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Scene 00[]

It's lunchtime, so I go to the student council room.
"Excuse me."
I call out and open the door.
"Oh. You're going to eat lunch here today, Emiya?"
Issei is eating lunch by himself inside.
"――――――――"
...Good, this is convenient.

"How is it? How did yesterday's incident turn out?"
I sit down at the table and start talking casually.

"It's still unexplained. They are saying something about there being chemicals in the empty classroom on the first floor. That's the reason they came up with after searching through the school all night."
He must be unhappy, and he starts biting on a tough-looking carrot.

"But you were lucky. You skipped school after lunch and managed to avoid the disaster. Yes, I guess you were rewarded for your good daily conduct."

He now sips on his tea happily.
...Man.
This isn't the right atmosphere to interrogate him, so I'll wait and see for a while.

"Huh――――!?"
Suddenly, I notice lunch break will be over in five minutes―――!

"...? What's wrong, Emiya? Did you come up with something?"
"No, but I remembered something. This isn't the time to be leisurely eating lunch."
"?"
I quickly wrap up my lunchbox and turn to Issei.

"...Hm, I have a bad feeling about this. Please do not ask me for money.
I don't have any even if you want to borrow some."
I get up from my chair.
...I don't have time.
I take a deep breath.
"Issei. Don't ask questions and just take your top off."
I clearly state what needs to be done.

"W-Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!????"
"I told you to take your uniform off. Take your shirt off as well.
It's not any good unless you're naked."

"―――W-W-W-W-W-What are you asking for!? Are you insane!? Is it a new way to question me!? No, do I have to do this now!?"
"Yup, this is urgent. Just take off your top. It'll be too late once school ends!"

I attack Issei.
"Whoa――――! Stop it, you fool! Are you really from a family of warriors!?"

"――――――――All right."
To summarize, I didn't find a Command Spell on Issei's body.
I checked thoroughly, but I didn't find anything like a Command Spell.

"Good. This is really good."
I nod to myself.

"What's so good...!? What's with you doing all this for nothing!?"
"? Oh, yeah. I'm sorry, Issei. I can't tell you what's going on, but I needed to check something. It's done with now, so there's no longer any problem."

I bow and apologize.
"Hm――――o-okay. If you think you have done something bad, it is natural for you to apologize."
Issei goes silent with a serious face.

"......"
But now, the search has gone back to square one.
If Issei, the one at the Ryudou Temple, is innocent, there's nobody else here that might be Caster's Master.

"...Hey, Issei. Is there something strange going on at the temple?"
"Hm? What do you mean by something strange?"
"I don't know. But is there anything that's different?"

"...Let's see. If you mean recently, there is an unfamiliar woman. But that's about it. My father and brother are as always."
Issei says so naturally.

"――――――――"
...There's an unfamiliar woman?
Could that be Caster? ...Well, I'm sure she could pretend to be human without a problem.
Or would that be Caster's Master?

"――――――――"
...Maybe I should ask Issei about it.
I'll―――

Scene 01[]

...I guess I'll ask him about it.
She's not one to reveal herself to the ones living at the temple, but I might be able to get some clues.

"Issei. Can you tell me about this unfamiliar woman?
Is she from a foreign country, or is her face covered with something like a turban?"

"What is that? We would kick out such a strange person. ...I don't know why you're asking, but she is a legitimate guest.
...My brother is happy that she might be an evil woman, but I strangely like her. I have only talked to her once, but she is a good person even if she may look evil."

"Oh, wow. So asking the question was worth it, seeing how you're praising a woman. Did you fall in love with her?"

"D-D-D-D-Don't say such a stupid thing, you fool! I admire a part of her that she doesn't notice herself. First of all, I cannot fall in love with the lover of the one I respect as my older brother, Souichirou――――"

Issei suddenly stops and lowers his head.
"Ah――――, ――――"
I don't know if he felt dizzy or what, but Issei falls on the table and does not move.

"...? What's wrong, Issei? Is it anemia or something?"
"――――No, it's not that I feel bad."

He raises himself real fast.
I laugh thinking that he's acting like a coiled doll.

"――――――, Issei?"
I look at Issei without looking at my slashed stomach.

"YOU fell for my trap. The order I implanted into THIS HUMAN functions only when HE meets SOMEONE who INQUIRES about ME."

I hear someone else's voice from Issei's mouth.
When I realize that voice is of the Servant I met at the Ryudou Temple...
"I DO NOT need this DOLL ANYMORE."
...The knife in Issei's hand is stabbed into Issei's neck.

"――――――――"
...My mind fades from too much blood loss.
The wound. The wound reaching my organs is not causing my consciousness to fade.

My brain that wants to deny the scene in front of me freezes my consciousness.
Issei falls down before me, not knowing what went on.

...I collapse onto the floor from my knees.
I do not hold my wound, and I blankly stare at my friend who is now a corpse――――

Scene 02[]

School's over.
It must be because of what happened yesterday. The students are not allowed to stay at school for any reason.

There's still time until the sun sets.
I'll―――

Scene 03[]

...I'm worried about the absent Sakura.
There's that thing with Shinji, so I'll go check up on her――――

I went back home once to leave my bag before I came back into town.
Sakura's house is on the other side of the intersection, on the top side of the residential district.
It's about as far as the distance between the intersection and my place.
I go up the hill that's unlike the Japanese-styled residential district.
Then.

