Part 308: Save Rin / Sisters (I)Music: Breach
Video: Heavy (mirror)
Tohsaka doesn't even budge when I grab her arm and pull.
It seems she's heavier than she looks.
"Damn, you're heavy!"
She doesn't move even when I pull with both my arms.
Then all that's left is
"Damn, just move!"
I charge at her to push her away !
"W-What are you doing!?"
I can't hear her voice clearly.
A familiar voice from a distance.
My sense of reality is fading.
My mind whites out and my left arm bleeds red, mixing like paint.
I see Sakura staring at me as I fall to the floor.
And she falls to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut.
"How do you feel? Have you calmed down?"
Sitting on the church's long bench, I nod silently.
"I see. Then there's no need for treatment. Your wounds should all heal as your energy returns, so just rest for now."
Tohsaka sits a bit away from me.
The distance between our minds is much greater than this.
There's no idle conversation as we wait for Kotomine.
My left hand screams with pain when I clench it.
It feels like there's a nail driven through my palm.
The cut from grabbing the knife hurts more than the bruises from Rider or the stab wound from Sakura.
I guess the spear-like thing that attacked Tohsaka was Sakura's magic.
The magical nature that the Matou household inherits is "absorption".
When lack of magical energy made Sakura suffer, she unconsciously cast the spell.
She probably aimed at Tohsaka because she had the most magical energy there.
It stabbed and entangled around my arm because I pushed Tohsaka away, and it sucked all the magical energy out of me.
Magical energy is life force.
It's natural for me to lose consciousness when it's sucked out of me.
I'd already used up my energy when I fought Rider, so I easily fell unconscious, and Tohsaka brought me to the church after that.
I hear Sakura fainted when she saw me fall.
Tohsaka doesn't say anything.
Neither Archer nor Rider are here.
Only the two of us are in the church, waiting for Kotomine's return.
" I thought so. Fine, I'll tell you. It's no use hiding it from you, and it's meaningless to do so now.
So you want to ask about Sakura?"
Tohsaka takes a deep breath and starts to talk in her normal tone.
Which sounds strangely like a man named after a mushroom.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"It all started quite some time ago. The Matou blood started to run thin, and their children were born with fewer and fewer Magic Circuits.
The family is originally from another country, so I think the land of Japan didn't suit them.
Their decline started when they started living here, and the Magic Circuit finally disappeared in this generation when Shinji was born."
" The history of Matou ended with that.
They should have taken an apprentice or something if they'd wanted their quest to continue. But the Matous are a distinguished family, and to the last, they refused to take in an outsider.
"As a result, their successors had less magical energy, and it finally ran out in the end.
They finally started looking for an apprentice when that happened, but no magus would come to a fallen family. Hundreds of years of Makiri history should have ended at that time."
"But they weren't people who could give up then. Shinji's father adopted a child and taught the child magic."
I expect you wouldn't know because your family is a special case, but a family of magi hands down its secrets to only one child. They don't teach magic to any other children. Zouken said this, right?
If there is a sibling, one is your successor, while the other is raised normally or put up for adoption."
Some may raise her and hide from her the fact that they are a family of magi.
But that's difficult and inefficient.
If they trained their Magic Circuit over many generations, it would not be their wish to waste the excellent gene even if she is not chosen as the successor.
"Yes. I had a sister a year younger than me.
The declined Matou family had no hope of someone giving them a child for adoption.
It's only natural for them to rely on the Tohsaka family, the ones they held a pact with for a long time."
"I don't know which one of us my dad intended to make his successor. But I remained a Tohsaka, and she was taken to the Matou family.
That was eleven years ago.
I couldn't go see her much after that. It was an agreement made with Matou, and I couldn't readily go see the successor of the Matous."
"I see. Then you and Sakura are "
"Real sisters. Well, we never called each other like that."
I don't know how much emotion is contained in those simple words.
But that makes me understand.
Why she always asked about Sakura.
Why she didn't let Archer use his Noble Phantasm.
" That's good. You're on Sakura's side."
A dim light shines into the gloom of my mind.
I don't know what's going to happen to Sakura, or what she's going to do from now on.
But if Tohsaka cares for Sakura, there just might be hope waiting on the ominous path ahead.
Tohsaka denies me as if reading my thoughts.
"Not her ally ?"
"Right. If Sakura can't be cured, I'll dispose of her, just like I would with any other Master gone rampant. I can't sit idly by while a magus indiscriminately attacks people. If Kirei can't treat Sakura, then I'll just have to get rid of her myself."
