FSN HF Day 07 (EN)

Scene 00 Wandering cloud

When I wake up, my body has fully recovered.

My temperature is normal, and my limbs don't feel heavy at all.

"――――It's before six o'clock. I wonder if Sakura's awake?"

If she is, she'll probably be preparing breakfast.

I'd better get ready quickly and head to the kitchen, or Sakura will finish it herself.

"I'm going ahead, Saber. Come to the living room in a bit."

I don't have the guts to look inside her room, so I retreat after calling out to her.

It'll be troublesome if I see Saber sleeping.

"And my dad collapsed.

He was like, 'your father is sick in bed, so don't you think you should settle down?'

Isn't that rude? He makes it sound like I'm a wandering cloud."

Fuji-Nee complains while eating.

It seems Fuji-Nee didn't come over last night because her father collapsed.

"...? Senpai, what is this wandering cloud?"

"It's describing Fuji-Nee. It's an airy person without a definite character."

I answer without hesitation.

"You're wrong! A wandering cloud is an idler!

It's what you call a person who does nothing but go around town to mock people."

Sakura and Saber nod in comprehension.

I do not even need to mention which part they agree on.

"So, Sensei. Is your father sick?"

"Of course not. My family is famous for not getting sick. My dad sumo wrestled with one of the younger guys and hurt his hips."

"Sumo...? What is this 'sumo', Taiga?"

"Huh? It's kinda hard to explain in words. It's a type of martial art where you push, push instead of pull, push and push. You can't use weapons, and you can't use a fist. You also can't kick.

You basically grapple with your opponent and win by knocking your opponent down to the ground."

"...Hm. So is it a pure contest of power?"

"Yup. And you don't wear any clothes. You and your opponent grapple pretty much naked."


"Yup. Well, your weak point is covered by a mawashi. Oh, that's a sumo wrestler's loincloth, by the way. If you don't understand, ask Shirou about it. He knows more than I do."

Fuji-Nee says something absurd as she sips on her miso soup.

"I see. So, Shirou. What is this loincloth?"


It's easy to explain, but I'm a bit hesitant to talk about it.

I'm talking to Saber, and we're eating right now.

Why do I have to talk about loincloths during a meal?

"...I don't know. Sumo is out of my area of expertise, so ask someone else."

"You're lying! You have a loincloth too!"

"I-I don't! I had to do sumo because your grandfather made me, and I only borrowed one then!

First of all, that happened years ago!"

"Ahahaha, you're right. You kept losing because you were small back then. My gramps told you to do a different sport because you wouldn't give up until you won, so he made you start archery."


Fuji-Nee is laughing cheerfully.


Fuji-Nee is in high spirits this morning, so she's louder than usual.

"Hey, Fuji-Nee. It's almost time. You'll be late unless you leave here before seven o'clock."

"Huh? Oh, it's fine today. Morning club activities are cancelled starting today. ...Well, I still have to leave early because there's a teachers' meeting."

"Huh? The morning practice for the archery club is cancelled as well?"

"Yup. Oh, I see. You didn't hear about it, huh? There was an incident yesterday, and some people in the track team got injured during practice. but they got injured during practice. I guess it's because of lack of sleep, so morning practices will be cancelled for a while."

"...I see. But they cancelled all the practices because of one injured person?

Lack of sleep is that person's―――"

It's their own fault, unless...

"Fuji-Nee. How many people were injured?"

"...Hmm. It's between ten and twenty students."

"T-That many?

What about the people in the archery club?"

"Well, nobody in our club got hurt, but a few people looked tired yesterday.

...And it's been dangerous recently, right? We can't just ignore the mental strain it might be causing, so I guess the school's trying to decrease the burden. I don't know about the clubs being a mental burden, but it's true that they physically tire you."

Fuji-Nee shrugs and holds out her bowl.

"Can I have another bowl, Sakura-chan? I just want it half-full."

"Of course. You're not eating a lot this morning, Sensei."

"Yeah. My stomach is hurting because I know there's a lot of work waiting for me at school, so I don't have any appetite."

Fuji-Nee pretends to cry.


It seems the tiger at my house wants us to believe that two and a half bowls of rice isn't her normal serving.

"You're full of energy in contrast, Sakura-chan. You're on your second full bowl."

"I'm still growing. I get hungry quickly, so I have to push myself and eat extra."

Sakura puffs up with pride.


I don't know about that being part of the growing thing... But maybe all the gluttons around her are influencing her.

"I see. Sakura does not have sufficient strength as an archer. It is good to take in extra energy."

Saber nods as she keeps eating.

...Is it just me, or is she missing the original topic?

Scene 01 Sakura and lunch

It's past seven o'clock.

Fuji-Nee left for school, and we're cleaning now.

Sakura has time as well, so we relax and do the dishes.

With the two of us, it doesn't take long.

...I was keeping an eye on Sakura because of her health, but she really seems okay now.

It looks like her fever's gone, and she's full of energy.

"U-Um, Senpai...!

I-I have something to tell you, so could you spare me some time!?"


Sakura stammers a question, looking as nervous as if she were breaking into somebody's house.

"Sure. We still have time."

"O-Okay. ...U-Um, well. I made, um, some lunch for you..."

She looks down as she hands me a lunchbox.

It's not my usual lunchbox, and it seems Sakura prepared it for me.

It has a cute shape, and it's wrapped in vivid colors.

The taste is guaranteed if Sakura made it, and I appreciate the fact that someone made lunch for me.

"Uh, thanks. ...Wait, did you wake up early to make me lunch?"

Sakura was done with cooking breakfast when I came to the living room this morning.

I admired how early she got up, but it seems she actually woke up earlier than I thought.

"Oh, yes. Um, I woke up early, and I didn't have anything to do, so I thought I'd make lunch. ...Um, and I want to ask you about something――――"

"...? Why are you all formal? Do you need to consult me about something important?"

"N-No, it's nothing big...!

It's not, but...... umm... oh, yes! S-Senpai, you don't make lunch that often. You like cooking, so I'm wondering why!"

"...Sakura. It's not like I like to cook."

I don't know about a guy's hobby being cooking, so I wish she'd keep it as something I can do.

Oh, wait. We're talking about why I don't make my own lunch.

"Well. I know it's cheaper to make my own lunch. But the guys in my class crowd around it if I do make it. Half my lunch is taken away before I know it."

Sakura nods in satisfaction.

...To be accurate, it's the girls that take most of my lunch, but I don't say it because it's too pathetic.

"Yeah, so I only make lunch when I can use the student council room. Then, I can eat alone with Issei."

"...U-Um, Senpai? How about eating at the archery range in that case?

It's open during lunchtime, I can make you some tea, and it's quiet there――――"


Oh, that's a good idea.

The archery range isn't locked, and the club members rarely go there during lunchtime.

Mitsuzuri might be there, but she's not so cruel as to eat someone else's lunch.

"...Yeah, you're right. That's a good idea."


It is a good idea! Then, um――――"

"But I don't know about an outsider going in there. I guess we have to ask Mitsuzuri for permission."

"I-It's all right! The archery range is part of the school, so any student should be able to use it when the archery club isn't using it!"

Sakura presses her point.

"...Hmm, you're right. I guess it's fine if I'm not causing anyone trouble."

I nod to myself.


I don't know why, but Sakura is making a victory pose with a big smile.


...Hmm. Maybe some of Fuji-Nee's energy transferred to Sakura.

Scene 02 Lunchtime Interval

We walk up the hill.

There are more students around us than usual. It must be because there's no morning practice today.

"We still have time. It's been a while since we had a morning where we could take it easy."

Sakura is walking happily besides me.

I don't know why, but she's in a good mood.

"This is normal for me, but... I guess it has been a while since I went to school with you."

"Yes. The archery club practices every morning."

"But participation isn't required, right? Most people only go once every two days, so you should skip once in a while."

"What? U-Um, would you walk to school with me if I skipped practice?"

"...? Of course. We're going to the same place, so we'll be walking together either way."

"Oh, then―――

No, I can't do that. I'm not that good, so I can't afford to skip a day of practice."

Sakura sticks her tongue out at herself.

"...? Are you sure about that? Not to speak ill of anyone, but you're the best in your grade. You have great form, so I don't think there'll be any trouble, even if you skip a day or two."

"No, I'm still inexperienced. My thoughts trail off if I let my guard down, and I often don't see the target.

I'm lazy at heart, so I tend to slack off unless I push myself to train a little every day."


If that's how she feels, who am I to disagree?

I part with Sakura.

My class is on the third floor, and hers is on the fourth.

"I'll see you later, Senpai."

"Yeah. Don't fall asleep during class. People tend to get sleepy when they're full."

"Ahaha, you don't need to worry. I'm not full anymore."

Sakura goes up the stairs.

I wave goodbye to her and head to my classroom.

It's lunchtime.

―――Shinji is absent, and so is Issei.

...It seems Issei is being treated at the hospital after the incident at the Ryuudou Temple.

Now that I look around, I see that there are more people absent.


But the number of absentees shouldn't get any higher, at least.

The Servant that was sucking the life force out of people in this town has been eliminated.

There should be no more unexplained comas.

"―――Yeah. The people Caster harmed will get well and come back soon."

I pull myself together.

There are four Masters remaining.

Two, if you don't count Tohsaka and Illya. I can't let my guard down until I know what kind of people they are.


We speak out in unison.

I bump into Tohsaka the instant I go out into the hallway.

"Hey, what do you mean, 'oh'? Isn't that a rude thing to say? Or do you have a guilty conscience?"

"Hey, the same goes for you, you were surprised too.

...And what was up with the phone call last night? You were being selfish, telling me not to come and to come."

"Well... Yesterday was an exception. You skipped school the day after the Master at Ryuudou Temple disappeared. Of course I thought something happened to you.

...Um, I told you about the Ryuudou Temple, so it'd trouble me if something happened to you."


...I'm surprised.

Did Tohsaka feel responsible because she told me about it?

"I see. Thanks, Tohsaka. You were worried about me, right?"

"T-That's not true! I just want to know the details of what happened, since I gave you the information!"

"Huh? But I told you over the phone yesterday, right? Both Caster and her Master are defeated. There's nothing at the Ryuudou Temple anymore."


Tohsaka looks serious all of a sudden.

"What's wrong, Tohsaka? Did I say something weird?"

"―――Yes, you did. It's not that I don't trust you, but let me confirm. You're absolutely certain that you defeated Caster?"

"...Humph. Even I could tell that.

Saber completely eliminated Caster. ...Caster's Master is――――"

...He was already dead when we got there.

