Chapter 563: Business As Usual?

Having completed Ais’ armor, Vahn could no move on to the next subject of his research while Ais was busily field-testing the armor to test its functionality. Unfortunately, he had taken the better part of the week to complete the task which meant he had transitioned into the weekend where he wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be doing work in his workshop. He had been spending time with the girls, especially in the afternoons and evenings, but making himself open on the weekends was good for everyone, Vahn included. It was also the time when the girls took a break from the Dungeon, so it was the best opportunity for things like picnics, salon time, dates, or simply playing around.

Vahn had a forest excursion planned during the late morning and early afternoon, while his evening would be spent doing salon treatments with some of the girls that he didn’t get to treat often. Preasia would be using her hour-long massage tab, while the interesting inclusion of Misha had been allowed by Eina. She had been pestering Eina about the changes in her body ever since she underwent ‘Nirvana’ and got to know of Vahn’s beauty treatments and massage techniques. Since she was considered ‘safe’ as a result of her disposition, she had been given the chance to partake of the salon treatments. Unlike everyone else, however, she had to pay a pretty hefty fee of 20,000 Valis, making her one of the first paid clients Vahn ever had to treat.

Before all of that started, however, there was ‘business’ that had to be taken care of so Vahn was currently waiting at the Guest Residence for Loki’s Arrival. Things had gotten a bit awkward with Chris and Holda previously so it was agreed that Loki would bring them directly to the Guest Residence instead of having Vahn meet them at the gate. She had unrestricted access to the Manor, with the exception of the workshop area and a few other key locations, so Loki could bring in guests much like he had been able to escort Arnya.

Today he would be helping a goddess named Minerva, who possessed the Divinities of War, Wisdom, and Mercantilism. He had missed their previously scheduled meeting last week, so Vahn felt a little guilty and calmed his mind to behave as professionally as possible. With the extra time to prepare, Loki had given him a document related to Minerva, including her picture and a small section outlining her personality and the reasons why she had been ‘approved’ by the Alliance. With the incident involving Alosrin, Loki expected there would be conflicts in the future and they would benefit from having a good relationship with goddesses that had Divinities similar to Minerva.

Vahn felt that it was a bit exploitative in a sense, but it wasn’t incorrect to say that the goddesses that came to them were receiving great benefits without too great a cost to themselves. Minerva wasn’t being forced to join the Alliance, it was just noted that she could be a source of wise counsel during trying times as her specific focus had always been on strategy, tactical negotiations, and trade agreements. She was currently the leader of a C-Rank Familia, but this was primarily due to her focus on trading and business than actually sending her members into the Dungeon. Instead of an Expedition type Familia, they were officially classified as a Merchant Familia that also accepted commissions for things like escorting merchant caravans.

A few short minutes after they were expected to arrive, Vahn heard the door of the Guest Residence open but he had long sensed their arrival through his domain. He came to his feet to greet his guests and only sent a cursory glance at Minerva before sighing in his mind and sending a smile to her fortunate companion. His name was Praxis and he was the current Captain of the Minerva Familia at Level 4. He stood around 183cm tall and had a very sturdy build and a somewhat sly looking face with a gaze that looked like he could see through people. His skin was somewhat tanned as a result of exposure and he had short black hair and pale-brown eyes that glimmered with an intelligent light.

As for Minerva, she was somewhat short at 158cm and had hazelnut brown hair and reddish-brown eyes. She wore her hair up in two loose twin-tails and showed off a fair amount of skin, much like many goddesses seemed inclined to do. Her top looked closer to a sports bra than an actual piece of clothing and there was a bluish-grey mantle around her neck like a scarf. Her midriff was completely exposed, showing off her lithe and fit body, while her waist had a sash much like what Tiona and Tione wore, except that it was black with bluish-grey accents. Her wrists and ankles were adorned with golden bands conformed like cloth but had a metallic luster to them while a golden band held up her parted bangs. As for what Vahn had ‘confirmed’ with his earlier gaze, she had moderately developed breasts and Vahn could tell from the curve leading into her hips that she likely had a toned and fleshy butt as well.

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Though it had been incredibly brief, Vahn noticed that Praxis’ eyes became marginally more serious after his glance while Minerva simply showed a large grin on her face. As people that made their living as merchants, they were very perceptive and could read other merchants relatively easily, meaning a naive boy like Vahn was well within their capacity to see through completely. Minerva squeezed her breasts together with her arms and turned to Loki, asking, “This is the boy you fell in love with, Loki? He seems to prefer girls with a bigger bust~?” Minerva had a playful tone to her voice but it still made Loki’s brow twitch as she slightly parted her eyes and gave Minerva a glance that immediately caused the goddesses’ smile to freeze up.

Vahn released a loud sigh and said, “Forgive me, as I still haven’t matured to the point where I can simply ignore a beautiful woman that enters my sight. However, you should avoid trying to compare yourself to the women I’m in love with as you’ll find I’m quite fond of pandering to them, even if it is at the expense of my relationships with ‘outsiders’.” Loki ‘cackled’ a bit as she walked over and leaned against Vahn’s body while Minerva watched Vahn with a look of intrigue in her eyes.

