Part 234: Brilliant Years
Music: THIS ILLUSION (piano ver.)
The crying spirit and the sparks flying off the clashing swords.
My attacks were immature, and it's not something one could call a sword dance.
We were both clumsy and did not know of retreat.
The ridiculous sounds of clashing swords were annoying and I have no memory of them.
At that time
I lost an answer and found an answer.
So a plus and a minus makes a zero.
Nothing has changed.
He's him, and I'm me. I'm just watching this fading dream.
It seems like it happened so long ago.
The memory of it is fading day by day, and I can't even remember what the person I was fighting looked like.
But that is to be expected.
That was something that was impossible from the start.
We did not believe that the fight would change anything.
We just tried to beat each other to ascertain ourselves.
So there is nothing to gain from victory.
There never was any such thing.
The loser comes to an end, and there is no prize for the winner.
Man, it really was good for nothing.
But I can still recall it if I close my eyes.
The echoes of unrefined metals.
A dazzling, distant technique that knew no retreat.
It was our beliefs that crashed against each other.
I fought against my own ideal to carry out my hope.
The result is not clear yet.
I don't know who won, or which of us remained.
It should be a while before the result becomes clear.
Music: Tender Scenery
" ? Wait, why are you here, Issei?"
I raise my head and look at my classmate.
"'Why'!? We are in our classroom, today is our last day, and it is ten minutes before the closing ceremony!
I came to look for you since I did not see you, but I did not expect to find you sleeping!"
Nice to see Issei still enjoying his pocket pool.
We're the only ones in the classroom.
The closing ceremony starts at 10 o'clock, so I bet everyone's at the gym already.
"Hey. Are you really awake, Emiya?"
"Yeah, that woke me up completely. Thanks, Issei. I'm glad you came to wake me up."
"Hm. It is fine if you understand. But thank me later. We won't make it unless we hurry.
I do not want to think how angry Fujimura-Sensei would get if she finds out we are not there."
"Oh, got ya. I can't face my classmates if Fuji-Nee gives us ridiculous amounts of homework before the vacation. I'll make sure to calm her down."
"Please. We will be too ashamed to face our classmates if she gives us more homework. I am sure they will curse us."
He sounds scary, but the frightening truth is that it's very possible.
The extra homework she gave us last summer after we got her mad was ridiculous.
It wasn't even English homework.
What was she thinking when she told us to enter any competition to win a medal?
We should hurry to the gym for now.
It only takes three minutes if we run. We should make it five minutes early if no teacher finds us.
I was too optimistic.
As expected from the student council president. He is really committed, as he is still following the rules even now.
"That's splendid, Issei. But we won't make it if we walk."
"Let us hurry without running. We can make up any excuse as long as we are there on time."
I nod and walk faster.
We are in the middle of March, and the sky is amazingly blue.
Fuyuki City has long winters, but spring is finally around the corner.
Music: Madder Red Town
But one can see the after-effects of battle here and there.
Kuzuki Souichirou, the person that chose to fight as a Master, is considered missing.
Issei was sad that the one who he treated as his older brother was gone, but
"He suddenly showed up at the temple to start with. It is only fitting that he leave the same way."
Issei just laughed it off.
The surprising thing is Fuji-Nee, and it turned out that they often drank tea together.
She complained that she wanted to fight him once, so it seems Fuji-Nee knew that Kuzuki was a master of martial arts.
Shinji's life has been saved thanks to Tohsaka, and he's currently in the hospital.
I guess the hospital is part of the Magic Association, and he's getting better.
Sakura is busy visiting Shinji, so she's been showing up at my place only on the weekends.
I went to check up on them once, and they were getting along surprisingly well.
I don't know if that event took something out of him or if he's just unenergetic from the wounds.
Either way, Shinji is ironic but honest, and he's acting more like the Shinji I first got to know.
It's vexing that I could not say goodbye to her, but I should be glad that she's freed from the binding of the Holy Grail.
IfIf I do ever see her again, I want to thank her as much as I can.
And finally, the most important person
Music: Gentle Everyday
Right after we get down to the first floor
"Oh, student council president. Are you patrolling the building at this time? Or are you taking care of the club rooms? I am getting tired of saying this, but you really are diligent."
We meet up with the person representing the students at the closing ceremony, who's coming out of the teachers' office.
" Humph. I am also tired of hearing that line. Try guessing something else for a change.
Or do you keep saying that on purpose?"
Issei glares at Tohsaka.
"Huh? Of course it was on purpose. What? Did you not realize that until now?"
" I see. I thought you had more sense of humor, but I guess you really are a blockhead.
