Hello there and welcome to another chapter of Fate Shadow Spear.
Like I said previously, this chapter shall cover some of the last scenes of the second movie.
Next chapter it's going to be the jump from the end of the second to the start of the third movie.
Usually, I would answer some of the reviews, but I don't see any review to answer, so let's move with the chapter.
Fate: Shadow Spear
Chapter 19 – The Truth
Beta: Axel Emiya
After breakfast cooked by the Tohsaka sisters, to which Rin couldn't help but reminisce on the fun times she had with her sister when they were little, the local residents went to their separate affairs.
Rin and Illya went to a room where Rin had stored all the available books she had regarding the Grail War. Saber went along with them, partly because Shirou would be quite busy with the house right now and because standing close to Illya brought along special memories about her time together with Irisviel in the Fourth War. As such, she simply stood in the room with the two girls and observed while Rin flipped page after page of the books while Illya would do the same while laying face down on top of a pillow and kicking her legs like a child.
It brought a sense of joy to the King of Knights to simply observe her like this peaceful and child-like behavior, even if by all standards, Illyasviel is older than Shirou and Rin.
"Rin, what exactly are you looking for?" Ilya asked absentmindedly while flipping pages of her own book.
The Tohsaka heir said nothing for a while, flipping page after page, until the pile of books about the grail stood next to her.
"Hoping to find information that could provide us something to use against that shadow." Rin then got into a thinking pose as she observed both Saber and Illya. "The Grail system was created by the three families, Nagato Tohsaka, Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern and Zouken Makiri, but they all had the help of a true magician and true ancestor, Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg. Zelretch himself is closely tied with the Tohsaka clan and there are actually some old heirlooms from him in my house. I would give my entire jewel collection to see just what each of them did to contribute to the creation of the Grail system." Illya just listened to it all, with a downed look. It was only known to a few, but the Einzbern stored their memories in their heirs.
Which meant that Illya saw what exactly happened two hundred years ago.
Meanwhile, Shirou and Sakura got busy tending to the house in pretty much every sense of the way. They would wash the breakfast dishes together and then tend to the rooms and even the guests' laundry.
Together, they performed the house chores in less time and Sakura simply basked in these types of experiences with her senpai. She would look at his smile and get simply lost in it. The last item of the day was to dry the room sheets, so Shirou had hanged it and Sakura placed the clips to hold it all together, while the gentle and cooled winds of Fuyuki did the rest of the job. While waiting for the sheets to dry, Shirou and Sakura just took a sit by the house porch, while peacefully observing the sheets dancing with the wind.
"Senpai, I wanted to thank you…" Shirou turned to see a blushing Sakura looking towards the sky. "I don't remember the last time I called her Nee-san. I would always observe her from afar, but I never had the courage to approach her." Shirou liked seeing Sakura this peaceful and it killed him to realize that she was suffering so much without him knowing about it. All this time, he was training with Scathach, and even when she was not there, and didn't realize what was happening with Sakura.
"Did you stop seeing her when you went to the Matous?"
Shirou flinched at the sudden look at the mention of the last name, but then she smiled when facing him.
"Yeah, we both knew we're sisters, but neither ever tried to approach the other, neither tried to interact with the other. Once I became a member of another mage family, the simple thought of approaching one another was…plus, I get the feeling that Nee-san would hate to see the Matou discipline."
"Why is that?"
To this day, Shirou had never bothered much in knowing much about other branches of magecraft aside from his structural analysis and Scathach's runes. Most mage crafts would be nullified by the runes ebbed on his body anyway.
But now that she mentioned it, a sudden curiosity appeared in his eyes.
"The Matou technique is the magic that steals from others. It just steals and binds, without giving anything in return. It goes against many of the teachings of magecraft, so it's heavily criticized by everyone." Shirou could attest to the notion from what he saw from Zouken and the Book used by Shinji, that's based on Sakura's command seals. Looking at it simplistically, Shirou could attest to why everyone would look down upon the Matou magecraft, but for the life of him, he couldn't see this form of mentality from Sakura.
"Do you hate it?"
"Ah…true that the teachings were severe." Sakura paused as memories of the torment in her life passed through her mind. The worms invaded her body…seeing her uncle Kariya descend into madness as the worms crawled inside his body. The look of complete glee from her grandfather as he just looked at the suffering with a satisfied smile on his face…her brother treating her like…
As more and more images appeared in her mind, Sakura started trembling and whispering and Shirou could see tears falling on the house floor.
