Chapter 418: Reflection : The Way Forward

As the days continued counting down towards the wedding, Vahn was spending the majority of his time within his workshop to make preparations. He knew the girls had long suspected he was up to something as they had stopped seeking him out during the lunch block. Vahn planned to spend more time with the rest of the girls in the future, as he really wanted to know more about them, but he was grateful for the time they had given him. The matters regarding Tiona, Ais, and Arnya, weighed somewhat heavily on his mind and, now that he had some success making armor out of fabric, Vahn was in a creative frenzy.

Of course, before he got to into his current groove, Vahn had completed Eina’s dress within the four-day time frame he had set for himself. The final product looked nearly identical to the one he had created for Hephaestus, except that it made use of blues, purples, and icy whites with the inclusion of the Snow Falcon feathers. Instead of a flame pattern on the bodice, Vahn had decided to sew white threads that linked together glimmering gemstones that made the entire outfit appear similar to constellations in the night sky. If Hephaestus’s dress was supposed to represent a Phoenix standing out against the backdrop of the sun, Vahn wanted Eina’s to embody the cool embrace of the night and the peaceful end of the day. Eina’s dress didn’t ‘compete’ to stand out amongst anything and almost seemed like a natural part of the night sky with wispy clouds that slowly ambled through the upper atmosphere…

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[Phoenix Night Dress]

Rank: A (Magic)

Slots: 0

P.Def: 349

M.Def: 920

Ability: Phoenix’s Embrace(A), Ice Immunity(A), Shock Resistant(C), Weatherproof(B)

A wedding dress created with care by a skilled Master Smith for the Half-Elf, Eina Tulle. Makes use of a variety of precious materials, as if embodying the feelings the creator had during its productions. When wearing this dress, the user creates a calming aura that affects everyone that enters their vision, like the night overtaking the day and welcoming them into a peaceful and pleasant rest.

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When Vahn had first laid eyes on the completed dress, he imagined Eina wearing it and had a strange urge to simply rest his face against the mannequin and go to sleep. The best part was that the cool colors of the dress wouldn’t compete with the neutral brown hair of Eina, her gentle expression, and her emerald green eyes which would shine like two beautiful stars when the ensemble was brought together around her thin frame. He planned to have the two women try on the dresses this weekend so he could tailor them, though it likely wouldn’t be necessary, before the wedding on Wednesday. Even though it hadn’t been publicized much, the entire City was talking about Hephaestus’ wedding to Vahn and, as he had come to know through the rumors, her intent to make an ‘Eternal Vow’ pledging herself to him.

The fact that Eina was also going to be marrying Vahn was also being spread, but it was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the most prolific forging goddess in all eight regions of Heaven was marrying a mortal man and making an Eternal Vow to him. This meant that, no matter how much time passed after Vahn’s death, Hephaestus would continue to devote her love solely to him until the very end of her immortal life. When Vahn learned about this, he was completely overwhelmed by the information and his behavior after the fact had been the reason why the girls gave him a bit of space.

Vahn knew it was very possible for him to live forever, but only if he forsook the growth of his soul and restricted himself to this record for the rest of time. He had even discussed the matter with Sis and learned that it was possible to work hard to obtain his own Divinity, which would make him immortal within the record of Danmachi, same as the other gods and goddesses. Doing so would upset the balance of the world if he remained in the mortal plane, so he would have to ‘ascend’ to Heaven if he wanted to take that route. This would make him suffer the same restrictions as other gods, except that he would have The Path to help him resist the compulsion of his Divinity. The downside to this was, Vahn’s ascension would fundamentally alter the record and cause it to evolve over time to match the limitations of his own soul, which was inherently without limit.

It might not happen any time soon, but Vahn’s presence would eventually cause the record to proceed to Tier 5 and, if an incredible amount of time passed, all the way to Tier 9. This might not seem to bad if not for the fact that the laws that would come into play within the record could drastically change the power balance of the world. Just like the chaos and uncertainty during the Age of Myths, Vahn would throw the entire record into perpetual chaos and, after enough time passed, there would even be several entities naturally born into the world that would exceed the current gods. He couldn’t learn all of the Tiers just yet, but Vahn knew that Tier 4 was called the ‘Divine Soul Tier’ while Tier 5 was known as the ‘Realm Soul Tier’.

