Sheathed in the breath of stars…

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ARTORIA

Artoria4
Real Name:
Artoria Pendragon
Titles: King of Knights, King Arthur, Altria, Once & Future King of Britain
Origin: Arthurian Legend
Illustrator: Takeuchi Takashi
Featured In: Fate/stay night, Fate/zero
Voiced By: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese) Kari Wahlgren (English)

Sabers are Servants whom, as their class title might suggest, are masters of the blade and are easily among the top tier of Servants, particularly so in the Knight Class. However, most Sabers have a distinct advantage over other Servants in that it is not just the strength of their legend that grants them such power and skill, but that of their swords as well. Swords like Arondight, Caliburn, Excalibur, Clarent, and Durandal are some such swords and of those three of them belonged to a single person, King Artoria Pendragon of Camelot.

Who else could I pick but her really?

However… There is something entirely unique about Artoria even among the many multitude of oddball Servants that exist both genuine, Altered, and thematic. Whereas all Servants are either Heroic Spirits formed to fit the “mold” of their summoned Class, like Medusa as the Gorgon when summoned as an Avenger, or are ideas/concepts made real from the collective consciousness of humanity, like Nursery Rhyme as a Caster, Artoria…

Is both a living mortal and a Heroic Spirit.

Upon her dying breath, she made a bargain that in exchange for her services as a Counter Guardian to Alayashiki, the unconsciousness will of mankind and chief reason why humanity has not inadvertently caused its own extinction, she be granted the chance to attain the Holy Grail so that she may undo her own legend and allow another, and supposedly “better” king to rule in her place.

As such, most iterations of Artoria that exist in the Fate series reflects the “her” that is Artoria Pendragon mere moments from death in that all that she has in her actual possession as far as weapons go is Excalibur. One would argue that what else does she need but allow me to first go over her list of skills before I list what could well and truly make her a nigh unstoppable force of nature.

First and foremost, thanks to the machinations of the half-human wizard Merlin, the blood the Red Dragon of Britain courses through Artoria’s veins, making her magical output on par with that of a dragon’s own though she is far from being any type of magician. Instead, she has a higher output compared to most magi, a… factory to their lone machine in producing mana (magical energies) as it were. Her chief use of this is through the ability, Mana Burst that allows her to expel her mana into her body and weapon in a massive spike that can, at minimum, double her attack power in a single instant.

As a result of the dragon’s blood flowing in her veins, Artoria also has an incredibly high resistance to magic. So much so in fact that any spell that is not of equal or higher rank than her resistance, which sits at a whopping A Rank mind you, will not work. Heck, there’s a higher chance of her not even noticing the spell having been cast on her than the magic actually working on her.

Having been both a king and a knight, she has excellent skills in Riding, Charisma, and Instinct. Her Riding skill allows her to utilize anything short of a magical beast as a form of transport, meaning that she can pretty much drive anything on land, sea, or air so long as it hasn’t a mythological origin to its history.  Charisma allows her to bolster those under her banner, increasing their attack power significantly for quite a while. Instinct meanwhile allows her to read her opponents and grant her a higher chance of spotting, and exploiting, critical weaknesses.

As to weapons that Artoria could have had were she summoned as a proper Servant… Admittedly, Artoria’s spear, Rhongomiant, and her dagger, Carnwennan, would put her in the Class of Lancer and Assassin respectively as we’ve already seen with the, ah, “Lion King” incarnation of Artoria. Caliburn was lost to her when she was younger means that it can only appear in her grasp were she to be summoned as an actual Heroic Spirit but given that it is her younger and thus far less experienced self, it is not strictly Artoria at her best. Clarent was not only stolen from her “son” Mordred but was the very blade that ended her life in the first place and so is incapable of being summoned with her.

Really the one weapon that is missing from Artoria is not even a weapon at all. Rather, it’s the sheathe of Excalibur known as Avalon: The Ever Distant Utopia which grants Artoria instantaneous healing. It could heal any cut dealt to her before it even had a chance to bleed and even repressed her aging to the point that she still looks like the “kid” she was when she first drew Caliburn from the stone. It, like Clarent, was stolen from her but contrary to Excalibur, which was returned to the Lady of the Lake, Avalon is still out there in the world, just in a place that no one would think to look…

Moving on to Artoria’s Noble Phantasm… Technically speaking she has two. One, known as Invisible Air: Bounded Field of the Wind King, is a constantly active Noble Phantasm that hides Excalibur from sight as it is without a doubt the most easily recognized weapon in the entire history of mankind. Artoria can release it to either grant her incredible boosts in speed or strike her opponents from afar with a gust of wind akin to that found in a typhoon.

Excalibur: The Sword of Promised Victory is a Noble Phantasm without equal. It is a divine construct and sits as the absolute pinnacle of all holy swords and is often referred to as the Last Phantasm as it was forged by the planet itself as the crystallization of the wishes of mankind shortly before the end of the Age of the Gods and preceding the Age of Mankind. When unleashed it… well, just see for yourselves…

ExcaliburFGO

Yet, for all her prowess, for all her ability, and for all that she’s carrying around a literal WMD constrained to the shape of a sword, the primary reason why I would desire the aid of Artoria as a Saber has nothing to do with any of that. Not really. Rather, it is because Artoria is someone whom I know that no matter what forces may try to stand against her, would always strive to do what is right as best she can, in any way that she can.

That… and I’ll admit there are certain aspects of her personality that frankly amuse the heck of me.

