Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 43 – Ashen.
Late in the evening, not quite midnight.
Detecting a faintly resounding metallic sound, Archer awoke.
“…What is that?”
Archer raised his upper body from the bed. As the thick dust danced about, he first checked his own physical condition. Just as had occurred at noon, his inner magical energy had recovered far beyond what he expected. It was not a negative thing, but with the cause completely unknown, it felt unpleasant.
“It’s not that the mana in the air is dense. I couldn’t be a line from my own abilities, either.”
The last possibility… He was reminded of his master’s faces.
“It couldn’t be.”
There was no use in being annoyed about what he didn’t know. Archer suspended his thoughts. With his recovery at noon and now, a fair amount of magical energy had returned to his body. His situation was still unpredictable, but he appeared to be restored enough to complete normal projection and other acts of sorcery with no deficiencies. At the worst, it would set back his physical condition a little more.
Archer circulated one portion of the magical power that had been restored to him and closed up his wounds. Placing faith in the boy concerning the areas that had been faithfully treated, he “repaired” his crippled shoulder muscle, the torn muscles in his arm, and his broken fingers.
He felt the sensation of iron covering his skin. He sealed off the pain together with the wounds, and feeling returned to his arm. He rotated his newly-healed arm around once; it was stiff, but mostly free of pain. It would be enough to fight.
He once again dressed himself in the burial cloth that had function as a dressing for his wound, arose from the bed, and began investigating the situation.
The metallic sound he had heard was a very heavy, dim sound. First would have to come investigation as to the origin of the noise. His eyes accidentally wandered to a porthole. Archer was astonished at the scenery he viewed. The shore had become distant while he slept.
“…The ship’s moving?”
Right on the surface of the ocean far below, the bulbous bow cut through the water. The waves flowing behind evidence of its passage.
“Did the owner of the ship come back?”
If that was so, the long stay had been meaningless, but the ship was in the middle of the river. It was far too late to jump back to the wharf. Problems lay ahead as well. The ship was in no condition to leave Fuyuki Port and head out to sea today. Archer observed what lay ahead of the ship from the porthole.
“It’s… Fuyuki Bridge.”
Alight in the darkness, the red steel frame rose from the ground. The ship seemed to be slowly heading up the river.
After seeing the bridge, Archer decided to wait.
First would come plans for an escape- Immediate escape from the ship by leaping into the river was an option, but having fallen into the Mion River in the previous battle and having been buffeted by its rapids, Archer understood just how dangerous plunging into the river was. The Mion had several origins upstream and variations in its depth, including depths were the current was rapid. There was no need to hurry and expose himself to unnecessary danger. He would simply wait for the ship to near the bridge and leap to it at that moment.
His course clear, Archer took the projected short sword from under his pillow and held it close, and quickly began to prepare.
He could tell a door to one of the ship’s rooms had been opened outside. But he felt no indication of any presence within.
It was slightly unusual. The third floor deck, where Archer was, was basically the main area for guest rooms. The structure was designed similar to a hotel to have no hint of the employees who worked there, but even then… Too little had changed from before the ship had moved and after.
The decrepit ship he was aboard was a seventy-meter, mid-sized passenger boat. The larger a ship was, the more staff it required. Even more so with an old ship.
Yes, it was strange. There was no way the ship could function as a passenger boat. The exterior was damaged and worn out. The interior was ancient, and left unrepaired. In its deteriorated condition it would not have been unusual for it to docked.
“So why is the ship heading upstream… Where there aren’t any docks?”
Something was off. Archer proceeded to the second floor, the work deck where the employee rooms were located, and searched for any presences.
He found no trace of people, the same as before.
His anxiety was changing into conviction. Quickly, Archer headed towards the upper floors while moving in a way to kill his own presence. His target was the fifth floor, the bridge. Along the way he searched the fourth floor as well, but sensed nothing at all once again.
Archer’s expression grew serious.
The old ship’s existence was riddled with contradictions. First off, it was moving with an astonishingly small number of people, perhaps one or two. Something was making it possible to operate a medium-sized ship of this size with so few people. That in itself would require some kind of advanced technology. In addition, if it was such an advanced ship, why had it been left to rot without even bothering to dock it?
The old ship’s actions had many inconsistencies. It could not be heading to dock or moving to some other area. Instead, it was going upstream. A pier large enough to moor a ship this size in that direction did not exist. Moreover, why set sail this late at night? Just where was the ship headed?
His first impression when he saw the ship was that it had come here in order to sink. He wasn’t mistaken, but he wasn’t exactly right either.
The ship had come to Fuyuki City for battle.
Archer stood in front of the door to the bridge. On the way here, he had not detected a single living soul. Numerous conjectures came to his mind, but beyond had to be the truth.
Yes, this town was a battlefield now. The more elements that distinguished the irrational, the more the answers moved towards the unordinary. On the front, what was conjectured from the ordinary, no matter how unreasonable, could occur.
The ship that had been long abandoned… it’s very existence was the answer.
Reaching the bridge, Archer gripped the projected Kanshou and Bakuya. He killed his presence and honed his nerves. Inside was likely… a mage. Archer would disable him.
“…Here we go.”
He threw the door open with a breath and shot onto the bridge like a bullet. He looked around. The visual information he collected from the inside of the bridge was immediately analyzed.
The door he had rushed through was on the right interior portion of the bridge. The steering console was placed in the center of the bridge. In front of the console, taken by surprise but already reaching into the holster at his side, was a man in a coat.
The limbs that should have been rushing towards the mage froze.
The ashen figure before him, clad in a ragged coat. He had not forgotten, nor could he have ever. It was the man he loved.
It was the man whom Emiya Shirou had inherited his dream from, in a time now long past. The same man who had disappeared into nothingness.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 43.
Under an ashen sky, he was saved by someone. He was saved by a smiling person who looked truly happy.
The person who restored the warmth of family to one who had lost everything.
Under the light of a moonlit evening. The person he loved like a father, and the person to whom he made an eternal promise to.
An ashen figure empty far longer even than himself. The Magus Killer, Emiya Kiritsugu.