Rin passed through the gate to her western-influenced house. It was large, comparatively speaking, but nothing considering what her family was entitled to. Kirei Kotomine, Rin's official guardian, had done away with most of her fortune. Being a man of the cloth, and Rin's late father's friend as well as pupil, he had seen the vast wealth as little more than a taint upon Rin's responsibilities. Kirei had also participated in the Fourth Holy Grail War; the same one Rin's father had died in which also led to her mother going insane.
Rin didn't like thinking about it if she could help herself. A loss of focus was a loss of power. She didn't have time for dwelling on the past. She was here now. She was alive. She would avenge her father and place the Tohsaka's name upon the pedestal once again within the Magi realm to which it belonged.
Rin felt the coolness of her own magic as she entered into the Bounded Field erected just that morning. Nothing dangerous had passed through it to her knowledge. She would have to reapply the runes' circuits before bed. Rin unlocked the front door and heard its familiar creak as she entered the Tohsaka manor.
'I'm home.' Rin murmured quietly. There was no response. There never was. Kirei had long since left the moment Rin entered high school. He was a busy man. Despite the fact Kirei had given her the Azoth Dagger, a Tohsaka heirloom, Rin could never fully trust such an obviously deceptive man. There was just something about him that instinctively put her on edge, and she wasn't one to doubt her gut.
Rin went to her room and allowed her school bag to flop to the floor. This was the part she feared the most: waiting. Rin's mana circulation was at its most potent state at approximately two in the morning. Therefore, she would perform the summon at that precise moment to better her chances of summoning the Saber class. Delaying the ritual concerned her, to a degree, but her father had taught her that patience was a virtue, and Rin would trust his words.
The young woman stripped down to her undergarments, undoing her simple bra and pulling a soft-yellow nightgown over her head, undoing her pigtails and staring at her vanity's mirror with a mixture of apprehension and confidence. The quiet of the house was particularly deafening this evening, and Rin wished her father was present to support her during this most important trial. A ray of sun pierced through Rin's partially open curtains, and she stood up to shut the multi-layered blockade, sighing as she flopped into bed and set her alarm clock for twelve in the morning. She twisted the dial on the back of the ancient thing and then pulled her piles of covers over her head.
Rin's mind wandered, of course, and she allowed it to do so, her seemingly "boring" school days not quite painted as such in her mind with the correct retrospect in place. Two individuals occupied the forefront of her mind as she bid farewell to normalcy and embraced the potential fight that both frightened and excited her. The first was a young woman with vacant eyes; eyes that had had their innocence stripped away. Eyes Rin couldn't look directly into lest she drive herself mad. She watched over this girl in her own way, but even that was a sad attempt at making herself feel better. The second was a boy with auburn hair; the only boy who had ever caught Rin's eye. He was trying, to no avail, a sport he had no place participating in. It was a memory; a frighteningly precious one.
Rin shook those individuals from her thoughts, allowing her trained brain to signal the rest of her body's descent into relaxation. She would need every second. What came next could very well determine the rest of Rin's life…or lack thereof.
No pressure or anything.
Again, Rin had to forcefully fend off the urge to wish for her father to still be alive. She was alone. That was her reality. She was used to it. Everything would be fine…
No…Not Tohsaka. Not…worthy…Tohsaka…
I am! I'm the heir to the Tohsaka name!
I'm not! How dare you!
I…I-I did no such thing!
You are…empty…but not…the same…
Who…w-what are you?
She…far more fitting. She…is hollow…bred for this…bred for darkness.
You…know. You…know…Stop pretending…not to know…
I'm not "pretending" whatsoever!
I will not! Tell me what you are…! Tell me!
The ringing in Rin's ears was deafening, her mind cracking as she slammed the bedside table next to her until she found her clock, the stinging in her fist from making contact finally distancing the discomfort her whole body was still combating.
'Ugh…' Rin turned over, buried in blankets and covered in sweat. She controlled her breaths, a terror gripping her heart she had only experienced once, ever so briefly, during the Fourth Holy Grail War. A presence that had engulfed the world for but a split second, although this was different. Hundreds of times more terrifying.
This was the supernatural phenomenon that was a Grail War. There was no time to cower. Par for the course, correct? Confront it with elegance. Rin was destined for far more trying experiences yet.
However, she couldn't reduce her nightmare to just that. No. It was real, and perhaps that's what made her hesitant to move from her bed. She had conversed with…something. Something ethereal. Something beyond her understanding. She could fathom a guess, but even her most outlandish speculations felt as though they came up short.
'Liar. Fake. Traitor.' Rin grimaced. It knew her. Whatever it was, it could see into Rin's heart and read the black pages she wanted none to see; not even herself.
Rin forced herself out of bed once she could numb the anxiety threatening to destroy her, showered, dried her hair, and thought about what she would consume to ensure her energy was maximised for the ritual she had rehearsed hundreds of times. Rin eventually dressed herself in an outfit that bore a little more leg than she would normally prefer, but allowed for the most comfort when moving aggressively. The red turtle-neck and black skirt with thigh-highs seemed a little silly in appearance, and she knew this, but something about it also made Rin feel like a different person. Not quite a super hero, but along those lines. She wasn't a high school girl; she was a Mage. This was her other persona; her true self.
