Chapter 1112: Exploration : Acceptance

While waiting for Mordred to wake up naturally, Vahn broke most conventions by pulling out a small dining table in the middle of the Throne Room and bringing out a light meal for everyone. Though he certainly needed to work on developing his image in the future, Vahn was still the Emperor so it was ultimately up to him what conventions should be followed. In some extreme cases, there had been Kings like Gilgamesh who imposed Prima Nocta, a ‘tradition’ that allowed him to sleep with any female before their husbands were allowed to lay with them. If the woman didn’t suit his taste, they weren’t even allowed to be married in the first place. For those that broke the law, the punishment was to throw the woman into a pen with ravenous pigs while the offending man had his arms, legs, and p**** cut off, having the wounds cauterized before being nailed to a post to serve as a warning for those who defied Gilgamesh’s will.

In another extreme case, the Roman Emperor Caligula had collected the young sons and daughters of his rivals, imprisoning them on seafaring vessels where he would invite those of his faction to engage in long and bloody orgies that often left his victims crippled and horribly disfigured. Compared to such individuals, Vahn didn’t think his faux pas of eating a light meal within the Throne Room was all that extreme. After all, with people gradually showing up from their exploration, it gave Vahn the opportunity to talk with everyone without pretenses. Those present were all the ‘core’ that would make up the foundation of his future Empire so Vahn didn’t mind treating them as equals, especially since there weren’t even any officials, with the exception of Merlin, to nag him…

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As it was a good opportunity to make things more transparent, Vahn had guided the conversation towards the direction of official Court Ranks and Titles for everyone present. Since Nobunaga, Lakshmibai, and Scáthach all had the official titles of King, Jhansi, and Queen, Vahn gave them the opportunity to decide if they wanted to officially be made Imperial Consorts or have detached ranks such as Dutchess, Marquess, or Countess. He didn’t want to force them into accepting a role in his ‘Imperial Harem’, especially in the case of Scáthach, but the choice was ultimately their’s to make. He was rather fond of Nobunaga and, though she had a few quirks, Vahn knew his relationship with Lakshmibai would probably develop quickly if given attention…

After a great deal of crosstalk, including instances such as Tristana trying to squeeze out a higher rank for herself and Catherine outright refusing a rank, Vahn finally had a nascent structure for his Court. Nobunaga had unashamedly taken a rather high position, putting herself as the equal of Artoria by becoming a Queen-Empress-Consort. As for Lakshmibai, she settled on being a ‘simple’ Imperial Consort with the official rank of Dutchess. Scáthach refused an official rank but accepted a unique Title of Queen Marshall, with the role of educating Vahn and other members of the Imperial Family that she took a fancy to. She was perfectly aware that her endeavor to teach him ‘everything’ could take hundreds of years but, as it was all but guaranteed that she would be able to finally die one day, Scáthach didn’t mind…

With his ‘consorts’ decided upon, Astolfo had been given the official title of Count as, even with the previous title of Duke to his name, that would not translate to a similar position in an Empire. He had been born as the son of Otto, the King of England at the time of Charlamagne’s reign. Since his title would afford him no rights in modern times, becoming a Count within the Empire was actually a significant status upgrade. As for Catherine, though she had initially refused a title, Vahn managed to convince her to accept the status of a Baroness just so people wouldn’t be able to complain about her attending the Court with Astolfo in the future. Though they both wanted to travel the world, both she and Astolfo had set aside their travel arrangements for the time being in recognition of the fact that the world was currently in danger. Stirring up trouble and drawing attention to themselves in the present wouldn’t end well, something Catherine had been lecturing Astolfo ever since Vahn allowed the latter to go and protect her…

Much like Catherine, Tristana had also been given the status of a Baroness, even though she had tried to insist that she deserved a higher rank. However, after threatening to remove her rank completely, she quickly shut up and hid behind the perpetually smiling Paracelsus as if he could protect her. As the Head of the Alchemical Order, he had been given the same rank as Astolfo, making him a Count with slightly higher authority than the flamboyant former-Paladin. He was actually the main reason Tristana was even given a rank of Nobility as, much like Catherine, Vahn expected things to progress between them and their respective partners. Even if he had to give Paracelsus a small push, Vahn wanted at least one male companion that was married so that he would be able to vent some of his own frustrations every now and then…

