Part 346: Distant twilight (II) / Misery / Assassin Intrusion
They're busy trying to reproduce the gem sword.
I can only help after they make a replica similar to the original.
My job for now is to draw out as much of Archer's experience as I can.
"I am the bone of my sword, huh?"
Archer's original spell, which flowed into me along with the pain.
If I use this strangely familiar incantation to look within myself, my rate of success greatly increases.
Projection now succeeds half the time.
I'm copying Archer to make a copy of something.
"But I can only create a fake."
Projection is reproducing something identical to the original.
Emiya Shirou can only create an inferior imagination.
The only way to create a phantasm is with the arm's help.
It's not that poison will come into me once I use it.
A bomb will be switched on once I use it.
A sure end will come once I use it.
An image of a firing hammer.
There's a gun in my brain.
The muzzle is pointed outward, but the trigger is still there.
This image must be the time bomb Kotomine spoke of.
"But if I can take the gun out of my head, the switch won't go off even if I use it."
No, the switch itself will be outside my body.
That's the best solution.
But of course, I have no idea how to do that.
"Oh yeah, the news."
I turn the TV on.
I have to know what happened yesterday, so I watch the news.
It's easy to find the right channel.
They're all talking about that incident.
I memorize each missing person's name as it appears.
One by one.
I engrave the strangers' names in my mind.
And I replace the names with people I know.
If I cannot protect it from the crime
It will be painless salvation to stop it before it commits any more crime
The TV switches off.
The news that has been informing me of the incident is
"Don't be stupid.
We're not decent enough people to mourn over what's already done."
Mercilessly cut off by Tohsaka.
Music: Tender Scenery
"Here, I brewed some tea, so drink up. I have nothing to do because Ilya wants to be alone."
Sorry, Rin, she's just not into girl talk. Maybe when she's older.
Tohsaka places the teacup on the table.
Her reasoning doesn't sound right.
So I don't have to do what she tells me to, but
"I'll drink the tea."
"Yeah. But it's so hot that it'll burn your tongue."
"I see. That's even better. Thanks, Tohsaka."
" Heh. I just wanted to get myself together. You just happened to be here, okay?"
If this is how she wants to show her concern for me, I'll just have to accept it.
I don't feel nervous for some reason.
I rather feel relaxed.
This is purely speculation, but
Could Tohsaka be one of those girls that soothes the atmosphere?
"W-Why are you smiling all of a sudden? Tell me if you want to say something."
"Oh, I was thinking to myself. We've never sat around doing nothing like this, right?
Whenever we're together, we talk about the Holy Grail War. So I thought we had a pretty savage relationship."
"I-I can't help it. That's how it all started! Or what? Do you want me to talk about what might come up on the finals or what stores I like to go to?"
"Huh? I guess it's fine as is. I think this dangerous relationship is suited for us."
Rin's just not Rin if she isn't threatening to kill you.
But we were so relaxed that it felt weird and funny.
"Well, you're right. That's how it all started.
We started talking with each other after we became Masters, and I wouldn't have gotten to know you unless I became a Master."
I can fight alongside the girl I've admired.
Music: Madder Red Town
"That's not entirely true. I don't know about you, but I've known you for quite a while."
Tohsaka blushes, saying something I can't ignore.
"Y-You knew me?"
Tohsaka nods with embarrassment.
I knew about you, but you didn't know about me.
You're one of my traumas."
I don't like that.
I know it can't be helped to hurt someone when you don't know about it.
But it's not good for my mental health to know that I've hurt Tohsaka, who likes to strike back three or four times as hard!
"I'm the one who wants to ask that.
Fine, this is a good opportunity, so let me grumble a bit.
It happened around this time four years ago. I don't know why, but you were there after school, doing running high jumps until the sun set, right?"
I'm taken aback by the unexpected question.
It's not the question itself.
What surprised me is that Sakura was talking about the exact same thing.
"Yeah. So what?"
"I was watching that. I was right by the school entrance. I was an idiot watching another idiot who kept trying to jump a height he couldn't clear."
That can't be.
Sakura was the one watching me, and first of all
"I-It was just a coincidence, okay? I went to your school because of a matter related to the Student Council. I was in a different school, let alone class."
"Yeah. I heard that you went to the same school as Issei."
"Yeah, we've known each other since then. I was the vice-president and he was the president. After four years spent fighting, we found out that we can't get along."
