Chapter 384: Playing

Vahn stuck around at the Hearth Manor until after lunch and had spent the majority of the morning interacting with the girls. Even though not a great deal of time had passed, the Hostess of Fertility had already completed the first stage of its move and they were going to be celebrating their grand opening in the coming week. The only thing the constructions crews had done was refurbish the bottom floor of the adjacent building which had previously been the atelier of a clothing designer in the past. It already had plenty of floor space and it hadn’t taken long to build the actual bar and kitchen area and, since the girls were going to be staying at the Hearth Manor, they had saved time by not having to build a dormitory.

Because of this, though they were not all present during the morning period, the majority of the girls from the Hostess of Fertility had made the move into the West Wing. They had taken control of the residences on the second floor and had all grouped near each other. The exceptions to this were Syr, who actually stayed on the first floor nearer to the central common areas, and Ryuu, who stayed in the room next to Vahn’s with Aki. The rest of the girls, Chloe, Arnya, Lunoire, and Mona, all had their own rooms in a corridor with six options to choose from. As for why they weren’t all present, it was because the majority of the girls were helping Mama Mia clean and prepare the pub for its grand opening on Monday.

Once they had all finished lunch, Vahn told everyone about his intentions to take Fafnir outside of the City so they could practice for the Monster Feria that was less than two days away. Since Vahn was a ‘person of importance’, he wasn’t easily able to exit the City on his own as there was a high chance that, if there were any people after his life, they would find out through their private channels about the fact that he had left ‘alone’. Though it would be nearly impossible for them to actually do anything to him, especially with an escape method like Shundo, it would still cause unnecessary problems that could be avoided by traveling in a larger group.

Though Vahn was thinking about who to take along with him, it actually turned into a situation where everyone had drawn lots. Since they all seemed to be enjoying the experience, Vahn didn’t mind so much and he actually thought it was funny when the girls that pulled a ‘miss’ stick had a very overdramatic reaction. As for the winners, there was the ‘victorious’ Ais lording herself over the pitiful Tiona, the ‘triumphant’ Tina, and the bashful Lefiya who was muttering off to the side with a flushed face while lost in her own delusions. Accompanying them, since it would be unsafe otherwise, was Riveria and, the automatic inclusion, Fenrir.

Before they left, Vahn gave a set of thick coats to Tina and Lefiya, since Tina didn’t have any resistance to the cold and Lefiya seemed somewhat susceptible to it even though she was Level 3. Vahn could keep the cold at bay with his domain, but it was better for them to have their own means to resist the cold just in case. Tina was in a bubbly mood since she was going to be leaving the City for the first time and it was on an excursion with Vahn. As for Fenrir, Riveria, and Ais, they were all very resistant against the cold and didn’t need his care, though it didn’t stop him from making the offer. Ais simply stated the, if she were cold, she would just snuggle up with him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Riveria already had a new mantle, even though she was still waiting for Vahn to make her a replacement for the one she ‘lost’ in the past. As for Fenrir, she was similar to Vahn and liked the cold air against her skin, even though she was wearing a cute maid outfit that covered the majority of her body.

It took them around forty minutes to reach the Southern Gate and, after leaving their names in the logbook and making the required vows, they exited the City soon after. Completely ignoring the cold air, Tina ran around happily alongside Fenrir and the two ‘young’ girls seemed to be having a lot of fun as they walked along the path away from the City. Ais, true to her earlier words, was sticking close to Vahn and they had started holding hands not long after exiting the gate. Lefiya was on the other side of him, but she was standing a short distance away with a hesitant look as she held the [Heal] staff Vahn had gifted her tightly in her tiny hands. As for Riveria, she was walking at the back of the group and watching over everyone with a stoic expression on her face.

