Chapter 9 Second Night
Ginevra couldn't believe what she was seeing, Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, fighting against Aldebaran, but that wasn't the most surprising thing to her. It was the fact that the butler fought on par with him, rapidly dodging the barrage of Noble Phantasms being shot in his direction.
"Come on golden boy, get serious," Aldebaran said with a smirk.
"Mongrel, this is enough," said Gilgamesh as countless of portals appeared around Aldebaran.
The weapons were shot while the butler just smiled a smile which Gilgamesh found disgusting. He turned away knowing the butler would die in a few seconds, and his death was unworthy of an audience. He took one step and heard an explosion, not thinking it weird that he didn't scream with the assumption his demise came so fast he had no time to feel pain. In the eyes of the golden Servant, this was a privilege he didn't deserve, but it couldn't be helped.
As he began to walk off, he failed to notice one of his treasures flying from the cloud of smoke created by his last attack until it cut his right cheek. The king stopped but didn't turn.
"Running away? We have just begun," Aldebaran said enthusiastically, grinning.
His smile faded the moment he felt anger emanating from the golden Servant, who slowly turned to face him.
"You not only dare lay a hand on my treasures, but you dare make me shed blood?" Hearing his voice, Aldebaran knew he was serious. "A thousand deaths are not enough to make you pay for what you have done!"
"You don't learn, do you?" Aldebaran sighed.
Before Gilgamesh could do anything, the butler disappeared. He began to look in all directions trying to find him. Eventually he looked up and saw Aldebaran in the air directly over him, and in less than a second he descended with his fist out and aimed at his face. Still, the rest of that second provided enough time for the King of Heroes to react, and the butler's attack was stopped by a pair of silver and golden swords. Something felt wrong. Even taking into account the force of the dive, the blow was too heavy.
"What?" exclaimed the king when the ground under him started cracking.
Aldebaran continued to put more strength into his fist, trying to break the two blades. In the end, he only managed to push Gilgamesh back a little. That alone was a great feat, as over many centuries there had been none who successfully pulled it off.
The reason the butler managed to do this was because of his ability. Gravity could be used in many ways such as reducing the gravity on himself in order to move faster and even enabling him to stand in the air or increase it, making his attacks greater and stronger.
"You know something, King of Heroes, you won't beat me if you continue to underestimate my power," he said as he began to take off his tailcoat. "And I need you to entertain me a bit."
"I see." The golden Servant didn't seem angry, which make the butler tense a little." I will definitely enjoy your screams as I cut you limb from limb and rip out your beating heart."
Aldebaran was surprised. He couldn't detect any trace of that past anger, as if the feelings of the Servant betrayed his words. Then he understood the reason for the lack of hate and rage. Gilgamesh had turned serious for the first time since the battle with his only friend. He had decided to destroy the being in front of him with everything he had, his concentration so great that in his mind there was no room for emotion. The only thing he sought was Aldebaran's permanent end.
"Let's continue, mongrel," he finished with a smile.
She had been in a lot of fights, none of which were easy, each of them demanding pain and sacrifice for her to emerge victorious, yet this was the second time she ever felt her own blade become so dull and heavy. Gawain's words weren't wrong. It made complete sense, as they were both Servants, their fate being to fight, but it was painful.
The pain didn't come from the fight himself, but from seeing the eyes of her knight, which looked frighteningly dead. With each clash of their swords, she remembered how the people of her kingdom used to compare him to the sun. The reason for that was because his eyes were always filled with warmth and life, but now that was just a memory.
The sister swords clashed once again. This time, Saber of Blue was pushed back.
"You are disappointing me, Arturia."
Gawain leapt at her with his blade raised and trained on her neck. Saber blocked it with her invisible sword, even then being sent flying toward a tree. The strength of the attack was such that on impact she coughed up blood.
"Saber!" Shirou shouted in concern as he ran toward her, just for Leo to stand in his way.
"Don't bother them," he said simply as he pulled on a pair of black gloves.
