Chapter 219: Reason

The last thing Vahn furnished within the manor was his two workshops and forges. Though he intended to make the most use of the secret forge hidden in the main room, Vahn expected that some of his future Familia members might use the main workshop for production and research in the future. Even Hephaestus herself had several forges, even though there was only one that housed the ‘eternal flame’.

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By the time everything was finished, Vahn was looking over his resources and frowned after seeing that his Origin Points had taken a massive hit in the last few days. It didn’t seem like that long ago when he had nearly 500,000OP, but now he only had 139,417OP left. Because a lot of the items he purchased were for ‘long-term’ use, he had become a bit of a spendthrift after getting caught up in the excitement.

After 5 PM came around, Vahn entered the orb for a few seconds and spent the three days within trying to earn some extra OP to replenish his diminishing stock. With his current skills, he could make around 9-11k OP per day on average, so by the time he left his total had increased to 168,399OP. Satisfied by the result, Vahn’s concerns diminished by quite a bit since he would be able to make upwards of 50-60k OP per day if he put in an effort. Compared to his past gains and how much he had to suffer just to reach 1M in the past, Vahn felt like his current acquisition rate was more than acceptable.

While he was busy working, Hestia had asked him to even install a small kitchenette in ‘their’ room and had taken to lazing about on a couch that Vahn had purchased while munching on snacks. As soon as things had calmed down, she immediately began lazing about without any sense of propriety as she let her head dangle off the couch and watched Vahn working upside down. Vahn was worried she would get a cramp in her neck, but she didn’t seem to be bothered at all. Remembering how inexplicable soft her feet were even though she walked around barefoot, Vahn assumed it was another peculiar trait she had.

As soon as it looked like he was done working, Hestia would immediately become energetic and they would chat away about various topics once again. She was a veritable ball of energy when they conversed, a far cry compared to how she lazed about when he was busy. Eventually, the topic turned to what kind of Familia they wanted to be in the future. Since they would have to register at the Guild, they had to pick a specific designation for correspondence purposes.

Vahn already had a prepared answer, so he said, “I want us to be an exploration type Familia that also acts based on the principles of righteousness and moderation. I don’t believe it’s possible to eliminate evil, but I think we should promote our principles and try to create a Familia that sets the example for others to follow. Other than that, I want our Familia to protect the weak and act as a safe haven for those that wish to improve themselves…”

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Hestia listened to his words with a thoughtful smile on her face as Vahn talked about his ideals with a bit of passion and fervor. She could tell that, because of his kind and gentle nature, Vahn wanted to be a hero that helps people. Even though she understood he would bear a lot of burdens following the path he had chosen, Hestia was proud of him since she believed the stance he was taking was commendable. As the first child of her Familia, Vahn would set the example for everyone else that joined and there was a real chance his dream could become a reality as long as he had enough support.

When he finished his short soliloquy, Hestia showed a cheerful smile and said, “I will do my best to help you make your dream a reality. As long as you keep moving forward and believe in what you stand for, there will be nothing that can stand in your way. Even if there are bumps along the way, even if you have to slow down, or even stop for a time, there is always hope if you face the future with courage and the resolve to do your best. When you are tired and need a place to lay down, I will always be here waiting for your return…”

As Hestia was speaking, Vahn was staring into her glimmering blue eyes in a mild daze as each of her words impacted something deep inside of him. He didn’t know why, perhaps because she was someone he had always wanted to meet, but a lot of the things Hestia said resonated with him. Even though she seemed weak, lazy, and a little unreliable, she had moments like this that inspired him and made Vahn feel more confident about the future. Since he had seen how hard she worked in the original manga, Vahn knew Hestia was the type to put in a lot of effort to support the people she genuinely cared about so he felt like he could place his trust in her words.

For what felt like the tenth time in the last two days, Vahn smiled at Hestia and said, “Thank you, Hestia…I’ll do my best.” In response, Hestia’s smile grew wider and she responded in a very chipper and cheerful voice, “I know you will~! But, you have to stop thinking ‘I’ all the time, Vahn! From now on, it is ‘we’, so you have to say ‘we’ will do our best, together~!” Hestia seemed to be in somewhat high tensions as she clasped Vahn’s hand like a comrade that was about to face a fearsome enemy with him. She had a confident expression on her face and a slight blush on her cheeks with a slight glimmer in her eyes that shone marginally more brightly than usual.

Vahn gripped her hand a bit and also showed an expression of confidence as the two stared at each other and created a micro-loop of expectation and fervor. If anyone had seen their antics from the side, they would have likely commented that they were both idiots. Since there was nobody present, however, they just completely ignored general sensibilities and created a strange atmosphere that quickly turned into something awkward after around half a minute had passed.

Though she held his gaze for a while without a problem, the longer the silence continued, the more embarrassed Hestia felt. She wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but Vahn continued to grasp her hand and hold eye contact with her and she didn’t know if she should be the one to pull away first or wait for him to do it. Vahn was in a somewhat similar state of mind, so they just continued to hold their hands as if they were about to arm wrestle in mid-air for a much longer period of time than either intended.

