Chapter 4 : Noon (II)
The alarming clock rang with familiar tune, waking Sakura up from her sleep. Frowning, Sakura glanced at the clock. It was 5:30 AM and her school starts at 7:30 AM. Ten more minutes won’t hurt, thought the girl as she snuggled back into her blanket. Like an electric wave ran through her body, Sakura shuddered as she found she was not alone on the bed. Beside her lied another body, chest heaving rhythmically with every breath and back facing her. To make matter worse, that was a man’s body sleeping soundlessly on her bed, only covered by the thick blanket that they shared. Looking back, Sakura’s face lost its color since she realized she was not in better state than him. Clothes were discarded carelessly on the sheet and floor, hers only.
Her sleepiness had already been swept away thanks to the chain of bizarre incidents. Her memory of last night was very blurry. Zouken had told her to fix Lancer and she had done, even having to invoke the worms inside her body. After that, she felt extremely tired, prana depletion, probably. Her eyelids were heavy and all she wanted was a long, peaceful sleep, with her Servant by her side to protect her.
Why her clothes were not attached to her body ?
Why there is a man lying on her bed ?
What on earth has happened last night ?
Gathering her courage, Sakura took a glimpse at the man. Despite his back turning opposite to her face, Sakura could easily tell this was not Shinji. His broad shoulder, his toned muscles, his wavy dark hair, those were things that Shinji could never possess even in a million years. Wait, dark hair… Could it be ? Sakura exhaled a sign of relief , what her eyes caught was a sleeping face of her handsome Servant, his beauty spot under his left eye like a grain of tear. A smile on her lips as she enjoyed the innocent, child-like look on the face of the slumbering hero. It was unusual for a Servant to be sleeping like that, he must have been exhausted due to prana lacking and later, Sakura would have to make up for him.
“ I had… with Lancer ? “
Judging from the discarded clothes, the wrinkled sheet and two naked bodies together on the bed, it was undoubtedly a passionate night they had had with each other. Her face turned pink like a blooming cherry blossoms, still, she harbored no regrets of spending the night with the man to whom she had already got attracted. She could not tell whether it was love or not but from the very moment his eyes looking into hers, Sakura had felt a tiny bud of affection taking shape in her heart. Though it developed much faster than she had thought, Sakura only concerned about how they had gotten to this level. A thick mist surrounded her brain, preventing Sakura from recalling her vague memories. All she remembered was a sudden heat that rose from her core. Last night was the first time she had exceeded her limit and had to rely on the worms for prana support. And now was the result : Sakura felt freshly rejuvenated while her Servant was on her bed, sleeping and as bare as her. Plus, her Command Seals were reduced to just one left. It was quite clear to put all of them together. Sakura learnt from Zouken that when a Master was not capable of providing his Servant with enough prana, there was a way to compensate for the lack of magical energy, through sexual intercourse. To think that the flow of energy could be reversed, from Servant to Master, this was probably the strangest case in magi’s world.
Putting that matter aside, how would Sakura deal with Lancer once he woke up ? Apparently, driven by the worms’ craving or not, Sakura had gone so far as using a Command Seal to force Lancer to commit this shameful act. Would he loathe her, hate her ?
Lancer stirred and opened his eyes. Sakura gasped in embarrassment and pulled the blanket up to her shoulders, covering her bare chest. Not daring to look straight at him, she allowed her long bang to block her sight.
“Good morning, Sakura-sama.” The knight greeted her with a sleepy tone and weary smile. Deprivation of prana was not the cause of his fatigue since he was fully charged but rather the few hours he had spent sleeping on her bed. It has been a long time since the hero last slept, perhaps one or two thousands year, the delightful sensation he thought he had long forgotten now came back to him, too tempting to get himself out of the comfortable mattress underneath his back. There was another thing he had experienced last night. Recalling the burning passion between him and his Master, the luxurious curves of her body, the flawlessness of her skin, the rich fragrance of her flowing hair, Lancer could not believe they were all real. But they were, and the fact that he woke up to see Sakura by his side proved that.
