Fate/Apocrypha Volume 3: Triumphal Return of the Saint (Incomplete)


Now… let us speak of the Third Holy Grail War.

The Einzberns had suffered a disastrous defeat in the early stages of the Second Holy Grail War. Despite being one of the three great families who had a hand in the initial construction of the Greater Grail, the Einzberns were a great house of alchemists and weak in matters of war, leading to their loss.

To start anew on a blank slate, rinsed of the humiliation suffered after their defeat in the second war, the Einzberns had contrived for absolute victory in the conflict to follow. By fully utilizing the next sixty years to compare and consider all possibilities, they managed to narrow down the potentials to two Heroic Spirits.

Their first option was to alter the system of the Greater Grail itself and summon a unique Avenger-class Servant. The Heroic Spirit would be Angra Mainyu, the reverse hero who bore the six billion curses of the world. Once brought to this world, this nameless figure – crowned as the ‘king of demons’, a living calamity made for carnage – would certainly slaughter all other Masters and Servants and allow them to activate the Greater Grail.

Their second option was to abuse one of the systems installed in the Greater Grail by summoning the ultimate Ruler-class Servant, meant to be an impartial authority whom regulated the progress of the War. They would then make use of the great privilege possessed by Ruler: its Command Spells for the other Servants.

Brawn… or brains? After much contemplation, the Einzberns chose the latter. One could say that they picked the safer option; perhaps their previous defeat had robbed them of their confidence in powers higher than they.

The Heroic Spirit they chose to summon as Ruler would be a figure whom had been as close to a ‘Saint’ as you could possibly find in the Far East, where the war would take place; at the same time, the sainthood of this tragic youth had never been recognized. His name was Amakusa Shirou Tokisada.

While the Einzberns dearly wished to call forth a proper Heroic Spirit befitting the Ruler class rather than some nameless Eastern hero, the act of summoning a Ruler was already a severe interference in the normal operating format of the Holy Grail War. He was a compromise – though the overwhelming advantage of his Command Spells could hardly be seen as such. The summoned Amakusa Shirou was neither outstanding in combat nor proficient in thaumaturgy to the level of a Caster-class Servant, but he continued to win, and survive, in the Third Holy Grail War. He was ever heedful and never gambled, fulfilling his duties even as he thoroughly cemented his defenses. As the third war drew to a close, the Einzberns clearly stood closer than any other to the Greater Grail.

However, the unexpected occurred. One participant of the war – Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia, head of the Yggdmillennia clan – discovered by chance the Greater Grail and, borrowing the power of the military, embarked on an operation to seize it. After that, the Third Holy Grail War fell apart. In the brutal thaumaturgical conflict that followed, surviving Servants tore one another apart in pursuit of the Greater Grail, and the Master of the Einzberns was killed in the shambles of battle.

With the Einzberns lost, and the Tohsakas and Makiris in retreat – only two were left on the field of battle.

One of the survivors was Kotomine Risei. He was a priest who had been sent by the Holy Church as an overseer to the Third Holy Grail War – though he certainly could not have expected to bear witness to such an epic clash between heroes. Despite being not far past twenty years, his hard face – as though carved from solid rock – told any who saw it that he had lived through all pains imaginable. His burly muscles and strong bones were the foundation of a human fortress and his razor-like eyes, beady and sharp, carried a keen gaze. He did not appear to be a priest so much as a veteran mercenary and master of war.

“What… will you do now?”

Yet it was this very Kotomine Risei who spoke to the youth standing beside him with some nervousness in his voice. It appeared a scene out of some comedy to see the man, clearly greater in both age and stature, abase himself before a young boy.

Of course, any man of God who knew the nature of the youth would act in much the same way. He had been born in the Edo period, a boy of miracles who could nearly be called a saint. However he might appear to be a youngster not even in his twenties, one must speak to him in a way befitting his name.

“The Greater Grail has been taken. We certainly cannot hope to retrieve it without arms and means of our own.”

The boy murmured as he gazed around the now emptied cave. Although the Greater Grail had been seized and his Master killed, the boy did not disappear. He did not appear endangered at all by the severing of the prana pathways between him and the Einzberns. The boy had become a firm existence that established itself on this earth. Having come in contact with the Greater Grail, he had managed to receive flesh. In a way, one could say that he had been the victor of the Third Holy Grail War.

“Besides, with my Master now dead, I no longer possess any power beyond that of an ordinary human. I will not pursue the Grail.”

“I see… then…”

“I believe you said to me once, Risei-dono… that you had journeyed in order to find enlightenment within your hardships. Perhaps it is time for me to go on a journey as well.”

“I am glad to hear that. I doubt it will suffice, but please allow me to help you.”

There were things he needed before stepping forth, such as social status and funding – and Kotomine Risei was never one to mourn over loss of wealth. One could go so far as to say that – to allow Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, whom had devoted his entire life to the Lord and found only tragedy at its end, to find something new for himself – Risei would be willing to sacrifice everything.

Thus the boy changed his name and gained an identity. True to his words, he traveled the world as the foster child of Risei. However, there had been one thing he never told his foster father.

Amakusa Shirou never gave up on the Greater Grail.

If anything, he had decided to challenge the next Holy Grail War – even if it meant sacrificing the second life he so fortuitously obtained. When he had been awash in the light of the Greater Grail, he became certain that, with such power – such a miracle in his hands – he could bring happiness to all people.

The power of the Greater Grail was beyond doubt. Someone had taken it… and someone would definitely try to activate it, somewhere. Most likely, after it had gathered prana for another sixty years…

With the help of his foster father, the boy obtained a place within the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament. He simply waited for the right moment… lying in the dark for his prey… spinning his web… preparing his traps.

All Holy Grail Wars must pass through one point: the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament, the part of the Holy Church whose objective was the discovery and retrieval of holy relics. After all, whenever any conflict surrounding a ‘Holy Grail’ emerged, it was only natural that the Holy Church would become involved; even the magi would prefer to disclose such events and free themselves from the burden of attempting to hide them. With information concerning the Third Holy Grail War becoming widespread, and offshoot Holy Grail Wars appearing all around the world, whispers of ‘Holy Grails’ flowed constantly into the Assembly.

However, they were all impostors in the end. Strictly speaking, the Greater Grail of Fuyuki was also a fake – but what Amakusa Shirou sought was the one Holy Grail that had called him into this world.

So he simply waited. For sixty years, connected to the Greater Grail, reincarnated yet never aging a day due to the power of his Noble Phantasm, he lived… a miracle himself.

Many things came to pass, like clouds being carried in the wind. His foster father passed away; his brother, like his father and Shirou himself, also began a journey in pursuit of something not yet known to him. As time stretched endless, he considered and came up with many plans; what methods to usurp the rights of the other Masters; which Servants he would require in order to take the Greater Grail by force; the way they would conduct their war; how they would take the Greater Grail; and the means by which he would ensure his wish was – and continued to be – realized.

He wished for the happiness of all mankind… for innate goodness to be found in the heart of all humanity… for the annihilation of Angra Mainyu, All the Evils of the World. To this end, just how many obstacles would he have to surpass? A common man would have long since given up. A genius would have already failed. However, the boy of miracles did not break. He could not – for he bore the regrets of thirty-seven thousand people. Nothing could shake his heart of steel.

Finally, the time came: the Great Holy Grail War, a battle of seven versus seven under the Greater Grail of Fuyuki. The scale of the conflict and difference in systems were hardly concerns to him; after all, Kotomine Shirou had already accounted for all possibilities in the past sixty years.

And so Amakusa Shirou found himself standing before Jeanne d’Arc – the true Ruler of this Great Holy Grail War – with a fearless smile.

Thus the true war began. No longer would it be a squabble between magi bickering about desires and honor – but a clash that would alter the course of humanity.

Chapter 1

His mouth was filled with the sweet, metallic taste of blood.

Although he was not severely wounded, some healing was certainly required. This was beyond his body’s natural regeneration.

The homunculus, for whom ‘life’ had once meant floating inside a prana provision tank, now possessed his own name – Sieg – and had become a unique existence, neither human nor homunculus nor Heroic Spirit.

He glanced at his left palm. Normally, a Command Spell once used would become a faint bruise and disappear. However, that was not the case here; his Command Spells became somewhat indistinct, but they were still very much present. In fact, a blackish mark was present where the Command Spell had been – an aftereffect of its usage, Sieg assumed.

His body felt strangely heavy. Just as he began to stretch and turn his neck and arms, he found Rider glaring at him darkly.

“Isn’t there something you should to be saying to me…?”

Sieg did not even need to think about his reply.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yes. Yes, you are. What do you think I worked so hard for?!”

Rider wrapped both hands around Sieg’s shoulders and shook the homunculus back and forth, on the verge of tears.

“Mordred ran you through! You were dead! And then you were alive again! And then you turned into a Servant, but now you’re back! What is going on here?!”

“I… don’t really know myself, actually. How did I come back to life?”

“And how does asking me help? You know I’m not smart enough to know things like that! Stupid! Stupid! Aaaagh!”

Rider shouted and shouted, then suddenly butted Sieg in the chest with his head. Facing towards the ground, Rider murmured.

“Thank goodness you’re still alive… but not again, do you understand? Don’t do what you just did, ever again. All right?”

Rider looked up at Sieg with blurred eyes. Sieg coolly replied.

“I can’t promise that.”


Rider blinked several times before puffing up his cheeks.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?! Normal people would say ‘yes’ to that! They say ‘sorry’ and ‘I won’t do that again’ and they cry and they realize their mistake and I’ll be the mature one who forgives them and pets them on the head!”

“I came back precisely so I can do things like that again… I really want to save them, Rider… all my brothers and sisters. I want to pay them back for the compassion they showed me then.”


“I know that it’s something beyond me. Like you said… I should have gone on living without ever turning back. My life would have been happier that way.”

However, he could not. He could not live on pretending they never existed. Rider listened to Sieg’s appeal and sighed theatrically.

“Oh, you… you… you’re just… just so…”

Scratching and tearing at his own hair, Rider suddenly leapt into the air. Sieg prepared himself, thinking that he must be furious – but when Rider stopped, he turned to Sieg with a face full of joy and zest.

“…just so brilliant! I knew… I knew this is who you are! Even though no one would judge you for leaving all this behind – you would still challenge yourself! Thanks to you, I’ve made up my mind as well – I can say for sure now that they need to be saved! We’ll save them all from that foul, dreadful place!”

“And… you’re all right with that?”

“Hm? With what?”

“What I mean is… this doesn’t seem like something that the other Servants will just allow at a time like this.”

“Oh, is that it? We’ll consider that when it happens! Now, let’s go!”

Rider pulled forcefully on Sieg’s arm as they headed towards the crumbling Fortress of Millennia. But they stopped before long – for before them stood a single magus.

“Well, that didn’t take long. I guess it’s only natural when she was watching from the castle the whole time.”

Rider scratched his head with a look of guilt. Opposing them was a beauty whose sharp-framed glasses emphasizing her icy hostility – Celenike Icecolle Yggdmillennia.

She must be furious, Sieg thought. He had heard Rider complain before about her flagrant and twisted delusions towards him.

Celenike was smiling at the Servant who betrayed her expectations, looking entranced as she stared at the two with arms folded.

“Ugh… I think I prefer her angry…”

Rider whispered. Sieg nodded in agreement.

Celenike was not angered. If anything, she was so far beyond rage that she was completely frozen in icy fury. Her emotions were dissolved, her mind turning to pure logic. However, the direction of her thoughts were the same: she would revenge herself a hundred times and a thousands time for any slight or shame. All misgivings and doubts were torn apart as she pursued that goal – even those that served to protect hers and her allies’ interests.

From the moment that she saw Rider ignoring her orders to retreat in order to protect the homunculus, Celenike no longer saw the Great Holy Grail War or anything else. Her logical mind simply prepared the most painful end imaginable for Rider.

Rider must have already considered his own death at this point; using a Command Spell to force his suicide would not cause grief in the knight with endless optimism. Violating his body would be no different; making her mark on every inch of his body would only bring him physical suffering and little more.

But there was one – just one thing that would bring despair to Astolfo.

“Hey, Rider… tell me your true name.”

Celenike murmured sweetly. Rider tilted his head at the sudden and arbitrary question as he answered.

“Um, Astolfo, one of the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne.”

“Wrong, Rider. You see, you are only a Servant… a page torn from the book of the Heroic Spirit Astolfo. In a way, you are only the result of faulty reproduction. However much you may recall from your past life – whatever powers you borrow from the past – Astolfo has long disappeared from this world.”


Rider nodded, accepting that there was some truth in that. Her words were disparaging – but Rider was never one to care about the criticisms of others.

“And? So what if I’m just a reproduction?”

“Do you understand? I respect the Heroic Spirit Astolfo. After all, he was a paladin and a hero who left his name in history. But, Rider… do you think I respect a mere copy like you?”

“Well, begging your pardon, Master, but I don’t think you’ve paid me any respect at all – whether I’m a Heroic Spirit or wraith or what have you.”

“Perhaps. But you understand, don’t you? You are not ‘Astolfo’ to me. You are just the most wonderful toy I brought to this world.”


Rider quickly brought his lance to bear against Celenike and her thin, cruel smile. It was not an act one ought to take against one’s own Master, but somewhere in Rider’s mind, an alarm bell was ringing.

“You have to get out of here, Sieg.”


“Just go!”

Although shocked by Rider’s sudden outburst, Sieg began to back away in retreat. However, Celenike threw out her left arm immediately.

“The fourth of the Black orders you with a Command Spell. Kill that homunculus.”

Sieg was dumbstruck. Who would think that she could use a Command Spell for such a worthless order? Rider shared the same thought.

Then again, now that Rider thought about it, he realized that his Master had never once talked about what she desired from the Holy Grail. She did aim for victory, of course – but compared to the other Masters, Celenike always felt rather passive. He could understand Caules feeling in such a way – he could hardly be faulted for not wishing to clash with his own older sister – but why such a exemplar magus as Celenike not covet the Holy Grail?

The answer was clear. She had already given up on victory.

But why would she give up on victory? Again, the answer was clear. It was so she could ravage him.

“Get, out of here…!”

The golden lance was brandished at Sieg. Shaking and gnashing his teeth, Rider managed to hold his weapon back.

The Command Spell was a Master’s trump card, representing the right to exercise a command through any such mental chains as pride, duty and faith. No Servant could resist a Command Spell – unless they possessed extremely powerful anti-thaumaturgy.

“My… you are stubborn.”

“Master, please… cancel that order.”

“No! Never! This… yes, this is what I wanted! This is what I wanted to see! Do you feel it now, Rider? The utter loss of hope? You understand, don’t you? Your Noble Phantasm is just barely letting you hold on…”

Once again, Celenike thrust out her hand carved with the Command Spells. Rider’s expression became one of true despair.

Sieg could find no words. She would expend two Command Spells just to kill him? That was impossible – but that was wrong, Sieg realized. Celenike’s goal was not merely the death of a homunculus; it was the breaking of Astolfo’s mind and heart. For that goal, she would not hesitate to employ any means.

“Shall we move on to the second Command Spell…?”

“S-Stop… please, I’ll do anything… just don’t…!”

Rider’s rasping plea, sounding as though it was wringed from his soul, simply fanned the flames of Celenike’s sadism further. As he shook like some defenceless animal, tears streaming down his face, he appeared just so beautiful, so lovely – and so very alluring.

“That’s it… yes, perfect! That’s the face I wanted to see! That’s the only thing I ever wanted!”

It was malice in its purest form. Celenike paid no heed at all to what she would do after expending a second Command Spell; she no longer cared about her life or the Holy Grail War. She just simply wanted to bring despair to her own Servant – and gorge herself on his anguish.

Sieg could not move; if he made any attempt to escape, Celenike would immediately activate her second Command Spell. Rider was managing to hold on thanks to his Noble Phantasm. For the moment, Celenike brandished her Command Spells only as a threat, taking in Rider’s wretched expression with hunger in her eyes. She would never show them mercy – but she would not give her second command just yet.

However, this was only a holding action. They would not have long – Ten seconds? Twenty? – before Celenike decided to move on. As soon as she did, Sieg would die by Rider’s hand.

His second Dead Count Shapeshifter was not yet ready for activation – and even if it were, he could only maintain it for three minutes. Just how long one Command Spell-driven order to “kill” would last, Sieg had no idea – and most likely, neither did Rider or Celenike.

Just as he reached a mental dead end, he finally saw the obvious. Yes, he could proceed to delay events for another three minutes, achieving little more – but what if he were to kill Celenike?

If he did that, the Command Spell’s power should naturally dissolve. It would also cut the lines that tie Rider to this world, of course – but Sieg had his own safeguard for that.

It all came down to his timing. Every twist of his hand and turn of his foot must be smooth and natural. Seeing that Celenike was not paying attention to him, Sieg quietly placed his hand on the dagger at his waist.

There was no time to hesitate. Move… move… move…!

The moment he made to push forward, Celenike’s head turned towards him, her face filled with conviction and cruelty. Chills ran down his back as he realized his failure, and at the same time, a sense of vertigo and nausea brought him to his knees.

“Hmm, it didn’t work all that well.”

Sieg looked down at the foot he brought forward, and clearly saw dull black stains on the ground. It was a trap.

“Don’t take me so lightly. Did you believe you, a mere homunculus, could defeat me, a practitioner of witchcraft? We are all the more sensitive towards enmity and hostility for what we are. I knew what you were planning from the moment you gripped your blade.”

As he crouched down in pain, Celenike grabbed the back of his head and crushed his face into the ground.

“Stop… it…!”

“Be quiet a moment, Rider. Don’t you worry… you’ll be the one to finish him off.”

She smashed his face against the ground again. Taking out an old-looking nail, likely some sort of thaumaturgical implement, she stabbed it into Sieg’s right palm. Sieg screamed from the excruciating agony.

“It hurts, doesn’t it? But it hurts me more. Do you know why? I have to see my Servant suffer for scum like you!”

Although only his hand was impaled, he felt as though his nerves were being ripped out of him and sawed apart one by one. Even with his newfound strength, he could not bear it.

“Witchcraft is made of malice, insidiousness, vileness and misery. I know over a hundred ways whose only the purpose is to visit misery upon your body. But while I would love to try every single one of them on you, I haven’t got that much time. For now…”

The small blade that Rider gave Sieg was hanging on the left side of his waist. It was meant to be drawn from its sheath with his right hand. With his right hand impaled, he could only take the handle with his left hand, even as he remained bent and on his knees. Even so, Sieg was not so foolish as to miss this golden opportunity.

Grasping with his left hand, he managed to find the weapon. Before Celenike could sense what was happening, he drew the blade and aimed straight for her neck. Celenike did not anticipate this attack at all, and reflexively bent back to avoid the knife – but it would not be enough. He could cut her… he only needed one slash to take her head.

However, in order to draw from his left side with his left hand, he had to grip the blade in reverse. The slash was more shallow than it should have been.


Celenike survived by the skin of her teeth as Sieg’s critical blow only managed to draw a little blood. Celenike jumped back in a panic and screeched out to hide her own fear.

“What did you do, homunculus?!”

“Get out of here, Sieg…!”

However, Sieg could not move his right hand. As soon as he tried to forcibly tear the nail away, convulsions assaulted his entire body. He could not escape.

“The fourth of the Black orders you with a Command Spell…!”

Celenike’s face was twisted by ecstasy, her eyes shining with a beast-like savagery. This was her true nature – the one she sought to hide in everyday life. Hers was the face of one who would ravish and kill on a whim.


Rider screamed through his tears, but Celenike possessed no mercy, As she took a deep breath to order him to kill the homunculus…

“God, just shut it, will you?”

…Celenike’s head disappeared. Her consciousness severed in an instant, she could not understand what had happened to her at all. Perhaps it was a blessing that she died amidst such joy.

A small-framed girl had performed the deed. Her short blonde hair was lightly tied in the back, and she wore a sporty tube-top with a revealing pair of short jeans and a red jacket on top. The great-sword she wielded was all too much a mismatch for her appearance. Rider realized who she was straight away.


“Correct,” Saber said in a low voice as she grinned. Rider kept his spear raised, his form unbent, and his eyes filled with murderous enmity. Yet despite Astolfo’s hateful gaze, the smile on Mordred’s face did not disappear.

“Leave it, Rider. You are still bound by whatever is left of that Command Spell. Be still – or you may find yourself aiming for him instead.”


As Mordred said, a Command Spell would continue to act until it was overwritten by the Master, or the prana contained by it was used up. Command Spells were disposable by design, and his Master was hardly able to issue a second order now, so the Command Spell would wear off eventually as long as Rider continued to resist it.

In other words – even if an enemy were to attack now, he could do nothing until he was freed.

“Hmph… which is a shame, seeing as I haven’t the time to deal with you right now. We have to head to that flying fortress. You just stay on the ground like the worm that you are.”


Both Rider and Sieg widened their eyes at her unexpected words. The Saber of Red shifted her gaze to Sieg – naturally on guard against her deadly opponent from moments ago – as the cursed nail faded away due to Celenike’s demise. However, there was no sign of blood-lust or animosity on her face. In fact, there was some measure of empathy she gazed at him.

“Geez… you two just ruin my mood… well, time for me to go. But know this… the Grail is mine. Get in my way – cross paths with me ever again – and I will cut you down. Do not pursue it. It is not fit for ones of your station.”

Losing all interest in the two, Saber disappeared. It was as though she had killed Celenike simply because she happened to pass by.


“D-Don’t, don’t come near me, idiot! What if I kill you?!”

Sieg hurriedly stopped himself as Rider cried out, unusually shrilly. He was slick with sweat and looked utterly exhausted. It must have been taxing to resist the Command Spell for so long – and it seemed would take a further toll still.

“Rider… do you have enough prana?”

“I’m all right. I have my Independent Action, luckily. I can… I can still hold on for a while longer. But…”

He sounded far from all right. Certainly, Servants with that skill could act for several hours to an entire day even while completely cut off from their Master’s prana supply. However, Rider was also simultaneously resisting a Command Spell, something that he would be unlikely to succeed at even under normal circumstances. He only lasted so long by keeping his Noble Phantasm active the entire time. At this rate, he would last barely minutes.


“N-No! I won’t! I won’t…! I haven’t come this far… to kill you now…! I’d rather… disappear…!”

Rider put on a light smile even as his body shook, as he effortlessly suppressed his own fear of death. However, Sieg was not about to let him die like this.

“Rider! Form a contract with me!”

“Wha?! W-Whoa, stop, stop! Out of my way!”

Rider, taken aback by Sieg’s abrupt suggestion, lost control of his lance and leapt towards him. Sieg moved back hastily and Rider managed to force himself to a stop just as the lance’s tip flashed over Sieg’s chest.

“D-Don’t surprise me like that! What do you mean, ‘contract’?! A Servant can’t form a contract with another Servant! It’s against the rules and it’s impossible!”

“Yes, I am a Servant… but at the same time, I am not.”


Sieg showed his Command Spells to the confused Rider.

“Do you see, Rider? I have the Command Spells – meaning that I qualify as a Master as well.”

“B-But, that would mean drawing you into this war..”

“Rider… I may be just an infant not even a year ago… a child, who knows the way but not the means… but at the very least, I know what I have to do right here and now.”

Rider might be attempting to kill him – but electing to escape by himself was simply another point of no return. Time was running out.

“You want me… to contract with you, right now? You’ll die if I lose myself even for an instant!”

“If I die, you die as well. It would be like a double suicide… we won’t owe each other anything. Besides, if the other option is to stand here while watching you die… I might as well be dead myself.”

“Okay, okay, I get it! I give up! Form a contract with me!”

Sieg nodded and thrust out his right hand. Grittng his teeth, Rider grabbed his hand. The Command Spell pressed Rider incessantly, ordering him to kill, while Rider continued expending massive amounts of prana to resist it.

There was not a second left to waste. Sieg raised his voice and chanted the words of contract.

“Let it be declared now;

your flesh shall serve under me, and my fate shall be with your sword.

Submit to the beckoning of the Holy Grail.

Answer, if you would submit to this will and this truth.

Answer to me and my words. Will your fate be as mine?”

“By the name of Rider shall your oath be answered!

You shall be my Master – and I, your Servant!”

Immediately, light raced between their clasped hands, and a path-way forced open between them, binding them. The Rider of Black found himself a new Master, and was allowed to stay on this earth for a little while longer. The contract was concluded between the Servant Rider and the Master who was himself a Servant, Sieg.

“Was that… it, then…?”

“Yes, it’s done.”

“G-Get away, then!”

At a lost, Sieg jumped aside as the golden lance swept across the spot where he had stood. Although he had become Rider’s new Master, the previous order against him was still active.

Even as he panted, Rider’s expression became one of relief.

“Th-That was close… what kind of Servant tries to kill his Master right after the contract…?”

“It’d be one for the history books.”

“No books! Anyway, if that’s been settled, I would prefer you getting away from me right now… um, until this order is cancelled, I mean. I can catch up with you later!”

“All right, I’ll make my way to the castle, then. Considering the situation, no magus or homunculus should obstruct. I want to confirm their intentions.”

“As you wish… but be careful of Caster. Out of them all, he was definitely the most interested in you. Well, I guess he’s at that flying fortress right now…”

Sieg nodded in understanding. It would be a dangerous trip, of course; at the moment, Sieg was resolutely neither an enemy nor an ally of the Yggdmillennias. Frankly, Sieg himself was not sure as to where he stood. He did not even know whether he wanted to stand against that clan of magi, or pursue the path of reconciliation.

The homunculi were also a source of uncertainty for him. Even were they to survive the Great Holy Grail War, what would they do? They was made to be extinguished, meant to be expended and used up. What life could they possibly choose? How would they live?

On that point, Sieg neither could nor felt he should help them. If he did, it would be no different from thoughtlessly following the will of another. In the end, they would have to choose their own paths by their own will. Even if theirs was a transient existence – no, perhaps precisely because of it – their lives should not be spent for anybody but themselves.

Looking up, he could see the fortress, so gigantic as to nearly obscure the moon. Sieg had no interest in the Holy Grail; after all, one’s wishes must be granted through the strength of one’s own hands. But there were Servants there at that very moment fighting to the death over it.

When the dust cleared, whose wishes would be granted? Would Jeanne d’Arc be able to judge over them as Ruler?

How would Ruler feel about him entering the Great Holy Grail War – sorrowful, or indignant? Or did she perhaps already know and had accepted this result as his fate?

Whichever the case, he got the feeling that…

“…she’s going to be angry.”

Sieg muttered, and quietly sighed.

A cold silence surrounded the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – the Noble Phantasm created by the Assassin of Red, the likes of which had never been seen before, that had managed to secure the Greater Grail.

A young man with brownish skin and silver hair steadily watched his opponent, wearing a gentle smile at odds with the air of deceit that surrounded him. Opposite him stood a girl, white as snow and with golden hair, her mouth forming a thin hard line and her eye delivering a scorching glare.

There should not be more than one of them – they both knew that well. After all, they were both Servants of the Ruler class – a Servant who never suffers the presence of another. Where there were supposed to be one singular overseer passing judgment on this conflict, here now stood two. What was more, one of them was participating as a Master of the Red camp.

“What are you plotting at, Amakusa Shirou? Would you truly go so far in your desire for the Holy Grail?”

“I am sure you can empathize. After all, you believe in Him just as I do.”

“You do not fool me… we both know that the Greater Grail of Fuyuki is not the Holy Grail we know most well.”

The Servant of the Ruler class – Jeanne d’Arc – pressed Shirou, rejecting his lies.

“Then there is hardly a need to be so protective of it, now is there?”

It was then, with a scornful laugh, that Shirou’s Servant decided to take form.

“Assassin… was this your doing?”

The Assassin of Red – Semiramis – chuckled at Ruler’s blunt interrogation.

“I see… so you suggest it was I who had deceived and misled my pure and innocent Master, leading him down this path of evil? Unfortunately, I am but a Servant, and Servants follow their Masters…”

“And what have you done to our Masters?”

The Archer clad in verdant green – Atalanta – approached Assassin, her sharp gaze entirely that of a predator ready to tear at the throat of her prey.

“Surely you mean your former Masters?”

Semiramis answered calmly. Achilles – the Rider of Red – managed to hold Atalanta in check, but he himself surveyed the pair with bloodcurdling animosity.

“There is no need to worry; they are alive and well. As I have said, they surrendered their rights as Masters peacefully. They now dream of a world where they have won the Holy Grail War. It would be most… prudent not to disturb them.”

The two Servants of Red moved at nearly the same time – Atalanta drawing and releasing an arrow, and Achilles thrusting his spear directly at Shirou’s neck. However, at the same time, another two of the Red camp came to Shirou’s defense. The Lancer of Red snatched Atalanta’s arrow out of the air, and Semiramis warded off the spear with her left hand. Of course, she did not do so unarmed; a set of black, fish-like scales spread from her hand. Although the armor was blown apart by Achilles’ spear, it managed to stop the thrust.

“Hmph… to think you would be able to pierce the scales of the sacred fish with such ease. As to be expected, I suppose… more and more, you prove yourself to be a true offspring of the Gods.”

Semiramis frowned and rubbed her bloodied hand.

“Heh… I could have put my spear through your scales, your arm and his head, if I’d really wanted to.”

“Yes, I suppose you could have – but that would be tantamount to suicide, Rider. I am your Master right now.”

Achilles shrugged.

“I don’t recall agreeing to a change in Masters. I might have never seen his face, but I’m not going to betray him.”

“That is only a matter of perspective, Rider. You have betrayed no one, I assure you.”

Rider clicked his tongue and backed away. Instead, Atalanta turned on the Servant that had intercepted her arrow.

“Why do you oppose us, Lancer? Pray tell you do not accept this one as our Master!”

“Strictly speaking, he is our Master… and while I also do not yet approve of this change, you are all far too heedless. Were there not truths you ought to probe before resorting to violence?”

At his words, Archer also backed away reluctantly.

“Thank you, Lancer.”

The Lancer of Red – Karna – did not bother turning to face Shirou.

“Spare me your gratitude. I did not act for your sake in the first place… and you would have had no difficulty evading that yourself to begin with. Do not force my hand again.”

“All right, I suppose…”

Shirou shrugged with a troubled smile, and turned to face Ruler again.

“We would like to make some requests. After all, this Great Holy Grail War is all but finished. Aside from Assassin, only three Servants of Black remain…”

“…four Servants of Black: Saber, Archer, Rider, and Caster…”

Shirou’s expression darkened slightly at Ruler’s interjection.

“Rather overassuming of you to include Saber, no? From what I see, he can barely last several minutes.”

“You are correct – but he is Saber none the less.”

Shirou smiled faintly and did not bother to argue the point. After all, sorrow filled Ruler’s face even as she made her claim.

Currently, the Master of the Saber of Black – Siegfried – was a homunculus. However, Saber could not strictly be called a full Servant. Instead, his was an exceedingly rare case where he needed to possess his own Master in order to take form in the world. In addition, Siegfried could only materialize for 180 seconds. As such, his existence did not weigh heavily in Shirou’s mind. On the other hand, Jeanne believed in his importance in what was to come.

“We will leave it at that. As for the Assassin of Black and its Master… while I still do not know their exact location, they are ones behind the serial killings, yes? I doubt we can truly consider them participants – just as I doubt they are truly your allies. They can be removed from the Black camp. So then, what would you make of the situation, Archer… Chiron?”

“I am afraid I do not understand. In this situation, it appears rather clear to me that Ruler and the Servants of Black stand on the same side. On the other hand, the Servants of Red hardly appear to form a united front at the moment. Under such conditions, neither camps appear to hold any great advantage.”

Archer’s words were not mere bluster but based on keen observations. At the very least, the Servants of Red were not about to attack them all at once; they were far too untrusting of their own Master.

“I see… and what about you, Caster?”

“Well, as for me… I do not comprehend why you did not simply assault with your entire force to annihilate the Black camp. After all, Ruler’s Command Spells will not work on you and – unlike Servants such as Archer and Ruler – I myself will certainly prove no match for any of you. Perhaps… there is something you wish to propose?”

Jeanne and Chiron stiffened at the implication of his words.


The Caster of Black, masked and clad all in blue, did not stir in the slightest – simply gazing directly at Shirou.

“Yes, Avicebron – I wish to propose your surrender.”

Shirou revealed Caster’s true name without any fanfare – but that no longer came as a shock to any of them. While Shirou did not possess Command Spells against the participating Servants of this Grail War, as a Ruler, he still possessed the ability to discern the true names of every Servant present.

