After things settled down a bit and everyone had some food and drinks, Hephaestus and Eina had asked Vahn to sit between them as they stood up to address the rest of the group. As Vahn’s official ‘first wives’, it had been their responsibility to organize everything and gather everyone together. Fortunately, most of the people related to Vahn were women that were fond of him and they had a pre-existing network established since the last ‘Vahnatus’.
Though not everyone was of age, Hephaestus lifted up a goblet of ruby red wine and said, “I would like to thank everyone for gathering here today to celebrate the birth and continued life of Vahn. Though it hasn’t been officially announced, everyone here should be aware of the relationship between Vahn, Eina, and me.” As if taking her cue, Eina continued, “As the official ‘first wives’ of Vahn, representing both goddesses and mortals, we wanted everyone to meet together and share this experience…”
Other than Welf, everyone was present was already aware of Hephaestus and Eina’s position, so he was the only one with shock on his face. Looking around, he realized he was the only one and swallowed an imaginary bit of saliva since his mouth had already gone dry. When Eina continued on and explained a bit of the origin regarding Vahn and the fact that he had never celebrated a birthday before, Welf had a somewhat solemn expression as he looked across at his ‘former’ rival.
All of the girls present were aware of Vahn’s past, but it was the first time they were hearing about the matter regarding Vahn never celebrating his birthday or any other holiday for that matter. The atmosphere of the party shifted a bit as many of the girls had somewhat sad expressions on their face while others resolved to make it up to Vahn in the future. If not for the fact that she was separated from Vahn by three other people, Tiona would have leaped across the table to comfort him right now. Unfortunately for her, not only were there people in her way, but she was also surrounded by Ais and Tione who had been assigned the task of keeping her at bay.
After the explanation, Hephaestus raised her cup slightly to indicate everyone else to do the same. Once everyone lifted their glasses high, she said loudly and with unconcealed passion in her voice, “For Vahn, we come together to celebrate his birth and bless him with many more days to come!” In response, everyone present shouted out, “Happy birthday Vahn~!”
Vahn had also raised his glass to toast, and hearing everyone celebrate his birthday in such high spirits was a big impact on him. Everyone around was someone that was close to him, and there were even several of his lovers, wives, and loved ones present. He could see the auras of everyone around him converging with himself at the center and the expressions of care and concern on their faces were quickly whittling away at any resistance he might have had.
By the time the toast had finished, Vahn had tears streaming down his face and was having a very difficult time keeping his expression from breaking. Everyone present had been paying attention to him and even Welf was somewhat misty-eyed at seeing Vahn’s reaction. Hephaestus and Eina sat at his sides and embraced his body as if they were cradling and protecting him. Though she was often quite reserved, Eina had a soft spot for the boy she had decided to marry and couldn’t sit idly by as he suffered the strain of his own emotions.
For several minutes, the only thing Vahn could do besides cry was repeat his thanks over and over to everyone present. Even though he had tried so hard to become stronger, even though he had made many efforts to meet the expectations and bear the burdens of others, even though he had overcome countless difficulties and even life or death situations, it was only now that Vahn truly felt like he belonged in this world. Here, in this place, at this moment, he truly understood the significance that others placed in his life. Though he had only known them for a brief period they, like his deceased mother, had shown him kindness, care, and even love…
Though the mood was dampened a bit with Vahn’s sobbing, nobody present blamed him for how emotional he was acting. When he had finally calmed down, Hephaestus and Eina helped him from the table and Vahn was once again embraced by everyone present. Every hug felt like a new experience and it was a heavy impact on Vahn as he returned their embrace with a powerful one of his own. He felt like he wanted to protect this feeling and didn’t want to ever let it get away from him ever again.
The first to hug him after Hephaestus and Eina had been Tiona who also had a teary-eyed expression even though she had a big smile on her fact. She put her arms around Vahn and gave him a powerful hug as he did the same to her. Though the didn’t kiss, the two nuzzled their foreheads together and Tiona whispered, “I’m glad you were born Vahn…thank you for everything…all of the past, the present, and the future we will share together from now on.”
Tiona’s words made Vahn’s heart twist in his chest and he promised, “I swear, Tiona, I swear we’ll create a happy family one day…a place where we can raise our children without letting them suffer…” His words were passionate and had an undertone of desperation to them but Tiona laughed the bad feelings away and responded, “I believe in you Vahn…you’re my hero after all~”
After Tiona, Ais was the next to embrace Vahn in a somewhat powerful, yet gentle, embrace. The two stood in silence for several seconds until Ais frowned slightly and said, without any curtness or breaks in her words, “We will always celebrate together from now on…” Turning her head and looking at all the other people present, Ais smiled before looking into Vahn’s eyes and continuing, “Always and forever, together…” Without paying any more attention to the surroundings, Ais leaned in and kissed Vahn on the lips with a bit of passion.
