The King and Her Queen
Chapter 10: Sisters
Rin opened her eyes to the see the familiar canopy of Arturia's
bed. The weight on her right shoulder declared Arturia's
presence. She turned to look and met Arturia's eyes.
Arturia smiled and kissed her on the cheek. "Good morning."
"G--- good morning..." stuttered Rin. Last night's kiss surfaced
in her mind. She sat up and noticed that she was still wearing
her gown. Her eyes grew wide in alarm at its disheveled
state. Did Arturia do something? Naughty thoughts began to
creep into her mind and her left hand pulled up more cloth to cover her
"Be at ease. I only loosened thy gown to help thee sleep
better." said Arturia as if she sensed her panic.
"M--- mine thanks..."
Arturia put her hand on top of the back of Rhynne's right hand and
intertwined their fingers. She sat up and faced Rhynne. "I
have something to tell thee. I have seen visions of thee when our
palms touched." When Rhynne appeared to be apprehensive, she
tightened her grasp on her hand. "Please listen." She
paused and waited for Rhynne to give her attention. "At first, I
wanted to see more of those visions. But thou seemeth
uncomfortable yielding thy past to me. So, I will not press thee."
She lifted Rhynne's hand and cradled it with her other hand. "For
now, I still want to know more about thee. I want to discover
what makes thee smile. I want to understand thy sorrow and
pain. I want to hear thy hopes and dreams. But most of all,
I want to see if there is a future with me by thy side. I do not
expect thee to understand. I just want thee to know mine selfish
Rin could hardly believe her ears. However, her heart did and
tears began to flow from her eyes. Those were the sweetest words
that she had ever heard. The thought that Arturia would want to
be by her side moved her so much.
Rhynne was crying. Arturia felt her nightgown for pockets but
found none. So she pulled Rhynne into her embrace. "Mine
apologies for making thee cry. I have no handkerchief upon mine
person... so... allow me to be thy handkerchief instead."
It was too much. She could not hold back anymore and wept openly
into Arturia's bosom. Her hands slipped around Arturia's waist
and hugged her tightly.
Arturia's heart wrenched. Why was she crying? She stroked
her head. "Mine apologies if I hath offended thee. I... I
was too bold..."
"Nay..." came Rin's muffled reply. "I... I am happy... so happy
to hear thy speech..." Rin pulled back and kept her head
bowed. "Thou art so honest with me... and yet... I... hath not
done the same."
It was only fair that Arturia should know. Rin intertwined her
fingers with Arturia's. Her palms tingled as they drew closer to
Arturia realized what Rhynne was doing. She shifted her hands
away from the marks and put Rhynne's hands on her shoulders. "I
appreciate thy offer. Mayhap, I shall accept it at a later
time. But the past is not what I want right now. If I am
getting too close to thee, thou only need to push me away."
Rin looked up to meet Arturia's eyes. She had a feeling that
something special was about to happen. The prospect frightened
her and excited her at the same time. She swallowed her
fear. "I... appreciate thy consideration. But to push thee
away... is not what I want right now."
Arturia's eyes lit up at Rhynne's words. Her hands encircled
Rhynne's back. She guided her down to the bed and leaned toward
her face. She paused a few inches away from her face to observe
her reaction. Rhynne closed her eyes. As if on cue, Arturia
closed the distance to capture her lips. Rhynne slipped her hands
around her waist.
Because of last night's incident, she kept the kisses short. She
would caress Rhynne's lips and tugged them a little to prompt her to
kiss back. Rhynne's kisses were a bit clumsy, but endearing in
their innocence. Each one was a treasure just for her.
She lost count of how many kisses they exchanged. But somehow, it
was not enough. She wanted to be closer. She wanted to feel
Rhynne against her, just like the time when she held Rhynne in the
water. Her hands crept up to Rhynne's shoulders and her legs
straddled Rhynne's waist. She leaned over to the right and rolled
over so that Rhynne would be on top of her. Her hands flew behind
her and located that familiar clasp. She pulled the clasp down
with her right hand while her left hand located that black strap and
unfastened it with a flick.
Rin's eyes grew wide. In a span of three seconds, Arturia had
just succeeded in unzipping her dress and unfastening her bra.
Her gown slipped off her shoulders by its own weight and exposed her
And all that time, Arturia continued to kiss her. Arturia's hand
pushed her left shoulder and guided her to lie on her side. That
same hand slid down her arm to slip off the sleeve of the gown and the
strap of the bra. Only the right side remained. Arturia
pushed her shoulder again and caused her to lie on her back. Her
hand found the other sleeve and strap, and pulled them down her
arm. Rin could not believe it. In less than five seconds,
she was half-naked in bed with Arturia.
Arturia stopped kissing to admire her handiwork. Rhynne's skin
radiated a pink hue and was warm to touch. Her lips were moist
and full from all that kissing. Her bosom heaved with each
breath. She bent down and laid her cheek against the center of
that bosom. Just underneath that smooth skin, she could hear the
rhythmic beat of her heart. She closed her eyes and just listened
to her heartbeat.