Rin strapped the Azoth Dagger to her leg, packed some of her magic-infused crystals into a hip pouch, and made her way downstairs for a quick dinner. She felt odd, being battle-ready in her own house, but she supposed it was something to get used to. Until she had a Servant she could fully trust for night watch, this was life now. Rin swallowed deep and steadied her breathing. Her father wouldn't be impressed. She needed to calm every magical circuit in her body. Every single one. The "nightmare" helped little, but she would proceed as she had been trained so fervently. She owed it to "her"…
Calming Rin's circuits, however, took longer than ever. She would never manage to summon Saber in this state.
Rin went to the old record player in her father's study and placed what she knew to be his favourite collection of music upon the relic. The scratchy sounds implied that all was well with this device, at least, and Rin closed her eyes as a classical tune filled her empty, dark halls. She allowed her mind to meld with the pure musical chords and to distance everything superficial from a thought. It was a method her father had bestowed upon her. She could feel her mana circuits opening up and absorbing her focus as well as the natural energy all around her. Fuyuki City was ripe-full of mana, and she had no problem obtaining the necessary amount for the ritual ahead as the hour drew closer to the allotted moment.
A simple but effective supper was had. It was traditional in every sense, the steaming white rice and various vegetables and meats fusing with a tried and true sauce she had prepared that morning. Rin didn't consider herself the best of cooks, but she certainly could get by when needed. To her embarrassment, Rin found she simply purchased microwave-ready meals and breads to tie her over most nights.
This night wouldn't be like most nights, however.
Rin allowed the music to continue playing as she descended into the basement of her house. She could just barely make out the strings and wind instruments dazzling their imaginary audience. She allowed a small smile, but continued to maintain all focus upon an authentic Mage's dwelling. The basement had been her father's true and very secret study. It had been where he taught Rin her first spell, and it would be where Rin enacted her most important chant.
Rin took a moment to calm her breathing. In and out. In and out. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Remember what her father had taught her. Remember the vast knowledge he managed to pass on before he lost the fourth war and paid with his life. Eject all emotion. Focus on the craft. Remember the chant. Recall all the verses and every perfect syllable.
Rin closed her eyes and dipped her fingers into a reddish powder upon the ancient table with a quill, parchments, ink stains, and a history beyond understanding. She felt the powder respond to her energy and merge into almost a liquid.
One final exhale.
And then she began.
Rin knelt and drew, uttering words from a golden time of wonder and discovery. Her voice echoed within the confines of a room pulsating with magic dating back thousands of years. She spun and formed a circle, crafting glyphs within smaller circles until a design brought itself forth and only grew more intricate with every passing second.
The score upstairs heightened alongside Rin's focus. She was in a trance, another language passing through her lips and attaching itself to the vocal point of her spell. This was a ten-line spell, and one of the most powerful to modern Mages. One mistake and she would risk her place in the Fifth Holy Grail War. She would risk it all. She wasn't a fake. She was the true heir. She was chosen. She couldn't fail!
And it continued without another pause. Rin's magical circuits warmed her body in an almost pleasurable way, her cheeks flushing and her movements becoming more rapid. A violin screeched above, and Rin stood outside her perfect circle, eyes still closed so that no distractions would cause falter. She checked the time, but she didn't honestly need to be told it was now two in the morning. The swelling within her lines pulsated after every heartbeat.
It was time. It was now or never.
Rin drew her Azoth Dagger and began the final line of her chant. She couldn't see the room quivering at the spell she was casting. She couldn't know that nature itself trembled at the unnatural process at work. She would summon a hero, and that hero would serve her in an attempt to win the Holy Grail and obtain a wish of any kind. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. It would change everything.
Rin breathed out the final word, and the moment she felt the syllable enter into the blanket of power she had created, just as her father had shown her, everything went silent. It was a silence so deep and raw that Rin thought she was deaf for a moment. The music had stopped somehow. Nothing moved. Time had been frozen.
A golden ray of light pierced through all matter and exploded upon impact within the magic circle Rin had created. Paper flew everywhere, and cracks erupted all throughout the floor as though an earthquake was beginning.
'Hng!' Rin lost her footing and fell to the ground, her butt bearing the brunt of the impact and seeming to bruise instantly. The smoke and golden light didn't dissipate immediately, and Rin's heart hammered against her chest as she covered her eyes, trying to squint through the dust flying everywhere.
This was the moment of truth. In seconds, she would learn precisely how she would be fighting this ludicrous war in her family's name. This was what she had worked toward for so long. This was what she had given up her life for. This was her calling.
So, then, why did her eyes burn so?
Finally, something clanked, and movement could be heard within the smoke and angelic light. A step and another step. The Servant sounded as though they were clad in armour, and soon enough, Rin discovered that this was, indeed, the case.
A woman with green eyes full of nothing but resolve and dedication passed through the gate of energy, her blonde hair pulled back into a tight bun and her brilliant blue battle dress covered in the most awe-inspired of silver equipment. She was at once utterly, enchantingly beautiful yet completely and perfectly terrifying in her obvious capability. Raw, magical power reserved for the realm of the Gods poured from her presence, and she looked as though she were some sort of knight from another era nearly long forgotten.
Rin found she couldn't move. She could only stare as her Servant's own gaze bore into her soul.
'I am Saber.' The young woman spoke as proudly as expected, her voice as strong and unflinching as she. 'Am I to presume you are my Master?'
Transfixed in a moment parallel to another, Rin could only take in the majesty that stared her down with awe.