Chapter 1099: Celebration

After getting kicked out of the kitchen, Vahn decided to pass the time in Rin’s Study with Fenrir. She had already finished her training with for the day and, knowing it was her Master’s birthday, Fenrir immediately changed her priorities to spend more time with him. Because of this, Vahn ended up reclining on the small bed located on the mezzanine, enjoying reading a book for the first time in a surprisingly long period of time. He lazily flipped through the pages while absentmindedly stroking Fenrir’s soft fur with his left hand as she curled up next to him. In a way, it was more fulfilling to spend his time like this as the opportunity to truly relax was surprisingly rare these days…

By the time Vahn had flipped through half the pages of thick grimoire on magical theory, a knock could be heard on the Study’s door. Though Vahn already knew who it was, he lightly asked, “Yes, is there something…?” In response to this, Lakshmibai opened the door before answering, “Master, the preparations for lunch have been completed. Everyone is waiting for your arrival…” This caused Fenrir to stretch her body in an adorable manner before hopping off the bed and jumping over the small handrail meant to prevent people from falling down to the lower floor. Vahn also rose to his feet, casually using telekinesis to put away the book as he stated, “Thank you for coming to inform us, Lakshmibai.”

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Returning a polite bow in response, Lakshmibai had a small smile on her face as she said, “It is my pleasure to be of service…” This caused Vahn to chuckle as he reached out his hand, stroking Lakshmibai’s head while she was still in the midst of her bow. Like Artoria and Gray, she also had a prominent ahoge on the top of her head so, after the mischevious little tuft began to dance around happily, Vahn pinched it with his fingers. Then, even though there were no actual nerves within the clump of peculiar hair, Vahn watched with an amused glimmer in his eyes as Lakshmibai’s body tensed up, her expression becoming flustered as she muttered, “Master, please do not tease me…”

Knowing it would cause problems if he took things too far, Vahn released Lakshmibai’s ahoge before running his fingers through her silky white hair as he said, “You are becoming more beautiful each day…” With that said, Vahn pulled his hand away before walking past Lakshmibai, earning a look of ‘blame’ from her in the process as she lightly stroked her chest to calm down. Though it was only several small things, Vahn had been teasing her a lot more lately. She understood the reasons but, as the Holy Grail War had already come to an end, Lakshmibai felt a little awkward staying around him. Though she shared his dream of a better future, it sometimes felt like she was becoming more and more dependent on him, all while her resistances against his actions were steadily decreasing…

As she hadn’t left the room yet, Fenrir just stared at Lakshmibai for several seconds before ‘sneaking’ up on her and lightly pawing the brown-skinned beauty’s backside. This caused Lakshmibai to startle greatly as she hadn’t actually noticed Fenrir was still present. She covered her backside with her hands, a pouting expression on her face as she asked, “Lady Fenrir, what is the meaning of this?” Like Artoria, she had the habit of referring to Fenrir and Rin both with ‘Lady’ as, even though their status was ‘technically’ lower than her own, she simply couldn’t treat the ‘real’ women around Vahn without a certain level of respect. After all, they were the two closest women to Vahn and, compared to her title as Jhansi, Vahn’s status as an Emperor was incomparably higher…

Since she could tell that Lakshmibai was similar to her, Fenrir felt like she needed to look after this junior of her’s, explaining, “You should not worry so much. Master will be troubled if you let yourself fall into a negative mentality. Just be honest with him and do what you think is best…Master will not make things difficult for you if you are uncomfortable. If you stay silent, you will both be troubled if things get out of hand…” With this said, Fenrir lightly pat Lakshmibai’s shoulder before heading through the door, adding, “Master already thinks highly of you. Do not be afraid to speak your mind. He will undoubtedly listen…even if you want to do something naughty…” Fenrir placed a little extra emphasis on the last word as, regardless of how apprehensive Lakshmibai seemed, her nose couldn’t be fooled so easily…

Hearing Fenrir’s words, Lakshmibai felt her heart rate quicken as she looked towards the empty door for several seconds after the sound of footsteps had faded away. She eventually released a heavy sigh, tinged with a bit of warmth as she said, “She takes after Master quite a bit…but she is probably right…haaaaa…it looks like I’m going to become even stranger in the future…” When these words left her mouth, Lakshmibai’s eyes lost a bit of their focus as a subtle red hue colored her skin. Since all of this was only a ‘temporary’ arrangement, almost like an extended dream, Lakshmibai felt it wouldn’t be so bad to enjoy things for a little longer. She had already lived her life through to its natural end so, while she would have never had the courage to do such things in life, Lakshmibai wanted to try and experience the full effects of her newfound ‘luck’…

