Chapter 1105: Testy

With time counting down until Rin, Sakura, and Gray’s departure, Vahn was spending most of the day outside of the Space-Time Orb just interacting and playing with Sakura. She had a small tea set within her room and a few stuffed animals that he had replaced with new versions since the old ones had accrued a bit of a smell with nearly twenty years of aging. Currently, Vahn sat was sitting on a small chair while Fenrir, Circe, and the tiny Susu had all been wrangled in alongside him. Vahn had left the tiny kitten asleep on a small cushion in the hallway before entering into Illya’s room and, by the time she had finally woken up, Sakura had already snatched up the sleeping kitten as if it were the most natural thing in the world. As for how Fenrir and Circe got roped in by her, Sakura liked how they had strange features, such as long ears, wings, and fur, so she was quite fond of the two…

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While making sure Circe was on her best behavior with a rather stern gaze, Vahn was enjoying the final few hours he would be spending with his surrogate daughter. They would be flying out in the evening before separating for a minimum of six months since there were quite a few accounts and duties Rin needed to take care of. He knew she would be upset by the fact they had to separate but, as Sakura was slated to begin learning about Magecraft while staying with the Edelfelts, she should have plenty of distractions to prevent her from feeling too lonely. Since she would also have access to the Space-Time Orb, Vahn believed she would be able to tide through without too many issues.

Seeing that the snacks were running low, Vahn replaced the tray with a new plate of animal-shaped cookies, each covered in a thin layer of strawberry flavored glaze. This caused Sakura’s teal-blue eyes to turn star-struck as she asked, “Otou-sama, how did you do that?” In response to this, Vahn lightly chuckled as he gently rubbed her head and answered, “You will learn about these things very soon, Sakura. If you work hard, I promise you will be able to all kinds of wondrous things in the future. Your Okaa-chan and I believe in you…” Since Sakura’s Magic Circuits were far stronger than a normal Magi, while also possessing several times the normal amount of Od, Vahn knew she would actually overtake Rin when she matured, primarily due to the fact that this maturation process would further increase the size of her reserves with concerted effort…

Though she didn’t understand what her Otou-sama was talking about, Sakura giggled happily in response to having her head rubbed before saying, “I will do my best to make Otou-sama and Okaa-chan proud~!” When she said this, Sakura held up one of her tiny fists in a determined display that caused Fenrir to give an appreciative nod while Circe just blew bubbles into her tea. She knew better than to cause trouble around Sakura but, even if she was Vahn’s actual child, Circe was a little jealous that his attention wasn’t on her. The only thing that prevented her from talking about her boredom was the fact that Vahn would probably ‘punish’ her if she was mean to Sakura. This morning, when she had been cleaning her feathers, Circe noticed that they were a bit more oily than normal, a sign that her stress levels were increasing…

After his long tea party with Sakura, brought to an end by Rin coming to pick her up, Vahn carried Susu with him while Circe followed close behind with a small pouting expression on her face. As for Fenrir, she had gone to keep Illya company in her room as the latter rarely left it, even to eat meals.

When she had woken up this morning, Illya had been very quiet as she pretended to sleep in his embrace for nearly a full hour until he eventually broke the silence. He promised to spend more time with her in the future and, though she seemed to want and keep him there, Illya ultimately allowed him to leave without a fuss. She was a smart girl and, though she could potentially pressure Vahn to pamper her even more, the fear she might drive him away kept her from acting out too much.

With Circe lingering behind him like a vengeful spirit, Vahn eventually stopped his feet, resulting in her nearly bumping into his back as a result. When she quickly flitted a short distance away, Vahn turned around and said, “Circe, you will need to accept the fact that I can’t make you the focus of my attention. I will do my best to treat you well, even pampering you a bit, but that is predicated on the fact that you aren’t causing trouble for the others. You need to realize they aren’t proactively trying to take me away from you…once you realize that it is smarter to make friends and ally yourself with others, the happier you will be. Tonight, we’ll be moving locations and living in a completely different kind of environment as we build an organization for the purpose of protecting this world. You need to make a decision about what you want to contribute…I don’t mind keep you as a Chef or a private Maid, but you will have to start acting the part unless you want to be isolated by the others…”

Though she didn’t spend that much time within the Sub-Space Orb, it had been over a week since Circe had ‘joined’ their group. However, other than talking with Fenrir on a few occasions, she acted like most of the other girls within the Tohsaka Manor didn’t even exist. She was very cautious around Scáthach, but that was due to the fact that the latter practically spread out an aura that promised violence if you opposed her. Circe had watched one of the training sessions between her and Vahn, culling any rebellious intentions that might have been rising up in her heart towards Scáthach.

