Chapter 1109: Secrets

Following the rather auspicious moment when Vahn first sat upon the Throne of Camelot, he got to experience Astolfo renewing his pledge as a Knight, making the androgynous pretty boy his second ‘official’ Knight. After this, everyone was pretty much given free rein to pick their rooms, so long as they selected an area in the residential quarters and stayed out of the Inner Sanctum. Though things became a little awkward in the group after Vahn sat upon the throne, it wasn’t that big of a change in how things would be run. If Camelot was truly to become the heart of an Empire in the future, it would take years so there was no particular rush to make sure a specific kind of order was kept…

Though the ‘Ivory Castle’, the official name of the residence Vahn had coopted for himself, had been restored to its former glory, it was still grossly understaffed. There was also nothing like a power grid present so the majority of the building was dark, the only light present coming in from the various stained-glass murals and a few open windows. To help restructure a few things and tend to the basic maintenance of the castle, Paracelsus was given the task of creating golems to tend to the grounds before creating a service staff of Artificial Humans and Homunculi. Though there would undoubtedly be Heroic Spirits and other people wandering the halls in the future, they obviously couldn’t be given the task of simple Maids, Servants, and Groundskeepers. Since various Automatons could handle most menial tasks, it was best to leave such things to them while a few key individuals took charge of each Order’s personnel.

Things would undoubtedly become more cohesive with the passage of time but the basic structure of Vahn’s organization, now simply named ‘Avalon’, would be comprised of four departments, named ‘Orders’ since he wanted to go with the theme of Knights. The main Order would be headed by Vahn himself, known as the Imperial Order: Aldrnari. His primary responsibility was overseeing the other three Orders, essentially playing the part of an actual Emperor since he would have the final say regarding the allocation of resources and personnel. Beneath his Imperial Order, there would be the Alchemical Order, headed by Paracelsus, the Order of Imperial Knights, headed by Artorias, and the Order of Mystery, for the moment headed by Merlin himself.

Soon after Vahn had taken his place upon the Throne, Merlin surprised everyone by pledging an oath of his own, officially becoming Vahn’s ‘Magus of the Court’. Since there were few people who could even hope to contend against Merlin in the realm of Magecraft, including those that could use True Magic, he was the best candidate for the position. There was also the simple fact that, even more so than Artoria herself, the only person who knew all of Camelot’s secrets was Merlin. Thus, once everyone else had been released to explore the castle, Vahn found himself deep within the Inner Sanctum with Artoria at his side. Though Fenrir and Circe had wanted to come along, Merlin was surprisingly insistent that the only people allowed within the heart of the Inner Sanctum were the past and present rulers of Camelot. Anyone else that entered was bound to be stricken with a vicious curse and, though Vahn could probably come up with a solution, it simply wasn’t worth burdening his companions with such things in the present. As for why Merlin was able to enter, he simply smiled in response without giving a clear answer…

After passing into a room that would serve as Vahn’s bedchamber in the future, a fact that made Artoria pale slightly since it had previously been where she and her own wife slept. Though Vahn would replace everything within, it was still awkward to have people inside a room that had only been frequented by Artoria, Guinevere, and, though she didn’t discover this until later, her Head Knight, Lancelot. She had forgiven him for his sins, not wanting to interfere in the happiness of two of her closest confidants, but her encounter with him during the Fourth Holy Grail War had proven this was another one of her mistakes. Seeking redemption for his actions after her presumed death, he roamed the lands before eventually losing his mind, something she believed was accredited to a curse that had been placed on him…

As if he didn’t care for Artoria’s reminiscence at all, Merlin tapped his staff against a small diamond-shaped tile, triggering a mechanism that Artoria herself didn’t know existed. This caused her to stare daggers at him, something the flowery magus just shrugged off before saying, “Had you known what lay beneath Camelot, your burdens would have been greatly magnified. You should not worry so much about the past, my dear Artoria, as the only thing that awaits you from here onwards is the future…” With that said, Merlin made a small orb of light before leading the way down a dark and spiraling corridor. Compared to the ivory-like stone of the rest of the castle, the interior walls of the corridor seemed far more ancient, to an extent that not even Merlin’s magic would be able to restore them to their true glory…

Since he was curious about what lay below, Vahn placed his hand on Artoria’s shoulder, giving her a small nod before following behind Merlin. She interpreted this as him agreeing with Merlin, causing Artoria to release a sigh before quickly falling into step behind the Emperor she had pledged more than just her sword to. Though there was nothing ‘official’ between them as of yet, Artoria had prepared her heart to accept any status Vahn intended to give her. She was still inexperienced in matters of the heart, still firmly clinging to her feelings toward Shirou, but Artoria believed in the future that Vahn saw. Now that the world itself was in danger, she would do whatever it took to make sure he wouldn’t have to shoulder the burden himself…she did not wish to see him make the same mistakes, even though he had already succeeded once before while she herself had failed…

