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Fate/strange fake (Free-Range Spoilers)

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Quote Originally Posted by OtherSideofSky View Post
My copy of book 4 won't be here until next Tuesday, but I've translated the sample from Dengeki Bunko's site in the meantime. It covers through page 39, although it is missing pictures and the table of contents.

FSF4 sample
Give up, dear. That child is too much for us.He won't advance our family's magecraft; he'll destroy us all!
Are you telling me that child is what we get for putting up with the Clock Tower's ridicule for nearly two millennia? The Clock Tower might change its mind, true, but anyone can see they're going to crush us. Still, I'm sure that child will survive. He'll be the only one.

Why was that child even born? Is he really even ours...? No, I know. I'm sorry. You did everything you could to verify it, scientifically and mystically. You proved that he's ours beyond a shadow of doubt... I know that! I just still can't believe it! I'd have an easier time accepting it if you told me that there were still faeries and we'd been saddled with a changeling.
You know, don't you? Our family tackled that research problem 300 years ago, ultimately judged it impossible, and stored it away. That child completed it at the age of eight! No verbalization, no reproducibility; he just felt his way through it intuitively! ...Yes, I suppose you're right. You can't call it complete without reproducibility. I know. I know, dear. But still...

I'm scared. That child frightens me. Him being a gifted mage ought to make us proud. But it doesn't. It's wrong.
He doesn't make sacrifices. At first, I thought that he had too much kindness for a mage, that he was defective. But he's not even that. His purpose is fundamentally different. It's like finding out the tube you thought was a telescope was actually the barrel of a cannon. He's something... something different.
So, dear, I've been wondering. Could our mission as mages be to put an end to that child? I think that putting an end to him might be the culmination of the Escardos family magecraft.
Well, dear? It's time to prepare ourselves.
That boy is no child of ours. He's nobody. Nothing. Just a phenomenon that slipped in from some other world. We just got it into our heads that he was our son and named him.
There never was a child called Flat, just a flat expanse with some unintelligible scribbles on it... Isn't that right?


Flat Escardos.
When they learned of his existence and his "singular" nature, two men oddly expressed exactly the same thought. One was an ancient mage called the devil of the financial world. The other was a Magician who conquered the jewel-studded kaleidoscope sky. Although separated in time and space, both praised not the boy, but his ancestor, in the same words.

"I see. So, you've finally done it.
"You've achieved the 1,800 year dream of the Escardos family, which even your descendants have forgotten."

The Membrane of the Commonplace

"Next, the weather. Low pressure in west Las Vegas..."

Ordinary news flowed out of the TV. The townspeople, glad and depressed by turns at the upcoming weather, went about their business. The city of Snowfield was not panicking yet.
The seven day Holy Grail War, a jumble of mages, an unofficial US military group, and agents of the Holy Church, had begun the moment thirteen heroic spirits were assembled. On the morning of its second day, they were still enjoying the peace the world had given them. The façade, however, was beginning to tear in a visible way.
The gas pipeline explosion in the desert. The numerous pets suffering from an unknown illness brought to veterinary hospitals. The people brought into psychiatric wards by their families, who complained that they "did not want to leave town." The destruction of the historic opera house. The terrorist attack on the police station, apparently with the objective of releasing the criminals held there. The aftermath, which had spilled over into an adjacent hotel. The sudden, violent gusts of wind that had blown from the north of Snowfield to Crystal Hill, a skyscraper in the city center.
A number of incidents had taken place in the city, but they were not yet enough to destroy the daily lives of those who did not directly encounter them. At times, the "common sense" they had built up over the course of their lives paralyzed their senses. This side of panic, that common sense formed a membrane around people's daily lives that narrowly prevented them from seeing the oncoming madness. Or, perhaps, many of them had already noticed, and were trying to cling to a sense of security by feigning otherwise.

Not yet.
It's still OK.
It's not broken yet.
The city's still in one piece.
I'm sure things will be back to normal soon.

