Chapter 18: Rin Tohsaka
As she went back to the Emiya residence, Arturia reflected on her brief encounter with the girl. She wasn’t sure what kind of person Rin Tohsaka was, especially considering her young age.
She was confrontational, unafraid, suspicious of people but not particularly cautious, evidently smart but not the type who thought things through completely. She seemed to have a strange personality: gruff and brusque in exterior, much softer and probably fragile inside. Arturia could see the effects of Tokiomi’s upbringing, and she did not like it.
She did not know the details, but she was aware of the fact that Tokiomi’s death had been a horrible betrayal… however, he had certainly been no saint.
It was best to discuss those considerations with Gilgamesh, who had been Tokiomi’s Servant and probably knew more about him than her. To be fair, Arturia mused, it was not bound to be the truth, because she had been Kiritsugu’s Servant and had known close to nothing about him. But Gilgamesh was better at reading people than her – he would most certainly be able to provide more information.
She was going to do that because Arturia had decided to begin to look into Rin Tohsaka’s life… and hopefully find a possibility to free her from Kirei’s shadow over her. But she needed to discover more about the girl first.
Of one thing, the King of Knights was absolutely certain: Rin didn’t like Kirei. At all.
That meant that she was not going to talk to him about meeting a strange woman, and therefore her identity was not at risk of being exposed.
After picking up Illya at the Emiya’s – where Arturia had a brief but important request for Taiga about the following days –, the King of Knights cooked dinner, and spent the evening doing some housework with her ward while listening to her talking about her time with her brother.
When it was time to go to sleep, the King of Knights dialled the number of the other former Heroic Spirit. As usual, he answered after only one ring.
After summarizing the other events of the day, Arturia approached the subject in which she was interested the most.
“When I was at the mall, I had quite the strange meeting. I saw Rin Tohsaka.”
On the other side, she knew that Gilgamesh was listening a bit more intently.
She briefly explained the coat incident, and continued, “I was wondering about the reason why Kirei controls her money and therefore, to a certain extent, her life, in such a way.”
The King of Heroes was completely aware of the fact that she wanted to know more, and he scoffed.
“Kirei is not completely in control of the Tohsakas’ heritage. Apparently, even if Tokiomi left everything entrusted to his care in the will, the family’s attorneys in London had some sense and they didn’t allow the Tohsakas’ riches to be safeguarded by a complete stranger. Kirei only has some form of minor tutelage, or so it seems.”
Arturia frowned. Then what had happened that afternoon didn’t make much sense. She repeated to him the shop assistant’s words.
“Could you please look a little more into this, Gilgamesh? That girl’s entire future is on the line if Kirei manages to extend his full control over her.”
He was annoyed, and did not bother hiding it.
“Arturia, that brat is the child of my former Master. Tokiomi was a very boring mongrel, and there is little chance of his offspring being better. I don’t see your interest in her, either.”
Arturia did her best to suppress an exasperated sigh.
“I disagree, Gilgamesh. She is a strange girl… and I believe you might find her interesting. Do not judge a child from the actions of the parents.”
There was a short pause.
“I have told her that I will see her again – so when she will come to visit, I would like you… to be present as well. You will be able to form your own opinion on her in such a manner.”
Another silence followed. He seemed to sigh.
“Very well, King of Knights. I doubt that meeting the girl can compete in boredom with Kirei’s activities, so it might as well be an acceptable distraction.”
A few days later, Arturia went to the shopping mall again, to buy some specific ingredients to cook a special meal that evening, because she wished to surprise Illya every once in a while.
As she was leaving the place after paying for her purchase, she met Rin again.
The black-haired girl seemed to be more cautious and less aggressive than the previous time. She greeted Arturia, and that pleased the woman, because it was proof that she could be polite.
“Ma’am, I didn’t properly thank you for buying me the coat… and for your advice on both the colour of the coat and Kirei.” She took a deep breath. “Thank you very much for your kindness.”
Arturia gave her a small nod. It was nice of her to be thanking her. The girl looked at her with curiosity and a small amount of suspicion.
“Who are you, ma’am? How do you know so much about me?”
Arturia considered the girl in front of her. She was not to blame for her father’s sins… she was a young girl under the tutelage of a monster. No one deserved such a thing. Perhaps… perhaps she would be able to help her.
With a slight tilt of her head, Arturia indicated a teashop next to where they were standing.
“Would you like to sit down and have a cup of tea as we talk, Rin?”
Arturia did not want to treat her as a child, because she avoided treating Illya as such, and she knew that, aside from helping her be more mature, it also made her happy.
The woman and the girl went to sit down inside the teashop, and they were quickly brought their orders. As she sipped on her tea, Arturia reflected on what exactly tell the girl. She seemed to be a clever child; her behaviour that day proved that there was potential in her, and she had not been ruined by her upbringing… yet.
From what the King of Knights knew about Tokiomi and Kirei, it was highly likely that the girl was knowledgeable about the Grail War… perhaps she was even being educated to be a participant in the future. Arturia felt disgust at the thought; but she knew that Jubstacheit von Einzbern was not the only one who considered people to be his pawns.
