Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 1252
In the weeks following Ereshkigal's summoning, Vahn got to experience just how much she had been holding back out of consideration for Rin.
Though most of her time was spent with the children but, Ereshkigal would often appear whenever Vahn had free time in his schedule. She rarely came with the intention to do anything intimate but, if he wasn't busy, she just liked to spend time with him.
Vahn couldn't always make time for Ereshkigal but, whenever she appeared, he always spent at least a few minutes with her before escorting her back. Just walking hand-in-hand for a bit seemed to be enough to satisfy her, at least temporarily, so this was the least he could do.
Since his own schedule had been opened up quite a bit, Vahn often found himself escorting one or more of his lovers throughout the day. However, with the duel drawing closer with each passing day, this slowly but surely changed. Though he wasn't training much himself, he had been helping guide others in their training after they saw how much progress Gareth had made in such a short period of time.
The person to benefit the most from his guidance was none other than Artoria. She was going to be the one participating in the duel and, though her strength was already more than enough to defeat almost any foe, she was never complacent in her training.
Though they had to move their training to his personal orb, as it was rather embarrassing, Vahn had been helping Artoria refine her body and the holy energy contained within. Since her current body had been provided by him, she was extremely susceptible to the influence of his Source Energy. This had caused a few 'problems' in the beginning but, once she knew what to expect, Artoria was able to tolerate the procedure with a red face as she did her best to sit straight without fidgeting.
Artoria already had a functionally infinite amount of mana and EX-Ranked Magic Circuits so the main focus of her training was increasing her fine control over her mana and her maximum output. Right now, she was like a faucet that had been attached to a large pool. It was possible to force out more mana through the same opening but, as a result, Artoria would seriously damage her own body.
Without [Avalon]'s regeneration, Artoria wouldn't be able to make full use of her power, even while it was sealed. With it, so long as she could withstand torturous pain, Artoria was able to wield greater power without having to worry about the consequences. If she activated [Avalon]'s true power, she would temporarily become immortal while her maximum output had no upper limits.
While [Avalon] seemed to have no weaknesses, the truth was that it had numerous. Though it was almost impossible to exploit, Artoria couldn't actually attack while [Avalon] was active, meaning she had to use her [Instinct], monstrously high luck, and battle experience to attack in the brief interval when an enemy's attack had failed. This didn't matter against most foes but, if her opponent was clever enough, they could essentially force her to remain on the defensive without ever giving her the chance to attack.
The biggest weakness of [Avalon], however, was that it slowly ate away at Artoria's will to even do battle. Since Avalon was supposed to be a peaceful Utopia with various restrictions, Artoria admitted that her mind would begin to wander the longer she was inside. It was just too comfortable to stay inside so, rather than continue fighting hard battles, she would begin to develop the urge to just stop fighting and relax. Though it brought a ruddy blush to her cheeks, she compared it to how he would make her feel after 'tending' to her for a few hours.
In order to make her less reliant on [Avalon], Vahn was helping Artoria strengthen her body while she tempered her mind. She was using an A-Rank meditation technique called [Mind of the White Jade Empress] to unilaterally strengthen her soul while simultaneously cultivating a mentality that allowed for absolute focus. It also had the effect of purifying all forms of energy, further strengthening the Holy Elemental energy in her body.
Whenever Artoria was meditating, her body would be veiled in a white halo which, combined with her ethereal beauty, created a truly breathtaking sight. Though she was a very petite and delicate-looking woman, a noble and dignified aura would spread through the surroundings, giving her the presence of an inviolable Goddess. Knowing she was his Empress, Vahn was always filled with pride and a peculiar sense of 'awe' whenever he saw her in this state...
Curiously, while others would often produce a foul-smelling and murky substance whenever they began cultivating seriously, Artoria hadn't changed in the slightest. Her skin was pearl-white and entirely without blemish while her hair glistened like gold-dust, even in the low light of a candlelit room.
The only real change had been her eyes which, in the past, were a clear and pristine green that reflected a serene and confident light. Now, the green of her eyes had started to fade as a sheen of pure silver slowly replaced it. This made Artoria seem even nobler than before, causing anyone who made eye contact with her to feel a strong desire to look away and lower their head.
Artoria had been surprised when her eyes began to change colors but, as her strength was steadily increasing, she never once considered learning a new technique. Instead, she embraced the change and was looking forward to future changes as, for the past 37 years, her body had been stuck in the same state. Though she would like to 'grow' a bit more, having her eyes change color was enough to bring a smile to her face whenever she caught her own reflection...
WIth Artoria training hard, it was a given that Gray was putting in a considerable amount of effort herself. She had already returned Rhongomyniad to Artoria but, after a discussion with Vivian, her Mystic Codex, the sentient weapon Add, had been strengthened considerably. Though she had to have several restrictions placed on her, mainly to prevent Vivian from being corrupted if it was used for malicious purposes, Gray had no problem with this at all.