"I'm sorry Sakura…" The crying stopped and she gasped at the sudden feeling of Shirou embracing her. Just like that, the bad images in her mind stopped and the wonderful ones appeared. Images of them cooking together, of them spending wonderful times at the table with Fuijmura-sensei. And then one image stopped and that was of Shirou looking at her in this exact space they shared many times before in his house. The sun would illuminate his red hair and brown eyes and Sakura knew at the time that Shirou would perhaps be the only one who would never betray anyone.
"S…enpai…" She could feel his warm embrace melt her troubles away, but her tears remained but with a smile on her face.
"I could have stopped if I knew what was going on with you, I'm sorry Sakura." Sakura felt the strength in his arms almost crushing her weak bones, but she found out she didn't very much care about the physical pain.
The hug was laced with such warmth and desire for protection that Sakura just wanted to get lost in this feeling.
"You don't need to apologize, senpai. It's because of you and Fujimura-sensei that I managed to survive and now I'm here Senpai."
Shirou then let go of the hug as he saw the look on her face. It made him feel slightly better.
The two then allowed the quiet to settle down as they once more observed the dance of the sheets in the wind, while Rider and Archer observed the scenes from different vantage points.
Half an hour later, the sheets were almost dry, so they removed it and folded it nicely inside the basket. Sakura bowed to Shirou before taking the basket inside to place the sheets back inside the wardrobe. Shirou chose to remain in the garden for a while as he observed the sun about to settle down for the day. He knew that Saber, by this time, was already itching for some practice and the blonde King of Knight's impeccable timing never disappointed. Because of their bond, he could feel her approaching.
"Shirou, shall we?"
The sun set illuminated her pale blonde hair and Shirou couldn't help but stare for a while, before getting up and following the servant inside the dojo for their daily spar.
As the sun started to set for the day, inside the Church, Kotomine Kirei opened the double doors and quietly observed the Holy statue.
The feeling of complete elation in his expression could be considered strange by most, considering the dark omen in the air.
"Let us bless it…" Inside the church, a man with blonde straight hair and black leather jacket turned to the elusive priest.
"Bless what exactly?"
"The birth of another Holy Grail…that which is referred to as all the world's evil. Something that was created by humans, but it's undesirable by them." The blonde fellow simply snorted as the Priest Kirei kept on smiling.
This was what he has been waiting for…instead of wasting his time searching for an answer, Kirei now searched for something that would provide him with the answer.
It was already nighttime inside the Emiya Household and Shirou was busy at the kitchen making everyone dinner while everyone settled down at the table for small chat. Well, none of them could talk about the moonlit world topics as Taiga was there as well having drinks with Scathach. So, everyone who couldn't dematerialize was taking a seat by the table, when the television hummed to life. The news of attacks going on in the city by this point was old news, but the numbers of incidents only increased.
"Moh, I really wished the authorities solved this quicker. I'm quite glad that Shirou opened the house for all of you…" Sakura, Rin and Illya saw that Taiga was focusing on them as they appeared to be the teens of the group.
Both Saber and Scathach were in Taiga's mind, affiliated with Kiritsugu in the past, so she figured that the two women could at least take care of themselves.
"Yes, yes, that's why he opened the house to them, Taiga…I'm betting that Shirou had other interests in mind other than their protection…if you catch my drift." Scathach had even accentuated her statement with a knowing smirk.
Everyone at the table already knew that the Celtic woman enjoyed putting Shirou on the spot with sexual innunedo, even if most of them with the exception of Illya, had blushes on their faces, but Taiga was the one who fell for the trap. Plus, she was already under the effects of alcohol. So much to Scathach's glee, Taiga all but stood up scaring everyone doing so and marched straight towards the kitchen. She then grabbed Shirou's shirt collar and shook it, demanding an explanation.
"Huh Shirou…are you trying to take advantage of all these sweet girls…I thought I taught you better than that!"
The effect was immediate as Scathach doubled on the table in laughter. She laughed even more when Rin behaved like Rin and blushed red crimson at the mere insinuation. Saber couldn't help but remember the intimate moments she had with Shirou and even the longing eyes he had for her after the love making, something to which she still pondered to herself what she felt in looking at them. Sakura was blushing as well as the prospect, but her thought then turned to the blushing blonde next to her.
Shirou just allowed Taiga to shake him, trying to figure out what was going on, since he was busy in the kitchen.
"Huh Taiga-nee, what are you talking about?" If possible, Taiga even shook him with more vigor as she saw denial in his tone.
