Part 66: Portrait / AssaultMusic: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
"I hear the school has closed down temporarily.
Even though nobody died, most of the students apparently cannot stand up yet."
" It's like severe malnutrition, so it should take a few days before they'll be able to move again."
But those are the lucky ones.
Transformation of the skin, necrosis of the tips of the limbs
I hear there were even students on the verge of blindness.
" I hear Taiga was taken to the hospital as well. Is it all right not to go visit her, Shirou?"
"Yeah, they said Fuji-Nee's just fatigued. They told me not to worry about it and to study at home."
I called the Fujimura house and checked on Fuji-Nee's state before I left the house.
I would like to go visit her, but I should hold off on that for now.
This route's nearly reached its comic relief quota, so they have to hold back.
"Then you are concentrating on the search? That is fine, but do you have any guesses?
I am able to feel the presence of Servants, but that is only possible if I am near them. I believe it will be difficult to find them without some sort of a clue."
"Yeah. If Shinji was hiding and not doing anything, it would be difficult to find him. But considering his personality, I don't think he'll stay quiet after that incident yesterday."
Shinji's not the type to stop when he's beaten.
He's the kind of guy that'll take revenge.
" Then you are saying Rider's Master will be constructing another boundary field ?"
"No doubt. Like me, he can't provide magical energy for his Servant. If he wants revenge on us, he'll have to collect magical energy first.
So it shouldn't be that difficult to find him."
"So we will not be looking for Rider's Master, but for the boundary field?"
"Yeah. Even if we can't perceive the Master, we can sense the boundary field if we get near it. And that will tell us about possible locations as well.
We just need to look for large buildings where lots of people gather."
Even Saber has grown to expect constant idiocy.
"Hey now. It's not like I'm not thinking, you know? I wouldn't say something like that if I wasn't confident about finding them."
Yes, I'm confident.
There's the matter of the boundary field, but there's more meaning in us walking around.
Just as I can't leave Shinji alone, I bet Shinji doesn't intend to let us go either.
"Let's go. If Shinji's going to construct a boundary field, it'll be in Shinto, and not over here. Let's go to each of the office buildings."
Calling out to Saber, I leave the Matou house.
"Is this all right, Shirou? This is Sakura's house.
Do you not want to talk to her since you are here? I believe we have time for that."
I'm certainly worried about Sakura.
According to Tohsaka, Sakura was just weakened. Fortunately, she didn't have any external wounds.
But if I can, I want to see her and take care of her since she has always taken care of me.
"I don't think I will. I can't get her involved in this war by going to see her before things are over."
And most of all.
I can't go and see Sakura if I am to fight Sakura's brother soon.
If the worst comes to the worst and I have to kill Shinji, I'll never be able to face her.
He's pre-emptively trying to stop himself from pussying out. I'm kind of impressed.
So I shouldn't leave any lingering affections.
I think that's the best course I can take, and I also believe it is for Sakura's best as well
Wiping the sweat off my brow, I move my heavy limbs.
Trying to calm my breathing, I stand still for a while and take a deep breath.
" ? Shirou, is there something wron"
As soon as Saber turns to me, she frowns stiffly.
"Shirou, please come this way."
"Eh hold on, that way's to the park. There are still some buildings we haven't checked out over this way"
"Please wait on that matter. This takes priority right now."
Something must have caught her attention.
She speaks strictly and pulls me towards the park.
Music: Whirlpool of Fate 2
"It's fine, so please sit down on that bench. I will listen to you later."
Stared down by Saber, I reluctantly sit down on the bench.
I hold my face with one hand.
My forehead is sweaty, and my breath is out of control even though I'm sitting down.
Why am I sweating in the middle of winter?
" That's strange. Was I this tired?"
As soon as I ask myself that, I finally realize the state of my body.
I'm not tired.
This is just my unhealed wound aching.
Ridiculous. No matter how deep the breaths I take are, I can't catch my breath.
My body is heavy and my legs refuse to stand up.
"It seems you have finally realized the condition you are in, Shirou."
Saber is angry.
It's only natural. It does no good when the one who suggested the idea of searching for Shinji is just resting on a bench.
"Sorry. I'll be able to move again soon, so just wait a bit."
"That is not what I am concerned about.
It seems it is useless to say anything to you."
I understand that Saber is angry.
I understand, but I don't quite get what she's so angry about.
"Hey, Saber. You have to be clearer, or I won't get what you want to say."
Please just rest there, Shirou.
I will keep you company if you do not wish to rest alone."
Saying that, Saber sits next to me.
The bench isn't that large.
Saber is sitting so close to me that I could touch her shoulder if I leaned over a bit.
