Together with House-Husband, Part 3, Chapter 4 – The Moment Of Divinity Achieved Through One’s Self
Together with House-Husband, Part 3, Chapter 3 – A Mighty Opponent
Together with House-Husband, Part 3, Chapter 2 – At The End Of Fate
A hard sound rang out as iron boots struck the floor. Perhaps the time was ripe, or perhaps her doubts had disappeared. The sleeping lion at last took the first step.
Tohsaka Tokiomi, watching over the enemy master and servant, awakened the Mystic Code he had let slumber and prepared his counterattack.
Generations of Tohsaka family heads before him had amassed vertiable arsenals of numerous magical artifacts over the course of time. Yet, even while all those treasures protected him, the enormous pressure in front of him made his very bones shake.
“…So this is Servant Saber.”
His view of the enemy from a distance had been gravely mistaken. From her eyes, she gave forth the unmistakable bearing of a ruler- The dignity of a mighty lion, the undisputed king of all beasts.
Facing her allowed him to understand the difference in their power, and he altered his previous assumptions of her abilities.
Could a human really ever defeat such a thing?
Archer spoke from behind him. Tokiomi turned his head, his shoulders trembling.
“…Hm… I’m being made light of… It seems.”
“I’d be more surprised if it could just end with you being insulted in front of pressure like that.”
The force was more than enough to overwhelm a human being. Women and Children might die just from her glare.
“Servants are for other Servants. I’ll take over. In exchange… I want you to protect those two.”
Tokiomi caught his breath at Archer’s words.
“…You can’t be planning on challenging them alone, can you? What about the “Magus Killer”?”
Tokiomi turned a grave eye towards Kiritsugu. The Magus Killer… to them the name was a mark of shame, the black mark given to a murderer of his fellow magi, destined to be feared and despised.
Frowning slightly, Archer directed a glance at Kiritsugu below him.
Both of Kiritsugu’s arms that should have been cut off by Archer. Yet by means he did not yet know, they appeared to be reconnected to his body. Fortunately, Kiritsugu’s face lacked the luster and vitality that indicated a complete recovery.
Emiya Kiritsugu was a sorcerer devoted to killing his opponents without considering his own life. Living as he did, it would mean numerous close calls with death itself. Not being attacked would be a rarity unto itself.
Thus, there was only one reason Archer could consider. The treatment of Kiritsugu’s arms was not yet complete.
“He might not be able to attack right now. That doesn’t mean he’s powerless, though. That’s why I want you to protect those two.”
Tohsaka Tokiomi. Only a short time had passed since they had met, but he appeared to be the type who placed more value in intelligence and hard facts over flashes of insight.
His abilities, his compatibility with Saber, what would happen after this… many thoughts hurdled through his mind. After a moment’s hesitation, he raised his head and peered at Archer. There was no longer any indecision in Tokiomi’s eyes, both for this situation, and for what was to come as well.
He was resolved that he would simply have to believe in Archer.
“Alright. Make sure you win, Archer. You have to protect your promise with my daughters.”
He fell back, and crouched down in front of the two children. Tokiomi began to speak about something. Archer smiled wryly once to the side at Rin, so meek in front of her father, and leapt down from the roof of the bridge.
The air changed. The wind onboard that had quieted slightly became hard and cold at the presence of the two heroes.
His overcoat flapping in the powerful wind, Archer stood with white and black in his hand, the two swords, Kanshou and Bakuya.
“Kanshou, Bakuya… We’ve been truly blessed. Blessed by the best pair of masters we could ever have asked for.”
“Let’s make their wish come true… show me your strength… one more time.”
The sword blades quietly reflected the red light and stood still. He was always pushing them, but they were comrades to the end. That was why he could trust them. If he was with them, he could do it.
“Seems I’ve kept you waiting, Saber.”
Her eyes narrowed slightly, and she glared at Archer. The imposing figure holding the golden sword seemed somehow less motivated than before.
“Is it alright for you to show that corpse of yours to those children?”
What came from her mouth was a voice of astonishing bitterness. Archer’s eyes grew wide, and smiled bitterly with an expression of chagrin.
“…Heh. That’s an odd thing to say, King of Knights. You had legions of soldiers, knights who followed you into battle. Did any of them go to battle assuming they would lose?”
“They… had faith. They believed. They had absolute trust in your victory. That’s exactly why they could fight. Am I wrong?”
