Chapter 3-7

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VOLUME 2

Chapter 3

Ch3-7

—One-sided was the only way to describe it.

From the beginning, the two of them were in different leagues from each other in terms of their status as Heroic Spirits, the age of their mysteries and everything else.

With bestial instincts, Saber of Red didn’t bother to block Rider of Black’s golden lance and instead continued to cleverly dodge his attacks.

Although its offensive power was effectively nil, this was the lance that had the extremely fatal ability to “forcefully make a Servant’s legs vanish”—the Trap of Argalia: Down with a Touch!.

But that ability was also useless if it couldn’t deliver a direct hit. It wasn’t that Rider of Black was inexperienced with handling a lance. Rather, he had participated in many jousting matches and reached a level where normal knights could not compete with him.

However, Saber of Red was not a normal knight. She was Mordred, the illegitimate child of Arthur Pendragon, the King of Knights himself, and an uncommon child prodigy who had studied, stolen and altered her father’s techniques to make them her own.

“Too slow!”

Saber of Red’s full-body armor was obviously in the heavyweight class even from an outsider’s perspective. Even if it was made of prana, its weight didn’t change. Rider of Black, who had confidence in his nimbleness, tried to completely ransack her with his speed.

But the one who was falling behind was none other than Rider of Black. He was desperately blocking Saber of Red’s sword with his lance. On the blade’s edge, red sparks of lightning danced before disappearing.

This was Saber of Red’s prana. Since she was releasing her insane amount of prana that practically gushed out of her entire body, his arms went numb just by blocking the blade of her sword. Rider of Black was terrified. He could feel it each time their weapons clashed—her violent flame-like passion that mixed together madness, hatred and the joy of battle.

“Ah, damn it, I’ve got other things to do, you know… Just die already!”

Clicking her tongue, Saber of Red muttered that with a very annoyed tone. In response, Rider of Black did what was his natural specialty and which always annoyed his opponent the most—he smiled.

“No, no, don’t say that. How about keeping me company a while longer?”

“Enough prattling—!!”

And Saber of Red also had a low boiling point. Overwhelmed with anger, she grated her teeth and launched an even more severe attack.

It was terrifying. And yet even so, her attacks were just barely within what could be called ‘sword technique’.

As he exchanged blows with her, Rider of Black understood. Her sword skills possessed the conflicted yet perfect balance between the ferocity of a Berserker and the skill of a Saber.

To use a comparison, take a ferocious wild monkey. Say it was taught to fight to receive food and pitted against thousands of ‘enemies’. Of course, it didn’t have the intelligence to learn fighting techniques. But, if instinct trained it, numerous battles sharpened its mind, and the reward for doing so satisfied it…

Then what was produced in the end was an ultimate monster that had mastered not fighting techniques, but ‘something else’.

Saber of Red’s sword skills were extremely close to that. It was a sword technique that was produced only by those who continued fighting, fighting and killing, throwing away things like etiquette and chivalry and fighting only for the sake of survival and slaughter.

No one but her could master this technique, and no one but her was compatible with the logic behind it. It was the technique of a lion, created and mastered by Mordred alone.

“Kuh…!!”

Sparks flew as lance and sword clashed. Since the battle had started, Saber of Red had been overwhelming Rider of Black.

But Saber of Red was the one who was irritated.

—Damn it, I can’t deal a finishing blow.

Saber of Red’s Instinct skill, which resembled psychic perception, was warning her not to let herself be hit by that golden shining lance. Even if she thought that receiving a single blow from the lance’s blunt tip wouldn’t have much effect on her, her instincts wouldn’t allow it.

As a result, her dodges became slightly bigger and wider, and she couldn’t follow up well with a counterattack using her blade. It wasn’t enough to make her attacks sloppy, but it was true that she couldn’t put her full power behind it.

Should she just ignore her instincts and try receiving an attack—? That thought came to mind, but she immediately dismissed it. That lance was a Noble Phantasm. And as long as it was a Noble Phantasm, she had to remain cautious of it no matter how low its power was.

It would be fatal for her if it had some ability like immobilizing what it hit or weakening the enemy’s movements. No, Saber of Red didn’t think that Rider of Black would just charge at an enemy of the most powerful class like her without some plan in mind.

