Chapter 1117: Establishing A Foundation

Shortly after breakfast had come to an end, Vahn went towards the direction of the Knight’s training field after Merlin had confirmed that Artoria and Mordred were indeed there. It took a surprisingly long amount of time to reach his destination as, even by using one of the main access corridors that passed through the castle, there were various twists and turns that were supposed to make invasion more difficult. As a result, Vahn took nearly twenty minutes to reach the training field where he found Mordred and Artoria, both wearing rather plain clothes consisting of simple trousers and tunics, were fighting with reinforced wooden swords. Since they had already been going at it for nearly three hours, Mordred’s clothes were soaked through with sweat as she breathed laboriously while fending off the blows of an almost entirely unflustered Artoria.

With Vahn appearing in the periphery, Mordred briefly turned her eyes toward him, an act that got her rewarded with a sharp ‘thwack’ atop her head. Surprisingly, instead of dropping her sword and rubbing her head, Mordred adopted an aggressive pout before trying to step into Artoria’s guard and counterattack. Though she might have been able to pull this maneuver off in her unsealed state, Mordred’s instep and follow-up strike was met with empty air as Artoria spun around her body with the grace of a dancer before tapping her sword across Mordred’s backside. Once again, Mordred only pouted a little more as she twisted her body around, swinging wide before stepping back to create distance.

Now that there was a brief intermission in their exchange, Artoria gave a curt nod before lowering her sword. However, even when she placed it at her side, it was easy to tell that she hadn’t dropped her guard for even a moment. Mordred was perfectly aware of this as she slowly lowered her sword, taking a few steps back before rubbing her butt and complaining, “Hahaue…do you really have to tenderize my backside in front of Chichiue…?” All she got in response to this was a stern expression from Artoria before the latter said, “Your movements leave you wide open. I never said anything in the past, but your fighting style is too wild and unrestrained. Having your power sealed will allow you to strengthen your foundation from scratch. If you want to catch up to and surpass your father, you can’t take shortcuts.”

Though Mordred didn’t seem to agree with her mother, Vahn had seen into her past and knew she had never received any formal training. Morgan had made her fight and kill people only a few days after she had been born, forcing Mordred to cultivate her own style through bloodshed. Because of this, Vahn nodded his head in agreement with Artoria, adding, “Listen to your mother, Mordred. I’m one-hundred-and-fifty-six years old and am still building my foundation. It is pointless to focus on developing skills and abilities when you haven’t consolidated a strong foundation.” As he said this, Vahn walked over to Mordred’s side and began habitually stroking her head, following up by saying, “Work hard and I’ll take you flying through the sky later on…”

Hearing Vahn’s words, Mordred’s sour face turned into one of surprise and expectation as she asked, “Will you really take me flying!?” Though she could easily leap to the top of a high rise in a single bound, there was a big difference when it came to jumping high and flying through the sky. Since she had seen his memories, Mordred knew Vahn was more than capable of achieving flight. She actually wanted to have him teach her in the future but, fearing he would say no, she hadn’t even though to bring it up any time soon. Hearing him broach the subject himself, Mordred felt her frustrations melt away as she gave a toothy grin and enjoyed having her head pat.

Since he had every intention of making good on his promise, Vahn ruffled Mordred’s hair a bit as he said, “I will never make a promise to you that I don’t intend to keep, Mordred. If your mother gives her consent, we’ll both fly over the Kingdom to see how it looks from above…” As he had already been intending to map the area when he got the chance, Vahn figured it would be a good bonding experience if he took Mordred along with him. He wanted her to have more happy memories to try and mitigate some of the negative emotions she had buried deep within her heart. Fortunately, even though she had already experienced several terrible things in life, Mordred was still very young. So long as she had people to care for her, she would one day overcome her past and live the happy life she deserved…