 

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Your heart… is mine!

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CÚ CHULAINN

Cuchulainn4
Real Name: Sétanta
Titles: Child of Light, Hound of Culann
Origin: Ulster Cycle  (One of Four Great Cycles of Irish Mythology)
Illustrator: Takeuchi Takashi
Featured In: Fate/stay night
Voiced By: Nobutoshi Canna (Japanese) Tony Oliver (English)

Lancers are often considered the weakest of the three Knight Classes of Servants whose hit and run tactics put them at a severe disadvantage with the upfront Sabers but allows them greater capability against the long-ranged Archers. While far from the most powerful of Lancers, as that title undoubtedly belongs to his teacher, there is a reason that some refer to him as “Irish Heracles.”

As a child, he earned the title of Cú Chulainn, or Hound of Culann in English, by way of killing Culann’s actual guard dog, which was said to possess the strength of ten men, with his bare hands at the age of ten. Feeling ashamed for the crime he had unwillingly committed, he asked Culann to allow him to hold the dog’s post until its pups were fully grown but the man turned him down, telling him instead that he was to train himself to be the guard dog for Ulster instead.

Already having joined the Knights of the Red Branch, Cú Chulainn took his first geas, vowing to never eat a dog. For those unawares, a geas is a solemn promise that will bestow a wickedly powerful curse upon one whom fails to uphold it. From there, Cú Chulainn would journey to the Land of Shadows to attain the demonic spear that has since become his Noble Phantasm and received tutelage of its use, combative arts, and sorcery under the Queen of the Land of Shadows, Scáthach whom in turn was both cursed and blessed with immortality.

At the end of his legend, and believe me there is a LOT to tell of the Hound of Culann, he was tricked into breaking all the geases he had made through the years and thus became no more than a mere man, slain by his own spear. Yet, for all the weakness he had gained, Cú Chulainn was not without his pride as a warrior and tied himself upright to a stone with his own guts. Even as he stood dying, none dared to approach him for his ferocity was well known to enemy and friend alike.

It wasn’t until a raven, likely the goddess of death and destruction herself, alighted upon his shoulder did they believe him to be dead. Foolishly, the man who dealt him the mortal blow, sought to cut off his head to take with him proof of Cú Chulainn’s death. He managed it, but the light in Cú Chulainn’s blood sought retribution and took the man’s entire sword arm as payment.

In short… Cú Chulainn is easily one of the most hardcore of Servants. In point of fact, his skill was so great that he is one of the few Servants to actually have multiple iterations of himself that aren’t the result of “gag” summons or becoming “altered” by the Dark Grail. One iteration is of him just following his apprenticeship with Scáthach and the other of him as a Caster rather than a Lancer and a pretty powerful one at that too.

This particular instance of Cú Chulainn has many notable skills and abilities under his belt. Having been taught rune magic by Scáthach, he can utilize it even without being a Caster, even having some inscribed invisibly upon his armor granting him further strength and prowess. He also possesses Battle Continuation, which allows him to keep fight despite having severe, if not outright mortal, injuries.

Wounds that when combined with the skill Disengage, which allows him enough respite to heal said wounds, makes him a very deadly adversary. Add in his Protection from Arrows, which grants him evasion from virtually all attacks including most Noble Phantasms and increased defense, Cú Chulainn is an absolute nightmare to fight for most Archers.

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Last but certainly not least we have his Noble Phantasm, Gáe Bolg: Barbed Spear that Pierces with Death. A demonic spear, Gáe Bolg has two main methods of attack, one that deals a significant amount of damage when it is thrown, unleashing an explosion powerful enough to instantly kill one of the many lives of Heracles as a Berserker. Cú Chulainn’s preferred method of utilizing the spear though is by way of its most powerful ability. Gáe Bolg reverses casualty.

It can, quite literal, reverse cause and effect so that instead of “the spear is thrust, the heart will be pierced” to “the heart is pierced, so the spear is thrust.” Even if aimed at the opponent’s feet, the spear will still manage to pierce their heart without changing its shape or form of attack. Only with godly level degrees of luck can a Servant manage to survive this surefire instant-kill.

Yet, for all that he is a legend without equal on the emerald shores of Ireland, it is not strictly for his prowess that I would prefer the likes of Cú Chulainn as a Lancer. Rather it is his personality, which has been described by fans of the franchise as someone who will gladly try to kill you dead in the afternoon and go out with you for a drink in the evening. a harsh but inexplicably fun elder brother type of Servant.

That, and really, in the animated series based on the Unlimited Blade Works path in Fate/stay night, Cú Chulainn was one of the few spots of good humor to be found and made quite the impression in all of his fights.

Living is the art of meeting a wonder beyond any imagination…

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SHERLOCK HOLMES
Holmes4

Titles: The World’s Greatest Detective
Origin: Books and Short Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Illustrator: Yamanaka Kotetsu
Featured In: Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Mizushima Takahiro (Japanese)

It has been said that the Throne of Heroes plays host to all Heroic Spirits of every time and every place, meaning that there are possibly several hundred iterations of the same individual with differences being either distinctive points in their history or divergences too great to comprehend.

Yet, for all the possible variations, rare is the Servant capable of serving under the class of Ruler. One would think that bearing a crown would be enough to serve as a Ruler but such is not actually the case. It is not enough to lead people, one must also inspire them, and continue to inspire, long after death.

