“Rin. Is the path of a magus truly what you desire?”
Kotomine Kirei asked this without sparing Rin even a glance - or glancing at anything in particular, for that matter. Yet, Rin never felt as if he were distant. Probably because every time he entered a room, the air became so heavy he was essentially impossible to ignore.
"Does it matter?" A young Rin responded, almost defensively. "My father left me with this. So, I'll do it. I'll be a magus, and a really good one! I'll get the Holy Grail, just like he taught me!"
Kotomine smiled a little, in a way that seemed only to acknowledge her response as true.
I hear ringing.
Do I, though? You know, maybe today I don’t hear ringing. If I go back to sleep hard enough, it’ll go away.
I can dream that I’m a sorcerer and sorcer my way into stopping the noise, which does not exist.
BRRING, BRRING, BRRING-
“Mmh. Shut up, you don’t even do the laundry. All you do is collect dust. Go die.”
I slam the alarm clock with my hand, silencing it, and pull my blankets over harder.
BRRING, BRRING, BRRI-
“That’s it. No more free housing for you.”
I pick up the alarm clock and stare at it.
It’s 7 in the morning. I thought I had an extra 30 minutes, but then again, those 3 seconds I spent under my blanket were probably where they went.
Human technology is allegedly amazing, going so far as to overtake magic. Except for this alarm clock. I mean, it does its job, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
I think something really important was happening today. Important enough for me to make my alarm clock commit such a horrific, unspeakable act of treason.
The Holy Grail War.
I want to go back in time and kill myself to prevent this from ever happening.
I fly out of bed, look in the fridge, grab the sandwich I made at 9:30 P.M (Which I apparently neglected to complete, as it is simply 2 slices of bread), brush my teeth, forget I was supposed to have breakfast, threw two waffles together, stuffed them into my mouth, brushed my teeth again, changed into my uniform, put on my ribbons on each wrist to tie them later, stuffed the sandwich into my nonexistent bag, grabbed my bag, stuffed the sandwich in the bag, and rushed downstairs and outside.
...Wait, why am I outside again?
Oh, right, school.
I was probably thinking of going there. Considering the circumstances, I could skip it, but I already put in the effort of waking up and going outside, so I may as well.
The way to school seems a bit empty today. Suspiciously empty, in fact.
I tie my ribbons as I walk, taking my nonexistent time to stare at the scenery menacingly, because I feel terrible. I want to go to bed, but I’m too tired to sleep right now.
Oh, and my public image, or whatever. Not that I want to give Issei another excuse to glare at me, but I don’t feel like caring today. It’s like letting yourself miss an assignment after everything else is perfect - it doesn’t really affect your grade, and everyone just forgets about it immediately.
After an undetermined amount of time walking and thinking, it appears that I have arrived at school. Unexpectedly, it’s pretty empty. Perhaps everyone slept in? There are a few days like this…
“Oh, Tohsaka. Morning.”
...Of course. Who else but the one and only, Mitsuzuri Ayako.
“Morning, Mitsuzuri-san. Say, you look awful sour today. Is it that time of month, or did you remember that Shinji exists?”
“Well, I suppose you could say that. More about Shinji, though. He showed up a few minutes ago throwing a temper tantrum about how he couldn’t find Sakura, then proceeded to try and punch me in the face for not telling him where she was. Then he snapped an arrow in half and complained that he got a splinter. He also told me he’d file a complaint against me for the injury I supposedly caused.”
Upon hearing that, I’m a bit concerned for Sakura - I hope nothing bad happens to her. I should probably check up on her later, just to make sure she’s alright.
“If you see him again, give him a kick for me, okay? And make sure to holler for me, too, so I can join in. Especially if Sakura’s involved.”
I almost enter the school, but then I remember something.
“Oh, right - Mitsuzuri-san, why’s it so empty this morning?”
She looks at me strangely.
“Tohsaka, it’s 6:50.”
It appears my alarm clock is an hour ahead. And all my other clocks, it seems. Or at least, I think they are. I haven’t checked.
“Well, since I apparently came here early, do you want to talk for a while? It’s not like I have anything better to do, besides fighting with Issei again.”
The brown-haired girl motions for me to sit down, right there on the school steps. I’d have expected to go to the archery club, but I suppose she’s not in the mood for that right now.
She sits down next to me, and looks towards the sky.
