KL ~Chapter 2~
Chapter 2: Rin Tohsaka, Rival Magus
High School, First Year
Shinji Matou stared at the blackboard while waiting for class to begin in Homurahara High School. He didn’t really know most of the people as it had been a short time since he enrolled. While Shirou Emiya was in the same class, he was called out to help deal with something at the request of Issei Ryuudou, at the recommendation of their English and Homeroom teacher, Taiga Fujimura…who was asleep at her desk.
Not really feeling like talking to anyone for a prolonged period, it left him listening to the murmurings of his classmates while writing down some new ideas for his shikigami silently, until a certain line of dialogue came up.
“That girl was pretty cute wasn’t she? What was her name again…” Gai Gatou scratched his head in thought, before slamming is fist into his palm. “Oh yeah, Rin Tohsaka!”
SNAP! There was a loud snap as Shinji crushed his pencil in shock. He knew that name, or at least the last name. It was the name his uncle told him that night, Sakura’s original family name. Her sister was in the building?
“Hey,” Shinji got up and tapped the kid on the shoulder, to get his attention. “What class did you see Rin Tohsaka in?
With Rin Tohsaka
Rin Tohsaka was busily trying to manage her regular life and her life as a magus, maintaining both with a sense of elegance that had been driven throughout her lineage since the time of her ancestors. It was a chore, but something she practiced after her father died and her best friend, Kotone had to move away shortly after she had been rescued. While maintaining her school idol personality, she was confident nothing could shake her.
“I’m trying out for the track-and-field team again once they start recruiting,” Kaede Makidera told her. “What about you Rin?”
“No,” she said while sitting straight in her chair, giving the girl a smile. “I won’t have time for a club since I do a lot of self-study on average. Grades are—”
She was cut off when the door slid open, and in came a boy with a slightly pale complexion and blue hair tainted with white areas. He looked around until he saw her and walked straight up to her. “Rin Tohsaka?”
“I am,” she responded, curious as to the sudden development. “Can I help you with something?”
“My name is Shinji Matou,” he said curtly. No one but Shinji saw the realization in her eye at his last name. “Will you accompany me to speak in private before class begins?”
The class broke into whispers, saying things like, “A confession already?”
“…Very well,” Rin said after a moment and followed him out of the class to the rooftop. The Matou name was not one she could take lightly making a request and she sincerely doubt it would be about a confession. If anything, they just made a cover for her.
Once they made it to the rooftop and shut the door, Rin leaned against the fence and turned to face him. “What did you want to discuss?”
“Sakura,” he said bluntly. “Your sister.”
“I have no sister,” Rin said plainly, as if speaking on the weather. “I am the sole daughter of the Tohsaka family.”
Shinji gritted his teeth and clenched his fist. “Are you serious?”
“Sakura Matou is not my sister,” Rin said again. “She’s a daughter of the Matou clan, taken in and removed from the Tohsaka linage.”
“Do you even know how the Matou Magecraft works?” Shinji asked, with venom in his voice. “Every single day she suffers because of it.”
“That’s the price of a magus,” Rin said, losing just a bit of her cool and flipping her hair. “You should be grateful since without her, your bloodline would have ended since your generation didn’t have any circuits. With Sakura, the Matou name can remain that of one that practices the Art.”
“To Hell with the Art!” Shinji snapped. “Sakura—”
“Matou-san.” Rin stated with her voice flat but aggravation present within it. “You aren’t a magus, so you can’t understand what it means to have the pride of one. However, what is done is done. Rin Tohsaka doesn’t have a sister, understood?”
“Is that your final word?” Shinji asked, constraining his anger. He could hear the magical energy being processed by her circuits, most likely planning on hypnotizing him if he continued.
“It is,” she said. “Now, never bring up this topic again. As a member of a founding family, absence of circuits or not, it would be a shame if I had to use Mental Manipulation on you.”
“…You’ll regret this,” Shinji replied, before walking over to the door and slamming it as he left.