Though Lakshmibai had said everyone was waiting, Vahn noticed that Rin and Sakura were still in the kitchen, likely waiting for him to sit down before bringing out the cake they had prepared. When he entered into the dining room, however, Vahn had to bring up both hands to form a barrier of wind as Circe had suddenly pounced on him as soon as he stepped through the door. This caused her hair, wings, and clothes to flutter a bit as she released a playful giggle and said, “So shy~.” Then, overcoming the wind pressure with a flick of her wings, Circe came to a stop right before Vahn, her hands linked behind her back as she looked up at his face with her peculiar pink and green eyes. She just stared at him for a few seconds until, just as Vahn was about to say something, Circe threw her arms around him before loudly shouting, “Happy birthday, Vahn~!” as she pressed her breasts into his abdomen.

Knowing Circe meant well, even if her actions were a bit mischevious, Vahn kissed the top of her forehead before saying, “Thank you, Circe. You’ve been working hard…” This was the limit to his ‘reward’ for her, however, as petting in the company of others would only make things awkward. Fortunately, Circe released her hug before skipping around happily with her hands on her cheeks, an adorable squeal escaping her lips after Vahn kissed the top of her head. It was things like this that reminded Vahn a lot of the Harpy-Xenos from his previous world as they too would often overreact to everything. Since Circe also had her strange wing-like attachment, her status as a ‘birdbrained’ girl was quickly being cemented in his mind…

Unlike Circe, everyone else knew how to be patient as they waited for Fenrir and Lakshmibai to show up before Artoria alighted to the kitchen to let Rin and Sakura know everyone was present. Moments later, Vahn had to take a deep breath as Rin held open the door so that Sakura, holding a cake with a super serious expression on her face, made her way towards the table. She had to lean back slightly to support the weight of the cake but Sakura persisted all the way until reaching the table. When she finally managed to get the cake safely atop the table, Sakura released a sigh of relief before looking towards Vahn and immediately adopting a radiant smile as she said, “Happy Birthday, Otou-sama~!”

Understanding that Sakura was putting in her ‘maximum’ effort in order to appeal to him, Vahn returned an affectionate smile as he said, “Thank you, Sakura-chan…did you and your Okaa-chan makes these cake together~?” Though he already knew the answer, Vahn wanted to give Sakura the chance to clarify it for herself, as it would be good for her confidence going forward. In response, she nodded her head furiously before happily exclaiming, “Yes~! Okaa-chan and me, we worked super hard for Otou-sama! Make sure to eat lots and lots, okay~!?”

Though Sakura didn’t have any memories of her ‘Otou-sama’, she knew that everyone had a mommy and a daddy. Since her Okaa-chan had said that Vahn was her Otou-sama, Sakura was doing her best to be a good daughter so that he wouldn’t leave them. She knew it was strange for so many strange people to be in their house but, seeing how well her Okaa-chan and Otou-sama got along, Sakura wanted to do her best to make sure they stayed together as a family. Though she couldn’t understand where her Otou-sama had been her entire life, it was fine as long as he was with them now. Thus, even without her Okaa-chan asking her to, Sakura was determined to make a good impression on her Otou-sama so they could all be happy together…

With even Circe being able to read the mood, Vahn pandered to Sakura as much as possible, eating nearly half the cake himself after everyone sang a birthday tune. This was a new custom but Vahn thought it was surprisingly suitable for the situation since it made everything feel marginally more festive. The inclusion of a veritable feast, courtesy of Circe, and a few unexpected presents, including a small pendant that could support two tiny pictures, turned the event into a pleasant memory that Vahn securely locked away in his mind. Though there was an awkward moment when Sakura asked how old he was, Vahn managed to play it off with a laugh before throwing out ‘thirty’ on a whim. This would make him three years older than Rin, but that was still much easier to understand for a young girl than him trying to explain that he was nearly 130 years older…

After the relatively impromptu celebration, Vahn found himself in Rin’s room, not for any ‘extra’ presents, but to discuss her travel arrangements. As they had both anticipated, there were several people within the Mage’s Association ‘demanding’ her quick return. She, Lord El-Melloi II, Flat, and even Luvia would all be appearing before a Tribunal before being subjected to several months of inquiries. Though there had also been a few people calling for his inclusion in the trial, the fact he didn’t actually belong to the Mage’s Association made it difficult for them to force the issue. There were currently a lot of unknowns surrounding Vahn but, no matter what angle you looked at things from, it was easy to see he was a powerful individual. This caused most factions to believe he had a strong supporter behind the scenes, making it difficult for them to antagonize him before they were able to complete their investigations.

