Chapter 1093: Meeting

After helping Illya get situated and making sure that Sakura was still sleeping, Vahn, Rin, Fenrir, Artoria, and the lingering presence of Alaya all made their way towards the Fuyuki City Hyatt Hotel. Though it was very early in the morning, with a chilly air passing through the City, Vahn and co still drew a lot of attention to themselves. Artoria and Fenrir were both wearing casual clothing as the latter used her transformation magic to conceal her ears and tail. With Rin’s beauty also being rather exceptional, Vahn was garnering a lot of hateful stares from the men rushing to their jobs while the girls themselves were earning similar stares from other women. Since Vahn was uncommonly handsome, while also having a natural aura due to his [Will of the Emperor], many girls assumed he was an extremely wealthy CEO or, at the very least, a profligate man with a ‘greedy’ nature they would have liked to exploit for themselves…

Fortunately, even without Vahn needing to keep them away, the slight bloodlust that lingered around Fenrir was more than enough to cause most people to give them a wide berth. Even a group of street punks, who seemed to have taken an interest in the girls surrounding Vahn, immediately retreated into an alleyway after Fenrir passed her gaze over them for just a moment. Since they had probably troubled other people in the past, Vahn also didn’t let them off too easily. When they had vanished from the main throughways, he sent a little ‘pulse’ of condensed killing intent that caused the men to immediately collapse on the spot. The one that appeared to be their leader even lost control over his bladder, releasing a foul-smelling liquid that caused steam to rise from his pants…

By the time Vahn and co reached the Fuyuki City Hyatt Hotel, it was a little after 7 AM but, with a number of people from the Mage’s Association and Holy Church moving about, it was obvious that Lord El-Melloi II wasn’t able to rest peacefully. Before Vahn was even able to meet the baggy-eyed Magus, however, he encountered someone brand new within the lobby that caused Rin’s expression to immediately sour. This wasn’t just her reaction, though, as Vahn also felt an unnatural level of hostility radiating from this woman from the moment his eyes met her’s.

Though her appearance was almost ‘flawless’, as it was very clear she put a lot of effort into maintaining her image, there was an extreme level of hostility contained within her hazel-brown eyes. Since she also had a haughty expression that appeared to have been ‘fixed’ into a contemptuous glare, Vahn’s impression of her was rapidly on the decline. Even with her well-tended brown hair, set in a neat ponytail, Vahn could tell by her pseudo-military style garb and the small metal baton she kept at her hip that she was likely a violent woman by nature. She even had a complex metal gauntlet on her right hand which, at a glance, made Vahn’s skin tingle due to the Holy Element radiating off of it…

Almost as soon as Vahn and co had made their appearance, the woman fixed her gaze on Vahn before turning her cold eyes towards Rin and saying, “Miss Tohsaka…I was wondering when you would finally show your face here. To think the Head of the Tohsaka family needs to rely on the grace of Lord El-Melloi II to cover for your shamelessness. Do not think I will allow that old fool to protect you this time around…” After saying these harsh words to Rin, the brown-haired woman then turned her attention to Vahn. Before she was able to say anything to him, however, Vahn had activated his [Will of the Emperor] completely, causing a building-shaking pressure to radiate from his body as he coldly stated, “How uncouth…” At the same time, he infused [Enkidu] into his domain, giving it a suppressive golden aura that would interfere with any attacks she might try to use against him…

Having already unfurled her baton in the same instant that Vahn released his domain, the woman was glaring at him with equally cold eyes. If not for the fact that Artoria had already transformed into her battle-ready form and was standing between them, she would have already attacked. Though she didn’t know Vahn’s ‘true’ identity, she was very aware of who the swordsman protecting him was. Since most of her abilities wouldn’t be able to affect an entity comprised almost entirely of Holy Elemental energy like Artoria, the woman decided not to immediately attack. Instead, she stared back at Vahn, asking, “What are you…?”

