Chapter 524: Regulations

When Vahn arrived back at the Clubhouse, he found Gareth and Welf having an eating competition while it seemed that Finn had started cooking more food. There were still several kilograms of dragon steak cutlets present, but having other food as an accompaniment was always helpful. Vahn was also hungry, so he sat down and grabbed a pair of chopsticks for himself, saying plainly, “Bete and I got into a bit of a scuffle outside. He headed toward the Twilight Manor afterward, but he picked up the network supplies on his way…” Gareth took a swig from his mug, which was filled with a strange green liquor, before wiping his beard and saying, “That boy has his fair share of problems, so don’t take it too personally, Vahn.”

Vahn placed a piece of meat on the griddle and let it cook until it was crispy while saying, “Yeah, I can tell Bete isn’t a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean I can just keep acting passively around him. As long as he continues behaving like that, I don’t mind teaching him a lesson until he corrects his attitude. However, I won’t hold any grudges against him and I’ll try to help him out when I can…as long as he doesn’t hurt those close to me.” Gareth nodded his head while Welf continued chewing on several strips of meat with a confused expression on his face.

Finn came out of the kitchen with a platter full of greens, including the stir fry Vahn had made earlier. It was the type of plate that could transfer heat to keep the vegetables warm so Finn sat it on the hot plate before sitting down and saying, “This little Clubhouse is rather interesting, Vahn. What kind of things do you plan to do here in the future?” Vahn swirled around the contents of his cup as he thought about his answer before saying, “Well, I’d like this place to be a safe haven of sorts for everyone on my private network, but I understand its somewhat inconvenient for everyone to gather here. I’ll probably be conducting some of my private research here in the future, but I wouldn’t mind just hanging out, eating good food, drinking strong liquor, and maybe playing card and dice games.”

Finn nodded his head in understanding before showing a thoughtful expression as he said, “You could perhaps consider staffing this building to maintain it in the future. Though it might be a Clubhouse where people can relax, it wouldn’t always be easy to take care of the needs of everyone all on your own…” Gareth seemed to agree with Finn as he also said, “Yeah, though you’d have to be a bit selective about who you choose, it would probably be a good idea to get a few women in here to make things more lively. There is a stage, so we can probably get some minstrels or songstresses in here to add to the atmosphere. You can treat it as a private gathering spot for your allies, but having just men all gathered together would get a bit tedious after a while.”

Vahn thought about it and could easily imagine staff walking around and serving drinks to the people gathered, potentially even becoming a source of income for the future. However, Vahn didn’t want to compete against the Hostess of Fertility for ‘business’, so it would probably be better to simply make everything free and charge something like a ‘membership fee’ instead. As long as he regulated what came in and out, it shouldn’t be that much of an expenditure on his part and the amount of OP he earned was more than enough to run a small pub without denting his reserves.

After considering the matter seriously, Vahn nodded his head and said, “I think it’s a good idea, but we’ll have to make a few regulations that will have to be followed. First of all, if we’re going to hire girls to work here we have to make sure they are treated well and aren’t taken advantage of. I also want to strictly regulate things like relationships between the staff and clientele since the people that will enter here would usually be somewhat ‘high profile’. A lot of girls would jump at the opportunity of having an ‘out’ to escape from a rough life, so it would be better to nip it in the bud from the start.” Vahn knew that any girls they hired would undoubtedly try to win the heart of any of the guys he invited here as guests, including himself. Though he wanted this to be a place everyone could relax, he didn’t plan to turn it into an establishment that offered those kinds of services.

Other than Welf, who was a bit ‘off’ when it came to such subjects, Gareth and Finn though Vahn’s approach was correct since, as he said previously, many of the people entering here would be the executives of various Familia and people closely associated with the heart of the Alliance. They would need to vet the potential staff properly, likely hiring married women with children or those that have strong sensibilities. Though they would have to take vows and sign a contract, the pay would more than make up for their troubles and it should prevent anything from happening, at least for a time. There was always a chance that a member would fall for one of the staff, which would also be regulated, but there would be prohibitions preventing them from pressuring the staff or trying to take advantage of them.

While they were talking about various rules and regulations that would potentially suit the Clubhouse, Vahn detected the arrival of another presence outside so he took his leave to meet with Ouka, who showed up wearing his typical Adventurer attire instead of casual clothing. He had his characteristic seriousness, but Vahn could see softness in his expression that hadn’t been there previously. After considering the reasons, Vahn smiled and asked, “How have things been going with Chigusa?” Ouka averted his eyes slightly and said, “We have grown closer…I now know what it means to desire strength to protect those close to me. Thank you, Vahn, for knocking some sense into me and helping to open my eyes.” Unexpectedly, Ouka bowed at a deep angle and seemed to display sincere gratitude that made Vahn feel a little awkward for teasing him.

