Participants in the Holy Grail War were able to see dreams. Perhaps it was due to the deep mental connection between Master and Servant.
They were able to view each other’s pasts in the form of dreams. It was a phenomenon that was widely known to have occurred in the first three Holy Grail Wars and the smaller derivative Holy Grail Wars.
—So Shishigou Kairi wasn’t surprised at all when he found himself in Britain in the far ancient past.
“…Well, this kind of thing happens too, I guess.”
This was probably his Servant Mordred’s past. When he realized it, she was already right there next to him. The sword she held was the weapon she favored in this Holy Grail War as well—Clarent: Radiant Sword of the King.
Originally, this weapon did not belong to her. It was a sword that served as the symbol of the throne, which King Arthur had obtained and stored in his armory.
Mordred had stolen it and incited a large-scale rebellion to take the title of ‘king’ for herself, and now she was tightly grasping this sword in front of King Arthur as she challenged him to a one-on-one fight.
“…In other words, this is Camlann, huh?”
Yes, this place was the hill of Camlann. The site of the final decisive battle between the rebel army led by Mordred and the regular army led by King Arthur. In this sad and gloomy war, the curtains would finally close on the brilliant knightly story of King Arthur’s legend.
Fired arrows pierced lightly-armored rank-and-file soldiers. Mordred, with her entire body clad in armor, pushed forward in defiance of all attacks.
King Arthur, who boasted of tremendous charisma, had finally managed to unify Britain. Yet in spite of that, why did so many soldiers approve of Mordred’s rebellion?
With unification close at hand, weariness of war had spread and grown rampant within the country—that was one reason.
The scandal between Queen Guinevere and the Knight of the Lake, Lancelot, who, despite being extolled as perfect, had fallen into an immoral love, had caused the king’s authority to weaken in the people’s eyes—that was also one reason.
Many knights had been gripped by both a strange fear and even disdain for their king, who was too pure and upright and never acted according to personal feelings—that was also one reason.
But there was another reason.
Seeing Mordred on the battlefield, Shishigou could understand it quite well. Her way of fighting was savage. The magnificent and gallant sword technique that other knights boasted of was like a frail twig before her style.
It was a style of killing that focused on obeying her instincts and optimized her fighting habits with the greatest efficiency.
The morale of the troops who followed her from behind was high. It was a rhythm that urged people’s instincts. Their footsteps banged loudly and grandly like large drums as they stepped forward.
—It was a calamity like that of a dragon.
Mordred was a famous knight. She had worked hard to be one and seemed to be so in reality. Still, if she had proceeded to the battlefield as a [knight], hundreds of thousands of soldiers probably wouldn’t have followed her.
Her strength was real and somehow seemed to be filled with madness. But that very madness was her most admirable and suitable trait on the battlefield.
Since she was as strong as a monster and scattered enemies like a gall of wind, her soldiers continued to follow her as if stirred by madness.
—They wanted to see how far this mad warrior could go.
A faith that went under the name ‘frenzy’. If they thought about it deeply, that was probably the only motive for the soldiers. But even if they had high morale, they were finite in numbers. One was killed, two were killed, hundreds, thousands of them died across the battlefield.
Mordred did not look back at them. Soldier—no, humans were beings that multiplied of their own accords after winning. That was how she seemed to view them.
She prioritized attacking a thick formation of enemy soldiers. When she scattered them like wood chips, she would look for another thick enemy formation and ride swiftly towards it. Enemies that faltered, enemies that resisted, enemies that ran away—she slayed them all and piled up mountains of corpses.
And as expected, Mordred paid no heed to the rank-and-file soldiers. The only one that held her interest was none other than her father—King Arthur.
“Where is King Arthur?!! Where is the King of Knights?!!”
She cried out and tore through the soldiers surrounding her by two, threefold. By challenging thick formations of the enemy, she had a high chance of treading where the king was. However, as if fate itself refused her, the two of them never encountered each other on the battlefield no matter where she went.
But—once there were no more walls to block her, fate would finally fulfill her wish. Both King Arthur’s army and Mordred’s rebel army perished almost completely, leaving corpses strewn about everywhere. As Mordred rested using her sword as a cane, King Arthur finally appeared before her.
