Vahn’s Saturday started with a minor incident occurring as, even though he had decided to take the day off to have a picnic and discuss the wedding the following day, others seemed to have something different in mind. Though they weren’t able to reach Orario from the Elven Kingdom in such a small amount of time, it wasn’t as if the Elves had no influence in the City. Though Larfal had tried to keep the matter under wraps, he still had to talk to the leader of the Sage Council and the High Priestess as they had almost as much authority as him. They also tried to keep the matter under wraps but there was no end to the information networks of people in a Kingdom with so much internal strife. It wasn’t known amongst the ‘commoners’, meaning most Elves didn’t know about Riveria’s wedding, but the majority of the nobility were aware of it and had started moving their own pieces.
Around noon on Saturday, several Elves began showing up outside the Hearth Manor, all trying to request audiences with Riveria herself. Since they actually had no grounds to make such requests, Vahn kept Riveria from meeting them and decided to just let them camp outside pointlessly. If they actually tried to do anything, the guards would be called and Vahn himself could always deal with it. Trying to spread the information and cause a scene wouldn’t actually have much of an influence on Riveria’s reputation since the truth would always come forth in the future. The Alliance was inarguably the strongest force in the entire Continent at this point, so it didn’t really matter if the pawns of a few fools took action. To intimidate them a bit, however, Vahn had Fafnir make an appearance and it was able to scatter the vast majority of them.
While he was sitting with Hestia and Syr, the later suddenly remarked, “It may be a good idea to send people to go and pick up Aina, Thomas, and Risna. If they are willing to badger Riveria, they must know about those that associate with her.” Vahn had been manipulating a sphere of water while having Fenrir chase after it in the distance and she managed to catch it when he heard Syr’s words. Fenrir smiled triumphantly and ran over since Vahn had promised to reward her if she was successful. Vahn noticed Syr’s playful look and began rubbing Fenrir’s ears with his thumbs as he thought about the matter and realized Syr was right.
Since it would be better to take care of the matter sooner, rather than later, Vahn nodded his head and said, “I’ll go over with Fenrir and Terra then, since I don’t want to cause a scene and they will probably try to say something stupid if Eina is with me. I’m not on the mood to really punish idiots on my day off…” Vahn knew that the majority of those that came to badger them were ‘loyalists’ to the Elven Kingdom so they likely had arrogance and contempt towards Half-Elves. There was a non-negligible chance they may even try to capture Eina’s family if Vahn simply ignored the matter, but it shouldn’t get to that point unless there was someone in the Elven Kingdom trying to cause a war…
As she always carried her scroll with her, Hestia pulled it out and sent a message to Eina while Syr went off to her room the personally inform her, as she was probably sleeping right now. To make up for the time she would miss during the celebration, Eina had worked a double-shift and was currently taking a short nap, asking to be awakened at 2 PM if she didn’t wake on her own. She would probably want to be up to receive her family so Syr was already moving since it wasn’t really that far away. As for Vahn, he helped Fenrir remove her maid outfit and strip out of her pumpkin knickers so that only her combat attire was showing beneath it. There was also a rustling sound that came from the direction of the forest as Terra could be seen making her way over, understanding Vahn’s intent even before he called her.
Their actions had drawn the attention of everyone else so Vahn quickly explained the situation and told them he would be back soon, declining their offer to help since he didn’t plan to start any major conflicts. He had almost no fear at all when it came to fighting Mages and there was little chance they had a physical combatant that would be able to defeat Fenrir, much less himself. With Terra’s calming aura and the pleasant feelings she inspired in others, especially Elves, Vahn was hoping to avoid conflict entirely. Thus, after making some short preparations, Terra turned into her dragon form and Vahn carried Fenri onto her back as they flew towards the direction of Aina’s residence.
Vahn had never actually visited Eina’s parents personally but he knew the location of their residence after getting the address and cross-referencing it on his own map. His mini-map and mapping functions allowed him to update information like store names, addresses, and other points of interest, also giving him the ability to auto-navigate to places within the map even if he didn’t recall the directions himself. With Terra’s speed, even though she was much slower than Fafnir, they reached Aina’s house in around twenty minutes since they lived in the north-western section of the City.
As expected, there were a few Elves lingering around Aina’s residence but they hadn’t actually caused any trouble just yet. The residence itself was actually a combined storefront and house, with Aina selling flowers and exotic plants for a living while Thomas, Eina’s father, worked as a low-level City official. As for Risna, she hadn’t really decided what she wanted to do with her life and was supposedly a pretty lazy girl, which was rare since most Half-Elves had a little more ‘awareness’. The main reason Vahn never visited Aina and Thomas personally was that he had actually been avoiding Eina’s little sister. According to Eina, she had actually pestered her a bit about Vahn in the past and even tried to see if she could live at the Hearth Manor since she could probably continue her ‘lazy’ lifestyle if she could ‘share’ him.
