Chapter 1113: Lesson

With the awakening of Mordred, the impromptu lunch was brought to an end. Fenrir and Illya went off to pick rooms for themselves, accompanied by a reluctant Circe, while Paracelsus and Catherine accompanied Merlin so he could show them an area to set up an Atelier. There were several tall spires in the Ivory Castle, many serving as ‘Magus Towers’ during the heyday of Artoria and her Knights of the Round Table. Though Paracelsus’ main workshop would be located underground, as the production of golems and things like the [Philosopher’s Stone] were much easier to produce when surrounded by the Earth Element, he would be using the Magus Tower to produce Homunculi. When Vahn had asked about their production, Paracelsus mentioned it would take a few weeks to get everything set up before moving on to actually creating Homunculi. At that point, it could take anywhere between several months to several years to produce a single Homunculus, depending almost entirely on the ‘requirements’ of the body.

Only allowed on

Though Vahn had mentioned the existence of Sub-Space Orbs and their time-dilation effects, Paracelsus had surprisingly refused to use such things as he argued his methods relied heavily on the natural energy in the surroundings and even aspects like Astrology and Divining to produce a high-quality Homunculus. As the Laws that govern a Sub-Space Orb were fundamentally different from those in the outside world, he felt obligated to put in the requisite amount of effort in reality instead of potentially making a mistake that could cost him the life of one of his creations. As for the ‘vessels’ that Vahn had proposed, Paracelsus outright refused to assist so Vahn would have to rely on either Scáthach or Illya if he wanted to make any headway on producing bodies for Nobunaga, Lakshmibai, and Astolfo. Though none of them particularly seemed to mind the fact they were still Heroic Spirits, Vahn pointed out that it was necessary if they wanted to increase their strength and learn new abilities…

As most of the things he needed to deal with would take place after he created a Sub-Space Orb, Vahn was currently focused on matters pertaining to the present. Chief amongst these was trying to deal with a rambunctious Mordred as, soon after everyone else went to pick out their rooms, she had laid claim to the one immediately next to Vahn’s. This had been a highly contentious location but, flaunting her status as the ‘Imperial Princess’, most people just rolled their eyes at her and gave up arguing. As a result, Mordred let her ‘victory’ go to her head, leading to the current scene where Vahn had her sitting in seiza as he gave her a light lecture about how a Princess ought to act. After all, everyone in the castle, with the exception of perhaps Tristana, was an important member of their faction, not a ‘servant’ that Mordred could boss around.

Surprisingly, Mordred was rather well-behaved as she listened to him speaking, perhaps due to the fact that Artoria was seated next to her and ‘sharing’ responsibility for her behavior. Since she hadn’t been able to educate and raise Mordred just yet, Artoria lumped herself together with her daughter in an attempt to strengthen their bond by sharing the same burdens. From Vahn’s perspective, it was hard to avoid smiling as he saw the mother-daughter pair attentively listening to everything he said. There was even a small glimmer of happiness and excitement in Mordred’s eyes, persisting until he finally released a small sigh and said, “Well, that’s it for now. If you want people to treat you with respect, you must first carry yourself with dignity and earn their trust. If you misbehave and try to bully others, well…” As he let his words linger in the air, Vahn dispersed a bit of his aura through the room, causing Mordred’s back to straighten as a result…

With the lecture coming to an end, Mordred sprung up like a cat with its tail stepped on before asking, “By the way, Chichiue, what’s with these clothes? Are you trying to dress me up like a doll or something?” Since she still identified as male, to the point that she had grimaced when told how cute she was, Mordred felt uncomfortable in the clothes she had been given. In response to her questions, Vahn plainly stated, “If you want to wear more boyish clothing, that is fine with me. However, you need to pay more attention to how you present yourself to others in the future. So long as you properly wear your underwear and don’t show off too much skin to people, everything else is okay.”