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After sending Mordred off to wash up and eat breakfast, something she could handle on her own due to her familiarity with the castle, Vahn sat with Artoria and talked about Mordred’s past. He had intended to have Merlin share Mordred’s memories with Artoria but the airy Magus had told him it would be better if she simply heard an accounting instead of witnessing the events directly. The last thing Artoria needed right now was seeing someone elevate her to the status of a god before having her devotion turned into rage as a result of her mistakes as a King. As a result, Vahn gave a summary of events, leaving out some of the ‘darker’ details of Mordred’s past and making clear his intentions to summon Gareth at some point in the future…

Throughout the conversation, Artoria had remained silent with a contemplative expression on her face. She realized from his words that Mordred really did deserve a second chance as, from the very beginning, she had lived at the behest of another as nothing more than a pawn. Now that she lacked a title and a Kingdom to pass down to Mordred, the least she could do was be a good mother. Since Vahn had experienced Mordred’s memories directly, she had no doubt he would do his best to be a good father so Artoria was determined to do her best as well. Though she would still be rough with Mordred during their training, that was merely to make sure the girl was able to cultivate discipline, just like any other esquire that aspired to become a Knight…

When the conversation came to an end, Artoria’s first words to Vahn, said with a determined look, were, “Thank you for telling me…I will do my best. As for Gareth, there is no rush to call her into this world. Though I also grieved for her death, I believe it would be best for Mordred and Illya if you put off summoning her until later. You should talk with Nobunaga or Scáthach to see if they have any ideas on who you should summon. I’m certain the former had plenty of vassals under her command while Scáthach should ‘know’ exactly which Heroic Spirits would be able to aid our cause right now.” As enthused as she was to reunite with her niece, someone that had lost her life far too soon, Artoria had the distinct impression it was better to wait. She could only imagine what Gareth’s first thoughts would be after getting summoned to this world, especially when her last memory was having her head crushed by the person she respected the most.

As he had already expected Artoria to say something similar, Vahn had no qualms about waiting as, much like she had pointed out, there was no particular rush. When it came to pulling people from the past, there was no difference between summoning them now, or summoning them a thousand years in the future. To them, it would always take place ‘instantly’ so there was nothing wrong with letting Mordred and Illya stabilize before bringing another damaged girl into their midst. There was also his previous promise with Nobunaga as, during their discussions in the past, she had quite a few people she would like to reconnect with. She even wanted to try and reconcile with her younger brother, the traitorous Oda Nobukatsu. Though they had been forced to butt heads against each other due to the machinations of the Oda Clan Elder’s, Nobunaga had never resented him for falling prey to the ambitions of others…

After spending the better part of an hour just spending time with Artoria and enjoying the nice morning breeze together, Vahn eventually made his way towards an underground training area that had been brought to his attention by Merlin. He needed to create a Sub-Space Orb where everyone could train while, later on, Merlin had mentioned helping him create a ‘projection’ of Camelot within a secondary Sub-Space Orb. According to the errant Magus, it should be possible to link the spatial coordinates of a Sub-Space Orb to a fixed point in reality as it already drew from the mana in the surrounding environment. Since that same network was tied to the land itself, and everything atop it, Vahn had the option of ‘projecting’ all of Camelot into a Sub-Space Orb without having to build anything. This would make it as if the entire Island of Avalon was within the Sub-Space Orb, meaning everyone that came to reside here in the future would experience time at a rate of five-to-seven times the norm.

When Vahn had heard Merlin explain the principles behind what he had in mind, he was once again reminded that his own understanding of the world was extremely limited. Though he had a relatively decent understanding of a few Laws, people like Merlin and Scáthach were still leagues ahead of him in terms of comprehension. Fortunately, they both seemed more than willing to answer his questions and teach him anything he was interested in. Scáthach could even teach him [Alchemy] up to the A-Rank and knew the methods of producing various types of homunculi that even Paracelsus couldn’t emulate. This didn’t necessarily make her methods better, as Paracelsus was still in a league of his own, but it was still infinitely better than Vahn’s current understanding of such things…

