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Antonio Izza Aldintabruthe
Black Team Headquarters

How odd.

How very odd.

He had imagined grandeur, and yet many of those in front of him were lacking. Impure, improper ingredients, already so close to their spoilage date- were they aware of their own status? If the cow knew of its own grade, would it know to weep? A ridiculous question. After all, that is the duty of the artisan. Nothing less, and nothing more. Especially that man who had addressed them. Practically pure in his impurity. A rot so deep it had become firm. A nonsensical melting pot, fondue without balance. Obscene, absurd, obstructive.

At least some of them had value, with that said. Two of them, unripe fruits. Three of them, ready to be harvested. Two of them, matured through their own means. And then there was the matter of his partner- or rather, that thing which hung around him. Yes, this was undoubtedly not a waste. These ingredients would languish without a conductor to shape them, and so shape them he would. For now, though-

"Fya, in a manner of speaking, yes! While both ourselves and 'Red' are human, 'Purple' is something that opposes humanity- joining hands to grind them into meal is obvious! But! It's not as if 'Red' is fool enough to take it as a permanent arrangement. Once the common enemy is processed down, our formal conflict will resume! They know this as well as we do. We have no reason to feign otherwise! This is a relationship! Of! Convenience! Where backstabbing before the enemy is dead will only harm us both, but where we will be at each other's throats the moment the enemy is dead! Sublime simplicity!"

Rising up as he spoke, the magus' hands shot out in front of himself as he spoke, gesticulating wildly, like a conductor managing some unseen orchestra.

"But! That is for you geniuses of massacre to manage, as I! Have! Priorities! My partner requires my work, so do not disturb me, unless it is to provide ingredients for my craft! Understood? Understood!"

With such a dialog, one might assume Antonio to take his leave of the meeting at this time. This is not what occurred.

Instead, he nodded to himself, before slipping down out of his chair, and moving under the table. Sitting on the floor, out of sight.

This was going to be a long day.

Cerzelium Orchelas

Street in 7th Arrondisement, Core District

"...so, this is a magus."

That idle hope he had was snuffed out as he saw the other's eyes. Those were not the eyes of a human being. The overlapping figure of a young man of the Orchelas, a product of Cerzelium's own mind, vanished into the wind. Because, after all, what he faced now-

“I see. The second you step forwards, you are no longer a person. You are a machine that exists to safeguard your defined future. No, not even a magus...so, then, is this a knight?”

He murmured to himself, words for only his own sake, as the boy made his descent. Yes, Cerzelium knew- becoming a machine means no longer being human. A machine is something that undoes all in the way of its purpose.

He did not know the other's past. Had the young boy thought about this when he was still a person? Had he feared taking that step? Had he been wracked with shudders at the thought before forcing that nature down, shackling it with steel?

...it did not matter. The boy's actions declared that, even if it had once existed, such fear had long since ended.

It was inspiring, for at such a young age, he had forged himself into a being that would not hesitate.

It was terrifying, for at such a young age, he had become a fixed standard born of that weight.

He could not criticize another's path. He did not have the qualifications. Yes, for after all, Cerzelium Orchelas was unquestionably a fool. If he was not, then he would not be thinking of such things for a man he may be about to kill.

“No matter how short or long one’s life is there are always regrets, and always desires.”

That presence of Cerzlium Orchelas changed. No, physically he remained the same, and magically too, but in a sense beyond either the physical or magical, in nothing other than that ephemeral concept of "presence", something changed.

"With all due respect, I disagree. We are born and burn up in life. We gain experiences, we suffer losses, and when an end comes, we feel regret and longing for what could have been. But, this is not necessary."

A child weeping for all the tragedies in this world.

A man praying for all the good in this world.

His tone was soft. A dying man lecturing one just born. A fool lecturing a genius.

"You and I may well carry regrets. Even the heroes standing beside us, shining stars exalted by faith, may. But, that is not proof of the necessity of regret. After all, a hero is someone who changes fate. That we stand beside such figures proves that the things we believe as necessary evils can be changed- can we not aspire to do the same? Beyond that, can we not aspire to exceed these heroes who inspire us?"

Magic Circuits flared to life. A simple Bounded Field to conceal the potential combat to come was formed, shoddy as the construction was. Two hands vanished into nothingness.

"Heroes shaped their legends, changing fate, with human will. The era may have changed, but the friend who stands beside me would not have given up and accepted regret and tragedy as fact, so I cannot either. Because if these figures from a bygone time managed to break through their limits, there is no reason you and I cannot."

