Fate/Zero:Act 8 Part 4
Tōsaka Rin was prepared.
Since she was the inheritor of a family of magi, she was bound to walk a path different from that of ordinary girls.
There was a very good example beside her: the greatest, most handsome, and most gentle adult she ever knew.
In her eyes, her father Tokiomi was nearly a perfect human. Although many girls her age also admire their fathers, Rin believed no other daughter would love her father as deeply as she did.
To become a singer when she grows up, to become a beautiful bride when she grows up – girls Rin’s age perhaps all harbor such wishes, but Rin’s wish was different.
Things like occupation are second-only on her list; her biggest wish was to become someone as great as her father.
That is to say, choosing the road her father was walking, choosing to accept the destiny that her father accepted. In other words – to inherit and continue the Tōsaka’s blood of magecraft.
But that was only a wish, not something that would come true just by hoping so. Firstly, she has to get the permission of her teacher, her father. She was rather anxious about the fact that her father hadn’t yet expressed the wish of entrusting the family to Rin in the future. Maybe her father hadn’t acknowledged she has the aptitude to become a magus.
But even so, her wish had never changed, so she felt proud of the preparedness she had made.
Of course, Rin knew far more about what was currently happening in Fuyuki city than her classmates. Although she still couldn’t comprehend it as profoundly as her parents, she knew more truths than most ordinary people on the street.
Seven magi, her father included, were undertaking a war.
Fatal and unearthly threats lurked in the night streets.
Because she knew some truths, Rin’s heart felt a particular sense of responsibility.
Her friend Kotone didn’t come to school yesterday or today.
The homeroom teacher said she was sick at home, but the rumor spreading in the class was different.
Even when Rin called her house, her parents didn’t want to deal with Rin.
Nowadays abductions of children were occurring repeatedly in Fuyuki and they can’t be solved with simple investigations alone. Even if people report it to the police, it is very unlikely the children will come back. The teachers at school and Kotone’s family and friends certainly didn’t not realize this, except Rin.
Kotone had always trusted Rin very much. Rin would always stand up for Kotone, be it when she was bullied by boys in their class or when the librarian forced work onto her. Rin was proud of being so trusted and respected by her classmate. “Always maintain your elegance” – it was a good opportunity for Rin to put the family creed into action whenever she helped Kotone.
Right now, Kotone must also be waiting for Rin to go and save her.
In fact, she could have asked her magus father for help, but her father was one of the participants of the “war” and didn’t call back since he moved to the house in Miyama last month. Also, her mother strictly ordered her not to disturb her father.
With a tone that was like saying “never go out at night”.
Rin had always obeyed her parents’ words, but she couldn’t leave a friend who was in a dangerous situation.
And then - no matter what, she only had to go through one sleepless night.
Actually, back then Rin only knew parts of the truth, and her mind was not yet mature.
Unknown to her, whether due to her sense of duty or the so-called conscience’s call, she was brought into an area that she should never had stepped in, while she herself didn’t realize it at all at that time.
Compared to the Tōsaka house, tightly surrounded with bounded fields, it was all too easily escaping from her room in the Zenjō house.
Climb out of the bedroom window, slide down the balcony pillar into the garden, then get outside the fence through the back door.
She took barely five minutes to come out, but she can’t use the same route when she comes back. It’s easy to slide down the balcony pillar but far too hard to climb back up.
When she thought it would be impossible to hide the fact that she sneaked out tonight and her parents are bound to scold her harshly, Rin told herself it wasn’t for something shameful that she sneaked out but she had to do this because she is someone of the Tōsaka family. She would definitely bring Kotone back with her when she returns. Then, no matter how bad her parents might scold her, she would feel proud about herself in her own heart.
She was armed with three things.
The most trustworthy was the magecraft compass her father gave to her on her birthday. It looked like an ordinary compass from its shape and structure, but it wouldn’t point towards the north and point towards the direction where strong amounts of prana emanate out instead. Rin had experimented with it, and neither wind nor water could change the detection of small movements of prana. If something abnormal happens, this would undoubtedly be the most useful.
The rest were two piece of crystal that Rin specially crafted while she practiced jewel magecraft. She picked the two best works from her completed ones. If all the prana stored in them were to be released at once – although she’s never tried something so dangerous – it would probably cause a small explosion. It can be a weapon of self-defense in the face of danger.
