As if his mind was creaking, he saw a dream of battle.
That world was on the verge of death from the start. The malice of the rulers covered the land, and they greedily devoured the meat of the weak who were unable to even resist.
The weak could only despair. As they continued to be exploited, they eventually found a single thing to rely on—words of salvation filled with love.
Beautiful words that couldn’t be defeated by starvation, poverty or despair… But the rulers tried to take even that from them. It was no longer exploitation; it was murder.
So they rose up. Their fear of having their right to live taken away overcame their fear of dying in battle.
Among them was a young boy. No one knew whether his presence there was a coincidence or the will of God, but before anyone realized it, the boy was leading them.
Their battle should have no defeat. And no victory either.
Because by rising up, they were both losers and victors at the same time. Indeed, they had no fists to swing; all they had left was the power to rise up. However, the act of rising up itself was a necessary act. They rose up for the sake of what they believed in—that in itself was important and what they wished for. The sacrifices would be kept to a minimum, and even if several people including themselves became sacrifices, the world wouldn’t die, but would instead be reborn.
…That was how it should have been.
Even God will occasionally exercise malice due to good will. The miraculous power granted to the boy by God brought the possibility of victory that should have been impossible.
Miracles are, after all, things that only happen rarely. A miracle is a phenomenon that occurs when the heavens, earth and all people mesh together, and even then it still requires that everything be left to the roll of the dice.
Unfortunately, the boy attained victory.
Everyone went wild and became excited over the victory. They clung to the boy, who had won a battle where victory should have been impossible, as a child of miracles. That foolish purity of theirs troubled the boy.
They shouldn’t have won. Winning was not an option. He had been caught up in saving lives in the near future and averted his eyes from the bigger picture.
They may bite a cornered cat—but after being bitten, the enraged cat would retaliate by slaughtering them. That was the truth of this world.
I was naïve.
The cut-off heads of old people, the men chopped up like experimental animals, babies pierced by spears, girls violated in the pursuit of lust and then thrown away afterwards—It was truly a place worthy of being called hell. And the countless lives gathered here were not taken away by the enemy, but by the boy. He was convinced of that—and yet, that made it all the more impossible for the boy to yield and give up.
The boy, without once changing expression, accepted this result with a will of steel. He merely gazed at this scene of ruin. He revealed no resignation or sorrow and even overcame the pain of his dismembered arms.
He accepted that he had lost.
He accepted that he would die.
He accepted that the responsibility for all their deaths lay with him.
But the one thing he wouldn’t accept—was that everything would fall to ruins after this. He couldn’t accept it. After having wasted so many lives, he absolutely could not accept that nothing would be gained as a result.
So, God. Give me another chance. Next time, I won’t lose sight of the bigger picture. I will eliminate all obstacles, enemies and hardships in my way. Next time, I will obtain all the good in the world. A world where everyone is happy, everyone is good, and everyone is perfect. I will exterminate all evil and create a new, pure world.
—He saw a happy dream of prayer that mesmerized his mind.
…Shirou Kotomine awoke from a languid dream. Rather than a proper dream, he had simply dragged out faint yet nostalgic memories. He had intended to doze a bit, but it seemed he had fallen completely asleep.
“So you’re awake, Master. Rider and Archer have returned.”
Assassin of Red, Semiramis, seemed to have put his head on her lap and watched over him as he slept. It was an act truly unlike the queen.
“Guh. Why am I on your lap?”
He had no memory of doing that. He remembered lying down on the couch, but there should have been no one around then.
“I am Assassin, after all.”
She giggled in amusement. Shirou accepted with a troubled expression that laughter which had bewitched men and driven them crazy when she was alive.
“What are we going to do if someone saw us like this…?”
“Don’t worry, no one saw. Hmph, I finally did something Servant-like on a whim, so what are you dissatisfied with?”
Her expression suddenly became sulky.
“It’s because it’s embarrassing. But thank you.”
While smiling bitterly, Shirou got up from his prone position. Assassin nodded in satisfaction.
“Well said… Leaving that aside, it’s time. Everyone has gathered. Though we’ve lost Berserker.”
“…He’s not a Servant for us to worry over having lost. But he will be a bit of a nuisance if he’s turned against us as an enemy.”
