After helping the wasted Welf to his room, Vahn left some medicine on the side table next to the bed before he exited the workshop. Since Welf wasn’t actually that famous, there wasn’t a large amount of security around his residence, and the only thing that barred entrance was a shoddy magical lock. Vahn shook his head and began to consider how Welf might be able to increase his own wealth and living conditions. He always had the option of magic ‘Crozzo Magic Swords’, but Welf was pretty adamant about never using them to make money. There was always a chance they would find their way into the hands of people that would misuse them, so there was little chance he would sell any. Vahn could probably help him complete the first phase of his research, but he imagined that would hurt the boy’s pride irreparably when he was putting in so much effort to make headway on his own.
The best option seemed to be to find him an assistant, so Vahn was hoping he could bring up the matter to the girls’ network to give Welf a hand. Other than that, his best bet was to gamble that one of the Amazon girls were willing to help him out. If that were the case, they would probably even help Welf fight within the dungeon and potentially build a relationship over time. If the girl was sufficiently strong, there was absolutely no way she would accidentally get pregnant just because of the unique biology of Amazons. Welf would need to be of equivalent strength as the Amazon, or he would have to be recognized by her through his own efforts. This gave Vahn enough time to deal with the matters regarding Kali and he hoped it would give him some leeway to help out other couples in the future. At the very least, he should be able to help Welf keep any children he might accidentally sire if he falls in love with the Amazonian woman.
Since he had stayed pretty late talking with Welf, it was nearly 1 AM and Vahn was walking through the cold City streets casually. At this time of day, because of the cold temperature, there were almost no pedestrians on the street at all. Though there was still the ambient sound of blacksmiths working late into the night, the streets were predominantly empty and there was a gentle fog rolling through the City that was actually quite cold to the touch. It left ice particles on Vahn’s hair and clothes, yet it didn’t really affect him much at all and he just enjoyed the sensation as he passively scanned his surroundings for any signs of danger.
Vahn was currently within the district used by the Hephaestus Familia members, so the security was actually pretty high and there weren’t any gangs or criminal groups in the area. Not many people were willing to offend blacksmiths, since falling out with one group would pretty much lose you favor with every other group depending on the situation. Because of this, Vahn was able to casually stroll all the way to the Babel Plaza without any incidents happening at all. There wasn’t a single sign of any enemies, and he felt like he was too tense for how beautiful and peaceful the night was. Of course, this didn’t mean Vahn was going to drop his guard, it just meant he should enjoy the moment a little more.
Turning his head toward the tall tower nearby, Vahn looked toward the top and imagined if Freya was currently there. Even though he had been told time and again to avoid her, Vahn was somewhat curious about how beautiful she would be in reality. The designs in the manga didn’t do justice to the actual people he interacted with in the real world, and Vahn knew Freya was touted as an unparalleled beauty. He had been cautious against her since the moment he came to this world, but his own caution just made him more interested in the actual goddess. He used [Heart of the Eternal Flame] and imbued a bit of heat in the atmosphere to clear up the visibility in the area as he looked towards the impossibly tall tower that pierced the heavens.
After a few minutes, Vahn turned away from the tower and left for the Hearth Manor to get some rest. Tomorrow was Saturday, so he wasn’t in a particular rush and even intended to sleep in and enjoy some rest and relaxation. He knew most of the girls would be going to their meeting, and Vahn was considering if he should drop in and make a few demands of his own since everyone would be gathered together in one spot. Though they were taking action in his best interest, Vahn still wanted to take a stance of his own instead of having to try and balance everything through second-hand words on the network. Vahn thought it would be a good opportunity since there were several things he wanted to say that could only be brought up when everyone was together like that.
When he arrived at the Manor, Vahn scanned the interior and noticed that everyone was present. He could even detect that Milan, Tina, and probably Shizune, had stopped over to stay the night. Since they usually shared a bed with Fenrir and Preasia, Vahn had given them a rather large one and there were five auras snuggly bundled together in the same room. For a brief moment, Vahn felt a little envious and wondered if he should try to sneak into Hestia’s or Aki’s rooms. He hadn’t really done anything with the girls for the last few days, and Vahn had a bit of an itch to scratch after his earlier interaction with Anubis. If not for the fact it was nearly 2 AM, Vahn probably would have shared some intimacy with the two girls.
Since he had been standing outside for a while, a shadow flickered near Vahn’s right and he looked over to see the somewhat scary looking face of Fafnir staring at him with its icy blue eyes. Fafnir’s current size was around 17m long, and it’s head alone was large enough to swallow a grown adult whole. Just its eyes were larger than the melons sold within the market, and they were very intimidating if you didn’t know anything about Fafnir. Since Tine and Milan were within the Manor, it had detected Vahn’s presence and had been watching him for a while until it emerged from the shadows and asked, (*Vahn, are you okay? Why do you stand in the cold? It is warmer inside.*)
Hearing Fafnir’s childish voice, Vahn smiled as he walked over and helped the dragon replenish its energy by stroking its head. Fafnir closed its eyes and enjoyed the sensation a powerful reverberation emerged from its throat that made the void rumble a little. Vahn knew it was just ‘purring’, but the fact that such a simple action actually made his instincts trigger made him laugh within his mind. He rubbed his palm along the scaly ridge above Fafnir’s eyes and said, “I’m fine, Fafnir, I was just wondering about a few things before heading inside. Here, since I’m not really that tired, how about we go for a little flight? It’s been a while, and I think the air is especially crisp this early in the morning.”