"That is why I will acquire the Holy Grail, to disprove that axiom- so that, even if I cannot reach that same place, at least the ones I love may die without regret."

What came next was not a challenge, nor a provocative act. Indeed, anyone with the barest level of social competence could see, clear as day, that the elderly man's question was laced with nothing more than genuine curiosity.

"It is presumptuous of me to ask, but forgive me- Sir Noon Triswich, why are you a knight?"

Cerzelium Orchelas

Street in 7th Arrondisement, Core District

To make another hurt is evil.

To take another's life is evil.

To end another's dream is evil.

An Orchelas cannot be evil.

Yes, undoubtedly, evil is to be rejected. Slough off the shackles of sin and ascend. Strive forwards as shining monuments to the purity of human will, reason, and love. Prosper, flourish, and be fruitful. Offer a hand to the needy. Offer a smile to the hated. Become as a god. Such precious brilliance is something befitting mankind.

...But at the same time- Terrifying and fearful negative thoughts, and things that can certainly be called evil. These have also been gathered in this world. Even if it is justified, killing will always be evil.

It is certainly tragic that he was in this city. At the point where he chose to come to this place, he chose to commit evil.

Oh, great one, brought to the Seat of God.

My dearest ancestor. Artificial Divinity of the Orchelas.

-I announce: Here is my oath.

Before the pair of knights atop a building, a pair approached on the street below. A pair of men, one brimming with youth and one weighed down by age. A Master and a Servant.

...but, no, something was wrong. Even though a human was standing beside what was certainly a Servant, those weakest ripples of a magus's presence rolling off of his form, Noon's Command Spells did not react. The one before him certainly lacked anything of the sort.

In other words, the Master before him was either a fraud, or, even more unthinkable, he had already been forced to sacrifice all three of his Command Spells by the third night. But, for that to already occur, just what had-

"Sir Noon Triswich, your reputation precedes you. It is a pleasure. And the same holds for you, of course, sir Knight. I have hoped to meet you for quite some time now."

As if to dispel any such questions, the elderly human gave a warm smile as he called out. There was not a trace of derision or enmity in his expression and voice; it seemed that he was genuine, that he well and truly considered it a pleasure to meet the two of them here and now.

"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cerzelium, representing the Orchelas family. If you would like to fight, then so be it, but I would rather at least some manner of conversation before we resort to such things. I confess, stories of knights have always fascinated me."

Standing atop the building, men bound by duty.

Standing on the street below, men bound by love.
The second night of the Holy Grail War has ended.

The third night has begun.

Cerzelium Orchelas

Outside Apartment Workshop, Core District

...killed someone.

He had killed someone.

It had been that easy?

No, not easy. He had called upon the might of the Orchelas's god. He would not call it 'easy', that was both a disgrace to the god, and to the poor man who had fallen. He could not call it that when he had grazed so close to death. If the opponent was stronger, more prepared, or more meticulous, he would likely be the one dead.

Not easy, then, but 'simple'. He had thought killing would be more. He had half expected his heart to give out, his mind to go white, his soul to strain to a point of breaking, but there was none of that. Save for the guilt that he carried of having taken a life, he felt no different than he had moments earlier.

The thought terrified him. What he had done was surely evil, and if others could kill just as easily, that was a nightmare like no other. Was there no justice in this world? A world where one could commit evil so casually, it was hardly a wonder that there were those steeped in evil, those who hurt others for their own benefit, those who killed.

...but, was he really any better now? He had just killed someone. The enemy magus, regardless of that they had tried to kill him first, had been another person. They too had dreams, aspirations, loved ones, and he had snuffed that all out. That person's smile would never again grace the world. He had killed someone for his own benefit, so-

He forced that feeling down. He swallowed that utter revulsion. Yes, even though an Orchelas cannot be evil, he had absolved himself to commit evil.

For the sake of his family. For the sake of the ones who came before and the ones who will come after, he would stain his hands with evil.

"I'm sorry. I pray that you find peace in whatever world may come after."

He would not denigrate the dead, but nor could he afford to hesitate now. If he allowed himself to break merely from this, then that would be all. That would be a disgrace to the man he had killed. For the sake of uplifting his family, for the sake of the Orchelas reaching Enlightenment, for the sake of seeing his children cast off all their evils before age caused his own soul to rot and his mind to fall apart, he would not hesitate.

