The general's spear bounced off the holy maiden's blade, and they looked at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move.
"Archer. We will make our last stand here. You and Lancer will finish the rest." Bob told his Servant. "Now, I order you. Kill the Dark Ken we saw. There is no way you will not kill him. Crush him with the army." With that, the three Command Spells, the artful red marks on the back of the hand that bound Servant to Master, all disappeared.
"What about you!?" He yelled, but Bob waved him off.
"We shall make our last stand here." He said. Beside him, Tensai had already given his orders to his Servant. They could resist the Command Spells no longer, and as the general rode off to finish the roadkill, the Lancer flew off to kill the last of the opponents.
"Valiant." The Holy Berserker stood there and made that one comment. "But very, very stupid." She raised her sword. "Because I cannot let you leave here alive."
"We weren't planning to." Tensai Takizawa declared this, pulling out his Dagger of Avarice. "We're just going to make sure you don't kill us quick~!" With that, he unleashed bolts of lightning. The high-speed electrons made their way towards the knight, who merely waved them off. The wind blast that came after, however, was more effective, forcing her to lower her head to the gale.
But that was all the time they needed. Bob had already slashed the Blade of Avarice right through her neck. The mana-burning blade effortlessly sliced through Joan, causing much physical pain to the knight. She gritted her teeth and exhaled suddenly, surprised at the sudden pain. However, she had survived.
And that was time enough. She punched Bob, with a fist that should not be lethal, however, with her enhanced strength it pushed clean through his ribs, coming out as a full gauntlet on the other side. The crimson-coated metal glowed a dull red, covered in blood and guts. Without hesitation, she threw her arm to the side, launching the body over ten meters to the side. Tensai had stopped his attacks, instead channeling prana to his Servant. Joan stepped forward. Reacting a little late, the voice called out.
Bob is dead.
"What are you fighting for?" She asked. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she remembered a time when she herself was the rearguard, when she had put her life on the line in order to save others.
Her reward for that was being captured and held, tortured and burned at the stake. And her government had lifted not a finger to help her.
"There's no reason, really." Tensai said. "I don't really have anything I want to protect, and it wouldn't bother me if I died now. It's all just a game to me." He said, pushing out the last of his prana to his Servant.
"Then why do you try so hard?" She asked, mystified. If someone with such a shallow motivation could do so well, then what of her, who had the highest motivation in the world?
"Well, the game's not fun if you don't try to win~!" He called. Pushing out the last of his prana, he threw a punch supported by the rushing wind. Joan was surprised, not even seeing it coming.
However, it was all worthless. Out of prana, Tensai Takizawa was dead before he even threw the punch. Joan stabbed his body just to be sure.
Tensai Takizawa is dead! With glee, the voice rang out, confirming that the bishonen Master had indeed lost the game.
But the game had not been won yet.
"Whew, that hurt." The space detective's copy that had been tainted by the darkness, DarKen, had risen again, demonic sword and all. "How dare they even hurt me."
"Oh, no kidding." He said again. "Dying sucks. Now I'm mad!"
"Let's go get back at 'em! They took mah laydies!" He yelled.
"Yeah, leggo! They're still alive, and I can't let them have anything I don't!"
"But I'm so laa~zy~!"
"I want Masters and Servants to coexist peacefully!"
"What the hell are you guys even saying!? Let's go get some eats!"
And now there were seven of him. Each one representing one of the deadly sins, the seven DarKens had arrived on the stage. And as if on cue, their opposite number appeared.
Archer on his horse, crying the warm tears of a soldier who had been forced to abandon his beloved commander, rode forward to challenge them. He was alone.
"Perfect! I'll take the legs and show him just how weak a horse is!" A DarKen who was eternally angry, his eyes glowing red with eternal hatred, was already rushing towards the horse.
"I won't let you upstage me!" A second DarKen, this one with the prideful and gallant air of a superior officer, ran towards the general.
"Then we'll get ready to rape!" One of them, who held his demonic sword near his crotch area all the time, stood in ambush.
"Will you please stop overcompensating?" Another one, decked out in necklaces of golden swag, took his position opposite the crotch-sword. "Everyone knows that girls love money, so just get money like me!"
"Arghh… I'm so laa~zy… Let's stay here and fire a beam so that we don't have to move." With that, he took a standing stance opposite the charging general.
"I'm so jealous of your naturally gifted mind." One of them said. He was nondescript, the same as the rest except for the eyes. His eyes were always hunting, searching for something to take. "I'll join you."
"I'm so hungry~! I think I'll just stand here." With that, one of the DarKens, pudgier than the rest took up his position.
