Part 253: Holy Grail War, the beginningMusic: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
"Okay. It was quick, but I get it now. Sorry, Saber."
" You should not be 'sorry'.
If you understand the situation, you should be deciding on a plan of action."
She leans forward expectantly.
Saber is the same type as Tohsaka: attack first.
That's good in its own way, but I can't decide what to do when I don't know what we should be doing.
"Hmm We should wait and see but we can't afford to do that. I don't know anything about the other Masters and I'm curious about the Ilya girl. We should be going out in search of other Masters, but"
I think it's dangerous to wander around aimlessly.
Maybe I should have cooperated with Tohsaka.
"Huh ? Oh, no. I'm just wondering why she's after us.
And that wasn't the first time I met her. I've met her once before, and I've heard the name Einzbern before as well."
After hearing the name "Einzbern," Saber gives me a hard look.
"Saber? Do you also know the name Einzbern?"
" Yes, I do. Let me ask you instead. Do you not know of that name?"
"Well, I've only heard of it. An unrelated guy asked me how the Einzbern girl was doing before I even met her."
" I see. Then you have not heard anything."
Saber closes her eyes and ponders.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
" This must be fate. You should go to the church if you would like to know about the Einzbern family.
That priest should be able to answer your questions and guide you to the path you must take."
"The church ? You mean the church we went to yesterday? But he told us we shouldn't go back there unless I want to revoke my Command Spell."
"He must have said that for expediency's sake. That rule is only part of the face he puts up for his association. It has no power if you are not part of their association."
That is certainly true.
Tohsaka belongs to the Magic Association, but we don't.
We wouldn't gain anything from following their orders, so we can ignore them.
That's again, fairly smart to come from Shirou.
"You're right. But I still want to avoid that place And I don't think I should go see that priest too much."
That priest feels strange.
It's not that I feel enmity or danger.
I must not see that man.
I'm scared because I might crumble in front of him.
"I understand how you feel. I do not want to have business with him if I could help it."
She declares this with a straight face.
I never thought heroic spirits would have difficulty dealing with human beings, and most of all
"I know I don't like him, but why don't you?
You haven't even met him, right?"
After frowning, she lifts up her face as if to shake off her hesitation.
"He took part in the last Holy Grail War.
I do not know which Servant he had, but Kiritsugu always took him seriously."
I know that.
I know that, but what did she just say?
"Saber Why do you know my father's name?"
Emiya Kiritsugu was a Master in the last Holy Grail War. He cooperated all the way through to the final fight.
During the war, Emiya Kiritsugu saw the priest as his greatest enemy. He believed the priest was the only one who could defeat us."
My father was a Master in the last Holy Grail War, fought along with Saber, and
He's part of the cause of that disaster?
"You're lying. That can't be true. Then why didn't Kotomine tell me? Why didn't my father tell me about it?"
But I am sure the priest did not tell you because you did not ask him. He is a man who will answer you if you ask. He will tell you the truth if you inquire him about it."
He really will. You could ask him the first time you meet, "Are you planning on stabbing me in the back?" and he'd be like, "You see right through me."
Saber stares at me silently.
The meaning of being a Master.
Her green eyes tell me to go to the church of my own will if I want to know about Emiya Kiritsugu.
I look up at the church.
Even though Saber urged me to come here, I'm still not prepared.
I don't feel like going in there to ask the priest about what happened ten years ago.
I turn back to the girl behind me.
"I shall wait here. Please face the priest yourself."
" I know. I came this far, so I won't back down now."
"Please do not tell the priest that I was summoned.
You should not tell him that the same heroic spirit was summoned twice."
"Okay. I'll ask him only about Kiritsugu. I'll be back quickly, so wait for me here."
"Hey, Kotomine. Was Kiritsugu a master? Why do I have his servant? Wait, fuck ignore that last part."
" Very well. Please be careful, Shirou. Call for me if danger approaches. That priest makes me uneasy. I do not know what will happen to you if you let your guard down."
"I feel the same way. Don't worry. I'll escape and call for you if anything happens."