"Shut up! You forced him to fight her, didn't you!?"
Leo shook his head, surprising Shirou.
"Just like her, Gawain felt her presence nearby and decided to lure her in. Until just a moment ago, I didn't know she was his former king. All of this was his choice alone."
"His… choice…? Don't joke around!" Shirou yelled as he traced his twin blades. "I can feel he doesn't want to do this!"
He rushed at Leo and swung both his blades at high speed, but in Leo's eyes, Shirou seemed to move in slow motion. After all, his body had been modified until reaching its utmost limits, allowing him to survive in that horrible future. Even if his form resembled one, Leo was no longer fully human. He reached out his right hand and grabbed the blade coming at him. He inspected it for a second before breaking it.
Shirou was shocked. The blond had easily stopped his sword and snapped it in two like it was nothing. He didn't even have time to ask, "What?" In the next second, Leo's fist was already hurtling at him. He used his black sword to stop the punch, but it, like the white one, broke easily. But because the blade managed to absorb a great amount of the impact, Shirou only skidded back a couple of feet.
"Not bad." Leo smirked as he ran at the red-haired magus.
Saber wasn't doing any better. She stopped using Invisible Air, opting to parry the silver knight's attacks with Excalibur itself.
"Gawain, something is wrong with you," she said to her old friend, trying to understand the reason for his change.
In that very moment, all of them saw a large green tree surrounded by a purple and black mist rise up in the middle of the city.
"So Dan activated it already," Leo said as he stopped mid-dash.
"Gawain. What is that?" Saber asked.
"That, Arturia, is the Noble Phantasm of the Archer of my faction," he answered as he too paused and looked at the tree.
Truth be told, Gawain was an honorable man who liked to face his opponents head-on, but he was also a soldier. He knew how cruel a war could be and was willing to do whatever was necessary for his king to emerge victorious. That had been the path he followed all his life. He didn't have any aspirations, for he enjoyed just being there supporting his king. He believed the king to be perfect. A king could never be wrong. A king didn't need any emotions.
He rushed at Saber before she could speak again, and instead of using his sword, he kicked her in the stomach before grabbing her hair and flinging her to the other side of the park. By the time she got up, Gawain was already upon her. In less than a second he would cut her down. Then suddenly he stopped and jumped backward to avoid the eight arrows fired at him.
The silver knight turned to see a man clad in red with a young girl at his side.
"Emiya-kun! Saber!" Rin cried the moment she realized they were almost defeated.
Shirou looked over. "Tohsaka, do you know what that tree is doing there?!"
She shook her head. In the meantime, Archer reinforced his eyes and looked at the purple smoke that was slowly seeping from the tree.
"It's emitting poison," he said, clenching his fists. "Rin, we need to get rid of that. I don't know the range, but having a Servant capable of doing this is dangerous."
"But…" She was concerned about the other pair.
Shirou stood up. "Don't worry Tohsaka, leave this to us."
"Interesting. Then please come at me, Master of Saber," Leo taunted with a smile.
"I won't let you go!" Gawain roared as he ran at Archer.
Archer just smirked.
"Sorry, I learned to never stand in her way."
Gawain didn't pay attention to his words until a golden sword stopped his blade.
He looked at Arturia, and he realized her gaze had changed. All the weakness and doubt from before was gone. She seemed once again like the perfect king he used to serve. He was thrown back with ease.
"It seems that you have gone astray. Not only as your former king, but as your uncle, I think I need to fix that."
"It seems you are finally going to fight seriously, Arturia," the knight said, getting up.
Archer looked at her for a second before grabbing Rin and going after the tree.
In another part of the city, both Atosaki and Edward witnessed the tree's emergence. When they saw the purple smoke, neither one of them could shake the bad feeling coming from it. Atosaki drew with her index finger the letter C with two straight lines, activating then Kenaz rune, allowing her to strengthen her sight and look clearly at the tree. The moment she glimpsed the purple smoke up close, she felt an ominous aura of death.
