Chapter 320: Responsibility

Due to the excitement he had experienced, Vahn decided against going to bed and just went to take a long bath before preparing for the coming day. It was already nearly 4 AM, so it didn’t really matter if he went to sleep or not. With his level, endurance, and Innate abilities, Vahn didn’t experience fatigue the same way as he used to. The only thing he needed to do to drive away the desire to sleep was increase his blood flow with [Heart of the Eternal Flame] and restore the clarity to his mind by activating [Will of the Emperor]. He was almost constantly used it to maintain his domain, so it wasn’t a big deal to miss a single night of sleep.

Vahn spent his free time formulating a plan and deciding if, and how, he would go to the girls’ meeting. He knew that, just like the network, he needed to give them the freedom to do what they thought was best, but Vahn also wanted to address everyone together. Eventually, he decided to not cause a commotion that could potentially disrupt the relatively amicable relationships that every currently had. He’d tell Hephaestus, Hestia, and Loki, about potentially dropping in towards the end of the meeting so that he could say a few things. As long as he didn’t drop in unannounced, Vahn assumed it wouldn’t be a problem, at least not as big a one.

When the girls finally started to wake up, Vahn decided to bring an end to his long soak and join them for breakfast. Most of them would probably be sleeping in for a while since everyone had the weekends off to do their own things. This meant that, by the time he arrived in the dining room, there were only a few girls present. As they were the ones to prepare the meal, the twins were the first to arrive and it wasn’t long before Milan, Shizune, and Aki came downstairs as well. Tina, Fenrir, and Preasia were still sleeping, and Vahn had noticed that Mikoto went outside to conduct her morning routine while Haruhime was still in their room.

Vahn rose from his spot at the dining table and walked over to share a short hug with Milan before sharing a marginally longer one with Aki. Before he split from her, Vahn rubbed her belly and made her blush before everyone moved towards the table. The only person he had ‘left out’, Shizune, put on a playful, somewhat childish, act as she said, “Buuu, I don’t get a hug~?” Vahn snorted a muted laugh through his nose before patting her on her large furry ears and saying in a teasing manner, “Maybe when you grow up a bit?” Since he had ruffled her hair a bit forcefully, she gave him a pretend glare before running over to Milan and ‘whining’,”Moooom, Vahn is bullying me~!” Milan started laughing in a mischevious manner that Vahn remembered from the past as she squinted her eyes at him and said, “Ara~? I didn’t think Vahn was the type to bully little girls…Tina will be sad.”

Since it hadn’t been long that Shizune became her adopted daughter, Vahn was very surprised by their interaction. He wondered if the ‘damage’ done to Shizune’s soul had caused her mental state to regress a bit. Before they reunited at the Hostess of Fertility, Vahn had never interacted with her when she was still an ‘adult’. The only impression he had of her was that she was slightly sensual, with a relatively sad look in her eyes. Now, she seemed somewhat playful and had a cheerful glint contained within her eyes like she was a real child, and not an adult in a child’s body.

Vahn shook his head and said, “If she wants to be treated like Tina, she’ll have to work hard and train with everyone else. Even if I lack inhibitions, I try to show the proper restraint unless it’s to reward people for their hard work.” Aki, who had been standing nearby, laughed in a cheerful tone and said, “That’s right, you have to work hard if you want Vahn to spoil you~! I’m also doing my best, you know?” Aki’s tail flicked and Vahn could see a few deep emotions in her eyes as she looked toward him. He took a deep breath to calm himself down, because he was somewhat tempted to carry her off to a room and spend some quality time with her since he knew she was working hard for his benefit. Though he had been ‘relaxing’ for a few hours, Vahn was still in somewhat high tensions from his experiences the previous night, and his freefall this morning.

Since it was a rare opportunity, Vahn sat with Aki to his left while Milan sat at his right as both cat girls seemed to come to some form of agreement as they wrapped their tails around his back. Vahn closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment as he sipped on the bitter black coffee within his cup. If Milan was acting like her old self, Vahn wasn’t sure he would be able to resist her joint attacks with other people. If not for the fact that he was concerned about Tina, he considered punishing the mischevious cat girls for their misbehavior. Fortunately, they stopped playing around when Emiru and Maemi brought out some porridge for everyone to enjoy together.

When they were done eating, Milan, Aki, and Shizune went into the kitchen to prepare something more substantial for the other girls that had yet to awaken, since they didn’t like the thought of leaving all the work to the twins. Vahn ended up spending a little time with the twins flanking him on the sofa as Shizune sneakily tried to climb into his lap. Since she hailed from the Far East, she had a small purple kimono on that was suitable for her tiny frame. Vahn managed to divert her and leave her to Maemi her pretended to console her for a while until the other girls started to arrive. Vahn used the opportunity to wake up everyone else and greet them before heading off to the kitchen himself to see if he could help out.

