Part 329: Bad news / Future plansMusic: In the Sunlight
"Yeah, I'm done skimming the foam. Let's cook it once we've cut those into four pieces."
"Okay. What are you doing with the curry powder, Senpai?"
"I'm making the sauce. We'll put it on the sardines. Even if Ilya doesn't like fish, she should be able to eat it if it's curry flavored, right?"
"I see, you're smart, Senpai! Then I'll cut the fish, so please check the simmering."
"Huh? No, I can cut the sardine without the knife, so you don't have to. I'll ask for your help when I get to the center bone, so can you make simmered pumpkin with broth and soy sauce? I think we should have at least one sweet dish."
"Okay. Oh, you look like a sushi chef when you're cutting the fish one-handed like that, Senpai."
There's nothing wrong with this conversation, so why does it sound so dirty?!
Sakura goes to the refrigerator.
Sakura must be feeling better after a good night's sleep, because she's in a good mood this morning.
And standing in the kitchen with her is fun for me too.
Sakura is thoughtful and is attentive to my needs, preparing things ahead of time.
It feels really good to cook with someone like that.
"Hm? Oh, I was spaced out. We should hurry. It's almost seven o'clock."
I sigh so she can't see and continue cutting the sardine.
Sardine is soft, so it's better to use fingers than a knife. It's something even I, one with my left arm not moving, can manage to cook.
"But when did you learn such a technique? It's not normal to do it with just your right hand."
"It's not a technique. This is about timing and determination. I'm sure you can do it too if you try."
"Oh, is that so?"
"Yeah. Techniques are things like cutting apart a cow with a kitchen knife or making an ice sculpture.
Here, take care of the rest. We'll cook it after you're done, so put it in the bowl."
I move away from the cutting board and walk to the gas burner.
I put the frying pan over the fire and pour some oil onto it.
My body knows how to do this, so I do it absentmindedly.
"Um, Senpai ?"
I vaguely reply.
" This might be none of my concern, but did something happen between you and Ilya-san?"
My hand stops.
But it's only for an instant.
I'm sure Sakura didn't see my disturbance.
"Yeah. We talked before I came to the kitchen. Ilya has a lot going on. I really don't know how to answer her."
" Is that a problem as a Master?
Does Ilya-san still want to fight?"
"No. I don't feel a will to fight from her. No, I don't think she had such a thing from the start. I think she tried to obtain the Holy Grail as the Master of Einzbern, but Ilya had another goal.
Emiya Kiritsugu, the one she wanted to meet, died five years ago.
Thenwhat can I do and what should I do in his place?
"Hey, Sakura. Is it all right if Ilya stays here if she doesn't want to go back to her country?"
"Ohum. This is your house, Senpai. My opinion doesn't really matter."
"What are you saying? This is your house. I can't decide on something important like having Ilya stay without consulting my partner."
"II'm your partner !?"
"Yeah. Who else would it be?"
Neither Ilya nor Tohsaka can help me with cooking this perfectly.
"Sakura, the frying pan's ready."
I take the sardine Sakura prepared.
Sakura hands me the sardine with an airy motion.
What is it all of a sudden?
Did she get a fever again ?
"Yeah, it'll be great if you can. Ilya said she doesn't hate you, so you should be able to get along with her if you talk with her."
Yeah, I'll be really happy if that happens.
After the Holy Grail War is over, Sakura and Ilya will be here making breakfast without worry.
I'll pay any price for such a wish to come true
Something amazing just passed by.
" Ugh. If you saw it too, that means it wasn't just my imagination."
We timidly look into the living room.
Doesn't someone who's not a morning person, um, look cuter?
"Geez. I usually don't eat in the morning."
Tohsaka complains as she eats the omelet.
Then, for some reason, she silently starts concentrating on eating.
Breakfast continues quietly.
The only loud thing is the TV Tohsaka turned on, offfering many topics of information.
A familiar scene is on TV.
I can't be mistaken.
