Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 1079
Chapter 1079: Nothing : Everything
With the ability to sense his surroundings even while unconscious, Vahn had been vaguely aware of the small argument between Nobunaga and Artoria. He was even aware of how Nobunaga lingered over his body for an awkwardly long period of time before ultimately deciding to drink alone at the side. She seemed to have been considering whether or not to do anything to him while he 'slept' but, other than a few curious touches, Nobunaga behaved herself properly. Vahn made a mental note to 'reward' her patience later on before deciding to use the present opportunity to sort through his Inventory and go over a few options he had been considering for the future. Before any of that, however, Vahn turned his attention to his status and couldn't help but smile, albeit only in his mind.
Name: [Vahn Mason]
Age: 155 (Ageless)
Race: Human, Progenitor(sealed), *sealed*
Parameter: [Nasuverse: 1-5]
Magical Power: 45->48B+
Good Luck: 13E
Circuit Quality: EX
Soul Tier: 4 (Divine Soul)
Noble Phantasm: [Enkidu:SSS]
Skills: [Will of the Emperor:SSS], [Rakshasa Body:B], [Keeper of the Akashic Tome:B], [Eyes of Truth:A], [Chainbreaker:B], [Veil of the Traveler:SS], [Hands of Nirvana:S], [Type Omega:SSS], [Executor of Akasha's Will:SS], [Martial Arts:C](new), [Instinct:D](new)
Magic: [Magia Erebea:S], [Administrative Function: Space Lock:SSS]
Magecraft: [Magical Trigger:SSS], [Trace:SS], [Reinforce:B], [Gradiation Air:C], [Enchant:B], [Alchemy:E], [Shundo:E->C], [Cantus Bellax:D->C], [Sagitta Magicka:E], [Od Conversion:E->D], [Primordial Rune:B](new)
Use: The user's proficiency with all close-quarters combat techniques.
Use: The user's ability to intuit the most optimal course of action in combat.
Use: The precursor to [Rune Magic], dating far back to the Age of Gods. Consist of a series of thirty-nine runes that allow the user to use B~S-Ranked Magecraft without the need for chants. Current comprehension limits the user from bringing out the full potential of each rune.
Though his parameters hadn't changed all that much, Vahn knew that he wasn't even using his current capabilities to their fullest extent. Even though his Strength had only gone up by a value of two, Vahn felt like he was several times stronger than before just because the increased efficiency in how he moved his body. He felt both faster and responsive as well which, when combined with the [Instinct] skill, made it almost seem as if he was closing the gap between Scáthach and himself. If not for the fact she could use the same skill at the A-Rank, Vahn felt that it would only take a few months before he was able to start landing blows on her...
With that in mind, Vahn turned his attention to some of the items he had been saving since the very start of his journey in the Nasuverse. He still had an [Innate Awakening Pill], the grimoires for [Inspiration] and [Might], an [Enlightenment Stone], and his trump card, the [Skill Advancement Scroll: SSS]. Though unique items like the [Innate Awakening Pill] and [Enlightenment Stone] were undoubtedly in a league of their own, Vahn could use the [Skill Advancement Scroll: SSS] to elevate any single skill to the maximum potential within the Record. If he used it on something like [Instinct], Vahn knew he would immediately become a force to be reckoned with as, according to Scáthach, it was one of the most powerful passive skills a person could have. As even Artoria only had A-Rank [Instinct] as one of her core skills, Vahn knew the SSS-Ranked version would be truly monstrous...
Name: [Artoria Pendragon]
Age: 15, Chrono-Displasia
Race: Human, True Dragon(sealed)
Magical Power: 48A+
Good Luck: 50A++
Soul Tier: 3 (Lord Soul)
Noble Phantasm: [Excalibur:A~EX]
Skills: [Child of Destiny:Innate:SSS], [Red Dragon's Descendant:Innate:SS], [Chivalrous Heart:Innate:S], [Charisma:B], [Instinct:A], [Mana Burst:A], [Magic Resistance:A], [Riding:B]
Magecraft: [Wind Manipulation:D]
Use: The natural ability to command an army and inspire allies. At this rank, the user is qualified enough to lead a country.
