Chapter 50: Archer's Debts


It was an eternity since the last time a gazed upon her face up close.

With locked blades, I'm reminded once again why I never forgot and as our blades depart she steadies her sword above her with the backdrop of the night sky. What was supposed to be beacon was now seamless with the pitch black sky, but this incongruity was why I was certain what I had to do.

Spirit and technique, flawless and firm

The sword crashes down without mercy, but the married blades in my hand converge to protect me. If that precious memory within me had remained untainted and my mind had continued to wander, I would have been cut down, but now my hands were working to deny what was in front of me even as they screamed at me from the stress. My fingers were numb, but I'm able to steel myself.

*I am the bone of my sword*

The Holy sword that had once protected me in those hazy distant days was mercilessly crashing down like a hammer, but it only hones my resolve.

*Steel is my body and fire is my blood*

New swords form in my hands to intercept that very sword. Our eyes met and I could see the wrongness in them; what was once as green as a pasture under the sun was a sickly yellow. The locks that once exuded warmth were as pale as dead straw. The literal knight in shining armour I once admired was no longer shining. I step back and I throw my trusted blades forward in a beautiful arc at the knight in front of me.

Saber was out for my blood as she erases the distance between us as a new pair forms in my hands.

Our strength rips the mountains

*clang* *clang*

A Saber I didn't recognize; a Saber my heart could not acknowledge, but it seems my young heart was selfish like that. From the bottom of my heart I hoped for a miracle to meet her once again, but there were no true miracles in the world I lived in; that was what I learned when I became an adult. Everything had a price and few ever had the means to pay for what was truly important. Maybe that was why I wasn't able to save her back then, but I knew it was nothing more than youthful arrogance to even have such a thought. She was surrounded by knights greater than what I ever was and a fake cannot compare, but right now we were standing on the same stage. Those on the Throne of Heroes are immutable and I am no exception; a guardian of the scales I will always be as I endlessly cut down those whom I wanted to save. I will always curse my own foolishness, but more than anything else I hated to see the same foolishness in others; the woman in front of me and the girl behind me as I cast my cracked swords away before forging them anew.

Our swords split the water

*clang* *clang* *shatter*

"Ex—"

The reformed Kanshou and Bakuya appear in my hands; the married swords had carried me through many battles. Compared to Excalibur, they were nothing special, but they were strong swords; strong enough to trade blows with fae metal without breaking immediately. They had no legend of being wielded, but they weren't mere ornamental pieces and neither was the girl behind me who bore the mantle of "Emiya".

*I have created over a thousand blades*

"Hrunting," the overcharged blood hound the girl releases takes away Saber's attention from my swords for just a moment.

The girl behind me did not run; she chose to stand on this battlefield so I had no choice but to stand in front of her. The battlefield was no place for children, but war makes no distinction and weapons care not who wields them. Miyu was supposed to escape with Rin on the Pegasus and keep up the chase until Vimana was dealt with. The Einzbern maids were to serve as speed bumps as dictated by the calculus. The card which contained my powers was supposed to be nothing more than a glorified telescope to check the aftermath, but she was very much an Emiya smelt from the same fire. In this world Emiya Shirou had become Emiya Kiritsugu to someone else and passed on the debt; was that idiot honestly happy with that?

I wasn't.

*Unknown to Death,
Nor known to Life.*

*swish**Btoom*

Saber bisects the red hound midflight, but not before it explodes violently. A new pair of swords forms in my hands. To the Saber right now, they wouldn't even qualify as proper Noble Phantasms, but they could still draw blood especially that of a king and I had plenty as 4 more return from all directions.

Our names reach the imperial villa

The Saber in my memories would have been able to appreciate such swords, but the Saber in front of me could only see them objectively inferior to hers regardless of the number. Despite that difference in make and my own talent, my blades were keeping up with hers as I had an eternity of cleaning humanity's messes. The four swords converge onto Saber's neck. Calling upon them was nothing more than breathing and they weren't my only ally.

