Chapter 1130: Trust : Er

After giving Kenshin a kiss atop her forehead, Vahn stroking his fingers through her fringe bangs as he said, “Take care of your ‘Big Sis’ for me, okay…?” Though she was exhausted herself, Kenshin gave a small nod in affirmation as she continued to cradle the unconscious Nobunaga in her arms. She had taken in so much mana at this point that her hair had gained a bloody-crimson hue but, after pushing herself a little too hard, she would easily be out for a few hours. Fortunately, Kenshin hadn’t followed her example so, while she was able to ‘learn’ quite a bit, she hadn’t bitten off more than she could chew just to set an example. Now, she had the naked and red-faced Nobunaga curled up in her embrace, a complete reversal of their previous experiences together…

Since it had taken much longer than he had intended, as he simply wasn’t able to leave the two girls behind in the ‘middle’ of their fun, Vahn left behind Kenshin’s room before pulling out his Space-Time Orb and considering the best way to make use of it. It was currently the ‘night cycle’ of his seven-day-long schedule so he was supposed to be researching something or studying with Merlin, Scáthach, or Illya. The former had been teaching him about dreams and illusion magecraft while the latter two had been helping Vahn get a better grasp of Alchemy, specifically related to the creation of Homunculi. Though Illya hadn’t been all that interested in sharing her knowledge at first, she had changed greatly in the last few months. She had even become good friends with Fenrir, Medusa, and, to a lesser extent, Mordred. The only thing that kept her from getting closer to the latter was Mordred’s wild and outgoing personality, something Illya envied a little more than she ought to.

Recalling that he promised to visit Illya later anyways, Vahn decided it would be best to go study with her for a bit before spending some quality time together. At the same time, he tossed the Space-Time Orb back into his Inventory because, if he actually used it with Illya to increase their time together, he could imagine Cath Palug doing any number of things to his body while he was inside. The Beast of Gaia had become extremely clingy towards him ever since that eventful night three months ago, to the point that its Affection was a stable 99 without fluctuating in the slightest. Vahn wasn’t quite sure he wanted to know what he needed to do in order to earn that last point but, if he left things up to Cath Palug, he could easily imagine waking up to find himself in a compromising position if he wasn’t there to actively rein in the ‘curious’ beast’s behavior…

After reaching Illya’s door, Vahn knocked in the ‘secret’ pattern he had come up with to alert Illya to his presence, something she had come up with herself in the past. As a result, he could feel subtle vibrations through the floor that indicated Illya had run over to the door before stopping on the other side to catch her breath. When she finally opened the door, Vahn felt like his legs had turned soft since Illya was wearing a large t-shirt that obviously belonged to him. She had a beet-red face as well, grabbing his wrist to pull him inside since she didn’t want anyone else to see. Fortunately, even if her current attire was questionable, Illya was wearing a pair of frilly pink pajama shorts underneath so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Once Illya pulled Vahn inside, she closed the door with a bit of force before ‘glaring’ at him and saying, “Onii-sama…what are you doing here at this time?” Since she knew Vahn’s schedule by heart, Illya knew he should have already been off studying elsewhere since he was currently more than two hours into his first evening block. He rarely deviated from his schedule so she hadn’t expected him to suddenly show up, even though she was ‘hoping’ he would use his first rest period to come visit her. As a result, she had actually thought that Fenrir was the one knocking on her door as, even though she had taught Vahn a ‘secret’ knock for just the two of them, Fenrir had figured it out very quickly and used it to tease her…

Choosing not to even mention the fact she was wearing a likely stolen shirt, Vahn sat down on the sofa before pulling out a set of tea and snacks as he explained, “I had to deal with something that took up a lot more time than I had anticipated. Sorry for showing up at an odd time, Illya…” Using his ‘characteristic’ gentle smile against her, Illya released an embarrassed groan but ultimately came over to sit next to him on the sofa. She actually looked very adorable wearing a long-sleeved shirt that was far too big for her but Vahn kept that to himself as he poured a cup of tea and handed it over to the still red-faced girl. After finishing half the contents of her cup, she seemed unable to keep silent about it herself so, after mustering up a bit of courage, Illya muttered, “Fenrir gave it to me…I’m sorry…”

Though he had already assumed Fenrir had something to do with Illya’s acquisition of his clothing, as only she and Circe really had access to his laundry, Vahn hadn’t expected Illya to ‘expose’ her so quickly. This caused his smile to turn into an obviously amused expression, something that caused Illya’s face to turn even redder as she averted her eyes and sipped her tea to avoid having to look directly at him. As Vahn wasn’t in a particular hurry to start studying, he waited for Illya to slowly regain her composure while enjoying his own tea, a bold tasting black tea with mana-rich honey to give it an extra ‘kick’. Illya surprisingly liked bitter drinks like coffee and black tea so Vahn often pulled it out for her whenever he visited without the intention to ‘relax’.