Rin could not believe what was happening. Arturia's words came
back to her: "If I am getting too close to thee, thou only need
to push me away." She glanced down to look at Arturia's head
lying on her chest and felt embarrassed at the sight. She
certainly was really close. However, she had no will to push her
away. Instead, she stroked Arturia's fair hair and kissed the top
of her head.
They lay together in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Rin
gathered her courage. After all that happened, she could say it.
"Arturia... I love thee." She kissed the top of her head again.
Arturia's eyes flew open. Her mind quickly went through the
previous conversation. To her great chagrin, her supposedly
meticulously crafted speech was immensely lacking those three
words. If Bedivere were here, she would make a merry jest out of
her error. She must compensate quickly. She lifted her head
and gazed into Rhynne's eyes.
"And I love thee as well!" She kissed Rhynne more fervently in an
attempt to make up for her mistake. She pulled away and repeated,
"I love thee very much!"
At first, Rin was puzzled by Arturia's enthusiastic and somewhat
frantic kisses, but she forgot her confusion when she noticed how cute
Arturia was when she said those three words. She wrapped her arms
around Arturia's neck and kissed her back.
They kissed several more times before Arturia's lips left her own and
began to journey down her neck. She squirmed as Arturia caressed
the nape of her neck with her lips. Then those lips traveled
further down until they stopped above her breast. Rin watched
with bated breath as those lips descended.
Rin and Arturia froze. Their faces turned towards the mechanical
bird sitting on the bedside table just beyond the curtain. Rin
narrowed her eyes in annoyance. She extended her index finger and
willed a bolt to shoot out. A dark pellet erupted from her
fingertip and sped across the bed to punch a hole in the curtain.
There was a metallic clang and something skidded across the floor.
"Nicely done..." remarked Arturia.
Rin laughed. "I refused to be disturbed at a time like
this." Airianne and Bedivere would probably wonder why they
missed breakfast. At the thought of those two, she suddenly
remembered last night's conversation in the east wing. She
glanced down in horror to see that Arturia's lips were less than an
inch away from its destination. With lightning speed, she shifted
her hands and pushed Arturia away. She grabbed a nearby bed sheet
and covered her front. Arturia's face was painted with
disappointment. Her eyes were already asking why.
"Mine apologies... but I must tell thee something." Rin told
Arturia about the map in Airianne's study and how it can show its user
where a person is in the Aerie and what that person was doing.
Arturia's eyes grew in alarm.
"They can see us?!" exclaimed Arturia sharply.
"Yea... tis possible."
"Canst thou use magic to foil it?"
"Mayhap... but I can not guarantee that it will succeed. I am
unfamiliar with the inner workings of the map."
They fell silent for several moments. Arturia broke the silence
by punching the bed. She spoke through gritted teeth.
"This means... that we can not stay here. We will have to find a
place secure from prying eyes."
"Ahhhhhh!!! A pity! So close!" wailed Airianne.
Bedivere dispelled the image above the map. "Cease thy
lament. Thou may not complain since thou told her about the map
last night." She paused in thought. "If thou wisheth to
observe them, then why didst thou tell her?"
Airianne explained her logic. "If I dinna tell her, tis mine
fault for eavesdropping. If she knows, then tis her fault for not
remembering." She looked at Bedivere slyly. "But ye... ye
dinna stop me. Ye sat there and watched as well. Why?"
"Watch thy tone with thy elders, lass." scolded Bedivere
sternly. Airianne shrank back in response. Bedivere
regarded her for a moment before grinning wickedly. "To answer
thy question, firstly, I thought that twould be a nice compliment to
thy education in Advanced Charms and Allure. And secondly, twould
save thy mothers the embarrassment of instructing thee in such
matters. And thirdly..." Her lips curled to a sly
smile. "...tis refreshing to see a maid in love."
"Aye, I agree."
They giggled like giddy maidens. Finally, Bedivere regained her
composure and stood up. "Arturia did well... except for those
three little words. They will be preparing to come to breakfast
now. Let us go and lay the food upon the table."
"Oh..." whispered Airianne nervously. "About that... I...
dinna bake anything this morning..."
Bedivere's jaw fell. "What?!" She scrutinized Airianne who
shrank back in her chair. "Thou... how long hast thou been
Airianne twiddled her fingers and refused to meet Bedivere's
stare. "I wasn't sure when they would continue from last night...
Bedivere turned pale. She grabbed Airianne's arm and marched
towards the kitchen.
"Sir Bedivere!" cried Airianne as Bedivere yanked her along.
Bedivere faced her with piercing eyes. "Hast thou e'er seen
"Nay..." Airianne trembled slightly.
"Then pray you ne'er will. We have less than half an hour.
Exhaust thy skill and make breakfast within that time. I will
assist thee. And let us hope that their suspicions will not be
She tiptoed cautiously. Her clothes barely rustled as she made
her way to her target. Finally, with less than two feet to go,
she reached out to trap her prey.