Since it didn’t often get to fly around, Fafnir quickly emerged from the ground in all its glory while ‘shouting’ out in a happy voice, (*Yaaaay~! Let’s go, let’s go~!*). Vahn nodded his head before using Shundo to appear on the back of Fafnir where it had reshaped its scales to create a saddle for his use. The moment he sat down, Vahn felt a powerful gravitational shift as Fafnir shot up in the air like a bullet, even though it didn’t disturb the surrounding air. It used magic to propel its flight, so it didn’t have to flap its relatively small, for the size of its body, wings. After a few seconds, they had already ascended several hundred meters in the sky before Vahn muttered, “I want to go higher, higher than the tower in the center of the City…”
Fafnir shouted out an affirmation before angling its body and accelerating upwards at an incredible speed. Because of the intense burst of momentum, there were several loud explosions that split through the air and they appeared high above the tower of Babel within a few short minutes. Since Vahn hadn’t told it to stop, Fafnir kept going higher and higher until the air had become incredibly thin and it was nearly impossible for a normal person to breath. Vahn actually didn’t require a lot of air to subsist off of, and he could even absorb energy through his pores to supplement his lack of oxygen. He regulated his heart to pump slower and allowed the incredible cold of the atmosphere to seep into his body as they steadily rose higher and higher.
After nearly ten minutes, Fafnir came to a progressive stop as it mused, (*Vahn, I think we shouldn’t go any higher than this…I feel a little afraid.*) Hearing Fafnir’s words, Vahn opened his eyes and looked around to see that there were nothing but stars surrounding them. Though he hadn’t noticed it previously, there was a complete lack of oxygen and just being exposed to the ‘air’ was enough to make his skin gloss over with a layer of ice. Since Fafnir had a barrier that protected the people on it’s back, this showed that the temperature was likely several hundred degrees below 0.
Vahn could feel that his body was almost weightless, so he stood up from the saddle on Fafnir’s back and gently launched himself outward without any fear or hesitation. The moment he cleared Fafnir’s body, Vahn could see a massive sphere below him that extended to the horizon. It was very similar to the time when he dreamed about floating high above the world and Vahn couldn’t help but utter silently into the wispy atmosphere a silent, “Beautiful…” Vahn reached out his hand towards the giant landmass below him that he recognized to be the entirety of the continent of Eden. It seemed so small, even though it was thousands of kilometers wide…almost as if it were entirely insignificant in the grand scale of everything around him. Yet, that small landmass, that was larger than any world he had ever known, contained almost everything he had ever known and loved…
For a few seconds, Vahn just hovered for a while until his body slowly began to accelerate downwards and Fafnir swooped in and said in a very worried tone, (*Vahn, its very dangerous, please be careful!*) Vahn laughed silently at Fafnir’s concern and stroked it’s back before sending a command to descend. Though it was an exhilarating feeling to be high above everything else, Vahn knew his place wasn’t this cold void surrounded by chaotic energy. He had a home, and there were dozens of people that relied on him, while some of them even found it within their hearts to love him. His place was at their side, and he would work hard to guarantee that never changes until he was forced to leave this world.
After descending for a few minutes, Vahn was humoring the idea of jumping off of Fafnir’s back and seeing what it was like to fall to the ground from a few dozen kilometers. He knew some of the basic principles behind physics, and his current endurance was more than enough to survive a fall from ‘terminal velocity’. He could achieve spontaneous bursts of speed that broke the sound barrier, so a mere 200 or so kilometers per hour wouldn’t even cause him to leave a dent in the ground if his dispersed the force properly. Since it was a somewhat rare opportunity, Vahn tapped Fafnir’s back and said, “I’m going to jump from here, go ahead and find a safe area outside of the City to enter a shadow. There are probably a few people that will complain that they saw a giant dragon flying around in the sky above the City.”
Fafnir nodded its massive head and said, (*Okay, have fun Vahn. Thanks for taking me out to play~! I will go to protect big sis now~!*). Just like Fenrir, Fafnir had taken to calling Tina ‘Big Sis’, even though she was incredibly small compared to the massive Fafnir. After it finished its telepathy, Vahn felt the wind barrier around Fafnir collapse and he was suddenly launched from its back as it quickly disappeared from his vision. The impact of the wind was enough to disorient him, because he had been traveling nearly 2,000km/h when they were descending earlier. He quickly decelerated to around 230km/h and finally recovered enough of his senses to enjoy the fall. Since he hadn’t asked Fafnir to slow down first, he couldn’t blame the ‘young’ dragon for its mistake that almost caused him to spit out a mouthful of blood.
Vahn spent around eight minutes in free fall before he passed near the top of Babel tower and gave it a sidelong glance before transforming into his Xuánwǔ form. A few minutes later, he approached the ground at a fast speed before flipping his body and landing squarely on his feet. A green ripple appeared on the scales all over his body before Vahn punched toward the sky and created a powerful shockwave that dispersed a huge cloud of fog. The cobblestone below him didn’t have a single crack in it and Vahn smiled widely since he had greatly enjoyed the experience. He wondered if it would be a good idea to take some of the stronger people in his Familia along the next time he tried it out.
Though it might be a scary concept, Vahn knew he could convince them if he explained it properly. It was arguably more dangerous to bound around at high speeds within the dungeon than it was to fall at almost any height. Vahn was actually confused about why it was treated as such a big deal in some of the manga he read in his previous life when the characters should be more than capable of performing the feat without issue. As he made his way back to the Hearth Manor, Vahn began to wonder what other kinds of things he could do for fun that would be an interesting experience for everyone. If he used his Xuánwǔ form properly, he could even dive from Fafnir’s back with someone like Hestia without a problem…that seemed like fun.