Chapter 1066: Rush

Though it had only been a few minutes since he had parted with Nobunaga, more than an hour had passed within the Sub Space Orb in that same span of time. By the time Vahn finally appeared, he immediately sensed several gazes shift towards him for a brief moment. At the same time, as she was ought to do, Scáthach appeared right next to him with her characteristic expressionless face. Before she could say anything, Vahn held up his hand to silence her, explaining, “I already have my own thoughts on the matter. I’m not going to force the issue on anyone who is unwilling, regardless of whether or not it is the most ‘efficient’ method to guarantee victory.”

Since he fully expected Scáthach to try and force the issue by pressuring the other Servants, Vahn wanted to make it clear from the start that he wouldn’t accept such methods. In response to his words, Scáthach nodded her head in understanding before saying, “I understand. Victory is often not as important as the means used to obtain it. If you were willing to compromise your own integrity and morals so easily, people wouldn’t be willing to follow you. I will respect your decision on the matter, Vahn. Know, however, that I would prefer being able to operate at my full potential for the coming battles…” With that said, Scáthach squinted her eyes pointedly before vanishing from sight once again.

Seeing Scáthach vanish, Vahn was a little surprised, not that she didn’t try to convince him to take action, but because she didn’t immediately pull him aside for training. With this, it was easy to see that Scáthach was giving him the opportunity to interact with the others before she began beating him once again. To that end, Vahn made it way over to where Rin was sitting at a wooden desk, pouring over several stacks of documents related to [Primordial Runes]. She lacked the natural talent to understand the startling complexity of the relatively simple-looking runes so Rin had taken a lot of notes regarding everything Scáthach had taught her. Even if it took her a bit of time, she was determined to master the unique form of Magecraft so she could incorporate it into her own [Jewel] Magecraft.

Having been one of the gazes directed towards Vahn shortly after his entry into the Orb, Rin wasn’t surprised by his presence, causing her to release a tired sigh as she placed down her pen. Before Vahn could even greet her, Rin looked up at him with her aqua-blue eyes, asking, “What is our current relationship, Vahn?” Even with Scáthach trying to ‘help’ guide her towards an answer, Rin simply couldn’t put the matter aside and just ‘accept’ the way things were. She had no expectation that she would be able to reign Vahn in, but that didn’t remove the need to hear what he thought about her in his own words.

Hearing Rin’s question, Vahn resigned himself before pulling out a chair and sitting opposite to her at the same desk. This caused Rin to frown but, still waiting for his answer, she kept silent as Vahn carefully explained, “I don’t think our relationship is something that can be explained simply. I care for you dearly, enough that I would put my life on the line to protect you. At the same time, even though the concept of a Familia doesn’t exist in this world, you are my second family member in this world. I will do my best to make you happy…” Instead of waiting for him to finish, Rin added, “But you still don’t really love me, at least not right now. Since you said as much during…well, I don’t really know what I expected to change since then. Very well…thank you for being honest with me.”

As if the conversation was finished, Rin picked up her pen and began focusing on the document she had been going over before Vahn’s arrival. This caused Vahn to release a small sigh through his nose before rising to his feet and giving Rin the space she seemed to need. When he began to walk away, however, Rin suddenly spoke in a serious voice, “There are several things I need to take care of in my personal life right now. Don’t think I’ve given up, Vahn…once I’ve finished with everything I need to deal with, you won’t be able to get rid of me so easily…” This caused Vahn to stop in his steps before turning around to see that Rin had already returned to her work. Knowing that she was still listening, however, Vahn smiled appreciatively before saying, “I look forward to that day…if there is anything I can do to reduce the time it takes, you need only ask…”

After parting ways with Rin, Vahn made the rounds to see how Fenrir, Astolfo, and Lakshmibai were doing. The former was still fixated on her training while Astolfo and Lakshmibai, both having heard about what had happened with Nobunaga, had very different reactions. Astolfo seemed strangely nervous about the prospect, even though Vahn told him he didn’t have anything to worry about, while Lakshmibai’s reaction caused Vahn to shake his head internally. She reacted as if she had been ‘expecting’ such an outcome, showing a determined and resolute expression as she resigned herself to her ‘fate’. Though he was honestly more than a little interested in Lakshmibai’s appearance, the shadow of Helen within her made Vahn quickly extricate himself from that situation until it became more pertinent to the ongoing Grail War.