After silence dominated the atmosphere for a few minutes, Vahn was beginning to realize that Illya was too embarrassed to start a conversation of her own. Since she was still wearing his shirt, which hadn’t even been washed, she was too distracted to even look at him, much less make conversation. Vahn found this rather adorable but chose to focus on a different topic, one that had come to mind a few times when he was forging within the Space-Time Orb and waiting for Kenshin to awaken. He could theoretically summon an additional ten Heroes without too many issues so Vahn asked, “If you had the opportunity to choose any figure throughout History to summon, who would you choose…?”

Though she had flinched skittishly when Vahn suddenly broke the silence, Illya still listened closely to his question. She had actually put a lot of thought into it lately since Vahn had been asking similar questions to everyone else within the Castle. Thus, without having to ruminate for too long, Illya answered, “If you can summon Gods without any restrictions, any that are compassionate towards humanity would be beneficial allies. As for ‘Heroes’…I know you have been wanting friends since the number of women in the Castle has been increasing. As it may be necessary to summon Gilgamesh at some point, you should consider calling upon the Nature Spirit, Enkidu first. Though there are no official accounts of their gender, Enkidu should be a male based on Gilgamesh’s behavior during the Fourth Holy Grail War.”

As even Merlin had suggested summoning Enkidu, Vahn couldn’t help wondering what kind of entity could have been considered Gilgamesh’s one true friend. According to Merlin and Scáthach, Enkidu was a tool created by the Babylonian Gods, formed from mud with the sole purpose of killing Gilgamesh before he could become corrupt. Unfortunately for the people of the time, Enkidu had been a compassionate entity who had been unwilling to kill Gilgamesh as, at the time, he was only a child. When Gilgamesh finally matured, they engaged in a battle that spanned several days and changed the landscape within hundreds of kilometers before Enkidu was ultimately defeated. From that moment onward, for reasons on Enkidu would know the answer to, he became Gilgamesh’s one and only friend within all available historical accounts…

Tempting as it might be, Vahn wasn’t entirely sure summoning a being that had been able to fight on par with Gilgamesh was such a good idea. His own power was significantly lacking so, if Enkidu ended up being hostile towards them, it would invariably result in a minor disaster. Though he could use Command Spells to rein in any discordant Servants, there was any number of skills that could allow them to break free and wreak havoc. If they had strong enough willpower, and were forced to do something that contradicted their nature, the number of Servants that could ‘resist’ a Command Spell were actually quite high. Even Artoria mentioned how she had been forced through the use of two Command Spells when Kiritsuga Emiya had made her destroy the Lesser Grail during the Third Holy Grail War…

Ultimately choosing to put off summoning Tier 4 entities he might not be able to control, Vahn shook his head before asking, “What about someone like Heracles? Or maybe one of the other Greek or Roman Heroes…?” In response to this, Illya gave an awkward smile before explaining, “Summoning any noteworthy Hero from that Era may not be the best decision. If nothing else, most male Heroes from that time period are known for their borderline arrogant and haughty natures. It may not end well if they disagree with your policies or begin fancying any of the women within the castle. There are as many tales of adultery and significantly worse acts as there are of heroic feats during that time period. The only exception might be if you summon someone like Achilles, but I can’t imagine such a prideful man following orders without anything to gain…”

While listening to Illya’s words, Vahn was cycling through the data he had collected on various heroes with the support of Sis. He had to admit that there was a fair amount of truth to what Illya was saying, something that Vahn found extremely troubling since it implied summoning any male Hero would invite drama into his encampment. The only viable choices seemed to be members of the Round Table or, if he wanted to play things ‘safe’, he could summon Heroes along with their own wives or lovers. There could also be value in summoning anyone recognized as a ‘Saint’ as, with the fate of the world on the line, they would undoubtedly follow his orders. Since Alaya had revealed that many historical Saints were actually her ‘Champions’, her presence alone could compel them to follow him fervently…

