Chapter 1121: Productivity

Due to the fact that Paracelsus spent most of his time outside of the Sub-Space Projection Orb, the only time Vahn ever saw the pacifistic Magus was when he directly went to visit. Since every second spent with Paracelsus was an investment of seven seconds, things had never developed to the point that Vahn could truly consider the man his friend. His ‘dream’ of having a guy friend he could just hang out with still seemed to be a far off goal as both Merlin and Astolfo had more than their fair share of quirks. As a result, Nobunaga could be considered his closest male companion yet, more often than not, that atmosphere would change between them toward the very end when she ended up getting ‘triggered’ and wanting a bit of affection…

Vahn currently found himself following behind Tristana as the latter led him up the Magus Tower she and Paracelsus had claimed for themselves. Along the way, they passed several rather stylish looking golems that had a glossy black sheen with accents of gold. Though they were far removed from the appearance of humans, it didn’t seem strange for them to be wandering the castle’s grounds as they went about the process of cleaning every nook and cranny with precision and focus humans simply couldn’t manage unless they somehow had an Innate related to ‘cleaning’. With Paracelsus creating upwards of twenty per day, so long as he had the requisite materials, there were already close to 150 stylish golems that had been ‘programmed’ to upkeep the castle.

After passing through a heavily enchanted wooded door, Vahn found himself inside the top of the tower, a room almost precisely 10m in diameter. Paracelsus was nowhere to be seen but, if you were to observe the corner of the room, you could see a mirror that was covered in runes. Instead of reflecting their image, however, Vahn could see the profile of a man with long black hair standing in front of a large tank of emerald green liquid as he periodically twitched, appearing to moving several times faster than normal, even as he performed casual movements. Since this was indeed the case, and Vahn had seen it before, he wasn’t all that surprised when Tristina walked through the mirror, sending ripples across its silvery surface as if it was more of a liquid than a solid.

Mirrors were one of the oldest ‘Magical Tools’ that had ever been created, making them one of the most ‘stable’ means of creating portals to link sub-spaces and other dimensions. Since even normal people believed that mirrors were somewhat mystical, to the point that it was common for children to play games with them, they were the first option when Merlin wanted to establish gateways between reality and the Sub-Space Projection Orb. Now, so long as it was inscribed with the proper sequence of runes, it was theoretically possible to access the Orb from anywhere on Avalon, so long as there was a matching mirror on the other side.

Following closely behind Tristana, feeling as though he was passing through a thin layer of ice, Vahn found himself in Paracelsus’ Atelier as the Alchemist turned to him and gave a polite bow, stating, “Welcome, Your Majesty. It is my honor to see you in good health.” Vahn gave him leave to raise his head with a hand gesture before looking at the three tanks that Paracelsus had lined up side-to-side. Currently, suspended within the very center of the tanks, there were microscopic sources of vitality that were wrapped up in a thin membrane of organic matter that was linked to several tubes at the base of the tank. The process for creating a Homunculus was very similar to gestating an actual human being, at least using the method that Paracelsus incorporated. It was easy to see why he would treat them as precious lives that deserved his full attention as, in more ways that one, Paracelsus was essentially the father of the developing Homunculi…

Seeing Vahn’s attention drawn to the tanks, Paracelsus had his usual smile on his face as he placed his palm against the center tank and explained, “They are still in a nascent and highly malleable state but they are already alive. Everything from their sex, appearance, and the structure of their Magic Circuits can still be decided but everything else is up to their fate. I hope these three will become my assistants so that I might ease Tristana’s burdens a little…” These words caused Tristana to avert her eyes with a light blush on her face as she muttered, “Idiot…” in a low voice. She had offered her own eggs as a catalyst, one of the reasons many Alchemists kept female assistants, so it wasn’t a stretch to say the three in the tanks were her children. Though she would have never seen them as such in the past, Paracelsus had been rubbing off on her in various ways…

