By the time morning had come, Vahn had learned a number of things about the twins, including several parallels they shared with Cat People like Chloe, Arnya, Aki, and Milan. Vahn wasn’t sure if it was just their instinct, but the girls were fond of licking as a form of affection and Vahn ended up having the sides of his scalp and ears licked by their somewhat dry tongues. He had come to enjoy this type of ‘grooming’ behavior from the others, so having two more people on the roster was a satisfying discovery to make. One thing they differentiated greatly on, however, was the fact that their cooperation with each other was impeccable and it was a rather interesting experience for Vahn having them mirror each other’s movements near perfectly…
As usual, Vahn awoke and checked Eva’s orb to see if there were any changes before heading down to take a bath with the twins. Along the way he came across a sleepy Lunoire, so he gave her some head pats and had her join them to warm up her body for the coming day. She had actually been training much harder than he expected and there were several large pillars that had been punched into oblivion by her within the past week. According to her, though she wanted to live an easy and free life, she didn’t want to take advantage of everyone else’s efforts and had decided to become stronger. Vahn had learned about this when he had invited the girls from the Hostess of Fertility to his room for an ‘event’ and she had confided the information to him as they snuggled up together.
After helping wash the three girls’ bodies, they all went outside for their morning training while Vahn sat at the side meditating and observing everyone’s progress. He knew it was important to train his body so that he didn’t get rusty, but his combat style and capabilities were so drastically different than everyone else’s that, other than sparring, it was more productive for him to expand his mind and relax his body. With the amount of practice he had put into it, Vahn could enter a meditative state almost instantly now just by focusing on the imperceptible sounds of the [Mantra of Eternity]. If he completely deactivated his [Will of the Emperor], he could even replenish his source energy in around seventy minutes, which was rather monstrous considering the amount he had at his disposal now.
With the morning training coming to a conclusion, Vahn went to visit the Southern Manor for a little while to enjoy his walk with Anubis and Nanu. He usually spent about a half-hour with them, which was the case today as well, before making his way back, scouting the perimeter of the Manor along the way. Then, after determining there was nothing abnormal, Vahn headed to his workshop and immediately set to work on the prototype armor for the girls. So far, he had almost completely set up the arrangement of scales on the second layer and there were only a few minor adjustments that needed to be made before he covered it with the third, and final, layer.
As was rather common these days, Ais showed up in his workshop with Lefiya and the two sat over at a table Vahn had already prepared in the event of their arrival. Since the armor he was currently working on used Ais’s body as the template, she had been hanging around his workshop since they were currently on ‘vacation’ without entering the Dungeon. Just like his own, that would end by tomorrow, but it was never a bad thing to be spending time together, even if it was just silently chatting and drinking tea. Ais and Lefiya had grown a lot closer recently and the former smiled much more often than she did in the past after finally realizing how much Lefiya idolized her.
Previously, she had simply been concerned about Lefiya because the bashful Elf had often flustered about as a result of her delusions. Now, however, Lefiya had been able to explain things clearly as a result of the ‘confidence’ she had obtained from Vahn, so Ais treated her as a very close confidant and companion. Ais was very clearly not into lesbianism that much, but she was a very curious girl and there was a hint of bisexual tendencies within her. Because most of her experiences had been with other girls, especially the rather playful Tiona, Ais didn’t mind ‘playing’ around a bit and she was very observant of how other people reacted, much like Vahn.
Without minding them too much, Vahn continued using a thin needle-like blade to carve the connecting formation into the underside of the armor. He would then infuse hair-thin wires of Orichalcum, treated in a chemical solution to give them increased flexibility, into the channels he had carved before sewing over them with threads that had been made from the sinews of a wyvern. This was to prevent the Orichalcum wires from accidentally slipping out and breaking when the girls were moving about normally. As this was just a prototype, Vahn didn’t expect that it would last for too long, especially given Ais’s track record of exposing herself to danger, but it should greatly increase her ability to take hits for a while.
Ais’s offensive strength was monstrous to the extent that she could almost defeat any monster, even a Floor Boss, with a single well-timed strike. Her Lil Rifalga, when she was pushing her [Ariel] to the limits, could give her such speed that even Vahn was unable to even see the motion. The only thing he could see at first was two versions of Ais before a massive tempest tore through whatever had been unfortunate enough to earn her ire. It wasn’t a technique she could use that often, as it put a severe amount of strain on her body, but it was something that even Vahn couldn’t imagine actually evading, much less blocking. She was only Level 5 but Vahn knew that, if they were actually enemies and she used [Ariel] against him, he would likely end up losing as his body got shred into small pieces by her tempest-like attacks.
