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Scene 00[]

There are only two sets of shoes at the entrance.
Fuji-Nee's and Saber's.

"――――――――"
I'm worried, so I go to the living room without saying "I'm home".
I go through the hallway with quick steps.
As I expected, Sakura isn't in the living room.
Moreover, there's a person that looks like Fuji-Nee doing something like cooking.

"Oh, welcome home, Shirou. Hm? What's with that surprised face?
Did something happen?"
She must've been mixing flour, as she puts a bowl she's been mixing onto the table.

"Yeah―――I am surprised.
Um, everything's so different."
Actually, I don't remember how many years it's been since I last saw her doing something like cooking.

"Different...? Oh, you must mean Sakura-chan.
She went home. Someone from her house called her and she had to go home."

"...I see. So Shinji must've called here."
It's needless help, but I guess he wanted to take care of it as quickly as possible.
"Shinji-kun? Hm, oh well."
After tilting her head in question, Fuji-Nee goes back to the kitchen.

"――――――――"
...I'm a bit curious.
It's not completely dark yet, so I―――

Scene 01[]

―――I have to find out what Fuji-Nee's up to.
For the peace of our dinner, and for Saber, who's secretly looking forward to it!

"Excuse me... Oh, okonomiyaki? Are you hungry?"
"You're wrong. Sakura-chan left me in charge, so I'll be cooking tonight. I'll cook for all three of us, so can you go wake Saber-chan up?"

"――――――――"
Wow, I'm surprised.
I don't know about her choice of food, but Fuji-Nee's acting like a woman, huh?

"Yeah. You should be able to cook if you're that old. Huh...? Why are you cooking rice, Fuji-Nee? You don't need rice with okonomiyaki."

"We do. I'm making kani-tama, so it'll just be an omelet if we don't have rice."
Fuji-Nee cracks open an egg as she says so.
The egg drops into the flour she's been mixing.

"――――――――"
...I'm surprised.
It seems kani-tama and okonomiyaki are the same in Fuji-Nee's head.

"―――Fuji-Nee. I know you'll realize your mistake in a few minutes, but I'll come out and tell you."
"Uh... W-What? All right, tell me."
She must think something's wrong as well.
She looks at me with respect.

"Well. That's not kani-tama. It'll be a horrifying dish where you'll be putting okonomiyaki on top of rice. So let's remake this."
I clearly tell her.

"Hmm... Isn't it the same putting omelet or okonomiyaki on rice, kitchen chief?"
"No. First of all, I'm not a kitchen chief. We'll give Saber a wrong impression of Japanese food, so let's remake this."
I take the bowl away from Fuji-Nee.

"Eh―――n-no! I mixed it, so we can't waste it!"

"No, I'll make some snacks with this later, so this is going into the fridge.
You go crack about five eggs and mix them thoroughly. Oh, the crab and the bamboo shoots are ready? Then I'll make the sauce. I'll let you cook it.
It's all right. If I preheat the pan, even you can do it."

Well.
Now that it's decided, I'll need potato starch, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar――――

"...? What? I told you to do the eggs. Don't mix them too fast, okay? Use a chopstick and use the whole bowl to mix them."
"――――――――"
I don't know if she's listening or not, as she's just looking at me like she wants to say something.
Then.

"Ehehe. You have dignity in the kitchen."
Saying so, she opens the refrigerator.
"Hm..."
Well, I'm glad to hear that, but is it a good thing that it's only in the kitchen?

Scene 02[]

...Yeah.
I'll go check on Sakura before the sun sets.

"I'm going to take a walk. I don't know what's up with you, but I'll leave dinner up to you."
"All right, take care. Dinner's going to be a delicious kani-tama."
Kani-tama, huh?
I guess even Fuji-Nee should be able to make that.

I go up the hill tinted by the sun.
Sunset is early during winter.
I have to go to Sakura's house quickly and check up on her.

"Oh, Senpai? Why are you here at this time?"
"Oh――――well, I was just close by, so I thought I'd drop in."
"'Just close by', huh? All right, I'll say that's the case."

My bewilderment must have been funny, as Sakura smiles.
It's a big smile, and it doesn't look like Shinji's forcing her.

"Sakura. I really don't have any business here, but where's Shinji?
Is he home right now?"
"Nii-san? No, I don't think he's home yet."

"――――He's not home...? Then who called my house? Weren't you told to come back here by Shinji?"
"Huh...? Fujimura-Sensei only told me that I should go home since my grandfather's waiting."

"――――――――"
I see.
...But it is true that Shinji hasn't done anything to Sakura.
Shinji's her brother after all.
He would never involve such a good sister in this battle between the Masters.

...And there's one thing I have to tell her so I don't involve her in this mess.


We look at each other, dumbfounded.
We stare at each other for about ten seconds.

"U-Um... It's a bit disappointing, but it relieves me to hear that from you. I was told to stay at the house and not go anywhere during the night for a while."

"Y-Yeah, you're right. It's getting dangerous recently, so we should've done so earlier."

"Yes. I won't be able to go to your house for a while.
It's disappointing, but it'll all go back to normal if I endure it for just a short while. Please come see me at the archery club until then, Senpai."

Sakura bows and goes back into her house.

I manage to make it back before dinner.
An angry swordsman awaited me at the entrance―――and I told her what happened today, about how we eliminated the boundary field at school, and how Tohsaka is expecting a counterattack tomorrow.

...I don't tell her about Shinji.
I don't want her to consider him as an enemy until I figure out his true intentions.

"I understand. Then let us eat, Shirou. Taiga has made dinner and has been waiting."
She must be hungry, as Saber quickly makes her way to the living room.

"―――I see. I haven't eaten anything she's made since we were kids."
I'm half scared and half looking forward to it.

...Man.
Who could have imagined that it was going to turn into such a disaster...?

Scene 03[]

"I'm going to go talk to Saber. I don't know what's up, but I can leave you in charge of dinner, right?"
"Yup. Look forward to the delicious kani-tama I'll be making."

"......"
I am a bit worried, but kani-tama is like an omelet, so Fuji-Nee should be able to handle it.

"I just got home, Saber."
I take my shoes off as I go into the dojo.

"―――Welcome home, Shirou. It seems nothing much has happened today."
Saber must like the atmosphere, since she's always here.

I match Saber and sit Japanese-style to tell her what happened today――――about how we eliminated the boundary field at school, and how Tohsaka is expecting a counterattack tomorrow.

"...I see. So the battle with the Master is tomorrow? Then I shall sleep well tonight and save my energy."

I nod back.
I know I'm being too optimistic, but I don't tell her about Shinji.
I don't want her to consider him as an enemy until I figure out his true intentions.

"But Shirou. Should you be here when it is almost time for dinner?"
"Well, I came to report to you because I don't have anything to do and there's time until dinner.
It's not bad to relax until dinner once in a while."

"What...? Then you are not making dinner tonight...!?"
"Eh...? T-That's true, but is there a problem with that? Fuji-Nee's working hard, so I don't want to interrupt her."

"...Hmmm... Taiga's will to cook should certainly be respected. But... um, so you will not be helping her...?"

"Nope. It's all right. Fuji-Nee's a grown woman, so she should be able to make some kani-tama.
She might even be better than me. She has an A-rank in unexpectedness, after all."

I give her a weird explanation.
But Saber frowns.
"...All right. I shall believe your words over Taiga's.
...Let me make sure. I can trust you, right?"
She makes sure with a threatening tone.

"Y-Yeah. You can trust me."
"...I heard that. Please do not forget the oath you made."
Saber relaxes her shoulders.

...Man.
Who could have imagined that this was going to lead to such a disaster...?

Scene 04[]

It's time for dinner.
Fuji-Nee's special kani-tama bowl is ready on the table.
It's a simple dish where there's rice in the bowl and kani-tama put on top of it.
It looks like there's a yellow lid on the bowl, and it honestly doesn't look good.

But it should make the rice taste better since it's in a bowl.
It's like katsu-bowl and teriyaki-bowl.
There's no way it can taste bad because the good taste of the ingredients seep into the rice.
The only drawback is that the taste is simple, but that's a small price to pay.

"Itadakimasu."
"All right, itadakimasu."
"Itadakimasu."
We bow and dig into our food.

――――Then.
The food isn't soft like kani-tama. No, it feels strange like I'm eating a main dish.

"N-NO WAY!?
We have an emergency!! The kani-tama turned into something else in under a minute...!!!"

"........."
...This isn't an emergency or anything.
This is more like an okonomiyaki bowl.

"Hey, how did this happen!? I made it just like I was told!!"
"...Wow. Did the people at the Fujimura family teach you how to make this?"

"Yeah. I told them I'll be making a big omelet, so they gave me flour and other stuff."
"......"

I wanted her to realize the mistake right then.
I thought that being able to make an omelet was a function every human being was born with.
Kani-tama is just a variant of an omelet.
It was my mistake to assume that Fuji-Nee couldn't mess up something like that.
That's right, Fuji-Nee can't even cook an omelet...!

"Shirou."
...Then.
I hear a voice filled with disappointment.
"Saber...?"
I slowly turn to her.

"――――Shirou. This is hard to eat even for me."
...Crap... It's hard to tell, but it seems Saber's mad...

...The hellish dinner ends and it's time for a strategy meeting.
But I've already reported to Saber about what happened today.
Since it's likely that there'll be a fight tomorrow, we should be preparing.

"Then we will not be going out tonight?"
"No. It might be vexing for you, but sit tight for tonight. I don't intend to fight needless battles, and also, we're not in a condition to be fighting freely."

I'm inexperienced as a Master, and Saber has a limit to how many times she can fight since I'm not giving her any magical energy.
We can't be leisurely looking for Masters in our situation.