She shut out her irritation… Her impatience right now wasn’t out of worry of losing. She was just impatient to get this over with so that the entire battle wouldn’t end before she could fight other Servants, especially that Archer of Black whom she couldn’t conclude her earlier fight with.

So, shutting out her impatience, Saber of Red determinedly waited for Rider of Black to show an opening.

—Now!

And then, that chance came. She repelled the lance upwards with all her power and drove her sword into his defenceless abdomen. His chainmail might as well not have existed in the face of her sword.

“Gah…!”

At the last moment, Rider of Black put all his power into twisting his body. This act succeeded, at the very least letting him avoid instant death as it only pierced his flank instead.

But could it really be called a success? Rider of Black no longer had the strength to endure the short time it would take for any healing spells or his own self-healing ability to take effect.

“—Well, it was fun.”

Saber of Red said that and raised Clarent over her head to prepare for a big swing. Rider of Black forcibly raised his face, and murmured with a smile.

“…Preparations, complete.”

Saber of Red frowned suspiciously at Rider of Black’s words.

“Hey, what preparations are you talking about? Eh?”

—At that instant. With a speed that truly couldn’t be caught with the naked eye. A strong attack by Berserker of Black, who had received a boost from a Command Spell, hit Saber of Red’s defenceless back.

Deeming that this was an all-or-nothing battle, Caules had used his second Command Spell. According to Archer of Black’s diagnosis, Saber of Red didn’t have a defensive-type Noble Phantasm that was close to a Conceptual Armament like Saber of Black or Rider of Red did. He had judged that her helmet merely served to hide her true name and abilities, and had no other powers.

In that case, this attack should, at the very least, get through. Particularly since Berserker’s mace was a weapon that dealt impacts instead of slashes. It was especially useful against enemies covered entirely in armor.

The impact between the armor and the mace was like the sound of a car being crushed in a car press machine. Berserker of Black felt feedback from her blow. Rider, who watched the attack from beginning to end, was also certain it had hit.

However.

“—That’s, impossible.”

The one who deserved shock and admiration wasn’t Berserker of Black, who had taken careful aim and hit with her mace just as planned. The one deserving awe was Saber of Red, who had received that attack and yet, instead of being blown away, hadn’t moved, as if she were rooted to the ground.

Caules, who watched through his familiars, the attacker Berserker, and even Rider could not hide their shock.

“Berserker… Even if a small fry like you is added to the battle…”

Saber of Red’s voice was penetratingly cold, as if stifling pain and anger beneath it. She firmly turned the point of her sword towards Rider of Black. Rider of Black, who had tried to stab her with his lance at the same time as Berserker, couldn’t move a single step lest he be skewered.

“—uu—uu!”

‘This is bad. Get away, Berserker!’

At nearly the same time as Caules’ order, Berserker, seized by a premonition of ‘death’, immediately jumped backwards by a full twenty meters. She disappeared amidst the crowd of golems who happened to be standing there.

And immediately after. Berserker and Rider of Black were made to realize once more just how much Saber of Red towered above them as a Heroic Spirit.

“—Did you think you could beat me!?”

She leapt forward. No, it was already at the level where she wasn’t just leaping, but was shot forward. Saber of Red was a loaded bullet, and the gun hammer had just hit the detonator.

Through Saber of Red’s skill [Prana Burst]—she, the bullet, flew out from the rifled gun barrel while spinning, and shot without wavering straight towards her target, Berserker.

And the large sword she held ready was a warhead. Even with Saber’s face completely covered by her helmet, Berserker definitely felt it.

—This Servant is smiling with a sneer on her face right now.

Saber’s slash swung in an arc and exploded through all the surrounding golems. ‘Explode’ was truly the right word. A shock wave and red lightning burst out from the blade, and the surrounding golems were reduced to rubble just by the aftershock.

The Black Masters who observed this scene and the Servants who saw it could only gasp.

“—No, way.”

That strained mutter from somebody was a sentiment that everyone there agreed with in the depths of their hearts. That was how amazing and absurd the attack was. And what was more terrifying was that this wasn’t a Noble Phantasm. It was just a normal attack launched with the full power of a Heroic Spirit.

‘Berserker…!!’