After descending for nearly half an hour, to a depth of around 700m, Vahn followed Merlin through a stone archway that opened up into a large cavern. Artoria was following close behind him, her mind wandering, so she had nearly bumped into him when Vahn suddenly stopped in his tracks. Her reaction time gave her more than enough leeway to change her course at the last moment before, much like Vahn, Artoria gawked at the unexpected sight before her. There, in the middle of the cavern, a massive red dragon was bound by silver chains as pillars of luminescent crystal pinned it to the ground like spears of light…

Before either Vahn or Artoria could ask, Merlin created several more spheres of light as he explained, “This is the Welsh Dragon…long ago, in a time long before Artoria had been born, this True Dragon served as the principal protector of the British Isles. It was one of the few Phantasmal Species that decided to remain on this side of the world during the Great Migration. Due to a pact it had formed with a member of the Volcaeic Tribe, the common ancestor of most of Britain’s Royalty…one hundred years before Artoria’s birth, the Welsh Dragon had prophesied her birth on the brink of Britain’s ruin. She was meant to be a beacon of hope that would raise Britain from the ashes, ushering it into a new era of prosperity by serving as a living anchor between the Surface and the Reverse Side of the World…”

Dear Readers. Scrapers have recently been devasting our views. At this rate, the site (creativenovels .com) might...let's just hope it doesn't come to that. If you are reading on a scraper site. Please don't.

As she had once wielded the Holy Spear, Rhongomyniad, Artoria wasn’t unfamiliar with the majority of Merlin’s words. What she couldn’t understand was how the Welsh Dragon, known as a benevolent and wise creature, had come to be imprisoned beneath the Ivory Castle. Even her own war standard had born the symbol of the dragon while, beating within her chest, the blessing it had bestowed upon her lineage gave her the power that had allowed her to become King. Seeing it pinned down caused Artoria to feel as if she had a heavy weight placed on her chest, making it difficult to breathe even as Vahn lightly stroked her back.

Understanding what Artoria wanted to ask, Merlin had a sad smile on his face as he explained, “Your birth was not the only thing prophesied by the Welsh Dragon. It also foresaw a terrible calamity that threatened to bring, not only Britain to ruin, but the surrounding countries as well. This calamity presented itself in the form of a White Dragon, a Beast of Gaia that served as the manifestation of the Saxton’s desire for conquest. After the Age of Gods had come to an end, Gaia, the other half of the Counter-Force, was far more proactive in her desire to see humans fight amongst themselves. Her efforts are largely to blame for the decline of Magecraft and the depletion of mana over the last two-thousand-fourteen years…”

As Merlin said this, he looked at a small blue squirrel-like creature that was clinging to Vahn’s shoulder, its teeth buried into the base of his neck. This was a form Alaya had taken per Vahn’s request, giving her permission to suck his blood, increasing the reserves of Magical Energy he could use to make her take action. In her current state, she was actively concealed from the perception of most people, the only exceptions being entities like Vahn, Merlin, and Scáthach. Since she understood that Merlin was looking at her, Alaya looked back at him with her violet eyes flashing lines of runes, mouth never leaving Vahn’s neck…

Continuing where he left off, Merlin added, “The Welsh Dragon knew it would emerge victoriously but it would be a pyrrhic victory as, due to the toxins contained within the White Dragon’s fangs and claws, it was fated to be corrupted, bringing the very destruction it had vowed to prevent. Thus, after fighting against the malevolent White Dragon and obtaining victory, the Welsh Dragon entrusted its fate to the people it had sworn to protect. Its body became the foundation for the Island of Avalon, serving as the physical bridge that would allow others to reach the Reverse Side of the World and reach the true Avalon. At the same time, its heart was removed, serving to nourish the bodies of the Pendragon family until the prophesied King had been born. After that, it vanished from the world, becoming the heart beating within Artoria’s chest…”

At this point, Merlin was standing near the snout of the Welsh Dragon, rubbing his hand across the ruby-red scales of the 20m long winged creature. Then, as if to explain the purpose for revealing such a secret, Merlin explained, “Of the many prophecies surrounding the Welsh Dragon, the most important was the final words it spoke before being sealed away. Though it had foreseen the fall of King Arthur in the Battle of Camlann, it also saw visions of a far future where, after gaining power in the True Avalon, King Arthur would return to usher in the Third Era. During that time, Avalon would become the foundation for a Utopia where all races would be able to prosper, turning the tides of destruction and bringing an Age of Wonder…”

