Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 10)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 10

Title: Chapter 9

She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this wildly happy—when there was nothing but the wind in her hair and wings on her feet. There had been a time when it had always been like this—when she'd had nothing but the company of horses and the two men who'd been fathers to her in their own way. Then she'd pulled the first Sword out of the Stone, and her happiness had ended the day her destiny began.

All that had happened ages ago. And although the passage of time had never dulled her memory of the past, for a few brief moments every day since her new adventure had begun, she could allow herself to forget.

Underneath her, she could feel the horse's elation matching hers. Crouching even lower, she whispered into the creature's ear—and gave herself over to the pure ecstasy of flight.


Rin woke up to the sound of pounding hooves. She and Saber had been traveling for a few days now, their journey settled in a comfortable rhythm. Every morning, without fail, the blonde woke up before she did.

She heard the sound of faraway laughter. For a moment, Rin found herself marveling at its silvery quality. Then she realized that she'd never heard Saber laugh before.

She got up and walked to the edge of the hilltop. Below her, she could see Saber racing across the plain and up the hill. Within instants, the blonde reached the summit. The morning ride had tousled her hair and it cascaded about her shoulders in golden waves. Wheeling her horse around, she saw Rin and smiled.

For a long, heart-stopping moment, Rin forgot to breathe.

"You should do that more often," she said as she approached horse and rider.

"Do what more often?" the blonde asked as she dismounted.

"Smile," Rin said. Saber caught her glance then and their gazes locked for a long moment.

The horse's nickering eventually broke the silence.

"I should feed him," Saber said, her cheeks flushed. Whether their color came from the morning's ride or something else, the Mage couldn't tell.

"You handle his breakfast, then, and I'll handle ours. Which means," Rin sighed, "that he'll eat better than we will."


For all of Rin's lamentations though, Saber thought that they were actually eating quite well.

"Do you enchant your traps?" she asked the Mage curiously as they rode through a forest.

"Never," Rin answered with a hint of satisfaction. Leaning back, she added thoughtfully, "I used to think I was prudent with magicI'd only use it every so often and I'd squirrel mana away in gems and jewels." She chuckled quietly. "But I've learned since then that a true magician never relies on magic. Magic is power, but there's power in everythingespecially in ingenuity. True magic lies in being able to recognize and exploit the many resources at your disposal."

"You sound very much like someone I once knew," Saber replied quietly.

They lapsed into silence then, and the rhythmic gait of the horse combined with the tranquil hush of the forest to lull Saber into sleep.

She woke up to find herself nestled firmly in the Mage's armsand almost immediately sat upright.

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "It was careless of me to fall asleep"

"when you know that I can't ride bareback?"

In her mortification, Saber didn't hear the amusement in the Mage's voice.

"That's not what I meant"

"It's fine, Saber." Rin interrupted firmly. "You've been getting up quite early each morning, so it's not surprising if you're a little fatigued. Besides," the Mage added, "I doubt your instincts would have allowed you to lower your guard if there'd been the slightest possibility of danger."

"Fair enough," Saber conceded. She relaxed slightlyand was suddenly acutely conscious of the Mage's arms around her waist. She remembered the look on Rin's face earlier that morning and felt her cheeks redden. She had liked the expression on the Mage's face thenin the same way she enjoyed the sensation of being held by the Mage now. Then she thought of Shirou and the contentment of the moment gave way to confusion. A part of her felt that she was doing something wrongand she couldn't explain why or how.

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