Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos

Chapter 1545: Study : Abroad




After teaching the Third Princess how to properly use the bracelet, Vahn spent a bit of time just answering her questions and teaching her about Magic. The diorama had a time dilation of 24:1, so, even if he stayed inside for a few hours, it wouldn't make too much of a difference.


Vahn knew the majority of Mages in the Akamatsuverse required a catalyst such as a wand or a staff to properly cast Magic. They were often formed of a magically conductive material and could be further engraved to enhance certain elemental affinities. This allowed specialists to greatly increase their power, but, as a result of using tools their entire lives, most Mages were helpless once they were disarmed.


As a member of the Imperial Family, Theo had been drilled on manipulating magical energy without a catalyst from a very young age. This was to ensure she could always defend herself in an emergency, but, due to her nature, she actually had more talent for reinforcement type spells than her actual elements, Light and Lightning. She was the type that would rather beat someone with her own hands and feet, but, due to the education imposed upon her, she was not able to truly shine.


Though there was nothing wrong with becoming a Magic-Knight, developing both Magical Power and Ki alongside each other, the Hellas Empire still had dated views on how males and females who behave as members of the Aristocracy. The boys were often given an education related to military strategy, commanding troops, and wielding armaments. The girls, however, were taught to focus on etiquette, diplomacy, and long-range support spells. This might seem like a rather misogynistic system, but the primary purpose was to prevent female Aristocrats from falling into the hands of enemy nations.


If a Prince were captured, they would generally be ransomed for a handsome reward before ultimately being returned to their home country. Princesses, however, often experienced far more tragic ends, often becoming mere prizes that were used to flaunt the status of the ones who had been able to capture them. Their treatment was often far worse, as, even if they had a high amount of political value, that only further incentivized enemies to hold onto them in order to pressure and shame the country they had been stolen from.


Sadly, much like every Record he had visited thus far, there seemed to be a disparity in the treatment between men and women within the Akamatsuverse. Vahn knew the reasons for this, but that didn't make it any easier to swallow. As a result, he didn't mind teaching Theo a few tricks that just might save her life in the future. He also encouraged her to learn from Jack himself, but, much to his surprise, she rebutted him.


According to Theo, Jack was a 'perverted idiot who doesn't know how to explain things in a way other people can understand'. It seemed that she had tried to learn from him a few times, but, in the end, most of his lessons devolved into little more than repetitive exercises and live combat practice. Both of these things were very important for anyone who wanted to become strong, but, due to the vast power disparity, Jack wasn't really qualified to teach others. Most of his training methods also involved forming an armor-like layer of red muscle to protect the body, so, after developing abs and biceps in a very short period of time, Theo decided Jack's training methods simply weren't for her.


Despite her tomboyish nature, Theo had been educated as a 'young lady' since birth so she still cared about her appearance. Just the thought of turning into a 'muscled gorilla' like Jack had nearly deterred her from trying to become a Magic Knight, but, after learning about the existence of female Ki Masters, wielding monstrous power despite their petite and flexible frames, she became more motivated.


Unfortunately, finding a Ki Master within the Hellas Empire was very difficult as it was infinitely easier to comprehend the mysterious internal energy in areas with limited mana. This meant the most proficient Ki Users typically came from Earth, remaining there until they had finished building their foundation. It was only after they reached the bottleneck faced by nearly every Ki User that they began their pilgrimage to the Magical World.


Since it was virtually impossible to find an unaffiliated Master who was also willing to teach their secret techniques to outsiders, learning how to manipulated Ki was no simple feat. It was even harder for someone like Theo, who, as a result of her Hellasian heritage, already had a massive amount of magical power inside her body. This was true for all Hellasians, but, as a member of the Imperial Family, Theo's path was like the proverbial carp attempting to climb a waterfall in order to become a dragon.


Fortunately, when it came to internal control, meditation, and even Ki techniques, there were very few people more knowledgeable than Vahn. He had, quite literally, millions of texts that directly related to the topics, and, after a cursory analysis of Theo's constitution and affinities, it was a relatively simple matter to set her on a relatively smooth path. He just needed to give her suitable cultivation, meditation, and breathing techniques. After that, he helped guide the energy in her body so that she could familiarize herself with properly circulating Ki. Everything else would rely on her own efforts, but, with a 24:1 diorama, her potential would undoubtedly blossom in a very short period of time...


