Chapter 1103: Tensions

After waiting for Tristana’s return, Vahn spent a short while explaining just the basics of what they would be facing in ten year’s time. Since she was a Magus of the modern era, there was always a chance she would go forward within the Magus Community and expose his secrets too soon so Vahn only told her what she ‘needed’ to know. As for Paracelsus, he understood better than most how the Mage’s Association could negatively affect its members so, instead of elaborating on what had told Tristana, he actually affirmed many of the details Vahn mentioned. Because of this, Tristana had a complex expression on her face as, towards the end of the discussion, she asked, “The two of you are serious, aren’t you? Ten years…damn…” Though ten years wasn’t exactly a short period of time, it seemed extremely short when talking about the potential extinction of mankind…

In response to Tritana’s utterance, Vahn nodded his head, adding, “Though we do not necessarily require your assistance, I do not mind if you want to accompany Paracelsus. So long as you do not try and betray our organization, you will receive the same benefits as any Magus or Researcher that joins our cause. I can assure you that our ability to obtain rare and precious resources is unrivaled in the entire world. Assuming we are able to defeat Angra Mainyu, isn’t a stretch to say you would be able to call yourself one of the most proficient and wealthy Alchemists in the entire world…consider your decision carefully, Tristana.” With Paracelsus and Illya in his camp, Vahn knew there weren’t any great benefits to having someone like Tristana around. However, as she had an ongoing relationship with Paracelsus, he wasn’t going to split them apart and potentially risk having her expose his plans to the world in their nascent stage…

Hearing Vahn’s words, Tristana showed a mildly contemptuous expression as she exclaimed, “What are you, some kind of…” Though she had almost reflexively insulted Vahn, the hardened look in the latter’s eyes immediately caused Tristana’s tone to chance as she quickly added, “Of course I will help out. What the hell am I supposed to do if the world suddenly comes to an end? I’m part of humanity too, you know…?”

With an approving nod, Vahn then looked away from Tristana, matching gazes with Paracelsus as he explained, “I’m not sure how the organization will be structured just yet, but you will be the Director of the Alchemical Research Department. Though I may ultimately choose to rely on a few elites, it is currently just as likely that we may expand to accommodate other Magi and support personnel. The way I do things have always been a little different from the norm, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of benefits. Just let me know what you and Tristana need and I’ll do my best to facilitate you…also, before you get any ideas, Trist…Paracelsus will be the Head Director but the position of Deputy Director will belong to a woman named Illyasviel Von Einzbern. Do not go seeking trouble with her, understood…?”

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Though she was tempted to rebut from the start, Tristana’s words got caught in her throat when she heard Vahn mention the name Illyasviel Von Einzbern. In the modern era, there were no families more prodigious in the art of Alchemy than the Einzberns. Even the members of the Atlas academy, who specialized in Alchemy for thousands of years, ultimately failed to pass muster when directly compared to the Einzberns. With the rumors that most of there members were immortal Artifical Humans and Homunculi now, it was unlikely that anyone would overtake them in the future. They had a vast amount of knowledge related to Alchemy and, even though Paracelsus’ skills were almost unmatchable, that didn’t mean he was all-knowing in the myriad branches of Alchemy.

Taking Tristana’s silence as understanding, Vahn gave another approving nod before saying, “We’ll be moving locations in a few day’s time. This place is relatively secure so I will leave you be until I have found a suitable location for our base of operations. Your ability to modify the land with your [Territory Creation] skill with be very useful since I intend for our base to be built on an island or within the mountains of Germany.” Though Vahn was also tempted to build at the bottom of the sea or ocean, he knew this would probably be a terrible idea if they ever had to fend off an actual attack. Picking a terrain where even powerful Servants wouldn’t be able to fight seemed like an extremely foolish idea, even though the thought of having an underwater base was strangely exciting…

