The King and Her Queen
Chapter 14: The Throne of Heroes
"Good news... the Chief Druid hath divined an auspicious date fer the
ritual. He suggested that we cast it on the third Sunday from
now. And, he also suggests that ye arrive on November 25,
2011. We shall leave for Stonehenge on the third Saturday."
Rin forced a smile. "Tis good news indeed, Master, but art ye
sure that I am ready?"
"Aye... if ye art not, ye will be, e'en if we have to work night and
Internally, Rin cringed at the thought. "If ye say so, Master."
Merlyn looked out to the valley. "Besides... tis not well to rely
on that spell to keep her here. We cannae know when it will
fail. Twas luck that Airianne was with her when she started to
fade." She faced Rin with a grim expression. "Ye shouldna
rely on luck."
Rin nodded. "Yea, Master. What should we study now?"
Merlyn scanned through the pile of scrolls, picked some out and handed
them to Rin. "Illusion and Mana masking. Ye dinna want to
be hounded by the Einzbern after ye free her spirit. Study
these. I will be back in two hours and ye can practice what ye
"As ye wish, Master."
"Art ye still angry with me?"
Arturia ignored her and pretended to read her book. She heard
Airianne sigh and watched her leave the rose garden.
She returned about ten minutes later with a tray of tea and strawberry
scones. Damn Bedivere. She must have told her.
Airianne smiled winsomely and put the tray on the table next to
her. She carefully poured some tea into one of the two cups on
the tray. Arturia shifted on her cot so that her back was towards
She heard Airianne's shuffling steps behind her. The scrape of a
stool and the click of shears indicated that she had resumed her
pruning of the rose bushes.
Arturia was prepared to ignore her offering of peace. However, a
familiar scent wafted in the air. Unable to believe her nose, she
paused her reading and slowly turned around towards the table.
She went over to the table and lifted the teacup to her nose.
Then she cooled the tea with a few puffs of breath and sipped it.
A sense of nostalgia swept over her. There was no doubt. It
"Whither didst ye get this tea?"
Airianne looked up and smiled. "From Rhynne. Tis tea from a
plant that only grows in the land of Nee-hun. Is it to thy
Arturia paled. She stared at the tea. "Yea..." If the
plant only grew in Nee-hun, then did that mean that she was there
before? Or, did Rhynne visit Britain before and serve her tea
during her forgotten past?
Airianne was confused by the changing expressions on Arturia's
face. She was sullen, then surprised and then disturbed.
She noted how she stared at the tea. Something about the tea
"Pray, if the tea is not to thy liking, then dinna drink it out of
politeness. I will not be offended by yer refusal."
"Nay... tis not so... I do like it." She slurped it to reassure
Airianne. The feeling of nostalgia rose within her once
more. She held the cup between both of her hands and stared at it
again. "I like it very much."
Arturia's face seemed more pensive, with a twinge of sadness in her
eyes. Airianne sensed that Arturia did not want to talk, so she
simply said, "I am glad. Please feel free to have more." Then she
resumed her chores.
Arturia stared at the blank handkerchief before her. She did not
know what to write. Or rather, she was afraid to write. A
part of her wanted to know more about Rhynne, while another part of her
suggested patience. She glanced at the clock. She had been
sitting for the past thirty minutes and wrote nothing. With a
small cry of frustration, she stood up, threw herself upon her bed and
pounded it with clenched fists. After much pounding, she felt a
She needed to clear her head somehow. Her feet guided her into
the sitting room while her hands fetched the harp from the wall.
She sat down on a stuffed armchair. Her eyes closed while her
fingers began to strum a soothing melody, but somehow, the notes rushed
forth like a torrential downpour that matched the storm in her heart.
She played and played until her fingers were sore. When she
opened her eyes, she noticed Bedivere sitting nearby.
Bedivere simply smiled slightly and asked, "What disturbs thee?"
"Nothing... I merely wisheth to play."
"Is that so?" Bedivere paused and assessed whether she could
press Arturia. She decided to try. "Then, thou will not
mind continuing where we left off."
"Thy first kiss... and thereafter."
Arturia's cheeks began to flush. "Canst we speak of something
Arturia's bowed head and hunched shoulders touched a soft spot in
Bedivere's heart. She sighed. "Oh, very well..." Her
eyes glanced at the locked door to the great hall. "What dost
thou thinkst of Rhynne?"
Arturia's eyes lit up. At last, a question that she was not
ashamed to answer. She closed her eyes and remembered the first
time that Rhynne bandaged her.
"I like how she touches me... tis so gentle. Tis as if she was
trying to care for a fragile babe. I like the fragrance of her
hair." She paused for a moment as she remembered the cause of her
distress before continuing. "Tis a soothing scent that makes me
want to caress those raven locks and bring it up to mine face."
She smiled warmly at the memory of Rhynne dozing in the wagon.
"When she's asleep, tis like an innocent babe. I feel like... I
want to protect her." And at that time, she did in her own way,
even though the imagined peril was a swaying wagon over a rocky
path. It was a bit difficult to scout over to where she sat, but
she managed to do it. Holding her under that quilted blanket
seemed so natural.
She remembered the first night in which they slept together in the same
bed. The next morning, the first thing that she saw was her
face. She lay there and watched Rhynne until she opened her
eyes. As Rhynne whispered her morning greeting, the smile that
graced her face brightened the room. It was then that she decided
the boon that she wanted: that she must be with her when it was
time to sleep for a week. "Her presence soothes mine troubled
heart, especially during those nights when mine terrible dreams shook
my sleep. Tis a joy to have her near."
Then she recalled the nightly stories and plays which she
narrated. "I love the sound of her voice, her grace, her
manner... Her stories art so entertaining. And when she acts, tis
as if she were that person in the play."
Bedivere nodded. "I am in accord with thee. I hath seen
many plays, and her acting is superior to most."
"Verily so! Dost thou recall 'The Maiden and the Green Knight?'"
"Yea, she played two roles side by side, and one can still distinguish
the old woman and the maid."
"Precisely." Arturia sighed and strummed an aimless tune on her
harp. "I miss those nights."
"So doth I..." Bedivere leaned back into her chair and grinned
widely. "Thy affection for her seems deep, but art thou sure tis
not a passing fancy?"
Arturia stopped strumming and shook her head. "Nay... I hath
ne'er felt anything like this for another person. E'en though we
hath met scarcely five months ago, I feel as if I hath known her
longer. I want to be with her, to sense her presence
nearby. And when she holds me in her arms, I feel as if I belong
there. Is that strange?"
"Not at all. Tis what I expect from a maid in love." A
corner of her mouth curved slyly. "That assumes, of course...
that thou art still a maid."
"Of course, I am! Thou knowst that I did not lay with Guinevere!"
Suddenly, the sound of rock crashing to the floor reverberated in the
great hall. Arturia stared in horror at the door and then at
Bedivere. She stood up, put the harp down and tried to open the
door. It was locked.
