Fortunately, even though Haruhime was owned by Ishtar, she seemed to work in one of the brothels to the southwest and Vahn would be able to confirm her safety. Though it might cause problems and discourse between the Ishtar Familia and himself, Vahn could simply steal Haruhime away if he successfully infiltrated into the brothel. Of course, the first thing he had to do was discuss things with the others and find a place for the six girls he just purchased to stay. After settling them in, Vahn could always sneak back into the red light district during the early morning when there were fewer people around.
Shauntac saw the contemplative and pleased expression on Vahn’s face and nodded his head satisfactorily. He could tell that the boy before him was a pretty big sucker and it would probably be possible to squeeze some more money out of him in the future. Once they discovered where he lived and his source of income, they could even pressure him into taking on a debt or even kidnap the girls and resell them through another one of their brokerages. Naive boys with a lot of wealth were easy marks and one of the preferred short-term customers for their business.
After a few minutes, the six girls were brought in wearing matching maid attire while holding shawls in their hands for later. Though he felt guilty to have the thought, Vahn thought they looked kind of cute in the matching getup. Especially the twins, who seemed to be in much higher spirits even though their auras were continually fluctuating. Vahn went through the process of sealing a contract and then placing a seal of ownership at a place of his choosing on the girls’ bodies. The simplify things, Vahn placed them wrist where he had seen the previous marking. To facilitate things, Shauntac even gave the girls some wristbands to cover the mark before handing Vahn six collars that emphasized each girls hair color.
Each girl bowed to him as he placed the collars around their necks and thanked him in the same, likely rehearsed manner, “Thank you for taking this lowly one as your servant. This one will do their best to serve you from now on, my esteemed Master.” The only exception was Shiva, who couldn’t even speak due to the curse that had been placed on her tongue. When things had finished, Shauntac gave him a wooden tab that could control the seals on the girls’ bodies and ‘punish’ them if they misbehaved. Even though they were bound by a vow, it didn’t mean accidents couldn’t happen, such as when Shiva injured her previous master’s genitals.
Before leaving, Vahn gave a perusing glance at each of the girls’ bodies with his perception before nodding his head and leading the way out of the brokerage. They each wore the shawls to cover their bodies so they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves as Vahn escorted them through passages where there was little foot traffic. After a half-hour, they had made their way out of the red light district before Vahn turned around and looked into the eyes of the girls following him.
Eager to please, the twins stepped forward in sequence and asked, “May we be of assistance, Master?” Vahn released a sigh and said, “I’ll pick each of you up for a moment, don’t resist, I won’t hurt any of you.” Though they were nervous, Emiru and Maemi nodded their heads as Vahn picked up the first person and disappeared from sight. Maemi, the twin left behind, immediately felt concerned until Vahn reappeared moments later. She saw that he didn’t have her sister anymore and began to tear up before Vahn lifted her body and disappeared yet again.
On the roof of a nearby building, Emiru had been standing in a daze for a few seconds as her Master disappeared from sight before reappearing moments later with her twin sister Maemi. The two girls immediately hugged each other and stared at the disappearing Vahn until he once again showed up with another girl in his arms. This repeated until all six girls were on the roof and the two twins began to wonder what kind of mysterious man had purchased them.
After all the girls were situated, Vahn scanned his perception within the area of his domain and saw the people that had been tailing him had stopped moving. They seemed to be waiting for something but Vahn had already made plans as he walked over sheep girl Preasia and kneeling down. Using his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn peered into her stomach where a magical stone-like transmitter had probably been forced down her throat so they could track him. Because of her lacking emotions and absolute silence, she was the most likely candidate for forcing her to ingest the transmitter.
Vahn looked into her light-grey eyes and said, “I’m going to make the thing in your stomach go away, I need you to remain absolutely still.” Without responding at all, Preasia just looked down at Vahn with a blank expression that made him release a small sigh. Using his ‘Oblivion’ skill, Vahn identified the active component of the transmitter and severed it. Following that, he tried to destroy as much of the transmitter as possible and hoped her body would be able to process the rest later.
After the signal was lost, the men tracking Vahn became active and backtracked to the brokerage, likely to report what had happened. Since he wanted to buy time, Vahn used [Enkidu] from a distance and ran it through the two men’s achilles tendons before turning his attention back to the girls that had been staring at him with varying degrees of confusion on their faces. Vahn showed a small smile and explained, “Sorry you had to go through all of this, I’ll be releasing you all soon. You don’t have to call me Master, or anything else for that matter, just start thinking about what you want to do from now on. I’ll try and help you return to your families or see if I can find a safe place for you to stay if that is impossible.”