“Say, Tohsaka, have you ever done something you really, really regret, and wish you could go back in time to fix?”
I look at her with false suspicion.
“Mitsuzuri-san, are you trying to scout out my weakness so you can dethrone me? I have no regrets.”
That’s a lie. I regret waking up this morning. I feel terrible.
Ayako laughs heartily.
“Are you sure? Don’t you regret waking up this early for no reason?”
She seems to have brightened up, her smile seeming ever so slightly wider for no particular reason. She’s a bit of an odd friend, I suppose, but good to have nonetheless.
Eventually, after going around in circles on whether or not ravioli qualified as a type of dumpling (it doesn’t), we eventually decided that regardless of whether or not ravioli was, in fact, a dumpling, it still qualified as a similar or derivative product.
In particular, the practice of stuffing a food and covering it in sauce was heavily debated, as there are plenty of foods you stuff and cover in sauce which are not associated with dumplings.
However, the main argument against ravioli’s originality is that both ravioli and dumplings are made using a type of dough with a certain consistency that makes it lack a particular flavor (or perhaps, have a flavor which is designed specifically to be eaten with sauce in order to highlight its true potential), and makes it easier to bite into, highlighting the more interesting insides.
Regrettably, we were unable to come to a full consensus on whether or not ravioli qualified as a type of dumpling, as we were interrupted by a certain teacher who resembles a tiger.
“Awrnmarmawrlmlkajwnrawbhnwr hkbvhajhjhwncmhckckjvcj ahjgcucwk!!”
She’s crying, and making a bunch of sounds I could only expect from the one and only Fujimura-Sensei.
Ayako rolls her eyes passive-aggressively, a smile on her face.
“What’d you do this time, Fujimura-Sensei? Did you burn the house down?”
Fujimura-Sensei cried harder, then stopped making strange noises and used actual words.
“YES, I DID! I WAS JUST TRYING TO MAKE A SALAD, BUT THEN IT ALL WENT WRONG!! I BARELY EVEN HAD BREAD AND BUTTER FOR BREAKFAST!!”
She sniffles. “Thank you for greeting me properly, though…” She cries a bit more, except some of them seem to be tears of joy. “Anyways, you might not see Shirou in school for a while…”
She looks down towards the floor and makes a walk of shame towards the school, which I take as my cue.
“Well - it was a good talk, Mitsuzuri-san. Ravioli isn’t a type of dumpling, by the way.”
I dust myself off and walk into the building.
Surprisingly, Issei is absent from school today. I was hoping to bother him, but the Student Council office was completely devoid of him.
A shame. Well, if all else fails, I can probably go bother Ayako some more. I did technically forfeit the match, after all.
I end up wandering the hallways for a while, and eventually -
"Ah, good morning, Tohsaka! It’s so rare to see you this early - I’m so glad I have!”
I can’t say the same for this individual. I’m not glad at all. I want him to stop existing. If I ever get the chance, I’m suffocating him. I never want to see Matou Shinji again in my entire life.
“Same to you, Matou-kun. What’s the occasion?”
“Oh, Tohsaka. Clearly, as the captain, I have to come early to set a good example.”
What good example? He’s clearly lying. He is never good, and at no point in time has anyone genuinely felt anything positive towards his actions. Anyone who genuinely associates with him is only interested in his money.
“Is that so, Matou-kun? How kind of you to take your position so seriously. However, if you continue to refer to yourself as captain as opposed to vice-captain, people might get the wrong idea and think you’re insecure. Ah, not that I think so or anything, I’m just concerned for your reputation, as a fellow classmate.”
Matou Shinji stops for a moment.
“...I see. I’ll take into account your advice, Tohsaka.”
I smile at him politely.
“Of course. As vice-captain of the archery club, it’s imperative that you listen to the advice of your peers. You wouldn’t want them to think you’re neglecting them, or, perhaps, using them as leverage in an attempt to improve your ever-dwindling reputation. Of course, not that your reputation is at all dwindling, you’re clearly very well-liked. It’s just some food for thought.”
The bell rings, indicating that it’s time for class, but Matou Shinji continues trying to speak to me regardless. He comes closer, deeply violating my personal space.
“Say, Tohsaka, I see you’ve been spending a lot of time with Mitsuzuri. Could it be that, perhaps, you have some interest in-”
“The bell rang, it’s time for class. I’ll be seeing you, Matou-kun.” I flip my hair and walk away, making an effort to push Matou Shinji in the process.
