Chapter 1108: Foundation

After a series of events, some unique, some peculiar, and some intimate, Vahn found himself holding the crying Sakura in his arms as Rin watched on with an apologetic smile. They were currently at the airport, just before the security checkpoint, when Sakura finally learned that her Otou-sama wouldn’t be coming on the trip with them. As a result, Vahn was cradling her in his arms, lightly patting her back so she would stop crying. Though they had only spent a few days together, with him being elsewhere for most of that time, Sakura had already grown attached to him. The moments they were together as a family were some of her most precious memories and, knowing that they would be apart, Sakura felt like she had done something wrong as she wet the left side of his chest with her snot and tears…

Ignoring a few empathetic looks from the surroundings, Vahn continued to pat Sakura’s back as he whispered, “Everything is going to be okay…calm down now…your Otou-sama won’t just leave you and your Okaa-chan. He has some important stuff to take care of, but that doesn’t mean he will be leaving Sakura-chan’s side…” Though it probably would have been better to tell her about the Space-Time Orb earlier, Sakura simply wouldn’t understand its function until Rin taught her how to use it. They would be flying on a private jet, courtesy of the Edelfelt family, so Sakura would have plenty of time to learn how to use it during the twelve-hour flight to London.

With an expression that showed doubt and sadness, Sakura sniffled a few times as she asked, “You promise…?” In response to this, Vahn showed an affectionate smile, placing his forehead against Sakura’s as he answered, “The world your Otou-sama and Okaa-chan live in is different from normal. You will learn quickly that you are someone very special, my little cherry blossom…I would not lie to you so just listen to your Okaa-chan and you will understand that I am never apart from you…okay?” Since he couldn’t exactly talk to her about Magecraft in the middle of a crowded airport, Vahn could only be vague as he tried to console this precious surrogate daughter of his…

Though she didn’t seem convinced, Sakura still nodded her head before holding up her tiny hand and saying, “Promise…” This caused Vahn to smile as he brought his own hand up, seeming massive by comparison, linking his pinky with her’s as he said, “I promise…” As if he had said the magical words, Sakura’s face formed a small smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes and she wiped away her tears an intoned an affirmative ‘Nn~!’. Then, after a bit more coaxing, Sakura returned to Rin’s embrace as the two proceeded through the security checkpoint, annoying a few people since they were allowed to skip the line due to their VIP status. In the distance, Vahn gave a nod towards Gray, earning a small smile from her through the veil of her hood as she stood behind the waiting Lord El-Melloi II, Flat, and a few other people from their faction…

For a solid ten minutes after everyone had vanished beyond his sight, Vahn followed them through his domain until they boarded a small private jet on a smaller runway. Though most people would have some issues trying to get flight clearance, high ranking members of the Magus Community were able to bypass such things with extreme ease. Since their travel was often spontaneous and off the books, mostly to avoid having curses and attacks planned against them, the time between boarding to takeoff was only thirteen minutes total. By then, Vahn was walking out of the airport with Alaya floating at his side, nodding her head in response to him saying, “Do not hesitate to use your stored Magical Power to protect them. If it isn’t something you can resolve in accordance with the restrictions you are placed under, just teleport them back to my side. I’ll deal with the aftermath myself…”

Anticipating ‘something’ to go wrong while he was apart from Rin and Sakura, Vahn had spent a full seven hours meditating while Alaya drained his blood under the watchful eyes of Fenrir and Circe. As a result, she had a store of nearly three-million units of Magical Power when added to what she had previously drained from him. Though this actually wasn’t all that much, as she had revealed that the Greater Grail had upwards of a five-quintillion units stored within the system for the purpose of granting wishes. This was a bit of a shock as, with how powerful his Source Energy was supposed to be, Vahn never expected the Greater Grail to store so much energy in only a sixty year time period. After all, if he let Alaya drain him at the same rate as his replenishment, this meant it take him nearly four-hundred years to provide her as much energy as a Greater Grail…

