With the exhibition coming to a close, Vahn’s duties for the Monster Feria had officially come to a conclusion. However, as the person solely responsible for the Alliance’s involvement in the event, Vahn wasn’t just going to play around while everyone else had to work. After sending back the main group to take care of the setup for the Hostess of Fertility, Vahn decided to check in with the goddesses to see if there was anything he could help out with.
After tracing his way through various spiraling corridors, Vahn ended up at the giant doorway connecting to the balcony where the gods were seated. Though there were some guards from the Loki and Ganesha Familias present, the two people in charge immediately recognized Vahn. Finn had been put in charge of managing the security forces of the Alliance and was currently guarding Loki, whilst Shakti was in charge of the event itself and was presently watching over Ganesha. When they saw him approach, Finn showed his characteristic smile and walked forward to meet Vahn, saying, “Good afternoon, Vahn, I didn’t get to see it myself, but I heard you put on quite the show for everyone. Tell me, is there something that has brought you here?”
Vahn returned Finn’s smile and nodded before saying in a casual manner, “I came to see if I could help out with anything. I didn’t want to be sitting around while everyone else worked hard.” Shakti, who had been standing a short distance away, said, “You have done your duty already; you’re now just a spectator in an area you shouldn’t be in. Please return to the stands unless there is something important that needs to be brought to the attention of the gathered gods.” Hearing Shakti’s words, Vahn squinted his eyes a bit as Finn showed a wry and apologetic smile before saying, “Shakti, Vahn is a very important member of the Alliance. If nothing else, he can join us in guarding this point, after all, he is the Captain of the Hestia Familia.”
Shakti looked as though she was considering the matter for a moment before nodding her head and saying, “Very well, but you can’t enter the viewing area unless there is an emergency. Only designated personnel are allowed there and it could cause problems if you distract from the main event by suddenly appearing the viewing stands allocated to gods. Did you even bring a weapon?” As Shakti hadn’t been watching Vahn’s exhibition, she hadn’t seen him materialize the armored mannequins that assumed he was just ‘playing around’ now. He was simply dressed, with a grey tunic and black trousers without a single piece of actual equipment on display, hardly appropriate for someone trying to help out with security. In fact, because of his relative fame, Vahn was more likely to cause a disturbance by his presence than resolve any.
Vahn didn’t appreciate the abrasive nature of Shakti’s words but, remembering the ‘intuition’ of the girls in the waiting area, he decided not to make a big deal out of it and simply pulled out his [Lævateinn] and expanded his aura while equipping his full gear in an instant. Shakti became guarded after the sudden change and took a step back before realizing that Vahn wasn’t actually doing anything but standing there in a casual manner. Of course, there was something else she noticed as well, the fact that Vahn had a subtle and teasing smile on his face.
Finn was also very perceptive and just began to laugh in an effort to diffuse the tensions as he said, “I am very envious of your space magic, and you’re so capable at using it, Vahn, very impressive. Exactly how much are you capable of storing nowadays?” Deciding not to tease Shakti unnecessarily, Vahn turned to Finn and said, “I’m at around 170,000 cubic meters of space, though I’m trying to increase it in preparation for the future expeditions.”
Not only Finn, but Shakti was very surprised by Vahn’s claim of having such a massive space for storage. As the Captains of their respective Familia, they knew that was a monstrous amount of space and would make Vahn the ultimate asset for deep floor exploration. One of the biggest problems when proceeding into the lower floors was protecting the support convoy and ensuring there were adequate supplies for continued exploration. The majority of expeditions came to an early end because something happened that either endangers the Supporter’s lives or compromised the food reserves that had been prepared. During an emergency situation, it was impossible to protect the heavy carts full of food, grain, and rations, so they were usually abandoned during the retreat.
Shakti suddenly recalled her god heavily emphasizing building a strong relationship with the members of the Alliance, with a special focus on Vahn himself. She knew Ganesha was always trying to set her up on blind dates, so she had thought he was just up to his old schemes. Now, however, she was starting to see Vahn capabilities and, based on simple observations, Shakti knew it was likely just the tip of the iceberg. Releasing a muted sigh, Shakti gave Vahn a once-over and took note of the protectors, greaves, and the somewhat intimidating greatsword. Even compared to her own spear, which had cost her nearly 300MV, Vahn’s sword seemed to be of a much higher quality.
Though he had been talking with Finn, Vahn noticed Shakti’s appraising look and focus on his weapon so he smiled before storing it away in his inventory. Shakti’s eyes squinted slightly as she looked up into Vahn’s face as he explained, “That was my sword, [Lævateinn], one of the most powerful weapons I forged on my road to becoming a [Master Smith]. Though it’s not as capable as the [Promise] I gave to Hephaestus, it’s still a decent piece of equipment.”
