Part 359: Duo / Succeed from deep / Ilya foundMusic: Church on the Hill
"I see, common ground is important. I do have some relation to that old man."
We start down the hill.
We leave the church together without looking at each other.
"So how are you going to help me?"
"Hm. Our method of transportation, to start out with."
After that conversation, Kotomine immediately prepared a car and driver.
That alone is helpful.
It's past three in the morning. Not many taxis would take a suspicious student out to the outskirts right now.
"It is possible that only the boy will return.
That is not a good situation. Do not wait for me and go back to town as fast as possible in that case."
Kotomine gives orders to the driver.
The driver nods silently, then opens the trunk.
"Emiya. Take the weapon."
He throws a long, thin object at me.
"Whoa. Is this a sword?"
It's a slender sword.
It's like a rapier.
It's a sword made for thrusting, not slashing.
But the blade's a bit too thick, and it looks like it'll be hard to use.
It's like Assassin's Dark made into a sword.
I'll say it again: Kotomine is the best priest.
I lightly swing the sword.
It weighs about a kilo, but the tip is heavy.
It's more like an arrow than a sword.
" Is this a special weapon of the Church? I feel magical energy from it."
"It is called a Black Key. It is not magic, but sacrament.
It is our exclusive right, used to fight spirits. If you use your magic on that sword, it should be of some use, even against a Servant."
That's if I can hit them with it, he adds.
"Make sure you do not get into a situation where you have to use it.
It's been almost a day since Ilyasviel was kidnapped.
The place may be empty already, but we'll think about that after we get there.
We should at least be able to find out where Matou Sakura went."
The priest, unlike me, goes into the forest empty-handed.
I take a deep breath.
I put the sword into the sheath and follow after Kotomine.
Music: Wandering Shadow
I check my left arm.
I lost my arm at that time.
I was almost killed by the shadow, and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
It's the same now.
I have no way to match the shadow even if I encounter it, and they also have Saber.
Once I run into them, it's all over.
If I'm to get Ilya back, a surprise attack will be the only way.
I'll rescue Ilya without Sakura noticing.
What can I do to Sakura?
How can I take Sakura back to my house?
"Hold on. Do not tell me you intend to bring Matou Sakura back."
"Wha O-Of course I intend to. I want to save her."
We cannot match Matou Sakura no, that shadow. It will swallow us without giving us a chance to talk. You should know that better than me."
It'll be just like when I confronted her in the yard.
"Let it go this time. We will have our chance if we can put Ilyasviel under your care. If you wish to speak with Matou Sakura, that can come after we prepare something that can match her."
A force that can match Sakura, who has an overwhelming amount of magical energy.
If anyone can prepare such a thing, it'll be Tohsaka.
I'll have to project the gem sword we were planning to use against Zouken and the black shadow
"Damn ! Okay, so I'm supposed to concentrate on saving Ilya for now, right !?"
"Right. Then let's go. We don't have time."
I slap my cheeks to boost my spirits.
This isn't the time to be feeling timid.
I have to save Ilya.
Sakura said she'll kill her.
I won't let her die, and I won't let Sakura do such a thing.
All I can do right now is to get Ilya away from Sakura.
Then I'll concentrate on that for now
" She's here. The curse over this forest is definitely hers."
Kotomine says something strange as we keep running.
The curse over this forest?
Can he see such a thing?
"Kotomine. By curse, do you mean you can pick out Sakura's presence?"
"It is more like a resonance. Well, I do not care. But if we are to fight Matou Sakura, I will retreat.
Putting you aside, I cannot harm Black Sakura. I have no chance of winning even if I fight her."
Well, I have no chance of winning either. But
"Hold on. What do you mean by 'Black'? Sakura's Sakura. She's just possessed by the shadow, and she'll quickly "
"She'll quickly be back to normal?
I explained that to you before. The only way to return her to normal is to separate her from the shadow."
"There are two ways to do so.
Eliminate the main body of the shadow, or wait until Matou Sakura materializes it.
You have no way to defeat the shadow right now. All you can do is protect Sakura's mind until the shadow is born."
But I don't know how to protect her mind.