At Tier 4, a person at the peak of power could even create entire worlds if their understanding of the laws was comprehensive enough. Once someone grew beyond the peak of Tier 4 and entered the Realm Soul Tier, they could conceivably create an entire realm, which divergent timelines, parallel worlds, and a nearly infinite number of planets that could support life. This sounded like an incredible thing, if not for the fact that the laws themselves would create a being to ‘regulate’ things at this tier. Before Vahn even reached Tier 5 himself, it was very likely a different entity would be born into an existence that would be much stronger than the power he would possess at the time.

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The records constantly had to maintain a balance, which was regulated by karma, which meant that the more powerful and good Vahn became, the stronger the influence of evil that would emerge to counterbalance his power. Unless he could throw away his emotions and become the balancing factor himself, Vahn would enter an eternal contest against progressively stronger enemies that would be created by the record itself to serve as his ‘labors’. Overcoming his enemies would further increase his growth, which would, in turn, lead to even stronger enemies coming into existence. Since his soul was fused with The Path, there was a very real possibility that other records would eventually become linked with the Danmachi record and he could conceivably bring chaos to every record in The Path if enough time passed…

Even if that was the case, Vahn actually didn’t mind that much at all, as there would always be an infinite amount of chaos that intermixed together with all records. Linking them would introduce new variables within the world, but things would always stabilize after enough time passed and he would be one of the guiding forces in such a world. One of the problems Vahn faced, if he were to accept such a life, would be the feelings of ‘loss’ he would have to deal with when his loved ones inevitably died. He might live forever, but that didn’t mean all the girls around him would have the same capacity. The same applied to his future children as well and, even if he could conceivably make them all immortal, this wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for the record itself.

Vahn had no delusions that all of his children would be good, and he also knew that not everyone wanted to live forever. One of the things that made life worth living for so many people was knowing that each of their actions in the present were ‘significant’ in their shorts lives. They could measure their own value by the life they led and accept death peacefully before returning to the cycle of reincarnation. By the time Vahn helped people become immortal, they would eventually go through the same thing as the various gods and goddesses, where their mentality would slowly wear down over time unless they fulfilled their ‘purpose’. One of the reasons gods could tolerate eternity was because they always had a purpose that defined them from the very beginning, a fundamentally different mindset than that which was ‘enjoyed’ by mortals.

Other than the ones that would die naturally, after refusing to live forever, Vahn knew he would be faced with a decision in the future where he might be asked to let the girls he loved die after they simply get tired of living. It was also a near-guarantee that, after enough time passed, Vahn would even have to strike down one of his former lovers that had turned to evil or even put down his very children because they had gone down a deviant path. Unless he stopped having children, Vahn’s progeny would eventually spread through the world, and perhaps all worlds, that would come about as a result of his ascension. As the lynchpin for everything, it would always fall to Vahn to take action and there was even a very high chance that his own children would try to ‘overcome’ him for their own ends. This wasn’t even the worst case scenario, however, which would be if Vahn himself entered the deviant path…

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Vahn really did want to visit more worlds in the future, but if he became the core of the Danmachi record and propelled it into higher planes, the only way to do so would be to link the worlds using The Path as an intermediary. Unless he was also strong enough to keep them from influencing each other, this meant that entire multiverses would eventually collide in the future, simply because Vahn was ‘curious’. The sheer devastation that would result from his actions would be incomprehensible and, if Vahn himself decided to destroy things after having a change of heart, he might become some kind of universal threat that gave birth to a powerful force of good that would eventually eject him from the record after striking him down. Depending on how he dealt with the situation, Vahn might enter a cycle where he visits several worlds solely for the purpose of destroying them or trying to connect them back to the Danmachi record itself…such a concept sent shivers down Vahn’s spine just thinking about it.