The membrane was filling up with wish after baseless wish that it would be so. That was why the people who sensed that, somehow, something was out of the ordinary felt happy, not uneasy. Happy that they were still in a full place. Happy that they were still this side of the border that separated the normal from the abnormal.

This is not to say that the people of Snowfield were especially optimistic. The city had been built up over the course of 80 years for the Fake Holy Grail War. Every part of it was under the influence of obliquely-inscribed suggestion.
Magecraft in the positions of public buildings and streets, billboards and roadside trees, which, taken individually, would appear as mere signs, even to the average mage. Like the color scheme of a scientific domain designed to produce a specific psychological effect, it was a form of suggestion that begins to function only when many layered elements are brought together or which seeped into the bodies of its residents. Accurately measuring this suggestion would require the combined effort of a mage in command of superior powers of observation and one who, like Lord El-Melloi II, possessed the skill of assembling clues from anything and everything.
That was what had made it possible for the "masterminds" to conceal for so long the fact that the entire city of Snowfield was under the influence of a gigantic, vague suggestion that would prevent panic — up to a point. That was how they had kept it from passing mages, from sociologists suspicious of the cities rapid development, and from the residents who continued to lead their lives there. That was why, when animal after animal collapsed, fears that the disease might spread to humans had been kept to a minimum.
And so, the townspeople remained ignorant as they greeted the morning of the second day. Unaware even of the fact that they themselves — perhaps the city itself — were a grand sacrifice on the altar of the Fake Holy Grail War.

Suggestion, however, can only do so much. If the membrane — the sense of security — it cast was stretched too tight, it would eventually reach its limit.
The masterminds did not care. They supposed that if reached the point of tearing that membrane of suggestion, they would already be beyond the power of ordinary residents to resist. Those of them who were particularly anxious to keep magecraft secret considered that it would be better for the uproar to vanish in an instant like a firework than to grow slowly. In short, the townspeople were not even allowed to panic.
Orlando Reeve, the chief of police, bore fresh witness to that fact as he listened to the information streaming from the TV.
"A mage's mage," he muttered disgustedly to himself, eyes narrowed, "is no different from a hard-working corrupt politician."
What about me? He wondered as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
As long as corruption stayed hidden, it was difficult for the public to tell the difference between a corrupt politician and an honest one. In which case, mages, who never entered the public eye to begin with, probably ought to be lumped in with them. There were exceptions, but from the standpoint of the general public, mages were generally evil.
Orlando was conscious that he was not one of those exceptions as he listened to the voices emanating from his office TV. It was a news program on a local station based in Snowfield. In the brief period before the next battle, the police chief — who was also a mage on the side of the masterminds — listened carefully, and in silence, to the stream of information, as if regretting that the announcer's calm voice would eventually fail.

"Our next story: The environmental effects of the gas explosion in southern Snowfield..."