I take a step onto the stairs.
I enter the church, leaving Saber under the winter sky.
Music: Church on the Hill
"Excuse me. Is Father Kotomine here?"
I ask him, not expecting a response.
There's something odd about that simple action.
He is walking towards me in a casual manner.
That's all he's doing, sowhy am I getting ready to be killed by this man?
The man raises his arm.
It reaches out for my neck and
"Hm. You are entranced by something unpleasant."
Music: Church on the Hill
Yes, that is only natural.
I'm actually the strange one for thinking he was going to kill me just because he was coming closer.
"Wait right there. You have business with Kotomine, right?"
He disappears behind the altar.
"That's not it. I came here because I have something I want to ask you. I wouldn't come here for any other reason."
"Very well. I am a busy man, so I do not want people to be attached to me."
Kotomine draws closer, his firm footsteps filling the air.
Is this what you would call invisible pressure?
He has a severe air about him that makes people conscious of their weakness.
It must be a good characteristic for priests, but could it also be their greatest fault?
"What is it? Go ahead and ask if you have a question. There is no need for greetings between us."
There's no need to be friends with him.
I came here to confirm what Saber told me.
I should ask him and quickly leave.
"There's only one thing I need to ask you. Why didn't you tell me about it?"
"Hmm. What did I not tell you?"
"It's about my father. Why didn't you tell me that Emiya Kiritsugu was a Master in the previous Holy Grail War?"
He does not look guilty. This man is enjoying the fact that Kiritsugu's name came out of my mouth.
"Answer me. It's natural for you to know if you're the supervisor of the Holy Grail War. So why didn't you tell me about it?"
"Is it not obvious? What good would it do to you to know that your father was a Master? Emiya Kiritsugu's achievements have nothing to do with you."
His disinterested tone shows no opening for a rebuttal.
Kotomine's answer isn't wrong.
Even if my father was a great Master, it doesn't mean I get any benefit out of it.
" No, there is a connection. Did I become a Master because I'm Kiritsugu's son?"
I was raised as his son, and I studied magic as his apprentice.
I became a Master just like him, and made a contract with the exact same heroic spirit. There has to be a meaning behind all this.
"You said I became a Master by chance.
I would've chosen to fight then and there if you'd told me that Kiritsugu was a Master. Why didn't you tell me about it?"
"That is none of my concern.
I have never heard of a Master's title being hereditary, and in any case, you are not Kiritsugu's son.
It is rare for an unprepared person to be chosen as a Master."
"The Command Spell is usually not given to someone who knows nothing of the Holy Grail. I do not know why you were chosen as an exception."
" Then I really don't have a connection with my father?
I was chosen to be a Master by chance, and my father saved me because "
He saved me out of pure good will?
"As far as I know. But I cannot understand the intentions of the Holy Grail. I would like to say that you were chosen to be a Master by chance, but I suspect fate had a hand in this.
The Grail might want you to atone for Emiya Kiritsugu's sin of denying its power."
"What ? My father denied the Holy Grail?"
"That is right. Your father came to this town to obtain it.
His sole purpose was to obtain the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail answered his pure wish, and maybe the Holy Grail thought he would be a fit owner."
"But Emiya Kiritsugu betrayed the Holy Grail.
He destroyed the Holy Grail at the very end. To end the Holy Grail War, he betrayed the Holy Grail which placed expectations on him and its longstanding desire."
"He destroyedthe Holy Grail ?"
If that's true, the Holy Grail certainly would not approve of Emiya Kiritsugu.
But he wasn't mistaken.
A Holy Grail that grants any wish.
Magi kill each other to obtain it.
The Holy Grail is the cause of the conflict.
My father did not betray anyone when he destroyed the Holy Grail.
He ended the Holy Grail War as the superhero I always admired.
" He didn't betray anyone. Kiritsugu destroyed the Holy Grail probably because he thought there was no need for it. Kiritsugu did not betray anything."
"Hm. It seems you do not know what Kiritsugu was like before.
