Chapter 281: Arrival

After updating her Status Board, Vahn informed Haruhime about the changes in her parameters as well as her new skill and Development Ability. She was highly enthused to learn she had obtained the highly sought after [Spirit Healing] Development Ability since it was one of the most important skills she could obtain if she wanted to become a caster and support specialist. Since Haruhime’s main parameter was magic, it would be one of the more useful abilities she could learn when leveling up and she had now obtained it, not for free, but as proof of the ‘bond’ between her and Vahn.

With a happy smile on her face, Haruhime leaned in and tried to embrace Vahn, but he grabbed her shoulders with his hands and said, “Fix your kimono Haruhime…” Since he had given her the flame seed and then checked her Status, Haruhime still had her kimono drooping off her shoulders and around her wait. Hearing his words, Haruhime looked down at her bare breasts before placing her right hand over her heart and saying, “I can feel it…it’s like my emotions are burning in my chest and giving me strength…”

Vahn smiled wryly after seeing her ignore his words, so he reached forward and grabbed the sides of her kimono and raised it back to her shoulders himself. Haruhime’s eyes squinted until Vahn pat her on the head and said, “I’ll help you become stronger as well, so keep working hard and we’ll both make our dreams come true.” Haruhime showed a gentle smile and began fixing her clothes before resuming her generally elegant behavior. Tucking her feet up under her body, she leaned into Vahn’s shoulder and picked up the book he had been reading earlier before flipping it open.

With his hand along the back of the couch, Vahn let Haruhime lean against his chest while listening to her eloquently enunciate each word in the story. He had never been read to in this manner before, so Vahn enjoyed the moment by leaning back with his eyes closed while casually running his left hand along the smooth tail of Haruhime. Vahn slowly began to relax and enjoyed the time they spent together without doing anything to forward and pushing the boundaries. He was serious about Haruhime improving his strength first since it would cause problems if he started spreading himself thin trying to protect a lot of weak people. It would simply increase the amount of stress he was under and could potentially cause conflict within the group since there were other girls working hard to improve.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful other than the fact that Hestia was acting openly affectionate during lunch. In the afternoon, Vahn continued to work on designs with his primary focus being functionality over form. He didn’t want to make any big design changes without input from the girls that would be wearing the equipment and also knew that both Tiona and Ais were in their growth phases. Since Ais was much smaller and immature than her future self, Vahn knew it would require a lot of effort to re-design equipment that kept up with her growth.

By the time dinner came, Vahn was a little sad that neither Tiona or Ais had stopped by, but he found out from Hestia, who had talked to Loki, that they were planning to stop by the following day. When he heard the news, Vahn was all smiles but Hestia seemed to have a switch flip inside of her so she dragged him to the bath afterward and they washed each other. Vahn felt like Hestia was somewhat unstable but attributed it to the fact that it was because she had just lost a virginity that she had protected for her entire long existence.

From Vahn’s perspective, it wouldn’t have made sense if she was entirely okay considering the amount of time she had protected it. Remember her words from before the event, how he should be grateful that she was giving it to him, Vahn decided to treat them seriously so he cherished her and tended to her various demands. Even if things got a little out of hand, Vahn knew Hestia would cool down a bit with time and the influence of other people on the network.

While they were bathing together, Hestia thought she had another ‘brilliant’ idea and, since they were alone, she wanted to have sex in the onsen. Vahn held her close and treated her body lovingly and helped calm her down while explaining there should be a time and place for everything. Vahn assumed that it would be next to impossible to actually enter Hestia inside the onsen since any of her love juices would be dispersed by the water. Without a lubricating medium, Vahn didn’t think things would go well and proved it to Hestia when tried inserting a finger into the tender flesh.

