Chapter 1031: Will

Early the next morning, around two hours before the sun was expected to rise, Vahn sensed Rin step into the backyard. Since he was in a state of passive alertness, her exiting the Manor caused his second thought process to immediately begin observing her actions. Without manifesting an avatar, Vahn had regained the ability to have two, nearly three, conscious thoughts. He could stay asleep with Fenrir in his arms while simultaneous ‘shifting’ his intent to Rin’s location, finding her wearing similar training garments to the previous day. She wasted no time starting the stretching exercises Fenrir had ‘taught’ her the day prior, even if her body still wasn’t adapted to them just yet. No matter how much pain and discomfort it brought her, however, Rin continued to push through the pain with a determined expression on her face…

Understanding that Rin wasn’t trying to wander off, Vahn stopped focusing on her directly to avoid detection. She obviously wanted to work through some things on her own so Vahn left Rin to her own devices for the time being. Then, with little else to do, Vahn went over his plan within his mind, having Sis offer her advice to help improve the chance of success. His current intentions were to allow Sakura, if she actually did intend to participate within the Holy Grail War, the opportunity to become a Master. This would allow him to eliminate several birds with a single stone, as it would give him the justification to take action against her as an enemy Master. Though he currently had no intentions to kill her, as it shouldn’t prove difficult to purge the worm-like creatures from her body, Sakura’s ultimate fate would depend on the choices she would make in the coming weeks…

Knowing that Sakura was only six years old when she was taken out of the Tohsaka household, Vahn knew she was a victim of circumstances beyond her control. So long as she wasn’t proactively trying to harm people after being eliminated from the Holy Grail War, Vahn would leave her be. It was the Matou family, and the Makiri family behind them, that would ultimately pay the price for what had happened to Sakura. Even without knowing the full details of what had transpired, Vahn knew that Sakura had been made to experience something ‘beyond’ normal suffering. Though only a small subsection of the family may have been responsible, Vahn had no qualms about abolishing them entirely to avoid their knowledge and crest from ever being passed down to future generations. It didn’t matter if his actions would earn the ire and attention of other Magus families, as Vahn was perfectly willing to send the way of the Matou if they wanted to defend such reprehensible actions.

At the present moment, Vahn had no intention of trying to repeat his actions of ‘guiding’ the world towards a better future. With the level of technology present within the world, combined with the ridiculous political climate of the various nations around the world, Vahn felt like it would be a futile endeavor unless he had the resolve to ‘destroy’ everything. With how people had been pacified by the existing system, the only way they would truly be able to move forward was if they received a wake-up call, forcing them to face the future instead of focusing solely on indulging themselves in the present. This, however, didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to shatter the ‘backbone’ of the powers that had led to the stagnation of the world behind the scenes. If they were willing to let humanity degrade to this point, all while desperately clinging to their own power, Vahn would remove them just as he had the Nobles in Danmachi…

After enjoying his final half-hour of rest, Vahn and Fenrir awoke simultaneously to head down and conduct their own training. By this point, Rin already had a fine layer of sweat on her body as a thin mist rose as a result of the difference in her body temperature and the cool morning air. When she saw Vahn and Fenrir arrive, Rin showed a vibrant smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes before saying, “I was beginning to think the two of you were going to sleep in until noon. Come on, I’m already warmed up and ready for whatever you want to throw at me…!”