Caules desperately called out to her through their telepathic communication. Berserker gave no sign of responding to it. She wasn’t dead; her Master Caules could tell that much. But—what state was she in after receiving that attack just now?

Saber of Red cleared away the smoke with a swing of her blade. Catching sight of Berserker and noticing her current state, Saber’s face twisted with hatred.

“You—”

‘Hey, did you get her?’

After her Master cut in with telepathic communication, Saber replied with a displeased voice.

“I hit her. I hit her, but she’s still alive. She’s alive and struggling unseemly on the ground.”

‘…You’re really in a bad mood, aren’t you? So, have you figured out her true identity?’

“Not really. But—this girl isn’t human. Rather, I’m doubtful that she’s any kind of living creature. It feels like she’s… kinda similar to a homunculus.”

‘A homunculus?’

“The arm I chopped off has cables running through it instead of blood vessels. Master, is there any Heroic Spirit like that?”

‘An artificial life-form, huh… I get the feeling that… I might or might not have heard about such a Heroic Spirit.’

“Hey, which is it, Master? …Well, it doesn’t matter either way. Learning the true name of a Servant that’s about to die is useless knowledge.”

‘Wait, wait… an artificial life-form… I’ll ask just in case, but her entire body isn’t that of a machine, right?’

“Her flesh is full of patched-together defective parts. She’s not a machine… well, who cares. I’m going to deal the finishing blow now.”

To ‘kill’ a Servant’, it was necessary to smash their spiritual core. So she just needed to destroy the organs which connected to it, her heart or brain.

Without hesitation, Saber of Red stabbed her sword into Berserker’s chest. Berserker of Black received the sword without resisting. She just twitched the instant the blade was thrust in.

“—It’s over.”

Now that Berserker had received a fatal wound, Saber no longer cared about her. Her next target was Rider of Black. When she turned around, she saw Rider charging at her with his lance ready.

He was fast. But with his wounds still not completely healed, his attack was only just slightly above average for a Heroic Spirit. She was confident that she could handle even a hundred of such attacks.

“Come at me, dog!”

She was confident. She would block Rider’s lance with her sword and decapitate him in the blink of an eye. And thus the battle would end. Though the rank of her Instinct wasn’t high enough to be called future foresight, it still easily guided her to the optimum answer in this scene.

The odds were ten-to-one that Rider of Black would be killed. It didn’t seem like any miracle would happen, so now she just had to concentrate.

Saber of Red was correct. But one of her calculations was insufficient. Not a small fry like a battle-type homunculus or golem—nor even another Servant. But rather, if there was a ‘fluke’ that shouldn’t exist in this world.

Then all her calculations would turn brittle and fall apart.

“—!?”

First, Rider of Black slowed his charge while making a shocked expression. Next, a small human figure appeared in the corner of her vision.

Berserker of Black—it was not. It was just a rank-and-file homunculus. He was carrying a slender sword and charging at her just like Rider. His attack was unexpectedly fast for a small fry, though.

But something like that was still nothing more than a mosquito sting to her. Saber of Red ignored him and focused on Rider of Black.

If he collided with him, she would just repel his attack and take him down with one hand. Then it would be over. That’s what she predicted, but Saber of Red still felt a lingering unease.

It wasn’t anything on the level of a premonition. It was just a small and trivial uneasy feeling. So Saber ignored it and prepared herself to kill the charging Rider of Black.

Rider of Black shook off his shock and, as if driven by some impatience, charged at Saber even faster.

The first to reach Saber was the homunculus. But his sword thrust would probably bounce off Saber’s full-body armor. There was no way it wouldn’t. At the very least, it was impossible that her armor would lose to the likes of a slash from a homunculus.

…However, the weapon that the homunculus held was none other than the sword of a Servant. Though not a Noble Phantasm, its sharpness was incomparable with commonplace weapons held by other rank-and-file soldiers.

Still, there would have been no problem if its wielder was an ordinary homunculus. But—

+++

—He didn’t act according to any rational thought. Without considering anything, he threw away even his own life.

Rider of Black’s charge was going to fail. Sieg understood that. The hero who had saved him would be cruelly defeated and killed before his eyes.

That was the one thing that he absolutely couldn’t stand. His heartbeat had sent blood pumping strongly through his entire body, and put strength into his feet as he firmly stepped on the ground.