Understanding that the two hadn’t just been focusing on their research during the previous two weeks, Vahn had a smile on his face as he stated, “If you need anything at all, just let me know and I’ll try and provide it.” Though the Homunculi were already going to be of a much higher quality than normal, as they would use [Philosopher’s Stone]s as their ‘core’, Vahn couldn’t deny that he was more than a little interested in helping out where he could. Since he even had an active Quest to create life himself, something that seemed surprisingly easy in the Nasuverse, he was intending to make Homunculi of his own in the future. This could make his life a little more complicated, as they would, in a way, be his own children, but Vahn was prepared to treat them well, even if they were born with a ‘purpose’. If he didn’t intend to make them for such things, it would be better to simply have actual children with the girls he was slowly but surely falling deeply in love with…

After listening to Paracelsus talk about the Homunculi for a little over an hour, Vahn gave him all the materials he would need to help them fully develop before returning back through the mirror. This trip and been very informative but had ultimately eaten up an additional six hours of his time, one of the few ‘troublesome’ things he would have to get used to when dealing with Paracelsus. Since the man didn’t care about his title of Count at all, it was impossible to pressure him with Vahn’s own status as an Emperor. People that were fully committed to their ideals, to the point they were fully willing to face death, were both commendable but extremely troublesome to deal with. This little trip had eaten into Vahn’s own relaxation time so, with a heavy heart, he made his way to the small room that housed his own Sub-Space Orb.

Even before Vahn entered inside, his eyes had already sharpened as, from the very moment his feet touched down in the empty white space, his training had begun. His focus reached a point where even the subtle fluctuations of mana couldn’t escape his perception. At the same time, his domain shrunk down to around 50m in diameter, the space within becoming compressed in a way that would make it extremely difficult for anyone but himself to move. As all this happened, a red shell, equivalent to a 22mm anti-tank round bore through his domain at close to ten times the speed of sound. This wasn’t too impressive a speed, meaning Vahn could easily dodge it, but that kind of mentality often ended badly for him in previous instances…

Instead of dodging, Vahn extended his palm outward and made a five-layer [Reflexio] magic barrier while, at the same time, analyzing the runes covering the surface of the projectile. By the time it slammed into his first barrier, Vahn knew it had penetrative properties so he twisted his body as the shell broke through all five layers with extreme ease. In the same motion, he grabbed the projectile out of the air before tossing it to the side, now inert since he had stripped away the runes that would have served as the trigger for a pyroclastic explosion. While the shell was still in mid-air, several more rounds had broken into his domain, this time having a variety of different colors, some going for him while two were obviously intended to strike the shell he had tossed aside.

Knowing it was a bad idea to stay in the area, Vahn blinked away with [Shundo] as several magical explosions rippled through the space he had previously occupied. Then, like an immaterial phantom, Vahn zig-zagged along the ground and through the air as he closed the distance between him and the distant Scáthach. She was using a massive rifle that was more than 3m in length from a distance of more than 10km away while supporting herself in mid-air with reddish-purple chains that came out of the void in a similar way to his [Enkidu]. Though she couldn’t copy his ‘Noble Phantasm’, she was capable of producing functionally anything through the use of her [Gae Bolg Alternative] and the [Wisdom of the Haunted Ground] skills. It might only have a rank between B+ and A, but that was more than enough when it was Scáthach using the weapon…

As Vahn drew closer to Scáthach’s location, his body instinctually tensed up as a massive array seemed to come into existence just as his foot touched down around 3km from her location. In less than a microsecond a 500m wide formation that had several massive [Primordial Runes] serving as the basis for its structure lit up with a blood-red light beneath him. Immediately following this, Vahn was smashed into the ground as the surrounding gravity increased by around three-hundred times in an instant. It felt as if each blood cell in his body became like a small boring laser as it ripped through his crumbling flesh and bones in an instant before spreading out across the ground. Then, punctuating the fact he had fallen for her trap, several shells rained down from the sky as the tore apart both Vahn and the massive formation without discriminating between the two…

With a multi-colored mushroom cloud in the distance, sending out several shockwaves that passed over her body without even causing her to flinch, Scáthach dismissed the large rifle she had been using before pulling out two hand sickles that were linked together by a red chain. They had nearly ten meters of slack between them, making it almost impossible for a normal person to use, but Scáthach just swiped with one sickle, causing the chain to seemingly levitate around her body as she threw the second one outward with enough force to cut through the air, leaving a red and black streak in its wake.

