Chapter 1088: Choice

With the collapse of Circe’s Reality Marble, a completely new ‘reality’ emerged to take its place. This caused Circe to behave like a cat that had its tail stepped on, flittering into the air as she screamed, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing!?” Though she had pulled out a staff like she was intending to attack, Merlin simply smiled in response before raising his hand and saying, “Go to sleep for a short while. Have a nice dream…” With that said, one part of the complex red seal on the back of his hand vanished, causing Circe to fall powerlessly from the air as a result. Since it didn’t seem like Merlin was going to prevent her crash, Vahn, carrying Fenrir under his left arm, appeared to catch Circe before she could collide with the hard ground. Then, after setting her to rest on a small comforter, Vahn apologetically rubbed Fenrir’s head while looking at Merlin and asking, “What kind of illusion is this?”

Dear Readers. Scrapers have recently been devasting our views. At this rate, the site (creativenovels .com) might...let's just hope it doesn't come to that. If you are reading on a scraper site. Please don't.

Merlin gave a light laugh in response to Vahn’s words before musing, “Though I already said you are full of surprises, it seems I need to seriously consider how to interact with you in the future. Umu…if I had to define it…well, I don’t really want to. The only thing that really matters is that you see what I want to show you, at least for now.” As he spoke, Merlin would tilt his head, eyes wandering around as if he wasn’t quite sure what to say. Eventually, he just pointed with his staff towards the center of the space, causing a twenty-meter tall tower-like structure to burst into existence. Even though it was just an illusion, Vahn immediately frowned as the energy radiating from the tower wasn’t all that dissimilar to the presence of the ‘Shadow’ that had existed within Sakura…

As if to answer Vahn’s thoughts, Merlin slowly levitated in the air as he explained, “This is what the people of this world refer to as the Greater Grail. Its true purpose is to merely serve as a ‘system’ that allows a person to interface with the Root located outside the axis of reality. I never thought I would see a family that carries the Origin of ‘Wish-Granting’, but the Einzberns are a truly unique existence. It is a shame their fate makes it so they can never be the beneficiaries of their own power. Though, I suppose that is for the best, no? To be able to grant your own wishes without having to make any effort…hmmm, that sounds like a rather lonely existence.”

Showing no signs that he was even paying attention to anyone else present, Merlin made a small circle with his staff before a small ‘burst’ of light exploded near the base of the Greater Grail. Vahn could see the illusion he had created looked exactly like Illya, curled up in the fetal position as she lightly breathed through her nose. Even though it wasn’t real, she seemed to be having a pleasant dream as a small smile was spread across her face as she hugged what looked like a miniature-sized Heracles plushie. Though Vahn felt it wasn’t really a doll suitable for what looked like a small girl, it seemed that Illya was quite fond of the legendary hero…

Without explaining anything, Merlin slowly turned in the air as he looked back at Vahn and once again asked, “Tell me…what is your true desire? Depending on your answer, well, I suppose that isn’t important. I would like to hear what you have to say without understanding the repercussions your actions may have…” These words made it sound like Vahn didn’t put any thought into his actions, causing him to give Merlin a slightly annoyed look before taking a deep breath and saying, “My true desire is to one day return to my family…I will continue to increase my strength so that, one day, I will be able to stay at their side once again…at the same time-”

As if he had lost interest in what Vahn was saying, Merlin’s eyes began to wander towards nothing in particular until he heard Vahn stop speaking. After that, he smiled in a way that didn’t quite reach his eyes as he explained, “It is a dangerous thing, seeking power as a means to an end. Your desire to return to your family is only a small part of a complex puzzle that you will need to figure out should you want to truly ‘protect’ the things you care about. You will come to understand this one day…or perhaps not? Regardless, know that power is a corrupting force so long as the person wielding it has any form of selfish intentions. Even if you come to wield it selflessly, however, you must understand that the world must constantly exist in a state of equilibrium. If you aspire to obtain power above all, there will always be something with an equivalent amount of power to oppose you…”

