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Thread: Fate/strange fake (Free-Range Spoilers)

  1. #12681
    夜魔 Nightmare Glazy's Avatar
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    Call Fate Strange Fake Jujutsu Kaisen because Ishtar got jumped.

    Also when this get animated I wonder how many anime only will get confused that Rin just became Eresh?
    Also Thx for the translation Commun
    Last edited by Glazy; December 1st, 2023 at 10:59 PM.
    The Tales of Heroes Awaits

    My Servant Compendium

  2. #12682
    pythagorean tsugumi's Avatar
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    We're finally free. Happy days. Thanks, Comun.
    IYKYK

  3. #12683
    祖 Ancestor
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    lol, Ishtar wasnt ready for the raid boss treatment.
    Ganged on all sides.

  4. #12684
    世はまさにパンテオン Comun's Avatar
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    Full chapter version

    Chapter 26: The age of gods and the modern age <Maturation>

    "I'm so jealous."

    That was what a girl told Enkidu long ago.

    She said she was jealous of how Enkidu was eternally unchanging.
    Enkidu couldn't understand her logic back then, since they were a mud doll that changed forms with every move.
    However, what the girl meant was that changes in appearance never made Enkidu less Enkidu.

    "No matter what happens, no matter how many people you meet, even if the gods condemn you, your essence will stay the same.", she said.

    Even throughout their slow death, even past the day they returned to the dirt, Enkidu was eternally unchanging.
    As long as the world still has dirt and people, Enkidu will remain eternally Enkidu, and the girl said she was jealous of that.
    A slowly changing girl, a girl cast with a curse that forced her to change—In disobedience to her fate, she made a wish to Enkidu.

    "Don't forget me."

    That was all that she said.
    Not to forget her. Not to forget them.
    The girl feared that in her change, she might forget everything. She feared it more than death.
    That's why she made her wish to the unchanging Enkidu.
    She wanted at least one person to remember what they used to be.

    Enkidu promised.

    Before they had a human shape, they learned the system of promises and implemented it into their core operations.

    Enkidu did in fact remember the girl's words and their promise.

    Every time they met, the girl would ask the same happy and lonely question. "Will you remember who we were?". Enkidu always felt strange when it happened.

    But the time came for them to say goodbye.

    The will of the gods separated Enkidu from their first friend and sent them to Uruk, the city next to the forest.

    But even there, Enkidu kept listening to the girl's words.

    Because they made a promise.

    Every day, Enkidu operated the girl's words on their auditive sensors in an attempt to record the data about them in their memory space.

    But on the day of their farewell.

    The last words Enkidu heard the girl say was—

    "Who are you?"

    Enkidu would later come to meet many humans, starting from Shamhat, change shape, escape the hand of the gods, and go on many adventures.

    But Enkidu never forgot the words of the first human girl he met and the living records of the ones united with her.
    Nor the bed and meals they shared with Shamhat.
    Nor when she sent him to meet a king.
    Nor the three days and three nights they spent fighting the king.

    Enkidu never forgot the girl and the ones with her.
    Not when they were dashing through Uruk's wheat fields.
    Not when they traveled down the Purattum River on a reed raft.
    Not when they dashed through the forest of Eridu.

    Not when Gilgamesh declared he would clear land on the Cedar Forest of Lebanon.
    Not when they learned that the guard of the forest was a group of children including their first friend.
    Not when they confirmed breaking the law of the gods and killing the guard would lead them to suffer a tragic death.
    Not when they confronted the guard.
    Not when they defeated the guard with their own hands.
    Not even while they dismantled her with their own hands until the shape of their former friend was gone for good—

    Enkidu never forgot the children.

    The children's words are the only part of the vague records of their past or their memories that are engraved on their body and soul.

    But there's one thing they can't remember. Something previous to the promise.

    The color of the flower that bloomed when they first met her.

    The fact that they couldn't remember that color was a constant source of friction to Enkidu's system.

    X       X

    Present day, Neo Ishtar Temple

    "...I have a question for you, but I can tell it's going to be hard to ask before I exterminate Ishtar."

    Enkidu's faintly forlorn words were accompanied by a series of attacks blocked by the lights of calamity.
    The torrent of energy shined radiantly but what was contained inside it were modern concepts of calamity: disease, heat waves, and war.
    Berserker blocked everything by defensively applying enough magical energy to destroy a corner of the city if applied offensively.
    That was the correct thing to do when facing the Divine Weapon named Enkidu.
    Even with Haruri's magical energy under the effects of goddess Ishtar's blessings, fighting defensively was the best they could do.
    The Command Spell used a while ago drew her maximum power as a Guardian Colossus, but not only was the fact that she failed as a guardian engraved into the world, but she was also fighting the very person who defeated her as a guardian in the legends.
    She couldn't be at a greater compatibility disadvantage, but she still could resist without letting them pass to the temple. That's because this place wasn't the Cedar Forest of Lebanon, it was the front gate of a temple where the goddess Ishtar was enshrined.
    Berserker circled around them with unthinkable agility for the gigantic size of her body, positing herself in a way she could just as easily attack Enkidu from the front or from the back, and continued to endure their attacks.
    They took countless turns attacking and defending.
    They entered this tactical loop, both expecting the conflict between the Avenger's toxic snakes and the Bull of Heaven to be over before anything changed on theirs. But then it happened—

    Indescribable discomfort assailed Enkidu's body.

    "What's this?"

    A bizarre sensation they never felt in life or otherwise.
    Something that didn't exist until a few instants ago started oozing out inside the extended domain of their Presence Detection.
    It was different from teleporting with Command Spells. Someone eerily "came to existence" by denying the nexus that said it "didn't exist".
    But what surprised Enkidu the most was where this "something" manifested—

    On the top floor of the temple, the space goddess Ishtar was manipulating, directly behind her.
    They checked on Ishtar, and she had noticed the sudden appearance, a few seconds later than Enkidu did.
    They could visualize her talking to something behind her back.

    "What a surprise. I didn't think there was someone with stealth capabilities that could slip past my radar."

    Honestly impressed, they conjectured that the entity had an Assassin Saint Graph.
    They had already confirmed the existence of the other Assassin Saint Graph, but this one was completely different. A Heroic Spirit with a vague yet extraordinarily heavy existence.
    Despite having this amazing quality of presence, he was perfectly concealed within the world until this moment.
    From this fact alone, Enkidu imagined how fantastically powerful that Assassin was.

    Regardless, this was highly likely to change the state of the board.
    Having analyzed that, Enkidu used the power of Shapeshift to increase their abilities.
    They started absorbing mana little by little, so the increase in their magical energy values would be not immediately noticeable.
    So that they were ready to make the best possible move on the goddess Ishtar whenever something happened.

    X       X

    The sky above the Neo Ishtar Temple

    "What... is going on with them...?"

    Thia Escardos analyzed the magical energy flow he was watching and was startled for a moment.
    The flow of magical energy he observed around the temple changed dramatically in a moment.
    The trigger for it was a shadow spawning behind the homunculus woman distorting the space with her divinity.
    He appeared quietly, mixed with the shades of the temple.
    That's all the humanoid shadow did, but for Thia, whose eyes could accurately see the flow of magical energy, it felt like the world instantly changed colors.
    It was like the world flipped from day to night in the blink of an eye, which confused Thia.

    "...Would my other self... Would Flat have understood what happened here?"

    The shock made him reflexively miss his lost other half.
    After quietly getting a full picture of the temple, Thia shifted his eyes to the strath.
    There he noticed a change in the group of dozens of figures previously gathered on the canyon.
    Most figures were gone, less than ten of them remaining there.

    "...Even under this turbulent of a conflict, you don't even consider running away... El-Melloi Classroom."

    Thia reminisced about the home Flat Escardos loved.
    After a moment of silence, he rotated the satellites around him.
    Thia created satellites with magical energy that grew denser with each rotation while he waited for the opportune moment.
    So that he could turn everything in this land to dust if needs be.

    X       X

    Upper floor of the Neo Ishtar Temple

    "Wha!? ...Ishtar!"

    Noticing the irregularity behind her, Haruri tried to run to defend Ishtar.
    But Ishtar gestured to stop her.

    "I'm fine, Haruri. You keep Berserker pushing the piece of junk back. One opening is all they need to barge in here."

    "Y-yes, my goddess!"

    Haruri was still insecure but didn't disobey Ishtar's words. She dedicated herself solely to supplying Berserker with magical energy.
    Behind her back, Ishtar eyed the further darkness in her temple.
    She immediately acknowledged that this "something" was a threat.
    But even in danger, Ishtar was still the embodied sky.
    She confronted the skull-masked mass of the world's blended shadows with a dignified posture and a daring smile.
    But she had yet to release her charm on the ground and wind, as the growling earth and the viscous wind were still holding the midair harpoon from piercing her.
    It was also possible that once something was charmed by Ishtar, it truly gained a mind of its own and continued to struggle of its own volition, without needing Ishtar's further interference.

    "So... did I hear you say 'evening bell'?", Ishtar parroted those words and squinted. "A guard of the ravine acting like he's Ziusudra... Ok, I see you're his extended shadow."

    Her word choices got more trying, but on the inside, she was raising her levels of caution.
    The caution she had against Enkidu was offensive in nature since it was born from hatred and scorn, but here she showed caution in its truest sense, the kind woven by strong hostility attempting to pick up on the enemy's every movement.
    She knew it.
    The guard of the Ravine Mausoleum is able to implant the concept of death in a fully-fledged god.

    "I don't belong to your land so you can't allow me to call myself a god? Is that what this is about?"

    Goddess Ishtar's question was challenging, causing the shadow to silently flicker.

    "Wrong."

    She felt all shadows in that space flicker.
    It might have been actually what happened.

    "I merely answered thee the reason why I ventured outside the ravine."

    Faster than he finished these words—

    Hassan formed a pitch-black shadow in midair behind the skull mask.

    X       X

    Northwest section of Snowfield, underground

    Multiple human figures crawled inside an artificial cave dug with a fixed size.
    Saber and Ayaka, as well as Rider and her Masters, walked in the darkness with the dim light of magecraft floating above their heads.

    "I'd have never guessed they had such a huge network of underground tunnels...", said Saber with a mix of amazement and annoyance. Rider nodded in agreement.

    "I was also surprised. In only a few days, they opened roads under the land from the canyon all the way to the desert on the south."

    "Well, a few of our class graduates are experts in excavation work and leyline manipulation. We're lucky they happened to join the current team.", casually said Rin.

    Ayaka interjected.

    "No way... Did you dig this cave? With your own hands?"

    "If using magecraft counts as doing with our own hands, yes. Well, the area around the Greater Grail is obviously protected by underground Boundaries, so we couldn't dig everything exactly how we wanted it."

    "You found out where the Greater Grail is?"

    "Well, the answer is a lot more obvious than it was in Fuyuki's case. It's like they weren't trying to hide it.", Rin answered, starting to get irritated.

    (Being a mage from Fuyuki, there was a high likelihood she's been in a Holy Grail War before. I learned through the illusion Prelati showed me that King Arthur manifested in Fuyuki. Then isn't it possible that this mage Toosaka Rin has seen King Arthur with her own eyes?)

    Saber has been curious about this whole time, but since Ayaka sternly told him to save this conversation for later, he's been holding back on his urges.

    However, the conversation came his way from an unexpected angle.

    "You're completely used to the hairstyle at this point, huh.", said the young man named Caules.

    Saber tilted his head.

    "Hm? Her hairstyle was different before?"

    Rider herself answered the question that came up during their mid-walk chat.

    "Yes. When I was summoned, I was wearing the outfit and hairstyle I used in life... But they told me my hair stood out too much when I walked the city in physical form, so a Master did my hair for me."

    "Huh... Well, I get the logic. I've also been in a few modern outfits."

    After nodding convinced, Saber casually dropped the following words.

    "So that's why your hairstyle is so similar to My Ancestor King."

    Rin stopped her walk and scowled at Saber.

    Saber continued his reasoning, ignoring someone staring daggers at him.

    "Oh, I already found Miss Rider's True Name. And knowing her social status, I can think of one person of the same prestige wearing this same hairstyle. That'd be My Ancestor King."

    "I've been wondering... you're associated with the Round Table, aren't you?"

    "If being a fan is enough to be associated with in your book, then of course I am! Associated with Ancestor King Arthur... I love the sound of that! Thank you!"

    Seeing Saber turn what could have been an easy chance for a deflection into a further hint toward his True Name, Rin looked at Ayaka with eyes full of pity.

    "Yours is a handful too..."

    "Please tell me this is like... normal for Sabers in a Holy Grail War."

    Ayaka begged for confirmation, but Rin didn't say yes or no.

    "When I watched him giving a speech atop the police car, I thought there was something wrong with my eyes or my head."

    "I figured..."

    Having instantly figured out what she meant, Ayaka out a big sigh.

    Saber, on the other hand, remembered something.

    "Oh, right... I still haven't paid for the opera house's repairs. I have to——"

    But his words were cut short.

