Recoil (I)

She stood in front of the pulsating mass of corrupted energy, her back turned to me. I knew what was going to happen. It was inevitable. It was the only way to finally put an end to it all.

I wanted to stop her, to pull her back and hold her against me one more time. I wanted her to stay even if it meant sacrificing everything else. I wanted to save her more than I wanted to save anybody else.

I wanted to take her burdens away from her, both the present and the past ones, but I knew I couldn't. Not because it was beyond my abilities, but because it was not my right.

She wanted to bear them. It was her pride as a King. The one thing that made her shine in my eyes more than anyone else. It was the reason why I loved her. It was the reason why we couldn't be together.

I loved her and I had to let her go.

"Shirou. Use the Command Seal. Give the order."

There was no hesitation in her words. She didn't waver. That's who she was. All I could do was match her resolve with my own.

"Saber, destroy the Grail."

I spoke with an even voice, channeling my intent through the sword-shaped seal on my hand.

She swung her blade one last time, filling the sky with holy light. When it faded, the Grail was no more and she too would soon follow.

'I can't save her,' that's what I thought at the time.

It wasn't the first time I was forced to acknowledge that I couldn't save someone. It also never stopped me from trying anyway.

She turned to me, hairs fluttering in the wind. She had never been as beautiful as of that moment, with sun rising behind her, encasing her in a golden halo.

She was smiling softly. There was no bitterness in her expression. There were no regrets.

Her soft lips parted to form words of farewell, but I wouldn't allow her to speak them. To hear them was the same as accepting it was over. I would not have that.

"Shirou, I lo-"

"I'll find you," I said in place of what the words I had longed to hear. A promise, just as impossible as the others I had made in my life. "Even if I have to keep searching forever."

The dawn became too bright for me to see anything and by the time my eyes adjusted, she was gone.

Yet, I was still able to hear her last words.

"Then, I'll wait for you eternally."

Emiya Shirou woke up groggily for the first time in a long while. Dreaming of memories wasn't unusual for him, but since he arrived at the Hinata-sou it had become a far more frequent thing. He didn't hate it, per se, but dreaming of swords didn't weigh as much on his mind.

He yawned into his hand and stretched his limbs before getting out of his futon. The sun was peeking above the horizon, promising another hot summer day.

The other tenants were likely still sleeping soundly, with the notable exception of the only sword-maiden on site.

He threw on his workout clothes and went out for a run. The crisp morning air was relaxing and helped him clear his head a little bit.

Saber. Not a single day passed without thinking of her. Not a single day went by without renewing his promise to her in his mind.

'I'll find you.'

'Then, I'll wait for you eternally.'

He wouldn't forget it, but not forgetting and accomplishing it were, as usual, two separate things.

It wasn't even that he didn't know where she was, although 'where' was perhaps the wrong term for it.

What he lacked was a precise understanding of how to get 'there', though the concept could be boiled down in simpler terms as walking down the same path to get to the same place.

Then again, it wasn't like he wasn't going to do it anyway, yet it couldn't be taken as granted.

There had to be some degree of separation between 'a path' and 'the path', otherwise it would lose its value and it would become hollow. Another dead end among dead ends.

See, this was why he'd rather dream of swords. The twisted lucubration of a Magus was taxing enough on the waking mind without them taking undue tolls on his sleep as well.

At least, he had other things to focus on; other promises he had to fulfill, the recipient of which was waiting at the top of the stone stairs when he came back from his run.

"Sensei," Motoko greeted, dressed in her usual hakama.

"Good morning, Motoko. Are you ready to begin?"

She gave a firm nod of barely contained excitement. Motoko had been looking forward to her training for a week now, but Shirou had also other duties to attend and preparations to make.

"Fine, let's get started then."

"Shouldn't we eat something first? Training on an empty stomach is…"

"I wouldn't recommend eating before training for the first few days. You aren't conditioned yet."

Motoko bristled, remnants of her old misplaced pride roaring their ugly head, though it's to be noted that she held her tongue.

