After spending a few hours playing around with Fafnir, Vahn decided it was time to head back to the Manor before it got dark. During the relatively short flight, Riveria had been asking about the magic Fafnir used and Vahn explained to her that it was the system taught by Eva within the orb. One of the big differences between him, and other mages within the Danmachi record, was that he wasn’t constrained by the ‘logic’ and misconceptions that had been deeply ingrained in the various races. As long as you had a proper understanding of abilities, any type of magic system could be incorporated in the world since they made use of very similar laws. This wouldn’t always be the case, such as if he went to a record without mana at all, but it was a safe assumption for any world with energy and mana systems.
Not just Riveria, but Lefiya also asked a lot of questions as they both had a vested interest and genuine curiosity regarding magic. Vahn did his best to answer what questions he could, but there was a bit of a disconnect whenever they were discussing things since Riveria and Lefiya were deeply rooted in the logic of this world. Thus far, though Vahn had demonstrated it several times, neither of the girls had been able to replicate the way he uses magic. There was a very good chance they might not be able to use it at all, and Vahn decided he needed to train someone that wasn’t ‘educated’ in the current system to see if it was even possible for others to learn his magic.
After landing a way away from the City, the group dismounted Fafnir’s back and Vahn helped to replenish it’s energy while patting its head. Vahn wasn’t even sure if Fafnir could even ‘feel’ a normal touch, but it seemed to enjoy physical contact so Vahn comforted it a bit before sending it back into the shadows. Hopefully, after the Monster Feria came to an end, Fafnir would have more freedom to move about. Even if it couldn’t fly about freely above the City, it should at least be able to reside at the Hearth Manor and play with the other children.
They proceeded the rest of the way on foot and Vahn held Ais’s hand while supporting Tina with his left arm as she hugged his neck and was snoozing peacefully. She had gotten tuckered out while playing around earlier and had started to doze off on the return flight so Vahn picked her up to carry her the rest of the way. Tina looked like she wanted to complain at first but eventually gave up when Fenrir wanted to ‘take’ her place. Though she managed to stay awake for a little while, she eventually fell asleep and was currently tightly hugging Vahn’s neck. He could feel the warm air flowing from her nose tickling his exposed skin, but Vahn didn’t mind it much at all as he continued to talk with Lefiya and Fenrir all the way till the arrived at the gate.
After passing through the checkpoint without difficulty, the group returned the Hearth Manor and Vahn passed over the sleeping Tina to Milan before heading off to enjoy a bath. Though he hadn’t quite gotten used to it yet, it was much less stressful to bathe with everyone after experiencing it a few times. Several of the girls had used the opportunity when he was inside to trail in after him and they all had a pleasant time talking and helping each other wash while dinner was being prepared. Vahn noticed there seemed to be a ‘rotation’ of sorts that had been established and he knew it was likely the influence of Syr and the network. The girls usually ‘bickered’ over who would get washed by Vahn, but today they seemed to have already come to an agreement beforehand.
As he had noticed during the previous meals, the same seemed to be true for the seating arrangements at the table and today Vahn was seated with Hestia, who was happily enjoying the opportunity, and Aki. Vahn enjoyed how ‘simple’ life was in moments like this, because it seemed like everything was being taken care of even without him having to take any action. Though he tried not to show it, Vahn was always somewhat worried about things going wrong when he least expected it. He knew it was impossible to allocate time to every girl if he just went with the flow of things, so having them sort it out amongst themselves was the ‘ideal’ situation.
There were still a few hours until bedtime, and Vahn didn’t really want to do anything strenuous for the time being since he had just returned from the three-day excursion with the twins. Vahn spent the evening in a rather unique way and had ‘cuddled’ up with some of the younger girls as he narrated a book for everyone. To make the experience more comfortable, Vahn used his domain to spread calming energy to everyone present. Though they all seemed to enjoy it, Vahn felt like he was the one benefiting the most at the moment since there were several soft and fluffy sensations surrounding him. Haruhime had snuggled up to his left and was behaving herself while Fenrir had ‘secured’ his lap. To his right, there was Naaza who had her characteristic calm and seemed to be enjoying the rare moment together. There were several others present, even though Vahn had only originally intended to read peacefully, but Vahn didn’t have any complaints whatsoever.