"Should we see if we art being assaulted?" she asked Bedivere
"Nay, be at ease. The hall is being repaired. And tis
futile to unlock the door. There is a barrier beyond it."
"Oh. Didst Merlyn hire masons to repair it?"
Bedivere stood up. "Nay. Anyway, mine thanks for thy
song." She strode to the exit of the sitting room.
"Then... who is repairing the hall?"
Bedivere answered over her shoulder. "Someone who can restore it."
Arturia ran to the doorway. She cursed when she saw the empty
hallway. It annoyed her that Bedivere was better at hiding
herself than she was at finding her. The Aerie probably had
secret passages just like Camelot and Bedivere used them well.
She marched back to the chair and slouched into it. Bedivere's
words came back to her. The hall was enchanted, so a mere mason
would not be sufficient. A mage would be needed to restore the
There were only two capable mages in the Aerie. She got up to
look for Merlyn and found her with Wybrenne at the Lily pond. She
hurried back to the sitting room and examined the lock on the
door. If only she had the key. Suddenly, she remembered the
loose brick on the top of the kitchen hearth. She had discovered
it while she was cleaning it. She hurried to the kitchen and was
relieved that Airianne was not there. Then she located the brick
at the upper left corner of the hearth and dislodged it. She
grinned in triumph as a small crevice was revealed which contained a
set of keys.
She took the keys and replaced the brick. Then she hurried back
to the sitting room and selected a key that might fit the lock.
She turned the key and the door clicked open. She opened the door
to the great hall. The swaying of a suspended scaffold caught her
attention. Just above the scaffold was the hole that Morgan
created. It was about three-quarters full with new stone.
On the floor below the scaffold were pieces of broken stone.
Cautiously, she tried to peer around the corner of the doorframe, but
her face hit something.
She recoiled back and stared at the empty air of the doorway. She
picked up a nearby cushion and pushed it toward the doorway. It
compressed against an invisible wall. She cursed. Bedivere
did mention a barrier.
"Rhynne..." she called out. "Rhynne... if thou art there,
answer me... please..." Every second of silence pounded a nail
into her heart. After a minute of waiting, she closed the door,
but took care not to let it latch completely. Then she walked
noisily out of the sitting room and into the hallway. She stopped
in the hallway and removed her shoes.
With all the stealth at her command, she crept silently into the
sitting room. When she reached the door, she pressed her ear into
it and listened. She could hear the faint sound of scraping, some
rustling and an occasional creak of wood. If she remembered
correctly, the scaffold was made of wood. She twisted the
doorknob and slowly opened the door to a slit wide enough to peek into
the great hall.
Her heart leapt into her throat. Sitting on the scaffold was
Rhynne. A small orb of light floated above her. Her back
was toward the door and she appeared to be holding a trowel which she
used to scoop some mortar from the box to her right. On her left
was a small pile of irregularly shaped stones about the size of a
teapot. She put the trowel in the box and raised a stone toward
the hole. The stone floated away from her hands and fit into the
outline of newly laid stones. She selected another stone and
scooped up some mortar.
Arturia closed the door. Her thoughts were in turmoil. Why
did Rhynne choose not to reply? She could only surmise that
Merlyn told her not to. She did not know if mages had a code of
honor, but if they did, then Rhynne would be compelled to obey her
master. Furthermore, the door was locked and a barrier was in
place. It indicated that Merlyn did not want anyone in the hall.
Then she recalled Rhynne's lone figure on top of the scaffold.
When did she start repairing the hall? Her heart ached at the
thought of Rhynne spending all those lonely hours in that dark hall,
quietly repairing it stone by stone. It seemed so sad.
Perhaps, that was why Bedivere baited her to talk about Rhynne.
She chuckled to herself as she realized which answer caused Rhynne to
betray her presence in the hall. She walked to her chair, sat
down and picked up the harp. She began to play Rhynne's favorite
melody. At least, she would not be lonely anymore.
[Author's note: Recommended background music: Fate/stay
Night Animation Original Soundtrack, Kishiou no hokori]
Rin paused when she heard the harp. She glanced at the door and
saw that it was closed. The melody tugged at her soul.
Arturia played it for her whenever they were at the lake. Rin
raised her sleeve to wipe a tear from her eye. She thought that
she had left the sitting room. And yet, there she was, playing
for her. Rin remembered the time when Arturia snuck up behind her
without her noticing. This time, she caught her again. She
smiled gratefully and continued her work on the ceiling.
The clock struck three. Arturia had been playing for over an
hour. Her fingers were sore, but she kept playing. She
would play until Rhynne exited the great hall. Suddenly, a hand
tapped her gently on her shoulder. She stopped and looked up to
"Tis enough. She hast gone to study."
"But... I did not see her leave!"
"There is a portal within the hall that sends her back to the east
wing. She need not pass this way."
"I see..." Her face fell with disappointment. She stood up
to hang the harp on the wall.
"Fret not. The hall needs much repair."
Arturia stared sharply at Bedivere before understanding crept into her
mind. "I suppose someone must come by every day to repair
it." she said slyly.
"Verily so. Most likely, after lunch and till about this
time." Bedivere put an arm around her. "And since thou art
idle, why not tell me of more of thy maidenly explorations of Rhynne?"
Mana flowed from Rin's palm into the inlaid channels of power within
the stones. One by one, the stones began to become
translucent. Rin concentrated and maintained the spell. The
hall began to brighten up. Sunlight filtered through the stone
and reflected off the smooth marble floor.
It took about half an hour to transform all the stones. Wearily,
Rin sat down on the bench and glanced at the closed door to the sitting
room. She could still hear Arturia singing. She laid down
on the bench to get some rest.
When she had rested enough, she went to the wall next to the
door. The job was done, and she felt like she deserved a
reward. She put her hand on the wall and chanted,
The portion of the wall near her hand slowly became translucent.
The sitting room came into view, along with Arturia and her harp.
She gazed fondly at the scene.
Without warning, Arturia opened her eyes and looked in her
direction. Rin took her hand away and fled to a nearby potted
tree. The door creaked open. She was certain that Arturia
was looking for her.
"Rhynne..." Arturia's voice echoed in the hall. "Why,
Rin hugged her knees. Why indeed? She asked Merlyn the same
question after Merlyn locked the door and erected the barrier.
Merlyn told her that it was needed to prevent Arturia from seeing
her. But that was when Arturia was grieving over Morgan.
When she asked Merlyn again, Merlyn simply said to do as she was told
as required by her apprenticeship. Rin felt the amulet underneath
her rough work apron. The penalty for disobedience was
dire: the master could choose to seal, or even worse, destroy one
or more magic circuits.
She could not resist bringing Arturia to the east wing. After
meeting her in the laundry room, every day without her was
torture. Her messages were the only thing that she looked forward
to. So when Merlyn left to visit the Chief Druid, she risked a
chance to see her.
But her chances were running out. Tomorrow, they would leave for
Stonehenge. She gazed at the valley below. She would never
forget this place. So many wonderful things happened here.
