Kara no Kyoukai:
The Garden’s Out Of Order
“An unbroken asphalt road,” exclaimed the battle dressed Mash with stars in her eyes. She then turned around to view the skyline, saying, “High-rises like big walls. This is… This is… I’m sure of it! This is 21-st century Japan, Senpai!”
Mash ran up to every little thing on the street, pointing towards it while exclaiming loudly in the middle of the quiet night.
“This is a ‘public phone,’ Senpai!”
“It sure is.”
“Ah! This sign is for a ‘bus stop,’ Senpai!”
“Yeah, that’s what it is.”
“Oh! That thing like a house is a ‘public toilet!’ Shall we take a look, Senpai?”
“Uh, those are segregated by gender, Mash.”
“Oh,” uttered Mash, her face blushing. But the next moment she saw- “A ‘vending machine’ that isn’t broken!”
Mash dashed over to the vending machine and began fawning over it like she’d discovered a cute puppy. As the rest of the team approached at their leisure, Tamamo said with a big-sisterly quality, “Mash really is the innocent type, isn’t she.”
“Not more innocent than I am,” supplemented Kiyohime, fully unaware of how backwards her view of herself was.
“I for one can understand how Mash feels,” said Artoria with a hint of nostalgia and pride. “The first time I manifested in ‘modern times,’ there were a great many technologies for me to take in.”
“How are you faring with those technologies now,” asked Ritsuka in a teasing mood.
“I-I am as good with them as I need to be. I’ve even mastered the entertainment functions of the ‘Smart Phone’ that Da Vinci created.”
Ritsuka smiled, since he knew for a fact that Artoria still couldn’t manage to send outgoing phone calls with her phone, meaning the device was almost exclusively a plaything for Artoria.
“Senpai! I think this is where you insert the money! And there are labels on this vending machine for things other than water and energy drinks! Lets see…”
Mash then proceeded to list out the brand names of multiple beers and alcoholic beverages, and then asked if they could buy some in order to see the machine in action.
“Ah, Mash,” said Ritsuka, trying to divert her attention without giving Mash the idea that something was wrong. “That particular vending machine isn’t meant for, uh, our demographic.”
“Is that so,” asked Mash, in confused wonderment. Then she excitedly ran off with her own deduction, stating, “So vending machines have subcategorization of purposes in Japan!? How wonderful!”
Mash gave the machine one last entranced look before moving on to the next everyday wonder of the city. The exploration team moved to follow, but Tamamo lagged a bit, staring at the vending machine.
“Are you alright, Tamamo,” asked Ritsuka, which caused Tamamo to jump with a small start.
“Ah, I’m fine Danna-sama, I was just wondering about… recipes I could cook for you using those as ingredients.”
Tamamo had a stiff face, and her ears and tail were twitching unnaturally. Ritsuka was going to ignore it, but Kiyohime mercilessly declared, “Lush.”
“No! That’s not it at all, desu! I was… I was just wondering what it tasted like, is all…”
“Now, now, Kiyohime. The divine beings of the east have always had an appreciation for sake, it’s only natural for her to be interested. Tell you what, Tamamo. After the mission, we’ll try and get some beverages for you to enjoy. Unfortunately, I don’t have any yen on me to buy you anything right now.”
“Ah, Danna-sama is so kind to me, desu,” stated Tamamo with tears starting to form at the corners of her eyes. Ritsuka didn’t know if she was actually touched or if she was just looking forward to trying some new flavors of alcohol. Mash dashed back up to the exploration team at that time exclaiming, “The city seems so quiet and the streets are so clean, Senpai! It’s the perfect example of a safe city! Unfortunately, I have not yet located one of the places that never sleeps-”
Ritsuka had a flash of dread that Mash had been taught about red light districts by one of the more mischievous members of Chaldea, but Mash ended her statement with, “The so-called ‘Convenience Store.’ This place really is just like what I’ve read. One of my dreams has come true!”
“Wait, it was your dream to visit a Japanese city,” asked Ritsuka. He’d never taken Mash for a Japan-Crazed westerner before. She didn’t walk around going ‘Ninja, samurai, ninja’ after all. Catching herself, Mash embarrassedly explained herself.
“Ah, no. I’m sorry, I got carried away. It’s not that I dreamed of visiting a city in Japan, specifically. Tokyo, Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Rome, Madrid… Any major city would really be fine. I just wanted to visit one from the era I live in.”
“Oh, Mash was home schooled or something, right,” asked Ritsuka, remembering the conversation about the Japanese school systems from months before. “I guess you’re more used to living in the countryside or something?”
