Scathach and Shirou reached the Ryuudou Temple.
As they approached the mountain temple, Shirou asked, “Is this the completely safe place shisho talked about? Is the floor tile here especially sturdy?”
Scathach shook her head.
“That's not it.
This isn't the time for jokes.
And you wouldn't joke at a time like this anyway.”
“A great hero lives in my heart, and I won't be easily swayed anymore.”
She was taken aback as she turned to look at Shirou, staring at his plain and youthful face and the eyes that seemed to blaze with dazzling light.
She gazed at those eyes, dazed.
She had never seen such a beautiful and warm flame, an indescribable flame.
Finally, she could only say, “Your eyes…
they're truly beautiful.”
“My eyes have always been the same.
Your eyes are the real beauty,” Shirou said with a smile.
Scathach thought to herself.
She was well aware of her own distortion and corruption, so how could she talk about beauty? And…
“Don't call me Shisho anymore.
I don't deserve it, and I'm not worthy of it,”
Shirou's bright eyes were filled with confusion as he asked, “Why would you devalue yourself like this?”
“Because I lied to you,” Scathach replied before turning on her heel and sprinting towards the temple.
“Lying to people is nothing new for me,” Shirou said nonchalantly as he caught up with Scathach.
As they entered the temple, Shirou was taken aback by the immense power he felt being suppressed there.
He looked around and noticed that the surrounding monks seemed unfazed by their arrival, going about their chores with peace and mercy in their expressions.
“Shisho, what kind of place is this?” Shirou asked, his eyes filled with confusion as he followed her.
“It's just a temple like any other,” Scathach replied, “but there is a special individual here.”
“Special individual?” Shirou scanned his surroundings before settling his gaze on the monk in front of the main hall Buddha statue.
The monk was kneeling, with long green hair like a bodhi leaf, and an expression of mercy that seemed to transcend the statue behind him.
Shirou was left in awe and disbelief, with a mix of surprise, amazement, and puzzlement on his face.
“Is that Shakyamuni?” Shirou asked as he approached the main hall, only to be stopped by the head of the Ryuudou Temple.
Just like in Buddhism, many characters in the Nasuverse have achieved the title of Buddha.
one of them is Shakyamuni.
“The Enlightened One is meditating and must not be disturbed,” the head of the temple said.
Shirou stepped back and respectfully replied, “I won't disturb him.” He was curious as to why Shakyamuni, a character in the Nasuverse was here, and why he didn't intervene to stop Gilgamesh's violence.
“The Enlightened One left a message for the master before he began his meditation,” the head of the temple said.
“What message?” Shirou asked, eager to know.
The head of the temple answered, “The Enlightened One said, 'the mind that abides nowhere is at peace.'”
Shirou was momentarily taken aback before he smiled.
He realized that it was Shakyamuni who had helped Tohsaka Aoi overcome her obsession and caused Sakura to leave home.
Although the same sentence was used, its meaning was different for different people.
And at this moment, Shakyamuni was giving this sentence to Shirou.
Shirou smiled and shook his head, then turned to the head of Ryuudou Temple and said, “Please tell the Enlightened One that if he ever emerges from his meditation, I would like to share these words with him.
'An unwavering mind is the dwelling place of the awakened ones.'”
The head of Ryuudou Temple was taken aback by Shirou's words and studied him with a piercing gaze.
He was not impressed by Shirou's youth but also realized he was not to be underestimated.
As he looked into Shirou's eyes, the head of Ryuudou Temple was startled but eventually nodded and left.
Shirou returned to Scathach's side and said, “Shisho, no wonder you hinted for me to come to this place.
This truly is the safest place.”
As he gazed at the meditators, Shirou added, “Who would have thought that the answer to this puzzle, after all my travels, was right in front of me.”
He smiled without any trace of self-deprecation or bitterness.
His warm eyes shone bright and the smile on his face radiated warmth.
“How did you know that Shakyamuni was here, Shisho?”
Scathach smiled and replied, “I sense something special about this place.
The one who has reached the truth of the world is meditating here.
Even though there isn't a single aura leaking out, just the sight of it is enough to leave one awestruck.”
Shirou chuckled and replied, “It seems like my training is still far from complete.
I'm just a novice and haven't noticed anything.”
Scathach shook her head, “Don't sell yourself short.
The ability to sense this is only possible when one stands outside the world.
If you were inside, no one would have been able to detect it, not even Gilgamesh.”
“An outsider's perspective,” Shirou sighed.
Scathach gazed at Shirou's calm demeanor and sighed, “You suddenly don't seem like a child anymore.”
“I never was one,” Shirou said calmly.
“I know that, but please don't say things like that,” Scathach implored.
“It doesn't matter anymore,” Shirou said with a shrug.
“I'm an older soul reborn in this body.
You could say it's like spirit descent magic or demon possession, but…
I'm still me, Fujimaru Shirou.
So, Shisho, if you don't mind, I'd like you to continue teaching me.”
“Do you want to become stronger?”
“Yes,” Shirou replied firmly.
“I want to become stronger than anyone else.
That way, I won't be bullied and I can help those in need and pave a path toward freedom for them.”
Scathach shook her head, “But I don't have the qualifications to teach you anymore.”
“Why do you say that?” Shirou asked, a look of concern crossing his face.
“You've been acting strange since earlier, is something bothering you?”
“I lied to you,” Scathach admitted, a solemn expression on her face.
“It wasn't Gilgamesh who forced me…”
Before Scathach could complete her words, the distinctive sound of Gilgamesh's laughter echoed from outside the temple.
Scathach scowled as she unsheathed her dual spears, blocking Shirou's path.
