Ruler had left behind Rider of Black and Sieg and was now running towards the Hanging Gardens by herself at full speed. The closer she got, the more shocked she was by that floating Noble Phantasm. Anti-Fortress Noble Phantasms, which possessed the pure power to destroy fortresses and castles, were rare, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t Heroic Spirit who owned them. However, Noble Phantasms that were fortresses in and of themselves were most likely even scarcer.
Fortresses that existed as Noble Phantasms, according to the knowledge that Ruler immediately dragged out, were limited to those like the one possessed by Ireland’s Child of Light. And even that was restricted to the borders of his homeland.
Furthermore, the number of Noble Phantasms that were floating strongholds was nearly zero. And to make things more troublesome, it appeared that the owner of that floating fortress held ill will towards her. She had gone through considerable detours, but in any case, there were many things she needed to verify with the Red camp.
Something, something fatal was starting and about to end. She kept having that premonition. Somehow managing to shake off the chill that took hold of her, she jumped onto the walls of the Fortress of Millennia and ran upwards at full speed.
From the huge hole that had been bored into the Fortress of Millennia, the Greater Grail was slowly coming into view.
“…I can’t believe it.”
Ruler’s murmur was only natural. The oppressive sensation clamping down on her entire body told her that it was without a doubt the real Greater Grail. What she couldn’t believe was that the Red camp was trying to drag it out.
It was true that this was a war that revolved around the Greater Grail. She also predicted that the Red Camp would end up doing this if they won. But that would normally only happen after the war was over. Why were they hurriedly trying to recover the Greater Grail when the scales of battle were still swaying?
Most likely, the one causing problems right now was not any of the Red Servants, but a Master. Someone who, at the very least, wasn’t following the will of the Association of Magi…
After having conjectured that far, she finally managed to arrive atop the floating fortress. Water ran upstream and plants clearly grew not upwards but downwards instead.
“A reversed flow… the Hanging Gardens…!”
“That’s right, Ruler.”
Hearing that jeering voice, Ruler turned around—she knew of only two Heroic Spirits who possessed the Hanging Gardens as a Noble Phantasm. The first was Nebuchadnezzar II, and the second was—the legendary empress who, due to oral transmission of ancient folklore getting mixed up, was lavished with the falsehood of having ‘made the Hanging Gardens’.
The world’s oldest poisoner—Semiramis.
“Assassin of Red… so that’s who you are.”
“Indeed. Now then, Ruler. Do you have some business in my gardens? I don’t believe I have violated any particular rules, though.”
Perhaps due to the dimness of the nearby torches, her black and glamorous dress was halfway merged with the darkness of the night. Ruler felt it was terribly—eerie.
“No, you have.”
“Hoh,” said Assassin of Red, displaying interest.
“—Then tell me. What rule have I violated?”
“If you have not a single smidgeon of guilt on your conscience and you are obeying the rules of the Holy Grail War as you say—then please let me meet your Master.”
Instantly, the look in Assassin of Red’s eyes switched from sneering to cautious. Ruler knew from those eyes that the path she had followed here wasn’t mistaken.
“…Unfortunately, my Master is occupied right now. Furthermore, while he isn’t a coward at all, I won’t let him meet with other Servants.”
“I see. He’s hiding somewhere within these gardens, isn’t he?’
Ruler easily pointed that out. Assassin of Red was already preparing to fight. As if to stop her from doing so, Ruler stuck forward her flag and spoke.
“You should understand that fighting me is useless, Assassin of Red. The pillars of light shot from the Hanging Gardens were the work of your spells, correct? In that case—”
“Hmph. It’s true that my magecraft can’t pierce through your Magic Resistance. Is that one of your privileges as Ruler, I wonder?”
“I have still more privileges… Assassin of Red. Please don’t make me use this.”
Ruler’s entire body shined slightly with pale light, and even Assassin of Red couldn’t stop herself from grimacing in response.
“…The greatest privilege of the Ruler class; Command Spells that can be used on all Servants, huh?”
This was the greatest reason that Ruler could act as a mediator. Ruler possessed two Command Spells for every Servant. In this case, that added up to a total of twenty-eight Command Spells. It was only natural that the Black camp had tried to get her as an ally.
In extreme cases, she could end the majority of Servants by ordering them to kill themselves. Of course, a Command Spell could be counteracted by another Command Spell. If she ordered Servants to kill themselves, their Masters could simply use a Command Spell of their own to stop them from killing themselves.
But that meant that two Command Spells were uselessly expended. If they kept one Command Spell in reserve to take into account the betrayal of their Servants, it actually become impossible for them to use any Command Spells afterwards.
Additionally, the camp that Ruler sided with would be able to use a sum total of four Command Spells for each Servant with Ruler’s Command Spells also included. Ruler, who could overturn the superiority or inferiority of any side, was naturally a capable person whom everyone wanted. Though Heroic Spirits who would fall for such temptation shouldn’t be fit for the Ruler class in the first place.
“But don’t bother. Even if we have to exhaust all our Command Spells, I won’t betray my Master. If you order me with a Command Spell, my Master will stop it.”
“…Your Master isn’t your puppet, is he?”
“Of course not. No matter what my first life was like, I am now a Servant and I will selflessly support my Master.”
Ruler took a step forward and spoke.
“In that case, right now you are my enemy.”
Having reached here, she at last clearly confirmed that Assassin of Red and her Master were her enemies. Even Assassin of Red couldn’t help turning nervous at that step.
From the beginning, the specs of Assassin and Ruler weren’t even comparable. Additionally, magi had fatally bad compatibility with Ruler. Even without using a Command Spell, she could immediately defeat Assassin.
—In the first place, Assassin of Red and her Master didn’t wish to fight Ruler.
What was more important was that Lancer of Red and Lancer of Black would soon come into contact to resume their battle, and that Lancer of Black’s Master would become aware of the situation. She just needed to buy a few minutes of time by talking with Ruler until then.
Shirou, knowing quite well the cruelty and inhumanity of Lancer of Black’s Master Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia, was certain that he would definitely activate the Noble Phantasm that reproduced that legend if the situation became disadvantageous for Lancer of Black.
“Hoh, I see. So I am your enemy, am I? But it’s unfortunate. Starting from this very moment, we must share the same interest.”
Ruler turned around. There was no sound or disturbance of prana. But in just a few seconds, the worst possible situation would occur—she received such a revelation.
“There, you should get going now. What, I’ll also help. We must oppose that together—because that’s how extremely troublesome it is.”
Ruler gritted her teeth slightly. But Assassin’s words were correct.
Something had already been ‘born’ along with an enormous outpouring of prana. Something that didn’t belong in the Holy Grail War and could be considered fatal.
Ruler turned her back to Assassin and began running with all her might.