Part 352: What is hidden in the Holy Grail
Even I'm surprised by how well I'm doing.
Even though I took the shortest route, I ran full speed for five kilometers from my house to the church.
"Wait, this is no time to be amazed at myself."
I head to the entrance.
I pull myself together, readying myself to have Kotomine talk if he knows everything.
It seems like he's been waiting for me
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled update for
"Oh, what's wrong, Emiya Shirou? I did not think you were admirable enough to come pray to the God when you are at a loss. Did you change your religious beliefs?"
And he offers an absurd welcome.
"Shut up. I don't have time for your sarcasm. If you want to make small talk, do it alone."
"Oh. I see, you seem disturbed. I'm surprised you made it here in your condition. Why don't we go to the back if it's going to be a long conversation? It must be hard for you to stay on your feet."
"I'm fine. Just answer me, Kotomine.
You knew that Sakura is a Holy Grail, right?"
"Of course. I opened her body, after all. I knew that she is a black Holy Grail that Matou Zouken coordinated."
The priest plainly answers,
as if it's not a big deal.
"Do you know what that means !?"
My head boils up in an instant.
I tried to be calm, but Kotomine's reply shatters my composure.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate
"Yes. I knew better than you what that meant.
If we let Matou Sakura live, she would end up killing many people. That is why I warned you. I asked you if she was worth keeping alive."
Kotomine did warn me back then.
He saved her, but he kept repeating that keeping her alive was a mistake.
"Then then why did you save Sakura?
I only wanted to protect her. But you don't have a reason to."
"I do have a reason. Like you, I did not want to let Matou Sakura die. I could not leave the new life within her to die.
Humans die. Sakura's death would be only natural. Were she the only one to die, I would never have gone to such lengths."
"If Sakura were the only one to die?"
He's saying he saved Sakura to save that black shadow !?
In any other H-game, he would have come to a very different conclusion.
"That is exactly right, Emiya Shirou. It is the law of nature for people to die from wounds. But you cannot kill what has not yet come into existence.
You protected Matou Sakura to save her.
I saved Matou Sakura to protect the darkness that she conceived.
That is my motive. We had different goals, but we both needed the girl to live. Are you dissatisfied with the result?"
I'm not dissatisfied.
No matter what his intentions were, I had no choice but to ask for his help back then.
Andhe sacrificed his entire Magic Crest to save Sakura.
I should at least thank him for the result.
" You're right. I'm not interested in what your motives are.
But let me ask you. If you're saying that, you must know what that thing is."
"You must mean the shadow threatening the town.
Well, I have an idea, but what about you?
What do you think it is?"
" Zouken said it's the contents of the Holy Grail. He said that what's inside the Holy Grail is coming out through Sakura."
"You asked him yourself, eh? I see, that is certainly something he might think of.
So, do you believe everything he said? Do you believe the shadow is the contents of the Holy Grail appearing through Matou Sakura, and that it will continue to kill people as long as she is alive?"
"I won't trust Zouken. But his explanation matches the facts. I have to admit that Sakura and that shadow are related."
"Yes. Zouken's explanation contains no lie, but he is not telling the whole truth either.
The power in the Holy Grail is colorless.
It is colorless, so it will never attack people on its own. Power without direction only disperses."
What he's saying makes sense.
First of all, why is something that's leaked out of the gate indiscriminately attacking people?
"What's going on? Why is it attacking people?"
"I do not even need to mention why. There exists 'something that kills people' inside the Holy Grail. That is the only possible explanation."
Something that kills people?
That thing is inside the Holy Grail and ruining Sakura?
My vision wavers.
This is too ridiculous to be true
But didn't I
Look up at such a thing ten years ago?
"! That makes even less sense !
If the Holy Grail's power is colorless, something that has a purpose like killing people shouldn't exist in it!"
"Correct. It is something that should not exist. It is a contradiction that should never have been created.
But it is definitely there, within the Holy Grail.
Ten years ago. I already told you how Kiritsugu and I fought for the Holy Grail.
Its contents were already tainted at that time. The power that should have been colorless was instead a swirl that interpreted everything as slaughter."
"But it is a big enough swirl of magical energy to grant wishes.
That function has not been lost.
The only problem is that its idea of 'happiness' is to use the evil to expose the good.
That is why it brought on that tragic fire ten years ago.
I still found the Holy Grail worthy, but Kiritsugu destroyed it, unable to accept its evil."