Vahn could feel the warmth from his chest increase in magnitude as he returned her kiss while hugging around her waist. After a few seconds, she pulled away with a happy smile on her face and Vahn watched her leave with a small smile on his face. She ended up stopping next to Tiona and Vahn could see she had a cheerful smile as she mouthed words slow enough that Vahn could read her lips, ‘I will kiss you a lot next time’.
Lili looked like she would be the next to give Vahn a hug, but Chloe stepped in a beat her to the punch and, before she could complain, gave Vahn a short hug and light peck on the lips. Vahn was a bit surprised but he just showed a happy smile as he stared into her beautiful green eyes. She had always been there for him, even since he first stepped into this world and started interacting with people. Without putting too much effort, or drawing too much attention to it, Vahn gently ran his thumb along the blue ribbon around Chloe’s tail. Her smile widened a bit before she placed her palm on his chest, over his heart, and stepped off to the side.
Unwilling to be beaten to the punch a second time, Lili stepped forward and quickly embraced around Vahn’s waist. She nuzzled into his chest and Vahn could see fresh tears on her face as he gently stroked her hair. Right now she was in her default form and had curly chestnut brown hair and Vahn thought it suited her very well. In a quiet voice that only he, and a few others, could hear, Lili whispered, “I also didn’t get to celebrate my birthday much in the past…from now on, lets always celebrate together…”
Since he was already in emotional turmoil, Lili’s words were like a hammer on Vahn’s heart as he leaned down and hugged powerfully as he promised, “I swear Lili, I’ll always be around whenever you need me. Not just on your birthday, but for anything else you want to celebrate…” Though Vahn knew of Lili’s troubled past, it was still difficult for him to wrap his head around the trauma she had experienced. Since, even now, her Affection had been stuck at 99, Vahn knew she hadn’t truly opened her heart to him, or anyone else for that matter.
When Vahn had leaned down to hug her tightly, Lili’s tears began falling heavily from her eyes as she hugged around his neck in a slightly desperate manner. Even though he made his promise, even though she wanted to believe, Lili was currently living away from Vahn and it was hard for her to accept how ‘distant’ he often was. Mustering up a bit of her courage, she whispered in an almost inaudible voice, “On my next birthday…I want us to celebrate it alone. If I can get to Level 3 by then, I want you to make me one of your lovers as well…”
Vahn had been listening intently to her words and he was considering them seriously before he gave his response. She was currently 13, only marginally younger than he was by around a year. That meant she would turn 14 in around ten months and would very likely be able to reach Level 3 by then. Since that was the Level where the majority of adventurers were considered veterans, Vahn couldn’t refute that she would have become ‘strong’ by then. Though he still had some inhibitions about her size, Vahn felt it very difficult to refuse Lili at the moment so he whispered silently, “Okay, Lili, I promise…”
All of the sadness on Lili’s face melted away and Vahn felt like a light began shining in her eyes as she grabbed the sides of his face and kissed him. Vahn was somewhat surprised, especially when she tried to stick her tongue into his mouth, so he patted the back of her head before standing up and separating. Even though she seemed reluctant to part, Lili still had a very happy expression on her face as she marched over toward the sides in high spirits. She looked straight at Tsubaki and said in a confident voice, “From now on we’ll triple the amount of training~!”
After Lili, things took a strange turn, almost like everyone was in a hurry to make future promises. Naaza had been the next to embrace Vahn and, even though she was reserved and had a blush on her face, she also kissed him briefly before hanging her head low in embarrassment. Since she knew there were people present that could hear her even if she spoke quietly, Naaza muttered hesitantly, “I want to join your Familia in the future…and then…when I make a breakthrough in my mixing…”
The longer she spoke, the deeper Naaza’s blush became and Vahn understood what she was trying to convey. Putting a bit of strength in his hands, Vahn whispered, “If you need help, I also obtained the [Mixing] Development Ability…we can accomplish the breakthrough together.” His words made Naaza’s face turn crimson even though her expression didn’t change much. She looked up into his eyes as if trying to discern the truth before a small smile spread to her lips and she said, “I’d like that.”
Replacing Naaza was, surprisingly, Loki, who gave Vahn an equally surprising embrace. Vahn hadn’t expected her to treat him so gently and hug his body without doing anything mischevious or playful. Even without making any promises, Loki parted her eyes slightly and had a ‘gentle’ smile on her face as she said, “Live a long life Vahn…there are a lot of people that are happy you are here. Make sure to take care of your own happiness as well…” Her words finished, Loki made way for the next girl and Vahn felt somewhat strange watching her walk away in such a manner.
