Well, here we are. Anyone who happened to be holding back to review the whole thing, feel free.
Thanks to everyone who read up until this point.
Disclaimer: I own neither Blazblue nor Type-Moon.
Epilogue 1: The Empty Church.
"This concludes my report of the incident that occured at the Hyatt hotel."
As the retelling of the events of three days ago came to an end, Kotomine Risei let out a deep sigh. Truly, the Holy Grail War that should have been a straightforward victory for his old friend had turned out to be quite a mess.
And the one who had to clean it up was himself, in his position as the overseer dispatched by the Church.
"I see." How unfortunate that he had to answer such a well-presented report with bad news. "Unfortunately, we have been unable to acquire any more information regarding Kayneth El-Melloi's expriments. Inquiries were sent through the official channels."
The fact that those enquiries would, at best, receive a non-commital answer that only pretended to address the issue was something that they were both aware of.
Shaking off his irritation at the obstruction of bureaucracy, Risei continued.
"And what about you? How are you doing?"
The incongruous question seemed misplaced in a business meeting, but it became understandable when talking to his son.
"It appears that help arrived in time." All but covered in bandages and forced to use a cane to support his wounded leg, Kirei showed no sign of frustration or pain. "I should have be fully recovered by the end of the month."
Considering the gravity of his wounds this would have seemed an absurdly optimistic diagnosis for an ordinary person, but the Church had access to treatments that would have made ordinary hospitals green with envy.
To be honest, the moment Risei had found his son bloodied and lying on the ground had been the experience of his life. He had seen many friends and comrades pass away young, and the thought of surviving his son had filled him with dread.
Fortunately, it seemed that the worry that had stolen some of the few years he had left had been for nothing.
"That's good. Do not concern yourself with the handling of those who were affected by El-Melloi's curse, we have already taken steps to isolate those that we could find. For the most part, it appears as though they only suffered temporary loss of cognition. If no change comes in the next week, we will simply pass it off as a gas-related incident of some kind."
He omitted the fact that those who hadn't simply blacked appeared to have suffered from impulses of extreme violence and that some had been found either murdered or having committed suicide.
Some things shouldn't be mentioned to recovering patients, even those as strong as his son
Preparing himself to exit the room, he laid a steady hand on Kirei's shoulder, careful not to apply pressure.
"When you feel well enough, we must discuss how we will handle things with the Tohsaka from now on. We must do our best to repay the debt we have encurred for the great loss they suffered to uphold our agreement."
After receiving a nod of agreement, he left his son to his thought.
Left alone to his thought, Kirei adjusted his position on the chair as he began to patiently wait for his own recovery.
After his retrieval from the ruins of the Hyatt hotel, Risei had chosen to bring him to the Fuyuki church. Perhaps his father felt that a familiar environment and the reminder of God's presence would help his son recover.
If so, he had missed his mark once more. For Kirei, there was nothing that distinguished this room from any others. A bare room empty of personal possessions, with the misplaced bedsheets acting as the only sign that anyone had been staying there for the past few days.
Thinking about it, it had always been like this ever since he was a child.
Epilogue 2: Waver Velvet.
As someone who had flown all the way to Japan in a fit of anger, Waver had found himself faced with an embarassing fact.
He didn't have anything like a plan for what would happen after the war. The only thing in his mind when he had entered was that it would end with him seizing the Holy Grail and the lecturers of the Clock Tower bowing in apologies for the unfair treatment he had suffered.
In hindsight, he had truly been childish. It was only a few days ago that he had had such thoughts, but he now realized that there was no way that could ever have happened.
Even if by some miracle (or, rather, by his Servant's strength) he had won, there was no way that the prideful magi would honestly admit that they were wrong.
"This upstart managed to succeed through sheer luck, truly we'll have to be sure to teach the others their place."
Those would probably be the kind of thoughts that would go through their head even as they tried to convince him to share his prize with them by putting on fake smiles.
