Chapter 1051: Frustration

Without even waiting for ‘Rin’ to create a gap for her to use, Fenrir relied on her keen instincts to navigate the traps surrounding the warehouse before jumping through a window with a dark-blue shroud of mana covering her body. Her priority was eliminating the enemy Master as quickly as possible, only fighting the Servant if they tried to get in her way. Since her Master wanted to recruit Servants, as they were often ‘good’ by virtue of being Heroic Spirits, Fenrir wanted to avoid getting into a battle against a potential ally. At the same time however, she had the contradictory desire that sought out a battle against the enemy Caster, regardless of her Master’s intentions. Fenrir’s instincts told her that most Servants would be drawn to her Master’s charisma and ideals while, at the same time, he would also be interested in their various techniques and abilities. This would decrease the amount of time she got to spend with him as, with numerous Servants proving to be females with strong characters, Fenrir felt it was only a matter of time until she was not the only one sharing her Master’s bed…

With her mind straying a bit, Fenrir stepped on an invisible magic circle that quickly grew to around 5m in size beneath her feet. At the same time, she used [Shundo] to move outside of its effective range a small explosion resounded behind her. This brought her mind to a focused state as her ears set at a 30-degree angle as she bounded through the unexpected labyrinth she had found herself in.

Using her powerful sense of smell and her inherent sensitivity to magic, Fenrir was able to quickly progressed through the corridors using the walls, floor, and ceiling as navigable terrain…

Kicking off a corner, Fenrir bounded to the wall in an extreme display of acrobatics before twisting her body mid-leap as she arced over a purple blade of magical energy that had manifested from the wall. She could feel a few of the hairs from her tail get singed by the blade, causing Fenrir’s eyes to glow with greater intensity as the shroud of mana around her body more than doubled in size. When she landed on the ground at the end of her arc, several magical arrows shot from the wall in an instant before bounding off her aura with a sound similar to metal colliding at his speeds. Then, using the increased defense and speed provided by her activation of [Melodia Bella], Fenrir moved like a blur through the corridors without even relying on [Shundo]. Since activating her shroud at full capacity already ate a lot of mana, Fenrir didn’t want to expend even more just to move around flashily…

After a few minutes of traversing the maze-like structure found within the warehouse, Fenrir eventually felt that she was near the source, leading to her to use a more direct means of attack by cutting through the final few walls instead of going the ‘intended’ route. Upon breaking through, her scarlet eyes reflected a mature woman wearing a lab coat and red-rimmed glasses. The moment Fenrir saw her, especially with her dark purple hair and pale-yellow eyes, she immediately designated the woman as a ‘danger’. As for the other presence within the room, it belonged to a tall man with a slender build and a delicate appearance. He also had a lab coat, much like the woman, but there were several embellishments that made it stand out from the norm. These included a raised collar that extended into a deep v-neck that came to a stop around his navel. Within the fabric, there were black epaulets and small red gemstones that radiated an extreme amount of Magical Power that caused Fenrir’s hairs to stand on end. Unlike most of the annoying men Fenrir had come across, this powerful entity had an aura that wasn’t all that dissimilar from her Master, including an uncealed ‘gentleness’ in his hazel-brown eyes. With his long black hair forming into a braid that rested against his shoulder, even Fenrir felt he was a man who could qualify as ‘beautiful’ according to the standards of normal people…

Though she had been intending to attack immediately after entering the room, Fenrir’s instincts screamed at her to retreat from the very moment the man’s eyes gazed towards her. He had a soft smile on his face as he politely muttered, “Young lady, you should not involve yourself with this matter. Please return…I am not fond of battle…” There was a lot of sincerity in the man’s voice but, apparently not sharing the sentiment, his Master showed an expression of distaste as she exclaimed, “Caster! If you can’t even eliminate enemies that have invaded our territory, how do you plan on helping me secure the Holy Grail!?”

Unlike the gentle and delicate man, the female Magus had eyes that barely contained a glimmer of light, almost as if she held the entire world in contempt. Though she had a shapely figure and a well-structured face, Fenrir could tell she was ‘rotten’ at a glance. As she retreated back through the same hole she had created, Fenrir sent a wave of ice spears towards the woman without a moment’s hesitation. This caused her eyes to widen in shock before, in a manner similar to Rin, she threw out a dark blue gemstone that exploded into a gaseous cloud of mana that instantly evaporated her ice spears. At the same time, the man in the lab coat released a tired sigh before a rather plain but masterfully crafted sword manifested in his hand. From around his body, five ‘flowers’ seemed to bloom into existence before a series of crystallized orbs, each a different color, began orbiting around his body…