With little left to discuss, Vahn talked a bit more with Paracelsus before deciding it was about time for him to head back. Artoria was likely waiting for him on the shore, assuming she hadn’t decided to simply tread water while waiting for him above. Thus, even though it seemed like Tristana had plenty of questions she would like to ask, many pertaining to materials and finances, Vahn brought an end to the discussion by holding up his hand and saying, “We have plenty of time to discuss these kinds of things in the future. As you might expect, things are a bit hectic above, especially with the Greater Grail being destroyed. I have other things to take care of so I will return when we’re ready to set up the base. As for your questions related to payment, Tristana…well, we can work out an actual contract later. Just know that I have no problems with you accruing wealth for yourself, so long as it does not interfere with the operations of other Departments in the future…”

Even if her own skills were lacking in comparison to people like Paracelsus and Illya, Vahn imagined that Tristana would become increasingly capable as time passed. He didn’t mind if she used some of the materials provided to produce a few Magical Patents or disseminate some of her products into the larger market. Even Rin was largely dependent on her inherited patents for her wealth, disclosing to Vahn that she had actually struggled with debt for a few years before making arrangements with Luvia. She wasn’t particularly well off now either, but that would change very quickly now that she had studied under Scáthach and had two goddesses residing within her body. Vahn imagined the Tohsaka family estate would grow exponentially over the next few years, an option that existed for Tristana’s Valentinus family as well…

Having nothing left to discuss, Vahn created a small soundproof barrier around himself as he turned to Alaya and said, “Teleport me to where Artoria is.” Since he knew she would be able to hear him, even if he was in a vacuum, Vahn’s soundproofing was primarily to prevent Tristana from hearing what he was saying. She didn’t know about the existence of Alaya just yet as, once his organization was established, there was a good chance Paracelsus’ Atelier would be located in its own annex, away from the larger compound that would represent their base. Only the central figures in the organization, including trustworthy Heroic Spirits, would be privy to Alaya’s existence.

Without missing a beat, Alaya immediately shifted Vahn to an area in the middle of the cold and salty sea. Though it was a bit jarring to go from a warm lab to a frigid sea, Vahn didn’t mind it that much since he had already prepared for this potentiality. He quickly found where Artoria was treading water, causing Vahn to shake his head in mild exasperation because of how ‘dutiful’ she was as a Knight. It would have made a lot more sense for her to just wait for him on the shore but, as long as Vahn’s status was ‘unknown’, Artoria would never leave the area near where they had parted. If something happened, she would undoubtedly do her best to come to his aid, pressure and cold be damned…

Though he was tempted to try and sneak up on Artoria, Vahn knew the attempt would ultimately be in vain so he simply swam toward he without making any effort to conceal himself. She had quickly noticed his approach, shortening the distance with a few strokes that cause them to get wrapped up in each other’s counter currents once they were near each other. Neither Vahn nor Artoria were all that experienced in the water so they nearly collided with each other after trying to come to a stop, the momentum of the water carrying them forward. Both were able to easily avoid a direct collision, however, even if Vahn wouldn’t have been all that against it with the current state of his body and mind…

After getting close enough for casual conversation, Vahn gave a concise explanation to Artoria about the mission’s success before they both swam towards the distant shore. They couldn’t even see the coast with their current orientation, but Vahn was still able to backtrack towards land by relying on his Minimap. As a result, they both moved like torpedos through the water, even passing a fishing vessel that was also heading inland. Less than a minute later, it was barely a dot on the horizon as Vahn and Artoria were traveling around 160km/h, much slower than their average speed on land but considerably faster than most common vessels and ships.

As a result of their superhuman pacing, it only took around three minutes for Vahn and Artoria to reach the shore, extricating themselves from the cold water and climbing onto the sandy beach. Vahn cast a glance towards Artoria’s figure when she pulled herself from the wake, noticing her diving suit was thick enough to prevent her image from being ‘compromised’. Regardless, she was still an ethereal beauty who could even pull off a diving suit as if it was high-fashion. The icing on the cake was how she slightly turned her face away, even though her eyes were locked with his. It was almost the same as her saying it was okay if he wanted to do something, even if she wasn’t the type to overtly flirt and show affection in public…