When he finished speaking, Merlin looked towards Vahn before squinting his eyes as he added, “That was the future I had seen as well…at least until you descended upon this world, Sage Emperor Aldrnari. Though I had been powerless to help her due to my own imprisonment, I knew that Artoria would one day become the King she always aspired to be. She was fated to lead, not as the King of Britain, but the Wise King of Avalon. In that vision of the future, it was not you at her side, but another man…”

Even without explaining further, Vahn and Artoria both thought about Shirou, the latter adopting a complex expression while the former just squinted his eye slightly and said, “Those who wait for ‘fate’ to play out would excuse all tragedies as ‘inevitabilities’. So long as people have free will, there is no such thing as an inviolable prophecy. Regardless of the future you had seen, the only future that has ever mattered was the one people forged in the present. There are so many factors in play that even you would never be able to comprehend, Merlin, so please do not make things difficult for Artoria by saying such careless words…”

In response to Vahn’s words, Merlin actually nodded his head in affirmation, a smile on his face as he said, “Yes, I believe that is how it ought to be. Had I not come to that same conclusion, I never would have entrusted my most precious treasure to you. Truth be told, I was never fond of the fate that had been decided, not just for Artoria, but all of the people I have encountered. The burden of knowing when and how those close to you will die, never being able to take action to prevent it, is one of the things I abhor about my own existence. When I saw what would become of Artoria while I wasted away in a prison for all eternity…well, let us not talk about such dreary subjects. The only thing that matters is, as you said, the future you two are building in the present…”

After he had finished speaking, Merlin removed his hand from the Welsh Dragon’s snout, saying, “There is one final thing you should know…so long as the Welsh Dragon’s body is sealed here, this Island of Avalon serves a similar function to a Leyline. I believe that little squirrel of yours will be able to create a system that allows you to communicate with the Throne of Heroes without any issues. However, what you need to know is the ‘purpose’ that the Welsh Dragon’s sealed body serves…that little lady, Gray, is in possession of the Holy Spear, Rhongomyniad. As the spear serves as one of the anchors of the World itself, it was not able to split from the time axis when Artoria made her pact. This caused the spear to eventually fall into the hands of her foster brother, Sir Kay, who desired to bring his sister back to life, not as the King of Britain, but a simple woman who did not need to bear such burdens. Now, thirty-seven generations later, the spear has fallen into the hands of that lass and, should you wish to use it, there is one important function it possesses…”

Though Merlin had just dropped a bombshell on Artoria, caused her to nearly collapse on the spot, he entrusted her care to Vahn without showing even a small change in expression as he stated, “By using the Holy Spear on the Welsh Dragon, it is possible to create a gateway between the Avalon in the Surface World, and the True Avalon located on the Reverse Side of the World. Though the mana on the other side would be enough to kill a normal person just by being exposed to it, I believe you may very well be an exception to this rule, Vahn. At the same time, there is the potential of using the mana contained within Avalon as a weapon of mass destruction, saturating the world-“

Before Merlin could continue any further, Vahn held up his hand and asked, “And what will happen to the Welsh Dragon…?” Though it was sealed away, Vahn could tell that the monstrously powerful Welsh Dragon was still alive. Even without a heart, and with most of its organs and wings skewered with spears of luminescent crystal, it was still filled to the brim with vitality. He might currently lack the means to fully heal it, but Vahn was confident he could expel the corruption within its body before restoring it to full health one day. It wasn’t right for a creature that had dutifully carried out the terms of its oath to suffer such a tragic fate in exchange for its loyalty. Even if it meant losing the catalyst that gave the Island of Avalon its power, Vahn would rather have a powerful and loyal ally on his side than treat its sealed body like a battery…

Without waiting for Merlin’s answer, as he could already guess it, Vahn plucked Alaya from his shoulder, asking, “How much Magical Energy would it take to remove this dragon’s corruption?” In response to this, Alaya licked the excess blood from her lips before answering, “The Welsh Dragon’s corruption is the Will of Gaia. No amount of Magical Energy would allow me to take action that ran directly counter to an action of my counterpart. If you seek to heal the Welsh Dragon, you would have to make an arrangement with Gaia. At your current level of power, you would lose your life instantly if you attempted to confront her directly.”

