Chapter 7: Bonds and Mysteries

Alone in the barebones residence, Shirou and Gray sat at the table, munching on the food he had brought with him as an offering. No words were exchanged; they were content in stealing glances at each other and filling their stomachs.

Perhaps that was for the best – this situation wasn't what one would call ideal.

Shirou rubbed his fingers together as he kept eating. But he decided to dare himself, as the silence became uncomfortable, to catch another glance at the girl he had gotten to know even a little at this point.

His eyes flicked up just in time to catch a small but bright smile in the depths of her hood, face flush with joy. She spooned another mouthful, unaware of how he was looking at her; at how captivated he was.

She was cute, the boy admitted to himself. Though it served as quite the contrast to the night before and the fight with Assassin.

"Oi, can't you pass some onto me?!" the cube shouted from where his cage was propped up on the kitchen counter. "C'mon!"

Gray's smile vanished as she peered at the box, sighing to herself but not moving.

"Add…you're a Mystic Code," she pointed out, with a tone belying her experience at dealing with him. "You can't eat."

The cube deliberated with himself before turning away, chuckling a little at disturbing the mood.

Shirou, in that moment, very much wanted to break him to pieces if only for disturbing the peace. Though Gray had to be even more annoyed, since as far as he'd gathered 'Add' had been in her possession for a long time.

Soon they had finished their meals. Shirou picked at his teeth and graciously gathered the cutlery and plates whilst Gray sat back in her chair.

She peered up at him as he deposited the dishes into the sink, nodding. "That was good. Thank you."

Shirou smiled brightly back. "Thanks, I've been cooking for a long time. But I'm not too special though, compared to some other cooks in Fuyuki."

Furrowing his brow he rifled through the cupboards, finding nothing but packet ramen and some vegetables. He rubbed his chin in contemplation, though to his relief he found cereal and milk in the fridge.

Was this all Gray ate? It was a bad diet, though she had the sense to balance it out if the fruit bowl chock full of oranges and apples was any indication.

"Um, Gray," he questioned, the girl turning to him, "is this all you eat?"

She got to her feet to see what he was pointing at. A flush rose up her neck as she spotted the packets of ramen in her cupboards. The girl gripped her hood and pulled it tighter around her face, trying to obscure the embarrassment on her features.

Shirou turned his eye away, giving her the privacy she wanted.

"Um… yes," Gray admitted in shame. "I'm trying to learn…but it's difficult to fit in time."

The redhead rubbed his chin as he considered everything around him. She had cutlery at least, chopping boards and knives, along with bowls. Even the few ingredients she had could be used for a few things. Not a lot though.

Resolutely, he palmed his fist, knowing what he wanted to do.

"Right," he breathed to himself, "I'll cook some stuff for you and bring it up. I've got a few spare cookbooks too – if you want to learn."

He heard the ruffle of cloth behind him along with the faintest sounds of…gasps? The boy turned around, eyebrow cocked, only finding Gray swaddling herself in her massive cover of a cloak.

For a second he wondered what it was he had heard before shrugging and sitting back down at the table, making a mental note of what he'd need.

"Well you're not here to be her housekeeper are ya?" Add commented once more, fixing his amber eyes with its own shining ones. "We got business to discuss."

At that reminder, the almost content air that had been spreading in the building chilled, until it felt as if goosebumps riddled Shirou's body. Gray stopped hiding herself in her cloak, releasing her hold and sitting back down opposite him.

Almost as if she was a reaper waiting to judge the dead.

"Yes…" she agreed with her Mystic Code, locking her gaze into Shirou's, "we need to talk.

"Firstly…are you aware of what the Class Cards are?" she inquired, barely shuffling to get more comfortable. Her voice wasn't as emotive as before, but tinged with something akin to smooth steel.

"I don't," Shirou admitted easily, bringing out his Saber card from his pocket, "I just know that using it…it makes me feel strong."

