Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 35 – Pain
“Invisible Air- Full Release.”
A wind ferocious enough to visibly distort the atmosphere was given form by the enraged King of Storms.
Perhaps she had tried to minimize the damage to the nearby surroundings. Condensed, concentrated, held in check, spirits of the wind that had lost their destination swirled around the wrathful holy sword.
Invisible Air, fire!
The wind howled, like the roaring of a dragon. Liberated from the captive anger, the wind created a vacuum that carried fury along with the gale. The attack surpassed the speed of sound, capturing Archer with no time to escape.
The “sword of wind” swung from below sent Archer’s body flying into the air. Due to the range, the wave of vacuum had been unable to demonstrate its full effect, and he did not suffer a cut similar the sharpness of a blade.
However, the directed shockwave that had sprung forth, the extreme vibration; they were more like a giant hand than any breeze, and the heavenly blow shattered the membranes of his ear drums and inflicted severe damage to his entire body. Even while his head swam from the overwhelming impact, Archer moved reflexively to protect his body from crashing into the approaching red “something”.
“—Gah …Ahh, hah, gaah… hah…!”
His eye sockets, his nostrils, his ears- blood flowed from all, as Archer was racked with injuries. The red “something” had been the part of the arch of the Fuyuki bridge. He had at last reached his goal, but his damaged inner ear had ruined his sense of balance. In his current state, he would likely die in the midst of escaping.
“Guh…. Agh… Haaaah!”
But even then, he could not fall in a place like this. He gathered the reserve magic power in his body and stood, prepared to face death. Wet with blood, his bright red field of vision captured Fuyuki at night.
Which way… the river, which way?
“This way, Servant Archer.”
The cold voice echoed. Its beauty far surpassed the utterance of some lone reaper, but for the woman he knew it was far too severe.
His blurring eyesight saw the white reaper standing before him. Even grimacing, the silver was all the more enchanting. Saber.
“Honestly… How naive.”
There was no need to call out to a dying man. Simply bringing down her blade in silence was sufficient. By all rights, it should have ended. It should have.
Something was off.
His thoughts were suspect due to his injures, but the sense of unease produced suspicion. Had Saber really been such a soft opponent? Had she been the sort to show kindness to her enemies due to the remnants of her knightly chivalry?
Had she been the sort of knight to pay proper respect to the battle, and unreliably exhaust her own strength to slay an enemy?
However, as if to prevent an answer from reach his growing doubts, Saber filled the space between them in an instant. Archer defended against the blow with his last hope, Kanshou.
A duel, swords pressed together, had begun. Sparks flew and brightly illuminated the faces of both. Their physical strength was incomparable. Bodily condition, too, was wildly disparate.
“…So why? Why lock swords?“
Visible behind the sparks was Saber’s regretful face. Far to the side of his reddened vision, standing like a gravestone, was Fuyuki Port Side Building. He caught sight of a fluttering cloth halfway, catching the direction of the wind. And then, his current location, Fuyuki’s large bridge.
Those four signs conveyed the meaning of Saber’s baffling conduct. Archer realized the true intentions of the enemy master of Saber, overlooking the battlefield.
Yes, why had Saber been waiting in that place? The answer was clear. It was the most suitable location for shooting at the bridge…
In that moment. Without indecision or hesitation. Archer released the strength he had been using to lock swords with Saber.
Saber let out a small gasp of amazement. Invisible Air tore into Archer’s body. Flowers of blood bloomed. Agony wracked his chest. But for that instant, Saber’s rigid body had loosened.
The enemy’s real intention was to-
Archer shoved Saber’s shoulder. His exhausted body was struck and staggered several steps backward.
Together with the ever-reliable servant who put an end to the movement. The enemy was slain.
Streaks of magical bullets cut through the wind. From the roof of Fuyuki Port Side Building, consecrated 12.7mm x 99 ammunition flew. Packed with enormous amounts of A-rank magical energy, they tore through Archer’s chest.
The heartless attack that would have partially torn through Saber as well released the last remaining reins of consciousness in the Bowman, and stripped away the fighting strength from his body. Falling backwards, Archer missed his footing on the arch of the great bridge and he plunged, head over heels, into the dark Mion River below.
From atop the arch, Saber stared at the dark water’s surface far below. What had that Servant done just now?
With a heartbreaking face, bearing something painful. He had borne the full force of Invisible Air as if to say his own wounds were inconsequential, and pushed Saber away.
◆ ◆ ◆
To protect her, perhaps.
She would not die. Even for her Master, Saber’s death would be a pointless detriment. The strategy of relying on Saber’s astonishing healing ability was typical of the callous nature of her Master. Her Master used her as means to an end.
Even so, she had not been discontent in accepting the tactics. The full extent of battle ability available had secured her passage to the bridge. That it had stretched out this long was her own mistake. She had given her assent to wound them. In order to reliably defeat the few remaining Servants.
The latter half of the Holy Grail War. Abandoning mutual consensus thus far, the two had acted independently, concealed themselves, harassed by the forms of hidden enemies, unable to hide their impatience. Their methods were different, but they shared a common goal. A quick conclusion to the war. And then victory. For that reason, she had even thrown away her own pride. Saber accepted even her master’s cold tactics, and resolved for form a united front. In order to win.
Saber would not die with this strategy. That Servant should have understood that much. So why, then, had he saved her?
The eyes that had looked upon her. A grievous expression. It reminded her of the faces of the knights she had left behind. The loyal and beloved Knights of her Round Table. Sir Bediver, Sir Lucan.
Why did that Servant make her feel that way?
She shook her head. Disregarding your own self to save others. And risking your own life for the sake of the enemy. There was no meaning in a battle like that. There was no meaning in that method. Live, live, live on and on. If you couldn’t grant your desire, there was no point.
She turned. To face the next battle. But as she began to walk, the Bowman’s painful expression lingered in her mind.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 35.
The outstretched hand has no words; nonetheless, something remains between the two. In the midst of battle, what was it that he further desired? That existence-