Chapter 1090: Reunion

Located at the heart of the Fuyuki City Leyline, the ‘vein’ that allowed mana and spirit energy from the planet to bleed out into the atmosphere, a massive black spire stood, crested by six spined points curved inward like a crown. Though this was an a sub-dimension isolated from the outside world, it still had a ‘foundation’ in reality, being located a few hundred meters below the Ryuudou Temple and engraved into a circular stone pedestal that was precisely 50m in diameter down to the atom. As it was impossible to create a permanant connection to the Root, the Einzbern, Tohsaka, and Makiri families had all worked together in order to develop this isolated space more than two-hundred years prior. It had even taken the sacrifice of the then head of the Einzbern family, one of the iterations of Justeaze Von Einzbern, to complete.

In almost every other circumstance, it was nearly impossible to reach the location of the Greater Grail without severely damaging the Leyline and somehow ‘slipping’ into the interior through a crack formed in non-existent space. Merlin, however, had such a mastery of [Illusionism] that he was even able to fool reality, the environment, and even fate itself. For a brief moment, he was able to create an illusion that was entirely indistinguishable from reality, even from the perspective of the World itself. In that singular instance, by making it so that Vahn and his group had ‘already’ accessed the Greater Grail, he was able to slip through the surrounding nothingness, cutting through the fabric of nonexistence and cementing their presence within the Greater Grail’s isolated sub-dimension.

From the perspective of everyone who had been teleported, they simply shifted locations in an instant but, in that same period of time, Vahn at least sensed something that Merlin had been concealing. Turning to face the white-haired Magus, Vahn saw the man produce a wry smile as he hid his hand in his sleeve. Other than Scáthach, who had been watching Merlin with an unwavering gaze, he was the only one to see the errant Mage’s hand gain a transparent quality. However, as now was not the time to discuss the matter, Vahn just gave him a curt nod before handing Illya’s body over to Heracles. In hindsight, he realized bringing her along might not have been the best choice but, considering she had an immortal existence capable of destroying the world inside her chest, which was ‘technically’ under his control, Vahn didn’t think about it too much.

After having Heracles move away, Vahn turned to look up at the black spire that, for the time being, seemed like a stone obelisk with an incredibly intricate internal system comprised of tens of thousands of integrated magic circles. Behind it, a solid pillar of pure mana was flowing from one area of the void into another, reminding Vahn of the phenomenon he had observed when using the [Page of the Akashic Tome]. Since the pillar was likely what allowed the Greater Grail to access the Root, something that obvious emulated the ‘real’ Akashic Record, Vahn wasn’t too surprised to see there were similarities between them.

Now that it had come to this point, Vahn gave a small nod before turning to Artoria, saying, “Since your [Excalibur] uses the Holy Element, it may be best to use your Noble Phantasm to try and break apart the Greater Grail…what do you think, Scáthach?” Since the latter should be able to discern even more than he could, Vahn wanted to see if Scáthach’s [Wisdom of the Haunted Ground] could give them any insights into a better course of action. He was already prepared to try and seal the area with [Enkidu], all so that he could potentially ‘absorb’ the energy into his own body, but that would be a last resort.

Without taking her eyes of Merlin, Scáthach answered, “The Greater Grail itself should be simple to destroy. Angra Mainiuu, however, is a conceptual existence that should have never been allowed to exist as a physical or spiritual entity. After destroying the Greater Grail, it would be prudent to leave this place as soon as possible before placing a powerful seal in the real world. Though it would be impossible for the majority of people, there is always a chance someone could gain access to this place without using the key. If Angra Mainiiu is able to escape, its corruption could spread through the entire world if there is nothing to contain it…”

Hearing what Scáthach had to say, Vahn shook his head with a wry smile before placing his hand on Artoria’s shoulder and saying, “Sorry, looks like I might have to steal the spotlight from you again…” Since it was apparent that destroying the Greater Grail wasn’t necessarily the smartest decision, at least for the time being, Vahn had to pour cold water over Artoria’s convictions once again. To her credit, she just gave a nod in response before holding [Excalibur] at the side once again…

Curious about what Vahn was thinking, Merlin inclined his head to the side and asked, “Have you already come up with a solution?” As even he didn’t have a ‘permanant’ solution to the problem of Angra Mainiiu, Merlin was curious what an anomaly like Vahn might have come up with. What he never expected was for the latter to look back at him, shrugging as he said, “I’m going to let it try and absorb me…” This immediately caused Merlin’s brows to furrow while Artoria, who had just decided to trust Vahn, instantly shouted, “What are you thinking!?” Even Circe didn’t seem to think this was a good idea, flittering a few centimeters off the ground as she whined, “No, you can’t do something like that…!”