"――――Huh?"
In the distance...
I see a familiar face in front of my destination, Sakura's house.

"――――Tohsaka."
I confirm one more time.
...Flashy red clothes.
That alone captivates my eyes, but her lower half is black as if to emphasize the red color.
She must be matching her black hair.
The clothing suits the lively Tohsaka.

"――――――――"
Something thumps.
Shut up.
"――――――――"
Something thumps twice this time.
...Damn, shut up. I'm busy right now, so be quiet.

"[line12]"
Thump. thump, thump, thump.
...Damn, it's not like a taiko at a fair! Who the hell is it――――!?

"――――It's me."
I calmly answer.
It's my heart that's making the noise.
My calm heart suddenly started thumping like it's about to explode.

It does not need to be said what caused it.
Basically...
Emiya Shirou has never seen Tohsaka Rin in plain clothes.

"―――――――!"
I can't imagine what I look like right now.
First of all, I can't explain why I'm like this.
I just saw her plain clothes.
I just saw her in something other than the school uniform.

"――――What the hell?"
Man, what's up with me?
I don't have any composure.
First of all, Tohsaka is my ally. She trusts me and is cooperating with me.
So I have to answer her trust.

"Hey, Tohsaka."
I call out to her.
"!?"
Tohsaka sees me, gets surprised, and starts looking around.

"Tohsaka. What are you doing here?"
I go near her.
"――――!"
"Huh――――?"
I have no time to resist.
Tohsaka grabs my arm and pushes me into cover――――!

"...! Ouch, I scraped my back...! What are you doing, Tohsaka...!?"
"Be quiet...!"
She sounds tense.
After that――――I feel something outrageous on my chest.

"Ah――――uh?"
No.
It's really soft.

"――――――――!!!!!?????"
My brain is blown away.
My heart that I calmed down earlier starts beating like a drum.
I bet it's in 16 beat, and I'm sure it'll turn 360 at times.

"T-T-T-T-T-T-T-T-Tohsaka, hey, hey...!"
"...Geez, just be quiet. He'll hear us if we're loud."

"W-What do you mean...!?"
"We'll be seen by him. ...Go back a bit more. We can't hide like this."

Tohsaka pushes her body onto mine.
It feels like a firm piece of meat is being pushed onto the cutting board to make it flat.

"B-Breasts, Tohsaka, breasts.........!!!"
I think I'm saying a very dangerous thing, but I can't comprehend myself.
The sensation is so great that my brain has turned into a sponge.

"I told you to be quiet...! Can you see him, Emiya-kun? The strange guy that's standing in front of Sakura's house."

"――――Huh?"
My boiling brain stops instantly.
Someone strange is standing in front of Sakura's house――――?

"...There is certainly someone there. Blond... a foreigner?"
"Yup. He's been watching Matou's house for about thirty minutes now.
I don't think he's spying on it, but I don't like his eyes."

...I can't see his eyes from where I am.
"Tohsaka, let's switch places. I want to take a look as well."

"Oh! We can't, you idiot! He'll see us if we go out now―――hey, he's coming. He's coming this way...!"
"――――――――!"
We try to hide ourselves in this confined place.

...The footsteps approach.
He goes down the hill without stopping.

"――――――――"
...What was that?
I think he's a normal human being.
He feels real, and he's a legitimate human with form.

But I still feel something weird.
I don't know who he is.
But our lives will come to an end if we follow him.
...He is so ominous that I can declare so.

"...Is he the guy that was talking to Sakura before?"
Tohsaka murmurs.
"With Sakura...!?"

"Yeah. I guess he asked Sakura for directions, but she couldn't understand what he was sayin―――waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait!!!????"

"W-Why are you here!?"
Tohsaka jumps out of the back alley as fast as Lancer.

"―――Well, that was my question. But you took me and shoved me in here like a package or something."
I explain exactly what happened to her.

"――――――――"
She must have understood, as Tohsaka stops right there.

"――――――――"
...It's good she stopped, but she's now glaring at me silently.

"――――――――"
Oh, that pisses me off.
I also went into a panic because of the sudden event.
But it's not fair if she's the only one who can make a face like that.
She shouldn't have done it if she didn't want to. Damn, I feel stupid for getting all embarrassed about it.

"――――By the way, Tohsaka. Issei has nothing to do with all this."
I say so while turning away from her.

"Huh...? What, you already found out...!?"
"Yeah. Issei's not a Master. Well, it doesn't matter if you don't trust me."

"Huh? No, that's all right. You're not a person who can lie. I bet Issei's innocent if you say so."
Tohsaka speaks plainly.

"......Damn, I lost."
I sigh.
I feel stupid for getting angry if she replies like that... And most of all, I've cheered up hearing her say that.

"But how did you check? I didn't feel a Master's presence from him. So you should only have been able to check by attacking him."

"Huh? No, I only checked if he had a Command Spell or not. That's something he can't hide no matter how much magical energy or Master's presence he hides, right?"
"Oh yeah. It's simple if you just look at his arm."
Tohsaka nods in assent.
But she tilts her head in wonder, as if she's thought of something strange.

"Hey, Emiya-kun. How did you check for Issei's Command Spell?"
"I just took his clothes off. He fought back, but I took off his shirt by force."

