The King and Her Queen
Chapter 17: The Gift
They arrived in London safely. Eileen met them at the
airport. She drove at her unusual nerve wracking speed and they
got to the valley in record time.
"We'll make a stop at Sakura's first." said Eileen.
"Yes. Because she was with the Matou for so long, Marlen did not
want her anywhere near the Aerie. She wants to examine her before
she is allowed in the Aerie. We've rented a house for her to live
"Oh." Rin was perplexed. If that was the case, then why did
Merlyn let them in? She was a stranger then. "But... what
about me and Shiro?"
"During your journey to the Aerie, Merlyn examined both of you."
"She did?" Rin tried to remember. Merlyn read some of her
memories in the inn, but after that, she just asked a lot of questions.
"I doubt that you'd know, dearie. She'd do it while you were
asleep." Her voice suddenly dripped with mischief. "And
then, she'd ask questions to see how truthful you are."
Rin's eyes grew wide. "Really? Whoa... I didn't sense it at
"But you passed." Her simple statement hinted of praise.
"She let you in."
For several moments, Rin was silent as pride welled within her.
"Thank you. That's nice to hear." Still, she could not help
but wonder. "I apologize for my curiosity, but couldn't you
examine Sakura on the plane?"
"I could, but Marlen and Nell would do a better job."
"Oh, she'll let you know when you need to know. She's your master
Eileen did not turn around, but Rin could hear the sly smile in her
voice. She made a note to ask Marlen later.
They parked in front of a small cottage near the foot of the
mountain. Rin and Arturia got out of the car and followed Eileen
up the brick path. She rang the doorbell and the door opened a
few moments later.
"Nee-san! Eileen! Arturia!" Sakura hugged each of
them, but she hugged Rin a little longer. "Come in."
They sat down on the couch and chairs in the small living room while
Sakura went to the kitchen to get some tea and snacks. She
returned a few minutes later and laid out the tea and snacks on the
Rin looked about. "Did you do all this when you got back?"
"Heavens no, dearie. Marlen arranged all of this. The day
after you found Sakura, we told her that she would be coming to
England." She swept her hand across the room. "All of this
is her doing."
Rin gulped. "Wow... I have to pay her back."
"Oh, I'm sure you will."
Rin blanched at Eileen's tone. She hoped that the debt would be
payable with cash and not by other means. After they finished the
tea and snacks, Sakura showed them around the house. In addition
to the living room, it had a small kitchen, two bedrooms and a
bath. It was sparsely furnished, but Rin noted the extra bed in
the second bedroom. There was a small garden behind the house.
After they went back in the house, Rin asked, "Eileen, will she be safe
here by herself?"
"Oh... did you see a hole in the defenses?"
Rin blinked. Then she caught on to her question. She opened
her magesight and looked around. She spotted a perimeter spell,
reinforcement spells on the walls of the house and security spells on
the doors and windows. Her cheeks flushed with
embarrassment. She should have looked first before asking the
"Ummm... I meant was... can she work these spells on her own?"
"Yes. I showed her how to use the crystals that control them."
Rin sighed with relief. "Thank you. I feel better now."
Eileen patted her shoulder. "Don't worry. We put it on your
Rin's shoulders drooped in response. She dreaded to know what is
on her tab, and how she would end up paying for it.
She wanted to stay longer, but Eileen insisted in bringing them back to
"You can visit her later, dearie." assured Eileen.
They deposited their luggage in their rooms before seeing Marlen in the
rose garden. As usual, Marlen sat on Nell's lap.
"Welcome back." greeted Marlen. "Arturia, I would like to
speak to Rin privately. Please see my mothers. I believe
they have something to tell you."
"All right." Arturia was puzzled, but she complied.
"Have a seat, Rin." Marlen gestured to a chair which slid behind
her. "From what my mothers tell me, you've accumulated quite a
bit of trouble. Please tell me about it. As your master,
I'm concerned about your well being." With a wave of her hand, a
cart laden with tea and pastries wheeled over to her side. "Have
a spot of tea while you're at it."
Rin blinked. This was a first. Merlyn treated her kindly,
but she never said anything so nice. She sat down and poured
herself a cup before she began her story.
While she told her story, she could not help but notice the cute dress
that Marlen wore. It was a large contrast to the black outfit
that she wore whenever they practiced spells in the north wing.
She also had a chance to study Nell in more detail. She was a
large woman and was easily over six feet tall. Slightly plump,
her arms were twice as large as Marlen's, thus making Marlen look like
a doll. Her shoulder length blond hair was swept back by a
headband. Her hazel brown eyes caught her gaze and Rin had a
strange feeling that she knew that she was being studied. Rin
broke away and stared into the teacup in her hand.
She suddenly felt compelled to tell as much as she could, and she
did. After she was done, she was scared for revealing so much.
Marlen clucked her tongue. "In deep, aren't you? First off,
consider telling Arturia about the suitors. You dropped a clanger
on her already, and it'll only get worse if you keep hiding it.
Next, I suggest telling your godfather about your engagement. No
sense making him shower you with men. And finally, we'll ante up
your training on mental and psychological defense. We'll have you
swotting in no time."
"Nell and I will train you. But not today. Go and get some
rest. We'll start tomorrow."
Rin stood up. "Master, thank you for taking care of Sakura."
"You're welcome. By the way, she has adopted a new identity
here. Please refer to her as Cheryl Vellason."
Marlen spread her hands out. "It's too risky to use her real
name. You might as well put a searchlight on her, if she uses
it. Shiro only managed to hide her because she was shunted not
only through space, but also time."
"Yes. That's what Mum discovered when she was helping Sakura
pack. The overall effect was that any magical search will fail to
find her because they're looking for her in the current time, not the
past time. The difference is only a second, but that's enough."
Stunned was the closest description that Rin could attach to how she
felt. The blood drained from her face. Perhaps it was wrong
to bring her here. Her expression must have made her thoughts
"Don't worry. If we have to, we can probably recreate Shiro's
spell. Mum thinks it's a variation of that ritual. Anyway,
run along. Arturia will be coming to speak to me."
Rin bowed deeply. "Thank you, Master." She turned and made
her way back to her room. "So that's it. Clever
jerk." thought Rin. Shiro probably used his talent in
creating pocket dimensions and the ritual to create that spell.
Arturia yawned. Although two days had passed since their return,
she still seemed jet-lagged. However, she was curious about the
people that Eileen wanted her to meet. They arrived at a classy
hotel and went inside. Eileen ushered her into a meeting
room. Two men and a woman stood up on her entry. Eileen
closed the door and cast silentium. She cleared her throat.
"Lady and gentlemen, I have the honor of introducing her Highness,
Arturia Pendragon ab Uther, former High King of Britain."
The men knelt before her and the woman curtsied. The younger man
spoke first. "Your Highness, I am Kyle Hecter. I'm a
descendant of Sir Ector and Sir Kay."
"Your Highness, I'm Peter Armstrong. Sir Bedivere was my
"Your Highness, I'm Jenna Lakeridge. I'm descended from Sir
"I am pleased... very pleased to meet you all. My heart soars in
knowing that friends long gone have left their legacy with you.
Please stand tall. I am no longer king." She reached out
and pulled Kyle and Peter to their feet.
She glanced up at Kyle. "You have Sir Kay's height and sturdy
frame. We gave him the nickname, Kay the Tall. It would fit
you well, too."
Kyle grinned broadly. "Really? Thank you, your Highness."
Her eyes alighted on Peter and noted his flaxen yellow hair on his
balding head and his steel gray eyes. "I see that Bedivere's
blood flows strongly in you." She extended her hand. "I
wonder if you live up to her nickname?"
Peter grinned widely and gripped her hand with all his strength.
Arturia laughed. "And so you do!"
Then she turned to Jenna. "Your face looks like hers, but your
hair and eyes are his."
Jenna merely nodded. There was no need to elaborate.
Peter cleared his throat. "Your Highness, speaking of legacy,
allow me to show you Armstrong's greatest treasure." He gestured
to a long chest on a cart. He opened the three locks on the chest
and pulled the lid up. Arturia let out a small gasp.
Peter smiled. "You recognize it?"
"Of course. Stone Cleaver was Bedivere's constant companion as
she was for me." She paused as nostalgia brought both a smile and
a small pang in her heart.
