Fate/Apocrypha 3 – Chapter 3 (Part 4)

It was… a strange dream.

I was racing across a great field, untouched plains of gorgeous emerald spreading endlessly in every direction. The scenery flowed past me. I knew it was a dream, but the sensations I felt in these two legs were more real than anything else.

I ran.

I was running.

Further, ever further, in an unwavering line. Indecent sounds began pouring from my mouth. Never had I imagined that running on my own two feet could bring such pleasure and stimulation.

In the blink of an eye, the scene changed and I reached a cave at the foot of a beautiful mountain.

Ah… I know this… yes, I know the name of this mountain.

This was Mount Pelion, a famous tourist attraction in Greece, and in one of its caves dwelt the famous centaur Chiron, the great sage and pride of the Greeks who educated many heroes.

By this point, even I began to understand that this was the past of my Servant. Due to the connection between us, I could see into his memories during sleep. Of course, it was possible for me to decide to cut off these visions, but that would be a waste; if anything, I dove further down the hole, tuning my level of my consciousness. It took quite some time for me to adjust – not quite having done this sort of thing before – but now, whenever I dreamed, I would be able to see Chiron.

I could see the Chiron that I did not yet know.

As I approached the cave, a boy began running towards us, calling out “master!”

Was he one of his students?

The boy jumped lightly onto the rock next to us. Looking down at Chiron with some sort of anticipation, he spoke.

“Master, let’s go out and hunt!”

“We cannot.”

I began to laugh, seeing him pout at Chiron’s curt response. The boy was very handsome, one could say exceptionally so. He felt neither male nor female, instead appearing androgynous. Yet his words and manners clearly belonged to a boy, something that I as a sister knew very well.

“It is good that you enjoy the hunt. Considering your future, it is better to be good at it than to be poor. But is it a hunter that you aim to become? No, you wish to be a hero. No one would recognize a brute as a hero. It is not enough to learn your letters. A man with no sense of music or decorum brings only shame to himself.”

Despite his advice, it seemed the boy was still dissatisfied. With a difficult expression, he grumbled in affirmation. Although he could see the logic was correct and he should not speak out of selfishness, he also knew that the rest of his day would not be enjoyable. Seeing this, Chiron smiled wryly.

“However… being cooped up in a cave for an entire day must surely be unbearable torture to you. A compromise, then. Finish memorizing the rest of your words for today, and write them onto the slate. If you finish before nightfall, I will teach you how to fight in the dark.”

“Really?!”

“There are some risks, but I am sure you will be all right. And of course, that is assuming you can remember all your words by dusk.”

Naturally, the boy had no complaints. Laughing, Chiron put his hand on the head of the boy jumping for joy, who blushed but accepted it with a smile.

I felt envy for the boy – as well as shock. I knew that Chiron had a wife and daughters, but they were all close to divine beings. The boy, on the other hand, was overflowing with the radiance of humanity. However, Chiron’s behavior towards the boy was exactly that of a loving father to his son.

“Now, it is time for your lesson… Achilles.”

Achilles.

It can’t be…

But the boy did not deny this name. In other words, he was the Rider of Red, the great hero who was likely the most famous figure of all in our Holy Grail War.

Achilles was born from the hero Peleus and his wife, the sea goddess Thetis, and they opposed one another concerning their son. While Thetis wished to complete his godhood, Peleus believed that making his demigod son fully divine would destroy the human side of Achilles.

In the end, Thetis accepted his point of view, but left Peleus and Achilles, returning to her home on the ocean’s floor. Not even a son was enough to bind the goddess to the man.

Peleus decided to put young Achilles in the care of his old friend Chiron. After all, he was the son of a hero and a goddess, and Chiron was the greatest teacher that Peleus knew. Chiron readily accepted his friend’s request and began teaching all manners of things to this highly gifted boy. Words, songs, poems, virtues, and manners; how to hunt, fight, and ride horses; and even the art of healing.

To Achilles, forced to separate from his parents at a young age, Chiron must have been a stern, kind, and attentive father.

Likely because it was a dream, the past went by quickly. Achilles grew up before my eyes, becoming tall and powerful. The shaky thrusts of his spear became god-like blows. Like a freed horse, he was unstoppable and untameable, galloping across the fields and surpassing all obstacles with his swift feet.

He was also extremely knowledgeable, of course. In the wild, he could find edible plants and fruits with a single glance, and he knew the ways to treat injuries.

The way he behaved and held himself, both as a hero and in a royal court, was perfect.

Most surprising of all, Achilles was barely ten years old when he had accomplished all of this. What a figure he must have been, to reach this age and be told by Chiron that there was already nothing left for him to teach the boy.

In any case, it was time for them to part ways. Chiron and his wife Chariclo saw Achilles off as he began his journey.

“Master… lady Chariclo… thank you for coming this far with me.”

“Take care, Achilles. Stay safe and watch your health.”

Chariclo tearfully wrapped her arms around Achilles. If there was one thing left for Chiron to teach him, it would be the importance of loving others with all his heart, as she did.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll do my best, to make sure I don’t shame myself as a student of Chiron.”

Achilles spoke firmly and steadily. He did not just parrot the sayings he was taught, but gave thought and put them into words. And he was still only a ten-year-old boy. It was clear why Achilles would become renowned as a hero even as a youth.

As always, Chiron put his hand on Achilles’ head.

“You have grown well, Achilles. However, we or Peleus are not the ones whom you ought to repay. You need not burden yourself… you are already a hero.”

Hearing these words, Achilles seemed somewhat taken aback, and gave a short nod before hastily turning his back, rubbing his eyes with his arm. Chiron and Chariclo watched the boyish gesture with smiles on their faces.

“…I’ll be off, master!”

The boy hero stepped forth, never showing his tears.

After that, true to Chiron’s words, Achilles became a hero who accomplished great deeds all across the land. However, as his mother Thetis had foretold, cruelty was visited upon Achilles during the Trojan War by the sun god Apollo, whom empowered Paris to shoot through Achilles’ heel – the only part of him which remained human – followed by his heart. Realizing that the wounds were fatal, Achilles continued his rampage until he finally fell on the field of battle. Anyone who knew the name of Achilles must have heard the story.

And so, Achilles never met Chiron again. Just as Achilles’ life ended in tragedy, Chiron also met an untimely death. What I have just seen was truly when they had parted for life.

i was jolted by the realization. There was great love between Chiron and Achilles. They were bound, as father and son. As brothers. As family.

So what was this situation that aimed to rip their bond apart?

It was the Holy Grail, of course… our great war. In other words, was I not culpable as his Master?

No, even if they did not know when they were first summoned as Servants, they had already fought each other twice by now.

It’s not my fault.

But was that not because they were Servants? Servants, who could be forced by the Command Spells if they did not follow their Master’s orders? Slaves, who faced certain death if cut from their supply of energy?

You’re making a father kill his son.

No, Archer must have accepted it by now. If he did not want to fight, he would have told me…

You don’t know the first thing about him.

I do know. I do. I know everything about him…!

I shut my eyes, wishing only to wake up from this dream.

How despicable I was. What a fool. Of all things, I had chosen to run.