Understanding that Vahn was ruminating over the information he had archived within his mind, Illya eventually swallowed nervously before grabbing his sleeve and asking, “If I asked you to summon my mother or my brother…would you?” These words caused Vahn to blink in mild surprise as he had never expected Illya to make such a request. However, even though he knew her ‘brother’ was the same Shirou that Artoria and Rin had previously fallen in love with, he still nodded without any real hesitation, smiling as he said, “Of course. Your happiness is one of my highest priorities, Illya…if you think that would make you happy, I would do my best to summon both of them if you’d like…” Even if it made things more than a little awkward in his own interpersonal relationships, Vahn was actually more than a little interested in meeting the man named Shirou Emiya. He had apparently spent his final years traveling around the world helping people in various countries, doing his best to save everyone he could…

Knowing Vahn wasn’t trying to deceive her, Illya’s body began to tremble slightly since she ‘knew’ he would say yes, something that was actually quite terrifying. She actually hadn’t been all that close with her brother but, during the days leading up to her death, Illya had reconciled with him and was looking forward to being a family. However, if she really asked Vahn to summon her brother, Illya knew it would cause him a lot of trouble that she didn’t wish to force upon him. As for her mother, Illya could hardly even remember anything about her, only that she had been a very kind and docile woman. Summoning her could actually be very helpful to Vahn as, unlike her own hybrid body, her mother was a complete and highly advanced homunculus that had even served as the vessel for the Holy Grail. The only thing that kept her from asking Vahn to immediately summon her was Illya’s fear that her mother, like all Einzbern Homunculi, should be extremely impressionable. Illya was afraid that her mother might imprint on Vahn, meaning she might have to compete with her own mother for his affections in the future.

Seeing Illya unexpectedly struggling with his response, Vahn reached out his hand and began to lightly stroke her head as he said, “Some of the people I respect the most often told me that it isn’t good to overthink things. Since Irisviel had been close with Artoria as well, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to summon her. As for what you might be worrying would happen…well, I can understand why you would harbor such thoughts. Just don’t forget that my priority is your happiness…I won’t do anything to intentionally make you sad…” It wasn’t all that hard to imagine what was troubling Illya so Vahn tried his best to console her, even if he knew his argument might not be all the convincing. His experience with Milan and Tina had ‘broken’ the part of him that was worried about how others saw his relationships, even if he ultimately ended up with a mother-daughter pair…

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Vahn knew that, even if he did his best to resist, things would undoubtedly become awkward since his close relationship with Illya would be of great concern to her mother. As for why he couldn’t summon Kiritsugu, Illya’s father and Irisviel’s lover, Vahn hadn’t heard any good things about the man. According to Artoria, he had even been having an affair with his partner, all while Irisviel was completely prepared to die in order to make his dream come true. Vahn might not be the best person to speak about such things but none of his relationships could really qualify as affairs. He would also never shun any of the women he was involved with, especially if they were close to death. Until the very end, he would do everything in his power to save them, as no ‘dream’ was worth the arbitrary sacrifice of someone you were supposed to love…

Though Vahn’s words didn’t exactly inspire confidence, Illya knew it was her own desire to ‘test’ him that had led to this awkward situation. She actually just wanted to see how willing Vahn was to put himself in a potentially compromising situation on her behalf. Since he didn’t even hesitate, Illya felt both happy and conflicted at the same time. However, remembering that she was also teaching Vahn about Einzbern Homunculi, Illya knew it was actually ‘best’ if she called her mother into the present. She had been considered the most perfect Justeaze-Type Homunculi and had all of the alchemical knowledge of the Einzbern family recorded in her mind. Illya was considered a prodigy but, as she had been conceived and born naturally, she had to learn everything manually while someone like her mother simply ‘knew’ every technique passed down their lineage for the last two-hundred years.