In response to the two girls’ shouting, Vahn winced slightly before holding up his hand and saying, “You’re misunderstanding my intentions and looking down on me. Even if it’s something like ‘All the World’s Evils’, I’m confident that I’ll come out relatively unscathed. Besides, do you really think I’m going to do something like sacrifice myself when my ultimate goal is to return to my original world and reunite with my family and children? Relax and trust me…” Though Vahn was asking them to trust him, he allowed his Command Spells to glow in order to remind them that he would make them listen if necessary. He genuinely wasn’t worried about what Angra Mainiiu might do to him as, even though it would undoubtedly cause him extreme pain, there was ultimately nothing the entity could do to corrupt The Path and his Source Energy.

Without allowing any argument, Vahn turned to look back at the Greater Grail before saying, “Once I sublimate the Greater Grail, wait for my signal before using your [Excalibur] to hit it with full force. I imagine this space will begin to break down pretty quickly after that, so make sure you’re ready for a second jump, Old Man…” Vahn’s last words were directed towards Merlin who, regardless of the fact that it might further fracture his existence, simply returned a smile in return before saying, “Do not worry, I am already prepared to alight at the first sign of trouble. Go, Vahn Mason…I am curious to see if you are truly capable of doing something that should be impossible…”

Surprising almost everyone present, Vahn began to laugh after hearing Merlin’s words, followed by him plainly stating, “I’ve been doing the ‘impossible’ for years. This might as well just be another Monday for me…” With that said, Vahn stepped forward before placing his hand against the hard surface of the Greater Grail. This caused a similar ‘pulse’ to what had occurred in the illusion created by Merlin, followed by the steady beating of a heart. Slowly but surely, the grail began to morph into a far more ‘evil’ form before Vahn’s hand began to sink into the previously hard surface. Almost as soon as he sank in just a little bit, a powerful suction jerked his body forward before fully enveloping him within the surprisingly viscous and foul-smelling internal structure of the Greater Grail…

A few things happened after Vahn’s body was pulled into the Greater Grail, the first among them being a powerful pressure that seemed intent on compressing his body into its small form. At the same time, however, Vahn’s sense of touch began to rapidly fade before, instead of pure darkness, he found himself in an empty space. The pressure on his body faded away, taking with it the burning sensation of his skin melting away as he landed soundlessly on a blue-black plane. When his feet touched the ‘surface’, a pulse of runes spread through the area like ripples in a pool before a figure formed a few meters away from him. When Vahn saw who it was, he couldn’t help but release a dry laugh before greeting, “Long time no see, Akasha…”

Looking as distinctly synthetic and ‘alien’ as he remembered, Akasha had formed wearing the same grey-black dress that seemed to be part of her actual body. This was the first time he had seen her standing so Vahn was a little surprised to notice she was actually a little taller than him, a perfect 200cm. Though she had the semblance of what could be called breasts, combined with the curves you would expect from a woman, he had the distinct impression gender wasn’t really a factor to the existences beyond the Root. Her ‘dress’ actually left her abdomen and pelvic mound visible, showing that Akasha’s body was more like a doll than anything more ‘biological’. This, combined with her neat bob-cut hairstyle, bisected down the middle with a non-refractive black and light blond only further added to her alien appeal. Of course, the thing that stood out the most was her eerie smile and her vibrant red eyes that had small lines of runes running through their depths…

Apparently choosing to ignore Vahn’s greeting, Akasha tapped the empty air in front of her as she explained, “My superiors have been closely observing your activities after entering the experiment. The power you have displayed is beyond our initial classification. In order to ascertain the nature of your existence, my experiment and classification have both been upgraded to grant me greater authority. For this, you have my gratitude…”