He yelled. I don’t need anything, he thought. Even if this attack was a meaningless act. Even if it would only extend Rider of Black’s life by just a little longer.

The option to abandon Rider and live a peaceful life—was completely meaningless in Sieg’s eyes.

Saber of Red’s final mistake in her calculations was concerning her full-body armor. She had forgotten. True, Saber had withstood the fully-powered and Command Spell-enhanced attack by Berserker.

But that didn’t mean she wasn’t injured. The part of her armor that had directly received the attack by the mace had been bent and caved in.

Therefore, it was only natural that that part of her armor alone was now brittle. The homunculus’ eyes had definitely grasped the existence of what could be rightly called a catastrophe point in her armor.

Saber and Sieg each shared a heavy shock. For Sieg, it was the physical collision after charging into her with his shoulder and the resulting terrible pain that wracked his entire body. But Saber wasn’t concerned with that.

“Wh—at?”

Before feeling any pain, she was dumbstruck. That slender sword had pierced her prided full-body armor. Blood was slowly flowing out from her abdomen. Her rage instantly dissipated, and in its place, a frozen killing intent ruled Saber’s mind.

“—Who the hell are you?”

Sieg remained silent as he pulled out the slender sword and readied to use it again. It wasn’t that he didn’t reply, but that he couldn’t. The Servant in front of him wasn’t mad with rage, but was just facing him while her face remained concealed behind her steel helmet—and as a result, Sieg couldn’t even open his mouth to speak.

“…If you won’t answer, I don’t mind that either. I just decided that I’m going to kill you.”

“—kuh!! Stop, Saber!”

Rider of Black charged once more. He attacked from a low stance as if gliding forward, but Saber of Red blocked it with her sword and, in recompense for his blind and naïve charge, dealt him a severe elbow strike.

“Guh…!!”

She had aimed for the spot that still hadn’t completely healed from the earlier slash, and so even more blood gushed out from his abdomen. Even as he collapsed to the ground, Rider of Black glared at Saber of Red with a desperate expression.

Saber spoke to Rider with a look that contained a trace of pity.

“Unfortunately, I’ve already confirmed this guy as an enemy. If he were just a bit weaker, he could have found another path.”

Saber of Red readied her silver sword, completely focused on her intention to kill. The sword was pointed not at Rider, but at the homunculus. As if in a trance, Sieg gazed straight at Saber’s valiant form. How terrifying, he thought. I’m going to die, he predicted. And yet, somehow his emotions were numbed. He was practically close to a serene state of mind.

His heartbeat was no faster than usual. It seemed this heart didn’t accelerate its pulse out of fear. As expected of a hero, Sieg thought, admiring in his heart the man who had been Saber of Black, Siegfried.

…The match was over in a single blow.

Sieg didn’t even have the time to swing his sword as Saber of Red’s slash tore through his chest. Her blade slashed through him from the shoulder down and eventually reached his heart.

“—See ya. I’ll carve the memory of you into my heart, nameless homunculus.”

Those were without a doubt, words of praise by Saber of Red. Vivid blood gushed out, and yet another homunculus fell dying to the ground. It was a scene that had repeated countless times since earlier on this battlefield.

But at that instant, all the homunculi who had been made to participate in this Great Holy Grail War had their breaths catch in their throats… All of them knew about him. All of them understood why he had returned as well.

They were unable to support or assist him. But they sympathized with him. They had wished blessings upon him, the only one among them who had chosen to be free.

The battle wasn’t over. The golems, Dragon Tooth Warriors, and even the homunculi didn’t rest their hands. But at this moment, the homunculi created by Yggdmillennia felt that everything was over.

While a gloomy shadow spread among them that no one besides their fellows noticed—the homunculi continued struggling to fight and survive on the battlefield.

+++

Saber of Red turned to face Rider of Black next.

“—Sorry for making you wait.”

“…”

Rider of Black was silent. His head, tilted downwards, had lost any trace of his usual carefree smile.

“Here I come, Saber of Red. I won’t forgive you.”

“Hah, enough with being moved by feelings! This is a battlefield. Of course I’m going to kill those who face me as an enemy. Even more so for those who wound me!”

“Yeah, I know that. I know that, but there’s no way that I, Astolfo, can agree with that kind of logic!!”