The moment that he was down the stairs and no longer in hearing range, Rin turned to the fence and tightened her grip on the links. Her face broke its elegant mask and scrunched up as she held back the tears. It was the right thing to do, her father ensured her, no matter what.
Only one may inherit the family art, while the other may inherit nothing. If the Matou hadn’t taken her in, she would have been relegated to a life of exclusion from the Art. To one of a magus bloodline that was the ultimate disgrace.
For Rin to be a Tohsaka magus meant that Sakura had to be sacrificed. It was as simple as that. If her new brother was looking out for her then it at least she was being cared for…
But it didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt her deep inside. “Sakura…”
How dare she write off Sakura like that, Shinji thought to himself as he made his way back to class with a scowl on his face, not paying attention to the people who were around him and whispering as he passed by. She has friends while Sakura feels unworthy of them! She doesn’t have the burdens Sakura does—and then says I should be grateful that such a repulsive art remains because of her sacrifice?
It was only once he was in the classroom, where a student was prodding Taiga as she slept, did he learn the contents of the discussions.
“Shinji,” Shirou called out to get his attention. “Are you okay?”
“Ah, Emiya,” he shrugged. “Why do you ask?”
Gai decided to answer that. “Well, you just got turned down by Rin Tohsaka, so we were expecting you to be heartbroken and crying tears of regret and lamentation…”
Shinji’s response was a flat, “Huh?”
“It’s all over the building. Everyone’s talking about how you went to confess to the school idol in the making,” Gai said factually. “I take it that it went badly?”
What the hell? Shinji thought before deciding to roll with it. “Yeah, she rejected me thoroughly. Stupid girl doesn’t know what she passed up on. Her loss…”
Technically it wasn’t a lie. She rejected his efforts to reconcile her with her sister. She passed up on a chance to help her sister heal.
“Cheer up man,” Gai said. “At least it was in private. Plus, your sacrifice will ensure that no one else has to bear the mark of being the first person she’s rejected. We salute your martyrdom!”
And then, as if to mock him, several other boys did so as well.
“That’s not really funny,” Shirou said.
Shinji agreed silently and would get even soon enough. For now, he had other priorities.
Later that Evening at the Matou Estate
Shinji made his way back home after class was done, his emotions still stirring over the conversation with the Tohsaka girl. Upon entering the domain and then the living room, he froze as he saw his year-younger sister, already dressed in more casual clothing now that she had been let out of school as well.
“Sakura…” Shinji looked away from her. He had kept a somewhat distant approach after those worms made it necessary for him to…Shinji shivered, not willing to think about it. Sakura was by all accounts attractive, but the circumstance and their relationship alone made it sickening. He could barely stand to look at himself in the mirror for enjoying the physical aspect of it, but his body would often betray him otherwise. He could only imagine how it must’ve felt for Sakura.
As if sensing his distraught, she also looked away and took a few steps back. “I’m sorry…”
“No, you’ve done nothing wrong…” he said as he scratched the back of his head. Clearing the visions of her naked body writhing before him and the moans that followed in the cluster of emotions, he snapped back to reality in order to tell her the bad news. “I met Rin Tohsaka at school.”
Sakura stiffened. While her lips pursed and her body tensed in anticipation, she noticed his face melt into one that was filled with regret. That was enough of an answer for her. “I…see…”
“I’m sorry,” he told her as gently as possible. The contents of what he was apologizing for were all too clear between them. “I…I tried, but she wouldn’t—”
“It’s fine,” was all Sakura said. “I didn’t expect her to…I-I’m feeling a bit ill…I’ll be resting in my room for a while.”
He reached out as she ran through the corridor and up the stairs, but never stopped her or called for her. All he could do was clench his fist and fall into self-loathing as he mentally apologized for not being able to bring himself to do anything about the awkwardness of the situation.
“Well, well,” the aged voice of Zouken reach Shinji’s ears as the creature entered the room. “That was a cruel thing you did, Shinji.”
“Grandfather.” Shinji said in a cold, indifferent tone. He was to blame for the awkwardness that ensued—him and his worms in her body. “I take it you were listening in?”