Though she said she was grateful, Vahn felt that even Scáthach was more expressive than Akasha as she continued to tap on various different windows that had appeared before her. She seemed to be analyzing a great deal of information, likely pertaining to him. He wasn’t even remotely surprised to know they had been observing him, especially since they could probably use the same skills he had been ‘gifted’ as a tracking beacon. Since they needed to be able to determine when he was actually up against one of his targets, it was obvious his actions were being heavily monitored. Because of this, Vahn had been careful never to mention anything related to The Path, even though he also made no real efforts to keep its functions hidden. This was likely what had caught their attention as, no matter what kind of scan Akasha had used on him, there was no way they would be able to probe The Path and its functions…

After sorting through whatever information she was going over, Akasha swiped her hand across the air, dismissing all the windows before saying, “Your primary objective has not changed. However, as the parameters of the experiment have evolved, I have been tasked with updating you on your own status. Termina Nasua has given you a Priority Classification of [A]. You are now able to act freely within the Root without restriction. Currently, identifying you has become the highest priority of Root Designation: Akasha. To facilitate this, the Heaven’s Feel ritual has been modified so that you can contact me by coming into contact with the Greater Grail. I have been authorized to assist you to the fullest extent of my abilities. Keep in mind, however, that I cannot use power greater than what is contained within the Greater Grail at the time of contact.”

Vahn had been silently listening to Akasha drone on with his focus split between listening to her and trying to analyze the surroundings. When he heard she was going to be ‘helping’ him, however, his attention shifted back to her as he asked, “Are you saying I can essentially make a wish?” This caused a few runes to flash across Akasha’s eyes before she nodded her head and answered, “According to the information I have access to, I believe this would be an accurate interpretation. However, I have been expressly prohibited from granting you access to anything that could modify your existence. The purpose of the experiment is to observe your natural evolution so I am unable to provide the means to ‘increase your strength’ outside the bounds of our initial agreement.”

As he had never expected Akasha to be able to help him do something like increasing his power to Tier 5 in a single leap, Vahn wasn’t all that disappointed to hear her clarification. Just knowing he could ask for almost anything else was more than enough, especially since there were plenty of means to increase his strength within the Root itself. To better understand what he could request, Vahn pulled a table and a set of chairs out of his Inventory, causing a massive volume of runes to flash across Akasha’s eyes as he asked, “Mind answering a few questions for me…?” This was met by an immediate nod by the alienesque woman before, without even moving from where she had been standing previously, she appeared sitting in the chair in an instant.

With his own understanding of Space and Time being far inferior to Akasha’s, Vahn decided to just walk over and sit down nstead of pointlessly trying to show off. After taking a seat, he pulled out some tea and snacks, pouring a cup for himself and Akasha as he asked, “Can you explain any other restrictions I need to be aware of? Like, if I asked you something crazy like giving me access to the Throne of Heroes, would that be allowed?”

Though she had been attentively watching each of his actions, Akasha didn’t even waste a single microsecond before answering, “It has been observed that you are able to alter causality and fate by coming into contact with the variables that had been assigned to help regulate the system. Providing access to the Throne of Heroes is within my authority to approve. In order to access it, however, you will need to establish an ‘Anchor’ and a ‘System’ on the same scale as the Greater Grail.”

Seeing how she didn’t even hesitate to answer in the affirmative, Vahn’s brain was abuzz with thoughts of how he could use this to advantage. He was already intending to make an organization to rival the three major powers in the world. Though the assistance of his current Servants would be extremely useful, he knew it probably wouldn’t be enough to completely unroot the darkness that existed behind society. If he could potentially summon a limitless number of Servants, however, it became a far more practical goal. From the moment he was able to establish a base of operations and establish a ‘System’, he would already be well on his way to achieving his goals…

With thoughts of the future in mind, Vahn was almost tempted to ask if they could grant power to someone like Fenrir but, as soon as that thought crossed his mind, Vahn just as quickly dismissed it. Even if they could make her an all-powerful existence, he didn’t want anyone messing around with one of his Subordinates, especially one as irreplaceable as Fenrir. This also meant he couldn’t really ask her to empower any of his other Servants as, without asking for their consent beforehand, Vahn didn’t want to make such decisions for them. What this didn’t prevent him from doing, however, was asking, “The existence known as ‘Primate Murder’…is it possible to separate him from Illya and keep him sealed away?”

