Chapter 1063: Ally

Without getting the opportunity to investigate the periphery of the Einzbern Forest, Vahn and co returned to the Tohsaka Manor a bit earlier than intended. Their plan would change slightly with the inclusion of Lakshmi, even though the person in question claimed she was okay with being treated as an expendable pawn. Since she was one of the weakest Servants within the group, Lakshmibai seemed to have little confidence that her presence would prove useful in coming battles. At the same time, however, she ‘vowed’ that, if her sacrifice could secure their victory, she wouldn’t hesitate in her duties, even if it was solely to serve as bait to draw out hidden enemies…

Vahn didn’t even know where to start with trying to address Lakshmibai’s character but, once they had all returned to the Sub-Space Orb, this didn’t prevent him from saying, “Now that you are our ally, everyone here will do their best to make sure such sacrifices are never necessary. I’m not fond of such discussion so I’d rather you focus on what you can do in any given moment, not what you ‘ought’ to do according to your presumptions.” Since there were few things that annoyed him as much as people who seemed to be aware of their ‘fate’, especially after Helen, Vahn didn’t like the implications and intent contained within Lakshmibai’s words.

In response to Vahn’s words, Lakshmibai didn’t attempt to argue and instead gave a polite smile as she said, “If that is your will, I shall do my best to abide. However, please prioritize resources on our stronger allies, as supplies should not be squandered unnecessarily. I do not know how you are able to allow all of us to manifest like this, but I imagine it cannot be easy on your body. Please do not overburden yourself on my behalf, Master.” Though she was a Queen(Rani) during her life, Lakshmibai’s long rebellion had long dissolved any unnecessary pride she had in her status. Just as she had referred to Vihaan and Master, regardless of the difference in their age and status, she was unhesitant to refer to Vahn with the same title.

Shaking his head, Vahn plainly stated, “I will not conceal my intentions. The main reason I brought you to our side is that I can sense your ‘fate’ or, more specifically, the misfortune surrounding you. You will come to know my reasons in time, but the most important thing you need to be aware of is that I’m not fond of simply following the flow of seemingly pre-determined events. So long as you are not against it, I intend to research and resolve the aura of misfortune surrounding your body. If I’m able to understand the mechanism that determines if someone has either good or bad fortune, I believe I will be able to help a great many people in the future.”

For a brief moment, Lakshmibai’s face formed a frown when she heard Vahn mention that he had a different reason for bringing her into his fold. When she heard the actual details, however, her impression of him improved slightly, resulting in her giving another polite nod before saying, “As I may not be of much help in the coming battles, assisting in your research is the least I can do. This is not my original body so, even if you treat it a little roughly, I will not begrudge you. All I ask is that you not forget that I am a woman deserving of dignity…” Since her former Master had told her much of the global Magus Community, Lakshmibai expected that some of Vahn’s experiments might put her in ‘compromising’ positions. As she had nearly had to rely on her young Master to supplement her mana, however, Lakshmibai already felt as if she didn’t have much dignity left to cling to…

Failing to restrain a sigh, Vahn internally mused, (“These types are the most troublesome to deal with. Why is it that every woman I interact with seems to automatically assume I’m going to do something inappropriate with their bodies…?”) Though he didn’t directly intend for Sis to answer his question, she quickly explained, (*Women are perceptive creatures, at least when it comes to things like ‘intuition’. From what I can tell, it is the presence of other women around you that is the primary issue. Since you naturally draw others to your side, you become the central focus of almost any group you are a part of. With all of the other women focus on you, it becomes the ‘expectation’ of anyone that shows up after the fact that they are also in your ‘scope’. If you want to avoid exacerbating the situation, it would be necessary to have more male companions at your side. Though you might get stressed out, thinking they will ‘steal’ one of the girls you are interested in, that possessiveness of your’s is actually one of your bigger flaws, Vahn…*)

