“That hateful woman has come.”
“That woman who killed those children has come.”
Someone whispered those words. In response to that voice, Archer of Red grabbed her bow. She still hadn’t realized that the whispers of the evil spirits had turned into her own words.
Low level evil spirits could only repeat the same whispers. They shouldn’t have even have had the intelligence to change their words according to the situation.
So this was her own wish.
“Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.” “Kill.”
Archer of Red smiled gently at the whispers and kissed her blackened right arm.
“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely kill that woman, that fraud of a saint.”
Her killing intent had already become as sharp as a blade. Servants possessed strength and abilities that far surpassed humans, but at the same time, they were extremely human in nature.
Love strengthens people, and hatred grants even more power. Of course, both emotions could also lead to self-destruction at their most extreme—but the power they granted was more than worth it to Archer of Red, even if it came at the price of her own destruction.
Atalanta laughed and knocked an arrow on her bow. Even in the pitch-black darkness of night, her eyes accurately locked onto Ruler.
Ruler was holding up her holy flag on top of an airplane in a fearless and majestic manner. Naturally, Assassin of Red activated the defense functions of the Hanging Gardens in response.
A barrage of EX rank of orbs of light was fired from the black plates in quick succession. Each one was as devastating as a meteor falling from the sky. Its pure destructive power which carved through the sky was worthy of being called [Anti-Army].
—However, to put it another way, it was merely an interception spell that “had no merits besides its destructive power”.
Ruler swung her flag at the flood of light orbs—and just that was enough to make the concentrated prana disperse. Her EX rank Magic Resistance skill was part of it, but as expected Ruler’s worst ability lay in that holy flag.
As long as the holy maiden continues to swing her flag, we will know no defeat.
The pure and simple faith of the soldiers who had followed her. That faith had spread across the world along with Jeanne d’Arc’s fame and had taken form as a Noble Phantasm unique to the holy maiden.
It didn’t matter that the length of her history was shallow compared to Rider, Archer and Assassin of Red. Jeanne d’Arc was a saint who was, without exaggeration, known by everyone in the world.
In that case, the flag she now held was capable of brushing aside any and all harm no matter where she was.
Archer of Red figured that Assassin of Red was surely furious right now. After all, even if the Hanging Gardens was ‘vain’, it was still her pride.
An unrivaled and invincible floating fortress that could crush all enemies. Heroes could win against a chariot. They could win against a flying horse, or maybe even a dragon.
But they couldn’t win against a fortress. In the first place, the terms ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’ were meaningless in the face of a fortress.
A fortress was something to be invaded and interception attacks were meant to be dodged; smashing an interception attack head-on shouldn’t be possible.
In concert with that angry shout, more blasts of light danced hysterically through the air. They were completely in Archer of Red’s way. The barrage wasn’t pointless, but it was too wasteful.
…However, though it was wasteful, it wasn’t pointless.
Ruler was a top-class Servant, but she wasn’t all powerful. Even without her Command Spells, she exceeded the average Servant, but she still had her limits.
That was why Ruler had chosen to run away back when she first confronted Shirou Kotomine. Even excluding Archer and Rider of Red whose allegiance hadn’t been decided back then, if Shirou attacked her in concert with Lancer, Assassin and the yet-unseen Caster of Red, it was extremely likely she would have lost even if she used her Command Spells.
Even her holy flag Noble Phantasm wasn’t invincible.
Archer of Red could see that, while it was very gradual, her flag was starting to crack and tear. It was likely the cost of preventing all attacks from coming near her.
Jeanne d’Arc wasn’t invincible in her legend. Though there had been various tricks and evil schemes involved, she had been turned into a prisoner at the end of her life.
In that case, Archer would keep firing arrows until Ruler’s body could no longer endure it and she finally died.
“—Here I come, Ruler. I’ll feed your corpse to the bears.”
She drew back the bowstring and concentrated an enormous amount of prana into the arrowhead. Her beast eyes precisely grasped the instant when Ruler looked at her.
She released her fingers—and the arrow instantly shot out with the arrow gushing huge waves of prana. It looked just like a swift, hungry wolf attacking its prey.
A direct hit from that would wound Lancer of Red, who boasted the greatest physical defense in the Greater Holy Grail War.
However, Ruler’s holy flag expertly crushed the arrow in a swing so fast it looked like a flash and used the momentum to repel some of Assassin of Red’s spell blasts while she was at it. She likely had consciously chosen the direction to scatter the blasts in, as the plane beneath her remained unharmed at least.
However, there was no way Archer of Red’s attack would finish with just a single shot. The instant after she fired the arrow, she nocked another one and filled it with prana.
“Second and third shots ready. Set—Subjugate, Twin Stars.”
She fired two arrows at the same time. If the previous shot was like a wolf, these twin shots, whose trajectories Archer freely controlled with prana, attacked Ruler just like wriggling, poisonous snakes—!
There’s nothing she can do to defend, thought the ultimate huntress.
There’s one thing I can do to defend, thought the arbitrator.
There were two enchanted arrows coming at her, and more light orbs had been fired from the Hanging Garden’s defense mechanism Tiamutomu Umu as well.
At this point, it was impossible for Ruler to take conscious action. It was impossible to calculate which of the two arrows were flying at her faster.
Therefore, she partly cut off her thoughts and simply followed her instincts.
She swung her holy flag in a side sweep—and she repelled the light orbs which were shot from a shorter distance. However, now she couldn’t block the arrows which were falling straight at her from above.
However, even if she couldn’t block them, she could guide the course of events.
It was only natural for Archer of Red to be shocked. Her arrows, which she was certain couldn’t be avoided, had been intercepted by light orbs from the gardens.
Immediately after Ruler had intercepted the light orbs, she’d shifted direction and reflected them above her head. It was an unsightly display of intersecting fire by allies—Archer of Red became enraged.
With that roar, Archer jumped out. Her fastest sprint using her divine feet, which no one had ever been able to catch up to during her lifetime, resembled the running of a beast with her body bent forward at an extreme angle.
In a single breath, Archer of Red crossed a vast distance that was impossible for humans to cross even with all their diligent research and training. At her approach, Ruler held her flag ready—and the two of them glared at each other.
“I’m going, to kill you.”
That repulsive, hate-filled voice belonged to Archer of Red.
“—Unfortunately, that’s impossible.”
And Ruler replied with a great solemnness, as if to stamp out that hatred.
This was how the fight between the two female Servants began.