Fate/Apocrypha Volume 3 – Prologue
Now… let us speak of the Third Holy Grail War.
The Einzberns had suffered a disastrous defeat in the early stages of the Second Holy Grail War. Despite being one of the three great families who had a hand in the initial construction of the Greater Grail, the Einzberns were a great house of alchemists and weak in matters of war, leading to their loss.
To start anew on a blank slate, rinsed of the humiliation suffered after their defeat in the second war, the Einzberns had contrived for absolute victory in the conflict to follow. By fully utilizing the next sixty years to compare and consider all possibilities, they managed to narrow down the potentials to two Heroic Spirits.
Their first option was to alter the system of the Greater Grail itself and summon a unique Avenger-class Servant. The Heroic Spirit would be Angra Mainyu, the reverse hero who bore the six billion curses of the world. Once brought to this world, this nameless figure – crowned as the ‘king of demons’, a living calamity made for carnage – would certainly slaughter all other Masters and Servants and allow them to activate the Greater Grail.
Their second option was to abuse one of the systems installed in the Greater Grail by summoning the ultimate Ruler-class Servant, meant to be an impartial authority whom regulated the progress of the War. They would then make use of the great privilege possessed by Ruler: its Command Spells for the other Servants.
Brawn… or brains? After much contemplation, the Einzberns chose the latter. One could say that they picked the safer option; perhaps their previous defeat had robbed them of their confidence in powers higher than they.
The Heroic Spirit they chose to summon as Ruler would be a figure whom had been as close to a ‘Saint’ as you could possibly find in the Far East, where the war would take place; at the same time, the sainthood of this tragic youth had never been recognized. His name was Amakusa Shirou Tokisada.
While the Einzberns dearly wished to call forth a proper Heroic Spirit befitting the Ruler class rather than some nameless Eastern hero, the act of summoning a Ruler was already a severe interference in the normal operating format of the Holy Grail War. He was a compromise – though the overwhelming advantage of his Command Spells could hardly be seen as such. The summoned Amakusa Shirou was neither outstanding in combat nor proficient in thaumaturgy to the level of a Caster-class Servant, but he continued to win, and survive, in the Third Holy Grail War. He was ever heedful and never gambled, fulfilling his duties even as he thoroughly cemented his defenses. As the third war drew to a close, the Einzberns clearly stood closer than any other to the Greater Grail.
However, the unexpected occurred. One participant of the war – Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia, head of the Yggdmillennia clan – discovered by chance the Greater Grail and, borrowing the power of the military, embarked on an operation to seize it. After that, the Third Holy Grail War fell apart. In the brutal thaumaturgical conflict that followed, surviving Servants tore one another apart in pursuit of the Greater Grail, and the Master of the Einzberns was killed in the shambles of battle.
With the Einzberns lost, and the Tohsakas and Makiris in retreat – only two were left on the field of battle.
One of the survivors was Kotomine Risei. He was a priest who had been sent by the Holy Church as an overseer to the Third Holy Grail War – though he certainly could not have expected to bear witness to such an epic clash between heroes. Despite being not far past twenty years, his hard face – as though carved from solid rock – told any who saw it that he had lived through all pains imaginable. His burly muscles and strong bones were the foundation of a human fortress and his razor-like eyes, beady and sharp, carried a keen gaze. He did not appear to be a priest so much as a veteran mercenary and master of war.
“What… will you do now?”
Yet it was this very Kotomine Risei who spoke to the youth standing beside him with some nervousness in his voice. It appeared a scene out of some comedy to see the man, clearly greater in both age and stature, abase himself before a young boy.
Of course, any man of God who knew the nature of the youth would act in much the same way. He had been born in the Edo period, a boy of miracles who could nearly be called a saint. However he might appear to be a youngster not even in his twenties, one must speak to him in a way befitting his name.
“The Greater Grail has been taken. We certainly cannot hope to retrieve it without arms and means of our own.”
