Chapter 1083: Malignant

Before Vahn even touched down on the Matou Mansion’s grounds, the magical array surrounding the entire property had already signaled his arrival. Though he could have used a more roundabout method to resolve things, Vahn didn’t want to delay things any further. With that in mind, Vahn used [Enkidu] from the very start, attempting to bind Sakura as she sat down at a table within the Mansion’s interior. Though a malevolent energy swelled up from her body just before the golden chains bound her, it was able to suppress her before whatever she was attempting could take form. At the same time as this was occurring, a total of seventeen figures appeared like phantoms in the surroundings, their white skull-like masks and black skins the only common feature between them. Vahn could even see old men, young children, and seductive women among the group of Hassan’s, making it very clear they were dealing with the ‘Hundred Faced Hassan’ variant.

While Vahn began to hover in the air, tearing apart the Mansion’s exterior to gain access to the bound Sakura, Artoria had already kicked off from the ground, creating a powerful vortex at her feet that sent her launching forward at a nigh-instantaneous 6400kmh. This put her into range of one of the Hassan’s who, despite their best efforts to evade backward, ended up being cut down almost instantly. Several things happened simultaneously following the death of the first Hassan, including twelve of the remaining Hassan’s all throwing lethal black daggers towards Artoria while the other four moved in concert as they attempted to eliminate Vahn.

Though Vahn didn’t particularly care that the Hassans had targetted him, the fact that the younger Hassans, including a young girl that appeared no older than six or seven, annoyed him a great deal. Even if it was a Servant, Vahn wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of injuring children, much less cutting them down. As her dagger pierced toward his abdomen, Vahn released a tired sigh as he grabbed it with his hand and used his forearm to deflect the attack of another Hassan. Their offense wasn’t enough to have even a remote chance of breaking through his passive mitigation. Even when a third Hassan, looking like an old man in his eighties, breathed a cloud of purple fog into his face, Vahn just frowned slightly before pulling out a silvery-white blade and cutting off his head in a single swift stroke.

In this manner, the battlefield became extremely chaotic as Artoria dashed around at high speeds, using a powerful offense in lieu of any kind of defense, while Vahn just stood in the air with one Hassan dangling in [Enkidu] as he dealt with any foolish enough to attack him. There was already a lot of information on this version of Hassan so it was only a matter of time until the battle was brought to an end. As for the child-like Hassan, Vahn was slowly draining the mana within her body so that she would dissipate painlessly. Both Assassin Servants had been ‘marked’ for elimination as part of their original plan so, while he couldn’t bring himself to ruthless cut down a little girl, Vahn still needed to eliminate Hassan in its entirety…

When he felt the chains slacken, following by motes of blackish-blue light, Vahn released a heavy sigh before pulling out a pale-gold spear and tossing it with enough momentum to create small ripples in space as it pierced through another Hassan trying to ambush Artoria. With this action, there were only five Hassan remaining so Vahn began tearing apart the Mansion once again using his telekinesis. He didn’t rush the process too much, as he was trying to conserve energy, but it still looked like the Mansion was being ripped apart by a tornado until the upper floor viewing room, where Sakura had been sitting, was fully exposed. Vahn slowly descended toward her, ignoring the sudden presence appearing in his blindspot…

From an area of seemingly empty space, a handsome man with silky black hair had emerged from the void wearing a unique outfit the would immediately identify him as a martial artist. He had black bands wrapped around his arms, much like bandages, while a pair of purple-gold gauntlets covered his forearms and fists. With an exposed torso, revealing an incredibly fit body covered in flower-like tattoos, he charged toward Vahn with a murderous glimmer in his pitch-black eyes, set in a face that would have caused models the world over to reconsider their own appeal. Unfortunately, while most women would have swooned just catching sight of this man, he soon found himself face-to-face with one who didn’t even put him in her eyes as she brandished a red spear and sent him crashing into the ground below.