After their previous ‘spar’, Chigusa had helped to nurse Ouka and tended to his wounds by applying ointment and bandages. When he had awakened, Ouka had felt anguish, anger, and self-ridicule all at the same time until Chigusa had literally slapped him back to awareness. Though they had always had a mutual affection for each other, neither had ever broached the topic previously until Chigusa used that opportunity to ‘confess’ to him. Ouka felt somewhat ‘pathetic’ being comforted by her at the time, but she had persisted every day while also putting a lot more effort into her training. Because he hadn’t been able to train on his own, Ouka had been watching her for several days and, when he asked why she was working so hard, her reason had simply been to ‘protect’ the person she loved.

Ouka felt even more pathetic since he also held deep affections for Chigusa and yet was wallowing in self-pity and ridicule while she did her best to become stronger. Deciding he didn’t want to be weaker than the girl he liked, Ouka reaffirmed his resolve to get stronger and eventually mustered up the courage to return Chigusa’s confession. They hadn’t done anything ‘intimate’ yet, but they had shared affections and had gone on two dates so far. Chigusa had actually tried to take things to the next level, which was a bit unexpected considering her nature, but Ouka had backed down at the last moment. He didn’t believe he was mature enough yet and wanted to increase his own strength to obtain Level 3 before they advanced their relationship…

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Vahn walked forward and helped Ouka rise, as was the polite thing to do when both accepting sincerity and showing that you treated the person as a friend, before inviting Ouka inside. Because the Takemikazuchi Familia had always been somewhat ‘poor’, Ouka had never been given the opportunity to eat Dragon Steak so Vahn got to see the strange sight of the rather large youth devouring slices of meat, even to the point where he locked chopsticks with Welf when they both grabbed from the same plate. This was a distinct difference compared to how he had initially behaved, as he had been somewhat deferential and even bowed to both Finn and Gareth, neither of which showed any real concern for his polite behavior. Gareth had even poured him a mug of alcohol, something that would have never occurred in the Far East where the younger generation was supposed to respect and honor their elders. He accepted the mug after a bit of hesitation and that had also been around the same time that he started to loosen up.

Since Raul and Cruz had actually been busy, everyone that was expected to show up was already present so Vahn went over the details and regulations once again as they all discussed ideas to make the Clubhouse more interesting. Welf had come up with an idea to make a hot tub area, or even create private booths, but Vahn denied the later idea. He didn’t think a hot tub was too bad an idea but said that it couldn’t be used as an opportunity to try and get closer to the waitresses.

Vahn believed they needed strict regulations, as strong Adventurers and influential people could actually act very uninhibitedly when they got drunk. This was one of the ‘faults’ of being power as, even if you weren’t a bad person by nature, your own strength could get to your head when you got drunk. By avoiding having something like ‘private booths’, after all, this was meant to be a place where they openly socialized, people would be less inclined to try and get away with taking advantages from the staff.

Once again, Welf was the only one that seemed to disagree with the idea, effectively proving Vahn’s point because the youth was already a little drunk. He already had four Amazons ‘taking care’ of him, but that didn’t mean Welf wasn’t interested in other women. Combine beautiful girls with alcohol and a bit of power and authority and the fifteen-year-old youth would probably embarrass himself greatly. Vahn managed to get him to drop the subject when he asked Welf to discuss the matter with Sonia, immediately bringing the boy to silence as a concerned look appeared on his face. If the girls even remotely developed the idea he wasn’t ‘satisfied’ with them, Welf probably wouldn’t be able to move his body for a week after they were done with him…

By the end of their discussion, which included a fair amount of drinking and enough food to feed a small Familia, it was decided they would hire up to ten staff, build a secondary platform for a hot tub, and add things like darts, cards, pool, and dice to the available forms of entertainment. They were also going to reach out to an entertainment Familia that specialized in music, dance, performance art, and singing so that they could liven up the atmosphere. Vahn also made it so that every ‘core’ member would be able to invite up to two people into the Clubhouse as trial members, but they could only stay if enough core members supported them. This would both increase the number of people coming to the Clubhouse while also regulating how many people would end up visiting at the same time. Vahn wanted everyone to be a close-knit group, so allowing people to bring in large groups of people would cause them to only interact with their pre-existing circle of friends instead of getting to know others.

Since he could easily buy most of the stuff from his shop, Vahn stocked the Clubhouse with most of the recommended items, including the hot tub even though the platform for it didn’t exist just yet. It was big enough to hold ten people comfortably and was on the far side away from the kitchen and bar. To prevent people from consolidating trash and bottles around the area, the only way to obtain food and drink from the hot tub was to order it and have it delivered. The only way to get new items was to complete what you already had because Vahn wanted to avoid food waste and having partially empty bottles laying around. After all, everything within the Clubhouse was intended to be free, but that didn’t mean he wanted people to waste what they ordered.

There were also restrictions on taking things out and it could only be meals you had eaten more than half of while you could accumulate a ‘tab’ for drinks that you wanted to take out. Once it reached a certain amount, you would be prevented from taking any further drinks away and, if it was discovered you were selling them on the market, you would earn yourself a permanant ban from the Clubhouse itself. Since Vahn would be offering a variety of rare and exotic foods and drinks, he wanted to avoid the situation where people were trying to use their association with the Clubhouse to turn a profit. Though he wouldn’t restrict things like business deals and such, it didn’t mean he would personally facilitate the dealings using his own goods.

