Part 216: Einzbern Castle
I'm not scared, but it's not because I'm prepared for it.
If you talk about dying, that man is already dead.
It is equivalent for Emiya Shirou to be dead the moment I figured that out.
That being the case, I have no reason to worry.
What's troubling her is him and me.
No matter who gets killed and who survives, the one to be eliminated is the same.
Her desire to stop this ridiculous fight is causing her pain.
Her eyes stare at the sky sharply, and maybe she's angry at the meaningless battle.
His red outfit is far away and his figure is hazy in the white glare.
But I can see him.
I can see my enemy in detail.
That should be the same for the man with the hawk-eyes.
The Servant with the role of Archer given to him.
He is an archer, but not an archer, and he is a contradictory existence that has many Noble Phantasms, yet carelessly destroys them.
All his Noble Phantasms are duplications, and the fact that he's able to produce swords in infinite number is his Noble Phantasm.
I was the only one who did not realize his true identity.
Heroic spirits are summoned from every age.
If nobody from the past corresponds to him, then the heroic spirit must be from the future.
" I finally realize now. There shouldn't be two of that pendant. That pendant is "
"Yes. That is the pendant you held on to throughout your life after you were saved. It is the one and only memento of Tohsaka Rin's father."
It is impossible that two such pendants should exist.
If Emiya Shirou held on to the pendant throughout his life as he says, then
"A catalyst is always needed to summon a heroic spirit.
As when you summoned Saber, there has to be a connection between the summoner and the one summoned."
"Tohsaka Rin did not have a catalyst to summon a heroic spirit.
Therefore, she thought that she had no connection with the Servant she summoned.
But no heroic spirit is summoned by chance. A physical connection is absolutely necessary between the summoner and the heroic spirit."
If he's right, there can only be one answer.
If Tohsaka did not have a catalyst connected to Archer, then
"Yes. It is when the heroic spirit has a catalyst connected to the summoner."
The jewel is the only one of its kind.
My life was saved, but I did not know who saved me. So I held on to the pendant which I thought belonged to my savior.
That's the answer.
If he has Tohsaka's pendant, then there is only one person who he can be.
Heroic spirit Emiya.
The future me.
The heroic spirit before me is Emiya Shirou, who perfected his skills and made his ideal come true.
There's no one around him.
He is standing alone in this vast hall.
"Archer. Where's Tohsaka?"
"I have left her somewhere in this castle. You should hurry if you are worried about her. You were late, so I gave her to Matou Shinji, since he came earlier."
"I kept my promise with you. I will not harm her.
But it does not concern me what other people do to her."
"But, the result is pretty obvious. Matou Shinji feels hatred and lust towards Tohsaka Rin. One does not need to think what he will do to her. He might not be able to restrain himself if she provokes him, so he might be killing and raping her right now."
I get pissed off.
How can he say such a thing so calmly!?
"Oh, don't get impatient, kid. Leave that girl to me.
I'll go save her."
"It's an order from my Master. My entire reason for joining you was to keep that girl from dying.
Still, this was rather comfortable. I didn't feel bad yesterday. It's rare for me to like my job."
With those words, Lancer ignores Archer and heads to the west terrace.
"Don't worry about it. I'm doing this out of my own interest.
Well, I've been given many disgusting orders up to now, so I'll at least follow through on this. You can concentrate on your own affairs."
"Okay. I'm leaving Tohsaka to you."
He lightheartedly replies with a "yes".
Lancer stops and turns around as if he remembered something.
"Hey. What are you doing, Saber? You're coming too."
Saber lowers her eyes painfully.
"No. I will stay here, Lancer."
She stands next to me and replies unlike a Servant.
"Are you serious? That girl's your Master now, right? You should be protecting your Master."
"I understand that. But I still would like to stay here. I need to watch over this fight."
"Fine. Do as you wish."
He easily jumps up to the terrace and disappears into the passageway.
Archer does not do anything.
It's as if he's saying Tohsaka is useless now.
I step over the rubble and walk forward.
I'm heading to the center of the room, at the foot of the stairs.
Forcing down her emotions, Saber stands still to watch over our battle.
If Saber interrupts me right now, I'll have broken my contract with Rin for nothing."
I can hear Saber's hesitation.
Saber takes a quick breath and replies to the man at the top of the stairs.
"I will not interfere. I will not do anything during your battle with Shirou."
"Very good. I can kill him at ease."
" Yes. But please answer me before that. Why are you trying to kill Shirou?"
"There's nothing to explain. Just as he cannot approve of me, I too cannot approve of him."
