Shinji rudely threw his bag on the sofa, where Sakura was sitting and reading some book she had borrowed from a classmate. Having already gotten used to this kind of behavior, Sakura’s face was expressionless. Not even blink, she just moved further to the edge.
“Shit ! That stupid’s as weak as worm !” Right after settling his seat, ill words spilled from Shinji’s mouth. Normally, Sakura would not give a damn about what came out that despicable mouth as she had heard quite a lot. Whatever troubled him as school, getting bad results or being rejected by a girl, Shinji would always blame it on others, cursing them with the worst insults he could think of. Strangely, today, his words caught her attention. She could almost tell to whom Shinji was referring.
Following behind Shinji was the knight of lance that Sakura had summoned. He appeared much less ravishing than the first night : his armor was torn, revealing his skin covered with bloody wounds; blood was freshly dripping from his forehead, blinding his left eye; his left hand was clutching his right, one limb had already broken.
Seeing her Servant in such a dreadful state, Sakura felt as if a rough hand was squeezing her heart. When her eyes met his, the knight quickly turned his head away, avoiding her gaze but Sakura did not fail to notice a hint of shame on his handsome face. The odd thing was while Lancer was terribly injured, Shinji remained totally safe, without a slightest scratch.
“What happened, nii-san ?” Not really did she care about happened had to Shinji, what she concerned was the reason why her Servant had gotten so many wounds.
“I planned to attack the Einzbern castle, where the Einzbern Master lives. Turned out that small Master of Berserker has such a huge Servant. Your useless Lancer was only able to inflict some minor wounds on him and had his ass kicked like that. “
Hissing a disgruntled sound, Shinji acted as if it was all Lancer’s fault that he had not achieved anything tonight. Feeling guilty for having pushed Lancer into this miserable state, Sakura did a rare brave act of standing up for her Servant.
“Please don’t be so harsh on him nii-san ! At least he did his best to protect you from danger.”
Somewhat startle to see that doll girl was actually trying to defend someone, a sudden fury rose from Shinji’s core.
“He ? Protect me ? Ridiculous ! That puny Servant didn’t pay a single ounce of attention in guarding his Master. Had I not been wise and observed the fight from a distant corner, I would have been smashed like an egg.”
Hiding himself in a safe place and letting the Servant fight all by himself, what could be expected more from Matou Shinji ?
“I have no duty to protect anyone besides Sakura-sama, let alone a scum like you.” Lancer, though still numbed with pain, rebuked, his words were not less sharp than the tips of his spears.-I would be more than happy to watch Berserker crush you like a rotten tomato. “ A smirk hung at the corner of his lips, a smirk aimed directly at Shinji’s cowardice. “Unfortunately, Berserker’s insanity did not allow him to figure out where you hid. “
“Asshole !” Driving mad by his anger and humiliation, Shinji lifted his leg in attempt to give Lancer a good hard kick. He was smart enough to strike at Lancer’s right side, where his broken arm resided, leaving him defendless.
“Please don’t nii-san !”Sakura shouted as she saw through his intention.
The uttering sound carried no meaning as it was only the sound coming from a slender neck being grabbed so painfully. Provided a little more strength was added into the grasp, the neck would blatantly break in two.
Tears of pain and fear trickled out from the corners of his eyes. Matou Shinji, who was supposed to be the attacker, had his throat caught in the strong and firm fingers of the knight. The attacker got attacked, at that moment, Shinji realized how foolish his act was. A Heroic Spirit, even though he was gravely wounded, was far more superior in physical strength compared to that of a normal human, let alone a frail boy like Shinji.
With no effort, Lancer had caught Shinji’s throat with his left hand and lifted him up a few inches away from the ground. Seeing that, Sakura exhaled a sigh of relief.
“ Ho ? You have something to say ?” Lancer mocked at Shinji’s pathetic expression with a hint of cruelty. “Your throat stuck ? Maybe I can help you get rid of that disturbing part.”
Shinji’s face grew pale from sheer terror and turned purple from the lack of air. The boy was opening his mouth widely like a dying fish.
Lancer’s right eye narrowed deadly. His elegant face was tainted with blood and anger, turning to an opposite countenance akin to a demon’s.
“When you cannot speak with that foul mouth of yours, the Command Spell won’t take effect on me.”
“Such might cannot be expected in any Servants but Heroic Spirit Diarmuid !” Voice of the fourth person raised in the air, along with a rotten stench that was too familiar. The old corpse seemed to appear from nowhere and applauded Lancer’s act with a sarcastic tone, mocking his current condition. In his presence, Sakura’s face became colorless. The knight’s sharp intuition reminded him that this Matou Zouken was a fearsome being.
“Instead of praising my strength, you should praise your grandson’s bravery for trying to hit a Servant bare-handedly.”