“If you would not kill me… then how would you activate the Holy Grail? Would you not fail to meet the required amount of defeated Servants?”

“That is of no concern. I understand this Holy Grail better than anyone else. Rest assured that both of our wishes can be fulfilled without either intruding on the other – assuming that what you hope for is within my expectations, of course.”

“I have one condition.”

“Please, go ahead. I will do my best to accommodate.”

“I have no issue with accepting you as my Master… however, I ask that you entrust to me my former Master, Roche Frain Yggdmillennia.”


“I do not wish him harmed.”

Shirou nodded in understanding. Semiramis laughed.

“We have here a most praiseworthy Servant! So you would offer your services in exchange for your lord’s safety…”

“Caster… you dare…”

Chiron spoke in a spine-chilling whisper; Achilles understood this to be proof of his immense anger. Ignoring Chiron’s words, Avicebron walked towards Shirou.

“Your hand, please.”

“You will excuse me if I do not bare my arm…”

Without any hesitation, he thrust out his hand. Shirou grasped it with his own and began the incantation for a fresh contract.

“Enough, Caster…!”

Chiron’s arrow, fired to stop them, was met by Karna’s divine spear. The deflected shaft embedded itself in the roof of the chamber and exploded loudly. Lancer fixed his gaze on him.

“Heroic Spirits summoned by the Holy Grail are to serve their Masters under the Command Spells and prana lines, but we Servants still possess the right of choice. I know not whom Caster’s former Master was… but should you not respect his decision, sage?”

Semiramis scowled as she complained.

“Do not damage my garden, Archer of Black. Your efforts are meaningless… destroying this place is beyond you.”

Chiron sighed, understanding that he could do no more. Thinking back, all the signs leading to this situation were already present. The Caster of Black had faithfully fulfilled his role, that is, the creation of golems. However, he held no particular interest in anything else – not in the progress of the war, nor whether he would obtain the Grail. Was this not a possibility from the start?

“I accept you as my Master – Amakusa Shirou Tokisada.”

Swiftly severing his bond with Roche, Avicebron became a Servant under Shirou.

“Allow me to give your first order immediately: surround them.”

“Understood, my lord.”

Perfectly composed, the Caster of Black made a small pulling motion with one finger on his right hand. Immediately, the doors of the chapel were thrown open and several golems rushed in. They were Avicebron’s absolute best units, into which he put all his skill. The golems of bronze, iron and earth moved with the gusto of actual living creatures, promptly taking position on all four sides of the Chiron and Jeanne. With the Servants of Red also present, the two were well and truly trapped.

“To be perfectly honest, I feel this is most underhanded and somewhat against my own wishes… but another Ruler is simply too much trouble. You and Archer shall perish here.”

Avicebron snapped his fingers at Shirou’s cold declaration, and his golems hurled themselves at the pair.


The Archer of Black placed an arrow on his bow and Ruler brandished her holy standard as the two met the charge. Although regular golems would not even slow down these two Servants, these ones were directly controlled by Avicebron and performed with agility and precision rivaling high-class Servants.

“While I would love to ask for the cooperation of all of you here… I suppose the pride of these two would not allow it. What will you do, Lancer?”

“You cannot provoke me with your implications of cowardice, priest. Command me to destroy them here and now, and I will. In this case, however…”

Karna raised his spear – but his attention was on neither Chiron nor Jeanne, instead focusing on the door through which the golems had burst through.

Striking the maw of one golem, Ruler quickly shifted her posture.


She called out to Chiron, who nodded without hesitation and leapt backwards swiftly. At this, Semiramis threw out her right hand.


Her incantation did not fill even a single verse – but within the Hanging Gardens, every spell she constructed became a great thaumaturgy. The blade of light she released was fixed, not on Ruler, but naturally upon the Archer of Black.

It was then that crimson lightning raced into the chapel.


The Servants of Red did not hide their surprise, shocked by the sudden ambush – except Karna. The knight who swept in was like a whirlwind, shooting red sparks all around and swinging a great-sword, bisecting two golems in one attack.

“She is here…”

Karna stepped forward swiftly and released a thrust. However, the knight masterfully parried his spear and then scaled a golem who moved to engage her, climbing to its head and plunging her sword in.

“Archer…! So this is why…!”

Semiramis glared at the hole in the roof opened by Chiron’s arrow earlier. Apparently, he was not merely attempting to prevent Avicebron’s and Shirou’s contract. The noise and burst of energy was meant to bring attention to their location – so that she could find her way here without trouble.

“I see…”

Shirou put on a thin smile as he greeted the intruder. The helm she had worn at their first meeting was long since removed, revealing her brilliant golden hair, ravening eyes – and fearless smirk.

“So you are the Saber of Red… the one who ended the glorious legend of King Arthur, the Knight of Treachery… Mordred.”

“Ha! That name is not yours to call!”

The Saber of Red roared and rampaged about with sword in hand. Semiramis made a noise of exasperation and shouted

“You presume to betray us, Saber?!”

“Are you dense?! You betrayed us! You schemed to kill my Master – and that makes you my enemy! Words will not save you from me!”

She stormed as her blade traced an arc in the air, unleashing an attack which tore apart the floor between Shirou and Jeanne, as though demarcating the two. Pieces of wood and stone flew into the air, followed by something sent flying into the chapel from far off in the distance. One surviving golem tried to intercept the attack reflexively, but by some sort of contraption, white smoke was shot out and soon filled the entire chamber.

“Enough with the irksome tricks…!”

Semiramis was fuming with rage.

“Archer, Saber, disengage now! Quickly!”

Chiron and Mordred, in wordless agreement, beat a hasty retreat from the ruined chapel.

“They must not escape, Shirou.”

“Please leave them to me.”

Avicebron stepped forward and – ignoring the clear bewilderment of the others – disappeared from the chamber, carried by one of his own golems.

“Well, what say we leave this to him?”

“Are you serious? He’s a Caster…”

“He stands against Ruler, Saber, and Archer… doubtless that he will only be crushed in turn.”

“He only wants to prove to us…”

Semiramis tilted her head, puzzled by Shirou’s murmurs.

“And what is it he wishes to prove? His strength, so that he is worthy to join our cause?”

“No, Assassin… he only wants to demonstrate that the existence he will soon bring to is the greatest to ever be. There is no self-interest in his actions – only the purest faith.”

A tradesman was one who devoted his spirit into his creations – his cause, his pride, and his technique. Avicebron was decisively different, for he offered his faith – his heart of worship. He worked for neither a cause nor the spirit of self, but simply continued to create more of his one focus. That was the sole reason why the Caster of Black joined the Red camp, to continue his pursuit of the ‘pinnacle’: the Anti-Army Noble Phantasm he was attempting to create… that transgression, the golem Keter Malkuth.

Avicebron commanded the golem to accelerate. He would not be able to reach Rider and Archer in a hundred years with his own two feet, but through the use of golems, he could pursue them effortlessly and at leisure.

First, he had to communicate with his former Master, who must be very confused at this point. He reached out to Roche via telepathy; while no longer his Servant, Avicebron still possessed some thaumaturgical tools that made long-distance communications a simple feat.

“Roche… Can you hear me, Roche?”

“S-Sir? Oh, thank goodness, you’re still alive!”

His voice was enough to reveal that he was overcome by tears – which was not unexpected, considering the contract between them had been so suddenly severed.

“What happened…?”

“There is no time to go into the details, but please calm yourself. Even now, you are very important to me. I require your help with completing an important step in our coming operation.”

“Y-Yes, sir! What do you need?”

Leaving the matter of transport to the golem, Avicebron glided through the Hanging Gardens as he talked to Roche.

“I need you to bring me the ‘core’ from my workshop. It is finally time to activate my Noble Phantasm.”

“Got it…!”

Flustered, Roche ended the dialogue.

Once Archer reached the castle, they would know that Caster had betrayed them – but it was most likely that Roche would come to him all the same. Avicebron was certain that the boy so infatuated with him would join him, even after discovering his treachery. He laughed bitterly; at the end of it all, he of all people needed to rely on the things he hated the most – a human being, and a child.

Life truly was but a succession of ironies and falsities, he reflected cynically, and the path to realizing our dreams would always be filled with great obstacles. However, he could not stop now. As a Servant, he was now closer than he had ever been to obtaining his dream – that place which all Kabbalist golemancers aspired to reach.

He no longer had eyes for anything else – not his enemies, not his allies, and not even himself.

Before they realized it, Mordred had disappeared. Jeanne and Chiron hastened towards the castle.

“Archer… with the fall of both the Lancer of Black and his Master, Darnic, this conflict between Noir and Rouge might as well be concluded. However, while it is not my desire to join one camp or the other, I hope that we may continue to cooperate.”

Chiron concurred. As she said, it was no longer a matter of which camp would obtain the Holy Grail.

“I see no issue with that. With Darnic’s defeat, the next in line to lead my side would be my Master, and she would certainly agree once she understood the situation. Of course, even with a Ruler in the fold, we are still at a clear disadvantage.”

“Right now, our one objective is to stop the Red camp… no, stop Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, at all costs.”

Surely, that was the reason why the Holy Grail had summoned her, even if she had to take as roundabout a method of possessing a living human of this era. Shirou did not seize the Greater Grail simply because he coveted power; he planned to use it and bring about something worse.

You know full well, Jeanne d’Arc… It is for the salvation all mankind.

There was no doubt or hesitation in his gaze. He did not let slip nonsense as though enraptured in some fantasy. That would have better, if anything – for Jeanne could sense nothing but the truth when he spoke. His words were the summation of a long-nurtured plan, built by layers upon layers of considerations. The Greater Grail of Fuyuki was activated by gathering the souls of Heroic Spirits in a process called the Holy Grail War – and Shirou devised a use for it that was likely beyond the imagination of even its original creators.

“The salvation of all mankind…”

“Do you believe him, Ruler? Do you think that boy is telling the truth…?”

“I do. And that Holy Grail is the means to that end – though the one thing I cannot imagine is what that would be.”

‘Saving the world’. The words were a farce, a game with words. No saint, king, or nation in the world could accomplish such a thing. Fortune and misfortune were two sides of the same set of scales, weighing equal. Blessings upon one individual simply brought curses upon another. Perfect ‘salvation’ might be possible on a small scale – within the minuscule confines of a single tale, a family, a group, or a single state, perhaps. But the wider the boundaries become, the more people become trodden underfoot.

“…and yet he was so utterly assured. He would aim to accomplish the task by means we cannot dare to conjure.”

“The problem is… whether it is true salvation.”

The answer was clear; ‘salvation of all mankind’ did not exist. It must not. The thoughts and actions of a single man could not define ultimate happiness for all of humanity.

“What about the Saber of Red, then?”

“If we had perished there, everything that followed would have gone according to Shirou’s will. Saber and her Master likely acted to prevent that. As to whether they would join forces with us…”

After all, that Saber seemed very confident in herself, Jeanne thought. To be expected of the Knight of Treachery who brought a king’s legend to an end, perhaps.

“What of the other Servants?”

“I do not know… both Rider and Archer are proud heroes. But their Master is Shirou now, and as long as he holds the Command Spells, they can do little about it.”

Lancer Karna, the peerless hero of ancient India; Archer Atalanta, the great huntress of the Greek myths; Rider Achilles, a man who has carved his name into history; Assassin Semiramis, the Assyrian queen; and Ruler Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, known as a boy of miracles. There was also Caster, who did not appear then but doubtless held great power as well. Finally, they were joined by the Caster of Black, the legendary Kabbalist and greatest golemancer in history, Avicebron.

On top of that, even the Greater Grail had been taken. The odds were entirely against them, and the sense of urgency would only increase as time passed. However, Ruler did not lose track of what she needed to do first; her greatest priority was making the Black camp understand exactly the situation they were in.

Crap, crap, crap…!

Betraying his appearance, Shishigou Kairi fled through the Hanging Gardens with unexpected nimbleness. He and Saber were trying to find a way to escape the flying fortress.

“Damn it! Nothing can ever go right, can it…!”

“No need to throw a tantrum, Master.”

“Yes, there is! They got a Servant for a Master, the cheating bastards! And a Ruler on top of that… and a survivor from the third war sixty years ago! This can’t get any worse!”

Mordred laughed loudly as she ran alongside him.

“Ha ha, that just simplifies things! All of them are our enemies! Excellent!”

“Not excellent! For now, we need to team up with the Black side, and that girl with the flag. Looks like she’s the real Ruler…”

Surely, they understood that Shishigou was not their enemy. After all, why would he send Saber into that chaotic mess if not to deliver such a message?

The floor shook. The Hanging Gardens were ascending.

“We are leaving, Master!”

“Wait, what are you…!”

Shishigou could not stop Mordred picking him up; he did not even have time to finish speaking before Mordred leapt off the side of the Hanging Gardens in a single breath, propelled by her Prana Burst. Their descent did not so much resemble that of a gently swaying parachute as that of a launched missile. Shishigou was clinging outside the cockpit of a fighter jet cruising at the speed of sound.

“You…! Are…! Nuts…!”

“Hahahahaha! Stop worrying and trust me!”

“My trust in you just took a nosedive off the side of a flying fortress!”

His ears were ringing. After a split second’s decision, Shishigou swallowed some remedy that would fortify him physically for an instant, and managed to control his hysteria. Of course, it was simply a brief consolation. If Saber made a single mistake, a very unpleasant accident awaited him on the ground.

They touched down, slowing from subsonic speeds to just around two hundred kilometers per hour. Saber skidded along the ground, killing most of the impact, but Shishigou still felt as though he was being pummeled by a heavyweight boxer. She bounded and skipped, slowing down with every step, and eventually Mordred and her passenger landed safely. Physically speaking, at least – Shishigou’s mind had been shattered into a million pieces.

I thought I was dead for sure…

That was the most succinct description of what Shishigou felt right now, and he swore to himself that the next time they decided to invade the Hanging Gardens, he would bring something actually meant to fly.

A significant portion of the forest had been mowed down by the Berserker of Red. It was at the lake at the northern tip where they were to meet.

Roche, riding a mobility golem moving at full speed, could feel himself shaking with joy. He was holding a giant cylindrical key – the ‘core’. At last, it was time to use it and activate the ultimate golem – Keter Malkuth. Even the golems that Caster had crafted on the side all this time exceeded their expectations in terms of their craftsmanship and the materials used in their construction. Yet Caster had called this one golem his greatest work. Despite being simply another Magus, Roche had been allowed to bask in its glory. How could he not rejoice?

Young, innocent Roche hurried on as commanded. He no longer cared about the Holy Grail War; witnessing the activation of this Noble Phantasm was victory enough for him.


Standing before the lake was Avicebron, who nodded lightly and greeted him as always.

“Here it is… I didn’t get it wrong, did I?”

“No, you did well.”

“That’s good… but, sir, didn’t you make this one quite a while ago? Why did you never activate it until now?”

Avicebron ignored the question. Taking the ‘core’ from Roche, he unceremoniously threw it into the mud and crouched, placing a hand in the clear water of the lake.

“What are you…?”

Avicebron put a finger to his lips, gesturing for him to be silent. Roche promptly covered his mouth with both hands. Then, before this still pool, the Caster of Black recited an incantation in a sonorous voice.

“Born of mother Earth, let thee take in the Wind of wisdom, drink deep of the Water of life…”

It was a prayer to Heaven to breath life into the earth.

“A brand of Fire shalt rest in thy hand, removing thee from the Devil of disease. Thy rancor shalt sunder thee, yet thy love shalt cleanse thy blood…”

Earth, wood, and his own flesh: he offered them all to his Lord. It was the apex of esotericae possible only for this man who desired neither power nor fame.

“Let thee be a colossus, soaring amongst the highest peaks. Let thee be stone, unyielding and firm. Let thy form befit thine office… our guardian, our leader, our great foundation…”

It was the crystallization of a miracle, the scale of which could no longer be defined as a Noble Phantasm.

“Thou art of earth yet not of earth, of man yet not of man. Thou shalt rest in paradise. Thou shalt rule it, for we would be led to its gates by thee. Thou art Dream. Thou art Hope. Thou art Love.”

It was the realization of the faith of those who had suffered through history, a recreation of His divine will – a pawn that would take up the task of recreating the world.

“Thou art the First Man, bearing the Holy Spirit… thy name be Adam.”

The lake frothed and seethed.

This was what Avicebron and Roche had been building in secret even as they continued the production of the golem soldiers. At first, Roche thought it was just a larger golem – exceedingly large, close to fifteen meters tall – and nothing much besides. Even Roche, with his skill, would be able to craft such a golem were he to spend fifty years on its creation – though he would only be able to recreate its size. Its quality would be a different matter entirely.

Even so, such a creation would not be particularly rare. Roche had heard tales of a witch who once possessed something on the same scale, or perhaps even bigger. Considering the age of that tale, it could be inferred that that witch’s creation would also be stronger, spiritually speaking. Even the material used to create this golem was nothing particularly special, despite their cost – their best quality being their pristine state.

However, Roche could not help but gasp in wonder. This golem was utterly abnormal on a conceptual level – though perhaps it was most fitting for Avicebron.

“This is a golem closest to its origin…”

The common perception of a golem was that of a manmade existence birthed by some thaumaturgical method, but that was not entirely correct. The golem was a foetus – ‘that which is without shape’. Golemancy was the arcane craft of the Lord to breathe life into Adam and thus mankind.

Many magi would shape earth into their desired form and bring it to life, but no further. After all, that one step further into what was beyond was the dearest wish of all Kabbalists, and not one to be taken lightly. In addition, the more perfected a golem, the more it became an existence removed from the magus’ original design.

The ultimate golem represented the parousia of Adam – the king protector who would finally lead his people, after enduring many years of suffering, to Paradise.

A massive arm extended from the lake. All the material used to create it – stone and earth and wood – were of respectable age and entirely natural, never having been employed as construction material or fuel. A third of Darnic’s fortunes went into procuring them.

Finally, its upper torso appeared, like a citadel raising from the surface of the water. After that, however, it stopped. Without the water of the lake, this golem could move no further – for now, at least.

“It is time to install the ‘core’. Are you ready, my Master?”


Sieg’s face clouded over as he surveyed the half destroyed castle.

He could see a slender arm, likely belonging to a homunculus, jutting out from under some debris – and hurriedly ran towards it when he saw it twitch.


The arm responded to his call, hand turning upwards as though reaching for something – help, Sieg realized. He placed his hand on the debris covering the homunculus. The thaumaturgy he employed was meant only for the destruction of its target; as such, there was no risk of it impacting upon whoever was trapped beneath.

After fully understanding its composition, Sieg accelerated his Magic Circuits and quickly blew apart the rubble. It was his best use of thaumaturgy yet, and everything burying the homunculus was reduced to dust – but he was too late.


Simply hurrying over to her side was not enough to save her. It was laughable to begin with, his belief that lending his hand before she was fully crushed would lead to her salvation. In the end, no one but her could have made the choice to save her: the choice to have not participated in the battle at all.

“Thank you, I owe you my life. Has the battle concluded?”

The debris striking her head had likely robbed her of most of her sight. The homunculus reached out every which way, her eyes glazed over. Sieg might have shattered the rubble crushing her, but she had been run clean through by one of the candlestands that once stood in the hall – and the direct impact of what must have been the aftershock of Spartacus’s strike had removed both of her legs. However, perhaps due to her non-functional pain receptors – or her conscious decision to overlook the sensation itself – she continued to ask of her duties in a detached tone of voice.

“Yes… it’s over.”

The girl sighed, solaced by his words. The act was entirely too human.

“In that case, I must return to my cleaning duties… but I will dirty the floors like this. How clumsy of me… I must change out these clothes, and trade this halberd for a broom, quickly… but first, I need to stop this bleeding…”

Killing his emotions, Sieg firmly grasped the hand of the girl without a single tremor.

“It’s all right. I’ll do that for you, after all of this is over. You should rest.”

“Is that… so?”

Relief crept into her voice.

“To be honest… I am feeling a little tired. If you could, that would be most wonderful. Excuse me while I take a short rest… please wake me after five hours.”

“You… can rest longer than that.”

“Five hours is enough sleep for a homunculus… but it seems my body is quite fatigued. I have never felt so… exhausted…”

She closed her eyes, and her hold on Sieg’s hand weakened. Is there nothing I can do? Sieg thought desperately – but of course, there was not. Eventually, losing her strength entirely, her arm slipped through Sieg’s relaxed grip and fell down. Sieg stood up and turned his back to her; there was nothing more he could do here. He still had his own mission – and its fulfillment would surely bring peace to her soul…

“And to think that you would come back, just for us… you have an unfortunate sense of obligation. But, thank you… for saving me…”

Sieg whipped around in shock, rushing over to take her hand again and check her pulse. But this time, the girl was well and truly gone. It seemed that at some point – perhaps from the very start – she had seen through his badly-performed act. He could not even let her pass away in peace.

How pathetic can I be…

So Sieg thought. However, she had thanked him in the end. Although saddened by the burden he had decided to shoulder, she thanked him for saving her. Enduring both crushing grief and anger, he turned his focus on salvation alone. What he needed to free the homunculi was not strength, which simply functioned as a force of deterrence. What he truly needed was their words, and nothing more.

The war had been thrown into chaos; all the Servants were currently in the field. At the very least, he should be able to sense any Servant within the castle except an Assassin.

Passing through broken walls, he slipped into the heart of the castle. The halls were originally lit by elaborate candles, kept alight by excessive thaumaturgical effort, but most of them had been snuffed out by now. As Sieg walked down the darkened hallways, he could sense none of his colleagues – the homunculi – and his chest tightened. Could it be that the girl he had watched over earlier was the last one…?


There was no sound. Despite the realization that the Yggdmillennia magi were not present, the silence was unbearably horrifying. He called out again.

“Is anyone there…!”

Some faint noise reached his ears. It might be coming from one of the magi – but he was a Master himself now, and held power and authority that they too must recognize. On top of that, he possessed the power of Siegfried. He walked onward without fear. However, some unspeakable repulsion pressed on his heart. As soon as he considered it, he found out the cause.

“This… is where I came from.”

The memory came to him as he walked. Yes, he had once come down this very hallway, from the opposite direction; he had been naked, staggered, and terrified – yet he dragged himself on regardless. The fear he had felt then was still etched in his mind. He had had nothing to call his own, except his life – and even that would soon have been taken away from him. It had simply been too unbearable.

But, now… he was all right. That sensation weighing on him was not horror, but simply discomfort from ruminating on the unpleasant past.

“The sound came from that room…”

It was where he had been born – that underground chamber filled with prana tanks. He himself had been built with the purpose of providing energy and dying in the process of doing so. He had gained sentience, however, by chance – or perhaps by fate. With these rather abstract thoughts in mind, Sieg opened the door to the chamber.

“So you’re the intruder, huh…”

A homunculus pointed a halberd at him. Her voice sounded somewhat familiar.

“Are you…?”

Yes, she was the first homunculus he had called out to – the first to leave the field of battle.

“Thanks to you, I managed to escape from that place. I must have been lucky, I suppose… that last attack was utterly beyond us.”

The weapon she thrust at him was brought back.

Many homunculi were still afloat in the tanks around them. Their barely opened eyes showed no signs of life; their hearts beat but their minds did not yet possess thoughts. They did not yet ‘live’ but merely ‘existed’. However, much like Sieg himself in the past, they sought salvation – and given the chance, they would certainly awake.

“Hurry, we have to…”

…release them, Sieg tried to say before the homunculus stopped him.

“Calm down. We are preparing the necessities now.”

Immediately, two homunculi came over to them carrying some makeshift stretchers, seemingly made from curtains from the hallway. They also brought clean sheets and clothes.

“We didn’t know how many there were. We got as much as we could.”

The young female homunculus was gasping for breath, as though having ran here at full tilt. When she noticed Sieg, her eyes widened and she began glowering at him with arched eyebrows, seemingly angry. The young homunculus pointed a finger at Sieg and said.

“At least say something if you’re still alive, idiot.”



The three homunculi were in agreement. While somewhat staggered by the sudden denouncement, Sieg then came to a realization.

“Did all of you sense it when I died…?”

They nodded, and a bitter taste filled his mouth. All homunculi crafted by the Yggdmillennia were connected, however weakly, by pathways similar to that between Masters and Servants. One of the results of their mass production, possibly – as while they had a critical lack of individuality, they could all receive important information such as one another’s survival from anywhere without any need for conscious efforts such as telepathy. Of course, such data was not necessary to them precisely due to their sameness; the death of another homunculus was just one more number in the grand calculation.

However, there was one exception: Sieg, the one that had broken out of the castle. However dulled their emotions, they did feel moved to protect him as he attempted his escape. How much had they secretly rejoiced when he had gotten away safely? How much disappointment, when he returned to the field of battle only to fall?

“I’m… sorry.”

“It’s fine. Come now, help us. We’re going to free them. There won’t be a better chance than this, with all the Servants out of the castle. And if our masters come…”

The homunculi all looked at Sieg who nodded in understanding. Most likely, he was the only one who could stand up to the magi.

“If it comes down to it, I will be your shield… let’s free them all.”

The task was easier than he had expected once they got started in earnest. After shattering the tank with the halberd, they removed the mechanisms used to absorb their prana, while Sieg wiped their bodies dry, dressed them and put them on the stretchers. By exercising their greatest quality – the ability to work with calm and patience – the homunculi were able to carry out the task impeccably.

“Where should we bring them?”

“To our chamber, for the time being. It should be large enough to keep a watch on everyone. Have any of the surviving healer homunculi start on treating them… better leave it to them than us combat and utility units.”

“All right. Let’s get them out of here, then.”

Two of the homunculi lifted a stretcher.


Their ‘patient’ opened his mouth, as though trying to breath. However, he could not make a sound with the wholly deficient vocal cords which he had never used before. Sieg held his hand up gently and prayed that he could hear his words.

“Don’t worry… you’re safe now.”

The homunculus lying on the stretcher blinked and nodded, his stiffened expression loosening ever so slightly. He might have been thirsting for salvation, but such confusion was to be expected considering the nature of his sudden awakening.

“Could you… call to him while we move him to the room? That should keep him somewhat relaxed.”

And so they carried him off while Sieg called out to him again and again. Eventually, the combat homunculi that had survived the battle, and the utility units that were stationed around the castle, began to appear one after another, helping their fellows. The first homunculus brandished her halberd, directing them briskly. Sieg continued his task of calming the released homunculi.

“It’s okay…”

“You’re all right…”

“You don’t need to worry…”

None of them could voice a single word – but their faces spoke clearly enough to him and all of the silent homunculi rescuers.

Not all of the ones that came out of the tanks were survivors. The more they broke out, the more they found that had already been consumed by the previous great battle. The rescuers did not put them on stretchers, only wrapping the sheets around them completely. Hopefully there would be time later to grieve for them later – so Sieg thought, and something came to the corner of his eye that he was unable to push back. The other homunculi, with their diluted emotions, were able to withstand it – but Sieg could not hold his tears. Having been granted the heart of a hero, and experienced death and rebirth himself once, he was severely shaken. The homunculus with the halberd tapped on his shoulder.

“Well, you can cry all you want… but try to hold it in for now. Something is coming.”

At her words, Sieg noticed it as well. A storm was charging down the hallway – but not Servants. Most likely it was the Masters, and their hostility was clear.

“Combat units, to the front!”

Following her direction, the combat homunculi clutching halberds and candlestands stepped to the front, while the others moved to continue their work at the back of the chamber. The door was thrown open and three magi swept in, ready for battle. First came Gordes – the one who had tried to kill Sieg – followed by the Forvedge siblings, Fiore and Caules. It was less than Sieg had expected even discounting Celenike, whom Mordred had dispatched earlier. Where were Darnic and Roche?

Whatever the case, the three present were certainly no easy game. Sieg concentrated on Gordes, glaring at him. The magus was shaking slightly – from rage rather than fear, judging from his expression.

“What are you all doing…?”

“Isn’t it obvious? We’re freeing them.”

Gordes let out a low snarl at Sieg’s matter-of-fact reply. As though sensing the deadlock, Fiore pushed herself in front of Gordes. Considering their prowess as magi, she likely held the most authority among them.

“And why are you doing such a thing, homunculus?”

Fiore asked coolly, her attitude exemplary of a magus. There was no anger in her tone; she spoke simply to inquire the truth. Sieg answered.

“Living as sacrifices just to be pumped dry of prana… no one deserves a death like that.”

“Even if that was the task they were created for?”

“They have no obligation to fulfill a task that was pressed upon them.”

“Hold on… hold it!”

Gordes cut in again and drew towards Sieg with overt animosity.

‘You…! You were the one that Rider tried to stand up for! Why must you interfere with our progress again and again?! Save the homunculi…? That’s preposterous! I made you, all of you! I decide what each of you will do! You – you’re supposed to provide prana! And you serve us directly! And you were made for battle! I decided that! My decision!”

“Quiet down, won’t you…? We thank you for creating us, but – can’t you just give it a rest? What else is there left for them to do?”

Gordes flinched, and Fiore spoke again.

“And what exactly will any of you do after this? Let us be frank. None of you have long to live, especially the combat units. What time is there for you to accomplish anything?”


The armed homunculi hung their heads. They were already aware of that fact, of course; unlike their fellows meant for utility or prana provision, they were tuned for and highly gifted in physical and magical combat – in exchange for possessing shortened lifespans. They were meant to spend their short lives racing across the battlefield.

“Well… he’s not wrong, I guess. There really isn’t much left for them to do.”


Fiore quelled her younger brother. He might have spoken the truth – but it was not a truth they could admit to just yet. Caules shrugged and turned away.

“The war is not over yet. Homunculus… in the last battle, you transformed into Saber. Did you not return to help…?”

“I am not your ally. I came to save them… that’s all.”

“No… you’re Siegfried! That makes me your Master!”

Gordes approached the perplexed Sieg, grabbing the front of his shirt and shaking him.

“Why, Saber?! Why did you choose oblivion… for a mere homunculus?! Did you have such distaste for battle? You are supposed to be a hero! Or were you so dissatisfied with me as your Master? Answer me, Siegfried!”

Gordes raved at him until losing all his spirit and crumbling to the floor.

“Sorry, but I’m only Saber in appearance… and I don’t know what made him decide to give his heart to me. I don’t know what discontent he might have felt.”

“Was it my fault…? It was simply mayhem… I was lost! If you had just told me… that I was wrong… if you had simply refused, I would have compromised as well! I would have…!”

“What are you saying now? You told him to shut up, didn’t you? What else could he do?”

The homunculi tensed. It was Astolfo. The three magi also seemed to have realize that their kin, Celenike, was dead.

“Rider, your Master…”

“…is Sieg right now. So?”

Casually tossing a grenade into the dialogue, Astolfo promptly moved to Sieg’s side without batting an eye towards the three magi who were rooted to the spot. After all, the Noble Phantasm tome carried by the Rider of Black possessed A-rank Magic Resistance; no magus of the modern era could harm him in any way.

“What’s so bad about this? The homunculi don’t want to fight, for one. What do you want from them?”

“That is unacceptable.”

Fiore stared coldly at Astolfo, gripping the handrims of her wheelchair tightly. She was beginning to suspect that Rider had betrayed them; was it not possible that this Servant had killed his own Master…?

“You can defend this fortress all you want, but you already lost the Grail, right? I mean, it just up and, whoop, gone!”

Astolfo shrugged and replied, showing no hint of whether he was aware of her doubts.

“Yes, but…”

The magi looked down with pensiveness. Indeed, what could allow them to reverse this situation? The Holy Grail – that symbol of the Yggdmillenia – had been seized from them, and by a flying fortress of all things. Such a miracle of the Age of Gods, making the Fortress of Millennia appear a toy in comparison, could only be a Noble Phantasm.

“And you… Gordes, was it? You told him, remember – you told him to never speak. I understand that revealing Siegfried’s true name would be disastrous… but when you said that to him, what it really sounded like was, ‘listen to my instructions because you are incompetent and will ruin our plans’. How could he possibly complain after hearing something like that?”

Gordes made a small noise of dismay. If that had been a mistake, then everything he had done since his first command had been wrong. No… he had been wrong ever since he held to the misassumption that his relation to his Servant would be no different than the usual bond of familiars.

“I… I was just so afraid of his weak point. It is too well known. He was a great hero, yet I simply could not put all my faith in him… I feared that he would be pierced through the back, like a fool – like how he had ended in life.”