"I need not remind you of the result. My Servant was showered with its tainted contents, and the mud that leaked from the Holy Grail burned the town and caused many deaths.
You should remember the scene."
Yeah, I did see it.
I saw the cause of it !
I love this expression. It's the perfect "please do not fart in church" stare.
"Then that black hole is "
"Yes, it is a gate called the Holy Grail.
How ironic. The cup that receives the purest souls.
That pure object was completely tainted when a small amount of poison was mixed into it. It is colorless, after all. No matter how deep and magnificent the Holy Grail may have been, it was powerless against a colored foreign substance."
"Foreign substance ? That's what caused the content of the Holy Grail to change colors ?"
"Most likely. The Einzberns summoned something they should not have on the third ritual. As a result, an impurity was introduced into the Holy Grail War, the ritual they had prepared.
Sixty years passed between the third and fourth wars, yet the impurity that had waited so long for its birth still could not emerge into the outside world."
"The fourth Holy Grail was too narrow.
The war reached its deadline with Archer and Saber still remaining, and the Holy Grail was not complete. The gate did open, but Kiritsugu instantly destroyed it."
"Impuritythen that guy's the main body of the black shadow ?"
"'That guy' is hardly the proper term.
Even if the contents of the Holy Grail are tainted, it is still only a swirl of raw power. What's inside is magical energy with a direction.
It is a cursed swirl that is specialized and directed at killing people. It is a pure evil that is the embodiment of human evil."
"That is the phenomenon inside the Holy Grailthe main body of the shadow roaming the town at night. Well, it is still only an expected baby that cannot even produce the shadow without Matou Sakura."
"Expected baby ? Don't be ridiculous! Are you saying Sakura has to give birth to something mysterious like that !?"
"No. It will appear from her body if she is a legitimately made Holy Grail.
But she is special.
That thing is trying to consume her and become the gate itself."
"Its birth. It is trying to come into this world by transferring its power to her.
It is power without a body. It has no need for a human form. It can exist in this world if someone inherits its power."
"The content of the Holy Grail is not leaking out.
It is an evil that is trying to bring itself into the world by permeating Matou Sakura.
Thereforethe black shadow is not the contents of the Holy Grail.
It is already Matou Sakura herself.
It is permeating into the master, and once the power is completely succeeded, she will turn into the shadow."
Hold on a minute, Kotomine.
Even if you say that, I can't think straight.
"It was an incomplete Holy Grail from the start.
No, she had already made the contract when the tainted Holy Grail from the last war was used.
It would not have ended this way if the Einzbern's Holy Grail were used. It would have been filled with curses, but they would not be compatible."
First of all, your talks are too long.
You should keep things simple.
Like how that shadow isn't Sakura's subconscious.
That's what Zouken said, but the shadow is attacking people because that's its nature.
It's not something she wished for.
"The curse swirling within the Holy Grail. The curse would not have been able to take form unless the Holy Grail was compatible with it.
Instead, it connected with something that could give it shape.
It would not have taken a definite form if it were a normal Holy Grail, such as Einzbern's gold or a bronze using a body of a magus. It is a curse that has mass, after all. In some cases, it might turn into an expanding lump of flesh."
"Don't you remember UBW?"
I said I don't care about things that don't concern us.
Get to the point.
"Bitch, please, we're on HF now."
Let me know the conclusion.
I thought I could save Sakura if I defeated the shadow.
I thought I could save her if I could defeat it before Sakura completely turned into the Holy Grail.
Butif that shadow is Sakura herself
"The curse obtained a host named Matou Sakura.
She is a human who was raised to be a Magic Circuit, embedded with 'the sense of touch' that leaked out during the previous war. The more she opens the gate as the Holy Grail, the more she will combine with what is inside.
But do not worry.
So long as she retains her sanity, the shadow will remain a shadow.
No matter how much the curse may contaminate her, she still has command. As long as she tries to close the gate as a Holy Grail, the content will stay in her and not be able to escape outside."
"It is the same as the relationship between a Servant and his Master.
The Servant, the curse, cannot use its power unless its Master, Matou Sakura, allows it. One cannot overturn this relationship, no matter how strong one may be.
Matou Sakura's sanity obstructs the curse's desire to kill people."
"Matou Sakura can accept the curse as a part of her, or her sanity can cave in to the magical energy of the curse. The darkness in her will be given birth the instant either occurs.
