Chapter 1022: Adapt

In what felt like the blink of an eye, Vahn had already been within the Nasuverse for two weeks. During the time he had been staying within the Tohsaka Manor, using one of the seemingly never used guest rooms, Vahn invariably ended up cooking most meals. Though he had tried to teach Rin how to cook, she was like a walking disaster within the kitchen. Currently, he only trusted her with basic tasks like washing the vegetables as there were only so many times he could watch her mishandle a knife before denying her the right to use it. This led to Rin ‘insisting’ that she could actually cook on her own but, after giving her the benefit of the doubt, Vahn ultimately had to prepare their dinner a second time after Rin burned it. He didn’t understand how a twenty-seven-year-old woman could be so incompetent within the kitchen as even girls like Tione had picked up on things relatively quickly…

Fortunately, meal preparation for two people never took long, meaning Vahn had a great deal of free time to himself. Contrary to her claims of being ‘busy’, Rin seemed to spend the vast majority of her time within the workshop located in the second half of the basement. This was an area that was off-limits to Vahn, as Rin emphasized that all Magus have their secrets, but he was still able to set up a small workshop of his own in the basement itself. Previously, Rin seemed to be using it as a place to train her body as, littered about the room, there were things like hula-hoops, weights, a series of wooden dummies for practicing close-quarters-combat, and two large sandbags. At a glance, it was easy to see this equipment hadn’t been used in several years, leading Vahn to believe that Rin had only just returned to Fuyuki recently…

Unlike how she made her workshop off-limits to him, Rin had made a habit of periodically coming to see what he was working on. Vahn had made an off-hand remark about the hypocritical nature of her actions but she had rebuffed him by reminding that the entire Manor was her property. During moments like that, Vahn could only shake his head and sigh. Though he could easily move out and find a place to stay on his own, Rin would always panic and convince him to stay at the last moment. She had even taught him a fair bit in regards to Magecraft, allowing Vahn to fill in the rest himself by relying on the system shop as his crutch. Though some of the notes and texts he purchased were very OP-intensive, Vahn currently had a large surplus to rely on as he continued to familiarize himself with this new world.

During his ‘lessons’ with Rin, Vahn quickly learned that Magecraft was fundamentally the same as using the Unnamed Magic taught to him by Eva. Since they were both Tier 5 worlds, Vahn wasn’t surprised by this similarity but, seeing him succeed ‘instantly’, Rin’s expression had been a sight to behold. She had given an arbitrary explanation on how to use basic Magecraft but, without asking even a single question, Vahn was able to activate his Magic Circuits immediately thereafter. This was the result of Vahn’s ability to ‘perfectly imagine’ things, allowing him to create the necessary mental image in an instant before his entire body was covered in pale blue runes. That night, Rin spent a very long time holed up in her workshop, only appearing the next morning with bags under her eyes as she nursed a cup of black coffee…

Ultimately, Magical Circuits ended up being a ‘projection’ of the same magical circuits Vahn was already familiar with. Instead of using the mana internally, however, the Magical Circuits within Nasuverse manifested themselves on the surface of a Magus’ skin. Their basic function was to serve as the pathways that allowed a Magus to use Magecraft but, even with every prolific Mage family having a unique ‘crest’, Rin had attested to the fact that many Magi were able to use the same spells, regardless of the structure of their Magic Circuits and the Incantation required to enact the spell. It was this revelation that allowed Vahn to directly compare it to Eva’s Magic System as, much like the latter, the former relied on the ‘image’ a person created in their mind to give power to the Spell.

In order to activate your Magic Circuits for the purpose of using Magecraft, it was necessary to create a ‘triggger’, usually a powerful mental image, that could directly resonate with your self-preservation instincts. For Rin, this took on the form of imagining a blade piercing her heart while Vahn’s ended up being the ‘memory’ of Musashi cutting through his ego and destroying his avatar. Since his ‘image’ was an actual experience, Vahn’s activation trigger was far more powerful than Rin’s, even though the latter had been practicing Magecraft for more than twenty years. There was a reason why Magi who had experienced hardships and trauma were often the most powerful as, instead of forming a simple ‘image’, they had very real ‘experience’ with life and death scenarios. Though Rin wasn’t an exception to this, having plenty of experience with such things herself, Vahn had ‘literally’ died several times at this point, all while possessing a far more powerful Soul.

