A peculiarly empty patch of land formed on the field of battle. However, nothing stepped within that space. Be they homunculi, golems, even mindless dragon tooth warriors, they understood that this one place was the pit of Hell. They would be senselessly shattered if they were to step inside.
Only those chosen — only Servants possessed the right to exist there.
— Even now, two Saber Servants stood there.
On the one side was a silver knight whose small frame was entirely wrapped around by thick armor, making it one single mass of steel. Due to the face-covering helm, the knight’s race or gender was completely unknown. Its weapon was a silver sword adorned with splendid decorations.
On the other side was a tall man surrounded by an unusual air. The greatsword he held with both hands, like the sword of his opponent, boasted a magnificence and enormity possible only for weapons which had been tended to by inhuman hands. The green jewel embedded in the hilt stood out in particular.
The colors of their swords were silver and gold respectively, and while their shapes differed, both weapons had a brilliance worthy of being wielded by heroes. However, this battle was impossible. The era of swords had announced its end ages ago. Firearms ought to be the conquerors of the battlefield.
In that case, were they barbarians left behind by time, only existing to be mocked by the bearers of firearms?
No, that would be all the more impossible.
” — Here I come, Saber of Black!”
Gold answered the call of silver.
” — Come, Saber of Rot!”
In an instant, the ‘Red’ Saber leapt with lion-like roar. The knight’s stomp shook the earth, and the speed of the charge pierced the sound barrier. This jump was due to a skill the ‘Red’ Saber possessed called Prana Burst. By instantaneously releasing the magic power carried by one’s arms or in one’s flesh, the knight rushed forward with a momentum much like a bullet’s, and swung the weapon with ease despite its overlarge size.
The force of the jump blew away the remains of golems and warriors which had fallen to the earth. With such speed, such destructive power, even the strongest land weapon of modern war, the main battle tank, would be pulverized.
— However, while the leaping knight was one not of the ordinary, the opponent was also an existence who had reached the domain of demons.
With a fierce warcry reminiscent of a massive dragon, the ‘Black’ Saber, golden greatsword in hand, took several steps forward. Not hesitating in the slightest at the enemy charging towards him at incredible speeds, the sword he held aloft was swung down.
If one were to call the silver onslaught a bullet, then what came to intercept it was a high-speed golden guillotine. Steel clashed with steel, and the impact destroyed their surroundings to an absurd degree.
“Ha! That was weak, Saber of Black!”
“Kuh — !”
Steel masses and fighting spirits clashed, and sparks flew. There was no pity, no hatred, only powerful wills who would deny the existence of the other, and the whirl of utter joy found in facing a powerful enemy. Ever since the start of this war, their swords had already crossed ten times. Subconsciously, the ‘Red’ Saber’s cheeks drew into a smile.
Neither of them were supposed to exist in this world in the first place. They were the corporeal forms of extraordinary human beings who had left their names in history and made legends. Heroes whose names did not disappear even after their deaths but continued to live on in the hearts of people, they were known as Heroic Spirits, and the two of them were the duplicates of such — ‘Servants’ who materialized in this world to follow another.
Their thirteenth clash — and immediately after, the world became silent. Their weapons not shattered, their flesh not scattered, the two knights displayed an equilibrium that could even be called elegant, their swords continued to be locked with each other. At first glance, it was clear that the ‘Black’ Saber held the advantage in terms of physique. The difference between him and the ‘Red’ Saber was practically that of a man and a child.
However, it was in fact the golden knight who was being overpowered — and it was the silver knight who overpowered him.
The reason was, as before, the Prana Burst skill. This time, the silver knight was not using magic power to charge forward, but to augment physical strength. Right now, the ‘Red’ Saber was like a shell with its fuse lit and about to be fired.
“Uuooohhh — !!”
The ‘Red’ Saber — the silver knight stepped forward, its foot crushing down into the ground, and gave a spirited roar.
Unable to withstand it, the ‘Black’ Saber was blown backwards, but as expected of a hero, he only jumped back and did not roll around clumsily. His knees did not give out, and his expression did not change.
The sword of the ‘Red’ Saber was thrust forward. Even with the mask, one could tell that the low chuckle emanating from the helmet was dripping with scorn.
“And you call yourself a Saber, one who ought to be the ‘greatest’ amongst Servants? What a disappointment. Or perhaps this is as far as a fake can go?”
The ‘Black’ Saber became quiet. Certainly, as the ‘Red’ Saber said, he was a fake Heroic Spirit. There was no way for him to match a proper Heroic Spirit like the ‘Red’ Saber.
Even so, that did not mean he could admit defeat. To save the fallen comrades behind him — willing or no, he had to fight.
” — O sword,”
The ‘Black’ Saber chose the best course of action to bring down the enemy before him.
“Let thee be filled.”
His voice was detached. Without a single change in expression despite the incoming death, the ‘Black’ Saber so announced. The greatsword held above his head began to overflow with an orange light.
“So you would release your Noble Phantasm… ha, very well!”
The ‘Red’ Saber muttered with a growl. There was no trace of urgency in its tone. A Noble Phantasm — it was the ultimate weapon of the Servant, something that activated by chanting its true name.
It could be something which simply had incredible destructive power, or something with a special property of always penetrating and killing the opponent once released, or even something that’s not a weapon, but the strongest of shields with a speciality against thrown weapons. There are as many Noble Phantasms as there are legends.
