After the three-versus-one battle between the gods and a mortal boy, Vahn emerged victorious with the use of his ‘legendary’ [Hands of Nirvana]. He usually held back, but things started to escalate more than he had expected so he took control of the situation and ended up leaving his room nearly two hours later with all three goddesses snuggled up next to the sleeping Hestia. Though he had felt refreshed when he first woke up, now Vahn felt a sense of accomplishment, especially after he got Loki to ‘beg’ for leniency.
Fortunately, the soundproof barrier was going strong so, even though they had been quite loud towards the end, most of the others within the Manor were completely unaware of the epic battle that had been fought so early in the morning. Of course, there was someone that had been aware of the climactic battle, as they had shown up outside of Vahn’s door and had even peeked inside after nobody answered. The soundproof barrier went both ways, so nobody on the bed had heard the knocking. If not for Vahn’s ability to sense auras, even he wouldn’t have caught Syr sneakily peering in through the crack after slightly opening the door. Vahn could only blame himself for failing to lock it as he sent her a sideward glance that made her ‘scurry’ away with a blush.
When he finally came downstairs, Syr had been waiting in the corridor leading towards the bath and was carrying a towel and a change of clothes, likely intending to join him if the smile on her face was any indication. Vahn walked toward her without any hesitation and asked in a teasing voice, “I never expected you were the type to peek at others, Syr, was there something you needed me for?” Syr blushed at his words but managed to keep her smile before she responded in a teasing tone of her own, “Ara~? I was just wondering if you were still inside your room. When nobody answered, I was going to head inside to clean up yet when I opened the unlatched door, I saw something quite unexpected. Fufufu, I never knew Hephaestus-sama was so flexible~”
Now it was Vahn’s turn to blush slightly before he covered up his embarrassment by pulling Syr into his embrace and sealing her lips for a short while until the warmth in his cheeks faded. When he pulled away, Syr began to laugh in a coy manner before whispering, “Do you not have any plans today, Vahn? I wouldn’t mind keeping you company for a while…” Vahn pinched her nose in response before picking up the towel she had dropped as he said, “Sorry, Syr, but I was planning to go visit Tsubaki today. I’ll explain everything inside the bath, care to join me?” Syr showed a pretend pouting expression before sticking out her tongue and accepting the towel and heading inside.
Vahn explained his plans to Syr while carefully attending to her body and she obediently listened while writhing about under his hands. Because she was being so ‘well behaved’, Vahn had started ‘rewarding’ her with increasing intensity as long as she was able to properly respond to his words. During this time, Vahn realized that his expectations were beginning to compound and his tensions had been progressively increasing ever since he woke up. Though he started the day completely relaxed, it was starting to seem like his entire schedule was turning into something tinged with eroticism. Even now, though they had simply started off talking, Vahn was somewhat aggressively kissing Syr’s neck from behind as he stroked her belly and chest with his palms.
Things eventually came to an end when Vahn detected another presence heading toward the bath so he ‘released’ Syr and pat the top of her head to help her calm down before, of all people, Riveria entered the bath. She stopped at the entrance for a moment before walking over and entering the bath after nodding to acknowledge them. Vahn briefly glanced at her beautiful body before releasing a silent sigh and bringing his bath time to an end. It justified his actions by telling himself he was just venting a bit before heading into the Dungeon for an extended period of time. All he needed to do to calm down was to find a member of the youth troupe since all the other girls were a little too receptive to him at times like this.
During breakfast, Vahn met several of the other girls and Syr began ‘pacifying’ them before they tried to have Vahn commit to any other plans for the day. True to his earlier intentions, Vahn was sitting next to Fenrir and Preasia during breakfast and helping feed the happy wolf girl for the first time in a while. As he had expected, it was very easy to calm down with the loveable little pup and all of her words and actions helped ease his somewhat tense heart. As for Preasia, Vahn was doing his best to pretend that he didn’t notice her sneakily sniffing the aroma coming from his body. After all, giving his current ‘excited’ state, there were several girls present that were also taking whiffs of the air. Vahn could see their nostrils flare up periodically and was very aware of the pink tinging their auras.