"Don't try to trick me Shirou…Scathach said that you invited the girls here with second intentions…spill it young man."
Despite the heavy shaking, Shirou released a sigh and looked bloody murder at his teacher who stopped laughing and crossed eyes with Shirou with a content smile on her face.
"For the last time Fuji-nee, I don't plan on taking advantage of anyone and you know Scathach for too long now to understand when she is getting a rise out of you." Taiga kept on pouting at him for a while, until she released the hold on his collar and allowed him to finish cooking. Taiga then would sit at the table and glared daggers at Scathach, who merely winked at her playfully. The Celtic legend could use other tools at her disposal to really place Shirou on the spot, but she would save that for another time.
Once dinner was served, the table became quiet as everyone enjoyed the heavenly dinner cooked by their host. The look on everyone's faces displayed how delicious it was and of course Saber had seconds and even thirds.
When Sakura took a bite, though, she tensed at the sudden lack of taste in Shirou's food.
Late at night when everyone went to sleep, Sakura's head was in between Rider's breasts. The fear she had at dinner was pretty much forgotten at this point as she could feel the softness of her servant's skin. Their night experiences might be necessary to sate the worms, but Sakura had always enjoyed it. So much that she started to believe that her sexual preference was no longer limited to males. Plus, the feeling of being intimate with Rider filled her chest with warmth, similar to her feelings for senpai.
With that feeling, Sakura closed her eyes and fell asleep.
When Sakura next opened her eyes, she was surprised to see herself falling from the sky and wearing a beautiful white dress. The crescent moon was very low and she could spot a gigantic castle.
As soon as she fell on the ground, she saw this fantasy world with colored mushrooms and colored animals from all shapes and sizes surrounding her. She looked down to see a purple rabbit pointing the way to the castle and Sakura smiled at the fluffy animal. Walking towards the castle with the company of animals, Sakura felt herself without a care in the world. She would just bounce up and down waving her arms around, while the animals observed her.
Everything was taken from an amusement park as Sakura, until the doors of the castle opened up to her.
Once inside, Sakura stood alone in a clean room with paintings as small clown dummies came to play with her. They circled around her and Sakura giggled at their playfulness. Then, they turned into chocolates and candies and Sakura adored when more candies fell from the ceiling. She took one of the chocolates and unwrapped it. She ate it all in one bite and found it delicious. She then took another and ate it all, confident that this treat would be endless. Sakura never realized, however, that such dream land wasn't a true dream land as in fact the candies and chocolates were actually pieces of human flesh. And she was not in a dream world, she was inside a dark alley in Fuyuki. Her face and mouth was smeared by the blood of her victims.
"That's why I told you to kill yourself, little lady." The blond man that stood inside Kirei's church stood there simply observing Sakura eating a man's finger.
Still, Sakura was still in dream land and only wanted to have more food. The ground and walls of the alley were filled with black and red malevolent energy that would suck inside anything that moved and turn into food for her.
The golden-haired man just snorted at the monster in front of him, before a golden portal opened behind him. A gigantic sword came out from the portal and charged straight at Sakura, ripping her entire right arm off. Still, Sakura merely looked at his arm gushing blood on the floor in complete apathy. Her eyes lacked any form of acknowledgement of what was going on right now. Sakura's opponent, who in fact is a servant from the fourth war named Gilgamesh, opened yet more gates behind him and bombarded Sakura with more swords. The girl just stood there, receiving the rain of swords. Her white dress became filled with blood as her members were cleanly slashed away. Gilgamesh merely observed in boredom as Sakura fell on the ground in a pool of her own blood.
Her leg was also in another place right now just like her arm as Sakura's body started trembling at the loss of too much blood.
Still, it was apparent that Sakura was still breathing and Gilgamesh took notice of that. He started walking towards her, confident that he would deliver the killing blow shortly, despite him being surprised at her resilience.
"Oh, so you're still breathing…I'm impressed. Not only your body, but your shadow transformed as well." He kept walking with his hands inside his pockets, until he heard the slashing sound of flesh being cut.
When he looked down, Gilgamesh realized in surprise that it was his feet who got slashed somehow.
Even more surprising was that his feet got dragged below ground by the same malevolent black and red energy.
With fury in his eyes, he then looked at the beast.
