Chapter 1019: First Step

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Three days after his arrival in Fuyuki, Vahn’s situation had changed greatly compared to when he had been unceremoniously dropped into the world by Akasha. Though the lack of a proper identification was quickly becoming a problem, Vahn at least managed to get a small apartment in one of the shadier sections of the City, located just on the outskirts of the fish markets. His ‘illegal’ fishing had caught more attention than he would have liked but it had been surprisingly easy to secure a temporary residence after selling his catch to a middle-aged businessman named Kinoba Fujitora. He was a relatively affluent businessman who leased out a few of the larger fishing vessels, making him one of the central figures within the region when it came to the acquisition and distribution of rarer fish. Unsurprisingly, he also dabbled in the Black Market and even had a few Enforcers staffed within the region who were rumored to be Yakuza, the most notorious gang within the region.

Because he had decided to sell one of the rarer and more expensive types of fish, Vahn quickly caught the attention of one of Fujitora’s Enforcers. After easily dealing with the scarred man and his cronies, who had tried to claim his fish for themselves without forking over a single Yen, Vahn had been approached by Fujitora directly. Though he had arrived with the apparent intent to seek trouble, it didn’t take long at all for Fujitora’s disposition to change into a more amicable and ‘reasonable’ one. This was due to the natural ‘aura’ that Vahn emanated, something he only observed when dealing with clients who wielded extreme authority, often over thousands of lives. Since Vahn was also extremely fit and handsome, he assumed the latter was the son of a wealthy family who was just dabbling in ‘playing commoner’. With Vahn’s eyes constantly wandering around, combined with his apparent lack of common sense, it wasn’t difficult to make this assumption…

Thinking he could curry some favor with the unknown foreigner, Fujitora had quickly helped Vahn arrange a place to stay and even assigned a few people to ‘take care’ of him. Vahn wasn’t particularly fond of having people lingering around to observe his movements but, after making sure there were no cameras and audio devices within his room, he stopped minding it. He had a few million Yen within his Inventory and had been able to gain access to a computer so it wouldn’t be long before he left Fujitora’s influence and moved on to bigger and better things…

On the topic of computers, Vahn was genuinely shocked to learn of the existence of the ‘internet’ as, even compared to the planes flying through the sky, it was an unbelievably advanced technology. The fact that the entire world was interconnected through a series of wired and wireless networks had come as a great shock to him, especially since statistics purported that nearly three billion people proactively used the network on a daily basis. With such a vast number of people feeding information into the internet, the amount of information Sis had access to gave Vahn a feeling as if he had gained borderline omniscience within the Record. Not only was he able to gain basic information about Fuyuki and the surrounding regions, he was able to learn a vast amount of information regarding the Political climate and the various powerful families within, not just Japan, but the entire world…

There didn’t seem to be any real ‘limit’ to what he could find through the internet as, even without having to sit at a computer himself, Sis was able to scour the vast network and compile information on his behalf. Though this required Vahn to literally plug an ethernet cable into his own body, after creating an access port for it, Sis had gone to town as she endeavored to ‘literally’ download all of the internets information into the deepest recesses of his mind. She had to filter out quite a lot of unnecessary information, accounting for nearly 98% of everything recorded, but that 2% was still the cumulative knowledge and wisdom of billions of people. Since she also gained access to private networks that were connected to the larger worldwide web, Vahn even had access to a great deal of information that was not meant for public consumption.

The only real restriction Sis had when it came to the internet was that she could only ‘collect’ information, not modify or interfere with it. If the security was advanced enough, she wasn’t able to gain access to the network and, in order to directly carry out her intentions, Vahn was required to act as her hands and eyes. Fortunately, the system interface he had become intimately familiar with also served as a user interface that Vahn was able to navigate with thought alone. Under Sis’ guidance, it only took him ten hours to gain access to the Japanese Census Bureau, fabricating a birth certificate and establishing an identity for himself. Though it wouldn’t take much effort for anyone performing an investigation to conclude that his identity was faked, as there were more than a century of paper records filed away in warehouses Vahn didn’t have access to, the odds anyone would investigate him to that extent were slim.

By the time everything was taken care of, Vahn had the identity of a second-generation migrant who had been orphaned after both of his parents died in a car accident. As for other records, such as dental, medical, insurance, taxes, and educational, Vahn completely ignored the first three, as it wasn’t that uncommon for some adults his age to simply lack insurance, while the tax and educational records had been important for validating his identity. Though Vahn hadn’t officially filed taxes, meaning he would have to get audited if he wanted to ‘solidify’ his identity, it was important for him to at least exist within the system. As for his educational records, they seemed to be surprisingly important within Japan so Sis had guided him through the process of creating an education profile that stretched all the way from kindergarten to High School. Though any of his presumed classmates could easily expose the truth of the matter, Vahn wasn’t particularly worried about it since the odds of him ever meeting anyone from his ‘hometown’, a small fishing town called Ine.