The sound of two bony hands clapping came soft and dry, added with Zouken’s wicked laughters.
“Action matches words. Simply great ! However, would you remain calm and haughty like that if your Master were in the same state as my grandson ?”
Lancer shuddered at the sight of Sakura’s face distorted with agony caused by an invisible force, as if a pair of hands was also squeezing her delicate neck, even stronger and more merciless than Lancer’s. Glaring at the old man with furious flame, the knight let go off Shinji’s throat and the boy fell heavily to the ground like a junk bag. At the same time, Sakura’s throat was released. Both of them were clutching their throats, desperately gasping for air; though on Shinji’s skin, the imprint of Lancer’s fingers was clearly visible, Sakura’s skin bore no strange marks. What seemed to have strangled her just then was obliviously the work of Zouken. Biting his lower lips, Lancer silently cursed. Zouken’s power had no effect on a Servant with high magic resistance like him but what about his Master ? Her fragile body could not endure such brutal force.
“Now, you learn your lesson, Shinji. Don’t think of Servants too lowly. Next time I may not be able to save you.”
Zouken’s words might seem like scolding, they were really a warning to Shinji. Don’t let your guard down; try to take advantage of the Command Spell Sakura cast on Lancer. Getting his idea, Shinji glared at Lancer, who was helping Sakura on her feet, with blood-shot eyes, hands massaging his sore throat. He had already had a good idea of making Sakura pay for what Lancer had done.
“Sakura” Zouken’s stared at the younger girl.
“Yes grandfather ?”
“Try to heal all Lancer’s injuries. I want him in full health tomorrow.”
“And Shinji, in order to let Sakura concentrate on her task, you must not bother her.”
Zouken’s order drew two contradictory reactions from his grandchildren : Shinji ground his teeth in frustration while Sakura sighed with relief as a burden had been lifted off her shoulders. Beside Lancer, the three of them clearly knew the meaning of ‘bother’ Zouken had mentioned. Though his knowledge of his Master’s hell was only a matter of time, Sakura tried to postpone it as long as possible.
The room was small and dimly lit, a thick and dark curtain blocked the moonlight outside the window. Certainly, its owner does not fancy light. Provided she did not need to do a few tasks, doing her homework for example, Sakura would turn off all the lights and allow darkness to totally occupy this place. Light exposes her impure nature while darkness gently shields her, embraces her.
While walking to her room, Sakura and her Servant did not exchange a word; she led the way and he quietly followed.
“Please sit down !” Sakura pointed to her bed.
As soon as he settled his seat, the handsome spearman lowered his head.
“I’m terribly sorry, Sakura-sama. To have performed so poorly and brought shame to you.”
“No, you did not.” She said softly, almost whispered. Activating her Magic Circuits, Sakura poured prana to her palm. As a result, her hand gleamed in reaction of the healing magecraft. Despite her ghostly touches on his wounds, the girl was concentrating her mind on mending each and every of his injuries, even fixing his armor. The pleasing warmth of her magecraft brought a faint smile on the knight’s lips.
“It’s me who should apologize. If it were not because of me, you would not have to fight and get yourself injure.”
“Don’t apologize, Master. Why are Servants invited to this world but to fight each other ? However, to think that I already failed my first battle in this Heaven’s Feels, how disgraceful I am !”
“Even I, who was not present at that place, can understand the power of the greatest hero Hercules. You did your best to survive and returned to me. I’m truly happy.”
His eyes caught sight of a slight yet true smile on her lovely face. In admiration of the beauty of her rare smile, his heartbeats sped up; at the same time, the Irish hero’s heart ached as he detected the quite, enduring grief in those eyes of her.
Sakura went to the bathroom and brought out basin full of water and a clean towel. Lancer looked rather dumbfounded when Sakura dipped the towel into water.
“I used to think Servants are nothing but tools to serve Masters.”
“That’s common thought.” Lancer smiled bitterly. Somewhere in his soul lied the remnants of the hatred of being treated like a machine, being dispossessed of his pride as a knight, being coerced to do things his conscience never permit; yet he could not recall the specific memories. “There’s quite a number of Masters who treat their Servants like insensitive machines despite their feelings. As a result, they earn hatred from their Servants and are often killed after the three Command Seals are used up.”
“When you appeared, I was convinced otherwise. Servants, albeit they’re dead, are still humans, with human emotions. Therefore, they must be treated like human beings.”
As she spoke, the girl’s hand gently wiped away the dry blood that covered nearly half of his face, making it difficult to see his wound. Lancer grimaced at the sting when warm water touched his wound but still found Sakura’s tender care very welcome.
“Did it hurt ?”
“Not much.” Showing his weakness in front of his Master was the least thing Lancer wanted to do.
“You don’t have to do that. Healing my injuries is more than enough.”