Eina actually cared about her sister a great deal, being one of the actual reasons she had been so spoiled while they were growing up. So that she wasn’t pressured by other people for being a Half-Elf, Eina had done her best to pamper her little sister and she even wanted Vahn to help the young Half-Elf undergo Nirvana in the future. Vahn promised he wouldn’t ‘fall’ to Risna’s schemes, as Eina really made a lot of sacrifices for him and he didn’t want to put her in such an awkward position. As for why he needed to make such a promise, Eina admitted that Risna actually put a lot of effort into her appearance and was supposed to be a beautiful young girl that aspired to be a great author, something that wasn’t that common in this world since printing technology was lacking.
Terra wasn’t the most discreet mount, being more than 15m long, so the gathered Elves had quickly noticed Vahn’s arrival, many of them calling out to him ‘demanding’ his attention. Vahn gave them a plain look before fixing his eyes on someone he actually recognized but had never talked to in the past. It was the same Elven male that was being escorted by two women when he exited the Dungeon in the past, the foolish man that tried to flirt with his girls right in front of his face. Vahn’s gaze became cold in an instant, but the man didn’t seem to care at all as he said, “The so-called Sage makes an appearance! Lis-” Before the man could finish, Fenrir’s eyes locked on him and were glowing with a scarlet light that caused him to react as if he had just swallowed a fly.
Vahn shook his head and said in a plain tone, “If you cause trouble here, don’t expect you’ll be able to walk away from it unscathed. You should know from the rumors that I’ve never been the type to just idly allow people to say foolish things at my expense…” Without holding back any of his energy, Vahn allowed his domain to slowly contract as the pressure slowly built up to a point where some of the weaker Elves struggled to even breathe. Since he wasn’t actually manipulating the mana in the air, they couldn’t sense his domain at all and just felt it as if the pressure came directly from him. Vahn continued to watch them with cold eyes with Terra and Fenrir standing behind him, the later of the two glaring with her eyes that could even unnerve gods.
Though he hadn’t put any pressure on the shop behind him, his arrival had been noted by Aina who came out with a smiling expression on her face. She put her palm against her cheek in mock exasperation as she said, “Really, I wish you all wouldn’t block my store like this…ufufufu~” Since they hadn’t taken any action yet, likely waiting for the response from the group that went to the Manor, the only thing they had done thus far was block people from entering. Now that Vahn had arrived, they realized things weren’t going well for them and decided to pull back for the time being. Vahn shook his head before turning to Aina and saying, “I’ve come to pick all of you up…if necessary, you can stay at the Hearth Manor for a bit until things calm down.”
Aina had a somewhat sad look on her face, which made Vahn feel very guilty since she had a very similar appearance to Eina, albeit with green hair instead of brown. She knew that her shop would probably be destroyed if they left it unattended but it wasn’t worth ‘fighting’ over since family was far more important. Even before Vahn showed up, Aina knew he was on the way because she had already received a message through the network. As Vahn also understood what she might be thinking, he gave an apologetic smile and said, “Eina will probably be having children in the next year or two, so it’s not a bad thing if you live closer to us…” Hearing this, Aina’s cloudy expression immediately cleared up as she laughed in an elegant manner and said, “Work hard, Vahn, I want to see my cute grandchildren~.” before walking back into the store.
Vahn followed after her while Fenrir guarded the storefront and Terra flittered up to the roof to watch the surroundings. The exterior of the shop was already very beautiful, as there were more than seventy different types of flowers set out to absorb sunlight, but the interior was like stepping into another world. Aina had been a palace chamberlain and gardener before she accompanied Riveria on her journey. She had a real knack for cultivating plants and flowers, earning her a marginally comfortable lifestyle even though similar shops struggled to get by. Vahn felt that she would probably enjoy the garden at the Manor and would probably get along well with Terra once they talked a bit…
Aina looked around and grabbed a few important things before Vahn realized what she was doing and said, “Ah, if you’re worried about luggage and stuff, I can put them away using my storage magic…” Hearing his words, Aina beamed because she had actually forgotten about such ‘convenient’ magic, as it was very rare even in the Elven Kingdom. She had Vahn store as much as he could, surprised when the entire interior of her shop became bare a few minutes later, before heading into the back of the shop to get her other luggage and tell Risna to hurry up. Thomas was still at work, marginally upset by the situation since he wasn’t fond of the idea of Elves suddenly pressuring them even though they had no right to do so. Since he was an official with the City, Thomas was currently filing an official complaint and was ready to turn it into a fiasco when the Elves inevitably destroyed his home.
Shortly after Aina went into the back, another presence hurriedly made its way toward him so Vahn released a small sigh and steeled his mind. As if the rumors of her being a very lazy girl were grossly exaggerated, a petite young Half-Elf burst through the door with an excited smile on her face. She had somewhat muted green hair that had obviously been hastily fixed, likely in preparation for their meeting. It was somewhat short and tied in a messy ponytail that made her look very youthful and vibrant with her smiling expression and emerald green eyes. Unlike Eina and Aina, who both had gentle dispositions, Risna looked more ‘bubbly’ and lively even though Vahn could see the tell-tale signs of her ‘lazy’ lifestyle.