From the edge of the massive explosion, Vahn had burst out of the cloud of debris wearing nothing but a pair of ragged shorts and wielding two black gauntlets on his forearms. The sickle intercepted his rush just outside of its effective range but Vahn was able to deflect it to the side without much difficulty. This wasn’t the end of the attack, however, as there was already a small ripple passing along the length of the chain that made the sickle curve back, tracing an arc towards Vahn’s neck from behind. He had already seen through this attack, flipping forward to kick the sickle high in the sky as he pressed off the ground with both hands, twisting through the air as he attempted to kick Scáthach in the face. She almost casually stepped to the side, using the curved blade of the sickle to hook around the top of Vahn’s foot, cutting half of it off in the process. He outright didn’t react to this at all as, by the time his foot reached the ground to serve as a pivot, it had already regrown as he twisted his hips like a whip in an attempt to sweep Scáthach’s legs.

Jumping back just outside of Vahn’s range, Scáthach then stepped back in with the motion of his attack, planting her foot on the side of his leg and pressing her weight down in and attempt to snap it. Vahn flowed with the momentum of his own attack, changing the angle of his knee slightly so that Scáthach was stepping into the soft tissue instead of the side of the joint. This was answered by her stepping in and trying to cut his head off with her sickle but Vahn managed to push her back by sending black spikes out from his back, using his ability to change the shape and structure of his body as a weapon. Though he might not be able to upkeep his [Rakshasa Body] for very long in combat, there was almost nothing preventing him from changing his appearance to suit the situation since the only thing it required was an ‘image’.

As this wasn’t the first Vahn had changed form against her, Scáthach managed to step back with only one of the spikes lightly grazing her bodysuit. This was, in a way, a small victory for Vahn so, when she was done thrashing him, Scáthach would undoubtedly give him something like a lap pillow or tightly embrace him as he recovered. This was infinitely better than the punishments she would come up with so, even though Vahn was still perturbed by her behavior, he had come to appreciate her ‘gentle’ moments when he performed well. He knew this was her intention from the start, serving as a means to motivate him further, but that didn’t really alter his perception of the events all that much…

For the better part of ten hours, Vahn fought a futile but ultimately productive battles against Scáthach as he was inarguably more powerful now than when he first arrived in the Record. Not only had his Od increased to a value of 7,590, but his parameters had all increased marginally while his skills and magecraft were steadily improving. It felt like the day when he might actually be able to fight as equals against Scáthach wasn’t all that far away, even though he also couldn’t really imagine ever reaching that point. All he could do right now was enjoy the feeling of her cleaning his ears as he used her plump and warm thighs as a pillow. He had managed to singe her a bit with a close-range explosion so, combined with the small cut he had left on her bodysuit, Vahn had done ‘very well’ according to this peculiar Teacher of his. As a result, he was getting a bonus reward by having her comb through his hair with her hand while using a soft and flexible brush to clean the inside of his ears…

After spending about ten minutes cleaning both of his ears, Scáthach lightly tapped Vahn’s shoulder, causing him to almost immediately jump to his feet before she could unceremoniously toss him aside or drop his head against the ground. Following this, Scáthach rose to her own feet before lightly wiping her thighs as she said, “Keep working hard.” With that said, Scáthach vanished from the Sub-Space Orb without another word, leaving Vahn alone as Alaya came down to hover next to him. In the past, she had asked if he liked being beaten up by women and offered her ‘services’ in that regard, the very same incident that had resulted in his failure to use [Hands of Nirvana] against her. At the time, he had been tempted to tell her that he would have been happier if she reacted better but, knowing she would just be ‘pretending’, Vahn opted to remain silent…

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With Alaya now firmly latched onto his shoulder, Vahn left the Sub-Space Orb behind to enjoy his eight hours of relaxation. During his ‘day’ cycle, Vahn would spend around fifty hours training and forty hours either relaxing, playing with his daughter, or spending time with Illya. Since he had lost the opportunity earlier, Vahn made his way over to Mordred’s room as, according to the actual time, both she and Illya were likely sleeping. This didn’t really matter all that much, however, as Vahn had free access to their rooms, both as an Emperor and because they had given him permission.