The Command Spell covering Sakura's body
If that's what Kotomine means by Black Sakura, then isn't Sakura slowly turning into the shadow?
" Kotomine. When you talk about materializing the shadow, do you mean Sakura turning into it?"
"No. I'm sure there is some sympathy, but the main body of the shadow is in the Holy Grail.
What is transforming Matou Sakura is inside the Holy Grail, but that is still her shadow.
It cannot exist without her. The main body does not have form, so it exists in the material world by being her shadow."
"What's inside the Holy Grail will not come into this world unless there is an incomplete Holy Grail called Matou Sakura.
But once it is born, it will be a separate entity. Once it is separated from her, the curse tainting her should stop."
" Kotomine. You say born, but is that thing inside Sakura?"
"Of course not. If it were, the matter would be easily solved. We would simply need to extract it from her body.
The main body of the shadow is within the Holy Grail. Matou Sakura is merely a host that gives it energy and form."
"But Sakura's the Holy Grail, right? What does that mean?
Are there many Holy Grails?"
"Yes. I explained to you in the beginning. This land has a Holy Grail, and they summon the Holy Grail into the Holy Grail the people prepared.
He just said "Holy Grail" three times in one sentence.
The main Holy Grailthe magic circle and the brain that governs the rules of the ritual called the Holy Grail War. That is the Holy Grail on this land that Einzbern, Tohsaka, and Makiri prepared."
Holy Grail. Holy Grail. Holy Grail.
"The Holy Grail in this land"
All the laws Summoning the Servants, making the Masters fight, and calling down the Holy Grail.
If the Holy Grail War is man-induced, then it's obvious that there's also a man-induced cause.
Did someone say Holy Grail?
Thenif I find that large-scale magic circle and destroy it, I may be able to purge the shadow invading Sakura's body
By which you mean the Holy Grail.
"Do you know where that is, Kotomine?"
The location of the Holy Grail.
"I have a guess. Ask Rin if you would like to know the entrance.
The Tohsaka family are the supervisors of this land.
The Einzbern cooperated with them two hundred years ago to secure a land for the ritual. Rin, the successor, should know where the place is."
"Butthat is all after we save Ilyasviel. If Zouken obtains Ilyasviel, she and Matou Sakura will be disposed of as the Holy Grail.
Matou Zouken has no intention of using the main Holy Grail. For him, the two women are enough.
Your idea of destroying the main Holy Grail is meaningless."
"D-Don't be stupid! I'm not thinking about such a thing!"
"Really? I think it is the most realistic solution for you. It's strange that you wouldn't go through with it."
"Shut up. So why didn't you tell me about it?
If you'd told me at the beginning, I would "
"You would have destroyed the magic circle? Nothing would go so smoothly. My goal is the completion of the magic circle, after all. I cannot let you destroy it."
"I told you that we will be enemies after we rescue Ilyasviel. My goal is different from yours.
I am interested in what comes from Matou Sakurano, what is trying to become her. Unlike Zouken, I have no wish."
" Don't bullshit me. You're the same as Zouken. You're using Sakura to create something and make it yours."
"Make it mine ? Of course not. I have no interest in it after it is born. In any case, no human will be able to control it.
What will appear is a phenomenon called hell. If Matou Sakura becomes that, I will die just like everybody else."
What is that?
Then his goal's just
"Are you insane?
You want to turn Sakura into such a thing, knowing that you're going to be killed !?"
"Yes. My role is to bless whatever is born.
That will not change, no matter what it is or what situation it is in.
There is a life and a will to be born. I cannot oppose that.
Emiya. If there is a pure wish in this world, it must be the desire to be born."
"But what's in Sakura is"
"It is not evil.
Humans can earn happiness just by existing.
As they grow, they will learn of new happiness, of more advanced and complex pleasures."
"But humans are not happy at the moment of birth.
An embryo does not have the knowledge to know what happiness is.
Humans start from zero, learn what is fun, and learn what is right.
The beginning is at zero.
There is no good or evil. There is only the fact that it is allowed to exist in this world."
"Good or evil. The person's knowledge will decide that.
If there is any responsibility, it lies with the environment and the 'self' that raised you.
There is no crime in receiving birth.