She is the shadow already. Even if the war were over, you could never return her to her original form."
When I defeat that black shadow and see its corpse
Sakura's body will come out from beneath its darkness
"Haa , ah."
I thought my heart stopped.
I clutch my chest and force myself to breathe.
"Then letting Sakura live means "
"Letting that black shadow emerge. Her mind will eventually die, and hell will take form.
Well, I did not think her body could endure it, but you have done well, Emiya Shirou. She is still functioning as the Holy Grail, thanks to you."
"Do you want to turn Sakura into a monster !?"
"Of course. No matter what it may be, we cannot stop it as long as it has the will to be born.
And do not misunderstand, Emiya Shirou.
You call it a monster when it has not even come into this world?"
"Of course ! That shadow is a devil. It's a devil that's killing people without limit !"
"You are rushing to conclusions. Good and evil are what we decide on after it occurs. Nobody can deny what has yet to exist.
Or what? Are you saying the son of a criminal will definitely be a criminal? So we should kill him before he is born?"
That thing is a killer by its very nature.
And in reality, it is killing people!
"That is your mistake. That shadow has only been created from the host, Matou Sakura. What is about to be born from the Holy Grail is something different.
That shadow is merely using Matou Sakura to suck lives needed for its birth. It is the same as a baby that wants to live.
You cannot judge it to be good or evil, as it is doing so unconsciously."
"Don't be stupid! People are dying!"
"True. It shall receive punishment for its crime. But that is after it is born. Nobody can deny its existence right now.
You cannot reject that which has not yet been born and cannot be punished."
"Look. A clear evil does not exist in this world.
Butif there is an evil in this world
Would it not be the act of denying what is about to be born?"
I swallow my words.
It's not that I agree with Kotomine that Sakura should become the contents of the Holy Grail.
But condemning him won't change anything, let alone save Sakura.
"Kotomine. Is your intention to have Sakura turn into the Holy Grail?"
I ask with hostility.
It's a question to clarify our positions, a statement made too late to be a declaration of hostility.
"I said that is why I saved her. I will bless whatever is born.
Just as you protect Matou Sakura, I will protect the embryo."
"I see. Does that mean you're our enemy?"
"Of course. But it's not that I want Matou Sakura's life, or that I want the Holy Grail's power like Matou Zouken.
I will only protect what lies within the Holy Grail after it has been born. If the mother, Matou Sakura, should reject the child before it is born, I will respect her decision."
There's no lie in his words.
This priest does not care who wins the Holy Grail War.
All he wants is the result.
He just wants to see what appears after Zouken or I remain.
He has no intention of forcing Sakura and altering her.
He is saying he will save Sakura only when we're unable to save her and when she turns into something else.
" All right. I won't do anything to you as long as you're just watching. No matter your intentions, you saved Sakura's life.
That's all I care about right now."
"I see. All I did was save the body of the mother, but I will not say anything if that is what you think.
Well, is that all? Then go back to Matou Sakura. This is no time for her to be left alone."
The priest is worrying about Sakura's healthno, her mind.
We're clearly enemies, yet I still can't tell for certain.
"No. I want to ask one more thing.
This will probably be my last question."
"Oh. If that is the case, I cannot refuse. All right, I shall listen."
"Kotomine. Can Sakura be saved?"
The atmosphere changes.
The pressure from the priest increases as he gives me advice.
"There is a way. But the success rate is about fifty-fifty.
The person called Matou Sakura will disappear once she is complete as a Holy Grail. But if her mind can endure the power from the Holy Grail for a bit, that small amount of time will be your hope."
"A few seconds at most.
You will need to control the Holy Grail and use its power to eliminate what is within her.
In short, you're using brute force. You just need to use the Holy Grail to kill the baby within her and the crest worm that is transforming her.
The Holy Grail is tainted, but it still has the power to grant wishes. If it is used to kill, it can kill any form of life."
"So it all comes down to the Holy Grail, huh? From the start, this war is "
"Yes, it all comes down to obtaining the Holy Grail.
But watch out. You are directing the power of the Holy Grail at itself.
A normal magus would not be able to control the magical energy, and it could end up repeating the disaster that occurred ten years ago.
Not only that. It is madness to try to take control of the Holy Grail in only a few seconds. It's a miracle you will never achieve by yourself."