Though it was a little foolish of him to compare himself to something like a planet’s Leyline, Vahn felt that there must be some ‘loss’ due to Alaya’s inability to actually process his Source Energy. She was likely only processing the unique energy that was always present within his blood, something that Vahn still didn’t fully understand. He knew it wasn’t the component of Source Energy, as it had been a part of him prior to obtaining The Path. At the same time, regardless of the form and race he took, to the point of changing the basic composition of his blood and molecular structure, Vahn knew he couldn’t remove the ‘unique’ qualities from his blood. He really needed to spend some more time trying to understand exactly what his blood was as, even after reaching the age of 156, he still had a *sealed* race within his status that even Sis had no understanding of…

Now that he no longer had any reason to stay in Fuyuki, Vahn’s mind was racing with thoughts of what he needed to accomplish over the next ten years. The highest priority would be increasing his own strength and knowledge but, in order to accomplish this, he needed a place where he could train and conduct his research in peace. Fortunately, he had a Teacher like Scáthach on his side and, even though Paracelsus would probably never make any ‘true’ breakthroughs into unlocking the secrets contained within his blood, Vahn believed the legendary Alchemist would be able to at least match Terra’s accomplishments. As for everything else, he could fill in the blanks by summoning other Heroic Spirits by taking into consideration the needs of his yet to exist organization…

Thinking of the future, Vahn quickly moved through the crowded streets, quickly breaking from the pursuit of a few members of the Holy Church that had been following them to the airport. When he entered into a side alley, Vahn vanished by having Alaya teleport him as his own means would leave traces that could be followed. As a result, a man and a woman appeared in the alleyway a few seconds after he had vanished before pulling out their cell phones and immediately reporting their failure to track him. With this last sighting, Vahn vanished from Fuyuki City entirely, sending a few ripples through the upper echelons of the Holy Church and the Mage’s Association who had been intending to pull him into their ranks…

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Appearing within the underwater compound that had been created by Paracelsus, Vahn looked around to see that everyone was already gathered. Tristana was standing at the side of Paracelsus, using his body as a meatshield against the gazes of the other girls in the room. To his credit, the handsome Alchemist continued to show a calming smile, even though Fenrir had been glaring at him for some time now. Fortunately, things weren’t that tense elsewhere in the room as Astolfo, Catherine, Nobuna, and Lakshmibai were having a lively conversation at the side. When Vahn appeared, Astolfo was the second person after Fenrir to notice him, immediately raising his gloved hand and exclaiming, “Yo! Vahn is here everyone~!”

Though they had noticed Vahn shortly after Astolfo, everyone still turned their attention towards him after the latter’s outburst. Artoria and Lakshmibai almost synchronously greeted, “Welcome back, Master.” while Fenrir and Circe naturally gravitated to his side. Nobunaga also walked over, asking, “So, got any ideas about where to build our base? This place doesn’t seem all that bad.” With her moving over, Vahn quickly found himself surrounded by everyone, including a now able Catherine who was walking around with an ornate cane. She gave a polite nod after reaching a comfortable speaking distance, saying, “It is good to see you, Sage Emperor…” in a soft tone.

Of everyone present, the only groups that didn’t move to surround Vahn were the duos of Tristana, Paracelsus, and Illya, Heracles. The latter had Illya sitting on Heracles’ shoulders as he towered over everyone else in the room with an intimidating aura. When she saw Vahn, Illya gave a small wave but, not fond of being around others all that much, she made no effort to join the small crowd gathered around him. Vahn gave her an acknowledging nod and a calm smile before turning his attention to Catherine and saying, “It is good to see you. After we move, I’ll finish treating your condition.” Then, in response to Nobunaga’s question, Vahn answered, “I have a few places in mind but I’m open to ideas if anyone has a special need or preference…”

In preparation for the move, Vahn had asked Alaya for information regarding potential locations for establishing a base. She had quickly informed him that almost every Spiritual Land and Leyline had already been claimed by the Mage’s Association and Holy Church. Though it was possible to take one by force, this would be the same as declaring war on whichever organization had laid claim to the area. Since that was counter-intuitive to his intentions, at least for the time being, Vahn had asked about other potential locations. As a result, his current intention was to take over a small island off the west coast of Africa. It had previously had a small community of around 2300 residents but, due to overfishing and the expanse of a large algae colony, the area had become a ‘dead zone’ where fish and other marine life had virtually been wiped out.

