Suddenly, Shirou stopped moving. He clicked his tongue and jumped backwards with a bitter expression.
“Caster, we’re withdrawing. That girl has ‘noticed’ it faster than I thought. This must… be due to some kind of Revelation skill on her part.”
Berserker of Black was bewildered by Shirou’s sudden widening of the distance between them, and she decided to just wait and see what he did for the time being.
“I did hear that those chosen for the Ruler class are mostly saints due to their impartial judgement. So she’s one of those types, huh?”
Caster of Red shrugged in a sarcastic manner.
“So it seems… This is a critical situation, Caster. If she denounces me, the situation will turn extremely chaotic. No, to put it in your words, it would become uninteresting.”
“Trying to forcibly stretch out parts that aren’t very exciting is a sign of poor writing. That being the case, let’s end the story of my Master of the battlefield for the time being.”
“Yes, let’s withdraw. —Well, to look at it another way: it’s good enough that we managed to weather through this. Very soon, everything will change into a situation that even Ruler won’t be able to do anything about. And it seems I really am in the right, since I managed to avoid ‘death’ by a paper-thin distance.”
Saying that, Shirou stabbed Black Keys into the ground, forming a wall in front of Berserker of Black as she tried to step forward. He and Caster then began withdrawing from the battlefield at full speed.
“Master. That damn Ruler is pushing her way straight towards you without faltering. Hurry! The Dragon Tooth Warriors can’t hold her back!”
Slightly impatient, Shirou quickly shelved away the warning and increased his speed further… Within the dark forest where there was no light—with not even the moonlight shining well through the trees—Shirou ran at full speed without paying any heed to the near-absolute darkness. His speed was, to put it in a single phrase, beyond abnormal. Easily exceeding sixty kilometers per hour, Shirou simply ran and ran.
…However, there was someone chasing after him in hot pursuit. Seeing her over his shoulder, Shirou widened his eyes slightly.
“Berserker of Black… To think you would chase after me.”
The instant she saw the wall of Black Keys, Berserker decided to pursue the Master known as Shirou. It was due to something that could be called intuition, which should have had no connection with an artificial human like her.
Caules had told her to search for other Servants elsewhere if the Master and Servant she faced ran away, but she had refused the order with one of her usual moans.
In any case—though she herself didn’t really understand what it was that bugged her.
She felt that it was bad to let this man escape here. That Master was definitely abnormal. No, in the first place, was he really a Master?
If she were to say what he was based on the feeling running down her skin, it would be—
As if stitching her brief moment of thought, four blades shot right at her. The man had apparently thrown Black Keys as he ran away without even looking back at her.
Berserker of Black instantly grasped the best option here. That is, she ignored them.
She didn’t feel pain; what she received was only damage as a numerical value. That wasn’t a big deal either. In the end, the blades compiled out of prana possessed meager physical destructive power and weren’t sufficient to defeat a Servant.
Still, receiving a direct hit from them might slow her down and eat up a little time—If it were anyone besides her, that is.
With a scream that could make a human’s heart shudder, she released even more speed. She didn’t pay any attention to the direct hits from the Black Keys. Eventually, the prana of the blades dispersed and the hilts slipped off her body, while her wounds immediately closed up.
Looking over his shoulder, Shirou didn’t know whether to be impressed or stunned. If she had knocked down the Black Keys, then it would have been understandable. If she had held her ground, it would have been convenient for him. But to think that she hadn’t slowed down at all even after several direct hits…!
“I believe the name of her creator was Doctor Frankenstein, correct? With just what kind of design did he make such a monster?”
Shirou smiled bitterly at Caster of Red’s words—and then suddenly thought of a crafty plan.
“Caster, please materialize yourself. I have need of your ‘theatrical troupe’.”
Caster instantly materialized along with a single book in his hand.
“Oh, I see, I see! Then let’s have her meet the man she both dearly loves and hates! [Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage!]”