The door clicked behind her, but she continued to huddle by the potted
tree. Her eyes wandered over the hall. In time, the trees
would sprout leaves again and the banners and carpet would adorn the
hall. The hall would be restored to its former glory. Rin
closed her right eye and peered only with her left. She saw only
darkness. She sighed and wondered if her sight would ever be
restored. But even if she could not restore her sight, she still
had a chance to help Arturia. She gathered her determination and
stepped into the portal to the east wing.
Arturia was reading on her cot in the rose garden when Bedivere opened
door and held it for Airianne and Wybrenne to pass through.
Arturia put her book down and gave a respectful bow to Wybrenne.
"Good morning, Lady Wybrenne."
"Good morning, Sir Arturia." Wybrenne drew a deep breath.
"I regret to say that I bear grave news. Mine Merlyn and Rhynne
hath left to go to Stonehenge. They will perform the ritual to
return her to the future tomorrow."
Arturia's eyebrows shot up. "The future?"
"Didst she not tell thee? She is from a future over a thousand
years from now."
"Nay." Arturia paced within the triangle. "She didst
not." Although she dreaded to hear the answer, she asked
anyway. "When will she return?"
The silence that ensued stopped her breath. Eventually, Wybrenne
shook her head slowly. "She will not. Merlyn will close the
portal behind her."
Arturia trembled with agitation and anger as she tried to restrain
herself. "Why?!" she managed to say.
Wybrenne avoided the true reason. "I heard that tis needed to
preserve the flow of time."
Arturia collapsed onto her knees and buried her face in her
hands. The sorrow from her heart overflowed to her eyes.
Between sobs, she slowly asked, "Why... didst she not allow Rhynne...
to bid me farewell?"
She felt Bedivere's arm around her. "Be at ease. There is
yet a way that thou can see her."
Airianne knelt in front of her. "Yer physical form is maintained
by the mana of the Aerie. But that is not the only kind of mana
that can sustain the spell that keeps yer form. Within ye is
Avalon. Its mana can be used to refresh yer spell for a few
days. Please unbutton yer shirt, so I can release Avalon's mana."
"But... ye can not do magic."
"I discovered that I can when I tried to hide mine memories from
Mother. I suppose I have ye and Rhynne to thank fer that."
Airianne's lips curled into a smirk while Arturia's cheeks colored to
shade of pink. She held up her right hand. "If ye please..."
Arturia quickly unbuttoned her shirt. Airianne slipped her hand
in between her breasts. "Skies above! Ye have such soft,
"Lady Airianne!" cried Arturia indignantly.
Airianne began whispering in a language that she could not
understand. Something began to throb inside her. It felt
cool, like diving into a river on a hot summer day. The coolness
began to spread from her center to her limbs.
Airianne took her hand away. "Tis done. The spell will last
fer at most two days. After that, ye must refresh yerself in the
Aerie." She reached into her pocket to pull out an amulet and put
it around Arturia's neck. "This amulet will mask yer presence
from Mother, but ye must keep a distance of at least a hundred yards."
"I have readied Haut with provisions." offered Bedivere.
"They left this morning on horse. Thou can reach them easily."
"There is one more thing. The ritual will be cast fer two.
Mother hath decided to cast it as it was devised fer she feared ill
effects if she changed it." Airianne grasped Arturia's
hand. "Listen carefully, Sir Arturia. There will be eleven
glyphs and two smaller circles within the casting circle. Rhynne
will be standing in one of the smaller circles. When the ninth
glyph shines forth, ye must go to the other empty circle before the
eleventh glyph shines. When ye do, Mother will have no choice but
to continue the ritual. She cannae cancel it."
Arturia's eyes grew wide. "If she completes the ritual, then... I
will go with Rhynne..."
Airianne nodded. "Aye." Her eyes softened. "Tis yer
choice. Ye can meet Rhynne secretly and bid her farewell.
Or... ye can go with her."
Arturia already knew her answer. "Mine thanks... to all of
thee." Her eyes watered with gratitude. "I know not how to
acquit thy kindness."
"Tis simple. Take this time that has been given to you and be
happy." replied Wybrenne.
Airianne went to her mother's side and put her hand on her
shoulder. "Aye. I agree."
Arturia knelt in front of Wybrenne and held out her hand.
Wybrenne recognized the gesture and offered her hand which Arturia
kissed. "Mine thanks, Lady Wybrenne, for the hospitality of thy
home. Know that I will ne'er forget thee and thy kindness."
"We art honored to host the High King. Thou art welcome here
Arturia held out her hand to Airianne and kissed Airianne's hand when
she offered it. "Mine thanks to ye, Lady Airianne, for yer
assistance. Mine heart soars knowing that I have a chance to be
by Rhynne's side. And I am most grateful for all the
entertainment that ye hosted for us." She grinned widely as she
remembered all those silly games and nightly activities.
Airianne matched her grin, but her eyes twinkled with mischief.
"The pleasure was all mine."
Arturia stood up and turned to Bedivere. Before she was able to
say anything, Bedivere spoke.
"I will accompany thee till the mine's entrance. When thou art
ready, meet me at the great hall."
"The great hall is open?"
"Yea. Rhynne's craftsmanship is superb. See for thyself."
"I will. I shall meet thee there anon." She faced Wybrenne
and Airianne once more. She went over to Wybrenne and embraced
her. Then she did the same for Airianne. "I shall ne'er
forget either of thee."
"And we as well." Wybrenne reached over and stroked her cheek
gently. "Time flies. Gather thy belongings and may God be
with thee. Farewell, King Arthur."
"Farewell, Lady Wybrenne, Lady Airianne."
Arturia left the rose garden with Bedivere. She went to her room
and scanned her closet. Except for a pair of gloves and a change
of clothes, she did not find anything that wanted to bring. Then
she hurried to the great hall. She stood at the doorway for a
moment to marvel at its restoration. She could not discern the
hole in the ceiling or the pit in the floor. Rhynne truly did
Bedivere stood by the platform. Arturia jogged over to her.
Together, they descended the platform.
From the map, Wybrenne and Airianne watched them until they descended
into the cavern. Then Wybrenne dispelled the image. Arturia
was determined to go with Rhynne. Merlyn would be incensed.
Whether Rhynne succeeded or not, Merlyn would make arrangements for
Arturia to live in the Aerie or in the valley below. She could
easily convince Bedivere to look after her and keep her company.
Wybrenne wrung her hands. "Forgive me, mine love. Thou must
let go. And... I can no longer share thee."
Airianne seemed to sense her thoughts and touched her shoulder in a
reassuring manner. "I hath a hand in it too, Mama. Besides,
Mother cannae stay angry with us fer too long."
Wybrenne squeezed her daughter's hand lovingly. "Yea... thou art
right. Let us wish for her safe return."
Meanwhile, Arturia and Bedivere made their way through the labyrinth
and passed the wagon. Arturia grabbed Bedivere's left
wrist. "A moment, Bedivere."
