Gods and Humans
Chapter 11 : Gods and Humans
Archer of Red couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing. The battle before her went beyond anything she had ever seen. At the beginning, she expected Aldebaran to defeat the King of Heroes, as Pleiades said that it should be easy taking advantage of him never fighting seriously.
But they didn't take into account the hate the golden Servant felt toward the Counter Guardians and the gods.
The two fighters slowly destroyed each other without mercy. Gilgamesh's golden armor was now nothing but scrap metal. He had fist-shaped imprints on his skin and blood dripping from his mouth. Normally he would be complaining about a mere mongrel pushing him so far, but not this time. This wasn't a fight between two men; it was a fight between a king and the world, and the world wouldn't give up that easily. This much struggle was expected.
On the other hand, the butler was smiling crazily. It had been ages since he had such an opportunity and so much fun. He really missed being an actor instead of just a spectator. He didn't care he had cuts all over his body, that his white shirt had turned crimson with his own blood. He wanted to congratulate the Servant and a small part of him wanted to stop now, as it would be a shame to kill a person who had given him so much fun, but he knew that the moment he did that, he would die.
Instead, he rushed at the golden Servant. Twelve weapons came at him in the blink of an eye. He rolled to one side, dodging the first two and then using his power to reduce his gravity, eluded another three coming at him. Flying into the middle of the sky, he brought his hand down at another four of the weapons coming at him, and a strange, invisible force buried them into the roof.
"Gravitas!" he said as he landed and continued on.
Just three remaining, one being a spear and the other two golden swords. They were too fast, and the best he could do was to avoid a fatal blow. One of the blades cut him in the shoulder, the spear buried into his right side and the last one cut his leg. He could withstand the pain and prepared to strike his opponent, but when he was almost there he found he couldn't move. Chains surrounded his entire body.
"Heavenly Chains, Enkidu," the King of Heroes declared.
The moment the butler was captured by the chains, the outcome was decided. He was an agent of the world, therefore recognized as a being with divinity. In other words, he wouldn't be able to escape the chains no matter what. After all, it was a chain that was designed to hold gods. But Aldebaran was very calm, even smiling, a smile that the King of Heroes wanted to rip off his face.
Many portals appeared behind the golden Servant, prepared to impale Aldebaran.
"Die mongrel," he said simply, as a horde of Noble Phantasms came from the portals.
"Gravity Bind!" Aldebaran yelled out.
Gilgamesh suddenly fell, slammed into the roof of the building. It began to break, and before sinking into its surface, he glared at the butler who had freed himself, since the moment he was slammed down by gravity, he'd lost focus and control of the chains.
"Rest well in this grave I created for you, King of Heroes."
Aldebaran raised his hands and lowered them, sealing the Servant's fate. The gravity over Gilgamesh became stronger. The roof broke, and so did the floors in the lower levels. Aldebaran floated with his ability and saw how the building collapsed on the King of Heroes. He would be never be able to leave, buried meters underground and held there. The King of Heroes had been defeated.
On the other side of the city, the clash of steel could be heard. Kousuke, Saber and Edward continued their fight against Berserker of Red while Caster decided to support.
Berserker had changed his way of fighting. He didn't focus just on Saber and wanted to kill them all. This was because he had recognized the other three as supporters of the Oppressor. Even against four opponents, they could not gain the upper hand. No matter how they hit him, the Servant didn't die.
"Saber, use it!" Edward said with a heavy sigh.
"But Praetor! To use my Noble Phantasm in such…"
She didn't get to finish because Spartacus rushed at them.
Her Master shot out a barrage of flames in order to stop him, but it only delayed him by a few seconds. Using that chance, Kousuke swung his blade, cutting the Servant's eyes and leaving him momentarily blind. Before the giant could smack him, blinded but guided by his instincts, he pointed two fingers.
"Rikujou Koro!" he said as six thin but wide rays of light slammed into Berserker's mid-section, preventing him from moving. "Now, Caster!"
Caster nodded and made a sword appear over her head. It swung in a circular motion, creating hundreds of similar blades along the way, all pointed at Berserker.
