The battle between the two Lancers was still going on neck-and-neck.
While they were both Lancers, their fighting styles were completely different. Lancer of Black stabbed stakes at his enemy just by directing them with a single finger, while Lancer of Red aimed to directly smash his enemy with the spear he held in his hands.
Lancer of Black would throw stakes while maintaining his distance, and Lancer of Red would close the distance between them while breaking every one of those stakes. The battle was a repetition of this sequence.
Mysteries are negated by stronger mysteries. In that regard, Lancer of Red greatly exceeded Lancer of Black. Based on his strength in life, the great hero Karna was truly exceptional.
In order to send him to his grave, the thunder god Indra had no other choice but to devise an intricate scheme. Karna was the best and proudest spearman who hadn’t fallen to the ground even after being betrayed by all his allies.
—However, even against such a hero, Lancer of Black didn’t fall before his attacks.
Unlike Lancer of Red, whose existence in actual history was unclear, Lancer of Black—Vlad III was a hero who had actually existed in this world.
He was a patriotic hero who had been feared by all surrounding countries, and even though he was equally feared by his own citizens—he still received great respect and worship from them.
Without him, their country wouldn’t have existed. The hero who had carved this into the world’s history had been brought back to life in that very same country. His fame and popularity was equal to that of a great in this country.
His Noble Phantasm Kaziklu Bey: Lord of Execution possessed uncommon power as a result as well.
True, they were only ordinary stakes. But—the problem was that these stakes could be freely summoned forth according to Lancer of Black’s command.
Though, even when faced with an enemy with a Noble Phantasm of that level, Lancer of Red was still easily a match for a thousand of them. Without paying any care to the stakes that stabbed countless times all over his body from his feet to his right shoulder to his left flank to his elbow, neither his movements nor his strength changed at all. Right now, his Noble Phantasm Kavacha and Kundala: O Surya, Become Armor was negating 90% of the damage from the stakes. They were reduced to mere scratches that he could heal while fighting.
“—Magnificent. You’ve broken one thousand stakes with that spear, burned eight hundred with those flames covering your body and stopped two thousand with that golden armor. Lancer of Red, you are without a doubt worthy of being a hero. With that armor, even a battering ram would have no effect, let alone my stakes.”
Karna accepted Lancer of Black’s praise with a solemn attitude.
“Thank you for your words, lord of this land.”
“If you weren’t a pagan, I would allow you to surrender. That alone is regrettable, that you believe in a fake god.”
“Hmm, how do you know that my god is a fake?”
“Of course I know. God is a pure and untouched absolute. If not, who would believe in him? Who would rely on him? A god who mingles with people and has intercourse with them is merely a hideous monster.”
“Now, I wonder about that. It’s only natural that any religious faith undergoes innumerable changes depending on the land. If it is a land where floods occur, then one who rules over water is the God there. If my gods and their gods are monsters, then the God you believe is also merely a monster upon whom the ideal of being [absolute] was pressed upon.”
Instantly, fire seethed in Lancer of Black’s eyes. Even after seeing that, Lancer of Red spoke clearly and calmly.
“—I see. You’re quite stern and severe, lord of impalement, Kaziklu Bey. To you, these stakes are both attack and defence, both a demonstration of force and an embodiment of fear.”
“You use these stakes to establish your domain, your castle and what you must protect; in other words, you try to form a country with just a single person. Is it an act out of love for your homeland, or is it due to your sense of responsibility as the king of a state?”
Lancer of Red exposed Lancer of Black in an indifferent manner. Not his body, but what was within his heart.
“But there aren’t any subjects to obey you here, are there? A king might be aloof and isolated. But there is no such thing as a king without a retinue… What a blunder, lord of impalement. I am a Heroic Spirit, and do not fear even making an entire country my enemy.”
“—Hoh, how interesting.”
Lancer of Black smiled. It was an extremely violent smile charged full of anger and fury, hatred and killing intent.
“You don’t fear facing my country by yourself, as expected of a hero—I have already punished you three times over for that arrogance. Yes… My stakes have pierced you three times in total. Therefore, you will die here.”
Feeling dread suddenly hit his body, Lancer of Red immediately attempted to jump back—but it was no longer an issue of being slow or fast. It was already in the past. The attack was already ending…!