---


After refusing Theo's attempts to get him to remain for a few days, Vahn returned to where he and Medusa were waiting before canceling his manifestation and setting out under the cover of darkness. He had likely changed the fate of the Hellas Empire quite a bit just by cleaning up the Coliseum, boosting Jack's reputation, and teaching Theo how to grow stronger. He would probably need to lend them a hand in the future, but, for the time being, he had set his sights on the most famous location of Mundus Magius: Ostia, Capital of the Vespertatia Kingdom.


Though it would probably throw a massive wrench in the canon history, Vahn had never cared about sticking to conventions. He knew the country was ill-fated, having less than three years until its destruction, so there was little sense in just waiting around. It might be better to focus on increasing his strength until the Great Magic War began, but, in that time period, millions of people might die. While this had very little to do with him, Vahn wasn't the type of person that would just sit on the sidelines and allow the innocent to suffer for the sake of some 'plot'.


After reaching the fabled kingdom, Vahn intended to look around for a bit to see if he could uncover any of Cosmo Entelecheia's henchmen. There was even a chance he would find their actual base of operations, and, though it would likely be very difficult to just storm the place, it was an absolute advantage knowing where it was. If the members of Ala Rubra had been able to storm the place, the likelihood of them being able to stop him from teleporting around was slim. If he managed to create a spatial anchor to pinpoint the location, there was a fair chance he might even be able to simply 'nuke' the location from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away using his Lightning or Light Emperor raiments.


Imagining the looks on his enemies' faces as he bombarded them from a distance they likely had no means to cover, a smile spread across Vahn's face. He rarely 'played fair' when it came to villains, especially those who arbitrarily perpetuated things like slavery and the suppression of species. They likely had some grand ambition or some higher cause, but, regardless of the merit behind their argument, their methods had earned his ire. He might not completely wipe them out, but, if they refused to pursue a less destructive path, Vahn would allow them to feel the helplessness of their victims...


---


With the Magical World only being around a third the size of Earth, it only took a few hours to fly between the Hellas Empire and the Kingdom of Vespertatia. He could have completed the trip even faster, but, just like back in the Nasuverse, Vahn generally enjoyed flying around. He enjoyed the feeling of the wind passing through his hair, and, with various creatures such as giant birds and even dragons flying around, Mundus Magicus was truly a sight to behold from above.


After passing a few places he was interested in touring at some point, such as Elfenhof and Al Jamira, Vahn finally reached the pale-blue shores that denoted the beginning of Vespertatian territory. Here, the concentration of mana was higher than virtually any other region found in the Magical World, and, as a result, Vahn could see countless Elementals frolicking amongst the dense, ruin-pocked, forests. Though there was also the occasional scene of some massive creatures fighting over territory, Vespertatia gave off the impression of a land untouched by the corruptive influence of civilization...


Ignoring his urge to just touch down and explore the forest for a couple of days, Vahn set his sights on a rather fantastic sight, even in a place called the Magical World: a series of massive islands floating in the sky. This was the Capital of the Vespertatian Kingdom, an archipelago of floating islands that were collectively known as Ostia, home to millions. It was one of the few places where you could find humans and demihumans coexisting without any racial tensions, as, due to the limited living space, Ostia was very selective about who could reside there.


Vahn found the idea of separating civilization and nature in this manner to be a rather novel idea. Not only was it an awe-inspiring sight to behold, but, perhaps due to the limitations that came with governing such a nation, the islands were exceptionally peaceful. Though they had a military, the main focus of Vespertatia was on magical research, academics, and reclaiming lost arts through archeological surveys and the analysis of ancient relics...


