Part 298: Parting and oath / What is lost
Music: Ever-present Feeling
Instinctively, I know what that means.
I endure the dizziness as I head out to the hallway.
" You "
There's no enmity coming from Rider.
It seems she actually came to help me.
I don't care why she saved me.
" You're Shinji's Servant. So why did you save me?"
I want to go there quickly.
So why am I taking my time?
"My orders are not to let you die. I only obeyed my master."
That's fine. I don't believe her, but it's good that I got an answer.
More importantlyI have to hurry and go there.
I understand right away that this is the place.
I can't tell whose blood this is.
Butmy legs lose strength the instant I see it, and I crumple to my knees.
I reach out and touch it.
The blood is dry, and it doesn't stick to my fingers.
The only thing the stain tells me is that she disappeared here.
How many times did I hear that line?
Those words were a comfort and a source of worry.
She only cared about me.
And she never said anything about protecting herself.
I scratch at the mark.
Saber fought here and fell here.
That's what happens in battle.
I knew before I made a contract with her that this would be a battle to the death.
I accepted the fact and took her hand, and she merely answered me
The girl who protected me, even though she was smaller than me.
When I told her I wanted to put priority on the black shadow over the Holy Grail, she simply nodded, ignoring the premonitions of her end.
And this is the result.
I lost her, lost my rights as a Master, and am back to being just an amateur.
I am now alone, with no means of fighting
I have to carry through with what I have to do.
"Then I have to go."
I slowly rub the bloodstain one last time.
I don't bow or thank her, and let my fingers go.
Pain assails my left hand, and it disappears.
The moment I acknowledge her death and say goodbye
The Command Spell on my left hand disappears without trace.
One does not lose the Command Spell just because one has lost his Servant.
It only disappears when the magus loses his right to be a Master.
"I see. So I "
I don't know what happened here tonight.
There is only one certainty.
I lost Saber and lost my rights as a Master.
"I shall see you home. It is dangerous to walk alone at night, even with the enemy gone."
I stop unintentionally.
All of Rider's words tonight are unexpected.
"I don't get it. Is that also an order from your Master?"
"No, I have received no such command. This is my personal choice. It is a whim of mine, nothing more."
" I see. I'll believe you in that case, but you don't have to walk me home. We're enemies, so I can't get further in debt to you."
"Enemiesso you still have the will to fight us? Even though you are not a magus and have lost your Servant?"
I don't answer her.
First of all, I never said I'm out of this war.
Her long hair flutters.
Rider heads to the mountain gate ahead of me.
Is it because she looks so defenseless?
I mutter something I forgot to tell her earlier.
I'm embarrassed to see a reaction like that, but I have to properly thank her.
"What did you just say?"
And she's asking me seriously, too.
It's awkward to stare at her straight on, so I avert my gaze.
"I-I said thank you. I would've died if you hadn't saved me.
As you can see, I can't give anything in return right now. So I have to at least thank you."
"Please do not mind. I only obeyed my orders.
I will kill you immediately if my master's order changes."
With those cold, emotionless words, Rider disappears through the mountain gate.
"I thought so. That's why I told her I wouldn't take any favors."
I put my hand over my mouth as I cough up blood.
My stomach still hurts from Assassin's attack. And my back still burns from hitting the wall.
I don't know how badly wounded my stomach is, but I bet my back is just scratched.
The wounds that healed so quickly before aren't healing at all.
"I see. I'm back to my old self again."
When I had my contract with Saber, wounds healed themselves.
But that's lost.
Even a slight wound could prove fatal now.
When I go into the front hallway, I find Sakura waiting for me.
" Sakura? What are you doing up so late? Did I wake you up?"
"No, I just couldn't sleep. I noticed your shoes weren't here, so I was wondering where you went."
"Oh, I was just taking a walk."
Come to think of it, the light was on when I came home.
Then was Sakura waiting here the whole time?
"Sakura. Were you waiting at the door all this time?"
"Huh? N-No, that's not true.
I got up to go to the bathroom, and I just happened to be by the door when you came."
She was waiting here.
It's been over three hours since Saber and I left.
Maybe Sakura noticed right away and was waiting here all this time.
"A-Anyway, do you want some tea!?
It's a bit late, but you'll get your spirit back if you drink warm tea and relax!"
Sakura is really pushy right now.
I must really look terrible if she's forcing herself to act this way.
"Yeah, please. I'm home. I'm sorry I went out without telling you."
