Part 282: Shocking Mapo tofuThis update is brought to you by ZeeToo.
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
In other words, the food's hot.
Imagine being stabbed in the tongue and then having salt rubbed into it, and you'll be on the right track.
This restaurant's infernal seasonings have given me a general distaste for Chinese food.
It doesn't help that the manager keeps adding "aru" at the end of every sentence.
And now I'm entering this terrible dungeon willingly.
The manager will bring a menu as soon as he sees me.
That'll be the end of it.
At the very least, I'll have to order something that uses sweet vinegar.
It'll turn out horrible if I order something like twice cooked pork, and mapo tofu is out of the question. That stuff is dangerous. It'll melt my tongue. I hear the judge of hell pulls out your tongue, so such awful food could easily come from there. The manager traveled abroad to train his cooking arts, so maybe he trained with the devils.
It's almost two-thirty.
I promised to be here right after school, so I can't hesitate any longer.
"All right, I'm going!"
I don't know why I have to get pumped up to go into a restaurant, but here it's necessary.
I'm not sure what Tohsaka was thinking when she said we should meet here, but I'm sure she's regretting it now.
Video: Mapo Tofu (I) (mirror)
"Hm? You're finally here, Emiya? I came early, so I have already started eating."
The priest is eating mapo tofu.
Why is Kotomine here?
Why is he eating mapo tofu that looks like a boiling pot?
And why is he eating it so fast?
He's sweating, but he never stops for a drink, spiritedly moving his hands as if they will never move again if he stops.
Actually Is he just being stubborn? He's eating it way too fast.
Or is it that good? It looks as if the spicy oil and red pepper were cooked together for a hundred years just to be used in that dish.
Then this is bad. This restaurant and Kotomine are both bad.
That food has dangerous amounts of spice. It can't be explained any other way.
"What's wrong? Don't just keep standing and sit down."
The priest talks as he keeps eating.
Amazing. He only has about two more mouthfuls left.
I watch in amazement when Kotomine suddenly stops eating.
Our eyes meet.
Kotomine watches me with his usual oppressive eyes and
"Do you want some?"
"I don't want any!"
I reply with all my might.
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
It seems he asked Tohsaka to invite me here.
" So, what do you want? Isn't it unusual for you to come talk to someone?"
"Well, I heard that you have already defeated two Servants. I came to commend you on your achievements."
Even if it is true, he should have picked a better restaurant.
"I see. I'm sorry, but I think your words are good enough.
I'm not fighting for your sake. There's no reason for you to praise me."
"Hm. I guess there was no need for banal flattery.
Then let me cut to the chase. You heard from Rin that Caster is still alive, correct?"
" Yeah. Caster still exists, and she's collecting magical energy from the people in town, right?"
"Yes. I do not know if it is related, but there was another Servant at the Ryudou Temple on the night you defeated Caster.
I believe it to be Assassin, judging by the appearance and combat style, but I am not certain."
"She did not sense him, right? Assassin is not a strong heroic spirit, but their class has the special ability to conceal its presence. Covert action is their area of expertise. Even Saber should not be able to sense Assassin if he hides his presence."
Then that means Assassin was at the Ryudou Temple on the night we defeated Caster.
Was he hiding near us, trying to find an opening to attack?
" I understand. But why are you telling me all this? I thought the supervisor doesn't help one particular Master."
"I am merely sharing information with you. I have told you all I know. In exchange, tell me what you have experienced over the last few days. There is something strange about this Holy Grail War.
Something is different from the last war."
"If you do not wish to tell me, I will not force you. Just take my words as a warning."
" No, I'll pay your price. After all, you came out and gave me information that I needed."
"Hah. You have a strong sense of duty as always, Emiya Shirou."
The priest smiles in satisfaction.
Heh. It seems he knows every move I'm going to make.
But I'm not going to fall for his tricks that easily.
"I'll talk. But first, I have a question.
How do you know such a thing?
You wouldn't know that Assassin was at the Ryudou Temple unless you had a Servant."
No, he shouldn't know even if he does have a Servant.
Neither Saber nor Archer, Tohsaka's Servant, could tell.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"I said that I am also a Master. You said it too. That I would not know unless I had a Servant.