To Yan-Qing’s credit, he managed to vault away from the small crater his body had formed without even flinching. Before he even landed, however, two different spears were aimed toward his neck and navel and, regardless of his last-ditch effort to twist his nimble and agile body, they seemed to follow him like serpents before piercing through despite his best efforts. Painful ‘thorns’ spread through his body, exacerbating his already lethal wounds before Scáthach skewered his heart for good measure, leaving the proud and noble-looking Assassin dangling lifelessly on the edge of her [Gae Bolg]. Regardless of how skilled Yan Qing might have been in his legends, the fact that he was just a ‘fictional’ Heroic Spirit meant there was little chance he could provide a genuine threat to an unshakeable legend like Scáthach. Since she was both faster and could read through his movements with her [Clairvoyance], there was no suspense to the outcome.

While Scáthach and Artoria were cleaning up in the courtyard, Vahn lightly touched down on the hardwood flooring, staring at a hyperventilating Sakura who, after glaring into his eyes, screamed, “What did you do to me!?” Vahn’s only response to this, however, was to simply shake his head and answer, “I will not ask why you have done all of these terrible things…I know you are just another victim…though I would have killed almost anyone else, regardless of their circumstances, I believe there is hope for you to live happily in the future…” At this point, Vahn was standing right over Sakura as she looked up at him, her purple eyes being encroached by a red light that was unable to permeate through her entire iris before being suppressed…

Squatting down next to the bound girl, Vahn had an almost overwhelming urge just to end her life but, remembering his own words, buried the notion deep in his heart as he extended his hand to Sakura’s head. Though she did her best to break free, surprising Vahn more than a little by her ability to actually shake [Enkidu], Sakura ultimately lacked the strength as a tidal wave of purifying Source Energy began to pervade through her body. This caused her to scream in excruciating pain as, all throughout her body, the disgusting worm-like creatures began to writhe about madly in a vain attempt to try and devour the invasive energy. As they were unable to even interact with it in the slightest, the only thing they got for their troubles were tiny beads of source energy creating micro-explosions in their rudimentary nervous systems, effectively killing them instantly.

Though she didn’t fully understand what was happening to her body, the pain she was experiencing caused Sakura to thrash within the bindings of [Enkidu] as froth and blood began to pool from her mouth. Compared to most people, she had an unbelievable pain tolerance after more than a decade of being tormented in the most horrifying ways imaginable. However, as if everything she had ever experienced before was just a prelude to true pain, Sakura was putting so much effort into breaking free that her flesh was being gouged as she attempted to free herself from [Enkidu]’s bindings. To prevent her from hurting herself even more, Vahn caused Sakura an extreme level of confusion as he began to gently stroke her head amidst her pained thrashing…

As Sakura was slowly slipping into a deep level of unconsciousness, Vahn whispered in a soft and guiding tone, “When you wake up, this nightmare will finally be over…I am sorry that I had not arrived to save you sooner…” Before his words had even finished, the light had faded from Sakura’s eyes, taking with it the red glow that had been trying to encroach upon them. Then, using runes with the meanings, ‘Two-Tens-Memory-Erase’, courtesy of Scáthach’s [Primordial Rune] Magecraft, Vahn planted them into Sakura’s mind and hoped it had the intended effect. Memory erasure magic was actually one of the most common and easiest to learn within the entire Nasuverse, something that was taught to apprentices and first-year students at every Mage Academy. This was to ensure that they would be able to erase the memories of anyone who had witnessed Magecraft without having to kill them. Though this was often exploited ‘heavily’ by the more despicable Mages throughout the world, including bored students who decided to take advantage of normal civilians, it was still useful for situations like this…

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WIth Sakura unconscious and her memory of the last twenty years most-certainly erased, Vahn loosened [Enkidu] before rolling her onto her back. Though they were all dead, he still needed to extract the Crest Worms from Sakura’s body to prevent them from becoming malignant and damaging her organs. The fact that her womb was currently filled with a massive clump of dead worms gave Vahn a strong urge to vomit but, ignoring his own apprehensions on the matter, he adopted his persona of a ‘Physician’ as he cut open Sakura’s blouse before snapping the band of her bra. She actually had large and shapely breasts, complete with fair and soft skin, but Vahn only noticed these things as a sign of ‘good nutritional balance’ before placing his palm against her abdomen and causing a rainbow hue to slowly spread through her body…

