Chapter 1125: Existential

Though she had never doubted Vahn would be able to pull it off, it was a bit surreal for Nobunaga to see the unconscious Kenshin sleeping before her. She wasn’t even a Heroic Spirit, but the actual flesh and blood person that she had known well over a hundred years prior. The fact Vahn was able to pull people through time to have them exist in the present was something so far beyond her ability to grasp that Nobunaga felt like she was in a long and extended dream. He had grown so far beyond the man that had summoned her only a few months prior and, while he may be weaker than he was back in his previous world, Nobunaga knew Vahn’s current strength would have a far more powerful foundation than before. Since she didn’t change, while he kept moving forward, Nobunaga felt like she was slowly being left behind, even though she was supposed to have been the Heroic Spirit with the highest compatibility with him…

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For different reasons that Vahn might expect, Nobunaga crawled into bed next to Kenshin before poking her sleeping face. This caused her favorite ‘idiot’ to make a small pouting expression but, as the memory link wasn’t something that could be broken so easily, she ultimately remained sleeping. Nobunaga was actually tempted to tease her a bit but, as this could unnecessarily complicate things, she kept her hands mostly to herself. Currently, the thing that weighed most heavily on her mind was whether or not she should convince Vahn to summon her ‘real’ self. She knew about his memory fragments so, if she made a copy of her current self before he summoned her main body, Nobunaga knew she would be able to at least preserve her current memories and experiences. Like this, she would be able to increase her strength once more instead of just sitting around all day and having Vahn worry about her…

When Vahn had asked her who to summon, Nobunaga had very seriously considered mentioning her own name. The only thing that stopped her was that, without having Vahn use Nirvana Rebirth or wasting treasures on her, she was already past her prime. She had given birth to several children and hadn’t taken the best care of her body during her later years. To suddenly be flesh and blood again, while relying on Vahn just to live until their battle against Angra Mainyu, scared her more than just a little. It seemed unnatural and, though he might not mind it, Nobunaga was worried she wouldn’t be worth all of Vahn’s efforts. There was also her deeply rooted fear that, if he summoned her real body, Nobunaga didn’t think she would be able to keep her pretense much longer. If she couldn’t serve at Vahn’s side herself, she sometimes thought it wouldn’t be all that bad if she bore him a son or a daughter to fight in her stead…she had seen how well he treated Mordred and, though she never thought it possible, Nobunaga was seriously considering just being a housewife…

The main reason Nobunaga ultimately decided upon Kenshin is because she wanted to see how someone she had treated as her equal would get along with Vahn. She felt that, if Kenshin was able to overcome her own inhibitions then she might be able to do the same. If she had someone she knew to share the ‘burden’ with, Nobunaga felt she would be able to tolerate such an existence. She honestly hadn’t been the best mother to her other children and, now that she had an isolated space like the Sub-Space Projection Orb, it felt like she had all the time in the world to do better. This was why she hadn’t summoned any of her own children or family as, depending on how things develop, Nobunaga knew she may be starting a new one in the present…

While thinking about the future, Nobunaga continued to poke Kenshin’s cheek as she muttered, “Sorry, Ken-chan…I need you to take the fall with me this time around. You might laugh at me if I told you the truth, but I’m too afraid to go alone…” Though she said it in this manner, one of the things that also scared Nobunaga a bit was ‘disappearing’ as her present self. Even if her memories were preserved and passed on to her real self, it felt like she was standing at the precipice of a cliff, contemplating taking her own life. It wasn’t impossible for her to just exist alongside her real self but, just thinking about such a thing made Nobunaga feel a bit of an existential crisis since she wouldn’t be the ‘real’ her, just a copy that refused to return to wherever she had been prior to Vahn calling her…

Laying down next to Kenshin, Nobunaga used her fingers to move aside some of her former rival’s peculiar hair as she muttered, “This isn’t like me…that damn brat has messed me up…haaaa…” Then, confident it would take a few hours for Kenshin to awaken, Nobunaga cuddled up next to her to share warmth. She had suddenly started to feel very cold and, though Vahn would undoubtedly be willing to stay at her side, Nobunaga didn’t want him to see her like this. He always seemed to be worrying about her, even though she told herself she wasn’t a frail woman than needed a man to comfort her heart. However, at least for the moment, Nobunaga felt like she could show her frailty as she rested her head against Kenshin’s shoulder and released a single tear from her closed eyes…

After experiencing a sequence of memories that made her own experiences seem inconsequential by comparison, Kenshin opened her eyelids to reveal a pair of faded gold irises. Immediately following this, she looked to her left and saw the sleeping face of Nobunaga, someone she had seen within the memories but hadn’t expected to be right next to her when she woke up. Strangely, instead of the confident woman she had been campaigning against in her final moments, this Nobunaga gave off a vibe that utterly lacked the aura of a conquerer. Since she knew that Nobunaga had requested her by name, Kenshin felt like this former rival of her’s was going through a few things she couldn’t even begin to understand…

Deciding it was best to just trust her intuition, as it had never let her down before, Kenshin just rolled to the side and loosely hugged Nobunaga’s body. This immediately caused the latter to wake up, blood-red eyes coming into focus to gaze back at her. At the same time, a bit of Nobunaga’s aura came back, bringing a smile to Kenshin’s face as she teased, “I never expected Nobunaga-dono to think so highly of me…you won’t even let me rest after I already died?” Though she knew this might not end well for her, Kenshin felt that teasing Nobunaga was the fastest way to get her to return to ‘normal’. Other than Takeda Shingen, Nobunaga was one of the few people she genuinely respected so it made Kenshin feel a strange incongruity to see her lacking her usual demeanor.