As Rider of Black yelled, Saber of Red gave a faint smile filled with provocation, planning to intercept him this time, but she couldn’t help stopping her attack due to a sudden telepathic communication.

The speaker was, naturally, her Master Shishigou.

‘Hey. What happened to Berserker of Black!?’

Though she felt doubtful over the unclear purpose of this question, Saber of Red replied honestly.

‘What’s with you, Master? If it’s about Berserker, she’s already—’

‘Did you properly confirm that her body dispersed and vanished!?’

‘…No, I didn’t confirm her death that far.’

But even without doing that, she definitely felt that she had delivered the finishing blow. While remaining attentive to Rider of Black, she turned her head back slightly to look at where Berserker had fallen—and confirmed that there was no one there.

“What…!?”

Even while shocked, Saber scanned her surroundings. The Servant hadn’t simply vanished after dying. As proof of that, Berserker’s mace was planted upright into the ground. It reminded her of a grave-marker, but she immediately noticed something strange about it.

When she received Saber’s slash, Berserker of Black should have dropped that mace. And yet, when had that mace been planted into the ground like that?

Perhaps because the scene of it planted there was far too odd, her attention was caught by the mace. The next instant, as if having timed it, Berserker of Black fell down from the sky and grabbed onto Saber of Red’s back.

“Kuh… get off!!”

Saber of Red, having survived upon the battlefield for a long time, understood. This was definitely a suicide attack. Berserker was about to fire off something even if it meant sacrificing herself to do it.

“NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA————————OOU!!

While screaming like a ferocious beast or a deceased spirit from hell, Berserker of Black still desperately clung to Saber of Red’s back.

Prana swelled up from within her in a whirlwind, and it began to create a huge twister with her at the center.

“Berserker!”

Rider of Black desperately shouted while blocking with one hand the dust that was trying to get into his eyes.

But the one to respond to him wasn’t Berserker.

‘—That’s enough, Rider. Berserker is activating her Noble Phantasm. Withdraw from there.’

It was the unpleasantly cold voice of his Master. Naturally, Rider objected.

‘No way. Saber is…’

‘Be quiet. If you stay there, you’ll die, you know? Do you want me to use a Command Spell?’

Even while gritting his teeth at those words, Rider moved away to somewhere that seemed safe to him. When he cooled his head, he was shocked to realize where he came to a stop.

He was now more than a hundred meters from where the two female Servants were. In other words, Rider’s body had instinctively judged that it would be dangerous if he didn’t get this far away.

Rider of Black knew that Berserker had two Noble Phantasms. The first was a continuously-active-type Noble Phantasm, Bridal Chest: Maiden’s Chastity. And the second was—

“…Blasted Tree: Lightning Branch of Crucifixion.”

It was a forbidden Noble Phantasm that would drive Berserker of Black herself to death as well.

+++

Caules didn’t know what he should say to Berserker.

He just couldn’t stop her. It wasn’t because she was suited to killing Saber of Red or anything like that.

Caules hadn’t ordered her to do so. He hadn’t been coerced by another Master or Fiore either. Caules just somehow thought that Berserker would probably do so, and Berserker had tried to activate her Noble Phantasm without him even having to use a Command Spell.

‘…Berserker. I’ll back you up with a Command Spell.’

The Command Spell was neither to protect her nor to make her withdraw. It was a boost. The more narrowly-defined an order was, and the more instantaneous it was, the stronger the effect of the Command Spell was. And if the Servant agreed with the Master’s order, an even greater effect would manifest.

In this case, if Caules ordered Berserker to use her Noble Phantasm at maximum power, it would be able to exceed its normal output.

With that much, it would probably be powerful enough to kill Saber of Red.

‘—uu.’

Her groan of agreement rang through the telepathic link so well it was depressing. At this moment, Caules regretted in the depths of his heart that Berserker of Black was Frankenstein.

It would have better if she were simply mad. It would have better if she were a mad warrior that didn’t even recognize her Master’s face, couldn’t communicate and just slaughtered the enemy.

If so, he wouldn’t hesitate so much over using his last remaining Command Spell. From the beginning, he wasn’t even proactively participating in this Greater Holy Grail war, and he had no wish to grant either.

He should have parted with Berserker without regrets, laments or even sorrow.