He had been careless. That heartfelt offer, that request that the other not participate in the battle, had been nothing short of genuine. Cerzelium truly had no intention of fighting, for doing that risked that he would take a life.

...how foolish.

Had he not known that doing so against a magus was suicide? That was an invitation to the enemy to prepare their strongest attack to bring him down in a single blow. In this very battle, his kindness was used as a dagger to be pointed at his own throat. Kindness? No, cowardice, his hesitance and weakness to commit evil had nearly been his undoing. He had nearly died because of his weakness.

So, he would bury that weakness down. He would encase it in layer after layer of resolve. He would seal away his hesitation, his cowardice, his desire for a happy ending, because in death this man had taught him a valuable lesson. Those thoughts had no place in a carnival of evil such as this.

"...my friend, let us depart."

In that moment, he resolved himself.

Cerzelium Orchelas will turn his mind to steel, and acquire the Holy Grail.

Cerzelium Orchelas

Outside Apartment Workshop, Core District

"...I see."

In the moment before that curse came bearing down on him, he spoke, feeling those threads of karma start to wind together- as an Orchelas, whose family was steeped in the karmic arts beyond all else, it would be remiss if he was not capable of noticing that condensation of En. The sorrow that laced the words was evident, as if the magus's heart was audibly breaking. His eyes moved from the battle between his Servant and the opponent, from that beautiful display of inspiration, to the Workshop before him, as if trying to verify something.

His heartbeat pounded in his head, his mind raced with a harsh lilt of panic. A moment later, the curse bore down on him, the full brunt of it crashing down upon him.

Hemlock could not activate the curse and take physical actions such as opening a window and launching a separate magical attack simultaneously. In that sense, there was a delay between the first action and the later ones. However, this will not be an issue; the delay is incredibly minute, and moreover, Cerzelium will not be able to respond due to shouldering the curse's burden. As he falls from the curse, he will be helpless to stop the attack that comes for his life a mere moment later.

And yet, he did not fall.

The space before him rippled as that paint shot forwards. In front of the elderly man, a 'gate' formed, a pure black hole in the world that acted as a wall. The paint-cum-lightning that had aimed for his body merely met that hole, vanishing into its depths.

The veins that preceded the vanished hand bulged out, as if the hand itself held something in an unseen white-knuckle grip.

'Rider, thank you. You are nothing short of inspirational, and I am certain you could defeat this opponent. However, an attempt was made on my life. I must respond in kind, before a more successful attempt follows.'

As the enemy's attack had been negated, then, he had been forced to react.

In the world of magi, a curse is a dangerous weapon, and is in fact looked down upon by much of the western Mage's Association for this reason. Whenever a magus curses someone, they curse themselves in the process; it is for this reason that the mantra exists- for those who embark down the path of curses, dig two graves. That resentment and karmic backlash boils up, and eventually, the user will fall to the weight of their own curses.

At the same time, cursing someone opens up a weak point. In leveling a curse, one establishes a line that connects caster and target. By firing a bullet, one exposes their position. In other words, one becomes vulnerable to a counter-curse. It is for this reason that high-ranking magi of the Clock Tower have created automatic systems that detect when a curse has been directed at them, and return fire indiscriminately.

However, in this moment, there was no sign of magecraft being used. This is only reasonable- after all, in the first place, this was not magecraft. Cerzelium Orchelas does not know of magecraft theory, of counter-curses and the defenses of Lords of the Clock Tower, of Jigmarie research or the precise nature of the curse that had assailed him, only warded off by a bout of luck on his part.

Yes, while a magus would call what came next a counter-curse, what Cerzlium Orchelas could accomplish was not something within the world of magi. It was more akin to the imposition of a primal law, something born from will rather than cognition.

'I apologize, my partner, but I will be the one to take this victory. May God forgive me.'

He had to hold back tears for what would come next. The power of that unseen 'thing' gripped in his vanished hand, the trump card he had been sent to this city with, became manifest. Against this unseen enemy who could very well have great defenses, or already be in the midst of preparing a second killing blow, he could not afford to use anything other than this trump card.

"...I'm sorry."

I had hoped that I would not need to. I had hoped that you would be kind. I do not blame you, for after all, this world is possessed by evils. However...

For violating the agreement, the other party would be paid no quarter. Unlike the curse that had been levied against him, that which struck at his opponent would bring forward an unquestioned end. There would be nothing more than a simple, painless snuffing out of life. That was all he could do at this junction.


And so, Cerzelium Orchelas took his first life.