"What is it?"
"Come this way."
Bedivere followed Arturia back to the wagon. Arturia leapt in and
picked up the quilt inside. She dusted it off in front and spread
it on the wagon's floor. She knelt by the wagon's edge and held
out her hand to Bedivere.
Curious, Bedivere placed the lantern on the ground and took Arturia's
hand. Arturia pulled her up. Then Arturia reached behind
her neck and unclasped the cylinder that held her braids. She
unclasped the other one and ran her fingers through her hair to unravel
it. Bedivere's heart began to beat faster. She suspected
what Arturia had in mind.
"Milord, thou will need to catch up to Rhynne."
"I know." Arturia's unclasped the rosary on the front flap of her
cloak. "Whither is the other?"
"I gave it to Rhynne."
"Ah... a gracious gift. Mine heart warms to know that thou
thinkst highly of her." She removed the cloak that covered
Bedivere's left arm. She began to unbutton her vest.
"With all due respect, Milord, think of how Rhynne would feel."
Arturia did not stop. "I am no longer High King. I cannot
reward thy faithful service with land or gold or title. However,
Constantine can award thy service with wealth or honor should thou
deign to accept. But I doubt any of that will suffice thee.
Know that mine heart will not rest until I hath shown thee mine
gratitude. So allow me to be selfish." She slowly slipped
off her vest. She knelt closer to Bedivere and looked into her
eyes. "I cannot give thee mine heart, for that is no longer mine
to give. But allow me to give thee what only I can give."
Bedivere clenched her fists to keep them from trembling. She
narrowed her eyes and spoke sternly. "Nay, Milord. As a
lady, thy love is meaningless if I cannot have thy heart.
Besides, I merely rendered thee service as required by mine pledge."
Arturia sighed. "Must it always be duty, Bedivere?" Her
manner grew rigid with the authority of her kingship. "Then hear
me, Sir Bedivere. Thou will let me do as I please, and thou will
enjoy it. This, thy King commands." Arturia cupped
Bedivere's face with her hands and stroked her cheek gently with the
pad of her thumb. "What will it be, Bedivere?" she asked
softly. "Will thou accept mine love or will thou obey mine
Bedivere blushed furiously and warmed Arturia's palms. Arturia
leaned forward until her lips almost touched Bedivere's. "Mine
time is short. How long will thou make me wait?"
Bedivere swallowed visibly and quailed before her gentle eyes.
Arturia loved Rhynne. Then it should be wrong to accept her
love. But her words rang in her mind. Had she always chosen
duty and honor over love? Her thoughts went to that fateful day
when she invited her to go hunting. Arturia asked her and she did
it out of duty. But now, Arturia offered her a choice.
She released her clenched hands and closed her eyes. She wanted
to be selfish too. As if sensing her decision, Arturia's lips
One by one, her clothes were discarded and Arturia guided her down to
the quilt. Her hands and lips wandered all over her body and she
surrendered to her touch. Arturia parted her legs and slipped her
head between them.
She gasped. She screamed. Soon, her thoughts were rendered
incoherent. There were only the tremulous sensations surging
through her body. And then Arturia entered her.
Her legs and arms wrapped around Arturia. Her need was deep and
Arturia slowly filled that need. She clutched her fiercely as
fire raged between her legs and threatened to swallow her into
madness. She screamed as the fire grew, her hoarse voice filling
the mine with her cries.
And then that fire exploded within her and she cried Arturia's name in
bliss. But Arturia continued to fan the flames which set off a
series of smaller explosions which reverberated through her body.
Although she wished that she could share her passion with Arturia, what
she received was more than she hoped for. It was a culmination of
a lifetime of friendship, of trust and of love.
When Arturia stopped, all she could do was lie there and catch her
breath. The throbbing within her eclipsed the aching muscles of
her legs and arms. Arturia kissed her on the cheek. "Twas
beautiful, Bedivere... I hope thou art pleased."
From the edge of her consciousness, she could hear Arturia adjusting
her clothes. Then she felt her grasp her hand and plant a kiss on
top, as one would do so on a lady. "Fare thee well, Bedwyr
Bedrydant ap Bedrawt, and farewell."
She heard Arturia leap off the wagon and lead Haut away. Her
thoughts were in a jumble and she desperately tried to gather her
wits. Finally, she managed to rise. Wrapping herself in the
quilt, she wobbled her way to the entrance of the mine. Arturia
was galloping on a path halfway down the mountain.
"Arturia!" Her voice was hoarse, but the mountain's echo carried
her voice. Arturia slowed down and looked in her direction.
She waved to her and waited until she waved back before resuming Haut's
Bedivere watched sadly until she could no longer see Arturia. "I
hath loved but one woman in this world, and I hath lost her
Tears flowed freely from her eyes, but her sorrow was diminished by
Arturia's parting gift. She lifted her face to the heavens and
prayed to God to keep her safe.
"Hail Taliesin ab Elphin."
"Hail Myrddin Emrys."
"How art ye, Milord?"
Merlyn gestured to Rin. "Tis Rin of the House of Tohsaka.
Rin, tis Lord Taliesin."
Taliesin inclined his head. "I am pleased to meet ye, Rin.
But I am saddened that our first meeting will also be our last."
Rin curtsied. "Tis I who am honored to meet ye." She really
was. In her research, she came across Taliesin's name. But
legends only indicated that he was a bard, not the Chief Druid, Lord of
The legends mentioned his nickname, "The shining brow." It was
appropriate indeed. Never had she seen hair so golden and fine
that it almost glittered in the sunlight. He could pass for a
model in a men's magazine. Internally, Rin laughed at her
thoughts. Furthermore, she expected him to be an old man.
Her imagination was far from the truth. He seemed to be in his
Merlyn turned her attention to three other mages. As she greeted
them, Rin attached names to each member of the Pentacle. The
young woman with flowing reddish hair and blue eyes was Vivian of the
Lake. She wore a reddish orange robe with a light blue
sash. A lanky man with brown hair tied up with a vine and wearing
a brown cloak and light green tunic was Lailoken of the Woods. An
elderly man clad in a gray robe with matching gray hair and beard was
introduced to be Merlin Ambrosius. Rin was surprised at his
name. When they were introduced, she asked about his name.
"Tis by coincidence that Emrys and I have names that sound
similar." His voice grated with age.
"Do other people confuse ye with her?"
He laughed softly as he leaned on his oak staff. "All the
time." Then he winked. "Sometimes, she pretends to be me
and sometimes... I pretend to be her."
Merlyn flushed and cleared her throat. "Erhmmm... there art a few
things I wish to discuss with ye."
Rin took a moment to study Merlyn who dispelled her illusion as soon as
they entered Stonehenge. She could see her much clearly now
without her illusion. Women would kill to look as good as she did
at her age.
