It's seven o'clock.
Tohsaka comes right on time.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. I took time since I was getting the necessary things.
How's your preparation?"
I show her the wooden sword bag.
There's one wooden sword in here.
This is about all the preparation I can do.
"...Well, I guess it can't be helped. First of all, we have Saber for hand-to-hand combat. It might be that you'll just end up watching."
"Yeah. I guess I'll just back Saber up since she's here."
...Well, I can't think of a situation where I'll be helping out Saber.
"Rin. Why is Archer not here?"
Saber asks with a serious expression.
"Huh...? You didn't bring Archer, Tohsaka?"
"―――No, I left him at home. We're doing a surprise attack today, so we won't need him if we have Saber, right? To be honest, I don't want to let him see Caster."
Tohsaka starts walking.
...I don't know what she's thinking, but I guess we won't be getting Archer's help.
One has to pass this intersection if one is to go from the school to the Ryudou Temple.
It's already been an hour since we got here.
A boundary field has been created here―――
"It's over if we're seen, but the soundproofing is perfect.
Nobody would notice even if a missile is shot here."
―――According to Tohsaka.
It's so quiet around us.
I guess it's because Tohsaka's boundary field is working, but the town is too lifeless.
―――It's already been seven days since the Holy Grail War started.
It seems the town is having its spirit slowly drained without anyone noticing.
"――――He's coming. Hide, Emiya-kun."
I move to the wall.
...I can't even hear footsteps.
I see a shadow under the streetlight.
A tall and lean figure...
The familiar figure is definitely that of Kuzuki Souichirou.
Kuzuki passes us with his usual ordered steps.
He's too defenseless.
I'm suddenly attacked by the feeling that Kuzuki-Sensei might be innocent.
"...Hey, Tohsaka. Don't you think Kuzuki-Sensei is innocent?"
"......Well, we'll find out for sure after we try."
It seems Tohsaka is in doubt as well.
I guess she's still going with the plan, as she points her index finger at Kuzuki.
It is a "curse" to reduce the target's physical ability, considered to be the simplest magic.
Tohsaka's Gandr shot is more like a gunshot, but I'm sure she'll go easy this time.
"――――Are you ready, Emiya-kun?"
I'll still make it.
There is a possibility that Kuzuki Souichirou is innocent.
Isn't there another way to check if he's a Master or not――――?
―――We can't do this.
This method is too violent...!
"Hold on, Tohsaka...! This is too reckless...!"
"It's too late! I can't quit now!"
Tohsaka sticks out her left hand.
A black shot is released with an ear-ringing sound.
...I bite my lips to bear the uneasiness.
I'll have to bear it.
If Kuzuki-Sensei turns out to be innocent, I'll just have to remove the "curse" on him with all my power.
"I'm shooting now――――!"
She takes a small breath.
And right after that, a black bullet is released.
Everyone watches it in astonishment.
Not just me and Tohsaka.
Even Caster, who should be overwhelmed with victory, watches her master in astonishment.
Saber's quick charge to Kuzuki's counter-attacks...
From the nightmare-like neck grab, to the perfect throw that fascinated even us.
Saber doesn't move.
She was thrown by her neck and smashed back first into the wall.
The wound on her neck should be fatal.
Even worse, she hit the wall with such speed.
―――I don't think it killed her, but I'm sure she won't be able to move.
At the very least, Saber will stay on the ground until the wounds on her neck and body heal.
I murmur without realizing.
Even though his fists are strengthened using Caster's magic, Kuzuki is only human.
Who could possibly think that he would be able to overwhelm a Servant in hand-to-hand combat?
"It is fine to assume that the Master's role is to support the battle from the back."
The lean figure turns.
"But there are always exceptions. There are Masters who can only fight head on."
He just proved that to us.
Their roles as the one to fight and one to support are reversed...!
"What are you doing, Caster? I told you earlier.
If you are to support me, you are to eliminate the enemy's projectile weapons."
The enemy―――Kuzuki stares at Tohsaka.
A threat to him would not be Saber, but Tohsaka, who is able to attack from a distance.
That's why he won't attack us.
He fully knows that letting a magus fight a magus would be the most sure way to a kill.
"What's wrong, Caster? I told you that you can do as you wish."
"―――No, I will take care of Saber. Souichirou, please take care of the Masters."
Kuzuki silently nods and walks toward us.
Caster faces Saber behind him.
"―――Fine. Saber was taken aback, but I already know his attacks. We just have to beat him before he gets close to us."
Tohsaka slowly retreats while glaring at Kuzuki.
―――A battle between a magus and a fighter is a fight for distance.
Even though Kuzuki has monstrous fighting techniques, he has no magic resistance.
Therefore, we can win if we cast something.
We win if we manage to cast a spell before he reaches us.
Kuzuki faces Tohsaka and does not move.
Caster is walking towards the wall where Saber is smashed.
...That action is a mistake.
That's an opening I can take advantage of, so now――――
―――I'll protect Saber.
Even though she might not be able to defeat him, Tohsaka should have the advantage if she concentrates on running away.
There's about five meters between us.
If Kuzuki takes another step, Tohsaka should react instantly to avoid Kuzuki's attack.
But Saber's different.
Her neck is half cut off, and she was smashed back first into a wall.
Saber is in a terrible situation right now.
Even if she may be invincible against magi, Caster could easily defeat her in that state...!
"I'm counting on you, Tohsaka――――!"
I ready my wooden sword and charge at Kuzuki.
My objective is to reach Saber, who is about to be attacked by Caster.
I swing my wooden sword at Kuzuki as I pass him.
I'm sure he'll avoid it, but Tohsaka should take advantage of the opening I create...!
I swing my sword.
―――It doesn't even do anything.
The wooden sword is easily destroyed, he blows off my left foot with the returning blow, and...
...He rushes in at Tohsaka in an instant.
Tohsaka's astonished, but she instantly points her hand at Kuzuki.
But the right hand that almost pierced Saber's neck...
...Is thrust at her chest.
Tohsaka's breath is stopped at the impact.
A hammer-like fist strikes her head mercilessly.
...I take in my fate seeing her miserable figure.
...Her head is missing.
Anything above her neck doesn't exist anymore.
"You made a wrong decision like Caster did, Emiya."
I can't raise my head.
...I can't look at Kuzuki. I am just like a student who's unable to answer his question in a classroom.
I stand on one foot like a scarecrow.
"――――This is the second human being I have killed..."
A killer called Kuzuki Souichirou slowly makes his way towards me.
"...But I still do not feel anything."
With a ridiculous sound, a hole is created in my chest.
――――I'll protect Tohsaka.
Saber isn't dead yet.
Even though Kuzuki was an unexpected monster, Saber hasn't lost yet.