"...I understand. You certainly do have a point. It is not proactive, but we do need the utmost care for victory."

"―――But. If you have a will to fight, we cannot spend time leisurely. If we are to stay here tonight, we should use this time to train."

Saber stares at me.
She doesn't even need to tell me.
I brought Saber to this dojo with that in mind.

"I know. Do you remember what happened last night?
We trained a bit since you told me I was slacking off for coming home late last night.
...That was a good lesson for me. No matter what I do, I can't beat someone I can't beat. I couldn't realize such a simple thing until I fought you."

"With that in mind, I think it's important to train with you.
I don't know how effective it'll be, but I should be able to survive longer in battles if you train me hard."

"Then Shirou..."
"Yeah. Can you train me whenever we have the time?
For today, that'll be until we go to bed."

I take the shinai on the wall.
...It's still eight o'clock.
There's still four hours until bedtime, so I'll train my heart... out――――!?

"H-Hold on, Saber!!"
I stop Saber since I feel my life's in danger.
Because as Saber turns to me...
"What is it? It seems you would like to train your readiness for battle, so I am only answering your enthusiasm."
She is obviously ready to kill me.

"Let us start our training, Shirou.
I shall take that dullness out of you first. You should be alert so that something like tonight will never happen again."
So she is mad about dinner...!

"W-What is that!? That was all Fuji-Nee's fault!
A-And even though you complained, you ate all of it――――"

"――――Please do not make excuses.
By the way, Shirou. I will tell you before you faint. That was out of necessity. Please do not forget that."

"Oh――――"
...Saber disappears.

Oh man.
So I'll go through four hours of torture now, huh? .................Grudges over food sure are scary.

Scene 05[]

Dinner's over.
I finish cleaning up after dinner and face Saber in the dojo.
I tell her what happened today――――about how we eliminated the boundary field at school, and how Tohsaka is expecting a counterattack tomorrow.

...I don't tell her about Shinji.
I don't want her to consider him as an enemy until I figure out his true intentions.

"Then we will not be going out tonight?"
"No. It might be vexing for you, but sit tight for tonight. I don't intend to fight needless battles, and also, we're not in a condition to be fighting freely."

I'm inexperienced as a Master, and Saber has a limit to how many times she can fight since I'm not giving her any magical energy.
We can't be leisurely looking for Masters in our situation.

"...I understand. You certainly do have a point. It is not proactive, but we do need the utmost care for victory."
"―――But. If you have a will to fight, we cannot spend time leisurely. If we are to stay here tonight, we should use this time to train."

Saber stares at me.
She doesn't even need to tell me.
I brought Saber to this dojo with that in mind.

"I know. Do you remember what happened last night?
We trained a bit since you told me I was slacking off for coming home late last night. ...Well, it was more like you were beating me up."

"......! That is because Taiga told me that I had to go hard on you or you would not listen to me. It is not because I was angry yesterday――――"
Saber says so in a panic.

"No, it's fine. ...That was a good lesson for me.
No matter what I do, I can't beat someone I can't beat.
I couldn't realize such a simple thing until I fought you."

"――――"
"With that in mind, I think it's important to train with you. I don't know how effective it'll be, but I should be able to survive longer in battles if you train me hard."

"Then Shirou..."
"Yeah. Can you train me whenever we have the time?
For today, that'll be until we go to bed."

I take the shinai on the wall.
...It's still eight o'clock.
There's still four hours until bedtime, so I'll train my heart out.

Scene 06[]

"Ouch... Man, Saber never went easy on me..."
I get into my futon.
My body is covered in bruises and pain-killing patches, and I'm sure it'll all be sore tomorrow.

"――――I'm tired."
I take a breath.
I trained my "strengthening" magic after Saber's training, and I'm tired both physically and mentally.

Saber and Fuji-Nee are sleeping in a room a bit away from here, but I don't care.
I'm just tired.
I'll sleep for now and prepare for tomorrow――――

...Am I dreaming?
My mind's dozing off.
My body's asleep and I can't move a finger.
Then――――this has to be a dream.

...It's a dark night.
My ears are ringing.
My feet are asleep, but I'm walking down the hill.

It's cold.
The wind is blowing on me, and since I'm in my pajamas, my body is freezing.
...This coldness is unlike Fuyuki City.
The chill would be cold enough to wake me up if this were a dream.

I walk through the empty town.
The annoying sound won't stop.
Ignoring my shivering body, my feet are moving toward somewhere.

"――――Oh."
I try to scream and realize that my throat is frozen.
This isn't a dream.
This can't be a dream.
But my mind's still asleep.
My limbs――――they aren't following my orders, and they are walking on as if manipulated by something.

"Oh――――"
This must be the destination.
My feet move faster as they move up the stairs――――
――――The ringing in my ears turns into a voice.

"――――!"
No, that's wrong.
The sound hasn't changed at all.
It has been repeating the same thing over and over.
―――Come.
What fills my head is a female voice filled with magical energy.

I see the mountain gate.
Something's on the other side.
――――And...
If I cross that gate, I won't come out alive.

"――――!"
I don't know what it is, but my dozing mind screams out for me to run away.
Go back.
Go back.
Go back.
Stop. You can still make it. Wake up and go back. Wake up, wake up, wake up, don't listen to that voice...!!!!!
"......Oh――――!"
My consciousness wakes up.
My head clears and my will finally returns.

But it's too late.
My limbs don't obey me as they go through the mountain gate.
―――The only certain thing is my mind.
My body does not listen to my will and walks into the Ryudou Temple following the voice.

―――The temple is covered in darkness.
In the center stands "something" with an inhuman magical energy.

The figure wavers like a mirage.
The shadow reminding me of Death strips off the darkness and――――
The figure becomes a witch like one would see in a fairy tale.

"―――Stop right there, boy.
I will kill you if you come any closer."
A sneering laugh.
...It seems my body is under her control.
My feet that never stopped freeze at the command.

"――――――――"
My consciousness wavers.
My limbs still do not move, and an unknown "enemy" is standing before me.
...Yes, she's an enemy.
I can be sure of that.

She's a Servant―――a heroic spirit that excels the most in magic out of the seven Servants―――
"...Servant Caster...!"
I move my throat with all my effort and glare at my enemy.

"Yes, that's right, boy. Welcome to my temple. I welcome you, Saber's Master."
Her cool voice is mocking me.

"――――!"
I put power into my legs, but my body will not move.
―――Damn, what the hell am I doing...!?
I've been lured here, and on top of that, I can't move a muscle...!

"Ah―――kuh――――!"
I concentrate on my limbs with all my power.
I don't know what kind of a trick it is, but it has to be her magic that's restraining me.
Then if I can extract her magical energy out of my body...!

"You think you can free yourself? How cute of you. You're going to kill my spell with such a method? How naive."
"Wh――――at――――?"

I concentrate all my will to search throughout my body.
Caster's magical energy...
The enemy's magical energy that's inside me, restraining my body.

...I look inside my body while keeping my eyes open.
It's all right. It's nothing difficult if I'm calm.
I identify the flow of magical energy every night.
I just have to do what I've been doing and identify Caster's poison inside of me.
Even if I can't get it out of my body, I can concentrate it into one of my limbs so that I can move the other three――――

"―――Huh?"
How can this be?
Caster's magical energy is not mixed within me.
The only poison-like element is this one small point on my chest.
But all of my body is acting abnormally.

"――――――――"
It's not that there's something wrong with the blood flowing in me.
If there's something abnormal, it's not my blood but the blood vessels themselves.
It's like having my heart locked up.
The red spot on my chest has to be Caster's magical energy.
One cursed word is taking away my body's authority.

"No―――way."
It means I was cursed when I was sleeping.
Even if I was asleep, it should have been impossible for me to be seized by a magic cast from so far away.

Magi have magic resistance.
It is the power to repel "magic" such as hypnotism, binding, and coercion.
As long as one is a magus, one cannot be easily controlled by others.

―――It's a fundamental law.
Magi have Magic Circuits.
The circuit in one's body does not only make magical energy, but it can also repel external magical energy.

Therefore, it is difficult to interfere with someone with a Magic Circuit, and it is difficult even to control a magus several ranks lower than you.
As the Magic Circuit repels external magical energy, magic is destroyed before it can be completed.

For that reason, indirect intervention magic, such as hypnotism and binding, has a low success rate.
Even if the target is not a magus, the magic can be repelled unconsciously if the target has a Magic Circuit.

From that point of view, an intervention of just attacking with pure magical energy like Tohsaka does, making a weapon in this world and attacking the opponent as a result, is a simple method.
Physical impact works on everyone.
It does not matter if the target has a Magic Circuit or not, as people will bleed if they are cut with a knife.

"――――――――"
That's why this situation is strange.
...I'm sure I could be affected if I had magic cast on me from close-range.
If I had met Caster before and she had cast "coercion" on me, it's probable that I could be controlled even at a distance.

―――But I have not met Caster before, nor have I had a curse cast on me.
...So this is our first meeting.
Without moving from here, Caster cast a spell to the faraway Emiya house and controlled my body.

―――The word "witch" pops into my head.
If she can control a magus's body from a distance of a few kilometers...
Does it not mean that Caster can control everyone in this town from here――――?

"――――――――!"
...My spirits weaken.
As the magic is complete, there's no way I can dispel it.
I can't do anything unless Caster releases me or I get some outside help―――!

"Do you get it now? It is my magic that is binding you and not my magical energy.
A completed magic cannot be washed away by water like magical energy.
It is just like solid and liquid. The solid does not crumble even if water is poured on it, right?"
...The shadow steps closer to me.
The bluish-purple robe melting into the night is smiling.

