Chapter 442: Matrimony

When he heard the sound of the music begin playing, Vahn released a gentle sigh before opening his eyes and walking up the back of the stage and stepping in front of the gathered attendees who were all looking toward him with smiles. Vahn returned a wide smile of his own as he walked toward Hestia, who was standing at the ceremonial altar holding a large golden pot hearth that burned with a wispy flame. As the Goddess of the Hestia Familia, which Vahn belonged to, she would be the one presiding over the ceremony and officiating the vows. She was dressed in a beautiful ceremonial white dress with a golden laurel wreath framing her long black hair that had been let down for the purpose of the ceremony.

Vahn stopped next to Hestia and she showed a vibrant smile without saying anything since, though she was on the stage, it wasn’t her ‘show’ this time around. Vahn felt a warmth spread through his chest as he stood tall and waited for the bridal procession to arrive. He wasn’t sure how they had arranged things, but he could see that Fenrir, Tina, and Shizune were missing from the crowd along with Tsubaki and Eina’s father, Thomas. Vahn waited patiently for the tempo of the music to change to the sound of gentle bells that danced in the wind accompanied by the sound of string instruments. Musicians were relatively rare in the danmachi record, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any since Bards and Minstrels roamed the lands.

With the change in tempo, the doors at the back of the Manor opened and Vahn’s smile widened greatly when he saw the two beautiful women step over the threshold of the door together. Hephaestus and Eina were both wearing the dresses he had ‘forged’ for them, but their beauty had been pushed to an almost ethereal level by the rest of their ensemble. Hephaestus had a laurel wreath in her hair that was a blazing red that was a few shades more vibrant than her own hair. Though she didn’t need it, she had on a light layer of makeup that accented her natural beauty and Vahn could even tell she had powdered her chest and shoulders. She carried a large bouquet of roses that were a combination of reds and oranges and her entire outfit made her like exactly like what she was, a fiery Goddess of the Forge. True to the dress’ function, Hephaestus’s entire body seemed to glow and it was like the entire world dimmed around her…all but one part of it.

Eina had a silver tiara and her brown hair had been tied up into an intricate bun at the back of her head with her sideburns braided. Though Hephaestus stood out like a vibrant sun, Eina wasn’t overshadowed by her at all and was gentle and placid like the moon with a calm aura spreading from her body. The bouquet in her hand consisted of roses that were colored white and blue and she even had a small amount of blue eyeshadow causing her vibrant emerald green eyes to stand out even more. Like Hephaestus, Eina had a beautiful smile on her face that caused Vahn to feel a mixture of warmth, happiness, and love for both of the awe-inspiring beauties…

For many people, this was their first time seeing Hephaestus and Eina in their dresses and it was such an impact that even the musicians had stalled for several seconds as the girls followed behind the adorable Fenrir, Tina, and Shizune who were garbed in pure white dainty dresses. Fenrir had an awkward smile on her face with glowing scarlet eyes, but she still looked very cute as she led the way holding a black orb that Vahn didn’t recognize. Tina and Shizune were both carrying a dove gingerly in their hands, one for each bride, and they followed Fenrir with bashful smiles on their somewhat flushed faces.

Vahn had an urge to laugh at the girls but managed to keep his composure and stand tall as the procession made its way toward him. The music had started up again after their brief pause and everything was proceeding smoothly. Vahn couldn’t fault the group because even he, who had some mental preparations as the designer of the dresses, had stalled when he saw them appear. He watched the two inordinately beautiful women approach them with happy smiles on their face and it felt like he might float away as a result of how happy he felt at the moment. Hephaestus was escorted by Tsubaki, who was wearing a beautiful kimono, while Eina was escorted by her father, Thomas.

When she approached, Fenrir did her best to smile properly as she presented the orb to Vahn and said, “Here, Vahn, you will need this~!” Vahn nodded his head and accepted the orb as Fenrir released a relieved sigh and muttered, “Fenrir didn’t scratch it…” before standing off to the side where there was a small blue dot on the ground designating her spot. Tina and Shizune smiled at Vahn before taking their positions at each flank as they held the large white doves in their hands that were surprisingly well behaved.

