Chapter 107: Return Home
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On the return journey, Scathach didn't drive at full speed but smoothly traveled along the national highway at a suitable pace. This speed allowed her to experience the exhilaration of riding a motorcycle without hindering normal conversation due to intense airflow.
"Shinji, why did you say those things to Saber in the end? You're not the kind of person who meddles in others' affairs." The wind blew Scathach's red hair as she spoke, carrying her voice into Shinji's ears.
"Didn't I already say it? I'm a veteran 'king chef'—'chef' meaning a fan, somewhat similar to real-life idols but also different."
Having mutually explored each other's memories and lives, Shinji could freely engage in conversation with Scathach.
"The Fate series originated from the Fifth Holy Grail War, and Saber, or Artoria, was the first female protagonist. In my past life, she had always been immensely popular. Within our otaku community, there's a saying, '100,000 moon chefs, 1 million king chefs,' meaning there are 100,000 fans of Type-Moon and 1 million fans of King Arthur. Some zealous fans even shout out cheesy catchphrases like 'Wherever the edge of my king's sword points, there lies our hearts' true desire,' which gives you goosebumps."
"Are you saying you're one of those '1 million king chefs'?" Scathach's interest was no less than during the previous "feast of kings." Although this eternal queen had graduated from this world and could perceive causalities, she couldn't observe parallel worlds. Thus, Shinji's words brought her a long-lost sense of novelty.
"Of course." Shinji nodded vigorously, displaying an expression only understood by two-dimensional otaku. "I've been a veteran king chef for over ten years. Although I'm not as fanatical as some, I can't bear to see Saber persisting in that pitiful wish. My views have some similarities with Rider, but not in terms of the grand path of kings and heroes. We, the king chefs, simply hope that the girl named Artoria can find redemption. She has already dedicated her life to Britain and shouldn't continue doing so even after death—oh, she hasn't died yet, but if she truly obtains the Holy Grail and makes that wish, she will never find redemption or liberation."
Saber, the girl named Artoria, is a special existence in the current Holy Grail War, just like Scathach. Neither of them are Heroic Spirits, and their original bodies have not died. Scathach intervened in the Holy Grail summoning system in Fuyuki City with the help of the Second Magic, while Saber made a contract with the "Counter Force" before her death.
The Earth in the Type-Moon world is called the "Counter Force," which is a safety device created by collective unconsciousness with the purpose of "continuation." It is an invisible force that manifests as two types of vortexes.
The "Counter Force" is divided into two types: "Alaya," which aims for the continuation of humanity, and "Gaia," which aims for the continuation of the planet. When the main cause of possible destruction of "humanity" or the "planet" occurs, the "Counter Force" will eliminate that cause in various ways—one of which is dispatching enforcers belonging to the "Counter Force." The enforcers of Alaya are called "Guardians" and are mostly humans, while the ones on Gaia's side are referred to by an unknown name and are mostly non-human monsters.
The way Alaya recruits enforcers is unique. It grants individuals who sigh in helplessness before its power a "miracle" and temporarily places them on the throne of heroes. The price for this is that after death, their souls are bought, and they become false Heroic Spirits.
Before her death, Artoria lamented her powerlessness, her people, and her country, thus calling upon Alaya. Alaya froze Saber's time at the Hill of Camlann, allowing her to be summoned as a Heroic Spirit in various eras, though she is alive. She has pursued the Holy Grail countless times.
Once Artoria obtains the Holy Grail, and the contract is established, time, which had been frozen, will resume flowing, and Artoria will become a "Guardian" who continues to fight until humanity is completely extinct or until Alaya disappears.
It is too tragic for her to kill herself, become a king who dedicates herself to the people, and then become a slave of the "Counter Force," sacrificing herself even after death.
There was no need for Shinji to explain in detail. Scathach could also see Saber's uniqueness. Being a descendant of the Celts herself, she sighed and said, "Redemption and liberation... is she capable of attaining them?"
"Yes, only when the Holy Grail is within reach, and she denies it with her own will, can she break free from that tragic future," Shinji affirmed, arousing Scathach's curiosity once again.
"Is that how the story of Fate concludes?"
The exchange of dreams and memories was fleeting for both Shinji and Scathach. Neither of them could access all of each other's memories. Although Scathach learned some things about Type-Moon, they were fragmented pieces.
"Yes," Shinji replied.
"Why would you still do this, then?" Scathach asked with a meaningful tone.
Hearing the probing question from Scathach, Shinji chuckled.
"There are two reasons. First, the previous work is just work after all. It can be used as a reference, but not as an absolute standard. Even the highest-level clairvoyance can make mistakes, let alone work from a parallel world. For example, in the previous world, Type-Moon strongly advocated the pairing of you and Cu Chulainn, but in the memories I saw, I didn't sense any such feelings from you."
Scathach held the handlebars with one hand and ran her fingers through her hair with the other, unfazed by Shinji's probing.
Shinji wasn't disappointed and continued, "Second, the butterfly effect. By coming to this world, consciously or unconsciously, I will influence the world. From the moment I arrived, the future became uncertain. That's why I said those things to Saber. I'm afraid my arrival will affect her outcome, and I'm afraid I'll miss this opportunity for her redemption. I hope this answer satisfies you, Sensei."
"Your understanding and handling of memories are very accurate, so I'm not worried that you will make mistakes by relying too much on memories with unknown levels of authenticity. However..." Scathach's tone suddenly changed. "I'm not satisfied with your answer. Your affinity towards Saber—well, I'm not used to that term, let's say 'liking.' Your liking for Saber seems a bit too high. If Saber truly comes to terms with herself, do you plan to give her the Holy Grail and give her the chance to reject it and find redemption?"
Shinji was taken aback but quickly regained his smile. "How could that be? Putting aside the agreement with Lady Justeaze, I wouldn't give the Holy Grail to Saber just for you, Sensei. Rarely do fans of the 2D world like only one character. Although your 'appearance' was brief, your liking ranks higher than Saber in my heart. Not to mention that after three months of being together, I already see you as family. You know, ordinary people always have different levels of closeness and distance. I, being an ordinary person, feel close to you, while Saber can only be distant. Although it may be unfair to Saber to say such things, she should wait for the next opportunity to reject the Holy Grail. After all, I like you more, Sensei."
"You little brat!" Scathach laughed and scolded.
Shinji protested, "Come on, Sensei, other people calling me 'little' is one thing, but you calling me that too? I have the emotional maturity of an adult."
"Saber and Lancer are both little ones in my eyes. Are you older than them?"
"That's not what I meant, Sensei. You have attained eternity, so of course, you will forever be eighteen."
"Oh? I remember there were other expressions in your memories. Something like calling someone BBA. Can you explain what that means?"
"It doesn't mean anything. It's just that in the game, your character's card has the abbreviation BBA, which stands for Buster-Buster-Arts."
"Is that so? I have a feeling that it means—"
Shinji immediately interrupted, not giving Scathach a chance to continue speaking.
"That's how it is, it's just your illusion!"
"Oh, so it's just an illusion~ hehehehe."
"Yes, exactly, just an illusion, hahaha."
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