“Yes, the problem is his Noble Phantasm—Crying Warmonger: Howl of the Wounded Beast.”
They both sighed. They highly valued the unequaled strength of Berserker’s Noble Phantasm in battle. But it was far too difficult to control. The only way to use it was to send him to the frontlines the instant battle started and leave him alone until he died.
Berserker’s Crying Warmonger was a Noble Phantasm that converted all damage dealt to him into prana and then released it. Since its ability was used on himself instead of the enemy, this Noble Phantasm was tentatively categorized as an Anti-Unit type, but it had substantial potential for massive destruction equivalent to an Anti-Army type Noble Phantasm.
The problem was that its range was far too extensive. If it was mistakenly used, it would definitely invite the miserable result of bringing about greater casualties on his own side.
“Fortunately, we know of his Noble Phantasm… It’s unclear to what extent he can invoke it, but any Servant will be able to sense him using it.”
At that point, they would have no choice but to run away. No matter their dispositions, no Servant enjoyed fighting on top of a bomb, and there was no need to either.
“Either way, it’s fortunate for us that the other side no longer has their Saber. It’s fine to think that the course of the Great Holy Grail War will be nearly decided through this next battle… It’s best that there be no Servants who can block the attack of our Lancer.”
As Assassin murmured that in satisfaction, Shirou frowned slightly and his expression darkened.
“Yes, it’s certainly just as you say, but…”
Shirou Kotomine was a priest despatched by the Church, and he also had the duty of being the overseer of this Great Holy Grail War. Therefore, he possessed the [spirit board] that was given to the overseer and could perfectly grasp the state of all fourteen Servants.
Incidentally, the Yggdmillennia camp had also obtained a [spirit board] through their connections. Thanks to the sub-species Holy Grail Wars, there were abundant means to purchase one.
“I’ve confirmed that Saber has died with the [spirit board], but it seems his Line hasn’t been completely cut.”
—So Shirou declared. Assassin frowned and accepted his words.
“Hoh, so he’s alive?”
“No, it shows that he’s dying. He’s probably on the verge of death; at the very least, it should be impossible for him to fight… But the fact that he’s remained in this state since last night is incomprehensible.”
In addition, he had used familiars concealed inside the bodies of homunculi within the Fortress of Millennia to eavesdrop on the Yggdmillennia Masters lamenting terribly over having lost Saber.
“Then is he simply hurt?”
“It would be good if that were it, but… In any case, we’ll send out Lancer again in the likely scenario that Saber is revived.”
After returning from his battle with Saber of Black, Lancer unusually whispered with some slight emotion, “I’d like to fight with him again.” Shirou had decided to respect his wish. In the first place, the only ones who could fight more than an even match against a formidable enemy like Saber were Lancer or Rider.
However, Rider seemed to be obsessed with facing Archer of Black.
But then, Saber of Black probably wasn’t alive anymore, and even if he were alive, he would be unable to fight while on the verge of death like this, but—
“Please don’t tell Lancer about Saber of Black. It’d be troubling if he went searching for Saber on the battlefield.”
When they arrived at the throne room, Rider and Archer were relaxing as they pleased. Rider was lying down and looking up at the ceiling, while Archer was sitting on the floor and roasting an animal she seemed to have killed herself, eating the meat on a skewer.
“Oh my, I apologize for making you both wait.”
Assassin shrugged and sighed in exasperation at Shirou’s apology.
“What are you saying, Master? By the look of things, they were just self-indulgently passing time.”
Rider and Archer turned their faces away with a “humph” at nearly the same time. It seemed the two of them had no intention of paying respect to Assassin, Queen Semiramis.
“Well, it’s fine.”
Nodding generously, she sat down on the throne. Shirou nestled up beside her as if he were her attendant.
“Where are Lancer and Caster?”
Rider responded to the question while still lying down.
“Ah… Lancer was vacantly gazing outside earlier. Caster is secluding himself in his workshop.”
“Shall I go call them?”
“Hahaha, Master. If you go to summon them, won’t it be like you’re going around running errands? I’ll call them using telepathic communication.”
She lightly waved two fingers, and soon after the throne room’s heavy doors opened.
