Chapter 440: Undercurrents : First Contact

As a result of the wedding later in the morning, the training for the day had been canceled yet everyone was already well awake and moving about with varying degrees of excitement. Vahn was intercepted by Syr at the base of the stairs and they both smiled at each other before she giggled and said, “Today is your big day, Vahn~.” Vahn released a contented sigh before saying, “It’s a little hard to believe…” Syr grabbed Vahn’s arm and guided him toward his designated location as she asked, “Are you nervous?” Shaking his head, Vahn said in a casual and calm manner, “No, I’m happy. They are both women I love dearly and hold close to my heart…I have no reason to be nervous at all.”

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Syr nodded her head before squeezing his arm slightly and mused, “I’m a little envious~.” Knowing that she had missed the ‘timing’ to meet Vahn by just a few days, Syr often wondered how differently things could have gone if she had met him sooner. Of course, she was actually very happy with how things had turned out because she couldn’t see herself elevating Vahn to his current status on her own. His happiness was her happiness, so Syr was all smiles even though her words were a bit melancholic.

The two entered the waiting area where Vahn was going to be ‘kept’ until Eina and Hephaestus arrived and could be whisked away by the others girls. As the groom, it was his duty to receive the guests that would arrive later, but he wasn’t supposed to see Eina and Hephaestus until the ceremony began. He could almost perfectly envision how they would look, but Vahn knew it was important to go through the motions for such things as it was a very significant event for everyone involved.

Waiting in the room for his arrival, Vahn saw Fenrir, Ryuu, and Tiona sitting on one sofa familiarizing themselves with each other while Ais, Tione, and Lefiya sat across from them. Most of the girls were taking care of various tasks, but each of the girls present were part of the ‘internal security’ and were intended to keep Vahn distracted until Hephaestus and Eina arrived. Hestia and Tsubaki had already left to go receive the two and Vahn had an hour or so to spend with the girls before his own duties began.

They had all been waiting for him, but it was Tiona who first called out as she raised the brush in her hand and waved as she said, “Good morning, Vahn~! Come take over for me. Fenrir has been a good girl and deserves a reward~.” Fenrir showed a somewhat crooked smile at Tiona’s words before sitting proudly with her back straight as she exclaimed, “Yes, Fenrir has been a good girl! Kukukuku-“

Vahn smiled at everyone present before Syr let go of his arm and said, “Well, I have my own duties to attend to. Take care of Vahn for a while, okay~?” before leaving the room in a casual manner.

Vahn replaced Tiona on the sofa, though she didn’t actually leave it and just squeezed together next to Vahn was a cheerful smile on her face. For the next hour, Vahn carefully tended to Fenrir’s somewhat messy hair while making conversation with the girls. Everyone congratulated him for his marriage, even though it hadn’t actually taken place yet, and they all seemed to be in a very good mood so Vahn felt even happier with how things were developing. He knew there was a chance something might happen later, but he decided to enjoy the moments when he could be happy without worrying excessively about such things.

During their conversations, Tione asked in a somewhat dismissive manner, “So, do you plan on marrying anyone else after this? I know Hephaestus and Eina are calling themselves ‘First Wives’, so that means you intend to get married to more girls, right?” Though she had a plain expression, Vahn could see her aura flaring up slightly and, hearing Tione’s words, most of the girls present were affected as well. Without harping over the matter, Vahn smiled as he skillfully braided part of Fenrir’s hair and said, “I will most likely marry several girls in the future, though I’m not sure how things will develop before such a time comes. It would be best if I consult Hephaestus and Eina about such things, though I imagine I will end up marrying Riveria at some point regardless of what happens…”

Ryuu, Lefiya, Ais, and Tione all twitched slightly when Vahn casually mentioned marrying Riveria in the future, even though they weren’t actually in love with each other yet. Ryuu and Lefiya understood Riveria’s position well, so they actually knew that Vahn’s words were likely to be true as it would cause even more problems if they didn’t get married. However, hearing him mention it now was a bit of an impact for the two Elven women. As if he had understood their concerns, Vahn continued in an equally casual manner, “I don’t care about social standing and how outsiders view us at all, but I know Riveria will likely have direct correspondence with the High Elf Forest in the future. As for those that stay within the Manor, as long as they have a good reason I don’t mind marrying them. After all, after the matters in the Divination, I feel like getting much closer to everyone so that such a tragic thing never happens again.”

