Chapter 1021: Compromise

Vahn couldn’t help but feel that it was the correct decision to head out early in the morning as, much like his conversation with Akasha, it took him nearly three full hours to recount his story to Rin. He glossed over many things, especially if it was in regards to anything ‘sensitive’ in nature, but she politely abstained from prying. Though her reaction when he revealed the number of lovers and children he had caused Vahn’s scalp to tingle, she seemed to accept it after he mentioned the fact that he was more than 150 years old and lived in a world where gods roamed amongst men. Before this revelation, Rin had thought his story was somewhat fantastical but hadn’t made any connection between any of the mentioned parties and ‘actual’ gods.

When Vahn finally finished recounting his past, Rin remained silent for several minutes, an expression deep contemplation on her face. It wasn’t until Vahn pulled a fresh pot of tea out of thin air that she turned her attention back to him, asking, “So, you claim to be from a world that is still in the Age of Gods. Not only that, but your race, Progenitor, is the ‘origin’ of every other sentient race, the only exception being Spirits and Gods themselves…?” Though it wasn’t that difficult to believe Vahn had actually come from a world where Gods still existed, as it wouldn’t even be the first time someone like him had appeared in the world, Rin was more concerned about the fact he claimed to be an existence that was akin to the Holy Churches ‘ADAM’. If he was what he claimed to be, a Sealing Designation was the least of his concerns. His existence could very well lead to all-out war between all three factions as the Holy Church would never allow him to move freely while the Dead Apostle Ancestors would covet his blood. With this one revelation, assuming it was the truth, Vahn had become the highest priority target for all three organizations…

Failing to understand the ‘significance’ of his race, even though he could sense Rin’s apprehension, Vahn nodded his head and explained, “Yes. I am able to freely change my form, adapting my cells to perfectly emulate any existing race. If I put in the effort, I can even emulate fictional races by altering the structure of my magic circuits…” As even Eva had referred to the pathways used to channel mana as magic circuits, Vahn wasn’t particularly worried about revealing his ability to change the internal structure of his circuits. This was a bombshell for Rin, however, who adopted an incredulous expression that clearly showed she either didn’t, or refused, to believe him. As a result, Vahn produced a wry smile before his body rapidly changed, two pointed ears poking out from his head as a bushy tail made itself known from his lower back. He had taken on the form of a Chienthrope as the upkeep of maintaining something like a Vanargandr would be wasteful in his present state.

Seeing Vahn change right before her eyes, Rin’s mouth gaped even more, at least until she got a clear look at him. He had already been unnervingly handsome before, to the point Rin assumed it was ‘artificial’, but the dog ears and tail actually made Vahn look somewhat ‘cute’. As this thought crossed her mind, Rin felt an increase in the tension of her cheeks, quickly accompanied by a rising heat. Then, even though she knew it was a ‘bad’ idea, Rin’s curiosity got the better of her as she hesitantly asked, “Can…can I check to see if they are real…?” Though she could easily discern they were real, based on the fact that Vahn’s human ears had ‘receded’ into his head during the transformation, Rin felt compelled to verify the feel of his fluffy-looking dog ears with her own hands…

As her question was within his expectations, Vahn gave a small nod before presenting his head forward. He had, for a brief moment, been tempted to warn her about the intimate nature of what she was asking but, realizing it wasn’t exactly conducive to his situation, Vahn decided against it. This led to a peculiar scene, one where Vahn kept his eyes closed to avoid having to stare at Rin’s chest as she enthusiastically stroked his head and ears. Though she had only touched them gingerly at first, Rin’s face turned into a strange smile after a while, followed by her happily patting his head. In response, mostly due to his ‘instincts’ as a Chienthrope, Vahn’s tail began to wag gently, regardless of his attempts to resist the building urge…

