Part 384: Return to the Spring
It's too bright after the darkened interior of the plane, but this is nothing since I'm finally free of the long journey.
"Oh, Verde's gone. There's a movie theater there instead. This place changed while I was gone."
I stretch myself out and look around the town.
It took twenty-five hours to travel from London to this suburban Japanese town.
My body's cramped from being stuffed in a small seat. My butt hurts from all the sitting, and I hit my head on the ceiling during the landing.
" It was worse than economy class. I should've at least used a legitimate travel agent."
Moral of the story. Don't skimp on travel expenses when taking long trips.
Even if I'm dirt poor, and Luvia Zeritta says,
"Oh, Miss Tohsaka. If you're having financial troubles, I can take you on as my maid. I can guarantee a monthly salary that equals the yearly pay of the cheap waitress down at the fourth street. Hohohoho. Oh, I'm quite serious, so please submit your application tomorrow morning."
I can't be stingy when I'm coming back to my home country.
Yeah, I'll be smart next time.
I have the return ticket, so I'll have to deal with that worn-out plane on the way back.
"The bus is a twenty minute wait.
Well, I don't wanna wait, so I guess I'll walk."
I lift up the bag and start to walk.
It's about an hour on foot.
It takes a while, but it's good since there's still time until we're supposed to meet.
Music: Time Together
The home town seemed to have changed in the year I've been away, but it hasn't actually changed at all.
I walk on, delighted by every trifling detail.
It's my yearly homecoming, my first time back in this country since I went overseas to London.
It's pleasant to walk through the town for the first time in a year.
Well, the happiness doesn't change the fact that the bag is mercilessly heavy.
" I hope she's not using this place for anything strange I saw a bottle of shampoo I didn't recognize."
Shampoo goes in the bath. You don't put shampoo in the study, kitchen, entrance, or the yard.
It's nothing to worry about, but it's pretty suggestive.
"Wait, it's three already ! Geez, what was I doing for two hours !?"
I dash to the door, try to put on some pumps to show off, give up and change back into my boots, and dash out again.
I go through the gate and up to the door.
Well, let's ring the doorbell.
After the ding-dong, the door opens.
Rider came to the door, and she's wearing normal clothes.
Music: Gentle Everyday
"I'm home. It's a bit early, but I'm back.
Is Sakura here, Rider?"
"Yes. Sakura is waiting in her room, and Taiga is waiting in the living room."
"Oh, Fujimura-Sensei's here too? Oh, I guess it's natural since it's spring break. Then excuse me. Should I go to the living room?"
"Yes. I shall go get Sakura."
Could she be considered an ambush?
She was beautiful before, but it stands out much more in her normal clothes.
To be blunt, she's really gorgeous.
When a woman calls another woman gorgeous, you know it's true.
I've seen many beautiful women over there, but I haven't seen anyone as beautiful as Rider.
Well, she's superior to humans, so it's natural that she's extraordinary.
She's a Servant, after all.
The magi in the spirit dispelling department would be unable to work for three days if they saw her. I bet they'd lock themselves up in their workshop for a month if they found out she's a familiar.
"Rin? Do you need to talk to me?"
"Hm, I guess. How are things? Is everyone getting used to everything?"
" Let me see. It has been stable compared to two years ago.
There was some unsteadiness once you left, but it started to settle down about a month ago. It seems Sakura has grown used to it."
"I see. Well, I wasn't worried, since the two of you have good chemistry. Um, you're not drinking blood without telling her, are you?"
I ask her in a whisper.
It's not that I'm blaming her, but if she is, I'm worried about whether she can follow through.
"There is no need to worry. I will never allow Sakura to know such a thing."
It's a vague answer, but I guess I'll let it slide since she doesn't seem to be troubling anyone.
It's a bad habit of mine as a magus.
Familiars as strong as Rider are so valuable that I tend to overlook some mischief.
"Then I will see you later. I need to consult you, so can you make some time for me at night?"
"Oh. If you want to talk secretly, we can do it at my house instead. I'm spending the night here tonight, so can it wait until tomorrow night?"
Rider nods and heads to Sakura's room.
"Welcome back, Rin."
"Thanks. Sorry for all the trouble while I was gone, Rider."
She smiles and leaves.
Geez, I'm speechless.
She's a real beauty.
Music: Time Together
"Yes. I'm glad you're still the same. Are there no club activities today?"
"Oh, I skipped it because I heard you're coming today. Well, this year's captain's reliable, and today's just a meeting to get more new members, so it's not a problem."
"New members? Are there fewer people in the archery club now?"
"Hmm, there's more. But you see, Sakura-chan was the captain last year, right? We got more boys, but we don't have enough girls.
Oh, you wouldn't know since you graduated.
The captain this year is a good-looking guy, so we'll get a lot of new members if we do things right."
