After the bath, Ryuu went to her room to wear a proper change of clothes as Vahn watched her butt sway from side-to-side with slightly squinted eyes. He felt a lot less inhibited now, almost as if he had a new outlook on life and wondered if anything interesting would happen as a result. Though he still intended to practice the restraint that had been constantly reaffirmed in his mind, Vahn felt far less inclined to act reservedly when he was alone with the girls he cared about. Bar a few exceptions, Vahn was somewhat excited about the coming developments and laid down in his bed with a relatively relaxed state of mind.
Though it was still a little early, Vahn was rather exhausted and decided to pitch in early while imagining if anyone would be joining him tonight. Since both Milan and Tina were here, and Hestia was with Hephaestus, Vahn assumed they would probably be sleeping together alongside Fenrir. That being the case, Ryuu would probably stay in her own room for the time being unless anything changed between now and the morning.
As expected, Vahn could detect the auras of the three girls while Ryuu had already laid down in her own bed, which was located two rooms away from the master bedroom. Though Milan told the two girls to be quiet so Vahn could rest, Fenrir flopped her ears and said, “Vahn always awake when people around.” Disregarding Milan’s caution, Fenrir walked over to the bed before wiggling out of her maid outfit with practiced movements. Though she still needed help getting dressed, Fenrir had taken to trying to remove her clothing without help.
Because she always wore her combat attire under her clothes, Fenrir was still decent and climbed into bed as Vahn reached out his hands and scratched her ears a bit. Milan noticed that Vahn was also awake and sat on the side of the bed with a thoughtful expression as Tina unashamedly climbed into the bed and snuggled next to Vahn without inhibitions. Milan saw her daughter and laughed before following behind and laying on the opposite side of Tina. After binding Fenrir’s hands and affectionately stroking the three girls for a bit, Vahn went to sleep accompanied by the warmth generated by the girls around him.
Though it wasn’t necessary, Vahn still awoke at 5 AM and stared at the roof for a little as Fenrir inched over to him and placed her chin on Vahn’s chest and stared up at his face. Since she had been ‘protecting’ him when he was in the orb, Fenrir was accustomed to waking up at the same time as Vahn. Feeling her concern, Vahn reached out his hand and used [Hands of Nirvana] to comb through her hair with his fingers. Instead of going to the dungeon today, Fenrir was going to spend some time with Milan and Tina who were helping her learn to read. Though Hestia had taken to the task at first, she wasn’t the greatest teacher and didn’t have any experience dealing with ‘children’ like Milan.
Vahn could see the auras from the room Hephaestus was staying in moving and knew that both she and Hestia had already awakened. He followed them with his perception and saw them split up at the foyer which made Vahn feel a little sad. Knowing that it was a temporary parting, and that she had preparations to make, Vahn took a slow breath and calmed his mind. Since Hephaestus was often very busy, it wasn’t easy for her to clear her schedule for a long period of time so Vahn intended to follow-up later in the day, most likely toward the evening, to see if she needed any help. If he went at his maximum speed, using Shundo, he could get all the way to her workshop within a short four minutes.
Eventually, Milan awoke and paused for a few seconds when she saw Vahn before remembering she had stayed over the previous night. After awakening Tina and helping her and Fenrir get dressed, Vahn rubbed each of their ears and gave each of them a kiss on the forehead. Though he had kissed Milan on the lips in the past, Vahn knew she still had inhibitions about any relationship they might have in the future. Since he didn’t want to pressure her and just wanted to help take care of them, Vahn didn’t act in an untoward manner and just showed gentle affections to the Mother-Daughter pair.
After they made their way downstairs. Milan and Tina went to prepare breakfast while Fenrir pulled out an adamantine plate that had the alphabet carved into it. Using her claws, she tried replicating the characters on the nearly indestructible metal as if it was soft wood. Though she struggled quite a bit, Fenrir actually showed a lot of interest in learning. She wanted to be more ‘normal’ after interacting with other girls and they had each reinforced the idea that she needed a proper education. To make things easier, Vahn had created an Adamantine plate that could be easily regenerated using whetstones since it was classified as a blunt weapon with the addition of a handle on the side.
Ruffling her hair a bit, Vahn left the dining room and made his way toward Hestia before frowning deeply and looking toward the front gate. Though he didn’t know their purpose, Vahn felt like the arrival of the signatures was related to his instincts from the previous day. It seemed that, every time Vahn felt happy, something bad would always rear its head to create problems for him. After discussing it with Sis, he found out it was actually a property of having high good karma. She claimed that the reason so many heroic tales ended in tragedy was that heroes acquired a lot of good karma which inevitably brought added troubles to them when they least expected it. For better or worse, good and evil were almost irresistibly drawn toward each other in some vain struggle machinated by fate.