His expression was completely tranquil, containing no pity or hatred for her. That expressionless face clearly irritated Mordred.
In any case, the two of them stood facing each other. There were no longer any living beings left to get in their way.
Mordred spread her arms wide and shouted passionately. She shouted with anger, delight and all the emotions she couldn’t help feeling.
“How’s that?! How’s that, King Arthur?! Your country ends here! It’s finished! Regardless of who wins—everything is already in ruins!”
The one who received those words was a king who looked just like a youth, with features very similar to Mordred’s.
Without caring about Mordred’s passionate words, or even responding with words of his own, the king merely lifted his sword like some sort of machine.
That was the most unacceptable response to Mordred. Howling, Mordred swung her sword.
King Arthur parried, causing sparks to scatter as the two holy swords clashed. They were both exhausted, but both fought hard as they refused to lose. But their battle would change nothing. Just as Mordred said, no matter who won, this country was quickly falling to ruins.
“You should have known this would have happened! You should have known it would end up like this! If you had just turned over the throne to me, it wouldn’t have turned out like this…!”
But even so, Mordred’s sword did not slacken.
She was born as an illegitimate son, admired her father, was rejected by him, and then hated him—and now they were trying to kill each other on the battlefield like this.
—I hate you, I hate you. I hate you, the perfect king. I hate you, who didn’t acknowledge my existence. Even though I was happy to be in your shadow. You never once turned around to face me.
—That’s why this is a natural punishment, King Arthur. I destroyed everything, everything you1 had!
“Do you hate me!? Do you hate me that much!? Did you hate me for being Morgan’s son!? Answer me… answer me, Arthur!!”
At that shout, Arthur finally responded to her as they crossed swords. In a cold, completely emotionless voice, the king pronounced his verdict.
“I have never once hated you. The reason I did not hand the throne over to you is because—”
You did not have the capacity to be a king.
It was a reply filled with [indifference]. He had merely understood Mordred’s abilities and, without the slightest bit of emotion, divulged that she didn’t have the necessary capacity.
Immediately after that, Mordred swung her sword in rage, and then, King Arthur’s holy lance Rhongomyniad pierced through her chest. No matter how tough her armor was, it amounted to nothing before that lance.
Even after being fatally wounded, Mordred mustered the last of her dying strength and finally dealt a decisive blow to King Arthur. Mordred’s helm split in two, revealing the face of a young girl that Shishigou was familiar with.
As blood dripped down from her lips, Mordred stretched out her hand to King Arthur who stood right before her eyes.
Mordred fell without touching her father. Watching steadily, King Arthur understood that he had won this battle and, without a word, turned his back to Mordred and walked away.
…After this, King Arthur was taken away by his surviving knight, Bedivere, and he had him return his sword to the lake. It was said that even after dying, he was healing his wounds in the land of fairies, Avalon.
That was how King Arthur’s legend came to an end.
Paying no attention to King Arthur as he walked away, Shishigou gazed at the fallen Mordred. He sighed and muttered to himself.
“…Damn it, what a terrible dream.”
It was so real. This dream was so lifelike he could even smell the blood on the battlefield. Mordred merely lay there with vacant eyes, her expression completely lifeless.
Yes, the current Mordred was completely a corpse. She would probably eventually be stripped of everything she had on her and rot away while devoured by insects.
King Arthur became a legend, and Mordred was remembered as the knight who tarnished that legend.
Since all the soldiers that followed her had been slain, there was no one left to remember her. That was only natural. This was a battlefield… those who lost and became bleached corpses were finished with this world.
Her passion, her keen wish was recorded nowhere and merely disappeared. Truly. Right until her last moments, she died in obscurity without even her parent turning back to look at her.
“—Ah, geez. I drew a troublesome Servant.”
There’s a limit even to compatibility, Shishigou thought. In the end, a Servant was merely a visitor from the past. Connecting with each other was important, but plunging in too deeply was out of the question. Once they got their hands on the Holy Grails, their relationship would end.
That’s why this truth was extremely irritating. A child who wished for her father’s love was the worst bad joke to Shishigou.
While waiting to wake up from the dream, Shishigou sat down beside Mordred’s corpse. And then he merely gazed aimlessly at the perished people of a ruined country.