In response to Vahn’s words, Circe puffed out her cheeks even more, holding it for several seconds before releasing her breath with a ‘pa’ and asking, “Do you hate me?” This caused Vahn to roll his eyes before answering plainly, “Unless you give me a reason to hate you, I would never hate you, Circe. If anything, you could say I’m more worried about you than anything…at this rate, you’ll end up sad and frustrated once you force me to make a decision I really don’t want to make…haaaa…” At the end of his words, Vahn cradled Susu in his left arm while reaching out his right hand and stroking Circe’s silky pink hair as he added, “I promise you will be happier if you open your heart to others…in exchange, I will make sure to pamper you as much as you want when there is time, okay?”

Though she put on a slightly annoyed expression in response to Vahn’s words, Circe didn’t try to pull away from his hand as her wings twitched slightly. Then, as if having made her decision, Circe finally swat away his hand, giving a small nod before saying, “I will give you a test. I can tell, you know, that you have untoward thoughts toward me at times. Ever since I was a child, I have always been able to sense when men are directing their attention toward me. Even if you are good at keeping your eyes from wandering, you can’t fool my senses so easily, Vahn. If you can bathe my body without having any untoward thoughts, I will trust that you won’t take things too far if I let you pamper me freely…”

Vahn was a little surprised by Circe’s words, especially since he hadn’t actually harbored the intention of doing anything to her. Though he had certainly let his thoughts wander in that direction, Vahn had understood from the start that they wouldn’t have that kind of relationship. Circe’s special sense certainly seemed powerful, but it didn’t provide her full context and allow her to understand the true intentions of those around her. Vahn could also now understand why she didn’t like being around other females that often as, having an ability that allowed her to know when men were paying attention to her also meant she knew exactly when they were focused elsewhere. If she had this type of ability since birth, it was easy to understand how her perspective could have been skewed with time…

In response to Circe’s proposed ‘test’, Vahn gave a confident nod before answering, “You shouldn’t underestimate my willpower and professionalism. Like I keep saying…I will never force anyone to do something they are unwilling to do. Even if you were in a strange state and tried to seek me out, I would never take advantage of you, Circe. When I prove this to you, I hope you will treat my words seriously and try to open your heart to others…as for everything else, you can leave that to me.” With Circe’s words essentially being an admission that she was afraid he would do something to her if she got in the ‘mood’, Vahn didn’t mind embedding it into his heart not to cross that final line. Since he already had more than enough ongoing relationships, each having their own unique complications, the last thing he needed was a powerless Circe who either resented or became fully reliant on him…

Feeling the sincerity in Vahn’s words, Circe gave a small nod before coming to stand right in front of him, looking up with her large pink-green eyes. This was a peculiar habit of her’s, almost as if she enjoyed the difference in their height or simply knew how adorable it made her look. Then, with a straight-face that caused Vahn’s mind to temporarily blank, Circe said, “The truth is, I really want to do naughty things. I’m constantly thinking about doing naughty things, Vahn…in all my thoughts, I imagine how you would push me down and ravish me, turning me into your plaything and never letting me go. It makes me feel excited…” As she spoke, Circe swallowed hard as a very fragrant aroma began to rise up from her body, tickling Vahn’s nose in the process…

Understanding this was likely part of Circe’s test, even though she seemed almost scarily sincere about it, Vahn took a deep breath to remain calm. It was fortunate he constantly channeled his [Will of the Emperor] these days or he might have failed from the start. Since Circe had a Pseudo-Divinity related to Love, it obviously meant she had the means to make people infatuated with her if she put in the effort. Vahn had seen this particular Divinity manifest in the eyes, such as in the case of Syr and Freya, or in the natural pheromones their body released, a phenomenon he had observed in Artemis. Since there was a sickly sweet aroma wafting from Circe’s body could even make him feel a little warm, it was obvious she was in the category of Demi-Goddesses that relied on pheromones. This was perhaps the origin of why she used fragrant and delicious food, likely as a means to distract her ‘guests’ from realizing what was going on…

