Chapter 1058: Internal

Vahn didn’t quite know what he should feel as he experienced the ‘punishment’ Scáthach had decided to bestow upon him. Though it was a very troubling matter, he had slowly been growing accustomed to her nature during the previous training sessions. In a way, it felt like he was becoming desensitized to her overtly sexual actions, primarily as a result of how she had no discernable reaction while, at the same time, he was almost certain she would ‘deny’ him if he actually did choose to lay with her. The intent behind her actions seemed to frustrate and egg him on, giving him the motivation to improve even faster in order to ‘take’ what he wanted. It was an extreme method but, more than ever before, Vahn’s realized that his power wasn’t all that impressive compared to the upper limits of this world. The worst part was the fact that he knew this before even descending but, after being given the same classification as some of the strongest forces in this Record, combined with how ‘weak’ geniuses like Rin were, Vahn realized, quite clearly, he had indeed been arrogant and hubristic…

As Scáthach had pointed out, his most base desire was to gain strength in order to protect others, not to show off in front of opponents he rarely cared about. Though playing the part of a tyrant might dissuade some people from trying to attack him, it served no purpose when his repute wasn’t even enough to draw attention in the first place. If the only person he was ‘showing off’ to was one he had either marked for death or recruitment, it was honestly more than a little vain. To make things worse, he even had a somewhat haughty attitude towards his actual companions, initially treating Rin as someone that he could just ‘set aside’ whenever he was ready to move on. Though he had his own reasons, ones which still held some amount of value to him, Vahn knew that he had been acting in a way that might outright cause the girls back at the Hearth Manor to admonish him…

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Without a mouth to sigh, Vahn did so internally as he asked, (“Sis, do you think my mental instability is tied to my overreliance on the [Will of the Emperor]? My convictions seem to fluctuate, sometimes feeling strong enough to be unshakeable…while other times I feel weak and pathetic. Even I can tell that there is ‘something’ wrong with me but I don’t know how to fix it without just ‘letting it go’ as Scáthach puts it…”) Though this wasn’t the first time Vahn had asked Sis such things, yet another sign of his cyclic thought process, he still ‘needed’ to hear her advice. At times like this, Vahn knew he relied more on the perspective of others than his own opinion, almost as if he lacked any real direction and needed the guidance of others to function…

Knowing full well what Vahn wanted to hear, Sis actually chose to remain silent this time as she sorted through his thoughts and tried to make sense of them. While he was genuinely asking her for advice, she could tell that he wanted something ‘different’ from her, something he himself didn’t understand. Since she relied on his thoughts and experiences to rationalize her own thoughts, Sis felt always felt unprepared whenever Vahn would drop bombshell questions that were existential in nature. It wasn’t until she could feel Vahn’s anxiety beginning to grow that she answered, (*It seems that your consideration and empathy for others has caused an overreliance on their input in order o establish a baseline for how you ‘should’ act. I believe the thing that Scáthach wants you to let go of is the expectations of others, acting as you yourself have decided. Even if you make mistakes, so long as it is a decision you decided upon yourself, you will be able to take responsibility and grow as a person. If the mistake is made as a result of someone else’s input, it allows you to shift the blame to them, regardless of what you might say or do to ‘accept’ the blame unto yourself…*)

Hearing Sis’ words, Vahn began reflecting on his past actions to determine their veracity, an action that Sis had performed before him to ‘confirm’ this was the most likely cause of Vahn’s current state of mind. Because he was always worried about others, especially when they started pressuring him with their expectations, he would get overly stressed out trying to act accordingly. Even if everyone around him usually followed his lead, Vahn would constantly be looking towards them for input on what he ‘should’ do. If he just continued forward on the path he decided, the only people that kept following him were those that genuinely sought to stay at his side. As for everyone else, once they realized that Vahn couldn’t be ‘contained’, they would either strive to improve themselves or fall to the wayside. When this happened, however, Vahn would almost immediately stop what he was doing in order to let them catch up with him, constantly increasing the number of people he had to worry about…

While watching Vahn sort through his own thoughts, Sis tried piecing together what decision he was coming through in order to prepare her own response. She could tell that Vahn, once again, seemed to be going through the motions of affirming his resolve based on various justifications he had found within his memories. This gave Sis a strong desire to sigh, as it increased the probability of Vahn having a ‘relapse’ in the future to around 93.172%. Whenever he affirmed his resolve like this, it was almost guaranteed that he would immediately do something ‘extreme’, riding the high of his own actions for a few months before finally coming back down. When that happened, he would start to reflect on ‘what he had become’, often mulling over thoughts that weren’t even directly related to whatever trouble was weighing heavily on his mind. In a way, it was amazing to see how much effort a person could go through to convince themselves something was wrong, even though there was rarely anyone around Vahn that genuinely questioned his decisions…

