Part 266: To the Ryudou Temple / Malak al Maut
Music: Midnight Interval
The lights go out.
It's eleven o'clock, and the town is going to sleep.
"So there is a Master at the Ryudou Temple?"
"According to Tohsaka. She said we shouldn't fight them because they are troublesome enemies, but it seems the coma incidents in town are their doing. I don't know if it's true or not, but we have to find out."
" You are right. I do feel something intentional in the ley line pointing to the Ryudou Temple. I am sure that a Master is on that mountain."
" ? What's wrong, Saber? You seem like you're not up for it. You have less spirit than last night."
I would like to avoid careless attacks."
" Hm. Should we just patrol the town tonight and put off attacking the Ryudou Temple until we get more information? It is reckless to go attack them when we don't know anything about our enemy."
"No, there is no need for that. A Master that would set up his base in the Ryudou Temple would not readily reveal his identity. If we are to quickly defeat him, we must face them straight on and power through."
Saber is determined.
She must believe we have a chance. Either way, if the Master at the temple is responsible for all the recent coma victims, we have to do something.
"All right, let's go to the Ryudou Temple.
But we're only going to investigate tonight.
We'll retreat once we find out who the Master is and what Servant he has. I'd like to do more, but I can't support you, so I want to be cautious."
I can't allow Saber to get hurt, just like the fight with Berserker.
If I can't help her directly, I have to protect her in some other way.
" Understood. I shall entrust you with the final judgment. Please decide then if we are to retreat or fight."
" Hm. I'm glad to hear that, but it's also scary. I might wuss out even if the enemy is weak."
"Yeah, that's right. I want to avoid heading into a minefield, so please warn me."
"Understood. Then I shall do so if you make a wrong choice.
You will learn little if I merely warn you, so I shall impose a penalty if you make a mistake."
" Hey, what do you mean by 'penalty'?"
"Where would the enjoyment be in telling you? I shall keep it a secret, since this is one of the few pleasures I have."
That joke isn't very Saber-like. It must be Fuji-Nee's influence.
I really do hope it's just a joke.
Seems more like Rin's influence than Taiga's.
"But putting that aside, Shirou will Sakura be all right? She seemed unusually distressed."
"I thought so too, but I didn't see anything unusual when I took her temperature. I'll let her get a good night's sleep and see how she is tomorrow."
"I see. Then we can head out into battle without worry."
I nod and look at the outbuilding.
Sakura's room is on the second floor.
I have to leave without her noticing, and I have to come back as if nothing has happened.
"Let's go, Saber. I have to act like a Master now. I won't think about anything else."
His arms are the next to fall.
Wet with blood, the elegantly-patterned fabric of his battlecoat looks like a giant red flower.
"My. I did not think you were of the serpent's kind."
In steep contrast to his bloody body, his lips are white.
Neither breath nor blood passes his throat now.
Sasaki Kojirou's internal organs no longer serve their original purpose.
The mountain gate is quiet.
The Servant that guarded the place,
the shadow that appeared
Neither of them move.
The battle has already ended.
Assassin was defeated by "someone" who came up the stone steps.
He had no time to identify the intruder as an enemy, let alone cross swords.
This "someone" was on a different level to begin with.
Assassin's body bursts open.
Torn, mutilated, and weaponless, he cannot even take his own life.
The shadow approaches.
It strokes Assassin's cheek with a scornful cherishing gesture.
A deformed, spider-like hand comes out of his stomach.
His bones crack.
His flesh rips apart.
It feels as if his organs are turning into someone else's.
Assassin suppresses the regurgitating blood.
The swordsman swallows the blood and smiles with his pale lips.
" Very well, do as you wish. After all, this is coming out of me. I'm sure it is nothing noble"
He smiles, even though he is denied an honorable death.
If one talks about a grand spectacle
His smile is grander than the spawning of this abomination.
Taking the false Servant's flesh as its own, the true Assassin enters our world.
His first cries sound like those of an insect.
The black insect that crawled from the swordsman's stomach devours the body that was his own nursery.
He giggles while tearing the flesh apart.
He laughs while crunching on the bones.
Every time he does so, the insect becomes more like a man, and the empty brain acquires human wisdom.
And after a while
He has finished sipping every last bit of the blood and blesses the birth of his own self, the "assassin".
The only ones to witness are the chorus of insects and the shining moonlight.
The high-pitched birth cry melts into the darkness.