With these equipments, and together with her own strength, Rin believed she would definitely find Kotone and bring her back.
If someone was to ask her, will everything be alright? She would definitely nod her head.
If someone was to ask, will everything really be alright? Then she might nod rather hesitantly.
And if someone was to ask, can she really really be certain that not a single mistake will be made – then even she herself would probably not dare to reply.
Actually, this question doesn’t hold much meaning for Rin. If someone was really going to ask anything then they should firstly ask would Kotone be alright, and would Rin manage if Kotone never come to school again? If she was posed with such questions, she would definitely reply immediately and without a doubt.
Gathering her courage and pride, Rin told herself she’s not like those fearful normal children. She chased away the cowardice in her heart and started to walk towards the closest cable car station. Fuyuki Shinto is only one station away, and the change she had were just enough for the ticket.
She did miss the Fuyuki night air. The icy cold scent of winter was just the right thing to cool down her burning hot skin.
Rin naively thought it would be great if she can find Kotone before the final cable car of the night. But that would leave her with only two hours, and that wouldn’t be enough time at all.
Firstly, she’ll investigate Shinto. If she went to Miyama the magecraft compass would just point straight towards the Tōsaka house, and if she went there it’s very possible her father would discover her.
Judging by adult standards, it was not yet midnight, but the amount of people on the street was pitifully small. Normally when she was going home office workers would be rushing about, and even at night lively groups of people still throbbed on the street.
Rin was dumbfolded by the reaction of the compass needle after she opened the lid of the magecraft compass.
“… What’s this?”
The needle, which normally wavered just a little, was rapidly spinning in circles. It was the first time she saw this kind of phenomenon. This reaction, as if of a confused little animal, made a shadow pass across Rin’s heart.
But it wouldn’t be the best idea to just stand here. The few adults who just walked by already gave questioning looks to Rin, who was standing alone. Let’s just start walking first.
The further she walked, the more sparse people became. Is this really the Fuyuki city she’s so used to? Rin felt a faint chill creeping up her entire body.
Actually, Fuyuki city had already imposed a curfew. Strange murders and abductions have been happening recently and last night even a series of explosions, made for terrorism purposes, occurred at Shinto and the harbor district. The police was urging citizens to go out less often at night, and the smart ones have all obeyed this command.
But even if there were no curfews, there shouldn’t be many citizens who still liked to wonder at night. Nowadays something unwholesome was lurking in the Shinto night; human instincts would have already detected this.
“– Aaa, as I thought.”
The red police light lit up further down the street and Rin hid in the shadow of a building in fright. The patrolling police car was driving slowly, searching for any citizen who was walking alone at night. There was no way the police would leave her alone if they see her, and if that happens she wouldn’t be able to go save Kotone.
Rin finally relaxed as she watched the light move slowly away –
– Rin swallowed the scream she almost yelled out.
That sound just then came from the depth of the alleyway by the house she was hiding next to, and it’s probably a stray cat sifting through the rubbish and knocked over some cans. But it’s hard to determine if someone was there.
Rin drew a sharp breath when she looked down on the magecraft compass in her hands.
Unmoving, as if frozen in place, the needle pointed straight towards the direction of the sound.
Something was there; something that emanated unnatural prana was there.
Isn’t this the result you're waiting anxiously for?
You've already gotten some response from your investigation. Isn't that a sign of a good start?
Rin planned to go through all suspicious spots in Shinto and check Kotone’s presence one by one. Here, the first place she checked, already has something.
Come now, let's step into the inside of the alley and check what's there.
Maybe there are some clues about Kotone right there. Or maybe, Kotone herself is there.
There's no reason to hesitate. If not, there would be no meaning coming this far. You are not a coward. You would not do things such as abandoning your friend as well. That's because you are one of the Tōsaka with a long and distinguished history. So you have to prove that you're brave and can become your great father's successor.
“No no no absolutely not no no no no noooooo…!”
A wet sound could be heard. Splash, splash, Something lurking at the deep inside the alley was breathing, as if sneering her, creeping towards her.
Rin finally realized that this journey of exploration, aimed to recover her best friend, was definitely not as easy to complete as she thought.
Kotone’s figure wasn’t in the depth of the darkness.
