Well, ask and ye shall receive. Since some people wanted to read this, I decided to post the "end" of the Twelve Days of Carenmas christmas special that I ran last year. Basically, the only thing missing are the twelve short stories that led up to this, but they weren't really that good, so I decided to leave them out. In any case, here it is, holiday fun in the middle of the summer. Once more - Verg Avesta Christmas Special: Just From Me, to All of You.
Kotomine Kirei closed the bible he was still holding in his hands, and let out a small sigh that signified satisfaction with what had just transpired. He had finished the Christmas Eve mass just a good ten minutes ago, and now last of people had left the church. Once again, he felt that it had been a great success. After all, he had managed to crush the holiday spirits of a church-full of people in only one hour or so.
Kotomine Kirei was not one to actually celebrate Christmas, even though it was one of the most important holidays of the Holy Church, as it was the day the birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated. However, since he could not actually feel any kind of joy from celebrating that holiday, it was pretty much meaningless for him to celebrate it. After all, when it came down to a religion, a celebration that invokes no feelings is a meaningless one.
That was why, even though he had (with the help of Lancer) decorated the church to the Yule spirits, he was thinking of calling it a day and spending the rest of the day by writing his mass for the New Year’s Eve over a glass of wine. There were worse ways to spend the day, and since the war in Fuyuki had ended, there was nothing else for him to do. Even Emiya Shirou, whom he sometimes pestered with phone calls and invitations for dinner (consisting of Mabo Tofu), had disappeared somewhere.
“Well, Christmas is supposedly time of peace and quiet…….I might as well follow that example, no?” Kirei laughed, looking at the snow-covered grounds of the church through one of the windows.
He was just about to turn around and head to the inner parts of the building, when his eyes caught a sight of something…….strange……in the midst of all that snow. At first, he dismissed it as just one of the people that were visiting the foreigners’ cemetery, but when the group just grew and grew, and apparently got closer and closer, his opinion changed. He finally got interested enough to move to a window with a better view, so he could actually see the whole approaching group.
And when he did so, he started to hear a faint song. A song that reminded him of that one, particular American song associated with Christmas…
“Well, well…………what might this be now? A parade?” he wondered to himself, as he looked at the approaching group of people.
The closer the supposed parade came, the more confused Kotomine Kirei became. Finally, even he had to take his priest robe and put it on, before heading out to the snow to see the whole thing with his own eyes. So, he exited the warmth of the church. And just in time, as when he closed the door behind him, the whole group had finally arrived to the hilltop.
First came twelve Mukuros, who were apparently dancing something resembling one of those old pair-switching dances they danced in Wild West. Needless to say, it looked somewhat absurd, taking in account that they were large, shadowy wolf-creatures.
After the Mukuros, came eleven Assassins. Kotomine’s former Servant(s) were hopping around while balancing plates of steaming hot Mabo Tofu on both of their hands. Next, came ten animals who seemed nothing like normal animals. Even Kotomine understood they were extremely powerful familiars…..who were prancing around like idiots, lead by person who seemed to be one of the Dead Apostle Ancestors. They were followed by Berserker, who kept swinging his huge axe sword around with enough speed and strength to destroy the whole church in one blow.
After Berserker, there was eight…..something……that Kotomine did not recognize. However, they were seemingly lead by a young woman with angel-wings, and the whole lot was frolicking like a bunch of kids in the snow. Behind them, came a single young girl with hooves, stuffing herself with carrots. She was followed by six maids, who were showing their tights and other fansercivy areas constantly, in what seemed almost forced manner.
After the maids, what appeared was the five Saber Sisters. They were playfully fencing amongst themselves, although the original one seemed to be wearing a constant frown on her face. Next, came four high school girls. Three of them were goaded by the fourth, who was wearing a pleasant smile, as opposed to the fearful faces of the other three. And the high school girls didn’t end there. The next three that came were high school girls too, but this time, they were dressed in track team clothes. Behind them, Kotomine saw Emiya Shirou and Archer, trying constantly to project something, but from the looks on their faces, he understood they had yet to succeed.
And who came last? Kotomine understood from how the person skipped, while carrying a large pole where someone was tied, that this person was the one who led the whole parade, in a sense. The white hair seemed to melt into the snow around her, and the golden eyes were sparkling with the kind of joy that he had never seen in them before. Yes, as opposed to the usual, the girl coming last truly seemed like a girl of her age during Christmas, instead of her usual attitude.
And the moment she saw Kotomine, and made an eye contact with him…..
“Merry Christmas, Papà!”
Caren Ortensia yelled this with a face so bright, even Kotomine had hard time believing it.
After the parade of unexpected character had come to a full stop, Caren stuck the pole she was carrying to the ground, leaving the poor unfortunate fellow who had been tied to it there, forgotten. She half ran over to Kotomine, while beaming in a way Kotomine had never seen before. As she got close, Kotomine looked at her with a haunt of a smile.
“Now, now. Caren, what might this be?”
“This? This is my Christmas present for you, Papà”, she explained, sounding proud of herself. “Since you never celebrate Christmas, I thought that this year, I’d bring you a full-blown Christmas to where you are. This way, you too could enjoy it.”
“I must admit, this present has gotten me to the Christmas mood. After all, just thinking about what kind of actions you must have taken in order to gather all these people greatly amuses me”, Kotomine chuckled, sound even a slightly proud of his daughter.
“Oh, and this is not all, Papà”, Caren suddenly said. And when Kotomine looked at her confusedly, she continued explaining. “This is just the beginning. Because now, we’re going to have a Christmas party, here at your church. And there, I’ve invited everyone. Literally everyone. From every canon character to the characters that only appear in this author’s fics, everyone will be here!”
This took Kotomine for surprise. To think that his daughter had managed to do that in such a short time……….it really told something about her desire to bring a true Christmas to her father.
“So I’ll say it again”, Caren announced, with a huge smiled on her face. “Merry Christmas, Papà!”
Verg Avesta Christmas Special
Just from Me to All of You
“Wow……there truly is a lot of folk in here”, Emiya Shirou commented as they entered the Church.
It was just as he had said. The whole church was full of people. All the pews had been removed, and instead, there were tables here and there, full of Christmas food. People had gathered around them, eating and chatting happily. Some of them were more focused on the food, of course. For example, the Aozaki sisters were apparently having a competition on turkey eating, while the slightly drunk Kojirou acted as a referee. Luckily, Caren seemed to have been wise enough to request Sakura and Kohaku to make additional turkeys just for those two, as otherwise, the Christmas food that was being served here would have disappeared very quickly.
“Ah, welcome, Shirou-sama”, Hisui greeted Shirou after he had closed the door behind him. “Allow me to take your jacket.”
“Thanks, Hisui. You’re working hard as ever”, he smiled at the maid, who just shook her head.
“Not at all. During a time like this, a maid is supposed to do her utmost best. After all, this is our Christmas celebration, too”, she said. Shirou nodded, understanding very well what she meant.
“Indeed. Oh, Hisui? Have you seen Tohsaka? She told me she was coming here before me, but…” he turned his eyes back to the crowd, trying to see Tohsaka Rin, but with no success.
“If you’re wondering about Rin-sama, she is over there in the corner with Akiha-sama and Tuuliveta-sama. It seems that those three had something to talk about”, Hisui answered, pointing to the corner. And there…..
“Oh, don’t be absurd! Out of the three of us, I am by the far the best tsundere character! I even have ojou-sama traits!” Akiha announced, but Tuuliveta scoffed at her.
“Allow me to laugh. I outdo you in both aspects, clearly. That should be enough to tell that I am clearly the best tsundere character!” she retorted, but Tohsaka Rin laughed at the both of them.
“Oh, don’t be silly, you two. Just look. I have twin tails and thigh-highs. There can’t be more tsundere signs than these, no?”
Emiya Shirou deemed that it was best to leave that arguing trio alone.
He exchanged few more words with Hisui, before moving to the inner church, where most of the people were. Sella and Leysritt were taking care of refilling the tables that were starting to get devoid of any food, while Kohaku and Sakura were working in the kitchen. And it was necessary, since during a Christmas with so many Heroic Spirits, one could guess there would be lot of eating.
“Ooh, boy! Nice to see you too”, Lancer shouted to Shirou, gaining his attention. With a smile, Shirou approached the table where the blue-haired man was sitting.
He was in rather strange company. Not only was the 4th War Lancer there, but the Saber of the Tengetsu Holy Grail War was also there, along with the Lancer of the war in the floating city of OLYMPUS. In addition, Lancer of the Heaven’s Paradox was also there, although he seemed to drunk from the eggnog to speak anything coherent. It seemed that these unexpected acquaintances had gathered together simply because of their similar personalities. Well, that was except for the 4th War Lancer. He was firmly lodged under the arm of Tengetsu War’s Saber, and had no hope of escaping.
“Bwahahaha! Good to see that you made it too, Emiya Shirou!” Saber laughed. “I see that my “Class-mate” has managed to keep you in one piece. That’s good, that’s good!”
“I’m glad to see you all in such high spirits. It seems that even you Heroic Spirits like to celebrate Christmas”, Shirou said to them, only to have the two blue-haired Lancer’s laugh at him.
“What are you talking about?” The 5th War Lancer chuckled. “It’s not about Christmas. It’s about the chance to eat and drink as much as you want!”
Well, that was to be expected.
“Ooh, I hear dere’s few guys ‘ere with a good mindset!” came a shout from close-by. That was Thunusakurn Kaeo, who was clearly drunk. “Can I join ya guys?”
“Bwahahaha, just sit down, sit down!” Saber said, and scooted over to make some space. “Maybe you can teach this boya here to drink? I’ve heard you’re quite the bottle-fairy, bwahahahaha!”
The person who Saber had pointed while saying “boya” was none other than Tikhon Belanov. The poor guy seemed to be ready to escape at any given moment, but the clutch of this Saber was too strong.
Emiya Shirou was glad that Arturia had become his Saber, instead of this woman.
After chatting for a while with the rowdiest group in the church, Emiya Shirou decided to get some food for himself. While walking to the nearest table, he was able to witness some strange sights. For example, it seemed that Matou Shinji, Shirazumi Lio and Tohno SHIKI got along surprisingly well, and they drank some canned coffee while watching Fuma Rina chase Wallachia around the church (the latter was screaming “Pad Pad Pad Pad Pad Pad!”, while carrying something that Rina seemed almost desperate to get back). He also walked past two rather similar looking girls. Other was a blue-haired samurai girl, while the other was a red-haired samurai girl.
“So…..do you have any idea, Aries-dono?” Tsubasa asked. “Which of us is the original, and which one was derived from the other….?”
“No idea”, Aries answered with a grumpy face. “At this point, I think he has forgotten it, too. I think it’s ridiculous to expect to ever get an answer to that question.”
As if to emphasize her point, Aries angrily skewered a piece of ham with her knife.