Realizing that Vahn was correct, Hestia ended up cutting the bath somewhat short with the excuse they could just take one in the morning. Vahn conceded, but only after they had performed a cursory wash and rinse of their bodies. To help ease her tensions, Vahn carried Hestia in a princess carry through the Manor and avoided detection since the other girls had entered the bath earlier. When they finally arrived in their room, Hestia had already started shedding petals and had an enamored and possessive look in her eyes that was somewhat intimidating.

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Since Hestia lacked stamina, she didn’t last long before collapsing from exhaustion. In the short ten minute interval, she had once again tried to ride Vahn’s hips from a seated position while using some strange breathing technique to try and force himself deeper inside of her. Hestia made it about 60% of the way before she couldn’t put any strength into her legs and abdomen anymore. With labored breathing, Hestia collapsed onto Vahn’s chest and he gently embraced her for a while until her breathing returned to normal.

Afterward, Hestia entrusted her body to Vahn and he used a combination of massage techniques, not using [Hands of Nirvana], and the knowledge he had of Hestia’s body to push her over the edge of pleasure once again. She had taken to clinging to his arms and trying to hug his legs with her as if she were trying to keep him inside of her. Vahn had tried something new and rolled Hestia’s breasts with his tongue which made her eventually cry out and hug his head with unnatural strength. Since it was something new, Vahn had gotten somewhat immersed in the act since the texture of Hestia’s nipple in his mouth was interesting.

By the time of his ejaculation, Vahn had helped Hestia orgasm three times before she yet again requested to sleep while holding each other. Vahn was adapting somewhat to the omnidirectional vice-like grip of Hestia’s v***** and just stroked her long black hair until she eventually fell asleep. Even though he felt somewhat uncomfortable, Vahn was very aware that Hestia was beginning to loosen up a bit when relaxed. She still became ‘dangerous’ during her climaxes, but Vahn was able to prepare himself properly by observing the changes in her body. As long as he wasn’t caught out of her too much, it wasn’t that difficult to tolerate.

During the next morning, Hestia still acted a bit spoiled and even wanted Vahn to carry her to the bath before the other girls woke up. He accepted her words until she wanted to stay connected along the way which he adamantly refused. Though he wasn’t aware of the trait, Vahn didn’t want to become an exhibitionist that did sexual acts where other’s might see them. Even if he could track the presence of everyone and avoid detection, Vahn knew it was a deviant behavior that should be avoided. Hestia eventually gave up trying to convince him and he just carried her in a normal princess carry, both to the bath and back to the bed.

When Vahn left to begin his training, Hestia watched his back with a bit of longing in her eyes as she placed her hand on her lower abdomen. Though she made progress by following the advice of Loki, it wasn’t nearly to the point she wanted to be at. She wanted her body to adapt to Vahn completely and felt a little lonely when he finally parted from her. Whenever they were together, Hestia felt like they were part of the same entity and didn’t know how Vahn could so easily leave her behind in the room. She knew he had responsibilities, obligations, and dreams for the future, but she still wished he would make a few concessions. Because she had only recently descended, Hestia’s sense of time still hadn’t adapted to mortal sensibilities yet. As an entity that had lived for millions of years, it was difficult to adapt her mentality to one that placed emphasis on each individual day.

During the training, Vahn noticed that Haruhime was putting in a lot of effort and had even started practicing [Concurrent Chanting] with Ryuu since her primary attribute was magic. She didn’t want to be a pure caster, since she knew the significance of mobility, so Haruhime wanted to quickly learn how to cast magic while on the move. She didn’t yew know any new magic, but Vahn had been planning to purchase some grimoires for her soon. He had already given her some books related to the fundamentals of magic, but they didn’t actually help Haruhime learn any magic to cast. Vahn intended to introduce her to Lefiya and Riveria, since they would probably be able to teach her the fundamentals properly while improving her understanding of how to situationally cast magic. Since Lefiya could literally use any magic she knew the chant of, she could be considered the perfect mentor for aspiring mages.

