Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 25)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 25

Title: Chapter 24

He was dreaming, as always, when he felt her presence in the room.

He opened his eyes, and for a few brief moments, watched doubt and uncertainty flicker across her face.

Then recognition dawned.


She had thrown herself at him before he'd had the chance to respond.

"It's good to see you too, Arturia," the Council Master chuckled. For all that he kept his voice light though, there were tears in his eyes.

She hugged him fiercely, then stepped back and looked at him with searching eyes.

"It is you. I thought that you had died. I thought that you'd been dead all these centuries."

"You have such little faith," he chuckled. He looked at her then and shook his head. "You haven't changed a bit in all this time, while I've grown to be an old man."

"You were always an old man."

He smiled. "You haven't teased me like that since you were a child."

She looked at him then for a long, serious moment.

"She's one of your progeny, isn't she?"

"One of a few, but perhaps the strongest to emerge so far."

Saber shook her head. "It took me quite a long time to realize it. Does she know?"

The Council Master paused thoughtfully. "I suspect she does, deep down. In any case," he said, seating himself, "I summoned you here to tell you a few things."

She looked at him expectantly.

"First of all, Excalibur is safe—and here, in this world."

The look of relief on her face was almost painful to watch. "But how...?"

"Novice Rin Bound the Sword to you," he replied simply. "Without you, there was no way it could enter the Gate."

"Rin...Bound the Sword?" Saber frowned. "But I thought the Council's intention was to Banish Excalibur."

"That was the Council's intention. Novice Rin acted against it."

Saber looked stunned. "Rin would never act against her duty..."

"Well, she never used to," the Council Master replied mildly, though he observed Saber's reactions with interest. "In any case, the entire ritual was merely designed to trap the mastermind behind the collection of the Grail War Weapons. While I succeeded in saving Excalibur, the culprit managed to escape and he got away with a dangerous artifact that allows for passage across the Dimensions."

"So what does the Council intend to do?"

He sighed. "The Council has decided to send Novice Rin to pursue the enemy. The mission is her punishment for insubordination. She can return only if she prevails against the Novice Master and retrieves the Key. And—if she fails to follow the enemy fast enough, she'll be trapped in the Dimension she's in with no hope of return."

Saber paled. "How long will it take her to accomplish that task?"

The Council Master replied soberly. "I don't know. It could take months. It could also take years."

"When does she leave?"

"She leaves at sunrise."

Saber looked aghast. "So soon?"

The Council Master shook his head. "It can't be helped. The Gate will not stay open for long, and it's no longer ours to command without the Key."

She turned away from him then. "I see..." After a few moments, she asked, "Would you excuse me for now, Merlin? There are things...I need to consider."

His heart ached as he watched her leave the room. Centuries ago, he had raised her and loved her. And then he had given her away. At that time, he had been young and his gift for the Reading primitive. He had seen Britain's destruction but had believed its fate to be reversible. He had made Saber King so she could reverse that fate. Centuries later, as his magic had grown, he had eventually seen the futility of it all—and had regretted the death of a blonde and green-eyed child who had only known duty in her life and never happiness.

Now, she had another chance at happiness—but only if she didn't allow her sense of duty to get in the way. The Council Master sighed. It would have been so much easier if he'd allowed himself to interfere. But there were limits to that approach, and he'd learned them the hard way.

Alone in his room, he muttered, "If this doesn't work out, it'll be Viviane's fault, not mine."


She was in her cell, composing a letter to Sakura, when she heard the door being unlocked and the sound of familiar footsteps.

"Why did you do it?"

She paused, but didn't turn around. She couldn't trust herself to look at those emerald eyes with composure.

"It didn't...feel right," she replied quietly.

In the next moment, she found herself wrapped in a fierce embrace from behind.

"I'm sorry, Rin..."

She turned around and entwined her hands with Saber's. Then closing her eyes, she touched her forehead against the blonde's.

"There's no need to apologize. It was my choice."


"Don't say it," the Mage whispered, brushing her thumb gently across the blonde's lips. "We have duties, Saber. For as long as...what we have stops here, we can keep them. There's a man I need to pursue—and there's a man you need to marry." Then taking the blonde's hand, she held it for a long while against her cheek with her lips pressed against its palm. Then she moved away with a resolute expression on her face.

"You have to go now, Saber. I don't have much time left...and there are things I need to do and goodbyes I need to make..."

 "Rin...." Saber whispered.

The Mage looked away. Her voice, when she spoke, was tremulous.

"Perhaps, in another world, in another time...things turned out differently between us. But not in this world and not in this time. Goodbye, Saber."

It was only after she couldn't hear the footsteps anymore that, once again, Rin allowed herself to cry.

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