Use: The user's ability to intuit the most optimal action in combat. At this rank, the user is not restricted by the five senses when engaged in battle.
Use: The ability to infuse the weapons and body of the user with Magical Energy before forcefully expelling it. Explosively increases offensive and defensive capabilities, creating a focused burst of magical energy that ignores most defenses.
Use: The user's ability to resist all magic of equal rank and lower. Provides moderate resistance to higher-ranked magics.
Use: The user's ability to use any type of animal or vehicle as a mount, guaranteeing proficiency equivalent to the skill's rank and lower.
Use: Allows the user to enchant the weapons, armor, and body with Wind Elemental magic.
Perusing over Artoria's status, it was easy to see that she was one of the most important 'characters' within the story surrounding the Nasuverse. Though Rin also had the [Child of Destiny] Innate, the fact that Saber's was SSS-Rank implied that she was either the main character or closely associated with them. What he found most peculiar was the fact that, instead of being Ageless like other Servants, she had the unique status of Chrono-Displasia. This, combined with the fact that she wasn't a 'Fragmented' Soul was proof enough that she was a unique existence. After all, even Scáthach, who was also still alive back in the Shadow Lands, only had a 'Fragmented Divine' Soul after she had been summoned by the Holy Grail.
While thinking about what he should do to increase his strength, Vahn couldn't help but humor the idea that, depending on the situation, Artoria might even be able to defeat Scáthach. Her fate made it almost impossible for her to actually experience a 'real' setback, assuming it wasn't one imposed on her by the original 'creator' of this Record. Since the flow of fate around her body wasn't of the negative variety, Vahn felt it was safe to assume that Artoria could probably bring an end to the Holy Grail War herself. She could very likely go far beyond the limits of her recorded parameters, taking down opponents that similarly skilled Servants would have no hopes of besting...
Once again feeling that people with a strong fate were troublesome, Vahn set aside how 'broken' Artoria was and instead focused on his own cheat-like capabilities. Though they may not face against Gilgamesh and Circe in a short period of time, as their current location was unknown, Vahn didn't want to become fodder in the coming conflict. There was also the presence of Merlin, the existence of the shadow entity, and the peculiar Servant inhabiting Illya. All of these things had the chance of becoming a legitimate threat to himself and the people he wanted to protect, something Vahn was made keenly aware of after Merlin easily dealt with even Scáthach.
To avoid having to drift along in the wake of Artoria's powerful fate, Vahn decided to bite the bullet as he looked between his [Martial Arts] and [Instinct] skills before ultimately deciding the latter was far more versatile. Then, after an extreme amount of hesitation, Vahn bid farewell to ten-billion potential OP as he used the [Skill Advancement Scroll:SSS] on his [Instinct]. At the very instant that Vahn used the scroll, it felt as if his mind had completely shut off. He was hyperaware of everything around him but, as if nothing mattered at all, he just allowed 'existence' itself to wash over him...
Sensing the peculiar state Vahn had fallen into, Sis almost immediately asked, (*Vahn, are you still with me...?*). Though she had experienced the same 'nothingness' that Vahn had been developing lately, this was the first time Sis had seen him actually turn off everything. Even when Vahn was in a deep state of meditation, there would always be some kind of 'intent' contained within his actions. Now, however, it was as if all his thoughts had ceased in their entirety, causing her to feel more than a little worried, even as he immediately answered, ("I am fine.") The very same instant he said this, Sis could sense a massive flow of sensory information filling Vahn's mind until, almost as quickly as it had started, the phenomenon had come to a stop...
Vahn wasn't really sure what he was feeling right now as, compared to the pleasant nothingness, his current experience was, for lack of a better descriptive, absolute apathy. Until he heard Sis' question, it felt like 'nothing' had mattered at all. Now that he was brought back to awareness, Vahn quickly decided on his next course of action before immediately 'stopping' once again. If someone were to ask what he was experiencing in these few moments, Vahn's only words would be silence as, no matter how he tried to describe the state he was in, it would be far removed from the truth. It was as if he was simultaneously experiencing 'nothing', even as an awareness of 'everything' existed within his mind...