Well, you are certainly correct."
"But that ended last night. Lancer has been eliminated, which means that I am not a Master. I am no longer your enemy.
Well, is that all you want to ask me? Then it is your turn to talk. Tell me who you met and what you saw over the past couple of days."
The atmosphere becomes heavy in an instant.
He doesn't allow me any questions.
He wants answers.
I have a lot of things I want to ask him, but I have to answer him first.
In as much detail as possible, I recount what happened to me after making my contract with Saber four days ago.
The story lasts for about thirty minutes.
I haven't done much as a Master.
The information I provided is mostly useless.
But the priest takes great interest in Matou Zouken.
"Matou ZoukenI thought he had withered away, but he is still active? I guess it is true that he is a blood-sucking monster."
"Huh ? That old man is a blood-sucking monster ?"
"Yes. The magic of the Matou family is absorption. I hear that Matou Zouken, a magus from six generations back, was a prominent bug user."
That's it! He must be the queen of Grobulax V wearing a human shell!
Using bugs That doesn't mean his familiar is a bug, right?
Or another way to use bugs is
"Hold on. By bug user do you mean like guys who use bugs as a medium for poison? Like, putting in hundreds of poisonous bugs in a pot, and using the last surviving one as a curse ?"
"No, that is wrong. From the start, cursing is outside of the Makiri's area of expertise.
The results of their magic always return to their bodies.
Cursing others would only result in mutual destruction."
" Then he's using bugs as familiars?"
"Yes. Matou Zouken is merely a monster who feeds on the blood of others.
I hear that he kept his youth by transfiguring his body and sucking blood, and that he has lived for a few hundred yearsbut
Based on what I heard from Rin's father, he is now on the verge of death, and can no longer walk in broad daylight."
" He can't walk in broad daylight? Well, I did meet him both times at night"
He sucks on people's blood to prolong his life.
And he can't walk under the light of the sun. That's just like
" Kotomine. Is Matou Zouken a vampire?"
"Heh. He is more like a parasitic insect. His nature and personality are like those of an insidious slug."
He insults Zouken.
It seems Kotomine really hates that old man.
"No, Matou Zouken was never a Master. He is like a counselor for the Matou familybut he is a monster that lived for hundreds of years. He might have devised a plan to become a Master in a way we do not know of."
" Then the one who made a contract with Caster after her Master was killed is "
"Who knows? But he is not someone you can let your guard down against.
If he has taken the stage, he must believe his victory is certain. That means that the Matou family's Master has the support of the worst devil in Makiri history."
Shinji said he hasn't given up.
And he has the backing of Matou Zouken.
He lost his Command Spell, but that old man might be able to give him a new Servant.
"You have been a great help. All these abnormalities make sense if the Makiri elder is in action. As the war's supervisor, I shall try to suppress the damage."
Kotomine nods to himself and relaxes.
"Supervisor, huh? You're not one to talk when you were secretly a Master until yesterday."
"Do not put it like that. I have no wish. I obtained Lancer because I wanted to give the Holy Grail to a more appropriate desirer.
But that is over now. It is for the remaining Masters to decide.
Well, personally, I would like either you or Rin to obtain the Holy Grail."
He just said that he doesn't need the Holy Grail.
In fact, he clearly told me that he wants either Rin or I to obtain it.
" Why? You became a Master because you want the Holy Grail, right? Don't you have a wish you want granted?"
"Let's see. I do not have a wish, but I do have a goal. My goal is not a serious matter, and it is meaningless even if I achieve it myself."
A goal that is meaningless if he achieves it himself ?
"What are you talking about? If you want to tell riddles, find somebody else."
"Consider it a friendly warning. We are the same, you and I. As we do not have clear wishes, we cannot seek salvation.
I simply thought it would be easier for you if you quickly realized it."
I feel like he has grabbed my heart in his hand.
The priest's words seep into my mind like a curse.
I constrict my wavering eyes and glare at him.
Video: Mapo Tofu (II) (mirror)
Kotomine picks up his spoon.
I'm sure of it.
He ordered more servings beforehand.
Our eyes meet.
Kotomine stares at me with oppressive eyes and
"Do you want some?"
I answer him with a straight face.