"That cannot be true ! You are Shirou. You are the ideal of Emiya Shirou, the one who became a hero. S-So why are you trying to kill yourself !?"
"Why do you think? The hero called Emiya and the inexperienced Emiya Shirou are two separate beings. We cannot exist at the same time unless that is the case."
"That is because you became a Servant. I heard that guardians can be summoned into the age in which they lived, since they are not bound to the time axis !
You are Shirou. You should be the personification of his ideal, the person he became after much hard work. So why"
She finishes in a broken voice,
"Why are you so different?"
Music: Whirlpool of Fate
Saber steps forward to confront Archer.
"It's fine, Saber. Just step back."
I stop her with my hand and keep her at the entrance.
"But Shirou !"
"I appreciate it. But talking's useless. From the very beginning, his objective has been to kill me."
Saber bites her lip in frustration.
Saber stares at me, then at Archer.
" Why, Archer? I do not understand. I heard that guardians are ones who become heroic spirits after their deaths in order to protect people. So why are you trying to kill yourself?"
Maybe something she said got through to him.
He stops and looks down at Saber without emotion.
"You're wrong, Saber. Guardians are not ones that protect the people. They are only cleaners. They are definitely not the heroes I once wished to become."
His voice sounds different.
Hatred and scorn fill it now.
"I did become a hero. I became a superhero, just as Emiya Shirou had wanted."
Someone who will not harm anyone.
Someone who will not retreat no matter what disaster he may face, someone who can save everyone, someone Emiya Shirou wanted to become.
That man became such a person?
I have made many ideals come true, and I have saved the world from danger several times.
A hero I did reach the place I had dreamed of for so long."
"You became a herothen Shirou was rewarded, right ?
At the very least, you made Emiya Shirou's ideal come true.
Then you should not have any regrets. Shirou was able to make his wish come true."
There's no conviction in her voice.
She already knows.
She knows that she is only voicing her own wish.
"'Make his wish come true', huh? I certainly did become a superhero, just like in my ideal.
But all I obtained in the end were regrets. All that was left was death."
"I killed and killed and killed.
I killed many people to act on my ideal.
I killed so many that I stopped caring about innocent people, and I saved a thousand times as many as I killed."
Saber stares at Archer, speechless.
She looks like someone who saw her own mirror image.
I fought as often as requested, and I fought with my life in danger whenever I knew there was a conflict. I fought many times. So many times that I can't even remember now."
No matter who I save, there are always people who will perish. No matter how many conflicts I resolve, new conflicts are always created.
A superhero has to keep existing as long as conflict exists."
Who did he direct that to?
The knight slowly descends the stairs and recounts his past.
"But it never ended.
Conflicts come into my view as long as I'm alive.
It was endless. I didn't dream of a world without conflicts.
I just wanted people in my view not to cry."
"My vision expands after I save one.
Ten after one. A hundred after ten. How many was it after a hundred? At that time, I finally realized that Emiya Shirou's ideal was just a convenient fantasy."
" Why is that?"
I assume it was a daily routine for you to sacrifice a few people to save the country."
The quiet voice is rendered powerless to object.
The words of the red knight are Saber's darkness as well.
"Yes, the seats are limited. There are always fewer seats called happiness than there are people to fill them.
Since you cannot save everyone, someone will have to be sacrificed.
I quickly killed the ones that would eventually fall out to minimize the damage.
This is what it means to be that boy's vision of the ideal superhero."
If one is to lose everything by trying to save everything
It is correct to sacrifice one to save more.
I said I would not have anyone sad, but I brought despair to a few in the dark."
"And in time, I got used to it. To protect my ideal, I kept going against it.
I only saved the people I tried to save and quickly killed the people who opposed me. I allowed 'someone' to be sacrificed to keep protecting my ideal."
"That is the true identity of the hero Emiya.
Don't you think such a guy should die?"
The only ones a superhero can save are people he sides with.
Who was it that defied those words?
" That is a lie. Even if that happened, you would have protected your ideal by choosing yourself to be that 'someone'."
He looks like he's about to sneeze.
The knight stops for a second.
A frown crosses his face.
"You did not go against your ideal. You only lost your path because you were betrayed by the ideal you protected.
You would not think of killing yourself to atone for the sins unless that were the case."
"Kuku, hahahahahahaha! Wow, that is great.
Atone for my sins? Don't be stupid, Saber.
I have no sins to atone for, nor have I forced such a meaningless concept on anyone."
The knight calmly goes mad.
He spoke in a small voice, but his laughter echoes through the hall.