With his new identity, Vahn was able to feel more confident about his future actions, even though it resulted in Fujitora coming to his residence on the fifth day and ‘kicking’ him out. After finding the identity Vahn had fabricated, the man no longer tried to pander to him but, after Vahn easily dealt with the toughs he had brought along to intimidate him, the chubby businessman made no further attempts to stop him from leaving. As for why Vahn didn’t deal with the man himself, his new understanding of the world all included an awareness of the local and provincial laws. He knew the methods he relied on in his previous world when dealing with criminals wouldn’t exactly fly in a more modern setting, as he would quickly be labeled a criminal and murderer himself. Though he could always join, or even create a criminal organization, Vahn didn’t consider himself a bad person so he wanted to avoid being publically, or internationally, labeled as one…

Leaving the temporary residence that had been provided to him, amidst the groans of pain from more than twenty men, Vahn headed into the downtown district of Fuyuki City once again. Since he wanted to avoid drawing attention to himself in the middle of the day, Vahn used the local train for the first time and, even though it was a bit slow compared to his own standards, Vahn felt it was surprisingly efficient. Not only had the train arrived almost exactly at the posted time, it also departed after idling for a mere two minutes. Though it felt a little suffocating to be packed into a small car with nearly a hundred other people, Vahn noticed that the majority kept to themselves while very few people even bothered to make sounds. Those who did were usually the younger members of society, resulting in them getting the stink eye from the surroundings…

After reaching his destination, Vahn moved with the crowd this time, deciding to view the City from the same perspective as a resident in order to gain his bearings. His minimap had been partially completed during his first exploration of the City but it helped to see things up close for the sake of clarity. Vahn’s domain still missed out on the finer details of things unless he guided his ‘intent’ to inspect things more closely. Though he could sense the presence of individual blades of grass within a field, it didn’t mean he automatically knew how many there were, or if areas of the grass were damaged and rotting. Since Fuyuki, and Japan in general, seemed to rely heavily on auditory and visual stimuli to communicate meaning, Vahn decided it was best to practice walking around the City so he wouldn’t stand out as easily in the future.

Not even ten minutes into his exploration of the City, Vahn had started to regret his decision as he still garnered a lot of attention from his surroundings. Men would give him annoyed looks in passing while women would give way to him before pulling out their phones and snapping pictures in ‘secret’. Whenever Vahn would politely greet them, they would act startled and confused before giving a too-polite response, often followed by them quickly leaving the area. Even women that were near the same age as his current appearance would act nervously around him before awkwardly following his back with their gazes. Vahn was beginning to feel as if he was an exotic animal that had been put on display, especially when a smart-looking woman with round glasses approached him with a business card before excitedly declaring, “You’re an extremely handsome man! Have you ever thought about becoming an Idol and getting into advertising? My company had been looking for a new Ace to represent foreign products and I think you would be able to do well in the industry!”

With the woman presenting her company’s business card with both hands, politely bowing in the process, Vahn almost grabbed it on instinct before changing the motion at the last moment to hold up his hand and declare, “I’m flattered, but I have no intention of becoming an Idol. Thank you for the offer but I must be on my way…” After politely refusing, Vahn attempted to walk around the woman but she immediately moved to block his intended path as she flusteredly stated, “Wait, wait, wait, hear me out, please! With your looks, you could easily become a legendary figure within the Industry. Even movie deals may not be off the table so please consider my offer. You could be Fuyuki’s, no, all of Japan’s Rising Star~!” Even though Vahn wasn’t Japanese, the woman had actually forgotten to breath for a few seconds when she first caught sight of him. Even if he lacked the ‘star power’ she purported he had, it wouldn’t take any effort at all to market him based on looks and disposition alone.

Though Vahn liked to consider himself a patient person, he had been ‘trained’ by Loki, Riveria, and Fortuna to never show leniency towards any party that attempted to pressure him. In an instant, Vahn’s amicable ‘aura’ seemed to vanish before an oppressive atmosphere naturally radiated from his body. His expression hadn’t changed at all but, from the perspective of observers, his eyes seemed sharper and borderline ‘cold’ as he looked down at the woman and plainly stated, “I have no interest in becoming an Idol…” This time, when Vahn walked around her, the woman made no effort to stop him and, instead, quickly moved aside before nearly falling to the ground when her legs gave out. A middle-aged man in a business suit caught her by the arm before helping her find her footing but, by the time she looked towards where Vahn had been walking, he was no longer anywhere to be seen.

