Thus, it was announced that the largest-scale Holy Grail War in history—the [Great Holy Grail War] was over. The Black camp had lost, and the war ended with the Red camp as the victors. Unfortunately, the Greater Grail had ceased functioning, so no wishes could be granted, but an enormous reward was given by the Association of Magi as compensation. With the Greater Grail non-functional, they couldn’t fight amongst each other either now.
The Red Masters relaxed as they pleased and soothed their fatigue from the war.
“Everyone, I truly thank you for your hard work.”
Just like when they met at the beginning, Shirou Kotomine1 presented them black tea.
“Thank you for the tea.”
The moment they put the tea to their lips, a refreshing aroma plunged inside their chests. A comfortable pleasantness that pervaded not only their lungs, but all their internal organs. Perhaps it was also because they had finished their jobs without a hitch that they felt so relaxed, to a degree they hadn’t felt since they became magi.
“This is good tea.”
“Thank you very much for the praise.”
“Shirou. Won’t you drink some?”
“No. Brewing it is my specialty, but I’m not accustomed to drinking black tea—”
Smiling wryly, he poured hot water in his own cup. So the Japanese are like that, the magi thought absentmindedly.
“Ah, I just remembered. Could you all please hand over your Command Spells?”
“Our Command Spells? Why?”
The Command Spells—were extremely—important—and necessary—in order to win—the war—
“Really now, everyone. Don’t you remember? The Great Holy Grail War is over.”
“…Now that you mention it, that’s right.”
“…Now that you mention it, that’s true.”
Yes, the Great Holy Grail War was over. When they heard that Ruler had joined the Yggdmillennia camp midway through, their sweat had turned cold, but they had somehow managed to deal with that as well thanks to Shirou’s quick-wittedness. It had truly been a hard battle. Since the preparations before the fighting—yes, it had been quite a handful since the preparations.
“I am the overseer. I must recover all of your Command Spells and have them ready for the next Holy Grail War. I apologize for the trouble.”
“It can’t be helped. There’s no use keeping them now anyway.”
“…I suppose that’s true.”
“Then how about I bill the costs and expenses to the Church? If we arrange so that I provide the money and look after the Command Spells—”
“In that case, we can agree to it, but… is that all right?”
“The one being billed is the Church, not me. Think of this as my revenge against them for pushing this important task onto a junior member like me.”
Laughter spilled from everyone at his expression, which was just like that of a mischievous boy. Though they had been wary of him at the start of the war, thinking him to be an assassin sent by the Church, he had in fact worked quite hard for them.
“We appreciate all the hard work you did as the overseer. We would also like to reward you, but—”
“Ah, please do not worry in that regard. I also received something from you all as proper compensation.”
Someone asked what it was. Shirou spoke with a small and elusive smile like always.
“That would be your rights as Masters. That is suitable as compensation, is it not?”
I see, someone said with a nod.
“Are you really fine with something like that?”
“Yes, of course. Then, I will arrange the preparations to conduct the transfer ritual. Please enjoy chatting amongst yourselves for a short while.”
“We’ll do so.”
—At last, without noticing the unnaturalness of the situation right till the very end, the magi decided to hand over ‘that’, which they should have treasured more than their lives, over to the smiling boy, free of charge.
“More importantly. How should we use the reward we received?”
“I think we should spend time relaxing and enjoying ourselves for a while. This recent job was quite hard.”
“It seems that an auction for grimoires has opened at the Clock Tower. With this reward, I’ll be able to buy at least three books that I’ve wanted for a long time.”
“I’ll use it to give a personal donation to my department. The budget has been constricted.”
“It’s no fun to use it for things related to the Association. I will…”
The war had ended. Now they just had to get their reward. Incidentally, there was one thing they just couldn’t seem to understand.
Just how exactly did we win?
Even though it was something they should definitely remember, for some reason none of them could answer that question. But it all became inconsequential to them when they drank the black tea.
Only days of peace and decadence filled their memories, and everything seemed to shine. Without glory or prestige, they merely quietly passed the time in idleness—
CHAPTER 1 END
(1) Unlike other Japanese names in the book, Shirou Kotomine is written completely in katakana and is written with his given name before his family name.