Sounds more like marriage than school politics.
" I see. So it was a long relationship."
I finally understand now.
I knew Issei's attitude towards Tohsaka was not normal.
Well, the mystery is unraveled actually, it seems even more tangled now.
"Anyway, I just happened to see you keep trying to jump over a height you couldn't.
That's all. That's when I first saw you, and I found out later that Sakura came to this house. I didn't know your name until then, and I forgot about your face."
Well, now I know how she knew me.
"Um, is that something traumatic?"
"Humph. It's revenge after four years.
Sakura joined the archery club a year ago, right? So I went and watched when I got the chance. And I happened to see someone who wasn't a club member shooting arrows.
I knew right away that you were the idiot from that time."
I want to say something about what she thought about me, but I stay quiet.
" And I was shocked at that time. There was this stranger who went to a different school that I'd considered stupid all this time, but I remembered him even after three years.
And I finally realized that you've been giving me damage all this time.
I found out I was jealous of this guy that kept on running like an idiot."
"Why? He was stupid, right? That's not someone you should be jealous of."
"Yeah. I probably wasn't jealous of him, but I felt Iike I'd lost. It would've been fine if he'd had hope of clearing that bar. I would've just gone home if that were the case."
" But even he knew it was impossible.
He knew nothing would change that, but he kept trying. It's as if he believed the effort was what mattered."
I've always been like that. I determine whether or not something is possible. If I know it's impossible for me, I quickly give up. I don't try what I can't do, and I never regret it or think I'm powerless because of it.
I'm cold like that. I'm a terrible person. Kirei called it machine-like instead of cruel."
But Tohsaka isn't belittling herself.
She's proud of how she is.
"But I do sometimes think how pure it'd be to just keep trying without a thought for whether it's possible."
" Well, as a child, it's shocking to see someone that's completely the opposite of you, right?
That's why it was traumatic. That guy who foolishly kept running was "
Tohsaka gets up, as if saying the break's over.
"I'm going back to my room. I'll be creating the framework with Ilya in the afternoon, so you go watch Sakura."
Shirou likes to watch?
She puts her cup in the sink and heads to the hallway.
"Hey. How was Sakura?"
She stops and asks, as if she's just remembered.
"She seemed well. She still has a fever, but it's better than the last time she collapsed.
Sakura is calm as well. She pushed herself to do things around the house, but she's being obedient and resting today.
That being the case, I'm sure she'll be better in no time."
"Of course she's staying still.
She can't get up by herself now."
She can't get up by herself now ?
"Why? She should have enough magical energy. Then shouldn't she have enough physical energy as well?"
"Yes, she has more than enough magical and physical energy. But it's terrible inside.
I don't know what happened last night, but she definitely died once. That's the only sound explanation for why the muscles in her limbs are so badly damaged."
" No way. She didn't have any external wounds."
" It's just that it's cleanly connected on the outside.
I don't know if the crest worm ripped her apart, or if someone else tore her limbs. If something really did tear her body apart, the pain would have destroyed her sanity.
Let me ask. Did she recognize you?"
" Sakura didn't recognize you?"
"She did. She knew me, and she called me Nee-san.
But she wasn't looking at me, but was looking at the Tohsaka Rin she imagined.
Yeah, I really wanted to kill her when she said things like 'nice to meet you' and 'I wanted to meet you sooner.'"
Tohsaka looks away as her words turn cold.
Wanted to kill?
Tohsaka felt murderous intent against Sakura?
"In short, I can't do it.
I can't protect Sakura until the very end like you, and I don't intend to either."
"I told you, right? I don't do impossible things.
As long as I'm Tohsaka Rin, I'll kill Sakura the moment I determine that it's not possible to let her go on. Well, I don't need to say it again because that was our deal all along, but I thought I'd remind you."
"You don't need to say anything. I know how you feel, and even if you say something, it won't accomplish anything.
We're allies while we fight against Zouken, but we're enemies when it comes to Sakura. If you don't like it, we have to defeat Zouken as quickly as possible.
But Shirou. What will you do if Zouken and the shadow are two separate enemies?"
I shut my mouth.
Tohsaka's question is so sharp that it makes me dizzy.
She goes back to her room, leaving me alone in the living room.
She doesn't think about why she can hear the conversation.
But she doesn't want to hear them.
She wants to cover her ears if her arms would move, and she wants to go stop them if her legs would move.