Now, instead of feeling just a little worried, Sis was genuinely concerned so she did something she would almost never do without Vahn's consent. She began to bring memories to the forefront of his mind, many showing the more unpleasant moments of Vahn's life. This caused his stagnant brain to immediately begin to cycle as, from depths even she could not probe, a cool sensation began to spread through his mind. At the same time, Vahn was brought back to a more 'solitary' awareness, more focused on his own thoughts than 'everything' else. With the clarity brought by his [Will of the Emperor], Vahn realized the state he had been in and, even though she had forced him to relive the memory of Milan's kidnapping, he eventually managed to say, ("Thank you for bringing me back...")
Sis knew that Vahn wasn't all that happy so, even though he had thanked her, she still said, (*I'm sorry for doing something so extreme. I was worried you had gotten lost and couldn't find your way back without a powerful stimulus...*). Though she knew Vahn was already aware of this, Sis felt extremely apologetic and 'needed' to apologize directly. In response, Vahn fell silent for several long seconds before eventually saying, ("I forgive you..."). Since this wasn't just him trying to console her, as Vahn was slowly sorting through his actual thoughts on the matter, Sis felt a great deal of relief before answering somewhat sheepishly, (*I am always here for you...*).
Now in a semi-permanant [Will of the Emperor] state, Vahn looked at the description of his new skill with a combination of excitement and genuine shock. Instead of becoming an SSS-Ranked [Instinct], it seemed that the skill actually had evolutions further beyond. Now, following right behind his Innates, Vahn had a skill called [Laplace's Key:SSS]. When used, it would force him into a state of 'absolute awareness of all things' within a 50m space around him. It was almost like the 'ultimate' expression of his usual domain and, in a combat situation, this meant he wouldn't even need to rely on his senses at all in order to 'know' how he should react. If the skill worked in the way it seemed to work, Vahn shuddered at the thought he could simply 'turn off' his mind in the middle of a battle, becoming a perfect machine that took down his enemies...
As that thought crossed his mind, Vahn couldn't help but wonder if that was how Scáthach felt when she was battling against opponents who lacked the means to obscure her [Clairvoyance]. In a way, it almost made the act of fighting feel 'pointless', as there was a guaranteed outcome against all but the most powerful opponents. Since Vahn was, technically, an existence without a fate, there should be no means for any of his enemies to counter such a ridiculous ability. Even he needed to rely on his most powerful Innate just to keep his sense of self, and that was only after Sis brought him back using extreme means...
With Vahn thinking about her chosen action again, Sis gave a wry smile with non-existent lips before saying, (*There are a lot of positives associated with this skill. You have rarely fought solely for the purpose of enjoying a fight. If you are against an enemy that you otherwise would have struggled with, you now have the ability to use [Laplace's Key] to turn the tide. I do not believe you would reserve the skill if it meant you could have protected the people you care about.*). As she had the best understanding of Vahn's character, Sis knew her words would directly strike at the truth of the matter.
Finding Sis' words compelling, Vahn relaxed a great deal before replying, ("You're right, Sis. The whole reason I used the scroll was to give me an advantage in the upcoming fights. If I complain about having an absolute advantage, I would be contradicting myself...hahaha...") Though Vahn still felt awkward to have such a powerful skill in his arsenal now, it was irrefutably better than not having it. Since he could still learn from himself through observing the memories of his battles, Vahn knew that [Laplace's Key] had the potential of being a powerful blessing, not a curse. Even if he got lost in the moment, Sis would always reliably bring him back. There was a chance he would even be able to master the skill through persistent efforts, making it just another part of his standard skillset in the future...
Feeling far more hopeful about the future, Vahn decided he had been sleeping more than long enough. Though it had only been around half an hour, he knew that Nobunaga wasn't going to contentedly keep drinking sake at the side. He knew she was just trying to give herself a bit of courage and, after activating [Laplace's Key] for just a few seconds earlier, Vahn knew 'everything' about the current state of her body. Thus, after sitting up and rubbing his head for a short while, Vahn turned his eyes to Nobunaga who, surprising him, dropped her cup of sake and asked, "What the hell happened to you...?"