It was a silly admission, one he wouldn't admit to anyone else. But Gray didn't laugh, her mouth didn't even twitch in ridicule.

"The Class Cards are mediums, containing the spirits of Heroic Spirits – heroes dead, resurrected into them for power," she began, her hands curling into fists. "The 'Shadow Servant' we fought…that's a manifestation."

"Manifestation?" he questioned, leaning forward. "Like…its power coming to life?"

Gray nodded with grave admission. "Yes. Manifestations trying to come to life again using the Class Cards to do so. I have been ordered to…retrieve them."

The girl was leaving something unsaid, something stressful if the way she averted his eyes from his was any indication. But Shirou had been raised to be polite, so if she didn't address it he wouldn't point it out.

But this bombshell…it oddly made sense, even as his brain struggled to comprehend this. Lancer had clearly been a legendary warrior, and even his Saber card…though he didn't truly know who was inside it, he could tell the 'Heroic Spirit' was someone notable.

"Do you know who made them?" he queried, clenching his unseen hand into a fist almost instinctively.

"No, it's not known who made them, or why…or how many." Gray shook her head, eyes flicking back to his. "But they're objects of interest to…certain groups."

In his mind's eye, Shirou remembered. Lancer's beautiful twin spears, shining in the darkness. Assassin's long-barreled gun and knife. His right hand twitched as he also recalled the sword he wielded during that fight. It was nameless and inconsequential, but it still contained power.

"What can they do? The Cards?" he asked once more, the answers coming unbidden but he needed to be sure.

"They can do a few things," Gray continued, sipping at a glass of water she poured for herself as if she was unused to talking so much. "They can 'Include', and the user can use the Noble Phantasms of the Servant – their strongest abilities. And 'Install', where users become the Servant."

"Like what I did…" Shirou gathered, rubbing at the Saber card.

Gray nodded in agreement. "Yes. But…it was thought to be theoretical, Installing without a medium. However..."

In other words, there were still things regarding the Class Cards even Gray's side didn't know. And likely never would, without observation, with Shirou perhaps being a key.

All of a sudden it felt as if dozens of eyes were staring into his back, needling him with glares and glances. The boy rubbed at his neck, feeling sweat run down it.

The silence returned when Gray finished speaking. It overpowered them, suffocated them, leaving the two young teenagers to stew in their thoughts.

Shirou continued rubbing at the Saber card as Gray drew back into her hood, averting their gazes like the plague.

There were more Class Cards, that was certain now. However many he didn't know and from the way she spoke, Gray didn't either. But it refreshed the horrifying guilt that had poisoned Shirou only the day before.

If there were more Class Cards, there were more chances of innocent people getting involved. And he had nearly been unintentionally responsible for one such incident with Assassin.

Rather, he could have been. No one besides him and Gray had been anywhere close to that oddly familiar estate. But the paranoia and images ran rampant in his head, seizing his attention with every fictitious scream and imaginary corpse.

Even as his heart thrummed in terror and his veins froze in fright…Shirou looked up at Gray, his face stern and resolute.

"I'll fight," he whispered, before repeating his vow louder. "I'll help you fight them."

Gray's eyes widened, mouth gaping at him. She didn't see how his hands trembled or how his legs tapped against the floor, only the resolute look across his features.

" this something you want to do?" she asked at last, after gathering her own uncertain thoughts. "You don't have to fight them."

"I have to," he argued back, standing up, "because…if someone got hurt because I didn't…"

He didn't continue the sentence, the unfinished thought stewing in the air.

Was it supposed to be this easy to confide in someone? To open up about his dark thoughts even a little? Perhaps not. But…something about Gray and how they had fought together, forging a partnership against Assassin made him relax his barriers and let just a little bit seep through.

"Besides, we made a good team against Assassin," he continued, his dark thoughts falling back from whence they came. "That's gotta count for something right?"