"Heh, but that's the only way, right? Then I'll do it. And if that's the case, I do have one hope."
Rin is Matou Sakura's older sister. It should be possible to tune with her sister's mind and moderate the reaction from the Holy Grail.
But I do not think Rin would go with such a ridiculous gamble."
I'll have to convince her to change our course of action once I get home.
"It's fine, that's my problem.
Well, bye. I hate to say it, but thanks. I don't approve of your opinion, but I'll thank you."
"Hold on. I answered your question, so I have something to ask of you as well."
I don't want to, but it's nothing if I can return the favor.
"What? You're the one that said this is it. Make it short."
"Well. Let's say by some chance, you do save Matou Sakura with this method.
But are you fine with that, Emiya Shirou? Even if Matou Sakura is not a Holy Grail anymore, it will not change the fact that she ate humans. Are you going to protect such a sinner?"
My heart freezes.
"You are not the only one who cannot bear it.
Matou Sakura has killed many. I do not think she will be able to forgive herself."
"It must be painful to commit a crime and live on, knowing you cannot atone for it. Then is it not better to just kill her?
It is less painful that way, and it will be an apology to all who she has killed."
My morals tell me I must kill Sakura if I truly pity the victims.
"I see. So that means you will not follow Kiritsugu's path."
He talks as if he's disinterested.
The priest regards me with a bored expression, as if disappointed.
"Father's path ?"
"That's right. Your father loved humans.
Higher, wider, farther. He loved humans as they go over their limits without end. That is why he turned himself into the definite evil.
That man would have killed Matou Sakura. He threw away his human emotions for the sake of justice."
" Is that any different from you?
Casting away one person's happiness for the sake of justice, for many people's happiness."
"No. What you people call happiness did not bring me joy."
That's not a reply.
No, more than that
He's not even looking at me.
"Right, we were different.
He threw away what he had, but I had nothing to throw away.
The result was the same, but the process was completely different.
His existence was too unpleasant. His agony was truly unpleasant.
If he went to such lengths to cast it away, he should never have had it in the first place. But still he agonized over his decision, trying to pick it back up after he threw it away. As if saying that is the correct way for humans to live."
"The difference was crucial. Yes. If I cannot obtain anything, why was I born into this world?"
" Hah. Come to think of it, there is no way you can succeed Kiritsugu. He did what was necessary by throwing things away, but you insist on having it both ways.
We are similar, you and I.
You died once and broke down when you were resurrected. It is posteriori, but you are like me, a defect from birth."
Not content with simple words, Kotomine dives into epistemology. Now if only he used it grammatically correctly.
"What ? What part of me is broken?"
"You just do not realize it.
You have no concept of self. So I did not think you would concern yourself with a single person. No, rather"
You are not concerned about many,
but concerned about all as if they were only one.
Kotomine Kirei sounds almost envious as he speaks to himself.
"Anyway. I will not stop you if you plan to save Matou Sakura in spite of everything. Be burdened with as much sin as you want.
Kotomine is the best priest.
But let me warn you.
If you want to save Matou Sakura in any way, you will need to kill Matou Zouken. He will take over her body after her mind disappears. You will not be able to save her after that."
"You mean Zouken will take over Sakura?"
"Yes. His main body is a parasite. I do not know where the worm with his soul exists, but it is easy for him to take over another's body as long as it is alive.
He is immortal, in a way. You cannot completely eliminate him unless you find that tiny main body or purify his soul itself."
"I see. That's actually a relief. I have to defeat Zouken either way."
"Hah. I see, it is certainly easy to understand.
Defeat Matou Zouken and make Matou Sakura the winner. Control the Holy Grail that appears and purify Matou Sakura's body. So that is your course of action."
I don't want to, but I nod.
The plan should be simple, like Kotomine said.
"This is just my personal opinion, but Matou Sakura's mind is surprisingly strong and too well-suited to the curse in the Holy Grail.
If Rin is the positive, she is the negative. If Matou Zouken made a mistake, it is right there. That black shadow has developed Matou Sakura over his expectations. That must be why he contacted you."
"Protect Matou Sakura.
If she can survive the emergence, she should not die."
I don't say anything, but nod back.
Kotomine wants Sakura to change.
But he's still much better than Zouken.
"You won't get to take any part in this. I won't let such a mysterious thing be born."
"That is the spirit. Whatever happens, do not let Zouken have her."
With a snort, I turn my back to him.