When Vahn awoke the next morning, he peeled Hestia off of his body before he and Aki made their way to the bath to prepare for the day. After increasing their tensions after lunch, Vahn spent the rest of the day in his workshop templating out a few outfit designs before spending a bit of time with the girls at dinner. Afterward, Vahn retired to Hestia’s room alongside Aki and the three shared a few intimate moments long into the night. Ryuu had returned to the Hostess of Fertility to manage a few things, so Vahn gave in to the advances of the two girls before ‘punishing’ them a bit. Hestia had tried to push herself without using the medicine, but she eventually gave up after failing in her attempts for a few minutes. She still had nearly no stamina, so the majority of his time had been spent with Aki after Hestia fell asleep. Her stamina, unless he pushed her to the limits, was nearly as endless as his own and it was nearly 2 AM before they finally went to sleep. Hestia had woken up intermittently and gotten Vahn to tend to her in the periods when Aki was ‘recovering’.
Vahn had intended to visit the Hostess of Fertility for lunch, but when he mentioned it on the scroll, he was asked to wait until tomorrow. Ryuu had been staying there since the previous night, so Vahn assumed they were likely making preparations for whatever Syr had planned. Since the Status Log showed all the girls at the Hostess of Fertility as ‘Busy’, he began to feel very nervous because it seemed to involve all of them, with the exclusion of Milan, Tina, Shizune, and Mona. Though Vahn thought he was worrying over nothing, he couldn’t help but have some minor expectations because his brain had taken a strange turn lately as he more proactively pursued the girls around him. Even if he might be wrong in his assumption, Vahn felt like the event Syr had planned would likely result in him having sex with one, or multiple, of the girls there…
For the rest of the day, Vahn studied with the girls and cuddled with Fenrir to calm his mind in preparation for the coming day. He had tried to rationalize several different things, including a party, or something more intimate like a private discussion. With the exception of, perhaps, Mama Mia, all the other girls within the Hostess of Fertility had some trauma related to men. Though it was a strange thing to want, Vahn hoped that they just wanted to talk about their past and get to know each other better. However, no matter how much he tried to rationalize things, there had been too many signs with Syr, Chloe, and even Ryuu. Ever since he had seen the glint in Syr’s eye when he made his ‘bold’ claim during the ‘Vahnatus’, he had some expectation that something like this would happen sooner or later. He was both excited, and admittedly very concerned since he didn’t even understand the ‘logistics’ involved when dealing with more than two women at a time.
He didn’t talk to anyone about it, nor did he try to find out any information since Vahn felt like it would be very embarrassing if he jumped to a conclusion that had nothing to do with the actual event they had planned. Though he kind of liked showing off a bit, Vahn realized he wasn’t actually that great at dealing with stress and embarrassment until it was just between himself and another person. The more people involved, the more strenuous the situation was because he felt like, even though it might not be the case, he was being ‘judged’ or ‘tested’ for his performance. Just in case, when he went to sleep that night, Vahn spent a few hours studying various materials related to the subject and even learned the term associated with such an event. The fact there was a coined term made him feel a little less insecure and Vahn studied the matters in detail because he wasn’t ‘willing’ to fail if put to the task. If Syr had somehow planned an orgy or ‘harem presentation’ for him, Vahn wanted to make sure he was mentally prepared since his physical body and stamina shouldn’t be an issue.
Though he didn’t particularly need much sleep, Vahn had been unable to rest throughout the night since his own concerns kept him awake. He couldn’t help but feel he was getting himself riled up over a misunderstanding, but when he checked the Secret Log after finally giving up trying to sleep, Vahn saw a message that said, ‘Everything is prepared, make sure to show up around 6 PM today. Don’t both stopping by too early as we’ve closed the pub for the day. -Syr’ This message made Vahn feel like he had a thirteen-hour countdown to one of the greatest trials he might ever face. Since there was a very real chance he would have to ‘tend’ to several women at a time in the future, Vahn convinced himself he needed to succeed, assuming his inference was correct. If it turned out to be something entirely different, Vahn expected he might laugh himself silly on the spot because of how embarrassed he would feel.