"The Stone Cleaver... so sharp that it can cut stone... Forged
using the same metal as Caliburn..." recited Peter as he lifted
the sword in its scabbard out of the chest. He unsheathed it and
took out a fist-sized piece of marble from his pocket. He began
to pare the stone as if he were cutting away the skin of a
potato. The pieces bounced off the hardwood floor when they hit
Peter resheathed the sword and held it out to Arturia. "Your
Highness is without a sword. Please accept this as a replacement."
"No, Peter. In this time of peace, there's no need to wield a
sword. However, I have yet to greet Stone Cleaver. May
I?" She held out both hands.
"By all means." Peter lowered the scabbard into her hands, and
paused for a moment before he let her hands bear its weight.
To herself, Arturia's smiled smugly as her suspicions were
confirmed. By offering Stone Cleaver, Peter was trying to verify
her identity. She unsheathed the blade and let her eyes examine
its polished surface. With quick glances, she noted the
expressions on Kyle and Jenna. They, too, wanted proof. She
resheathed the sword. Keeping a calm facade, she tried not to
show that she discovered Peter's intentions.
"You've done well to preserve it." She offered the sword to Kyle
with both hands. "Don't you think so, Kyle?"
Kyle accepted it, but as soon as she let go, his wrists bent
awkwardly. He clutched at it and was relieved to keep the rest of
it from falling when the tip of its scabbard hit the floor.
Peter quickly took it from him. "Sorry, Kyle. Stone Cleaver
can't be wielded by anyone other than its master, and its master's
master." He returned it to the chest and locked it.
Meanwhile, Kyle was rubbing his wrists.
Jenna's eyebrows rose and her mouth fell slightly open. Arturia
could guess that she received the proof that she was hoping for.
Arturia glanced at Eileen. There was a reason why she was brought
here. She decided to wait for their move. Peter cleared his
throat. He must be their appointed leader.
"Please sit everyone, and help yourselves to the tea and snacks on the
Arturia sat down on the nearest chair. With wry amusement, she
noticed that the table was round. Was this shape purposely chosen?
After everyone had a chance to sit down and get some tea, Peter spoke
again. "For centuries, we, the descendants of the Knights of the
Round Table, have waited for King Arthur's return. And now, at
last, our wait is over. Your Highness, I speak for all the
descendants. We have all agreed to serve you once more upon your
return. Please accept our service and loyalty."
Arturia was silent for several seconds. She did not expect
this. Her eyes met each of theirs in an effort to gauge their
sincerity and she was surprised at the eagerness in their eyes.
"I am... deeply moved by your offer of service. But how can you
serve two masters?"
Jenna spoke. "Yours is the true bloodline. The current
royalty is only in power because of your absence."
"We will still act as normal citizens just for show. But your
Highness will be our true king." added Kyle.
"Based on my study of current affairs, the Royal family has little
influence in the government of Britain. I don't see how I can be
"There are many of us who can sway the course in business and
politics. Knowing that you would return someday, we worked hard
to earn positions of influence in Britain. You don't have to be
the official king. You only have to be our king." explained
"No. You shouldn't be loyal to me. You should be loyal to
Britain." She studied the puzzled looks on their faces and
continued. "After I came to this time, I traveled across the
world and had a chance to see how people lived. Although there is
a bit of unrest here and there, overall, the world is in peace.
And when I finally returned to Britain, it was even more
apparent. I can only guess that it was no easy task to reach this
point. If that's the case, then the British people have achieved
this peace with their own hands. You, and those before you, have
achieved the dream that I longed to see: a united Britain where
everyone lives in peace and prosperity. You don't need a king to
bring you peace. Peace no longer lies on the shoulders of one,
but the shoulders of all. So instead of ruling over you, I wish
to learn about this time and work with you for the further glory of
"Then... if you're not going take power, why did you return to this
time?" asked Jenna.
"Jenna! Don't talk to her Highness like that!" admonished Peter.
Arturia raised a hand. "It's all right." She faced Jenna
and told her honestly. "I did it for love."
"Oh." Jenna covered her mouth partially with a hand.
"I don't expect you to understand."
Jenna nodded slightly. "I do understand. The House of
Mellant was founded on it." Her eyes glanced down and noted the
ring on her finger. "Is your Highness getting married soon?"
Arturia was a bit startled, but not as surprised as Peter and
Kyle. "Eventually, once my fiancée is ready."
"Who is she?" asked Jenna.
Peter's eyebrows went up. "She?"
Jenna threw a sly look at the men. "Do you really expect King
Arthur to yield to a man?" Then she drew herself up with
pride. "Besides, King Arthur had a queen. Your Highness,
may I be so bold as to offer my assistance for your wedding? I'd
like the lessen the burden of planning on your fiancée."
"And me as well!" added Peter quickly. "I have several
properties which would be suitable for a reception."
"And me too! My family owns several restaurants. We can
Arturia laughed. "I am grateful for your offers of
assistance. But I have to consult with Rin first, since I am not
acquainted with modern wedding customs."
"Just leave it to me, your Highness! I can plan everything for
"Now, wait just a second..." protested Peter.
Arturia watched with wry amusement as the conversation escalated into
an argument between the three. After a few minutes, Arturia
clapped her hands loudly and spoke with authority in her voice.
"Be silent and sit down!"
They immediately stopped and took their seats with embarrassed looks on
their faces. She cleared her throat.
"In Camelot, the knights settled their differences by jousting.
Perhaps, you can decide your duties in a similar fashion."
Kyle announced his challenge. "18 Holes!"
"You're on." accepted Peter. Then he paused. "But
what about Jenna?"
"I can play." When Peter's jaw dropped, she added cheekily,
"What, don't think a woman can play?"
Peter chuckled a little. "Sorry. Didn't mean to offend
you. You don't look like the type."
Jenna just shook her head in exasperation. Then she composed
herself and gave Arturia a card. "Your Highness, if there's
anything you need, please don't hesitate to call me."
Peter and Kyle offered their cards as well. Arturia smiled at
their enthusiasm as she accepted the cards. "Thank you,
all." Then a thought occurred to her, and she decided to ask them
since she had their attention. "Actually, since I am not familiar
with modern customs, may I ask for some suggestions on what to give Rin
In an instant, Arturia was inundated with suggestions. Each
suggestion was countered with a reason why it was not acceptable.
And once again, the conversation escalated into another argument.
But this time, Arturia let them argue. To be among friends like
these was just too amusing.
After they left the hotel, Arturia thought that Eileen was driving back
to the Aerie. Instead, she drove through a heavily forested park
and even left the paved road to drive through a dusty path. They
parked at a small clearing and went on foot until they reached another
clearing where a circle of stones was arranged. Three men and a
woman were seated on small boulders within the circle of stones.
They stood up on their approach. When they were close enough,
Eileen stepped aside and the four spoke in unison.
"Hail Arturia Pendragon ab Uther, former High King of Britain."
Eileen gestured to a tall young man with very blond hair. "Your
Highness, allow me to introduce Lord Alvin, descendant of Taliesin and
current Lord of the Pentacle."
Alvin bowed. "Please have a seat, your Highness."
When Arturia was seated, Eileen introduced the rest. Each one
bowed as Eileen made the introduction.
First was a middle-aged woman with graying black hair. "Your
Highness, this is Amelia, descendant of Merlin Ambrosius."
She gestured to a plump middle-aged man with balding brown hair.
"This is Vincent, descendant of Vivian of the Lake."
Then she gestured to an elderly man with a white beard and thick
glasses. "This is Luke, descendant of Lailoken of the Woods."
"I am pleased to meet all of you. But if I remember correctly,
the Pentacle has five mages."
"Yes. Marlen is the fifth. I am here on her behalf."
explained Eileen as she sat down on a leveled boulder.
"Oh." Her eyes wandered from face to face. The last time
she met with the Pentacle was before her coronation. She wondered
why they had gathered here. Her eyes rested on Alvin. As
Lord of the Pentacle, he would lead the conversation. She did not
have to wait too long before Alvin spoke.
