Chapter 1042: Perspective

Vahn once again found himself on the verge of falling asleep once again, even though there was only an hour or so left before he was supposed to be waking up. It was a curious impulse as, though he had the habit of sleeping, Vahn knew he didn’t actually require it. Though this would have caused him to feel that something was wrong in most circumstances, the link between him and Nobunaga seemed on the verge of activating every time he was near the brink of unconsciousness. Ultimately, sensing no danger, Vahn allowed his main process to fall asleep as he sub-process mind retreated to an area where he would view and sort through his memories…

Soon after he had fallen asleep, Vahn sensed something other than a simple telepathic message flowing into his mind through the connection he shared with Nobunaga. It was like a data transfer was occurring between them, providing audio and visual stimuli in the form of a lucid dream. Vahn was left watching these events play out, much like when he would view one of the [Hearts Desire]s from the past. In these images, Vahn could see a young girl with striking red eyes wearing a muted grey kimono as her long, unkempt, black hair flowed behind her. She had a smile that, while missing a few teeth, displayed a childish wanderlust that showed a limitless intrigue in the world around her…

While watching these events quickly play across his vision, Sis’ voice reached Vahn’s ears, asking, (*What do you wish to show Nobunaga? This connection goes both ways so I can send visions about your past that can help shape her perception of you.”) Though the mechanism that had linked them together seemed to be nigh-irresistible, that didn’t mean it had the means to probe Vahn’s mind for information. Even Akasha’s scan wasn’t able to pry into his memories, resulting in her having to rely on the information provided by Vahn, combined with a biometric analysis, to determine if he were telling the truth.

Since it didn’t really feel ‘fair’ to Nobunaga if she was the only one forced to share her past, Vahn didn’t spend too much time thinking about it before answering, (“I’ll trust you to select memories that won’t expose the existence of The Path. Since there is a good chance that the Root might be trying to use Nobunaga in order to gain access to my memories, make sure you obscure anything that might create a vulnerability they can exploit…”) Though he already had numerous weaknesses, Vahn wanted to avoid having them all recorded within the system as data that anyone on Akasha’s side could view at their leisure…

Soon after he had given Sis his permission, Vahn saw another ‘screen’ appear within his mind, this one showing a visually jarring image as it had him strapped to a lab table with his arms and legs missing. It seemed like she was going to emphasize his tragedy before showing Nobunaga the person he had become through his various trials and efforts. Since it wasn’t a secret he came from ‘another’ world, even if they had no idea how to reach beyond the scope of Termina Nasu, there weren’t any real issues with revealing this information. In fact, with some of the people in his ‘dream’ having similar identities to people living in his current world, Akasha might misconstrue things in a manner he could exploit later on…

Being intimately familiar with his own past, Vahn’s main focus was on the memories transfering into his mind from Nobunaga. He slowly watched her grow from a troublemaker that, against her Father’s wishes, spent most of her time running around with a small ‘gang’ of civilians that had naturally gathered around her. While other girls her age seemed to be delicate and reserved, Nobunaga was like a typhoon that drew in everything to her with her natural charisma and earnest nature. Though this caused the upper-class of society to admonish her, to the point they had nicknamed her the Great Fool of Owari, Nobunaga never showed any sign that she cared about their opinions…

Oda Nobunaga had been born as the second child of a Military Governor named Oda Nobuhide during Japan’s warring states period. Her home was situated within the Owari province, a region that would later become the western half of the Aichi Prefecture, located very close to the central axis of Japan’s main landmass. It was almost equidistant from the furthest northern, and furtherst southern points of Japan, making it a prime location to serve as the origin point of one of Japan’s greatest revolutionary minds…

From a very young age, Nobunaga had already developed a ‘vision’ for the future that she wanted to bring into fruition through her own efforts. She thought it was senseless for there to be class divides as, after interacting as equals with the people she was supposed to rule, Nobunaga recognized their capacity for greatness. The only thing most people needed to succeed was the opportunity thus, as she developed into a young woman, the thing that changed the most about Nobunaga were her ambitions and the lengths she was willing to go to see them become a reality…