Now that she was no longer being lectured, Mordred was sitting in a manner not all that dissimilar to Tiona, holding her ankles as she bobbed listlessly from side to side. It was obvious she wasn’t the type that liked to sit around and, as adorable as her current clothes were, Vahn imagined she would probably default to wearing shorts and t-shirts in the future. So long as she wasn’t trying to run around in a tube top that barely covered her chest and a loincloth, he didn’t particularly mind if her fashion sense was a little strange. He expected she would probably wear similar clothes to Fenrir’s combat attire, potentially even developing the habit of dressing up if he pampered her enough…

Imagining a tiny Mordred running around in gothic-style clothing, Vahn couldn’t help but smile as he reached out his hand and surprised his newest daughter by rubbing her head. The moment his hand contacted the top of her head, she almost immediately rolled backward before hopping to her feet in a defensive stance as she said, “Chichiue! Don’t treat me like a child…!” This caused Vahn to raise his brow but, before he could tease her any further, Artoria plainly stated, “Mordred, consider your age and appearance and then answer truthfully. Are you not a child…?” Unlike how she had been acting lately, there was a bit of sternness in Artoria’s tone as she continued to sit in a perfect seiza while watching Mordred’s display with a troubled expression.

Hearing her mother’s tone, Mordred’s face formed into a slightly hurt expression as she muttered, “Hahaue…” For a brief moment, it looked like Mordred might lash out but, after balling her hands into fists for a few seconds, she ultimately slumped her shoulders and walked over to Vahn with a reluctant look on her face. Though it actually did feel like they were bullying her a bit, as Mordred was only a six-year-old girl, Vahn maintained a gentle smile on his face as he lightly rubbed her head. She still seemed reluctant at first but, as was often the case, Mordred’s face melted into a calm and relaxed expression after a few seconds of contact. She even blinked in confusion when he pulled his had away, nearly saying a few words of protest before adopting a pouting expression once again and ‘wiping’ the top of her head with both hands like she had been dirtied.

Vahn knew Mordred was just putting on a front so he laughed uninhibitedly, much to the girl’s chagrin, before saying, “From now on, Mordred, your mother will be in charge of your upbringing. However, if you ever want to talk with me or spend time together, know that I am never too busy to make time for my children. You have seen my memories so you know how precious your existence has become to me…no matter what you choose to do, you will have my support so long as it does not endanger yourself and the lives of others. Even if you want to rise up and become the Emperor in my stead, I will not suppress you…just be prepared to work extra hard since I will make you train with Scáthach when you are older. You might not be scared of her now but…well, you’ll see…”

Somewhat surprisingly, Artoria shook her head before firmly stating, “Mordred will not be allowed to observe your normal training regimen until she has finished her education and passed my standards. If you are not against it, I would like to request the assistance of Fenrir…I believe she and Mordred may get along…” Though Fenrir was considerably more ‘tame’ than Mordred, she still had a bit of a wild side to her, especially in combat. Mordred’s own techniques relied on her explosive speed and strength to overwhelm her foes, relying less on skill than sheer brutality. Though this had been acceptable on the battlefields of their time, enemies in the present required a certain amount of finesse to deal with. Artoria was planning to train her for the next couple of years, at least until Mordred matured fully, in order to beat out some of her bad habits…

Though she was a little annoyed that she was unable to even view her father’s training, Mordred was actually a little happy that she and her mother would be training together. This was apparent to both Artoria and Vahn as, even though she had crossed her arms in a huff, there was a small smile on Mordred’s face. It could be due to the fact that she hid her face most of her life but Mordred was terrible at concealing how she really felt due to her extremely easy to read expression. However, so as not to lose out against Artoria’s popularity in Mordred’s heart, Vahn pulled out a few catalogs of various different children’s fashions, stacking them in a neat pile as he explained, “I’ll personally craft you some equipment for battle but you can choose other clothing you like from these catalogs. Just remember my earlier words and try to pick something sensible or you’ll end up forcing my hand. If you leave it up to me, you’ll be forced to wear frilly dresses all day before changing into animal pajamas at 6 PM. Don’t tempt me, Mordred…”

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Remembering how Vahn had forced all of his other children into animal pajamas, Mordred knew he was being serious with his ‘threat’. Though she actually thought the dragon and lion pajamas were kind of cool, she would never admit such a thing as, even if she ‘was’ a child, she didn’t want to be treated like one. After all, she had spent years fighting on actual battlefields and had even tasted alcohol on several occasions after particularly fierce battles. She had even visited a brothel once but, after the prostitutes realized that she was neither a man nor had the means to pay, Mordred was forced to leave with a red face. If not for the fact they had to move early the next morning, she would have burned the brothel to the ground for refusing to service the future king…