Rulers, are exceedingly rare Servants not just because of the aforementioned clause to fitting this Class but because the type of Holy Grail War that would require their existence is rarely, if ever, done and not without severe consequence to all involved. See, the atypical Holy Grail War requires seven Servants of the the primary Classes to fight. The ones that require Rulers to act as judge, jury, and, if need be, executioner?

Fourteen Servants in all, most times two of each of the seven main Classes.

Thus far, there are three Servants whom hold the title of Ruler and of those three, it is the supposedly fictional Sherlock Holmes whom serves as my top choice for this Class.

While it is heavily debated whether this is in fact the actual Sherlock Holmes or is a Servant similar to the likes of Alice or Robin Hood in that there was person(s) whom could easily be assumed as this individual and thus were summoned under their name and form, there is no denying that this iteration of the famous detective lives up to the name.

For those unfamiliar with the man in question, I’d ask what rock you’ve been under and tell you quite firmly to go and read a book. That having been said, Sherlock Holmes is to detectives what King Arthur is to knights in that he is the “father” of detectives and is famous across the globe as the great detective to ever exist. It is for his deductive skills and capabilities that he is oftentimes considered as the first “Revealer,” one whom finds the truth no matter how hard or impossible it may be.

Despite being a Ruler, Sherlock Holmes has the skill of Territory Creation, an ability more commonly found in Casters. He is also one of the two known Servants who have the ranking of EX, the highest possible ranking for any skill, though it is yet to be seen just what he can do with this power.

Aside from this admittedly random skill, Sherlock Holmes also possesses three other skills. First and most recognizable is his Natural Insight, which allows for one to grasp the essence of things through the use of perceptive eyes that will not overlook any information. In Holmes’ case, it allows him to actually seal an opponent’s Noble Phantasm and even prevent them from charging it to full power.

His second skill is Deductive Reasoning, which allows him to not be affected by any debuffing skills or abilities by his enemies whilst also granting him a further increase in critical damage dealt by his last skill. Baritsu, a martial art from the orient that makes use of striking, throwing, and countering techniques combined with his latent skills in boxing. If certain conditions are met, Holmes can utilize this skill to be on point with that of a released Noble Phantasm.

Speaking of Noble Phantasms, Holmes is likely the most distinct among all Servants in that his does absolutely no physical damage to his opponents whatsoever. Known as Elementary, My Dear: It’s Elementary, My Friend, this Noble Phantasm is one that is atypically in constant activation around Holmes allowing him to surmise facts and details that are otherwise incredibly hard to spot. When its name is uttered and its power is released in full however, ah that’s when it becomes something thought to be impossible.

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In essence, what Elementary, My Dear does is resolve an unresolvable mystery, no matter if the enigma in question is supposedly impossible to solve. Case in point, if a key to a treasure chest is lost, the key will end up not being lost and the path to its discovery will come to Sherlock Holmes instantly. It will not immediately summon the key to his hand or he to it, but will allow him to discover it without fail. For opponents, Elementary, My Dear weakens their formation and greatly decreases their defense whilst granting near invincibility and “ignore defense” for Holmes and his allies.

While far from the ideal fighter, having the likes of Sherlock Holmes on my side would neatly guarantee a near absolute victory.

OUT FOR THE HOLIDAY

As stated above, work, life, and all things between will be keeping me busy for the next two weeks so rather than publish a few rushed and half-hearted entries, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus until after the insanity that is the Thanksgiving season.

Perhaps, if time allows, I’ll even have more than a lone post to share once I’m back in the game. Until then dear readers, a good autumn feast to you all!

Now, to the distant ends of the earth..!

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ISKANDAR

Iskandar4
Origin: Alexander the Great (History)
Title:
King of Conquerors
Illustrator: Takeuchi Takashi
Featured In:
Fate/Zero
Voiced By: Ohtsuka Akio (Japanese) & Jamieson Price (English)

Riders are distinct among most Servants as virtually any Heroic Spirit can become one with many other classes, notably the Knight Classes of Saber, Lancer, and Archer, possessing the riding skill regardless of their atypical mount’s absence amidst their Noble Phantasms. That in itself is what differentiates Riders as it is oftentimes their “ride” that serves as their Noble Phantasm and can, at times, take a variety of forms and usages. Riders whom were once pirates for example can summon either portions or the entirety of their ship(s) as their Noble Phantasms whilst others, like Saint Martha or Medusa, can summon a specific steed tied to their legend regardless of them actually having “ridden” it.

My own personal choice of Alexander, or Iskandar as he’s often referred to in most of the Fate series, as Rider comes not from his noble steeds but rather on his overall personality. He is a man whom had managed to conquer most of the known world and would likely do so again if given the chance thanks in no small part to a degree of charisma that borderlines on the divine.

In point of fact, Iskandar’s degree of Charisma is among the top of most Servants with few reaching the same level as he in inspiring his forces to greater degrees of attack power. His degree of Military Tactics, which again I must remind allowed him to conquer most of the then known world within his lifetime of thirty years, enhances the power of other Servants’ Noble Phantasms, including those whom dwell within his own but more on that later. Last, but not least, are his skills of Divinity and Lightning Conqueror.

In life, Iskandar was thought to be a descendant, if not a direct son, of Zeus himself and the power of that belief grants him a low ranking in Divinity but blesses him with the power of the Greek Lord of the Sky by way of his first, and definitely weakest, Noble Phantasm.

