Loop 31

Day 1

Town・Day 1 The big three female Servants' super-battle

“I guess two or three freeloaders could be a problem.”

Having said that, it's already been a month since Rider started working at the antique shop.

“...Come to think of it, I wonder how she's doing.”

There is something for everyone at a shop with such a bizarre-like assortment of items from all over the world. A place with that kind of international character must attract a wide variety of customers.


In an instant, a separate dimension is born in the middle of the shopping district.

Everyone around the store is just watching from the sides, not even able to get close.

“Oh my. The youngest of the infamous three Gorgon sisters is a shopkeeper here of all places.”

“Aren't you just as infamous.

Furthermore, going out in public with such a dreary, cumbersome outfit. How disgraceful.”

“Hmph, a monster with such a shabby appearance wouldn't understand the elegance of royal shell purple!”

“These are my work clothes.”

“Yes, it suits your large build.

Goodness, I wonder what you ate to become like that?”


“You wouldn't have shot up like a Lebanese Cedar with just nectar and ambrosia, right?

You probably don't even have a lover, do you?”

“Oh, but aren't you a divorcee who's just acting like a newlywed?”


“Hold on! Both of you, calm down!”

For the sake of the world, the people, and Mount Miyama, I suffer through the psychological damage while breaking them apart.


“You're in the way, boy.”

Cold voices pierce me from both sides.

There's no way I can play it off with a joke or sweet words in this atmosphere.

...This is bad, one wrong move and my pathetic corpse will be tumbling out of the shop.


I held my tongue and just watched until now for fear of sparking something, but at this rate the shop will be burned down before there are any sparks at all.

How come there is so much hostility between you two?”

Fighting isn't good, I try to say as diplomatically as possible.

“I am merely a customer of this shop. If there is a problem, wouldn't the fault be with this rude clerk?”

“If that's the case, Rider would be at fault.”

“It's as you said. Even you say good things sometimes, boy.”

“That's right. I know how you feel, but as a salesclerk you must be courteous when dealing with any kind of customer. Even when caught by a troublemaker, just bear it with a smile... Awawawawawawawawawawawawawawaaa!?”

“That is true, but... sigh...”

“Here we see more of her fine service.

Is greeting customers with a sigh a special feature of this shop?”

“Ah, don't tease her so much either, Caster.”

She never holds back her abusive language when we meet.

This Servant doesn't get along well with others in the first place... With the exception of her one-sided marriage proposal.

“Are you not feeling well, Rider?”

I thought working would make her more resilient, but it seems like the weight on her shoulders is piling up.

I wonder if working here is that awful?

“Is work not going well?”

“No, the owner says I am a great help.

And that the shop front and storehouse have not been this orderly in ten years.”

With her strength, she could easily lift even heavy furniture.

My only concern is that around all these delicate things, she would end up being even more awkward and break an expensive antique.

“In that case, why are you so gloomy?”

“If something's bothering you, let's talk about it.”

“...There have been many problems.

The customers that come here can be...”

“Pardon me.”


“Does this establishment carry fine china?

I have come at the request of a very high-class customer.”

“Yes, our stock of china is kept right over here...”

“―――Excuse me, clerk?”

“Yes, would you like one of these items?”

“About this price...”

“Ah, I am able to offer you a small discount.”

“Would you please stop your jesting?”


“You would line up such cheap articles as these to adorn the table of my noble and peerless lady?

For a servant to not understand the status of the master they serve... Is it your intention to shame me?”

“Um... But this is where the shop's most expensive goods are...”

“Then that will be all!

Why must I do something like this... This is all the fault of that overpowered combo that break plates as though they were eggshells!


“......I wonder why someone serving such a high-class house would come to a common shopping district like this?”

“Oh? I'm here even though I'm a former princess.”

“Now that you mention it, even a former king comes by to buy sweets.”

“That's not all. There were other troublesome customers as well...”

“Clerk? I wonder, is the incense burner over there genuine Ming Dynasty celadon porcelain? Has it been appraised properly―――?”

“...Uh, um...”

“It hasn't been, right? It's probably a replica from a later period.

Besides, whoever did the gold paint job has bad tastes and these things aren't even worth much nowadays. We still use one at work though.”

“There isn't anyone around here with a better eye than you at this. Though, I won't lose when it comes to paintings...

Oho, interesting, it seems I'll enjoy myself for some time simply investigating the origin and authenticity of the items here.”

sigh That's―――

M-Miss, please don't do something like that!”

“Well, what have you been up to the second I take my eyes off of you?”

“Guh... I-It's not like I was hiding anything.”

“What did you put in the drawer of that dresser over there?”

“Tch, it's fine, isn't it? Just to keep it around a little longer.

Hey, clerk, you'll excuse my mischief 'cause I'm so cute right?”

“No... that's...”

“That's causing trouble for the clerk. If you ask normally you can probably put it on layaway.”

“But if she sees it, she'd spend like 500,000 yen to snatch it away!

A rich person would totally do something like that.”

“...And so on.”

“Wow, so all kinds of strange customers come here. I wonder just who these people are?”

“Even then, you did not show any of your usual wit.”

“The service industry is certainly difficult, but you'll get used to it.

You have to endure it, Rider.”


I want to slap her on the shoulder for encouragement, but the difference in height would make it look embarrassing.

“Hehehe, it's a good thing I am your customer.”

“Yes, you are fine, Caster.”

A scornful glance passes me and locks onto Caster.

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“Um, it's just that Rider has to put up with troublesome custo... Awawawawawawawawawawawawawawaaa!?”

“With things like eating rice crackers while watching drama reruns or joining a tennis club, they say being a housewife like Caster is without a doubt an elegant lifestyle.”

“...So they say, huh?”

“Bullseye, right?”

“No, from listening to you just now, aren't you the one to be envied?

It's a good thing to be able to rely on your store manager if worst comes to worst.”


“On the other hand, as a housewife the responsibilities are mine alone.

Aah, really. I cannot truly be at ease...”

“Does Kuzuki-sensei order you around a lot at home?”

“Souichirou-sama is great!

Because no matter what happens, that man is always so calm and collected. He truly is a reliable partner.”

“...I would rather that you not fawn over him here, but... what is the problem then?”

My sister-in-law.”

“Ah, so Kuzuki-sensei has a mother or a sister around?”

“Sister, huh...? That doesn't sound very pleasant.”

“No, Souichirou-sama has no living relatives.

But there is definitely someone like a sister-in-law...”

“Caster-san, a moment?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“There is dust collecting on the frame of this door. I would like you to thoroughly clean this area as well.

Because this is Souichirou's space, I will respectfully leave it to you. If Emiya had cleaned this, there wouldn't have been such an oversight.”


“What's with this miso soup, Caster-san!?”

“W-What was wrong with it!?”

“Souichirou's miso soup has always been made with white miso and konbu soup stock.

This red stock, that even has dried sardines in it, is an insult to the stomach. Do you intend to make Souichirou drink such a thing!?”

“Eek! I'm very sorry.”

“Good grief, compared to Emiya, your miso soup is just a pale western imitation! Something like this is nothing more than an indescribably mismatched substitute!

Emiya's miso soup blends together firm tofu and miso with the bonito stock in precisely the way a Japanese palate demands!

Yeah, compared to the rye bread you nibble on and that rock-salt cabbage stew you drink, it's clear you are just an unsophisticated country girl from the Black Sea!”

“Aah, I'm very sorry...”

“What is with this laundry, Caster-saaan!?”


“There mustn't be a single stain on Souichirou's shirts. Moreover, his collar must be properly ironed and starched, but even so I've found a wrinkle―――how worthless. Follow Emiya's example!”


“What is with that look!?

Despite his appearance, doesn't Emiya properly iron his shirt and never fail to brush his uniform?

And yet you just leave Souichirou's suit laying over there. It'll damage the fabric, don't you know that a suit needs to breathe like a living creature!?”

“I-I'm very sor...”

“Give it here, I was a fool to think you could handle Merino wool just because you knew how to handle golden fleece!

From now on, I will take care of Souichirou's suits! Step aside, you Ukranian bumpkin!”

“I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please forgive me!”