"...All right. There's something I want to talk about regarding that. Can you come to the rooftop?"

Scene 03 Rooftop Tohsaka Rin(II)

"Wha――――Caster hasn't disappeared?"

"Correct. You defeated Caster two days ago, right?

But the coma incidents happened again yesterday.

...The people who had their magical energy sucked out yesterday are in a worse coma than before."

"No way. We definitely..."

"I know. You wouldn't lie, and I don't think you made a misunderstanding. ...But Archer and I saw a shadow that looked like Caster when we went to the scene of the crime yesterday."

"......I see. Then Caster's still alive and collecting magical energy from all over town?"

"...I'm not certain, but it seems so. But I can tell that the atmosphere at the Ryuudou Temple has changed.

You two defeated Caster. But she still exists. That's all I'm sure of right now."

Tohsaka looks unhappy.

...This explains why she feels different from yesterday.

Tohsaka is probably getting doubts about this war.

A Servant disappears if its Master is defeated.

A Servant cannot avoid death in this world if it is completely defeated.

But Caster still exists, in spite of taking both these penalties.

She is a "violation" that completely overthrows the fundamentals of the Holy Grail War.

"―――I see. So, what do you think?"

"Huh? Me?"

"Yeah. You think it's strange, right?

I don't think you'll forfeit from the Holy Grail War. But don't you want to clear up this thing about Caster before you start fighting for the Holy Grail? You want to put off fighting other Masters until after that, right?"

"You're right.

This Holy Grail War is suspicious. It seems different from the one I heard about from my dad. I think there's something different going on where we can't see it."

...Different, huh?

I don't have the liberty to think about such a thing because the Holy Grail War itself is beyond my comprehension.

But if a legitimate Master like Tohsaka feels that way, it must be true.

"Then Tohsaka..."

"Yes. I won't follow the rules of the Holy Grail War until I'm convinced. It can't be helped if I'm being used, but I don't like not knowing the harm I may be imposing on others.

You don't like such a thing, right? So I'm not going to be fighting other Masters until I get this cleared up."

She declares her stance.

Tohsaka's eyes show her determination, and it seems to be asking for my stance.

"I see. Can I take that as a truce offer?"

"If you would accept it. If you won't fight me until this case is settled, I won't hurt you either."

Tohsaka asks me silently with her eyes.

She doesn't even need to ask.

"That's my line. I won't fight you as long as you don't come attacking me.

...And even if there comes a time when we do fight, it'll be fair and square. Until then――――"

I want to cooperate with Tohsaka.

"Then it's decided. I expected you to agree, but I'm glad to hear it all the same."


Tohsaka holds out her right hand.

I realize that she's wanting to shake hands, and...

"Y-Yeah. P-Please give me your best regards."

I try to suppress my face from turning red as I shake her hand.

"All right, our contract is set. Please give me your best regards too, Emiya-kun."

...Tohsaka firmly shakes my hand.

Her hand is soft, much more delicate than mine.



"...? What's wrong, Emiya-kun? You're sweating all of a sudden. ...It seems your heart's beating faster too."

"...!? N-No, it's nothing, I just have a cold. I'll get well if I eat! I'll get better if I eat, so let's eat lunch!"

I quickly let go of Tohsaka's hand.


Tohsaka's expression turns wicked.

"Ohhhh. I suspected it when we last met, but it looks like my hunch was correct. You seemed like you had some experience, but you actually don't, huh?

It's surprising, or should I say it's just as I expected?

...I see, I see. I seeeeee."

Tohsaka Rin stares at me from head to toe.

"W-What? Come out and say it if you want to say something. I-It's not good to stay quiet!"

"Noooothing. Don't worry. It's just that I just figured out a bit more about you. Oh, I won't say it, so you don't have to be frightened."

"...! I-I'm not frightened! Go ahead and say it if you want to!"

"Oh, can I?"

She grins.

Man―――how can such an evil smile exist in this world?

"...Don't say it."

"What, I can't hear you?"

"...I'm sorry. Please don't mention it. I think it'll be shocking if I hear it. I think I'll suffer more damage if I hear it from you."

"Really? Then I guess I won't say it――――"

Tohsaka withdraws with an expression of victory.

And the instant I regain my peace of mind...

"You're the type that masturbates to the girl you like, right?"

"Hey, you said it, you devil!!!"

Scene 04 The two

"So. I think people get mad when they're told the truth."

Tohsaka ponders as she eats my lunch.

She came to the rooftop empty-handed.

Which, of course, meant that she didn't have her lunch.

Then it was only natural for her to target mine.

"Just eat. ...Man, why do you have chopsticks when you don't have your own lunch? Do you always carry them around?"

"...? I just brought these with me when I left my classroom. You had your lunch last time, so I thought I'd have you share some of yours. I came prepared just in case you had boxed lunch."

"...Hey now. I think you're putting thought into the wrong areas."

Bring some food before you bring chopsticks.

"Don't worry about minor details. You brought two people's worth of food, so it turned out fine."


No, this isn't two people's worth of food.

It's just that Sakura made too much.

"...Oh well. It's true that I won't be able to finish it by myself. Oh, don't just eat the vegetables. Eat some meat as well. I'll get an upset stomach if I just eat meat."

"What? I don't want it because that's too sweet.

Don't tell a girl to eat meat. I'm keeping track of how much I've eaten, so if I'm not eating it, that's a sign that I've had my share."

"Liar. I bet you're the type that doesn't hold back when you go eat yakiniku. I'm suuuuuure of it. You'll be scarfing down beef ribs while I'll be munching on my salted fish.

You won't show any consideration for my money. In fact, you'll try to bankrupt me. And after you're satisfied, you're going to tell me, 'Heh, I went easy this time.'"

I try to get back at her for what she said earlier.

"...Well said, Emiya-kun. I find it scary that I can't deny that."



You're the scary one, Tohsaka.

"But this lunch sure is strange. There's a lot of food here, but the wrapping and all is really feminine. Do you like to cook, Emiya-kun?"

What a coincidence.

I think I heard the same exact thing this morning.

"...Well, it's not like I hate cooking, but Sakura made today's lunch.

Oh, Sakura is――――"

"...Tohsaka? What's wrong? Did you bite on a lump of sugar?"

"...Oh geez... I did it..."

Tohsaka sighs and puts away her chopsticks.

"Thanks. You can eat the rest by yourself."

Tohsaka gets away awkwardly.


Well, it's fine if she's full already.

I was nervous eating lunch next to Tohsaka. Now I can enjoy a little peace of mind.

I head back to my classroom.

It's a few minutes before fifth period starts, and the hallway is filled with students going back to their classrooms.

In contrast, the stairs are quiet and empty.

Not many students go to a different floor to eat.


I bump into Sakura.

She looks away awkwardly as soon as she sees us.


What could be wrong with her?

She was so energetic this morning, but she looks depressed now.


I call out to her.

But before I can say anything else...

"I'm sorry, Sakura. It was bad timing on my part."

...Tohsaka steps forward.

"Eh... No, you didn't do anything wrong. Even if Senpai and Tohsaka-Senpai are together, it has nothing to do with――――"

"You're misunderstanding. I went and invited him because I had to talk to him about something. And he didn't skip out on you, either. He just didn't realize it."

"...Hmmm? What do you mean? It's not like I made a promise with Sakura――――"

"You idiot. She made lunch for you, so that means she wanted to eat with you. It's natural for Sakura to be mad."


H-Hold on.

We never made any promise to eat together―――

"...U-Um, Senpai? How about eating at the archery range in that case?

The range is open during lunchtime, I can make you some tea, and it's quiet there――――"


...When I look, I see that Sakura's lunch is untouched.


...That's right.

What was I thinking!? Tohsaka's absolutely right to call me an idiot...!

"I-I'm sorry, Sakura! I'm so stupid...!"

"N-No, it's fine! See, it's not like we made a promise, and I just thought it might be good if we could eat together――――"

"It's not good! Let's go, Sakura! We'll still make it!

We can eat quickly in the archery range and――――"

I grab Sakura's hand and start running.


"There's no way you'll make it. What can you do in three minutes?"


Tohsaka's calm analysis stops me.

...I panicked because I felt guilty for breaking the promise, but Tohsaka is one-hundred-percent right.

"It's fine, Senpai. We have to go back to our classrooms, just like Tohsaka-Senpai says."

"Ugh... But Sakura..."

"Please don't worry too much about it. That was enough for me. Thank you."


I don't know what to say when she makes a face like that.

"Then I'll be going. You two will be late if you don't hurry."

Sakura goes up the stairs with her lunch in her hand.

"I'd better get going too.

Go to the Chinese restaurant in the shopping district after school. Wait there, okay?"


Tohsaka leaves a strange message before she leaves for her classroom.

Fifth period ends and the room empties out quickly.

It's not even two o'clock yet.

"...Phew. I don't feel like it, but Tohsaka told me to."

There's nothing I can do here, so I guess I'll go to the shopping district.

Scene 05 Shocking Mapo tofu

There's only one Chinese restaurant in the shopping district.

Koushuuensaikan: Taizan.

It's an ominous dungeon in the shopping district, with no windows to show you what's inside. Most first-time customers run away after seeing the place.

The manager, a favorite of the neighborhood association, is a strange little Chinese man nicknamed "small manager." Batsu-san has a tendency to fill every dish with red pepper.

In other words, the food's hot.

Really hot.

Imagine being stabbed in the tongue and then having salt rubbed into it, and you'll be on the right track.

This restaurant's infernal seasonings have given me a general distaste for Chinese food.

It doesn't help that the manager keeps adding "aru" at the end of every sentence.


And now I'm entering this terrible dungeon willingly.

The manager will bring a menu as soon as he sees me.

That'll be the end of it.

At the very least, I'll have to order something that uses sweet vinegar.

It'll turn out horrible if I order something like twice cooked pork, and mapo tofu is out of the question. That stuff is dangerous. It'll melt my tongue. I hear the judge of hell pulls out your tongue, so such awful food could easily come from there. The manager traveled abroad to train his cooking arts, so maybe he trained with the devils.


It's almost two-thirty.

I promised to be here right after school, so I can't hesitate any longer.

"――――All right, I'm going!"

I don't know why I have to get pumped up to go into a restaurant, but here it's necessary.

I'm not sure what Tohsaka was thinking when she said we should meet here, but I'm sure she's regretting it now.


"Hm? You're finally here, Emiya? I came early, so I have already started eating."

The priest is eating mapo tofu.


I'm speechless.

Why is Kotomine here?

Why is he eating mapo tofu that looks like a boiling pot?

And why is he eating it so fast?