And of course, like the ‘Black’ Saber, the ‘Red’ Saber also possessed a Noble Phantasm.
” — Well then, my Master has given me permission. Allow me to respond in kind!”
The ‘Red’ Saber took a stance with the silver sword. At the same time, the heavy face-covering helmet split into two and became one with the armor.
Their eyes met. The ‘Black’ Saber raised his eyebrows a little, as though in slight surprise. But of course, for the ‘Red’ Saber had the face of a small girl. Normally, Servants were summoned in the form of their peak. As such, most heroes were in their twenties and thirties, their prime. However, this ‘Red’ Saber was clearly too young. It was likely that she hadn’t even reached twenty.
Besides, the fair features of the girl did not conceal her brutal nature — rather, she did not bother to conceal it in the first place. In her eyes, glaring fixedly at the ‘Black’ Saber, there was a mix of the joy found in battle, and cruelty.
“…Why did you remove your helm?”
‘Red’ answered the question of ‘Black’, sounding irritated.
“It’s nothing, I just can’t activate my Noble Phantasm without taking it off first. Do you not have less trifling things to worry about, ‘Black’?”
In an instant, the space centred around ‘Red’ Saber and her sword became stained with blood. What’s more, the blade of her sword was enveloped by a radiance of blood and, giving off bizarre sounds, began to transform.
Of course, this was not the original appearance of the Noble Phantasm. The pure, beautiful and famous sword was being transfigured, by her wanton hatred, into a sinister and wicked blade fit to be wielded by a demon.
“It’s time for your execution. Come, meet an end worthy of an imitation, Saber of Black — !”
‘Red’ Saber raised her grotesque sword.
It was clear to any who saw that it would be a killing blow —
‘Black’ Saber, just as before, stood and faced her directly without any hesitation. Whether he had a winning chance or not meant nothing to him.
— It needed to be done.
‘Black’ Saber understood that. He was not risking his life, because he had no life to risk to begin with.
The orange light and blood radiance swelled instantly. The whirling air around them screamed, letting all around them know that the two Noble Phantasms were completely released.
They were truly the swords of legend. They thundered, as the stuff of dreams, phantasms which killed enemies and pierced demons in the hands of heroes who raced over the fields of battle.
In their hands were swords, they were both Saber-class Servants — and they were both enemies which the other needed to defeat.
“Clarent — ” (Rebellion –)
‘Red’ Saber raged.
“Bal — ” (Phantasmal Greatsword –)
‘Black’ Saber bellowed.
“– Blood Arthur!!” (– Against My Beautiful Father!!)
“– mung!!” (– Downfall of the Sky Demon!!)
Twilight and red lightning raced out and crashed into each other. The two flashes of light, like surging waves with simply the purpose of destruction, attempted to swallow one another.
It was the most unlikely scene possible in history as written by man. It was a clash of two deadly Noble Phantasms, from two heroes who were born in different eras and flourished in different lands.
Light filled the surrounding area and annihilated everything around them. The golems and warriors crowding around them were overcome and faded into dust.
Everyone who witnessed this majestic, unrelenting scene swallowed their breath. The space filled with crimson and orange seemed as though it was declaring the end of the world.
However, all stories must have an end. The light that had only swelled began to calm, and disappeared like specks of dust.
The ground where the two had stood was a tragic sight to behold as well.
Imagine a butterfly spreading its wings. Such a mark had been carved into the ground. It was the trace of an explosion, so enormous it could be seen even from far up in the sky.
How many people would be able to believe that such a trace was left behind by the slash of a sword? It was certain that a new legend had been born today on this land.
The impossible clash between the legendary holy sword and the anomalous demonic sword gouged out the earth.
What decided the battle between them was not their technique, their power or the respective qualities of the Noble Phantasms. The Noble Phantasm released by ‘Black’ Saber spread a wave of twilight in a semicircle centred around him.
On the other hand, ‘Red’ Saber released a straight line of crimson lightning from the tip of her sword. What decided the battle was the special traits of their two Noble Phantasms, and the distance at which they chose to take on their opponent. If ‘Black Saber’ had been a few steps closer, the battle might have gone differently.
In any case, the victor and the defeated were determined. One Servant had fallen. The other was on one knee. ‘Red’ Saber, on her knee, stood up while shaking with shame.
Filled with intent to kill, she glared at the fallen ‘Black’.
“Why are you still alive…?!”
The Noble Phantasm was a weapon which ensured death, and at the same time, a source of enormous pride. Its true name having been released, it would be a matter of honor if it did not kill its enemy. And with a Noble Phantasm crowned with the name of her father, the King of Knights, it was not pride to ‘Red’ Saber but closer to a sort of grudge.
Thus, to ‘Red’ Saber, the sole fact of ‘Black’ Saber being alive was unforgivable. Continuing to grip his sword would earn him her hatred. That he would raise his head and even attempt to stand up was something ‘Red’ Saber could never accept even if she could slash him apart a hundred more times.
Intense pain racked her body, but it would be no obstacle to any act of battle. Having used her Noble Phantasm to such a degree ought to have exhausted an incredible amount of prana, but her Master was exceedingly competent, so much so that she had the strength to move immediately after using her Noble Phantasm.
“Don’t you move, Saber of Black. I, and nobody else, will be the one to kill you…!”
She would lop off his head, and run her sword through his heart. It was a privilege only allowed for her.
The ‘Red’ Saber took a step forward.