Chapter 501: Pandering

After promising to meet with Loki in the coming days, as she was busy managing matters with her Familia after the expedition, Vahn mounted Fafnir along with Riveria, Ais, Tiona, Tione, Lefiya, and Fenrir. Tiona had wanted to ride Terra, but the elegant green dragon actually refused her, saying, “I would want my Master to be the first person to ride on my back. Please forgive me, Tiona.” This was one of the ‘troublesome’ things about having a dragon that could take human form from the beginning, as Vahn found it somewhat difficult to rationalize riding on Terra’s back since he had Fafnir with him. Since it spent the majority of its time stuck in the shadows, Vahn also felt ‘obligated’ to use it as a mount because Fafnir seemed to enjoy it greatly. He could always make it up to Terra by spending time with her in the Manor, after all, which was something that Fafnir couldn’t easily do since it’s size was currently fixed.

On the flight back to the Manor, Vahn found himself flanked by Tiona and Tione and it was very obvious they were more ‘excited’ than normal. With his increase in parameters, Vahn was relatively close to the two in strength and, until he ‘tamed’ their eager hearts, they likely wouldn’t be able to calm down any time soon. As he had already planned to spend the evening with the girls from the Hostess of Fertility, Vahn was currently considering if he should tend to the two beautiful brown-skinned girls sooner, rather than later. Being able to ‘defeat’ them in the bedroom should help them calm down a great deal since it would pacify their instincts and allow them to act calmly around him in the future, except of course when he ‘triggered’ them by doing something showy.

Once they reached the Manor, Tiona made the comment, “Wow, it feels like we’re just now returning home~!” in a cheerful voice as she leaped down from Fafnir’s back. The other girls seemed to share her sentiments and everyone appeared more lively as they happily made their way into the interior of the Manor to explore. Vahn had stayed back with Tione a bit and grabbed her arm as he ‘whispered’, “Tione, if you’re struggling so much…” Contrary to his expectations, Tione simply embraced him all of a sudden and said, “I’m fine, Vahn, just call on me when you’re ready. I know you must be busy after just returning to the surface, so just make time in the future for me and I’ll be happy. We can invite Tiona and Ais along and make it into a celebration about returning to the surface~.”

Vahn felt a bit of warmth spread through his chest with how thoughtful Tione was being as he embraced her in return and sealed her lips with an ‘unexpected’ kiss. He kept things brief since he wasn’t trying to make things even more difficult, but it still caused her to breathe a little heavier before she made her way toward the Manor. The only ‘people’ remaining outside were Vahn, Riveria, Lefiya, Fenrir, Terra, and Fafnir, so Vahn felt like it was time to face his fate as he turned to Riveria and bowed his head low, saying, “Riveria, please forgive me for forgetting my promise to allow you to observe the naming ceremony. I had been so eager to complete it that I hadn’t been thinking properly and have let you down…I will do better in the future.”

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Seeing Vahn’s somewhat ‘eager’ apology, Riveria released a sigh and cast a glance at the ‘grimacing’ Lefiya before saying, “Raise your head, Vahn. It is expected that people make mistakes, and you have a lot on your plate compared to most. The naming was just a matter I was curious about, and it isn’t as though it will be the last time you perform such a feat. However, I would like to be part of the next one so please keep that in mind.” Though she felt a small amount of resentment at having missed the opportunity, Riveria couldn’t imagine holding an actual grudge against Vahn for very long anymore. He worked very hard and had already started laying a foundation for the future, not just for herself and Lefiya, but for the entire Elven people. She had already decided to be with Vahn in the future, so it was difficult to rationalize staying angry at him when she knew it would actually ‘hurt’ him more than most people.

Hearing Riveria’s words, Vahn raised his head and smiled gratefully after seeing how stable and calm her aura was compared to the mild fluctuations that were present earlier. Since he suddenly found himself with more free time, as the matter with Tione had been pushed back temporarily, Vahn gestured to Terra and said, “Terra, please return to your humanoid form, and remember to wear your robe properly.” Vahn’s words caused Riveria to squint slightly as she turned her gaze to Terra and watched as the 14m long dragon became enshrouded in a vibrant green light that rapidly shrunk. By the time it reached 3m in diameter, the light ‘burst’ apart into wispy strands and there was suddenly a woman standing in a high-quality robe.