Oh. It appears that he hasn’t given up.
“Matou-kun, classtime has started. It’d be awful irresponsible of you to set a bad example for your archery club members by interrupting the treasurer on her way to class, wouldn’t it?”
He seems to be yelling, but I don’t care. I enter my classroom, and start the day proper.
Eventually, 4th period ends, and it’s lunchtime. My lunch is rather pathetic, being two slices of wheat bread desperately attempting to masquerade as a sandwich, but I’m hungry and I don’t feel like going to the cafeteria, so it’ll make do for now.
I think I hear someone calling me, but I’m not in the mood for conversations right now, so I head up to the rooftop. No one’s there during winter, so it’s the perfect place to eat lunch by myself, without having to worry about social interaction.
Well, if I’m already alone, I may as well think about things I can’t tell anyone else.
The Holy Grail War.
Well, to tell the truth, I’m not particularly interested in it, but I do feel obligated to participate. More importantly, though, I need to get my thoughts together before I perform the summoning ritual, as it’s very particular for the servant I’m trying to summon.
Thought to be the strongest of all servants.
Such dazzling swordsmanship that it could be compared, in a way, to fireworks - beautiful from a distance, yet deadly up close.
If I do this right, then I’ll be able to see such dazzling beauty myself.
Unfortunately, the odds are against me - I don’t have any sort of catalyst to summon Saber with. I’ve just been planning to brute force the process and hope it works.
Naturally, I’m the most qualified person to summon Saber, but I can’t help but entertain the thought of an unqualified tool summoning Saber instead, and failing to utilize their full potential.
I don’t even bother going to homeroom at the end of the day. I have better things to do.
In particular, I promised myself I’d go check up on Sakura today. I don’t want to have to face the greasy-haired vice-captain, but I suppose it can’t be helped.
I make my way to the Matou household, preparing myself for the worst as I knock on the door.
A certain annoying person opens the door. I’ll have to make this quick.
“Is Sakura home?”
“No, Tohsaka, but you can come inside and-”
I close the door and walk away. If that’s the case, she’s probably with the Emiya kid or Fujimura-Sensei, which means she’s doing well.
Instead of engaging with the nuisance, I opt to go home. I may as well prepare myself for the summoning ritual now, instead of later.
When I return home, I get a message. It’s from Kirei. I have no interest in listening to it, but I have no interest in having him do the intense pressure thing, either, so I opt for the lesser of two evils.
It’s just a lecture on how I should get summoning already, which I am, so I don’t bother listening too closely. I have ravioli for dinner and stare at the clock for a while, before deciding I should use my time better. I go for a walk through the park, and on my way back -
“Oh! Tohsaka! Um, good evening.”
I forgot about him. Maybe if I look at him intensely enough while we’re talking, he’ll leave me alone.
Well, I suppose I can share a bit of compassion, as a treat.
“Evening, Emiya-kun. Ah, I heard from Fujimura-Sensei about the house. Are you going to be alright?”
The ginger-haired boy’s eyes light up a little.
“Yes, I’m going back to my shed to pick something up. Thanks for asking.”
I almost turn to leave, but then I remember something about Emiya - wasn’t Issei always talking about how...helpful he was?
“Alright. Oh, and I won’t be at school for a while. Don’t worry about me, I have things to do.”
I walk away, my hair flipping in the wind. Hopefully this stops him from expressing any dangerous concerns.
Right before 2:00, the peak of my magical energy. I can do this.
I engrave the circle into the basement floor, and begin to chant.
“Bare and silver and iron. Stone for foundation and the Grand Duke of contracts.”
The circle begins to faintly glow.
“A wall for the descending winds. The four gates shall close and come out the crown. Let the three-forked road to the kingdom cycle.”
It becomes more noticeable. I think I’m succeeding.
“Enclose. Enclose. Enclose. Enclose-”
Oh, right. My clocks are all an hour ahead, aren’t they? Well, no point in stopping now. I made a mistake, and I have to commit to it.
“Five times for each repetition.”
The circle swirls and shines brightly, almost like its own universe. I suppose that’s what it is, in a way. Although more a gateway than anything else. I think I hear something move somewhere in the house, but I need to focus. Well, if someone’s trying to explore the “Ghost house” now, it’s not something worth stopping for.