…And yet. What he recalled in his mind was the image of her plucking flowers with a vast expression on her face and throwing them away without picking the flower petals. Of her simply gazing at the ripped-up pieces of the flowers dancing upon the wind.

His heart hurt as if it were being ripped apart—but he endured it. He didn’t shed tears; from the beginning, he shouldn’t have had the right to do so. The one being killed was her, and the one killing her was him. He couldn’t break that.

With a voice so cold he hated it, he began speaking the words.

‘The fifth Black Master orders you with a Command Spell.’

He casted away his meager and short memories of her.

‘—Release all your limiters. Activate your Noble Phantasm Blasted Tree and kill Saber of Red.’

+++

The sky split apart. The enormous prana that Berserker of Black had gathered up was making the fins on the tail end of her mace spin at high speeds.

“You…!”

Saber’s voice was twisted with irritation. Giving a faint smile, Berserker of Black spoke back to her.

“—You’re, coming, with me.”

From the sky to the earth, or perhaps from the earth to the sky, bluish-white light rained down like a waterfall.

“—————————————————————————————————————!!”

The lightning strike overran the world completely. Everything within a hundred meter radius was completely destroyed, leaving not even a single fragment.

Anyone who saw it was convinced that Saber of Red had died. Excluding exceptions among exceptions like Rider of Red, no matter how powerful the Servant was, it should have been impossible for them to be all right after being hit by the attack just now.

The attack Berserker of Black had released by wagering her life was truly tenacious.

“Did she get her…?”

But they had forgotten one thing. The ones fighting in this Great Holy Grail War consisted not only of Servants. Though no one caught sight of them on the battlefield, there were still those who had gathered to fight alongside the Servants.

Yes. Like how Caules had boosted Berserker of Black’s attack with a Command Spell.

“Wha…”

Rider of Black was stricken speechless by the sight of the Servant who had appeared right before his eyes, surrounded by black smoke and smelling extremely unpleasantly of scorched flesh.

Saber of Red was before him.

“…Damn it, I couldn’t dodge it.”

Saber of Red muttered that in a calm manner.

‘Come on, don’t say that. Shouldn’t you be thinking how great it is that at least you weren’t disintegrated?’

‘Shut up. It would have been better if you used the Command Spell one second sooner, Master.’

‘It wouldn’t have changed anything. In the first place, you shouldn’t have received any injuries when I transported you outside of the danger zone. But that lightning chased after you and even tried to drag you back into the center of it… Most likely, Berserker was ordered to [kill Saber of Red] with a Command Spell. That’s what caused you to sustain injuries.’

With the additional support of a Command Spell, it had truly been a fully-powered attack. The only way to have survived it was with a Command Spell of their own.

Saber of Red’s Master, Shishigou Kairi, hadn’t hesitated to use it. He ordered her to withdraw to somewhere safe with a Command Spell. A ‘teleportation’ that was nearly equivalent to the concept of time already tread upon the domain of sorcery. The reason Shishigou Kairi, a mere magus, was able to use this highest level of spells that even a witch from the Age of Gods could only use in their personal domain was thanks to the enormous amount of prana contained in the Command Spell.

…And even after all that, Saber still wasn’t completely unscathed.

Caules’ Command Spell had also crossed into the concept of space, and as a result had distorted even cause and effect to make the Blasted Tree hit Saber of Red.

But the Command Spell’s abundant prana was consumed in order to do that, and so hadn’t been able to add its power to the Noble Phantasm’s output itself. As a result, Saber of Red had gotten away with only severe wounds. It would take a bit of time, but healing those injuries was easy.

+++

“—Damn it!”

Caules struck the stone wall with his fist, causing the skin to split and bleed. He didn’t even notice the stinging pain due to the heat raging through his head. After confirming that his Servant had died, he had silently left the room where the other Masters were and struck his vexation against the corridor wall. As expected, he didn’t want to show such unsightly behavior in front of other magi.

“…That wasn’t a mistake.”

Perhaps noticing her younger brother’s lamenting, Fiore followed him and said that, but Caules shook his head in denial of her words and shouted.

“No, it was a mistake! My mistake was betting on a desperate gamble even knowing that the enemy also had Command Spells. If the enemy’s Command Spell had just been a few seconds slower… if I had just firmly decided to support Berserker with a Command Spell a few seconds sooner, this wouldn’t have happened! Then I wouldn’t have made her… made Berserker die in vain!”

