As Vahn was exiting Naaza’s room, he made his way towards the reception area where he saw Tsubaki powdering a long claymore-like weapon. She looked toward him and smiled slightly before saying, “Next time I see you acting up, don’t blame me for bullying you. Try something like that little stunt again and you’ll be lucky to walk away the same day.” Vahn nodded and made his way toward the exit, but stopped before crossing the threshold.
Turning around, Vahn smiled and said in a cheeky manner to Tsubaki who had been following his back as he left, “I’ll just become strong enough to get away with it.” The moment he finished the words, Vahn lunged forward and rolled along the ground as the claymore that had been in Tsubaki’s hand pierced through the place he had previously stood. Bounding to his feet, Vahn ran out of the courtyard while laughing at the raging Cyclops behind him.
Tsubaki walked out of her workshop and picked up the claymore that had been lodged into the ground. She knew Vahn was ready to dodge her attack, but she decided to play along with his little ‘play’. Looking at the direction he had retreated, Tsubaki smiled before saying, “Kids growing up faster and faster. Hope he doesn’t get hurt too badly.” Shouldering the claymore, she turned and walked back inside her workshop.
Vahn noticed that Tsubaki hadn’t chased after him, so he slowed his speed until he came to a complete stop. Teasing Tsubaki, who had tormented him so much in the past, was very fulfilling and Vahn resolved himself to continue doing so in the future. Even if she got very angry with him, Vahn knew that she wouldn’t intentionally harm him just for messing around. At this point, it was nearly 3 PM, and Vahn didn’t really have anything to do so he decided to walk around the City.
Unlike his typical, fast-paced, movements, Vahn leisurely strolls through the City and just ‘experienced’ the sights and sounds of the people. Though all the people were strangers to him, Vahn noticed that the majority of people had neutral or even positive impressions of him. Unlike when he had first entered the City, people looked at him with smiles instead of intrigue or disgust.
There were even several women, both young and old, that would try to call out to him or strike up a conversation with the ‘handsome’ boy. Vahn found many of them to be very cute, and even some of the mature women were very charming, but he just gave them curt responses and nods as he continued walking through the City. Considering all of the things he had been wrapped up in lately, Vahn couldn’t divert his attention to people that had yet to influence his life.
Using the opportunity, Vahn decided to map areas of the City he had never visited and started thinking about appropriate places for his upcoming date with Eina. Since Vahn had decided to make an effort, he felt like he owed it to Eina to make the date enjoyable. Though he didn’t know much about her, he assumed she would like to stroll around and go shopping like most of the girls he had seen. Vahn visited several scenic locations and marked them on his map while trying various foods from stalls along the paths.
Vahn really enjoyed the food in Orario, as there seemed to be an infinite variety to enjoy. Though he still loved the food at the Hostess of Fertility the most, Vahn had yet to find anything that was unpalatable amongst any of the vendors in the City. He especially enjoyed seafood, and the crepes he often ate had quickly become one of his favorite foods. Using his newfound wealth, Vahn tried the food at nearly twenty different places before bringing his journey to an end.
Anything that he liked, Vahn had purchased a large amount of it and stowed it away in his inventory when nobody was looking. He could eat the dishes later, or even give it to the children once he returned. Vahn was especially fond of sharing the things he enjoyed with others, and he looked forward to the expressions they would have when he gave them the delicious food.
Vahn arrived at his own workshop/house at around 8 PM and made his way through the courtyard and into the foyer. Curiously, the moment he entered, Anubis was patiently waiting to receive him. She smiled and said, “Welcome back, Master.” Vahn nodded his head and asked, “Where are the children now?” Anubis raised her brows after seeing how composed was as she responded, “They are waiting in the dining room for your return. As members of your ‘pack’, they will not eat until you tell them or until you arrive.”
Imagining the seven kids sitting around and patiently waiting, Vahn felt a strange emotion, but it didn’t cause him any discomfort as he had expected. Walking forward, he placed his palm on Anubis’s head and stroked her ears a bit before pulling away. Anubis seemed surprised by his actions, but before she spoke, Vahn said, “You were waiting for me to return as well, right?” Walking by her, Vahn called out as he passed into the corridor, “Let’s go, I’m not fond of keeping people waiting long.”
After his exchange with Tsubaki, Vahn now decided to face his matters head-on. If he had to be an ‘Alpha’ within his household, he would do his best until the children became self-reliant. If Anubis was going to call him ‘Master’, he would act the role to the best of his ability in order to match her resolve. Moments after he left her behind, Vahn heard a notification in his mind that told him her Loyalty had increased to 91 which brought a smile to his face.
