Black Keys (黒鍵, Kokken?) are a sacrament of the Church, one of their many charms used against demons and vampires.[1][2] As Keys of Providence, they are able to call forth the original laws of nature vampires were subject to as humans, thus preventing them through purification[3] from healing the wounds made with this weapon.[4] Emphasized on the ability to intervene spiritually against "evil", they focus less on physical attack power, even affecting powerful spirits like Servants to some degree should they be struck.[1][2] It is not enough to inflict any sort of fatal injury to them no matter how much energy is put into them, but they can be used to distract or pin them for a brief moment under the right circumstances.[5] Those used by Shirou Kotomine, a "sham of a saint" and Servant, are noted to be much more powerful and "abnormal" against Lancer of Black's Legend of Dracula compared to regular Executors.[6]

They take the form of long and slender rapier-like swords with blades measuring over one meter and extremely short hilts, looking more likely to be used to thrust than slash at the opponent although Hansa shows them to be capable of slashing through concrete.[7] Weighing one kilo, they are too thick and oddly-balanced, feeling heavier towards the tip, to use as melee weapons in general, and they seem more like Dirks made into swords or arrows even to someone who does not know of their true nature.[1][8] With low effectiveness as swords despite their appearance, and their great length, their true usage is exclusively as throwing weapons likened to bullets rather than for swordplay.[9] Despite being a basic weapon of the Church, they are mostly considered to be a symbolic weapon for Executors that not many favor due to the difficulty in learning how to handle them and their weak attack power.[2][4] Being half-spiritual, they can naturally pierce even iron.[10]

Those who wield them often hold multiple Black Keys at once in a "fan formation" between the fingers of each hand, and an expert like Kirei Kotomine can wield up to four in one hand. They can be thrown singularly or all at once with great accuracy and speed, Kirei notably able to prepare and throw a single Black Key in 0.3 seconds and perform four separate throws in 0.7 seconds.[8][10] Primarily being throwing weapons, either directly like arrows or throwing them in a spinning arc to curve towards their target like a boomerang, their length makes defending against short knives and daggers hard due to the lack of balance, so Kirei prefers to abandon them to use his Bajiquan instead in such situations.[8] Experts and chosen Executors generally manifest the blades from magical energy, carrying around only hilts in numbers up to the hundreds hidden under their robes in some cases.[2] Ciel passes energy through pages of the Bible to manifest them, while Kirei does not seem to apply any special method.[4] The blade is a semi-solid formed by magical energy, so they are half spiritual objects able to be over-filled with energy to increase their size more than twice over.[11] When Kirei uses a Command Spell to forcibly fill them, it surpasses their limit to allow them to block a bullet from a Contender at the cost of their subsequent destruction.[10] It is possible for non-Church members to use them as well, such as Shirou Emiya using Reinforcement to make one as "hard as diamond."[5]

Although normally considered weak in force, it is possible to utilize the Iron Plate Effect (鉄甲作用?) to throw them more effectively, increasing the force of impact dozens of times to allow them to bore through even reinforced concrete walls and hit an enemy with enough force to be likened to being struck by a car. Although it would seem to be some form of magical enchantment, it is actually a "secret throwing technique" of the Burial Agency, strengthening them through pure martial arts.[12] While not normally used by devout Executors, there are several other special throwing techniques that can be applied by engraving them with spells to enchant them. Someone like Ciel is able to use them without impunity due to not being a believer, having inherited the knowledge from Michael Roa Valdamjong. The Cremation Rite (火葬式典, Kasō Shikiten?) causes the target to burst into flames upon being pierced, the Internment Rite (土葬式典, Dosō Shikiten?) causes petrification upon the target being pierced, the Mummification Rite (風葬式典, Fūsō Shikiten?) desiccates the target upon being pierced, and the Excarnation Rite (鳥葬式典, Chōsō Shikiten?) causes countless crows to descend upon the target.[13] Ciel also demonstrates an unnamed ability that immobilizes the target upon the blade piercing their shadow. She mentions that the "shadow will struggle just as hard" not to separate from the target as they attempt to escape from the binding, and only she can remove the Black Key to free them. Shirou Kotomine was able to instantly change the direction and momentum of Black Keys that he threw or deflected by incanting the word "Set", whereupon glyphs would appear from the bottom of the hilts, freezing them in mid-air, then propelling them towards a target. He also demonstrated the ability to greatly enhance their size, throwing them into the ground wherein a burst of magic they would grow to several times the size of a person. He used this to briefly block Berserker of Black during his retreat.[11]

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Heaven's Feel Route - Day 15 - Duo
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Fate/stay night - Weapons - Black Key
  3. [v] Tsukihime Dokuhon PlusPeriod - TSUKIHIME Dictionary: Purification [Term], p.182-183

