to the point.”
After that simple opening, the old Father faced the human-free congregation - at least there was no human audience present - and continued:
“The War of the Holy Grail, which can achieve all of your wishes, is currently in great crisis. The Holy Grail is supposed to bestow power only to the Master and Servant who seek it, but now there is a betrayer. Ignoring the cardinal obligation of the Holy Grail, he and his Heroic Spirit misused the power granted them to satisfy their frivolous desires.”
Risei did not care about the response from the crowd, possibly due to the fact that he had gotten used to preaching as a Father. Though obviously, the congregation could only listen quietly. After a slight cough, the old Father continued speaking.
“We discovered that Caster’s Master is the man who is behind the serial killing and kidnapping cases which happened lately in Fuyuki city. He used his Servant to carry out his crimes, but he ignored the crime scene right after he was done, not concealing his traces. What this act of severe violation of the rule of secrecy would bring - I guess you would understand without my explanation.”
Although there was no response from the familiars, the Masters who heard his words through their familiars should be wavering right now, at least slightly. Just like how Tokiomi reacted this morning; such is the usual reaction of a magus.
“He and his Servant are no longer your individual enemy, but a general threat to the summoning of the Holy Grail. Therefore, I use authority of supervision I have at such critical times, to change the rules of the Holy Grail War temporarily.”
In a strict voice he declared, whilst pulling up his right sleeve, revealing his right arm.
Although his body was old, the strong and muscular arm he once had during his younger days could still be seen. Tattoo-like images fully covered his elbow to his wrist -
No, those should not be called tattoos. Those Masters participating in the War of the Holy Grail would know what they were at their first sight.
“These, are the things recollected from previous Holy Grail Wars, and entrusted to me as the supervisor this time’s Holy Grail War. The inheritance of the Masters who lost their Servants before the final battle- their leftover Command Seals.”
After this proof, no one would doubt the authority of Father Risei as the supervisor.
All the Command Seals not used in time were taken care of by him, the overseer.
Command Seals are also known as holy marks, the proof that bore on its back the fate of participating in the War of the Holy Grail. Not only does it carry the significance of fate, it is also a device to control Servants.
The phenomenon of Command Seals is already a kind of miracle by itself. But although this crest on the Master’s body possesses enormous power, Command Seals are still a form of exhaustible physical enchantment. Thus, they can be transplanted or transferred through incantations.
“I can transfer these reserve Command Seals to anyone based on my judgment. For all of you who control your Servants, I guess you all know the importance and value of these crests?”
Although he was only facing the familiars whose only duty is to pass what they’re hearing to their owners, Father Risei slowly entered into the state of preaching, and his excitement was aroused.
“All Masters should stop all current hostilities. Everyone needs to destroy Caster with all that he’s got. I will select the Master who manages to annihilate Caster and his Master, and bestow him additional Command Seals due to the special case.”
“If this mission is accomplished alone, only that person will be awarded; if many cooperated then all will be awarded. Once I have made sure that Caster is destroyed, the War of the Holy Grail will resume.”
Father Risei rolled down his sleeve and further added.
“So, if there are any questions, you can ask them now.”
A commotion could be heard in the darkness. Sounds of moving chairs, sounds of getting up, and sounds of leaving mingled together, and then vanished gradually.
Since the supervisor’s announcement has been fully understood, it would be meaningless to linger at that place any longer. Currently the Masters have nothing to ask. Everyone had probably started preparing for the new competition.
The church had finally reverted to its truly human-free state. Father Risei pondered upon future developments whilst grinning.
After instructing these things, all he has got to do now is wait. Those four hungry hounds would surely drive Caster into desperation.
The countenance of the targeted Master and the location of Caster’s workshop were already known. If the other Masters were to be informed efficiency would probably increase. However, if not handled carefully, it might arouse their suspicion. Thus, it was still not the appropriate time to distribute the intelligence gathered by Assassin to the public.
How long can Caster keep up? Risei and Kirei felt that the current situation will not immediately change to a 6 to 1 siege. In his opinion, it would be difficult for the other Masters to naively follow the supervisor’s instructions, focusing on Caster as their main target. This is because they felt that the hunt for Caster was but a mere interlude. Their real goal is still to succeed in the ensuing dogfights.
Everybody craves for more Command Seals. But if the opponents would acquire the same thing, then he would not have any advantage left.
For these Masters, instead of cooperating to obtain the Command Seals together, they would rather destroy Caster on their own to gain sole advantage over the others, although the former was much easier. Furthermore, they might even obstruct each other in competition.
If that is so, it would be troublesome. If each of them obstructed the other, it might be disadvantageous towards Archer’s movements.
All the Masters’ movements would be under the watchful eyes of Assassin, someone they had almost forgotten. Kirei’s duty was executed beautifully. As a magus who learned magecraft at the last minute within a few days, to be able to use such superior means to control his Servant, this should be something even his teacher Tokiomi could not imagine.
For the sake of his belief, for the tenet of the Church, and for the sake of his promise to his deceased friends; brimming with self-confidence, this child exhausted all that he has, deploying his talents. A great achievement indeed, something even his father failed to accomplish.