"Your Highness, we have listened to your meeting with the descendants
of the knights. Despite all of that, we implore you to be our
king as well as theirs. But our reasons are different. We
want a king who could not be influenced by magic. We want a king
who is unfettered by modern politics... a king who would rule by
just and humane morality. As our king, you would preside over not
just the British mages, but the entire European mage population."
Arturia was stunned. "Why me?"
"Because you were chosen by Caliburn." answered Amelia.
"For generations, my family kept Excalibur and Avalon for the one who
would wield it. They turned away so many kings until they
accepted you. You are the chosen one." added Vincent. "With
Excalibur and Avalon, you are immune to most magic. That makes it
difficult to threaten you. It also makes it easy to enforce
justice on errant mages."
"The stars foretold your birth and your rise to the throne. There
were signs in the heavens on your return to this time as well." said
Luke with an air of mystery.
"You were once king over both normal and magical people. As far
as people are concerned, then and now aren't that much
different." said Amelia.
"The current royalty is not aware of the presence of magical people nor
would they understand us. Our issues are too different from
normal people. But you have experienced both worlds. We
understand that you are new to the modern world. We are prepared
to wait until you are ready to assume the throne. All we ask is
that you please keep us in mind." said Alvin.
Arturia sighed and gave a speech similar to the one that she gave
Peter, Kyle and Jenna. After she was done, she saw that she was
not able to convince any of them to give up the request to be the
king. In the end, she gave up and just said, "Let me think about
She heard a careful step behind her and a soft rustle of
clothing. Arturia smiled and returned her attention to the
historical video before her. She did not have to wait long until
Rin's hands cupped her eyes.
"The man of my dreams?"
"What?!" exclaimed Rin in a sharp tone.
Arturia stood up and wrapped Rin in her arms. "My greatest
Rin smiled winsomely. "Better." She awarded her prize.
After several sweet kisses, Rin drew away and asked, "How's it going?"
Arturia eyed the stack of DVDs. "I'm watching the Industrial age
now. There's a lot to learn." She laughed. "It's hard
to believe that dinosaurs existed."
"If you think that's unbelievable, wait till you watch the Americans
land on the Moon."
"Yeah. You'll see. Anyway, I came to ask if you'd like to
come with me to the Academy."
Arturia's eyes brightened. The videos were interesting, but she
had not gone outside for a week. "Of course! I'd love to
see it. When?"
"Tomorrow. I have to register for classes and deliver a package
"Okay. Just fetch me. You know where to find me."
Rin kissed her. "Break's over. Gotta go back."
Arturia kissed her back. "See you at dinner."
They entered a grand hall with two corridors extending to the right and
to the left. Rin led her aside to one of the benches along the
"In the Academy, mages have to wear robes." She touched a
bracelet on her wrist and her clothes changed to a red robe with a
silver cross embroidered in front. A triangular piece of cloth
with embroidered symbols was draped over her right shoulder. On
the sleeves of the robe was the emblem of the Tohsaka.
Arturia gasped slightly. She recognized the robe from her dreams.
Rin looked at her. "What's wrong?"
"I've seen this robe in my dreams, especially the one during the mana
transfer." Her eyes shone with wonder and she cupped Rin's hand
between hers. "It was you all along. I should've realized
Rin blushed and glanced around for people who might be watching
them. Then she took Arturia's hand in hers. "Let's
go. I want to show you the Academy."
They visited the classrooms, the large lecture halls, the training
halls and the library. Then they went to the dorms. Rin led
her to the hilly slope behind the dorms. She swept her hand
across the landscape below.
"This was my view from my dorm room."
"It's beautiful..." breathed Arturia.
For several minutes, they stood there and watched. As Arturia's
eyes wandered over the thriving fields and the bustling town, joy
filled her heart. To see people living peacefully in the land
that she loved so much overwhelmed her restraint and a tear sprang from
her eye. Then she remembered Bedivere's question before she lost
consciousness after the battle of Camlann.
"Do you behold it, King Arthur? The continuation of
A gentle warmth flowed through her as she watched the valley
below. She could answer it now. "I see it, Bedivere... the
continuation of my dream..." Then she glanced at Rin.
"...and a new future."
They watched the valley in silence for a while. So many things
had happened to bring them to this moment. Once again, Arturia
thanked God for His kindness. Then she turned to Rin and asked,
"Where's your room?"
Rin pointed to a window on the fifth floor. "Third window from
the right. I can't show it to you since someone else is living
there." Then a thought occurred to her and she took Arturia's
hand. "But I know someone who lives in that building."
They went up to the fourth floor and made their way to a room.
Rin knocked on the door. The door opened after a few moments.
"Hey, Rin. Long time no see." greeted a brunette who was
about five and half feet tall and wore thick glasses. Freckles
adorned her pert face. "I was beginning to think you weren't
coming back. Come on in. I'll get your mail in a sec."
"Sorry. I couldn't send any letters from where I was. By
the way, this is Arturia. Arturia, this is Gail. We studied
together in school." Rin closed the door behind her and tried not
to bump the piles of books and scrolls all over the room.
Gail extracted a box from a pile and put it on the desk. She
extended a hand to Arturia. "Nice to meetcha."
Arturia shook her hand. "I'm pleased to meet you."
Gail looked her up and down and smirked at Rin. "So... when's the
Rin and Arturia twitched. "How... how did you know?" asked
"Matching rings was a tip-off. And her face looks like the
sketches you'd do in class. Especially the hairstyle."
Rin blushed. Was she that obvious? To change the subject,
she went to the desk and looked in the box. "Umm... is this my
"Yup. That's all of it." Then she added, "Blimey,
Rin... You don't have to be embarrassed in front of me. I'm
a modern woman. It's not like I haven't heard of same-sex
relationships before. There are lots of couples like that in
"Yup." Gail counted with her fingers. "Helen and Ivy.
Olga and Zelra. Tina and Yeshwe. Jasper and Nelson.
Plus, Master Jill and Master Falia."
"What?" Rin could not believe that the professors of astrology
and predictive arts were seeing each other.
"Yup. Betcha no one saw that coming but them."
Rin laughed heartily and Gail laughed with her. Good old
Gail. Quiet, attentive and reliable, Gail was her partner for the
projects that required teamwork. Rin gathered the mail out of the
box and stuffed them in her bag under her robe.
"Hey, do you mind if I show Arturia the view?"
"Sure." Gail waved her hand and parted the curtains. Rin
and Arturia looked outside for a minute.
"Are you graduating soon?"
"Staying for another semester. Are you taking grad?"
"Yeah. I'm here to register."
"Well, you better get going before the office closes. I'm going
to the library in a bit, so I'll probably run into you later."
"Okay, see you later."
They left the dorms and went to the professor's hall. Rin wanted
to deliver Marlen's package first. She knocked on Master
Skalyon's door. Meanwhile, Arturia leaned on the wall to wait for
Rin opened the door. An elderly man with a single spectacle over
his right eye peered at her behind a desk piled high with scrolls and
books. The walls of the office were lined with strange artifacts
and mutated modern gadgets.
"Master Skalyon, I have a package for you." She handed him the
Skalyon tore the package open and gently lifted what appeared to be a
GPS with an old-fashioned compass attached to its top rim.
"Ah, splendid..." he muttered. After playing with it for a
while, he put it back in the box and took a letter out of the
box. He opened the letter and read it.
"Please thank Renierre for the gift. Are you studying here?"
"Umm.... I'll be taking graduate classes next semester."
"Do you have an advisor yet?"
"No... I was thinking of asking Master Arase."
"Arase already has a dozen students working for him. Do you
really want your thesis to be the same as a dozen other people?"
Rin blinked. She had not thought about it that way.
"Well... I guess not."
"Renierre studied under me. She found my work very
interesting. I'm sure you will too. And, I have no students
at the moment."
Rin was not sure why Skalyon referred to Marlen as Renierre instead of
Emrys. She would have to ask Marlen later. However, one
fact remained. If Marlen studied under him, then he must be very
old. The man must be at least an Emeritus.
"Forgive my ignorance, but what is your field of study?"
"Pre-Roman lore and amalgam magic."
"Oh. I have to say that I haven't done amalgam magic before."
"All the more reason to study under me. Anyway, I won't force you
if you really want Arase. But I'd pleased to have you."
"Thank you. But first, I have to register before the office
closes. Bye, Master Skalyon."