No matter the era or nation, the scene of a country’s last moments were always the same—
Thus, morning came, and the first words that came out of Shishigou’s mouth were directed at Saber of Red and filled with ill humor.
“Geez, don’t show me strange dreams.”
“…I don’t really get it, but is that my fault?”
Even Saber of Red was wide-eyed with amazement at such an unreasonable complaint.
The place the two of them awoke in wasn’t the catacombs of Trifas. It was in the room of a small hotel in Sighișoara. Just in case, they weren’t using a room they had rented themselves, but a room they had gotten someone else to pay for using suggestion magecraft.
Having received a message from the Association of Magi, Shishigou had decided to temporarily withdraw from Trifas, where they’d been hiding, to go to Sighișoara. Famous for its historical buildings and architecture, this city appeared to be currently ruled by fear due to a serial killer that had suddenly appeared.
“…So. Why are we here?”
“Because the Association magi who were on standby here as backup have been massacred.”
The somewhat unbalanced pair drank coffee at an open terrace café under the clear autumn sky. Saber of Red turned her face away in displeasure, and Shishigou silently read the city’s local newspaper.
“Magi have been massacred… huh.”
There were no openings in Trifas for Association magi to enter the town, but the nearby city of Sighișoara was a different matter. Many magi had been stationed here as backup personnel. While their strength in battle was inferior to that of the magi hired as the Red Masters, there were countless other things they could do such as surveillance and despatching familiars.
They had diligently observed the battle between Saber of Black and Lancer of Red outside Trifas as well and had provided valuable information for Shishigou.
However, he appeared to have suddenly lost all communication with them. The Association of Magi had ordered them to give periodic reports. It was only natural to think that something abnormal had occurred.
“It’s possible that a Servant is involved. So, we were called to go and check it out since we’re acting freely on our own.”
“Soul devouring, huh… But why are they doing that here instead of Trifas?”
In order for a Servant to remain secured to this world, an enormous amount of prana is necessary. Providing that prana is the Master’s role, but second- and third-rate magi or simply ordinary people who became Masters cannot do even that. As a result, they have to attack innocent people and supplement their Servants with human souls.
It was a normal practice, but depending on the nature of the Heroic Spirit, there were Servants that would object to that method. Also, even for magi, using this method was a humiliation that was equivalent to declaring they were cornered or were a second-rate magus. There weren’t that many magi who would willingly choose to do so.
“That’s also one of the things we’ll be investigating. Maybe they didn’t want to cause a disturbance in Trifas, or—”
Shishigou spread out his newspaper and pointed at a simply drawn map. In the beginning, the murder had started at Bucharest and then gradually went north. Seeing that, Saber nodded in understanding.
“Maybe they’re devouring souls while heading towards Trifas.”
“Exactly. All the Red Servants have been gathered according to Shirou, and he said that they aren’t devouring any souls. If we trust those words, then the culprit must be the only one whose presence hasn’t been confirmed yet among the Black Servants—Assassin.”
He felt it was somewhat dangerous to trust Shirou Kotomine’s words, but he wouldn’t lie about something like this. And, of the Black Servants, the deceased Saber and the ones within the Fortress of Millennia, Lancer, Rider, Archer and Berserker, had already battled against some of the Red Servants at least once. Based on the quality of the golems they fought, Caster, who was presumed to be a golem-user, was also probably among them.
Only Assassin’s presence hadn’t been confirmed. Of course, with Assassin’s class skill, [Presence Concealment], the possibility that the Servant was on standby in the Fortress of Millennia couldn’t be discarded, but…
In any case, they had to obtain confirmation. If the serial killer was a Servant, he would have Saber fight them. Even if that wasn’t the case, the serial killer was an enemy due to having killed the magi despatched by the Association. They should try to get rid of any future worries as much as possible.
“It’s fine if it’s a Servant… So, what do we do?”
“We’ll wait until night. In the meantime, I intend to go look at the corpses of the dead magi at the morgue.”
“Hmm. And me?”
“Of course I’d be grateful if you accompanied me. But it’s daytime, so I won’t force you. It’s a waste, but if I judge that I’m in a dangerous situation, I’ll immediately summon you with a Command Spell.”