With his ‘lecture’ finished, Merlin’s figure vanished from where he had been floating in the air. When he reappeared, he was right next to Artoria, a gentle smile on his face as he looked between her and then back at Vahn before saying, “I have entrusted you with my most precious treasure. In truth, I cannot truly understand the nature of humans, no matter how much I observe them. You, however…I feel there is something different about you. I am an entity that is fated to never cease, much like that peculiar friend of yours…ah, Scáthach, yes…truly an unfortunate woman, that one…” As if he had been looking toward something only he could see, Merlin shook his head before smiling once again and adding, “I would like to see what a man without fate is able to accomplish. With that in mind, I want you to see what is required if you want to obtain the Greater Grail for yourself…”

Before Merlin’s words had even finished, the surroundings began to rapidly change before, moments later, the dissipating bodies of almost every Servant still participating in the war could be seen. Even though he didn’t really need to explain, Merlin plainly stated, “In order to awaken the Lesser Grail, every other Servant needs to be eliminated. Due to the Einzberns’ unwillingness to accept their fate, they have machinated to have one of the Servants placed within the vessel for the Lesser Grail. They originally tried to fuse me into the young lady’s body but, perhaps due to other anomalous factors, a very unique entity was sealed within her instead…”

While Merlin was speaking, the particles comprising the other Servants’ bodies all flowed into the sleeping Illya before, as if she had always been present, a strange woman with white hair and red eyes crouched down next to Illya’s body. To everyone’s surprise, her body quickly broke down into fragments of light before, moments later, Illy was wearing a strange ceremonial dress, complete with a peculiar white crown accented in gold. The sleeves seemed to extend far past her hands while the dress itself was rather short, exposing a little too much skin with the various circular sections formed by golden rings. At the hem of the dress, several arrow-shaped accents pointed towards a pair of stockings which ran halfway up Illya’s thighs before breaking off into inverted arrows that were similar in structure to those found on her dress. Overall, it was a regal, but strangely inappropriate garment to be worn for a ceremony…

After floating in the air for a few seconds, radiating a divine white light, Illya touched down gently on the ground before looking back at Vahn with red eyes that possessed no sign of consciousness. She seemed like a machine that completely lacked emotions, to the point that Scáthach would have appeared ‘expressive’ in comparison. Then, as if she hadn’t actually been looking at Vahn from the start, Illya turned towards the Greater Grail behind her before extending her arms. The moment she did this, the Greater Grail released a pulse which, immediately thereafter, began to sound like a heart beating in a steady and powerful rhythm. Instead of looking like an ornate black spire, the Greater Grail began to emit a heavy flow of reddish-black ‘mud’ as it gained eldritch qualities, including massive eyes and thick tendrils that slowly began to unfurl toward Illya…

As if he could sense Vahn was about to break the illusion, Merlin preempted him by calmly stating, “You see, as far back as the Third Holy Grail War, the Greater Grail had already been tainted by an amalgamation of ‘All the World’s Evil’. In their misguided attempts to break free from their fate, the Einzberns summoned the evilest conceptual existence within all timelines, an entity known as Angra Mainiiu. Though it lacks any actual power, its ability to corrupt is inviolable as, so long as a single evil thought remains in the hearts and minds of men, it can never be destroyed…Now, any attempt to make a wish through the Greater Grail will invariably result in the wish being twisted into something far more horrible than intended…”

Hearing Merlin’s explanation, Vahn couldn’t help but wonder if this was one of the ‘safety measures’ that Akasha had implemented to prevent anyone from reaching the Root through the Heaven’s Feel ritual. Since she seemed to harbor some kind of grudge against the Einzbern’ Ancestor and his descendants, it wasn’t a stretch to think she had manipulated the system to make things more difficult for the Einzberns. What he couldn’t understand is how anyone could be foolish enough to think it was a ‘viable’ method to obtain victory by summoning ‘All the World’s Evils’. Even if the entity they summoned had been powerful, it would have still been an inherently evil existence by virtue of their intentions. As the Heaven’s Feel ritual was originally intended to summon only Heroic Spirits from around Europe, Ireland, and Germany, it didn’t make sense that they would want to pollute their own ritual by summoning something other than a Heroic Spirit…

Before Vahn could think of an answer, Merlin’s expression suddenly turned serious as he said, “It is my duty to ensure that the Holy Grail War is able to reach a conclusion. As things stand, however, this will only result in a tragedy. Not only would you have to part with your carefully gathered allies, but this tragic young lady would once again experience something truly terrible. In the state where she is the awakened vessel of the Lesser Grail, I’m afraid her ego is excised entirely. As a result, the entity within her will integrate with the Greater Grail, potentially leading to the death of all humans.”