Raising his left brow, Vahn issued an amused ‘Oh?’ before vanishing from view in almost the exact same instant. To her credit, Rin actually tried to dodge forward, attempting a combat roll of sorts, but her reaction was almost laughably slow from Vahn’s perspective. Without any suspense, he appeared behind her before extending his index finger forward and pressing into one of her nerves. Rin released a pained grown as it felt like a surge of electricity ran through her left shoulder, numbing her entire arm in the process. Before she was able to complain, Vahn sternly explained, “Focus your Od to clear your inner pathways. One of the biggest weaknesses I’ve seen in your Magecraft is that you are too reliant on your external Magic Circuits and the structure of your Family Crest. Since your internal Magical Power is something that is constantly active within your body, you need to get used to controlling it. You might not be able to increase your reserves much at the present moment, but you can still greatly improve the quality and activation rate…”

Though Vahn was making it out to sound as if the process depending solely on Rin’s efforts, he had sent a thread of Source Energy into her body with his [Hands of Nirvana]. It would cause her a fair amount of pain and discomfort, but the mana within her body would slowly be refined under the influence of his Source Energy. Though Rin actually had six different elemental affinities within her body, once again attesting to her status as a genius, it was obvoius that she didn’t use them to the fullest effect. She was almost entirely reliant on her [Jewel] Magecraft, meaning each battle she fought would cost a small fortune. Vahn knew her capabilities would be crippled if her finances were drained so he wanted Rin to focus on refining her internal reserves so she could begin learning Eva’s Magic System…

Rin’s expression still showed a bit of dissatisfaction but, instead of arguing outright, she began channeling her Od through her arm while quietly muttering, “How did someone so insensitive win the hearts of so many women…haaaa…” As she pushed her mana through the ‘pinch’ present within her shoulder, Rin noticed that the pain faded away quickly. Just as she was about to express her relief, however, Vahn’s index finger pressed into a nerve below her clavicle before she was prepared. This caused Rin to painfully exclaim, “Mother f*****…!’ as she jumped back and began rubbing the area with slightly teary eyes.

Vahn followed Rin’s retreat with his eyes, wearing a mask of calm as he plainly stated, “It is only going to get harder from here onwards, Rin. Until you reach the point where your body instantly reacts to clear any blockages, we will continue this training on a daily basis. This could very well be one of the most important kinds of training you can experience right now, as it will rapidly improve your control, both actively and passively.” Since the speed at which people seemed to think in this world was demonstrably slower than the reaction times of Adventurers, Vahn wanted Rin to be able to continue fighting, even if she got surprised. He knew she had the [Parallel Thinking] skill, so it should be possible for her to clear the blockages while focusing on the fight.

Through clenched teeth, Rin glared back at Vahn while slowly channeling her mana to clear the blockage. She was taking it a bit slower this time to avoid another sudden and unexpected surge of pain. Unfortunately, Vahn saw through this so, before Rin had even caught her breath, he vanished from view, appearing at her flank this time. Rin’s only reaction was to widen her eyes before her entire body curled up after Vahn pressed a pressure point on the left side of her abdomen. This new pain seemed to overlap with the previous one in her chest, causing Rin to retreat into the fetal position as she quickly tried to clear the searing pain in her abdomen. When she finally managed to rise to her feet, she looked towards Vahn with reddened eyes as she said, “You…you…asshole…”

Understanding Rin’s anger, Vahn’s expression softened a bit as he explained, “Your enemies will not be shy about striking your weak points…” His previous attack had overlapped with the circle-shaped scar on Rin’s abdomen, causing her ten times the pain of the previous two strikes. Vahn wanted her to take this seriously as, even with his overprotective nature, it wasn’t always possible for him to protect her. Fortunately, Rin didn’t seem to resent him ‘too’ much as she rubbed her side and dropped into a combat stance. It seemed like she was tired of being on the receiving end as she quickly dashed forward before trying to kick the outside of his left thigh. Though he could allow her strike to land, Vahn deftly snatched Rin’s ankle with his hand before cautioning, “It is dangerous for you to try and strike my body without protecting your limbs. Don’t forget that my body is similar in nature to that of a Greater Divine Spirit. If I let your kick land, you might have fractured your shin in the process…”

Even though he felt much weaker than he did in Danmachi, the way this world treated beings of a certain Tier afforded Vahn a lot of ‘benefits’. Unless it was an attack that was anti-divine in nature, he was virtually immune to any kind of physical damage. He even had immunity to Magecraft that was graded as B-Rank and lower, making it possible for him to walk through an army of a million average Magi without even needing to defend himself. Since Rin’s attack was the equivalent of kicking an immovable object with full-force, Vahn had to interrupt it to prevent injury. This led to the awkward scene of him holding her extended leg upwards, but it was better than watching Rin’s leg snap due to her oversight.