After traveling a fair distance from the City, Fafnir popped out of the shadows and asked in a very happy sounding voice, (*Vahn, we are going to play today~!?*) Even though it wasn’t capable of showing any expressions, Fafnir was obviously very excited to be able to spend the rest of the day outside. Without any hesitation at all, Tina walked over and nuzzled against the hard-scaled face of Fafnir and said in a happy tone of her own, “We get to play a lot today~nya! Fafnir is a good child and shouldn’t have to hide in the shadows~! Make sure to work hard with Vahnya and show all those silly people you’re a good dragonya~!” Fafnir ‘laughed’ in everyone’s mind with its childish voice and said, (*I’ll do my best, big sis~!*)

Since they needed to be further away from the City so as to not draw attention, everyone got on Fafnir’s back and flew around at a relatively slow speed while searching for a large enough clearing to conduct their training or, as Fafnir, Fenrir, and Tina seemed to call it, playing. Even though Fafnir was a colossal black dragon, it was still arguably the ‘youngest’ child within the group and was actually very sociable even though it was a dragon. Unlike Fenrir, Eva had treated Fafnir very well and had even taught it magic for four years within the orb. Though she could fly around on her own, Eva would often laze about on Fafnir’s back as they drew lazy circles around the castle she had built and talked about Vahn.

After finding a large enough clearing, they touched down and everyone hopped off Fafnir’s back while Vahn helped Tina down. Because of its interactions with the other ‘children’, Vahn had started thinking about if it would be a good idea to use some of the kids for the exhibition. If the public saw Fafnir getting along with small children, their fears of it should fade quite a bit. Though it might incite some ‘evil’ people to try and take action against it in the future, it was still a viable option since Fafnir was actually very strong. It’s only weakness was the massive glowing scar on its chest but, as long as it avoided getting hit there, everything would be fine.

As for the annoying weakness, Vahn had been trying to come up with a solution for it ever since his duel against Fafnir in the orb. He learned from Eva that Fafnir actually couldn’t learn defensive magic at all and any attempt to ‘protect’ the weak spot actually made the giant dragon lose all of its power. It was possible to cover parts of it, but the greater the surface area covered, the weaker Fafnir would become. It also made the magical energy within its body unstable, so there was no practical solution to protecting the weak spot. Though it had near perfect control over reshaping its scales, none of them could reach around to the front of its body to protect the scar. It was a very perplexing thing because Fafnir could shape its scales into small statuettes of people if it wanted to.

The worst part of all, and this was a very recent discovery, was that any barrier or shielding magic used on Fafnir would immobilize it. Vahn had been very surprised to learn of this massive weakness since it would be terrible if someone that intended to harm Fafnir learned about it. Vahn was even planning to make a massive collar for Fafnir that had the ironic effect of blocking defensive buffs, magic, and effects. The only permanent solution to guarantee that Fafnir was always safe was to keep it out of direct combat with anything. Fortunately, it had high perception and various long-range magic spells it could use to annihilate large groups of enemies without getting near them at all. And, though the scar was several meters long, it still only covered a small part of the surface area of Fafnir’s body. As long as it reacted in time, Fafnir could defend itself with its powerful wings and incredibly durable scales.

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After watching the ‘kids’ play around for a bit, Vahn waved to Fafnir and said, “Okay, Fafnir, are you ready to begin our training for your big day?” Hearing his words, the massive dragon that was acting as a playground for the girls cocked its head and closed its giant blues eyes and said, (*Yay, lets play Vahn~!*) Vahn laughed and gestured for the other girls to step off to the side for the time being so he had plenty of space with Fafnir. Once everyone had moved out of the way, Vahn nodded and extended his hand out and said, “We need to show everyone that you’re a good dragon, but was also need to make sure that people don’t try to hurt you and the girls you’re protecting. I need you to behave and respond to all my commands to the best of your ability, but also demonstrate that you aren’t a pushover for anyone with bad intentions.”

Hearing Vahn’s words, Fafnir cocked it’s head and released a powerful roar that caused the void itself to vibrate a bit as it shouted, (*I won’t let anyone harm big sis and everyone else close to Master!*) Because Fafnir was actually much stronger than he was, Vahn had to shield himself from the powerful roar while Ais protected Tina. After the roar faded, Vahn gave Fafnir a wry smile and pointed over at the girls that were covering their ears as a result of the loud noise. Fafnir followed his finger and became ‘flustered’ as it moved around in an awkward manner and said, (*Ah, big sis, I’m sorry~! Nooo, Master, what do I do!?*). Vahn stepped forward without minding that Fafnir was still wriggling about while tearing up the ground. This was one of the things Vahn had been worried about since Fafnir wasn’t very accustomed to being aboveground and interacting with people.