Gray pursed her lips, fidgeting in her seat. Even the annoying cube didn't speak, just looking over at her. For a few minutes she was absorbed into her own world and thoughts, considering something Shirou couldn't name.

Then she rose to her feet and walked over to him. She was only a little shorter, but somehow she seemed tiny.

Even so, she met his gaze with her own quivering and frightened determination.

"...Alright," she agreed quietly yet loud enough for him to hear, "we can…work together."

Shirou smiled in relief, reaching out his hand for a shake. Gray blinked at the gesture, her eyes clouded by unfamiliarity before gingerly taking it.

"I guess here's to a good partnership," he let out as they continued shaking, "but I guess we have to get to planning."

Gray nodded in agreement, and together they sat back down at the table and began thinking over the coming hunts.

As the light of the sun began to dim, the two teenagers had come up with a relatively good plan of attack. Neither of them were tacticians or strategists—Gray would never reach the level of the other magi she had encountered, at least not according to her—but it was at least something concrete.

They hunched over the table as they looked at their shared notes, written down in careful cursive into Gray's faded but trusted notebook. Her hood hid her blush at the chaotic organisation of it.

Shirou leaned back in his chair, stretching out his arms with a pop.

"So…" he began in a lull, rubbing at his eyes. "Class Cards manifest in different places right?"

Gray nodded. "Yes. They seem to arrange themselves in places where ley lines flow together. There are some places like that here, from what my master told me."

She took her pen and drew on the miniature map of Fuyuki she had sketched out over two pages. With precision she circled several spots, recalling as best as she could her master's briefing.

"Here are the places I know that fit that description," she motioned, watching carefully as Shirou's eyes flitted between them. "Do you know them?"

The redhead furrowed his brow, rubbing at his chin. As he did so, he reached towards Gray's bag of supplies. She moved away from him ever so slightly, watching as he withdrew a full scale map she had purchased from a local shop. Her rudimentary Japanese allowed that, at least.

The boy opened it and laid it flat on the table, moving his eyes between the smaller replica and the more useful larger variant. His brow furrowed in concentration, but he nodded to himself after a bit of time.

"Can I borrow that?" He gestured at her pen.

Gray offered it without comment, the boy smiling at her graciously.

"Thanks." The boy nodded, focusing his gaze as he began cross-referencing. "Been a while since I looked at something like this, but…"

It took some time, with even the hooded girl beginning to vibrate restlessly in her seat, but Shirou leaned back after he finished the referencing, yawning a little.

Gray leaned forward, her eyes washing over the map and the markings he had made on it. Several were in places she hadn't ever seen in the city yet, but a few of the more sedentary ones drew her gaze too.

"That's the city hall I think—" he motioned towards the center of the Shinto area, "—and over here's the old forest. No one goes in there, but it always gives people the creeps. There's always a fog there, but people swear there's a castle in it."

He jabbed at the most out-of-the-way one in emphasis. Gray shivered with him, her mind occupied with memories of Adra Castle and of the ghosts that assailed her there. If this one wasn't so different, then she was filled with the dread of expectation.

But she wouldn't let it drag her down. At the very least, she would have a partner to help her out.

"Not really sure about the rest," he admitted, before pointing at one last spot, "but that's the bridge between the two parts of Fuyuki."

Gray nodded at that, a plan already whirling inside her head. "I see…we should investigate that site first."

Shirou raised an eyebrow in questioning. "Why?"

The girl gestured at the other spots, nausea rising up bit by bit. "The city hall…it's too enclosed. And the forest one…if a Class Card is there, we would be at a disadvantage."

Shirou's eyes gleamed as he understood her reasoning.

"And the river's isolated, but not too far away," he gathered to which Gray gave a small but encouraging nod. "Yeah, I get it."

It wasn't a particularly good investigation, as inexperienced as they were, but it was a start. Gray had no clue how long the search would take, but they'd narrow down the Class Card locations soon enough.