Since he wanted to get some proper rest before the ‘event’, Vahn invited Fenrir up to the balcony to relax in the freezing cold air with just the two of them for a while. When he was alone with Fenrir, the only ‘expectations’ Vahn felt was just pampering her a bit. She almost never said anything unless he asked her questions and just silently enjoyed the time they spent together. When Vahn reclined on a sofa he had set out for them, she curled up next to him and fell asleep quickly even though she had rested well the night before. Vahn was somewhat jealous that she could fall asleep so quickly, but her relaxed state allowed him to calm his own mind and he managed to fall asleep himself not long after.
It wasn’t until Haruhime came to look for them that Vahn awoke from his extended nap. He had rested for about five hours and felt a lot calmer now that he had relaxed his mind and body for a bit. He hadn’t even been using his domain since he was connected to the defensive formation of the Manor while he was resting. Vahn had been realizing lately that over-reliance on his domain was forcing him to act more like a god than a mortal. It always made his mind calm and rational, and Vahn started to believe this would have negative consequences on his ability to cope with things in the future. He noticed that every time he wasn’t using it, he had small bouts of anxiety and was very reliant on others to be able to work through things. He didn’t want to become a cold and detached person through overusing his domain, so unless he was out and about he decided to use it less often. His natural perception was already far greater than most people’s, and he could even detect presences and auras through walls. There wasn’t a need to constantly keeping his domain at the maximum distance and it did nothing except promote his Magic parameter and unbalance his stats further.
During lunch, Hestia had been casually sitting alongside Vahn and asked, “Vahn, can we go out on our date tomorrow? I want to go shopping for a new dress to prepare for the Denatus on Monday. I’d like for you to help pick it out so I’ll have more confidence…this is the first time I’ll be attending the banquet, and I’ll honestly admit I’m very nervous…” Vahn ate the small sausage she had been holding out for him to eat before smiling and saying, “Sure, I promised to take you out on a private date soon anyways. This is a good opportunity and I haven’t made plans for tomorrow.” Hestia pumped her small fist victoriously before standing up and saying, “I need to tell everyone else before they get any ideas~! Ehehehe, I get to go on a date with Vahn all by myself~.” Without finishing her lunch, Hestia ran off to her room, presumably to send a message on the network about her date with him.
Vahn saw that most of the girls were giving him ‘strange’ looks, so he laughed humorously before saying, “If you do well on our excursions and obtain the [Hunter] Development Ability, I’ll agree to take you out on a short afternoon date. I’ll help you pick out some casual clothes and treat you to a delicious meal as a reward.” Haruhime, Emiru, and Maemi, all cheered up after hearing his words, but Preasia had a somewhat sad look on her face since she didn’t actually enter the dungeon. Vahn’s cheek twitched imperceptibly as he said, “Preasia, I think I could use your help when conducting some experiments. Even though I have the [Mixing] Development Ability, I haven’t been able to create any potions of my own. If possible, I’d like you to assist me and I’ll walk you through the process until you are able to learn the ability for yourself.”
Hearing that Vahn had included her, Preasia showed a very small smile before lowering her head without actually vocalizing her response. She just continued to ‘glare’ at him as she slowly made headway on her own food while mainly focusing on feeding Fenrir. As for the adorable little wolf girl, she didn’t seem to mind about dates, or many other things for that matter, and was just happy when Vahn spent time with her. She made a lot of effort to ‘not be a bother’ when he was working, so Fenrir didn’t even process that she wasn’t ‘included’ in the rewards that were mentioned. As long as she ‘did her best’, Fenrir knew she would always be able to get pampered by Vahn whenever time allowed. She just listened to everyone talking and said a few things in a quiet voice to Preasia every now and then.
After lunch, around 4 PM, Aki had come to Vahn, who had been spending more quality time on the balcony with Fenrir, and showed a kind smile before asking, “Fenrir, do you mind if I speak to Vahn alone for a little while? Pretty please~?” Fenrir’s ears twitched a bit before she crawled off the sofa obediently and said, “Fenrir is a good girl. Fenrir will let Vahn spend time with the others now.” As she had spent the better part of the previous afternoon, and the majority of today, with Vahn, Fenrir was in a very pleased mood and didn’t make any complaints as she trotted into the Manor wearing her midnight blue dress. Ever since Vahn had gifted it to her, it had been her favorite outfit and she tried to wear it whenever they were at home.
