Chapter 1126: Love of Battle

Though he still had a fair amount of trouble with it, Vahn’s efforts over the last three months hadn’t been without result. He needed to focus, and could only vaguely sense the mana signatures of the people within, but Vahn had a loose grasp on the structure of the Inner Sanctum and its residents. As a result, it didn’t take him long to discover that Nobunaga and Kenshin had alighted to the former’s room. Thus, rattling his knuckles across the reinforced wooden door, Vahn entered after waiting for a few seconds. He found the two sitting on the sofa but, unlike Nobunaga, Kenshin rose to her feet and gave a proper bow as she said, “Uesugi Kenshin greets her Master, the Sage Emperor!” Though she had been a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, Kenshin had first and foremost been a warrior during an era where honor and respect were at their heights. Since she had been called upon to help stop a world-ending threat, it almost felt like she was on a holy mission of sorts, one that would bring great honor to both her Goddess and Master.

While raising his hand to give Kenshin permission to rise, Vahn smiled casually as he said, “That kind of behavior is only necessary when we hold Court in the future. Though it is a little troublesome for you to be within the Inner Sanctum, I’ll make an exception since you are a friend to Nobunaga…” As she had just been summoned, Kenshin technically lacked the qualifications to stay within the Inner Sanctum as she was neither a member of the Imperial Family or an official member of his ‘Harem’. This didn’t matter all that much to Vahn but it would be important in the future to observe proper protocol when it came to things like this. He had kept his family and duty separate in the Record of Danmachi but, here in the Ivory Castle, the two would inhabit the same space. As it was impossible to let just anyone wander around the Inner Sanctum, even if they were personally summoned by him, Vahn needed to be more strict in the future…

Kenshin seemed like she was about to apologize but Nobunaga beat her to it by pushing forward the white-haired warrior by kicking her butt. At the same time, she had a teasing look on her face as she said, “There is an easy solution, isn’t there? I’m certain Ken-chan won’t say no, ufufufu~.” Though Nobunaga had tried to kick Kenshin toward Vahn, the latter had easily regained her balance before she had even taken three steps. This put her nowhere near Vahn, giving Nobunaga the desire to both laugh and complain at the same time. She had wanted Kenshin to crash into Vahn since there was a chance something comical might happen knowing her ‘luck’ from their previous life.

In response to Nobunaga’s bold assertion, Kenshin placed her right hand over her heart and, with a serious expression, stated, “I am unfamiliar with the duties expected of me, but I am not unwilling. If His Majesty does not find this body distasteful, please do with me what you will.” Since Nobunaga didn’t seem worried about offending Vahn, Kenshin felt that it wasn’t a bad opportunity to express her own intentions. She had let go of everything at the time of her death so, in this new life she had been granted, there were many things she wanted to experience.

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This kind of development wasn’t completely outside of Vahn’s expectations, as he knew Nobunaga had such intentions from the start, but it still felt more than a little rushed. The way Kenshin was acting wasn’t all that dissimilar to Lakshmibai and Artoria when they first joined, meaning she was simply doing a self-assigned ‘duty’ that she thought was necessary. Though he would quickly be able to change her tune, it was still a little awkward for her to be so direct about things, especially since they hadn’t even had a proper conversation yet. However, they had both seen the other’s memories so it wasn’t as if they were complete strangers to each other. With that in mind, Vahn prevented his smile from turning wry as he commented, “You should have more confidence in yourself. I’d have to be a great fool to find your body distasteful…”

Kenshin might be forty-nine years old but it certainly didn’t seem that way if you were looking at her surface appearance. Being [Bishamonten’s Favorite Child] and having a Divinity sleeping within her body had been ‘very’ kind to her as she aged. Though she wasn’t at the point of becoming immortal and ageless just yet, it was easy to see from the vitality radiating from Kenshin’s body that she could easily live for a few hundred years. Vahn was actually very curious about what kind of sickness could have claimed someone that had essentially had the Divine Protection of a Goddess. It seemed more likely that she had either been poisoned or cursed but, considering sickness seemed to run in her family, it was hard to be certain without seeing it directly.