"I was watching that. I was right by the school entrance. I was an idiot watching another idiot who kept trying to jump a height he couldn't clear."
She bites her lip.
She scratches the sheets with her fingers.
A past event, spoken of lightly.
The event that happened four years ago.
Her older sister speaks of it as if it's only her memory.
Like she's the only one who knows about it.
She's immersed in her beautiful memory, never even realizing that another girl was there.
"Stop. Stop. Please don't "
"Don't take away my memory."
She strains her voice and makes a plea that none can hear.
The older sister's monologue continues.
It goes on without her, just as she feared.
The only thing.
The only thing she had an edge on over her older sister is brought down to mere recollections.
Knowing this instinctively, she covers her ears, but the voices do not get any quieter.
Her sister's voice resounds directly into her brain.
She cannot get away, even if she covers her ears or eyes.
"Shirou. I'll kill her when the time comes. That's the best choice for both of us.
You think about it too."
Her sister coldly says the words she does not want to hear
to the last person she wants to hear them.
Her eyes are hot.
She realizes that she's crying.
Heartbroken and frustrated.
Her older sister is a coward.
Why is she pushing that onto the girl's Senpai now?
It's her responsibility as Tohsaka's magus, but she's now trying to involve someone else.
Her sister is trying to turn her only ally against her.
She hates her.
She knows it's selfish, but she still hates her.
She's making him abandon Matou Sakura.
She hates Tohsaka Rin for trying to induce him.
But it's strange.
This is what she wants, so why does she hate her so much?
Her sister is saying she should disappear.
The girl also knows she should disappear.
She doesn't know how it's come to this, but she does know that Emiya Shirou will be saved if she disappears.
"Because nothing is my fault."
Right, everyone else is at fault.
She did not wish for such a thing.
It turned out this way because nobody helped her.
Nobody helped her, so that must mean they affirm her.
They didn't object. That's the same as agreeing with her.
No one can punish her.
"I won't die. It won't end up as Nee-san plans."
In reality, she will not die.
Nobody can kill her.
Even if someone still wants to try, that's fine.
If she is to be killed, she will rather .
Not only her older sister.
She will be merciless, even to her Senpai.
If he will turn away from her in disgust, then she would rather
She would rather like she does in her nightmare
" No. I can't, Senpai."
They do not connect.
She cannot tell the difference between good and evil.
She cannot tell what's good.
She's about to lose her mind, not knowing who she is or how long she can stay sane.
Before she notices, the silver-haired girl is before her.
The same girl as her.
The white girl who is to become the container, who was not treated as a human being.
"Saber, Lancer, Caster, Berserker.
It would've been fine with just these four. Where did you consume such a soul, Sakura? I'm surprised it's already sufficient when Assassin and Rider are still left."
She doesn't understand.
She has heard from her grandfather that the girl is just like her, a container that collects the souls of the defeated Servants.
But she has not heard about any Servants being defeated other than the ones just mentioned
"It's fine. I won't ask, since it means I don't have to worry about the Archer in me being taken away.
But, Sakura. Do you know what's going to happen to you?"
Her head cools down.
Her mind, delirious with fever, regains "Matou Sakura" with those words.
"I don't know. What will happen to me?"
The white girl shuts her mouth.
She was meant to be a vessel from the beginning, unlike the fake, Matou Sakura.
"You'll die. You can't be saved, no matter what."
And the girl tells her about the destiny that awaits them both.
Music: Midnight Interval
I fall onto my futon, letting my face sink into the pillow.
There wasn't any postponement since that day.
I can't postpone the problem anymore.
I have to decide everything right now
Music: Footsteps of Destruction
A chill runs up my spine.
The scary thing is that I still can't tell where in the room it's coming from.
"Do not be alarmed. I did not come to take your life."
A whisper by my ear.
This fluent, yet alien, tone is of the Servant with the white skull.
" You didn't come to kill me? Then you just want to talk?"
I search for the presence behind me while I measure the distance to the hallway.
It'll take two full steps, three full seconds to dash out to the hallway into the yard.
Assassin can kill me four times over in that time.
Then my only way to live is to go along with him.
"Not I. It is the magus who wishes to speak with you."
" ? Magus? You mean Zouken?"
"Yes. He is waiting for you at the Matou household. He has no desire to fight. He will welcome you if you go there alone."
Assassin's words can be trusted to some degree.
If he wanted to kill me, he could've done it the instant he snuck into the room.