“Hmm, so that’s why you left later than us.”
Having changed into pajamas he had shrewdly bought before coming here, Rider of Black grinned at Ruler who was laying her head on a desk.
Ruler remained silent. Looks like she still hasn’t recovered from the shock, Sieg judged. Well, that was understandable. It was understandable, but—
“…Couldn’t you tell by looking at him normally when clothed?”
Ruler jumped up at Sieg’s question. Her eyes were slightly teary and she was red from her cheeks to her ears.
“I couldn’t tell!!”
She was already embarrassed from seeing Rider naked, but her shame seemed to be worsened by the fact that she was the one who stepped into that situation herself.
“But can’t you confirm the true names and stats of other Servants as Ruler?”
While gripping her head, Ruler pointed at the helplessly laughing Rider.
“Sieg-kun… Try confirming Rider of Black’s stats. As a Master, you should be able to grasp to a certain extent the abilities of the Servants you have met until now just by concentrating a little.”
Having been told that, Sieg tried confirming Rider’s stats. A book appeared in his mind. He turned the pages, and the stats of the Servants he had met appeared vaguely one after another.
Saber, Archer, Lancer and finally Rider…
“…What the heck is this?”
Sieg turned to look at Rider sitting next to him—and Rider waved his hand with a wide smile.
Rider’s stats page was a mess. All of his skill names and ranks were properly recorded, but there were little jokes added everywhere.
In particular, his gender entry was completely painted over and impossible to read. Sieg frantically checked the stats of the other Servants, but fortunately there wasn’t anything particularly strange about them.
“…It’s true that there are Servants who possesses techniques or Noble Phantasms to hide their skills. But adding in little jokes is unheard of… Just how on earth is he doing this…? No, leaving aside the means, normally people wouldn’t do something that like… geez…”
That’s true, Sieg thought in agreement. As they both looked at Rider, the Servant in question answered while smiling embarrassedly.
“Hmm, it’s probably that. You know, the tome I have! The ability to check stats is technically a kind of spell, right? It’s a spell that conforms with the fundamental rules of the Holy Grail War, so it can’t be blocked completely, but the book might be able to interfere with it a little.”
“How half-hearted and irresponsible… Really now…”
Ruler gripped her head. That’s understandable, Sieg thought. Though he decided to leave it be, since it didn’t do any great harm.
“So, are you still unable to remember the book’s true name?”
“Hmm… it’s starting to trickle back into my head a little, I think.”
What a careless answer. But Sieg didn’t particularly think to scold him. Because he believed that his Servant, Rider, would always come through when push came to shove.
“Will you remember in three days?”
“It’ll, probably, be fine, I’d like to think… I think.”
Rider averted his eyes to Ruler’s question.
“Rider. The enemy will actively attack us as we approach the Hanging Gardens. Assassin will attack with her spells from the Hanging Gardens, Rider will fly through the air with his chariot and Archer will naturally shoot us with her arrows. Even if we fall at high speed, we Servants might not die, but—”
It didn’t need saying, but Sieg would definitely die if he fell from that height.
“I get it! It’ll be fine, leave it to me!”
“…I feel uneasy.”
“Ruler. You don’t have to worry about Rider.”
Though she seemed somewhat uneasy at Sieg’s words, Ruler consented.
“So, are you okay, Sieg-kun?”
Silence. Rider, who didn’t know about the case with Assassin of Black, stared at his Master’s face curiously. He tilted his head in puzzlement at Sieg’s expression. His face was wracked by unbelievable distress.
“…There’s no problem. I chose to fight.”
Sieg somehow managed to reply. Yes, he wasn’t fighting for someone else. He had chosen. He had willingly thrown himself into this battle he got dragged into.
He was fighting for himself. Not for humans.
“I’m going to take a bath, then go to sleep.”
After saying that, Sieg got up from his chair. Rider and Ruler silently watched—and once they confirmed he had entered the washroom, they looked at each other.
“He seems to be smoldering over something. Do you know anything, Rider?”
“…Yeah. Actually, at lunch, we ran into Saber of Red. But I didn’t hear anything concrete about the hell my Master spoke of.”