She was plenty conditioned, in her opinion, and she was correct. Shirou too knew that her body was in prime conditions, though he wouldn't voice that thought aloud even in clinical terms. There was no point in testing Motoko's new thresholds needlessly.

The conditioning she needed, in any case, was psychological. A few days of practice with him would do the trick. Still it was evident she didn't agree with his estimate of her resilience.

"Let me get my things. We'll begin in a minute."

She would soon come to agree with him.

"Blarghh," Motoko doubled over, falling to her hands and knees, head swirling madly. Her stomach was fortunately empty so the only thing that escaped her lips was a mouthful of gastric fluids.

Okay, she admitted with a small part of her pain-addled mind, perhaps there had been some merit to his earlier advice. Speaking of which, she had underestimated his promise to make her training infernal. She had never been in so much physical pain all at once in her life before. Thirty minutes into it and she could no longer move a single muscle. Breathing was as much as she could manage. Could this even be called training?

"You are probably wondering if something like this can really be considered training," the demon her sensei said from somewhere beyond the fog of pain.

"Ghgh," was Motoko elaborate response.

"You are plenty strong already, Motoko," he continued. "You have been refining your skills for a solid decade, there's not much more polishing we can do about that. Certainly, nothing that would give you the upper hand on your sister three years from now."

"Gh," she agreed.

"What you need is experience against stronger opponents. When it comes down to it, live or die situations are the best way to become stronger in a short span of time, supposing you survive the experience, that is. Since we can't risk your life we must then settle for the next best thing: a most painful experience.


"From now on I'm going to come at you at a level that's always a bit beyond your current ability," he continued. "If by the end of our session you have failed to land a single blow on me, I'll stop holding back entirely and that's the result you can expect. Any question?"


"Well then," he clapped his hands. "That will be all for now. We'll try again this evening."


"Surely you don't expect a deadly situation to present itself only when you are at your best, Motoko? Surpass yourself or suffer the consequences. Take your time now, I'm going to get started on breakfast."

"Mgh!" she agreed, then promptly passed out.

"Motoko! What the hell happened to you?" Naru asked worriedly, standing up from the thermal water of the onsen where she was bathing with Kitsune, rushing to the side of a severely bruised Motoko, who was making her way toward them, hunched over and using her bokuto as a makeshift crutch.

"Training," the abused sword-maiden managed to utter.

"Training? Training? Motoko, you are a walking bruise."

Naru's description wasn't exaggerated. Motoko's body was black and blue in a lot of places. The only place that had been spared by damage was her face.

Motoko lowered her body into the water with a wince, but soon relaxed under the therapeutic effects.

"It was… more intense than I expected," she admitted painfully

"I'm going to have words with that guy," Naru promised.

"Please don't, Naru. I appreciate the concern, but this was my choice. It's more difficult than I first thought, but Sensei did promise that it would be an infernal experience."

"Still, I can't believe that Shirou would actually hit a woman," Kitsune observed. "I mean, he never actually hit you when you fought before, did he?"

"He was toying with me back then," Motoko moaned. "Knowing him now, I can't believe I picked a fight with him."

"Yeah," Kitsune chuckled, "talk about having a death wish. It makes me wonder, though."

"What does?" Shinobu asked.

"How did he became so strong? And more importantly why? He's not the kind of guy who goes out of his way to pick up a fight, so what reason did he have to become so insanely powerful?"

Motoko lifted an eyebrow at Kitsune, pondering her next few words.

"Because he wanted to help as many people as he could and he couldn't do it by being weak."

"And you know that, how?" Naru inquired.

"I asked him."

"And he answered?" Kitsune asked, clearly surprised. "Just like that?"

"It's incredible what you can find out of a person by simply asking a question, Mitsune. As opposed to trying to pry information illicitly."

"Hey," Kitsune bristled, "I know it was my idea, but you went along with it. Don't make it look like it's all my fault now that you are closer."

"I wasn't. Sorry, you're right. I was at fault as well."


"Calm down, both of you," Naru said, placatingly. "Nobody here except maybe Shinobu has been acting decently around Emiya. We don't really have any grounds for moral superiority, even among ourselves."

