Tonight. It starts tonight. Tonight I summon my servant and enter into the fifth Holy Grail war.
But it’s so early. Way too early. Papa said it should only be every sixty years, and yet…
Rin brushed the back of her hand with her fingers, a stinging sensation prickling further at the touch. The mumble of her teacher was lulling her into deeper contemplation. She couldn’t focus on anything else but the looming trials. She had trained herself diligently for this very moment in time. However, now that it was upon her, she couldn’t deny the nerves circulating within her entire being.
I will summon Saber, the most powerful class of them all. Papa showed me what I should do. I’ve practiced many a time. This will be simple. I’ll win the war, restore the honour to the Tohsaka name and wish…and wish…
But how should I deal with the other masters? I don’t necessarily have to kill them as long as I take out their servants. It’ll be fine. Even if I have to defeat the other magus, I’ve known my duty since infancy. It’s fine. I can do it.
Should I move aggressively or quietly? I’ll have to take immediate defensive measures. My name doesn’t do me any favours other than invite a little caution. Even then, my identity isn’t a secret either. Populated areas will have to be my main method of recon. I suppose it really depends on the servant I manage to summon. If it’s Saber…
‘Earth to Rin!’
Rin blinked and realized that class had been over for what must’ve been at least 5 minutes.
‘Kaede.’ She breathed, looking about as the classroom cleared out and the cleaning duty began their tasks.
‘Oh! So you do remember who I am. Fancy that!’
‘Sorry. I was lost in thought.’
‘Obviously.’ Kaede sighed. She didn’t have patience to begin with, let alone when she was ignored. ‘So, I gotta go meet that guy before practise. You mind coming with?’
Rin nearly rolled her eyes. Romance was the sole focus of almost all of her classmates, yet she was distracted by a war that could very well influence the entire world. Completely different lives. Insignificant? She wouldn’t go that far, although the thought had passed her mind. Kaede wasn’t too bad, at least.
‘Right. You got that letter in your locker this morning.’
‘Yep. Isn’t that a little old fashioned?’
‘Slightly. But you have to admit, there’s a level of charm in such an approach.’
‘Hmph.’ Kaede crossed her arms and scoffed while Rin packed up her things. ‘So, are you coming or not?’
Rin valued her friends, but for selfish reasons more than not. They helped her blend and not draw attention to herself. Her grades were far above average, alongside her looks, so she couldn’t be completely invisible, but living a perceivably “normal” life in school certainly assisted where it needed to. However, she couldn’t sacrifice the preparation time she needed for this very special night.
‘I’m sorry. I have plans tonight. My family is having a celebratory dinner for my grandfather who is in the city. Forgive me?’ Rin considered herself a professional liar. It was necessary as a mage. It was a good thing.
‘Ugh. Fine. I’ll just let him off easy and be done with it.’
‘Don’t do that.’ Rin found herself getting serious, finally standing and placing her bag over her shoulder. ‘Let him down hard. Don’t leave room for doubt or false hope. You’re only crueler if you don’t.’
Kaede couldn’t respond right away, and Rin noticed the shift in the classroom’s atmosphere immediately. Damage control. She needed to repel the stares.
‘At least, that’s what my father told me once. I personally wouldn’t know.’
‘Pu-lease. How many confessions a month do you get?’
Rin didn’t want to answer that question.
‘Text me if you need anything. I’ll do my best to respond when possible.’
Considering how long ago class ended, Rin expected the halls of Homurahara Gakuen to be a little less busy than they were. Perhaps there wasn’t any real difference in the volume, and it was her own suppressed anxiety that was pushing through her nerves.
An obnoxious voice accompanied by bird-like giggling made Rin’s back shiver, and she pushed through the crowd a little more aggressively than she usually allowed herself.
‘Rin-chan! What’s the hurry?’