She began to speak, slowly and calmly.
“My name is Arturia. I am afraid I do not know much about you, Rin. I know about Kirei… and your father.”
She could see that the girl was evaluating her words, and she continued, “I know that you are a Magus.”
At those words, the girl’s eyes narrowed and Arturia felt her begin to use her powers to focus on her, to analyse her.
And Rin’s eyes widened in shock and a slight amount of fear when she realized the enormous amount of magical force there was in the woman.
Arturia sipped on her tea, completely calm. It was obvious that the girl was a powerful Magus, or at least, she had the potential to be one.
Seeing her very wary, however, made her decide to reassure her.
“I mean you no harm, Rin. I would just like to get to know you… and perhaps help you, if you will allow it.”
The girl seemed to be very indecisive, even if she did her best to hide it behind an emotionless mask. Arturia went on.
“You are in the same school as Emiya Shirou, I presume.”
Rin’s eyebrows shot up. What was that? What did that have to do with their talk?
The King of Knights stood up, gestured for the bill and paid it. Then she looked at the girl again.
“If you want, tomorrow you can accompany him home, and we will be able to meet again, and talk some more… a public place like this is not always secure. Shirou is unaware of everything we just discussed and doesn’t know about magic… but he knows me, and tomorrow I will be there.”
Rin seemed to be confused, but stood up as well, realizing that the conversation was over. Before leaving, Arturia addressed her once more.
“Please remember, Rin… don’t trust Kirei.”
The following day, after Illya had come back from school, Arturia waited with her for Gilgamesh’s arrival. She had told him over the phone that she was going to meet Tokiomi’s daughter, and he had agreed to come with them.
Arturia had asked Taiga if it was all right to invite someone else over to their place a few days before, and Taiga had been completely accepting of it. The King of Knights had not clarified that she had chosen the Emiya residence because of its strong protective bound field.
When Illya, Arturia and Gilgamesh came in, they found Shirou sitting next to a black-haired girl. Arturia politely greeted them both before making the necessary introductions.
As it happened, that day there was a problem with the kitchen pipes, and a plumber came to fix it. Since Taiga wasn’t there, Shirou needed to make sure everything was done properly, and excused himself from the guests, apologizing for the inconvenience and leaving plenty of tea and biscuits on the small table.
Gilgamesh lay down on one of the futons, bored, sipping on his favourite red wine. Arturia calmly and elegantly sat on her knees, while Illya studied Rin curiously.
The black-haired girl, after the discovery of the previous day, had decided to never let her guard down and used her senses to ‘scan’ the young girl in front of her. She narrowed her eyes at her.
“You are a Magus as well.”
Illya did not seem fazed; in fact, she only smiled.
“No, I’m not a Magus. I am just studying Magecraft. You are studying to become a Magus, aren’t you?”
Looking into the dark red eyes of Illya, Rin realized that, even if the girl looked very young and nice, she had probably more expertise than her, because she had not been taken by surprise by her magical abilities.
Contrary to her, the smaller girl had probably had her senses sharp and vigil all the time… Rin mentally reprimanded herself for her carelessness.
Arturia stood up.
“I will go make sure that Shirou does not walk in on this kind of conversation. Illya, I think you and Rin should talk about the Holy Grail War.”
The King of Knights, after exchanging a glance with Gilgamesh to stop him from making any comments on Shirou, left the room, placing herself between the corridor and the entrance, so she could monitor the boy’s arrival.
Illya looked at the black-haired girl with a good-natured smile on her face.
“So you are the girl Arturia talked about.” Her expression turned a bit sadder. “You have lost people you loved during that war as well.” She looked even more melancholic. “I’m sorry about your parents.”
Rin stared at her in both surprise and a little annoyance. It was none of the girl’s business, but she could show her some politeness nonetheless.
“Thank you. I assume you have lost people as well.”
Illya nodded sadly.
“I’ve lost my parents, too.”
Rin’s eyes narrowed. That meant that the white-haired girl was the daughter of other contestants of the war… therefore, her father’s enemies.
Before she could address that, however, Illya continued, “Only we know how much was truly lost during that war.”
Tokiomi’s daughter was confused. What exactly was the other girl talking about?
It was a war; of course there were going to be losses and deaths and other brutal events. Why did she not see that? Why did she just make a sad expression and not try to do something about it?
Rin gave a very unladylike snort. She knew what to do.
Pushing her hair back, she proudly declared, “I will win the Grail War one day.”
Three seconds of absolute silence followed, before Illya stared at her with such an expression of disbelief and revulsion that Rin felt as if she had been slapped.
Gilgamesh, behind them, hid a smirk.
The white-haired girl stood up. She was small and fragile looking, but her dark red eyes were ablaze with fury. Rin felt intimidated, even if she refused to show it.
Every word that came out of Illya’s mouth was laced in anger.
“I hope you are thinking about what you just said. You have lost your father to a meaningless war where people killed each other in pure brutality and treachery. And you are saying you want to participate in the same blood-shed yourself?”
