By the time Vahn came back to awareness, he found himself awakening from sleep with a very pleasant numbness permeating through his whole body. He lazily looked to his right and saw Arnya’s rather innocent looking sleeping face as she dribbled a bit of drool against his shoulder. To his left, he could see the back of Aki, as the pregnant girls often slept on their left sides as it was supposed to be better for the baby. She was curled up and using his arm as a pillow while, sitting over at the sofa he sat out earlier, Loki could be seen writing away on a communication scroll with a dim lamp at her side.
Vahn was interested in what she was doing so early in the morning, as it was nearing 4 AM, but rested his head against the plush pillows so he could recall what happened the previous evening. Even though he had willingly fallen into a hypnotic state, Vahn could recall the memories clearly even though there was a strange that blurred his vision. Soon after they had started, Loki ended up explaining the situation to Arnya and Aki since Arnya had become alert not long after. She explained the concerns they had regarding Vahn and also took into account that Vahn would likely recall everything that was happening even though he was in a dazed state. To prevent him from knowing the full details, Loki had the two girls read from a journal as she personally tended to him.
A few minutes after they read through the notes, Arnya and Aki decided to relent and help Vahn relax properly and began doing things like stroking his hair and massaging his body with their caress. Because of his receptive state, Vahn followed Loki’s words closely and ‘confessed’ some of his thoughts to her while Arnya and Aki listened closely to each word. It was a bit embarrassing, but he admitted to feeling ‘inadequate’ to the girls and also admitted to feeling worried that they would eventually end up leaving him if he ‘failed’ to make them happy.
Though he tended to avoid that line of thinking, Vahn knew he really was worried about losing the girls just because he ended up letting them down. By creating the memory orbs and the temporal distortion orb, he was hoping to fill in the gaps a bit but also confessed that it wouldn’t be a real solution. Though he could spend more time with the girls in the orb, it would also increase his burden at the same time because he would constantly be trying to tend to everyone as equally as possible. The simple fact of the matter was, Vahn didn’t truly love all the girls at the same level and, except for the girls he had already impregnated and the ones that had helped shape his life, he was just doing his best to learn how ‘best’ to love everyone else…
Vahn really did want to make everyone happy because, before he had the opportunity to experience the ‘bliss’ of his current life, he had suffered for a very long period of time. He didn’t think himself unworthy of love, affection, and general happiness, but it couldn’t be denied they were ‘foreign’ concepts before he actually opened up to others. Without the ability to see auras, even though it was a bit of a crutch, he likely would have kept his heart closed for a very long period of time. Depending on how things played out, especially considering some of the events he had experienced, he may have never actually opened up to anyone. Even Chloe, one of the girls that had ‘saved’ him from his personal darkness, may not have been able to touch his heart if he couldn’t see the amiable feelings she directed toward him.
Just like he had experienced in the Divination, things could have been drastically different if just a few things had been changed. He most likely would have still tried to save Lili and, unable to understand her psychological state, he probably would have walked down a moderately darker path at her side. He wouldn’t have been able to truly understand what Hephaestus had felt for him and, each of his interactions with the girls likely would have gone in a drastically different manner. Even Syr, someone that had very quickly fallen in love with him might have only taken a slight interest in his capabilities without ever moving forward, at least not for a very long time. Without her inciting the other girls to action, Vahn very well may have never gotten with Ryuu, while Lunoire and Arnya were almost ‘impossible’ to approach without being slowly warmed up to the idea…
Realizing his ‘happiness’ had been the product of a series of coincidences, combined with the ‘guiding’ function of The Path, Vahn released a long sigh that caused Loki to turn her head. She stood up, wearing a thin transparent nightgown and had a very gentle look in her eyes as she said, “You’ve done well, Vahn…leave the rest to us. We won’t let you carry these burdens on your own…just believe in the love we have for you. Even if it takes you a bit longer to return their feelings, everyone is much stronger than you think…they won’t leave you over something so small. Most of the girls had gone their entire lives without having sex, so don’t think they’ll fall out of love with you just because you don’t pamper them all the time…hell, even we goddesses could easily hold out for years if necessary…you are that important to us.”
