Chapter 1032: Investigation

For the rest of the day, Vahn sat across from Rin in her study while Fenrir laid across his lap and dozed off. At this point, Rin seemed to have given up commenting on the way Fenrir behaved and instead showed an envious glint in her eyes as she watched Vahn gently scratch around the base of Fenrir’s ears. This would cause her to show a contented smile as she snuggled up even closer to him, inhaling in an audible fashion that caused Rin’s face to show a light blush. As for Vahn, he had long since adapted to Fenrir’s habits so he showed no discernible change in expression while guiding the conversation forward. In this manner, the day proceeded without incident before Vahn and Fenrir retired to their own room, leaving Rin to fall exasperatedly into her bed. Her body was still sore from the morning’s exertions so she didn’t even change into her sleepwear before retreating to the comfort of her blankets…

While Rin faded into the abyss of unconsciousness, Vahn and Fenrir were both wide awake as they spent their time together in silence. The reasons Fenrir had been sleeping during the day was to conserve her energy as, even though he wasn’t required to act immediately, there were a few things Vahn wanted to look into. His instincts, honed over years of associating with people who possessed a powerful fate, told him that there was more afoot than Rin was aware. If the Holy Grail War was only supposed to have seven total Masters, it didn’t make sense for there to be as much activity as he had observed. Though it wasn’t hard to believe that every competing Master had their own support group, the War was supposed to be a highly regulated event that disallowed external interference. Rin and her companions were obviously intending to break the rules but, as could be observed from the failure of the previous two Wars, she wasn’t the only one with such intentions…

Once Rin had fallen into a deep state of unconsciousness, Vahn tilted Fenrir’s chin towards him before giving her a short peck on the lips. This caused her to immediately smile, though not nearly as much as when Vahn asked, “Shall we go hunting…?” As a being with affinities related to Water, Ice, and Yin, Fenrir’s dominion was the veil of night, especially when there was a full moon. Though they lacked the latter, there were few who could ever hope to achieve Fenrir’s proficiency when it came to tracking down ‘prey’. Without any fear visible within her subtly glowing eyes, Fenrir used one of her nails, tracing ita long Vahn’s chest as she answered, “With only two exceptions, there is nothing I would enjoy more…Master…”

Knowing exactly what Fenrir was implying, Vahn released a light chuckle before letting his hand trace the line of her back. This caused her to exhale a hot sigh as, even with its reduced efficacy, Vahn’s [Hands or Nirvana], combined with his comprehension of Petting Laws made even a simple caress something that penetrated into the very core of a person’s body…

After warming up their bodies a bit, Vahn and Fenrir dawned cloaks that had been purchased from the system shop for 500,000OP each. They allowed the wearer to move undetected within the shadows, increasing the efficacy of all stealth-related abilities by 300%. Though Vahn and Fenrir both lacked actual skills and abilities related to stealth at the moment, the former could match his presence to the surrounding Mana while the latter could use the same magic that allowed her to change form like an optical camouflage. Fenrir could bend the light around her body to become nothing more than a hazy blur that was nearly unnoticeable unless you looked directly at her. Though this would be useless in areas of heavy fog and rain, it was when the sky was clear of everything but the moon and a few stars…

Like shadows, Vahn and Fenrir quickly moved through the surrounding suburban residences before reaching their first mark only five blocks from the Tohsaka Manor. Vahn had detected the Magus that was staying here lingering around Rin’s house several times over the past couple of days. Since he hadn’t tried to establish contact, it was almost guaranteed that the Magus within an enemy or a spy. Thus, after confirming the presence of two people within, Vahn moved undetected through the surrounding magic barrier as Fenrir kept watch outside. Upon entering the main bedroom of the rather homely residence, Vahn found a man a woman, both in their mid-twenties, sharing the same bed. He had already peered into the room previously so he wasn’t at all surprised, quickly setting to his task of sorting through the Magus’ personal effects.

It didn’t take long for Vahn to find a leatherbound folder that contained information on not only Rin, but the two companions she had met with at the Cafe. There were several other people mentioned, leading Vahn to believe they were either other potential Masters or co-conspirators in Rin’s plan. Since there was also a log that showed Rin’s movements over the last few days, including timestamps, Vahn’s eyes immediately sharpened as he looked towards the sleeping couple. The man didn’t have a powerful presence but his companion had a few dense threads of mana running through her internal circuits. Vahn didn’t know if she was a prospective Master, or if she was simply the ‘muscle’ on the man’s investigation team. None of the documents, other than their passports, gave Vahn any information about the two so it was hard to determine if they were enemies he ought to kill…

Ultimately, Vahn decided to use a method he wasn’t actually that fond of, causing him to release a muted sigh that didn’t escape the thin membrane he created with his domain. Without wasting too much time, he appeared at the woman’s side before pressing his index finger against her forehead. Though this might have awakened her in any other circumstances, Vahn’s touch could go completely unnoticed if he chose. Without her ever knowing something was wrong, the woman fell into a deep abyss of unconsciousness that she wouldn’t wake from with outside intervention or the passage of a full day. After this was completed, Vahn moved to the opposite side of the bed before placing two fingers at the center of the man’s chest. He made no attempt to conceal his presence this time, causing the Magus’ eyes to snap open, though not before he had already lost control over his motor functions…