What Vahn was saying was his actual intent and, once he managed to get Eina’s affection to the max, he intended to use the [Hearts Desire]’s of everyone that he had yet to use. He had originally been worried about knowing about the past of the girls in a one-sided manner, but now such concerns seemed pointless since he had an emotional attachment to almost everyone in the Manor and wanted to make them happy. Now that they had all taken ‘Lifelong Vows’ and decided to stay within the Manor, Vahn had lost his reason for delaying things. Just like he was starting to be more proactive with the other girls he had been keeping at arm’s length, Vahn wanted to take more decisive action regarding how he treated his relationships.

After releasing a short burst of laughter, Tiona grabbed Vahn’s free arm and looked upwards at him with a large smile on her face as she asked, “If I tell you how much I love you every day, is that a good enough reason for us to get married~?” Ais’s golden eyes began to glow with a competitive flame as she stated plainly, “I want to get married as well…though not for a while?” Though she started off confident, Ais wavered a bit in the end as she looked to her right and left at Tione and Lefiya respectively before saying, “I will wait…” Even without her explaining things properly, Tione and Lefiya knew she was saying that she wouldn’t want to get married until Vahn was with both of them. Tione furrowed her brows slightly before showing a small smile while Lefiya hung her head low and everyone present could see a deep blush begin to spread up her face and through her ears.

Vahn smiled at their reactions before several presences entered his perspective and he turned his attention toward them. However, the moment he turned his head to the side Vahn saw a flash of brown before Tiona covered his eyes and said in a playful tone, “No peeking, Vahn~!” Everyone on the network knew that, even if he couldn’t see through things in detail, he definitely had the ability to look through walls and other obstructions. When they had been in the Dungeon hunting Bloodsaurus, Vahn would often look through walls and was able to see things long before anyone else was able to pick up on them. If it was just the influence of his domain enhancing his perception, he wouldn’t have been ‘glaring’ at things through walls like he had done.

With a somewhat wry smile on his face, Vahn continued to brush Fenrir’s hair even though Tiona was still covering his eyes and giggling. He knew he hadn’t kept his secrets well, so it wasn’t a surprise that the information had spread around on the network especially since insightful women like Riveria had been present. His actions of skillfully tending to Fenrir even with his eyes covered was his way of saying he didn’t mind the matter of them knowing his ability anymore. Tione, however, seemed to find this interesting and asked in a teasing tone, “Can you see through clothing whenever you want?”

Tiona stopped covering Vahn’s eyes and he could see sparkles in her’s as she stared directly at him with a curious look on her face. Vahn tilted his head in thought before nodding his head and saying, “It’s actually very difficult to see through things like clothing since people usually move around a lot. Because of how thin the layers are, I’m more likely to see into the body of the person I’m looking at than seeing their nude figure…” Tione had a mischevious smile on her face when Vahn first started speaking but then she became somewhat pale after imagining what it would be like to look at the muscles, bones, and organs of a person while trying to sneak a peek at them.

Vahn laughed at her reaction and explained, “One of the reasons I’m such a skilled physician is because I have that capability, so don’t let it bother you too much. It’s not like what you’re expecting, just know that it isn’t really practical for the ‘purpose’ you were thinking about initially. Besides, I don’t think I have any need to peek at other women with the Manor in its current state…” With few exceptions, Vahn was almost positive he could get nearly any girl in the Manor naked if he actually asked them. He loved to admire the bodies of the girls, but he didn’t need to do it in such a roundabout manner given the current circumstances.