Her hands encircled Rhynne's waist from behind and she whispered in her
ear. "Boo." She felt Rhynne straighten up in
surprise. She smiled. Mission accomplished.
"Thou startled me!" exclaimed Rin who dropped her feather duster.
"Shall I help thee finish thy chores?"
"Nay. Tis only a little bit left to do." Rin's eyes
wandered to the harp hanging on the wall. "But... there art other
things here that thou can use to work thy idle hands."
"Mine hands art not idle, Milady..." Her fingers reached up and
found the knot of her bodice. She began to unravel it.
"Arturia!" cried Rin with indignation.
Arturia laughed. She should not ought to, but she loved the look
on Rhynne's face.
Rin quickly retied the knot. She still was not used to this
playful Arturia. She put her hand on hers and asked
jokingly, "Mine dearest, how am I suppose to finish when thou
hast me trapped in thy embrace?"
Arturia solved her dilemma by saying, "Use magic."
It was possible. She preferred to conserve her mana, but the
amount of mana needed to finish her chore would be negligible since the
sitting room was not that dusty. She waved her hand to activate
the cleaning spell, and the feather duster rose up and attacked a patch
of dust. Then she turned in place to face Arturia and wrapped her
arms around her neck.
They exchanged several sweet kisses before Arturia pulled away and
hugged her tightly. "Ah, the day wears on so slowly! If I
could advance the hands of time, twould be tomorrow by now."
Rhynne smiled. They decided to go to the lake early in the
morning. She blushed. Based on what happened this morning,
they would probably continue where they left off. And only God
knows how far they would go.
A brief glance at her watch told her that it was about three
o'clock. How will they pass the time? Perhaps, they could
go to the lake now instead of later.
"When thy chores art finished..." whispered Arturia near her ear.
"Shall we go to the lake?"
Rin giggled at their coincidental thoughts. "I was thinking the
same thing." The feather duster lay idle on top of the
cabinet. The dusting was done. She beckoned it to come to
her and caught it in her hand. "Mine chores art finished." she
Arturia drew back, her eyes shining with excitement. Then she
kissed Rhynne soundly. "Let us pack right away!"
They had walked halfway to the entrance of the west wing when they
heard a loud noise from the direction of the great hall. The
instruments hanging on the wall shook slightly. They exchanged
questioning looks before running to the great hall.
A dark shape loomed outside the semi-transparent walls of the great
hall. From its shadow, it appeared to have wings. It
dropped something. There was a loud thud from the ceiling and Rin
saw chunks of rock fall to the floor of the hall. To her great
horror, she realized that it was dropping boulders on the
"Arturia..." said Rin in a shaking voice. "find Lady
"But what about thee? I can not leave thee here when that
creature is out there!"
"I will run when it becomes too dangerous to stay here. Whilst
thou search for Lady Airianne, I will devise a way to strengthen the
walls. But Lady Airianne must know, for she may have a way of
fending off this creature."
Arturia did not want to leave Rhynne, but her argument made
sense. She reluctantly nodded. "I will be back anon."
She ran out of the great hall.
Rin went to the wall nearest to the source of the attack. She
placed her hand on its surface and tried to sense the mana flow.
If she could redirect that mana to harden the stone instead of making
it transparent, then she could strengthen the ceiling until Airianne
comes. She concentrated in detecting it. When she
synchronized with it, she was awed by the complexity of the flow.
She was even more amazed when she detected an enchantment that
converted the heat from the sun into mana which in turn was used to
maintain the transparency spell. It was truly the work of a
She tried to change the mana flow on a small portion of the wall.
After a few attempts, the stone became less transparent. She
adjusted the flow a few times to achieve more density. She
exhaled with relief at her efforts.
"Levitiam." She floated towards the affected ceiling and put her
hand on it. She closed her eyes to prevent debris from falling
into them and chanted a spell to change the mana flow to the one that
she had figured out. The ceiling became more opaque starting from
her hand to a diameter of about twenty feet. That was the extent
of her spell. She would have to move to another section to change
To her great relief, the next attack on the ceiling sounded more
muffled and did not cause as much debris. She floated down and
moved away from the attacked area. There were several more
attacks before the creature stopped.
Footsteps behind her announced the arrival of Airianne and
Arturia. Airianne looked up at the opaque ceiling and the dark
form beyond the walls. She turned to Rin.
"Mine thanks. Ye did what ye can. But we must call upon
Mother. If anything happens, run to the lowest level. There
is an enchanted cell there. Lock thyselves within it." She
fetched up her skirt and ran out.
A few moments later, Bedivere came running in with her large
sword. She looked up at the ceiling with narrowed eyes. Rin
explained to her what was going on. She drew her sword.
"Mayhap, thou should..."
There was a large hiss and the wall melted away to grant a gruesome
black dragon entrance. As it descended, it began to
transform. By the time it reached the ground, it had transformed
into an old woman in an elegant gold and black robe.
"At last, I found ye, Arthur. At last, I will have mine
revenge." The old woman held out a hand whose fingers bore many
rings. The rings began to glow and dark energy began to cackle
around them. "Die."