Rin’s eyes began to blaze in response to the movement of Vahn’s tail but he quickly put an end to it by pulling away and clearing his throat before saying, “I believe that is more than enough…” This sentiment didn’t seem to be shared by Rin but she still reluctantly nodded her head before adopting a far more serious expression moments later. Following this, Rin went on to warn, “Vahn, you need to keep your existence as a Progenitor a secret. Even telling me was a big mistake, as I am officially a part of the Clock Tower. Though I have no intention of exposing your secret, there are numerous methods in which someone may be able to pry the information out of me. If the nature of your existence is exposed, you will have the Mage’s Association, the Holy Church, and the Dead Apostle Ancestors breathing down your neck…”

Vahn wasn’t all that surprised by Rin’s revelation, as being a Progenitor had been a big deal, even in his previous world. She could see that he wasn’t taking her warning seriously but, before she was able to emphasize the importance of her words, Vahn smiled confidently as he said, “One of the reasons I came to you was to get a better grasp of this world’s power structure. However, though I would like to avoid unnecessary troubles, that doesn’t mean I am afraid of a fight. Even if all of the organizations you mentioned combined forces, I would not shy away from them. In order to return to my world, to the family I have waiting for me, I must become stronger, stronger than anyone else…!” There was pure conviction contained within Vahn’s words and, after hearing him talk enthusiastically about his family, Rin knew he was serious. Though her own family was more than a little dysfunctional, even she would risk her life if it meant protecting the people she cared about…

Releasing an exasperated sigh, followed by her rubbing her temples in frustration, Rin eventually turned her aqua-eyes back to Vahn, saying, “If you’re half as strong as your stories make you out to be, you may not have anything to worry about…however, that doesn’t mean you can move about with impunity. In order to return back to your family, you need to survive long enough to complete the trip. Don’t go around risking your life and picking fights with people just because of your pride and desire to grow stronger…!”

With Rin’s finger pointing in his face, much like how a teacher would lecture a child, Vahn smile began to twitch at the sides as he resisted the urge to ‘correct’ her. He knew she was, in her own way, trying to be considerate of him. Since they had only known each other for a few hours, his impression of her had already increased considerably. The fact she went out of her way to warn him, even mentioning that she may be forced to reveal his secret, showed that she had a considerate and intrinsically kind personality. Since there were even subtle fluctuations of ‘fate’ around her, implying that she was tied to the fate of the Record, Vahn felt he may have inadvertently stumbled upon one of the protagonists of the Nasuverse. It was the only way he could explain her going out on a limb for someone she just met, discounting the fact that she may just be attracted to his good looks…

Just as Rin was thinking how best to ‘lecture’ Vahn, her stomach suddenly began to grow, far more audibly than she would have liked. Vahn’s expression didn’t change at all but she felt a strong urge to punch him in the face before burying herself in a hole in the back yard. It was even worse when he allowed a small smile to spread across his stupidly handsome face before asking, “Shall I prepare lunch? I am quite confident in my culinary skills…you can consider it an expression of my gratitude for the warning you have given me.” Then, without waiting for a response, Vahn rose to his feet before pulling out the same [Mana Crystal] from earlier and setting it atop the table. To answer Rin’s confusion, he simply stated, “It will not take me long to prepare something. You can use that time to inspect this [Mana Crystal] to determine its worth. Even if you decide to withhold some information, I will still allow you to keep it for further study…”

Finished stating his piece, Vahn left the study without even asking Rin for direction to the kitchen. He already had an in-depth understanding of the Manor’s structure so it wasn’t really necessary for her to guide the way. Though it could be considered rude, or even inappropriate, for him to walk through her Manor alone, he had already ‘invaded’ it previously. Compared to the invasion of privacy leading up to his meeting with Rin, simply walking to the Kitchen was incomparable. This seemed to be the consensus Rin had reached as well, considering she made no attempts to stop him from leaving the study. Though this could have been due to the fact that she was distracted by the [Mana Crystal], Vahn was aware of the fact that she had followed his departure with her eyes. When he got further down the hallway, she even cracked up the door of the study as if to make sure he wasn’t going to get lost…