    A bizarre chill breezed past everyone in the room.

    "What was that...?"

    "Stay on guard.", warned the young man named Svin. "The smells around us... begun to flip inside-out."

    Ayaka didn't know what he meant by smells but understood something serious happened.

    "It's coming from... west.", Saber warned everyone, squinting to watch his surroundings. "Yeah, my mage retinue has been suspecting this for a while. This underground space is... being invaded... Wait, no... Swallowed?"

    X       X

    Upper floor of the Neo Ishtar Temple

    ■■■■■■■■ began to flip the world inside-out.

    This was visibly different from regular black smoke or mist.
    The spread of his domain inside the temple was less like a gas expanding and more like all surrounding light being sucked into one point.

    The darkness embraced Ishtar's surroundings and all light was plundered away from her sight.
    In this space where even the flow of the wind on her skin was nowhere to be felt, a shadowy blade approached Ishtar's back.
    But—It was effortlessly brushed away.

    A part of the Neo Ishtar Temple walls, manipulated via Charm, blocked the invisible blade without requiring Ishtar to move one step away from her position.
    The snapping sound of the deflected blade was sucked into the darkness while two more blades approached Ishtar from completely different directions.
    But they didn't reach their mark.
    Ishtar, ever unmoving, blocked all directions by levitating charmed stones and ornaments.
    The blades of darkness unleashed by Assassin lacked the third dimension, making them normally capable of piercing a steel shield or a tank's plate to reach the target's life.
    A mage or Heroic Spirit with strong magical defenses would be able to block them, but that's no surprise to anyone familiar with battles between Heroic Spirits.
    But the wave of dark attacks never stopped.

    The two simultaneous strikes were immediately followed by a new series of 3 invisible blades, targeting the top of her head, her feet, and her back.

    Three clash noises are produced and sucked into the darkness.

    Before the sound had completely disappeared, 4 slashes assailed Ishtar.

    But they didn't reach their mark.

    Five slashes.

      Six stabs.

        Ten blades.

          Twelve.

    A hundred.  

      A thousand.

    This culminated in a nonstop loop of hits from every direction, but aside from stones and ornaments, Ishtar also charmed the air, and eventually the laws of physics, causing the world to eliminate the blades touching her skin from the possibilities of fate.
    Assassin's blades would have already returned a normal Heroic Spirit's Saint Graph to the dark, but the opponent was a fragment of divinity that a god left in the world, even if but a remaining stain. No lone Heroic Spirit is a match for her.

    "I was so curious to see what you'd try... but all you had was stupid tricks.", Ishtar declared to the assassin in the dark. "Were you thinking you could stop me from charming things here if you hid my looks and voice? Well, that won't work. What I do has nothing to do with the five senses. The world is simply destined to be charmed by my presence."

    Ishtar held out her hands to swat away the "shadow" that erased the space's color and shine while enlarging his domain.

    "Learn some respect, Mariner of the Umbrage."

    The power of her words was beginning to affect the laws of reality.

    "This would have worked in about any regular Heroic Spirit out there. If that's what you wanted, you could have killed any Master or Servant before they noticed you. I'm not sure about that Avenger, since he's more sturdy than he has any need to, but since his Master is human, that trick you just showed off would be more than enough to get rid of him."

    It didn't matter what was ideal for mankind or the other animals. Her words became the new ideal for the planet's surface layer.

    "But..."

    If Ishtar said crows were white, the black crows would be erased from the world. And if that resulted in the crow species disappearing from Planet Earth, no one would notice the difference.

    "Don't you go thinking the Sky will allow any domain for the shadows."

    Light radiated in the inner corridor of the temple, rejecting the ingrained darkness.
    Clear blue light.
    The ground gave birth to an azure sky, and the entire place was lit with the pale radiance of the Morning Star.

    And—One shadow floated in the center of it.

    "Looking dashing, aren't we?"

    There stood the skull-masked Assassin, his body pierced by countless lapis-lazulis arranged in the shape of blades.
    With his Spirit Core pierced, the pulse of a Heroic Spirit could no longer be felt.

    "Looks like it was your ears hearing the evening bell."

    The shadow, by the definition of the phenomenon of shadow, couldn't exist within the light.
    Assassin's full-power blinding took away light from the world itself instead of from eyeballs, but the goddess Ishtar overpowered it with her Authority.
    Or so she thought—



    The goddess misunderstood him completely.
    The assassin's expanded shadow.
    The loop of countless slashes.
    Neither of those was meaningful to this Assassin's essence.

    "...?"

    Expression disappeared from goddess Ishtar's face.
    At this moment, she finally noticed something didn't add up.
    She felt Assassin's Spirit Core being smashed.
    But she couldn't see any sign of his Saint Graph crumbling.
    On the contrary—

    Her face and divine aura changed, first expressing doubts, later minor disturbance, and lastly suffocating irritation.

    "Are you... trying to twist the proper way of things?"

    "Wrong."

    The voice of the shadow Assassin echoed.
    The voice of a dead man echoed.
    The voice of a man who had his Spirit Core pulverized, who cannot possibly exist, whispered into Ishtar's ears.
    Ishtar heard the whispers emanated from somewhere in the distant past, and due to its distance, the voice repeated numerous times in her ears.

    "Hereby this replica of mine engraved in memory concludes the transitory journey of a Servant."

    Logic dictated his words were newly spouted, but sensation suggested his words were recorded in ancient times.

    "...!"

    "It is time to relinquish this borrowed fragment of the perennial shadow to the boundary between dark and light."

    With those words—Assassin's carcass generated a tremendous amount of shadows.
    The shadows spread like a black explosion, began to swallow the light once more, and painted the newly-formed sky inside the temple darker than the night.

    The inhuman technique suppressed even a god's words of law.
    A normal Assassin Servant couldn't pull this off.
    But the True Assassin did.

    A Self-Sacrificial Noble Phantasm whose first activation needs to be induced by his own death.
    He doesn't die as a consequence of using it. He seals one's fate as a consequence of his dying.
    The most advanced version of Hassan of the Fathomless Rift's technique of merging with shadows—

    The Noble Phantasm that he can only use by merging his Saint Graph with the concept of death present in every land and every era has made itself manifest.

    Meditative Sensitivity
    "Zabaniya"


    X       X

    A long time ago, there lived one ■■■■■.

    He was a blade meant to fulfill the desires of a group completely different in nature from the future group that would be known as the Order of Assassins. In other words, he granted the desires of men without a shred of faith. This ■■■■■ raised to be a "shadow" was reconstructed as a ■■■■■■■■ through magecraft, curse, alchemy, and science. After ■■■■■ing numerous ■■■■■■■■■■s, the organization that created him ultimately ■■■■■■■■■■■■■ him. The only ones offering their hands to the ■■■■■ degraded into a ■■■■ were one good-natured ■■■■■ and a pious ■■■■■ with pure faith in ■■■ heart. Thanks to them, the ■■■■■ could ■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■ ■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■ ■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■ ■ ■■■■■■ everything ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■ ■ ■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■ ■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■ ■■ ■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ killed ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■ ■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ couldn't save ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■ ■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ saving ■■■ was not the right thing to do■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ sought ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■ ■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■ ——————— ——— —————— —————— —— — ——— ———— ——— ——— —————— ————

    And so, he journeyed to the ravine.
    He was after a mausoleum rumored to be deep in those mountains, the one which regulated the divide between the underworld and the world of the living.

    Most of his past was dissolved at the bottom of that nothing.
    The Saint Graph data supposed to be recorded in the world for this Heroic Spirit scattered apart along with his past.
    It's not possible to deceive the planet's memory, but the world being capable of detecting him didn't make a difference when no one could perceive him.
    No one—Naturally including his own Heroic Spirit self.
    All that remained inside him was his semi-systemified ego and the ideal he dedicated all of himself to on the verge of his death.


    "Fool."

    The journey of his life ended with him reaching the Mausoleum and encountering a greater entity there.

    "What doth thou think thou canst with thy hands etched into shadows not allowed to perish? Did thou believe atoning before the proper time would give thee salvation? Doth thou desire to eternally wander the boundary between dark and light, aware that the resolve thou carrieth will not take thee anywhere?"

    The embodiment of death was human in flesh, and yet he was clad in shadow so deep that it seemed like the whole underworld was contained inside him.

    At first sight, the man understood he would become this honored entity's shadow for eternity.

    He didn't decide he would, he accepted it.

    He got the answers to all his questions.
    "Why was I reconstructed into a being with non-human characteristics?" and "Why am I continuing this walk, considering that someone with no reason to live has no reason to fear death?".
    To become the shadow of one he saw.
    That was enough to dispel all the doubts he believed he would carry to his grave.
    There was no emotional sobbing or fear of the dense shade of death, only a plain resolution.
    Where he was, there was only tranquility.
    He rested in peace knowing that, despite never knowing what he was born for, he finally arrived where he was meant to reach.

    "If so—bare thy neck."

    Condemning words and a silver glimmer.
    And then the wind, sharp and full of mercy, passed through his neck.
    The last sensation he felt in life shone far more brilliantly than anything in his memories buried in shadow.
    That was what he remembered the most clearly in his Saint Graph mostly sunk in shadows.
    He needed nothing more.
    He continued to exist as a curse eternally loitering the shadows.
    That was enough. He couldn't ask for a better reason to have treaded the arduous journey with no end.
    The path with no destination wasn't a curse because, at the end of the extensive road, he earned a blessing.
    Perhaps his mentality was no longer human at that point.
    And lastly—
    His life ended there, where one shadow was etched into the world.

    X       X

    In front of the Neo Ishtar Temple

    "What's that?"

    Enkidu noticed the unusual event inside the temple progressing.
    Their Presence Detection merged with the world now could clearly sense the abnormality.
    The presence that revealed itself now disappeared again.
    But they didn't stop sensing the abnormality.
    Enkidu felt, heard, and saw the situation grow more unfamiliar than ever before.
    Said abnormality being the disappearance of the very world.
    A portion of the divinity filling up the Neo Ishtar Temple disappeared like a bug bite in a leaf.
    Furthermore, the range of this presence loss gradually expanded, on its way to erase the entire world.
    Color, sound, smell, magical energy—Watching the divinus air inside the temple be swallowed by shadow, Enkidu stopped for a moment.
    Berserker did the same, momentarily turning her giant body away from Enkidu to fire her light of Calamity into the temple's interior.
    Rainbow-colored radiance slipped above Haruri's head, passing by Ishtar's sides.
    But the moment they touched the shadow inside, they silently disappeared. No explosions, no shockwaves, not even a mild breeze.

    "..."

    That was the perfect chance for Enkidu to attack Berserker's behind, but instead of attacking this defenseless back, they directed their magical energy to the giant golden chain above them.

    "Berserker!"

    Watching the event attentively, Haruri issued a command.
    If she hadn't received her blessings, she would have lost consciousness when the light of calamity passed above her head.
    But despite everything, her status as Ishtar's head priestess was official.
    She had no need to be anxious about Ishtar's well-being.

    She could tell from her Goddess Blessing, a connection much beyond a magical energy link, that Berserker wouldn't hurt the goddess.
    She suppressed her instinctual fear, not sure if she could do it thanks to the blessing protecting or purely due to her personal growth, and devoted herself to hers and Berserker's shared duty as Ishtar's believers.

    "You don't have to stop Lancer or the Assassin behind me! It's that chain! Something is up with that thing!"

    "I agree. Well done.", Ishtar's voice echoed immediately behind her.

    "Mm! My Goddess! I'm grateful for your kind wo...!"

    Turning around made Haruri gulp.

    Everything in the corridor to the temple's interior except the goddess had completely lost its light and color. And that was left was a pitch-black open space.

    She couldn't tell if the blackness was a room or a wall. It was impossible to visualize what was inside, given that the space let no light return outside.

    It wasn't just light. She couldn't hear the echoes of sounds or feel any magical energy.
    Haruri was struck with the unsubstantiated conviction that if she took a step in, her body would be gone forever.
    The domain of shadow was trying to take over their territory and Ishtar was doing everything in her power to hold it back.

    Unbelievably enough, that Assassin's Noble Phantasm was challenging a Divine Spirit on even grounds.

    "You're evaluation was right. That chain and harpoon are the biggest threat.", said Ishtar to comfort the flabbergasted Haruri.

    She nonchalantly issued a command that had nothing to do with the shadows, as if to say they weren't an issue.

    "That chain and harpoon could have been a much more powerful Noble Phantasm if the piece of junk had transformed their body into it. And yet, they chose to instead plant the equipment on the top of a building... This means the piece of junk has some hidden plan, not that I expect anything clever out of them... Ah."

    That was all she could say before the shadows squirmed explosively.

    Every shadow within the temple gained physical shape and started predating the light around them—the light-consuming nothing was practically sending a message: "We are the ones who oppose the world ruled by Ishtar".

    Ishtar raised her hand while watching them with serious eyes.
    Ishtar instantly charmed the space around her—the air and walls twisted, and the staircase above her began to open like the soft petals of a blooming flower.