Black lightning sped towards them. Rin pushed Arturia aside and
quickly erected a barrier. Upon impact, Rin's arms trembled and
she stumbled back at the sheer amount of force. But she held her
ground until the lightning dissipated.
"I see... Merlyn hath left a guard." She raised her other
hand. "No matter. Only Merlyn is mine equal." She
began to weave her hands.
Rin slipped a hand under her bodice and detached the jewel in her
necklace. A drop of sweat trickled down her forehead. If
the old woman was right, her magic may not be strong enough to protect
them. But there was no other choice. She had to try.
"What hath I done to deserve thy ire, lady?" yelled Arturia.
The old woman stopped for a moment to stare at Arturia. "After
all these years, ye ask that! Ye, the usurping bastard! How
dare ye mock me!"
"I mock ye not, for mine memory hath faileth me! Who art ye,
The old woman stared at Arturia for a few seconds. "So... the
battle struck ye dumb. Very well, I will tell ye, so that ye will
know mine pain." She stretched out her hands her sides.
"Behold, and see what ye hath done to me, yer own sister!"
Now, it was Arturia's turn to stare. "What...?" was all she
could utter. Meanwhile, Rin took the opportunity to prepare a
"How did I come to this? Tis by yer fault. I am the
legitimate child of our father whilst ye wert begat by adulterous
means. And so by custom, as first born, the throne should come to
me." Her voice rose to a thunder and the walls shook with her
anger. "But ye had that meddling Merlyn enchant the stone to draw
Caliburn! With Caliburn in yer hand, ye fooled the lords to give
ye the throne while, I, true heir to the noble line of Pendragon, was
set aside to marry a wanton duke!"
She drew a few deep breaths and continued her tale. "But I was
patient. When yer queen gave birth to Lancelot's child, I gave a
kinswoman mine own child to raise as her own, knowing that Merlyn will
seek to exchange the queen's child with one that resembled ye.
So, e'en if I could not have the throne, mine dear Mordred would take
it. And thus shall the noble line of Pendragon reclaim the
throne. As I predicted, Merlyn came and took the child.
News of the birth spread, and the kingdom rejoiced that yer queen hath
finally given ye a fine heir. But Mordred aged faster than ye and
there was no sign that ye would give up the throne. So I had mine
spyes arrange for Mordred to steal Avalon and delivered unto her an
enchanted blade and armor. Then I caused mine host to lure ye to
battle where Mordred shall claim victory."
Suddenly, her cheek contorted horribly. Rin watched in horror as
she noticed something writhing under her wrinkled skin.
"But, twas not to be! For days, I waited to hear news of
Mordred's victory, but instead, I heard defeat! I rushed to the
battlefield and found her broken body and on it, the wound that caused
her death. Twas the wound caused by yer blade, Excalibur!
But the fates wert against me, for as I left the battlefield, a portal
opened and a bolt of dark magic hit me. It was a trap set by that
insufferable Merlyn! For many days, I nursed mine wounds in the
forest. Although that vile Saxon spell destroyed mine beauty,
mine strength hath returned with mine anger ten-fold."
"With mine strength renewed, I tried to find ye. I searched many
towns high and low for ye. By chance, I happened to overhear a
farmhand telling a tale about a girl wielding a large blade that can
Her eyes alighted on Bedivere. "That can only be yer Stone
Cleaver. Stone Cleaver will ne'er acknowledge a lesser knight
than its master."
Her malignant gaze returned to Arturia. "I asked the farmhand to
tell me whither he hath heard this tale. And so, I came to this
valley in most haste. And now, I finally found ye."
She resumed casting her spell. "Ye wert conceived in sin and ye
reigned in sin. Die, Arthur. Die knowing mine sorrow and
the sins that ye hath wrought. Die, ye usurping bastard!
Rin pulled her hand out and held the red jewel before her.
"Raging Soul!" she cried out.
The old woman's spell hit a barrier with such force that a small
shockwave from the impact knocked down several vases in the hall.
Arturia shielded her eyes from the brightness of the impact. When
the light had cleared, Rin stood unscathed and clad in a small black
cloak and black leather armor with red straps. A silver cross was
emblazoned on her chest armor. In her hand, she raised a short
handled silver scythe. A fist sized red orb was embedded in the
widest part the scythe.
"Ye'll have to go through me first, old hag." said Rin menacingly.
"And me as well, thou gorbellied pox-marked strumpet!" yelled
"Old hag!? Strumpet!!" The old woman simmered with
anger. "I will make ye regret those words, both of ye!" She
erected a wide barrier. Then she took out a twisted dagger and
cut her forearm open. Gray ooze dripped out and sizzled as each
drop hit the floor.
Rin motioned them back. "Sir Bedivere, take Arturia to the lowest
level. There is a secure room there."
"Nay. I cannot leave thee. I will fight with thee."
"If thou must help, protect Arturia. Move to the next room.
She is summoning shades. Do not help me. Thou will only get
in mine way."