All right. There is little point to it, but I shall tell you the true identity of Emiya Kiritsugu."
The priest smiles.
It is the ominous smile of someone intoxicated with delight.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
He was a magus unrelated to the Holy Grail War. He lived for his desires and objectives, and sought the Holy Grail as a result.
A miracle he could not make come true himself.
An ideal he could not implement with mere human power.
He could not cast away his immature dream that should have been given up, and that is why he sought the Holy Grail to make his wish come true."
"I do not know where he heard about the Holy Grail War.
It might have been that someone else deemed him worthy. But I do not care how it happened."
"Either way, Emiya Kiritsugu was hired as a Master.
He was named the greatest Master by the Einzbernsthe family of magi that is the cause of this ritual."
"Having learned from the previous three wars, the Einzbern family sought a Master specialized in battle.
The magic of the Einzbern family is not suited for battle. Therefore, they put their trust in Kiritsugu, a strong magus who did not belong to the Magic Association."
"They taught Kiritsugu about the Holy Grail, gave him power as a Master, and gave him a woman to produce a successor who would be more suited to combat.
He would be formally accepted into the Einzbern family if he obtained the Holy Grail. It was like accepting a commoner into a noble family.
The Einzberns treated Kiritsugu exceptionally, and it is easy to imagine how much trust they had in Kiritsugu."
"And Kiritsugu answered their trust.
Kiritsugu defeated many Masters in the previous Holy Grail War. I am the only one who survived after fighting him. Everyone else was killed for sure.
He was precise, careful, brutal, and cruel. He showed no pity for his enemies. Once the decision was made, he killed. He killed a Servant, let the Master beg for help while crawling on the floor, and ruthlessly shot him in the head. He showed no emotion even after killing. Neither the supremacy of his strength nor guilt in killing the weak."
"In short, he was a machine.
He did not have any emotions to begin with. There was no space for his human emotions to enter."
"Yes, he killed.
He did not think like you about not involving innocent people. He thoroughly attacked his enemy's weakness, allowing no chance to counterattack. He used the enemy's family as a shield and their friends as their shackles to win the war."
"Yes. If Kiritsugu were in this war, he would be the Master you would hate the most. If being heartless is evil, he would be the greatest evil of all."
"What? Are you not satisfied?
I understand. Emiya Kiritsugu is not a machine.
He threw away his personal feelings for his goals. It was both his strength and weakness to cast off his emotions through his own will without even using self-suggestion.
It would have been easy to prepare another 'cold-hearted' personality in him, but he must have believed such a person would not obtain the Holy Grail."
"He went so far, butthat same weakness made him betray everything.
The Einzberns entrusted their longstanding desire to Kiritsugu.
The Holy Grail appeared after five Masters were defeated.
It was a wish that no human could make come true, a wish Emiya Kiritsugu desired."
"But he threw everything away at the last moment.
That is the end of the last Holy Grail Warthe true nature of the magus you call your father."
"The Holy Grail disappeared and the Holy Grail War ended.
The Einzberns retreated after being betrayed by Kiritsugu, and they spent ten years preparing the next Holy Grail."
" Hm. Now that I think about it, they must have seen this Holy Grail War coming.
The previous war ended without any result.
Unused magical energy carries over to the next war. They must have known the next war would begin shortly."
I can't accept Kotomine's story.
That Kiritsugu was a cold-hearted Master
And that a noble family of magi had a connection to my father
There's no way I can accept it all when it all comes so suddenly.
All I can tell from this is that Kotomine did not lie, and
"Kotomine. Did you hate Kiritsugu?"
The man before me, the one who is uninterested in everything, actually displays anger towards Kiritsugu.
"Of course. We were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. We are natural enemies. Makiri and Einzbern considered us as the same kind, but we treated each other as natural enemies."
" Natural enemies? You were on guard against my father like he was on guard against you?"
"No. We simply could not ignore each other."
"He was a saint beyond help.
He could not forgive death, yet he killed to save other people. If one sacrifice were needed to save ten, he would kill the sacrifice himself without a second thought."