Hopefully without crossing paths with Rin and Luvia before she had prepared herself.

Shirou reclined back into his chair, wringing his hands together in thought. Gray peered over at him, and almost sheepishly he met her eyes.

"Um, I was wondering if I could ask something," he began, rubbing at his cheek a little, "if that's okay."

Gray didn't say anything, but she tilted her head in questioning.

After a second of looking down at his hands, Shirou began speaking again.

"I'd like…to take a trip up to where we fought Assassin," he confessed at last, shoulders falling from revealing his desire. "It's just that it feels familiar somehow."

Gray thought about it. It was true that the estate had been, for lack of a better term, creepy. Like those films Reines kept trying to get her to watch with ghosts and ghouls. Even beyond her fear of Assassin she had been terrified of the place and the lingering magecraft.

But it was worth investigating to get to the bottom of it, so she could add more to her reports. There was something off about Fuyuki. Something had happened here her master didn't tell her about and, perhaps selfishly, Gray wanted to know what it was about.

"Okay…" She smiled thinly in reassurance. "We can go up now, if you want?"

Shirou blinked, having not expected the ease of her reply. But a nervous laugh left his lips as he got to his feet and grabbed his wrinkled jacket from where he had tossed it at some point.

"Alright, I'll start heading up," he said to her, opening the door and walking out. "Catch up?"

"I will," Gray agreed, drawing her cloak around herself.

The redhead closed the door behind him, leaving Gray alone with Add and the dust.

Gray let out a breath as the silence and newfound loneliness pressed down around her, twitching her fingers into her cloak.

When did it become so lonely here? Was it just from the absence of the one person she had talked to in this city?

The phone rang like an alarm, drawing her out of her reverie.

As fast as lightning, Gray grabbed at the phone. Steadying her uneven breaths and her heartbeat, the girl fingered the phone before holding it up to her ear.

"Hello, master," she spoke, apologetic regret in her voice. "I'm sorry for not contacting you sooner."

The sound of a cigar being smoked wafed across the receiver, crackling into her ear.

"I understand Gray," her master replied at last, gentle reprimand in his tone, "but be cordial. You're my representative in that city."

"Yes," she agreed, nodding even though he couldn't see her, "I understand."

"Did anything of note happen?" her teacher asked, his words unintentionally pointed like knives. "I need to know everything."

For an instant her resolve halted. She was tempted, oh so tempted, to tell her teacher about Shirou and their new partnership. About her suspicions about Rin and Luvia, and the Class Card plan. Undoubtedly he'd approve of her ingenuity.

Even so…what would he think of her for involving someone she had declared to not be involved? The world of magi wasn't for everyone, and there was very little she feared more than making her teacher disappointed.

"Yes, master," she said at last, hiding away her thoughts, "actually…I fought Assassin."

And so she spun a yarn. Editing out Shirou's part in it out of respect for his privacy, reframing it as best as she could whilst still keeping to the spirit of it. After all, she couldn't feel guilty about lying if she didn't lie and just...neglected to mention certain things, right?

Even as she picked her words, the girl wondered: when would she have to tell Shirou about all of this?

She spoke for so long her voice fell hoarse from how much she had said. As the girl drank from her water, her master breathed in a long drag of his cigar again, the crackling intensifying.

"And you say he used a thin-barreled gun?" he asked at last.

"Yes," Gray replied, rubbing at her arms, "it was…it felt different to anything before."

Her master fell silent, for so long that Gray worried he had either fallen asleep or at last fell victim to his own bad lifestyle. Eventually though he spoke up again, his words guarded like when she had mentioned the homunculi.

"Be careful Gray," he warned her, voice betraying his experience. "I'll say it again so that you don't act like Flat or Svin – be very careful in that city. It's good you managed to kill Assassin, however…"

He stopped speaking again, drowning in whatever memories he was haunted by.

