Chapter 300: Undercurrents

After completing the [Fox Maiden’s Bracelet], there wasn’t much time left within his ‘work’ block on the schedule so Vahn decided to call it a day. Since the matter with the Ishtar Familia was ‘resolved’, Vahn wanted to take everyone out to celebrate at the Hostess of Fertility. It was a good chance for Haruhime to get out of the Manor since the only places she had known since arriving in the City were a brothel and the premises of a Manor. Vahn also wanted to meet with the girls that he hadn’t seen in a while since he felt a little guilty for not making the trip. If he went at his maximum speed, it would only take a few minutes to reach the Hostess of Fertility, but even that small window would be enough for terrible things to happen if his enemies were competent.

Since he completed his work early, the twins hadn’t started working on dinner yet and Vahn was able to inform them of his decision before they started unnecessary work. After Aki’s arrival, Emiru and Maemi had started taking their ‘jobs’ as maids very seriously and had been proactively cleaning around the Manor during the afternoons. Vahn wanted to say it was unnecessary, but he actually preferred a clean and orderly residence as well and there weren’t any other people that were willing to take to the task. Since the Manor was the Familia’s residence, it would normally be the job of the logistics staff and supporters, but the Hestia Familia technically only had one official supporter, which was Preasia.

After hearing Vahn’s words, the twins bowed simultaneously and said in concert, “Thank you for informing us Vahn-sama~!” Vahn gave the two a wry smile as his hand twitched a bit before he nodded his head to seek out the rest of the girls. Ever since he had read their Status Boards, the twins hadn’t been ‘proactive’ in approaching him, but they still tried to play to his weaknesses and would always bow toward him with their twitching ears. Because of their actions, Vahn’s awareness about his ‘petting’ habits was being developed quite a bit since he was very tempted to give in to his urges.

Separating from the twins, who he sent to Fenrir and Preasia’s location, Vahn went upstairs and knocked on the door barring the shared room of Haruhime and Mikoto. After a few seconds, the one to answer the door had been Mikoto though it was Haruhime that asked Vahn to come inside. Since he hadn’t entered the room after placing the furniture, Vahn was unaware of how much had changed since then. Because they were both from the Far East, the girls had slowly been changing the layout of the room to match their preferences and Vahn thought there was a very calming atmosphere within. Haruhime had been sitting on a cushion that was placed on the floor, but she rose from her seated position and crossed her hands over her lap before bowing politely to welcome him.

Out of habit, Vahn also returned a bow which prompted Mikoto to bow even lower and the entire atmosphere became a little awkward until Haruhime started to laugh like an exquisite bell. Her laughter caused the atmosphere to clear up instantly as Vahn laughed alongside her and even Mikoto had a small smile on her face. Afterward, they tried to offer him a cushion to sit on but Vahn raised his hand and said, “That isn’t necessary, I just came to inform the both of you that we’ll be eating dinner at the Hostess of Fertility tonight. Since she hasn’t had the opportunity yet, I’d like for Haruhime to experience more of the City than just the Manor.”

Mikoto nodded her head in a curt response, but Haruhime’s eyes began to glow a bit as she held the tips of her fingers together with a wide smile on her face. She seemed very happy with his words, and Vahn momentarily had inhibitions about the next part of his statement before sucking it up and holding out the bracelet and saying, “This is a prototype accessory that I’m working on to help the two of your with your mana reserves. It should be capable of holding a certain amount of mana that you’ll be able to use later when casting spells. I plan to make matching pairs for both of you, but this one is called [Fox Maiden’s Bracelet] and can only be used by Renards.”

Though they had both been staring at the bracelet with curious expressions, the moment Vahn said the bracelets name and restriction, Haruhime’s hand moved forward with the speed of a Level 8 and snatched the bracelet from Vahn’s palm fast enough to leave a shadow within the void. Vahn’s eyes opened slightly wider and he saw Haruhime gingerly holding the bracelet with both hands as she did a cheerful pirouette with a cheerful smile on her face. She turned to Vahn and opened her green eyes that were sparkling like gemstones and said, “Thank you so much Vahn, it’s lovely~!”

Vahn awkwardly retracted his hand before a small smile appeared on his face and he said, “You’re welcome, Haruhime. I’ll be making another bracelet, as well as a pair of anklets and a necklace to complete the set later. As I said, that is just a prototype so let me know if there are any problems whatsoever.” He had been intending to explain how he had made the bracelet but realized it might be ‘dangerous’ in various ways if he told Haruhime that his own blood was contained within. She was already treating it like a great treasure, even though it was only a B-Rank item. Vahn had a strange thought that he would one day visit her room and find the accessories he made for her enshrined near her bed or something strange like that if she knew of their construction method.