With pretty much everyone being granted some form of title or status, this obviously included Fenrir, Circe, Illya, and, once he summoned her, Medusa. He couldn’t keep delaying her summoning much longer and, though he lacked the requisite reserves to manage the feat easily, it wasn’t impossible to bring her into the world. Since he wanted her to acclimate to others before Rin and Sakura came to stay with him, Vahn was intending to summon Medusa early the following morning. With her childish and mischevious nature, it was possible she could actually become good friends with Mordred if his intuition was reliable. He wouldn’t have a complete understanding of Mordred’s character until he dreamed about her later in the evening so it was hard to be certain…

As for the titles granted to the new ‘youth troupe’, Fenrir refused any type of official status, claiming she was always and forever his number one subordinate. Status meant nothing to her as, regardless of the complaints of others, she knew her place was at her Master’s side. Thus, much like Scáthach, Fenrir was given a unique Title by recommendation of Merlin, becoming the Guardian of the Inner Sanctum. Though it didn’t come with a status of Nobility, the name alone implied that Fenrir had free reign within the Inner Sanctum, putting her on the same level, or even higher, than the Imperial Family. Even Fenrir found this arrangement agreeable as it meant she wouldn’t have to deal with politics and could continue serving the role of her Master’s most precious companion…

Much like Fenrir, Circe also refused the status of a Noble as, according to her, such things have never mattered. She had given herself the role as Vahn’s personal Chef and Attendant, not caring about how others saw her in the least. As a result of her insistence, Merlin gave his opinion on the matter once again, ultimately managing to convince Circe to accept the Title of Imperial Chambermaid to the Sage Emperor. Since he knew better than most how troublesome and insistent some officials could be, he wanted to avoid the situation where anyone could say libelous things about Vahn as, in this world, such things could actually become a ‘curse’ that results in various troubles. Fortunately, Circe’s impression of Merlin was largely positive as he had allowed her to have a ‘pleasant’ dream in the past. Thus, without causing too much of a scene, she ultimately accepted the Title since it more or less described the role she had decided for herself…

With pretty much everyone else having been assigned a Rank or Title, Illya didn’t have much ground to stand on if she wanted to refuse. Since she was, in a way, Vahn’s adopted younger sister, Illya had decided to accept the status of Grand Dutchess, even if she never intended to manage any territory and would spend most of her time cooped up in the Inner Sanctum. She ultimately didn’t care about the title at all, knowing there was a high chance that her status would change in the future unless she changed her mind. Currently, the only thing that Illya really cared about was that Vahn at least made an attempt to keep his promise to make her happy. If he was sincere in his efforts, Illya fully intended to become something more than ‘just’ siblings…

After Illya accepted her position as Grand Dutchess, it was decided that Heracles would be given the Title of Imperial Protector of the Grand Dutchess. Though it wasn’t impossible to remove the [Mad Enhancement] and restore Heracles’ rationality, his status as one of Illya’s emotional anchors made it difficult to arbitrarily decide such things. Once she was more stable, restoring his Ego and allowing the two to interact in a more meaningful way would be therapeutic for Illya. Rushing the process, only to find out that Heracles wasn’t fond of simply being a girl’s guardian, would only cause her extreme mental duress during a time in her life when she was already extremely unstable. Since it seemed that ‘Berserker’ was surprisingly okay with the current status quo, Vahn had no intention of breaking the ‘illusion’ any time soon…

Once everyone had officially become some sort of Noble or Title-Bearer, the conversation became rather lively as each person explained what they had found during their exploration of the castle. With only a few hours to explore, there were many rooms in the purportedly 980 room castle that had still gone untouched. As for the most ‘interesting’ discoveries, Fenrir had discovered the room where Artoria would hold counsel with the Knights of the Round Table. Though the legendary table itself wasn’t present any longer, she said the room felt ‘heavy’ just be in, something that earned a nod from Artoria when she brought it up. Other than that, she found a large banquet hall that could also serve as a ballroom, though it had never been used for that function during Artoria’s time…

After Fenrir, the most enthused to talk about what they had discovered was Astolfo as, unlike everyone else, he instantly went to explore the area outside of the massive Ivory Castle. His tales included mention of a ‘ghost city’ that had fallen to the test of time, an abandoned port that used to serve as the primary trade hub for the timeworn city, and a massive stone bridge that was more than 20m wide and 300m long before coming to an end as if the other half had been destroyed. Merlin used this as an opportunity to explain how the Island of Avalon, located just off the coast of present-day Wales, existed in an isolated dimensional space. After the Battle of Camlann, the British Isles entered into a long period of civil strife and political restructuring. At the same time, a phenomenon known as the ‘Dragon’s Breath’, something ultimately accredited to Merlin, began to force people away from Avalon before the island was sealed off and lost to time.