"What is that?"
"Not sure, but we can't let it be there," Edward said as his eyes turned crimson. "Let's go, Atosaki-san."
She nodded. While they were so focused on the tree, they didn't notice that Pleiades was looking at them from afar. Behind her was a gladiator trapped by pillars of light with an expression full of anger, trying to break out.
Pleiades looked at him and smiled.
"Have fun, Berserker," she said as she disappeared, taking the pillar of lights with her.
Once free, the gladiator roared and jumped toward his target: the Oppressor. Before they could even take a step, Edward stopped and let Saber down on roof of the building.
"Atosaki-san, go ahead. We'll catch up to you later."
"Edward-san?" She didn't understand until she saw Lance tense up and Saber ready her sword.
"Black Seal, 30 % unleashed!"
The very moment his left arm turned into a bright red claw, a gladiator wearing silver armor appeared out of nowhere and with his sword, a gladius, attacked Saber, who barely managed to block the blow.
Edward jumped and created a gigantic spectral arm to punch the Servant in the face, but the Servant didn't move. Seeing this while in mid-air, he turned to Atosaki.
"Just go and destroy the tree! We'll meet you after beating this guy."
Atosaki didn't want to leave. The Servant seemed strong, but she also knew that the tree was dangerous, so she decided to believe in them.
"Please don't die!" she called as Lance picked her up and together they headed off.
Much to her surprise, Berserker didn't care and let them get away. It was as if he went after Edward specifically. But he had attacked Saber first, and then Atosaki realized that she was his real target.
Saber leapt back and landed next to her Master.
"How dare you to attack an emperor!"
The smile Berserker gave them made them shiver.
"Destroy the Oppressor," he stated.
At that phrase, Saber froze. She looked at him carefully and began to have an idea of his true identity.
"Why… from all the enemies of Rome… why did it have to be you?!" She tightened her grip on the hilt of her sword. "Do not dare call me that in front of my Praetor!"
"Saber!" He tried to stop her, but it was useless.
The red swordswoman jumped at him, her entire being full of rage. The gladiator didn't move. She swung her blade and it sank into his left shoulder. But his expression didn't change, that creepy smile remained unfazed. Saber tried to take out her sword but he had it lodged in his muscles. The next thing she saw was his fist.
She felt pain explode on the right side on her face. She felt herself crash into the ground. She expected another hit, but it never came. Instead, she heard Edward's voice.
Her head was still down and she couldn't see the massive arm and blade wrapped in crimson flames flying at Berserker. Still, the attack didn't do anything to the gladiator since he stopped it with his forearms. It wasn't the same for the roof. Because of the blow, it crumbled and the gladiator crashed into the streets, all the while keeping that same smile.
Edward knew that he would recover in a matter of seconds. He ran to Saber and made sure she was alright. He inspected her cheek, seeing that there was no blood; it was just a rough strike.
"You alright, Nero?" As they were alone, he called her by her real name.
She slowly stood up and looked at him.
"Yes, I am alright."
"Don't be too eager, it doesn't suit you," he said, walking past her to watch the gladiator stand up. "You fight in a graceful form. Going blind with rage isn't something you should do."
Saber looked at his back with eyes wide.
She felt a hand on her head.
"I already told you, I don't care about your reputation." Edward turned with a smile. "Nero is Nero, there is nothing else."
Before she could answer, a roar broke the moment and the gladiator jumped towards them. Edward created another spectral arm and used it to catapult Saber at him. The gladiator seemed eager to face her, but as a Berserker he didn't notice she had been thrown a little to the left. Before he could react, she cut his right side as she passed by.
Seeing his prey escaping, he turned in midair trying to follow her, not noticing the young man with a crimson arm wrapped in flames. He punched the gladiator on the back of his neck, and that very moment the flames began to wrap around the Servant, and he was engulfed by an explosion that resembled a large ball of fire.
Edward landed next to Saber.
"Blazing Nova," he said as he saw the Servant fall to the ground. "Any chance that was enough to beat him?"