    "I'll be right back after I deal with this tactless Assassin."

    "My goddess?!"

    Ishtar's words were absurd but she maintained her fearless smile while her worshipper was watching.

    "Oh, right. Not even I can survive touching these shadows, so watch out, okay?"

    "Wha..."

    "The shadows already surrounded the forest"

    And so, the shadows began to devour the lights of the world.
    The signs of life disappeared from the forest around the temple. The world was stained with darkness and silence.

    Shadows proliferated from everywhere—the shades of the foliage, behind the tree trunks, under the sprays of the muddy streams, and the crevices of the dirt previously manipulated by Ishtar's charm.

    The shadows lauded themselves as the righteous form of things.
    But the shadows swollen in the color of death didn't take the life of a single insect clinging to the trees.
    Because there was one entity rejected by the shadows on the land illuminated by the azure sky.
    Only the mistress of the skies attempted to engulf the land in her false light.

    "We're going out for a spin, Maanna!", Ishtar yelled as she jumped to the sky from the hole she opened in the ceiling.
    In response, all gold and lapis ornaments composing the temple trembled, floated in the air, and flocked to her location.
    They transformed into a bow-shaped boat with two beautiful arcs, which floated carrying Ishtar up into the skies.

    But the shadows wouldn't let her escape.
    The rabidly pursuing clusters of shadows appear from within the world, hunting the radiance that blinds the eyes of all creation: Ishtar. Where there is light, there is shadow, they prove.

    The black geysers chased Ishtar from all directions. Although they were called geysers, their movements much more closely resembled pitch-black worms eating the sky.

    Goddess Ishtar's charm takes control of the surrounding space and terrain, the flow of the wind, and the atmospheric density, allowing the continuously perform last-second dodges on the flock of shadows unaffected by her power.
    Gracefully, elegantly, boldly.
    But it couldn't last forever.
    Maanna was originally a Boat of Heaven meant to fly across the world.
    But since the Age of Gods hadn't fully started again, it can only maintain its max speed within the temple and forest areas.
    Conversely, the shadows are in opposition to the new world, existing even at the current world's edges.
    It's painfully clear that if the chase persists, Ishtar will be the first to run out of divine aura and magical energy.
    However, that is assuming that Ishtar will not fight back.

    "Ooo, that's perfect."

    Ishtar saw the gigantic snakes coiling to Gugalanna's legs below her and reached down like a child picking up a stick to swing around.

    "Come here, Cita!"

    Those were incarnations of Hydra, the giant serpent of curses unleashed against those who defy the gods.
    But who would have thought? The goddess emanation regaining her full Authority could charm the essence of the snakes and reconstruct them into a completely different entity.

    The aura shaped in the image of venomous snakes condensed and shapeshifted into smaller snakes as all of its curses flipped inside out.

    As Ishtar extended her hand while dodging around on Maanna, seven snakes coiled to her fingers and tangled themselves to form one ritualistic implement.

    A stone mace built in the image of seven snakes.
    With one hand, Ishtar grasped a weapon with a visibly atrocious appearance.

    "Eat this!"

    Before she could finish her sentence, Ishtar flew Maanna high into the sky.
    Higher, higher, aiming towards Venus in the sea of stars.
    And the shadows extended in pursuit.
    True or not, Ishtar had declared that those shadows could kill gods on contact.
    Like the Tower of Babel, the pitch-black tower rose taller and taller, extending its hand to reach a god.
    Maanna's trajectory was like a roller coaster full of sudden turns and loops until it spun 180 and began a sudden descent toward the tip of the tower.
    Ishtar, a god, could not allow a tower to reach the domain of the gods.

    No, that was not it.
    It was not about the gods.
    She needed all to know that the skies were hers, Ishtar's domain.
    To do so, Ishtar simply swung her weapon relying on Maanna's momentum.

    Seven-Headed Warhammer Cita

    A warhammer in the image of seven snakes. Legend tells that Ishtar was born holding this hammer.
    Ishtar took this warhammer known for its ability to devastate her enemies without her needing to swing it, loaded it with her divine aura, and slammed it at the top of the tower of shadow with all her might.

    Everyone who looked at that specific area of the sky at the moment her hit sparked mumbled the same words: "I'm seeing a second Venus".

    Her moment of radiance continued as she descended to the ground with Maanna and the Cita warhammer flattening the shadows.
    By the time she landed back atop her temple, she had exerted enough force to pulverize the shadows along with Assassin's Saint Graph—but Ishtar forgot to consider one thing.
    That was no Tower of Babel.
    That's not the kind of tower any Hassan-i-Sabbah would ever build.
    The tower of shadow was created by Ishtar's own light and symbolic of the heights of her arrogance.
    Therefore, it's not radiance that can erase it.

    "...Yeah, I really don't do well against these underworld kinds!"

    In response to her words, the squashed shadow moved upward, turning its attention to the divine beast of the skies.
    Completely vanquishing this shadow would require drawing out the full force of the temple.
    And to achieve that, she'd have to cross everything out of her list of potential concerns.

    "Gugalanna.", Ishtar called for the Bull of Heaven that had been protecting her temple from the swarm of snakes. "Go destroy the source of the chain—while I hold this guy off."

    This order wasn't a product of pressure.
    It was as casual as telling one's favorite dog to fetch a ball.
    But coming out of a goddess' mouth, this was now a new law of the world.

    Many American meteorological surveillance systems, including the government, were observing "Hurricane Inanna" abnormal movements at the time, but what they saw was erased from the records in a matter of minutes.
    Although, had that movement remained in the records, it's plain to see that the public would have taken it as a video edited for a joke.
    Even mages would have a tough time believing this.
    The hurricane that had been strangely unmoving for a while took a 2-meter-long... backstep.

    Numerous arrows were stabbed into the colossal beast's leg.
    From them gushed out the aura of giant serpents.
    On the outside, they were the miasma of dark mud. On the inside, they were a deadly toxin that took many a hero and monster to their grave. They tangled to the divine beast's leg, sewed it to the ground, and attempted to rot its body along with its divinity.
    But that's no reason to refuse an order from the goddess.
    The Bull of Heaven took a big leap behind, not bothered by how it needed to let part of its leg be ripped off for it.
    One jump back was enough to pierce the land and ravage the forest with tremendous windstorms.

    The colossal beast crouched into the shape of a hurricane while taking a deep breath, condensing the concept of galestorm within itself.
    The quiet and pleasant sunshine over Snowfield made the galestorm one second ago feel like just a dream.
    But the people locked inside their houses never noticed this abnormality.
    In extremely rare cases, some fearless fools were watching everything from their windows. Those looked puzzled at this change in weather, but it didn't last long.
    This fantastic scene of all the unstable air suddenly disappearing and all problems being solved only lasted 4 and a half seconds.
    After that, he breathed out thunder and torrent condensed into one stream of death.
    A massive tornado formed at the divine beast's mouth at unbelievable speeds and plunged toward the top of the tallest building in Snowfield.
    A migratory anticyclone exhaled. A physical phenomenon induced by force.
    If shot at the ground, the city would have been leveled then and there, without having to wait for the masterminds' scheme.
    Its shockwaves alone would blow away the city and the forest with winds beyond those of a hurricane. But what engulfed the top floor of Crystal Hill's was the actual hurricane breath, a 200m/s vacuum blade covered in lighting and raindrops turned into ice.

    "Tch... Is there a worse place I could have been sent to...?"

    Doris Lusendra—one of Hippolyte's Masters—who was at the building's rooftop, circulated her magical energy through her whole body with a cold sweat.
    And then she picked up the silver wolf sitting next to the harpoon cannon to watch the forest in the West.
    The wolf tried to resist but stopped upon sensing no hostility from Doris.

    "I didn't think the Master I'd invite for an alliance would be a chimera, but I still can't afford a Master on our team to die."

    She still hadn't recovered from her fight against Rin but forcibly expanded the path of her Magic Circuits to accelerate her hardening.

    "Nope... I probably ain't surviving this one. Sorry."

    She covered the wolf's whole body with hers, half-aware of her imminent death—That's when the breath of wind and lightning reached the rooftop.

    That is the full power of a Divine Beast.
    Those are the divine works of the skies.
    A brazen strike of heavenly retribution, commanding the whole of creation to ensure Ishtar's victory.
    The perfect gospel to announce the return of the Age of Gods under her rule.

    But—
    One person still resisted the changing times.

    A wordless chant echoed and soon 4 walls of magical energy surrounded the rooftop.

    "...Hh?!"

    Doris saw a girl.
    A child. There was no other way to describe the youth still left on her.
    When Doris first visited this place, she thought it would be impossible to get her to join their fight.
    Partially because she was a child, but mainly because she was using all of her magical energy to preserve her Servant's corpse, ceaselessly preventing him from naturally vanishing into spiritrons.
    Doris had assumed that this was because the girl was too young to make decisions on her own, so she simply relayed the message that her allies would gather in the northern strath and went to the silver wolf's company.
    Thus, when she saw the girl arrive, she thought her Heroic Spirit had finally returned to the dust of spiritron.
    —Tine Chelc.
    This girl, Master of the Hero King, was the first one defeated in this Holy Grail War.
    She had a powerful light in her eyes, which made Doris instantly rethink her impressions.

    As this lone mage was challenging the god in the forest.

    "My family... lives in this land..."

    Her 12 brothers and 9 sisters were buried, sacrificed to the land.
    Tine had already made peace with the fact that she lived as the "extension" of a series of lives cursed to offer themselves to the land, but that didn't make the time spent with her family disappear from her memory.
    Her sisters made their poor attempts to teach her what normal people did for fun.
    Her brothers did what they could to let the youngest Tine escape their fate.
    She had no time to remember any of this in the middle of battle.
    And yet those were the only thoughts running across her brain as she yelled with clear anger.

    "So I won't let anyone take this land... this soil... My family away from me!"

    With pure, unadulterated greed, the girl yelled words that could sound unreasonable from an outsider's perspective.

    "Not even a god!"

    —Children should act like children.
    (How ironic. I'm just like a child throwing a tantrum right now.)

    This land belonged to the planet and humans unilaterally decided to be its defenders for their own convenience.

    (When King Gilgamesh said all lands would eventually be his yard again, was that simply the king's arrogance or was it his serious views as the arbiter between man and the planet? I can't tell anymore, but I do want one thing.)

    Tine now stood in opposition against a god out of her own will, her own arrogant and self-serving anger—not for the clan of keepers of the land.

    The magecraft of this ungrown child created sturdy walls of magical energy covering the top of the building.
    A defensive boundary capable of blocking an impact capable of collapsing the building.
    This vast volume of magical energy didn't come exclusively from her Magic Circuits, it utilized power flowing from the dragonveins.
    Nevertheless, this amount of energy is too severe for a single mage. The land couldn't recharge her magical energy fast enough. Her walls would lose potency in seconds.
    With the Bull of Heaven's not stopping, she figured she only delayed the inevitable. But that was when she heard a silver wolf's loud and melodic howl.
    One of the Command Spells engraved into the silver wolf's body shone red with this howl, generating an immense surge of magical energy.

    X       X

    "!"

    Having avoided the shockwaves of the Bull of Heaven's breath, Enkidu landed on the floating harpoon captured by the living dirt and felt the activation of the silver wolf's Command Spell through their magical energy path.
    But it didn't have any effect on their Saint Graph.
    On the contrary, they could feel the surge of magical energy passing through them and returning to the city's direction.

    (This must have been an instinctively activated Command Spell, but what did he use it for?)

    With milliseconds of examination, Enkidu understood their Master's reasons and quickly turned to the city to say one phrase that would go unheard.

    "Thank you. I'm wholeheartedly grateful for having you as my Master."

    X       X

    "!"

    Tine felt a sizeable surge of magical energy flow inside her along with the flash of the wolf's Command Spell.

    (It used the power of the Command Spell... on me?)

    An unthinkable act in a Holy Grail War.
    Command Spells are made to be used on one's own Servant. They can't be used to boost other Masters because there isn't a connection of magical energy between them.
    But Tine remembered she was currently an exception.
    Tine had been constantly spending her magical energy to prevent Gilgamesh's corpse from crumbling.
    And to prevent her own body from crumbling, Enkidu temporarily connected her to their own magical energy path with the wolf.

    Thinking back to everything in full context, Enkidu doing that by simply laying their hand on her shoulder was already absurd in both idea and execution, but thanks to that, the silver wolf managed to pass its Command Spell's energy through Enkidu to inject it into Tine.
    The power of a Command Spell is capable even of teleportation, which is almost Magic territory.
    This energy instantly expanded the Magic Circuits in Tine's body, reconstructing her Circuits into a sturdier network so her body wouldn't crumble from her fusion with the land.
    This resulted in the walls majorly expanding and the approaching cyclone of dirty water and thunderstorms completely dispersing into the air.

    3 seconds later.
    The walls vanished roughly at the same time as the breath attack.
    Even with the power of a Command Spell, none can make walls capable of withstanding the goddess' attack last more than a few seconds.

