Chapter 294: Reflection

After carrying Aki to her room, Vahn decided to get some fresh air and sat out on the balcony as he overlooked the property surrounding the Manor. It was already nearing 3 AM, so Vahn didn’t see the point in returning to sleep after having been awoken and participating in a duel. Even though he had calmed down, Vahn still felt a bit of excitement that made his blood boil in anticipation. Since he had just recently fought with Tione, Vahn was a bit uncertain about the growth of his own strength. The duel with Tammuz had been a good opportunity for him to develop a bit of awareness for his own growth and he now realized that he was very strong, but could still grow much stronger. Even without delving into the dungeon, Vahn could fight well above his level depending on how he uses his skills in the future.

Vahn didn’t often have the opportunity to fight against strong opponents, and it was distinctly different from his experience fighting within the dungeon. Monsters were very strong, arguably stronger than most adventurers, but they had a very static way of fighting. As long as you could outmaneuver them and find an opening, it wasn’t actually that difficult to defeat most monsters. Even something like the Goliath, a creature much stronger than himself, wasn’t too difficult to defeat if he was properly prepared. If he fought it at his current strength, Vahn was confident he would defeat the titanic monster without taking a single hit. The important thing to note was that Vahn’s actual strength hadn’t grown much since then, yet his combat capabilities had drastically increased through practice and training. Just learning Shundo had pushed his capabilities to a point where most people, even those stronger than himself, weren’t his opponents.

After he leveled up a few more times, Vahn couldn’t imagine another Adventurer being his opponent, even the ‘monstrously strong’ Ottar that he knew would be supporting Freya. Though Vahn had never met the man, his ‘legend’ was well known throughout the City and he was inarguably considered the strongest Adventurer because of his alias, The King. Vahn felt that, as long as he reached Level 5, even the ‘strongest’ Adventurer might not be his opponent if he avoided direct confrontation against him. Since he could freely maneuver within his domain, there weren’t many, if any, opponents that would be able to land a hit on him. If he switched to ranged combat, or learned a few magic spells, Vahn felt like he would be unrivaled amongst his peers.

Of course, this was assuming he could become strong enough to reach that point and obtain Level 5. Vahn knew it was actually very difficult to increase your parameters unless you were fighting against monsters that allowed you to push beyond your limits. Because he was already capable of fighting things above his level, it meant he would actually struggle to increase his parameters further. It wasn’t a simple situation where he could just mindlessly kill monsters and eventually grew strong; Vahn had to genuinely expose himself to threats and overcome intense difficulties if he wanted to reach the point where he was without equal.

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This was the big reason most people never got beyond Level 3, much less the rare adventurer’s that reached Level 5. As your capabilities increased, and you used higher quality equipment, it actually became increasingly difficult to become stronger. This was why the Loki Familia used a rather strenuous method to increase their strength, which was to allow their members to fight against powerful variants and bosses on their own. They would only step in if the person was unable to defeat their opponent, but this didn’t remove the threat completely. One accident would result in someone dying, and there was actually a high mortality rate amongst rookie adventurers and supporters that accompanied the expeditions.

Vahn began to wonder if there was a more efficient way to increase strength, not only for himself, but for the benefit of his allies and those within his own Familia. He had already observed from watching Ryuu and Fenrir, but they gained almost nothing from killing monsters on the upper floors. Fenrir had probably slain well over ten-thousand monsters and had only marginally increased her status. Since Vahn was somewhat overprotective, he couldn’t easily watch those within his charge expose themselves to danger. This might protect their lives, but it also stunted their growth because they had a mental reliance on him and knew he would always step in to save them.

Vahn released a sigh that caused a large cloud of condensation to build up before dispersing in the surroundings. Just his normal body temperature was enough to make steam rise from his exposed skin while he was sitting idly on the edge of the balcony. Right now, it was cold enough that ice was building up on the grass within the courtyard yet Vahn was able to sit with his torso exposed without any discomfort whatsoever. He was acclimating himself to being in his Xuánwǔ form and he drew a striking sight for anyone that might be observing from the distance.

