Chapter 33: Glass

No one could react to the sudden attack.

In a single bound, Glass appeared in the middle of the formation and slashed the blade of her fan at EMIYA's neck. It was a hand fan made of steel and cloth, but it might as well be an assassin's knife; just look at how it was making that flash of light aiming for his exposed neck!

EMIYA gritted his teeth and swung the left blade of Gaelion's Wrath upward. It clashed against the fan right before it could slice his neck open, deflecting the strike before it took his life. But he knew that there was no way he could keep up with the mysterious enemy in this state.

This enemy wasn't like any enemies he had fought before in this world. She was dangerous. Only with that one single clash had he managed to confirm it. Her attack was full of bloodlust and killing intent.

And her level?

ERROR.

Yeah. That was what appeared in the HUD when he tried checking her stats. This was the first time he received this result when he tried to check anyone's status. Even though he knew that levels didn't represent how strong a person was, this result worried him.

From what he estimated, this woman might be as strong as Captain Fargus. But against the pirate captain, he was at his full power and had time for preparation. Not to mention, the Axe Hero was just aiming for a fun fight, a fight to enjoy. This woman? She was aiming to murder.

Not to mention that he was completely drained after fighting the boss monster of the Wave. Even swinging his swords was difficult for him now. That was probably the reason why she waited until after they finished off the Wave boss when they were all exhausted from the intense fight earlier.

Could she be the assassin sent by the Church to take them down?

"Impressive," he heard Glass saying while backing away from him a few steps. "Even in that pitiful state, your battle instinct was still very keen. The others don't seem to be able to fight at all, but you are different. More reasons to take you out first."

"Don't screw with us!" Behind her, Motoyasu yelled. He brandished the Legendary Spear and launched a skill at the woman. "Meteor Thrust!"

Glass didn't even look at him. "How pathetic. Circle Dance Zero Formation – Reverse Snow Moon Flower."

It was in the middle of the day, and yet the sky suddenly went dark. A blood-red moon appeared in the middle of the sky and started glowing and pulsing.

There was a flash of red, circular light, and Motoyasu fell to the ground with a scream. His body was then lifted up by the wind and thrown away like a ragdoll, and he fell to the ground again.

"Just as I said, pathetic. That Spear of yours must be crying."

Motoyasu couldn't even stand up anymore. He lay on the ground defeated, and there was nothing he could do but grit his teeth.

"Very well, I think we have wasted enough time. It's time for you to die. Circle Dance of Nothingness – Moon Break."

Thousands of crescent moon-shaped blades of energy rained down EMIYA's head. There was no way to counter this with his sword alone. He needed to use a skill… But when he tried to muster magical energy to do that, his Magic Circuits screamed out in protest. His body was threatening to shut down. Was he going to die here for real?

"Air Strike Shield! Zweite Shield! Dritte Shield!"

Shields made of energy suddenly appeared in front of EMIYA and took the full brunt of the attack. The blades of energy clashed against the shields and couldn't do much besides making an unholy orchestra of cacophonies in the air.

An arrow covered in sickly green venom flew across the air at a blinding speed, aiming at Glass' torso, and she had to dodge to a side upon noticing how dangerous it was. Then she had to raise her fan to block the giant sword aiming for her neck from her right side. She flicked her arm, sending her assailant backward a few steps. But she didn't have a single second to rest; following the slash was a rain of arrows made of pure lightning energy coming down at her from the sky, forcing her to throw a skill at it to block. The two magical skills clashed against each other, sending sparks everywhere.

She narrowed her eyes at the new combatants. "You…"

"Sorry, if you want to do anything to sensei, you have to walk on our corpses first."

Tersia's voice boomed across the clearing. She and the other members of Team EMIYA were standing in front of the Sword Hero with their weapons brandished.

EMIYA looked at his companions, who were now all standing in front of him protectively in horror. With just one single clash, he could say for sure that Glass wasn't someone his students could take on.

"No, don't…! You're no match for her…!"

The swordsmaiden of Team EMIYA didn't even falter. She pointed her weapon at Glass and said; her eyes not leaving Glass's face. "Sensei, you've helped us grow a lot since you arrived in this world. You've taught us how to fend for ourselves, how to not lose ourselves against an enemy who is much stronger than us. If we can't at least protect you when you're in perils, wouldn't everything you've done for us until now become useless?"