“Ah, that is-”
As if interrupting Mash on cue, Dr. Roman’s face appeared from Ritsuka’s Comm Watch.
[Hello, test, test. Communication, video feed, both working fine. Ah, as I thought… Judging from these coordinates and time, I predicted your destination to be a city in Japan, but I didn’t expect it to be such an urban area. This seems pretty fishy to me.]
“True,” said Artoria, her instincts leading her to the conclusion that was hinted at. “In a world that has been completely ruined, a normal city is the most abnormal thing that could be.”
“Yes,” agreed Mash, finally shifting into serious mode. “The only normal life-form responses in the area are from our investigation team. But… I’m also getting some higher-class life-form responses from that building.”
[The cylindrical one,] asked Dr. Roman. [It sure does look weird. Gudao, can you tell us anything about it?]
“What, aside from how avante garde it is,” asked Ritsuka as he squinted his eyes slightly to allow them to really See. And what appeared were lines of flowing power like those he’d see in Vlad, or Gilles. Necrotic flows of power with death interwoven inside them. The outside of the building was bright, happy, clean. But just under the surface was something terrible.
“Danna-sama, I can sense a great curse or grudge inside of that building. Even with it being contained, even from this far away, I can tell. There is something awful about that place, desu.”
Ritsuka nodded, and Mash said aloud, “I agree with Tamamo. I’m getting the chills just looking at it.”
[Anyway, that building is undeniably suspicious. I’m picking up readings of multiple Servants inside as well.]
Mash nodded and analyzed, “No obstacles detected from here to the building entrance. Let’s go there and-”
“Wait, Mash,” interrupted Artoria who’s battle senses were unmatched. “There’s someone around the entrance of that building, they appear to be in battle!”
[Feed me those readings! We have multiple strange signals… These are residual wills- ghosts! And what appears to be a Servant fighting them!]
“Let’s hurry,” called out Ritsuka to the investigation team. Everyone responded, even the still slightly drowsy Kiyohime, and the entire team broke into a full run. Ritsuka was running at his highest speed, but the other Servants had no problem keeping up, even the ones wearing sandals. None of the Servants dashed ahead of Ritsuka, not willing to leave him unguarded. Their Master had had too many close calls with death already, and they were not about to leave him vulnerable. The safety of the unknown Servant was of far less importance than that of their Master. During the dash, Dr. Roman analyzed the readings he was being fed about the battle aloud.
[Wait! I’m not picking up any more ghost readings! They didn’t disperse, they… disappeared! As if they’d been completely erased! Wait, that’s a little scary, isn’t it!? What is this!?]
“We’re closing in on the site of the battle, Master, please do not step to the front,” asked Artoria in her half-commanding, half-requesting way. Ritsuka nodded in agreement to avoid having his breathing disturbed while he ran.
Closing the distance, Ritsuka heard the voice of the person ahead of them say something in Japanese about being in a shitty half-assed nightmare. The battle was over, and the Servant ahead of them was not injured or in any danger. But the person had their back turned, Ritsuka couldn’t see who it was.
“Identify yourself,” called out Artoria in the lead with Mash flanking her, while Kiyohime and Tamamo were in the midfield of the potential battlefield to make sure nothing could reach Ritsuka. The mysterious Servant turned around with a scowl on her face that hardened her pretty features. She had jaw length straight hair, dark eyes, a slim body with long limbs. She was… actually quite good looking in a way that Ritsuka had not seen in a long time. In a ‘regular Japanese” kind of beauty that reminded him of-
Shiki? What are you doing here?
-Home. There was a slight feeling of… familiarity?
“Anchin, do you know this woman,” asked Kiyohime, a touch of jealous paranoia in her voice.
“No, I don’t know her. With that combination of a kimono and a leather jacket, she’d be pretty hard to forget,” said Ritsuka truthfully. Kiyohime, the living lie detector nodded, but didn’t seem wholly satisfied as she turned back to the Servant that had not yet put away the knife she’d fought with.
“An unknown Servant, as I suspected,” said Mash to the air. The second part she said so the Servant could hear and understand their intentions. “Let’s try to talk to her first.”
“Yare, yare. Motto bakemono, ka,” was all the girl said. Then, she began to move in a low dash so quickly that she blurred. Moving straight for Tamamo. Despite the game Tamamo talked about being a potential incarnation of destruction, she was actually a sweet natured person. So she was half a step later in reacting to being attacked than a warrior would have been, which left her open to the Servant’s surprise attack. Ritsuka was mentally panicking at the thought of seeing Tamamo cut by this stranger, when a second blur intercepted the charging Servant, causing the knife to strike and spark against Artoria’s sword that was concealed by invisible air.