Seeing Terra’s appearance, Riveria understood what Ryuu meant when she compared her to a spirit as the ‘feeling’ she gave off was very similar. If she didn’t have wings on her back, something Riveria found fascinating, she would have been indiscernible from the majority of spirits that took on human form. There was vibrant energy radiating from her body that was filled with life and warmth and, under her bare feet, flowers bloomed as grass coiled about in an almost ‘playful’ manner. Riveria felt that, with her ability to create a ‘wellspring’ of life, Terra could have become an idol for the Elven people. It seemed that Vahn had a natural inclination to do things that would eventually unify the Elves with other cultures in the future, as he not only had Terra’s support, but also possessed a [Seed of the Tree of Life], could transform into a High Elf, and had already gained some insight into finding a solution to the issues concerning Elven infertility…

Lefiya had also noticed the peculiarities with Terra, but the thing she most took note of at the present was the fact that Terra was also one of Vahn’s ‘subordinates’. They had already introduced themselves earlier, but Lefiya still took the opportunity to bow politely and say, “We’ll be working together from now on, Terra. Lets both do our best for Master~!” Since she wouldn’t have been able to keep it from Riveria, Lefiya had already explained the change in ‘status’ between her and Vahn, though she didn’t go into too many details. What Lefiya had discussed was the fact that she had taken Vahn as her Master to learn magic, which was something Riveria had even encouraged her to do, so it wasn’t incorrect to address him as such.

Terra, however, understood the true context of Lefiya’s words because she could subtly feel a connection with the small Elven girl. Emulating the polite bow displayed by Lefiya, Terra returned the courtesy and said, “I look forward to working alongside you, Lefiya. I’m certain we can accomplish more working together rather than dividing our efforts.” Though the two girls smiled at each other, Riveria had a look of suspicion on her face as she looked between their unique interaction. She assumed there was likely more to things that weren’t currently made apparent, but decided to probe into them later as there was another matter that concerned her at the moment.

Asking a question that Vahn was also curious about, Riveria turned to Terra and asked, “Terra, how is it that you are able to speak so fluently and behave similarly to the surface races? I understand you were an intelligent monster within the Dungeon, but that doesn’t explain how you’re able to carry yourself in such a ‘proper’ manner…” Even now, Terra stood tall and had an almost noble disposition in the way that she carried herself. It was possible that it was simply ‘instinctual’ for her, but Riveria wanted to learn more about the matter.

Terra tilted her head slightly as a reminiscent look appeared in her eyes and she said, “I’m not sure exactly how long I lived, but I had once roamed about on the surface. One day, I had been seriously injured by another monster and a small child had discovered my body. Though she wasn’t very skilled, she happened to be the apprentice of her village’s physician and she helped treat my wounds. I never recovered completely, but I was able to survive with her assistance over the course of several long months. Though I couldn’t understand speech at the time, I felt indebted to the girl and she was always talking to me as she treated my wounds…”

Though it seemed like Terra didn’t mind going on even further, Rivera raised her hand and said, “I understand now, you learned how to interact with surface dwellers through your relationship with that girl. Since you aren’t certain of your own age, you likely tracked it by the age of the girl over the course of her life until you eventually separated. As I do not want to pry into your past, I will drop this matter here for the time being…thank you for sharing with me.” Riveria was very interested in Terr’s life, but she didn’t want to hear her narrate the entire thing while they were standing out in the courtyard. She would leave it to Vahn to ‘discover’ the elements about her past as Riveria was truly more interested in the ‘future’ right now.

Terra smiled and bowed slightly to Riveria without continuing further, as it was something she struggled narrating as well. She didn’t remember everything from her previous life, though her memories had slowly started to come back to her, but she did remember the little girl that slowly became a woman and eventually even had a family of her own. However, the most prominent memory in her mind was going to the aide of the girl’s family in her time of need before she was eventually killed by a horde of monsters.

Because there were so many enemies, the girl and her family died long before she fell and it was their deaths that eventually caused her to give up her own struggle. She might have been able to fly away if she was in her peak condition, but the injury she had sustained in the past had been to her wing and she was no longer capable of flight at the time. The only thing she remembered after that was waking up within the Dungeon and longing for the blue sky once again. Strangely, it had been one of the things she couldn’t recall directly and it was almost ‘heartbreaking’ not being able to remember it…

As a result of her struggles in her previous life, Terra had grown ‘tired’ of combat and she lamented her new life where she was constantly attacked by Adventurers that sought her treasure. Even when she tried to reason with them, they often just came back with a larger group and there would almost always be a fight. If not for her desire to return to the surface, and her instinctual desire to protect the Treasure Tree, Terra would have given up on life because she truly disliked fighting. When Vahn offered to make both of her desires a reality, Terra didn’t truly believe him because it was difficult to trust humans. However, she could see the honesty contained within his eyes and it reminded her of past memories long forgotten. This was the reason why she decided to place her trust in him at the time and it seemed now that her fortunes had been favorable.

After the brief conversation took place, the four went into the Manor as Fafnir plopped down in the same spot as the previous day and laid down on the ground to sunbathe once again. It opened his massive maw to ‘yawn’ as a rumbling growl escaped its throat and a sleepy look appeared in its eyes.