The Gordius Wheel: Wheel of Heaven’s Authority is an antique war chariot lead by a pair of Divine Bulls whom, in legend, were meant to be offerings to Zeus from King Gordius but Iskandar sought to claim the bulls for himself and did so by cutting the Gordian Knot with his sword. To summon them, Iskandar must swipe the air with his Sword of Cypriots, which in itself is not a true Noble Phantasm merely the key of summoning the Gordius Wheel.

The bulls and the chariot tread atop lightning strikes, with each strike generating the same degree of magical energy Artoria Pendragon would with Excalibur without invoking its full might. It can also travel on any terrain, with the chariot itself changing to be more suitable to the actual ground being traversed, and can also fly through the air at pretty decent speeds.

However, the true power of the Gordius Wheel isn’t unlocked until Iskandar calls out its signature move, Via Expugnatio: Distant Trampling Domination. By uttering this name, the bulls pulling the Gordius Wheel can travel a distance of a hundred meters within less than a second. The amount of damage it deals out is decided on two key factors, first being whether or not the opponent is hit by “eight strikes” from the hooves of the bulls and the wheels of the chariot itself. The second is if those unfortunate enough to be run over by the thing have the fortitude to withstand not only getting run over but also being simultaneously struck by lightning with each and every blow.

Yet, as I had said earlier, this is the weakest of Iskandar’s Noble Phantasms. His most powerful one, which puts him in the pinnacle of most Servants, comes in the form of a Reality Marble known as Ionioi Hetairoi: Army of the King. Despite not having been a magus in life nor possessing true divinity in his blood, Iskandar is able to utilize a Reality Marble thanks to the combined efforts of his personal guard whom all shared his dream and whose pledged allegiances to him even after death stay strong.

When activated, Iskandar summons forth a desert battlefield from which appears the entirety of his army, which consists almost entirely of Heroic Spirits whom are of varying degrees of prowess and strength but are each and every capable of being called a Servant.

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It is here within the depths of his Reality Marble that Iskandar’s favorite mount, Bucephalus, will appear though he can still summon and even utilize the charger as a Noble Phantasm. The horse earned its legend for being not only an extremely violent member of its species that no one could handle but Iskandar himself, but was said to also be one of the rare carnivorous ones of Greek legend, having a particularly taste for the flesh of men. On its own, Bucephalus can take down an army of fifty men with ease and can even call forth the lightning of its father Zeus if it so desired.

Overall, Iskandar is not one of the most powerful of Riders nor is he one whom rides atop beasts of great renown, but the fact remains that he has been, and forever shall be, the most famous of his Class. He is a man dubbed by the Throne of Heroes as King of Conquerors and it is a title well deserved. He is also one of the few Servants out there capable of meeting Gilgamesh, the so-called King of Heroes, on even ground both on and off the battlefield, which believe me, is no easy feat.

Monsters Galore

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With one of my favorite holidays in full swing, and primarily because the recent 3DS game has got me hooked on the franchise once more, today I’ll be reviewing my top five favorite monsters from Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise. Why top three? Because honestly, these five give me plenty enough to talk about without delving into the ever increasing monster kingdom of the games. However, unlike previous top whatever lists I’ve made, this one will NOT be in order of preference, merely which ones come immediately to mind.

LAGIACRUS

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Titles: Sea Wyvern, The Lord of the Sea
Species: Leviathan
Elements: Thunder
Weak Against: Fire
Primary Habitats: Tropical Waters

What do you get when you combine a crocodile with a king cobra with an added dash of electric eel? You might get something resembling the Lagiacrus. The monster whom served as the flagship of the third generation, featured on box art, advertisements, and plot relevance (at least in that particular game), the Lagiacrus is one of the more commonly recognized monsters of the franchise.

Reaching lengths of over a hundred feet, the Lagiacrus is one of the deadliest of the leviathan species, it rightfully earns the name of Lord of the Sea. The only natural predator the Lagiacrus have is the Narkaros, an elder dragon species known by its title of Corpse Dragon (despite being a cephalopod) for its use of Lagiacrus bones as both armor and weapon against other prey and hunters.

They can stay over half a day underwater without needing to come up for air and while they may occasionally beach themselves to sleep, they are no less dangerous on land than they are in the water. They are highly aggressive and extremely territorial monsters but have a rather surprising diet of fish, lobsters, and herbivore monsters like Apioth.

Despite being a sea-dweller, Lagiacrus are weak against fire, which oftentimes puts them at odds with the fire wyvern species of Rathalos and Rathian, whom often clash with the Lagiacrus over larger prey. Lagiacrus make up for this odd weakness with a series of electrical energy producing sacs located at the base of their dorsal spikes along their back, and thanks to the unique makeup of their saliva can even “spit” balls of lightning at a surprising distance.

Lagiacrus are one of the few species of monsters that seem capable of cowing a Rathalos, or at least getting it to weigh its options. Considering that most Rathalos exercise the honey badger school of thought, that is to say giving-no-bucks, that’s pretty impressive.

Of the monsters in Monster Hunter, Lagiacrus is arguably one of the most difficult ones to fight in that it primarily attacks from within the water. Excluding the risk of electrocution, do you know how utterly difficult it is to try and kill something that is capable of swimming literal circles around you?

Have any of you ever seen the atypical armor and weaponry needed to even scratch of one these things? They are NOT light and do not make for enhanced swimming let me tell you!