“I will report all of this to Souichirou. You do not suit him at all, so quickly pack your bags and return to the stink of potatoes in your collective farm on the Black Sea coast!”

“Aah, no more, please no more! Have mercy, Issei-san...”

“I absolutely cannot speak about such humiliation with Souichirou-sama.

Do you still say a housewife's lifestyle is enviable?”

“Wait, why did my name keep coming up?”

Also, the second half was really strange. I can't see Issei behaving like that.

“Hmm, Issei is your only obstacle, yet you can't ever be at ease?”

“I tell you, such vicious bullying is even worse when it's behind closed doors. It's unbearable.”

“I have already had an experience like that with my two older sisters.

But that is how families are.”

“I wonder. A real family should be willing to become my strength, like my younger brother did, for example.”

“Whoa, things just got awkward again...”

―――Then, at that moment!

“Hooh aherhooh, you hwo, munchmunch.”

Saber... Don't talk with your mouth full.

“munch... I would like some tea, but I shall put that off for now.

Now then. You two, the shopping district is where everyone comes to enjoy themselves. It is no place to quarrel.”

Without so much as flinching, Saber continues.

Rider and Caster are speechless.

“To start with, something like obanyaki for a snack with... No, nevermind.

In any case, I heard what you two were talking about. You have some profound worries, indeed.”

“You intend to meddle as well?”

“To live, to find your calling, it can be tough. There are also times when you can't get your way.

However, it can feel like the weight on your shoulders is heavier than everyone else's. You mustn't make that mistake.”

“I believe that neither this shop's customers nor Issei acted with ill intent.

They're each just doing the best they can. It's important to always keep that in mind.”

“...I see.”

“If you act with sincerity, then whether in an antique shop or as a housewife, sooner or later those feelings are sure to reach the other party.

Surely, therein lies the essential principle to governing a kingdom peacefully――”

It's hard to believe, but after getting absorbed in the spirit of Saber's speech, these two who were ready to fight until just a moment ago grow silent.

That's what made her such a magnificent king.

“Just as I'd expect, Saber. I have a better opinion of you.”

“No, no. You give me too much credit.

In any case, I'm just glad this was resolved peacefully.”

Right, that kind of positive attitude will surely lead to a good outcome.

Caster and Rider came to an understanding and reluctantly, they look at each other to reconcile―――

―――But before that, they fix their gaze on Saber.

“I wonder if I may ask one thing?”

“Yes, ask whatever you like.”

“Just what is it you do every day?

I wonder if your opinion is actually worth anything?”


“She doesn't do anything.”

“Wha... Rider!”

“Isn't that right, Shirou?”

Rider fixes her eyes in my direction.

Even through those glasses, her Mystic Eyes are burning―――

“In other words, you're just a freeloader?”

“Yep, just another hungry freeloader.”

“And yet, you preach to us?”

“Please wait, um... you two are forgetting your duties!

Are not we Servants before shop clerks, housewives, or freeloaders?

Our duty is to battle, to put that aside to relax is a mistake...”

“Could you at least look for a job?

After watching me go off to work, don't you have no right to speak?”

“In the humble opinion of a former princess, I wonder if it is right for a king to presume to understand the lives of the common people?”

Those two are pissed and not showing any mercy.

“W-What are you two saying?

I was eating obanyaki as part of a patrol to better understand the plight of the common folk!”

“Please stop going around just to sample foods, it's unseemly.”

“You should re-examine your own life before worrying about others.”

“W-What should I do?”

“You were talking about being a Servant, shouldn't you find something a little more productive to do?”

“That's right, get some work experience. You should become my exclusive model. I will have you dressed from my collection every day.”

“―――There's a limit to how counterproductive you can be.

Lessons should be learned through one's own experience, but I can hardly approve of traumatizing someone so ignorant of the world with such shady recruitment practices.”

“Hm, such a large woman like you wouldn't be welcome to model for me.”

“―――I don't want to hear that from a woman well past her prime.”

“What did you say? Did you think I wouldn't hear?

Sorry, but did you think these pointed ears are just for show?”

“Ah, you two are at it again...!”

Those two are hitting each other below the belt.

At this rate even Saber will get dragged in. With the three big Servants flying around in a fierce battle, the shopping district will turn into a scene of carnage―――!


““You there! Don't run away just because it's gotten awkward!””

“.........Um, are you alright?”

The tension completely disappeared.

Geez, are they on good terms or bad...?

Emiya Residence・Start of Night Things to do

Night・Streets at night (patrol)

Night・ Silver thread

The sky is close.

The tallest building in the city. Tonight, the rooftop is once again strikingly lit by the strong moon light.


I don't really have a reason for coming here.

I'm not looking over the city.

Instead, my eyes are always directed upward.

The moon is close.

The missing lunar phase somehow looks like a grail.

Suddenly, I get the foolish notion that maybe I could reach it from here.

I'd need a rocket to go to the moon.

Either that, or a nauseatingly long ladder. Without that, I wouldn't be able to get there.

“Might as well go back. Nothing to do here by myself.”

I leave behind the silver thread.

This is where the sky, the empty sky, is.

Even with this tall a tower, I cannot reach it, not yet, not in the beginning.

Emiya Residence・Start of Night・Good Night

Day 2

Town・Special Quartet

I was about to go out, but I stop.

I suddenly remembered the promise I made with Illya.

Today's weather is great, so we should take advantage of the opportunity.

Illya has been lazing on the living room floor.

The TV is still on, a book is wide open on the table, and there are the remains of cake on a plate. She's actually bored out of her mind.

“It's pretty rare to see you just idling about the house, Illya.

Don't you have anything else to do today?”

“Mmmm, noooope.

What a waste, I don't have to sleep until tonight, but I'm sooo bored...”

Sprawled on the floor, she starts childishly kicking her feet.

“I-Illya. Hold on a minute.

Ack, if you keep kicking like that, I can see...”

“Huh? Whaddya say, Shirou?”


She's let herself go.

She's always been somewhat of a tomboy, but it looks like the normally well-mannered Illya is so bored she's completely lost her refinement.

“...Well, my timing couldn't be better.

Okay, Illya. If you have that much free time, let's go to the pool.”


Instantly, Illya stops her kicking.

“Shirou, what did you say just now...?”

“Well, today is pretty hot for an autumn day, and we did make a promise with Saber earlier, didn't we?

So I'm saying, let's go to the pool together.”

“Y-You mean, with me...?”

“With you. The only ones in the living room are you and I.”


The apathetic mood of the living room suddenly changes into rose-colored ecstasy.

“Let's go! Let's go! Let's absolutely go---!!!!

Hooray! To the pool with Shirou on a daaaate!”

“I-I'm happy that you're so thrilled about it.

It's just the same pool as usual, but that's okay, right?”

“Of course! That rumored giant theme park?

I prepared my bathing suit way ahead of time, so I'm ready to go right now.”

“Oh, then let's head out while it's still morning. I'm almost done getting ready, too.”

“Yeah! If we wait around people are going to show up to get in the way, so let's blitzkrieg over there right now!”

“That is unacceptable, Milady. Regarding your date with Emiya-sama, there are limits to such play.”

“S-Sella!? Didn't you go back to the castle!?”

“No. I remained behind, seeing as, according to the horoscope, your fortune was going to be the worst today. In the area of male-female relations, specifically.

Thus, I concealed myself in a vacant chamber, against the occasion that Emiya-sama would make an untoward advance towards Milady.”


...Well, okay.

Actually, isn't it even more bad-mannered to hide in an empty room in somebody else's house?

“A vacant room, right.

Sella, so you just went and claimed a room that nobody was using for yourself?”

“Hmph. It is rather demeaning, but it seems Milady has chosen this lowly place as her holiday villa. I appropriated a room just in case of such an event.”


―――I'd expect such words from a dictator, much less a rude maid.

“...So in short, you were eavesdropping.

That's not exactly a praiseworthy hobby, Sella.”

Illya scowls at her maidservant.

"Yup," I nod in agreement.

“You are quite right to scold me. However, since this concerns Milady's best interests, I beg your understanding.

...T-That is, at the risk of repeating myself, I believe it is somewhat early for Milady to be engaging in rendezvous such as "dates."