The most frustrating thing of all was knowing that Vahn would eventually have to face a situation where records overlapped in the future, regardless of if he wanted to or not. Unless he completely stopped his own growth by sealing away his power, Vahn would continue to rise to greater height and would eventually find his way in a record where that kind of thing was considered normal. If Tier 5 could create an entire universe, with divergent timelines, that meant Tier 6 was likely capable of creating entire multiverses, or more. Vahn couldn’t even wrap his head around what Tier 7 and Tier 8 were like, though he knew that Klyscha, the Goddess of Dreams, was an entity that existed at Tier 8. From what Vahn could infer, she was literally the lynchpin for a nigh-infinite number of records, each with a potentially infinite number of worlds, fates, and the lives that lived them…

It was hard to conceptualize, but Vahn would one day be at the same level as Klyscha herself, and inevitably even exceed her with enough time. Vahn couldn’t comprehend what kind of changes he would go through in order to reach such a point, but the one thing he knew was that he didn’t want to arrive at the apex through cruel means. He might have to ruthlessly strike down his enemies, destroy entire species of terrifying creatures, and even create entire universes, but Vahn didn’t want to be cruel in his methods.

Ultimately, the decision Vahn found himself facing was a relatively simple one…he had to choose if he wanted to walk The Path alone, before eventually reuniting with some of the girls in the future, or he would walk it alongside them and face the challenges of the future together…at least, that was what Vahn believed until Sis stepped in with a chuckle and said, (*There are so many more paths you can walk, Vahn. The Path itself is here to help guarantee your freedom, not force you down a tragic route that would bring you heartbreak. As long as you search for a way forward and truly desire it, you will always find the route that leads to the greatest amount of happiness.*)

Vahn blinked, shocked by Sis’s sudden interruption of his internal reflection. Sis, as if finding his reaction amusing, laughed within his mind for a short while before continuing in a gentle tone, (*You will have to deal with several difficult situations and it is almost guaranteed you will face heartbreak and loss…but that doesn’t have to be how you define your life in the future. Death is a natural part of the cycle of all things and, as you yourself have realized, not everyone desires eternal life. The vast majority that seek it aren’t capable of comprehending what that means and, like in the case of Eva, it often quickly turns into a curse…*)

Listening to Sis’s words, Vahn nodded his head in affirmation because he knew she was speaking the truth that he had already discovered for himself. What he didn’t understand is what she meant by there being other paths forward, other than the ones he had seen for himself. Answering his unasked question, Sis said, (*You may lack the power yourself, but you can use The Path to ‘buy time’ for yourself in the future. If you still want to visit other worlds without having to worry about the passage of time in the Danmachi record, you can always seal away the entire thing and put it into stasis. You might not possess the power yourself, yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of The Path to obtain the means…you simply have to desire it with all your heart and it will be so…that is your power, Vahn.*)

Almost at the same exact time as Sis finished speaking, Vahn heard a loud notification within his mind and became startled when he investigated the source. Vahn intuitively believed almost everything Sis said, as she had been the compass that had guided him forward for his entire second life. When he heard her words, he knew she was showing him the way forward and, as she had suggested, he believed that there would be a ‘path’ that would allow him to experience the necessary growth without having to guide an entire world forward and face constant strife in trying to deal with the aftermath. This belief was answered immediately, and now Vahn laughed loudly within the confines of his soundproof workshop as he scanned over the notification several times before saying, (“Sis, you really are the best…if you were a real woman, I think I might fall in love with you.”) Sis began to laugh like a bell within his mind as Vahn took one last look at the notification with her soothing laughter as the background music…

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//Optional Quest Triggered//

[Quest: I Shall Seal The Heavens](A/N: Kappa o3o)

Rank: SSS

Objective: Obtain 100,000,000,000 OP and purchase a [Dimensional Anchor: Stasis] from the system shop.

Rewards: All unlocked functions in ‘The Path’ evolve, 3x[Spirit Vessels], 1x[Enlightenment Stone]

Failure Condition(s): Death, Failure to obtain requisite amount of OP before leaving the record.

Penalty: Danmachi Record inaccessible until Tier 8, All Karma Nullified after leaving the record.

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(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Eina’s Ethereal Beauty’,’The Burden of Eternity’,’Thats a lot of zeroes…would only take 1,369 years of farming Bloodsaurus to obtain though~!’)

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