"But there are exceptions.
For example... Yes, the magic you people make is like mud buildings to me.
I can wash it away with a violent water current, even if it may be a solid.
Do you understand? The difference between us is that great."

"I―――see. That's why you brought me here, huh?"

"Yes. All the Masters are weak, but you are the weakest by far.
Your magic resistance is on the same level as that of the ordinary people in this town.
It is only natural that I would want to talk to such a Master, you know?"

She smiles.
She shows superiority as if I'm her prey.

"――――――――!"
...A chill runs through me.
Don't lie about wanting to talk to me!
She's ready to kill me at any moment――――!

"See, you're misunderstanding again. Don't worry. I can't suck up your magical energy if I kill you.
Everyone in this town is mine.
I have to let them live and have them give me every bit of their magical energy."
Her laugh echoes in my ears.

"Wh――――at?"
A missing piece fits inside my head.
Did she just say she'll suck up all the magical energy from the people in this town――――!?

"Caster...! You involved innocent people in this...!"
"Oh, you didn't know? I thought you already knew since you cooperated with that little girl―――I see.
You didn't know, huh?"
Caster smiles even more.
It seems like she's pondering how to kill her prey.

"In that case, I shall tell you. I, Servant Caster, have the privilege to make a 'territory'.
A magus has a workshop, right? It's just like that.
I constructed a temple in this place to protect myself.
Fortunately, this land is an unfavorable land for Servants.
It's excellent as my territory, and most of all, it's easy to collect magical energy from here."

"I couldn't hold back at first since you people only had small amounts of magical energy. But I can collect it pretty well now.
You can see it, right? The preserved magical energy, pieces of people, in this land collected from hundreds of people."

"Then―――the incidents occurring in town are..."
"Yes. I told you this is my temple, right?
Then is it not the people's duty to offer me sacrifices?"

"――――!"
The strange coma incidents happening in town.
I thought there weren't that many victims, but she just said hundreds of people.

―――When I strain my eyes...
It looks like the swirl of magical energy in this place is made of more than a thousand souls.

"Caster......!!!!!!"
I concentrate all my will into my limbs.
But there's no change, and Caster's standing there as if to make fun of me.

"Well, let us finish our conversation.
It must be boring for you to stay like that as well."
She whispers into my ear.
At the same time―――the enemy I couldn't see fills my vision.

"Saber's Master. I shall take that Command Spell from you.
...Saber is too valuable to have disappear.
I shall have her defeat that annoying Berserker."

"――――――――"
Caster raises her arm.
Her fingers are going for my arm――――

"Take... my... Command Spell――――?"
Is that possible?
I think Tohsaka said that one needs to pull out the nerves along with the Command Spell――――

"That's right. I will cut off your arm and transplant the Command Spell to my Master.
But the Command Spell is one with the owner's Magic Circuit. So taking out the Command Spell means I will be taking out your nerves as well."
Caster says so as if it's nothing at all.

"Wha――――"
Pull out my nerves?
She'll cut off my arm and take all the nerves in my body with it?
If she does that, I'll――――

"Yes, you should turn into a vegetable. But you can be assured that I won't take your life."
"――――!!!!"
I desperately put power into my limbs, but they don't even twitch.
My limbs won't move, and I'm like a prisoner about to be executed...

―――A bewitching smile.
The glowing fingers reach out for my left hand like a crawling spider――――

Scene 08[]

"――――――――――――"
My body feels heavy.
My awakening comes with a headache.

"...I wonder if it's because of the wound from yesterday. My right arm's still hurting."
I murmur while getting up.
It's past six o'clock.

"Crap, I should be making breakfast...!"
I jump out of my futon and change instantly.
Fuji-Nee and Sakura have morning practice.
They'll be leaving here around six-thirty, so I won't make it unless I hurry.

After I see them off, I drink tea with Saber.
Time flies by and it's past seven o'clock before I realize it.

"I'm going now. Take care while I'm gone, Saber."
"Yes. Please be careful yourself as well. Do not do anything reckless, even if you may be with Rin."
"Yeah, I learned that yesterday. I'll ask for your help if I'm to go after an enemy."

I wave goodbye and leave.
The morning air is peaceful.
But the place I'm heading to isn't normal anymore.

"――――All right."
I get myself mentally ready as I go down the hill.
Tohsaka's acting like a Master, so I should act as one too.

I get to class right on time.
I greet people as I make my way to my seat.
"――――Huh?"
On my way...
My eyes catch a glimpse of someone and my mind goes blank.

"――――!"
I don't need to think.
I run straight to Shinji.
"Shinji, you――――!"

"Hey, Emiya. What's going on? You're looking pretty dangerous. Did something happen to you while I was gone?"
"Shut up. What did you do to Mitsuzuri?"

"Mitsuzuri――? Oh, Ayako. I heard she ran away. I heard about it in the range this morning. So she was found in Shinto, huh?"
I don't know what's funny, but Shinji laughs.
It looks like he's sneering at her.

"...Don't play dumb. You're the last one that talked to her. I'm asking you what you did to her then."

"Huh? We only chatted for a bit.
More importantly, did you hear about it, Emiya!? Ayako was fucked up in the back alley! It must've been rough! I heard her eyes were spaced out and her uniform was messed up.
Well, I don't know what happened, but it's not something I can ignore, right? I'm kind of curious how that conceited girl got trashed."

"――――――――"
"Why the angry face? It's just a joke. Ayako's under care now, right? I think she's staying at her house now. Well, I guess it'll be harder for her once she comes back, because the rumor will have spread by then."

"―――Shinji. Are you saying you told everyone at the archery range about this?"
"Maybe. But all the first years know about it already. I hear the rumor's been flying around since yesterday."
Shinji sounds happy.

"――――――――"
...I clench my fists.
Did he go around and tell everyone such a story?
Mitsuzuri is a girl. Everyone thinks she's strong, but she's still a girl.
So no matter how strong she is, it'll destroy her if such a rumor is spreading.

And he still spread the rumor in spite of that?
He took a secret and spread it irresponsibly――――!?

"―――Shinji, you...!"
I grab his shoulder.
"Don't glare at me like that. I said I don't know anything about it. You'll regret it if you hit me for selfish reasons."
Shaking my hand off, Shinji goes to sit down.

The homeroom bell rings.
"
!"
I can't stay standing when everyone's sitting down.
I glare at Shinji one more time and head to my seat.

Scene 09[]

The day ends.
School's over and the students head home one after another.

"――――――――"
I could have questioned Shinji, but I don't have any proof right now.
Even if I told him about seeing him in the woods yesterday, it would amount to nothing if he tells me he just happened to be there.

"...I have to find proof first."
I don't know if he's a Master or not.
But I'm sure he has something to do with Mitsuzuri's case.

"How to identify a Master... I can only strip them and look for the Command Spell, huh?"
Well, I'm sure no Master's going to allow me to do that.

"――――It's almost time. Tohsaka might know of a good way."
I get up.
I promised Tohsaka I'd meet her in the hallway after school.

―――I get together with Tohsaka and look around the whole school.
According to Tohsaka, the boundary field has its foundations set up throughout the school.

Tohsaka's been searching and erasing them, but it seems they keep coming back up or new ones are created, preventing Tohsaka from completely eliminating the boundary field.

"The boundary field's already set up.
What I'm doing is weakening the effect. It's better than nothing, and I'm sure the Master won't activate it until it's complete."
...That's the case according to her.

"Tohsaka. Can I ask you something?"
I call out to Tohsaka after she eliminates the mark on the rooftop.

"What? Do you still feel something strange on the rooftop?"
"Oh――――no, this is about a different matter. I don't feel anything strange here now. I can't feel anything."

"I see. I guess we've erased all the active marks now.
You can't sense magical energy, but you're really sensitive to abnormality in the air. I didn't think I'd be able to erase all the marks so fast."

Tohsaka's in a good mood.
I'm happy I got to be of help, but this is no time for that.

"Tohsaka. Can Masters recognize other Masters? Does their presence change even if their Servant is in spirit form?"
"No, but... yes, you can identify a Master if he hasn't done anything to hide it."

"All Masters are magi, so you can find them if you follow the magical energy. Additionally, they've formed a contract with a great familiar called a Servant, so their magical energy will leak even if they hide it."

"You haven't noticed since you're slow, but I leave magical energy behind me. A magus would know right away I'm a Master, and I'm sure I can recognize another Master if I see him or her."

"Really...!? But you didn't know I was a magus. Why is that?"
"What? You want me to say it?"
Tohsaka sounds mean now.
...I have a bad feeling about this.

"No, it's fine. I think I figured it out."
"Smart move. Well, that's how it is. There are people who have small amounts of magical energy that aren't magi. Magi approve others as magi only when they have more than a set amount of magical energy."

"Yeah, yeah. I figured that out.
...Oh, then what do you feel from me now?"

"Hmm, you haven't changed at all.
I heard it was an incomplete summoning, so I bet the connection between you two is small except when healing your wounds.
Well, I guess that's possible since you're a special case."

...Hm.
Then Shinji isn't a Master.
Even if I can't tell, Tohsaka can identify a Master.
Tohsaka should be able to feel the lingering magical energy if Shinji is a Master with a Servant.

"Oh. You say we have to look for Masters, but it should be easy once we start. We just need to follow the trail of magical energy, right?"

"That's not true. If they have an item that can hide their magical energy, nobody would find out about them.
...Well, I think items that can hide a magical energy as large as a Servant are rare, so I don't think any Master has one."

"Then you can't detect a Master even if he's close to you, if he has such an item?"