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Hearing Sis’ words, Vahn was more than a little taken aback, even if he could see the logic behind her claims. It wasn’t a lie to say that his interactions with other men had left something to be desired. Rather than calling his actions ‘possessive’, however, Vahn felt that it would be more accurate to call him overprotective. This was due to the fact that, with very few exceptions, it always felt like men were ‘targeting’ the people close to him. It was the possessiveness and greed he saw in the eyes of others that caused Vahn to almost instinctually ‘scare’ away any potential male allies. He didn’t like seeing how others looked at the girls around him as if they were some kind of trophy, or prize, to be claimed. Back in the Record of Danmachi, there were even some, during his earlier days, who boasted that they would ‘steal’ the girls out from under his nose…

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Vahn noticed everyone was staring at him so he adopted a casual smile before saying, “The first thing I want to try is seeing if your misfortune can be brought to balance through the use of items and equipment. Here, try this on…” Towards the end of his words, Vahn pulled out a small charm that looked like a small rabbit’s foot. It had the effect of increasing a person’s Luck and, though it wasn’t a quantifiable value in the Record of Danmachi, that wasn’t the case in the Nasuverse. What he found interesting was the fact that, even though the lowest parameter value was supposed to be E-Rank, Lakshmibai’s ‘Good Luck]’ had a Value of E-.

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[Status]

Name: [Rani Lakshmibai]

Age: Ageless

Race: Human, Goddess(sealed)

Strength: 40B

Endurance: 43B+

Agility: 42B+

Magical Power: 30C

Good Luck: (-7)E-

Soul Tier: 4 (Fragmented Divine)

Noble Phantasm: [Nahin Denge: B]

Skills: [Blessed by Misfortune:Innate:(-)], [Dawn Echo:Innate:A], [Alaksmi’s Heir:Innate:A], [Charisma of the Rani:Innate:B+], [Assault on Sipahi:B], [Resistance of Gwalior:A], [Magic Resistance: A], [Riding: B], [Goddess’s Divine Core:C], [Marksmanship:C]

Magic: (-)

Magecraft: (-)

[Assault on Sipahi]

Rank: B

Active: Empowers allies for a short period of time at the cost of massive stamina consumption.

[Resistance of Gwalior]

Rank: A

Active: Allows the user and allies to survive otherwise fatal blows with a low probability. Greatly increases the chance of critical blows triggering on self and allies.

[Magic Resistance]

Rank: A

Use: The user’s ability to resist all magic of equal rank and lower. Provides moderate resistance to higher-ranked magics.

[Riding]

Rank: B

Use: The user’s ability to use any type of animal or vehicle as a mount, guaranteeing proficiency equivalent to the skill’s rank and lower.

[Goddess’ Divine Core]

Rank: C

Use: Allows attacks to ignore defense when landing direct blows. Greatly increases resistance to all forms of debuffs.

[Marksmanship]

Rank: C

Use: The user’s ability to use ranged weapons, guaranteeing proficiency with all ranged weapons equal to the skill’s rank and lower.

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It didn’t take much to see how Lakshmibai could be a liability, especially in a group fight where a single unexpected ‘critical’ blow could spell disaster for her allies. Fortunately, it seemed as if the charm Vahn had given her had at least a small impact, modifying her -7 Luck parameter to a positive value of 3. This indicated that the charm could increase a person’s luck by ten which, considering the base limit was 50, was quite a bit more than Vahn had expected. Along with this realization, Vahn’s expression became a mask of lament as he now recognized that he had overlooked one of the easiest methods of increasing his Servants’ strength. Even if there was some arbitrary limitation that made it so that a parameter could only be influenced by a single modifier, there was such a drastic difference between a parameter of 40 and 50 that Vahn felt like a genuine idiot for having ignored it.

Seeing Vahn’s strange expression, Lakshmibai frowned as she asked, “Did something happen…?” This brought Vahn back to his senses, causing him to smile wryly before explaining, “It actually worked without a hitch. Though it might not be much, that charm was able to increase your Luck enough to give it a positive value. Even the aura around your body seems less prominent so the experiment is a complete success…” Before he had even finished his words, Vahn saw the ‘realization’ flash across Rin’s eyes as she almost immediately followed up by asking, “If those trinkets and accessories can increase even a Servant’s parameters, shouldn’t they work on the rest of us as well…?”