This was one of the downsides to having nearly half the residents within the Manor being beast-humans. Without exception, they were far more susceptible to scents and pheromones than Humans, Elves, and Dwarves. Fortunately, Fenrir seemed to either be immune to the scent or didn’t care at all as she acted perfectly normal. Vahn considered this a blessing since even Tina and Shizune were giving him periodic glances. Ever since her first period, Tina had been overly aware of Vahn, even though she already had a crush on him in the past. Vahn would have to be more cautious in the future and potentially even use a masking perfume to hide his smell so as not to trigger any of the other girls from now on.
By the time breakfast had come to an end, Vahn had gone over his plans with the members of the Loki Familia and the senior members of the Hestia Familia. Vahn put forth the idea of venturing down into the 30th floor, kind of like a practice expedition for the future. Generally speaking, going anywhere beyond the 25th floor was considered too dangerous, but if they had a large enough group it would be safe. One of the troubles would have been taking enough supplies for the trip and then escorting back the loot, but Vahn’s existence almost invalidated the need for such preparations. Unless he somehow ended up dying, he could provide logistical support that exceeded an entire expedition’s standard supplies requirements. (A/N: To put it in perspective, Vahn’s Inventory could fill the volume of 68 full-sized Olympic swimming pools. If he stored nothing by liquid inside of it, it would hold nearly 65 million gallons.)
The reason why he had decided upon the 30th floor, even though he had never gone beyond the 18th, was for the sole purpose of hunting Bloodsaurus and obtaining their blood. During the last expedition, the Loki Familia had been able to process several thousand liters, but it still wasn’t enough to last for a long period of time with continued use. Vahn wanted to nip the problem in the bud and gather enough of the precious resource to supply the entire network with enough ink to function indefinitely. He wanted to actually increase the power of the network in the future, but that would be impossible if there weren’t enough scrolls and magic pens to go around. Vahn also had the dual purpose of wanting to study how the scrolls and ink was made so that he could have a better understanding of how the scrolls themselves worked and try to improve upon them in the future.
Though there were still preparations that would need to be made, it was decided that Vahn, Tiona, Ais, Tione, Lefiya, Ryuu, Haruhime, Riveria, and, perhaps most importantly, Fenrir would be making the trip. The twins, Emiru and Maemi, wanted to come along but Vahn said they weren’t ready for such a dangerous excursion. Haruhime herself was also not qualified for the trip, but her unique support magic made her a special exception. Her Innate also had incredible practical use during combat, so she was going to be acting in the backline under the direct protection of Riveria. Lili and Naaza were also interested in going, but they were denied for the same reason as the twins, even though Naaza’s ranged capabilities put her on par with some Level 4’s. Vahn did, however, promise to go into the Dungeon with both of them in the future so they could benefit from his [Mentor] skill and spend some time alone with him.
As for everyone else, they would be holding down the fort and protecting the Manor from any potential enemies that might rear up. The girls from the Hostess of Fertility almost all had secret identities, and it was impossible to enter the Dungeon undocumented, so they were more of a hidden card that supported the Hestia Familia. They also needed to be around for the grand opening of the new pub tomorrow, and would likely be very busy for the entire week. Lastly, since they needed someone to actually be around to represent the Familia itself, Aki would be taking charge while Vahn and Ryuu were away.
After confirming all of the plans, Vahn left things for the more experienced members to take care of as he made his preparations to go visit Tsubaki. He was looking forward to the meeting and wondering how things would develop when it was just the two of them alone once again. Of course, he didn’t forget about his other plans either and asked both Chloe and Arnya if they would be free in the evening. Chloe had immediately agreed, but Arnya was acting a little strangely and awkwardly tried to talk around the issue without directly refusing. Vahn had been worried about her and tried to ask if anything was wrong, but the only thing he got in response after affectionately touching her cheek was Arnya spontaneously wretching and running off to a bathroom with hurried steps.
Vahn just stood there blankly for a while with his hand still in the air until Chloe, who had been nearby, remarked, “Ah, I know why Arnya is acting weird~nya!” As they hadn’t been the only two in the area, there were others that understood Chloe’s words from her outburst and Arnya’s reaction. Aki and Milan began to laugh before following the earlier path of Arnya. Seeing the two girls that were taking action, Vahn came to a realization of his own and dropped his hand. From the side, he could hear Chloe laughing in a cheeky manner before saying, “Arnya is experiencing morning sickness~. It looks like you have another mouth to feed in the future, maybe more~nya?”
