Though only slightly, blood flowed out from the nape of Ruler’s neck. The vacant-eyed girl had stabbed her with a scalpel. There was little strength in the attack, and the scalpel itself didn’t have much prana loaded within it either. But the girl’s arm had changed to the color of black, to the point that it was painful to look at.
Spiritual possession—possession by a low-level spirit was a common phenomenon. Dispersing the spirit wasn’t very difficult either. Normally, Ruler would have been able to easily deal with her attack, even if it was a surprise attack.
But on top of embracing the aforementioned girl in her arm, Ruler had concentrated all her senses on the attacking Assassin of Black.
Her thoughts halted for a slight instant at this extremely unexpected attack. That temporary halt in her thoughts was precisely what Assassin of Black had aimed for—
Here it comes…!
Here I go…!
Assassin of Black—activated her Noble Phantasm, Maria the Ripper: Holy Mother of Dissection.
Ruler—activated her Noble Phantasm, Luminosité Eternelle: God is Here With Me.
All of Jack the Ripper’s preparations were complete. She had prepared a situation where she could use her Noble Phantasm to maximum effect, and had perfectly made a surprise attack by using a decoy.
Therefore, Assassin was one step faster.
Ruler’s Noble Phantasm was slightly late in activating.
But, even so, that grudge did not reach Ruler.
The rushing black grudge tried to possess Ruler, and at the same time tried to split open her abdomen—but Ruler’s Noble Phantasm activated immediately before it could.
An intense shock ran through the holy flag. As expected, it couldn’t absorb all of the curse and the damage, and numbness ran through her entire body. Different from Berserker of Red’s attack, which was a simple torrent of energy, this was a curse-type Noble Phantasm that followed some form of rules.
It was something that could easily kill and dissolve a normal Servant.
Ruler cried out in anguish and spat out black-dyed blood. But she didn’t bend even a single knee, and somehow managed to hold her ground there.
The one who shouted in astonishment was Assassin of Black, who had just landed on the ground. She had definitely activated her certain-death Noble Phantasm under perfect conditions. And yet it hadn’t even dealt a fatal wound.
“So you’re… a user of evil spirits, Assassin of Black.”
Ruler pinned down the struggling young girl with one hand, and after she touched her forehead, the girl fainted. Ruler then sprinkled holy water from her pocket over her and quickly exorcised the spirit within her. Her blackened arm soon returned to normal—and her atrocious appearance changed to that of a gentle young girl.
“Why… aren’t you dead?”
Assassin’s voice was somehow strange. It was rough and mixed together with odd noise, as if several people were saying the same words at the same time.
Most shocking of all was that she looked just like a very young girl. For a young girl to be a Servant was unusual enough, but for her to be the serial killer Jack the Ripper who once terrorized Greater Britain was far beyond Ruler’s expectations.
Without revealing the surprise she felt within, Ruler replied to Assassin’s question.
“Unfortunately, I possess something with a resistance against curses.”
“…That flag, huh?”
Assassin of Black nodded in understanding. That flag had absorbed Assassin of Black’s attack like a lightning rod. Her preparations hadn’t been meaningless; the evil spirit she had put into the child that she had kidnapped within the town had borne fruit, making Ruler’s Noble Phantasm slightly delayed in its activation.
As a result, the curse had definitely adversely affected the Servant before her eyes—but she was still alive.
“…Onee-san, is your class Lancer? …No. The number of Servants wouldn’t match in that case. Saber, then?”
“No, neither. I am Ruler, the mediator of the Great Holy Grail War.”
Assassin of Black’s eyes widened.
“Heeh. Ruler… so there was such a class as well. I didn’t know,” Assassin murmured.
Ruler glanced at the girl that had fainted. If she had remained possessed by that evil spirit, even her soul would have been contaminated and she would have turned into the living dead.
Ruler thrust her holy flag forward. As if pressured by her gallantness, Assassin took a step back.
“Assassin. The Holy Grail War should consist of only seven Masters and Servants competing over the Holy Grail. Your behavior in dragging an innocent child into this is the worst possible offence. I won’t let you get away.”
“…Hmm. Is that so?”
Ruler’s words seemed to touch upon something within Assassin of Black. She looked at the sleeping girl, and then suddenly threw a scalpel at her.
Ruler repelled it with her flag—but she felt something was off. There was no meaning in that attack. Ruler could only think that it was an outburst of anger. No, if it wasn’t an outburst of anger, then—
“Assassin… it couldn’t be…”
“Children are a dime a dozen. If you still want to protect her… then good luck with that.”
Holding eight scalpels between her fingers—Assassin smiled faintly.