Oh god, you're almost touching a girl! It's practically like you're having sex right now!
Music: Tender Scenery
"Heyno, hold on Saber.
We don't have time to rest. We didn't come here to play, we"
"We did not come here to play. Resting is part of the battle. If you have any complaints, please tell me after you catch that breath of yours."
"Uh you say catch my breath, but "
It's true that my body is tired and I can't breathe properly, but if you're this close, my heart starts jumping and
"Shirou, are you listening to me? You have been pushing your body all this time, so please relax and calm down for now. Your body will not rest if you are not calm."
"Well, so "
If she wants me calm, why doesn't she get away from me?
I don't know what Saber thinks, but for me, she's a girl of around my age.
Well, she's actually younger, but she's a girl nonetheless.
And on top of that, she's unrealistically beautiful.
I don't know what kind of a guy would be able to calm down with her next to him.
"T-That's not true ! I'm not disturbed at all!"
" Well, that is good but it seems you should lie down. Perhaps there is some place to rest around here"
Saber looks around.
Why is there a guy using his lover's thighs as a pillow in this desolate park?
It seems Saber is looking at the couple and thinking.
"Shirou. If you do not feel well, please lie down"
"I'm fine! I'll calm down if I stay still, so don't worry too much! You don't have to worry, so ignore me for a while!"
Looking away from Saber, I close my eyes so I won't see her.
Try to ignore Saber, who is sitting next to me. All I have to do now is to keep on breathing deeply and
The sky starts to cloud up.
It would rain soon, and the fire should soon stop.
I was looking up blankly at the sky with a body that was even having difficulty breathing.
There are only burned corpses around me.
I have burns all over my body and there's a bad burn across my chest.
My open chest.
I feel like I could grab my heart if I put my fingers into the inflamed chest.
Oh yeah, now that I think about it.
I didn't fall because I was tired.
My numb body wasn't kind enough to be able to rest just because it was tired.
I fell, because
I think my wounds made me unable to move my arms or legs.
So I was manly and did not panic.
I knew I would not be saved, and I wasn't scared because everyone around me had died the same way.
I just looked up at the clouding sky and watched myself as I grew thinner.
With my dazed consciousness, I thought to seek help as long as I was alive and I reached out my hands
"Yeah. There's no scar at all."
There's no scar on my chest.
That just means you'll be even more surprised when it opens up again. ...and again... and then Akiha will get mad.
I almost died because of lack of oxygen from the burn after all, and I didn't have any fatal wounds.
If I had taken something like that, I bet even Kiritsugu wouldn't have been able to save me.
No, more importantly
"Whoa, it's night already !? Was I asleep, Saber!?"
"Yes. You seemed to be sleeping deeply, so I did not wake you up. It seems the result is worth it. You look much better than before."
Saber is right next to me and answers as if nothing has happened.
" You're mean. Even if it was bad for me, you should have woken me up. I told you we don't have time to be resting."
"Hm, that's only in hindsight opinion. What were you going to do if I didn't wake up?"
"Let me see, it would not have been too different. The day has ended, and it was starting to get cold, so I was about to wake you up."
Saber answers simply.
This is no good. No matter how I think about it, she's right in this case.
" Well, I certainly do feel much better."
I get up from the bench and start to walk through the field.
There's no trace in the field of what came before.
No trace of when it used to be a residential district, nor any trace of when it was that red burning world.
It kind of irritates me that in spite of that, I saw that afterimage just by sleeping here.
"Oh, no. I just thought we should have rested somewhere else if we were going to rest. There are too many bad memories here."
"Bad memories ? Do you have some connection to this place?"
"Huh ? Oh, I must've not told you yet. I used to live here. It's ten years ago, though. But there was a big fire and both my parents and my house burned up. I was saved by Kiritsugu and became his foster child."
Music: The End of Reminiscence
"What ? Then you are "
"Yeah, that means I'm not Kiritsugu's child. And I guess I'm not completely unrelated to the Holy Grail War either.
I heard that this place was the final battleground in the last war. The one person who survived it became a Master, so I guess you could call it kind of ironic."
I walk through the field.
It's been ten years since that happened, but it seems this ground isn't fertile at all.
Maybe the regret of the dying people has seeped into this land.
"Shirou. Is that why you seek to prevent any victims?
Since you are a victim of the Holy Grail War, you do not want another victim like yourself ?"
"Ehwell, that's "
Now that she mentions it, maybe that's logical.
But strangely, I've never thought about it that way.
" I don't know. What you say is true, but I think it's simpler than that.