"I understand, master," she replied when he didn't speak, the image of the priest floating behind her retinas. "I will be careful. I'm sorry for not reporting back sooner – I'll do so again in a few days."

"...Good," he muttered, rubbing his face audibly. "I look forward to it, Gray."

The line clicked off, their meeting drawn to an end. For a few moments the hooded girl stared down at the receiver, furrowing her brow in worry before she replaced it on the stand.

"Ihihihi, let's get goin'!" Add chirped as she clipped him to her harness. "Time to see what's so fucked about that place!"

Gray stayed quiet as she bound into the afternoon light, the sun's rays fading into a gentle orange bit by bit.

Shirou waited outside the ruined gate of the estate, fingering the card inside his pocket. He peeked down at it before withdrawing his hands, rubbing them together in the chilly night.

From where he leaned, his amber eyes stared at the estate. He bit at his lip, rubbing his brow slowly, pressure building up inside it.

"What is this place…" he muttered to himself, his only confidant. "Why's it so familiar?"

Even as he stared at it, hazy recollections imposed themselves over the sight. The ruined gate was pristine, and the broken tiles were replaced with shining ones in the glinting sunlight. If he focused even more, a sound reached Shirou's ears – the sound of a baby wailing.

The boy blinked, and he was left to stare at the ruined homestead, a curious sense of loss in his chest.

He wasn't left alone with his thoughts for very long however, as cloth rushed in the cool breeze and Gray was just…there beside him.

The boy most definitely didn't jump like he had been scared to hell at turning and seeing her so close like a reaper, and would adamantly deny he made any sound remotely close to a screech.

He had his pride, as average as it was.

"Gray!" the boy chimed, before steadying himself and coughing into his hand. "Um...Gray. Is everything okay?"

The girl didn't respond for a while, but soon met his gaze.

"I had…things to take care of," she replied, her tone betraying her uneasiness. "I'm sorry for taking so long."

Shirou smiled at her. It wasn't his business to poke into her affairs, just as their partnership was starting. Perhaps she would confide in him in time but he would never force her to do so.

He wouldn't be able to call himself Shirou Emiya if he did.

They turned in unison to the haunted estate, ruined and broken.

"Well…" Shirou stiffened his shoulders, clenching his hands into fists. "Let's go and see what we can find."

"Mm," Gray agreed, Add's cage clinking against the harness under her voluminous cloak.

They walked step by step into the estate, Shirou as pointman. Gray stuck behind him, eyes flitting in concentration about the place as they delved into the depths.

Even in the light that now perforated the place, as they stepped fully into its bounds, Shirou still felt off. His hairs stuck out on the back of his neck as he eyed the yard, eyes falling on the lonely shed in the corner.

Gray stepped up beside him, her body filled with just as much tension as his. Add chirped inside his cage, muffled as he was by the cloth.

"Phew, it stinks of magecraft!" the Mystic Code complained. "Let's just get this done with!"

As much as he wanted to punt the little cube himself—even as brief as their acquaintanceship was, the cube managed to get on his nerves—Shirou agreed with him.

He turned to Gray, whose eyes had also trailed towards the shed, and nodded.

"Let's have a look around," the boy reminded her, and his companion inclined her head in agreement. "See what's up."

They walked leisurely throughout the estate. It was big; bigger than many places Shirou had been to in his life. Bigger even than his house, and that was saying something. It was a medium sized residence but always felt larger than it seemed.

Gray picked her way around fallen wooden beams that stabbed into the porch, eyes glinting up at the sun. The spot was the perfect place to gaze up at it, after all.

Overall, they didn't find much apart from a broken down dojo with wooden swords still in their sheathes, and bedrooms that were in heavy disrepair, cobwebs encasing them and the tatami doors that closed them off from the rest of the world.

Yet, even as they avoided the rotten wood and picked their way through the place, looking for any sign of magecraft…Shirou felt something.

The hallucinations returned more and more, drenching the place altogether.