—-

Within the highest floor of Babel Tower, a beautiful silver-haired goddess dazedly stared into a giant mirror that glowed with a magical light. Because of the angle, she could see Vahn sitting on the edge of his balcony with the cloudy sky and waning moon was a backdrop. She had a fervent expression on her face as a strange red glow was reflected in her eyes as she marveled at his figure under the influence of his Xuánwǔ transformation. Other than when he was within the protective formations of the Manor, the goddess had been watching his every move after knowing about the movements of Tammuz. Since Ishtar often interfered with her plans, the goddess, Freya, also kept tabs on her and had been observing the progress of events to see if she could find a method to garner Vahn’s attention.

Even though Hephaestus had restricted her from approaching Vahn, it didn’t mean she couldn’t find ways to make him want to come to her. Freya might not be able to do things directly, but if his actions overlapped with her own plans there was always a way around the vow that kept her at bay. Now that her enemy, Ishtar, was also the enemy of Vahn, Freya was very tempted to deal with the problematic goddess. Even without approaching Vahn, there was a chance he would come to her after the fact since she knew his character was very ‘genuine’. If nothing else, she could use it as leverage against Hephaestus and Loki to ease tensions and potentially have the vow she was under revoked.

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Though he couldn’t feel her touch, Freya stroked Vahn’s face through the reflection and had an enamored look in her eyes as she whispered, “Vahn…when will you be mine~? Do you not grow tired of the company of such troublesome girls…should I perhaps rid you of them to make your life easier? Nnnn~” Freya kissed the reflection of Vahn and laid against the reflective surface of the magical tool as if her actions could bring her closer to the boy contained within. As Freya’s vow only restricted her from scheming to interfere with Vahn, there was nothing that protected the other girls from her unless she specifically did it to get to Vahn.

There were loopholes to everything, and Freya was very experienced with getting her way if it came down to it. She couldn’t stand to see someone with so much potential escape her grasp, especially after watching him dominate someone above his own level…his figure when he was fighting was already deeply engraved in her body, especially when he had the tyrannical look on his face when he burned the eyes of his opponent. The moment he had stabbed Tammuz through the heart, Freya felt as if her own heart had been prodded and she couldn’t help but climax a little.

Freya released a hot sigh that marred the surface a bit as she comforted herself overtop Vahn’s reflection. A deep blush began to cover her face as she traced her free hand over the figure of Vahn and imagined what it would be like if they were together. All she needed was a single instance and he would be her’s forever…this thought alone, where Vahn serviced her with his stoic and tyrannical expression was enough to bring her to the height of pleasure. She wanted to cultivate his potential and see how far he could grow since even she couldn’t see his limits without being able to observe his soul.

She knew he was definitely keeping it hidden somewhat because she had been keeping track of the events involving the Anubis and Osiris Familia’s in the past. For someone like Anubis to begin following Vahn after their first meeting, Freya knew there was something incredibly unique about Vahn’s soul even without seeing it for herself. This was the only reason she could think of for someone like Hephaestus, who typically avoided contact with people, and the trickster goddess Loki to band together and protect him.

Freya moaned loudly and collapsed against the reflective surface of the magic tool before removing her hand and blankly staring at the moisture on her fingers. She gingerly extended her tongue to sample her own flavor before a drop of moisture fell onto the image of Vahn below her. She looked down at his face, solemnly staring into the distance while wearing the moon as his silhouette before wiping her own nectar across the reflection of his body. Even though it wasn’t really Vahn, Freya felt a possessive desire and called out, “Ottar…gather everyone. Ishtar has interfered with my affairs for far too long as is…” As her words fell, a large silhouette that had been watching the events from start to finish nodded before responding, “As you will.”

As Ottar exited the room, Freya stood up and the magic tool grew dim as the image of Vahn faded away. She walked into the adjacent room, which was a boudoir that contained an ensemble of outfits. Freya dragged her finger along the incredibly expensive assortment of dresses and mused aloud, “I wonder…what is the most appropriate dress to wear when sending off a dear friend~?” Freya’s hand stopped on a beautiful black one-piece dress that had a deep v-cut on the front and completely exposed the back. It was form fitting and made of an incredibly expensive silk that could only be obtained from the Far East. Even though it had no defensive capabilities, the dress cost a total of 20,000,000 Valis and Freya thought it was suitable for the occasion.