In addition, that―――”

“That, what?”

“That place you call a p-pool. Milady cannot possibly engage in such vulgar pursuits of leisure!

It may be fine for the lower classes such as ourselves, but lady Illyasviel is the heir to a noble bloodline! To speak of exposing your naked body to the common rabble utterly strains the limits of impropriety!

The only ones that could possibly worship Milady's body are the ones that have already vowed to devote their future to her!”


...Illya is taken aback.

"She sure is old fashioned," is what I was thinking, but to think that she would be this adamant about it...

“...Alright, let's put aside that argument for a moment.

Since you think the pool is such a vulgar place, does that mean you won't go?”

I have a feeling I have seen a person strongly resembling Sella there once.

“Huh? W-Well, if you are asking whether I would like to go or not, that is a rather difficult question to answer...”

“Sella, if I come too, then there will be three swimsuits. Awesome.”


......Hmph. W-Well, I suppose there's no crime in the pool itself.

It is the throngs of people that will be there that I am worried about...”

“What about them? Then why not just reserve the whole place?”



Unintentionally, my eyes meet Sella's.

“Illya, when you say reserve... are you talking about reserving all of Waku Waku Splash?”

“? That's right, what's wrong with that?

I mean, when we go to the department store, we reserve the whole place for a day, too.”

"Silly Shirou," her curious expression says.


...Speaking of curious, why is this Princess even wasting her time here at the Emiya household?

“Sella, just take care of it. I don't care how. It isn't open yet, so you can get by with just money and no magic, can you not?”

“Ah... no, Milady, that would be...”

“Are you trying to tell me it can't be done?

I am the successor to the Einzbern, and are you not its head maid? Do you dare shake your head to something I say CAN be done?”

“I-It is possible! I can certainly arrange for an establishment of that size to be reserved right away!

But Milady, the question of Emiya-sama accompanying you is-”

“-not a problem. Shirou is my future consort. Isn't it natural for him to accompany me to the pool?”



Unintentionally... I couldn't meet Sella's eyes.

Scary. This is absurdly terrifying.

And also somehow noisy.

“...As you wish.

Then, Milady is intent on going to the pool with Emiya-sama, no matter what, is that correct?”

“That's right. Nothing you say today will stop me.”

Illya's determination is firm.

Sella takes one more worried look at Illya and another, far more annoyed one, at me.

“...Understood. If Milady is so determined, I will not stop you. We shall reserve Waku Waku Splash as you so desire.

However. I also have one condition.”

“A condition?”

“Yes. It concerns your decision to go to the pool with Emiya-sama at any cost―――”

The scheming maid grins broadly.

Wasting no time at all, she proceeds to explain her "bargaining point" concisely.

“Eh, that's it?”

“Yes, it is but a small request.”

Illya and I had expected much more opposition.

Sella's request seems simple enough, so Illya readily accepts her proposal.

...Let me correct myself.

She makes the mistake of accepting Sella's proposal.

“Hmm, this is great pool weather!

As expected of the Einzbern, you were able to reserve Splash on such a great day! I don't think I could ever spend money so frivolously even if my life depended on it, but it sure is nice to be on the receiving end~♪”

“Truly. On top of that, you went as far to greet us, who weren't even invited.

You have my thanks, Illyasviel. I had misunderstood you until now.

And Shirou, it appears I had misunderstood you as well.”

“Wow, it actually says that the park is temporarily closed today... incredible. An event like this is probably once in a lifetime, isn't it?

No, normally it would never happen at all!

Illya-san, thank you so much! T-Today, I'll definitely be on my best behavior!”

“Sakura, there is no need to hold back.

Everyone is equal at the poolside. That is the place where one's body alone decides victory... I think you are more than suited to fulfill that role.”

“Well well, you're pretty firm about that, Rider.

But isn't the goddess of the poolside supposed to be a perfectionist? She might fill out some parts well, but if the rest falls short, that'll be nothing to smile about.

Speaking of which, Sakura, have you put on a bit of weight?”

“...Quid pro quo, I see... Certainly, you bring up a point that is a cause for concern...”

“...Uu... In that case, you would definitely be the best, Rider...”

“What is it, Rider? What's wrong with my shoulder?”

“Nothing... Well, I suppose people have various personal tastes.

Be it volume, proportions, or bashfulness.

Considering the judge's biased preferences, the greatest opponent would be either youSaber, or perhaps―――”

“It's all about balance. If your measurements aren't perfectly proportional, nothing else matters. Haven't you heard of Liebig's Barrel?”

“B-But as a Japanese, wouldn't you try to top everyone else in one area!? You know, like what they thought the battleship Yamato would do.”

“...I don't understand what the two of you are talking about, but... Rider, what about you?”

“―――I am out of the question. I may have a more or less attractive physique, but compared to the rest of you, I have a long way to go.

...Saber, you should be more appreciative of the fact that you have a wonderful figure.”

The group strolls happily through the park in front of the train station.


...It's hard to say anything.

We're in the same party as they are.

“........................I'm sorry, Shirou.”

“........................No, I should be the one apologizing. Sorry, Illya.”

It's not that I hadn't noticed Sella eavesdropping.

My mistake was my carelessness in bringing up the subject of the pool within the Emiya residence in the first place.

“My, what is the matter, Emiya-sama? You seem to be a little unwell?

Fufu. You will not be able to escort Milady in your current state, you do realize?”

“Yep yep. Shirou, cheer up.”

Liz claps me on the shoulder.

Let's return to the conversation from an hour ago.

The one condition that Sella brought out was, "Take other people with you."

“What, that's it?”

“Hmm... it's too bad, but someone like Saber would be okay.”

“...Then is that satisfactory?

Ahem. It is decided. You who would like to attend the Waku Waku Splash reservation, please come in.”

“Heeere. I've canceled all of my afternoon plans, so count me in.”

“T-Tohsaka!? Where did you come from!?”

“Erm... t-the more the merrier!”

“Sakura!? E-Even you were eavesdropping on us!?”

“"Eavesdropping" carries such a negative connotation. We merely happened to be mopping this particular hallway.

And Rin happened to be dusting the porch.

And she was―――”

“I-I just remembered the leftover sweet bun I was keeping, so I was passing by on my way to the kitchen.”

...I was much too careless.

It's been a few minutes since Illya's shout of joy.

While we weren't paying attention, the living room had been completely surrounded...

“What's wrong, you two? Aren't we going to Splash soon? Isn't it bad to be so tired when we haven't even left yet?”

“I'm trying to decide which one of you is to blame.”

"Hmph," she objects with a half-opened eye.

The bustle is nice, I suppose, but we had been hoping for a little quieter outing.

“Let's go! Let's go! Let's absolutely go---!!!!

Hooray! To the pool with Shirou on a daaaate!”

When I think back to how happy Illya had been, I can't think of anything to say.

“Well, you're obviously upset. As always, it's written all over your face.”

“What do you mean, "it"?”

“Even though you're generally not picky, when you don't like something you don't hide it, is what I'm saying.

So you really did want to go alone with Illya, right?”

“Of course. That was the promise from the beginning.”

“And what if you got to be all alone?

After a while our group will be off doing their own thing anyway. Saber and company aren't an issue. And I'll keep Sella and Liz busy for you.”

Tohsaka quietly whispers in my ear.

...I'm not sure if she actually feels bad for Illya, but her overflowing kindness is scaring me instead.

“...Well, thanks. But I get the feeling you're scheming something.”

“Oh my, is my reputation truly so dubious? I, Tohsaka Rin, would never stoop so low as to peek or eavesdrop on your private business. Indeed, all I wish is for you to enjoy yourself today with Illya!”

“...Each time you open your mouth you sound even more suspicious. Are you really okay with leaving a guy alone with a girl of his own age?”

“Of course, I will place my trust in Emiya-kun's judgment regarding this matter.

Won't it be easy to engage in some clean, wholesome socializing, even without us watching?”


...Was that supposed to be a warning?

“Well, for now let's all have fun together. The day has only begun, after all!”

And with a parting wave, she makes a beeline back to Saber's group.

She's hopping back and forth not unlike a piston in a reciprocating engine.