Saber stood dumbfounded for a moment at Archer’s words. But she closed her mouth and grinded her teeth, and strongly shook her head. Just like she was trying to deny something.
The face that was raised had no trace of doubt or unrest on it. A firm countenance. Beautiful, but terrifying blue eyes stared at Archer unblinkingly.
“I don’t understand… You have feelings of belief as well.”
“Yes, I do. I have a firm belief. That’s why my victory is certain.”
“Fine. Then words are unnecessary.”
Saber readied her golden blade. The sword of certain victory that had torn so many hopes and dreams to pieces. Pressing the iron conviction that only grew by accepting that weight, she readied her blade.
“Whichever of us whose feelings, whose beliefs are lacking… shall be brought to their knees.”
Archer brought up his two swords to confront her. He placed the path he had believed in and his emotions on the dual blades and took up his stance.
Rising heat between them. The frozen air. Time seemed to repeat itself, replaying their earlier confrontation.
They exchanged glances of certain death, the very embodiment of their fates.
Onboard the ship adrift on the Mion within the dead of night, stood two figures of Red and Blue, heroes at fate’s end, once more embroiled in battle.
Together With House Husband, Part 3, Chapter 2.
The two heroes clash as a result of wishes and desires they cannot surrender.
They take up the sword to protect that which they prize and love more than anything.
Standing at the end of fate, what awaits them?
Together with House-Husband, Part 3, Chapter 1 – Where the wind doth blow
On the side of the road, in the trees, on top of the iron bridge. Everywhere, their repulsive bodies were squirming.
Midway along the Mion River, bugs hidden in thickets on the river side sensed a howl that rocked the earth and trembled. Devoid of eyes or ears, the insects relied solely on their mouths to perceive the figure.
In the middle of the river, an enormous swarm of shadow advanced, blanketing the water like an oil spill. One by one, the shadows, as large as two houses combined, formed a herd and proceeded down the Mion.
The shadow’s structure was beautiful in how it was ordered, depending on how one would see it. Though rather than a herd, it was better to call it a battalion, having organized itself into groups to subjugate this strange land, much like the ancient legions of old.
Yes, just as if the shadow was proceeding forthwith to wage war, it rallied itself and pushed on down the river.
With a light bump, an insect landed on the body. Several streaks of arrows flew from the flock of shadows, one piercing the insect deep within it’s body.
As if nothing had occurred, the shadow continued to advance. It’s target the lower reaches of the Mion, Fuyuki Bridge.
The shadow’s objective was obvious. It had challenged the king in battle, and would crush the foolish knight into pieces-
“I’ll get going, then.”
He gave Rin and Sakura’s heads a gentle brush. Standing in wait for him on the sun deck were Saber and Kiritsugu. He would defeat them, and withdraw from this place.
They tried their best in front of Archer, but Rin and Sakura could not hide their fear of the two enemies waiting in the wings.
This was a full-blown battle between sorcerers. An inhuman battle that employed the highest class of Ghost Liners. No matter how they struggled, it was murder, a battlefield of death. It was natural that they were frightened.
“Are you afraid?”
“…Yeah… A-, aren’t you… Scared?”
“Oooh… I-, it’s…”
“…It’s alright. It’s alright to be frightened.”
Their eyes went wide, and they stared at Archer’s face.
“Magicians and Servants alike are both frightening beings. There’s no difference there. They kill and are killed, their lives ruled by battle.”
“B… But, we still like you, Archer!”
“O-, okay, enough. I understand, to don’t say it over and over. Honestly…”
Archer made a slightly embarrassed smile. He narrowed his eyes and looked into the faces of his kind masters.
“But I want you two to understand. I want you to understand that that’s what the world of a mage is like. No matter how pure your motivation, it boils down to that. Yet, that resolve, the ability to trample over someone else’s wishes, someone else’s life, cannot be gained in a day.”
“You can’t become someone like that, able to consider such things so easily.”
“And that’s why. On the long road that starts from here, in case you find the path you have to take, or the course you should pursue, you have to develop the necessary feelings within your hearts.”
“For your future, for that which you wish to become, you should give nothing but your all. I’ll protect you for the sake of that future, so it’s alright if you’re frightened now.
After he spoke, the two frowned. Even if he told them it was alright, they did not want to worry him. Archer heaved a sigh and lightly poked their foreheads.