Shirou decided to get food from another table. It seemed that in that table, where the samurai-girls of certain author had gathered, dark thoughts had started to brew. He wanted none of it, especially not during Christmas. That was why he moved on to the next table, even though it meant he had to wait until Kariya and Gawain had managed to wrestle the piece of turkey Lancelot had turned into a Noble Phantasm out of his hands. While the blonde knight reprimanded his friend, Shirou loaded up his plate full of Christmas foods.
“Oh, if it isn’t Emiya. Good afternoon”, a somewhat dull voice greeted him from behind. As Shirou turned around, he saw both Ryougi Shiki and Mitsuzuri Ayako standing there, their plates full of food.
“Oh, Mitsuzuri. And Ryougi-san. Merry Christmas to you two too”, Shirou greeted them with a smile. “I must say, seeing you two together is a bit of a surprise.”
“Well, it’s not that surprising”, Ryougi answered. “Since Mikiya left over to that strange group of people over there, I was alone and bored, and since you hadn’t yet arrived, Mitsuzuri here was alone and bored, we got along pretty quickly.”
This seemed to make Mitsuzuri a bit angry, because her cheeks turned slightly red. Or was it the eggnog?
“E-enough about that. More importantly, Emiya: What do you think about that girl?” Mitsuzuri hurriedly changed the subject, and pointed at a person who was standing with Ciel and Mr.Dawn, discussing something in great detail.
“Hmm, wait a minute….I don’t think there are many albinos around, so that has to be Cancer. Those nun robes are a giveaway, I suppose”, Shirou answered. “She’s one of the friends of that Aries over there.”
“I see, I see…..” Mitsuzuri said, looking to be deep in thought. “I just get this feeling that….she’s absolutely amazing in archery. There’s something in that posture of hers that tells me that.”
“Oh?” Shiki snorted. “The fact that Robin Hood continues to try to hit on her didn’t serve as any kind of hint?”
And indeed. The green-clad Archer with red hair was almost constantly trying to get the albino nun to pay attention to her, but Cancer always sent her away with some cold words. Truth to be told, Shirou felt a bit sad for him.
After chatting for a while with Mitsuzuri and Ryougi, Shirou decided to search for the group where Mikiya had joined. Apparently, according to Ryougi, it was something like a “main male lead gathering” or something, so he felt like he should be there. While walking around the church, searching for Mikiya, Shirou once again saw more people he instantly recognized. Sion and Rani were getting drunk on eggnog, with the latter consoling the former, as apparently, Male Protagonist had been earlier dragged off to somewhere by Casko. Rani did not apparently like this at all. And it didn’t help that Female Protagonist was right now enjoying the attention showered upon her by Kojirou, Li Shuwen, Leo B. Harway and Mr. Mysterious himself, Julius B. Harway.
But such scenes were not that rare. After all, just by looking in slightly different direction, Shirou could see that Medea was glaring at the drunken Ursula von Einzbern, who had just been making advances at Kuzuki. However, while Medea was concentrating on the grumpy Einzbern, Kuzuki had already entered into a rather long discussion with Li Hong, who, as a fellow martial artist, found a lot to talk about with Kuzuki.
It really seemed that the Christmas atmosphere had gotten to everyone.
After dodging two blonde-haired girls who ran out of the church while screaming. “Noooooo!! Don’t, Ane-ueeeee!!”, Shirou finally got Mikiya into his sights. Or, so he thought. The fact was that he actually saw Tohno Shiki first, but since the two of them were so similar, it was not very easy to distinguish them from afar. But, as he got closer, he saw that the two of them were actually sitting around the same table, so it did not matter. There were also few others around that table. Namely, the Rider of Heaven’s Paradox, Leon Hart, Gilgamesh and Wolf. All of the main male leads of the various stories had truly gathered around the same table.
“Oh, Shirou! We were waiting for you”, Leon said, raising his glass as a greeting. Shirou noted that the young man wore his grand sunglasses even inside. “Have a seat, have a seat.”
“Well, Merry Christmas to you all”, Shirou greeted them as he sat down. “How are you all doing?”
“Not good enough, Faker!” Gilgamesh hit the table with his fist, looking rather pissed off. “I mean, what’s up with all of this!? You all get to be the main characters in action-packed stories, where you get to be cool all the time. And what’s left for me? A gag fic, where I’m forced to be a P.E teacher! What’s up with that!?”
“Oh, answer to that is simple”, Wolf said with a grin. “People have finally realized the ridiculousness of your character. After one realizes that, there’s no way you can be casted back into a serious role anymore.”
“Fuhahaha, that’s right, that’s right! Back in the days, I was wondering many times how the hell did this guy manage to stay as a king”, Rider of Heaven’s Paradox, or Enkidu as most called him nowadays, laughed, and patted his friend on the back.
“Oh yeah, Enkidu….” Shirou said, looking at the tanned, blond man. “If you’re here, does that mean that the other Enkidu is….?”
“Oh, he’s here too. Just look over there”, Rider said, and pointed to the other part of the church.
There, Shirou could see the feminine Enkidu chasing Archer, who had been stripped of all of his clothing, except for a haphazardly traced Santa-hat, which he used to cover his most private area. This seemed like a scene that was best left alone, even though the Makidera and her friends were having lots of fun watching it. Or so could be thought from their loud laughing.
“I think you’re faring quite fine, since you don’t have that kind of obnoxious stalker at your tail”, Tohno Shiki chuckled, while taking a sip from his eggnog. However, Gilgamesh gave him a troubled look.
“Well, Enkidu is one thing, but if we are speaking about stalkers, then-“
A yell echoed through the church, and Emiya Shirou saw how Gilgamesh’s face turned into a mask of absolute terror. Quickly, the King of Heroes ducked under the table, and not a moment too soon. A red arrow swooshed just past him, and landed on the floor behind him. Shirou had to rub his eyes a few times before it sank into him just who had aimed for Gilgamesh with that lunge. It was the youngest of all Sabers, the Red Saber. It seems that after spotting Gilgamesh, she had quickly left the conversation she had been in, leaving both Takako Karin and the original Saber dumbfounded.
“There thou art, Gilgamesh-dono! Now, thou shall cometh with me, for I am in dire need of thy assistance!” Red Saber said in her grandiose way. “Thou must cometh to assure my new friends of how wonderful student I am! So come! ‘Tis a chance to praise me to thy heart’s content!”
And so, the kicking and screaming Gilgamesh was dragged into the other part of the church, while the rest of the main characters watched in horror. Afterwards, they all silently thanked the god in their hearts for the fact that they had no such stalker after them.
“So, how have the rest of you been?” Shirou asked, after the situation had calmed down. Shiki smiled calmly, stretching.
“Oh, it’s been surprisingly calm. The author has not used me much in his fic, so I have lots of free time, you see”, he explained. This piqued Shirou’s interest.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. We don’t even know what route is considered “canon” in this author’s continuity. I come from UBW True ending, but how about you?” he asked from Shiki.
“That’s right, I think it was…….yeah, I come from Kohaku’s Ending. It seems the events that transpired there are considered “canon” in this continuity.”
“Well, that’s a surprise”, Leon commented. “That would mean that you never met Arcueid, right? That’s really surprising.”
“That seems to be the case, yes”, Shiki admitted.
Shirou then turned his questioning glance at the rest of the men around the table.
“Well, we’re supposed to head to Okinawa in the next chapter, so I can’t say I’m doing badly”, Leon answered first. “Though I have this bad premonition we’ll be picking up more idiots from there into our team.”
“Well, that sounds at least peaceful. It seems that we are getting to the gist of the battles once the author just decides to write the next chapter”, Rider commented, giving a big yawn. “Supposedly, Caster is supposed to make an appearance pretty soon, along with few of other people who are important to the story. Apparently, were about 60% done with the story.”
“Hmm, that’s nice”, Wolf said with a bitter voice. “I’m still stuck in the limbo as the author is updating our story. Lots of changes have happened already. Just look at there, for example. That damn spoiled princess got added into our group, which has already posed lots of problems.”
Wolf pointed at the girl with a hair that slowly changed its color from purple to blue the lower you went. She was discussing something intently with the Rider from Fate/Extra, and since they both seemed to share the same trait of absolute greed, they got along very well.
“Oh, that’s Prima, isn’t it? Yeah, I read about her in those few updated chapters I got into my hands”, Shirou nodded.
“In any case…..” Leon said, tapping the table slightly. It seemed that he had already gotten enough of eating. “Are we going to get any entertainment during this Christmas party? That priestess seemed to have been planning this for quite a while, so I’d expect to see at least something……”
And, as if to answer his question, Caren Ortensia appeared with Kotomine Kirei from the back room of the church. She raised her hands in order to get a silence in the church, and after a while, all of the guests stopped talking, turning their attention young priestess. The only noise that came, came from Bluebeard and Ryuunosuke, who were still building their massive, tentacle-armed snowman outside.
“It is good to see you all gathered here to celebrate the Christmas”, Caren started. “I must say it has been a fun year. We’ve experienced a lot of things, tried a lot of things, failed at some and experienced some great successes. This Christmas party is meant as a thank you for all of you, every character and every reader, who has been involved with any of this author’s fics.”
“However, what kind of story would this be if the only things the readers could read about would be us eating Christmas food and talking about meaningless stuff?” Caren continued. “A boring story, that’s what it would be. That is why we have commissioned this next story, for the enjoyment of all of you. It is a story that was written a while ago, and would probably not have been born if not for the author of fic “Mind of Steel” and the author of the fics “Dear Tohsaka”, “Dear Emiya” and “Dear Matou”. A thank you for them is in order.”
An applause came from the crowd. One that was heard most loudly was Iskander, clapping his huge hands together with such force that the whole church rang.
“So, without further ado: Let’s enjoy this special story, created for just this occasion. A story known simply as: Faker.”
And so, the whole church silenced to watch…
I am the bone of my sword. His body is made out of swords.
Finally, the tall man’s expression changes. Instead of the stern expression, the expression of a killer, he previously had, I see now only utter disbelief. He cannot believe it. Of course he can’t. Why could he? There is no way he can believe I already figured it out.
------------- Aa~ah. Fool. Do you take me for an idiot?
Something like that……..I figured out long ago.
Steel is my body and fire is my blood. His blood is of iron and his heart of glass.
“----------Do you think I’ll let you!?”
The knight in red charges. He does not know exactly what is about to happen. However, he knows enough to understand that whatever is about to happen, will most likely hinder his chances of victory. And this is the one thing he cannot stand. Against the very opponent he is fighting against, that knight in red cannot allow him to gain a upper hand. Not after all what was done. Not after all that the opponent did.
And for the fact that he stands before him now.
I am the one opponent he cannot allow to gain even the smallest chance of victory. I know that, and I know the fact that he is about to kill me because of it. Yet I wonder why…..? Why does that desperation in his grey eyes make me somewhat amused? Maybe it’s because I can imagine that I had exactly those same kinds of eyes many times in the past. But not anymore.
-------------- Now there is only steel.