Pulling her leg free from Vahn’s grasp, Rin’s cheeks were tinged with a bit of red as she complained, “It is a little unfair that you expect me to just receive your attacks without even being able to do anything about it…” To this, Vahn nodded in agreement, explaining, “That is the nature of the world at times, Rin. Depending on the differences between you and your opponents, it can certainly seem unfair…however, when you live to be more than a hundred years old and have fought through entire armies on your own, only then will I humor such remarks. If you want to get ‘revenge’ against me for any perceived injustices, feel free to become strong enough to accomplish it…” As he spoke, Vahn lifted his right index finger to remind Rin that they were still in the middle of her training.

With her brow twitching, Rin gnashed her teeth before muttering, “Just you wait…” under her breath. Vahn, however, didn’t wait and instead chose to go on the offensive once again, this time pressing into a pressure point near the connecting point of Rin’s collarbone and right shoulder. In truth, he had to resist pressing into more ‘sensitive’ areas, as Rin wasn’t prepared for ‘real’ training just yet, so Vahn was limited in targetting larger nerve clusters. This meant that Rin was experiencing pain that verteran soldiers would have compared to being shot with a bullet. The impact was focused on a single point, causing an intense and searing pain that persisted until Rin finally managed to clear the blockage.

After only ten minutes, Rin was desperately biting her lower lip as she fought hard against the tears trying to escape her eyes. She actually had much greater resistance than Vahn had expected, taking nearly forty ‘attacks’ before she could no longer hold in her anguish. Seeing this, Vahn dropped his hand before walking over to Rin, standing above her as he said, “You did well, Rin. I only expected you to last the first ten attacks…your willpower is incredible.” Though he had nearly rubbed her head while complimenting her, Vahn managed to resist the urge since Rin, regardless of how she acted at times, wasn’t a child. He wanted her to avoid developing any ‘tender’ emotions during their training, as the chance she would develop some kind of deviancy was remarkably high, at least according to what Anubis had taught him…

Though her body was still wracked with the ‘echoes’ of Vahn’s attacks, Rin managed to smile in response to his praise. She still had tears in her eyes but, as if she wasn’t crouched down on the ground, Rin ‘confidently’ stated, “Of course…I’m a genius…” in a slightly sobbing voice. In response, Vahn nodded his head before allowing a proud smile to spear across his face. This was something usually reserved for his actual children but, seeing Rin put on a strong front, Vahn couldn’t help but feel a little proud of his student. Rin seemed especially sensitive to this, causing her face to blush as she hung her head, a surprisingly sincere smile replacing the one she often forced…

Leaving Rin to recover at the side, Vahn and Fenrir conducted their own training, even though they were severely limited by the size of the yard. This didn’t stop them from making the most of things, however, as Vahn desperately evaded Fenrir’s pursuit in an attempt to increase his proficiency with [Shundo]. She was currently much faster than his base speed, however, resulting in Fenrir happily tackling him to the ground every few minutes. Rin seemed to enjoy this the first time she witnessed it, producing a large grin as she prepared to make a snide remark at Vahn’s expense. Her words ended up getting stuck in her throat, however, when Fenrir happily pinned Vahn to the ground before ‘claiming’ his lips as her prize…

In this manner, Vahn’s speed was gradually improving while Fenrir’s was exponentially increasing. He simply couldn’t evade her through normal means as, due to the borderline instinctual focus she placed on their bond, Fenrir could, quite literally, predict his movements. She also had strong ‘chase’ instincts, causing Fenrir to treat their little game very seriously as her eyes glimmered with a fervent and decisive light. Each time she would tackle him, Vahn felt like a mouse that had been caught by a kitten as Fenrir would laugh mischievously before placing her soft paws on both sides of his face and invading his mouth with her tongue. When the training session finally came to an end, Fenrir was in an exceptionally bubbly mood as she contentedly hummed the same song that Tiona would sing whenever she was happy.

