Part 347: Confrontation with ZoukenMusic: Footsteps of Destruction
And I don't really have a choice.
Even if it's a trap, I have to go see him and have him remove Sakura's crest worm.
" All right. Zouken wants to talk to me, huh?"
"A wise decision. Let us make haste. Even I cannot deceive Rider's eyes for too long. The magus will change his mind if someone else realizes we're having this conversation."
" Hah. So it's a secret meeting for my ears only, huh?"
There's no reply.
His work must be done now that I've agreed.
Before I know it, Assassin has vanished.
Music: Wandering Shadow
Zouken is the only one here.
I don't see Assassin or black Saber.
It seems he really does want to talk with me.
"Hm? Oh, you don't even want to exchange greetings with me? My, you must hate me."
I feel no hostility from Zouken.
In short, he's taking me lightly.
His composure is self-evident, confident in his ability to kill me at any time.
"Well. You must have something to talk about as well, since you've accepted my invitation. Sit down. It must not be something to discuss standing up."
"No way. Standing up is just fine for what we have to say."
I suppress the urge to jump at him and punch him, and glare at him as if it could kill him.
Unlike Zouken, I can't hide my anger.
I won't let my guard down against the guy who changed Sakura's body.
"Zouken. If this is a discussion, I only have one thing to say. Release Sakura right now."
That's the only business I have here.
I'll just fight if Zouken refuses.
I'll kill this monster before anything can happen, even if he calls for Assassin and Saber.
The old magus before me speaks in disappointed tones.
"She cannot be saved no matter what I do, as it has grown too much. Sakura is already functioning as a Holy Grail. She will die even if I remove the crest worm right now."
Holy Grail? Sakura is functioning as a Holy Grail?
Why is he talking about the Holy Grail ?
"Wait. What do you mean by Sakura being the Holy Grail? What did you do to her !?"
"I tampered with her to obtain the Holy Grail and make my wish come true.
It is all for Makiri's dearest wish, to put shape to the soul, the true immortality. That is why I embedded the Holy Grail into Sakura after the war ten years ago."
"Whatyou embedded the Holy Grail ?"
"Right. You should have heard how the Holy Grail War ended ten years ago.
Your father, Emiya Kiritsugu, destroyed the Holy Grail that was completed through the ritual we know as the Holy Grail War.
The war ended, the summoning ritual a failure once again.
Butit was not a total loss. The Holy Grail was completed, if only temporarily.
Then it would be a waste to leave the broken fragments as they were."
My head quickly cools down.
In short, he took his granddaughter Sakura and
"Yes. I embedded the Holy Grail within her. But I am no monster. I made sure she can function as a human. I knew it would be painful to have an inorganic substance in her, so I turned the shard of the Holy Grail into a living thing."
With that, her body became a container to receive the souls. It became a tool to become the gate when the ritual is completed.
It is just a copy of the Holy Grail the Einzbern family makes.
Well, I do not have as much skill as them, so I did about an eighth my own way."
All he did was pick up a piece of a finished product and implant it within Sakura !
" You bastard! You can't make a Holy Grail, so you used a human being to make an imitation of the Holy Grail !?"
"Experiment. It's just an experiment, heir to Emiya.
This experiment is merely a stepping stone to the next. My plan was to slowly change her to something like a Holy Grail over several decades.
It was supposed to be an experiment of Makiri's Holy Grail which lives as a human but still has the function to collect souls."
"Sakurais an experiment ?"
To give a daughter to the Matou family means giving us a foundation to achieve our goal. Tohsaka is well aware of that. We both have the same goals. We will both turn ourselves into monsters to achieve immortality."
You and Tohsaka's father used Sakura for something ridiculous like that !?"
"Of course. The Holy Grail War has always been a ritual dedicated to that end. That is the only reason we cooperated, and I am the only one who still lives.
To use the Matou successor to achieve our goal in the far future."
"But fate can be quite ironic.
Sakura was prepared to be an unadaptable Holy Grail, but she has shown surprising growth.
My, I have gotten old. I never expected Sakura to have that much talent. Not only does she still live in spite of taking in so many Servants, but she still retains her sense of being Matou Sakura.
She is a true Holy Grail, just like that of the Einzbern, which I thought was impossible to make myself."
I can't hold it anymore.
I'm not patient enough to keep listening to the monster's nonsense.
Forgetting the possibility of Assassin's intervention
I let my anger take over and dash at Zouken with a raised fist.
"It is a Holy Grail.
First of all, even the Einzbern, who create the Holy Grail, used a human as their Holy Grail for this war."
Zouken's smile stops me in my tracks.
" Using a human?"
My body wobbles back.
I hate myself for knowing who he's talking about, even though I don't want to understand.
Music: Wandering Shadow
"Right. Ilyasviel is also a Holy Grail.
But do not consider us as the same. The Einzberns are far worse. You can ask her yourself what kind of a Holy Grail they prepared."
My upraised arm falls.
Not only Sakura.
Even Ilya is the same, and regret takes over my body in place of anger.
Discuss the shadow ?
He must be talking about the black shadow that's attacking the people in this town.
" What are you saying? That thing is on your side.
So what do you need to talk about? Do you want us to beat it?"
I glower at Zouken, my voice thick with sarcasm.
"Kakaka, this simplifies matters!
Yes, I want you to do something about that shadow. That is why I need your powers, Emiya Shirou."
"Whatare you serious !? You guys are on the same side, right !?"
"On the same side ? Well, I have helped it, but it has never helped me.
I cannot even communicate with it.
I merely arranged its path so it would not run wild. I calmed it down every night to minimize the damage it dealt, but as of last night, I can no longer continue.
Did I not tell you? I cannot manage it anymore."