“―――This is troubling. It's rare to find someone so obviously good-natured.”


“I'm saying she's like you, Shirou. In her own way, Rin is being considerate of us.

Well, the fact that she puts her own pleasure first is an important distinction from you.”

With a complete change of heart, Illya's voice is brimming with cheerfulness.

It's as if her somber mood earlier was nothing but an act.

“Are you okay with this, Illya? This isn't what I promised you.”

“At this point, it can't be helped.

Besides, look at the bright side. You personally invited me, we've got a perfect pool to play at, and it's not every day we can all go out together, right?”


Now that you mention it, this is no less special than going to the pool alone with Illya.

“You're right. We probably wouldn't have this chance even once a year.”

“Right? It'd be a waste to not enjoy ourselves.

Seize the day!

It might not be what we expected, but that doesn't mean it won't be fun!”

She smiles sweetly.

There's still a few more minutes until we reach our destination. With cheerfulness that couldn't possibly lose to Tohsaka's group, Illya managed the rest of the journey with gusto.

“There really isn't anyone here...”

Facing each other like rows and rows of mirrors,

the quiet dressing room is lined with unused lockers.

I'm the only person in this room that would normally be teeming with pool-goers.

Though this is obvious given that we've reserved the whole park, the fact that I'm the only man in this huge space makes me a little nervous.

“Okay, I'm ready. Now, we were going to meet at the poolside first...”

I shut my locker and head for the pool deck.


On the way out, I'm troubled by the sight of a single closed locker.


Stifling the urge to shout "Echo!", I hurry over to the poolside.

The summer rays beat down relentlessly.

I spy man-made waves, as far as the eye can see.


Again, for some reason I want to shout.

I had my worries about feeling lonely in a huge reservation such as this, but now it's clear that those were unnecessary doubts.

“I wanna jump in...... I wanna swim...... I wanna dive...”

My body itches with anticipation.

Seeing such a huge, totally uninhabited pool makes me want to charge forth with a war cry and dive right in.

“...No, all in good time. Everybody else came along, so what would they think if I ran in first by myself?”

It's times like these when I have to exercise my masculine integrity.

If I touch the water I know I won't be able to take it any longer, so I head away from the pool for a bit to wait for Saber and the rest.

“Sorry for the wait. It looks like you really were the first to come out, Shirou.”

“Oh, Saber?”

I turn to face the voice behind me.

“――――――, eh?”

...Allow me to make a confession.

Until now, I hadn't truly understood what a bigfreaking deal it was to "go to the pool with everyone."

“H-How do I look, Shirou?

This is my first time wearing a swimsuit, so I'm not confident with the fit.”

Her eyes show half anxiety, and half anticipation.

“――――No, um, it's so incredible I can't say whether it's good or bad.”

I, who has just been whacked over the head by a surprise attack, am unable to form a single coherent thought.

The white color suits Saber, but the bold yet minimalist design is a direct opposite.

A bikini-style swimsuit shows that Saber's natural beauty is impressive even in this light.

“Thank you. Your swimsuit suits you as well, Shirou.”

“Eh, ah, that's great, thanks!

So, s-so, I wonder where Tohsaka and the rest are!”

“Rin and the others should be coming along shortly.

We separated as soon as we entered the changing room. We did decide to go to the poolside without waiting for each other, however...”

“That's right. For the two of us, changing clothes is a simpler matter. Sakura and the others will take a while longer, it seems.”

“――――――, huh?”

At the sound of the second voice, a tingle runs down my spine.

Just now, that voice as cool as ice came from―――

An alluring, sultry figure... a sharp contrast to Saber's.

A black swimsuit that also suits her well, yet its design is bold in a far different, adult way.

It's a bikini like Saber's, but somehow I get a more mature chic coming from her.

Even so, the air of glamor around her probably comes from the fact that her slightly less revealing swimsuit nonetheless leaves little of her curvaceous figure to the imagination.

Thus, two of us tense at the sight of Rider.


I don't know what Saber's thinking, but I have no more excuses left to beg forgiveness with. As a man, I simply can't take my eyes off her.

“T-This is, again―――”

I swallow the half-conceived words before they leave my mouth.

After all, right after Saber, another incredibly stunning spectacle just appeared before my eyes...!

“...? Am I interrupting something?

Judging by your response, I presume I've intruded upon a rather intimate exchange...?”

And of course, Rider gets a completely wrong idea.

“No, it's not what you think...

...Right. The truth is that we were just surprised.

I humbly admit defeat, Rider... Even I would be envious to have just half your stature.”


It pains me to say this, but the one who feels defeated is me.

You fail to realize your own magnificence. If I could even have... one-tenth of your beauty―――”


Rider mumbles something incoherently.

The two of us watch as Rider seems to shrink back pitifully.

“...I don't understand why you would feel that way.

Rider, you look really cool in that swimsuit. Together with Saber, that's like, the greatest banquet of all time!”

Wow, am I pathetic.

I talk about food even when I'm praising someone!

“S-Shirou, I appreciate your compliments, but I cannot accept the way you present them. There is no woman in this world who would be happy being called "cool."”


But isn't having your swimsuit figure praised the highest compliment?”

―――A third challenger appears.

I'm ready for anything. After the nuclear strike that was Saber and Rider, nothing could possibly faze me now. I turn my head towards the new voice.

And there,

making a gorgeous display, she walks up in a red swimsuit.

“What do you think? For women, swimsuits are like battle uniforms.

Wouldn't you agree that they're more about style than cuteness?”

Without thinking, we awkwardly nod at Tohsaka, her attitude brimming with confidence.

First white, then black, and now a flashy red bikini.

It's the kind of design I'd otherwise feel embarrassed to even look at, but the person in question carries herself with such magnificence that I could stare at it with a clean conscience all day.

“So? Thoughts, Emiya-kun?”

“...It's definitely your style to put me at a complete loss for words, Tohsaka.”

Of course, she's certainly elegant, but at the same time there's a loveliness about her that I, regrettably, will have to leave to myself.

“A uniform... I see, even a magus who cannot contend in hand-to-hand can fight with a swimsuit... and it appears ideal for underwater combat, as well.”

“Indeed, you wear it with grace... as befits you, Rin.”

Rider hangs her head as she acknowledges Tohsaka's splendor.

“Thanks. But you know, I can only look like this because all of you are here.”

“Hm? What is that supposed to mean?”

“I mean that everyone has their own style, so there's nothing to be ashamed of. Like, if you don't bring out your own special traits, you'll fall behind.

Overall proportions-wise, Rider's got no equal.”

Saber nods in assent with Tohsaka-sensei's lecture, but Rider isn't so quick to agree.

“So is that your pet theory?

...What a shameless woman. How typical of a Tohsaka to crave the limelight.”


Everyone turns to face the unexpected retort.

A fourth speaker had entered the conversation without anyone noticing.

That is, without a doubt,

without a doubt... Who?


Tohsaka and I stare intently at the fourth woman.

At our rude gazes, the silver-haired woman's face begins to cloud with a frown.

...Hey, wait.

Silver hair, red eyes, and that manner of speech―――


“...Hmph. We have no need to expose ourselves any more than is necessary. It's only natural that you would not recognize me now that I have taken off my formal garments.”


I... can't really imagine her wearing anything other than her usual maid clothes.

Even though her brilliant green bathing suit is just a one-piece, it's like a breath of fresh air.

It's probably because Sella herself always has that clean and proper air about her.

Her facial expression aside, the words "Yamato NadeshikoIdeal Woman" spring to mind.

“W-Why are you giving me such looks?

If you have any complaints, then out with it! I am simply dressing in accord with Milady's wishes.

Though it may be of little import in the eyes of uncultured strangers, I am well aware that I should not flaunt myself thus before acquaintances...”

Sella hastily covers her body.

Sure, she might not have much confidence in her own looks, but...

“You don't care if strangers see you, but you do if it's us?

...No, that's not it. Now I get it, you sure are stubborn, Sella-san. It's not mere acquaintances you're worried about, but the eyes of our boy Emiya-kun?”

“K-Kyaaaa, w-what are you insinuating!?