“If I don’t clean the blood, I can’t see your wound. Isn’t that obvious ?”
With that simple answer, the knight let her finish her cleaning. It was simply blissful to be cared by the hands of the girl who has gradually become more than just his Master. Slowly but surely, Lancer realized the feelings he harbored toward Sakura had even surpassed his love toward his wife, Gráinne, in his mortal life. A beautiful and nice girl like Matou Sakura is someone that every men get attracted to at the very first sight; besides, her weak, fragile character makes her vulnerable and triggers men’s instinct to pity her, to protect her and most of all, to love her wholeheartedly to compensate for all of her sufferings. That was exactly how Lancer felt about Sakura.
“ I didn’t know… to have someone to care for… this sensation is rather…blissful.”
For someone so young to say something so sad, Lancer could not understand what had made this charming girl so melancholy.
“Those two… Are they really your family ? “
As soon as he saw the change in her expression, Lancer realized he had asked something he should not have.
“No, I was adopted.” Sakura shook her head, her long bang hung before her eyes like a curtain. The girl was trying hard to hide her eyes which were brimming with tears. That was enough to answer the knight’s question. He might not have known the truth of her life, yet he knew the life of an adopted child was not an easy one. There are parents who are kind and loving to their foster child like his father in his past life and there are parents who are otherwise.
“The most challenging part… is your broken arm.” Sakura’s tone was serious. To restore the broken bones and muscles, the amount of prana required was quite critical, even for a proper magus like Sakura, not to mention she had spent a large volume to heal his other wounds. To exceed her limit meant bringing danger to her own body; nothing could guarantee that she would not damage her Magic Circuits and collapsed right after the process was done. However, she could not allow him to battle with one crippled arm; it would greatly reduce his ability and increase his risk. Not being able to support him in battles, what she could only do was helping him regain his full health. Sakura put aside her fear of prana depletion, her body was already broken after all. Moreover, those worms would not let their host die, either.
“Hey, help me this time, ok ?” Sakura whispered to the worms inside her. Strange, it was her first time she thought of them with no nauseate or apprehension. Probably because she was more or less depending on their help.
It seemed like a flame was initiated inside her, scorching her internal organs. To begin with, her Magic Circuits were different from that of a normal magus, all thanks to Zouken’s work. It was merely a nest of those worms he had jammed into her body for years. Once she invoked them, the worms began feasting on her flesh and blood.
No matter how she tried to bit back her pain, her expression failed to lie to Lancer’s sharp eyes. Grasping her hand with his fine arm, the knight abruptly stopped the process.
“What’s wrong, Sakura-sama ?”
“Nothing. Let me continue !”
“Your face says differently.” He protested.
“It’s nothing. I’m fine !” Stubbornly she jerked off his hand and continued on her job. The more she hesitated, the more aches she had to endure.
A gust of wind sent chill down her spine as her body was dampened with sweats. Once it was done, the flame inside her started cooling off. Sakura was exhausted beyond her limit and collapse into her Servant’ arms, which had been rejuvenated.
“I’m a little tired, that’s all. Just need to rest. Can you stay with me ?” Under the dim light, Sakura looked sickly pale.
“I’ll stay and watch. Sleep well, Master.”
Allowing his sweet, alluring smile to lead her into slumber, Sakura closed her eyes.
A Servant’s body, although was constructed with flesh and bone, was unlike that of a human. Servants are simply souls, without the bodies created the prana provided by The Holy Grail, they are no thing more than ‘ghosts’. To maintain their existence in this world and to fight, they greatly depend on their Masters’ prana. That’s why their wounds cannot heal using normal methods. Once Servants are supplied with enough prana, no eating or sleeping is needed; their bodies are always ready to engage in battles. Thus, Lancer took advantage of it and enjoyed the view of a sleeping beauty beside him. In her sleep, Sakura’s face was innocent and angelic, a face free of any tears or grieves. The emotionless, doll-like mask she often wore on her face when confronting Zouken and Shinji was peeled off. If left Sakura vulnerable, defendless yet genuine and more human-like. At this moment, Lancer allowed himself to think of him as Diarmuid, the man, not the Heroic Spirit Lancer and Sakura was not his Master, but someone dearer.
A few strands of hair tangled on her face, Lancer brushed it aside only for his hand to be caught by delicate, hot fingers. Somehow, Sakura had awaken from her deep slumber and began to murmured something so soft that even his keen hearing could not make out.
Lowering himself so that he could hear her whisper, Lancer had made a terrible mistake. Sakura’s hands swiftly intertwined around his neck and with a surprising strength, the girl wrestled an off-guard man down the bed. If this were someone other than his Master, his Sakura, he would receive a death sentence by the knight. However, this was Sakura, how could he react violently ?
