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The Holy Grail War (聖杯戦争, Seihai Sensō?) is a competition that decides the ownership of the Holy Grail through intense battle royale. While there have been many conflicts over supposed Holy Grails in the past, this term refers to those specifically based around Masters, usually proficient magi, summoning Servants, Heroic Spirits brought forth as familiars, and meeting in battle until only one pair is left to claim the Holy Grail.

Fuyuki

The Holy Grail War of Fuyuki, also called Heaven's Feel (ヘブンズフィール, Hebunzu Fīru?), is a ritual that has been ongoing for two hundred years. Established by the Tohsaka, Matou, and Einzbern families as a means to reach Akasha, it is currently thought to be only a competition for something recognized as a possible Holy Grail. Seven magi are chosen by the Grail as Masters and, with support from the Grail, allowed to summon seven Servants to do battle. The winning pair is supposed to be able to claim the Holy Grail and utilize it to grant a wish for each of them. Its true purpose is to actually utilize the seven Servants returning to the root as a way to form a hole directly to it.

There has yet to be even one true winner who actually claimed the Grail in all five wars, and due to Angra Mainyu being summoned in the Third Holy Grail War, it would be impossible for a winner to have their true wish granted in most cases. The Grail, which is normally "colorless", was corrupted and turned into a manifestation of All the World's Evils. It cannot grant wishes without also causing great destruction, though only the Einzberns are directly aware of that fact. Overall, it is a minor event in the magi world. The stakes could be considered the highest up until the Second War, as the Church became involved afterward.[1]

History

The original purpose of the ritual was to recover the Third Magic lost by the Einzberns, the "Cup of Heaven." Justizia Lizleihi von Einzbern, Nagato Tohsaka and Zouken Makiri created the system in order to create a gate leading to Akasha. At that time, the Mage's Association and the Church were locked in a battle to the death, so a land in the Far East, where the Church could not monitor, was chosen. Einzbern prepared the vessel for the Grail, Tohsaka called forth the Servants, and Makiri designed the Command Seals that command the Servants.

The Holy Grail War itself was devised by Justizia, and she was to become the key of the ritual. The Great Grail was created through forming a large circuit from many multi-layered Crests carved onto a bare rock over fifty meters in diameter. It was covered in multiple layers of circuits, while its many geometric figures turned in place. Justizia stood in the center of the it, and became the key to reenacting the Third Magic. The Holy Grail would have only been just a Holy Grail without her, as her will was required for Heavens Feel. The process was overseen by Kishua Zelretch Schweinorg.

Currently, only the Tohsakas want to reach Akasha, while the Einzberns and Makiri only want the completion of the Grail, that is, the revival of the Third Magic. However, both Zouken Matou and Shirou Emiya note these ambitions are apparently impossible as there was never a victor for the past four Heaven's Feels and the Grail became corrupted by Angra Mainyu after the Third War.

The Fuyuki Holy Grail system was created in 1790 by the Einzbern, Makiri and Tohsaka families in Japan, Fuyuki City. It took about 10 years to gather enough mana to start the very first Holy grail war.

First Holy Grail War

The First Holy Grail War took place around 1800.

From the point of view of the Einzberns, the first time ended before the completion.

The evocation site of the Grail was held at Ryuudou temple on Mount Enzou.

Second Holy Grail War

The second war was held around 1860's.

The second Grail War pointed out shortcomings in the rules.

The evocation site of the Grail was held at Tohsaka mansion.

Third Holy Grail War

The Third Holy Grail War took place in the 1930s, held on the eve of World War II.[2] The fourth evocation site was confirmed and established, later becoming the center of the developing residential area of Shinto, the Fuyuki City Hall. Jubstacheit von Einzbern prepared the Einzbern forest and castle as the family's headquarters. The Tohsaka and the Edelfelt families were participants. The Edelfelts had two Masters, each with the same Saber-class Servant due to their unique Sorcery Trait. The Enizberns, tired of losing out on reclaiming the Third Magic, subverted the usual system in an attempt to summon the Zoroastrian god, Angra Mainyu. They obtained Avenger, which replaced the Berserker-class, but he was a weak Servant without any abilities.