Since there was still time before they would leave, Vahn also showed Haruhime the designs for the outfit he was working on and he could feel the aura radiating from her body like a flame even without looking in her direction. Though he hadn’t pointed it out himself at the beginning, the very first thing that caught both Haruhime’s and Mikoto’s attention had been the designs on the side of the diagram that showed a custom bra and panty that Vahn had actually intended to be used as supplementary armor pieces. The moment she saw the sketch, Haruhime got very fired up about it and wanted to ‘assist’ in the production of the outfit if she could. Since her skills in sewing were actually higher than his, Vahn was very tempted to agree but knew there would be more to her request than simply sewing away at the side.

After escaping the room, Vahn made his way over to inform Hestia and Aki about the celebration and to see if any new information had come in through the network. Though he had talked to her briefly during lunch, Hestia had been spending the majority of the day within her own room corresponding with the Alliance. She had told him some information about the Guild’s investigation of the event and expressed her relief at how both he and Aki had handled the situation with the Amazons earlier. Since it had been proposed by Loki, and spearheaded by Aki, Hestia’s opinion of Aki’s presence within the Familia had improved marginally and they were now both within her room discussing matters.

Though he wasn’t restricted from entering Hestia’s room whenever he wanted, Vahn still knocked and waited for someone to open the door since the fiasco with Preasia was still on his mind from earlier. Aki was the one to answer and she showed her characteristic kind smile before inviting Vahn into the room and explaining all the new information they had received. It turns out that the Freya Familia had made no attempt to cover up their actions at all and made a public statement that Ishtar had actually been trying to poach their members. Freya herself claimed that Ishtar tried to charm Ottar and that was the reason for her decision to force her back to Heaven. Since her claims were actually true, the Guild wasn’t able to find any fault in her words but still imposed a heavy penalty on the Freya Familia and were requiring them to spend an exorbitant amount of Valis to restore the areas that had been destroyed in the fire. Without batting an eye, Freya accepted the terms but stated that none of their reparations would go to the establishment of brothels and dens that could be used by criminals and there was nothing the Guild could do to force her hand on the matter.

The biggest issue that arose in the aftermath, which is what was currently being discussed, was how the Alliance had somehow been implicated by Freya’s actions. Though nobody knows who pointed fingers first, public opinion was speaking of Freya as a co-conspirator of the Alliance that had recently been a hot topic within the City. Since Freya had ‘tolerated’ Ishtar’s actions for so long, people were saying that she had taken action on behalf of the Hestia Familia which was already in the limelight because the Loki Familia had recently challenged the Isthar Familia to a Wargames because they had been targeting the Hestia Familia. Rumors had spread about the ‘duel’ with Tammuz as well and people were claiming it to be the catalyst that forced the ‘Alliance’ to take drastic action and eliminate the Ishtar Familia. Since they wanted to avoid trouble with the guild, it was claimed that the Alliance reached out to Freya for assistance and had ‘convinced’ her to take action on her behalf since she already had personal grievances with Ishtar.

Hestia has an especially serious expression on her face as she stared at Vahn and said, “Vahn, you mustn’t become involved in this matter personally. If anyone tries to bring up the topic of approaching Freya, or the Freya Familia, you need to avoid giving in. Even if you feel inclined to thank Freya for her actions, you should resist the urge since you can be absolutely sure she had done so for personal reasons. No matter what happens, you need to avoid that woman until we can deal with her!” As he had no intentions of approaching Freya for the time being, Vahn easily agreed to Hestia’s words before telling her about the planned celebration.

Since she was busy with the network and the matters regarding the Freya Familia, Hestia was going to remain and home and Aki would stay back to protect her. The security outside the Manor was already in a high alert status and there was little chance either of them would be exposed to danger so Vahn reluctantly agreed to let them stay. He did have them move into his secret workshop though since it had several formations that allowed it to avoid detection and could only be opened with a special key. Before parting ways with them, Vahn gave in and held Hestia for a few minutes in a relatively passionate embrace before giving Aki a few head pats and heading downstairs.

