Chapter 1047: Focus

With the dawn of a new day, the Holy Grail War entered into a temporary ‘cease-fire’ of sorts, giving any Masters and Servants who had struggled the previous night a momentary reprieve. Though it was not impossible for conflict to take place during the day, the chances were slim as, unless they were supremely confident in their ability to secure the Grail, few would risk becoming the target of Executors from the Holy Church and Mage’s Association. Conversely, if you actually had enough power that you needn’t fear these two forces, there was no real need for you to even obtain the Grail. Once you reached the pinnacle of the world, having wishes that could only be granted within the limit of the ‘World’ itself lost its meaning.

Deciding to use his day as productively as possible, Vahn had ultimately extricated himself from the tense atmosphere created by Scáthach’s ‘direct’ nature. She was currently conserving her energy be lingering about in her Spirit form while Fenrir, having been triggered by Scáthach’s actions, could be found practicing her [Shundo] ceaselessly within the garden. As for Nobunaga, Vahn wasn’t quite sure where she had run off to but, considering her personality, Vahn imagined she was interacting with the people of the modern era to pass the time. He wasn’t entirely sure why, but Vahn could imagine Nobunaga walking around town with a girl on each arm, even though she herself was a woman…

In order to gain as much additional time as possible, Vahn was currently within the basement setting up a formation that was likely to blow Rin’s mind when she saw it. Not only did it use runes that even Vahn didn’t know the origin of, as he just wrote them out second-naturedly, but the basic principles that made the formation function were fundamentally different than modern Magecraft. Though the formation’s basic purpose was to gather Elemental Energy, this was a completely different concept to formations that would indiscriminately draw in Mana. After all, even in the complete absence of Mana, Elemental Energy could be drawn from the very void itself, a process that modern Magi would interpret as ‘True Magic’.

By the time he had finished his task, the entire basement was covered in several layers of complex runes while, located on the floor and ceiling, two ‘simple’ squares formed the only gaps within the formation. This was the concept of using a ‘ward’, the core of Eva’s Magic System, to serve as a ‘gate’ that would consolidate each of the four basic elements at each corner before converting them, albeit inefficiently, into the far more complex structure of the Space and Time elements. Vahn didn’t have Terra’s dominion to rely on anymore and, as he couldn’t be around to maintain the formation at all times, he needed to have a constant supply of more complex energies to power the Sub-Space orb…

Vahn, now having completed the formation, began preparing the materials that would be necessary to produce a Sub-Space. Before he could even begin forming the orb, however, a ripple of magical energy caught his attention as Scáthach appeared with her characteristically expressionless face. As a Heroic Spirit whose skill in Magecraft was nearly the equal of her skill as a warrior, Scáthach found the structure of Vahn’s magic circle, which even her [Wisdom of the Haunted Ground] lacked details about, particularly interesting. As for Vahn, he had taken in a sharper-than-normal breath before relaxing as it seemed Scáthach was more interested in the formation than focused on him…

Though he was tempted to explain the logic behind the magic circle, Vahn could see that Scáthach was determined to figure it out on her own. Deciding to continue with the production of the Sub-Space Orb, Vahn did his best to ignore her presence as she walked around the room, tracing her fingers over various spots within the formation. Fortunately, as was often the case, Vahn found himself immersed in his work after mentally ‘blocking’ Scáthach’s movements from his perception. He wasn’t unaware of her location, as he passively regarding everything within his domain, but Vahn was able to increase his focus to an extreme level as he began channeling his Source Energy into the Sub-Space Orb to form its inner world…

As much as she had been interested in the formation, Scáthach immediately turned her attention to Vahn when she detected the ‘unique’ fluctuations of his mana. Every time she sensed it, Scáthach found herself profoundly confused as, no matter what she tried to make of it, her mind and senses seemed unable to comprehend its structure. In a way, Vahn’s mana felt similar to Divine Energy but, as this was something she was easily able to discern, the fact that there was ‘uncertainty’ within her assessment caused Scáthach to observe Vahn even closer. Without him seeming to pay any attention to her, Scáthach had approached close enough that her breasts were nearly touching his back as she peered into the developing Sub-Space Orb with her crimson eyes glimmering with a mystical light.