With the only ‘better’ choices being to summon Justeaze directly or raiding the Einzbern Estate in Germany, Illya ultimately made up her mind as she said, “I will let you summon my mom…” As these words left her lips, Illya began to feel giddy and scared at the same time as a mixture of excitement and concern mingled between her stomach and heart. She really wanted to have a ‘real’ member of her family and, with Kiritsugu and Shirou bringing too many problems with them, Illya knew her mother was the only real choice. Fortunately, she was actually a great deal older than her own mother who, at the time of her death, had only been around nine years old. Illya was confident that she would be able to subtly shape her mom’s perception of Vahn so that she didn’t imprint on him, at least before she could find enough resolve to move forward in her own relationship…

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Seeing that Illya had found her own resolve, Vahn nodded his head in understanding before giving her a firm hug. This caused her face to turn beet red but she didn’t make any attempt to escape as he lightly stroked her back and said, “Everything will be okay…” For better or worse, Vahn knew that Irisviel should actually be very ‘loyal’ towards Kiritsugu so, even if they did eventually develop a relationship, it would likely only be after several years and numerous small events. His relationship with Illya would probably expedite things a bit but it was just as likely that Irisviel might treat him more like family than a potential love interest. He imagined that most of his interactions with the famously beautiful woman would be with Illya around, acting more like a family than anything more intimate.

After having decided to summon Irisviel, Vahn and Illya spent a few minutes discussing the finer details of her mother’s future arrangements. It was slightly problematic that Illya already had the status of Grand-Dutchess but, as ranks and titles didn’t really mean much at the moment, having Irisviel take on a title of her own wasn’t too much of an issue. Since she had a wealth of knowledge, and apparently spent most of her recreational time reading, Vahn decided to make her the ‘Keeper of the Imperial Library’. This would give Irisviel something to do when she wasn’t looking after Illya as, even if they were mother and daughter, it wasn’t as if they could always be together. Irisviel might jump at the idea but Illya would undoubtedly want some ‘private’ time to herself…

Once everything had been decided, Vahn went to seek out Merlin to explain the situation while Illya waited in his room. She wasn’t allowed to enter the secret chamber beyond but, considering he would be summoning her mother, Vahn correctly assumed she would want to be nearby. There was also a mirror within his room that would connect back to the ‘real’ world so Illya could watch over her while he took care of other things. Thus, after having a lengthy conversation with Merlin about which Heroes would benefit their cause the most, as he still technically had nine summons, Vahn entered into the Welsh Dragon’s chamber and accessed the summoning system once again. This time around, he had a list of Heroes to look into, including Merlin’s recommendations of Leonardo da Vinci, Karna, Siegfried, Ozymandius, Galahad, Gawain, Bedivere, and who he had specifically designated as ‘The First Hassan-i-Sabbah’.

When it came to Leonardo da Vinci, Merlin was surprisingly insistent on summoning him as soon as possible as, according to him, there was no greater genius in human history. It didn’t matter which field of study it was, both scientific and thaumaturgical, Da Vinci was considered nigh ‘omnipotent’, completely without equal. Even better than himself and Scáthach, Merlin believed Da Vinci would irrefutably be the best possible teacher as he could also innovate off the many ‘unknown’ elements Vahn introduced into the world. As for his other recommendations, Karna was considered the Child of the Sun God who, due to his upbringing, had a strong compassion towards humanity and a loyal heart. The same could be said for Siegfried as, during his lifetime, the man had helped everyone he ever met, never refusing a request. As for Galahad, Gawain, and Bedivere, they were all Knights of the Round Table who had been loyal to the very end. Galahad could apparently even use a technique that allowed him to protect an entire fortress from harm, even against tactical class weapons and anti-mountain attacks…

The only two recommendations that Merlin wasn’t entirely confident about was Ozymandius and the First Hassan as, even though the former should prove extremely beneficial to their cause, this would require the summoning of Nefertiti as well. As for the First Hassan, he was even more enigmatic as neither Merlin nor Scáthach was able to ‘see’ anything about him other than his existence itself. The one thing they both agreed upon was, even if she were to go all out against him, Scáthach would be unable to win against the First Hassan. He was, in many ways, one of the ‘ultimate’ trump cards Vahn, though this assumed that the First Hassan could be controlled from the outset. Assuming he could be brought to their side, however, the First Hassan would undoubtedly be one of their strongest allies, someone Vahn should always keep in mind if he ever felt pressured.

With these things in mind, Vahn activated the summoning system once again, this time intending to summon Irisviel and, as they both seemed like interesting people, Leonardo Da Vinci and Siegfried. Since had known a Siegfried of his own back in the Record of Danmachi, Vahn was curious what the ‘Dragon Knight’ of the Nasuverse was like…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Press ‘F’ to Pay Respects’,’Illya setting up landmines for herself…’,’Gotta be careful if you want to summon Grandpa Mountain…you might just lose your head (O – o)…’)

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