While Nobunaga was cackling in the back, Kenshin seemed to interpret Vahn’s words as his intention to do something with her body. With deft movements that here hard to follow with the eye, she had already loosed her kimono, revealing the fact she wore nothing beneath it. As she was preparing to die, Kenshin had been wearing comfortable and loose clothing as her ailment made it hard for her to breath. She had unbound her chest more than a year prior and didn’t even wear an obi around her kimono, making it closer in function to a yukata that was only fashioned together with a small cloth belt. As a result, Vahn was able to see Kenshin’s fit and athletic figure in its full glory, complete with impossible fair skin and the subtle hint of powerful muscles lingering just beneath the surface. The only thing that seemed out of place, at least until he considered how ‘Divinity’ usually influenced the body, was that Kenshin was impeccably smooth in a way that grooming could never manage…

Though he was admittedly tempted, Vahn had less than two hours before his training was supposed to begin and Scáthach wasn’t the most understanding when it came to being late. Others might be able to finish the deed in less time but Vahn liked to extend things a bit to make the moment more memorable for the women he was with, especially if it was their first time. Kenshin seemed like the type that could tolerate a lot of pain but Vahn had no intention of mistreating her just because she didn’t know any better. He knew from experience with other warrior women, especially those with a traditional mentality, that it wasn’t always the best idea to let them get caught up in the momentum.

Without hiding the appreciation in his eyes, Vahn politely smiled as he said, “There is an order to everything, Kenshin. Let’s get you situated properly before moving on to things like that. Come, we’ll find a room for you and get you some clothing. I also forged you some weapons that you’ll be able to use for training purposes. When there is time, you can let me know about your preferences and I’ll try to make you some to-order equipment.” Believing it would be easier for her to take a step back if he shifted the topic towards weapons and armor, Vahn pulled out one of the katanas he had forged for Kenshin’s personal use. Though she accepted it with a glimmer in her eyes, she also failed to fix her kimono before eyeing the blade’s edge and giving it a few swings. Vahn could only maintain a polite smile as he saw this, all while Nobunaga was dying from laughter in the background…

Vahn had been correct to use equipment as a distraction but he had severely underestimated how easily side-tracked Kenshin could get when it came to the thing she was most interested in. Though he managed to get her into an [Aegis Mk 5] and some more casual clothing, consisting of a pair of tight white shorts and a form-fitting black shirt, she had hardly been able to contain herself when it came to trying out her new weapons. She had never forged in her lifetime but Kenshin could ‘feel’ the smallest imperfections in a weapon’s craft, paying Vahn quite a few heavy compliments as she held the weapons in her hands with a fervent light in her eyes.

Watching Kenshin polish the spear he had given her with a somewhat silly smile on her face, Vahn couldn’t help smiling himself as Nobunaga whispered, “When it comes to fighting, this girl is the biggest idiot you’ll ever meet. Just wait and see her battle against Scáthach…kukukuku~.” As this was his first time hearing that Kenshin would be fighting Scáthach, not that it was much of a surprise, Vahn tilted his head to urge Nobunaga to explain. Then, seemingly without any shame whatsoever, Nobunaga explained, “Since you can’t seem to pull it off, I want to see at least one person cause that purple monster to change expressions. Kenshin might not be able to win, but I’d be willing to bet an entire province that she’ll be able to give that woman a few surprises.”

Since the conversation related to her fighting a strong opponent, Kenshin’s ears had perked up in response, causing her to confidently nod her head and say, “With these gifts provided by Master, I will be able to pressure her for at least ten, no, twenty minutes…!” Though they weren’t the weapons she had used in her previous life, Kenshin was comfortable with any weapon that she got her hands on. Even if they weren’t masterpieces, the weapons produced by Vahn had an almost perfect balance and a simplified design that any Master martial artist could appreciate. She felt particularly blessed by the fact that her Emperor, someone she should be dedicating herself to, actually went out of his way to personally forge weapons for her use…

With Kenshin staring at him with stars in her eyes, Vahn returned a polite smile before saying, “If you intend to have a spar against Scáthach, we should head out pretty soon. It would be very dangerous to enter into the training Orb when it is time for my own training to begin. Some of the preliminary attacks Scáthach uses against me could level city blocks so it would be best to arrive early.” Though a single attack wouldn’t even be enough to take out Nobunaga, in most circumstances, Vahn would rather not risk either of their lives just because they underestimated Scáthach. Vahn felt that, more than anyone else in history, he knew the ‘terror’ of Scáthach better than most could comprehend.