The main function of Add, which was its ability to transform into a variety of weapons, hadn't been changed in the slightest. Instead, it had been enchanted with several powerful enchantments, each formed from [Fairy Rune]s. This elevated it to the same level as a Noble Phantasm like Balmung and Excalibur, meaning her power would qualitatively increase, at least when she was wielding Add.
In total, Add had three enchantments placed on it, each placing a different restriction on Gray. This included a comparable level of regeneration to Artoria's [Avalon], albeit without the ability to place her body safely on the Reverse Side of the World. So long as her head was not instantaneously destroyed, she was functionally immortal.
Gray already had incredible regeneration due to her nature as a Dead Apostle so the main purpose of this enhancement was to conceal her identity. In exchange, the restriction placed on her was that she could only activate the enchantment 'with the intent to protect others'. Since her duty was to serve as Artoria's 'shadow', there would rarely, if ever, come a time when she was unable to make use of this enchantment...
The other two enchantments placed on Add were the truly important ones as they gave Gray an incredible amount of power, albeit at the cost of having powerful restrictions placed on her. This included allowing her to drain the power of others, absorbing mana and storing it inside of Add to further enhance her explosive damage potential. As for the final enchantment, it allowed her to 'cut through anything', including the void itself. In exchange, she could only use this ability when fighting against a 'foe that threatens the World' while her final restriction prevented her power from being used against 'an enemy weaker than herself'.
If the conditions were met, Gray could even rival A-Rank Heroic Spirits, placing her around the same level as Artoria in her sealed state. Since the only reason the enchantments wouldn't activate was if she were essentially fighting against someone weaker than herself, it was a tremendous boon that allowed her to fight almost indefinitely. After all, she continually siphon the magic power from her opponents and, with her constitution as a Dead Apostle, Gray had functionally infinite stamina.
With her increased capabilities, Gray had been taking her training very seriously so as not to be completely useless in her self-assigned task. She refused to be weak and defenseless so, knowing that the Bathomeloi family was targetting her, Gray had an even stronger drive that Artoria to grow stronger. When the duel came to an end, she intended to be one of the people fighting on the frontline, not someone stuck in the back being protected.
Vahn could, quite literally, feel Gray's conviction through the bond they shared. Thus, whilst Artoria and Scáthach were changing the lay of the land in their battle, he had the monochromatic girl in his lap as she, quite vigorously, sucked his blood. At the same time, he had his hand oner her back, one near her heart and the other adjacent to where her 'core' was located. He not only helped her refine her Magic Circuits further but also guided the Source Energy contained in his blood so that it had an even greater effect on her body.
Though he would never admit it, Vahn was quite fond of his time with Gray as, for obvious reasons, she reminded him a lot of Eva. He still had the latter's memory fragment curled up in a fetal position within his soul, patiently awaiting the day he would awaken her. Vahn knew she would lambast him for having so many women at his side but, with an eternity to share, he hoped she forgave him after a bit of coaxing.
Since she could sense his wayward thoughts, Gray began to put more effort into sucking his blood, causing Vahn to chuckle lightly as he stroked her back and whispered, "You're adorable..." This made the flush on her face even more prominent and, due to her face forming a smile, a trickle of blood managed to break free from where her lips were overlapped with his neck. After realizing this, Gray stopped sucking his blood before lowering her head and, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, licking up the trail of blood before it could stray too far.
After licking up the wayward blood, Gray licked her lips before looking up at him and opening her mouth, seemingly to show that she had swallowed it properly. This allowed Vahn to see her sharp canines and, feeling a little playful, he began to trace his thumb along her lip before bringing it to test how sharp her fangs were. They were, as expected, very sharp so, despite being immune to any attack beneath B-Rank, Vahn's thumb ended up getting pricked by the ivory white protrusion.
In response to her Master's antics, Gray closed her lips around his thumb and began to suckle on it while maintaining eye contact with him. This caused a smile to immediately spread across his face, something that made Gray's heart flutter madly in her chest. She began to breathe a little heavily through her nose but, before they could take things any further, a loud explosion rippled outward from several kilometers away. Immediately after that, a shockwave reached them but, using his domain, Vahn was easily able to dissipate the force contained within.
While still sitting in her Master's lap, Gray craned her head to see a large cloud of devastation as blue and scarlet mana fought for supremacy against each other. It looked like something you would only see at the end of the world, almost as if good and evil were fighting one final climactic battle. In this instance, 'evil' seemed to win out as, after several tense moments, the radiant blue energy was overwhelmed by the scarlet tempest.
Scáthach lacked the means to contest Artoria's [Avalon] but, in a direct engagement, she was still far more skilled than the golden-haired Knight Empress. With Vahn's 'fragment' inside of her body, she had a functionally infinite amount of mana with far greater mastery than Artoria. Though she might not be able to 'win' against [Avalon], there were several ways in which she could bring the fight to a favorable end.