“Of course you would fail,” Zouken said as a matter of fact, answering Shinji’s question indirectly. “The Tohsaka heir is a true magus, not an artificial one. She follows tradition and, in accordance with that, she has no sister. Your efforts are only as much a waste as your uncle Kariya’s.”
“His efforts weren’t wasted,” Shinji defended. “The fact that he was able to support a Servant, which, from my understanding of the notes in the study, requires a far greater depth of magical energy than most are capable of, indicates that he would have fared better if he had not been required to use a Berserker. Perhaps he would have succeeded if those worms hadn’t left him in a state where half his body was useless as well. I’ve seen him after your treatment and read about what happens with those things writhing around in a male. ”
“True, he died with some assistance from the Crest Worms,” the elderly Matou admitted. “That was what happened when he rushed through a lifetime of training in a year. He squandered his gift and tried to claim the grail by summoning a Berserker of his own will.
“However, what I am referring to is that he tried to reason with Tokiomi during the war and received a much thorough explanation to what I said, before being burned to near death. Rin, as the Tohsaka heir, will be no different. A magus will stick to their beliefs and traditions, not simply bow before another’s opinion. You have no right to question their family’s decision.”
“It was the wrong decision,” Shinji said. “I’ll make her accept Sakura, even if I have to grind that so-called tradition to dust.”
“A foolhardy effort,” the old worm chuckled as he turned to walk away. “Leaving aside the fact that going against hundreds of years of the Art would be blasphemy to any magus of the Tohsaka linage, you cannot force her to do anything. Unlike you, she has an abundance of circuits, far more training, and the resolve of a magus. As far as she knows, you have nothing to do with the Art and for that reason Sakura was taken. It is the sole advantage you have…give up, boy.”
“I won’t,” Shinji said, resolving himself. “For Sakura, I will succeed. Even if I have to…”
He trailed off, by the intention was clear. If Rin wouldn’t accept her sister, then he would take everything she had and offer it to Sakura. If she could not hold the Tohsaka name, he would take all their possessions, all their mysteries—everything that she should have had—and give them to her…
Even if he had to kill Rin to do it.
Zouken smiled once Shinji couldn’t see his face. Traditions, teenagers, and hormones—it was all too easy to manipulate youngsters by their emotions. And with that done, the die was cast in his favor and the puppet was now on its strings.
Just to twist the knife in, Zouken added, “By the way, the girl will need tending to fairly soon again. If you have that much resolve to do something meaningless, I would suggest you expend some of that into more effort instead of restraining yourself with her. It will only hurt her more in the end if you have to do it many more times because you didn’t put forth your best in the beginning…or was that your intention all along? Youngsters these days…”
Shinji gritted his teeth and restrained himself from jumping the old worm in an attempt to throttle him. Storming off to his workshop to get at the transcribed notes in his laptop, he set forth to deal with something he could accomplish right then and there—researching the Tohsaka mysteries in order to defeat Rin.
The Next Day
Shinji looked even paler than normal with bags under his eyes the next day, sitting down through the club recruitment drive going on.
He had spent last night going over the notes he transcribed onto his computer from the study about the Tohsaka Magecraft, gathered from the last few Holy Grail Wars and independent research. What he learned was that Rin would beat him in close combat with absolute certainty. Their family was one just as long as his, except they held far more accomplishments.
At some point during the third war they stole the Gandr Shot from one of the Edelfelts that participated in the war, who managed to summon two aspects of the same servant using Ore Scales. It was a spell that fired a curse of illness with such density and speed it was comparable to a bullet, seeping past physical defense to invoke illness. He’d need a way to deal with the physical embodiment of a curse before anything else.
Then there was the jewel-based craft. Loaded with prana thanks to their ability with the flow and transference of power, it becomes tainted by the spirit of the stones and can be used as a one-off spell or energy reserve. Done over years, it made them high-ranking spells.
The only good news was that Shinji was certain she was limited in the number of jewels she had. They were expensive and a quick look into their remaining assets revealed they were in new ownership, meaning she was barely able to hold on to the illusion of wealth. Thus taking away her family’s most dangerous craft would be just a case of avoiding death by jewels that carried elements and could rain hell down until she ran out.