The other girls were all waiting for his arrival and Vahn called over Fafnir to help in the escort since he didn’t have absolute confidence in protecting the entire group if they were ambushed. Though he didn’t use it often, Fafnir was already known as Vahn’s ‘tamed monster’ and had even been registered with the Guild in the past. They had given him a lot of restrictions on its actions, but there wasn’t any way they could regulate it completely since Vahn kept most of Fafnir’s abilities a secret. The biggest restriction was being unable to ride Fafnir within the City unless it was during a state of emergency where lives were at risk.

After Fafnir peaked up through the shadows, Vahn stroked it’s head and helped replenish its energy before it ‘purred’ an evil sounding growl and returned to the shadows after thanking Vahn in a childish voice. Since things were beginning to calm down, Vahn intended to take Fafnir back into the orb in the future so it would be able to ‘grow up’ even more alongside Eva. Though he didn’t mind the ‘childish’ sounding telekinesis, Vahn still imagined Fafnir to be ‘cooler’ within his mind. He was looking forward to the adult stage Fafnir and was curious how far its natural growth would take it.

Vahn led the party of seven, including himself, along the route leading to the Hostess of Fertility while everyone was in high spirits. He also showed a ‘charismatic’ smile as he scanned his surroundings with his domain for any signs of trouble. Because he was escorting six beautiful girls, Vahn got a lot of strange looks from both men and women within the surroundings. Not only the men, but several of the women had touches of green within their auras intermixed with various types of colors, both cold and warm. Fortunately, there weren’t many people dumb enough to try and approach the group to make trouble since Vahn was currently in his human form and was easily recognizable as the ‘former’ Vulcan. Few people wanted to mess with the guy that was related to the expulsion of two Goddesses and the disbandment of two Familia because the current understanding was that he had the backing of all three of the top-ranked Familia within the City.

Of course, weren’t many didn’t mean there were ‘none’, as there were still a few ‘arrogant’ men that thought they had a chance and tried to make a pass at one of the girls he was escorting. Since they didn’t have auras of negativity, Vahn had no reason to prevent their attempts though he did watch to see if the girls had a reaction. The only time he immediately put a stop to their actions was if they tried to make a pass at Fenrir or Preasia, since either case would likely cause Fenrir to lose her cool. Eventually, after turning away the fourth man, Vahn decided to just keep away everyone since the twins and Mikoto had absolutely no interest in the attempts of the random passersby. Vahn realized, by the time they were approaching the Hostess of Fertility, that he probably should have done so from the very beginning. He just didn’t want to seem ‘overly protective’ of the girls at first, but now he realized they ‘expected’ his protection after noticing their slightly melancholic expressions when he defended Preasia and Fenrir but not themselves.

Vahn shook his head before stopping outside of the Hostess of Fertility with a reminiscent smile on his face before taking a deep breath of the aroma leaking through the double-doors. Since it was rather cold outside, even though he had been keeping the cold at bay for the girls, the interior of the Hostess of Fertility looked very warm an inviting. Vahn led the way through the doors and caused a minor fiasco when the other patrons noticed the ‘Vulcan’ leading in a group of beautiful young women. Mama Mia immediately brought the entire place to silence with her loud voice before motioning towards Vahn’s private room with her head.

Since they had a large group and were intending to celebrate, the waitresses that were attending them ended up being Syr and Chloe. Vahn was happy to see Chloe again and embraced her in a casual manner even without asking for her consent. She began to laugh in a playful manner before stroking his back and saying, “Did you miss me, nya~?” Though it was on a brief contact, Vahn stroked Chloe’s tail before saying, “Definitely…did you not miss me?” Chloe’s tail was still flickering about as she looked around to see if anyone was paying attention. She noticed that everyone’s gaze was present on them so she laughed awkwardly before muttering, “Of course I missed you~. Even though I can tie the ribbon myself, it’s not as meaningful unless you do it for me~nya.” Vahn smiled widely and unashamedly fixed the ribbon on Chloe’s tail even though everyone was giving them ‘strange’ looks. She had a flushed expression and a little ‘blame’ in her eyes before Vahn gave her a short kiss on the lips and said, “I missed you, Chloe…”

Though she gnashed her teeth a bit from embarrassment, Chloe returned a kiss of her own before pushing Vahn away a bit and turning to the table where the other girls were eyeballing her with various expressions. Vahn was aware he had been very ‘forward’, but he really had missed Chloe and wanted to show that he wasn’t embarrassed at all to be seen with her. From his side, Vahn could hear an elegant laughter and he turned his head to see Syr laughing with her hand covering her mouth. When she saw he was paying attention, her eyes squinted a bit and she remarked, “How envious…I guess you didn’t miss me~?” Before he could answer, Syr stuck out her tongue playfully before ‘ignoring’ him and going to take the orders of the girls.