    "Thank you..."

    Confirming that they managed to survive by the skin of their teeth, Tine hesitated but thanked the wolf who watched her from her side.

    "..."

    The wolf looked like it wanted to say something.
    Something about the one Tine was trying to protect.
    Its eyes showed concern about her version of "Servant", which lay down on the top floor of the building.
    Figuring out what the animal meant, Tine crouched next to the wolf and hugged it tight.

    "I did all I could... It wasn't a lack of trying."

    Remembering what she did a few minutes ago, Tine squinted, shaking in anxiety, and whispered something akin to a confession of sin.

    "It was a gamble... but now his fate is up to the land to decide."


    X       X


    Next to the Neo Ishtar Temple

    The Bull of Heaven saw his breath attack blocked.
    He meets this with no confusion, only pure anger.
    Gugalanna was called to this world of fading arcanity.
    Without being able to feel any other Sumer deity on this earth, his loyalty to the Mistress of Heaven became his only source of joy and reason to live.
    And yet, he failed to execute her order.
    His grudge against Enkidu—the clay tool that once insulted a god and destroyed him—meant less than nothing before Ishtar's direct command.
    That is why the Bull of Heaven shook with intense anger.
    He was angry at none other than himself for failing to execute Ishtar's order.

    The Bull of Heaven looked to the sky and let out a roar of anger.
    The roar took many different forms as it reached the other side of the planet, being heard in East Asia as an inexplicable rumble and terrifying people in Europe as an apocalyptic noise.

    And in Snowfield, the land beneath the divine beast's feet, the roar manifested as hundreds of thunderbolts and howling winds.
    Over 10 thousand bolts of lightning struck in the span of 10 seconds, causing most of those watching from their windows to lose consciousness and destroying every mobile phone and recording device that lacked the blessings of magecraft.

    Next, the Bull of Heaven began to deeply inhale.
    This time he poured not only the hurricanes around him but also the divinity that composed him, preparing for a breath attack many times more powerful than the previous one.
    The divine beast knew Ishtar loved humans without distinction.
    Therefore, it tried to minimize human casualties when fulfilling her order.
    But he no longer needed such restraint.
    He is the living concept of destruction, sealed by the gods defending the Akkadian lands, but set free by goddess Ishtar's kind requests (threats).
    The Bull offers all that composes him for a continued attack in order to destroy thoroughly.
    He converts his entire being into the gust of wind he blows and then reconstructs himself where the wind reaches, simulating hyper-speed movement. This feat would be his Noble Phantasm if he were a Heroic Spirit.
    In short, it is a 396m/s head charge with all the immense mass and energy of a hurricane.
    A breath attack while at the same time a tackle from a divine beast.

    The hurricane moved with speeds rivaling the winds in Jupiter's stratosphere.
    Its actualization would have irreversible consequences affecting everywhere on Earth.
    Except in Ishtar's divine temple.
    Anything the Bull of Heaven could do is bound to the rules established by the goddess. No attack of his will ever harm Ishtar or her temple.
    And because the divine beast instinctively knows this...

    The executor of the will of the gods fully systematized himself as an agent of destruction, willing to give himself up if that's what it takes to destroy the enemies.

    He inhaled deeply, condensed his divinity in his lungs, and then...

    "Here's what Flat would have said here."

    The Bull of Heaven heard a voice above his head, from someone he deemed small.

    "Your move has too much start-up lag."

    And with this nonchalant warning...

    Thia Escardos launched a few of the bowling ball-sized Satellites orbiting him, making them ride the wind from Gugalanna's inhaling to strike his stomach.

    And that started a chain of ruin.
    Or perhaps... the chain had already started before.
    Before Gugalanna blew his first breath attack.

    When one Assassin guaranteed his success in Ishtar's assassination.

    X       X

    Near the Neo Ishtar temple

    The shadows had already infiltrated the ground below the forest.
    Ironically, the first ones to notice it were Rider's and Saber's teams, the ones deeper underground than the muddy flood. And the vampire washed away by the flood.

    The immense shadow created by Hassan of the Fathomless Rift was being held back from further spreading.
    But shadows can't be erased from the world for as long as there is light and objects obstructing it.
    The undetectable shadow continued to invade every place not reached by light. The gaps between the stone blocks that compose the temple. The interior of the leaves of the trees. The interior of human bodies.
    Blackness as dark as the mud in the flood but of a different kind.
    A mass of nothing, with no tangible magical energy or curse, wriggled in the forest.

    "No..."

    A chill ran down Haruri's spine as she watched this.
    The sea of shadows clearly didn't belong there, and yet she couldn't feel any magical energy.
    It hid itself in the dark flood to infiltrate the forest around the temple.
    The goddess isn't letting it infiltrate her directly.
    But the attack on her is both the shadow's main goal and a distraction.
    The magical energy on Ishtar's hammer is visibly negating the assaulting shadows.
    But erasing those doesn't help.
    The darkness enveloped the world with a layer of nothing at alarming speeds.
    The shadows rose from the flood, covered the trees of the forest, and recolored them into one black image that made it impossible to tell their distances apart.

    The Age of Gods attempted its rebirth only to end up drowned in the shadows of the planet.

    X       X

    Coalsman Correction Center

    "I didn't imagine that he had it in his Saint Graph to slap this hard at a deity..."

    The Heroic Spirit that he let loose with no concrete expectations used some kind of power.
    Faldeus could feel it from their magical energy path, and his observation footage let him grasp the state of the temple area.
    The Saint Graph's core was shattered.
    Contradictorily enough, he continued to exist regardless.
    Faldeus was confident this was the power of the Noble Phantasm that he concealed from his Master.
    The power of this Noble Phantasm ultimately got him evenly matched against the deity of the temple.

    "What a surprise. Assassins usually have weak Saint Graphs..."

    Faldeus raised his Command Spell-bearing hand during his dispassionate musings.

    "You were a great asset and a threat... I'll take no chances."

    What if the power of a Noble Phantasm can make a Heroic Spirit remain forever manifested after his Spirit Core is shattered?
    To a mage and to someone who knows the mechanics of a Holy Grail War, this was an unlikely possibility, but not one he was supposed to dismiss.
    With one shining stroke on his Command Spells, Faldeus played his insurance move against his own Servant.

    "I actually wanted to preserve all 3 Command Spells, but well, here's a tribute to your memory. By my Command Spell, I order you: spend all of yourself to bring the Western forest calamity to her grave."

    The Command Spell certainly activated, but he felt no hints of resistance or rebellion against that order.

    "That really was a farewell, huh, Assassin."

    Despite the nervous smile, Faldeus could say goodbye to his Servant with no regrets.

    "I thought I was always as cautious about you as I could be... but it turned out that down to the very end, I never gave you all the credit you deserve."

    X       X

    Neo Ishtar Temple

    With an explosive expansion of magical energy, the form of the assassin that was completely invisible to Ishtar's eyes resurfaced.
    Noticing that, Ishtar spoke to the Assasin fused with numerous shadows.

    "What a pity. At the very last second, your Master betrays you."

    The shadow's silence knew no end, but Ishtar continued, unbothered.

    "That was a Command Spell, am I right? You got ordered to pour your whole Saint Graph into your Noble Phantasm."

    Her voice and shrug carried a tone of pity instead of mockery.

    "See now how much humanity needs my leadership? When I don’t keep an eye on them, they always get blinded by greed and commit acts of foolishness."

    Nonetheless, she didn't lower her guard in the slightest, continuing to hold back the shadows that kept gushing despite her divine Authority.

    Without answering anything, Hassan of the Fathomless Rift continued to keep afloat the skull mask in the temple's interior, the point the shadows started proliferating from.
    Shadows don't talk to goddesses.
    Death doesn't answer saints.
    There is nothing left to talk about.
    Everything is already over.
    But the arrogant goddess hadn't picked up on this.

    Not yet.

    X       X

    Neo Ishtar Temple

    Haruri faltered for a moment, afraid of the countless pieces of nothing gushing out of the flood. But even now, she could still remember her mission and commanded Berserker.

    "Lancer is above us, Berserker!"

    She could see Enkidu atop the giant harpoon stopped in place by the wall Berserker created and the tangled earth controlled by Ishtar.
    Enkidu bundled together countless chains created by their Noble Phantasm, tied them to the tip of the harpoon, and pulled them in an attempt to force the harpoon into the temple.
    Their goal could be considered half-accomplished at that point.
    The chains allowed Ishtar's divinity—Mesopotamian divinity—to flow from the temple to the harpoon.

    "...! How dare you?"

    Haruri was shocked as her instincts told her that unless she did something, Enkidu would get even stronger and at the same time put Ishtar at a disadvantage against the shadows.
    If she didn't play her trump card now, that Heroic Spirit would reach Ishtar's domain.

    "By my Command Spell, I order!"

    The head priestess didn't waver.
    No advantage is absolute.
    At this point, any mistake can be fatal. She knew it as a mage, as one blessed by Ishtar, and as Berserker's Master.
    Hence, she yelled.
    Not afraid to lose her life if that's what it took to fulfill her mission.

    "Crush goddess Ishtar's enemy... Crush that Lancer with all your might!"

    Ignorant of how cruel this order was to Berserker.

    X       X

    The interstice between the era of gods and the era of men.

    Snowfield strongly resembled the peak of Babylonian civilization, despite their transformations going in opposite directions.
    For that reason, its True Berserker flickered between the worlds of dream and reality.
    It was a pleasant dream, a nightmare, and a seemingly perfect recreation of the past.
    She was swallowed by a flood of Maddened Spirits and there's no sanity left in her either, but in the dream, she has flashes of consciousness.
    Their eyes see the sky.
    A shadow stood atop a beautiful golden bridge across the air.
    It was a friend she knew well.
    In a form different from the one she knew.
    But it's clear to her.
    That was without a doubt—

    "  en  ki  du  "

    While she called their name, the magical energy of the Command Spell flowed into her dream.

      "  no  "

    The world instantly flipped into a different page.
    The girl's consciousness was drowned in a mass of almost three thousand "voices" and pushed to its depths.
    The numerous voices aside from the girl were very familiar with who they saw.
    "It is the enemy we must take revenge on."

          "  that's no  t it  "

    "It is the hated enemy who killed us."
    "It is the feared enemy who didn't spare us."
    "It is the heartless enemy who didn't save us."
    "It is the foolish enemy who tried to save us."

           "  enki  du  is  "

    "It's their fault,"
      "it's their fault."
    "That we amounted to nothing."
          "We couldn't be human."
    "We couldn't be useful to the gods."
      "We couldn't protect the garden of the goddess."
        "We weren't even allowed to be a proper monster."

    "  they're  not  our  "

    "We must kill them."
    "It's what Master wants" "It's what the goddess wants" "It's what the gods want" "It's what the people want" "It's what the world wants" "It's what the forest wants" "It's what I want" It's what I want too" "It's what the children want" "It what everyone wants"

    "─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─"


    "Give them death."
    "Give them destruction."
    "Destroy that terrifying person."
    "Kill that repulsive mud doll."
    "Make them suffer with no meaning, no mercy, and no reason until there's nothing left of them."

    X       X

    "─ ─ ─ ─             ─ ─   ─ ─ ─ ─       ─ ─ ─ ─                 ─     ─ ─           ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─     ─           ─ ─         ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─   ─ ─    ─ ─ ─"

    Berserker's roar could be heard around the temple.
    Unlike the Bull of Heaven, hers wasn't enough to make the world tremble.
    But it did assault Enkidu with intensely condensed madness and bloodlust of many.

    "...!"

    During the scream, the ring on Berserker's back shone, pouring seven colors of light on Enkidu.
    After dodging them by a hair's breadth, Enkidu tried to use that momentum to jump from tree to tree for a faint, but the Command Spell-boosted Berserker didn't allow that.
    The light of calamity irradiated in all directions, obliterating the trees around them.
    The damage didn't reach the temple, but the guardian knew what she was doing. She wasn't going to allow Enkidu to reach the safe zone.
    Seven colors of light chased the Divine Weapon that jumped around the forest leaving a golden trail behind them.
    The calamity beams worked to restrict Enkidu's mobility. One created fire tornados while another used cold waves to make ice walls, among others.
    When Enkidu chopped an icicle that appeared in front of them, they noticed the ice contained another calamity inside it: disease.

    Enkidu knows this one is fatal to them, so they divert all power into changing trajectories, but...

    It was all as the guardian predicted. She was in position to land a fully charged blow.
    The shockwaves unleashed by the part that could be considered her right arm delivered a strong impact to Enkidu's body.
    They crashed into the wall of earth risen by Ishtar's charm, knocking down many of the forest's trees along the way.
    Due to being the guardian of this forest, she had previously chosen no action that would harm the trees that survived the flood of mud.
    However, those restrictions were removed by the second Command Spell.

    Enkidu was damaged but far from perishing.
    Berserker knew it, so she raised her left fist with no mercy or hesitation to revert Enkidu back into a pile of dirt.
    When she least expected it, a shadow popped in front of her.