"Hmm. It would depend on what he has, but I think I'd be able to tell if I go near him. As long as they've formed a contract with a Servant, friction with the world will occur."

"If I can't identify a Master even when I'm near him, it means that the Master isn't using his Servant.
Well, I guess there are exceptions, but that'll be the case nine times out of ten."

We return to the classroom.
Even though we couldn't find any clues about other Masters, it seems Tohsaka's happy that we eliminated a lot of the marks.
She said something about the enemy coming out in the future because we were so active and whatnot.

"You're patient. You don't know how long it'll be before that happens, right?"

"Really? A person who would set up a boundary field like this won't just stay quiet if something like this happens. I'm guessing he or she will come out tomorrow.
This person won't let the same thing happen twice."
Tohsaka sneers at the Master we have yet to see.

"Hmm. So that's how it is?"
"Yup. ―――Well, I have some things to do, so I'll be going home now. I have to buy a lot of stuff in preparation for tomorrow."

"I'll see you tomorrow. Go home early today, okay? Go straight home."

"Hm? Oh, you're worrying about me?"
"...! N-No, it just screws up my plans if my ally dies! I'm just making sure!"

Tohsaka says so quickly.
Her panic is so unlike her, and it's obvious that she's only hiding her embarrassment.
―――I see.
I'm beginning to understand more about Tohsaka.

"Anyway! You're too defenseless, so don't do careless things! I'm an exception, but other Masters will kill you in a matter of seconds!"
Tohsaka looks away and tries to leave.

"Oh――――――――"
Seeing her leave, I suddenly...
"Tohsaka. Is Archer by your side?"
...Murmur something meaningless.

"He is. What? Do you need to talk to him?"
"...No. I'm just wondering if you two are getting along."
Tohsaka looks back at me in wonder at the sudden question.

―――Then.

"Ohhh, I see.
You don't need to worry. He's a good guy even though he's rebellious. He's immature in spite of his looks, and he's fun to be with."

Saying so happily, Tohsaka disappears down the stairs.

Scene 10[]

Mitsuzuri's case might still be affecting me, as I am at the archery range before I know it.
The range is far from the school building and seems deserted.
The club activities are over, so there's nothing to find here.

"......I guess I'll go home."
I turn around and head to the gate.
―――And between me and the gate...
...Stands Matou Shinji, as if to block my way.

"Hey, you're going home this late? Weren't all students supposed to go home immediately since it's getting dangerous recently?"
"――――――――"
I don't think I can be calm facing Shinji here.
I ignore him and keep walking.

"I see. You're so tired that you can't even greet your friend, huh?
You're tired because you're doing meddlesome things like destroying the spells."
His voice sounds delighted.
"――――!"
I jump back and ready myself.

"Spell―――if you're using that word, then..."
I glare at Shinji.

"Yup, that's right. The boundary field that you thoroughly eliminated is a security measure I set up.
If you destroy it like that, I'll be so scared that I won't be able to come to school anymore."

"――――――――"
...I see.
So this is how stupid I am.
I knew about it when I saw Shinji in the woods, but I rejected the idea because I was unprepared for the truth.

"Hold on. Don't be on guard like that. Since that annoying Tohsaka's gone, let's talk things over as men. As you know, I don't like fighting."
"Talk things over...? You don't want to fight me?"

"Of course not.
I'm guessing you were forced to be this Master thing as well, right?
It happened to me too. I was forced to be a Master even though I'm not a magus, nor do I have a will to fight."

"I'm trying to find a way to get through this without fighting anybody. So that's why I have no intention of fighting you."

"...I see. Then what's up with that boundary field? You're saying you don't want to fight even though you have such a thing set up?"

"Are you stupid? That's for my protection. There's a pure magus named Tohsaka in this school.
She won't hesitate to fight. Since I'm not a magus, I have to set up protection for myself.
That boundary field is set up for that purpose alone. I won't activate it as long as I don't get attacked."

"――――――――"
...He's making sense.
I don't know if Shinji is really a Master or not, or how he became one.
But I can trust his story.
If Shinji says so, I should believe him.
But before that――――

"Shinji. Are you the one that attacked the female student yesterday?"
I have to get this question answered.

"...Oh, that? I couldn't help it.
My Servant's unmanageable, and she attacks people if I let her be.
I'm just a normal person. I'm not a magus like Tohsaka, so it's hard for me to get her to obey me."

"―――Then what happened yesterday is an accident? Your Servant did it herself?"

"Yeah, I'll be careful from now on. I don't want anything happening here either. I'll make sure the only thing she does is to protect me."

"―――You swear that's true, Shinji?"

"Yeah. Why would I lie? I could've kept it a secret, but I told you about it.
You were getting suspicious of me, right? I'll have to fight back if you attack me, so I came out with it before that happened.
――――I don't want to fight anybody."

...I can't trust everything he says.
But if Shinji really thinks so―――everything would work out.

"All right, I'll believe you. If you're not going to do anything, I won't do anything to you either. That's fine, right, Shinji?"

"Good, you're understanding for once.
But that's not good enough. Can't you tell why I came here to talk?"

Shinji holds out his hand.
So that means...

"Do you want to cooperate with me, Emiya? I'm sure you don't know, but the Matou family is a family of magi.
...Well, magic died out in my father's generation, but we still have the knowledge. How does it sound? I'll be helpful to an inexperienced Master like you, right?"

"――――――――"
The Matou line is a family of magi...?
Tohsaka didn't say such a thing.
No, she must have excluded him since magic died out in his father's generation, like he said.

"So, what do you say? We can survive through the Holy Grail War if we cooperate. You shouldn't even need to think about it."

"――――――――"
His hand is held out.
...Shinji's proposal isn't bad.
It makes sense, and it's a viable option.
But――――

"...Shinji. Does Sakura know that you're a Master?"

"Huh? You really must be an amateur, Emiya.
Listen, a family of magi only teaches its secrets to the eldest son. Other children are just spare organs.
It's meaningless to teach magic to such a thing, and it's a waste of time.
...Geez. A slow woman like her wouldn't be able to use magic.
I'm the only one that inherited the secret."

"――――――――"
I see.
That's really good.
Sakura shouldn't be involved in all this.
I want her to be smiling happily all the time.

"―――Shinji. If you won't do anything to me, I won't do anything to you. That's good enough, right?"

"......I see. So you won't cooperate with me?"

"We don't need to, right? If we're not going to fight, cooperation's meaningless.
If you only want to protect yourself, have the church take care of you until the Holy Grail War ends. You know that, right?"

"...Oh. What is this? Are you trying to win this war?"

"――――――――"
...I have no intention of fighting.
But I'll fight anyone that attacks me, and I can't just ignore people that'll bring disaster to this town.
And――――

"...I won't kill people. But I have to see what the Holy Grail really is. To do so, I have to survive until the end, right?"
I turn my back to Shinji.

"I see. So you're going to fight no matter what, huh?
It has nothing to do with me, but you're not intending to involve Sakura in this, are you?"

"―――There's no way I'll let her get involved. You're going to hide this from her too, right?"

"Of course. But as her brother, I can't let her stay at a house with a guy who's going to fight.
If you're going to fight, I won't let Sakura out of my place until the Holy Grail War ends. That's fine, right, Emiya?"

"――――――――"
...Shinji does have a point.
As long as I'll be fighting, my house is in danger.

"All right, I'll tell Sakura. Is that good for you, Shinji?"

"Okay. I'm glad you're so caring.
To be honest, I was scared if you were going to hold her hostage. Well, my problem is solved for now."
I don't know what's funny, but Shinji laughs.

"That's all I have to say. I'm going home."
"Go ahead. Oh, but you know that this is our secret, right? I came out with this secret since you're my friend. I don't know what I'll do if you go and tell somebody about this."

That must mean he'll activate the boundary field if I tell Tohsaka about this.

"――Yeah, I won't tell anyone. But it's a different story if she finds out herself. I'm going to help her as much as I can. I won't stop her from fighting you if she finds out about you.
...So if you don't want to be found, don't do anything."

I head to the gate for real.
The school building is tinted by the setting sun...
Shinji sees me off without a word.

Scene 11[]

――――Caster extends her finger.

"Da――――mn―――...!"
I want to fight back, but my body will not move.
My senses are taken away, and I'm sure she will eliminate my body in a matter of seconds.

"Goodbye, boy. If you are going to mourn, mourn that you became a Master with such small skills."
My body does not move and accepts the finger of death.

"――――!"
I resist the urge to close my eyes and keep glaring at Caster.

"Wow. You are a good boy. I like such good efforts."
Caster sneers at my resistance and puts her finger on my Command Spell.

"Oh――――――――"
...Even my free will is numbing.
...In my fading consciousness...
Clang!
I hear a sound like crashing swords from the other side of the mountain gate.

"――――!"
What kind of a miracle is it?
I hear tens of sounds cutting through air, and numerous arrows pierce the ground in front of me.
Caster instantly retreats, her robe fluttering behind her.

"Wha――――"
There are arrows pierced in the ground in front of Caster.
The 13 arrows were shot from above.
They were probably all shot at the same time, and I'm sure it would've gotten Caster if there had been one more arrow.

The owner of the arrows is standing on top of the mountain gate.
The knight in red jumps down to the ground empty-handed.

"Heh. I thought you'd be dead by now, but I guess you're pretty tenacious."
The man―――Archer says so while standing in front of me as if to protect me from Caster.

"You―――why...?"
"I just happened to drop by. Don't worry about it.
...So how is your body? I should have cut Caster's string with that attack."

"Huh――――?"
After he says so, I check my hand.
...It moves.
My frozen body has its freedom returned with just one attack by Archer.