And besides, Caster shouldn't be able to finish Saber off.
I put strength into my grip.
I glare at Kuzuki, so as not to miss even his blinking.
The instant he faces Tohsaka, I slide myself in between them.
Knowing Tohsaka, I bet she'll jump instantly to the side to shoot Kuzuki――――
There's no time to do so.
It happens in an instant.
The instant I think Kuzuki's body wavered, he is in front of Tohsaka.
She's astonished, but Tohsaka instantly points her hand at Kuzuki.
But the right hand that almost pierced Saber's neck...
...Strikes Tohsaka right in her chest.
Time stops for Tohsaka.
She's hit right in the center of her body and has her breath stopped.
As she cannot breathe, she cannot cast her spell and has most of her ability as a magus cut off.
She managed to instantly jump back, so the attack only stopped her breath.
But the next attack...
Even though she jumped back, it's only about a meter or so.
Such a distance...
It's not even considered a retreat against Kuzuki――――!
I move in between them.
Using my wooden sword as a shield, I face Kuzuki, who's about to attack Tohsaka.
He thrusts his fist.
I can't see it...!?
How did Saber avoid such a――――
I desperately protect my left side.
I hear a heavy sound and the sound of my wooden sword breaking.
I see Kuzuki getting ready for his next attack.
I feel it instinctively.
My strengthened wooden sword was like metal.
If he can destroy it in one blow, he can destroy any part of my body.
――――I can't stop him.
Tohsaka is coughing painfully behind me.
I can't see his attacks, and my only weapon was destroyed.
His fist accurately goes for my temple.
Emiya Shirou will die from that hammer-like attack.
Having my head smashed off, I would probably splatter a rain of blood and brains.
――――I'll die if I don't stop it.
I can't match him.
I'll need a strong weapon to make up for the vast difference in our powers.
It closes in on my brain.
I imagine myself dying.
No. If that happens...
――――I'll die if I can't stop it.
A weapon. I need a weapon.
A weapon that he can't destroy. Not a quickly-furnished weapon like a wooden sword, but a proven, strong weapon.
The finest quality at that, a weapon undeserved by me. Yes, the weapon he carries would probably be――――
Then I'll make it. I'll make it even if it's impossible. I'll make it no matter what the consequences may be.
I make myself believe that strengthening and reproduction, things that already exist and things that do not already exist, are similar.
That's right, there's no time to think. Fake it no matter what.
It does not matter if something gets destroyed in the process. I don't care even if it's just a fake. Hurry. Forget everything. Don't I know that I'm not the only one who'll be killed!? If I can't stop it, Tohsaka will......!!!!!!!"
"Huh, no way...!?"
Tohsaka speaks out for me.
A deep voice.
Is that Kuzuki's voice?
Something might have happened to my ears as I can't hear properly.
No, not only my ears, but the senses of my limbs are too weak.
Only my right eye is functioning.
I watch the approaching fist.
I observe as someone else's action blocks the attack.
My arms are about to rip off.
Even though I have no feeling, I hear my nerves tearing off.
In my hands are his twin swords.
Yang-sword Kanshou and Yin-sword Bakuya.
The names of the swords.
Even though they're haphazardly reproduced, the swords still present their existences to the wielder.
――――But I'm sorry.
I can't project you guys perfectly with my skills.
We spring apart.
The twin swords that parried thirty attacks break as if saying they cannot take any more.
It's not because they lost against Kuzuki's fists.
The swords disappeared because I couldn't maintain their image.
The twin swords must have been unexpected, as Kuzuki shows hesitation for the first time.
A strong wind is created in the intersection.
I look toward the wall.
Saber must have healed as she is standing up.
Caster is backing away from her.
...Yes, that's why it was a mistake.
Even though she was defeated, Saber still had her powers. So there's no way Saber, who has powerful magic resistance, could be cornered by Caster.
It is Kuzuki's role to finish Saber off.
But Caster made a mistake.
She must have been planning something, but that extra thinking caused her to lose out on her perfect chance.
He stands as if to protect Caster and...
"This is it. We'll retreat, Caster."
He makes a precise decision.
"Master...!? No, Saber is hurt. You should be able to defeat her again――――!"
"She is not someone who would fall for it twice. It is I who underestimated her.
I should have attacked her one more time."
...Kuzuki is right.
Saber was cornered because Kuzuki's techniques were too odd.
But that's only up to now.
I can't cope with it no matter how many times I receive them, but Saber is already used to the attacks.
The main point of a tactic is not to have a concrete shape.
Even though they are strong, Kuzuki's attacks are too odd, so they are easily seen through.
Therefore, they must be fatal on the first strike.
That is the difference between a "technique" that is trained to an art,
and an "action" that is trained to the utmost limits.
"...I understand, Souichirou.
Yes, a Servant should obey its Master."
Who was that directed at?
Caster's robe flutters as she finishes.
...There's nothing after that.
The bluish-purple robe circles Kuzuki, and as if through sorcery, they disappear without a trace.
――――And I see his dream.
The memory of the man who was set up as a hero...
A story of a knight who was understood by no one.
It was a simple story.
In short, there was something wrong with him.
He had some power, and he had some ambition.
But he used his powers at the wrong places from beginning to end, and he died.
It's only natural.
Power exists to grant your own wishes.
Compassion does no good for others.
Kirei says so often, but everything is balanced because everything you do comes back to you.
One gets energy because actions circle around to create more energy.
But not having that means never being replenished.
For example, if one lives for others and not oneself, I'm sure one would run out of power right away.
If there were such a thing as disposable money, that's what it would be like.
It'd be used by strangers, and it'd only disappear after it's used.
It's easy to take advantage of it, and that it'd be used is already a given.
That's why in the end...
He saw many betrayals, and his life was ended by "someone" he saved.
...It just makes me mad.
I want to question him, "why?"
He worked hard, put in great effort even though he's an ordinary human being, and he managed a miracle with his own blood.
And his compensation was betrayal and death. It's not even a joke, but he died satisfied.
I have no intention of commenting on someone's life, but...
I can never accept that one thing.
That's my impression of the dream I've seen a few times now.
I usually wake up here.
It seems the dream continues today.
――――He is standing in hell.
It is a scene of some natural disaster, not the result of human conflict.
"Let me make a contract. I shall give you my life after my death. I would like the compensation now."
He weaves the words of contract.
After that, he changed as though possessed by something and saved people who could not normally be saved.
...Oh, so this must be how he became a "heroic spirit".
...Seeing it this way, it's nothing much.
I bet the people he saved were not even in the hundreds.
He cannot even be called a "hero" with such a number, nor would he be promoted to a "heroic spirit".
But the number isn't important.