Chapter 10: Day 2
Separate Mornings, Separate Pasts I

When Ayaka Sajou woke up, her mind was in the midst of distant scenery. It was not as if there was anything interesting to look at; she was racing across a level plain. She could see a forest in the distance.
She seemed to be riding a horse. She could see an armored hand gripping the reins.
A dream?
She realized that the hand on the reins was not hers. Then she realized that she could not move. Her view, however, was rapidly shifting. She guessed that she was sharing someone else's point of view. She supposed that there were dreams like that.
Despite Ayaka's best efforts to convince herself otherwise, however, the dream seemed awfully real.
"Richard!" A voice called out. "Hey, Richard!"
Ayaka's view spun around. There were more than a dozen armored men on horses behind her, and one of them was riding his horse closer. Once the horse had come to a stop in full view, its young, armored rider said:
"We came as you said, Richard, but do you seriously intend to search for it? This legacy of King Arthur?"
"Of course," she — Richard — answered the man's question. "I finally have a clue."
Ayaka experienced the strange sensation of words slipping out of her mouth even though she was not saying anything.
"You mean that drunken minstrel's gossip?"
"Exactly. Truth is cleverly hidden deep within the tales minstrels spin when they're sober. I, however, haven't got the knack of deciphering it. The things they say when they've lost their senses are so much easier to understand."
It was an absurd argument. Ayaka was shocked that such nonsense had come out of her mouth. The way of speaking, however, told her all she needed to know.
Oh, this must be...
They're calling me Richard... Am I Saber?
Ayaka finally figured it out. The outlandishness of the dream made her want to sigh. The conversation, however, was proceeding matter-of-factly without regard for her feelings.
"He only said that it was something to do with King Arthur; we don't actually know what. We have time on our hands, so it's all the same to us, but you're royalty. What is it you want so badly?"
"Oh, anything."
"Excalibur would be best, but wouldn't mind Caliburn, or Rhongomyniad, or even the shield he's said to have used in the slaying of the Chapalu. If I end up finding the entrance to Avalon and manage to catch a glimpse of the great king himself or his mage, that alone would make my life worthwhile."
The voice of the man who seemed to be Richard rang out innocently. The young man beside him gave a wry grin.
"If the legends are true, wouldn't Excalibur be at the bottom of a lake in Vivian's arms?"
"Then I shall find the Lady of the Lake and win her friendship. You know they say Sir Pelleas exchanged vows with one of them and survived Camlann Hill?"
"Wasn't he a stray knight they didn't even count as part of the Round Table? He just saw his chance and ran. Anyway, looking for the heirlooms of a hero who might not have even really existed isn't something that royalty should be seeing to personally."
"Surely there are no royals or commoners when it comes to admiring a great legend?"
Somehow, Saber seems more childish than usual. I wonder why.
They called him royalty, but the people around him acted more like good friends than vassals, and Richard did not seem to mind that one bit.
"If we do manage to find King Arthur's treasure, it will mean that all those legends are true. We can prove that those dazzling chansons de geste really happened on the ground we stand on! We've inherited the land the King of Knights and his men galloped over! That would be enough for me to accept my destiny!"
"So, if they didn't exist, you'll never be able to accept it? You never say anything reasonable," the friend shrugged exasperatedly atop his horse. "What's next? Are you going to lead us on a Grail quest?"
"That's probably a fool's errand."
"Why? What makes it any different from Excalibur or Rhongomyniad?"
"Chrétien told me. The Grail isn't something you can obtain just by seeking it; it chooses its possessor. The knights of the Round Table who went questing after it only managed to reach it because the current of destiny called the Holy Grail sought them out. So, we can't seek the Grail of our own choosing. I'm sure that, if I continue to pursue knightly glory, a fitting reason will eventually present itself."
Richard held forth on fairy tales with an air of perfect seriousness. The proper noun he used prompted a response from his friend.
"Chrétien, is it? Rumor does make him a degraded remnant of the druids who peered into the past..."
"Oh, it's true that some poets, like him and Vace, sing tales of the King of Knights and his Round Table as vividly, and as almost nostalgically, as if they'd seen the events themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if you told me they were faeries who live for a thousand years."
"Well, it wouldn't matter. It wasn't Chrétien you ended up getting your clue to Arthur's legacy from; it was a drunken poet whose name you don't even know in a city tavern. I can't fathom why you believe his tall tales."