After the training was finished, Ryuu left the house after sharing a short embrace with Vahn and disappearing into the morning mist to return to the Hostess of Fertility. The rest of the girls went to bathe, including Preasia who was making an effort to open up to the others alongside Fenrir. Even though Fenrir wasn’t able to curb her urges by going into the dungeon right now, she was able to keep her frustrations under control because she had been so focused on Preasia for the last few days. Just as she had become the mascot of the girls on the network, all of the new girls were actually very fond of Fenrir because she often acted cute unintentionally. Even the twins, Emiru and Maemi, who seemed to be somewhat fearful of her, were always treating her well and had even helped dress her up in some new clothing.

Vahn once again read alongside Haruhime and they enjoyed a quiet atmosphere with each other until lunchtime had eventually come around. To supplements Fenrir’s needs, Vahn made sure there was always a healthy amount of ‘hard’ food for her to eat since she didn’t particularly care for the taste. Preasia had become her support for eating most foods, but left Fenrir to eat things like metal on her own. Everyone had been told about the dangers of Fenrir’s teeth and claws, so they showed the proper caution. Even though she had made drastic improvements, Fenrir still had a tendency to leave small pock marks on the table on accident.

During the afternoon, while Vahn was working, he detected the presence of five people and a smile immediately appeared on his face. Instead of walking through the annex and following the corridors through the east wing, Vahn leaped out the nearby window that was left open for ventilation. When he landed outside, he used Shundo to navigate around the Manor and intercepted the approaching group that consisted of Tiona, Ais, Tione, Lefiya, and a black-haired cat girl that had a lithe figure and very beautiful features with long black hair and black eyes. Though he was previously excited, Vahn couldn’t help but feel like there was something strange about this situation. Even before they exchanged words, Vahn felt that Loki was trying to help him out but had sent a beautiful girl with cat ears and a tail onto his doorstep and he immediately felt a small headache…

Because he had come to a stop, Tiona decided to come forward and meet Vahn but dashed across the courtyard and throwing herself around his neck. Vahn’s body spun with her momentum and he wrapped his arms around Tiona’s waist as they shared a passionate kiss to celebrate their reunion. When they finally parted, Tiona exclaimed with a happy smile on her face, “I’m happy to see you again Vahn. Also, that weapon you made me is amazing~!” To ‘thank’ him even more, Tiona squeezed Vahn’s ribs with her monstrous strength and happily spun his body around a bit before Ais walked over and said, “Tiona, you’re hurting Vahn…bad.” With a sheepish laugh, Tiona set Vahn back on the ground before ‘dusting’ off his tunic with her hands and apologizing.

After Tiona separated from him, Ais walked forward with [Gram] sheathed at her hip even though most of the other girls were without their weapons. She thumbed the hilt affectionately before staring into Vahn’s eyes and saying, “Thank you very much…I love this sword.” Vahn tilted his head a bit with a smile on his face before wrapping his arms around Ais and tilting her head to kiss her lips for several long seconds. When they parted for a bit, Ais looked up with a slight glimmer in her eyes and mumbled, “I love Vahn more though…” Vahn was incited by her words and tried to kiss Ais again, but a cough came from the side and they both looked over to see Tione with an emotionless expression as she said, “It’s cold out here.”

Hearing her words, Vahn looked her over before turning his attention back to Tiona and saw they were both wearing their normal attire while walking around barefoot even though it was nearly zero degrees outside. They didn’t seem to mind the cold much, but Vahn saw that Lefiya was wearing a thick coat and her ears had turned red from exposure so he led them into the warm interior of the Manor before escorting them to the study. Hestia had known of their arrival, but she was lounging about lazily while ignoring the group since she knew she would probably cause trouble in her current state.

When they sat down, the twins had actually come into the room with a tray of tea and snacks which caused Tione to ask sarcastically, “Look Tiona, even though there is already a set of twins around him, Vahn seems insatiable and finds another pair…” Continuing off her words, though with humor instead of coldness, Tiona laughed and said, “Aren’t they super cute~? I miss when we used to look identical to each other. Instead, I fell behind a bit…ehehehe…maybe not though?” Tiona pressed her breasts together with a hint of sadness in her eyes before clinging to Vahn and rubbing her cheek against his.