Love was a tidal wave crushing his throbbing heart as his eyes traced the curve of her spine, the knight could not resist a sudden urge to envelope her body with his arms, holding her tightly in his embrace. Sakura made no protest to his bold act, still, she refused to face him, to talk to him. Awkward silence filled the space secluded in the narrow room, almost suffocating.
Mistaking her remorse with resentment, Lancer frowned and asked apologetically.
“Are you mad at me ? “
His query confused her since she was supposed to be asking that, not him. Her eyes were wide, anticipatively looking into his, waiting for an explanation.
“I apologize…for what happened last night. I… I took advantage of you.”
“What do you mean ?”
“You grew weakened by trying to heal all my wounds. Therefore, you were affected by my Mystic Face.” The knight confessed remorsefully.
The more she listened, the more bewildered she became. What was that ‘Mystic Face’ he was talking about ? She did not even know such thing ever existed.
“ I don’t get it. “
“I was given… cursed to be more precise, with a magic charm that makes women…”
“Makes women what ?”
“…makes women want me despite their true feelings. That’s what happened to you last night. I got carried away and…we had…. If you’re mad at me, please vent your anger on me. I deserve to be punished by any means.”
Normally, Lancer’s beauty shines brilliantly with the pride he keeps in his heart as a noble knight. Even when he was lowering his head in shame, his eyes avoiding her, his face turning slightly red, his attractiveness was not dull at all; rather, Sakura found his boyishness indeed lovely.
“ I wasn’t mad at you. Really !”
“Huh ?” It was his turn to be confused. “ Then why did you refuse to talk to me ?”
“I was afraid… that you would be mad at me.” She replied sheepishly.
“I coerced you into this disgraceful act. You should be angry, no ?”
“It was quite strange.” He admitted. “For a modest girl to act that way. But I never describe it as ‘disgraceful’. “
“You don’t think of me as ‘dirty’, ‘slutty’, do you ?“
“Absolutely no !” The knight firmly proclaimed and in a loving tone, he whispered into her ears. “I’m not some bastard who spills ill words to a woman who has just offered him her most precious gift. Not when that woman is also my Master. Moreover, I’m also the one to be blamed.”
“Lancer…” Profoundly touched by his sincerity, Sakura was rendered speechless. What she could not express with words, her action could declare in a much better way. Without reservation, her hands allowed the blanket to fall soundlessly to the mattress to cup his face and her lips met his gently. The knight was surprised at first but soon closed his eyes and surrendered to their mutual feelings. Compared to the fierce kiss they had shared before, this one was modest and absent of the previous burning desire; yet it was far more intimate as the Master and her Servant gave each other their hearts and their utmost trust. Through that kiss, the lovers had confirmed their unspoken love.
“I won’t regret what we did last night. Ever ! “ The girl whispered as she buried her face in his broad, warm chest, right at the place where his heart was beating with the same rhythms as hers. Just listening to his heart and inhaling the scent of his materialized body, Sakura’s being swelled with unmitigated happiness. “Thank you, for everything.”
“It’s kind of waste, you know. To lose one Command Seal to take us to this stage.” He said amusingly.
“Yes, it’s a waste. Guess I’m little impatient.” Sakura responded to his joke, secret moaning her inability to recall anything thing throughout the process.”
“I heard from Zouken, once all Command Seals are used up, the contract between Servant and Master is annulled. Will you leave me then ?”
“Command Seals are device to bind a Servant. You don’t any of that to bind me since I’m yours already. I will never betray my oath and my feelings for you.”
“I trust you.”
“I trust you”- Three simple words that could be easily spoken by anyone. However, to be able to speak those lucid words, a person must completely understand and put total faith in another, which is much more complicated said than done. For someone whose life is nothing but a lie, it is a miracle greater than that of the Grail for her to speak those words.