The two of us cannot hold the heavens together.

"Caladbolg!" invokes the girl behind me. The spiral sword narrowly brushes my armpit, but Saber's sword was ready and waiting as she redirects it off course into the forest behind her as the twin pairs of married blades bury themselves into her defenceless body.

*squelch*

This was the sure kill technique I had played around with for an eternity had failed. They miss her neck, but that was expected of my luck, but the shifting winds brushing against me say it wasn't luck. The misplaced arrow escapes my vision with a torrent as it uproots scores of trees that once reached for the skies as the soil drinks Saber's blood. Saber should have been killed in that blow, but the trajectory was off; Saber has already seen through the Triple Crane Wings. Just as I wasn't a swordsman, she wasn't a simple knight. As long as my swords had to cut through the air, they could not escape the influence of the wind king.

"—burst."

Before the swords detonate, they are ejected from her wounds as the winds gather around her body reducing the drag of friction. The married blades are blown off course at the very last moment by the winds Saber commanded and if I charged forward as I had practiced many times in my mind's eye, she would have skewered me. Even if it did not end her, my "sure kill" technique was able to draw her blood; I had to settle for that. The dust obscures the battlefield, but Saber was still being straight forward. Minor wounds would heal in an instant.

She charges in a straight line because in a contest of endurance, it could only end in my defeat.

*clang* *shatter*

Bakuya breaks, but my weapons were many.

"Install: Rider," the child behind me announces as Saber closes her eyes; bracing herself for the petrifying gaze.

Saber knew not to underestimate those rainbow eyes because she had faced the real thing, throughout this fight she had not lost focus on the child behind me. Fight blind or face petrifaction, but the wind continues to whisper to her as a substitute for sight. The power of Triple Crane Wings over someone like Saber was all down to surprise as it wasn't something a swordsman could perform; a technique unique to Emiya Shirou's way of being, but a fake can hardly be called unique. Saber had seen through my inescapable technique courtesy of her bout with the child behind me and she knew to call on the winds beforehand, but that was why that very same child could not allow herself to run away.

*Have withstood pain to create many weapons*

That was why I couldn't run away either; I had to use everything.

"Harpe."

The crescent blade entangles with Saber's; the weapon that killed the monster Medusa. Up until know, I had danced with her using married blades and had managed to lull her into a rhythm. Longer than my trusted weapons, I manage to mark Saber's face with a wound that could not heal even with her powers.

The face I would never forget, I seal it away alongside those of my parents. To move forward meant casting things away, but I was a fool that couldn't throw anything away. Even if I deny them, even if I avert my gaze, they will always be there.

*Yet, those hands will never hold anything*

*swish*

My right arm suffers a deep gash and Saber's blade is entangled in Rider's chains; I was never fighting alone. The jewelled sword in Rin's hands provided plenty of material to work with. I needed two swords in hand to keep up with hers so this was the end of the line; I had nothing line Avalon to keep me in the fight.

*shatter*

Harpe shatters and Saber doesn't hesitate to press her advantage as Rider's chains grow tighter. A lion will not let go once it bites the neck and she recognizes the magical energy taking shape to replace it wasn't on the same level as anything before, but I leave my fate into the hands of the child.

*shing* *clang*

Nail for blade and blade for nail. Having fought alongside Saber, having fought against Saber and having fought as Saber, there was no one in this world right now that knew Saber's sword better. The child no longer needed small tricks to keep up. Talent recognizes talent; Saber wouldn't have let any ordinary child fight alongside her with a sword in hand against Heracles of all people if she didn't recognize her ability. The Once and Future King knew better than anyone else not to underestimate someone just because they were a little girl.

I was honestly a little jealous.

The gem sword gave Rin ample reserves to access my toolbox; even the most expensive of tools were available right now. I cannot let Saber be the one to command the winds. My left hand was Kanshou and I reinforce my right to the limit to grasp the hilt of the...

"Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi."

Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds.

The gentle zephyr passing through the forest becomes a violent gale as the misshapen katana takes shape in my hands. Compared to the real thing or even a certain blacksmith's rendition; it was still an effigy of a divine construct. Even with a fraction of that power, a being that is not a god will surely die wielding such a thing, but I didn't need to swing it; I throw it down in front of me as a gamble as I dig my knees into the ground.

*So as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works.*


Lands of shifting sands and steel spreads across the horizon as the violent winds banish the night sky alongside the once shining knight.

I reach out my good hand and grasp the gorgon's chains before the child is banished as well. Her feet land on the sand next to me.

"As long as we stand in the eye of the storm, the blades will not harm us" and everything else will cut to pieces.

"Almace, Ama-no-Habakiri, Ame-no-Ohabari, Arondight, Ascalon, Asi, ...Balisarda, Blutgang...Chandrahrasa, Cheng Ying, Chrysaor, Chun Jun, Claíomh Solais, Clarent, Coreiseuse, Cruaidín Catutchenn,... Dáinsleif, Doujikiri Yasutsna, Durandal,... Galatine, Gong Bu,... Harpe,... Kogitsunemaru, ...Ridill, ...Tai A, Tyrfing, ...Zulfiqar..."

"Ex—"

"Rho Aius!" the child invokes a second faster wreathed in my reds.

"Burst—"

"—Calibur!"

I brace my ears as the world is destroyed around us, but I cannot avert my eyes as the shield above us cracks and the petals are scattered one by one. The force of this entire world of blades was bearing down upon us alongside the greatest Holy Sword. Blood violently spurts from the child before me and I can hear her screams, but the resolve in those crimson eyes were not something to be pitied. Before the final petal is shattered...

"Rho Aius!" I call upon the shield from the storm.

I take over and my body is systematically dismantled as the petals scatter. My right arm was useless and my left was getting there. I could no longer stand and what was left of my existence was leaking away, but before I disappear with the final petal, the child invokes once again as she keeps up with me.

"Rho Aius!" a new flower appears to replace my own.

The child was bleeding from her eye sockets, but she was standing tall bathed in Avalon's light; a light that no longer belonged to Saber. This world ends, but we survive.


"Hah...hah."

A scattered forest is all around us.

"It's our win, Saber," the child announces with Harpe in hand while bleeding all over.

In the distance was Saber, or what was left of her. Her back was against the ground and her gaze towards the night sky. No arms and no legs, her body was crimson all over, but she was still in this world. The injured child saunters forward clinging onto life thanks to Avalon's grace and she'll lose it the instant Saber disappears from this world.

"Miyu!" I call her name.

If Saber is slain right now, there is no question that child will die. I myself was on the verge of death and I knew the limitations of the shield of Ajax, but that child who wasn't even a Servant had called upon it twice. I put power in my legs.

Once she stood above Saber, she thrusts the sword down, but I wasn't late.

There was no blood because Saber didn't bleed as she sinks into the ground. It seems we weren't saying good bye this soon again. I put power into my broken legs and reinforce them to the limit. I grab the child by the collar before she is dragged into the abyss of Imaginary Numbers alongside Saber. It seems Sakura had caught up and witnessed the last few seconds of this exchange. She had taken Saber and left, but I couldn't read her next move.

If my assessment of Sakura is correct, Saber will probably be punished, but Illya and Berserker aren't some pushovers that mere humans can handle alone.

Nothing in Unlimited Blade Works, Broken Phantasm or not can pierce Berserker. A Broken Phantasm from Gate of Babylon possibly, but Berserker wasn't alone.

I had faith in the little devil called Illya; I still remember the terror she caused me in my own Holy Grail War.


I carry the child who could no longer walk.

"I can walk," she says.