    Raving Shadow Flash
    "Zabaniya"


    Rapid shots of black hair grabbed Berserker's gigantic limbs.

    "It's you..."

    The Assassin with no name inside all that hair replied to Enkidu's words with no expression on her face but a strong will in her eyes.

    "As far as I know... my alliance with the three of you is still in effect."

    "You're..."

    Before Enkidu could answer...

    The dirt on a corner of the forest rose and exploded like an erupting volcano.
    And then... A flashing figure jumped out of the blast, dashing on top of the black waters at tremendous speeds to slash Berserker's colossal body.
    A strike accompanied by a flash of light.
    The slash cut through Berserker's skin, harder than steel and protected by multiple layers of divine blessing, and continued to hit the sky.
    The damage was far from fatal, but it knocked Berserker off-balance and shook the forest grounds.
    In turn, the Assassin with no name let her go of the hair bindings, causing her to fall into the trunk of a half-sunk tree.
    And then the man who unleashed the slash dropped to a rock that was protruding out of the flood and grinned.

    "Right... We're an alliance.", said Saber to Enkidu, propping on his shoulders the remains of a fancily decorated sword that presumably broke on this slash. "Of course I'll come running in your moment of need. I'm the one who proposed the alliance, after all."

    And then, with the innocent smile of a young boy, he proclaimed without a shred of malice:

    "But honestly, I had almost forgotten about it!"

    X       X

    Less than a minute earlier, in the sky above West Snowfield

    "You don't need to give me back what you swallowed earlier.", quietly and emotionless said Thia Escardos to the giant hurricane.

    In his orbital battle against Lancer, he unleashed a magecraft capable of annihilating Los Angeles.
    The Bull of Heaven swallowed this Satellite and assimilated the magical energy contained in it.
    Shortly earlier, Thia unhesitantly activated other Satellites loaded with magecraft.

    Hollowed Hearsay/Oblivion turns to festivity
    "A Clockwork Abaddon"


    At that moment, a section of the world stopped moving.
    This wasn't a time stop, merely physical stillness.
    Thia's magecraft accelerates and decelerates objects, magecraft, and even concepts with enough effort. With the power of his Satellites loaded with a spell that brings atomic movement as close as possible to a state of rest, he began to directly freeze the Bull of Heaven's heart—that is, the heat source producing all the countless storms and cumulonimbus clouds: the Eye of the Hurricane.
    The idea of reducing a hurricane's speed by dropping dry ice on it is prevalent in the scientific community, but calculations state one would need to accurately drop roughly a dozen jumbo jets full to slow it down a few meters per second.
    But Thia's ultimate spell blew away most of the ice in the North Pole. Dedicating it entirely to freezing had a quick and tremendous effect on the Bull of Heaven.

    The energy within Gugalanna slowed down, creaked, froze, and stopped.
    The droplets of water within the gale winds didn't even get the chance to turn into snow before freezing completely.
    There began the construction of the world's biggest ice sculpture, in the shape of a hurricane.
    In a wondrous spectacle, the hurricane that had grown large enough to engulf Nevada in its entirety was being fixed in place piece-by-piece by a single magecraft attack.
    This change in temperature was enough to dissipate a normal hurricane. In any other situation, it was bound to have serious consequences for the climate of neighboring regions.

    Gugalanna, however, is a divine beast.
    The physical dominance of the gods embodied in the form of the raging skies.
    Be it a cold wave or a heat wave, any product of the laws of the land is to be denied, forced into submission, and trampled by the laws of the beast and the laws of the gods.
    The bull is only allowed in the heavens because he's capable of doing it.
    He needs no logic or reason.
    Because the products of the goddess's Authority are everything. The laws come second.

    Hundreds, thousands, millions of lightning bolts illuminated the sky, and the world roared with claps of thunders of the kind only heard during the moment of creation or the end of times.
    He converted all the magical energy cultivated within himself into lighting while further absorbing the mana around him, causing the entire spiral of cumulonimbus covering him to shine.

    The vortex of electric light compressed into a length of 500km strikingly resembled the golden armor of the Bull of Heaven.

    "You monster...", said the irritated Thia as he increased the rotation of the Satellites around him.
    The magecraft spell applied began to cover the satellites in a pale blue light...

    This magecraft would turn Snowfield into a lifeless wasteland for the next ten thousand years, but when Thia was about to shoot it from the skies above, a violent torrent of energy passed below him.

    "So you use godlike power... to dress yourself in thunderbolt?"

    It was an avenger holding a bow as tall as he was.

    "Was the god of the sea forcing you to wear the skin of the Bull of Crete?"

    As Thia was observing from above, he realized that this was the Servant who was shooting toxic snake arrows shortly before.
    (It took him so few seconds to get here?)
    That speed was abnormal even to Thia's standards.
    The avenger's body was no longer fully human.
    His figure still looked human, but Thia had the ability to see his interior. To Thia, this individual had already turned into something incomprehensible.

    His flesh was fused with the sinister devil Saint Graph stolen from Jack the Ripper, and his divinity, mud, venom, and a disproportional amount of magical energy all miraculously balanced out each other.
    It takes more than a man or a hero or a god to accomplish this nonsense.
    What Thia saw was a monster ready to cast off his own Saint Graph and hatch into something new to achieve his vengeance.
    Words mixed with curses leaked from the gaps of the cloth made from the skin of the Nemean Lion.

    "I'm used to manning bulls."

    His words sounded cold, but somehow twisted.
    Was Alcides seeing the Bull of Heaven or was he seeing the embodiment of thunderbolt who ruled the gods?

    "Never again will your thunder cleave the stars."

    His next arrow didn't generate magical energy in the form of a snake like the previous ones.
    Because all the magical energy necessary to create the transient Hydra was instead poured into the interior of the thin arrow.
    A sonic boom stirred the air.
    But when the Bull noticed it, the arrowhead had already reached its leg.
    The Bull's right hind leg, as thick as a small town.
    Its knee and surrounding parts disappeared into the interstice between the land and the sky.

    "You pitiful bull, the container of divine fury spawned from the seas as an offering to the gods..."

    Anticlimactic.
    It disappeared like a water balloon popped by a needle.
    The moment the arrowhead landed, everything contained within it rejected the bull.
    By charging the tip of the arrow with the divine aura stolen from the sash of Ares, it pierced the surface equally protected by divine aura, and then the curse, venom, and magical energy within the arrow all worked to destroy the ox without interfering with each other.

    "...Return to the dirt of Crete as an offering to humanity."

    The avenger, the demon Alcides, was now one step away from his complete form.
    Corroded by venom and curse, and paying his life and sanity as the price.
    The former hero singlemindedly descended further down the deep and narrow spiral pit.
    Once he reaches the bottom, no one in Snowfield will be able to stop him.

    With one exception:

    The queen with the power of a demigod. The one with the right to take revenge against the avenger.


    X       X


    Top floor of the Neo Ishtar Temple

    “──!”

    Haruri saw a Heroic Spirit riding an oversized horse.
    It was the female Servant who followed the Saber out of the giant hole in the ground.
    The pit was surrounded by a tallish wall of ice created by someone’s magecraft, preventing the black stream that conquered the forest from flowing in.

    “A Rider…? How powerful…!”

    The Heroic Spirit’s parameters unfolded as a honeycomb pattern before the Master’s eyes.
    Seeing the opponent’s power, Haruri immediately went on guard and surrounded herself with bees clad in lapis-lazuli armor.
    A bee’s sting would mean nothing to a Heroic Spirit.
    But as Ishtar’s head priestess, Haruri didn’t have the option to stand and watch.

    “Hng…”

    A swarm of countless bees blocked Hippolyte’s way.
    Having immediately deduced that they were familiars, she looked around until her eyes stopped at the girl at the entrance to the top floor.

    “The temple’s priestess…?”

    Hippolyte skillfully turned her horse back and dashed to reach the temple’s entrance area in one jump.

    “I take you to be the priestess guarding this temple! I must ask your forgiveness for the affront of visiting the sanctuary on horseback! Please understand these war circumstances!”

    Hippolyte has been in her position both as the daughter of Artemis’s head priestess and as a queen and warrior leader guarding her temple.
    Therefore, despite this god being not one she worshipped, she voiced her plea instead of disrespectfully running wild.


    “I have nothing against your faith! But my allegiance to my Master doesn’t allow me to stand and watch as an ancient god frivolously toys with human society and subjugates its people! Thus I beseech the divine emanation returns to the ancient times!”

    Hippolyte boldly declared war against the goddess.
    The bees controlled by the girl believed to be Ishtar’s priestess surrounded her…

    But Hippolyte manifested a giant axe in one hand and swung her arm in sync with her horse’s spin.
    A wind strong enough to repel the hurricane’s gusts instant blew away the swarm of bees, and the horse-riding Hippolyte declared her intent to the priestess.

    “As a warrior and as a queen, I don’t wish to take lives without need. You’ll let me through to the temple’s interior.”

    Having announced that, Hippolyte grabbed her horse girdles, ready to dash through ignoring whatever the priestess attempted.
    There was a concerning skull mask producing shadows on the corridor to the inner sanctum, but her immediate plan was to ignore it.

    When she decided on what to do, a divine voice of arrogance reverbed from above.

    “That’s blasphemy, daughter of the Western war god.”

    “!”

    “Or should I call you… warrior chief of the moon goddess temple?”

    Hippolyte looked above and saw a goddess on a floating ship carrying a warhammer modeled after 7 snakes.

    “You weren’t summoned by Alaya to defend humanity, remember? You’re just a Servant in a Holy Grail War. You want to drive me away for humanity’s sake? Not a very funny joke if you ask me.”

    She was surrounded by bright light.
    Not by a blinding halo, but instead by a peaceful and transparent glimmer with the same soothing sensation as looking at the blue sky.
    Her club produced a torrent of energy and Ishtar herself produced bright light.
    The combination of these two kept her protected from the infinite shadows attacking from all directions.
    (A god. Even before this confrontation, I already knew she was an entity a tier above us Servants despite the limitations of the Lesser Grail as a host body.)
    Even so, Hippolyte didn’t take a step back. From her horse, she glared at the Mistress of the Heavens above her and proclaimed:

    “The reason of my summon matters not! My body is always a shield for the oppressed and my arms are the blade they’ll use to resist! That is my oath to the moon goddess and my father, the war god!”

    With this bold declaration and the matching words from the goddess, Ishtar’s priestess discovered Rider’s identity and let the words leak from her mouth.

    “The queen of… the Amazons.

    While Hippolyte argued loudly and with a glare, Ishtar closed her eyes and sighed.


    “Dear me. First the piece of junk, then this spiteful Assassin, and now you…”

    When her eyes opened again, their glimmer was unbelievably cold as she unleashed her Charm Authority in full.

    You’re all underestimating me a bit too much.”

    For a moment, it felt like the ground around the temple crumbled down, but what actually happened was that the giant temple floated to the skies.
    The giant harpoon remained chained at its tip and the golden chain connected to the launcher rose, like a rope bridge from the city to the floating fortress.

    “What…”

    Even Hippolyte was startled. She readjusted her horse’s posture so they wouldn’t fall off the shaking temple.

    “You thought I didn’t notice the bunch of mice sneaking underground?”

    Many holes opened in the ground that previously sustained the temple, revealing human figures moving about.

    “I see the basis of the plan was the idea that the temple was boosting me… Not wrong, but if you thought that wrecking the temple was what it took to kill me… Yeah, that’s blasphemy.”

    Ishtar raised her hammer as she spoke.
    While also charging her magical energy on the warhammer described in legend as being able to deliver death to her enemies without her needing to swing it.

    “But I gotta admit, it was pretty bold of them to use their Servant as the decoy. I’m about to pulverize them because I need them gone from my world, but they’re the kind of humans I really like, you know?”

    While sincerely stating she likes them, she prepared to hit the mages below the temple with death.

    “Kalion!”

    The horse neighed and jumped in response to Rider calling its name.
    Rising amidst the raging storm as if its own weight meant nothing, it crossed the forest skies using the flying trees and the floating ground fragments as platforms.

    “Rage forth, War Sash and Diamatheia!”

    Hippolyte unleashed the power of her Ares sash Noble Phantasm and replaced her axe for a bow.
    The sash overflowed with divine aura, imbuing the arrow with magical energy of a different color from the one filling the temple.
    The fired arrow traveled in a straight line toward Ishtar, repelling the hammer blow loaded with her divine aura.
    The shot also blew away the walls Ishtar set.

    “So close.”, Ishtar declared with a fearless smile to the falling Hippolyte. “If this era had the domain of Artemis or Ares, you could have pierced me with that shot.”

    And then, when she was about to aim for Hippolyte with the same Cita hammer she swung to parry the arrow…

    Countless Gandr curses flew the temple below her.