When Sakura dressed fully in her uniform, she wore back the mask of an enduring doll girl, sealing away all her emotions and smiles to show to Lancer only.
“Good morning, grandfather, nii-san.” Sakura bowed to the others Matous with her head held humbly low, a type greeting between servants and masters, not family members. In response, Zouken remained as still as a rock while Shinji merely threw a glance at her.
“I have healed all Lancer’s injuries. “
Zouken made a low noise, neither approved nor disapproved. Shiji gave her a meaningful smirk as if he had known something about the incident last night. Hardening her composure, Sakura ignored an uneasy feeling in her stomach.
“I’m going to school.”
While passing through the door, Sakura exchanged one look with Lancer. One glimpse of his face was enough to warm up her heart. No matter what would happen, he was always by her side. Sakura had his words for that.
“Interesting. Huhm. “
In the darkness as thick as blood rose a voice that was devoid of any human’s senses. Accompanying with that ghostly voice was thousands of chitters. Those noises that resembled bone chewing sound could freak out any normal people were to hear them; to the speaker, they were more appealing than most symphonies. The wicked voice belonged to none other than Matou Zouken, the 200-year-old vampire of the Matous.
Behind Zouken silently stood an oddly tall figure, clad in robe as black as night. Under the faint light of a dying candle, his face, if that was really a ‘he’, could be dimly seen. No, it should not be called a face, more like a mask, a skull mask so contradictorily white to the robe. His appearance was of the most mysterious and fearsome class out of seven : Servant Assassin. This Servant was under Zouken’s command.
If Zouken has already have a Servant on his own, why did he make Sakura summon another one ?
Zouken’s Assassin was not summoned due to the invitation of the Holy Grail since another ‘Assassin’ had been previously called in this 5th Heaven’s Feels. Two Servants of the same class are not supposed to appear in a Holy Grail war, that is the rule agreed by the ‘Three Families’ in which the Matous was. Despite, Zouken had managed to succeed in summoning the strongest of assassins, True Assassin, using the flesh of the Servant invited by the Holy Grail as catalyst. The rule was bended, however, the first and the most important requirement to participate in this war is to have a Servant who answers the beckoning of the Grail. Plus, Servant Assassins who excel in the art of spying and killing can only play the role of supporting and gathering intelligence. In frontal combats, an Assassin cannot stand against Servants of the three ‘knight’ classes. In order to ensure victory, Zouken made Sakura summon Lancer.
Why are Assassins fearsome when they are apparently weaker than other Servants ? It is because this class is given a unique skill that allows Assassins to cancel their prana to nearly zero to easily lurk behind others’ backs and slay the enemy Masters. That skill is ‘Presence Concealment’, which True Assassin had used to report the incident between Sakura and Lancer to Zouken, using his eyes as a camera. Now, sitting in the dark basement, his lair, Zouken was examining her strange reactions. The old man was really pleased with his conclusion.
“The worms have reached this stage, to be able to influence her mind and body. It seems my fruit is about to be harvested.
If she has to keep depending on the worms for prana support, sooner or later she will succumb to the evil seeds I planted in her. “
Thus, Matou Zouken encouraged his grandson to order Lancer to challenge other Servants. Under limited condition, the knight had to expand his skills and abilities to be able to return to Sakura.
“You aren’t fighting with your full potential, are you ?” While healing her Servant’s wounds, Sakura raised a question. Challenging other Servants, including the mighty Hercules, without any tactics or Master’s magical support, it was a lethal drawback to a Servant, did Shinji even know that ? Or did he do that to let Sakura waste her prana, to make her suffer the torture of the worms ? To think about it, it did not make any senses at all.
“What makes you think so ?”
“Only with my true Master, the one whom I made the contract with, can I unleash my full potential. That brat can only command me with the power of the Command Spell. My constant resistance to his orders hinders my abilities to a fatal extent.”