"Yeah, you're right, Saber. I was certainly betrayed and deceived many times. I have been accused by the exact person I saved. After giving my all to stop a conflict, I was accused of being its cause, and was executed in the end.
See? If I had any sins to atone for, I have already done so, right?"
He's kind of like a Japanese Jesus. Well Super Jesus.
"Whatimpossible, Archer. You cannot mean your end is "
" Heh. So that was it.
But I didn't care about that. From the start, I didn't do these things to be appreciated. I had no intention of being praised as a hero. I just wanted a result where everybody would be happy.
But such a wish never came true.
Not within my lifetime, nor after my death."
He has stopped laughing.
There's only hatred in his voice now.
The powers are in the heavens, and the guardians appear in this world only when there's a chance of human extinction.
I knew they were just slaves.
I knew that people who become guardians are removed from the circle of reincarnation and become like nothingness."
"But I did not care, so long as I could save people.
Emiya Shirou could not fulfill his oath.
SoI thought it would be fine if I could become a guardian to take part in stopping humanity's destruction."
All they do is clean up after humans. They take what has been done and nullify it with their powers."
"They do not save people. All they do is eliminate harmful people, without distinction of good or evil.
They do not save people in despair. Instead, they eliminate people in despair in order to save others who are enjoying life.
It's so ridiculous. How am I different from before?"
He relied on a greater power since his powers alone were not enough.
But it ended up being the same.
He thought the power would make his wish come true, but it only made him do the same things on a greater scale.
" Archer. You have repeated such a thing forever ?"
"I got used to it. Humans repeat things. The strong feed on the weak, regardless of what age we're talking about. And I came to realize that it is the most efficient way to prosper."
That is where he ended up.
A being that repairs the damage caused by human desire.
Guardians do not save people. Rather, they eliminate those who cannot be saved as if they never existed.
Over and over.
For many times, he saw people nearly destroy themselves through their own actions, and he burned them down like trash each time.
"Save as many people as possible".
The man became a hero with that one wishbut in the end, he could not make it come true even once.
He grew to hate them in the end.
He grew to hate humans for repeating conflicts. He grew to hate himself for thinking that humans are sacred.
Save one exception."
They are "nothing" to start with. It is meaningless to kill something that is not part of the real world.
There is one way for him to disappear.
If someone who is to become a hero is killed before he becomes a hero, that hero will never come into existence.
"Are you going to kill Shirou here with your own hands?"
"Yes. I kept waiting for this chance. It was a possibility close to zero.
But I staked everything on it. I could not contain myself unless I believed in it. While I acted as a guardian, this was the one hope that kept me going."
" That is meaningless, Archer.
You have already become a guardian. So it is too late. Even if you kill Emiya Shirou, who has yet to become a hero, you yourself will not disappear."
"That may be true. But there's still a chance, however small.
Just altering the past might not be enough, but the paradox will be even greater if I am the one to do it.
If the distortion is large enougha hero called Emiya will disappear here."
"And Saber. This is what I've been waiting for. I am not looking for results now.
I'm just taking my anger out on a kid called Emiya Shirou, the one who will become a clown as a result of his stupid ideal."
There's nothing separating us.
The reason is simple.
He wants to kill me, and I just want to beat him up because I don't like him.
I walk to the center of the hall.
I won't be able to back out once I take a few more steps.
But before that
"Archer. Do you regret your actions?"
There's one thing I have to ask him.
"Of course. I no, you should not have become a superhero."
He spits those words out.
And that dispels my last doubts.
"I see. Then we are two different people."
"I will never regret my path. I won't regret it, no matter what may happen.
SoI will never approve of you.
If you say you're my ideal, I'll destroy such an incorrect ideal with my own hands."
I walk forward.
My circuit has already started sketching the blueprint in my mind.
" That way of thinking is the cause of all this. There will come a time when you will reach me."
"There won't be such a time. It will never come."
"Oh. Does that mean you will be killed here before that happens?"
I take a step towards my enemy.
We're close enough to strike at each other.
We don't have any weapons.
We confront each other empty-handed.
Emiya Shirou is not a swordsman.
We are beings that create swords.
"So it seems you understand.
Yes, to fight against me is to compete in projection."
The twin swords appear in his hands.
The simple twin swords I admired in the Ryudou Temple.
Rare swords that a legendary craftsman made at the price of his wife.
I activate the completed blueprint and reproduce the twin swords using my image.
What a bad job.
The twin swords I once thought were perfect are too unprecise compared to his.
An inferior illusion will become a delusion.
My swords will shatter and disappear when they crash against his.
I take another step.
The rubble crunches under my foot.
That serves as the signal.
You will die once your swords lose their precision !"