Sakura's mangled body was also dragged below ground just like Gilgamesh's feet were. The malevolent energy sprung to life as Sakura's arm emerged from the ground, before her entire body followed and Gilgamesh saw that there was no injury anymore and she had all her limbs back. She climbed back up like a zombie, still with the same hollow eyes as before. Gilgamesh, by this point, was beyond mad and opened many golden gates behind her to bombard her once more. Though, every sword he threw at her this time was absorbed by the shadow that now encompassed the entire back alley, reaching Gilgamesh's position in no time.
As soon as the shadow touched him, the servant king of Uruk had lost all sense of self. It all happened in less than a second.
Sakura treated the new food with vigor as she chewed on the servant's energy absorbed as if she was savoring Senpai's delicious cooking.
Gilgamesh, however, was a bundle of energy and Sakura's shadow, despite absorbing it all, was practically overflowing with excessive energy. The shadow that appeared in the back alley expanded just a balloon, before emitting a pinch like an electromagnetic pinch that pretty much engulfed a big part of Fuyuki.
=At the Emiya Household=
The prana pinch could be sensed all the way towards the Emiya household and Rider opened her eyes in Sakura's bed. She realized with a dread that Sakura was no longer close to her and the servant wondered how that could possibly happen. Rider not only was Sakura's servant but she also had a keen sense of smell. If Sakura had for instance moved even if a mere inch from their current position, Rider would sense it in seconds. Right now, wondering what happened was of little consequence as she could hear heavy and frantic footsteps throughout the house floor.
No doubt, the prana pinch was felt by everyone, so she dematerialized and appeared once more by the kitchen as everyone was already there, turning the television to see if there was some news.
It was reported a massive blackout as the police reported various incidents going on over the city. Images of cars burning down, lights going out and screams echoing inside the darkness.
Shirou, Saber, Scathach, Rin, Illya and even Archer were inside as they looked at one another, wondering what the hell happened. Shirou was the one who saw Rider manifest inside the room.
"Rider, where is Sakura?" The servant opened her mouth, but had nothing to reply as she didn't know. Her link with Sakura was a mess and she couldn't make sense of anything.
"Shirou, something just smashed into my bounded field. It must be Sakura…come." Shirou followed his teacher as she ran towards the front gate. Rin's fraternal instinct for protection took over and she ran towards the gate as well.
When Scathach opened the door to the house, she saw Sakura there all bloodied and unconscious. Shirou appeared soon afterward and carried her inside bridal style. In no time, he and Scathach took Sakura into one of the rooms and focused their healing runes together on Sakura to help mend the wounds and give her strength back. Rin stood on top of her sister and carefully took off Sakura's dress to see the extent of the wounds. After taking it all, Sakura's nude body was visible for everyone to see and Rin gasped as the visible tears and scars in her limbs and even some visible muscles. The combined work of Scathach and Shirou worked miracles and Rin could see the wounds closing, skin regrowing and even limbs reattached. Being a Tohsaka and Sakura's sister, Rin couldn't just stand there and do nothing however.
Using every knowledge she had on healing mage craft, she managed to check Sakura's magic circuits to see if they were damaged. Rin was no Kirei, but she had learned a few tricks.
Still, the wounds were quite extensive as anyone would be killed easily.
The overall 'surgery' took half an hour and their combined work managed to steady the patient somewhat. Rider took over and took Sakura to her room, changed her and then placed her inside the bed to rest.
Saber was by Shirou's side, keeping him standing after he exhausted his prana working on Sakura. She felt pretty much useless right now as she was a knight, not a healer or a magus. All she could do was provide comfort for Shirou afterward. Scathach for her part felt the dark energy alright, but this was the first time she ever felt something like that. The feeling was somewhat similar to what caused the opening to the Land of Shadows, but it was never this strong. She vouched to Shirou that she would help face her other student, but she feared that whoever caused this would be too much for her ward to handle, at least on his own.
Neither master nor servant had much sleep afterward as they stood in the kitchen in complete silence. Sakura was sleeping right now in her room and her energy became more stable after Rin's healing mage craft.
Saber was by Shirou's side on the table as he had a lost look in his eyes in concern for Sakura. Archer was with his back at the wall as he observed his younger self, practically knowing what is going on in his mind right now.
"You may be different Emiya Shirou, but yet you're still the same…" The redhead looked fiercely at Archer, but the white-haired servant merely closed his eyes with a snort. "At this point, it's pretty clear what it's needed to be done. Rin was right….we need to kill her before she loses control and starts attacking the citizens…" Everyone in the room flinched in surprise except Scathach and Archer himself when Shirou slammed both hands on the table in protest at Archer's words. Even Rin looked doubtful at her servant as she was beginning to approach Sakura as a sister once more, instead of upholding her duty as the land's second owner. Archer kept on touching the wound, unperturbed however.