As they hadn’t been far behind the three girls, Hephaestus and Eina stepped onto the stage with their accompaniment, Tsubaki and Thomas, who both bowed politely before ‘passing’ the two girls into Vahn’s hands. Vahn had accepted Hephaestus’s right hand with his left and Eina’s left with his right as the two girls stood at both sides of him facing toward Hestia. He hadn’t felt nervous previously, but now Vahn’s heart was beating madly because of the synergy he had with Hephaestus. The moment he made contact with the two girls, he could feel their emotions streaming into him and they created a feedback loop that compounded on everything they were each feeling. Even Hephaestus and Eina showed mild blushes on their faces that were covered with a light layer of makeup.

Hestia’s face was beaming as she said in a chipper tone, “Welcome, fellow gods, goddesses, family, and friends, to the wedding between Vahn Mason, Hephaestus, and Eina Tulle. It is my honor as presiding goddess to bless these three in holy matrimony before such a prestigious congregation. May fate smile upon these three for all days to come hereafter and, should tragedy befall them, may they face their trials together with the resolve to overcome all difficulties. Though it is often difficult to face adversity alone, things become much easier when confronted by those that share powerful bonds of love between them…”

Being the center of attention was something that Hestia adored and she spoke each of her words clearly and with emotion that affected the entire congregation. As the focus of her words, Vahn, Hephaest, and Eina all had serious expressions on their faces as they each smiled toward her. Realizing she was getting a bit carried away, Hestia began to blush a little and drew her opening remarks to a close as she dripped a drop of her own blood into the hearth and set it ablaze. The flame burned a vibrant golden color before Hestia nodded her head and said, “The groom has the right to address his brides before conducting the ceremony…is there anything you would like to say before you officially become Husband and Wives?”

Vahn took a deep breath before looking between Hephaestus and Eina, who both had beautiful smiles on their rosy faces as they looked at Vahn with gazes filled with love. With a firm nod, Vahn stepped back slightly so he could address both girls at the same time and said, “I honestly have no words to describe how blessed I feel right now…but I will do my best to show you a fraction of what I’m feeling with what few I can manage. Hephaestus…Eina…no matter how many days pass from here on, I will never be able to repay what you have done for me…therefore, I ask that you allow me to spend the rest of my life doing so. I love both of you so much…I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I hadn’t had the fortune of meeting you…” Though he had tried to keep his composure, Vahn felt tears begin to well up in his eyes and it was becoming increasingly difficult to speak. Both girls had made so many sacrifices for him and, even though he knew they didn’t want any form of repayment, Vahn felt like he wanted to do everything he could to make them happy…

Hephaestus’ expression also began to break somewhat and her eyes became moist as a healthy blush spread through her cheeks. Vahn talked about feeling indebted to her, but she felt like she could spend all of her wealth and never repay a fraction of what she had received from him. It was a little unfair that he got to speak first because there was so much she wanted to say that paralleled his words. Just the fact that he had healed her eye was more than she could have ever hoped for but, against all expectations, she now carried his child and had the opportunity to experience the various miracles he created. He had pulled her away from what should have been an eternity of loneliness even though they had only known each other for a short five months…

Eina was surprisingly composed compared to the two, as she wasn’t influenced by the power of the bond they shared with each other. Her expression had softened a great deal hearing Vahn’s words but, other than a powerful urge to hug and comfort him, she wasn’t that overwhelmed. Eina simply cared about Vahn’s well being, though those feelings had evolved into love over time, so she almost felt like a big sister watching her little brother get married, even though she was one of the brides holding his hand. She truly felt blessed to be able to experience a moment like this and knew that Vahn would create a brighter future for all of them. And, whenever he was tired from his exploits, she would always be waiting for his return to bring him even the smallest bit of comfort to warm his tired heart…