Feeling that he was acting abnormally, Vahn looked towards the spot where Alaya was lingering, saying, “You should conceal yourself for the time being.” This was immediately answered by Alaya imploding in a burst of blue light, accompanied by a feeling of relief that made it clear to Vahn that she was indeed the cause for his abnormal state. He would need to make sure she kept herself away from him unless he needed her assistance. When giving her ‘samples’ of his bodily fluids, he would also need someone like Fenrir around to make sure things don’t suddenly get out of hand. Vahn suspected that Alaya couldn’t influence the people around him in the same way as, according to his own observations, the primary reacting of most people around her was apprehension and a small amount of fear…

After changing into casual clothes, Vahn and Artoria made their way back to the Tohsaka Manor using public transport. He figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just enjoy a short date with Artoria while also seeing how long it took his body to calm down after Alaya’s presence had disappeared. Since Artoria was a lot more open to things like handholding and sitting together on the train, now that it was just the two of them, Vahn enjoyed the hour-long trip quite a bit. Though they drew a lot of attention to themselves, looking like a couple of European models, most people had enough sense to leave them in peace. Compared to the average Japanese man, standing around 171cm tall, Vahn’s 185cm made him tower over most people. Since he was wearing casual yet fashionable clothes, his muscular figure was a deterrent to anyone that wanted to gawk at Artoria, especially with the natural aura that persisted around his body due to [Will of the Emperor].

Completing the last leg of their journey hand-in-hand, Artoria’s feet began to drag until they had both come to a stop around one block away from the Tohsaka Manor. She didn’t seem to be in a bad mood so Vahn adopted a gentle smile on his face before asking, “Is there something…?” In response to this, Artoria gave a slightly awkward smile before saying, “I can tell you have been acting strangely since earlier…if you’re fine with me, I will do what I can…” The moment these words his ears, the ‘list’ within Vahn’s mind suddenly had Artoria’s and Fenrir’s names at the top, pushing Ishtar down to the third position among candidates he intended to spend time with after returning.

Knowing Artoria was pushing herself to make an effort in their budding relationship, Vahn lightly touched her chin with his index finger and thumb before giving her a short and rather tame kiss. This caused her face to flash as her eyes darted to the surroundings, even though the streets were more or less empty around this region in the late afternoon. Only the wealthy and affluent lived in this area so, other than the occasional expensive-looking car, the streets and sidewalks were almost completely empty. Still, her reaction made Vahn’s heart soften a great deal as he lightly guided her to look back at him, saying, “It would be my honor, Artoria…thank you…”

Awakening from a relatively rare seven hours of sleep, Vahn released a contented sigh as he enjoyed the warmth of the three girls curled up in his embrace. Fenrir had been a necessary inclusion into his plans but, after returning with Artoria, Gray ended up getting wrapped up in the momentum as well. She would be returning to London with Rin and Sakura in a few day’s time so, even though she was usually more demure and reserved, it didn’t take much to ‘trigger’ her at the moment. It was obvious she was worried the distance apart might make her feelings change slightly so Vahn made sure to carve a few tender memories deep into her heart, mind, and body. As a result, even though the spot would normally have been occupied by Fenrir under such circumstances, Vahn had Gray sleeping against his chest with her legs straddling his waist as she had rolled over onto Fenrir in the middle of the night after curling up atop his body and failing to keep her orientation while asleep…

Though Fenrir awoke almost at the exact same moment as him, Vahn smiled affectionately while looking at the sleeping faces of Gray and Artoria at his side. Gray had a contented and natural smile on her face as she gently exhaled ticklish breaths against his chest. As for Artoria, she barely moved at all while she slept while her expression was largely neutral as she clung to his bicep with her left hand. This didn’t make her look any less beautiful, however, as Vahn knew he could make her smile whenever he wanted. When she woke up, Vahn intended to do just that but, for the time being, he shifted his focus onto the only awake girl, asking, “How are you feeling…?”

