It was an impact so strong that every Servant on the battlefield sensed it and froze. Just when it seemed that the abundant prana dispersed as if having exploded, a tremendous ‘something’ was born.
Rider of Red and Archer of Black, who were facing each other intensely, put a temporary hold to their battle and ran out of the forest—
Caster of Black suspended his control over the golems.
Lancer of Black and Lancer of Red turned their gaze to the ‘something’ even while remaining cautious of each other.
Archer of Red stopped running and looked at the ‘something’ with a dumbfounded expression.
Caster and Assassin of Red were unable to hide their shock either.
Even Berserker of Red stopped moving for an instant.
Saber of Red, even while doubting what had happened before her very eyes, sent an urgent telepathic communication to her Master.
‘Let me confirm. All the Black Servants have been summoned already, right!?’
‘They should be.’
‘…Then who’s this guy standing in front of me!?’
‘…I’m looking at him from the eyes of an owl, but he seems to be a Servant.’
‘As far as I can see, he isn’t Archer, Lancer, Rider, Berserker, Caster, or let alone Assassin. He’s a Saber, the same Saber class as me. What’s the meaning of this…!?’
‘Hmm. Well, this is the Great Holy Grail War. Such things also happen.’
Shishigou said that in a light tone, and continued speaking without giving the confused Saber any time to give a rebuttal.
‘Go and crush him. I’ve finished healing almost all of your wounds. Even if your opponent is a Saber, he’s irregular… A normal Servant shouldn’t lose against an abnormal one. Right?’
Understanding his words, Saber of Red discarded her doubts. She spoke in a light tone that matched Shishigou’s.
‘…I somehow feel like you’re smoothly taunting me, though.’
‘What, I don’t really mind if you retreat. You should do what you want. What, do you want to retreat? Then shall I use another Command Spell to get you out of there?’
‘—Ah, damn it. You’re taunting me, you’re definitely taunting me! But I’ll do it! I’ll do it. If my father was here, he definitely wouldn’t choose to retreat!’
Saber of Red swung her silver sword, clustering her uplifted battle spirit—and advanced forward to attack the man who looked like Saber of Black.
And meanwhile, Rider of Black, most likely the only one on this battlefield who understood everything, desperately tried to hold back tears at the corners of his eyes. But he couldn’t stop himself, and so he quietly wept.
That wasn’t Saber of Black. Saber had definitely vanished back then.
Then who was that standing there? Who was that facing Saber of Red and gripping a sword in his hands?
It was obvious; he could only be one person. Rider of Black didn’t know how such an astounding thing had happened, and he didn’t care how either.
Rider simply regretted that ‘he’ hadn’t chosen a peaceful life, and cried at the path of hardship ‘he’ had chosen instead. In life, Rider had never once lamented his own weakness. But right now, he lamented. His weakness, his words and deeds, his decisions had led ‘him’ astray here.
In truth, Rider of Black didn’t have something that could be called a wish to make upon the Holy Grail. ‘Maybe I should ask to be incarnated so that I can enjoy a second life’—that was all he thought of wishing for, at best. Therefore, if any of the other Black Servants had an extremely serious wish, he had thought he would happily turn the Grail over to them.
But now it was different. He had a wish he wanted to cling to even if he had to defeat the others. He wanted to save ‘him’. He wanted to save the boy who had desperately whispered [Help me] in a hoarse voice.
But he wasn’t able to. A lonely sorrow painfully gripped Rider of Black.
With a calm attitude, Saber of Red took a step forward to attack. Saber of Black gripped his sword and chose to fight her. But his gaze lay on Rider of Black where he rested at Saber of Red’s feet.
“—Are you okay?”
He seems well, Sieg, who had become Saber of Black, thought with relief. Now he just had to defeat Saber with this Saber’s power.
“…Yo, fake Saber.”
Saber of Red’s snickered beneath her helmet. Sieg, even though he felt the same heavy pressure from her as before, realized that he wasn’t afraid. In spite of being hit by a fighting spirit that even seemed to have its own mass, his mind didn’t waver at all.
“It’s true that I’m a fake just as you say. But this sword and this power are beyond a doubt the real thing. There is nothing insufficient for me to be your opponent. If anything is insufficient, it’s only my spirit.”
“Is that so? Then—how about I test it out!”