Bedivere nodded and carried Arturia who seemed to be in a state of
shock. Rin gritted her teeth as she saw several shades slowly
shape themselves into armed knights. Behind her, she could hear
the sound of furniture being moved. She exhaled with relief when
she realized that Bedivere was trying to form a barricade. She
let the end of staff elongate until it hit the floor. "It's now
or never." She held the staff with her left hand and cast a
barrier behind her.
Then she ran to the nearest tree and plucked a leaf. She put it
to her lips and whistled an ancient melody. Hopefully, her brief
training as a miko at Ise jingu would be enough. To her great
relief, the nearby trees began to respond. Their branches
contorted and bundled up together to form makeshift arms. The
trees stepped out of their large pots to stand on misshapen feet which
were formed by bunched up roots. Rin grimaced. She was only
able to get five. It would have to do.
Just beyond the barrier, Rin could see the fully formed shades.
The odds were three to one. She directed her trees to the
forefront. Then she pulled out a dispenser of jade beads from her
pouch and attached it to her belt. The barrier fell. The
old woman's eyes narrowed when she saw the trees.
"Give me Arthur, girl, and I will let ye live."
"Never! Begone, vile witch, lest I send ye to the deepest bowels
of hell to consort with yer putrid host."
"So be it!" The shades charged.
[Author's note: Recommended listening: Tenchi houkou,
Fate/stay Night Animation Original Soundtrack]
"Go!" cried Rin in Japanese. The trees crashed into the
shades and swung their stout limbs. Several shades were knocked
back. The shades swung their dark swords and hacked at the
trees. Rin ran to the left, away from the fighting.
"A Saxon witch?! Didst ye teach Merlyn that vile Saxon
spell?" demanded the witch after she heard Rin speak. Then
she grinned maliciously. "No matter. I have a spell to burn
heathens like ye." She began gesturing.
Rin shot a bolt from her finger and blew off the sword arm of a
shade. The arm landed on the floor and dissolved into a puddle of
muck. Meanwhile, the end of her staff scratched the first
Half a dozen yellow orbs of light flickered around the witch. She
pointed at Rin. "Sunburst!"
The orbs raced toward Rin. Rin hastily erected a temporary
barrier and the orbs hit it with a great booming crash. She
counted five. She glanced left and right and then up. It
was coming down. She leaned sideways and raised her hand to shoot
a quick bolt. The bolt and the orb met but the bolt was too weak
to cancel out the orb. The stray energy hit Rin's hand and she
screamed in pain. A quick glance at her hand told her that it was
She gritted her teeth and ran to the left again. Her hand took a
bead from the dispenser. She aimed and shot a bolt at a
shade. Then she shot the bead at the north wall. It
embedded itself into the wall upon impact. She continued shooting
bolts at the orbs until the end of her staff etched the second glyph on
The orbs were annoying. She needed a distraction. At her
silent command, one of the trees broke away from the shades and
lumbered towards the witch. Rin intensified her attack on the
witch and hoped that she would not notice. Amazingly enough, she
did not and was struck down by a swinging limb.
Rin ran to the left and etched the third glyph. She ran again to
risk etching the fourth. While she did so the witch gestured and
fired a dozen orbs at the tree. The tree burst into flames.
Suddenly, Rin had an idea.
She pointed at a nearby lamp. "Kinensis!" The lamp tore
itself from the wall and splashed its oily contents on the witch.
Rin made a fist and flicked her hand open. "Zerborsten!"
The tree exploded, showering sharp splinters and flame on the witch.
The witch screamed as she was impaled with wooden shards and her
clothes caught fire. She fell to her knees and tried to put out
the fire with her hands. Several shades came to her aid and tried
to smother the flames. Meanwhile, Rin ran about and etched the
fifth, sixth and seventh glyph. She emptied her dispenser and
shot beads at the walls. When she was done, there was a bead
embedded in the northwest wall, the west wall, the southwest wall, the
south wall, the southeast wall, the east wall and the northeast
wall. Then she took out a cylinder. "Kinensis..." she
whispered. She willed it roll toward the witch.
The shades supported the witch as she tried to stand up. Half her
hair was burned. A cut on her skin oozed gray goo. Her
tattered robe smoldered. The only flame left was in her
eyes. "Ye'll pay fer that!" she screamed. She
gestured towards Rin and all the remaining shades charged.
Rin ran behind a potted tree. "Spear form!" The scythe
blade elongated. She had to buy enough time for her trees to make
it over. "Schild!" A ghostly silver shield appeared in
front of her. It deflected the blows coming to her front.
The shield would not be good enough to deflect all the blows. Rin
wished that she had enough skill to maintain two barriers. She
would have to deal with the other attacks herself.
"Eile!" As the Haste spell took effect, she felt adrenaline pump
through her body. A shade attacked her side. Her movements
were a blur as she parried the attack. Then she impaled it.
To finish it off, she fired a bolt to destroy its head.