After reaching the fully stocked kitchen, complete with dozens of different pots, pans, and utensils, Vahn opened Rin’s fridge to find that it was almost completely empty. Even the nearby pantry and cold storage nearly barren, causing him to wonder if she even used it for cooking. Without any servants in the house, it was a bit odd to find everything so clean, almost as if it had never been used before. Ignoring this, Vahn purchased some ingredients from the system shop while ignoring the singular aqua-blue eye peering at him through the crack in the door. Rin had followed behind him, either to make sure he wasn’t doing something like ‘poisoning’ the food or out of general curiosity. Vahn had talked up his cooking skills quite a bit so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that she wanted to see his capabilities for herself.

As he was used to having an audience whilst cooking, Vahn ignored Rin’s skulking about as he decided to make a light lunch. Ever since he lived with Tsubaki, Vahn’s tastebuds had been conditioned to match the Far Eastern pallet so he was more than acclimated in the preparation of traditional Japanese dishes. He figured that Rin, given her figure, probably wasn’t a heavy eater, even though he could tell that she was actually very fit beneath her clothing. Since she used a type of magic that enhanced her physical capabilities, it was obvious that Rin took proper care of her body in order to further amplify the magic’s effects. Even with her dress and blouse properly concealing her figure from view, Vahn’s experience as a physician allowed him to see through her completely, even without his [Eyes of Truth] active.

Hearing the sound of something falling down, Vahn turned his head towards the door just in time to see it slam shut. He was beginning to suspect that Rin genuinely had a method to ‘understand’ what others were thinking about her as, each time his thoughts went wayward, she had shown a reaction. The question then became, how sensitive was her ‘intuition’ and, if he let his mind wander even further, would she be able to sense it? This was the thought that crossed his mind as Vahn simultaneously cleaned a few vegetables while imagining Rin wearing one of the [Aegis Mk 4] outfits. Since he could ‘perfectly’ envision such things, leaving no details glossed over, Vahn was able to witness a view that would cause Rin’s admirers to pursue him even more fervently than the three major organizations…

This time, the door to the kitchen was kicked open as Rin, her face noticeably red, pointed towards Vahn and shouted, “You, just now, you were thinking something inappropriate, weren’t you!? Don’t you lie to me!”

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Seeing Rin burst into the door, Vahn was content to have the answer to his question, even as he was confused as to why her reaction was so extreme. He wasn’t the same dense individual he had been in the distant past so it wasn’t difficult for him to interpret how a woman felt towards him. Rin’s reaction, however, was peculiar compared to how most women behaved as, even though she seemed to be the ‘refined’ type, she was also prone to compromising outbursts. In response to her accusation, Vahn turned around and, with a straight face, shook his head before explaining, “My thoughts were not inappropriate, even if they could be misconstrued as rude. I told you earlier that one of my primary professions was a Blacksmith. I’m also skilled in the art of sewing, dressmaking, and…well…more refined practices. I assure you, the chances of me having any untoward thoughts regarding you are slim, Miss Tohsaka…”

Though he knew his words were a bit harsh, Vahn wanted to make it clear from the start that he wasn’t looking for any ‘meaningful’ interactions between them. He had seen the borderline ‘disgust’ she allowed to show when he talked about his relationships with other women and, unable to set aside his feelings for them, Vahn wasn’t interested in anyone that was uncomfortable with him loving others. It didn’t matter if they were separated by a vastness so great that it couldn’t be measured by distance and time as they would always, forever, be his lovers…

Feeling a bit saddened by his own thoughts, Vahn turned his attention away from the statue of Rin as he began skillfully dicing the vegetables into fine chunks. Since he didn’t want to spend too much time cooking, he had settled on making a salad using kale, spinach, romaine, and a few chopped vegetables on the side that could be freely added. To accompany the salad, he had prepared some pickled roe which, on its own, had a somewhat overbearing flavor. However, when mixed together with lightly salted white rice and chives, it became a delicious blend of mellow, savory, and tart flavors. It had been a favorite of Tsubaki, Mikoto, Haruhime, and Shizune so Vahn was confident Rin would also enjoy it.