"I want this to be easy, so who is it?"
"I'm not sure, but I guess that he is Spartacus the Thracian, who made a revolution with the slaves."
"No wonder he hates you," Edward said in all seriousness as flames began to surround them.
The Servant stood and leered, keeping that horrible smile, ignoring the burnt skin peeling off as he began to move. Pain didn't seem to mean anything to him. He ran toward the pair.
Atosaki was a little closer to the tree but couldn't shake her worry. She looked up at Lance.
"Do you think they're going to be okay?"
Lance stopped for a second, as if searching for a way to answer her that would be both truthful and reassuring. The fact that he couldn't talk didn't help at all, so he just held her closer. To anyone else it wouldn't make any sense, but she knew him and understood the meaning behind his every action.
"Thanks, Lance. You're right."
At the same time, Breno continued his match with Kayneth. It might be expected for him to lose, as there were few people able to survive an attack with Volumen Hydrargyrum, but the young man had not only managed to dodge it, but even made Kayneth go on the defensive. It was a strange outcome in terms of pure magical talent. Breno was weaker by far, and his magic didn't seem able to overcome Volumen Hydrargyrum, but the fact remained that he was doing it.
There were two reasons for this, the first obviously that Kayneth had lost his cool, making his control over his Mystic Code sloppy and predictable. Still, the speed and strength of the Mystic Code made up for what he lacked, but then there was the second reason.
Breno's magic was different from Edward's. While the latter controlled his flames at will as if they were part of him, with no logical explanation behind this, the Da Roche family had developed a style that used magical barriers on the former's limbs to manipulate fire.
"Fervor mio sanguis!" Kayneth yelled, not understanding why he couldn't kill him.
Many tentacles came from the silver sphere and hurtled toward Breno, ready to rip him apart. Breno would normally use barriers and Bounded Fields around his limbs, but since his flames wouldn't hurt him, he could also surround himself with them. He wasn't a specialist, so his barriers didn't have enough strength to stop Kayneth's attacks but that was fine. That wasn't their purpose. The barriers were to slow down the tentacles, giving Breno the opportunity to dodge them using his flames as rockets to move faster.
Normally a genius like Kayneth would figure this out because of the delay of the attack, but he was so frustrated that he didn't care.
Breno dodged again and shot a torrent of flames at Kayneth, who blocked it with the sphere of mercury. As Breno continued to look at him, he couldn't help wondering if he had been the same in his world and if it got him killed, letting his emotions get the best of him, losing sight of his enemy and attacking like an idiot.
He dashed at the blond magus and when he put up his defenses, he punched with his arm wrapped in flames. To Kayneth that was an act of stupidity. Volumen Hydrargyrum had a great resistance to magic fire. No matter how much power Breno put in, it was useless, and in the next moment Kayneth would kill him.
But the attack went through and Kayneth fell back. He saw the hole in his shield and felt the pain of a burn on his chest.
"That's why I told you that you were weak. I only needed 500 °C to pass thought that sphere of mercury."
"Why you!" Kayneth yelled, unable to grasp the situation.
It was rather simple. Breno simply changed his flames. Instead of using magic fire, he used magic to create a chemical reaction between oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Using the very air he created real flames, and then he only needed to adjust the temperature. Mercury would burn at 230 degrees Celsius. Even with all of Kayneth's modifications, it still maintained its physical characteristics, and that was what made it such a deadly weapon, though he only thought of it as protection against other Mystic Codes. That reinforcement made it able to withstand modern weaponry, but he never expected someone to attack its chemical composition.
Breno jumped back, dodging another attack, or so he thought. The tip of the metal whip had managed to cut him in the chest. Using his rage as fuel, Kayneth made it move faster to the point that the barriers couldn't even slow down the attacks.
"How dare you hurt me, trash! I shall make you pay!"
"I hope I wasn't as pathetic as him when I lost myself."
Suddenly a purple smoke began to fill the area, and the moment Breno breathed he began to feel sick and even coughed up some red specks.