"That's right," Naofumi's voice rose. He walked up in front of everyone with his Shield ready, flanked by Raphtalia and Eclair. "You've done a lot for everyone here, and this is when we have to repay you, Shirou-san. This time it's us who will protect you, and everyone!"

Glass frowned. Then, she said in a dangerously low voice.

"Very well. I didn't want to shed too much blood, but you gave me no choice. Die together with your master."

Her attack came quickly and powerfully. It was nothing like fighting a monster; unlike them, not only was she very skilled, but she was also cunning and intelligent. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to hurt Naofumi easily, she set her sights on Farrie and Wyndia, the two spellcasters of the group.

However, she was not the only skilled fighter on the battlefield.

"Cover!"

Tersia yelled. In the blink of an eye, she appeared in front of the two spellcasters and stopped the attack of the other woman dead on its track. Glass' attack shook the blade of the giant sword, but this kind of power was nothing compared to the attack coming from Gaelion she had experienced a month ago. And since that day, she had also gotten much, much stronger. Anchoring herself firmly on the ground with her feet, she delivered an uppercut at Glass. The mysterious woman had to take a step back to avoid the deadly blade of the giant sword.

Snarling in annoyance, Glass flipped her hand and delivered a slash at Tersia with the edge of her fan. But after the rigorous training, she did with her sensei, something like this wasn't enough to intimidate the swordsmaiden. The attack might be fast, but there was no way it could match the speed of the brutal blows her sensei sent at her every day. She dodged, blocked, and parried the slash aiming for her, and the following slash, and the following slash. And Glass' face showed a hint of annoyance and frustration as none of her attacks could even touch the young girl in front of her. She drew back her fan to make the same movement she had used to toss away Motoyasu.

"Circle Dance of—"

From behind, Naofumi rushed forward. His Shield took the form of the Chimera Viper Shield, and he raised it in front of him and Tersia, blocking the incoming attack. Unlike Motoyasu, Naofumi's power focused on his incredible defense, and the attack clashed against the Shield, and a deep note reverberated from it, as if someone had just smashed a hammer on a giant copper bell.

Naofumi's arms shook like crazy from the impact. Her attack was unlike anything he had ever experienced before; if there was anything he could imagine it would be similar to, it could only be getting hit by a carrier truck running at full speed. If someone could deliver this much power with just a hand fan, imagine what they would be able to do with a hammer, or something similar.

However, at least it was still within his plan. The counter-attack of the shield, Snake Venom Fang (medium), was triggered, and the two snake heads on the shield's surface lashed out, biting deep into her arms.

But…

"Do you really think that such a simple attack would be able to defeat me?"

To Naofumi's horror, the poison didn't seem to work on her. He knew how powerful she was in terms of strength, but he didn't expect her to also be this resilient.

There was only one conclusion he could get from this. This woman was incredibly powerful.

"Circle Dance Rupture – Tortoise Shell Crack."

Glass pulled her fan back and, instead of a slash like before, she thrust it in Naofumi's direction. An arrow of sharp light shot out and hit Naofumi's Shield, and he winced as he felt it reverberated with the heavy, dull shock. A sharp pain shot through his body; he had taken damage, straight through the shield. This attack must be a piercing attack; any game he had played before had that kind of attack in one way or another.

"Sir Naofumi, back off!"

Moving like the wind, Eclair crossed the distance in a single step. She wasn't that strong in terms of brute power, but besides the Sword Hero himself, no one could be a match for her in terms of skill with a sword. Her rapier lashed out, aiming for the exposed neck of the other woman, and Glass had to raise her fan to stop it. But hurting Glass wasn't even the rosette's intention; with a twist of her wrist, she switched her rapier to her left hand and grabbed Glass' shoulder by her right, effectively locking the arm holding the fan in place. Taking that chance, Raphtalia rushed in from the right side, the side not holding the weapon. Her own sword drew an arc in the air, aiming at the kimono-wearing woman's neck again.

What she didn't expect was that another copy of the fan suddenly appeared in Glass' right hand in a flash of light. She stopped her slash easily with one hand, and flicking her wrist, she smashed Raphtalia's sword away with a loud "clang" noise. The fan snapped open, and a wave of crescent-shaped energy blades lashed out, throwing the raccoon girl away. Not stopping there, she slashed the blade of the fan at Eclair who was holding her left arm, forcing the rosette to release her and back away.

