After parting ways with the Mother-Daughter duo of Milan and Tina, Vahn headed toward his intended destination in high spirits. He was happy that he would be able to help ease the burden of Milan’s loneliness and intended to help her take care of Tina. He didn’t particularly want a sexual relationship with either of the girls; Vahn just wanted to take care of them both so they would be happier in the future. Though he couldn’t replace Milan’s husband or Tina’s father, he still wanted to do his best for the kind and caring pair of girls.
Vahn arrived outside Hephaestus’s workshop soon after leaving the Inn and was informed by Zaff that he was allowed entrance to her office without having to notify her of his arrival. Zaff then handed him a key that could open the door to Hephaestus’s workshop and Vahn made his way through the corridors with a big smile on his face. Vahn now had one of the only keys that provided access to Hephaestus’s personal forge, with the only others belonging to Tsubaki and Hephaestus herself.
Remembering that Tsubaki had knocked before entering previously, Vahn gave an indication of his arrival as he inserted the key and opened the door. Hephaestus was sitting at a low table with a special cloth used to polish weapons as she turned her head to acknowledge his arrival. Before she could greet him, Vahn said, “You’re looking particularly beautiful today…my wife~”
The small smile on Hephaestus’s face after she noticed Vahn was the one entering the office froze as she processed the words he just spoke. This was the first time they were meeting after being engaged, and she was caught off guard by how he addressed her. After a few seconds, her face began to develop a blush as Vahn closed the distance between them.
Vahn extended his hand and helped her stand before holding her in his embrace and kissing her flushed face on the lips. Hephaestus was still a little disoriented, but she began reciprocating his affectionate embrace after a brief delay. The two kissed for nearly a full minute before Hephaestus swatted his hands away when he tried to grab her butt. With an ‘angry’ look on her face, she asked, “What did you come here for today, Vahn? Did you just want to see me, or was there a purpose to your visit?”
Vahn nodded in response and answered honestly, “It’s both; I wanted to see you since it felt like a long time since we were together, but I also had something I wanted to show you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” As they were still embracing, Vahn kissed her on the lips again before pulling away a bit so he could show her the item he had brought.
Hephaestus couldn’t help but feel that Vahn had become much more assertive than the last time she had seen him, and his actions made her feel a little excited. She noticed that, even though he acted affectionately, he still had much more self-control and confidence in his actions. Unlike his previous self that often sought her out more and pushed his limits, now he was more playful and teasing than overbearing. However, her pleasant surprise at his change turned into shock after she saw the item he pulled out of thin air.
Vahn had removed his [Lævateinn] from his inventory and presented it to her while explaining its use and cautioning her against swinging it around indoors. Hephaestus reached for the handle of the blade with clear intrigue on her face as she held up the sword and marveled at its structure. She couldn’t help but ask with a tinge of disbelief in her voice, “You…forged this sword?” If that were true, Vahn would have clearly reached the level of a [Master Smith] in the brief period they had been separated. She began to feel a bit of excitement build up inside of her the moment she saw him begin to nod his head.
Vahn nodded but explained, “I forged it, but I haven’t awakened the [Master Smith] skill yet. I used a special technique to imbue a ‘fate’ or a ‘legend’ into the blade and elevated it to its current status.” Vahn then went on to explain the basic premise for his ‘naming’ ability and showed her the [Dance of the Amazon] and [Gram] that had also been forged by him earlier in the week.
Hephaestus inspected the three different weapons with a serious look as she used several tools along with her ‘gods eye’ to investigate the structure and composition of the weapons. Even excluding the [Lævateinn], the other two weapons were clearly crafted with exquisite technique. She looked at Vahn like she was appraising a treasure as she said, “Take off your shirt, I want to check your Status…”
Vahn immediately complied with her demand and laughed when he saw her blushing slightly the moment he removed his tunic. Hephaestus saw his ‘cheeky’ smile and smacked him on the back as she ushered him to lay down on the couch. The moment he laid down, Vahn closed his eyes and smelled the couch before she could do anything to stop him. Her face immediately flushed a deep crimson as Vahn said, “Its a pleasant smell…makes my heart itch a bit.”
Hephaestus took several deep breaths to calm herself and somewhat lamented how casually he could say such words. She knew he was teasing her, and it made her feel a mixture of emotions that were hard to explain. Before he could continue smelling the couch, she twisted his neck and demanding that he stay focused as she began conducting the ceremony to view his status. When she saw the various changes in his parameters and the growth of his skills, Hephaestus couldn’t prevent shock from settling in her mind.
Name: [Vahn Mason]
Skills: [Bow Mastery:B], [Stealth:C], [Chainbreaker:S], [Call of the Reaper:B],[Yggdrasil’s Favor:S], [Veil of the Traveler: S], [Swordsman:A], [Featherfoot:B], [Hands of Nirvana:S], [Prometheus], [Hearts of the Eternal Flame:SS], [Metallurgy:B], [Fist Strike:B], [Friend of Spirits:A]
Development Abilities: [Wound Transfer: A], [Spirit Healing: A], [Blacksmith: S]
Though the changes in his parameters, especially his Magic, had surprised her, the biggest things that caught Hephaestus’s eyes were the changes to his skills as well as a very important matter. She looked at Vahn with a questioning gaze and her brows slightly furrowed as she asked, “When did you turn fifteen?”