The only exceptions to the rules would be for Vahn himself, as he was the one providing the goods in the first place. Even Gareth wouldn’t be able to take more than he was ‘allowed’, not that he seemed intent on causing trouble in the first place. He knew better than anyone how messed up such an establishment could get if there weren’t proper regulations because he was born in the Iron Hills to an influential family. Many large families had their own breweries, pubs, inns, and private establishments. Unlike Vahn’s, however, their’s were hotbeds for corruption and many influential families used their business to swindle others and try to accumulate even greater wealth for themselves. It was all a big clusterfuck of people trying to take advantage of each other while treating other races like patsies and slaves. Gareth had hated that kind of environment so, when he was strong enough to pass through the Iron Hills on foot, he left behind his homeland to find a less ‘corrupt’ environment.

Around seven o’clock in the evening, Vahn figured it was about time for him to head back so he cleaned up a large amount of the dishes before parting ways with everyone. Since it was an ‘open’ establishment for all the members, they could stay as long as they wanted and Vahn left the bar open for the time being. Until their hired the staff and had someone to do the inventory properly, there was no sense in following the regulations just yet. Before he left, he gave the network materials for Raul and Cruz to Finn and also included some extra sets if they had any suitable people in mind to be future members on the network. He also gave another set to Ouka so that he could pass it on to Take’ and ‘gifted’ him a B-Rank item called [Power Band] that would give him a slight boost to his Power and Endurance.

After leaving the Clubhouse, Vahn looked into the dimming night sky before turning his attention to his surroundings and sweeping over them in detail. Not knowing when the enemy would attack was a very annoying experience so Vahn was considering ways to detect them in the future. Since they were able to set up a large formation within the Alliance’s territory, Vahn didn’t see why he couldn’t do it himself. He had been able to make things like earthen spikes in the past, so doing a bit of earth manipulation shouldn’t be too difficult if he practiced and studied with Terra. He already had a network of tunnels being constructed under the Hearth Manor, with corridors connecting to the five surrounding Manors, so Vahn didn’t think it would be a bad idea to expand it further in the future.

Only allowed on

Thinking of underground structures, Vahn began to wonder about the artificial labyrinth once again and wondered if he should pay a visit to Daedelus Street in the near future. He had been wanting to go to Maria’s Orphanage to check up on things, so that would be a good excuse if he needed one. There was also the matter of walking around near Hephaestus’s workshop to see if he could find the street orphans he had previously met as he was quite curious about if they had changed or not. It had been nearly three months since he had seen them so, if they were still working hard to overcome their situation, Vahn didn’t mind extending them a helping hand. The Miach, Takemikazuchi, and Anubis Familias could always use new members, even though the later didn’t seem intent on obtaining any.

Anubis’ only goal at present was to help raise the hounds to adulthood before finally abolishing her Familia and becoming his permanant ‘servant’. At this point, all of the boys had found girls they liked while Nanu, the current captain, wanted to join the Hestia Familia at the earliest possible moment. Even Chione and Maat had finally found their own potential mates after realizing they didn’t have great prospects trying to follow Vahn. He had been worried about Maat, since she seemed to want to become his ‘servant’, but she seemed to have come to her senses on the matter after having a long period of time to consider the matter while also interacting with other people. While Vahn was definitely the best candidate for her ‘mate’, she was also quite a bit ‘beneath’ him and couldn’t even compare to Nanu.

As a result of these developments, the Anubis Familia would likely disappear entirely within the next 2-3 years and the Manor would essentially become a private residence that would occasionally be used by Anubis. Of course, there was also a chance it would be repurposed by the Freya Familia, which was already being discussed, but that was a matter for the future and not something that needed to be taken into consideration right now. Anubis was allowed to make her own decisions and Vahn had already accepted her life-long vow of servitude. She had even been happy after finding out that Vahn would potentially live for thousands of years, so Vahn couldn’t really say much to dissuade her from abolishing her Familia since it was what she genuinely wanted to do…

Along the way, as he had been walking rather slowly, Vahn quickly browsed through the Status Logbook to see what everyone was up to before pulling out his own communication scroll and informing the girls within the Manor that he would be staying out for the evening. Thinking about all the things that Anubis had ‘sacrificed’ for him made Vahn feel like pampering her for a bit and he had never spent the night within the private room she had constructed for him inside the pyramid. She had shown it to him in the past and it was lavishly designed to even include a throne and several ‘tools’ that she was interested in using. Vahn knew that Anubis had a preference for being dominated and he wanted to make her happier in the future, even though it would take a bit of practice to warm up to more intense ‘plays’.

After confirming that the message had gone through, Vahn disappeared from the City streets using [Shundo] and quickly made his way to the Anubis Familia residence, simply called the Southern Manor. The last time he was there, Vahn had taken an interest in the various unique outfits that she had on display within the room, including the one he had seen from the past that was rather revealing and had the ribbon tied around her butt. Vahn had always regretting not taking full advantage of the situation at that time but there was nothing like the present to make past regrets fade away…

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