Now that Vahn knew there was a method available that could solve some of the problems he was facing in the future, he felt a lot more confident about things to come. Though it was a somewhat ridiculous amount of OP required, it made sense considering he would be putting an entire record, comprised of three realms, into stasis. If it didn’t cost a lot, Vahn would begin to seriously question how the world worked as even some skills cost several hundreds-of-millions of OP.
Of course, knowing there was a way didn’t actually mean it was accessible and now Vahn was in a peculiar situation where, like when he was doing his weapons quest, he had to potentially stockpile a lot of OP. He could average slightly more than 200K OP on a good day hunting Bloodsaurus, but that would mean that it would take nearly 1,400 years for him to actually obtain the requisite amount, assuming he didn’t spend a single point of OP before then. Even ‘quests’ that could take nearly nine months to finish, such as the [A Man’s Responsibility] that populated his quest log, only awarded 100,000 OP as their base reward…
Vahn needed to come up with a method to make a lot more OP in the future and he knew there were a number of ways he could do so. Just like when it came to ‘forging’, Vahn knew that taking up a trade could generate OP. Even when Vahn did something relatively simple, like cook a meal for the girls, he would generate a small amount of OP as a result of the effort he put in. There was also the fact that his subordinates generated OP for him every time they killed something, as well as his ability to convert items containing magic into sources of OP as well. This showed that there were a variety of methods he could employ, and he could probably even create more depending on the amount of effort he put into things. The most important thing seemed to be his own perception, just like how The Path awarded him a Quest based on the understanding he had derived from Sis’s words.
If Vahn placed enough value into the things he was doing he could, theoretically, even earn OP from simple actions like ‘petting’ Fenrir’s head or brushing her tail…with this thought in mind, Vahn immediately left his workshop in order to test his new theory. It was currently Thursday, but he knew that Fenrir had stayed home after obtaining Level 3 the previous evening. She had gotten the opportunity to cut loose and had wiped out an entire Monster Party on the 19th floor while Ryuu, Tiona, and Milan watched over her. Milan had been accompanying Fenrir’s party a lot recently and was even more reliable than Ryuu when it came to calming her down. Fenrir had actually been able to level up for a long time, but it had been delayed since her parameters were still hovering around a value of 3,000. After defeating nearly six hundred monsters sequentially, and putting forth an incredible amount of effort in the process, her parameters had shot upwards of 4,000 and she wanted to finally level up.
(A/N: I noticed that I haven’t actually been updating Fenrir’s status with her Innates, my bad~! Also, since someone wanted to know what the (-) means, it’s an Innate that how no inherent limit at all. If Fenrir’s soul could bear the burden, she could eventually get to the point where she could devour entire realities, or even concepts like ‘Laws’ xD)
Skills: [Insatiable Hunger:Innate(-)], [Lunar Cry:C->B], [Freezing Roar:B->A], [Chainbreaker:C], [Devour:SS], [Huntress:A->S], [Endeavor:H](new)
Development Abilities: [Chain Attack:I](new)[Endeavor]
Use: Parameters increase the longer the user is in active combat.[Chain Attack]
Use: Increases comprehension of combo attacks and allows the user to draw more power from longer combination chains. (A/N: Generally, the more attacks in a combo, the bigger the falloff since you have to expose yourself to continue the attack. Fenrir doesn’t have this restriction anymore and would just get stronger the more fervently she attacked something~! Protect your backs!!!)
Fenrir theoretically had unlimited potential, but Vahn knew the requirement was counterproductive and would negatively affect her mental state if she fully committed to using it. The [Insatiable Hunger] Innate ability was the source of her potential and, in order to make the ‘best’ use of it, Fenrir would have to give in to her urges and devour everything around her. This would make her emotional state unstable and, in order for her to become even stronger, she would have to suffer the burden of a perpetual hunger that literally drove her mad. Vahn would much rather her be an adorable little wolf girl than a crazed beast that simply killed everything in its path to obtain strength. He knew Fenrir wouldn’t be happy living such a life and simply recalling the first few weeks where she struggled to adapt to other people pained his heart a little.
As he could keep track of everyone within the Manor, Vahn easily located Fenrir and noticed that, from the very moment he began looking for her, she was already inbound and looking for him. One of the things he had verified after returning from the Dungeon previous was that Fenrir was a bit of a unique case amongst his subordinates, like due to her incredibly high loyalty. Anubis admitted that she has always had her ‘tendencies’, which was verified by Loki who had already been aware of it from the ‘rumors’ she had heard about Anubis’s past. As for Fafnir, it understood Vahn’s intents well, but it seemed to have much more of an open mind compared to Fenrir.