Understanding that such dark thoughts would probably get her into trouble from now on, Mordred just nodded her head seriously in response to Vahn’s words before picking up one of the magazines. Seeing a rather stylish looking girl around her own age wearing black shorts and a hooded jacket with a fur collar, Mordred was slightly surprised at the ‘quality’ of the garments. The summoning system didn’t actually provide much information on things like fashion, especially for children, so Mordred had no idea about the clothing standards of this world. As a result, each page she flipped through was a small surprise as Vahn had specifically selected a few catalogs that were oriented towards girls with more boyish tastes…

After browsing for a while, Mordred eventually found a page showing a girl with more of a punk-rock style, vaguely similar to what Nobunaga would wear since it was toned down quite a bit. Then, pointed to the girl on the page, Mordred shouted, “I want this~!” in an excited tone. This resulted in her getting a swift chop to the head from Artoria, surprising Vahn a bit since he hadn’t expected her to resort to ‘physical’ discipline so soon. However, considering the era in which the two girls had lived, it wasn’t all that surprising since corporal punishment was still common in most present-day countries. Vahn wasn’t particularly fond of such methods himself but, understanding how rebellious Mordred could become if left unchecked, he had already prepared for the inevitability that he would have to spank her a few times when she misbehaved.

With Mordred rubbing her head and muttering a slightly teary-eyed, “Sorry, Chichiue…”, Vahn responded with an approving nod and a smile before pulling out the clothes she had requested. Sis had purchased them for him for a measly 17OP, making it tens of times cheaper than even the tea they would drink. This was largely due to the fact that, while they looked extremely high quality and fashionable, most modern clothing was functionally useless for anything other than simply covering the body. The most expensive part of the outfit Mordred had chosen was the pair of black leather boots that would extend halfway up her calves, amounting to 8OP on their own. Everything else, consisting of a pair of stylish black shorts, a white leather belt, a red t-shirt, and a black hooded jacket, only amounted to 9 measly OP, providing functionally no defensive capabilities.

Though Vahn felt he would need to somehow secure a Heroic Spirit that could design ‘practical’ clothing for everyone’s use, Mordred didn’t seem to mind at all as she almost instantly threw off her smock as if it were a cage keeping her imprisoned. This immediately resulted in Artoria rising to her feet and frowning deeply as she said, “Mordred, have you already forgotten what your father told you? You should not undress in front of people, as it is very unladylike…” Though this was certainly true, Mordred looked up at Artoria with a skeptical expression on her face as she said, “But I have seen Chichiue dressing and bathing his other daughters. Why do they not have to act like ladies when our positions are the same…?”

Since she hadn’t seen Vahn’s memories, Artoria wasn’t entirely aware of how he had interacted with his other children. As a result, she looked toward him with a skeptical expression not all that different from Mordred’s, clearly wanting him to clarify matters. In response to this, Vahn nodded his head but clarified, “Back in my previous world, we had a policy of communal bathing as a family. This world is not the same as my previous one, Mordred. You must also remember that I placed your mother in charge of your care so, if she says not to undress like this in front of me, you should be a good girl and listen.” As he finished saying this, Vahn rose to his feet before pulling out a chair and turning his back to the girls so Mordred could change. She had just been standing there topless in nothing but her black spats and, while this didn’t really bother Vahn all that much, he will still defer to Artoria’s decisions when it came to raising Mordred.

Following up on what Vahn said, Artoria put on a stern expression as she said, “You are at a delicate age where you should be more considerate of such things. Regardless of what you had seen in your Father’s memories, the fact remains that this world and that world are two different places. Other than handmaidens and personal attendants, you should never allow anyone to see your naked body other than the man you intend to marry. You must protect your dignity and honor as a Lady or your status as a Princess will never be treated seriously by others.” Though she was giving her a lecture, Artoria was also helping Mordred wear her clothes as the latter still had a few difficulties in her current form. When she was finally dressed, she looked even more like a model for the clothes than the girl in the catalog, causing Mordred to laugh in a somewhat haughty manner as she looked at herself in the mirror.