"Right," Kitsune agreed. "Looking back on it, we have been quite the bitches, haven't we?"

"Shameful." Motoko concurred with a stiff nod.

"I guess things could have been handled better," Naru agreed.

"Well then," her eyes gleamed playfully. "How about we do something about it?"

"I don't like the sound of that," Naru said, narrowing her eyes at Kitsune.

"Ah, don't be such a buzzkill all the time Naru," the resident fox chided, standing up from the water to leave the baths. "I promise no one will be permanently scarred."

"If that was supposed to make me relax it didn't work at all, Kitsune!" the brown-haired girl shrieked, but her longtime friend merely laughed at her plight.

For a while, everything had been fairly quiet over at the Hinata-sou. Shirou immersed himself in his studies with the help of Narusegawa-san and made great stride into recuperating the knowledge he had lost with his reckless use of Archer's arm.

Since Kyoto, things started to settle down, and Shirou found himself able to set up his own Workshop properly in a small, unused storage building in the thick forest behind the property. It took him several days of work to restore it to working condition and to set up a Boundary Field that would inform him of anyone trying to enter.

He didn't even consider erecting a protection that would keep people out forcibly, for he was not afraid of losing his research to hostile Magi or having Magecraft exposed to the residents of the inn. In the first place, his Magecraft was neither evident or replicable. After all, he could only make swords and deploy them via the unique quirks of his Reality Marble.

To an uninitiated, his workshop would only be an odd place filled with all manner of blades and ancient-looking books, neither or which would look strange any longer since it was known that he was into both history and swords, while an intruding Magus would be hard pressed making any use of the knowledge gathered there, if they would even entertain the notion that a first-generation Magus had any Mystery worth stealing.

The only reason why he put it up at all was to know in advance if someone approached while he was doing things that should not be witnessed. God knew he could not do hypnosis worth a dime, so he had to rely entirely on not being found out.

Now, if he could only come up with a sword that could sever specific memories he would be all set, but even the infinite expanse of Unlimited Blade Works did not have anything like that. Yet.

Which only meant that he knew what his next project would be.

With that in mind, he begun to work on the concept with naught a worry on his mind.

He was in the middle of writing down the first few notes when a thunderous crash came from the direction of the inn.

"What the hell? Is Suu playing with explosives again?" he wondered, as he stood up to investigate the source of the disturbance. It took a couple of minutes to make his way back to and around the inn.

When he arrived, much to his surprise there was a worn-out looking van half buried in the front of the building. How in hell did it even make it up the long flight of stairs from the streets below he couldn't begin to imagine. He momentarily worried for the passengers and his tenants but they were all standing right here, talking animatedly, except for a man in a white coat sitting on the ground nursing a bleeding nose courtesy no doubt of Narusegawa-san, who was being held back by Konno-san.

He was about to intervene before the situation could escalate further when the van's door slid open and a little blonde girl jumped out in defense of her father, screaming fearlessly in Narusegawa-san's face.

Shirou felt the blood turn to ice in his veins.

He would never mistake that child for anyone else. The man too was all too familiar now that he had gotten back on his feet and had removed his hand from his face.

The recognition was mutual, as the man looked at him once curiously and then his face went from surprise, to shock to unadulterated rage.

"You!" he shouted, hands balling into fists. His outburst drew the attention of everyone to him first and then to Shirou who had gone unnoticed until then.

Shirou watched helplessly as the expression on the child's face changed from livey to one of abject horror.

Because of that he almost missed the man sprinting toward him with his fist poised to strike at him. He was fast for an ordinary human, faster than Shirou recalled since last time they met.

Still, he could have dodged the coming blow easily, but he knew it wouldn't help anything in the long term.

The punch connected squarely with his jaw, but he stood his ground, rocking into place, eyes firmly locked with his assailant.

"Emiya Shirou," the man spat out like a curse.

"Noriyasu Seta," the redhead replied evenly. "It's been a while."

