Chapter 1092: Comparing Information

Though they were slightly pressed for time, Vahn wanted to wait until Illya had calmed down a bit before they returned to the Manor. He would need to discuss things with Rin a bit before reporting the completion of the Holy Grail War and the destruction of the Greater Grail. Originally, Rin would have been the one taking the fall for the grail’s destruction as, even if the Mage’s Association was upset by the event, there wasn’t too much they could do to her as one of the three families involved in the creation of the Heaven’s Feel ritual. With the destruction of the Makiri and the fact that Illya could make a strong case for becoming the Einzbern’s Head once again, they simply had no grounds to stand on if they wanted to try any of the involved parties. There was also the fact that Luvia and Lord El-Melloi II had already been intending to support Rin in the event of any trouble, putting the Mage Association in a difficult position if they wanted to try and throw around false accusations…

While thinking about the future, Vahn’s hands hadn’t been idle as both Fenrir and Circe had been receiving his ‘affection’ in the form of head pats. It seemed like Circe was quickly becoming fond of them after a short period of time, especially with how her ears would waggle adorably as she shifted her weight from side-to-side happily. Since now was the most convenient time to deal with it, Vahn caused her eyes to snap open when he removed his hand and said, “You need to turn everyone here back into a human. It will cause unnecessary antagonism towards our group if you transform normal civilians into animals. You’ve had your fun so it’s time to change them back…”

Though it didn’t seem like Circe was fond of the idea, given that she seemed to consider it deeply for several long seconds, she eventually nodded her head before answering, “Okay, but, in exchange, you’ll have to shower me with a whoooole lot more affection later~.” In response to this, Vahn gave a small nod of his own before plainly stating, “So long as you don’t go around causing trouble for others, I don’t mind pampering you every now and again. You should also keep in mind that I may punish you if you act out though…” Even if he hadn’t come up with a suitable punishment for Circe just yet, Vahn knew he would need ‘something’ to reign her in. She seemed a bit scatter-brained but Vahn figured she would ‘learn’ quickly if he treated the matter seriously…

Without taking Vahn’s warning to heart, Circe went out picking up each piglet before kissing their foreheads in turn. This caused the small animals to quickly begin morphing back into humans who, as Vahn should have anticipated, were all naked. Circe didn’t seem to care about this at all but, while Illya might not exactly look her age, Vahn felt it wasn’t a suitable sight for a young lady. Thus, after entrusting the task of taking care of the girls to Artoria and Fenrir, Vahn went through the process of helping change the Ryuudou Temple residents and visitors into more suitable attire. Fortunately, their memories during their transformation wouldn’t carry over as their ego and personalities were suppressed by Circe’s magic. To make sure there were no negative side-effects, however, Vahn had Merlin look around inside their minds and make the whole ordeal seem like nothing more than a strange dream…

By the time all of Circe’s victims had been tended to, including a fat and despotic individual who Circe begrudgingly pointed out as her former Master, Illya had finally calmed down enough to be able to hold a conversation. Though she had red and swollen eyes, there was a big smile on her face as she bowed in an overly polite manner and said, “Thank you…I am sorry for attacking you before. As I will be in your care from now on…if it pleases you, I would like it if you call me Illya.”

Though he had actually been referring to her as Illya this entire time, as that is how Rin and Artoria referred to her, Vahn knew it was ‘significant’ that Illya herself was giving him permission to. As a result, he gave a warm smile as he reached out his hand and began to stroke her surprisingly soft white hair. This initially caused her to flinch but, a few seconds after Vahn’s hand came into contact with her head, Illya’s face had morphed into a contented smile. Then, though it may not be the best way to phrase things, Vahn expression softened even further upon seeing her smile, followed by him stating in a gentle tone of voice, “I will do my best to make you happy, Illya…”