"WWhat are you saying !? Sakura's your sister, isn't she!? Don't ever say something like that !"
"Sakura is a child of the Matous. She stopped being my sister eleven years ago."
" Hmph. The outcome won't change even if Sakura is my family as you say. It wouldn't change anything. In fact, that would give you even less right to interfere."
Tohsaka speaks as if it's a matter of course.
"Then you're "
No different from Shinji.
That's cold, man.
But before I can say the worst thing possible
"What are you doing? The operation is complete, but she is still in critical condition. If you want to make a commotion, go do so outside."
Kotomine Kirei emerges from the back of the church.
" Hmph. I can't tell if you two are on bad terms or in good harmony."
"H-Heh. You're just mistaken."
"I see. Then sit down. I shall explain the state Matou Sakura is in."
Taking our separate seats, we listen intently to the priest.
"To put it simply, there is a poison, a worm, in Matou Sakura's body. The worm is called crest worm. It is like an artificial sanshi, the three corpses. Do you recognize this name?"
I shake my head.
Sanshia bug said to inhabit a human body that reports the person's evil deeds to the Judge of Hell.
I've heard of sanshi, but I've never heard of a crest worm.
"So you do not know. Well, it was originally just a harmless parasite.
It's a familiar that lives off of its host's magical energy. It is of the lowest rank of familiars, as it does nothing beyond telling its master whether or not its host still lives."
" I see. So it's like a monitoring device.
So Zouken's monitoring Sakura with that?"
"Oh. When was it decided that Matou Zouken is the master of the crest worm?"
"I'm sorry, but I'm in no mood for your long talk. Who else but that old bastard would do something like that to Sakura?"
"I see, that is certainly true. Matou Shinji cannot use crest worms. So it can only be that vampire."
"Right? Just go ahead and tell me the result. Can Sakura be saved or not?"
"You are being hasty, Rin. You seem to understand her condition, but the boy does not. We should explain for his sake, right?"
Tohsaka looks away awkwardly.
Judging by her expression, she doesn't want me to find out.
"Well, what shall we do, Emiya Shirou? Rin says she just wants to know the result."
" No. Please explain things in order, Kotomine."
I'm sorry for Tohsaka.
But I can't yield to her about this. If this has to do with Sakura's life, I have to know everything about it.
Music: Church on the Hill
"Then let me continue.
The crest worm I explained earlier is undermining Matou Sakura's nerves.
It must be the result of eleven years spent growing within her. The crest worm has turned into a nerve, like a Magic Circuit, and it has entangled with her own, swarming all throughout her body.
It has transformed into her Magic Crest. Under normal circumstances it is suspended, having no effect on Matou Sakura's body."
"But once activated, it will violate Matou Sakura's nerves and will keep moving using her magical energy.
That's what happened earlier. The crest worm roamed through her body, absorbing her magical energy."
"Had she remained in that state for half a day, she would certainly have died.
The crest worm would suck all of her magical energy as its power, then eat her flesh as nutrition. It means she would have her body consumed after her magical energy was sucked dry."
"If you have a Magic Crest, you should well know how painful it is.
Even the faintest trace of a foreign substance puts a human body through discomfort, and can even be life-threatening. Having another creature entwining its nerves with your own, moving within you, would easily be enough to kill you."
" In that regard, I'm surprised Matou Sakura was conscious until just now.
I do not know if Matou Sakura has a strong will, or if she is just used to the crest worm's activation. We will need to ask her if we want this answered."
I hear a sound.
It's the sound of my teeth grinding.
'If you have a Magic Crest, you should well know how painful it is'?
I couldn't possibly know.
I cover myself in sweat just to insert one Magic Circuit into my body.
Sakura has it several times worse.
I couldn't even guess at her pain.
" Hold on. You said if it's activated, right? Then the crest worm isn't usually active?"
"That is correct. The poison put on her only awakens the crest worm.
The crest worm is only an observation device.
It is only activated as punishment for the host, Matou Sakura, when she breaks a 'certain condition'."
Just listening to his words makes me go crazy.
I know it's not something Kotomine did, but I almost attack him for saying that.
I suppress my selfish emotion and
"What is the condition?"
I urge him to go on and tell me the heart of the matter.
"Matou Sakura fell, and Rin tried to save her. But Rider prevented her from doing so.
Then the condition is obvious. To abandon the battles as a Master. That should be the restriction of the crest worm."