In his state of intense focus, Vahn concentration was mildly affected by the fact that beads of sweat had started to consolidate on his brow and nose before dripping onto the rainbow-hued surface of the otherwise clear-as-crystal sphere. Just as he was preparing to wipe his brow to eliminate the distraction, Vahn’s mind blanked a bit when a towel entered the periphery of his vision before almost imperceptibly wiping the pooling sweat. The action was so swift and deft that Vahn’s actual vision hadn’t been obscured in the slightest, even as the towel gently removed the drop of sweat that had been about to fall from his nose. Ultimately, however, Vahn focus ended up being destroyed completely as he couldn’t help but turn his attention to the source of the towel, Scáthach…

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Surprisingly, instead of apologizing for breaking his focus, Scáthach took on a slightly stern tone as she said, “Stay focused. Do not let outside distractions prevent you from completing what you set out to do.” Though they hadn’t started training yet, Scáthach was already acting in the capacity of a Teacher who had just found her student slacking off. Vahn, however, wasn’t quick to abide by her words as he frowned slightly before saying, “I’m too conscious of your presence at the moment. You might be right about it being a fault all my own, but I need you to leave so I can finish working in peace.”

In response to his words, Scáthach squinted her eyes slightly before asking, “Is this your true desire?” To this, Vahn once again shook his head before turning his attention to the Sub-Space Orb and saying, “Wants, needs, desires, these are things that people can’t really escape. That doesn’t mean I need to be a slave to them, though…leave me, Scáthach, I have made my decision.” Vahn was the most aware of how ‘tempted’ he was around Scáthach and, while he knew a time would come where he gave in to such urges, he had no intentions of doing so in the present. If he just gave in to every urge as it appeared, Vahn felt he would be no better than an animal. From the very moment he gave up his ‘dignity’ in exchange for a fleeting moment of pleasure, Vahn knew he would have stepped onto a path different than the one he intended to walk…

Sensing the conviction in Vahn’s words and actions, Scáthach gave an approving nod before vanishing into thin air. This didn’t stop her words from reaching him, however, as she stated, (“So long as you are honest with yourself, I will not deny there is value in your way of doing things. Even if I am to become your Teacher, the path you ultimately walk is something only you can decide. Take care, my Master…”) With these fleeting words, Scáthach’s presence disappeared from the basement like nothing more than a stray thought. Though Vahn committed her words to memory, finding a fragment of wisdom contained within, he wasted no time before immediately returning to his work on the Sub-Space Orb…

As a result of his tireless efforts, Vahn had managed to complete his work on the Sub-Space Orb with two hours to spare before dusk descended upon them. He had been aware of the small events occurring within the Manor, including the awakening of Rin and Scáthach’s refusal to allow her to enter the basement, but they hadn’t distracted him from completing his task. The only thing that remained was providing it without enough energy to ‘jump start’ the activation of the Orb. Under normal circumstances, it would take a few days for the formation to take effect but, as the Holy Grail War could be over by then, Vahn didn’t have time to spare. In fact, the whole reason he had spent the day developing the Orb was specifically due to his lack of time…

Purchasing around 43,000,000 OP worth of supplies, Vahn placed what appeared to be several crystalline pillars throughout the basement. Each had a different color, red representing fire, blue representing water, green representing wind, and yellow representing earth. These pillars alone cost 10,000,000 OP each but, so long as they were not damaged, they would provide a constant trickle of their respective Elemental Energies into the formation. Though the formation could eventually sustain itself using the Elemental Energy drawn from the void, Vahn was artificially accelerating the process to avoid having to wait around. It was for this purpose that he spent the remaining three-million OP to purchase consumables to help replenish his Source Energy reserves. Even more than the Elemental Energy itself, the more important part of the activation process was ensuring the ‘Laws’ programmed into the Orb were stable…

