Chapter 160: Returning to the Hostess of Fertility

With the overexertion he felt, Vahn had to take a break for nearly two hours to recover his mental energy. By the time he had finished experimenting with [Eyes of Truth], it was near time for lunch and Vahn was a bit confused why everyone was still away. Since he was told not to do any work on the weekends, Vahn decided he would go out into the City before heading toward the Hostess of Fertility for a late lunch. Considering the time he spent in the dungeon, the nine days he was in a coma, and the six days he had been awake, it had been a long time since Vahn visited. A lot had changed in the time, and Vahn was looking forward to meeting Chloe again.

After securing the formations on his house, Vahn made his way along the sidepath of Tsubaki’s manor before stopping outside the entrance and heading inside. He hadn’t seen Naaza and Lili for nearly a week, and now that he had time, Vahn wanted to talk to the two girls a bit and invite them to eat lunch. Strangely, the perpetually open front door of Tsubaki’s manor was closed and Vahn realized the door was locked. Curious, Vahn expanded his domain and tried to sense if anyone was present. No matter how long he searched, Vahn was unable the presence of the three girls.

Vahn frowned, unsure of what was going on for both residences to be empty. The only time Tsubaki would ever be away is if she was leading the Hephaestus Familia into the dungeon on an expedition. But, even if that was the case, Vahn was certain she would have informed him, and it didn’t explain why Lili and Naaza were also missing. He began to suspect that there was something going on behind the scenes that he wasn’t told about, but couldn’t understand what would involve the members of both residences.

After waiting inside Tsubaki’s courtyard for nearly twenty minutes, Vahn heard a sound emitting from his stomach to indicate he was still hungry. Releasing a sigh, Vahn shook his head and decided there wasn’t anything that could happen, especially if they were all together. Pulling out a piece of seasoned jerky, Vahn began making his way leisurely toward the Hostess of Fertility. Vahn also figured he could stop by Hephaestus’s workshop and obtain answers directly from her.

As he wasn’t in a hurry, Vahn spent his time watching the people and taking in the sights of the City. Though it wasn’t his first time walking the route, everything seemed new with his enhanced perception and eyesight. The auras of everyone were a lot more clear than they were in the past, and Vahn could now identify the approximate strength of people at a glance. He was even able to see some relatively normal people that had large auras, and Vahn knew they were likely gods and goddesses of low ranked Familia. Vahn had never realized how many strong auras were in the City, and it made him feel a bit more humbled regarding his own strength.

Along the way, there were several girls that tried calling out to him, but Vahn just gave them polite smiles and a curt nod before continuing forward without slowing. Compared to the looks girls gave him in the past, Vahn could see a bit of a fervor in their expressions now and he was far more susceptible to their auras and spontaneous affections toward him. Though he knew none of them actually had feelings for him, Vahn was somewhat proud of the attention he was receiving. Even he had noticed how rapidly his looks had changed over the last week or so, and felt like he had hit a growth spurt and was maturing rapidly.

After nearly two hours, Vahn arrived outside the Hostess of Fertility and paused outside the doors like he had done so many times in the past. The aroma coming from the slightly ajar doors made him feel nostalgic, and he somewhat missed coming here every day for dinner. It had been even longer since he came on his own, so Vahn was looking forward to seeing and interacting with Chloe if she was working today.

Entering into the familiar pub, Vahn couldn’t help but smile as he took in the sights that he had grown attached to in the past. However, his smile changed a bit as a curious expression appeared on his face when he saw the two new girls that were attending customers. Though he couldn’t see Chloe around, Vahn did see two new, yet familiar faces attending to customers that he had been curious about in the past.

One of them, a beautiful young woman with light-grey hair and light-grey eyes, noticed his appearance and gave him a curious look before she smiled widely and approached Vahn. He recognized the girl as Syr Flova, one of the main characters that had been present within the manga. Vahn had been curious where she was all the other times he visited, but could never breach the subject since it didn’t make sense for him to know about her.

Once Syr got near Vahn, she said in a cheerful tone, “Welcome to the Hostess of Fertility. Will you be dining in with us?” As she asked the question, Syr was giving Vahn an appraising look with a gentle smile on her face. Vahn was somewhat influenced by the atmosphere and returned her smile, but instead of answering her question, he asked, “Is Chloe not working today?”

Syr tilted her head sideways with her index finger on her chin as she made a pleasant ‘Hnnnnn?’ sound before asking, “You know Chloe? Don’t tell me, are you Vahn Mason?” When she asked the question, Vahn felt like she had a glimmer in her eye and he even noticed her aura expanded by a slight margin. The reaction had stunned Vahn a bit, because he had never seen such a large aura on a mortal girl before.

Noticing the strange look he was giving her, Syr thought he was confused about why she knew who he was, so she explained, “Ah, don’t misunderstand. I heard about you from the other girls when I came back. I had been visiting Melen to assist in setting up a different pub for the last few months. When I came back, I heard all kinds of rumors, not just from the girls, but from the customers as well. You’re quite famous, Vahn.”

Hearing her words, Vahn felt his pride well up a bit as he asked, “It seems you know me, but may I ask who you are?” Vahn tried to be both polite while asking the question with a smile on his face. Syr was one of the people he had intended to meet when he came to the City, and now that he finally got to see her unique beauty, he was very satisfied. Every time he saw one of the characters from the manga in the flesh, Vahn always felt like he had reunited with someone he hadn’t seen in a long time.