Following Rin’s question, and Vahn’s admission, they entered a rather heated discussion where Vahn purchased enough accessories from the system shop to boost everyone’s parameters a marginal amount. Through this, he learned that the +10 was a unique case, the product of Lakshmibai’s horrendous Luck parameter. For higher values, similarly tiered accessories would only give between 1~3 stats, based on the value the parameter was at before being modified. In the example of Scáthach, this increased her Strength from 44->45, her Magical Power from 37->39, and her Good Luck from 20->23. As for her Endurance and Agility, they were already beyond the limitations of the system or had already reached the ‘limit’, leading to no discernible changes.

The person to benefit the most from her brand new accessories was Rin as, with her abysmal parameters, most of her values had increased by more than five. She was the weakest person present and, though she had been working hard to improve, it would take years before she reached the extent of being comparable to something like a Heroic Spirit. Even so, this didn’t stop her from running around at high speeds as she tested the limits of her body under the effects of the accessories. The fact such ‘simple’ ornaments were able to have such a drastic effect had been rather eye-opening for her, as it implied that each of the accessories Vahn could produce were on the level of artifacts that the Mage’s Association would put under heavy lock and key…

——————————————————————-

[Status]

Name: [Rin Tohsaka]

Age: 27

Race: Human, God(sealed)

Strength: 4->9E

Endurance: 6->11D

Agility: 8->13D

Magical Power: 13->16D

Good Luck: 27->29C+

Circuit Quality: 22C

Noble Phantasm: ?

Origin: Divine, Quintessence, Gem

Skills: [Child of Destiny:Innate:C], [Ishtar’s Heir:Innate:(sealed)], [Ereshkigal’s Heir:Innate:(sealed)], [Charisma:D], [Martial Arts:D], [Parallel Thinking:E->D]

Magic: (-)

Magecraft: [Od Conversion:B], [Conversion:A], [Catalyze:B], [Jewel:A], [Reinforce:B], [Mystic Code:D], [Magic Coat:C], [Gandr:C], [Restoration:D], [Familiar:E], [Projection:E], [Alchemy:E->D], [Primordial Rune:E](new)

——————————————————————-

Now that he realized he had overlooked the importance of equipment, to the point that he had pretty much completely ignored his ‘Upgrade’ function, Vahn considered whether or not it would be prudent to focus on forging, crafting, and upgrading items. Before he could linger on such thoughts for long, however, Scáthach, while looking at the small wristlet Vahn had given her, stated, “If you rely on external items to increase your strength, your foundation will be compromised. Though it is fine to use them in order to secure an edge against a difficult opponent, you should never develop the mindset that a piece of equipment represents your actual power.” Just as she had forbidden the use of effigies during training, it didn’t seem as if Scáthach was willing to let Vahn ‘wander’ down a different path when he had the option of improving his base capabilities without relying on external assistance…

As if to emphasize Scáthach’s point, Astolfo, playfully tugging at the choker around his neck, explained, “I can feel this thing draining my mana pretty quickly. It is almost like a tiny Noble Phantasm, ahahaha~.” Since they were items that ‘literally’ increased a person’s parameters, it wasn’t much of a surprise that they were also mana intensive. Though it was almost negligible, there was a big difference between being ‘almost’ and being ‘negligible’. While Rin and Fenrir could get around the issue by using equipment that allowed them to absorb mana from the outside world, Servants were almost entirely reliant on their Master’s to replenish their magical power. This meant, if Vahn wanted to have them use a full load of accessories, he would be required to resupply them with mana far more often than he would have otherwise…

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With his grand ambition of trying to upgrade one of the accessories to an extreme, Vahn stared at the veritable pile of upgrade stones in his Inventory, promising to eventually use them at some point. After that, he looked to Lakshmibai, seeing that she was playing with the tiny rabbit’s foot with a small smile on her face. Upon noticing his gaze, however, she resumed a more stoic disposition before bowing politely as she said, “Thank you for the gift, Master. I will cherish it every time something good happens to me in the future.” As she had been the most aware of her ‘bad luck’, Lakshmibai felt a little fluttery knowing that, while her luck was still abysmal, at least it wasn’t negative any longer.