“Uhm… Don’t you think…” As if afraid of offending her knight, Sakura took an awkward pause before she finished her sentence. “…don’t you think it’s better…if you don’t resist ?”
As expected, his eyebrows furrowed deeply in a frown.
“I-I’m sorry if I said something wrong !”
A bitter smile hung on the corner of his lips, the knight gently caressed Sakura like a understanding big brother to his little sister. Considering the gap in their ages, Lancer is old enough to be her father, let alone her brother.
“It can’t be blamed. Sakura-sama, you don’t understand a knight’s heart, do you ? To us knights, what should be prioritized is not our lives but rather our pride, our honor.”
“I understand. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s true that I can’t disobey his orders but if I give up without a fight, my pride will be stained with utmost shame.”
“I’m sorry- She said ruefully-for putting you under such a heartless command.”
“You have apologized too many times.”
“But…” Her lips muttered but only one word came out, the girl’s big eyes had already swelled up with tears.
“It’s not your fault.”
In order to console his lover, the knight held her in his arms, all the while sealing her parted mouth with his own. Being an experienced man, Lancer knew the best and most primitive way to soothe a woman’s trembling heart was for pleasure to wash away whatever was bothering her.
It worked everytime. Sakura’s tears swiftly dried up and she eagerly responded to his passion. Since it was not their first time, there was no embarrassment or restraint, only pure desire heated up their cores.
His hand started roaming her breasts which were eventually revealed as Sakura unbuttoned her thin blouse. Both of them knew what would come next; they had adapted to this gratifying way of replenishing the magical energy they had lost.
“Don’t you think we should have your other arm fixed first ?” Through half-lidded eyes Sakura asked.
“I can’t wait to get my reward. After all, tonight I killed Rider.”
“Does it hurt so much ?”
“Yes, it does. I seriously need painkiller, is that kind of medicine people in this era use to relieve pain ?” Grinning mischievously, the knight placed a soft kiss on her collar bone.
“The best way to kill the pain is to let me finish my job.” Though it seemed like scolding, Sakura did not wholeheartedly want him to stop.
“It can wait; however, I can’t.”
Before the pair had the chance to dive deeper into their passion, the door was pushed open rudely and there came a voice neither Sakura nor her Servant welcomed.
“Oops, I came at the wrong time, didn’t I ?”
“Nii-san ! Grandfather said you should not come into my room.” Despite her bold declaration, her face turned purple due to her anger and embarrassment. Sakura quickly buttoned her blouse to keep her pearly white skin from Shinji’s horny stare.
“Shut up ! It’s useless to threaten me with grandpa. “ Shifting his gaze to Lancer, who had instinctively shielded Sakura behind his back. “Ho ? You little slut don’t want me here so you can fuck your Servant ?”
“Enough of your filthy mouth !” In spite of his wounded arm which had not been healed, Lancer summoned his lances.
“Stay still, Lancer !”
As soon as the words came out his mouth, the Command Spell took effect instantaneously; Lancer’s limbs were stiff as if they were frozen.
“I’m not making the same mistake. “
“Bastard !” Lancer ground his teeth, his struggles against the Command Spell was in vain.
“Still cursing ? You’re really protective towards that little slut. You think she’s loyal to you ? To truly love you ? As a fellow man, let me tell you a secret…”
“Nii-san, please stop !” Shouted in panic, Sakura’s face turned as white as a paper sheet. Knowing Shinji too well, she could effortlessly guess what ‘secret’ he was going to tell Lancer. Please don’t tell Lancer ! If Lancer knows how filthy I am, he will hate me, leave me. I won’t be cared by him any more.
“Please don’t…” Sakura bursted out in tears. “I’ll do anything you want.”
“Why suddenly become so obedient ?”
“What’s wrong Sakura-sama ?”
“Really ? Anything I want ?”