GLAVENUS

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Titles: Cutting Wyvern
Species: Brute Wyvern
Elements: Fire
Weak Against: Dragon, Water
Primary Habitats: Jungles, Volcanic Regions

The flagship monster of Monster Hunter Generations, the Glavenus is what happens when one decides to cross a dinosaur, notably a Carnotaurus, with a sword. Part of the brute wyvern species, the Glavenus are a highly aggressive species of monster, willing and able to chase down its prey for miles if need be and are considered to be one of the most highly intelligent monsters around by the Hunters Guild.

Contrary to most monsters, let alone brute wyverns, the Glavenus has displayed considerable skill in battle, utilizing its tail as an impressive defense against most weapons, including some pretty powerful ammunition. Utilizing the unique materials composing its tail, the Glavenus will drag it on the ground in increasing speeds before the bladed tail ignites into a flaming sword.

Note that the tail blade on its own is capable of rending most monsters in twain with a single swipe. Set aflame, the tail blade can still cut down most adversaries with the added benefit of explosions.

Should its blade get dulled, the Glavenus will swings its tail into its mouth and use a quartet of specialized fangs to sharpen it anew. It also has the added bonus of allowing the Glavenus to swallow the soot and ore that its tail accumulated into a special fire sac in its throat. The sac can convert these materials into a semisolid form with the same consistency of magma and contrary to most other similarly armed species of monster, the Glavenus can hold its flames in its throat, allowing it to burn its prey while it bites down on them.

That’s not to say it has no means of extended attack either. Rather than straight balls of flame, the projectiles the Glavenus can unleash will either explode on contact with living targets or can be left to detonate on their own if fired to the ground. For a creature of its size and bulk, the Glavenus can be surprisingly agile and is actually able to leap some good distance into and through the air if need be.

The Glavenus is far from being the strongest monster in the franchise but certainly makes up for it through sheer aggression alone given that it is willing and able to contend with the likes of other monsters far bigger, and stronger, than itself. More often than not, these fights end with a wounded but victorious Glavenus.

GORE MAGALA

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Titles: Black Eclipse Wyvern
Species: ???
Elements: None
Weak Against: Dragon, Thunder, Fire
Primary Habitats: Mountainous Regions

Of all monsters, Gore Magala is the most distinct among them in that while it is classified as its own species, one can argue that it in fact belongs to the elder dragon species as it is, in truth, the juvenile form of the Shagaru Magala. Regardless of its apparent age and immaturity, the Gore Magala is one of the deadliest monsters to exist and is one of the few that most monsters, including elder dragons, will actively avoid for one reason alone.

This monster, and its variant deviant species and adult form, are the source and primary carriers of the frenzy virus. This virus causes extremely violent behavior in monsters and will eventually lead them to their deaths. those few that manage to not only survive the virus but became carriers of it are known as Apex Monsters, and will actively go out of their way to find others of their species and kill them.

The Gore Magala spreads the frenzy virus by way of its pollen-like scales, most notably the fine hairlike ones from its wings that it uses to better see its environment and body heat of its prey. Should it smell nearby prey, the Gore Magala will loose even more hairs until the sky itself seems to grow dark before its hornlike feelers shoot upwards from its head and it will enter a frenzied state, unlatching its wings from its back to better move around and attack its prey. These claws are heavily ridden with the virus and can leave deep gouges that will not heal.

The Gore Magala’s breath weapon combines with the fine hairs it pollutes throughout the area, causing miniaturized explosions of the virus to go off like a minefield around its prey, further infecting them and enhancing its senses. While it is aggressive, the Gore Magala is most dangerous when it migrates to the Sanctuary located in the heart of Heaven’s Mount, a perilous peak with no equal.

It is here and here alone where a Gore Magala will molt its darkened hide and emerge anew into a golden splendor and so is the most dangerous. Should the molting fail, the Gore Magala will become a mongrel of a beast, incapable of controlling the frenzy virus any longer and become little more than a savage monster hellbent on killing anything in its path.

Yet, for all its potent ferocity, the Gore Magala is also incredibly cunning. It has demonstrated the art of playing dead against more dangerous adversaries and slipping away unseen at the first opportunity. It is also known to come swooping in on ships traversing the Great Sea and loosing the frenzy virus upon all those aboard as though away of the potential dangers that awaits in the passengers, whom are oftentimes hunters on a quest to slay the beast.

Reading should be done slowly while savoring the contents…

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NURSERY RHYME

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Origin: Children Storybooks and Songbooks
Illustrator: Wada Arco
Featured In:
Fate/Extra
Voiced By: Nonaka Ai (Japanese)

Of all Servant Classes, Casters are arguably the most unique insomuch that while a good majority are actual practitioners of the arcane and mystical arts there are those who are bestowed this Class because they created something akin to magic in the eyes of people across the entire globe. William Shakespeare, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Hans Christian Anderson are such examples of Casters who, in life, did not produce any literal magic but managed to do something that could be called the same regardless.

My own personal choice of Caster is akin to these great men but quite different in her own right though not the only one of her kind either. Nursery Rhyme is in essence a product of humanity’s subconscious. She is a physical manifestation of picture books and other children’s tales that the kids of England deeply loved and was given existence by their half-voiced dreams.

Her very foundation, or rather her “heart,” was made from, and is quite likely responsible for, the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which had begun as a series of simple rhymes told by Lewis Carroll to the daughters of a family friend whilst rowing down the River Thames one summer’s day.

Admittedly, this is a large chunk of the reason why I’d specifically summon Nursery Rhyme as a Caster seeing as she is, quite literally in essence, the heart and soul of one of my favorite books.