I have created over a thousand blades. He survived through countless battles.
Without regret. Without emotion. Not even once retreating. Not even once knowing mercy.
The pair of twin-swords cuts the air, aiming for my neck. However, they are blocked by the gigantic axe-sword that is made out of stone far too tough for them to cut. With a single swing, I force the attacker to back down. After all, this massive weapon’s reach is far more, and such a simple, desperate move is easy enough to predict. And because of the strength of the monster I copied, even the knight in red has to retreat, as otherwise, he would lose his own arm.
I told you already, Archer. It is too late. The moment you two arrived here, your defeat was sealed. The fact that I allowed you to get this far only means that.
You two are……….the final obstacle in my way.
Withstood pain to create weapons, burning the path behind me. He needed no one else. Climbing up the hill of swords.
“Emiya Shirou--! Even you can’t be so stupid as to believe that even if you bring that out, you can match my world. The world of Emiya Shirou who had a lifetime to hone his skills!”
It seems that Archer is really annoyed with me. Fine. I guess it’s just fair. After all, he is annoying me too. A failure of a future, something that sickens me even to see. That Emiya Shirou is nothing more than a half-hearted fool who never once truly accepted the burden of a superhero. That Emiya Shirou was not the son of Emiya Kiritsugu…..
……….No. Even that is wrong.
“That meaningless banter of yours will get you nowhere”, I answer to him. “A Heroic Spirit full of nothing more than regret…….you’re even failure as a Faker. You tell me you’ve honed those skills to a perfection, but even a child can see the truth….”
That’s right. Even King of Heroes said it to me, cursing me as he died. He called me the true Faker.
“……wha----at?” Archer is astonished. I can guess I cannot blame him. But still, even he should realize it…..
My mind has long since turned to steel. Thus, my life has only one meaning.
“You never managed to perfectly copy our father. Unlike you, I am him………Emiya KiritsuguFaker.”
There is nothing but unlimited blade works. My body is made out of nothing but swords.
Once I cast that true name, everything breaks. But at the same time, everything is put back together again. My magic circuits, most of which have been unused till lately, flare up as prana gushes to them. I forcibly extract that prana from the girl I made a contract with not long ago, and whom I now use to match Archer perfectly even though he is a Heroic Spirit. No, it would be ridiculous to say that we were evenly matched in terms of prana.
Right now, I have access to a greater prana source than Archer will ever have.
Fire runs, drawing a large circle around us. Of course, since the world around us is already one of barren wasteland, swords and gigantic cogwheels, there is not much of a chance. Not at first, at least. Archer and the girl behind him looked stupefied as my own world merges partially with Archer’s world. After all, they have the very same basic foundation. I’m not sure if it is so with other Reality Marbles, but these two Reality Marbles….if they are released at the same time, all one can gain is an amalgam of the two.
But that is alright with me. I need nothing more.
The world behind me changes, according to the wishes of the curtain of fire. The desolate land remains. However, the swords there change to my swords. Swords owned by Faker, not Heroic Spirit EMIYA. They are no longer his possessions, but my own copies, the ones that I saw with my own eyes in the vault of the Golden King. But the swords are not the only thing that tells of the difference.
Grey, ash-colored sky. Cogwheels that process the metal endlessly, a true steel manufacturing facility. Black clouds that fill up the transparent sky. Colorless land that holds not even the shreds of passion that the Heroic Spirit before me has. This world is dead, even compared to his world. After all, I have already gotten rid of anything unnecessary. This hill of swords is nothing more than graveyard, a place where I store the swords I will need from time to time.
This is the unlimited blade works.
“Truly, you really spoke the truth……you are no longer Emiya Shirou. You are just a Faker, with nothing of your own. Even your personality------------ No. Even your self…..is that of someone else”, Archer says to me with a gruesome expression.
“And what of it?”
“Your skin has become dark due to the ridiculous amount of projection you’ve done in such a short time……..you’re wearing a holy shroud in order to keep inside the insane amount of prana that is leaking to you due to the contract you forcefully made……instead of the swordsmanship taught to you by Saber, you rely on such brutish weapon…….Yes. After such changes, it is easier to agree that you are someone completely different than the man known as Emiya Shirou”, Archer agrees coldly.
And then he readies his twin-swords.
“---------------- And killing someone that is not him will be easy.”
The red knight charges forward, and with his raised hand, calls forth ten swords from the ground. I tighten my grip around my axe-sword, and repeat the gesture with my left hand. From the grey ground, ten swords answer my call just like that.
-------- Of course. This is supposed to be my world, after all.
We do not even wait. The moment I know that this world answers to my calls as I expected it to, I dash forward. That’s all I need to know. All that is needed to ensure my victory. The victory that was possible from the moment I realized that both Archer and his Master were here.
The red knight grits his teeth together as the large axe-sword slams against his twin swords. I’ve replicated Berserker’s strength, so I know that the strikes I deal are as lethal as his strikes are to me. But our melee is just one part of this large battle. After all, the swords all around us are there to be used---------!!!
Crashing sounds echo through the otherwise dead plains. Noble Phantasm after Noble Phantasm hit its counter-part and disappears in a flurry of broken glass and steel. Those ten Noble Phantasms both of us sent towards each other are soon all destroyed, but they are joined by others. Every movement we make, that is not meant to deliver a killing blow to our opponent, is to call these swords. That is what keeps up the storm of blades around us, and the ever-present cacophony of breaking swords.
That cacophony……is supposed to be equal. In this world, even with the near-infinite prana I have and the sacrifices I’ve made, the best I could achieve would be “near-equal” to Archer. However….
“B-bastard……!!” Archer curses my name, as one of the swords buries itself deep into his shoulder, causing a momentary stop in his movement.
I use that small opening to my advantage mercilessly. My large axe-sword drives its way through of Archer’s defense, ripping a deep wound into his chest, and destroying a large part of his black armor. The red knight curses and jumps back, faltering only a little due to the force of the strike. But even if he tries to get away, I won’t let him. The swords behind me increase in number, and after launching them, I myself enter the melee once again by thrusting the large sword towards my enemy.
It is very simple. The fact that why Archer is losing is only his own fault. Unlike me, the one who became Emiya Kiritsugu, he still has something he needs to protect. A machine like me has nothing like that, and thus, he cannot use that to his advantage. But he……..
He foolishly brought his Master, Tohsaka Rin, to this battle.
------------------ What followed was the finalization of my victory.
If there is one person Archer cannot allow to die, it is that girl. After suffering through countless hardships, that girl became practically insane, just as the priest told me. Her only salvation is to acquire the Holy Grail, the very thing for which she sacrificed all that she had. In other words, if Archer wants Tohsaka Rin to become the victor, he needs him to get her hands on the Holy Grail.
That is something I cannot allow. That Holy Grail is a thing that needs to be destroyed. A cold magus like Tohsaka Rin cannot be allowed to have it.
So, I have to kill her.
----------------- And that’s why I will win.
Because Archer has to protect Tohsaka Rin. And because I have to kill Tohsaka Rin. I have nothing to protect, nothing that would distract me even the slightest. However, even if Archer does not need to protect himself like me, he still needs to protect his Master. And that is his downfall.
Little by little, my swords have been aimed more and more towards Tohsaka Rin, who is staying far away from our battle, watching us with a difficult expression. There is no way that Archer would not notice this. But when he did, it was already too late. If Archer lets even one sword slip past his guard, past the swords he has shot against me, Tohsaka Rin will die. However, that means that he has to concentrate on something else during the melee with me.
And when that happens, even my “near-equal” is enough to defeat him-----------------!!
“Hah, hah, ha, hraaaaaa---!!” I punctuate my strikes with my breathing, and destroy Archer’s defense with each strike. The battles he has been through recently are beginning to show.
First, suffering from the wound made by Saber.
Second, battling against full-powered Rider.
Third, barely defeating the white-skull-mask Assassin.
Servant Archer has been driven to the very edge, and whenever he parries a hit from the axe-sword, he loses a bit more of his hold from that cliff. Even in his world, a world where infinite swords reside, he will taste defeat.
- No time is given for drawing anything with major power
--- No time is given to come up with a plan that would work.
------- No time is given to take Tohsaka Rin to safety from where she is.
------------- No time is given for victory. Servant Archer’s defeat is already certain.
No matter how many Noble Phantasms he can draw, since they are forced to defend his Master, they are next to useless. Just bullets in shape of famous swords that shatter when they meet their exact copy. All these copies of these famed swords are reduced to just simple projectiles in this fight which’s victor has already been decided.
Two more strikes. These open up Archer’s defense completely, and I can hear him cursing. He does not have enough time to correct his posture, however, as he has to use a time equal to blink of an eye to call yet another four Noble Phantasms to protect his Master. But that blink of an eye is enough for me, I charge forward, ready to thrust my axe-sword straight into his heart---------------!!!
“Spirit and technique, flawless and firm.”
Impossible. The attack that was supposed to take Archer’s life has been deflected. The swords that I saw before in Archer’s hands were thrown away, but with a speed that far surpassed my own, Archer projected one more pair of those twin swords, and with them, directed the force of my attack straight to the ground.
The pair known as Kanshou and Bakuya. I see them multiply once more, as the ones that Archer had in his hands are thrown in the air. However, the previous ones that had been lost from Archer’s hands now come at me from the both sides. Since I see the two that were thrown at me approach me, I deflect them and jump back. However, those other two were not perfectly dodged.
They draw blood. Two spots even fly to Archer’s left foot and right thigh.
“Our strength rips the mountains.
Our swords split the water.”
“Shit---!” I curse, and swing my sword once again, trying to deflect the pair of twin swords that I thought I had already struck aside. But it is to no avail.
Yet another pair of swords is thrown towards me, and they fly around me, intending to hit me from the back. However, I’ve exposed Archer’s trick already, and I won’t fall for it another time. I spin around, striking the two approaching swords out of the way, and immediately follow up with a attack to the front, that destroys another pair that was supposed to get me just like th-
The pain is that of Kanshou digging into my flesh. Archer used this chance to move to my side and deliver a dangerous slash right across to my defenseless ribs. The blood from his sword stains both his right hand and shoulder, but that does not reduce the smile on his face.
-------- That damn……half-hearted……!!
“Ar…..cher---!!” I growl, and launch an attack forward, intending to take Archer’s head with a one single, clean sweep.
“Our names reach the imperial villa.”
I couldn’t predict it. Straight from above, two swords strike me like talons of a swooping eagle, and draw long wounds to both of my shoulders. The blood that gushes out is enough to splatter on charging Archer’s chest and waist. I drive the pain away into the furthest corner of my mind, and concentrate on blocking the next, oncoming attack.
The twin-swords and the axe-sword crash together, but this time, Archer does not falter. Why does he not falter? Did the fact that the continuously created pairs of swords surround me give him some kind of hope? Even though, if he slips even once, his Master will die….?
“And another….!!” Archer says with a voice that contains more power than before, and before I can react, Kanshou appears from behind my back, and cuts the flesh of my right hand. Archer catches the blade, even though the blood stains his left hand.