Shortly after Vahn had completed his ’rounds’, ending with a short conversation with an even more mischevious Nobunaga, Scáthach had appeared once again. Vahn was already prepared so, without needing her to say anything, he kicked off the ground with enough force to cause small fractures in the white ‘stone’. Though others might have been caught off guard, Scáthach easily traced her hand along a trajectory under Vahn’s striking hand, hooking her hand around his joint before throwing him off balance in a single swift movement. Like this, another long session of ‘training’ began, resulting in Vahn getting thrashed even more than normal. Following this, during the period which was supposed to be his ‘rest’ phase, Vahn endeavored to complete the lakeside residence so people wouldn’t have to continue sitting around on random pieces of furniture…

In this manner, Vahn’s days within the Orb began to quickly blend together, interspaced with periods of ‘nothigness’, a state he actively pursued under Scáthach’s guidance. She had also taken up the task of working on the lakeside residence in his stead whenever he would meditate at the bottom of the lake or venture into the denser sections of the Sub-Space Orb to train with Fenrir. As a result, by the end of the fourth day, the residence was already nearing completion. Vahn helped Rin move all of her stuff into one of the larger rooms that had been constructed specifically for her use. His own room ended up being on the smaller side but, as Vahn only had two real uses for it, he felt anything larger would just be wasteful…

Since there were a lot of things that needed to be added to the residence to make it livable, Vahn was installing various formations all over the premises while Scáthach did much the same with her [Primordial Runes]. Whenever he saw what she was working on, Vahn couldn’t help but feel that Scáthach’s skill was ‘beyond’ masterful. There was a reason why she had been able to obtain SSS-Rank in the skill as, even with his ability to interpret their meaning, Vahn’s lack of comprehension behind the ‘logic’ that gave the runes their effects meant he could only use them in their simplest form. As for Scáthach, she seemed to be able to do ‘literaly’ anything, almost as if she were using her [Primordial Runes] to bend the Laws to her will, recreating and altering phenomena that Vahn couldn’t wrap his head around…

It was during one of the instances in which Vahn was watching Scáthach ‘write’ thousands of runes into interior walls of the residence, essentially altering the fundamental nature of the materials used in its construction, that an unexpected incident occurred. Rin had gone out of the Sub-Space Orb to touch base with Lord El-Melloi II before returning a few hours later, immediately shouting, “Vahn, we have an emergency…!” the moment she entered the Orb. This caused Scáthach to cease writing before instantly turning into her Spirit form to conserve energy. As for Vahn, he quickly made his way outside while everyone else within the Orb arrived to hear what the emergency was.

Seeing Vahn appear only seconds after she had shouted, Rin lightly pat her chest to calm down as she hurriedly explained, “Gray was attacked while trying to investigate the various disappearances throughout the City. The number of victims has already exceeded a thousand people so both the Mage’s Association and the Holy Church are up in arms trying to find out who is brazen enough to commit such a high-profile act…” Before Rin could go on a diatribe trying to explain less-significant details, Vahn raised his hand and said, “You said Gray was attacked…is she okay?” Though he hadn’t interacted with her too much, Vahn had a good impression of the unique gray-haired woman. Even though she seemed to have a tragic past of her own, Gray remained relatively positive and sincerely hoped that the world would one day become a better place for all people to live…

Remembering the reason why she had rushed over, Rin adopted a serious expression as she explained, “It’s bad. Gray’s Mystic Code took an extreme amount of damage trying to protect her. Even then, she wasn’t able to escape without losing an arm and sustaining serious injuries…” As she spoke, Rin could vividly recall the distress in Lord El-Melloi II’s voice as he mournfully explained the situation. Whatever had attacked Gray was beyond any of their expectations as it didn’t appear to be the actions of a Servant. Instead, she described her attacker as a black-cloaked figure that was able to freely manipulate its cloak, destroying almost everything that came into contact with it. Instead of being moved away and used as sacrifices, it was now apparent that the shadowy entity had been devouring hundreds, now thousands, of people during the hours prior to the resumption of the Holy Grail War.