Tilting his head back slightly to keep tears from falling, Vahn took several breaths to try and calm down. He could use [Will of the Emperor] to forcibly calm down, but Vahn wanted to experience every part of this moment himself, without the influence of skills and abilities. He could see the love and care in the eyes of his two beautiful brides and it gave him the confidence to continue as he said, “From now on, let’s find our happiness together…I believe we can overcome as long as our bonds are strong enough.” Hephaestus squeezed Vahn’s hand tightly as she muttered, “Let’s be happy together…forever…” Eina giggled slightly at Hephaestus’ words before saying, “I’m not sure I can manage forever, but I can promise the rest of my life…”

At this point, the atmosphere had become a little awkward because many of the girls in the crowd also had eager looks on their face and it was very obvious for many of the other guests present that this wasn’t a simple ceremony between three people anymore. Even Hestia, who was supposed to be presiding over things and guiding them forward had a slightly flushed face as she said, “O-okay…Ano, ah, yes!” After collecting herself a bit, Hestia smiled sheepishly and continued, “Though you entered here today as individuals you will leave together as Husband and Wives, perpetually bound by the union you have agreed upon. To consecrate your union, each of you must insert a drop of your blood into this hearth before swearing a vow to sanctify your marriage…”

Since the girls were holding bouquets in their other hands, Vahn had to use a small needle to prick both of their fingers before using the same needle on himself. Together, they all placed their hand over the hearth and let a drop of blood fall from their fingers and into the wispy golden flames below. The flames became much more lively with the inclusion of the new blood before golden particles arose from the hearth and entered their bodies.

Vahn, as the groom, took the initiative to say, “I, Vahn Mason, hereby swear a vow to uphold my responsibilities as Husband to both Hephaestus and Eina…” Following his words, Hephaestus said, “I, Hephaestus, Goddess of Forging, hereby swear a vow to uphold my responsibilities as a Wife to Vahn Mason…” Lastly, Eina smiled and said, “I, Eina Tulle, hereby swear a vow to uphold my responsibilities as a Wife to Vahn Mason…” With their vows finished, several more wisps of gold emerged from the hearth and entered the bodies of Vahn, Hephaestus, and Eina before the flame began to dim and return to normal.

Hestia smiled widely and declared, “Henceforth, may your paths never diverge and may you always find happiness and comfort with each other regardless of the passage of time. By my status as a Goddess, I, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, hereby declare Vahn Mason, Hephaestus, and Eina Tulle as Husband, Wife, and Wife. You may kiss your brides~!” Vahn had taken a deep breath as Hestia spoke and immediately kissed Hephaestus for a short while before turning to Eina and doing the same. To make up for having her ‘wait’, Vahn kissed Eina for a little while longer before pulling away and embracing both women in his arms.

Everyone in the crowd clapped happily and celebrated in their own ways as they allowed themselves to get caught up in the momentum of things. However, before the celebrations could officially begin, Hephaestus stepped away from Vahn with a smile on her face as she turned toward everyone before turning her gaze to Ouranos and saying, “Before all those gathered here today, I, Hephaestus, would like to take an ‘Eternal Vow’ toward my husband, Vahn Mason, with Ouranos, God of the Sky, as my witness…” Though it was already known by several people, as she had announced her intent during the Denatus, Hephaestus’ words still caused a stir in the crowd as Ouranos rose to his feet and said in a low tone that caused all other conversations to come to an end, “Very well…I, Ouranos, stand witness to your vow…”

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Hephaestus nodded her head before turning to Vahn and asking with a smile, “Where is the orb?” Vahn gulped as he took the orb out of his inventory and held it out for Hephaestus but she didn’t take it into her hands and instead placed her palm above it and said, “On my soul, I, Hephaestus, swear an Eternal Vow to uphold my fidelity and never again know a man other than Vahn Mason…” Since he already knew about her vow, Vahn didn’t say anything to stop her but added in his mind, (“I can’t promise to never be with another woman, but I swear I will not leave you to spend an eternity alone…even if I one day leave this world, I will always return to you, Hephaestus…”)

When Hephaestus’ words came to an end powerful golden energy flowed from her hands and infused itself into the orb before the entire thing turned into particles and retreated back into her body. The orb was a powerful artifact called a ‘Soul Orb’ that could even fuse with the soul of a god if they made a vow using it as a medium. From now, until Hephaestus’ soul ceased to exist, she would always be bound by her Eternal Vow lest she face the destruction of her soul if she failed to uphold the condition of her vow. Since she had made the vow without any other terms, it was nearly impossible for her to exploit any loopholes so she would carry her promise with her for all of eternity, even if it took billions of years for her to fade out of existence.

