Chapter 1095: Bond

Unlike how he would normally be ‘aware’ while unconscious, Vahn found himself floating in darkness for what felt like years before he finally began to return to his senses. In a way, Scáthach’s final attack was similar to when Musashi had cut him apart back in the Record of Danmachi. It was a strike that was close to the truest representation of ‘Spear Laws’. Scáthach had developed her understanding of the Spear to the point that, unless you had a comparable understanding of a similarly tiered Law, there was no way to even understand how you were defeated. Even with his immortal body and three processes, Vahn had experienced a state where, even though he wasn’t actually dead, it was almost impossible for him to comprehend still being alive…

Contrary to expectations, Vahn felt something soft against the back of his head and neck as he slowly opened his eyes to see Scáthach staring down at him. She was gently stroking her fingers through his hair, causing a comfortable tingling sensation to spread through Vahn’s mind as she gave him a lap pillow with her plump thighs. He immediately recognized the energy from her palm as ‘Petting’ energy, causing Vahn to released a sigh mixed with comfort and exasperation. It felt like there were no limits to what Scáthach was able to do, even copying one of the abilities he thought unique to himself without any difficulty. Still, it was undeniable that this situation was far more pleasant than he had expected, especially given Scáthach’s track record…

As if she had read his mind, Scáthach gently moved her fingers around Vahn’s scalp while explaining, “Though your training ended much sooner than expected, it is also true that you caused me to get serious. The way you used your preoccupation with Alaya to set a trap against me was brilliantly executed, even if your use of that ability is horrendous. In the future, we will end your training by having you enter into that state when you are near exhaustion. You should never become reliant on that kind of skill, but I will help you try and master it after you finish your other training…” With that said, Scáthach ran her finger along Vahn’s cheek before she rather unceremoniously rose to her feet.

Going from a state of comfort to suddenly bumping the back of his head against the hard ground, Vahn released a groan before rising to his feet shortly thereafter. He knew better than to try and use words to ‘complain’ as, unless you had an ‘actual’ point, it seemed like they just went in one ear and out the other. This didn’t mean there weren’t other ways in which Vahn could ‘rebel’ against this cold Teacher of his as, after stepping only a few centimeters away from Scáthach, he began tracing his thumb over one of the holes he had made on the fabric of her bodysuit. At the same time, his right hand snaked its way into the fabric of her undergarments before, using a practiced motion, Vahn tore through the fabric in one swift motion. Throughout this entire process, Scáthach just stared back at him with her blank red eyes as, even from Vahn’s perspective, he wasn’t really thinking about his actions and just ‘doing’ whatever he felt like doing…

Now that Scáthach no longer had the support of the Greater Grail, her cost efficiency was even worse than before. Though Vahn had given her a 200,000,000OP [Spirit Choker] to help ease the burden, it took an awkward twenty minutes before the glow in her eyes reached an intensity that showed she was ‘full’. This made him realize he would need to come up with a more effective means of sustaining her, inadvertently bringing his mind back to Sis’ mention of implanting one of his ‘cores’ into a Servant’s body. Since he had three processes, Vahn could easily produce two ‘backup’ cores to serve as a failsafe if his body was unexpectedly destroyed. With Scáthach being an almost unbeatable existence, it wasn’t exactly the worst place to store one of his ‘backups’…

Deciding he wasn’t in the best state of mind to make such decisions, Vahn lightly pinched Scáthach’s right nipple through the fabric of her bodysuit before asking, “How long until our next training session?” This almost immediately let to Scáthach answering, “With this amount of energy, I can sustain myself for around eleven hours if I spend five training Fenrir. So long as you prepare yourself for a more intense training session, you can use the next fifteen hours to recuperate. Since you seem a bit ‘restless’, make sure to release your tensions so you aren’t distracted during our training.” Since she wasn’t able to completely understand Vahn’s ‘random’ actions, Scáthach made the assumption it was Vahn’s instinctual draw towards powerful women that led to his aimless exploration of her body when supplying her with mana…

With her words finished, Scáthach immediately exited the Sub-Space Orb to go and retrieve Fenrir while Vahn, having already intended to do what she had suggested, made his way towards the lakeside residence. There was nothing quite like laying with a woman after hard work and training, especially knowing that the girls essentially expected him to seek them out after the fact. Though they used to watch his training from start to finish, most of the girls would end up leaving when it looked like Vahn was about to fall. They would either go to take care of their own business or wait in their rooms, wondering when he might come knocking on their door. The only exception to this was Artoria and, when she felt like picking him up, Nobunaga. This time, however, Artoria wasn’t alone as she sat at the small ‘picnic area’ near the almost pristine blue lake.

