Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 11)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 11

Title: Chapter 10

She would have felt it eventually, but the sudden alertness of the blonde in front of her was all the warning she needed.

"What is it?" Rin whispered softly into Saber's ear.

"We're being watched," Saber replied under her breath.

It was nearly dusk in the forest—an opportune time for an ambush, Rin thought.

They continued to ride in silence, pretending nothing was amiss. The moment their attackers knew that their presence had been detected, they would strike.

Rin knew nothing of what Saber intended, but the purposefulness of the blonde's posture meant that she had a strategy in mind.

They arrived at a clearing, and the blonde muttered:

"Hold on tight."

Rin barely had enough time to secure herself before Saber hollered at the horse—and the forest exploded in green and black.


She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this marvelously alivewhen there was nothing but adrenaline in her blood and danger at her heels. There had been a time when it had always been like this, when she'd had nothing but a sword in her hand and conviction in her heart. Then she'd returned the second Sword to the Lake, and her soul had died the day her body was reborn.

All that had happened ages ago. And although the passage of time had dulled her memory of the past, all it took was a few brief moments of mortal danger to bring it backall of it, back.

Underneath her, she could feel the horse's eagerness matching hers. Crouching even lower, she whispered into the creature's earand gave herself over to the glorious ecstasy of the fight.


Rin didn't know how much longer she could hold on. Besides the horse's insane speed, there were all the whipping branches to contend with. Above the pounding of their horse's hooves, she could hear the sounds of pursuit.

Suddenly, the forest ahead of them exploded in flames. Saber swore and Rin felt the vertiginous sensation that accompanied an abrupt stop after high speed. She'd had no idea how disoriented she was until she found herself staring down into the blonde's emerald eyes—Saber having caught her just in time as she'd toppled from the horse.

"We'll have to make our stand here," the blonde said grimly. Glancing briefly at the Mage, she asked with some concern, "Are you alright?"

"Apart from a bruised rear and an even more bruised ego, I'm fine."

"Can you fight?"

Rin answered by drawing her staff into fighting position. The blonde smiled slightly and unsheathed her sword.

"Alright then. Here they come."


In the end, it had culminated in a complete rout for the bandits.

Although their attackers had outnumbered them ten to one, the robbers' strength had failed to prevail against Saber's skill.

It was only when they began settling down later that night that Saber realized what had been odd about the entire incident.

"You didn't use your magic a single time—not even to create a shield."

The Mage stretched her legs in front of the campfire. "It wasn't necessary."

Saber could only look at her in bewilderment.

"You allowed me to fight when magic could have prevented it?"

The Mage looked faintly amused. "You're a knight, Saber. Perhaps the greatest knight the world has ever known. Why would I use magic to prevent you from being who you are?"

Saber thought of Shirou then—and of the many times he had used everything in his power, including magic, just to keep her from unsheathing her sword. It had always been so important to him that she not fight. And somewhere along the way, the strength of his conviction had begun to undermine hers.

"Because it's wrong to fight," she whispered. "One does it only when one has to."

"I think you've confused fighting with killing." Rin said gently. "Wielding a sword is much the same as wielding a staff, Saber. We use our arts to defend the world, yes, but even if the world never needed our services, you would still be a knight and I would still be a mage. Fighting is a dance for you in the same way that magic is a song for me. It's who we are."

Saber shook her head and smiled wistfully. "Not everyone thinks of it the way you do." Then realizing that she had put the Mage in an awkward position, she quickly added, "You should go to sleep. I'll take the first watch."

The Mage shook her head firmly. "You might not feel your exhaustion now, but it'll hit you later. There's far less need for me to rest immediately."

She nodded reluctantly. "Alright then. Good night, Rin."

"Good night, Saber."

And for all that Rin was right and the fatigue did set in, it was still a long time before sleep finally claimed her.

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