This just makes me want to see a Kiritsugu-based Archer.
"He always prepared the minimum sacrifice to make his dream world where everyone could smile.
A contradictory ideal is something I have as well, but we were not of the same kind."
"He lived for his ideal. He pursued his ideal until the moment he destroyed the Holy Grail.
That is why he had pride in himself, allowing him to become a machine without hesitation."
"That is our similarity and our difference.
He had an iron mind unplagued by inner conflict.
The reason he was never woundedwas he was wounded from the start.
He was an artificial brute, just as I was an artificial priest."
'He was wounded from the start'.
So that means the premise he believed in was wrong from the start.
" Then are you saying you're different? You take wounds, and you're not already wounded. You're a normal human being that can be wounded if you get slashed at, right? Are you saying you're different from Kiritsugu because you're a priest ?"
"Hm. People would not consider us to be the same if that were the case.
People thought we were similar in another aspect.
Let's see. If you talk about being similar, you are more similar to him than I."
"You both have child-like ideals.
Believing in simplicity and shouldering the role of a criminal for the sake of that ideal.
Turning yourselves into the greatest evil to eliminate all the small evils in this world.
You and Kiritsugu act like the saviors we call 'anti-heroes.'"
" ? What is this anti-hero thing?"
"It is what it sounds like. It is the opposite of a hero, an unforgivable murderer."
"Hey, that's just a villain. Are you making fun of me?"
"Oh my. It seems you are misunderstanding me. I am welcoming you. You are Kiritsugu's son. Think about having your enemy's son come to you for help. It is such a complex feeling that you cannot decide whether to be happy or sad."
The priest laughs silently.
I don't know his true intentions, but he doesn't seem to be bored.
"Well, about the anti-hero.
They are beings whose existence itself is evil, but their actions are good deeds according to people. They are beings who people set up as saviors, even if they don't want to be."
"Those are the heroic spirits called the anti-heroes. An example of this would be a sacrifice."
"Even if the sacrificed one is evil, he would become a hero if everyone in the village is saved because of the sacrifice, right?
It would not matter to anyone whether the sacrifice was eaten or buried.
If the one whom this disgrace was forced upon saves people, he would become a hero instead of a sinner."
" Is this like getting a high promotion for dying in combat?"
"No, you are wrong.
The important part is the minds of the people who set up the hero.
A proper hero is created from respect, gratitude, and feelings of guilt. You cannot become an anti-hero from gratitude or guilt.
Well, humans forget their ugliness and substitute farce with tragedy. Heroes who died as evil will be treated as victims as time goes on, and they will not stay as pure evil."
" Will not stay as pure evil ?"
"Correct. Anti-heroes have to be both victim and assailant.
They are created by the people, but are not a part of humanity. It is that contradiction which allows them to be 'the enemy of the world' exempt from all the restraining forces of the world."
" But then, there aren't many pure anti-heroes.
They are something that does not exist. They are merely what people wish to exist."
"They are an ideal that humans have created, sacrifices to deny the original sin.
Just think of the anti-hero as one of the wishes that will never come true; a synonym for peace."
" Hah. In short, it is a naive dream that will never come true.
You want to be a superhero like Kiritsugu, right?
Then you will be a great anti-hero. How about it? Why don't you wish to become a hero when you obtain the Holy Grail?"
" Hey now.
A superhero isn't like a hero. I don't know what you're trying to say, but I won't fall for your cheap tricks."
"Oh? How is it different?"
"I-I don't know! It's just different, okay!? And a hero is not something you try to be, but something you are at the end. I bet the only thing the Holy Grail can give me is powers beyond my position."
"I see. So you truly are a son of his, even if not blood-related. You both are hard-headed."
He must be making fun of me, as his smile is friendly.
This guy hates my father.
But he doesn't anger me because
He has yet to say anything bad about my father.
"Hey. Wouldn't you have gotten along with my father?"
I ask him when I realize this.
"Oh. Why do you think so?"