Deciding to reduce the probability a bit, Sis interrupted Vahn’s thought process, explaining, (*If you want to avoid becoming a polarizing existence, it may be best to follow the lead of Scáthach and work towards achieving ‘balance’ of the heart and mind. Stop acting in an extreme manner and just focus on building yourself up in preparation for whatever challenges you may face in the future. The more unnecessary thought you put into things, the greater the backlash you will experience when facing a setback.*) As she spoke, Sis could feel the probability of Vahn having a relapse fluctuate greatly, nearly reaching one-hundred percent at one point before sharply dropping to 47% in the next. This was another example of how ‘extreme’ Vahn’s shifts could be, something Sis had been seeking a solution to for more than 150 years now…

Feeling that Sis’ words were rather convincing, Vahn gave a mental nod before musing, (“Unless I used a Command Spell, I don’t think Scáthach would show me any leniency. Though it is hard to tell from her rarely changing expression, she seems remarkably dedicated to teaching both Fenrir and myself…”) As Vahn thought of his ‘errant’ Teacher, a feeling of numbness spread through his mind as, currently, she was tracing the sharpest end of his ‘core’ around her navel. She seemed to be considering whether or not to go further, causing Vahn’s brain to buzz in both frustration and expectation. Before Sis’ words, he had been considering whether or not he should test the theory that Scáthach would refuse his advances if he actually did try to have sex with her. Now, he realized this was a little ‘extreme’ and, as everyone back at the Manor was probably worried, it would be best to return home and restart his training anew.

With that in mind, Vahn began to focus on the image of his body, expanding his energy outward to give form to himself once again. He wondered if this was the same as what Fenrir and the others experienced when they went from their core states to their manifested forms. Since he had used his understanding of a magic cores structure when trying to protect himself, Vahn assumed this wasn’t far from the truth. When he had the opportunity in the future, Vahn felt it wouldn’t be a waste of time to pursue this method to an even further extreme, potentially to the point that he could even store his avatars in cores he had structured for himself. Part of him even humored the thought of trying to infuse his own magic core into a piece of weapon or armor to see if his consciousness could be transferred into objects, something that seemed rather simple when he considered the fact that he had just existed as a gemstone for nearly five hours…

When Vahn’s body had complete reformed, he had Scáthach laying below him with her characteristic expressionless gaze focused on him. Since he was naked, Vahn was more than a little tempted to try and get ‘even’ with her for how she had been treating his gemstone while in her possession. Having already decided against this course of action, however, Vahn instead equipped some clothes before rising to his feet and extending a hand to Scáthach. She tilted her head slightly to the side in but, without wasting much time, accepted his assistance in rising to her feet. After this, Vahn looked towards the south and said, “Let us return to the Tohsaka Manor. There are some things I want to look into and we’ll need to restart my training before I lose the sensation from the previous battle.”

As if she hadn’t been ‘playing’ with him for the last couple of hours, Scáthach simply nodded her head in response before vanishing in a flash of magical light. Vahn shook his head lightly as a result before focusing his mind and shifting his intent to the Manor’s interior. He found Astolfo reading a book within Rin’s study while Nobunaga sitting on the roof as she listlessly tapped her foot while an ornate black and gold matchlock rifle lay across her lap. As for Fenrir and Rin, Vahn assumed they were inside of the Sub-Space Orb since he couldn’t detect their presence after looking in both the basement and the workshop.

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Feeling a small urge to tease someone, Vahn settled on appearing next to Nobunaga to see if he could spook her. Contrary to his expectations, however, she simply gave him a mildly annoyed look before using a grey cloth to wipe down her rife as she said, “You’ll need another hundred years if you want to try and startle me. Instead of messing around here, you should go see those two before your pup gets separation anxiety…” Towards the end of her words, Nobunaga held up her rifle with the stock near her cheek as she looked down the sights to make sure they were properly calibrated. Though this was an ultimately pointless action, as the weapons of Heroic Spirits were always in ‘perfect’ condition, it was a habit she had carried over from her past life, a means of calming herself whenever she was bothered by something.

While spooking Nobunaga had certainly been one of his intentions, the reason Vahn had decided upon her was because of her abnormal state. He could tell she wasn’t in the best of moods and, considering the circumstances, he was the most probable cause. Thus, while it was ‘better’ to enter the Orb and begin his training as soon as possible, Vahn instead plopped down next to Nobunaga and asked, “Can I see your rife…?” This caused her to release a long sigh before lowering the rifle and saying, “You really f***** up this time…” with a frustrated grimace on her face. Then, even though it looked like she had something more to say, Nobunaga rather unceremoniously threw her rifle at Vahn before suddenly jumping off the rooftop and landing soundlessly in the garden below.