So they stood arrayed against the charging general. He unleashed his war cry, which was one word that had gone down through the ages as the symbol of war.
"CHARGE!" With that, his battle spirit was ignited. The first two Kens also took this as their signal, rushing the legs of the battle steed Mikunigoro.
But they were about to be met by a surprise.
"My personal guard, come to me!" With that, four horses appeared around Archer, each one of them ridden by a man arrayed as he was, in the light yet durable plate of the samurai. But the DarKens were faster, already under Mikunigoro as they men arrived. However each one of them was almost as skilled as Archer himself, and although they were injured, few of them had died.
In a contest between the powerful, with these odds, there is only one outcome. Five spears rushed towards two targets, each one hitting their mark. They did not stop, tearing up the ground in front of them with their hooves as they charged.
Behind the general's entourage were the pierced and dying bodies of their enemies.
"It's all your fault! You ruined the attack!" The prideful one who had been brought down exclaimed.
"Shut up before I kill you again!" The other one yelled right back. "I'm pissed enough as it is!"
Those were their last lines before they faded away.
"It's time to go on a raping spree!" The DarKen holding his sword to his hip charged forward.
"Don't get ahead of yourself, I get the spoils!" They rushed forward.
"Alright, let's go! Let's deprive them of life, shall we?"
"So I can eat!"
"So I can sleep!"
"Let's do this! Seven Deadly Sins Beam!" Assuming an epic stance, quite closely resembling a Super Sentai show, complete with combining their demonic swords to fire a huge beam of darkness, they fired at the general and his guard, who were engrossed in fighting the DarKens out in front. The explosion consumed all of them in a cyclone of dark energy. The only thing missing was the victory shot of them facing backward as the explosions consumed their target.
Silence followed. The dust that had been thrown up by the explosion slowly began to settle.
And a lance, sleek and silver, glided at a lethal speed out of the cloud and hammered itself into the center DarKen, the lazy one. Two arrows followed it extremely quickly, killing off the other two before they could even draw their swords from the combined contraption they had turned them into.
DarKen is dead. Again. The voice announced it with none of the usual flair.
"Thank you for your sacrifice, my guard." He said. "I shall never forget your bravery." He plunged his spear into the ground and got off his horse. He began to pray for his fallen comrades. His horse, as if it knew that this was important, made not a sound. As he kneeled on the ground, his figure slowly faded away.
With that, the general who had never been wounded but was broken nonetheless disappeared into the afternoon glow.
Archer is dead. The voice seemed a little more solemn for this announcement, none of its cavalier tones from the other announcements remaining.
The sky was a clear blue. The Lancer who had left his Master behind charged through the air to his final destination. Behind his impassive face it was impossible to tell what he was thinking.
Was he sad that he left his Master? Was he dissatisfied with his ending? Was he wishing that he could have continued? Or did he simply not care? None of it mattered.
The enemy was right in front of him. Flying through the air were the figures of the girl and the Rider, although he did not know that.
A flaming spear was immediately thrown.
"Master, hold on!" Rider yelled that as she banked hard to the left to avoid the flaming spear. Using that as a distraction, the Lancer charged his opponent, appearing before them without a moment's hesitation. His spear was already up. But Rider was faster.
The world was remade into her land; the land on which she had fought, bled, and trained. The Shrine of Bishamonten stood a thousand meters into the sky, brought forth by the dream of the warrior. Both combatants stood opposite each other, appraising the other's strength.
However Ririko could see that right now, her Rider would not be able to take on the Lancer she faced. With that she raised her left hand, Command Seals refreshed from a new contract, and took a deep breath.
"You will fight to protect me!" She called out, one of the red marks on her hand disappearing. "You will fight my brother's legacy!" She called out again, removing another one of the red marks on her hand. "And lastly, you will kill that Lancer and we will win!"
With that, the last of her Command Seals was removed. As if it was the signal to begin battle, the Rider stepped forward without hesitation.
At least, that is what we can assume she did as she disappeared with inhuman speed, so fast that the human eye could no longer see it. Drawing her second sword, she threw everything she had into the attack, raining blows down on Lancer. She appeared to the left to deal two extremely quick blows, then one from above as she went over to the back, where she would strike with five more blows of epic speed. Truly, she lived up to her name "The Avatar of Bishamonten".
Lancer fought back flawlessly, showing that the power of a god is not something to e trifled with. Each one of the Rider's fatal blows was repulsed by one of the two spears he wielded. His face was grim and dark as always, although it also showed signs of strain from the constant attack. As proof, his long white hair, bleached by the blazing light of the sun, was cut several times. However he could not last forever under the withering assault. With that, he ignored the fatal attacks and concentrated all of his energy into his spear.