"I'm happy with any clue at all. I'm not a king yet. It's important that I study the King of Knights' footprints while I'm still free, don't you think?"
Ayaka could not see them from her viewpoint, but Richard's eyes were probably shining. She could see his childlike expression in her mind's eye as her attention shifted with Richard's viewpoint to the plain. Then, she saw something strange.
"While you're still free? You're practically the lord of Aquitaine already... What is it, Richard?"
"...Something's coming."
It was a dot on the flat plain. The cloud of dust rising behind it, however, announced that it was rushing toward them. At first, Ayaka thought it was a horse galloping across the open fields, but it was the wrong size. Before long, a thunderous noise that seemed to be coming from it reached them, and the knights around her began to panic.
"What is it, a giant boar?"
"A carriage...? No, there are no horses... I've never seen anything like it. Does that thing have legs? How does it run? If it is a beast, I've never heard a bray like that!"
"Look, it's coming this way!"
"What speed! Run, Richard!"
Richard ignored his companions, who had begun to pull on their reins.
"Fascinating..." His voice sounded calm. "It could be a descendent of Twrch Trwyth."
More words I don't know.
Still, Ayaka did not feel particularly nervous. That was partly due to the assurance in Richard's voice. Mostly, however, it was because she recognized the thing making its way toward them, although its shape was a little different from the modern version she was familiar with.
The thing was gradually decelerating as it approached Richard. After a few more bestial roars, it came to a complete stop several meters in front of Richard.
"What is it...?"
The man who had remained at Richard's side until the end stared suspiciously at the "thing." He probably meant to put himself in between it and Richard if the need arose.
"...A carriage made of iron?"
"It's wheels are quite thick. And what's that black stuff? Some kind of leather?"
Hearing the curiosity in Richard's voice, Ayaka had a sudden realization.
Oh, I get it. This must be when Richard was alive... right?
If that was the case, she could understand their funny way of speaking. Ayaka also decided that what she was seeing must be a dream after all.
What a weird dream. I mean, everyone's speaking Japanese.
If this really was the world of the past, then the thing sitting in front of Richard and his friends would be totally impossible. Its body was decorated with steampunk gears gothic-looking iron barbs, giving it a gaudy and twisted silhouette.
Ayaka knew what it was called.
A car... Must be custom.
Confronted with an automobile that looked straight out of an action movie, Ayaka wondered what mental state she was in to produce this dream.
Well, I've been mixed up with knights and kings ever since I crossed the desert into Snowfield, so I guess I've got my time periods all mixed up...
As Ayaka considered, the situation in front of her began to change.
A banging sound started up on the inside of the car's door. The knights warily drew there swords and surrounded the vehicle.
The next instant, the — apparently poorly fitted — door was kicked open from the inside, and a man emerged. Then, the "car's" windows opened one by one to reveal things that resembled musical instruments, which began playing a twisted, cacophonous tune. Against this backdrop of noise, a cheerful voice rang out.
"Haloo, young manager of Aquitaine and your merry companions! How are you? I'm doing fine, but I surrender. Giving up and all that. So, could you maybe put away those swords for now?"
The man who delivered this easygoing speech with both hands in the air was dressed to rival, or even surpass, his car in sheer outlandishness. He wore gaudy nobleman's clothes whose coloring made him look more like a court jester than royalty. An odd hat was perched atop his head. The gears that adorned the stick in his hand turned with a distorted noise, presumably due to the workings of some mechanism.
The sight of him made Ayaka certain that this was, after all, a dream. Everything else she had seen had seemed like an aesthetically unified world. She had wondered if she might be getting a genuine glimpse into the era when knights had fought on horseback, but the man's sudden appearance had spoiled the effect in a way that seemed simply ridiculous.
"What's this?" The bizarre man continued to the knights who had yet to lower their swords. "Don't you know the words 'love' and 'peace'? Raising both hands is a token of surrender... Or is it in the culture of this period? I could wave a white flag if you like. Well, it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I'm unharmed. Non-hostile. In fact, I have the utmost respect for you — you accepted the trap I set without hesitation and even all the way out to this empty field."
"A trap!"
"Oh, damn. I went on blurted out that I arranged for the drunken poet in the tavern all on my own. Well, it's no big deal. After all, you did show up here, so my plan was a success! I've done it!"