Seeing the usually confident and snide Nobunaga act in such a way brought Vahn to silence. If not for the cold and heavy rifle in his hands, weighing significantly more than he expected, Vahn might have thought this was an illusion. It was obvious she was more than a little bothered by the fact he had almost died, causing Vahn’s mind to nearly fall into a period of reflection before Sis interrupted, reminding, (“Fenrir and Rin are likely waiting for you within the Sub-Space Orb. You have even more time to reflect after you enter so don’t dawdle for too long, Vahn. Nobunaga is a strong and prideful woman, Vahn. She will recover quickly only her own so, unless you intend to push her, any attempt you make to ‘help’ will probably exacerbate the situation…”)

Though she didn’t say anything explicit, Vahn knew what Sis meant by pushing Nobunaga, causing him to take a deep breath before teleporting into the basement. He was surprised by the realization that he was ‘okay’ with the thought but, understanding there were higher priorities at the moment, Vahn made the decision to return to the Sub-Space Orb. Just as Sis pointed out, Nobunaga wasn’t the type to brood over things so she would undoubtedly recover, likely after watching him get a beating or two. When he was resting later, Vahn decided he would purchase some high-quality sake from the system shop before apologizing in a more meaningful manner. Though the chance things would develop beyond that were slim, at least for the time being, Vahn felt it was better for the both of them if they took whatever was going on between them in a slower and more natural manner…

After placing his hand on the Orb, Vahn felt the world around him shift before he found himself standing next to the small lake he had dug previously. It was a little strange, seeing a pure white ‘hole’ filled with crystal clear water, but it was something he would get used to. What he never seemed to get used to, however, was how Rin was floating on an airbed in the middle of the water, wearing sunglasses to cover her eyes as she lounged about in a red bikini. Vahn could tell she was taking a nap and, as tempting as it was to flip her float, he ultimately decided against it as he looked around for Fenrir’s figure. She had moved a considerable distance away, likely out of consideration for Rin, and was currently training her body in the third level of increased spatial density.

Though Fenrir was simply running around normally, wearing what appeared to be modern spandex, the increased pressure ensured that the training wasn’t pointless. Given how Fenrir’s body was covered in a dense layer of sweat, whilst seemingly on the verge of collapse, it was easy to see that she had been going at it for a while. Vahn almost felt a little apologetic for interrupting but, knowing he would probably get a thrashing from Scáthach soon, now was the only time they would be able to spend together before their training became even more intense.

After taking a few more steps, mostly in an effort to slow her momentum, Fenrir turned her eyes towards her Master as she heaved a few deep breaths in an effort to collect herself. In this time, Vahn walked over to her side before pulling out a white towel, using it to wipe down her face and neck as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This caused Fenrir to adopt a small smile on her face as she closed her eyes and raised her chin slightly to make it easier. It wasn’t until he had finished wiping the fringe of Fenrir’s scalp that Vahn calmly stated, “I lost a battle tonight…” This immediately caused Fenrir’s eyes to snap open but, before she could get too stressed out, Vahn smiled while stroking the sides of her face, explaining, “Don’t worry. In a way, this has been a good experience for me. Now, just like you, I have a much stronger desire to increase my strength…”

Though she was happy for her Master, Fenrir’s heart began beating faster when she heard his words. She already had trouble shortening the distance between them when he wasn’t wholly focused on his training so, if he really did get serious, Fenrir was afraid she would be left even further behind. As this was something Vahn knew she would fret over, he affectionately stroked her head before saying, “You are already doing amazingly, Fenrir. The only thing you need to focus on is increasing your strength to the point that nobody is able to pose a threat to you. Even if I do become stronger, you know better than anyone that I simply can’t leave you behind. While I may be focused on increasing my own strength, I will always be considering methods to help you improve as well. Now, raise your head up…I want to see you smile…”

Since it was far more important to Fenrir that her Master was safe, meaning he needed to be stronger than everyone else, she ultimately lifted her head and did her best to smile as sincerely as possible. Vahn already had one of his own and, after giving her a light peck, Fenrir’s mood instantly improved a bubbly and exciting feeling swelled up from her heart whenever her Master kissed her. When he saw her improved mood, Vahn gave an amused chuckle before giving her a few more gentle kisses to bolster her mood even further. Then, just as Fenrir and Vahn both started to feel a little ‘too’ excited, Scáthach appeared next to them like a phantom, asking, “Are you ready?”

Knowing she had likely timed her appearance in an attempt to make him frustrated, Vahn looked towards Scáthach with slightly dull eyes before giving Fenrir one last kiss, this time on her forehead. The moment he separated from her, Fenrir immediately used [Shundo] to create some distance as, without any delay at all, Scáthach spun towards Vahn, delivering a high kick towards his head. He was actually able to receive it by guarding with his right arm but, with the amount of force behind the blow, Vahn’s balance was still disturbed by the attack. In the next instant, Scáthach was already spinning in the opposite direction as she lowered her body to the ground. Using the momentum of her pivot, she planted her fist squarely within his diaphragm before stepping inward and ‘launching’ Vahn’s body with her fist. In this manner, Vahn’s increased training regimen began, starting with him spitting up a mouthful of blood…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Even Sis is getting tired of Vahn’s s*** xD…’,’Nobu-chama is not happy’,’I feel like Scáthach is like an analogy for ‘life’. The moment you get distracted by happy feelings, she shows up to remind you of your responsibilities (^_^)…’)

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