Once his Magic Circuits had been activated, Vahn didn’t waste much time before trying to familiarize and adapt his prior knowledge and experiences into functional skills within the Nasuverse. It was somewhat unfortunate that there weren’t ‘correctional’ skills like Developmental Abilities within this world but Vahn was still able to determine that his forging skills and most of his Magics could be used without much difficulty. The biggest restriction he faced was his limited reserves but that would slowly become less of a factor as he continued to use Magecraft and the [Mantra of Eternity] to meditate. Just as Eva had taught him, Vahn could increase his reserves by stimulating his internal mana and using it up every chance he got. This would strengthen his Magic Circuits, increasing the load they could bear, while also marginally increasing his base reserves. Surprisingly, though this seemed like ‘common sense’ from his perspective, Magus within the Nasuverse apparently hadn’t put two-and-two together and had instead been fumbling around with theories for the last two thousand years…

Vahn had come to learn of this when, apparently after thinking long and hard about things, Rin approached him to ask for ‘advice’ in her own training. Since he had been considering helping groom Rin into a powerful Magus, Vahn didn’t mind pushing her in the right direction to see where she could take things. When she learned that she had missed the best opportunity at increasing her reserves, Rin had actually headbutted the table before cursing at some man named Kirei under her breath. It was after this outburst when Vahn came to learn that, ever since she was around seven years old, Rin had essentially lived alone. Though there was a ‘Gurdian’ that looked after her, helping her train her body and Magecraft, he would only ever assign her homework before leaving her to figure things out for herself. Fortunately, Rin was a rarely seen genius so, even without direct guidance, she had become a proficient Magus through self-teaching. Less fortunately, when Vahn asked about what happened to Kirei later on, Rin had become despondent before disappearing into her room for the rest of the evening…

After ‘triggering’ Rin several times, Vahn understood that her past hadn’t been a pleasant one and, even though she put on a strong and confident front, there were a few deeply rooted traumas within Rin’s heart and mind. There were times when she would suddenly fall silent after he made her laugh, a profound melancholy flashing over her eyes that she would gloss over when questioned. Even so, Vahn was still able to piece together the fact that ‘something’ had happened ten years prior which, thanks to the system shop, provided him with quite a bit of insight into several potential possibilities. After all, though it wasn’t recorded in many texts dated to around his current timeline, there were several accounts of the Fuyuki City Fire and, in texts from the far future, the Holy Grail War. Since Akasha had said there was a 98% chance he would be involved with a Holy Grail War himself, Vahn wouldn’t be surprised if Rin’s return to the City was related to the legendary event. After all, in the same texts that discussed the existence of the War, many pointed out that it was Rin who had brought the bloody conflict to an end…

Choosing to respect Rin’s privacy, Vahn didn’t press her for any information about the Holy Grail War as he would inevitably receive his answer in due time. Instead, he was currently within his workshop trying to shape a piece of Mythril into a staff without using an actual forge. Since the ventilation within the basement wasn’t suitable for setting up an actual forge, Vahn was shaping the metal using a combination of Fire Elemental manipulation and Magecraft. Even if his reserves were barely a fraction of what he was used to, Vahn’s skill as a [Master Smith] hadn’t simply vanished. He was also intimately familiar with the manipulation of Fire Elemental energy, to the point that some gods presiding over Fire, at least within Danmachi, may not be able to contend against him…

It was in the middle of using Telekinesis to forcefully shape the piece of Mythril that Rin exited her own workshop before staring at him with the same ‘suspicious’ gaze she often turned toward him. Fortunately, she had enough sense not to interrupt him while he was working with a piece of red-hot metal but, almost as soon as he set it into the quench tank, Rin commented, “You’re going to cause a lot of problems one day, Vahn. Though I’m not going to pry into your secrets too much, it is obvious that you are capable of using True Magic. Even if you’re an existence from the Era of Gods, what you’re using isn’t something that is possible, regardless of how proficient someone is with Thaumaturgy. You need to make sure you keep your true capabilities hidden, regardless of how much trust you place in the other party…”