"Bye." Skalyon made a small wave. Rin stepped out and
closed the door.
They left the hall and went to the registrar's office. She
selected two classes. After a moment of thought, she wrote down
Skalyon's name under advisor. It would be interesting to see how
Marlen was taught.
They were walking by the library when Gail caught up with them.
"Done with registration?"
"Yeah. Are you taking Advanced Alchemy?"
"Yup. Need a partner?"
Suddenly, Gail grabbed her arm. "Let's go this way. He's
They did not get very far when a haughty male voice called to
her. "Hey, Tohsaka!" A rustle of feet sounded behind them.
Rin bristled. She turned around to face Perecroft and his friends
while hiding her left hand under her robe. "Hello, Perecroft."
"Let's go to the Christmas ball."
Rin's eyebrows arched. "Ball?"
"You should've gotten your invite. You got yours, right
"It's Traleworth you ass. And yes, I got mine."
"Top five students from each class get invites. Since Troll's
number five, you should've gotten yours. You can meet me at the
manor at 5 PM sharp."
"I haven't agreed to go with you, Perecroft."
"Why not? I'm the top guy, you're the top girl."
"'Cause I don't want to. Let's go, Gail."
They turned around to leave, but Perecroft spoke with a leer.
"Sorry, Troll. I won't ask you. And don't ever call me ass
Gail let out a surprised scream as her robe and skirt flicked up to
reveal everything below her waist.
There was blur and a crack. When Rin turned around, Perecroft was
lying unconscious on the grass about five feet away. A bruise was
beginning to form on his jaw.
"For shame! Don't ever treat a lady so rudely!" scolded
Arturia even though her intended target was knocked out.
Rin just grabbed her arm and ran. Gail ran with them.
Meanwhile, Perecroft's friends shook themselves out of their stunned
disbelief. The taller one took out his wand.
He was about to run after them when his friend stopped him.
"Don't go, mate."
"'Cause that girl broke through his barrier."
His mouth fell open. "Shiiit..."
Meanwhile, the three of them ran until Rin felt like they were far
enough away. Rin and Gail panted to catch their breath while
Arturia looked back as if she was checking for pursuers.
Gail sat down on a bench. "Wow, Arturia... what did you do?"
"I punched him."
"I know that, but how did you get past his barrier?"
Rin intervened. "He probably forgot to put it up. Arturia
got lucky. Anyway, we have to get going. Take care."
"You too. Bye." Gail waved.
Gail stared at them as they left. "What are you hiding,
Rin?" she asked silently. She decided to go to the ball
after all. Perecroft would be there. If Rin went with
Arturia, things would certainly get very interesting. And that
was something she did not want to miss.
After they returned to the Aerie, Rin told Marlen what happened in
Skalyon's office. Marlen nodded approvingly.
"I guarantee that you won't be bored at all."
"Master, may I ask a question that might be personal?"
"What is it?"
"Skalyon called you Renierre."
"Oh, that. Maman's maiden name. After the incident with
Vortigern, the Emrys didn't want people to pry into our private
lives. So when we deal with the outside world, we use the last
name of our other mother."
"Oh. Makes sense."
After she finished with Marlen, Rin went back to her room. As if
on cue, Arturia exited her room and followed her in. Rin dumped
her mail on her desk. Sure enough, the invitation was
there. She tore it open and read it. The ball was on
"Let's go Rin." said Arturia who was looking over her shoulder.
Rin glanced up. Arturia's eyes glinted with eagerness.
"You don't mind being with me in front of strangers?"
"No. Do you?"
"Well... I... no. I don't mind." Why did she feel so
uncertain? What was she afraid of?
Arturia clasped her hand. "Rin... if it bothers you, then let's
Rin swallowed. She must face it. "It doesn't. We'll
"But if you change your mind, just let me know. All right?"
"It's getting late. Shall we go to bed?"
Rin's face brightened up. "Sure."
The moment of truth had come. Rin walked nervously behind her
godfather within the Einzbern manor. They went to a large room
and discussed the spells that were in place. Then they descended
to the lower levels by a hidden elevator. As they examined the
traps and barriers, Rin tried to make elementary suggestions that would
be appropriate for someone who just graduated and purposely held back
advanced techniques that she learned from the Emrys.
Finally, after four days of consulting, they finished revising all the
traps and barriers. When they left the manor, her godfather
praised her for all her suggestions.
"Well done, Rin! By the way, the paperwork should be done by the
beginning of next year."
"Thank you, godfather. You give me too much credit though.
They took a lot of your suggestions."
"Hahahaha... they certainly did. Anyway, Suzumi and I will be
touring Germany for the rest of the week. Do you want to come
"Ummm... no, thank you, godfather. I have to meet with my advisor
over my graduate work."
"Oh? Who's your advisor?"
"Hmmm... he's an eccentric one. When I was there, I heard he only
takes one student. But I also heard he's really good. But
if you want another advisor, try Welltinton."
"I'm sorry, godfather. Welltinton passed away on my third year."
"Oh, a shame. Well, good luck with Skalyon then."
They returned to their hotel and her godfather went back to his room
while Rin went to hers. As soon as she got to her room, she
called to book her flight. She missed Arturia so much.
Marlen grinned widely after Rin made her report. "You did well,
Rin. I don't think they noticed anything."
"Thank you, Master." She beamed happily with her praise.
Marlen put an arm around Nell's neck and Nell stood up with her in her
arms. "This calls for a celebration. Be prepared for a full
French course for dinner. We'll get you bleeding drunk tonight."
Rin woke up with a dreadful hangover the next day. But she smiled
happily. As an added bonus, Marlen allowed her to stay at
Sakura's place until the ball. Eileen even gave her permission to
use one of the BMWs.
The door opened and Arturia came in with a tray of food. Rin
glanced at her watch. 1:54 PM.
"How are you feeling?"
"I want my head chopped off."
"That's unacceptable. It'll be so hard heal you. Can't you
do something about it?"
"Maybe... I'll have to look up a potion for it."
"Michelle made some soup for you."
Rin sat up and let Arturia setup the bed tray for her. She
cheerfully played the part of the helpless patient and let Arturia feed
her. After eating, her head was still aching, but she felt a
"Eileen said that she'll drive us over tonight."
"But how will she get back?"
Arturia laughed. "Silly. She can fly."
They laughed together. It was good to be home.
To celebrate their visit, Sakura made a delicious japanese meal.
Rin's mouth watered at the sight. After the harsh German cuisine,
the sight of japanese food was very appealing.
They ate with much appetite and finished almost all of the
entrees. Then they helped Sakura clear the table and wash the
dishes. After that, they watched a movie before going to bed.
The bed in the second bedroom was smaller than the beds in the Aerie,
but comfortable enough for two. Arturia began to kiss her
gently. Soon, their exchange of kisses ignited flames of desire,
so Rin locked the door and cast silentium. After their raging
passion consumed itself, they snuggled against each other and dreamt
the night away.
The morning greeted them with the sound of Sakura cooking in the
kitchen. Rin looked at her watch drowsily and decided to stay in
bed a little longer. Suddenly, there was a knock on their door.
Before she could react, the door opened. The best that Rin could
manage was to pull the blankets over her shoulders and Arturia's.
Sakura's wide eyes met her panicked ones. Her hand covered her
mouth. "S--- sorry..." She hastily exited and closed the
door behind her.
Rin cursed internally. It did not help that their nightgowns and
underwear were on the floor. But wait. She was certain that
she locked the door. How was Sakura able to open it?
Later that day, she left the house and used the crystal to call
Marlen. Marlen's image floated within the crystal. She told
her what happened. Marlen looked thoughtful.
"It's rare, but there have been accounts of spontaneous sorcery.
I wouldn't be surprised if your sister is such a case."
"What should I do, Master?"
"Continue to teach her, of course. The more she understands how
to control her power, the less the chances of 'accidents'
happening. I hate to say this, but unless she shows a greater
degree of control, I can't let her in the Aerie. There are too
many magical things around that may react to her."
Rin perked up. "Does that mean that I should stay with her
Marlen's face darkened for a moment and then she sighed. "Yes, I
suppose so. We can arrange for you to do your studies over
there and only come here when I need you."