Even if she was in there, she wouldn’t be the same Kotone as before.
If she was thinking of finding Kotone in the darkness of Shinto, from the start, Rin should have aimed to find Kotone's ▉▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉ instead.
In fact, Tōsaka Rin possessed excellent aptitude to be a magus.
She had never seen a demon, nor had she been touched by one, but from mere instinct she could tell she was in a very dangerous situation right now.
To study magecraft, the first thing one need to do is to learn to accept and know death – this is the first lesson of every apprentice magus.
That inescapable, incomprehensible, purely despairing feel of ‘death’.
On that day, little Rin felt the essence of magecraft from that experience.
She couldn’t move; she couldn’t even yell. A terror unbearable to ordinary humans was more than enough to crush such a young girl.
Strange buzzing sounds started by her ears, and Rin thought it was triggered by the icy cold despair pressing down on her heart.
Her thoughts were probably starting to destroy her five senses’ perception.
A humming started, monotonous yet maniacal, as if a swamp of giant wasps were raiding towards her…
The buzzing became steadily louder. It was approaching her.
In the blink of an eye, the stuff on top of Rin’s head rushed inward like a cover of black fog.
That thing quickly passed above Rin like a turbid current, striking the depth of the darkness in a split second.
And then those bloodcurdling screams sounded without end, screams that sounded like boiling a cat alive in a pot of hot water – but it was definitely not the sound of a cat.
This was already the limit of Rin’s endurance.
Her sight dimmed, and her footsteps faltered. The moment before she was about to fall, someone took her in his hands.
In front of her eyes was a monster with only the left side of his face visible.
That face, ugly beyond description, was embedded with a dim and lightless eyeball.
But his right eye eluded a deep loneliness and melancholy.
I think I have seen this expression somewhere before...
Rin thought so before she lost consciousness.
An hour later, Tōsaka Aoi finally discovered her daughter had disappeared.
Probably afraid of her mother’s scolding, the child put a note beside her bed, and wrote she was going to find her lost classmate Kotone.
Aoi was immediately overwhelmed with regret. Rin mentioned Kotone during dinner, and questioned Aoi about Fuyuki’s current situation.
Back then, Aoi thought she shouldn’t hide anything about it, so she said bluntly – "Forget this friend already."
Tokiomi should be informed – but this thought was immediately damped down by her conscience.
Aoi didn’t know magecraft but she was, after all, a magus’s wife. She knew very well her husband didn’t have time to worry about his daughter. Her husband was still at the battlefield, and he had already placed his life and all his stamina on the battle.
The only one who could protect Rin now was Aoi herself.
Aoi ran out of the Zenjō house wearing only her household clothes, and galloped on the night state highway with her car.
Since she didn’t know exactly where Rin went, then she could only guess her range of movement and check the places she might go to one by one.
If starting at her house and take the cable car, the first stop would be the Fuyuki city stop in Shinto, then walk for thirty minutes with a child’s speed, the approximate distance would be…
The first place Aoi thought of was the public park beside the river.
The silent park easily reminded her of a graveyard.
On the plaza barren of people, the dim light of the street lamps enriched the darkness and quietness with a sinister sheen.
Fuyuki city’s night air was markedly corrupted. Living with a magus and having gotten used to many odd events, Aoi immediately discovered this.
At once, Aoi looked towards the bench she used to sit at when she brought Rin here to play. It was probably an instinctive feeling out of the blue.
However, the little figure clad in a red coat that she was looking for was right there.
Aoi lost her composure and rushed up with a yell. Rin was unconscious and lay unmoving on the bench.
Aoi took her up and felt her even breathing and warm body temperature. There appeared to be no external wounds and she looked like she was just sleeping. Aoi finally cried in reassurance.
“Thank goodness… truly…”
Who should she thank? Aoi, full with joy, finally calmed down. Suddenly she realized someone was looking at her. Turning her head, she noticed someone was looking at the pair of mother and daughter from the bushes behind the bench.
Aoi yelled with a stiff tone. Contrary to what she expected, the figure moved to stand beneath the light of the streetlamps without hesitation.
It was a man wearing a large winter coat and had a scarf wrapped around his face. His left leg seemed to be wounded and scuffed as he walked.
“I thought I would definitely see you if I wait here.”