Just as Vahn was preparing to perform ‘Nirvana Rebirth’ on Sakura, the sound of battle had just faded, only to be replaced by a metallic clapping sound that caused Vahn to frown deeply as he turned his eyes skyward. There, as if more proud than the sun itself, a man wearing resplendent golden armor could be seen levitating in the air. At first glance, he had a dignified appearance with golden hair that stood up like blazing flames, complimenting his well-structured face that was set with two ruby-red pupils. Seeing this, Vahn was beginning to feel that it was an extremely common theme in the Nasuverse for anyone that had a reasonable degree of power to be identifiable by their red eyes as, without exception, anyone with red eyes seemed to fit that description thus far…

As if he had been watching a performance staged entirely for his own entertainment, Gilgamesh continued to clap with the most haughty and arrogant expression Vahn had ever seen on another person adorning his face. However, just as he was about to address Gilgamesh and begin their battle, Vahn’s instincts began screaming at him to evade as, from the unconscious Sakura’s body, a black mud-like substance began to pour from her mouth, nose, ears, and an area within her skirt that he didn’t want to imagine. Then, as if it had a mind of its own, tendrils of black energy coiled toward him with surprising speed before trying to wrap around his left arm and leg as Vahn shifted away with [Shundo].

This incident caught Gilgamesh’s attention, causing him to mutter an amused, “Oh~? The pretender can’t even deal with a single woman…? Pathetic…” With that said, several golden ripples began to emerge behind Gilgamesh’s body as he crossed his arms and said, “Witness, mongrel, the true power of the person you would deign to emulate…!” Immediately following Gilgamesh’s words, several weapons, each accompanied by an oppressive aura, began to protrude from the golden ripples behind him. Then, traveling at an instantaneous speed greater than 12,000kmh, the various weapons, be they sword, spears, axes, or even bows, all rained towards the black mass that now surrounded Sakura’s body.

As Vahn landed on the ground below, he saw that the tendrils that had wrapped around his arm and leg bore into his flesh before almost immediately dissipating after contacting his blood. Even without this occurrence, however, he had already identified the energy as the same malignant energy that had injured Gray. Though this wasn’t outside of his expectations, as he actually harbored a suspicion that Sakura was related to the ‘Shadow’, it was never pleasant to realize the ‘worst-case scenario’ was the truth. He already had a plan that should separate the malignant entity from Sakura’s body but, knowing it would cost him more than a third of his OP reserves, Vahn couldn’t help feeling a little reluctant as he watched the weapons fired by Gilgamesh pierce into the nebulous black ooze…

Though one of the swords seemed surprisingly effective, cutting a swath clear through the black blob, the rest of the weapons were simply absorbed like stones dropped into the ocean. Other than a single explosion, taking out a large section of the Mansion, every other weapon used by Gilgamesh had been completely ineffective before, moments later, similar versions of those weapons began to protrude out from the malignant mass of darkness. They had now been dyed black with red runes burned into their surface, causing Gilgamesh to sneer as he admonished, “You would attempt to steal the possessions of this King…? Know your place, sow…!”

This time, twice the number of golden ripples appeared behind Gilgamesh as the ‘Shadow’ sent his previous weapons back at him with comparable speed. At this point, it was clear that Gilgamesh and the Shadow were planning to fight it out so, while Vahn was intending to deal with both later, he turned to Scáthach and said, “Go rescue the children in the basement. Don’t leave a single one of those f****** worms alive…!” Without a word in response, Scáthach instantly moved like a phantom, breaking directly into the Mansion as she tore a direct path towards the basement. As for Vahn and Artoria, he could tell the latter wanted to throw herself into the fray but, as now wasn’t the best time, Vahn placed his hand on her shoulder and said, “We should fall back for now. Let Scáthach save the children while we observe the battle between Gilgamesh and the Shadow. I have a bad feeling about the latter so I don’t want you going anywhere near her for the time being…!”