In an instant, Saber of Red closed the distance between them. With steps so nimble it was hard to believe considering her extremely heavy-built armor, she tried to slash Sieg diagonally from the shoulder down.
That wild yet precise and peerless attack was truly worthy of the name of a hero. So, if he could parry this attack, she would regard him as a Servant—Saber of Red swung her sword with such thoughts.
Sieg didn’t parry it, nor evade or sidestep it. Amazingly, he took a step forward and blocked it by holding out his gauntlet.
Saber of Red widened her eyes in shock. What was that frighteningly strong toughness just now? Even a Servant’s armor shouldn’t be strong enough to remain uncut after receiving her slash.
No, her blade had cut through the gauntlet and reached his skin. But what she couldn’t cut through wasn’t the gauntlet, but the skin. Unbelievably, Saber of Black’s skin was tougher than steel…!
Even Saber of Red, who had anticipated all his possible actions, needed a little time to recover from that shock. Even though her instincts warned her, her body couldn’t react in that instant.
It was unfortunate that Saber of Black had to block the sword with one hand in order to create that opening in Saber’s guard. Even if he used his full strength, a one-handed sword slash was slightly inferior in power compared to a two-handed slash.
Even so, the impact was enormous. As Saber of Red stumbled backwards in retreat, Saber of Black swung his blade in pursuit of her.
The ringing of blades resounded and blood danced through the air. Saber of Black was easily brandishing that huge sword. No, he wasn’t simply swinging it with all his might. There was technique in his swings. The instant the two blade edges touched, his sword coiled around the other blade like a snake.
Saber of Red’s sword was on the verge of being knocked away skywards. She immediately put strength into her hands holding the sword hilt and stopped it from happening. But her torso had once more become open—and Saber of Black didn’t miss that opening.
His next attack was a fully-powered horizontal swing with both his hands gripping his sword.
With her full-body armor unable to absorb the impact, Saber of Red couldn’t brace herself and was sent flying far away.
Even as she slid across the ground, Saber of Red somehow managed to fix her posture and stand back up. But she was hit by a sharp pain, and she pressed a hand to her abdomen while groaning.
“…Ah, damn it. He really is a Servant, that bastard.”
Saber of Black’s slash had been quite skillful and clever. It was an attack that hadn’t simply relied on power like Berserker’s had, but instead efficiently destroyed a person’s body without any emotion at all. And the way he had flicked away her weapon as a lead up to his attack was also excellent.
In other words, he wasn’t simply wearing the shell of Saber of Black. It was obvious that he had inherited even the hero’s abundant accumulated battle experience.
The exceptional battle sense that Servants possessed—especially those of the most powerful Saber class—this homunculus did indeed possess it!
Suddenly the pain in her flank vanished—her Master had applied healing magecraft. It appeared he had gotten close enough on the battlefield to watch her battle. He was mostly like hiding somewhere on the battlefield. Though she had no idea how he could hide anywhere with that huge body of his.
‘Hey, Master. Be careful, if you approach too close…’
‘Well, I know, but I can react more quickly if I watch with my own eyes than if I rely on the danger sense from the Line that connects us… Well, I also honestly want to run away, though.’
He was leaking out idle complaints. Saber of Red imperiously stomped on the ground as if he were grumbling right beside her.
‘Hey, Master. Do you have so little faith in me!?’
‘I mean, after all, Saber of Black—is strong, you know?’
Shishigou smoothly spoke the harsh truth. Faced with that unhesitating answer, Saber of Red was more speechless than angry.
‘By my rough assessment, he’s almost even with you in terms of stats. To make it worse, he has some kind of troublesome special defensive-type Noble Phantasm or skill. In other words, he’s better than you in terms of defence in a straight up match.’
Shishigou indifferently spoke the facts and the things he had gleamed from them.
‘…Yeah, even though I cut through his gauntlet, his skin blocked my blade.’
That was abnormal. Something had clearly obstructed her blade. It couldn’t be some spell by a Master. She was able to normally cut through his armor, so in other words, there must be some secret to that body of his.
‘There are a lot of heroes throughout the world who are said to be immortal and invulnerable. But there aren’t that many heroes who actually have immortal bodies. There should be a stipulation of [However, there is one exception] in all legends of immortality.’
‘Heh… So, what’s his weak point?’
