Even Ruler, who received knowledge concerning all Servants when she was summoned, couldn’t helped but be shocked by the appearance of what appeared before her.
“Hmm. You over there, you—aren’t a Black Servant, are you? Hmm, Ruler, then?”
The speaker had a clear voice like the wind, with a body so thin and light it was like a tree leaf swaying in the wind.
The green girl spun through the air and landed next to Ruler. In her hand was a large bow that didn’t suit her stature.
“—Archer of Red.”
Ruler was, of course, on guard. It was only natural after having been attacked by Lancer and (probably) Caster of Red.
But Archer of Red looked at Ruler as if doubting her and spoke.
“What? You’re a mediator, right? Don’t you understand who you should be on guard against right now?”
“—No. Naturally, I understand …”
Those words came from the bottom of her heart. Ruler lessened her caution towards Archer somewhat. Most likely, the Red camp wasn’t monolithic. At the very least, Archer and her Master didn’t seem to consider Ruler a target to be killed.
Yes, right now, the one she should be on guard against wasn’t her.
“…The second Berserker on the Black camp’s side, Spartacus… huh?”
Berserker of Red had been captured by Lancer of Black and forced to change Masters. In other words, despite being Berserker of Red, he was fighting the Red camp as an enemy right now.
Ruler had no issue with that. In the Holy Grail War, allied Servants turning around and becoming enemies was far from impossible.
Was this actually possible? For an instant, Ruler mistook it for a hill. Next, the thought ‘Is that a pile of corpses?’ flashed through her mind—and finally, she had no choice but to arrive at a conclusion that rejected both those guesses.
“Berserker… is it?”
“Yeha. I didn’t think it would become this terrible. I keep shooting and shooting at him, but his body just enlarges and reinforces itself, and now he’s already forgetting his human form. To think that Berserker would go this mad.”
As a related party, Archer of Red sighed as if amazed.
What stood in front of the two of them was truly a hill-like monster. If it were simply large, Ruler wouldn’t have become speechless like this.
What left her at a loss for words was Berserker of Red’s current state.
He had eight arms. Three of them had no bones in them, let alone joints. They were like octopus tentacles, but when they were swung, they became like whips and smashed through the enemy.
His log-like legs had multiple insect-like legs sprouting out from them, most likely to divide the weight since two legs alone couldn’t support him.
His head had sunk into his neck, but upper and lower jaws like that of a Tyrannosaurus rex stuck out from the top of his shoulders.
—Crying Warmonger: Howl of the Wounded Beast.
It’s already more like a kind of curse than a Noble Phantasm, Ruler thought. He lived, he moved, and more than anything else… he still sought the battlefield and victory.
Part of the damage dealt to him was converted into prana and accumulated to raise his abilities. Most likely, that also included his ability to heal. He received damage, converted it into prana, raised his abilities, and used self-healing. There wasn’t even any room for his Master to intervene.
The problem was that this form of recycling continued revolving to the point that it was abnormal. Due to his healing ability going out of control, his body broke away from its proper form. And yet his abilities kept being raised due to receiving damage, and so his body rapidly transformed into a grotesque form.
Height and weight were the easiest factors to use to conjecture the strength of humans. Even those called Heroic Spirits—almost all had the same basic human form.
But Berserker of Red had already discarded that. Eight arms were stronger than two. If his weight was too great to support, then just increase the number of legs.
To the mad warrior who believed in the creed that victory came closer, not farther, the more one was wounded, a situation of this degree was probably trifling.
“There, you, are—!!”
Five eyes, located in various places on Berserker’s shoulders, neck and abdomen, all turned to glare at Archer of Red and Ruler. The two female Servants instantly separated to the left and right respectively as if flicked away. Not caring about that, Berserker of Red swung his sword with all his might.
Pieces of the ground that he blew away and smashed apart flew at Ruler and Archer like high-explosive projectiles.
Rocks tore through their skin and even damaged part of Ruler’s armor. An attack without prana accompanying it could never harm a Servant. But prana had been loaded to the point of bursting into the sword he swung, and it had even contaminated the broken pieces of stone.
It was the same as a Servant throwing dirks with prana loaded into them… Though, it was the first time Ruler had witnessed of the phenomenon of prana clinging even to fragments smashed apart with a sword.
“Hmm. It seems I ended up dragging you into this. Forgive me, Ruler.”
Ruler gently shook her head at Archer of Red’s apology.
“No, I have a lot of experience with trifles like this… However, due to my position, I won’t be facing him as an enemy either. Since any damage he does is limited to this battlefield.”
“Hmm. Well, I have no complaints in regards to that, but—”
Archer of Red looked at Ruler with a sour expression. Ruler’s face stiffened at the sudden chill that came upon her.
“…What is it?”
“It’s an order from my Master. I’m to immediately withdraw from here.”
“Umm, you couldn’t mean…”
After sighing, Archer of Red patted Ruler on the shoulder as if to console her.
“Sorry about this, but I leave the rest to you.”
Archer of Red, Atalanta, one of the heroes in Greek legend who were boasted of being swift runners. Her feet weren’t something that even Ruler could chase after.
Before Ruler even opened her mouth to say “Ah”, Archer had disappeared into the forest—it wasn’t that she went into spiritual form; she just ran off.
Ruler silently looked up. There stood a grotesque-looking hero… no, creature. Berserker aimed his gladius, which was now needle-sized compared to his body, at Ruler.
That’s right. Berserker of Red—Spartacus was a fighter who rebels against all those with power. Ruler was no exception to that.