The eyes of every girl, except for Shiva and Preasia, became wide as they looked at Vahn as if he had just said something incredulous. By the time they processed his words, Emiru and Maemi hugged each other and fell to the ground as they started silently sobbing. Mona had a somewhat gentle and happy look in her eyes as she hugged her hands between her somewhat massive breasts. Shizune had a thoughtful expression and had turned her head to the east in silent contemplation. The only lacking reactions were Shiva, who had a contemptuous look in her eyes, and Preasia, who didn’t have any expression whatsoever.
Without saying anything, because she couldn’t speak, Shiva walked over and removed the band covering her slave seal. When Vahn saw her point at it, he understood what she wanted and shook his head from side-to-side. In response, Shiva’s contemptuous look grew deeper as she spat off to the side and sneered at Vahn. Knowing she was misunderstanding, Vahn explained, “Wait, I’ll release you soon, but first I need to remove the curse from your tongue. Though it’s a strange thing to admit, I’m somewhat afraid that you might bite me if I try to do it later…”
Though she still had a look of contempt on her face, Shiva tilted her head and stared at Vahn as if to ascertain if he was speaking the truth. Vahn showed a light smile and said, “Stick out your tongue, and please don’t bite me…” After frowning for a moment, Shiva eventually stuck out her tongue and revealed the triangular crest that had been embedded into its surface. Vahn could see there were tiny runes along the perimeter of the triangle and he used his domain so slowly break down the elemental laws that allowed the curse to function. He couldn’t remove the mark without a different method, but Vahn could at least remove its functionality and return her speech.
After around a minute, Shiva could feel a tingling sensation on her tongue as the restrictive force in her throat vanished entirely. She opened and closed her mouth a bit as if stretching her jaw before she looked at Vahn and said, “You’re a good kid. Now release me, I already have a place I can go.” Vahn sighed and said, “I’ll release you, but I’d like for you to stay here even when I remove your seal. There will probably be a few things that you need to tell the people that will come to investigate. Don’t worry, it won’t be anyone that can bring harm to you, just some people that I trust. After that, you’ll be free to go at your leisure…” Pulling out a few notes, Vahn handed them over to Shiva before removing her seal. He had given her 300,000V in hopes that she could use it to get herself back to a functional point in her life.
Shaking her hand a bit, Shiva rubbed the spot where the seal had been removed and had a cruel look in her eyes for a moment. She turned to Vahn after placing the notes into the lining of her bra and bowed slightly, “I misjudged you as another despotic fool at the slave house, I apologize. After I finish my business, I will see to the debt that I owe you.” Her words finished, Shiva sat down on the roof without minding her frilly maid outfit getting dirty at all.
After having them agree to stay in the area, Vahn freed the rest of the girls and told them to contemplate the future. If it was within his means, Vahn would help restore some normalcy to their lives. When they were all taken care of, Vahn sent a mental signal and, around two minutes later, a large dragon head appeared out of the shadows that sent each of the girls on high alert. Vahn explained that the dragon belonged to him before turning to Fafnir and saying, “I need you to pass a message to Milan and Chloe. Have them inform Eina about the current situation and then guide them back to my location.”
Fafnir nodded its head before taking the slip of paper into its mouth and responding with its telepathy, (*Okie-dokie~! Leave it to me Master!*) After its cheerful voice faded away, Fafnir disappeared from the room and Vahn turned to see the girls looking at him with strange expressions on their faces. Mona started laughing in a somewhat husky voice and said, “He is kind of cute.” Emiru and Maemi gave her a strange look before sitting down against the side of the roof and cuddling up next to each other. Preasia just stood idly by, even after her seal was removed, and had stayed silent for the entire time. Shiva looked like she wanted to say something, but kept it to herself as they all waited for the arrival of the reinforcements.
Not only Chloe, but Ryuu arrived on the roof sometime later in their full-combat attire. Chloe looked at the girls on the roof and asked, “Are these the girls you saved from the slave traffickers~nya?” Looking the girls over, Chloe noticed that they were all unique and somewhat exotic looking women. Though she knew Vahn’s character well, she couldn’t help but think he was trying to start some kind of strange collection due to his curiosity.
Vahn nodded his head and began explaining in detail everything that he had discovered, including the matter regarding Haruhime belonging to the Ishtar Familia. Even though he didn’t distrust the other six girls on the roof, Vahn didn’t use the names of anyone he knew and left out any details that could lead to trouble if they were spread. Even now, he hadn’t even told the six girls his real name and they still knew him as Yashima. Since they were both highly intelligent, Chloe and Ryuu quickly caught on and made sure not to let any information slip. They could always talk later in detail, once they situated the girls on the roof.
After exchanging information, Chloe left to observe the brokerage and make sure nobody tried to escape while Ryuu dealt with the men Vahn had injured earlier. Though Vahn didn’t want to get Ryuu involved in the darkness of society anymore, he couldn’t force her to go away when she had shown up and proactively decided to take action. A few minutes later, they had the two men bound up as a group arrived from the Guild accompanied by a host of guards and a tall man that looked to be around Level 5 based off his aura.