As she had seen the various Noble Phantasms fired by Gilgamesh unceremoniously absorbed by the black ooze, Artoria resisted the urge to argue and instead nodded her head, saying, “I understand, Master…” through slightly clenched teeth. She had a personal grudge to settle with Gilgamesh but that wouldn’t cause Artoria to go against orders, especially after recognizing Vahn as her Lord in the capacity of a Knight. Though she was filled with reluctance, she moved off to the side with Vahn, causing Gilgamesh to cast them a glance before ignoring them after realizing they weren’t intending to flee. If they had attempted to run away while he was dealing with Sakura, he would have included them in his barrage as well…

With Vahn and Artoria being ‘obedient’, Gilgamesh turned his attention back to the growing black mass that seemed capable of absorbing most of the Noble Phantasms he could throw at it. Though his [Gate of Babylon] had every treasure within existence, seeing his property get stolen over and over was beginning to grate on his nerves a great deal. He had noticed that certain weapons were effective against the black mass so, while he lamented having to make even a small amount of effort against some mindless monstrosity, Gilgamesh clicked his tongue before saying, “Very well then. Try eating this, you dog…!”

With golden ripples forming a circular shape behind his body, several weapons suffused with a subtle white or gold aura began to emerge. Vahn could feel his skin begin to tingle slightly just by looking at these weapons, immediately understanding that they were Light and Holy Elemental armaments. Since [Holy Water] had been effective in slowing down the effects of the malignant energy, it wasn’t an incorrect decision to use weapons with a much higher concentration of Holy Elemental Energy to attack the Shadow. The problem was, as Vahn was intending to save Sakura, this kind of attack would probably be a little ‘too effective’…

Before Vahn was afforded the time to intervene, Gilgamesh had already released his volley of Holy Noble Phantasms towards Sakura, this time reaching speed nearing 18,000kmh. They looked like illusory golden bullets that tore through the mass of malignant energy before causing massive explosions that ripped the Mansion apart like paper mache. Though the effects didn’t reach the basement, where Scáthach had already completed most of her assigned mission, Vahn knew he couldn’t let things continue progressing in this manner. This became even more apparent when, after the smoke cleared away, a beaten and bloody Sakura, missing everything from her left shoulder onward, was standing like a poorly posed mannequin with glowing red eyes radiant a malevolent and murderous light…

High in the sky, Gilgamesh began to laugh in response to Sakura’s disheveled state, made even worse by the fact that Vahn had cut apart her blouse and bra previously. However, his laughter was brought to a stop soon thereafter as black markings spread across Sakura’s fair skin, coalescing near her otherwise fatal wound before a black ooze began to bubble in place of blood. Then, in a manner not all that dissimilar from Vahn’s [Magia Erebea] regeneration, Sakura’s arm had grown back in less than three seconds as she stared up at Gilgamesh with her breasts, now covered in sickly black markings, exposed for the world to see. She was still wearing a full-length purple skirt but, seeing a woman with ghostly pale skin covered in black markings was quite the unnerving sight when taking into consideration her glowing red eyes…

With a disgusted scowl on his face, Gilgamesh created golden ripples at his back that were reminiscent of majestic wings as he venomously stated, “I see what you are now…you are an abomination corrupted by that ‘thing’…very well, let’s see how long you can last in that mindless state…!” Though it likely wasn’t in response to anything Gilgamesh had said, Sakura’s lips suddenly formed a creepy smile before her throat began to swell up. Then, as the mass continued to rise, she spat out a large volume of black mud that began to burn everything it came into contact with before slowly rising to form an even larger blob than before. This one had a vaguely humanoid appearance, complete with bulbous arms that immediately extended towards Gilgamesh in an obvious attempt to consume him.

Instead of dodging, Gilgamesh’s brows furrowed as a series of golden cubes exited the portals behind him, forming a defensive network that began to destroy any of the black tendrils that got even remotely close to his body. At the same time, something very different to all his previous weapons began to exit the gold ripples, each taking on the form of what appeared to be massive gun barrels. Then, waving his hand in a commanding manner, Gilgamesh shouted, “Eat this you disgusting swine…!” This was followed by a mass of light forming at the ends of each barrel, causing the hair to raise on Vahn’s neck and arms as he instantly transformed into his Xuanwu form and shielded Artoria in his arms…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Vahn is developing the habit of binding Lolis…’,’Justice for Yan Qing…!’,’King of Heroes vs. The Shadow’)

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