During the course of the War, there were battles over the Lesser Grail with the Imperial Army and the Nazis as well, and the fighting unfolded in the Imperial Capital. Avenger was lost early during the conflict, while upholding the Saber class' reputation, at least one of the Edelfelt sisters made it to the end. They were ultimately defeated by the Tohsaka, and the fate of the younger sister is unknown. The older sister ran away from the country, promising never to come back. The Lesser Grail was destroyed during the battles before the victor could be decided, so the ritual became meaningless and failed. The evocation site of the Grail was set to be at the Fuyuki Church.

There was a meeting held at a suitable time that appointed the then young Risei Kotomine as the supervisor for the next Holy Grail War. The ritual ended in failure, but Avenger, Angra Mainyu, was taken in and the Greater Grail was contaminated. Up until that point, only true Heroic Spirits were summoned, but that contamination allowed for "something other than a Heroic Spirit" to be summoned during later Holy Grail Wars.

Fourth Holy Grail War

The Fourth Holy Grail War took place around the 1990's, supervised by Risei Kotomine. The corruption caused by Angra Mainyu took effect, allowing for the summoning of improper Servants like Gilles de Rais. The destruction of the Lesser Grail during the previous war led Jubstacheit von Einzbern to develop inside the body of a homunculus, leading to the creation of Irisviel von Einzbern. While the Holy Grail manifested, Kiritsugu Emiya, realizing that it could not grant his wish, effectively betrayed his Einzbern patrons by destroying it. The contents of it spilling out caused a large conflagration that killed five hundred people and destroyed 134 buildings. The only survivors of the participants were Kiritsugu, Kirei Kotomine, and Waver Velvet. Gilgamesh, through being incarnated by the mud of Angra Mainyu, also managed to still exist in the world.

Due to the inconclusive termination of the War, the Grail's failure to grant a wish to the selected victor, Kiritsugu, and the victor's subsequent destruction of the Grail, it resulted in the premature occurrence of the subsequent Fifth Holy Grail War only ten years later.[3] The unexpended thaumaturgical energy accumulated through the elimination of Servants was recycled due to the destruction of the Lesser Grail before the Greater Grail could direct the accumulated mana to establish its pathway, thus trapping some of the unused mana within the Grail.[4]

Kiritsugu had planned to end the ritual as of the proper scheduled time of the Fifth War by arranging for the physical collapse of the Great Grail System before the originally estimated date. It involved utilizing stocked dynamite and the manipulation of leylines to ensure a severe localized earthquake in the targeted area within thirty to forty years of the Fourth War. The premature occurrence of the Fifth Holy Grail War and the subsequent destruction of the ritual means that it no longer has a purpose.

Fifth Holy Grail War

The Fifth Holy Grail War took place in the 2000s. This is when Fate/stay night takes place.

Ultimately, Shirou Emiya is the victor of the Fifth Holy Grail War though due to the danger of the tainted artifact he chooses to destroy it and ensure the malice will not create another disaster again.

Dismantlement of the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is dismantled ten years after the Fifth Holy Grail War in the 2010s. Lord El-Melloi II, a previous Master in the Fourth Holy Grail War, arrived in Fuyuki with Rin Tohsaka to set out to completely dismantle the Great Grail. This development was against the Mage's Association's plan of reestablishing it, so the two sides were opposed. It caused great turmoil of the same magnitude as a Holy Grail War, but the end result was the Great Grail's dismantlement. This caused a complete conclusion for the Holy Grail Wars of Fuyuki.[5] With the destruction of the Great Grail in the Heaven's Feel route, it is unknown if the same events would play out.