Only allowed on Creativenovels.com

In response to Alaya’s words, Merlin showed a melancholic expression before rubbing the Welsh Dragon’s snout again and muttering, “I had hoped against all odds that you would be able to come up with a solution…well, not that you need to do so now. I’m certain you will endeavor to save even the Welsh Dragon…that is your nature, after all…isn’t that correct, Sage Emperor Aldrnari~?” With these words leaving his mouth, Merlin gave a ‘knowing’ smile that conveyed to Vahn that this had been his intention from the start. Though this was a little annoying, Vahn’s determination to heal the Welsh Dragon wasn’t affected in the slightest. With that in mind, he walked over to its side before placing his hand against its chest to get a better understanding of the malignancy…

Though Vahn had been thinking about using his blood to essentially ‘cycle’ out the Welsh Dragon’s, this thought was immediately put on the backburner after he touched it directly. Much like Sakura, it had malignant black energy that had perfectly fused with its own internal mana. Though the blood in its veins was no longer pumping, even that had been turned into a blackened substance not all that dissimilar to the mud that had been produced by the Greater Grail. Most troubling of all, however, was that the Magic Circuits of the Welsh Dragon had warped into a form that would cause it intense pain while using its power, further adding to its madness. Though Vahn could use a [Fate Severing Knife] to separate the malignancy from its body, he was grossly unprepared for fixing the damage to its organs and reshaping its Magic Circuits into the ‘correct’ shape. It seemed easier to make a new body for it, transferring the soul of the Welsh Dragon into a new vessel since its current one was almost irreparably twisted…

Shaking his head, Vahn felt that his mentality was developing in the wrong direction as, even back in Danmachi, he often told others that ‘anything’ was possible. Just because he couldn’t repair the damage easily, didn’t mean he couldn’t do it if given enough time. His skill with [Hands of Nirvana] would only grow stronger and, even if Alaya refused to help him, that didn’t mean he couldn’t find Gaia and make her provide assistance. Even if her presence would kill the current him, the words of Akasha indicated that even Gaia wouldn’t be able to take direct action against him. If he could reach a point where he could approach her directly, Vahn knew he should be able to ‘order’ Gaia to undo the corruption of her Beast and potentially even heal the Welsh Dragon completely…

With his mind made up, Vahn sent waves of Source Energy into the Welsh Dragon’s body, seeing if he could even influence its damaged Magic Circuits. Though it felt like he was trying to shape steal with a piece of wool, the nature of his Source Energy meant there was, at the very least, a small effect. The problem was that the Welsh Dragon seemed to be near the peak of Tier 4 so, with his current level of strength, it felt like it would take decades to beat its Magic Circuits into shape. Vahn knew he would need to increase his strength considerably if he wanted to expedite the process as, even with his previous reserves back in the Record of Danmachi, Vahn wasn’t confident he could use ‘Nirvana Rebirth’ on a creature more than 20m in length.

After pulling his hand away, Vahn confidently stated, “I will be able to help it if given enough time. For now, we should focus on consolidating our power and increasing the strength of our forces. I do not believe for a moment that ‘nothing’ would happen between now and the emergences of Angra Mainyu. You still need to explain to me exactly how Camelot and Avalon are able to remain hidden from the world…after that, we’ll need to come up with a system of governance if we intend to truly make this the heart of my Empire…” Though it hadn’t been his intention to become an Emperor in every Record he visited, Vahn knew a large part of his power was dependant on his followers. Since the fate of the world was on the line, he didn’t mind expanding Camelot until its influence actually began to reach out into the ‘real’ world. The current path, where mankind was manipulated by figures in the shadows, would only end in ultimate destruction. As he did not intend to allow such a thing to happen, Vahn knew he would have to take more ‘decisive’ actions if he wanted to prevent the coming destruction…

Turning to Alaya, Vahn gave a small nod before saying, “Without compromising the seal or injuring the Welsh Dragon, this is the place where I will establish the system to communicate with the Throne of Heroes. Do it…” Though Alaya had only been given the task of creating a catalyst for Vahn’s use, he had already asked her how much Magical Energy it would take to create the entire system. Since he already had several of the larger fragment of the Greater Grail in his possession, it surprisingly only took around 3,000,000 units of Magical Energy to patch everything together. Since Alaya had been constantly sucking his blood for the last six hours, she had a stockpile of around 4.4m units of Magical Energy, more than enough to complete the task in his stead.

In response to Vahn’s words, Alaya spread her arms wide, a rather peculiar action since she was only around 10cm long and looked a lot like a flying squirrel. Vahn had told her to turn into something cute that wouldn’t distract him when he was focused on other things. Though he had to deal with a persistent ‘pinching’ sensation in his neck, he actually preferred seeing Alaya in this kind of form. His body still warmed up just by being in contact with her, but it was a lot easier to ignore when the contact surface had been reduced to the size of a small rodent. Now that he got to see the rather peculiar sight of an adorable blue squirrel manipulating a phenomenal amount of mana, Vahn couldn’t help smiling…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Where the Grand Order though…?’,’Welsh Dragon is a True Bro’,’Vahn is making Alaya work hard xD…’)

https://bit.ly/2XBzAYu <-(p.atreon link)

paypal.me/Einlion

Discord Invite: https://discord.gg/mn5xMbE

You may also like: