With night descending upon the outside world, Vahn was discussing the evening’s plans with Rin. As he had expected, she was busy gathering information, including the troubling news that more than a handful of normal humans had been simply ‘disappearing’ lately. Since the disappearances had been taking place all over the city, it was difficult to pin the incident on any specific Servant. In order to find and deal with whoever was responsible, Rin suggested investigating some of the areas where people had disappeared before tracking down the Master or Servant responsible. Though Vahn was still of the mindset of trying to find and recruit Paracelsus, he didn’t mind going along with Rin’s plan as, at least for the time being, he had no leads on the former’s location.
When it came time to ‘allocate’ their forces, Vahn had taken lead by suggesting, “Rin, I want you to see if Ereshkigal is willing to take to the battlefield tonight. If you can get her permission, we’ll split into two groups with Fenrir, Astolfo, Nobunaga, and her in the ‘search’ group. I’ll-.” Vahn only got around this far before Nobunaga, who had been sitting quietly at the side immediately answered, “No. You can have Scáthach take the lead in the search party. Rin can transform into Ishtar and provided ranged fire from the sky. I’m going to follow you tonight, unless, of course, you’re willing to force me to obey with a Command Spell.”
Hearing Nobunaga’s impromptu changing of his plans, Vahn couldn’t help but frown slightly but, before he was able to rebuff her, Scáthach added, “I will go with the first group. Rin and I have already discussed Ereshkigal’s capabilities. She is far better suited to defensive battles and would provide few benefits to her allies. I can use my [Primordial Rune] magic to increase everyone’s offense, defense, and, if necessary, tend to wounds. Fenrir and I will take to the frontlines while Rin, Ishtar, and Astolfo will provide support on an as-needed basis. Master, you and Nobunaga should focus on collecting information and trying to track down Paracelsus. It is unwise to try and involve yourself in large-scale battles every night as it will draw too much attention to our group during the recess periods of the War.”
Anything Vahn wanted to say failed to reach his lips after hearing Scáthach’s words as, alongside Nobunaga giving a nod of approval, nobody else seemed to have any arguments to make. Rin even added, “Ereshkigal said she would be better suited to protecting the Manor, not fighting in enemy territory. As for Ishtar…she said she is willing to help track down the enemy in exchange for a ‘reward’ later on. So long as she understands what she is searching for, she says she can locate anything under the Heavens that isn’t obscured by a powerful concealment spell.” This was a bit of a bombshell drop from Rin, causing Vahn to black for a brief moment before asking, “Can she tell us where Paracelsus is…?”
In response to Vahn’s question, Rin closed her eyes for several moments, her cheeks turning slightly red in the process. When she opened her eyes, she seemed somewhat hesitant to speak, answering, “She said…it should be possible…” As it didn’t take a powerful intuition to see that Ishtar had made some ‘demands’ of her own, Vahn’s face formed the semblance of a wry smile as he calmly asked, “And, what would she like in exchange for her assistance…?” This question only causes Rin’s face to become a deeper shade of red as she shook her head, apparently unwilling to answer. Unfortunately, Ishtar didn’t seem to be in an agreeable mood as, shortly thereafter, Rin’s eyes drooped before her hair gained a purple hue, followed by her previous outfit dissolving away to allow Ishtar’s raiment to form in its stead.
Since they were not indoors, Ishtar elevated off of the small sofa Rin had been sitting on before hoving towards Vahn as she explained, “You have been traipsing about and training almost every day. Since our first night together, you have not shown us the attention we are deserving. In exchange for our help, you will tend to the three of us until we are completely satisfied…” At this point, Ishtar was hovering directly in front of Vahn, bent over at the waist with her face only a few centimeters separate from his own.