Vahn was surprised by her question for a moment before he received the information from Sis. He looked to her and explained plainly, “It should have been on Wednesday, earlier this week. Why do you ask?” The moment his words finished, Hephaestus actually slapped him on his lower back with her palm as she loudly asked, “Why didn’t you tell me!? Tell me honestly Vahn, who knew about this and kept it from me!?”
Her reaction had surprised him a great deal and he couldn’t understand why she was making a big deal out of things. As she had asked, he explained honestly, “I didn’t tell anyone, Hephaestus. Why are you having such a strange reaction to such a thing?” Vahn was clearly very confused and Hephaestus saw it in his expression as she recalled his tragic past in her mind. After hanging her head in contemplation for a moment, she asked, “Vahn, have you…never celebrated your birthday before?”
In response to her strange question, Vahn shook his head and explained, “I’ve never celebrated my birthday in the past. Other than someone telling me my age had increased, I never really thought it was something worth celebrating.” Hearing his words, Hephaestus had a sad look on her face as she turned his body toward her and gently embraced his face into her chest.
Vahn was confused by her actions, but he understood that she was obviously distressed by his words. She was trying to comfort him, so he just allowed her to do as she pleased as he loosely wrapped his hands around her body and enjoyed the warmth of her body.
Hephaestus continued to stroke Vahn’s back with her hands as a bit of moisture began to build in her eyes. The fact that Vahn treated his own birthday in such a dismissive manner made her feel a painful feeling in her heart. She wanted to cry, but she also knew it would only make him try to comfort her instead. For now, she just continued to stroke his back to make sure he understood her concerns.
After a few minutes had passed, Hephaestus whispered to Vahn, “We should celebrate your birthday from now on…we can invite all the girls and turn it into a big event in the future…” In response to her words, Vahn just slightly nodded his head and uttered a quiet acknowledgment. He had been reading a bit of information about birthdays and learned that they were commonly celebrated events within most social groups and cultures. As he had never celebrated his own or been present for someone else’s, Vahn didn’t know about such customs previously.
For the next twenty minutes, Hephaestus continue to embrace Vahn as she asked him about other things that he might not have experienced. She discovered that Vahn had never experienced things like festivals, holidays, or new years celebrations. It was such a strange thing to consider that she, as well as the other girls around Vahn, had never even considered the matter before. Hephaestus swore to Vahn that they would celebrate every event together from now on.
Before Vahn left her workshop they had discussed gathering together a group of people to celebrate his birthday next weekend. Hephaestus said that she and Eina would coordinate the event and that Vahn should put the matter to the back of his mind so he could enjoy the experience in full when the time came. Vahn acceded to all of her requests and promised that he wouldn’t plan anything for the next weekend so that there wouldn’t be any issues. After that, the two kissed for nearly five minutes before Vahn finally left the warmth of Hephaestus’s office and the embrace of the beautiful goddess.
As he made his way toward the Twilight Manor, Vahn was lost in thought about the matters they had discussed. Now that he thought about it, he remembered that Ais had been intending to celebrate her birthday when he had visited last. Vahn realized that people considered it appropriate to celebrate such events and it brought them closer together while also serving as an important benchmark to allow reflection of the past and planning for the future.
Vahn imagined celebrating his birthday while surrounded by the people that he cared about and the thought itself made him feel warm and excited inside. Though it was only a week away, he began to look forward to the day and could hardly wait for the time to come. He set a mental reminder and a countdown to inform him of the event so he wouldn’t forget. Since he would spend more than a month in the orb in that span of time, Vahn was slightly afraid that he might forget the very event that he was looking forward to.
By the time Vahn arrived at the Twilight Manor, it was approaching noon and he was slightly afraid that he might miss the window to enter the orb. Fortunately, the time spent in the orb was only a few seconds in the real world, so it shouldn’t cause any problems if he uses the orb out of the view of others. The only thing he had to be worried about was forgetting what he was doing the moment before and after his return to the real world. Vahn had the strange thought of using the orb in the middle of a conversation and completely forgetting what it was about by the time he returned. Since it was a very embarrassing thought, he wanted to avoid ending up in that situation by all means.
Because of the past incident, Vahn was a very famous face within the Loki Familia and he got all kinds of reactions the moment he entered the reception area. There were several men that looked at him like he had stolen something from them while some of the girls gave him appraising looks which caused their auras to shift slightly towards yellow or sky blue. Vahn ignored the majority of the malicious gazes and gave polite nods to the people that showed no ill-will toward him.
Not long after his arrival, there was a bit of a commotion as someone had shown up that Vahn somewhat wanted to avoid. Instead of Tiona or Ais, the person, or should he say goddess, that showed up was Loki herself. The most peculiar thing that made Vahn feel uncomfortable was her ‘gentle’ expression and the subtle pink and yellow aura that radiated from her body. Not only the aura, but her expression was something that Vahn couldn’t associate with the trickster goddess within his mind.
Everyone in the reception area gave Loki strange looks as she closed the distance to Vahn and showed a smile as her eyes opened slightly. The moment Vahn saw her eyes, he couldn’t help but feel his skin turn clammy as a shiver ran down his spine. Every time he had seen her open her eyes in the past, Vahn remembered she always had an ‘intimidating’ or ‘greedy’ look. Now, however, he saw no malicious intent in her eyes…and they even seemed somewhat gentle.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fly, you fool~!’,’Hephaestus’s oversight’,’Vahn learns a bit of common sense. Currently up to 11% functionality’)