She waited patiently as they conversed for a while, exchanging news of
their studies and duties. From their conversation, Vivian and
Ambrosius were in charge of the study and protection of magical
artifacts while Merlyn and Lailoken were in charge of the archive and
protection of lore and rituals. Taliesin simply listened.
Rin wondered if he had any duties.
Then she heard Vivian say, "I have retrieved Avalon from Morgan's
fortress and have succeeded in its return."
"Well done." said Taliesin with a nod of his head.
Vivian faced her. "Morgan was mine apprentice. Tis mine
fault that she discovered Avalon's power. I must apologize for
her assault on ye."
"I thank ye for yer apology." replied Rin.
Taliesin tapped his staff. "The day wears on. Shall we
They walked to the central ring of stones. Merlyn selected an
even spot to draw the circle while Taliesin walked to the top of the
stone altar. Vivian walked to a slightly raised circular stone
slab to the North and stood in its center. Lailoken went to a
similar slab to the Southeast while Ambrosius went to the one to the
Southwest. Rin noted that the slabs were equidistant from each
other, thus forming a triangle. When everyone was in place,
Taliesin began to sing.
Rin paused etching a glyph to listen for a moment. There was
power in his sonorous tenor voice. A low humming joined his
song. It was then that she realized that the stones were
responding to his song and singing in return. Soon, the humming
intensified so much that she could feel the vibration in her
A quick glance at Vivian showed her that she was chanting and tracing
intricate patterns in the air. She guessed that she was doing
something to assist Taliesin.
A sharp look from Merlyn compelled her to resume her task. When
the arcane circle was complete, she took her place within it.
Then Merlyn began to chant the first stanza of the ritual.
Taliesin continued to sing and the first glyph burst forth in a
quavering note of light. Never before had she ever seen mana
being supplied in this manner.
She watched the second glyph shine and then a third. As each
glyph flared into light, her fascination gave way to the sadness which
escaped from her heart. She blinked away the tears that
threatened to spill. She was leaving, never to return.
They had begun. Arturia peered through the leaves of the tree to
get a better view. The first glyph glowed. About ten
seconds later, the next one glowed. Arturia measured the time
between each glow and estimated it to be around ten to fifteen
seconds. She only had thirty seconds to get there. She
hoped Haut could make it.
The eight glyph glowed. She quickly leapt from the branches and
landed in Haut's saddle. In her head, she counted: eight,
nine, ten... Then she spurred Haut to a gallop. In the
distance, the ninth glyph glowed.
As she neared them, she saw Taliesin turn in her direction. His
reaction surprised her. He merely inclined his head as if he were
greeting an old friend. Merlyn's back was turned to her
still. The tenth glyph glowed.
Arturia veered Haut to the side so that he would not run into the
circle. Then she leapt from the saddle and rolled with the
fall. She sprinted to the circle and slowed down enough to
carefully hop over the glowing glyphs. She landed on the second
circle facing Rin. As the eleventh glyph glowed, she looked up
with a triumphant grin on her face.
The arcane circle burst into light and began to blind her. The
last thing she saw before her sight blurred into whiteness was Rhynne's
tear-streaked but overjoyed face.
Gone. They were gone in a blaze of light. Merlyn clenched
her fists and screamed in rage. Her scream echoed through
Stonehenge. Suddenly, she felt a hand clamp over her mouth.
"Remember where ye art, Emrys." cautioned Taliesin.
Merlyn inhaled sharply through her nose and simmered down.
Taliesin took his hand away. Vivian, Lailoken and Ambrosius
walked over. They stood there in silence as the arcane circle's
light faded away.
"Didst ye know?" Merlyn asked softly.
Taliesin looked up into the clear blue sky. "Tis been awhile
since we hath all flown together, old friends. Care to fly the
friendly skies with me?"
Merlyn felt betrayed. She had assumed that Taliesin would support
her decision. But her anger faded as she glared at Taliesin's
gentle and calm face. Perhaps, his visions showed him
something. Perhaps, if she waited long enough, he would tell
her. She looked up into the sky. It was a good day to fly.
"Aye." Merlyn and Taliesin transformed into eagles. Vivian
became a red hawk while Lailoken and Ambrosius turned into brown and
gray falcons respectively. In unison, they launched themselves
into the sky.
Haut watched the birds in the air. He wished that he had wings
too. Suddenly, he felt a tug on his mane. It was Merlyn's
Her ears pricked up with a question. "Go for a run?"
Haut neighed in response and they galloped across the green grassland.
The light faded into darkness and they reeled to catch their
balance. When Rin felt her feet touch the ground, she released
her breath. At least, they did not end up underwater.
But they still got wet. As expected, it was raining and the cold
wind caused her to shiver under her robe. As Rin shifted the
packs on her back, Arturia caught her in a tight embrace.
Rin held her just as tightly to convince herself that she was actually
here. Tears sprang from her eyes as she confirmed her warmth, her
scent, her very being. Then Arturia drew back to plant a kiss
full of longing on her lips. As she returned her kiss, she forgot
about the rain and wrapped her arms around Arturia's neck.
Their heads turned in unison at the direction of the voice. About
five feet away from them stood a young girl about four feet tall.
She was holding an umbrella and was staring at them with a lopsided
grin on her face. She handed the umbrella to Rin and bowed
towards Arturia. She greeted her in a small piping voice.
"Hail Arturia Pendragon ab Uther, Former High King of the British
Isles. I am your host, Emrys... Marlen Emrys. Welcome to
the year 2011."
She held out her gloved hand. "Your Highness, I wish to check
Airianne's spell on you. May I have your hand?"
Arturia held out her hand which Marlen took between her own. The
glyph on her palm flared and she felt that coolness within her again.
"It's fine, but to be on the safe side, please wear this." Marlen
produced a ring and slipped it on her index finger. Then she
opened the umbrella that was hanging on the crook of her arm for
herself. "Sorry to interrupt your snoggin', but the weather's
been beastly this week. Seeing that Queen Elizabeth rules now,
how do you wish to be addressed?"
Between her grammar and her accent, Arturia was not quite sure that she
understood everything Marlen said. "Arturia is fine."
"Arturia it is, guv." Her eyes landed on Rin. "Evenin'
Tohsaka Rin. Betcha chuffed to bits to be back. Any hoo,
Arturia took the heavy packs from Rin who gladly gave it to her.
Rin held the large umbrella over them while Arturia held her other hand
as they followed Marlen across the soggy ground of Stonehenge.
After twenty minutes, they reached an access road where a BMW was
parked. Marlen opened the passenger door and then opened the
trunk. Arturia deposited the packs and the scroll case in the
trunk and then went into the car. Marlen went in after her and
closed the door.
"Take us home, Miles."
A crystal embedded in the dashboard responded, "Yes, Master."
The car revved into life and drove off. Rin stared at the
unmoving uniformed driver.
"A puppet, just to get cops to bugger off." explained Marlen, who sat
across from them. The car looked like a four door sedan from the
outside, but the inside defied the laws of physics. There were
two sets of backseats which faced each other. The distance
between the seats was generous enough to stretch one's legs.