Ignoring Lancer’s beckoning, Sakura painfully nodded.
“That’s more like my dear sister. There’s no more business for you here, dog, go out and guard the door !”
Unable to control your very own body, that is the mercilessness of being a Servant. No matter how he wished for his spear to pierce through that disgusting face, all he could do was compliantly walking out of the room. One last glance at his Master’s face, the knight secretly hoped Sakura was brave enough to break his chain but much to his disappointment, she remained silent. When the door behind him closed, a face wet with helpless tears was her reply to him.
Hours later and the dawn was near.
Four hours. For four hours, Lancer’s heart was constantly in a furnace, so was his arm. Right now, worrying about his injury was the least thing he had in mind, what bothered him was Sakura’s safety, which depended entirely on Shinji’s mercy, something he doubted was ever existed in that bastard’s vocabulary. For four hours, what his extraordinary hearing ability of a Servant caught was the sound of furniture being destroyed and Shinji’s maniac laughters, Sakura was as mute as death. Had she cried, yelled or groaned, his heart would have been stabbed by hundreds stakes, yet his mind would have been a little at ease. As long as she could scream, could cry, Lancer could tell she was not yet in danger. However, her silence sunk his heart in terror. The sacred cord binding him and Sakura was beckoning him with terrible heat with every passing minute and the Command Spell rendered him powerless to change the situation. His body was agonizingly tormented between two forces.
“You can come in. Your Master really needs your care.”
Passing the impatiently waiting Lancer, Shinji was satisfactorily humming.
“Tell you something, I hate it when my stuff is touched by another hand. I’d rather break it than share it.”
A shackle was lifted off his shoulders, Lancer rushed to her room. Although he was not in the mood to think about Shinji’s murmurs, what he was about to see behind the door would make he believe Hell does exist on Earth.
The room was messy, furniture were damaged; shards of broken mirror, cups and many other fragile things scattered on the floor; clothes were torn and discarded. Trembling weakly on the ground was his Master Sakura, her naked body, covered in countless bruises and cuts, was exposed in front of his very eyes. Her blood tainted the wall and floor, her eyes were hollow as if she was a soulless corpse.
“Sakura ! Sakura-sama !”
Only his connection between Lancer and Sakura told him that she was still alive. Pain stabbed his heart and fury filled his veins. The scene he witnessed was too much for a sentimental knight who values goodness and love like him to endure. Casting aside his pride, his honor, everything, all Diarmuid wanted to was to gorge out the heart inside that body to see what color it was. This was not human’s doing, this was the work of devils. Worst, it was his Master, his beloved woman who fell victimized to this evilness.
Carrying her to the bed, covering her nudity, the knight held her in his embrace, trying to nurse her back to her senses. His tears shed in place of her dry orbits.
“Don’t touch me !” So faint her voice was that even his keen hearing could not make out.
“Don’t touch me ! Your hands will get dirty !”
“What are you talking about ? I never think about you that way.”
To be put in this state, Sakura’s mind was not sane anymore. Through a veil of blood and tears, she yelled and pound at him like a crazy beast.
“He lied to me. He let you know. Now you know how dirty I am, you will feel disgust, will loathe me…”
Despite her wailing and hitting, Lancer did not let go of her. Despite his wound which was bleeding due to her punches, his arms gently tightened around her dedicate frame. Such simple yet caring act solemnly spoke out his determined love.
No matter what you are or how you may become, you remain my Master, my Sakura forever.
Just like the very first time he had held her, Sakura once again experienced the warmth that shielded her from the cold, savage winds outside. Because of those arms that she began to calm down, because of those arms that she could feel safe. Her wails turned to sobs as she noticed the tepid stickiness on her hand was his blood.
Slowly and carefully, he cleaned her body with a piece of cloth. Cleaning all the traces that Shinji had left on her.
“How long has he been doing this to you ?”