Hearing his words, almost every girl present nodded their heads in ‘understanding’ while some of them even had slight blushes on their faces. As Vahn assumed, they didn’t really mind him seeing them naked at all so there wasn’t any need to sneak a peek at them at all. Even Lefiya shared the same bath with everyone and had ‘exposed’ herself to Vahn more than thirty times at this point. Though she was definitely bothered by this fact, she didn’t really have any inhibitions about it anymore and just felt embarrassed by her own thoughts at times. Unlike Vahn, who was somewhat ‘bold’ with how he looked at others, she was ashamed that she often snuck peeks at his naked body at times.

As they were talking, one of the somewhat larger presences approached and Syr arrived at the door before smiling as she said, “Okay, until the reception phase comes to an end, you’ll need to personally greet all the guests that arrive, Vahn.” Vahn pat Fenrir’s side and she obediently hopped out of his lap before trotting off to a mirror to check her current appearance. She had been behaving herself as the others were speaking because she knew she was the ‘lucky’ person that got to sit in Vahn’s lap. Seeing how Vahn had styled her hair, Fenrir showed a big toothy grin on her face and gingerly poked at some of the braids with her claws. Her own body was immune to her abilities, so there wasn’t any danger of cutting through her own hair.

Vahn followed Syr to the gate where they would be greeting the guests together before having Emiru and Maemi escort them to the proper location. Syr had a list of everyone that would be attending and Vahn was present merely for the sake of formalities. He had quickly swapped into formal wear that matched the dress of the Far East because he wanted to pay homage to Tsubaki being the person that ‘raised’ him after he entered the City. Since he had a healthy tan with dark brown hair, Vahn easily matched the common appearance of someone that hailed from the Far East, except for the fact that he had different facial features and aquamarine eyes.

By the time they arrived at the gate, Vahn noticed there was an incredible amount of security located around the outside of the Manor, even though the wedding was supposed to be a relatively small and private affair. He even detected a massive presence that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and, if not for the fact that it glowed with a gentle yellow, Vahn would have thought a powerful enemy had arrived. As if she could read his mind, Syr giggled and explained, “The Freya Familia had agreed to help provide security for the wedding and she has placed some of her elites in hidden areas around the premises. I imagine you must have detected one of them~?” Vahn nodded his head as he used his [Eyes of Truth] to get a better look and saw a man he recognized, even though they had never met, standing next to a woman he recognized but was unable to sense for some reason…

Ottar was standing in the shadows of a window located in the same place that was previously used by the people spying on the Hearth Manor in the past. They had specifically chosen this building, not because they had any relationship with Vahn’s enemies, but because it was actually one of the best vantage points to view the Manor without being too obvious. Seeing Vahn turn his attention toward him, Ottar squinted his eyes slightly before saying in a deep voice, “His perception is commendable.”

Sitting next to him on a relatively luxurious wooden chair and sipping a cup of wine, Freya smiled as she looked into the crystal ball in her hands at Vahn’s face. She could see his eyes flicker with a stark blue color and deviate from Ottar and land on her current position…

A peal of sensual laughter escaped Freya’s lips and she said, “He can even detect me when I’m wearing an artifact that completely masks my presence…or perhaps he can see through the walls with those beautiful eyes of his~?” Ottar nodded his head with his arms crossed and said, “He didn’t notice you until he looked in this direction to stare at me…” Freya’s smile widened and she set the crystal ball and wine glass on the small table next to her and rose to her feet. She slipped off the silvery robe she had been wearing and revealed her godly raiment which consisted of an incredibly revealing black dress accented by red flower petals, very similar in structure to Hestia’s. Without any explanation, Freya pulled at one of the petals and the entire dress began to wilt from her body as she muttered, “If you’re so curious, please look at me, fufufufu~”

All the while Freya was acting strangely, Ottar’s expression didn’t change for even a moment and he simply continued to watch Vahn with an unwavering gaze. He saw the boy’s eyes widen before he averted them to the side and avoided looking directly at them. Since Freya was beginning to lose herself in her own world, Ottar stated plainly, “He turned away…” As she had just been tracing her hands down her naked body and began to get excited, Freya was somewhat disappointed by Ottar’s words before gently waving her hand and sending the petals around her feet dancing about in the air before they stuck to her body once again. After sitting back in her chair, Freya picked up her wine glass and asked, “What kind of expression did he have when he saw my body…?

