Part 351: A ray of hope / Foolish / Trash
The news is on.
It's becoming my daily routine to check the news in the morning.
She must mean the black shadow.
"Yeah. I guess it doesn't come out every day."
I answer, careful not to let my relief show.
"Yeah. I wouldn't be able to bear hundreds of people getting hurt two days in a row."
It's past seven.
Tohsaka and I are the only ones in the living room.
Sakura and Ilya are both sleeping.
I wanted Ilya to wake up and come, but Tohsaka told me that she's tired and I should let her rest.
"So you should rest too, in preparation for tonight."
Tohsaka says this out of the blue.
"It's the creation of our secret weapon. We'll complete the framework today, so we'll do the projection tonight.
We'll go settle our match with Zouken as soon as we succeed. We can't allow any more victims. No matter what that shadow may be, the Holy Grail War will end once we defeat Zouken. The mysterious shadow should disappear then."
"Tohsaka. You really think the shadow will disappear once the war is over?"
I don't know if it wants the Holy Grail, or if the Holy Grail summoned it. But either way, it's here because of the Holy Grail, so it'll disappear once the Holy Grail is gone.
In short, the shadow will disappear once the war ends.
That will happen when the time limit expires, when only one Master remains, orwhen the Holy Grail's vessel dies."
Music: Midnight Interval
Knew what that shadow is?
"I'm just guessing.
It might not disappear even if we defeat Zouken.
It might not disappear even when the war ends.
So I'm going to take the surest method. We can't rely on uncertainties like obtaining the Holy Grail ourselves. We have to take down both Zouken and the shadow with our own powers."
Tohsaka gets up.
I don't know why, but she takes the water jug and pajamas I prepared for Sakura.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"I'll go see how Sakura's doing. Her room is next to mine, so I'm in a better position to look after her."
"Heyno, I'll take care of Sakura."
"Don't be stupid. You didn't get any sleep last night, did you? Can't you tell that you'll be a liability in your condition?"
I didn't get any sleep?
"Don't be stupid. I slept last night."
"I don't believe this. You're so tired that you don't even notice it?
Geez, go look at the mirror if you think I'm lying. If you went to nurse Sakura with dark circles around your eyes and looking pale, it'd just make her worried."
"Whatare you serious?"
"Why would I lie? Geez, just go to your room and rest. I'll go get you in the afternoon.
Oh, and if you can't go to sleep, I can help you. If you don't mind me copying Rider, I can put you under for about a day."
I get the most horrible mental image at that suggestion.
Copying Rider means copying her mystic eyes. But as far as I know, Tohsaka doesn't have mystic eyes.
In short, she's
"Are you telling me to be your guinea pig?"
"Exactly. I wasn't interested before, but mystic eyes might not be that bad. I can't do anything on that scale, but I might be able to do something like sleep suggestion."
"Don't lie. What was that about them not being bad?
You just don't want to stay defeated, so you want to learn it too, right?"
Do you want to try it or not?"
"No, you idiot! I'm having nothing to do with such a dangerous experiment. First of all, if I sleep for a day, I can't wake up until tomorrow morning."
"Oh, right. It'll be paralysis instead of sleep if it works too well. I think it'll work well on you since you're simple-minded."
Tohsaka seems to be convinced.
I want to object, but I stay quiet since she might test it on me if I do object.
"Well, I'm not that sensitive, so I can sleep if I want. You don't have to worry about me."
"Really? Then can you rest in your room and let me handle Sakura's care?"
Tohsaka drops her joking manner and asks me with serious eyes.
I can't answer right away.
I want to be with Sakura.
But I have other things to do, and I can't let Sakura see me if I look as terrible as Tohsaka says.
I can trust Tohsaka with Sakura's care, so I'll take her offer.
" You're right. Then I'll be in my room.
I'll bring her lunch and dinner, so can you take care of her the rest of the time?"
"Yeah, you can leave her to me. I'll scold her and put her back in bed if she tries to get up.
So, can you really sleep by yourself? Don't you want to try it out once?"
I swear she is not talking about eyes.
"You're persistent. I don't want anything dangerous.
But thanks, Tohsaka. I'm sorry for making you look out for me."
"I-I'm not looking out for you. I-I'm going, so you go sleep, okay!?"
"Well, I bet every day would be fun, though."
That's why I want them back to being sisters as quickly as possible.
Sakura and Tohsaka can be together again once the war ends, and the promise between their families goes away.
The eleven-year gap won't be bridged that easily, but I want them to get close enough to laugh together over trivial matters.
I'll do anything to help.
I think this is the most I can do for Sakura.
"Oh, and for Tohsaka too. Sakura is like the only one who can make her look troubled."
I just imagined Tohsaka smiling happily.
I'm sorry, Sakura. Wait, does this count as being unfaithful?
Yes. It's tantamount to extramarital rape.
"No, more importantly "
I can't take it easy forever.
Tohsaka said she'll challenge Zouken tonight.
The war will end if we defeat Zouken.
The Holy Grail will appear once the war ends.
No, rather, the Holy Grail will be opened.
Zouken said the Holy Grail is a gate.
What grants the wishes is not the Holy Grail, but what's inside of it.
If that's true, what will happen to Sakura, who is the Holy Grail?
Ilya said that
Sakura loses her human functions as she nears completion as a Holy Grail.
So there's only one way to save Sakura.
Protect her until the Holy Grail War ends.
I don't know how the Holy Grail will appear.
I don't know if it appears when there's only one Master left, or if the last Master summons it.
There's no problem if it's the latter.