"She has approved of the battles by entrusting Rider to Shinji. But the crest worm will torment her as she refuses it now. It has calmed down for now, but the crest worm will keep tormenting her.
It will tell her, 'What are you doing?
If you are truly a Master, then go kill the other Masters.
If you cannot, I will eat you and kill you'."
My mind almost breaks down.
Just hearing about it makes sparks flash in my vision. More than anything, I want to kill that old man.
" That's the condition Sakura must follow?"
"It seems so. Nothing else seems likely."
"Then! Can't she just not be a Master? If she uses up her Command Spell and cancels the contract with her Servant, she won't be a Master anymore"
"I would not recommend that.
I told you that the condition of the crest worm's activation is to abandon her duty as a Master.
If she cancels her contract with Rider, the crest worm will consume her for sure."
"I see. So she can fight and survive, or refuse to fight and be killed by the crest worm. Those are the only options Sakura has, right?"
"Right. The crest worm will torment its host for as long as the Holy Grail War continues.
If her condition keeps up, her body will not last long, and her mind will be destroyed. She has a Magic Crest all over her body, after all.
You should understand how absurd that is, Rin."
" Yeah. Even though it should be familiar with my body, I still periodically get the urge to cut off my arm.
I'm like this with one arm, so her function as a human being should be violated if she has it all over her body.
She's no magus, but a cluster of Magic Circuit. The human mind should be overwritten by the wave of magical energy."
"Whathen Sakura is "
"She is in danger if her condition keeps up.
I don't know how many more days she can last, but the crest worm will spread further with each successive day. She will die if we cannot remove it before it infects her whole body, but her body will not last that long in any case."
"The only thing I did was to purify the poison.
The surgery to call back her lost magical energy and mind is after this, but the chance of success is very low.
That is all.
To sum everything up, Matou Sakura cannot be saved. Are you satisfied now, Emiya Shirou?"
There's no way I'm satisfied.
Sakura can't be saved?
She was doing so well until yesterday, so why are things like this now !?
"What about removing it? Can't you extract the crest worm?
If you know it's there, you should be able to take it out, right!?"
"Extraction would be difficult. The crest worm has already integrated itself into her Magic Circuits. Even the one who implanted it wouldn't be able to extract it now.
Yes. If you wanted to extract it, you would have to rely on a miracle, or the Holy Grail."
The Holy Grail.
So that's where it ends up, huh?
Sakura's only choice is to keep fighting as a Master,
and the power of the Holy Grail is the only thing that can save her?
"I understand the situation now, Kirei. Let me thank you."
She bows without showing much gratitude and confronts the priest.
"But isn't this too sudden? The crest worm wasn't implanted in her yesterday. So why did she suddenly reach her limit?"
"Why do you ask that now?
Matou Sakura's body was tampered with many years ago. The changes were so extensive that even her hair and eye colors no longer reflect her heritage. This did not start recently."
"Well, it seems it was never intended to kill her as it's doing now.
It seems Matou Zouken did not intend to use Matou Sakura in this war. She is not adjusted to fighting. I would assume she was treated that way because unexpected conditions were met."
"Unexpected conditions, huh? I don't know what those are, but that means Sakura suddenly won Zouken's confidence?"
"Probably. I would assume some change occurred within her that Zouken did not expect.
But that is only one factor. There are other reasons for her drastic change.
She is now constantly using magical energy to maintain her Servant. If she cannot spare any for her crest worm, what will the starving worm do?"
" I see. Regardless of the conditions, it'll drain her body to acquire the magical energy it's not getting
But she wouldn't lose magical energy if she doesn't use Rider, so"
"Yes, she should be able to live as before, for a while.
But I don't think the old man will let Matou Sakura do as she wishes."
" Right. He wouldn't plant a creature like that in her otherwise.
The worm will kill her if she doesn't fight,
and her body will also be destroyed if she fights and uses up magical energy.
No, not only that, but Zouken can do anything he wants with Sakura because he's the one who planted the worm in her."
"He can do anything he wants with Sakura ?"
"Yes. Zouken is holding Sakura's life in his hands. So defeating Zouken is the only way to save Sakura.
You have to defeat Sakura before you can defeat Zouken. She's his puppet. I'm sure he would use her as his shield if you corner him."
"Exactly. Matou Sakura is a convenient tool for Zouken. He will control Matou Sakura as he instigated Matou Shinji.
In fact, she is superior as a Master. She is urged on by her worm, and she will run even wilder than Matou Shinji, just like Zouken wants."