Palais Omnisports de Paris, Bercy, Residential District

He was dying. He could feel it. That spiteful, chaotic last gasp of his Master had truly done the job, hadn't it? He could scarcely understand the nature of what had occurred- had 'Ahez' entered 'Canio', or had 'Canio' entered 'Ahez'? He could not tell, he merely knew that he now bore a body of flesh when it was once one of something else, a ghost chained to a great puppet of meat. At the same time, that very vessel was crumbling.

This was only natural. The purity, density, strength, solidity and every other aspect of a Heroic Spirit is far beyond what a human body can ordinarily sustain. Something like possessing someone’s physical body and giving them a Heroic Spirit’s abilities is impossible. Even being possessed by one for a moment was a 'miracle'.

However, Canio was different. Not only was his grade as a Heroic Spirit exceptionally low, but he was a being that excelled at 'becoming others'. Rather than a stone that would shatter a glass it was dropped into, he was water that would suit the confines of his vessel. It was thanks to this that it was possible to achieve something resembling Heroic Spirit possession, tethered together by the ramshackle pressure of three Command Spells.

Even then, though, this was an 'impossibility'. His eyes saw countless futures, countless disasters in which the body crumbled apart before it could be stabilized. Even with the factors that made this event possible, it was still merely that: possible. Canio's 'weight' as a spirit was straining the confines, like freezing a glass bottle. It would not take long before the glass shattered from the inside out, especially if he maintained his 'presence as a Servant'.

Ordinarily, even this would have been incomprehensible to him. However, his eyes now saw things that they had never seen, countless possibilities that assailed his addled mind, a mind that now knew of magecraft, of the ravings and research of a lost girl. Indeed, the 'will' that had been engraved on him remained. His Master, a manifestation of the Ideal King Phenomenon, was not so easily defeated even in death. He was now Ahez just as much as he was Canio.

His presence faded, becoming that of a mere human's once again. By putting on the costume of a human, it was possible to slow the process of the world's corrective influence bearing down on him, as well as the decay of his vessel. Useful knowledge that flowed from the mind of his deceased Master.

Yes, even if 'Canio' had expected to die, the will that had been carved into him still had a role to accomplish.

Yes, even if 'Ahez' had countless plans and schemes that leveraged her advantages, the will that had possessed her was a fool through and through.

"The overture ends."

It was time to go exploring.


Palais Omnisports de Paris, Bercy, Residential District

One could say this was the natural outcome. After all, the words he had been made to hear upon first manifesting in this world were words that struck at his heart, words that dredged up his traumas.

Yes, in one sense, Ahez was the ideal partner for Canio. A lunatic and a thespian of the same class as Canio himself. One who could take the role as a peer actor to him without the slightest of disjunction.

Yes, in the other sense, Ahez was the worst partner for Canio. There cannot be two suns over the land, there cannot be two stars on the stage. One who mirrors his madness will certainly deepen that very madness. It is said that observing the beautiful will make one beautiful, so is this in turn not a reflection of that most basic curse?

It had been trivial, a casual remark to be uttered before they departed for the night. The words themselves had no trace of malice, no inflammatory intent, they were merely 'Ahez being Ahez'. And yet, with his mind having been pared down, blue-steel shaven by the mirror of himself that his Master represented, Canio had lashed out.

One could say this was the natural outcome. Ahez laid on the floor, blood driving itself from her body with each beat of her fading heart. Before her stood the tragic clown, dirtied knife in hand and confusion on his face, as though he was wondering what had happened to bring them to this state.

"Ah, Master, Master, you really shouldn't have, you really shouldn't have-"

"B-By the order of these three Command Spells..."

A dying gasp left the Master, but the clown paid it no mind. Yes, for he was doomed to fade in mere moments regardless; with her death, he would be bound to vanish from this world. He did not seem to mind. This story was one that was doomed from the beginning. As such, it was only natural that he made no effort to stop her; an actor should deserve their last breath, after all.

"Engrave my will onto yours."


Space screamed. Under the force of three unified miracles and the simple manic whim of a dying lunatic, something impossible occurred.

"No, no! I will not put on this paint, you will not rob me of this! I am not Pagliaccio, I am not-"

A Heroic Spirit whose nature was 'perfectly becoming another'.

A human whose wavelength was sufficiently skewed to meet his.

The weight of three curses that had stepped into the realm of True Magic.


Laugh, clown, at the banality of your story.

Laugh, clown, for the show must go on.
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