Procedure

The Great Grail requires sixty years in order to amass enough mana to summon Servants, making the planning period span over generations. If the Grail is unable to utilize its energy, the time can be as little as a decade, such as in the case of the period between the Fourth and Fifth Wars.

The Grail selects potential Masters anywhere from years in advance to right before the start of the Holy Grail War. It favors those from the three founding families and then picks out suitable magi through a mostly unknown process. There can be more than seven potential Masters, but only the first seven who manage to summon Servants gain Command Spells and the right to act as a Master. It is possible for other unchosen people to gain the right to act as Masters by contracting with Masterless Servants.

The Servants can be summoned in advance as well, but more than two months, such as in Berserker's case, is an anomaly. They can be summoned far away from the site of the ritual, allowing them to be initially summoned in Europe and then brought to Fuyuki. While played off as only a battle royal where the winner is granted a wish, the real point is to fill the vessel of the Grail with the souls of all Seven Servants. Defeated Servants revert to being pure energy and, while the would normally disappear from the timeline by returning to the Throne as information for the true Heroic Spirits, the Grail stops that process temporarily and collects them.

It is possible to make a wish upon it with only the power of five Servants, allowing it to grant most wishes. It is still incomplete, and will take at least six to bring it into form. Its true purpose, opening a hole to the Root, requires all seven Servants. Once the vessel is filled, the energy of the Heroic Spirits returning to the "Throne" is used by the Great Grail in a ritual to open a "hole" leading to Akasha. Due to the corruption of the ritual, most wishes will require great destruction. Kiritsugu Emiya realized Grail had been tainted when it presented him a vision of how it would grant his wish - instead of saving humanity, it showed him a utopia would exterminate all of humankind besides him, his wife, and his daughter; as a result, Kiritsugu rejected the Grail and attempted to destroy it.

Supervision

The First and Second Wars went unsupervised, but the chaotic Second Holy Grail War caused them to rethink the position. Japan had been in its period of civilizing at the time, so the possibility of witnesses spreading the serious damage occurring needed to be controlled even in such a remote area. It is a conflict between magi, so there is no one in the Mage's Association fit to act as a mediator because of the political implications. They instead sought out the Church, an external authority, and, as it utilized the name of the Holy Grail, one of their most sacred artifacts, it was not possible for them to let its name be used lightly.

The Church acts under the pretense that they cannot ignore the possibility that it actually is the cup that received the blood of Christ, but they already know that it is not related to it. They still send a supervisor because it is too powerful to ignore. They are not concerned about Magi reaching the Root, but someone affecting the actual world is too large a threat. They wish to instead guide a magi seeking the Root towards victory to keep such a possibility from happening. The Association also takes some interest in the ritual, so they dispatch Bazett Fraga McRemitz to participate in the Fifth Holy Grail War.

The Holy Grail War is unknown to the general population. The Church manipulates information, while the Magic Association handles the media. The Association has the Einzberns cover the cost of any collateral damage.[6] They will punish the landowner should it get too out of hand, such as in Heaven's Feel. The damage it causes in society and the assassination of Bazett are blamed on Kirei Kotomine, but the activation of the path to the Root gets Rin Tohsaka into a great deal of trouble. Such rituals are only supposed to be done under their supervision, but she also heard they wished to truly kill her because the path was closed even though they succeeded.

Fate/Prototype

The Holy Grail War of Fate/Prototype takes place in an unnamed city. It is said to have been established for the purpose of reaching the Root, but it is actually utilized to manifest the Beast.

Moon Cell

The Holy Grail War of the Moon Cell is based off of the ritual in Fuyuki. It is vastly different than the original, as it starts with 999 participants that are pared down to 128 Masters who do battle in a tournament format. All participants have had their souls digitalized to enter the Moon Cell, and in the case of disqualification or loss, their lives are forfeit due to the deletion of the data comprising their souls.