In response to Kenshin’s words, Nobunaga gave a sly smile before licking her lips and saying, “Oh…I simply couldn’t imagine life without my precious Ken-chan. Come, let Big Sis see how much you have grown in our time apart…” Since Kenshin was only wearing a kimono, it took next to no effort for Nobunaga to slip her hand through the gap in the fabric. This caused Kenshin to squeeze her thighs together as she complained, “Nobunaga-dono, this isn’t the time or the place…” The only thing this remark got her, however, was Nobunaga lightly biting her collarbone as she pinned down Kenshin’s left wrist. At the same time, her left hand had already found its prize, causing Kenshin’s hips to twitch and writhe in response…

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With their roles now reversed, Nobunaga laid back with her arms behind her head as Kenshin curled up at her side, releasing hot breaths that tickled her neck. Though Kenshin may be peerless in battle, she was very ‘weak’ when it came to both alcohol and nightly activities. It didn’t take much effort to lead her around like a lost puppy, a gap that Nobunaga had enjoyed greatly the night they shared together in her previous life. Since she could never defeat Kenshin through ‘normal’ means, it gave her a feeling of accomplishment to have the powerful warrior panting her name and begging for forgiveness. Though she knew that Kenshin had actually been ‘asking’ for it this time around, it didn’t change the fact that Nobunaga felt a lot better after the deed had been done…

After calming down a bit, Kenshin raised her head from Nobunaga’s shoulder, complaining, “I never thought my afterlife would be as the Demon King’s plaything…muuu…” In response to this remark, Nobunaga sat up next to Kenshin, a teasing smile on her face as she asked, “Are you upset it isn’t your precious Bishamonten~? I’m certain that man could pull it off if you think she would be a good ally to have…” Though she wasn’t entirely sure how the summoning system worked, Nobunaga felt like it wasn’t beyond Vahn’s means to summon even the gods. They would undoubtedly bring more than a few problems with them but, at the very least, there were very few Heroic Spirits that would be able to contend against actual Deities.

Since she had also seen Vahn’s memories, Kenshin didn’t doubt there was a grain of truth contained within Nobunaga’s words. However, as she loosely understood what her own future held, she didn’t want her Goddess getting wrapped up in things. After all, though she had never married in her past life, it was one of the regrets that Kenshin had towards the very end. Since most of her actual family had been killed during her short forty-nine years, she almost felt compelled to have children in the present era. She currently had no battlefields to run to, nor any diseases wracking her body, so it didn’t seem like a bad time to bear the child of an Emperor. Then, when Angra Mainyu appeared in the world, she would no longer have any regrets remaining. This time around, she was determined to meet her end as a warrior, not as a frail woman on her sickbed…

In response to Nobunaga’s teasing remark, Kenshin shook her head before showing an expression filled with conviction as she said, “I would dishonor my Goddess by having her come to fight battles in my stead. Even if I must face a hail of bullets and an infinite tide of Demons, I will fight my own battles. Since His Majesty saw fit to call me into the present, I will do my best as his vassal…” Though she knew there was a chance she would be more than a simple vassal, Kenshin didn’t want to say anything presumptuous about her Lord. From the memories she had seen, it seemed as if it was the fate of the women around Vahn to become his lovers. There had even been women who she would have liked to have known as their nature wasn’t that dissimilar to her’s, specifically the two named Tsubaki and Mikoto.

Hearing Kenshin’s statement, Nobunaga felt a little annoyed since she had essentially called Kenshin to help her fight a battle she was too scared to face alone. This caused her to stretch her arm around the latter’s shoulders, pulling her close enough that she could easily grope Kenshin’s breasts while muttering in a stern tone, “Hey, now, we need all the help we can get. Vahn will probably ask if there is anyone you want to summon so you should consider it seriously. He won’t make you do anything you aren’t willing to do so, if you had something like a secret lover, don’t be afraid to mention it when you get the chance. Seriously, you can’t be half-hearted about this or you’ll end up in an even worse situation than me…” As a result of Kenshin’s remark, Nobunaga now felt more than a little annoyed by the ‘plan’ she had concocted in her vulnerable state of mind. She also didn’t really want to force someone that had persevered for forty-nine years to give up something they had protected to a person they didn’t really love…

Grabbing Nobunaga’s errant hand with her own, Kenshin gave her a pouting glare as she said, “I never had anything like that. Not everyone kept around-.” Before she could say anything more, Nobunaga cupped her hand over Kenshin’s mouth and said, “Hey, make sure not to say remarks like that in the future. We’re no longer in the past…leave that kind of thing behind…” Though she was far from the best person to make such remarks, especially after calling Kenshin in the world, Nobunaga didn’t want any extraneous reminders of the past. She was currently thinking about the future in a way she had never worried about before so having people bring up such things was very troubling. Fortunately, Kenshin nodded her head in understanding so Nobunaga removed her hand while releasing a tired sigh and releasing the former from her clutches.