In response to this question, Fenrir gave a mock bashful look before lightly licking Vahn’s shoulder with her ruby-red tongue. This told Vahn that she was perfectly prepared to continue, something she was subtly aware he was thinking about. Though Vahn had ‘pushed’ himself and the girls a bit more than normal the previous night, his tensions hadn’t been fully released. The only reason things had come to an end was due to the fact that Gray had started chaffing a bit since her body wasn’t yet accustomed to long sessions of lovemaking. Fenrir tried to teach her a few ‘techniques’ to help her last longer in the bedroom, turning the entire session into an impromptu lesson where Vahn served as her partner for some relatively intense plays. Artoria had ‘mistakenly’ attempted one herself but, even with her flexible body, she began to cramp up quickly when Vahn had her right foot practically behind her head as he raised her hips in a rather awkward, but highly effective position…

As tempted as he was to go for a seventeenth round, Vahn lightly shook his head since he didn’t want Gray and Artoria to develop the mentality that they couldn’t just ‘relax’ when sharing a bed with him. Though Gray would probably get into the mood pretty quickly, Vahn didn’t want the first thing she experienced getting comfortable on his chest to be Fenrir suddenly licking her exposed lower body. If they wanted to continue on their own, Vahn would be more than happy to oblige, but there were still other matters he needed to attend. Thus, with a bit of reluctance, Vahn gently stroked Gray’s back until her eyelids slowly peeled open, revealing the stark blue gems within. She seemed a little confused at first but, after Vahn tilted her chin and began kissing her, Gray began to reciprocate almost immediately. He didn’t ‘push’ her too much, however, pulling away shortly after they had begun to smile and say, “Good morning…”

With a sincerely bashful smile on her face, Gray moved her hips somewhat uncomfortably as she answered, “Good morning, Vahn…” This was the first time Gray had slept naked atop a man so, now that she had awoken, her heart was beginning to beat madly in her chest. Vahn’s body had an almost addictive warmth that, after experiencing, Gray wasn’t sure she would ever be able to sleep comfortably on a ‘normal’ bed. She actually didn’t like being naked all that much, as she had grown accustomed to wearing several layers of clothing, but all of that faded away as she felt Vahn’s body heat feeding into her own. This made Gray feel slightly feverish as a simultaneously cool yet hot sensation embarrassingly persisted around her exposed lower body…

Understanding that Gray was the type that got into the mood almost as soon as her switch was flipped, Vahn couldn’t help smiling before placing another tame kiss on her lips and saying, “I have some things to take care of. If you’re not against it, I’d like to spend more time with you before you have to return to London…” Though he didn’t expressly say they would have sex, Gray’s current state made her instantly infer that was his intention. As a result, a small trickle of moisture tickled Vahn’s lower abdomen as she nodded her head in response. Seeing her like this made Vahn consider if it would be prudent to make another Space-Time Orb for Gray’s personal use. However, fearing what she might become if she were alone with his Memory Fragment, Vahn ultimately decided it wasn’t the best idea…

After helping the girls wipe down their bodies and watching them get dressed, something that made Gray even more embarrassed than when they had sex, Vahn reluctantly parted ways with the three dutiful girls. He had promised Illya before entering into the Sub-Space Orb that he would spend some time with her this evening. She had been showing a lot of patience and maturity with her current situation but, viewing things objectively, Vahn knew he hadn’t been giving her the attention he ought to. Though she would most likely become a central figure in his life while Rin, Sakura, and Gray were in London, that didn’t mean he should be ‘ignoring’ her right now. After all, she literally had a world-ending beast inhabiting her body that he was supposed to be helping tame by making Illya happy…

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With that in mind, Vahn checked the system to see that it was only 7:06 PM in the outside world, meaning he could still tuck Sakura into bed if Illya didn’t keep him too long. Though he knew she was something of a ticking time bomb, for various reasons, Vahn decided he shouldn’t let Illya see any of his apprehensions unless she tried to pressure him into something. Since she called him ‘Onii-sama’, Vahn intended to treat her like a little sister, even though their relationship would likely have more skinship than normal. After all, with Cath Palug inside of her, Vahn imagined Illya would be especially sensitive to petting and, as she seemed starved for human contact even more than Gray, he already prepared himself for the inevitability that she would push his boundaries a bit…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Paracelsus’ plus-one xD’,’Gray and Artoria are adorable’,’Godhand vs. Primate Murder…with the fate of the world on the line!?’)

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