Syr was a bit surprised with how ‘familiar’ and ‘casual’ Vahn was acting on their first meeting. Compared to most girls, she had an incredibly discerning eye, and for some reason, she felt like Vahn was strangely very familiar with her. Curious, she asked with a gentle expression and a warm smile on her face, “Have you never heard of me before?” As she asked the question, Vahn saw the same glimmer in her eyes that he had seen earlier.

Vahn shook his head as if to deny her question, but he also said, “I had known there was a beautiful ashen-haired beauty that worked at the Hostess of Fertility, but I never had the opportunity to meet her.” Vahn turned his eyes to the other woman he had seen earlier and continued, “The one I have truly never heard of is that elven girl.” Though Syr had detected there was a bit of misinformation in Vahn’s voice, she could also tell he was somehow being ‘sincere’, which was very confusing to her.

Syr turned her head to see where he was looking at and saw the elf, Ryuu Lion, the girl that had accompanied her to Melen. With a smile on her face, she turned to Vahn and explained, “Hnn, that girl is named Ryuu Lion, and my name is Syr Flova, just to answer your question from earlier.” When she introduced her name, she saw the ‘familiarity’ in Vahn’s eyes increase as his smile widened and he responded, “It is nice to meet you, Ms. Flova.”

Hearing the way Vahn addressed her, and the strange emphasis he put on the words, Syr couldn’t help but laugh a bit as she squinted her eyes at Vahn. Because of his apparent familiarity with her, it actually sounded strange when he addressed her with her last name. After she laughed, she showed a cheerful smile and said, “Please, Vahn, just call me Syr. I’ve already heard so much about you, that it already feels like we’re close friends. Please treat me well in the future.”

Vahn nodded his head and, with a smile on his face, said, “Of course, Syr.” Hearing the way he said her name, Syr almost laughed for a second time as she showed Vahn to a booth. Unlike the emphasis he placed on her last name, he spoke her first name with the same familiarity she had sensed from him previously. She had no doubts that Vahn had known about her, but she was somewhat curious about the source and reason why he would do so. No matter how she looked at him, there didn’t seem to be a single malicious bone in his body; it was almost like he was a kid that had just recently found his way into the world.

After taking his order, Syr tended to other customers and made polite conversation with everyone. Vahn had followed her periodically with his eyes, and he noticed she was incredibly popular amongst the regulars in the pub. She seemed to remember everyone’s name and livened up the atmosphere of the pub on her own. There were a few times when he had been staring at her, that she would look back and make eye contact with him before showing her characteristic cheerful smile.

Vahn had ordered the spaghetti that he had the very first time he visited the Hostess of Fertility, and it was a strangely nostalgic feeling as he enjoyed the savory meat sauce and delicious noodles. Meeting the remaining members of the Hostess of Fertility, Vahn began to think more about the original story and the plot that should take place in the future. He knew that he had irrevocably changed how events would play out, but he still had a bit of anticipation for what was to come.

Though he had every intention of marrying Hephaestus and Eina and even planned to continue his relationships with other pivotal characters like Ais and Tiona, Vahn still had a few desires that he had possessed since the moment he arrived in this record. He still wanted to join the Hestia Familia, and he also wanted to meet Bell and adventure together. Though he was currently much stronger than Bell and had likely changed the events that would transpire, Vahn still wanted to associate with the protagonist of the original story. Vahn had always admired his character and thought they could be good friends in the future.

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Vahn had a happy smile on his face as he enjoyed the delicious food while imagining what would take place in the future. So much had changed for him recently, and there were now many things he wanted to see and experience in this world. While he was lost in thought, he could sense two auras approaching him and turned to see Syr escorting Ryuu who had a plain look on her face. Vahn could see that her aura was somewhat mellow, and there was a surprising lack of emotions in both her aura and on her face.

Syr had been slightly pushing Ryuu forward as she began introducing the two, “Ryuu, this is Vahn Mason, the boy concerning all of the recent rumors. Vahn, this is Ryuu Lion, she has been working here for a few years and is quite a popular girl.” As the two had approached, Vahn wanted to make a good impression so he stood to receive them.

Since he had read several books on customs and traditions, Vahn actually gave a proper elven greeting as he bowed slightly toward Ryuu and held her left hand in his right palm and said, “It is good to meet you, Ms. Lion.” Syr’s eyes had widened when Vahn grabbed Ryu’s hand, while Ryu herself stared at the touching palms before turning her face away slightly and saying, “It is nice to meet you as well, Vahn Mason.”

After she finished her words, she pulled her hand away from him and quickly returned to her duties. Vahn followed her back with his eyes and couldn’t help but smile a bit after hearing the notification from his system. Generally speaking, whenever Vahn first met someone, they would have an affection value of 50(neutral), but after he had taken Ryuu’s hand for the greeting, her affection had jumped 21 points in a single go. He didn’t know how he was able to make such an impact on her in their first meeting but was glad he was able to do so. Though it never went over it in the manga, at least till the volumes he had read, Vahn knew Ryuu had a tragic past of her own. If he could, he wanted to help her overcome it in the future.

Syr looked at Vahn with an incredibly curious expression on her face as she watched him stare at the back of Ryuu. She could see that he treated Ryuu with the same type of familiarity as he showed her, and it was an incredibly interesting and peculiar matter to consider. She even suspected that he knew about Ryuu’s aversion to letting people touch her and that she had placed a certain significance regarding men that grabbed her hands. If it weren’t for the clear eyes and naive face of the handsome young boy, Syr would have considered Vahn the scheming type. But, no matter how she looked at him, she didn’t get that sense at all, and it made her interest in Vahn grow exponentially.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Poster Girls Appear’,’Where is Everyone?’,’Touching hands…LEWD!’)

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