“But you know, being scared all the time isn’t good for you. That’s why I’m going to teach you a secret to conquering your fear right away.”
“I-, is there one?”
“It’s easy. Just think about really tasty food.”
“Let’s say for… tomorrow! I’ll make anything you two want.”
“Huh? R-, really!?”
“Yes, anything. Start thinking.”
The two flashed their smiles. Originally it had been a method of calming a pouting lion, but it seemed quite effective on children as well. Archer made a satisfied smile as he looked at the now recovered Rin and Sakura and then stood.
“I go forth now. Forth to protect these smiles.”
The knight in red once more took up his sword. Not for just himself, but for those important to him, and to keep on illuminating the path before him.
“I’ll be back, my Masters.”
“…Okay! See you later!”
“…Good luck, Archer-san!”
Cheers of unmatchable trust at his back, Archer strode forth to the battlefield.
Together With House Husband, Part 3, Chapter 1.
The knight sets forth.
The dream was always testing the bearer. A hand continued to reach out form the bottom of the darkness.
But he wavered no longer. No matter how strong the wind, he would protect others. He would stride forward, strength in his heart.
So go. Go to protect the tomorrow of those precious to you.
Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 51 – Together with Archer the House Husband: The End.
As if they might never part from the feeling of the warm, reliable, wide breast they now clung to, the two children grasped Archer tightly.
Pondering whether good fortune had room for such a blessing, Archer clapped the two gently on the back repeatedly. As if to relieve them, and promise to defend them.
“Rin, Sakura. I made you worry.”
“Sniff, sniff… Stupid…!”
“Ah… And now.”
“Thank you, you two. You have my eternal gratitude.”
“…Eh heh heh… Us too… Thank you very much!”
“S-, stupid… We have to do everything! I’ve never heard of a princess going to get her knight! The Master has it hard when their Servant is so clumsy!”
Rin and Sakura spoke happily while wiping their tears.
“…Heh heh. Then how about I show you just what that clumsy Servant can do?”
He stood, and glanced at the rear bow. There stood Saber with her troubled expression, and Kiritsugu with his listless look. Archer glared towards both.
“Archer. Is your wound okay?”
Tohsaka Tokiomi merely stood there and asked the question with quiet eyes. It seemed he had finished without engaging in battle. Perhaps the opportunity to challenge them had slipped away, as there appeared to be no signs of movement from the other two.
“Not exactly. But I never thought those two would stay quiet and let us go. You seem quite capable, Tohsaka Tokiomi, but I must warn you, Saber is strong.”
“…Yes. At the beginning I may have made light of her, but I can’t contend with that. Handling that man, the Magus Killer, is the limit of what I can do.
“…But can you challenge Saber in that condition, Archer?”
Archer was at a loss for words. It would be enough it was merely a matter of vitality, but it would be naive to be reckless. Archer’s situation right now rendered him far inferior to Saber, and even under perfect conditions besting Saber at hand-to-hand combat was a nigh impossible task.
Just what could he do?
Their conversation reaching their ears, the two grasped the hem of his coat with worried expressions.
“…Can you win? Can you beat that pretty Servant?”
Rin asked him, her large eyes open and staring directly at him. With that childishness, it would be a trial passing through battlegrounds of life or death. To divert that suffering, if only a little, Archer made a smile devoid of his usual cynicism.
“…Of course. It’s not “can I win”, it’s “I will win”. Don’t you believe in your own Servant?”
“N-, no, that’s not it!”
Sakura spoke, and shifted her gaze to Archer’s destroyed left arm. In the corner of her eyes tears once again appeared.
“…You’re arm is so hurt… I-, I bet it was scary… I bet it hurt… Sniff…”
“Not at all. It’s not as bad as it looks, okay? It’s fine… Don’t worry.”
The two looked sadly into the face of Archer as he exaggerated.
“…No. It hurts being alone, so don’t just bear it! You can’t, so…”
“Sniff… It’s so painful being alone… We’re here if it hurts, so… Please… Rely on us more… Oooh…”
Tears rising to their large eyes, he spun his words to the best of his ability to reach their disturbed hearts. Archer had upset them. He smiled bitterly at the corners of his mouth and organized his words.
“…Honestly. Yes, of course it hurts. But… It can’t be healed easily.”
“Can’t heal it…? We can’t do it?”
“…It’s unsuitable for humans. So there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Ahhh… Archer-san… I… I…!”
