For the next couple of days, up until the weekend, Vahn spent his time splitting his focus between the real world and the world within the orb. He felt like he was becoming progressively distant with things happening in his own life due to the fact he spent only 1/7th his total time within it. Though it hadn’t affected him too much, for the time being, Vahn felt like it was becoming harder and harder to maintain focus on the things he wanted to do. Things had come to a head when Vahn had promised Hestia and Fenrir to go shopping and then, after spending three days in the orb, went about his normal routine. Because he was ‘busy’, Hestia took Fenrir off to the side and left him to continue working and Vahn felt terrible when she mentioned it later.
Hestia wasn’t the only person to notice the inconsistencies and strange development of Vahn as it was also noted by some of the girls at the Hostess of Fertility and had been propagated somewhat by Ryuu’s ‘gossip’. Since she currently spent the most time with Vahn amongst the girls, Ryuu had become a central figure alongside Syr and had been speaking well of Vahn while also letting her concerns be known. Things had developed to the point where it actually spread through the network and everyone was beginning to worry about Vahn.
Though he knew he wasn’t ‘forgetful’ or ‘overly stressed’ as they had been pointing out, Vahn couldn’t easily explain things away and ended up having to reveal the orb’s existence. He had mentioned it in passing a while back, but word had never gotten around about the fact that Vahn ‘experienced’ six days within the orb in only six seconds in the real world. When the girls learned of this fact, their concerns only increased and Hephaestus even tried to ask Vahn to stop relying on the orb or it would hurt his mental development in the future.
She was pained to see him ‘stressing’ his mind just so that he could speed up his progress and help ‘cope’ with some of the things he dealt with in the real world. Ever since the time with Milan and Tina, a lot of people had been worried about Vahn yet, apparently due to the orb, Vahn had ‘recovered’ quicker than they expected. Eina was one of the most affected by this knowledge because she suddenly understood why Vahn was ‘maturing’ so quickly when he was so ‘broken’ before.
However, no matter how much the girls tried to pressure him, Vahn refused to stop using the orb because he couldn’t easily abandon Eva and still wanted to learn the Magia Erebea. When the girls learned that Vahn had ‘another’ girl, even though she was a memory fragment, it caused a few ripples within the network. They had found out that, even though Eva wasn’t ‘real’, Vahn spent the vast majority of his time with a woman they couldn’t even see. Though he claimed to primarily focus on ‘forging’ within the space, Vahn wasn’t able to deny any involvement with Eva since he didn’t want to keep secrets from the people he cared about.
This resulted in Vahn’s relationships in the real world becoming marginally more ‘meaningful’ as people would often stop by the Manor to visit Vahn and play with Fenrir. She had become something of a mascot within the Familia and most of the girls were quite fond of her, especially Loki. When Loki found out about Fenrir’s ‘blank slate’ mentality and ‘limitless potential’, she had a somewhat evil look on her face until Vahn chopped her head. Though she was fond of Fenrir, Fenrir wasn’t very fond of Loki and proactively tried to avoid her during most situations.
One of the things that had changed was, since they found out he was able to transfer physical items into the orb and train there, Vahn wasn’t ‘allowed’ to work much in the real world. There always seemed to be at least one person that visited every day to spend time with him and teach Fenrir. During the evenings, there was now even some girls that would stay over during the night which had led to the discovery on the network about Hestia’s ‘sneakiness’. They had found out that she had been slowly whittling down Vahn’s ‘defenses’ and had already gotten a few liberties from him in the form of bathing together, sleeping together, and his ‘infamous’ massages.
Since Vahn was actually interested in developing his technique and enjoyed using it, it became one of the things he had taken a liking to when interacting with some of the girls. Though not everyone was open to it at first, it eventually got the point where Vahn had been ‘promoted’ within the network so often that it became hard to not want to experience it themselves.
