Chapter 1116: Tensions : Alliance

Located only 434km away from the isolated Island of Avalon was the City of London, a city with a long and proud history that could be seen in everything from the layout of its streets to the design of its buildings. Though it had not fallen behind in the times, even many of the newer buildings were designed to emulate older styles of architecture to make the entire city appear as a marvel that had withstood the test of time. Millions of people would flock to London every year and, even though the air was thick with the lingering miasma of pollution, much like all modern cities, there was always a sense of awe and wonder that washed over anyone who visited. However, this was only the city as it appeared on the ‘surface’ as, deep beneath the surface of the earth, located directly beneath an aged museum, a world of mysticism, wonder, and darkness existed just outside the view of common men and women…

The Clock Tower was one of the three principal branches of the Mage’s Association and, for several hundred years now, had served as the very ‘heart’ of the Magus Community. Its history spanned back more than two-thousand years, coinciding with the establishment of London itself, back when it was merely called Londinium by the Romans. Though it had originally been founded as nothing more than an institution for philosophy, astrology, and alchemy, the progression of time had turned it into an organization that dabbled in the fields of all ancient and modern thaumaturgy. As a result, it had several different departments within, the most prominent being, General Fundamentals, Individual Fundamentals, Evocation, Mineralogy, Lore, Zoology, Botany, Astrology, Creation, Curses, Archeology, Alchemy, Law, and Lord El-Melloi II’s department, the Faculty of Modern Magecraft Theory.

Though the largest number of students belonged tot he General and Individual Fundamentals, as it was required for all prospective Magi to attend, at least, five years worth of classes, the Faculty of Modern Magecraft Theory had grown exponentially since the time Lord El-Melloi II had taken up the position of Department Head more than seventeen years prior. He had only been twenty-two at the time but, due to his steadfast nature and handsome appearance, enough to have him labeled as the fourth most handsome member of the Clock Tower that girls wanted to date, Lord El-Melloi II had raised up the almost destitute department to one of the more influential branches. Since he did not discriminate against any student, something that was a very serious issue in the Clock Tower, the number of prospective students had only increased as the years passed, making Lord El-Melloi II the ‘hero’ of the commoners while many within the Aristocratic Faction, one of the three major factions of the Clock Tower, greatly resented him.

Even though there were thirteen primary departments within the Clock Tower, accounting for more than twenty-thousand students, the vast majority, between 15-16,000, belonged to one of the three major factions. The smallest number, while possessing the greatest amount of power and authority, belonged to the Aristocratic Faction headed by the Barthomeloi family. Only members from affluent Magus families and those that had pledged loyalty to them were able to consider themselves a part of this faction. As for the other two, having a near-even split between them, they were the Neutral faction, wanting nothing more than to focus on the advancement of Magecraft, and the Democratic Faction, trying to impose more equitable regulations in order to seize power from the Aristocratic faction and make the lives of all students easier…

As much as he was loathed to admit it, Lord El-Melloi II belonged to the Aristocratic faction by default after being granted the title of his younger-sister-turned-wife, Reines El-Melloi Archisorte, forced it upon him seventeen years prior. Though he was only supposed to have the title of Lord until she became an adult, as she was only six years old at the time, Lord El-Melloi II had been made to officially marry into the family to hold the title of Lord while she tended to matters behind the scenes. As he had never been able to go against the younger sister who had ‘adopted’ him into her family through somewhat forceful means, Lord El-Melloi II could only continue to do his best to live according to his ideals, even if he didn’t always agree with the methods…

Now, after returning from Japan, before he could even be brought to trail by the Mage’s Association, Waver found himself wearing nothing but his boxers as she was tied to a wooden chair. In front of him, looking particularly non-plussed, was a beautiful woman with long blonde hair that extended past her waist and icy blue eyes that could even make a Basilisk turn away in fear. She was currently wearing a dark blue cocktail dress, complete with a flower ornament on the sides, while holding a riding whip in her hands. Using her left foot, covered with black hose that ran up the length of her long legs, she pressed into the area of Lord El-Melloi II’s groin while asking, “Tell me, dear brother, why are you so determined to ruin our family…?”

