Prologue

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VOLUME 4

Prologue

—Only nineteen years. The entirety of my life didn’t even span two decades.

+++

If I were to condense my life, I would say that it was those last two years, starting from when I left my home village of Domrémy at the age of seventeen, that were everything to me.

It consisted of one year of glory and one year of abasement and torture.

Some called me a ‘girl of miracles’.

Is this really a miracle, I wonder?

I took action after hearing God’s laments, and I fought while following my heart in order to take back my homeland.

Yes, I fought. Even if my duty was merely to wave a flag on the battlefield, it still meant that I had chosen to kill people. In order to save hundreds of my countrymen, I killed thousands of enemies.

Even if they were enemies, who would have killed me instead if given the chance—murder is still murder.

I broke the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’. Murder is an act that is cruel beyond imagination.

Therefore, most humans who have been burdened with the same fate have thought of it as thus:

Enemies aren’t human. They are demons, evil fiends who starve for blood, and killing them is just, so we kill them out of contempt. Or we kill out of the belief that it is for the sake of our country, our birthplace, or for those we love.’

It is a necessary act. A deed that should be blessed.

Thinking that way, people desperately continue to avert their eyes… if they don’t, they can’t keep living.

If they realize that the ‘strangers’ who face them as enemies are ordinary humans who also love their family and country, and yet continue killing even so, eventually their hearts will break—

+++

I was foolish, ignorant, and helplessly bad at telling lies.

That’s why—I thought of my enemies as humans. Demons are scary, evil fiends are terrifying, but I wasn’t scared of humans. There was just a pain inside me that seemed to mince apart my heart.

Kill people and save people. I believed that there was no method to save my birthplace besides that. I believed, I took an oath, and without repenting, I annihilated the enemy.

The ‘history’ of the world is entangled like a spiral. You’re unable to see the start of it no matter how far you go; its form is beyond absurd, and no matter how many thousands of lives are wasted, it doesn’t end, like some kind of comedy.

You kill because others were killed. You get killed because you killed others. It has to be stopped somehow, but no method to stop it can be found. A spiral that continues on eternally—

Even so. Even so, I chose the path of killing. This path, though vague and indistinct, leads forward. I know that the blood I spilled will lead on to a new path. I know that it will lead to a path that ends with no one’s blood being spilled.

…I truly was a complete fool as I moved forward while carrying that pain.

People called my sinful and bloodstained self a saint. I had to shoulder that title for my entire life—how terrifying.

If I shouted ‘That’s wrong’, everything would end. But it wouldn’t be an end of salvation, but merely an act that threw away what I had been burdened with.

That’s why I continued to shoulder it. I shouldered the people’s hopes and wishes and earnestly pushed forward.

I understood. I knew from long ago that I would fall into ruin. Did I still continue forward for the sake of my homeland? For their hopes and wishes? Or, or…

+++

Was it because I thought that I’m a sinner who should be punished?

+++

What came was not a conclusion that would bring anyone happiness, but a conclusion that was fitting for a war where everyone wounded each other and hated each other.

Burning at the stake was fitting for someone stained in blood like myself.

I don’t mind if others sneer at my pitiful figure and heap mockery and abuse on me.

So I shall pray. Just pray and look at the heavens above. After all, only a foolish and insignificant country girl is dying. An unremarkable event buried within history.

+++

Thus, I thought. Even now that I’m a [Heroic Spirit] who many people believe in—I am still merely a foolish country girl.

+++

…Even so, this Holy Grail War is too irregular in all respects.

This is a unique situation where more than ten Servants have been summoned and where two groups of seven Servants each are fighting each other. And yet, there was an error in the summoning of myself, Jeanne, as Ruler, and I had to enlist the aid of a girl named Laeticia.

The cause of this was the most irregular factor in the Great Holy Grail War—Amakusa Shirou Tokisada.

I, who should have originally acted as a mediator, no longer exist to watch over this war, but to settle things with him.

And there is one other person, who is both the smallest yet greatest irregular factor in this Great Holy Grail War.

Not even given a name, having received a short life and yet struggling to live even so, he is a homunculus who possesses a jewel-like beauty and a human-like distortion.

Everything else, including the battle between the fourteen Servants and the existence of the other Ruler, fades away in the face of his peculiarity.

In the first place, a homunculus is a being manufactured to accomplish a task. Holding no doubts over what they do, they readily obey their master’s orders forever. Moreover, he is a type whose ability to even think is unsteady from birth.

His type revitalizes prana with their Magic Circuits and supplies it to Servants through a spiritual pipe.

Both words and thought are unnecessary for them. They are merely allowed to exist. In exchange for that, they are victims from birth who are continuously exploited.

‘He’ escaped from there.

Trembling in fear, frightened in despair, he wished to live—and crawled out from that prana supply tank.

He, who should have simply been buried away within the world, became an abnormal existence in that instance. To be able to live—for him, that in itself is already an abnormal ability.