“Oh, no… Don’t cry. It’s hardest for me when you cry. So… smile for me. Send me off with a smile. I’m a simple person. That’s all I need.”
Perhaps because they had put Archer on the spot, or because they were saddened that that was all they could do, Rin and Sakura’s eyes hung down sadly as they stared at Archer’s wound.
“We can do it.”
“We’re the only ones who can do it.”
They spoke, and stared at the back of their hands. They two exchanged glances.
“We’ve got it…!”
“Y-, yes! Let’s do it!”
As soon as they spoke, they took Archer’ s hand and closed their eyes. The symbol etched onto the back of their hands began to give off a dazzling, brilliant light.
“What? …It can’t be.”
“Anfang. Vertrag. Ein neuer nagel. Ein neues gesetz. Ein neues energie!”
The glowing command seals performed the sorcerers’ decree. A crystallization of great magic, a set of three command seals for controlling the Servant. That enormous power filled Archer’s body.
The enormous amount of magical energy pouring into him broke free of his capacity, the overflow covering his body. The parts he had lost were restored, and his wounded spiritual form was returned to normal.
The power diffused through his entire body, and his senses, abilities, and the entirety of the power he had possessed returned completely. Now, he could challenge even Saber.
The two small children squeezed his hand a little tighter, and looked at him.
“We’re kids, so… We’re not strong enough to support you, Archer-san…”
“Even though we’re mages, we’re inexperienced… There might be nothing we can do…”
“But, even so, we know. You’re a bully, and you have a bad mouth, but… You’re really kind. We know you love housework more than fighting!”
“You’re good at singing, and at washing and cooking too! You made us both so happy… We know that!”
“So… We believe in you. We believe in Archer-san more than anyone, so…! Even if you’re scary, and even if you’re a Servant. Archer-san is Archer-san. You’re kind, and reliable, and we believe in you because you’re our Archer-san…”
“So, as Masters… No, as a member of the Tohsaka family, as Tohsaka Rin… please. You have to win, Archer! Because…Because we’re all going to go home… Together!”
That. Just that. Such a warm, gentle command. If it was a wish like that, he would fulfill it, no matter what.
Archer wiped away their tears with his hand that had been warmed anew. Like they were ticklish, and happy, the two smiled bashfully.
That was what he had wanted. That was what he had wanted to protect. The dream he had believed he could protect with his hands, given form.
Yes… These hands, this power… was not to kill or hurt others. They were meant to protect- to protect the happiness of others.
As their servant… No… As the “House Husband” who protected their home and happiness, he would accept that power gladly.
“…Yes. I understand. We’ll go back home… With everyone!”
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 51.
Together with Archer the House Husband.
Now stand, for who you have to protect, for the place you must defend.
My rank is Archer, but my role is different.
It may be challenging, it may be difficult, but I am the firm, ever-present guardian of these two children and their future ever bright.
I am Archer, the House Husband.
The year I spent with you two was the answer I had so sought. I’ve returned to that place.
I’ll be your House Husband, ’till the very end!
Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 50: Together with Archer the House Husband: The Beginning.
His two masters clung firmly to him. In the gale, his arm, splintered with swords, gently embraced their backs in order to not injure them.
Holding the two, Archer leapt to the highest area of the bow, the end of the roof of the bridge.
“…You two… Why?”
“A-, Archer, I… Eek!?”
Rin saw Archer’s left arm, and her face trembled in surprise.
He nimbly lowered his frightened masters to the roof. In order to hide the atrocious wound from them, he would quickly leave. Then, on the overlooking side of the ship’s funnel. Saber and Kiritsugu had sensed that something was going on, and knew of his own condition. He couldn’t let them learn of his masters.
“We’re splitting up, you two.”
A moment’s silence. But the two showed no signs of moving, and what was returned was only the sensation of his cloak being pulled on.
He sent a fleeting glimpse to his feet. Even as it made their eyes cloud with tears, the two stared at him with all their might. Their eyes looked as if they were calling for something… Mourning for something…
“…No. We’re… Separating, you two.”
He wanted to leave, and most of all he did not want to meet those eyes filled with pain. Archer put his feelings into his words and spoke. But the two did not loosen their grip on his coat.
Nothing had changed. Archer knew better than anyone else that the two wouldn’t move at times like this, even with a lever. He was gradually becoming resigned to holding both of them and making a play at a hopeless escape, when-
The presence of someone right beside Archer appeared. When he quickly drew his sword to protect the two and looked back, there was a gentlemanly, good-looking man, his coat flapping.