Though Magecraft and Thaumaturgy were fundamentally the same thing, the latter was considered the ‘foundational’ practice. It was used to describe the various different schools that Magecraft had latter evolved into, including Astrology, Kabbalah, Alchemy, Shinsendou, and several other Divergent Schools. At the most basic level, however, all Thaumaturlogical processes dealt with the conversion of Magical Energy within the body, shaping it in a way that allowed the user to produce the phenomenon of Magecraft within the external world. There were several rules that strictly governed what ‘should’ be possible within each School and it was the research that went into ‘bending’ these rules that often determined how proficient one was with Magecraft. What Vahn was doing, however, almost completely ignored the rules as, instead of using the basic principle of equivalent exchange, he seemed to be ‘creating from nothing’.

Understanding what Rin was trying to tell him, Vahn smiled in response before pulling out the cooled piece of Mythril and saying, “I consider myself a good judge of character. Even if your superiors within the Clock Tower pressured you, I don’t believe you would willingly expose me. Though you may not see it yourself, I can tell you’re a considerate person who cherishes the people you interact with…”

Without waiting for Rin’s inevitable rebuttal, Vahn forced the Mythril staff into her hand, smiling even wider as he said, “It may not be a Masterpiece, but I’m confident in the quality of my work. Instead of worrying about convincing me not to trust others, you should focus more on increasing your capabilities as a Magus. After all, if you become the ‘strongest’, I won’t have to worry about anyone forcing you to expose my secrets.” With those words, Vahn laughed in a lighthearted manner before heading towards the stairs leading to the Manor above. To prevent Rin from following after him, he simply stated, “I’m going to borrow the bath for a bit. Don’t peek…” before disappearing through the door. Moments later, he heard something hard hit the door before Rin yelled, “Peek my ass! Who would peek on you…!?”

Choosing not to respond, Vahn made his way to the bathroom before washing the soot and grime from his body. Regardless of what Rin had said, there had already been a few ‘near’ incidents in the nine days he had resided in the Manor. He knew this was the influence of ‘fate’ so he didn’t hold it against her, even as he had to proactively measure his actions to avoid any compromising situations. At this point, he was certain the Rin would have had the [Luck] Development Ability if she were back in Danmachi. There was even a non-negligible chance that the entire reason he had come to the Tohsaka Residence before heading anywhere else was related to her luck. Now that he was present, the chance she would ‘succeed’ in whatever her future plans were had increased exponentially. If he wanted to, he could even turn her into an enviable existence that would make other Magi go crazy…

Though the functionality wouldn’t be the same, Vahn was certain he would be able to give his ‘Blessing’ to others. Even without the ‘Fragment of Creation’ he had obtained within Danmachi, Vahn was still a Tier 4 existence and had a solid understanding of how the Familia Crests worked. Since the concept of a ‘Blessing’ existed within this world, with Spirits, Daemons, Demons, and Gods all able to bestow it upon people, Vahn knew he could certainly do the same. If he was straightforward with her, Vahn knew it was even possible to make Rin into one of his Subordinates or Retainers, giving him the ability to ‘literally’ change almost everything about her. She might not be at the most optimal age to increase her internal mana, but even that could be changed with the functionality provided by The Path…

Even without relying on The Path, Vahn had several other options to help Rin become exponentially more powerful than she currently was. The problem with these methods, however, was that they were all a little more intimate than simply looking at a screen and making selections. Though it hadn’t been his intention, Vahn now realized that the vast majority of methods he had developed to help people were more than a little inappropriate, at least by his current world’s standards. This included rather drastic actions, such as him using his [Hands of Nirvana] to help refine Rin’s body, while even relatively tame actions, such as using his Source Energy to nourish her Mana Circuits also required direct, and extended, physical contact…