It was happy to be able to stay on the surface now, but things seemed somewhat boring except when it was flying around with Vahn and having fun. Even flying in sky around the territory of the Alliance wasn’t really that interesting so it spent the majority of its time sleeping as it released an intimidating aura at anyone, or anything, that might come near the Manor. There were several people that passed by the outer walls that would find themselves spook as the stopped and looked over the top of the walls with thoughtful expressions. They didn’t actually plan to break in, they were simply curious what kind of place the ‘famous’ Hearth Manor really was. Unfortunately, they curiosity earned them a lingering feeling of dread if they stayed too long because Fafnir would bear its aura down on anyone that overstayed their welcome without going through the front gate.

Since it was nice and sunny outside, Terra went into the illusory forest and made her way to the secret garden to continue nourishing the plants in the area while expanding her territory even further. It would require constant effort on her behalf to expand her dominion and Terra knew it was her ‘duty’ to make sure she did her best in guarding to Manor in exchange for a relatively peaceful lifestyle. It was very similar to her duty guarding the Treasure Tree, but Terra didn’t mind at all since there was a beautiful sky overhead and she had a lot of freedom to move about as long as she informed people what she was doing. She also had a kind Master and there were many girls that treated her nicely, especially Ryuu, Haruhime, Maemi, and Emiru. It was much better to be surrounded by friendly people that it was to be ‘trapped’ in the lonely Dungeon where she would periodically be forced to fight for her life.

As for Vahn, Riveria, and Lefiya, they made their way towards the Library while Fenrir ran off to explore the Manor with the other girls. Now that they were back at the Manor, there were a few things they needed to properly catalog and discuss regarding their future research and Vahn also wanted to pander to Riveria as an apology for forgetting his promise. She seemed to realize this as well and took the opportunity to question Vahn about some of the things she had been curious about, including the evolution of his magical abilities and the ‘specifics’ of his sensory capabilities. Though he couldn’t explain everything to her, Vahn did he best to convey it in a manner that Riveria would understand and even broke down the existence of ‘magic particles’ and the structure of molecules for her, ‘revolutionary’ ideas that were somewhat hard to grasp.

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One of the things that was rather difficult to believe was Vahn’s explanation that mana itself had no elemental properties at all, at least in its basic structure. It wasn’t until mana was given a ‘purpose’, as a result of the influence of laws within the world, that it finally gained an ‘elemental charge’. This meant it was possible to transition one elemental energy into a completely different one, which was easily seen through the process of converting water elemental energy into ice. Though they were similar, they were actually fundamentally different when it came to the aspect of the energies contained within them. Fortunately, their affinities were very close to each other so it was much easier to transition water into ice, and vice versa, than it was to change water into fire.

This didn’t mean it was impossible, however, which Vahn painstakingly demonstrated at the cost of using nearly 70% of his entire energy to turn a marble-sized ball of water into a ball of flame. With his newfound mastery of water elemental energies, Vahn could use his perfect affinity with fire to perform such feats, effectively shocking both Riveria and Lefiya to the core. The biggest impact to them hadn’t been in that ‘small’ display though, as Vahn took things to an entirely different extent when he demonstrated that it was possible to create something from ‘nothing’ right before their eyes. Unlike the energy he used to ‘create’ things within his body, which made use of external energy, Vahn used his ‘Oblivion’ to created a sphere of iron roughly the size of a crystal ball that ‘grew’ right before the girls’ eyes.

Riveria had several difficult questions to ask after that, since she was interested in the ‘differences’ between Vahn ‘creation’ divinity and his ability to ‘create’ things from nothing. He could already materialize weapons, armor, clothing, and even food from thin air, so she wondered about why he stressed the significance of being able to make an orb of iron. It took a bit of effort, but Vahn essentially explained it at using a template, image, and desire to ‘form’ and item from his understanding and using his soul as a medium to essentially perform an ‘exchange’ with the world itself to produce items. The fundamental difference between creating an orb in the real world, and creating one through his ‘divinity’ was that one created something from ‘nothing’. If they had enough understanding of the process, both Riveria and Lefiya would be able to create things in the future, even without a ‘divinity’ of their own.

Though she suspected there was more to it than Vahn explained, Riveria felt like he was trying to be truthful to her so it was likely just his own difficulties in explaining the matter in a way she could understand. It made her feel slightly awkward so she didn’t press him too much after he drew out various diagrams for her in order to describe the process. She suddenly felt like a child being educated by her tutor again, which was both refreshing and strangely disconcerting at the same time. One of the reasons she had left her home was because she craved knowledge and wanted to experience the outside world for herself, so being able to learn so much from Vahn was a very fulfilling thing for her. However, his age made her a little self-conscious because it almost felt like she was being treated like a child by someone that was 83 years younger than she was…

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