Understanding he had a lot to learn about Avalon and the history of Camelot, Vahn intended to have Merlin either explain things in detail or put his accounting into text so he could sort it into the great library of his mind. He wanted to know everything, including the true history behind legendary items like Caliburn, Excalibur, Avalon, and the Round Table. At the same time, all knowledge pertaining to significant people and places would be of extreme importance as, much like Merlin, Vahn suspected there were other entities that had persisted since Artoria’s time. Even the Director of the Clock Tower was supposedly near two-thousand years old so he had no doubt some historical figures, long forgotten to time, would make an appearance. The last thing he needed was someone like Morgan le Fay appearing out of nowhere to continue enacting her grudge against Artoria…

During the discussion about exploration, which also accounted for the existence of a large barracks, abandoned stables, and empty armory, Mordred began to stir at the side. Since Vahn and Artoria had both been paying close attention to her, they immediately noticed this change. As a result of them both looking towards the bed where Mordred was laying, everyone else became silent and looked over as well. The atmosphere suddenly became rather tense but, as if to dash it apart completely, Mordred made an admittedly adorable ‘Munya…’ sound before rolling onto her side and trying to scratch her belly in a rather uncouth display. Since her endeavor ultimately ended in failure, due to the presence of her smock, Mordred’s tiny face scrunched in annoyance as her eyes slowly peeled open. Vahn immediately noticed her eyes were a darker shade of green than Artoria’s but, instead of possessing no light like many ‘evil’ individuals, Mordred’s seemed to possess the same innocence her stature would suggest…

For several seconds, causing the tension to build once again, Mordred just stared back at everyone seated at the table with a blank expression on her face. Her gaze had been fixed predominately on Vahn, as she just had just experienced a fractured 140 years of his life, so it took a bit of time for her to process that Artoria was sitting next to him. This was largely due to the fact that, unlike the cold and dutiful Father she remembered from her memories, the current Artoria had a more demure aura that didn’t stand out when she was next to Vahn. Though this would change almost instantly when Vahn was absent, her recognition of Vahn as the ‘Emperor’ she served caused Artoria’s [Charisma:B] to deactivate in his presence.

Finally realizing that the small girl next to Vahn was her ‘Father’, Mordred’s disposition immediately changed as her expression turned fierce, even though it actually just looked adorable. She bounded backward on the bed as if creating distance between her enemy before swiping her hand across empty space, an obvious attempt to summon her Noble Phantasm as she shouted, “Father…!” in a rather high-pitched tone of voice. This utterance, combined with her inability to call out her Noble Phantasm, seemed to alert Mordred to the fact that something ‘abnormal’ was going on. It was only at this point that she finally looked down at her own body, noticing it had shrunk considerably from what she was familiar with…

Feeling a profound level of confusion that temporarily overtook her rage, Mordred nearly caused Vahn to facepalm as she unceremoniously began fondling her now non-existent breasts before lifting up her smock and frowning at the unfamiliar garments she had been made to wear. These behaviors made the atmosphere suddenly turn extremely awkward, causing Vahn to cough loudly to get Mordred’s attention. This ultimately proved successful, even though the end result had Mordred shouting, “What the hell is all this!? You…you…!” Since she could only imagine that Vahn was the one to put her in this state, as she knew he was capable of all kinds of ‘impossible’ things, Mordred was pointing directly at him with rage-filled eyes and a shaky hand.

Though he actually thought Mordred was rather adorable, Vahn’s expression hardened when she pointed at him. As if his earlier casual appearance had been a facade, a somewhat overbearing aura immediately filled the entire room as, even though it had only recently become his, this Throne Room was his ‘territory’. Vahn had come to understand this when he was in the Babel Tower but, after becoming an Emperor, his Throne Room was the place where his power was the strongest. It was likely due to this observation that his Emperor self from the Divination had developed the SSS-Ranked [Throne] Magic. Now, even though he was much weaker than he was back in the Record of Danmachi, Vahn was able to experience the unique boost that he could only describe as ‘authority’.