It was only slightly less suicidal than fighting up-close and personal with his body the way it was. Even if he started abusing some of the concoctions he learned to make during his time with Fang Yin, it would leave him strained. But Material Transmutation (Reinforcing, Alteration, and Projection) was something Shinji could do since it was a basic skill—the levels of success varied in general, but he could do everything to an extent.
Reinforcing was the easiest on objects, but he wouldn’t dare try a serious immediate reinforcement on his body again after the last time nearly left him screaming in pain as Fang Yin laughed after warning him. Projection was useful for when he needed something like a small stand or tool for some of the medical practices that Fang Yin showed him, but it was worthless to him in the long run with his low number of circuits—a complete waste. In the end, it was the alteration was what he found to be the most useful.
If he used alteration he could shape himself a weapon and then reinforce it to stand up to abuse and armor to weather her blows. Avoid the jewels, attack from a distance with a weapon of some sort, and have something to block her cursed shots. And then, after he dealt with Rin, he needed to deal with the old worm.
Yes, Shinji was definitely going to kill that old worm one of these days. Even if he had to purge every inch of the Matou estate with fire…lots of fire. Maybe he’d catch the Tohsaka estate in the process as well since they were so close…
“Shinji,” said a voice from behind the Matou. He turned to see Shirou standing there.
“This had better be good, Emiya,” he said annoyed, taken from his fantasy of watching the old worm burn. “If you’re trying to pitch for the Kendo club, I’ll have to decline. I fear for my health after seeing what you did to that other guy.”
“That was an accident,” Shirou said, narrowing his eyes slightly in defense. “Fuji-nee sucked me into the place and gave me Tora-Shinai. Once it was drawn, there was no putting it down until blood was drawn.”
And blood was definitely drawn. So much blood…they won’t even let Shirou back into the club anymore. “They called you the Second Coming of the Tiger.”
“I’m telling you, that thing is cursed.” Shirou said, recalling the scene his imagination painted while he was using it, including Taiga using it to nail a guy pointing a gun at her grandfather. “Truly, only Fuji-nee could use such a monstrosity without succumbing.”
Shinji shrugged. “Either way, I’m not much for using a sword.”
“What about Archery?” Shirou offered. “There aren’t as many people applying this year according to Fuji-nee, who’s the supervisor…”
“Hmm…” Shinji rubbed his chin in thought. He settled on, “I’ll go and observe it for now, then decide.”
Entering the Archery Club, he settled down and watched a girl of no importance nock an arrow. Watching the scene, Shinji entered his spellcaster’s mindset and mentally took in the pros and cons. If I used alteration I could easily shape the shenfu into arrows for a longer and faster method of using them, attacking outside the range of the Gandr Shot the Tohsaka were known for using after the third war…or was it Fin Shot? Let’s see, taking in the shape of the arrows, the length and width of the average shenfu, the initial prana unit costs for each one made, etc…etc…
Yeah, I could definitely work with that if I came up with the proper method of compacting the paper to maintain an aerodynamic shape. Although, I should swap out the idea of using solely shenfu arrows and use reinforced and altered newspaper or something—those shenfu arrows could be saved for a triumph cards…and it would save on the costs of regular arrows as well. No sense in wasting money on that end, even if I have more than enough.
But if she does somehow get in close, I’d need to deal with the Gan—
“Matou—” Shinji jumped as someone put a hand on his shoulder and spun around. He’d been so lost in his thoughts that he forgot to mind his surroundings. Of course, his sudden reaction caused the owner of that hand to back away in shock for a moment.
She was a classmate of Shirou and Shinji. Tall, with light brown hair and a confident demeanor befitting an older sibling, Ayako Mitsuzuri touched him so casually despite them only knowing each other’s name from class. “—easy there…I was just wondering, since you were all fixated on that girl on the shooting range, were going to sign up just to ogle?”
