Aki had a reminiscent glint in her eyes, but Vahn could also see a touch of disappointment contained within as she narrated her story. She showed a ‘sad’ smile and continued, “You see, I joined the Loki Familia around seven years ago, when I was only twelve. Since I was too young to be an official adventurer, I acted as a support on the expeditions into the middle levels. There was a boy who joined around the same time as me, and we were both of a similar age and ended up working together a lot. His name is Raul, and he is the current commander of the second party of the Loki Familia…”
Aki’s ears flickered once before she turned to Vahn and asked, “Do you know why most girls become Adventurer’s when there are so many other professions available?” Vahn furrowed his brows in contemplation before saying, “Because they want to be stronger…this world isn’t that kind to people that are weak.” Aki nodded her head approvingly before saying, “That is one of the main reasons, but it is also because we want to be able to create a better future for ourselves. One of the best ways to make a lot of money and secure your own future is to become an Adventurer and eventually meet a capable partner to spend the rest of your life with. I don’t actually like fighting…it’s very stressful and I constantly have to put my life on the line if I want to earn enough money to support my equipment needs and living expenses.”
Looking toward empty space, Aki said with a melancholic smile on her face, “With a few exceptions, most girls want to meet a good guy before we get too old so that we can settle down and raise a family properly. The stronger you become as an adventurer, the greater the dangers you face. If we wait too long, there is a good chance that we could get killed, or the person we fall in love with would die and leave us alone in the world to take care of the children…” Hearing Aki’s words, Vahn remembered Milan and Tina and couldn’t help but frown slightly.
Aki laughed a bit and continued, “You see, I wanted to actually be done with adventuring before I reached twenty. I’ve already worked very hard and have been doing this for a large portion of my life. I’ve seen girls younger than me die within the dungeon, including some of my very good friends…I don’t want to be doing this forever, even though I don’t have any real aversion to the dungeon. I just want my life to have something more than struggles and hardships…but, it doesn’t seem like things were fated to be easy for me.” Aki began to laugh derisively at herself before a gentle smile appeared on her face and she stared into Vahn’s eyes.
Vahn thought she was expecting him to say something, but her smile widened a bit before he could find the words and she continued, “I got off on a bit of a tangent…well, as I was saying earlier, everything started with an idiot boy. Because we joined around the same time, Raul and I worked alongside each other and helped to support one another as we slowly increased our strength. After two years, we became official adventurers and even joined one of the smaller parties that went into the dungeon. We always watched out for each other, even though Raul has a very unreliable personality…he still put in a lot of efforts to protect everyone from harm.”
Aki breathed in shortly and released a sigh through her nose as she said, “But he really is an idiot…even though we spent so much time together…we even purchased similar types of weapons with matching guards so we could be closer to each other. However, even when I told him about my feelings and we became an actual couple…the only thing we ever did was hold hands on occasion. He always got very flustered and even started avoiding me when I tried to push his boundaries a bit. When he was finally made commander of the second party, he actually acted like we were never in a relationship in the first place, which I guess was true since we never even kissed.”
Shaking her head, Aki had a wry smile on her face and continued, “You know, after one of our successful expeditions, he even accompanied a group to the red light district.” Aki released a strange laugh before saying, “I heard later that, even though he paid for a prostitute and took an aphrodisiac, he actually just held the girl’s hand and slept quietly without actually doing anything. To make matters worse…that idiot actually picked a cat person prostitute with black hair!”