When the conversation came to a lull, Vahn gently rubbed Rin’s hand with his thumb as she leaned against his shoulder with her head hanging a bit. She took in a deep breath in response, followed by Vahn asking, “How soon until you leave…?” Though he wanted to go with her, they both knew this was counterintuitive to resolving the situation. London was essentially the ‘heart’ of the Magus Community as many of their ‘Noble’ families had been around for more than 1500-2000 years. The moment he was within their scope of influence, it would be impossible to extricate himself without making his ‘allegiences’ clear. Even the Holy Church knew better than to send any of their important figureheads into London without having already come to an agreement with the Mage’s Association for safe passage…

In response to Vahn’s question, Rin squeezed his hand a little as she answered, “Lord El-Melloi II says it will take them around two or three days to break down their command center and return the hotel to its previous state. I don’t need to head back at the same time as them, but it would be better if we all moved as part of the same faction. It would be easier for our enemies to take action against us if our travel plans are split too far apart from each other…what I’m most worried about is Sakura. She is going to be heartbroken when I tell her we’re going to London without you…” Since today was the first time Sakura was meeting her ‘Otou-sama’, she would obviously be devastated that he would be apart from them so soon. She was working harder than either of them expected to try and appeal to him, making both Rin and Vahn feel guilty about the complex reality of Sakura’s situation…

Understanding Rin’s concerns, Vahn’s mind instantly came up with several potential solutions, even if none could compare to him going along with them. However, as he had no intention of joining any faction, Vahn’s hands were tied on the matter so he explained, “I will make an artifact known as a Space-Time Orb for you and Sakura to use while we’re apart. It is different from a Sub-Space Orb in that only your mind is able to enter the space. However, because of this quality, I am able to create something called a Memory Fragment to inhabit the Orb. If I adjust the time dilation to a 1:1 ratio, Sakura could visit my Memory Fragment whenever she is feeling lonely. Since it will have all my memories, it will be able to take care of both of you until we can be together again…when that time comes, I can ‘download’ the Memory Fragment, inheriting its memories and preventing awkward misunderstandings from occurring…”

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Hearing Vahn’s words, Rin felt a slight pain in her heart as, even though she would refuse Vahn’s offer to come with them, she still kind of wanted him to insist. Him having a solution made her feel a little lonely as, even though something like the Space-Time Orb was useful, she knew it wouldn’t be the ‘real’ Vahn. However, it was still a better solution than anything she could come up with so Rin released a tired sigh before raising her face to look at his, saying, “I understand…thank you…” These words hadn’t even left her mouth for a single second, however, before Vahn gave her a gentle yet long kiss, only stopping when her breathing had become audible. When he separated from her, Vahn affectionately stroked her chin as he said, “If it would make you happy, I wouldn’t mind confronting the entire Clock Tower until they eventually broke down and left us alone…”

Rin couldn’t help smiling when she heard Vahn’s words, even though she lightly knocked him on the head and said, “Don’t say such stupid things, Vahn. We both know it is better for this world if you have time to prepare your forces before taking action. Just don’t think you need to do everything yourself, okay? When the time comes, don’t forget that there are allies who would stand at your side if you approach them. As for Sakura and myself…we will be okay for a few months without you. It shouldn’t take me more than a year to get everything wrapped up and then we’ll come and stay with you from then on…is that okay?”