After Loki was Anubis and she hugged Vahn by cradling his head against her chest and stroking his head. Vahn was very easy to catch off guard right now and his emotions were somewhat unstable so he was easily caught by her hands. Wrapping his arms around her waist by reflex, Anubis whispered, “Thank you, Master, thank you for being born. From now on, I will always serve at your side no matter what…” Vahn nodded, even though his face was still pressed into her breasts. Satisfied, Anubis stroked her cheek against the top of his head before letting him go.
Nanu was the next to give him a hug, and Vahn kneeled down to make it easier for her. Her only words were, “I will do my best to become a capable mate.” Vahn saw that she seemed very fired up, so he rubbed her ears affectionately before sending her off to stand next to Anubis. The other two chienthrope girls seemed like the wanted to participate, but neither of them could muster up the ‘courage’ before the next girls approached Vahn.
After Nanu, the next person to approach Vahn was actually two separate people. They were the Mother-Daughter pair of Milan and Tina, and Vahn was happy to see that Milan was comfortable enough to have her ears and tail uncovered. She had even worn a purple hairpin that drew attention to her head as if she was trying to regain her confidence. Vahn embraced both girls at the same time as they promised to be together more often in the future.
Once they walked away, nobody else approached at first until Tione seemed to get annoyed and urged the bashful Lefiya forward. She stumbled at first and had a fierce blush on her face but continued walking until she stopped right in front of Vahn. The two didn’t embrace, but Lefiya looked up at him with a somewhat sad expression on her face and said, “Vahn, I’m so sorry that you never got the celebrate your birthday before…”
Vahn could see that she was very affected by the earlier revelation and was having some difficulty maintaining her composure. The warm feeling in his heart expanded a bit as a gentle smiled appeared on his face. Reaching out his hand, Vahn used [Hands of Nirvana] and began to affectionately stroke the young elf’s orange hair. Lefiya didn’t resist his touch at all as the warm and comfortable feeling began to spread in her mind. The tears that had been stuck in her eyes began to fall a bit before she finally embraced Vahn in a very loose manner. Vahn returned her hug by lighting patting her back while continuing to stroke her head for a few seconds until she pulled away with a crimson face and practically hid behind Tiona and Ais.
Tione was the next to step forward and seemed to be one of the least affected by the atmosphere as she grabbed Vahn’s head in a similar manner as Anubis and hugged his face in her relatively modest breasts. Though they were growing rapidly, there was still a bit of time until she achieved the full potential of her manga counterpart. In a somewhat bold manner, Tione said, “Make sure you treat my sister well from now on. If you’re always going to be together, that means I’ll probably be there to celebrate with you from now on as well…treat me well too, okay?” Without waiting for his response, Tione squeezed his head a bit before letting him go and walking over toward Tiona who was laughing in a very mischevious manner. Tiona tried to ignore her by keeping her eyes closed, but Vahn could see her temple twitching a bit with his enhanced vision.
The last person, wrapping up the entire embrace-train, ended up being Tsubaki. Hestia seemed to have taken up the position of a sentry at the side as she made conversation with Hephaestus and everyone else present was a boy and didn’t seem to have an inclination towards emotional embraces. When they hugged, Tsubaki became the third woman that day to press Vahn into her chest as she laughed in a somewhat reserved manner compared to her usual outburst. She stroked his hair affectionately and said in a soothing manner, “You’re growing up faster and faster…make sure you take a break every now and then and look after your own health from now on. There are a lot of people relying on you and…”
Vahn saw that Tsubaki was hesitating a bit and, even though he was still experiencing a bit of turmoil, he somewhat understood what she wanted to say. Without doing anything noticeable, Vahn channeled a bit of energy into his fingertips that were hugging around Tsubaki’s waist. It was far less than the usual amount he used, but Tsubaki was able to understand what Vahn was getting at. He was essentially teasing her right now in a discreet manner in front of more than twenty other people and she could feel her back tingling from the slight stimulation from his fingers. She grit her teeth a bit but her expression didn’t change much as she whispered, “You little brat…”
Vahn smiled in response and increased the amount of energy in one of his fingers and made her body jolt a bit as he said, “Twenty-seven…I still owe you quite a lot.” Tsubaki squeezed his head a bit harder and Vahn immediately felt his airway cut off as she whispered in a teasing voice, “Don’t think I’ll just let you do whatever you want little devil…” After suffocating him for a few seconds, Tsubaki released Vahn’s head and said in a quiet voice, “Six-thousand-one-hundred-forty-nine…”
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Lili’s Ambition Explodes’,’Unlimited Embrace Works!’,’Cyclops are difficult opponents’)
(A/N: A lot of the fluff chapters are coming to an end pretty soon, so expect things to start getting more exciting~! (Nameless) won’t be so much longer, and Vahn will begin researching various things while entering the dungeon once again. There is also an event approaching that people have been waiting for since a very long time ago (O,…,O)~!)