Without any hesitation, Ottar explained, “He was flustered but otherwise unaffected…it was a very honest response.” Freya’s eyes squinted after hearing Ottar so she picked up the crystal ball once again and looked at Vahn’s face reflected in its surface. Ottar wouldn’t lie to her so this meant that Vahn hadn’t been affected by her charm at all, at least not in any meaningful way. Though she already expected this, it was still a small hit to her pride and caused an urge to well up inside her to make Vahn her’s once again. However, this urge passed quickly when Freya remembered everything she stood to obtain in the future by maintaining amicable relations with the Alliance, and Vahn himself.

In exchange for helping deal with the Thanatos Familia and providing security for the wedding, Hephaestus and Loki had agreed to allow her to meet Vahn much sooner than planned. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but Freya knew a significant event must have taken place for everyone to urgently gather at the Hearth Manor previously. It seemed like Hephaestus and Loki were more willing to compromise with her now, but Freya could also discern through their actions that they were also being very wary of her, even more so than in the past. This was why she wanted to meet with Vahn sooner and she was actually surprised with how quickly they both agreed…

Sloshing around the contents of her glass, Freya ruminated for a short while before asking, “Ottar, dear, who do you think is the most qualified man to impregnate me~?” Though his expression generally never changed, Ottar’s eyes squinted slightly as he considered the matter seriously and responded, “If it were based on strength and capabilities, it would be me…” Freya nodded with a smile on her face and turned her silver eyes to Ottar as he continued, “If it were based on potential, I can tell that boy, Vahn Mason, will likely become stronger than me in the future. Even though he wouldn’t be able to take an attack from me right now, my instincts tell me this won’t be the case for much longer…”

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Freya laughed like a bell before saying in an amused tone, “That is indeed the case…even though I haven’t seen his soul for myself yet, my intuition tells me his potential is limitless. Even though he has only been in the City for five months, he has already risen to such a point…” Setting her glass to the side, Freya held the crystal ball with both hands and hugged it to her chest as she asked, “Ottar, if I left the decision to you, what do you think I should do~?” Ottar inclined his head slightly before contemplating his response and saying, “I think you should always do as you please…you are like the wind, free and unfettered, so it isn’t right for me to think on such matters. Allen may become a problem, but he shouldn’t do anything that would offend you…”

Uncharacteristic of her typical behavior, Freya pulled her legs up into the chair and cradled the crystal ball as she said, “I have the option of bearing the child of anyone I choose, even amongst my own Familia now…but if I choose Vahn, I will be unable to maintain my relationships with my currents lovers…” Hearing Freya’s words, Ottar’s expression became somewhat solemn until Freya began laughing playfully before saying, “Don’t worry, there are always ways around everything…besides, I think I may allow you to be the one to sire my child first~.” This time, Ottar turned around to look directly at Freya and saw the seriousness in her expression. Nodding his head, Ottar said, “If Allen causes too much trouble, I will deal with him…” Freya’s smile turned somewhat sad and she muttered, “It really is such a waste…he is such a cute boy. If only he wasn’t so brash and obsessive…”

Of all Freya’s ‘children’, Allen was the most ‘crazed’ amongst them when it came to his devotion toward her. Though they didn’t fight seriously, Allen would definitely try to strike down Ottar if he were the stronger of the two. When it came down to the matter of Freya bearing a child, it was likely that he would take up his spear and cause a commotion in an effort to ‘earn’ the right. As he was nearly ten years younger than Ottar, he actually had a fair amount of room to justify such a right and would likely not stand idly by as the opportunity slipped through his fingers. If it were the case where he could sire a child later, it might not be that bad, but once it was known that he would lose his chance to Vahn, he would likely let loose his wrath. Unable to defeat Ottar, he may very well turn his spear on Vahn himself, especially considering that Allen had been complaining about his sister being ‘stolen’ by Vahn lately.

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