And after experiencing the past few days, he to admit one thing; even if Kayneth had treated him unfairly, he had hardly deserve the praise that he imagined he did.
He had written pretty words on a sheet of paper and thought that this made him special. In essence, he had expected to be given everything without having achieved anything. If nothing else, the Holy Grail War had shown him the harshness of reality.
He had been surprised a week later when he had received a summon from the Clock Tower. He knew he would have to return sooner or later, but the fact that they had bothered to contact him personally was unexpected.
Well, with news of Kayneth's death they probably wanted to know what had happened.
Considering his already precarious position it would have been suicidal to pretend that he hadn't received the message, and so Waver found himself waiting for his plane, nervously checking at the clock that seemed determined to move as slowly as possible.
Almost hurting his neck as he spun around, he found himself facing a priest in black. Or at least he assumed from the cross that it was a priest, he hadn't met anyone who wore it so openly in Japan. But why would a member of the clergy-
Ah, of course. Thinking about it, he had neglected to contact the so-called overseer of the war at any point. The position war only a pretense that existed to keep the Holy Grail War untouched as far as he knew, but considering how disastrously it had ended it made sense that the Church would seek out the surviving competitors.
Hopefully it was only to hear his testimony.
"I-" Swallowing his nervosity, he started again. "I'm sorry, but my plane will be here soon."
"That is acceptable." Moving around the bench with stiff movements - was he hurt? - the man sat down next to him. "I am Kotomine Kirei, the son of the priest in charge of the local church."
In other words, he assisted the overseer of the war. Waver didn't know if he was really the man's son, but as far as he could recall the overseer's name was indeed Kotomine.
After quick look around the airport, and Waver realized with some alarm that everyone appeared to have found it a good idea to move away from him while he was complaining about the time, the priest continued without waiting for his response.
"You should already know what the public believes happened on that day." The priest's expression did not change. "I am here to inform you that officially, a participant made one of his experiments go out of control after his Servant was defeated, and the Lesser Grail was destroyed in the chaos that followed."
So in the end, they weren't even interested in what he had seen. Well it was true that it wasn't very helpful, although he was probably the only one to have seen it directly.
Wait a minute.
"But there's no way that can be true." Kotomine's expression remained stone in the face of the younger man's shock. "It was Kayneth - Lord El-Melloi's workshop. His specialty wasn't anything like curses; there's no way he created that thing!"
Uncaringly closing his eyes, Kirei stretched out his right arm. It was as though he wanted to make the pointlessness of the conversation obvious.
"You are young." It felt odd to hear that kind of statement from a man that was still in his prime. "It doesn't matter if it's true or not. Now that a decision has been reached, no one will investigate further. And so, it will become the truth."
Seemingly without a care, the priest spoke words that shook Waver to his core.
It would become the truth?
In the world of magi who searched for absolute knowledge and in the world of the Church who followed the teachings of God, a lie would become accepted as the truth simply because it was convenient.
It really shouldn't have come as a shock, but somehow it did.
People had risked, lost, their lives in a conflict for the Holy Grail. He had only survived through sheer luck; he had seen greater men stumble and fall.
And yet no one would care. Their efforts, their sacrifices, would merely be forgotten and left behind because it was convenient.
The proud memory of Rider - no, even the arrogant Kayneth who had dragged him through humiliation did not deserve that.
"There's no way that can be allowed!"
Some people looked toward his outburst in surprised, but their attention soon faded.
For the first time, the man turned to look at him.
"It cannot be allowed?" Somehow, he managed to sound mocking while maintaining an utterly calm tone. "It has already been done, there is no one who will dispute it."
The words were quiet after his previous outrage, but they came from the depth of his heart.
The past few days had marked him more than the rest of his short life, and perhaps more than everything that would come after. If no one else would, then he would ensure that the truth about them would be known.
And the priest whose task was to make him accept the official word smiled.
"No one will listen to the lone voice of a child."