Tamamo’s tail had bristled in surprise while the stranger exchanged another few strikes with Artoria, and then the mysterious girl’s eyes reflected light in a rainbow of colors. Ritsuka was looking at the battle with his Eyes that Can See, and the flow of magical power through the stranger’s eyes was… beautiful. It was like watching the sun play with the mist of a waterfall.
Artoria was poised to intercept a slash from the girl with her gauntlet, but upon seeing those eyes, decided to evade instead. As a result, the ordinary knife cut through only a portion of Artoria’s gauntlet and forearm instead of removing the entire hand. Artoria pressed forward again, ignoring the pain to chase away the Servant as Mash closed in on her. The mysterious Servant had no choice but to break off their attack or be surrounded.
“Tamamo, heal Artoria,” said Ritsuka quickly from behind Kiyohime, who’d moved to protect him from the enemy who’d dashed into their formation. The words pulled the fox-lady back into the present. As Tamamo used her power as a shrine maiden to bless and heal Artoria, Ritsuka took a few steps toward the mysterious Servant and called out to her, even while Artoria, Mash, and Kiyohime readjusted their combat position to cover for Ritsuka’s movement.
“Please wait,” called out Ritsuka in Japanese. “We’re not suspicious people!”
The Servant looked at the two small forgein girls wearing plate armor, the kimono clad girl with dragon horns, the scantily clad fox shrine maiden, and then back to Ritsuka. She then lifted a sardonic eyebrow.
“Okay, yeah, we’re suspicious people,” admitted Ritsuka in the face of that eyebrow. “But we’re not bad people. Can we please talk? It feels like there’s been a misunderstanding.”
The mysterious Servant eased up slightly, and put her knife away saying, “Hmph. Whatever. Just don’t get in my way.”
Before the Servant could finish turning to walk away, Artoria shouted, “Wait!” Artoria eased up her own combat stance into a defensive one, but remained at the ready as she made her inquiries of the unknown Servant. “That knife of yours. There is nothing special about it. How were you able to use it to cut through armor and body without any difficulty?”
[That Heroic Spirit has Mystic Eyes,] said Dr. Roman as though in a stupor. Ritsuka’s wariness went up, wondering if his own eyes had been getting monitored and measured like the young woman’s eyes had been just now. But Dr. Roman continued on without noticing any change with Ritsuka.
[I can’t believe Mystic Eyes of this level still exist in the modern era. In the world of Magecraft, magical eyes that can perceive all things mystical are called Mystic Eyes. These eyes can project phenomena without casting any sort of chant or ritual. They just need to look. The most popular types are Binding, Compulsion, Contract, Flame, Illusion, and Jinx. Even among them, that Servant’s eyes are special. The type that can ‘Stop’ everything, it’s even more powerful than Petrification. Her rainbow eyes materialize the concept of death and capture it. If I had to give her eyes a name, I’d call them the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. How incredible! That’s an ability fit for a Divine Spirit! To kill an enemy just by looking at them… Talk about overpowered!]
“Wait,” muttered Ritsuka to himself, sensing that Dr. Roman’s speech didn’t match up with the contents of the battle Ritsuka had just witnessed. “That doesn’t seem right.”
But whatever Dr. Roman’s exclamations were, they caught the attention of the unidentified Servant, who stood in her place away from the exploration team with a miffed expression on her face and asked, “What’s up with him? He sounded so fake and unimportant.”
“That actually sounds about right,” admitted Ritsuka, and the other members of the exploration team nodded lightly. Dr. Roman whined lightly over the communications from the double barrelled denial of his existence.
“Anyway, I’m not a Heroic Spirit,” said the young woman while sliding her hands into her jacket pockets. It seemed she was letting her guard down a little from Dr. Roman’s disappointing outburst. “I can’t kill anyone just by looking at them.”
“All I can do is see death,” said the Servant with a shrug. “Lines that trace death. Like… the eventual end of all things. Would you understand if I say I simply trace the cause, the result of eventual death?”
“Oh, um, I see… The, uh, lines that trace death… The, the eventual end of all things.. Y-Yes…”
Mash was having a hard time understanding the concept. Artoria looked like she had a big question mark on top of her head. Kiyohime couldn’t be bothered… and Tamamo seemed very spooked by the conversation for some reason. Even the mysterious Servant seemed like she was having a hard time explaining it. But, really, it wasn’t that hard of a concept.
“So you’re slashing a person’s lifespan itself? Causing their eventual death to manifest right away, with the cutting of their body really being a secondary effect of your ability?”