Knowing he would need to study hard in the future, Vahn needed to develop the two Sub-Space Orbs and a few Space-Time Orbs just to manage everything he needed to take care of. He was even considering making an avatar relatively soon but, remembering how ‘chaotic’ his life had gotten previously, Vahn was hesitant to jump the gun on that idea. It was more ‘efficient’ to create memory fragments that could work on the production of items and research things on his behalf. As for his ‘avatars’, Vahn had two crystal cores that would allow him to reform his body if he was unexpectedly defeated by an enemy. He had reluctantly entrusted one to Scáthach, as she simply didn’t seem to have any weaknesses at all, while the other had been left behind in the Welsh Dragon’s cavern so that he could keep an eye on the system and its constituent magic formation at all times…

While thinking of Scáthach, Vahn’s mind wandered a bit as he found himself surrounded by an all-encompassing warmth that sent a shiver up his spine. He quickly ‘cut’ the connection by having his subprocess mind enter into a deep meditative state while, on his shoulder, Alaya tilted her head in confusion at his unexpected reaction. She knew that Vahn had ‘adapted’ to her presence at this point, something that should have been impossible, so she wondered what had happened to make his body suddenly heat up while his brain produced a small amount of dopamine in response. If she could find out what he was thinking about, Alaya believed she might be able to collect more data in the near future.

Though she was still trying to analyze his blood, without any real progress, that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to analyze his other bodily fluids as well. She had already separated his red and white blood cells and absorbed a bit of his sweat through her skin in an effort to better understand his composition and makeup. Now, she just needed a sample of ‘everything’ else that constituted Vahn’s body. She had tried to collect samples when he was fighting against Scáthach but, as if he knew she was trying to take them, Vahn’s biomass would simply ‘vanish’ moments later. Even isolating it within the time axis had proved futile so Alaya could only wait for him to give her samples ‘willingly’…

Since he needed to focus and replenish his reserves quickly, Vahn picked Alaya up by her scruff and said, “You can watch from the side for now. If you think there are any ways in which the formation could be improved, let me know…” Though he was tempted to just have Alaya make the formation for him, Vahn knew he was developing a strange dependency on her as of late. To avoid becoming complacent and lazy, one of the things he had decided upon after setting OP limits was to be less reliant on Alaya. He would rather she just stockpile Magical Energy to keep Rin, Sakura, and Gray safe while he focused on managing the affairs of the Empire. At least this way, if he desperately needed her to take action, Alaya would have plentiful reserves to help on the spot.

Without arguing, Alaya just floated into the air before adopting a form that made Vahn’s brows twitch madly since she looked like a mature form of Illya, just marginally taller and with a plump butt and thick thighs. Her breasts were relatively small, giving her an almost unbalanced look, but the large ears and the fluffy tail sticking out of her backside fixed this incongruity. Though he knew she was observing and analyzing everything he did, Vahn always felt a little annoyed when Alaya took the form of whatever she thought his ‘preferences’ reflected. She certainly looked cute, while he was actually tempted to give her butt a feel, but Vahn still felt more annoyed than anything else since he had work to focus on and didn’t need distractions…

Deciding to ignore her, Vahn began the long process of setting up a formation to sustain the Sub-Space Orb that people would use for training in the future. Without his notice, Merlin had also appeared within the area shortly after he started, watching with his soft-purple eyes as Vahn spent several hours just building the formation’s basic structure. Fortunately, as the land and air within this isolated space had more than twenty times the mana density of Fuyuki, Vahn didn’t even need to set up Elemental Pillars. Since Avalon was linked to the ‘True Avalon’ on the Reverse Side of the World, it had a mana density that wasn’t all that dissimilar to the levels present during the Age of Gods, albeit with significantly less Mystery.