As these words left his lips, Vahn saw the mind-numbing sight of Illya’s chest exploding as a small white creature, covered in fresh blood, jumped into the mud pouring out from the Greater Grail. In the next moment, the sound of the beating heart ceased in its entirety, followed by the mud slowing to a crawl…

As the illusory Illya’s body collapsed lifelessly on the ground, her blood began to spread out rapidly across the perfectly level floor before coming into contact with one of the tendrils. The moment this happened, the tendril lifted itself up before ‘slamming’ down on Illya’s location, crushing half her body before the rest was sucked in moments later. Then, as if to build upon the growing madness, a blood-red monstrosity began to emerge from the Greater Grail itself, appearing much like a giant wolf but, instead of fur, it had strands of bloody flesh while its head had malformed to have an indeterminate number of eyes and a vicious maw that had rows of crooked teeth. Around this time, the scenery changed once again, this time showing the surrounding Fuyuki City as the ‘wolf’ break free from Mount Enzou and ascended into the sky using bat-like wings form of flesh and gore…

After reaching a few hundred meters in the sky, each individual strand of the wolf’s fleshy hair began to spread a thin red mist that began to build like a cloud around its body. Once it had formed a veritable ocean of red vapor, the monstrous creature began to release a panting sound before arcing its head back and releasing a blood-curdling howl that immediately sent the cloud bursting apart like a tumultuous explosion. Then, moving at several times the speed of sound, the bloody mist began to spread through the City below, each individual particle small enough to slip through solid matter as it passed through all obstructions and entered the bodies of sleeping humans. Vahn was able to see all of this as, with each stage of the event, Merlin would change his illusion so they could view the nightmarish scene from the most optimal perspective…

Every human that was touched by the red mist would immediately open their eyes in shock but, before they could even release a scream due to the overwhelming pain they were experiencing, their bodies would turn into a puddle of bubbling red liquid that, moments later, became even more red mist as it continued to spread across the city. As if it could sense where humans were located, the mist would always follow the shortest path to its target, passing through physical obstructions and magical barriers as if they didn’t even exist. In this manner, only five minutes had passed before all of Fuyuki City was shrouded in a blood-red mist that was denser than the fog on a cold and humid morning…

At this point, Merlin began to explain, “The entity that currently inhabits the young lady is a Beast of Gaia known as ‘Primate Murder’. Though I had tried to give it a different perspective on humans, the nightmarish experience of that girl has caused him to view humanity in a negative light. Now, my faithful Cath Palug sincerely desires to fulfill its purpose, annihilating the vast majority of humanity. The only ones he intends to spare are the children but, in a world without adults and structure, I need not tell you how that will end…” As Merlin was speaking, Vahn, Artoria, and Fenrir were all watching a zoomed-out perspective of the world as the tiny red dot located on Japan’s southern tip continued to grow and expand. By the time the planet had completely three revolutions, the mist had covered nearly the entire planet, claiming billions of lives in less than seventy-two hours…

After the sapphire blue planet had become almost blood-red in color, Merlin waved his staff and allowed the illusion to disperse. To answer the question he knew Vahn would ask, Merlin shook his head and explain, “Though it may not be impossible to kill him after he has ‘awakened’, Cath Palug is an indestructible existence that is not bound by the conventional rules of this world. Much like Angra Mainiiu, he will continue to exist so long as there are any living humans within the world. Unless you intend to wipe out humanity to expunge him from the world, I would advise a far more practical approach…besides, he is actually quite cute when he isn’t trying to kill all of humanity. His fur is very soft to the touch and he knows plenty of tricks…”