“Senpai, you understand!?”
“Huh, that was easy,” said the Servant in surprise as though a hard conversation to have was just cut very short. With a satisfied smile on her face, she continued with, “Hey, you must be a big otaku, right? Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.”
Even though her words were a bit harsh, her attitude was anything but. She actually seemed really happy that she could be understood. Since the other members of the exploration team seemed to be in the dark about Ritsuka’s train of logic, he explained that, “It’s pretty simple to understand if you use Atropos of the Three Fates of Greek Mythology as an example. She was the one who cut the thread of people’s lifespans at the time they were destined to die. If you connect Atropos’ thread with the idea of that girl’s visible Lines, then it’s a pretty simple correlation.”
“So, I wasn’t imagining it then. I really almost died,” said Tamamo shakily as she hugged onto Ritsuka’s arm for comfort. Ritsuka started petting Tamamo’s head to soothe her, saying, “There, there.” Seeing an opening to exploit, Kiyohime glomped onto Ritsuka’s back while giving a pathetic performance of fear, saying, “Ahhh, so scaryyyyy.” Even though Ritsuka’s confused discomfort with the situation was clearly visible, the unknown Servant seemed a bit miffed.
“Whatever,” the Servant said. “Hey, you there! The slippery-looking one!”
“M-Me,” asked Mash. Well, her outfit did kinda look like a trimmed down wetsuit.
“Of course! Who else could it be? Physically, you’re not a complete… the word is Servant, right?”
“R-Right. I’m a Demi-Servant, so you could say that my base body is human…”
“I see. I thought you were all that shadowy bastard’s allies,” said the girl and then continued on almost to herself. “That man’s eyes are glittering. I guess that rules out the possibility of being possessed by some weird illusion. My bad for attacking you. All right, see ya.”
That was probably the most apologetic the Servant was ever going to get for what had just happened, and it was said in the absolute most offhand way while she turned around to walk off. None of that bothered Ritsuka. But there was something in the back of Ritsuka’s mind-
I can’t let that miracle come to nothing!
-that said that if he let her walk off now, he might not see her again.
“Wait! Hold up,” called out Ritsuka, getting the Servant’s attention again. This time he moved more forward to the front lines of the formation, stumbling a little with Kiyohime trying to hold him in place. Tamamo seemed a little better, but Ritsuka still turned apologetic eyes to her before turning his attention to the unknown Servant, “What are you going to do on your own?”
“I’m going to tear down this apartment,” said the girl after half turning back towards the Chaldeans. It was the sort of pose a protagonist would make. “I can’t just leave it like this. It’s crawling with disgusting things inside. If I let it be, it’s going to cause trouble for the neighbors. Do you guys watch horror movies?”
Ritsuka gave a shrug that said ‘of course,’ while his mouth said, “I’m Japanese.”
“Then you know the deal. Things like walking corpses, ghosts you aren’t supposed to see; things like that are running rampant in there. All because of those Servants inside.”
“Because of… Servants,” asked Ritsuka, dumbfounded.
“Yeah,” affirmed the girl with a nod as the wind caught her hair, adding a dramatic flair to her words. “Servants live in that apartment building like it’s their home. Thanks to them, it’s all becoming one big block party. What I mean is… Servants… they’re kinda like ghosts, right? If they gain physical bodies, others will get carried away too.”
“Dr. Roman, could a high enough concentration of Heroic Spirit spiritron particles cause something like that,” asked Ritsuka in a whisper to not interrupt the Servant.
[Theoretically… but I think this place had problems even before Servants showed up.]
The mysterious girl continued on after a moment of introspection, saying, “As for myself, I am also showing up as a Servant. Well, if that girl over there is a Demi-Servant, I guess that makes me a Pseudo-Servant. Most likely I had a connection with this building, so I ended up being summoned. It’s really annoying.”
“If you’re not a true Servant, how do you know all these terms that only someone associated with Heroic Spirits would know,” asked Artoria with suspicion.
“I dunno,” said the girl while shrugging. “It’s like the words and their meaning are just coming to me, like a half memory, whenever they come up. Man, this is such a strange setting for a dream.”
“Well, whatever kind of Servant you are, you’re going to need a Master,” said Ritsuka. He still had more than enough magical power to support another Servant, and he wasn’t about to let this girl go off on her own, no matter how skilled she was. But the girl herself was very casual about her own life.
“Who cares,” she asked. “If I vanish from lack of magical power it actually saves me some trouble. At least I don’t have to go through this ordeal.”