Instead of being afforded the opportunity to answer on his own, Scáthach was the one to say, “That is a good idea. Though there is nothing wrong with training seriously, it is important to build rapport with your allies. This place provides you the unique opportunity to make the most of your time between battles. In order to avoid having any kind of regrets, you should spend more time with the people you care about, Vahn.” As she was saying these things, Scáthach alternated her gaze between Ishtar and Fenrir before, lastly, casting a glance at Nobunaga. Though it was only for a very brief moment, it was enough to convey Scáthach’s intentions clearly. She knew full-well why Nobunaga had wanted to partner up with Vahn for the evening and, with how she had been acting during the last few days, Vahn wasn’t oblivious either…
Ishtar seemed satisfied with Scáthach’s arrangement, giggling happily as she said, “Then we’ll make a sport of it. Whoever is able to earn the most merit will-.” This was where Vahn decided to draw the line, shaking his head to interrupt Ishtar’s words before saying, “Listen, Ishtar. I’m not some prize to be won, nor am I reward to be obtained. If this were a more peaceful time, that kind of thing might be okay. Right now, we’re involved in an ever-escalating war. If people lose their focus by treating this even like a game, the chances of someone getting hurt in the process are unnecessarily increased. I would rather ‘reward’ everyone for coming back safely than exchange my affections as some prize you can arbitrarily decide to obtain at a whim…”
As it didn’t take much of an imagination to imagine Fenrir or Nobunaga doing something ‘foolish’ in order to ‘win’ the prize Ishtar was talking about, Vahn wanted to nip that thought in the bud from the start. Since it was obvious what their desires were, he would take it upon himself to ‘rewrad’ them at his leisure, not when they decided he was available. Since it had indeed been a while since he spent time with Rin, Vahn had no problems tending to her needs when they returned. As for Fenrir and Nobunaga, the former was a foregone conclusion while, so long as she didn’t try to antagonize him in order to rile him up, Vahn didn’t mind pacifying whatever urges had been building within Nobunaga over the past two weeks.
Without missing a step, Scáthach gave an approving nod at the end of Vahn’s statement, adding, “That is how it should be. One of your biggest problems is that you are constantly thinking about meeting the expectations of others. However, if you only wait for them to make the intentions known, you will lose the initiative and feel pressured. In order to avoid falling into a self-destructive cycle, you should be more resolute in your relationships with others. Even if things don’t work out, that is the fault of both parties, not just your own. If a relationship involves one side ‘giving’ more than the other, it is an unhealthy relationship that is fated to end prematurely.”
This time, Scáthach’s words had the apparent effect of a bombshell as Ishtar, Fenrir, and Nobunaga all showed dour expressions in response. The only one with a different expression was Astolfo who, for the last few minutes, was awkwardly smiling at the side as he suddenly felt like an outsider who had no place in the current conversation. Though he honestly wouldn’t mind having some of Vahn’s affections for himself, Astolfo knew the chances of such a thing happening were infinitely close to zero. Unless he accepted Vahn’s offer to become a female, a thought that actually made him feel a little giddy, it might be for the best if he avoids the Sub-Space Orb when they return in the morning.
With Vahn’s and Scáthach’s words bringing an end to the discussion, they spent another half hour or so fleshing out their plans for the evening before finally returning to the outside world. As had been discussed, Scáthach, Fenrir, Ishtar, and Astolfo would be part of the group investigating the Master-Servant pair responsible for the disappearances within the City. Vahn and Nobunaga would be exploring the periphery of the City and investigating any areas of interest, especially in low-population zones. At the same time, however, Vahn had a secret objective which, after everyone left, he turned to Nobunaga to explain, “We’ll be investigating the Einzbern Forest tonight. My intuition tells me there is ‘something’ there…something I should have looked into long ago…”
Nobunaga formed a sly smile on her face in response to his words, saying, “Oho, I knew you were up to something. You really don’t learn, do you? Just ‘one’ night after nearly losing your life, you send everyone else away to go face the more serious threats on your own. That’s why you wanted that purple-monster to come with you, huh, so she could clean up after your mess if things went south?”
Never being the type to mix her words, Nobunaga didn’t miss the opportunity to throw accusations and insults now that she and Vahn were alone. After all, the fact she had been one of the people he had tried to send off caused her to feel more than a little annoyed. She was his summoned Servant and, even if they didn’t have the normal Master-Servant relationship, the fact he relied more on one he had obtained from an enemy bothered her…
Hearing Nobunaga’s words, Vahn looked into her blood-red eyes, falling silent for several seconds before asking, “You’ve been seeing more of my memories, haven’t you? That’s why you’ve changed so much in the last two weeks…” This was less of a question than a statement, as Sis made him aware of the when and what Nobunaga was allowed to see. Because of how busy he had been, Vahn hadn’t put much thought into how Nobunaga would react to his memories but, now that they were alone like this, he realized she had been affected more than he thought. His near-death experience had hit her surprisingly hard, to the point that she only began to return to her normal self in the last 2~3 days within the Orb.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Nobunaga kept eye contact with Vahn as she answered, “I saw everything, all the way up until the moment you were forced to leave your world. I never expected you to be the cowardly type, Vahn…” Though she didn’t mean these words, Nobunaga was feeling a little nervous with Vahn staring down at her. She was only around 153cm tall at the moment so Vahn cast a large shadow over her with his 185cm tall frame. This would have never intimidated her in the past, but Nobunaga’s perspective had ‘shifted’ a great deal after she saw the types of enemies Vahn had faced within the dream. His battles with Heracles and Achron had been at a level beyond anything she had even thought possible previously, opening Nobunaga’s eyes to the fact that she was much weaker than she arrogantly believed herself to be.
Ignoring Nobunaga’s hurtful barb, Vahn was quickly beginning to understand what must have been going through her mind the past few days. Since she was his summoned Servant, it undoubtedly bothered her a great deal knowing that she was ‘effectively useless’ against the stronger enemies in the Holy Grail War. Even if she had been present during the battle with Ozymandias, it was almost guaranteed that Nobunaga would have lost her life to his Noble Phantasm. Now, seemingly in an effort to prevent him from doing something dangerous a second time, Nobunaga was choosing to stay close to him so he would have to take more measured action to avoid endangering her. This was something completely contrary to her character, as Nobunaga was the exact type to throw herself at enemies without thinking excessively, so it was easy to see why she had been frustrated…
As appreciative as he was of Nobunaga’s concerns, Vahn’s expression turned resolute as he asked, “You know what I desire, don’t you…?” To this, Nobunaga’s own expression hardened as she answered, “You seek a strength beyond comprehension in order to protect the things you care about…and, because you’re an idiot, you care about too many things. Even in a world far removed from your own, you can’t but throw yourself headfirst into a situation that, otherwise, has nothing to do with you. The moment you begin to feel even the smallest amount of pity and empathy, you begin dedicating yourself to ‘fixing’ whatever you think is broken…it is frustrating…”
Vahn nodded his head, understanding the true meaning behind Nobunaga’s words as he muttered, “Yes, not having the power to help the people you care about is indeed frustrating…to think that I would have the Great Demon King herself worrying about my safety.” These words didn’t seem to sit well with Nobunaga as her faced immediately formed into a scowl. Before she could say anything, however, her words got stuck in her throat as Vahn casually reached out and poked her left breast through her military-style blouse. Immediately following this, Vahn smiled as he explained, “You have a lot of heart, Nobunaga, one that is far too big for its own good. Just like me, you try to take on the burdens of others and guide them towards a better future. When all of this is over…would you like to join me in ‘conquering’ this world…?”
Nobunaga’s expression changed from confusion to melancholy after hearing Vahn’s words, shaking her head as she said, “Even if you can keep me anchored to this world after the Holy Grail War comes to an end, it is unlikely I would be able to help you. Without the governance of the Grail, the upkeep cost for even a single Servant is greater than most Mages can manage. Since I’m certain you’ll be wanting to keep around Scáthach, Paracelsus, and Astolfo, I’d rather save myself the frustration of being a liability that will prevent you from focusing on what is more important…” Towards the end of her words, Nobunaga removed the glove of her right hand before placing overtop Vahn’s, adding, “Even if I will forget everything, I am content just having some of your affections to myself while I’m still here. That’s why I need to make sure your stupid ass doesn’t end up keeling over before I can sample the goods…shishishishi~.” At the very end of her statement, Nobunaga pulled Vahn’s hand forward so that he was no longer poking her breast, but grabbing it in his palm.
Vahn felt a bit of tenderness from Nobunaga’s actions, especially when considering the rather selfless words she had spoken previously. She was essentially saying she would give up her ability to stay within this world to others, knowing full well her memories would be wiped after she vanishes from the world. Even if she were summoned in another Holy Grail War in the far future, or perhaps in a variable timeline, the memories they forged together would no longer remain. Though he had known this from the start, Vahn now found this reality unacceptable so, even if Nobunaga didn’t seek it herself, he had, at this very moment, decided to take matters into his own hands. With that thought in mind, Vahn placed a bit of force into his right hand before sending a few threads of Source Energy into Nobunaga’s chest, causing her to startle before instinctually pulling away.