”The two of us cannot hold heavens together.”
Once more, once more. I don’t even bother counting how many pairs he has created, and how many have been thrown into the air where they would try to take my life. I move my sword with a speed that is not far from the speed that Berserker used, and frantically block all the incoming attacks. Those feeble swords are no match to this piece of temple, yet what they lack in power, they make up in numbers.
And that is the reason Archer is gaining the upper hand.
During what moment did I become desperate? No, at what point did Archer realize my desperation? That dark smile on his face tells me of my doom, tells me that even with all my planning, I would not make it. The difference between Emiya Shirou and Emiya Kiritsugu is just that. He is planning on using that gap as the power which will defeat me.
The power of Heroic Spirit EMIYA.
“Ha-hraaaaaah!!” Archer yells out, and in the flurry of the dancing blades, his Bakuya manages to slip through. It slices the flesh between my shoulder and neck, barely avoiding the lethal part.
Archer almost killed me. As I had to parry the incoming strikes from the air, he almost managed to cut my neck. The fact that the swords in my body are screeching, trying to protect me from the fatal strike. But still, my blood on Archer’s left shoulder and face tell their story.
With next attack, he will take my life.
Archer takes a step back, and his swords cut the air. That slash is fast, faster than anything I’ve seen before. But at the same time, the last pair of Kanshou and Bakuya, the original one, falls from the sky, trying to pierce me. And they move with equal speed. Two attacks of equal speed, coming from simultaneously.
I have no way to dodge all of them. I would need four times the speed of them to surpass them. Archer knows that there is no way I could do that. And thus, this becomes his killing strike.
Heroic Spirit EMIYA announces his victory.
“—Two great men, sharing-“
“Nine Lives Blade Works.”
Left foot. Right thigh. Right hand. Right shoulder. Chest. Waist. Left hand. Left shoulder. Face.
Nine targets have been chosen. I have marked them with my own blood. And that’s enough for me. I raise the huge axe-sword with a speed faster than Archer could ever achieve just own his own, and deliver my own killing strike.
Nine Lives Blade Works.
A series of nine consecutive strikes that are too fast for the red knight to react to. Before he has even realized it, all his limbs are destroyed with pin-pointed slashes. His own swords, the ones that he was holding, are destroyed along those limbs. And as I move with a speed far faster than the one of the falling swords, I evade all those threats that were supposed to kill me just now.
The waist is dislocated, and the chest ruptures as the huge sword is thrust into it. Archer opens his mouth to yell in pain, but he cannot even do that. His lungs are long since destroyed, with the strike to his chest. No, at this moment, it is a miracle that Archer’s body even manages to do such a thing as open its mouth.
---------------- But not after this.
The final strike. The one to the head. I take a step forward, deliver the finishing strike that literally breaks the sound barrier, and with a sonic boom that shakes the two words around us, I destroy the head of Heroic Spirit EMIYA.
There is no time for him to even die. His spiritual core has been destroyed, and Archer simply fades away due to the force of my last strike. He is like snow scattered into the rushing wind, into a gale that tears the small fragments apart and spreads it so thin that nothing remains. Such is the death of the final Servant in this Holy Grail War: Archer.
And along its master, the second of the two worlds around us fades away, leaving behind only the grey wasteland.
I heard a small sound. More like a whimper than anything else. It came from a mouth of a magus that has realized she lost. The magus fell to her knees, staring to the spot where her Servant stood only a moment ago. Those sapphire eyes are fixated on that spot.
I guess I should take care of what is left.
I brush off the pain and walk over to the magus, still on her knees in the ground. The axe-sword that I drag behind me makes a small, rumbling sound as it draws a line into the ash-colored ground. But even that noise does not seem to wake up that magus from her trance.
No. What wakes her up is when that noise stops. In other words, when that sword is lifted.
The magus stares at me. I’m not quite sure what she is trying to say. Or is she trying to say anything? At this point, frankly, I couldn’t care less.
“……………….Emiya-kun………” she utters a name that at one point belonged to me. But the one she is referring to is Emiya Shirou. Not the Emiya Kiritsugu and Faker I am now.
“…………I sacrificed everything for it…..even my beloved sister….and even after that…..I am not allowed to acquire the Holy Grail?” she whispers to me, as if looking for an answer. “What more could be possibly wanted from me? I have…..I have nothing more to give. I have lost everything. My sister. My pride. My feelings. My Servant………..Of course, I also lost my ally, too. The only boy I had ever developed a crush on.”
That last line is clearly directed at me. At one point, yes, I was her ally.
“I tend to things my own way, so I’ll need someone to act as my brakes. It’ll be helpful if you can take that role.”
I remember that the girl, who the magus before me used to be, said something like that. But that is a thing far in the past. Just another worthless memory that serves no purpose to me. It has no meaning whatsoever, and will be of no use when it comes to saving the people of this town. Tohsaka Rin became a threat to the people in this city the moment she killed Matou Sakura, and thus, she would need to be removed.
“Emiya-kun…..why didn’t you act as my brakes? I needed….I needed someone there to stop me. Someone to stop me from killing my own sister…..my own little sister…….yet, when I looked for you there, screamed inside my head for you to stop me---!!!” her words grow more emotional, and those nearly insane eyes look at me. “……………………you just stood there, with cold expression, and told me to kill her.”
The last part is nothing more than a whisper. But that whisper…..is enough to make me open my mouth.
“That was in the past. Now you are a magus. And I am a superhero. There is no questioning about what will happen next”, I inform her. “However……….alright. I’ll act as your brakes. One last time. It is time for a full-stop…………………………………….Tohsaka.”
And with those, I raise the axe-sword above my head.
“Sorry, Shirou”, she smiles at me with tears in her eyes. “But stopping now has no purpose. I already ran over everything that was dear to me. ”
And I bring down the sword. The dull sound cannot even be described as a thunk. All that it is, is the sound of a single magus dying. The last Master: Tohsaka Rin, has died. And with that, only I remain. The copy of Emiya Kiritsugu. Faker.
I am the victor of this Holy Grail War.
The world around me fades away as I realize my triumph. The ash-colored world disappears into fragments and completely vanishes, revealing what it was covering. It is a cave beneath the Ryuudouji temple, in the mountain that watches over the whole Fuyuki City. Here, the Great Grail of Fuyuki’s Holy Grail War resides.......and it is the last thing I have to destroy in order to remove the last trace of this ritual from this world.
Assaulted by a wave of nausea, I collapse to the ground, falling on my butt. My back luckily hits a large boulder behind me, and I do not fall on the ground. Getting up from that would have been troublesome. Instead, I am left there, leaning against the cold stone, trying to gather enough strength in order to get back up. But it is not as easy as it sounds.
Even with my back-up, my Reality Marble took a huge toll on me.
As I sit there, staring at the rumbling ceiling of the huge cave, the days that have gone by began flash in front of my eyes. The road of steel that took me here, the place where my ideal has finally come true. My ideal, Emiya Kiritsugu’s ideal……the ideal of the child who was nothing more than an empty shell after that fire. I had to learn the harsh way about the curse of the superhero…..but I accepted it. If saving 100 meant killing 10….then so be it. In this world, no convenient fantasy exists. And in order to make one’s dream come true, one has to be prepared to shape that dream according to the world around him.
Just like me. I cannot save everyone, that is for certain.
So, at least, I will ensure that those I see will not cry.
I will kill those that would harm other people, and kill them. If they endanger more lives than they themselves are worth, I will kill them as the superhero. Just like with the Matou family. As long as they existed, Fuyuki City would never be safe. That was why I knew I had to deal with them first.
It had to be the easiest part. Fuji-nee’s grandfather was a yakuza boss, through-and-through. I visited his mansion under the pretense of wanting to talk about old times, like Kiritsugu. Raiga was always glad to talk about my father, since they had been good friends during the times Kiritsugu had still been alive. Also, in the past, I had maintained few of Raiga’s hunting rifles, so I knew pretty much where the group kept their weapons.
Just how much can be achieved with trust that has once been gained?
In the dead of the night, I sneaked off of the Fujimura house, while carrying multiple guns, enough ammunition for the rest of the war and enough C4 to blow up the Fuyuki Broad Bridge, if I had concentrated it just right. And during this time, none of the members of Fujimura group suspected anything. After all, they thought I was Emiya Shirou: the boy they had trusted.
I was not.
The next part of the plan was also easy. If there is a human type as easy to use as C4 bombs, then it must be those who are bitter, vengeful and desperate. In other words, Matou Shinji. After I had created sufficient enough napalm in my new hide-out, I contacted Shinji. Of course, I had to get a new place where to stay, as the Fujimura group had most likely realized the weapon theft first thing in the morning.
------------ This world is quite ridiculous, did you know? You can get information on how to make napalm straight from the internet.
When I told Shinji I had a plan that would allow him to have his revenge on Zouken, he immediately agreed. Desperate to prove his worth to the old monster, he wanted nothing more than to pay back for all of his humiliation. Thus, he suspected nothing when I asked him to take the stored napalm into the Matou household. I also asked him to keep his cellphone open in his pocket, so I, who had made a call to Shinji’s cellphone, could hear what was happening around him.
---------------- The luck was on my side. When Shinji took the napalm to the basement of Matou household, Zouken approached him. He had just returned from a battle against Tohsaka Rin and Archer, and apparently, Assassin had been killed.
Even better for me.
The moment I heard Zouken ask about the package, I pressed the detonator. What followed was the grandest explosion Fuyuki had seen in a long time. And not a one made by Heroic Spirit. No, this was an explosion caused by human hands and human weapons. The combination of C4 and napalm in the basement was devastating. No matter how good of a magus, Makiri Zouken could not survive from that surprise attack.
The explosives that I had set up before-hand did their job. They annihilated the Matou mansion. And inside the mansion, the napalm did the rest. Those few worms that had managed to escape were burned alive, unable to defend themselves against the roaring carpet of fire.
------------- You see, in order to kill a magus, you don’t need fancy spells. You just need enough power to annihilate that magus completely.
It is strange. Even though I watched the Matou household’s ruins burn to ashes, watching out for any signs of Zouken, I found myself feeling…….nothing. I knew what that place was. It was the house where one my best friends had lived. Shinji, who had been, in the past, boy who had actually protected me from those who kept pestering me about the day fire ran rampant on that part of Fuyuki City. Yet I felt nothing for him. It was also the house where she he been tortured for almost all her life. The girl whom I had grown to love over the years, first as Shinji’s sister, then as my dear underclassman, then, as a woman………….I had destroyed the dark past of hers with that one, overpowering attack. I genuinely wondered if I should have felt that I had given a salvation at least to part of her?
Of course not. She’s dead. How can there be salvation for anyone who is dead?
I did not erase that painful past of hers. I just erased any trace of it. Nobody would be able to find about it anymore. And thus, as far as the recorded history went, it was just as good as if it had never happened. However, I never erased those events, and that pain that had transpired.