Vahn hadn’t broached the subject thus far but, with what he knew of Rin after only nine days, he was certain she would be willing to do whatever it took to grow stronger. There were ‘gaps’ within her common sense that could be easily exploited if he had the intention of taking advantage of her. This was likely the very reason why she had experienced tragedies in the past as, even with her haughty nature, Rin seemed to throw herself head-first into danger on behalf of others. It was easy to see that she had few people she was close to, even though it was surprisingly easy to get in her good graces if you simply got to know her ‘true’ self. Though this true self was somewhat troublesome, Vahn felt that she just desperately wanted to interact in a meaningful way with others and simply lacked the knowledge required to do so without acting ‘explosively’…

While enjoying the warm water of the bath, Vahn could her loud stomping in the corridor nearby. Rin wasn’t coming towards the bath but, based on the way in which she was stomping around, it was obvious that she was reminding him that she ‘knew’ he was thinking about her. Vahn could imagine her face turning slightly red when her own thoughts wandered in regards to ‘why’ he was thinking about her in the bath. Of course, when this thought crossed his mind, the stomping became even louder than before. Vahn couldn’t help but release a light chuckle before allowing himself to slide further into the bath, submerging his head…

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By the time Vahn exited the bath, Rin was already waiting for him in the kitchen since it was almost time to prepare dinner. Unlike the long skirt she had been wearing on the day they met, easily extending past her knees, Vahn hadn’t seen her wear anything remotely similar since. Instead, she defaulted to wearing a red or white blouse, the latter of which she often covered with a brown vest, likely to keep her bra from being visible. As for her choice in skirts, Rin was currently wearing a black skirt that only extended to her wrists, a far cry from the rather modest skirt she had previously worn. Though she wore something similar to spats underneath, combined with long thigh-high leggings, Vahn felt she was trying a little too hard to spite his claim that he would never think uncouth thoughts about her…

Knowing he was thinking something ‘rude’ again, Rin gave Vahn a deadpan glare before picking up the nearby kitchen knife and ‘inspecting’ its edge. Vahn knew this was her way to seem intimidating but, instead of shying away, he smiled tauntingly before walking towards Rin without any fear. This startled her, causing her to step back subconsciously as Vahn grabbed her hand holding the knife and said, “You should know what you’re getting yourself into if you intend to try and scare me…” Then, guiding Rin’s hand, Vahn brought the tip of the knife to his chest before she was able to make sense of what he was doing. This caused Rin’s eyes to widen as she exclaimed, “What are you doing!?” in a shocked voice.

Vahn didn’t immediately release her hand and instead, in a somewhat stern tone, said, “Watch…” This brought Rin to silence as she watched the tip of the blade penetrate his shirt before ‘stopping’ against a seemingly immovable force. Moments later, the blade began to bend noticeably before the tip ultimately fractured and went flying off at high speeds. Vahn quickly moved to grab the piece of shrapnel before it could accidentally hurt anyone, snatching it out of the air with his index and middle fingers. With the fragmented blade in hand, Vahn explained, “Don’t accuse me of being unfair. Though I don’t believe you would ever turn against me, make sure you are properly prepared when the times comes. I may be much weaker than I was in my previous world, but never forget what I told during our first meeting…my power is something the current you can’t even begin to comprehend. When you realize that…well, you might find a new way towards your goals…”

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With his words finished, Vahn threw the broken kitchen knife into his Inventory before purchasing a functionally similar one for five OP. Leaving Rin in a confused and contemplative state, Vahn began preparing dinner, though not before commenting, “Leave cutting things to me. Unlike someone, I’m not going to accidentally cut myself…ufu…” These words caused Rin’s twin-tails to bob suddenly as she snapped her head towards him, glaring with her aqua-blue eyes. Vahn, however, had already started dicing up daikon without paying any attention to her, causing Rin to grind her teeth as she muttered, “If I was knife proof, I wouldn’t cut myself either…hmph, thinks he is so great just because he can cook…? I can cook too…just you wait and see…!” Like this, Rin started her usual soliloquy, serving as the background music accompanying Vahn’s skillful performance as a Chef…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Poor Rin, trying to compare herself to a ‘literal’ god…’,’Women’s Intuition’,’Vahn will never run out of salt with Rin nearby xD’)

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