When Fenrir had left, Aki turned to Vahn and laughed in a gentle tune before saying, “She seems very happy to get to spend time with you…well, not that I can blame her.” Vahn walked over and gently embraced Aki’s body before rubbing noses with her and asking, “Did you come to give me advice?” Aki tilted her head slightly and said, “I’m not entirely sure what they have planned, but I have a few ideas after talking with Loki-sama. Syr had talked with all of the core members of the network before receiving permission, and Loki-sama wanted me to make sure you were in a healthy mental state. It’s not really a secret, and Syr probably understand this as well, but this is a test that was given to her by Hephaestus-sama, Eina-sama, and Loki-sama. Because of her nature, there is a good chance she might work her way to the top of the network and they want to see how well she can manage things…if you feel any inhibitions at all, you need to make sure to inform everyone about what happened. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of things before they get out of hand…besides, I trust Ryuu and Chloe to look out for you…”
Though it didn’t ‘confirm’ anything, Aki’s words made Vahn believe his inference had been on the mark from the beginning. She didn’t mention it, but he also understood this was a test for himself as well, not just Syr. It would show if he was actually capable of ‘pushing’ himself further in the regards of intimacy, and also let everyone understand if he was easily taken by the momentum of the situation. Because he would be ‘outnumbered’ greatly if he lost control of things it could become a problem in the future. He needed to do his best to take control of the situation and not simply be ‘exploited’ by the whims and needs of the girls around him.
A healthy relationship required both parties to give 50/50, in a balanced manner without greatly compromising. This was thrown out of whack very quickly when there were more than two people involved since Vahn couldn’t give 50% of himself to every girl present, nor could they return the favor. There had to be a common grounds that they could find, or he would always be restricted in his actions in the future. Now was one of the best times to test this principle, since he would be getting married in the very near future and that would complicate matters a great deal if there were any tensions and concerns within the network. And this wasn’t even taking into consideration the problems that would arise within the next few days after matters were clarified at the Denatus…
Vahn took a deep breath of the cold winter air before holding Aki’s body firmly in his embrace and saying, “I’ll be fine…Though I can’t say with absolute certainty, I believe I’ve made the proper preparations. And besides, I trust Syr, Ryuu, and especially Chloe…I’m not sure who else will be involved, but I believe in Arnya and Lunoire as well. If things devolve into a strange direction, I’m certain I’ll be able to take a step back and I know, at the very least, Ryuu and Chloe will support me.” Aki nodded her head before leaning her head forward and giving Vahn a relatively long kiss on the lips. When they parted, she whispered in a happy tone, “It isn’t just them, but every girl on the network will support you if things get tough. Just like you work hard to meet the needs and expectations of those around you, we’ll combine our efforts to ease your burdens~. I think if it’s Hestia-sama, Hephaestus-sama, and Loki-sama, you’ll be able to recover even if something goes wrong…I’ll also be there, just a single knock on the door away.”
After talking for a short while, Vahn spent the remainder of the time he had left in a meditative state. He was trying to completely clear his mind and make sense of the indistinguishable words that constantly repeated like a mantra within his soul. It made sense, considering the words came from the gacha reward [Mantra of Eternity: SSS] that he had received long ago. He knew his Soul Tier wasn’t high enough to discern the words, but Vahn had long ago realized that focusing on each sound helped clear his mind and speed up the replenishment of the energy within his body. Though he hadn’t expended any yet, Vahn wanted to top off all of his reserves, including stamina, mental energy, and source energy. When the time showed 5:40 PM, Vahn stood up from his seated position and used Shundo to disappear from the balcony. His destination was the Hostess of Fertility to attend whatever event Syr had been planning for the entirety of the last week.
(A/N: Shameless Plea: There have been a few ‘trolls’ plaguing the review section with 1-star reviews and, unfortunately, Webnovel doesn’t have a system that prevents this from happening. Please, if you enjoy the story, I would implore you to take a few short seconds to leave a review showing your support for the novel. Stay classy, and know that I appreciate all the support everyone had shown for me over the last two months we’ve been on this journey together.