"It moves. Caster's binding is gone, but―――"
"That's good. Do what you want now... Or so I would like to say, but―――do not move if you don't want to be killed by her. If you move recklessly..."

"Kuh, Archer...!? What is Assassin doing!?"
"See, she'll take out her anger on you.
A woman's fury is hard to control. ...Man, I think this will get rough."

"―――Well. Don't get too mad, Caster.
Assassin is fighting Saber right now. I do not know who that samurai is, but he is a strong swordsman to keep Saber at bay.
Should you not praise him instead?"

Even though he's facing his enemy, there's no tension in Archer.
Caster must have noticed that as well, as she regains her calm.

"―――Heh, stop with the ridiculous talk. You cannot call him a heroic spirit if he cannot stop you. He is not strong enough to be called a swordsman."

"Oh. You sound like Assassin is your ally―――so your Masters must be cooperating.
There is no other explanation to this situation of having two Servants in the same place."

Caster is staring at Archer silently.
I can't see her expression hidden behind the robe, but it seems Caster is bewildered.

"―――Is that true, Archer...!? That Saber's here and fighting Servant Assassin, and that Assassin's Master and Caster's Master are cooperating...!?"

"Yes. Assassin is guarding outside the gate and Caster is hiding behind the gate. It is obvious that they are cooperating.
It is not rare for Masters to team up. You and Rin are cooperating, to give an example."

"Oh."
He's right, now that he mentions it.
―――Then that means there are two Masters here...!?

"Fu――――
Fufu, ahahahahaha! I was wondering what you were going to say, but you are so off, Archer!"

"Hm? Oh, was I wrong? ...Man, I was confident that you two are allies."

"Yes, you are terribly wrong.
Allies―――? I would cooperate with that dog? With the man that's under my control?"

Caster does not stop laughing.
Her laugh is so unsuitable that the tense atmosphere disperses.

In contrast...
Archer is gritting his teeth.

"
"
I sense something that was not there before.
It is not Caster's enmity nor the magical energy surrounding this place.
For the first time since he came to this place...
Archer is showing his enmity.

"Yes, your guess is correct, Archer.
My Master is not cooperating with anybody, and the same goes for Assassin's Master.
No, first of all, Assassin does not have a Master...!"

"Wh――――at?"
Assassin doesn't have a Master?
What does that mean?
Every Servant needs a Master to exist.
Weren't they supposed to disappear if they didn't have a supply of magical energy from their Master?

"―――Caster. You broke the rule."

"Of course not. I haven't broken the rule. Magi summon the Servants, right?
Then what is wrong with Caster, a magus, summoning a Servant!?"

The witch in the black robe laughs.
"――――――――"
...That means...
Servant Assassin is a heroic spirit summoned by Caster――――!

"A Servant who controls a Servant, huh? I see. That is why he is a fictional hero.
As Assassin was summoned by a improper Master, someone other than the proper "assassin" was summoned. ...I don't mind that. It doesn't concern me who the heroic spirit is, as I only need to defeat them.
But I'm sure this is all under your judgment, is it not?"

"...! ...Let me ask you. How did you arrive at that conclusion, Archer?"

"Oh, it's just a hunch. Masters are magi.
When a magus summons a familiar that is superior to him, I'm sure the relationship isn't that of a servant and a master.
It is natural for the Master to be on his guard against a familiar of greater power.
...If I were your Master, I would not give any freedom to a witch. There is no way he would allow you to summon a Servant that would only obey your orders."

"...Heh. It seems you have some intelligence.
All right. I shall dismiss your insult in deference to your cleverness."

Caster stares at Archer as she laughs.
...There's only enmity between the two now.
They're about seven meters apart.
With the charge that Archer showed at school, he should be able to slash Caster even before she can finish casting a spell――――

"I understand now. Saber, Lancer, and Rider have strong magic resistance. It is on a different level from this guy behind me.
It is hard to affect them with magic. Therefore, you cannot match them since you are a magus."

"Then it is only natural for you to resort to tactics.
You broke the rules to summon Servant Assassin.
You created your territory here and collect souls from the people in this town.
You don't fight yourself, and merely observe the progress of the war.
You go so far, so I assume you must have your Master restrained. I'm sure he's a puppet like this stupid Master here."

She smiles.
That sends a chill up my spine.
She's not only collecting magical energy from the people in town.
She's even treating her Master as an "object" like she treated me――――

"――――――――"
...Caster's dangerous.
She's not a pure threat like Berserker. But she must be the most troublesome enemy as she worsens the situation without showing herself.

"Yes, you're right, Archer.
But you're wrong if you think I will be no match for you.
It is easy for me to win the Holy Grail War.
I am working hard because I am thinking about what comes after. I am not working out a strategy in fear of you people."

"―――Oh. So you say it's easy to defeat us Servants? Well said for a witch that only runs away."

"I did say so. I'm stronger than anyone here. Saber and Berserker aside, you shouldn't even be able to scratch me."

"You should be the one thinking about running away.
I did forgive you the first time, but there won't be a second time.
I will give an appropriate punishment to those who call me a 'witch'."

Caster's robe distorts.
The magical energy in the air becomes a dense fog and covers Caster's body.
With it in front of him...
"――――This shall be interesting. So you say I can't even put a scratch on you?"
Archer murmurs in delight.

"Yes. You will not even be able to touch me."
The black shadow answers.
The knight in red laughs.

"Then I shall try once. If I cannot accomplish it in one try, I will entrust Saber with this task."
He sprints like the wind to Caster.

The red shadow runs.
I don't know when he got them, but in Archer's hands are those weapons――――those twin swords.

"――――!"
He does not allow time for any spellcasting.
Archer closes in on Caster even before she can raise her hand...
And he slashes Caster in half with his swords.

The robe, cut in half, scatters in the wind.
"Hm――――――"
Archer appears disappointed, standing in front of the enemy he slashed so easily.

It must be because it was so easy.
She talked so big, yet she lost without even attacking him once.
Anybody would lose their spirit.

"............"
Archer is still holding onto his swords.
"............"
His red clothing.
His black and white shortswords are beautiful, and they captivate me.
...This is strange.
Am I captivated by those swords?

...Those twin swords...
They must be great swords with history, but I feel no malice from them.
Noble Phantasms are excellent weapons, so it's natural that they are beautiful.
If I could see Saber's sword, I bet it would be magnificent.

But they are not like that.
Fighting spirit that intends to beat others...
Desire to be famous...
Competitive spirit that tries to beat another weapon...
Faith to accomplish some great deed...
The sense of purpose found in famous swords and demonic swords is not in these.

...They were made because somebody wanted to make them.
Unrefined twin swords made without a will, as if to question the meaning of the swordsmith.
I think those are swords like that.
Mirrored swords without vanity.
Black and white, strange swords that represent yin and yang.

――――I am captivated because...
Their existence is just too beautiful.

Caster's slashed body disappears.
"――――――――"
As Archer starts to put his weapons away after seeing it...

"...Too bad, Archer. I did not think you were that weak."

Caster's voice echoes through the empty temple.

"......!"
Archer jumps.
This is exactly like what happened here a while ago.
The light bullets appear from the sky to pierce Archer,
and Archer knocks them down with his swords.
―――No.
This isn't like before.

"Wha――――"
The ground is scorching red.
The magical energy in that small light is about three times my full magical energy.
Even Archer would have had his body blown away if he took a direct hit.

I look up.
There's no moon, and seas of clouds are drifting through the night sky.
The black magus floats in the middle, as if reigning over the heavens.

"―――It must be transportation or control of matter. Either way, it seems you can do something close to sorcery in this territory.
...I have a better opinion of you now, Caster. Wow, no wonder you can talk big."

Archer readies his swords while looking up at Caster.

"Really? But you've let me down, Archer.
I tested you since I thought you might come in handy, but you're below Assassin if that's the result."

"Wow, that hurts. I can try to do better if there is a next time."
"――――Of course not. Fools do not get a second chance.
You will die here, Archer."

"Damn――――!"
Archer starts off.
He sprints to get away from Caster, to get out of this place.

"Hah, do you think you can get away?"
Caster moves her wand.
After the wand targets Archer...
Something ridiculous happens before me.

"N――――"
Nobody can hear me say "no way".

Caster's attack is a rain without pause.
The shooting lights are no different from a bombing raid.
Each magic is a deadly attack, and Caster is shooting them off like rain.
I may be an amateur, but even I can understand how ridiculous this 'magic' is.

That's more like great magic.
To activate it, one needs a simple magic circle and a "ten count", a spellcasting of more than ten verses.
Because great magic is strong, casting it takes time.
A normal magus would take about a minute to cast such a big magic.
Even a magus that could use high-speed casting would take thirty seconds or so.

But she did it in an instant.
She didn't even cast the spell, but just pointed her wand. And she's shooting them off in rapid succession. I can't even think of someone who could compare with her――――!

"...! You fox. You must've stored huge amounts of energy, shooting that many A-rank spells in succession――――!"

He must not be able to avoid them anymore, as he runs while deflecting them with his swords.
―――Archer tries to run out of the temple, but he changes his course midway.

"You idiot...!
How long are you going to just stand there...!?"
Archer charges at me with a scary expression.

"Huh?"
That makes me realize.
The place I'm standing isn't safe at all now.
I'm already in the range of the shooting lights――――!

"Damn, why do I have to do such a thing――――!?"
Archer comes at me.
"――――!"
The instant I try to avoid him by jumping back...

My body is flying through the air.

"Huh?"
I try to shake him off in reflex.
...I can't believe it.
Archer's running while carrying me―――!?

