Part 57: SwitchMusic: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
You just have to strengthen the glass on the outside."
She hands me an antique lamp.
I sit down.
I take a deep breath, holding the lamp in both hands.
Tohsaka speaks so easily, but I'm rigid all over with tension.
Even though I do it every night, the reality is that the success rate is below 0.1 percent.
Tohsaka says she'll study the extent of my strengthening to determine the level I'm at, but she won't be able to do even that if I fail at the strengthening.
That's no good. I shake off my idle thoughts.
I concentrate my mind on the lamp.
I just have to do as I always do.
The feeling of driving a burning metal rod into my backbone.
All I have to do is stick that incompatible burning nerve into my body and familiarize myself with it.
Once that succeeds, all I have to do is pour in the correct amount of magical energy for the glass and
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
I look up at Tohsaka timidly.
" As I thought. I thought this might be the case, but it really was."
Tohsaka's shoulders slump.
"Hm? What do you mean you thought so?"
"Isn't it obvious? I'm just dumbfounded by your lack of talent ! First of all, you don't have the basics down. Geez, I'm impressed you can produce magical energy with such a ridiculous method!"
" Tohsaka. Are you angry?"
"Of course! I'm amazed you've kept training with such basic problems, and I even want to kill your teacher for not correcting you.
Why are you taking such a long route !?".
" Hm. I don't get what you're saying, but don't insult my father. It's my fault that I don't have any talent, so my father has nothing to do with it."
"Of course he has something to do with this. If you take an apprentice, it's the role of the teacher to correct the student.
Well, you're right that it does no good to take it out on someone who's already gone, but still, your teacher got the first step wrong."
Still angry, Tohsaka takes out some kind of a can from her bag.
It looks like a can filled with candy drops, something foreign children treasure.
I've seen a lot of imitations in Japan as well.
That thing that has several varieties of candy, and the white one being the mint.
Haven't you talked about food enough already?!
"Hold out your hand, Shirou."
I put out my hand.
Tohsaka shakes the can and takes out a reddish candy drop.
Well, that's a picture to take out of context if I ever saw one.
I put it in my mouth as instructed.
" It's not sweet.
No, it has no taste actually.
And this feeling it feels more like rock than candy.
" Hmmm "
I forcibly swallow it down.
"Oh, ouch. My throat hurts. What was that, Tohsaka?"
Tohsaka says something outrageous.
"A jewel, why !?"
"I can't help it. I prepared some medicine too, but that sort of thing won't work if I want to fix you. So I decided I'd just have to open the switch with the strongest one I have."
"No, that's not the point ! Why are you making me swallow a jewel!? I can't digest something like that!"
" Hey, now. If you're going to worry about things, you should be worrying about something else. It's not a normal jewel, you know?
What I gave you just now is an enforcement tool that will let you find out about what you didn't know up until now. It should start melting right about now, so be prepared, or you'll faint."
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"Why are you telling me I'm gonna faint with"
Just as I say that
The abnormality hits me.
My body is burning.
The feeling in my limbs goes numb.
A lump of heat that can only be described as pain enters my back.
I have to concentrate my mind at my forehead and squeeze it, or I won't be able to stay standing.
"What is this?"
I know it.
I know this feeling.
This is a failure.
This is the reaction that happens in my body when I fail to construct a Magic Circuit inside me!
"It's all right. It must be painful, but it should gradually get better if you can maintain that condition. Well, the burning feeling will continue for about two or three weeks though."
"Plenty of time for me to make my move on Saber."
I want to answer her back, but I don't have the energy to do so.
All I can to is try with all my might to stay standing.
"Okay. The difference between a magus and a human is whether they have a switch or not.
Here we go again.
You should know that this switch is the toggle for the Magic Circuit.
See, there's an electrical pot that can boil water. A magus is just like that. And a normal person is a pot that can keep the water warm, but can't boil it.
"We are similar, but different.
The question of whether one has the switch or not is beyond the grasp of an individual.
When we are bornno, when we are made, we are separated into insulators and kettles. A person without the switch will never be able to experience magic.
So that means you have the talent. So if you make the Magic Circuit within your body even once, all you have to do after that is to toggle the switch.
You just have to press the switch and switch between on and off to produce magical energy."
I calm my breathing.
As Tohsaka says, it seems the situation won't get any worse if I calm myself down.
"You only have to make the Magic Circuit once. But you're trying to make the Magic Circuit from scratch and build it into you every time.