    Purification [Term]
    In Tsukihime, the Church’s method of dealing with the undead.
    Dead Apostles… beings which were once human, but became bloodsucking monsters. In order to return them to dust, a religious symbol that they were familiar with in life is required.
    The process works by driving the natural law from when they were a human into the vampire’s body, re-baptizing their former flesh, and returning them to dust. The conceptual armaments required to perform the ceremony of forcibly opening the composition of the flesh and locking it into its original state are called “Keys of Providence”.
    To put it simply, a crucifix would be a typical example.
    However, a crucifix will only be effective on vampires that were originally Christians. If the official religion when they were human wasn’t Catholicism, it becomes much more difficult for the crucifix to generate an effect.
    On the other hand, if the vampire used to be a Christian, then even if the human under attack is not a believer the crucifix will have an effect on its own.
    Of course, it goes without saying that the effect will be greatest if they are both believers.


  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2
    [v] Melty Blood Act Cadenza PS2 Manual - Dictionary: Black Keys [Weapon name], p.056

    Black Keys [Weapon name]
    The throwing swords wielded by Ciel.
    Weapons for use against vampires, monsters that distort the laws of nature. These "keys of providence" call forth the original laws of nature the vampire was subject to as a human.
    Ciel carries a large number of these concealed on her person, but what's under her robes is actually just the hilts. She materializes the blades by passing magical energy through pages of the bible. Because the black keys are quite compact before this transformation, the maximum number she is able to conceal at one time is close to 100.
    Despite their appearance black keys are not designed for swordplay, but are in fact throwing weapons. The Burial Agency even has a secret technique called the Iron Plate Effect that allows them to throw more effectively.
    Because Ciel has mastered this technique, her black keys are capable of boring through concrete walls. They are counted as one of the basic weapons of the Church, but the fact that they're relatively hard to use means that very few executors favor them.
    Also, besides the Iron Plate Effect, there are other secret throwing techniques such as the Cremation Rite and Internment Rite. The Cremation Rite, in particular, is used in Ciel's Last Arc.


  5. 5.0 5.1 Heaven's Feel Route - Day 15 - over load
  6. Fate/Apocrypha volume 2
  7. Fate/strange Fake Volume 2, Chapter 4: "A Battle Without Heroic Spirits"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Fate/Zero volume 2
  9. [v] Tsukihime Dokuhon PlusPeriod - TSUKIHIME Dictionary: Black Keys [Weapon name], p.178-179

    Black Keys [Weapon name]
    No, not the black keys on a piano. The throwing swords wielded by Ciel.
    As for why they're called black keys, refer to the entry on purification.
    Ciel carries a large number of these concealed on her person, but what's under her robes is actually just the hilts. She materializes the blades by passing magical energy through pages of the bible. The maximum number she is able to conceal at one time is close to 100.
    Also, since black keys are designed specifically for throwing and not for swordplay, in a way they could be considered a kind of bullet.
    Though they are counted as one of the basic weapons of the Church, the fact that they're relatively hard to use means that very few executors favor them.


  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Fate/Zero volume 4
  11. 11.0 11.1 Fate/Apocrypha: Episode 9.
  12. [v] Tsukihime Dokuhon PlusPeriod - TSUKIHIME Dictionary: Iron Plate Effect [Unusual talent], p.184-185

    Iron Plate Effect [Unusual talent]
    A special way of using Ciel's throwing swords.
    Though her swords are clearly designed as piercing weapons, for some reason or another whatever they hit is totally blown away. When Arcueid was hit with a barrage of them in the Ciel route, it was enough to send her tumbling from one end of the park to the other.
    This phenomenon is called the Iron Plate Effect. It seems Arcueid assumed that there was some kind of enchantment applied to the swords that caused the force at the moment of impact to be multiplied dozens of times, but in reality this is the result of martial arts and not sorcery. It is nothing less than the Burial Agency's secret throwing technique. For the sake of tomorrow, hit the opponent like you're trying to bore right through them!


  13. [v] Tsukihime Dokuhon PlusPeriod - TSUKIHIME Dictionary: Cremation Sacrament [Weapon name], p.177

    Cremation Sacrament [Weapon name]
    An enchantment attached to Ciel's throwing swords.
    The blades are engraved with spells, causing targets to burst into flames after being pierced. It sees very little use amongst the Church's Executors. It's because Ciel doesn't believe in Christianity at all that she makes use of these heresies with impunity.
    The source of Ciel's sorcery is the knowledge she inherited from Roa. Aside from the Cremation Rite, there is also the Internment Rite, which turns the target into stone, the Mummification Rite, which desiccates the target, and the Excarnation Rite, which causes countless crows to descend upon the target.
    Ciel herself is reluctant to make use of Roa's knowledge, but if it's for the sake of annihilating Dead Apostles she'll use his (taboo) sorcery without even a bit of hesitation.


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