I-I am merely a-a-ashamed of displaying my body, the imperfect offshoot that I am of the noble Einzbern line!

E-Even you were embarrassed by not being able to match Rider's proportions, weren't you!?”

“Not really.

Maybe I can't beat her in sheer volume, but I don't lose to her in terms of balance.

And what's wrong with that? Everybody has their own strong points when it comes to wearing our swimsuits.”

“Weren't the comic faces Emiya-kun was making proof enough of that?

Whether it's Saber, Rider, me, you, or anyone else, we all have our own charms. There's no reason to feel shame just because you don't match up to someone else in one particular, are―――”


Tohsaka's expression freezes.

“S-Sorry to keep you all waiting!”

The subject of her gaze, and the anxious owner of this fifth voice, rushes over to us in a fluster.


With all her might, Tohsaka tries to continue her speech.

That everyone had her own charms in a swimsuit.

That losing to someone else's figure in one area was no cause for concern.

It's very nice of her to be saying this, it really is.

...But her reaction is understandable, too.

I mean, what's up with that?

Rider she can overlook.

She's older than us. And a foreigner. And originally a goddess of fertility. It's not hard to believe she's cut from a different cloth than the rest of us.

BUT. Seeing this girl, younger than all of us, AND a blood sister, sporting guns... as high-caliber as THAT, is certainly enough to make even Tohsaka tremble. Let alone create trouble for me.

“Sakura, you...”

Tohsaka's former aplomb gives way to melancholy.

Her eyes bore into Sakura's chest.

“Uh, yes!? What is it, Nee-san!?”

“Like you need to ask... did you get even bigger?”


With a start, Sakura freezes in her tracks.

Tohsaka's tone is dripping with something more akin to death agony than her usual sarcasm.

How should I put it - it's like she's clinging to her last shred of reason, and asking a normal question that any older sister would ask.


“No no, Sakura. Rin is simply trembling in awe of your bust size, which seems to have grown again.

And with a single sentence, Rider draws a line between the strong and the weak in this battle.

“Ah... oh, you, Nee-san! Is that all it is?

It's okay, there's nothing to be worried about, you know~

Everyone has her own charms in a swimsuit. It can't be helped if you're completely hopeless in one area, right? You said it yourself, didn't you? The most important thing is balance, right, Nee-san?”

Sakura's smile is so smug I can almost hear the "oh ho ho ho" gloating in her voice.

“Uu... sob... uuuuu... I won't forget this, Sakuraaa!!!”

“Excellent work. Not only have you struck the first victory against Rin, you have completely shattered her resolve.

That's our Sakura for you.”

“Yup, we did it, Rider!

Fufufu, my bust size is without equal!”


The devil has fled.

However, this has only led to the birth of an even more fearsome demon.

“...Ugh. Hey, Sakura. It's not like Tohsaka had anything malicious in mind, you know.”

No, rather, she didn't bear Sakura even a millimeter of ill will.

“You're too naive, Senpai! The poolside is the battlefield of all women, and those without strength deserve only to run home in tears! Here, chest size is the strategic asset!”

Sakura is getting fired up as I've never seen her before.

And Rider is dutifully extolling the tyrant's words with applause.

“Sakura, those are dangerous thoughts.

Those who believe "might is right" will only fall to even greater strength.

You ought to reconsider. There's still time to go and reconcile with Rin, who's now fallen into such despair she seems to be gulping juice by the liter.”

“Do not worry, Saber-san. There are no enemies that could challenge me, after all.

Today, Waku Waku Splash will undoubtedly be the best day of Matou Sakura's life! Today, not Saber-san, not even Nee-san, no, I can't lose to anyone...!!!!”

A bolt of lightning crashes down.

Sakura is overflowing with unprecedented self-confidence.

...It's hopeless. If she shows me those, I'd definitely have to cast my vote for...... No, wait.

――――――What the hell is that?

“......Saber. You knew?”

“...Yes. When we were changing, she had me help her with them.”

We both let out solemn sighs of exasperation.

“S-Senpai? Saber-san? What's the matter? Why do you look like you've seen something impossible?”

“"What's the matter"... Yeah, that's exactly it, Sakura.”

“...Regrettably, your reign over the world was short-lived, Sakura.”

“O-Oh, come on, Rider... uu, don't turn your head away from me like that...”

Timidly, Sakura follows her gaze.

And there,

“Wait, that's IMPOSSIBLE---------!!!!!?”

Surpassing even Sakura, the sixth challenger enters the fray.

“? Sella, what happened?”

It goes without saying who this next person is.

The other maid, Liz, also known as Leysritt.

“Nothing to concern yourself over, Leysritt. That was just the pitiful howl of a whipped loser.”

“A loser? Sakura?”

“...Yeah. Liz, your swimsuit has such overwhelming power that Sakura had no choice but to surrender.”


“...F-For power to be crushed by even greater power... T-This is the first time that lesson has struck home so deeply~...”

“...Fufufu, now you understand, Sakura.

That's right, balance is definitely essential. Humans should never get caught up on one thing.”

“Yes, I realize that now, Nee-san... it seems I still have much to learn about the ways of the world...”

And so the losers renew their bonds of sisterly love.

“But seriously... you two look great.

Since you don't give the impression of being very outgoing, I wasn't sure if you would be all right coming to the pool. What a waste. If I had known, I would have invited you all out sooner.”

Illya herself would probably feel better knowing the two of them are around.

“I-I would have to refuse. And I do, in fact, show up to relax at the pool once in a while!”

“Oh, really?”

“...Right. I do catch sight of her from time to time.”

“Yep. Because, no stream in the forest. And, Sella loves swimming.”

“E-Enough about my pastime!

What about the young lady?! Leysritt, were not you in charge of helping her get dressed!?”

“Yup. See, Illya here now.”


I look around, wondering when she appeared.


...Huh... there's something wrong with me.

My vision's gone out of focus, and, oddly enough, I'm unable to form any words.

“How lovely! It really suits you, Illyasviel.”

“Yeah, really! To think that your whole image would change so much... I now have a way different view of the color pink.”


“Ahaha... S-Somehow, it really makes your heart throb, doesn't it, Senpai?”

“Ah―――uh, yeah.”

At the sound of Sakura's voice, I absently nod in agreement.

“...Emiya-sama. Do you still not have any words for Milady?”

Sella's polite speech almost seem like a foreign language to me.

My blank mind is unable to come up with a reply.


“You don't have to ask, Sella. It's obvious from the look on Shirou's face.”

“But, Milady, this is a once in a lifetime, no, I doubt that Emiya Shirou would ever receive such an honor again no matter how many times he is reborn. He ought to be given an opportunity to respond to it.”

“Oh, now you're just exaggerating, Sella. Shirou is just in awe. I'd welcome that any day~”

Illya merrily skips towards the water.

With a flourish of her glimmering silver hair, she suddenly turns and says,

“Thank you all for waiting so long.

Now, allow me to declare an official start to Everybody Play Their Hearts Out at Splash Day!”

A salute accompanies her opening speech.

Thus the curtain rises on the never-ending summer festival that began with a whimsical idea.

Time flew by like sand in a funnel.

Splitting into two teams, we ran events like the 100 meter relay, beach volleyball from hell, turning the current in the flow pool lounge up to maximum, a great rubber boat survivor battle, and so forth.

Nearly running out of ideas for games involving a large number of people, we finally settled for lunch at one o'clock.

I've been taking advantage of the break to relax on a bench.

I don't know if Illya's group is resting as well. They seem to be splashing around in the wave pool.

Saber and Sakura and the rest are clearly having fun, but Illya I simply can't look at with a straight face.

“...But man...”

What a sight.

Could it be that I've gotten myself lost in some unbelievable paradise?

“Looking at it from the side, it truly is an awesome view.”

“Yes, it is quite nice, isn't it? That isn't something you see every day.”

“Right? As unsociable as I'm said to be, I still feel the urge to jump right in.”

“Hm, surely, keeping your male reproductive instinct in check in this situation must pose a certain problem to you, no?”

“Nah, that much I don't have to hold back.”

"Ha ha ha." We share a hearty chuckle.

“What the... just when did you get here...!?”