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Hearing Vahn’s words, Illya opened her big eyes and stared up at him as if she were able to see through whether or not he was telling the truth. Then, feeling the warm and inexplicably comfortable feeling coming from Vahn’s palm, Illya’s smile turned even more radiant as she gave an adorable “Nn!” Following this, Vahn felt like his heartstrings were being tugged on when Illya suddenly asked, “Is it okay if I call you…Onii-sama…?” Though she was going on thirty years old, Vahn was well over 150 and had intended to treat Illya almost like a surrogate daughter. If she wanted to be his little sister instead, however, he didn’t mind all that much. As a result, Vahn sent a wave of calming energy into her head as he answered, “Of course you can…Illya…”

With Illya in a state where moving around wouldn’t be troublesome for her, Vahn and co quickly returned to the Tohsaka Manor to avoid having to deal with the Holy Church and any other enemies that might appear. It was hard to know how people would be moving, especially after Akasha erased the memories associated with most of the Holy Grail War’s deaths. He was more than a little curious how something like Gilgamesh destroying a small part of the City would be ‘explained away’ now that there weren’t any victims of the event. At the same time, Vahn wondered whether or not the attack against the Makiri would have been included in the scope of Akasha’s memory erasure. If that were the case, Sakura’s position might become a little strange since there was a very real chance that any memory of the Makiri’s horrible Magecraft had also been erased…

Just as she had before, Nobunaga leaped down from her ‘roost’ atop the Manor before Vahn was able to pass through the gate. She passed her blood-red eyes across Circe and Illya for a brief moment before looking at Vahn with a taunting smile. This made it apparent that she was unable to see Alaya but, as that wasn’t all that important, Vahn’s expression hardened a bit as he said, “Don’t even start, Nobu…come, let’s go inside. I’ll explain everything once we’re all gathered together.” Since he knew Nobunaga was going to try and tease him about being a ‘lolicon’, Vahn tried to nip her expected reaction in the bud. Now was neither the time nor the place for such remarks as, if possible, he would rather Illya actually fall into the persona of a child instead of developing any strange thoughts…

Giving a dismissive shrug in response, Nobunaga then began tapping her matchlock on her shoulder as she did an about-face and led the way through the gate. She knew there was always some kind of reason behind everything Vahn did, even if it almost seemed nonsensical at times. Since he said he would explain things, Nobunaga was interested to hear what kind of fantastical story he would come up with this time around. Little did she know that, while her imagination had already gone to a few extremes, her wildest imagination was actually far tamer than what had actually happened…

As everyone else was heading into the Manor, Merlin came to a stop outside before tapping the ground to draw Vahn’s attention. When the latter looked back with a questioning look in his eyes, Merlin explained, “There are matters I must attend. Worry not, as I will find you when the times allow. The future you will create, I intend to see it with my own eyes. Until then, farewell, Vahn, Artoria, Illyasviel…” Though it looked like he was about to make the rounds and call everyone by name, Merlin’s body had vanished by the time he mentioned Illya. In a way, this made it clear that he was only interested in a few members of their group. Since Circe and Fenrir didn’t particularly care about him either, they, fortunately, didn’t seem to mind the small slight in the least…

After entering into the Manor proper, Rin was waiting for them in what looked like a sleeping robe as she nursed a cup of hot coffee. The light from sunrise was slowly beginning to brighten the horizon so it wasn’t all the difficult to imagine why Rin was tired after everything that happened the previous night. Though she hadn’t been involved in the fighting, it couldn’t be easy coping with the idea of suddenly having to raise your sister as if she were your daughter. Rin was probably thinking about all the hassles she would have to deal with, not because of Sakura, but due to the nature of the Mage’s Association and the Magus Community in general. This, combined with the fact that several enemies were lurking about, only added to her rising stress levels…

With a tired smile on her face, Rin supported her coffee cup with both hands as she said, “Welcome home…” In response to this, Vahn surprised her a great deal by casually walking forward and giving her a light kiss on her forehead before answering, “We’re home…” in a slightly teasing voice. This seemed to help Rin wake up a great deal, as her fatigued expression melted away into a far more bashful one as she turned away from Vahn and complained, “Not in front of everyone…” in a demure manner. Though Vahn had kept his actions relatively tame, Rin could see Illya standing next to Fenrir, something that made her feel more than a little uncomfortable since the young girl was actually her senior…