Hearing Vahn’s words, Shakti furrowed her brows slightly while Finn palmed his fist in sudden realization and said in a cheerful voice, “Ah, yes, Vahn, I suppose congratulations are in order? I had heard from Loki-sama that you had officially become a [Master Smith] and had beaten the original record-holder by more than sixteen years? The last spear you gave me was quite exceptional, but I wonder if it would be possible to book a contract with you in the future? Ahahaha~” Though he wasn’t sure why, Vahn could see that Finn was trying to ‘support’ him in his interactions with Shakti. There was a subtle teasing look in the Pallum’s eyes as he looked back and forth between Vahn and Shakti with an amused expression on his face.
Shakti wasn’t senseless and could tell what Finn was trying to do but she just crossed her arms and averted her eyes slightly without changing her expression much at all. Vahn was a little surprised by her reaction and had a strange urge to know if her Affection was influenced at all by their interactions. Deciding it wasn’t really worth worrying about, Vahn just made conversation with Finn while Shakti stood at the side in a statuesque manner.
He and Finn talked about what to expect on the lower floors and Vahn was very surprised to learn about a variety of things he hadn’t taken into consideration. It wasn’t just for show that Finn was a Veteran Adventurer with more than twenty-five years of experience under his belt. He hadn’t gotten to his position as Captain of the Rank 1 Familia on accident and was a veritable compendium of information so Vahn asked as many questions as he could since he planned to visit the lower floors in the very near future.
Now that he had finished the ‘basic training’ for Haruhime, Maemi, and Emiru, Vahn wanted to focus on increasing his own strength for a bit. Pushing the girls too hard would be more harmful than conducive so Vahn wanted to give them time to adapt to the changes in their fighting styles. Just as he had experienced in the past by training with Tsubaki, Vahn understood that it was necessary to ‘consolidate’ your strength and learn how best to adapt your fighting style to the situation. He also wanted them to seriously learn from the veterans in the group and take magic lessons from Riveria, though had hadn’t gotten her consent yet.
While they were improving their foundation, Vahn wanted to start probing into the Lower Floors and starting taking some missions from the Guild in order to increase the rank of the Familia. Since he could likely get Tiona, Ais, Tione, and various others, to accompany him into the Lower Floors, Vahn knew it would be a lot safer to do so now. After all, even Lili and Naaza had ventured down to the 25th floor during their mock expedition and Vahn knew his capabilities exceeded theirs by a fair amount.
As long as he had mana, and wasn’t caught in an enclosed space, Vahn would be able to use Shundo to avoid most dangerous situations. However, Vahn wouldn’t let himself get overconfident, after all, he had literally collapsed four times in the Dungeon within the last half a year. If he had been unlucky, any of those instances could have spelled disaster and cost him his life. Vahn was at the point where he couldn’t afford the mental burden of his own death because he knew it would impact the lives of so many people if he were to fall. He wouldn’t stop pushing himself to reach the bottom of the Dungeon, as it was one of the things he had decided to pursue, but he would take the necessary precautions to ensure that, not just himself, but everyone came back alive.
After a few hours passed, the nearby double doors opened wide and brought their conversation to a conclusion as the three walked forward to receive their respective gods. Loki, seeing Vahn, began to laugh loudly as she nudged Take’ and said, “See, I told you he would definitely be here waiting for us! Looks like you owe me ten bottles of wine from the Far East, kekekekeke~!” Take’ laughed in a complacent tone before remarking, “Yes, I shouldn’t have doubted Vahn. I will accept my defeat with grace and dignity…”
Ganesha also began to laugh in a boisterous tone that made Shakti’s brows twitch when he asked, “Have you been getting along well with my Shakti, Vahn? She might appear a bit feisty on the surface, but I think the two of you could be good friends! Graaaahahahahahahahaha!” Vahn laughed in the most casual manner he could manage before replying, “Ah, I wouldn’t mind being friends in the future. Even if they never joined the Alliance, I think the Ganesha Familia would be reliable allies to have. As Captain of the Hestia Familia, I look forward to any cooperation we might have from here on.”
Hestia, who was standing with Hephaestus, chimed in after hearing Vahn’s words, “That’s okay, but just remember that Vahn isn’t so easily taken advantage of if you get any strange ideas! Don’t expect us goddesses to stand at the side and just watch things progress~! Isn’t that right, Hephaestus, Loki, Anubis!?” Loki began laughing at Hestia’s words but Hephaestus just nodded with a happy smile on her face as she looked straight at Vahn and said, “That’s right, we will protect Vahn, no matter what happens in the future…that is the ‘promise’ I keep in my heart.” As she spoke, Hephaestus placed her hand over her heart and Vahn could feel a ‘pulse’ in his own chest where the eternal flame was dancing around.
From the side, Loki suddenly said in a tone filled with awe, “Wow…this must be the power of the head wife…? Maybe I should ask Hephaestus-‘sama’ for Vahn’s hand in marriage next~?” Loki’s words instantly destroyed the spontaneously warm atmosphere and caused Hephaestus to blush slightly before she walked forward and grabbed Vahn’s arm and said, “Let’s get something to eat, I know a nice place that isn’t too far away from here…” The rest of the group said some quick goodbyes and started to follow along as well now that Hephaestus had taken control of the situation.