Vahn knew that Fenrir hadn’t truly opened up to other people and most of her interactions with them were closer to a compromise than actual affection. The closest exceptions were Milan, Tina, and Preasia, but she wasn’t quite to the point where she genuinely cared for them. If Vahn ‘ordered’ her to not associate with the other girls, he knew she would easily toss them aside and follow his order without even batting an eye. It was something disconcerting, but Vahn knew this would change with time and was looking forward to the day where Fenrir would show an actual smile, instead of the crooked attempt she often made at one.
Less than two minutes after he had left the workshop, Fenrir came trotting down the hallway he was in wearing her adorable little maid outfit. Vahn could see that her hair was partially brushed, which meant she had walked away from whoever she had gotten to brush it for her. He could sense presences coming towards them and knew they had been in the room with Fenrir when she had likely made a swift, and probably unexplained, exit. With her same crooked smile, Fenrir stopped right in front of Vahn before tilting her head to the side and asking, “Vahn was looking for Fenrir~?”
Nodding his head, Vahn smiled and said in a casual manner, “Yes, I was thinking of rewarding you for the efforts you’ve been putting into becoming stronger. Since you leveled up recently, I thought I would spend the rest of the day spoiling you however you like, as long as it’s not anything too bad.” Hearing his words, Fenrir’s scarlet eyes began to glow and she began to fidget with excitement as she shouted, “Yes, Fenrir has been waiting~! Don’t worry, Fenrir is a good girl, she won’t make Vahn do anything strange~! Here, Vahn, follow Fenrir!” Even though she said to follow her, Fenrir trotted around to Vahn’s back and used her paws to urge him forward towards the door she had arrived through.
Fenrir ended up ‘taking’ Vahn to the room where she had been previously with Preasia, Tina, and Shizune. They had been searching for her after she left and had met Vahn and Fenrir along the way before they all returned to the room together. Vahn felt it was a little strange to be ‘locked’ in a room with small girls, but he wasn’t exactly worried about it either. Tina was a sensible girl, Fenrir was a ‘good’ girl, and Shizune was…well, she was a bit of a troublemaker but still acted appropriately most of the time. She did have a bad habit of goading people, but she never actually did anything that might upset anyone.
It was arguably Preasia that was the most difficult girl to deal with, as she was the quiet type that liked to stare at Vahn silently from the side. She had opened up a lot to the other girls, as the majority were younger than she was, but she still stayed very quiet whenever Vahn was around. He knew she talked often when he wasn’t in the room, but it was hard to believe since the majority of the time he spent around her involved her ‘watching’ him with her watery aura.
Before he had started looking for Fenrir, all of the girls were playing dress up and had been helping to style Fenrir’s hair for her. Vahn had given them all cute clothes in the past and they had been mixing and matching outfits to try and find things that suited each of them. Now that he had entered the room, however, they were more focused on why he had stopped by than doing what they were previously up to. When Tina had asked, Fenrir answered in a very matter-of-fact kind of voice, “Vahn is going to spoil me properly, pay attention, okay? If you work hard, you can get Vahn to spoil you as well~! Fenrir will show you how to be a good girl, kukukuku~.”
The other girls stared at Fenrir in confusion before turning their eyes to Vahn as he explained with a smile, “Fenrir isn’t wrong, as I often try to reward people for their efforts. Since she had been performing well in the Dungeon, and had recently leveled up, I decided to spend the next few hours pampering her however she wants me to.” Fenrir thumped her chest in pride before raising her chin high as if looking down on the other girls in the room. She had her same crooked smile as she said in a chipper tone, “Fenrir may not be the strongest, but she works super hard to become stronger! One day, Fenrir will be the strongest of all and will get Vahn to pamper her everyday~!”
It was Vahn’s turn to raise his brows slightly because, from how Fenrir worded things, it seemed like she wanted to monopolize him a bit in the future. He already pampered her plentily, nearly every single day, but it seems like she isn’t completely satisfied with that. Though he had already resolved himself to become much stronger, Vahn now felt moderately more motivated to increase his strength to stay ahead of the rambunctious little wolf girl. While he was having an internal dialogue, Fenrir had been ‘lecturing’ the other girls before turning to Vahn and spreading both of her arms as she said, “Vahn, hug Fenir~!”
Vahn opened his arms marginally and Fenrir completed the action and nuzzled against him as she remarked, “See, Vahn is a good boy, he treats Fenrir the best of all~. As long as Fenrir works hard, Vahn will pamper her lots and lots, ehehehe~.” As he had come with the intent to ‘pamper her seriously’, Vahn held Fenrir tightly and stroked the back of her hair as she wiggled about in his embrace. He could tell she was much stronger than in the past, likely even more powerful than he was currently, as her movements were kind of hard to control and she was able to move about quite a bit even though he hugged her tightly. After a few seconds passed, Vahn heard a small blip in his mind and turned his attention to the system interface where he saw something that brought a smile to his face.