“Lancer, I apologize for calling you here.”
In response to those words, Lancer slowly shook his head. His face was white and deadpan like always. His expression didn’t waver even a little, as if it were frozen in place.
“…I don’t mind. Did you need something?”
“I’m sorry, I’ll explain after one more person arrives.”
——————Five minutes later, the last person made his entrance, while receiving irritated looks from everyone in the room. Throwing open the door, he entered with his arms spread exaggeratedly wide and shouted loudly.
“Oh, [For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright]! [Who art as black as hell, as dark as night]!”
Assassin sighed and asked a question.
“Is that how you think of me?”
The man she asked that—Caster of Red, the monster of literature Shakespeare nodded.
“Who else could I be describing, Queen of Assyria! …No, no, sorry about that. I was in high spirits and it just came to me. I had the pleasure of writing for the first time in a while, you see. Ah, by the way, Father Shirou. Though it’s a bit sudden, there’s something I want.”
“According to the knowledge I’ve been given, there is a device that lets one type letters with just the strike of a key, is there not?”
Shirou pondered for a short while, and then struck his fist against his hand in realization.
“…Ah, you mean a computer.”
“Yes. Could you lend me the money to buy one?”
“Hmm, I don’t mind. I’ll lend you the money the day after tomorrow.”
Shakespeare nodded in satisfaction. Assassin and the others could only watch this in utter amazement.
“Caster… you haven’t forgotten about the Great Holy Grail War, right?”
“Of course not, my dear queen. There can only be one reason for us to be called and gathered like this. For war, correct? Heroes will vie for supremacy and start to kill each other to the extremes of savagery, correct? I, Caster, shall do my best—to watch it all attentively!”
“You’re not going to fight?”
“That’s right. The truth is that I’m extraordinarily inept at fighting and magecraft. [But you, gods, will give us some faults to make us men].”
Both Rider and Archer wanted to point out, “You’re Caster, right?”, but managed to control themselves. In truth, he was right; Shakespeare was a Heroic Spirit that did not commit acts of ‘battle’. His role was to record the Holy Grail War and spin the story of the hardships, despair, hope and violence of the Masters (protagonists) to accompany the tale. The narrator does not come to the front, but merely supports those who stand at the front.
…If he had been summoned in a normal Holy Grail War, as long as his Master wasn’t naturally gifted at close combat, he would have probably been destined to be defeated very early on in the war.
But fortunately for him, in a situation like the Great Holy Grail War, there was plenty of opportunity for him to play an active role. Thanks to the very unique [skill] he possessed.
“—In any case, everyone has gathered. Now that Saber of Black has fallen and our preparations are complete, the time for us to attack has come. A war with merely repeated skirmishes is not interesting, correct?”
In response to Assassin’s words, Rider and Archer grudgingly nodded. Certainly, it was just as she said. They tired of mere skirmishes.
“This war is a rare occasion. It should be conducted flashily, should it not?”
Assassin smiled sweetly as she said that.
“—No, well, that’s true. But aren’t you the one who made the preparations to expressly make this castle and barricade ourselves within it?”
Rider said that with an amazed expression, but Assassin chuckled and replied.
“Barricade ourselves? Rider, the premise of your assumption is mistaken. My Noble Phantasm Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Aerial Gardens of Vanity doesn’t exist in order to defend. It’s a Noble Phantasm for attacking.”
Rider and Archer both tilted their heads. Caster, who knew the details of this Noble Phantasm, smirked at their reactions, and Lancer remained unperturbed as always. Shirou, the only Master present here, smiled bitterly and chided Assassin.
“Assassin, please show it to us directly without that superior air of yours.”
“Very well… Master, you are also comparatively excited about this, it seems.”
“I am a man, after all.”
“I see,” Semiramis said in understanding, and then laid her hand on the huge jewel imbedded in the armrest of her throne. Instantly, the ground started shaking slightly.
The other Servants exchanged glances, wondering if it was an earthquake. The trembling gradually increased in in intensity… and then suddenly stopped.
“Fufu, go look outside.”
Following her words, everyone except her left the throne room and rushed outside. The earthquake just now had clearly been intentionally caused by Assassin. But what on earth was the reason—
Both Rider and Archer became speechless. Caster made an overly moved expression of delight and Shirou, who normally kept his expression calm as much as possible, also had unusually shining eyes of excitement. Even Lancer widened his eyes a little as he gazed down.