Though she had just made a serious vow, Hephaestus showed a happy smile on her face as she moved forward and embraced Vahn tightly as she kissed him. Her actions triggered the official celebration as Ouranos nodded his head and even began to clap, setting off a chain reaction that affected the entire congregation. Eina felt somewhat ‘overshadowed’ by Hephaestus’ actions but showed a happy smile on her face as she walked forward and accepted Vahn’s kiss when Hephaestus released him. Tina and Shizune used this as an opportunity to release the doves in their hands and everyone released a happy cheer as the birds flew towards the horizon…

There wasn’t a tradition of cutting a wedding cake, but the celebration after the ceremony did include a banquet where the groom tended to the male guests while the brides were received by the other women. Vahn ended up at a table with Ouranos, Hermes, Takemikazuchi, Miach, Welf, Ouka, Finn, Gareth, and Bete. Since it was a celebration, Vahn had set out a cask of [Dwarven Drought] which was inarguably the best liquor many people had tasted. Because it was also somewhat ‘dangerous’, many people mixed it with water to dilute it so they wouldn’t get drunk after a single glass. Of course, this didn’t stop some people from getting drunk quickly…

Welf tossed back a glass of diluted drought as Gareth laughed loudly and egged him on in a boisterous tone while patting the collapsed Bete’s back. After finishing the contents of his glass, Welf released a loud ‘Paaaa~!’ before laughing loudly and saying, “You really did it, Vahn~! Ahahahaha!” Ever since the ceremony had started, Welf had been somewhat nervous and a little melancholic. Hephaestus had been his aspiration for many years and it was still somewhat difficult to see her marry someone else, much less take an Eternal Vow after the fact. Though he knew there was no chance he would be with her, seeing her make the vow had been a big impact to him. Fortunately, he quickly made friends with Gareth and Vahn provided delicious liquor free of charge.

Vahn laughed awkwardly at Welf’s outburst yet again before dodging another question from Hermes who had been probing him for details about the girls at the Manor. Hermes had a slightly flushed face, even though Vahn could tell from his aura he wasn’t actually drunk, as he asked, “So, do you think I have a chance with any of the girls in the Hestia Familia~? I think our Familias could become powerful allies in the future if we, hic, work together more often. You know, hic, there are a number of beautiful girls in my Familia as well, ahahahaha, hic, hahaaaa” Vahn had no doubt Hermes likely had several beautiful girls around him, especially with how handsome he was, but Vahn had just gotten married and it was somewhat annoying to hear the god pestering him about other women.

As if he had also grown tired of Hermes’ outbursts, Ouranos’ voice rumbled as he said, “Hermes, cease your nonsense. Show some propriety befitting your status as a god…” Hearing the reprimand of the senior god, Hermes placed his hands together apologetically and said, “Sorry, sorry, I just can’t help myself when it comes to beautiful women~. I still think we can work together in the future, however, so please don’t be offended. The next time I stop by, I’ll introduce you to some cute…girls…” As he was speaking, Hermes set his head down on the table like he was suddenly very sleepy and, to Vahn’s surprise, actually fell asleep.

Vahn squinted his eyes slightly and he became more cautious against Hermes and decided he would consult Loki and Hephaestus later to see if there was actually any good reason to work together with the somewhat sly god. The fact that he arrived with Ouranos showed he had some status and, from what Vahn could recall from the manga, his Familia was actually quite powerful as well. The only problem was, Vahn felt like Hermes wasn’t the type that could be trusted easily unless he was constrained by a vow like Loki and Freya. Since he didn’t seem like the type to accept such restraints, it would probably be difficult to have any lasting cooperation with the ‘whimsical’ god.