There were several explosions in the direction of the sitting
room. Rin hoped that the barrier would hold. She speared
another shade. Eight more were left. Only a little longer,
and her trees would be here. More explosions occurred. She
felt a sudden chill, indicating that the barrier was weakening and more
mana would be needed to sustain it. Her hand dove into her jewel
pouch and grabbed several jewels.
The barrier faded for an instant and a shade rushed through.
Bedivere met its charge and sliced it to bits. Its pieces melted
into dark puddles on the floor.
Rin threw the jewels towards the barrier. "Freiwerden!"
The jewels hit the barrier and it glowed with renewed mana. The
witch stared at the barrier until understanding crept into her twisted
face. She turned to Rin. Orbs began to multiply around
Rin concentrated and commanded her trees to grab the shades.
Three shades were captured. The trees turned and positioned
themselves between the witch and her. Meanwhile, Rin frantically
speared and shot the other four. Suddenly, the shades withdrew
and began to merge into one large shade with four hands. Each
hand held a long spear instead of a sword.
At the sight of it, Rin cursed her luck. She no longer had the
advantage of reach. She quickly transferred several jewels from
her pouch into the red orb of her spear. "Double spear
form!" Another spearhead formed on the other end of the
staff. She needed to take it down before the witch decided to
fire those orbs.
She did not get a chance to. The orbs sped towards her.
Some hit the trees and the captured shades while others hit the large
shade and potted tree. The rest hit her ghostly shield which
moved frantically to block each orb. The shield shook with each
impact and began to weaken with each hit. Rin held up her hand to
reinforce it, but before she could do so, the large shade ran up to her
and attacked with all four spears at the same time. The shield
caught two spears. Rin spun the spear like a propeller and
chopped off the other two. Then she braced her spear and drove it
into the shade. Lightning arced from the spear and its intensity
fried shade from within. The shade began to dissolve. A
flash of light just beyond the dissolving shade caught her eye.
She tried to dodge as quickly as she could. But she did not react
Rin screamed in pain as an orb grazed the left side of her face.
The scent of burnt hair and flesh filled her nostrils.
"Now ye know how it feels like to be burned." said the witch
darkly. More orbs began to form around her.
"Kinensis!" The leftover chunks of trees flew towards the
witch. Some of the orbs were fired to destroy the chunks.
Rin tried to ignore the pain and gritted her teeth. She must
finish before the spell ran out. In a blur, she ran to the left
and quickly etched out the last glyph with the blade of her
With her good eye, she located the cylinder near the witch's
feet. "Bind!" The cylinder broke open and spewed a
gelatinous substance all over the witch. It quickly
hardened and the witch struggled against it. With the witch
trapped, she released the Haste spell and ran to a corner. She
raised her hand and yelled in Japanese, "Eight Mansions of Earth lend
me your strength!"
The jade beads began to glow. The stone around them reverted to
its natural form. Streams of mana began to form, joining each
bead with the other beads. She willed the silvery web of mana to settle
on the floor.
Meanwhile, the hardened substance on the witch began to crack.
"Staff form!" Then she raised the staff high into the air and
chanted, "Mysteros porta... expositus!" A thunderous roar
resounded through the hall when she struck the butt end of the staff
against the floor.
The glyphs glowed as they absorbed the streams of mana. A dark
chasm opened underneath the witch. Meanwhile, the substance flew
off the witch in pieces. She was free.
The left side of Rin's face throbbed in pain. She did not dare
open her left eye. Anger welled up inside her and shaped the
spell that leapt off the tip of her tongue. "Flammentod!"
Red flames erupted from the chasm and enveloped the witch. It
rose through the air and reached as high as the ceiling. The
pressure generated by the intense heat lifted the witch's body five
feet into the air.
The witch's hair was the first to go, followed by her clothes.
Her eyes rolled back and smoke drifted from her open but silent
mouth. Her skin turned to the consistency of charcoal.
Drops of sweat fell from Rin's forehead as she tried to maintain the
spell. The pain on her face fueled her anger and encouraged her
even more. On her left arm, her magic seal flared bright green as
she poured more mana into the spell. She would not stop until
only ashes remained.
Suddenly, a large eagle swooped down from the hole in the ceiling and
flew towards her. Before she could react, the eagle landed on her
staff and pulled it down with its weight. Then the eagle began to
morph. To her great astonishment, it transformed into
With her concentration broken, the spell ended and the dark chasm
closed, leaving behind the charred remains of a skeleton.
"Tis enough lass." said Merlyn softly.
"Merlyn! Thank God!" Tears of relief flowed freely from her
right eye and stung her left.
"Let me look at ye..." Merlyn reached over and gingerly touched
Rin winced and hoped for a good diagnosis.
"Tis not that bad. If we..."
There was a loud crash behind them. Rin turned around to see
several chairs on the floor. Arturia leapt over and sprinted
towards the smoldering heap in the middle of the hall.
"Stop her, Bedivere!" yelled Merlyn.
Bedivere dropped her sword and tackled Arturia. They fell soundly
on the floor.
"Let me go!" screamed Arturia as she wrestled Bedivere. "I
must save her! I must save Morgan!"