And in the brief time that he tried to run away with Rider of Black’s aid, his heart was destroyed, and he fell into a state on the verge of death.

The one who saved him was the famous hero Siegfried from the [Song of the Nibelungs]. Having been summoned as Saber of Black, he gave his own heart to the homunculus.

…The reason for why he did so is uncertain even now. However, Rider, who witnessed his death, heard him whisper his last words.

+++

—Yeah, this is a good end.

+++

Satisfied, Siegfried freely gave out his own life. A homunculus, who shouldn’t even have had a name, received many blessings and managed to survive.

He had such a bright and promising life ahead of him. He had overcome despair and managed to attain hope.

And yet, he returned to this side.

Of course, it was by his own choice. That was an undisputable fact. So, naturally, I should have just viewed and judged him impartially.

But I couldn’t do that. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t view him that way.

One girl within me thought that it was love at first sight. That I had been helplessly charmed by the nobility of the path he chose despite its danger.

…The other girl didn’t think that it was love. She thought that the impulse to protect him was from a revelation that said, it’s necessary.

Either way, the homunculus who named himself Sieg and I decided to work together—

Sharing a mutual interest, we ended up fighting together.

In response to that, half of me rejoiced in love—and the other half of me ached in sin and doubt.

Why did I choose to work together with him and swear to protect him? Was that truly due to my feelings? Or was it—

I threw away those thoughts that, on countless occasions, flickered through my mind. Not knowing the answer, I shelved the matter to the side.

In exchange, I became aware of the feelings that half of me possessed.

Richly-colored, vivid feelings, so sad it makes me want to cry and so funny it feels ridiculous, are whirling inside my other self.

Yes. This is surely love. A beautiful heart like a fleeting flower has always been completely beyond my reach—

…Of course, this is the love not of myself, but of the girl who had accepted me within herself. These overflowing feelings are simply pleasant and lovely.

That’s why I felt slightly guilty that the one ‘he’ saw wasn’t her, but me.

The person you should be looking at is her, not me.

But, for some reason, when I look at ‘him’, I somehow forget the guilt I feel.

…But it’s all right.

This love won’t end. When I disappear, what will remain are the girl and boy who have a future.

Just by imagining that scene, I—feel so happy I want to cry.

+++

The world is beautiful, someone once said.

+++

The infinitely changing white clouds, the ultramarine-colored sky, old trees that gave off a sense of holiness, new sprouts filled with bursting vivacity… Such forms of natural beauty go without saying. But even the great cities where humans continue struggling to live are filled with a man-made beauty that hides their ugliness.

The world isn’t gentle or easy. Rather, the harshness of just surviving is a natural part of the world. Herbivores are eaten by carnivores, carnivores are defeated by human guns, and humans are defeated by something non-human. Even those non-human things—are defeated by mere humans. The victors eventually become the defeated, and are always faced with the despairing cruelty of the world.

There is evil. There is good as well. There is also something grey, in which good and evil are indistinct.

And even so, the world is beautiful.

Life rejoices at being alive. There is neither beauty nor ugliness in that; there is only earnest sweat and effort. As long as people don’t arrogantly flaunt the fact they exist—in other words, as long as they continue to choose to live.

+++

The world will surely be eternally beautiful.

While basking in the fleeting and warm light of twilight.

Someone thus prayed.

+++

The world is ugly, someone once declared1.

+++

Chaos is inevitable in this world. Pure good can’t be achieved, and pure evil breaks down. And these two extremes are always incompatible with each other. There is still some evil in a good world. That is how the world is, and it is what continues to create ugly things. Evil sneers at good, and good rages over evil. But, in a world where good and evil oppose each other, there is a group that is far more numerous that always appears.

That is ‘grey’. Neither good nor evil. A group that drifts through life haphazardly and merely exists. They don’t believe in goodness and are simply proud that they aren’t evil. Even though they affirm evil acts, they deny evil intentions. They happily say that ‘I am not evil, I am a good person’ and pardon all forms of cruelty.

They kill people while sneering. They kill people out of contempt. They kill people as part of a game. They use the excuse that they can’t restrain their desires—That’s how humans are. That’s how the world is.

Yes—this world is extremely ugly. Neither dyed by good nor fallen into evil. Unable to decide on a color, the wills of people continue to waver. As long as such evil intentions and such foul-smelling corpses aren’t destroyed.

+++

The world will surely continue to rot eternally.

While wrapped within a curse-like fog in darkness frozen to its core.

Someone thus concluded.

END OF PROLOGUE

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TRANSLATOR’S NOTES

(1) In the original book, the following text was laid out on page in reverse color from the rest of the pages, with white text on a black background. This is to emphasize the contrast between the two monologues at the end of this chapter and their opposing viewpoints.

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One thought on “Prologue

  1. Pingback: Most Recent Releases Updated 02/19/17 | NanoDesu Light Novel Translations

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