“Well…” Shinji shifted his mindset from that of a spellcaster to that of a normal male and noticed the girl he was staring at was alright, 7 out of 10. “I should learn a martial art and this has the least amount of stress on my body. In fact, being surrounded by lovely ladies would do wonders for my health.”
“So it’s you, me, and Emiya joining from the same class,” she concluded, ignoring that last part.
Shinji looked over to the idiot in question, already making himself useful by attaching strings to bows at the behest of another student. His ‘fake janitor’ status had become fairly well known in short order. “Honestly, people will continue to take advantage of him like that.”
Ayako raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms. “Don’t you take advantage of him as well?”
“That’s different,” Shinji defended. “I’m his friend, so it’s okay when I do it. That’s how our relationship works. Besides, I occasionally compensate him for it and never ask him to do something that may take away too much of his free time…plus, he enjoys it. Helping others is like a drug to him.”
Ayako simply sighed. “Your definition of friendship leaves a lot to question. Well, if it works for you then I can’t interfere. Let’s go see if we can’t get some practice with a bow today and then spring for uniforms.”
“Grrr…” Shinji growled as he gritted his teeth as the arrow missed for who knows how many times. He had yet to hit a single target and everyone else had left the club already, and possibly the school…except for Shirou, in the main building doing his helping thing, and one other person.
“Are you still at it?” Ayako asked, already dressed and ready to leave. “I’m pretty sure that it’s time for everything to be put back and the dojo locked up for the night.”
“I have permission to use the dojo until later,” Shinji told her. Granted, he hypnotized a few people to get said permission and Taiga wasn’t there to approve of it, but he did have permission that he could use to shift the blame if he did get in trouble.
“Even if you have permission, you should take a break,” she insisted. “You’ve been at it all day.”
“I can’t,” he stated, readying another arrow. “Emiya managed to not miss even once and it was his first time. For me to simply give up without success is unforgivable, even if I have to shoot 200 arrows a day to do so.”
“Wow, you are prideful,” she shrugged, before some concern entered her voice. “But you’re looking worse and sweating…”
“I’ll be fine,” Shinji said. “I have a little sister, a year younger, that I made a promise to. For that promise to come to pass, I need to get better at this faster. Stopping without hitting a few times would be a sin, and my body can withstand this much.”
“Hmm,” Ayako nodded slowly. “So you want to prove you’re responsible by showing her that even with your body in such poor condition you can do something if you set your mind and will to it.”
He shrugged. “…Sure, let’s go with that.”
“It sounds like you’ve got a decent relationship with her,” she sighed. “I wish my brother and I were like that. I’m supposed to be looking over him, but he feels the need to be overprotective of me as a man…despite the fact I know plenty of ways to defend myself.”
“Sounds rough…” Shinji fired another arrow. It missed. “Tch…”
“You’ll be here all night at this rate,” Ayako claimed after witnessing the failure again. “Let me help you out.”
Though reluctant, Shinji accepted her help. Had this of been simply a hobby, his pride would have had turned her away. But this was preparation against an enemy, whom he would do whatever it took to win.
“Get into position—” Ayako nestled next to him, correcting his mistakes in posture by hand. “—like that. Can you feel the difference in balance?”
“A bit…” Shinji admitted.
“Archery has three portions: Endurance, Accuracy, and Piercing Strength. Accuracy is how well you hit the target. Piercing Strength is the power to pierce the target. Endurance is to maintain the other two. But in truth you aren’t shooting the arrow, but you’re shooting at your mind that’s trying to shoot at the target.”
He couldn’t help but blink. “That makes…little sense.”
“It means you’re killing yourself,” she corrected. “You’re making yourself transparent and one with nature—abandoning your ego. Following eight steps, the purpose of archery is one of mentality where the goal isn’t to hit the target, but you only know you succeed if you do. In other words, as a martial artist, you reach a state of nothingness.”
“Hmm…” That sounds like the basics of magic meditation. Erasing yourself and turning into a Magic Circuit in order to modify the world’s inner workings. Let nothing distract you, move forward… “So, because I’ve been trying to hit the target, I’ve been missing because of my ego?”
