Chapter 237: [Spoilers : Title at End]

Since it had been an item he spent so much time and effort on, Vahn was hesitant when it came to deciding upon the name of the ring. It wasn’t a beautiful object that would inspire thought of beauty, nor was it ornate like several of the accessories and rings Vahn had seen. Instead, the ring looked almost plain, even though it was perhaps one of the most intricately designed of its kind. It was somewhat ironic that the greatest masterpiece he had ever forged was also the most normal looking object he had ever created. Vahn was torn between naming it now, or trying to give it a name through [Keeper of the Akashic Tome] later…

As he flipped the simple golden ring in his hand, Vahn stroked it in an affectionate manner and ruminated over the ideas he had come up with previously. Since he wanted to try and find a way to seal away Divinity in a practical manner, Vahn had some hope that the ring would be able to replicate the function of [Enkidu], but was informed by Sis that the grade of the ring would have to be SSS if he wanted it to meet that standard. Even though it was currently S, Vahn didn’t think it was even possible to push it to SS Rank without a bit of luck, much less SSS.

Other than that, Vahn was stuck on a name that he thought was quite suitable but was also somewhat hesitant to use given the look of the ring. Since this ring was a result of the promise he had made with Hephaestus, Vahn had actually thought to name it ‘Promise’ so that it would serve as a constant reminder of that fateful day. The only thing that prevented him from making the final decision was, even though he was certain she wouldn’t care, the current base for the ring was simply too plain. He had previously given Hephaestus a beautiful ruby ring when they got engaged, and it actually seemed inappropriate to give her something less ‘beautiful’.

In his absentmindedness, Vahn dropped the ring and it fell like a heavyweight as it made contact with the table. Instead of bouncing, or rolling away, the ring came to a halt the moment it impacted the surface. Vahn ran his finger along the surface and once again marveled at the internal structure of the ring using his [Eyes of Truth]. Remembering that Hephaestus also had a god’s eye, Vahn knew she would be able to glean some insights from the ring and understand its hidden complexity…

With that thought in mind, Vahn showed a happy smile as he picked up the ring and whispered to it gently, as though he would a lover, “Henceforth, now and forevermore, you shall be known as [Promise]. I pray to whatever forces that govern the laws of naming that you protect the person that receives you from all harm…” Even though he didn’t use the Akashic Tome, the ring in Vahn’s hands glowed a resplendent golden color much like his [Enkidu]. It was almost ‘divine’ in its luminance and Vahn could feel a powerful energy radiating from the surface as all the internal formations were activated simultaneously.

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[Promise]

Rank: S (Divine)

P.Def: 0

M.Def: 0

Abilities: Indestructible(Divine), Magic Nullification(S), Physical Nullifcation(A), Abnormal Status Immunity(A), Soulbound(Unbound)

Use: ‘Absolute Nullification’: Bends the laws of the world to alter causality and create a miracle. (Warning: Item destroyed after use.)

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By the time it stopped glowing, [Promise] had changed from a plain ring into a resplendent golden ring that displayed white runes along the interior that had an almost sacred look. Even though its surface appearance hadn’t changed much, the internal structure and function of the ring had evolved to embody the ideals that went into its forging and naming. From now on, this ring would always protect the wielder from harm and guarantee their safety.

When he was done admiring the [Promise], Vahn’s smile grew even wider as he looked through his system notification and saw that his [Blacksmith:S] had evolved into [Master Smith:I]. Even though it was the lowest grade of [Master Smith], it was still infinitely superior to its preceding skill. This point was the pinnacle for most mortals, and even gods weren’t able to reach the peak of the skill without their Arcanum and Divinity as support.

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[Master Smith]

Rank: I

Greatly improves the success rate of forging equipment and refining materials. Dependant on the knowledge, skill, experience, and intent of the user.

Active Trigger: ‘Enhance’: Allows the user to temporarily boost the efficacy of equipment through maintenance.

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Even though the skill didn’t change much, it now provided a greatly enhanced success rate as well as an active trigger which would be infinitely beneficial for Vahn and his allies in the future. It was similar in a way to how [Whetstones] increased the attack power of weapons through sharpening, but now Vahn would be able to achieve a similar effect on all the equipment he maintained. Though he would probably be busy in the future, Vahn was happy that the skill had evolved in such a way since it would allow him to enhance, not only weapons, but armor, accessories, or even magical items.

