Garden 2

As the pure bright light faded, I saw Olga Marie being pulled into the molten red sphere everyone was calling Chaldeas.  Screaming, crying, scared, frightened, pleading, alone, I can’t help her, I can’t save her.

I shout her name, reaching for her despite knowing I can’t do a thing.  I can’t do a thing. I can’t help her.

She disappeared into the sphere like she’d never existed, leaving nothing behind.

Why does Lev find that amusing?  Why would that make him happy? Flauros?  I believe it, that he’s a demon. Even if he’s a human, he’s still a demon inside.  Disgusting, disturbing, revolting. Shaking, shattering, the earth is coming apart. Rocks are falling, here, there, everywhere and Medusa.  What are you? Why would you push me…

The sharp fragment of the cave ceiling the size of a small boulder struck her right in the torso, right in the back, smashing and pressing her down.  Oh, no, no, no, no, Medusa, why did you do that? Don’t die, please don’t die, I don’t want anyone to die, why are people dying, don’t disappear, we just became friends, why?

Rocks, gravel, falling stone and clouds of dust as the floor fragments.  Damn it, Romani, what is keeping you, we’re going to die, die, die like Medusa.  Everything is breaking, shattering coming to pieces, the cauldron… is breaking. The tower at the center of the putrid pile of ooze in the cauldron shakes rattles and breaks.  The bits of solidified wrongness fall in tidal waves and the muck rages against the confining stone, shattering, breaking, coming undone in a flood of noxious poison.

Weightless, carried over the red burnt shoulder of Archer, Mash hurrying to stay ahead of the tide.  Broken boulders for footholds, scurrying, climbing, I’m a sack of rice on the shoulder weighing everyone down.  Useless, useless, incapable; can’t help, can’t run; noxious, nauseous, nasty sickness lifting from the molten muck as it crashes against the stone wall Archer and Mash desperately cling to, shield and sword used as petons.

Can’t climb further, the cave slopes to cascading ruin; can’t go down, liquid death churns and boils begging for bones.

The rocks cease to exist.

The putrid muck ceases to exist.

The air ceases to exist.

Can’t breathe, can’t move, there’s nothing here like the blank face of an egg.  Too bright, can’t see. My eyes… why am I not closing my eyes? Why am I looking out, why am I trying to see what is beyond the cracked shell of the egg of existence.  That, in the distance… it’s… why can I recognize it as pure Truth-

My mind goes blank from horrific recognition as everything goes white and my senses tell me I’m no longer in a sea of nothing while my mind remains trapped in that-

Pure bright light faded I saw Olga Marie being pulled into the molten red sphere everyone was calling Chaldeas.  Screaming, crying, scared, frightened, pleading, alone, I can’t help her, I can’t-

“Oh, knock it off already!”

Who are you?

“Oh, just a voyeur.  And I really don’t like what I’m looking at here.”

Neither do I.

“Then why are you playing it back on an infinite loop?  Seriously, are you trying to traumatize yourself?”

I can’t help it, I can’t think of anything else but that.  It’s in my head and wrapping around my spine until it shatters.

“See, that’s what being too serious does to you.”

Serious like a heart attack, serious like death, like that light, the light, the Truth.  Why is it, how is it, I don’t wanna know the Truth-

“Then you should just forget it.”

Forget what?

“Much better.”

Why do I feel like I’ve just lost something I never wanted in the first place?

“Better not to dwell on it.  Now, come over here and sit down.”

Where did this curved couch come from?

“From your subconscious, kid.  That’s one wacky manga I pulled it from.  Aliens in the Meiji era, huh? Would have made it a lot more interesting, that’s for sure.  Oh, fill up my drink, darling.”

Fujino-sensei…?

“Also from your subconscious.  Primary school, right? I have to say, she’s a real looker.  It’s unfortunate she got married halfway through your school year.  I’d have been happier not knowing the real version was happily married.  Whelp, that’s what dreams are for, after all. Haha!”

This… is a dream?  My dream?

“Sure is.  Take a load off and relax.  You’ve at least earned a good rest after the day you’ve had.”

Oh, thank you.  Oh, a glass of- thanks for the offer but I’m underaged.

“What’s it matter in a dream?”

Same as it matters in the real world.

