Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 6)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 6

Title: Chapter 5

"It's good to see you again, Rin."

Taiga looked at the young woman who had just rescued them, the gladness of her greeting containing far more than mere gratitude. It was good to see the young Mage again—even if she had changed so much as to be almost unrecognizable.

She was a full-grown beauty now, all traces of the child gone, including the ribbons that had formerly gathered her hair in tails. The imperious air had given way to a dignified calm. The defensive arrogance in the blue eyes had given way to a serene confidence.

"It's good to see you again too, Taiga."

Shirou interrupted tensely.

"Will Saber be alright?"

Rin glanced at the blonde woman asleep on the futon. "They only intended to prevent her from fighting. She's unconscious, but unhurt."

Shirou nodded, relief relaxing some of the tautness of his features. "Thank you...Rin."

Rin smiled at him. "It's good to see you too, Shirou."

"Will they come back?"

Rin turned toward the silver-haired child who had raised the question. "Not just yet, Ilya. You're all safe for now."

"What did they want?" Shirou asked tensely.

Rin replied gently. "I'll explain everything tomorrow. Right now, the most useful thing you can all do is to go to bed." Sensing an objection from the red-haired boy, Rin spoke again. "I'm the only one who can keep everyone safe right now, Shirou, and worrying about everyone else's well-being is a distraction I can't afford. So please rest. I'm asking you on Saber's behalf."

After a long, tense moment, Shirou finally nodded. Before he left, he turned to Rin. "Does Sakura know that you're here?"

Rin shook her head and smiled. "This visit was unplanned. Will you please tell her that I've arrived?"

Shirou nodded and smiled slightly. "Of course. She'll be ecstatic to find out. She's missed you terribly."

Finally, after all the others had gone, Rin settled herself next to Saber and closed her eyes.


She dreamt of horses. In her dream, she heard the clink of steel on steel, smelt the tang of fear and flesh, tasted the acrid hope that burnt the air before a battle. She had hated it—had hated the sight of torn limbs, gutted bodies and vacant eyes. But it was all she had known, and with it her life had been given a purpose. She was a king, perhaps the greatest of all. In her, nobility and tragedy had married to bear a legend. Somewhere in the distance, a horn sounded

Saber woke up with a start. Around her the house was quiet. Already the dream was beginning to fade. As it faded, another image took its place—the image of a room exploding in red and black. She was already halfway out of the futon, her blood pounding in her ears, when a gentle voice interrupted her thoughts.

"They're safe. There's no need to fight."

 Saber turned sharply towards the direction of the voice. In the adrenaline rush, she had failed to notice the other presence in the room. For a moment, she couldn't place the raven-haired beauty seated across her. Then recognition dawned.


The young woman nodded and smiled. "Hello, Saber."

Saber looked at the Mage for a long, silent moment. She was not the same person she'd been before. She was lovelier than she'd been when she'd left, but that wasn't the only change. She radiated so much more power now...and its character was eerily familiar. Only Saber couldn't tell why or how.

Rin was the first to interrupt the silence. "How long have you had that dream?"

Saber almost asked, "What dream?" But the compassion in the Mage's blue eyes invited honesty.

"Months now," Saber admitted quietly.

The Mage simply nodded. Rising swiftly, she cupped Saber's face in her hands and brought her face close enough to the blonde's so that their foreheads touched. Saber was too startled by the sudden and uninvited intimacy of the gesture to register the words the Mage whispered—but it was over as quickly as it had begun.

"Rest now," Rin spoke softly. "All your questions will be answered tomorrow."

And, for the first time in months, Saber slept in peace.


Rin looked with mixed emotions at the blonde figure on the floor. There was a fragility about Saber now that hadn't been there before. Strangely enough, it only added to her luminosity. Melancholy had sharpened her features—but it had also resurrected her femininity. The blond hair fell in waves now, freed from the tyranny of their former braids. The change in appearance that alone had wrought had been almost startling.

There was no denying her power though. Even in such a dispirited state, Rin could feel the tug of the forces that emanated from the sleeping figure. There was a reason why Excalibur had accepted her as its Master. It was for the same reason that she was now being pursued.

Gazing inward, Rin considered the dream she held in her mind. In its essence, magic involved balance: an existing suffering could not be eliminatedit could only be displaced. All she had done was substitute some of Saber's turmoil with her own peace. Now the other woman's anguish was hers to deal with. Closing her eyes, Rin gazed at the dream—and plunged.

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