“…Eh? Who are…”
“I will restrain that mage and his servant. More importantly- Servant Archer. There’s something you must accomplish.”
In a flash, the man in the coat slipped right by Archer’s side and stood on the edge of the roof to confront Saber and her Master.
That man was none other than Tohsaka Tokiomi himself.
He had entered Archer’s space and simply slipped through it, despite the fact Archer being vigilant. That was all he did… And that was why it was stunning. How much skill went into movement like that? It was no ordinary achievement. Tokiomi had not been exaggerating; he truly possessed the power to “restrain” Kiritsugu and Saber.
But even having caught a glimpse of Tokiomi’s strength, Archer could not move.
A dull pain assaulted his chest even more now. What would he have to face, and what must he do?
Two small hands grasped his own as those thoughts swam around in his mind.
He looked backwards over his shoulder timidly. Rin and Sakura had seized Archer’s hand. He could not escape. He was captured.
Resigned, he squatted down in front of them, watching their childish eyes cloud with tears, full of anxiety.
“…I made them cry again…”
There was so much he wanted to say. But… As long as he was the one who said it, it would only frighten them, no matter what he spoke.
The children seizing the grotesque hand frayed with swords just continued to stare at him without trying to speak, their eyes wet. Unaware of what he should do either, Archer simply stood at a loss.
His figure closely resembled his self when he had been summoned to this city.
“…Both of you…”
More than wielding a sword, or protecting others and being inured. He exhausted his courage and organized his words.
“I don’t approve of you walking around at night.”
He manufactured a smile with all of his ability. A smile so the two would not be afraid. However, the smile he created was closer to a frown, his mouth alone warping into an unusual shape, a clumsy expression that appeared angered or troubled.
Like the children on the battlefield frightened long ago by that smile, Rin and Sakura grew even more timid, and afraid.
“…What can I do…”
He was gradually running out of ideas. Trapped in a blind alley, the degree of Archer’s distress showed in his expression. Looking at Archer, making a face so troubled as to say he no longer knew what expression he had, Rin took one step forward and spoke.
Her two small hands hit both sides of Archer’s cheeks.
“Why would you smile when you scold someone? Of course that would be scary.”
She grasped his cheeks. Focusing, Rin pinched both of Archer’s cheeks with all her strength.
“—Wha!? S-, shtop it!”
“S- H- U- T- U- P!”
The sudden attack dealt more pointed damage to Archer than even a bullet, and his heart, hardened with fear and doubt, shattered and disappeared with that one move.
A smile spilled out from Sakura’s face. Rin stared at archer with a worried and angry face.
“…Why are you apologizing? The one who scared you was me.”
“…Ah…Oh… Yeah… It was scary…”
Of course. How could she not be scared? What Archer was doing was murder, plain and simple. What he had shown them was nothing more than that.
“…It was scary… It was. You were like a stranger… A scary person. You were scary, Archer… That’s why! …That’s why I just felt that… Just that…”
Rin spoke and hung her head. Her small hands gripped the middle of her blouse tightly. It was as if she was mustering her courage.
“I, I really… I really…!”
“I really, really… Like you, Archer…! I love you…! But still… Because I was scared, I buried it all… I-, I hurt you… I made you sad…! That’s, that’s why…”
“Archer, I’m sorry…!”
“It, it really was… Scary. I’ll never like people killing each other… I’ll always hate it…”
“But…! Even if I just feel like I don’t like it… I don’t want… To hurt the person I love! I don’t want to leave you alone, Archer! So I’ll take it out and face it! I have something much more dear, so I’ll bear it!”
Right before his eyes….
“And then, then, I’ll move forward! I’ll hold onto the hand of the person I like, and go forward!”
The young girl in front of him… There was no doubt- Tohsaka Rin was a child no longer.
Even though in truth, she hated hurting others. The magician dressed in red stored it deep in her heart, and kept on running forward, just as clumsily as she always had been.
And because of that imbalance, she blundered at the last possible moment.
That way of life, that kindness; how many times had it saved her?
The young girl known as Rin Tohsaka… had already become a splendid sorcerer.
“That’s, that’s why… Archer… Let’s be… Together… Sniff… Uwaaaaaah!”