"Benihiko!" she yelled as they flew and buried themselves deep into Berserker's body.
Still the Servant continued to struggle, trying to break from Kousuke's binds. Caster looked at Saber.
"Hey useless Saber, I don't know if you have a way to beat him, but if you don't do somethung soon, our Masters are going to die!" she snapped.
Saber wanted to yell back at her, but she knew Caster was right. Even when it seemed they didn't get along, they were very similar. They had found people who could really understand them, a special someone who would do everything they could to protect them. They were two Servants who had fallen for their Masters.
Saber thrust her sword into the ground and raised her arms.
"Behold my glory.
"Hear my thunderous applause.
"Sit down and praise.
"My Golden Theater! Kingdom of Heaven and Hell.
"My heaven, reconstructed! This is where the limelight shines!
"Aestus Domus Aurea!"
She swung her blade three times before all present were engulfed by deep crimson light. Edward couldn't help but smile. It had been a while since he had seen her in all her glory.
Kousuke and Caster didn't know how to react. The moment they opened their eyes, they found themselves standing inside a golden theater with a crimson carpet and curtains. Berserker was on the other side of the theater and in the middle was Saber, as if before an audience. Her Master was behind her, ready to go against the giant.
He turned to them with a smirk.
"No more holding back," he said as a huge spectral arm manifested at his side and smashed into Berserker.
Kousuke's eyes turned bright red, with three black mitsudomoe encircling the pupils. Those were the mystic eyes of his family, Mystic Eyes of Empowerment. With them his abilities increased tenfold.
Berserker pushed Edward's arm back, but Kousuke was already in front of him and about to cut him down.
"Yamagi-Ryu Kenjutsu…" He slashed him a dozen times with such precision that the afterimage of the sword swing made it look as if he had drawn a white lotus. "…Byakuren."
He saw Berserker's fist coming at him, but in that moment Saber appeared behind the giant along with her Master, their blades wrapped in flames. He understood that he needed to create some distance.
He heard Edward and Saber call their attacks as he jumped back. A large explosion of flames engulfed the gladiator.
Caster saw all this and understood how Saber's Noble Phantasm worked. This wasn't a Reality Marble. It was similar, but she couldn't create one since she wasn't a magus. This was a space created by her big ego, an absolute imperial zone in which she could do just about anything. Caster needed to admit that here, Saber was at least ten times stronger, as this was a place where all her wishes could come true, and she couldn't help but wonder what kind of person her Master was to stand beside someone like her as an equal.
The flames died the moment Saber and her Master landed next to Caster, and she saw the gladiator for the first time fall to his knees and stop. She looked at the others, who all seemed tired. She needed to finish this once and for all. She closed her eyes and a second tail, and then a third appeared behind her.
"Yoshitsune Senbonzakura Kageyoshi," she said, opening her eyes, and thousands of cherry blossom petals appeared around the theater.
The petals began to surround her and she seemed serious.
The petals then began to surround the gladiator. He struggled, punching them and cutting them with his gladius, but nothing happened.
Eventually he was trapped in a sphere that slowly closed around him, but then Caster felt some resistance. It was weird and seemed little like gladiator they had been fighting. A pillar of light erupted from the sphere, shocking everyone.
From it came a beautiful woman with long blonde hair wearing golden Norse Valkyrie armor, dragging the bloody body of the Thracian.
"Sorry for the intermission, but I have this Servant under my care and I can't let you kill him."
"What do you mean? Who are you, witch?!" Saber yelled.
"I am the Counter Guardian Pleiades, the Supervisor of the Red Faction."
In the following moment, the four of them felt a pressure coming from the woman, a power they didn't expect the Counter Guardians to have.
"You see, during a fight, the Master of this one died. Apparently he drained too much mana," she lied.
"That doesn't change anything," Kousuke said, trying to understand how she had broken Caster's Senbonzakura.
"I know," she said happily. "I just need an excuse to kill you so Antares-chan won't get mad."
She disappeared and reappeared in front of Edward.
"So please die quickly," she said before kicking him squarely in the face.