Like all gods, she was very interested in the boy that was changing history and she could see from how he treated Loki that it wouldn’t be a good idea to tease her too much. Praxis also understood this and decided to use the opportunity to smooth things over as he said in a surprisingly amicable tone, “We’re grateful to the Alliance for providing us with such an opportunity. Though I can’t claim Minerva’s love for myself, I am honored to have been the one selected to sire her child.” Toward the end of his words, Praxis bowed at a low angle because he heard from Loki that Vahn was fond of the etiquette of the Far East. It wasn’t just Vahn who had received a bit of a briefing before this meeting began, which was the main reason neither he nor Minerva had minded Vahn’s evaluating gaze.

Vahn returned Praxis’ bow and invited the ‘couple’ to sit down as they made the pertinent agreements and discussed the procedure. Minerva didn’t seem to mind being exposed at all while Praxis’ expression seemed infallible like it had been carved from stone. Even his aura remained very stable and Vahn was very impressed with the man’s emotional control and mental stability. It was very obvious there wasn’t a lot of love between him and Minerva, almost like they were ‘partners’ more than lovers, but Minvera would make a good mother even if she raised her child on her own. As a goddess of Wisdom, she would raise her son or daughter to be a very capable person that would likely become the future Captain of her Familia.

Once their discussion had come to an end, they went to the room where Vahn bound Minerva up in [Enkidu] before leaving the two behind to take care of the deed. She seemed very interested in the chains but didn’t ask for the details as it was one of the things she was unable to discuss. [Enkidu] was the most closely guarded secret of the Alliance and the vows that goddesses were made to take forced them to protect any information related to it for a period of no less than 1,000 years unless Vahn himself revoked the oath. As for Praxis, his vow bound him until death which meant that he would be keeping the secret all the way to his grave, something he was already very familiar with as the Captain of a Merchant Familia.

Surprisingly, Vahn only had around eight minutes to pamper Loki before Praxis came back up the elevator with a very business-like appearance and said, “It is done, please see that the procedure is carried out without error. Minerva-sama has desired children of her own for many years and had even adopted several, myself included. Please grant her wish, Sage Aldrnari.” Though he was a bit perplexed about the ‘swiftness’ of the event, Vahn let the matter slide and showed a serious expression on his face as he said, “I guarantee there won’t be any issues whatsoever. Though I’m lacking in maturity, I will not compromise when it comes to things like this.” Praxis had a small light of admiration in his eyes before nodding his head and leading the way to the elevator.

Minerva was strung up with a somewhat ‘bored’ look on her face when Vahn first entered the room but it quickly turned into a teasing smile as she said, “Don’t get too carried away when you’re playing around with my body, Vahn Mason. I don’t mind if you admire my figure, or even if you touch my body, but if you cross the line even Loki won’t be able to protect you from my grasp, fufufu~.” Vahn stalled near the elevator and just stared at Minerva, who currently had her butt sticking out without the sash protecting her rather plump butt. He wasn’t sure how to react to her words until Loki went up and said, “You’re rather bold, aren’t you Minerva~?” as she loudly smacked the flawless white butt cheek of Minerva.

Unable to move around much under the binding of [Enkidu], as Vahn had left them somewhat loose so as not to cause discomfort, Minerva just wiggled her butt and said, “Ah, Loki, I was just playing around! If you think I’ll let you spank my butt without compensation, you’ve got another thing coming you sneaky little trickster~!” Vahn watched their interaction with a blank expression as Praxis released an almost inaudible sigh from the side and explained, “This was one of the reasons why I wanted you to carry out the procedure quickly. Minerva-sama and Loki have had…conflicts in the past since their Divinities are in opposition to each other. It would be best to bring this matter to an end as quickly as possible before they start doing foolish things…”

Vahn suddenly understood the situation and walked over as he sent Loki, who had been ‘teasing’ the defenseless Minerva, a look that made her startle slightly as she pulled her hands away. As much as she might try to resist it, Loki couldn’t always resist her compulsions and she was prone to stirring up trouble with gods that were related to Order, Peace, and Wisdom. Vahn had never seen it, but she was very fond of teasing the very serious Eirene and was one of the primary reasons Eirene always talked about him when she was with her Familia. With Loki’s ‘harassment’, the relatively taciturn and serious Eirene couldn’t easily get Vahn out of her thoughts and they had been having tea and corresponding with each other ever since she joined the Alliance.

After standing behind Minerva, Vahn resisted the urge to grab her butt and just placed his hands around her hips as he began the delicate process of transplanting the egg and ensuring it was properly fertilized so that it would be protected by her Divinity later on. Before his [Eyes of Truth] penetrated through her body, however, Vahn remarked in his mind that Minerva’s underwear was far tamer than he expected from the goddess. They were a simple white and were big enough to almost qualify as a small pair of shorts than actual panties. There weren’t any embellishments like frills or ribbons, almost like she was showing through her selection of clothing that she had no other intentions and was simply here to complete a ‘transaction’.

