Part 294: Ryudou Temple / Assassin's attack
" Yes. That mountain is filled with an ominous presence. The land there is the spiritual focus of this town. It is worth investigating, regardless of whether the shadow is there."
"Then it's decided. Let's go."
We walk to the gate.
We can reach the temple in an hour, if we hurry. We don't have any time to lose, but
Saber is looking at the outbuilding.
She is looking at Sakura's room, where Sakura should now be sleeping.
" Shirou. I have something to discuss with you. It follows this morning's conversation."
" ? You mean about Sakura?"
"Yes. Sakura's guilty conscience is too strong. She has a tendency of trying to atone for her sins in the present rather than the future."
She must be talking about the quarrel they had yesterday.
Saber said Sakura was right, so Sakura had no reason to worry about it.
But Sakura said she was still at fault, went and apologized to Saber, and had Saber apologize to her instead.
Sakura and Saber.
Saber must be worried about the difference in their thought process.
" What do you mean?"
" Sakura places too much blame upon herself. She punishes herself for her errors instead of correcting them. She brands herself with her dishonor, rather than working to recover her honor. She burdens herself in a good way and a bad way."
She talks with disgust.
It sounds like she's talking about herself more than about Sakura.
" It was clear to me last night. She is special when she is with you, but I believe she behaves differently in other circumstances. Sakura is liberated from her guilty conscience only when she is with you."
That is the source of her concern.
Sakura should be able to live with pride without needing to rely on another.
" I see. Sakura certainly is too shy. I'll be careful."
Now that Saber mentions it, it's not healthy for a girl Sakura's age to always be busy helping around the house.
She says it's fun to be here, but she should at least go outside to hang out once in a while.
" Thanks for looking out for Sakura, Saber.
I'm really happy that you're worried about her when she has nothing to do with the Holy Grail War."
" No. I also have a guilty conscience, so it did not seem like someone else's business."
The night air is not any different.
It's warm, and it smells like ripe fruit.
" Let's go in, Saber."
"Yes. Please be careful, Shirou."
"I know. Tell me right away if you feel anything dangerous."
We go through the compound and climb up to the entryway.
The wooden hallway is dark, and the floor creaks with each step.
" It is the same for me. But I am sure this area is abnormal. We are surrounded by a different common sense ever since we came on this mountain.
It is abnormal because this mountain is filled with magical energy and we do not find it abnormal."
" You're right. Okay, let's investigate a bit more. This temple has a lake behind it. There are more buildings over there."
It is said that a dragon lives in that lake.
There may be a clue at the place people consider holy.
At that instant
"Saber!? Hey, what are you doing, you idiot !"
I bang on the door.
I don't know what kind of magic it is, but the door is as hard as steel.
And from the other side of the steel-like door
"Please protect yourself there, Shirou ! This opponent will only target you !"
"What!? Who's the enemy!? Is it that shadow!?"
"No! But this Servant is a natural enemy of Masters! I am sorry, but I cannot protect you if you are at the battleground.
I have to fight Assassin one-on-one, or he will kill you first !"
I didn't even sense him.
Even though the air is strange here, a Servant's presence is a different matter.
The magical energy should be apparent if a Servant takes form near us.
Even if he hid his presence, I should be able to tell, let alone Saber!
"I will finish the battle in one blow. Please do not move until then!"
Saber's presence fades.
Her footsteps are loud. She must have repelled Assassin's attacks as she charged within range.
I look around.
I pick up a stick that's about the size of a wooden sword and "strengthen" it immediately.
I have to make this into a sword and break open this door.
An ominous feeling, a mysterious uneasiness, fills my mind.
It feels like a fatal mistake to leave Saber by herself on this mountain, so I have to hurry and
The lights go out.
No, there was no light to begin with.
The moonlight has been blocked off by clouds.
I smell something.
A smell of rotten meat and sounds of bugs flying around.
I glare into the darkness.
"Hah. Talk about walking into a trap, young lad."
It's that old magus. He's hiding somewhere.