"――――――"
Tohsaka freezes while looking at me.
"...?"
...How strange of her.
What part of that is strange?

...The Matou household is quiet.
Shinji isn't here, and Sakura doesn't seem to be here either.
While I'm wondering what to do now...
"Oh, did you come here because you were worried about Sakura?"
Tohsaka says so as if it's natural to ask.

"...? Tohsaka, you know Matou Sakura?"
"Well, I'm an acquaintance of hers.
The students in the archery club are all in bad condition, so they've been transferred to the hospital in Shinto. That's why Fujimura-Sensei is running around, right?"

"――――Then what about Sakura?"
"She's sleeping in the hospital right now. ...Oh, I see."
"...Ugh. W-What's with that evil smile?"

"Noooothing. But yeah. You should be more worried about the person who comes to help you, rather than contacting me. Oh, I think I'm beginning to understand you now."

Tohsaka smiles meaningfully.
It's really humiliating, but...
"Tohsaka. Why do you know Sakura comes to my place?"
"Oh―――I-I found that out when I went to visit the archery club.
I'm friends with the captain, Mitsuzuri-san, you know?"
With that, Tohsaka starts walking up the hill.

"Tohsaka? Are you going home?"
"Yeah. It's meaningless to stay here. And we need to restart the search for Caster. Let's share our ideas tomorrow."
Tohsaka says "goodbye" and casually leaves.

―――Then.
...She looks at me seriously from a distance.

"...Tohsaka?"
"Um, I have something I want to ask you."
Tohsaka murmurs while looking away.

"――? Fine, what?"
"...Um, this is a what-if question. Um, what if someone is sent for adoption without any regards to their will... How do you think that person feels while they grow up?"

"――――――"
What does she mean with that question?
A child that's adopted with no regard to their will...
A life where their previous life is all thrown away to be adopted by a complete stranger.
People say children cannot choose their parent.
Children who are raised by a stranger after they are born, and how they might feel――――

"...Emiya-kun?"
"―――――――"
I get myself together.
...Why was I so sentimental?
I don't even need to think about this question.

"I don't think it's a big problem. If the place they're adopted to is a good place, I'm sure the person doesn't have any complaints. I'm sure there'll be some complaints if it's a bad place. All children are like that."
"...I see. You're right. Why am I asking such an obvious thing?"

Tohsaka waves goodbye and goes up the hill.
Tohsaka's house is in the opposite direction from mine.
...Well.
I have to get back to my house before it gets dark.

Scene 04[]

"Yeah. I have to go tell Tohsaka that Issei's innocent before she attacks him."
I should hurry.
I'll go get my violent partner before her relationship with Issei becomes a terrible one.

"Huh? Tohsaka-san already went home."
Then...
I'm knocked out after returning to class 2-A after I've searched all over the place.

"Man... She was so ready to do something, but she went home already...?"
...This is getting stupid.
I can contact Tohsaka over the phone after I get home.

I check the student directory as soon as I get home and call Tohsaka.
Ring, ring.
She picks up after dozens of rings and right when I was about to give up.

"This is Tohsaka."
The voice is definitely Tohsaka's.

"Hello, this is Emiya. Do you have time right now?"
"Huh? What are you playing around for, Ar―――huh? No way, is it for real...!?"
"...Hey now. I don't have enough free time to be playing pranks on you."

"Oh―――no... Sorry, I was just surprised. So, what's going on? It's surprising for you to call me."

"It's about Issei. We promised this morning to get this cleared up today, right? To tell you the result, Issei wasn't a Master. I'm sure of it since he didn't have a Command Spell."

"Really? ...I'm surprised you really did check it out today. But Issei's innocent, huh? ...Well, we're out of suspects, but I guess that's good as well."
I don't know if she's relieved or disappointed. I can't grasp her reaction too well over the phone.

"Well, thanks for your work. We'll think about what to do about the search tomorrow. So is that all the business you have? Then I'll be hanging up."
"......"
I don't have any more business.
But there's something I'm curious about.

"Tohsaka. You seemed to be surprised earlier, but did something happen over there?"
"――――――――"
I can feel Tohsaka's bewilderment over the phone.
After a brief silence...

"...No. I was just surprised because your voice sounded different over the phone."
She answers in a cold voice and hangs up the phone.

Scene 05[]

"Oh. I think they're having a sale in the shopping district today."
...Hm.
Saber is looking forward to dinner, so it might be good to make an expensive meal today.
I can contact Tohsaka after I get home.

"――――I just bought some beef fillet."

And veal too. It's just rare, expensive, and doesn't taste that different, but I fell for the butcher's sale talk and bought it...!!!!

"Oh well. It was pretty cheap."
I can consider that I've blown a day's worth of work on it.
Saber looks like she likes meat. We've been having home-cooking all these times, so I'm sure she'll be happy if I make something like a Western-style full course.

"―――It'd be perfect if I could get an aperitif, but I can't serve alcohol in front of Fuji-Nee.
Even with the age issue aside, I can't give Fuji-Nee any alco... hol...?"

I see something strange out of the corner of my eye.
"......"
I wonder what it is and turn to the cake shop, Beko-chan.

...Is that some kind of a uniform?
The girl wearing a uniform unfit for this downtown area is troubling the woman at the cake shop.