“…I’ve been had.”
Archer had no animosity towards her. But her Master seemed to have a different opinion.
The ‘someone’ she had to meet had already reached the Hanging Gardens. How should she chase after them…? It would have been nice if she had wings that could let her fly.
However, staying here meant that she would have to fight Berserker of Red, Spartacus. Should she invoke her ‘privilege’?
No, he wouldn’t stop unless he was ordered to die. Eliminating other Servants was something that Ruler shouldn’t fundamentally do. Then should she withdraw? That was also another option that she could hardly call desirable. If she were alone, she might have withdrawn from here. But there was someone else she had left on this battlefield. A boy, who was small and weak, yet had a soul that was sturdy like steel.
At the very least, she had to join up with him, but right now he seemed to be talking with the homunculi back at the rear lines. Most likely in order to save his fellow homunculi, even if it meant doing so alone. Until that was finished, he wouldn’t leave this battlefield.
In that case, she only had one remaining option.
“—Buy time, huh?”
Now that she had lost both the options to retreat and counterattack, the only thing Ruler could do was non-aggressive defence. If she protected herself, Servants from either the Black or Red camp would most likely have to repel him.
That was the optimistic scenario. In the worst case, neither the Black nor Red Servants would come to help her, instead waiting for Ruler and Berserker to take each other out.
This feeling of everyone turning against her. This situation, which would probably freeze the spine of a normal person, felt nostalgic to Ruler.
Scorn, hate, ridicule—even after receiving all those things, her faith had never wavered. To Ruler, who didn’t even have a Master to fight alongside, being alone was normal.
…No, I’m not alone.
Though his goals were different, there was a boy who fought without seeking the Holy Grail. There was someone who knew her and had walked alongside her… Right now, that might be enough for her.
Berserker of Red howled—and Ruler readied her holy flag, saying, “Come at me.”
Right before he swung down his gladius, Ruler repelled it with her holy flag. Two of his whip arms attacked her—and she blocked them both. But then, the third one, which had hidden behind them, swung at her—!
She received a direct hit. She was blown away and rolled across the ground. Luckily, the Dragon Tooth Warriors who had been ordered to kill her acted as cushions for her. In compensation for bringing her to a stop, a row of three of them was smashed apart; she would have flown to the edge of the battlefield if not for that. That attack technique been done through Berserker’s physical strength that was so great it was hard to believe and his prana that he had kept stockpiling.
No, perhaps the attack just now… shouldn’t be called a ‘technique’.
As she stood up, Ruler wiped blood from her lips. Ruler kept a backup of the body she was possessing—of Laeticia’s body. When she achieved her objective or if she was killed midway through the war, at that instant, Laeticia’s body would return to its original form as recorded in the backup and, depending on the situation, would be forcefully transported somewhere safe. With that process, no matter how many wounds this body received, it would immediately regenerate.
Therefore, it could be said there was no problem no matter how wounded she became, but… if she had received the blow just now while defenceless, she would have died.
As if having seen through her doubts, a pillar of light rained down from the sky.
The seven-colored light, which would have seemed beautiful if this weren’t a battlefield, was aimed not at Ruler, but at—
A howl that was mixed with both anguish and joy. Berserker of Red had received damage, and as a result his Noble Phantasm began healing the flesh that had been torn apart. But even the hero of rebellion Spartacus would probably soon be at his limit.
…No, he had already crossed over his limits. He had endured, endured, and endured every possible torture. All that was left was for him to spit it back out—
Instantly, Ruler understood the Red camp’s aim in firing that pillar of light from the sky and Berserker’s own aim.
What this howling man aimed to destroy were oppressors and their vassals… In other words…
“He intends to destroy everything here…!!”
Of course, the members of the Red camp were not an exception to that, but they were within the floating fortress. It was impossible for Berserker to go to a domain where his hands couldn’t reach.
The Dragon Tooth Warriors were simply rank-and-file soldiers to the Red camp. They had no intention of mourning the lives of mere artificial constructs.
On the other hand, the problem was the Black camp. This was probably an unanticipated situation for them as well. Who could have imagined that Crying Warmonger was such a malignant Noble Phantasm?
The abundant prana that Berserker had accumulated and his body that had been transformed by it were already beyond the binds of the Servant contract. Even using Command Spells, which even Heroic Spirits with A rank Magic Resistance could only endure a single one at a time, probably wouldn’t work on him.
Because Command Spells were shackles placed on those below by those above. No matter how low one’s rank was as a magus, as long as one was a Master, their position was superior to their Servant’s.
With the hero of rebellion Spartacus, an order probably wouldn’t be obeyed unless two Command Spells were used even in his normal state. In this situation, even using three Command Spells on him probably wouldn’t work.
Yes, in other words, Berserker of Red wouldn’t stop. Assuming he swung his next blow with all his might, the damage would most likely extend across this entire battlefield. On the contrary, even the Fortress of Millennia, which lay between the town and the battlefield, wouldn’t be able to escape damage either.
Now then, what should I do—as Ruler wavered over her next course of action, she received a revelation. She felt numbing pain course through her Command Spells.
Astonished, Ruler looked off towards a certain direction. Even without being able to grasp it by sight, she could sense it from that overwhelming amount of prana.
Servant parameters were rewritten. It applied to two Servants. One was changed from being listed as healthy to dead, and the other went from a dying state to—
(1) Here, Berserker’s words comes out as a simple yell, but it actually has kanji beneath it, which roughly translates as “brave” or “heroic”.