It was the instant that Gordes – with a sigh that sounded like it was wringed from his soul – finally recognized his own blunder.


“Let the homunculi be free, Fiore… we have lost. Only Archer and Caster remain in our camp, and if Assassin is as you said, we cannot hope for anything from them. There is no faith to be had in serial killers.”

Gordes murmured, utterly exhausted. Fiore turned her sharp eyes towards Sieg, and the armed homunculi all around him – and at last the homunculi huddled weakly at the back of the chamber. Finally, she turned away with a pained expression.

“Very well… I will give you some time, homunculi. Do as you please.”

The homunculi around Sieg sighed with relief and hurried to care for those in the back of the chamber.

“So, Fiore… what now? Should we send a messenger to the Association to let them know of our surrender?”

“Hardly. We are freeing the homunculi – but the war is not lost.”

Fiore spoke resolutely, letting the others know that she did not yet accept their utter defeat.

“Grandfather once told me that Caster possessed an A-rank Anti-Army Noble Phantasm. With such a weapon, we can continue to fight.”

“But, is that really…?”

“Be quiet.”

Fiore silenced her brother with a forefinger, and then approached Sieg with a warm smile and extended hand.

“Master of Rider, and homunculus capable of artificially summoning Saber – would you please lend us your aid?”

“Y-You lot just don’t quit, do you?! How dare you even ask that of him?!”

Fiore shrugged and replied to Astolfo with a cool expression.

“And what is the issue here? We conceded to release the homunculi – naturally, we expect some form of compensation in return. All the more given that he is a homunculus and both the Master of the Rider of Black and capable of bringing out the Saber of Black.”

“N-No! No, no! Sieg is supposed to have a peaceful life now! No more orders, no more allegations, just…!”

Sieg placed a hand on Astolfo’s shoulder.

“I don’t mind, Rider. I’m a Master now… I’m ready to fight in this war.”


“And I’m a little curious as well. This Great Holy Grail War… is no longer just a conflict of ‘Black’ and ‘Red’, it seems.”


“I’m talking about Ruler. The fact that she was summoned at all means that something is probably wrong.”

“The scale of the conflict itself would be impossible under normal circumstances, no? Would that not be the cause?”

Sieg nodded at Fiore’s suggestion.

“That’s true. However, there is one more situation where a Ruler may be summoned. She said it herself: if the possibility exists that the Holy Grail War will bring ruin to the world, she will be called.”

It would be much simpler if it were as Fiore said, and Ruler had been brought here merely to judge the conflict between two teams of the fourteen Servants.

“Hm… Servants are closing in, Sieg. Two of them.”

“Yeah… it seems I can sense them too, somehow.”

“Archer and Caster, perhaps?”

Fiore tried sending a telepathic message to her Servant; if he was close enough to be detected by other Servants, he must be in range to respond. Chiron answered immediately.

“Are you all right, Archer?”

“Yes, but both Lancer and Lord Darnic have fallen.”

Although the spirit board had already informed them as such, hearing it confirmed by Chiron’s words gripped her with utter despair.

“I see…”

Fiore bit her lip. With their old leader gone, she was in command now. She had no choice but to muster her courage. Surely, Chiron’s return would help to dissolve this unease in her heart.

“Also, Caster has betrayed us.”


“Avicebron has allied with the Red camp against us and seeks to unleash his Noble Phantasm. Is his Master present with you?”

“Caules, go and find Roche! Now!”


Caules did not question his older sister for a second, immediately beginning his search.

“Homunculi… I’m afraid we have urgent need of your aid. We must locate the Master of Caster, Roche. Search every corner of the castle!”

None of them had ever heard seen such franticness in her. The homunculi nodded to each other and followed Caules out of the chamber.

“He is not here. We have begun a search, but…”

“Master, did Lord Darnic inform you of the details of Caster’s Noble Phantasm, Keter Malkuth?”

“Only that it is a large golem, and requires a ‘core’ to activate…”

“The ‘core’ required is a magus.”

Fiore was speechless. Chiron continued dispassionately.

“At first, Caster had planned for the Master of Saber to be employed – so Lord Darnic had advised me.”

“Uncle Gordes is here…”

“In that case, Caster must have chosen his own Master. Not every magus is qualified to act as the ‘core’; it requires certain qualities in terms of Magic Circuits, the Thaumaturgical Crest, the mental condition of the magus, and sheer affinity. Roche was likely the best choice to begin with.”

“But Roche was his Master… so he had to settle for Uncle Gordes instead?”

Fiore was not aware that the homunculus called Sieg was also one of the substitutes. Given Avicebron’s fixation on him, it was possible that Sieg was just as qualified as Roche to act as the ‘core’ – or perhaps even more so.

“But Roche…”

…respected his own Servant above all else. It was practically worship – and to be expected, considering Avicebron stood atop a pinnacle beyond even the young golemancer prodigy. He admired his Servant from the bottom of his heart. Yet how did the Caster of Black feel about Roche as a Master? Did he have affections for him? Did he find Roche’s high regard for him pleasing? Did he consider him as his own child?

Were any or all of these enough to make Avicebron give up the dream he had pursued throughout his entire life?

“We will reach…”

Fiore suddenly lost contact with Chiron, as though the cable between them were cut. Astolfo’s face darkened as he shouted.

“There’s another Servant headed this way!”

A massive ‘something’ impacted the underground chamber, shaking the floor and causing stones fragments to fall from the ceiling. The entire chamber trembled and shuddered as though in a giant drum being beat upon. However, this place was not designed to endure such a beating; sooner or later, it would collapse.

“Get out of here, all of you!”

Astolfo yelled as he picked up a large group of the rescued homunculi. Sieg and the other rescuers secured the rest and followed him out.

Fiore kicked off her wheelchair, activating the Bronze-Link Manipulators on her back. Using the four deployed arms, she reached ground level at terrific speeds, moving down a hallway and leaping out from one of the windows – and did not hide her shock as she cried out at what she saw.

“Is that… Keter Malkuth…?”

There was one thing that she understood with only a single glance. It was that the golem before her was entirely unlike anything she had ever seen before. Even Roche’s or Aviecebron’s other creations of war could offer no comparison; it was on a completely different level.

Roche was perplexed.


He did not understand any of this at all. He did not want to.

Caster had grabbed him by the neck and thrown him roughly at the golem. The stone and earth that came in contact with Roche liquefied and sealed his movements. Steadily, with a creaking noise, he was being absorbed into the innards of the golem. He knew that much. But he did not understand at all.

“Um, sir… what, are you…”

“Do you not know, my Master? By this time, you should be able to comprehend that you are to serve as the core…”

The Caster whom he so respected spoke with indifference. If this was such a matter of fact to him, it must not be of much issue… yes, it was nothing… nothing important… nothing big… no!

“Why are you doing this? Why?! M-Me, the core? I don’t want…!”

“It is because you are a fitting and sufficient magus, of course. Darnic had ordered me to make do with Gordes – but given the circumstances, there is no issue with using you.”

“Wh-What are you saying?! I’m… I’m a Master! I’m your Master!”

“Correct, hence I could not make you the core, at first. However, I accepted a proposal from one of the Masters of Red earlier. So you see, I am no longer your Servant. Do you understand? I have no interest in such trivial matters as to whether Red or Black emerge as victors.”


Proposal… accepted… betrayed… no interest… only… golems…

“I suppose it would be false to claim that I have no interest in the Holy Grail itself. But what is most important to me is the activation of this Noble Phantasm – and whether, at the end of all this, I could emulate the First Man, that which is so dearly desired by all my fellows. That is why I was summoned. That is why I had lived. Fortunately, by accepting a Master on the Red camp, I can employ you as the core.”

Amongst modern magi, Roche had the greatest affinity with golems. After all, that was how he had managed to summoned Avicebron. It also meant he was most compatible to power his Noble Phantasm.

“N-No…! No! Stop it! I don’t want…! I don’t… aaaahh!”

He was being dissolved. The flesh which composed Roche Frain Yggdmillennia was melting and being fused on a cellular level – to dirtied wood, and rock, and melting, melting, melting…

Roche screamed, swinging his arms and legs in wild terror – or tried to. But he could no longer feel anything with his limbs. The entirety of his lower body, up to his elbows, had already been taken into the heart of the golem.

“Why are you doing this?! Why…?! You were everything to me! I respected you! I worshiped you! Why…?!”

Avicebron, quietly working some unknown process, suddenly turned to face him.

“I would have thought that you knew me well…”


“Avicebron. Solomon ibn Gabirol. Philosopher. Poet. Cabbalist. Misanthropic… sickly… ailed in the skin. Is that about right?”

Roche silently waited for him to continue. What great secret was Caster about to reveal…?

“Unfortunately, I must betray your expectations. I was alone in my hatred of humans, and took up golemancy only to keep myself occupied. In the end, I decided to employ it in order to imitate the Lord – but even that dream was crushed before I had even been anywhere near its conclusion.”

His had been such a mundane life. He had been such a mundane existence. He had a dream but was unable to achieve it. Ultimately, that was what his life boiled down to. However…

“…this desire of mine must fulfilled. Yes, even if others see it only as clinging to a delusion. For this, I am prepared to make any sacrifice.”


“Feel free to condemn and reproach me. Certainly, you have shown me respect and worship. It was no lie that the affection you displayed towards me was most comforting.”

However, consider this.

“I despise humanity. I weary of this world. I abhor seeing eye to eye with anyone to the point of donning a mask. I cover my entire self in all my sickness. How did you possibly reach the conclusion that I would not plot to betray you?”

It was then that Roche realized he would never be able to understand this man. His Servant did not comprehend how he felt – and he himself knew nothing at all about Avicebron.

Roche only understood him to be a genius golemancer, and cared for nothing else. His misanthropy, his disease, his thoughts about golemancy, his desires and those of his people – he ignored all of it. Thus, this was but the most obvious of conclusions. Masters and Servants who did not mutually understand one another would suffer defeat. There was nothing more to it.

“No… stop… please… don’t do this…! Help…! Save me…! Someone save me! Someone…! Anyone!”

Anyone is fine! Just save me! Please! I won’t ask for any more! I’ve learnt my lesson! I’m sorry! Please forgive me! But who should I ask forgiveness from? What did I do wrong? No… please, wait. I’m scared. I don’t want to become a golem. I don’t. I just want to make them, I…

His mind was unnecessary, thus it was drained of its color. His Magic Circuits, his Thaumaturgical Crest, his Command Spells – his everything had become mere resource to grant motion to Keter Malkuth.

At the last, one final thought grazed his mind, an ironic reflection.

He hates other people so much. He can’t bear all the annoying humans in the world. Just like me. So why… why is he trying to create a human being? Funny…

Roche continued to exist in the world, but he was no longer alive. His mind had been wiped clean, his brain and body fused into the heart of the golem. At the same time, having been granted its core, the golem’s eyes became filled with light. It drew its legs up from the lake, its feet grasping powerfully upon the earth. Splendid, Avicebron sighed. Despite being a human product of amalgamated wood and stone and earth and human flesh, it felt as though it fully incorporated the grandeur of nature. It was simply beauty in itself.

The first miracle occurred. The earth upon which the giant stood firmly upon began to sing, spreading tree and grass. The trees the giant touched bore fruit, which fell to the earth and became more trees in return.

That was not all. The birds and beasts that had been repelled by the Yggdmillennia boundary field began to appear out of nowhere. Like moths to a flame, they approached the giant without hesitation, grasping onto it – and were broken apart without a single drop of blood. They were absorbed by the giant, becoming pure energy. They could wish for nothing more; after all, unintelligent beasts had always been helplessly attracted to him.

Furthermore, the area around the giant became rejuvenated. The air was faintly filled with a sweet, honey-like smell, such that simply taking breath would fill one with utter bliss.

“Yes… this is Eden.”

This was the ultimate expression of the pinnacle of golems pursued by numerous Cabbalists. Its mere existence could replace the current world with a Paradise. That was the true nature of the golem, Keter Malkuth – an autonomous Reality Marble.

As long as it existed, the giant would continue to replace the world with its own – Eden, the land granted to Adam and Eve by God.

“Now… shall we begin the salvation of this world, my golem? You shall fight, and kill, and destroy, and build Paradise on this Earth. All other meaningless conflicts will end. All meaningless societies will cease to be.”

The golem began its march towards the Fortress of Millennia, easily scaling the cliff side. Perched on its shoulder, Avicebron glared at the magi and Servants gathered atop the half-collapsed rampart.

And so the Masters and Servants of Black met the giant. Riding upon its shoulder was Avicebron, the Caster of Black who had so readily betrayed them for the Red camp.

“Hmph. So you are all alive…”


Fiore shouted. Avicebron gave a light nod in affirmation and waved his hand.

“Rider, and the new Servant who became Saber! It is good to see you are well.”

“Don’t be a fool! What are you doing, Caster?!”

“Betraying us, it would seem…”

Jolted by Gorde’s murmur, Sieg and Astolfo stared at Avicebron. Naturally, it was the latter who was the first to make his indignation known.

“Caster! Are you turning on us? Even your own Master?!”

Caster nodded calmly.

“I would rather say that I betrayed your expectations.”

“Don’t try to joke your way out of this!”

“I did not mean that as a joke… but yes, I suppose I did betray you. I am now your enemy. And now I will destroy you, and bring salvation to the world with this supreme Noble Phantasm.”

Avicebron’s words angered Astolfo further.

“Are you stupid? What can a puppet like that do for the world?!”

There truly was no concept of ‘the fear of God’ in Astolfo – whereas Sieg, Fiore and Gordes did their absolute best to avert their gaze from Avicebron’s golem.

“It’s… divine…”

They could not describe it as ‘fearsome’ or ‘powerful’. If anything, ‘wondrous’ would be more appropriate. It was the pearl of His work, the only being ordained to come into life veiled in glory. It was not an exaggeration to say that they wished to prostrate themselves before it. Looking upon it conjured nothing but the clear image of defeat.

“What insolence. I see it is true that your reason has evaporated.”

Only Astolfo remained standing in haughty defiance, glaring at the golem and Avicebron who controlled it. He puffed up and declared with confidence.

“That’s right! So I’m not afraid of you at all! Whatever it is that you think you’ve created… at the end of the day, it’s just another Noble Phantasm!”

Hearing his words, Sieg relaxed. Astolfo was right; the golem was simply another piece of armament. However divine its appearance, it was simply a creation of Avicebron.

“Quite correct… which is precisely why my arrow will not falter.”

Avicebron turned around at these words echoing through the air – but he was too late. He had no means to defend against a shaft that could pierce the sound barrier. The thin shield he quickly erected was blown apart with ease, only slightly changing the arrow’s course as it planted itself firmly in his shoulder.


Rasping in pain, Avicebron pulled out the arrow fired by Chiron, the Servant of Fiore and the last hope of the Yggdmillennia.


Fiore cried out in joy. He must have masked his presence from them for the sake of this one strike.

“So you managed to cling to life, Caster. Doubtless my next shot will end you.”

It was only natural, for the class of Caster was unsuited to close combat, and Avicebron was weak in body to begin with. Holding his shoulder, Avicebron turned to face Chiron.

“Hmph… so you would aim for me, Archer. However…”

“…even if I finish you off, it will not stop your Noble Phantasm. Is that correct?”

When Chiron pointed this out, Avicebron tilted his head.

“Then, why did you shoot?”

“Is it not obvious? I will not suffer a traitor to survive.”

“How irrational… I did not take you to be one moved to action by anger.”

Avicebron lamented – and another shot was fired, followed nearly simultaneously by a second and third. Avicebron could not even prepare any defenses before his skull and chest were pierced. He tottered about on the golem’s shoulder, somehow managing to keep from slipping off. However, Chiron knew that his had been a fatal blow.

“Unfortunately Archer, my task is already complete. My Noble Phantasm is active… I have no regrets.”

It was a lie; if possible, he had wanted to see for himself the Paradise that his golem would bring forth. The wish lingered painfully in his mind. However, he could do little about his wounds. Not to mention that Chiron was correct; whatever excuses he made, it was true that he had betrayed his own Master for his own desires. Even now, the fact left a sour aftertaste in his mouth.

In the end, however, it was his decision – and he gracefully accepted the retribution for his sin of treachery. Only death remained as his atonement, for he no longer possessed anything else – besides Adam perhaps, but he would never surrender him, of course. After all, Avicebron had sacrificed everything, even his own Master, for his birth. He could not let his creation meet its end here.

“I leave the rest to you, Keter Malkuth! You… yes, you have the power to build our Paradise! Grant the world… grant all humanity… grant our people… grant us your salvation!”

To the end, Avicebron never took off his mask or reveal his flesh, even as he fused with the golem. Much like the birds and beasts, it was his wish to become nourishment for his Noble Phantasm, Adam.



The magi and Servants watched on in disbelief as a great force began to surge within the golem. Most likely, it was due to taking in such an enormous source of energy as a Servant. The giant looked at them and its gaze settled on Fiore. It swung its right hand – and materialized a weapon. It was a sword of brilliant black.


Fiore froze. Earlier, this giant had shown clear killing intent in its strike; it must understand that she was Archer’s Master.

“Oh, no… let’s get out of here!”

Astolfo grabbed Fiore by the shoulder and without hesitation, leapt off the castle wall they were standing on. The east side of the fortress rampart was suspended over a sheer cliff; the drop was over several meters to the ground.

“Do you have a landing strategy?!”

Against Fiore’s impassioned protest, Astolfo showed a self-assured smile.

“Of course I do…! Come, Hippogriff!”

Slicing apart the air, his mount caught Fiore and Astolfo on its back, its shrill call resonating through the air.

“Hmm…? It’s in pretty bad shape, huh. Hey, come on! Get!”

Astolfo smacked the Hippogiff several times in the neck, and it turned its head to look at him with some resentment. Astolfo had already forgotten about their assault on the Hanging Gardens earlier, where it had received a powerful blow from Semiramis’ thaumaturgy to the point of needing to withdraw. It only took flight again, even in such a winded state, because of its owner’s command.

The giant’s black blade slashed the air a hair’s breadth behind them.

“Wahaha! That thing’s fast! Try not to get its attention, Master!”

Still in pursuit, the giant stopped and swung again at the Hippogriff’s back. Its booming impact shook the air and scattered residual prana all about. The giant sword of obsidian was brought to a stop just inches from the helm of Jeanne, who stood atop the rampart. With a single strike, the stone floor beneath her had nearly collapsed.

“The First Man, Adam… what a troublesome thing to leave behind, Caster.”

What was possibly the most surprising was the durability of her banner, which did not bend even as its received the full brunt of the giant’s sword. However long the giant were to continue his attack, it would never break past and reach her.

“Keep it still, Ruler!”

Chiron did not miss this opportunity, of course. Drawing his bow’s string, he loosed an arrow with all his might. The arrow punctured the giant’s eyeball and it reared. With a spirited shout, Jeanne deflected the obsidian sword and made a sprinting leap towards the giant. She flipped through the air, bringing her banner down on the giant’s knee and shattering the joint. The giant could only escape backwards, jumping off the cliff and landing on the ground below. This should guarantee the safety of Gordes, Caules, and the homunculi. However, it also meant that Ruler was now alone in facing the giant.

Continuing his attack, Chiron put another arrow to his bow in one smooth, swift action. He was merciless in combat; even now, he aimed for what appeared to be the giant’s other eyes. The tactic he employed was one of pure efficiency, brutally blinding the enemy and shooting again and again from his safe position. However, the giant upon which Avicebron had entrusted all his hopes was not a simple golem.


Even from his kneeling posture, the giant was able to sweep aside his arrows. That was the first shocking truth; it was a rigorous feat for any Servant to intercept Chiron’s undetectable arrows travelling beyond the speed of sound. However massive its form, the giant should not be able to deflect the attacks which had completely sealed even the movements of Achilles in their first engagement. However, after only a single shot, the giant had understood the attack and was able to deal with it cleanly.

The giant surprised them further still by leaping backwards, taking some distance from them – and then pulling out the arrow stuck in its own eye. Even as they watched on, the wound began to close.

“Healing thaumaturgy…?!”

Jeanne grimaced and denied those words.

“No, I believe that is… the blessing from the earth itself.”

As an autonomous Reality Marble, Adam could change his surroundings to an alien world simply by existing – and in Paradise, there was no bloodshed. Therefore, the arrow’s wound was made not to exist.

“We must bring it down quickly! If it can turn all of this place into its own world – it will become immortal!”

Adam had yet to completely convert this land of despair into its Paradise; that was how they had managed to hurt it at all. However, it would not take much longer. The further the influence of Eden spread – the longer the giant continued to exist – the more powerful its recovery ability became.

It was little wonder that Avicebron had left his dreams to this giant. Possessing absolute agelessness and deathlessness, it would not be possible for humanity to defeat this impregnable being – and perhaps, not even for Servants.

Evading the giant’s downward slash, Jeanne stabbed with her banner – not towards the abdomen which she could not reach, but one of its arms. However, the great-sword was drawn back with speed and stopped her attack. And so, she could only persist in spurring her heart, wavering at the divine sight of the giant, even as she maintained her stalling tactic.

Jeanne could only buy time for the others – for she had no means to bring decisive victory. Rather, she had one – but it was forbidden to her. At the very least, she could not employ it here. She was beginning to fluster but, holding back her emotions, she continued to swing her banner and deflect the giant’s sword.

Watching all this from high above, Fiore shouted.

“Rider! Can one of your Noble Phantasms defeat that…?!”

“Sorry, but I doubt it! My flute and tome won’t do anything to it, and my lance certainly wouldn’t hurt it much. The only reliable source of damage is my Hippogriff – but considering its wounds, it won’t be able to attack at full strength. Even if it could, there’s no guarantee that it can win. If anything, I don’t think it will!”

Fiore gritted her teeth. Was there no choice but to release Archer’s Noble Phantasm, then? Although a simple Anti-Unit type attack, its force was incomparable to his regular arrows; it was meant to kill in a single blow. But what if it did not…?

No – there was no time to hesitate, Fiore chided herself. Logic dictated that it was their only remaining option.

“What is your command, Master?”

Chiron spoke to her, encouraging her towards a decision.

“Yes… Archer, you may release your Noble Phantasm. But before you do, take some time – even just a minute – to consider whether it can truly defeat that golem.”

Acknowledging her order, Chiron turned his cold gaze towards the giant – using those eyes which had in the past gauged so many champions of might, heroes of guile, and demonic creatures aside.

“The golem is formed of wood, stone, and earth, and possesses a magus as its core – its ‘heart’. That was its weakness, of course – but could it be felled by piercing through its heart, given enough strength behind the blow? No… it would not.”

With his eyes, capable of seeing through all creation, Chiron could analyse and comprehend even the internal workings of Adam.

The heart was certainly important, considering the flow of prana within the giant. However, bigger issues laid with the brain and the two feet. The giant was closer to a Servant than a human or golem; it possessed a spiritual core in the skull as well. Simply putting a shot through its heart would not bring instant death while its head was intact. Even more pressing were its two feet grasping the ground firmly. It was through the soles of its feet that the giant managed to gain huge amounts of prana flowing from the earth.

As such, three forces were necessary to completely obliterate Keter Malkuth. One attack must destroy the spiritual core in its skull. A second attack must destroy its heart. A third attack must remove both its feet from the earth.

“It is impossible for my Noble Phantasm.”

Chiron alone would be able to fulfill one of the attacks. Borrowing the power of the homunculus boy, they could secure two. However, they could not manage three. They needed Ruler to hold back the flurry of strikes from the obsidian sword; it was only through her concentrated defense that they had any openings with which to attack the giant. If she moved to attack as well, it was possible that one of the three necessary attacks would be deflected.

They needed one more on their side, a warrior who was capable of such an attack – and so there was.

“Ruler! We require one more Servant! There must be one more nearby!”

Skillfully parrying a slash from the giant, Jeanne consented to his suggestion. It seemed Chiron had a plan – and already predicted the Servant who would be close at hand to assist. She brandished her banner and declared loudly.

“Saber of Red! By the name of Jeanne d’Arc, I call upon you to aid us in battle! I know you are close enough to hear this… come to us!”

For an instant, there was silence – but they could detect her enormous swirl of prana. The steel knight stepped forth from the shadows of the fallen trees, and Sieg stiffened. It was the Servant that had killed him earlier. Her helmet was disengaged, revealing a daring grin even as she stood barely removed from the immediate danger.

“And here I am, Ruler. What do you want from me?”

“Ask Archer… please!”

The flag and the blade clashed again, and giant’s weaker weapon shattered. However, the obsidian sword must be considered one of Adam‘s possessions as well, for it too began to regenerate immediately. It truly possessed limitless endurance and recoverability. Given enough time, they would eventually be unable to harm in any way.

“You, huh…”

“I… suppose we cannot simply let bygones be bygones. But forget them for a moment; for now, we must deal with that giant first.”

“I got it. We will play nice together, for now. And you, homunculus! Do you disagree?”

Mordred called out to Sieg with a mischievous smile. He took a deep breath and chose to bear it.

“I don’t!”

“Sieg, we require your help as well! Is it possible for you to materialize and release your Noble Phantasm?”

The homunculus looked at the back of his left hand. Some time had passed since his second use of the Command Spell. That deadly sensation which had gripped him after his transformation was now faint.

“There’s no problem. I can.”

“Hold on, Master…! What are you trying to make my Master do, Archer?!”

Astolfo complained even as he flew around on the back of the Hippogriff, preparing to harry the giant. However, Sieg stopped him with a shake of his head. Chiron began to talk to the two via telepathy.

“The release of your Noble Phantasms is required to bring the giant down in one blow. Saber, you will aim for the skull. Sieg, the heart. Launch your attacks the instant you see the giant’s feet leave the ground, after I shoot through both hamstrings.”

“And what happens if we fail?”

“The giant will never fall again, becoming immortal. It will be able to do as it will to the entire world. At the very least, Romania will be completely converted into an alien world.”

Chiron promptly revealed the severity of the situation. If they failed to bring it down – if any single one of them failed to time their attack correctly – there was a chance that the giant could rise again. Failure was unacceptable. They could not even wait for a better opportunity to strike, for the only opening would be one which they made themselves.

“Damn… I suppose I have no choice but to take this seriously.”

“All right. I’ll decide the best time to transform.”

“The first task falls to you, Ruler. As soon as you clear a path, I will secure the route – and these two will destroy it.”

“Understood! Then let’s…”

“Oh, hold on, Ruler!”

Even for Jeanne, crossing blades with the giant was no simple task. Every move she made was with her full power, as sweat poured down her face. The giant was relentless in its fierce assault. It stepped forward and slashed diagonally; using the tip of her banner, she forced the blade into a different trajectory, causing it to tear into the earth.

“I… am quite busy…!”

Laughing in spite of the situation, Mordred broached the subject.

“Servant Ruler possesses Command Spells for each Servant, correct?”

“Y-Yes, that’s right…!”

“Give me two, then.”

As could be expected, Jeanne was utterly dumbfounded as Mordred extorted from her with a smile on her face. Neither Chiron nor Sieg could think of anything to say on her brazen request.

“N-No! I will not! Granting you Command Spells…”

“…is possible, yes? The ones on a Ruler should not be much different from those on a Master.”

“Yes… but not two! One, maybe…!”

“All right, one it is! Hand it over!”


It hardly needed to be explained. Making an overly large request at first and, once it is rejected, pushing through with the result you truly desired – it was one of the most basic techniques of negotiations. Jeanne had fallen for it so spectacularly that she even presented the most desirable terms before Mordred could.

“F-Fine! All right! I will grant them to you later, but now…!”

Hearing this, Mordred brandished Clarent at the sky and announced regally.

“Good! Archer, the timing is yours! And you, homunculus, get yourself ready! We will dispose of this giant within three minutes!”

“Who made you the leader?!”

Astolfo was utterly justified in pointing this out, but Chiron and Sieg had no time to respond. Mordred had already preparing to release her Noble Phantasm.

“Come, lightning…!”

The Radiant Sword of the King crackled with electricity and began to change its shape, twisted by hatred into a blade of evil. Sieg saw this and brandished his left hand.

“With the Command Spell, I order my own flesh…”

His body transformed, as the borders of a confined world were raised. All rules were silenced and, for just three minutes, a miracle would make its advent upon the body of the homunculus called Sieg. Gordes and Caules were speechless as they watched from nearby.


Sieg expended another Dead Count Shapeshifter in exchange for a period of 180 seconds during which he crystallized as the Saber of Black. Effortlessly wielding the holy dragon-slaying sword Balmung, he immediately prepared to unleash it.

Jeanne and Chiron exchanged glances; it was from this point on that every second mattered. Jeanne swung her banner at the giant, parrying its slashes as she slowly drew it within Chiron’s effective range. However, Adam was not a fool. Although it was born with little experience in combat, it was learning at an incredible pace through exchanging blows with her. It was now beyond even the greatest of soldiers and approaching the territory of heroes. Accordingly, the tide of battle began to shift – as Adam began to overwhelm her.

The giant’s onslaught was reminiscent of an avalanche, or a tsunami, or a windstorm – a guided natural disaster. Every single strike in its unending string of attacks were placed perfectly, and with such force that any missteps from Jeanne would lead to her being torn in two.

Even those watching the scene unfold from the side were chilled. The golem certainly possessed might of arm befitting its size, and finesse of body which betrayed it. Any hero of worth could parry a powerful swing or weather a great technique – but Adam, combining the two, would doubtlessly crush down the average champion. Yet Jeanne held on, her hands steady and unshaken by the numerous strikes, every one of which must have drained her strength.

It struck fear in all of them – not the golem, which was truly extraordinary in its own regard, but the tenacity of Jeanne. The situation would not be so alarming if the giant’s opponent was one capable of overpowering it; great heroes like the Rider or Lancer of the Red camp, for example, should be able to face a giant such as this head-on and achieve victory with ease.

Jeanne did not overpower Adam in any way. She was weaker in both strength and now technique. She was little more than a single tree standing by itself against a tempest. Yet she refused to fall, continuing her dangerous game of tightrope where any single step backwards, any lost of balance, and any mistake in timing her advances meant instant death.

However, she could not create any openings in the giant’s defense. In order for Chiron to shoot through both of its legs at the same time, the giant must be forced into a situation where it forgot his existence, if only for an instant.

“Sieg, Mordred… can you go and assist her?”

Thus, the three of them must force an opening. It would become even more difficult for Chiron to gauge the timing but right now, the priority laid in actually gaining the chance to attack.


Mordred said as she released her prana, using the force to propel her forward. Sieg nodded wordlessly and, as Siegfried, brought Balmung to bear and dashed forth.

“Hey! Bring that great ugly rock for a face to my sword!”

Mordred soared through the air like a meteor, and the giant avoided her in a most surprising way.


Leaping high above her with frightening speed, the giant swung its obsidian sword downwards. Mordred clicked her tongue and defended against the slash with her own sword – but suspended in the air, she could not kill the momentum of the giant’s attack. She was smashed into the ground, just barely managing to land on her feet. However, the damage was severe, and cracks appeared in several spots on her armor. Her Master began the heal her immediately, but the giant had landed again and made to follow with another attack.

“Get back!”

Covering for Mordred, Sieg flung himself into the fray. Both gave fierce shouts as the phantasmal great-sword and the obsidian sword clashed.


Sieg’s expression twisted at the giant’s fearsome strength, which seemed to carried even the weight of its creator’s faith. He held on, although the thought crossed his mind as to whether he was qualified to oppose such conviction to begin with.

Jeanne hurried to his side and delivered a stout blow to crush the giant’s wrist. As the giant’s strength wavered, Sieg knocked it back with all his might. However, Sieg was dismayed to see that it took only an instant for the giant to heal its ruined wrist, immediately recovering its position.

This giant was to be the savior and guiding hand of a suffering people, able to overwrite the world simply by existing. Having taken a bite of the forbidden fruit, it gained the light of wisdom. Victory was all too simple for the giant; it only needed to remain standing. With every second that passed, it progressed further and further into a state where it would be completely unassailable.

On the other hand, the disadvantage on their side was all too obvious. Even with four heroes engaging the giant directly, they had only one chance to attack. If they missed it, victory was lost. It would be particularly critical for Sieg, who was only permitted to remain as Siegfried for three minutes; the giant only needed to wait the three minutes, or for Chiron to launch a premature attack. It was likely that Avicebron had known the mechanics behind Sieg’s transformations, and that his knowledge was passed onto the giant. Seemingly realizing that the miracle of Siegfried could only be maintained for a short moment, the giant committed itself to careful, deliberated attacks. That did not mean it was passive, however, simply that it changed tactics.