I get curious and stop.
From what I can hear, it seems the money the girl is trying to pay with is not in Japanese yen, and the woman at the cake shop is stumped as to what she can do.
And on top of that, it seems that the girl can't speak much Japanese.

"......"
......Well, I got a bargain.
I guess I'll do something about it since I happened to walk by.

"Thank you!"
I'm thanked two-fold and leave the cake shop.

"...Thank you. You helped me for cake."
This girl thanks me as well in funny Japanese.
But I haven't done much.
All I did was money exchange, and I just traded the two thousand-yen bills I had with the paper money she had.

"...Change. Left over. You can have it."
"Huh? No, I got enough money already. You gave me two ten-franc bills."

"......"
The girl dressed like Nightingale looks around absent-mindedly.

"...Finished shopping. Goodbye."
She bows and leaves.
I watch her go thinking to myself about the unusual event.

Then.
"Oh yeah. Do you like cakes?"
I get curious and ask her.

The girl in white stops and stares around absent-mindedly.
"...Yes. Sella likes common tastes."
She gives a vague answer.

I check the student directory as soon as I get home and call Tohsaka.
Ring, ring.
She picks up after dozens of rings and right when I was about to give up.

"This is Tohsaka."
The voice is definitely Tohsaka's.

"Hello, this is Emiya. Do you have time right now?"
"Huh? What are you playing around for, Ar―――huh? No way, is it for real...!?"
"...Hey now. I don't have enough free time to be playing pranks on you."

"Oh―――no... Sorry, I was just surprised. So, what's going on? It's surprising for you to call me."

"It's about Issei. We promised this morning to get this cleared up today, right? To tell you the result, Issei wasn't a Master. I'm sure of it since he didn't have a Command Spell."

"Really? ...I'm surprised you really did check it out today. But Issei's innocent, huh? ...Well, we're out of suspects, but I guess that's good as well."
I don't know if she's relieved or disappointed. I can't grasp her reaction too well over the phone.

"Well, thanks for your work. We'll think about what to do about the search tomorrow. So is that all the business you have? Then I'll be hanging up."
"......"
I don't have any more business.
But there's something I'm curious about.

"Tohsaka. You seemed to be surprised earlier, but did something happen over there?"
"――――――――"
I can feel Tohsaka's bewilderment over the phone.
After a brief silence...

"...No. I was just surprised because your voice sounded different over the phone."
She answers in a cold voice and hangs up the phone.

Scene 06[]

―――Dinner ends before I realize it.

I came home, trained with Saber in the dojo, then Fuji-Nee came home and I made dinner, we ate it together and now it's already past eight.

"Could you be a famous swordsman in your country, Saber-chan? Shirou's been like a different person ever since you started teaching him."

"I am surprised about that as well. But it seems Shirou has a different teacher, so it is not my doing."
We're drinking the after-meal tea now.

"――――――――"
It's good that Fuji-Nee and Saber are getting along.
I don't want to interrupt, so I'll quietly drink tea and rest my body that is tired from training with Saber.

"He has two teachers? Does that mean he's cheating on you?"

"It seems he is not conscious of it. But I have decided to tolerate it since the result is good.
...Shirou should learn techniques that are suited for him. His body is already fit, so all that is left is to learn how to move his body properly."

"Oh, exactly, Saber-chan. Shirou has been training all this time, so his body is really fit. It's just that he wasn't motivated until now."

"Training his body... I see, I am sure he would have trained his body having a dojo like that. Additionally, he had an opponent like you, so it is impossible for him to have no talent."

She nods emotionally and takes a sip of tea.
Then.
"No, it's been a long time since we last did kendo in there. That place wasn't used for kendo before you came here."
Fuji-Nee corrects Saber while biting on a rice cracker.

"It was not...? Did you not use the shinai at the dojo, Shirou?"
Saber looks at me with surprise.

"Huh? Well, no. I haven't used it since my father died."
"Yeah. Shirou was fighting Kiritsugu-san any chance he got, but he stopped using the shinai after Kiritsugu-san died. I'm so sad."

Munch, munch.
Fujimura Tiger nibbles on the rice cracker while resting her head on the table.

"――――――――"
I have a bad feeling about this.
When Fuji-Nee acts like this, the conversation always goes to―――

"Man, I wonder why. He was such a kendo boy back then, but he's just a bum now. I can't say he had talent for swords, but he was pretty good in archery. But he quit, you know?"

"―――As I thought. Fuji-Nee, stop talking about the past. That's just really negative."
I glare at her.

Fuji-Nee sulks and eats the rice cracker.
Phew.
It seems she's done now.

"Oh. Shirou's childhood, huh?"
"Gah......!"
So why do you have to bring the conversation back up again, Saber!?

"What? Do you want to hear about it?"
"Yes, I am curious."
"All right! Then I shall tell you all about him!"
...The morale of Fujimura Taiga's army goes up due to the reinforcements brought on by Saber.

"――――――――"
...I guess it can't be helped. I don't want to interrupt, so I guess I'll drink tea silently.
I'll carry out my original intention of resting my body.

"He's really twisted now, but he was really cute when he was a kid. He never doubted anyone, and he would do everything you asked him to do."
"I see."

"But he had a stubborn side to him, and he rarely changed his mind once he decided on something. I guess he was the complete opposite of Kiritsugu-san in that regard."