I take off my shoes and go into the hallway.
I hold my aching stomach and head to the living room.
With me in front of her
" Yes. Welcome home, Senpai."
Sakura looks relieved.
"That hurts, Sakura. I think that's enough disinfectant. Just wipe the wound and put gauze on it."
"No! We have to disinfect it properly because your back is all red! And it's natural that it hurts. You came home with such a big wound, so please bear it."
Is it because of the archery club or Fuji-Nee that she's merciless toward injured people?
"Does it hurt anywhere else, Senpai?"
"Mm ? No, I only hurt my stomach and back. Everything else is fine."
"I see. Then all that's left is to put some gauze on and tape it up."
Sakura handles the first-aid kit with practiced ease.
She looks so intent on it that I don't want to interrupt.
Let's explain why this is happening. It's because I threw up the tea I drank because it stung my stomach.
I didn't want Sakura to find out, but that gave it away.
I had no choice but to tell her how badly I was hurt, and now she's treating me.
Well, she wasn't that much of a devil to begin with.
When I showed her my stomach
She was blushing so badly that she couldn't treat me.
"Are you okay with this, Sakura? I can treat myself, so you don't have to push yourself. Besides, my back is even worse."
"I-It's all right! I'll do it! Please let me do it!"
She was so flustered that I half-expected her to faint when she saw the wound on my back.
I didn't want to stop Sakura, since I couldn't treat my own back.
I did as I was told and let her treat me.
Still, it was so bad that she couldn't do anything for a while.
She stared at it for a few minutes and started treating me after a gulp.
That was twenty minutes ago.
It's past two o'clock now.
Sakura's careful treatment is about to end.
"Okay, it's all done now. Here's a new shirt, so please put this on."
"Huh ? It's done already? Thanks, Sakura."
"You're welcome. Thanks for your patience."
I put on the new shirt and take a deep breath.
There's nothing to be done about my stomach, but my back feels much better.
I'll sleep face-down tonight, and hopefully it'll be better tomorrow.
"Well. Let's get some sleep. I'm sorry I kept you up so late, Sakura."
"Ehno, that's fine, but "
Sakura hangs her head.
It seems like she wants to say something, but can't.
"Sakura? Did something happen while I was gone?"
" No, um Senpai, did Saber-san go home?"
'Did Saber-san go home?'
When I hear the words from someone else, the reality of it finally sinks in.
"Yeah. I know it was sudden, but she went home. She's not coming back."
I endure my dizziness and answer calmly.
It's not like it's a stupid question.
Of course she would think something happened if Saber, who was here four hours ago, is gone.
But I have to put on a strong face and act like nothing's wrong.
"Saber was talking about you before she went away. She said you should take it easy because you're the type that thinks too hard."
" I see. I wish I could've told her goodbye, since we just made up."
I can't even nod to that.
Saber disappeared before I could even say goodbye.
"But I'm glad. Ever since she came, you've been getting injured all the time. Now everything's back to normal."
"Isn't that right? I won't ask you what you were doing, but you were going out to help Saber-san, right?
Now that she's gone, you're not going to be exposed to danger anymore."
"You're wrong. I'm going to keep going out at night, even though Saber's gone. Um, it's not that I was helping Saber. Saber was helping me."
My tension is gone now that the treatment is over.
I'm getting really sleepy.
"Good night, Sakura.
And while we're on the topic I'll be leaving my house a lot more often starting tomorrow, but you can keep using this place like you've been.
I'll come home late, like tonight, but I don't want you to worry and go to sleep. Please don't wait by the door for me like you did tonight."
" Okay. Good night, Senpai."
But before I do so, I glare into the darkness to prepare myself.
What Saber lost against, and what I should be fighting
I have to accept them here and now.
Music: Midnight Interval
"What I have to fight against "
It's that shadow.
That "thing" that attacks people without discrimination.
The black shadow that even Saber and Archer fear.
I know with certainty, even though I didn't see it.
That is what defeated Saber.
Assassin cannot defeat Saber.
So if there is something at the temple that can defeat her, it's that shadow.
I have to beat the thing that beat Saber.
On top of that, I'll have to deal with Matou Zouken and Assassin.
Zouken said there's no more use for me now that I'm no longer a Master.
But so long as I stay in the Holy Grail War and search for the shadow, Zouken will continue to haunt me.
"But I decided to fight. I said I'll become a superhero."
I lost Saber because of that.
I've walked in Kiritsugu's footsteps ever since the fire because of that.