If given the chance to fight or not fight, Kenshin would always lean towards the former, much to the frustration of both her allies and enemies. The moment she heard Vahn’s words, she gripped the spear in her hands a little tighter as she exclaimed, “I relish this opportunity! Thank you, Master!” Then, grabbing literally all of the weapons Vahn had prepared for her, eight in total, Kenshin rose to her feet with eyes that said, ‘I’m ready, let’s go, quickly’. This caused Nobunaga to shake her head in false exasperation as Vahn’s smile became somewhat wry, even though he rose to his feet as well. Before she could get ahead of herself, however, Vahn asked, “Do you not need any other equipment before we leave? Are you fine with fighting barefooted…?”

Since he had only given her clothes to wear in lieu of her loose kimono, Kenshin’s long legs and small feet were both bare. Her boyish style, combined with her mature figure, creating a rather unique gap that was distinctly different from Nobunaga’s ‘punk’ style. He also expected her to tie up her ankle-length hair but, after recalling the scenes of battle from her memories, it didn’t seem like Kenshin cared about such things. He had no idea how some women could have unbelievably long hair without it getting in the way, especially when moving around at supersonic speeds, but that was just perhaps another expression of their skill…

With Vahn’s reminder, and offer to help gear her out, Kenshin actually had quite a few demands about her loadout since she knew her opponent was someone like Scáthach. When her outfit was completed, she had a hardened leather breastplate, layered leather pauldrons, a tight corset with metal plating, thigh-high boots with tall heels, a long-sleeved mantle, vambraces on both hands, and a waistcloth overtop the pair of shorts he had given her earlier. Vahn had done his best to pick out colors that would match Kenshin’s peculiar beauty, choosing white fabric with regal red trim and black leather with golden accents that complimented her eyes. Since he had her memories stored away within his own mind, he made sure to pick designs she would be comfortable with, something that Kenshin seemed to appreciate greatly as she looked at herself in front of a mirror with a large grin on her face.

Before heading out to meet up with Scáthach, Vahn helped Kenshin bind her weapons together in a modified cloth sheath that would allow her to draw them at her leisure. She seemed fully intent on using all eight of them, including a seven pronged spear, black katana, silver long sword, weighted nodachi, monkey staff, ringed naginata, curved nagamaki, and a two-meter long tetsubo. These were all traditional Japanese weapons, the only exceptions being the monkey staff, one of the weapons she had been fond of in her youth, and the uniquely designed spear.

Most spears were designed with a focus on function, meaning they were relatively simple in design with their sole purpose being to penetrate an enemy’s armor. Kenshin, however, preferred a spear that had a tip reminiscent of a seven-branched sword. While most functional spears only had a tip averaging between 15~20cm in length, the tip of Kenshin’s unique weapon of choice was 75cm in length, bringing the total length of the spear to nearly three meters. This, however, wasn’t actually as surprising as when she hefted up the two-meter long tetsubo, a weapon designed like a massive lump of metal with several spiked studs, weighing around 70kg. Though her parameters showed she had a base strength of twenty-nine average humans, it was always an odd sight to see a woman lift a metal rod that weighed more than they did without any effort at all…

By the time Kenshin had finished her preparations, there was only around twenty minutes left before Vahn’s training was supposed to begin. Based on her own estimates, this was about the amount of time she expected herself to last so it was more than adequate. With that in mind, Vahn, Nobunaga, and Kenshin made their way over to the training orb reserved for Scáthach’s ‘lessons’. Around the same time that they appeared within the infinite white space, Scáthach popped up right in front of the trio, passing her eyes over the group before locking gazes with Kenshin. This was their first time meeting but Scáthach knew ‘everything’ about Kenshin from the moment their eyes met, instantly understanding the reason why the latter had accompanied Vahn into the Orb.

Though he knew it wasn’t really necessary, Vahn gestured to Kenshin, explaining, “Scáthach, this is our newest companion, Uesugi Kenshin. She would like to spar with you in order to-.” Before he could finish, Scáthach showed a rare smile that caused Vahn’s words to get caught in his throat as she mused, “In order to wipe the cold and expressionless look on my face, was it? Very well, I will accept your challenge, Avatar of Bishamonten. In exchange, I will require that you assist me with a few things in the future.” Since she already knew Kenshin would agree, Scáthach didn’t bother asking as she pulled out a scarlet spear and a dark red short-sword.