Impatience began to set in again – but the immortal heart of Siegfried inside him advised otherwise. It told him that he was not wrong – that his decision was well made. After all, the great sage who commanded them from the rear had yet to speak a single word. Therefore, their tactic must be correct. Sieg had absolute trust in Chiron.

Sieg had no time or right to the luxury of hesitation. For now, all Chiron needed him to do was put all his efforts into facing the giant. He brought his sword to bear and moved to engage again. There was no need to fear the giant’s massive bulk; after all, the crimson knight standing by his side was smaller than him yet more than capable of pressing him underfoot. Nothing the giant could do would be comparable.

Sieg unleashed a storm of blows, cutting and slashing and crushing. He continued his fearless assault, forcing the giant back – and Jeanne finally saw her chance.


It came at the perfect moment. Taking a powerful step, the holy maiden cried out and swung her banner upwards with every last ounce of strength she possessed, hitting the obsidian sword directly. The giant lost its balance and began to topple. Chiron placed two arrows on his bow and began to draw, charging both with as much prana as he could muster. He would release both at the same time to shoot through the giant’s feet. The living Noble Phantasm knew where Chiron was aiming – and that it now stood on the borderline between life and death. It also understood that, if it could defend against Chiron’s arrows, it would win. The giant was not afraid of death, but it utterly rejected failure in accomplishing the task it was given.

Chiron never lost his composure even as he prepared for his extraordinary shot. With a light nod, the sniper fired.

The First Man roared. It was obvious that it would lose at least one of its feet – so it worked to avoid losing both. It would only take seconds to recover from the former, after which the enemy would be powerless to stop it. The two massively charged arrows split the night and raced towards their targets. With the momentum of a cruise missile and destructive force to match, one completely pierced through and destroyed one of the giant’s ankles.

However, the giant was only concentrating on the other arrow to begin with. It was impossible to defend against it with the sword; there was not enough time. Thus the giant arrived at the most logical conclusion. There was no need for it to make up its mind, for it only did what was necessary.


The other arrow impacted directly on the giant’s left arm, tearing it to shreds – but it was worth the loss, for Chiron had failed to fulfill their victory condition of removing both feet at the same time. Yet if the giant had turned its gaze on him, it would have realized what Chiron’s true intentions. Chiron murmured, paying no heed to the fact that his shot had failed to reach its target.

“Caster… it certainly is possible for your golem to change this world. It would save your people and lead them to Eden.”

The giant began to regenerate; once its remaining feet reached the ground, the world would grant its blessing to Adam.

“However, it would seem the gaining of wisdom could not prevent one mistake. Yes, it has forgotten… that a hero without reason would not fear even your one true God.”

Something crashed into the back of the giant’s knee, and the feet that would have reached the earth was brought swinging into the air. A new emotion took root in the giant’s developing mind – fright.

The heroes arrayed against it were all famous figures: the Knight of Treachery, the pinnacle of bowmen, the holy maiden savior, and the strongest dragon-slayer. However, there was one more on the battlefield which could not be forgotten.

“Got it…! It’s all yours, Master!”

A minor champion, a gallant and excellent knight, and a hero so bereft of reason that he feared no God or Devil. The rider on his phantasmal mount brought down the enemy with his golden lance.

Charging the giant on his Hippogriff, Astolfo hit the back of its knee directly with the Trap of Argalia. In terms of damage, it was nothing than a mosquito bite, but the scene soon turned surreal as Adam tumbled into the air. It was as though it had comically stepped on a banana peel.

The golden lance was a weapon with the concept of making anyone who touched it fall down, a humorous yet deadly effect. And before its power there would be no exceptions – not Servants, and not even the First Man.

In the moment it became airborne, Adam lost the blessing of the earth. It was for these few seconds that the great sage had planned so carefully for. For the best-laid plans caught its opponent easily yet unexpectedly, while over-complicated schemes found themselves crumbling before brute simplicity.

From the moment Astolfo had saved his master, Chiron had begun to prepare for this moment. All of his actions afterwards were made with the impression that those two were no longer present in the battle. From that point on, Astolfo must have disappeared from the giant’s thoughts as it devoted its attention to its four opponents at present. It was a weakness born from Avicebron’s own lack of understanding of Astolfo. The Rider of Black was a weak hero and had no means to disarm the giant; however, he could easily remove its footing – all the more given that he did not fear Adam at all.

It was time for the two heroes to make their move. Siegfried curled his body like a wild beast and leapt forward, while Mordred release her prana is a single burst and flew at her target like a bullet.

Red lightning crackled as Mordred exercised her Prana Burst fully, her instincts telling her that this was their one and only chance at victory. Her Master might complain now, but surely it would be forgotten once she had won. Right now, it was time to revenge herself for what she was made to suffer earlier. All feelings of humiliation were blown aside by her animosity as she aimed at the skull of Adam – the puppet that dared to stand before her with its one-track obedience and artificial life. There was some grudging sympathy – but it was incomparable with her animosity.

“Sword of the king!”

Responding to her enmity, the sword symbolic of the king’s authority began to warp, stained by her hatred.

“I see… so you are just another golem, in the end.”

Sieg thought. Yes, the Noble Phantasm Adam had the incredible ability to change the world. However, it was not born of its own will. Its wish was neither chosen nor even borrowed – but simply granted by Avicebron. It did not yet possess its own opinion. In that case – Sieg must win.

Sieg had advanced further than this giant. He did not act in accordance with what was mandated of him, but his own precious desires which he had taken so long to form. He was proud of his wish and would risk his life for it. The salvation of his comrades – it was as foolhardy as it was straightforward and clear, and it grew with every passing moment. No matter how many times he tried to lift them up, his weak self would never have been able to save them all – but he had been granted strength to do so, by those who had changed his life. That was why he could not lose. That was why he must win.

It was much the same scene as the initial clash of the Sabers earlier in the war, but with a single difference; the two swords were now aiming at the same target, the great Noble Phantasm which Avicebron had devoted everything in life for – Keter Malkuth. There was no need to match their individual timing. They needed only to think back to the last time they had acted in unison.


The Saber of black shouted.


The Saber of Red roared.

Bright twilight and crimson aurora fused together and threw out dazzling light of every color. All those who saw it swallowed their breath at its magnificence – and so, it seemed, did Adam. The puppet of stone and wood and dirt reached out at the shining light – that light of consummate annihilation wielded by the two very different swordsmen: the slayer of dragons and the killer of heroes.


“…Blood Arthur!”

The crimson emission bore through the head of the golem as surging twilight completely devoured its core. Not three seconds had passed since Jeanne raised her banner, Chiron released his arrows, and Astolfo tripped the giant. In that brief moment, they had fulfilled all of their objectives. Mordred chuckled and thrust out a middle finger.

“Headshot! Go find your Eden elsewhere, pawn!”

The woods around the giant began to wither before the golem had completely collapsed. After all, the earth could no longer become Paradise, as the undying Adam decayed.

“We did it!”

Astolfo pumped his fist into the air and the magi finally let out the breath they had been holding. Seeing this and realizing that his task had been complete – that he would be able to continue fulfilling his wish – Sieg felt relief in his heart. His suit of armor came apart and he paid no further attention to his exhaustion and pain.


Jeanne ran over to him. Sieg raised his right hand to signal that he was all right; however, the gesture was apparently so weak that it made her worry even more. She gripped his body here and there, searching for wounds.

“You are not injured, are you…?”

She asked one more time for confirmation. She really does worry too much, Sieg thought as he replied.

“It still aches a bit… but yes, I’m all right.”

“Boys cannot be trusted when they say they are ‘all right’.”

Sieg had no response to that claim. In any case, she was satisfied that he was not harmed. Jeanne knelt and clasped her hands together, praying for the fading giant. Was it to bring peace to the Caster of Black? The magus who was converted into the core? Or the newborn foetus whose mere birth could not be forgiven? Sieg did not know; he simply thought that she was beautiful as she prayed. However, it was at the same time a painful sight to behold, for he knew that prayers did not reach anyone. Nothing came from relying on heavenly forces; she must know better than anyone else that nothing could be saved by prayer alone.

Yet the holy maiden Jeanne d’Arc continued. One day, Sieg thought, he would ask her – whither she directed her prayers to.

The battle was over. They had managed to defeat both the Caster of Black and his Noble Phantasm, but it could hardly be said that they had reversed the overall situation.

“Ruler, my Master wishes to speak with you.”

Chiron called out to Jeanne.

“You as well, Saber of Red.”

“Yes, if you wish only to speak. We will form no alliances.”

“Very well. Let us simply share what information we possess, then. After all, you and your Master do not yet fully grasp what had taken place within the Hanging Gardens.”

Mordred made a noise of irritation and turned her back to them, beginning a quick exchange with Shishigou via telepathy.

“Okay… oh, and my Master expects his compensation within the day.”

As soon as Jeanne heard this, her face was overcome by distress. But a promise was a promise, and she had no choice in the matter. At the very least, she had one Command Spell remaining for herself, which would be enough to prevent the worst from occurring. Although disheartened, she assured them that she would make good on her commitments.

Shishigou must have been observing the battle from unexpectedly close by, as he reached the rendezvous in less than five minutes. He was greeted by Mordred, Jeanne, Chiron, and Fiore.

“Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia, right? I haven’t seen you since… yesterday.”

Shishigou raised a hand and grinned. Meanwhile, the girl tried to maintain her composure – but somewhere in her expression a slight rigidness could be found. Unlike the mercenary, she was not quite as capable in detaching herself from her emotions.

“Yes… we meet again under surprisingly different circumstances, and much sooner than I had wanted.”

“Well, we’ll all have to change our views a bit. From the moment the Greater Grail was stolen, this war has moved onto its next stage. We aren’t enemies any more.”

“Yes. for now.”

“For now.”

They chuckled. Fiore knew one thing for certain – behind the man’s sunglasses, there was no laughter to be found in his eyes. Of course, Shishigou could say much the same for her.

Chapter 2

The Hanging Gardens had already begun its advance. Having taken the Greater Grail into its stomach, the fortress sailed across the dawn sky.

With his sensory abilities as a Ruler, Shirou was able to determine that Avicebron had perished; it would seem he was unable to fulfill his dream. In any case, it meant that the opposing camp now had some leeway to reform and reorganize.

“Considering the time required to go through all of their information, trace our location, not mentioning the actual pursuit… I would say around three days.”

“Until they are upon us again, you mean?”

“Yes. Assuming, of course, that Ruler is able to convince the Yggdmillennia magi and bring together the surviving Servants.”

It was possible that the Yggdmillennia would lose faith and beg for aid at the door of the Association. This was an emergency even for the Association; after all, they wanted the Greater Grail as well.

“Now… what say we hear your side of the story? Then I will decide whether to take your head.”

Achilles said with a grim face, thrusting the blade of his spear into the floor. It was not an exaggeration; if Shirou were to give an unsatisfactory response, Achilles would aim to kill the boy regardless of his chance of success. More problematic was the distance between them, as there would be no time for him to utilize a Command Spell.

Rather, ‘distance’ was never an issue to begin with – for Achilles, anything within his sight had already entered striking distance. His spear would be able to close in and decapitate him in an instant. And that was without mentioning the other Servant who had an arrow drawn and ready on Tauropolos. Atalanta was similarly prepared to shoot through his skull without reserve. She waited only on Shirou’s answer.

Karna did not yet move from his place by the wall, though it was beyond clear that he would not follow any commands just yet. However, Shirou had no choice but to speak the truth in his heart. He did not believe it would be possible to deceive any of them to begin with, least of all Karna.

“I will answer all questions truthfully.”

“Good. So what are you planning?”

“The salvation of all mankind, as I have already said to Ruler. That was the purpose for which I required the Greater Grail. I required it, and so I acquired it… just as I required Servants to survive this Great War, so I acquired all of you.”

Achilles and Atalanta gave brief glances at Karna, before whom all attempts at falsehoods and blandishments were meaningless. The ‘Hero of Charity’ nodded lightly at them.

There was surprise, and confusion. Shirou was evidently serious. They could not laugh his words off as some insane drivel. They pressed him further.

“Where are our Masters? What did you do to them?”

“Can you not sense them? All five of them are in a room on this very garden. In fact, they should all be still very much alive and human. The poison we used was made to ensure that.”

“So it was you, then…”

All of the Servants rounded on Semiramis, who wore her usual elegant smile as she turned to face and answer them.

“But of course, we could hardly have them moving about as they pleased. However excellent, they are but Magi… ones who consider naught but how to surpass their fellows. They would only hamper us.”

“Indeed, you are showing just how different you are to them and their self-centered ways.”

Semiramis shot a dirty look at Karna for his quiet remark, and Shirou chuckled awkwardly.

“And what’s to come of us? Once we’ve served our purposes, you’ll just get rid of us, then? Is that why you wanted to become the sole Master?”

“Oh, far from it. As long as your wishes do not directly conflict with mine, I will give my all to see that your individual desires are granted as well. As your Master, I also would like to ask of you all; what is it that makes you seek the miracle that is the Holy Grail?”

All three Servants fell silent at his words. After exchanging some subtle glances with one another, Achilles sighed and spoke.

“My wish is no different from when I was alive… to ‘live as a hero’, nothing more.”

“Are you saying that there is nothing left for you, and you have no desire for a second life?”

“Not quite… settling down in this world certainly has its own appeal. But before all else comes my conduct as a hero.”

That was the oath he had sworn to his mother, to live and to die as a hero. That would never change, in one life or the next; Achilles would not accept anything else. He did not regret any of the things he had done in his past life – the deeds he accomplished, the evils he committed, even his rebellion against the Gods. However, he would not pretend to be a saint and act as though he had no other desires. If anything, he was filled with impulses and urges.

“I see, I see… but I must say, a rather uninspired wish for the great Achilles.”

“Shut it, Empress. As you say, my wish is uninspired… but don’t think I’ll let it go just because of whatever high and noble cause you think to have. I’m in this only for me and my own.”

Achilles and Semiramis glared at each other. Shirou spoke out as though to intercede.

“All wishes are equal. They are not judged by any height. In any case, what you desire is something you are willing to fight for… and it is not something which clashes with my interests. You simply need to act as a hero for my sake, and destroy my enemies. I will support you with prana and Command Spells.”

“And you are so sure that your enemies are the same as mine?”

Shirou shrugged.

“If you ever judge that they do not coincide, feel free to ignore or assist us as you please. However… I do believe there is a single Archer in the Black camp which opposes us.”

Achilles clicked his tongue, but his murderous mood began to fade. After all, settling the duel with Chiron was his one goal in this war.

“Is there anything else?”

“Yes… but I’ll wait until the others are all done.”

Achilles said as he placed his spear at his feet. It was not a sign of surrender; he still stood in defiance, not accepting his new Master. But he made it known that he would not oppose them for the time being.

“As for myself… while it was quite grating to hear that my Master had been poisoned, I suppose there is little point in worrying myself further. I shall accept you as my new Master.”

“Are you serious? That’s all there is to it, then?”

Despite the exasperation in Achilles’ tone, Atalanta answered him with an even voice.

“That is all there is to it, for this is the Holy Grail War. It is a competition to overtake all rivals… and it is none’s fault other than your own to fall for the tricks of others. My former Master ought have exercised caution before calling forth me as a Servant. I do not feel bound to such a Master, filled with hubris in place of care. That they still live is already a blessing in itself.”

Her words were hard and devoid of pity, but they were not without logic. For the girl who had been abandoned soon after birth and raised by on the breast of a bear until being found by hunters, the world was a simple place where subsistence was something seized from others. However, there was still one thing which she had mercy upon.

“My wish is for a world where all children are loved. A cycle of life where the young can be raised in the loving care of fathers and mothers, so that they too can one day raise their own. Anyone daring to interfere with this desire of mine shall receive no mercy from me.”

“Do not take this as offense, Archer, but… is such a world not impossible?”

There was some anger in Atalanta’s words as she replied to Semiramis’ question.

“Then for what do we vie for the Holy Grail? How be it a wish-granter if it cannot fulfill such a simple request?”

Shirou nodded with a light smile on his face.

“Yes… such a wish is perfectly possible for the Holy Grail. In some form or another, it will be capable of granting her desire. After all, the thing you wish for is but a portion of my own.”

“The salvation of mankind, is it?”

“That’s right. Of course, you may deny and reject my wish. I will simply remove the contract between us, so that you are free to work with someone else. You can even join the Black camp.”

It was not a lie, as far as Atalanta could see. And while she did have one question remaining, it was likely the same as that in the minds of Achilles and Karna – the question which ought to close this discussion.

“What of you, Lancer?”

Atalanta passed the conversation to Karna, standing with his back against the wall as he watched in silence with his divine eyes. All this time, Shirou had felt immensely pressured by the hero, almost as though he had been laid open before him. Quietly, Karna began to speak.

“In truth, you are not the Master who summoned me… the one who desperately called for my aid in obtaining the Holy Grail despite being so weak in body. That was the reason why I took up arms and answered the summons. That is my wish, and my compensation.”

“You mean to say that the only Master you recognize is the one who called for you? You are a fool, Hero of Charity. That decision is most unwise.”

Taking his declaration as a sign of hostility, Semiramis moved immediately to neutralize him. However, she was held in check by Shirou’s gaze. Karna did not show any hint of fear as he continued flatly.

“Call me what you will, Queen of Assyria. Your brandings do not concern me. I am nothing more than a spear.”

Aside from Shirou, all the Servants present were at a loss for words. After all, having been granted knowledge by the Holy Grail, they all understood what kind of existence this extraordinary hero was. If anyone else had said the same thing, this excessive display of humility – to the point of becoming a repulsive slavishness – would have been met with irritation or sarcasm. However, Karna’s words came from the bottom of his heart; he believed in them in all his earnestness.

“In that case… may I also call for your aid?”

“Certainly, the positions have been reversed, but the enemy will come for the Grail all the same. As such, I only need to destroy them.”

He apparently would not oppose them. With some hesitation, Semiramis lowered the arm she had raised to weave a spell.

“Well… it is also my own desire to fight for this side, so all the better. With all my might shall the flames engulf any who attempt to take the Grail.”

The spearman’s words alarmed the others. It seemed even Karna, who did not possessed any concept of self-interest, had a wish for the Holy Grail.

“Do you refer to the continuation of your duel with Siegfried?”

“Yes. After all, that was what was requested of me when we first fought.”

Their duel had been an unending display of technique and skill. The God-spear pierced that immortal dragon’s scales again and again, even as the great-sword managed to make its mark all over his unbreakable golden armor. Theirs had been neither a ruthless duel to the death nor some feeble exercise where both sides held their strengths in check. Instead, it had been a miraculous balance of two fully unleashed forces rivaling one another. Those few hours until the dawn that ended their duel had lasted but an instant.

Shirou raised his eyebrows, but decided to say nothing of the fact that Karna’s wish could no longer be fulfilled. After all, Siegfried was already gone. All that existed of the Saber of Black now was contained within a simple homunculus. However, it seemed that was precisely what Karna was referring to; perhaps he had already known.

“If the Saber of Black ever comes to the Hanging Gardens, I assure you that he will find his way to you.”

Shirou said, and Karna gave a slight nod of gratitude. It was not a lie, after all, that Siegfried still existed if only in appearance. Although some guilt remained in his heart, it would only bring further trouble if Shirou were to speak his mind and cause Karna to take back his word – although such a thing was unimaginable from such a charitable hero.

“Now, allow me to represent the three of us in asking one final question. Shirou Kotomine… how do you plan to use the Holy Grail to bring about salvation for all mankind?”

That was the one question the three Servants all wanted answered. After all, their opposition included the neutral Ruler – and it was clearly their side which attacked her first. Servant Ruler was summoned to protect the conduct of the Holy Grail War and prevent said conflict from bringing destruction to the world at large; in their present situation, it seemed clearly to be the latter case. In other words, the Grail itself had determined Shirou’s wish to be a threat.

“Yes… it will invite some unfortunate misconceptions if I do not speak of this now. For example, some might think that I am not considering saving the world at all, but simply acting as a puppet for that laughing Servant over there…”

Hearing this, Semiramis looked somewhat disgruntled and turned away.

“So, how I will use the Greater Grail to save humanity… let me be a bit more specific in terms of what I plan to do.”

Amakusa Shirou Tokisada began to speak – of the results of innumerable thoughts entwined by nigh madness into the single conclusion he reached. No matter how others might misunderstand it – whatever they would accuse him of – he would never change this answer.

“…That was what Archer and I had encountered.”

Jeanne’s recount crushed the words from all those present. The shock was clear on the faces of all of them aside from Chiron, who had witnessed it all first-hand. It would take some time before the silence was finally broken.

The Fortress of Millennia laid mostly in ruins, but there were still an abundance of rooms available. They were gathered in a meeting room for clan members. Fallen chairs and a shattered chandelier spoke of the impact from earlier, but Fiore corrected them right away. Of course, not even Fiore and Gordes combined would be able to repair the entire castle. They could only take their time in fixing one small part at a time.

A thought suddenly came to Caules as he looked around at all those in this room. It was strange that Darnic, Celenike, and Roche – the Masters whom he had been sure would survive the war – were all dead, whereas he himself was still alive. After all, it was obvious that he would be the first Master to fall, or so he had convinced himself. He was simply lacking as a Magus.

The situation seemed almost surreal. Perhaps it was due to the display of overwhelming force he had just been shown. Perhaps he was still unable to let go of the death of his own Servant. Or perhaps, he simply had yet to fully accept the things he just heard.

But that’s obvious, Caules thought. The things that Ruler had mentioned were simply too ridiculous, too bizarre – and too horrifying.

“So there’s… one more Ruler, Amakusa Shirou Tokisada?”

Finally, Fiore managed to force a response out of herself. She was a soft talker to begin with – and even quieter than usual just now – but within the silence of the room, her words clearly reached their ears.

“And this… other Ruler, you said he even had three Command Spells for each of the Servants on their side?”

Caules asked. Jeanne nodded grimly.

“Yes, it is true. Those brilliant marks on his arms were certainly Command Spells. Rider, Lancer, and Archer… the three of them may not be willing, but they have no choice but to obey him.”

With the Command Spells, he possessed even the authority of the Masters. Without the prana he provided them with, they would not be able to take form in the world. Those Servants with the Independent Action skill might find it less difficult, but there was a limit even to that.

“But besides those three, he himself is a Servant, right? And if what you said earlier was true, then he already had one on his side to start with! How is that even possible?”

Caules stood up and shouted. The Master and the Servant were a paired existence, one each existing for the other; to break this relation and contract with five Servants at once was ridiculous. Even if you were to try, all of your prana would be drained long before you reached that number, and you would wither into nothingness.

“I believe he said that he was receiving energy from the Greater Grail. As long as he remains connected to it, the prana it has built up alone would be able to sustain all of them.”

“In other words, a division of the prana pathways similar to our homunculi.”

Jeanne nodded at Gordes. However, in their case the Greater Grail did not control everything. There was little doubt that Shirou had the base authority as Master to decide who would be supplied with prana.

“Amakusa Shirou… he was a saint of the Far East, yes? Can you tell me more about him, Archer? I’m afraid that I really don’t know that much.”

Chiron answered.

“Yes, Master… Amakusa Shirou Tokisada was a boy who had lived about five centuries ago. He was the leader of a large-scale uprising in a place called Shimabara in Japan.”


“Yes. He was but seventeen years of age when his life ended.”

Caules was taken aback that there was a Heroic Spirit of the same age as him.

Chiron continued to tell the simple story of the boy saint. Amakusa Shirou had no stunning victories to his name. Although he had led a great rebellion, it was just preceded by an era when the country itself had been a engulfed by warfare between myriad lords and states all pulling at one another. It was shortly after this period ended with the final unification of the nation of Japan that Amakusa Shirou was born.

Massive increases in taxation; a poor harvest due to unstable climate; the crackdown on followers of an alien region not accepted by the country – all of these things came together and caught fire at the worst time, setting alight the powder keg that was Shimabara and beginning the greatest peasant revolt in Japanese history. The rebels numbered 37,000 with supposedly around 20,000 of those being non-combatants.

They were led by their ‘savior’ Amakusa Shirou Tokisada. The seemingly normal boy had, by sixteen, accomplished various miracles – healing the eyes of a blind girl, walking on the surface of the sea – and began spreading his faith. When the smaller uprisings taking place all over converged into one single movement, it was only natural that Amakusa Shirou was brought up as a candidate for leadership. That was how much that his followers believed in him and his God.

However, their successes quickly came to a stop. Despite some initial victories during their stand at Hara Castle against the impetuous Shogunate forces, besiegement deprived them of provisions and led to their downfall. With the exception of one collaborator, all thirty-seven thousand of them were killed there. The boy had died as neither hero nor saint, regretting that for all of his miraculous powers he could not save any of them.

“From what you have said… he does not seem so terrifying a Heroic Spirit.”

“That is true. In power alone, he is greatly inferior to heroes such as ourselves… however, that is all the more reason why I fear him.”

Chiron thought back to when Shirou had appeared before them in the chapel and declared his true name without hesitation. It stuck out to him that even as Shirou made an enemy out of nearly every Servant present, he did not break his smile, much less lose composure. At the time, his only collaborator had been his own Servant, Semiramis. Aside from her, he was simultaneously pressured by six heroes – no easy storm to weather. He agreed with Jeanne’s words.

“Yes… I find that Ruler fearsome as well. It is not his strength or skill that frightens me, but simply the form of his faith.”

It was not merely his adamantine will, but the immensity of his faith that could bring to heel any human being or Heroic Spirit – a monstrous black hole in human form. Yet his was not insanity, for the insane could not hold such a powerful conviction.

What did Amakusa Shirou see, and feel, and swear to do that day – on that battlefield where the thirty-seven thousand lives that worshiped him as their Messiah were massacred?

Jeanne and Astolfo had lived their lives through periods of strife. Chiron came from an era of myth when heroes roamed the world. However, they could give no answers to these questions.

“Let us put this aside for now… the problem is what he plans to do.”

Chiron nodded at Jeanne.

“He will make some attempt with the Greater Grail… but it is not for revenge. That much is certain. His goal is not the changing of his history or resurrection of the dead.”

“How do you know this?”

Jeanne answered Fiore.

“It is as he himself said… his goal is the salvation of all mankind.”

“Absurd is what it is…”

Gordes snorted in laughter. Mordred sighed.

“Are you dull, fat one? What is the purpose of the Holy Grail if not to easily grant such an absurd wish?”


Placating the fuming Gordes, Fiore argued.

“I do believe Uncle is correct… ultimately, the Holy Grail is just a massive pool of energy. It certainly will be enough to grant most wishes. It is possible for it to bypass all theories and processes, and bring about only results. In the opposite manner, however, any wish it is capable of granting requires a process to omit.”

Coming to a realization, Sieg asked Jeanne.

“But then… isn’t it meaningless to wish for the salvation of humanity?”

“In such a case, yes. For example, if you simply asked the Holy Grail to ‘save mankind’, it would cease to function as long as the wisher did not possess some concrete idea of what procedures that would entail. A wish is a wish, it requires a set course to reach its conclusion.”

“And what if this Shirou does have a concrete idea? Regardless of whether it would truly lead to salvation?”

Jeanne swallowed her breath as Sieg hit the weak point in the logic.

“If so… then I believe the Holy Grail will carry it out.”

“But how could such a method exist?”

Caules shook his head at Fiore’s words.

“I don’t think that’s the problem here. The issue is, what if this Shirou believed strongly enough that his method was enough to save humanity?”


Fiore tilted her head in confusion.

“Do you see, Master? The Holy Grail is not able to fulfill desires for which the wisher himself knew of no way of being carried out. In reverse, the Grail can act when the wisher does possess such a concept. The worry is that the ‘method’ chosen by him will be one that brings disaster upon mankind.”

Without some solid form of implementation, there would be no further concerns. However, provided Shirou Kotomine was in possession of such a thing – even if the majority of humanity would believe it to be mistaken – the Holy Grail would most likely activate.

“So that’s it, then? Let’s say there’s a man who wishes that he’s the best Magus in the entire world. In his mind, that meant every Magi better than him ought to be dead. Are you saying that the Holy Grail would go ahead and do it for him?”

Shishigou’s words silenced the room. Slightly jarred, Mordred asked.

“Do not tell me that is your wish, Master…?”

“It’s not… seriously, don’t give me that look. What about it, Ruler?”

“Your logic is sound, provided that the man in your example truly knew of no other method.”

Sieg recalled something.

“Then you being summoned as Ruler…”

“…would imply that Shirou’s seizure of the Greater Grail, and his wish of salvation, represents a threat to the world, yes. Whatever the case, the act of Servant Ruler employing other Servants in order to place a wish upon the Holy Grail is in itself the grossest of misconducts beyond any debate. That is why the Masters and Servants gathered here are going to stop him. I hope that there are no objections.”

The Magi of Yggdmillennia nodded, although in truth only Fiore remained as a Master. Both Caules and Gordes had already lost their Servants and could do little to help. As for Shishigou…

“…I do agree that Shirou Kotomine, or Amakusa Shirou, needs to be stopped. Well, it’s not like we really have a choice. You’re not going to disagree with me, are you, Saber?”

Mordred nodded in agreement, somewhat sulkily.

“No… I do want to settle things with that Saber over there, but at this point we really have little say in the matter. And to be fair, the other camp is rather irksome… especially that Assassin.”

“So you mean that…?”

Shishigou signaled their agreement to Fiore.

“At the very least, we don’t mind working together until we take them down. We can use Self-Geis Scrolls, if you prefer… both of us, of course.”

The Self-Geis Scroll was a binding documentation and the most powerful spell-based contract in Magi society. It bound the very souls of the participants and, depending on its contents, could continue to affect both parties in life or in death, or even their offsprings, and the offsprings of their offsprings. Fiore considered Shishigou’s suggestion for a while and then shook her head.

“There is no need to go so far. I will trust you on this.”

Astolfo tugged on Sieg’s sleeve. When he turned around, the Servant said quietly to him.

“Hey… are you really going to fight?”

“Yes, I am.”

Sieg stated clearly and firmly. In truth, he did not care much for whatever plot that Shirou worked towards, although it had already taken many lives. The dead included homunculi, and Servants, and Masters – some of whom had accepted their fate, others which withered away in bitterness. However, he did not fight for their revenge; he had no right to such a thing and Shirou would not be the target to begin with. Yet Sieg had gained some rights – his authority as a Master, and his ability to participate as a Servant. As such, he considered it his duty to see through this Great War to its end, even if it costed him his life.

“I still think it’s better if you don’t, though…”

Astolfo murmured, seeming strangely dissatisfied. With some irritation in her low voice, Mordred replied.

“What would he do if not fight? He is a Saber.”

“He is not Saber. My Master is not Siegfried. I don’t want to see him in danger like that… he’s had enough.”

The entire room once again fell silent. However, it was somewhat different from earlier on. After a while, Mordred somewhat sheepishly pointed out the obvious.

“Did you just tell me his true name?”

“Huh? Didn’t you already know?”

“No! By God, you are stupid! Why did you even say it?”

“I… cannot defend you this time.”

Chiron sighed. ‘Perhaps I was right after all,’ Gordes muttered. Caules put a hand to his head, and Fiore’s eyes became dead.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Rider…”

The accusing gazes of the others made even Astolfo shrink back. Putting his hands together, he turned to his Master with a sad face.

“Um… s-sorry…”

“Huh? Oh, well, I don’t really mind. Besides, Saber, didn’t you hear the name of my Noble Phantasm?”

Mordred put a hand over her mouth in surprise. It seemed she had forgotten.

“Eh? Um… we were in the middle of battle, so I did not pay attention. Now that I recall, it was the holy sword Balmung. Curse it, now I feel like the fool.”

“Don’t worry, Saber. I was paying attention.”

“Oh, shut it, Master.”

Mordred glared at the self-satisfied Shishigou.

“And Rider… sorry, but I do plan to fight. I will fight by your side, as your Master. That’s my way of returning the favor, to you and to Ruler.”

Jeanne took on a difficult expression as Astolfo puffed up in indignation.


Sieg simply looked at his left hand and the black, strangely-shaped Command Spells on its back. He could see patches of his skin beginning to blacken. After checking earlier, he found the same shade spreading on his chest and back. The question now was, what would happen if he were to use one more Command Spell.