After leaving the Coliseum, the group continued onwards together and made lively conversation with each other until they arrived near Babel Plaza nearly an hour later. Vahn hadn’t expected them to travel such a distance, but it was on the way to the Hearth Manor and Hephaestus’s workshop, so it wouldn’t cause any problems at all. When they entered the Plaza proper, Hephaestus turned to Hestia and Anubis before saying, “You two should join us as well, I think it would be nice for us to spend time together.” Anubis nodded her head politely but Hestia said, “Of course~! There is no way I’m going to be left out of a dinner date with Vahn when we’re already together like this!”
Hephaestus nodded her head and began ‘leading’ the way as Loki shouted out, “Eeeiiii!? What about me!?” Hearing her words, Hephaestus looked over her shoulder with a teasing smile and said, “This is the power of the Head Wife~. Besides, are you just going to leave your escort standing outside waiting for you?” Behind Loki, there was Finn, Bete, and various other members of the Loki Familia present. Loki had increased her personal security after getting pregnant and was taking extra precautions to make sure nothing adverse happened to her child. No matter how much time passed, even if she lived for a hundred million more years, Loki would never stop resenting whoever harmed her baby while she was pregnant.
Loki gnashed her teeth in mock frustration before taking a few steps and leaping to cling to Vahn’s neck as she complained, “Vaaaaahn, Hephaestus-‘sama’ is bullying me~! Don’t tell me…I’m being thrown away right after you knocked me up!?” Though he had been planning to play along with Hephaestus, Vahn felt more than a little pressure from Loki’s words and couldn’t help but swallow nervously as he stared at Hephaestus with a ‘pleading’ expression and an awkward smile. Hephaestus, against his expectations, simply smiled and said, “If I have power as the Head Wife, don’t you also have power as my Husband? I won’t change my mind, but I also won’t argue with you if you decide to let her come with us…fufufu~.”
Before Vahn could make a decision himself, Loki swatted her hand toward the waiting Loki Familia and said, “Shoo, shoo, if you’re here I might not be able to go along on the date! Come pick me up at the Hearth Manor in the morning! Get, get, get~!” Finn laughed in a mechanical manner before signaling Loki’s escort to return to the Twilight Manor. As he passed the group that consisted of Vahn, Hephaestus, Hestia, Anubis, and his own troublesome goddess, Finn said in a somewhat serious manner, “Take care of Loki-sama, Vahn. I’ll leave her safety to you…farewell.” Vahn nodded his head and watched the group make their way across the Plaza before realizing that, even if he wanted to refuse Loki’s attendance, he had lost the timing.
With this realization, Vahn also noticed something else and asked in a curious manner, “You’re going to stay at the Hearth Manor tonight?” Loki squeezed herself against his back and licked the back of Vahn’s ear before saying, “It’s not that common for all of us goddesses to already be gathered together and Eina had prevented anything from happening last night. I heard about your little plays in the past, surely you can tend to us in the same manner~?” Loki’s words seemed to influence the entire group and Vahn could feel passionate reds slowly spreading through the gigantic pinks auras that had already been surrounding him.
Looking around, Vahn couldn’t see any signs of apprehension on any of the girls faces so he squeezed Hephaestus’s and Hestia’s hands before nodding and saying, “I’ll be fine…leave it to me, I’ll make sure everyone is satisfied properly…” Vahn’s words caused the girls to blush a deeper shade of pink as Loki playfully commented, “Most people would go crazy just to sleep with a single goddess, but here is a boy that casually promises to take care of four…how manly~.” Loki had been sticking to his back for a while and, now that she had once again inflated things with her words, both Hephaestus and Hestia reached around and pinched the mischevious goddess on her pert little butt…
Following Loki’s loud yelp, the group made their way to Babel Tower and ate at a relatively fancy restaurant where a single meal cost more than 50,000V. After enjoying the rich and flavorful food, they made their way to the Hearth Manor and threw a wrench into the plans of some of the others girls by all being together. Though the status quo might change in the future, everyone on the network knew better than to interfere with Vahn’s time with Hephaestus and Loki, the two goddesses that currently carried his child. Syr even gathered everyone for a small get-together while Vahn, Hephaestus, Hestia, Loki, and Anubis were all taking a bath together and preparing for the relatively long night.
Afterward, Vahn got to experience something that could only be described as ‘Heavenly’ as he spent the night with the four beautiful goddesses. Other than Hestia, the other three were far more durable than normal girls and were also very receptive to almost anything Vahn wanted to do. They actually ended up ‘coaching’ Hestia a bit so she wouldn’t always be so easily ‘defeated’ after a single round. Needless to say, it was a very educational experience for Vahn as well since he had become the ‘object’ they were using for practice. He also got to experience the somewhat dangerous sight of Hestia being teased by both Loki and Hephaestus. They were both 165cm tall, compared to the 140cm Hestia, so Vahn had a strange delusion that they were ‘bullying’ the petite goddess as she mewled sensual cries that itched his heart while he pinned down the heavily breathing Anubis from the side…