They were standing on a floor of stone that served as a balcony—and beneath it, there was just a wide expanse of empty air.
In other words, they were floating. Just as its name implied, this garden of vanity was hanging in midair…!
“You’re all surprised, correct? …Well, its speed is nothing to praise, though.”
There was a faint tone of pride in Assassin’s words.
The Queen of Assyria, Semiramis. Her Noble Phantasm Hanging Gardens of Babylon was a flying fortress. However, it was impossible to manifest it through prana. First, materials consisting of stone and wood from a specific region must be gathered.
Once having gathered everything she needed, a long ritual needed to be held by Assassin herself, and then it would finally be complete as a Noble Phantasm… This process stemmed from the fact that, historically, Queen Semiramis did not create the Hanging Gardens in the first place.
In reality, she had never once seen the Hanging Gardens in her lifetime. However, she knew and instinctively sensed that it had been inscribed as part of her legend. This mystery was added to her legend after her death, but people’s mental image of the Hanging Gardens being built by the world’s most ancient assassin, the legendary queen, was very strong.
The Hanging Gardens first required materials. Materials that came from this world in the present day. Wood, stone, minerals, plants and water—all from the land she once lived in.
After gathering and assembling everything together, the ritual she conducted turned the mere ‘illusion’ into reality. It was a counterfeit turned real, a Noble Phantasm that normally should be absolutely impossible to exist.
Therefore, it possessed the word [vanity] in its title. People who knew the truth could only feel a kind of scorn for it. Semiramis didn’t build the Hanging Gardens, they would say. However, vanity was not a fragile thing. No, since the materials had been gathered and the Noble Phantasm had managed to be successfully constructed, at the very least, this vanity had been turned into the truth in this day and age.
And this former illusionary garden—was far more absurd and ridiculous than the real one.
“Then, let us prepare for battle, everyone. At this speed, we have about an hour until we’re close enough that the ones barricaded in the Fortress of Millennia see us coming.”
Everyone was silent. Of course, it wasn’t that they were nervous. Due to having been given the concrete number of one hour till battle, a drunkenly high fighting spirit had simply gushed forth within them.
“Caster. Are you finished with my sword I gave you earlier?”
“Yes, it’s right here.”
Caster materialized the object from an astral state and respectfully presented it.
“What are you going to use that sword for? I don’t want to think so, but—”
Rider and Archer both wore suspicious expressions. Smiling, Shirou took the sword and pulled the blade from its scabbard. Though the basic shape was the same as a Japanese sword, it bore various aspects due to the soul of the swordsmith. If there were beautiful and lovely blades that possessed a shine worthy of being called works of art, there were also broadminded and deadly blades like the one Shirou held that specialized in cutting something.
Even from the perspective of Servants who were knowledgeable about every kind of weapon from every time and place, that blade was a great sword worthy of being called first-rate.
“I will fight in Caster’s place. Don’t worry, I’m quite knowledgeable when it comes to battle.”
But it was far too simplistic to say that he could fight equally in this battle of Servants just because he had that weapon.
“No, no, no, no, no. I won’t say anything bad, but wouldn’t it be better for you to remain holed up here like a Master should?”
“Rider is right, you know. It seems you have accumulated quite a bit of training, but you are still limited to the level of humans. If you come across an enemy Servant, it will be the end for you.”
Rider and Archer frantically tried to stop him. That was only natural; a normal Master should never head out to the front lines. Servants did not merely aim for other Servants. If the enemy Masters were a rational person, they would have their Servants kill a Master who nonchalantly came onto the battlefield. If the Master died, the countdown to their Servant’s death would begin. At the very least, it would be virtually impossible for them to fight at full power without their Master.
Moreover, this next battle would definitely be a great decisive battle in the war. It would be a large battle where not only Servants would clash against Servants, but their own pawn pieces, Dragon Tooth Warriors, would be mobilized as well.
For a mere human like him to endure in a situation like that—. At that point, Caster came between Rider and Archer as if to hold their words back and spoke to them.