Once Rin had calmed down a bit, Vahn spent the better part of two hours explaining the situation to her, including the details surrounding his contact with the Root, the fact that Alaya was now assisting him, and his intentions for creating an organization to oppose Angra Mainiiu in the future. Each of these revelations garnered an almost comical response from Rin who, by the time Vahn had finished, couldn’t help releasing a tired sigh as she complained, “I swear, everything you do is so ‘extreme’…” Though Rin had thought she was beginning to get used to how chaotic things around Vahn seemed to get during the Holy Grail War, these new revelations reinforced the idea that she was a much ‘smaller’ existence than he was. These emotions, however, weren’t enough to stop her from lightly slapping her own cheeks before saying, “Yosh! I might not be able to do much right now, but I’ll do my best to help find support within the Mage’s Association. Once I’ve sorted out all the things I need to take care of, I’ll come and help you out directly…just make sure there is still a place for me, okay?”

If not for the fact they were seated across from each other, Vahn would have run his hand along Rin’s back to remind her of the fact she had his crest permanently embedded there. Since this wasn’t an option, he instead smiled affectionately before stating in a sincere tone, “Always.” Though he could have used more flowery words, Vahn figured keeping it simple was more than enough to get his point across. Given how Rin showed a genuine smile, complete with a small blush, Vahn figured it had been effective.

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With the larger explanations completed, Vahn and Rin had started to discuss how they would deal with the Mage’s Association in the future, specifically what they would tell Lord El-Melloi II. With the Greater Grail having been destroyed, there was bound to be a few issues that would need to be addressed in the short term. To make things a little easier, Vahn agreed to turn over a few fragments of the Greater Grail so smoothen things over as, with something to gain from the situation, it would be much easier to pacify the Mage’s Association. Following this, they also discussed how Sakura was faring, a topic that brought a conflicted smile to Rin’s face as she explained, “I’m not quite sure what to make of the situation, honestly…

Understanding that the topic was probably going to get sensitive, Vahn had Fenrir go get Illya situated in one of the guest bedrooms while Scáthach’s gaze was enough to get Circe to behave and grant them some privacy. Since Nobunaga had already left after listening to Vahn’s explanation, this only left him, Rin, and the silent Alaya in the room after Artoria politely excused herself. As Alaya would still be ‘present’, even if he asked her to leave, Vahn decided it was best to simply ignore her for the time being as he asked, “Did something happen…?” It was easy to see from Rin’s behavior that something unexpected had occurred, perhaps due to the fact the Makiri had been eliminated and potentially ‘erased’ from memory…

Now that Vahn was seated next to her, Rin had already started leaning into his shoulder as she released a tired sigh and answered, “Her memories seem ‘wrong’…the first thing she called me after waking up was ‘Okaa-chan’…” After this, Rin went into great detail about how Sakura seemed to genuinely believe that Rin was her mother, even though her appearance wasn’t all that similar to their actual mother, Aoi Tohsaka. By the time she was finished explaining everything, Vahn already had a good idea what had happened as, during that time, Merlin had undoubtedly been spying on them. Though he had likely intended it as an act of good faith, the fact he had essentially re-written Sakura’s memories was a marginally uncomfortable thought. It wasn’t all that dissimilar to what he had done, however, so Vahn couldn’t exactly blame the errant Magus for wanting to help…

With that in mind, Vahn discussed his thoughts with Rin, causing her to actually show a bit of relief as, before then, she thought Sakura was just projecting after experiencing a deep trauma. Though it was more than a little heartbreaking to imagine that Sakura had forgotten their actual mother, she felt it might be the best, at least for the time being. What had happened to their mother was a tragic event that Sakura was, perhaps, better off never learning of. At the same time, however, Rin couldn’t help producing a wry smile as she leaned against Vahn’s shoulder and muttered, “To think I suddenly have a six-year-old daughter at only twenty-seven…I wonder how I’m supposed to explain this to everyone back at the Clock Tower…”

