The fog was thick and the surrounding was deathly silent.

Shirou find himself in a dream-like shadow world, staring at a serene woman who was smiling at him like an elder sister.
Scathach, unlike before, didn't immediately attack him but stood before him with a smile on her face.

Could it be – some kind of conspiracy?

Shirou became alert.

“It seems you want me to stab you a few times,” Scathach said as she stood up.

“No no no.
I never said that.” Shirou quickly denied her statement.
Real life is already tough enough, let's not make things complicated in the dream.

He then had a realization, “Wait, do you have mind-reading abilities? Can you read my thoughts?”

“I don't have mind-reading abilities, it's just wisdom that comes with age,” Scathach said with a smile.

Shirou gave a weird expression, he thought to himself, “You live and learn.” He decided he wouldn't repeat the same mistake and make fun of her, a demi-servant wouldn't fall for the same trick twice.

Scathach walked over and ruffled Shirou's hair, “You did well today, for a mortal.” She said, “So let's save today's training for next time.”

Shirou was surprised, but then he smiled bitterly.
He realized that this woman who had invaded his dream could indeed see what was happening in the real world.

But –

“Please train me! I beg you!” Shirou earnestly pleaded.

“Oh? Not afraid of getting hurt this time?”

Shirou replied with a serious expression, “I used to think that with war approaching, training was just a waste of time and energy and had no meaning.
But after thinking about it, I realize that I am still too young.
If it weren't for my shisho's constant training, I might have died at Lancer's hands this time.”

Scathach smiled at Shirou and remarked, “You've matured a bit.”

Shirou's mouth twitched as he asked, “Was I that immature before?”

“Yes, you still behave like a child when you're around your mentor,” Scathach chuckled.

“If acting like a child can make my Shisho appear in the real world, I'd do it forever,” Shirou replied.

“That's not possible.
Your story must be written by your own hand,” Scathach said with a warm smile as she raised her spear.
“So Shirou, be ready to feel the sting of my spear once again.”

“I'd rather perish a few more times in my shisho's hands than meet my demise in reality,” Shirou declared as he summoned his swords with a determined expression.

“Then you'd best be prepared,” Scathach chuckled as she swiftly pierced the vigilant Shirou with her spear.

After 37 deaths, Scathach halted her attack.

“Have I reached my limit, shisho?” Shirou lay on the ground, struggling to catch his breath.

“Yes,” Scathach put down her spear and smiled as she replied.

With great effort, Shirou sat up and looked at Scathach with a serious expression, “Scathach-nee, since you have the ability to see the outside world, do you know why some servants refer to me as a 'traitor' and then claim it's a misunderstanding?”

“Don't you already have the answer within your own heart?” Scathach laughed, piercing through Shirou's words.
Shirou felt slightly embarrassed, after all, this ancient being who has lived for countless years is not someone that a young man like him can deceive with rhetoric.

Shirou laughed awkwardly.
He retracts his previous statement, in front of such an elder sister, it's best not to think at all.
The amount of knowledge and experience she has accumulated is far greater than what he could acquire in a lifetime.

“Is it the 'wisdom of mortals'?” Shirou tentatively asked.

“Perhaps,” Scathach smiled gracefully, without revealing any flaw in her expression.

“Shisho,” Shirou sighed, “Can't you just tell me directly?”

“You're acting like a child again,” Scathach smiled gently, shaking her head.
“Even if you behave this way, it's not possible for me to give you all the answers.
I've completed my journey in this world, but you're still in the midst of yours.
This is your own tale, and giving away all its secrets too easily would diminish the value of the journey you must undertake.”

“I have no objections to leading a mundane life.
My only aspiration is to attain wealth, to indulge in reading novels, and to voice my frustration with the weakness of the protagonists in those books.
I don't want to be a character in a tale, with no assurance from the author that I won't meet an unfortunate end before the story concludes.”

“No, even if the story doesn't end, there are still characters who are arranged to die by the author in the middle of the story.”

Shirou is distressed.

“The outcome of the play remains a mystery until it reaches its conclusion,” Scathach said, patting Shirou's head gently.
Despite her reputation as a warrior, her touch was surprisingly gentle.
“And once you're on stage, there's no turning back,” she added.

Shirou, a mere child, found himself caught in the crossfire of a conflict between two powerful Masters.
One was a magus-killer who acted in the name of justice, while the other was a magus from the Clock Tower.
Despite Artoria and Diarmuid's moral convictions to cease fighting once Shirou revealed his true identity, these two Masters would likely use their Command Seals to compel them to kill Shirou.

Emiya Kiritsugu, despite his feelings, would not hesitate to shoot Shirou, even if it caused him great pain and mental anguish.
Similarly, upon discovering that Shirou is just a child, the magus Kayneth would not be content with simply eliminating one servant prematurely, but would instead take pleasure in retrieving his corpse.

