Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 21)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 21

Title: Chapter 20

She lay in bed, curled on one side. In her outstretched hand, she imagined the grip of an absent Sword.

It had been two days since she had surrendered Excalibur.

Tomorrow, they would exile part of her soul to another dimension—to a world beyond the reach of hers. Knowing now how closely linked she was to the Sword, the mere thought of its Banishment filled her with nauseating despair.

And yet, she couldn't bring herself to hate Rin.

She remembered the pain and the grief on the Mage's face when she had asked for the Sword.

In Rin's place, she would have done the same.

Duty. In all her lives, she had bound herself to duty. How could she expect the Mage to act otherwise?

But it had hurt nonetheless—with an intensity that had taken her entirely by surprise. Where, indeed, did duty end and love begin?

Saber sighed. In a single day, it seemed, she'd lost not just her soul—but also her heart.


He had come as fast as he could. As soon as he had put down the phone, he had left almost immediately for the airport and booked the first flight to London.

Rin had reassured him during the call that Saber was fine—that their mission had been a success. But the composure he'd come to take for granted from the Mage had seemed absent. She'd sounded terse and preoccupied and that had bothered Shirou.

His concerns intensified when he finally saw the Mage. Rin looked as lovely as ever, but it was also the first time he had ever seen her look tired.

He hugged her—and was surprised by how tightly she returned the embrace. She stepped back and gazed at him for a long time. "What?" he finally asked her, discomfited by her stare.

"Nothing," the Mage said, shaking her head with a smile. "I thought of asking you something, but I realized that I already knew what your answer would be."

 "I'm not that predictable," he grumbled, though he was pleased to see that some of the Mage's tension had gone.

"So Saber is alright?" he asked her as they drove through the London traffic.

"She's fine," Rin assured him, "though...I won't say she's in high spirits."

Shirou shot her a questioning look. The Mage sighed. "The Council has taken Excalibur away from her. And tomorrow...they'll send it to another dimension—to another world—beyond the reach of ours."

"But why?" he asked her, bewildered.

"For the same reason your father asked Saber to destroy the Grail in the Fourth Holy Grail War," the Mage replied quietly.

 Shirou paused. "Oh..." He looked out the window then, at a loss for words. More than a decade ago, his father, Emiya Kiritsugu, had ordered Saber to destroy the Grail to ultimately keep humanity safe. He couldn't judge the Council now for sharing the same intentions.

"It doesn't get any easier, does it?" he finally said to the Mage.

Rin sighed. "No, it doesn't. And especially not for Saber, it seems."

They drove the rest of the way to the Council's headquarters in silence.


She was in the garden when he made his presence felt.


She whirled around then, and the sight of Shirou's gentle and kindly face, unseen for so many weeks, pierced the tenuous resolve that barely kept her composure together.

He held her for a long time.

"It will be fine, Saber," he whispered into her hair. "We can build a life together without the Sword."

She stepped back and looked at him then, and in that very moment, Rin entered.

She hadn't seen the Mage since she had given away Excalibur. For a long, heart-stopping moment, their gazes locked.

Rin was the first to look away. "My apologies for...intruding. I'll talk to you later, Shirou."

And even as she stood there in Shirou's arms, Saber felt a desperate urge to run after the Mage. For the expression on the raven-haired beauty's face then, on seeing her and Shirou together, had been a look of agonizing pain.

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