Finding himself atop a building once again, Vahn was lightly tapping a signboard as he considered changing his appearance to better match his surroundings. He was trying to lay low, at least for the time being, so there were few advantages to walking around with his default appearance. However, the idea of ‘hiding’ himself in such a way caused Vahn to frown slightly as part of him had come to ‘expect’ attention. The thing was, compared to the power and authority he possessed in Danmachi, Vahn was an external variable within the Nasuverse who, for the time being, had neither. This caused something inside of him to stir, likely related to his Qinglong form and sense of identity, as Vahn knew he was one of the more powerful figures within the world. Allowing himself to be bound by the normal restrictions imposed upon this docile society, especially when there was a larger hidden world he hadn’t even seen yet, made Vahn feel as if he was walking further from his goal of reuniting with his family…

Reaching this conclusion, Vahn’s eyes reflected the City of Fuyuki as he extended his hand outward, almost as if he could grasp the entire City in his palm. Then, with a solemn and determined voice, Vahn muttered, “There is no need to adapt to a world I have no intention of staying in…why should I be afraid of being exposed when there is literally nothing my enemies can use to threaten me…?” Right now, Vahn didn’t even have Fenrir and Medusa at his side so, regardless of any setbacks he personally faced, it ultimately didn’t matter. Even if he faced an enemy that had the means to kill his immortal body, which seemed to be an actual possibility within this world, it only meant he would be forced out of the Record. If he wanted to, Vahn could even enter another version of the Nasuverse, an infinite number of times if necessary…

With that thought in mind, Vahn slowly closed his hand as his eyes turned towards one of the areas he had been proactively avoiding since arriving in the world. During his preliminary mapping of the City, Vahn had tried to avoid areas where the mana density was slightly higher than normal. There were a few locations that were interspaced throughout the City where barriers and other ‘abnormal’ phenomena could be observed. He had originally concealed his presence, keeping away from these locations, but now Vahn was considering proactively exposing himself. Though it might render the efforts he had put into making an identity pointless, Vahn knew the only way to truly begin his rise to power was to understand exactly what power meant in the context of the Record. The internet hadn’t provided him with any real information in regards to Magecraft, making it clear that it was a highly guarded secret that the people in power didn’t want to expose…

Vahn initially couldn’t understand why entities with higher Soul Tiers would even bother to hide themselves away but, considering there were things like nuclear warheads and advanced weapons platforms in space, things he could hardly wrap his head around, it seemed to make a bit of sense. There were obviously forces at play he was simply unaware of as well, meaning he would need to experience them directly if he wanted to learn the truth. It was only by seeking the truth that he would be able to increase his own comprehension and, by virtue, his Tier. Stalling any longer would only increase the feeling of loneliness that had been plaguing his heart so Vahn affirmed his resolve as he leaped from the building and made a beeline towards a residence that stood out from the surroundings. While most buildings within the City were tightly packed together, there were a few regions near the periphery of the City where the wealthy, affluent, and traditional families lived.

The building Vahn found himself outside of stood out, even amongst the other large Manors and Mansions in the surroundings. Instead of looking like a traditional Japanese Manor, it was a large Western-Style Manor with three stories set beneath an angular tiled roof. There was even a tower-like structure built into it while, below the ground, Vahn could roughly make out that there were two subterranean levels. It was hard to be certain, however, as there were several magical formations that made it hard for him to get a clear read on the Manor’s internal structure. Though he could still peer into the interior with his domain, it was almost as if the inside was ‘shifting’ around, obscuring his perception and making it difficult to determine if what his senses were picking up was real…

Vahn was beginning to miss his ability to transform into his Qinglong form as, with his current reserves, he couldn’t easily send his ‘intent’ into the Manor’s interior without being rewarded a powerful headache for his efforts. Though his Innates hadn’t been weakened upon entry into the Record, Vahn simply lacked the reserves to power them at the moment. This didn’t mean he was without options, however, as Vahn’s eyes passed over a list of items within the system shop before he pulled out a literal [Mana Crystal]. Focusing his mind, Vahn’s skin tone began to slowly change as the outline of scales began to appear on his exposed forearms. From his head, accompanied by an incredibly itchy feeling, golden antler-like horns began to reveal themselves as he sent his intent forward to confirm his suspicions…

Regardless of how complex the magical formations were, Vahn’s ‘intent’ was able to move without being restricted by things like distance. He didn’t actually move it ‘through’ things, as it was more accurate to decribe the method in which his intent moved around as ‘shifting’ between points. As a result, Vahn bypassed the formations completely as he began to inspect the Manor’s interior. He quickly identified several rather dated pieces of furniture while many of the books present within looked to be hundreds of years old. All of this was preserved with a unique spell formula that Vahn had never seen before, giving the interior of the Manor an aged, yet regal feel. It was obvious that the Manor’s residents were of a more ‘Noble’ disposition, causing Vahn’s brow to furrow slightly as he had never been fond of most Nobles…

After looking around the upper floors, Vahn was surprised to find that the Manor seemed to be completely bereft of serving staff. He half-expected to find a few Maids or Butlers within but, after looking through all three floors, there wasn’t a soul in sight. Vahn next passed through the far more advanced barriers that had been blocking his perception of the Manor’s underground before finding the first actual resident. Almost as soon as the woman came into his view, her head snapped around and as she held up a purple amethyst as she shouted, “Who is it!?” in a voice Vahn couldn’t hear. He was, fortunately, able to read her lips, even if it hadn’t been necessary to know what she had said to know he had been exposed.