The TV is showing a baffling story about a park in Shinto.
" A missing person in central park? A lot of blood around the area ?"
It's a pretty vivid incident.
An old man was jogging in the park, found a trace of blood, and reported it to the police.
A policeman came to the scene and found what appeared to be one person's worth of blood and pieces of the apparent victims.
But it seems the pieces are just scraps of flesh, and that they don't even weigh fifty kilograms when gathered together.
" The police are trying to figure out the four victims' identities wait, why four people? There was only enough blood for one, right?"
I'm sure there were only leftovers, but that must have been enough to figure it out."
By 'leftovers' do you mean this is a Servant'sZouken's doing?"
"Who knows? I can't tell if Zouken had a hand in this. But I'm sure that shadow did this. See the corner of the screen? The grass has turned black. It's exactly like when the shadow appeared in the forest."
Tohsaka states simply.
But I'm not convinced for two reasons.
"Why? No matter what that shadow may be, it hasn't done anything like this before. It has sucked up magical energy from people, but it never, um "
Directly killed people like this.
" You're right. The only reason I can think of is that there aren't any enemies now. There aren't any Masters now that can defeat them straight-on. So that means they can do whatever they want without worrying about whose attention they may get, right?"
"Does that mean they're being indiscriminate?"
" I don't know. I'm the one that said it, but it doesn't seem like it. Even if Zouken and that shadow are related, I'm sure this was an unforeseen accident.
I'll bet my omelet that Zouken is surprised to hear this news as well."
Her hawk-like eyes are looking at the only untouched omelet on the table, mine.
" Hm. Why do you think it's an unforeseen accident?"
"It's not cleaned up. With the blood aside, Zouken's not someone that would leave pieces of the dead body behind. In other words, Zouken was not at the scene, and that shadow was the only thing that ate there."
"I see. Then one more thing. How do they know there were four victims? There was only one person's worth of blood, and there was only one person's worth of flesh."
"It's the shape, not the weight. I'm sure there was four of something people only have one of. That way, you'd know how many victims there are without any identification.
See. If there were four left hands in a pool of blood, anyone would know how many victims there were."
Tohsaka states simply.
I imagine the scene and my appetite quickly goes away.
"Shirou. We have to do some things, so come with me."
Music: Gentle Everyday
Tohsaka takes me to the dojo.
I had no reason to refuse and I also wanted to talk to Tohsaka, so it was a timely offer.
It was, but
"Hey. I only wanted Shirou. Why are you all following him?"
Tohsaka is unhappy at the unexpected guests.
"Hey now. I made a pact with Shirou, so I won't attack him. You know that, so why did you follow us, Sakura?"
"B-Because it's my role to protect Senpai."
" You declare, huh?
Then how about you? You should know what I'm going to do. Did you come to heckle me?"
I know what you want to do, but I don't know how you're going to do it. I came to make sure you don't do anything strange to Shirou."
" Oh well. I'm going to tamper with his body for his own good, so don't jump to conclusions and interfere, okay?
We don't have time to be taking things slow."
On second thought, maybe cooking doesn't sound so dirty.
She must have prepared it before breakfast, as Tohsaka's bag is at the dojo.
It's full of equipment like what I saw at her house, and it's easy to guess what'll happen, but
"Sorry. Can I say something beforehand?"
"What? Don't tell me now you don't want anything that hurts."
"Of course. Nobody wants anything that hurts.
Anyway, any normal person would run away after seeing these things with no explanation."
"I'm sorry I'm not explaining things to you. I know I'm not normal compared to you. You can go somewhere else if you have any complaints."
Tohsaka's sulking, unhappy about the three-on-one situation.
"No, I'm not complaining. I have a vague idea of what you might be doing. That's why I'm putting every trust in you. I'll trust you no matter what you tell me to do. I promised you last night, right?"
If you don't have any questions, then sit and be quiet."
"No, this isn't about that. I want to make sure what our future course of action is. We have to decide now what we should be doing."