The mysterious man finally opened his mouth and gasped. He seemed to be a terminal lung cancer patient who felt painful even with breathing, and heaved heavy huffs. However, his tone was surprisingly elegant and soft.
Although his throat was already ruined, Aoi felt this voice was familiar.
The figure stopped. After a temporary hesitation, he finally took off the scarf and showed his true face.
Lifeless white hair as if it was withering, the left side of his face frozen and expressionless; it was a very terrifying face.
Although Aoi wanted to restrain her cowardly wails, she failed. Kariya laughed deplorably with the remaining right side of his face.
“This is the magecraft of the Matōs. It needs me to offer my flesh, corrode my life… a thaumaturgy that can only be achieved by using this as the price.”
“What? What’s going on? How come you are here?”
Slightly confused, Aoi asked the childhood sweetheart in front of her continuously. But Kariya didn’t answer any questions, and just continued on the previous topic with a gentle tone.
“But, Sakura-chan is fine. Before she becomes like this as well… I must save her and take her out.”
This was the forbidden word that the Tōsaka family never mentioned in one year. The uncontrollable pain of separation was suddenly flooding Aoi’s heart.
Sakura – the Tōsaka daughter sent to the Matō family.
Speaking of it, wasn’t it exactly a year ago when Kariya saw Aoi last?
“All Zōken wants is the Holy Grail. He promised me he’d release Sakura-chan as long as I help him get the Holy Grail.”
The “Holy Grail” Kariya spoke of made Aoi feel an evil chill from nowhere.
Aoi prayed that she heard it wrong, but Kariya stretched out his right hand as if betraying Aoi’s heart. On the back of his hand, three engraved Command Seals could clearly be seen.
“Therefore, I’ll definitely do so… don’t worry, my Servant is the strongest; he won’t lose to anyone.”
“Ah – why –”
Terror, sadness, and a large amount of confusion made Aoi at a loss for words.
Kariya returned to the Matō family, and led his Servant to participate in the Heaven’s Feel.
This means her husband and her childhood sweetheart were about to unleash an extraordinary gruesome slaughter between each other.
“… Oh God…”
Kariya ignored Aoi’s lament; he took the meaning of the tears seeping out of her eyes the wrong way.
“Right now, Sakura-chan doesn’t even want to have hope. So… you must take that child’s place. Aoi, you need to believe instead, pray instead of her. Pray for my victory and Sakura’s future.”
The left eye, hollow as the dead, glared at Aoi as if cursing her.
The right eye, belonging to the gentle old friend, gazed at Aoi as if begging her.
“Kariya-kun, do you…”
Want to die?
Want to kill Tokiomi and die?
Aoi couldn’t ask that. Despair rooted deeply in her heart.
Aoi lowered her head and held Rin tightly to her chest. It was the only thing she could do right now to escape this cruel reality.
Aoi’s eyes were clutched tightly shut. Kariya’s gentle and agonized voice sounded beside her ears.
“One day, we’d come here to play like before. Rin-chan and Sakura-chan would return to being a pair of good sisters like before… so, Aoi, don’t cry anymore.”
“Kariya-kun, wait –”
But Kariya had no answer to this final call; he walked slowly away, dragging his destroyed left leg. Aoi didn’t have the courage to follow him. Right now, she could only cry alone with her daughter in her arms.
Her motherly tears dropped on Rin’s sweetly sleeping face.
In the darkness, a few Assassins traversed in silence, moving to report everything they’ve gathered to Kirei.
“Is it appropriate to just leave Tōsaka Tokiomi’s daughter like this?”
“– No problem, just go tail Berserker’s Master.”
Although they took on this job, none of the Assassins could figure out what good this kind of surveillance would do for the War of the Holy Grail.
From yesterday onwards, more strange requirements appeared in Master Kirei’s commands. He asked the Assassins who spied on the five enemy Masters to carefully observe the Masters’ private lives, interests, and appearances and report them. The density of the Assassins’ surveillance scattered around Fuyuki would also be raised. Right now, in the darkness of the night, there must be Hassans hiding everywhere obeying their Master’s command.
Anyways, since it’s a command then they should obey. Although it’s a bother to carry out, it’s not too difficult so there’s nothing much to complain about.
The Assassins galloped in the thickness of night, continuing to follow Matō Kariya.
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