He's sweating, but he never stops for a drink, spiritedly moving his hands as if they will never move again if he stops.

Actually... Is he just being stubborn? He's eating it way too fast.

Or is it that good? It looks as if the spicy oil and red pepper were cooked together for a hundred years just to be used in that dish.

Then this is bad. This restaurant and Kotomine are both bad.

That food has dangerous amounts of spice. It can't be explained any other way.

"What's wrong? Don't just keep standing and sit down."

The priest talks as he keeps eating.


I take caution as I sit across from him... Well, I'm not too sure what I'm on guard against.


I watch his movements.

...Amazing. He only has about two more mouthfuls left.

I watch in amazement when Kotomine suddenly stops eating.



Our eyes meet.

Kotomine watches me with his usual oppressive eyes and...

"Do you want some――――?"

"I don't want any――――!"

I reply with all my might.

The priest frowns a bit before he finishes the mapo tofu.


Did my reply disappoint him?

...The only one waiting for me is Kotomine.

It seems he asked Tohsaka to invite me here.

"...So, what do you want? Isn't it unusual for you to come talk to someone?"

"Well, I heard that you have already defeated two Servants. I came to commend you on your achievements."

...He's lying.

Even if it is true, he should have picked a better restaurant.

"I see. I'm sorry, but I think your words are good enough.

I'm not fighting for your sake. There's no reason for you to praise me."

"Hm. I guess there was no need for banal flattery.

―――Then let me cut to the chase. You heard from Rin that Caster is still alive, correct?"

"...Yeah. Caster still exists, and she's collecting magical energy from the people in town, right?"

"Yes. I do not know if it is related, but there was another Servant at the Ryuudou Temple on the night you defeated Caster.

I believe it to be Assassin, judging by the appearance and combat style, but I am not certain."

"Assassin... Then Assassin was also at the Ryuudou Temple? But Saber said..."

"She did not sense him, right? Assassin is not a strong heroic spirit, but their class has the special ability to conceal its presence. Covert action is their area of expertise. Even Saber should not be able to sense Assassin if he hides his presence."


Then that means Assassin was at the Ryuudou Temple on the night we defeated Caster.

Was he hiding near us, trying to find an opening to attack――――?

"...I understand. But why are you telling me all this? I thought the supervisor doesn't help one particular Master."

"I am merely sharing information with you. I have told you all I know. In exchange, tell me what you have experienced over the last few days. ...There is something strange about this Holy Grail War.

Something is different from the last war."


"If you do not wish to tell me, I will not force you. Just take my words as a warning."

"...No, I'll pay your price. After all, you came out and gave me information that I needed."

"―――Hah. You have a strong sense of duty as always, Emiya Shirou."

The priest smiles in satisfaction.

...Heh. It seems he knows every move I'm going to make.

But I'm not going to fall for his tricks that easily.

"I'll talk. But first, I have a question.

How do you know such a thing?

You wouldn't know that Assassin was at the Ryuudou Temple unless you had a Servant."

No, he shouldn't know even if he does have a Servant.

Neither Saber nor Archer, Tohsaka's Servant, could tell.

"It is simple. My Lancer was defeated by Assassin at the temple. As his Master, I needed only retrieve his last sight."


The priest simply states something absurd.


"I said that I am also a Master. You said it too. That I would not know unless I had a Servant.

Well, you are certainly correct."


"But that ended last night. Lancer has been eliminated, which means that I am not a Master. I am no longer your enemy.

Well, is that all you want to ask me? Then it is your turn to talk. Tell me who you met and what you saw over the past couple of days."

The atmosphere becomes heavy in an instant.

He doesn't allow me any questions.

He wants answers.


...I have a lot of things I want to ask him, but I have to answer him first.

In as much detail as possible, I recount what happened to me after making my contract with Saber four days ago.

...The story lasts for about thirty minutes.

I haven't done much as a Master.

The information I provided is mostly useless.

But the priest takes great interest in Matou Zouken.

"Matou Zouken―――I thought he had withered away, but he is still active? I guess it is true that he is a blood-sucking monster."

"Huh...? That old man is a blood-sucking monster...?"

"Yes. The magecraft of the Matou family is absorption. I hear that Matou Zouken, a magus from six generations back, was a prominent bug user."


Using bugs... That doesn't mean his familiar is a bug, right?

Or... another way to use bugs is...

"Hold on. By bug user... do you mean like guys who use bugs as a medium for poison? Like, putting in hundreds of poisonous bugs in a pot, and using the last surviving one as a curse...?"

"No, that is wrong. From the start, cursing is outside of the Makiri's area of expertise.

The results of their magecraft always return to their bodies.

Cursing others would only result in mutual destruction."

"...Then he's using bugs as familiars?"

"Yes. Matou Zouken is merely a monster who feeds on the blood of others.

I hear that he kept his youth by transfiguring his body and sucking blood, and that he has lived for a few hundred years―――but...

Based on what I heard from Rin's father, he is now on the verge of death, and can no longer walk in broad daylight."

"...He can't walk in broad daylight? ...Well, I did meet him both times at night――――"

He sucks on people's blood to prolong his life.

And he can't walk under the light of the sun. That's just like――――

"...Kotomine. Is Matou Zouken a vampire?"

"Heh. He is more like a parasitic insect. His nature and personality are like those of an insidious slug."

He insults Zouken.

It seems Kotomine really hates that old man.

"...You said he's been alive for a few hundred years. Then was he ever a Master?"

"No, Matou Zouken was never a Master. He is like a counselor for the Matou family―――but he is a monster that lived for hundreds of years. He might have devised a plan to become a Master in a way we do not know of."

"...Then the one who made a contract with Caster after her Master was killed is..."

"Who knows? But he is not someone you can let your guard down against.

If he has taken the stage, he must believe his victory is certain. That means that the Matou family's Master has the support of the worst devil in Makiri history."


Shinji said he hasn't given up.

And he has the backing of Matou Zouken.

He lost his Command Spell, but that old man might be able to give him a new Servant.

"You have been a great help. All these abnormalities make sense if the Makiri elder is in action. As the war's supervisor, I shall try to suppress the damage."

Kotomine nods to himself and relaxes.

"Supervisor, huh? You're not one to talk when you were secretly a Master until yesterday."

"Do not put it like that. I have no wish. I obtained Lancer because I wanted to give the Holy Grail to a more appropriate desirer.

But that is over now. It is for the remaining Masters to decide.

Well, personally, I would like either you or Rin to obtain the Holy Grail."


...I frown.

The priest is serious.

He just said that he doesn't need the Holy Grail.

In fact, he clearly told me that he wants either Rin or I to obtain it.

"...Why? You became a Master because you want the Holy Grail, right? Don't you have a wish you want granted?"

"Let's see. I do not have a wish, but I do have a goal. My goal is not a serious matter, and it is meaningless even if I achieve it myself."


A goal that is meaningless if he achieves it himself...?

"What are you talking about? If you want to tell riddles, find somebody else."

"Consider it a friendly warning. We are the same, you and I. As we do not have clear wishes, we cannot seek salvation.

I simply thought it would be easier for you if you quickly realized it."


I feel like he has grabbed my heart in his hand.

The priest's words seep into my mind like a curse.

"Kotomine, you――――"

I constrict my wavering eyes and glare at him.

And then――――

"Here's your mapo tofu-aru!"

―――The second and third plates of mapo tofu are placed on the table.


Kotomine picks up his spoon.

I'm sure of it.

He ordered more servings beforehand.



...Our eyes meet.

Kotomine stares at me with oppressive eyes and...

"――――Do you want some?"


I answer him with a straight face.

I leave Ensaikan: Taizan.

...It's because Kotomine had no intention of talking anymore and started eating the mapo tofu.

As I leave the restaurant with a heartburn...

"―――Emiya. I have withdrawn from the war, but you and Rin are still Masters. Zouken is insidious, so be careful."

...The priest warns me as if it is someone else's problem.

Scene 06 Re-contract

Wind enters the damp room.

From the opened door come two sets of footsteps.

One kicks the ground in a hurry, and the other is being dragged in.

"――――Come on, get started."


A heavy sound echoes through the room.

It is the sound of Matou Shinji, the one who came to this room in a hurry, throwing in the person he brought with him.

The floor of the secret room is wriggling around.

The worms must be active right now, as leech-like insects are writhing all over the floor.

Matou Shinji knows what these worms are.

These are lust worms that his grandfather, Matou Zouken, raises that love human blood, semen, and marrow.

Once swarmed by these lust worms, men will have their spine crushed, brain sucked, and will be made into a cripple.

The worms will transform when attacking a woman, so that they are only able to violate her nerves. They will spread their tentacles all over her body and devour her spirit.

The lust worms will wet the woman's skin with their mucus, excite and destroy her central nerves of pleasure, and satisfy their hunger.

It must be their instincts, as the worms seem to love the woman's womb. They do not eat female flesh, but seek the organs within them.

They give the woman huge enough orgasms to fry her brain, and they go into her body to devour her placenta.

Unwilling to eat human flesh, the worms have only one way to get what they desire.

As a result, the woman's mind and body are completely violated and destroyed.

The name "lust worm" must come from such characteristics.

―――Matou Shinji throws the person he dragged here into the pool of such worms.

"Get started."

He talks from the top of the stairs.

Nobody, man or woman, can survive after being thrown into a swarm of lust worms.

But this person is an exception.

The worms slither away from the person.

Are they scared, or have they lost interest?

The worms do not approach the figure.

They merely reflect the light around the figure with their mucus.

"Make a 'book'. You still have two more left."

The only reply comes from the worms.

The darkness undulates as if liking the order.

"I'll let you go back if you do as I say. That's easier for you too, right?"

There's no reply.

The only sound in the room is the annoying cry of the worms.

"......! Look, fighting is the only way. If you oppose me any more――――"

Matou Shinji threatens to reveal everything.

The person on the floor trembles.

That is not allowed.

The old man who Matou Shinji calls master will not allow it.

But this person knows Shinji is not the type to follow his master's orders.

He is frantic right now.

Anyone that gets in his way is his enemy.

The old man forced him away from battle out of concern for his life, but the concern itself is an unforgivable insult to him.


A change occurs after a long silence.

A figure appears in a flash of light.

The worms flee to the corners of the room like an ebbing tide.

Even the worms understand how powerful the materialized woman is.

"―――Heh. About time."

Long hair and a slender, tall figure.

The one clothed all in black is the Servant called Rider.

"――――Let me confirm again, Shinji.

You are using me solely for your protection. Correct?"

The black Servant asks.

She is looking up from the bottom of hell, from the preserve of worms.

"―――Yeah. It's dangerous out there, so I want a reliable guard."

Matou Shinji does not hide his joy of becoming a Master again and spits out words covered with lies.

Scene 07 Afternoon Way home


It's almost four o'clock when I get out of the restaurant.

I have no business in the shopping district, so all that's left is to go home, but...

"Matou Zouken... Shinji and Sakura's grandfather, huh?"

I have a bad feeling about this.

I don't feel like going straight home, so I decide to take a detour.

Scene 08 Assault of the small girl


It's almost four o'clock when I get out of the restaurant.

I have no business in the shopping district, so all that's left is to go home.

"――――, ――――"

...But Kotomine's story is not something I can ignore.

Caster is still alive.

People are still falling into unexplained comas.


"...! ――――, ――――!"

I'm still surprised by how calm I was when I found out Kotomine was a Master.

...Come to think of it, I never got along with him.

I must have known instinctively that we would be in opposition.


...In any case, Kotomine lost his Servant.

There are three Masters remaining now.

Assassin's Master, who seems to be at the Ryuudou Temple, and Archer's Master, Tohsaka.





Berserker's Master, the girl in front of me right now――――!

"I-Illya...!? W-Why did you suddenly jump on me!? You surprised me...!"

"Hey, it wasn't sudden! You're the one who didn't notice me when I was calling out to you!"



I thought I heard something, but could it be...?

"...Oh man. Have you been following me ever since the shopping district?"

"Yup. You were walking with a difficult expression.

I called to you from behind so that I wouldn't bother you, but you just ignored me and kept on walking."

"Oh. Well, I was thinking, so it's not like I was ignoring you..."

"And you didn't come to the park either. I was waiting all this time."

Oh... she's right.

We have a tacit understanding to meet there in the afternoon.

How could I have forgotten just because I was talking with Kotomine――――!?

"...Sorry, I forgot about it. I apologize, Illya."

"Humph. I won't forgive you that easily. I'm really mad."

Illya glares at me.

...Hmm, what should I do?

I can't blame her for getting mad, since I did forget our promise and make her wait.

I have to show her my sincerity, so――――

Scene 09 Cinema-Illya(III)

As long as I've broken my promise with her, all my explanations will be excuses.

I have to do something to earn her forgiveness, but I don't know what will please her.

Then―――why don't I do anything she wishes, like a Servant under a Command Spell?

"Why are you silent? I won't be deceived by that face. I'm not going to apologize if you're not either. If you don't like me, then I'll――――"

"―――I've decided. A Servant. I'll be your Servant just this once in compensation for breaking my promise."

"...Turn you into a doll... Wait, a Servant!?"

"Yeah. There's nothing I can do that will keep my promise, right? So I'll obey you just once. Wouldn't that make you feel a bit better?"


―――No, you're lying! You didn't come to the park. A verbal promise ends right away, so I won't trust your words."

"I know. That's why I'm going to obey you, like you used a Command Spell. You'll only be able to use it once, but I won't break my promise with you, no matter what. Will you trust me if that's the case?"

"T-Trust you...? But I don't have a Command Spell I can use against you..."

"No, but I'll keep my promise. There's no contract or Command Spell, but I'll treat it like an order from a Command Spell.

We're both Masters. I swear on my Crest that I won't betray something I recognize as a Command Spell."

I swear while looking Illya in the eyes.

The silver-haired girl gasps and...

"...Will you really do anything I say?"

...Stares back at me uneasily.

"Of course. It's a Command Spell we're talking about. I'll do anything, as long as it's possible for me to do."

I reply to her wary gaze with a big smile.


A long silence.

Illya averts her eyes and clenches her fists.

"......Okay. Then, I want......"


Did I mishear her?

It's a Command Spell we're talking about here, but her wish is a small one.

"Illya...? Hold on, it's a Command Spell. I'm going to do anything you say. Are you sure that's all you want?"


"Don't you have anything else? That's too easy. You don't have to hold back, so give me a better――――"

"I-I'm not holding back! You liar! You said you'd do anything!"

"Uh, but... is that really all you want!? Because such a trifling matter..."

...It's something I'd easily be able to do, even without a Command Spell forcing me.

"...It's not trivial. I've always wanted to do something like that. So that's what I want from you right now, Shirou."

Her face is all red, and she's trembling out of fear of getting rejected.


There's no way I can question her now.

No matter how trivial it may be, it's her wish.

Then―――I have to protect her as her knight.

"All right. I'm sorry for saying such a stupid thing.

―――Let's go, Illya. It's a small shopping district, but it should be fun with the two of us."

I can feel my face heating up as I say the embarrassing words.

My face is turning red.

But I hold my hand out to Illya without trying to hide it.

Illya's wish really is trivial.

'Take me shopping.'

It's not a big wish.

She asked for an everyday event.

...I don't know how much meaning her wish held for her.

We walk through the shopping district not like Masters, but like siblings.

Illya runs through the familiar scenery with lit up eyes.

Seeing her high spirits lifts my own.

Illya walks on with a carefree smile.

Her merry attitude makes me wish this time would last forever.

―――But I finally realize.

She runs as if dancing, never ceasing her smile.

But there's no happiness there.

She's smiling desperately because she's sad―――and because she doesn't want this dream to end.

"Come over here, Shirou! The coffee's gonna get cold!"

A hot can must be interesting for her, as she runs to the park with both our drinks in hand.

The end comes, no matter how much I wish for this not to end and no matter how much I bite my lips for her to not push herself.

The shopping district here is small.

No matter how slowly we take it, we can work our way through the whole place in about an hour.

"We're here! We're at the final station.

You can rest now, Shirou. Thanks for all the work until now."

Illya turns to me.

I sit down on the bench, thinking that she must want to rest here.


Even though she suggested it, Illya does not sit down.

"Illya? Aren't you sitting down?"

"Here's your drink, Shirou. You get coffee, and I get sweet red-bean soup."

Illya takes my drink from her pocket and hands it to me.

...The only item she asked me to buy her was her drink.

"But how did you know about sweet red-bean soup? They don't have it back home, right?"

"Right. It's the first time I've ever seen it. I was told I shouldn't be able to drink it because it's too sweet."

Illya takes a step, smiling.

She twirls to the middle of the park.


"I'll lift the Command Spell here. It was only a short while, but thanks, Shirou."

Her voice is clear.

Smiling resolutely, Illya announces that her dream has come to an end.

"Wha――――'thanks'? Why? It hasn't even been an hour yet. We can go to Shinto if you're bored with the shopping district. That place is far better than..."

"It's fine. This is the last stop, after all. It was fun, but the shopping ends here. The sun's going to set soon, so let's go back to our previous relationship.

I'm a Master who came to kill Shirou, and you're fighting me for your own good. Our relationship was set in stone before we met."

How can I respond to that?

Illya yearns for ordinary life more than me, but she casts away her wishes far more readily.

"―――I see. Then when we leave this park..."

"Yes, we'll be enemies. If we meet again during nighttime, we'll have to continue the fight.

If you don't want me to kill you, you'll have to kill me first."

I stop my breath for a second and look up at the sky.

―――The sky is gray.

The happy time quickly ended, and the town is covered with a heavy canopy.

Even though I wished for this time to last forever, I knew it was going to end like this when I realized this is only a painful experience for Illya.

The girl said this the farthest end.

The final station.

Illya keeps smiling innocently in this place without destination or backtrack.

"―――Wow! It's snowing, Shirou!"

Her lively voice catches my attention.

A distant scenery is in front of me when I look back at the park.

I doubt for a second, thinking it's an illusion.

It's not because of the snow, but because of the dancing girl.


The snow must be temporary.

It looks like it'll stop soon.

...Within the indistinct winter, Illya is completely surrounded in white snow.

The silver-haired girl is playing in the temporary snow as if loved by winter.

"Aha, the snow in this town is warm. This is the first time I've seen normal snow."

I don't know what's so fun, but Illya keeps twirling around.

"You're energetic. Do you like snow, Illya?"

"Yeah. I don't like cold things, but I like the snow. It's kind and like my mom. I was praised that my hair is white and feminine."

She makes a big smile.

By watching her, I can tell who praised her.

"It's beautiful. So it snows in the land Kiritsugu used to live in, huh?"

Her smile isn't directed at me.

...Illyasviel von Einzbern.

The white girl that came to kill my father.

Why she was after Kiritsugu, why she wants to kill me...

...These things I already know.

The man that betrayed Einzbern.

Kiritsugu abandoned everything and started living in this town.

I, an unrelated child, pursued him as his son.

―――I didn't learn about all the sacrifices that made this life possible until I became a Master.

The snow keeps falling as if to hide Illya.

The girl from a distant foreign country says goodbye with a smile.

"Good-bye, Shirou. I'll play with you again if I ever see you walking around alone!"

The white girl leaves the park with an innocent smile.

As though her presence was what sustained it, the snowfall slackens and dies.

A temporary illusion.

I brush off the snow crystals that never had a chance to pile up and leave the station of the farthest end.

Scene 10 Mistake

It can't be helped if I forgot about it. I'll have her forgive me.

"I'm sorry. I met somebody who I didn't expect, and I forgot all about our promise. I'll be more careful next time, so please forgive me."

I bow my head in apology.

"...I see. You try to cover for yourself with simple words? I thought you were different from Kiritsugu, but you're the same after all."


"No, that makes it even more fun for me. I'll turn you into my toy, just as I planned."


I feel a chill.

Illya's eyes emit murderous intent, just like the night we met for the first time.

"See you again, Onii-chan. I'll let you go today, but you'll have to be careful the next time we meet."

Without waiting for a response, she turns and dashes off.

"Hey, Illya...!"

I run after her, but I lose sight of her.

"...I guess I angered her."

...I failed.

I should've put more thought into it before I apologized to her.

"Man. Either way, I have to come up with a plan before I see her again."

I don't want to be on bad terms with Illya.

I'll come up with some way to make it up to her――――

Scene 11 Homesick-Illya(III)


I made her wait out here in the cold, so the least I can do is help her warm up again.

"I have a proposition, Illya."

"What? I won't fall for cheap words."

"Right. That's why I'm going to apologize to you with my actions instead.

Do you want to come to my house? I can treat you to some hot tea and snacks."

"Huh――――you mean your house!?"

"Where else? There's no one home―――well, Saber's home, but I won't let her attack you.

I think drinking tea at home is good once in a while."

"Hm... It might be good, but... Can I really go to your house?"

"Of course. Besides, you showed me your castle the other day. It's my turn today."

"......Yeah. You did say that."

She sounds like she's trying to convince herself.