Vahn watched as the man activated his Magic Circuits and tried to force his body to move but, with Source Energy coursing through his nervous system, it was far beyond his means to resist. Even so, Vahn waited patiently for the man to cease his struggling before staring directly into his eyes and saying, “This is not a negotiation. You will tell me what I wish to know, or you will die. There are no other outcomes to this situation. Though you may not trust that I will release you after the fact, I can promise you that there are far worse things in life than a swift death…” Even without a sadistic nature, Vahn still had more than a few means at his disposal if he needed his enemies to talk. If the man failed to comply, the next step would involve putting him into a deep state of hypnosis that he may never fully recover from…

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Since the man couldn’t talk at the moment, he used his eyes to look at this sleeping companion without uttering so much as a grunt. After seeing that she was sleeping peacefully, he seemed to calm down a bit before blinking his eyes in understanding. Vahn returned a small nod of his own before placing his index finger below the man’s laryngeal prominence, slowly restoring his ability to speak. Once this task was completed, Vahn picked up the folder containing the man’s investigation notes before asking, “What is your purpose here? Why are you investigating these people…?”

Vahn noticed there was no information on himself within the man’s records so he didn’t ask about Rin and her associates directly. As for the man, he seemed to put deep consideration into his answer before saying, “I’m just a simple Private Investigator that was hired to collect information on any prominent Mages moving around the Miyama region. I can’t give you any information about the identity of my client, though I know they have connections to the Holy Church…” As he had only gotten notice regarding the job through an anonymous source, the unfortunate private investigator could only pray that Vahn believed his words…

With an ‘approving’ nod, Vahn looked between the man and his companion before asking, “And what is the identity of your companion? Are the two of you partners…?” This line of questioning caused the man’s expression to turn desperate as he said, “Please, don’t hurt my Ayoko…if you want to hurt me, I don’t care, just please leave her out of this…”

Seeing the sincerity in the man’s eyes, Vahn squinted his eyes slightly, even as he internally released an exasperated sigh. Before allaying the man’s concerns, he repeated, “I asked you her identity and the nature of your relationship. If your concern is genuine, you will answer my questions directly instead of wasting my time…” Using his domain to put some pressure on the man’s mind, something that was ‘very’ easy with how weak most people in this world were, Vahn’s words were like massive weights placed on the private investigator’s heart. Fearing what would happen if he failed to comply, the man answered, “Her name is Ayoko Fujima…we have been partners for the last seven years…”

Discerning not falsehood in the man’s words, Vahn gave another small nod before pulling out a thin bar of gold and setting it on the bedside table. Without leaving any room for discussion, he stated, “Your paralysis will wear off in around an hour…I would encourage you to use this time to think about what you should do after you regain your mobility. A warzone is no place to take your lover…” With these parting words, Vahn vanished like a phantom from the man’s room, leaving him in a cold sweat that seemed to soak through to his bones. Following Vahn’s ‘advice’, not that he had any other choice, he spent the full hour contemplating his travel itinerary…

Throughout the rest of the night, Vahn visited several other ‘marks’, many of which were just investigators that had been hired to gather information. It didn’t take much effort for him to realize that their presence was actually meant to serve as a distraction, drawing attention away from ‘real’ threats, but it was still better to have determined this early on. He was able to gain a fair amount of information about various person’s of interest so Vahn didn’t feel as if his time had been wasted in clearing out the surroundings. Though he ultimately only ended up eliminating one Magus that had obviously ‘evil’ intentions, based on the half-dozen human hearts he kept under his bedside, it was still a productive evening…

By the time Rin had awoken for their morning training, her body aching even more than the previous day, Vahn and Fenrir were already waiting patiently within the backyard. When the latter dragged her aching body outside, Vahn smiled in a teasing fashion as he mused, “I was beginning to think you were going to sleep in until noon…” Knowing these were the same words she had used the day prior, Rin glared towards Vahn and said, “Bite me…” in a tired voice. This caused him to raise his brow as Fenrir, apparently deciding to get in on the exchange, opened her mouth to reveal much sharper than normal teeth. Rin inhaled audibly when she saw this, quickly adding, “It’s just an expression…!”