“I beg your pardon? I was sure you saw me earlier, but might you have failed to notice me?

In that case, my apologies. I suppose salutations are overdue.”


...I hate that.

No matter how well-behaved he may act, it'll never be enough to put me at ease.

“...So. What are you doing here?

This park is reserved today, you know.”

“Of course I know! I was the one who authorized the reservation, after all~”

“Ergh. When you say you authorized it, you're telling me...”

“Yes, I am the owner of this establishment.”

He answers plainly.

Well. Let's not think too hard about it for now.

“...No wonder the name is so terrible... Well, that's fine. But even if you own the place, that's no excuse to crash someone else's party.”

“Well, it is not exactly the usual thing to do. But perhaps you would have preferred the red and the blue guy show up instead, Onii-san?

Earlier I caught them attempting to trespass, so I chased them off for you.”

“―――Thank you. It seems I've completely misunderstood you this whole time.”

I firmly shake his hand.

He returns the handshake with a happy smile.

In that very moment, our acquaintance was forged into a true friendship, if only for a single day.

Serves them right, that damn macho Servant duo...!

“Well, I'm grateful that you drove off those interlopers... but I can't help but think you have some other aim here.”

“Not at all, not even one bit! Those who interfere in another's love... My heart's desire is not here, in any case.”

“Your heart's desire...?”

If I recall... he's not talking about Saber.

For some reason, his tastes are different when he's in this form.

“Saber-san isn't too bad, I must admit. I have no interest in snakes, nor do I care for artificial flowers.

As for the magus sisters... well, perhaps if I have free time.”


Again, he lets it all out nonchalantly.

He's either the man who's only interested in one girl, or the boy who will steal the attention of anyone he cares to.

Either one comes with his own dangers.

“Speaking of which, Onii-san, which one is the apple of your eye? If you know your favorite already, it's not the best time to be sitting around idly, I would dare say.”


I know that even without you saying it to my face.

I finally recall why we went so far out of our way to come here.

“You're right. I guess I was pretty wishy-washy back there.

...Wait, were you...”

Did he sneak in after watching and was unwilling to just let it pass?

“No way. I'm overthinking it.”

“Oh? Are you going already?”

“Yeah. I have to teach Illya how to swim.”


He makes an expression I just can't fault.

I thought I heard him mutter, "Was no need to interfere, after all".

“Right. Well then, some other time.

I shall withdraw, so take your time and enjoy yourselves.”

Pushing his way through the tall grass, the childlike owner of Splash leaves like a gentleman.

“―――, right then...!”

I stand up from the bench, and slap my cheeks.

“Heeey! Illya-!”

I call over to Illya while waving.

It's a little late, but I'm fulfilling my promise now.


First, the plan is to work up plenty of spirit and use it to set up a swimming class for Illya, but...

“Look! I'm doing fine, right?

I can swim now!”


Mission accomplished.

Illya, who hadn't taken part in the 100 meter relay earlier this morning, is putting on a fantastic show of the forward crawl...!

“...That's incredible. You might even be a better swimmer than I am, Illya.”

“I don't get to swim often, but it's my specialty of specialties!

If I felt like it I could brave the stormy seas! But that's tiring, so I won't.”

I might have made her upset.

Until I brought her out here to the middle of the wave pool, she had been in a good mood.

“Sorry. But since you can swim, Illya, there are now lots more things we can do in the afternoon. Let's form a team and take down Rider and Saber next.”

“Y-Yeah. Sure, I'd like that, but...

Before that, let's rest for a bit more.”

That's what she says, but she makes no move to get out of the pool.

It seems like Illya just wants to float here for a while.

“Then we'll stay here a while longer.

...But seriously, you're really good at swimming, Illya. Did Sella teach you how?”

“Huh? I'm the one who taught Sella, you know?

...Sella's a bit scatterbrained, but she loves the water. I can't recall how many times I've had to save her from drowning.”

“No way. Sella's bad at physical exercise?”

“Being bad at it is one thing, but she's completely hopeless!

But she insisted, "Water is the source of our lives so I must learn to embrace it!" and kept begging me to teach her.

And thanks to that I became a good swimmer. Really, I knew how to swim in nothing but theory back then.”

She laughs happily.

...That's good. At least it looks like I cheered her up a little.

“...Hold on. So you learned to swim on your own?”

“That's right. I am a mermaidLorelei, after all. For sure, I can at least learn swimming from the water itself.”


Same as before.

At Illya's smile, my mind goes oddly blank.

The floating, dizzying feeling is close to a vertigo, but definitely not it.


L-Look, I know I shouldn't be thinking these things, but it's like this, see, erm,

“Stop, don't go there...!

H-H-H-Hey Illya, let's swim! Let's make a lap around the wave pool, and head back to Saber and the rest!”

Trembling, I frantically shake my head in denial.

“Nope, rejected. I said I wanted to rest, didn't I?

If you're bored, okay... Shirou, let me ask you a question.”

“A question?”

“Right. You've seen everyone in their swimsuits by now.

Who is the prettiest one among us?”

“Who's the prettiest one...?”

“Right. Which one?”


Ergh, that's a tough one.

Everyone is just as pretty... no, that probably won't fly.

“Geez, you're hopeless.

Then what about Saber? What do you think of her, Shirou?”

“Saber is... yeah, she's fit... and prim and pretty like a lone flower.”

“Then next, how about Rider?”

“Rider is pretty too, but... more than that she has that mature look to her. Her beauty is like, how I would describe an Olympic athlete.”

“...Then, what about Rin?”

“Tohsaka's just brilliant. I mean, hers is the easiest to understand of them all.”

“............And Sella?”

“Sella is... yeah, she and Liz were pretty unexpected. I was surprised to see how pretty the two of them were.”


“Sakura's pretty too, and I'm also never sure where to point my eyes when I look at her. I mean, she just has that wholesome, scary sexiness to her, you know...?”


Illya cuts off her questions.

With a small splash, she sinks into the water a little,

“..............................Alright, what about me?”

And that's what she hurls at me.

I hang my head.

...That's right.

I think everyone is about equally beautiful. But if I had to choose one above all...

“......Illya, you made my heart race the most.”

Damn it, at this point there's no point in lying to myself any longer.

This sudden loss of integrity isn't a lie at all. Illya in her swimsuit really did charm me to the point that my head went blank.

“My heart is throbbing even now.

...Um, yeah. What about you, Illya?”

Scratching my cheek, I manage to meet her gaze as I ask the question.

“Yeah! Mine too, Shirou!”

Throwing her arms around my neck, Illya pushes me into the water.

“Shirou, you idiot!

I've been waiting three whole hours! I was just about to start hating you!”

She spins around, still attached to my neck.

“But I made it in time, didn't I? We've still got all afternoon.

So where do we go next, Illya?”

“The water slides! Ah, with Saber and the rest, of course. For making me wait all morning, I'm gonna show you off to everybody!”

The splash she makes is as big as her voice is loud.

Like a child who's been waiting forever for her birthday to come, Illya's little body positively brims with excitement.

“―――All right. It's gonna be scary from here, but let's show them the power of our relationship!”

With Illya riding piggyback, we hurry over to the pool where everyone else is waiting.

Happy voices ring out ever louder.

Just like the never-ending summer catchphrase, the best day of our lives will continue for a little longer.

Soon, evening was upon us.

I guess even the wildest party at a reserved Splash could not run away from the setting sun.

“Ahh, I'm exhausted.

Whose bright idea was it to have us race around all of the pools? Without a doubt, my whole body is going to ache tomorrow morning.”

“But it was fun. Until today, I'd always been too embarrassed to try things like the five-meter diving board.”

“Using the food stand's griddle to make lunch was also quite ingenious.

It is not often that we get to cook yakisoba together.”

“Your cooking was terrible.

On the other hand, your lottery luck is outrageous to the point of being unfair. Why must you make other people, myself in particular, suffer for the disasters you've caused yourself?”

Just as it did in the beginning, our group causes a loud commotion, leaving hours of joy behind us.

Walking a distance behind the others, Illya and I watch their smiles.

I don't just casually observe them. It's not something that I'll probably see again, so I look hard, and carve that sight into my memory.