"Can I really go to your house? I came to kill you and Kiritsugu. Can such a person be allowed to enter your house?"

Illya asks me emotionlessly.


I don't know how much meaning was put into those words.

The Einzbern girl who came to kill my father.

Her reason for pursuing Kiritsugu, her reason for wanting to kill me...

...These things I already know.

The man that betrayed Einzbern.

Kiritsugu abandoned everything and started living in this town.

―――I didn't know about all the sacrifices that made this life possible until I became a Master.

Illya should not forgive Kiritsugu, and she really must want to kill me.

I should invite her to my house despite that fact... no, more so because.

"―――Yeah. This Master business doesn't matter right now. I just want you to come over."

I answer her while looking straight into her eyes.


Illya gasps, looks at me in astonishment, and...

"――――Okay! Thanks, Onii-chan!"

She hugs me with a big smile.

"―――All right. Stay here for a bit, Illya. I have to go convince Saber."

I roll up my sleeves and glare at the entrance.

"Okay, go ahead, Shirou! Good luck!"

Illya waves her hand and cheers me on.

All right!

I have to persuade Saber no matter what.

"I refuse."

Well, that didn't take very long.

"―――! Well, I understand how you feel. I know what you want to say.

You want to tell me it's suicidal to invite Berserker's Master into our house, right? I understand, I really do. But set that aside for a moment――――"

"No, you do not understand! It is Illyasviel we are talking about! A Master of her degree should easily be able to detect the weakness of this place! It should be easy for her to destroy the boundary field! But you want to invite her in!? This is not just inviting in your enemy! You are about to drink poison out of your own will!"

"...B-But Illya promised me she wouldn't do anything. And she doesn't have Berserker with her. She said we won't fight until nighttime. Illya's just a girl, so don't get angry about such a trifling matter."

"Her gender does not matter! First of all, what were you doing with Illyasviel behind my back!? You were almost killed by her. And you are showing concern for her? You are not good-natured, but just plain stupid!"

"Ugh... But Illya's a good girl once you get to know her.

She just doesn't know good from evil, so we merely have to teach her what's good and bad..."

"You are too optimistic! Are you simply taking her at her word, Shirou!? Her family exists only to obtain the Holy Grail. She will break her promises to you without a second thought!"

"...! T-That's not true! You're going too far, Saber. Illya is Illya. I don't know what these Einzbern people are like, but don't treat her like them!"

"...... That is certainly true. You are correct, Shirou."

"―――! Saber, then..."

"Well, it did not sound convincing when you suggested it in such a quiet voice."

"Uh, um..."

...Well, it's just that Saber was that mad.

"...I understand. If I continued to protest, you would likely use your Command Spell. I shall trust her, as you have trusted her."


"But I will not see her. I do not think I can stay composed in front of her, and I am sure she will be on guard if I am there."

"Y-Yeah, you're right. Then what are you going to do?"

"I shall stand by in the guest room. I shall quickly come to you in case of an emergency, so please do not worry."

"...Okay. I'm sorry, Saber, but this is..."

"I know. I am the one who told you about Kiritsugu and the Holy Grail War. I should have been prepared for this."

Saber lets out a sigh and goes to the guest room.


...I see.

Saber was my father's Servant in the last Holy Grail War.

Then―――it's natural for her to know of the relationship between Kiritsugu and Illya.

"Hello. So this is Shirou's house."

In contrast to her energetic voice, Illya enters timidly.

"Let's have some tea first. I'll show you the living room, so follow me."

"Okay. Oh, this hallway has a wooden floor. Your house is Japanese, just like I heard."

Illya looks around as she walks.


I guess this Japanese-style is unusual for her since she's living in a castle.

"Here you go. I thought about making English tea, but that's boring and I'm sure you have better ones at your place. I made some Japanese tea, so tell me if it's too bitter and I'll water it down for you."

I hand her the cup.

I used the best tea I had, so it should taste good. The only potential problem is that it might be too bitter.

"Oh, thanks, Shirou."

She sits Japanese-style and nervously takes a sip.


Illya freezes.

...I thought so. I was trying to be considerate, but I guess milk tea would've been better.

"I'm sorry. It's bitter, right? I'll go make another one, so you don't have to drink it."

"Eh―――no, that's not true. Um, it was very delicious."

I don't know where she learned the manners, but Illya bows.

And she slowly starts to sip on the tea.


...Well, if she wants to drink it, I shouldn't stop her.

The Japanese snack, on the other hand...

...Seems to be well-received, so I'll sit here and keep her company.

Once we finish the tea, Illya asks me if we can explore my house.

"I'm fine with that, but there's nothing interesting."

"I just want to check it out. I knew this place had low magical value when I came in here, so all you have to do is show me around."

That's her reply.

So I end up giving her a tour of my home, but...

"Hmm. This place is smaller than I thought. One side of the corridor is glass. It'll be troublesome when you get attacked here."

"This is Shirou's room!? No way, a person can't live here!"

"This is your yard? Japanese magi must have it tough. You can't grow anything in such a small garden."

"I know this. This is called a dojo, right?

My grandfather told me you people are savages that slash at each other bare-footed."

"No! I don't want to see inside your storage room! You have servants to take care of that!"

...She complains a lot.

But it seems she's having fun.

"What's next!? We haven't gone over there! Let's go, Shirou!"

She urges me.

"...Fine, fine. Then let's go to the back. It's dirty because we haven't used it for a few years, but don't worry about it."

Illya runs across the hallway in joy.



I don't know what she's so happy about, but I'm glad I'm showing her around if it's this fun for her.


Illya must be getting tired, as she loses her spirit halfway through the tour.

Illya silently looks around the rooms.

Once we've seen everything, we return to the living room.

"That's all. Well, there's also the outbuilding, but you'll have to excuse me for not showing it to you.

Saber is sleeping there right now."

Illya looks downcast.

"I see. So this is all?"

"...Illya? What's wrong? Are you tired?"

"Yeah, I'm a bit tired. There's nobody here, after all."

She looks like a normal girl of her age.

...Illya is acting like Illya, and not like a strong Master.

"I came to take revenge. But it's sad that the person to take revenge on isn't here anymore."

She murmurs to herself, tears silently trickling down her face.

"Huh? That's strange. I think I'm crying. There was nothing sad or scary."

Illya tilts her head in wonder, as if it's a really odd thing.


There's probably a reason for it.

There's no one in this house.

The target she has a grudge against.

She only wanted to kill him, but the chance has been forever lost.

...Illyasviel von Einzbern.

She has a reason to kill me and Kiritsugu.

It's because――――

"Let's go, Shirou. The sun's going to set soon.

We'll have to fight unless I leave this place before nightfall."

...Illya is smiling.

What can I say back to her?

"―――Yeah, you're right. Then I'll see you off to the park."

"Okay. You sure know how to treat a lady."

She smiles innocently.

Her silver hair fluttering behind her, Illya runs to the front door as if nothing has happened.

...And I part with her for the third time.

My legs are heavy on the way home.

I slowly walk through the streets, as if for the first time.


I have so much to think about.

Foremost in my mind... I'm finally realizing how important Illya is.

"...Father. Illya is――――"

Should I fight her as a Master?

Or should I convince her to forfeit?

'Makiri and Einzbern have deep tenacities.

They have desired the Holy Grail for over 500 years and 1000 years.'

That's what Kotomine said.

Is there a way to separate Illya from people who have sought the Holy Grail for so long?

...No, even before that.

I have no idea how to quench her desire for revenge.

I return to my house.

The sun is about to set, coloring the town with its reddish glow.

"――――All right. I have to pull myself together."

I slap my cheeks.

I'll have to deal with Shinji and Illya sooner or later, but defeating Caster, the one still attacking the people in this town, takes priority now.

I won't let an event like the one that took place ten years ago take place again.

That's why I decided to become a Master and fight alongside Saber.

Scene 12 Temptation(Afternoon)


I see Sakura's shoes.

Considering the time, I bet Sakura's already back from her club.

"I'm home... Oh. You're asleep, Sakura?"

Her club practice must have been tiring, as Sakura is sleeping in the living room.

She must be exhausted, as she is lying on the floor rather than having her head on the table.

"...Yeah. She was sick, but she went to school and her club, and helped around with my house on top of that. You're working way too hard, Sakura."

I go past the living room, trying not to wake her up.


I bring a blanket from my room.

"Here. You'll catch cold again if you sleep without a blanket."

I carefully drape the blanket over her.


"Hm... Sen... pai..."

She must be half asleep, as Sakura looks up at me with empty eyes.


Her gesture... is different.

It's not the Sakura I know who stands and smiles in the kitchen wearing an apron. Um―――her gesture is more erotic than I've ever seen on her.

"I-I brought a blanket, Sakura――――――"

Nervously, I try to explain myself.

At that instant――――

Sakura's arms wrap around my neck.


Her breath is near me.

I'm intensely aware of her femininity, no matter how hard I try to ignore it.


I can't breathe or talk properly.

Sakura is half-asleep.

The biggest proof is her drowsy-looking eyes.

So I have to shake her off me. I have to get away from her, but――――


I can't take my eyes off of her.

...Her hair streams down her neck.

Her lips let out a seductive sigh, and her breasts are pushing up her shirt.

Having her mature woman's body so close is making me dizzy.

"――――Sen... pai..."

...Her hair streams down her neck.

Her hands tense up a bit.

...Our faces near each other.

I'm lured by her captivating lips, and I can't resist her.


My reasoning is frozen.

Everything I've prohibited, everything I shouldn't have noticed... such boring senses are being destroyed.

"――――Sa... kura..."

My heart is pounding.

The sound of the pounding heart fills my eardrums, my head empties out, and――――

"Are you home, Shirou?"


I jump back.

I display speed and quick wittedness I've never shown before and land on top of the table...!

"That was a wonderful movement. But I do not know about landing on the table."

"――――――You're right. I was a bit surprised."

I slowly step down to the floor.

Sakura is――――

"Hm... Hmm..."

Her hands are lowered, and she's sleeping again.

"Shirou? Your face is red. Did something happen? Your eyes are wandering. Are you worried about something?"

"I-It's nothing! Let's just go to the dojo. Sakura needs sleep, and I want to train with you until dinner."

"That is an excellent attitude to take, Shirou. I am well rested and in perfect condition. Let us prepare for tonight's battle."

Saber heads to the dojo without questioning my suspicious behavior.


I-I'm saved.

I'm glad Saber didn't see us like that, but I'm more glad that I didn't do anything on the spur of the moment.

If I'd done anything to Sakura while she was half-asleep, I would kill myself in shame.