As the knowledge provided by the Holy Grail didn’t exactly include detailed geological information and the current political climate of the world’s countries, the only person to answer Vahn was Astolfo, boldly stating, “I think it would be best to establish a base around the British Isles or Ireland~! With the exception of Nobu-chan, most of our origins can be traced to that area. Who knows, we might get some kind of super amazing benefits from being near our homeland~? Also, I really want to see how the world has changed over the last twelve-hundred years. At the very least, I want to visit France~! Also, also, won’t you feel better if you’re closer to Sakura-chan and Rin~?”

Vahn was a little taken aback by how excited Astolfo was but, before he could answer, a soft voice spread through the room, saying, “I believe Duke Astolfo is correct. Both Artoria and I would be able to draw power from Britain as it is the closest physical location to Avalon. The same should be true for Lady Scáthach if you decide on Ireland as the location for your base…”

Following the voice to its source, Vahn saw Merlin standing next to Paracelsus’ workstation, a gentle smile on his face as he poked a vial full of purple liquid. This caused Tristana to startle, exclaiming, “How the hell is everyone able to just teleport into our base without setting off the alarms…!?” Since she had double-checked all of the magical relays after Vahn previous ‘visit’, Tristana was frustrated to know that her best efforts meant nothing before people like Vahn and this new arrival.

As if he hadn’t even heard Tristana’s outburst, Merlin continued to stare at Vahn, adding, “I know a good spot, if you’re willing to trust me. It gets a bit chilly this time of year, but I believe it will be an excellent choice for a base. Spiritual Lands and Leylines are not the only suitable locations to build a stronghold…sometimes a location with a bit of ‘mystery’ is the most ideal~.” Though he was being roundabout, the fact that Merlin specifically used the word ‘mystery’ immediately made up Vahn’s mind. This implied that the place Merlin had in mind had been around since the Age of Gods or, at the very least, represented the burial grounds of where a Phantasmal Species had died.

In the Common Era, dating back two-thousand-fourteen years to the present, the most powerful influence in the world were Laws related to the Physical and Quantum realms. Prior to the Era of Man, the true name of the Common Era, the most powerful Laws at play were those related to Mystery and the Primary Elemental Forces. When the Gods were forced to retreat to the Reverse Side of the World at the end of the Era of Gods, most Mystery in the world had vanished with them. As all Magecraft and Thaumaturgy relied on aspects of Mystery and their constituent Laws to manifest, any place where Mystery was strong served as perfect grounds to build a stronghold. After all, with few exceptions, using True Magic wasn’t even possible outside of an area where the Laws of Physics were more influential than the Laws of Mystery. It was for this reason that most Magi disdained Science and Technology as, with time, it would lead to the inevitable decline and death of Magecraft.

Though the odds of the powers behind the scenes allowing that to happen were negligible at best, Vahn knew it was undoubtedly the future of some timelines. As for his own, his path would likely lead to the increase of Mystery in the world, something Merlin was undoubtedly aware of. After all, he would be summoning Heroic Spirits from History to become permanant residents in the world, many bringing with them fragments of Mystery. Since the land he builds his base on would also become closely tied to the Root, Vahn knew that his presence in the world all but guaranteed it was on a path where Magecraft would become commonplace. One of the major tasks ahead of him was introducing it in such a way that people didn’t outright destroy themselves during the transition…

Without overthinking matters, Vahn nodded in affirmation toward Merlin, asking, “Can you take us there…?” This was something Merlin had already prepared for, causing him to tap his staff on the ground in response. A massive, bluish-white formation appeared in the area and, without giving anyone time to prepare, the entire room was emptied a moment later. The only person who wasn’t transferred was Alaya, leaving her hovering in the air next to where Vahn had been standing. At the same time, however, a version of her was already standing at Vahn’s side more than ten-thousand kilometers away. Using this opportunity, she created a small blue star at the tip of her index finger that, moments later, exploded with enough force to make the nearby coastal cities experience a Magnitude 6.4 earthquake…