Releasing a sigh of frustration, Aki turned to Vahn with slightly furrowed brows and said, “After that, I officially broke things off with Raul and he expressed the desire for us to continue being ‘good friends’ with each other. Since I was his lieutenant, it wasn’t easy to get out of the situation so I just sucked it up and pretended like nothing had happened, which was pretty easy seeing as how we never did anything more than holding hands briefly…after that, I started to lose faith in several things, including my own charms as a woman…”
A light blush covered Aki’s face and Vahn could see a subtle pink color appear within her aura as she continued, “Loki-sama saw my state and…helped heal my heart a bit. Though it wasn’t too often, we spent a few nights together and she made me feel a little less insecure about things and encouraged me to continue trying.” At this point, Vahn’s brows had raised slightly and he had widened eyes as a ticklish sensation appeared in his stomach. He didn’t know how the man named Raul could have turned away such an adorable girl, especially till the point where she started seeking comfort from other girls…
After taking a few, slightly hot, breaths, Aki looked up at Vahn and said, “Don’t misunderstand…I’m not a lesbian or anything like that. I still even like Raul a bit, but I just don’t have any confidence that he would be a good partner anymore. After talking to Loki-sama and coming to understand the situation a bit, she recommended that I help out the Hestia Familia for the next year. If Raul really cares about me, he would try to come after me and bring me back…if things go well, I’d return to the Loki Familia after the cooldown for a conversion ends.”
Vahn nodded his head and said, “So, you’re just staying her temporarily to try and-” Before he could continue further, Aki shook her head and had a cheerful smile on her face as she said, “Don’t misunderstand, I’ve already set aside my desire to be with Raul more than a year ago when we officially ‘split’ up. The thing I’m looking for is a reliable man and safe place where I can find some solace for my heart and eventually retire to raise my own family. I’ve heard a lot about you from Loki-sama, and I don’t mind spending time with you if you’d be willing to accept me. I might give Raul a chance if he comes to the Hestia Familia and asks for me, but I don’t have any intentions to leave unless he puts in a lot of effort. I heard you were very affectionate and treated the women around you very well, so I’d like to experience what its like to be around a man that has a little more backbone…besides, Loki-sama told me that Hestia-sama would probably be in an unstable state for a while after you first had sex. If you need my assistance, I can help reign her in for you…”
At this point, Vahn’s expression was somewhat incredulous because of Aki’s words and how casually she brought up somewhat heavy topics. With a bit of apprehension, Vahn asked, “So, if I wanted to do something…” Aki’s smile widened a bit and a somewhat playful look appeared in her eyes as she said, “As long as you’re willing to take responsibility for me in the future, I don’t mind helping take care of your urges a bit. One of my roles here is to help keep stability within the Hestia Familia and help you have a somewhat normal relationship with girls. I might be willing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go out of my way to act uncouth when we’re supposed to be doing other things.”
Vahn was confused and Aki could see it in his expression, so she continued, “It means, keep intimate stuff for the night-time hours while focusing on business the rest of the time. If you’re always receptive to the advances of girls without regards to the time, place, and occasion, it’ll cause a lot of problems in the future. I heard you have a bad habit of ‘petting’ girls, so you’ll need to curb that habit a bit if you want to have normal relationships. For now, I’ll help keep the other girls under control and act as your secretary and lieutenant since I have a lot of experience managing the affairs of a Familia. I’ve noticed there are a lot of things missing around here, including an actual command structure and rules that everyone needs to abide by. You may not be aware of this, but most people that join a Familia undergo a contract-type vow with the god or goddess so they can’t easily jump ship. You have a lot of secrets to protect, but you’re surrounded by people that have no restrictions placed on the information they can spread to others…”
Vahn could feel his lips pursing instinctually as he listened to the ‘lecturing’ tone of Aki as she explained everything he had been overlooking since the Familia’s establishment. Since he treated everyone like ‘family’, Vahn didn’t want to place any restrictions on them at all. He trusted they wouldn’t say anything to bring him harm, but realized that Aki had a point, likely one that had been rooted in her mind by Loki herself. Even though Vahn was the Captain of the Familia, he hadn’t actually been doing anything other than taking care of his own matters while leaving everything else to others to deal with. Ryuu was very reliable, but she was only around during the mornings since she still spent the majority of her time at the Hostess of Fertility. This left a large gap in the chain of command and prevented any organizational regulations from ever forming to keep people in line. It might not be a problem now, but it could eventually become a big problem in the future if there wasn’t a proper command structure and rules for everyone to abide.