"Oh. Who is this handsome man?"
"It's Mitsuzuri-san's younger brother. He's actually the opposite of his sister and is really timid. I bet he'll freeze on the spot if we put him up on stage during club introductions."
I think she's choosing the wrong person for the job.
Well, archery has this strict image, so it might be good to appeal to the girls by showing how easy it is. But Ayako's brother, huh? I've never heard she had one.
"So how's the living over there? Are you getting picked on because you're Japanese? See, people at the College of Arts make friends just by competition."
I can't tell her all they care about is themselves.
Making things worse, Fujimura-Sensei's concerns are 100 percent correct at the department I'm in, but I'm going to keep quiet.
Fujimura-Sensei's looking at me and smiling.
"What is it, Fujimura-Sensei?"
"Hm? I'm just thinking how you got more beautiful. You look more mature now. Did you find someone good over there?"
Why does the conversation end up here when girls are talking? And she's sharp too.
"Oh, looks like I'm right. So, how is it? It's London, right? Don't tell me you guys were followed by some strange organization the instant you met him, had to part ways around the burning London Bridge with ten minutes left, and just kissed and said goodbye."
"No. Nothing like that happened."
"Hm. So nothing good happened?"
" I can't say for sure.
Well, there are people, and there aren't."
I can't help but give a vague answer.
I've had no shortage of proposals, and I'd at least like to have a research partner.
But I somehow can't get serious.
Every time I go out with a guy, I can't concentrate because another idiot keeps popping up in my head.
It's unbelievable, but I think everyday that it might mean I'm in love with him.
It can't be true
I straighten up at once.
Sakura's confused by my reaction.
Wow. She hasn't changed a bit.
"H-Hi. Have you been doing well, Sakura?"
And, her happiness is written on her face plain as day,
"Welcome back, Nee-san. I'm glad you look well."
she congratulates my return with the biggest smile I've seen.
Music: Gentle Everyday
"I see. So you've graduated. So what are you going to do? I can whip up a letter of introduction if you want to come over here."
There's things I need to do here, and there's someone who'll teach me."
"Hm. So it's Kirei's successor that you mentioned in your letter, huh? Well, he sounds like a nice guy, so it might be better than coming here.
But you need to go out and have some adventure.
You're lazy, so your teacher needs to be active."
"Oh, that's fine. Rider's really strict.
She makes a really scary face if I slack off."
"Oh Well, I'm sure her serious face is scary."
She has mystic eyes of petrification, after all.
I bet your clothes will be turned to stone if she gets mad at you.
Why doesn't Fujimura-Sensei look well?
"Eh? Oh, what? Sorry, I wasn't listening."
"No you were so quiet that it made me wonder."
Watching you two talk reminded me of Shirou. It would've been best for him to be here right now, but he's losing out when it counts the most."
Fujimura-Sensei looks out the window with the cup in her hand.
She's looking off into the distance.
She's looking up at the clear, blue sky.
"Oh, it's a bit awkward now.
Um, is it my fault?"
"That's not true. I'm glad you're talking about Senpai."
"Oh, that won't do, Sakura-chan. Shirou isn't your Senpai anymore.
Well, anyways. I feel like some exercise, so I'm going to go swing a shinai around in the dojo."
Maybe Fujimura-Sensei's being considerate.
Music: Tender Scenery
I'm glad she's thinking about us, but I don't know how to start the conversation now.
" Oh well. I don't need to worry about such things.
I have to ask what I need to.
So, Sakura. How are things for you? It's been two years. Do you think you can manage?"
"Yes. It's a slow process, but I'm able to accept a lot of things. I think letting guilty feelings crush me is the same as running away.
I'm going to do what I can and do my best."
"I see. I took a quick look, but the town's back to normal. The scar from two years ago is gone, and there haven't been any more weird incidents.
I dumped my responsibilities on you and went to the Association, but I guess it turned out all right."
"Yes. Filling your shoes was hard work. I think I'm much stronger now thanks to that."
She must mean mentally.
Well, it just means people are better off moving around than sitting there and worrying.
"Me? Uh, well, I guess you could say that."
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
But it didn't end for me there.
The whole event on the land I supervise.
The land of Fuyuki belongs to my family, but the Magic Association approved it, so it's not completely ours.
The Magic Association demands that all divine mysteries be hidden, and we broke that rule to pieces.
First, the enormous damage the Holy Grail War caused to society.
Next, the assassination of the Master dispatched by the Magic Association.
Finally, the activation of the "swirl of origin" that the Association measured.
Well, the first two are Kirei's responsibility, and he's the supervisor they sent, so I had my excuse.
But I can't duck responsibility for the third one.
The appearance of the gate from the Holy Grail. A ritual leading to the origin needs to be conducted under the supervision of the Magic Association.
They were mad that we opened the gate, but I hear they really wanted to kill me since we closed it even though we succeeded.