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After traveling for a short while, Vahn opened the door to Mordred’s room, seeing her oversized bed and the little girl rubbing her eyes sleepily as she sat up to see who was entering her room. When she saw it was her father, Mordred knew that he had come to pick her up so her sleepiness had been dashed away in an instant as she crawled out of her bed and slipped into the same clothes she had been wearing before going to bed. She had a habit of sleeping naked so Vahn had turned his head until she had jumped on his back from behind and said, “Let’s go~!” in an excited voice. Though he was tempted to tell her to change into a cleaner set of clothes, disciplining Mordred was something expected of him only when she did something especially naughty. The rest of the time, it was Artoria who lectured and tried to correct her rather uncouth and unladylike mannerisms.

Carrying Mordred piggyback for a few meters, Vahn lightly knocked on the door located a little further down the hallway. It didn’t take long before Artoria opened the door, revealing her figure in a long and rather tame white nightgown, complete with blue ribbons. A light blush had already spread across her face, as Vahn was the only one who would knock on her door during resting hours, but it faded away quickly when she saw Mordred with him. Instead, Artoria gave an affectionate smile as she opened up the door and said, “Please, come in.” Vahn gave her a polite nod while Mordred laughed mischievously from his back. Matter’s between men and women weren’t remotely unfamiliar to her, even though she had never experienced them directly, so she understood that her mother essentially had cold water poured over her head. This made it feel like she had pulled a successful prank on her, something Mordred had been attempting rather often as of late…

Though she hadn’t minded Mordred’s laughter all that much, it still caused Artoria to scrutinize her a little more than she otherwise would have. She noticed that Mordred was wearing the same clothes as before she went to bed, causing Artoria’s face to sour as she ‘snatched’ the rambunctious girl kicking and screaming from Vahn’s shoulders. This wasn’t even remotely the first time such an event had happened, allowing Mordred to understand that the jig was up. She was dragged back to her room by Artoria for a good twenty minutes, likely receiving a lecture, before appearing back wearing a very familiar set of pajamas. Vahn couldn’t help but smile with a somewhat silly expression on his face as he mused, “What an adorable little tiger cub~.”

Ever since Nobunaga had made the comment about Artoria being a ‘tiger mom’, Vahn had given her the idea of punishing Mordred by having her wear a set of animal pajamas that made her look like a tiger. It even came with a hood that had two rounded ears and a long plush tail that drooped almost pathetically from the fabric around Mordred’s backside. She had a deeply set frown on her red face but, after being pushed forward by Artoria, Mordred crawled into bed before ‘pouncing’ on Vahn with an admittedly adorable ‘Rawr~!’ sound. The moment she was outside of her mother’s ‘domain’, Mordred seemed to transform into a playful child that wanted her father’s affection.

Seeing this, Artoria shook her head in mild exasperation before walking around to the side of the bed and crawling in alongside them. Vahn had made a habit of sleeping with the two of them if his own break coincided with the time they would normally be resting. This had brought the three of them much closer together as, after a bit of playing, Mordred sprawled out between them as Vahn and Artoria flanked her from the sides. Then, when she finally fell asleep, Vahn decided to tease Artoria a bit by mentioning, “I’d like to see what you like in tiger pajamas…seeing a tiger mom and her cub cuddling up might just cause my heart to explode…” This immediately caused Artoria’s face to turn red but, instead of refusing, she bashfully averted her eyes and muttered an almost silent yet affirmative ‘Nn…’.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Vahn is cursed to never have bros (T ^ T)…’,’Yes, I managed to barely nick her bodysuit! Progress…!’,’Tiger mom approves’)

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