After removing the dress from the hangar, Freya laid it against the intricately designed chaise lounge as the godly attire she was wearing began to fall as petals to the floor. If Vahn had been present, he would have noticed the dress disassembled in the same way as Hestia’s, even though it was predominantly black with red petals instead of the pure white of Hestia’s. Though there was no one present to admire her figure, Freya still cut a beautiful image in the low-light of the room as she stood with her body completely exposed to the night air. She traced her hands along her body and mused toward the moon overhead, “I wonder when you’ll warm my cold body…Vahn.”

Unaware of the death sentence that had been passed on her, a beautiful brown-skinned goddess kicked the relatively handsome messenger that had been kneeling at her feet. She had just learned that Tammuz had not only failed his mission, but he had even died at the hands of the boy she currently set her sights on. She chewed the long fingernail of her thumb and had a vexxed look on her face as she shouted, “Phyrene, isn’t there something we can do about this situation? Can’t you send Aisha to crush that puny little Familia and get back my slave!?”

In response to Ishtar’s outburst, a massive lump of flesh in the shape of a woman rolled over to stare at the anxious Ishtar. She was more than 200cm in height and weighed more than 240kg and had the face of a frog with ‘healthy’ brown skin and somewhat visible muscles. Though there were few people that would agree with the claim, this titanic lump of flesh was the Captain of the Ishtar Familia and considered herself to be the most beautiful woman within the entire group, even compared to the Goddess of Beauty, Ishtar.

After tracing her thick tongue across her lips, the Amazon named Phyrene looked at Ishtar through beady eyes and said, “Why are you always so stupid Ishtar-sama? The whole reason you sent that dumbass was because the Alliance would have come to protect the Hestia Familia if we took any major action. All you’re doing is making matters more troublesome, and now we even lost a combatant even though there is an upcoming Wargames.”

Ishtar scowled at Phyrene and shouted, “I don’t see you coming up with any ideas! If we can’t recover that Renard brat, there would be no way for us to oppose Freya in the future. Damnit, why am I surrounded by lazy incompetents while that bitch gets to surround herself with handsome men all day…” In response to Ishtar, Phyrene spat a large wad of spit onto the ground and remarked, “What an ugly personality…blaming others because of your own ineptitude. Well, whatever, as long as we deal with the Loki Familia in the future we’ll be able to recover that brat and then you can do whatever you want with her. I want that boy though, yeah, Vahn Mason was it? I’m certain he’ll be able to appreciate my beauty, wahahahahahaha~!” Phyrene, though it had never been proven, had a reputation as a ‘man-killer’, preferring young boys to actual men. Her alias had even been decided as ‘Androctonus’, which literally meant ‘Man-Killer’. Because of her massive frame and status as a Level 5, Phyrene had killed a total of 103 ‘boys’ after forcibly sleeping with them in the past. To cover her crimes, she would pummel them into an unrecognizable state before disposing of them in the sewers below the City.

Hearing Phyrene’s desire to obtain Vahn, Ishtar screeched, “No, I won’t let you spoil another handsome boy! I need someone to replace Tammuz now, so you’ll have to find someone else to sate your ridiculous little fetish!” Phyrene grunted before rolling over and rising to her feet. She towered over Ishtar and stated plainly, “We’ll see who gets their hands on him first then. I’d like to see what you can do with him when I’m done with him, wahahahahaha~!” Without paying any respects to her goddess, Phyrene walked out of the large hall and went to look for something to release her own urges on. She proudly claimed herself to be the most beautiful and sought-after prostitute within the entire Familia and actively ‘chose’ her clients. If they weren’t willing to pay up for her ‘services’, Phyrene had no trouble providing an extra service, which often involved helping them pick out a comfortable place to sleep for the night…and every night thereafter.

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