He recalled the terrible sensation he had felt the instant before he wrapped himself in his ‘shell’ via Command Spell. There was no mistake that it was something critical to his current state. After all, his existence was just all too miraculous, even for the Command Spells which sustained him.

Once Sieg used up all of his Command Spells, he would most likely die. However, he could understand that he would use them in future regardless. He would use up even the last one if it meant helping the others in some way. Sieg realized the irony that the homunculus who had escaped to find life would now consider and accept his own death.

“Sieg… you’re not thinking of something strange again, are you?”

Jeanne’s words suddenly reaching him, Sieg hastily shook his head. ‘I do hope so,’ she said as her eyes narrowed. His own Servant Rider aside, he found it strange how Ruler had also tried to distance him from the fighting. However, it was his decision to remain – not due to the irresistible force of fate, but by of his own will.

With the acknowledgement of the others, Fiore moved on to the next concern.

“Now the matter is what will happen from here on… where they are heading, to start with. Would you happen to know, Ruler?”

Jeanne shook her head.

“No, unfortunately. In the first place, I did not conceive that the Hanging Gardens would be able to seize the Greater Grail by force. And while I do know what it is they plan to do, I do not know where it is they will attempt it. However, we can still pursue them. Due to the circumstances of my summoning, I am strongly connected to the Grail and can sense its approximate location. We will not lose track of it.”

Besides, the Hanging Gardens was a powerful energy source, as were the Servants of Red currently garrisoned there. There were plenty of ways to track them down.

“They are moving by air, and such a massive structure must be quite slow. In terms of distance, it would be a simple task to overtake them, but…”

Jeanne did not speak further. As she said, catching up to them was easy enough; however, the bigger issue was what could be done once that occurred. After all, the Hanging Gardens was suspended in the air, unreachable from the ground. It should be possible to ‘leap’ onto it by expending Command Spells, but that would be too much of a waste.

“My Hippogriff can make it.”

“Can your Hippogriff carry all of us?”

“Oh, I suppose not. I can’t exactly make it pull a carriage, so there’s only one more seat behind me. And I’m not riding with anyone but my Master!”

“Do not look so proud of yourself when you say that… useless Rider.”

Astolfo laughed with some embarrassment as Mordred shot a chilled gaze at him.

“Anyway, it can’t be easy moving long distances with an active Noble Phantasm. And there isn’t any thaumaturgy suitable to moving so many people at once… or to be exact, the cost will be too high. It will put too much strain on the Magus performing it. Why don’t we just charter a plane?”

“Hmm, well, I guess little bro does have a point, but…”

“Don’t call me that, old man… what’s the issue?”

Shishigou frowned at the jab at his age, while Mordred held back her laughter and remained silence. Only pain laid down that particular path of discussion.

“They have an Archer on their side, too.”

“Oh… right. That’s right…”

Caules scratched his head. Of course, the Huntress would engage any Servants approaching by air as soon as she detected them.

“Damn it. I guess the real problems start only if we even manage to get that close.”

With her acting as a gun turret on the Hanging Gardens, any method of approach would be risky. On top of that, the chariot carried by three horses possessed by Achilles could also freely take to the air.

“We can’t expect planes to withstand an attack by Servants.”

“But there is no other choice. Things would be different provided we had some extraordinary thaumaturgical tools on hand, but anything like that capable of flight would have astronomical costs.”

Besides, it would be most difficult warding off Atalanta’s attacks even with thaumaturgy. Neither the esoteric nor the scientific stood much chance before the brutal might of a Servant.

“In that case, I guess planes are at least cheaper to come by.”

“We will think of another way to deal with the Archer of Red… first, we need the transport.”

With that, Fiore decided on their next course of action for the time being. Whether they assaulted by plane or some other contraption – they needed some way to fly and chase down the Hanging Gardens.

“We will take a break for now, and contact the other members of our clan. If any of you would like to sleep, feel free to use one of the vacant rooms. Rest well.”

Fiore, Chiron, and Caules left the meeting room. Faint orange light was beginning to seep into the ruined castle.

“It’s already dawn…”

Their longest day was nearing its end – but there was no time for Fiore to relax. She must report the current situation to their brothers and sisters around the world, and hasten to decide the next head of the clan. It was something that could have been decided by Darnic’s word alone, but he had yet to decide on a successor prior to his death, one mere step from the Greater Grail before perishing alongside his Servant.

The history of the Yggdmillennias was the history of Darnic Prestone. For good or ill, he had possessed both the ability and the charisma to lead the entire clan. In truth, it might have simply been a matter of greed. Perhaps it all came from his longing to reach the Root, or for glory, or fame, or the restoration of the sullied name of Yggdmillennia. Would she be capable of that? No, there was no use thinking about it. There were things she ought to do before then. But where would she begin?

“So, what are we going to do?”

“We have the funds necessary, so purchasing some planes should not be a problem…”

“Not that. I meant that ballista they have on top of their castle.”

“Oh, her? Well… do you have any ideas, Archer?”

“It is possible for me to deal with Archer or Rider individually. It would not be very difficult, and it is likely expected by our enemies as well.”

With this preamble, Chiron revealed his plan. It was simple to a fault just as he said, but certainly effective. At the same time, it also meant that only one of the two objectives would be tied down. Only after figuring out a way to deal with the other could they reach the Hanging Gardens.

After that would be the true test, in terms of whether their current group could stand up to the Red camp – and she was not optimistic. Certainly, they had a rare champion on their side in Mordred. However, the force arrayed against them consisted entirely of famed heroes – masters of war, great Magi and poisoners, heretics, and mysteries besides. And there was one more issue greatly troubling her.

“Master, I believe you should rest for the time being. Could you not speak with your clansmen tomorrow?”


“It’s like Archer says. Besides, talking with the rest of them is pointless. They can’t help us for sure, and whatever they say will just make us feel worse.”

“I suppose…”

Fiore nodded vaguely as the other two agreed. After all, Chiron had never been wrong.

“I shall take my leave then. Good morn… no, good night.”

Lowering her head lightly, Fiore retreated into her own room. Watching the door close, Caules turned to Chiron.

“Aren’t you going with her, Archer?”

“I respect the privacy of my Master as a lady. Mostly, I remain here in Spirit Form unless she calls for me.”

That’s Chiron for you, Caules applauded internally. As could be expected of the nearly unique exception among the savage Centaurs.

“By the way, there is one thing I wish to ask of you, if you do not mind.”

“Me? Sure, go ahead.”

Frankly, Caules did not believe that he could give a proper answer. What if the Servant came at him with some philosophical conundrum? As he worried in all the wrong ways, Chiron asked quietly.

“From your eyes… do you believe your sister is suitable as the head of the Yggdmillennia?”

Despite the softness of Chiron’s voice, his words hit Caules with explosive force.


Caules’s mind spun into chaos at the impossibility of what Chiron just said. Of all people, did the sage just voice doubts of his Master’s competence?

“H-Hold on, Archer. Just now, what did you…?”

Flustered, Caules looked at the shut door to Fiore’s room. Chiron spoke again, as though to calm him.

“There is no need to worry… my Master is fast asleep. If you do not feel at ease, shall we perhaps move elsewhere?”

“You know, I’m pretty tired too…”

He had also had a rough day – letting his own Servant perish, and getting caught in Spartacus’ fierce strike. However, Chiron smiled.

“My eyes do tell me that you are full of vigor yet. Might I trouble you with a brief talk?”

Despite his tone, it was clearly not a request in this case. Caules scratched his head and sighed. In truth, Chiron was correct; he still had some strength left.

“All right, fine… come on, Archer. Let’s go up to the watch-tower. We can talk about whatever we want there. It’s almost light, anyway. Geez… why do we have to do this now…”

Despite grumbling all the way, Caules did not show any sign of fatigue as he and Chiron strode down the hall together.

The tottering piles of books stood like a mountain of information material. He had hardly taken a step out of his study, his pen racing across paper as he worked. That was one thing that authors like himself would agree on; the convenience of becoming a Heroic Spirit was that you no longer needed to deal with food or drink or bowel movements. It was quite fortunate to be summoned like this once in a while – even though it was also quite rare for an author to be involved in such an interesting situation.

He stood up, taking a short break from his writing. His Master, Shirou, should be soon finished speaking with the others. Of course, there was the possibility that the other Servants would rebel against him, but that was not likely to occur. As expected, when he went out to the garden, he saw the three of them doing nothing in particular and simply watched the scenery pass by.

“Greetings to all!”

Shakespeare called out to them cheerily, causing Achilles and Atalanta to frown, while Karna merely nodded without any change in expression.

“Did you know about this…?”

Achilles said, disgruntled. Shakespeare threw his arms wide open and declared loudly.

“Oh, we are such stuff as dreams made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep… so yes, I knew.”

“Is he sane?”

“I wonder. Sanity and madness, are they not but passing frivolities? You beheld the answer reached by Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, at the ends of agony and despair. Why, I can only do all in my power to see his desire granted.”

“Aware as I am of your unsound mind, Caster, I dare to ask regardless… why did you choose to ally yourself with Shirou?”

Shakespeare shouted, practically foaming at the mouth as he answered Atalanta’s question.

“But is he not just so very interesting?! His is not the mean aspiration of reaching to one or few, but the salvation of any and all… the six billion souls upon this earth! And yet he is no saint, unlike those humdrum dullards with their deeds and good-doings and prayers. He warred, he fell, and everything was taken from him! Oh, how he must despise them… those men who stood for order as they unleashed carnage upon his folk, and them who had only watched from the wayside and lent no aid! Ah, and yet he does not… for they too shall receive his ultimate deliverance! Yes, he understands full well, that is the meaning of his goal. What suffocating pain, what mental anguish, what tragedy! Aye, our Master is terribly interesting… so you see, it stood to reason that I would rid myself of my stale former Master. For William Shakespeare serves no lord, only the story!”

Atalanta and Achilles had no words to respond. The man’s mania for the story itself far surpassed any of them. Shakespeare was indisputably speaking the truth in his mind. In other words, he had abandoned his older Master simply due to boredom, and served now only out of interest. The two might find the act unforgivable – but on the point of betraying Masters, Achilles and Atalanta were hardly different.

To begin with, Shakespeare was a highly renegade type of Heroic Spirit – he was an author. This aberration had gathered faith and belief for himself by weaving tales on his desk, utterly unlike those heroes who made their names echo in history with their courage, might, and cunning. He was weak, and practically powerless as a Caster; a Master with any sense for combat would likely best him in battle. In spite of that, he desired to enforce his will. His actions were neither lofty nor commendable; if anything, they were the byproducts a fevered obsession. However, it had carried him this far, and they respected it even if they could not praise it.

“At any rate, the Servants of Red are again bound as one. Berserker has fallen, but none can ask for a more fulfilling performance. Our issue now is with Saber…”

Mordred, the traitorous Knight of the Round Table – Shirou’s skill as a Servant finally revealed her identity when she had suddenly intruded upon them and saved Ruler.

“I presume she will take the side of the Black camp. And we may ignore the Assassin of Black who had yet to appear… that leaves a Ruler, an Archer, a Rider, and a Saber. It is a match of five against five.”

“Did you miss me in your count, Archer?”

“Yes. Would you prefer to be added?”

“Oh, no. It is most comforting, in fact. I am simply too meager as a Servant, after all!”

Shakespeare declared with pride. ‘That is not something to be proud of,’ Atalanta sighed. However, it was then that the silent Karna decided to speak.

“We each measure glory in our own ways. For this Caster, to bear no arms and wield no powers is his pride… in their stead employing a tongue of silver, brandishing a pen of lightning.”

“Your appraisal does me the highest of honors, great Karna.”

Shakespeare bowed deeply in reverence in gentlemanly response – the effect somewhat ruined by the gleeful grin he wore on his face as he did so.

Climbing a ladder, they reached the watch-tower of the castle. They were surrounded by stone walls, with slits here and there to shoot arrows through. In a regular siege, a bowman would be able to fire upon the enemy soldiers gathered at the gate. Unfortunately, their current opponents were Servants – although in all honesty, Caules had not expected the Berserker of Red to be such a terrible foe.

He faced Chiron with some hostility in his eyes – and great doubt in his mind. The Servants and Masters currently residing in this castle all respected the great sage. Yet he had dissented in regards to the abilities of Darnic’s successor, Fiore. Of course she was fitting, Caules thought. Who could be a better choice as the next leader? Holding back the impulse to protest, he asked coolly.

“So what were you saying about her, Archer?”

“It would seem that my words have been misunderstood… I fully accept Fiore as my Master. If she were to order me to take my own life, I would do so gladly.”

Chiron said with a wry smile. It seemed despite his best attempts, Caules could not completely hide the negative reception to what Chiron had said.

“What were you trying to say, then? I can’t think of anyone other than my sister who has the power to follow in Darnic’s footsteps.”

It might come as a surprise that the next in line following Fiore would be Gordes. Celenike and Roche had also been mentioned as candidates, but their crafts were simply too lacking in fame – not that it mattered any longer considered both were gone. And Caules himself was, of course, out of question. Even discounting the fact that Fiore was the older sibling, she also possessed both superior ability and character. The Yggdmillennias might have lost Darnic, but it would not wither away just yet.

“Indeed, she is perfect on the physical front. I ask, however, of her mental side.”

“Are you saying that she dislikes being a magus? I don’t think so… I mean, I’ve never asked her directly, but she doesn’t hate thaumaturgy, at least.”

“No, not on that matter. I am asking… do you believe my Master is prepared to take another life?”

At that moment, Caules’ words caught in his throat. Chiron’s face was darkened slightly by sadness.

“What do you mean…? Of course she is. She’s already fought with Shishigou Kairi once!”

“Yes, she did. And while I did not witness the entire ordeal, I believe she did well against a seasoned Magus. However… could she have maintained her composure had she won?”


Caules could not think of an answer. What if Fiore had won? Would she have been able to endure killing someone, even if they were an enemy?

“Her heart as a Magus, and her own heart; I believe that my Master has kept them apart all this time. When the time comes, Caules, I believe you will be able to judge accordingly, and understand that it is the fate of Magi to fight, and to kill. However…”

“…you think that she wouldn’t be able to?”

In fact, Caules had begun to sense it somewhat as well. It was not so much that Fiore was soft or kind. She was persistent in pursuing the path of the Magus, to the point that she was able to ignore the cries coming from deep within her own heart. After all, to recognize the pain would be able to admit that she was not fitting. She suppressed it so as to act as a Magus ought to. In the end, however, such an approach was only the logic of a Magus – the option chosen by the program installed in her brain.

“Truly, it is due to her superiority as a Magus that none has yet to realize it… that my Master holds incredibly human views.”

Yes – she was humane, and unable to accept bloodshed or forgive deception.

Of course, Magi only fell back to killing as a last resort. On the other hand, that demonstrated that murder was an obvious solution to consider once they were pushed. Even the lowliest of Magi understood that reaching such a situation meant that ordinary laws and logics no longer applied. Even Caules possessed this mental preparation; at the very least, by the time he joined this war, he had already accepted all illegal acts, be they murder or otherwise.

Naturally, he did not want to be killed. It might be seen as selfishness, but he wanted to avoid dying if at all possible. After all, no one had to right to fault him for following his base mentality as a living creature.

“This is merely my own view, but am I correct in presuming that my Master had learned a wide vocabulary at a young age?”

“Well, I did hear from my parents that she started reading earlier than most.”

“As I suspected. She lives in this world as one will reading of it from stories. Such a view of life would be enough even for an exemplar Magus. However, if she were to take up the mantle… I fear the distortions within her heart would begin to surface.”

As head of the Yggdmillennia clan, occasions would arrive where she had to take stances and make decisions stripped of emotions. For example, the time might come when they had to forsake someone within the clan. At first, it would appear to be of little concern; Fiore was not one who believed in her own absolute truth, and would listen to and consider the opinions of the other elders. She would be able to judge on situations based on solid considerations.

Eventually however, the friction would begin. What if a Magus utilized an innocent human baby as material to develop a thaumaturgical theory that received widespread acclaim, with his only ‘crime’ being his failure to kill a commoner who had witnessed the act? The contradictions of being both Magus and human would only bring her pain.

When Caules tried to argue back, a memory came to him unbidden. It was a loathsome episode that he had always tried very hard not to recall, perhaps due to the suffering it had brought his sister.

“What is the matter?”

After some hesitation, Caules decided to reveal the truth to Chiron. He was their guide and shepherd; telling him would only help Fiore.

“We used to own a dog, way back.”

It took place far, far into the past. Their great manor, which would have been cared after by maids three generations ago, was now being cleaned by low-level spirits summoned by their mother. However, this could not protect the house itself from decay. It had begun to collapse in places, a shell of its former glory. That was where Caules and Fiore were born and raised – and where the incident occurred, a fleeting moment of their childhood.

“It was a docile stray that my dad had picked up somewhere. He was planning to have us learn more about evocation with it. But then he had to go on some urgent business, and we were left to take care of it.”

Chiron did not say a word and simply nodded, apparently already aware of how the story would end.

“It was a dumb dog, always playing around. I didn’t expect how dedicated my sister would get, though. Even with those legs of hers, she would still wash it and comb its fur using her favorite brush. Her own brush, you know? She even bought a book and tried feeding it all the different kinds of food. I asked her one day, ‘why do you bother?’ And she just gave me a weird look.”

‘Pets are supposed to be loved, no?’

Taking a breath, Caules continued.

“Even I knew what was going to happen… but she didn’t. Well, not that I said anything about it either. Heh, I just let it go by, a problem for another day. That only made it worse. Could I be any stupider?”

“It was killed, then. And for some sort of thaumaturgical experiment…”

Caules nodded and lightly kicked the stone wall in irritation.

“Our dad came back after about a week, all smiles and apologies. Then he dragged the dog in front of us and demonstrated what a failed evocation looked like. Her face just froze completely when she saw that dog with all its skin peeling off, screaming. She was gripping on her wheelchair so tightly, her hands were white.”

If she covered her ears, she would be reprimanded. Even if she cried, she would be reprimanded. Knowing this, she simply watched on.

“It took about a minute for it to die. Our dad had summoned a low-level revenant and let it rampage through its body. ‘This is what happens when you’re not careful,’ he said. And then my sister just smiled and answered, ‘we understand.’ She’s great, you know. She knew the best answer for the situation and managed it perfectly. That just pisses me off more.”

Caules spat out.

“And what happened afterwards?”

“She’s a model Magus, after all. She didn’t cry or throw up or any of that in front of our dad. But when we went to dug a grave and finally buried it, she cried her eyes out, saying ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again.”

After that, Fiore never mentioned it again, and got rid of everything related to it. Perhaps it was a blessing that that the first and last thing their father had killed in front of them. However, neither of their parents had noticed the change in her. Most likely, they were too blinded by her aptitude as a Magus. They had not realized that for a while after, she would vomit at the sight of meat, or that she could only sleep at night when Caules was there to hold her hands tightly. In the end, they only praised the fact that she had learned her lesson well.

Fiore never failed at evocation, because she feared failure from the bottom of her heart. However, what frightened her was not meeting the same fate as the dog, but what she had witnessed occurring again should she fail.

Like most traumas experienced by most people in their lives, this episode did not greatly affect Fiore’s life. She was not driven by madness or distress into harming herself. She simply continued to live and learn as a normal Magus. She found that she could eat meat again, and sleep by herself. Caules had also forgotten the incident, himself preferring not to recall it if possible.

However, if – just if – what had occurred that day still weighed down on Fiore’s mind… if what they had seen was still in her heart…

“…I’m not so sure that she can take it.”

“That is my fear as well, once I have left this world. Of course, it is not something I can speak of to simply anybody… but once we begin the pursuit of the Hanging Gardens, I will not have the time to express this.”

As Chiron said, it would be after the war when they had to deal with the matter of whether Fiore should become the head of the Yggdmillennias. In truth, it was not something that would concern the Servant, who would be returning to the Throne once the fighting had settled.

“Why did you bring this up to me?”

“Why would I not? For we who teach, it is our task to provide a guiding hand to those who are lost. I do not intend to neglect that duty even as a Heroic Spirit.”

“I see…”

As one would expect from the man – Centaur, rather – who had been a mentor for so many heroes. Speaking of which – it was told that among the savage Centaurs, Chiron was the exception, being both prudent and reasonable.

“You reckon that’s why you were summoned?”

Perhaps it had been judged fitting that the warm girl who lived her life as a human being amongst the Magi should be matched with the Centaur who once guided men in a world of violence.

“Caules… once I am gone, you are the only one whom my Master can depend upon.”

“I know that… I’ll talk with her about this. It’s fine even if she wants to quit being a Magus. But if she still wants to go ahead and lead the Yggmillennias… I can help out a bit too.”

Hearing his words, Chiron placed a hand upon his own chest in relief.

“Thank you, Caules…. I regret not having the leisure to guide you, as well.”

Caules shrugged. Archer was not his Servant to begin with; it would not be right for him to expect so much.

“I figured it out a long time ago… that a younger brother’s place is right behind his sister.”

“Is that how it is?”

Caules could not help chuckling at Chiron’s apparent surprise.

“That’s how it is.”

The Archer nodded several more times, seemingly impressed. Caules had not heard of Chiron having any sisters, so perhaps that was something new to him.

“I see… that is a wonderful thing to know. Truly, this world is full of wonders. There is much left for me to learn yet. Now, if you would excuse me… if you have need of me, I will be back where we came.”

“All right. Thanks.”

Caules waved his hand. As for him, he felt like staying here for a while longer.

“One last thing. I believe that you were a good Master for Berserker… and I suspect that she did as well.”

Flustered, Caules spun around – but Archer had already faded away into Spirit Form.

“Tch… always has to impart some wisdom, doesn’t he?”

Chiron’s words did not provide him any refuge. No matter what the Servant said, the fact that Caules had let her die a meaningless death weighed heavily on him. Besides, it was only Chiron’s speculation; not even a great sage such as him could not have known how she had truly felt.

And yet – Chiron felt that he could not leave him without saying it.

“Well, it’s fine.”

Despite the baselessness of the Servant’s words, Caules found that his heart was somewhat comforted by them. The display of strength he had put on since her death began to crumble.

“Damn… I’m tired…”

As he leaned against the stone wall, he found his strength slipping from him as he slid down to the ground – and finally, he began to feel sleep overcoming him. As his consciousness drifted, he remembered that he was in the watch-tower. However, his exhausted mind refused to move his body further.

Fiore and the others left the chamber once the discussion ended. However, Shishigou Kairi and Mordred would be returning to their den instead of staying in the castle.

“Well, we’ll be seeing you all later… but first things first, Ruler. You’ll keep your promise, right?”

“You remembered…”

Jeanne sighed at the satisfied grins on both the Saber of Red and her Master. It occurred to her then that perhaps pets really did resemble their owners.

“Very well. I hereby transfer one Command Spell to the Master Shishigou Kairi. Do you agree?”

“Damn right, I do. Give me your best shot.”

Shishigou thrust out his left hand and Jeanne grasped it lightly, murmuring a few lines of scriptures. One of the Command Spells on her arm was transferred over to him.

“Was that it? How utterly boring.”

Mordred, who had been peering into the exchange in great interest, seemed disappointed.

“What sort of spectacle were you expecting, exactly?”

“I expect we will be receiving that last one from you soon enough. We’ll be off!”

Mordred said before leaving together with her Master. With the departure of the tempestuous Saber, the chamber was left seeming strangely forlorn, deprived of the unusual air she radiated. Only Jeanne, Sieg, and Astolfo remained.

“Sigh… oh, yes. Can I have a moment with you, Sieg?”

After he nodded, Jeanne approached him and deftly caught his left arm to confirm the Command Spells on it. Her face clouded somewhat at what she saw – that the Command Spells had yet to disappear.

“Besides the first time, you also transformed once more to defeat the giant. Is that correct?”


“The Command Spells are crystallizations of prana originally devised by the Makiris…. by their nature, they ought to fade away once the energy is lost.”

“But these ones haven’t. Not completely.”

“Yes… it worries me. However, the fact that only one Command Spell remains is a greater concern. I shall transfer two of mine to you as well.”

“Are those the ones for Siegfried?”

“Correct. As I mentioned before, I possess two Command Spells for each Servant. As both the Saber of Black and a Master, you should have no problem receiving them.”

Jeanne began the process once more and true to her words, there were again three Command Spells on his left hand, their former brilliance returned. However, it did not remove the blackness on his skin – and more likely than not, that was the same case for the spots on his chest and back, something which he still had not revealed to the two of them.

“Should you be doing this, Ruler?”

“In truth, I do not know. By this point, the world has played host to over one hundred subsidiary Holy Grail Wars… but amongst them all, there has never been a Servant or Master such as yourself. I have no memories of ever seeing black Command Spells such as these appear, but…”

Jeanne trailed off and avoided voicing her thoughts, although it was something that Sieg himself had begun to faintly realize. These black Command Spells could not possibly be a good omen; there was something twisted and distorted about them. At the same time, however, these were what let Sieg wrap around himself the shell of Siegfried, allowing him to fight.

“Thank you. I’ll be sure to put these remaining three to good use.”

“These remaining two… you must not use the last one, Sieg. Do you understand?”

Jeanne wore an unexpectedly grim expression as she said this.


“Because it feels like a terrible idea! It is not possible for Command Spells to remain behind like stigmata. Do you understand just how miraculous your state is? And I believe that miracle comes at a cost. These Command Spells are taking something from you, Sieg… something important.”

“I don’t have much for them to take away… nothing worth a miracle like this.”

“In any case…! Sigh… Rider, could you please keep a close eye on him, as well?”

When he heard this, Astolfo – who had been trying for some time now to enter the conversation – nodded eagerly, his eyes alight. Throwing up a V-sign with his right hand, he said loudly.

“Got it! Leave him to me! I’ll keep both eyes on him! I’ll keep him… um, what’s the term… locked down?”

“Just watch out for him, please! That should be the first thing on your mind.”

“Maybe my last Master did affect me a little bit…”

“You too, Sieg… you are a Master. You need to keep a tight leash on Rider.”

“I know…”

…but he doubted whether holding such a thing would help him control the Servant at all. He would have brought this up as such as well, had it not been apparent that doing so would earn him the ire of both Servants standing before him. He elected to keep silent.

“Now… what will you do? I intend to return to the city for a moment. After all, I have yet to repay my debts after troubling the church here…”

As she spoke, Jeanne dispelled the armor from herself, and her grit disappeared along with it in an instant. An air of pureness and incorruptibility remained around her, but she seemed strangely embarrassed and averted her gaze.

“I… well, I suppose I should stay here, after all. I’ll borrow one of the rooms.”

To be frank, the castle was not a place of pleasant memories for him, but he could not deny it as his birthplace. It also provided ample protection even in its ruined state and they were not likely to be attacked. Besides, where could he go even if he were to leave?

“I see. If you need anything, please call for me. You must let me know if anything strange happens to your body. Have you had anything to eat yet? If not, you should settle that first. You are very much a living being now, after all. You must not starve yourself, understand? I am speaking from experience. Also…”

“Just hold it!”

Just as Sieg began to feel overwhelmed by Jeanne’s avalanche of advice, Astolfo pushed her away with both hands.

“Wait, Rider, I still have things to say…”

“Leave it for tomorrow, okay? Shoo, shoo! We’re tired enough as it is!”

Astolfo continued shoving her back with his Monstrous Strength.

“Y-You don’t have to be so rough… please, Sieg, be sure to get a good night’s rest! I will check with you again once you are awake! Good…”

‘…night!’ she was prevented from finishing by the door shutting in her face.

“Geez… who does she think she is, your mother?”

“Don’t ask me… but is she going to be all right?”

Sieg felt some slight concern as he thought back to the last time he saw Jeanne leave. She wouldn’t collapse again from an empty stomach again, would she?

“What do you mean?”

“Never mind…”

Now that he thought about it again, it felt too critical a piece of information to let slip about Jeanne. He suppressed his anxiety, reminding himself that she should (hopefully) be able to make it all the way to her lodgings before collapsing.

“Anyway, Rider, I should sleep soon.”

“Okay! Let’s go get a room, then. How about mine?”

“I… was thinking another room. By myself.”

Seeing as there was no danger here, they did not need to remain together in the same space. Rather than remain mindful of one another, they could both let themselves relax separately. Not to mention that it was Astolfo – but the Rider stubbornly insisted on staying in the same room.

“Well, all right. Thank you.”

“Ha ha, it’s no problem! Come on, go-go-go!”

Just like Jeanne, he was being pushed onward by Astolfo before he could open his mouth. Once they reached Celenike’s private room, Astolfo released the physical form of his armor, put his hands around Sieg, and pushed them both onto the bed. Sieg could feel the springs as the bed softly swallowed their weight – and instantly, his entire body was overtaken by exhaustion. All the while, Astolfo was lying next to him and chuckling.

“Ah… we’re alive…”

The Servant placed a hand on his own chest, and then on Sieg’s chest.

“We’re alive… we’re alive! Ahahahaha!”

Astolfo laughed, sounding joyous from the bottom of his heart. In time, Sieg reached the same realization as well. He had escaped from this place, and came back, and fought, and now he was here – but most importantly, he was still alive.

Yet, at the same time, a coldness began to assault his entire being – a sense of revulsion and nausea like slugs crawling and slipping through his innards. Sieg knew this sensation; it was fear. All the terror which he had not felt upon the battlefield now came back to him in force. His cold hands wrapped themselves around his body.

Why am I alive…?

The question was not philosophical but literal. He should have died today. How could he have survived? Facings down Servants to the death, fighting that giant – he lost count of how many times he had failed to step off the precipice of death. He could not stop the shaking.

“Oh, there we go. It’s okay! You’re all right. See? You’re still breathing. I’m still breathing. And that’s enough! That’s all that matters right now!”

Propping himself off the bed, Astolfo laughed and said loudly as he gripped Sieg’s hand. His voice managed to put on a hold on Sieg’s thoughts as the bed absorbed his cold sweat. Some warmth began to return to the homunculus’ freezing body.

“Sorry… I’m all right now.”

“Are you sure? I felt that once too, you know, back when I was alive! It was after I took back my reason and then had to return to battle. It was really scary when I finally realized that I couldn’t have done any of the things I did, if I were sane. I was sitting in my tent with a blanket over my head, just shaking the whole time!”

Chuckling, Astolfo began to speak of his past memories at length. It was certainly not a tale of his bravado; if anything, a normal knight would keep silent about such a shameful incident. However, it would seem Astolfo was not so vain.

“I tried to sleep, but it was just so scary that I would wake up and find myself throwing up. Really disgusting! It was so salty in my mouth and stuck to my lips… hmm, I think the night before, I was eating…”

“…stop. You don’t have to tell me what you threw up.”

“Haha, my bad… anyway, my point is that anyone would feel what you felt just now. So don’t worry! I’m here for you. You’re my Master, and I’m your Servant… heh, and to think the day would come when I got to say that with so much pride. I guess it was worth it to be summoned, after all! Sorry to my last Master, though!”

Astolfo confessed his feelings, expressing his joy with his entire being, and flopped back down onto the bed again. Sieg laughed.

“I agree… I’m really glad that you are my Servant.”

“Heh! It’s too early to be saying that, Master. I’ll show you… at the end of all this, you’ll be saying that again, and mean it… that you’re glad I’m your Servant!”

However, as soon as he said that, Astolfo’s face turned gloomy.

“Well, I mean… if you say that I’m weak instead, then I guess I can’t really deny that. But I’ll try my best.”

Why is he worrying about this now? Sieg thought. Strong or weak, fast or slow, tough or soft – these were not at all the things he needed from the Servant. Even if he were just a normal human being…

“…you are strong, Rider. At the very least, I will put my faith in that.”

Perhaps the lack of hesitation the Servant had shown in saving him – the kindness in picking up something which could have been left on the ground – was not a quality necessary to a Heroic Spirit. Perhaps a true hero was someone who would not let small things by the wayside distract from the greater picture, and had the courage to cast something aside when it became necessary.

Yes, that would be correct. If nothing else, there was not any merit to Astolfo helping him back then. That was all the more reason why Sieg held the uttermost respect for the Servant who had laughed off any such concerns and saved him regardless.

Astolfo chuckled and began pulling incessantly at his own locks. He seemed to be blushing.

“Nyahaha… thank you, Master. So, shall we sleep? It’ll be morning soon. If we don’t get some rest now, it’ll be night again when we wake up.”