However, Shishigou didn’t think he’d have to use a Command Spell anyway. All the incidents happened at night. Perhaps the serial killer was protecting the war’s minimum rule of not acting during the day, or perhaps there was a reason why the culprit had to kill at night. Either way, the chances of being attacked during the daytime were so low that he could ignore the danger. So he essentially intended to treat this as free time.
“Who would go to a gloomy place like a morgue? Now, what should I do…?”
Saber apparently decided to stroll around the streets. Fortunately, Sighișoara was one of Romania’s tourist spots, with buildings that boasted of hundreds of years of history and were preserved even to this day. There was no way anyone would get tired of—no, wait.
After he parted with her and was in the midst of heading to the morgue, Shishigou realized a crucial point. She was a Servant, a person who had lived in the far past.
“Now that I think about it, there’s no way she hasn’t seen such things before.”
Even if people said the buildings had a ‘Middle Ages’ look, she had lived in that very era.
Shishigou predicted that, at first, Saber would wander through the streets expecting to see new and curious things, but gradually notice and mutter to herself, “Huh, there’s not much difference from the era I lived in?”, and then immediately become displeased and kill time while sulking—
“It was so boring…”
Shishigou and Saber met back up when the sun started to set. With a truly disappointed expression, Saber voraciously ate a massive quantity of baked sweets she appeared to have bought at a street stall half out of despair.
“…I thought so.”
“Even though I wanted to see skyscrapers, there weren’t any at all. The buildings that tourists gathered around had nothing strange about them at all… Damn it, I wasted my time feeling out of place.”
“…I thought so.”
“After this, I can’t calm down unless I fight a Servant! So, how did things go on your end?”
“Rejoice, Saber. I have good news for you. I checked the dead bodies, but they really were in a horrible state.”
Shishigou said that happily, and Saber squinted at him suspiciously.
“What does that mean?”
“Some of them were attacked with edged tools and blunt weapons… or others with punches and kicks. There’s evidence that some of the victims used guns or magecraft. And almost all of them had their hearts gouged out.”
“The place where the spiritual core is located for a Servant, and the internal organ said to be the source of life for humans. They might have been eaten in a ritual in order to obtain prana.”
Saber thought about it for a short while, and then muttered to herself.
“…Were they eaten raw?”
“Don’t say such unpleasant things… I’d find it scarier if they were eaten cooked.”
To eat the heart raw was to use it for a ritual, but to cook and then eat it meant the act was a hobby. Of the two, the people who did the latter were more terrifying.
“In any case, I hope that it’s a Servant we’re after. I won’t forgive you if you’re wrong.”
“I’ll face the Master. That guy is also completely breaking the universal rule of magi of hiding their mysteries…”
Articles in the newspapers were already showily declaring, “Jack the Ripper reborn in Romania”, and the entire country was gripped with fear. No matter how Shishigou thought about it, he could only think that a magus who would leave this situation alone had gone completely insane.
Even though nighttime had only just descended in Sighișoara, both the tourists and local inhabitants were already taking refuge in the safety of their homes.
“Did you find anywhere suitable when you were wandering around?”
Shishigou nodded. The people who had become victims had at first been hoodlums and gangster, and it was conjectured that the serial killer had broken into the buildings where they gathered and massacred them. However, after that—just after Association magi had been despatched to Sighișoara as rear backup, it appeared that the killer’s aim had narrowed down to only them.
In other words, it was fine to think that there was a high chance that the killer would aim for Shishigou Kairi next, as he was now the only magus in Sighișoara.
“Saber, just in case, change into your armor. The enemy is Assassin. You might not have time to change your clothes if you receive a surprise attack.”
She nodded at his words and clad her entire body in her steel armor. Fortunately, due to the effect of the incidents, they were the only ones walking down the road at night. They might pass by vigilant policemen, but they could simply deceive them with suggestion magecraft then.
“All right… let’s go.”
Thus, the magus and Servant began boldly walking down the street, using themselves as bait.
(1) Here, Mordred repeatedly uses three different versions of ‘you’ for emphasis, some of which are a bit derogatory, but since it can’t really be properly translated with the meaning intact, I left it as a single ‘you’ here.