Seeing Artoria and Gray sitting next to each other, even Vahn would feel as if he was strangely unworthy to stand in their combined presence. Their uncanny resemblance, combined with Artoria’s ‘perfect’ mannerisms and Gray’s somewhat unapproachable aura made it feel like there was an invisible barrier around the table that he shouldn’t enter. This, of course, had no real effect on Vahn’s decision, however. Though he didn’t delude himself into thinking he could convince both girls to alight with him, just spending a few minutes talking with them would be a refreshing experience. As there was a very real chance they could actually get in the mood during the conversation, Vahn didn’t feel it was a waste of time to join them for tea, even in his somewhat high-tension state.

With Artoria rising to greet him, Gray quickly followed suit after flustering slightly at the unexpected interaction. She didn’t know why, but she felt ‘compelled’ to emulate Artoria’s behavior as, the longer they talked, the more she genuine aspired to be like her. Though she resented this idea in the past, Artoria seemed like a far more down-to-earth person than she expected, even if it was hard to keep pace with her sudden polite behavior and seemingly immutable bearing. Thus, when Artoria stopped speaking almost mid-sentence to rise up and greet Vahn, she did the same in a rather awkward manner with her hands neatly folded. She was just short of calling Vahn Master, a thought that turned her face scarlet when the word nearly left her mouth…

Feeling that the odds were leaning in his favor, Vahn gestured for the two to sit as he mused, “The two of you seem to be getting along rather well. It is refreshing to see you in such high spirits, Gray. Thank you for treating her well, Artoria…” In response to this, Artoria had a natural smile on her face as she gave a curt nod before saying, “I am proud to have such an outstanding descendent. I had never expected my genealogy to have persisted for more than fourteen hundred years. Though I feel troubled thinking about how this was managed, it still pleases me to interact with one of my own kin in the present…”

Hearing Artoria’s words, Vahn couldn’t help but perk up his brows as he asked, “Is it so difficult to believe that one of the most legendary historical Kings would have a lineage passed down through the ages?” Though Vahn also wasn’t sure how Artoria’s genes were passed down, as it was rumored that Queen Guinevere was barren, the fact Merlin had been present in her Era meant it shouldn’t have been that difficult for him to find a solution. At the same time, her father, Uther Pendragon, had an extended family line that even the most determined enemies would be hard-pressed to eliminate. He even found a few rather complicated family trees related to Arthur* within the system shop, some of which even included Gray’s name in them, a full thirty-seven generations descended…

What Vahn found troublesome was the fact that in most of the lineages he observed, Gray’s name was only ever attributed to a mother, never a father. Since he didn’t want to pry too much without her first revealing things on her own, Vahn didn’t look too deeply into it as he listened to Artoria somewhat awkwardly explain, “Though it is not difficult to imagine that my extended family was able to persist through the generations…I…my own descendant should not have been able to pass on their genes.” At this point, Artoria had a conflicted expression on her face but, whilst she may have kept the matter private in the past, this time she mustered up the resolve to explain, “Due to the machinations of fate…I was required to put the one person who could be considered my descendent to death…”

Artoria released a tired sigh before noticing that neither Gray nor Vahn was looking at her with eyes filled with judgment. Instead, Gray seemed to empathize with her while Vahn’s eyes immediately softened, his silence encouraging her to continue. Though it was a bit of a mood killer, Vahn’s interest in Artoria’s past far outweighed his libido. They would be together for upwards of sixty years, at the very least, so it was better to learn things like this early on. If he could, Vahn would help her find closure as it was clear for anyone to see that Artoria had a lot of regrets about her past…

Feeling a close kinship with Gray, and a deepening affection with Vahn, Artoria eventually hardened her heart as she explained, “I will not go into too many details of my struggles to produce an heir to inherit the throne…the only thing that ultimately matters was that I failed in my duty. This didn’t stop others from conspiring to seize the throne, however. In my later years, one of my own knights came forward claiming to be my legitimate son, a woman named Mordred. I do not know how she came to be, but she certainly inherited my looks and combat prowess…however, she did not possess the qualities of a King so I was forced to deny her claim as my heir. Later, after I had to deal with a civil uprising, Mordred led a rebellion in order to forcibly seize the throne. This was the same Battle of Camlann where I was supposed to have fallen…struck down by the blade of my former Knight and my only potential descendant…”