It was at this point that a familiar baritone voice answered out from the corridor connecting to the elevators, “I have already given my report to the Clock Tower. He is not the type of enemy you make sport of, Madam Barthomeloi. Now, as I am certain Miss Tohsaka has come here to explain tonight’s events, I would ask that you not impede my duties further.” Though his status was insignificant compared to the woman before him, as she was actually the Vice-Director of the entire Clock Tower, the Magus known as ‘The Queen’, Barthomeloi Lorelei, Lord El-Melloi II knew she would never besmirch her family’s dignity by impeding official business. After all, she was the Head of one of the Clock Tower’s three most prestigious families, the latest in a long line of Magus Nobility that has existed for nearly two-thousand years.

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Raising her head, almost as if she were pointing her nose up at Lord El-Melloi II, Madam Barthomeloi coldly stated, “It is beneath you to stick your neck out on behalf of fallen families. Though, perhaps it is the nature of failures to seek comfort in each other’s company? Well, I suppose there is still hope for both of your families if you produce a suitable heir. And to think, I had mistakenly believed that little ‘pet’ of yours had been enough to keep you satiated…” With these harsh and abrasive words, implying that Lord El-Melloi II and Rin were more than simple associates, Madam Barthomeloi made her way towards the exit. In passing, she glared at Vahn with her cold brown eyes, lightly tapping her baton against her leg as if she were considering whether or not to attack him…

Understanding she wasn’t worth the trouble of associating with, Vahn made a point of rolling his eyes in response to her cold glare. This caused her brows to furrow but, already on her way out, Madam Barthomeloi just raised her head a little more before ‘ignoring’ him. If not for the fact that he could tell she was a very powerful Magus, Vahn would have pulled a bit of a prank on her by using [Enkidu] as a tripwire. With her head raised, he figured she would be unable to react in time if he brought out the chains just as she was about to descend the steps. Though she would probably be able to right herself without actually tripping, it was a very tempting thought nonetheless…

Though he couldn’t be blamed for Barthomeloi Lorelei’s behavior, Lord El-Melloi II gave a polite bow almost as soon as her entourage had left the building. His long black hair fell forward like curtains as he sincerely stated, “Allow me to apologize for my superior’s behavior. I had hoped she would have left before your arrival but I believe she was waiting around just to see you for yourself…” When he said this, Lord El-Melloi II was staring at Vahn, making it clear that Madam Barthomeloi had likely been sent here in response to his actions in the Holy Grail War. Before he could ask what the Mage’s Association was up to, Lord El-Melloi II gave another bow towards Rin, saying, “Her words toward you and Gray were unnecessarily harsh. Please do not take them to heart…”

As this wasn’t the first time she had been on the receiving end of a tongue lashing by the Vice-Director, Rin just crossed her arms before shaking her head in an exasperated manner and saying, “Her words toward you were equally as harsh. Do not apologize on behalf of that vile woman…” These words elicited an understanding nod from Lord El-Melloi II but, as he couldn’t simply allow Rin to badmouth her superiors, he lightly reprimanded, even though there was a smile on his face. After this, the group made their way to the penthouse which, even after Luvia had returned to London, served as the Command Center for the Mage’s Association. It was here that Vahn learned the reason for Madam Barthomeloi’s appearance.

Even with the thousands of disappearances ‘forgotten’, Akasha had allowed the annihilation of the Makiri family and the death’s of the Holy Church’s Exorcists to remain. In response, the Holy Church had sent some of its heavy hitters, eliciting a similar response from the Mage’s Association as, no matter how they tried to spin it, even a blind man could see that the Holy Church was making a play for the Holy Grail. As they would never allow such a powerful object to fall into the Holy Church’s hands, especially since it belonged to three prominent families belonging to the Mage’s Association, they had sent Madam Barthomeloi and her forces to keep order. She was apparently strong enough to even fight against Dead Apostle Ancestors on her own and, though there were a few naysayers, she was ‘officially’ recognized as the most powerful female Magus in the present era…