" But I will be a bit irritated if everything goes his way.
I will perform the surgery on Matou Sakura. I have purified her poison and anesthetized her. The healing and the extraction of the crest worm will be performed next."
"Huh ? Hey, Kirei "
"It is hopeless, but I will do my best. I cannot simply allow Matou Sakura to die. And what sort of priest would I be if all I could do was rely on the Holy Grail?"
Tohsaka's surprise is natural.
His words are surprising even to me, and I've only known him for a short while.
This isn't a guess, but a conviction.
Kotomine is seriously trying to save Sakura.
It might just be because he's a priest, but this is too much even for that.
" What's going on? This is the first time I've seen you support someone like this."
"It's not just a whim. It is simply too wasteful to let her die.
Well, I suppose it is better for the two of you to have another Master eliminated."
The priest's response is plain.
Tohsaka glares at the priest
"I'll leave her to you. I'm going to come back when the surgery should be over."
And leaves the church with those words.
Tohsaka leaves, and the church regains its silence.
The priest silently sees Tohsaka off, and I can't even stand up because I can't think of anything.
"What are you doing? You are of no use to me here. I want no distractions. Go kill some time until the surgery ends."
"I won't bother you. I trust you when it comes to surgeries. You helped that woman before too."
"Hah. The scale of this surgery is much greater than before.
Matou Sakura stopped herself by shooting herself. She is suffering from autointoxication probably because she harmed you. To put it simply, she killed her own mind to stop herself since she was controlled by Zouken."
"The procedure I'm about to perform is like starting a heart that has stopped. Well, the crest worm has kept her body alive. If all I have to do is recover her mind, it should succeed."
"But your presence here is a liability. If you come barging in when you hear her scream, I will certainly fail. In any case, you bear no responsibility for her sufferings. You and Matou Sakura are strangers now."
"I am telling you not to have any sympathy for her.
There is nothing you can do. Leave, like Rin has done."
"Why? Can't I pray for her sake here if I can't do anything?"
"That is a crime. You have no right to share her pain.
Do you not understand? I am telling you the surgery will fail if you are here. You are only a harmful enemy to Sakura right now."
I can't finish my sentence.
His words are heavy, and they are pointing out the crimes I didn't know I had committed.
"Matou Sakura feels some kind of guilt towards you. If you are near her, she may refuse to wake up."
" Guilt towards me ?"
"Yes. It is more like repentance than guilt.
She is a victim of sexual abuse. It is easy to imagine the kind of training Matou Zouken imposed on her.
To state the fact, Matou Sakura is not a pure virgin, but a woman who knows men."
I'm not surprised.
I know this feeling.
It's just like when I found out Sakura was a Master.
I silently accepted the truth when I saw the Command Spell on her hand.
"The girl tried to hide that fact from you, but always sought salvation.
I don't know how long the abuse called inheritance of magic lasted."
"Butwhat do you honestly think you can do now, when you stood by her side, completely oblivious, for all that time?
That's what I mean by you not having the right to pray here. But if you still care for Matou Sakura, leave. That's all you can do for now."
I get up.
? It's not that he's talked me into it.
It's just thatwhat he's saying is correct.
I shouldn't be here if I really care for Sakura.
I shouldn't be allowed to care for Sakura when I can't think at all.
I turn my back to the priest and head for the door.
"Oh. I do not think I even need to mention this, but "
I don't have the composure to turn around.
I stop, still facing the exit.
"That incident you mentioned earlier. A woman was attacked when Matou Shinji still controlled Rider. She was saved thanks to you, but she would have died under normal circumstances."
Somehow, I understand why he's bringing this up now.
"That's right. I need not mention who is at fault here. When Servants attack people, the responsibility lies on the Master."
"Are you saying Sakura's at fault?"
"Of course not. I am only talking about the responsibility. I am not talking about good and evil. In reality, that woman is alive because of you."
If I made a wrong decision back then, Rider would've killed that woman.
"Yes, this is about the future.
If Matou Sakura recovers, it will be the same in the end.
The same thing is bound to happen again even if she regains her consciousness.
Which one will you protect then?"
We don't know when Sakura might do the same thing.
I have nothing to say to him.
I quickly make my way to the exit as if to run away from his words.
I grit my teeth and walk on.
His words are an ultimatum.
"You said you would be a superhero.
Then make your decision.
Will you, or will you not cast aside your own desires like Emiya Kiritsuguto protect your ideal and your belief."