By the time he was finished preparing everything, Rin had moved to the nearby dining table, her expression a clear indicator she wasn’t in the best of mood. As he carried the dishes over, she gave him a somewhat hateful look that Vahn elected to ignore as he set the plate in front of her and said, “It is best eaten when warm…” Following that, he sat at the complete opposite end of the table, causing Rin’s frown to deepen as she muttered, “Stupid…what does he think I’m going to do, bite him…?”

Though she continued to curse him under her breath, Rin still went through the motions of unwrapping her tableware before picking up a fork that was specially crafted for the sole purpose of eating salads. She did her best to ignore Vahn’s presence as she unhesitantly took a bite of the salad, finding it to be of surprisingly high quality. The vegetables all tasked crip and fresh, almost as if they had been plucked mere minutes prior. Since she had seen him pull them out of thin air, something that was starting to seem like ‘real’ Magic, Rin frowned, even as she enjoyed the taste. She really wanted to ask where he kept pulling items from but, fearing he would actually claim to be creating them from scratch, she kept mum as she picked up a pair of ivory chopsticks and sampled the roe.

Tasting the picked roe on her tongue, Rin’s brows perked up a bit as, though she was fond of sweets, she had always been particular when it came to pickled foods. The roe was not only crunchy, popping within her mouth, but the blend of the two contrasting flavors was very pleasant. As it was even better with the rice Vahn had prepared, Rin had quickly forgotten her annoyance as her eating pace gradually increased. By the time the bowl was completely finished, she had a satisfied smile on her face as she mused, “That was delicious! You know, if you’re looking for a place to stay, I don’t mind hiring you on as my personal Chef. So long as you agree to prepare meals for me, I may even teach you the basics of Magecraft~.”

Seeing how quickly Rin bounced back, Vahn looked towards her with a borderline blank stare before slowly allowing a smile to spread across his face. This caused Rin to inhale sharply before, realizing what she was offering, she quickly stammered, “Wait, don’t misunderstand! Didn’t you say that you got kicked out of your place this morning and was thinking about what to do in the future? If you stay here for a few months, you can learn more about this world and, though I may be too busy to attend you often, I can easily spare the time it takes to eat a meal in order to explain the basics. I can even introduce you to a…coworker of mine. She is a bit of a pain but she is trustworthy…!”

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Vahn resisted pointing out the fact that Rin’s behavior actually made her offer even more suspect. At the same time, he was actually considering her offer as, without any other plans, it wasn’t the best course of action. Not only was she from a prestigious, albeit declining, Magus Family, but her future prospects also made her a reliable ally to have. Since she had an aura of ‘fate’ around her, there was a good chance she was involved with a sequence of events that were directly tied to the fate of the world itself. Vahn had no prior understanding of this world and, though the History texts provided quite a bit of insight into what he could expect, the key details weren’t accounted for. By staying closer to her, he could pretty much guarantee his involvement in events that would shape this timeline while also having potential ‘scapegoats’ with other fate-bound individuals nearby…

After thinking of the possible benefits, Vahn closed his eyes before considering whether or not taking such a ‘passive’ stance was the best option. Though it was true that Rin would certainly ‘become’ a reliable ally, she still had a long way to go. Considering her age, she was already well beyond her developmental phase so, while the quality of her mana might improve, the quantity would only increase a marginal amount without the aid of external resources. If he had found her ten or so years prior, or even earlier, it might have been possible to groom her into a powerful Magus that could become an actual ally in his future battles. Now, however, she was an investment that might not have any payoff, at least without him treating the matter seriously…