The qualification of a hero, one who surpasses humans, is to be able to save those that are fated to die.
It is an alteration of fate.
It does not matter if he does not have power as a hero, as long as he averted a disaster that could not be changed, however small in scope.
The world would obtain a "heroic spirit" in compensation for the miracle.
He became a hero and saved those that could not have been saved.
As a result, he became a heroic spirit after he died, and he is now repeating what he was doing before he died――――
Being a "servant".
I guess compensation for a miracle is to become a convenient disposable tool that will fight for others even after one dies.
Superior spirits chosen from amongst humans. The guardians of humanity.
―――But they are not ones with free will like the Servants.
Heroic spirits are guardians of humanity.
Guardians do not have a free will, and they are treated as "powers".
They are called forth to protect the world only when a factor appears that could destroy it. They are weapons that destroy these factors.
The Servant system is a summoning ritual that takes advantage of these "guardians".
The guardians are summoned into every age, eliminate the offending factor, and then disappear from this world.
...I would hate to be like that, but he must have been prepared to take on that role.
No, he might have even wished for it...
That it would be perfect if he could save people even after he died.
Even though he did not have the power to save them when he was alive, he must have believed he could avert every tragedy if he became a heroic spirit.
With that in mind, he made a contract with the world to give up his body after his death, and he saved a hundred people.
...He would be able to save tens of thousands of people afterwards.
――――How... stupid of him.
That cannot be.
Because for a heroic spirit to be called upon, the place would already have to be a place of death.
Heroic spirits are summoned only into hell.
They appear only when the world is about to be destroyed by people.
Humans are the ones that will perish from their own doings.
So the process of destruction must always be the same.
Jealousy. Hatred. Selfishness. Desire.
The man who loved people and tried to be of help to them was shown the same ugliness even after he died.
He was called into such scenes and served his responsibility as a guardian.
He killed and killed and killed and killed. He killed everyone that was around him when he was summoned to save humanity as a whole.
I don't know how many times he repeated that―――nor do I know how many times he will have to repeat it in the future.
...So there's only one thing I can say.
He has been betrayed by many things...
But in the end, he was betrayed by the only thing he believed in, his ideal.
When I wake up, that's all I can say.
My body feels tired and I can't move at all.
My mind is the only clear thing, and I blankly stare at the ceiling.
"...I knew it. So that's his memory, huh?"
I sigh and stare at the ceiling.
...This is hard.
He could have told me that I might get a glimpse of his memory when I'm asleep because Masters and Servants are connected.
If he had told me, I could have cut my consciousness so that I wouldn't see such a thing.
"――――I'll get up. There are lots of things I have to do today."
I get up.
My body is heavy and my eyelids are heavier than steel.
I curse how I'm not a morning person and start changing into my uniform slowly.
I don't know if this is as I expected or not.
But he used to be a hot-blooded man.
I don't know what hero he is, but it seems he was more honest before.
"...Well, I guess it's natural to have a twisted personality if he led such a life and ended up like he has, even after he died."
I laugh it off.
My face in the mirror looks serious and about to cry, but I decide to laugh.
Because I have to do so or I won't be able to face Archer normally.
I get ready and drink the freshly brewed tea in the living room.
I don't usually eat breakfast, so it's pretty quick.
I have fifteen minutes until I have to get going. This cup of tea is like a ritual I perform every morning to wake up my half-asleep body.
"Rin, how long are you going to be playing around for?"
But there's one fool that cannot read his master's mind.
"I'm going to relax until seven-thirty. I'll be late if I stay here longer than that."
"I'm not talking about school. I'm talking about the Holy Grail War.
...It is not bad to cooperate with other Masters. But in your case, the partner you chose is too weak."
Archer tells me to cut my ties with Emiya Shirou every chance he gets.
"I told you I have no intention of doing so. You say so, but I think he's rather suitable. It's true that he's not much help in battle, but he's perfect as an ally.
...Um, I think he would never betray me."
"Trust is usually established through tactics. I cannot trust someone without a reason. Look, he is not someone that will stay and win. If you are to choose an ally, Caster's Master is a smarter person."
"Don't kid me, Archer. Are you telling me to stoop so low?"
I put my teacup down and stare at Archer.
Even if it may be sarcasm, I cannot ignore what he just said.
...The air freezes.
I'm seriously pissed, and Archer has no intention of backing down.
We stare at each other for a while.
"It is true that Caster is a heretic, but she is indeed like a magus.
In that regard, you are not fit for fighting. If you are a magus, you should put results over your wishes."
"It's useless being cynical. I won't change my policy."
"...Man, what is wrong with you? You've gotten strange since you got to know Emiya Shirou. Where did that rationality of yours go?"
I realize that without having you tell me.
But I can't help it.
He doesn't have anything even though he's a magus, and is dangerously single-minded.
It's unproductive to scheme against such a guy, and――――he's, um...
"Rin? What's wrong? Did you finally realize your own foolishness?"
"―――Yeah, there is something wrong with me.
But Archer. This is all because you showed me unnecessary things."
"...No, forget about it. You're my Servant, so I'm only going to do what I believe is right. I'm not as loose as Emiya Shirou, but I do have some things I can't give up. I won't give them up no matter who's telling me so."
I say so with anger.
―――And that makes me realize...
I don't feel any sympathy, even after learning about his past.
I'm just mad at him.
"...Humph. Where's your reply, Archer!?"
I take it out on Archer and glare at him.
The knight in red makes his usual gesture.
"I guess it can't be helped. It is the role of the servant to support his master when the master is not doing well. I shall look after you until you return to your usual self."
And he answers with a reply that's neither a 'yes' nor a 'no'.
...I wake up.
I feel heavy, like there's lead inside my head.
"――――What is this? I haven't been waking up very well recently."
Is it because I have lots to think about or because I'm seeing strange dreams?
Even though I usually don't see dreams, I think I've been seeing something like a dream recently.
"...Well, they were beautiful swords..."
I see images of swords in my dreams.
In them, his shortswords come up pretty often.
"―――Damn. Yeah, I like them. So what?"
I curse the person that's not here and get up from my futon.
It's before six in the morning.
I can't be affected by strange dreams. I have to go make breakfast.
Saber sees me off as I leave the house.
I'm getting used to this lifestyle, as the morning passes by smoothly.
I don't see Tohsaka at the gate.
Since the only suspect we had, Issei, turned out to be innocent, I bet she's busy running around gathering information.
"―――Wait, it's not someone else's business. I have to investigate as well."
...But how will I do that?
I guess Tohsaka is investigating the people at school, so I guess I'll investigate the building.
―――Well, life's not convenient enough to let me notice anything I haven't noticed before.