Though he knew she could go even faster, Vahn had seen Ais managed feats of closing 300m in around .02s which gave her an instantaneous acceleration of 15,000m/s or 54,000km/h. Even using his [Shundo], it took him longer than .02s to link the two points, as it required him to map out and have an understanding of the space between points A and B, Vahn wouldn’t even know he was dead before his soul was sent flying from his body. Fortunately, even against people she disliked, Ais didn’t use her [Ariel] against people because she wasn’t fond of killing. Though she might severely wound people, even to the point of dismembering them, she never dealt killing blows and typically used a much weaker version of her skill whenever she was in a pinch.
After nearly three hours of inlaying Orichalcum and sewing over it, Vahn had finished with the relatively simple top and needed to move onto the marginally more difficult pair of bottoms. He wanted to ensure that the armor was very comfortable, so there were several things he needed to consider, even down to the sewing pattern and the general layout of the fabrics that would be hugging the girls’ delicates. As there wasn’t enough time right now, however, Vahn instead looked to Ais and Lefiya, asking the former, “Ais, can you try this on for me? Other than the outer layer, everything else is finished.”
Ais had been watching Vahn working hard with a small smile on her face, periodically answering Lefiya questions and making small talk, so she had long prepared herself for his request. She saw when he had been inspecting to relatively thin two-layered armor for any mistakes and expected that he had completed it. After nodding her head, she peeled off the thin white blouse she was wearing and moved to remove her light yellow bra before smiling at Vahn and asking in a quiet tone, “Will you help me…?” With deft fingers, almost to the point where Ais could hardly perceive the action, Vahn undid the clasp of her bra, causing her to giggle slightly as she held her arms parallel to the ground.
Realizing what she wanted, Vahn stretched out his hands and grabbed the sides of her bra, peeling it from her arms and releasing the pale little mounds from their bindings. The armor prototype was actually designed to be worn without underwear, as most girls didn’t wear bras in the Dungeon anyways. Vahn had specifically put in an elastic band while the seams of the armor itself were meant to contour to Ais’s body and support her developing breasts. Because of the elasticity of the Cadmus Skin, it would be able to last for quite a while, even though her body was still going through its growth phase. It would undoubtedly feel a little ‘tight’ against the body, but it should become a feeling of comfort after the girls adapted to the sensation. Depending on the effect of the name, it may even feel like they’re wearing a second layer of their own skin…
Ais wore the stretchy fabric over the top of her head in a practiced manner, as it wasn’t her first time putting on the top. However, there was now the addition of the Orichalcum wires and the small bumps that would be present from his sewing. Vahn had done his best to make them as thin as possible, but there was still a chance it would cause some discomfort because of how the armor hugged her body. He even suspected that, when she took it off in the future, he would be able to see the sewn pattern on her body from where the lines pressed against her fair skin. Fortunately, Ais didn’t show any sign of discomfort at all and even smiled as she said, “It feels very comfortable. It’s light and easy to move in…”
As she spoke, Ais stretched her body like she was doing calisthenics but Vahn noticed something peculiar in her motions and asked, “Is the neck area uncomfortable?” He had tried to make it less constrictive than the rest of the top, but there was a thin layer of fabric around the neck and Ais kept turning her head about as if it was uncomfortable. However, she shook her head and said, “It is just a bit strange, but not really uncomfortable. I will get used to it quickly…” As Ais often wore clothing that had a collar hugging the neck, Vahn had taken that into consideration for her armor but he could tell she didn’t like it that much in this instance. Ais could also tell that he had seen through her ‘lie’ as her mouth became tiny in a small pouting expression and she said, “It is a little tight…”
Vahn reached out his hand and stroked the top of Ais’s head, saying, “Please tell me whenever you’re uncomfortable Ais, as I want to make sure the armor is something that suits you as perfectly as possible. If it causes you discomfort, it might cause problems from long-term use, so be honest with me, okay~?” Ais nodded her head and slightly squinted her eyes, enjoying the warm energy flowing from Vahn’s palm. It wasn’t just the Beast Humans that were susceptible to his [Petting] ability as almost every girl, including the ‘tyrannical’ Tsubaki, were quite fond of his touch.