"Haikuikku!"

From behind Naofumi, Konoha and Sakura, having returned to their human form, rushed forward. They moved so fast for a moment they were nothing but two blurs, one green, one pink, and they slammed into Glass simultaneously. The collaborated attack was so strong it sent the air vibrating; even behind his Shield, Naofumi could still feel the shockwave coming from the strike. A normal person would surely have all his bones broken taking that deadly assault from the two girls.

However…

"No way…!"

Glass was sent stumbling back a few steps. However, she didn't even look fazed. That attack, powerful as it was, didn't even make a scratch.

"Even that attack did nothing?!" Raphtalia exclaimed in shock. "Her defense is even stronger than Naofumi-sama!"

"Sixteen kicks in a single second…" they heard Glass speaking. "Impressive. But that isn't enough to cause me any damage."

"Then we just need to strike you harder!" Farrie yelled. She slammed her staff on the surface. "All Dritte Boost! All Dritte Might! All Dritte Guard!"

Immediately, the whole team felt themselves filled to the brim with power. Their speed, attack power and defense power were all boosted exponentially by the three support spells from the priestess of Team EMIYA, and the melee fighters of the team rushed in once again and started engaging Glass in close combat in a much faster and more vigorous pace than before.

But to their horror, Glass didn't even show a hint of worry. In a one-versus-five battle like this, there was no way Glass could have blocked and dodged all the attacks coming from the five girls, indeed.

And instead of that, she tanked all of them. She took the kicks and punches of the filolial girls as if they were nothing while fending off Tersia's, Raphtalia's, and Eclair's swords. There was a clear annoyance in her face as the girls wove and ducked around her, unable to land a clean hit on her…

That didn't make any sense. If the support magic cast by Farrie was something like EMIYA's Reinforcement magecraft, it would be understandable; however, the supporting magic of this world was supposed to multiply the target's inner abilities, something akin to True Magic. If the receiver was someone who was already very powerful, such as Naofumi's three filolial girls, the magic's effect on them had to be enormous. Surely there would be no human being who would be able to withstand a single blow from those kicks.

And yet, the woman named Glass just shrugged them off. Just like that. Was she even human?!

Wait a second…

Now that he thought of it, it might be possible. That aura she had exuded since she appeared on the battlefield wasn't something EMIYA had ever felt on a human being, even the most powerful ones. He had brushed it off, thinking that it was because she was so powerful and this world was different.

But what if she really wasn't human?

There was a loud "bang" and yells of pain from the battlefield. EMIYA saw Tersia and Raphtalia, yelling in pain, thrown away and hit the ground in front of Naofumi. The two filolial girls had already been lying on the ground unconscious. There was only Eclair who was still weaving around the attacks coming from Glass by sheer skill and experience.

Sword clashed against fan, again and again. Neither side had the intention to give up.

After a particularly nasty clash, the two fighters separated again. Eclair withdrew her sword and raised it up to her eyes.

Without a warning, she slashed at the air. A wave of light lashed out from the blade of her sword and flew toward Glass like a blade rending the space. And this time, for some reason, Glass didn't dare to tank the attack like before. She dodged to the left, and the energy blade cut a line on the ground, and even managed to tear the side of her right sleeve.

"Circle Dance Evade Formation – Wind Dance Melody!"

Wind churned up around Glass. And with that, her movements seemed to become much more nimble, and she weaved through Eclair's relentless assault like a breeze. And to the rosette's surprise and shock, she threw a backhand at her instead of using her fan. Being taken aback by the sudden move, Eclair couldn't dodge in time, and took the whole fist in the face. She struggled backward, holding her cheek in pain, and with that, Glass advanced. Now the one who had to frantically parry and dodge was Eclair herself.

They could not afford to drag this out any longer…


Glass was still calmly trying to kill the opponent in front of her. Her movements still hadn't lost their pace, and the strikes were still as deadly as ever.

But inside, she was panicking.