I searched the school using all the breaks I had and the first half of lunch break, but I wasn't able to find anything strange.
"Hm. I don't know what you were up to, but good job on your work."
He must be done eating already, as he greets me while reading an old poetry book.
"......Thanks. I'm getting some tea since I'll be eating here. Oh, where's the teapot?"
"Oh, it's here. We only have kelp tea, but is that all right?"
"What? Hmm, then I'll just take water. I just can't take the muddled feeling of that tea."
"I see. Then I shall go get some green tea from the teacher's office tomorrow."
I leave the laughing Issei to himself, pour some water into my cup, and sit down at the table.
I clap my hands together and open my lunchbox.
At the same time, someone knocks on the door.
"Huh? There's someone at the door, Issei."
"Hm? At this time?"
Issei slowly goes to the door.
The visitor is Kuzuki, the one in charge of the student council.
I see Kuzuki-Sensei a lot here, but I bet it's "Emiya is in the student council room a lot" from his point of view.
I silently eat my chicken-sprinkled lunch.
There must not be anything important today, as Issei and Kuzuki-Sensei are just chatting.
"Sensei, it's almost time."
"Hm. I see. Sorry to take your time. I think you know without having it said, but do not forget to lock this place up. And make sure you leave school on time."
"Yes, yes. I know."
Kuzuki-Sensei leaves and Issei comes back in a good mood.
...Wow, I just saw something rare.
It's really rare to see Kuzuki-Sensei chatting about meaningless things with a student.
And with that shy Issei.
...Oh. They might get along since they're both stubborn, but it's still strange.
"Hm? What, Emiya?"
"I've been wondering for a while, but are you on good terms with Kuzuki?"
Oh, he's surprised.
"―――No, it's fine if you don't want to answer. I just thought that was the case, so don't worry about it."
"Oh, no. I just realized I haven't told you about it. It is only natural that we are getting along. Kuzuki-Sensei is like a brother to me."
Kuzuki-Sensei is like Issei's brother?
"Hold on. What does that mean?"
"I'm telling you that he's like my older brother.
Souichirou―――Kuzuki-Sensei has been staying over at my place for about three years. He is a naive person as you can see, but he has a sincere heart. He is living under the same roof as me, and he is someone I can respect as a person. It is only natural for me to respect him as my older brother."
"―――――Kuzuki lives at the Ryudou Temple――――?"
It feels like I got hit in the head with a hammer.
But I act calm and ask Issei to continue.
"Oh yeah. You mentioned something about an unfamiliar woman at your place, right? Does Kuzuki know about her?"
"She is more than that, as she is his fiancee. We are letting her borrow a room until they hold their wedding celebration."
A second shock.
"Issei. You wouldn't call her an unfamiliar woman in that case, right?"
I try my hardest to object with a dizzy head.
"An unfamiliar woman is an unfamiliar woman. Even if she may be Kuzuki-Sensei's fiancee, that is all I can say about her, as I don't even know her name."
Issei stops the conversation as if saying he's angry.
This is something I can't ignore.
Kuzuki Souichirou is coming from the Ryudou Temple, and there is a woman that is said to be at the Ryudou Temple.
I hear Kuzuki-Sensei's fiancee showed up about a month ago.
If that's Caster, all our answers are right there――――
"So, that's what I heard."
In the classroom after school...
We don't even have ten more minutes until we have to go home, but I tell Tohsaka about Kuzuki-Sensei.
"What do you think? Considering Issei's case, I don't think we should suspect him just because he's from the Ryudou Temple."
"...Kuzuki-Sensei, huh? He's not even a magus to start with, disregarding the fact that he doesn't have the presence of a Master."
I don't know if she's listening to me, as Tohsaka is frowning to herself.
"He's not a magus...? That's good. I guess we can count him out in that case."
"Why? Someone as suspicious as him has to be a Master."
...Well, I'm starting to get used to this.
But I still can't keep up with Tohsaka's thought processes.
"We'll ambush him tonight. I'll try pulling some strings so that he'll have to stay the nightshift, so you be ready too."
"Hey――――hold on. We can't do that.
Get him on night shift... Are you saying we'll fight him tonight?"
"Of course. There's no guarantee that Kuzuki will come to school tomorrow.
We won't wait. We'll make him stay at school until night and test if he's a Master or not on his way home."
"...Let me ask you to make sure. How are you going to test if he's a Master or not?"
"Using force. Just like I did to you."
The phrase "just like I did to you" sounds a bit sweet.
...So, as I thought, Tohsaka is a bully inside.
Maybe I fought her over the playground's peace when we were small.
"―――I'm against it. There should be a gentler way to check. We shouldn't have to take such dangerous measures."
"It's not dangerous. I'm not indiscriminate, you know?
I'll just shoot a light Gandr shot at him. If he's a normal person, he'll just sleep in for two days with a cold."
"Oh――――that's a problem as well. If Kuzuki is a Master, we'll get into a battle right then and there. As we're the ones attacking him, we won't be able to talk to him."
"...? I don't get it. That'll be even more convenient.
What part of it do you think is dangerous?"
"I'm the one that doesn't get you! I'm talking about how dangerous it'll be for you."
Tohsaka must have finally realized, as she stops the conversation.
But that's only for an instant.
"I see. That's fine as well. I'll just do it by myself in that case."
She easily concludes.
I guess it's meaningless to say anything to her once she's determined to do something.
"...All right, I'll go along. I don't know what reckless things you might do if I let you be."
"That's my line. ...Geez."
"...It's time to leave. Then we'll meet at seven at the park below the bridge. We'll probably end up fighting, so you better be prepared."
She looks away and walks off.
I leave the classroom after her.
"Then we will attack Caster's Master tonight?"
"We still don't know if Kuzuki is a Master, but that's pretty much the plan."
I report to Saber about today as soon as I get home.
Saber must agree with Tohsaka, as she is hyped up already.
"So we won't be training today. I'll go make dinner right away, so let's get ready for tonight... Wait, is it bad to eat before going to battle?"
"Huh...? Why are you asking? I believe there will be a problem if we get hungry during battle―――"
"Well, I was thinking that it might be too heavy. We don't even have an hour left, so we might be better off eating after we come home."
"Oh, I do not think that is the case. It is a quality of warriors to quickly digest anything we consume.
I do not think food will be bad if one has been training and has led a proper lifestyle..."
"Um. Does that mean I can cook dinner?"
"Yes. I believe we will have more energy that way."
I have trained to be able to move right after meals, so I guess there's no problem.
But I'll make a light dinner just in case.
"Then I'll be going to the living room. How about you, Saber?"
"I cannot bother you. I will stay here and calm my mind."
I guess she'll be sitting here Japanese-style in meditation.