Hearing Rin’s explanation, Vahn flexed his jaw a bit as, during his discussion with Gray the previous night, she had been in high spirits as they talked about Paracelsus together. Imagining that same smiling woman, now on a stretcher with an arm missing, Vahn felt a seething rage bubbling up within him. Though the other Masters and Servants had always ‘technically’ been his enemies, it now felt a lot more personal since they had hurt someone he had a good impression of. Without wasting any time, Vahn gave a curt nod before decisively saying, “I will go and heal Gray. Tonight, we will hunt down this bastard…if they think they can get away with involving innocent lives in order to fulfill their greed, they have another thing coming to them. Come, let’s move quickly…!”

Though Rin had a few things she wanted to say, she ultimately decided to follow along with Vahn since they could always talk on the way to the Fuyuki City Hyatt Hotel. As a result, the group quickly made its way over to where Gray was being kept, her condition serious yet stable. Even after losing an arm, her vitality wasn’t something to be looked down upon. If anything, Gray was more worried about the condition of Add, her shape-changing weapon, as its consciousness had faded along with it entering into a self-preservation state. Instead of looking like a cube, it now appeared similar to a burnt spheroid, almost as if it was a piece of metal that had been dropped in a vat of acid.

Finding Lord El-Melloi II and Flat waiting outside of a makeshift ICU, Vahn dismissed with formalities as he plainly stated, “Let me see her. I will be able to help her a lot more than any of the Doctors and Magi you have on hand.” Though this might have sounded somewhat presumptuous, Vahn had just as much confidence in his medical skills as he did in his ability to satisfy women. Since he could even lead around Goddesses of Sex, Vahn believed there was very little he couldn’t treat with his unique understanding of the body’s internal structure.

Lord El-Melloi II frowned when he heard Vahn’s words, as the Doctors Vahn had just insulted were people he would trust with his own life, were it in danger. Before things could devolve into an awkward situation, however, Rin quickly stepped in, explaining, “You can trust Vahn’s skills. I’ll explain the details later, but I doubt there are many people in the world who would be able to treat a patient if he were unable to do so…” Rin didn’t actually know about the limit of Vahn’s medical expertise but, seeing how confident he was, she had no doubt that he would be able to help Gray. Even if he was unable to do so himself, Scáthach would undoubtedly be able to use her [Primeval Runes] to perform the task in his stead…

Though he still seemed reluctant, Lord El-Melloi II ultimately gave in when even Flat added, “Teach…shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to help Gray? If Vahn says he can help, we owe it to her to let him try…” Even if he and Gray didn’t particularly get along, primarily as a result of his lackadaisical nature, Flat still considered his fellow apprentice a good friend. It pained him a great deal to see her in such a sorry state, especially since there was nothing he could do for her…

Understanding that Flat’s words struck at the heart of the matter, Lord El-Melloi II stared directly at Vahn with a stern expression on his face as he said, “I will entrust my apprentice to you…if I find out you did anything uncouth-.” Before Lord El-Melloi II could finish his words, Rin surprised everyone by suddenly slapping him and exclaiming, “Enough!” before turning to Vahn and adding, “Go help her!” in a commanding tone. She was more than a little annoyed that it had taken Flat’s support to get Lord El-Melloi II to acquiesce so, when she heard what he was saying, Rin felt like an exposed nerve had been touched.

Without sticking around to see the aftermath of Rin’s actions, Vahn passed by the two security guards who had previously been blocking the way. He found himself passing through a few plastic curtains that had been hung on a corridor before arriving in a room that had a sterile appearance, so long as you ignored the blackened blood that had stained a few areas of the floor. Within the room, there was what appeared to be an operating table that was surrounded by five individuals, two men and three women. Even at a glance, it was easy to tell that they were either Doctors or Nurses but, if you looked closer, you would find that their tools were far from the standard used by common Surgeons. There were several scalpels that had runes carved into them while various plants and vials were neatly arranged on metal shelves surrounding the operating table.

Having some random person entering their operating room, it wasn’t all that surprising when the younger of the two males grimaced before shouting, “You shouldn’t be in here! What are those guards doing out there!?” His companion, however, remained calm as he cut away a piece of blackened tissue before looking towards Vahn and asking, “Did Lord El-Melloi II allow you to enter…?” As there hadn’t been any commotion prior to Vahn’s arrival, he had correctly deduced that the latter had permission to enter.