“You two. I once wrote this in the past. [The better part of valor is discretion]. And I have never seen anyone with as much discretion as Father Shirou here. Furthermore!”
Acting as if in a play, he gathered everyone’s attention on the blade Shirou held.
“I have bestowed an enchantment of some note onto this blade. To be blunt, it is now equal to a C rank Noble Phantasm.”
Including Assassin, everyone besides Shirou stiffened at that proclamation. He had definitely said ‘Noble Phantasm’. A certain-kill holy relic inscribed in legend, which each Servant possessed—that was what a Noble Phantasm should be.
“…In other words, what? You created a Noble Phantasm?”
“Your special skill… is [Enchant], correct? Is it perhaps due to that skill’s ability?”
Caster answered “Precisely!” to Assassin’s question and puffed up his chest proudly.
Strictly speaking, what Caster of Red—Shakespeare—used was not formal magecraft. No matter what kind of Reinforcement magecraft was used, it shouldn’t be possible to strengthen something to the level of a Noble Phantasm.
In the first place, he hadn’t actually enchanted the blade with magecraft. While gazing at the blade he’d been given, he had merely written down how the blade was magnificently sharp and how much blood it was stained in.
But if that writing was done by this world-famous literary master, it was a different story.
In this world, there existed Conceptual Armaments—weapons that did not possess a physical power, but rather manifested an effect through a concept possessed by the item in question. Shakespeare’s texts, which he poured his soul into, were sufficient to imbue a certain-kill concept into even a pebble on the roadside.
“…Can I ask one thing? Why don’t you fight using that?”
Lancer, who had remained silent until now, asked that to Caster. His question was only natural. If he could turn an ordinary sword into a Noble Phantasm, he should be able to fight with it.
“—I can’t write about myself. That would just be an essay. Right now, I only have the ability to spin other people’s tales and cannot write anything besides that.”
Caster replied with a resolute tone. Lancer understood his words and spoke with a frown.
“So in other words, you find it troublesome.”
“Well, pretty much.”
Lancer nodded in understanding.
“…Then it can’t be helped. Your goal is to depict the stories of others instead of yourself. Regardless of whether the end of the story is ruin or tragedy, you must write it to the very end. Therefore, your goal is to survive till the very end. Fighting on the front lines is out of the question.”
Hearing those chillingly cold words—Caster smiled happily at being understood.
“Yes, that’s precisely right! I want to witness the ending of this Great Holy Grail War! I must witness it! Whether it ends in fortune or misfortune, or even a despairing truth, watching everyone’s story right till the end as a spectator is the duty that I have been charged with!”
Those were words that were impossible for a Servant summoned in a Holy Grail War. He had declared that he would watch as a spectator right till the end.
Archer and Rider didn’t know whether to be amazed or angry.
“Either way, I basically have no battle power. So I wish to entrust the role of fighting to Father Shirou here, the one who possesses the greatest fighting power among our Masters.”
“I don’t mind… With this blade, I won’t fall behind on the battlefield.”
It was just as Shirou said. At the very least, with a blade that equaled a C rank Noble Phantasm, he would have no trouble with the likes of homunculi or golems.
“No, no. My own power is trivial. It’s just that your blade was an incredibly famous sword. If not, I would not have been able to make it a Noble Phantasm as high as C rank.”
“…It’s because it was once the favored blade of a certain master swordsman.”
Shirou muttered that. His expression loosened slightly, showing a mischievous smile.
“—It can’t be helped. Master, I must control the flight of this garden, so I cannot directly go to the battlefield. I’ll support you as much as possible, but don’t get too deeply involved, okay?”
“I understand. I also understand my own abilities very well.”
Even though he said that, Shirou had no intention of slacking at all in this war. He would fight using all his power and take the Greater Grail for himself using all his power. For the sake of that, he was willing to risk his life, and even if he had to commit deeds that were far from just and good, he would do so without any hesitation.
“Now then. Though we may have our generals gathered, it’s sloppy to have zero troops. Even if the enemy has gathered only a mish-mash of homunculi and golems, they will be somewhat troublesome for us.”
It was just as Assassin said, they had no troops. Even if their Masters mobilized all their familiars, it would amount to less than ten of them. However, they had the Assyrian Queen Semiramis on their side. She could produce an inexhaustible supply of expendable pawns.