"If I could have gone my whole life without seeing you again it would have been still too soon, thief. What have you come to take this time? Another woman's life? Another child's mother?"

"Seta," Haruka shouted, bewildered at this turn of events. "What's gotten into you? What are you talking about?"

"You don't know?" Seta asked back. "Of course you don't. He would never tell you. He's the guy, Haruka. The man who killed Julia right in front of Sarah's eyes."

Thus, the quiet days at the Hinata-sou had come to an abrupt end.

Motoko's day had started in a most painful manner at the hands of a very demanding teacher. Honestly, she was not looking forward to three years of that training, but she had given her word and she would abide by it.

The rest of the day promised to be utterly unremarkable at least until the second training session of that day, later that evening, but it all came down crashing on her. Literally at that.

She was quietly sitting at the kitchen table, eating a late breakfast now that she was sure she wouldn't just vomit it right out, when a van came bursting through the wall. Thanks to her quick reflexes she had been able to jump out of the way and avoid being hit by the wooden debris.

How could anyone drive a vehicle of that size over the hundreds of stone steps and then crash the damn thing into a wall? Shouldn't that be physically impossible?

"Uhh, sorry about that," a man mumbled from inside the van. The door opened and a shaggy looking figure came out.

He was tall, but not overly so, with short black hair. He wore a white, slightly dirty lab coat and on his nose, were perched a pair of square glasses.

"Are you unhurt?" he asked as he approached.

Old instincts reared their head inside Motoko's chest, but she put them down quickly-

"I am unscathed. What about you?"

"Ah, thank goodness. I'm fine as well. Sorry about the damage."

Motoko was about to reply, when she heard footsteps approaching.

"What the hell happened?" Kitsune called out. "Huh? ... Seta?"

"Mitsune," the man dipped his head. "It's been a while. What are you doing here?"

"That would be my question," she replied, uncharacteristically cold.

"Actually, I came looking for Haruka. Is she around?"

"Is that so?" she snorted. "You should have crashed into the teahouse halfway up the stairs then."

"Is she running that place and the inn at the same time?" he asked. "She sure is a workaholic."

"First thing, this is no longer an inn. It's an all-female dorm. Secondly, she's not the manager here. Thirdly, get the damn car out of the wall already."

"Ah. Right. Sorry about that."

He was about to turn, when he froze mid-motion, eyes widening as she caught sight of the person coming up from behind Kitsune.

"... Naru?" he murmured.

"Seta... senpai?"

The two stood across each other in stunned silence. Then, Narusegawa blurred into motion. She was so fast that even it took even Motoko by surprise.

Seta didn't see it coming, though he certainly felt Narusegawa's fist connect with his jaw.

The man took flight and went crashing against and through the wooden wall next to his vehicle, making yet another hole in the already abused building.

He hit the ground and slid against the pavement from the sheer force of Naru's punch, stopping only when he found an obstacle in the legs of yet another figure.

Holding his face, he looked up at the new arrival.

"...Hello, Haruka-chan," he muttered through his hands.

"Seta. Up to no good as usual. I see you met Naru-chan already."

"Yeah," he agreed. "I guess I got that coming."

"You... you... you son of a bitch!" Naru raged as she came at him for an encore through the hole his body had made.

"Whoa. Chill out, Naru," Kitsune said as she came up behind her, grabbing a hold of her wrist to halt her advance.

"Let me go, Kitsune!"

In that moment, the back door of the van slid open and a small blonde figure jumped out.

"Hey! Stay away from my Papa!" the little girl shouted fearlessly in Naru's face.

The appearance of this figure seemed to surprise the raging woman enough to take a step back. Just as she was about to get her second wind they were all distracted by Seta.

"You!" he growled and they all turned to look in the direction he was looking.

Emiya Shirou stood there, eyes shifting from Seta to the little girl, who had gone from aggressive to completely silent and still as a block of ice. Her eyes were fixed on him and she was trembling in her shoes.

Because of that they nearly missed Seta getting back on his feet and making a dash for Shirou. They all saw the fist poised to strike. Seta was fast. Faster than even Motoko, much to her own shock.