Seeing the surprisingly genuine glimmer of happiness in Lakshmibai’s eyes, Vahn was a little surprised but ultimately smiled in response before saying, “Don’t mention it. Like I said before, we’re already allies. I’ll do my best to help you out, so don’t think for a moment you are someone that can be disposed of at our convenience. I would no sooner sacrifice you than one of the people closest to me. You’d do well to remember that in the future, Rani of Jhansi.” Using her title to place even more emphasis on his words, Vahn felt gratified when he saw her eyes sharpen with a resolute look in response. After that, Vahn explained a few more ideas he had in mind, even going so far as to transcribe the notes he had taken in regards to Bell’s and Tina’s [Luck] Development Ability. Though such a concept didn’t exist in the Nasuverse, Vahn knew the Laws that governed things like Luck and Fate couldn’t be all that dissimilar…

Leaving Lakshmibai to pour over nearly a dozen research journals, Vahn released a sigh of relief as he considered how best to spend his time. It was at this point, almost as if she were waiting for him to drop his guard, Scáthach appeared like a phantom before saying, “We returned early tonight. You should use the time gained in a productive manner. Do not forget your words to the others, even if you have other matters on your mind. Though you may be trying to change how others pressure you into things, making promises you cannot keep will negatively impact your moral alignment. Women are sensitive to things like promises so you will have to prepare yourself if you intend to renege on your own word.” With that said, Scáthach surprisingly reached out her hand to pat Vahn’s shoulder before adding, “You are quite the man, Vahn. Have confidence in yourself.”

After she had finished her words, Scáthach disappeared from view, leaving Vahn with a stupefied expression on his face. It almost felt like she was implying that he had troubles in the bedroom, something so far removed from the truth that Vahn had to genuinely worry about breaking more ‘normal’ girls. She must have misconstrued his worries as a sign of incompetence, making Vahn’s brain buzz far more than he had expected. It could have been the result of his relationship with Goddesses like Loki, Freya, and Kali, but Vahn had developed a bit of ‘pride’ when it came to nightly relations. Having it suddenly called into question, by Scáthach of all people, made Vahn feel a strong desire to ‘correct’ her misunderstanding. If not for the fact he knew she had likely orchestrated things to cause these exact emotions, there was a very real chance that he would have done just that…

Shaking such negative thoughts from his mind, Vahn looked around to see what everyone else had been up to while he was talking with Lakshmibai. Fenrir was dutifully continuing her training, even though it looked like she was just playing ‘tag’ with Astolfo in one of the areas where the fabric of Space was denser. As for Rin and Nobunaga, the latter was looking bored while sitting at the edge of the lake while Rin was taking a nap on one of the small beds that had been set out. She had been having difficulties adapting to the ‘extra’ seven days that had been added to her schedule. Since he didn’t want to disturb her, Vahn decided it was time to make good on his promise with Nobunaga. The problem was, with the lakeside residence being incomplete, there wasn’t really any place for them to enjoy some private time within the Sub-Space Orb…

Considering that there were still two hours until sunrise, Vahn decided it wouldn’t hurt to leave the orb, even if it meant he ‘lost’ fourteen hours of time. The only other option was to try and purchase something like a [Tent] from the system shop, an item that would create a small barrier that allowed those camping within to avoid the attention of most animals and monsters. This idea made Vahn feel a bit of anxiety, however, as it would be clear to anyone nearby exactly what he and Nobunaga were doing inside of the tent. Even if they wouldn’t be able to see him directly, Vahn felt strangely nervous just thinking about someone like Rin and Fenrir just staring at the tent from a distance…

(A/N: Today is supposed to be my rest day, but I felt like releasing a second chapter. I’m enjoying the Nasuverse more than expected ^_^…)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Sis hittin’ Vahn with that knowledge a lot lately…’,’RIP Upgrade-chan’,’Vahn needs a second Sub-Space Orb to serve as a love nest xD…’)

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