---


After passing largely undetected through the various barriers that surrounded the series of floating islands, Vahn found a relatively discreet location to touch down. Flight magic wasn't particularly rare in Mundus Magicus, but, unless you had something like a broom or a unique artifact, you would stand out quite a bit. Since Ostia was a relatively restricted area, they had very strict policies regarding who entered and exited the city. Customs officials in the form of Valkyrie-like Knights were constantly on patrol for any suspicious individuals, walking around with rather futuristic devices that could identify a person from their magic signature. This was a countermeasure against Transformation, Disguise, and other forms of Magic that were well-suited to things like espionage.


Though their policies seemed unnecessarily strict, it wasn't difficult to understand the reason behind their caution when you imagined the aftermath of massive islands falling from the sky. Ostia was effectively a collection of giant meteors that made the one that killed the Dinosaurs seem small in comparison. They may only float around 5km above the surface, but that was more than enough to trigger a devastating mass-extinction event. This was one of the reasons that Ostia was able to act as a mediator in several conflicts, as, not only did they possess some of the strongest magic users in the world, but, even if you could fight them, the consequences were, potentially, 'very' devastating.


Seeing the islands for himself, Vahn could easily understand why Arika, the future Queen of Vespertatia, had chosen to crash land Ostia into the continental shelf. Though this earned her the title of 'Queen of Calamity', it prevented Cosmo Entelecheia from completing their main objective while also ensuring that Ostia could never be used as a weapon. It was something very few would be able to pull off in her position, and, if not for the fact she had effectively turned her entire population into slaves, Vahn would have had a great deal of respect for the woman who was undoubtedly one of the Record's heroines...


---


As Medusa stood out quite a bit, Vahn had split into two forms, one idling about in the forests of Vespertatia as his main body explored the magical city. He noticed that people used Magic for virtually everything in Ostia, be it lighting, climate control, and waste management. There was even a network of interconnected formations that spanned the entirety of the city, making it impossible to enter certain places unless you had permission to. This made it even harder to infiltrate without first passing through Customs, but, after changing his appearance to one of the sleeping residents, Vahn was able to trespass freely. He didn't know what would happen if the formations detected the same person in two separate locations, but, regardless of what happened, he would be able to escape.


Using his borrowed form, Vahn walked through the neatly maintained streets that were lined with large buildings, some more than twenty-stories tall. Space was limited on Ostia so most buildings, including the monstrous palace complex located on its own personal island, were built to occupy more space vertically than horizontally. They were constructed from a type of white stone that appeared to be some kind of magically reinforced concrete. This would have given the city a very 'samey' appearance, so, to offset this, various types of plants were grown in, on, and around each structure.


Seeing how neatly maintained everything was, combined with how polite and respectful the citizens were in passing, Vahn's first impressions of Ostia were quite high. It might feel a little bit stuffy, especially with vigilant patrols constantly gliding between the buildings, but the vast majority of residents seemed truly happy. He hadn't seen a single instance of a stable human and demihuman family in the Hellas Empire, but, here in Ostia, it seemed common. This was likely due to many couples migrating to Ostia after falling in love, turning the city into a haven for those who were unfairly ostracized by their home countries.


Though Ostia undoubtedly had its fair share of problems, population and resources being the two most notable, it was easily the most progressive nation prior to the Great Magic War. This made it worth protecting, so, after spending more than an hour just watching people happily go about their lives, Vahn began making his way toward the larger of the Palaces located near the westernmost region of Ostia. There were more than a dozen total palatial structures, but, as was often the case, Vahn assumed the largest belonged to the reigning Queen, Anarchia Entheofushia, the sickly mother of the future queen, Arika Anarchia Entheofushia.


The Ostian Royal Family was a matriarchal lineage that had developed the habit of naming their Descendents in accordance with their ancestral Matriarchs. This meant that, as the future Queen of Vespertatia, Arika inherited the name of her mother and grandmother. Her firstborn daughter would then inherit her name, and, until the line of succession branched, this would continue regardless of how many names a person inherited. Vahn found this to be more than a little 'excessive', but, as his own Empire had quite a few unique traditions, he decided not to judge...


(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Theo about to become the new protagonist','Vahn actually managed to avoid stopping over at a country of Elves!?','Imagine a ninth-generation Queen ('o .o)...')


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