At the man's words, the knights tightened their grips on their swords and began to slowly tighten their circle. The clownish man shrugged.
"Now wait a minute," he said, thumping his stick on his own shoulder, "try to be a bit more broadminded. Even the likes of Alexander III decided to get some fun out of it when a novel, striking and eccentric figure like me popped up before his eyes, you know?"
"Enough nonsense!"
Ayaka saw Richard's arm stop the irate knights.
"What's this about Alexander the Great?"
"Richard! Listening to a suspicious fellow like this is..."
"He is not the King of Knights, whom I adore," Richard addressed the strange man while restraining the friend who tried to stop him with one hand, "but if you name that great king of conquerors by way of comparison, I must hear you out, whatever tall tale you may have for me. Isn't that right?"
Richard then crossed his arms before the eccentric and declared with an air of dignity:
"You may continue. First, who exactly are you?"
The mystery man grinned cheerfully, clambered up onto his custom car so that he was looking down on the knights, and sang out his name in a clear, full voice.
"Admirable listening! My name is Saint Germain! Saint Germain! I don't mind if you pause at Saint, but relax and run it together — Saint-Germain! Yes, Saint-Germain! The hedonist by the name of Saint-Germain has now appeared before a great future king! This is a cause for celebration — or at least it is to me!"
"You dare stand above Richard, knowing he's royalty?" Some of Richard's companions shouted, but they were not exactly furious. They likely understood that Richard did not place much importance on his own status.
Well, all the knights here were talking casually to him, too, Ayaka was thinking when she overheard Richard murmuring something as he looked up at the man making a speech on top of his car.
"Oh-ho... That makes quite a picture."
Thinking back to what Richard had looked like when he had started making his speech on top of the police car, Ayaka decided that she was having this dream because ridiculous act had left a strong impression. The realization did not help her wake up.
"And?" Richard's voice rang loud and clear in her eardrums. "What is Saint-Germain to me?"
At that, with another shout of "admirable listening," the man who called himself Saint-Germain struck an exaggerated pose and began to speak.
"I will be a signpost on your quest to trace the stories of past heroes, an advisor to help you scent ruin, a prophet who announces the end, and at times perhaps a dove with the branch of hope clutched in its beak. That is the role the man called Saint-Germain will play for you."
"You're too greedy. In short, a court mage. Am I right?"
"Regrettably, I am no mage. Nor am I a faerie, an incubus, a hematophage, a traveler backwards in time, or a world-hopping Magician. I am merely an aristocrat and a swindler."
The man who called himself Saint-Germain twirled his stick magnificently as he went on.
"There is, therefore, no need for you to remember my name. I don't mind if you forget it immediately. I'll introduce myself again. I'm Saint-Germain. Saint-Germain, a name you might as well forget. Yes, Saint-Germain! Saint-Germain... The name isn't important; that's the man called Saint-Germain. Saint? Or Germain?"
"Come on, Richard. Hurry and shut him up."
Richard did not move, ignoring his companions, who were brandishing their swords again.
"Wait. If you are a swindler, I'd like to hear how you plan to hoodwink me."
Ayaka could not see it, but somehow she knew that Richard's eyes were sparkling like a child's.
"Ha ha. I'm not the one who's going to fool you. Faced with the world you're about to set foot in — the myriad mysteries that birthed King Arthur — you'll try to fool yourself. I'm just here to assist in that grand fraud. What I mean to say is, best regards, if nothing else. A toast to this momentous occasion, on which you walk into legend."
Saint-Germain got down from the roof of his car, kneeled reverently, and stared fixedly up at Richard's face. Their eyes met. Before Ayaka had time to think, Saint-Germain's lips moved.

"And to you behind the eyes, my everlasting best."

A shiver ran down Ayaka's spine. Instinctively, she understood: the man's last words had not been directed at Richard, but at Ayaka herself sharing his vision. And, as if to prove it, Saint-Germain followed them with a sentence that would make no sense to anyone but her.

"I presume you are peeping from the future, you lifelong stray child."

The "Vace" that Richard mentions is the Norman poet Wace. Narita has him say it with a V sound, so I kept that in my translation. The "Vace" spelling is apparently attested in some copies of his Roman de Rou, although Richard is probably more interested in his Roman de Brut. Chretien is, obviously, Chretien de Troyes, who, among other things, probably invented both Lancelot and the Grail.

Saint-Germain's car is still less ridiculous than Moriarty having Beyond the Grave's full Overdose moveset.