Finding her reaction cute, Vahn smiled affecionately as he said, “I still intend to search around the Einzbern Forest, but we’ll just stick to the periphery instead of probing deeper within. Though we shouldn’t rush, we can either head back to the Manor early or find a place to relax while waiting for the others to return. I would almost suggest we go into the Sub-Space Orb together, but I don’t want to be cut off from the outside world in the vent something happens…” While thinking he should make the most of what Nobunaga considered her final few days within this world, Vahn was also considering the possibility something could go wrong while he was distracted. He didn’t mind pampering this supposed Demon King for a bit before surprising her later on by disallowing her to ‘escape’ his grasp so easily…
Feeling the possessiveness in Vahn’s gaze, Nobunaga frowned before cautioning, “Don’t think I’m some maiden you can just do with as you please, Vahn. I’ve seen some of the s*** you pulled on girls in your past. The moment you try something like that on me, I’ll cut it off. Even if it grows back, I’ll make sure you never forget to afford me the basic dignities of a woman.” Though she had a brash and overbearing nature by default, Nobunaga’s views, while open-minded, were a bit on the traditional side. She was fond of the idea of simply enjoying the company of the person you held affections for, not engaging in excessive carnality. Since she had no confidence in being able to resist Vahn’s [Hands of Nirvana], she wanted to make it clear from the start that she wasn’t to be trifled with at his leisure.
Knowing she had misunderstood his intentions, Vahn gave an ‘understanding’ nod in response to Nobunaga’s demands. He knew better than anyone that he had been a little ‘extreme’ in some of his past relationships so, unless it was something they themselves sought, Vahn had no desire to test the limits of his lovers in the future. It was far more interesting to simply tease them a bit, as there were always feelings of guilt whenever he pushed someone beyond their limits, even a little. Loki and Anubis had helped to curb this habit of his while Lefiya and Fenrir had taught Vahn how to treat women delicately, even when they proactively sought to be pushed. The woman with the biggest influence, however, was Eina as, up until the very end, she and Vahn only ever had very gentle and loving sex with each other…
With the sun already set beyond the horizon, Vahn knew he and Nobunaga shouldn’t keep idling around talking about topics that were better discussed in private. Since she was keeping a short distance away from him, Vahn decided against trying to tease her again as he looked towards the south and said, “We’ll start from the southern mouth of the Mion River, following its flow for a few kilometers outside of the city. Since the others should be searching around the northeast, we’ll work our way towards them by passing through the rural districts on the outskirts of the city. Depending on the situation, we may join with them for a short while before making our way to the Einzbern Forest in the west. All-in-all, it shouldn’t take us more than five hours to complete a full circle so we’ll have plenty of time to talk about these kinds of things when we double back to the Manor.”
Seeing Nobunaga nod her head in agreement, Vahn smiled somewhat mischievously before closing the distance between them. Nobunaga stood her ground, refusing to back down even though her face formed a frown. Before she could ask what he was up to, Vahn brought his index finger to his mouth, biting into it hard enough to draw blood. His resistance didn’t apply to any self-inflicted wounds so it didn’t take much force before a steady flow of blood began dripping from his finger. This was enough for Nobunaga to understand his intentions, causing her heart to beat rapidly in her chest, even though her expression remained dour. Then, as Vahn held his hand out toward her, Nobunaga took things even further, attempting to bite him even harder in retaliation.
Unlike Vahn, however, she felt like her teeth were trying to bite through granite so, after failing for a few seconds, Nobunaga eventually snorted through her nose before vigorously sucking his blood. At the same time, her height began to slowly increase until, around seven minutes later, Nobunaga reached 161cm tall and had the appearance of a woman in her mid-twenties. Since her clothing didn’t change to match her size, unless she did so manually, her military-style garb now strained under the sizable mounds that were on the verge of snapping Nobunaga’s bra. When she finally released his fingers, Vahn saw that they were slightly pruned from her rather forceful suction, causing him to lightly chuckle as they quickly returned to normal, Then, before they set out into the night, Vahn lightly spanked Nobunaga’s now plump backside, startling her into anger as she watched his figure vanish like a phantom…
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Vahn be like, “You think this is a game!?”‘,’Nobunaga’s self-awareness…’,’Vahn will forever be an ass-man. I blame Hephaestus and Tsubaki (UwU)…’)
(A/N: The link depicting Nobunaga’s mature form can be found in the comment’s section.)
https://bit.ly/2XBzAYu <-(p.atreon link)
Discord Invite: https://discord.gg/mn5xMbE