    “!”
    Although the fragments of curse couldn’t break through her walls, they obstructed her vision, giving Rider the opportunity to land her horse and position herself to protect the people inside the temple.
    Two figures appeared on the top floor of the temple.
    Two women wearing contrasting red and blue outfits. It was easy to tell they were both seasoned mages.

    “We made it in time. Although it vexes me that the only ones who managed to reach the temple were you and I.”

    Rin barked back at the mage in blue–Luvia.

    “Very well done, Hyena. I was just following your path because I figured a graverobber would know the right infiltration tunnels.”

    “How many times will I have to tell you this? Refer to me as The Most Elegant Hunter in the World.”

    “I can’t call ‘elegant’ someone who stops to correct me at times like this…Here goes!”

    Amidst her banter, Rin spent a jewel to shoot an energy bullet.
    Roughly at the same, Luvia spent a large amount of jewels to deploy a wall and a shower of bullets to limit the flying goddess’s movements.
    A shadow lurked around the two but showed no signs of attacking them or Hippolyte.


    “More importantly, what is this shadow?”

    “Good question but ignore it while it’s not harming us! Can’t complain about having more allies!”

    “True, after we came this far, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with trifling matters.”

    Despite what they say, Rin and Luvia were constantly paying some level of attention to the shadows.
    The two are mages, and any mage can tell that the shadows surrounding the temple are deeply related to death and that this concept of death wasn’t necessarily being directed at them.
    It’s harmless to them unless they set their feet where they shouldn’t.
    That’s the conclusion that made the women focus more on the flying goddess.

    “I hear you’re claiming to be goddess Ishtar… pretty low-brow of you. Though I suppose that’s exactly what she is in the myths.”

    Rin went for a cheap taunt but—strangely enough, Ishtar simply stopped in midair and closely observed Rin’s face with an expression of doubt.

    “? What? Do I have something on my face?”

    Rin was puzzled since she was expecting an immediate comeback. The goddess looked pensive as she opened her mouth.

    “Have we met before? I’m not asking about this vessel homunculus, I mean the actual me.”

    “Huh? Me? Meeting a Mesopotamian goddess? You don’t need to play jokes on me, your presence here is already enough of a joke. If I had met any troublemaker on your scale, I’d have remembered it.”

    While Rin only got more confused, Ishtar looked like she had found her answer.

    “...If this uneasiness is only on my side, that must mean my connection is to a different version of you… Which means… I have no reason not to get rid of you.”

    After some nodding—The goddess swung down her hammer without a shred of hesitation.
    Immense shockwaves descended from the sky but Hippolyte’s arrows neutralized the impact at the last second… and the shadows take advantage of that timing to come out of their state of reduced activity and gush forth, swelling to encircle the whole temple as they attacked Ishtar.

    “Ugh, will you ever stop? I already destroyed your Spirit Core. How long are you going to take to disa…”

    Partway through her sentence, she noticed what was happening and her expression went cold.
    She flew Maanna further above and glared at the swarm of shadows again from a distance.

    “Oh… I get it. So that’s what this was all about.”

    Rider, Rin, and Luvia went hiding further inside the temple while the shadows were covering them from view.

    “Masters, why did you show yourselves? If you arrived at the temple, you should have…”

    It was Rin who answered Rider’s question to two of her Masters.

    “Sorry, Rider. We know that the plan was to destroy the altar from the inside…”

    Luvia, the self-titled Most Elegant Hunter in the World, completed the other’s sentence with a shrug.

    “But have you seen this temple’s altar? It was just a collection of gems sold in Snowfield’s common jewelry stores. We found nothing that could be called a catalyst or an artistic sense.”

    “On the lack of proper Sacred Treasures, what’s is stabilizing the deity in this land instead is that woman, the Berserker Servant, and that stupid hurricane.”

    With Rin’s additional explanation, Hippolyte glared at the sky above her.

    “...Then to stop the world’s alteration…”

    “I do think blasting the whole temple would slow down the alteration and weaken her Authority a little… but for a more significant solution, we have to take out one of those three.”, Rin was certain. “Door A has a hurricane, Door B has a Berserker, and Door C has a homunculus with a curse or a Divine Spirit or whatever inside. Splendorous prizes all around. I think I wanna cry.”

    “Getting rid of Berserker’s Master would be inelegant, but an option, no?”

    Rin, in all her Holy Grail War experience, shook her head to Luvia’s question.

    “From what I saw… that Master has a magical energy path connecting goddess and priestess. Killing or otherwise neutralizing the girl would only get her Master rights automatically transferred to the so-called goddess.”

    She paused for a moment to think about Berserker.

    “A rainbow halo, the guardian of Ishtar’s domain… Considering the intel we got from Mary observing the fight in front of the hospital and its tag-teaming with the Bull of Heaven, that Berserker is 100% Huwawa.”

    Huwawa.
    The guard of goddess Ishtar’s garden, the Lebanon Cedar Forest.The monster that terrified Gilgamesh in the world’s oldest Epic.
    But it was ultimately taken down by Enkidu when they and Gilgamesh visited the forest. It’s believed that after death, its monstrous characteristics were integrated into the world, later spreading to Greek lands and influencing many monstrosities, such as the Gorgon.


    “We asked that Saber to hold Berserker back… but we might have demanded too much of him.”

    X       X

    Western forest

    Saber dodged Berserker Huwawa’s right arm, but the intense shockwaves of the blow still sent him flying.
    Before they knew it, the Bull of Heaven’s movement had vanished the black flood that covered the land, and half of the trees that succumbed to the venom and miasma were knocked on the ground.
    Anywhere else, the trees would have withered, rotten, and vanished, but it was presumably the blessings of the goddess operating from the temple to the forest that left things as they were.
    After a tight landing on a nearby tree, Saber looked above and yelled.

    “What the hell! The temple is floating, Lancer! Are those the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon?”

    “Absolutely not. That temple doesn’t meet the quality standards of a garden, much less does the goddess revered in it.”, answered Enkidu, trying to contain Huwawa’s limbs with golden chains flying from every possible direction.

    “Is that how it works? What are the shadow geysers, though? I know it’s the same thing that was recoloring the underground area…”

    Shadows extended upward all over the place, defying gravity with their power. They fed on light to give chase to the flying goddess.

    “Those are… the shadows of the ravine.”, mumbled the assassin with no name.

    She was also participating in restraining Berserker, combining multiple Noble Phantasms to keep her opponent in check.

    “An exalted one… used his thread of life as a receptacle to create a true entrance to the netherworld.”

    “The netherworld?”

    The nameless assassin’s words intrigued Saber, but upon watching Berserker snap Enkidu’s chains, he readied his sword instead of demanding further explanations.

    “Ok, that would make this huge Berserker this netherworld’s Cerberus! How exciting it is to be able to slay so many monsters in a single summon!”

    “Slaying monsters? That takes me back.”, Lancer ran next to Saber. Their words carried a hint of sadness; of self-blaming. “I wonder why… considering there were no monsters in that forest.”

    “...”

    Saber had run past Berserker’s back with superhuman speed, but hearing that, he turned 180 with a sudden brake and spoke.

    “I don’t know your reasons… but you don’t consider this Servant a monster, do you?”

    Saber prepared his Noble Phantasm during the conversation.

    “Yes… She’s human… They all are…”

    Saber charged his sword with magical energy as he asked, and Enkidu focused their energy on their limbs as they answered.

    “It’s thanks to her that I learned the meaning of life… She’s my first friend.”

    They told themself that, but their determination didn’t waver.

    Saber readied his sword. Enkidu saying “She’s human and my friend” about the giant monster showering them with light of calamity was all the answer he needed.

    “Ok, sorry for calling your friend a monster! Let me rephrase that!”

    Saber grinned as the glimmer of magical energy concentrated on his sword.

    “First the goldie and now this… How exciting it is to be able to meet all the amazing friends you have!”

    Words without shame, but also without malice.

    “An opponent worth defeating! Assassin and I will keep her here, so you go do what you want!”

    “!”

    The action so far let Saber know that Lancer’s goal was not to defeat Berserker.
    But he wouldn’t criticize them for it.
    He got where he was by always doing what he wanted, and he believed Lancer was just as free to do the same.

    “The real me… doesn’t belong in such an exciting place. He must still be burning in purgatory, as that was my greatest wish in life. So my point is… this version of me is a duplicate or a fake. Doesn’t matter which. The only one of me I care about is the one that’s here.”

    He said something similar to what he said about Ayaka to the students of the El-Melloi Classroom.

    He remembers a war where people from different sides united for a common goal.
    It was an obnoxious experience, but at the same time, an exciting one.
    The man now manifested as a Saber valued his momentary impulses above all else and believed those were worth staking his life for.
    He ascended into a Heroic Spirit and was allowed to dash again for a short period—all that he built up in life was for the sake of making his heart flutter in this momentary present.
    Things would be different if he was summoned in another Saint Graph. It was quite possible his philosophies as a king would show more pronouncedly in these other forms, mainly his Rider one.
    But this time he was summoned as a knight, and a few days ago, he found his goal for the Holy Grail.
    He will make allies and fight alongside them. But otherwise, he will do what his heart tells him to.
    He’s not someone who would want to stop his allies from doing what they wanted as well, and even if he wanted to, he would never put that into practice.

    “Our time is short and our memories will be gone once we return to the Throne! But records of it will remain forever like a page in the book of our lives!”

    He increased the glimmer of his sword and his radiance was reflected on the wet soil.
    Noticing that, the Berserker stopped engaging the assassin with no name, turned its upper body to face him, and began to light up her halo.

    “If someday, perhaps after the end of humanity and the planet, there comes a day when my true self is allowed to leave purgatory and gets a chance to read this ‘book’...”

    Saber smiled with heartfelt joy despite how serious he was about this personal conflict.

    “The least I could do is write one page I can be proud of, right?”

    And before Berserker had the chance to shoot her rainbow-colored calamity…

    Sword of Ever-distant Victory
    ”EXCALIBUR!”

    One glimmer dominated the forest, unleashing its light in resonance with the shining chain of gold in the sky.
    The sword, unable to withstand it, crumbled to dust—but in exchange, the rising slash cut through Berserker’s body to reach the heavens, also dispersing the light of calamity.
    The first Excalibur that Enkidu saw was one done with a branch when they formed their alliance.
    Obviously, a branch and a regular sword are as different as heaven and earth, but that point aside, Enkidu judged the Noble Phantasm they saw as almost recognizably more developed than it was before.
    The Heroic Spirit without a conscious goal in the Holy Grail War found his wish and officialized his contract with his Master.
    Enkidu didn’t know about this change, but one thing they did know was that something in this Holy Grail War enabled Saber to regain his original power.
    Watching him from behind, Enkidu responded with their own serene smile.

    “I owe you one. I see, so this is what an alliance is about…”

    While Enkidu recorded this subjective information in their body, they looked at the floating harpoon in the sky.
    And then they placed their hand on the ground, causing the dirt under Saber’s feet to shine.

    “!”

    To Saber’s surprise, he found himself surrounded by… numerous replicas of famed and treasured swords created by Enkidu’s Noble Phantasm, Age of Babylon.

    “That’s my modest way to thank you. Feel free to use them until they break.”

    Each sword was a Noble Phantasm so legendary that Saber never had a chance to find them in the era he lived in… but Saber had no hesitation in replacing his sword with one of them and charging his magical energy into it.

    “Thank you… You’re way too generous to be that Goldie’s friend.”

    Enkidu flew away with a rare expression of awkwardness, unable to tell if Saber was serious or joking.

    After getting back on her feet, Berserker’s eyes saw Enkidu.
    Trapped by her madness and the power of the Command Spell, she extended her right arm to them for no discernable reason.
    The lynchpin of the gods who once killed her.
    A terrifying weapon. A hated enemy.
    But now they turned their back to her.
    As the bright green figure flew beyond the reach of her arm covered in metal, she saw the momentary illusion of a small flower crown… but the tiny fragment of her soul that recognized what that hallucination was instantly drowned into vast hatred and fear.
    They wished greater death and ruin upon the one who brought them death and ruin.
    The simplest law of retribution invited a new brand of madness.
    And when all was consumed by the negative emotions…
    Berserker’s sight was once again covered by a slash of light.

    X       X

    Enkidu leaped as they felt the flash of Saber unleashing his Noble Phantasm behind them.
    Enkidu’s calculation produced serial predictions that Saber’s Noble Phantasm was powerful but not enough to defeat Huwawa.
    They could feel a strong magical energy path between Ishtar and Huwawa, connected through the temple and overshadowing the relationship between Master and Servant.
    Meaning that Huwawa’s Saint Graph won’t shatter unless they steal control of the temple or remove Ishtar’s divinity from the land.
    In a sense, Huwawa now was harder to defeat than she was when they challenged her alongside Gilgamesh.
    (Even so… I was more scared that first time.)
    Strength alone can’t frighten Gilgamesh.
    What’s truly scary about Huwawa is the human madness within her—madness manufactured by the gods—and how this madness doesn’t erase the true human hearts deeper within.
    If Gilgamesh saw Huwawa as she was now—connected to the temple, completely under Ishtar’s control, and with her human hearts concealed by the power of a Command Spell—he wouldn’t bat an eye.
    But it was undeniable that her facet as a lackey of the gods switching to the forefront gave her power beyond the limitations of a Servant.