“Well, the special treatment ends today, Shirou.

Take a good rest. When we get home, the usual evenings will be waiting.”

“Thanks for the reminder. But don't worry, I won't be going out tonight. After swimming so much today, I'm completely beat.”

It's taking everything I have just to walk home.

The nostalgic scent of chlorine comes from my body, which spent the whole day in swimming pools.

Falling asleep tonight, the events of today that went by so quickly will be projected on my eyelids instead.

“Alright, we'll say our goodbyes at Miyama.

Sella and Liz really pushed themselves today, and I need to return to the castle tonight.”

“I see. Well, see you tomorrow, Illya.”

"Yeah," she nods.

Like older brother and younger sister (or was it older sister and younger brother?), we walk through the darkening town together.


as if meeting me for the first time, Illya gives an exaggerated bow.

“Today was fun, Shirou.

Thank you for remembering that small, easily overlooked promise.”

“I should be the one thanking you. Though I'm sorry it had to come so late.”

“Yeah. Someday, let's come here again, Onii-chan.”

The sky seems awfully distant.

Gradually, the sunlight disappears from the ground.

Today was undoubtedly a glorious day.

Unlike the fading sunlight, the memories we've created today will last forever.

Day 3

Emiya's・Day 3 Because I groom it twice a week

With a paperback book in one hand, I head toward Rider's room.

I've finished reading the one she lent me, so I came to return it and borrow another one.

“Rider, I'm coming in...”


Just what is this?

Tohsaka is studying Rider's hair from extremely close up,

while Rider stands by looking slightly bewildered.

Why is such a secret flower garden-esque atmosphere filling this room?

“Ah, Emiya-kun. What's up? Why are you just standing there stupefied with the door open?”

“...I just came to return this book, but...................................................... what are you two doing?”

Emotions still being processed, my voice comes out sounding like a robot's.

“Isn't it obvious? See, Rider's hair is so beautiful, I just gave in.”


Gave in... to what, exactly? Just what are you really up to here?

“Shirou, you've come to return the book, correct?

Please set it down over there. I will put it away later.”

“O-Okay... So, Rider. Did Tohsaka find out your weakness or something?”

I'm not entirely sure if there's a barely perceptible mistake in the delicate scene painted before me, or whether it is simply intended to play on the viewer's nerves...

Now that I look at her more closely, however, it seems Rider's not enjoying it that much, either.

“I do not believe there is anything to become so alarmed about.

Rin said that she desired a closer look at my hair, and when she offered to comb it for me, I simply accepted.”

“O-Oh, I see. Lucky yo-... no, wait, come to think of it, it's pretty rare to see you let someone else touch your hair, Rider.

And what about you, Tohsaka? What is it about Rider's hair that interested you so much?”

It could be related to magic.

It's said that women have strong magical power residing in their hair, so this could be related to some kind of new magic she picked up while she was in London.

“Well... Just look at it.”

As she speaks, Tohsaka gathers one section of Rider's hair in her hands, and then another.

Her eyes as she stares at it are full of serious concentration.

...All joking aside, right now she's the same Tohsaka Rin that appears when there's a precious gem around to be studied―――

“Why... doesn't she have a single split end?”


Seriously, what are you two doing?

“―――I can't believe this. Have you got that much time on your hands, Tohsaka?”

“B-But just look at it! Even though Rider's hair is this long, how can it look so nice from dawn to dusk, all day long? It would be a lot more strange for me to ignore this, as a girl.”

“I sometimes hear the same thing at the beauty salon. They appear to have difficulty accepting the fact that hair this long could exist without split ends.

Hair certainly seems to be a subject of unending interest to women.”

A tranquil smile surfaces over Rider's calm face.

Split ends, huh...? It's not something I've experienced myself, but they seem to be a serious issue as far as girls are concerned.

They do say that damaged hair will result in split ends, and girls with long hair must worry about this a lot.

“―――Shall I check your hair for split ends next, Rin?”

“Eh? A-Ah, no, there's no need for that!”

Tohsaka visibly falters at Rider's proposal.

“You put a great deal of effort into caring for your hair, correct? Its appearance is so smooth and silky that even I am envious.”

“Eh... T-That just makes me feel shy...”

Rider catches the ends of Tohsaka's hair between her fingers.

...The secret-flower-garden-o-meter just went off the scale.

I wouldn't be so foolish as to say so out loud, but this kind of situation could really lead one to imagine certain things.

“Oh my. Take a look at this, Rider. It seems we have an unwanted admirer staring at us.”


Whoops, almost let myself get caught there.

I tear my gaze away and look off somewhere else as I distance myself from them, now shivering.

“......Shirou seems not to have any split ends, either.”

“Eh? Ahh, I probably do, I just never bothered to look.”

“What a shame. If only your hair were a little longer, it would have been your turn next.”

Rider's tranquil smile has been replaced by a smug grin.

...I know I'm a little late in realizing this, but these ladies are the same two who are neck and neck in the house for the title of "most ill-tempered."

“Let's change the subject. Actually, the same subject is fine, as long as we talk about someone else.”

I enter a defensive stance.

The way this conversation is going, I'll end up as a toy for the two of them before long.

“Someone else, you say...... Ah, that reminds me.

There is another man in the area who I've wondered about before.”

“Who? I don't know of any guys around here with long hair.”

“I am speaking of Assassin, Sasaki Kojirou.”


Right, now that she mentions it... even as a guy, I can't help but notice how nice his long hair looks.

“Hold on. That guy's such a slacker, it wouldn't surprise me if he really spends all day just taking care of his hair.”

“However, Rin.

As he is also a Servant, it is probable that his hair is also free of split ends.”

“Kuh... how humiliating... I don't want to ask him about it and hear, "So it's the split ends that trouble you, is it? Hahaha, yes, indeed. A woman concerned with her physical appearance is a blossom in the full flower of maidenhood. As long as you remain a maiden, strive to become more beautiful," or something like that. I'd probably wind up sick in bed of the shock.”

“That does sound like something he would say, being as concerned with aesthetics as he is.”


No, "would" is the wrong word here. Her example is so fitting that I'm sure she's already had those very words said to her.

...But indeed, it's hard to resist the temptation to ask.

And not just about the split ends. That warrior's haori he's always wearing must also require quite a bit of looking after―――

―――Then again, maybe not.

No doubt that would end in me getting slashed in half.

“Let's just stop thinking about guys and their split ends. It's far too mentally taxing.”

“You and Sakura both have quite a difficult time with your hair, do you not?”

“Eh, I'm doing well enough myself, so please help Sakura out, Rider.

That girl has the potential to really shine with a bit more polish.”


I can't tell if this is consideration for her younger sister or a rival's encouragement.

“Yes. I shall help her so that in the future, she may test her mettle against Rin with her chest held high.”

“Although as far as chests are concerned, I'm the one in need of a push-up... Hey! You'd better not be laughing over there!”

“I-I'm not!”

Emiya Residence・Start of Night Things to do

Night・Streets at night (patrol)

Night・Haunted mansion

―――It's not too late.

Should I go back?

There is no point in coming here.*

I never knew about a Western mansion like this in the first place.*

There's absolutely nothing to do.*

It's just,*

A story I thought I had heard somewhere.*


It feels as if I was dreaming about the movie I saw before going to bed.

Of course, the original film had been rewritten as they saw fit and remade in a contemporary style, rather than simply revived.

And yet, if there were any scenes that haven't changed one bit from the original,

―――Two people in a Western mansion.*

I'm now trying to go back inside the dream, inside the film.

Feeling a chill, I start running.

I've already gone this far, I can't go back.

I need to make sure.

Whatever there is, whatever awaits me, it's the source of this uneasy feeling that covers all of the town.

I enter a large room on the second floor.

I see a scene I have seen so many times before.

There is―――*


―――Naturally, nobody's there.

There's no woman sleeping on the sofa.

No rotten man sitting in a chair.

Well, of course.

Because during daytime, it's nothing more than just a deserted old house.

“So, in the end...”

Those two don't even exist.

It's nothing but a dream. A mere fairy tale.

“Let's go back. I went a little far today.”

