Berserker of Black, Frankenstein, didn’t show it much in her expression, but she was troubled.
Obeying her orders, she had at first prowled the battlefield looking for enemy Servants, and she had leapt into the forest after seeing a human figure there, but what she found there wasn’t a Servant, but instead—
“It seems you’re my opponent, Frankenstein. The sorrowful monster created by humans in pursuit of an ideal. In a certain sense, you are both a turning point and a midway being that should be aimed for.”
The one who whispered those strange words as if subtly mistaking the situation was a human. He didn’t seem to be a Servant. But was the man before her eyes really a human being?
For some reason, Berserker of Black’s intuitive perception was vague on that point.
Dragon Tooth Warriors were attacking her, but she dealt with them easily. On the other hand, since they never laid a hand on the man in front of her, she was able to comprehend that he was on the enemy side.
But even so. Why did he know her true name?
Just like how her Master Caules had been surprised, Frankenstein was generally recorded as being male, and a huge man who could stab the clouds at that. So it shouldn’t be possible for anyone to guess her identity based on her appearance.
…Had he met her during her lifetime?
That was also impossible. She was a young Heroic Spirit who had been born right at the very end of the era when mysteries could still come into existence. There were few people who had lived in the same era as her that could have become Heroic Spirits, and even if there were, she had never chanced upon meeting any of them.
So did someone expose her true name to the enemy…?
“Yes, you truly are distinct. Though a Berserker, you retain a certain degree of higher-order thought. Truly a modern Heroic Spirit.”
While giving a carefree smile, the man held out his hand to Berserker.
“I know and understand you quite well. How about it? Would you be interested in coming over to our side to replace Berserker of Red?”
At those words, Berserker became filled with wariness and growled menacingly. The man let his hand fall back down with a bitter smile.
“That’s useless, my Master.”
Berserker’s wariness increased further. Behind the man, this time someone who was clearly a Servant appeared. There was a thin amount of prana being emitted from him—and his clothing was hardly suited for a battle. Was this the enemy Caster?
“Oh my, how rude. I have no intention to fight in the least. The one who will fight is this Master here. I merely watch over and support him.”
Saying such a thing that was unbecoming of a Servant—he took one step back as if to use the Master as a shield. There was no sign of him using any magecraft to attack. Unbelievably, it seemed this Master… truly intended to fight her one-on-one.
“That’s right. The one to fight will be I, Shirou Kotomine.”
The instant he let his arms dangle at his side, [hilts] appeared between each of his fingers. Berserker couldn’t tell what kind of weapons they were with her scarce knowledge.
But those who had seen them before would probably immediately recognize them. They were Conceptual Armaments that dispensed purification and took the form of blades compiled out of prana, known as [Black Keys].
“—If you ever feel like coming over to our side, please feel free to accept my offer at any time.”
Saying that with a smile, Shirou launched the Black Keys.
While leaping backwards, Berserker swatted the Black Keys with her weapon, the [Bridal Chest].
With that, her mind was settled. No matter the circumstances, this Master was facing her as an enemy. Regardless of whether it was a trap or not, she didn’t think it would handicap her too much in this situation. Of course, she made sure to never to let herself lower her guard against the nearby materialized Caster. Even then, she didn’t think she was at a disadvantage.
Berserker did a complete spin and then plunged forward at full speed. Four more Black Keys were thrown from the man’s hands. They moved at a splendid speed for weapons thrown by a human, and if she were attacked by them with her guard down, she would probably be skewered.
But there was no point in throwing them at her right from the front with such unrefined skill. She repelled them once more and advanced further forward.
“—As expected of a hero like you.”
He praised her with a relaxed expression. Irritation slightly gushed forth in Berserker’s mind. Let’s test out whether he would continue acting composed like this even after she smashed that face of his—!
Instantly, impacts like lightning strikes ran through her surroundings. She immediately turned herself along with her [Bridal Chest] around 380 degrees—the Black Keys she should have repelled had returned, aiming at her once again. It seemed such a spell had been inserted into the hilts beforehand.
Was Shirou’s murmur directed at himself? Or—were those words directed at her for knocking them down in a disappointing manner?
It makes no difference, Berserker thought, instantly discarding that train of thought. From the beginning, she couldn’t put up with complex thoughts for long periods of time. She just thoroughly, determinedly and honestly advanced forward…!
“Now then. Caster, I’ll use it now.”
Shirou said that and held out his hand in the air. Suddenly, his personal weapon was summoned into his hand with a burst of prana. As Berserker charged, her gaze focused on the Japanese blade stored in an iron scabbard. At the same time, she felt unbelievable shock. With an enormous amount of prana converging within it, that blade was clearly—a Noble Phantasm!
“Yes, yes. Please go ahead! Use it to your heart’s content! Like a tempest accompanied by raging flames! Like a torrential rain accompanied by lightning! The eternally continuing story begins now!”
Along with Caster’s excited shout, Shirou ran forward. He instantly pulled out the sword from the scabbard in his left hand, sunk into a deep posture and thrust the blade forward.
Caught off guard as she charged, Berserker had a patch of skin torn off from her body. That fact made her truly realize that the blade he held was no ordinary object. There weren’t many weapons that could wound a Servant’s body.
Berserker swung her mace. It turned into a frantic dance of slashes and strikes. A normal sword would probably break or bend if it received a direct hit from her mace, but the blade did not receive a single scratch no matter how many blows were exchanged.
He didn’t fight with artistic skill and talent. Shirou’s sword technique was almost average. He was above the level of a rank-and-file warrior, but he was far from being a master. But in that case, why were he and Berserker even with each other as they exchanged blows?
…It’s true that Berserker wasn’t a Heroic Spirit who had won fame as an embodiment of martial prowess. She was a being that fought ferociously and brutally as a Heroic Spirit due to her origins. But even so, her basic specs were exceptional. Able to create an infinite cycle by reproducing a pseudo-Type II Perpetual Motion Machine, she could continue moving at full power in any kind of situation. She would never run out of breath and tire, unlike a human. She would continue hitting perpetually without breathing until the enemy fell—that was precisely why she was given the title of the mad warrior Berserker.
Yes, any being who was able exchange blows with that Perpetual Motion Machine head-on could not be called ‘human’. Of course, since this man was the mediator sent from the Church, he had to be human, and it would be natural to simply say he had accumulated a lot of training.
But even so, the power he displayed stood out too much. Berserker felt a feeling of unease settle in the pit of her stomach.
She brandished her mace and instantly swung it down—but he dodged it. If it was that alone, it would have been fine. It wasn’t an unavoidable attack for one who had reached the peak in the domain of magecraft. The problem was how he dodged it. Someone who could give faint smile in this situation, without caring about the fact that her mace, which could crush and knock off his head like a tomato, had just passed in front of his nose by a literally paper-thin distance of only a few milimeters, wasn’t human.
I don’t like that smile, Berserker thought. I don’t like those eyes, Berserker thought. But most of all—I can’t stand his existence!
Shirou widened the distance between them with a single jump backwards. He gripped his blade in one hand and held Black Keys in the other.
The mad artificial human pushed through the rain of thrown Black Keys without the slightest hesitation.
(1) Here, it says “Set” in furigana while the text beneath it roughly reads as “I announce”.