"...? So Kiritsugu was the opposite of Shirou?"
"Yup. Kiritsugu-san was the kind that accepted everything. He thought that good and evil were different for each person. He took life real casually."
"――――――――"

"But he would try to do something about it every time he saw someone in trouble, and Shirou was always trying to imitate Kiritsugu-san.
Shirou was more particular than Kiritsugu-san, so he went and beat up the bullies, saying bad things are bad.
Yeah, Shirou's been trying to be a superhero since then."

Fuji-Nee happily talks about boring things.
And beside Fuji-Nee...
"...? Why do you try to be a superhero?"
Saber asks me a natural question.

"―――Well. It's hard to explain. I guess it's because I admire them."
"Admire...? You admire superheroes?"
"...Hm... I guess so."
It's embarrassing if she says "superhero" outright.

"Why is that?"
"Well..."

I realize at that moment.
...There's no reason.
Emiya Shirou has admired superheroes since he was a child.
I kept on running so that I could be of help to people, so that I could help people who were sad.

That does not change even now.
But the reason behind it...
Why did I try to be "of help to people"?

――――I'll make your dream...

"[line9]"
That's the answer.
That was the end of the person that meant everything to me.
He died peacefully because of a simple statement I made.
...I wanted to protect that trust he had in me.
Even after he died.
So that he would be able to rest in peace.

――――But...
Is that really the right reason?

"...Shirou?"
"――――――"
I hear my name and get a hold of myself.

"Oh, sorry. I'm going to my room now."
Driven by an unknown uneasiness, I get up.

I leave the living room, as if running away from something.
"――――――――"
No, not "as if". I did run away.
It was a natural question.
But I was scared something might be revealed if Saber stared at me like that.

"...Why? What am I scared of?"
An uneasiness that I don't understand myself...
A shapeless fear, an attacking nausea...
I hurry to my room, bearing the headache.

Fuji-Nee went home, saying that she had work to do tonight.
Saber is sleeping in the next room like yesterday.

"――――――――"
I can't sleep tonight either, so I stare into the darkness.
It's not that I can't sleep because I'm conscious of Saber.
―――'Why do you try to be a superhero?'
It's because of those words.
That question is still in my brain.

"――――――――"
She asked me why, and I answered "because I admire them".
...It's obvious why I ran away right then.
Because―――if she had asked me why I admired them, I wouldn't be able to come up with an answer.

"――――――――"
No, I have an answer.
But I'm unconsciously restraining myself from ever saying it.

"――――The reason to be a superhero..."
...Why ask that now?
I was just desperate to be like Kiritsugu when I was a child.
I admired superheroes because―――there was an ideal I could not make come true.

―――That should be the cause.
The true form of the ideal I have, no, the ideal I've had since ten years ago.
I glared into the sky,
thinking that if I could save someone, it would be a lie unless I could save everything.

"――――――――"
But which one is the lie?
The ideal called a superhero that I've admired.
...The older I get, the more Emiya Shirou strays from the ideal.
The ignorant child that did not know of limits has learned of limits through knowledge.

―――What cannot be saved cannot be saved.
A miracle is something too big for humans.

"――――――――"
But I believed I could be like Kiritsugu when I grew older.
But all I obtained was the wisdom to conclude that an ideal is just an ideal.
All I can do are remedial measures.
Even though I've been attacked with the fact that it's meaningless, I've continued to do whatever I could.
Thinking that it's good enough if one person is saved by my actions.

...Even though my objective is to save as many lives as I can, I've lost a lot of things on the way. But I continued so that I wouldn't lose.
Even if I'm battered by reality, I can keep standing if I don't accept the loss, even if I'm only bluffing.
That ideal...
The ideal not to hurt anyone is beautiful.

――――I'll make your dream...

Yes, I just thought that...
If nobody was going to do it, I would inherit his dream myself.

That's why I must become a superhero.
I have to succeed Kiritsugu and protect what he admired.
If I can create no victims and if everyone can keep living peacefully, how good would it―――

'Such a thing does not exist anywhere in this world.'

"...! Shut up! You never know until you try...!"

I desperately reject the words that come to my mind.
He told me to drown in my ideals and die.
Those words are ominous as if correctly predicting Emiya Shirou's end――――

Scene 08[]

"......Hm."
I rub my drowsy eyes and get up.
It's five-thirty, the same time as always.
I don't feel sleepy, so I guess I was able to sleep well last night in spite of everything.

"Man... I guess I'm pretty simple-minded."
I grumble while getting out of the futon and change into my uniform.

"――――――――"
I can hear faint breathing if I strain my ears.
I feel Saber's presence on the other side of the sliding door.

"――――――――Ugh."
The instant I wonder what she looks like when she's sleeping, my head blows up.

"―――――Breakfast. I'll go make breakfast."
That's good, that's good.
I shake the indecent thought out of my head and go out of my room quietly.

The breakfast table.
My expectation that it would be a quiet breakfast considering what happened yesterday...

"And what do you think the doctor said after that? He said 'You have an extraordinarily healthy body, so why don't you donate some blood while you're here'!?
Man, I'm a patient too! I'm not going to such a place ever again!"

...Is totally destroyed by Fuji-Nee, who is more energetic than usual.
In terms of horse racing, this development is the dark horse, but something tells me this might have been the likely outcome.