In response to Circe’s words, Vahn adopted a wry smile as he said, “I don’t mind keeping you…but I’m afraid ‘ravishing’ you if off the table, at least for the time being. I must admit though, it makes me feel honored that such a beautiful girl has such passionate thoughts about me…” Though she didn’t react much to the first part of his words, Circe’s ears waggled a little when Vahn called her beautiful. She was weak to compliments and, even if she was trying to push his limits a bit, Circe’s nature had been cemented of centuries of self-imposed isolation and her ‘peculiar’ way of life. As a result, she moved just a half-step closer, pressing her chest into his abdomen with a rosy flush spreading across her face in an instant as she asked, “You won’t ravish Circe…really~?” At the very end of her question, Circe snuck her hand between his thighs as a seductive glint flashed across her eyes…

Taking a deep breath, Vahn proceeded to use his right hand to lightly flick the pale-gold tiara atop her head, causing a small ‘whiplash’ effect that immediately changed her disposition from being seductive to pouting as she exclaimed, “Hey! I don’t condone violence…!” In response to this, Vahn plainly stated, “I don’t condone acting like a nymph in the middle of a hallway. If you want to test me, feel free to do so in the bath. Also, don’t forget that I can sense everything around me for more than four kilometers…if things really had gone south, the only person that would have come to your aid is little Susu…” It was obvious that Circe was trying to rile him up in a throughway as, if he did something to her, she could always make a loud noise that would draw attention to them. However, with Rin and Sakura in the bath, Fenrir and Illya in the latter’s room, and everyone else inside of the Sub-Space Orb, things wouldn’t have gone as she expected…

Paling slightly at Vahn’s words, Circe then proceeded to snatch Susu from his arm, hugging the juvenile cat in her embrace as she said, “Susu will certainly protect Circe from the big bully, right?” With that said, Circe flitted her wings and created a bit of distance from Vahn, almost as if she wanted him to give chase. Knowing this was the actual case, Vahn lightly chuckled before saying, “The bath is being used by Rin and Sakura right now.” This caused Circe to trip over her platform sandals but, instead of falling onto her butt, she spontaneously seemed to become immune to gravity as she quickly righted herself. In her arms, Susu had an aggrieved expression as it extended its paws towards Vahn, the only one who didn’t shake it around and behave violently…

Vahn was unable to prevent himself from breaking into a boisterous laugh that caused Circe’s face to turn completely red as her ears drooped. She wasn’t even remotely known for her patience so, after telling Vahn that she would test him, Circe was determined to make him take action. In a way, it was a matter of pride to get him to go against his word and try to push her down, an action that would immediately cause her Father’s Divine Protection to strike Vahn. She didn’t believe this would kill him, as it was hard to imagine anything being able to kill a person who seemed to regenerate from ‘nothing’, but it would certainly bring him back to his senses. After that, Circe would know that Vahn was just like all other men and, depending on how she took advantage of the situation, it wasn’t impossible to get him to treat her like a Queen from that moment onwards…

Unaware of the ‘specifics’ of Circe’s plan, Vahn saved Susu from her embrace, running his hand along the cat’s back and eliciting a contented purr almost instantly. This caused Circe to scrunch up her nose before asking, “You’re even going to give a cat more attention than me? Big meanie…” As she said these words, Circe looked toward Susu like it had betrayed her, causing Vahn to roll his eyes as he said, “Susu is nice and obedient so she gets special treatment. If you behave yourself for the rest of the day, I’ll brush your feathers for you. I’m actually pretty good at it…” Since both Terra and Alexa were ‘very’ fond of him cleaning and brushing their wings, Vahn knew Circe would probably enjoy it a great deal as well. She didn’t seem to have nerves in the wing-like attachment on her back, but the Mana Circuits were connected directly to her body and Vahn knew they were just as sensitive as actual nerves if he used the right methods…

As if Vahn had said something obvious, Circe made her wings ruffle as she explained, “Of course you will clean my feathers! I’m expecting full service when we take a bath together. You’ll also have to clean under my nails and brush my hair after we’re done. Since you’ll get to see my immaculate body up close, the least you can do is properly express your gratitude~!” With that said, Circe produced a coy smile before shifting aside the fabric of her thin tunic, though not enough to actually reveal anything. Since he knew she was probably going to be testing him often in the near future, Vahn just gave a wry smile before saying, “I’m going to return Susu to Nobunaga. We’ll probably be drinking for a few hours so you’ll have to be patient. You should use this time to prepare yourself, though, as I’m a master at most spa and beauty treatments…I’m not sure you’re ready to experience just how much I can pamper someone…”