Though she hadn’t realized it previously, Loki now understood that Vahn’s presence in her heart had grown beyond her own understanding of the situation. Seeing him in a dazed state while he confessed his ‘suffering’ to her hade made something deep inside of her wake up and she felt genuine distress knowing he had been trying so hard. After reflecting on it, Loki felt like this was her maternal instinct, something she had only briefly felt whenever she was defending the children of her Familia and, even more recently, something that had stirred inside her when she rubbed her pregnant belly. Last night, Loki realized that Vahn was still a child, albeit a very abnormal and hard-working one, and her heart had softened up a bit when he broke down his thoughts and admitted the secrets he had been keeping, likely even from himself.
Loki knew that Vahn had the makings of an Emperor, including the ability to bring about great change with a resolute state of mind, but this wasn’t the same Vahn that she had actually fallen for. When he had wrapped her up in [Enkidu], Loki felt ‘real’ emotions for the first time and it was Vahn’s gentle actions and his overwhelming love and compassion that had ‘conquered’ her. Though she felt compelled to help him rise to the apex of the world, this wasn’t something that he truly needed the help of others to accomplish. Instead of ‘pushing’ him forward, it is their ‘duty’ to reign him in, protect him, and provide him the comforts he never experienced.
She had been communicating with Hephaestus for hours at this point trying to come up with methods to help Vahn be happier. Unfortunately, the best method they came up with would be to have Vahn experience being a child by promoting his relationship with something like a surrogate mother. This was something Hephaestus had already done when she introduced Tsubaki into his life, but Vahn had simply grown beyond the comforts she offered to him. They also couldn’t ‘forcibly’ pamper him, because that would just cause him to feel even more burdened since he had the type of mentality that ‘needed’ to reciprocate feelings.
The problem was, Vahn couldn’t be happy normally, as he intrinsically treated it like something that needed to be ‘exchanged’ or ‘shared’ between people. His mind desperately sought peace and structure, but he was also insatiably curious and highly committed to the things he was interested in. As he hadn’t experienced many things, Vahn was eager to experience all kinds of new stimulus because, as they could see now, he was afraid that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience it in the future. He still hadn’t adapted to a normal lifestyle and it became very apparent that Eina’s concerns for Vahn were well-founded. She had, before anyone else truly understood it, seen through Vahn’s ‘facade’ and saw the broken boy contained at his core, the one that desperately sought love and affection but didn’t actually know how to accept it…
Vahn considered Loki’s words very seriously as he reflected over his memories of the previous night, glossing over the period of time when Loki had been teaching Arnya and Aki how to better please him. He knew what Loki was trying to say, but he couldn’t easily back down since this is what he decided for himself. Though he has had to make some concessions, even to the point that he put restrictions on himself, this was the happiness Vahn had found for himself. It hasn’t always been easy, but Vahn willingly walked this path and was willing to bear the burdens even if it caused him to experience greater hardship in the future.
Looking to Loki, Vahn said in a quiet yet firm tone, “I can’t stop doing my best, Loki…” However, somewhat against his expectations, Loki gave him a very serious look as her eyes opened to reveal a great deal of concern contained within their red depth. After several seconds of silence passed, Vahn averted his eyes from her gaze and she said, “You will continue to do your best…but we’ll be taking action so that ‘we’ can do better by you as well…from now on, until we believe you have stabilized properly, you can only sleep with one woman per night. You don’t have to treat sex as something so ‘important’ to the happiness of every girl that you have to plan around them so seriously. Even if it’s only once or twice a month, most girls would be satisfied if they got to spend that entire time alone with you…”
Loki released a long sigh because she knew her own disposition was more on the ‘needy’ side of things and that it would be a bit difficult for her. However, she could always ‘confide’ in the other girls close to Vahn and wasn’t above bringing comfort to her own body. After collecting her thoughts, she continued, “You can plan events with the girls and put together small get-togethers, but from now on you need to rest properly during the evenings. If necessary, the more mature members in the Hearth Manor will ‘educate’ the younger girls so you don’t feel so much pressure by trying to please everyone…if things continue at this rate, you’ll eventually start to dislike sex and will simply be doing it out of obligation. Remember the ‘painful’ feeling you had when you talked about how sad and ‘grateful’ Hephaestus had been during the Divination…? Don’t become that person, Vahn…let us be as good to you as you have been to us, okay?”