For nearly two hours, Aki continued to lecture Vahn about responsibilities and how he should carry himself around others. She said that, unless he planned on turning his Familia into his own personal ‘harem’, he needed to place restrictions on how the girls acted. She even used the fact that Welf had refused to join the Familia as justification and explained that he wouldn’t be able to invite men into the Familia unless a lot of changes took place in the future. Since so many of the girls had him as their focus, any other guys would only cause turmoil within the group and potentially cause problems if not managed accordingly. The best thing he could do, if he truly wanted to recruit men, would be to create a men’s dorm or split the Manor into sections for males and females while restricting ‘intimate’ relationships to being maintained outside of the Manor.
It was a strange revelation for Vahn, because he had never actually considered another person having sex inside the Manor other than himself. He imagined one of the guys he recruited sneaking off to a hidden area, like one of the studies, and making love to one of the girls in the Familia and it made him feel strangely uncomfortable. He even imagined what it would be like to accidentally stumble onto the scene of someone else’s intimacy and how awkward it would be to brush aside the matter and return to normal.
As if she could understand his thoughts, Aki laughed a bit and explained, “You see, when people are in a relationship like that, they normally move outside of the main residence of the Familia and move into the surroundings. If they want to stay in the dorms, they normally go out on dates before visiting one of the private rooms in the red light district to enjoy some time together. It’s actually very rare to be in the type of Familia that you’ve currently created…if it’s just you and a bunch of girls, things shouldn’t be too difficult to manage as long as you designate spaces for that type of activity. Since there are three sections to the Manor, you could specify a specific room for ‘intimate’ actions and then you’d know if a girl was seeking you out if you stopped by and saw them within…besides, I know you probably sleep with Hestia-sama every night, but that won’t always be the case in the future. There is also a problem with the scent…I was in your room last night, and it has a very powerful aroma all over the room. For some of the girls, that would be a big problem, so you might want to have multiple rooms that you sleep in where you can create sound dampening formations without having much furniture within so they can be cleaned easily…”
Vahn could feel his brain buzzing a bit, because it almost felt like they were discussing turning the entire Manor into his own personal residence where he could sleep with any woman he wanted as long as they were ‘present’ within certain areas. He could feel a heavy pressure and a cold sensation in his stomach since it actually seemed somewhat ‘wrong’ to treat his relationships in such a casual manner. There might be a lot of girls around him, but Vahn had never considered them to be ‘available’ whenever he was in the mood. Other than someone like Loki…Vahn actually didn’t think it was that easy to approach the girls and always waited for them to take action. He knew, especially after the incident with Hestia, that this wasn’t necessarily a good thing, but Vahn wanted to keep things in moderation without pressuring the girls around him.
Seeing his silent and contemplative state, Aki smiled and said, “You really don’t have to worry about it so much Vahn. You’re still very young, and there are a lot of things you’ve yet to experience in life so don’t get too caught up in the details. I’ll help manage things while you focus on your own work, so just let me know if there is anything you want to change I’ll do my best to implement it. Your focus right now should the Ishtar Familia and dealing with Hestia-sama’s current state of mind. Loki-sama told me that she would probably be trying to make you do several strange things because of her own insecurities, so you’ll need to find a way to reign her in without hurting her too badly. The best method would be to invite other girls to sleep with you, since the biggest problem would be Hestia-sama trying to monopolize you…I can’t speak from experience, but Loki-sama said it isn’t uncommon for virgin goddesses to go a little crazy after they first lose their virginity.”
Vahn nodded his head mechanically because he was the most aware of the changes in Hestia ever since their initial union. Every time they were alone, she was practically glued to his body and was always doing very uncharacteristic things. She had a bit of desperation in each of her actions and Vahn felt like it wasn’t getting any better just because he spent more time with her. In fact, the more time they spent together, the more her nature was changing and she was becoming increasingly more possessive…at least at night and in the mornings. Vahn even feared that she was developing a strange dependency on sex, similar to what he had been encouraged to avoid after he first lost his virginity.