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After completing the ring, Vahn purchased a beautiful case to contain it before collapsing onto the ground with his arms spread out. Though he didn’t feel like he was mentally exhausted, at least in regards to the concerns of the girls, Vahn felt emotionally drained as a powerful sense of relief spread through his body. There was still a month before the marriage and Denatus, but Vahn was beginning to worry about what would have happened if he hadn’t finished in time. Now that he was finally at the finish line, Vahn suddenly felt very very tired…

When Vahn awoke, he was laying in bed next to the ‘sleeping’ Eva who immediately opened her eyes the moment he did. She put her hand on his face and in a somewhat soothing tone said, “After you leave today, I’m going to seal up this space for a little while. Since you’ll be starting your training soon, I need to make sure everything is stable in preparation for the future. Go and spend some time in the real world with all those brats…”

Hearing Eva’s words, Vahn frowned and tried to rebut, but she continued before he could utter a single syllable, “Don’t worry, when I seal this space I will enter stasis and won’t even be aware of the passage of time at all. When you notice the orb begin to glow once again, you’ll know it is time to come back…make sure you’re prepared. Until you activate the orb again, I will continue to slumber, so don’t feel like you need to rush.” Her words finished, Eva mounted Vahn’s body and the two embraced each other as if they were going to be parting for a very long time.

Since he had used the orb in the afternoon, it was only slightly after 5 PM and Vahn had been laying down on a sofa in the study with Fenrir cuddled up against him. He noticed she was still wearing the frilly maid outfit that she had become fond of after going on a group shopping trip with Hephaestus, Eina, Hestia, Loki, and Syr. Since she had been treated so well by the group of goddesses and mortal, Fenrir had calmed down a lot and liked to wear cute things since she got spoiled more.

Even though only a few seconds had passed since they had parted, Fenrir looked up at Vahn before tilting her head and saying, “Vahn, welcome back!” Even though she still had some verbal ticks, Fenrir was decidedly more eloquent than her past self. She also somewhat understood that, when he entered the orb, several days would pass for him. Because of this, Fenrir had developed the habit of ‘protecting’ him and then welcoming him back when he returned.

Stroking her hair, Vahn turned to the side where Hestia was drinking tea. Seeing him look her way, Hestia showed a cheerful smile and said, “Welcome home~!” Then, understanding Vahn was in a strange state, she asked, “Are you…okay?” Before he answered, Hestia, moved toward him like a bullet and had a very concerned expression on her face as she wiped away the tears that had started to fall from Vahn’s eyes without his notice.

After explaining things to Hestia, she decided to comfort Vahn with a lap pillow while stroking his hair for the time being. Though she had never met the golden-haired vampire, Hestia knew she was quite important to Vahn and that it wouldn’t be easy for them to separate for such a long period of time. Even though it was a ridiculous amount of time for Eva between their meetings, Vahn actually spent a compressed amount of time every single day within the orb at her side. Now that he was suddenly separated from Eva, Hestia could see that Vahn was experiencing something similar to separation anxiety and loneliness.

Though he would traditionally make more of an effort to restrain Hestia, Vahn remained silent as he enjoyed her fingers running through his hair while hugging Fenrir. As if she had realized Vahn’s state of mind, Fenrir was incredibly docile and well-behaved as she remained perfectly still while Vahn was being tended to by Hestia. If Hestia or Vahn could have seen her face, they would have noticed that her eyes had begun to glow, not from her own anxiety, but because she wanted to help Vahn and didn’t know how.

After a few minutes, while Vahn was relaxing peacefully, Fenrir seemed to come up with an idea and patted Vahn’s hands with her paws so that he would release her. Since it wasn’t the first time they had such an interaction, Vahn reluctantly let go of Fenrir who promptly reached for the pouch she always kept at her hip. Even though she couldn’t do it easily, Fenri had grown accustomed to opening her own pouch to retrieve the brush within.

Since it was the thing that made her the happiest, other than hunting enemies, Fenrir thought it would help Vahn as well. Though her movements were awkward and made both Hestia and Vahn somewhat nervous, Fenrir began to comb Vahn’s hair with her favorite brush. Vahn, though still a bit nervous about the deadly claws near his face, closed his eyes with a smile and whispered, “Thank you, Fenrir…”

For the rest of the day, the roles within their small little group had entirely reversed. Traditionally, Vahn was the one that spoiled the two girls but now they had taken up the role and were pampering him. Hestia had even contacted the other girls on the network and explained things so that, by the end of the evening, there had been a number of guests that arrived to spend the night. Though Vahn was grateful, he began to grow somewhat nervous after one of the guests arrived…

Since she was nearby, Ryuu had been the first to arrive and had even worn her waitress outfit instead of changing into her casual attire of Adventurer equipment. As she had already picked out a room and moved in her stuff previously, Ryuu could always change within the Manor so she didn’t feel the need to ‘waste’ time. Ever since the first time Vahn had given her a massage, Ryuu’s aversion to being touched had decreased by a fair amount, at least when it came to Vahn. She had even, for the first time, offered to give him a lap pillow while Hestia received other guests and prepared dinner.

While Vahn was enjoying the comfortable lap pillow and uncommon affection of Ryuu, the second set of guests showed up, Milan and Tina. By now, Milan’s hair had grown back on her ears and tail, so she was walking around with a cheerful expression and had recovered a lot of her old personality. Tina, having been influenced by the girls at the Hostess of Fertility, had turned into a little tyrant and was always full of energy. Whenever Vahn ate lunch with them, she would always happily converse with him and she had completely regained her sensibilities and was no longer overly clingy. The downside to this resulted in her trying to reclaim her role as his ‘Vahnguard’, especially after he started going on several outings with other girls. It took the combined efforts of the entire network to contain her ‘wrath’ and it was also Tina’s actions that inevitably resulted in there always being at least two girls accompanying Vahn.