If Vahn were being honest, he hadn’t quite expected things to have played out in the way that Artoria had described them. There were certainly historical accounts of Mordred and the Battle of Camlann but, much like Artoria’s own gender, it was obvious things had been skewed greatly from the truth of the matter. Mordred was described as being a handsome and manly knight who swept through the battlefield with an almost unrivaled amount of skill. Hearing Artoria description of events, it was apparent that, while the rumors of ‘his’ skills were undoubtedly true, it was far more like that Mordred was a beautiful and petite woman instead of a burly and dominating man…

As if to try and console Artoria, Gray reached out her hand before hesitantly placing it on her shoulder as she explained, “I do not know what it is like to have to fight against your own child…but I understand how family can be a complicated mess…In order to make me more like you, I was treated as some kind of sacred idol that represented your physical rebirth. After that, my village even made several attempts to try and call your spirit into the present world to inhabit my body…killing my own ego and personality in the process. There are several times I should have died…even I do not know how I was able to remain myself…if I am even the same person I was back then…”

With Gray also dropping quite the bombshell, Vahn was beginning to feel as if the air within their ‘bubble’ was becoming increasingly tense. Since it seemed like the thing to do, he decided it was his turn to open up, releasing a heavy sigh before giving a barebones summary of his past, before his rise to becoming an Emperor. This seemed to catch Alaya’s attention as well but, as there wasn’t really anything he could do about her, Vahn chose to ignore her. Even if Akasha’s superiors tried to ‘replicate’ the experiment that they might misconstrue as the catalyst to produce another person like him, they were missing the most fundamental ingredient, his blood. He had no doubt they had been analyzing it during his battles with Scáthach but, no matter how they endeavored to try and crack its secrets, it was simply beyond the means of a Tier 5 entity.

Hearing Vahn recount his past, both Artoria and Gray were stunned into silence as, no matter how they looked at him, Vahn didn’t seem like someone who had undergone such a terrible experience. At the same time, however, they could tell he wasn’t trying to deceive them as it would have taken an almost impossible level of acting to fool their intuition. The realization that he was telling the truth shook both girls to the core as, even though their pasts were also filled with tragedy, it was also true that Artoria’s path had been cleared for her since birth. Even Gray, after being identified as Artoria’s second coming, spent much of her life essentially being worshipped by her entire village. Though their attempts to implant Artoria’s soul into her body had left her with deep and permanant mental scars, she couldn’t even imagine being crippled and imprisoned as people harvested her blood for fourteen years straight…

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Seeing that his story had been a little ‘too effective’ on Artoria and Gray, Vahn managed a wry smile before quickly regaining his confidence as he explained, “So long as there is life, there is the chance to make a better future for yourself and others. It is just like I told you during our first time together, Artoria…I am constantly moving forward. I’m not just looking for my own happiness either, but the happiness of everyone around me. I believe, if you really made the effort, you could even reconcile with Modred. She might not have had the qualities of a King, but that doesn’t mean the two of you couldn’t be parent and child here in the present. Instead of living with your regrets, you should look towards the infinite possibilities the future holds…there are no limits to any path, so long as you pick yourself back up each time you stumble…”

With Vahn suddenly mentioning their first time, Artoria’s face became somewhat humorous as she awkwardly smiled, even as her brows were furrowed slightly. The red hue on her face, however, was the only evidence required to understand she was feeling bashful. This was noticed by Gray who, before seeing Artoria’s reaction, hadn’t really connected the dots before now. Realizing that Vahn and Artoria had already had sex, she felt her heart begin to beat rapidly as a variety of tumultuous emotions intermingled within her mind. She could ‘easily’ imagine Vahn and Artoria together but, instead of a woman with blond hair and green eyes, the version her mind defaulted to had gray hair and blue eyes…

As if to hide her embarrassment, Artoria released a few coughs before straightening her back and asking, “Do you really think I can make amends so easily…?” In response to this, Vahn immediately shook his head before correcting, “It isn’t supposed to be easy. At times, it might even be the hardest thing in the world to accomplish…however, if you manage to persist until the end, I can assure you there is are few things that could rival the sense of fulfillment that accompanies such success. The only thing I can imagine that outright beats it is watching your child take their first breath…”

Seeing the deep affection within Vahn’s eyes, Artoria couldn’t help but return a smile of her own while, at her side, Gray looked like her mind had stopped working. She had been willfully ignoring the awkwardness that was present during breakfast, where she watched Rin and Vahn behave rather lovey-dovey while treating Sakura as their daughter. Hearing him now mention ‘other’ children made her mental faculties slow to a crawl, causing her to somewhat awkwardly ask, “Vahn, exactly how old are you…?” Though she almost asked how many children he had, Gray felt like she actually didn’t want to know the answer. She now recalled that Vahn’s ‘goal’ was to return to his family, something she had overlooked as her emotions continued to build over the past few days…