As expected, the moment Vahn entered the dining room, the kids were waiting in a semi-circle that had a space reserved for him. He complained to himself that he should have purchased a low table for everyone to sit at, as sitting on the floor seemed a bit strange after he had adapted to living at Tsubaki’s manor. Without a word, Vahn sat down at his designated position and waiting for Anubis to take her spot to his left.
Seeing that she sat outside of the circle, Vahn turned to the kids and said, “Open the circle a bit; make room for Anubis.” The kids had been paying attention to Vahn ever since he entered, and the moment his words fell they made enough space so that Anubis could sit within the circle. Vahn looked toward Anubis and she matched his gaze before rising and reseating herself next to him.
Once she sat down, Vahn spoke, “From now on, we eat together unless the situation prevents us from doing so. Anubis is the Goddess of your Familia, and though you may have a reverence toward her, you should treat her as a family member from now on. As long as you recognize me as the ‘Alpha’, you will continue to abide by this simple rule, understood?” His voice was firm, and Vahn wanted them to know he was absolutely serious.
Rasui was the first to speak out and loudly responded, “Yes, Master Vahn!” Moments after his voice fell, all the other kids repeated the words in concert. Vahn nodded his head before removing one of the dishes he had stored into his inventory. First passing it to Anubis, she began distributing food to everyone in the circle. Vahn thought her act was very motherly, and he wanted her to get closer to the children if possible. Seeing the melancholy on her face earlier, made him slightly uncomfortable.
Vahn continued conjuring more food, with each new dish bringing a surprised expression to each of the children. In their eyes, Vahn was essentially pulling delicious food out of thin air, and any inhibitions they may have had toward him seemed to quickly diminish within their minds. Each person received a dish from Anubis, who presented them with a cheerful smile on her face. Once everyone had food in front of them, Vahn realized he hadn’t actually stored any beverages.
Seeing the anticipatory looks for the kids, he felt like he was going to end up in an embarrassing predicament before Anubis spoke out from his left. “Now that everyone has received food, I’ll go ahead and prepare tea. You all should converse with our Master and patient await my return, okay?”
The kids nodded after hearing Anubis’s words, and she slightly bowed towards Vahn with a bemused expression before heading into the kitchen.
Vahn realized that it wasn’t just him paying attention to Anubis, but she was also taking into consideration his thoughts and actions. The moment she noticed he hadn’t prepared anything to drink, she immediately stepped in and drew the attention away from him. Afterward, she excused herself to cover for his mistake and even opened the floor so the kids would converse with him openly. Vahn laughed to himself as he marveled at the awareness and adaptability of a goddess that had lived in the mortal world for three-hundred years.
He began making casual conversation with the children, and they seemed to appreciate the opportunity. Though they still spoke in a deferential manner, Vahn noticed they were making an effort to meet both his and Anubis’s expectations. He realized they were a lot like he was, how he was always trying to please those he cared about. This recognition made Vahn feel more self-aware and he swore in his own mind to match their expectations as well as he was able.
The only ones that seemed to have any major inhibitions were the two sitting the furthest from his current position, the two young girls named Maat and Nanu. Vahn felt guilty every time he saw them because it always brought back memories of when he had shot the two with arrows. He knew he didn’t have any room to apologize, so he just promised to treat them well in the future.
After a few minutes, Anubis returned with a tray for of empty cups and a large kettle of tea. Resuming her position next to Vahn, she poured each cup individually before passing them around the circle. Once everyone had a cup, the entire group looked toward Vahn with expectations in their eyes. Seeing their expressions, he smiled before raising a portion of the chicken that comprised his meal. He wasn’t that hungry, as he had eaten plenty throughout the day, but he still prepared to take a bit before saying, “Let’s eat.” The moment he finished his words, he took a bit of the crispy meat and watched as the kids started politely eating away at their meals.
Seeing their manners, Vahn actually felt a little embarrassed since he had picked up the good with his bare hands before confidently taking a bite. He never expected such young children to be so disciplined when it came to eating. To his left, he heard a slight laugh and looked over to see Anubis staring at him with a smile as she slowly picked away at the food on her plate. Vahn felt even more embarrassed after seeing her actions and immediately understood where the kids’ table manners came from.