She was even more shocked when Shirou did nothing to dodge or parry it the punch aimed at him. It connected with his face with a hard thud, but it did little more than rock him in place.

"Emiya Shirou!" Seta growled at him

"Noriyasu Seta. It's been a while."

"If I could have gone my whole life without seeing you again it would have been still too soon, thief. What have you come to take this time? Another woman's life? Another child's mother?"

"Seta," Haruka shouted, bewildered at this turn of events. "What's gotten into you? What are you talking about?"

"You don't know?" Seta asked back. "Of course you don't. He would never tell you. He's the guy, Haruka. The man who killed Julia right in front of Sarah's eyes."

They looked at each other and to the trembling girl, whose horrified eyes were frozen on Shirou like a deer in the headlights.

"What? No, that's not possible," Haruka protested weakly.

"What's he doing here, Haruka?" Seta asked, ignoring her protests.

"He... he's the dorm manager... and the landlord."

"You bastard, what have you come up with this time?"

"He's my nephew, Seta," Haruka stated, matter-of-factly, seemingly having regained her presence of mind.

"He's what? Your only nephew died years ago."

"He wasn't as dead as we thought he was. We just recently found out."

"Don't be fooled Haruka. This scum must have faked it," Seta protested.

"He faked a DNA test run by the Urashima Enterprises themselves?" she asked back and finally Seta had nothing to reply. "No, he's really Urashima Keitaro. We triple checked. However, Shirou, did you really kill this Sarah's mother?"

"That's impossible!" Shinobu who had joined the scene at some point protested. "Emiya-san would never-"

"It's true," he admitted, looking squarely into Haruka's eyes. "Without a doubt I am the one who killed that child's mother."

A chilling silence fell upon them.

"So I see," the older Urashima replied after some time. "Did she suffer?"

"... I made it as painless as I could under the circumstances."

Haruka nodded briskly and abruptly left the scene. Seta held his ground in front of Shirou for a moment longer, though he stole glances at the place Haruka had just vacated.

Finally, Seta took a step back and turned.

"This isn't the end of it. Mark my words," he promised, scooping Sarah into his arms and climbing into the van.

A moment later the engine turned on and the van reversed out of the building, making its way down the same stairs it had climbed up from.

Shirou let out a sigh once the noise from the van had disappeared completely.

He was left alone with his tenants, all of whom looked at him with different kind of expression on their faces, ranging from the doubtful to the fearful.

The only person that seemed unfazed by it all was Motoko, whose eyes held not judgement whatsoever.

"Right," he said after a while. "I'm going to fix that hole right away."

He left the scene at a slow pace. The day had definitely not turned out the way anyone had expected.

The following days were awkward, to say the least. His tenants avoided him like the plague, with the exception of Motoko, who showed up religiously for her training, and Shinobu who timidly hovered around him.

That didn't mean they just ignored him. Everywhere he went inside the inn, he felt himself observed, no doubt courtesy of Suu's many cameras.

He had found some scattered around the building. He knew perfectly well that asking her to stop would be pointless and simply opted to sweep his room periodically for bugs pf any sort.

Admittedly, he never found any so perhaps her surveillance did not extend to the private rooms or maybe she just knew better than to attempt it with him.

Of course, he knew it was only a matter of time before they gathered their courage and approached him about the exchange with Seta and the things he had said.

However, before they could do that, Haruka showed up with a sour-looking Seta in tow.

"Let's talk," she said. Her voice brooked no arguments.

"Right," he quickly agreed. "Konno-san, please call the rest of the tenants. I'd rather not have this conversation twice."

Mitsune's head came up from behind the sofa placed in the entrance. She looked nowhere near as guilty as she should have been.

Five minutes later they were all gathered around the table in the kitchen.

"So, what do you want to know?"

"I already asked Seta," Haruka started, "but how did the two of you met?"

"I believe it was in Tibet, about four years ago. I was leading an excavation team in the mountains."