“Fine, I’ll leave the corruption of youth for another time.  Pour him some soda?”

Medusa!?  Why!? Why are you here, why are you pouring a drink for me?

“Don’t start panicking, kid, or you’ll start having that shitty dream again.  Honestly, you’re the only channel that’s playing right now and I’d rather it not be a documentary.”

Oh, sorry.  Wait- what?

“As for the girl, she’s also right out of your subconscious.  Honestly, I’d rather she was the one serving drinks for me, but it’s pretty obvious she prefers you.”

No, I mean, I’m grateful, Medusa.  Of course I am… but you’re dead.

“She’s alive in your heart, though.”

Is it really that simple?

“Here it is.  So drink up, chat up the girl, and enjoy yourself.  Having fun is proof that you’re alive, after all.”

…I can’t.  It feels wrong.

“Oh?  Why? The reason Medusa’s model in your mind is so detailed is because you took such an interest in her proportions.  I believe she’s rated as being ‘Supermodel Quality’ by your brain.”

That’s not the problem.

“Then what is?”

Medusa… died because of me.

“She died over two thousand years ago.  I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for you to have played a part in that.”

You know what I mean.  She pushed me out of the way of those rocks.  She died in my place, she died because of me.

“And because of her sacrifice, you survived.”

That doesn’t make it any better.

“Yes, it does.”

How?

“Because this time, Medusa didn’t die for nothing.  She was able to sacrifice herself to keep someone she cared about safe.”

She… cared?

“Of course she did.  I don’t completely understand the whole ‘attachment’ thing that humans have, but she definitely had some of that going on there.”

You’re sure…?

“Mmm?  Why would you be doubting her, after all, she was your friend, right?”

…I was also her Master.  Medusa… said it herself, she didn’t know how to have a friend.  Everyone was drilling it into me, I had to stay alive, if I died the Servants would die because they lost my mana supply.  Did she die because she wanted me to live, or did Medusa die to carry out her duty…?

“This is why kids are just so-  Look kid, whether you died or she saved you at the cost of her own life, Medusa was going to die one way or the other.”

Ugggh…

“So then, why the bloody hell would she choose to keep you alive at the cost of her life?  The answer’s simple. Because she wanted you to keep living, even if she couldn’t. A person, even a Servant, won’t do that for a person they don’t like.  A sense of duty only goes so far. I’ve watched a lot of Holy Grail Wars in the world, and a situation where either the Master or the Servant dies is not that uncommon.  And you know what? Most of the time the Servants just let their Masters die, and then went off looking for another way to win the Holy Grail War. Some of them even succeeded, but a lot of them just didn’t like the idea of experiencing a painful, pointless death that gets them no benefit.  So. What does that tell you about the motivations of Servants?”

…?

“It tells you that they move according to what is more important to them, just like regular humans do.  Is victory more important? Is avoiding a painful death more important? Or, is preserving the life of a partner that has become more important to them than anything else what they want the most, even at the expense of their own lives?  Medusa obviously thought your safety was far more important than her own life.”

“You’re a stubborn one.  Just like that girl… Look, if you won’t listen to me, then listen to her.”

To… Medusa?  But, she’s just an image from my-

“She’s the pure form of everything you know about her.  Even I can’t tamper with that. So, just ask her. You know what her answer will be, but your denial and self-pity are getting in the way.  Just cut through all that horse crap and ask the girl. How does she feel about it all.”

Medusa… why did you save me?  Why did you sacrifice yourself for me?

Isn’t that a strange question, Fujimaru-sama?

I wanted you to be safe, even if it took my life.

After all, you’re the first human friend I’ve ever had.

Me…dusa..uuuu…uuuuuuuu

“Finally.  I thought you’d never let out the grief.  It’s poison for the mind to keep it bottled up like that.  Hey, Medusa, go ahead and hug the guy until he calms down. No man feels bad being hugged by a beauty while he’s crying.  …Why are you looking at me like that? You seemed flattered when it was the kid’s brain that was complimenting you. …Women and their double standards.  Anyway, let it all out, and then we can drink until you wake up. Even I need the occasional drinking buddy you know. Just top me off there, Fujino-sense~i.”

 

Chapter 1-25 | Chapter 1-26

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