Ruler explained in detail about the illusion that Assassin of Black had shown them. The fixed system of a city where humans killed humans and stole everything there was to be had. A hell reproduced by humans where no one was evil and no one was good.
Rider of Black looked down with a sad expression. Naturally, as a hero who had wandered the world, Rider knew that such things inevitably existed in the world—and he accepted it.
That was the inevitably disillusioned viewpoint of a hero. Those who couldn’t be saved just couldn’t be saved, and the weak would bare their fangs as the weak. The malignancy of systems established by various circumstances such as social position and wealth couldn’t be taken down no matter how great a hero one was.
“But he would have to learn about it eventually. Besides, it’s not like Master wants to become human, right?”
“Yes. Even so, don’t you think he felt longing towards humans?”
Rider crossed his arms and shook his head fervently.
“I wonder about that… Master wished to live. And that wish was granted in a slightly strange and twisted form. Even so, I don’t think… he feels longing towards humans. In the first place, has Master met any humans besides magi?”
“He was treated to lunch by an old man named Serge. He was a very good person.”
“Enough that Master would feeling longing?”
“…We didn’t meet him for that long. It might have made him aware that there are a good people out there, though.”
There was no clue as to how he felt. Sieg himself probably still didn’t know how he felt yet.
“It’d be nice if he came to like them, though.”
“You mean humans?”
“Yes… Otherwise, it’d be troubling for me.”
Suddenly, she muttered in a tone filled with an unusual emotion. Picking up on it with his sharp ears, Rider leaned forward over the desk with plain curiosity and wariness.
“Mu, mu, mu… And why would that trouble you?”
“Eh? Ah, no, err, sorry. It’s nothing!”
Ruler covered her mouth and quite obviously fell into a panic. Becoming even more suspicious, Rider brought his face close to her—and Ruler hurriedly averted her eyes.
“Are you hiding something?”
“I-I’m not hiding anything. Really.”
She wouldn’t look him in the eye.
“You would you swear it by God?”
“I-It’d be rude to swear on the Lord for such a trivial thing…”
Her earlier gallantness had disappeared, and Ruler blushed shyly like a normal girl her age. Conceding that touching upon this subject any further would be pitiful for her, Rider shrugged and changed the topic.
“…Well, I also agree that I want him to like humans, though. After all, Master has a future!”
“That’s… right. I think it’d be nice if he had a happy future ahead of him.”
Ruler spoke happily and smiled innocently. Rider also nodded cheerily.
Suddenly, Ruler, while making sure that Sieg still wasn’t coming back yet, whispered to Rider.
“…U-Umm. Rider-san, do you like Sieg-san?”
“How about you?”
Having the question immediately turned back to her, Ruler widened her eyes and stiffened her back straight.
“T-That’s. Umm, err, that is, no—”
Rider sighed. He stood up and patted Ruler’s head as if she were a child.
Rider smiled and whispered in her ear.
“—Well, do your best, though I won’t be supporting you, Miss someone else who isn’t Ruler.”
As the girl turned around, Rider waved his hand and went up to the bedroom on the second floor.
“…Uuugh. He noticed.”
She sighed and pressed a hand to her cheek. Sieg then came out of the washroom with a bath towel covering his head and noticed Ruler looking red-faced and laying her head on the desk, so he called out to her.
“Ruler, did something happen?”
“Ah, no, no, no! Nothing happened, nothing—”
She stiffened once again. While looking at her curiously, Sieg pointed at the washroom.
“We changed the order, but you can go in the bath next.”
Ruler stiffened and stared at Sieg’s body. A shirt was hanging off his right arm. He probably intended to sleep wearing it. In other words, right now, Sieg was completely naked above his waist.
“…Y-Yes! Under! Stood!”
Moving jerkily just like a mechanical doll, she passed by Sieg to go to the washroom.
As he watched her go, Sieg found her behavior odd, but he just shrugged and decided to go up to the second floor bedroom. It’d be nice if Rider doesn’t barge in like last time, he thought. After all, Rider stayed in physical form and tossed and turned while he slept, which caused Sieg to be often kicked off the narrow bed.