Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 12)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 12

Title: Chapter 11

It was a few days after when they spotted it: the first signs of civilization since they'd left the future. And judging from the many trails of smoke rising in the distance, it looked to be a fair-sized town.

Rin critically appraised their appearance.

"Two women traveling together will invite unwanted attention...but a married couple traveling together will only inspire boredom."

"And who's supposed to be the husband between the both of us?" Once again, Rin noticed a faint blush on the blonde's cheeks.

"Me, of course," the Mage replied smoothly.

"You?" Saber looked indignant. "Why does it have to be you?"

"Because, my dear," Rin smiled smugly, "I'm taller than you are."


It took a few attempts before they had exactly what they were looking for.

"I hadn't realized that a Mage's arsenal of skills involved theft." Saber looked disapprovingly at the clothes that Rin had appropriated from around the town's fringes.

The Mage grinned cheerfully. "Chivalry belongs to your code, not mine."

Saber sighed. "I only hope we don't run into the owners—it would be awkward to see a wife wielding a sword."

Rin shrugged good-naturedly. "I'll just say it's how I ended up being your husband."

"Keep that up," Saber muttered darkly, "and I'll just say it's how I ended up being your widow."


In the end though, it was Rin who was at a loss for words.

It had taken Saber a bit more time to dress, but when she emerged from the woods, her appearance...surprised the Mage, at the very least.

"You look good in your clothes," the blonde said as she approached.

"And you look stunning in yours," Rin replied quietly, without thinking. Then catching herself, she quickly added, "It's a pity Shirou can't see you." The last statement was an outright lie but she hoped Saber wouldn't sense it.

"Not at all," Saber replied wryly, looking down at herself. "I doubt he would have been too pleased with the depth of this neckline. I'm not sure if I'm pleased by the depth of this neckline."

"It's fine," Rin assured her (having deliberately chosen the neckline). "If it's decent enough for medieval tastes, it should be decent enough for modern ones."


"Your brother is very handsome."

Saber glanced at the woman who had spoken. She was with two other women and all three of them were looking at Rin in a very discomfiting way.

It had taken them until the late afternoon to find a suitable inn and Rin was at the counter haggling with the innkeeper.

"Nay Gwynn," the woman in the middle disagreed. "He's more beautiful than handsome. Not that I fancy him any less, all the same."

"He's not my brother," Saber replied brusquely. "He's my husband."

"Oh?" the third woman replied skeptically. "Our apologies then—it's just that we didn't see a ring."

Saber thought fast. "It didn't seem wise to travel with much jewelry."

"True enough, my sweet," the first woman replied, "though with a husband the likes of yours, you might at least want to risk a ring. Let's go, ladies."

With a sigh of relief, Saber turned her attentions back to Rin. She had to admit that the Mage did look strikingly attractive in men's clothes. She combined, Saber thought then, Lancelot's air of command with Gawain's aura of purity. At that moment, Rin caught her glance and smiled. Again, Saber felt that confusing sensation of unexpected pleasure mixed with inexplicable guilt.

Finally, the Mage left the counter and approached her with a morose look. "We have a room, but it'll cost us an arm and a leg." She sighed. "It's hard to charm a man when you're not a woman."

"Pity you weren't with me a while ago," Saber replied wryly. "You'd have gotten three different rooms for free." Ignoring the puzzled look on the Mage's face, she rose and said in the sweetest voice she could manage, "You wouldn't mind carrying all the bags now, would you dear?"


It was nearly evening by the time she was done, but she had managed to procure everything she thought they needed.

She entered their room and stopped short at the sight of an entrancingly fresh-looking Saber. The blonde smiled tranquilly at her.

"You got to use the bath for free?" she asked with disbelief.

"It's not that hard to charm a man when you're a woman. The water was heated too." Ignoring the look of dismay on the Mage's face, Saber asked, "So what did you get?"

"Mostly provisions, but also a map and a fiddle."

 Saber raised an eyebrow. "You already know where we need to go, so why do we need a map?"

"Because," Rin said, carefully spreading the parchment on the table, "it'll appear strange if we can't name our destination. I expect we'll be encountering more towns in this direction, so it's urgent that we blend in."

"And that's what the fiddle is for too, I suppose?"

The Mage grinned. "I hope you don't mind being married to a wandering minstrel."

Saber shook her head. "Can you actually play the thing?"

Rin paused. "It'll take a bit of fiddling, pun not intended, but I think I can manage. It shouldn't be all that different from the violin."

"Is there really anything you can't do?" Saber asked incredulously.

"Not much," Rin replied matter-of-factly. "My father had me schooled in practically everything."

"And I thought I had a difficult childhood," the blonde said, shaking her head. When she looked up, the Mage shot her a thoroughly pleading expression.


"Do you think you could use your charms to get me a bath?"

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