"Oh, I want more miso soup. Can you leave the onions out?"
"All right―――so what happened after that? I heard all the students were taken to the hospital, so did they all regain their consciousness?"

"Yeah, most people should have recovered yesterday.
The ones on the fourth floor... The first years seemed like they were just sleeping, and some second years lost their memory of the incident.
The third years, um... the ones on the second floor weren't too bad, but the ones on the first floor..."

Fuji-Nee looks down as though it's difficult for her to talk about it.
...I feel bad.
Fuji-Nee has gone to all the hospitals in this town.
She has just seen what kind of conditions the students on the first floor classrooms were in.

"I'm sorry. I'll stop talking about this. So the school is starting as usual?"
"Yup. But since the third years can start coming to school voluntarily soon, they said people who are not feeling too well don't need to come to school. I bet most of them won't come today."

...I see.
Then it'll mostly be first and second years coming to school today...

"Hey, Fuji-Nee. Who in our school is connected with the Ryudou Temple?"
"Wouldn't it be Issei-kun? He's the successor of the temple, right?"
"Yeah. No, forget about what I just asked."
"?"

I put my bowl down while I look up at the ceiling.
The only one connected to the Ryudou Temple at our school is Issei.
But it's too soon to decide whether he's a Master, and most of all, I don't think he is a Master――――

"Then I'm going now. Take care while I'm gone, Saber."
"You too, Shirou. Even though the boundary field is gone from the school now, you cannot let your guard down as long as Caster's Master is there. ...You only have one more Command Spell, so please be very careful."

"I know. If I find Caster's Master, I'll come back home and report to you first."
"―――Yes. I shall stay here and replenish my magical energy to meet your expectations."

Saber sees me off.
It seems Fuji-Nee has more things to take care of regarding the incident yesterday, as she went to the hospital right after breakfast.

The school doesn't look any different even after such an incident.
It's seven thirty in the morning, and the school gate is filled with students.
The students are talking about what happened yesterday, creating a rather noisy scene.

"――――"
So.
In the middle of it all, in front of the school gate is...

Tohsaka, standing there like an angry devil.

"――――――――"
...I have a bad feeling about this.
I have a bad feeling, but I can't sneak past her since she's in the middle of the road.

"Yo. Good morning, Tohsaka. You're early today."
I stop and greet her.

"I think Issei's suspicious."

...Whoa.
First thing she says is straight to the point.

"...What do you mean by 'suspicious'?"
"Caster's Master. Caster is at the Ryudou Temple, and Issei is coming here from the Ryudou Temple. There has to be a connection here."

"There's no connection. It might just be coincidence."
I try to defend Issei.

"That can't be true! Look, the mountain gate to the Ryudou Temple has been closed for the past few weeks!
No outsider can come in, and Issei's like the only one who came out from there!
If he's not suspicious, everyone would be a fair call!"

"...Hey now. You say nobody comes out, but don't monks usually stay at the temple?"
"You idiot. How outdated is your knowledge? There's no way monks can live without going to beg nowadays!"

"――――――――"
Wow, that's a big prejudice.
If Issei was here, I'm sure the secret feud that lasted for two years between them would have been settled right here.

...But that's not the problem.
It's important to protect Issei, but I should worry more about our surroundings.
We're at the school gate.
Students coming to school are all around us, and they are all paralyzed at the disgraceful behavior of the school idol, Tohsaka Rin.

"What's with those eyes? What, are you going to stand up for Issei?
Heh, fine. If you're going to ignore the obvious, I'll go and solve things myself!"
But our school idol is the only one who does not realize the situation.

"......Tohsaka, come over here."
"What, are you going to run away!?"
"I won't run away. Just come this way."
I drag Tohsaka by her hand.

"H――――Hey, Emiya-kun...!?"
She can complain later.
Just let me get away from here as fast as I can.

The morning practice must be canceled because of yesterday's incident, as the archery range is quiet.
"――――Phew."
...Good.
We won't attract attention here.
So the remaining problem is――――

"[line12]"
...Tohsaka, who's glaring at me silently.

"I know. I know what you want to say. I know, so don't make a face like that. I don't know what to do if you sulk."
"I'm not sulking!"

"Ugh."
My mind is stunned at the lightning comeback.
But I have to deal with her calmly.
Issei's life is on the line.
Knowing Tohsaka, I bet she would do something reckless to test Issei.

"Don't try to deceive me. Caster's base is at the Ryudou Temple, and Issei is coming to school from the Ryudou Temple. Why are you ignoring that fact!?"

Tohsaka yells at me.
...She's right, but I just don't think it's Issei...

"――――What? Do you have any objection?"
"......"
But I'll die before Issei if I give her such an ambiguous answer.
But I can't leave Tohsaka like this, so I'll have to try to convince her somehow...

"―――All right. You're saying Issei is suspicious no matter what, right?"

"Right. You might not be able to tell, but the Ryudou Temple is really strange right now.
It's true that Caster's base is there, but the distortion is too big, and there's too much being collected―――"

"Collected...? You mean the magical energy sucked up from the town?"
"Ugh―――no, it's nothing, so don't worry about it."
"......"
...You're more suspicious than Issei right now, Tohsaka.