Since she was looking directly at his face, Vahn pulled out a hand mirror before experiencing a small shock of his own after seeing his eyes. Though they were still the same aquamarine-green color as normal, his pupils now formed cat-like slits. Since he could normally control his appearance, Vahn stared at his own image until the pupils dilated into the form of a circle once again. He chalked it up to a side-effect of awakening his [Laplace's Key] but, as there was no skill in existence that could 'force' him to keep a certain change, Vahn simply undid it. Now, with normal eyes, Vahn smiled at Nobunaga before saying, "I can change my form however I like. When I was passed out earlier, I must have had a strange dream that caused them to change like that."
As this wasn't new information to Nobunaga, she just nodded her head in turn, even though she knew there was something 'more' that Vahn hadn't alluded to. When he looked at her previously, she felt like a small child staring up at a large stranger for the first time. For a brief moment, she felt like Vahn could completely crush her without requiring any effort on his part. Now, even though he had returned to normal, Nobunaga could feel a subtle pressure lingering around his body that made her feel strangely nervous just to be around. This was mostly due to the fact he had his [Will of the Emperor] active but, after the 'shock' she had experienced previously, Nobunaga now felt 'fragile' with Vahn closer to the door than she was...
Seeing the state Nobunaga was in, Vahn's expression softened a great deal as he asked in a quiet tone, "May I join you for a drink...?" He had been intending to take the lead and have a bit of fun with Nobunaga but, seeing the usually overbearing woman appear genuinely afraid, Vahn now just wanted to spend some time with her. The moment his intentions changed, Nobunaga seemed to visibly relax as an awkward but sly smile adorned her face when she said, "Sure, but you'll need to bring out a new bottle. This one is running a little low and I was starting to get a little tired of the taste anyways."
Understanding that Nobunaga was doing her best to resume her 'normal' behavior, Vahn released a light chuckle before pulling out a small black bottle with gold lettering. This was another version of the [Emperor's Blood], the type of sake that had completely dominated Tsubaki, Harhime, Mikoto, Shizune, and Amaterasu. So long as you were of 'eastern' descent, hailing from a country even remotely similar to Japan, this was one of the most effective sake in his endless repertoire. Even without knowing what was inside, Nobunaga's eyes showed a glimmer of expectation from the very moment Vahn produced the bottle. It was a reaction bordering on 'instinct' as, with the exception of other types of [Emperor's Blood], there were no higher quality sakes in existence.
Vahn filled a small ceramic cup with the crystal clear liquid which, in the right light, refracted a slight golden hue. Though there was no discernable aroma, Nobunaga inhaled audibly after picking up the cup, almost as if her nose was able to detect something his simply wasn't capable of. Then, after savoring the 'aroma' for a few seconds, Nobunaga downed the entire contents of her cup in a single swig. When she had finished, Nobunaga slammed the cup down on the small wooden table next to them before releasing a contented and slightly girlish, 'Phaaaa~'. Even if she didn't intend to, her eyes were slightly squinted with a happy smile on her face, something that was rare since she would normally have a more sly, snide, or mischevious look...
Seeing Vahn staring at her with an amused smile on his face, Nobunaga gave a curt 'hmph' before robbing the bottle of sake from his hands. Vahn knew better than to try and keep it from her as, back in the Record of Danmachi, Tsubaki had nearly broken his arm after he tried teasing her. The only thing that mattered right now was that Nobunaga was in a much better mood than she was a few minutes ago. With that in mind, Vahn pulled out a bottle of expensive sake for himself, making sure not to pick another type of [Emperor's Blood], before the two spent a few hours just drinking, talking, and, for the first time, simply cuddling together...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Saber is a leet haxor','Vahn like a kid taking his first hit...','Nobunaga, conquered by a single bottle of sake xD. Must have been a +50 gift item...')
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