Preliminaries

The participants are gathered together in a school, and they have all of their memories suppressed except for certain special people like Leonardo B. Harwey and Julius B. Harwey. Placed into the roles of students with different memories, they go through the same lessons, subjects, and content every day. Everything feels artificial, as students have trouble with memories and the general feel of the school. Those who figure out the strangeness are able to regain their own memories. Those like Rin Tohsaka are able to do it quickly, while some barely manage to make it. Direct interference with people without memory during the period is against the rules.

People close to figuring it out get crushing headaches and feel static that affects their vision as the illusion breaks apart. The overbearing strangeness only increases as people eventually start to disappear slowly over time, reducing the number of students each day. Only those who make the decision to look beyond the accepted and progress are allowed the right to exist. By recovering themselves, they are allowed to enter the main tournament. Overall, thirty percent manage to overcome it, allowing them to move on to the next stage of the preliminaries., while any who remain in the school are disqualified.

Effigy

The Protagonist and her Effigy

The final part grants the potential Masters an Effigy, a substitute for a Servant, and tests their capabilities. They are pitted against another Effigy, and if theirs should happen to be defeated, as with the defeat of an actual Servant, they will be disqualified. Those that manage to win will become one of the 128 competing Masters and will be granted a Servant. While the Protagonist loses, their will to survive causes their selected Servant to save them.

Battles

The 128 remaining participants are each granted a Servant, and over a period of seven weeks, they each duel one randomized opponent per week until only one remains. They are given six days of preparation, and hold an Elimination Battle on the seventh day.

The Protagonist faces the following opponents:

Shinjuku

The Holy Grail War in the original setting of Fate/Apocrypha takes place in Shinjuku. The one of Apocrypha is noted to be the Fifth Holy Grail War, and that Shinjuku is not the ordinary location. It is also abnormal in that fourteen Servants, rather than seven, are summoned. It is unknown if it has any connection to the Fuyuki system. It was later changed to Turifas in the novel version.

Snowfield

The Holy Grail War of Snowfield is a ritual in America based off of the one in Fuyuki. Rather than fighting for a Holy Grail, the war is over a "False Grail", making the ritual hard to predict compared to that of Fuyuki. While it seems that the immense scale of the preparation for the ritual would have required a magi family of the caliber of a Great House like the Einzberns, the "Initiator" of the Holy Grail War has not appeared, nor do they give off any such presence of magi of their theorized stature.

Turifas

The Holy Grail War of Fate/Apocrypha takes place in Turifas, a city on the outskirts of the Transylvania region of Romania. The ritual is taken from the Fuyuki Holy Grail War, as the Grail was stolen after Fuyuki's Third Holy Grail War in this timeline.

References

  1. Fate/complete material III:
    Q: Just how well-known is the Fuyuki Holy Grail War among magi around the world? Is it of major significance, or unexpectedly minor importance, like a secret war that isn’t talked about among magi?
    A: It’s minor. The stakes were highest up until the Second War, before the Church got involved.
  2. Fate/complete material III - Third Grail War
  3. Fate/complete material III:
    Holy Grail War Timeline - 第四次聖杯戦争が中途半端に終結したため僅か10年で第五次聖杯戦争が勃発してしまった。
  4. Fate/complete material III - Q: Even though it should only happen every 60 years, was the 10 year gap between the Fourth and Fifth Holy Grail Wars as short as it was because the Lesser Grail was desrtoyed before the Greater Grail could direct the accumulated mana to establish its pathway trapped some unused mana in the Grail?
    A: That’s true. In fact, you could say that the function of the Greater Grail was already muddled when when it was impregnated with Avenger in the Third War.
  5. Fate/complete material III:
    Q: The Holy Grail War is unknown to the general population, but to what extent is it hidden from normal people? Are the Church people (supervisors) manipulating the media and police (or even the governmental level) to cover it up?
    A: The Church manipulates information, while the Magic Association handles the media. Also, the Association has the Einzbern cover the cost of any collateral damage.

See also

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