She examined the earrings. They were dull silver, having lost what was once a fine shine through the ages. They were each composed of two parts. The first was a slightly conical downward pointing bead. The second was another closely hanging bead of about two inches in length, formed in a long oval. It was a curious piece of history, based on what her mother had told her.
Apparently one of her ancestors was more willing to leave Japan than the rest of the family was. He had chased a rather difficult demon all the way to Ireland, where he received the help of a rather interesting spearman. After what was said to be a particularly intense battle, the spearman gave the ancestor this set of earrings as a token of his appreciation for the deed.
And they wound up in a drawer where Misuzu Kusakabe found them just minutes ago. The story would normally seem unbelievable to a regular high school student, but to an onmyoji of her family, such stories were not only common place, but true.
She was now examining them in her room, inside her mother's villa, on the outskirts of Fuyuki City. She was not from this city, and sighed as she took a moment to reminisce on past events. She had arrived only a few short years ago after her family chased her out of her home as they sought revenge for her… impudence, they might say.
Her father had shunned her. He had wanted a strong and powerful son to lead the family through the next generation. Instead, he received a frail seeming daughter who he disregarded in every way. Never before had the Kusakabe clan only had a woman in line to lead the family, and they were not keen to change tradition and allow such a thing.
In order to gain the respect of her father and the family, she had set out to gather the five treasured swords of her family. She battled the wielders of the first four and won fairly. The fifth sword was her fathers. At the end of the battle, she had struck him in rage and left him unable to wield a blade any longer. She was declared the victor and collected the last blade, Doujigiri Yasutsuna for her own. She thought this would mean that the family would accept her, but she was mistaken.
The family highly respected her father, and instead of accepting her strength, they sought to kill her to avenge their defeated leader. Her mother, Kotoko, quickly realized this would happen, and before things became too out of hand, fled with her daughter to the safety of the villa they now resided in. Here, they led a normal life, away from the threat of her family, who had ceased their pursuit of her.
Misuzu once again turned the earrings on her palm. How had they wound up in that drawer? Her mother said she remembered seeing them as a child, so at some point they were brought to this house. They were likely tossed in the drawer by someone with a little respect for a dead warrior's gift; a gift with very little seeable value.
She pocketed the earrings for now. She would find a more suitable place for them later, perhaps in the small display case in the study. For now she wandered into the library, hoping to find a more detailed account of the story her mother had told. The library was more of an archive, really. It was a place to store the accumulated knowledge of her family. The one in her home village was much larger, but this one was still sizeable.
She settled on 'earing' for a keyword to search for. She began searching through the hundreds of dusty old tomes. It took hours for her to find anything, and it was late evening when she finally did. It was a relatively newer book, likely less than 100 years old, unlike many of the volumes found on the shelves. She brushed off a thick layer of dust, making the air fill with the filth and causing her to cough. She flipped through the yellowing pages with increasing interest.
The book was written by Misao Kusakabe, another woman in her family who was forced into exile. She had tampered in western magic, something that was strictly forbidden by her family. Exiled or not, Misuzu admired Misao. She was a strong woman who followed her own path, and was the inspiration for Misuzu to dabble in some small magic herself. Misuzu had thought all texts from the woman had been destroyed, but apparently one was missed.
The text didn't give her any details on the earrings, but it did mention an interesting use for them. Apparently in Misao's search for magic, she stumbled across an interesting event in this very city, something called the Holy Grail War. She had managed to wring some details out of someone who had participated, and transcribed what she had learned into the text. It seemed like if one were interested in doing so, all the information needed to participate in this 'war' was in this book.
The book said she would need some sort of catalyst however. The description for one was simple enough. It had to be an item with a direct link to a hero of the past, so as to guide the spell towards a target. The target person would them be summoned as a familiar and partner for the participant. She had something that may work for a catalyst in her pocket at that very moment.
This was all an interesting idea, but she learned that she wouldn't be able to participate, at least not now. The grail war happened approximately every 60 years, and it seems that Misuzu came either a decade too late, or five decades to early. She would have to either skip out completely or wait a whole 50 years until the next round. With a sigh of defeat she stood up from her chair, glancing at the clock, only to realize it was well past 10 o'clock.
"I wonder if mother made dinner", she thought aloud. Her mother wasn't a particularly excellent cook, but she tried, and her meals were certainly never bad.
Misuzu wandered into the kitchen area to find a pot of miso soup still simmering, filling the kitchen with its mild scent and bringing a small smile to Misuzu's face. Her mother had done well, and even added some fish into the mix. Kotoko was always thinking of her since they ran. Misuzu filled a bowl with soup and found her mother sleeping in a chair in the sitting room. She decided not to wake her and ate her meal in silence.
"I could change so much if I won the Holy Grail War." She continued to eat in silence, musing over what she would do with one single wish. It had been a while since she had last eaten, and she went for a second bowl.
She turned off the stove to avoid burning the house down, and as she reached for the ladle she suddenly felt a burning sensation on her right hand. The sensation seared up her arm and she fell to her knees in surprised pain, dropping her bowl on ground in the process, causing it to shatter.
Kotoko called from the sitting room, "Misuzu? Was that you? Are you alright?"
Misuzu gazed at her hand in shock. Instead of her usual pale skin, there was an odd red symbol. "Yes mother, I'm fine! I burned myself on the stove slightly, that's all."
"Alright, please clean up the mess."
Misuzu hurriedly cleaned the bowl bits and practically ran back to the library. She quickly flipped through the pages of the book on the Grail War. She found what she was looking for.