After helping Ais peel off the top, Vahn joined the two girls for a light lunch while he removed the threads he had sewn into neck component of her armor. It wasn’t the threads themselves that were uncomfortable, but he Orichalcum wires beneath them because they weren’t actually that flexible at all. Vahn figured he would have to increase the defense of the neck by using the tertiary layer of armor instead but still experimented with replacing the Orichalcum wiring by inlaying the channels with a thin line of Terra’s golden blood. It also had the property of being a mana conduit so it should be a good substitute. Vahn was just worried that it would eventually wear out over time through exposure and absorbing the sweat from Ais’s body.
Because his hands were busy, Vahn got to experience a rather interesting event as both Lefiya and Ais fed him small bites of food. Lefiya still had her ‘gluttonous’ trait, but she bashfully focused on feeing him small bites instead of nibbling on the food herself. Mimicking the behavior of others, she would hold up the fork and say, “V-Vahn…a-aaahnn~” Her ‘order’ only gave her complete confidence in her actions when they were alone so, even though she was comfortable around Ais, Lefiya was still embarrassed. The fact she was being more proactive showed that she was making progress, though the ruddy blush on her face might claim otherwise. To ease her burdens a bit, Vahn quickly bit the food before smiling and saying, “Thank you, Lefiya…”
Around forty minutes after the second block of his schedule had begun, Vahn finished his alterations and once again helped Ais remove her bra so she could wear the top. This time, there didn’t seem to be any issues at all and Ais even said, “It feels a little airy around my neck? Very pleasant…” Because Terra’s blood had an affinity with natural elements, it slowly absorbed them from the air and this was what caused Ais to feel more comfortable. With his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn could see that the energy was slowing flowing into the rest of the network and this was an important discovery since it meant he could create the ‘core’ of formations using Terra’s blood and then use other materials for the rest. Though Orichalum had the highest adaptability with earth elemental energy, it was almost ‘neutral’ compared to most materials. This meant is was a good catalyst for all kinds of magic, which was the primary reason it was used in so many magic weapons, armor, and tools.
As expected, Ais began to pat around the armor in a curious manner as she said, “It feels like there is a cooling sensation spreading around my body…?” Vahn smiled and explained the situation, though the only person that was truly interested in it was Lefiya. She always carried around a cute little book bag these days and had several journals and writing utensils for the sole purpose of writing down Vahn’s words. There was also a communication scroll contained within, making her one of the few girls that proactively carried theirs around. Most people left their’s in their rooms, but there were a few girls that used the network more often than others and could be seen writing into their scrolls on occasion. Chief among them was Hestia, as Vahn hardly ever saw her away from her scroll unless she was trying to get spoiled by him.
Though he was tempted to start preparing to design the tertiary layer, Vahn decided he had stayed in the workshop long enough and wanted to go to the garden and discuss things with Riveria and Terra, which had become a bit of a habit in his schedule. Since they were already together, Vahn asked, “I’m going to head to the garden to talk about our research with Riveria, would the two of you like to come along?” Ais tilted her head slightly as if she were in deep thought before shaking her head and saying, “No…if we stick around you all day, it will make it difficult for other girls to spend time with you. Lefiya and I will go play with Tiona and Fenrir…” Nodding her head as if she had made a ‘wise’ decision, Ais showed a small smile before walking forward and sneaking a kiss from Vahn…
After parting with the two adorable girls, Vahn made his way toward the garden while considering the words Ais had said. He had also noticed that the ‘groups’ of girls that came to him were smaller than normal and wondered if they had worked out some kind of system in private. He knew they had a meeting during the day he performed ‘Nirvana’ on Eina, so that was likely when they had discussed the matter. Previously, girls would slowly congregate around him throughout the day and Vahn could agree that it made it somewhat difficult to pay attention to everyone. At least he would have some time with them individually in the coming afternoons since he had planned to open his ‘salon’ to them.
Once he reached the garden, Vahn found that Riveria, Terra, Syr, and Ryuu were all sitting around the ornate glass table he had set out previously. They seemed to be enjoying tea and talking with Terra, who immediately noticed his arrival before the other girls. Her connection with him had been increasing rapidly these days and, though it was a far cry from where Fenrir was, she had started to be able to ‘feel’ his presence. Imagining that she would one day be able to know his thoughts and feelings was actually a bit concerning since Vahn knew she was a little ‘too clever’ at times. Fortunately, she seemed to be influenced by Riveria and Syr lately, the latter of which had recently ‘broken through’ Terra’s defenses.