Without needing to ask why she would harbor animosity towards him, Lord El-Melloi II took it upon himself to explain, “Madam Barthomeloi has a propensity towards hunting down and eliminating Vampires. As you appeared out of nowhere, the Mage’s Association sent her to ascertain whether or not you were someone who had been given power by a Dead Apostle Ancestor as, with very few exceptions, incredibly powerful individuals are usually well known before they gain power. Since you had even summoned Nobunaga, someone known as a ‘Demon King’, the Mage’s Association fears that you may become a thorn in their side in the future…”

Vahn was tempted to laugh at Lord El-Melloi II’s words but, understanding the man wasn’t entirely on his side, he decided against it and asked, “What is her issue with Rin and Gray…?” Though it might not have been his place to ask, especially with Rin sitting right next to him, it was also true that they were a little ‘more’ than simple friends now. Until the truth came forward, he was Sakura’s father and, though they weren’t married, Rin would be playing the part of her mother. Perhaps it was because of this but, even though she might have taken offense in normal circumstances, Rin didn’t interrupt even when Lord El-Melloi II cast his gaze towards her.

Taking Rin’s silence as consent, Lord El-Melloi II slightly furrowed his brows as he answered, “Though the Tohsaka family has been a part of the Mage’s Association for generations, their affiliation with the Clock Tower is still very recent. Before then, they were known to have ties with the Holy Church and, though it had little to do with Rin, there are many who hold her accountable for the failure in the previous Holy Grail Wars. As for the hostility towards Gray…” When he got to this point, Lord El-Melloi II looked at Artoria, his expression paling slightly as he took a deep breath through his nose to stay calm.

Artoria blinked in surprise at Lord El-Melloi II’s response as, from her perspective, it had only been around three months since she saw the boy who had participated in the Fourth Holy Grail War. She was unable to place him with the weak and frail child that had barely scraped by on the laurels of the powerful Iskandar. This didn’t go both ways, however, as Lord El-Melloi II knew exactly who Artoria was and, though he had developed his confidence greatly over the past twenty years, his trauma from that time was rising to the surface as he saw her face up close. It was due to the memories her face brought to his mind that Lord El-Melloi II required Gray to wear a hood, even though he knew it was unfair to the poor girl…

After collecting himself, Lord El-Melloi II answered, “I will not speak on Gray’s behalf. However, as I’m sure you have noticed, she bears a striking resemblance to Artoria. It is due to the circumstances surrounding her development that Madam Barthomeloi chooses to disdain my protege…if you want more details, I am afraid you would have to ask Gray directly…” Though these words were indeed not a surprise to Vahn and Rin, Artoria’s brows shot up a great deal as she immediately asked, “You claim this woman named Gray shares my appearance?” As she had never thought to encounter someone like Gray, Artoria was interested to see what kind of person she was.

In response to Artoria’s words, Lord El-Melloi II had to take a few deep breaths to calm himself before explaining, “Gray is part of the investigation team looking into the destruction of the Makiri family. Of the one-hundred-fourteen members that inhabited the main estate, only a few servants had been spared during the massacre. The Patriarch of the family, Zouken Matou, known within private circles as Zouken Makiri, had even been completely eviscerated. His body was found in such a wretched state that the only way he could be identified was by the ring he kept on his left hand…”

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As Lord El-Melloi II was speaking, he cast his eyes towards Vahn, almost as if to say that he was aware of the role he played in the massacre. This, however, didn’t phase Vahn in the slightest as he asked in genuine curiosity, “Have the investigation teams been able to identify why they were attacked? There must have been something for an entire family to be pushed to the brink of extinction like that…” Since he had entrusted the task to Scáthach, Vahn was confident there would be no signs that Crest Worms ever existed in association with the Makiri family. Though this made them seem ‘innocent’ on the surface, he didn’t mind if the few survivors Scáthach had spared were treated as victims deserving empathy. The more important thing to him was that Sakura’s past would never be exposed to Rin before their surrogate daughter grew happily into a young woman…