"All right. I'll come get you once dinner's ready."
I leave the dojo.
It's dark outside.
We're meeting at seven. ...That must mean we'll be attacking Kuzuki-Sensei about an hour after we meet.
We'll have to fight if Kuzuki turns out to be a Master.
Caster is a wary Servant.
She would never give us another chance at a surprise attack if she found out her Master had been attacked.
...Then we'll have to make sure to beat him if we're going to attack.
I can't let my enemy escape, nor can I run away.
No matter who it may be, Caster's Master has to be defeated to stop Caster, the one attacking all the people in this town.
If all goes well, we'll take away his Command Spell and he won't be a Master anymore.
...But in the worst case, we'll have to try to kill each other.
"―――Oh yeah. I have to take a weapon.
A weapon at my place―――something I can easily put magical energy into―――would be a wooden sword.
My success rate of the "strengthening" magic has been pretty good recently, so even a wooden sword would become a good weapon.
But that's only in the case of normal battles.
I'll need a better weapon if I am to fight against a Master or a Servant.
"To be greedy――――swords like his."
...I imagine what I saw in my dream.
Twin swords of black and white.
If they're about that long, I should be able to use them...
...And most of all―――I could fight decently if I had those swords.
I'd be able to protect myself, not be a burden on Saber, and be proud that I'm Saber's Master.
"―――Man. It's meaningless to ask for something you don't have, you idiot."
My shoulders slump as I head to the porch.
I'll just do what I can.
For now, I'll concentrate on making dinner.
Saber always seems so serious, but it seems Saber is looking forward to the meals. It's been my recent secret joy to make her happy.
Charge. Stop. Slash.
Having repelled all of Caster's spells, Saber settled the match without giving anybody a chance to stop her.
The charging speed, her footwork, and her attack were perfect.
Her invisible sword slashed the enemy Master.
A surprise attack at the perfect moment.
Saber's powerful slash splits Kuzuki Souichirou in two.
No―――it should have split him in two.
Bewilderment causes her to gasp.
What is going on?
Saber, still in the posture of having swung the sword, stares at the enemy in front of her with blank amazement.
Even Saber does not understand what is going on.
A perfect strike that was slashed horizontally.
The attack is stopped.
The sword has stopped before slashing the enemy's body, being caught between something.
"――――Leg... and arm?"
Can such a miracle occur?
Her sword has been stopped by her enemy, Kuzuki Souichirou.
Knee and elbow...
Her sword has been stopped, caught between his elbow and knee.
Saber does not know, of course...
That there is a technique to stop an enemy's blade with bare hands, and that there are experts today who actually use it.
But still, she would not have stood there in astonishment if this were a normal fight.
But this is the battle of a Servant.
And the enemy is a mere human.
For him to stop an invisible sword with his bare body... he must be insane...!
"―――You underestimated me, Saber."
His voice is deep as if coming down from the ground.
Saber's body moves.
She tries to pull back her sword with all her might.
At that instant...
An unknown impact strikes her head from the back.
She does not understand at all.
It is her first time fighting a man that can stop a sword bare-handed.
Then could this be an attack with his bare hands?
She was punched? The back of her head was hit from such close range...?
She evades it, still not knowing what it is.
Something goes past her temple.
Saber understands it is a fist "strengthened" by some magic, and she jumps.
As she has a long weapon, she is at a disadvantage at close range against an unarmed opponent.
Saber retreats to short range, the range where she can make use of her sword.
Of course, she keeps facing her enemy while she does so.
She is moving to get out of the range advantageous to her enemy.
It is an established rule to pursue a retreating enemy.
But the enemy does not pursue her.
Caster's Master, the man who will be defeated if he stays there, does not move, and...
He pierces her through her solar plexus.
She breathes out.
She only feels the impact.
The attack is stopped by her armor and only the impact comes to her.
The impacts continue.
The things aimed accurately at her vital points are human fists.
Did she even have time to gasp?
By the time she realizes that his mountain-like fingers are the cause of the impact, the match has already been decided.
The fists shower down on her.
The man's fists are fired in rapid succession with heaviness and intensity as if they are made of iron.
How should it be expressed?
His arms are flexible like a whip, but they move in right angles.
If his arms are shot out like a flash, his forearms that move from there are like the technique of a fierce god.
The almost-invisible attacks are all attacking her in her weak spots.
He allows no counterattack.
Even her arms are targeted, and the pain reaches her core even through her armor.
The attacks all come from the outside to the inside.
The swinging arms change direction using the elbow as the fulcrum, and they beat Saber from impossible directions.
They are sharp and dull.
It is not an instant kill, but they contain poison that will lead to death.
That is all that is contained in these attacks.
Even though the fists cannot be avoided, they aren't that heavy.
But―――the pain numbs her mind every time she receives a blow.
Taking that small opening, the fist goes for the back of her head like Death's scythe.
She avoids it instinctively.
―――Attacks going for her arms and body are fine.
But the head――――the back of the head would prove fatal for her.
Therefore, Saber concentrates on that one attack.
A monster that can stop a sword with his bare hands...
Facing these strange attacks that she's experiencing for the first time, the only thing she trusts are her own instincts.
"―――You are dodging well. And you are still confused, too."
The enemy's arms stop moving.
His stance is like his arms, steady like a rock.
"―――I see. It is not your eyes that are exceptional, but your intuitions."
The man moves.
What is different about the attack?
Saber, who was avoiding all the fatal blows, could not dodge his attack.
Her mind fades.
The impact landing on the back of her head shakes her brain.
But she still manages to raise her hands.
The man's attacks cannot penetrate through her armor.
Then―――the man will go for her bared head.
Saber raises her arms to protect her face.
The impact comes through the arms.
It is like a snake crawling through a thick forest.
The enemy's fists easily make their way through.
Her mind fades away.
The body of the "snake", his left elbow, smashes into her collarbone.
Saber avoids it by retreating a bit and grips her sword.
The course of the fist after that.
She readies herself for the blow that will go for the back of her head from the left side.
―――She cannot make light of him anymore.
If the enemy is to take her consciousness, she will let him.
But she will cut down his arms as compensation. She opens her eyes wide and...
...She is astonished at the change.
With the elbow as the fulcrum, the blow comes straight down from above.
The circular orbit of his attacks changed to a straight line...!
She instantly moves her neck to avoid the blow going for her head.
The impact lands on her shoulder.
She glares at her enemy with her left shoulder destroyed... and her spine freezes up the instant she does so.
The man moves back half of his body.
His right hand that has not been used yet...
The hand that has been placed at the height of her throat is released like a cannon.
Unlike the previous attacks that followed a line, this attack is executed as a point.