Like her body had been turned into a statue, Mordred became absolutely stiff as Vahn stared directly into her deep green eyes and stated, “Mordred…you will not refer to me as ‘you’. From now on, you may address me as ‘His Majesty’ or ‘My Emperor’…” Since she knew his status better than most, the only exceptions being Fenrir, Nobunaga, and now Merlin, Mordred pulled her hand back as if she had just touched a hot plate. She looked like she wanted to say something but, with the powerful aura ‘compelling’ absolute silence, there were no words or sounds present within the room other than the chaotic sound of her heart thumping madly in her chest.

Since she had become more ‘obedient’, Vahn’s stern expression melted into a gentle smile that caused the suppressive atmosphere to almost instantly vanish. Then, adding onto his previous words, Vahn calmly stated, “However, so long as you wish for it, you also have the right to refer to me as Chichiue, Otou-sama, or Father…isn’t that right, Artoria?” With the summoning system also granting basic mastery over all languages to ‘Servants’, pretty much everyone present spoke fluent Japanese. Medusa would take some time acclimating to the language but, with how things were going, it was likely that his Empire’s native tongue would be a variant of Japanese in the future. This was largely due to the fact that Sakura only spoke Japanese and, with everyone pretty much already speaking it, Vahn was simply too lazy to insist on anything else…

In response to Vahn’s question, Artoria nodded her head while continuing to stare back at Mordred as she explained, “I was not able to be the Father you needed, Mordred…however, if you’ll give me the chance, I would like to try and be your Mother. My official status is Queen-Empress Consort to the Sage Emperor…if you are willing, you have the option of being…our daughter…” As was often the case with Artoria these days, she started off rather strong but, by the time she ‘realized’ what she was saying, her face became slightly red. This caused Mordred to gawk like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing as, for her entire short life, Artoria had essentially been a ‘Perfect King’. Her rebellion was largely due to the fact she believed it was her right to rule and, failing to gain her Father’s recognition, the only way Mordred could ‘prove’ herself was by overthrowing Artoria with her own power…

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Understanding Mordred’s confusion, Vahn helped give her a push by calmly stating, “You have seen my past, Mordred. You understand the kind of person I am and the type of world I wish to create. I recognize that it is unfair to you, bringing you into this world without asking for consent, but I also believe you are not the Treacherous Knight that history has made you out to be. This is your chance to finally be parent and child with the person you have looked up to your entire life…can you accept this second chance?” Since Mordred’s mental age was ‘literally’ that of a child, Vahn knew he was being a little manipulative with his choice of words. However, much like Artoria, Mordred had lived according to the expectations of others for a very long time. Her only ‘real’ desire was for Artoria’s recognition and, now that she could receive it, Vahn hoped that Mordred would accept the second chance she had been given…

As if to hammer the final nail in the coffin, another trait that Artoria had seemed to develop around him, she actually managed a somewhat awkward smile before adding, “Please, Mordred…I only ask that you give me the chance to make amends for what I have done…or failed to do…” Though she was still filled with doubts, Artoria felt empowered to try harder when she heard Vahn’s words. She also sought a second chance and, now that she was slowly moving toward her ‘happiness’, Artoria felt she might be able to obtain it quicker if she managed to reconcile with this daughter of her’s.

After having witnessed Vahn’s life, at least a ‘censored’ version of it, Mordred knew he wasn’t the type to just ‘say’ things on a whim. Knowing an Emperor that could even sway Gods wanted to adopt her, she felt a bit of anxiety within her heart. At the same time, a lot of her anger and hatred melted away when she saw how her ‘father’ was acting. She could feel the sincerity in Artoria’s words and, as her last thoughts before ‘death’ was simply for her father to acknowledge her, Mordred’s face gained a tiny pout as she crossed her arms in a huff. For several long seconds, she averted her eyes from everyone else present within the room before finally muttering, “Fine then…” in a voice that was barely a whisper…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘You get a title, you get a title, everyone gets a title…!’,’Exploration is a man’s romance~!’,’Tiny Mordred is a Big Tsundere’)

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