It all happened so fast that no one could react. She moved as fast as light. By the time Saber began to speak, her Master had already crashed into one of the theater walls.
"Praetor!" She tried to cut the woman in front of her, but she vanished.
This time she showed up at Kousuke's side and raised her leg to kick him. He realized he was being attacked only at the moment he felt her foot connect with his stomach.
"Goshujin-sama," yelled a worried Caster.
Pleiades disappeared once again and appeared between the two Servants. Before they could attack her, she pointed her two index fingers at them and shot yellow beams of energy, blowing them away.
She just smiled and returned to Berserker. She couldn't let Shirou lose him so early since he was a very valuable asset. She began to wonder how to leave this place. It should disappear, as she defeated the ones using it.
"…Wait." She heard a voice behind her.
Pleiades turned and saw Kousuke using his katana to stand, along with Edward and their Servants. She just shook her head and sighed.
"I guess I will need to use more power." She began to glow. "Final Elysium!"
Everything was consumed by light.
Near the tree, both Rin and Atosaki were startled when they saw a beam of energy shoot up in the middle of the city. Rin felt a shiver. She didn't know of any Servant beside Saber who could create such a thing. On the other hand, Atosaki got a bad feeling, one she couldn't understand until she remembered that it came from the same place where she'd left Edward and Saber against Berserker.
"Edward-san," she whispered, not wanting anyone else to die.
Kirei and Leo continued to fight each other. The priest was really impressed that a young man could fight on par with him. Even when Leo didn't have a distinct style, his moves were unpredictable. He could barely avoid some of the attacks he threw. He still couldn't feel his arm from the last blow.
Kirei lunged at him again and punched him with his bad arm, as he knew Leo would use the chance to counterattack and it would give him a good opportunity. However, that never came to be.
Leo grabbed his arm and dislocated it. Kirei ignored the pain and kicked him in the stomach and then head-butted his forehead.
The two separated. Kirei didn't understand why he had done something like that.
"Now you can't use that arm," Leo said with a smile as blood dripped down his face.
Kirei was ready to go at him again when the voice of his Servant, Assassin, rang through his head.
"Kirei-sama, we have retrieved Lancer's Master and found his opponent. Please return, Lancer's Master is in critical condition."
Kirei sighed and popped his arm back into place, surprising Leo the way he could do it without feeling any pain, and then began to walk away.
"Wait, this isn't over, you fake priest!" Leo yelled at him.
Kirei looked at him for a second before jumping from the building and disappearing on the night. Leo was about to follow when Atosaki's voice made him turn. He saw the stream of light and his eyes widened.
The girls landed near him with Kage, who was in pretty bad shape.
"There, we got your friend!" said Rin. "Now how are we going to destroy that tree without our Servants? We need a Servant to destroy a Noble Phantasm."
She made a good point.
Leo didn't say anything at first. He gestured, and the next moment his Archer appeared.
"So, your brawl finished already?"
"Shut it, Archer."
"Alright, Leo, what do you need? You told me not to do anything."
"You really are a relaxed person."
"I like to enjoy any free time."
Leo wanted to smack his Servant sometimes. Who would have thought that the famed Odysseus could be like that, but he wasn't so bad.
"Just help us destroy that tree."
Archer simply nodded and took a small pouch from his belt, one of his deadliest weapons.
"You know that after this time, I can only use three more right?"
"Can't be helped. Even I can't withstand such potent poison."
Archer sighed and opened the pouch, at the same moment reciting its name.
"Aeolus, Bag of the Four Winds."
From it came a gigantic tornado which ripped the tree to shreds. At the same time it dispersed the poison.
Atosaki was about to go to the lower floors of the building they were on when she was stopped by Kage.
"Don't bother, this building was empty."
Shock filled the faces of those present. Atosaki's heart filled with relief.
"That old man, for such a tough fighter, was too soft."
The tree was gone and the fight of the night was almost over, but Atosaki still worried. Even when she didn't know why, there were good reasons for it.