Because she hadn’t taken a contraceptive after her first time, Vahn knew it was very likely that Arnya would get pregnant as a result. She had said at the time that she would leave it to chance, but Arnya had to know the odds were well over 90% and had accepted what was closer to an inevitability than a simple game of playing the odds. Vahn wasn’t sure if this was exactly what she wanted, but Arnya was now carrying his child in her belly regardless. Since he had actually been planning to go visit Tsubaki, Vahn now felt a little awkward and wondered if he should be helping to comfort Arnya instead of heading out to meet another woman…
Though he hadn’t stalled for too long, it was enough time for Syr to walk over and place her hand on his shoulder as she said, “Go, we’ll take care of things here. There isn’t much you can do for Arnya right now that can’t be handled by the experienced women in the Manor. Just make sure to treat her well when you return, that will be enough. Besides, I don’t think it would make her happy if you treated her too kindly when you haven’t done something similar for Hephaestus-sama, Loki-sama, and Aki…” Vahn had been comforted by the first part of Syr’s words, but he felt a weight in his stomach as she continued. With a bit of hesitation, Vahn lowered his head slightly and asked in a low tone, “Am…I a bad father…?”
From his left, Chloe cocked her head to the side in confusion before matching gazes with the equally confused Syr. After thinking over the matter for a moment, Syr seemed to understand Vahn’s concerns likely related to his own past and origins. She didn’t know exactly what to say, but she decided that speaking was better than keeping silent so she hugged Vahn for a brief moment before saying, “Don’t be an idiot, Vahn, you can’t do everything yourself. Just being gentle, kind, capable, and caring, will make you a better Father than most. The only thing you need to worry about is protecting our family and, most important of all, making sure you are always able to come back to us…look around, I don’t think anyone here would believe for a single moment you’re a bad Father just because you don’t rub someone’s back every morning…”
Vahn looked around at the girls surrounding him and saw comforting and encouraging expressions on their faces. He didn’t think about it much, but Vahn knew that almost everyone present was either an orphan or without one of their parents. This was one of the reasons everyone was able to bond together so closely in such a short period of time, because they could easily empathize with each other and were all connected through him…In a way, though not even remotely, he was kind of like their surrogate father figure…or at the very least, a man of great importance in each of their lives. The most important thing, however, was that Syr’s words about him not doing everything alone were absolutely true, as it was the strength of the network that even allowed him to act in the first place.
After looking over everyone once, Vahn nodded with a happy smile on his face and said a series of words he didn’t use enough, but wanted to convey at this moment, “Thank you, everyone, I love you all so much…” Even though there were some girls that he didn’t actually feel ‘love’ for, Vahn still made the statement all inclusive since the very idea of specifically telling each individual girl he loved them was rather awkward. If some of the girls that had affections for him were left out, Vahn knew they would feel sad about the situation so he just played it safe.
In response to his words, there were various smiles, even some laughter, but everyone seemed to be in a happy and pleasant mood all the way up until Vahn was kicked out of the Manor for tarrying too long. Tsubaki had already been informed through the network earlier, and Syr told him that it was rude to keep a lady waiting. Vahn laughed awkwardly as he felt the cold morning air on his skin before disappearing from the spot using Shundo. He decided to pamper Arnya when he returned in the afternoon, but for now his focus should be on Tsubaki and trying to break down her defenses.
Vahn knew Tsubaki wasn’t the type to easily let things come to a head, but he wouldn’t stop trying until she eventually gave in or outright refused his advances. He had no intention of forcing her at all, but Vahn knew she would probably never take the step forward unless he took the initiative. Tsubaki was very similar to Hestia in that when it came to actually cross that final line, she hesitated at the last step and required Vahn to take action to ease her anxieties. Vahn didn’t know what burden Tsubaki harbored in her heart but, if she failed to open up to him he had a backup plan already prepared. Though it might be sneaky, and he had put it off for quite a while, Vahn was willing to use her [Heart’s Desire] if it came down to it…he didn’t want Tsubaki to continue living alone anymore, no matter what it took.