Once again, Akasha immediately answered, “It should not have been possible for a human or a homunculus to become the vessel of Primate Murder. As this is an anomaly within the system, I am not authorized to separate the two. It is the decision of my superiors that such cases are meant to be observed from start to finish without interference. This same principle applies all anomalies that have come into existence as a result of your inclusion within the experimental field.”

Based on Akasha’s words, Vahn was able to conclude that it was his existence that had led to Illya and Cath Palug being fused. Now he felt guilty about her situation and, even though he had already decided to help make her happy, Illya had been elevated on his list of priorities. With that in mind, Vahn decided to clear some things up, asking, “The Holy Grail War…was it affected by my presence?” Since there were ‘a lot’ of abnormal occurrences, including the participation of several still-living entities, Vahn felt the need to hear it directly from Akasha.

As she was ought to do, Akasha immediately answered, ‘Yes. Before your entrance into the timeline, the Sixth Fuyuki Holy Grail War would have been intervened by the Holy Church on the eleventh day. This would have caused open conflict between the Mage’s Association and the Holy Church, the final result being the dismantling of the Greater Grail after the Fuyuki City Leyline was partially destroyed in the final clash between Artoria Pendragon and Gilgamesh. Initially, there were only seven Servants, consisting of the Goddess Ishtar, Cú Chulainn, Medea, Heracles, and Hassan-i-Sabbah.”

Feeling that his tea suddenly became rather stale, Vahn released a sigh as he set the cup down on the table and reflected over the past couple of days. Though he knew his presence could ‘greatly’ affect events that would take place in a Record, he hadn’t expected his relatively small Karma to have such far-reaching effects. At the same time, however, Vahn felt this was only natural as, even before he had truly decided to help out Rin, he already expected to have a significant impact on the world. He was even planning on uprooting the organizations that have kept humanity pacified, essentially changing the fundamental nature of how the world was run. It was a given that the flow of fate in the world would react in accordance with his intentions…

Deciding he would think more deeply about his future requests to Akasha, Vahn kept it relatively simple this time around by asking, “Though you might not be willing to ‘intervene’, can you do things like reviving all the people that had become innocent victims during this Holy Grail War? If you can undo the damage to the City, that would also be extremely helpful.” This, however, was immediately denied by Akasha, explaining, “It would be possible to create artificial lifeforms that would be able to emulate the existence of the lives that had been lost, but there is no way to guarantee the same soul would be implanted within an active timeline. Without any fate, each of them would die within a few months time. It would match your intentions better if the existence of those who were killed is erased from the timeline entirely. This will erase any memories pertaining to their existence from the minds of everyone inhabiting the timeline.”

With what he knew of the soul, Vahn was able to understand the inherent truth within Akasha’s words. Thus, even though he felt extremely apologetic to the people who had lost their lives, Vahn released a tired sigh before saying, “Do it…” This caused Akasha to lift her hand, tapping a few runes that had appeared within the air on a monitor that seemed to appear at her convenience. When she was finished, without skipping a beat, Akasha stated, “This action did not require any power. You may make another request.”

Vahn didn’t know if he should be happy or sad with Akasha essentially admitting that she had erased the ‘existence’ of thousands of people without any effort at all. Knowing he couldn’t really change the facts, however, Vahn gave a small nod before asking, “Can you return Angra Mainiiu to wherever he came from before the Einzberns summoned him? Also, since you’re supposed to be helping me, how about giving me a catalyst to serve as the core of my own ‘System’ later on? Though I could eventually collect the required materials myself, it would save a lot of time to have something on the level of the Greater Grail without having to produce it. Since I’m certain your superiors want to see what I’m capable of as soon as possible, I imagine they wouldn’t be too interested in watching me waste time collecting simple materials…”

This time, Akasha didn’t answer immediately as, deep within her red eyes, seemingly infinite strings of runes began to pour down like rain. A few seconds later, she answered, “Angra Mainiiu is one of the ‘common factors’ that cannot be erased. Sealing him away is not an issue but my superiors want to see if you are able to destroy him through your own efforts. You will be afforded a ten year period to make preparations before he will be released upon the world. To compensate, your request for a catalyst has been granted. Since your failure would result in the destruction of mankind, the Counter Force, Alaya, has been assigned to assist you. Your Classification and Priority have been upgraded to supersede the objectives of other regulatory entities.”

