Part 103: Price of survival, settlement with fate
Music: Wandering Shadow
How deep is this?
I look up the stairs I've descended.
The staircase is built along the wall in an arc.
It must trace out a perfect half-moon, as I can see the start of the stairs about ten meters directly above me.
Is it because there's no light?
The arcing staircase that connects this underground and the outside world reminds me of a centipede crawling through this temple.
And I notice the door.
Under the stairs.
The symbol in front of me. Beyond it, an entrance to darkness is open.
It's because I'm scared by the nasty feeling of the floor, but more than that, because I smell an awful stench.
I plug my nose in reflex.
The smell isn't momentary, but ongoing.
It's not the smell of meat.
But it's not gunpowder either.
The smell of medicine fills this room
What does that even smell like?
My senses were numbed as soon as I came underground.
I don't feel any chills or pressures anymore.
My heart beats like it's expanding to twice its size,
And my hands are vermiculating like they're going to crumble into pieces.
And the worst thing is
My eyes have gotten used to the darkness.
The darkness fades.
A drop falls somewhere.
Was that a signal?
The things I couldn't see before are engraved into my eyes instantly.
There are corpses.
There are corpses.
There are corpses.
There are corpses.
You don't say! Who could have guessed that?!
There are corpses all around me.
The smell of medicine covers the smell of death.
That's the cause of the dripping sound.
The water is dripping into the corpses' mouths.
The slightly opened mouths take in the water, and it must have been like that for many years as the lips are swollen and rotten, and the jaws are decomposing on some.
I tell myself that this isn't happening.
I don't want to think that such a thing can happen.
But I can't deceive myself.
I can tell in a second.
Even though there are this many corpses
No one is dead in here.
"They're alive "
These things that can only be perceived as corpses, these things that used to have human shape, are still quite alive.
I remember a news story I heard somewhere.
It was a story about a whale.
About a guy who survived for a month after being swallowed by a whale.
That huge creature has a huge digestive system to maintain its huge body.
The great thing is, the creature has two of them.
The first stomach is where it keeps all the fish it swallows.
The next one is the one that digests all the creatures it stores.
So, the man who was swallowed lived for a month being slowly melted in the lightless, warm, stinking meat, lacking in oxygen.
In the stomach full of dead fish, he lived for a month as his clothes and hair melted. A month, not knowing when he would be sent to the stomach.
And then, some fishermen killed the whale. And when they were cutting it apart, a smooth and slimy human came out of the stomach like an alien.
that was one hell of an anecdote.
It's a tragic story, but this is just as bad.
Why are they alive?
Every corpse is deformed and they lack too many of the human characteristics.
Those that have had them cut off.
Those that have had the ends decomposed, leaving only the bone.
Those who are ground down in the cracks in the floor.
Those who have become homes to bugs, splattered on the walls.
No matter how they came to be that way, they have no limbs remaining, and all of them are worn-out like rotten trees.
I don't even need to know why.
The corpses are being eaten by the coffin.
I don't know how it works.
It's just that the corpses are stuck to the coffin, and the coffin is sucking nutrition out of the corpses.
The flow of life.
The coffin is sucking up magical energy no, something close to the soul.
So not to kill the ones it leeches off, and so as not to allow them to live.
The sound of the wind that sounds like sobbing.
It seems like screams coming out of the corpses' mouths.
Their throats have already decayed and they cannot let out voices. It has already become just an organ to keep them alive.
But still, the corpses are crying out.
In an almost inaudible voice, they scream with all their might.
It must be the pain and the fear.
They continue screaming, unable to stand losing their form and being eaten alive.
I'm right on the verge of screaming.
No, I can't even scream now.
Where am I?
It doesn't say it hurts nor does it ask for help, but it just says it doesn't understand why it's here.
Is that the reason?
He was like that before he realized it?
He lived normally, went to sleep naturally, and was gasping here when he woke up?
His limbs are already gone, sucked by that coffin, rotting away from the ends, unable to moveand he can only believe this is just a bad dream.
I might go insane.
From this scene and from this terrible spectacle.
Why do I recognize them?
And I have another question.
Is it some coincidence, or do the sacrifices have to meet this condition?
Why are all the corpses here children of the same age?
They just had to throw in a priestly obsession with little boys, didn't they?
Music: Footsteps of Destruction
My body freezes at this sudden event, and I can't even turn around.
But I don't even need to turn around to tell who the person behind me is.
The priest of this church, the man who made this hell.
Anda devil I must not meet more than anything else in this place.
"What awful timing. It was foolish of me to prepare food for you thinking that you would come soon.
