Part 80: Saber, sulking / Saber still acting strangely
"No. I think Ilya should stay here.
The Holy Grail War isn't over yet. I want to shelter her here until the end."
Music: Gentle Everyday
" ! Ilya, it hurts, it hurts !"
Ilya hugs me, but I get her off of mewell, there's no need to do that myself as Saber does it for me.
I, for one, am glad we have Saber here to cockblock Ilya.
"Of course! I will not forget what you did to Shirou ! You too, Shirou! Do you not realize that sheltering Ilyasviel will only bring you harm!?"
"Hey, why is that? Ilya doesn't have her Servant now, so she can't be dangerous. She's not a Master anymore.
More importantly, what will you do if she gets attacked by another Master after you abandon her? Ilya's life would be in danger, and the other Master would gain power."
Whatever she may say, Saber does understand that Ilya would be attacked by other Masters if she was left alone.
Look, Shirou. She's still a Master. I told you that a Master is a Master until they lose their Command Spell, even if they happen to lose their Servant."
Music: Tender Scenery
Drinking tea gracefully, Tohsaka interrupts the conversation.
"Huh? Hey, what do you mean by that?"
"I'm saying that one can make a contract with as many Servants as they like as long as they have a Command Spell.
If there is a 'stray Servant' that doesn't have a Master, and if a Master has enough magical energy capacity to take in that 'stray Servant', he can make a contract with as many Servants as he wants."
"W-What's with that?
Then a superior Master can form contracts with as many Servants as he wants?"
"Not however many he wants. Seven is the maximum number of Servants that the Holy Grail can call on, so seven would be the maximum.
But then, even an excellent magus wouldn't have enough magical energy to materialize more than one Servant."
"Even if they could, that would mean splitting a power of ten into two fives. So the abilities of the Servants would decrease, and the point of forming a contract with multiple Servants is defeated."
So if I formed a contract with Saber and Berserker, Saber and Berserker would both exist sharing my magical energy, so their abilities would considerably decrease.
So that means it's more efficient to choose one Servant to give magical energy to.
" Come to think of it, you said before that Servants can change their Masters. You were talking about this, right?"
A servant that loses their Master has some time before they disappear. So if they can find a Master looking for a Servant and form a contract with them, they'll be back the same as before."
"Yeah, so watch out for Rin, Shirou. She's still a Master, so she might kill you and take Saber or form another contract with a remaining Servant."
I won't be with another Servant. My Servant will always be Berserker "
I don't know what kind of relationship Ilya and Berserker had.
But I can tell that for Ilya, that Servant was special.
That's a surprise, and a pleasant one.
Ilya was cold-hearted as a Master, but she still valued her partner.
"Oh, but I'll take Saber if Shirou loses.
I won't let any Master other than Shirou win.
If Shirou loses, I'll win for him."
Ilya says so to Saber and Tohsaka.
"Oh. Yeah, that's okay.
I just want Shirou to win. Me winning and you protecting Shirou, it would be the same in the end anyway."
Ilya says things in a strange way.
Well, I can tell she wants for me to win, but why would she want that ?
Tohsaka must have found it strange too as she starts to think.
"Huh? Sorry, I wasn't listening. Can you say it again?"
"We were objecting to protecting Ilyasviel here."
"Oh, that? I think it's fine to just keep her here."
I'm surprised as well, so it's natural for the protesting Saber to freeze.
"R-Rin ! Are you mad!?"
"No. Thinking about it, the risks are the same. They won't change whether we leave Ilya by herself, keep her here, or let her be in the care of the church.
No, it's actually better if other Masters come here after Ilya."
"In your current condition, you won't lose against all the other Servants combined. That'll be a fast way to end the Holy Grail War, and that's what you want too, right Saber?
Well, that'll all change if you think you'll lose to the other Servants."
"See. So there's no problem with protecting Ilya.
And there's something I'm worried about too. Shirou's choice might have been a really smart one."
He was assuredly not actually being smart. It's just a coincidence.
Tohsaka then falls silent.
Saber must have accepted that as she reluctantly moves away from Ilya.
As for Ilya
"Hey. Are you really going to be training?"
She is right beside me, following me to the dojo.
Well, it's naturally boring for Ilya.
After all, training isn't a fun thing to watch.
Taking my hand with both of hers, Ilya tries to leave the dojo.
But I can't compromise on this.
"No, I can't, Ilya. Training is my daily routine, so I'm going to do it. I'm inexperienced as a magus, so I have to be able to fight a little at least.
And I'll be able to protect you if I train, right?
I'm the one who decided to protect you, so I have to at least do this much."
"Uh yeah, that might be true.
But I don't mind not being protected by you. You're my Onii-chan, so all you have to do is be with me."
Saber is watching us silently.
Her stare is rather painful.
She must not approve of Ilya yet, and I think she's acting too bluntly
Our eyes meet.