Being a metaphorical existence, Nursery Rhyme doesn’t actually possess a “body” in the strictest sense of the word. Her base form is that of a certain book but given enough magical energy, she can create a body of her own that resembles the titular character of her book form. While she can heavily modify her defense with such skills as Self-Modification and Shapeshift, Nursery Rhyme also possesses one of the unique traits of recharging her magical energy with an aptly named skill called “Meanwhile…”

While not utilized fully in the game Grand Order, Nursery Rhyme’s “spells,” if they can even be called as such, are primarily named after certain characters from the Wonderland books. “Frenzied March Hare” is a powerful wind attack spell while “White Queen’s Enigma” is a curse that lowers an enemy’s resistance to magical attacks.

She is also one of the rare Servants to have more than a single Noble Phantasm to her name but as one required direct interaction with her master, I’ll only speak of the other, Nursery Rhyme: A Story For Someone Else’s Sake.

Named after herself, or rather she named after it, the NP Nursery Rhyme is a Reality Marble type of Noble Phantasm. For those not familiar with the term, a Reality Marble is the literal reshaping of the world around the user to reflect their own soul. While it is quite common for Casters to be capable of utilizing such a thing, it is exceptionally rare in any other Class and nearly improbable for any human to use. Improbable not impossible, but I digress.

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While the animation above shows a clearly childlike array of things coming to the attack, this is merely the first wave that results from this Noble Phantasm’s execution. Nursery Rhyme can also summon Trump Soldiers, more commonly known as Card Soldiers, whose numbers are limited to a single deck of cards but are nigh invincible thanks to Nursery Rhyme constantly regenerating any damage dealt upon them.

While far from extremely powerful whence compared to other, similar, creations, the Trump Soldiers have the advantage of sheer-doggedness and the inability to permanently die so long as the Noble Phantasm remains in place.

Next, Nursery Rhyme can call forth the Nameless Forest of Wonderland, a place that earns its name for an incredibly disturbing ability. Whomsoever walks through the Nameless Forest will first forget their name, then their memories, and eventually their very self. It is an exceedingly deadly place for Servants of small or humble egos whilst those, like Tamamo-no-Mae, an incarnation of the goddess Amaterasu, and Nero, an emperor of Rome, can manage to stand against it.

The only true way to break the spell and restore one’s self is for them to recall their name and can be done by way of reading it aloud should it be written down. However, should the wrong name be uttered, the effect of the Nameless Forest grows by whole leaps and bounds to the point where even language, written or spoken, become a mess of noise and symbols.

Yet, this is far from the deadliest thing lying within Nursery Rhyme’s Noble Phantasm. For there is a creature that dwells just beyond the borders of the Nameless Forest, a monster with eyes of flame, claws that snatch, and jaws that bite.

I speak of course of the ever renowned Jabberwock, a creature that while not appearing at all like the famous illustrations, is no less as fearsome a beast as any dragon worth its name. Its tiniest of motions can bring a quake to the earth beneath its feet and just being near it is enough for one to feel its great and terrible power.

But that’s far from the worst of it.

If by some miracle that one manages to kill it, the Jabberwock will NOT die.

Because there is only one weapon in all of creation capable of killing the Jabberwock, that wicked sword of silvery light known as the Vorpal Blade, of which Nursery Rhyme does likely possess somewhere in the vastness of her recreated Wonderland but she has no need of it. For one, the Jabberwock is her friend and ally against her enemies.

Second, for all that it is a powerful, nigh unstoppable monster of no equal, the Jabberwock does possess one weakness. It needs Nursery Rhyme’s power to maintain a place in the world and while Reality Marbles are indeed second to none in sheer power and magnitude, they are not everlasting as the very concousness of the Earth will do all within its power to ensure that the natural order of Creation is restored.

As one can likely already surmise from my longer than average review on Nursery Rhyme, she, and by default her Class, are one of my personal top choices among the many, many Servants that have been revealed thus far. A large part of it, if not the entirety, has to do with the fact that Nursery Rhyme is literally the essence of my favorite storybooks since forever and whose powers and abilities represent and/or are based entirely upon said works. The rest… I suppose one could save that I have a certain fondness for the Caster class of Servants as a whole.

While there are those who are indeed practitioners of magic, there are far more that are not and the fact that many of them have been inspirations for people the world over for generations since their time… Though Nursery Rhyme herself is merely the conceptual realization of children’s books brought to life, I like to think that it is stories such as hers that set people down the path to their dreams and for all that she may not exist as a true-blooded person, she and she alone out of all the Casters is the only one who truly claim to have sparked the light of imagination in children across the world.

Shelved?!

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Disney’s GiganticGIGANTIC

Now… I do not pretend myself an expert in film making nor do I proclaim myself as one entitled to know all of the ins and outs of the Walt Disney Animation Studios. I will however, declare myself a true blue fan of their films and many of their affiliated works. As such, I can wholeheartedly say that I have never, not ever, been as brokenhearted as I am when the news came out that Disney’s next storybook fantasy film, Gigantic, has been shelved.

NOT CANCELLED.

Despite what a LOT of news reporting websites and other media are reporting, that is NOT what Disney is doing. The direct quote is as follows:

“It’s impossible to know when we begin a project how the creative process will unfold, and sometimes, no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn’t working,” said Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull. “With Gigantic, we’ve come to that point, and although it’s a difficult decision, we are ending active development for now. We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we’ll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020.”

As you can read by the bolded and underlined portion, they are cancelling active production not the film itself.