I am very sorry. I always used the same greeting to show my affection for you, but I guess it was hard for you to understand."
"W-What do you mean by 'affection'!? I have not done anything that deserves your affection! Come, Emiya, we will be late if we concern ourselves with this fox!"
Issei sure doesn't get along with Tohsaka.
Well, I feel the same way, so I'm in no position to feel sympathy.
We decided to act normally when there are people around.
I naturally ignore Tohsaka and follow Issei.
Music: Today's Meal
"Good morning, Emiya-kun. I'm glad you seem well."
I don't know what she's angry about, but she embraces my arm and puts on a big smile.
My head goes blank.
It's because even though we've been seeing each other, this is the first time we've touched each other in a month.
I try not to blush as I bear the sensation of her touch.
Oh, let's go home together after you finish helping out the student council after the ceremony. I will keep on waiting in my classroom."
Tohsaka puts emphasis on "keep on waiting".
"WWhat are you saying!? Let go of him already !"
Music: Gentle Everyday
"It has nothing to do with you, Ryudou-kun.
Excuse us. I am busy as well since I have to make a speech in your place, student council president."
Tohsaka leaves, leaving behind the footsteps of a victor.
What is your relationship with that fox !?"
" Well, it's hard to explain.
First of all, I think I told you before that we're acquainted."
"That was a month ago! I warned you to cut your ties with herO-Oh, I get it!
Does she hold a weakness of yours!?"
Dang, I cannot let you go now, Tohsaka ! Consult me, Emiya! Confess, Emiya! We shall give that fox her due punishment !"
Issei shakes me.
Issei wants to hear all their dirty secrets and then shove his hand back in his pocket.
"Look at the time, Issei. The ceremony's starting."
"I do not care.
The ceremony starts out with a speech from that fox. It shall be mentally good for us not to hear it !"
The student council president keeps shaking me.
Issei is normally calm, but his personality changes when it involves Tohsaka.
Tohsaka must be his natural enemy, but
" Sorry, Issei. I'm sorry to let you down, but I can't do anything about Tohsaka. She'll beat me instead if I go to beat her.
Um, you shouldn't go near her."
" Hm, that is a rare negative comment coming from you. Is the weakness she's holding that bad?"
" Unfortunately. So I'm leaving you to take care of Tohsaka. I know it's a hard fight, but please do your best."
"I see, all right. Do not worry, Emiya. It is for the good of our school. I shall reveal her true identity and overthrow her.
She seems to be planning something with all the athletic clubs, but the student council will be ready for her before the next year is out. The real match starts then."
The student council president smiles in anticipation.
Um, but Issei
We'll all be graduating in a year
There aren't that many students left in the building.
All the classrooms are empty and the hallway is tinted in red.
Music: Tender Scenery
"Hey, that's because you did that ridiculous thing. I would have been freed a lot earlier if you hadn't gone and said needless things."
I complain as I go into the classroom.
Why is it so awkward to go into someone else's classroom even though they all look the same?
"What? Are you saying it's my fault, Shirou?"
"Half of it is definitely you. Look, you're the one who said we should act as strangers until next year since everyone would get suspicious. So why did you do such a thing?"
" Heh. You don't mind a bit of a running start since this year's over, right?
First of all, there are other ways to ignore me.
We weren't in a cafeteria or something. We were the only ones there, so at least give me a nod or something."
I don't know why she's unhappy, but Tohsaka looks away and complains.
Is it because of the evening sunlight?
Her familiar gesture looks so fresh and cute that I'm fascinated.
"Man. Here. I got this, but do you want it?"
I show her the orange juice that was distributed among the helpers.
"Oh, yeah, I'll take it. Good, you're considerate about things like this."
She receives the juice box and takes a sip out of the straw.
She's sitting by the window.
She looks down at the campus as if she's watching something bright.
I follow her example and look down as I drink.
It must be the track team that's running.
They sure are energetic, running like that when Spring Break starts tomorrow.
"Track team? No, I was always in the archery club."
" I see. Well, I guess there are times like that. Seeing the setting sun just reminded me."
Telling me to forget about it, Tohsaka continues to drink the orange juice.
I'll forget about it if she wants me to.
When she calls me "Emiya-kun", half the time she's going to make a sarcastic remark, and the other half she's going to say something really important.
I'm sure in this case it's the latter.
After a month of studying magic under her, I'm finally starting to recognize her habits.
"But time sure flies by.
It's already been a month since the Holy Grail War ended and you became my apprentice. At this rate, I'm sure a year will fly by as well."