"Weren't you just fresh out of high school at the time?" Mitsune asked, barging into the conversation. "What was a teenager doing leading a dig in Tibet?"

"Yes, tell us." Seta mumbled. "What was a teenager doing all the way in Tibet leading an illicit excavation in a historical site?"

"I don't recall it being illicit, Seta-san. In fact, all our paperwork was in perfect order."

"Your people were on the excavation site one week after the news of our expedition was out! There's no way you could have gotten permission that quickly without passing a bribe."

"Seta-san. Look at me in the eyes and tell me honestly that you never had to grease some wheels to speed up bureaucracy with the governments around the world."

Seta was conspicuously silent.

"That's what I thought."

"Nevertheless! Everything we dug out went to the museums of the countries we found them in. Nothing of what you found ever reached the public. You are a thief, that's what you are."

Shirou frowned. "Seeing how it were the same very local authorities that cleared me, your accusations are entirely baseless. If you have a problem with that, bring it up with the respective governments. I have no obligation to share your values about history."

"I can see why the two of you don't get along. Seta is very picky when it comes to archeology."

"That doesn't explain why they sent a teenager for that sort of job," Konno-san reminded, smirking at Shirou's annoyed expression.

"Because I'm very good at finding that sort of stuff."

"That sounds far-fetched," Narusegawa objected.

"No," Seta sighed. "Even I have to admit that he's telling the truth. Every single time he showed up around one of my dig sites, he took a stroll around the general area and when he pointed at some place to excavate he always came out with something good. He's got a good instinct, I'll give him that much."

Narusegawa scoffed at Seta explanation, but it might have been because there was evidently some bad blood between them.

Differently from what Seta thought, it wasn't precisely instinct that told Shirou were to look. Since the Grail War, he discovered he had sixth sense for feeling things that weren't outside of the natural order and ancient tombs usually had mystical protections around them that he could detect, even if they had waned with the passing of time.

"So, here's another talent that our landlord never told us about," Konno observed. "Shirou, Shirou, Shirou. You never cease to amaze, do you?"

"You are just easily impressed, Konno-san," he replied noncommittally.

"Then, what happened in South America?" Haruka got the conversation back on track.

"An outbreak of rabies in the middle of the Amazon rainforest killed an entire archeological team from the USA," Konno replied. Everyone turned to look at her. "What? It was easy to find out. You dropped enough names around to look it up on the internet. It took all of five minutes to find out. There was no mention of Shirou's name though."

"What happened, Shirou?" Haruka insisted and Shirou sighed.

"We set up camp not too far away from the one of McDougal-san, Sarah's mother. Unlike with Seta-san, our relationship was cordial enough. She seemed to take our presence on the same site as a challenge rather than an obstruction."

"Yes, she was that sort of person. Go on."

"There's nothing much to say. A few days after we arrived, some people started having crippling fever. I mean literally crippling. Some people died in the span of a few hours no matter what we did to help them. Those were the lucky ones."

"Why would you said that?" Shinobu asked, clearly horrified.

"Because those who survived the first few hours turned aggressive. Extremely aggressive. We lost more people to the violence of those who were sick than what we did to the illness itself. I had to put several people out of their misery that day."

"Couldn't... couldn't you have restrained them until help arrived?" the petite girl asked.

"We did manage to restrain them, eventually. They still died a few hours later when the fever became too much. They just... shut down."

No one said anything, so he just continued.

"I went to check how the other camp was doing and... it was even worse than ours. Almost everyone was infected. I met McDougal-san and her daughter on the way there. I guess she managed to get her daughter out of the camp even though she was sick herself . When I stumbled upon them, she had already lost her mind and she was attacking little Sarah. You can imagine the rest."

The room was silent for a long time.

"Still think your hate is well placed, Seta?" Haruka finally decided to ask.

"I didn't like him to begin with," he answered. "Being involved with that tragedy doesn't really make anything better, no matter what part he played. It's been almost two years and Sarah still can't sleep well at night, damn it."

Shirou had nothing to add. All of his apologies wouldn't take away the pain from that child's heart.