What made matters worse was, like now, the danger often presented itself in an unexpected fashion. Even though the presences outside show amiability towards him, Vahn knew there would be trouble following in their wake. After shouting for Hestia and sending a mental order for Fenrir to tell the other girls to eat breakfast without them, Vahn made his way to the foyer and opened the door to receive their guests. Hestia, who had just arrived next to him, looked outside and greeted them in a cheerful voice, “The Takemikazuchi Familia~? Welcome to the Hearth Manor!”
Takemikazuchi bowed politely and the tall young man behind him followed suit as he greeted, “Good morning Lady Hestia, it is good to see you in such high spirits.” Turning his head, Takemikazuchi also bowed politely to Vahn and said, “We meet again, Vahn, it is a pleasure to see you in good health.” Though he already knew they had come with a purpose, given their somewhat unstable auras, Vahn still politely greeted the two as he invited them into the study.
After settling down, Vahn waved his hand over the table and position a steaming kettle of tea for them to enjoy. Since they were from the Far East, Vahn had set out a somewhat bitter tea called [Ginseng Bara]. Though it was normally a polite gesture, Takemikazuchi frowned before looking at Vahn and closing his eyes as he sighed. Opening his eyes, he spoke in a somewhat troubled tone, “It seems you have seen through the purpose of our visit. The rumors regarding your incredible perception aren’t exaggerated in the slightest.”
Seeing his god troubled, the man introduced as Ouka frowned and a serious look on his face as he glared at Vahn. Compared to Vahn, who was 165cm, Ouka was already more than 180cm tall even though he was currently only fifteen. He had a very muscular build with black hair and green eyes. Though he looked somewhat stoic and serious, apparently Ouka had a temperamental personality as he said in a deep tone that belied his age, “Even if you are a respected member of the Alliance, you are not above paying respects to a god.”
Vahn didn’t respond to Ouka as he turned his gaze back to Takemikazuchi and picked up a cup of tea. Though [Ginseng Bara] was somewhat expensive tea, it was seen as a polite way of asking people to ‘not bring trouble’ when enjoying the hospitality of others. Coming from the Far East, both Takemikazuchi and Ouka were very aware of the stance Vahn had taken before the discussion even began.
As the three ‘men’ sat in silence, Hestia remained next to Vahn with an entirely unphased expression on her face. Unless things developed in a bad direction, she had long discussed matters with Vahn and allowed him to make decisions that affected their Familia. Even though she was the goddess, there wasn’t much she could do besides supporting the children in their Familia, so Hestia had left matters to Vahn as the Captain. The only thing she could tell from the situation so far was that Takemikazuchi hadn’t come with good intentions and she had already raised her guard somewhat against the two ‘foreign invaders’.
The atmosphere in the room remained silent as Takemikazuchi stared down at his steaming cup of tea with a hesitant expression on his face. If he accepted the tea, it was the same as saying he wouldn’t trouble Vahn…Taking a deep breath, Take stood from the sofa without touching the tea and Vahn followed him with his eyes as Takemikazuchi gestured to Ouka before kneeling down on the floor and performing the most perfect example of a dogeza Vahn had ever seen. Though Ouka’s brow furrowed low, he didn’t say anything as he assumed a spot behind Take’ and also lowered his head to the floor.
Vahn immediately massaged his temples a bit and said, “I will hear you out, but that doesn’t mean I am expressing consent and willing to offer my help. Even if we’re future allies, the Hestia Familia has no relation with the Takemikazuchi Familia at present. With the probation terms decreed by the Guild, we couldn’t interact in any meaningful way even if there was to be cooperation between us.”
Without raising his head, Takemikazuchi gave a loud affirmation and response, “Ha! As you have likely anticipated, I have come here with the intent of exploiting your heroic disposition and honest personality. Though I know it is wrong to do so, I cannot allow this matter to rest when another window of opportunity may not present itself in the future. Please hear my request and consider it without any bias!” Even though his head was already touching the ground, Take’ made an earnest effort to place it even further into the floor.
Releasing a sigh, Vahn looked over at Hestia with an apologetic expression before she nodded her head in support. Vahn looked to the two performing a dogeza and said, “Please, though it may not be a standing relationship presently, we are still allies. Though it is not incorrect to bow your head when making a request, you should not behave in a way that may negatively influence your children. Since there is likely to be cooperation between our Familia in the future, I would like us to try and interact in a manner where neither side loses face to the other.”
Ouka had raised his head and gave Vahn a serious look as Take’ showed a grateful expression and lifted his face that had a big red mark on it before sitting on the sofa. As a gesture of friendship, Vahn set out a simple green tea that was often shared with friends and casual acquaintances. This time, Take’ took the tea gratefully before he began explaining, not only the purpose of his visit but the purpose of his Familia’s migration to Orario from the Far East…
Actual Title: Karma is a Bitch
(A/N: Since some people might freak out, just know that this doesn’t interfere with planned events (O,…,O). Stay tuned, there will be another chapter coming out soon that will clarify things.)
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fenrir is adorable’,’Fate of a Hero’,’The ultimate technique when making a request’)