Doing his best to maintain a calm expression, Lord El-Melloi II matched Reines’ gaze as he answered, “It was not my intention for things to take such a strange turn. I could not have predicted the arrival of a foreign power from another world. At least we were able to complete our objective and destroy the Greater Grail…” Though he knew these weren’t the words she wanted to hear, Lord El-Melloi II could only speak the truth of the matter. Vahn had ‘literally’ come out of nowhere but, with how things played out, he felt things would have been even worse if Vahn hadn’t shown up. Not only would they have lost Gray, but the odds of them destroying the Greater Grail with forces like Gilgamesh and the Holy Church at play were infinitely close to zero.

Hearing her husband’s words, Reines’ expression turned even frostier as she lightly whipped the inside of his thigh, causing a loud smacking sound to resonate through the dark room. Since Lord El-Melloi II was used to this kind of treatment, he just flinched slightly without uttering so much as a simple grunt. As a result, Reines whipped him a little harder before saying, “That crazy woman won’t let this matter rest so easily. You are lucky that man, Vahn Mason, was it? If he hadn’t handed over pieces of the Greater Grail, we would have no leverage against our enemies…haaa…You were supposed to have used the Greater Grail to wish for prosperity for our family before destroying it. Now I have to clean up another one of your messes…” As she said this last line, Reines put more pressure into her heel, this time causing Lord El-Melloi II to grit his teeth as his left eye twitched.

Seeing his reaction, Reines had a visibly sadistic smile on her face as she continued increasing the pressure until, against his will, Lord El-Melloi II began to ‘react’ in the way she desired. This caused him to release a heavy sigh, momentarily ignoring the pain as Reines’ expression became a little strange. She then removed her feet, asking, “What has it been, seven, eight months~? I might listen to your excuses if you can serve me well. I think Ridley could use a younger sibling…ufufufu…” With that said, Reines kicked over the chair, causing Lord El-Melloi II to crash against the floor rather hard before she cut the ropes around his hands and legs using a knife given to her by a maid. After that, Reines spent a few hours tormenting her husband, enjoying herself to the fullest in an attempt to ease her own frustrations over the fallout his actions would cause for their family…

Unlike the ‘peculiar’ atmosphere at the El-Melloi estate, things were relatively peaceful only a few kilometers away at a massive mansion that made even the surrounding estates and manors seem small by comparison. This was none other than the primary residence of the Edelfelt family, looking more like a palace than a standard mansion with its highly embellished and ornate appearance. Even though they were a relatively young aristocratic family, only dating back to the mid-late Renaissance Period, they were one of the most famous in recent history. This was largely due to the fact that they made their fortunes as an aristocratic family of mercenaries that had traveled all throughout the world, intervening in conflicts entirely unrelated to them to secure wealth and power for their descendants. As a result, they were considered the ‘most elegant hyenas above the ground’ by the Magus Community, a barb they wore with pride as they unhesitantly threw themselves into conflicts even to this day.

The current head of the Edelfelt family, Luviagelita Edelfelt, was considered the most prodigious descendant of the family in the last hundred years. Not only had she taken the reins from her father at the young age of seventeen, but she had considerably increased their wealth since then through smart investing and securing several mines, many containing precious ore and considerably more precious gemstones. If not for the fact that many Magus families hid their wealth from the public, her endeavors would have easily put her into the upper echelons of the fortune-five hundred, grossing nearly 152 billion Pound sterlings per year. With her family also possessing its own military and engineer forces, they were one of the most powerful Magus families in the entire world. Though their ‘prestige’ was a bit lower than some, even the older landed Nobles weren’t able to make too big a fuss for fear of bringing the Edelfelt families economic and military might down upon themselves.

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Currently, rather than a highly capable Magus who was the bane of other aristocrats the world over, Luvia looked rather foolish as she tightly squeezed Sakura’s body, squealing like a schoolgirl who had just found an adorable puppy. She had already heard about the situation from Rin and, though they were considered ‘rivals’, Luvia was one of her most powerful and reliable allies. Though there was little that she enjoyed more than ‘affectionately’ tormenting Rin, she wasn’t going to try and expose one of the few actual friends she had. As a result, Luvia happily accepted Sakura into her home and, after witnessing the adorable little girl, snatched her up with stars in her eyes as she explained, “Don’t worry, little Sakura. Big sister Luvia will take good care of you until your mommy has finished her business~.”