"It's fine for her to hate me if she wants. Just... don't let it consume her, please."

"I don't need you to tell me, jackass," Seta snarled. "Sarah is everything I have left of Julia. I won't fail her twice."

"Is there anything else you wished to know, Haruka-san?" Shirou asked.

"No. I have made my peace with her death already, but I'm glad to know what had happened in detail, even if it's horrible. All I had to go on before was what the local authorities said and it wasn't much. With this, I can really put it behind me."

"Were the two you close?" Shirou dared to ask.

Haruka nodded. "You couldn't find three people closer than we were."

"Again, I'm sorry about it."

"Don't be. You probably think I'm a bitch for saying this, but I'm glad it was you that did it."

"Haruka, why?" Seta asked, bewildered.

"Because I know this guy well enough. If there was a single thing he could have done to help Julia, he would have done it."

"Haven't you met him just a little while ago?"

"I did" she confirmed. "But ask these girls if they disagree with me. Anyone?" No one spoke. "There you go. I know you have had your... professional differences in the past, Seta, but please try to see beyond that."

"I don't have much choice if he's your nephew, have I? Though I warn you, Emiya. I'm keeping my eyes on you."

"I suppose I can't ask for more," Haruka sighed. "Please be patient with him Shirou. He's not as bad as he sounds."

"I never thought he was bad at all," Shirou confessed. "His dislike is entirely one-sided."

"You have some way of showing it," Seta contested. "Pillaging my sites."

"Just because I don't dislike you, it doesn't mean I have to do what you want."

"Yeah, about that," Kitsune intervened. "What did you do with those artifacts you found? Have you been collecting them in the attic?"

"Why would I do that? I sold them to private collectors."

"Sold them?" Sera jumped to his feet. "That stuff was priceless."

"I assure you, there were plenty of people willing to put a price on them."

"Were they worth a lot?" Kitsune asked Seta.

"Are you kidding? Just the things I know for sure he's got his hands on would have been worth a billion yen overall."

"What?" Konno's eyes widened tenfold their usual size.

"That doesn't make any sense," Narusegawa objected. "This guy is living and working here because he can't afford to live elsewhere..."

They all turned to look at him. Seta's mouth morphed into a grin. "Hoh! Something you like to confess, Emiya?"

"Not at all. I can't afford to live elsewhere in this city. I have already spent all of that money."

There was a moment of silence, then-


The Hinata-sou shook and Shirou plugged his ears. Thank goodness the inn was mostly wood, otherwise he'd have to check it for structural integrity.

"A billion yen?"

"You spent it all?"

"What could you have possibly have spent it for?"

Seta, Narusegawa and Konno asked at the same time. It doesn't matter who asked what.

"To be completely honest...," Shirou smiled suspensefully. "That's none of your business."

Of course, that caused another round of questions, but Shirou just smiled beatifically and excused himself saying he had things to do.

Later that evening, laying on his futon, Shirou contemplated the conversation earlier that day. Because Konno cited the headlines of the time, Shirou didn't have to lie about what happened in South America.

It hadn't been rabies or any other virus that killed all that people but rather an ancient curse. The one time Shirou didn't manage to find the location of the primary tomb first, the protections around it had still been strong.

And what a nasty curse it had been. Transmitted through the body fluids, it made the victims go insane and hungry for human flesh like zombies from a cheap movie. Those who weren't killed immediately went equally mad. Eventually they all died after a few hours. Too little time for Shirou to work out a solution with his meager Magecraft.

It just went to show how much he still had to learn.

Sighing he turned into his covers and closed his eyes. He had things to do in the morning.


AN: Don't look at me, I'm surprised as the rest of you people.

That being said... IT LIVEEEEEEEES!

You better fucking be ecstatic because this story is back on the update roster. Possibly on a regular schedule.

Also, should you be interested in helping a poor author down his luck, I put up a account on Pa treon

Pa treon [dotcom] / neoalfa

Help me dedicate more time to writing if you'd like. Thanks

Updated 06/20/2017 - Beta: Obiki Doragon