A thrusting fist aimed at the person in front of him.
With his force and precise accuracy, he should be able to pierce through her.
With his charged attack, it should be easy to pierce Saber's throat, break her bone, and smash her head to pieces――――!
But it misses.
A surprise attack is useless on her, as she has instincts bordering on precognition.
The snake-like fist grazes past her neck.
Seeing that, she tries to step in to attack, but at that moment...
An unbelievable sound comes from right beside her neck.
The snake's fang pierces her.
The instant it is dodged, the attack that passed her uses its fingers to dig into her neck with a sound.
The shock passes through her as a shudder.
Yes. A hand is originally something used to grab, not punch.
It must be supported by Caster's magic as the enemy's fingers easily squeeze off her neck...!
Saber's sword is raised.
Her sword moves to cut off the enemy's arm before her neck is crushed.
But she is unable to finish her attack.
Before the sword is swung, her body itself is swung like a sword.
―――She feels her body fly through the air.
An overswing like a pitcher.
The man holds on to Saber's neck, and he throws her with one arm.
A fastball with a human as the ball.
There is no way she can land safely from it.
Her neck is scraped off, and she is smashed into a concrete wall at a speed of two hundred kilometers per hour.
Her body is forced to stop its action.
There's no one at the house.
The hallway's dead silent.
My ears might still be screwed up, as I can't even hear my own footsteps.
The numbness in my limbs won't go away, and I don't feel like I'm stepping on the ground.
Surprised that I can still walk in this condition, I go with Saber to my room.
"Let's not train today. You must be tired, right?
You were pretty badly wounded too."
I talk to Saber once we get to my room.
"...No, I do not have a problem. I have used magical energy to heal myself, but I am still able to replenish that magical energy.
More than that, Shirou. Is there anything wrong with your body?"
"...? No, I'm fine. My limbs are still heavy, but this is like muscular pain, so I bet it'll be gone by tomorrow."
"......All right. But please tell me if your body is hurting."
"Yeah. You can wake me up too if anything happens. If you get hungry at night, I'll make you something."
I can't provide magical energy for her, so all I can do is make some food to cheer her up.
"...Shirou. Please do not push yourself."
Saber goes to the next room.
"......Yeah. I guess I'll go to bed."
I set my futon down and lay on it.
My limbs are a bit numb.
It might be the effect of magic I'm not used to doing, as I feel like I'll pass out if I let my guard down.
"...Hm. ...What's going on――――?"
I guess... I'm tired.
The ringing in my ears annoys me, but I think I can still get a good night's sleep――――
"Ah, gu―――, guh―――"
"Haa―――Haa―――, ha, gi―――"
I squeeze the futon.
It feels like hot metal is coming up my throat.
Every muscle, every bone in my body is messed up.
I hear a grinding sound with my numb ears.
The sound of creaking bones is coming from within me.
What don't they like?
My bones are twitching as if to complain to me, and my ribs are shaking as if to burst out of my body.
Pain runs throughout my body.
My whole body is pushed down by a great force, but the pain is coming from within.
It's condensed in a small place, but the contradiction is that my body is expanding.
On top of my futon,
I wiggle around like a bug and try to bear the unknown pain.
...My brain's burning.
My brain must not be able to endure the pain, as it is like a sauna now.
I don't care if this is compensation for magic over my level, or if this is the abnormality Saber was talking about.
But for some reason, I don't want to ask Saber for help.
I don't want to worry her, and I have to be responsible for what I did.
"...It's natural... to do so...... since I'm a guy―――"
I suppress my moaning as I sweat.
...The clock I look at with my vague mind says it's not yet midnight.
I should be able to escape this pain if I sleep, but I'm sure the pain will wake me up even if I do.
...I'm going into a daze.
My mind's boiling up.
The pain should go away once the sun comes up.
But until then...
I have to bear this pain for about seven hours, and this fact by itself seems like a bad dream――――
The place is not too pleasant for him.
Frustration and delusion, envy and jealousy.
This place, permeated with emotions, is like a cursed room.
It should have been his, but this room was never used for him.
"Damn――――this place stinks like piss."
This is all his delusion.
A stranger's child spent a few years in here and threatened the Matou blood for a long time.
That's the only past he knows.
His father never said anything, but his grandfather told him a bit of what happened here.
His father did not choose him and decided to kill off the Matou blood, but his grandfather wished for the revival of the Matou family.
That's why he has no feelings toward his father.
His father taught him existence and failure.
His grandfather taught him superiority and privilege.
Thinking about what his mother gave him, Shinji laughs.
First of all, women are not needed at the Matou household.
He heard that his mother is some Carrier, but she must have become useless after giving birth.
He can bet on it that he'll find what used to be his mother in this room.
But he has no intention of searching for such a thing.
First of all, he does not want to see that which gave birth to his unskillful body.
The basement is filled with decay.
Strange worms are wriggling around deep within the dark.
There should not be any more nutrition to suck out of here, but the worms are still living here in this underground training area.
From the beginning, this place has been used not to raise people, but to raise bugs.
What can be seen inside the dark are swarms of bugs with black wings.
Even the shadows on the walls must be black bugs.
――――In it all...
A golden man unsuited to this lowest pit is there.
"Oh, you were here, Archer?"
The golden man, Archer, does not look at his master and just stares into the darkness.
"I have good news. Kotomine said he'll overlook any of our actions. ―――Hah, I thought he showed promise, but he really is useful! That means we won't get in trouble no matter what we do, right!?"
Talking in delight, he walks towards Archer.
Archer finally notices his master.
The red eyes move.
"――――! Oh, no, I didn't come to complain to you. I don't care where you go and what you do. I respect my Servant's free will. I'm tolerant, unlike others."
Shinji's pressured by the red eyes, but he still approaches Archer.
Even if Archer may be an ominous existence, he is only a Servant.
Therefore, he maintains his arrogance against Archer.
He shows leniency, but he still displays that he is the stronger one.
"―――I see. Kotomine thinks highly of you, huh?"
"Yeah. I guess he owes my grandfather. He said a bloodline with a history like mine should win over some third-rate magus.
―――Hah, that's obvious. He's stating the obvious, but he's good at determining who's strong. I'm thinking about maybe thanking him if I obtain the Holy Grail."
Joyful laughter echoes through the room.
"―――Then let's start, Archer. We don't have to worry about catching people's attention. Go ahead and kill all you want, eat lots of souls, and get strong.
...Then they'll be next. We'll have to crush that annoying Saber and go settle things with Emiya."
He pats Archer on the shoulder.
Archer watches as if something unpleasant has touched him.
"What? I told you we're going.
No matter what hero one may be, a Servant has to obey his Master, right?"