She gave her a short and formal bow.
“Please excuse me.”
And Illya stormed out of the room, leaving Rin quite taken aback at her harshness. But before she could properly take into consideration what had just happened, she heard a low chuckle.
She looked up to see the man named Gilgamesh sitting up with his glass of wine in hand.
“What an interesting scene,” he said with a smirk.
His red eyes seemed to weigh her, but only in a bored manner, and he unexpectedly asked her a question.
“So, what is the wish you want to express over the Grail, assuming that you manage to win?”
Rin huffed, looking away.
“I don’t have anything to ask to that cup. I just want to win… and restore the Tohsaka family’s prestige.”
To that, she was dismayed to hear him laugh.
He seemed to be deeply amused by her words. She was going to say something rude to him, but his expression stopped her.
He looked at her intently, finally focusing on her completely.
“So you are not even doing this for yourself… your wish, girl, is suicidal. You are just being the blind puppet your selfish father taught you to be. You have never even questioned anything he said and did, have you?”
His next words cut her deeply.
“And family prestige… Don’t make me laugh. Do you honestly believe that anyone cared about Tokiomi’s death? And do you think that anyone will care, should you manage to win?”
He swirled the glass in his hand.
“So young… and so foolish.”
Rin felt her anger rise.
Who was that man? How dare he insult her like that? What right did he have to talk so low of what she had to do?
Driven by her temper, she stood up. Her voice rose.
“How dare you! How could you possibly understand… I have lost everything to get to this point!”
Only lifting an eyebrow at her, uncaring of her anger, he took another sip of wine.
“Yes, you have lost everything… and you seek to obtain the very same thing that cost you everything. Illya was right… You are offering yourself on a silver platter to that same war that is the reason your family was torn apart.” He scoffed. “Arturia had told me that you were smart… it sure does not appear to be the case.”
Rin was numb in shock. She could not think, and she could certainly not speak.
Without a word, she turned around and went to the sliding doors of the room, pushing them open to walk out. She reached the entrance, where she put on her shoes.
Before she could leave, however, Arturia appeared behind her. Rin didn’t turn around to look at her.
The tone of her voice made it clear that she was aware of what had happened.
“I am sorry. I did not mean for things to escalate to this point.”
The black-haired girl did not say a word and did not move. She suddenly felt a warm, comforting hand touching her arm lightly.
Arturia continued, “You are a smart girl. Please think about what happened today, and make your decisions.”
She seemed to hesitate for a second.
“I will come and visit you at the Tohsaka residence in a few weeks. If you will not want to see me, you can simply avoid opening the door, and I will leave you alone.”
Rin turned her head in her direction slightly.
She could see the woman’s truthful and honourable expression, and managed to give her a short nod.
Understanding her need to be alone, Arturia released her arm and took a step back, watching as she closed the door behind herself to leave.
There was silence as Arturia went back to the room in which Gilgamesh was. He had lain back down on the tatami mats, sipping on his wine seemingly without a care in the world.
She sat in front of him, in silence. He opened his Gate of Babylon and surprised her by making a steaming teacup appear in front of her. She raised an eyebrow. He knew that she preferred tea to wine, and had been considerate enough to give her exactly that.
She took the cup and slowly sipped on it, finding the taste to be exquisite. She tilted her lips upwards a little in silent thanks, knowing that he would take notice of it.
When the silence between them stretched, he suddenly broke it.
“You are not saying anything, Arturia. I had expected you to express your thoughts on what just happened, and perhaps even try to berate me. I know you heard every word.”
He would not admit to her that he had actually found it entertaining to meet the black-haired girl.
Even if she was foolish, she was different from her father Tokiomi. She was certainly much less boring, but whether she was clever or not, he couldn’t determine it yet.
Arturia seemed to be thoughtful.
She slowly said, “It’s true that you could have been less harsh towards Rin Tohsaka. She has already been through a lot in her life, and that justifies her way of thinking… to an extent.”
There was a second of pause.
“However, you didn’t say anything that was untrue. You pointed out the limits of her beliefs with accuracy.”
Before he could comment on her unexpected agreeing with him, she stood up.
“I will see if the plumber has finished, and make sure Illya isn’t too upset.”
Cup in hand, she left the room.
The matter with the kitchen pipes was perfectly fixed, and Arturia only vaguely told Shirou that Rin had already left. Then the King of Knights went to look for Illya, finding her in the garden, and sat down by her side, gently beginning to reason with her.
She explained that Tokiomi and Kirei, who were quite similar to her Grandfather Jubstacheit in their behaviour towards the girl, had raised Rin. Rin had grown up with the idea of the war as inevitable in her head; therefore, she had not been able to see any other points of view.
Illya understood… in fact, she even felt bad for lashing out at her.
She herself had had Arturia to guide her down the right path, while Rin had not had anyone. The white-haired girl expressed the desire to meet her again… and perhaps become her friend.
Arturia explained that they first needed to give her space and leave her the choice of what she wanted to do.
Rin Tohsaka would have to think deeply about her life… and decide what she wanted to do with it.