Sieg agreed. He closed his eyes – and found that his fear of the darkness had disappeared. Perhaps it was due to the first rays of dawn shining into the room. Astolfo did not disappear but remained as he was; thankfully, Sieg appeared to be more suitable a Master than even the Magi here, as he had no difficulty letting Rider maintain his physical form this way. Now that he thought about it – the situation was much the same as before as well. Of course, the smallness of the bed presented a much greater ordeal back then, whereas this one was very large. There should be no worry of falling off.

What is she doing now…?

That was the last thought to cross his mind before his consciousness faded.

Jeanne received a mild chiding when she reached the church.

“When I woke up and saw what happened to the castle, I was quite worried, you know? You just went off and didn’t come back.”

Alma Petresia wore a fittingly somber expression as she said that to Jeanne. Naturally, Jeanne could not tell her that she was not only one of the parties involved in the incident, but in fact the target of the attack and managed to survived unharmed at ground zero due to her holy banner and her faith.

“In any case, we must thank God for guiding you to safety.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“But who would have thought that a meteorite… what a terrifying accident.”

It seemed that the people of Trifas were made to believe that that was a meteorite impact. Jeanne was thankful for the suggestion which also prevented the city from falling into panic.

“I will take some rest for today and go back home after that.”

“Oh? Have you completed your research? Ah… I suppose now isn’t quite the time, considering what just happened.”

“Um… yes. Yes, I’ve completed my research.”

Jeanne recalled that she had introduced herself as a schoolgirl. Alma smiled softly and added that not even students should push themselves too far.

“Sleep well, then. I will be attending the service now.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Jeanne returned to her room in the attic and collapsed onto the bed. It was rather inconvenient that she needed to sleep and eat – but it was these little things that made her feel far more alive than if she had been summoned as a normal Servant.

Amakusa Shirou Tokisada…

Jeanne thought back to the boy with the unwavering gaze. His eyes belonged not to a child gazing at some dream, but one carrying great ambitions. She was convinced from the moment she had met him in the chapel – that he would not be stopped by words, nor by mere defeat in a contest of strength, not even the utter annihilation of the Servants of Red or the loss of the Greater Grail itself. The very act of standing still had been stripped from his core. He would only continue to walk forward, either until his plan was fulfilled or he could no longer function as a living being.

The Third Holy Grail War of Fuyuki took place sixty years ago. The boy had received flesh then and pursued the Grail ever since.

Certainly, Fuyuki’s Greater Grail was a unique existence. It was difficult to imagine anything that would prove its equal – except perhaps for the genuine article itself. In other words, the holy relic of the Son of God, the mystery that was sought by all yet attainable by none.

Shirou believed in the Messiah as well. Perhaps that would explain why he pursued nothing else – but as one who shared the same faith, Jeanne understood his obsession to be another thing entirely. Holy relics were precious to be sure, but they were not things to gamble one’s life over in order to seize. After all, their faith laid with God and not His belongings. The boy of miracles must understand that himself as well.

Besides, even a supposed ‘omnipotent’ wish granter had limits. Certainly, a magus might consider it as such – for a Holy Grail was an inexhaustible swirl of prana and a clear sign on the path towards attaining Magic. However, Amakusa Shirou was no magus, nor was it likely that he held interest in their esoterica. As such, he must mean to bring about some sort of ‘miracle’ using that massive amount of energy…

Whatever miracle that might be, it would not save all of humanity. Many saints and great figures had challenged and then wasted their lives away before this dilemma. The heroes understood their roles and saved only those whom their hands could reach. Take Vlad III, for instance; he was a miraculous savior to the people of Romania, to be sure, but from the outside – from the perspective of the invading Turks – he was nothing if not the Devil himself.

Saving one person meant leaving another to their fate. To save nine, you must cut off one – or else save one by killing the nine. That was the law of this world; all heroes understood and fought under this cruelest of logics. Yet why was it that Amakusa Shirou could remain the way he was without any trace of hesitation? What ground-breaking instrumentality – or was it perhaps insanity – had he reached in his mind?

If he were simply insane, then naturally she had to stop him. However – what if he was right?

“What should I do…?”

What would be her decision then? Would she stop him regardless?

Or would she…?

When she considered this, Jeanne pulled the sheets over herself. She could not help dreading what laid at the end of that line of thought.

It was an ideal that all saints dreamed of. Could she say with certainty that she would be able to resist the temptation?

No… I cannot lose.

With words of prayer on her lips, Jeanne began to close her eyes. Suddenly, her thoughts went to another boy. She wondered if Shirou’s goal of salvation included him as well. Strangely, her anxious mind became calm at the thought. It was the vague realization that homunculi like him would not be saved by Shirou. In that case, she could not possibly aid Shirou.

The instant that she confirmed this to herself, her consciousness began to fade.

Mordred wondered whether she should sigh or express herself in some other way – in the end deciding to do what was most fitting and punching the ground.

“Why did we come back to here of all places?!”

She had thought that Shishigou would stay at the castle. Instead, her Master rejected the offer and unceremoniously returned to the catacombs.

Of course, while she could have simply stayed in Spirit Form, even she would have liked to sleep on a soft bed, or submerge herself in a real bath instead of washing herself in some lukewarm shower. They were meaningless, yes, but understandable cravings. Shishigou answered the vehement protests of his Saber even as he wrapped the sleeping bag around himself.

“That was enemy territory, you know? Who would be stupid enough to sleep there?”

“Yes… yes, well, but…”

Mordred sat down on her sleeping bag with an expression overflowing with malcontent.

“Geez… do you get it, Saber? Yes, we are cooperating with them. Of course we are, because at the rate things were going, we would’ve been cornered eventually. It was right to save Ruler and Chiron. But ‘cooperating’ is not exactly the same as ‘working together’.”

“What’s the difference?”

“The difference is, being together means giving an opening. It’s a signal that says, ‘I trust you’. We can’t ever let the Yggdmillennias see that.”

“Are you saying that we can’t trust them…?”

Mordred turned a questioning look on him. Certainly, it was most like a magus to never trust anyone else. It could even be considered natural, given that they would kill even their own parents and siblings…

“No, you got it the other way around. If we showed that we trusted them, it’s them who would stop trusting us.”

The Servant tilted her head and waited for Shishigou to continue.

“Let’s put it this way, it’ll be easier to understand… suppose there’s a tiger with a collar around its neck. Its keeper guarantees that it’s docile and well-trained. Let’s say you have to spend a night together with it. You have a gun in your hand, and you have to go out on a hunt with him. But sadly, you’ll have to kill it in the end…”

“So we are the tiger, then?”

“Bingo. The more we trust in them, the less they’ll do the same to us. You can trust someone who works for money, so long as you have money. But when you work for free, people get scared… what if he comes back for what he’s owed?”

That was all too natural for human beings, much less between existing enemies. And Shishigou Kairi was in no position to demand money from the Yggdmillennias at the moment.

“Is that why you decided not to stay at the castle?”

“Well, that and I also wanted to have an emergency meeting with you. It wasn’t a good place for it.”

Shishigou said smugly as Mordred’s mouth also stretched into a smirk.

“You should have told me that from the start… well? What are you thinking?”

“First, we’ll be acting independently. It’s dangerous to all bunch up on the same plane anyway… I’m sure they’ll understand if we put it that way. Once Ruler and them are dealing with Archer and Rider, we’ll slip through their defenses…”

“…and take the Grail.”

They said at the same time, grinning at each other.

“Ha. To think that my Master still refuses to give up, even now!”

“You think I’m being stupid…?”

The girl did not speak a word, only shaking her head.

“Of course not. I just… found it hard to believe. You told me before that your wish was for the Grail to bring prosperity for your offspring, yes?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“That’s a lie, then. I refuse to consider that such a vague desire could lead to so deep an obsession.”

Suddenly, Mordred’s smile disappeared. She looked more serious than she had ever been as she stared at Shishigou, as though pleading at him.

“So, tell me, Master… what do you truly desire?”

Moving his head slightly to avoid her gaze, Shishigou sighed in apparent resignation. He reached into his coat and fished out a packet of cigarettes.

“Do you mind?”

“I’d prefer not having the room filled with smoke, but if you must.”

Shishigou smiled lightly at her words and lit a cigarette, drawing in its fumes and then exhaling it.

“Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t lying… but I also didn’t give you the whole story. Well, I won’t have another chance to once we reach the Hanging Gardens, so I guess I should talk to you about it now.”

Shishigou Kairi began to speak.

The house of Shishigou were a family of Magi that – a few generations ago – ended up drifting from Europe to Japan. The name ‘Shishigou’ was, of course, something they took up when they arrived there. At that point in time, their Thaumaturgical Crest was already on the verge of fading completely, and their children were born with few Magic Circuits. Moving to Japan would clearly be a critical blow to such a family; it was practically suicidal for a Magus to remove himself from the lands where the foundation of his craft were laid.

As to be expected, the family had within a single generation declined to the point where they could barely establish themselves as Magi. They were at an impasse; at this rate, they would meet their end. But they still had the chance to do something – anything – before it was too late. They still had the strength to employ and rely upon the miracle called Thaumaturgy. Taking something from one to ten should be simple, whereas it was difficult to build something up from zero to one.

What would they do? Having left their foundation, they could no longer learn new Thaumaturgies. With every passing second, their line decayed further. By the time the next generation arrived, they would no longer be worthy of being called Magi.

What to do…?


The house of Shishigou reached its conclusion. They would sell their souls.

“You know, like the stuff you hear in fairy tales… a deal with the Devil… Mephistopheles and such. That’s what our forefathers did.”

In the end, only the then-head of the Shishigou family knew what it was that they made a contract with in Japan. They did not know what was done to them – be it reversal of time, or simply rejuvenated flesh, or perhaps being gifted with a new Crest – except that they had been bound by an immense force, almost like a Self-Geis Scroll. At the same time, their wish had been granted without any twists or false interpretations.

The house of Shishigou found itself conducting a successful, miraculous revival. Their Thaumaturgical Crest was reanimated and exhibited powers beyond their previous heights. The Magic Circuits that were once fading away within them increased in both quality and quantity. They were reborn as a great house of the Far East. Although the crafts of the past became lost to the family – their place taken by newly acquired Necromancy – they were considered necessary sacrifices.

Of course, such a miracle fetched its own price…

“…and that’s me.”

The contract was a curse, in the end, for the family had given up their future in exchange for prioritizing the fullness of the present. Such a thought must appear foolish to normal humans, but it was only natural for Magi…

For after all, what the house of Shishigou had chosen to sacrifice was a future wherein they lived on as normal human beings. How could any proud Magus suffer such a thing? They did not care for things to come, those great Magi of Shishigou, not when there were great deeds left to be achieved by their hands. That had been their only desire.

After a few generations, the curse eventually activated. It was unclear what it was that triggered the activation. The family did not know whether it was set to work at a predetermined time – or if it had been a game of Russian roulette all along, waiting for its chance to go off. Whatever the case, the sacrifice was Shishigou Kairi. It was the greatest of evils that could befall a family of Magi – for Shishigou Kairi could not produce children. He would never be able to create an offspring. It was destined that the line of Shishigou, along with all their precious Magic Circuits, would end with him.

“What, was that it? Why couldn’t you lot have just adopted a child or something?”

When Mordred said this, Shishigou plucked out the cigarette hanging from his mouth and put it out on the ground, wearing a curious smile as he did so.

“Well… I guess my folks had the same optimism as you do. At least, until the kid that my dad brought back… the one they’ve put all their hopes on… died when they tried transferring my Crest to her.”

The girl’s body had displayed no signs of rejection. She was a distant relative, still carrying trace amounts of Shishigou blood, and pre-transplant examinations showed great compatibility. After the autopsy, the cause was found to be Shishigou Kairi’s Thaumaturgical Crest itself – for from it seeped a deadly toxin which he himself had completely adapted to. Any attempts to transfer the Crest would cause the toxin to react.

Once he learned of this, Kairi prevented his father Touki from proceeding with further transplant attempts, making him give up on the idea completely. He had made the decision – that the Shishigou line would end with him. Kairi left his family, becoming a lowly bounty hunter, an outsider living off his Thaumaturgy.

Of course, Kairi felt relief if anything – for he was freed of the burden that had bound him since birth. He believed that he would die on some battlefield, preferably with his remains ground into fine dust. It might have been only a brief hundred years or so, but the Shishigou family had had their taste of glory. What more could they ask for?

Yet so it was that he had stumbled upon the Great Holy Grail War. By a miracle of the Holy Grail, it might be possible to remove the poison in his Crest – and for him to have children. That was why Shishigou Kairi pursued the Grail.


Mordred made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a grunt when Shishigou finished his tale.

“What’s the matter, Saber? I just told you the embarrassing past of my family, you know. Did you expect something more?”

“No… it’s just that in the end, you do wish for prosperity for your children, huh…”

“I, uh, hope you weren’t expecting some sort of sappy left-field twist…”

Apparently deflated, Mordred quickly wrapped the sleeping bag around herself. Seeing this, Shishigou decided to do the same.

Was it the low ceiling hanging above them? The Servant found it somewhat difficult to breathe, giving the illusion that the world was slowly crushing down upon her. To distance her mind from the sensation, her thoughts went hazily back to what they had talked about earlier.

A contract with a mysterious being…. generations of glory followed by a promised fall… and…

“Hey, Master, can I ask you one last thing?”

“If I can answer it, sure.”

“Do you… still remember her?”

After a long silence, Shishigou suddenly murmured.

“There are some things in the world that we mustn’t forget.”

His low, quiet voice echoed in the small cavern – carrying words that had not been present in his earlier story, nor in the wish he had expressed to Mordred at the very beginning.

His desire was not born from the wish to bring prosperity to his family.

His desire was not born from the wish to leave behind the name of Shishigou.

His desire was born from the wish to give meaning to those lost things he could never forget – and to ensure that they had not been lost in vain.

His words were an oath. His voice carried a pride that he would protect even at the cost of his life and his own honor.


“That good enough for you, Saber?”

“Yeah, good enough. Master… let’s take that Grail.”

All senses of being crushed gone, the two looked up at the ceiling as their fists lightly touched one another in the dark.

Gordes was feeling agitated. This was nothing new to him, but it was not quite the same as usual this time.

“I’m sorry… there’s nothing more that I can do.”

Said the disheartened homunculus, and his patient who was lying on the ground patted his arm.

“Don’t worry about it. You’ve done your best.”

The other homunculus said somberly, her tone as that of someone facing her own death. The scene irritated Gordes immensely.

The homunculus lying on the ground was one of the prana provision types that were kept in tanks. Born defective, they were meant to spend their existence without ever coming out, only rotting away…

Fools! Damned fools, the whole lot of them!

Gnashing his teeth, Gordes could finally bear no longer and rose to his feet.


Apparently noticing the approaching Gordes, the nursing homunculus tensed only for Gordes to ignore him, instead lowering himself and taking the pulse of the female homunculus lying on the ground.

“What are you…?”

Gordes tapped the girl’s arms and shoulders, then the collarbones, and nodded to himself in satisfaction. Commanded to open her mouth, the homunculus did so despite herself. Gordes made a sound of contempt and explained.

“You simpleton. In case you could not tell by looking, her respiratory organs are undeveloped… there are ventilators set up inside the prana tanks. Bring one here, now.”


Gordes glared at the bewildered homunculus, daring him to speak another word. With a flustered “Right away!” he ran down the hallway.



“Why? Why are you helping us? Weren’t we just batteries to you?”

The homunculi knew that, while not nearly as cruel as Celenike and Roche whom treated them as breakable toys and test subjects, Darnic and Gordes viewed them merely as things.

“You still are, even now, but… argh! If you saw a human making a fool of himself at cleaning, wouldn’t you want to correct them? It’s just like that. Anyone would be annoyed by someone trying to clean a bathtub with a vacuum cleaner!”

Gordes was a fair bit too old to be suddenly developing love for his fellow man. This was merely the conduct of a veteran craftsman scolding his junior.

Shut up and pay attention!

“All that we have taught you are mending techniques to deal with external wounds, and simple ways of resisting mental domination. You could not possibly know how to heal a defective respiratory system. You never learned to.”

“I… I see.”

It was actually quite obvious. After all, it had taken the magi great effort simply packing in all of the most basic necessities into them.

“Are these what you were talking about?”

The homunculus who ran off returned carrying what resembled respirators under his arms.

“Yes. Give it here.”

Snatching it from his hands, Gordes pushed a hypodermic needle into the female homunculus’s vein, and connected it by a tube to a box of processed bone.

“What’s that…?”

“A tool to circulate oxygen and assist breathing. Here, put this on.

Some life returned to the girl’s face when she put on the mask over her mouth. Seeing this, Gordes said disinterestedly.

“Sorry to say, but you will be spending the rest of your life putting this thing on and off. You, uh… oh, never mind, whoever you are. You might as well start bringing the other homunculi in here. No doubt there are similar cases loitering about.”

The male homunculus could only blink, utterly lost.

“Are you sure…?”

“Feel free to reject my offer. You can go back to acting out your soap operas with them.”

Gordes said pompously, barbs on every word. The homunculus hesitated somewhat but decided to put the lives of his comrades first.

“Our lives in your hands.”

“Yes, of course they are. To think that fools who cannot even perform such simple tasks would try and seek their own lives!”

The impulse to punch Gordes in the face passed the homunculus’s mind. His fellow, lying on the ground with the breathing apparatus, thought much the same. Unfortunately, it did not change the fact that he represented their salvation. With an unconcealed sigh, the male homunculus began to carry in one patient after another.

The first one was very pale, his face drained of blood. He was clutching his abdomen, so Gordes inspected it and understood the issue.

“Most of his internal organs aren’t functioning. Adjust his magic circuits to act in their place. Next.”

“The signals from your brain are being reversed. Just think the opposite of what you want to do… right is left, down is up. Keep moving your body and your brain will be used to it within a month. Next.”

“The flesh is developing into gangrene. It’s impossible to heal completely, we have to put a restoration ritual into the body and keep it there. One of Darnic’s Mystic Codes should be capable of that. Go to his room and find it. No, wait… there are powerful defenses set up to intercept anyone not of the clan. I’ll have to retrieve it personally, then.”

Saying this, Gordes got to his feet. Although everyone in the castle aside from the Servants were already resting due to exhaustion, he gulped down a remedy of wakefulness and paced briskly down the hallways. A homunculus hastily followed him. It was the female who first spoke to Sieg and currently the de facto leader of the homunculi.

“What are you doing? You don’t need to come with me, it’s not too heavy to carry.”

“I do not understand. Why are you going so far for us?”

“I don’t understand it, either! How can I possibly understand this situation? It’s chaos, chaos! This is far from the world of mysteries unified by thaumaturgies… Servants, and Holy Grail Wars, and Greater Grails, curse it all! We’ve all been played for chumps!”

Gordes shouted as he walked down the hall. The homunculus placed the tip of her halberd by his ear in apparent frustration.

“Answer me properly.”

“I told you already… I don’t know. This was supposed to be a war for the Holy Grail! Then that madman, Shirou, blindsided us and took it! And he wants to use it to save humanity? Absurd! That was not what we sought after! We were supposed to conduct a noble battle using the crafts we have mastered and the heroes we have summoned! How did it come to this? Why did things go so wrong? Was it because Lancer lost? Or is it because of the Noble Phantasm of their Assassin? Or…”

“…is it because you pushed Siegfried to take his own life?”

Her quiet words finally put to stop to Gordes’s endless speech. She sighed and lowered her halberd.

“It was not my fault…”

“But it was. But at the very least, you believe that it was.”

“Quiet! I will not have a homunculus speak to me like this!”

She ignored this and affirmed to him once more.

“It was your fault…. but it wasn’t only your fault. It was by everyone’s own decisions, their own beliefs, their actions in accordance with their own wishes… it was all of these things coming together that led to the defeat of the Black camp. I do not believe that the future would have been changed simply by strengthening your bond with Saber.”

“Yet… I was still at fault.”

Gordes murmured into the cold air filling the hall. His hunched and despondent figure quickly lost all hints of arrogance.

From the start of this Great Holy Grail War till its end, this man had been nothing more than an observer. However much he claimed to be a magus, and a Master, it was not a conflict he could not have been capable of taking part in were not for his Servant. And now, in the midst of all of this confusion, the war itself had ended. As Gordes himself had said again and again – he was truly lost.

“You are right. So think about it from a different angle. Yes, you are arrogant, cocky, and a terrible human being. But as an alchemist, you are… not so bad.”

“Couldn’t you have picked your words a bit more…?”

“Well, you are hardly comparable with the Einzberns.”

At her prompt reply, Gordes fell into silence with a bitter expression.

There was a point in time when the Musik family had very nearly found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with the Einzberns. However, that had been the height of their glory; they fell into decay afterwards.

“Hmph… well, no doubt that they’ll be spending the next few centuries pouring all of their efforts into a new Greater Grail. Our house of Musik will use that time to surpass them.”

It was practically fantasy. Although the power of the Einzberns had greatly declined from the loss of the Greater Grail, their techniques were beyond compare. The house of Musik would have to be blessed with gifted offspring like Gordes for three entire generations in order to close the gap.

“I see… in that case, begin by extending our lives. I think that you will find the birth of something new, then.”

However, it seemed that Gordes had decided to walk the harder path. After all, it suited his warped nature perfectly that he would reach out for a star which he knew he would never be able to grasp.

“I know that full well. Now, enough chatter, we have little time as it is. Let’s go get that Mystic Code, homunculus… oh, for God’s sake, enough is enough. Get yourself a name like Sieg… something easy to remember.”

The homunculus snorted, and replied with all the derision she could muster.

“It was our idiot of a parent who decided not to give us any names. Reason dictates that you should name all of the surviving homunculi, no?”


“And do not even think about giving us any poor names, or you will find this halberd carving off all of that useless blubber.”

Gordes ground his teeth and muttered under his breath – but unfortunately, he was dealing with a combat homunculus. Their lifespans might be short, but they were all the stronger at both physical and magical combat for it. In short, this homunculus was stronger than her creator.

“What a nightmare…! I should have added a function for unconditional obedience…”

Gordes moaned theatrically, and the homunculus’s lips began to curl slightly.

“I doubt that you are capable of that with your level of skill. But do not worry. As long as we are allies, I assure you that we will not harm you.”

As she said this, she gave him an overly friendly pat on the shoulder. Gordes thought to curse at her – but instead decided to save the heartiest of laughter for her deathbed.

In the end, Gordes did not sleep until he finished fixing all of the homunculi.

Chapter 3

He had told them everything that he could – and while he did not obtain the full consent of all three Servants, they promised to at least maintain the present situation. In other words, if the Servants of the Black camp were to assault them, they would protect the Hanging Gardens and the Holy Grail. As long as they could fulfill this, it mattered little even if they did not accept Shirou as their Master.

In a way, he had just overcome the greatest gauntlet. Heroic Spirits could be proud creatures, capricious, noble – and utterly without hesitation. It would not have been strange for one of them to have killed him on the spot when he revealed his identity and his seizure of the Masters’ rights.


He lowered himself onto the throne where Semiramis normally sat, and gazed upwards at the lofty ceiling. It was not yet time to relax, but he could not hide the relief he felt within.

“So, how find you the sensation of sitting upon a throne, Master…?’

How long had she been there? Assassin materialised besides him. Shirou excused himself and began rising from the throne, but the Servant placed a hand on his shoulder and gently pushed him back down. Circling around to his back, she whispered into his ear.

“You may continue… Well? How does it feel to be King? Do you see, in your mind, a host of heroes before you, bowing their heads in subservience? Rather pleasurable, is it not? Does the pride of being an absolute ruler not rise within you? Would you not drink deeply of the euphoria of utter domination?”

Wordlessly, Shirou shook his head. Holding her hand on his shoulder, he stood up.

“No, not at all. I don’t think I am suited to commanding others. This was meant for you.”

Although looking somewhat displeased, the Empress lowered herself onto her throne.

“What a bore… it would only be fitting for one who declared himself to be my Master to claim the entire world.”

“And if he did do so, you would destroy him. The world does not need two rulers, after all.”

Said Shirou coolly, and Semiramis clicked her tongue without the slightest hint of apology.

“Tch.. so you realised it.”

As Shirou had said, it was Semiramis who would sit upon the throne in the end. He would execute his plan, save mankind – and that would be it. With salvation being his sole objective, he had no thoughts for what laid beyond.

“So why not take up the crown then?”

“I’ll decide that once I’m there.”

Shirou laughed and excused himself to look to the Greater Grail. As he left the room, the beautiful visage of the Empress showed a hint of gloom.

“Good grief… truly, those without want are most difficult to deal with. To think he would have no interest in wealth, power, or even a woman.”

Men were mere playthings to Semiramis, the Empress of Assyria. The ones who had been lured by her words and robbed of everything were beyond count. Amidst all of it, she allowed only herself to exist as a ‘woman’. The world needed its fertile wombs to bear the children, of course – but it was her sole province to act as a woman and do as she pleased with any man. From the start, that was the only way for her to survive.

She still remembered the moment shortly after her birth. She could vaguely recall the form of the woman who had abandoned her and hurriedly escaped to the river. It was the fish-goddess Derketo, who had committed adultery with a Syrian man and bore her as a daughter. She had called Semiramis a shame – a humiliation for being the product of a mortal. It was only later in her life that Semiramis realised what a fool her mother had been. After all, Derketo had failed to resist the charms of a mere man.

Semiramis had been left to die by her mother, and her father’s life was ended by the same. However, Derketo had bestowed a single gift upon her – for within Semiramis flowed divine blood. She adapted to the riverside and her cries drew doves who would care for her. Surrounded by endless wings, they came together to keep her warm when she shivered in the cold, and obtained milk from other sources with which to feed her. Those dauntless wings protected her from wind and rain and raised her.

Ten years later, she was discovered by a shepherd and brought into the human world – but her inner nature had already been set. Her foster parent taught her how to perform dances, and to beautify her appearance – but these were merely weapons and techniques by which she would survive in the world.

All women deserved her hatred – for they were weak and could not help being toyed with by men, and not even goddesses would receive her mercy.

All men deserved her contempt – for they were brutes of primal urges who degrade women, and whose only merit was being made playthings of by her.

That was her philosophy and understanding of the world. In that case, how should she interpret her own Master, Shirou Kotomine – Amakusa Shirou Tokisada?

“Neither a woman nor a man… what a perplexing existence.”

He could not be ensnared by seductive smiles, and swiftly retreated from the allures of authority. Humans beings were creatures of want, yet the boy possessed none for himself – and his desire for the salvation of mankind could hardly be reduced to mere greed. If she were to categorise him, she would place him beyond any doubt among the insane. It was exactly for that reason that Assassin found herself simply enjoying standing by this Master.

Perhaps he would be rewarded for his obsession of sixty years – that would be fine.

However, if he were to find himself lacking in the end and fail – then that would be interesting in its own right. Seeing the despair and fall of a Saint who could not grasp his dream would be worthy entertainment.

“Which of the two would be more amusing, I wonder…?”

The Assassin chuckled as she vanished, as her Hanging Gardens of Babylon continued to sail across the Romanian skies, unseen by mundane eyes.

The Greater Grail maintained its incorruptible brilliance as it had always done. Some amount of prana had been spilled when it was ripped from the ley lines, but it would not prove to be a problem.

Amakusa Shirou Tokisada knew this Grail well. The Tohsakas had abandoned the Holy Grail and attempted a different approach to reach the Root; meanwhile, the Makiris had decayed, passing down knowledge of the Grail only as an oral tradition. Shirou had managed to buy the information from both of these families. Naturally, he could obtain nothing at all from the Einzberns, who had yet to abandon the Holy Grail, but what he had learned was information necessary to understanding its composition and system of functions.

The Greater Grail spent sixty years absorbing prana and used it to cut open a path that would lead to true Magic – opening a hole that would lead outside the world.

There was a place outside the world, where it was said that almighty power and ultimate truths could be discovered. It was called Akasha, the Swirl of the Root, and it was the goal of all Magi though nearly every one of them would fail in reaching it. From one generation to the next, they passed on their dreams and hopes – but it was a hopeless path in the end, as evidenced by the first lesson for all Magi: “learning to give up”.

Related to this, he had also read of a “back” to the world – the underside, an alien realm where phantasmal beasts which had already disappeared from the world now reside.

In any case, the granting of wishes was merely a side effect of the Holy Grail. Its true nature was a tool to bore a hole through the world, fueled by the sacrifice of Heroic Spirits of the past. And there was only one task left to perform.

Before he realised it, his hands were sweating.

The twin hands of Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, who had brought about many miracles, had sublimated into his Noble Phantasms – his right hand, Evil Eater and his left hand, Xanadu Matrix. Although they were Noble Phantasms, they merely acted to support him.

His right hand – the Predation of Immorality – supported him in battle with abilities such as precognition.

Meanwhile, his left hand – the Foundation of Divine Blessing – strengthened himself.

These were not powers he originally wielded. Instead, his Noble Phantasms caused them to manifest as “miracles”. Although they were universally effective in all situations, Shirou would only be a second-rate Servant if summoned normally, as he lacked the crucial ability to decide a battle. And while a Noble Phantasm that stopped one’s aging was rare, it was hardly useful in combat.

Yet it was due to these very two Noble Phantasms that Shirou would be able to make the most reckless of challenges.

“I can do it… I will. Those seventeen years, and these sixty years… I’ll use all my nerves, all my cells, all my muscles, and all the power I possess.”

The boy turned his back on the Greater Grail. Unfortunately, the situation was not perfected to the point that he could deploy his full strength right now. There was one more piece remaining; he simply needed to wait, and endure.

And so the Great Holy Grail War came to a conclusion, for a time. The Greater Grail had been stolen from the Yggdmillennias; their key Servants, Vlad III and Siegfried, had both fallen; and Frankenstein and Avicebron were no more. The Assassin of Black had fully became an enemy of both camps, reducing the fighting force of the Black side to essentially Chiron and Astolfo.

However, the Ruler of this war, Jeanne d’Arc, stood by them – as did Mordred, their mutual benefactor. Finally, aside from these four Servants, they had one last Joker to play in the fragile Saber of Black, who would only take form for three minutes, three more times.

On the other hand, the Red camp had a crushing advantage in not only the quantity, but also the quality of Servants. In addition, they were encased within the autonomous mobile fortress that was the Hanging Gardens. The side with the fewer captains were being forced to besiege them, on top of breaking through to victory in as short a time as possible.

Looking purely at the balance of factors, the situation was stacked heavily against the Black camp. However, it was not yet time for the Red camp to lower their guard. After all, regardless of the side they stood on, Servants were heroes of famous myths and legends – and a hero was only awarded the title by overcoming any and all obstacles. There was no doubt that the Servants of Black would engage them once again to decide this war.

It was… a brilliant dream.

It was the radiance of glory, as though all blessings in the world had gathered at this ceremony. It was the crowning of Prince Charles as King of France, after his victorious march into Reims – the dream and hope of all the French people.

Jeanne d’Arc had lifted the siege of Orleans and continued the fight against the English. It was by her decisive victory at the battle of Patay that the crowning could be realized. She, a young girl of seventeen years of age, had command of the French army. Scandalmongers might have seen her as little more than a symbol, an ornament at the helm of the French army. However, all the men who followed behind her would surely dispute such a claim.

If her presence had been nothing but symbolic, she needed only to have waved her banner from the rear – but the girl had always stood at the front line of battle. Although she never once drew her holy sword from its scabbard, it could not be doubted that she had fought alongside them.

The dream passed, carried away by the currents – and what came after the brief shimmer of glory was a swift fall into the dark.

It was a trial for heresy. The days passed as her enemies sneered at her and caused her pain, revenging themselves upon her. Yet despite bringing her suffering, the trial had changed nothing in the end. Her homeland had been freed from its bonds, and her dream had been realized.

‘You fought…’

To give a concrete measure of time, she had only watched it for a short two years, never feeling bored by what she saw. She had listened to the voice of God and thrown herself into combat. She chose her battles, even as she knew that she would be betrayed. In spite of this, she made the decision to fight until the very end.

Why did she do this? What was it all for? She had asked herself many times.

‘…was it to atone for your sins?’

Was it punishment for the deaths that she had caused?

‘…did you want to save as many as you can?’

Was it a prayer to bring salvation to at least one more life before her banner was broken?

‘Or was it…’

Or was it because she believed it to be just?

Jeanne knew – I knew – there were those who claimed that God had abandoned her.

I knew, of a man who was brought to insanity by his own despair, lamenting the fate of this sinless girl.

What did you think about him?