“Just destroy the enclose-”
Suddenly, a flash of white and grey appears, somewhere away from the summoning circle. I look towards it, and -
He falls into my arms, but that’s not of any concern right now.
Even without me doing anything, the circle, is glowing so brightly -
Before me is a woman in blue. She has piercing eyes, blonde hair, armor befitting of a holy knight, and -
This is it.
This is the servant I’ve been waiting to summon all these years, in all of her glory. In all of her beauty. Even in this dim basement, light seems to be almost radiating off of her, illuminating her presence, and highlighting her gorgeous frame.
Her eyes are like jewels, peering into me with such intensity that I’m frozen in place.
“I ask of you - are you my master, fair maiden?”
I almost shake my head in disbelief, but I steady myself.
“Y-yes...My name is Tohsaka Rin. I am your master.” I hold up the command spell which has appeared on my left arm, not only to convince her, but to convince myself that I’m even worthy of such a flawless servant.
“The connection is clear. However, it appears there is another person here, albeit unconscious. We shall continue this conversation once he is removed.”
The interruption wasn’t accounted for, but it’s a small price to pay for Saber.
“I suppose I’ll take care of it.”
She silently nods, and disappears, in a way. I can still feel her presence, so I assume this is the servant’s sort of spi-
Oh. Nevermind. She just hid behind me.
“Can you not-”
She nods, as if already knowing my question.
Naturally, even if we’re going out really early in the morning, Saber still looks highly suspicious. I doubt she’ll just stay inside, and her armor looks highly suspicious, so I pull out a raincoat, put it over her, and try to hold in the laughter.
She looks hilarious.
In fact, she looks slightly more suspicious than before, but I doubt it’ll be noticeable in the dark from a distance. In the end, if the intent was to cover her armor, it worked…?
She looks mildly displeased, but my series of stares must have gotten through to her, as she resigns quickly.
Right. I’m the master in this relationship, so naturally, my servant is obligated to follow behind me. Everything is as it should be.
I take the nuisance and drop him in front of his destination, then I return home. The standard lock is broken, so I chain it instead.
Upon entering, the raincoat is immediately removed.
“I shall begin with the introductions. I am the servant Saber, otherwise known as Artoria Pendragon, or King Arthur. Of course, this information should be kept private, so I would prefer you refer to me as simply ‘Saber.’”
I take a deep breath, hoping not to fumble over my words. Her presence is so strong, I almost forget my own.
“Tohsaka Rin, a magus and student. Please call me Rin.”
She seemed a bit surprised by the quick introduction, but quickly regained composure.
“Rin. If I may so inquire, why do you seek the Holy Grail?”
I sigh. My answer is going to sound more nonsensical out loud.
“I don’t have a particular reason for doing so. My late father told me to, and I decided that I should, so here I am. I don’t really have any particular wish in mind - I guess I’ll just figure it out as I go along.”
Saber seems taken aback by my response.
“You seek the Holy Grail, yet you do not seek to grant a wish? Your dedication is admirable, Rin.”
“I suppose you could say that.” I wouldn’t call it admirable, per se, but I guess I’m really stubborn.
My clocks are an hour behind, so I’d say it’s around 3:00. I should probably get some rest.
“Say, Saber - You don’t really need to sleep on account of being a servant and all, right? What are you going to do when I’m sleeping?”
She looked at me as though the answer were obvious.
“Naturally, I will watch over you the entire time, to keep you safe from any potential attackers.”
I’d feel bad if Saber was just standing by my bed the entire night, so…
“Then, can you take half the bed to sit, or lie down in? Ah, I’ll get you a change of clothes - I doubt it’d be practical to watch over me in full armor.”
She nods, and I go to pick some clothes from the closet. I look around for something that would match Saber’s aesthetic, and…
I reach into the closet and find something that matches - A long-sleeved dress shirt with a blue string tie, a knee-length skirt, and brown boots...This was a present from Kirei, but it’s not getting much use sitting around in the closet. It’ll look better on Saber, anyways.
Saber and I both change into our casual clothes, and I get ready for bed. I wasn’t really thinking when I suggested the idea, so having Saber genuinely sit on the bed and watch me is a strange experience. I can’t say I dislike it, though.
Tomorrow (Or, perhaps, later today) we’ll most likely be facing a lot of obstacles, so I need to get some rest.
As I close my eyes, I might be imagining it, but outside the window, I thought I saw a flash of white...