After the death of her eldest sibling, Oda Nobuhiro, Nobunaga was no longer content with just helping her hometown of Owari prosper. Now that she was the leading successor of the Oda Clan, her father pressured her to adopt the identity of a man and learn to govern properly. Though she abided his decision, this was only because Nobunaga knew she needed to consolidate her own powerbase if she wanted to extend her influence to surrounding regions. She took to her new role like a fish in the water, absorbing knowledge like a sponge as she quickly led her people towards even greater prosperity. Due to her interactions with the youth of her own generation, Nobunaga enjoyed an extreme degree of popularity amongst her people, something few other rules could claim during the chaotic times surrounding her life…

For four years, Nobunaga did her best to learn everything she could but, just as her father was planning to step down from his post and allow her to become the acting Shugo, the title given to Military Governor’s of the time, he was found dead in his room before the succession ceremony could take place. Since Nobunaga knew it was her own younger brother Oda Nobuyuki, who had orchestrated the incident, she was completely incensed. Though she was very aware of the fact that many members of the Oda Clan were against her becoming the successor, due to their ‘traditional’ views that women should be seen, not heard, the fact they were willing to go to such extremes caused her to swear and curse during her father’s funeral, calling them hypocrites as she bombarded them with container’s of incense…

It wasn’t until one of her father’s most trusted vassals, Hirate Masahide, performed seppuku, the ritual cutting of one’s own gut, that Nobunaga’s mind was brought back to clarity. Seeing the blood pooling beneath his body, something had ‘broken’ inside of Nobunaga’s mind as she simply couldn’t fathom how their system was designed so that honorable men would willingly give up their lives as a display of fealty while, behind the scenes, would-be politicians and merchants skulked about in the darkness and exploited the system with impunity. The fact that her own family would talk about traditionalist views in regard to her, while simultaneously plotting the murder of their own lord, had opened her eyes to the fact that the patience she had cultivated was simply a means by which her enemies could exploit her…

The last straw for Nobunaga was when some of the elder’s within the Oda Clan had tried to arrange a marriage for her without even bringing the matter to her attention until they had already given her dowry to the other family. Even though she was supposed to be the next head of the Oda Clan, they were trying to get rid of her by ‘giving’ her to a fat merchant that was more than twice her age. As an even bigger slap to her face, she wasn’t even intended to be the head wife, merely the concubine of a man who already had four children. Since mistresses and concubines were not afforded the right to have children of their own, the Oda Clan Elder’s were effectively trying to cull the continuation of her own blood, something they claimed to be the product of her mother laying with a demon…

Unable to tolerate these sleights against her, Nobunaga led more than a thousand men to Nagoya Castle, culling the majority of the Oda Clan elders in cold blood before failing to capture her brother, the dissident Oda Nobuyuki. With this single move, Nobunaga had forcefully seized her birthright before beginning a rapid militarization of the Owari Province. Since she had always treated them fairly, the majority of her people ignored the vile rumors spread by the surviving members of the Oda Clan, knowing full well the treachery they had used to try and remove Nobunaga from power. As a result, Nobunaga’s army began to grow at a monstrous rate before, at the age of twenty-two, she led her first successful campaign to destroy a budding rival branch of the Oda Clan at their seat of power, Kiyosu Castle.

By relying on technological blueprints acquired through illegal channels, Nobunaga was one of the first lords to adopt the usage of Tanegashima, a type of matchlock gun that could fire spheres of lead with enough force to put down even the most skilled Samurai. She also focused on the modernization of her territory, introducing new and revolutionary ideas that further increased her popularity amongst the people. While others began referring to her as a Demon King that was without honor and filial piety, Nobunaga was practically worshipped within her own region as a wise and capable lord…

At the relatively young age of twenty-six, Nobunaga already had a standing army numbering more than 25,000 men. She had secured her place as one of the most powerful feudal lords within Japan due to her early acceptance of the technological marvels slowly filtering in from supposed ‘enemy’ nations. While others clung to their roots and backward principles, Nobunaga looked towards the possibility of a future where, not just her people, all people could thrive and prosper. Seeing the majority of people forced into service of various Lords, many of which wrung their people dry without a second thought, Nobunaga was determined to ‘liberate’ Japan, even if it meant destroying the corrupt government and flipping the entire country upside down…