Hearing no falsehoods in Vahn’s words, Circe began to feel a little giddy as she quickly scampered away towards the kitchen, her heart racing as errant thoughts flashed across her mind. Though her words might have been misconstrued by Vahn as a simple test, many of the things she had said previously were the truth. Since she could never be with a man, Circe’s thoughts were constantly plagued with the various ‘possibilities’ of the future. Merlin messing with her dreams, allowing her to get a taste of something that had been denied to her for centuries, was just the icing on the cake. Because of this, the truth of the matter was that she wished Vahn really would push her down as, with his nature, she knew he would take responsibility for the rest of his life. Even if he failed to get her a few times, due to her Father’s Divine Protection, Circe believed he wouldn’t give up so easily after almost getting a taste of the forbidden fruit…

Smelling a far more powerful fragrance on the air, Vahn had to shake his head to clear his thoughts. Susu released a quiet mewl in his arms, causing Vahn to smile as he began stroking her somewhat rough black fur. It was apparent she could use a bath as well, combined with a few nutritious meals and a lot of relaxation. After a few days had passed, Vahn was confident that Susu’s coat would become sleek and shiny, assuming she wasn’t constantly stressed out by being handled. Fortunately, it didn’t seem like she minded the attention all that much, so long as the person wasn’t moving around at super-sonic speeds or shaking her about like a ragdoll.

After entering the Sub-Space Orb, Vahn turned his attention towards the lake where Artoria, Gray, and Lakshmibai were all swimming around in rather tantalizing swimsuits. Though Gray wore a dark gray one-piece swimsuit, it had a higher cut on the hips than normal, accenting her lithe and petite body and giving her the appeal of an Olympic swimmer. As for Artoria, she wore a white bikini that exposed a lot more than he would have expected from the proud King of Knights. Like almost all of her outfits, however, there were royal blue accents, this time taking on the form of large ribbons at the sides of her hips and back. This matched the color of the ribbon in her hair, giving Artoria a lively and youthful appeal as she happily had a rather conservative splash battle with Gray.

A stark contrast to the almost identical girls, Lakshmibai was wearing a complex swimsuit that looked like a one-piece with a deep cut for the breasts and back. Instead of being a normal one-piece, the sides were strung up with interwoven strings that left bits of her healthy brown skin exposed, adding a sexy appeal with her mature and athletic figure. Though her figure might be lacking compared to someone like Scáthach, the balance of Lakshmibai’s body was almost perfect, especially with her pert butt and plump thighs. In her swimsuit, her legs seemed longer than normal and, if not for the fact he had already made plans with Nobunaga, Vahn knew he wouldn’t be able to resist joining the girls’ fun.

Comforting himself with the knowledge that he could probably get Lakshmibai to wear ‘anything’ later on, Vahn carried Susu over to the lakeside residence. The girls had noticed his presence but, seeing that he wasn’t walking towards them, they understood he had different intentions. This didn’t stop Lakshmibai from releasing a somewhat warm sigh, drawing the attention of Gray who asked, “You really love him, don’t you…?” In response to this, Lakshmibai gave a conflicted smile as she answered, “I’m not sure if I am the best to speak on such matters. My life prior to being summoned by Vahn was plagued by misfortune…I lost my mother when I was four, my son died shortly after he was born, and my husband died not all that long after. Then my country was torn apart by the greed of the British Empire and the East India Trading Company before I ultimately lost my life due to a stray bullet…”

Hearing Lakshmibai’s words, Gray began to fluster as she sheepishly said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t…” In response to this stammering, Lakshmibai shook her head, her smile becoming less complicated as she added, “Vahn has allowed me to experience many things in such a short period of time…not only did he change my fortunes for the better, but he set my former Master on a better path. I want to do my best to support him moving forward…even if…” At this point, Lakshmibai’s face began to gain a red hue while, unbeknownst to her, two small buds made themselves apparent through the fabric of her swimsuit. Seeing this, Gray felt a little giddy herself as she squatted down in the water to cool off, internally remarking, (“She definitely loves him…”) as she blew bubbles with a red flush coloring her own cheeks. At the side, Artoria was the only one to remain relatively calm as she looked toward the lakeside residence with a small smile on her face, her thoughts indiscernible to Lakshmibai and Gray…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Sakura, sugoi~! Kuwaii~!’,’My Test will become your Trial…umuu…’,’Lakshmibai is too far gone xD…’)

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