Seeing how Vahn reacted, Lord El-Melloi II experienced a small amount of shock as, unless Vahn’s acting skill was far beyond his ability to see through, it appeared as though he had no involvement in the massacre. Since his impression of Vahn actually made him into a somewhat ‘transparent’ and honest man, Lord El-Melloi II now felt a little uncomfortable since this would imply that there was another force at work behind the scenes, one that could wipe out an established Magus family in a short few hours. He didn’t allow his concerns to show on his face, however, smoothly answering, “It is because they have been unable to ascertain why an enemy would wipe out the Makiri’s that the investigations are ongoing…”

The entire time he was speaking, Lord El-Melloi II looked for any changes in Vahn’s expression but, other than a mild curiosity, he couldn’t see anything else contained within his eyes. This caused Lord El-Melloi II to shake his head slightly before saying, “I believe this line of conversation has already drawn on long enough. Now, Rin, please explain what you know about what happened during the previous evening. How close are we to completing our objective…?” Since Vahn had Artoria and Fenrir with him, Lord El-Melloi II had mistakenly believed that the Holy Grail War was still ongoing. This caused Rin to produce a wry smile while, sitting next to her, Vahn couldn’t help but laugh in a lighthearted and amused manner.

Taking pity on Lord El-Melloi II, Rin gave a brief summary explaining that the Greater Grail had already been destroyed. She didn’t mention anything about the emergence of Angra Mainiiu in ten years, as that would undoubtedly be prophesied at some point in the near future. Though she trusted Lord El-Melloi II, Rin was already in the mindset of helping Vahn keep his secrets. Since she was intending to join his faction in the future, there were no benefits in exposing his hand before he had already cemented his position somewhere. When the time came, she would try and bring Lord El-Melloi II and Luvia into an alliance with Vahn’s emergent faction, as it would be almost impossible for them to join it due to their familial circumstances…

Hearing that the Holy Grail War had already come to an end, Lord El-Melloi II didn’t know whether to laugh or cry since both the Mage’s Association and the Holy Church had ‘literally’ just started trying to intervene. Though this was the best possible outcome, he knew the next couple of days were going to be extremely stressful as he tried to explain to the higher-ups why he learned about the fact so late. Fortunately, Vahn and Rin gave him several large sections of the Greater Grail to serve as a ‘chip’ in his favor, making things marginally easier for him. His only concerns after that was why Vahn had decided to keep Artoria manifested, even though the Grail War had come to an end. It wouldn’t be the first time a Servant had been kept around after the completion of a war but, as Vahn wasn’t a simple existence, Lord El-Melloi II couldn’t help feeling that a headache was coming his way.

Though he could tell Vahn would probably never expose his hand, Lord El-Melloi II decided to try his luck by asking, “How long do you intend to keep Artoria manifested?” As he did not know that Vahn was able to access the Greater Grail using a non-standard method, Lord El-Melloi II assumed that Artoria was the only remaining Servant in Vahn’s arsenal. Vahn didn’t bother to go into such details, though he did smile as he answered, “Artoria is here to stay indefinitely.” This caused Lord El-Melloi II to release a heavy sigh in response, even though he suspected that would be the case. At the same time, however, he felt a little apologetic towards Gray since he knew the girl had become more than a little fond of Vahn as of late. He had even been thinking of giving her a long vacation since, over the last ten years, she had almost always been guarding his side and carrying out her duties with diligence…

Vahn noticed the judgmental glint in Lord El-Melloi II’s eyes, causing him to frown slightly since he didn’t like the way the man looked at him. The only thing that kept him from commenting further was due to the fact that the elevator was currently coming to a stop. Then, as if driven by some divine cue, Gray appeared in her usual getup, something that never seemed to change. Now that Vahn could see that Lord El-Melloi II’s trauma was likely the reason why she kept herself hidden away, he suddenly felt slightly antagonistic towards the man. People that expected others to ‘adapt’ to their sensitivities, just because they couldn’t get over themselves, were some of the worst types, at least in Vahn’s opinion. Because of his behavior over several years, it was easy to see that Gray had become increasingly self-conscious about her appearance, even though she was actually a very beautiful woman…