" For no reason. I just thought so."
"Then you are mistaken. I hate Emiya Kiritsugu. We never even spoke. The one time we met, we tried to kill each other.
I have already told you that we are exact opposites.
Our wishes, our questions, are different. A question by the one who does not have it shall not be answered by the one who does."
His eyes tell me that is why they would never have been able to get along.
" ? 'The one who does not have it'? Are you saying Kiritsugu had something that you didn't have?"
"Yes. I could not change my will itself for something I believed in. Well, we cannot be compared since our goals were different."
Changing your will for something you believe in
Is that like saving ten by killing one, like he said earlier?
"You do not need to understand. Emiya Kiritsugu desired peace. Isn't it simple? But it was too simple for this complex world. He had to reject the extra parts that could not fit into that perfect shape."
"But he could not tolerate that.
He sought a perfect shape, but still wanted to save the extra parts.
But that is a miracle exceeding human power.
There is no such thing as a world without conflict. He sought the Holy Grail to deny that fact."
"He sought his ideal, and after being faced with the fact that it was impossible, had no other choice but to rely on the Holy Grail.
That is the end of the man who was cornered by his own ideal.
His dream was an impossible sorcery that could only be granted by 'something that does not exist' like the Holy Grail."
A world without conflict.
Did my father really believe in such a thing?
He worked hard to become strong, but the more he matured, the more he was cornered by reality. But still, he still kept believing in his ideal and in the end, attained the miracle-granting Holy Grail.
Emiya Kiritsugu must have experienced many failures by that time.
First of all, to seek the Holy Grail means knowing your wish is unattainable by normal means.
He wore out and strayed far away from his ideal.
But my father still sought the Holy Grail.
For his ideal, and for everything he sacrificed.
" But my father destroyed the Holy Grail. His wish was never granted, right?"
"Correct. It was his own self that betrayed him in the end.
In that instant, I began to feel anger towards him.
To be honest, I did not mind his wish. I was interested in the 'peace' that humans wish for."
"Isn't that the same for you as well? You're a priest after all, right?"
The priest nods,
saying that a world without conflict is what everyone desires.
"But that is not my wish. First of all, I do not have such ordinary wishes."
"You don't have ordinary wishes ?"
"That's right. An ideal world is one that is the most comfortable. For Emiya Kiritsugu, it was a world without conflict. From the very beginning, his standard was different from mine."
"It is a simple story. There is nothing that brings me happiness. It does not matter, let it be believing in people or having people believe in me. What other people called happiness did not bring me any joy."
He says this emotionlessly.
He is not talking to me. It's almost like a monologue.
Music: Church on the Hill
"Well, that is all.
I answered your question if Emiya Kiritsugu was a Master well enough."
"Uhno, hold on. It's not just my father I want to know about. Um, well "
About my preparation for the role of Master and about how I should go about fighting from now on
I bet he'll laugh and make fun of me if I asked something so stupid.
I want to avoid that.
In fact, I will avoid it.
"If you have any other questions, make it short. That took longer than I thought."
No, there was something else I wanted to ask him about.
Didn't I come to this church because I wanted this question answered?
"Aren't you concerned about the Einzberns?
I would think they would want to kill you, since you are Kiritsugu's son."
" ! Yeah, it's about that ! First of all, who is this Einzbern? You said they are the cause of the Holy Grail War or something."
"Yes, they are the cause. I told you that the Holy Grail War is a ritual, yes? If there is a ritual, it is natural for there to be a ritualist."
"There were some magi 200 years ago who found out there is a distortion in the ley line on this land. They offered their secret techniques to each other to create the Holy Grail's activation circle.
That was the start of the Holy Grail War. The three families involved in its creation are the legitimate owners of the Holy Grail."
"The ones that created the Holy Grail. The ones that devised the Command Spell which abuses the heroic spirits. The ones that offered the land and the technique to bore a hole into the world."
"Einzbern, Makiri, and Tohsaka.