The most notable examples were when Vahn finally got to massage Ryuu, Syr, Arnya, Lunoire, and even Mama Mia. Since Vahn didn’t have any aversion toward older women, Mama Mia had wanted to experience what all the fuss was about and nearly broke Vahn’s shoulder when she slapped him on the back later while laughing with a ‘vibrant glow’ on her skin.
Because it was such a ‘popular’ thing, the girls quickly learned the ‘benefits’ that massage gave them and that only made it more coveted within the network. Since it eased tension, enhanced beauty, and even promoted health and blood circulation, it was incredibly enticing for the girls around Vahn. This is how he had ended up finally meeting Lunoire, even though she was somewhat odd, and got closer to Mama Mia. She had even ‘waved’ his private booth fees in exchange for helping her ‘loosen’ up every couple of weeks.
The girls weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves as, as previously stated, Vahn also liked massaging various girls. They all had different bodies and Vahn had started to develop an appreciation for helping promote their health and wellness. For the younger, relatively pure, girls, Vahn’s massage was a great way to relieve stress and was quite enjoyable. For the somewhat more ‘mature’ girls, it was arguably even better stress relief, even though Vahn had now confirmed without a doubt that his massage had ‘different’ effects depending on the mental status and ‘maturity’ of the woman receiving his massage.
This wasn’t the only thing Vahn had been doing in the real world, however, as he often spent his time touring the City on ‘outings’, generally accompanied by at least two girls. Vahn actually began to enjoy shopping, because he liked seeing the different outfits that everyone would try on. There would even be small competitions between the women he was accompanying to see who could get the biggest rise out of him. Though he somewhat felt like a ‘baggage carrier’, Vahn still enjoyed the ‘outings’, since many of the girls wanted ‘personal’ dates at some point and refused to classify a group outing as a ‘date’.
The ‘pool’ of girls he dated was much smaller than the ones that came to receive his massage, primarily due to the fact that the main group of the Loki Familia had left on their expedition. This left Tiona, Ais, and the potential duo Tione and Lefiya out of the candidate list. Instead, Vahn accompanied Chloe and Syr, Lili and Naaza, Syr and Arnya, Syr and Ryuu, Milan and Tina, Eina and Hestia, Hephaestus and Hestia, and even one strange outing where Vahn had been accompanied by Tsubaki alone. Anubis had been staying out of things and had been managing the ‘pack’, which left Vahn on an awkward ‘outing’ where one of the members hadn’t shown up.
During the ‘date’, Vahn took Tsubaki around to many of the same types of stores as the other girls and they had some rather unique interactions. Tsubaki teased him for treating her like one of his ‘young women’, but Vahn rebutted and gave her several compliments about her figure, character, and primarily her ‘kindness’. Unable to withstand his ‘barrage’ of compliments, Tsubaki spent the majority of the date relatively docile while only trying to tease Vahn whenever she got frustrated or embarrassed. Of all the girls around him, Tsubaki was one of the only ones that didn’t show up to receive a massage from Vahn after he moved into the Hearth Manor. Using this as an excuse to tease her, Vahn ended up taking a big hit to his gut that brought an early end to their date. In many ways, Vahn felt like Tsubaki was very similar to Eva and he wanted to break down her defenses and get ‘even’ with her in the future.
When he wasn’t ‘relaxing’ in the real world, Vahn spent the majority of his time within the orb researching and conducting experiments with Eva. He had also started a long-term project and was absolutely committed to bringing it to completion. No matter how he thought about it, given the amount of research that had gone into its design, Vahn was certain the final product would be, at the very least, S-Rank.
Instead of simply forging items and hammering away while trying to improve through ‘experience’, Vahn had taken a much more ‘scientific’ approach to the process. Though he still used his hammer to forge, Vahn had a separate workstation that was comprised entirely of finer tools and large lenses that could magnify the details of the equipment he was working on. He had even taken to using his [Eyes of Truth] and learning how to control them since it allowed him to ‘perfectly’ destroy or emulate materials with enough focus. Vahn had learned that, other than a sphere, he could actually use his eyes to ‘visualize’ any shape that he could focus on. Though he couldn’t do anything too complex, it didn’t mean Vahn couldn’t use his eyes as an ultimate tool for the purpose of level, embedding, and even altering the structure of some materials.