This past month sure went by quickly.
So I'm sure a year would pass in a flash.
" A year, huh? We'll be leaving this school at that time."
"Yeah. Today would be my last time in this classroom and I'll be in a new classroom starting in April. And just like that, I'll be going to a new place in a year."
Tohsaka holds her knees and looks down from the window.
"'A new place', huh?"
What will I be doing a year from now when I graduate?
No, I don't even need to think about it.
There's only one thing I must do.
I need to make my ideal come true, just like he did.
There is one other big goal right now, but I don't want to think about it since it's irritating.
"Oh? And to whom are you going to boast?"
She smiles as she asks.
My other goal is to make her admit defeat.
"I-It doesn't matter, right? My goal right now is to become a proper magus, and that's why I'm your apprentice right now. Please give me your best regards for the next year."
"Oh, you sure are optimistic. You think you can become a proper magus in a year? I was ready to teach you for ten years when you became my apprentice But I see, you're fine with just one more year, huh?"
"T-Ten years !?
T-That's great, butno, that's not it ! T-That's really a long way ahead. Wouldn't you get tired?"
"Nope. As your goal is to become a proper magus, my goal is to make you a proper magus. I have it all planned out in my head, you know? Should I write it down and give it to you?"
"Uh, um "
That's great, but
"But I guess that's impossible. You're going to succeed your dad, right? Then that means you'll be staying here after you graduate."
" Yeah. But what are you going to do? Your family supervises this town. You can't leave this town, right?"
"Yup. There's a limit to what I can do here, so I'm thinking of studying there for about five years.
I hear that my dad did the same thing. And it's natural to go to the highest institute of education if you want to be a proper magus, right?"
It's so sudden that my head blanks out.
It's natural for Tohsaka, who is a legitimate magus.
I finally realize the difference in our positions.
"London, huh? That's a really amazing thing, right?"
"Hmm, I don't know.
It's vexing, but it's not because they approve of my own powers. I was only invited because of my dad's achievements, and because I'm the last one alive."
She speaks casually, but I'm sure it's an amazing thing.
But London, huh? That's certainly too far away.
My father wasn't in the Magic Association. I'm just like him, and I don't like formal stuff.
But I might be able to move there.
I can start working more, study English, save up traveling and living expenses, and find a job over there
"I know you're not enthusiastic about going there since the Magic Association is your enemy, but the Clock Tower has proper equipments and it's really well-suited for training.
Oh, but you have to keep your Reality Marble a secret, so I guess they'll test your basics. Whoa, would one year be enough?"
No, no, let's say I am able to rent an apartment there.
I don't know what kind of a place the Clock Tower is, but I'm sure Tohsaka will get even busier. Then it should be better for me to go there after I become a proper magus by myself.
Yeah, that sounds good.
First of all, London isn't suited for me. I bet I'll faint if I go there and if it's filled with people like Kotomine
" Hey. Are you listening to me, Emiya-kun?"
"Huh? Were you saying something, Tohsaka?"
Tohsaka frowns and shuts her mouth.
After taking a deep breath, she makes a serious face and
"I forgot to tell you, but I'm being invited as the successor of the Tohsaka family. In other words, I can get a proper room as a proper magus."
She says something strange.
"Um, that's "
I may be blunt, but I know what Tohsaka is trying to say.
In a word
"Yup. I can unconditionally take one follower as an assistant. You won't have to take the test that way, and you'll be exempt from tuition fees.
Well, but you'll be in a disadvantageous position because you'll be a student at the Magic Association without being part of it."
My head resumes its thinking.
No, I force it to start working again.
What Tohsaka is telling me
I put every cell in my brain to work to weigh the options I have.
I must look funny, as Tohsaka is giggling.
"W-What? I'm not considering going there because you talked me into it, okay?"
"Is that all you want to tell me? Well, I'm going to London."
You know: fish, chips, cup 'o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins London.
She looks kindly at me.
Then, Tohsaka makes a mischievous expression.
Music: New Dawn
"So, what will you do, Shirou?"
She asks me gently, with eyes that see through me.
My face turns red.
Her words and expression blow away my humility and my dislike of the Magic Association.
This is what I mean by Tohsaka holding my weakness.
I can't help it if I fell in love with her.
She keeps smiling mischievously.
She knows what my answer is, but she's mercilessly attacking me.
"Uh I, um "
To be honest, London is too far away, but I can't imagine myself being taught by anyone other than Tohsaka.
And I never even thought about parting with her.
Most of all, I want to be with Tohsaka.
"Be clear, this is important.