Shinji Matou. He could be an enemy in hours. He could already be an opponent. His family had deep ties with the Mage Society. Magic ran through his veins like her own. Not only that, but he was a Grade A prick. If he hadn’t spoken so loud, Rin could’ve feigned ignorance to his antagonism, but she wasn’t so fortunate. Some cockroaches required endless defeats.
‘That would be Tohsaka-san to you, Matou-kun.’
Shinji dramatically acted out a pitiful excuse for emotional injury. The three airheads among him, one under his arm, cackled almost wildly at the display.
‘You wound me, Rin-chan. I would think we had gotten over any previous misunderstandings.’
‘There are no misunderstands in these circumstances, Matou-kun. I am not interested. End of story. Thank-you for the offer.’ Image. Image. Image. Balance. Balance. Balance.
‘Hmph! You’re practically implying that I would bother to give you the time of day. How foolish, Rin-chan. You must be aware that I am a very busy man and there are many ladies that require my thorough attention.’ Shinji held one such girl even tighter, although Rin could certainly see that she had successfully struck a nerve.
‘Very well, then. My mistake.’
Victory…to a degree. She may look foolish to some, but at least she knew the truth. Shinji had, on multiple occasions, asked Rin on many a dates even though he was clearly unwilling to admit as much. Rin had, naturally, turned him down every occasion. She didn’t have the time or desire for romance. Perhaps after the war, and her training was complete, she could make such considerations. Besides, it’s not as though she had met a single individual that she could tolerate or count as her equal intellectually, let alone romantically. It just wasn’t a focus. It couldn’t be. Romance created weakness. Weakness couldn’t be tolerated during such a deadly war.
That being said, Rin noted Shirou Emiya and Issei Ryuudou as she neared the staircase leading to the first floor of her school. Shirou was something of an enigma in her view. There was always this sort of disconnect in his eyes that baffled even Rin. He never truly smiled either. He was helpful and considerate; ridiculously so, and honestly fairly attractive in his solemn way, but there was an air of mystery about the boy that annoyed Rin. Issei, on the other hand, was the student council president, and openly disliked Rin for reasons she didn’t care to consider for more than a second. He amused her enough, so she poked the bear when she could. It was the little things, after all.
‘How are you today, Ryuudou-kun?’
‘F-fine.’ Issei adjusted his glasses and scoffed. He was normally quite put together, but he wasn’t foolish enough to dismiss Rin’s placement in the school’s hierarchy either.
‘Don’t work poor Emiya-kun to the bone now.’
Rin giggled inwardly at the sight of Issei’s face. He was utterly flustered. Shirou didn’t seem to pay her much mind though, simply tinkering with a piece of machinery in his hands as he tended to do.
‘Have a safe trip home, Tohsaka-san.’ Shirou’s softer voice uttered suddenly.
Rin was thankful her back was to the boys, for her face must’ve reflected her surprise in some manner.
‘You as well.’ She managed gracefully. Shirou almost always remained silent when Rin pestered Issei, so why the change of heart suddenly? It wasn’t truly worth investigating at the moment, but perhaps after the war she could amuse herself in some way.
The air was brisk on the way home. Summer had barely finished, yet Fall seemed to be welcoming itself sooner than most would willingly allow. It could be some sort of freak anomaly, and the warm weather may return any day, so Rin didn’t fret. Cooler temperatures were preferred for physically demanding activities anyway, so Rin considered herself lucky.
Everyone’s lives were moving along as though it were any other day. As long as the rules were followed, the impact upon Fuyuki City would be minimal. The enforcers would make sure of that if they did their job properly. The church wasn’t Rin’s favourite establishment, but she had no choice but to have faith in their involvement. She cared for and hated Fuyuki City. The feelings were mixed. It housed so many wonderful and painful memories. Maybe that wasn’t entirely unique to her own childhood.
Rin shook her head and quickened her pace home, subconsciously aware of her surroundings in case the war took a turn for the worse more hastily than she anticipated. This would be her last walk home feeling even a semblance of comfort and safety. From here onward, from the moment she summoned her servant, everything would change. She was ready. She would will herself ready, just as she always had.