I was just happy when Kiritsugu saved me here ten years ago. There was nothing else, so maybe I admired him and wanted to be like him."
That's right, I was just happy at that time.
I can't put into words the emotion I felt when my request for help was granted.
But at the same time.
The happier I was, the guiltier I felt.
"But I didn't feel at ease because I was the only one saved. I was saved by my father, but no one else was saved and ended up like this."
Everyone wished for help, and I was the only one who received it.
Only I was saved,
And I was saved with the sacrifice of everyone else.
SoEmiya Shirou must take responsibility for it.
"But there's no way to take back something that's already happened.
If I want retribution for those that died, I should prevent what is to come.
I won't allow a disaster like the one ten years ago to repeat itself. I couldn't face the victims if that happens.
Well, I think my motive is something like that."
More importantly, we should continue searching for Shinji.
I feel better, so we should go to the buildings we haven't searched yet.
And there'll be fewer people around at night.
If Shinji wants to attack us, now would be a perfect time.
If we are going to make ourselves a decoy, the real deal starts now.
I don't think you can rightly call that a decoy any more than you can say the same of a tank.
"Let's go, Saber. Let's go back to the office district for now."
"Saber ? Did you forget something?"
"No, I just remembered what happened this morning.
When I said we should go and look for Rider's Master after you healed your wounds, you told me the order of importance was wrong."
Hm maybe I said that, but I don't remember the details.
"You said the same thing yesterday. I have felt it for a while, but I became confident about it then
That you have no intention of saving yourself."
Even stating that fact is a crime, she stares at me and declares so.
"You are putting others ahead of yourself. That is admirable, but you will regret it someday if you continue like that.
You should value yourself more, Shirou."
Saber walks past me.
"Oh shit, the intro's over, let's cram in all the shit we missed before it's too late!"
"Let us go. We are certainly putting a burden on you by being here."
Saber starts to walk towards the office district.
I try to call out to her, but I can't in the end.
"We have gone around most of the main buildings. Are there any other places to go?"
"Let's see, there's a factory a little way away. We should look there since people gather there as well. Well, I don't think a factory is Shinji's style, though."
Even as I answer, it's hard to look at Saber.
It must be because that conversation earlier is still affecting me.
Since Saber is acting like she doesn't care, it bothers me even more.
"How about you, Saber? Can you feel Rider's presence?"
" No, I do not. I have fought her once, so I should be able to perceive her if she is nearby"
A strange feeling pierces my heart.
A wave of magical energy that even I can feel.
There's no way Saber can't feel that.
"I know. So, are they near, Saber?"
"No, I do not think they are that close yet. But they are certainly watching. This magical energy is probably to provoke us."
They are watching us so that must mean they finally fell for the decoy.
If they're emitting magical energy so obviously, they must be trying to tempt us.
"So. Is this Rider's presence?"
My mind switches.
The awkwardness from before disappears.
"I shall follow the magical energy. Please be careful, Master."
I nod silently.
The murderous intent stinging my skin is coming from the office district, empty of people.
Not many people are walking through the roads, and the view isn't that bad.
No one looks suspicious, and if Shinji is anywhere, he would be ahead of us perhaps the park we were just in.
From the intensity of the murderous intent that even I can feel, perhaps we are already in the range of the enemy.
" Watch out, Saber. Something's strange."
" Yes, your senses are correct. I do not think they will attack us out in the open, but we should still be careful."
Nodding silently, we head to the park.
I'll ignore the oppressive pressure that feels like having a knife stuck at my neck.
Rider and Shinji are nowhere in the office district.
If they are going to attack, it will be in the park where nobody will see
I turn to Saber.
She rushes at me like lightning-
and deflects the attack over my head.
I look up.
In my sight is a large building, towering overhead as if to reach the heavens.
And clinging on its side like a spider is the figure of the enemy.
Long hair covering her whole body, and flexible white limbs.
The figure with the masked face is none other than Servant Rider !!
The figure clinging around the fifth floor looks at me and licks her lips.
I feel a freezing chill.
There's no mistake.
She came down from the top of the building to kill me using my overhead blind spot!
Saber, who jumped above me and deflected the attack, has instantly armed herself.
Her future change back into casual clothes is further proof that clothing was never the problem.
"Saber, she's !"
"I will follow her! Please stay here, Shirou !"
"Huh how are you going to follow her!?"
She kicks the ground.
The silver armor disappears from my vision in an instant.
If Rider coming down from the top of the building is ridiculous, so is Saber pursuing her just by jumping.
No, perhaps because they are Servants, normal logic doesn't apply to them.
Like Rider, Saber kicks the side of the building and charges at Rider like lightning!