Shirou, with his unique ability to fuse with a servant's Saint Graph, is considered a valuable research specimen by many.
As a first-class lecturer in the Clock Tower, the allure of his existence is highly tempting to Kayneth!

“Your face is scrunched up again,” Scathach noted, lowering her gaze to look at Shirou with a pair of crimson eyes.
“Okay, as your mentor, I'll give you one more piece of advice,”

“What advice?” Shirou asked, his eyes lighting up with interest.

“If you ever reach a point where you feel like you can no longer go on, head to the Greater Grail,” Scathach advised.

Shirou furrowed his brow in confusion, “What's the purpose of going there?”

“Why, to come to my kingdom, of course,” Scathach replied with a graceful smile.
“As your mentor, I will be better equipped to keep you safe.”

Shirou: “…”

Shirou felt his heart growing heavy.
The older sister's heart was already black, and he feared that continuing the conversation would cause him to have a heart attack.

With a sad expression, Shirou tried to pull himself out of the dream, but as he turned to leave, his gaze fell upon the girl sitting on the other side of the sea of flowers.
He couldn't bring himself to leave without expressing how he truly felt.
Summoning all his courage, he looked at her with a serious expression and said, “Scathach-nee, in this lifetime, you are the number one in my heart.”

After saying that, Shirou fled the Land of Dreams.

“The number one in your heart?…
That won't do, Shirou.
As your mentor, I am thoroughly a flawed person.
If I were truly the number one in your world, then no one would be able to kill me.
I eagerly await it, Shirou, for you to be the one to end my life.” Scathach spoke with a harmonious blend of sisterly warmth and the melancholic tone of a woman.
She was filled with remorse and longing for her own demise.

As the dream came to an end, the day began to brighten.
Though the first night of the Holy Grail War had passed, there were still six more nights to endure.
The endless, long nights were filled with death, looming closer with each passing moment.

Shirou felt a sense of determination as he clenched his fist, “I have to do something!”.

He understood that with just his basic skills, he would not survive the Holy Grail War, the previous night's battle had made that clear.
He needed to take action.

Shirou knew that his face-to-face battles with the righteous Servants could only be won by gambling on his life.
However, he couldn't help but wonder how long he could keep this up.
Even if he managed to avoid all the battles and win the gamble, he would still have to face the strongest Servant to determine the winner.
This thought filled him with dread, it was not a favorable outcome.
Definitely not good!

Shirou knew that with his weak attribute, continuing down this path would ultimately lead to his death.
He had to take action and change the course of the situation in a way that would benefit him.
He had to find a way to gain the upper hand and steer it in his favor!

Shirou got out of bed and looked at the sun that was slowly rising on the horizon, he tightened his small fist and said to himself, “The night may be their battlefield, but the dawn belongs to me!” He was determined to use his advantage of being able to move in the day to his advantage and make it his home field.

With this declaration, Shirou left the abandoned factory with a straight face.

Shirou knew that Scathach had already given him enough help, whether it was training him or reminding him to avoid explosions.
He couldn't keep relying on her help and if he continued to demand it, it could lead to her abandoning him.

Though Scathach didn't show it, anyone with knowledge of social interaction knew that constantly demanding was a sure way to ruin a friendship.
Moreover, he and Scathach had only interacted for a few days, and their relationship was not yet solidified.
So in the end, the only person he could truly rely on was himself.

Shirou let out a sigh.
That's just how reality is, mountains will collapse, and people will leave.

Characters in books who are always loyal and remain friends no matter what are a fantasy.
In reality, all living beings are equal and everyone will eventually meet their end, no one is privileged by the world.
Ultimately, Shirou must rely solely on himself, his own abilities and his intellect to endure in this conflict.
He must have faith in his own skills and be self-sufficient in order to survive.

However, Scathach had also told him something before, “This is your era, your city,” This statement gave Shirou hope and made him think about how to deal with this war, where all his opponents were mythological killers. 

In this war, his edge was not his physical power, expertise in magecraft, or even the modern firearms wielded by Kiritsugu.
It was his mind, shaped by modern knowledge as a typical modern individual.
So, when confronted with dangers he can't combat, what would a typical modern person do?

A simple solution.

— Call the police!

As he walked towards the police headquarters in Fuyuki City, he unexpectedly ran into two people he never wanted to encounter.

“Guinevere! You…you're Guinevere, right?” The blonde girl in the black suit resembling a knight abruptly grasped Shirou's shoulder.
Her bright blue eyes mirrored Shirou's face.

Shirou's heart skipped a beat.
The girl standing before him was none other than Artoria, the one who had vowed to end his life with her sword the previous night!

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