But I erased it from the history. And that was the best I could do for her. Matou Sakura would be forever known as an innocent girl.
Not as what she was ashamed of.
-------------------- That was my last parting gift to her. The underclassman that I had loved more than I could admit right now. It was what I needed to let go of that emotion that attached me to her.
The aftermath came only one day after that. I had moved to the Kotomine church just for that reason. I knew she would arrive sooner or later, and in there, I could prepare for her in peace. As the sun started to set behind the horizon during the next day, she truly did appear on that hill……..
But before she could find me, she was found by the golden Servant. Ironic, isn’t it? Even though she was bent on revenge, the only thing she found was death in the hands of a person completely unrelated to her. As the Noble Phantasms rained upon her, and as those weapons pierced her flesh, I think she saw me in the window of the church, staring at the scene of battle.
Those eyes cursed me. Her lips kept repeating my name, as if she had become obsessed. And most likely she had. The thoughts of revenge had made her insane.
Servant Rider died in the hands of the other Servant Archer. The one who saw me as nothing more than a mongrel.
But I gained something from that golden, arrogant Servant. I gained from him the weapon that would be used to win this war. When he spoke to me after killing Rider, boasting of his victory and belittling my skills, I found him speaking strangely of one peculiar thing. He talked as if I and that red knight would have had the exactly same skills.
I remembered then – He most certainly had wanted to kill me. But why? Why did we share the exact same abilities, the ability of copying everything we saw? Why did we share the same feeling whenever we looked upon each other, the feeling of hatred and anger? Why did we understand the moment we laid our eyes upon each other that we could not co-exist? Why……..why did Servant Archer scorn the very ideal of Emiya Shirou so?
----------------- I would have been an idiot not to realize it.
It made sense, if you thought about it.
I had chosen to become a superhero. And if I win, I will become one. And when one becomes a hero, he will enter the Throne of Heroes……the place from which Servants used in Holy Grail Wars are summoned. That was why it is obvious.
If Emiya Shirou becomes a superhero, then there is no reason why he could not become a Servant.
And when I spoke about this to the Golden Servant, he smiled to me in a way that seemed to mock me.
“------------ Did you truly realize just now, Faker? It truly shows how dull the people of this world have become.”
How hard is it to achieve something when you already know you will achieve it? It is as if someone assured you: “Yes, you will certainly reach that level, if you train hard enough. There is, without a doubt, a miracle waiting for you in the end”. With that kind of guarantee, it is no longer a question about “if”. It is a simply matter of “when”. And so I turned my days into hell, one filled with nothing but projection and creation of weapons. If I wanted to truly become a superhero, then thinking about myself came only second.
Acquiring enough power to achieve my goals was what came first.
And that was what I devoted my following days for.
But even I could not do it without help. As magus, I am truly an amateur. I know nothing of the actual magecraft. Just about my specialty, one which would eventually help me win this war. But in order to utilize that specialty to its full potential, I needed raw power. An enormous supply of prana that I could use any way I wanted, whenever I wanted. I needed to make a contract with someone other than me, in order to acquire their prana.
Uncovering the process was fairly simple. Kotomine simply told me how, and even an amateur like me could figure it out in a day. What came after that was choosing the target. I knew that it was too soon to confront my most problematic enemies yet, even though I knew that the magus known as Tohsaka Rin would have had an abundance of magical energy I could use. But alone, I could not defeat them. And the only Servant I knew to secure my victory was the one with the golden hair, the King of Heroes……..and I knew Kotomine would not allow me to just “borrow” him like that.
So I needed a target that was even better. And a target that even Kotomine understood as someone who needed to be secured.
And so I went up to the priest and said:
“I need to secure the Lesser Grail. Borrow Gilgamesh for me.”
Does the rest need to be told? There is no way that golden Servant would lose against anyone. He simply destroyed anything in his path, starting from those two homunculi that got in our way as we attacked the castle. After that, there was only a simple task to do.
------------- Wait until the mad giant would die.
Berserker probably knew he would die. And he probably knew what we were going to do. That was why he fought so desperately, refusing to die even though his heart had been destroyed, his body pierced by countless weapons and his seeing not even the rage-filled fog anymore. Yes, even though he should have been dead, he kept on attacking against the threat he perceived. And that was why Gilgamesh had to concentrate on repeatedly killing the giant, again and again……….until he would eventually die.
But that was just how I wanted it to be. After all, the only way to surprise a Heroic Spirit……..is to give him an opponent of equal level to concentrate upon.
My bow did its work the moment I realized that Berserker would die. A Noble Phantasm, loaded to the brim with my prana, was shot forward. Gilgamesh had no time to react. After all, Berserker was just before him. Either he would suffer the attack from Berserker, or a one from my arrow. He chose the latter……………and was torn apart in an explosion that almost reminded me of the Matou house.
Needless to say, the two greatest Heroic Spirits died in almost the same time. Gilgamesh killed by my complete surprise attack, and Berserker because of his wounds. After the enemy he had concentrated all this time died, he could no longer keep on going. The black giant crumpled to the ground, shaking the castle with its fall, and stopped breathing. Both he and the golden Servant faded into nothingness, into the place where they had came from.
“………………..No, was it like that?” at this point, I have to question it even myself. Had it been exactly like that? Was that what truly had happened.
---------- Can’t remember. A mind that is made out of steel forgets everything that is not important.
But even if I don’t remember everything clearly, I can guess. And some of those guesses are the type that cannot be anything other than true. Just like this one. Just like how I feel the connection between me and that small girl, the one who called me “Onii-chan”. Connection to Illyasviel von Einzbern that I forcefully established, ignoring her screams for the sake of the world.
“K-khhh….” I grit my teeth together even though I don’t want to. It’s like if someone else had momentarily taken over my body, and forced it to tense up in an unnatural way.
I am not proud of the thing I did. But I don’t need to be. A pride is something that Emiya Kiritsugu is not allowed to have. If I am to become him, then there’s no need for such useless things such as those emotions. I will become a machine, steel, in order to save as many as possible. Everything else can be sacrificed for that very reason.
I know they can be sacrificed. I was ready for that the moment I made that decision. A superhero, true superhero, cannot hold on to such burden.
Then why is it…….why is it that…….I------
“They just don’t stop do they?” I mutter with an indifferent voice, and press my hands against my cheeks. And of course, I’m right. They haven’t stopped. From the moment I began to walk this path, they haven’t stopped.
---------------- My tears, that is.
Was I crying the whole time? I’m not even sure. At what point did these tears begin to flow out? I’m not that interested by the fact that they actually are there, just by the fact that they appeared without me noticing them. It is just a minor inconvenience, something like this. If I bothered to cry for every time I, in the future, would kill for the sake of saving people, I would just spend all my days, weeping. Therefore, it is alright to ignore tears. I know it is alright to ignore these tears. It must be alright to ignore these tears. After all, salty water is not something I should be----
A haunting sound echoes in the cave.
It is the sound of creaking rust. Rusted steel that has been ruined by these ridiculous tears. I can’t allow this now, can I? No, I need to make these tears stop, rub off the water. I cannot allow the steel to be ruined by all this rust. If that happened, the results would be……would….be…………….something not allowed for a superhero. If I am to persist as Emiya Kiritsugu, as the true form of the Faker I am…….then I cannot allow any rust. I need to erase it all.
So I press my hands against my eyes, as hard as I can. These tears just need to stop.
“----------------------Not……..huh? Haha…..ha…….as I figured.”
But it’s of no use. They are not erased by something easy like that. Even if I rub, the water won’t come off. After all, who has heard of a metal that absorbs water just like that? And these hands of steel, trying to clean the water from the face, no, from the body that has been slowly turning into swords……is as futile as trying to use scissors to cut a sea. It cannot be done. Underneath this skin, invisible to the naked eye, I can feel all those swords….as they try to claim their spot on the surface.
--------I am the bone of my sword.
How truly ironic can some words be.
Therefore, if I am nothing but a sword………..does this mean that what was actually rusting was…..?
“No. No it’s not. I won’t allow it to be.”
Even to my own ears, my voice is something from the throat of someone else. That is the voice of Emiya Kiritsugu, the Magus Killer. The machine that Kotomine had described to me. It is the sound of the sword that will cut people to save other people. The only thing it can do is cut the vast ranks of people who would endanger even more. A vicious cycle to the very end. The cycle that kept me alive for so long is something I cannot ignore. And since I long ago made myself steel, I won’t regret it. Not at all. If saving two means killing a one, then it has to be done. Justly, and fairly. A superhero does not care about the personal reasons – only about the fairness of it all. So, in order to ensure that……..I have to be like steel. Just like Emiya Kiritsugu.
But Emiya Kiritsugu could wipe away his tears, just like everyone else.
That is our difference, and my flaw as a Faker.
But……..for the sake of those people that died that day, on that burning field, I cannot abandon it. Can I? Of course not. I can never abandon it. In order to make sure that nothing like that ever happens, in order to make sure that none of those fates are ever shared, as the sole survivor of something that I should not have survived--------! I cannot……I just cannot….abandon it.
I……Faker. One with the mind of steel. I, who used to be Emiya Shirou. I, who try to be Emiya Kiritsugu. I am that kind of half-existence which only tries to save people. Therefore, it will be only natural for me to strengthen my resolve, right?
I am not there yet. I am still incomplete. And because of that, I will force these tears to stop.
“That’s, right……………that’s right. I will do that”, I speak out, to the monster I soon have to destroy. “If I do just that….I can grieve, yet not cry a single tear that’ll make me rust.”
And so, I no longer grieve my regrets. These tears…..are simply making up for the hole in my heart. That is what I have decided. The contents of that hole have to be purged from my body in shape of tears….and so it will be.
I never had any regrets. I just grieved for the fact that I did not have them. My mind has long since turned into hard steel. There is nothing in this world that can break my mind. Even if that little girl who never once cursed me up to this moment would damn me, even if that young girl that I loved with all my heart would scorn me……I am nothing but steel. I am nothing by the bone of my sword. Nothing but a superhero.
Emiya Kiritsugu. The moment those tears became the result of such a worthless thing, I truly became…..Emiya Kiritsugu.
“I truly pity you, Shirou. Even at this very moment, you deceive yourself. You even deny those tears that still keep falling from your weeping face.”
W—what? The words that are not mine echo in the cave. And when I look up, to the source of the words………
A small girl. Standing there like a maiden from a snowy country, her red eyes bore into me, and on her face was an expression of deep sorrow and melancholy, and something bittersweet. It was as if she had come to see the conclusion of something, only to find it to be something she feared….and hoped at the same time.
“I-Ilya….” her name barely comes out of my mouth. After all, she supposed to be in my hideout, in the place where she would be safe, and would be able to provide me with all the prana I needed.
---------- And there was no reason why she would, after all that, seek me out voluntarily.