Kirsche couldn't believe what she was seeing. Not only had the King of Heroes been defeated, but another one of the Counter Guardians had directly attacked, destroying Saber's Noble Phantasm and a couple of buildings in the area.
"Those idiots…! I told them to run if they encountered a Counter Guardian," Kirsche said, angry.
Ginevra was silent, calmly confident that the King of Heroes would rebound. As for the others, if they died, then that was too bad. Not that she truly worried; Counter Guardians were an overrated lot, otherwise the Aylesbury Valesti would have been destroyed even before it began. Still, their abilities were interesting, if nothing else.
Aldebaran: the gravity.
Pleiades: the light and, unknown to most, electromagnetism.
She hadn't met Antares, but Ruler told her to be cautious of him, leaving her wondering about what abilities the man might have. Perhaps, she thought, she ought to set up a Dead Apostle Territorial Field just in case.
And then Ginevra saw the smoke created by Pleiades' attack clear. She raised her eyebrows when she saw the state of the two Masters. Edward was lying on the ground, his arm turned back to normal. Kousuke had half of his kimono destroyed. They weren't terribly hurt, but the Servants seemed to be in a very bad situation. They were positioned in front of their Masters, protecting them. The two girls were covered in blood and burns from the last attack, and they remained standing for a couple of seconds before falling down.
Kirsche prepared to leave. She didn't want to lose two Masters and Servants in her faction so soon.
"Wait!" Ginevra stopped her.
Kirsche turned and looked at the water mirror and couldn't believe it.
Pleiades looked around. She had created a little destruction, but she didn't care. She made a few pillars of light around Berserker of Red, and the giant disappeared.
Edward opened his eyes and what he saw horrified him. Saber was lying sprawled out in a pool of blood.
"Saber!" he yelled, ignoring his own pain.
"Caster!" Kousuke also called.
Neither of them received a response from the Servants, and they were afraid they would eventually disappear.
Edward surrounded his hand with fire and put it on Saber's back. Eventually her wounds began to heal. As flames could be considered part of life, his also possessed some regenerative abilities, which explained why he was able to endure so much pain. He couldn't completely heal Saber, so he just closed her wounds and let her own regeneration take care of the rest. Edward stood up and did the same with Caster.
He looked at Kousuke and helped him stand. There was only one thought on their minds: make Pleiades pay.
The Valkyrie turned, surprised when she found the two Masters standing.
"Oh? You two seem tough. It's a shame to kill you."
Edward changed his arm into its claw form and Kousuke pointed his blade at her.
"Come, dog of Alaya!" the two said in unison.
She rushed at them with a smile on her face and just like inside that theater she hit them at the speed of light. They couldn't react at all.
Pleiades continued to play with them. Their desperate attacks couldn't reach her, but she didn't understand how they could keep getting up. Not matter how many times she knocked them down, they still stood against her.
"Stupid humans! Know your place!" she snapped.
She shot a beam at each of them. Edward created a shield of fire and Kousuke used his swords to block it. That wasn't enough, and they were consumed by light.
The two fell to the floor.
"Why are you fighting us?" Edward asked.
"For fun," she said with a smile. "You see, you humans are nothing but trash. The world gives you all this freedom, but you only bring destruction to it. You killed this world slowly, but surely it was just a matter of time before it fought back. So I'm going to take out the pests, just like you kill flies."
Neither of the two Masters could understand her reasoning and tried to stand again, but it was futile. On her side, Pleiades thought of an excuse so Antares wouldn't get mad and kill her. She needed to make it look like they had attacked her and she didn't have any other choice but to fight back.
She needed more destruction. She pointed a finger at one of the houses and smiled. The two Masters realized her intentions as they watched her fingertip start to glow.
"St… stop!" they yelled.
She didn't stop. The beam was fired and the house was destroyed along with its inhabitants. After that one, after another, she continued to shoot.
"Stop it! You're killing innocents!" Kousuke screamed.
She finally stopped for a moment and looked at them with a smile.
"I said I don't care. You humans are just trash."
Lance and Archer couldn't believe that, even being two on one, they couldn't beat the black swordswoman.