Though he didn’t dislike the situation at all, Vahn still felt a little pressured when he was the only guy while there were eleven girls present, most of which had some form of affection towards him. After he vented to Welf last night, Vahn realized that his situation was relatively abnormal, even though concepts like polygamy were commonplace within the record he was in. Most of the successful mortals, since gods were something of an exception, only managed around five official wives and very few other relationships. If Vahn threw away his inhibitions, there would probably be some girls that left him, but he could still imagine nearly eighteen that would stick around long-term. It was a scary thought because Vahn didn’t know how he would able to manage if they all wanted to marry him in the future and worked hard to earn his affections.

After breakfast, Vahn actually decided to spend a bit of quality time with Fenrir, since he knew she probably wanted his affections more than anyone else just because of her nature. Though he still told her to call him Vahn, she would have small slips where she would call him Master, and it was especially common when she was distracted or excited. Just like she had been for Preasia, Fenrir was very therapeutic for Vahn, because she had a sunlike smell to her hair and was very cuddly. The best thing of all, at least for now, she had no real understanding of sex and physical desires, so there was absolutely no pressure from her for the time being. They just sat on the balcony, outside in the cold, for about an hour as Vahn brushed her hair and tail before sending her off with the rest of the girls. Everyone was going to be attending the meeting and Vahn had told Hestia and Aki about his intent to stop by later.

Unlike how he expected them to react, both girls were completely fine with the idea of Vahn coming, as long as he didn’t stay from the very beginning until the end. When they brought the matter up on the network, there was surprisingly zero contention for the idea and they even made it part of the official schedule. Vahn was supposed to show up right before lunch, and they had made up a block of time nearly two hours long to eat and spend time listening to whatever he wanted to talk about. Vahn was grateful for their consideration and had spent the time when he was with Fenrir thinking about what he wanted to bring up.

Vahn’s primary concern was, as expected, the sheer number of girls that would be attending the meeting. No matter how often he thought about it, Vahn really didn’t want to let any of the girls down, but he knew there would be conflicts of some kind in the long-term. He wanted there to be agreed upon rules, just like there were currently for the Familia, that would allow him a bit of freedom within his movements. Most importantly, Vahn truly wanted any of the girls he was with to be independent, just because he was afraid of what might happen if he eventually died or was forced out of the record.

The more Vahn thought about the future, the more concerned he was with the present and how his actions would influence the lives of many people. Especially since he would be a father in the not so distant future, likely to several children within a relatively small window of time. If he was already spread thin with just the women, it would only become a bigger problem when there were children involved. This was especially so since Vahn was absolutely determined to do things like conquer the Dungeon, and eventually travel the world in the distant future. It wasn’t even an exaggeration to say that he may instigate, and fight in, actual wars within the next few years.

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Ideally, though he knew it was a very unreasonable, even irresponsible thing to do…Vahn would be able to move about freely, with only his actual wives restricting his actions. He didn’t mind anyone he was involved with having an open relationship, or even finding other partners. Vahn wanted the freedom that, if they continued to pursue him, to take action without having to commit to a long-term relationship that would require him to make sacrifices other than when they were in legitimate trouble. He knew he had an interest in several girls, but…there were only a few that he felt like he genuinely loved and wanted to be with for a long time.

It wasn’t a problem if the others wanted to be with him, and he would do his best to make them happy, but Vahn didn’t want to be their ‘reason’ for happiness. He didn’t want to create a future where several girls would find themselves in despair just because he had fallen to an enemy or was forced out of the record. He wanted them to be strong, proud, and capable of moving on regardless of the struggles they faced. With the help of the other girls on the network, Vahn believed it would be possible for everyone to obtain some modicum of happiness, even if he wasn’t around…

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For a few hours, Vahn meditated on the matter in a state of absolute stillness. By the time noon was approaching, there was a layer of fine ice particles covering his entire body, including his hair and eyelashes. Since he needed to head out soon, Vahn opened his eyes and expanded his aura slightly to completely evaporate the moisture around him. It was rude to keep even one girl waiting, and Vahn knew there were probably well of twenty all gathered together in one place…all to help make his life a little easier. As long as it was within his power, he would do everything in his capabilities to do the same for them. Without further hesitation, Vahn stepped on the edge of the balcony before disappearing from the spot with Shundo.

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