Vahn watched her back for a moment before releasing a short sigh and ruminating over the events of the past as he walked over. He knew about Syr’s feelings for him, including her heart’s desire, but Vahn had asked for time when she confessed. He gave the excuse that he wanted things to stabilize a bit before giving her an answer, even though he had been steadily pushing his relationships forward with other girls. Since he knew she acted in his interests behind the scenes, Vahn felt like he was exploiting Syr a bit even though he knew it was probably the reverse. Of course, Syr’s ‘exploitation’ seemed to manifest in her influence over the other girls within the Hostess of Fertility and she was steadying pushing them closer to him…

During the celebration, everyone was in high spirits after the awkwardness from the beginning had cleared up. Since the majority of people present were considered adults, there was a bit of alcohol involved and even Fenrir partook a bit. She was initially ‘refused’ the right to drink, but Vahn eventually gave in when her eyes had started to glow rather fiercely. It turned out his apprehensions in letting her drink were pointless, to begin with since she was actually able to ingest a seemingly limitless amount of ale and wine without getting even remotely drunk. By the end of the celebration, the only two people unaffected by the alcohol were Vahn and Fenrir, who had been having a blast drinking the other girls under the table.

Since it wasn’t ‘safe’ to escort a bunch of drunk girls back to the Manor, Syr had arranged for some space within the girls’ dorm to house everyone, except Vahn, for the night. Vahn had to pay an exorbitant fee to Mama Mia, but he didn’t mind at all as money was one of the things he was least concerned about. After everyone had retired for the night, Vahn was left alone with Syr somehow and he furrowed his brows slightly because he knew she had machinated the events in her own way to lead up to this point. She was also the one that had first brought alcohol to the table even though they hadn’t initially ordered any and Vahn knew it was her ‘nature’ acting up especially considering that neither Ryuu or Chloe had come to see him off.

Syr always paid close attention to his expressions and mannerisms, so she immediately understood she had been seen through but just displayed her characteristic cheerful smile and said, “Looks like you caught on to me~.” She didn’t say that she was ‘glad’ that Vahn was always able to see through her schemes even though the vast majority of people overlooked the small actions she took. Hearing her words, Vahn had nodded his head before showing a grateful smile and saying, “Syr, thanks for everything you’ve been doing for me lately. I’ve gotten to experience a lot of interesting things because of the actions you’ve taken on my behalf.” His words had genuine gratitude since Vahn had actually gotten the opportunity to massage all of the girls within the Hostess of Fertility, though that included Mama Mia as well. Syr was also the one that ‘arranged’ the dates in the past and had been on nearly half of them herself even though they weren’t an actual couple.

Hearing Vahn’s words, Syr crossed her hands over her apron and stood tall with a truly cheerful expression as a slight glow passed through her eyes. Vahn was easily able to resist the effects of her charm and his smile grew slightly larger as well when he saw how ‘happy’ she was at that fact. Stepping forward until she was right in front of him, Syr looked up into Vahn’s eyes and said, “I wonder when your heart will be-” Before Syr could finish her words, Vahn gingerly wrapped his hands around her waist before holding her body in a loose embrace and saying, “You’ve had a place for a long time, probably longer than I even realized because of your actions. Well, not that that matters, I already decided not to hesitate when it came to making decisions about the things I want…”

Even though Vahn knew things were probably going according to Syr’s plan, he still felt a lot of affection for the beautiful young woman with light-grey hair and matching eyes. Since she probably wouldn’t give up for several years, Vahn felt guilty at the thought of watching her help other people find happiness while the only thing she ‘needed’ to be happy was his affections for her. Without wasting any more time on words, Vahn stared into the glittering eyes of Syr as they both brought their faces closer under the moonlight and shared their first kiss…

//[Hearts Desire: Syr Flova] fulfilled. Extra parameter ‘Love’ unlocked.//

[Syr Flova]: Love 308(Fated Partner)

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//Bond established with [Syr Flova]//

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//Optional Quest Triggered//

[Quest: A Man’s Responsibility, Repeatable]

Rank: B-SS

Objective: Impregnate Syr Flova (0). Ensure a safe delivery; Current Children(0)

Rewards: 100,000 OP, 1x [Guardian:(Nameless)]

Failure Condition(s): Death, Syr Flova’s Death, (Nameless) Child’s Death

Penalty: 200 Karma (0)

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