Part 339: Noble fool / Training start / Sisters (V)Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
I muster all my resolve.
"I'll go with your plan. I need to take this cloth off, right?"
And I manage to nod.
" I see. So it's as I expected."
"What is it, Tohsaka? Is my answer not good enough?"
"No. I just reaffirmed that threatening you is meaningless.
I didn't think you'd be okay with taking the Shroud off, but your answer is satisfactory."
Tohsaka looks away, clearly displeased.
"Hey, you're acting strange, Tohsaka. It took a lot of effort to agree to that, and now it feels like I'm at fault here."
Your response was exactly what I wanted, but actually hearing it made me mad."
"But Shirou. I've already said this, but I won't let you use Archer's arm. That means never taking the Shroud off.
I'm not one to talk after testing your determination like that, but don't ever say you'll take the Shroud off.
If you do, there'll be no turning back."
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
I grasp my left arm that's covered by the red cloth.
I don't want to take this off either.
" Then what about imitating Archer's magic?
I won't be able to draw out his magic unless I take this off, right?"
"Right. So I'm going to have you loosen the Shroud a bit. That won't break the seal, and the reaction from the arm should be small, right?"
" Yeah. Then what you meant earlier by taking off the cloth is "
But that's still a big deal, so I tested your determination."
"You would have to do this eventually, anyway.
You don't want to keep that on forever, right? You won't be able to manage it in the future unless you can at least put it back on. Like taking a bath or if it comes undone somehow."
"Right? So you should at least get used to what happens when you loosen it.
The crest from yesterday seems to have familiarized itself with your body, and your magical resistance has increased. Ilya will protect your consciousness, so I think you'll be able to keep it unbound for about five minutes."
"Ilya ? So you want us to suppress Archer's arm together?"
I look at Ilya, who has been quiet all this time.
"No. I'm only going to protect your mind, so it's your role to endure the flowback from Archer.
You have to retrieve his experience, so you need to bear with it, not block it off."
If Ilya cuts off the flow of magical energy from Archer, I won't be able to learn his techniques.
Even if it's poison for me, I have to taste it to understand its content.
" All right. So I'm to loosen the cloth and bear the flowback from the arm, right?"
"Yes. Make sure to close your eyes and concentrate within yourself.
It's just like opening the Magic Circuit, so it should be easy, right?
Your body just needs to experience Archer's projection technique. Don't worry about trying to understand it."
I'll leave the rest to you, Ilya. Please train Shirou while I'm gone."
Tohsaka suddenly gets up and leaves without hurry.
" ? What's up with her?"
"I don't know. I think she forgot something.
But you have things to do yourself, Shirou.
I'm against something stupid like loosening the Shroud, but I'll help since you promised her. Let's finish this before she gets back."
Ilya comes behind me and lays her cold hand on my back.
"Just close your eyes and meditate.
I'll protect your mind and loosen the Shroud once the Magic Circuit opens up.
I'll time it, so you just have to bear the flowback of magical energy. Be sure to make desperate efforts, or the reaction will definitely swallow you."
Ilya talks without emotion.
I nod back and close my eyes.
"I'm going to give you a needless warning.
Rin only knows the pain of having a heroic spirit's arm transplanted onto you. She doesn't know what this is going to cause. She has no idea what this is going to do to you.
But it can't be helped.
I'm the only one in the world who knows about the relationship between you and Archer."
Music: Wandering Shadow
Matou Sakura looks down uneasily.
There are no words between them.
Rin mercilessly condemns the outsider, Sakura,
who is at a loss for words, feeling beholden and inferior.
"Sakura. If you're here because you're worried about Emiya-kun, go back. I'll pretend I didn't see you."
Sakura trembles a bit.
Her older sister is bitter.
She corners Sakura, even when she knows of her uneasiness.
"No, Nee-san. I just "
Pushing her resolve, Sakura looks at her ideal, her older sister.
"You don't need to explain. I'm telling you to go back to your room.
I'm not going to let you in the dojo, no matter what you tell me."
Rin cuts off the girl's utmost resistance.
"Why can't I go in?"
"Do I really need to spell it out? You're our enemy when we're acting as Masters.