Rin jumped with joy internally. "Thank you, Master. Is
there anything you need at the moment?"
"No. Just carry on and let me know if anything strange happens."
"Cheerio." The crystal went dark. Rin smiled widely and
pocketed it before returning to the house.
The days passed peacefully. One afternoon, Rin was brushing
Sakura's hair when she noticed that her roots were black. She
glanced at the mirror and also noted that her purple eyes were tinted
with a shade of blue.
"Sakura... your eyes..."
"Hmmm?" Sakura stared at the mirror. "You mean this?
Shiro said that the Matou cast a spell on me. Before he left, he
broke the spell." She looked up at Rin. "I can feel it,
Nee-san. Soon, I'll be my real self."
Rin's eyes brimmed with tears. "I look forward to it." She
brushed her hair and braided it.
"There. All done."
Sakura shifted left and right to look at the braids. "It's
pretty! Thank you."
A shuffle near the doorway caught her attention. Arturia stood
there with her hair down.
"Er... my ribbon came off."
Rin laughed. "Come here."
Sakura stood up to let Arturia sit in front of the mirror. She
walked out of the room quietly, but turned around to watch Rin brush
Arturia's hair. Arturia breathed a contented sigh as Rin ran the
brush through in gentle strokes. Then she gathered up a lock of
hair and let it cascade through her fingers in a falling shower of gold.
Sakura felt like she was intruding, so she padded away silently to let
them have some privacy.
They arrived at the ball in Marlen's BMW sedan. Before they
exited, they put on their masks. The masks covered the upper half
of their face, but exposed their mouths and lower cheeks.
They followed Eileen and Michelle into the reception room where they
were asked to sign in using pseudonyms. Arturia wrote down
"Bedivere and Airianne". They were given an armband with
'Bedivere' on it and a wide ribbon with 'Airianne'.
"Why those names?" whispered Rin as she pinned the ribbon on her
Arturia slipped the armband on. "No reason."
Then they went into the grand ballroom. Eileen and Michelle
immediately engaged in conversation with other people. Rin looked
about with her magesight and tried to unmask the attendees. The
object of the masquerade was to hide one's identity and to let the
other person guess who you are. If the guess was correct, the
mask will dissolve. So far, Eileen was leaving a trail of
unmasked attendees in her wake.
She got excited when she recognized a few professors. And then
she frowned. Their masking spell was too simple. Did they
want to be recognized?
Then Rin noticed that Arturia was staring at the fruit table,
particularly, the tray of strawberries. She chuckled to
herself. She led her to the table and they selected some
fruit. They went to an empty table and ate.
While they ate, they watched the attendees who wore a variety of
outfits from the medieval era to the modern time. Rin laughed at
the sight of a matching couple of Elvis impersonators. There was
a daring couple wearing revealing Greek tunics. She ran a hand on
the gown she wore to the first ball she ever went to. Wearing it
felt like reliving that night again. She glanced at Arturia who
was wearing her outfit from that ball. She wore the blue double
tailed waistcoat and white breeches. Instead of a bun, her hair
was tied back with a ponytail and thin ribbon. She looked so
About ten minutes later, the emcee got their attention with a fanfare
of trumpets. They listened to the welcome speech. But what
caught Rin's attention was the contest. Several types of dances
would be held. The Pentacle would judge the dances and award the
title Lord and Lady of the Dance to the couple who won the most
points. The winning couple would also be allowed to extract a
magical artifact from the Chest of Wonders.
Dinner would be served first, followed by a resting period and then the
dance contest. About fifteen minutes after the emcee was
finished, Eileen and Michelle joined them at their table for
dinner. Both of them were already unmasked. Rin wondered
who could have guessed their identities.
Dinner was a choice of a succulent steak or grilled salmon with braised
vegetables. An open bar provided a variety of drinks which Eileen
and Michelle took advantage of. When they were finished with
dinner, Rin and Arturia wandered off to explore the ballroom.
She was not expecting to find it, and was elated to discover it.
Rin selected one that was in an area with less people around.
"Are you familiar with this custom?" Rin pointed at the
Arturia's eyes brightened. "Yes." She reached up and
plucked a berry off the mistletoe. Then she took Rin in her arms
and did her best to kiss her even with their masks in the way.
After their first kiss, she reached up again.
"We should leave some for other people."
She plucked another berry. "Let them find their own mistletoe."
Rin laughed heartily and savored another kiss.
When the berries were gone, they went back to their table. Eileen
and Michelle had resumed their unmasking frenzy.
To pass the time, Rin pointed out all the people she recognized and
what they did at the Academy. However, she was surprised to see
Gail and Wilbur. She was tempted to call them over, but that
might reveal their identity. Instead, she pointed them out to
"There's Gail in the green dress. The short fat boy next to her
is Wilbur. He ranked third in the Academy. He may look
harmless, but he's very smart."
To her great chagrin, she also recognized Perecroft among the
crowd. Thankfully, he was too busy bothering some professors.
Around ten minutes later, the emcee announced the first dance of the
contest to be the Jive. Rin peered over the heads of the dancers
to see five masked mages sitting at a table on a raised platform.
They were surprised to see Michelle return alone.
"Where's Eileen?" asked Arturia.
"Marlen isn't here, so she took her place."
"Oh." Rin craned her neck and tried to identify Eileen.
Unfortunately, her magesight could not penetrate any of the masks.
They watched the dancers and voted for the ones they liked. They
repeated this for each dance. Finally, the emcee announced the
final dance: the Waltz.
Arturia grinned widely and touched Rin's hand. Rin paled under
her mask while Michelle laughed.
"Go, ma cherie. Don't worry about winning. Just enjoy
Arturia stood up and went to Rin's side. "Milady, may I have this
Rin hesitated for a moment and then put her hand on Arturia's upturned
palm. Arturia escorted her to the dance floor as if she were
presenting a beautiful blossom to the world. They faced each
other and bowed before assuming the proper position.
When the music started, they flowed through its rhythms. Eye to
eye, they felt each other's movements and responded with elegant
grace. Arturia led Rin in time with the music, tracing intricate
patterns across the floor. Rin answered in kind, and their
swaying bodies moved as one.
When the music ended, they reluctantly parted and bowed to signal the
end of the dance. Suddenly, they heard clapping all around
them. When they looked around, they saw the other dancers and the
audience clapping. They blushed under their masks and bowed to
receive the applause. Then they made their way back to their
table. Michelle beamed at them proudly.
"Magnifique! Both of you were so beautiful!" exclaimed
Michelle as she hugged them.
The emcee announced that while the votes were being tallied, the floor
was open to free dance. Rock music began to play and people
milled onto the dance floor.
Michelle grabbed both of their hands. "Come, mon amies.
"But I don't know how to dance to this." protested Arturia.
"It doesn't matter. Just follow along."
They walked back onto the dance floor. Rin could feel the weight
of stares in their direction. She hoped that her masking spell
would keep her identity secret.
About twenty minutes later, Eileen came back. Michelle whirled
her and dipped her.
"Dahling, what took you so long?"
Eileen giggled. "We had to make sure that each ballot was valid."
Michelle gave a mocking laugh. "I can just imagine their faces
when they get an artifact from the Chest."
Eileen winked. "All in good fun."
Then the emcee caught everyone's attention. He announced each
dance and invited the winners to come to the stage. It became
evident who would be the Lord and Lady of the Dance when a couple won
thrice. Then the emcee announced the winners of the waltz.
"Bedivere and Airianne! Please come to the stage."
They walked to the stage amidst the applause and whistles of the
attendees. Then they stood there with the three other couples.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen... let me present the Lord and Lady of
the Dance! Aladdin and Leah!"
The crowd clapped loudly and cheered as the couple waved and blew
kisses to the crowd. A cart with the Chest stopped before them
and each of them pulled out a colorfully wrapped box.
"And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for! Winners,
please remove your masks and accept your glory."
The Lord and Lady flung off their masks and the crowd cheered.
The other winners took off their masks as well. Meanwhile, Rin
was petrified. Her hands trembled slightly as her eyes took in
the large crowd before her. She glanced at Arturia who stood just
as still. She was waiting for her.