One of the things he had been practicing was ‘boring’ through materials and ‘carving’ shapes into the surface of objects with absolute precision. Since he could see the composition and internal structure of the object, Vahn could increase his detail and even carve basic runes at the microscopic level. Though it had taken an incredible amount of focus, research, and time, Vahn had been able to segment and overlay 108 runic formations into a piece of equipment without any of them being visible whatsoever. Since the material he had been using was pure Adamantine, Vahn was able to guarantee the formations wouldn’t break down over time or become weaker through wear and tear.
Of the 108 formations, precisely 54 of them had been used to stabilize and reinforce the structure of the rest of the runes. Vahn had learned ‘long ago’ that the most efficient, simple, and balanced, form was the most practical. Even when he had forged the [Moonlight Piercer] in the past, Vahn had marveled at its simplicity and used it as the inspiration for an entire line of weapons. His current project just pushed that to an insane degree as Vahn used the ‘simplicity’ of the item as a foundation to lay an intricate and complex arrangement of runes.
When Vahn was finally finished, twenty-one days had passed in the real world while he had spent 119 within the orb. Though it had only been three weeks, Vahn had experienced 1/3 of an entire year working on a single item while only diverting his focus to name two other pieces of equipment in the real world using [Keeper of the Akashic Tome]. After giving them both a flame seed from his [Prometheus], Vahn also gifted Lili and Naaza with their own permanent weapons to help support their growth and keep them safe. Remembering the name of her unawakened Innate skill, Vahn forged Lili a pair of gauntlets that he named [Atlas’s Grip]. For Naaza, since she primarily used a bow, Vahn had forged her a weapon that he had almost wanted to keep for himself and was appropriately named [Yi’s Bow] after the arrows that had once saved his life.[Atlas’s Grips]
Rank: S (Magic)
Ability: Durandal(A), Atlas’s Might(S), Shock Absorption(B), Abnormal Status Resistance(B)
Gauntlet(s) forged to contain the record of Atlas, who bore the weight of the Celestial Heavens in an ancient record. These gauntlets gift the user immense physical strength and also allow for greater comprehension of laws concerning astronomy.[Yi’s Bow]
Rank: S (Magic)
Ability: Yi(A), Indestructible(S), Shock Nullification(B), Visual Acuity(B)
Bow containing the record of Yi, an archer famed for having extinguished nine suns in order to aid mankind. This bow imbues a portion of the might contained within the record into each arrow nocked on its string.
When Vahn had gifted the equipment to the two girls, he had gotten a relatively passionate embrace in return, especially considering he had to place ‘flame seeds’ into their chests previously. Since the seeds burned through clothes, Vahn required the two to remove their tops and bras before Lili proudly accepted his touch from the front while Naaza took the more modest approach and had Vahn insert the flame from her back. Before then, Vahn hadn’t realized it had been an option and was somewhat flustered within his mind after remembering the event with Nanu previously.
Recalling the events, Vahn shook his head and took another look at the item he had spent the majority of the 119 days forging with an intricacy that far exceeded his own expectations. Even though it was currently (Nameless), Vahn had forged a simple, golden, pure adamantine, ring without any visible or unique qualities whatsoever. Verifying for what felt like the ten-thousandth time, Vahn saw that the Rank of the item was S and that, once he named it, he would be guaranteed to obtain the [Master Smith] Development Ability.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘AIYA, MAMA MIA~!’,’Disasociation, Focus’,’On the Precipice’)
(A/N: I don’t often like to use time skips, but this seemed like an easy way to connect events together when there wasn’t a lot of other stuff going on. Vahn gets to experience *muttered noises that you can’t understand due to your current soul tier*. Look forward to it~!)