Ten fatal blows slashed through him almost simultaneously. The god had been defeated by the god's avatar.
But his goal was not to kill the Servant, but the Master. As he died, he left his final package behind him.
An incendiary explosive that would burn down a city, on the level of a fuel-air bomb. As he died, for the first time he smiled, snapping his fingers to trigger the bomb. And as he died in the fires of his own creation, he had one last thought.
So I'm just like my Master in the end; I'm only happy when I'm on the edge of death.
Even with her extreme power, the Rider was unable to rescue her Master. Shields of any kind were rendered worthless as the blazing inferno after the explosion burned through all that existed within the Reality Marble, finally shattering it into a thousand pieces. Having nothing to rule over anymore, Joan of Arc disappeared into the darkening afternoon.
Three burning corpses fell to the ground like shooting stars, signaling the end of the battle. The Holy Grail War was over. There was no death announcement, there was no music, not even a sound over the abandoned and broken city.
It was deserted except for one church, which housed three.
I stood from the chair.
"The War is over." I told my superior. "Everyone is dead." He nodded.
"What do we do with the Grail, then?" He asked. I turned away from him to enter the basement.
"I don't kno-" but at that moment I felt myself completely unable to move. The reason was obvious. "So you're just like the others." I said.
"Yes, I am." He said, walking in front of me and twirling the Black Keys in his hand. He was missing one from the standard of three-to-a-hand, probably the one he had just used to pin me down. "How could you not have known?"
"Smart move, hiding your Servant." I told him. "I barely even bothered to look, and because she wasn't involved in the War I didn't find her."
"Yes, well, I do know everything there is to know." The bishop smiled, taking out a dagger. "And goodbye." He said, thrusting the dagger into my chest. With that one action I found out everything.
How he had convinced Hashimoto and the Burial Agency to join the War and overload the Grail. How he had usurped the voices in Joan's head by using the golden ram of those who pretend to be prophets. How he had used Joan to hunt down the others who had sought the Grail. How he had hidden his final Servant, a copy of the Greek goddess Pallas Athena.
And most importantly, the top secret report that had spurred him to do all this.
Report 340: Feasibility Study: Taking The Origin.
It was an insane plan to bring the Origin and the energy from the Throne of Heroes through the Holy Grail. They had believed that this would strengthen the Church, allowing them to do such things as exterminate all magi and kill all of the vampires. The essence of the plan was that there was so much energy in the Origin that it would push everyone up to Servant level.
Addendum: Program Crusade feasibility studies are showing positive results. We have succeeded in summoning a single Servant outside of the Holy Grail War system. Servant's True Name is Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess. To spread the power amongst the people of the world up to Servant level, however, two Holy Grail Wars' worth of energy will be required, which can be easily acquired through our supervisors. Recommend continuation of the program.
After that the Church would go on a crusade, exterminating all non-humans and magi. Simply brutal and simply effective. All of this flashed through my mind as I died.
This power is great, feeding me all the information I needed when I was alive while I die. I thought. However, before I faded away, I noticed I was not alone in my thoughts.
Do you desire power? It was a voice I could not identify, a voice that had entered my thoughts out of nowhere. Do you wish to overturn the rules of reality?
Gladly. I thought. What's the catch?
Wish, and it shall be granted. The voice said. However, you shall serve me for all eternity, righting the wrongs that threaten the world.
Very well, I'll take that. I thought. Give me the power to defeat his Servant, and revive Ririko Tohno.
I will come to collect very quickly if that's the case. The voice said. Why save Ririko?
She won. I told the voice. Last Master alive wins.
I stood up. The hole in my chest had closed, but the blood was still there. The Black Key was no longer pinning me down. I immediately remembered everything that needed to be remembered.
I rushed down the stairs.
Ririko Tohno found herself awake on the ground, miraculously uninjured. She had won.
She ran towards the church, spear in hand. She would get her wish.
I entered the basement. They were already there, admiring the Holy Grail. Bastards. I thought. Taking six Black Keys in my hands, I threw a set at Athena to distract her while the other three slinked in under to take the Bishop. Just in case of a grab, two of them were Black Keys of Immolation, which would release and explosion that set fire to anything in range. I followed the Black Keys, three in my left hand and the Sacrifice Dagger in my right.
The Keys were all deflected by Athena's aegis, her strongest defensive weapon. Taking the opportunity, I jumped onto the aegis, throwing the three Black Keys in my hand at the Bishop's shadow. Still reeling from the surprise attack, he was immediately bound.
"So there." I said. "That's what happens when you piss me off." I said. Neither of them said anything. I turned to the Servant.