//[Petting] Development Ability Unlocked. Current Rank: (I)//
2 OP obtained…
1 OP obtained…
2 OP obtained…
Just like when he had obtained the brand new Development Ability [Mentor], Vahn was able to create an entirely new one based on his perception. Since he decided to genuinely consider petting as something that he could get ‘better’ at over time, much like most Development Abilities, he was able to create an entirely new skill. Vahn didn’t gain his abilities through the normal method, which required a person to unlock them when they leveled up. Instead, his were almost exclusively quest rewards from raising his affection with other people and from the Optional Quests he would ‘randomly’ unlock.
Vahn was beginning to understand how The Path allowed him to pursue the ‘freedom’ he desired, as it made the impossible possible based on the effort he put into things. Since he had a lot of ‘experience’ petting, he was able to turn it into a Development Ability entirely unique to him. This one was somewhat embarrassing, however, so Vahn intended to keep it a secret for the time being and see how far he could ‘develop’ it over time. Just being able to gain small amounts of OP while ‘petting’ the girls made Vahn want to laugh out and thank The Path for its ‘benevolence’.
Fenrir, as if noticing a change, raised her head and said, “Master is getting better at pampering Fenrir…” Then, as if to contradict her own words, Fenrir let go of Vahn and freed herself from his arms before walking over to the sofa and saying, “Tina, move, please, Fenrir wants to use the sofa” Tina’s eyes opened before she flusteredly jumped off the couch while saying, “E-excuse me~nya.” After Tina moved, Fenrir nodded her head before patting the sofa and saying, “Vahn, sit here, Fenrir wants to sit on your lap~.” Vahn was beginning to feel like things were taking a strange turn, but he was still in a good mood after having unlocked a unique Development Ability so he let Fenrir be a little selfish for the time being and sat on the sofa.
After he sat down, Fenrir did something somewhat out of character and climbed onto lap with her legs straddling him. Vahn’s brow twitched very slightly, as Fenrir had usually sat with her back to him so he could brush her hair. Either that, or she was lay on his lap and behave as he stroked her hair and ears. The way she was currently sitting was far more ‘intimate’ than normal, and Vahn felt a terrifying premonition which was confirmed when Fenrir said, “Vahn, kiss Fenrir~!” Without waiting for Vahn to ‘obey’, Fenrir tried to raise her body and ‘steal’ a kiss from Vahn but he was able to stop her action by holding down her waist.
Fenrir’s eyes immediately began to glow slightly as she asked, “Vahn won’t kiss Fenrir?” To prevent her from making a second attempt, Vahn placed his hand on top of Fenrir’s head and used [Hands of Nirvana] to stroke her hair and ears. He noticed that the OP he was earning increased slightly, but he ignored that for now and asked in a soothing tone, “Fenrir is a good girl, why are you trying to make me kiss you so suddenly? That kind of thing-” Fenrir, completely against the character she had developed, interrupted Vahn and said, “Fenrir has seen Vahn kiss all of the other girls, but he doesn’t kiss Fenrir at all. Fenrir knows Vahn is the best to her, but she doesn’t understand why Vahn treats her different. Is it because Fenrir is a monster? If Fenrir is a monster, then why does she have to act like a girl and wear clothes? Fenrir doesn’t understand, Vahn, please tell Fenrir!”
Vahn frowned slightly and looked around at the other girls for a brief moment and saw a ‘guilty’ look in Shizune’s eyes as she averted her gaze away from his when he looked at her. For Fenrir to be behaving like this so suddenly, she must have been influenced by someone else since she was typically rather ‘docile’ when it came to interacting with him. She usually tried very hard to not make trouble for him, but now she was getting stressed out and trying to ‘force’ him on the issue. The biggest problem was, Vahn didn’t really have an easy way to answer the majority of her questions at all. He treated Fenrir more like a daughter than anything else, and he didn’t want her to become like the other girls in his life…
After forming his thoughts, Vahn looked into Fenrir’s scarlet eyes and framed her face with his hands as he said in a soft tone, “Fenrir, I worry for you a great deal…you know that, right?” Fenrir nodded her head slowly and Vahn continued, “I want you to be able to live a happy life, without that kind of influence. Until you can open your heart to other people, and before you are able to become more mature, I don’t think its a good idea to do anything like kissing. It’s just like Emiru, Maemi, Haruhime, Preasia, and the other young girls. I can pamper you as much as you want, but until your mind becomes more stable, I can’t do anything else with you. Since we’ll be together forever, I don’t want to see Fenrir become a bad girl that always tries to get her way by force…”
Fenrir frowned while Vahn was speaking and he could see her clenching he paws open and closed as her claws constantly changed their length. He knew she was trying to rationalize what he was saying in her own way, and he was even helping her a bit by making his intent known through their bond without directly ordering her to do anything. After thinking for a while, Fenrir lifted her head and asked a question that dealt critical damage to Vahn, “Can you grab Fenrir’s butt?” Vahn resolved himself to try and avoid showing too much affection to the other girls in front of Fenrir from now on.