"You may be strong, but you're quite naïve and lack experience. This is not the first time I faced this mess. There is no other way. Pretty soon, she will lose whatever control she still has and then what…Emiya Shirou, you will allow her to kill innocents, children, husband, wife, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister…" By each relative Archer related, Shirou's eyes widened more and more, and Saber was starting to become angry at Archer for goading her master. Still, Archer kept on pressing.
"Do you want a repeat of what happened ten years ago, Emiya Shirou? All because you failed to stop her."
This time, even Archer got surprised when a Gae Bolg materialized inches from his own throat as Shirou moved in Servant speeds.
"You shut up! If you're me, then you should not say those things, not even think about it." Archer managed to compose himself and simply dematerialized out of there just as Rin approached the distraught Shirou.
"Emiya-kun, as much as Archer is a pain, I believe he's…"
"Don't even say it Tohsaka!" Her dark blue eyes turned hollow as she felt the pain in his voice. Saber was by her master's side in seconds after Shirou began to lose his reasoning.
"Shirou, please calm down…" The king of knights rubbed his back gently and she relaxed upon feeling his ease through their shared link.
"I'm sorry Saber, thank you. Tohsaka, sorry for lashing out, but…I said it before and I say it again, there has to be another way for us to deal with this without killing her." Rin at this moment remembered the first time she met Shirou, well more like saw him for the first time. Four years ago, when he tried and failed many times to make the jump at school. Rin would have already given up and moved on, but not Shirou. He persevered every time and it certainly showed once more as he wouldn't give up on her sister.
"But Emiya-kun…she was in a lot of pain yesterday. And the pain not only damages the body, but it can destroy her brain as well. I…I don't know how much time we have until we lose her…our best bet right now is to defeat Zouken and this shadow as quickly as possible." Shirou nodded as he thought amongst the same line. Illya at this point was certain that Sakura was like her, another vessel for the Grail as she could practically feel the servant that Sakura absorbed yesterday.
She knew what would happen in the future with Sakura and no matter what Shirou tried to do, the consequence at this point was inevitable.
The day progressed quietly after the argument.
Sakura was bedridden in her room for the duration of the day and Shirou took turns with Rin to watch over her. With the list of injuries and stress on her system, it would be a miracle if Sakura even opened her eyes today. Her body had healed nicely thanks to Shirou and Scathach's efforts, but the mind is a delicate organ to nourish back to health. When the body goes through enough stress, the mind usually is the last organ to fully recover. As such, all they had to do now is wait for Sakura to rest. At first, Shirou was worried, but Rider assured him that she was much better now and was even supplying the servant with regular amounts of prana. Also,
It was already night as Shirou was lying on his bed. His heartbeat was still high, and Saber could dance to said tune, while her head rested comfortably on his chest.
It wouldn't be right to say Saber had become addicted to being intimate with her master. It's just that when they go to sleep, lewd thoughts would jump into the fray and images from the other times kind of inspired the King of Knights. Not to mention that looking at her hollow golden eyes right now, caressing Shirou's well-defined chest, it was clear just who was calling the shots right now. It was evident at this point that Saber had strong feelings for Shirou. Ever since Scathach increased the amount of prana that Shirou sent her, Saber couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity and protection that her master's prana caused within her. She felt embraced by him and not like right now as Shirou's arms engulfed her.
'This feeling is familiar…though I can't remember why…and when we become intimate, I feel like I have found something I have been missing for a long time.'
It became entrancing as she slowly passed her calloused fingers through his upper body. Shirou has trained his routine daily, almost to the point of passing out. As such, there wasn't a part of his body that wasn't well-defined. Saber's hands felt his body was like a sword fighter admiring a well-polished blade. When the thought came, Saber immediately blushed at the image of Shirou's blade doing unspeakable things to her inner walls. And usually, that's how it started for them as Saber slowly inclined her head off his chest and towards his mouth to land another quite eager kiss on his lips.
Shirou was surprised at the initiative and used his other arm to bring Saber closer to him, allowing her breasts to squeeze him as they made out.
"Do you want to have another go, Shirou?"
The whisper in his ears was enough to make his mind and eyes daze in anticipation. Certainly, Saber smirked proudly when she saw the results of her seduction.
However, it all changed in a matter of milliseconds.