After a little more than seven hours, during which time even Scáthach had shown up to observe, Vahn finally finished setting up a Sub-Space Orb with a time dilation of 6:1. It turned out that, while the abundance of mana made setting up the formation easier, the lack of Elemental Pillars, which were meant to stabilize the Orb, made the time dilation slightly weaker than intended. It was still better than nothing so Vahn would leave it as is and just consider it a lesson learned for when he worked on the main Sub-Space Orb with Merlin’s assistance. With that in mind, he turned his attention toward the two peculiar individuals who, at present, were sitting at a low table and drinking tea as they watched him work in silence.

Seeing that Vahn was finally paying attention to them, Merlin returned a smile before commenting, “This is some impressive work. Though it is unlike anything I have seen before, it uses the logic of this world splendidly to create something rather unique…my, I believe you may actually have more of a talent for Magecraft than combat arts. What do you think, Lady Scáthach~?”

Without humoring Merlin at all, Scáthach shook her head and stated, “Vahn’s control makes no sense. Though he is obviously very skilled, I can sense that most of the energy he is manifested is lost. He is far more proficient at using his power internally so I will continue to help him master his body to cover up for his inability to properly use magic.” Even if she couldn’t see Vahn’s future, Scáthach’s understanding of his body and capabilities made it so that he had almost no secrets from her, similar to how Vahn could touch someone’s body and understand its structure in an instant. She could sense great power manifested whenever he was drawing the magic formation but, seeing the formation itself, it was nothing exceptional. This meant he was ‘wasting’ his energy but, as she wasn’t able to understand what was going on, Scáthach could only say it didn’t make any sense…

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Scratching the back of his head, Vahn ignored Merlin’s laughter and simply stated, “We’ll begin our training after I finish developing the second Sub-Space Orb tomorrow. I already promised my daughter to take her flying around the castle so that I can map the area. After that, I’ll be spending some time with Illya before retiring to my room for the evening.” Since he assumed Scáthach had arrived to drag him off for training, Vahn wanted to make it clear he already had plans. She didn’t ‘require’ him to give her energy any longer, courtesy of the crystal she had planted within her body, so Vahn knew she wasn’t here to go through that troublesome ritual.

With an understanding nod, Scáthach turned her back and began moving to exit the underground chamber, though not before saying, “Our training will be more intense in the future.” Since he had been ‘slacking off’ a lot lately, Vahn wasn’t all that surprised by her rather cold words. All he could do was withhold a tired sigh as, unless he outright refused to train with her in the future, there was no way to avoid a thrashing. She would always make good on her promises so Vahn was fully expecting their next training session to be another living nightmare. On the plus side, he was improving quickly and, even if he had to face an enemy that could rend him to pieces in an instant, no amount of pain could cause him to flinch after experiencing her training…

When Scáthach had left the room, Merlin gave a somewhat teasing smile as he remarked, “My, you certainly have a way with women, Majesty…” This earned him a glare but, instead of trying to get even, Vahn simply asked, “So, do you still think it is possible to create a projection?” In response to this, Merlin gave a simple nod before explaining, “If we tie the Sub-Space Orb into the formation that keeps Avalon isolated from the rest of the world, it should be possible to create a projection without issue. This might alert some of the more perceptive individuals in the world but they aren’t the type to take action without properly understanding the situation. Even then, they will not be able to find Avalon so easily…there is a reason it has been able to remain hidden for more than fifteen hundred years, ohohoho~.”

Vahn knew it was only a matter of time before their enemies eventually learned about the existence of Avalon, as they were less than five-hundred kilometers away from the very ‘heart’ of the Magus Community, so he wasn’t surprised by Merlin’s words. He wouldn’t be surprised if his enemies had already sensed their movements when Merlin had used his restoration magic to practically reverse time for the entire castle, large-scale magic that would be ‘impossible’ with modern Magecraft. At the same time, however, magic of this scale would serve as a powerful deterrent as there were few who would simply throw themselves unprepared against a Magus that could wield such power without caring about how their actions could upset the other powerhouses in the world…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘A Tiger Mom and a ‘Petting Demon’ for parents…’,’Alaya never gives up’,’The deterrent of power…’)

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