Chapter 1 : Dawn

It was at dawn when Matou Sakura woke up from her brief sleep. On the nightstand, the alarm rings were almost too irritating for her ears to stand. Reaching out, her hand weakly touched the button, silenced the clock. Today was Sunday, no school but she could not stay a little longer on the bed to regenerate her health. “Get up early to prepare, today is an important day!”, that mummified old man, current head of the Matous, Zouken had told her that with a hint of threat if she dared to disobey. Having hoped of sleeping through a night without any disturbances, Sakura found her little wish to be too naive. That despicable boy she called ‘brother’, though having heard Zouken’s words, still had not left her a night alone. The dirty process lasted until 4:30 AM to be precise, unusually longer than usual. While brutally invading her private place with his thing, he sprayed curses all over, showering her delicate yet luxurious body with hits, which she had to endure with her sheer willpower. The more she screamed or wept, the more ecstatic he would feel and thus, her pains only increased. Hence she ground her teeth, bit her lips so that even the faintest sound could not escape from her mouth. And when he too got tired with hitting her with bare fists, he threw anything he could get a hold of at her. Not just his technique in bed is lame, his throwing skill sucks ! Thanks to that, Sakura was only hit by a cup and a small mirror. A few cuts, a little bloodshed, besides, no serious wounds.

Slackly getting out of the bed, Sakura went to the bathroom. Cleaning herself should have been her top priority after the boy had done her, but the temptation of sleep had won over her. Warm water showered her, washing away the marks he had left on her body. Looking at herself in the mirror clouded by steam, Sakura let out a bitter smirk. “That’s all you can do ? The worms have mended them already.” After all,  those parasites do provide her with one advantage : they successfully mend any wounds appearing on her body, protecting their host for the sake of their own. Though having been bullied for years, her skin bears not a single scar. Flawless as a baby’s skin, it is actually their work. Ironically, not only do they preserve her beauty, they also cover her mouth from shouting to the outside world. Who will believe her if they cannot find a scar on her skin ?

When Sakura walked downstairs to the dining room, dressing in her modest pink and white dress, they were already there. Albeit her stomach was growling starvingly, one mere look at those loathsome faces has swept away her appetite.

“Sit down !” A short command came out the dry, hollow cavern on that mummified face, which always made her shiver to the core.

“Yes grandfather.” Obedient as a programmed robot, Sakura sat down on her usual chair, across from her brother’s seat. Noticing the glare from him, Sakura remained silent, ignoring it.

“Eat quickly ! Then follow me to the underground base. There’re still more preparations to be made before the time comes.”

“Yes grandfather.” Sakura nodded and began to chew on her food. No matter how delicious the food was, her tongue only tasted the bitterness.

“Do you remember the chant ?”

“Yes grandfather.” Still in monotonous voice the girl replied.

“Not a flaw to be made. That ensures the chance to summon a powerful Servant.”

“Yes grandfather.”

“After she summons ‘it’, she will transfer the Command Seals to me, right, grandpa ?” The despicable boy, Shinji was his name, said.

“How shameless of you to ask like that !- Zouken scolded but no hints of anger in the old man’s tone- You who are not capable of summoning your own Servant, must ask Sakura whether she agrees or not.”

Provided Zouken ordered her to give away her future Servant, would she dare not to ?

“Sakura will never let me down, right sister ?” With a devilish grin, Shinji glanced at her. In response, the girl lowered her head, busying herself with the task of chewing her meal. In her very heart, Sakura never wants to give Shinji her future Servant. No matter how her Servant will be, weak or strong, it has answered her call and therefore, belongs to her. Finally she is able to have something on her own, giving it to someone else is the least thing she is willing to do. At the same time, she is afraid of what he is going to do to crush her stubborness.

“After the Servant is summoned, we’ll decide that matter.”

Hearing Zouken’s words, Shinji shut his mouth right away.

Tortures and agony, those were Zouken’s ‘preparations’ for the ritual. Without an artifact, which Servant to be summoned will depend greatly on the magus’s wish, personality and thaumaturgical ability. Zouken has told her that hundreds times. In order to summon a capable Servant, Zouken had kept Sakura in the storage underground, where he raised his worms, the entire morning and afternoon. More worms were jammed into her body, further increasing her pain to the point when she collapsed to the ground. Not until did the evening come that she woke up from her coma. Aching all over, she stepped into the bathroom. Cold water made her raise goose bumps but on the other hand, her numb brain was stimulated and began to slowly regain its functions.

One hour to midnight. The ritual preparations were complete. Her summoning would be watched by Zouken and Shinji. Although no winds could invade this underground basement, Sakura still felt the persistent chill rampaging her skin. Calming her raging heartbeats, she stepped into the summoning circle which was drawn by blood of the sacrifices.

Midnight. A lone owl’s shriek was heard in the distant. And then, silence furthered the intensity. Sakura began to chant.

“Let thy body rest under my dominion, let my fate rest in thy blade.

If thou submitteth to the call of the Holy Grail, and if thou wilt obey this mind, this reason, then thou shalt respond.”

The Crest of the Matous on her back, the sole reason of Shinji’s envy and abuse, burnt with unimaginable heat. Sakura bit her lips, not daring to interrupt her incantation. If some mistake was to be made, only god knew how Zouken was going to punish her.

“I am the one who is to become the virtue of all Heaven. I am the one who will destroy the evil of all Hades.

Thee who will become the sword in my hand, bring the honor of bearing the Grail to us Matous.“

The latter sentence was The Matous’ additional change added into the original incantation. Those words carried the burden of a desperate one-thousand-year-old wish the family which had declined in the Magi’s world. Their hope of obtaining the Grail to restore their former glory had been tainted with blood of countless sacrifices and yet, they kept blindedly pursued it.

Those were the words she chanted verbally. These were the words she chanted mentally and simultaneous, the wish that was persistently ringing in her heart.

“Thee who answer my call, please become my shield and protect me from all evils.”

Thunder roared, lightning tore the velvet sky and the back of her right hand suffered an indescribable pain. Though no storm was coming, strong gust of wind surrounded the glistening circle. Slowly but firmly, the figure of the answered Servant emerged. The Heroic Spirit that descended from the Throne of Heroes to the beckoning of the miraculous Grail. Traveling across space and ages, he was the one to reply to her heart’s true wish.

End of ‘Dawn’.

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