Shirou became smaller, smaller than he had been in years. He grabbed at the man's reassuring hand as they walked through the place, already boarded up and empty.

They were moving, he knew, and soon – but beyond that all the boy could hear was the crying of a baby.

"What's that?" he asked the man who guided him, his face obscured by static and shadow. "A baby?"

The man smiled down at him even though he couldn't see his face, and guided him into a lonely room.

Contrary to the rest of the estate, it was the only room full of love. Toys adorned the shelves and colorful blankets obscured the floor.

A cot was being rocked, as a white-haired woman's song reached into it. Shirou peered up on his feet at the woman, her face scratched out and shaded. The man and woman talked, their words obscured in static.

But the boy couldn't help but lumber forward and, standing on his tip-toes…he peered into the cot, and into the face of a cute, newborn baby, blinking her innocent red eyes at him.

A hand placed itself on his shoulder, and Shirou blinked.

All of the images fell away, and they stood alone in just another torn-up room where barely anything remained.

"Shirou?" Gray inquired, worried. "Are you alright?"

The boy didn't say anything as he stared at the place the cot had been and bent down to it. A rotten hole in the floor was in its place, but his eyes caught something inside the lip.

A small, fluffy bauble that looked like a teddy bear. Worn by the years, it still bore something resembling love and cuteness in its making.

He plucked it from its grave and pocketed it without a word.

The boy turned back to Gray, a reassuring smile on his face.

"Yeah, I'm fine." His voice shook as he spoke, false reassurance in every syllable. "Let's look at the shed, yeah?"

Gray nodded, her eyes never leaving his shaking back, her mind mired in thought and speculation.

The shed was easy to pick open. It wasn't even locked, really – the doors were simply stuck with age. With twin grunts they pushed the rusted doors open and covered their mouths to avoid breathing in the dust that filled the place.

Yet even they stepped in as one, underneath the long abandoned boxes—

swords stabbed into his skin, into his soul, into his very being—

—He could barely breathe.

Shirou grunted as he fell against the wall, and Gray struggled to stay on her feet. Shaking, quivering from an invisible fear, they understood immediately what had caused their uneasiness before.

Whatever was shining from beneath the boxes.

For what felt like an eternity they stayed where they were, until it drained away and they could move again. Shaking his arm free of tension, Shirou stared at the pulsating floor.

"Looks like something's there," he muttered. "Let's have a look."

It took time for them to shift all the boxes away, but soon it was all cleared away. The mechanical parts crumbled away as they touched them, as if their time was rapidly accelerated to nothingness, and boxes crumbled into mere fragments.

But as they laboured on as one unit, the source of the feeling was revealed.

A pulsating, crackling purple circle. Symbols and patterns stretched inside of it, glowing in tune with the rest of it like a beating heart.

"A magic circle…" Gray acknowledged, withdrawing Add's cage from her harness. "I see. That's why we felt strange."

"Yeah, that thing's been on and off for years from the look of it," Add commented, artificial eyes glancing at the work. "There was definitely a magus here, but they ain't anymore."

Shirou bit the inside of his cheek as he bent down, tracing the edge of the circle with his fingers. The skin tingled, but didn't burn, as arcane electricity washed over it.

"There's probably stuff here…" he murmured, loud enough for only Gray to hear. "Dunno though."

"I'll see what I can find," Gray responded, sweeping further into the shed, Add's comment silenced from the movement.

As the girl fitted into the corners of the shed, her gloves dirtied from dust and years-old mold, Shirou kept his eyes on the magic circle.

His right hand reached into his pocket as he did so, rubbing the material as if to create a spark.

A forge sounded in his ears once more, drowning out the uneasy silence, the card beginning to burn hot.

As it did, and the sound of the forge drew closer, Shirou had an idea.

Gray ambled through the shed, staying away from Shirou. Her eyes caught onto his kneeling form, but she said nothing as she picked through the garbage and stuff littering the inside of the shed.