This time around, Scáthach had used reddish-black chains to bind Artoria's body after separating her from [Excalibur]. Vahn could see that much of Artoria's armor had been destroyed, her right hand bound while her left hand was preventing a chain from wrapping around her neck. Unfortunately, she lacked the physical strength to contend against Scáthach and, without activating [Avalon], the chains had started to corrode at her flesh. This forced the overpowered Noble Phantasm to activate without her intent, bringing the fight to an end due to their prior agreement.
After the chains released her body, Artoria released a tired sigh as she shook her head and stated, "I still have a long way to go. Thank you for your guidance."
Despite being an Empress, Artoria still bowed toward Scáthach as, while the latter had significantly lower status, it was never improper to lower your head to someone willing to teach and help you. If she didn't have this type of personality, Scáthach wouldn't even bother to train her, despite having already acknowledged Artoria's potential.
Once Artoria raised her head, Scáthach gave an approving nod before saying, "Acknowledging one's own faults is necessary for growth. You have endless potential and an unwavering nature...I only wish my other student followed your example..."
As she spoke, Scáthach turned her eyes briefly toward where Vahn and Gray were waiting, causing Artoria to smile while shaking her head. She knew that Scáthach was being sincere but, while the cold beauty might not have realized it herself, many, included Artoria, had noticed the subtle change in her character. While her reasoning behind having Vahn take a break was sound, they speculated that Scáthach herself had needed a break from relentlessly beating her beloved pupil.
Though it would have been more prudent to stay silent, Artoria decided that it was her duty to take her husband's side on this matter. Her smile became slightly more pronounced as she firmly stated, "A time will come when Vahn has no equals in this world. You know better than most how lonely it is to be peerless...it is our duty to make sure he does not break from the burden."
While Artoria was speaking Scáthach had been staring directly at her with the same blank expression she was known for. In the end, however, the corner of her lips arced upward ever so slightly as she nodded her head and answered, "I know my duty well, Empress of Knights...so long as the possibility of death is not denied me, I will continue to support that man until he is satisfied..."
Artoria could sense the sincerity in Scáthach's words but, perhaps due to the Fate she was purported to have, she knew there was something 'more' behind the peerless warrior's words. This caused her heart to palpitate and, for a brief moment, Artoria felt a powerful urge to unleash her power against Scáthach...
Seeing how Artoria had reacted, Scáthach's smile became more prominent as she squinted her eyes and added, "You needn't worry...I am content playing the part I have been given..."
By the time Scáthach had finished speaking, her body had already vanished into thin air, making it impossible for even Artoria to sense her. This wasn't the normal way in which a Heroic Spirit would turn into a spirit, as Scáthach still had to wait up to an hour after combat. Instead, she was using a potent form of [Presence Concealment] in conjunction with several other Skills to make her presence within the void.
After witnessing this, Artoria felt even greater concern but, considering Scáthach's nature, she felt that her worries were unwarranted. Though she felt a primal sense of urgency, almost as if she was going to lose something intrinsic to her survival, Artoria's rational told her this wasn't the case. If anything, she felt threatened as a 'woman', something she had never experienced in regards to the other women at Vahn's side.
Though Vahn had incredible capabilities, to the point of even being able to conquer a Goddess with a Divinity related to Sex, Artoria felt that he would ultimately lose out against Scáthach. She didn't know why, but this actually terrified her quite a bit more than she expected. Something about Vahn being defeated in the bedroom filled her with an instinctual fear as, compared to all the fantastical things surrounding her Master and husband, the one thing she couldn't imagine was him losing at the thing he seemed peerless at...
Without her notice, several minutes had passed since Scáthach's departure. Artoria had just been standing in the middle of a devastated landscape with a thoughtful expression on her face. She didn't even notice when Vahn and Gray approaching her until his voiced reached her ears. This caused Artoria to startle before her face developed a deep flush when she saw how the two were looking at her.
Vahn was amused by Artoria's reaction and was planning to tease her a bit until, moments later, she shattered the foundation of everything he thought he knew by saying, "From now on, I want you to teach me how to have sex...I want to see the limits of your capabilities. Teach me everything and I'll do my best to improve so that you can polish your skills further..."
By the time Artoria finished her request, all three of them had scarlet red faces while Vahn's mind had stopped functioning entirely. He had no idea what brought this on but, seeing how 'serious' she was, Vahn felt like it was impossible to refuse. He was even beginning to feel a little nervous as, in the past, Artoria only ever had this expression when she was preparing for hard training. Though the blush was a new addition, he knew she wouldn't take no for an answer...
From that moment onward, Vahn's training with the two girls had an extra, infinitely more intimate component. Things progressed so quickly that, by the time he was preparing to summon Maxwell's Demon, Vahn had even awakened his first Divinity in the Nasuverse...one relating to Sex. At the same time, the girls around him all had glowing skin and happy smiles while Artoria and Gray, in particular, experienced a qualitative change in their strength and disposition...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Everyone is working hard (UwU)','Scátach's true intentions!?','( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)7...'
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