Gilgamesh strode into the temple, his ruby-red snake eyes locked onto the two of them, and sneered, “This king had a hunch you two would be hiding here.”
Shirou gazed at Gilgamesh, the smile on his face slowly fading into a cold, indifferent expression.
The flame in his eyes burned even brighter.
He stepped out from behind Scathach and greeted the king, “Hero king of Uruk.”
“Huh-?” Gilgamesh's eyes narrowed as he looked at Shirou.
He couldn't help exclaiming, “It's as I suspected! The flame within you has been awakened.
But instead of the blazing wrath that consumes everything, it's a pure and beautiful flame…
Unable to contain his excitement, Gilgamesh said, “This king has made his decision! Your flame, your eyes, are unparalleled treasures that I must possess!”
Gilgamesh fixed his piercing gaze on Shirou, who was unperturbed.
Shirou let out a faint smile and replied, “Even after all this time, King of Heroes, your self-righteous speeches still irritate me.
I can never bring myself to like you.”
Shirou smiled at Gilgamesh and then activated [Heroic Mortal].
[Golden Rule C-]
“Did you copy this from me, the king?” Gilgamesh narrowed his eyes, with a dangerous gleam in them, then laughed out loud.
“Good! You have a lot of guts, mongrel! No, calling you a mongrel is not enough to describe you now.
You should be called a mongrel among mongrels! I will take those eyes of yours, by order of the king!”
Behind Gilgamesh, the golden ripples rose higher and higher, and numerous Noble Phantasms slowly emerged.
Shirou asked, “You're going to attack even in the territory of the Buddha?”
Gilgamesh threw his head back in a fit of laughter.
He gestured toward the meditating Buddha and declared, “Can an outsider dictate the laws of the king? Besides, the Buddha seeks to attain enlightenment not just for himself, but also for all sentient beings.
Even if the king were to engage in violence here, the Buddha would remain steadfast in his meditation.
Asking for the Buddha's help? Hmph! It's as pointless as asking a stone for help!”
“That's right,” Shirou concurred.
“The Enlightened One has already attained enlightenment and transcended the cycle of birth and death.
The destruction of human reason is but a mere ripple to him.” With that, Shirou Projected a long sword and hurled it toward Gilgamesh.
The sword struck Gilgamesh's armor but failed to leave a mark and was effortlessly deflected.
Gilgamesh scowled, “You expect to defeat the king with that thing?”
Shirou replied with a smile, “It's all I have.”
“Not running away?” Gilgamesh asked skeptically.
“My path to freedom has been opened,” Shirou explained, “I just wonder why you persist in harassing me.
I'm just an ordinary person, even if my soul has descended into this body.
Why do you keep staring at me like this? Why do you force me to participate in this Holy Grail War, even at the cost of your own glory?”
Scathach tried to intervene, “Shirou, that is-“
But Gilgamesh quickly raised his hand and summoned a massive sword that headed straight for Scathach, forcing her to temporarily retreat.
He sneered, “The king is speaking to him.
How dare you, a mere scrap from the Shadow Land, interrupt?”
His face was filled with disdain.
Gilgamesh gazed at Shirou with a mischievous grin.
“The king shall grace you with an answer, as your ugliness amuses me.
Watching mongrels like you struggle and beg for mercy in hell is delightful, especially for one who's been reincarnated as a child,”
“So that's how it is,” Shirou replied, his eyes narrowing.
He summoned two swords through Projection and held them tightly in his grasp, fixing a fierce gaze on Gilgamesh.
“Do you truly wish to test me?” Gilgamesh sneered, “Boring.
Dealing with a weakling like you will soil my hands.
Mongrel belongs in the hell reserved for their kind, where they should meet their end.”
Shirou's eyes sharpened as he noticed the black mud seeping out of the cracks in the floor of the Ryuudou Temple.
“All the World's Evil!” Shirou exclaimed, shock evident in his voice.
He quickly turned to flee.
However, the black mud acted like a ravenous beast, lashing out and binding Shirou's body and limbs tightly like a thick cord.
“Shirou!” Scathach cried out, her hand tracing runes in front of her.
Before she could complete the runes, Gilgamesh summoned a giant sword and swung it, striking the runes down.
Scathach's mouth filled with fresh blood as the runes disappeared.
“Shisho!” Shirou yelled as he was consumed by the black mud.
Scathach wiped the blood from her lips and fixed Gilgamesh with a look of deadly intent.
But Gilgamesh had taken all his Noble Phantasms with him.
“Why did you deceive him on my behalf?” Scathach asked, her voice cold.
Gilgamesh merely sneered in response.
“Putting away your Noble Phantasms, do you truly believe I won't kill you?” Scathach asked again, her tone threatening.
“You can say what you want, but there's no need for this king to kill a person who is about to fade away,” Gilgamesh said with disdain.
Scathach remained silent, her phantom form rapidly approaching its limit.
She took advantage of the moment when All the World's Evil emerged from the Greater Grail to materialize, but now…
“What will happen to him?” she asked.
“If his human body touches that thing, he will naturally die,” Gilgamesh explained.
“He won't die, you just said you wanted to collect his eyes.
You're serious,” Scathach pointed out.
“Then you just wait.
Wait for the mud to swallow him.
Or perhaps you can plead with that being from beyond to lend him a hand and request its mercy? Hahahahaha!” Gilgamesh glanced at the Enlightened One and taunted him before walking away from the temple.
Scathach's gaze then shifted to the meditating Buddha.
The Enlightened One remained unperturbed, with his eyes closed and a face full of mercy, much like the statue of the Buddha behind him.
She looked back at the black mud that had engulfed Shirou.
She knew she couldn't go near it, for if she did, with her twisted and corrupt mind, her phantom form would be corroded and turn into an Alter.
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