“How is Lancer?”
“Instead of going into spiritual form, my Lord is sitting on his throne and seems to be thinking about something. He appears to be considering some matters from his discussion with Ruler.”
Gathered together in one of the castle’s rooms, the head of the Yggdmillennia clan, Darnic, and Archer stood in front of each other as they started working out their plans from now on.
“To think that Saber would drop out so early on…”
Darnic wore a dark expression. It was only natural; the one extolled as the greatest of the seven Servant classes, Saber, possessed outstanding talent that should have ensured he survived until the final stages of the war. There were Servants like Caster and Assassin who excelled at targeting their opponent’s weak points, and Servants like Rider who overwhelmed the enemy with an abundance of Noble Phantasms—so it wasn’t like the Saber class had an absolute advantage, but unlike those other classes who suffered from the issue of compatibility with their enemies, the Saber class could deal with any type of enemy in battle with its all-purpose strength and skills.
Moreover, Saber of Black had been Siegfried, the great hero of the Netherlands. Excluding Saber of Red, he should have been able to dominate any battle no matter what Servant he faced.
“It’s no use regretting what’s past now. The Red camp will probably detect Saber’s death sooner or later. When they do, there is a high chance that they’ll attack to try and finish us off in one stroke.”
The Red camp had lost Berserker to them and was also down to six Servants. If Archer were their commander, he would want to attack before the Black camp made countermeasures to deal with Saber’s loss. They had the best chance of winning now while the Black camp wasn’t prepared.
“Caster’s Noble Phantasm will be necessary.”
“…I heard we haven’t yet gathered all the necessary materials yet, though.”
A Servant’s Noble Phantasm was brought into this world when they were summoned, and was naturally compiled out of prana. Though there were sometimes necessary conditions for activating it, it was rare for the Noble Phantasm itself to require materials to construct it.
Most of the time, this occurred in cases where the Noble Phantasm still existed in the world up to the present day. However, in this case, what was needed was the Noble Phantasm itself instead of the materials.
A Noble Phantasm was not an unknown weapon. Noble Phantasms were none other than the ultimate mysteries of Heroic Spirits that were sublimated into their legends. Therefore, Noble Phantasm were already completed existences… normally speaking.
If there was a Noble Phantasm that did not follow this logic, it would be something too huge to be possessed by a single Heroic Spirit, or—something that was incomplete but still carved into legend.
“There’s just one material left. If we can obtain it, Caster can activate his Noble Phantasm.”
“…A first-class magus.”
Darnic spoke with a grim expression. Hearing those words, Archer finally understand the reasons for various things that had been happening.
“…I see. So that’s why Caster wanted that homunculus.”
“That’s right. Caster’s Noble Phantasm requires a [core] to function, and the quality of the core is reflected in the power of the Noble Phantasm. The only ones that possess the necessary talent among our clan are—”
“The seven who became Masters. And also the homunculus in question.”
“We can gather any number of second-rate and third-rate magi as materials. However, a magus who is the successor of a thousand-year-old Magic Crest can’t be obtained in such a short period of time.”
“I don’t think that the homunculus has a Crest, though—”
“But that homunculus was made using crafting techniques stolen from the Einzberns. It’s not unusual for an extraordinary monster to be born among those we created. Caster probably noticed that.”
That’s true, Archer thought with a nod. His Magic Circuits were first-class. As a result, his feeble body hadn’t been able to endure the power of his Circuits.
“But at this point, capturing that homunculus is a dim prospect. In other words…”
“We have to use someone among us as the materials, huh?”
“Yes. In that case, there is only one person who qualifies.”
Darnic muttered with a bitter smile.
Archer guessed that he was probably referring to Gordes Musik Yggdmillennia. Especially since Saber had chosen his own death, his Master was definitely not unrelated.
When he regained consciousness, Gordes had shaken pitifully before Lancer’s cross-examination of what had happened and had blamed everything on Saber and Rider. Watching him do that had not brought pleasant feelings even to a Servant like Archer.
Gordes had forgotten that, at the same time as being his Servant, Saber was also the undying hero Siegfried who was unparalleled in history… No, perhaps it was more accurate to say that he averted his eyes from that fact.
If Saber didn’t obey his Master’s orders, it was probably due to his own beliefs. To try and overcome that with a high-handed attitude was completely out of the question. As a matter of fact, Archer felt that Gordes’ arrogant attitude had caused Lancer’s anger towards Rider to cool down.
“Was it okay to make Caster the Master of Berserker of Red?”
Though Gordes had lost Saber, he still had one of his Command Spells left, and continued to possess the rights of a Masters. If he were to make a new contract, it was only natural to do so with Berserker of Red, but—
The contract with Berserker had already been completed with Caster as a proxy Master.
“We can’t expect anything from Berserker’s Master, after all. Once we transfer Gordes’ Command Spell to Caster, his role will end after guiding Berserker’s rampage with the Command Spell.”
Darnic rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“Have we still not received any word from Assassin’s Master?”
“No. Thanks to the [spirit board], we know that Assassin hasn’t died, but—”
The worst possible scenario passed through their heads. A member of the Yggdmillennia, Sagara Hyouma, had purposefully departed for his homeland in the Far East and performed the summoning of his Servant with perfect preparation.
They confirmed that the summoning itself had succeeded through the [spirit board]. But they couldn’t confirm if the Master was Sagara Hyouma.