He had been so good about avoiding it in the past, but he knows she had seen a fair amount of things he should have kept from her during their trip into the Dungeon. The constantly ‘assault’ of Ais and Tiona had quickly worn away at his inhibitions before the first day had even come to an end. One of his ‘bad habits’ involved grabbed the girls’ butts, so it seemed like Fenrir had taken an interest in it as well. Vahn had washed her body several times, including her small butt, but he had never actually ‘grabbed’ it before. Being asked in such a question, while he had been waiting for her to work through things, was a bit unexpected for Vahn and his mind blanked for a short while after.
Fenrir showed a pouting expression and asked in a low voice, “Vahn touches Fenrir lots and lots, so why can’t he grab her butt now? Fenrir doesn’t understand…” Stirred awake by Fenrir’s words, Vahn explained as best he could, “Washing in the bath, massages, and even pampering you, these are all different than what you’re asking for Fenrir. There is a big difference between affectionate actions and intimate actions, and I can’t do the latter with you until you grow up a little more…” Fenrir continued to show a pouting expression before eventually releasing the first sigh Vahn had ever heard from her. With a somewhat pitiable expression on her face, Fenrir titled her head up and asked in a quiet voice, “Can Fenrir sit on Vahn’s lap and have him hug her? Fenrir can tell…Vahn isn’t comfortable…but Fenrir wants to be closer to Vahn even more…”
This was a much easier request to answer, even though it was a bit awkward being straddled by a girl in a ‘non-intimate’ manner and Vahn decided to concede defeat and say, “That should be fine, as long as you’re wearing proper clothing…” As if all her ‘sadness’ from earlier had been an illusion, Fenrir’s expression became brighter as she hugged around his body and said, “Vahn is the best to Fenrir~!” Vahn stroked the back of her hair and looked around at the other girls in the room with a wry smile on his face. He could see that each girl, especially Shizune and Preasia, had wavering auras that were intermixed with a bit of pink. Vahn hadn’t expected the situation to turn so awkward and decided that he needed to make sure to always have one of the older girls around so that he didn’t get caught up in the momentum of the youth troupe.
After Fenrir had calmed down a bit, Vahn continued to pamper her after he convinced her to interact with the other girls. Just having them awkwardly watch was a bit unnerving, so Vahn ended up in a situation where he helped brush all of their hair, though only after moving to the main study where other people often frequented. Shizune had tried to pitch the idea of Vahn playing ‘dress up’ with them, but Vahn ‘gently’ flicked her fluffy ear in response and earned the title of ‘bully’ from yet another girl.
Even though her mind had appeared to have regressed somewhat, she still had all of her memories from her life as a slave. Shizune had made marked improvements in her behavior, but it was very obvious that she wasn’t acting like a ‘kid her age’. Since Milan had been going into the Dungeon more often, she hadn’t been spending as much time with the two young girls and Vahn was considering measures to help them develop into proper adults. Syr was often around the Manor, and there was also Tsubaki present, so he could probably have them look after the youth troupe during the day.
There was also the possibility of getting Hestia more involved in the Familia, as she was the temporary caretaker of Fenrir before Ryuu moved in. They actually got along very well with each other, as Fenrir was ‘closer’ to the girls that Vahn was in a ‘dependant’ relationship with. Other than Loki, Fenrir got along well with Hephaestus, Eina, Hestia, and Tsubaki, even though she wasn’t exactly ‘close’ with them like she was with Milan, Tina, and Preasia. For the girls that were more reliant on him, Fenrir simply ‘tolerated’ them, likely because she could sense the stress that they sometimes caused him.
Since Hestia was going to be one of the primary caretakers of the children in the future, it would be a good chance for her to get some early practice in…or he could just have all the more mature women rotate the duty? Either way, there was a simple way to resolve the situation so, when they had taken their break to eat lunch Vahn brought the idea up through his own personal network and knew it would undoubtedly reach the ‘correct’ person. When he couldn’t come up with the answer on his own, consulting the network was often the best choice since the girls were actually very sociable with each other and knew a great deal about everyone else on the network. Vahn suspected that, as early as this evening, there would probably be a ‘mother’ figure around the youth troupe from now on.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The Path is an enabler’,’Fenrir’s Frustrations’,’Ticking time bomb…’)