For those not in the know, Gigantic’s story is based on the classical tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with dashes of the novel Gulliver’s Travels thrown into the mix. Taking place in Spain during the Age of Exploration, young Jack would find to a land above the clouds and populated extraordinarily large humans, otherwise known as giants. In point of fact, Jack would end up finding and befriending a young giant girl named Inma who despite his many protests to the contrary treats Jack more like a toy than a person.

Now, to be fair to Disney, this has not been the first film to be shelved and likely not the last either. However, of the two other films currently sharing in Gigantic’s hiatus, only one of them has plausible reason as to why it’s likely not going to be made. A film by name of Newt which… is basically the film Rio but with lizards instead of birds. Given that Disney already experienced a rather poorly timed release with an affiliated film, The Wild, to Dreamwork’s Madagascar, I can see why this film has been shelved.

The other film, The King of Elves, has thus far no official reasoning beyond story conception, which I can understand given that it is based on a short story and one that is not as globally recognized as others.

Yet the point still stands that for all that we got a basic plot and even snippets of concept art for these two films, we received that and far more for Gigantic. Aside from the aforementioned art and story concept, it had its own little exhibit at the D23 Expo of 2016, which is essentially Disney’s equivalent to Comic-Con, where aside from the art and story there was also a demo of a song sung by Inma relaying her feelings towards Jack. A song done by the same geniuses behind the earworm that is “Let It Go” from Frozen.

In point of fact, a lot of top guys and girls from previous Disney films were/are involved in Gigantic. I won’t name any names because, as of now, the work that they have done may not still apply to the final product but I will state that the creative minds behind Tangled, Frozen, and Inside Out along with the short Get a Horse! And the upcoming Captain Marvel film! That’s a LOT of top applicators to simply put this film on the shelf.

I guess, the overall point that I’m trying to make here is that while it’s perfectly understandable that Disney wants to focus on other, more pertinent projects that have a higher chance of success than others. I mean, c’mon, like they wouldn’t make a Frozen 2 given the sheer hype of “Let It Go” alone never mind the question on everyone’s minds… What that question is I’ll leave up to you but I digress!

Sigh… to whatever folks at Disney that may have stumbled upon this, my most humble of blogs, while Gigantic may be put on hold for now, please do not let it become lost amidst a net of cobwebs and sea of dust. Please do not forget that sometimes, you just have to take the risk and jump in. Whether you land on your feet or end up stumbling, it doesn’t matter! You guys are freaking Disney! Name me an animated film that “didn’t do well” in the box office and I’ll pull up a whole list of people that are part of its cult following!

Finally, and surprisingly, there is a petition to still keep the film’s production going, or at the least, make sure it’s not forgotten at the following link: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/978/239/480/

As the last pharaoh, I command you…

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CLEOPATRA

CleopatraStage4
Origin: Cleopatra VII Philopator (History)
Illustrator: Komatsuzaki Rui
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Kugimiya Rie (Japanese)

Arguably the weakest of the Servants, Assassins are those whom in life were secret killers whose prey never knew what, or who, hit them until it was too late. While the most common Servant summoned for this Class are those who share the name of Hassan-I Sabbah as the very word “assassin” was derived from this name. However, such a summoning can be a kind of hit and miss as they are a surprisingly large number to this group with varying degrees of skills and abilities.

This is what makes Cleopatra rather distinct amongst Assassins. Firstly, and frankly most obviously, she is one of the few Assassins who can actually blend into the modern world. Some Assassins either look as they did in the past or are akin to the Hassan-I Sabbah in that they stand out far too easily outside the shadows and darkness that is their creed.

Cleopatra, much to my own bemusement, purposefully dresses as something of a fashionista in her initially summoning, only truly resembling her prim and proper Pharaoh self when maxed out in Fate Grand Order. In public, she tends to play to the trope of haughty queen but in private, she is a cool and collected lady who is not to be underestimated.

When she was alive, she entertained foreign envoys with extravagant comforts but still stayed true to the rules of etiquette and was perceptive. She’d scold them but in truth did care about their well-being.

Having been a Pharaoh, Cleopatra has low ranked Divinity but a surprisingly high Presence Concealment for one whom was, quite frankly, out in the spotlight for a majority of her reign.

Her personal skills include the ever popular Imperial Privilege that allows her to not only restore her health by a significant margin but also has a high chance of increasing her attack, defense, or both. Cleopatra also possesses the Golden Rule (Wealth & Body), which increases not only the power of her Noble Phantasm but will heal her regenerate her injuries for several minutes (or turns) at a time.

Last but not least is the Divine Protection of the Goddess, which removes any ailments afflicting Cleopatra, gives her a higher chance of getting a critical hit, and makes her invincible for a short time.

Contrary to most Servants, Cleopatra’s Noble Phantasm, Uraeus Astrape: Here Stands the Snake, At the Dawn’s End, or sometimes even abbreviated to the Serpent of Fate, is a fairly obvious presence at her side should she will it. Considering it is, quite literally, a giant golden king cobra golem that moves to Cleopatra’s will.

When activated, it grows even larger in size before bursting into flames which then form an even more massive serpent that envelops all of Cleopatra’s opponents at the wee cost of a small piece of her overall health.

This in itself makes Cleopatra an incredibly dangerous Assassin. Remember, in her base form when her power is at its weakest due to being summoned at minimal power, the snake is invisible and likely still retains that ability at her max potential.