Seeing that Mordred was happy, even if the clothing didn’t quite suit an Imperial Princess, Vahn tapped the catalogs and said, “Feel free to circle as many outfits from these catalogs as you like. So long as you don’t go overboard and ask for everything, I’ll make sure you have plenty of outfits to choose from. You’ll be in your growth phase for the next couple of years so don’t pick out too many things since they might not even fit you a few months from now. As for your equipment, I’ll be keeping track of your growth and making things that fit your body without causing any discomfort. Since you have only just been summoned, I’m not going to force you to start training any time soon but that will ultimately be up to your mother…”

In response to Vahn’s lead-in, Artoria gave a small nod before saying, “Most aspiring Knights would begin their apprenticeships as a Squire starting between ages seven and eight. Though Mordred has already gained experience on the battlefield, I believe her foundation had never been solidified since she lacked the same degree of training as most other Knights. She has a prodigious amount of talent and impeccable instincts, however, so I believe she will be ready to train once the Sub-Space Orb has been established. For the time being, I will have her focus on physical training and stretches so she does not injure herself while adapting to her reduced size and capabilities…”

Hearing that she would be going through basic training, Mordred had a deeply set frown on her face, at least until Vahn looked towards her and said, “Mordred, even if you are the Imperial Princess, I believe you have enough talent to be one of the most powerful Knight Commanders in our Empire in the future. Prove to me that you are capable of rising to the top and I will help you gain power that could even make the Gods tremble in your presence…” Since he knew Mordred had an almost intrinsic desire to reach the pinnacle of things, even if her true desire had only been for recognition, Vahn figured she would be highly motivated if he dangled a bit of bait in front of her nose.

Striking a pose with her chin raised slightly and both arms crossed, Mordred boldly declared, “Just you watch, Chichiue! I won’t just be ‘one’ of the most powerful Knight Commanders, I will become ‘the’ most powerful! Then, when I get near your level, I want you to teach me everything you know. I also want to fight against powerful monsters and enter that Dungeon you had conquered…!” With the image of Vahn fighting against foes like Heracles and the Mountain Dragon Achron now carved deeply into her mind, Mordred knew the power she had reached was incomparable to ‘true’ power. She knew that Vahn would be able to elevate her to heights that she may have never achieved on her own and then, once she knew the methods to grow even stronger, Mordred was determined to overtake him and become the Emperor he promised she could be if she made the effort…

Without intuiting that Mordred was already intended to ‘usurp’ his Throne in the future, Vahn gave an approving nod in response to her bold claim before stating, “So long as you do not become the type of person that victimizes others in the pursuit of power, I will take you across the Universe to explore distance galaxies if that is your wish. As my daughter, the only limits that exist are those you set upon yourself. However, because of this, you must also consider how your actions impact the world around you. Never become the type of person that is unable to empathize with others or, no matter how much effort you put into something, you will never reach your full potential…of course, even if you stray from the path a bit, your mother and I will both be here to guide you back…”

With his words finished, Vahn reached out his hand and began stroking Mordred’s head once again, this time without her trying to instinctually pull away. Though she didn’t truly understand everything he wanted her to take to heart, Mordred gave a large toothy grin in response to his words. Since she had two adorable little canines, one of her few differences from Artoria, Vahn’s own smile softened considerably as he bent down, surprising Mordred by giving her a firm embrace. She had actually never been hugged before so it made her feel giddy to suddenly be wrapped up by a pair of warm yet immovable arms. Then, sending her mind into a chaotic mess, Vahn held her head against his chest, lightly patting her back as he said, “Thank you for becoming my daughter…I am proud to have such an adorable little princess to call my own. From now on, if you ever have any doubts, never forget this one inviolable truth…your father loves you, Mordred…”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Paracelsus is a man of unwavering principle’,’Mordred’s Mixed Emotions’,’The words Mordred always longed for…spoken by someone else…yet still meaningful’) <-(p.atreon link)

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