The moment Scáthach pulled out her weapons, Kenshin kicked off the ground with enough force to send out a powerful shockwave as she slammed down with the heavy tetsubo. Vahn had barely been able to react to her initial movements, evidence that Kenshin’s 48A Agility was far from the limit of her speed. As for Scáthach, she managed to deflect the tetsubo by thrusting forward with her spear at the central focus of the heavy weapon’s momentum, causing it to change course irreversibly. This would have left most people open to a counterattack but, before Scáthach had even deflected her strike, Kenshin was already stabbing forward with her own spear, exploiting the gap in her own parried attack to try and gain an advantage.

With machine-like precision, Scáthach used her short-sword to stab between one of the branches of Kenshin’s spear, twisting her wrist counter to the latter’s movement as they both tried to disarm each other. At this point, Kenshin had already let go of her tetsubo, drawing the katana from her peculiar sheath in a reverse grip to slice up towards Scáthach’s left shoulder. Though she moved to deflect it with the shaft of her spear, something that caused Vahn’s brows to raise and Nobunaga’s face to morph into a smile happened in the same instance. The tetsubo had only now slammed into the ground, carrying a monstrous amount of momentum that caused spiderweb cracks to spread out from the point of impact. This caused Kenshin’s footing to ‘slip’, slightly changing the course of her katana strike just out of the path of Scáthach’s parry. As a result, the black blade cut across the latter’s shoulder, tearing through the fabric of her bodysuit and knocking her off balance.

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A glimmer flashed across Kenshin’s eyes as she literally shouted, “Chance..!” in an excited voice. Following this, she kicked towards Scáthach’s left knee while using the swing of her hips to put more force into her spear, successfully sending the red short-sword flying away. Though Scáthach was able to deal with the kick by pulling up her own leg and using the momentum of Kenshin’s attack to leap backward, she was temporarily bereft of weapons as the latter temporarily abandoned her katana and began swinging her spear in smooth and soundless arcs that didn’t even cause shockwaves. Though not as much as Scáthach’s mastery with the spear, Kenshin’s mastery with all weapons had transcended common sense, allowing her to ‘ignore’ friction and wind resistance as her spear cut through several sections of Scáthach’s purple bodysuit.

By the time Scáthach was able to land, she had nearly a dozen red lines on her usually unblemished skin but, contrary to Nobunaga’s expectation, her expression remained unchanged. Then, as Kenshin pulled out her nodachi, swinging it in a downward cleaving motion, Scáthach pulled out two spears this time, using a pinpoint strike to completely shatter the blade of the nodachi while the other spear, even without her making any motion whatsoever, extended toward Kenshin’s shoulder as if it had a mind of its own. This caused the latter’s eyes to widen as she exclaimed, “Attacks without motion!? You are truly an awe-inspiring opponent…!” These words escaped her lips as she created a small amount of distance in an attempt to evade the attack. Then, as Scáthach followed up with a secondary strike, Kenshin smiled as she said, “But you aren’t the only one…!”

When Kenshin had leaped backward, she angled her spear at a downward angle that was aimed toward Scáthach’s right thigh. This would normally prevent an enemy from following the same path, as they would skewer themselves on the spear, but Scáthach wasn’t an ordinary enemy. She had twisted her body as she leaped forward, easily outside of the spears normal trajectory as she aimed for Kenshin’s left shoulder and right calf. However, even though she had clearly moved outside of the trajectory of the seven-branched spear, Scáthach found her course changed mid-leap as Kenshin was able to put the force of a full swing into the simple movement of flicking her wrist. Immediately following this, Kenshin tried to exploit the gap in Scáthach’s destabilized state to knee her in the chin, an action both intended to cause the latter to flinch and give her enough time to perform follow-up strikes.

Though Kenshin’s attack would have succeeded uninhibited in almost every other circumstance, Scáthach moved her own wrists in a subtle motion that seemed to lack any power. At the same time, she released her spears which, instead of continuing on their original trajectory, suddenly spun sideways with their bladed points aimed toward Kenshin’s left wrist and right thigh. Against her expectation, however, both spears seemed to change course on their own as Kenshin’s knee slammed hard into her nose. Though it ultimately dealt no damage, Scáthach experienced a very brief flash of light as the impact passed through her head. Immediately following this, a hard impact slammed into her chest as Kenshin attempted to skewer her body with the seven-branched spear, another action that ultimately had no last effect.

