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…
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.