After fixing her hair and clothes, Nobunaga turned back to see Kenshin getting dressed as well, remarking, “I was supposed to go get Vahn as soon as you woke up. Let’s not talk about what happened here, okay? We’ll have plenty of time for things like that in the future. What I really want you to focus on is beating this purple monster for me. When you meet her, you’ll understand what I’m talking about…fuuuu…” Though she didn’t particularly care about Scáthach, nor her methods, it was still troubling to know that someone like Vahn, who seemed so far above her, was basically toyed with. There was nothing she could do to really change the situation without complaining so Nobunaga was hoping that Kenshin would at least be able to get a few blows in before losing…

Knowing Nobunaga was talking about Scáthach, someone else that had appeared within Vahn’s memories, she frowned slightly before saying, “I do not believe I would lose within ten minutes, but I cannot imagine winning either. Sorry, Nobunaga-dono, I don’t think I can meet your expectations…” Even though she had only seen glimpses of Scáthach’s skill, Kenshin had a strong impression of her since Vahn’s memories were always ‘sharp’ when he was in combat. She felt that things would favor her from the beginning but, from what she had observed from Vahn’s memories, it didn’t seem like Scáthach had an upper limit to her abilities. After their first battle, it was unlikely that she would ever have an advantage in any of their future fights…

Hearing Kenshin’s words, Nobunaga wasn’t all that surprised since even she couldn’t really fathom how someone like Scáthach even came into existence. Everything about her was simply ‘broken’, defying all common sense and logic. Still, hearing Kenshin say she should be able to last ten minutes, Nobunaga showed a sly smile, saying, “That is more than enough. As long as you can land a good hit on that emotionless face of her’s, I think I might be able to die happy. Kukukukuku…!” Though this remark hit a little bit too close to home, Nobunaga was serious about wanting to see Scáthach suffer at least one setback. She couldn’t pull it off herself but it was a close second to have someone she was familiar with give Scáthach a good smack in her stead…

Using the mirror on Nobunaga’s room, Kenshin accompanied her as they set out to track down Vahn. As luck would have it, he was in the final few hours of his rest time before going off to train with Scáthach. Though this accounted for around half of Vahn’s ‘day time’, it brought a smile to Nobunaga’s face knowing she might actually see the scene of Scáthach getting hit sooner than expected. With that in mind, she and Kenshin went to Illya’s room where Vahn was supposed to be located. It was generally considered rude to interrupt Vahn’s time with others, especially when he was resting, but Nobunaga knew he would want to meet with Kenshin for a bit now that she had awoken.

As she was about to knock on the door, Kenshin grabbed Nobunaga’s hand and said, “We should come back later. I sense something very dangerous behind this door…” Since she said these words with a serious expression, Nobunaga came back to her senses, remembering that Illya had a beast capable of destroying the world sealed away inside of her. Though she seemed like just a normal little girl, especially in the past few months, it probably wasn’t a good idea to test the waters for sharks by diving straight in.

This ended up being a very wise decision as, on the other side of the door, Vahn and Cath Palug had both turned their eyes toward the door while the latter was kept from moving about by Vahn’s embrace. Other than Fenrir, the only person that Cath Palug tolerated was Mordred. If someone else invaded its territory, especially when it was ‘playing’ with Vahn, the petite Beast of Gaia wouldn’t have taken kindly to the intrusion. As for Vahn, he knew Nobunaga and Kenshin were the ones waiting outside so he put a bit more effort into his pampering in order to hasten the change back to Illya. Though this took on the form of him nibbling on Cath Palug’s ears with more than a playful amount of force, this only made the small beast more excited as his hands worked their magic…

By the time an hour had passed, Vahn managed to lull Cath Palug into a contented sleep, replacing it with the red-faced Illya. Fortunately, Cath Palug had learned how to wear clothing a few weeks back so she was wearing a white nightgown as she sat with her back to Vahn. Since he knew this situation was a bit unfair to Illya, Vahn gently wrapped his arms around her before kissing the top of her head and saying, “I’ll come back later tonight with Fenrir and we can all sleep together…okay?” In response to this, Illya nodded her head in affirmation but kept her face hidden as, right now, she could make a tomato envious with her complexion. Vahn carried her over to the bed before tucking her in, all while Illya continued to cover her face with both hands. Then, just as he was exiting the door, Vahn could hear Illya releasing an adorable and frustrated whine that he knew wasn’t meant for his ears…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Nobu-chan, stay strong (T ^ T)…’,’The plan to make Scáthach suffer…!’,’Poor Illya, getting bullied by her Onii-sama…’)

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