Seeing the deadpan stares he was receiving, Merlin let his words trail off before explaining, “I have been looking for potential solutions but, as the entity known as Shirou Emiya is no longer within this timeline, my options have been rather limited. More than anything else, that young lady desires a family that will look after and loves her with sincerity. Though she has already lived for nearly thirty solar cycles, her closest ‘family’ has been a berserk Heroic Spirit. When she was just a child, her mother became the vessel for the Lesser Grail while, having betrayed the Einzberns, her father was prevented from ever seeing her. She spent ten years training in isolation, surrounded by frigid temperatures and even colder inhuman existences. By the time she had a chance at happiness, her life had been robbed while, what little hope she had found, was crushed completely. Imagine how she must have felt when, after spending years recuperating in a vat of fluid, the first thing she hears upon awakening is that she must become a sacrifice once again? Even worse, the only family she had left was already dead…truly, I cannot fathom the depravity of the Einzberns…forcing so much on such a small child…”

Hearing Merlin’s long explanation, Vahn’s own expression had hardened as, though he knew Illya’s life had been rough, it seemed his imagination had been lacking. He could tell that Merlin wasn’t even giving the full story, causing Vahn to ask, “How did you come to know of these things…?” Even though he already had a guess, Vahn wanted to confirm if his suspicions were accurate. As expected, Merlin gave a whimsical smile in return, as if he hadn’t been upset moments before, answering, “I am blessed to be able to interact with the dreams of others. In order to try and convince Cath Palug not to wipe out humanity, I have been trying to counsel the young lady in her dreams. She is currently having a long and pleasant dream but…well, there is a very big difference between dream and reality. Though the mind can be tricked easily enough, the soul is much harder to fool…without experiencing genuine happiness, the feelings buried deep within her heart will continue to corrupt my adorable Cath Palug…”

Shaking his head, Merlin pointed towards Vahn before saying, “That is where you come in, young man. You may be an anomalous existence, but I can see you have a unique quality that allows you to draw others to you. I will not fault you for begrudging me, but I have been following your exploits since leaving Artoria in your care. If it is you, I believe the young lady may be able to find her own happiness in the future. If you can promise me that, I will help you reach the Greater Grail without having to use the Lesser Grail as a key. Though I may have to face a few troublesome consequences for bending the rules a bit, I believe that is a small price to pay in order to prevent the destruction of the world…wouldn’t you agree~?”

Though he already understood what Merlin was aking him to do, Vahn still asked, “So, you want me to take Illya into my care? If you haven’t noticed, she doesn’t seem too fond of me…” Even if it didn’t really affect him, the fact that Illya had bitten out his throat was still a fresh memory. In response to this, however, Merlin just laughed in a light-hearted manner before musing, “Though it may not come as a surprise to someone with your amount of ‘experience’, trust me when I say that ‘biting’ isn’t always an expression of hatred. From my personal experience, it is something that young ladies do when they are feeling frustrated…”

When he said the last part, Merlin looked toward Artoria and gave her a small wave that caused the usually prideful Knight to flush deeply. She had been rather passive since the moment Merlin had arrived, something Vahn had been growing steadily curious about. In a way, they seemed to have a very similar relationship to parent and child. If he didn’t already know that Merlin had done a poor job in helping raise Artoria into a King, Vahn would have thought their interactions were pleasant. Because of this, it was easy to see that Merlin lacked a great deal in the common sense department, even if his parental affection towards Artoria was genuine…

As if to clear up any doubts, Merlin waved his staff and changed the surroundings once again, this time showing a very recent memory. After hearing Merlin say he had been ‘watching’ them, Vahn knew the man had probably seen way more than he was comfortable with. Now that he was seeing the Matou Mansion in full detail, including the individual blades of grass, Vahn could feel his brow twitching a little. If Merlin had peeked in on him when he was having sex, which seemed to be the case, he would have to have a very long and potentially violent talk with the whimsical Magus later on. For the time being, however, he looked towards the only anomaly within the illusion, seeing Illya sitting on a bed wearing cute purple pajama’s as she watched the battle between Sakura, Gilgamesh, and, eventually, himself. When it got to the part where he had stolen Gilgamesh’s key, Illya was happily cheering for his victory…