Terra’s wings rustled happily as she said, “Welcome, Master~” which also helped alert the other girls to his presence. As the illusory forest formation hid presences well, even Riveria hadn’t noticed him yet and turned her head with a somewhat blank expression on her face. Vahn lifted his hand in greetings and said, “Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry that I’m a bit late, I got wrapped up in my work.” Since he had been coming to the garden during almost all of his ‘breaks’, Vahn felt the need to explain his late arrival. Riveria didn’t have too much of a reaction, though Vahn noticed her aura mellowed out a bit with warm colors, while Ryuu and Syr showed happy smiles at his arrival.
With her typical elegant smile, Syr said, “I was wondering if I would have the opportunity to enjoy tea with you today, Vahn. When you didn’t show up, it made my heart feel a little lonely~.” Though she was teasing him, Vahn could detect a bit of truth in her words as this was the first time she had come to the garden during the times he usually showed up. She was one of the girls he spent the most time with, at night, but one of the least he interacted with throughout the day. Vahn felt a little guilty about this, but it was primarily because he was always somewhat busy while Syr herself was often moving about the Manor and talking to everyone in private to ensure everything was going smoothly.
Thinking this was a good opportunity, Vahn smiled and said, “I usually eat lunch with Terra and Riveria while we discuss our research together. Since the more complicated stuff is often brought up in private, you should come by more often. I’m certain Terra would enjoy the fellowship of the other girls, as I imagine it can be a bit lonely in the garden at times…?” He wasn’t really fooling either girl, as both Terra and Syr were rather intelligent, but they played along with his words as Terra showed a listful melancholy and said, “Indeed…other than Riveria, Ryuu, and Lefiya, I don’t have too many companions…though, the person I’d most like to spend time with is Master~.” Syr covered her mouth and giggled elegantly at Terra’s words before saying, “Very well, I’ll stop by more often in the future. After all, I’m also quite interested in getting to know Terra better and it would be a good opportunity to spend time with a certain someone~.”
Vahn felt like Syr and Terra would make a dangerous duo in the future but just laughed his worries away as he walked over and joined the girls for tea. He eventually ended up helping Terra groom her wings again, but the time before that had been spent sitting with Ryuu and Syr while he primarily discussed matters with Riveria. As it was still fresh on everyone’s minds, as it had just happened the day prior, the topic of discussion was the matters regarding the Elven Kingdom. Coincidentally, many of the brightest minds within the Manor were currently gathered, including the most pertinent party to everything, Riveria. This allowed them to discuss some general arrangements for the future, including what actions they would take depending on the Elven Kingdoms response to Loki’s parchment.
After helping comb through Terra’s feathers, with assistance from Ryuu, one of the few girls Terra was ‘comfortable’ with, another line of discussion had been brought up, this time by Syr. She had almost memorized every detail of the Divination so, now that the ‘important’ parties were gathered, she tilted her head to the side in held her index finger to her chin as she ‘casually’ asked, “Riveria, shouldn’t you and Vahn get together in the near future? If we take into consideration the age of your son, he would be born within the next ten-to-twelve months, right?” Riveria had been sipping at her tea, causing Vahn to expect that she would spit it out as he also felt incredibly startled by Syr’s words. However, Riveria kept her calm on the surface as her aura chaotically flickered until she set her cup down on the table with slightly more force than usual.
Even without Syr’s ‘reminder’, Riveria had actually been thinking about it a lot lately but had never mustered up the ‘resolve’ necessary to move forward on the matter. After their initial ‘expression of intent’, she had actually been avoiding any intimacy with Vahn, including most simple signs of affection. If he didn’t take small advantages from her, they might not even have any such interactions at all. Now that the matter with Alosrin was temporarily settled, likely buying them several years of time, Riveria had actually spent the previous night ruminating over this matter in detail. She had even discussed it with Loki, Hephaestus, and Eina, which she now believed had either informed Syr directly or had caused her to infer something through their actions…
After sitting for nearly two minutes in complete silence, Riveria opened her eyes with a look of resolve contained deep within, at least until she turned her gaze to Vahn. Uncharacteristically, Riveria’s face showed a noticeable blush and any words she seemed to find had been lost as she hung her head slightly. She simply couldn’t find the ‘courage’ to make such bold proclamations at all and wondered exactly how things had developed in the Divination to allow her to take these ‘difficult’ steps forward…