He must have imagined himself raping Saber and letting his friend crawl on the ground.
He orders Archer in high spirits.
But the golden man does not move.
"―――Shinji. You do not understand what the Holy Grail is."
And he says his Master's name for the first time.
"Ignore the other Masters if you want the Holy Grail. They are only sacrifices. If you really wish for the Holy Grail, there is something we must obtain first."
"Something we have to obtain first...?"
The boy, Matou Shinji, looks at his Servant.
His feet are moving back unconsciously, and he has let go of Archer's shoulder.
"Let us obtain that first. I am lending you my powers to obtain the Holy Grail. The only common goal between us is the Holy Grail.
Well, I do understand how you feel. Revenge is delightful. To seek pleasure is proof that you are human. I shall take part in that joy once we are done with what we must do."
Archer smiles for some reason.
...Sensing something evil in it, Shinji finally feels uneasiness about the Servant's identity.
The eighth Servant.
A heroic spirit that should not exist.
―――The strongest king of heroes, said to have existed since the last Holy Grail War――――
"...Oh yeah. Come to think of it, I haven't asked you before."
Shinji speaks, still trying to preserve his superiority.
"What? I shall answer you if you question me, Master."
"It's about your wish. What do you want to do after you obtain the Holy Grail, Archer?"
It's a natural question.
A heroic spirit that is half immortal and has all the treasures in the world.
What can this man possibly wish for now?
"――――What? You did not know?"
Archer says so with surprise.
His face is smiling as if he found a small happiness.
"I allow everything that is magnificent. A splendid ornament is something I must admire the most. But―――I cannot stand giving it to the meaningless extras."
"It happened a long time ago. I chose ten servants and tried to kill the one that I did not need. What do you think happened, Shinji?"
"Huh? They were all slaves, right? Then didn't you kill them all?"
"No. I actually could not kill anybody. None of the laborers were meaningless in the old world."
He shrugs his shoulders ironically and steps forward.
...A deeper darkness.
He raises his foot over the dark shadow.
"But this world is filled with extras. I believe there would not be a single meaningful person even if I sought through a thousand people.
―――Man, this world has gotten so friendly to humans."
"...? I don't get it. What do you want, Archer? You want the Holy Grail because you have something you want, right? Then――――"
Archer does not answer.
The golden man does not even turn to his master and...
"It is a simple thing. A lot of something is ugly by itself."
...Lowers his raised foot into the darkness.
...A smashing sound.
On the ground are numerous smashed bugs, with more swarming around.
She must have made a sound on purpose.
It is slow, and the black haze goes for Kuzuki like a pitcher's changeup.
A wind of disease that will cause him to be sick in bed for two days.
But two days of inaction is fatal for a Master.
There has to be some kind of a reaction if Kuzuki-Sensei is a Master.
...Kuzuki does not react at all. Tohsaka's Gandr shot mercilessly hits Kuzuki Souichirou's head――――
――――But, right before that.
It is nullified by a robe that suddenly appears in the sky.
The man that was supposed to get hit by the Gandr shot looks at us.
...As if saying he knew we were here all along.
I quickly take the wooden sword out of my bag and put magical energy into it.
There's no time to be screwing up the "strengthening" magic.
The robe that appeared in front of Kuzuki now takes form.
Female limbs appear from the bluish purple robe.
A complete teleportation is considered to be a sorcery even in this modern world.
Caster has easily performed such a thing to appear in front of us.
"I have warned you, Souichirou. I told you to stay at the Ryudou Temple because such things can happen."
She must think nothing of us, as she calmly talks to her master―――Kuzuki.
"That is not true. We did catch a target."
"Yes. The fish aren't that large, but it makes no difference since this is quite a haul. Come out now, you foolish magus."
I guess running away would be hard now.
No, if Caster and her Master are here, all we have to do is fight them, even if this is in the middle of the town.
But before that――――
"You're not coming out? That's too bad. I at least wanted to see what you looked like."
"Damn that fox. She should know who we are already―――"
Tohsaka grumbles from her hiding spot.
Caster must hear it...
"I will give you three seconds. I will do the same attack to you after that."
...Since she says so and points her hand in our direction.
―――I recall what happened at the Ryudou Temple.
She won't hold back.
Knowing her, I bet she would destroy this whole area along with the wall we're hiding behind.
"Emiya-kun, jump out when I give the signal. Saber, are you ready?"
I sense her nodding behind me.
There's something I need to confirm before that.
"―――Sorry. Do that later, Tohsaka."
I don't wait for her reply.
I go out into the intersection with my wooden sword.
...Tohsaka must not want to let me go alone, as she comes out as well.
"Oh, this is unexpected. Do you understand your position more now, boy?"
Caster watches us with composure.
...Kuzuki is standing next to her.
We're about ten meters apart.
No matter how I think about it, Caster's finger would be much faster than me running into them.
But I showed myself in spite of that.
I have to do something before I fight.
"Tohsaka and Emiya, huh? So you two are Masters as well, like Matou? Fate has an odd way of doing things."
...To check the true identity of Kuzuki Souichirou, the one Caster is protecting.
"So? You have something you want to ask me?"
He says so in his usual manner.
I don't feel a presence as a magus from Kuzuki.
No, I don't even feel his desire to win the Holy Grail War.
"Kuzuki. Are you controlled by Caster?"
It's possible that Kuzuki is controlled by Caster like Archer said.
I can't fight against Kuzuki until I get this cleared up.
Caster emits an intent to kill.
That alone tells me the question is off-limits for her.
"―――What an annoying boy. I should kill you."
Her words are not a threat.
"Hold on. Why are you asking that, Emiya?"
Kuzuki stops her in his usual manner.
"There should be reasoning behind your question. Tell me."
...My throat is dry.
It must be Caster's intent to kill. The robed figure tells me I'll be killed if I say something bad.
I bear it and...
"―――I don't know how you became a Master. But you're an honest human, right? Then you shouldn't be overlooking what Caster's doing.
But since it seems you are overlooking it, I thought you just might not know about it."
I say so while glaring at Caster.
"What Caster is doing?"
"...Yeah. She's putting up her fort at the Ryudou Temple and collecting magical energy from the people in this town. All the coma incidents happening recently are her doing."
"There will be more victims. I'm sure someone will die as long as Caster keeps draining magical energy.
...She said everyone in town is her sacrifice. It won't be long before it's too late."
"I see. A normal human being would not be able to let her be.
So you thought I might be controlled since I am letting her do as she wishes."
"...Yeah. But if you're overlooking her deeds knowing what she's doing, then you're just a killer. We won't hold back on you. But it's a different story if you're controlled.
We'll just defeat Caster."
"No. This is the first time I heard about this."
Kuzuki declares so firmly.