Though he been in somewhat ‘high tensions’ over the last few days, Vahn didn’t feel like having sex with anyone this evening so he decided to spend the night in much the same manner as he spent the evening. Since he always spent time with her when he returned, Vahn had asked Fenrir, Shizune, Milan, and the awakened Tina if they’d like to stay together. These were all considered ‘safe’ options from Vahn’s perspective and it would guarantee that he was able to relax since Fenrir usually went to sleep instantly and nobody would want to wake her. Everyone agreed but, against his expectations, Milan had asked, “Vahn, I know you might have different intentions, but can we let Lili sleep with us as well?”
Vahn had been caught off guard by Milan’s words but considered the matter seriously because he could see the softness and concern in her expression. Though Lili was rooming together with Naaza, she had actually been sleeping together with Milan, Tina, and Shizune lately. He wasn’t sure what kind of understanding they had reached, but many of the girls on the network seemed to be looking after Lili lately. She was smiling a lot more than in the past and Vahn understood that Milan was likely trying to create opportunities for her to open up more.
Though he considered the matter carefully, only a few seconds had passed in reality before Vahn nodded his head with a gentle smile and said, “Sure, I don’t mind at all. As long as she behaves herself…it should be fine.” Milan laughed with her eyes squinted before saying, “She’ll be fine, I believe if she experiences normal affection it will help her a lot…” Vahn understood what Milan was trying to say since he was also worried about Lili on occasion. Because she had lived her entire life exploited by others, Lili was ‘too eager’ when it came to trying to show and receive affection. Since everything good in her life had been a ‘temporary’ happiness, she was almost desperate in trying to experience everything she could before it was once again lost.
Milan had gone to retrieve Lili while Vahn had already taken the other girls up to his room to prepare for bed. He, fortunately, changed his blankets every time he spent the night with some of the other girls, so there wasn’t a ‘smell’ that might set off Shizune and Tina. Of course, that didn’t stop Shizune from trying to tease him as she said in a snickering voice, “It’s a curious thing, for so many years it was men taking my clothes off…yet, by pure happenstance, now I have a handsome boy helping me wear them instead~.” Since Vahn had helped Fenrir change into her sleepwear, he also did the same for Tina and Shizune, even though they were both capable of it themselves.
Tina, at least when she was his ‘Vahnguard’, had been a very sensible girl in the past. Now, however, she was acting more and more comfortable around Vahn and sought his affection without being overly eager for it. She usually acted as the role of ‘big sister’ for the youth troupe, which also happened to include older girls like Emiru, Maemi, and Preasia. Since Milan was something similar to a surrogate mother for many of the orphaned girls, Tina had coincidentally become their big sis, even though she was actually the youngest in the group, excluding Fafnir. Even Fenrir was rather ‘tame’ whenever she was around Tina and listened to her words during lectures and such.
Milan and Lili arrived soon after and, from the moment she came through the door, Lili had a big smile on her face with glittering eyes as she said, “Thank you for letting me sleep here as well, Vahn. I was starting to feel a little lonely, ehehehe~.” She tried to walk over with a bit of pep in her step, but Milan hugged her from behind and said in a gentle and motherly tone, “Now, now, Lili, you should be getting relaxed and preparing for bed, not getting riled up. Remember our promise, you said you would behave, right~?” Lili frowned for a brief moment before letting out a melancholic sigh and saying, “Yes, I remember…” Milan hugged her a little harder before patting Lili’s chestnut brown hair affectionately.
From Vahn’s perspective, Milan and Lili looked like an actual Mother and Daughter due to the fact that they both had chestnut brown hair. If Lili used her [Cinder*Ella], they would be nearly indistinguishable from actual family. Seeing Lili being deferential towards Milan, Vahn showed a soft smile that wasn’t missed by the small Pallum. She showed a somewhat bashful look and lowered her face as Milan started helping her prepare for bed. Though she was perfectly capable of dressing herself, Lili accepted Milan’s assistance and, though she had a somewhat bashful and awkward expression, Vahn could see her aura dancing about with a happy yellow tinged with pink along the edges.