A shadow soon materialized outside Shirou's room as both master and servant moved accordingly with Saber materializing her armor and Shirou with only his pants on. Aside from them, Archer and Scathach appeared at the same time outside with their respective weapons drawn. When Assassin came to be, he was boxed in by Excalibur, Gae Bolg, Gae Bolg Alternative and Kanshou and Bakuya, all four weapons mere inches from his neck.
"Geez, what is it with these servants crossing my bounded field without my permission!"
Scathach was actually wearing a loose pajama red top with black pants. Which would be a fun scene if her spear wasn't itching on Assassin's jugular right now.
"Assassin…" Archer, Saber and Shirou recognized the threat instantly. Though, it was Saber who the man feared the most right now.
Her golden hollow eyes and the powerful mix between dark and yellow prana emitted in her step made everyone except Shirou feel quite uneasy.
Certainly, Rin and Illya had upon coming out of their room to see the commotion.
"Trying to threaten Shirou, Assassin…just tell me why I shouldn't slice your throat right now."
Scathach, though, was thrilled to see the possessive venom in Saber's eyes upon a threat to Shirou. It was even more thrilling to see the King of Knights in action, more specially so when said legend is so vehemently defending him.
"Ahhh…my master wants to speak with Emiya Shirou…" Assassin explained, flinching at the tip of Scathach's spear tickling his jugular. Shirou snarled at the servant.
"Zouken…after what he did to Sakura…what could he possibly want to say to me…" This time, the white skull bended towards Shirou as Assassin bluntly said.
"The truth about his granddaughter." Shirou and everyone narrowed their eyes at the mention of Sakura.
"Then I shall see what he has to say…though, that does not mean you get to escape here." Shirou stated, before crossing his eyes for one second with Scathach.
Before Assassin could use his concealing ability to escape, Scathach had already slammed her spear on the ground and summoned enough sigils to entrap Assassin inside a small-bounded field.
"Release me, witch."
At this point, Saber and Shirou went inside for Shirou to put on some clothes and Archer went back to the roof when he was staying. Scathach stood there with her arms crossed and a pleasant smile on her face.
"A Witch you say…why do I deserve such lack of manners? You would do well to play on my good side there, because in case you haven't noticed it, your link to your master is null in there."
Assassin paled at the information as Scathach smirked.
"Yes, you're a smart guy to figure out…without your master's prana, you can't sustain yourself in this world. Oh and I can keep this bounded field for a long time."
Assassin even tried to dematerialize and escape from his prison cell, but all that he accomplished was to suddenly smash his face in Scathach's sigils. All it did was earn a few chuckles from the Irish legend.
"Oh you thought I was bluffing…silly little Assassin. Do take my word that you shall return to the Throne of Heroes shortly." Assassin even tried to use his dagger to carve a way out, but to no avail. Scathach merely watched her prey for a while, not bothering to see her ward from another time and dimension materialize next to her to observe the show. Despite his amusement at the scene of Assassin trashing inside his rune cage, EMIYA couldn't help but pinpoint a curious fact.
"I thought you would only get involved with Lancer." Scathach merely smiled sweetly as she turned to the Counter-Guardian.
"Well, I would, but Shirou requested my help with our little caped friend over there, so I helped." Archer blinked a couple times, trying to remember if his idiot self ever did ask for her assistance in this manner.
"I don't recall him asking anything from you…" Scathach merely negated her head in derision at the man next to her.
"He didn't need to…we had spent so many times together; I can see what he desires from me with just a look…and vice-versa. We have a fun connection like that."
Scathach this time giggled playfully when Archer answered with a simple grunt, before dematerializing once more. So, the Irish lancer simply stood there with her arms crossed waiting for the inevitable time when Assassin no longer had prana to sustain himself in this plane. It was quite a show to see an Assassin begin to choke from lack of air, before turning into blue grains of prana. All Scathach did, however, was yawn and remove the sigils afterward.
"Well, that was exciting, but I will get back to sleep now."
=At the Matou Residence=
Confident that Scathach would take care of the cockroach servant, Shirou and Saber took their sweet time walking towards the Matou residence.
It was already late at night, so no one was on the streets at this hour.
Saber would have enjoyed taking care of Assassin herself because of what he did to her at the Ryuudou Temple, but at least she was confident that Scathach would deal with him accordingly. Now, all that mattered was obtain whatever information the old man wished to share and get back to bed. She could see, though, that Shirou was in turmoil and rather anxious to see what Zouken wished to talk about and since it revolved around Sakura, Saber knew how invested her master would be in trying to save her. She understood that better than anyone…the oath of a knight to save someone in peril. A silent chuckle echoed in her mind when she considered Shirou to be a Knight. Aside from the special feeling he exuded within her, she could see his motivations…his valor, and could compare them to her knights of the Round Table.