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With a curt nod, Vahn walked over to the operating table while explaining, “There are few Doctors in the world that would be able to come close to my abilities. I will not discredit your efforts, but please allow me to step in from here. I have already received permission from Lord El-Melloi II, so please do not cause trouble.” Though Vahn said his words calmly, his expression turned dour as he inspected Gray’s unconscious body. Her right arm was missing using under the shoulder while the skin in the surrounding area seemed to be necrotizing at a rate faster than the Doctors could deal with it. He could tell they had tried various different alchemical mixtures to slow the process while, as could be seen during his entrance, they were cutting out sections of the rot while one of the female Nurses was analyzing the composition at the side…

The younger of the two men seemed to want to argue but he was quickly shut down by the Senior Attending who set aside his tools, saying, “There isn’t much more we can do besides slow the progress of the infection. We have been unable to analyze what exactly is causing the rot but, based on its tenacity, it seems to be some kind of malignant curse. However, even Holy Water was only able to slow the progress, not prevent it. We even amputated several centimeters above the original site, but it has still persisted regardless of our efforts…” Instead of wasting time arguing, the middle-aged man kept his sensibilities about him as he began explaining everything they had tried thus far.

Having already activated his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn could see a black aura that had already extended beyond Gray’s shoulder, encroaching down her chest and up her neck. This seemed to be the cause of the spreading rot, meaning it would be ‘necessary’ to cut off nearly a third of Gray’s torso if he wanted to use the same methods as these ‘supposed’ Doctors. He didn’t doubt they were skilled and highly educated but, at times like this, such things weren’t enough if you lacked the means to identify the cause of the ailment. Vahn could even see the black aura lingering around the middle-aged Doctor’s hands, meaning he would probably begin to suffer the same effects as Gray if left unattended.

Causing the younger man and all three women to give him an accusatory glare, Vahn removed the sheet covering Gray’s chest before closely scrutinizing the encroaching darkness. At the same time, he explained, “If you have any to spare, you need to douse your hands in Holy Water soon. You might not be able to see it, but the same thing eating away at Gray’s body has already extended into your hands. That nurse that has been handling the necrotic tissue needs to do the same…” These words caused the older Doctor’s brows to raise before he looked towards one of the other nurses and said, “Help Samantha wash her hands with Holy Water. Make sure not to touch her hands directly…”

To her credit, the woman named Samantha didn’t panic in response to hearing that she was infected with the same thing eating away at Gray’s body. Instead, she simply held out her hands so that she wouldn’t accidentally touch anything while her fellow Nurses poured a vial of crystal clear water over them. Vahn could see a glimmer of white light contained within the water with his [Eyes of Truth], allowing him to understand the relatively simple solution was indeed sanctified water. What he found most curious, however, was the fact that the older Doctor simply removed his gloves before placing them on a sterile tray and holding them out without washing them in Holy Water.

As if to answer Vahn’s curiosity, the man smiled through his facemask before explaining, “I want to see if your words hold true. Holy Water didn’t work on the young lady so I doubt it would be very effective, even if I doused my entire body in the substance. Just focus on doing what you can. If you can find a solution for her, it shouldn’t take much effort to help treat us, correct…?” To this, Vahn gave a nod before complimenting, “You are a good Doctor…” before placing his full focus on Gray’s body. Then, under the scrutinizing eyes of everyone present within the room, Vahn held out his right hand as a rainbow hue began to suffuse through it.

In absolute silence, everyone watched as Vahn slowly traced his palm over various areas of Gray’s body, primarily focusing on her right flank, breast, neck, and shoulder. Though the younger male Doctor looked more than a little annoyed when he watched Vahn grab Gray’s right breast, his attention was quickly brought away from the fact as one of the Nurses whispered, “Doctor, your hands…” As the older Doctor had been holding his exposed hands up for everyone to see, it was clear to anyone looking that the tips of his fingers had started to turn black. At the same time, his expression began to pale slightly before he walked over the sink and rinsed his hands with the help of the Nurses. From this, it was clear that Vahn could see something they were unable to discern, lending veracity to his claims and ‘leniency’ towards his actions…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Scáthach really needs a bell…’,’Two uses for the room, neither involving sleep…’,’Gray (TT ^ TT)…’)

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