Scene 13 Temptation


I see Sakura's shoes.

Considering the time, I bet Sakura's already back from her club.

"I'm home... Oh. You're asleep, Sakura?"

Her club practice must have been tiring, as Sakura is sleeping in the living room.

She must be exhausted, as she is lying on the floor rather than having her head on the table.

"...Yeah. She was sick, but she went to school and her club, and helped around with my house on top of that. You're working way too hard, Sakura."

I go past the living room, trying not to wake her up.


I bring a blanket from my room.

"Here. You'll catch cold again if you sleep without a blanket."

I carefully drape the blanket over her.


"Hm... Sen... pai..."

She must be half asleep, as Sakura looks up at me with empty eyes.


Her gesture... is different.

It's not the Sakura I know who stands and smiles in the kitchen wearing an apron. Um―――her gesture is more erotic than I've ever seen on her.

"I-I brought a blanket, Sakura――――――"

Nervously, I try to explain myself.

At that instant――――

Sakura's arms wrap around my neck.


Her breath is near me.

I'm intensely aware of her femininity, no matter how hard I try to ignore it.


I can't breathe or talk properly.

Sakura is half-asleep.

You need only look at her eyes to see that.

So I have to shake her off me. I have to get away from her, but――――


I can't take my eyes off of her.

...Her hair streams down her neck.

Her lips let out a seductive sigh, and her breasts are pushing up her shirt.

Having her mature woman's body so close is making me dizzy.

"――――Sen... pai..."

Her hands tense up a bit.

...Our faces near each other.

I'm entranced by her lips, unable to resist.


My reasoning is frozen.

Everything I've prohibited, everything I shouldn't have noticed... such boring senses are being destroyed.

"――――Sa... kura..."

My heart is pounding.

The sound of the pounding heart fills my eardrums, my head empties out, and――――

"Are you home, Shirou?"


I jump back.

I display speed and quick-wittedness I've never shown before and land on top of the table...!

"That was a wonderful movement. But I do not know about landing on the table."

"――――――You're right. I was a bit surprised."

I slowly step down to the floor.

Sakura is――――

"Hm... Hmm..."

Her hands are lowered, and she's sleeping again.

"Shirou? Your face is red. Did something happen? Your eyes are wandering. Are you worried about something?"

"I-It's nothing! Let's just go to the dojo. Sakura needs sleep, and I want to train with you until dinner."

"That is an excellent attitude to take, Shirou. I am well rested and in perfect condition. Let us prepare for tonight's battle."

Saber heads to the dojo without questioning my suspicious behavior.


I-I'm saved.

I'm glad Saber didn't see us like that, but I'm more glad that I didn't do anything on the spur of the moment.

...If I'd done anything to Sakura while she was half-asleep, I would kill myself out of shame.

Scene 14 Treat Sakura

"It's good that you're training, but you have to keep it moderate, Senpai! Jamming a finger is bad enough, but you've almost broken this one."

"Ouch...! Please put the bandage on slower, Sakura."

"Of course it hurts. It's natural to swell up if you leave such an injury alone. Please give up and consider this a divine punishment."


Sakura tapes up my middle finger.

Her movements are quick and accurate. She must get lots of practice treating jammed fingers in archery club.

She's skillful, but isn't this a bit rough for Sakura?

"And you too, Saber-san.

Couldn't you have gone easier if you're stronger than Senpai? Senpai's body is swollen all over. He won't even be able to take a bath tonight."

"Sakura. I do not mean to contradict you, but that is what Shirou wished for.

I merely responded to his request.

And Shirou is partly responsible for tonight's injury. He was the one who wished to train, but he was not concentrating at all."

Saber glares at me in complaint.


There's not much I can say when she puts it like that.

"Eh...? Did you feel sick or something, Senpai?

...Um, it's not like you to go to the dojo with unclear motivation."

"Indeed. What was distracting you, Shirou? You were staring into empty space even when you were holding the shinai, and I felt no spirit in your attacks."

"...Well. That's, um..."

The cause is standing right here in front of me, but there's no way I can say that. Just thinking about it makes my heart jump――――


Does it still hurt somewhere...?"

Sakura looks at me with worry.

"......! N-No, I'm fine now! I just ate too much, so it'll help me out if you can make me some tea!"

I quickly move my face away from Sakura.

"Okay. Then I'll go brew some after-meal tea."

Sakura stands up to go to the kitchen.


...This is really bad for my heart.

Her body is engraved in my mind, and I get conscious of her whenever she comes near me.

"Are you fine with tea, Saber-san?"

"Yes. Please do not make it too hot."

Sakura promptly brews some tea.

...Her gestures are supposed to be familiar, but I feel like I'm seeing them for the first time.


Damn, why do I keep remembering it?

There's something wrong with me, just like Saber said.

Just looking at Sakura reminds me of how she looked earlier... and her soft lips....

...This is just lust.

Sakura is an important underclassman and a family member to me.

So―――why am I now conscious of her like this?


......Damn it.

I know. I really do.

Sakura is beautiful. I've been aware of it for quite a while now.

But in spite of that, I acted as her Senpai.

I like Sakura.

...Having her around became normal for me before I knew it, and I've found it to be a great comfort.

But it's always been a different sort of affection.

I've never wanted to embrace Sakura.

I knew she was a girl, but I never viewed her as someone of the opposite sex.

But now...

I'm beginning to think it's not that I never viewed her as a girl...

...But that I was trying not to view her as a girl.


"Here's some tea, Senpai."

"Oh――――yeah, thanks, Sakura."

"You're welcome. Thank you for dinner too, Senpai."

Sakura smiles happily.

...Seeing her smile makes me happy as well.

It seems she really liked the pork meatloaf with egg and vegetables.

Sakura hands the tea to Saber as well and sits down.

Saber must enjoy tea, as she receives it with satisfaction.

"Itadakimasu. ...But where is Taiga? I have not seen her around for a while."

"Huh? Oh, she just called and said she can't make it tonight. I didn't get the details, but she said she has to go visit the hospitals or something."

"I see. I wanted to ask her some questions, since she is more knowledgeable about your habits.

...I guess it cannot be helped. I shall wait until next time to strengthen you."

"―――Hm. Are you saying yesterday's and today's trainings were just the beginning?"

"Of course. The trainings up to now were to teach your body what you are able to do.

From now on, we will train you to survive using your special characteristics."

"――――I see. That sounds hard."

"'Intense' would be the word to describe it. Consider your training up to today to be a mere warmup."


A-Are you serious?

I don't know if I should be thankful or not that Fuji-Nee isn't coming tonight.

"What was that sigh? This is for your own good――――Sakura?"

Saber looks at Sakura.


I follow her gaze.



Sakura's breathing painfully.


I run to her and shake her shoulders.

"Eh... eh, what's wrong, S-Senpai...!?"

"It's not 'what's wrong'! You were pushing yourself again――――"

...No, she's not.

She looks healthy, her shoulders aren't hot, and she's just looking up at me in wonder.

"Huh―――? Um, you looked like you were in pain."

"Oh, you're wrong. I just fell asleep."

Sakura smiles in embarrassment.

"...Don't scare me like that. I thought your cold got worse again."

"I'm sorry. I've been sleepy all day, and I fall asleep if I let my guard down."

"I see. Well, you were sleeping this afternoon too. You can go rest if you're tired. I'll clean up."

"Oh... O-Okay, you're right. I'll accept your offer and go rest now."

Sakura bows and exits the living room.

She's walking steadily, so I guess she's just short on sleep, like she said.

Scene 15 War balance randomizer

The moon darkens.

The clouds, blown by the strong wind, hide the white moon.

We go outside, careful not to wake Sakura.

It's eleven o'clock―――we decided to start patrolling earlier to make up for yesterday.

The town has continued to suffer while my guard was down after Caster's defeat.

If Caster is still alive and collecting energy from people, I have to defeat her for sure tonight.

We descend the hill to the intersection.

The question is where to go from here――――

"――――Shirou. I feel a Servant's presence."

"...! Is it close, Saber?"

"It should not be a problem distance-wise. Even with your speed, we should be able to catch up to the Servant in about five minutes.

――――Please give me an order, Master."

Saber is asking me if we should follow them or stay here and keep watch.

I don't even need to think about it.

"Let's go. Lead the way, Saber."

Saber starts to run.

She heads east―――it seems she is heading to the big bridge connecting Miyama City and Shinto.


The instant I step into the park, the abnormal presence makes me feel like vomiting.

The air is polluted here.

The stench of rot and decay seeps into my nose.

"Uh... guh."

My gastric juice is regurgitated just by standing here.

The discomfort and the dizziness almost break my mind.

"Look, Shirou――――!"


I suppress my nausea and look.




...Stand Tohsaka and Archer, with their backs to us...

"Hm? New enemies?"

...And that old man―――Matou Zouken.


I understand the situation right away.

Tohsaka is fighting Matou Zouken.

I see dozens of something so small that I can't distinguish it around Tohsaka.

Tohsaka's Servant Archer has many more around him.

It seems Matou Zouken used those things to attack them.

"Hm. Well, if it isn't Saber's Master.

So you've prepared a backup? For Tohsaka's daughter, you are surprisingly smart."

"You're wrong. Archer and I are more than enough to beat a confession out of you.

They're just spectators. They have nothing to do with me."

Tohsaka keeps glaring at Matou Zouken.

...But her back is...

"What were you thinking, coming at a time like this!? Do you want to die!?"

...Harshly scolding me.


"...I know. This isn't the time to be arguing with Tohsaka."

Just as how Tohsaka does not look away from that old man, I'm feeling danger from him.

...A monster said to have survived by sucking people's blood.

A descendant of Makiri who tried to obtain the Holy Grail and made Shinji into a Master.

There's no way such a guy would just stand there and not do anything.

"Hm. I wanted to keep this hidden, but I guess it cannot be helped. I cannot survive against two Servants."

He makes a sound with his cane.

The instant it strikes the bricks beneath the old man's feet...

...Someone we already defeated appears to protect him.

"Caster...! Damn, so she really is still alive...!"

"Please stay back, Shirou. That is Caster, but not Caster. ...Her appearance and abilities are the same, but I do not feel her will or her soul.

That thing is an imitation made from Caster's corpse."

Saber steps forward.

In her hand is the invisible sword.

"Oh. As expected from Saber. You saw through my trick right away. Oh my, no wonder Shinji's Rider was no match for you.

Archer should not be a match against you, just like Caster, who was defeated without being able to do anything."

"Is that all you have to say for yourself?

Deceiving us is the least of your crimes.