“You may use my Dragon Tooth Warriors at your own discretion. Would three thousand be enough?”
Created using dragon teeth, Dragon Tooth Warriors were disposable rank-and-file troops… However, no matter how disposable they were, three thousand was just plain abnormal.
“Well, there’s no such thing as having too much in quantity, but… even so, Assassin, isn’t making that many impossible?”
“Normally, it would be impossible. But as long as I’m within these Hanging Gardens, nothing is impossible for me.”
Assassin smiled in clear confidence at Rider’s words. Yes, even if these Hanging Gardens traveled to another country, they were always treated as her personal field. All her stats were enhanced, and it even became possible for her to use magecraft that stepped into the realms of sorcery.
Of course, it came with a price. After all, this Noble Phantasm was almost foul play. Assassin of Red was rendered nearly powerless should she leave these gardens. But these gardens were a moving stronghold. It was unlikely that she would ever choose to leave these gardens in the first place.
“Then who shall cut through the enemy vanguard?”
At Shirou’s question, Archer, Rider and Lancer exchanged glances. Caster, who had no intention of participating, acted as if it had nothing to do with him.
Lancer silently shook his head. It seemed he was saying, ‘You can go first’. Thus, Archer and Rider started glaring at each other. It seemed it couldn’t be helped that they both wanted to cut through the vanguard. Assassin shrugged as if amazed at their behavior, and Caster said, “I’ll dedicate a poem to the one who cuts through the vanguard”, pouring fuel on the fire.
“…Could you both please discuss it peacefully?”
Though it probably wasn’t because they obeyed those words, in the end, the two of them agreed to a compromise.
“I’ll cut through the vanguard.”
It seemed they decided that Rider would be their vanguard. However, Archer summoned her own weapon, a bow, and hoisted it in the air.
“But I’ll shoot the pre-emptive strike. I intended to use my Noble Phantasm from the beginning, after all.”
“Understood. Then let’s do that.”
“So this is the first time you two will be working together as a group. Shall I write a love poem, then?”
Rider’s eyes sparkled with joy at Caster’s suggestion and he responded in agreement.
“Yeah, please do.”
And Archer scowled unpleasantly.
“No, I’d prefer if you didn’t.”
Caster decided to put together both their requests and make a heartrending poem about a man with unrequited love.
Watching the exchange with a bitter smile, Shirou turned his gaze towards the Fortress of Millennia, which was starting to become visible far off in the darkness of the night.
—His heart was beating noticeably fast.
Yeah, he could tell. He could definitely tell. It was definitely there. The thing he’d sought, sought and sought for so long was in that fortress.
He couldn’t stop trembling in exaltation, and he desperately held back the corners of his mouth as they tried to loosen into a wild smile.
“—Even a man like you cannot hide your excitement when what you want is right before your eyes. You’re still a child in that regard.”
His trembling and smile ceased at the same time. Shirou silently turned his gaze to Assassin next to him with a slightly pouting look.
“No, it’s fine as long as you can hold yourself back from jumping in excitement. More importantly, Master, if you should die, I will die, and if I die, all of our plans will come to nothing. You understand that, right?”
“Yes, of course.”
Her Master calmly replied, making Assassin openly sigh.
“—Despite that, you intend to go out onto the battlefield. I can’t understand it. Right now, you are a Master who supports a Servant. Normally speaking, you’re in a position where you definitely should not step onto the battlefield. So why are you risking your life by heading to battle?”
Precisely because Assassin was his Servant, she well understood Shirou Kotomine’s true power. He wouldn’t fall behind the likes of homunculi or golems—though it was unknown how he would do if he fought a Servant.
In any case, there was no problem as long he was careful. There was no problem, but… there was still that one-in-a-million chance of something going wrong. Assassin had absolutely wanted to refuse Shirou from heading out onto the battlefield. But no matter how many times she explained her reasoning, he had stubbornly refused to listen.
Assassin had no interest in his motives and thought he might take back his previous words if push came to shove. But seeing his determination not falter even at the last moment, she couldn’t help but want to ask why he must behave so recklessly.