Vahn, looking a bit worse for wear, could only produce a wry smile on his face as he walked by Rin, the latter crossing her arms as she said, “Serves you right…” This might have been more impactful if she didn’t have a red hue to her face, causing Vahn to feel a strong urge to tease her as he lifted his index finger. Rin immediately flinched before instinctually taking a step back, her body remembering the training that her mind seemed to have temporarily forgotten. Vahn smiled in response, even as he internally remarked about how ‘quickly’ things could change. Previously, depending on the person, Vahn could garner expectant and excited looks from women if he held up just a single finger. Seeing Rin ‘spooked’ was surprisingly refreshing, as he knew she actually had no idea how ‘terrifying’ his finger could be…

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Deciding not to tease Rin too much, Vahn dropped his hand before saying, “You should go ahead and use the bath first. I’ll get started on breakfast…you’ll be leaving around lunchtime I presume?” Surprisingly, Rin shook her head in response before explaining, “I already explained the situation to our collaborators. In order to put up a united front, they’ll be leasing a nearby Manor before we regroup tomorrow. I’m going to introduce you to everyone so we can use today to discuss your cover story. Though the people we’ll be meeting are trustworthy, I think you underestimate the impact your existence will have on the world. Even if you might not be directly threatened by any of the three major Organizations, don’t forget that we’re not at your level…”

As he had essentially been forced to leave his previous world for the exact same reasons Rin was alluded to, Vahn gave an understanding nod as his brows lightly furrowed. Rin, understanding what he was thinking, gave an admonishing smile before lightly punching his arm and saying, “Unless you plan to live detached from others, the only thing you can do is your best, Vahn. I can tell that you’re not the type to just sit by and watch people suffer so don’t pretend otherwise. I’m fully aware of the fact that I could be hurt by people trying to get to you but that is a danger I’m willing to face. Don’t look down on my resolve…I’m stronger than you think, okay?”

Hearing Rin’s words, which echoed similar words spoken to him by most of the girls he was closest to, Vahn smiled as various scenes played across his mind. He knew that Rin’s words were the truth and, though it had always been his biggest weakness, Vahn simply couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Even if he didn’t intend to become an ‘Emperor’ and rule this world, that didn’t mean he would ignore the corruption and cruelty that seemed to make up the backbone of the powers in this world. Though he couldn’t save everyone, that didn’t mean he couldn’t eliminate a large portion of the forces that caused suffering in the world. If society was content with living a pacified existence, he would remove the darkness lingering beneath society to ensure that they could live in peace…

After opening his eye, Vahn saw Rin looking at him with concern so he smiled even wider before extending his hand and plopping it down on her head. This surprised her more than a little but Vahn didn’t really mind it much as he sent ‘petting’ energy into her head and mused, “You’re a good woman, Rin. Thank you for your words…” Since Rin wasn’t accustomed to such interactions, she quickly pulled away from Vahn’s hand with a flustered expression on her face as she stammered, “Wh-what are you trying to do? I’m not someone you can just…” Though she wanted to continue on, Rin felt as if the ‘aura’ around Vahn had changed drastically compared to what she had experienced over the last month. There was a resolute light in his eyes that seemed to be looking towards a fixed point in the future, something only he had any say in…

Having made his decision, Vahn inclined his head towards the sky before muttering, “The time to pass on the torch has long since passed…I wonder how desperately you will cling to it…”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘*Poking Intensifies*’,’Fenrir’s favorite game’,’The shadow of the Emperor…’)

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