Overflowing with emotion, Rin burst into tears.
“Ahh… Sniff… There there, Nee-san…”
“…Haaah… Honestly… You really slack off towards the end. …That’s why I can’t leave you alone.”
Archer’s hand, now unrecognizable, gently caressed the two’s backs.
It was monstrous hand. One that should have only been able to hurt others. But the children knew otherwise. They knew it had continued to protect them with a warmth far greater than any other.
Even a sword had a heart. Even a tool had emotions.
Even if he was born as a sword. The feelings he felt for others could not be fake.
“Ahh, sniff… Archeeeer!!!! You idiot! Stupid stupid stupid! I was lonely! Stupid!”
“Ohh… Archer-san… I was, worried…!”
Be he a blade, or a monster, it made no difference to the people he loved.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 50.
The answer lay inside. No matter what catastrophe may come, no matter what hardship may befall him, the days that passed could never be a lie.
A year of living… caring for others more than anyone else… That could not be a mistake.
Those feelings were stronger than any amount of fear or sadness. They were the feelings meant for the people they loved.
Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 49 – My Masters
Saber had shown Excalibur.
To confront Archer, the invisibility effect lent by the Barrier of the King of the Wind had been abandoned, the sword’s shroud judged meaningless. Freely exposing the strongest of weapons was proof that Saber was confronting Archer seriously.
By showing that sword, retreating and advancing were no longer permissible. Quite possibly the embodiment of her resolve, Saber’s consciousness focused on defeating Archer to that extent.
No hesitation, no sorrow; she would have to fairly and openly crush him straight on. The blade radiating golden light slowly leveled itself, aiming right for his eyes.
That stance possessed a firm, iron-clad resolve that seemed to convey the logic of those who preside over heaven and earth itself.
No faults, no gaps, no weaknesses. What a beautiful existence.
Archer trembled. He was driven into a corner, but towards the portent of death that loomed before his eyes, he felt strong longing and awe.
Such yearning that he could accept the being confronted with all her strength, enchanted as he was by her figure. That was an impossible wish, one dream. He would be satisfied even if he died.
“Heh heh… Sorry, Saber. I’ve regained all that i’ve lost… I’ve remembered it all… I understand the warmth of a smile… That’s why-”
He recalled their two smiles. Just from that, the power he thought was already exhausted sprung forth. He had something to protect. Tears that he wanted to turn to smiles.
In that dream of his, there was someone he wanted to save. That’s why he couldn’t lose.
Rin and Sakura. For their sake, for the sake of his two masters, he would not lose.
He gripped Bakuya. He confronted his despair. The first step he took would have to possess the greatest power, and thus he lowered and lowered his stance. He was just like a pouncing tiger.
The energy that was gathering appeared to be reaching it’s zenith. The rising pressure shook the air. The two heroes had to defeat one another, and with a shattering roar they exchanged glances.
In that moment, it was as if two mighty rivals clashed, locking swords against-
Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 48 – Desperation
He planned. It was four… no, two… steps until Saber’s blade reached him.
The moment he realized that, Archer kicked off the ground. The strengthening magic he had performed earlier was still in effect. With superhuman jumping strength, Archer would leap to the opposite side of Saber in one bound and retreat to the half-open door.
Two steps. That was certainly correct. Though that was with the exception of Saber charging up to the door on his side.
Bakuya was unusable, his right arm busy with transporting Kiritsugu’s arm at the moment. Then the command-
He felt the pressure as Saber neared. As Archer was constantly standing in front of a wall and fighting, thoughts of using the command seal to stop the enemy were not allowed for even a few seconds.
Invisible Air was brought to bear. Saber’s aim was what was held in Archer’s right hand- Kiritsugu’s arm… and the command seals.
Sparks flew, and the second joint of Archer’s hand now held a shallow cut. If he continued to rush forward like this, his body would be bisected
Throwing Kiritsugu’s arm in front of Saber, Archer leapt back. Seizing the arm in an instant, Saber lost the timing of her charge and stopped. Escaping through the still half opened door, Archer retreated to the fifth floor deck.
“Kiritsugu-! This means… You need to hurry… Your arm…! And… Just what is this ship…?”
“…I know… It’s off… -ber, What happened?”
“It’s done. A king will eventually… But, there’s no time… Kiritsugu… Treat… Wound. I’ll defeat… Archer.”