The fact was spoken without a trace of scorn or mockery.
With careful movements, his interlocutor rose back to his feet and repeated himself.
"I am Kotomine Kirei. If you wish to contact me, you should be able to leave a message at the Fuyuki Church."
Without another word, the man in black walked away and vanished in the crowd that had suddenly begun to move through the airport again.
"No one will listen to the lone voice of a child."
The words echoed through Waver's head.
"Then...first, I'll have to stop being a child."
The nervousness and uncertainty that filled him vanished, and he patiently awaited his return to the Clock Tower.
Epilogue 3: Tohsaka.
The so-called isolation zone where the patients from the incident had been kept was in fact little more than a nearby property owned by the Church that been kept carefully out of the media's eye.
The most that the majority of the patients were afforded was a small bed and a living room too small for their number. There was no point wasting resources on guests that wouldn't remember their stay anyway.
The only exception was a man located in the chamber closest to the fire exit, who had been afforded a room as spacious as possible.
Of all those who had been found that day, he was the only one that Kotomine Risei had history with.
As he walked through the cold, unfeeling place, Kotomine Kirei calmed his heart.
Risei was still busy with information control, so the task fell upon him to see to Tohsaka Tokiomi's wishes and recoveryé As his apprentice, it was the least that was expected.
Yesterday, Risei had freed time from his busy schedule to deliver the news that would change the future of the Tohsaka family. Kirei had not been told what Tokiomi's reaction had been, but he could easily imagine how utterly crushed his normally collected teacher had been.
Banalities that had long ago become routine when dealing with his teacher came to his lips before he fully entered the room.
In front of him, Tokiomi was a pale shadow of his normal self. Ruffled clothes, shadowed eyes and unkept hair made him almost recognizable.
In all the years he had spent at his side, Kirei had never seem him in such a sorry state. While it had been Kirei whose body had been broken and who had required emergy healing just to survive, the wounds that his teacher had suffered were deeper still.
"Is it so late already? Good afternoon, Kirei." The exhausted, distracted voice was so uncharacteristic that Kirei had to stop himself from reacting. "I suppose that you have heard the news?"
"No apologies can excuse the depth of my failure." With this indirect confirmation, Kirei bowed his head to show his shame. It was better for all involved that his eyes not meet Tokiomi's at this time. "I arrived in time to protect the one that should have been our enemy, but I could not defend you."
For Tohsaka, whose world had been shaken to its core, the cold and polite tone of his student was a support that he had learned that he could count on in the past few years.
"You were not at fault, Kirei." From the familiarity of the situation, he found the strength to speak like himself again. "Your actions were impeccable, the fault lies only in myself and in those who have passed away."
Taking the absolvement for what it was, Kirei straightened himself.
"What will be my task from now on?"
Whatever course of action Tokiomi chose, the Kotomine family would fully support him in repayment for the loss he had suffered when acting for their benefit. That was the decision taken by Risei.
Kirei who understood Tokiomi's loss even better than his father, knew it would be of little comfort.
As he prepared his answer, Tokiomi unconsciously straightened himself and regained his former dignity.
It wasn't that he had recovered from the loss, it was simply that the habit had become instinct to him.
"In order to facilitate the transfer, I will nominally stay in charge of our holdings until Rin is of age." Looking straight toward Kirei, he smiled depreciatingly. "I fear that I will not be able to act as her predecessor should in this state. As such, she will become head of the family by the end of this week."
For a magus to speak these words while still living was a testament of how crippling Tokiomi's wounds had been.
"Of you, Kirei, there is only one thing left that I can ask." The gratefulness that Tokiomi felt as he spoke the request that he knew would be accepted overcame his anguish for his own situation. "From this day forth, you are no longer my apprentice. I hope - know, that you will support Rin as faithfully as you did me and I must ask...that you take the place that should have been mine in her education. The true Tohsaka magecraft is of course out of your reach, but I know that you will be able to teach Rin to a point from which she will be able to learn it on her own."