Good, I'll have Saber convince Ilya.
"There is nothing for me to say.
It is you that brought Ilyasviel here.
It is your role to persuade her and it is not within my obligations."
I don't know why, but could it be that she's really mad?
"Oh, so Saber understands.
You don't have to train. There are only weak Servants left, so you don't need to do this sort of thing.
Come on, Shirou. Let Saber take care of the other Masters and we can play outside."
I lose my balance and take a step towards the exit.
"Hold onno, let go of me, Ilya! I won't listen even if you complain to me. I won't skip my training and I'm going to keep on training.
I know it's boring for you, but I like it. If you don't like it, stay in the living room."
Even if I had to get her off me, there must have been a kinder way to do so.
" Sorry, Ilya. That was too rough of me. But I can't stop my training. I'm sorry to leave you alone, but can you stay in the living room for now?"
Ilya starts to walk away without saying anything.
She walks to the entrance and stops by the wall beside it.
"Umwell, I don't mind, but it's cold here. The living room has tea and snacks "
"It's fine because I said so! Heh, I won't leave Saber and Shirou alone together!"
Saying something strange, Ilya looks away.
It seems the cockblocking goes both ways.
" Well, okay. You can go back to the living room if you get bored."
I don't understand Ilya's point.
But I guess things are settled.
I take two shinais from the wall and turn to Saber.
"Then let's start. I might be off since it's been three days hey, Saber? You seem a bit spaced out, are you sick or something?"
"Huhum, no, that is not it, but "
Saber looks away from Ilya and shakes her head.
"So you're fine? Then let's start. Here's your shinai."
"Uh no, you can throw it to me! It will be a problem if you carelessly get too close to me. W-We are training!"
"That's what I'm saying. What are you talking about, Saber?"
I throw her the shinai.
After all, I've never gotten Saber.
I've never been able to close in on her, so she doesn't need to tell me to not go near her carelessly.
"Then let us start. It will be different from before, but try to stay calm, Shirou."
Looking at Ilya, Saber says so.
"It's fine. I won't mind who's watching once we start."
I ready my shinai and look at Saber.
In front of me is the golden-haired girl with a shinai.
That fixes my attention only on her.
"PhewhaaThat shows me again. You're really amazing."
Nodding, I drink water from a kettle.
Quenching my thirst and wiping my sweaty neck, my body finally calms down.
Music: Tender Scenery
"That's wrong, Ilya. I'm getting beat on now, but it was worse before.
Rather, you could say I did well today since I didn't get knocked out."
"I see. But is that really from your skill?
You lost your balance lots of times, but it seemed like Saber was overlooking it on purpose "
I noticed that too.
I don't know whether she was showing consideration for my body or whether she's not up to par.
But either way, Saber wasn't going full strength against me.
Well, she never goes full strength, but she still mercilessly attacked me when I showed an opening.
But today, Saber lacked that.
She did not perform any attacks that would have knocked me out even though she usually does.
" You think so too? So Saber let me off easy today?"
"Hmm, it didn't really seem that way.
Saber would ready her shinai to deliver the final blow, but she kept pulling back at the last second.
I wonder what that was all about. Rather than letting you go, it seemed more like she was scared of you or holding back."
She's scared of Shirou after all that badassery in the forest. I wish.
"Huh? Saber would never hold anything back.
If she had such compassion, I wouldn't have been hurt so much on the first day."
" Geez. What's wrong Saber? It won't be training like this. You weren't going easy on me, were you?"
"No, I did not go easy on you.
I was assuming the role of a fighter one rank above you as always "
Saber must feel today's training is strange as well.
" Yeah. I can't imagine you going easy on me, and I can tell you were serious.
But weren't you too conservative today? It's no good unless you come straight at me and smack me."
"S-Straight on ? But that will cause me to come too close to you. Our bodies might touch depending on the circumstances "
" ? We're fighting, so of course our shoulders will hit. After all, you used to tackle me away when I got in too close. Aren't you good at close range fighting?"
"What are you saying ? Well, you did it quite often.
Remember when we first trained? You drove me up against the wall.
When I said you were rather powerful for a girl, you said it was only natural for a swordsman."
Saber is standing there dumbfounded.
Saber really is acting weird today.
But I have no idea why.
It'll be a problem if Saber's sick or something, so maybe I should talk to Tohsaka about it later on
Is this a new training method?
She might counter-attack when I let my guard down.
Saber narrows her eyes seriously and taking a step towards me,
"Shirou, let us have lunch."
Says something rather unlike her.
I lower my shinai.
"Lunch? Is it time already?"
The clock says it's a bit before twelve.
She's right that it's time for lunch, but this is the first time Saber has suggested it.
We never noticed the time when we were training in the dojo.
It was the routine for us to take a break, and only notice that it was lunchtime when we felt hungry and looked up at the clock.