The Chaldea Servants seemed surprised by this attitude, but since Ritsuka was the one who was actively being addressed, he was the one who reacted with genuine worry for the girl and her outlook on life.
“I… can’t tell if you’re just being pessimistic or if you just don’t care about yourself. But there must be, there has to be a reason that we met here,” said Ritsuka with a sincere conviction that he had no idea where it came from. Hearing that, the Servant seemed distracted by something, like a stray thought at the back of her mind for a split second. “If you don’t have a Master, then why don’t you work with us? With Chaldea?”
“A reason, you say,” asked the Servant back, partly amused and slightly intrigued. “This, too, must be my fate… Well, I don’t exactly hate the idea.”
Stepping closer, her brown combat boots gripping the ground with each movement, the girl said to Ritsuka, “You’re that Master thing, right? If I helped you, that really would make me seem like a Servant.” She tipped her head lazily to the side, her dark hair slid like silk about the frame of her face which carried a mischievous grin. “I’m merely an outsider who was summoned here. I don’t intend to concern myself with others. However,” the girl planted herself in front of Ritsuka, looking up at him without losing any of her powerful dignity. “I want to pay back that despicable shadowy bastard. So maybe-”
“Fou fouu,” yipped Fou who was leaning over the crest of Mash’s shield to get a good look at the unfamiliar Servant. The Servant in question froze up, almost as if-
There is a part of her that recognizes what Fou is.
-She was stunned by his cuteness.
“Fou,” exclaimed Mash. “Were you hiding in my shield again?”
The serious atmosphere was completely demolished by cuteness As Mash picked up Fou with her left hand, the critter ran up her arm and sat on Mash’s shoulder and head. The unknown Servant stared a moment and asked Ritsuka, “Are you kidding me? What is that furball?”
Ritsuka gave a powerless shrug alongside an amused grin and said, “You never know when Fou will show up.”
The Servant was quiet for a long moment, stared at Fou and Mash, then back to Ritsuka, scratched at the back of her head in frustration, looked back at Ritsuka and finally said, as though trying to make a speedy admission, “Ryougi Shiki.”
“What,” asked Ritsuka, caught off guard.
“That’s my name,” stated Shiki flatly, a small blush of embarrassment touching her cheeks. “And you, what’s your name?”
Ritsuka smiled, happy to have made another friend, and said, “Fujimaru Ritsuka. Nice to meet you,” while bowing slightly. Just enough to be polite, but not enough to be stiff.
“My name is Mash Kyrielight.”
“Kiyohime. Please take care of me.”
“Uh, are we really…? Haaa~ Tamamo no Mae. I hope to be on good terms with you, desu.”
Shiki took in the names, and nodded, and then exclaimed, “Wait, King Arthur Pendragon? The Kiyohime, and the Tamamo no Mae? What kind of group have I just joined up with?”
With Shiki’s epiphany, Ritsuka just grinned the sympathetic smile of a person who knew exactly the kind of mental torment another person was about to go through. With a hopeful smile on her face, Mash asked, “Does that mean you’ll be helping us, Shiki-san?”
Shiki sighed as though she’d given up on something important and said, “Well, if you think about it, the fact that you’re a Master probably means you’re related to the Servants living here somehow, right?”
“It’s likely they’re the ones who disappeared from Chaldea, yes,” admitted Ritsuka.
“In that case, you’re supposed to be the ones to get rid of them, not me. Good luck with that. I’ll be giving you a hand with it too, though, so don’t worry.”
“Thanks a ton, Ryougi-chan,” said Ritsuka with a mischievous grin in order to lighten the mood. They’d just made a friend, it should feel more like a celebration than a resignation.
“You can just call me Shiki, there’s no need for you to use an honorific. For some reason when you do that it makes my skin crawl. And besides, aren’t you embarrassed, using ‘chan’ all of a sudden?”
[Oh… I was keeping my mouth shut because she didn’t look like the type who could take a joke… But I’m glad it worked out!]
“So, shall we form a temporary contract, Shiki,” asked Ritsuka, extending his hand. “If you heed the Throne’s call and obey my will and reason, then answer me. I hereby swear that I shall be all the good in the world. That I shall defeat all evil in the world. What say you, Guardian of Balance?”
Shiki looked at Ritsuka’s outstretched hand, and in one swift motion, slapped her own inside his grip, and squeezed as though it were a hearty handshake. “I accept,” she said. “For now at least.”
Ritsuka squeezed Shiki’s hand back as rainbow colors swirled above Ritsuka’s Command Seals, a friendly smirk on the face of both the Master and the Servant.
Event 8-0 | Event 8-2