Will you still come with me, even if it's as my assistant?"
She looks up into my eyes.
She looks so attractive that I feel like my heart will pop out of my mouth.
"S-Shut up, you idiot ! You idiot, idiot, idiot! I-I-If it's so important, tell me about it in a more appropriate place! I can't answer you when it's so sudden !!!"
"Hey, Shirou. What's your answer?"
She murmurs gently.
She's got me beat.
Is it this hard to nod and reply honestly?
But I can't turn around unless I say it to her.
" You idiot. Don't ask me such an obvious question."
I meet Tohsaka's gaze and tell her my honest opinion.
Her smile broadens at those words.
" Same to you. I took that seriously. I'm going to get taught by you until I become a proper magus."
"Of course. I'm going to make you an honest man and have you lead a happy life. I won't allow you to give up just by getting taken to London."
Where did her previous prettiness go?
She says so with a daring smile and jumps off of the desk.
The sunset should end soon.
Spring Break will end, April will come, and another year should pass by quickly.
We will part with this scenery until then.
After a year
Tohsaka and I will spend our final days of student life here.
I can't stay in the same place forever.
Tohsaka and I will be going someplace different in a year.
It should be a while before I find out if it is the right choice or not.
I recall that red figure one more time.
Neither this classroom nor that fight will change.
Everything is the same.
Everything is an illusion like a mirage that disappears when one turns around.
But I can get there if I aim high.
I will surely be able to catch up to his back with Tohsaka's help.
So I'll come up with an answer at that time.
Video: Credits (mirror)
The framerate on the credits is still shit, but it's better than only pictures.
Music: Turning Seasons
Music: THIS ILLUSION (piano ver.)
The sparks of the crashing swords.
Many dozens of unskilled attacks and defenses.
They were clumsy attacks that just tried to deny each other.
Why did such a thing revive a worn-out oath?
His charging body is covered in wounds.
His fingers are broken, his limbs are slashed apart, his breathing has stopped although the boy does not know it.
Even at a rush, his speed is trifling, and his attacks are mediocre.
Although he has absorbed his combat skill, his techniques are now as clumsy as an amateur's again.
His attack is executed haphazardly.
His attack is heavier than any that came before.
His fury is incomparable to before.
The boy swings his sword recklessly.
The attacks are equally matched.
The space is filled with sparks and everything entering it will be cut to pieces.
It is the embodiment of their minds that melt together even though they repel each other.
Seeing it, he is confident that his enemy has no power left.
The boy in front of him is a corpse.
Why is there infinite power in his arms holding the sword?
He sees an illusion.
It must be because he got bored with seeing someone attacking even though he knows it is useless.
The irritation boils up his most detestable impulse.
What did he feel was beautiful and noble?
The boy said that he does not want to see people die meaninglessly.
He wanted to save everyone who was in trouble if they could be saved.
It is out of the question.
He knows such a wish is just meaningless hypocrisy.
An ideal where others are more important than yourself is an ideal that should never be held.
The voices are hard to pick up.
The boy, who is on the verge of death, frantically opposes the impediment in front of him.
He does not need to be told where the boy's motivation is coming from.
This enemy will not stop.
The enemy will never stop on his own.
Even though the boy is attacking with all his power, he is taking no notice of him.
The boy is only trying to slash himself, the one who obstructs himself.
His enemy is fighting for the things he believed and for the things he will keep on believing in.
Realizing that, he grits his teeth.
The boy keeps challenging even though he knows he cannot win and that it is meaningless.
That is the exact mistake he made.
But then, why?
Why do these eyes keep on staring at him?
The boy overcame such limits ten times.
It is obvious that the enemy will not stop even if this attack is blocked.
Music: Ever-present Feeling
The final blow is coming in.
But the man does not watch the sword that is about to pierce him.
That is the only thing on the boy's mind.
Even if his heart is a fake, the beauty of what he believed in is real.
That is something he cannot lie about.
And it is the origin of his powers.
The boy cries out with a smashed throat.
That he wants everyone to be happy.
There is no road of retreat.
Because the dream is
Video: Ideal (mirror)
But he earns a small answer.
The answer is only for this summoning. It is a meaningless thing that he will forget the next time he is summoned.
But there is nothing to regret.
It is something that has already been built up, something that the boy will build using all his life.
There is only one thing coming and going through his mind.
There is regret.
He does not know how many times he wished to redo things.
Heroic spirit Emiya will forever curse this end.
I don't want to point it out too explicitly, so I'll say it here: for those that have seen HF, see if you can spot the reference in this update. It's before the credits.