And that's how the one-man court started, in a meeting room that could hold three hundred people.
There were heads of every department, along with magi who wanted the Tohsaka family's rights once I'd been sentenced. It was more of a circus than a trial.
'Oh man, I guess this is it for me. I should run to the Middle East where they're against the Association, or fight until the very end in Japan.'
I was determined and was even making my escape plans, but there were people that wanted to save me while there were people who wanted to kill me.
In the face of everyone's condemnation,
"Well. The carelessness of my apprentice is my responsibility."
The old man, who slightly outranked all who were present, appeared and nullified all the charges against me.
It's not that the he took the blame in my place.
It's give and take.
Out of everything he could have done,
"All right. Then I shall take apprentices. I will teach up to three students. All the departments are to select prospects in a conference."
he dropped a bombshell.
I mean, a long-missing sorcerer appeared, and said he'd take apprentices on top of it.
The whole place became a riot.
Completely forgetting about me, everyone ran to their departments, panicking over who should be selected.
And he came to me, who was standing there dumbfounded, and smiled.
"So an unremarkable parent produced a superior child. I expected the least out of Tohsaka, but you managed to reach it in just six generations."
And he said something ridiculous like that.
"W-What do you mean?"
I played dumb.
Because I thought he'd kill me if he found out what went on.
Sorcerers don't tell others about their sorcery.
My instincts told me he'd kill anyone who followed in his footsteps, without mercy.
But my enemy's no ordinary person.
He pats my head and praises me.
"Use the people of the Association. It's a stiff, conservative place, but they have the tools."
As expected from the great master.
The old man who traveled across many parallel worlds was a wholehearted guy.
The truth is, I can recreate the gem sword.
I comprehended the blueprint and the theory during that fight, so I can copy the sorcery if I have the needed material and time.
Well, I need a lot of money for it, so it's nothing I can accomplish in tens of years.
It's been a year since then.
Life at the tower knocked me around a bit, but like Sakura, I'm slowly expanding my territory.
Video: Two Years Ago (mirror)
" It's not a problem.
I haven't told them about it, and Kirei reported that he's just an ordinary person who got himself killed by getting involved. I don't know if we should consider ourselves lucky, but we're the only ones that know about him."
Kotomine must have sent a report posthumously.
The air tenses up.
After the incident.
Sakura and I were carried to the surface and managed to survive.
Rider took me to my house and replenished my magical energy.
My Magic Crest will keep me alive, even by force, if I still have magical energy.
I wasn't able to eat for a while, but I healed quickly.
Sakura suffered after-effects from her connection to Angra Manyu and from the fact that he was gone.
She didn't panic, nor did she get depressed.
She pretended to be all right so that he could come back at any time.
If she'd freaked out instead of acting like that, I could've done something.
But that's all in the past.
Time passes, and the days slowly change.
Sakura graduated, and she's saying she'll stay in this town a bit longer.
I'm going to spend my whole vacation here, and I have to fly back to London in a week.
Why did I come back to this place?
A year ago.
No, a lot of things happened two years ago.
My memory stops a year ago, but I was a frequent guest here until I graduated.
Is that why?
It feels like if I turn towards the kitchen, I'll see him there, cooking with a knife in hand.
An amateur magus who was involved in the Holy Grail War.
He actually won, and
Music: New Dawn
He's still alive and well now.
Shirou comes in to the living room, arms laden with groceries.
Of course, our eyes meet.
"Hey. Y-You seem to be doing well."
Crap, I'm about to burst out laughing.
It's totally obvious that he took a deep breath in the hallway and tried to act as normally as he can.
"L-Long time no see. You seem to be dumb as ever."
Wait, why am I panicking too!?
And Sakura's laughing at us for that!
"Senpai. Nee-san will just laugh at you even more if you try to bluff it out. Well, she's bluffing too, so it's even."
Sakura says something scary.
"Who's bluffing? Tohsaka's family, so it's natural that she'd be here. There's nothing special about it."
But he's loaded down with groceries.
What are you going to do with that? We can't eat that much, you idiot.
"Yeah. It was a waste to get nervous. He hasn't changed at all."
"Right. Senpai hasn't changed at all."
Oh. He's got that familiar look where he wants to say something, but can't.
"Eh. Whatever. More importantly, Tohsaka. Are you going to be eating dinner here?"
"Yeah. I'm already planning to sleep over."
"I see. Then you can rest. You must be tired from the long trip. I'll make dinner, so you can wait with Sakura.
I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about."
He goes into the kitchen and puts on his apron.
This has been the scene here for a year No, for half a year.
"Thanks. I'll accept your kind offer."
Oh, and welcome back, Tohsaka. I wasn't worried, but I'm glad to know you're the same as always."
"Yes, I'm back, Emiya-kun. I'm glad you haven't changed either."