Archer could hear faint conversation from inside the ship. It appeared that Saber had decided to pursue him.
“Damn. What do I do now…?”
Nimbly hiding himself in the shadow of the ship’s funnel, Archer observed the ship’s bow. His magical ability and physical condition were even worse than the time at Fuyuki Bridge.
The King of Knights entered the scene. Leaping in from the prow of the ship, clad in silver, she appeared slightly exhausted. Nonetheless, gallantry and powerful magical energy radiated from her attire.
“Exhausted, huh? Maybe she got mixed up in a battle somewhere.”
Archer meditated. With his left hand destroyed, he couldn’t even shoot a bow. But challenging Saber to hand-to-hand combat in his current danger was also reckless. If it came to that, escape was his only alternative, but he wondered if he could retreat so easily. He had slipped through her fingers once. Saber took competition seriously, and she would not let him escape so simply. Based on experience, he couldn’t believe it would end safely if he showed his back to Saber.
“Break through the front. That’s all I can do.”
He would go through the front and open a means of escape. If it was inevitable, then there was doubt it being resolved.
His fortune had been severely made sport of in the previous battle. His sense were not split, but in this battle against the clever woman, he would just have to move effectively.
“…This is it, Saber.”
Prepared, Archer stepped out from the shadow of the funnel. He gazed up towards the enormous bridge that was nearing, and confronted Saber.
Gazing at the wounded and ragged Archer, Saber frowned slightly.
“…Servant Archer. I am unable to understand… What you intended with your actions the other day.”
Even while slight confusion appeared in her expression, the strength of the glint in her eyes glaring at Archer did not change. Was this trouble?
“…Heh. Well, it was just a whim. Let me ask you, O King of Blades, surely you don’t enjoy being struck by your allies?”
“…Nonsense. For some reason I can not understand, you appear to know my true nature. Then-“
A strong wind blew. A gale that resembling the portent of a hurricane. Archer braced his legs, and focused his eyes.
Of course, it was not a wind born of nature. Ghostly magic received from the Lady of the Lake: The Barrier of the Lord of the Wind.
It concealed the “sword” within, and the torrent of enormous magic it had been concealing up till now poured out into the physical world. The storm with Saber at its center soon settled, and in her hand appeared a golden sword.
“I have no intention to show mercy. Disappear along with the rust of my sword, Archer.”
A divine weapon forged in the heavens. Desired and sought by all, it stood as the mightiest illusion that tore all before it asunder.
“Excalibur, the Sword of Promised Victory.”
The phantasm of utmost beauty and radiance was now drawn before Archer’s eyes.
Exaclibur, the Sword of Promised Victory. The symbol of the King of Knights.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 48.
And thus was the Last Phantasm revealed.
The mightiest illusion is thrust at Archer. Can his dream surpass the phantasm that spares none?
Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 47 – Enemy.
Archer rushed towards Emiya Kiritsugu like a bolt of lightning. The gray figure before him could not completely control the recoil, even with sorcery, and he gasped from the powerful kick of the weapon. It lasted a moment- but for a battle between magicians, it was all that was necessary.
Power was based on action and reaction. The greater the power employed, the greater the recoil. This was basic science.
Innate Time Control captured the first move with its absolute speed, and slew the enemy with overwhelming power. That power would smash any shield, and therefore there was no avoiding the skill of the operator. In short, it was an arrow of certain death impossible to defend against or predict completely- a form of sorcery that surpassed human ability and approached the realm of the divine.
But that was why. In a human body, releasing power not meant for the human body to channel meant creating… A large break.
For a user of small arms wherein firing a second arrow was impossible, it was a fatal weak point. For a human body, mustering the overwhelming energy to destroy something on the level of a Ghost Liner* was impossible.
Archer and Kiritsugu were essentially one and the same. Their battle had always been based on strategy and tactics, and to win they could not expose their own bodies to the enemy. Something that used an arrow fought at the range of an arrow; it was natural. As both had chosen the bow to battle, regardless of the what weapons or offensive ability they possessed, in a close-range battle certain victory was impossible.
The Knight in Red had understood his opponent’s abilities and wagered everything to meet and surpass them. He bet it all on his sword, all to kill the ashen man he had confronted. That way was-
The light and darkness between the two diverged.
Blood gushed from both of Kiritsugu’s arms. The treasure sword Kanshou’s aim was true, and cut through both of the magician’s arms with a single stroke.