The Servants fighting above them noticed almost instantly.
"Poison, such a cowardly act," the green spearman said.
"If a mere peon is trying to poison a king, he doesn't know his place," Rider said, stopping for a second before attacking Lancer of Zero once again with his Khopesh blade.
"This smoke is poisonous, so shouldn't we help our Masters?" the green spearman asked as he blocked his attack.
"Stupid peon, I don't have a master. That human is nothing but a slave at my service."
The two Servants clashed in the middle of the sky before each landed on the tops of two opposing buildings.
"Also, he is not so weak that he would die that easily," the Pharaoh declared with a smirk.
Kage arrived at the towering tree without yet being affected by the poison thanks to the gas mask he always carried with him. The mask couldn't fully protect him from the poison due to it being part of a Noble Phantasm, but it gave him more time. He still inhaled the poison but in lesser amounts, so its effects were delayed.
A man with black hair and a beard wearing dark French noble garments appeared at his side.
"He is close, Assassin."
The Servant took a couple of pistols from his belt.
"Yes, they are exactly next to us."
A green arrow came at him, broken by a tangible shadow which rose from the ground.
"I found the Servant."
"Eliminate target," Kage replied.
Assassin nodded before vanishing.
Archer of White was a few buildings away, surprised by the fact that Assassin managed to block his arrow, even more so when he saw him disappear. Still, he needed to move, but before he could, the sound of an old musket being fired rang out.
He moved, trying to dodge the screaming bullet, but it hit him in the right shoulder. He endured the pain and turned to shoot an arrow at the black-outfitted Servant, cutting the right side of his face.
"You missed," Assassin said.
"You think so? Archer smirked.
The Servant felt a strange pain coming from his cheek.
"Poison?" he asked, getting only a grin from the bowman as an answer.
In that moment the two disappeared. Even while being a standard Archer, his real identity was Robin Hood. This wouldn't be a direct confrontation, but a fight between snipers, so to speak.
Kage had begun to move the moment Assassin disappeared. All went according to his order, the elimination of target. Nothing else mattered. He wasn't driven by a need to save others, and even when he didn't wish the death of innocents, all he knew was that he saw an enemy threat and needed to get rid of it in order to survive. Saving the people of that area would be a bonus.
The fastest way would be to cross out the Master. He didn't care about how that girl from his faction didn't like killing, since simply put, it made things easier. He felt someone watching him, so he was most likely in the aim of the enemy Master. He stopped, needing to know their location, and there was no better way of finding out than letting the enemy take a shot at him. He acted like he was confused by looking around, believing Dan Blackmore would be in a nearby building, but when he heard the sound of a rifle coming from the tree, he was surprised.
But that wasn't all, the bullet was faster than any other he had seen or used before. It was a fact that he would die if he didn't do something fast.
"Time Alter." That said, the world around him seemed to stop, including the bullet hurtling at him. "Double Accel."
He only accelerated a couple of seconds forward, but it was enough to dodge the bullet and get to the trunk of the poisonous tree. He never expected the bullet to open a hole in the roof where he'd been standing. His expression changed for a second before turning blank again, and he started to climb.
Ginevra had turned her attention toward the other fights happening all over the city. After getting over her shock, she reassured herself that the King of Heroes wouldn't lose, so she didn't need to worry. She turned her attention to the others.
When she observed the battles of her faction, she found it useless to keep from smiling.
"These Masters are more than I expected," she said, a little excited. "Someone with the abilities of the Magus Killer, a girl using the lost art of runes, a young man wielding the flames of purgatory and another using barriers to control fire. I can't help but want to see what the other two can do."
She then turned to the fight between knights.
"Interesting, I never thought that such a large-scale war between magi could even be possible." A voice surprised her.
"Kirsche, I though you said you were going to sleep." She said while offering her a cookie
"There are too many noisy worms outside." She said as she took it.
"It can't be helped, for now let's enjoy the show."
"Let's do that."