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Feeling a tugging sensation in his stomach, though only for a brief moment, Vahn felt slightly nauseous due to the quick transfer. He wasn’t the only one either as Catherine stumbled into Astolfo’s embrace before vacating the contents of her stomach onto the poor Paladin who, to his credit, tolerated the mess while lightly patting his former Master’s back. As for the other affected parties, they included Tristana, who had plopped to the floor, and Illya who glared at Merlin, her eyes gaining a slightly purple hue that caused the Magus to smile in return. At the same time, he hid his palms in his sleeves though, due to the slightly transparent quality of his ears and neck, it was obvious that the transfer had taken its toll. Others might not be able to see through it, due to the powerful illusion surrounding Merlin’s body, but Vahn had been paying close attention during the transfer to confirm his suspicions…

While others were collecting themselves, one person in the room had a very different reaction as she looked around the area with complex emotions visible on her face. Then, turning to Merlin, Artoria asked, “This is where you want Vahn to build his base? Here, of all places…?” They were currently located in a small stone chamber that looked like it hadn’t withstood the test of time all that well. Even at a glance, however, it was easy to see that this was a room in a much larger structure, something not even Vahn’s senses could fully map out. There were several areas that his perception couldn’t even pierce, showing up as empty blotches on his Minimap, now dominated by what looked like the blueprint of a massive fortress-type castle.

In response to Artoria’s words, Merlin kept his usual smile as he answered, “This place is not your burden to bear any longer, my dear Artoria. However, I’m certain you would prefer to see it prosper once again…yes…of course…after all, this is your home.” With that said, Merlin tapped his staff a few more times, each motion sending a blue pulse through the room that seemed to vanish into the walls before spreading further beyond. As this occurred, the surrounding structure looked like it was going back in time, including dust and debris returning to their original location as decayed stone quickly turned back into smooth and polished surfaces. Though Merlin’s presence seemed to be fading with every tap of his staff, his expression didn’t change much until he had apparently finished his task, punctuated by a tired sigh.

Now, instead of a decrepit stone room, the group found themselves in an ornate antechamber, complete with suits of armor, various pieces of art, and a thick red carpet beneath their feet. Then, without explaining anything further, Merlin opened a set of massive reinforced wooden doors that had the figures of twelve people carved into them. The other side of the doors opened up to a massive throne room that was supported by pillars that stretched all the way to the roof more than 30m overhead. It almost looked like the inside of a massive cathedral with the arched roof and stained glass murals that dotted the upper half of the walls. At the very center, surrounded on both side by twelve ornate thrones, a surprisingly simple wooden throne stood out amongst them…

Even without needing a history lesson, everyone in the room knew exactly where it was they had been transported to by Merlin. Based on Artoria’s reaction alone, it was obvious they had found themselves in the legendary castle of King Arthur, a place that had disappeared long ago and was suspected by some to have never existed from the start. Though he was certain to find out the whole story, later on, Vahn could feel the history of the place as if it were palpable, causing him to look around with visible awe on his face as he muttered, “Camelot…” in a respectful tone. This utterance earned a nod from Merlin who, using his staff as a walking stick, made his way over to the wooden throne before caressing his hand over the surface and asking, “Well, want to try it out…?”

Understanding Merlin’s intentions, Vahn’s expression and disposition almost instantly changed, causing the surroundings to tremble slightly as he looked toward Artoria. Though she still had a few complex emotions visible in her eyes, Artoria had already made her decision when she and Vahn shared vows previously. She intended to wring Merlin’s neck later but, for the time being, Artoria took a knee, lowering her head toward Vahn as she muttered in a firm tone, “My Emperor…!” This was the same as giving Vahn her consent, causing the aura surrounding his body to more than double in intensity as he made his way over to the wooden throne and sat down without hesitation. Though the throne was relatively plain, Vahn felt as if his power had increased qualitatively the very instant he sat down, an overwhelming sense of pride welling up inside of his chest as Merlin mused, “All hail the Emperor…” in a light tone.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Sakura is too precious (T ^ T)’,’Mystery has no chance against Physics and the Scientific Method…! Question everything, define everything, know everything…!’,’The Rise of the Sage Emperor of Camelot (O o O)…!!!’)

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