Vahn laughed out loud when he saw this interaction before lightly tapping Fenrir’s back and saying, “Make sure she does her stretches properly. I’m going to warm up on the side to give you a bit of privacy.” Though Rin would probably claim to not care if he stayed around, Vahn made a point of minding the matter so that their status as a proper Master and Disciple wouldn’t become skewed. Even if the distance between them continued to shorten, Vahn wanted to establish a few clear boundaries early on so that Rin wouldn’t get any strange ideas. Though he wasn’t against the idea of a temporarily fling, depending on the circumstances, Vahn wasn’t in the mindset of having any permanant relationships within this world…

Though Rin frowned as she watched Vahn walk off to the other side of a shrub, she didn’t say anything until Fenrir unceremoniously appeared behind her and slapped the insides of her thighs. Against her will, Rin found herself falling into a painful split that caused tears to build up in the corner of her eyes as she exclaimed, “You…!” Before Rin could say anything more, Fenrir began to push down on her shoulders as she said, “Quiet. Stretch.” in a cold tone. With the difference in their power, Rin didn’t actually have any choice but to comply as she quickly found her chest pressed into the cold stone below. Fenrir felt the ‘resistance’, causing her eyes to sharpen slightly as she began to push Rin with varying degrees of force to make her ‘squash’ into the ground. Rin, after their first session together, knew it was better to just get it over with so she grit her teeth, withholding further remarks…

With Rin ‘cooperating’, it only took them around twenty minutes to complete all of the ‘required’ stretches that Vahn had assigned her. When she was finally liberated from Fenrir’s paws, Rin’s eyes seemed to have lost a bit of their light as she gasped for air, huge plumes of condensation accompanying each breath. She didn’t get much time to recover, however, when Vahn suddenly appeared above her with an amused smile on his face. Rin instantly groaned upon seeing him before rolling onto her side and muttering, “I don’t care anymore, do whatever you want…” Her body was sorer than anything she had ever experienced, even under the intense and borderline sadistic training she went through in her childhood…

Even though he knew Rin was just ‘pouting’, Vahn nodded his head in response to her words before using telekinesis to lift her body. This caused her to freak out, as the sudden weightlessness was similar to the feeling of falling backward in a chair. Before she was even afforded the opportunity to complain, Vahn had already set out a wooden barrel that was filled with a steamy green liquid. Rin hadn’t even processed what was happening before she suddenly found herself dropped into the warm liquid, causing the chill that had settled in her body to immediately fade. Instead, the sudden change in temperature made the lukewarm liquid feel as if it was scaldingly hot, causing Rin to practically jump out of the water, shouting, “What the hell are you doing!?”

Without a single change in expression, Vahn casually answered, “Whatever I want. Fortunately for you, what I want is to help your body recover so you don’t have to spend the rest of the day moving around like a grandma…” Though he couldn’t buy potions for Rin’s consumption, Vahn could exploit a bit of a loophole within the system by purchasing medicinal herbs and mixing concoctions himself. His alchemical knowledge had a few massive gaps, but this didn’t stop him from acquiring a list of ingredients to make an herbal bath that would remove Rin’s fatigue and help to ‘refine’ her body. It was similar to how he had trained himself after first entering the Record of Danmachi, a form of training he knew would have demonstrable benefits to the current Rin.

Hearing Vahn’s words, Rin noticed that the pain in her body had actually faded by a large amount, a surprising feat since she hadn’t even been soaking for a full minute. Now that she was beginning to adapt to the ‘heat’, Rin noticed it was actually pretty comfortable compared to the frigid morning air…

Just as Rin was working through the process of ‘accepting’ Vahn’s rough treatment, Fenrir’s face formed a frown as she pointed towards her and said, “Shameless…” in a tone colder than the surrounding air. At the same time, Rin noticed that Vahn was blankly staring towards a flock of birds flying through the sky, causing a dreadful feeling to rise up from her stomach. Looking down, Rin noticed that her relatively thin workout clothes, while not transparent, hadn’t done their job. Since she was dropped into warm water before being exposed to the cold air one again, her nipples had become just as frigid as the surroundings. Rin quickly covered her chest before sinking into the water until it reached her nose. Like this, she began to blow bubbles while looking towards Vahn with blame and discontent…

Seeing that Rin was covering herself, Vahn turned to face her with a smile before saying, “Today, you will stay inside this barrel until the water gains enough transparency that you can see your feet. It should only take a half-hour and, after you’re done, your body will be full of energy for the rest of the day.” Vahn didn’t bother to explain the other benefits of the herbal bath as it wasn’t his intention to teach her to be reliant on external items to increase her strength. If she believed the only purpose of the bath was to help remove her fatigue, that was more than enough for the time being. With that in mind, Vahn picked up the despondent Fenrir, immediately causing her mood to improve. Then, giving Rin one last glance, Vahn said, “Fenrir and I will use the shower before preparing breakfast. Remember, don’t leave the water until you can see your feet…okay?”

Rin’s only response was to poke her tongue out before turning around in the barrel and facing away from them. Then, as if to escape the cold air, she submerged up to her nose and continued to blow bubbles in silent protest as Vahn and Fenrir went indoors. It wasn’t until the sound of the backdoor closing reached her ears that Rin complained, “Idiot…jerk…asshole…” If others were to see her, it would have looked like a vengeful spirit muttering a malicious curse that would bring harm to whoever was unfortunate enough to suffer their ire…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Let the hunt begin…’,’Poor PI-san…’,’It seems that Rin’s ‘fate’ is to get bullied…’

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