I just have to defeat Zouken, eliminate what's threatening Sakura, and wait for the duration of the war.
Tohsaka said we'll challenge Zouken tonight.
Then we can beat Zouken.
If she says we're fighting, that means we have a high chance of winning.
" Then there's only one problem."
The black shadow.
Beating Zouken won't make it disappear.
It will continue to surface as long as the Holy Grail, Sakura, exists.
And it will take many lives every time.
Waiting for the deadline means doing nothing about that shadow.
" I have to defeat it. I have to defeat the shadow myself."
That's the only possible choice.
But can I beat it?
If that thing came from the Holy Grail, the shadow should not have a concept of death.
If I'm to eliminate it, I have to eliminate the projector, Sakura herself, or destroy the main body that's sending magical energy to the projector.
"The content of the Holy Grail.
Zouken implanted within Sakura a piece of the Holy Grail that was shattered in the previous war. Did it contain anything back then?"
Wait a minute.
Zouken said he made the crest worm from a piece of the Holy Grail
Music: Footsteps of Destruction
Oh he knows. You just didn't ask.
"Damn, why didn't I realize earlier !?"
If I'd just thought about it, I would've seen it right away.
The shadow that appears as Sakura's subconscious form.
That man should know what's inside the Holy Grail!
"That idiot ! I told him to rest, but he never listens to people !"
She stops filling prescriptions and gets up.
Sakura's medicine is important, but stopping Shirou comes first.
I am reminded of this post.
"Oh, before that."
She has to check on Sakura, just in case.
She hasn't given her the water jug or the pajamas, since she was planning to bring them with the medicine. She hasn't taken her temperature either.
Shirou's recklessness angers her, but she can't scold Shirou if she ignores Sakura.
"Well, it seems like she's sleeping."
It's only been a minute.
Shirou should quickly lose his breath, stop, and rest at the bottom of the hill. He shouldn't even be able to run a kilometer in his condition.
" The worst part is that he doesn't realize it."
If she runs, she can catch up with him in no time.
Of the people in the house right now, she has the most energy.
It's natural that the strongest one looks after the weaker members.
Music: Wandering Shadow
Matou Sakura isn't in the room.
The one in bed is not her.
" You've fallen far, Rider. I never thought I'd see a Servant sleep in a bed, pretending to be her Master."
This is the cutest thing and I'm sure there's fanart out there somewhere.
"I was unwilling, but this is an order.
But this is your carelessness. Please do not push your responsibility onto me."
" Well said. She's the one causing us the trouble."
She grits her teeth.
Rin glares at Rider with hostility, and Rider ignores it coolly.
"Tohsaka Rin. If there is a next time, set a better observer. You cannot deceive Sakura with a mere jade bird familiar. She does not match you in ability, but her instincts are as good as yours."
"I see, thanks for the advice. But I guess that's not all, huh?"
"Of course not. Sakura instructed me not to let you out of the house until she returns."
Rin clucks her tongue.
She can't do anything now.
By herself, she cannot defeat or escape from Rider.
She can only stay here, just as Sakura planned.
"I'm really pissed. He tried to help her since she can't handle it by herself, but now she's gone alone to settle things?"
"Are you not going to resist? It is good to be graceful, but this is unexpected."
"I just don't have to go outside, right? I can't match you, so I'll stay quiet until she comes home."
She sighs and leans against the wall.
My chest hurts.
My heart has been sending me a danger signal for a while now.
Thump, thump, splat, thump.
The heart spits out blood to the rest of the body, raging around as though saying it'll if it moves anymore.
Ahhaa, haa, ha
My throat hurts.
It feels like I'm swallowing needles every time I take a breath.
So it's too scary to breathe.
I'm already oxygen-deprived, so intentionally limiting my breathing is like suicide.
Ahhaa, haa ha
My limbs don't move well because they lack oxygen.
I made it this far with unsteady steps, but I might fall unconscious at any time.
Fuh, kuh !
That thought brings back my strength.
I can't fall here.
Sneaking out would become meaningless.
I need to settle my match.
I have to stop the old man that made me a Master, even if it costs me my life.
I steady my breathing.
It's fine, it's not hard.
It might be hard for others, but it's no problem for me.
I just have to look at him, like I do every night at dinner, and shake my head.
Andthat old man's scheme will end.
I don't think about what'll happen to me after I disobey the monster.
If I do, I won't be able to go through with it.
So I stop thinking too much.
Fortunately, the memory in my head is vague.
I won't remember what I'm doing now in the next instant, so the fear is relatively small.
" Haaah, ahh "
I hold myself upright and look around the empty living room.
That old man is not in the house.
His laughing voice is not in the basement.
" No way Why?"
It doesn't make sense.
GrandfatherMatou Zouken wants me back.
But he couldn't do anything until now because I was at the Emiya household.
So now should be his best chance.
He will definitely come and try to turn me into a Holy Grail if I'm alone.
So why isn't he coming out?
"Ah haa haa ah"
My consciousness is fading away.
I have to see Matou Zouken before I fall asleep, before Senpai goes into action.
I have to see him and end it right now.
It'll all be over once I see him, so why isn't he appearing today of all days!?
" So why?"
There's no way he doesn't know.
It shouldn't even matter that the priest removed some of my crest worm.
Because that's just insurance.
He's watching my actions using a more reliable method.
He knows my current condition. He's even listening to my heartbeat.
He knows I'm alone here and that I left Rider behind.
Video: Homecoming (mirror)
A voice comes from right behind me.
Right when I realize it's Nii-san and turn around