They are the three families that started it all, with lineage and history far surpassing ours. The Tohsaka are the only ones from this land, but their fatherly master is that Schweinorg. Well, if the master is the kind of person I hear he is, it is ridiculous to group them according to race."
" Hm. So the Einzberns are the leading family of the Holy Grail War?"
"In the past, yes. But they are only participants now that the Holy Grail summoning has failed and its ownership became uncertain.
Now, their only role is to create the vessel of the Holy Grail.
The same goes for Tohsaka and Makiri. They are just families whose members have a higher likelihood of being chosen as Masters."
" But the Holy Grail is what the Einzbern family proposed in the first place. Their history spans a thousand years. A family that lasted for a thousand years without spawning any branch families is rare."
"Do you understand, Emiya Shirou? The Einzbern family has only pursued the fulfillment of the Holy Grail for a thousand years.
A thousand years. They are crazy, continuing their deeds from the time when barbarism such as mass murder was allowed for the sake of recovering holy ground.
They are not fanatics, not obstinate, nor crazy. They just held the hopeless cross to enforce the meaninglessness."
"That is why the Einzbern magi are beyond the domain of magic. They are monsters, never straying from their path, always attempting to achieve a common goal. Normally such people die off after a few decades.
We cannot imagine their feeling of disgrace and frustration when they had to invite in a magus outside of their family."
"But their desire to complete the Holy Grail was stronger still.
They repeated their mistake for 500 years. It took them 300 years to accept the fact that they could not obtain the Holy Grail by themselves.
Andit took them another 200 years to realize that they could not obtain it unless they use their own powers."
"The Einzberns literally killed their emotions to cooperate with Makiri and Tohsaka.
As a result, their ownership of the Holy Grail was taken away and they were reduced to mere participants in the war. They endured the disgrace, even going as far as contaminating their own bloodline by inviting in an outside magus. But unbelievably, Emiya Kiritsugu betrayed them with the Holy Grail in front of him."
"That is the connection between Kiritsugu and the Einzberns.
And that is your connection with them."
"Do you understand now? All the Masters have some sort of burden, but the obsession of the Makiri and Einzbern families cannot be expressed into words. If the Makiri family have carried their burden for five hundred years, the Einzbern family have carried theirs for a thousand.
If anyone has the right to own the Holy Grail, it would be one of them."
I'm at a loss for words.
No man can stand against an obsession that has lasted for centuries.
"Do not be depressed. Emiya Kiritsugu did betray them, but you do not need to condemn him for it.
To put it another way, he held to his belief, even if it meant opposing a 1000-year-old apparition.
He threw away everything for that purpose.
Isn't that something to be proud of?"
"What is wrong? Are you scared now that you've heard a thousand years?"
"No. I chose to fight, no matter what the reason is. I don't care what the other Masters think. I won't let something like the disaster ten years ago happen again."
I raise my head in determination.
The priest nods, apparently satisfied.
"That is good enough. If that is your reason to fight, put your life on the line as you do so. There will be more victims the longer the war lasts. Risk your life like Kiritsugu and lure your enemies in."
" You're saying what you want because it doesn't concern you. You're telling me to be bait?"
"You have nothing else to risk, so it cannot be helped.
Well, it is not entirely hopeless. You have no ability to detect other Masters, but Servants can sense other Servants. If you have an excellent Servant, you need only wait."
I turn my back to him.
There's nothing else I need to ask.
I've kept Saber waiting, so I should be going back now.
"Hold on. Let me ask you something. Do you know any healing magic?"
"No. What about it?"
"Well, then bring any wounded people here.
As part of The Church, I cannot overlook any victims. I can handle all the treatments unless they are beyond help."
" I'm surprised. You can use healing magic? That's banned in the Church, right?"
"It is outside of our jurisdiction, but I have acquired it.
I once had someone die in front of me. After that, I started to study it, and it seems I am more compatible with it than I thought."
"Oh, but I will ask for compensation if I am to heal you. I have to be fair as the supervisor."
"I refuse. I wouldn't come to you for help even if my life depended on it."
I turn away, and this time I really do leave.