"I like inserting rods into myself "
"That's just a waste. If you establish it in your body even once, all you have to do is to switch to it.
Usually, a magus who establishes a Magic Circuit next receives training to switch to it.
But your teacher didn't do that. That's why you're building a Magic Circuit and risking death every time.
No, maybe your father made the same mistake as well."
I breathe out.
The feelings in my limbs slowly return.
"As you've trained the wrong way for a long time, your switch is closed. If that's the case, all we can do is to open it by force and let your body know that there is a switch."
"See, the jewel just now is something that forces the switch to turn on. So you'll be like that forever. If you want to return to your original state, you'll have to turn it off with your own power.
If you can do that, you won't need the jewel's help anymore. After that, you should be able to handle the Magic Circuit with a simple mental operation."
" I get that but "
Can't I do anything about the heat in my body?
And she talks about this switch, but what am I supposed to do?
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
Hmm, you're good at controlling yourself. Then maybe you can return to your normal state rather quickly.
The switch will automatically turn off as your body tries to calm down and tries to get comfortable again.
All you have to do is hasten that process with your will. See, it's easy, right?"
" No like I said, I don't understand at all.
You say a switch, but I don't feel anything like that."
"It'll be like that now, but you should be able to get a clear image eventually. It'll be like a button in your head. So all you have to do is switch it on, and you'll be able to open the Magic Circuit easily."
" I hope so. I just feel really sick right now "
"I assume so. You always shut your Magic Circuit after you used your strengthening magic, right?
It's the opposite right now and your Magic Circuit is open the whole time. It's like running full speed all the time, so it's naturally painful.
But that's an essential requirement to be able to call yourself a magus. If you're going to fight as a Master, toggling the switch will surely help you out."
" I know. It was a surprise, but I'm thanking you. You're right. If I can feel this switch thing, it will certainly be a bonus."
When he says it, it just sounds so incredibly gay.
" You understand pretty well. But there's no need to thank me. I'm just helping you because I'm in trouble if the person I'm cooperating with is weak."
Tohsaka looks away.
It must be because my body is burning.
Blankly, I think that the embarrassed Tohsaka is cute.
"Nothing. I just thought you're not honest."
" I see. You must have excess energy if you're able to say such things. I can continue teaching if you have that much energy, right?"
Tohsaka approaches me, smiling.
Hey, I can barely move my body right now.
You shouldn't be able to control your magical energy right now, but you'll be of no use if you don't get used to that condition.
"It's all right. I brought lots of lamps. I don't know how many times you'll screw up, but I won't let you rest until you succeed in strengthening."
Smiling, she hands the lamp to me, still barely able to move.
Whoa this is like telling someone with a 40 degree fever to walk on a long tightrope
Music: Tender Scenery
She clearly forgot who she was dealing with.
Tohsaka blames me with her glare.
" I'm sorry."
"My predictions were too optimistic. I never thought you would break all thirty.
Sorry, but that's it for today's training. There's nothing to use to measure your strengthening any more."
But I did try.
I tried hard with a body that's burning like I'm in a boiling kettle.
I tried hard, but it's just that the "strengthening" failed in spite of that.
" Um. If it's just the glass breaking, you can fix it, right? You fixed the broken glass window before."
"It's impossible. That was something that broke normally. This broke because it couldn't endure your magical energy. Remember that it's hard to affect something that carries the magical energy of another."
"Hm, I see."
"Yeah. Don't worry and go rest. I'll call it enough to have turned your switch on today.
Thinking of it like a light switch makes it a lot more funny.
I'll teach you the rest when you're able to control it."
and kind of dirty.
" Phew. I'm glad I can rest, but what will you teach me after this?"
"You can only use strengthening, right? You said that's all you can use, so then, you might be able to take it up to the next level and use 'transformation'.
Have you ever been taught about strengthening, transformation, and projection magic?"
I don't think I need to explain too much for transformation, either.
For example, you can't create a fire with an edged weapon.
That which attaches abilities beyond the normal effects is called transformation.
And projection I think was
" ? What was projection, Tohsaka? I remember my father talking about it often."
"You know about strengthening and transformation, right? Then I would think you'd naturally know what projection is.
Well, in short, it's magic that reproduces something.
It's not magic that elaborates on something that's already there.
Basically, it's magic that constructs something from nothing, so it's the hardest."
"Oh but magical energy is used only once, right?
So something made with 'projection' disappears quickly.