Lying awkwardly on the bed with the weight of his Master on top of him, even in his wildest dream, Lancer could not imagine this scenario. Worse came to worst, Sakura’s alluring gaze was eyeing him hungrily and lustfully, paying extreme attention to places where his skin was exposed : his neck, his shoulders, his arms. Her eyes were wide open but her irises were shaded, lacking their normal sane. As if she was sleep-talking, the girl’s hot breath tickled his ears.
“Lancer…Stay with me…”
“I’m here, Sakura-sama.” He replied, somewhat dubious.
Her hands gripped his collar tightly, keeping him in place. Laying beneath her and having himself examined by those eyes which were devoid of consciousness, the man felt helpless as a small prey in front of a starving predator, a predator that was not hungry for food.
Before her name was fully pronounced, Sakura had forcefully sealed his mouth with her own. This was not his first kiss as he had had lovers and wife in his past life, matters like this was familiar to him, but never in his life has he experienced such a fierce and suffocating kiss, a kiss that even with a Servant’s extraordinary abilities, he could hardly stand. As though Sakura was intended to such all the air out of his lung.
She broke the kiss and licked her lips, savouring the great delicacy of his lips, his mouth and his tongue, while her Servant was choking for air after a painful encounter. A devilish grin she had on her lips as if mocking him, Sakura abandoned his lips and traveled down to a more delicious place in her opinion : his neck. First, it was just her lips caressed his skin; when she found that kissing was not enough to satisfy her, she began to suck lightly until a dark bruise formed on his skin. At last, her teeth sank in his supple flesh, drawing his blood.
Pain woke him up from the entrancement she had planted on his mind. Lancer grabbed her slender shoulders, pushing her to a distance in which he could look into her clouded eyes.
“What’s happening to you, Sakura-sama ? You’re acting so strange.”
Much to his disappointment, Sakura did not reply. No matter how careful he read, the only thing he could extract from a look was an indescribable lust that a modest girl like Sakura should not have. Worse, the subject of her infatuation was none other than him, Heroic Spirit Diarmuid.
In his lifetime, he had encountered many looks that were similar to Sakura’s current one. He deeply understood the sole reason of these craving gazes, that was the love spot under his left eye. In his youth, Diarmuid once helped an old woman who turned out to be a goddess in disguise. In rewarding to his kindness, she had given him a love spot that made women love him at soon as they laid their eyes on his face. However, though this reward seemed very attractive to men, only Diarmuid knew how it had constantly troubled his life. In the end, it was one of the main causes that led him to his demise. To think that the same problem happened again in his second life, Lancer could not help but sign lengthily. But, how could it be ? He wondered. His charm was only effective to normal women, but a proper magus like Sakura should have been able to resist it. Yet, she was acting like her mind had already been mesmerized by the charm. Could it be her magic resistance system was weakened when she had spent a large amount of prana to fix him ?
Basically, he could not deny the heat that was gradually building up in his core and the fact that he, too, was very much enjoying the blissful sensation she penetrated on him with her soft, full lips. Despite, his sense of a loyal knight and his conscience of a well-educated man stung his heart like a needle, preventing him from taking advantage of his Master while she was not herself.
Lancer managed to sit up notwithstanding the weight of Sakura on his torso.
“You must stop ! It’s not right at all ! “
“What’s right, then ?”
“ What you’re doing is not right ! We’re Master and Servant. “
“Master and Servant are not forbidden to love. You want it too ? Why keep denying ?”
Sakura’s entire being was also emitting a comparable charm to his ‘Mystic Face’, a charm that could marvel a man’s heart and body; in this case, his heart and body; a magical force so powerful that it made his high magic resistance nothing but a joke.
“You’re blinded by my Mystic Face. Once recovering, you’ll definitely regret it.” The night rebuked weakly, some of his sense and morality had already perished.
“What if I won’t ?”
What could be more powerful than her captivation were the two remaining Command Seals etched on the back of her hand. Lancer swallowed hard when he witnessed the tattoos glimmering.
As another Command Seal vanished, his last protest and hesitance were brutally swept away. His whole being devoted to serve his Master’s need.
Unknown to Master and Servant, who had just ascended to a different level of relationship, their intimate scene was observed by pairs of despicable eyes.
End of ‘Noon (I)’
In the middle of ‘it’, somehow Lancer regained his sense and asked an awkward question.
Lancer : Sakura-sama, how old are you ?
Sakura : (still not herself due to you-know-why) 15,5, why asking ?
Lancer : (sweat drop) 18’s the legitimate age to do ‘it’ in this era, no ?
Sakura : Yes.
Lancer : Basically what we’re doing is neither moral nor legal ?
Sakura : Yes.
Lancer : If I were human, I would be in jail for doing ‘it’ with you, no ?
Sakura : Yes.
Lancer : Do you think we should stop ?
Sakura : No !