Leading her army from the forefront of a three-thousand man matchlock brigade, Nobunaga dominated almost every battle she participated in by relying on the ideology that, ‘only a strong offensive policy could make up for the superior numbers of an enemy’. By relying on small strike teams that could outmaneuver and flank their enemies, Nobunaga could split her forces on multiple fronts as she slowly expanded her territories outward. Around this time, Nobunaga began to build a strong inner-circle of her own vassals that had sworn fealty to her cause of unifying the Japanese people in order to usher in a more prosperous future…

Around the time when the Nobunaga in his ‘memories’ was about to lead an army against another rival Daimyo, a man by the name of Takeda Shingen, the vision slowly turned into a blur before dissipating entirely. The connection he had with Nobunaga fizzled out on its own, leaving Vahn a little annoyed since it was actually very interesting to see what kind of person Nobunaga had been during her life. Seeing her cut a path through her enemies with unfettered determination in her eyes, all while her men followed after her without any hesitation, was an inspiring sight to behold. This was made even more ‘epic’ due to the fact that, while standard historical texts either glossed over it or simply found the claims ‘ridiculous’, there were numerous individuals in Nobunaga’s memories that could have qualified as Heroic Spirits.

Unlike the ‘boring’ history that was recorded in texts, Vahn got to watch as powerful Samurai fought against hundreds of men without issue while Nobunaga herself ‘literally’ tore through battlefields like a typhoon. She used a custom rotary matchlock that was forged by a team of skilled blacksmiths over the course of three months. It had a dark black sheen that was accented in gold, bearing the crest of the Oda Clan embedded into its side. What made this matchlock even more impressive was the fact that, instead of shooting normal bullets, the inner rifling was replaced with artificial magic circuits that allowed Nobunaga to fire a functionally infinite number of magical bullets that could tear through thick armor as if it were paper…

Feeling as though he had been denied the opportunity to witness the climax of an epic saga, Vahn released an internal sigh before looking over the information Sis had sent to Nobunaga. Events had proceeded until around the point that he began to introduce his educational and social reforms in Orario. Vahn hadn’t realized it before, but he actually had more parallels with Nobunaga than he had expected, almost to a scary degree. They had both done what they believed was necessary to create a better future for everyone, not just a select few ‘nobles’ that seemed determined to keep people from prospering, fearing they would rise up against them if given the opportunity. Vahn found this mentality laughable as, due to the way ther ‘lords’ treated them, that was the ‘guaranteed’ reaction people would have after someone finally showed up to liberate them from tyranny…

Just as Vahn was feeling a little closer to Nobunaga, she must have been feeling much the same way as, before the connection had severed completely, she stated in what sounded like a sincere tone of voice, (“Looks like I need to reflect a bit…you’re not bad at all, Vahn.”) With this said, Nobunaga broke the link from her end without giving Vahn the opportunity to respond. This caused him to issue a light chuckle, followed by him muttering, “This doesn’t change the fact that I ‘owe’ you a great deal…” in a humorous tone. Though his impression of Nobunaga had improved a great deal, that didn’t make her previous words and actions suddenly ‘justified’. It was clear that they both had their own way of doing things and, though they were remarkably similar in nature, that only fueled Vahn’s desire to get even with Nobunaga for her previous remarks.

While Vahn was thinking about how he ought to repay Nobunaga, a small prick in his side caught his attention. Seeing the sleeping figure of Ereshkigal lightly breathing through her nose, Vahn allowed a small smile to adorn his face as he gently caressed the side of her face. This caused her to produce a smile of her own as Vahn turned her head slightly to stop her crown from poking his ribs. She was curled up his side after a very long and ‘educational’ lesson in the relations between men and women, courtesy of Ishtar’s careful guidance. Though Vahn was forced to take a more passive role, he had greatly enjoyed watching the surprisingly naive Ereshkigal listen to everything her older sister said without question. She was a surprisingly earnest girl who never gave up after she started something, allowing Vahn to see why she had been able to synchronize with Rin…