"―――Anyway! He's suspicious because he's coming here everyday with a cool face from such a place!
Yes, I always thought I needed to give him a kick, so this would be a perfect opportunity."

Tohsaka's serious.
I heard that they weren't on friendly terms, but I didn't know it was this bad.
...Actually...
What the hell did Issei do to Tohsaka?
I'm a bit curious as to what could cause Tohsaka to be so drastic... No, now's not the time.

"―――Yeah. I agree that Issei's position is a suspicious one."
"Of course. You would be guilty too if you keep on defending him."

"Yeah. So leave Issei's case to me. I'll find out if he's a Master or not."
"......"
Whoa.
It looks like she doesn't believe me at all.

"Trust me. I won't hold back on Issei just because he's my friend, nor will I lie to you. First of all, this is all needless worry. There's no way Issei would do something so evil."
"............"

The silent pressure continues.
I bet Tohsaka's worried that I might go easy because Issei's my friend.
Her doubt is only natural, so I just have to endure it.
I have to get her to believe in me.

"......All right. I'll leave Issei's case to you."
"――――Tohsaka."
I sigh with relief.

"But how will you figure it out? Do you know how to identify a Master?"
"Huh?"
Tohsaka asks about the fundamental deficiency in this proposal.

"Um――――well..."
"...Oh. Don't tell me you're going to go up to him and ask 'Hey Issei, are you a Master?'
Even though we're cooperating, I will settle my case with you right here if you're going to do such a stupid thing."

"――――――――Ugh."
She's mad.
She's really mad.

"Hold on. It's all right. I have a way to figure out if he's a Master or not without asking him. I'll settle this case today, so please don't do anything. I'll contact you once I figure it out."

"―――You're right. Cooperating is like this, after all."
She starts walking away with a gesture that obviously tells me she's not content.

"I'll trust you. But don't do anything too stupid. If Issei is a Master, doing anything stupid would only result in death."
Saying so, Tohsaka goes back to the school building.

"――――――――"
I see her off.
"...Huh? Could that be..."
I realize that she might have been worried about me.

Scene 09[]

―――――――I see a dream.

I see a memory that I cannot reach through a small connected circuit.

For what did he fight, and for what did he keep running?
He never told anyone about his motives.
Everyone around him saw him as either obstinate or a weird person.
And on top of it all, he didn't talk much, so I bet he was thought to be ruthless.
His intentions were not known.
At the very least, nobody knew about them.
He never talked about his intentions even after he became a hero and was burdened with many things.

...That's why he appeared suspicious to the people around him.
It's because nobody knows his intention.
He conveniently saves people in danger, but nobody knows why he is doing what he does.

See, it's inevitable that people would feel uneasy about him.
He should have had a reason.
Greed, pride, selfishness, lust, vengeance, or devotion.
Simple reasons like those which are easy to understand. If he'd had any one of them, such an end should not have awaited him.

His reward for success was always betrayal.
The things he picked up sifted through his fingers like grains of sand.
He got used to it.
He got used to it like an idiot.
From the very beginning, his reward was...
...Not what he received from the people he saved, but the pure action of saving someone.

―――The repetition of it makes me so mad that I want to punch him, and it also makes me want to cry.
The reason he was called a hero...
His intention was never revealed to anyone.
Nobody around him knew, and he, the only one who had to know, eventually forgot about it himself.

――――That is why I shed tears in spite of myself.
To the miracle, that in the long, long path between the start and the goal, where what is right or wrong is not definite...
...He never strayed from his original goal.

And the end comes.
An excellent savior is only trouble for everyone except the ones he saves.
He knew his limits and the vastness of the world.
He accepts what can be saved and what cannot be saved.
That is why he at least wanted people within his sight to be happy.
Many scorned it as hypocrisy and as blind idealism.
There were more enemies than allies, and he died at their hands.

...So this is not a place in this world.

This place is the end of him.
The illusion that he saw on the verge of his death, the only pride he had within himself.
The hero that used this scenery as his weapon falls into his own darkness in the end.

The hill of swords that he reached...
His battle ends atop this hill, surrounded by rusted steel without a wielder.
―――He is still alone.
But he thinks there is nothing to regret if he was able to save everyone that appeared within his sight...
And he smiles in satisfaction, lets go of the sword, and crumples down.

...That's why he never had any regrets.
His objective was already accomplished long ago.
From the start, he ran with his utmost effort, not for himself, but for strangers who shouldn't have meant anything to him――――

Scene 10[]

"――――――――"
No, it'll be dangerous to talk about this.
Issei's living at the Ryudou Temple.
If he gets suspicious of this 'strange woman', Issei might get curious and do something.
And―――if that woman happens to be a Master, Issei would be in danger.

"――――――――"
This is it for today.
I'll call it good since I found out Issei's unrelated to the Holy Grail War.

"Oh, by the way, Emiya. Shinji's sister wasn't at school today."
"...Huh? Sakura's not at school?"

"Shinji was absent as well. They were both absent without notice today, so the teachers are wondering if something happened at their house or not."
"――――――――"
I'm at a loss for words, being confronted with a problem I'd forgotten.

"Oh, lunch break is over. Let's go back to the classroom."
Issei pushes me out of the student council room.
...All the while...
Thoughts of Sakura's absence and what Shinji may have done after losing Rider twirl around in my head.