"...! Let me down, you idiot! What the hell are you thinking!?"
"I don't know.
Just shut up, you idiot! I'll get a headache thinking about how stupid I am if you tell me about it!"

"Idiot!? You know you're an idiot, and you still call me an idiot!? You idiot!"
"...! Are you a kid or something!? You can't be helped if you're a kid and stupid! At least pick one, you idiot!"

Archer must be frantic, as his words make no sense.
I've been saved by him, but I just can't accept this.

"You――――just let go of me! I can take care of this myself! I don't need your help!"

No, more than that, I can't stand to be a burden on him.
Archer should've been able to escape by now if he were by himself.
But the exit is farther now that he came to save me.
He must be an easy target for Caster, as she is above us.

"Archer! Are you listening to me...!?"
"―――I see. Then I guess I don't need to hold back."
Then.
Archer suddenly calms down and kicks me off of him.

"Gah――――!?"
My body hits the ground.
He must have kicked me hard, as I fly at least five meters.

"You――――"
I bear my pain and get back up.
"――――Huh?"
Archer has stopped.
The shooting lights have stopped as well.
The only thing here is the freezing air.

"――――Hey..."
I finally notice.
Archer's surroundings have stopped, as if everything is frozen.

"How do you feel, Archer? Even a knight cannot move if space itself is frozen, right?"
Caster sounds as if she's already won.
Archer does not move at all, and maybe he can't even talk.

"I guess this is it. Saber is outside, so I don't have time to waste on you.
I don't know which hero you were, but this is goodbye for you."

Caster raises her left arm.
Her hand shoots the bullet of light.
But right before that.
Archer murmurs something.

"―――? What is it? If you are begging for your life, I might just list――――"
"I said ―――――, Caster."

He sounds irritated.
When I try hard to catch his voice――――
"―――Idiot, I said dodge it, Caster!"
Archer jumps as he yells.

He must have broken the frozen space with his powers.
Archer disappears from our vision, leaving a sound like breaking glass behind him.

"W-What are――――"
Caster is perplexed by Archer's scream.
―――And to the right and left of her...
A white and a black light are aiming for Caster.

"――――!!!!!!!"
Caster's robe is cut off.
It must be because Caster reacted to Archer's yell, as she manages to narrowly avoid the attacks.

It does not need to be said, but the things attacking her are Archer's twin swords.

―――At that instant.
Archer threw his swords right before he kicked me and fell into Caster's spell.
The cast swords made an arc and attacked Caster in the sky――――

"As expected of Archer, huh? Wait, where is he...!?"
I'm speechless for sure this time.
It must be the same for Caster.
The knight in red already has Caster in a checkmate.

He has his knee on the ground, and he is readying a bow towards the sky.
His target is Caster.
And the "arrow" on it is the demonic sword that shot Berserker――――!

"――――I am the bone of my sword."
Archer's voice shakes the air.
"―――[troya]...!"
Caster casts a spell in a rush.
Seeing it...

"――――'Kaladbolg'."

...Archer shoots his arrow.

Is that his Noble Phantasm?
The arrow distorts space itself, showing off the whirlwind in its path.

"Ha―――――ah......!"
Caster's moaning fills the air.
The storm-like arrow has easily penetrated Caster's defense.

Guessing from that distortion in space―――I bet Caster would have been twisted along with space itself even if Caster had transported herself.

"Ah――――Ah――――"
...But Caster's still alive.
Her black robe is scattered, and the body underneath the robe is cut up.
Caster is using all her magical energy to heal herself, but I'm sure she would've died instantly if it were a direct hit.

...That's right.
Archer's arrow did not hit her.
The arrow was shot into space far from Caster, and she had her protection destroyed by the after-effect.

The arrow missed.
...No, that's wrong.
It did not miss. It missed on purpose.
I don't know what his intentions are.
It was a big chance, but Archer missed Caster on purpose.

...Silence returns to the temple.
In front of me are Archer and Caster, who's glaring at Archer.
It must have been a lot for him, as I only feel weak magical energy from Archer now.

That goes for Caster as well.
Even though it did not hit her, Archer's shot has taken away most of Caster's body and her magical energy.
Even if there is a big pool of magical energy here, it's meaningless if what collects the energy, Caster, is damaged.

"Kuh...... Ah......"
Caster comes down without spirit.
She managed to form her body, but there's nothing inside.
It should be impossible for her to continue fighting.

"Fuh――――kuh...!"
Caster watches us while breathing heavily.
I don't know why, but she's looking at both the Servant that brought her down and at me.

"...Archer. Why did you not hit me with that shot?"
She asks in a weak voice.
Archer shrugs as if saying that question is a wonder itself.

"Well, I told you I'd try only once.
My first attack was avoided. Everything else was unnecessary. Or what? Did you want me to break my promise and hit you?"
He says such a ridiculous thing.

"
. Then you had no intention of killing me?"
"I only responded to your provocation. My objective is that man over there. I didn't intend to fight another Servant."

...Hm.
He certainly didn't have any will to fight from the beginning...

"I see. It does not look like you came here to fight me, Archer."
"Nope. It's just like that chicken over there. I try to avoid meaningless battles.
I only use my sword at perfect opportunities, and only when I can swear a sure kill. I don't like killing meaninglessly."

...What's so funny?
Caster laughs from the bottom of her heart.

"I see. Then you two are alike."
""Huh?""
We reply in unison.
Alike... Me and Archer?
What makes her say that?

"Am I wrong? You both do not like meaningless killings, right? That boy over there cannot stand a Servant like me who feeds on innocent people.
You don't like meaningless killings.
See, it's exactly the same. Is that not why you two are cooperating?"

"You idiot...! How can you reach that conclusion!? Who would ally with such a guy!"

"――――I feel the same way. We are both pacifists, but our principles are different. It is my principle to take care of problems early on.
I do not ponder forever like this man."

"What do you mean by pacifist!? I still remember. You shot at Saber along with Berserker.
Even though you were hiding in a safe place while Saber was fighting...!"

"It couldn't be helped. We were not cooperating back then.[vr]
It's just that defeating Berserker came before Saber's safety.
Or what? Don't tell me to save everyone I see. If that is the case, Berserker would have to be saved as well and I would not be able to fight him."
".......!!"

We glare at one another.
Man, I just can't get along with him!
Why does everything he says get on my nerves...!?

"Fu―――"
...Then.
Caster laughs even more seeing us like this.

"I like you two. Your powers and how you two exist are rare.
It would be disappointing to make you two my enemies."
"?"
I tilt my head in wonder.
Archer looks away from me and glares at Caster.

"...Hold on. What do you want to say?"
"Can you not tell? I'm telling you to ally with me.
I can provide you two with better partners.
I can give you, boy, a Servant superior to Saber.
I can give you, Archer, a contract with a magus superior to your Master."

―――My mind freezes.
I question her sanity for asking such a question.

"It can't be a bad proposal. I told you two that I'm prepared to end this war, and winning is easy.
How about it? Should you not cooperate with me if you want to survive?"

"
"
I don't even need to think about it.
I decided to fight since I want to stop people like her who would involve innocent people.
So I can never accept her offer.

"――――I refuse. I won't ally with a witch like you."
I declare so.
This is a natural response.
I can't cooperate with this Servant, and more than anything, we won't betray our partners.
I'll be fighting with Saber, and Archer will not do anything to betray Tohsaka.

"――――――――"
...Wait.
Why is he silent?

"...Hey. Archer―――!"
"―――I refuse. There is no reason for me to need your power.
Before anything, your territory is too weak. No matter how strong it may be, it is still not stronger than Berserker. It is not a good enough condition to accept your offer."

"――――――――"
...I sigh with relief.
I had a bad feeling, but he's not like that.
I hate him, but he's still firm on his beliefs.

"I see. So there is no negotiation?"
"No. But I have no intention of fighting you here. It's by my own choice that I'm here. It's not my Master's order, so there's no reason for me to defeat you. How about we call this a draw?"

"Huh――――?"
I doubt my own ears.
Did he just say he'd let Caster go...?

"...That's unexpected. Your Master was after me, right? But you're saying you will let me go?"
"Yes. I don't care how many people you kill here. It's something I'll ignore."

"―――Oh. How terrible of you. You think poison has its uses?"
"My Master isn't that enthusiastic about killing other Masters.
So it'll help me if you kill other Masters. We can settle our match after that."

Caster must have accepted it as she turns around.

"Hold on, Caster...!"
I run to Caster, who's about to disappear.
But Archer stops me.

"Are you stupid? You'll surely die if you follow her."
He sounds calm.
It's so true that I want to vomit from anger.

"――――!"
I stop.
Caster's black robe flutters in the wind and disappears.

Scene 12[]

Caster has disappeared.
Only Archer and I remain here.

"......"
His figure just gets on my nerves.
Archer has saved me twice already.
Caster would've taken my Command Spell without him, and I'm sure I would have died from that rain of light.

But this is different.
I can't forgive him for letting Caster go――――

"Archer. Why did you let Caster go?"
"It's because now is not the time to fight her. Even if I did attack her, she would have just run away. Don't tell me you did not see her teleport."

"――――――――"
...That's certainly true.
We wouldn't be able to get Caster if she really wanted to get away.
After all, this is her territory.
It's that witch.
Even if she may have been weak, I'm sure she had at least one or two more tricks left up her sleeve.

"It seems you understand now. If we want to defeat Caster, we have to defeat her Master. Even if she can teleport away, she will eventually disappear if we defeat her Master."

...Going after the Master and not the Servant.
That's the correct and the safest approach to the Holy Grail War.

"...I know that. But you're going to let her get away?
The incidents in town are all her doing. There will be more victims until we stop Caster. I can't ignore her and let her be."