She had expected a hard fight when she decided to engage the Holy Heroes of this world. Therefore, she had waited until the Wave ended, aiming to take advantage of the Heroes' exhaustion after fighting the Wave. From her observation, the Sword Hero was the most powerful and skilled among them, and she knew that engaging him when he was at full strength was a bad idea. And luckily for her, he seemed to be completely drained after using some kind of skill to destroy the Wave boss. That was why she decided to target him first; if he was killed, the others would surely go down more easily.

She just didn't expect that there existed individuals who were as good as, if not even better than the Heroes among them. In fact, the rose-haired woman who was fighting her right now was at least as good as Glass herself in terms of skill. Unlike the other two, there was no opening in her stance for Glass to exploit, and the strikes she threw at her were incredibly precise and fast. She might not be able to hurt her yet, but if the fight continued to drag on, there's no telling what would happen.

Where was this woman when the Wave was at its peak? Why didn't someone like this fight in the frontline? Glass couldn't find any answer that made sense about that.

Not to mention, Glass could not let the fight drag on. Literally.

She was a member of the spirit race. Unlike other races, people of the spirit race get stronger with more magical energy in their bodies. At full capacity, it could be said that they are nigh invincible; however, when they are exhausted of magical energy, they are nothing stronger than a normal human being… or even worse.

And right now, after spending a vast amount of her magical energy to fend off the relentless assault of the group of people in front of her, she was beginning to feel herself getting weaker.

She needed to end this fight now… or else…

She hated fighting in such a cowardly way. But… if it's what it would take…

Kicking the ground, she disengaged and distanced herself from Eclair. Then, she spread her arms wide and snapped both her fans open.

"Circle Dance – Mist Veil."

Everyone in the clearing suddenly felt a chill creeping up their spines. No, it wasn't because they were scared, but rather because the battlefield's temperature had literally just dropped about twenty degrees or so. White mist started appearing all over the place, as if someone had just created a veil of mist and dropped it down their heads. Soon, the whole clearing was covered in mist, and Glass' figure disappeared behind the mist screen.

A feeling of dread suddenly churned up inside EMIYA. He yelled. "Everyone, be careful! She's trying to-!"

"Too late. Circle Dance Cutting Formation – Instant."

Glass' voice suddenly appeared behind the group. Not even spending a second thinking, EMIYA did the only thing he could and threw himself in between the source of the voice and Wyndia, who was standing right in front of him.

Immediately, he felt PAIN. His right forearm, his thighs, his chest and his torso were all slashed open almost at the same time by something that felt like an incredibly sharp blade. Blood spurted out of his wounds, and he was thrown backward by the force of the attack. He crashed into Wyndia again, and the two of them fell to the ground. His blood soaked the dog girl's dress, and her eyes widened in horror.

"No…!"

"Formation!" Welt yelled, and somehow, that single command was enough for everyone to obey without a question. The group of heroes immediately closed up and formed a formation around their leader and Wyndia as Glass disappeared into the mist screen again. But they knew this wouldn't be able to hold; there was no way to see where Glass was, and there wasn't even any sound coming from her footsteps, either. Within this mist veil, they were just cornered rats waiting for Glass to cut down.

Time stopped in Welt's eyes and mind. He could not afford to let himself get panicked at this moment. He steeled his mind and let his thoughts wander forward. Okay… What is sensei going to think in this situation?

Glass is aiming to kill sensei. Therefore, it is inevitable that she's trying to find a way to get past us. Although… with her strength, she shouldn't have had to use this kind of sneak attack in the first place. She could have just blasted us apart with that skill she used on the Spear Hero earlier. So why does she resort to fighting like this now?

She should have been able to kill all of us in one hit as she approached us from behind. And yet, for some reason, she didn't. Hell, that last attack of hers didn't hurt sensei as badly as I thought it would.

Could it be… she's now too weak to kill him in one hit?

And if that's the case… in order to go through our defense, she's going to aim for the weakest link!

This was just a wild guess, and he wasn't even sure whether it was true or not. But there was no other way for him but to believe in his instinct… and try.

He drew an arrow from his quiver and fired it… at the empty space in front of Keel.

No one understood what the archer was doing, of course. But before the question could escape their mouths, it had choked inside their throats as a feminine shriek of pain echoed around them. The mist veil was cleared instantly, and they saw Glass standing in front of the dog girl of Team Naofumi, with her left hand holding her torso where the arrow had hit her. It couldn't draw a drop of blood, but she was paralyzed by the electricity coming from the enchanted arrow.