Aki’s tailed flickered a bit and she said, “I was told that, if you couldn’t find a solution on your own, I could help you reign in Hestia-sama a bit. If you weren’t receptive to that, you could just implement a rule that everyone sleeps in their own rooms at night to prevent future complications. It might be difficult at first, but it’ll probably be better for everyone in the long run and give us enough time to come up with a solution for the future. I can discuss it with the other girls on the network and tell them about some of the things that Hestia-sama has probably been keeping secret from everyone. She won’t be able to easily oppose the consensus of the group, so that would probably be the best course of action if she begins to spiral out of control. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you decide to do…I’ll just be here if you need my help with anything.”
Vahn gave Aki a wry smile because it felt like she was making a lot of sacrifices just to help him out. After he heard her story earlier, Vahn knew she had troubles finding love and had even spent some intimate moments with Loki. Her presence here showed that she was willing to throw herself into the chaotic entanglement of his life without any real commitment other than doing what she thought best for her own happiness. In a way, she reminded him a lot of Tiona, except that she had a very rational and stable mentality that could take the important details of a matter into consideration. The fact that she made herself open to his advances actually made it very difficult for Vahn to not want to pursue her a bit…
Reaching out his hand, Vahn wanted to pet Aki’s ears but she intercepted and asked, “Do you intend to make this library that kind of place? I don’t mind, but what if someone shows up and walks in on us…?” Aki had a slight blush on her face and Vahn could see her aura flare up a bit and it made him swallow at the implication behind her words. He just wanted to pet her head a bit, but she interpreted it to have a greater connotation since, as he was just now remembering, it was typically only acceptable for lovers and close family to rub the ears of a cat person.
Vahn smiled and pulled away his hand and explained, “Sorry, I just felt a bit grateful for everything you were doing…I have a bit of a habit of petting the heads of girls around me. I’ll stop if you think its a problem…” Aki laughed and covered her mouth with squinted eyes as she said, “No, I don’t mind at all. Like I said earlier, as long as you’re willing to accept responsibility…I really do want to be treated well by an accomplished and handsome man…I wouldn’t have come here just because Loki-sama asked me to if I didn’t have a few expectations of my own. It’s just that, unless you plan on changing the nature of the Familia a bit, you should only do that kind of thing in ‘private’. Just because we’re alone, that doesn’t mean we’re enjoying actual privacy…unless this room isn’t a common area that other people can visit?”
Vahn ruminated over her words a bit and almost explained that he was the only person that really used this library, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t accessible by others. Haruhime usually joined him when he was reading, and Preasia had also visited in the past. Though he could detect their approach, if he actually did anything with Aki, Vahn knew the girls would be able to tell what happened based on ‘smell’ alone. Since there were a number of beast-people in the house, Vahn really needed to be more careful about his actions or it could cause problems for some of the other girls.
Aki saw the contemplative expression of Vahn and scootched over next to him until their hips were touching each other. Vahn looked over and saw her tail twitching about while there was a casual, kind, smile on her face as she looked up at him. She was only 158cm tall, so she had to look up a bit to make eye contact with him. With a strangely ‘happy’ look on her face, Aki whispered, “If it’s just a bit, I’ll make an exception…we haven’t actually made up any rules yet after all. As long as its more than just holding hands…” Vahn smiled, but he was actually trying to stifle a small laugh because he could feel a bit of the resentment Aki had in her voice. He could tell she still liked the man named Raul, since she wouldn’t harp over the matter if it wasn’t important to her. Vahn could also see that, though her aura had a pink hue to it, her actual affection toward him was on the lower end at 63 points. Though he felt a little guilty, Vahn thought that Aki was a very beautiful girl and didn’t have a lot of resistance when it came to dealing with girls that had already made their resolve. Placing his right hand around her waist, Vahn held Aki’s body a little closer to his own and began stroking her ears affectionately. The moment he did so, her affection immediately jumped up to 80 and the pink within her aura became more pronounced.