That is why I will bless even the birth of a devil."
"This is the way I have lived.
This way of living is mine.
Even if what Matou Sakura gives birth to is hell, it is hard to change my nature."
I don't understand.
I know he's serious.
He knows he'll die, but he's still going bless the evil that will be born through Sakura.
I'll never be able to approve of this man.
But it's true that he's trying to save Ilya and release Sakura from Zouken's control.
Thoughts that are in conflict.
Lives that cannot coexist.
But we have the same goal right now.
"I can trust you, right?"
"I said we will be cooperating. I will trust you with my back."
Most of the things they classify as "evil" are phenomena and ghosts, so the Black Key used to fight them emphasizes the ability to intervene spiritually, rather than physical attack power. The blades of the Black Key used by experts or chosen Agents are made from magical energy, and only the hilt is actually carried around. There are Agents that hide hundreds of Black Keys under their robes.
Video: Suffering (mirror)
The space is filled with black fire.
The luxurious rooms are burned away by meaningless gasping.
The blazing fire is like a heat haze.
The formerly shapeless shadow breaks through every wall and floor in concert with the host's pain.
The black heat haze dances in tune to the melody.
Each time the figure at its center curls up, claws at her throat, and gasps in agony, the old castle's beauty is disfigured further.
But this is nothing to grieve over.
This desolate winter castle has been forgotten by everyone.
Nobody has lived here or seen it, so it makes no difference even if it's destroyed.
The hall has turned into the shadow's kingdom.
Writhing in agony, the woman in the middle is both its king and its slave.
It has already been a day since she arrived at this castle with Ilyasviel.
Matou Sakura's transfiguration is reaching its final stage.
As she's one with the shadow, having a physical form is torture.
Her mind is being engulfed by pain and the impulse to destroy.
If that were all, she would be able to bear it.
She's used to physical pain.
Butthe pain of having her existence denied is something she has never experienced.
The shadow should not exist.
This world has no blessings to offer it.
"Uh Ah ah ah !"
She tears at her throat.
She cannot breathe.
The air is poisonous.
Matou Sakura is turning into a deep-sea monster, so being on land is like being in a vacuum.
"AhAhhh, ahhhh !!!!"
That's why she dances around like mad.
Her sanity broken, she takes out her anger on everything she sees.
She keeps appealing to the unconcerned world about her pain.
About her misfortune and her pain.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
" One more push? I am tired of hearing those words. The match is over. I am the only Servant you need. Have her take in the remaining two."
"I know. But she does not try to kill the Servants she has absorbed. I do not know if it is her shallow wit or cowardice. Saber and Berserker are still trapped within her. She should kill them, but she keeps them alive."
" Interesting. So Saber is not the only one?"
"No. It is probably to keep me in check, but how thoughtless of her. The more Servants she controls, the more magical energy she must draw from the Holy Grail. It is a supply of magical energy the Holy Grail receives from the Great Holy Grail, but magical energy is not the only thing that flows into her.
She is accelerating her transfiguration by letting the Servants live. Her sanity will be lost and she will turn into an ideal tool even if I do nothing."
It would be strange not to love her.
To the old magus, Matou Sakura looks like a beautiful bride.
No matter how much she fights, she will be his in the end.
It doesn't matter even if she obtains power, controls many Servants, and retains her sanity.
Their hierarchy was set eleven years ago.
The old magus can kill Matou Sakura merely by closing his eyes and opening them again.
But the white skull is different.
He's the symbol of ill omen, the wind that brings death, so he's sensitive to those of his kind.
"The magus makes light of the matter, but"
Will everything turn out well?
The situation will not change, even if the girl loses her sanity.
She reacts to people with hostility.
In that regard, she's already acting the way she will once her mind is lost.
Matou Zouken is conceited.
Even if she goes mad, she will not obey his command.
"Oh, I see, that is promising. That makes it even better as the container."
The old magus laughs.
Falling silent, the masked figure stares at the crumbling hall.
He cannot approve of the magus's plan.
He says his goal is immortality, but his method seems distorted.
No, he's a rotting human from the start.
It's natural that he's crazy, but the old man's procedure seems inconsistent
"Haha, did you hear that, Assassin!? She's begging me for help now! Good, good! It feels like we're eleven years in the past!