What I just mentioned is a problem we all postponed last night.
What we will fight against, and what we will do.
We can't back out after we make our decision.
No, we already can't back out, so this is just a statement of our resolve.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"I'm not going to take part in battles. I'll fight if someone attacks me, but I don't intend to start a fight myself. I don't know what'll happen even if I win this Holy Grail War."
" I feel the same way as Ilya-san. I don't think I can beat Grandfather.
The match is pretty much decided, so I don't think Grandfather will come attack us if we stay quiet here "
Tohsaka doesn't say anything.
I don't know what she's thinking, but I want to believe she has the same opinion as me, since she's not agreeing with Ilya or Sakura.
Sakura stays here to defend against Zouken.
Rider is with Sakura, so she should be able to defend Sakura and Ilya if she concentrates on defense."
"Tohsaka and I will try to come up with a way to defeat Zouken.
We'll be attacked eventually even if we stay here, and we can't leave them be. We don't know if something like this morning's news is going to happen again."
Tohsaka doesn't interrupt.
It means she intended for the two of us to fight Zouken, no matter what her true opinion may be.
"I can't ignore Zouken, but I can't ignore the shadow either. Tohsaka and I will start patrolling the town tonight, so Sakura and Ilya are to stay here and keep watch."
I confirm the plan with everyone.
"W-What are you saying, Senpai !?"
"Sakura ? What? It's nothing ridiculous, right?
Tohsaka and I are the only ones who can fight, so we have to beat Zouken."
You can't use one of your arms anymore! Do you really know what that means !?"
" I don't get it. You're acting strange. Why are you going to fight even after what's happened to you?
You should know that things are out of your hands now because you actually took part in it. So why are you saying such a ridiculous thing?
I was relieved because I thought you wouldn't fight with one arm, so why"
Sakura is trembling.
She's hanging her head as she trembles at her words.
I don't know why she's trembling.
The only thing I can do is to answer her question.
"Sakura. I'm going to let you win. That's why I'm fighting.
Yes, I don't want to ignore Zouken and the shadow. But more than that, I want the Holy Grail. Nobody's making me do this. This is a selfish wish of mine."
It's a selfish wish I had ever since I decided to be Sakura's ally and not everyone else's.
" Is that for my sake?"
"Yes. It will be for your sake if we can remove the crest worm from your body."
" It's all right, Sakura. If there's no chance of victory, we'll make a chance, and we won't fight while we don't have any chance of victory.
There's still danger even if we have a chance, but there's always a risk, so I can't promise you I won't get hurt.
But I'll definitely come back. I told you I'd protect you, right? So I can't fulfill my promise unless I'm by your side."
"Sen pai "
Sakura looks down painfully.
It looks like she's apologizing.
Our course of action's already determined, so it does no good to whine.
Sakura and Ilya are to stay here. Shirou and I will patrol the town at night. We won't carelessly attack Zouken even if we find him. We'll chip away at their force only when we have a chance of victory.
That's our future course of action, right, Shirou?"
"Y-Yeah It'd be great if that's your decision."
"And, Sakura. Kirei couldn't completely extract your crest worm, but he suppressed its action. So it can't run wild unless they use a drug on you like Shinji did.
But at the same time, Zouken can't be the winner as long as you stay here in this house. He's going to come take you sooner or later, so refusing to fight is not an option. How can you say you won't do anything knowing that?"
"That may be true, butGrandfather shouldn't do anything rough if we don't do anything"
"Sakura! Stop being so submissive. Zouken isn't your grandfather or your master. Do you still think he's human after all the terrible things he's done to you!?"
" No. I've never thought he was human."
If Zouken attacks this place, you have to get away at any cost. The Holy Grail cannot be completed as long as Rider isn't defeated. You have a hope of being saved as long as Rider's alive."
Tohsaka's voice is firm.
Is it the dignity of the older sister?
Sakura nods and replies that she understands.