Marlen opened a large duffel bag and pulled out some towels. She
handed the towels to them. "Dry yourselves. I also have
some clothes if you want to change."
"Thanks." said Rin as she accepted the towel. She began to
dry her hair. With the overhead light, she had a better view of
her host. Marlen seemed very young, about twelve to fourteen
years of age. Rin watched as she removed her black bowler and her
black trenchcoat. Marlen looked very goth in her black suit,
black patent leather shoes, the black ribbon that tied her braided hair
and the lacy black tie around her collar. When she took off her
black gloves, Rin noted that her fingernails were painted black.
She also noted the ring on her finger which bore the crest of the
Pentacle, the highest authority for magicians in
The only colors that contrasted in her gothic appearance were her brown
hair and golden eyes. She was an Emrys all right.
Marlen bent over and opened a hidden compartment under her seat.
"Thirsty? I have pop and wine. If you're hungry, I have
"If you have it, can I have some ginger ale?" asked Rin.
"Methinks, I will have the same."
"Rin, pull the tray out by your seat." Marlen dug into the duffel
bag and extracted three paper cups and a couple of sandwiches.
When Rin unfolded the tray, she put the cups and sandwiches on the tray
and poured ginger ale out of the cans. For herself, she uncorked
a bottle of red wine.
"Aren't you a little too young to be drinking?" asked Rin.
Marlen sipped the wine. "Girl, I'm going to say this once.
First off, I'm twice as old as you are. And second, since Merlyn
didn't release you from your apprenticeship, I'm now your master.
So belt up and mind your manners."
"Sorry, Master." She kept forgetting that among the Emrys,
appearances could be deceiving. To her left, she sensed Arturia
gag on the ginger ale.
"What manner of draught is this?" asked Arturia as she stared at the
"Carbonated water mixed with corn syrup and imitation ginger ale
flavor." When Arturia looked at her blankly, she ordered
Rin. "You explain."
Rin cleared her throat. "Tis sweetened water with ginger and
sugar. The ale makers found a way to trap air within it to create
a prickly sensation within thy mouth."
"How fascinating..." Arturia sipped the ale cautiously.
"Don't have to chug that..." Marlen got another cup and poured
some wine into it. She offered the cup to Arturia. "Here
"Mine thanks." Arturia gratefully accepted the cup.
Marlen faced Rin. "You have to teach her how to speak
normally. She'll stand out too much. Go ahead and do
that." She pulled out a planner and began to leaf through it.
"All right." Rin began to explain the differences between
medieval and modern English while they ate their sandwiches.
About forty-five minutes or so later, Marlen yawned. She checked
"Three more hours to go. I'll have a kip till then." Marlen
moved the duffel bag to the floor and pushed the back of the seat
down. She opened another hidden compartment and pulled out a
pillow. Then she took a quilt, and an eye mask from the duffel
bag. She laid down on the seat and fluffed the pillow before she
rested her head on it. She pulled the quilt over her.
The appropriately black eye mask went over her eyes.
"With all due respect, master, what time is it?"
Rin adjusted her watch. Then she reached up and turned off the
overhead light as a courtesy. She and Arturia sat in silence in
the dim car. A few minutes later, she felt Arturia's warm hand
over hers. Her fingertips curled into her palm and tickled it
with gentle strokes. Rin's skin broke into goosebumps at the
"What do you want to do, Arturia?" whispered Rin.
"Twould... it would be ill mannered to speak whilst thy, um... your
master sleeps. Mayhap... we should rest as well."
Rin nodded and moved the empty cups and wrappings off the table.
She refolded the tray. "Please move aside for a moment. I
will try to change the seat."
Arturia complied and Rin pushed the back of the seat down. She
felt the floor for the duffel bag. She reached in and found
another quilt. Marlen was certainly prepared.
In the meantime, Arturia found two pillows from the compartments under
their seat. She put the pillows down and laid down on the
seat. Rin spread the quilt over her and slipped in next to
They stared at each other for a few moments before moving in unison to
kiss. Arturia's arm went around her waist and drew her
closer. They exchanged several kisses before Marlen's voice
pierced the air.
"You know silentium, right?"
Rin blushed in embarrassment. "Er... yes, master..."
Arturia whispered in her ear sheepishly. "Methinks, we should
restrain ourselves for now."
Rin nodded and snuggled into Arturia's embrace. She felt Arturia
kiss the top of her head and her eyes moistened with tears.
Silently, she wished for many more nights like this and let her
fantasies guide her to dream.
When Marlen woke them up, they found themselves in an enclosed
garage. There were several different models of cars, motorcycles
and boats lined up neatly on both sides of the garage. They
followed Marlen to an elevator. When the elevator opened at their
destination, they noticed the familiar platform at the end of the also
familiar great hall.
However, the scene beyond the translucent walls was not familiar.
A thriving town replaced the valley below. Some of the
decorations in the hall were also different. There were a
lot more pieces of art and sculpture. Rin's heart soared at the
sight of the restored hall. She was glad to see that her efforts
were not in vain.
The sitting room was different too. More instruments were
available including a baby grand piano. There was a stereo system
and plasma TV as well. Suddenly, something caught her eye that
made the back of her neck prickle in horror: a karaoke
player. Silently, she prayed that she would never have to
participate in that dreadful activity.
They followed Marlen into the rose garden. A rollaway bed stood
in the center of the enchanted triangle. Marlen gestured to it.
"Arturia, I suggest you refresh yourself as soon as possible."
She pulled the rim of the bowler over her eyes and peered at Rin.
"Rin, pick a room in the west wing and get some rest."
"But master, I am not..."
Suddenly, the amulet under her shirt seared her skin.
Instinctively, her hand flew up to clutch it away from her skin, but it
stopped an inch before it.
Underneath the bowler's hat, Marlen's eye seemed to glow.
"Go. Come back to the rose garden at 9:30 for breakfast."
"Y-- yes, Master..." Rin turned on her heel and walked out of the
rose garden with luggage in tow. She did not stop walking until
she reached the room she once occupied in the past. Then she
exhaled a deep breath. She threw herself on the bed and
contemplated what happened. It felt like deja vu; she was being
separated from Arturia again.
Rin opened her blouse to look at her skin. She breathed a sigh of
relief to see that it was not burned, but just irritated. A quick
glance at her watch told her that it was around 6 AM. She did not
like it at all, but she had no choice but to obey.
Breakfast was served from a wheeled trolley. Rin and Arturia
helped themselves to pastries and fruit. The tea was
excellent. When they were done with breakfast, Marlen pulled out
a remote control and a laser pointer from her pocket and pressed a
button that unveiled a recessed plasma TV. An image of a mansion
on a hill flickered into view.
"For generations, the Emrys watched the Einzbern to detect when they
attempted to access the Throne of Heroes. About eighty-three
years ago, my Mum detected a large surge of mana from this
location. The mansion is recent. It serves to guard the
The image changed to a chart of some sort. "Here are some
geological surveys of the site. The surveys were done before they
accessed the Throne. Miners needed it to locate deposits of
precious and semi-precious gemstones."