“You’ve won, haven’t you? Congratulations”, Ilya said with a voice that seemed pained, almost as if she was trying to hold back something that welled deep inside of her. “Now, have you finally taken up the role of your father?”
“I have.” In my answer, there’s nothing but resolve. “I have become Emiya Kiritsugu.”
“I see”, she smiled in a melancholic way. “Then you utilized the help you got from me right.”
The girl from whom I got all my prana from. The girl who had helped me to understand the knowledge I had gained in a way that I did not understand even myself. The girl whom I had------
“…..Why are you here, Ilya?” my voice is harsh, but it does not seem to affect her mood.
“I am the Lesser Grail, Shirou. You’ve defeated all the Servants that were in this War. Right now, it’s a miracle that I am here to talk with you. So, why wouldn’t I be here, where the victor of this Holy Grail War is? I am the Grail that you sought, after all.”
………….I see. In order to see me one last time, she used all her willpower to hold back the power of the Grail that stormed inside of her. She, for some foolish reason, wanted to see me one more time, before she would lose her self. After all, she was just a homunculus. Just a tool of the Einzberns. And this was her mission.
Ilya suddenly grits her teeth together in pain, and collapses forward. I’m too slow to even catch her, and the small, white-haired girl simply falls on top of me. Even though some of the swords that jut out of my body pierce her delicate skin, she lets out no whimper. All I can do is to stare absentmindedly at the girl who tries to embrace me with her weak arms, despite the fact that all this time, the power that would be enough to open a pathway to the Root is tearing her up from the inside.
“I’m glad…..glad that I got to see you for one last time. And yet….I am sad. After all, I know that you will, eventually, meet the same end as Kiritsugu did. Nobody will understand you, or your motives. Knowing what kind of person you are….they’ll all think you’re ruthless. The fact that you have no reason for saving people……..except for that very act itself…….will be your downfall. People cannot understand someone like you Shirou. I want you to know, even if you understand it already, that the end you meet will be nothing more than……….than…..!”
------------I know it already, Ilya. I saw it in his memories. I know that nothing else awaits me than that hill of swords.
“I understand that. So rest assured”, I answer. If that’s one thing less to burden her, I can do that.
“Good. Yes, that’s…………good”, she spoke, sounding relieved. However, she did not sound like she believed me. “Shirou, I’m having a bit of a hard time….keeping my eyes open. Are you still crying?”
Of course, I felt the tears that kept flowing from my eyes. I knew them from the very fact that I also felt the rust slowly seeping into my body, rust that would probably never go away. As long as I travelled this path, this rust would continue to gather, until it would bring me down just like it brought Kiritsugu down. Therefore, it’s not something I should care about. It will continue to gather, regardless. Yet I was not the only one. No, even she cried silently, as if mimicking me.
But, even so………..I cannot say it to her. I cannot say the fact that my tears keep flowing to the small girl who tries to stay conscious, while leaning on to me. Her small, delicate body is shivering, as if she was in fever. And even so, she tries to seek warmth from this cold, steel-like body of mine. Just when did a person seek warmth from a simple sword? The mere thought is absurd.
Just like that other girl I knew, she too is seeking happiness from me. Even though she knows her life is going to end, she chose to spend to last moments with me, in order to make them as happy for herself as possible. I cannot understand it. I turned into the very thing that she hated from the bottom of her heart, and betrayed her in the same way as her father did. Both Emiya Kiritsugu and Emiya Shirou betrayed her.
No, I did something far worse. Yet why does she not……why does she not curse me? Why does she seek my non-existent warmth?
But perhaps I’ll let her have the illusionary warmth. This girl is going to die soon anyway. The souls of Heroic Spirits inside of her are destroying what was actually known as Ilya. Such a small girl being a vessel for something like that……is really the cruelest form of irony. And even now, she clings to me, as if asking for something. Yet I cannot give her anything in return. I am just a broken sword, lying on the ground. There is nothing, nothing that I can do. If I just could…………if I just could….
…………………………………………………………..Why can’t I?
I am Emiya Kiritsugu. A superhero.
I promised to myself I would not allow those in my sight to cry.
This girl has done nothing wrong. If there is a chance to save her, I have to grasp it. If there is a chance to save anyone…..I have to grasp it. In order to save the lives of those otherwise fated to die…..I will perform any miracle, even those which are deemed impossible. And if there is any chance at all that I can save this little girl that is dying in my arms……I will do it.
There’s no doubt. Kotomine said it. I will win this Holy Grail War. However, after that, what I do with the grail is my own decision. And thus, if I destroy it…………I will also save Ilya.
I awaken my circuits, which already scream for blood. In the initial process, my left eye is destroyed. I see only black wall that suddenly covers it, but it does not matter. This body is dispensable. What matters, is that I act fast enough to save the girl that shivers in my arms.
I’m sorry. It may have been impossible to save you, Sakura………….but…….but…….
I WILL DEFINITELY SAVE ILYA
I drive the huge axe-sword into the ground, and force myself up. My feet dig to the rocky surface, making the swords that are already poking out creak. Yet, that is only a noise. It can be disregarded. Even when the activation of my magical energy causes my circuits to flare, and burn themselves to the surface of my skin, I choose to ignore the pain. It can be disregarded. My broken bones are reinforced by my magecraft, yet that only keeps damaging my body even more. But there’s nothing to worry. I can just reinforce everything that’s broken. If I just constantly keep on reinforcing, I am capable of acting normally. Even if my body tries to stop me from doing it….
I WILL DEFINITELY SAVE ILYA
“S-shirou, what are you----?”
“Shut up. Shut up for a while, Ilya”, I say with my ragged voice, as I continue to take steps, one-by-one, towards the blazing magic circle that is the Great Grail. “I will now save you. So just shut up. You don’t have to say anything. Wipe your tears, and stay silent.”
“It’s impossible….!! You’ll just kill yourself! S-stop it, this wasn’t why……this wasn’t why I came here at all!!!” she half-screams at me, but I choose to ignore her pleading eyes.
“Liar. Why the else would you have come here? There is no other sensible reason”, I say with a cold voice. “If you were going to die anyway, and had accepted that, then there would have been no reason to lengthen your final moments so much. Yet here you are, clinging to me, still alive. Are you trying to tell me that you really didn’t want to be saved?”
Even if she herself tries to deny it…..
I WILL DEFINITELY SAVE ILYA
Ilya’s words are slurred and near silent, as she digs her nails deep into my flesh. My steps take us closer and closer to the source of our problems, and with every step, I perform one of the processes needed to project what I need. It is not the real thing, but it is the closest I can get without killing myself. And it will definitely be enough to destroy the Greater Grail.
“Onii-chan, I……I…..I----!!” Ilya’s voice was now louder, and she raised her head, forcibly opened her eyes, and stared straight into mine.
“What did you want, Ilya?” I ask from her.
“I want you to save me, Onii-chan!!”
Those are the words I’ve been waiting for. Something in my mind clicks, and in my eyes, I see the scenes of the past flashing by. All the battles, all the training, all that I lost to arrive to this conclusion…..I would be putting it on the line right now. Trigger off. I issue the command to my circuits, to my magecraft, and draw forth the copy from the only thing I have.
My own world: That grey hill of swords.
What arrives is a sword with extraordinary power. It is not the sword that she used, but very similar. I grasp the handle with my bleeding right hand, as I am holding Ilya with my left hand. And at that moment I take the final step, to the edge of the crater where the Great Grail resides in. With the last of my power, drive my legs to the ground, swing the sword up, and-----------
“……Alright. I’ll do it. Ilya, don’t worry…..”
Get out of the way. This world needs no Holy Grail. When you are there, this girl cannot be saved.
“I WILL DEFINITELY SAVE YOU!”
The world is engulfed in a blinding light.
It swallows up the Great Grail.
It swallows up the face of the girl in my arms.
It swallows up my vision of the cave.
After that, I don’t remember anything about what happened, any more. However, later, when talking about that day, Ilya would say only one thing. She too had been blinded by the light of the Noble Phantasm, but the last thing she saw had been etched into her vision.
When she looked at me, she saw a knight.
A knight in blue, standing on the hill of swords.
------------------------------- When I came to, I was in a burning field.
There had been a big fire, that was what I knew.
What had been a town, tormented by a war between seven people, was now a burning. Ash kept falling down from the sky, and it kept landing unpleasantly to my face. It was as if it was trying to keep me alive.
The sun had risen during the time we had been in the darkness. And now it was above, in the sky……and walls of flames that had been huge must have been dying down.
……..Of all the things in this place, it felt like I was the only one who had managed to keep my original form. Rest…….was ruined.
It must have been because I was so close to the origin of the explosion.
Because of such an absurd fact that should have assured my death, I was still alive.
But being alive is only one thing. Here, lying on this red ground while staring at the black clouds above me…..I cannot hope to be saved. As the ash and smoke try to force their way into my lungs, I am constantly reminded of what the truth really is.
There would be no savior for me. I am not so naïve as not to understand that.
--------------------- I admit, it hurts.
“……….Sorry. I’m late.”
At what point did he arrive? The boy collapses on his knees, but only from out of sheer relief. His face looms above me, and I can see the forced smile on his pained face. Even after all he did, even after destroying the very thing that would have killed countless people, me included, if left alone……..he was still unable to save most of the lives.
Instead, he got such a barren wasteland of fire to behold, as if to mock him.
Yes, this truly was the recreation of his past. And his true moment of birth.
Most likely, that priest would say that this would count as a rebirth. But he too is dead.
“It’s alright, Ilya. You won’t die. Even if I cannot save anyone else…….I will save you, at least”, he says, his words accompanied by the sound of starting rain.
“I have given the sheath to you ------ So you will, definitely, live. I promise that.”
In desperation, he tore his own body apart to save as many people as he could, from this destruction he himself had created. The sorrow in him must right now be as vast as the sea. Something even I could not fathom.
------------ But he has done nothing wrong. No, he acted in the way that most “just”. Even if the end was like this……nobody can blame him?
“Ah…….” a breath escapes from my lips. In the midst of that falling rain, his crying face that desperately tries to find joy in being able to save at least me, I see it.
I can finally see it.
The beauty both the boy before me, and my father, spoke of.
“It’s alright. It’s alright now”, I say with a whisper, and wrap my arms around him. “After all, I am now a sheath. My duty is to protect you, a sword. So, whenever……whenever you are drenched in a rain of tears, I will protect you from the rust with my arms.”
If there is something I can do to save this boy, I will do it.
If giving him my love means saving at least a part of him, I will do it.
If forgiving him for the things he did to me means saving at least a part of him, I will do it.
If admitting my love for him means saving at least a part of him, then I will do it without hesitation.
“So don’t cry”, I say to him, and tighten my embrace.
“Don’t cry, my dear, beloved sword.”
The silence in the church was so heavy you could have cut it with Arondight.
And, as the master of tsukkomi, the one to first respond was none other than….
“What the hell!? How was that fitting for Christmas at all!? That was just depressing!!” Leon Hart’s voice echoed in the church.