"Let's dance, shall we?" I asked her. The invitation was all she needed, her bronze spear rushing towards me. I turned to the side, my arm sliced deeply by the spearpoint. Grunting in pain, I threw another hand of Black Keys of Immolation right at her feet, forcing her to use her shield to defend against them.
That was all I needed. I kicked off of the ground, tackling the shield with all of my strength. I felt her give a bit, which was all I needed.
The Sacrifice Dagger bit into her neck. The Conceptual Weapon that could cut even a Servant sliced through her neck, throwing it high into the air.
"I never thought it worked that well." I said to her head, which was on the floor. "I didn't think I would be able to take off a god's head with a single blow."
"You… what did you do!?" The Bishop yelled. "She shouldn't have died, much less to a mere human like you!"
"I made a deal with the devil." I said, approaching my superior. "This is the Holy Grail War. The one who knows how to play everyone the best wins."
With that, I pushed my arm into his stomach. He would have fallen if the Black Key had not held him up. I pulled the Sacrifice Dagger again.
"Good night." I said, cutting him. "You just lost the Grail War." I said.
Something unexpected happened, though. It seemed he had already made a wish, as a large wave of power burst outwards.
So he half-succeeded. I thought. Some of the Origin's energy is already back.
After that I dragged the bodies away, burning them in the back. I cleaned the blood off, changed my priestly robe, and returned to the front of the church. Ririko Tohno was already there.
"Congratulations. The Grail is yours."
"You're not going to come with me?" She asked as she went for the door in the back. Any magus could sense the extreme power behind that door.
"No. This is between you and the Grail." I said. She walked down into the basement. Outside, I opened the door and closed it behind me.
I would not make the mistake of letting down my guard again.
The dark steps leading down to the basement were extremely uncomfortable for Ririko, but she managed. There, the Grail stood in front of her.
Contrary to its menacing name, it was actually just a cup on the table, like a normal chalice used for Mass. The small golden cup was ordinary and in no way ominous.
The magical part was the small, translucent wisp hovering mere inches above the ring of the chalice. That was concentrated magical power, enough to defy the laws of common sense and trigger the Third Magic.
"I wish for my brother to live." She said. The Holy Grail seemed to speak directly into her head as its response.
"That cannot be done." The Grail told her. "His soul is already stored in the Throne of Heroes as a Heroic Spirit. To take back his spirit is beyond even Akasha."
Ririko was an educated magus, so she knew what this meant. It meant, basically, that it was already outside the jurisdiction of the world to take things out of the Throne of Heroes. However, it would not be outside its jurisdiction to put things in.
"Then unify my soul with my brother's." She said. "Take me into the Throne of Heroes."
"Consider your choice carefully." The Grail responded. "I will not grant that just yet."
With this one wish, she would be united with her brother forever. With this one wish, she would break the eternal curse of reincarnation and tragedy that faced them.
So why shouldn't she make the wish?
"I am certain."
"Then it shall be done."
In a flash, she disappeared. Her lithe figure replaced with nothing more than an infant child. Trigger saw this and rushed back.
The Grail was still there.
"What is this?" Trigger asked.
"The mother and father may have proven themselves, but not the child. The child shall stay here in this world and live." The Grail replied curtly.
"What a pain... So, I suppose I will have have to take care of him?" Trigger asked while examining the child. "What's his name?"
"Masaomi. Masaomi Tohno." It's essence unable to manifest in the world, the Holy Grail faded away.
The green fields of the Throne of Heroes stretched out into the horizon. The gentle breeze and the comfortably warm air would convince even the hardest and most battle-scarred of warriors to take their time and rest.
"Ah… so this is how it is." Kenichi Tohno stretched out on the green grass. "So this is where Rider used to live." He smiled as he looked out over the fields.
"I wish Ririko were here to see this…" For most of his life they had been together, watching over each other, helping each other, protecting each other. Over the years they had faced assassination, imprisonment, near-certain death, and even the most cruel separation of death.
But fate and the love of siblings is an unpredictable thing, and the Grail happened to open the door to the world right behind Kenichi. Ririko stepped out quietly and cast her eyes over the horizon as well.
"It's beautiful." Kenichi said. "Just like you."
He turned around and stood in front of Ririko. Unlike the Kenichi of the War, this was him in his prime, with all the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Fun and outgoing, always ready with a wisecrack, this Kenichi was the one in Ririko's memories.
On the green grass of the Throne of Heroes, where those who lived great lives go to rest, they embraced. Behind a tree there was the space detective Ken Marker's copy.
"They make a great couple." He said, taking a picture of the two standing there embracing as if they were one.
Report 343: On the Izaya Grail War: Concluded.