The roof was completely destroyed, and the two Servants had been pushed to the edge. Lance could finish her with Gáe Bolg, but she didn't even give him an opening. The moment he tried to use his Noble Phantasm, she would cut him down.
Archer recognized her as another version of Arturia, just like the spearman at his side was another of the Lancer he knew, but this darkened, alternate form was much stronger by far.
The two rushed at her from different directions and attacked her at the same time. She used her black blade to block Lance's spear, recognizing it as a threat, but didn't think the same of Archer and the projectiles he shot at her.
The knight dodged them perfectly and closed the distance between her and Archer, about to slice him when a crimson spear swung at her face. She ducked and kicked Lance away without even looking at him.
The attack had only delayed her, but that delay was all Archer needed.
"I am the bone of my sword," he recited, and a rain of blades came pouring down.
She couldn't dodge them, and they made a direct hit. The two Servants stood next to each other, breathing heavily, getting ready for the moment she stood up. She did, with cuts all over her armor, and seemed fine overall.
She was about to continue her attack when a pillar of flames was seen behind them.
"What is that?" Archer asked, unable to believe his eyes.
Aldebaran stood proudly over the grave of the King of Heroes. He really wished to see his face after such humiliation, but it couldn't be helped.
Suddenly, the chains that had earlier confined him came from the rubble and pierced his stomach. The butler fell to his knees and saw the rubble shift, and the King of Heroes emerged from it with his very own chain wrapped around him.
"H… How?!" Aldebaran asked, not believing the image in front of him.
It was quite simple. Gilgamesh had anchored one side of the chain to his vault. Since his vault was infinite, so no matter how many times his gravity increased, it could still pull him.
"Thanks, Enkidu," he said in a whisper before looking at the butler. "Figure that out for yourself, mongrel!"
"Why? Why, when you have such power, did you choose humanity over the gods?!"
Gilgamesh laughed as he never had before.
"Aldebaran, you think humans are weak?" he asked, looking at him with a smile. "You, Gaia, and the gods believe that because you are immortal, you are superior, but you couldn't be any farther from the truth. You all fear humans because we have such short lives. All the moments we live are unique and precious. We have the potential to overcome any hardship. Humans are foolish, more so than any other kind, they are self-destructive and hate more than anyone. But they also love more than anyone and they don't need gods. The gods from my time have already died and disappeared, but humanity continues."
Enkidu wrapped itself around the butler at the very moment a pillar of flames appeared in the distance. Gilgamesh recognize those powers as powers coming from his time. He felt the strength of the mighty hound that protected hell, Cerberus, and the rage of the invincible demon, the Oni.
"Look at this, mongrel. This is the power of humans."
Pleiades felt a shiver run down her spine. She turned and saw the two Masters she had defeated standing once again.
"You are strong, Pleiades," Kousuke said, throwing his swords to one side.
"But then why are you using that power to take from humans?" Edward asked, his eyes turning crimson.
Pleiades felt fear for the first time in a very long while.
"You shouldn't exist. Pests like you shouldn't challenge the world!"
"Pests like us?" Edward asked.
"We shouldn't exist?" Kousuke continued.
"Don't joke around!" the two said.
The two Masters looked back at their unconscious Servants, who would get mad if they knew about what was about to happen. They next looked at the destruction, at the dead, and how the person in front of them needed to pay.
"Let's do this. Avenger, Black Seal…"
"Release the self-imposed restriction…"
"2nd level 50%..."
"Dirge of Cerberus!"
"Crimson Red Vermillion!"
A scarlet mist began to surround Kousuke as his eyes and hair turned a slight shade of red and steam began to rise from his body. Eventually the mist condensed and turned into a crimson aura that encompassed his entire being.
On the other hand, black and red flames surrounded Edward. A crimson circle appeared on his left hand, a black one on his right. Both his arms turned into claws, each with the head of a hound on the shoulder in a corresponding color, as his hair turned blood-red.
Ginevra laughed as she and Kirsche watched the tide of the battle turn, gleefully applauding the words spoken by the two fighters.
"Don't look down on humans!"