Shirou hesitated slightly, but as if resigning himself, he answered in a quiet voice.
“If my plan is something that goes against God, then I will definitely be struck down on this battlefield. I might have the misfortune of fighting a Servant and dying, or I might let my guard down and be killed by homunculi or golems. I might even get caught up in the blast of an ally’s Noble Phantasm.”
People die. And even Servants die. Things like good people getting caught up in something unreasonable and meeting a tragic end were everyday occurrences.
If he wasn’t in the right, then he would definitely meet his end like that.
“If that happens, I will solemnly accept my death. God couldn’t forgive me. That is something that I can’t do anything about. But if—if everything goes well.”
Assassin was overawed. It wasn’t really because Shirou did anything; he merely stopped his usual smile and directly faced Assassin.
There was no ominousness, madness, rage or hatred to be found in his eyes. Rather, they were calm like a still lake. So much so that one wouldn’t think he was someone about to head to battle—he was absolutely calm.
“Then that means God approves of my deeds. That my wish for the Greater Grail, to love… and heal all humans is just. If I can be certain of that, I will no longer waver. I will know that there is indeed worth in betraying even what should never be betrayed.”
Shirou spoke in a resolute tone. He was heading to the battlefield in order to confirm whether or not his objective was correct. To Assassin, it was nothing more than a reckless and foolish act.
But—most likely, this was something Shirou had to do. An extraordinary obsession of his that other people couldn’t understand. It was a ritual that was necessary for him to perform no matter what, in order to solidify his resolution without any doubts.
“—Hmph, honestly speaking, I can’t understand it at all.”
“I suppose not.”
Shirou smiled bitterly. She was right. Other people probably couldn’t understand the idea of heading to the battlefield where death was rampant everywhere in order to decide whether you were in the right or not.
Just when he thought she would oppose his decision, though, Assassin declared in a manner as if ordering a retainer.
“However, if you don’t do this, you won’t be able to move forward. Then it can’t be helped. I’ll allow it. Fight as you wish, but make sure you survive.”
“Thank you,” Shirou said in gratitude. Immediately after, the Hanging Gardens gently came to a halt. The Fortress of Millennia was just ahead. Between the Hanging Gardens and the fortress was a forest that spread out to both sides and a grass-covered plain in the middle of it.
In other words, this was their battlefield. The Red Servants and the Master Shirou Kotomine gathered at the prow of the Hanging Gardens.
“The other side is probably all frantic right about now.”
Archer nodded at Caster’s words. Her vision, which she had trained well as a bowman, could see to some extent the state of the fortress despite being several kilometers away and wrapped in the night’s darkness.
“Yes, no Servants have yet been sent out to intercept us. They all seem to be in a panic at our sudden appearance… They’re giving off that kind of presence.”
Perhaps due to her animal instincts, Archer seemed to be able to perceive even the presence of the humans inside the fortress.
“Then let’s use this time to line up our ‘rank-and-file soldiers’.”
Assassin waved her hand, and a giant pot that looked to be about three meters in diameter appeared floating in midair. The giant pot floated over the edge of the gardens where Assassin and the others stood, and then turned over.
At once, slightly yellowed bone fragment poured out from it to the ground below like rain. They buried into the ground and then grew out like plants, and eventually skeletal warriors with lizard like jaws were created one by one.
“…They look fragile”
Archer murmured while looking down at them.
“Yes, that’s right. They’re fragile, extremely fragile. But they’re great in numbers. Though they’re no match for Servants, they’re sufficient for fighting homunculi, and if their Caster is a small fry like our Caster, then they might be able to kill him.”
“Hahaha, how harsh. But not all the Casters in the world are superb writers like me!”
Caster calmly said that in retort. Assassin decided not to say anything else to him.
“…Hmm, the members of the Black camp have finally come out.”
No other besides Archer could yet see the members of the other side through the thick darkness. It appeared that the Yggdmillennia clan and their Servants were finally starting to act.
It was going to be completely different from the skirmishes until now. Now there was a battlefield, soldiers, weapons, commanders, a territory that needed to be captured, and most of all, a [king] that needed to be slain.
There was just a short time left until the decisive battle with the goal of complete annihilation of the other side began. The Red Servants patiently waited for the moment it started—