"There you are!" Naofumi yelled and rushed forward. "Shield Prison! Change Shield (attack)!"

The ball of shields appeared from thin air and imprisoned Glass inside before she could do anything. And different from the normal Shield Prison, this time, the shields making the prison were all turned over so that their faces would face the one trapped inside. And on the surface, very sharp iron spikes poked out, all pointing at Glass.

And from behind, the last of Naofumi's three filolial girls, Himawari, charged forward and delivered a brutal kick at the shield prison. Himawari was the youngest and most timid among Naofumi's three filolial queens, but she was also the strongest regarding raw power. The object flew across the clearing like a football and fell to the ground with a loud crash; even though the force couldn't reach inside the shield ball, it was obvious that the person locked inside wasn't feeling anything comfortable, based on the gong-like sound everyone could hear very clearly and loudly even from across the battlefield, and the screams of pain coming from inside the ball, obviously from when a bunch of sharp metal spikes stabbed the mysterious woman.

Naofumi held his breath. Was that enough for Glass to give up?

The ball of shields suddenly exploded violently. Emerging from it was Glass, who looked clearly battered from the beating she'd just taken. That attack didn't manage to injure her that much, but her elegant kimono was now full of holes, and her silky hair looked unkempt and tattered. She was breathing heavily in exhaustion. However, her eyes were still burning with anger and hatred.

"I will admit that you are strong," she breathed out. "You are much stronger… than I expected. I'm not going to be able to beat you… at the state I am right now."

"Then why don't you just retreat?" Naofumi offered, brandishing his shield. "If you retreat quietly, we're not going to chase after you."

"Oh, that is honorable of you. I would gladly take that offer. However…"

Glass' eyes suddenly flashed a dangerous light.

"…I'm not going to leave this place without taking the life of at least one of you!"

Then to everyone's horror, she moved again, but not towards the defenders. Instead, she rushed toward Motoyasu, who was still too weak to stand up from the ground.

"No!" Everyone yelled and rushed forward, but there was no way they could reach the Spear Hero before the enemy could kill him. His companion Elena tried to get in between him and the woman, but she slapped her away as if she were just a fly. Now she was standing right in front of Motoyasu, and the Spear Hero was too weak to do anything against her.

Her fan came down on his head mercilessly…

"Spear of Despair…"

Glass' hand suddenly stopped dead on its track before the fan could touch Motoyasu's hair. Her whole body started trembling like crazy, and her eyes darted around in utter terror as the Legendary Spear took a form no one had ever seen before. It was glowing in an eerily green light, and from the tip, something that looked like black smoke, something dark and evil was leaking out.

Then all of a sudden, Glass let out a shriek of horror. She threw herself backward as if trying to escape from something, but there didn't seem to be anything to escape from.

"What is she-?"

But Farrie couldn't finish her question. Her eyes suddenly widened in the same terrified expression, and she slumped to the ground, clutching her head with both of her hands. She also let out a scream of fear, and tears started running down her cheek.

What…?!

Then EMIYA felt it.

Everything dissolved in front of him. And reformed. But what he was seeing right now wasn't the battlefield, wasn't Glass, wasn't Naofumi and his disciples, wasn't anything that he had just seen just a second ago.

He saw the silhouette of a city, covered in flame, with screams of pain and terror echoing around him…

He saw Illya hung in midair, completely naked; behind her was a black hole spewing something murky, black, and evil down on the ground. It was starting to spread, and the black mud started climbing up his legs, his body…

He saw Rin, her body torn up with injuries, covered in blood. She looked at him with a weak smile, and her hand reached for his face…

He saw Sakura, her eyes void of emotions, writhing in a pool of disgusting worms, surrendering herself to violation…

He saw a flash of red light, and a raging wind exploding around him…

And he saw Saber, lying on the ground at his feet, with her armor shattered and her elegant blue dress torn apart, in a pool of her own blood. Her blue eyes gazed at him, almost exhausted of life, while blood was gushing out of her mouth as she tried to speak…

No… no no no… This… cannot be… No…!

At that moment, the hero named Emiya Shirou felt an emotion he hadn't felt for years. The feeling of utter fear and hopelessness.

