Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 16)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 16

Title: Chapter 15

She had spent the last three days speaking with the Land and speaking with the Water. She had never expected their opposition, but loved and respected them too much to act without their consent.

She had gone off to search for her guests, to inform them of her decision, when the sound of faraway laughter stopped her in her tracks.

The last time she had heard that silvery sound was when Arturia had been a child. There had been no enmity between her and Merlin then, and it had seemed possible to believe in a peace that required no sacrifice. In the end, they'd both been wrong and Arturia had become that sacrifice. She'd never heard Arturia's laughter again since then, and to atone for her guilt, the Sorceress had given the girl Excalibur.

It was in the same spirit of atonement that she'd granted Bedivere's wish years later to give Arturia another chance at life. That act of absolution had cost her dearly, for recalling the girl's Soul had expended Avalon's last great store of power. Now the Land and the Water were dying, and giving the Sword away, yet again, would only hasten their demise.

It had been a painful and difficult decision to make, but Viviane knew it was right. She and Merlin had refused to believe it at first in all those decades past, but the passing of Avalon and the passing of Camelot had always been Foretold. Their attempt to change the inevitable had only ultimately brought more grief and more tragedy, further sorrow and devastation. Death came to everything—to Kingdoms as well as Kings, and they had only misused their magic in attempting to alter Fate.

Avalon would pass away faster now, but at least its death would preserve another's existence—perhaps even the existence of the world itself.

Rousing herself from her reveries, the Sorceress moved on—toward the sound of that long unheard laughter. Through the doorway, she caught sight of Arturia and the girl who called herself Rin. The Mage was amusing Arturia with her antics on the fiddle, and the intimacy of their merriment made the Sorceress pause. After watching the pair for a few more moments, she shook her head and smiled.

Perhaps Bedivere's wish for Arturia's happiness had not been so vain after all.


She was communing with the Land and communing with the Water when the presence of the Sorceress made itself felt. She opened her eyes and bowed before the Lady. The older woman looked faintly amused.

"Have they answered all your questions?"

Rin blushed faintly. "They've been very kind and tremendously gracious. I'm constantly surprised by the warmth of their reception."

The Lady smiled enigmatically. "That's because you're no stranger to them." Before Rin could ask her to clarify what she meant, the Sorceress asked, "What are your intentions after you return to the future?"

Rin paused. "I have no instructions beyond bringing Excalibur back. But I trust that the Council has a plan in place."

The Sorceress looked amused once again. "I meant your intentions with regard to Arturia."

Rin blinked. "My intentions with regard to...Saber?" It had been a very long time since a question had caught her off guard. She felt herself blushing.

"My intention is..." she paused, then looked away. "My intention is to return her to Shirou, of course."

The Lady raised an eyebrow. "And who is this Shirou?"

"Shirou is Arturia's..." Rin tried to think of a medieval equivalent. "He's the man to whom Arturia is betrothed, in a manner of speaking."

The Lady looked skeptical. "The future must be a very strange place, if one can be betrothed—but only in a manner of speaking." She looked at Rin. "And what do you think of this Shirou? Is he a good match for Arturia?"

Rin blinked again. "It's not my place to say..."

The Lady raised the other eyebrow. "You are Arturia's Guardian, are you not? Where her happiness is concerned, it is precisely your place to say something."

Rin looked away again. Objectively speaking, she'd always thought there was much cause for friction between Shirou and Saber. Yet, as the days passed, she trusted her objectivity in the matter less and less. Rin took a deep breath and looked the Sorceress straight in the eye.

"Shirou is a courageous and honorable young man and I have no doubt of his love for Arturia. I can't imagine anyone else who would be as devoted to her...well-being as he would be."

The Lady slowly nodded, though she still looked faintly unconvinced. "Very well, then. I leave it to your judgment—as I leave it to Arturia's." Then she shook her head crossly at herself before smiling at Rin. "But forgive my meddling. It's the love of a surrogate mother for a long-absent child."

"There's nothing to forgive," Rin smiled back. With a hint of sadness, she added, "A mother's interference is a wonderful thing. Arturia is very lucky to have yours."

It was the Lady's turn to look sad. "Perhaps now, she is. I can only hope." Then turning to Rin once again, she smiled slightly. "I have to leave now to attend to some things, but I'm very glad to have had this chance to speak with you, Mage Rin. It's reminded me of...very old times with someone who was once a dear friend." Then with a gracious nod, the Lady left—leaving Rin to brood over the many things she'd so mysteriously said.

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