With Scáthach being sent back several meters, Kenshin produced a wry smile as she remarked, “I have never fought against an opponent who can’t be damaged. It’s a little disheartening, ahahaha.” Though she said this, the conviction in Kenshin’s eyes hadn’t diminished in the slightest as she leaned forward and held the tip of her spear a few centimeters above the ground. As for Scáthach, she had landed without any difficulties while two new spears had already found their way into her hands. She gave a brief glance towards the cross-shaped red marks on her now exposed chest before remarking, “You are exceptionally skilled. With a more powerful weapon, you may have been able to kill me before I went all out…”

Hearing Scáthach’s words, Kenshin’s smile became even wrier since she knew the former was just being polite. If she had the ability to kill her, the fight likely wouldn’t have gone on for as long as it had. Though it was somewhat frustrating, she knew Scáthach was going easy on her as, if she had followed up on her last strike, Kenshin knew it would have cost her a limb or two. Unlike when the fight had begun, where it felt like Scáthach had a few openings she could exploit, those had all vanished after she kneed her in the face. This didn’t mean she couldn’t ‘make’ openings however so, in order to enjoy the fight for as long as possible, Kenshin muttered, “Biten-Hassō Kuruma Gakari no Jin: Bishamonten’s Eight Phases Wheel Charge Formation~!”

Out of nowhere, a fully armored white horse with a long mane and a lance-like horn on its head appeared. Kenshin mounted it in one swift motion before brandishing her spear, each motion leaving behind a trail of white light that persisted long after her movement. Then, to Vahn’s surprise, he watched as seven other mounted Kenshin’s came into existence, each wielding different weapons as they all began charging towards Scáthach in a staggered line formation. These obviously weren’t normal horses either as their initial charge cracked the hard white surface of the floor, sending shockwaves spreading through the area as they moved like phantoms towards their foe. In response to this, Scáthatch jumped backward with significantly less speed but, at the same time, produced eight spears around her body as she plainly stated, “Gae Bolg…Myriad Spears of Slaughter…”

Though it seemed like nothing would be able to stop the momentum of Kenshin’s charge, each of the eight horses were instantly skewered by Scáthach’s Noble Phantasm. This didn’t stop the eight Kenshin’s, however, as they all leaped from their horses and began an assault on Scáthach that was almost entirely prevented by the spears dancing around her body. It was an impressive display from both sides but, as the fight continued, it became increasingly apparent that Scáthach had seized the momentum. She was able to fight eight-on-one without showing any gaps, even when ‘random’ things like one of the Kenshin’s slipping in a puddle of her own blood occurred. Eventually, there were only three Kenshin’s remaining as the other five were spread out over the ground, slowly dissipating into small particles of golden light…

From start to finish, Kenshin never backed down from the fight, even as Scáthach skewered her two remaining clones and returned a heeled kick to her diaphragm. This caused Kenshin to go tumbling across the ground, bouncing several times like a rock thrown across the surface of the water. Her body had been sent flying towards Vahn so, understanding Scáthach’s intent, he arrested Kenshin’s momentum with his own body before lowering her to the ground. Her neck was straining greatly as she tried to draw in a breath but, after having her diaphragm ruptured, it was impossible for Kenshin to breathe through her own efforts. Vahn alleviated her pain as much as he could by stroking her head while using his right hand to repair the damage to her diaphragm. Even if she was suffocating, someone like Kenshin could persist for several minutes before there was any permanant damage to their brain from oxygen deprivation. This gave Vahn more than enough time to restore her breathing without having to give her CPR or using one of his Command Spells to heal the damage instantly…

While Vahn was healing Kenshin, Nobunaga had a deadpan expression as she looked at Scáthach, muttering, “You didn’t have to go so far. I didn’t think you were the petty type…” As she already knew what Nobunaga was going to say, Scáthach just ignored her as she made her way over to the side of Vahn and Kenshin, saying to the latter, “You fought well.” This elicited a pained laugh from Kenshin as she raspily stated, “I will get stronger…please fight me again…when the time comes…” In response to this, Scáthach gave an affirmative nod before moving off to the side and sitting down in a meditative pose. Vahn could feel her siphoning the Source Energy from his jewel to supplement her reserves, something she had held back on during her battle with Kenshin. If the latter had been able to pressure her for another half hour or so, it wasn’t impossible that she could have clinched a victory through attrition. Of course, the closer you were to a potential victory, the likelihood of your defeat increased exponentially as Scáthach would get progressively more serious…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Some say the quickest way to a girl’s heart is with a finely crafted sword…’,’You did your best, Ken-chan (T ^ T)…!’,’Scáthach is a very tall wall…’)

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