Vahn completed the important part of the procedure after a few short minutes before he began carving the crest into Minerva’s lower back. Throughout the entire process, she just relaxed her body against [Enkidu] and the entire room had become silent as a result. When he finished with the crest, however, Minerva opened her eyes suddenly and said, “You don’t have to conceal it, as I’m not ashamed to bear the crest of the Sage Aldrnari on my body. Until my body begins showing the physical signs of pregnancy, I’d like people to be able to see it so you can skip that part.” Though he was a bit surprised, Vahn nodded his head and just loosened up [Enkidu] slowly so Minerva could recover and stand on her feet.

Minerva really was a beautiful goddess with a great figure, which was easy to see as she was wearing nothing but simple white underwear. She hadn’t even removed her mantle or the thin black top she had on her upper body when she and Praxis had sex, not that it had done much to conceal her strangely petite yet very mature body. Vahn could understand Loki’s reasons for not getting along that great with Minerva as one of the main reason she had been a ‘nemesis’ to Hestia was related to her envy regarding Hestia’s diminutive size in relation to her large breasts. When this thought crossed his mind, Minerva tilted her head and asked, “You’re thinking about another girl when you’re admiring my body? Is it Loki~? Oh, and someone else?”

Loki stepped in at this point and stood between Vahn and Minerva as she said, “Minerva, you should know better than anyone that ‘information’ and ‘access’ are two valuable commodities. Unless you have other ‘business’ to discuss, you shouldn’t tarry around here for too long.” Minerva scrunched up her nose at Loki’s remark before picking up her waist cloth and wrapping it around her hips in a very casual manner as she commented, “It was the fortune of the Alliance that they got their hands on the Sage Aldrnari before anyone else…hahaha~.” Loki seemed like she wanted to say something, but Vahn lightly squeezed her shoulder and said, “You are mistaken, Minerva…”

Hearing Vahn’s rebuttal, Minerva turned to give him a curious gaze before an elegant smile appeared on her face and she said, “Yes, that indeed seems to be the case…make sure you treasure your time properly, Vahn Mason. Don’t let other people take advantage of your kindness…ufufufu~.” Minerva could tell what Vahn wanted to say even without him verbalizing it at all. Deep within his aquamarine eyes, she could see the gratitude and ‘devotion’ he had toward the girls around him. She didn’t really know about his past, but it must have been very difficult given his peculiar behavior. Hephaestus, Loki, Hestia, and Anubis, must have found him when he was hurting greatly and worked hard to help him become the person he is today. She could see that Vahn considered himself to be the fortunate one and it would be a very dangerous thing if she wanted to tease Loki about the matter.

After fixing her clothing, Minerva gave Vahn another look and said, “Depending on how the future plays out, I wouldn’t mind enjoying your company on occasion, Vahn Mason. I imagine you will have a very long life and I would cherish the opportunity to be a part of it, at least once or twice.” Minerva sent him a playful wink before locking arms with Praxis and saying, “Ufufu, looks like you’ll get to brag to the others for a while after this, ne, Praxis~?” As if he was very used to dealing with Minerva, Praxis nodded his head with a stoic expression on his face and said, “Indeed…I imagine the others will never let me hear the end of this once we return. I suppose I’ll have to treat them all to a few rounds to pacify them every now and then…”

Though she was in no way a ‘promiscuous’ woman, Minerva had five people that she commonly ‘associated’ with and they had long-term relationships with the shortest spanning eight years. This meant there was a bit of internal competition to see who would get the right to sire her child, with Praxis gaining the ultimate victory. He was the Captain of her Familia for a reason and had managed to earn more than 30% of the combined profits of the other four on his own, even with some restrictions placed on his means. Her interest in Vahn was a bit ‘unique’, as there was no way a goddess that had lived for such a long period of time could easily overlook such an anomaly once it had presented itself…

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Hearing their discussion, Vahn had a thought cross his mind and he pulled out what looked like a bottle of wine but it was wrapped in bamboo slats. He had been thinking about alcohols that would be suitable for the Clubhouse and came across this relatively delicious wine called [Emperor’s Lifeblood]. It cost a total of 14,000OP for a single bottle but it could be diluted at a ratio of 1:100 with water and still have a strong flavor and ‘effective’ alcohol content. Vahn offered the bottle to Praxis, including a note on how to consume it, saying, “Take this, I’m certain your companions will enjoy it greatly.” Praxis gave Vahn an appraising look and there was a small glint in Minerva’s eyes as they glowed with a strange light while she looked at the bottle he had presented.

Praxis waited for Minerva’s valuation of the bottle and was surprised when she had a rather fervent look mixed with a bit of confusion as she asked, “Where did you obtain this bottle? Other than understanding it is ridiculously valuable, I can’t determine anything else about its origins at all.” Vahn smiled and explained, “It is something I personally created and have decided to gift you as a form of congratulations.” Minerva nodded her head in understanding but she didn’t miss the subtle undertones in Vahn’s voice and knew he wanted them to ‘sample’ the wine before potentially making an agreement with them in the future for distributions rights. Without considering the matter in great detail, Minerva smiled and took the bottle of wine from Praxis as if it was a great treasure and said, “Thank you…Vahn Mason…I look forward to our future interactions~.”

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