Shirou had many skills and values that reminded her of her knights.
His runecraft reminded her of Merlin.
His spear skills reminded her of Gareth.
His archer skills reminded her of Sir Tristan.
His overall battle prowess reminded her of Sir Lancelot.
His heart reminded her of Sir Gawain and best of all…
His loyalty and bravery reminded her of Sir Bedivere
The fact that she couldn't see either Agravain or Mordred in Shirou was a plus in her book. Not only that, but his food was divine and his actions in the bedroom were very satisfactory indeed. As such, as the couple crossed the gates of the Matou manor, Saber…Arturia saw her master as someone else. A person that she could relate to…a person that understood her…a person that she could be a comrade...
A person that she now found she cared deeply for.
This war had taught Arturia Pendragon many things and ever since she absorbed her Alter Ego, she learned how emotions played a huge factor in her actions without her even being aware of them. In her time as King Arthur, it was believed that to be king means not to be human, but looking at her past from the perspective she has now, Arturia realized that she could have allowed some leeway in this subject.
"Are you ready, Saber?"
Her wonderings were cut short as they stopped before a door that led them to a wide forest reservoir. With a nod, Shirou opened it and they stepped inside the enemy's lair.
Like they expected, this wide forest was filled with Zouken's prana as if the old man was the forest itself.
The familiar noise of crickets filled their ears as they walked throughout the forest. Looking up, they could see the glass forest greenhouse.
"Oh…" the couple stopped walking as Zouken's voice echoed all over the place. "You arrived here quite fast, Emiya Shirou and Saber. Dare I believe that your sword took care of Assassin?"
The fact that they couldn't pinpoint the old man's position was troublesome, but he was powerless to become any form of threat to Shirou and Saber, so it meant that he was protecting himself by doing this.
"Only a lowlife magus such as yourself would act so cowardly like this, Matou Zouken." The Makiri merely chuckled at Saber's jab, though.
"Huh, consider this a fail safe on my part…last time we met, your master decided to burn my insects. No Saber, I merely wish to talk without having to waste time measuring strength. Now, it's apparent that an apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Emiya Shirou." Shirou and Saber narrowed their eyes at the obvious comparison between father and son. "I happened to follow your father's footsteps for some time and I can attest to his let's say efficient method as the magus killer."
"You called me here to talk about my father, Zouken…I don't think so."
"No…it's about Sakura." Shirou nodded and closed his fists.
"Yes, release her from your control at once." The silence was deafening to the couple as Zouken merely hummed his throat at Shirou's demand.
"Release her you say, I do wonder if that's possible. No, I called you here for one request." Shirou and Saber looked at one another at Zouken's audacity. "I want you to kill this Shadow."
"It's you who unleashed that…it's on your side isn't it. Why don't you deal with it then?" Zouken chuckled at that.
"On my side…no, I can't barely communicate with that thing. And since last night, I no longer can pacify it." Shirou and Saber were at a loss as to what the old man was alluding to. "Oh forgive this old man…it seems I do need to explain what the shadow is, ain't I…well, Emiya Shirou and Saber, this shall come as quite interesting to the both of you." Shirou and Saber couldn't help but feel the hair stand up on the back of their necks at the man's mysteries right now. "Well, basically, it's the content of the Grail from the Fourth War you so foolishly destroyed to pieces, Saber."
The King of Knights choked at that, remembering the scene when her former master ordered her to destroy the Grail.
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a will poured from the gateway called the Holy Grail. That's the shadow's identity." Zouken allowed silence to sink in as the redhead master and blonde servant gasped. "Yes, it seems you two are slowly understanding. Good…good indeed. I did say for you to kill the shadow, Emiya Shirou, but that's a difficult subject. However, killing the gate, well, that can be achieved quite easily. I was hoping that the Tohsaka girl did that, but now the point is moot." Saber could see Shirou trembling as he seemingly came into some sort of conclusion. Still, Zouken continued. "I picked up the fragments from the Fourth War and cultivated for ten years." This time, his chuckle became even more pronounced as he could somehow see the look of dread in Shirou's eyes.