Breaking Vahn from his thoughts, Rin slammed her hands on the table suddenly before shouting, “You, you just thought something very rude, didn’t you? Don’t look down on me, Vahn. I don’t care if you are some b******* existence from the Age of Gods. Hell, I don’t even care if you’re able to use True Magic easier than a cow can produce methane! If you look down on me, prepare to get some sense knocked into you when I become stronger! You’re not the only one who is trying to reach the pinnacle of the world…!” At this point, Rin had risen to her feet as she leaned across the table, directing her finger, once again, towards Vahn’s face…

As he had already explained the fact that he was previously an Emperor, Vahn was annoyed by the fact that Rin was pointing her finger in his face. Though he wasn’t carrying himself as someone that ‘should’ be respected, it was still an action that grated on his nerves, probably more than it should. As a result, even though he didn’t fault Rin for her conviction, his expression became serious as he plainly stated, “Everyone has the potential to become strong, Rin Tohsaka…it is not a special trait that only a few geniuses possess. However, at this moment, the difference in power between us is something you can’t even fathom. If you continue shoving your finger in my face, don’t blame me for denying you the respect I’ve been giving you until now. Even if you have every right to state your convictions, you need to seriously consider how your actions are interpreted by others…”

For a moment, Rin felt as if she were receiving a stern lecture from her father, someone that had died nearly twenty years prior. Her heart seized up in her chest and, though she wanted to rebut what Vahn had said, the look on his face made her retract her hand in silence. She had even nearly blabbed that nobody was allowed to talk to her like that but, recalling what kind of existence Vahn was, Rin knew he wasn’t wrong to ‘demand’ respect. However, just as this thought crossed her mind, Rin also remembered that he had snooped around her Manor before breaking in, all to have her answer his questions. Since then, she was certain he had several rude thoughts and, though he said he wouldn’t have any ‘untoward’ thoughts regarding her, Rin didn’t believe his words were sincere…

Choosing not to apologize, Rin crossed her arms before snorting through her nose and asking, “So, are you going to stay here? I’ll make an exception and only ask you to prepare one meal a day, but you’ll have to cook for me more if you expect me to answer any more questions. I don’t care if you have a thousand of those ‘Mana Crystals’, as I don’t even have a use for them in their current state. If you can’t agree to this, please leave my Manor and never return. I will keep your secret, as promised, but I don’t want to involve myself with an abnormal element like you if I can’t even expect to be compensated with something as simple as food.” Though the words sounded silly leaving her mouth, Rin had already decided that Vahn would become her Chef, Emperor or not.

Seeing the way Rin was behaving, Vahn actually found himself smiling as, though there were ‘a lot’ of differences, she acted somewhat similar to Eva. She was certainly prideful, likely the result of her upbringing, but Vahn could also sense there was a deeply rooted pain that she had already shown glimpses of. Considering that there was ‘fate’ lingering around her, Vahn knew she likely had some kind of past tragedy that hadn’t made its way into the history books. If he decided to accept her offer, his own nature would make it almost impossible for him not to get involved when things begin to spiral downwards. Still, it was better than having no plan at all so, even though Rin would be difficult to deal with at times, Vahn eventually released a sigh before musing, “I will only accept if you agree to learn how to cook. In exchange for teaching me the basics of Magecraft, I will teach you how to take care of yourself and cook delicious food so you don’t starve yourself after I leave…”

More-so than any of the previous times, Rin’s face became a deep shade of red as she listened to Vahn’s words. The moment he finished speaking, she slammed her hands on the table once again before shouting, “I know how to cook, you idiooooot…!”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Rin is judging Vahn so hard xD…’,’Stealth Operation’,’I wonder if a time will come when Rin calls Vahn ‘Daddy’…’)

(A/N: Today is the last day to vote for who you’d like to see as a Servant in upcoming chapters~! If you haven’t already, follow the link I post in the comments section to cast your votes!)

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