"Why? It's not something that is harmful to you. Actually, I would like for her to continue.
Caster will keep sucking up magical energy and eventually defeat Berserker. We can defeat Caster after that.
Rin and I can defeat Caster, but not Berserker. I'll let Caster do as she wishes until she defeats Berserker."

"――――――――"
My head heats up.
I get so pissed off that I want to punch Archer.

"―――Don't be ridiculous. Tohsaka won't do such a thing."

"You're right. That's why I want Caster to do so as fast as possible. We can't avoid fighting if Rin finds Caster. It would be ideal if Caster can defeat Berserker right before that happens."

"I don't know how many people will be sacrificed, but it should be cheap if Berserker can be defeated.
Humans die anyway. It will not change the ultimate result no matter how they die."

"......!"
"Caster's too reserved. She should not only take their magical energy, but their lives as well. It'll be easier for me to fight if everybody in this town dies. My Master's too optimistic. If that happens, I'm sure she'll do anything to win."

The knight in red states with a smile.
He says it with delight.
That the people here are only a bother.
He's saying the same thing Caster said―――!

"Y――――"
"Oh, I think you know that Rin's the type that is concerned with formality. She's great as a magus, but she's not dirty enough as a Master.
I wouldn't be this troubled if she would be more like Caster―――"

"You――――!"
I punch at Archer's face.
Of course, it does not hit as Archer avoids it without trouble.

"What are you doing? I thought we were cooperating."
"Shut up...!
I'm not like you. I can't sacrifice people around me to win...!"

"I feel the same way, Emiya Shirou. But you cannot save everyone.
For example, the damage will extend beyond this town if Caster obtains the Holy Grail. That goes for Ilyasviel and the other Masters.
As far as I know, you and Rin are the only Masters that will not use the Holy Grail for your own good. Therefore, there will be more victims unless we win the Holy Grail War."

"In that case―――we will sacrifice the people in this town for our benefit.
It will be exactly as you want if the damage is reduced as a result."

"――――――――"
My head is numb.
He doesn't even need to tell me that.

One cannot save everyone.
Kiritsugu always said that.
So I shouldn't feel anything even if he says so―――but it just pisses me off...!

"You said you do not want to involve innocent people, right?
Then accept it. Nobody can be saved if you try to save everybody.
As Caster said, we are similar, unfortunately. We would have to cooperate if we do not want any victims."

"No...! I won't cooperate with you. I will never accept you...!"
"―――I see. You only trust Rin, after all."

I turn my back to Archer.
I'm different from him.
If I can't ignore Caster, there's only one thing I need to do.

"Do not tell me you'll go after Caster."
"――――――"
I ignore him and keep walking.
I'm heading inside the temple.
Since this is Caster's territory, her workshop has to be inside the temple somewhere.

"I can't believe it. You cannot match Caster by yourself. You should stop if you don't want to die."
"――――――"
Archer follows me, as if he has more to say.

"Man, are you going to throw away the life that I've saved?
I don't mind, but at least thank me before you die.
I helped you out of kindness. I won't ask for you to treat me like your savior, but at least thank me like a friend."

"......!"
Man, he's really getting on my nerves!
"――――Shut up, I won't feel any friendship towards you! Just go back to Tohsaka's place! I won't ask for your help even if you offer it to me!"

I look away and walk towards the temple again.
There...
"――――I see. Good thing you don't like me."
A chilling intent to kill comes from behind me.

"――――What?"
I jump back as I turn around...
At the same time, Archer swings his sword.

"Ah――――guh...?"
I'm cut at my shoulder.
My blood comes flowing out, and my consciousness will fade away if I let my guard down.
The pain is so sharp that it feels like my body is burning.

"Haa――――ah."
I back up with wobbling steps.
It's not to run away.
I just don't have any power, so my feet move back to try to keep my body upright.

"Y-You――――"
"I missed, huh? It must have been my mistake in letting out my intent to kill, or it must have been your cleverness in jumping back instantly. Well, I don't care either way."
Archer walks toward me with the sword wet with my blood.

"Ah―――――guh――――!"
I'll be killed.
I feel that I'll be killed, so I move my feet in desperation.
―――The temple's exit.
I slowly retreat, trying to make my way to the mountain gate.

"[line12]"
...He must know this is a fatal wound.
Archer walks toward me without hurry.

"Haa――――ah, ah――――!"
My mind's fading.
I don't know what I'm doing.
I don't know why I'm heading to the mountain gate, I don't know why I was attacked. My mind is flowing out along with my blood.

...Maybe I'm still conscious because of the sword he's holding.
The white shortsword.
The plain swords are captivating my eyes, and they are stopping me from closing them.

"Agh――――!"
But it comes to an end.
The mountain gate is behind me when I realize.
Even though the steps are somewhere behind me, I can't even turn around.
It's because Archer will slash Emiya Shirou's body in half the moment I turn my back――――

"This is it. Since you do not have a reason to fight, die here."
He raises his sword.
The white yin sword is raised like a guillotine.

"What......? Reason――――to fight...?"
"That's right. It is only hypocrisy for you to fight for someone else and not yourself. You only wish for peace, and not victory.
―――Such a thing does not exist anywhere in this world."

"Wh――――at?"
I oppose Archer's words in my fading consciousness.
But my body and mind are about to disappear.

"――――Farewell. Drown in your ideals and die."

His voice is filled with hatred.
He swings the Yin-Sword Bakuya.
He aims for the wound on my shoulder to cut my body for sure this time.
―――But right before that...
I want to oppose him so much that I jump backwards.

"Hm――――!?"
His sword cuts through air, and my body flies through the air.
The bottomless darkness is behind me.
A big impact.
After that, my body rolls down the stairs.

"What is it?"
I hear an unfamiliar voice.

"Shirou...!?"
And I also hear a familiar voice.

"――――Sa... ber―――......?"
My vision is almost gone.
I try to lift my body up and fall onto the steps.

"Please hold on, Shirou...! You were pushed down the steps with this wound...!?"
...Is it Saber?
Saber supports my body while she talks with urgency.

"Ah――――gh."
But that's bad.
I don't know who it is, but there's another Servant here.
She'll get attacked without being able to defend if she's so worried about me――――

"I-It's――――fine, Saber..."
"Be quiet...! We will still make it. With your healing powers, if we return home right away――――"
...She must have realized after saying that much.
Saber turns back to the Servant, still supporting me.

"―――Assassin. Why did you not attack me?"
"That would be too rude. Nobody can pick a flower that only appears for an instant."

"――――?"
Saber tilts her head in wonder, unable to understand her enemy's intention.

"I was charmed by your face. Your fighting face was nice, but your tense face is beautiful as well. I had to admire it."
...Is it a kimono?
The traditionally-dressed Servant turns his back.

"This is enough for tonight. Leave, Saber."
"Wha――――are you going to let us go, Assassin?"
"Yes. If you promise to continue this battle someday, I will let you go.
You cannot fight to your satisfaction like this. That is not my wish."

Saber glares at Assassin,
and Assassin stares calmly at Saber.
The breath-taking staredown continues for less than ten seconds.

"...I understand, Assassin. I shall settle this match someday."
"That is a good response. I will be waiting, king of knights."
Saber goes down the steps with me in her arms.
But――――
I see the knight in red running down from the mountain, determined not to let me go.

"Archer...?"
Saber says so in wonder.
―――He said...
That he will kill only when he swears to kill.

Then there's no way Archer will let me go.
If he used his sword to kill me...
I'm sure he will kill me here no matter what.

His red robe flutters like a wing.
It doesn't matter if Saber's here or not.
Archer jumps down and slashes his sword at me...!

Swords clash.
―――The sword attacks with lightning speed.
The intercepting blade parries Archer's attack and goes for his neck...!
"――――! Assassin, you――――!"
Archer twists his body and lands back down.
The knight in red cannot come down the steps, being blocked off by the Servant in a kimono.

"Are you going to get in my way, samurai?"
Archer readies his twin swords and faces Servant Assassin.
Assassin readies his sword as if nothing has happened.

"That is my line. Are you going to get in my way when I have told them I will let them go?"
He says so with delight.
I don't know what he's thinking, but he must really be letting us go――――

"In any event, my role is to guard this gate. I won't let you through alive, nor will I let you out alive.
―――I let you go on your way in, but it is a different story on your way out. Your head is not elegant, but I shall accept it for tonight."
...His intent to kill leaks out.
Assassin's intent to kill is as sharp as his longsword.
It's not overbearing like the ones Archer and Saber have.
But an enmity sharpened to the extreme is going for the enemy's neck――――
"―――Well said. A mere tool of Caster that could not even hurt Saber is going to fight me?"

"That goes for you as well. I sent you to surprise that fox, but I am disappointed that you came back for your own safety."
They only confront each other for a short while.
They attack each other with amazing techniques.

"――――――――"
I'm fascinated by the scene.
To be honest, I can't understand Assassin's technique.
Even to my experienced eyes, it's way too fast and too sharp.

But――――that's why I'm fascinated by "his" technique.
The dancing twin swords.
Archer is defending Assassin's incomprehensible attacks with a technique I might be able to acquire.

...To be honest, you could say I admire it.
He is fighting off Assassin's demonic technique with techniques only trained by his will and not his natural talent.

...Damn, it's natural that he's strong.
Strength unlike Tohsaka or Saber.
All the training he went through because he's not extraordinary...
―――He probably had nothing.
That's why he took the small thing he had, trained it with all his might, and got it to that level――――

"...Shirou, let us go now. We have to treat your body."
I come back to reality with Saber's voice.
We leave the Ryudou Temple with Saber carrying me.
The clashing of Assassin and Archer can still be heard behind us.