Rin drew a shuddering breath. She could do this. She did
not mind. Not at all. Her hands slowly rose to her face and
removed the mask. It disappeared in a shower of sparks. In
the audience, she could see the surprised looks of Gail, Wilbur,
Perecroft and the professors from the Academy. That's
right. She should not care about what they would think.
A shower of sparks beside her indicated that Arturia took hers
off. The surprised expressions turned to incredulous ones.
Wilbur's mouth moved and Gail slapped her hand over it. A sinking
feeling sank in Rin's stomach. They might have seen them by the
Meanwhile, Perecroft glared with obvious malice at Arturia.
After accepting a bouquet of flowers, the winners left the stage.
The floor was open for free dance once again.
They went back to their table. People came by and complimented
them. A few minutes later, Gail and Wilbur visited them.
Their masks were already gone.
"That was absolutely brill!" said Gail.
"Y--yeah... Y--you were g--great." said Wilbur.
Poor Wilbur. If he did not have a stutter, he would be a great
mage. But he was able to work around it by practicing silent
incantation. Rin smiled sincerely at both of them.
"Thanks. By the way, Wilbur, this is Arturia."
Wilbur extended his hand. "N--nice t-- meet y--you."
Arturia shook his hand. "I'm pleased to meet you."
"Hey, Rin, did you see them?"
"The Pentacle. I tried, even with my Lens of Misillusion, but I
couldn't see them."
"No. I didn't."
"But yours was good too! I didn't recognize you." Then her
face twisted with annoyance. "That ass Perecroft unmasked
us. By the way, that snotty git is probably planning
something. Be careful, okay?"
"Always. Thanks for the warning though."
They talked about school for a few minutes before Eileen and Michelle
danced by and hustled them all onto the dance floor. Soon, they
were laughing at each other over their awkward attempts to dance.
However, when the music switched to a waltz, some dancers, including
Eileen and Michelle, stopped to watch Rin and Arturia.
"They dance so well." remarked Eileen.
"Dahling, they're not just dancing." corrected Michelle with a
twinkle in her eye.
Just then, Arturia dipped Rin and gazed at her longingly. For
several moments, they seemed frozen in that position as Rin answered in
kind. Then Arturia drew her up and resumed their slow waltz.
Eileen released her bated breath. After the dip, she expected
Arturia to kiss Rin. She glanced over to her wife who followed
them with her eyes fondly. Deliberately, she stepped before her
to block her view. Michelle arched her eyebrow.
She extended her hand. "Shall we try it their way, my lady?"
Michelle smiled, crinkling the soft wrinkles around her mouth.
She took Eileen's hand. "Lead the way, my Emrys."
Around eleven, the guests began to leave. Thankfully, Eileen and
Michelle wore themselves out and wanted to go home. They made
their way out. Rin was not surprised to see Perecroft waiting
"I've a score to settle with you, bitch. I challenge you to a
"Where?" said Arturia, indicating her acceptance.
They followed Perecroft to an open area on the snow-covered parking
lot. Rin glanced back and was surprised to see Gail and Wilbur
following them along with other attendees.
"Rin, what are the rules of the duel?" asked Arturia.
"You pretty much beat each other up with spells and weapons until one
of you yields or falls unconscious, or in some cases... dies."
Rin's face hardened. "But killing your opponent counts as murder
even in a duel."
"I see. Can you give me a sword?"
Rin conjured a steel sword and handed it to her. Then Arturia
strode toward Perecroft.
Perecroft stood about twenty-five feet away from Arturia and took out
his wand which elongated into a staff. His clothes melted away
into a black battle outfit with reinforced armor over vulnerable areas.
"Hey Kincade! We need a referee."
Wilbur waddled over and stood off to the side equidistant from
Perecroft and Arturia. He took out his wand. Crisscrossing
beams of light flowed from him and formed walls twenty feet high to his
left and right until the walls formed a fence around the duelers'
battle area. The fence defined a battle area of fifty feet wide
and seventy feet long. Meanwhile, everyone else stood about
thirty feet away from the fence.
"D--duel ends w--when..."
"Skip that. I'm going to win anyway." boasted Perecroft.
"R--ready... s--set... g-"
Perecroft leveled his staff. "Fireball!"
A ball of flame sped towards Arturia. She crouched very low and
sprinted to the side, slashing left and right. The flame angled
upwards and flew harmlessly into the sky.
Perecroft fired again, but somehow the flame veered when she slashed
with her sword. She was getting closer. He
concentrated and manipulated the fireball for speed instead of
"Let's see you dodge this..." He released it.
To his great chagrin, she dove to the ground and rolled. The
fireball missed her by mere inches and punched a hole through the
Still on the ground, she slashed across, and the snow before her flew
up in a flurry of white. Snow hit his barrier and he cursed as it
covered his view. He cast a low power heat spell to melt the snow
and looked at where Arturia was before. She was not there and he
could not tell where she went because there was no snow to show her
Suddenly, he heard a loud crack behind him. He whirled around and
blacked out as strong blow hit his jaw.
"W--win g--goes to A--Arturia." declared Wilbur proudly.
With a wave of his wand, the fence disappeared. The audience
Arturia dusted the snow off her clothes and walked to where Rin
was. "Shall we go?"
"Yes." She turned to Gail who was still wearing her Lens of
Misillusion. "I hope you enjoyed the fight. Anyway, Happy
Holidays and I'll see you next year."
Gail took off her Lens. "Happy Holidays, Rin... and
Arturia. Take care, both of you."
Wilbur waited until Rin and Arturia left in their car. Then he
turned to Gail. "W--what d--did y--you s--see?"
"Oh my God... I think she's a class A Paladin."
Wilbur's jaw dropped. "No w--way..."
Gail rubbed her hands to warm them up. "I'll tell you in the
car." Before they walked back to the car, she went over to the
unconscious Perecroft and kicked dirt into his face. She was so
glad she came to the ball.
They celebrated a quiet Christmas dinner with Sakura. When the
clock announced midnight, they opened their presents. Sakura gave
them matching hand knit scarves. They gave her a cute winter
outfit and a down-filled winter coat.
Arturia handed Rin an envelope. She opened it and found two
tickets to a spa inside the Christmas card.
Arturia smiled sheepishly. "My massages aren't really that
good. I was told that this place is the best."
Rin smiled back. "Don't say that. I love your
massages. Anyway, here's your present."
Arturia removed the wrapping and opened the box. Inside were
several shirts and skirts of different colors.
"You always seemed to be wearing that." said Rin, indicating the
white shirt and blue skirt. "I hope you like these."
Arturia tugged on her shirt. "This? Why shouldn't I wear
it? It's your first gift to me."
Rin blushed and hugged her. Suddenly, she felt
self-conscious. Sakura was nearby. She pulled away.
At Rin's rare display of affection, Sakura giggled at the sight.
Then she yawned. "I think I'll go to bed now. Good night."
"Good night." Rin and Arturia responded in chorus.
Rin took Arturia's hand and whispered. "I have another present
for you in our room."
Arturia's eyebrows arched in curiosity and she let Rin lead her to
their room. Rin handed her another present. She tore the
"Edible underwear. Strawberry flavored." she read.
She gazed mischievously at Rin. "You're going to wear this for
"It's for you. You're supposed to wear it." protested Rin with an
increasing blush on her cheeks.
"But a gift is meant to be enjoyed by the receiver." Arturia
pinned the box under her arm and began to unbutton Rin's blouse.
Her eyes leered at her. "And only the receiver knows the best way
to enjoy it."
As her blouse fell to the floor, Rin almost regretted giving that kind
After the New Year, they returned to Japan in order to make an attempt
at summoning Archer on the fifth. Sakura wanted to go, but Marlen
forbade it. Eileen felt sorry for her and told her that she would
devise a way for her to see Shiro. Rin asked her how, but she
merely smiled and said that it was a secret.
On the day of the summoning, Eileen revealed how. Rin stared at
the life-sized inflatable doll wearing a purple wig and a dress.
"So you say that Sakura is somehow controlling this... doll?"
"Yes. Say hello, Sakura."
The doll waved a puffed up arm. "Hi..."
"I knew she was weird... I just didn't understand how much."
thought Rin. She began to pity poor Marlen who had no choice in
being raised by two weird mothers. "Well... as long as she's not
detected, it's fine."