As he grasped the outstretched hand of his former teacher, even Kirei himself couldn't tell what he felt.
"Of course, you do not need to worry. Even if my abilities are limited, Rin will certainly be able to rise far beyond the two of us."
That possibility meant nothing for Kirei, but for Tokiomi it was everything.
When she faced her father for the first time after the fourth Heaven's Feel, the young girl was at a loss.
She had been prepared - or so she thought - in the possibility of his death, unlikely as it was. But nothing had prepared her for the news that the priest had delivered.
"We were able to save Tokiomi's life, but the damage to his magic circuits was too severe."
In other words, her father would no longer be able to practice magecraft, possibly for the rest of his life.
For the head of the Tohsaka family, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that death would have been a kinder fate.
During the few days that he had spent in isolation - while he recovered, or so Kirei claimed - she had thought about what she could tell him. But there didn't seem to be any appropriate actions.
Now that she was face to face with him, he stood tall as always, full of grace. And for a moment, she irrationally hoped that the news had simply been an incomprehensible, awful joke from the untrustworthy priest.
His next words sucked that hope out of her.
"Rin." Solemn as he always was in those occasions, with a reassuring smile, he looked down at his daughter. "From today onward, you will be the head of the Tohsaka family. It is sooner than I had hoped, but it will be your task from now on to advance our research."
It was so unfair! Kirei who was supposed to protect him had escaped without a scratch, but her father had lost everything. In spite of that, he stood tall and remained as strong as ever.
Her mind did not realize it, but these were the last moments of the magus named Tohsaka Tokiomi. As such he would not allow even a trace of his inner turmoil to appear to his daughter and successor.
To do so would have been a collapse from which he could never recover.
Swallowing her own sadness to force out the words that she had never truly thought she would have to speak, she bowed.
"I swear that I will succeed, and be worthy as your successor and the new head."
She could not see it through the unshed tears that obscured her vision, but the smile that illuminated her father's face was the thing that she had always sought.
The words that accompanied it caused her to cry for the first time in years.
"That is the one thing I have never doubted."
Prologue: Kotomine Kirei.
As the sun descended in the horizon, many people who returned home from school or work passed through the small park. Some of the more carefree children had even stopped earlier to play games.
Throughout that time, the man in black had not moved from seat. A stranger like him would ordinarily have drawn suspicious stares but since his outfit marked him as a man of God, the suspicions vanished after a quick look.
It was a strange habit of humanity to assume that a position of authority made one respectable. Certainly, the man did not think that any of the passerbys would trust him if they could see into his heart.
In truth, there was no particular reason for him to be there. The situation had stabilized since the end of the fourth Heaven's Feel, he had recovered from his injuries and now found himself facing the fact that after five years he once more found himself staring down a new path. Tomorrow, he would begin Tohsaka Rin's training.
A peaceful park or the Church held about the same appeal when it came to being able to think.
"Wow, you haven't moved in hours. Are you that nervous?"
The reason why he had opted out of the Church came in the form of the surprised voice of the girl who had arrived behind him did not move him.
It was true that teaching would be a new experience for him since he had always been a student until now, but something as meaningless as nervousness would not reach his disciplined heart.
However, he could not deny that he had expectations. He had found nothing in learning from Tohsaka Tokiomi, but perhaps he would find something from teaching Tohsaka Rin.
Undeterred by the brievity of his reply, she joined him on the bench. If his black clothes made him suspicious in an open space like this park, then her light-blue cloth and blond hair would made her stand out from a crowd.
He did not know exactly what had occured to keep Noel Vermillion into existence, his early query having been answered confusedly with terms he was unfamiliar with. However, the end result was something he understood quite well; the girl standing next to him was not detected as a Servant by the special equipment located inside the Church. That difference was probably the reason why she remained even without magical energy from the Holy Grail.