I was saddened, knowing that he had turned his back on God – and I was unable to tell him that God had not rebuked me at all.

I had faced the battle of Compiegne, knowing that my path would end in flames.

Then why did you fight, knowing how it would turn out?

I knew that my death would not be in vain. I brought hope for the future, even if I were not rewarded for it. In death, Jeanne d’Arc would become the force that took back her country and put a stop to the bloodshed.

Perhaps it had only been a fleeting footnote in history, beginning and ending without fanfare.

Perhaps it had only brought salvation to a handful of souls, quickly lost to the flow of time.

Perhaps it had all been meaningless in the end, and all she accomplished had been for nothing.

Did you ever think so?

No… I never did. Even when they bound me to the stake, I never felt any hatred for them.

I had already surrendered my flesh to Him.

You are strong.

Thank you… though I would not be here now without your help. Luck smiled upon me the day I met you, and for that I can only express gratitude, from the bottom of my heart.

This is my last question… Was it really all right to bring him along with us?

The words pierced my heart like thorns. It was the dull pain that I had kept hidden from the others all this time, my one source of hesitation.

Sieg – the boy had declared his name with such pride. He was a paradoxical existence, filled with both immaturity and experience. Despite dearly wishing not to become involved in the battles, he himself challenged the enemy as a Master.

I knew that I was being sentimental. The boy should be counted as another asset of this war. And above all, I could hear the whispers, reaching out to me from somewhere, that he would be needed.

It was guidance coming from Heaven itself, and never before had it proven wrong. The boy had come into possession of Siegfried’s heart, and by lightning’s strike gained even the strength of Servants. It was absolutely necessary to bring him back to the field of battle; he would not have resurrected from his death otherwise. His powers as a Servant would be required still in what was to come.

To this final question, I could reach no answer.

“I do not know. Truly, I do not.”

The girl who had asked fell into a nearly mournful silence. I knew painfully well that she was concerned for the boy’s well-being.

Holy Grail Wars, Servants, Thaumaturgy – Leticia had accepted all of these things and continued to act as an observer. She had placed her trust in my words, and left everything in my hands. The choices made by the Servant Ruler would be her choices; she had accepted that. However, there was one thing that the girl held firm to.

The pawn of fate who continued to march forward, his will unwavering – the girl continued to care for him. Unfortunately, he knew nothing of the girl inside me – even though it was she who looked to him, and loved him, more than anyone else.

Is that so?

The girl said to me with a mystified expression. I could hardly blame her; after all, vague ‘similarities’ were not the only things shared by the girls called Jeanne d’Arc and Leticia. They were alike not only in terms of physicality or personality or birth, but they were of a similar nature even in the color of their souls. In other words – given the same knowledge as Jeanne d’Arc, there was no doubt that Leticia would take nearly all the same actions as me. That would mean, of course, that I also cared for Sieg and held affection for him. At least, Leticia would think so.

However, that was not the case. She was wrong.

He does not want to fight… but he would not possibly abandon us.

I do not want him to fight… but his power was needed.

It is not a lie… but I have not told all of the truth.

It was an unbearable contradiction within me – a lie. I hid away the truth and turned my eyes away from it. It would seem that the great blessing in finding someone to walk the path with – a privilege normally denied to Servant Ruler – had blinded me.

I should leave him behind, I thought. Yet I was convinced that he would come after me, regardless.

Everything that took place in this Great Holy Grail War had its meaning. Every single Servant was an important existence – and it was no mistake that Sieg, capable of being possessed by one of them for 180 seconds for three more times, had a purpose to serve.

That was the decisive difference between Leticia and me. More than anything else, the hazy thoughts that the girl held for Sieg trampled over Servant Ruler.

I had no right to even think about him, much less care for him or love him. All I could do was to seal those thoughts in some distant corner of my mind, behind as many locks, under as many layers of wrappings, and bound with as many chains as I could – so that no one would see them.

So that no one would fault me.

It was… a loathsome dream.

In my youth, my mother had whispered to me.

“My beloved child… you shall become a knight, and defeat your king. As my son, you have a claim to the throne. But the king must not learn of this now, or he would surely end you. For now, you must bide your time.”

It was a disturbing noise. Evil thoughts wormed their way into my head. I did not want to hear them. I wanted to ignore them.

I was an artificial life form – a homunculus. Birthed by twisted means, it was decided that I would grow, and age, and die quickly. While innocent boys of the same age played around the village, I was swinging a sword. By the time they reached manhood, I would be long dead.

How jealous I was of their lives. How I envied them. How I despised them.

And so it was that I swore to become an existence superior to common men. After all, I must race through life faster than any of them. It would only be natural that I would also be greater than all others.

One day, my mother had brought me to observe the king from the shadows – a steel figure of bravery, and austerity, and temperance.

“That is your goal. That is the enemy you must defeat. That is the king you must fell.”

Impossible – how could I hope to overcome such flawless elegance? The king’s judgment, the king’s swordsmanship, the king’s strategies; they were all the utter definition of perfection.

Unfortunately for my mother, I abandoned her scheme. Instead, I desired to serve the king, to become the blade that would cut down those aiming to sully his lands and people.

Yes, I would become a knight.

I grew up quickly and was eventually granted a helm. It was something I could never remove before the eyes of others; it would all be for naught were someone to see me and recognize my face. So said my mother, and I donned my mask. Despite this, my skill and knightly spirit were proven to be exemplary and the king honored me with a sword.

Although I was not yet granted a seat at the Round Table, I had gained the right to one. The days of bliss passed by quickly as was only natural for me. As a knight, I brought down those who opposed the king. “Why do you oppose your king,” I would ask.

They would retort, “our king is far too infallible.”

What fools. Was that not exactly why our king was great? In all of man’s long history, when had there ever been such a perfect king? Most who called themselves kings were cruel, and proud, and contemptuous – presenting their own greed as a source of joy for their people. These kings gave dreams to those who follow them, or took them away, but upon even once having their own dreams taken from their grasp, they left disaster in their wake with no thoughts for the future.

“All who become king are the same. They steal from the people, and the people must steal in turn.”

But the King of Knights had no selfish desires. The king saw only what was needed, and everything else might as well not exist. The king carried no dreams, forging ahead only to unite our homeland – a pure existence as exquisite as a sharpened blade. Although it brought me immense shame to consider my own birth in comparison, I still adored the king and aspired to embrace the path of chivalry in the same way.

I could say with certainty that those had been the most brilliant and joyful years of my life – but their end came soon enough. Frustrated, my mother made clear to me my pedigree. I was not merely the homunculus son of the great foe, Morgan, but also somehow conceived as a child and living clone of the king.

I felt happier than I had ever been. The figure whom I revered so was much closer than I had imagined – and I was also the only one who carried the king’s blood. In other words, I was the uniquely suited to succeed the king.

I spoke of all this to the king, including why I would be worthy of the crown. As always, the king replied in a cold, hard voice.

“I see… born from the machinations of my sister you may be, but indeed you are of my blood. Yet I shall not recognize you as my son, nor shall I allow you the throne.”

Perhaps I was too hasty in my desire to be the king’s successor. However, that I would not even be considered a son was too piercing a blow. It had been my basest assumption; even if I could not be recognized publicly as an heir, it was the one thing I truly wished to be accepted. I thought that in a dialogue between the two of us, I would be able to see the king’s heart – that I would be accepted as a son to be proud of.

“So… you would not admit that I am your son, O King?”

I murmured at the turned back of the king who showed no further interest in me – who looked ever onward at the path to the future. My voice was filled with enmity, revealing a hatred that I had never known before.

It was obvious, I suppose. Who would accept a child forcibly conceived by a bitter enemy? I must be something like a curse. As such, the day would never come where I received a seat at the Round Table. My excellence would be unrecognized, my passion disdained, my effort ignored – for I would never be forgiven, simply because I was born of Morgan.

“Very well. I will make you regret those words.”

That was the decisive moment when I was reborn in hatred, to stain all that my father had accomplished. The king’s achievements, the king’s rule, the king’s battles – I would render everything of the past decade meaningless.

Perhaps the king would despise me. It would be warranted.

Perhaps the king would punish me. The king could try.

But the king would see me. I would give up everything for the two of us to face one another again.

The long, long war for Britain was drawing to its end. After surpassing many hardships, the day was approaching where the country would be ruled as one under the King of Knights. The fighting had brought honor to the knights, but also suffering and poverty to the common folk. Just when everyone had thought that those days would be over, they were thrust into one disquiet after another.

The king never changed expressions as the chain of ordeals were dealt with. However, I was certain that within the king’s heart nested great agitation – so I imagined, and laughed quietly in the shadows.

For one, it was I who had blazed and made grandiose the infidelity between Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot du Lac, a sublime knight of the kind rarely known to the world. It was I who had begun the whispers – that Arthur did not possess the caliber worthy of being king, least not one whose wife was so easily stolen. Yet even as the other knights who had their own complaints spoke out to the king, I continued to serve loyally. To the king, it must have been quite ominous to have this so-called son still serving faithfully as a knight.

Yes – I knew well of the king’s anguish. It was then that Arthur made the first and last critical mistake. In order to bring down the traitor Sir Lancelot, Arthur set off for France and left me in command. It was only natural, with so many other knights and members of the court touting my competence – never mind that there were actual administrative affairs which I and very few others were capable of performing. The king appointed me as regent and headed for France.

How agonizing it must have been for the king to strike down the most trusted knight of all. Predicting that the fighting in France would drag on, I spread the news that the king had fallen in battle and called for an emergency council, during which it was accepted that I would be suitable for the throne. I took from the armory Clarent, the proof of kingship, and held a coronation in Canterbury. I became king, even if it were only in name. After that, I proposed to Guinevere.

“What is this nonsense you speak of?”

She replied coldly, and I laughed.

“As much nonsense as your games of playing husband and wife.”

Deriding her, I removed my helm. The expression frozen on her face was unforgettable.

I did not pursue her in earnest, of course. But it would antagonize the king one level further. Yes – I wanted him to hate me ever more.

Unsurprisingly, my lies were soon uncovered. It was made known that King Arthur hastened to return to Britain. By right, I should have been executed at that very moment. After all, regent or not, such a rampage as mine deserved its punishment. However, I was still backed by all those whom I had appeased, cajoled, or intimidated into submission.

I was persuasive – perhaps. However, on a deeper level, it was clear that there were many who held grievances against Arthur. The King of Knights was cold, and rational – always ready to discard anything and anyone when they were no longer necessary. But I was a much more human knight, or so they claimed. It was the most foolish thing of all, given that I cared for no one other than myself. Human beings were mere livestock whose only saving grace was their ability to speak. Young or old, it made no difference; throw meat into their pens and they would be fighting one other for the meal before it even touched the ground.

That was why I would not kill human beings, simply because I did not hate them. They were an annoyance, a locust, but not worthy of hate. I acted as I desired, without a care for those who followed me – so it was strange that they would find me all the more human for it. The king who had tried to save as many lives as he could was condemned as not understanding the hearts of men; yet I who thought nothing of saving anyone was praised of the opposite.

It was vexing. I did not rebel for the sake of the lot of you – I did it for myself. They could follow me wagging their tails if it pleased them, but I put them all out of my mind. Why spare my thoughts for the hounds that could forget the master who had been utterly devoted to them?

So it was that the last war began. Despite our defeat at Dover allowing the enemy to take the landing, I felled the wearied Sir Gawain. After several more minor clashes, it was time to face off against the king at the hill of Camlann.

By this point, it no longer mattered who won the war. The fate of the country had already been sealed. However, the king remained as frigid as ever. Again and again, I would call my father’s name on the field of battle – more loyalist soldiers surrounding me every time I did, and I would crush them and continue on. I killed, and killed, and killed again. The thought came to me. How did things turn out this way?

Outsiders observing this battle probably thought me a great fool – and why should I care?

Just as my mother predicted, I would become the great transgressor who ruined this kingdom – and why should I care?

I had plunged every single person in this country into my personal vendetta – and why should I care?

Why should I care? Why should I care?!


Finally, the King of Knights responded to my call – and our final duel began.

The battle was decided when the king’s holy spear pierced my chest. It was my defeat – no, it was my victory. All that the king had achieved, were reduced to nothing by my hands.

Yes, look at me. Hate me. Let the mere mention of Mordred forever grate your ears and twist your face with anger. Curse my very name.

But to the very end – the king did not recognize my existence.

Those cool eyes of jade watched over my death, turning away from me the instant it became certain. The king spoke no final words, shed no tears, showed not even the slightest hint of hate.

I was struck by the realization.

I see…

Perhaps… there was some truth in their grumblings after all.

The king did not understand the hearts of men.

I conceded. From the beginning till the end, King Arthur had been an infallible king. But that was all the more reason to hate you, my perfect king.

Even your hands had failed in the rule of this country.

I could have done better.

What King Arthur could not accomplished, I would.

Father, if they would claim that you were the perfect king, I would surpass you.

Ah – just once more. One more chance. Give to me the chance to draw the sword of appointment, just as the king had once did.

Just one chance…

It was… a strange dream.

I was racing across a great field, untouched plains of gorgeous emerald spreading endlessly in every direction. The scenery flowed past me. I knew it was a dream, but the sensations I felt in these two legs were more real than anything else.

I ran.

I was running.

Further, ever further, in an unwavering line. Indecent sounds began pouring from my mouth. Never had I imagined that running on my own two feet could bring such pleasure and stimulation.

In the blink of an eye, the scene changed and I reached a cave at the foot of a beautiful mountain.

Ah… I know this… yes, I know the name of this mountain.

This was Mount Pelion, a famous tourist attraction in Greece, and in one of its caves dwelt the famous centaur Chiron, the great sage and pride of the Greeks who educated many heroes.

By this point, even I began to understand that this was the past of my Servant. Due to the connection between us, I could see into his memories during sleep. Of course, it was possible for me to decide to cut off these visions, but that would be a waste; if anything, I dove further down the hole, tuning my level of my consciousness. It took quite some time for me to adjust – not quite having done this sort of thing before – but now, whenever I dreamed, I would be able to see Chiron.

I could see the Chiron that I did not yet know.

As I approached the cave, a boy began running towards us, calling out “master!”

Was he one of his students?

The boy jumped lightly onto the rock next to us. Looking down at Chiron with some sort of anticipation, he spoke.

“Master, let’s go out and hunt!”

“We cannot.”

I began to laugh, seeing him pout at Chiron’s curt response. The boy was very handsome, one could say exceptionally so. He felt neither male nor female, instead appearing androgynous. Yet his words and manners clearly belonged to a boy, something that I as a sister knew very well.

“It is good that you enjoy the hunt. Considering your future, it is better to be good at it than to be poor. But is it a hunter that you aim to become? No, you wish to be a hero. No one would recognize a brute as a hero. It is not enough to learn your letters. A man with no sense of music or decorum brings only shame to himself.”

Despite his advice, it seemed the boy was still dissatisfied. With a difficult expression, he grumbled in affirmation. Although he could see the logic was correct and he should not speak out of selfishness, he also knew that the rest of his day would not be enjoyable. Seeing this, Chiron smiled wryly.

“However… being cooped up in a cave for an entire day must surely be unbearable torture to you. A compromise, then. Finish memorizing the rest of your words for today, and write them onto the slate. If you finish before nightfall, I will teach you how to fight in the dark.”


“There are some risks, but I am sure you will be all right. And of course, that is assuming you can remember all your words by dusk.”

Naturally, the boy had no complaints. Laughing, Chiron put his hand on the head of the boy jumping for joy, who blushed but accepted it with a smile.

I felt envy for the boy – as well as shock. I knew that Chiron had a wife and daughters, but they were all close to divine beings. The boy, on the other hand, was overflowing with the radiance of humanity. However, Chiron’s behavior towards the boy was exactly that of a loving father to his son.

“Now, it is time for your lesson… Achilles.”


It can’t be…

But the boy did not deny this name. In other words, he was the Rider of Red, the great hero who was likely the most famous figure of all in our Holy Grail War.

Achilles was born from the hero Peleus and his wife, the sea goddess Thetis, and they opposed one another concerning their son. While Thetis wished to complete his godhood, Peleus believed that making his demigod son fully divine would destroy the human side of Achilles.

In the end, Thetis accepted his point of view, but left Peleus and Achilles, returning to her home on the ocean’s floor. Not even a son was enough to bind the goddess to the man.

Peleus decided to put young Achilles in the care of his old friend Chiron. After all, he was the son of a hero and a goddess, and Chiron was the greatest teacher that Peleus knew. Chiron readily accepted his friend’s request and began teaching all manners of things to this highly gifted boy. Words, songs, poems, virtues, and manners; how to hunt, fight, and ride horses; and even the art of healing.

To Achilles, forced to separate from his parents at a young age, Chiron must have been a stern, kind, and attentive father.

Likely because it was a dream, the past went by quickly. Achilles grew up before my eyes, becoming tall and powerful. The shaky thrusts of his spear became god-like blows. Like a freed horse, he was unstoppable and untameable, galloping across the fields and surpassing all obstacles with his swift feet.

He was also extremely knowledgeable, of course. In the wild, he could find edible plants and fruits with a single glance, and he knew the ways to treat injuries.

The way he behaved and held himself, both as a hero and in a royal court, was perfect.

Most surprising of all, Achilles was barely ten years old when he had accomplished all of this. What a figure he must have been, to reach this age and be told by Chiron that there was already nothing left for him to teach the boy.

In any case, it was time for them to part ways. Chiron and his wife Chariclo saw Achilles off as he began his journey.

“Master… lady Chariclo… thank you for coming this far with me.”

“Take care, Achilles. Stay safe and watch your health.”

Chariclo tearfully wrapped her arms around Achilles. If there was one thing left for Chiron to teach him, it would be the importance of loving others with all his heart, as she did.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll do my best, to make sure I don’t shame myself as a student of Chiron.”

Achilles spoke firmly and steadily. He did not just parrot the sayings he was taught, but gave thought and put them into words. And he was still only a ten-year-old boy. It was clear why Achilles would become renowned as a hero even as a youth.

As always, Chiron put his hand on Achilles’ head.

“You have grown well, Achilles. However, we or Peleus are not the ones whom you ought to repay. You need not burden yourself… you are already a hero.”

Hearing these words, Achilles seemed somewhat taken aback, and gave a short nod before hastily turning his back, rubbing his eyes with his arm. Chiron and Chariclo watched the boyish gesture with smiles on their faces.

“…I’ll be off, master!”

The boy hero stepped forth, never showing his tears.

After that, true to Chiron’s words, Achilles became a hero who accomplished great deeds all across the land. However, as his mother Thetis had foretold, cruelty was visited upon Achilles during the Trojan War by the sun god Apollo, whom empowered Paris to shoot through Achilles’ heel – the only part of him which remained human – followed by his heart. Realizing that the wounds were fatal, Achilles continued his rampage until he finally fell on the field of battle. Anyone who knew the name of Achilles must have heard the story.

And so, Achilles never met Chiron again. Just as Achilles’ life ended in tragedy, Chiron also met an untimely death. What I have just seen was truly when they had parted for life.

i was jolted by the realization. There was great love between Chiron and Achilles. They were bound, as father and son. As brothers. As family.

So what was this situation that aimed to rip their bond apart?

It was the Holy Grail, of course… our great war. In other words, was I not culpable as his Master?

No, even if they did not know when they were first summoned as Servants, they had already fought each other twice by now.

It’s not my fault.

But was that not because they were Servants? Servants, who could be forced by the Command Spells if they did not follow their Master’s orders? Slaves, who faced certain death if cut from their supply of energy?

You’re making a father kill his son.

No, Archer must have accepted it by now. If he did not want to fight, he would have told me…

You don’t know the first thing about him.

I do know. I do. I know everything about him…!

I shut my eyes, wishing only to wake up from this dream.

How despicable I was. What a fool. Of all things, I had chosen to run.

It was… a dream of freedom.

The knight loved to fly. If you were to ask why, it was because he could fly both up and down, apparently.

Was it simply that he liked the choice of having as many directions as possible to fly?

It was not worth mincing words. In any case, the knight was free. Although born as the prince of England, he had tossed aside all things which he considered nuisances, such as the matter of inheriting the throne. One would imagine that the impression he gave to others would be of an insufferable upstart. And yet, perhaps due to his inborn good nature, all seemed to like him.

From the moment he was born, nobody could resent him. Everybody became friendly with him. He was naive, perhaps… or foolish, or reckless. He was not a wise knight.

But he coveted nothing. Valuables seized from his enemies would be unceremoniously gifted to others.

He despaired at nothing. When he became transformed into a myrtle tree by the fearsome witch Alcina, he waited cheerily, nonchalantly, until someone came along to return him to normal.

In his foolishness, he would fail. In facing a great foe, he would sometimes lose… and sometimes win. He was only average in terms of strength. However, the sorts of adventures he had overcome, and the sheer number of them, was beyond extraordinary compared to ordinary knights.

He was weak, but he was brave. As many times as he had been knocked down, not once could he be kept down.

Even his death was without fanfare. At the battle of Roncevaux Pass, despite being caught unawares by treason, the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne fought valiantly. However, they were still greatly outnumbered, four hundred thousand against twenty thousand. Continually pressed by twenty against one, not even a great warrior could hold for long.

Those battle-hardened braves fell, one by one, and they were soon joined by the knight. Letting out a sigh, his hand reached out toward the void – but with a laugh, he stopped it. His contented smile showed no hint of regret. Even as he laid covered with his own seeping blood, and tormented by the pain of approaching death, the knight appeared completely at peace.

But, if…

If there was one wish remaining in him as he faced death…

“Yeah… I want to see that place again.”

It was likely the knight’s most treasured memory, visiting that boundless world said to contain all things which did not exist on this earth – the alien world that no one had seen before, in the great beyond.

Those were mere murmurs, uttered in the haze of his death. But it was a wish in its own right, a desire that ought to be granted. So, as his Master, I wanted to grant it for Astolfo. No matter how high and noble the wishes of the others were…

Suddenly, the world became distorted. My mind leapt beyond the safety and security of dreams and the subconscious, torn away by the grasp of a dreadful power.

I felt hot, as though my skin had been set on fire – and cold, as though my body was being frozen from the inside out.

Yes, it was obvious what was before me.

There was no point in averting my eyes, in taking up arms to fight. I knew what this monster was.

I knew that I would have to face it eventually. I knew its true form.

It was the most famous episode among the legends of the great hero Siegfried… the slaying of the dragon. With the phantasmal sword Balmung in hand, he stood against the evil dragon Fafnir. What could be more fitting a tale for a hero such as him?

I swallowed. The cavern seemed to expand forever, yet at the same time, it felt painfully claustrophobic.

Firstly, it was because of the treasures that took up over half the space, a mountain so bountiful that a single handful seemed enough to guarantee wealth for life.

And the second was the black mass that laid on top of the wealth, hiding it. Despite its form melting into the darkness, it conveyed a monstrously overwhelming sense of presence. The crushing sensation fueled one’s imagination, becoming visions of black scales, a flaming tongue, snake-like eyes, a poisonous breath – and the colossal creature containing all of it.

It was strangely terrifying that my will had not yet broken… or perhaps it had already been so utterly shattered that I could no longer register it at all.

This was a space which allowed only one existence – the Dreadwyrm. All other living things would find their deaths here.

The fact of it existing before me was horror enough. I could not run even if I wanted to, as though my feet had been pinned to the ground. It seemed almost natural, logical, that if I were to move – if I even looked at it – death would follow.

The dragon opened its maw.

It was a living being, after all – and that was the most frightening thing of all. A creature that had reached such a plane of existence no longer needed food to sustain itself. But this was an evil that devoured for pleasure. As a cat would torment a mouse, or a snake would slowly digest a frog – this predator tortured its prey.

The fear that scorched my body became hotter and hotter.

Isn’t this a dream? Can’t I wake up?

…Is this a dream?

If it devoured me here… would I really wake up?

With no such assurances, I could only fight. However, I could not possibly match it. If I at least had a sword, I could choose to end things right now…


It was then that I realized. There was a sword in my right hand, and gauntlets wrapped around my arms. It finally occurred to me that I was ‘Siegfried’.

Then, I could fight – so I told myself, as I clung on to the little hope that was all I had left. I no longer had to avert my eyes, and could see the dragon clearly.

The dragon paused, its murderous air retreating as it peered at me with something like caution. I gripped the sword tightly, throwing off what hesitation remained – and charged.

Fafnir responded instantly, moving to fight me. With a soul-crushing roar, the clash between man and dragon began.

Everything around me became engulfed by a fiery maelstrom, instantly shining light into the shadowy cavern – but this brought no comfort, for it was the flame that illuminated Hell itself.

I swung the sword feverishly, not knowing how to take on the dragon. Even blows delivered with all my strength barely felt as though I was cutting anything at all. Sensing a coldness bite at my back like so many crawling worms, I frantically rolled along the ground – and the tail of the dragon swung haphazardly over my head.

Like a human swatting at a fly… no, the difference between us was even greater than that. The slightest touch would bring certain death, surpassing anything as insignificant as luck. Shouting loudly to mask my own fear, I struck at its body and then once more at its tail.

The dragon-slayer stood much too far in the distance, while my own death was far too close at hand.

…I can’t win.

The thought passed my mind, and in truth, it was something that I had already realized. The race of dragons stood at the pinnacle atop numerous other species of phantasmal creatures. Breathing fire or ice or even poison, these monsters were sturdier than castle walls, with claws capable of easily rending steel and tails that would pulverize even diamond.

It was true that Siegfried had felled this dragon. Therefore, there was no reason that I would not be able to. Yet I could not perceive even the slightest hint of what might lead to my victory.

The dragon’s claws tore clean through the armor and into my torso. The cuirass collapsed like paper and blood burst from my chest. I could feel a sizable chunk of flesh forever ripped away from my body.

More so than the pain, I felt a fatal sense of loss. Mutilation and overflowing pain translated into a scream far shriller than I thought possible coming from my throat.

My vision clouded as Fafnir moved to deliver another critical blow. I swung the sword weakly, even as my consciousness ebbed away from the intense pain. Of course, my strike was deflected, and I was sent whirling through the air and more flames burned me. My voice was silenced and I could no longer give sound to my agony.

My body was forced to move, by survival instincts or something besides. Something spoke to me desperately, telling me that I must do so. I raised my head and faced the aberrant mass before me.

The doubt in me whispered that I could not possibly win. There were countless ways for me to lose, but only one reason for me to win.

Because, I am Siegfried now.

Even so… even Siegfried must have fought against the odds, against despair, before finding that single spot of hope and finally defeating the dragon at the end of a brutal struggle.

I could only imitate his appearance. Would I not simply lose to the dragon… as I had lost to Mordred?

I wiped the blood away even as I shook, standing up even though certain of my own defeat. The glint in the dragon’s eyes reflected no mercy or pity. Whether I intended to fight or not, it would pounce in a few seconds. I gripped the sword with both hands, and put out of my mind everything flowing from my wound. I only needed to leap forward. No amount of damage to my head or chest would interfere with that.

I knew full well that it would only be a brief resistance. So it was strange that the choice to ‘run’ never came to me.

My heart pounded wildly in sheer terror. My knees shook from the hopelessness. Anguished tears flowed unimpeded down my face, mourning the end of my life.

And still, I could not turn and run. The dragon opened its maw. I could feel my face twisting, a pathetic shout coming from my mouth. One foot stepped forward, then the other. Without really knowing where I was aiming or where I even should aim, I raised the sword high.

But it was too late, as the stream of flames raced forward and engulfed me, far faster than I could bring the sword down…

Once again, the scene faded to black.

Before I knew it, I saw up-close the worried face of Ruler.

It seemed I had managed to escape that world between dream and reality. While I sighed with relief, unease gripped my heart tightly.

The breath of fire at the end had unmistakably killed me on the other side. So, what was I doing then, on this side…?

This… this isn’t fair.

The Magus was shouting. After all, what stood in front of him was a Servant, along with the woman who was apparently her Master. They were in the middle of a Holy Grail War; it was hardly strange to find a Servant somewhere.

However, the Magus was not a Master.

The Servant had openly invaded his home, sealing all means of alert beforehand, and denying any resistance on his part by ■■■■■■ him.

This is madness! Have they forgotten the most fundamental principles of the Holy Grail War? I am not a master. I am only a Magus. How can I fight against a Servant?

This was an infraction. A breaking of the rules. Where was the judge? This Servant and her Master ought to be punished. The Magus was not even directly involved in the Holy Grail War, but only in a support role.

Were they even listening? This was unacceptable. He was fully intent on protesting. But he could only croak, and his conscious was leaving him. Just as he considered how strange this was, the Magus involuntarily brought a hand to his own chest.

His hand found an enormous hole, where his heart had been bore clean through. His Magic Crest was giving its all in an attempt to revive him, but with their degraded Crest, all it could manage was prolonging the moment before his death.

Ahh… so I am going to die.

The truth broke him, as fear shut down his mind. Drained of energy, he would never rise again.

Confirming this, the Servant spoke.

“This is a very nice place to live, isn’t it, Mother?”

“Yes, it’s a beautiful home. But we can’t, Jack. This is the house of a Magus… they’re sure to check this place first once their communications network is destroyed.”

The mother explained in a gentle tone of voice to her Servant, who nodded meekly and tossed aside the corpse. It was a decent position geographically, but it seemed they had better find a different spot.

In which case, they should seize any necessities worth taking, and move on to the next location – until she found something that had not been in any of the houses they had broken into before.

“My, a piano… I didn’t know that there were Magi who could play the piano.”

It was a grand piano crammed into a small room. Judging from the relative thickness of the walls, it was likely reinforced with sound dampening measures. There were also a number of rituals and magical mechanisms set-up along the walls. One could surmise that the Magus had pursued his craft via the medium of sound.

Then again, the Magus was not a Master – which made him meaningless to Rikudou Reika. Not so much for the piano, however.

“Can you play it, Mother?”

“I used to. Quite often.”

It was back when both her parents had still been alive. It brought her a sense of nostalgia, but it was not something she wanted to return to. The bliss was far too unfitting for someone like her, thought Reika.

She raised the fallboard. The piano appeared quite well used, but was faithfully maintained. Jack peered at the keys with great interest, poking at one of them lightly with her index finger. A beautiful note echoed through the room. Seeming pleased with the sound, she pressed on the keyboard again and again.

“Hey, Jack, would you like me to play you a song?”

“Would you…?”

Jack lifted her face, her eyes shining with unusual excitement. Telling her to shut the door, Reika sat down in front of the piano, placed her hand on the keys – and began to think of a song fit for her daughter’s ears. But Reika had a limited repertoire, and there were only a few songs which she was confident she could still play.

“Is there anything in particular you want to hear, Jack? Something sad? Something happy? Anything is fine.”

“Umm… something gentle. We don’t want anything sad or happy.”

The mother murmured in understanding. Recalling a song suited to Jack, she placed her fingers on the keyboard.

“This one is perfect for you.”

Reika began to play a song that was gentle, as requested. It was not somber, yet contained a hint of wistfulness. It was not joyous, but brought calm to its listener. Entranced by the tune, Jack asked for the name of the song.

“Träumerei is its name. Kinderszenen No. 7.”

“What’s that?”

“It means dream in German, if I remember right.”

The innocent children dream in their sleep. But for the adults who have known all good and evil in the world, dreams become recollections of their past selves. Reika did not know to which the song referred to – perhaps both – but she thought it fitting for Jack, who stood beside the piano as the melody took her away like a dream. Reika even felt some regret as she ended the song, and ended up playing the same song three times.

“We want to hear it again.”

“Once we’ve found a place to settle, I can play it for you as much as you want.”

Reika stroked Jack’s head gently as she craved for more.

As this happened – the battle raged on the plains outside Trifas.

Ruler awoke in her room in the church’s attic after about five hours of sleep. Thanks to the period of rest, her mind was clear and no longer mired.

Just as she finished carefully cleaning the room she had been lent, it was time for lunch. Offering her help to Alma, they began to prepare a stew together.

As Jeanne stirred the stock pot, a savory aroma rising from its bubbling contents, Alma who stood beside her toasting bread spoke out abruptly.

“May I ask you a question, Jeanne?”

“Of course. What is it?”

“Do you believe in the Lord?”

Dumbfounded by the impossible question, Jeanne turned to look at her. Alma wore a troubled smile as she waited for the girl’s response.

“Of course… of course, I believe in Him.”

“It’s often ridiculed by the world at large that only those who believe would receive salvation… that the non-believers would not be cared for, and were doomed.”