Seeing everyone in the room looking at her, Gray shrunk back instinctually until she noticed that one of the people present was Vahn. This caused a small smile to spread across her lips, at least until she saw what looked like a mirror-image of her past self staring back at her. Though she had known that Artoria was one of the summoned Servants, Gray had never expected to suddenly meet her like this. Her heart began to beat rapidly in her chest but, as if to clear away all her nerves in an instant, Vahn looked toward her with a gentle smile before saying, “Gray, it is good to see you up and about so soon. I was worried your trauma might have affected your mentality and affected your behavior…” As Vahn said the last few words, he turned an accusatory stare towards Lord El-Melloi II that made the man frown deeply…

Though she could sense the strange tension between Vahn and Lord El-Melloi II, Gray felt a lot better when Vahn expressed his concern with a smile. Her heart was still beating a little quickly, but it was for very different reasons as she walked towards the two sofas, gravitating towards Vahn’s side as if it were natural. She noticed that Artoria was looking at her with an intrigued glimmer in her green eyes, a stark contrast to the ‘proud’ and ‘noble’ woman she had heard so much about. Instead of the air of a King, Artoria seemed to radiate purity and innocence as she tilted her head somewhat adorably and said, “You really do look very similar to me. Though our hair and eyes are a different color, it is almost like looking into a mirror of my future self…”

If Artoria’s body wasn’t ‘fixed’ at the age of fifteen, it wasn’t wrong to assume she would look almost identical to Gray’s current appearance. Even then, however, the two weren’t all that different from each other from the start. Gray was only a single centimeter taller than Artoria and, unless you were looking ‘very’ closely, even her physical proportions were almost exactly the same. Only someone like Vahn, who knew both women’s bodies even better than they knew themselves, could see that Gray’s breasts were around 76cm, compared to Artoria’s 73cm. Their waist was exactly the same, both at a lithe 53cm, while Gray once again won out in the development of her butt. Artoria’s was ‘very’ soft, but it was rather small at 76cm while Gray’s was a perky 80cm after the ‘Nirvana Rebirth’. Though Vahn hadn’t focused on the area, there were some things that had simply become a part of the process he had developed.

Vahn was currently unaware of the fact that Gray had actually interpreted the subtle changes in hip size as Vahn’s way of showing interest in her. She had tried to wear a pair of her old panties and noticed the band was a little uncomfortable compared to the past, something that had caused her to have a small flustered fit at the time. As a result, she had to wash the panties that Vahn had given her after his ‘operation’ before deviating from her usual duties to go buy some new underwear. Previously, her hip size had only ben 77cm so it was quite noticeable now that there was 3cm difference. When she saw her own butt in a standing mirror, it even looked considerably perky compared to the past.

Unaware of how her words had caused people’s thoughts to be wandering, Artoria gave Gray an appreciative nod before extending her hand and saying, “It may be a little late, but my name is Artoria Pendragon. If possible, I would like us to become friends in the future, Gray…?” Since it was uncommon for people in this era to only have a single name, Artoria was curious about Gray’s surname. In response to her implied question, Gray gave an awkward smile as she gingerly accepted Artoria’s hand and said, “Just Gray…if you are Vahn’s friend, you are my friend as well. If possible…I would like to get to know you better in the future…” As Artoria was ‘literally’ the person she was made to emulate, Gray was more than a little curious about the real King Arthur, the person people had tried to force her to become. She felt that getting to know Artoria better would finally give her the answers to many questions she had long ago given up on finding the answers to…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Oh look, Nobility acting like a c***. How rare…’,’Lord El-Melloi II is getting played pretty hard…’,’Poor Gray, she is already within the palm of the Godhand, just like her Ancestor…’)

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