Caster cried out those words loudly, and then an impossible miracle appeared within the dark forest. Once he confirmed its appearance, Caster went back into spiritual form in order to fall behind Shirou as he ran.
And then Berserker of Black, who was chasing after Shirou, met it there.
Confusion, that was all she felt. A man who shouldn’t be here spoke to her with a gentle expression that was truly unlike him. In life, he had never once shown such a smile to her.
Berserker, who had not halted even after receiving direct hits from the Black Key—and had even accelerated—came to a stop. She wasn’t good at showing her emotions, but her eyes had widened due to shock and wonder.
The person in front of her was Doctor Frankenstein. The one who created, her father, the one who she should hate, her—
Berserker of Black wasn’t shocked by the fact that he was here. What shocked her was simply his gentle smile. Ever since she first opened her eyes, her father’s expression was twisted with hate and disgust. From his mouth which she thought would give her words of blessing, only words of insult and abuse had come out.
It was an event that occurred on a lonely November night—
“It’s a failure, a failure, a failure, a failure, a failure!”
“What the hell, this is just a worthless doll puppet!”
“It has no emotion! Did the lines not connect!? Even the tear glands are no good! Forget the fact that it isn’t the perfect maiden Eve, it isn’t even human!”
—Ah, it seems I was a failed creation.
What saddened her wasn’t the fact that she had been judged a failed creation. It was that her father, as he fell into a furious frenzy and tore at his own hair, was far too pitiful.
“I’m sorry, Father. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for being a failed creation. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’ll correct myself. I’ll properly correct myself. So please don’t be angry. Don’t be angry, don’t be angry, don’t be angry—”
Though she tried to cry, for some reason, she couldn’t. It appeared that her function to shed tears also didn’t work. Every time she tried to comfort him as he drowned himself in alcohol, he would push her away, hit her, and kick her.
It didn’t hurt. Just that, every time she was hit… her heart tightened terribly, for reasons she didn’t understand.
The girl felt sorrow for her father, who continued doing nothing but lament in regret day after day. She wracked her brain to figure out what she should do. What could she do to comfort her father? Resolving herself, she decided to go out and leave their residence.
—She found various things outside.
The green trees, the transparent ponds of water, the shining sun. If she brought these back with her, her father might also become happy. As she thought that, she was suddenly attacked by a stray dog. It had probably reacted to the rotten smell that wafted from her clothes.
When the dog bit her arm, she tore off its neck. In that instant, she received a revelation.
“Ah, pretty. Pretty. This is pretty. Since I don’t have this inside me, it’s surely pretty—”
She split open its abdomen and found even more fresh entrails. These were things that she didn’t have. So she thought they were pretty. So she decided to bring it back and show it to her father.
Pink entrails were pretty, and fresh red blood was beautiful. She never once thought they were ugly or dirty. She didn’t think the stench of blood was unpleasant either.
…The instant she showed it all to him, her relationship with her father was decisively snapped apart. Because, not only was she a failed creation, she was also clearly a hideous monster.
A life-form that feels blood is beautiful and is intoxicated by entrails—is what people call a monster.
“No, that’s not it, that’s not it. Really, that’s not it. I’m normal. I just wanted to make you happy, Father.”
Her father ran away from her in fear, never showing her a smile right till the very end. Instead, he left her an absolute curse at the end.
“You are a monster! A mad monster!”
…So, she thought to become normal. She decided to obtain reason and understand common sense. And she decided to have a mate. Because normal humans had families. Now that she had been denied by her father, she needed a mate no matter what.
But that was not something that could be obtained by wishing for it. Nor was it something that could be obtained by stealing it away. Even so, she kidnapped many men. But none of them could be her mate.
So she decided to ask her father for one.
“Please make someone who will love me, please make someone who will look at me. If I’m supposed to be the perfect maiden Eve, you should have a responsibility to make the original human Adam as well—”
Her father refused, and the girl was driven mad by anger and sorrow. Her anger was due to her father’s betrayal. Her sorrow—was because she understood that she would be alone until the day she died.