And the master of this house goes to make dinner for the freeloaders.
I'll look forward to finding out how much he got back to normal in the last year.
"Oh, he seems well. I wondered what'd happen, but I bet nobody would notice now. There's no problem with school?"
"No. We were able to graduate together, thanks to you."
Then there's nothing else I can do.
Well, he didn't need our help in the first place, but I was able to come up with excuses for why he missed school for a year to deceive Fujimura-Sensei.
No, that's not right either.
Anyway, Shirou's body died.
That Holy Grail can't revive a dead body.
The Holy GrailIlya can only use the divine mystery called the Third Sorcery.
Ilya managed to revive Shirou's soul with that.
She revived his soul and gave him a body free of wounds.
You might not believe me, but this is the Third Sorcery we're talking about.
It's not just putting your spirit into someone else's brain and controlling them.
Once you give it a container or a body, the soul manifested by the Third Sorcery will take perfect form.
It's the genes of the soul, not those of the body.
Preserving Shirou's soul, Ilya revived him by inserting it into a container.
But it wasn't perfect. Maybe Ilya's Third Sorcery didn't match the original.
A few days after the cavern collapsed, the Shirou Rider found was just a bit different from the Shirou we knew.
No, she didn't find him, she picked him up no, it was more like she plucked him out.
I was surprised and wondered how it could be possible.
But if I think about it, the body that's cooking right now is being remotely controlled by his soul.
Memories, mind, and Magic Circuit are actually in the soul.
So the body's only a terminal to move around, and the command structure is invincible in that world.
Well, we experimented with a lot of things in the first half a year.
It's not like he'd grow if we watered him, and we weren't equipped to make a homunculus.
So we ended up selling the books at the Matou house and obtaining a body left by a famous puppet maker, leaving us where we are now.
Don't take this the wrong way. Shirou's as human as the rest of us.
He can go get surgery at hospitals, drink cold medicines, and die when he's killed.
Souls can be put into bodies to give them life, but the souls will be fixed to the body in exchange.
In short, he's like a Servant that can operate without a Master.
The only difference is that he's living in this age.
He will grow old and die of old age, and he cooks like he's doing now. He's the same Emiya Shirou.
"I see. But Senpai says it's fine as it is. The magical energy doesn't flow well, but everything else's better than before.
Um, I think so too."
The soul will overwrite the body no matter how good the body is, so there may be places that aren't functioning properly, and I don't think it'll get any better
Why are you getting embarrassed?
"Um Um, I think we're doing it too much, but my body's, um "
Sakura's body still has after-effects from Angra Manyu.
Even with the contract broken, she's still a Holy Grail.
She was connected to Angra Manyu, so she's still connected with the other side.
Vast amounts of magical energy are collecting in Sakura's body, and she has to periodically let it out.
It's because of that magical energy that she can keep Rider, even after the Great Holy Grail's destruction.
But she still can't use it all, so she must be giving the surplus to Shirou.
Shirou's current body has a very weak Magic Circuit, so he would return to how he was before without her help.
" Geez. It's a complicated situation you guys are in."
"Yes. We have a rocky road ahead."
There are lots of problems to living normally, but Sakura's constitution is a huge advantage if she's planning to live as a magus.
I wish they'd hold a magic tournament at the Association.
We'd easily win, so maybe they could just hand us our prize money. About five hundred thousand. Pounds, of course. And don't deduct income tax, because we're Japanese.
Crap, I'm beginning to feel like it.
We'll be able to do whatever we want after that. Full of happiness and hope.
I'll use the money to reproduce the gem sword, leave that crappy place, and come back to this town.
Then, we can
"Well, that's impossible. Slow and steady is always best."
I quickly give up on the idea.
I think it's too fanciful.
I like my life, and I'm looking forward to the changes in the future.
And it's not like we'll be apart forever.
I'm sure they won't lead an ordinary life in this peaceful town, with all the potential problems they have.
"Oh, really? You're pretty perceptive, Sakura."
I get up from the cushion.
I can't take things slow.
I can only stay here for seven days, after all. I can't skip a single one of these dinners.
"Shirou, I'm helping, so let me use the gas burner. I'll show you the skills I got in England."
I reject his protests.
I'm smiling more than I really mean to as I put on the apron that's prepared for me.
It's been two years.
I turn back to my younger sister.
Video: Return to the Spring (mirror)
"Are you happy, Sakura?"
Music: Turning Seasons 2
Her full smile is perfect.
That made my whole trip worthwhile.
The story in this town has ended, but our story is just beginning.
The end roll will come in the distant future.
It looks like it'll be another clear day tomorrow, and my vacation's just starting.
Let's look forward to the new day, the new future.
I can see us leisurely walking down the hill road.
Video: Credits (mirror)
Music: days (Fate ver.)