Rin etched out the summoning circle with the butt of her staff.
This time, they moved the furniture to the adjoining room since Archer
caused so much damage in it when he was summoned.
After she was done she began the ritual, she formed the image of Archer
in her mind and concentrated. The magic circle glowed red.
She could feel an energy similar to the one she experienced during the
first summoning. Her heart began to beat excitedly and she tried
to focus on finishing the incantation. The energy around her rose
with each word, and with the final word, caused the magic circle to
burst into streams of red light.
Rin held her breath for a moment before opening her eyes. She
looked around but only saw Arturia and Eileen's hopeful faces.
Her shoulders slumped in defeat. It was too much to expect to
succeed the first time. With a deep breath, she lifted her hands
to make another attempt.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash in the adjoining room. They
rushed to the doorway. There, seated amongst the rubble and
broken furniture, was Archer, or rather, Shiro.
"So... which of you ladies is my master?" asked Shiro in a cocky tone.
Rin recovered from her shock and conjured a harisen. "Sakura..."
The inflatable doll grabbed the harisen and bounced over the
rubble. It began to whack Shiro repeatedly.
"How dare you! Don't you recognize me? This will teach you
to leave me alone!"
Arturia whispered in Rin's ear. "You trained her well."
"Oh... it's in her blood then."
"Are you implying something?"
"No. Not at all."
Finally, the doll stopped, threw its arms around Shiro and cried.
"You big dummy!"
Shiro hugged the doll on reflex. A few moments later, he asked,
"What am I doing?"
Rin rubbed her forehead at the weirdness of the situation. She
was glad that she decided to send the servants on vacation.
"You're hugging Sakura. Well... not Sakura... she's controlling
that doll since she can't be here."
"Oooookaaaay....." Shiro carried the doll and walked out of the
rubble. He put the doll down.
"You're looking good, Rin." Then he turned to Arturia.
"Nice to see you again, Saber."
Without warning, he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her.
Arturia's eyes bulged out in surprise. She pulled away and
slapped him. Hard. As she wiped her mouth on her sleeve,
she glared at him angrily. "Don't ever do that again." she
growled. Then she put her arm around Rin and pulled her
close. "You should take care of your wife, and I'll take care of
Shiro stared at them with disbelief. Then he ran his hand over
his white hair. "Damn... I guess I'm too late. Oh well..."
He went to the doll which appeared to be crying its eyes out, and
looped an arm around its shoulders. "On second thought, I think I
got the better bargain."
The ensuing silence was only broken by pieces of rubble dropping from
the hole in the ceiling. Then Rin bristled with indignation and
conjured another harisen.
"You jerk!" Rin wound up for a strike.
But the doll held up its arm. "Stop it, Nee-san. This is my
"Oh... okay..." She handed the harisen to the doll which
proceeded to beat Shiro again.
After things settled down, Rin introduced Shiro to Eileen. Then
she ordered some take-out and made Shiro clean up the room.
"So... when are we going to the Throne?" asked Shiro as he swept
"Excuse me?" said Rin.
"It's the root of all this mess. If the Throne is destroyed,
there'll be no more wars."
Rin simmered with anger. At least, Sakura did not hear him since
Eileen dispelled the doll. "You've just gotten back! Can't
you let up?"
"No. I can't. Not when I have a chance to destroy it.
Besides... a part of me is still in the Throne."
"What?! Didn't I summon you?"
Shiro nodded. "Yup. But as insurance, a part of the hero is
left in the Throne to make sure he'll go back. Your summon was
very good. I'll probably hang around for a month or two.
But after that, I'll get pulled back."
"Damn. We have to talk to Marlen about this."
"My master. And her daughter."
"Don't worry. We'll figure something out." assured Eileen.
"I sure hope so..." said Shiro glumly.
The take-out food was barely edible compared to Sakura's cooking.
They cleaned up the dining table after eating. Rin yawned.
The ritual consumed a lot of mana, and she felt sleepy. She and
Arturia were halfway up the stairs when she heard the doorbell
ring. She went back down the stairs and activated the gate
Her heart leapt when she saw the shadowy face of her godfather in the
dim light. With a press of a button, she released the gate and
ran out to meet him. He stopped when he saw her halfway down the
"Good evening, godfather." Rin bowed.
"Good evening, Rin." responded Kurogami curtly. He paused for a
moment and then asked, "Rin, is it true that you're seeing a girl?"
Rin paled. "What...? Where did you hear that?"
Kurogami's mouth drew to a tight line. "Yoshida-san heard a rumor
at the Academy. It's not true, right?"
Yoshida was one of her suitors. During their 'date', he told her
that he was a third year at the Academy. "I never bother with
rumors, godfather. It's beneath me. Anyway, please come
in. It's cold."
"Then explain this to me." He pulled a picture out from his
pocket. It was a picture of her and Arturia dancing at the
ball. "That's her, isn't it? The girl who was here last
Trapped like a mouse, Rin was forced to agree. "Yes." She
could not say anything more. Words caught in her throat.
Kurogami's warm breath billowed like smoke in the cold air. "Rin,
you're the only heir of the Tohsaka. It's your duty to continue
the Tohsaka line." His voice dropped like the temperature around
them. "I hate to do this to you, but I have no choice. You
have six months in which to find a husband and get married. He
doesn't have to be a mage. Just someone you like."
Rin's eyes blazed in defiance, but she did her best to remain
calm. "What if I don't?"
"Then the estate will go to your next of kin. One of your
"I see. Is there anything else you want to talk about,
godfather?" she asked icily.
"No." He paused and stared at her with a melancholic look in his
eye. "I love you like a daughter, Rin. But I have to do my
duty. I hope you'll do yours. Good night." He turned
on his heel and walked back to the gate.
Rin watched him leave before heading back into the house. As soon
as she closed the door, Arturia and Shiro came over.
"Rin... I'm so sorry that being with me is difficult for you."
said Arturia with a breaking voice as she reached for Rin's
hands. Rin's eyes widened.
Shiro shrugged. "Sorry, Rin. I saw you talking, so I read
his lips and told Arturia what he said."
Rin embraced Arturia closely. "It doesn't matter what he
thinks. You're the one I want." That's right. Even
though she worked hard for her original goal of becoming a worthy heir,
that was not the goal she wanted anymore. She held her
tighter. She would damn anyone who would prevent her from
enjoying the fruit of her labors.
"But what about the estate?"
"The money would be nice to have, but it also comes with duties to the
allies of the Tohsaka, which includes the Matou and the Einzbern.
After being in Germany, I don't want to be around them again."
Sakura's face flashed in her mind. "I don't need the
estate. I already have what I need."
She tenderly touched her left arm. "Rin... I... I can't give you
Her heart stopped. The reality hit her and her muscles went rigid
as understanding crept into her mind. The Tohsaka were not
defined by wealth or influence. They were defined by the strength
of their magic. It was their pride, their true power. For
generations, this power was transferred to the child who was born with
the magic seal. Goosebumps erupted on her left arm as her seal
stirred with mana. Even if her next of kin took over the estate,
even if his last name was Tohsaka, he would not be a true Tohsaka
without the seal. Was she selfish enough to abandon their pride,
the magic that defined who they were?
But there was one more Tohsaka who had a strong magic circuit even
without the seal. She hoped and prayed silently for
forgiveness. "I'm so sorry for this burden, Sakura..."
She took Arturia's hands, steeled her voice and spoke carefully to mask
her loss. "I know. But even so, please stay with me."
"Oh, Rin..." Arturia buried her face in her shoulder and let a
tear seep from her eye. "I love you."
"I love you too." Rin moved to kiss her.
"Aherrrmmm..." Shiro cleared his throat noisily. "I'm still
Her eyes narrowed into slits. "Perv. You don't have to stay
and watch, y'know."
He threw up his hands. "Suit y'self... I'm going to
bed. I do get a bed, right?"
"Yeah. Turn right after the stairs, three doors to the left."
After Shiro disappeared up the stairs, Rin asked, "Shall we go to bed?"
Arturia looked into her eyes. "As long as you want me in it,
Rin laughed and kissed her lightly. "Always."