With less difficulty than he had expected, Vahn ultimately ended up releasing a heavy sigh of relief as he looked down at the now crystal clear Sub-Space Orb. If you looked closely, it was possible to see a flat white plane that represented the floor as, unlike the Sub-Space Orb designed for constant use back in the Hearth Manor, Vahn’s only intention for this particular orb was for training purposes. Though he would still install a bathroom and a large bath, as these were always a ‘necessity’, the rest of the space within the orb was left completely blank. The only thing that broke up the seemingly endless expanse of white were large concentric rings, each interspaced with a 10km distance between each other, that designated the ‘compression’ ratio of Space. Vahn had designed it with no upper limit so, theoretically, it was possible to move away from the center of the Sub-Space Orb until you reached a point where Space became ‘solid’…

As his current comprehension didn’t allow him to fully understand what this phenomenon would be like, Vahn decided he would just have to experience it directly when he got strong enough. The important thing was that he now had a Sub-Space Orb with a dilation ratio of 7:1, a marked improvement from the 6:1 ratio he had managed in his previous world. Fortunately, though his power had been reduced significantly, his understanding of the Laws had only improved with the passage of time. Though he had to adapt his mindset to the ‘logic’ of the Record he inhabited, that was only in-so-far as he was unable to comprehend ‘why’ he couldn’t ignore those rules completely…

Without him noticing when she had arrived, Vahn felt like his subprocess nearly jumped out of his body when Scáthach suddenly asked, “What is this sphere?” Since she had detected that Vahn was no longer focused on his work, Scáthach had wasted no time in appearing at his side once again. As the [Wisdom of the Haunted Ground] was supposed to provide her with all knowledge, she couldn’t help feeling intrigued at things she had no knowledge of, as they simply shouldn’t exist. Though she could recount a time before she knew ‘everything’, down to the microsecond, Scáthach had lost her motivation to care about such things long ago. What she observed of Vahn, however, stirred the small part of her humanity that had never completely faded away, the intrinsic desire to ‘know’ what lays beneath the surface, what made something ‘tick’…

Shaking his head in mild exasperation, Vahn placed his hand on the Sub-Space Orb before plainly stating, “Do as I do…” before vanishing immediately thereafter. Scáthach tilted her head slightly upon seeing this, her expression otherwise unchanged as she placed her palm on the orb and vanished in much the same manner. As there were few things beyond her perception, Scáthach was surprised by her failure to understand how she had been transported. The concepts of Space and Time were very familiar to her but, even as a resident of the Shadow Lands, a dimension that previously existed outside the standard axis of time, the Sub-Space Orb’s structure eluded her.

Though it was almost impossible to tell, given that her expression remained unchanged, Vahn could feel that Scáthach was drawing a ‘blank’ as to how she should react. Using this as an opportunity to lead the conversation in a controllable direction, Vahn explained, “Within this space, time flows seven times faster than on the outside. As to how it works…well, just consider that a secret of mine that I’m not at liberty to disclose. From now on, we will use this place as our training ground so we’re not limited by the constraints of space and time. In order to leave, you need only focus on or say the word ‘Totum’…”

The moment the ‘keyword’ left his lips, Vahn vanished from the Sub-Space Orb in a flash of light that was gone in an instant. Scáthach, upon hearing the word and processing its meaning, also ended up being ejected soon thereafter. Before she could even process her reaction to the event, Scáthach was already back within the basement while Vahn looked towards her with what she saw as a ‘teasing’ smile on his face. This caused realization to flash across her eyes as she began to better understand the nature of her new student. As someone who aspired to master all things, even though she had long felt the task itself mundane and pointless, Scáthach’s thought process began to shift slightly to better facilitate her future interactions with Vahn.