Before their testimonies were taken, Vahn had asked each of the girls what they wanted to do from now onwards. He had let them know that, if they chose to, he could arrange for them to join a Familia or even set them up with temporary housing. He had also sent a request to the Hostess of Fertility in his message earlier and gotten permission to send the girls there if the chose to stay in the City. When she had arrived, Ryuu passed him a small note that had been written by Syr and had been ‘approved’ by Mama Mia.
Though they had no combat potential presently, Emiru and Maemi said they wanted to stay with Vahn and work as logistics personnel or maids if possible. They had been sold by their families when there was a famine going on and, even if they could return, they didn’t want to go back to that kind of life. Since Vahn had treated them well, they wanted to pay him back until they found out what they wanted to do in the future. They had already thought they were going to be slaves for the rest of their lives, so neither girl had any plans and didn’t know how to get by in the City on their own.
Shiva said she had things to take care of and would likely be dealing with her own matters for the foreseeable future. She didn’t care about joining a Familia or settling down but promised to return the debt she owed Vahn in the future. As for Mona, she was interested in joining the Hostess of Fertility, since she had been a waitress back in her village. Ever since their village was ransacked by bandits, her life had been somewhat rough as she was treated like a toy by several men due to her ability to generate milk. For the last few years, she had actually had several masters that were interested in her milk for a time before returning her. She wanted an easy life that didn’t have too many responsibilities and heard Vahn mention the women’s dorm at the Hostess of Fertility.
Shizune wanted to venture back to the Far East and return to her hometown, but she wasn’t sure the best method to do so. She had been kidnapped by slave traders a long time ago and had spent more than five years as a slave. Though she was no longer a virgin, Shizune hoped she could find a good man far away from the nightmare she had lived for the last five years. With time, she hoped to return to a normal life and settle down to start a family back in her motherland.
The most problematic girl to deal with was Preasia, who had yet to say a single word even when they were back in the brokerage. She didn’t do anything to appeal to Vahn and just acted mechanically like a broken doll. Even though she was a virgin, she had been toyed with and tormented for several months before her previous master finally got bored of her. Even after Vahn released her seal, she just silently listened to his words and continued to stand a short distance away at all times. Vahn wanted to tell her that he could heal all of her wounds, but he was also somewhat hesitant to breach the subject since it would require physical contact to do so. Since the majority of her body, minus her face, was severely scarred, it would take a while for the procedure to complete.
Alongside the Guild entourage, Eina had also shown up and personally taken the testimony of each girl before sending the investigation team forward to crack down on Shauntac and his base of operations. It wouldn’t do much to fix the underlying problems of slavery within the City, but at least it would increase the caution of those involved and make them lay low for a bit. They would also take the girls within into a protection program and try to return them to their homes in a similar manner as Vahn was doing for the six girls. Those that had trouble returning to a normal life would be educated by the Guild and become future receptionists and attendants before likely finding a man and later retiring.
After leaving behind her testimony, Shiva disappeared from the rooftop with surprising agility while Shizune and Mona were escorted by Ryuu back to the Hostess of Fertility. Shizune had received money from Vahn to pay for her trip back home, but she wanted to stay in the City for a while and properly prepare for the voyage. Vahn then escorted Eina back to the Hearth Manor with Emiru, Maemi, and Preasia in tow. Vahn actually hoped that Fenrir and Tina would be able to help the girl open up and he wanted the other girls to explain the procedure to heal her body since he didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring it up himself. Emiru and Maemi would act as maids and help upkeep the Manor while also joining the Hestia Familia as Supporters.
Along the way, Eina had a strange look on her face as Vahn led her by hand through the dimming light of the afternoon. Vahn had noticed her look and said, “I’m sorry things got out of hand Eina…I just couldn’t abandon them when they were right in front of me.” Without his notice, the ears of the three girls behind them slightly twitched as Eina responded, “I know, Vahn, it’s just like you to do something like this…this is one of the reasons I never wanted you to go to the red light district in the first place. There is a lot of problems in an environment like that which even the Guild can’t regulate. Just promise this type of thing won’t happen in the future and that you’ll contact me before taking action like that…”
Vahn nodded his head and leaned down to give Eina a peck on the cheek before whispering, “Thank you, Eina…you really are always looking out for me. Every time I think about it, I can’t help but feel fortunate that you’ll soon be my wife…” As if he was actually imagining it, which he was, Vahn looked off into the void with a peaceful and happy expression on his face. Eina looked at him and had a somewhat bashful expression on her face as she released a sigh and muttered, “We might need to push up the marriage at this rate…”
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The Vahnguard Arrives’,’Twin Meido Obtained’,’Eina’s Lamentation’)