"Shut up."

Up ahead was the desolate ruin where Rin had set up a small workshop. The building was very much a corpse desecrated by the forest. I didn't want to explain to Rin why I knew of such a place secluded in the Einzbern Forest. It seems my mind was still filled with Saber. I didn't know if I was proud or ashamed that I recalled this place, but I was still a man.

The first floor was covered in trees, but the second was intact. This was probably Einzbern property or a forward base set up by a magus in a previous war. It was still night outside and inside; Rin was there to greet me sitting on the bed that was there for some reason.

She didn't look too happy.

"Emiya," is the name she calls as she stares.

"Lay her down onto the bed; I need to check for her injuries," Rin commands and I comply.

"I'm fine. You do know what my side job is? I'm confident I know the human body let alone my own," the child protests.

"An ordinary human body perhaps my dear back alley doctor, but an ordinary human would have been dead by now after pulling the stunt you did," Rin scolds her as she holds her face down.

Rolling up the shirt, black blotches dotted the child's small back; internal bleeding was obvious. The vaunted sheathe could mend the vessels that had burst, but the blood remained. It would dissipate with time without a scar to show, but Rin wasn't having any of that.

"It is only because of King Arthur's scabbard that was implanted inside you that you are still alive and if you had killed Saber, you would have lost its protection! You're as bad as that Einzbern brat! Didn't your brother raise you correctly?" as Rin lays down the truth the child may have been ignorant of.

The child had taken the scolding without a word up until now, but the mention of her family lit something in her.

"He did. He raised me as best as he could even though it was hard for him. Whether it was by his will or by my wish that is the truth," the girl confesses; possibly a bit angry.

"Then why?" Rin asks, but it was a rhetorical question.

"I like to believe I know how this world works, but as more time passes, I know that there are many things I don't know. About magi, about this world, about other people, but because of him I at least know myself. I know the things I don't want to lose and I have been lying to myself for not knowing what I want. I knew what I wanted from the start. I wished for him to be my brother and I wish for the things he wished for me to have; to be happy, but I can't possibly be happy with people dying in front of me," the child continues.

The Rho Aius I gambled on was not enough to protect us; I had underestimated the extra output from Saber's Excalibur. Projecting her own to support me was the correct decision that ended up with no lives lost, but that answer wasn't good enough.

"Then, why were you so eager to end Saber's life when you know it could be the end of your own?" I ask.

The child turns her gaze towards me with resolute red eyes.

"This is the world he wished for me to be happy in and I can't be happy if I'm dead, so I won't die. As long as I'm not dead, I have to protect the world he gave me and Saber doesn't belong to this world," she says to me without stuttering.

"Neither do me or your brother. Maybe you're correct. Heroic Spirits don't belong to this world, but it wasn't like you felt nothing when Rider passed. Do you honestly think you're immortal?"

The girl's logic was sound except her view on her own mortality. The protections she lived with must have warped her common sense. The lives that had formed the core of Servants had already passed if they existed at all and they don't belong to this world; that is precisely why they need Masters to serve as anchors. The needs of the living outweigh the dead, but what the dead believed in wasn't worthless; I walked the path I did so it wouldn't be. Maybe it was simple survivor's guilt, or maybe it was something more.

"Maybe, but don't talk like you're my brother," Miyu says to me.

Before I was summoned, I had no recollection of this child, but I felt I knew this child as well as I knew myself. I tower over her.

"You might think of this as unfair, but it is the duty of adults to scold children and your brother isn't here to fulfill that duty so we will. Be prepared because you aren't the only one we need to scold."

"Why? That doesn't make any sense," she says.

"Who knows, maybe whatever wish craft induced disease Emiya Shirou has happens to be contagious."

I had once believed that Emiya Shirou was the only problem, but that was my own arrogance. I always had debts to pay.

"With his hair down, don't you think my Archer resembles him a bit?" Rin adds.

What?