However, Archer himself having disable the enemy was all but dead as well. He had avoided a direct hit to his heart, but serious damaged tormented his spiritual body. The moment he hit the ground his stance collapsed, and his knees buckled and hit the ground.
“Ah, gah… Hah… Ah…”
The bullet fired with Innate Time Control had blown away a section of his lungs, and with every breath he took lumps of blood rose up his respiratory tract. The effect of the bullets, or the effect of the gun itself. The convergence of magical power was obstructed, and he was unable to heal the destroyed sections of his body. A direct hit would have meant the destruction of his very being, and just the bullets remaining inside him would have torn apart his body’s structure through spiritual damage. He had crossed a treacherous bridge.
Archer turned his head and looked at Kiritsugu. Perhaps because of the intense pain, he was striking his knees and emitting a low groan. He appeared to be stopping the flow of blood by using some kind of magic, but it wasn’t as if his arms would grow back. For a Emiya Kiritsugu, a user of small arms, the loss of both arms was one and the same as losing his ability to fight. No matter what spiritual healing he possessed, he was out of the Holy Grail War until its end.
Governing his staggering gait, Archer turned to investigate the arms that had been lopped off. A feeble hand gripping the pistol. He removed the weapon from the hand, took off the glove, and examined the back of the hand.
“Haa… Ahh… Here it is.”
On the back of Kiritsugu’s right hand was a stigmata he recognized. Saber’s command seal. With this, Saber would be rendered powerless as well. Archer took Kiritsugu’s arm, and made for the deck.
At his back, a low voice was squeezed out. More than hatred or agony, the emotion his tone of voice contained was that of an incomprehensible doubt towards his opponent. But for Archer, covered in wounds, even that dear voice would not stop him.
“…Answer me… Why didn’t you kill me? Even if I lose my command seal, and my arms… I will… Challenge you again.”
“…I have no intention of… Giving up on the Holy Grail…”
At those words, Archer stopped and turned his head. He stared motionlessly into the face of the adoptive father he had loved.
Deeply carved wrinkles in his brow. Sunken eye sockets full of weariness. A thin face, perhaps due to excessive stress. And… ashen eyes. Ashen gray eyes that held no hope.
Simply gazing upon his ashen figure, his very existence… caused Archer’s heart to ache with grief.
Words were useless. His feelings would never reach the ashen man. It was an answer he had no choice but to recognize.
But, even so-
“…An enemy, huh?”
Archer gathered the threads of his words.
“…From the very beginning… There’ve been no enemies here.”
He pressed his hand to his chest and closed his eyes. In his heart, a light glowed gently.
“The only one who should fight is me. I won’t hand over this wish to anyone. …That is my answer, Emiya Kiritsugu.”
He stared into those gray eyes. The gray of ash and the red of tempered steel exchanged glances in silence.
Two souls who had pursued the same dream. At the end of a desire to protect the smiles of others, they had finally arrived at the answer: The Holy Grail War.
If the result of that dream meant having to kill “something” in battle, then-
Should the enemy be killed? Should lives be taken? Just what should they oppose?
“…An enemy, huh. If that’s what it is… It’s a ruthless thing. The system you obtained, the system you tried to obtain a miracle with, is exactly what…”
A ceremony to open a “hole” to Akasha with the spirits of heroes, the Holy Grail War. To gather the magicians that would anchor the Heroic Spirits, a battle was held with the chalice of desire, the Holy Grail, as bait. Captivated by the allure, magicians assembled. They met, they struggled, they fought… and they killed.
He finally realized that day. That day when he had discovered the history of the Holy Grail War in a room of the Tohsaka mansion. The system of the Holy Grail War was inscribed in tomes within that room. A system of competition that consumed wishes, and lives.
That was why he fought.
Yes, that was-
A silent curtain fell between the two. The questions between them had been meaningless. Words that struck a mirror would merely bounce back.
Archer turned on his heel and moved towards the deck. There were no more words that needed to be said between them now. And then, the moment he took his second step forward.
A powerful chill ran up his back.
Fuyuki Bridge approached. Her back to the light leaking out the open door, the figure of the transcendent beauty stood.
It was the guardian of the ashen man, the King of Knights, Saber.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 47.
Just who is the enemy?
Someone who blocks the path one has chosen… If you call that obstacle an enemy, for those who protect the smiles of others, just what is it they should confront?
*Small note after the jump.