As she spoke, Akasha’s hands moved around at speeds faster than even Vahn’s eyes could follow, her fingers seeming to tap every rune on her ‘keyboard’ simultaneously. By the time she was finished speaking, she blinked for the first time Vahn had ever witnessed before saying, “This request has consumed 94.71853% of available reserves. Is there something else?”

Vahn’s mind had blanked after hearing Akasha mention he only had ten years until the world would essentially be forced to face its doomsday. He wasn’t even given the time to alter the nature of his request, emphasizing the fact that Akasha’s superiors had truly changed the focus of the experiment to observing him. Now, in a single instant, Vahn felt like he had the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. This caused a profound chill to spread through his mind, followed by an extreme level of frustration knowing that there was virtually nothing he could do to prevent the ‘Administrators’ from messing with him. If they were willing to let entire worlds be destroyed just to see how he would act, Vahn knew there was little else they wouldn’t do just to see how he would react…

After suppressing the urge to simply eject from the Record, Vahn released a heavy sigh before doing his best to muster as much resolve as possible. He had already fled his home and, as Record Tiers had a lot of similarities, Vahn knew he would probably face similar difficulties in other Records. Since he had already made several promises, he decided to simply do his best to face whatever Akasha’s superiors threw at him. At the very least, this would serve as a powerful stimulus to help his strength increase. Since Sub-Space Orbs would practically increase the time he had to around 60-70 years, Vahn believed he would be more than prepared to face Angra Mainiiu and whatever followed him…

Feeling marginally more determined, Vahn looked into Akasha’s emotionless red eyes and asked, “Can you convert the remaining energy into something like magical cores and gemstones? I’m sure your records show that I require precious resources to supplement my abilities. I’m already at less than half the reserves I had upon entering the Root…” Vahn let his words trail off as, even before he had finished his question, Akasha simply waved her hand. This simple motion caused a massive gemstone the size of a small hill to appear right next to where they were seated. It had a subtle blue glow and, even at a glance, Vahn was able to tell that it was almost a pure amalgamation of mana.

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While Vahn was staring at the giant gemstone, Akasha’s eyes changed to a golden color as she stated, “We will observe the conversion process directly this time. Please proceed.” This snapped Vahn out of his stupor, causing him to issue a wry smile before he went through the process of breaking the hill into smaller fragments that could be thrown into his Inventory. Akasha didn’t say anything throughout the entire process which, by the time it had been completed, afforded Vahn a commendable 473 million OP. Since he assumed she would want some data that could actually be used, Vahn explained, “This was enough to replace about a quarter of what I have used thus far…”

As if she hadn’t expected him to be ‘cooperative’, Akasha blinked a second time before nodding her head and tapping a few runes on her screen. When she was done, Akasha dismissed the interface before giving her unnatural smile and saying, “Your cooperation is appreciated. When you next need my assistance, please contact me through the Root once again.” Then, with her business completed, Akasha closed her eyes before ‘sinking’ into the bluish-black floor once again. After this, Vahn found himself back within the confines of the Greater Grail but, the moment he was aware of the burning pressure once again, it faded away immediately thereafter. From a strange golden rune that had appeared on the back of his hand, a singular pulse of energy passed through the Greater Grail as if it had erased the corruption of Angra Mainiiu in an instant. At the same time, now drained of its energy, the Greater Grail began to crack and fracture around him…allowing Vahn to see the shocked and confused faces of his companions…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Look at me…I’m the MC now’,’Not sure if gusta…’,’This is what is colloquially known as a ‘Bruh’ moment’)

(A/N: I wasn’t going to write any more this week, as this chapter bring me up to 116k words, but I got bored and couldn’t resist xD.)

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