Vahn knew Loki’s words cut to the core of the matter, but he still had a bit of difficulty backing down on the issue until she mentioned how he treated Hephaestus in the Divination. Having her thank him for such a small matter had shaken him to the core at the time and Vahn realized, even if he tried his best to avoid having things progress to that extent, there was a chance he would treat sex as a laborious task than an emotional connection he experienced with the girls. After all, he only really cared about sex at first because it made him feel closer with the girls…that had slowly been changing over time and he now simply wanted to ‘satisfy’ them without caring much for his own thoughts and needs at all. This was why, when he was alone with Eina or one of the more ‘mature’ girls, Vahn often just confided and cuddled with them instead…without realizing it, he had slowly been breaking further.
As he was lost in the realization of what had been happening, Aki stirred from his side while Arnya hugged his body from the right. Though it was a bit awkward to have his head pulled so low, Arnya hugged him close to her very comfortable breasts and stroked his head, saying, “You have worked very hard, Vahn…” Though he couldn’t see her right now, Loki added, “Once a month, we’ll be doing a short therapy session where Eina, Hephaestus, Syr, Tsubaki, and myself will all try to find out how your mental state is progressing. When we’re confident you have recovered properly, we’ll let you continue ‘playing’ around. Until then, however, you need to keep things tame and simply enjoy the company of the girls you are with. Don’t worry, Anubis might be a bit of a masochist but she is also good at pampering people…if the Hearth Manor is putting so much pressure on you, feel free to go stay at the Southern Manor for a few days or rest at your Clubhouse. We’ll let you know if anything serious happens…”
Though it felt like his heart was twisting in pain, Vahn also felt a great deal of warmth coming from the embrace of Aki and Arnya and it helped him stay calm. For things to have come to this point, Vahn felt like he had ‘failed’ the girls but he could also feel their love enveloping him, proving that his fears weren’t founded in hard truth. As he had been reading a bunch of books on therapy and child psychology in preparation for his own kids, Vahn knew Loki’s words tore through the mental barriers he had set up on his own. Her actions were something he could understand well because, if he analyzed himself as a damaged child, it was easy to see where many of his problems lay…
After releasing a hot sigh into Arnya’s cleavage, enough to cause her aura to flicker and expand slightly, Vahn raised his head and looked into Loki’s concern-filled eyes and nodded. Though he felt very guilty about everything that was happening, the only way to move on was to accept the feelings in his heart and take small steps forward to fix them. He needed to use this time to build his own confidence, get truly close to the girls and promote ‘normal’ relationships, and also proactively work on the things he wanted to research. Since he was supposed to be trying to help Tina and Shizune get stronger, while also preparing for the awakening of Eva’s orb and the birth of his children, Vahn really should use this time in a more focused manner instead of just having sex all the time.