Vahn was sitting with Tiona and Ais at his flanks while the other three girls sat on the opposite sofa. After leaving behind the tea, the twins bowed politely before excusing themselves from the room. Since Lefiya and the unknown cat person hadn’t said anything, Vahn showed courtesy and greeted everyone, “It’s good to see everyone again after being separated for so long. Especially…Ais, Tiona…I missed you.” Vahn grabbed both of their hands before turning his attention to the girls across from him and continuing, “Tione and Lefiya as well, it feels like we don’t get to spend enough time with each other even though you’re always accompanying these two. Did you find the weapons I gave you to be useful?” Vahn wanted to know who the stranger was, but he didn’t want to overlook matters and behave strangely so he asked about something that Tiona and Ais had both mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, Vahn didn’t know his words triggered the landmine known as Tione as she immediately responded, “Oh, were they meant to be useful!? I thought the swords you gave me were decorative after seeing what everyone else was using! Tell me Vahn, do you have some personal vendetta against me that makes you want to treat me poorly compared to everyone else!?” Tione had a frustrated expression on her face that made Vahn’s eyes open wide in confusion. He remembered her being the type that teased others, not someone that got emotional and had inexplicable outbursts.

Ais frowned while even Tiona had a somewhat serious expression on her face as she stared at her twin sister who was unfairly accusing Vahn as she said, “Tione, you know Vahn isn’t that type of person at all. You’re not a newbie, you know those swords of your’s would probably cost more than a million valis yet he gave them to you completely free of charge. Even if you’re frustrated with Finn, that doesn’t give you any right to take it out on Vahn when he had treated us all fairly.”

As if offended by Tiona’s words, Tione scowled and turned her head to the side and said, “Fairly? Easy to say when you’re one of the girls that get to receive all the benefits…I just get the leftovers out of pity. I guess I haven’t given him enough ‘benefits’ to enjoy preferential treatment. Even though you got to bathe with me and even slept with my own twin…tsk.” Vahn was often passive when he was being spoken to, but he couldn’t stand the accusations of Tione so he stated firmly, “When I took a bath with everyone, it was with the consent…of almost everyone present. The gifts I gave you afterward had nothing to do with that at all, and my relationship with Tiona has always been one of mutual love. I don’t exchange items for ‘benefits’ with anyone.”

Surprisingly, the first person to take to Vahn’s side after he spoke was Lefiya, who was still holding the [Heal] staff that Vahn had given her in the past. Ironically, she was the only person of the four that had received an item that he hadn’t personally forged and technically had the greatest right to argue against him. Instead, Lefiya looked at Tione and said, “Vahn has always been a gentle person that treated everyone around him fairly. It isn’t right that you expect him to give you the same treatment as his actual lovers when there isn’t a strong bond between you…” Even though she had a blush on her face, Lefiya did her best to state her words confidently.

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Tione still had a frustrated expression on her face, but she was no longer scowling since there wasn’t much she could saw when her only ‘ally’ had taken Vahn’s side. Looking around, she saw everyone giving her strange and serious looks and suddenly began to feel a little uncomfortable because she knew she was the one in the wrong, not Vahn. She was just lashing out at him because of her failures to approach Finn and how happy Tiona and Ais had been ever since their return journey. Even Lefiya had been in good spirits the entire way back…of course, the biggest impact had been when the expedition reunited with Loki.

Everyone could tell she was practically glowing and was fiercely motivated when talking about the upcoming Wargames with the Ishtar Familia. Her behavior was unnatural and it wasn’t easy to guess something had happened between her and Vahn very recently. When they were alone, with just the girls, Loki had explained things in detail and even given them their own scrolls for the network including a logbook of everything they had missed during the expedition. The girls had a small slumber party where they went over everything and discussed plans for the future…Tione couldn’t deny that she was very jealous of everyone.

The final straw had been when Loki actually asked Anakitty, the cat girl who had yet to be introduced to Vahn, to temporarily join his Familia to help protect and train the new girls. She even gave her a warning that Vahn might try to approach her while layering on ‘advice’ to each of the girls about what to pay attention to if things start to progress. Though she had a crush on Raul, the commander of the 2nd party, Anakitty had been shunned by him due to his dense and timid personality and was interested to meet the boy that had impacted the lives of so many girls, including her goddess and two highly sought after ‘flowers’.

As if she had a minor epiphany, Tione looked over at Anakitty, who had been silently sitting at the side wondering if she was ever going to be acknowledged. With a ‘cruel’ smile on her face, Tione leaned forward a bit but was interrupted when Tiona asked plainly, “Tione, do you want to become one of Vahn’s lovers too~? I don’t mind, what about you Ais?” Tione’s plan began to break down and was completely crushed when Ais responded, “Nn, I think Tione is behaving strangely. If you like Vahn, you just have to tell him…”

Vahn’s brows raised as he looked between the two girls curiously before locking eyes with the befuddled Tione across from him. Her aura had been chaotic before, but now it was like a wispy flame with a bit of pink intermixed with purples and greens. Since he had touched her previously, Vahn could see that Tione’s affection for him was at 85(Confused) so he was certain she didn’t currently like him as the two indicated. He assumed something had probably happened between her and Finn and the gift he had given her had somewhat served as a catalyst to make her frustrations worse. Shaking his head, Vahn said in a serious tone, “Don’t worry Tione, I was planning to help everyone make equipment by request soon. I didn’t want to trouble Hephaestus with having to do all the work, so I was going to bring up the idea and personally forge things. It hasn’t been announced yet, but I’ve already reached [Master Smith] and have some confidence in my skill.”

Tione faltered even further while Tiona, Ais, and Lefiya all congratulated Vahn with various degrees of happiness. As the two that had benefited the most from Vahn’s equipment, Tiona and Ais were very much looking forward to receiving anything he designed for them. Though Hephaestus was a much more prolific blacksmith, she didn’t have the attention to detail that Vahn had since he was very familiar with their capabilities and personalities.

Using it as an opportunity, the black haired cat girl decided to take the initiative and said, “Congratulations on becoming a [Master Smith] Vahn. I’m Anakitty Autumn, by the way~!” Vahn smiled at the beautiful cat girl and bowed slightly before saying, “Ms. Autumn, I’m sorry for the late introductions. As you know, I’m Vahn Mason, Captain of the Hestia Familia, and it is my honor to meet you.” Vahn would always refer to girls by their family names when first meeting them, even though they would usually immediately correct his form of address. As expected, Anakitting waved her hand dismissively and said, “Don’t mind such formalities, Vahn, we’ll probably be spending a lot of time together for the next year or so and it’ll be awkward if you act so reservedly.”

Though he tried hard to prevent it from showing on his face, Vahn’s expression loosened a bit and he released a sight that was a mixture of more emotions than he could identify. Anakitty’s ears twitched and she tilted her head to the side in a confused manner. She replayed her words over in her mind and couldn’t understand Vahn’s reaction at all but was interrupted by Tione, who had managed to recover after suffering an impact from Vahn’s ‘revelation’. Standing up from the sofa, Tione had an expressionless face as she asked, “Is there a training grounds…?” Vahn didn’t know why she was asking at first, but suddenly realized she probably wanted to break something given how her aura was flaring up. He originally thought she wanted to go release some stress so he nodded his head and was going to give her directions before she said, “I want to fight you Vahn.”

(A/N: Not a lot of chapters today, but you’ll notice that some are 3-4k words. I managed 118k words last week, and I’ll be trying to average between 100-120k words (50-60 chapters of content) for the time being. Let me know if you think the chapters should be shortened or if you like the longer blocks of content more.)

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