Even though Caster is our enemy, she is a heroic spirit chosen as a Servant. You better have an appropriate determination if you are trifling with her corpse."

"Oh. I only picked up some trash that nobody needed any longer.

I do not mind being called a heretic for that, but you would fall lower than a brute if that is the case.

You are the greatest Servant, after all.

Then it is best to make you, rather than this corpse, into my slave. I shall let my worms eat you alive and have you follow this corpse's fate."


"Kakaka, why are you enraged!? Servants are merely tools! It does not matter how they are used! It is the same whether you bind them with a Command Spell or if you use them as a corpse! Then is it not for your sake to turn you into a mindless puppet!?"

―――The two Servants charge.

Saber and Archer charge at the laughing monster as if they planned the attack.

Two blades slice through Caster.

The match was decided from the start.

Caster cannot defeat Saber.

Even with Matou Zouken's control, that fact has not changed.

Caster's magecraft does not reach Saber, and Saber finishes off the enemy she defeated before.

Caster's body begins to disintegrate.

Saber stands by and watches it until the end.

To ensure that it completely disappears.

To ensure that her body will not be violated again.


It's Tohsaka's voice.

Matou Zouken has disappeared.

He sacrificed Caster in order to make his escape.



That is why Saber took care of Caster.

Archer ignored her completely,

pursued the controller, and...

"That's it."

...Cut Matou Zouken's body in half.


Zouken's upper body falls to the ground.

"Hm, ugh, my――――!"

A dragging sound.

Even though blood and entrails are spilling from his bisected body, the old man still lives.

He crawls across the ground with his arms, trying to get away from Archer.

"This is the end, magus. My past experiences have taught me to quickly finish off monsters like you."

Archer raises his shortsword above Zouken.

This is the end.

No matter how immortal Matou Zouken may be, he will die once his head is crushed―――and he is almost dead already.

It is not like he has self-healing powers like the Servants, and his horrific wound is taking him closer to death by the second.

But, unwilling to take any chances, Archer kills the magus with his shortsword.


No, he tries to kill Zouken and stops.


It's not only Archer who felt it.

Everybody here does.

Tohsaka and Saber.

Archer and I.

Even Matou Zouken, hovering on the edge of death, trembles at its appearance.

――――Darkness covers the park.

The damp air freezes in an instant.

My heart is beating at a higher pitch, but the rate is slower.

Something bad is close by.

So I have to run away.

I can't concern myself with that thing.

My body understands it instinctively, yet it refuses to move.

It's meaningless to run away.

My body knows that I can't escape.


I move my trembling body and turn my numb neck.

I look towards the entrance of the park.


...Stands the "shadow".


Space is distorted.

I want to believe it's just my imagination, a product of the disordered sense of balance caused by extreme tension.

I've never seen anything like it.

It's insubstantial, as if a shadow suddenly stood up.

Its existence is so light that it could be blown away.

And yet, its presence dominates this place.

It lacks intelligence or reason, and it probably is not even alive.

The black shadow stands there like a mirage.


Why do I find it so familiar?


I hear a hoarse voice.

The only one able to speak here happens to be the dying old man.

"Impossible, impossible, impossible――――!"

He crawls while screaming.

Matou Zouken pulls himself away from Archer and out of the park.

...It's not that Zouken had that much strength left.

It's just that...

Fear of the shadow drove him.


Nobody is able to move.

Tohsaka and I stand still, transfixed by fear.

Even Saber and Archer seem entranced.

――――It's like a deep sea monster.

The shadow sways in the silent world where everything is still.


It shows something like a will for the first time.


It lacks eyes, limbs, or a body.

Yet it still casts a shadow at its base.

Outlined by the moonlight, the shadow begins to stretch and elongate.

Like a snake that has found its prey, it points at Tohsaka and――――


Oblivious to the change, Tohsaka does not move.

Saber is too far away. Archer has started running, but he is too far away to make it in time.


The shadow lashes out.

Without showing any sign, the shadow abruptly covers tens of meters and...

"――――saka, watch out...!!!!!"

I frantically push Tohsaka aside.

" -kun...!?"

I can't hear her voice.

The instant I push Tohsaka away, something engulfs me.

A splashing sound and a sensation of something trying to crush my body.

"――――, ――――Ah."

My presentiment wasn't wrong.

Water has come crashing in around me, and I am now sinking into the sea.

But it's hot.

This seawater is too hot.

Boiling coal tar.

It sticks to my skin and cuts off my life, and I don't feel like I'm in the sea.


I feel sick.

I feel sick, it's wrong, I feel sick, it's wrong, I-I-I-I-I feel sick, it's wrong, I feel sick, i-i-i-it's wrong, I fEEl SiCK, iT'S wRoNg, I FEel sIcK iT'S WrOnG, I FeEL SIcK iT's wROnG I feEl siCk...!!!

Rabbit's corpse. One eye missing. Rotten, soft, and fresh. Forced into my mouth. Rabbit's corpse smears my esophagus. A clear sensation of eating a life. Life is life, even if it is rotten. It's real. I can't taste this with cooked food. It feels good. There's no taste. But I'm forced to eat it as long as it is in front of me. A popular place. A big line. A place that will eat rabbits. There is only one clerk. The line consists of rabbits. Lines and lines. They rot as soon as they get in the line. Infested with maggots. Which is rotten? Which is infested with maggots? Which is alive? Which is doing the eating――――

Scene 16 Dead End: Ocean depths

――――My body is melting.

My mind is melting.

My soul is melting.


The black fingers wrap around me.

It tries to eat abundantly and greedily, without the slightest opening.


My body falls into a sea of black mud.

The surface is far away, and I sink without end.

It reinforces and embraces me, carefully and without exception.


My limbs disappear.

My body turns black, and I become a part of it and fall downward to my final destination.

Scene 17 Tiger Dojo 25

Not enough love!

Hi, everyone, long time no see. How are you doing?

We're starting Tiger Dojo part III!

Well. This dead end is caused by lack of love!

You're forced to come to this dead end if this certain heroine's affection point is not past a certain value.

If you came to this dead end, it means you were not kind enough!

For example... this is only for argument's sake, but I don't know about leaving a sick girl alone to go walking about at night.

It might be good to restart from day 6 with that in mind.

Well, I'll be waiting for you in the next Tiger Dojo!

Scene 18 Gap between the two

"......Kun, Emiya-kun...!"

"Agh... gu."

I wake up.

...My body is hot.

My nausea isn't fading, my head is shaking, and I can't even stand up by myself.

"Are you awake!? Can you tell who I am...!?"

She slaps my cheeks.

"...I can tell. Only Tohsaka would slap someone at a time like this."

"――――Good. I guess you're all right if you can talk back like that."

...That was just my honest opinion right now.

"You idiot, why are you smiling? ...I'm not going to thank you, okay? Don't ever do that again. I can't return the favor if you die trying to save me."

...She glares at me.

But Tohsaka is still rubbing my back with one hand and holding my hand in the other to check my temperature.

"...Tohsaka. What happened to that weird thing?"

"It disappeared. It vanished when you stepped onto the shadow and fainted. ...I think it came from over that way."

Tohsaka looks southwest and grits her teeth.

"...I see. But I think I was entangled in it for a while."

"...Really? It hasn't even been ten seconds since you pushed me. Here's the proof, see."


Saber runs up to me.

"You acted reckless again...!"

Saber supports me and pulls me away from Tohsaka.

"Get away, Archer's Master. I shall treat you as an enemy if you come any closer to my Master."

"What? I'm your enemy as well?"

"Of course. You are a Master, and Archer is with you.

I do not know why Shirou protected you, but I cannot let you near my Master before my eyes."

Saber glares at Tohsaka.

...Crap, I guess I never told Saber about our current truce.

"...No, you're wrong, Saber. We're at peace right now, so until we defeat Caster――――"

"Shirou!? Please get yourself together...!"

"...I'm saying Tohsaka isn't our enemy. I promised her."

"......! Understood. I will not fight her if that is your will."

"...Yeah, I'm sorry. I can't talk... anymore..."

I endure the nausea and the chill that tries to get me unconscious.

...I have to get home before I faint.

I have to stay conscious until then.

"So you survived, huh? Well, you didn't touch the main body, so the most that it can do is make you ill."

Archer approaches.

Archer is expressionless even though Zouken got away, and he is the only calm one here.

"...Archer. Do you know what that shadow is?"

"―――Who knows? But one thing is clear. That shadow is what's been draining the life from the townspeople ever since Caster's death."

...He answers as if he's not interested.

Then Archer looks down at me, lying on the ground.

"It seems this is no time to pursue personal grudges. Isn't that right, Emiya Shirou?"


"As for what that shadow was, your intuition is correct.

...Humph. I am summoned as a Servant, but I'm to fight it after all."

"Archer...? Who are you?"

"I see. You are not a guardian yet. Then you must not have fought something like that before. ...Man, it seems I'll be doing the same thing no matter where I go."

...The knight in red beckons Tohsaka to go.

But right before they leave...

"...No, it's not that hopeless.

―――It has not occurred yet. I might be able to finish it beforehand, or I might end up cleaning after the event. I have a chance of stopping it this time."

He looks up at the sky and murmurs these words.

...It switches off and on.

The heat permeates my body and I don't feel like I'm walking.

Is it because someone told me this is like a disease?

It feels like plagued maggots are filling my whole body.


...I can't tell dream and reality apart.

I feel like I'm already asleep and trying to go back to my room.

"Sakura...? Were you not asleep?"

"――――Please move aside. You'll hurt Senpai if you hold him like that."

"No, this is my duty.

And if this is a disease, you might get infected as well."

"...I'm not talking about that.

Saber-san. I don't know what you two are doing. I knew you wouldn't answer me even if I asked, so I never did."

"But Senpai has seemed troubled ever since you came here.

...I could still bear that, but tonight you've brought him home injured."

"Sakura, that is..."

"―――I don't know what your circumstances are. But isn't there a better way to go about this?

If you can't―――please at least resolve your problems without involving Senpai."

...I return to my room.

It feels like someone is next to me, putting me to sleep.

"――――, ――――"

A voice is whispering in my ear, but I can't make out the words.

Did it apologize, it's my fault?

Did it apologize, I'm sorry?

Whatever the words are, they're the last thing I hear.

My consciousness fades as soon as I lie down.

The scene keeps squirming like insects until the very end.

Scene 19 Madness

"See ya. Don't be late tomorrow!"

She slurs her words as she sees off her friends.

There's no one around, and the rotary is completely still.

Did her friend get the last taxi, or are they just avoiding this place for some reason?

The station, which used to be filled with light and people, is now just a group of lifeless buildings.