The banquet came to an end without any major hiccups, mainly because Bete had passed out early on after trying to drink the [Dwarven Drough] undiluted. Welf had fallen asleep after a bout of drinking with Gareth and, likely due to the fact he knew he was offending Vahn, Hermes also ‘forced’ himself to sleep somehow. Vahn spent the rest of the banquet talking with Finn about their upcoming expeditions and even knocked a few glasses with Ouka, though the somewhat serious young man still seemed to hold a grudge with Vahn. Take’ and Miach also contributed to the conversation, but they seemed to get along better with each other than anyone else at the table.

After each group of guests left, with Vahn escorting them to the gate, he returned to the Manor with a giddy feeling spreading through his stomach. Because of tradition, Hephaestus and Eina had been whisked away by the other girls as they feasted inside the Manor, away from the men. The banquet had officially come to an end when Syr came back outside and informed Vahn that the ‘preparations’ were ready so he had to finish his job as a host and have everyone that didn’t live in the Manor leave. Many of them had temporary residences or lived nearby so it wasn’t a major issue that some of their members had passed out. Since the Amazons hadn’t accompanied him to the wedding, Welf ended up being carried on Gareth’s shoulder which caused Loki to have a laughing fit because he was also carrying the red-faced Bete…

When Vahn entered the Manor, he noticed that everything was almost eerily quiet and he could detect that, other than two presences on the third floor, everyone else was gathered together in the dining room. Vahn was somewhat curious about what they were up to but he knew that his ‘duty’ lay elsewhere so he made his way up the staircase while skipping a few steps. He had been tempted to use [Shundo] to jump straight to the stairs landing, but he didn’t want to seem desperate. Vahn couldn’t deny he was very excited, but he didn’t want to embarrass himself by acting too uncouth. This didn’t stop him from moving fast enough to reach the outside of his own room in less than thirty seconds, however…

For a brief moment, Vahn nearly knocked on his own door before realizing how ridiculous that would have been and instead turned the handle and stepped into the interior where the sound dampening barrier was already active. Though they were originally supposed to take off the dresses during their ‘preparation’, Vahn had told them they had a special function when he had given them to the two girls in the past. After they washed their bodies free of all the makeup, they wore the dresses once again before awaiting Vahn in ‘their’ bedchamber. The final part of a traditional wedding in Eden had the girls receive their husband in the bedchamber after the wedding and it was quite the sight to see the contrasting red and dark blue of Hephaestus’ and Eina sitting on the bed with their dresses spread out like a fan as they both stared at him with flushed faces.

Vahn could feel his heart pounding in his chest as he took a step forward before snapping around and locking the door behind him in a hurry. Unless there was an emergency, this was a night dedicated to his two wives and he didn’t want any interruptions at all. Though he couldn’t hear them, Vahn saw Hephaestus and Eina laugh as he walked closer to them with a confident gait as his chest swelled up with pride at how beautiful the two girls were. He heard their laughter as he approached before Hephaestus asked, “So, what ‘secret’ do these dresses hold that you even wanted us to wear them on our wedding night~?” Because she had been curious about it, Hephaestus had studied the dress in detail but was unable to discern what special functions Vahn had designed without taking it apart.

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With a smile on his face, Vahn gestured to Hephaestus and Eina and said, “Stand up, I’ll show you…” Hephaestus nodded before arranging her dress and climbing out of the bed, taking special care not to damage it in the process. Eina, however, had started to become increasingly red as time passed and Vahn could tell her aura was flickering like a flame. She may have made her resolve in the past, even to the point that they were now wed, but taking the final leap and losing her virginity was somewhat scary. Of course, this didn’t stop her from climbing out of the bed as well, even though she was somewhat mechanical in her movements.

Vahn smiled at the two girls when they stood in front of him before tracing his index fingers along a series of gemstones adorning their hips. The moment he pressed the correct combination, both of their gowns freed themselves from the bodice of their dresses and they were suddenly standing in what looked like a corset with their stockings, garter belts, and panties on full display. Hephaestus’s eyes widened slightly as an amorous smile blossomed on her face but Eina became beet red in an instant and covered her body with her hands even though Vahn had seen her naked several times…

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