The pressure of being denied by the world itself must surely be painful, Sakura!
But endure it. Your body can endure it. Remember all the days of pain and solitude over the last eleven years!
For what did you bear the thousands of tortures!? What did you give your body to the tens of thousands of worms for!? That's right; pain of that degree is nothing to you! That's how I raised you! That's how I trained you!"
It seems the old magus can hear the girl's voice.
Assassin can only hear groans, but she must literally be begging for her life, begging for help.
"Yes, I will help you! You are my masterpiece! I shall see it through! But I can only save your body. Your mind did not follow me through the eleven years of training.
You escaped the pain by accepting it, so you should not be able to bear that resentment. But you can rest assured, as I will guarantee the strength of your flesh! You can bear it! Your flesh shall put on Avenger!"
The old magus continues to laugh.
Assassin looks at him emotionlessly and steps back.
"Do not be so doubtful. The Holy Grail you desire is that girl. Keeping your name in history and becoming the original. Your wish to be eternal through record will be granted by Einzbern.
But I need her to keep her original form. Homunculi are outside my expertise. You can let her be until they prepare her formal dress."
" So you will not force them, you say?
Butdo we have such liberty?"
"Of course we do. We have no more enemies.
It was unexpected that Emiya's boy and Tohsaka's girl were alive, but they aren't important. Nobody is foolish enough to fight after being shown that much difference in power."
"We cannot take it back if we rush things out of needless worry and allow Ilyasviel to die.
It is her role to open heaven's gate. We shall show compassion and let her carry out her dutyAssassin?"
Music: Footsteps of Destruction
"Stop. It seems there is someone that foolish."
"Oh. So you are determined to die, boy?"
But he hasn't been careless.
Ilyasviel cannot run away.
Einzbern's longstanding desire is in her core.
The white girl will help him even if he doesn't force her.
It's foolish to run away with such a girl.
Even if they escape the forest with her, she will come to the land of the Holy Grail, the land of the origin.
"Hah. I have left her alone, but it cannot be helped now.
It is your turn, Sakura. You cannot be saved without Ilyasviel. If you would like to be freed from that pain, go trample upon them without mercy."
With a loud laugh, the presence of the old magus recedes.
A shadow is cowering in the hall.
The shadow that shrouds the entire hall has become a black swamp, from which two dark figures emerge.
The girl no longer feels agony.
It's not that she's accustomed to the poison now.
It's merely that
" I see. You came, Senpai "
Pleasure has surpassed her dark pain.
" So that priest's with him. How stupid of him. He came to be eaten?"
She raises a finger.
To the direction of the castle gate. The direction the trespassers have gone, where they are running even now.
"Go. You can kill anyone but Senpai. Kill anyone else, no matter who they may be."
"But thenyou won't be able to tell who that is, though, Berserker."
Music: Wandering Shadow
There's no one around.
It's strange that there's no watch anywhere, but I can't back out even if this is a trap.
"Kotomine. Can we get up to the second floor from that tree?"
Even if they don't know we're here, it'll be suicidal to go in from the front door.
It might be useless, but I have to do everything I can.
If we wish to sneak in, we should use an unused waterway, but they aren't the sort to fall for such time-consuming methods.
They will notice our intrusion once we enter the castle. I would like to go directly to where Ilyasviel is held captive and escape immediately, but"
The priest looks up at the castle, pondering.
He narrows his eyes as if trying to look through the wall, staring at each window in turn.
"What a surprise. It seems they really do think lightly of us, Emiya."
A happy voice.
I've never heard this tone from him before, so I doubt my ears for a second.
"W-What, Kotomine? Did you find something?"
Let me ask. Do you have experience in mountain climbing, Emiya Shirou?"
" Don't tell me "
"I mean free climbing, of course. It is vertical, but there is no overhang and there are enough holds. We can maintain a secure footing. It will be easy to climb this wall without tools. Compared to a wall of ice, this is like walking down the street."
Kotomine puts his hand on the wall before I can stop him.
He presses himself against the wall and climbs up.
He's going slow, but I see how stable he is.