If he were a true magus, he would most likely be filled with curiosity regarding the event. As things were, he only acknowledged it as something that ha heppened.
"Come on you're looking forward to it, right? You could show it a little."
If she spoke aloud assumptions that she knew were false, there was probably a point to it. Her voice was quite similar to that of a gossiping schoolgirl, but she hadn't wasted his time with idle nonsense so far.
Of course, that could simply be because of his own disposition.
"I have some hope for it, but it will likely prove to be nothing but another disappointment."
"So you don't think that anything will improve." An exasperated sigh followed the conclusion. "If that's the case, why didn't you give up? You had a good opportunity earlier, I don't think you had any obligations left."
It was true.
After the explosion, he could have certainly chosen to die. If he had given up and not attempted to get her attention, the rescuers would have arrived too late.
However while he had made a choice, he did not feel as if he had made an important decision.
"That was never another option. I will not accept to be defeated by that man." A curious gaze prompted him to continue. "Even in the end, he did not feel regret and continued along his chosen path. It was a foolish way of life for which he threw away his own happiness, but he did not turn away from it."
Lost in recollection, he did not notice the anger in his voice or the sad glint in the girl's eyes.
"That man who threw away everything I seek obtained such an ending while I was left with nothing once more. If I met my end on that day, I would yield to his way of life and acknowledge that he was right. Even in the state that I was in, I could not accept this."
As he spoke, the anger faded away, leaving behind only cold detachment.
"In other words, I lived because of a foolish hope brought about by pride. If that man sacrificed happiness in the name of his path, I shall walk forward and acquire happiness."
It was common wisdom that one acquired happiness by living in accordance with virtue and yet no matter what path he followed, happiness did not come.
Uncaringly, he shrugged.
"I do not expect anything to come from it but for now I will attempt to accept the enjoyment that comes to me without actively seeking it, as you suggested."
The choice of living was something that should have been important, brought about by anger and redefining his life.
But even at the time, he had felt no such thing. He would continue to live because he could, and he would follow the path laid out before him because it was there.
Perhaps it was his fate to walk forward without meaning until the very end.
For some reason, his negativity seemed to amuse her.
"Then I think you'll definitely be satisfied soon."
The incongruous statement brought a rare spark of surprise out of him.
"Well, you're going to be teaching aren't you?" A bright smile greeted his incomprehensive stare. "I always felt like classes were like torture, so I think you'll enjoy it a lot."
He wasn't quite certain if he appreciated the levity with which she addressed his problem or if it made him want to bash in that smiling face. Just in case, he decided to change to a less bothersome subject.
"I have what you asked for."
From his coat's pockets, he produced an airplane ticket.
"Your flight leaves tomorrow morning, I have also arranged a place for you to stay. When you wish to return, simply call me."
Her request had come as a surprise. When she had reappeared two weeks after the disaster, he had wondered what she wanted from him.
"I saw on television that there'll be election in some place called America soon? I'd really like to go see it happen."
It seemed as if the very idea of a democracy fascinated her. He had never paid much attention to the process himself, but he doubted that she would find an endless procession of people walking forward to vote as interesting as she seemed to think it would be.
Still, he had humored her request. Since he had selfishly decided not to report her presence to his superiors, it was his responsibility to make sure that she abstained from doing anything of note.
Beside, securing plane tickets was a small task thanks to his contacts.
"That's great! I can't wait!" Her excitement when she grabbed the ticket out of his hand really matched her apparent age. "Oh, but I don't really have a way to repay you right now. Hum...maybe there's something I can do?"
"That will not be necessary, simply avoid causing trouble."
After a few moments, she accepted his dismissal of her debt.
"I guess I'll consider it a reward then."
How would those who had sacrificed so much react to the knowledge that the Holy Grail was a plane ticket?
Under the watch of confused eyes and a setting sun that seemed brighter than at its zenith, Kotomine Kirei laughed in earnest.
From the Azure to Zero