"Now, if you look here, this symbol indicates water. Further
research indicated that the water was coming from a nearby lake.
To check whether that was true, Mum turned herself into a fish to gen
up. She went full monty and confirmed it."
"By the way, treat her out to dinner when you meet her. From what
I hear, it was nasty business swimming down there. You owe her
big time. So here's the plan: sneak in, release Arturia's
spirit and sneak out."
Arturia cleared her throat. "Please excuse my interruption, but
what dost you mean by mine... er... my spirit?"
Slack-jawed, Marlen stared at Arturia and then shifted her gaze to
Rin. "Do you want me to tell her why you're doing this?"
Rin bowed her head. There was no reason to keep it a secret
anymore. "Arturia... when you died, your spirit was being
absorbed into the Throne of Heroes. But I... I somehow managed to
prevent all of it from being absorbed when I tried to save you.
Merlyn thought that I was able to succeed because Avalon was
nearby. The spells that refresh you everyday are required to keep
the rest of your spirit from going to the Throne. However, Merlyn
feared that your spirit will slowly be absorbed over time. Thus,
my mission is to free the other half of your spirit."
"But... why did she not tell me to go with you?" Arturia tried to
restrain her anger, but her voice showed her resentment.
"I... I don't know."
Marlen cleared her throat. "Anyway, both of you will fly to
Germany and travel to the lake. For that, you'll need
passports. Rin, is yours current?"
"Yes, master. But why should Arturia come?"
"I'll get to that. Arturia, you'll need one. You can't use
Pendragon for your last name. Is Tohsaka okay?"
Arturia asked Rin. "Umm... what does 'okay' mean?"
Rin's heart leapt in her chest. She could not believe that Marlen
suggested it. "Er... it means 'all right' or 'fine'."
"I see." She faced Marlen. "No. It would not be
appropriate. It would be difficult to convince a priest to marry
us if we had the same last name."
"Oh..." Marlen's mouth formed the word. She grinned
widely. "Then what do you like to use?"
Arturia thought for a moment. "Wledig. It was my mother's
Marlen nodded. "All right. Let me make some
arrangements." She put the remote in front of Rin. "While
I'm gone, you can look at the slides of the geological surveys.
Be back in a few minutes." She quickly walked out of the room.
Meanwhile, Rin's heart was pounding like crazy. Bells and organ
music were playing in her mind. Was Arturia really thinking of
getting married? It seemed too good to be true. However,
she wanted to hear it again.
"About what you said... about the priest and..." She
blushed. "And marriage..."
Arturia began to blush as well. "Oh... my apologies for being
presumptuous. I... I was merely trying to avoid future
conflicts... if... if we were to... marry."
For several moments, they stared at each other with eyes full of
built-up emotion and love. Rin wanted to reach out to her and to
hold her, but Arturia slipped off her chair to kneel at her side.
"Rin... when your mission is over... will you... will you marry me?"
She dreamt of hearing these words over and over. Just in case,
she pinched herself. She did it again just to make sure.
Through her tears and the smarting pain of her arm, she whispered in a
choked voice, "Yes... by God... yes!"
"Of course! We will be married before God. I would not be
married by pagan ritual."
Rin chuckled a little at Arturia's misunderstanding. Then she
knelt next to her, put her arms around her and kissed her. "We
will, my dearest one."
Arturia drew away and put Rin's left hand on top of her own. "I
regret that I can not draw upon the wealth of the High King to present
you a suitable ring. I can only offer you my love." She
pressed her lips on Rin's ring finger and sucked on its skin slightly
to form a small red mark.
Could her heart beat any faster? Apparently, it could and it
pounded in her ears as she gazed at the red mark on her finger.
Slowly, she reached for Arturia's left hand and sucked on her ring
finger to create a similar mark.
"Now... we have matching rings..." declared Rin proudly.
The space between them was too much. They banished it away and
filled the space with kisses full of promises of the future. They
would have continued making more promises if it were not for the sound
of the door swinging open to announce Marlen's return.
Marlen sighed in exasperation. "I thought I told you to study the
survey." She dragged an empty chair and placed it ten feet away
from the table. "Rin, sit here."
Reluctantly, Rin walked over to the chair and sat on it.
Meanwhile, Arturia's face formed a scowl.
"Why must she sit over there?" she demanded as she stood up.
"Because I told her to. Moving on..." Marlen took the
remote control and navigated to the next slide.
Arturia was about to argue when she caught Rin's shaking head and
pleading eyes. She restrained herself and sat down.
"Since you have to swim in the lake, you'll have to wear this special
wetsuit. It will enable you to breathe underwater. It has a
containment field to prevent you from leaving stray skin cells, hair or
whatever body parts you have. It also has a heat insulator and
ultrasonic absorber to help deter motion detectors and a camouflage
field to fool video cameras."
"I can see that you're wondering why we're worried about technology
when we're mages. Look around you... it is possible to create an
amalgam of technology and magic. The Einzbern may or may not use
this kind of magic, but we have to assume that they do."
She held up a translucent cylinder full of pebbles. "There will
be barriers. Each of these pebbles holds a special kind of mana
that will interrupt the barrier field. When you come across a
barrier, just match the mana flow with the one in the pebble.
Place the pebble on the ground near the barrier. A hole big
enough to crawl through will be formed. But remember, the hole
can only be used four times."
She picked up a Y-shaped rod with a crystal fastened to its end.
"The main chamber is a giant cavern. When you reach the main
chamber, use this dousing rod to find the location of the gate.
The crystal on the rod is attuned to the mana expended by the Einzbern
to open it."
"I will instruct you on the ritual to open the gate. It may not
be precise, since it was surmised from the detection and analysis of
the opening of the gate. You will have to adjust it as
needed. When the gate is open, go to the Throne and hold
Arturia's hand to serve as an anchor for her. Allow Arturia to be
absorbed into Throne.
"Arturia, it's up to you to find your other half. There's a lot
of energy in the Throne. Whatever happens, don't let go of
Rin. Because if you do, you may not be able to find your way
out. Once you're restored, get out."
"The ritual generates a tremendous amount of mana. There's no way
we can hide it. Leave as fast as possible. However, if you
have to fight, cast spells using these crystals. They contain
mana signatures of Einzbern's most hated rivals." She gestured to
a jar of marble-sized crystals of varying colors.
"After you escape, take the next flight out and follow the itinerary
and use the identities that I gave you. You'll be globetrotting
for a week to skive off any pursuers. When you're ready, come
back here, so I can check if Arturia is okay. Any questions?"
"When can I start practicing the ritual?"
"After we finish here. Anything else?"
"When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow or the day after. It depends on how well you can cast
Rin's lips drew taut at the challenge. "Then let us get started
as soon as possible."
"What about me?" asked Arturia.