With a polite yet awkward smile on her face, Sakura tried to avoid being bured in Luvia’s chest as she answered, “Thank you, Aunty Luvia…” This word caused Luvia to instantly tense up as she looked over at the snickering Rin before staring down at Sakura, smiling radiantly as she said, “My, my, your big sister is too young to be called an aunty. Don’t let your mother go planting strange ideas into your head, okay~?” Though she had a smile on her face, it didn’t quite reach Luvia’s eyes as she continued to hug Sakura. This caused the young girl to fluster a bit but, fortunately, Rin stepped in to provide assistance, saying, “It’s okay, Sakura-chan. Even if it is a little sad to see an adult bully a child, you can call Luvia Onee-chan if she wants to insist upon it…”

Hearing Rin’s remark, the vein on Luvia’s temple began to pulse a bit as she let go of Sakura’s body and asked, “Oh my…it seems my dear Rin has grown overconfident since we let met…I wonder if a certain someone had anything to do with this~?” Since Rin had kept mum regarding most of the matters surrounding Vahn, Luvia was still highly interested in the man from another world. The fact he had ended the Holy Grail War in record time, even with a few ridiculously powerful forces showing up, only increased her intrigue in him. She also gave him the credit for Rin’s sudden spike in power as, for the last decade or so, the majority of their battles had always ended as a draw or in her favor…

Clicking her tongue in response to Luvia’s question, Rin then muttered under her breath, “Don’t go converting other’s men just because you scare off all your suitors…” Though this mark actually made Rin’s face heat up a bit, as she realized she was taking ‘ownership’ of Vahn again, Luvia’s expression had turned rather serious as a result. As the Head of the Edelfelt family, it was actually becoming an increasingly larger problem that she hadn’t found a husband and produced an heir. Though she was only twenty-seven years old, marrying at this point was considered ‘late’ in high-society, especially for the Head of a Magus family. However, as she didn’t want to treat her own marriage as a political tool, especially just to establish ties with a family that they would have otherwise been enemies with, Luvia had brutally beaten nearly all of her would-be suitors. If they couldn’t even defeat her in battle, she wouldn’t even give them the time of day, much less her hand in marriage. She didn’t want a pet husband just to produce an heir as, much like the previous Heads of the Edelfelt family, she chose her partner almost entirely based on strength, not status.

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Crossing her arms, Luvia continued to stare back at Rin as she ordered, “Please show Sakura to the room she will be staying in. As she is an important guest, make sure there are at least two attendants to care for her at all times.” In response to her command, several well-dressed maids and a butler quickly alighted Sakura to her room, shepherding the young and confused girl away as sparks began to collide between Rin’s and Luvia’s gazes. Once Sakura was out of the room, Luvia plainly asked, “Is he really ‘just’ your man?” in a tone that didn’t leave room for falsehoods. This question caused Rin to immediately frown as, even if she wanted to insist that was the case, it was so far removed from the truth that she actually felt guilty trying to take ownership of Vahn…

Even without Rin answering directly, Luvia could tell from her reaction that her intuition was correct. As a result, she shook her head before saying, “I knew it…there is undoubtedly something going on between the two of you, but I could tell he was serious when he claimed to be an Emperor. He didn’t seem like the type of man that would dedicate himself to just one woman, or else I wouldn’t have even bothered trying to get in his good books. Tell me, how many girls is he involved with now…?” Since she had known Rin for nearly twenty years, Luvia could understand from her facial expression that there ‘had’ to be more women around Vahn.

Releasing a tired and annoyed sigh, Rin ultimately answered, “I don’t know for certain…probably seven or eight at this point…” Since she knew that Vahn was intending to summon more Heroic Spirits, Rin fully expected that their reunion was going to be a little difficult for her. However, she had already made up her mind and, with Ereshkigal and Ishtar both having chosen Vahn, their fate was now tied together. At the very least, she knew he would take good care of Sakura and, even if their relationship was a little awkward, Vahn made her feel like ‘wanted’ in ways she had never thought possible when they were alone together…

As if she fully expected such an answer, Luvia nodded her head several times in affirmation before saying, “Good. The Edelfelts have always looked for the best possible candidate to produce the next generation of heirs. Besides, I imagine his status as an Emperor isn’t something he is simply going to give up just because he came to a new world. If he needs an Empress on his arms, I imagine I am more than qualified for the position, wouldn’t you say…?” With the wealth of her family, combined with the apparent might possessed by Vahn, Luvia felt like it wouldn’t be remiss for him to claim himself an Emperor in the modern world. It certainly would upset a lot of the other families but, based on how Vahn had treated her when she stepped out of line, Luvia knew he was bound to upset the balance at some point. It was merely a matter of when it would happen, never if.