“Well, I didn’t say it was a Christmas fic, didn’t I….?” Caren asked with a sly smile.
And with that, the Christmas party inside the church continued. Laughing, merriment and simple happiness of the one day they all shared, as friends and colleagues. Maybe that was the magic of Christmas? Even though during the normal days and nights, during the countless stories they appeared in, they mostly just fought against each other to the bloody end, now……..they were able to enjoy this one day, together. This one, magical day, remarking of the birth of a one man who founded that single element even witches respect.
Yes. That must have been it. After all. Inside the church, nothing but that single element existed.
In the snowy outskirts of the church.
Tied to the wooden pole with the holy cloth that should have restrained him.
Completely forgotten by the rest of the people.
Was a single Servant.
And he had had enough.
“Don’t screw with me, goddammiiiiiiiiitt!!”
Avenger, despite all the odds, broke free from the holy cloth that had been restraining him. Red scraps of cloth scattered everywhere, and his two daggers, Tawrich and Zarich, were swung with a speed that would have left most humans as a bloody mess of meat and tendons. After destroying the holy cloth, Avenger, in a fit of anger, destroyed the pear tree pole that had been used to carry him everywhere for the past few days.
“This is not even funny……..what kind of sick joke is this?” Avenger muttered, his eyes burning with anger. He didn’t have to take even a one look at the church to know what was going on.
They had simply forgotten him. And it was no surprise. A Servant who was the embodiment of all the evils in the world could hardly be remembered during a day like this. So he could not really even blame them. Sure, he could feel anger, but that was what he always felt, so nothing was different from his usual behavior.
But Avenger could not say that it did not hurt him in some way that he had been forgotten.
“……….Well, it’s not like there would have been any place for me in a Christmas celebration like that, anyway”, he muttered, turning his back on the church. “I might as well find some place of my own, where I can raise a toast to a man who became a sacrifice not unlike me.”
Perhaps the thought that he could identify a bit with Jesus was amusing, as Avenger let out a loud, rude chuckle. Accompanied by that noise, he set out to walk down from the hill of the church, into the city of Shinto below. The Servant did not even bother to change into his spirit form. His bare feet left marks in the snow, but they were soon covered by the heavy snowfall from the cloudy sky above.
As he walked through the foreigners’ cemetery, he realized that the small lights he could see here and there were actually candles. It seemed that many people had come to visit these poor souls who had died here, in a foreign land that did not want to accept them. Although you could not call it warmth, it did move something inside Avenger’s heart to see such a gesture from those were still living. As a sacrifice who had lived throughout the ages, he could appreciate the fact that people still remembered someone, even if he had departed a long time ago. Especially on a night like this.
After passing the cemetery, Avenger came to the streets of Shinto. He saw no other people walking in the snow outside, and could understand why. It was unnaturally cold Christmas Eve for Japan, and so all the people of the city had opted to remain inside. This could be affirmed just by peeking inside one of the houses, as Avenger did. Through the window, he saw your typical family with mother, father, two kids and a cat, all sitting in the living room, admiring the Christmas tree. Well, of course, the kids had given in to their materialistic sides, and were already tearing open the presents. Meanwhile, the parents watched over them, getting their own presents in a form of the smiles appearing on their kids’ faces.
-------------------- That was the kind of scene Avenger felt most alien with, and thus, could not look at it for long.
After all, he was the vessel of the emotions completely opposite of that. How could have he felt comfortable in any way when scene like that was showed to him?
Eventually, Avenger’s steps took him to the park in Shinto. There, he felt finally that he had found something like a haven for himself. Even the Christmas could not completely erase the pain and agony, the misery and curses of humans that had seeped into this very land. Now, instead of being a grey park, it was nothing more than a wintery scene, yet it still held that same kind of solemn atmosphere it had acquired after the fourth Grail War.
Now, had the park been deserted as Avenger thought, things might have taken quite the different turn. However, since Avenger actually sensed the presence of someone, his instincts flared up instantly. A human who would see him would need to be eliminated. Those were the rules of the Holy Grail War.
----------- And it was not as if Avenger’s true nature would have disagreed with him in any way.
“HAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!” before he even managed to get a sighting of the supposed enemy, Avenger drew his twin daggers back in arc, and lunged forward like a mad dog.
The blades drew a wicked arc, ready to decapitate the lone human.
It was not like Avenger’s hit had not hit right. No, that strike would have been enough to kill any human. That’s right. Any human. And the man before him, the one he attacked, was most definitely human. Yet, so……why was it that instead of killing him instantly, and decapitating him, Avenger found himself flying through the air. The force of his attack been redirected so easily it was almost scary, and while was flying through the air, a painful kick had been shot to his stomach, causing him to crash to the snowy, icy ground with a force that could even hurt a Servant like him.
But he was the worst Servant, after all.
“Calm down a bit, you mad wolf. Unfortunately, I’m not a pig you can eat after some huff-ing and puff-ing”, the man commented with a slightly mocking voice.
It was the sound of a cola can opening. The man drank the whole can in one go, and tossed it then to the garbage-can lying nearby. He then fixed the position of his sunglasses, and gave a look at Avenger, who was still lying on the ground.
“………..So, it was you”, Avenger gave a self-ironic chuckle. “Alpha, was it? It seems that I’m not the only one who wanted nothing to do with that celebration.”
“I guess you could say that. However, even though our means are the same, our reasons are different. But, as usual in life, people see only the results. So I don’t say that you’re wrong”, Alpha answered.
“So we’re feathers that flock, but onto different wings…..? Hmm, doesn’t sound too bad”, Avenger agreed, before raising his hand. “So? Mind helping me up?”
The man did as asked, and pulled Avenger up from the ground. The Servant dusted the snow of his clothes and skin. Even though it was not cold to him, he still did not want it all around him. It had been unpleasant while he was still alive, and thus, he felt that same disdain even in afterlife.
“So, what are you doing here, anyway?” Avenger asked from Alpha, who simply shrugged as an answer.
“Looking for the owner of this package.”
Package? Avenger was, at first, confused about what Alpha meant, but after seeing a large Christmas present that lied next to Alpha, he understood what he was talking about. It was a huge gift, in beautiful wraps and with such a decoration that Avenger knew it had to have been made by someone who either could afford to put lot of money into it, or had no other choice than to put lot of money into it.
“And I guess I finally found the owner”, Alpha continued, causing Avenger to flinch.
“What? What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that I’m sick and tired of standing here in this snow already”, Alpha said, taking another unopened can of cola from his pocket and throwing it to Avenger. “I’ll let you have the package. Have fun with it.”
“W-wait a minute!” Avenger tried to protest. “You can’t just push the responsibility on me! I don’t want to watch over a-“
“Tough luck. It’s yours now”, Alpha said and laughed like a hyena. Then he simply snapped his fingers, and started to fade away like a mirage in a cold land.
“W-wait a minute, you bastard! Come back and----!”
Avenger’s yells did not help. Alpha disappeared with a laugh, leaving him alone with the huge Christmas present, and a can of cola.
Needless to say, Avenger wanted nothing to do with either of them, but now it was too late to regret. So he opened the can of cola, took a sip out of it, and walked over to the large present. Placing his hand against its surface, he pondered aloud.
“…..Now, what are you supposed to hold inside of you, anyway?”
There aren’t many more powerful forces in this world than curiosity. Even the Heroic Spirits can feel curious, and once they do, they do not stop until they’ve satisfied that curiosity. After all, unlike normal humans, it’s much harder to consider risks when you are a Heroic Spirit. So, no one could really blame Avenger when he finally put aside the can of cola, gripped Tawrich hard, and slashed open the top of the large Christmas present. He did it with enough precision to open the present nice & clean. That, of course, meant he had to restrain himself. In normal conditions, he would have just ripped it apart randomly.
-------------- Just like kids during Christmas.
In any case, the present was opened with a one, swift, clean strike. What came from inside was a cloud of small Styrofoam bits that Avenger’s strike had thrown up in the air. They scattered into the snow in the ground, and disappeared almost completely to the whiteness. But Avenger did not care about the Styrofoam. Instead, his eyes were glued on the thing that slept inside the box, surrounded by the Styrofoam like a fragile vase.
Small girl with a long, black hair so silky it seemed to melt into the night around her. Her skin was deeply tanned, and countless tattoos ran across it. Those tattoos….were the same as he had. The girl’s hands and feet were wrapped in black clothing, and her body was covered in a makeshift dress made out of a single, large, torn piece of red cloth. She had curled up into a ball inside the box, most likely due to the cold, and was now sleeping peacefully inside the box.
“Who…..are you…?” Avenger muttered and, mesmerized by the strange sight of the girl so much like him sleeping in the box, reached out to touch her face.
The moment his finger touched the girl’s cheek, her red eyes opened, and she leapt out of the box like a wild animal.
Avenger managed to yell out barely, and block the incoming strike with his Tawrich. The dagger was lodged into the girl’s strange weapon, which he had not seen, as it had been hidden under all that Styrofoam.
Had it not been so twisted beyond recognition, Avenger would have called the weapon a Katar blade. However, now, it resembled more of a fang than a blade. The girl had used the vicious looking blade as a thrusting weapon, aiming for his throat, and only his fast reaction had managed to stop her. But it did not end there. Another blade, this time in the girl’s left hand, was thrust forward, aiming for Avenger’s head. He cursed, swung Zarich sideways and deflected the strike from that unknown blade.
As the girl had used both of her hands to attack, Avenger used this chance to his advantage. He kicked mercilessly the small body into the air, spun around like a wild beast, slammed his both feet to the girl’s stomach and pushed the ground with his hands. This caused him to slam her to the ground like a cruel pendulum, knocking the wind out of the girl. He then followed this attack by punching the ground and following the suite himself, slamming his knees to the arms of the girl so that she could no longer use them. In other words, she was completely locked to the ground under him. With a swift move, Avenger brought Tawrich and Zarich forward, about to use the two daggers to rip open the girl’s throat.
But the words of the girl stopped him.
“….You really are great, Onii-chan.”
This caused Avenger to blink, and his daggers struck the ground next to the girl’s head instead of her neck. She stared straight at him, with no fear in those rude eyes. Instead, she got an almost bestial grin on her face.
“So, what are you going to do now? Onii-chan? Kill me? Rape my corpse? I was going to rape you anyway, so it might just be a fair deal”, the girl laughed obnoxiously, as if she had found the whole thing funny.
“Who…..the hell are you?” Avenger asked, his voice nothing more than a growl.
“Me?” More laugh. “I’m pretty much nothing. A void, just like you. Vessel for the evils of humanity. I guess you could call me Illyavenger.”
Illyavenger? The name made Avenger almost chuckle. She understood immediately where such a ironic name came from. After all, her body resembled that of Illyasviel von Einzbern perfectly, while the rest was clearly a copy of him. However, that was not what the most important question was, at the moment. No, what he wanted to know was what the hell she actually was, and where did she come from? No, first of all, who had left that package here in the first place?