My wound is almost healed by the time we get back.
'Saber's self-healing powers might be flowing into you since you're connected with her.'
Tohsaka's guess might be right as my wound heals faster when Saber's touching me.

"So what happened, Shirou?"
Saber demands an explanation once we get to the dojo after treating my wound and getting changed.

"――――――――"
I try to tell her all the important things.
How I was controlled by Caster and went to the temple...
The relationship between Caster and the coma incidents happening in town...
How Archer came and saved me when my Command Spell was about to get taken away...
And how Archer tried to kill me in the end.

Saber is pondering something.
I'm sure she wants to first organize things in her head since so many things occurred in one night.
"...I see. Then Archer let Caster go?"

"Yeah, he let her go. He's the worst guy ever. He's not any different from Caster if he's using Caster to win...!"
It pisses me off again now that I recall it.
Damn, I should have punched him in his face back then...!

...Then.
Saber has a weird expression.

"...Saber. Why are you smiling?"
"Well, I just thought it is rare for you to insult someone. I have only been with you for a few days, but I understand that you are not one to insult others."

"Hm――――――――"
...Now that she mentions it, I contemplate my immature actions for complaining.

"...But I can't help it. Archer said things that deserve it. And most of all, he insulted his own Master, Tohsaka."

"Yes. ―――But Shirou, I would like to ask something. Are you angry at Archer's betrayal?
It seems you are not mad at Archer for attacking you."

"Huh?"
―――Oh yeah.
So the fact that Archer tried to kill me would be "betrayal".
...But that's...

"...No. It doesn't mean he betrayed me.
I haven't made any promises with him from the beginning. So I think it's fair even if he attacked me."
"That is true, but... Geez, you are a mystery to me."

She says so in utter amazement.
But I think there's some friendliness in her tone.

"I feel the same way as you, Shirou. We cannot let Caster be, but Archer is not cruel."
"Huh...? Wait, what part of our conversation were you listening to?"

"Everything. Based on all that I have heard, I am saying I have the same opinion as you.
And his sword technique is a clear stream. He must not have anything evil in his mind. I believe his dance-like techniques indicate his character."

"
"
I like it even less now.
Something's wrong with Saber to praise him.
First of all, Archer's technique is――――

"Oh――――――――"
No, I was crazy back then!
He's like a yogurt that's about to expire compared to Saber!

"Humph. What are you saying? His technique is nothing. He couldn't kill me even when he attacked me by surprise. How can he call himself a Servant like that?"
"It is because you have talent as well, Shirou. You should be able to be as good as Archer if you train for a long time."

"Guh――――"
I can't object if Saber says so with a face like that.
...Anyway, it seems Saber approves of Archer's technique.
I don't know why, but I don't like that fact.

"――――Saber. You said I have talent, right?"
"Yes. You will be a good fighter if you train for a long time."

"...I've decided. Teach me stuff as soon as my wound heals.
Not how to survive, but how to fight."
I hold Saber's hand and stare at her directly in her eyes.

"Eh――――oh, yes. I do not mind if you say so."

All right. I have no complaints if Saber can teach me.
I won't make the same mistake I made tonight, and it's not like me to keep running away.

...And more than anything...
I cannot lose to that guy who said we need more victims in order to reduce the number of victims――――

Scene 13[]

I am dreaming.

Using a small connection like a blood vessel, I see a memory that I cannot reach.

It is his memories.
At the very least, it's not mine.
This is someone else's story.
It's so long ago that he doesn't even recall it.
It's so old that he doesn't even try to recall it.
It's so ancient that he cannot recall it.
―――It is...
A heavy burden of a contract that has been established and cannot be withdrawn.

It's not like he wanted something.
If anything, he was the kind of guy that could not put up with anything.
He cannot put up with having people cry around him.
He cannot put up with having people get hurt around him.
He cannot put up with having people die around him.
That's the only reason he had.
And for that reason only, he tried to help everybody in his sight.

He was clumsy, and it made you worry if you were looking at him.
But he would accomplish it in the end, and I think he changed a lot of people's lives.
I'm sure his life was a happy one.
His clumsy battles were not meaningless.
He was able to save people proportional to how much he got hurt and how many times he faced death.

...But there's one pitfall there.
I said everybody in his sight.
But one can never look at oneself.
So, in the end.
He could not save the most important person of all, himself.

―――I don't know how it ended up like that.
No, it should be the other way around.
It was a wonder that it didn't end up like this earlier.
Anyway, it was a terrible disaster.
A lot of people died, and a lot of people were facing death.
Something that could not be solved with his powers alone.
With many deaths in front of him, he...

"Let me make a contract. I shall give you my life after my death. I would like the compensation now."

Yes, he made a contract with something as mysterious as the world.
――――Throwing away himself to save people.
It is the birth of a hero.

That's all.
There's nothing after that.
Even if he is called a hero, it doesn't change what he does.
From the beginning, it was not his objective to be a hero.
It's just that he needed the power of a hero in the process.

But his end came rather quickly.
An excellent savior is nothing but a nuisance for the people that are not getting saved.

He understands his own powers and the extent of the world.
He accepts what can be saved and what cannot be saved.
That's why he wanted at least the people in his sight to be happy.
A lot of people called it hypocrisy.
Many despised it as an extreme value.
The way he silently pursued his ideal was something he should've been proud of.

But in the end...
He met an uncompensated end, as the contract promised.

――――He reaches the place.

He had friends and a lover.
He lost all of them, and he was cornered by the ideal he pursued.

He had no place to go.
He was burdened with many voices of resentment, but still kept fighting.
He knew of his fate, but he acted like he tried to perform "miracles" using his fate as a support.

...But that comes to an end.
The place he reaches at the end is a hill of swords.
His battle ends on the hill among the rusted, ownerless steel.

―――Still alone.
But he smiles in satisfaction as he lets go of the sword.
As if saying there is nothing to regret if he was able to save everybody that came into his sight...

Scene 14[]

How long has it taken her to notice that something is wrong?

She wakes up to a strange feeling and goes out into the hallway.
"......Shirou?"
She first thinks that the feeling might be coming from her master.
It is because the strange feeling is coming from Emiya Shirou's room.

"...Geez. Is he still training magic?"
The golden-haired girl――――Saber sighs.
It's good that he's enthusiastic, but he will collapse unless he rests while he can.
And when she decides to go warn him, she realizes her own mistake.

"――――――――"
She gasps after confirming it.
The strange feeling isn't coming from Shirou's room.
Under the moonlight...
A string, thin as her hair, runs through the darkness.

The string is going into Shirou's room from outside.
A thin string that even the boundary field here did not catch.
If one is to give praise to the one who pulled off such a thing, one also needs to give praise to Saber for noticing such a thing.

"――――――――"
There's no time to think.
The girl turns into a knight in an instant and runs outside.

She runs through the empty town.
There's no hesitation in Saber as she runs.
She knows where she must go.
She only needs to follow the string, the beat of her master.
The only thing she has to do is to run as fast as she can.
It makes no difference whether her destination is the enemy's territory nor how many traps might await her.
She has sworn to protect her master.
So anything that might befall her is negligible.

"――――――――"
It is a mountain stained with vast amounts of magical energy.
Ghosts of the dead are flying above like crows,
and the trees are covered with invisible blood.
The collected magical energy, the stolen souls, remains here, and the mountain should consume anyone that may approach it.
If there is such a thing as a place to die, this place is a perfect example.

"――――――――"
She goes in without hesitation.
She had no intention to stop from the start.
If this place is hell, she has to save her master all the more.
She runs up the stone stairs.
The traps she had anticipated are not there.
The mountain gate is within her view, and she should reach it with one more kick from her magical energy-filled legs.
"――――――――"
But her advance stops right there.
No―――it is stopped by the "enemy".

On the stairs leading to the mountain gate...
Stands a Servant.
His name is Sasaki Kojirou.
Servant Assassin, the protector of the Ryudou Temple, wielding the longsword Monohoshizao.

"――――――――"
Saber's mind is disturbed as she readies her "Invisible Air".
Her Master is on the other side of that mountain gate.
But the Servant in front of her is way too strange.
He reveals his true name willingly.
He does not have a stance, and his cool enmity is transparent.

"――――――――"
She cannot figure out his power because of his transparency.
She can see his power as a Servant.
Assassin is not a strong Servant, so it should be easy to defeat him. But her instincts are telling her something different...
That she cannot beat him in a normal duel.

"――――I do not have any business with you. Move, Assassin."
She suppresses the strange unease and glares at Assassin.
There's only one more step until they are both within range.
Up or down.
If either one moves, a fatal attack should be executed.

"Did you not hear me? I told you to move, Assassin."
Her final warning.
The swordsman with a longsword calmly responds to her words.
"―――I see. So you would like to pass this mountain gate, Saber?"
"――――――――"
Her green eyes glare at Assassin for asking such a foolish question.
He must like the answer.
The longsword dances through the night in an arc.
"Then force your way through. You should hurry, or your master's life will be gone."
He laughs in a cool manner.
"Assassin――――――!"
Saber charges in reply.
The longsword comes down at her at the same moment, and she repels it with her invisible sword.

―――The clash of the swords echoes through the summit.
Their powers are equal.
But that is not an advantage for her.
"Kuh――――"
She's impatient.
The enemy she must quickly defeat is a strong one that would be hard to beat even without any time constraints.

"Shirou, please――――!"
She grits her teeth and prays in her head.
That opening, that excess part of her, is permeating her body.
―――The battle does not end.
The mountain gate is too far away.

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