Rubbing her head to ease her oncoming headache, Rin answered, “I don’t think anyone could be his Empress other than that girl named Fenrir. Even Artoria has just become a simple Knight for him and I don’t think you can claim your own pedigree is higher than the principal Royal Line of Britain. Since he has people like Merlin and Paracelsus on his side, the best status you can hope for is an Imperial Consort or a Concubine…” Though the last word was intended as an insult, Luvia didn’t seem to mind at all as she raised her brow and asked, “Oh? You’re not going to tell me to give up? You really have changed, Rin…” Since this wouldn’t have been the first man they fought over, Luvia was somewhat surprised by how much Rin had changed in only a few month’s time. This improved her impression of Vahn a great deal as, someone who could tame a woman as ‘wild’ as Rin wasn’t normal in the least…

Understanding the futility of trying to prevent Luvia from pursuing Vahn, as the literal fate of the world was on the line, Rin shook her head and answered, “I am just grateful that he is willing to be Sakura’s father and take care of her. I understand that he will never have just one woman as my own body contains three…there is a lot we need to talk about, Luvia. If you still want to pursue Vahn after hearing what I have to say, I have no right to stand in between the two of you…just promise you will not make things difficult for Sakura. I know something terrible must have happened for Vahn to have gone to such lengths but I’m afraid to ask him the details…please, don’t ruin that girl’s happiness.” As she believed her understanding of Vahn wasn’t bad, Rin had known from the very moment that Vahn refused to let her fight Sakura that ‘something’ was wrong. The fact the Matou Residence and Makiri Family were destroyed in the same night just cemented the idea that he was keeping a secret from her. However, knowing the type of man he was, Rin believed he had done what he thought was best for both her and Sakura. Now, she had a debt toward him that she could never repay so if she could ease his own burdens by pretending to be ignorant, that was the least she could do…

Seeing how deeply Rin cared for Sakura, Luvia’s expression became serious once again as she said, “I do not know what happened, and I won’t ask for the details. Since we may both end up in a similar position in the future, I will treat Sakura as my own daughter. So long as you are in London, there isn’t a force within the Mage’s Association that would be able to harm a hair on her head. Since you are supporting me, even indirectly, you can expect that I won’t let my future ‘family’ be brought low by the schemes and machinations of a few arrogant fools. When you go to trial, the Edelfelt family will not make its support of your cause unknown…” Though she had always intended to help Rin, as this was part of their plan from the start, Luvia had even more motivation to do so now. She could tell there was something pretty serious going on behind the scenes as, even if Vahn was an Emperor, Luvia couldn’t see Rin bending the knee so easily unless there was something bigger than her going on. She had the type of personality that, when many lives were at stake, Rin would almost always put herself in the line of fire to try and help, one of the things Luvia genuinely respected about her.

Managing an awkward smile, Rin nodded her head and said, “We need to have a long talk…but first, how about a spar?” Since she had a pretty strong urge to punch Luvia, even though she was actually grateful for the latter’s help, Rin wasn’t shy about using her increased power to bully her rival. This didn’t seem to intimidate Luvia at all, however, as she raised her head in a haughty manner and asked, “Oooh~? Do you truly believe things will always go your way? Very well, my dear Rin, allow me to show you that you aren’t the only one who can get a sudden power-up…!” With that said, the atmosphere between the two girls became somewhat chaotic once again as they both alighted to a nearby training room, a rather common sight within the Edelfelt household, to begin their 571st battle…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘RIP Lord El-Melloi II…’,’The Edelfelt’s have no chill xD…’,’Eternal Rivals make the most reliable ‘friends’…’)

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