“You guessed quickly. Yes, my Kaziklu Bey: Lord of Execution isn’t a Noble Phantasm that creates stakes. It’s the ‘stakes stabbed into the enemy’ themselves that are the Noble Phantasm. As long as you’re within this territory of mine, no matter how much you fortify your body, if it is a fact that you have received an attack from me—”
Within Lancer of Red’s body, something was swelling up with violent force. Hard, sharp, repulsively cold, it was—
The golden armor that clad Karna’s body could protect against stakes, blades, hammers, or any kind of attack regardless of whether it was physical or magical. However—attacks from within his body were a single exception. Furthermore, these stakes were manifesting in the state of already having pierced him.
Even a hornet with strong jaws and stingers that freely danced through the sky and coveted prey was just powerless food when inside a nest weaved by a multitude of spiders.
Blood trickled down from the three stakes stabbing into him very quickly. This was probably Karna’s first experience of receiving damage while clad in that armor.
In a flash, Lancer of Black charged forward in order to snatch victory. From the beginning, he never thought even in his dreams that Lancer of Red would be killed by something of this level.
So he couldn’t overlook this single instant. No matter how great a hero was, there was no way they could resist while stabbed with stakes—!
“This is checkmate, Lancer of Red…!”
Lancer of Black launched an attack with a stream of countless stakes and also the spear he held in his hand. The attack was already closer to a swarm of piranhas than a Noble Phantasm. After all, there was no pause in his prana usage. As long the homunculi squeezed out prana for him, he could continue creating stakes perpetually. Two thousand stakes was simply the maximum limit he could invoke at once. No matter how many stakes were destroyed, they could be recreated as long as he had prana.
In other words, this battlefield was basically covered entirely by stakes containing his malice. He couldn’t be beaten. There shouldn’t be any way for a single warrior to challenge and beat this king who ruled the land and subdued his nation.
But—his entire surroundings being his enemy was the most commonplace of commonplace situations for the Heroic Spirit Karna.
As Lancer of Black thrusted his spear at the crown of his head, Lancer of Red splendidly diverted it away with a sweep of his own spear as if he couldn’t even feel the damage from the stakes stabbing into him.
Even Lancer of Black was left speechless. Meanwhile, Lancer of Red displayed his superhuman will power even further.
A blaze wrapped around Lancer of Red’s entire body. Lancer of Black instantly understood that he was trying to burn away the stakes.
He was going to laugh in ridicule at him, but stiffened an instant later. The flames went inside Lancer of Red’s body. They burned, burned and burned—until every single one of the stakes piercing Lancer of Red were blasted away.
Without wasting any time, Lancer of Black attacked with another rain of stakes.
But what the stakes were trying to destroy was, of all things, an incarnation of fire. He was the son of the sun, who could not be burned even by flame spirits.
His sturdy spear handed to him by the gods, the golden armor that had been granted to him due to his mother’s supplication, and his blood ties to the sun god—their stats were all listed as half their actual value when checking the stats of the Servant known as Karna.
Karna’s strongest weapon was his ‘will’. Possessing a strong will and a strong heart, he was the Hero of Charity who had never resented a single person despite experiencing all kinds of misfortune. He was a man who had been given things more special than that of anyone else, but never once was treated [special] himself.
Neither proud nor arrogant, he was a hero who merely carried out a way of life that would not shame the name of his father from the moment he was born to when he was finally shot down.
Therefore, even when his entrails were gouged out and the nerves of his arms were severed by just three stakes. Even when he was attacked by an overwhelming feeling of oppression due to an endless stream of stakes. Even when he had to endure unimaginable agony as he circulated fire through the inside of his body in order to deal with the stakes.
Lancer of Red would never fear nor bend his knees in submission—!
Flames surrounded the two Servants. It was exactly the same as earlier. The flames were returning everything to nothing. But that wasn’t all.
“—Lord of this land, I’ll be taking your head!”
While clad in flames, Lancer of Red fiercely plunged forward—and without minding the damage from the stakes and flames at all, he landed a direct hit to the tip of Lancer of Black’s shoulder.
A cry of unconcealed anguish. The struggle for supremacy ended here. Lancer of Red had finally seized Lancer of Black. And in order to increase the success of his finishing blow, Lancer of Red began to wait for the chance to release his other Noble Phantasm that rivaled his golden armor, that is, Brahmastra Kundala: O Brahma, Curse Me.
(1) Agni: Hindu god of fire. The kanji beneath it simply reads as “flame”.