Merlyn grabbed Rin's arm. She gestured at the furniture piled at
the doorway and caused it to move aside. They walked briskly into
the sitting room to where Airianne stood. Merlyn put her hand on
Airianne's cheek. "Take her to Wybrenne. Dinna let her
leave the east wing."
Airianne nodded. She took Rin's hand in hers and led her towards
the hallway to the east wing.
As she walked with Airianne, Rin heard Merlyn say, "Cease this,
Arturia. Tis too late to save her."
"Nay! That cannot be! Ye must try, Merlyn! Please!"
"She was already dying. Nothing can be done."
"Is yer magic for naught? If ye refuse to save her, then I
will! Let me go! What art ye doing?! Nay!
Stop! Stop! Morgan! Morgaaaan!!!"
Rin's step faltered and she turned her head toward the sitting
room. But Airianne's hand firmly gripped hers. "Come, Lady
Rhynne. Please. Trust Mother."
Her logic and her heart warred with one another. A loud wail of
grief and rage penetrated the air. Her heart won. Rin tried
to shake Airianne's hand off, but Airianne held on tightly.
"Mother!" yelled Airianne.
A sharp jolt ran from Airianne's hand and into Rin's body. The
room swam around her and her knees buckled. Merlyn's voice echoed
in her ears. "Stubborn lass..." A second jolt came and she
promptly passed out.
When Rin woke up, she found herself on a bed. The dark valley
indicated that she probably slept into the night. Her hand rose
to her face and confirmed that it was bandaged. Her burned hand
was also bandaged. Her eyes alighted on Merlyn who sat on a chair
next to the bed.
"How do ye feel?"
Rin slowly sat up. "A bit dizzy..." Since she could move,
she tried to get out of bed.
"Where art ye going?"
"I have to see Arturia."
"Nay. Ye must stay here."
"She is not herself at the moment."
"Then I must go to her and help!" Rin threw off the covers and
swung her legs over the side of the bed.
Merlyn grabbed her arm and spoke firmly. "Nay. Do
not. Ye killed her only sister. Ye art the reason why she
At those words, Rin held her breath. Her shoulders slumped at the
horrible reality of Merlyn's statement. She had killed her
beloved's sister. She was so intent on protecting Arturia from a
witch who had schemed to overthrow her that she ignored the fact that
she was her sister.
Merlyn watched sadly as Rhynne's face turned pale. She stood up
and gently guided Rhynne to lie down on the bed. "Rest now.
Ye art injured. Once again, tis important fer ye to stay in the
east wing. Dinna go out without me or Airianne."
Rin nodded dumbly. Merlyn turned to leave. Before she
exited the room, Rin called out, "Please, tell me how Arturia is right
"Her body is uninjured. But her spirit..." Merlyn's voice
dripped with sadness. "Her spirit hast suffered a terrible
blow. It will take time to mend. But be at ease for
Bedivere is with her. She will watch over her well."
"Mine thanks." said Rin. She swallowed and steeled herself
against Merlyn's wrath. Her words tumbled out
apprehensively. "And... I am so sorry about the hall..."
Merlyn expelled a sigh that betrayed her sense of loss. "What's
done is done. But fret not. Tis much more important to me
that all of ye are safe." She stood up. "Rest now. We
shall speak more in the morn."
Rin blinked back her tears of relief. "I thank ye fer yer
Merlyn simply nodded. She doused the lamps, exited and closed the
She tried to sleep but her efforts were in vain. In her delirium,
she witnessed the mage battle again and again. Arturia's stricken
face would flash before her and ask, "Why?"
"I'm sorry, Arturia... I'm so sorry..." Her restraint was
spent. She turned towards the wall and wept into her pillow.
"Come hither, mine love." Wybrenne extended her hand to invite
Merlyn to bed. "Thy countenance speaks of a troubled heart."
Merlyn took her hand gently and sat down next to her. She
sighed. "All hast come undone. Rhynne and Syrowe must go
"But I thought that thou hath approved of the match!"
"Now I cannae do so. Rhynne hast shown that she can be tempted by
power. She knowst dark magic and casts it without thought of the
"She was merely protecting the one she loved. Thou did not see
"She should have waited fer me to come."
"Didst she know that thou wert coming?"
The question startled Merlyn. She had assumed that Airianne had
told Rhynne that she was coming. She had to make sure. Her
mind reached out to Airianne. From her memories, she saw that
Rhynne had erected a barrier and Airianne did not get a chance to tell
her. She cursed at the awful timing of the events and rubbed her
temples in exasperation.
"Nay... she did not." Then she added stubbornly, "She should have
known better though."
"Tis the folly of youth. Forgive her."
"Nay, I cannae risk the chance of more folly when Arturia is
involved. The lure of power is great, e'en with pure magic.
I hath hoped that she hath enough wisdom despite her youth."
"Then instruct her."