Comparing a 'projected' sword made with ten magical energy and a 'strengthened' sword with one magical energy, the 'strengthened' one is stronger.
You only need to work on something that's already there, so strengthening is more efficient.
In that light, projection uses too much magical energy, so it's not a magic that's widely used."
" Oh, I remember. I think my father was saying something like that. He said something about not doing it because it wasn't worth it."
"That's it. All right, let's finish up if you're done asking questions. You seem rather unsteady, so I'll at least take you to your room."
"Well done, both of you."
I don't even have the energy to respond.
I answer with just a nod and enter my room.
"How is Shirou, Rin?"
"Bad. He's really bad. He doesn't have the talent."
It's a merciless statement, just like Tohsaka.
Is it just me, or does this conversation make it sound like Saber asked Rin to give Shirou a 'test drive'?
Music: The End of Reminiscence
" But once I'm really able to use this switch thing, then the problem is only the procedure.
I'm worried about the future if I'm failing so much at the easiest magic of strengthening "
I murmur and start to put my magical energy into the plank I brought out from the shed.
A cracking sound.
The strengthening failed as I expected, and the wood has a crack in it.
" I can even see the structure inside of it, so why can't I control my magical energy?"
Tohsaka said I'm straining too much.
She also said it's fine with just a small amount of magical energy, so I should just think about enforcing the weak spots in the object.
In short, does she mean I should ease up a bit?
" I already know that without having to have her tell me."
The problem is, I don't have any way to ease up.
It would be great if there was some good way to relax and
Footsteps that seem to seep into the night.
This presence rudely approaches me for the second time.
" What? I don't have any business with you."
"I feel the same way. But it seems Rin is worried about you, so I could not overlook it."
The Day 7 repeat wouldn't be complete without another visit from sweet little Archerkins.
I throw the plank away, glaring at Archer.
And then, Archer picks up the plank as if he's interested in it.
"Strengthening magic, huh? But it sure is badly done."
" ! Huh, I know I'm just an amateur. I feel bad for putting extra work on your Master."
"No, that is not it. Even Rin is mistaken on this matter."
"Huh ? What do you mean by"
"Huh, work on something that is already there? That's aiming too high. You are not skilled enough to do such a thing."
He's saying what he likes when I'm letting him ! But he is so correct, I can't answer.
It's true that I'm unskilled, and it's my fault that I cannot succeed at the magic.
It's no good taking it out on this guy.
"What? You don't have the energy you did last night?"
"Don't tell me you can be satisfied with just a woman."
"Shut up. I just stopped talking because you were right.
It's all my fault for not being skilled enough."
I look away.
I don't know how he took it.
" Hm. Maybe you are unlucky with your teachers in a way."
Archer says so as if he's amazed.
"Huh ? That can't be true. My father and Tohsaka are good at teaching, so it must be me that's a bad student."
"That is why. For you, a magus that doesn't know anything would suit you better.
A genius cannot understand the agony of an ordinary person.
Rin is too good a student to realize the mistake of a dropout."
I don't get what Archer wants to say.
I don't get it, but to guess from his words
"I don't get it, but I think you're looking for a fight."
I'll take it right now, free of charge.
They're one of those couples that can only get in the mood when they're angry.
"That is a mistake as well. Emiya Shirou is not fit for fighting.
Because your fight is supposed to be a mental fight, a fight with your own self."
"Hm you're saying that a fight between magi is a mental fight, right? I already know that. But still, a fight has to be exchange of blows."
That's exactly what a fight between Shirou and Archer would be
"Geez. Saber will be in trouble if you are like that."
Archer looks down at me seriously.
In his eyes are things I haven't seen before real dejection and anger.
"Listen carefully because I will only say this once.
Look. Emiya Shirou has no chance of winning if it comes down to fighting.
None of your skills will be any use against a Servant."
That's something Saber said to me.
She said that no matter what kind of clever scheme I use, Emiya Shirou has no chance of victory in battle.
"In that case, at least imagine it. If it is an opponent you cannot match in real life, beat it in your imagination.
If you cannot beat it yourself, imagine something that you could beat it with.
" or someONE."
After all, that is the only thing you can do."
I should not forget those words.
I think that what this man is saying is something that should never be forgotten
" There is something wrong with me advising someone I need to kill. I guess the kindness of Rin has transferred to me."
Archer disappears suddenly.
Archer was just supposed to keep watch.
I bet he jumped back onto the roof where it's fit for keeping watch.
He always gets so hot after talking with Archer.