I blundered. I made an error in judgement. Caules tortured himself with those thoughts. From Fiore’s perspective, he was half-right, half-wrong.

As she saw it, that mistake was an unavoidable one. Caules and Berserker had definitely done their very best in confronting Saber of Red. The enemy’s power had simply exceeded theirs.

“At the very least, Saber sustained heavy injuries, right?”

It wasn’t in vain, Fiore thought. That attack, filled with Berserker’s will, shouldn’t have been in vain. But Caules, as a magus, shook his head and denied that.

“As long as the enemy Master can use healing magecraft, her injuries can still be healed… I’m fine, Nee-san, so hurry up and go back to commanding the others.”

“But—”

“It’s fine, just go already.”

Caules said that in a forced tone of voice, and in the end, Fiore returned to the room to lead the others. Now alone, Caules leaned his back against the corridor wall and covered his face, thinking to himself.

…When that first attack didn’t end up being decisive, should I have made her withdraw?

…Was it a mistake to try and kill Saber of Red with a surprise attack?

…In the first place, was my decision to try it out with Berserker foolish?

Naturally, there had been reasons for why he had done so. If they didn’t kill Saber of Red there, there was a high chance that their camp’s Rider would have been killed instead.

Lancer and Archer, who were fighting with their full power, hadn’t been having as much difficulty with their respective formidable opponents.

What should he have done? How could he have won; how could he have saved her? He thought and thought it over in agony, and the conclusion he came to was simply the most ordinary and worst one; that there was nothing he could have done.

They couldn’t afford to lose Rider, and at that time the only one who could quickly rush over there was Berserker. Berserker had also been searching for another enemy to fight after losing sight of Caster of Red and the Master she was chasing.

No, even if he mourned and lamented, he couldn’t do anything anymore.

…Berserker of Black had died. Caules’ Greater Holy Grail War also ended here. The Command Spells on his right hand had disappeared after having all been used up. His connection to this war had been completely severed.

He felt a pain that was bitterer than he had imagined gouging through his chest. Even so, Caules had intended to resolve himself as a magus should. He might die, he might be killed or kill in turn, and at worst, all his other clan members including his older sister might be killed—he had been prepared for that.

Right now, what was gouging through his chest were thoughts of a completely different kind. It was a pain he hadn’t even imagined until he summoned his Servant and fought in the war. He hadn’t thought that Berserker’s death would carve such a deep wound inside his heart.

+++

‘I wasn’t able to do anything for her.’

+++

Her wish was something that could be granted by the Holy Grail. She possessed exceptionally high reason for the Berserker class and, more than anything else, she was an easy-to-handle Servant.

He hated himself for having thought she was just someone who shared mutual interest in obtaining the Holy Grail during those short few days. She was a precious comrade who had established a bond and fought together with him. No, she had become such a comrade to him.

That’s why her death was so sad.

But the past could never be changed—and a Servant that went back to the [Throne] could never return either.

The girl, who, despite having the appearance of a human, had been forced to be a monster, had only the meager wish of wanting a being of the same kind as her—[someone] whom she could love and who would love her back.

Caules simply regretted that he hadn’t been able to grant her wish.

+++

Saber of Red was heavily wounded, but it wasn’t enough to hinder her fighting movements as long as Shishigou Kairi applied healing magecraft right away. In other words, just as Caules had said, the use of Berserker of Black’s Noble Phantasm could be considered extremely meaningless as an attack.

But this Noble Phantasm had one other hidden ability. There was a paragraph in Frankenstein’s blueprints that even Caules hadn’t paid attention to. There, it was written thus.

+++

‘This lightning attack is not simply lightning, but rather a power that has Frankenstein’s will imbedded within it. As long as it exists, she will never perish.’

+++

At the same time as the lightning attack turned the surrounding area to rubble, Sieg, who had been lying on the ground there, received a sudden shock to his heart. It suddenly contracted and expanded. The blood flow that should have halted resumed. The prana that Frankenstein had released was absorbed into him and blood began circulating through his entire body.

+++

—The first thing that the boy who had given himself the name Sieg felt was pain.

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