They were only just now partners after all, even if it was a favourable situation. She didn't want to impress herself on him, and she needed time for her own thoughts too.

Her gloves swept across the boxes and remains of machinery that resembled a motorcycle engine.

"Strange…" she whispered to herself, rubbing at the metal. "A magus who used machinery."

"Yeah, a tried and tested savant," Add responded sarcastically, "though they must have bit it at some point. No magus would've left something like that alone."

Gray didn't turn back to the magic circle, keeping her back to the crackling energy. It had eased considerably since they had opened the breach to the shed. Perhaps it had been contained and building up from that, and was now dispersing?

She didn't know, but what she did know—

the spear burned brightly until the ends of the world—

—was that the energy felt uncomfortably familiar. Gray couldn't name where she had felt it or when, but it was that instinctive, primal recognition that kept her far away from the circle even if she would have benefited from researching it.

"What was it for?" she wondered aloud, finally turning back to spot Shirou still kneeling, "a magic circle like that isn't used for just anything."

"Yeah, you said it," Add replied, fixing his eyes on the subject of debate, "but there's no way in hell we can figure that out without the nerd."

Her eyes twitched at the insult to her master, though Add's broader point was right. How could she and her new ally research the magic circle if they didn't have the proper tools? Gray didn't even have experience in this, and Shirou for sure didn't.

Even so, she withdrew her notebook from her pocket and sketched out an approximation of the circle, her eyes flitting between her book and the actual thing so as to make sure it was all accurate.

After a moment of comparison, Gray wordlessly placed her notebook back into her pocket. She stepped forward—

And her boots clinked against something at her feet.

"Huh?" she blinked and peered downward, bending down to have a better look.

It was a box. A small one, meant for carrying small objects. It fit comfortably into her hand, and was differently made to everything else in the shed, shiny and locked. That was strange, as it was by sheer coincidence she had happened across it.

After a moment of consideration, the girl rattled it. Inside, three objects responded to her jostling, clinking. Biting her lip, she popped the box open and peered in at the contents.

"Gray? What's that?" Shirou asked her, stepping up to her as her body froze.

He joined her in looking into the box, and at the three objects that sat in a mess at the bottom.

Three very sharp, very deadly bullets.

Gray said nothing, couldn't rather, as her eyes stayed on the bullets. They were familiar, though she couldn't place why – not until she remembered with a mental kick where they were.

"They look like Assassin's bullets," Shirou commented, his breath halting. "What are they doing here?"

Gray corrected that assumption inside herself, picking up one of them despite every instinct in her body shrieking at her to throw them away. These ones were far less soaked in mana than Assassin's, and were more mundane in shape; more like bullets from years before, scratched and dulled, rather than the knife-pointed ones the Servant had used.

But the coincidence was far too much of one. Gray looked at Shirou, who met her gaze.

"Something happened here," she responded to him, packing the bullets back away and placing them where she had found them. "A magus stayed here, and a Class Card manifested as well."

There was something strange here, even stranger than was usual for the Moonlit World.

Shirou stared at the box, biting his lip. His eyes caught onto the dulled but still sparking circle, before focusing once more on the exit to the shed.

"Let's get out of here, we can come back some other day," Shirou declared, already walking out of the shed.

Gray nodded and proceeded out with him.

They left the estate, the cool air a welcome distraction from the sensation that had stabbed into their souls and skin. Now they were encompassed by a cool, freezing air that cracked away the apprehension that had boiled up inside.

Their eyes met and they began journeying away into the night, sticking next to each other in the uncomfortable revelations that now bothered their minds.

Yet even as they fell into a comfortable journey together, Gray could not stop herself from shaking. The hairs on her neck stood on attention, as if sensing some invisible monster.

She didn't dare to turn, not even when they reached the sight of her home. But at that point, as Shirou stalked in front of her unaware of her instinctive distress, Gray wondered.

Was something, or someone, watching them?