Loki nodded her head and pulled out a piece of paper she had been working on the check the details once again before saying, “You can still have your little dress-up event with Ais and the other girls, but you should do it in your workshop and try to keep it from devolving into a sexual competition. We’ll draw up a schedule and everyone that is currently on your Status Log, with the exceptions of Riveria, Liliruca, Naaza, and Lefiya. After some consideration, we allowed Emiru, Maemi, and Preasia to add themselves to the list…” Vahn’s brows raised at this and he gave Loki a curious look so she explained, “Maemi and Emiru have a service mentality and are the type of girls that will do their best to make you happy without too much concern for themselves. As for Preasia…she is a bit on the broken side as well and it will likely do you both some good if you spend some time with her. You need a girl that is on the ‘weaker’ side that has deep emotions for you so that you can have a moment to ‘reset’…”
Seeing that Vahn was still a little confused, Loki opened her eyes slightly and said, “Those restrictions you placed weren’t a bad idea at the time, but they’re slowly putting even more pressure on you. I’m certain you’ve noticed it yourself, but you’ve probably been thinking of ‘how’ you can get with those three but refused to take a step forward because of your previous promise, right?” Vahn hung his head slightly in shame at Loki’s words because it showed that she had completely seen through him on the matter. She released a small sigh in response and said, “Vahn, the type of mentality where you treat such things as if they’re matters to ‘be taken care of’ is very dangerous. If you wanted to be with the girls, that should have been the only reason you need since they also wanted to be with you. Girls are very receptive to things like that, so you can expect they have been feeling a lot of pressure ever since your mentality shifted. That kind of pressure will potentially cause them to make mistakes and it’ll also make you feel the need to look after them because of your own sense of obligation regarding the matter…”
After making a small note, Loki looked up and said, “You’re no longer in a situation where you need to keep pushing the girls forward and motivating them in such ways. It may have been fine at first, but things have changed a lot since then, especially after the matter regarding the Divination. Stop acting in such a restrained manner and try to relax more often, just like you did yesterday with the picnic and playing around. You may be an adult, Vahn, but you are still a child in both heart and mind…don’t let your capabilities get to your head and don’t be afraid to seek out girls if you want to be pampered. Just like others come to you when they want to spend time together, you should be going to them more often and simply enjoy the moments you share without worrying too much about what you ‘need’ to be doing.”
Vahn nodded his head slowly in affirmation but the image of Fenrir and Terra crossed his mind and he couldn’t help but feel great inhibitions toward them both. As if she had read his mind, Loki tilted her head to the side and said, “Don’t worry, Terra has already made a resolution of her own and shouldn’t do anything that would cause you too much stress. As for Fenrir, we already talked to her previously and she has reflected on her actions greatly. Things might change after the first batch of children are born, or after that little orb of your’s wakes up, but you shouldn’t have to worry about them too much. The only thing Fenrir really wants from you Vahn, is to be ‘together’ with you and ‘protect’ you. Petting, Bathing, Cuddling, and even Sex, these are all things she has ‘learned’ to appeal to you so you can spend more time together. Even if you just sat and brushed her hair like in the past, she would likely be content unless you ‘ignore’ her for other girls…as for Terra, she has a scary amount of intellect, but she is also somewhat gullible and prone to misunderstandings. She already has a support group around her, so just grooming and petting her should be enough since she also seems to simply want to be ‘together’ with you…”
It was rather long-winded, but Vahn listened to Loki’s words very closely and found that they made a lot of sense when he considered his interactions with the two. Fenrir had always watched how he interacted with other girls and she started emulating their behaviors just so she could be closer to him. As for Terra, she was still relatively new to living on the surface and spent most of her time in relative solitude as she sunbathed inside the garden. Ever since she ‘hatched’ from her chrysalis, she had always been trying to be around him and had picked up books and other studies simply because it was ‘necessary’ for her to spend more time with him. Vahn realized he had been somewhat ‘cruel’ to the two girls by putting such restrictions on them, especially with how innocent they both are…
Loki finished writing another line on her communication scroll and sat down in the sofa before pouring herself a glass of wine. She brought it to her lips and inhaled the aroma before setting it back on the table without actually drinking it. Even if he didn’t intend to do it, Loki had felt Vahn’s gaze and noticed the subtle change in his expression as she was about to drink the alcohol. Though it wouldn’t actually endanger the baby, Loki didn’t want Vahn to stress over the matter so she decided to simply set it to the side. Afterward, she looked over and said, “Today, you shouldn’t have sex with anyone and just enjoy your time with the girls. You can stay here and rest as long as you want, but I’ll have to leave to take care of some matters in a bit. Go spend some time with Hephaestus and Tsubaki, or maybe you should just cuddle up with Fenrir or Preasia. The latter would probably appreciate it quite a bit…yaaaaaah~.” Toward the end of her words, Loki released a yawn because she didn’t get that much sleep last night. Vahn made eye contact with Arnya and Aki before extricating himself from the bed and walking over, saying, “Thank you for everything, Loki…” and giving her a pat on the head to infuse energy into her body…