Vahn placed his hand on Fafnir’s body and used [Hands of Nirvana] to soothe the panicking dragon as he said in a gentle tone, “This is why we’re training now, Fafnir. You just have to relax and behave, that will be enough. Since Fafnir is such a strong and powerful dragon, you need to learn to control yourself and always remain calm. If you go around roaring within the City, a lot of people would send us complaints and you might not be able to stay on the surface.” Feeling the warm energy flowing into its abdomen, Fafnir crouched over and loomed above Vahn as if it was about to curl around him like a cat.

When it placed its maw near him, Vahn changed the target of hit hands to Fafnir’s head and began to gently stroke the hard scales as affectionately as he could manage. Vahn continued to speak in a gentle tone, “See, you’re a good dragon, aren’t you?” Fafnir nodded its head and said, (*I’m a good dragon that will protect everyone~!*)

After Fafnir calmed down adequately, Vahn began their training and did his best to guide Fafnir through the routine he was making up on the spot. Since he wanted everyone to know how ‘tame’ Fafnir was, Vahn came up with all kinds of ideas to show off their bond. He even came up with the idea of having Fafnir open its massive maw filled with a strange and chaotic energy and stepped into it. Other than Fenrir, all of the other girls seemed to get stressed out when Vahn did something that bordered on the edge of madness. Though there was no real danger, all Fafnir had to do was snap its jaws shut and Vahn would almost certainly die.

Some of the other parts of their routine included actual ‘playing’ around where Fafnir used its tail to allow Vahn to vault up high into the air. Vahn would perform a bit of acrobatics to excite the crowd and Fafnir would continue to use its wings and snout to ‘catch’ Vahn and allow him to stay airborne. To make it even more exciting, they would be performing the entire stunt in the middle of the air above the arena. Since the majority of people were ‘afraid’ of heights, it would be a tense moment for everyone watching and would be a true testament of the bond between Vahn and Fafnir while also displaying its incredible control.

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The final part of the routine was intended to scare people, unlike everything that would precede it. Vahn had several simplified mannequins that he was going to fit with armor and space them around in the arena. One of Fafnir’s demonstrations would be to use its scales as spears and penetrate clear through the various high qualities armors that would be on display. Fafnir’s attacks were incredibly quick so the majority of people wouldn’t even know what happened until their brains took time to process what they had seen. Any high leveled Adventurers that could follow the movement would also be deterred since it was a feat Fafnir could perform incredibly easily.

To reinforce the idea that it wasn’t wise to mess with Fafnir, it would then launch all the mannequins into the sky before using its dark magic to annihilate them all before they returned to the ground. Fafnir had learned Sagitta Magica : Series Obscuri from Eva within the space, so it was capable of creating dozens of beams of dark energy that would follow the target like homing missiles before exploding on contact. Since darkness elemental magic was one of the more terrifying, and since Fafnir would be able to use the magic ‘instantly’, it would shut down most attempts to try and approach it, or anyone it was protecting. Magic within the record of Danmachi was one of the most terrifying forces in the world, so there were very few people that would want to fight a massive dragon that could instantly cast beams of magic that would pursue them until eventually exploding when it finally hit.

Though he wasn’t entirely sure if it was a good idea, Vahn wanted the wrap-up of the routine to involve a bunch of the younger members coming into the arena to ‘cuddle’ with the ‘terrifying’ dragon. Vahn had the benefit of being surrounded by youthful girls, beautiful women, and innocent children. Even if people had inhibitions, they wouldn’t be able easily rationalize that Fafnir was ‘evil’ if they saw it surrounded by cute, adorable, and beautiful girls. They might even be inspired to try and tame their own dragon to use as a ‘chick magnet’ in the future. Vahn wanted to fundamentally change the ‘image’ of Fafnir in the minds of others so that it became the symbol of the Hestia Familia and inspired confidence in others.

There were very likely to be conflicts between Orario and the other countries in the future, and Fafnir would be a ‘trump’ card that would be able to defend the entire City with its tremendous might. Just imagining a crowd cheering for Fafnir made Vahn smile since he knew the ‘evil’ looking dragon was very cute and innocent regardless of what its appearance might indicate. With that thought in mind, Vahn recalled the children from the Orphanage and wondered if it would be possible to get them involved as well…

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