I was unable to welcome you last time, correct?
I thought I was attending to your needs, but it seems we missed each other."
I can't talk.
The priest's hands are heavy on my shoulders.
"But I cannot approve of trespassing. If you do such things, you will end up seeing things you should not.
Such as a truth that might send a relationship back to a blank page."
The priest's voice is more cheerful than I've ever heard it.
Kotomine Kirei, standing behind me with his hands on my shoulders, is definitely smiling.
"What is it, Emiya Shirou? You came to talk, so it does no good for you to stay silent. I'm disappointed. Is this spectacle really so outrageous?"
The priest says inhuman things in a cheerful voice.
Does this man not feel anything when faced with this?
I don't even need to tell him this scene is outrageous!
"Oh, that is cold of you. It is simple compassion to say that it is not even if you might think it unpleasant.
After all, you guys are like brothers and sisters. I do not think they will be saved if you act that way."
What did this man say?
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"What did you say?"
"I said that you and these corpses are fellow mates.
By whatever means, you all survived that living hell. Even if you have no blood relations, I believe the connection is close to that of brothers and sisters am I wrong?"
I see. That's why I thought I recognized them.
This is the continuation of ten years ago,
And this place is the continuation of that hospital room.
My head spins.
Children who lost their homes and parents.
They were supposed to be sent to an orphanage and stay there until they found someone who would adopt them.
But I was adopted by Emiya Kiritsugu before that, and I did not know what happened to them afterward.
I avoided thinking about it.
The orphanage was the church on top of the hill, and I could have gone there anytime I wanted to.
Well, what did you think was going to happen to a bunch of little boys put into the care of a priest? Really, now.
But still, I hesitated.
I felt it wasn't fair for me to get adopted, and then go see children who didn't get adopted.
So if I was to meet them, it would be in town.
We would meet accidentally, be able to talk normally, and we would be over the fire incident.
I was looking forward to such a meeting thinking that we surely would meet as it's such a small townso why have I not met even one of them?
"Koto mine "
"That is right, Emiya Shirou. If you had not been taken by Emiya Kiritsugu, you would have been one of them.
Do you understand? You alone survived, once again.
Everyone around you dies, but you survive. What do you think? Do you not think it is unfair?"
My pulse returns.
My frozen body defrosts in an instant.
"Oh no, I am not criticizing you. It is rather delightful. Emiya Shirou's survival abilities are impressive. Honestly, I did not expect you to remain until the end.
"That is whyI have allowed you to be reunited with your brothers and sisters in your final moments."
"You really are lucky. I was planning to close this place up after today, so you barely made it.
Ten years now. I kept them alive to feed the Servant, but it's coming to an end. I cannot hope to extract the same amount of soul as when I started, and there's no more need for food in any case. All that remains now is to kill you and your Servant."
I face him, placing enough distance between us.
In that moment.
I feel a powerful shock from behind me.
I can't breathe.
A sharp horn is growing out of my chest.
The horn looks like the head of a spear.
How can a spear be growing out of my chest
"Oh, I have not yet told you.
I shall formally introduce you. This is my Servant."
I turn to look back.
A blue spearman is standing, piercing my chest.
"Ahga, goh !"
The floor is painted red.
I'm lying on the slimy floor.
I push on my arms to get up, but my body is too heavy.
I can't move.
Not because I'm bound, but because I lack the things people need to move.
"Gi! Tu, ha!"
The pain in my chest exceeds the blood loss's power to drive me unconscious.
I can't pass out.
I've taken fatal wounds several times before.
They were all so bad that they even numbed my senses.
But this is different.
It's a fatal wound, but the pain is too real.
"You did not kill him, right, Lancer? If you did, there was no point in keeping him alive until now."
I can only hear voices.
I have my eyes open, but I can't see anything.
"I'll follow your orders. Even if they're disgusting ones."
Lancer's voice shows no emotion.
But I can barely hear it now.
"Fine. Then we shall prepare now. The Servant will know of the Master's danger. It should be about half an hour until Saber gets here."
"Kotomine. This kid won't make it that long. You should at least stop his blood loss if you want him alive until then."
"No need. I do not care if he dies."
My mind starts to pass out.
Pain finally overcomes my brain and allows me to faint.
I stop that by digging into my wound.
The pain starts again.
My fainting mind returns to the burning world again.
I want to die.
I want to die right now if this pain's going to continue.
I know that.
I know that, but if I faint here, I also know that I'll die.
I can't even remember what I'm doing now.
I feel like I'm floating in this white, burning pain.
But I grit my teeth and hold on to my disappearing consciousness.