Vahn began to wonder if Rin and the two Goddesses had shared a similar experience as his dream exchange with Nobunaga but, remembering they already shared memories before that, this likely wasn’t the case. Unlike him and Nobunaga, Rin was fused together with her two Servants so it was unnecessary for a ‘data transfer’ to occur between them. Though they might not be able to peer into the deepest secrets each of them kept close at heart, Vahn correctly assumed their bond was far deeper than his temporary ‘exchange’ with Nobunaga…

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As if she knew he was thinking about her, Ereshkigal’s hair began a gradual shift into Rin’s characteristic black as the latter slowly opened her eyes. For several long seconds, she just stared off into space while releasing gentle breaths that tickled his side. Then, as if recalling everything that happened the previous night, Rin shrunk into the smallest form she could manage, covering her face with both hands as she released a shrill and muffled whine. This caused Vahn to laugh, immediately resulting in Rin glaring at him as she shouted, “Don’t you dare laugh…you…you….graaaaaah…!” Apparently failing to find any words to throw his way, Rin settled on slapping Vahn’s chest with the palm of her hand, eliciting a loud sound that echoed through the room.

Now cradling the hand she had used to smack him, Rin had a look of blame in her eyes as she complained, “You and your stupidly hard body…”. There was slight moisture building up at the edge of her eyes but Rin seemed determined to prevent herself from crying as she crawled the long way out of bed before scampering over to a walk-in closest and disappearing within. It didn’t take a genius to realize that Rin, now having regained some clarity, was very embarrassed about the previous night. As this was already within Vahn’s expectations, he didn’t hold it against her as he too changed into a fresh set of clothes after using nameless cleaning magic to ‘wash’ his body.

Surprisingly, when Rin appeared from the closet’s interior, she was wearing her training clothes while trying to appear as unflustered as possible as she said, “I’ll be doing my stretches in the basement today…” As she couldn’t prevent her face from becoming a little red, Rin ultimately slapped her cheeks with both hands before ‘storming’ out of her room without waiting for Vahn’s response. He didn’t know if she wanted him to follow after her, or if she was telling him to leave her alone for a bit. If it was the former, there was a fair chance their future training would become a little more ‘intimate’ than normal. If it was the latter, however, Rin might feel as if he were being too insistent, refusing to give her the space she needed to calm down and clear her head…

Lamenting the ‘guessing game’ that women always seemed to expect him to play, Vahn looked towards his shared room with Fenrir and wondered if he should spend the rest of the morning with her. She had returned around 3 AM before spending around half an hour in the bath, likely washing blood from her hair and fur since Vahn could ‘feel’ that she had successfully hunted some prey. He intended to ask her about it later but, considering the fact that Nobunaga’s presence reappeared shortly after, it might be better to ask her instead. Fenrir, even more than Rin, needed a bit of space to herself as she was currently going through a phase where she desired independence and personal growth…

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Realizing that even Fenrir wasn’t an exception when it came to the complexity of women, Vahn ran his fingers through his own hair as a wry smile formed on his lips. Ultimately, he decided it was best to apologize rather than having to deal with a pouting Rin, upset that he failed to notice whatever cue she had sent his way. With that in mind, Vahn soon found himself in the basement, allowing him to witness Rin performing a split as she leaned forward and extended her arms as far as she could. Since she was wearing skin-tight training wear and had her back facing the stairs, Vahn got quite the view from his perspective.

Feeling Vahn’s gaze, combined with her intuitive understanding of what he was thinking, Rin’s expression became a deep shade of red. Instead of shouting at him and telling Vahn to leave, however, she bit her bottom lip for a few seconds before eventually asking, “Can you help me with my stretches…? There are a few that I can’t do on my own…” With these bashful words leaving her lips, the distance between her and Vahn shortened considerably compared to the past…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Vahn’s over here watching Nobunaga’s past in IMAX…’,’No matter the world, Nobles and Elders in power always seem to be c**** xD…’,’Tsundere’s are powerless once you break down their defenses (UwU)…’)

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