    That was all the less reason to hesitate.
    They were currently using Saber as a tool to buy time.
    Enkidu interpreted the facts as “a tool using others for its own purposes”.
    This perceived contradiction could form cracks deep within their Saint Graph.
    But the cracks were no reason to stop.
    They were also completely in the dark about whether or not their next plan of action was the right thing to do.
    (Maybe my wish is doomed to never ever come true, no matter how many miracles reunite me with Gil and Huwawa again. Am I doing it to save a friend or am I once again forcing an undesired salvation?)
    Regardless of what the answer is, since they decided to be their own tool, they needed to see their goal to its conclusion.

    ─ You go do what you want!
    Saber’s words returned to them.
    Their Master wished for the same thing.

    “You talk like it’s easy.”

    Their phrasing sounded like a complaint, but their voice delivered bigger hints of joy. Enkidu’s recording circuits reproduced a scene of the past.
    A record of the city of Uruk in an age now lost to time.
    (What was I back then? Did I remain ever the tool of the gods? Did I turn over and become my friend’s tool? Did I offer myself to far more people? …Or did simply live for my own wishes, doing what I wanted to?)
    Now that they were a Heroic Spirit with an objective perspective of their life, Enkidu could find an answer to this question, but they deemed this calculation as pointless.
    The only thing they could do now was to tell the girl what lay beyond the cedar forest and who they became after reaching and resting there.
    For that very purpose, Enkidu needed to once again destroy what Huwawa was staking her life to protect.
    Destroy the laws of one goddess ruining humanity with her blessings and control.
    For that, there’s no line they wouldn’t cross.
    They were willing to break every last bit of their Saint Graph to overcome this momentary fantasy.
    That was what Enkidu established in their settings as “what they want to do”.

    “He said I’m more generous than Gil…”, Enkidu mumbled to themselves, once again remembering Saber’s recent words. “Oh, I get it.”

    The grip of the earth twisted by Ishtar completely stopped the giant harpoon.
    The Divine Weapon landed on top of it and touched the harpoon with their hand, fusing their Saint Graph into the harpoon.
    It was time to cage the beast called “goddess”.

    Maybe Gil became a hoarder because I was too much of a spender.

    The building-sized harpoon regained its brightness…
    and shrugged away the dirt grabbing it by splitting its tip and hilt into 16 parts, spreading above the forest in the form of a fishing net.
    Each of the 16 harpoons was loaded with Enkidu’s magical energy and pushed forward with an intense charge, ripping through the divine air.

    But a dreadful roar echoed through the world, desperate to stop them.

    “─ ─ ─ ─             ─ ─   ─ ─ ─ ─       ─ ─ ─ ─                 ─     ─ ─           ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─     ─           ─ ─         ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─ ─   ─ ─     ─ ─ ─”

    Having noticed the spike in Enkidu’s magical energy, Berserker reached out for Enkidu despite Saber’s Noble Phantasm knocking her on her back.
    She enlarged her left arm, literally ignoring the laws of physics, and tried to crush all the harpoon parts and the countless chains attached to them within her now cedar-sized fingers.
    But…

    Fantastic Recollection
    ”Zabaniya”


    The Noble Phantasm of the Assassin with no name didn’t allow it.
    Berserker unleashed her oversized palm with enough force to obliterate everything with a touch, but the moment she touched the nameless Assassin blocking her way, her giant left hand turned into smoke.
    And Berserker’s hand wasn’t the only thing that did.

    Assassin's own body also vanished into a smoky cloud of morning mist, completely drifting with the wind.

    “─ ─ ─ ─”

    2 seconds later, when Berserker regained awareness of her left arm, it was back in the state it was before she stretched it, and Assassin was on the ground, unharmed but breathing heavily and on her knees.

    This was the amazing feat of a leader named Hassan of the Intoxicated Smoke, considered the best assassin in the history of Hassan-i-Sabbah, discounting the First.
    The assassin specialized in intoxicating his targets with a special smoke, but his true power was to inebriate himself, the opponent, and the world, erasing the borderlines between everything, turning himself into a literal smoke signal that enchants the world. In combat, this gives him the overwhelming power to return any and every enemy attack to zero.
    His last moments had him switching off his technique and offering his life to protect a village, and learning this story was the inciting incident that led the unnamed Assassin to develop her respect for the Old Man of the Mountain lifestyle.
    Not even the assassin with no name was able to perfectly copy his supreme technique. While the real deal could turn himself into mist for seven days and seven nights, she required immense amounts of magical energy to replicate it only for a few seconds.
    Even so, her action clearly changed the battle state. It’s no exaggeration to say that it was a decisive factor.

    Because this short engagement resulted in Enkidu finally capturing the temple with the split parts of the “harpoon” they fired. Snowfield City and its temple were hereby fastened in place by the chains of the Age of Gods.

    X       X


    A few seconds earlier, in the sky above West Snowfield

    "!"

    Sensing the light reaching toward her feet, Ishtar circled around with Maanna.
    After barely dodging the Noble Phantasm slash stretching from the ground, Ishtar looked at the Saber who fired it and furrowed her brow.

    "That Saber… I know his Holy Sword of the Planet is just a sham, but it makes no sense that he can fire his Noble Phantasm this much."

    Saber was endlessly spamming a Noble Phantasm powerful enough to do substantial damage to Huwawa, although nothing fatal. While a goddess boasts ludicrous amounts of magical energy, Saber’s inexhaustible tank got to the point where even she was finding it suspicious.

    "That Ayaka that my vessel found... might be a bigger problem than I imagined…"

    Once she was done talking, Ishtar swung her hammer while dodging further fire.
    Shining light shredded at the surrounding waves of shadow.
    The powerful shockwaves of the seven-headed warhammer Cita could cause critical damage to a human city in a single swing.
    The shadows expanded to enclose Ishtar, encroaching on the light and covering the sky with the darkness of the night.

    But they still couldn’t overshadow the might of the goddess Ishtar.

    "I figured your plan out, Mariner of the Umbrage.", she said while standing on top of Maanna and repelling all the shadows around her with overwhelming divinity. "You merged your whole Saint Graph with the concept of death.!

    The charmed air transformed into a giant invisible arm and blocked the incoming shadows.

    "If we wait until your Saint Graph crumbles, your soul will flow inside me and I’ll be automatically merged with death..."

    With a light swing of the Cita in her right hand, the air shone with sunlight, deleting the pieces of shadow being held back by the air hand.

    "You turn yourself into the Evening Bell, in an attempt to drag your opponent to the underworld with you. Amazing, of all Noble Phantasms in this Holy Grail War, yours gotta be the one I’d have the toughest time dealing with."

    She spoke with a tone of spite, but no signs of mockery.
    She tried to maintain her superior attitude but she already acknowledged that she wouldn’t come out unscathed if his plan came to fruition.

    Not every Sumer god is immortal.
    Ishtar specifically is a goddess with a long history with the underworld, having experienced death many times.
    The most famous of these cases is Ishtar’s Descent to the Underworld.
    A commonly spread myth tells that Isthar and her sister Ereshkigal were goddesses who governed opposite but inseparable concepts, one with the skies and the other with the underworld; and when Ishtar invaded the underworld to antagonize Ereshkigal, she was killed by her sister.
    Thus, her manifestation necessarily also adds Ereshkigal’s attributes to that era, and Ishtar becomes unable to disregard her own death.
    Had she manifested as a complete god… or if she had seen her project of rewriting the planet’s surface layer to its completion and then elevated herself to a level where she was sufficiently prepared for the inevitable appearance of Gaia’s Counter Force, she would even be able to employ the tales of her experiences reviving from the underworld to negate a limited number of deaths. Although the idea this would be helpful in resisting against Gaia’s Counter Force is questionable at best.

    Regardless, she was still just a divine emanation inhabiting the Lesser Grail. She could replicate the Authorities, but she wasn’t immortal.
    If she was in a state that lacked the concept of death, solving the situation would have required the power of the guardian of the ravine, the first one of the Old Men of the Mountain.
    Ishtar knew she was still quite a ways from this level. Her Authority could put the maximum possible distance between herself and all this death, but the very concept of death flowing into her was not something she could shrug off.

    "I won’t ask for your motive. I missed my chance for that. Blessed be your human resolve."

    Ishtar solemnly scowled at all the shadows with dignified poise.
    She raised her hammer high, sending a message to every shadow on the planet, not only the ones enclosing her.
    Her voice spread through the world’s texture.

    "The bravery of the brutes drawing their bows against a goddess will be remembered through the scar it will leave on the planet."

    The area’s divinity focused on a single point, spreading the message to the numerous shadows extending around it.

    "Through my body and name, I’ll make you learn the meaning of my designation of this land as the second Ebih."

    Long ago, the goddess Ishtar destroyed Mt. Ebih and vanquished its divinity.
    She built her temple on top of it and rewrote the land into her possession…
    And in the present, she tries to do it once more.

    The "world" compressed by Ishtar’s charm was being concentrated into a single droplet of sky.
    At that moment, the droplet was the only blue sky there was.
    That goes to show how much of the Earth’s air was gathering at the goddess’ Cita.
    While all the thunderclouds gathered at the Bull of Heaven west of them, the brightness of the azure sky came to Ishtar, bending to her will.
    The Mistress of the Heavens shone her glow at the planet’s surface, needing to express that she was currently the only god of this world.

    "If the ‘shadows’ of this land reject me…"

    She dropped the spark of light created in the form of a momentary Venus. She would cleanse the whole land of Snowfield so her purifying light would dispel the shadows of the underworld clad in death.

    "then I gotta crush you to dust, like I did with Ebih’s summit!"

    A purging attack aiming to destroy the entire area, except the temple.
    Haruri’s Berserker would inevitably become collateral damage. Did she simply forget she was there or was she intending to play it off as a hopeless consequence of them walking away from the protective blessings of the temple? No one knows what was going on in the mind of the goddess…

    Goddess Ishtar decided that the land of Snowfield would be erased from the map before the masterminds had the opportunity to do it through their Operation Aurora Fall.

    "Jabal Hamrin…"

    The radiance of the skies was about to drop to the ground, announcing the time of judgment.
    But the shadows had no fear.
    Nor haste.
    Hassan of the Fathomless Rift didn’t create these shadows to buy time or distract her.
    That was not what they were, at least until that moment.

    But at that moment—the shadows concealed the surface from her Divine Eyes, causing her to miss the most important moment.
    The moment when Enkidu pierced the harpoon into the temple, connecting the forest’s Age of Gods atmosphere to the top floor of the tallest building in the city.

    X       X

    Top floor of the Neo Ishtar Temple

    A few moments earlier, Ishtar began to gather light to create a Venus in the sky.

    Rider and her pair of Masters sensed this enormous surge of energy and showed up on the top floor of the temple.
    They could surmise that Ishtar was somewhere far higher than this floating temple, but the assembling shadows in the sky served as the perfect parasol, preventing them from visualizing the actual goddess.
    But the three could sense the concentration of magical energy on the other side of the shadows, and it felt like the entire sky was being distorted.
    They understood a conclusion was nigh.

    "That’s bad. That magical energy can blow out this whole area!", said Rider, manifesting her horse. "It will be hard to intercept it, but I shall do what I can! Masters! Full swing to defense! There’s no time to retreat without teleport magecraft!"

    Rider’s yell to the sky was telepathically transmitted to all of her Masters in the forest area—the associates of the El-Melloi Classroom.
    The telepathic message was answered by Werner Ceasermund, the representative of their will.

    --You don’t need to say another word. We don’t have the best prospects on our end, but we’ll have to deal with it. Rider, you do as you see fit.--

    "...Are you sure?"

    Rider questioned the casualness of Werner’s response, but he explained his will with some awkward laughter.

    --Yes. I have just finished my most honorable "task".--

    "?"

    --Believe it or not, this is a moment where it’s more efficient for everyone to act on their own accord. Besides…--

    The telepathy got gradually more unstable, suggesting Werner had already begun to work his magecraft.
    But Werner made sure to close out his message with a meaningful thought filled with a mix of trust and resignation.

    --The ones with you right now are the two most incontrollable of us.--

    Set
    "Anfang."

    Hippolyte turned to see Rin after she began her chant.
    She refined her magical energy as she deployed gems around herself.

    Mind the Seraphic Heavens──This is the ward of the Circular Flower
    "Brennender Himmel──Ich kenne den Kreis, Die Blumen beschützen mich, Der"
    ...

    From the words of the chant, Luvia figured out what Rin was doing and went to take a gem to deploy her own spell… until she interrupted her action to shoot a Gandr at a target behind her.
    The curse bullet traveled at high speeds.
    But it was blocked by a Boundary.
    The Gandr capable of shattering concrete crashed and dispersed against a barrier formed by lapis lazuli bees in a triangle formation.