In response to Gray’s sudden question, Vahn cast his eyes across his own status, his brows rising slightly as he answered, “I actually just turned 156 today. If you hadn’t asked, I may not have even realized it…” Though Vahn said these words aloud, Sis was aware they were directed toward her and not the two girls he was talking to. Since Vahn had a lot of other things going on, she had decided against telling him it was his birthday. It would only complicate matters even further as, from past observations, things always got chaotic whenever Vahn told the people around him that it was his birthday…

For entirely different reasons, Artoria and Gray were both surprised by Vahn’s admission that it was his birthday. Artoria recovered much faster, a radiant smile on her face as she sincerely stated, “Happy Birthday, Master. We should inform the others and celebrate the event properly.” As for Gray, she was experiencing a bit of inner turmoil as Vahn was actually much older than she expected. Though it wasn’t impossible for some people to even live for thousands of years, the Director of the Clock Tower being a good example, she had thought he was closer in age to her. He didn’t act like one of the old monsters that spared no expense when it came to preserving their youth through the ages, once again reminding her that Vahn claimed to be a ‘Pseudo-Divine Spirit’…

With how awkward Gray was acting, Vahn gestured for Artoria to calm down as he softly asked, “Are you okay, Gray…?” This caused her shoulders to slump a bit before she began taking several deep breaths to work up her resolve. Then, even more spontaneous than her previous actions, Gray made a strange expression as she quickly asked, “Do you like me…?” Figuring she could figure out other things later on, Gray wanted to clarify whether or not Vahn even liked her. She had felt that his actions indicated he had some affection towards her but, after seeing how he acted with Rin, combined with the revelation that he had slept with Artoria, she was no longer sure. Knowing that she was actually wearing panties she thought he might like, Gray was beginning to feel nervous as sitting down suddenly became uncomfortable…

Though he was a little surprised at Gray’s spontaneity, Vahn didn’t overthink things too much as he nodded his head before confidently saying, “Of course. Though I thought we could be friends at first, I won’t deny that I’ve developed tender feelings for you over the last few days. When I heard about you getting injured, I had been-.” Instead of letting him continue any further, Gray began to quickly shake her head as she exclaimed, “No, you don’t have to go into details…!” She felt Vahn might even mention the treatment he had given her body, a memory that often plagued her mind when she was trying to relax. Since she already had an answer to the most important question, Gray’s heart felt like it was going to explode as she quickly added, “I…I like you too…!” with a red face.

The moment Gray made her confession, she actually turned her eyes towards Artoria to see how she would react. When she saw the latter was relatively calm, even though she still had a light blush from earlier, Gray felt strangely relieved as she slumped even further in her seat. It was only now that she looked back at Vahn, seeing him smiling back at her with what she could only construe as a teasing smile and visible amusement in his eyes. This was already enough to make her feel giddy but, when Vahn suddenly said, “This is quite the birthday present…to think a beautiful girl would confess to me so suddenly…”, Gray felt like her head was going to overheat. Even Artoria’s face developed a deeper blush as, though his words weren’t directed toward her, the fact that she and Gray shared an almost identical appearance meant he thought she was beautiful as well. Though he had actually said these words directly to her before, Artoria felt strangely embarrassed to hear him call someone identical to her beautiful…

While Vahn was enjoying the reactions of the two unique beauties, his mood was immediately killed when Alaya suddenly asked, “Is this the kind of appearance you prefer?” Then, without waiting for a response, Alaya’s form instantly changed into a version of Artoria and Gray with peculiarly fair blue skin, neat white hair, and the same purple eyes. Though this confirmed she could freely change her form, the fact he now had a nearly naked and infinitely more exotic version of the two girls hovering next to him caused Vahn to release a tired sigh. As for Artoria and Gray, the former had a troubled look on her face as she stared silently at Alaya while the latter was simply confused about how the tensions had shifted so suddenly. She felt like she had done something wrong, at least until Vahn returned a gentle smile toward her before blowing Gray’s mind as he expressed his trust toward her by revealing the existence of Alaya at his side…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Gentle Scáthach is surprisingly nice…?’,’*insert ‘my pain is far greater than yours’ gif here*’,’RIP Gray, it is already too late to escape now…’)

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