The boy murmured as he gazed around the now emptied cave. Although the Greater Grail had been seized and his Master killed, the boy did not disappear. He did not appear endangered at all by the severing of the prana pathways between him and the Einzberns. The boy had become a firm existence that established itself on this earth. Having come in contact with the Greater Grail, he had managed to receive flesh. In a way, one could say that he had been the victor of the Third Holy Grail War.
“Besides, with my Master now dead, I no longer possess any power beyond that of an ordinary human. I will not pursue the Grail.”
“I see… then…”
“I believe you said to me once, Risei-dono… that you had journeyed in order to find enlightenment within your hardships. Perhaps it is time for me to go on a journey as well.”
“I am glad to hear that. I doubt it will suffice, but please allow me to help you.”
There were things he needed before stepping forth, such as social status and funding – and Kotomine Risei was never one to mourn over loss of wealth. One could go so far as to say that – to allow Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, whom had devoted his entire life to the Lord and found only tragedy at its end, to find something new for himself – Risei would be willing to sacrifice everything.
Thus the boy changed his name and gained an identity. True to his words, he traveled the world as the foster child of Risei. However, there had been one thing he never told his foster father.
Amakusa Shirou never gave up on the Greater Grail.
If anything, he had decided to challenge the next Holy Grail War – even if it meant sacrificing the second life he so fortuitously obtained. When he had been awash in the light of the Greater Grail, he became certain that, with such power – such a miracle in his hands – he could bring happiness to all people.
The power of the Greater Grail was beyond doubt. Someone had taken it… and someone would definitely try to activate it, somewhere. Most likely, after it had gathered prana for another sixty years…
With the help of his foster father, the boy obtained a place within the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament. He simply waited for the right moment… lying in the dark for his prey… spinning his web… preparing his traps.
All Holy Grail Wars must pass through one point: the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament, the part of the Holy Church whose objective was the discovery and retrieval of holy relics. After all, whenever any conflict surrounding a ‘Holy Grail’ emerged, it was only natural that the Holy Church would become involved; even the magi would prefer to disclose such events and free themselves from the burden of attempting to hide them. With information concerning the Third Holy Grail War becoming widespread, and offshoot Holy Grail Wars appearing all around the world, whispers of ‘Holy Grails’ flowed constantly into the Assembly.
However, they were all impostors in the end. Strictly speaking, the Greater Grail of Fuyuki was also a fake – but what Amakusa Shirou sought was the one Holy Grail that had called him into this world.
So he simply waited. For sixty years, connected to the Greater Grail, reincarnated yet never aging a day due to the power of his Noble Phantasm, he lived… a miracle himself.
Many things came to pass, like clouds being carried in the wind. His foster father passed away; his brother, like his father and Shirou himself, also began a journey in pursuit of something not yet known to him. As time stretched endless, he considered and came up with many plans; what methods to usurp the rights of the other Masters; which Servants he would require in order to take the Greater Grail by force; the way they would conduct their war; how they would take the Greater Grail; and the means by which he would ensure his wish was – and continued to be – realized.
He wished for the happiness of all mankind… for innate goodness to be found in the heart of all humanity… for the annihilation of Angra Mainyu, All the Evils of the World. To this end, just how many obstacles would he have to surpass? A common man would have long since given up. A genius would have already failed. However, the boy of miracles did not break. He could not – for he bore the regrets of thirty-seven thousand people. Nothing could shake his heart of steel.
Finally, the time came: the Great Holy Grail War, a battle of seven versus seven under the Greater Grail of Fuyuki. The scale of the conflict and difference in systems were hardly concerns to him; after all, Kotomine Shirou had already accounted for all possibilities in the past sixty years.
And so Amakusa Shirou found himself standing before Jeanne d’Arc – the true Ruler of this Great Holy Grail War – with a fearless smile.
Thus the true war began. No longer would it be a squabble between magi bickering about desires and honor – but a clash that would alter the course of humanity.