She just wanted someone to love her. She just wanted to love someone. She just wanted to know love… No, if even that wish couldn’t be granted, she thought to herself that she at least wanted to be hated. She chased after her father, accused him, was irritated by how he ran from her, and killed his family as a result. Even so, her father ran, ran, just ran away from her.
Right until his last moments, he just continued to run away from her. He didn’t even think of revenge against the one who had broken his heart and killed the people he loved.
“Why won’t you hate me? Why won’t you look at me?”
…The girl threw herself into hellfire along with her father. And thus ended the story of Frankenstein. All that was left behind was the legend of a freakish, hideous monster.
And now, the father who had betrayed her was right before her eyes. He was looking at her with a warm expression. It was a moment she had never seen even in her wildest dreams.
“—Yes, that’s good. Stop fighting. I didn’t create you for the sake of something like that.”
The doctor held out his hand to her head—it appeared he was trying to do what a parent often did to their child. In other words, he was going to pat her head. That was what she had so eagerly wished for.
She had wanted to be loved. She had wanted someone to love her. She had wanted to love someone.
That wished was about to be fulfilled.
But that was precisely why…
Berserker fell into a furious frenzy. No, it wasn’t something as simple as a frenzy. With unconcealed killing intent as well, she struck the flank of the man who allegedly looked like Doctor Frankenstein with Bridal Chest: Maiden’s Chastity.
“What, are you…!?”
Don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, speak, don’t speak, speak, don’t speak, speak, don’t speak, speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak—!
As blood gushed out from the man’s body, she hit him once more in the face. His face was crushed like a popped balloon.
She screamed and screamed as she swung her mace at his entire body. The man was no longer even twitching; he simply surrendered himself to the overwhelming violence.
Eventually, even the certainty that a person had been there in the first place disappeared. At last, Berserker of Black stopped moving.
He had spoken the words she wanted to hear when she didn’t want to hear them. She knew the truth. She already understood that this was probably some kind of magecraft created by Caster.
The corpse faded away. What she had smashed into tiny pieces seemed to be some kind of simple puppet. The best proof of that were the wood chips scattered all over her.
But still. Ah, but still.
Once again, I hurt someone precious even while thinking they were precious to me—!
But just as the artificial girl collapsed to her knees, extremely cool-headed words entered her ears.
‘—I order you with this Command Spell. Berserker, calm down.’
Instantly, all the wailing, rage, uneasiness and despair disappeared within her head.
‘Good. Have you calmed down, Berserker? They’ve already escaped, so let’s end it here for the time being. There are plenty of other places where you should be fighting. Do you understand?’
Berserker of Black felt logic spread through her and was gripped by a reassuring feeling.
That’s right; it was just as her Master said. There were still plenty of places where she ought to be fighting. She had openly laid bare her emotions. Ah, how embarrassing. Her Master’s evaluation of her had probably lowered—
‘…Don’t worry about it. You fought well. What happened just now couldn’t be helped. That Master is simply abnormal. In any case, our maximum-priority objective right now is to kill the Red Servants. Don’t forget that.’
It seemed her Master hadn’t lowered his opinion of her at all.
Nodding in understanding, Berserker of Black ran out of the forest. But even after now regaining her calm, somewhere in her thought circuits, she felt regret for letting that Master slip away.
Caules felt the same way. He had merely seen him from a distance through his familiars, but even so, he clearly felt that Master’s oddness… his abnormality.
But he was still just a Master. Shaking off the chill he felt, Caules devoted his attention to directing Berserker.
Did he regret having to use a Command Spell? …No. Caules felt confidence in his decision. Berserker’s turmoil had been staggering. It was only natural, after having killed her father, whom she both fervently adored and hated. It was possible that it would have lasting effects on her later on. He didn’t think his decision to use a Command Spell to wash it all away at once was wrong.
…At the very least, he’d think it was more worthwhile than using one to force her to activate her Noble Phantasm or to stop her from doing so herself.