“So, Onii-chan? Are you going to let me go?” Illyavenger suddenly asked, making Avenger snap out of his thoughts.
“Keh. And you won’t try to kill me again?”
“Do you really think I’m stupid enough to try to kill evil? I wouldn’t succeed even if I tried”, she laughed, and before Avenger knew it, he was laughing too.
It was a laugh that found humor in a subject that wasn’t supposed to be funny.
After helping the girl to stand up, Avenger took a closer look at her. She truly was a perfect copy of both Illyasviel von Einzbern and him, mixed together in a way that should have not been possible. However, as he let his eyes wander on Illyavenger’s body, the girl seemed to take that as a sign of something else. A devilish grin appeared on her face, and she suddenly walked next to Avenger, and pressed herself against him.
“What? Are you trying to find something in this body to turn you on? I’m sure I can help you with that….”, she proposed, making Avenger snort.
“As if. What the hell would I find good in a loli-body like that?”
“Khahahahahaha! That’s good, that’s right!” Illyavenger laughed without a shame. “You really are my Onii-chan, speaking like that.”
And to Avenger’s surprise, next thing she did was to wrap her arms around him.
“That’s really……good. I always wanted to meet my Onii-chan”, she spoke, with a voice that contained something Avenger had yet to hear from her mouth.
Was there some kind of…….tenderness?
“Always wanted to meet? Then where were you before this?” Avenger asked, trying not to care about the little girl that refused to let go. “No, first of all, who even left you here? What is this all about?”
Illyavenger smiled darkly.
“Oh, that you can ask from the person behind this himself. After all, looks like he finally noticed my box was missing.”
As soon as those words left Illyavenger’s mouth, a shadow passed over both of them. It was a shadow that was visible even in the dark winter night, something that seemed to make all the things it touched to shiver. That shadow was huge, almost colossal. Yet, Avenger felt it was a familiar shadow. Something he had seen a long time ago, in this very same place…….but………..could it be………..?
Twelve Divine Beasts pulled that huge mix between a war-chariot and a sleigh. The beasts were bigger than any moose Avenger had ever seen, and their muscled bodies made many bulls dwarf in size. Huge horns seemed to almost rip through the air, and a single strike from them would have killed a lesser man. The beasts let out no noise, but as they galloped through the sky, each strike from their hooves caused the air to freeze. Those strikes would have been enough to freeze the hell thrice over.
And what those beasts pulled was something out of this world. A huge mix between a sleigh and a war-chariot, something that one would associate with warlords of ancient times. Fur, metal, wood and leather. It was made from all those things, a sleigh so massive it could have crushed a truck. It was more like a large barbarian ship than anything that could be called a “sleigh”. And on the other end of it, a massive throne covered in the pelts of the beasts long extinct. On that throne sat a massive figure, covered in shadows.
Yet Avenger knew that figure.
Instead of allowing the sleigh to land, the huge figure stood up and jumped down from his carriage, letting the beasts circle in the sky above him and Avenger. As the huge man dropped to the ground, he caused a sound that resembled an explosion. Man as large as a small mountain, an intimidating sight that could cause fear into every being he laid his eyes upon.
“R…………..Rider……” Avenger muttered, unable to believe his eyes.
The Rider of the 3rd Holy Grail War.
This was a monster of a man. One with a huge beard that extended all the way to his waist, clad in armor and furs that seemed to make his already huge body even more massive. He was like some ancient barbarian god of war who had descended into the snowy Fuyuki City. The large, blood-red mantle upon his shoulders told of his position as a ruler of sorts, and the club he carried, that made even Avenger dwarf in size, leaned against his shoulder. On his head, the man had a helmet that had been made out of a skull of a goat so massive it had to have been the biggest of its kind. The skull itself was big enough to be used as a helmet, and the curved horns were so massive that they almost reached the ground, and competed with the man’s mantle in their length.
This barbaric, savage Heroic Spirit was one even Avenger, who had seen all the evils of the world, feared.
For this man was the one who punished for all those evils.
Yes, this man was a Heroic Spirit that couldn’t have been more different from his current portrayal. Anyone who saw him would not believe this was actually the truth behind the legend. The Goat of Punishment from the Finnish folklore, who appeared on the darkest of December nights, demanding a tribute from households. And if someone of the household had sinned greatly during that year, then even that would not help. This Yule Sacrificer would kill those who had sinned, and their families, as warning. A man who took up to become a legend of his own, and was incorporated into the folklore as one of the most feared figures of Scandinavia……
Heroic Spirit Santa Claus – No: Joulupukki. Yule Goat.
The grim death of December.
“…………You have taken what’s mine, and opened it”, the man said, his voice sounding like an approaching earthquake.
“Long time no see, Rider. You never were the one to mince the words, huh? So, what? You’re here to kill me again? Is that it?”
Yes. It had been this very Heroic Spirit that had killed Avenger in the 3rd Heaven’s Feel.
“Yes”, the giant answered. “You opened that which should not have been opened. As a punishment, you will die.”
------------------ Both men readied their weapons.
“Alright, I’ll get you point. We are not here to talk………..” Avenger said, and smiled sarcastically. And……
“After all, Servants exist only to kill!!!”
…..attacked like a roaring beast.
“HA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA!!!”
The inflated war cry that would have suited an animal more than man. Avenger lets out a howling noise and attacks, drowning out any attempts of conversation from Rider or from Illyavenger. Zarich and Tawrich, the short swords full of malice, reach out for the enemy ahead of him.
………..And Rider responds, confronting the enemy ahead of him with a dark expression.
Battle between two Servants began.
Avenger and Rider.
There couldn’t be two Heroic Spirits more different than that. No, they had their roots in the very same thought, a barbaristic rage that was dubbed as “combat” in the lands where no form or any thought of “civilization” had yet formed. They both were beasts of their own kind, attacking each other with no discrimination, and no desire to protect themselves. They only knew what was “destruction through the damage caused by your attacks.”
A way of the beasts, when it came to fighting.
In this kind of battle, no sorcery nor Noble Phantasms had place. There was only the physical combat that relied purely on the very basic concepts of attack and defense.
Avenger’s blades were like a twisted mirror-images of each other. Two weapons more like claws or fangs that reached out to rip their foe apart. And against them was a club of holy wood, with enough force to destroy castle walls with each strike. It was a crusher of ancient sins, a weapon that had bathed innumerable times in blood.
Avenger could not defend. He did not even try. Instead, he ran like a beast around Rider, opting to dodge each strike.
That style of fighting was insane. His attacks were like he was about to throw his swords, mad strikes that overwhelm the opponent with sheer numbers instead of power. It was Avenger’s specialty, if insanity can be called specialty. Countless strikes, again and again, coming from all the sides of Rider as Avenger ran around him in a pattern that made no sense.
Madness was his weapon.
Calling Avenger slow, even by Servant standards, would have been a lie. He constantly changed his position, his feet were nothing more than a blur, and there simply was no pause between his attacks. A frenzied attack style that gains more and more speed, even though it would have been enough a long time ago.
A suicide. That’s what this fight is.
Avenger destroys his body, drives it to the limits and over, and simply does not care. He does not care if he cannot breath, he does not care if his muscles cannot keep up, he simply attacks. He is so immersed in the battle that he cares not what happens to him.
Over and over. Again and again. Faster and faster.
He must surpass each strike that did not kill the enemy. Only that way he can achieve victory. If he fails once, he must surpass his failure, and if even that fails, even that must be surpassed. Defeating Rider otherwise is impossible.
After all, Avenger is a beast. A beast that does not care about himself. Even if the girl hadn’t been there, Avenger would have fought nevertheless.
This was his true nature.
That of a frenzied, suicidal beast.
He does not battle. He does not fight. He murders. Slaughters.
“Ha-----! ha, ha, haa, ha, haaa---!!!” a parched voice that tells that he is already past whatever limits he had from the beginning.
But Rider cannot be defeat. That land fortress that would not even be wounded by one of Avenger’s strikes cannot be defeated by something like this, not even by trading one’s own life for it. Indeed, Rider is simply too monstrous opponent for even a beast like Avenger to defeat.
And that fuels his anger even more.
The final mad cry.
He dashes forward, about to destroy either himself or the person he is fighting against. But Rider does not give him even that chance. The huge, demonic and holy club swings forward, breaking through Avenger’s defense, his weapons, his speed, and decides to crush his body with a single attack.
The sound of crunching is that of a breaking spine.
It does not come from Avenger. Nor does it come from Rider.
It comes from the small girl that ran between Avenger and Rider’s weapon, protecting him foolishly from the crushing force of the club. Before either could react, she sacrificed her life in order to protect the person she had known for only less than ten minutes.
Just how much had she wanted to see him in order to do something like this?
But even though she had received fatal damage…..
The girl grins at Rider, laughing like he was a fool. That malicious grin tells that the large man has already lost, even though there is no base for that confidence.
The girl laughs like insanity had taken control already.
A Noble Phantasm is activated.
Avenger knows what Noble Phantasm that is. It is the cruelest form of curses, one that should never be used, even amongst Heroic Spirits. It is a same type of primal curse as his “Void Avesta”, but far more potent. Something that dabbles in the very essence of the Second True Magic, yet makes it obsolete.
That is obvious the moment Rider’s spine snaps in half.
Fate Avesta: A fate-sharing primal curse.
One of the most potent curses of the world.
It can switch around the fate of the caster and the victim, even on the point of death. And that is exactly what has happened. Illyavenger changed her “death” to the “life” of Rider, leaving him only with “death”. The outcome was obvious. Rider experienced the same death that she would have, having been hit by the Club of Atonement that he carried----
Rider’s voice made the earth rumble, and with a power that would have astonished anyone, he jumped high in the air, only to land on his sleigh.
That had not been enough. What killed Illyavenger, the Noble Phantasm, could not kill Rider. That was no surprise.
But it had driven him off, that’s for sure. And that was all that mattered for now.
The two Servants of the 3rd War locked their eyes on each other as the other prepared to retreat. Rider gave Avenger a look that foretold many things. His death, Avenger’s death, Illyavenger’s death………..the death in that gaze was more potent than the curse through which Avenger had been created.
Yet, it also contained a hope, almost like Pandora’s Box.
“This is just the beginning.”
Those were Rider’s parting words. He left before Avenger could shout anything at him. The Divine Beasts that pulled his sleigh roared, and headed to the sky, out of the reach of the curse of Illyavenger.
Avenger looked at the girl who now rested in his arms. Use of the curse had taken its toll. She was not wounded anymore, but her breathing was heavy, and she seemed to be as if in fever.
“Onii-chan……do you understand? What is happening….?” she asked with a small voice. She was like a child asking for the explanation from her parent.
And so, Avenger tightened his embrace of her, and shook his head.
“No. I don’t understand what is happening.”
The mystery had left to the sky with Rider.
“But I know one thing……………”
And all that he was left with was this girl that had been entrusted to him.
“……………………….My brother has a hand in this.”