Vahn climbed into bed with Fenrir, Tina, and Shizune while the other two were getting ready. As usual, Fenrir took ‘her’ spot and curled up on his stomach while Tina and Shizune snuggled up with each other on his left. Vahn spent a bit of time gently petting Fenrir’s somewhat rough hair until Milan and Lili also crawled in the bed. It seemed like Milan had given the spot on Vahn’s right to Lili but, before she laid down against his arm, Lili asked, “Vahn…you like girls with tails and fluffy ears, don’t you?” Vahn blinked slowly and contemplated her words for a brief moment before saying, “I do, but not to the extent that I would inherently choose them over anyone else. Everyone has unique traits that I find interesting and pleasant.”
Lili nodded her head as if she had expected his answer but pointed to Fenrir, Tina, and Shizune as she said, “Even so, I think you’re happier if the girls you like are fluffier…I just want to know what you like best…” Milan had placed her hand on Lili’s shoulder gently as though she were trying to get her to dismiss the matter. She had a complex expression on her face and sent Vahn a somewhat apologetic look. Vahn didn’t really mind it too much, but someone else had beaten him to his answer as Fenrir opened her glowing scarlet eyes and said, “Vahn likes Fenrir best…and maybe Harume. Don’t bother Vahn so much, Lili, you should sleep when its time to sleep.”
Hearing Fenrir’s words, Lili showed a thoughtful expression before muttering a nearly silent chant, “Your wound is mine. My wound is mine, Echoing message of midnight.” A gentle magical light shone after her words fell and a somewhat baffling sight appeared shortly thereafter. Even Fenrir sat up on Vahn’s chest as she pointed at Lili with a strangely offended expression as she said, “Ah, you can’t copy Fenrir! Only Master can copy Fenrir!” Lili had used her magic and, as a result of Fenrir’s words, had transitioned from being a normal Pallum to a small Wolf Girl. Her medium length, somewhat short, hair had become a deep midnight blue and she had large fluffy ears on her head and bushy tail. The most noticeable trait, however, was the fact she had also copied the paws of Fenrir, even though her fingers were more normal since she hadn’t actually become a Vanargandr.
Before things got out of hand, Vahn reached out his hand and gentled lowered Fenrir’s paw as he said, “Fenrir, don’t mind it so much. No matter what, there isn’t anyone that can replace you, okay?” As he spoke, another magical light began to shine, this time on Vahn, and he also transformed himself to emulate Fenrir a bit. Though she originally looked like she wanted to complain more, Fenrir’s eyes glowed intensely for a moment before she happily snuggled against the now transformed Vahn. She sent a look toward Lili and said, “Fenrir will let you copy her…you can be Fenrir’s little sister if you are a good girl.”
Lili had been more than a little intimidated when Fenrir had stared her down with her scarlet eyes and there was a light layer of sweat covering her body. Hearing Fenrir’s ‘permission’, Lili laughed awkwardly and said in a stutter, “H-ha…big sis…thanks?” Fenrir nodded her head in approval before patting the spot next to Vahn and saying, “Lili goes to sleep now, no more trouble, okay? Fenrir won’t forgive you if you cause trouble. Even Fenrir does her best to not cause trouble for Master, so Lili needs to do her best as well. If Lili wants to copy Fenrir, Lili needs to be a good girl too.” Though Lili was very nervous, she nodded her head at Fenrir’s words and said, “I’ll…be a good girl…”
Milan laughed at their interaction before ruffling Lili’s somewhat oversized ears and saying in a gentle tone, “Let’s go to sleep Lili, didn’t you want to stay with everyone?” Hearing Milan’s words, and seeing everyone’s eyes focused on her, Lili nodded her head with a blush as she crawled next to Vahn and tucked her head into his shoulder as she stared up into his face. She hadn’t been able to copy Fenrir’s scarlet eyes, so Lili’s were a gentle pink instead. Though he hadn’t put too much thought into it, Vahn decided to show Lili a bit of affection so he rubbed his now bristly hair and forehead against the top of Lili’s. She used her ‘fake’ claws to hold tightly to his tunic as a happy smile appeared on her face.
Now that things had calmed down, Vahn used his domain to remove the magic stones that were keeping the lights on within the room. Everything became dark in an instant, not that it mattered considering that everyone had night vision capabilities. Vahn spent the remainder of the time before eventually falling asleep simply enjoying the somewhat hot body temperatures of the small girls. He somewhat regretted not being able to feel Milan’s warmth directly, but she was currently hugging Lili from behind in a somewhat protective manner. Vahn decided this was for the best and simply let matters be as he slowly fell into the dark depths of unconsciousness…