"I'm sure you figured it out by now Emiya Shirou, the similarities between Sakura and that shadow." This time, Saber gasped. "For a mere puppet who simply exists, for her to meet her end by the hands of the man she loves…certainly it should be more than satisfactory, wouldn't you say…" This time, Saber's arm grabbed Shirou as he lost his footing completely. "There is little time to waste here…if Sakura's conscience collapses, the Grail will take over her subconscious. When that happens, the incident from ten years ago will happen once more. You are now in quite a paradox…Emiya Shirou, kill Sakura and the people in Fuyuki will be saved…don't kill her and you will be dooming this city and perhaps more than that."
The memories of Archer saying the same thing played in their minds. The image of Sakura looking at Shirou was so vivid it hurts.
"So if you carry the will of Emiya Kiritsugu, then Sakura is and shall be treated as your enemy…for as she will eventually target the people of this town and then will be too late to stop her."
"Shut up!" Saber was then surprised when Shirou summoned his spear and slammed it on the ground, just as a typhoon of fire surrounded him and Saber. It soon lifted towards the glass ceiling and expanded towards the entire forest. The crickets and worms hidden in the clearing were burnt immediately and they could hear Zouken's scream of pain echoing in the clearing. The servant saw when the flame stopped and the forest was devoid of Zouken's presence, though the old weasel had escaped before. Shirou then kneeled on the ground and sobbed at the truth of Sakura and the shadow.
"Shirou…" The servant kneeled next to her master and hugged him.
"So it's true, after all. Kiritsugu was cursed by the Grail and Sakura was as well. I'm sorry Saber, but it appears that this Grail isn't what you wished for." That alone made Saber stop in her tracks as the words hit her and it hit her deeply. The Grail wasn't what she thought it was. It wasn't the one who would grant her wish, but rather a weapon of mass destruction instead. Saber found herself without breath for a while, as the truth sank in her mind. Her wish…her wish for another to take on the King's trial would never come to pass.
"And now Sakura is in trouble, Saber and If I don't do anything, more people will be killed. I don't know what to do…" The king of knights stopped her inside torturous thought as she witnessed Shirou's hollow eyes.
"You took an oath to protect Sakura, Shirou…" The redhead looked at Saber and saw her focused gaze at him. "I have faith that together we will be able to protect Sakura and keep her from harming others."
"But Saber, the grail, you won't get to have your dream anymore and Sakura, she's…"
"Yes, I had sacrificed many things for the chance to have my wish granted and I'm still struggling to accept the truth that I may never get my wish…however, as your servant, it's my duty and honor to uphold your mission to protect Sakura, Shirou. Once more, I trust you to keep on your oath just like you need to trust my resolve in going all the way." Shirou looked at the King of Knights and found his eyes came back to life slightly.
Then, he nodded with a relieved smile as he suddenly caressed her face lovingly and it took Saber by surprise for a second.
She then welcomed his soothing palm as she even inclined her head to his hand. Shirou then inched towards her mouth and kissed her.
The king of knights soon returned the kiss, before the couple stopped and locked eyes together.
"Thank you…Arturia for everything."
There, right there, Arturia Pendragon felt her chest tighten in a good way, while at the same time pondering on her life and her wish. It took her back to the time when she approached the stone where Caliburn was located.
'My wish…surely must be another person more suited than me to become king…certainly this person would be capable of creating a peaceful kingdom…I wanted to change the king's selection, so if I used the power of the Grail for this, then the kingdom wouldn't fall. But, I removed the sword from the stone and swore to uphold my duty as king. I had sacrificed too much and fought for my people. I don't have remorse about that. I'm proud of what I achieved in my life, so I shouldn't try to change it, even if it ended in destruction. Yes, the king had protected the kingdom, but the kingdom has not protected the king. That's all. I have sacrificed too much for this goal, but there is something I now wish to protect until the end…'
"No Shirou, it is I who must thank you." Shirou now became lost in her green eyes as Arturia explained everything with surprisingly loose shoulders. "The grail may be lost, so I can no longer change what happened in the past. But I can find solace in knowing that I shall be with you until the end. That being said, together we will deal with this mess and help Sakura get rid of this Shadow." This time, Saber manifested a full-out smile brighter than the moon in the sky.
"Come to think about it, it would be a marvelous experience if I could stay with you…be with you after this war."
It suddenly hit Shirou hard the thought of her leaving him after the end of the war and Shirou found himself wishing for the same thing.
Wow, I know you won't believe me, but I cried in happiness while writing the final scene. For those who wonder about Saber's inner monologue at the end of this chapter, I took it from the Fate anime episode when Saber rescues Shirou at the Church.
Please tell me your thoughts.
Next Update – Avalon Bond