Admittedly, her invoking its power negates this trick, as it is rather had to miss some hundred plus feet of flaming golden cobra, but the point still stands that this thing can manage to successfully sneak up on other Servants with them none the wiser until it goes full hellion snake on them.

Uraeus_Astrape

Add in the fact that due to its size in pre-invocation, Cleopatra can target a large number of opponents at once, something that very few Assassins can accomplish with their Noble Phantasms.

It is primarily because of this reason that I would purposefully strive to summon Cleopatra as an Assassin. Truthfully, there are far better Assassins as far as stealth and yes, even power of Noble Phantasms are concerned but as I stated earlier, Cleopatra is one of the normal ones of this Class. Her “weakness” is actually a good thing towards my overall health and those of innocent passersby.

That and in all honesty, I think I’d find her an amusing Servant to have at my side. Say what you will of most Servants, those who have royal, or even godly, blood in their veins tend to be the most eccentric and thus the most entertaining of the lot.

I will exterminate all of the liars who ran from me…!

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KIYOHIME

Kiyohime4
Origin: The Legend of Kiyohime
Illustrator: BLACK
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Risa Taneda (Japanese)

Berserkers are made up of Heroic Spirits who have gone stark, raving mad and rampaged with all the ferocity such a state of mind entails be it for a single, lone incident or at the end of, or sometimes even after, their legend. A few notable examples, and some really tough ones to decline on my part, include the likes of Heracles and Lancelot who are both ridiculously OP on their own but add in the overall “edge” that most Berserkers have over other Classes and the two truly live up to the term of walking weapons of mass destruction.

However, for all of their vast power, skills, and Noble Phantasms, the one truly greatest drawback of any Berserker is their lack of cognitive thinking. Oh sure, they can still fight well enough, and extremely so in some notable cases, but their higher reasoning oftentimes is either severely lacking or completely nonexistent. Kiyohime is one of the few Berserkers who is not only cognitive enough to reason but can also speak sensibly.

However, that does not excuse her from the atypical madness that afflicts most Berserkers, just that hers is somewhat more… tame… by comparison. … Alright, alright, Kiyohime is just as mad as any other Berserker but her madness focuses on one thing in particular, something that is arguably far more dangerous than the atypical “berserker rage” that most Berserkers are afflicted with.

Love.

More to the point, she is what many in Japan, and several more outside of it, would refer to as a “yandere.” Basically, she is lovey-dovey with her master, regardless of gender though considering one can switch their gender willy-nilly in Fate Grand Order that’s kind of a moot point anyway, but for those who would dare to harm her master, or even if her master should try and spurn her affections by “running away…”

She becomes a homicidal monster on the warpath that little in this world can hope to stop. In life she had become enamored with a man to such a degree that when he did actually flee from her and went so far as to hide himself in a shrine bell, she transformed herself into a dragon and gave pursuit, eventually catching up to him and burning him, and the bell, to molten metal.

As a Servant, Kiyohime’s affections are only turned down by a few degrees. She’ll still be major obsessed with her master but only to a slightly insane level, i.e. wanting details that most don’t even know about themselves such as how many hairs they have atop their head.

She must never, I repeat, NEVER be lied to even for the simplest of things because her Mad Enhancement allows her to see through that lie a full 100%, and you will automatically lose a Command Seal because of it.

However, she can and will allow her master to work with other females, regardless of who, or what, they may be so long as they aren’t rivals for his affection otherwise she will eliminate them utterly. She is noted as being a fine bride with a good disposition and quite skillful in the art of cooking.

While there’s no record of her having blood of Dragonkind in her veins, her Noble Phantasm, and her skill of Shapeshifting, allow her to transform into a low-ranked dragon of the Orient and allow her all the defensive properties, and weaknesses, that sort of transformation entails.

One of her primary skills, aside from the aforementioned Shapeshifting, is known as Stalking, a skill that is oft described as a wild instinct that includes the five senses and magical power which allowed her to track down the monk whom she gave her heart to without fail. No matter how far or how long he fled. While this skill generally lowers the defense of her prey, it also sharply raises their attack alongside their desperation.

Kiyohime’s final “Skill” is known as Flame Colored Kiss. Basically, upon receiving a kiss from her master, any weaknesses placed upon her such as lowered attack or defense is immediately removed and she enters something of a “Super Kiyohime-chan” state. In other words, her attacks gain a bit more power to them but be warned, such a kiss pretty much seals the deal in Kiyohime’s mind and is akin to a wedding proposal for her.

Her Noble Phantasm: Transforming, Flame-Emitting Meditation, transforms her into an enormous fire-breathing serpent that constricts about her foes and burns them to cinder with her potent dragon’s breath. However, as stated before Kiyohime does NOT have dragon’s blood running in her veins and she herself does not recall ever having displayed such a thing prior to the… incident…

TKZ

A likely cause of her transformation might be from having suffered a “wild delusion born of deep yearning for her beloved” and thus could be considered as a representation of her sheer tenacity and relentless obsession with the man who lied to her.

Basically, a result of her legend than anything that actually occurred in her lifetime, something which can affect Servants dramatically upon their summoning. Seriously, take a look at how Thomas Edison looks when he’s summoned, it’s so freaking ridiculous!

Regardless of her romantic issues, the fact remains that Kiyohime is one of the easiest of Berserkers to… Not necessarily control or command but rather she can and will listen to what you have to say and will plan and reason her way through a fight. Her main choice of attack being from at range via draconic fireballs from her fan, which are just as devastating as any physical blow from her fellow Berserkers, is mere icing on the cake.