“Yeah,” she nodded, getting closer and attaching her hand to his to steady the bow. “Emiya has already reached that form even before he began. It’s strange, but he’s kinda strange overall being so unselfish at his age. It would be better if he were a bit like you.”
Shinji said nothing, slipping into his meditative state with his eyes open. Visualize the target. Set the path. Filter out all distraction—
“Like that…” she whispered in his ear, her eyes fixed ahead to match his own sight. “Now…just let it go.”
His fingers opened from their grip and the arrow cut through the space between and hit the target. Not a bull’s-eye, but it did hit. “Finally!”
“Congratulations,” she said…and then realized how close they were and separated from him. “It took a while, but you got it done.”
Shinji smiled confidently. This was how he could fight against her, by sniping her from outside her attacking range, which was beyond ordinary human eyesight and arm strength. Against Rin Tohsaka, a born magus, Shinji Matou could only hope to overwhelm her with such tactics as fighting from afar, ambushes, and dirty tactics. He could not be her in magical ability overall, but in a specialized circumstance he held a chance.
He’d have to work on reinforcing his eyes to increase the accuracy and arms to handle the bow tension. That meant he was going to have to start practicing on his body again. If he took it slow, he probably wouldn’t lose an eye by accident or shred his muscles to pieces…again. “You seem to be as natural as Emiya and a good teacher.”
“No, his form is really beautiful…” Ayako shook her head. “In my case, martial arts are a hobby and true nothingness is beyond me at the moment. In all honesty though, I didn’t expect you to get a hit on the first time with some guidance. Maybe you’re deeper than I thought to have attained such a state in short order.”
“Perhaps,” Shinji told her, eyes still fixed on the target. It didn’t hurt him to maintain a good standing with someone who was useful and Mitsuzuri was straightforwardly honest, like Emiya…but less of a gopher. “I will pay you back for this.”
“If you want to pay me back, keep this private session to yourself,” she said. “Tohsaka and I have a bet going on and she’d consider two people alone in a club room after hours ammunition. Despite how she’s shaping up as Miss Perfect, there’s a different person there.”
“I’m not fooled by Rin Tohsaka’s mask,” Shinji said as he nocked another arrow. Following the principles that Ayako showed him, his muscles tensed as he drew back the string and then fired the arrow. It hit a little closer to the center.
“That’s good you’re not fooled,” Ayako said. “I thought you were going to be like one of those guys who idol her because of her appearance or the fact that she lives in a big mansion or something, but I guess when she turned you down it showed you a bit of her second nature.”
Shinji scoffed. “You have no idea.”
Ayako left after that and Shinji continued to practice until his arms gave out. He briefly wondered if he could just leave the mess as it was and hypnotize whoever came here early in the morning to clean it up. But then came Shirou, the one person he wouldn’t need to do anything but ask.
“Emiya,” Shinji called out. “Can you handle the clean up? I need to get home and take some medicine.”
“Sure,” he agreed, unselfishly. “Tell your sister I said hello.”
“I will…” Shinji sighed as he left to get changed.
Emiya was an idiot, but nice to have around. Shinji could let down his guard and be frank with him. In return he would occasionally redirect some requests from others to have him do grunt work away so that he could have time to himself…or so he could do Shinji’s work. One directs and the other follows. It was a somewhat poisonous friendship, but at least both parties knew their roles.
Plus Sakura seemed to have gained some kind of affection for him after watching him stupidly try to jump a bar repeatedly in addition to defending her a few years ago. Maybe he should see about pairing them up. Emiya wouldn’t use or betray Sakura, giving her another bastion of hope until he could free her from the Matou name.
Walking home, a thought crossed his mind on a new mental trigger and he concentrated. The image of an arrow hitting his brain opened the circuits in a single blow. He settled on it, saying, “Well, it’s better than what I used before…faster as well.”
Shinji’s magecraft combines bits and pieces of Eastern arts rather than how Rin relies on Western principles, and Rin is a close-to-mid range fighter while Shinji will fight from a distance and use shikigami for close-range.