As Fenrir used the shortest route, literally cutting a path through the surrounding walls, her mind was abuzz while an agonizing frustration was rising in her heart. The fact she had to flee for a second time made her nose turn sour as her vision was obscured by a developing layer of moisture. She was going through the painful realization that, while she believed herself to be powerful, the absence of her Master in close proximity made any competent enemies too dangerous to fight. Her highest priority was making sure she didn’t end up losing her life, knowing full well it would devastate her Master, so any ‘real’ threats would instantly trigger of fight or flight response. In a way, this was a ‘shadow’ that had been carved deeply into Fenrir’s mind as a result of her Master’s overprotective nature…

After cutting her way through the last wall, Fenrir immediately ascended to the sky by creating several footholds in a zig-zag pattern. Then, with tears building at the corner of her eyes, she shouted at the top of her lungs, “Master, give me strength…!” Following this, several magic circles began to form around Fenrir before she layered them together in front of her body and began chanting, “Heed the Contract and Serve me, oh Queen of Ice! Come, Unending-” Without being afforded the opportunity to complete her chant, Fenrir crossed her arms in front of her body as a blue beam of pure Magical Energy slammed into her body, destroying her multi-layered magic circle in the process. Though she ultimately emerged unscathed, Fenrir’s eyes were now bright enough to obscure the features of her face as they created long trailing arcs as she moved at a speed far greater than what she could manage indoors…

Though it was difficult to tell, due to how quickly she was moving, Fenrir had a far more feral appearance than normal as her hair spiked outwards in a wild and chaotic fashion. Even her mouth, which looked small and delicate in normal situations, had ‘stretched’ in a wide and uncanny manner as her teeth formed sharp and angular protrusions. As she dodged around, evading a series of magical beams targetting her, Fenrir was maxing full use of her agility as she vaulted around, twisting her body and even moving on all fours at times. Instead of trying to create more distance, however, her aggressive movements were taking her closer to the warehouse she had only recently escaped.

As Fenrir neared the building once again, several figures seemed to manifest from the walls themselves, each having vaguely humanoid appearances with a clay-like structure. They were wielding swords and spears of the same material as they threw themselves into Fenrir’s path without any semblance of self-preservation instincts. Fenrir didn’t even put any of these entities in her eyes, tearing through them with extreme ease as their weapons broke apart after striking her chaotically flaring mana shroud. They were, however, slowing her down a great deal since there seemed to be a night infinite number of enemies to replace those she struck down…

Slowly but surely, the warehouse began to change shape as it seemed to be using the materials used in the production of the labyrinth to create the golem-like entities blocking Fenrir’s path. To make matters even worse, every enemy she struck down seemed to melt into the ground before reforming as a completed golem moments later. Vahn was watching all of this transpire from a much closer distance than he had previously stood. A few hundred meters away, Ishtar had also stopped curling up on her bow like a cat, deciding instead to channel a truly phenomenal amount of mana from the atmosphere. She hadn’t attacked yet, but it was easy to see that she was preparing to annihilate the entire warehouse when Fenrir was no longer in the target zone…

Seeing Fenrir tear through what should have been her two-hundredth golem, Vahn released a tired sigh since she seemed to quickly be losing her rationality. She was no longer even heading deeper into the warehouse, choosing to instead tear apart each new golem that appeared as if she had a personal grudge against them. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that, instead of using up her internal reserves, Fenrir actually seemed to be getting stronger as the fight progressed. The [Spirit Choker] around her neck seemed to have kicked into high-gear, indicating that she was using the active ability in her berserk state…

Deciding it would be best for Fenrir to tucker herself out, Vahn was watching the fight closely as he wondered why the enemy Servant wasn’t trying to attack using more direct means. Other than the seemingly infinite stream of relatively weak golems, neither Master nor Servant had appeared to put pressure on Fenrir. If they combined powerful Magecraft with the constant waves of golems, it wouldn’t be that difficult to take down Fenrir in her enraged state. This indicated that their enemy was either the type to exercise extreme caution against during battle or that they were simply trying to chase off Fenrir without killing her…

Though there were ‘exceptions’, the Holy Grail primarily summoned Heroic Spirits that were either ‘good’ or ‘neutral’ in their moral alignment. It would sometimes allow for what Rin referred to as Anti-Heroes and, in even rarer cases, actual Villains, but these were extremely uncommon. This was the reason why Vahn would rather recruit the Servants as even those who performed ‘evil’ deeds often did so because their Master forced them to act with a Command Spell. If not for the forced compulsion of the Command Spells, there was no way to force someone like Scáthach to harvest the life energy from nearly two-hundred people. It was the existence of this kind of system, almost completely centered around the selfish greed of a few errant Mages, that fueled Rin’s and Lord El-Melloi II’s desire to abolish the entire ritual…