My heart thumps loudly.
'I cannot manage it anymore.'
Who is that directed to?
In short, that is the content of the Holy Grail.
People say the Holy Grail is an omnipotent pot, but the Holy Grail we aim for is not a pot. The Holy Grail is only a means.
Einzbern, Makiri, and Tohsaka.
What the three families aim for is to open a gate using the complete Holy Grail.
You can think of the complete Holy Grail as a gate to connect this world to a world where every wish comes true."
" Hold on. Then the Holy Grail is "
"Yes. The goal of every magus is to reach the origin.
But I am not interested in such a thing. The Einzberns only thought for the completion of the Holy Grail. Tohsaka is the only family of magi that is still aiming for the origin."
The Holy Grail is a gate that connects to the wish machine. The shadow is something that has leaked from the other side.
The real Holy GrailIlyasviel would not have done such a thing. That shadow is a mistake made by the imitated Holy Grail."
"Well, I do not like to talk about the shame of my family, but it seems I did not discipline her well enough.
She matured as a Holy Grail, but it would appear she cannot shut the gate properly. I do not mind if she dies from her own carelessness, but I cannot have her involve other people.
What a bother the Holy Grail I made might kill everyone in this town."
Matou Zouken shakes his head,
as if it's someone else's problem.
I should punch him for saying that.
But his words turn my emotions to ice.
"Then that black shadow is "
"You should already know. That thing is Sakura's shadow. You should recognize the similarities between them."
Matou Sakura herself?
I fight off the dizziness.
I accept the connection I've already known but denied.
No matter what that black shadow may be
I have to accept that the crime is Sakura's as well
That thing is the Holy Grail's shadow that appears through Sakura. It originally should not have form, but when it passed through the gate called Sakura, it took Sakura's form and obtained a body.
The Holy Grail borrowed Sakura's sealed id to come into this world."
"It was beyond my expectations to be honest. I denied it since it was impossible, but I have to accept it now that it is getting stronger by the day.
That thing is a Holy Grail with a will. That is why it keeps consuming human souls to complete itself.
There is only one way to stop it. If the Holy Grail is born from Sakura's unconsciousness, you merely need to stop Sakura."
"I tried to persuade Sakura, but the shadow does not want me going near her.
It does not have a will of its own, but that shadow is Sakura herself. It hates whoever she hates.
I cannot even go near Sakura anymore."
" What? Then you can't get close to Sakura?"
"No. You people think Sakura is under my control, but that is all in the past. She is already yours. I cannot control her, as I have been cut off from her."
It's something I can be happy about.
At the very least, Zouken can't do anything to Sakura.
Then if we can do something about the crest worm
"Then, Sakura's still in pain, because "
"That's her own problem. I have never used the crest worm. She is breaking down because she is a Holy Grail and the powers of the Holy Grail are flowing into her.
Think about it. There is a great swirl of magical energy that can grant any wish. Her human body must receive what flows from that source. There is no way Sakura's weak mind can endure the strong onflow."
"Whathen Sakura will "
"Unable to bear the strain of being a Holy Grail, she will explode.
No, if Sakura's consciousness empties, the Holy Grail should appear. She might be swallowed by her own shadow."
"Do you understand? It is meaningless to kill me here.
The Holy Grail War ends once you defeat me. At that point, all that remains is for the Holy Grail to activate. Sakura's mind will be obliterated once that happens.
If you want to save her, endure for the duration of the Holy Grail War. The timing to open the gate, the completion of the Great Holy Grail, does not last long.
It has already been ten days since the war began. Judging from the past wars, this war should end in about four more days."
"Four days. Are you saying Sakura will survive if four days pass?"
"Who knows? That is for you to determine. How was she this morning? Do you think she will last four more days?"
"! She will. Of course she'll make it."
But the same cannot be said for the other people. How many disappeared last night? How many will disappear tonight?
Nohow many days do you think it will take for the whole town to be consumed?"
I can't really hear his question.
Does this man sound happy or sad?
My head is shaking so much that I can't tell.
Defeating Zouken won't solve the problem.
Sakura won't last until the Holy Grail War ends.
We can't beat that black shadow.
The people in town will continue to die as long as the Holy Grail War continues.
" Then how "
Can I save Sakura?
"It's simple. You just need to kill Sakura."
Zouken states the obvious.
"I am correct, am I not? She cannot survive even if you let her live, and the black shadow will attack people again tonight. Kill her right now to prevent that."
I feel dizzy.
"That is what I wish to discuss. I wanted to inform you of the current situation. I wanted to tell you that you are protecting the greatest disaster."
I feel like vomiting.
I walk down the distorted hallway, unable to give a reply.
I don't feel anything even when I walk or lean against the wall.
It feels like I'm in a twisted nightmare without an exit.
"But I will thank you in my granddaughter's place.
She has never done anything for herself. She never cursed herself for being thrown away by her father. She did not wish to be almighty like her older sister. She was a mere puppet."
I stumble towards my house, where Sakura is waiting.
I can't leave my room empty forever.
No matter what the reason may be, I secretly met with Zouken.
It's not good to let Tohsaka or Sakura know about it.
So I have to go home before they notice.
Go home and
I have to make a decision.
The contents of my stomach come up to my throat.
I chose to ally with Sakura.
I swore to protect her no matter what.
I chose to be with Sakura instead of becoming a superhero.
But that means
Allowing another disaster to occur, taking hundreds of lives.
If you, the only one to survive that tragedy, are to allow the tragedy
You will be rejected by everything that has supported you until now.
No matter the end.
Your crime will never be forgiven.
'If you deny what you have been until now to protect one person '
'Will you be on my side no matter what?'