—Now that she thought about it, she had felt that something was ‘wrong’ from the beginning.
A large battle consisting of seven Servants versus seven Servants. It was true that this was a state of emergency that warranted summoning Ruler.
But Ruler couldn’t help but feel that this wasn’t the true objective assigned to her.
Something inside her chest was urging her on. It was closer to a sense of impending danger than a sense of duty.
Something that couldn’t be undone was occurring. The instant she saw that giant floating fortress, Ruler’s uneasiness reached its peak.
Most likely, a large-scale battle was about to start between the Black and Red camps. Ruler would be fine with whichever of them won as long as they asked a correct and proper wish of the Holy Grail. At first, she had felt relieved on this point.
That was because the Masters in both camps were magi. Magi may be those who are disconnected from human morals, but at the same time they wouldn’t try to grant a purely corrupt wish. The only thing they would wish for is to reach the Root, or perhaps something else related to magecraft—but regardless, almost everything they might possibly wish for was right and proper.
However, she felt doubts start to form inside her when the Red camp attacked her. The way the Black camp tried to bring her over to their side was fine. That was, in the end, only an act for the sake of achieving victory in the Great Holy Grail War.
The problem was the Red camp. Ruler could not think of any reason for why they would attempt to kill her. The demerits of it exceeded the merits. And now the Red camp was attacking the Fortress of Millennia, the stronghold of the Black camp, with a floating fortress.
Ruler had crossed the mountain along with Sieg and took a roundabout path around the fortress’ outer circumference. When they came out from the forest where Rider and Archer of Red had trespassed and fought a fierce battle, they arrived in the middle of the battle. Homunculi and golems were clashing against Dragon Tooth Warriors, and were performing the gruesome act of killing each other. Spells exploded like cannon fire here and there, while battles between what seemed to be Servants were quickly changing the surrounding area into empty plots of land.
While gazing upon this gruesome battlefield, Ruler focused on the floating fortress that likely belonged to the Red camp… That thing was far too abnormal even among the many Holy Grail Wars that had occurred in history. The ability to fly itself was a simple piece of magecraft that even ordinary magi could use, let alone Servants.
But that thing—was on an entirely different level. There weren’t many who were capable of accomplishing feats on such a scale even among magi from the Age of Gods.
“Listen well, Sieg-kun. From here on, I have to cross this battlefield and meet with ‘someone’ from the other camp.”
“There’s ‘someone’ I need to meet on this battlefield. I don’t know who it is, or even whether it’s a Servant, Master or someone else entirely. But I must meet with them.”
Though the homunculus tilted his head in puzzlement, there was a mysteriously strong persuasiveness in Ruler’s words. It wasn’t because her tone was filled with confidence; rather, she was whispering to him quite anxiously. And yet, he still caught a glimpse of a strong will in her that wouldn’t be stopped no matter what.
“I see,” the homunculus said in understanding. The reason she had been idolized and followed by soldiers in the past wasn’t because she displayed a strong will with strong words. Her words weren’t for the sake of coercing others.
Her words were simply for the sake of communicating her will, saying [I’m going].
“I think that’s dangerous, but if that’s your will, it can’t be helped.”
Saying that, he placed a hand on the hilt of his sword without hesitation. It was, in other words, a declaration of his intention to go with her as well. Even if they had only known each other for a short time, he had quickly come to understand Ruler. The homunculus who had given himself the name Sieg had the kind of personality where, after deciding something even once, he would follow through with his decision till the very end.
If she told him to not come and went off by herself… he would probably just follow after her even so. That would be dangerous. He would definitely be viewed as an enemy by the Red camp. And there was no way to know whether or not the magi of the Black camp might react if they saw him as well.
But Sieg had a different objective from her on this battlefield.
“What do you intend to do?”
“Leaving aside my comrades who are fighting on the front lines, I might have a chance at having a short talk with the others who are on stand-by in the rear. Depending on the situation, I intend to talk with them and ask for the release of the other homunculi within the castle. After that—”
Sieg cast his eyes down apologetically and murmured.
“…No, I’d like to meet with Rider, but there’s no telling whether or not we’d be able to meet. Meeting him in this situation would also cause him too much trouble.”
“I don’t think she1 would be troubled by it, though…”
Either way, Ruler judged that having Sieg accompany her was the most appropriate course of action.
“In any case, please come with me then. But… listen, at least avoid fighting any Servants, okay? If you run into trouble with any magi of the Black camp, use my name. If you do that, you might be able to avoid being immediately executed by them.”
—At that instant, she could somehow intuitively tell that her decision was truly correct under God’s will. That was how deeply she felt doubts carved within her heart. Just what could a mere homunculus like him do on a battlefield ruled by Servants? …He could never become a swordsman like Saber just by having a sword. But she didn’t have the time and liberty to wrack her brain over his fate.
Because right now, she had to plunge into this chaotic battlefield and search for something fatally dangerous.
Lightly slapping her cheeks with her hands, Ruler summoned a flag into her hand and grasped it tightly. It was a battle flag, the holy flag that had always been by her side in life. “Don’t fall behind,” she whispered to Sieg over her shoulder.
“—Then, let’s go!”
Ruler charged onto the battlefield. Sieg also ran after her from right behind her.
An absurd number of Dragon Tooth soldiers immediately rushed at them. Going as far as to even ignore the homunculi and golems they were fighting, the Dragon Tooth Warriors all focused on Ruler.
“Just like I thought…!”
Ruler swung the flag with her hand and smashed the Dragon Tooth Warriors with it one by one. Ruler’s basic motto was to avoid doing anything that directly affected the course of the Holy Grail War, but she couldn’t just stand by and do nothing if they openly treated her as an enemy.
Along with a sharp yell that seemed to cut through the battlefield, Ruler dashed towards the location of her objective.
(1) No, it’s not a mistake: Ruler actually does refer to Rider of Black as a “she” here. It hasn’t been apparent in the translation due to language differences like how English does not give gender to the second-person pronoun “you” unlike how Japanese sometimes does so, but Ruler has actually always referred to Rider as a girl. This has many implications and brings in a ton of confusion, but since the issue of Astolfo’s gender is pretty much one of the big tropes of Fate/Apocrypha (highlighted by how his gender is even listed as “Le Secret♪” in his Servant profile), I’m just going to keep calling him “him” except when the text implicitly writes otherwise, just to keep things consistent.