"Well... that certainly throws a wrench into the whole thing."
remarked Marlen after she heard their story. "If it wasn't for
that, I'd say you'd be barmy to try. Getting Shiro back is just a
matter of careful planning, since Rin knows the layout. But give
me a day to plan."
"We need to destroy the Throne." said Shiro firmly.
"You and what army?"
"I still have most of my servant powers, and so does Arturia. You
can help too."
"Leave me out of it!" said Marlen angrily. "As a member of the
Pentacle, I have to stay neutral. Knowledge of my involvement
will start a feud."
Her face darkened. "And if you insist on destroying the Throne,
then I won't help you at all. Nor will I allow Rin to help
you. The Emrys have worked too hard to help her and
Arturia. I won't let them risk their lives for you."
Shiro glared at her and then stalked out of the rose garden like a
Marlen sighed and rubbed her temples. "We have to watch out for
him. He'll change his agenda at the last minute. I'll have
to figure out a way to restrain him if he decides to destroy the Throne
when you go there."
"Why is it difficult to destroy the Throne?"
"Because it can draw upon the spirits within it to defend itself.
Even if you manage to destroy it, your mana will be depleted, and you
can't defend yourself against the Einzbern." Marlen paused, and
when she spoke, there was an edge of anger in her voice. "But
that boy... doesn't care if he comes back or not. He gave up
everything to be a hero of justice, and it looks like he's still at it."
"How do you know that?"
"I just know." Marlen put her arm around Nell's neck. Then
Nell stood up and carried her. "I need some time to think.
I'll let you know when I have a plan. Meanwhile, watch him.
If he starts acting strange, call me."
"Yes, Master." Rin held the door for them and followed them out
of the rose garden.
It was almost too easy. Rin hated to admit it, but foreknowledge
of the traps and barriers came in handy. After she opened the
portal, she cast Levitiam on Shiro and Arturia so that they could fly
to the throne.
About halfway to the Throne, the bracelets on Shiro's wrists crackled
"I am the bone of my sword..."
Arturia's eyes flashed with alarm. She dove toward Shiro to
restrain him before he could complete the spell.
Rin could only watch helplessly as they wrestled each other in midair.
"My, what a surprise... I didn't expect to see you here, Tohsaka Rin."
Her head whirled toward the sound of that gruff German voice. A
tall man with graying hair and a cropped beard gazed at her. He
wore a black outfit with white gloves. Even though he was
standing next to her, Rin did not sense his approach. Her hands
trembled as she gripped her staff.
He leaned on his cane and turned his gaze into the portal.
"Kiritsugu's servant? No... not a servant anymore." His
German was thick and Rin had to listen carefully to understand.
For a few moments, he watched Shiro and Arturia wrestle before speaking
again. "That's quite a feat. Your father would be
proud. I can easily say that you've surpassed him."
"You knew my father?"
"Yes. He was my student. He would have been my disciple,
but he died in the war. Worst of all, the man who killed him
refused to be my disciple. He just wanted to be a hero of
justice." He sighed deeply. "What a waste. He killed
his rivals to wish for something that he already had the power to be."
"You mean Kiritsugu?"
He nodded. "I assumed that he wanted to be my disciple when he
participated in the war. But in the end, he wasted his
chance. I had given up finding a worthy disciple after
that. But now, here you are. Multilayered counterspells...
Advanced magesight... Mana masking... Amalgam magic... Temporal
mechanics... You've learned so much in your short time at the
academy." He paused for a moment before adding, "Last I checked,
the academy did not teach such subjects to undergraduates. Did a
professor take you as an apprentice?"
He paused for an answer but only received Rin's defiant stare.
Finally, he broke the silence with a chuckle. "That look in your
eyes! You are truly your father's child. The chance that I
would have given to your father, I now give to you. Will you take
his place as my disciple?"
Rin trembled partly in fear and partly in anger. "Let me get this
straight. The war was a test to see who'd be your disciple?"
"For me it was. But the masters had different reasons for
"Well, forget it. I'm not going to be a disciple for someone who
selects the winner of a cruel war as his student."
"A pity. Your father would be disappointed."
"Don't talk like you know him!" Rin remembered that awful vision
before her father lost his soul. "He respected you! But in
the end, this is what became of him!" Rin reached into her pack
and pulled out the dagger which she brought along as a good luck charm.
The man stared at the dagger. "Tokiomi...? I see... so
that's what happened." He closed his eyes and bowed his
head. When he opened his eyes, they glowed with a strange
flickering light. A strong aura began to grow around him.
By now, Arturia and Shiro noticed the strange man standing next to
Rin. They stopped and cautiously approached them.
"In exchange for your freedom, I request a drop of your blood on the
"Why should I?"
"In case you haven't noticed, your friends are in the portal. You
know that I can easily overpower you and close it in their faces.
Furthermore, I've trapped the Einzbern in a static field which is why
I'm able to chat with you. But I can release that field and
gate them in here in a blink of an eye."
Rin swallowed. She had to stall long enough to get Shiro and
Arturia out. "So if I give you a drop of blood, you'll let us go?"
Rin extended the index finger from the hand that held her staff and
pricked its tip on the sharp edge of the scythe blade. Then she
squeezed a drop onto the dagger. "There."
"Release!" yelled the man.
Rin let go of the dagger as its sealed contents burst out. Shiro
and Arturia exited the portal and rushed towards her.
"Disturb me, and you lose your father's soul forever!"
"Shiro! Arturia! Stop!" yelled Rin frantically as she
threw herself in their path.
The dagger broke into tiny particles which surrounded the drop of
blood. The blood expanded and spread out like a spider's
web. Rin took several steps back and held her staff in front of
her. The concentration of mana was immense.
Then the particles and tiny rivulets of blood began to form an
outline. Soon, she could make out a head, a body, arms and
legs. Her chest constricted when her mind formed a guess that
seemed so improbable.
The man continued to chant. His hand wove in intricate gestures
as he manipulated the mana like a potter shaping a clay pot. His
eyes slit with concentration and sweat dropped from his brow.
And when he finished, Rin felt like she just witnessed a miracle.
A small baby floated where the dagger was once before. With a
wave of the man's hand, the baby moved in front of her. Rin
caught him in her arms.
The man leaned heavily on his cane. "Take what you need and
go." he said hoarsely. "His chances are better if you
anchor him. I will keep the portal open." When she made no
response, he stared at her sternly. "Do you still insist on
defying me, even with an innocent in your arms?"
Rin stared at him incredulously. Then she nodded and gave the
baby to Arturia. "Let's go, Shiro. And don't you dare try
Shiro's mouth drooped. "Fine."
She and Shiro flew to the Throne. When they got there, she
grabbed Shiro's hand before he entered the Throne. About ten
minutes later, Shiro emerged from the Throne. They exited the
portal which closed behind them with a tap of the man's cane.
The man extended his forefinger and drew a portal before them.
"Go. And don't come here again." Rin moved toward the
portal but Shiro held his ground. Then the man spoke in
Japanese. "I promise you, that until the boy's thirteenth year,
no one will be able to access the Throne or be able to summon a hero
from it. Until then, grow strong, and challenge me when I return
for the boy. Now, go. I will erase all trace of your
"Why are you doing this?" asked Rin suspiciously.
The hard lines of his face softened as he smiled gently. His eyes
alighted on Shiro and Arturia as he spoke. "It seems to me, that
this is a time for second chances. So consider it a gift for all
your efforts. Good-bye, Tohsaka Rin."
"Good-bye." Rin ushered Shiro into the portal and followed
At the other side of the portal, they found themselves on a field in
the country. Rin checked her GPS and noted that they were over a
hundred miles away from the manor. Then she turned her attention
to the baby wrapped in Arturia's spare dress. He stared at her
with intense blue eyes and clutched her finger with his little hand.
"Welcome back, Father."
Chapter 18 Omake
I am the bone of my pen.
Imagination is my body, and inspiration is my blood.
I have typed over thousands of words.
Unaware of sleep.
Nor aware of gain.
Withstood pain to create many chapters.
Waiting for one's muse.
For five long months, this was my only path.
Thus I shall end, "The King and Her Queen, Royal Fanfic Works."
Rin: That is soooooo cheesy.
Cyberano: Ungrateful wenches! You're just upset that it's
Arturia: Write us more sex scenes!
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