Though it may not have been the best choice, especially seeing as the woman was already in a battle-ready state, Vahn had detected no other presences within the basement levels so he used the remainder of the [Mana Crystal]’s mana to tear through Space. He was immediately greeted by what appeared to be several reddish-black lasers but, sensing there was no ‘danger’ contained within the spell, Vahn allowed it to strike his body without resisting. A numbing sensation quickly spread through his limbs before it was completely nullified, causing the woman to mistake that he had counteracted the attack as she jumped back, blue runes covering her arms and legs. Vahn knew she had mistaken him as an enemy so, even though they may very well be actual enemies, he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender as he stated, “I do not bear any ill will towards you…!”

The woman had just pulled out a small rainbow-colored gem but, upon hearing Vahn’s words, she kept it within her palm, remaining on guard as she asked, “Who are you? Why have you come here!?” She obviously wasn’t going to take Vahn for his word so, even though he hadn’t made any attempt to attack, the runes on her arms and legs hadn’t faded away. Vahn could see that they greatly enhanced her physical capabilities but, no matter how he looked at her, she had the physique of a ‘normal’ person. Though her internal mana was far higher than most people, possessing a few unique qualities within, Vahn felt she would have lost out against most competent Level 2 Adventurers…

With his hands still raised, Vahn spoke in a clear and calm voice, “My name is Vahn Mason. I have come here seeking information, not conflict. I apologize for showing up unexpectedly but there are a few questions I would like to ask you. After you answer my questions, I will leave you in peace while also providing adequate compensation for your troubles…” Vahn was doing his best to appear as non-threatening as possible, even as his domain spread through the area, allowing him to analyze the surrounding spell formula. With enough time, he was confident he could negate, or even reverse, the effect of this worlds Magecraft, just as he had been able to within the record of Danmachi…

In response to Vahn’s words, the woman squinted her eyes as she whispered, “Vahn Mason…I have never heard of a Magus with that name…” She wasn’t speaking directly to him so Vahn ignored her external monologue, continuing to appear as ‘harmless’ as possible. Eventually, after nearly a full minute of awkward tension, the woman adopted a more casual stance as she asked, “What kind of information are you looking for? You should know that it is a terrible idea to enter into the territory of another Magus like this…what organization are you a part of?” Though she was putting on a show of acting casual, Vahn was very aware of the fact that the woman kept the gemstone tucked away in her palm while her heart rate hadn’t even started to settle yet…

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Doing his best to adopt a disarming smile, Vahn explained, “I actually have no understanding of the etiquette practiced by other Magus. That is one of the things I’d like to ask about, though, I suppose the most pressing question I’d like an answer to is…who are you?” Vahn had expected his question to get a rise out of the girl but nothing could have prepared him for the look of sheer incredulity that appeared on her face as she exclaimed, “Hah? You snoop around my Manor and break in without even knowing whose territory you’re invading? Are you some kind of idiot!?” For a brief moment, it even looked as if she was about to throw the gem in her hands toward him but, as if it was something she refused to part with easily, the woman quickly calmed down after seeing Vahn’s wry and apologetic smile.

After calming herself down a bit, even though the expression in her eyes screamed, ‘I don’t believe this’, the woman somewhat proudly stated, “My name is Rin Tohsaka, Sixth-Generation Head of the Tohsaka Magus family! Now, the more important question is, who, or, more specifically, what the hell are you…?”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fishy Business’,’Vahn is beginning to ‘grasp’ his situation…’,’Vahn’s first step into the Magus world is onto a landmine…’)

(A/N: As there seems to be some confusion about the ‘low mana density’ Vahn keeps mentioning, you need to keep in mind that he is comparing it to Danmachi. That is a world where literal gods roam the land and, as a result of the mana in the environment, monsters, dragons, spirits, etc, are all extremely common. Things that would be considered endangered and protected species in the Nasuverse wouldn’t even be rare within the Record of Danmachi. So yes, while Fuyuki would have a decent amount of mana compared to other Cities, it is complete s***-tier compared to even a frontier village in Danmachi xD.)

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