‘Well, you’re going to have to do your best to find that out!’
‘Shit, I knew it was going to be that way!’
‘But let me give you a proposal, from a Master to his Servant. How about I strengthen you with a Command Spell for as long as you’re fighting Saber of Black?’
Shishigou’s proposal slightly deviated from the proper way to use a Command Spell. Normally, a Command Spell was used in a more narrowly defined way. For example, a spatial jump equivalent to sorcery, or an impossibly precise attack aimed at a single exact point. If not used in such precisely defined ways, the binding force of the Command Spell would weaken.
Using the Command Spell in the way Shishigou proposed would probably raise Saber’s power to its max, but that was all. However—
‘No, that’s an excellent idea, Master. With that, my slashes will cut through him. I swear this upon the name of Saber.’
Saber of Red’s instincts whispered to her. It wasn’t that her slash just now didn’t receive any feedback or was obstructed by another power. The target was purely hard and sturdy. In that case, if she continuously used attacks that were stronger than the one just now, she was confident that she would cut through. If the back-up from the Command Spell was narrowed down to her battle with Saber of Black on this battlefield, it definitely shouldn’t be a foolish plan.
‘I see, then… I’ll believe in you, Saber.’
I’ll believe in you—Just by hearing those words, the anger she had felt towards him earlier was completely blown away and an uplifting feeling swelled up in her chest. She was amazed at her own simplicity, but right now, it was pleasant.
‘Yeah… yeah! Understood, Master.’
‘I order my swordsman with a Command Spell. Use all your power to defeat Saber of Black on this battlefield!’
An abundant amount of prana surged through the Line connecting them. It was taken into her body at its terminus, and flowed throughout her entire body through her Magic Circuits—
‘That wish shall be granted! In the name of Saber of Red and of Mordred, I will definitely defeat Saber of Black!’
Instantly, Saber released and emitted her prana. Her appearance was just like that of a steam locomotive in human form. While fiercely emitting the steam known as prana, she readied her sword. She had no fear; there was only a pure and immaculate fighting spirit.
Words were unnecessary after that. There was no room for negotiation between the Servants of Black and Red. Sieg had made a choice and Saber of Red had responded to it.
“—Here I come, Saber of Black.”
In response to the silver Saber’s words, the gold Saber replied.
“—Come, Saber of Rot1.”
There was no doubt or hesitation. Fear was overcome and killing intent was respectively reacted to. Reward was unnecessary and praise was needless. Each simply following their own choices, they gripped their respective swords with both hands—and began running at each other.
A bullet charge accomplished through the skill [Prana Burst]. With even more power added to it due to a Command Spell, Saber of Red’s attack was truly as fast as a comet dashing across the earth. Sieg—Saber of Black understood that he couldn’t win with speed after getting a late start, and he moved to meet her attack.
The bullet and guillotine collided head on. Petals of flames colored over the two of them. A thunderous roar rang through the battlefield with every clash within the maddeningly chaotic hurricane of weapons.
“Hah. Your slashes are pathetic, Saber of Black…!”
And then their swords clashed for the thirteenth time in this exchange. The two swords entangled with each other and they proceeded to a contest of pure physical strength. As such, naturally—Saber of Red, with both her Prana Burst and the boost from a Command Spell, was stronger.
Howling, Saber of Red forcibly pushed back Saber of Black. The distance them widened—and Saber of Red thrust her sword out with a fearless smile.
“And you call yourself ‘Saber’, one who ought to be the greatest amongst all Servants? What a disappointment. Or perhaps this is as far as a fake can go?”
Remaining silent, Saber of Black stood back up. The damage he had received… wasn’t much, Saber of Red judged. As expected, his sturdiness wasn’t normal. She had to absolutely kill him here—Saber of Red hardened her resolve to do that.
“—O sword, let thee fill.”
Saber of Black began the steps to unleash his sword. Orange light like a twilight-colored aurora borealis came out from the sword and began to dazzlingly illuminate his face.
He had activated the ace in the hole that all Servants had—his Noble Phantasm.
“So you’re releasing your Noble Phantasm… Hah, that’s fine with me!”
‘Go ahead, Saber. Show me your trump card Noble Phantasm!’
Not even voicing any disapproval, her Master gave his permission for her to use it.