Unaware that he had effectively executed a line of programming within Scáthach’s computer-like thought process, Vahn turned his attention towards the ‘ceiling’ as he said, “I imagine Rin isn’t all that happy to have been denied access to her own basement and workshop. If I don’t make her the cheesecake I had promised her, she’ll probably never let me hear the end of it…” With that said, Vahn began to make his way towards the stairs before ultimately finding his advanced halted as Scáthach placed her hand on his shoulder and said, “Before that, I must ask that you help me replenish my reserves. Though I do not mind others witnessing the process, I imagine it will make things difficult for you if others observe.”

Hearing Scáthach’s words, Vahn internally sighed as his sub-process mind almost immediately imagined more ‘intimate’ acts than she was even implying at the moment. Setting these thoughts aside, Vahn once more cut open his finger, this time saying, “I don’t mind if you drain my blood…just don’t be weird about it…” Even if he was the one that was actually being ‘weird’ about the act, Vahn felt that Scáthach’s behavior wasn’t exactly helping the situation any. She had nearly taken his finger in her mouth again, extending her dainty red tongue in what he felt was an overly seductive manner, so Vahn had spoken without even thinking about the words themselves.

Scáthach just gave an ‘understanding’ nod in response before closing her eyes and placing her lips around the very tip of his finger. Though the suction force was still very powerful, she wasn’t creating additional suction with her tongue this time so it felt significantly less intimate. She also avoided staring back at him with her crimson-red eyes, choosing to keep them closed for the few minutes necessary to completely recover her mana. Upon finishing, she very casually pulled her lips away before giving a small nod and vanishing into particles of mana. This was her way of conveying that she intended to preserve her energy as, with the coming of night, the second day of the Holy Grail War was already upon them…

Vahn found himself looking forward to a hard fight in the evening as, though it hadn’t even been two days since he had sex, there was a lot of tension in his body. Seeing Fenrir and Rin exposed to danger had impacted him quite a bit so, with the combination of Scáthach’s presence and the focus required to produce a Sub-Space Orb, Vahn needed the means to vent. As having sex would only exacerbate the issue, unless he went ‘all-out’, Vahn wanted to fight against a strong enemy to alleviate his building urges. Since Scáthach ended up being far more powerful than expected, he was hoping a capable enemy would appear as, unlike the previous night, he had no intentions of simply hiding in the back. That plan had nearly gotten Fenrir and Rin both seriously injured, with the latter nearly dying, so Vahn had thrown such roundabout methods to the wind…

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With that in mind, Vahn gave one last look at the Sub-Space Orb before placing his palm on a seemingly inconspicuous spot on the wall. This caused all of the runes making of the larger formation to dim slightly as, instead of being clear, the Sub-Space Orb began to radiate a rainbow hue as a thick fog obscured its insides. Vahn wasn’t just going to leave such an advanced piece of ‘Magecraft’ laying around for anyone to have access to. Though the Tohsaka Manor seemed relatively secure, Vahn didn’t believe for a moment that there weren’t more than a few enemies capable of breaking in while they were away.

As the Sub-Space Orb itself was even more advanced than the concept of a Reality Marble, Vahn knew it would cause all of the ‘ancient monsters’ leading the three factions to take action. Now, even if they did gain access to the basement, the only thing touching the orb would accomplish was having nearly all of your mana drained in an instant. Any attempt to force your way inside, or steal the Orb itself, would cause the surrounding formation to reverse the flow of mana, effectively destroying the entire Tohsaka Manor along with the Orb and the surrounding formation. Though Rin would probably go on a tirade as a result, Vahn was confident he would be able to pacify her with a bit of magical knowledge and a few placating gestures…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Focus…’,’BEGONE THOT…!’,’Scáthach is like an advanced AI…be careful, Vahn!’)

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