Without even having to consider it, Vahn nodded his head before gently pulling Rin into his embrace and stroking her hair with his fingers. He knew there was a ‘battle’ waiting for her back in London that he couldn’t really do anything about with his current power and authority. At the same time, Rin was well aware of the fact that Illya needed some space as, even during the birthday celebration, she had shown a troubled expression when Sakura tried to be friendly with her. A year might not seem like a long period of time, but that could easily translate to six years if Vahn created a Sub-Space Orb at his base of operations. Though this thought was also somewhat troubling, as it meant Vahn would be around 162 by the time they were reunited, Rin comforted herself adopting the perspective that things like age, and time itself, simply lost their meaning around Vahn…

After a long conversation discussing the specifics of their intended movements, including Vahn’s intention to establish his base either on an island in the Pacific or the mountains of Germany, the atmosphere began to become noticeably tense as time droned onward. Though it was still early in the afternoon, entering into the Sub-Space Orb would give them well over a day’s worth of time to make use of for Vahn’s actual ‘present’. Scáthach had decided to give him the rest of the day in the outside world off, including the time spent within the Sub-Space Orb. Because of this, most of the girls who had slept with Vahn had some expectations of their own, the only exception being Artoria and Gray since they were ‘content’ with what had happened earlier.

Knowing that it had somehow fallen on her shoulders to make the final decision, Rin had a deep shade of red coloring her cheeks as she asked, “Is there anything you’d like for your present…? Just for today, I will make a special exception and let you make as many requests as you’d like…” With Ishtar and Ereshkigal both expressing their intention of ‘playing along’, Rin knew she was in for something she probably wasn’t wholly prepared for. As for Vahn, he had already put a bit of thought into the matter, almost immediately answering, “If you’re not against it, I wanted to have you, Nobu, and Lakshmibai wear a few outfits I had picked out…after that, we’ll see where things go. I’ll also be spending some alone time with Fenrir before the evening…however, when we come out from the Orb, I think it would be nice if you, me, and Sakura just sleep together as a family. I think she will be happy with both of her parents at her sides…”

Vahn knew he was being a bit ‘sneaky’ by making a difficult demand, followed by something Rin simply couldn’t refuse, but it was, after all, his birthday. He also wanted to expose Lakshmibai to group play as, with her unique temperament, it was only a matter of time until she became a mainstay in the bedroom. Her presence would also manage to keep Nobunaga in check as, without leading her like when they were alone, she would undoubtedly act out a bit. If she and Ishtar began butting heads, it would make the entire situation more awkward than necessary. Since Lakshmibai and Ereshkigal could serve as a counterbalance for the two strong personalities, Vahn figured things were likely to become very interesting in a short period of time.

With a tired sigh escaping her lips, Rin ultimately bit the bullet by saying, “If that is what you want. Don’t blame me for making unreasonable demands on my birthday…” Though she had meant to say the second half of her statement within her mind, Rin’s bad habit of talking to herself had betrayed her. She didn’t even seem to realize the slip, something Vahn found particularly amusing as he came up with a few plans of his own to make Rin feel ‘special’. His Memory Fragment would retain these thoughts so, once Rin’s birthday came around, Vahn didn’t mind if she made as many ‘unreasonable’ demands as she wanted. With that in mind, he intended to procure a bunch of different fabrics and materials to store within the Space-Time Orb so that his Memory Fragment could handcraft a few unique articles of clothing and accessories for Rin’s benefit…

Thinking until this point, Vahn’s smile gained the characteristic curve of amusement as he purchased a few outfits for Rin to wear. The other girls could change their clothing on a whim so Vahn began laying out tens of different outfits, causing Rin’s eyes to steadily widen when she saw how ‘little’ some of the clothes covered. To answer her question before she could form her thoughts, Vahn continued to pile up clothes as he explained, “I want you to be able to experience my culture a bit. These are all designs that you would have been able to find back in my world. Believe it or not, there was an entire race of people that used these kinds of clothing to battle against ferocious monsters.”

As Vahn spoke, he held up what looked like a tan g-string and a similarly colored breast strap that barely covered the chest. Since these were ‘literally’ the same kinds of clothes worn by some Amazonesses, Vahn’s words contained no falsehoods. With her strong intuition, Rin knew he wasn’t trying to deceive her and, even though she couldn’t help but question what kind of common sense the people of Vahn’s world had, she still hesitantly reached out her hands to accept the offered garment. Then, with a red face, Rin began to unbutton her blouse while Vahn watched her attentively from his spot on the bed. Though they would need to move to the Sub-Space Orb soon, that didn’t mean there wasn’t time to enjoy a sample of what was to come…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Lakshmibai be like, “Well, I’m already dead…”‘,’Sakura, fighto~!’,’It’s like being able to demo all the DLC costumes of your favorite game…’)

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