“It is an incorrect assumption to begin with. It is arrogance to pray for the rapture to occur before the great tribulation.”

Expressing joy in the company of the joyful, and shedding tears alongside the desolate in their hour of sorrow. It was the base condition of being a believer.

“I see… and would that be why you yourself had not been saved?”

The kitchen fell into a sudden silence. Jeanne, without looking up from the stew, shook her head at Alma’s words.

“No, it has nothing to do with myself. The fires of execution were not the result of Him abandoning me. It was the fate that I had chosen.”

She was finally finished with the stew.

Apparently, Alma was a Watcher of the Church, ordered to keep watch over the Yggdmillennia clan, reporting at the first sign of activity and fulfilling the regular duties of a sister otherwise. It was not an easy job; for one, in the twenty years since her assignment, there had been no real movements at all.

However, that quickly changed a few months ago. Family members from all over the world began to congregate, working through the nights to perform rituals. Large amounts of resources were transported into the city and the situation clearly pointed to the deployment of some powerful magecraft. Despite Alma’s reports, the Church was delayed in its response and failed to intervene in the Holy Grail War until it had nearly begun.

“When did you find out about me?”

“At first, I thought you were a Magus of the Yggdmillennia. There aren’t many tourists to this city, after all. I was contacted later and got quite a shock.”

“Hmm… so why did you let me stay here if you thought I was a Magus?”

“Oh? And what does that have to do with anything? Our doors are always open to those who seek our aid.”

Seeing the elegant smile appear on Alma’s face made Jeanne smile back in return.

“Can I ask something, as well? Why weren’t you surprised by this?”

“I did not think that a small city like Trifas would have a proper church in the first place. While I cannot speak of other Magi, I knew that the Yggdmillennias had survived by spreading their blood widely.”

But it was not as though she had been doubting Alma all this time.

“And, in any case, even if a member of the Church knew of my existence, I did not think it would be a problem.”

Ruler belonged to the side that protected the order of the Holy Grail War – she was an overseer. The existing overseer of this Holy Grail War had unilaterally decided to join the Red camp, but Jeanne had no way to know that when she first arrived. By now, she understood that it was Shirou Kotomine who had spun things out of control on his own judgment.

“So, Alma, how much do you know?”

“Not very much, other than that the overseer sent by our side is no longer under our control.”

Alma replied impassively.

“I see… well, there is no issue then. The Holy Grail War is under my jurisdiction, so I would prefer a free rein in handling it.”

For an instant, Jeanne considered proposing an alliance with the Church. However, there was the fear that their interference would invite further chaos into the proceedings. Although Amakusa Shirou Tokisada was never canonized, he did belong to the Church, and that would convert the conflict into infighting.

“Oh? Is that so? To be honest, I think I’m quite glad to hear that. As it stands, it looks like there is some friction with the Association, as well.”

It was only natural, Jeanne thought. Based on what she heard from Mordred’s Master, Shishigou Kairi, the Association had brought in freelance Magi at great costs to cover all their bases before joining the war. It must have been a slap in the face to discover that the overseer betrayed them, and had planned to do so since the start. And, as Shishigou said, they had been an acceptable expense. Without the freelancers, the Association might now decide to pour their full strength into the war.

“So you mean to say that both the Association and the Church will only observe for the time being, more or less?”

“Yes… I believe that’s correct. We do not consider a fake Holy Grail to be worth such fixation. It’s all the more unfortunate that Father Kotomine would be so obsessed with obtaining that wish-granter.”

Alma confirmed her assumption, and Jeanne let out a sigh of relief. While any aid was appreciated, further interventions would be troublesome. This Holy Grail War was abnormal enough as it was.

“We also don’t have a full picture of the situation, after all. Interfering in a situation where our own agent has gone renegade would only create further doubts.”

That is fine by me. And… may I ask one last question?”

“Yes, go ahead.”

“Why did you go out of your way to reveal yourself to me? I doubt it will cause any issue, but I do not see any need to, either.”

“Oh, you’ve forgotten something very important.”

As Jeanne tilted her head in confusion, Alma gave her a mischievous smile.

“Jeanne d’Arc… you are the great holy maiden who brought light back into the world. Was it wrong of me to wish to speak with such a person?”

Jeanne’s eyes widened.

“Oh, um, mmmm… yes, I see, you are right. But… surely you exaggerate. I am neither great nor did I bring light…”

Jeanne lowered her eyes in embarrassment. It was true that her name had gained some recognition in the world. She would not have been summoned as a Servant otherwise. However, to have someone else speak directly of her admiration for Jeanne was highly discomforting.

“People of the world know of your sacrifice. It brings tears to their eyes, and indignation in their hearts. You might not have intended it, but your actions have become a source of motivation for others. I think that’s something to be proud of. In fact… it was learning about you that made me decide to become a sister.”

Jeanned chatted with Alma for a while longer before saying goodbye to the church. Although reluctant to leave, she could hardly have stayed there forever. However, in the midst of her regret, she recalled the sight of Alma waving her hand.

It was a strange sensation, leaving one’s name for the generations to come. It was not the same as the welcome and acclaim she would receive upon freeing a city with the army at her back. The common folk had entrusted their hopes to her, that she would free their country. But it was different for Alma, who had learned of La Pucelle’s end. She learned that Jeanne d’Arc had carried something with her – faith. And she knew the tragedy of the holy maiden who had faded into the flames. That was the standard “image” of Jeanne d’Arc to this world.

‘You changed the world, you know. Much more than you realize.’

Alma had said that. Perhaps that was something for her to be proud of. But something snagged in her thoughts. Her existence did bring change to the world – but it was through the sowing of the seeds of disasters.

Jeanne shook her head as her thoughts changed tracks. It was something she would never forget, but it was not something she could worry about now. It had long since ended.

If only she could have spoken to him after her burning. Perhaps she could have comforted him. However, their lives had ended far in the distant past. There would be no resolution, no way to entrust it to what had been the future. Even so, to see that great Marshall of days past fall so far…

That alone would remain nothing but a source of sorrow to her.

Collecting herself, Jeanne paid a visit to the Fortress of Millennia. It had barely been half a day since she parted with Alma, but the air already felt somewhat gloomy and dim.

As she arrived at the gate, a homunculus opened it and greeted her.

“Lady Ruler. Has there been a development?”

It was one of the leaders of the homunculi – the one with rather sharp eyes who wielded a halberd in her hand.

“No, that is not why I am here…”

“Ah, you have come to see Sieg, then. I will lead you to his room. Follow me.”

“That… is why I am here, I suppose.”

It was true that she felt worried about letting him out of her sight. While she believed Sieg to be highly intelligent and collected, he was also the type to become exceedingly reckless once his mind was set on something. And that was without mentioning his Servant, the wild and devil-may-care Astolfo.

“She is, well, less of a Park and more of a Drive kind of Rider…”

Astolfo not only had no brakes, but had an afterburner. The Servant would not only allow Sieg’s recklessness, but encourage it.

As these absent thoughts crossed her mind, the homunculus leading her came to a stop.

“Here we are. It is almost time for the others to wake up and take over for me, so I will go sleep now. Excuse me.”

“Thank you.”

Seeing the homunculus off, Jeanne turned to face the door again. She tried knocking but there was no response. Was Sieg still asleep? After some hesitation, Jeanne tentatively open the door.

In a word, the room was a mess. Discarded pieces of clothing were left here and there, and several emptied bottles of wine had laid on the floor. There was even a spot where the stone wall had been broken. She wondered what had happened.

There was a large double bed in the center of the room where Sieg was sleeping, his face buried in a pillow and the sheets wrapped around him.

“So he is still asleep…”

Sieg did not even twitch as she murmured. Rider was nowhere to be found but definitely close at hand, so he must be in his spirit form.


Perhaps due to his birth as a homunculus, Sieg appeared rather androgynous, like the other homunculi in the castle – though he leaned more towards female, with not a single strand of facial hair on him. It might depress Sieg to hear it, but Jeanne found an elegance in the homunculi, as works of art.

If the Rider Astolfo were a single pure bloom flowering gracefully – then the homunculi like Sieg were painstakingly polished gems. She could not compare and rank their different forms of beauty.

Sieg was in deep sleep. Perhaps it would be better to wait until he woke up by himself. Previously, they had both been utterly exhausted and ended up squeezing themselves onto a single, small bed. He definitely deserved to take up the entire double bed himself this time.

Without warning, the peaceful rhythm of his breathing changed.


Some voiceless pain distorted his expression, and his skin became pallid, like he suddenly lost a great amount of blood. For an instant, Jeanne felt a chill run down her spine as Sieg’s life force weakened.


Jeanne shook his shoulders in a panic, calling his name. When she did it a second time, Sieg’s eyes snapped open.


Whispering hoarsely, Sieg reached out to her. Jeanne hastened to take his hand and was relieved to feel his weak grip in return. However, his condition was serious beyond doubt.

“Are you all right? I will heal you right away…”

“No, I just saw a bad dream. It’s nothing. I’m not hurt.”

Saying this, Sieg placed a hand on his chest over his heart – the heart that once belonged to a hero. As he said, his sweat was clearing and the blood was coming back to his face. With no external injuries, one would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with him. As though Death himself had decided to move on, his soul remained in one piece.

“Are you sure that you are all right? Could it have been some kind of curse, or…?”

“That’s not it, Ruler. This isn’t magecraft. It… isn’t.”

Sieg muttered as he continued pressing on his own heart.

Just as Jeanne was about to question the meaning of his words, she finally noticed some strangeness in the scene. Sieg had already raised his upper body off the bed, so only his waist and legs were still hidden beneath the sheets – but she found the mound oddly large.

“Where is Astolfo?”

“Oh, right here.”

Sieg rolled up the sheets, revealing the Rider that was wrapped around his legs. In spite of the turmoil that just occurred, he was still soundly asleep, a far cry from the image of a Servant protecting his Master. But more importantly…

“…Sieg, what is going on here?”

It was the lowest that Sieg had ever heard Jeanne’s voice go, sounding like when she was fighting – a deep rumble that shook him to his insides. The dauntless voice would inspire brave deeds in her allies, and cause her enemies to quiver. For some strange reason, Sieg could not help but hear it from the latter perspective.

“Well… I guess he took it off while we were asleep.”

Sieg glanced at the various bits of clothing scattered around the room. It was most likely something he received from Celenike, but Rider had changed into proper pajamas before he went to sleep. One might question why he did not simply go into his spirit form, but suggesting that would definitely send him into a teary-eyed protest, as though he was being dismissed.

Although Sieg possessed little knowledge as a Magus, having been forged with Magic Circuits as his core, the quality of said Circuits were top of the line. As such, there was no issue with letting Rider maintain his physical form for long periods…

“…that was not what I meant.”


That was scary.

Anyway, Sieg could infer that Jeanne was probably taking issue with Astolfo’s sleeping clothes being half gone. The buttons on the top half were all undone, revealing a white body. And the bottom half had moved downwards, apparently having pulled them off while sleeping.

Certainly, it was not a sight meant for the eyes of others. He was basically half naked. In any case, Sieg should wake him up.

“Rider, get up.”

“Nnn? Nyuu…”

Mewling like a cat, Astolfo arched his back and rose from the bed. Jeanne swallowed her breath. With narrowed eyes, Astolfo glared at his surroundings, before giving a nod as though he realized something.


He fell asleep again. Left with no choice, Sieg pulled on Astolfo’s ears.

“Wake up, you useless Servant.”

“I’m not useless! I’m a useful Servant! So many Noble Phantasms!”

Dramatically, Astolfo rose up, swinging both arms wildly in a fierce show of protest.

“Good morning, Rider.”

Hearing this, Astolfo waved his hand, lazily grinning from ear to ear.

“Oh, it’s Ruler. Good morning… what? Did something happen?”

“Yes, I suppose something did. But leaving that aside for now. Can I ask you something, Rider?”

“Hmm? What?”

Jeanne cleared her throat, and then pointed at Astolfo in accusation.

“Why are you in such a shameful state?”

“Eh? Ooh, when did I take these off…? Is this shameful?”

Jeanne nodded her head strongly. Astolfo grumbled as he removed his pajamas completely before equipping his armor.

“I’m baaaack!”

“Do not stand on the sheets while wearing your boots!”

“Who cares about that? You’re so fussy. I’m not making them dirty… I think.”

“Well…? How did this happen?”

“How did what happen?”

“This! Why were you, um, sleeping together with Sieg?”

Astolfo looked truly confused as his head turned almost a perfect 90 degrees.

“But he’s my Master, right? And I’m his Servant, right?”

“T-That is true, but there was no need to sleep in the same bed together!”

“…You did, though.”

Astolfo said quietly, and Jeanne froze. After opening and closing her mouth a few times like a fish, she turned to Sieg.

“Did… did you tell Rider?”

Sieg nodded in bemusement.

“Should I not have? I didn’t think there was anything to hide…”

“Oh, um, no, of course not…”

Jeanne looked at him with some unknown resentment.

“It’s not like anything shady happened. Right, Master?”

Strangely, Sieg could not help feeling that there was no joy in Astolfo’s laugh. In fact, there was no laughter at all in his eyes as he glared at Jeanne.

“Well… I am sure that nothing shady could have possibly happened from yesterday till today, either.”

“Oh, you never know. Maybe something will happen tomorrow.”

Astolfo smiled as he looked defiantly at Jeanne, who returned it with an intense glare.

“I am simply requesting that you do not cause a disturbance with your appearance.”

“I’m a Heroic Spirit, though. There are plenty of naked Heroic Spirits, you know?”

“That does not matter! And Sieg is still a child, so you should take extra care to be responsible!”

“My Master’s not a child! He can make his own decisions. He can act on his own. He’s a grown-up! What’s wrong with you, anyway? Aren’t you the indecent one, charging into other people’s rooms this early in the morning? Without even knocking!”

“I did knock! You were asleep! And it’s noon already!”

The two Servants glowered at one another, gnashing their teeth. Sieg raised his hands and tried to calm the pair down, but was completely ignored. It was quite disheartening.

“Just… act more prudently, please.”

“No! It’s when I sleep with my Master that I feel all fired up!”

“God forbid! The wrongness of it!”

“My, my. Crimes of passion, is it?”

An unexpected voice called out to them. Jeanne and Astolfo turned at the same time and saw Chiron peering into the room from the door. He held a hand over his mouth as he chuckled – a rare act for the Servant.

“I-It is nothing of the sort… Anyway, Sieg, I wanted to ask you again about what happened earlier. I would like to hear your opinion as well, Chiron.”

“Earlier? Did something happen, Master?”

“Yeah, actually…”

Sieg explained about the ‘dream’ that he had had. When he mentioned his chest being gouged, Astolfo pulled apart Sieg’s shirt in a hurry and made sure that there were no wounds there. Impulsively, Sieg covered the blackened parts of his skin with his hands, feeling that letting the others discover it would only worsen the situation.

“Whew. What would we have done if it’d actually been life-threatening…”

“You could have not ripped my shirt open, I think.”

“Rider… why must you… really…”

Jeanne pushed her fingers between her brows, as though weathering a headache. Putting all of that aside, Chiron began to analyze the dream that Sieg spoke of. With knowledge bestowed by the Greek Gods, it should have been trivial for him to interpret a dream…

“…allow me to say in advance that I cannot speak with certainty. After all, Sieg, you are unmistakably unique in this world, something that has never been possible in any of the Holy Grail Wars of history.”

Chiron repeated that Sieg was an unknown factor. Beyond any description of ‘rare’, he was quite literally the one and only and unlike any other.

“You live on by the heart of Siegfried, successfully resurrecting through the release of Frankenstein’s Noble Phantasm. However, the problem lays with your heart… the heart that ought have faded away when Siegfried left this world. Due to the binding by your mana and Circuits, it has become flesh, in a fashion.”

The Einzberns created homunculi that were top of the line. It was even possible for them to manufacture homunculi to function as a vessel of a Holy Grail – a Lesser Grail, in other words – that was also capable of managing itself. Although Gordes had realized the potential, these functionalities were deemed unnecessary for the homunculi commanded by Darnic.

Even the homunculi forged for disposable purposes were structurally designed to be able to accept a ‘vessel’. It was simply a matter of not having enough space to take in as oversurging an existence as a Servant.

The homunculi of the Yggdmillennias were unable to take in even a single Servant. However, it was only the matter of a single organ. Now, with that organ lost, instead supplemented by a very symbol of immortality – dragon’s blood – even the impossible had become possible.

“Your dream was influenced by Siegfried, that much is without doubt… what remains doubtful is whether that had been but a simple dream. What are your thoughts, Sieg? Did you feel that you were in a dream?”

Sieg wordlessly shook his head.

“No… I don’t think that was. There was a dream, before that.”

He glanced at Astolfo. Surely, even this Servant would prefer not having his own past discussed openly. Mentioning it would not help anyone.

“In that case, I believe we should take it as an ill omen. I can only presume… but I believe that you may be attempting to become Siegfried.”

“Become him?”

“Would it be so strange for such an overwhelming existence as the heart of a Servant to erode you? Your flesh would not be able to withstand it. It would eat in you, until the dike collapsed and you would be crumpled from the inside.”

“But… as far as I can tell, Sieg’s heart is functioning normally.”

“Did you forget, Ruler? He had already become Siegfried once.”

Jeanne nodded at Chiron’s words, looking distressed.

“Yes… that possession was nothing short of a miracle.”

“It was beyond even a miracle. Am I correct, Sieg, that you have been possessed by Siegfried twice now? How long has that been combined in terms of time?”

“Three minutes is the limit to one transformation.”

“Then your flesh had been consumed for three hundred sixty seconds. Although I cannot know how long your lifespan will be, I can tell you that those six minutes as Siegfried are on par with your entire life. Understand that, for every time you allow Siegfried to take over yourself, you approach your own death.”

Dead Count Shapeshifter – the Command Spells were a literal count to his death. He might be able to transform as many times as he could be replenished with Command Spells, but Sieg’s very existence would crumble with every use. There would be no way to reverse that.

“Are you telling me that I shouldn’t let him possess me anymore?”

Jeanne intercepted Sieg’s queston to Chiron.

“That would be the wisest decision. You are a Master, Sieg. Having you fight was not a good idea to begin with. I hope that you can leave the battles to your Servant, and act as a Master should.”

“But don’t we need the power of Siegfried?”


Jeanne fell silent, averting her gaze. Astolfo was gripping Sieg’s shirt tightly and made no sign of letting go.

“Besides, it isn’t for sure that everything will go as Archer says. It’s definitely possible that I just got confused and it really was a dream.”


Chiron spoke out to dissolve the argument.

“This is not a matter that can be resolved by our decision. The question belongs only to his own will, and whether or not he will use the Command Spells.”

Chiron was correct, thought Jeanne. The question laid with Sieg himself. Was he resolved to disregard Chiron’s warning regardless? Would he choose to walk forward no matter what laid ahead?

It was a foolish question. Of course, he would choose to. And Jeanne had to let him choose…

…no! I can’t let him choose! I mustn’t!

“I shall take my leave here. It seems my Master has matters to discuss with Ruler and Rider, as well. You may take your time, but please bring yourselves to the meeting room after.”

Chiron exited the room, forcing the mood to take another uncomfortable dive. Jeanne and Astolfo were both painfully aware that, whatever the oaths they made him swear, or the restraints and the compulsions placed upon him – if Sieg were to appear at the right place and the right time, he would definitely summon and allow Siegfried to possess him.

They could knock him unconscious, gag him and tie him up – but that probably wouldn’t work. Why not just put him to sleep permanently, then – that would be even worse.

“You two aren’t think of anything… drastic, are you?”

Sieg asked the two who looked at him with a heavy, lingering gaze.

“Not really.”

“What makes you think that?”

They shook their heads. Sieg rose from the bed.

“We won’t find an answer to this problem. Ruler, Rider… I’m really grateful for all your kindness, and I know I shouldn’t disregard what either of you say.”

But, still…

“…I’m sorry. I’ll go take a look at the homunculi. Please go find the Magi.”

Jeanne and Astolfo looked at each other, and sighed at the same time.

“Very well.”

“Roger. And Master, don’t run off and leave the castle, all right? Say something before you go.”

“What am I, a child?”

The two Servants left the room and headed for the meeting room, all the while shooting looks at one another to keep each other in check.

“Well… what shall we do?”

“I’d ask the same thing.”

In the end, there was only one way to make Sieg not transform, which was to create a situation where he had no need to. That meant crushing the enemy with overwhelming force – and of course, if they had the power to do that, they would not have to struggle so in the first place.

“Can’t you handle it with those Command Spells you have?”

Jeanne shook her head and put an end to that train of thought.

“The Command Spells are in a form that is keyed to each Class. They cannot be matched to one of the wrong color or Class. If it could, I would have done so already.”

“Why on earth would they work that way? They’re Command Spells. Normally, any Master can use any one of them, right?”

Astolfo was correct, and that was exactly why in a normal Holy Grail War, the Command Spells could be safeguarded by the overseer and even granted as compensation when changes in the rules took place.

“What if I, as Ruler, devoted myself to one Servant and granted them Command Spells intentionally? This is for the sake of preventing a worst case scenario.”

“I wish they’d had the foresight to predict something like this happening, too.”

“No one would normally consider anything like our current situation.”

Even the premise required for something like this Great Holy Grail War to take place was an aberration. The system itself must have become cautious of something of even worse possibilities occuring.

The one silver lining was that their opponent, Shirou, had also about three Command Spells for each Servant of Red, which were ineffective against the Servants of Black. As well, he did not manage to secure those for Mordred. At the least, the Servants on their side would not be bound by Command Spells.

“What do you think Fiore called us out for, by the way?”

“I wonder… perhaps she wanted to discuss the raising of funds needed for the airplanes? Or they have come up with some idea of how to approach the Hanging Gardens…”

“I hope so…”

“Unfortunately, things have not gone quite so smoothly.”

The met at the same meeting room as the day before. There was some slight exhaustion in Fiore’s face as she smiled. Chiron placed himself beside her like a steward, while Caules stood one step removed from them.

“Please wait a little while longer for the airplanes. It is planned for them to arrive within three days.”

“Hmph, that’s too bad. So, did you want us for something else?”

“Yes. Actually, it concerns the Assassin of Black.”

“Now that you mention it… the Assassin of Black has not appeared for quite some time now. I was under the belief that the Yggdmillennias was holding Assassin in reserve for the chance to kill the Masters.”

Jeanne said, and Fiore shook her head.

“It shames me to admit this, but it appears that the Master of Assassin has had his Servant stolen.”

“Huh. That does sound pretty shameful.”

Astolfo gave his honest feedback to the troubled Fiore. Jeanne recalled what Shirou had said on the subject.

“There’s only one thing we know. Assassin is completely out of control.”

Caules tossed a newspaper at Jeanne and Astolfo. Taking it in hand, Jeanne’s expression became bitter.

“Identity of Romania’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ Remains in Shadows”

“‘Jack the Ripper’…”

“Even the sort of press that would use provocative headlines like this sometimes tells the truth. As it turns out, the serial killer they are labeling ‘Jack the Ripper’ is the real Jack.”

“You… summoned Jack the Ripper as Assassin?”

Seeing Jeanne’s raised eyebrows, Fiore looked disheartened.

“Yes, one of our own, Hyouma Sagara, believed that there was a limit to what could be achieved by the proper Assassin, Hassan-i Sabbah. He believed the best chance laid with summoning the newest Assassin, Jack the Ripper.”

As the ritual of the Holy Grail War and its derivatives were repeated time and again, a number of strategies became established among its participants. It became common practices to prioritize the defeat of the Masters first – and to stay most on guard, not against the three knight Classes beginning with Saber, but the Assassin Servants.

It proved nearly impossible to survive an ambush conducted via Presence Concealment unless a Servant was kept nearby at all times. However, ensuring that one’s Servant stayed in visual contact for security, presented another problem when one faced off against another Servant. The risk of becoming a part of the battle itself became higher than ever, and even Heroic Spirits would be placed at a crushing disadvantage if required to fight while covering for another. Even if one’s Servant was not directly killed in the initial encounter, if caught in a situation where their movements became bound, only defeat remained in the end. Yet it was also foolish to keep one’s Servant at a distance. As well, one could never discount the possibility of Assassin intervening and killing one of the Servants while they were entangled in battle. There were even anecdotes that, in one particular offshoot Holy Grail War, the Master who summoned Assassin ended the War in just three days. As such, all Masters began desperately shoring up their defenses against Assassins. After all, the true name of the Assassin Servant was known wide and far.

Hassan-i Sabbah was the head of a legendary order of shadowy killers in the Middle East, and the one from whom the term assassin could be traced back to. However, history told of only nineteen individuals who took up the name of Hassan. Normally, when summoning Assassin, one of these nineteen would be called. Although it was possible for others to answer the summons, the chances were so low that one could be forgiven for believing them nonexistent.

Across the many Holy Grail Wars, not only had the true names of the nineteen Assassins been laid bare, but the nature of their Noble Phantasms as well. Yet the Masters feared Hassan-i Sabbah all the same. It was beyond count how many Masters lost their lives at their hands, as Hassan slipped through regardless of all their countermeasures.

However, thanks to those countermeasures, the possibility of Hassan being killed by their targets became exceedingly high. It became common perception that summoning Assassin was an immeasurable gamble – as one either ended up taking the Holy Grail, or death swiftly followed.

Aside from that, the summoning of Hassan as the Assassin Servant was due to the word assassin itself being their catalyst. As such, if one were more creative in arranging additional lines in the summoning incantation, bringing in catalysts not associated with Hassan, then it would not be out of the question to call upon other Heroic Spirits. For example, Semiramis who was summoned by Shirou in the Red camp.

“When deciding the Heroic Spirit to summon as Assassin, Hyouma Sagara focused on the lack of information, and so his eyes landed on one of the newest Heroic Spirits, Jack the Ripper.”

“That is true. After all, the Ripper is one of the great mysteries of England. Nothing is certain, not even his gender.”

“Eh? But isn’t Jack a man’s name?”

Caules shook his head and answered Astolfo.

“He’d been called Jill the Ripper at first, since only prostitutes were targeted and all of them were killed without any apparent struggle. Well, the theory that Jack was female did die down pretty quickly… normally, you’d assume that he’s a man.”

“Most likely, Jack the Ripper is an Assassin that has never been once called to any Holy Grail War. I cannot even imagine what their Noble Phantasm may be. So you are saying that…”

“Our last contact with Hyouma Sagara was right before the summoning ritual. At the start, we assumed that an agent of the Association had killed him and seized his Servant…”

Fiore looked at the newspaper in front of Jeanne and Astolfo.

“…but based on that article, the Assassin of Black arrived in Romania and behaved in a way that we could not imagine was allowed by a Magus. We proceeded with our own investigation.”

That was when Chiron and Fiore witnessed the duel between the Assassin of Black and the Saber of Red. The pair had considered this a great opportunity to exploit – but in the end, Assassin managed to retreat with only light wounds, and the confrontation between Chiron and Mordred ended with damage taken on both sides.

“Sigh… even now, I regret that I focused so much on Saber that I neglected Assassin.”

Having just lost Siegfried at the time, it was decided that the highest priority for the Yggdmillennias was taking out the Saber of Red.

“Your decision was correct, Master. The fault was mine for failing to secure the kill.”

Chiron consoled his lamenting Master. Caules agreed with the Servant.

“Well, in hindsight, not taking out Mordred became the silver lining for us, so that’s okay. No use crying over spilt milk, right, Sis?”

As it turned out, Jeanne and Chiron only still survived due to the Yggdmillennias’ failure to defeat Mordred.

“Also… we received a report from our kin down in Trifas. Last night, just before we were to engage the Red camp, contact was lost with several of our agents inserted around the city. Ten of them, and they were all veterans, if not all first-rate Magi.”

Although they had not been chosen as Masters, a few among the ten were more skilled than Caules himself, with familial history going back many years. If their opponent had been Magi of the Association, there would have been any number of ways for them to remain in contact – so in this case, it was more likely that they had been unable to reach out at all.

“Ruler and Rider, what I would like to request from the two of you is…”

“…bringing the Assassin of Black to justice.”

Jeanne interrupted Fiore, who nodded as she watched closely for Jeanne’s reaction.

“I see… so you were concerned that this would conflict with my duties as Ruler, correct?”

“That’s right. We are asking you to defeat a particular Servant, after all.”

“I assure you, even in a normal Holy Grail War, the amount of innocent lives that Assassin and their Master have dragged into the fighting would have incurred a severe penalty.”

More specifically, they had involved people who had nothing to do with the Holy Grail War, and on top of that, created a situation where that became publicized. Ultimately, it depended on the Servant chosen as Ruler to judge whether the rule-breaker deserved punitive measurements regardless of the latter condition. But Jeanne d’Arc as Ruler had strict definitions of what counted as ‘within’ the boundaries of the Holy Grail War, and what did not. She would show no mercy to any who attempted to cross the line from the inside to the outside, while those attempting the opposite would be expelled as carefully as possible.

“Besides, we have only these three days before the airplanes arrive to track down and defeat Assassin. After that, we must employ all our resources to pursuing the Hanging Gardens.”

“So what you’re really saying is, help us out if you want to set off in three days, right? Sly girl!”

Astolfo said quietly as he smiled. Fiore replied with composure.

“It is a teaching in our family that idle hands should never be kept wanting for work.”

“I do not mind. However, may I request that Sieg does not participate in this matter?”

“Yes… I’ve heard that that homunculus can be possessed by Siegfried three more times. I suppose it won’t do to waste them on a single Servant.”

Jeanne sighed softly in relief. If Sieg were to join the battle, he would most certainly allow Siegfried to take over. Every Command Spell counted, and they must prevent him from entering situations where he would use any at all.

“Thank you. In that case, that leaves Rider, Archer, me… and perhaps the Saber of Red could be persuaded to join us? Seeing as she has faced Assassin once before.”

Fiore’s expression soured.

“I would… prefer not relying upon Saber and her Master.”

“Why’s that?”

Fiore kept silent despite Astolfo’s innocent question. Caules decided that it was time for him lend a hand.

“Basically… the old man and Mordred are on the Association’s side, and we’d have to disclose our own situation to explain why we’re taking down the Assassin of Black. Well, he’s probably already figured that something was up, but this is still a matter of pride. Besides, we don’t want to owe him any favors.”

“The Assassin of Black is not beyond the abilities of the three Servants present here. I myself had once…”

Unusually, Chiron trailed off mid-sentence. The others appeared bemused as they turned their attention to him.

“What is it, Archer?”

“Master, I believe you had sighted the Assassin of Black, as well. Can you see their parameters?”

“Oh, um…”

Fiore closed her eyes as to recall, but quickly opened them to give Chiron a look of confusion.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know. Strange… I’m sure that I’d read Assassin’s parameters… but, why…?”

Fiore put a hand over her mouth in shock.

“That is not all, Master. Although both of us had observed the Assassin of Black, neither of us are able to remember their face.”

“Could it be… some kind of innate Skill, or a Noble Phantasm?”

“It is likely. As the Saber of Red wore her helm to keep her name a secret, so perhaps does the Assassin of Black possess some means of hiding one’s true form.”

The helm of Mordred was merely a temporary means to conceal her identity. After she revealed her Noble Phantasm, she did not hesitate to reveal even her face.

In a regular Holy Grail War, Noble Phantasms would only be used to deal a killing blow to an enemy Servant. This tactic represented the lowest risk and ensured that one’s name remained secret. In single combat against another Servant, out of the sight of other Masters, it would prove a difficult obstacle to surmount.

But the Assassin of Black went above and beyond that. For Jack the Ripper, keeping one’s identity a secret was not a tactic but a way of existence. Although the result of various deplorable conditions coming together, this was the killer who had murdered at least five prostitutes without leaving any trace of evidence. One legend spoke of the killer having even the devil’s own luck, as graffiti that might have become evidence was ordered to be washed away by the Police Superintendent of the time over concerns of racial tensions.

The killer did not merely obscure their identity. Obscurity itself became the killer’s identity, taking a life of its own.

“I detected nothing unnatural during the battle itself. Most likely, it was from the moment that we recognized Assassin as having disappeared that the information we gained became expunged.”

“So, aside from knowing that Assassin is Jack the Ripper, we have absolutely no idea what their appearance or abilities are, much less their Noble Phantasm. Is that right?”

Fiore answered Astolfo as she nodded dolefully.

“That’s right. This may be more difficult than I expected…”

Chapter 4 - Untranslated