“—Well then, seeing as my Master has given me permission, allow me to respond in kind with my own Noble Phantasm!”
At the same time as Saber of Red readied her sword, her helmet’s function as a Noble Phantasm was deactivated and it was stored away within her armor. It was said that the King of Knights from Britain, Arthur Pendragon, hadn’t aged during his kingship…and had remained the same fair-looking boy as he’d been when he pulled out the sword.
Then it was only natural that his child, Mordred—also had the appearance of a delicate and even lovely-looking girl.
However, her girlish outward appearance couldn’t completely hide her Berserker-like brutal personality. Her green eyes brimmed full of intoxication with violence.
At the same time as she removed her helmet, her sword also underwent a transformation. The silver blade was dyed crimson, and its form began to distort. As violent and furious sounds rang out from it, red lightning flickered through the sword’s surroundings.
This phenomenon wasn’t this sword’s original nature. The proof of kingship that King Arthur had obtained and kept stored away, Clarent: Radiant Sword of the King—the sword that Mordred had stolen and used to deal a fatal wound to King Arthur.
Its transformation into an evil sword was due to that episode in her legend. When Mordred held this sword, the sword of the king transformed into an evil sword of hatred.
“It is time for your execution. Come, meet an end worthy of an imitation, Saber of Black—!”
The overwhelming vortex of prana trampled the surrounding wreckage on the battlefield and rejected anything that lived. It became like this just by having the two of them begin preparing the release of their Noble Phantasms.
“…Here I come.”
Saber of Black merely muttered that quietly.
Two heroes, who had come from the Age of Gods to the present day, who should never have crossed paths. At last, they revealed their ‘certain-kill attacks’.
“Clarent Blood Arthur: Rebellion Against My Beautiful Father!!”
Saber of Red howled in rage.
“Balmung: Phantasmal Greatsword, Felling of the Sky Demon!!”
Saber of Black roared.
The orange light rose like a tide, and the red lightning plunged forward. The shining lights clashed and caused frighteningly strong raging winds with ground zero at its center.
It was like a high-pressure tornado. It engulfed the surroundings and simply continued destroying everything in its path. Not even a single piece of rubble was left behind.
—And also. In the clash between Noble Phantasms, Saber of Red was slightly superior.
Between Saber of Black’s Noble Phantasm, which destroyed the entire surrounding area in a wave, and Saber of Red’s Noble Phantasm, which destroyed all existing material in its path in a straight line, Saber of Red’s Noble Phantasm had the advantage in terms of their respective natures.
Saber of Black fell down to one knee—and Saber of Red went into a fit of rage.
“Why are you still alive…!?”
Yes. To Saber of Red, the fact that he was still alive in the first place was in itself a problem.
To Mordred, Clarent was a weapon that possessed curse-like glory. She wouldn’t permit herself to be defeated by anyone except her father, and even more, she wouldn’t allow for this sword, which had delivered a fatal blow to her father, to fail to finish killing anyone.
“Do not dare move, Saber of Black. I, and nobody else, will be the one to kill you…!”
But there was another big reason that made it worth killing Saber of Black here and now.
When their Noble Phantasms clashed, Saber of Red had noticed it. Saber of Black still wasn’t in his normal condition at full power. In the first place, he had become a Servant through a ridiculous miracle by transforming with a Command Spell.
Indeed, his power was definitely equal to that of Saber of Black’s, and he certainly had all of his battle experience as well.
But, it still didn’t reach his mind and spirit. He was disconcerted by the act of swinging a sword. As a result, she was able to stay one step above him in everything during this battle—this time, that is.
And also, without a doubt, this was the homunculus’ first battle with the body of Saber of Black.
Her instincts whispered to her. She had to defeat him in this first battle while he was still inexperienced. She had to cut off his head now while the transformation had come undone.
Most likely, his resolve would be even greater when he next transformed and he would be strong enough to match her. Then, if he transformed a third time—
If she was to grasp victory, she had to completely eliminate that ‘next’ chance!
I have to cut off his head and stab my sword through his heart by any means possible, or else—Obeying her instincts, Saber of Red took a step forward.
(1) Here, both Sabers refer to their respective faction colors in non-Japanese. Saber of Red simply says the “black” in Saber of Black in English, but on the other hand, Saber of Black uses the word “Rot” instead of “red”, which is the German word for red.