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Tina had also become best friends with Fenrir since Fenrir acted very much like a child that was lacking in affection and a proper education. She had even gotten Fenrir to call her ‘Big Sis’, even though Tina was much smaller than she was. Because of this, Fenrir also began to call Milan ‘Mama’ until it was corrected after some of the other girls, who were also fond of Fenrir, objected to the claim. It became especially problematic when it was known that Fenrir had once tried to refer to Vahn as ‘Papa’ in the past…

Though others wanted to come, there were just the six of them for quite a while until the last guest finally showed up. Even before he had seen her, Vahn could sense her arrival and become nervous to the point that everyone in the room could tell something was wrong. Fenrir had become especially alert since her senses were far stronger than even the cat people, Milan and Tina. However, the moment she lifted her head and looked around, the red glow in her eyes faded and she said, “Hephaestus~!”

Because Fenrir was closer to the people that were closest to Vahn, she was especially fond of Hephaestus, Eina, and Hestia. Even though it wasn’t much, her tail wagged a bit as she ran toward the door to receive Hephaestus in the foyer. The other girls, who had been somewhat tense after seeing Vahn’s reaction, began to calm down as the entire group made their way over. As the person nearest him, Ryuu asked in a low voice, “Is something wrong?” Even though she wasn’t as on guard as before, Ryuu hadn’t relaxed since Vahn was still in a tense state.

Vahn showed an awkward smile before he sighed and explained, “Nothing is wrong at all…in fact, things are going too well in a way.” Hearing his words, Ryuu cocked her head slightly before remaining silent and observing what would happen. Though he hadn’t spoken to them, both Milan and Tina had heard Vahn’s words and were also quite curious. Soon after, Hephaestus entered through the front door and pet Fenrir, who had wrapped her paws around her body, on the head for a few seconds before looking around with a concerned expression on her face. Seeing Vahn, Hephaestus showed a relieved smile before adopting a somewhat confused expression.

Since they were linked together through the ‘eternal flame’, Hephaestus was able to sense the melancholy Vahn had been in since earlier in the afternoon. Now that she had arrived to comfort him, she could sense his heart rate increasing and saw that he had a very nervous expression on his face. Thinking about what could be the matter, Hephaestus’s thoughts raced before remembering why Vahn had been so down in the first place. Hestia had said it was due to the fact that Vahn couldn’t use the orb for a while and would be away from Eva, the girl she had never met.

When this thought passed through her mind earlier, Hephaestus just felt sad for Vahn and wanted to come over and comfort him for the night. Now, however, she remembered what Vahn had purportedly been doing inside the orb for the last month or so. Alongside Vahn’s heartbeat, Hephaestus’s also began to increase as her eyes slowly widened. She could feel her body begin to shake and she suddenly felt very excited, anxious, and fretful all at the same time.

Vahn saw the fluctuations of Hephaestus’s aura and knew she understood why he was acting strangely as well. The atmosphere in the foyer became strange and everyone was absolutely silent as they watched Vahn and Hephaestus staring, unmoving, at each other for more than a minute. Eventually, Vahn could see that Hephaestus was shaking progressively more and more, so he was finally able to muster up the courage to pull out the ornate white box that had been in his inventory. Walking forward, Vahn held out the box as his own hands began to shake and urged Hephaestus to take it with his eyes…

At this point, Hephaestus’s heart was racing so fast that she couldn’t form a single coherent thought. The only thing in the world right now was Vahn, herself, and the box within his hands. Reaching out her shaking hand, Hephaestus gingerly opened the beautiful box and saw a resplendent golden ring contained within. Even without inspecting it close, Hephaestus knew the ring was a masterpiece that could even rival some of her greatest creations in the mortal world.

When she reached out to pick up the ring, Hephaestus’s hand was shaking so much that she couldn’t grasp it at all. Even when she managed to pick it up a bit, she soon dropped it and it nearly fell out of the case before a pulse of invisible energy passed through the room and Vahn caught the ring mid-flight. In his haste, Vahn had instinctively activated [Will of the Emperor] to help calm his own nerves as he held the ring in his finger.

Helping Hephaestus remove her glove, Vahn placed the ring on the same finger where her ruby one usually sat. Because she forged constantly, Hephaestus usually wore the previous ring on a necklace that she kept around her neck. Because of the relative simplicity of [Promise], she would be able to wear it even when she had her gloves on. After it was firmly on her finger, Vahn looked into Hephaestus’s crimson-red eyes and said, “This ring is called [Promise], and it is also my vow made real. From now on, you will never have to be alone…”

Title: Promise Kept

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘One ring to rule them all’,’Vahn’s Melancholy’,’If you like it then you need to put a ring on it’)

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