After the meal, Vahn had the kids do some stretching exercises before telling them to prepare for the bath. He went ahead and led the exercise, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the repetitive routine as the mimicked his actions with smiles while their tails wagged back and forth. Once everyone had burned some energy, she told the girls they could take a bath first and that the boys would enter later.
The entire group stared at him like he had something strange, so Vahn looked toward Anubis and she explained, “They are all children, and we rarely had access to anything like an actual bath. Usually, they would help each other bathe with a bucket of water and a damp cloth.” Vahn realized that his sensibilities had changed a bit recently. Even he wasn’t concerned with bathing with the opposite gender just recently, but now he was paying more attention to matters and tried to segregate the two groups.
While he was lost in thoughts, Anubis spoke out at his side, “The bath is plenty large to accommodate everyone. You shouldn’t worry too much and just enter with them. If you start treating them like adults before they mature, they might develop strange thoughts about the hierarchy.” Her words were incredibly low, and Vahn noticed that the children made an effort to ignore what she was saying. As they had sensitive ears, Vahn knew they would be able to hear her if they made an effort.
Vahn realized he underestimated the hierarchal relationship that Anubis kept bringing up. Resolving his mind, he turned to the kids and said, “Okay, we’ll enter together. Work together and make sure everyone is properly clean.” Finishing his words, Vahn let the way into the bath and began undressing. He noticed that, even when the children entered after him, as long as he remembered his role as the ‘Alpha’, he was able to keep his calm easily. Vahn never cared about being seen naked, to begin with, and realized there was no reason to concern himself with others either.
The problem came shortly after when Vahn had undressed completely and was making his way to the bath. Other than the children, Anubis also entered and began undressing in a casual manner. Though Vahn typically didn’t care and had even bathed with women often, his interactions with Anubis today had left an impression on his mind.
Vahn noticed there was exotic quality to her body compared to the other women he had seen. Her olive-brown skin seemed to have a slightly golden hue as it reflected the light. She had a slim and tight figure with almost no fat on her body at all, and Vahn could see the muscles of her body stretch and contract with her movements. It was one of the few times Vahn had ever proactively watched a woman undress, and each garment that she removed seemed to increase the tensions building in his body.
Eventually, Anubis had discarded all of her clothes and turned toward Vahn and the bath. The moment she turned, Vahn got a full glimpse of her figure as she too stared at him. Both of their eyes opened wide as they viewed the other. Vahn could tell that Anubis was around 166cm tall and he found every aspect of her body to be nearly flawless. She had medium sized breasts, probably around 82cm, a thin and exotic curve to her 58cm wide hips, and a pert and full waistline that balanced out her figure at 84cm. The most surprising thing to Vahn was, unlike the majority of girls he had seen, Anubis had no hair on her body other than her hair, ears, brows, and tail.
As Vahn had been taking in the sight of her body with an undisguised intrigue, Anubis was simply shocked at the sight around his waist. Though she considered Vahn an adult, she still thought he was similar to a child in some aspects. However, there was no way she could consider Vahn a ‘child’ after seeing how ‘mature’ his body was. Though she had some experience with other gods in Heaven, Anubis had never seen anything comparable to Vahn. Because of her pride, she had avoided interactions with mortal men, but Vahn actually made her heart begin to beat at a marginally faster pace.
Suddenly, as if not sure what else to say, Vahn asked, “You’re going to join as well?” Anubis snapped awake and matched his eyes as she responded, “You are my Master, if you are going to bathe with the children, I need to be present. If I take a bath on my own later, it will interfere with the hierarchy…” Anubis spoke the words slowly, but she couldn’t help but feel a little apprehensive after realizing the current situation.
Vahn seemed to accept her explanation as he turned toward the bath where the other kids were already helping clean each other. “Very well, lets go…” Though Vahn tried to say the words with ‘conviction’, he couldn’t help but let his statement trail at the end. Taking a deep breath, he moved forward and entered the bath with the other seven. Moments later, Anubis also entered and sat to his left as she said, “I will wash your back, Master.”
Vahn had thought he was becoming used to the form of address, but this time he seemed to take a critical damage to his mind. He blanked out for a moment before he could feel a warm sponge touch his shoulder. Anubis had already begun washing his back, and Vahn decided to just go with the flow. He noticed that the kids would give them looks periodically, and Vahn felt he needed to maintain his image. Taking slow breaths, he calmed himself and just enjoyed the comfort brought by the warm water.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The beast appears’,’Exploration, Discovery’,’A Delicious Meal’)