I don't think it's a lie. Kuzuki Souichirou is straight-forward like when he is teaching.
I sigh with relief, while keeping watch on Caster.
Kuzuki-Sensei is a victim if he's controlled by Caster.
Then all that's left is to defeat Caster――――
"But Emiya. Is Caster's doing so bad?"
Kuzuki Souichirou plainly says so.
"It does not concern me how many strangers die. And besides, Caster has not taken anyone's life.
...But I must say, you aren't very thorough, Caster. You should have drained all of their energy if that is the case."
He's not any different from usual.
Kuzuki Souichirou gives his honest opinion.
"―――Kuzuki, are you going to involve innocent people in this!!!!?"
"I do not care about anyone. ...Well, you correctly guessed my nature.
I am not a magus. I am just a killer that has rotted away."
Kuzuki takes a step back.
He watches us from behind Caster.
"You are right that I am Caster's puppet.
I do not care about the Holy Grail War. If Caster and you two are going to kill each other, I will just observe.
"I value my own life. I do not care what Caster is scheming. I only kill those that are attacking me.
―――Do as you wish, Caster. You can kill them or not."
Caster is standing in front of us with an expression of victory.
"―――Geez, they're both big foxes...!"
Tohsaka complains, but she doesn't move.
No, she cannot move.
In terms of skills as magi, we have no chance of beating Caster.
Masters are magi, so we cannot match an excellent magus like Caster――――
Then you do not mind dying here, Caster's Master?"
I hear a voice from behind me.
Before I can turn around...
The Servant of the sword, Saber, charges forward.
Even my voice won't catch up to her.
Saber is already armed and charges at Kuzuki like the wind.
Caster confronts Saber with her casting.
She uses five verses for her spell.
If Saber is a wind for charging ten meters in a flash, Caster is a lightning for finishing her spell even faster.
It's a raging thunder at that.
She shoots off five bullets of light in under a second, and the bullets pierce Saber like fatal thorns――――!
"Magic resistance...! No, I don't know a knight that can defend against my magic...!"
Even Archer had to evade Caster's spell, but Saber is nullifying it just by glaring at it.
Saber's not looking at Caster.
The one she has to slash is Caster's Master, Kuzuki Souichirou...!
Saber slashes Kuzuki without hesitation.
...The intersection becomes silent again.
Saber stops after slashing her sword.
Everyone here thinks that the battle is over due to the incredible speed.
Everyone except Kuzuki Souichirou, who is standing there calmly.
"...Crap. Now there's no way Kuzuki will come out from the Ryudou Temple."
After Caster and Kuzuki disappear...
Without caring for her wounded chest, Tohsaka grits her teeth in regret.
...I understand how Tohsaka feels.
Since we attacked them, Kuzuki will now stay in the Ryudou Temple.
So we will have to go attack their territory if we are to defeat Caster.
But the Ryudou Temple has a gate watcher called Assassin, and Kuzuki and Caster aren't easy enemies either. We'll lose if we just attack recklessly.
But we have to go to the Ryudou Temple if we want to defeat Caster.
"Rin. I will warn you that the temple is a treacherous place for us Servants.
There is not much chance of winning even if we get Archer and try to force our way through."
"...Heh. I know how strange that mountain is. I won't follow them out of vexation, nor will I drag your Master into going there."
"――――Then you will give up on defeating Caster?"
"Are you kidding me? I don't like getting beaten, and more than that, I can't let Caster be. I think your Master has the same opinion on that."
She asks me by looking at me.
Saber must have followed Tohsaka's example, since she looks as if she's asking me whether that is the case.
"Of course. We can't leave those two be.
Caster won't stop collecting magical energy, and her Master, Kuzuki, said he won't stop her. Then we'll just defeat them.
It seems Assassin is at the Ryudou Temple, but everything will be over if we defeat Caster's Master, Kuzuki."
"Yeah. I don't think Kuzuki-Sensei will easily let us take his Command Spell, but we should be able to do something if we capture him.
...I guess we'll have to stick to planning for now..."
I don't know why, but Tohsaka suddenly...
"By the way, what was that, Emiya-kun? Wasn't strengthening the only magic you could use?"
She asks me with a serious expression.
Does she mean reproducing Archer's swords?
Well, I'm still surprised myself, but I don't think she should glare at me for it.
"Answer me. You told me before that strengthening magic is all you can use, right?"
"Well, that's right. Projection is the first magic I was able to use, but I was taught to use strengthening magic because projection is inefficient. ...Oh, didn't I tell you about this?"
"―――No. I'm mad that I haven't heard about it."
She glares at me.
I don't know why, but Tohsaka is really pissed.
"Then let me ask you. This isn't your first time using the projection magic?"
"Oh... I guess not. I do it quite often to get myself together after I fail the strengthening magic. But it's not like I can project something useful like I just did now.
I can get them looking the same on the outside, but they were all empty on the inside."
"Empty inside? What do you mean? Do you mean you can only reproduce the appearance?"
"No, I'm thinking about what's inside as well, but I can never manage to do it. That's why I'm surprised right now.
What I imagine isn't close to the real thing, but the swords just now were pretty close."
"I see. Then does it mean you acquired projection before strengthening?"
"It's more like that was the only thing I could do.
My father told me it was useless and that I should use strengthening instead."
"―――Yeah. I would have told you the same thing as well.
...But that's strange. You reproduced Archer's swords for such a long time, but you still can't project normal things.
...Maybe you have a limited attribute.
There are magi who aren't versatile, but very powerful in one matter..."
Tohsaka starts thinking by herself.
She does not even look at me...
"―――Let's go home for today.
It seems Saber used magical energy to heal herself, so we have to let her rest."
...And she goes home like that.
Hi, is everyone doing well? This is the place that saves Shirou, who has died by letting his guard down for just a moment, the Tiger Dojo session 19!
We have a special guest this time. Flying head tribe, RIN.
How do you feel, RIN-san?
Um, I understand how you feel, but please restrain yourself.
Shirou's action of putting priority on Saber over Rin was professional negligence resulting in death.
But it can't be helped!
It just means Saber-chan had more charm as a woman than RIN-san. That's why you weren't protected when it counted!
Well, it just wasn't your day today. Try to act cute next time so it won't end up like this!
But Shirou should contemplate his actions as well!
In that situation, you should place priority on Tohsaka-san over Saber-chan.
I know it's hard to abandon Saber-chan, but you should protect Tohsaka-san instead even if it's JUST Tohsaka-san.
Gyaa!! T-T-T-The head is moving!?
R-RIN-san... um... where are you going, if I may ask...?
Just going to kill Shirou.
RUN, PLEASE RUN!!
(...She sure is wonderful!)