Why? Why was he seeing this? The raging pain in his body right now, and the drain of his magical energy… was it the punishment for what he had done?

He couldn't do it. He had failed them.

No matter what he did, his hand could never hold anything…

"MOTOYASU, STOP!"

What made him yell out those words? He didn't know. But for some reason, the nightmare in front of him started fading away. He jerked back to life; he was lying flat on his back on the ground, and his body was screaming in excruciating pain. The grass under him was damp from his sweat and blood. He struggled to push himself back up and looked around.

Everyone else on the battlefield was in a similar state to him. Farrie was crying hysterically, while Tersia was clutching her tightly with a terrified look on her face. Wyndia was curling up in a ball on the ground and held her head with both of her hands and her eyes closed shut. Raphtalia and Keel were hugging each other; the two girls' eyes were darting around in panic. Even Naofumi and Eclair were trembling on the ground.

But the one who was seemingly affected the most by the experience was Glass. She was staggering as far away from Motoyasu as she could; her body seemed to lose all of its strength, and her silhouette at the moment seemed to be… wavering in the air. She breathed out; even her voice right now was hoarse and weak.

"You—I—I admit—that I lost today… I will withdraw for now… but you will not be so lucky next time. We are going to emerge from the Waves victorious… no matter what it might take… Remember my words, Holy Heroes…"

Then she took off, disappearing into the rift of the Wave. At Glass' retreat, the rift closed, returning the sky to the bright blue color of the afternoon.

The clearing returned to its original serenity. For a while, the only sounds that could be heard were the sobs of the girls.

Then EMIYA felt his wounds close up as Naofumi cast healing magic on him.

"You all right?" the Shield Hero asked in concern. EMIYA nodded with a sigh.

"Kinda. Well, at least for now."

Naofumi sat down next to him. "Sorry I couldn't do much to that Glass woman."

EMIYA shook his head. "It's not your fault. She was too much for any of us to take on back then. We should feel lucky we didn't get annihilated."

Naofumi knew that the ex-Counter Guardian wasn't exaggerating at all. Even Naofumi himself had to admit that the power of the woman wasn't like anything he had seen after he arrived in this world. That was something none of them could deny, no matter how optimistic they could be.

Still…

"She doesn't seem that skilled, though. When we faced her, I didn't feel the oppressiveness I felt when I faced you, or Eclair."

EMIYA nodded grimly. "Yes. And that is the only advantage that we have against her."

The two Heroes fell into silence again. None of them said anything, but they both understood what they needed to do now.

Glass was someone they had never expected to face, and never prepared to. And she alone was dangerous enough. She had said that she was going to return. If the next time she went after them, she didn't go alone, there was no way they would be able to handle her, and whatever she would bring with her.

Their goal for the future was clear. They needed to become stronger before Glass arrived again. And the next time they faced on the battlefield, they needed to be prepared.


The Church of the Three Heroes welcomed them back with emptiness. As usual, only a single sister stood at the Hourglass, who bowed to greet the Heroes as they teleported into the chamber. Motoyasu and Itsuki, now recovered, started walking away with their companions before they felt their collars being pulled back roughly.

"Motoyasu, Itsuki," they heard the voice of the Sword Hero right behind them. "We need to talk."


And that concludes the Third Wave of Melromarc, and the Heroes' scuffle with Glass. As you can see, they managed to push her back, but it was definitely not an easy victory.

Some people might criticize me about how Eclair could handle Glass so well during the fight, considering Glass was a Hero, and was mentioned in canon as very strong and skilled. But to be honest, I don't think Glass was that skilled. Indeed, she managed to stomp Naofumi and the other Heroes to the ground in their first battle in canon, but that was mostly because she was too strong for them to handle at that point. Strong, in terms of raw power, not in terms of skill. Basically what she did against Naofumi and his team in canon was tanking all of their attacks with her face, then overwhelming them by spamming her skills. And as I already established in the previous chapters, having raw power doesn't mean that you are going to breeze through a fight against a person who is much more skilled than you. Not to mention, Eclair was also a potential candidate to be a Hero; in the WN canon, she was actually the Katana Hero instead of Raphtalia. In a fight where both of them were Heroes, I don't doubt that Eclair would stomp Glass to the ground.

Until next time.