In other words, there was a high probability that someone besides Sagara had become the Master. Assassin of Black—Jack the Ripper—had a short history and was a serial killer, which was far from the level of a Heroic Spirit, but with the special characteristics of his class, he undoubtedly specialized in killing Masters.
In that regard, Assassin was quite a terrifying Servant to have as an enemy.
“Having both Assassins in the Red camp is the worst possible outcome, but…”
Darnic shook his head at Archer’s words, as if to say that he didn’t want to even consider the possibility. It was then that the door suddenly opened and the two of them turned to look at the same time.
“Grandfather, Archer. May I have a minute of your time?”
The one who barged in was Archer of Black’s Master, Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia. Normally, she acted in a graceful manner in all situations, but for once, she wore a highly bewildered expression.
“What’s wrong, Fiore? To not even knock—”
Without answering, Fiore silently put a newspaper on the table. Darnic and Archer focused their gazes on a particular news article.
“It appears that a serial killer has appeared in Romania’s capital, Bucharest. The deaths have spread north of Bucharest to Sighișoara.”
Darnic frantically pored over the newspaper. While the details on the murders themselves were sparse, there were already more than thirty victims, and all of Romania appeared to be in a panic.
“I thought it was just a coincidence, but please look here. The list of victims—”
What Fiore pointed at was the photo of a woman. Though they were low grain photos, one could see that she possessed well-ordered features. Only the words [Unidentified] were written in the caption beneath the photo.
“Her name is Pemetrekis. —She is a magus who was in the same department as me at the Association.”
At her words, Darnic also recognized the seriousness of the situation. If this were a mere serial killer, one could just disregard it as a coincidence. But that was impossible if a magus was included among the list of victims. Moreover, she was probably one of the magi who had been despatched to Trifas.
“Is she a magus weak enough to be killed by a serial killer?”
“…No. Pemetrekis is a magus specialized in intelligence-gathering. Adding in the battle abilities of her familiars, a normal magus wouldn’t be able to contend with her in battle.”
“—In other words. This serial killer possesses the ability to kill magi.”
If the serial killer was simply a magus who surpassed her level, then it was still a minor matter. But the name of a monster that was famous for surpassing magi by far came to their minds.
Servant Assassin—Jack the Ripper. Had he arrived in Romania? If so, just what on earth was his Master thinking? At the very least, they couldn’t imagine he was sane if he was turning a blind eye to these abnormal events that even appeared in the newspaper. He was stepping far off from the general rule of all magi to conceal their mysteries from the public.
“That’s right. What should we do, grandfather? This isn’t something that can be ignored.”
After pondering for a while, Darnic decided to despatch several of their clan’s magi who were on standby in Trifas at the moment.
“…If this really is the work of Assassin of Black, magi won’t be able to fight him at all.”
No matter how weak any Servant might be, they were all Heroic Spirits. They had reached the domain of what could be called the ultimate mysteries. Not to mention the opponent was Assassin, whose abilities were specialized in killing Masters.
“Should we not head out as well?”
Fiore’s suggestion was certainly reasonable. But it was a different story if she had to leave Trifas and go all the way to Sighișoara. Despatching Servants in this situation and weakening their defences in this situation was—
As Darnic’s thoughts had reached a dead end, he received a telepathic communication from Caster.
‘Reporting. It seems Saber of Red and her Master have left Trifas.’
‘Left… Do you know where they’ve gone to?’
‘They appear to have headed to Sighișoara. If I observe that city with my remote viewing thaumaturgy, my surveillance here will become somewhat insufficient, though… what should be done?’
‘Please keep maintaining your surveillance over Trifas as you have. But I also want information on Sighișoara to some extent. If you have the power to spare, divert it to observing Sighișoara.’
There could only be one of two reasons why Saber of Red and her Master—the bounty-hunting necromancer Shishigou Kairi—were heading to Sighișoara.
To kill Assassin of Black or to join forces with his Master. Either way, the Black camp couldn’t remain a mere spectator in this situation.
They currently had six Servants and six Masters under their control, but they could use only one Servant as a scout. From a defensive standpoint, they couldn’t send out two or more Servants.
“Archer. And Archer’s Master, Fiore. You are to head to Sighișoara. Assassin of Black… and Saber of Red are there.”
Fiore’s expression visibly stiffened faintly at the mention of Saber of Red. A clash with the Servant who was their most formidable enemy in the Great Holy Grail War. She guessed that crossing blades with her Master Shishigou Kairi would be inevitable. Hence the reason for her stiffened expression.
“…Understood. We’ll depart as soon as we finish making preparations. Let’s go, Archer.”
But though she was tense as she nodded, Fiore was not afraid. Her trust in her Servant was naturally one reason for that, but it was also because—she possessed absolute pride in her own abilities as well.
“Understood, Master. Then, Darnic-dono, please pardon us.”
Fiore exited the room with Archer, and Darnic let out a short breath.
“The world truly is beyond my control. But that’s fine. I already decided to put my life on the line to separate from the Association of Magi. An incident of this level is within my expectations.”
Naturally, Darnic had also taken into consideration the possibility that he himself would be defeated and that their clan would be destroyed. But his response to that would probably be ‘So what?’ Darnic remembered well how many clans had died out gloomily without even getting the chance to reach the Root.
They had gotten that chance. That alone was unexpected good fortune. And of course, Darnic had no intention of being defeated.