Scene 11[]

It is a sound like hitting steel.
"Haa―――Haa―――Haa―――Haa―――!"
He arrives at the place, breathing heavily.
His footsteps are loud, and their rhythm is unsettled.
He leaves the door open and staggers forward, as if pulled by his falling body.

He looks around.
The church is empty, with the morning service already over.
The only light is the sunlight coming in from overhead.
The silence creates a solemn atmosphere, and the stopped space creates a clear silence.
He is like a heresy in it all.

"Ah―――haa.... haa――――!"
―――No, that is not accurate.
To say he "arrived" is not correct.
His ragged breath, his unfocused eyes...
His shaking limbs are like those of someone running away.
He has come here to find shelter.
Now, everything makes sense.
His desperation is like that of prey being chased by a hound.

"It has been six days since the war started. You are the first one to come here."
"――――!"
He straightens his body that's about to fall onto the ground.
When did he appear?
He looks with bloodshot eyes at the priest before the altar, and he says something.

"――――――――"
The priest frowns.
He did not completely understand the boy, but it seems he is asking for help.
He wants protection.
A Master that has lost his Servant may ask for protection under the condition that he withdraw from the war.
The place of retreat, the last sanctuary, is this church.
And the master of this place is the priest called Kotomine Kirei.

"――――Then you will withdraw from this war, boy?"
The boy reacts like fire to the quiet voice.
"O-Of course! Are you telling me to die...!?
I can't kill anyone without a Servant, so I don't want to be a Master...! I-I'm a normal person. I'm a victim, right!? It's unfair for anyone to kill someone like me...!"

"――――――――"
The priest does not answer and only looks at the intruder.
...As if to peer within his skin, bones, and meat.

"―――What? Do you have a problem?"
"No. You are the first to withdraw this time, and you are the first user of this church since it was built. I shall treat you properly in the stead of my father who started this place."
"Huh? What, I'm the only one who retired? ...Damn, this is shameful. I don't know what my grandfather will say if he finds out about this.
Man, this is all you guys' fault...! It's so unfair that I got a piece of shit like Rider!"

He strikes the ground in rage.
The sound of the punch echoes like a bell, and the priest smiles with great interest.

"So, Rider was useless?"
"Right! ...Man, she was only useful as a woman.[l]
Damn, she died so easily even though I did so much for her! Another Servant would've been so much more useful!"
"―――――――"

"...Oh. But I did well. I did as my grandfather told me, and everything was set!
But they all got in my way...! It was two against one. There was no way I could've won in a situation like that.
...Yeah, it wasn't my fault that I lost.
It's just the difference in quality of our Servants. But―――they were so elated with their victory―――!!!"

And he crawls on the ground.
He hits the floor, grieves his misfortune, and reflects his obstacles.
But his resentful voice disappears quickly.
Hatred of his level cannot break the silence in this church.

"Damn――――Damn, damn, damn, damn――――!"
He repeats his agony.
In the midst of it――――
Tap.
The priest's footsteps echo through the room as if to break the frozen air.

The priest slowly puts his hand on the boy's shoulder.
"―――So.
This means you still have the will to fight?"
He looks down at the loser and says so with a kind voice.

"Huh―――――?"
He cannot understand the priest's words.
The priest in black has a friendly smile on his face.
"You are very fortunate. There is a Servant who is available right now."
The priest offers a new salvation, as if suppressing his joy.

Scene 12[]

Yay, Gai**x bomb!
Kyaa, Ragnarok!
Well, it only takes a second to be careful, but the injury could last a lifetime. How was this dead end that teaches you it's not good to ask just anyone?
Osu! It was such an irrational and sudden death! This is exactly what I expect from "Fate", and it is surely splendid!
Yes. But we cannot forget about the sacrifices!
Let us give Ryudou-kun a three-second silent prayer!
Osu! The three second part is great, master!
So, Ilya-chan. What is going on with the people at the Ryudou Temple?
Hmm. They have this artificial Command Spell put in them.
They become this thing that executes this one command when they find someone that breaks one of the "three rules" Caster established.
She's good at making things. If she ever captures Shirou, I bet she'll turn him into a formal tool just to support her magic.
Evil! I acknowledge Caster as evil!
As a teacher, I cannot forgive anyone that would use others as they wish!
...I don't know about calling her evil just because of that.
It's true that Caster is weak, sly, and cowardly, but she's not truly bad on the inside.
Hm? Why are you sticking up for such a witch...?
Do you have something in mind?
Huh...? N-No.
I just want to say it's not bad to bind someone with magic.
Oh, I remember. You've done worse to Shirou!
Damn, you found out!
Ouu... I can't beat that shinai for some reason.
It's only natural. No magic is allowed in this dojo.
You have to bring in a wild lion or a modern weapon to beat me.
Have you repented of your actions?
...Yes.
I won't do anything bad again.
Yes, that's a good girl! The boy's wish is granted as well! Rejoice, Shirou, Ilya is nicer in this route!
Fine, fine. So I just have to stay quiet in this route, right?
...Well, it's not smart always to be going on a rampage. I can help Shirou in this route and take one of the other heroines.
What――you have put that much thought into this?
Loli-buruma isn't good enough, so you're taking on such a great role in the main storyline...!?
Ilya... she's a scary child...!

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