Merlyn shook her head vigorously. "I hath spent a lifetime
watching over a nation of whelps. Tis time I returned to ye and
Wybrenne's eyes glistened at her words. The thought of having her
Merlyn home again filled her heart with joy. But the image of
Rhynne fighting alone against a mob of shades would not leave her
mind. "I am glad to hear it. But... since she cannot return
without Syrowe, why not lend her thy counsel until Syrowe
returns? Methinks that she will welcome it better than that curt
speech that thou hath given her."
As always, Wybrenne was too kind. Merlyn's eyes misted over as
she cupped Wybrenne's hand within both of her own. Even though
she had clearly indicated that she wanted to devote all her time with
her, Wybrenne had subtly suggested that she did not have to. "I
will, if she asks fer it."
"Tis well then." She stroked Merlyn's cheek with her other
hand. "Now come unto me. I will have thee smile before we
Merlyn smiled widely as she crawled to her place on the bed. With
a wave of her hand, she doused the lamps and drew the curtains
shut. Tonight, she was not Merlyn, the Mage Paramount.
Tonight, she was Wybrenne's wife.
Around mid-morning, Merlyn went to check on Rhynne. Rhynne sat on
a chair which was turned towards the valley. She rose to meet her.
"Good morning." replied Rhynne.
"Feeling better now?"
"Yea." She paused for a moment. "Merlyn..."
"May I speak with ye?"
"What's on yer mind?"
Rin's eyes turned towards the floor. "About yesterday... I hath
heard ye say that Morgan was dying. Was it true?"
"Aye. Did ye not see the corruption of her flesh?"
"Could she still be saved?"
"Nay." Merlyn observed her expressions. Rhynne seemed to be
debating within herself. Merlyn waited patiently for a
suspected that Morgan was using dark magic to create the illusion of
youth at the expense of introducing a small amount of its foul taint
into her body. An examination of Morgan's remains proved her
theory. However, her examination also revealed that Rhynne's
Gandr Fyre disrupted Morgan's enchantments which reversed its youthful
effect and combined with Gandr to amplify the existing taint within
her. But her condition was not Rhynne's fault. It was her
portal that directed Rhynne's spell out of the inn. Morgan just
happened to be on that battlefield when her portal opened. Fate
was strange indeed.
Rhynne lifted her face. "But the fact that I killed her makes
mine sin no less." She walked to the wall and looked down at the
valley. "I hath never killed before. What would ye have
Merlyn's eyebrows arched in surprise. There may be hope after all.
"I would have tried to stop her rampage and let her die of the
corruption which courses through her blood."
Rhynne faced her once more. "Then please, teach me. Teach
me so that I will never kill again."
Merlyn shook her head. "E'en I have to kill sometimes. I
have nothing to teach ye."
"Ye art the most powerful mage in the realm! Ye must know
"Nay! I am not a god!" exclaimed Merlyn loudly.
Rhynne shrank back at the ferocity of her words. Merlyn cursed
herself for letting her emotions take over. She did not want to
be associated with power. She had seen too many good mages fall
into its fell embrace. The very memory sickened her. She
composed herself and cleared her throat. She put her hand on
Rhynne's shoulder and spoke slowly and softly. "Mages art not
gods. The magic that we wield should ne'er be confused with power
At the sight of Rhynne's contrite expression, she was reminded by
Wybrenne's suggestion. She really did not want to spend less time
with Wybrenne, but she had made her promise. She could spare a
little time. "Although her body could not be saved, there may
still be a chance to save her spirit. If ye can save her spirit,
then she can journey to the otherworld in peace." She
paused. "But to do so is difficult. I can only show ye the
paths that I have taken to achieve that end."
Rhynne's eyes lit up with hope. "Then, I would be glad to hear
yer wisdom!" She blushed and looked away slightly. "That
is, if it is not inconvenient for ye."
Merlyn smiled slightly at her enthusiasm. She raised her palm and
an amulet with a leather strap appeared on it. "Then I accept ye
as mine apprentice." She unwound the strap and held it over
Rhynne's head. "Will ye accept me as yer master and do mine
"Yea." Rhynne's face was solemn and determined.
Merlyn put the amulet around her neck. "Follow me to Airianne's
study. Yer instruction begins today."
Arturia tried the door handle. The door opened. Grimly, she
walked into Rhynne's room. She went to the nearest dresser and
pulled out a drawer. It was empty. Methodically, she opened
all the drawers and cabinets. They were all empty. Her eyes
wandered through the room. She spotted a garland of dried flowers
on a table. She went to the table and picked up the
garland. Petals crumbled and fell to the floor at her
touch. She stared at it for a moment.
Then she crushed the garland within her fists. Her face contorted
with rage and she pulled her hands apart, snapping the fragile vine
which held the garland together. The pieces of the garland
scattered about. She took several deep breaths before collapsing
to her knees.
She looked at her hands where the several dried petals still
clung. Tears burst forth from her eyes. She wept into her
hands and wailed a cry of deep sorrow.
Chapter 11 Omake
Arturia: *sob* *sob* *sniff*
Bedivere: There, there... Merlyn hath sealed the evil Saxon
witch. Now come into mine arms and let me console thee...
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