The blush on Hestia’s face continued to grow a bit until she started laughing out loud as she pulled her hand away and said, “Good, good, we’ll both do our best from now on~! Ehehehe~.” Vahn could see that she was embarrassed as well, so he played along and laughed in a mechanical manner as he scratched the back of his head. Afterward, they left the Hearth Manor and headed towards the Hostess of Fertility for dinner.

Though Hestia wanted to stay inside and eat together, Vahn told her he couldn’t break his promises with Milan and Tina. Until the two girls had recovered a bit, Vahn wanted to spend at least their meals together for the time being. Hestia sighed after hearing his explanation before a happy smile appeared on her face and she followed along without further complaint. She did, however, have Vahn hold her hand as they walked through the cold night air together.

Since Hestia was walking in a happy, straight legged, fashion, Vahn kept staring at her feet to see how she reacted whenever they walked through rougher terrain. Even when they passed through areas where the cobblestone seemed somewhat jagged, Hestia stepped on it without even flinching and Vahn felt like it was an inexplicable sight. Remembering how soft they were when he touched them, Vahn felt like her feet should easily be cut open but she continued walking without any trouble at all.

During dinner, Hestia actually separated from Vahn and sat next to Tina as she started a cheerful conversation with the small cat girl. Vahn was a bit surprised since he felt like Hestia had an inclination against him interacting with so many girls. Seeing how easily she got along with Tina while he sat next to Milan made him smile. Milan also seemed to be happy and whispered in a voice only he could hear, “You have a kind goddess…”

Vahn nodded his head and, with a smile, whispered back, “She is a little peculiar at times, but she is a very kind and gentle girl that is attentive to others in her own way.” Then, taking Milan’s hand and squeezing it gently, Vahn looked her in the eyes and said, “I hope you’re able to join our Familia in the future…Hestia and I have promised to make it a place that protects everyone’s happiness together…as family.”

Milan flinched a bit when Vahn first grabbed her hand even though she placed a lot of trust in him. Even while they were eating dinner, she sat close enough to him to feel his warmth and made an effort to overcome the trauma in her heart. Hearing his words, she felt happy feelings begin to spread within her since she was grateful that he was still so attentive to her and Tina. She already intended to join his Familia in the future and was happy to see that he was serious about creating a place to protect them while even considering her and Tina to be ‘family’.

Vahn saw Milan’s smile and reached his hand up to the hood she was wearing and gently removed it to reveal her lightly fuzzy ears. He saw Milan’s aura fluctuate as she hung her head a bit lower as if she were ashamed to be seen in her current state. Hestia and Tina had been watching their interaction and had turned silent for a while as moisture built up in both girls eyes after seeing Milan’s ears. Hestia had heard the story and knew that, without Vahn’s help, Milan would have likely died after both her ears and tail had been severed. Hearing the story and seeing the aftermath were two entirely different things though, as she almost felt like crying at seeing the proof of the event right before her eyes.

Though he felt a little guilty at exposing her without warning, Vahn’s expression didn’t change at all as he reached up with his left hand and used [Hands of Nirvana] as he gently stroked her hair and ears. She recoiled at first and almost pulled her head away but managed to prevent herself from doing so by taking deep and anxious breaths. After a few seconds, the warm energy coming into her head and the pleasant feeling of Vahn’s caress made her fear dissipate by a marginal amount.

Vahn had been thinking about the matter for some time, so he said in a gentle whisper, “Everyone here is someone you can trust…you don’t have to hide away and feel ashamed over something you had no control over. At least among people you can trust, you shouldn’t hide away and worry about how they see you…we all worry about you, Milan, and want to see you be happy.”

Hearing Vahn’s words, everyone in the room except for him began to shed tears as Milan looked up at his face with her golden eyes and a profoundly bereaved expression that made Vahn’s heart seize up in anguish. However, no matter how much grief or pity he felt for her, Vahn continued to show a gentle smile on his face as domain silently spread through the room with the effect of [Hands of Nirvana] spreading along with it.

For the first time since the incident, other than when she had nightmares at night, Milan began to cry as she buried her face into Vahn’s chest. His constant concern and perpetually gentle expression had been slowly breaking away at the walls she had been building up ever since her trauma and now everything released like the opening of a floodgate. She hated the fact that she felt inhibitions about one of the people that were constantly kind to her and how she, if but for a single moment, imagined him in the same vein as the monsters that tormented her.

Milan had even been considering the best method to exploit Vahn so he wouldn’t abandon them, but she realized he hadn’t ever considered abandoning them in the first place. If not for the fact that she had separated herself and Tina from him, Vahn would have probably taken them into his own home and personally protected them even now.

Unable to maintain her calm, Tina also ended up embracing the two as Vahn cradled the Mother-Daughter pair in his arms while trying to bring them some degree of comfort. Hestia was staring at the sight with a tearful and contemplative expression while Syr, who had been serving them, stood off to the side in silence. Both girls felt like Vahn had an exceptional amount of compassion and even Hestia felt like there was more to the relationships he had with girls than she initially expected. As if drawn by an invisible force, Hestia and Syr made eye contact briefly before turning back to the emotional sight of the three embracing each other.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Ambitions, Burdens, Hope’,’Don’t let trauma control you, there are always people willing to help’,’Road to Recovery’,’Soon(TM)’)

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