Look, Sakura. Even if you and Rider are just staying in the house without fighting, it doesn't change the fact that you're under Zouken's control. There's no way we can train in front of such a person."
Faced with the cold words, Sakura can only stand there.
Tohsaka Rin is serious.
Unlike Shirou, her sister is worrying about when she might fall under Zouken's sway and become their enemy.
Rin probably assumes they will end up as enemies.
She bites her lip.
But she can't talk back.
As Rin says, Sakura can fall into Zouken's hands at any time.
Her body is getting worse every day, and her memory is becoming more vague.
Her only respite came when she slept, but now she's begun having nightmares.
It'll be no surprise if she goes crazy at any time.
"That's right. Walking around when you have no magical energy only bothers us.
You don't know when you might collapse. Well, I'm sure you won't collapse right now since you've settled down, but Emiya-kun will worry if you push yourself.
He'd be even more cornered if that happens. That's not what you want, right?"
Rin is absolutely right.
Sakura drops her gaze further, biting her lip helplessly.
"H-Hold on, Nee-san !"
"What? You still have something to say?"
"Yes. I understand your point. I'll go back to my room.
But please tell me. What are you going to have Senpai do?
You know he can't fight anymore, right?
But you're seeing him, and what more are you going to make him do !?"
"I'm teaching him magic. We can't beat Saber, Zouken, or the black shadow as we are right now.
So I'm going to have Shirou draw magic from Archer's arm. That arm is filled with his experience, and that experience will flow continuously into Shirou if we loosen the Shroud, forcing Shirou to level up."
As a magus of the Matou, Sakura knows that this is a reckless plan.
What her sister intends to do is just torture.
It's like pouring a hundred units of fuel into a container called Emiya Shirou that can only hold ten.
Even if ten thousand units are poured, the excess will overflow, and the container will only hold ten.
But that will only be painful.
Emiya Shirou will gain from less than a tenth of the agony he goes through.
And most of alla person with a normal mind will never be able to endure it.
If you set a mud puppet against a tidal wave, the puppet will be washed away.
That's what loosening the Shroud means
"That's absurd! Senpai's body won't last if you do such a thing !
No, not only that! Senpai trusts you, Nee-san. That's why he's accepting your reckless plan.
I'm sure he'll take that cloth off in the end if you tell him !"
Sakura does not look down.
She stares straight at her sister.
" You're right. But, Sakura. He would take the Shroud off himself even if I don't tell him to. I realized it when I was talking to him earlier.
Honestly. In the end, he'll take it off like it's nothing, no matter how strongly I warn him."
Tohsaka replies in a powerless voice.
"Yes. I know that, so I had to suggest a plan that wouldn't make him take it off.
If he knows we can manage without having him take the Shroud off, he won't do it unless it's a last resort. So my role is to make him create a weapon within set limitations.
I'll have him rest after that. I'll even confine him, keeping him out of combat until the Holy Grail War is over."
"Nee-san. I understand that you're concerned for Senpai's safety.
But that's it. If you find out that you cannot beat Grandfather with the current method, you will end up using him.
You're a magus of Tohsaka. You will use Senpai as a tool to win to protect the law of magi."
They are not questions, but statements of fact.
The Tohsaka heir closes her eyes and
"Yes. If our current method fails, and if Zouken and the shadow continue their rampageI'll have Shirou use Archer's arm. It's only natural if his life is the only thing at stake."
She makes a declaration with her head held high.
" That's selfish of you. Senpai never wanted the Holy Grail. He became a Master by chance. So it's wrong to force him to keep fighting."
"Hmph. It seems you misunderstand, Sakura."
"Look. I'm not forcing him, and even if that's true, Shirou has no right to object. His life was saved because I gave him my Archer's arm. But he hasn't tried to cut it off yet.
That means his life is mine now.
He's my Archer as long as he doesn't get rid of his arm."
"Do you get it? Shirou is my familiar until this war ends.
There's no reason for you to butt in. As long as he wants to fight, I'm going to lend him my powers, and I'm going to borrow his power."
She cannot say anything.
The girl cannot say anything back to her sister, who is full of intimidating confidence.
"Is that all? Then go back to your room. Didn't I tell you you're just being a distraction?"
Tohsaka Rin turns around and heads to the dojo.
The girl watches it as if it's a distant scene.