"With all due respect, please practice modern English. You can
find a book in the library. I have prepared a video for you about
the countries that you'll be visiting on your way back, so it won't be
so confusing." Marlen took out a folded piece of paper from her
pocket. "Here are the instructions to view the video on the
telly. Rin, when you're ready, meet me in the north hall."
Rin changed to her mage robe and met Marlen in the north hall.
Marlen closed the doors of the practice room and cast silentium.
Her face was grim.
"Rin, I hate to say this... but if you fail, you must never let
yourself be captured by the Einzbern. They won't kill you.
Oh no... A mage of your caliber would be more valuable
alive. Even I can't imagine the bloody things they'll do to you."
Marlen put her hand over the amulet. Rin felt mana flowing from
"I've cast a disintegration spell on the amulet. To activate it,
form the word 'Datgymalu' in your head and release your mana."
The sides of her mouth drooped. "I hope that you never have to
Rin's hands were cold and clammy. The very thought sickened
her. "I hope so too, Master..."
Marlen sauntered to the middle of the room. Her right hand
extended to her side. The space around her seemed to blur and her
clothes swirled to form a black battle robe. A staff appeared
nearby and her hand closed to grab it. Rin's eyes widened in
recognition. It was Merlyn's staff. Airianne told her that
it was handed down through generations and was only wielded by the head
of the House of Emrys.
Her robe billowed about her as she whirled around to face Rin.
The hall echoed when she hit the marble floor with the end of her
staff. "Forget about that. First thing's first. Let's
get you ready. We Emrys have put a lot into this. As Merlyn
said, 'Failure is unacceptable.'"
"I understand, master. I will succeed... or die trying."
With patience and perseverance, they made it to the main chamber.
As she located the access point for the gate, Rin was thoroughly amazed
by the research of the Emrys.
She took out her red jewel. "Raging soul, scythe form." Her
staff materialized. It was now or never. She chanted the
ritual to open the gate. As the ritual progressed, she felt mana
being accumulated around her. Using the crystal on the dousing
rod as a guide, she adjusted to the mana flow. The mana began to
concentrate in the direction pointed to by the rod. Her magesight
showed her when it attained the desired levels. She swung her
staff back and prepared for the final chant.
"Offenes gatter!" She swung the sharp edge of her staff against
the coalesced mass of mana. The mass began to writhe and
expand. Bright light began to filter through it. A small
hole opened and widened into a large portal in space. Beyond the
portal, a huge ornate golden throne floated in midair.
Rin looked at Arturia who nodded. They reached for each other's
hands. Using Levitiam, they floated together towards the
throne. They landed on its seat which was large enough for
several people to stand on. Rin touched the back of the
throne. It felt solid. Arturia touched it. Rin's eyes
grew in alarm when she saw the tips of her fingers dissolving.
Arturia's hand gripped her right hand tightly.
"I will be back anon."
Rin swallowed her fear and squeezed her hand. "Come back
safely... you have a promise to keep."
Arturia smiled reassuringly. "And I shall keep it." With
that, she dove into the back of the throne. Rin's hand sank into
it up to her wrist. She sighed in relief when she could still
feel Arturia's grip.
Rin waited patiently for her to come back. A minute or so
passed. Suddenly, she felt a surge from beyond the portal.
To her horror, she saw a little girl who resembled Ilyasviel standing
at the entrance of the portal. Then another little girl walked
over, and then another. Rin plucked a crystal from her belt and
used it to cast a high level barrier around the throne.
By the time she finished, thirteen little girls stood outside the
portal. And then she saw a man walk up behind the little
girls. It must be their master who controlled their bodies.
Unlike Ilyasviel, the girls lacked the aura of a soul.
"Who are you?" asked the man in German.
Rin did not respond. Instead, she leveled her staff in front of
them. She waited for them to make the first move.
She did not have to wait to long. The girls fanned out and cast
fireballs at the barrier. The barrier flickered on impact.
Rin cursed silently and reinforced the barrier with another
crystal. She fed a crystal into her orb and raised it.
Bright orbs began to multiply around the throne.
"Sunburst!" The orbs sped towards the man who held out his hand
to create a barrier. Rin took the opportunity to target one of
the girls with a spare orb. The orb smashed into the girl's head
and incinerated it. The man screamed. Rin's eyebrows arched
in surprise and understanding. The link between master and puppet
goes both ways. She smiled at her discovery.
She aimed at a nearby girl and willed a hole in her barrier.
"Gandyr Fyre!" Black energy spewed forth from the red orb of her
staff and zipped towards the girl. When it hit the girl, the girl
was flung away with a terrible force. The skin of the girl began
to dissolve, leaving trails of blood behind her.
The man screamed again. He clutched his chest and arms. Rin
could see that he was applying healing magic. Then the man looked
up and stared at her. She quickly reinforced the barrier.
The girls were firing with renewed intensity. She expended three
more crystals. She tried to peer through the flames and smoke to
target a girl.
Suddenly, she felt a surge to her left. To her great horror, one
of the girls had made a hole in her barrier and was holding it open
with her bleeding hands. Another girl had stuck her hand through
the hole. She fired a lightning spell.
Hastily, Rin cast a shield which deflected most of the attack.
But it did not block enough. She screamed as lightning struck her
forearm. Her staff clattered to the seat of the throne.
Internally, she began the pain suppression exercise which Merlyn taught
her. Through the haze of pain, she willed the shield to bash the
two girls. The girls reeled away from the barrier.
She tried to move her hand and did not feel it. Her nerves must
be damaged. The flames and smoke around the barrier began to
swirl as if a wind was swirling around the cavern. She felt more
mana being concentrated around the barrier.
She noticed the man chanting and drawing glyphs in the air. She
looked around and saw that an arcane circle floated over the throne
just beyond her barrier. Fear rose within her as the circle
glowed and rained motes of light at the throne.
Rin screamed as the throne arced bolts of electricity around her.
Her muscles spasmed and her body tumbled away from the throne
instinctively. Thankfully, her shield absorbed some of the
bolts. As she fell from the throne, she raised her right hand and
willed her staff to her.
While waiting for the bolts to disperse, she cast Levitiam and erected
another barrier around her. But the bolts did not disperse.
Instead, she felt more mana coming from the throne. An unseen
wind whipped the clothing of the girls who were chanting. Rin's
heart fell when she guessed that they were doing a ritual.
She braced herself for whatever spell that they planned on
casting. However, with her unfeeling hand and arm, she could not
cast over half of her defensive spells. To her great chagrin,
more little girls stepped across the portal. As mana gathered
around her and the throne still arced lightning, she had to accept that
she had only one option left. She prepared to die.
Chapter 15 Omake
Archer: Hey babe, nice sword. Wanna see mine? I bet I
can make it nice and long just for you.
Gilgamesh: *Whack!* She shall see mine first!
Berserker: Oh yeah? Mine's the biggest!
Saber: That's not a sword! Let me out of here! Rin!
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