    "I won’t let you… defile this temple any further!"

    The Ishtar priestess and Master of Berserker surrounded the trio with a swarm of lapis lazuli bees.
    Luvia readied herself to end the spell by eliminating its practitioner, while Rider readied herself to activate her Noble Phantasm to defend Rin.
    But before they could, Rin’s chant was reaching its completion.

    And before she could, Enkidu’s harpoon reached the temple.

    In the name of Ajax
    "Aias der Tera
    … Huh?!"

    When she would recite the last verse, a "world" flowed into Rin’s body.

    It felt like there was an eternity between every moment.
    Enough power to drive anyone insane was forced upon Rin’s body, but that inner power began to circulate with kind intent to safeguard her, causing no damage to her body or soul.
    At that moment–Rin was living an awakened dream.

    The azure and the night sky are two sides of the same coin. One flips into the other seamlessly. The transformed environment resembled the deep underground. The scenery was turned inside out, changing the distant shadows in the background above into a warm pale-blue light.

    "HUH? Wait, what?!"

    At the same time, her body and the magecraft stored in the gems around her began to be forcibly restructured.
    Normally she would be making futile attempts to resist… but strangely enough, Rin found herself accepting this mechanism despite her confusion.
    Her reason for it was that, while it was the first time this force had been unleashing her magical energy, it circulated her power with the graceful flow of someone who knew what they were doing.
    This practically told her that whoever was controlling her body and Magic Circuits had done so regularly in the past… or in the future.
    But there was one more reason for her lack of resistance.
    Despite having the control of her Circuits stolen, Rin, in her magecraft genius, figured out at first glance that the spell this force was about to fire would be a far more powerful blow than the shield she was trying to make.

    And so–the magecraft was released.

    Luvia, Rider, and the priestess controlling the bees witnessed the moment.
    For a few seconds, Toosaka Rin’s hair turned gold and her two eyes shone bright scarlet.
    But what truly caught their attention was the spell fired.
    From Rin’s chant, Luvia knew that she was going to produce the all-blocking shield of Ajax, unfolded in seven giant petals.
    But the only thing this had in common with that were the seven giant petals. The petals here had the color of darkened earth and rose to the skies surrounded by a circle of pale blue flames.
    They looked less like petals and more like…
    one land trying to suppress the skies.

    X       X

    The skies above

    "Jabal Hamrin Breaker!"

    Ishtar’s finished chanting the name of her divine judgment…

    The simulation of Venus’s radiance turned into raw energy and began its descent to deliver destruction and demise.
    But that’s when it happened.
    The shadows before her eyes dispersed all at once.


    "?"

    To be more accurate, they only seemed to have dispersed. In reality, they were incorporated into the world rising from below.
    Within the incoming pieces of land in the form of giant petals.

    "Wha…"

    The first expression of strong confusion she made since she possessed Fillia.
    But Ishtar’s Divine Eyes immediately deciphered what happened. She squinted as she understood everything.

    "So that’s what they were going for… Well played… Piece of junk."

    For a long time, she has been feeling the presence of the underworld.
    She could tell one of the Servants in the city governed it.
    However, due to the limits of a Servant’s power and the lack of overlap with the underworld with which she has history, she took it lightly, assuming it wasn’t enough to bring her death by mythological association.
    But in a matter of seconds, the table has turned.

    There was a link to the underworld in the city: the building with Gilgamesh’s corpse in it. And that was chained to this divine domain from Mesopotamia by the Chain of Heaven created by a deity of the same era.
    The manifestation of the god vestige upon this world enabled the spawning of another god that is on the other side of the same coin.
    Even so, she was confident that the other goddess wouldn’t manifest for as long as she kept complete control over the Fillia vessel.
    But here is where this premise is proven false.

    "The black-haired mage…I get what was my problem with her now. She’s been with the doom-and-gloom goddess in some other timeline…!", she blared with disgust as she switched targets to the underworld approaching from below and slammed it with the power that once crushed Mt. Ebih.

    The skies and the underworld clashed.
    The world was filled with light and shadow, spreading shockwaves through the air above Snowfield.
    Light and dark race through the air. The scenery seen from the top floor of the temple looked like the end of the world.

    "Still, this is not the underworld! It’s my domain, Ereshkigal!"

    After Ishtar screamed the name of her opposite goddess, she wielded her Authority to shove the rising underworld into submission.
    She concentrated even more magical energy from the planet’s sky, producing the light of someone who clearly would steal the whole world’s sky if she could.

    "If you think I’ll let your Authority pass through the azure sky, you’re…"

    Before she finished her sentence, Ishtar flicked her head to the side.
    Something was coming in her direction.
    Something made to kill gods like her.
    But it was already too late by the time she noticed it.
    Something was flying from the ground to the east, too fast for her to dodge.
    She didn’t have the spare time to maneuver Maanna, and one wrong move would get her crushed in the clutches of the underworld below her.
    Even so, Ishtar chose to invest all of her divinity into blocking the something.
    She pointed her left hand, the one not holding Cita, eastward and activated her Authority at full force to stop the something.

    But the something kept advancing in a straight line, crossing faster than sound through the generated shockwaves of light and darkness, crumbling every Authority along its path.

    It was one arrow.

    A simply-shaped piece of iron, contrary to the demonic arrows the avenger was firing a while ago.
    But Ishtar’s Divine Eye could see it:
    This tiny arrow was brewed with concepts meant to shoot the goddess Ishtar down from the sky.
    In fact, she could say this arrow was created specifically to remove a god from the skies.

    (Why does this exist? I never heard of anything like it. There was nothing like that in the age of Uruk…)

    Powerful confusion took over the goddess before she had any chance to feel fear or anger. Unable to think straight, she staked her life and blood in her attempt to destroy the arrow.

    But it was all too late… The arrow silently made contact with the goddess’ left arm.

    After piercing her left palm, the arrow continued flying, ripping off the left arm of the vessel in the process of becoming divine flesh, and later running out of momentum and heading toward the ground.

    She managed to dodge her vital organs out of the arrow’s trajectory, but it didn’t matter.

    "..."

    The shadow of the underworld fused with her shredded arm, injecting a shadow in the form of a Garula soul—the concept of death—into her.
    Ishtar knew that her soul had fused with death and that she was being dragged to the underworld below her, but she still made a point to talk to the flock of shadows.

    "Assassin… How much of this did you predict, Mariner of the Umbrage?"

    The shadows were gradually losing shape and she couldn’t feel anything resembling an ego in them.
    (He reached the point where he can’t fight anymore. Not that it ever mattered. Winning or losing, his soul fused with death would flow into the Lesser Grail vessel in me.)
    Her Authority could hold back the flow of death from entering… but since those Authority defenses were pierced by the arrow, she was out of tricks to avert it.

    "I know I’m not a God as far as you’re concerned… but be proud."

    After a smile full of bravado, Ishtar’s body began to fall from the sky.

    "You certainly… made the azure sky hear the toll of the bell."

    Lying down on the falling temple, the goddess turned her Divine Eyes east and searched for one more shadow.
    And at last, she found it.


    The figure of the one who shot the arrow that obliterated her Authority and shot down a god.

    He was kneeling on the police station’s rooftop, pointing a greatbow at her.
    A mercenary spellcaster with his youth still left on his face.
    Last edited by Comun; December 18th, 2023 at 10:33 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    Some pantheons are depicted as Tamamo, while others are only potentially Tamamo.

  5. #12685
    Only bridge is left? Let's goooo

  6. #12686
    祖 Ancestor Vididii's Avatar
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    My Sigmyrmidons, we are so back

    (Also, thanks for the TL boss!)

  7. #12687
    Cats are awesome RCM9698's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your work on the translation, Comun!

  8. #12688
    Thank you once again Comun for this awesome translation! Ishtar's time in the spotlight has finally come to an end, but boy did she make a bang! Narita has possible made one of the boss instances of a group of characters taking down a god in FATE imo. And the best example of a god using their authority to appear godly not in the sense of "This attack will instantly kill you" type deal. I love the fact that this was made possible through the perfect combination of characters and servants here, and some it is Ishtar's own fault, considering she can't even manifest unless Enkidu and Gil are summoned which allowed them to manifest Eresh through a roundabout manner. This was so cool and makes me hyped to see what Narita has in store for us now. This probably was the climax of Strange Fake, and it certainly didn't disappoint!

  9. #12689
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Hawkeye's Avatar
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    Killing Ishtar is like some Mousetrap style Rube Goldberg machine. Assassin merges with Death, that should do it, but no, he does that to use the shadows, to cover for Enkidu who uses the chain to link the temple to dead Gil to invoke Eresh to fight with Ishtar, just to stall while Sigma fires that arrow that severs the arm that lands in Assassin and finally inflicts Ishtar with dead.
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  10. #12690
    Cats are awesome RCM9698's Avatar
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    I don't think you can say this was the "climax" with at least two volumes left. It is most probably just the first in a series of final battles. Something to look forward to.

  11. #12691
    Waiting for the bridge to get translated before I read the novel, but other than Ishtar getting jumped, did anyone else die? Feels like there haven't been enough servant/masters dying.

  12. #12692
    The Long-Forgotten Sight Rafflesiac's Avatar
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    True Assassin is deadzo.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arashi_Leonhart View Post
    canon finish apo vol 3

  13. #12693
    祖 Ancestor Vididii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingChristianX View Post
    Waiting for the bridge to get translated before I read the novel, but other than Ishtar getting jumped, did anyone else die? Feels like there haven't been enough servant/masters dying.
    As Rafflesiac said, just True Assassin. Prepare for a swift torrent of casualties- Narita’s the kinda guy to organize his M&M’s by color before eating them, hence the 7 volumes preceding this one.

  14. #12694
    How did True Assassin die?

  15. #12695
    アルテミット・ワン Ultimate One asterism42's Avatar
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    Used his Saint Graph to supercharge his Noble Phantasm
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandstorm77 View Post
    He's just putting the bone of his sword into other people until it explodes and lets out parts of him inside them.
    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerEmiya View Post
    Genderswaps are terrible, but I think I and other people would hate them less if Fate didn't keep ignoring actual heroines throughout history and folklore. Like, why bother turning Francis Drake into a woman when Ching Shih and Grace O'Malley exist?
    Quote Originally Posted by Five_X View Post
    Fate Zero is just Fate Stay Night for people who think Shirou is too girly

  16. #12696
    Alright, having read the chapter, I just have one massive question: What the hell is the Godfelling Crossbow?

    I mean, it's called a crossbow, but in both the story and the illustration, it's obviously a longbow. So, which is it?

    And just... where the hell did Qin Shi Huang get that shit? An arrow shot from it could easily just zoom through a clash between the Heavens and the Underworld while piercing through Authorities. And that was from it being shot by a human. This thing is packing some legit power.
    Honestly, unless Narita just pulled this Godfelling Bow out of his ass, the only thing from Chinese mythology I can think of that can really match it would be the Yellow Emperor's Universe Bow, which he used to kill God of War Chiyou.

  17. #12697
    世はまさにパンテオン Comun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingChristianX View Post
    How did True Assassin die?
    He intentionally let Ishtar blast him because his NP only goes online when he takes fatal damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by AceSockVims View Post
    I mean, it's called a crossbow, but in both the story and the illustration, it's obviously a longbow. So, which is it?
    弩弓 can be either. This one was impossible to know until there was a picture of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by AceSockVims View Post
    Honestly, unless Narita just pulled this Godfelling Bow out of his ass, the only thing from Chinese mythology I can think of that can really match it would be the Yellow Emperor's Universe Bow, which he used to kill God of War Chiyou.
    I won't go into too much detail on why the bow can do what it did because the next story section is a whole infodump on exactly that.

    But Qin Shi Huang's bow is not a TM invention, there's an actual tale about it. The story is that Shi Huang commanded Xu Fu to cross to Japan and search of immortality there, but the ocean didn't let Xu Fu's ship pass. Shi Huang then dreamed that he killed a sea god with a bow, and on the next morning, a huge fish was found dead at the shore and Xu Fu's crew managed to sail safely.

    But the TM version of this, both in FsF and in Xu Fu's FGO content, completely omit the part about Shi Huang dreaming the battle. Xu Fu's comments in FGO, Jiao's comments in volume 6, and the upcoming infodump all read like Qin actually shot the god dead in real life. Which is shame imo. Giving Shi Huang the power to dream events into existence would be cooler than this generic "can kill gods just because" treatment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dullahan View Post
    Some pantheons are depicted as Tamamo, while others are only potentially Tamamo.

  18. #12698
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Kirishima's Avatar
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    L + Ratio + I dreamed of your felling by my hands

  19. #12699
    Sorry for all of the questions, but I have one more. Is Gugulanna still alive? I'd assume it would wither away without Ishtar.

  20. #12700
    The Long-Forgotten Sight Rafflesiac's Avatar
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    Alk shot its ass dead
    Quote Originally Posted by Arashi_Leonhart View Post
    canon finish apo vol 3

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