After letting the illusion dissipate, Merlin explained, “Do not fret. I only showed her things that would improve her impression of you. She has seen how well you treat not only your friends but people who should have been your enemies. So long as you do not treat her as if she is a monster, I believe there is nothing to worry about…hopefully…maybe? Well, even if the worst-case scenario happens, I’ll do my best to try and mitigate the damage…hmmm…” At this point, Merlin was speaking to himself more than anyone else. Eventually, he shook his head before smiling once again and saying, “I do not know enough about humans to determine how things will turn out. I entrust her to you as, in all other scenarios, the world will come to an end. Your future is something I cannot see…since you seem to affect those around you in unpredictable ways, I will once again place my trust in you. Well, what say you, Mr. Sage Emperor~?”

Until this point, Merlin hadn’t even so much as called Vahn by name so, suddenly hearing him say the words ‘Sage Emperor’, Vahn couldn’t help but frown as he said, “I have promised to make this world a better place with Fenrir, Artoria, and all my other companions. Since Illya is just another victim of a broken world, I will do my best to make sure she can find happiness in the future. That doesn’t mean I will absolve you from any responsibility, though…I may not have the means to keep you under control, but I will place my trust you in as well, Merlin. Until the time of my departure, I will have you at least help out whenever you can…”

Without showing any sign of fretfulness, Merlin simply laughed in response to Vahn’s words before answering, “I am originally not supposed to be active in this timeline. So long as you do not require me to become directly involved in world-changing events, I can at least make an appearance every now and then. Even if you hadn’t asked, I can’t very well ignore my dear Artoria and my faithful companion. Until that young lady has stabilized, you should expect that I will be nearby to prevent the manifestation of ‘Primate Murder’. I would hate to see my friend lose himself and do something regrettable…”

By the time Merlin had finished his words, the surroundings had returned to normal, placing Vahn, Artoria, Fenrir, and the sleeping Circe inside of Ryuudou Temple. There were a few piglets laying on the floor in a hypnotic daze, something which seemed to amuse Merlin as he commented, “It is amusing to see interlopers reduced to the state of piglets…if only Lady Circe had not turned the members of the Temple itself into piglets as well…hmm, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Wait here for a short while, would you? My main body is quite a distance from here so it will take a few minutes for me to arrive. I trust you already have a plan for destroying the Greater Grail so I will leave you to discuss matters in ‘private’ for the time being~.”

With his words completed, Merlin vanished from sight, only moments before a metallic gauntlet flew through where his face had been located. It was only now that Artoria realized that Merlin had been peeking on her when she and Vahn were together. She had been so distracted by other things to realize it beforehand, causing her face to flush bright red as she shouted, “You depraved old fool! When I get my hands on you….!” Though his body had already vanished, this didn’t stop Merlin’s voice from echoing through the area, carrying amused undertones as he said, “You have gotten rather lucky, my dear Artoria. There are few men who focus on ‘giving’ more than ‘taking’ in a relationship…do not worry, I promise not to pry any further. This is the first time I have lived in suspense of the future…I would rather see where this goes without interfering further…”

By the time Merlin’s words had faded away, Artoria’s face was scarlet to the point that it looked like she would pass out. As for Vahn, he had a hardened expression on his face as he popped each of his knuckles in expectation for his ‘actual’ meeting with Merlin. This wasn’t unique to him, either, as Fenrir was currently flexing her claws as she thought about the fact that some random flowery man had watched her making love with her Master. In much the same way as Merlin had alluded, she was fully intending on taking a few bites out of him to ease the frustrations in her heart…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘A Phenomenal Display of Power by the Dick Wizard…’,’TFW a tiny loli has a world-ending beast sealed in their chest…they sat flat chests are supposed to represent hope for the future, not the end of days xD…’,’Merlin is a perverted voyeur…Fenrir, prey…!’)

https://bit.ly/2XBzAYu <-(p.atreon link)

Only allowed on Creativenovels.com

paypal.me/Einlion

Discord Invite: https://discord.gg/mn5xMbE

You may also like: