Apocrypha (n.) apoc-ry-pha: writings or statements of dubious authenticity e.g. George Washington and the cherry tree.
We assume the creators of Fate Apocrypha want us to think that this is a stand-alone story in the Fate universe that can’t quite be considered canon. We now set the stage for the apocryphal story of Fate Apocrypha. The Holy Grail War is usually about seven mages and seven servants fighting for the great wish-making device called the Holy Grail. The war in Apocrypha is about a war between the House of Yggdmillennia and the Mages Association for control of the Grail. This time the war involves seven masters and servants of Black and seven masters and servants of Red creating the largest battle in Grail War history. The complexities of the unusual war lead the Grail to summon a Ruler, a powerful servant, to oversee the battle and keep both sides in check.
The battle lines get blurred as one anomaly after another arises in this conflict as allegiances shift and sacrifices are made all for the possession of the greatest wish-granting device in history. The heroic spirits all have great power to serve their masters but they also have a degree of free will to achieve their own ends. Who will remain true to themselves and their legend? We now countdown the servants most true to their legends in Fate Apocrypha.
10. Jack the Ripper as the Assassin of Black
Jack the Ripper, the serial killer of Victorian England, is an Assassin class servant in the Holy Grail War. The Jack the Ripper in the Fate Apocrypha story is a young girl representative of black and white behavior. She speaks like a child and yet makes rational and quick decisions. She pays violence with violence and it is imagined that she also offers kindness for kindness. She is also mentally broken as the representative of all the children abused and murdered in Victorian London. She is acrobatic and stronger than she looks. Jack’s weapon of choice is a pair of knives used for slashing attacks. Her Noble Phantasm is a fog that confuses the people caught in it and shows them the horrors of her world.
We don’t know much about Jack the Ripper since the murderer was never caught. The profiles over the years make this depiction of the historical figure implausible as a small girl avenging children. The Jack the Ripper of history was probably a male, most likely a tradesman, though there’s some speculation was that he may have been an aristocrat. The targets of the Ripper were mainly prostitutes. He did use knives skillfully but focused more on the removal of organs than just hacking his victims to pieces. The Fate version and legend don’t quite mesh leaving Jack at the last spot in our countdown.
9. Jeanne d’Arc the Ruler Class Servant
Jeanne d’Arc is a heroic spirit in this apocryphal story but not your typical servant. She was summoned by the Holy Grail itself to act as the administrator of the war to ensure that each side conforms to many of the conflict’s unspoken rules. Unlike the other spirits who manifest wholly in this universe, she inhabits the body of a devout French girl named Leaticia. Jeanne states, “My spirit wraps around her body and protects her,” to explain how a mortal body has the power, strength and battle toughness of a heroic spirit. Her main weapon is a battle flag that can be used as a lance and when it is wrapped around its standard becomes hard as steel. She is a great warrior on the battlefield and has unwavering faith in her belief that she is right, yet she is always a realist and knows that the blood on her hands can never truly be washed away.
The historical Joan (Jeanne) d’Arc has many similarities with her Fate counterpart. She was a person of devout faith, a trait shared by Joan and Laeticia, whom we first encounter on her knees praying. It was believed that Joan was touched by God, a perfect parallel for Laeticia being inhabited by Jeanne and being summoned by the Holy Grail. Joan was also a great soldier and leader even as a young woman in the middle ages. She leads entire armies and was in the fray killing and maiming her enemies in the name of her god, her king, and her country. We even get pretty accurate look back at Joan as Jeanne is led to be burned at the stake. The historical Joan d’Arc was reported to have faced her death with stoicism and peace, relying on her faith to give her strength. This makes Joan and Jeanne/Laeticia partners in faith.
8. Astolfo the Twelfth Paladin of Charlemagne the Rider of Black
Astolfo was summoned by Selenik Icecol Yggdmillennia, the powerful Rider-class servant, with multiple Noble Phantasms. His appearance is androgynous with his looks leaning to the looks of a girl with pink hair decorated with bows and ribbon. Astolfo also has a screw loose. The perpetually smiling servant doesn’t seem to have any tact, which keeps you guessing if he is playing the fool or actually is one.
The historical Astolfo (or as historical as we get for a legend from the times of Charlemagne Legend) is the son of an English king who serves in the French king Charlemagne. He is considered one of the 12 Paladins of the legendary king. He was also considered to be a very beautiful man who wore princess-like ornaments in his hair. Astolfo was one of the great wandering knights going on adventures and collecting mystical powers along the way, many represented in the Fate universe as his Noble Phantasm, including the Hippogriff. We also imagine his connection to the moon has something to do with the legend’s story of traveling to the moon.
7. Mordred of the Arthurian Legend the Saber of Red
Shishigou Kairi is a mage and sided with the Red Faction in the Holy Grail War. He summoned Mordred the son of King Arthur. We accept that like Arthur in the Fate Universe, Mordred was actually a woman and was raised as a male. She is filled with pride and arrogance with an ever-present need to be better than her “father.” Mordred wears a suit of armor with a two large metal horns attached to her helmet when going into battle. The skilled Saber-class servant enters battle with the joy of a berserker overpowering almost any opponent.
The Mordred of Arthurian legend was conceived like the Mordred of the Fate universe by the intervention of magic and is the child of Arthur/Artoria and Morgan le Faye. Mordred was also a member of the roundtable and was acknowledged as the son of the King of Knights. It was also the Mordred of legend that led an army against his father, shattered the roundtable and died killing the king. The gender issues aside Mordred’s storyline fit very closely with its counterpart in the actual legend and the Fate Universe.
6. Karna, Son to the Sun God form the Mahabharata the Lancer of Red
Karna is a rather cold character with what seems like little personality. The servant is also bound to Shirou, first via a puppet-master and then directly. He doesn’t think much of humanity. Karna doesn’t think people are necessarily good or bad either; he treats them all equally and with no favor on the battlefield. He as a servant is willing to battle and kill when commanded. Karna gives off a dismissive arrogance that reminds some viewers of the servant Gilgamesh. He wields a large pike as his main weapon and holds four Noble Phantasms connected to his divinity.
The Karna of the Mahabharata is a demi-god born to a human mother and the Sun God, Surya. He was granted invulnerability and a golden set of armor as part of his heritage. Karna was abandoned by his mother and left in the dark about his lineage after his mother married the King of Kuru. He eventually found his way to a rival royal house. The two houses went to war and he fell in battle. The cold, detached personality persisted even as his death came near; he didn’t even hate the person who put him to the sword.
5. Frankenstein’s monster the Berserker of Black
The Berserker Frankenstein was summoned by Caules Forvedge Yggdmillennia. The monster appeared in the form of a young lady in a bride’s dress with metal protrusions sticking out of her head like a lightning rod. She can’t speak and communicates by grunting and shaking her head. She seems very subdued for a Berserker character when not on the battlefield. The version of Frankenstein in Fate seems deeply devoted to her master to the point you could call it love.
Her battle ability is far stronger than her demure look. She swings a large cudgel with a rounded end that is a conductor of electricity she can focus for attacks.
Frankenstein’s monster is the one of the most modern of the legends in the Fate world. The monster conceived by author Mary Shelly was made out of male parts. She created a monster that wasn’t really a monster despite its grotesque appearance and macabre method of creation. The creature was brought to life by electricity, the Fate Universe’s version’s main weapon. He was trying to understand his place in the world and his own creation. Like his Fate counterpart, he had difficulty speaking and grunted and used a handful of monosyllabic words. The Fate version also has her being quiet and picking flowers in the garden, a call back to the interaction between the young girl by the pond picking flowers in the early film version of the character back in 1931.
4.Atalanta the Huntress of Greek Mythology the Archer of Red
Atalanta is appropriately an Archer Class servant as she’s a well-known archer from mythology. She appears as a young woman with green hair, fox ears and a tail. She is swift and accurate in ranged attacks. Atalanta was abandoned at birth and taken into the care of the goddess Artemis. She has a soft spot for children and wants to create a world where all abandoned children like herself will be loved and cared for. Her devotion eventually causes a mental break. As a demi-god, she is also considered the sibling of the hero Achilles, another servant in the Grail War.