Though there weren’t all that many people that knew about her actual family situation, Rin knew that the higher-ups within the Mage’s Association would be able to put the pieces together quickly. This ultimately didn’t change her plans but, knowing there was a chance one of her enemies would try to reveal the truth to Sakura, Rin couldn’t help feel a little apprehensive. The next few years were going to be especially difficult as, with the fallout of the Holy Grail War, all of her actions would be heavily scrutinized. For a brief moment, she even thought about entrusting Sakura to Vahn as, no matter how she looked at it, it felt like he would be a better Guardian than she could be a Mother. However, remembering how much she already owed Vahn, regardless of how he saw things, Rin didn’t want to trouble him with her family’s issues…

Regardless of Rin’s own intentions, Vahn could feel her apprehension and had already decided he would get involved with the two sisters turned Mother-Daughter. In response to Rin’s concerns about the Clock Tower, Vahn plainly stated, “I know you have a few things to take care of within your own faction and alliance. You should consider entrusting Sakura to the care of the Edelfelt or El-Melloi families until you are able to stabilize. After that, I can come retrieve the two of you once I have established the roots of my organization. With your knowledge of the inner workings of the Mage’s Association and the Magus Community, there is a chance we can avoid troublesome conflicts before the emergence of Angra Mainiiu in ten years time…”

Hearing Vahn essentially telling her to come and live with him in the future, Rin felt her heart begin to speed up a bit, even though she was already intending to join his organization in the future. The only thing that could have made her happier right now is if he suddenly claimed that he would no longer freely hand out his love like pieces of candy that seemingly anyone could grab. She could only imagine how many strong and capable Heroic Spirits he would have surrounded himself with by the time she and Sakura went to stay with him. Even though Vahn had shown great restraint in the past, something that had frustrated her greatly, Rin was very aware that this was no longer the case. Since many female Heroic Spirits had strong personalities and very ‘skewed’ perceptions of the relationships between men and women, Rin was afraid there would ‘literally’ be more than twenty women surrounding Vahn in just a few year’s time…

Releasing a heavy sigh, Rin once again admonished herself for falling in love with a man who had no restraint when it came to interacting with powerful women. Since Ereshkigal and Ishtar were also fond of him, on top of making her body their ‘permanant’ vessel, there wasn’t much she could do about the situation. After all, Vahn was a very capable man and, even with all his failings, he would still make a good father to Sakura. Of course, when this thought crossed her mind, Rin’s face turned scarlet as she began to pinch Vahn’s side, even if it was completely ineffective against him. This futile action only put an affectionate smile on the latter’s face, exacerbating Rin’s embarrassment a great deal…

After collecting herself a bit, Rin decided to get ‘even’ with Vahn, even if it was actually just a poor excuse to see how he would respond. With that in mind, Rin looked directly at him with a ‘serious’ expression on her face as she asked, “Will you be Sakura’s father? I’m not sure if Merlin gave her any memories related to a secondary parental figure. If…” Before Rin could stammer on any further, Vahn quickly settled the turmoil in her heart by showing an equally serious expression as he answered, “Of course. Though our familial situation will undoubtedly be a little strange, I have no problem fulfilling the responsibilities as Sakura’s father…” As he said this, Vahn slipped his hand around Rin’s waist, an action that made her heart begin to beat even faster since it almost felt like he was laying claim to her. However, when she thought about all the things she owed Vahn, Rin felt this was a surprisingly appropriate way to view the situation…

Though Vahn hadn’t exactly implied that they were married, Rin knew they would still have to fill out a family registry together as Sakura’s parents. This caused her face to turn beet red as she began to breathe audibly through her nose. Since it felt like she was ‘expecting’ it, Vahn used this opportunity to lean in and give Rin a probing kiss, one that almost immediately turned into something far more passionate. If not for the fact they were in the study, and there were other pressing matters to attend, things very well might have developed even further. At the same time, at least from Vahn’s perspective, the mood was somewhat ruined by the fact that Alaya was hovering over them as she closely observed their actions with her emotionless purple eyes…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Emperor, Onii-sama, Father, Master…what a day…’,’RIP Rin’s common sense’,’*Data Collection Intensifies*’)

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