From the rooftop of Trifas City Hall, Archer of Red watched the disastrous scene below with a dumbfounded expression.
Fog covered Trifas. Even if it was a small town, it was insane for the entire town to be covered by fog. All the traffic on the streets and sidewalks always died out immediately once it turned nighttime these days, but since the sun had only just set, many people who were in the midst of returning home should have been engulfed within the fog.
In reality, screams were rising from all over the town. At first people were confused, then they shrieked, and after screaming, they begged for help with hoarse voices.
…There was nothing she could do.
…And most of all, she didn’t intend to do anything about it either.
“You were all unlucky.”
Archer of Red coldly muttered that. The inhabitants here should have already noticed the abnormalities occurring in this town. They were the ones who decided to go walking at night in this situation.
Assassin of Black was certainly involved with the specific manner of their deaths, but the responsibility of their death lay with themselves, and most of all—they were just fatally unlucky.
…It was a common occurrence. The weak are devoured by the strong due to bad luck, and even the strong were brought to an end by ‘something else’. Therefore, Archer of Red had no intention of saving them.
Her vision was completely blocked by the fog, but if she used her sense of hearing and ability to sense the presence of other Servants, she could roughly grasp the location of each Servant. As expected, Assassin of Black was the only one whose presence was vague and hard to grasp, but Ruler was easy to detect. She was a vortex of light that shined purely and honestly no matter how dark the night was.
Archer of Red could tell that Rider and Archer of Black were searching for her, but they didn’t seem to be able to detect her presence yet. Most likely, Ruler was the only one who could sense her.
But Ruler was sprinting through the fog right now. She was fighting Assassin of Black. In other words, she didn’t have the time to concentrate on Archer of Red.
“Even so… to think that she’s unable to take down Assassin.”
Archer of Red tilted her head in puzzlement. Assassin, just as the name indicated, was the class of ‘assassination’. To them, facing the enemy head-on was the height of foolishness.
For her not to be able to take down Assassin one-on-one, it meant that either Ruler was a very weak and puny Servant, or that this fog gave Assassin a tremendous advantage—
Either way, the time had come for Archer of Red to make a decision on how to act.
Should she throw herself into the fog, or continue waiting and watching like this?
Watching from the sidelines was a valid tactic, but there was one problem… Since earlier, Rider of Black had been actively doing reconnaissance from the sky. Archer was confident that the swiftness of her feet wouldn’t lose to even Rider of Red, but even so, she wanted to at least avoid being pursued by a hippogriff.
A flying Phantasmal Beast born from a griffin and a horse. No matter how much she sprinted across the earth, that thing could easily catch up with her from the sky.
If there was any merit in boldly jumping into the fog, it was that a chance to kill Ruler might appear. Archer of Red had decided to acknowledge Shirou Kotomine as her Master. She didn’t know if his ‘method’ was truly right. But there was definitely truth in his words.
She wanted to believe it. Archer of Red had a wish that she prioritized above everything else.
The salvation of all young children in the world. A world where they are all loved—where they are all happy, without a single exception. The malice in the world said that such a thing was impossible. Everyone devours each other; that was how the world worked. Even Archer of Red understood that.
Even so. Even so, she couldn’t help but wish for it… After all, Atalanta herself was abandoned on a mountain immediately after she was born.
“A woman is unnecessary.”
Her father had said that and abandoned her on a mountain. The moon goddess Artemis had seen this and thought it pitiful, so she decided to send a female bear to raise her.
Protected by the bear, Atalanta grew up on the mountain.
Many other babies besides her were abandoned on that mountain. Most of those infants died due to either being devoured by beasts or starving to death. Even if they survived by chance, their thought processes were exactly the same as a beast’s. Separated from the world, they lived meaningless lives and died meaningless deaths.
Thanks to being raised by the female bear, Atalanta’s life was rescued, and eventually she was found by a hunter.
She remembered quite well the moment when she was abandoned. As an infant, she had noisily flapped her hands and desperately sought her father and mother—but her mother wasn’t there, and her father had abandoned her.
She remembered wanting to be saved. She remembered wanted for someone to grasp her hand.
She remembered that her wish wasn’t granted, and how she had drowned in a sea of fear—and how she had held out her hands while sobbing.
The wound in her heart from being abandoned never healed.
Even after growing up beautifully and becoming a famous archer—she continued to maintain her solitude.
She had friends. She had comrades with whom she rode the Argo alongside and went through many adventures. But she never found a human she could love to the point of risking her life and didn’t think to have a child either.
She felt that way even more after the competition and struggle over her during the Calydonian Hunt.
But—most likely because of her fame that arose from her adventures, Atalanta’s beauty became known by many people, and in the end reached the ears of her father as well.
“Anyone is fine. Take a husband and bear a child.”
To her father, his reunion with Atalanta was a joyous event. But that was only because she had grown up to be beautiful and could be used as marriage material.
…Ultimately, the father never loved his daughter, from beginning to end.
After that, she tried to run away from the marriage once she learned the conditions for it, but she was caught in a scheme and ended up marrying Hippomenes.
—She just wanted to be loved.
She wanted to know true love with no strings attached to carnal desire, honor or lust for power.
It would have been better if she could believe that there was no such thing as love. If she could think that this world was hell, that this was a damned world where parents devour their children and children devour their parents—how much better would have been?
But that was incorrect.
There were parents who love their children in the world. It was a free, wonderful love. There were parents who gave up their lives for the sake of their children. There were parents who worked hard their entire lives for the sake of their children and still smiled.
On the other hand, there were parents who oppressed their children. There were parents who treated the children they had given life to like trash.
That’s wrong, Atalanta thought.
That must be corrected, Atalanta thought.
Even though she understood it was a natural part of the world’s cruelty, she still wished for it to be changed.
The reason she was participating in the Holy Grail War was because she had the faint hope that the Holy Grail would be able to grant her wish.
It was a wish that Assassin of Red had called “impossible”.
Archer herself also understood that. She thought that it might be a wish that surpassed the ability of the Holy Grail.
But Shirou Kotomine had showed her a way. That boy had showed her hope. A method to save the world, to save all children using the Holy Grail.
In that case, she would eliminate even Ruler if she became an obstruction.
She was fully aware of the danger in jumping into the fog. She was fully aware, but—
“If it’s for the sake of those children, I have no regrets.”
Archer of Red leaped from the rooftop of city hall and jumped into the fog.