The archer Atalanta was abandoned at birth and devoted herself to the goddess Artemis. She is one of the classic characters in Greek mythology. Atalanta, though nothing in myth says she was part fox, went on many adventures. She was a member of the Argonauts and was one of the heroes responsible for the Calydonian Boar. We don’t see much in myth about her love of children but as a member of the Cult of Artemis she would look out and care for young girls. Her unique myth and simple motivations seem to cross the boundary between myth and Fate.
3. Sigurd the Saber of Black
Siguard is summoned as the servant by Gordes Musik Yggdmillennia as a Saber class servant. He is a powerful knight servant from the Norse Sagas. He is a fearless hero that always faces his enemy head-on and behaves chivalrously. He fights with a sward called Gram. Siguard is also a hero looking for a reason to fight after living a life of conflict. In many ways he seems like a reluctant servant. He also takes noble pride in carrying it stoically.
Siguard comes from the story of Siegfred the Dragon-Blooded Knight. He is based on the main character of the German Nibelungenlied Epic. He, as the tale goes, was a Prince of the Netherlands. Like his Fate counterpart, he carried a legendary sword. His was called Balmung, a gift from the Nibelungen family. He was a well-known adventurer and warrior in Germanic legend and was famed for killing the evil dragon Fafnir. He may have held the moniker “Dragon-Blooded Knight” not because he had dragon blood in his veins but because he bathed in the blood of a dragon making him invulnerable. His character in the Fate universe seems pretty spot-on for this Fafnir-slaying prince.
2. Chiron the Centaur of Ancient Greek Myth the Archer of Black
Chiron is the servant of Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia and is Archer class. The great teacher is kind, courteous and respected among the masters and the servants. He has several abilities, but the most powerful of all could be the wisdom of divine gift. The wisdom not only means that he can show proficiency with skills that are not part of his class, but can bestow skills on other servants. He is an expert at ranged combat and hand-to-hand. His Noble Phantasm the Antares Snipe is connected to his constellation in the sky and is always active enabling him to launch a powerful attack at a moment’s notice.
Chiron in Greek myth is indeed a teacher and a centaur, a half human and half horse demi-god. He trained many heroes including Achilles, who he faces off against in this Holy Grail War. We don’t see him in his centaur form in this iteration, though he does have a horse-like tail hanging behind him. The respect shown to Chiron among the servants is very similar to that as shown to him by the Greek heroes of myth as he often stood above the petty squabbles of the ancient Greek mythos.
1. Achilles the Rider of Red
The hero of the Trojan war, unless you’re a Trojan, was Achilles. He’s a heroic sprit summoned to the Holy Grail War. The legendary hero is a classic Greek hero and doesn’t fight for a king. He fights because he was summoned and wishes for a challenge of his skills in battle. He is also at times over confident. He isn’t an idiot, either, as a professional solder and tactician. His battles in the air are conducted from a flying chariot. He is a true competitor and his Noble Phantasm creates a bubble in time where he and his opponents fight in hand-to-hand combat to the death.
Achilles is a demi-god, the child of a goddess and a Greek hero. When he was a baby he was dipped in the river Styx and make invulnerable, with the exception of his heel, where he was held as his mother dunked him. He was an unparalleled warrior and after beating another great hero, drug him behind his chariot. The character in the Fate series also has the same vulnerability, his heel. He learned how to be a hero under the tutelage of Chiron, a famed hero and teacher of Greek myth, a person who he acknowledges as his teacher even in the Fate universe.
The Fate universe often takes the best attributes of heroes of legend and leaves a lot of the mythological details behind. The stories that are part of our historic cultural mythos may at one point have happened to some extent. The George Washington and the cherry tree story is an example of American myth. The father of the United States may have said or done something at one point in his life that someone heard or saw and retold until the story took on a life of its own. If left to be retold in Fate it may be something like the Heroic Spirit of George Washington; he’d carry a hatchet and his Noble Phantasm would be revealing truth. Stories that become myth are often apocryphal like all the tales of the Fate Universe: not necessarily true but an amazing adventure.