“Since he realized Zouken had chosen me to receive the Crest of the Matous, not him, who is originally the first born son. The more I cry or scream, the harder he will beat me to satisfy his sadism. So I stay mute until he loses his interest in me.”
She replied so blankly as if she was telling someone else ‘s story. There was nothing to hide from this man anymore. Her darkest past had been exposed and he had generously accepted it, that was enough. It was not an exaggeration that even if she had to die right now, she would have no regrets beside the short period she had spent with him.
“That Zouken… he allows Shinji ?”
“Not just ‘allow’, even ‘encourage’. “ Sakura’s tone was full of hatred. “More than Shinji, he enjoys watching me suffer.”
Grudge was mutually felt in his heart. His grip on the soft cloth was so tight it was like he was strangling that man’s neck.
“You haven’t thought about running away ?”
“I once thought about it and even tried it. But Zouken caught me and the punishment was unimaginable. Then, I could do nothing but giving up everything to become their puppet, do anything they order so I receive the least punishment.”
“No one tried to help you ?”
“No one will believe me. Zouken and Shinji have their way to make me look like I’m living in a happy family.”
“Say no more, Sakura-sama !”Grasping her hands in his, the knight looked straight into her eyes; inside his golden irises, his fighting sprit soared, fueled by his sense of justice and his share of hatred with her. “Annul the first Command Spell. You won’t need a Command Seal to order me, I will claim the heads of those that have been tormenting you and offer them to you. Together, we will pursuit the Holy Grail.”
In contrast with his spirit, the girl who had been through countless agonies only lowered her head.
“I can’t kill them. Never.”
“Why ?” Cutting off her sentence, the knight showed his anger of her weakness and hesitance for the first time.
“This is why.”
Sakura stretched out her left arm which was as smooth as the finest savory. Compared to her Venus-like body, this arm was just a small part to complete the beautiful sculpture. The strange thing was on that smooth surface an hour ago, there had been a cut about ten centimeters. Fixated on her skin, the look on his face was that of confusion.
“I don’t understand. Have you cast a healing spell ?”
“No, I haven’t.” In a tone that could not be any calmer, the girl explained. “My body heals itself. It is their work, to be exact.”
“Inside this body, there are hundreds worms. Crest worm is their name. I was originally a member of Tosaka family before the Matous took me. Zouken said I was a gifted child but my body was designed to best function with Tosaka magecraft; in order to fit in with Matou magecraft, he had to ‘fix’ me. By fixing, he jammed those worms into my body. For ten years, they have completely washed away my Tosaka traces and taken my body as their nest. Since Zouken is their master, there’s no way I can escape his palm.”
Lancer remembered very clearly the moment he had defeated the last of seven hundred soldiers and stood in a pool of blood; how revolting the thick smell of blood and innards had been. However, the hellish scene was still inferior to what Sakura was telling. Just how broken his lover was ?
“That night, when I tried to mend your wounds, I was in short of prana and more or less, called for their help. That resulted in the strange behavior later; it was their craving for prana that clouded my mind. But believe, my feelings for you are genuine.”
“That’s enough Sakura-sama. As long as I remain in this world, you won’t be alone anymore. “
The knight sealed his oath with a tender kiss on her lips. Apparently, albeit being the passive, Sakura did not even show a slightest sign of irritation. As their hearts were dancing to the same beats, their bodies responded to each other’s need, Sakura allowed her mind to momentarily forget about her tragic life.
In front of the boy she used to have a crush on, Sakura is just a little sister whom he can hardly harbor any special feelings. In front of Zouken and Shinji, she is just a mere toy they play and discard at will. Only in front of this man, who is not a human from the beginning, can Sakura feel that she is a human, a woman who loves and is loved.
With Sakura slept peacefully by his side, her chest heaving with every breath, a picture so beautiful, the spearman’s heart ached with the thought of how to free this poor girl from devil’s hand.
End of ‘Noon(II)’