Things that go bump in the night.
"Do you hate the world?"
With that simple word, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place, and the giant tapestry of colored glass shattered, its iridescent shards raining down around them. Reality lurched, displaced time flooding back as though rushing into a vacuum.
For the first time Shirou turned and looked at the thing standing by his side. The faces of countless nightmares stared out at him from the shadows, young and old, human and not, beautiful and monstrous. They writhed around one another, eyes, claws, and fangs appearing and disappearing with nauseating frequency. Here was a many-legged horror raising itself from the depths of the ocean; there, a bright and fierce god wielding tongues of flame; yet another became the twisted visage of an axe murderer.
Beneath the skin of the beast was the vision he'd become so familiar with through two weeks (or was it two millennia?) of nightmares, the nameless, disfigured thing hanging in the darkness, carrying with it the collective sins of a village that had expanded over time to include a tribe, a nation, a continent, a world.
And then it reformed, one final time, into the young man he'd first seen, a boy no older than Shirou himself. Across his skin slid the patterns of curses and death, disease, war and famine, all the evils of the world, cringing in the light. The face under the glyphs could have been his own, but even that was melting into the formless shadows.
In the light of morning they looked across the world they'd saved, the tiled roofs of the houses of Fuyuki interwoven with phone cables, and the desolate, bare branches of the trees that clawed at the pale, frigid sky. The sleepy town was only just beginning to wake into activity, adults and children starting their usual lives with no inkling of the threat that had loomed so close.
It wasn't some vision of a fantastic fairytale kingdom; just Fuyuki, a normal town, with its accidents and its crowds, filth littering the gutters and the remnants of last night's garbage cluttering the alleyways. It was not a Utopia by any stretch of the imagination.
"Pretty, ain't it?"