"What are you doing? If you cannot find the points, copy me. You should not be so weak that four stories are too much for you.
Oh, and leave the Black Key. We can pick it up on the way out."
The priest continues to climb as he speaks.
You don't just use your strength to climb up.
Knowing if the next hold is safe, knowing if the small hold can support your weight, knowing if there's another hold after you move
A vertical climb is like a puzzle of improvisation.
Even if the goal is a meter away, you have to go back down and try a new route if you can't find the next hold.
A route to the destination.
The technique of thinking two or three steps ahead only comes with experience.
That's experience I lack, so I have to copy exactly what Kotomine does.
I'll instantly fall if I miss the target by a few centimeters or grip the handle with the wrong force.
"I can't believe it. You let an amateur do something like this?"
I grumble as I climb up.
Well, it's ridiculous, but it's not totally reckless.
Normally, one climbs like this near the top of a mountain.
The wall isn't the only thing a climber fights against.
Just as the deep sea is a sanctuary that humans cannot violate, high places are also a sacred place.
There's not enough oxygen above the altitude of six thousand meters, and untrained people cannot stay there for more than a few hours.
Nausea, dizziness, brain edema from lack of oxygen, and finally, death.
This is a hell that gets worse the higher you go.
And intense cold. Your bare skin would freeze, and even a slight scratch would turn into necrosis.
Climbing is done in such extreme environments.
Compared to that, merely climbing a wall is hardly impossible.
It's still hard.
I can only use the tips of my fingers.
I have to put my weight there and support my body using a small foothold.
I can't keep up with him unless I've trained every inch of my body !
"Hm ? Hold on, she moved. I thought it was above, but it's actually below us. Emiya, go down to the third floor window and go inside."
"Heyare you crazy?!"
I'm not a spider, so I can't do such a thing
"Kotomine, there's a window ! How can I go inside!?"
"I don't care, break through it."
" ! You fraud, if it was going to be like this "
It would've been so much easier if we'd just gone inside using that tree!
I roll across the expensive-looking carpet.
My body was falling when I swung my legs.
If I'd kicked out a bit later, I would've hit the wall and landed back-first on the ground.
Video: Bring Her Back (mirror)
"Damn, I'd die if I fell on my head from the third floor "
It's dangerous to kick into a window and roll while scattering glass shards, but it's no worse than expected.
The instant I raise my head
All trifling matters escape my mind.
Music: Ever-present Feeling
I forget I'm in enemy territory.
I recall what happened in the yard.
Ilya told me goodbye with a false smile.
A cold voice.
Ilya puts on a cold face.
I'm used to it.
I'm used to seeing that face on her, but
"You still don't understand? You can leave Sakura to me. This is my duty, so you can just go home and "
"Idiot. Don't say dealing with the aftermath is your duty."
I slap her across the cheek, unable to forgive her.
"Wha H-How dare you ! It's not like a gentleman to slap a lady's cheek! I-I won't forgive you if you do such a thing to me!"
"It's me that won't forgive you, you idiot ! I'd be punching you if you were a guy, you bad girl !"
"W-What!? I didn't do anything to make you mad! I went with Sakura to fulfill my role! It was the best decision I could make, so you don't have the right to complain"
"Shut up, I don't care about that !
Look, I don't know about your role. I just came to bring back a bad girl who ran away selfishly.
I won't be tricked, no matter how much you bluff and pretend you're all right. I'm going to take you home as long as you don't want to be here !"
"Wha W-Who's bluffing!? I'm not hating it. This body is made to be a Holy Grail. I don't like becoming the key for them, but if I can use the power of the Holy Grail, Sakura will "
"That's called a bluff, you idiot!
Look, I don't care about the Holy Grail. Ilya is Ilya. If you want to stay as yourself, just ignore all of this. Don't sacrifice your life for someone else !"
She looks away.
She bites her lip and
"That goes for you too, Shirou"
Murmurs something I can't hear.
" Fine. Let's say I don't like this whole thing. What about it? We can't beat Sakura nor run away from her.
It's impossible to get me out of the castle. That's why Zouken's letting me roam freely.
He'll overlook you for now, but you won't make it out of the forest if you're with me."