With her extreme energy expenditure, Fenrir eventually started to slow down after fighting for around twenty minutes. At this point, the entire battlefield had become a frozen wasteland while the warehouse, previously appearing like a normal building, now formed a multi-layered dome that would repair any damage it sustained almost instantly. Though Fenrir would undoubtedly be able to break through it in a calmer state of mind, she had reached the point where the hair on her head now extended to the small of her back while, on her arms and legs, it now nearly covered the entire limb. This was a state Vahn had never observed before, especially with how Fenrir’s ‘adorable’ appearance had morphed into a maddened visage as she stopped using her claws and began biting through the enemies as part of an instinctual effort to replenish her reserves…

Realizing that Fenrir would probably ‘never’ stop fighting in her current state, Vahn’s expression revealed complex emotions as he sent an order, directly telling Fenrir, (“Fall back. Focus on retreating to a safe area and let your energy deplete..”) This immediately caused Fenrir to ‘freeze’ after just tearing apart a golem, a huge chunk of its head hanging from her mouth. Within Vahn’s Unit Management, he could see Fenrir’s Loyalty drop by a few hundred points but, compared to the billions she possessed, the was only a drop in a vast ocean. When the value stopped decreasing, Fenrir immediately stopped her endless slaughter as she moved like a phantom, apparently determining the ‘safest’ area was at his side since she was moving toward him like a homing missile.

Vahn habitually opened his arms, just as Fenrir tackled him with enough force to trigger his ‘nullification’. The fact she collided against a seemingly immovable wall didn’t deter Fenrir, however, as she began panting like an animal out of breath while tightly clinging to his body. Vahn pulled her into a tight embrace and began to gently stroke her bristly fur to help her calm down. Her eyes were glowing so intensely that, even when she blinked, the vibrancy could be seen through her eyelids. In order to expedite the process, Vahn used another ‘order’ to say, “Calm down…sleep…I’m here…” This caused another drop in Fenrir’s Loyalty value as her eyes began to dim before finally losing their light, coinciding with Fenrir fading into a deep state of unconsciousness…

Near the same time that Fenrir had passed out, Vahn felt a pulse pass through his body that even caused his instincts to signal danger so he immediately moved back just as a massive purple explosion expanded outward, the small dome at the very center of its focus. Ishtar had ascended high into the sky before releasing a single arrow which, like a small-scale nuclear explosion, caused a massive shockwave to spread out faster than the speed of sound. Fortunately, though Vahn wasn’t sure of the principle behind it, the energy seemed to bend curve upwards after spreading 500m, forming what appeared to be a deep purple sun that lit up the entire city with its radiance…

As Vahn stared at the devastation with a blank expression, Ishtar slowly descended next to him, having resumed using her bow as a perch as she lazily watched the ‘sun’ continue to burn alongside him. Though Vahn felt it was overkill in the extreme, as there was no way such devastation could be covered up under normal circumstances, Ishtar seemed to enjoy the result of her attack as she hummed a happy tune. It wasn’t until nearly three minutes had passed that the explosion began to flicker out of existence, leaving an almost perfectly spherical crater that would have caused Vahn to facepalm if not for the fact that, the only ‘blemish’ within the crater was a crystalline sphere that had undoubtedly been formed by their enemy…

Seeing that her attack fail, even though it easily fit the classification of an ‘Anti-Mountain’ grade attack, Ishtar’s expression turned into a pout as she slid off her bow and prepared to fire a second volley. This time, however, Vahn held up his hand to stop her, saying, “Large-scale attacks like this are too high-profile, Ishtar. For now, we’ll pull back and recuperate…this doesn’t seem like an enemy who will go out of their way to counterattack. Since we don’t know the limit of their abilities, it is safer to pull back and strategize…” Though Vahn felt he could probably break through the pristine blue crystalline structure, he didn’t feel like the Caster within the sphere was an enemy. If possible, he wanted to recruit them to his side as they would undoubtedly prove to be a powerful ally with this level of defense…

With her expression still forming an admittedly adorable pout, Ishtar flew over to his side before ‘casually’ wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her breasts into his upper back. With her lips right next to his ear, she complained, “We’ll fall back, but only if you promise to give us a reward when we return…we went all out in our attack to try and avenge your little playmate. Don’t we deserve at least some gratitude~?” At the end of her question, Ishtar gently bit the tip of Vahn’s ear before tracing her tongue along its curve. Vahn moved his head to the side but, as if gravity and momentum didn’t apply to her, Ishtar moved smoothly with the motion before giggling as she tried to lick the inside of his ear.