"Hmm――――I guess there are days like this."

She heads home, still slightly drunk.

It doesn't matter if there's no taxi, or if the last train is out.

Her apartment is close by.

Her friends live three stations away, so she always walks home by herself after seeing them off.

The rotary is quiet even though it's still before midnight, and she starts home like always.



When did it turn into something that's not "like always"?

The desolate town.

The pitch-black back alleys.

The chill emanating from the dark shadows.

Formless unease assails her.

"――――Hey. Is someone there?"

She turns around. The only thing following her is her cold and silent silhouette.


She walks faster.

Staying here is dangerous.

She doesn't believe she's overthinking.

Nobody is following her. First of all, she doesn't have the sense to realize it even if she is in danger.

She is only human, after all.

"――――Hey, what is this?"

But she can't stop shivering.

The unpleasant presence gets stronger.

...This is just like the times she woke up at night as a child.

She would wake up to go to the bathroom, but would sense someone crouching in the corner. Instead of moving, she would pretend to be asleep until morning came. This unease is how she felt then, as if the whole world has abandoned her.

"......Haa...... Haa....... Haa......!"

She's running now.

She's not taking her usual route home.

The road in front of her is dangerous.

The roads she usually takes home are all dark.

Instinctively seeking the safest way, she's running before she knows it.

"Haa――――Haa, haa――――!"

...When did the quick trot turn into an all-out dash?

She understands that it's silly to be scared of something she cannot see, but she is unable to stop herself.

She runs like a dog.

Her throat is dry, but strangely, she isn't sweating.

―――The town at night.

The series of accidents with unknown causes.

Desperately, she tells herself that it's not the work of a serial killer.

There's no one around.

Tonight, of all nights, the place is empty.

Is that why this seems like it's happening to somebody else?

The familiar town is like an imitation in a mirror that will never find her.


And she arrives at the final destination.

"――――That's strange, why..."

...Did she come to this place?

"...Aha. What am I doing?"

Something is very funny.

"Haha. ......Ahahaha. Ahahahaha."

Something's funny, so sounds of laughter come from her throat as if from someone else.

She is merely running.

Her usual route home seemed too dangerous.

So she ran along the roads that felt safer to her, and...

"Hah. Ahahaha, hahahahahahahahaha!"


She realizes that there is no place to run.

Worms. Worms. Worms. Worms.

Some appear from between the grasses.

Some fall down from the tree branches.

The first one drops on her right eye and...

...It uses the snout larger than her eyeballs to crawl into her eye socket.

"[block len=12]......!!"

The scream is not heard.

She crumples to the ground.

Pain shoots through her heels. It hurts. It hurts, as if they've been chopped off with an axe.

; "[block len=12]"

Since that's impossible, she tries to move her toes, only to find that she can't feel them.

In its place, many new things enter her body from the cut heel.

She tries to see what they are with her remaining left eye.

She cannot see what they are anymore.

Indescribable horrors swarm over her body.

"――――――Aha, it's eating."

Her mind somehow does not see what they are eating.

The worms dive in.

When she was small, she once saw maggots swarming on a sponge.

This is just like that.

Although inchworms chewing through an apple might be a more apt comparison.

"Hii―――――aha, but it's not weird."

But the realistic image and the scene before her do not seem related.

Because such things cannot be.

Such things cannot be happening to her.

It's almost midnight.

She has to hurry home, ready the bath, ouch, laugh off all the fatigue, that hurts, let her hair dry, it hurts, watch some videos, return to her room room room room it hurts she wants to return to her room return return return return please, please stop,

stay up till three o'clock, it really hurts, anything, please stop, please stop it hurts it hurts it hurts

wake up with an alarm clock, go back it hurts go to work go back go back go back.

Ah――――so this has to be a dream. She wants to go back to her room, this has to be a dream, go back, go back, but her feet are gone, so she cannot walk baaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh


"Die, go away, no, stop, stop, please, please, take me back to my room, please, pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaase, no, why, why, are you eating me......!!!!?"

――――The meal ends in under five minutes.

It was too gruesome a scene to be called a meal, but if one defines having a meal as absorbing nourishment, then this was certainly a meal.


The lying body stands up.

The female body has turned into an old man's body.

"Guh――――mm. I can never get used to this."

A hoarse voice echoes through the park.

The worms have disappeared.

They have finished their meal and have returned to their nest, the old man's body.

In other words―――they replaced the woman's body, the one they fed on.

Someone else is watching the spectacle.

Between the crisscrossing tree branches...

A white mask is floating.

The mask made from human skull is smiling like a buffoon.

The owner of the mask does not even need to be mentioned.

It is the seventh Servant―――the one born from within the fake Servant. He is the heroic spirit who defeated Lancer, Assassin.

"―――Impressive. So your previous body was not your own, either?"

"...Oh? Were you watching, Assassin? Yes, my body has perished a long time ago. I am just an old fool who has to leech off of a whole body. My body cannot handle walking under the sun like everyone else's."

The laughing figure is indeed Matou Zouken.

It took him a few minutes to attack and take over a woman's body.

The speed is incredible, even for a master magus.

"...I see. So you did not care who it was. All you require is a full body, no matter whose it may be. You merely mold the body to the shape you want.

What's inside your body are worms in any case. The worms will function as your organs... It is indeed a mimicry."

"Oh my. In only one day, you have grown quite talkative. Do you remember your wish now?"

"―――Of course. I can only be summoned by people who share my desire. Your craving for eternal life has summoned me here. What I wish for is eternity.


The black shadow wavers.

The emotionless skull stares at the aged magus.

"This raises a question. You are already immortal. You have lived for over five centuries. Then, is your wish not already granted?"


The old magus lets out a cry.

Who would know that the cry is not a laugh, but a cry of anger?

―――Yes, Matou Zouken is almost immortal.

He will live as long as there are bodies to infest and his soul remains alive.

But―――there is only pain.

Matou Zouken does not wear his current form by choice.

Turning his body into something inhuman and mimicking human form.

There is a limit to this magecraft.

It is like a machine. A machine can run forever in theory, but its parts rust over time.

Parts rust. Cogwheels slide out of place. Programs become obsolete.

"―――No, no. I am not immortal, Assassin.

My body rots. It will rot no matter how many times I get a new body. It will rot no matter what I do.

This new body has begun to rot already.

Can you begin to understand the discomfort and disgrace of rotting alive―――the despair upon learning that your body is not human?"

"Why does it rot? Are the worms not able to make a proper body?"

"Haha, that is not true. The worms are lively. They have no problem as a body. From the start, I became a parasite in grief over my aging body. They serve perfectly as a body.

I chose this method to prolong my life forever while retaining my humility."

"...I am even more confused. Is that all you can manage, even with the power to perfectly preserve your body? First of all, why are you taking the form of an old man?

If you are able to shape the flesh into any form, you should be able to take any appearance."

"That is a good question. Then let me ask you. Let's say something that lost its original body tries to reproduce its body with its powers.

In that case―――what do you think restores the body to its original form?"

"―――The body records itself. Even after it is burned or cut, the body is able to restore its original appearance, because there is an internal blueprint."

"Yes. A body's composition is recorded in its genes. But it is different in my case. I lost my body, the place where my composition was recorded. I can no longer use that blueprint to recreate my body.

In that case―――what do you think records my body and gives it form?"


It is obvious.

The soul.

It is not the law of the physical world, but something of the higher order, the record of all the bodies within the concept of the astral world.

...Yes, if one has the soul, one should be able to reconstruct their body even if the original body and genes have been lost.

So in other words, this old magus is...

"―――I see. You keep your soul alive, while taking the bodies of other creatures as your own―――so that is the trick behind your immortality.

That must be why you cannot turn yourself into anything else. What you are keeping alive is your soul, not your body.

So that is why you cannot take any other form but that of Matou Zouken?"

"Of course. I am not taking form as an old man because I want to.

...Look, this is the only form I can create. And it is a poor creation that rots away unless I exchange it periodically. I used to be able to last fifty years before I had to exchange my body, but I have to exchange it every few months now.

...Who can understand the pain I feel as I rot away? Do not misunderstand, Assassin of this generation. Do not call such a thing immortality――――"

Irritation can be heard in the voice of the old magus.

It has been three days since Assassin's summoning.

He finally sees the true nature of his summoner.

"...I understand now. So what is rotting is not your body, but..."

"...Yes, my soul is rotting.

Time even affects ethereal bodies. Therefore, my physical body will rot. It is natural for my body to rot if my soul, the blueprint of my body, is rotten."

"Hm―――so that is why you seek the Holy Grail.

...No wonder you are angry. Such eternity must be more painful to you than those who have no idea of eternity."


...My body rots. I need to be freed from this pain, from this poison violating deep into my bones...!

The Holy Grail exists for that purpose. I have persisted for that purpose."

"...Right. I do not want to die. I want to live. It is dreadful to think that I will disappear from this world...!

To escape this fate, I have lived for hundreds of years, devouring the flesh of thouands...! Do you understand, master of the mountain? I hate myself for turning myself into worms. I hate being the only one who rots away. I hate all humans for being given bodies as a matter of course―――!"


The white mask looks down at the rotting old man.

...How can he say he hates humans that live peacefully?

It was his spell, used to escape that peaceful life, that gave him this pain.

The undending torment of this magus, the decay that melts his bones and flesh, is the result of his own action.

But the pain overrides such trivial matters as blame.

It must not matter who is evil or what the cause is.

Because―――this is just a speculation, but Matou Zouken must be insane already.

The pain and fear of experiencing one's own decomposition must be unbearable for normal human beings.

Nobody should be able to endure it, no matter how strong their mind may be.

Because one will die.

The body dies if it rots for over an hour.

But two hundred years!

Only this old magus would understand how rotten the mind is of someone who has his body rotting away.

Matou Zouken has gone insane.

No matter his mental state, if there is nobody in the world who can identify with him, he will be labeled insane.

"A centuries-old obsession, eh? I cannot understand, but――――"

The old man's monologue can be summarized in one sentence.

――――He does not want to die.

――――He does not want to die.

――――In short, he does not want to die.

It is merely that a wish anyone would have became clear for this man.

He sacrificed many people, clinging to the simple yet foolish wish.

He prepared many things and sacrificed people to obtain the Holy Grail.


This old magus's very existence is made possible by those sacrifices.

That is reason enough for the masked assassin to pledge his loyalty.

"I do not understand, but you are appropriate to be my Master.

Very well. Let us both aim for eternity, as we are both beings who were not treated as human."

The skull waits.

The Servant in a black coat bows to the rotting old magus.