I leave the ghost mansion behind.

...Just in case, I look up at the window on the second floor. Nothing abnormal. Why would I do this? Still puzzled, I start walking down the hill.

Day 4

Emiya's・Day 4 Tohsaka exploration party

I come to, and realize that I've been spacing out in the storehouse for a while now.

After lunch, I decided to drop by on a whim, where it looks like I dozed off.

“...Yawnn... Well, I've got nothing to do here. Guess I'll go back.”

...Huh? It seems like there's someone in my room.

“...Who's there?”

They're quietly rifling through my belongings.

It might be Sakura, searching for clothes to put in the laundry―――no, that's not it.

“...Rin, I believe you are aware of how improper it is to do this sort of thing.”

“But aren't you even a little bit interested in it?”

...What are they doing?

I want to know what they're up to, but if I go in right now, I know Tohsaka will end up smooth-talking her way out of it somehow.

“...Let's wait and see.”

It's unusual for her not to have noticed my presence already if I'm this close.

It's even captured Saber's attention.

“Whether or not I'm interested has nothing to do with it, Rin.

We shouldn't do this. It's rude to Shirou.”

“But Emiya-kun probably sneaks into Saber's room like this all the time, you know?”


......I'm gonna kill her.

Well, I have gone into Tohsaka's room while she was away, but that was just to clean it.

“...Shirou would not do such a thing.”

“Don't be so sure. Emiya-kun is a teenage boy, after all. Ordinarily, if he's living together in the same house as a girl like Saber, he'd at least... you know...”

Seriously, I'm gonna kill her.

Right now, before she can say another word, I will straight-up kill―――

“...Be that as it may, I am without doubt that Shirou's room would not contain such a thing.”

“I wonder. I'm willing to bet that it does, though―――if I lose, I'll treat you to something nice.”

“A dorayaki from Edomaeya would be perfect, if you do not mind.”

...I wonder what would happen if Saber loses?

From what I see, it seems that Tohsaka has absolute confidence in this.

―――In any case, just what is it they're looking for?

“Allllrighty then, where shall we start our search?”

“...There's not that many places where you could hide something in this room to begin with.”

“Under the desk... or at the back of a drawer are the first ones that come to mind.”

It's almost as if she thinks she's on a treasure hunt.

I don't own anything embarrassing enough that I'd need to hide it, though. I haven't got any money stashed away in there, either.

“Nothing yet. So under the tatami, then, or maybe in the closet?”

“I don't remember Shirou ever having turned over the tatami in this room, come to think of it.”

“Most other people don't do that, either. But this is Shirou we're dealing with. Knowing him, he'd have been extremely careful about it.”

...Does she think I'm a ninja or a Sengoku warlord or something?

Besides, you couldn't really hide anything under the tatami in the first place.

Under the floorboards would be a different story, though.

“What about the storehouse?”

“Ah, that's true―――you could hide an elephant under all the junk in there, and he does seem to be out there every night. However, it's the duty of a magus to eliminate from their atelier anything that could distract them from their work.”

“I see. So a distraction by such mundane thoughts could be fatal, could it.”

She's right about all the junk I have in there, though, which I suppose is quite a distraction.

But after having seen all that fitness gear stowed away in her basement room, I don't think Tohsaka's in any position to say that.

...The biggest distraction I have right now is wondering why she's so sure that I've got something hidden in here!

“...Here, this is it. Here's what I was looking for.”

“It could not be... Rin, have you truly found it?”

“There's no way Emiya-kun would actually be hiding snacks in this kind of place. I'm sure this is it. It's bingo for sure.”

A candy box?

When did I ever hide that?

...No, wait, let me think... now I remember, that's...

“Wait. Unless we were to look inside, there is no way of knowing if that's true.”

“You really don't know when to give up, do you, Saber. Then let's proceed with the grand unveiling...! Wow.”

“...Shirou... something like this...”

―――I know what that is now.

Right, since you can't simply throw THAT away, I ended up storing it in some random box.

And since I didn't want Saber and the others to open it by mistake, I hid it in there...

So, inside that box is... a photo book from the "Adult Only" section of the bookstoreeeeeeee...

“Whoa, this is some amazing stuff...

I always had my suspicions that Emiya-kun's tastes ran to the, err, exotic, but this proves it―――”

“I cannot believe this. Shirou cannot possibly harbor the kind of carnal desires that such cheap and vulgar material would inflame!”

...Thanks for believing in me, Saber.

...I have a feeling that showing too much loyalty will work against me here, though. Besides, that book actually came from... ahh, now I remember!

“Hmm, hmm... so this is what he's into.

You prefer the older sister type, eh, Shirou? Oho, wait, there are some little sister-type ones, too.

I don't see any blondes in here, though.”

“..................Is that true?”

“Now you're interested, aren't you, Saber?”

I'd better put an end to this soon, or else who knows what they'll say to me after this?

A misunderstanding of this order needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

“That's Shinji's.”



“That bastard brought it over, saying "C'mon, Emiya, I know you must love this stuff!" and practically forced it on me. It seemed wrong to let anyone else find out, so I just hid it instead.”


That's right, Shinji is the kind of guy who does actually come in with well-meaning, but totally unneeded advice sometimes.

I have my issues with how he tries to push his personal interests on other people, but... he really does have a thing for the older sister type, doesn't he? Makes a lot of sense, now that I think about it.

“It's been in there so long that I completely forgot about it―――seriously, thanks for finding it, Tohsaka.”

I thank her with a smile of perfect benevolence on my face. Unsurprisingly, I can already see a vein in her forehead beginning to throb in rage.

Heh, heh, heh. It's all right to counterattack like this every once in a while.


“Sorry for getting your hopes up.

But I've never bought any of this stuff myself.”

It's a waste of money. And besides, I could get it from work for free if I really wanted any.

...However, that last part is top secret, so I'd better leave it at that.

Whether it's because Tohsaka's embarrassed at leaping to the wrong conclusion or something else, the hand holding Shinji's prized book begins quivering―――

“Y-You! How could you make me look at something from Shinji's dirty collection!?”

She flies into an extremely self-righteous rage.

“H-Hey, wait just a minute! You're the one who snuck in here looking for it, so how is this my fault!?”

“Shut up! A magus is a seeker of truth that is concealed within this world―――!”

That's so unreasonable I don't even know where to begin.

And even if it were true, a "seeker of truths" like Tohsaka should be prepared to deal with the occasional friendly fire like this.

“Rin―――can we not consider this to be my victory?”

“But Shirou did actually have it, didn't he!?”

“Yes, however, the object itself being Matou Shinji's property, it cannot be said to be Shirou's. ―――Therefore, I shall graciously accept the Edomaeya dorayaki as described in our wager.”

No longer leaving room for a negative answer, Saber presses on.

And not simply because food is involved, it appears.

“Hmph―――fine, I'll go buy some right away.

I could use a walk outside to get rid of the aftertaste! Honestly...”

Tohsaka takes her leave, grumbling under her breath all the way out the door.

The heavy atmosphere of the room lightens like the calm after a typhoon.

If, hypothetically, and I want to stress that this is ONLY hypothetical, that had really been a pick of my own, then I'd have already met with a fate worse than death by now.

Had it been my REAL secret treasure, hidden even deeper, that had been discovered, I could only hope to get off as lightly as I did this time.

“...A paper-thin narrow miss... thanks, Shinji.”

“―――I am greatly relieved. Shirou, you are just as pure and noble a Master as I have always believed you to be.”

“Eh...!? Ah... no no, from now on I need to make sure I don't do anything that could lead to a misunderstanding like this.”

“However, does blonde hair... ah, never mind. Do excuse me.”

...I get the feeling that I'd better not ask.

Letting this conversation continue could well lead to the discovery of the second Pandora's Box below.

“I-It's almost three o'clock.

Come on, Saber, let's go to the living room and wait for Tohsaka to come back. We should have tea ready to enjoy with the spoils of your victory.”

“Indeed, this was an uncontested victory for us.”

A blissful smile lights up Saber's face.

...Guh. Sorry, Saber. It's not a victory for "us" so much as it is for "me"...

Emiya Residence・Start of Night Things to do