Feeling a little annoyed at Ishtar’s behavior, Vahn was about to reprimand her but, before the words could form on his lips, she spontaneously stopped as they both watched as the ground had started repairing itself at a rate visible to the naked eye. Almost as if time was being reversed, the ground began to fill itself in as soil and gravel quickly formed a foundation to support the various pipes which formed to replace the damaged sewer system and underground substructure of the surrounding area. Even complex components, such as electrical cables and brass pipes were not exempt from the large-scale restorative Magecraft. Though it would obviously take a bit of time, Vahn estimated the damage would have been completely repaired in less than two hours…

Seeing this, Vahn was absolutely certain that the Caster-Servant within the crystalline sphere was not a ‘real’ enemy. With the trend of other Servants he had seen, there was a good chance they may not even harbor the intention to obtain the Holy Grail. Though their Master was obviously of a different mindset, they didn’t seem ‘foolish’ enough to waste their Command Spells to compel their already powerful Servant to do their bidding, at least in a way that would expose themselves to danger. If the Caster-Servant was sensitive to the surroundings, they would have informed their Master of the several powerful presences within the area, especially since Ishtar made no effort to conceal herself. Her presence was proud and haughty, even though her nature had been changed greatly by the [Page of the Akashic Tome]. It was almost like she ‘needed’ to be seen which, considering she was a Goddess of Beauty, may very well be the case…

Holding Fenrir in a princess carry, Vahn surprised Ishtar a bit as he also began to ascend into the sky while she was still clinging to him. Though he couldn’t fly for extended periods of time, it wasn’t a great distance to the Tohsaka Manor from their current location. At this point, Vahn had no doubt that most of the enemy Master’s knew their identities as, even though Ishtar’s appearance had a few differences, she looked almost identical to Rin. As one of the ‘main contenders’ for the Holy Grail, Vahn didn’t fool himself into believing their enemies weren’t aware of her appearance. However, after seeing the devastation of Rin’s attack, the odds of anyone going out of their way to target here were slim, albeit not negligible.

Deciding to play it ‘safe’, Vahn did take a few detours before finally arriving back at the Tohsaka Manor via spatial teleportation. It took a heavy toll on his reserves to move three people but, considering the sun would be rising relatively soon, Vahn had more than enough time to recuperate within the Sub-Space Orb. With that thought in mind, Vahn wasted no time in entering the basement while still carrying Fenrir’s now ‘normal’ figure in his arms. Ishtar had stopped clinging to him earlier but, now that they were indoors, she deigned to place her feet on the ground as she curiously inspected the formation he had created earlier in the day.

Soon after Vahn had deactivated the trap component of the formation, Scáthach and Nobunaga both appeared nearly simultaneously. They actually hadn’t been able to enter the basement, even in their Spirit forms, as the formation was nigh-impregnable, even in an immaterial state. The only ways to get inside were through the door leading to the basement or from Rin’s workshop.

Nobunaga seemed more than a little surprised by the complex formation covering all the walls but, before she could inquire about its purpose, Ishtar had suddenly appeared at her side. She was about to say a teasing remark but, long before the words formed on her lips, Ishtar showed a ‘radiant’ smile before slapping Nobunaga hard enough to create a loud and audible smack. This caused Nobunaga to take a few steps back as she rubbed her cheek, eyes formed into a fierce glare as she exclaimed, “What the hell was that for!?” In response to this, Ishtar crossed her arms in a huff before stating, “This Goddess has never desired to lay with a woman before. Even if it was only our vessel, you still defiled this Goddess’ body with your greedy hands. We were going to let it go, out of respect for our kin, but, now that you have declared War upon us, do not expect any leniency…!”

Though she was bothered by Ishtar’s words at first, Nobunaga’s eyes widened a bit when the Goddess unceremoniously mentioned the matter of ‘War’. For one of the few times in her life, Nobunaga felt her heart palpitate a few times as she found herself at a complete loss for words. Fortunately, Scáthach intervened at the best moment, emotionlessly stating, “Do not fight amongst yourselves. The transition to Dawn, just as you begin to drop your guard, is the most dangerous interval during the Holy Grail War. I will not stop you from settling your differences, but I will not tolerate your behavior when there is an actual war going on outside.”

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Ishtar frowned deeply when she heard Scáthach’s words but, realizing there was truth contained within, she gave Nobunaga one last glare before closing her eyes. Vahn noticed this, pulling out a cloak in a single swift motion and placing around Isthar’s shoulders just as her raiment dissolved into nothingness. When her eyes opened, they had transitioned into an aqua-blue color, indicating that Rin was now in the driver’s seat. Seeing that Vahn had used his telekinesis to support Fenrir’s body in order to put a cloak around her body, Rin’s expression formed into a surprisingly shy smile as her cheeks quickly became suffused with a ruddy glow. She knew that Ishtar had, for lack of a better phrase, ‘thrown her under the bus’ in the heat of the moment so Vahn’s care felt especially touching at the moment. Even though she was normally very intelligent, Rin had failed to realize that this was just one of the ways in which Ishtar intended to get small victories in the ongoing war for Vahn’s affection…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: “Shaaaaaa~!!! You interrupt Fenrir!?’,’Ishtar still has a few character flaws…’,’The war has already begun (>,…,<)~!’)

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