Risna’s eyes widened a great deal when she saw Vahn, eyeing him from bottom to top before nodding her head firmly and saying, “It seems my big sis lucked out this time around, ne~?” Vahn gave a polite smile in return and explained, “Your sister has been a great blessing in my life, so it would be more accurate to say I was incredibly fortunate to have met her.” Hearing his words, Risna clapped happily and said, “Nice, well said, you’re quite the smooth talker, Vahn~!” Then, as if fishing for compliments herself, Risna did a ditsy pirouette before smiling with a playful look in her eyes as she asked, “So, do I match the image you had of me in your mind~?”
Vahn tilted his head and thought about his response, causing Risna to give him a curious look as she waited for his response. When she heard that Vahn was coming over, she tried to pick out cute clothing and was currently wearing a beige colored top, pink skirt, white stockings, and brown shoes. Since she had been up late, she applied a light layer of makeup and tried to brush her hair before giving up and tying it up into a ponytail, hoping he wouldn’t think badly of her. Eventually, Vahn shook his head and said, “Eina said you were a very cute girl, which I can agree with, but my image of you had been a little different. You seem more lively than I expected…”
Realizing that Eina must have ‘betrayed’ her by saying some bad things about her, Risna pouted and said, “I’m not really that lazy, you know? I just like to read books and write my own, is that such a bad thing!?” Vahn shook his head before honestly stating, “Honestly, I think aspiring to be an Author is very commendable, especially considering the state of the world right now. If you rely on others to make your dream a reality, however, it could be a problem in the long run…” He knew from Eina that Risna didn’t leave the house much and only rarely helped around at the flower shop, meaning she spent most of her time ‘leeching’ off Aina. Since she just turned fourteen a few months ago, it wasn’t that bad a thing from his perspective, if not for the fact most people her age had already been working for several years…
Hearing the first part of Vahn’s words, Risna was pleasantly surprised because many people made fun of her for trying to become an Author, saying things like books were pointless. However, the latter part of his words dealt critical damage to her because she also felt somewhat guilty about being overly reliant on her mother, especially since she had no plans of ever moving out. When she learned her sister was getting married to a ‘rich playboy’, she even thought it would be a good idea to try to leech off of him for a bit, even if they never had a relationship. Now that she saw him, however, Risna realized Vahn was a ridiculously handsome boy and she was somewhat jealous that her sister had managed to ‘snatch’ him up so quickly.
Before the atmosphere got awkward, Vahn reminded, “We’ll be heading to the Manor pretty soon so please pack up as much luggage as you plan to take. You may not be coming back, so grab everything that is important to you…” Risna had been staring at his face with a complicated expression on her own before her aura began to flicker a bit and gravitate towards him. Vahn had promised, not just Eina, but himself to not allow girls to get close to him so easily, just because he could see their interest in him. He couldn’t even balance his current lifestyle properly so dealing with the little sister of his wife wasn’t even a consideration of his right now.
Risna was momentarily confused by Vahn’s words, asking, “We’re not coming back…?” as she thought about all the things in her room she wanted to bring. There were far too many things strewn about that were ‘important’ to her, even though she didn’t use most of them, and Risna knew there was no way to take everything in one trip. Vahn saw the conflict in her eyes and said, “I have a pretty large storage capacity so if you can bundle things up I’ll be able to carry most of your stuff.” Risna’s eyes glimmered happily and she reached out to pull him towards her room so he could help her pack. Vahn, however, stepped back slightly and Risna felt very embarrassed with a deep flush on her face after his ‘evasive’ actions. She looked at him with an almost ‘pained’ look but Vahn knew she actually had a habit of ‘pouting’ for attention and wasn’t flustered by her reaction.
After a few seconds, Risna released a sigh and muttered, “Come help me grab my stuff; I don’t want to have to carry everything out here…” Her previously lively expression had softened greatly and she looked like a very sleepy and disinterested person, even though her beauty still showed through. Vahn gave a wry smile and followed her along, knowing that most of her earlier behavior had been an act in an attempt to appeal to him. He really didn’t mind helping support her in her career path, even if she might become a ‘leech’ in the future. Since she was Eina’s little sister, Vahn would do his best to help her but he had no intentions of having any kind of relationship with her at all, even if he found her to be a very beautiful girl.
While he followed her along, Aina poked her head out of her own room and said, “Ah, Vahn, can you help me move some stuff as well? I’ll try to pack everything into the center of the room, but there is quite a bit with both mine and Thomas’ things.” Vahn nodded his head and said, “Sure, as long as you can pack it all close together I should be able to store it pretty easily. Individual items can be an issue though, so try to fit as much as you can into cases and tie down the rest…” Aina nodded her head with a happy smile and continued packing her things as Vahn followed Risna to her room. It was the furthest point at the very back of the house and they had to go around a corner to reach it. When they got to her door, however, Risna stopped and seemed to be considering something before she turned around with a blush and said, “It’s a little messy…”
Vahn raised his brows and said, “It’s okay, I won’t judge how you choose to live your life, Risna. If necessary, I can help clean up a bit while you pack everything together.” Risna released a slight sigh and held the doorknob for several seconds before opening it up and heading inside. Vahn saw the interior and was startled by interior since it was a lot like Hestia’s room when she had cooped herself up inside for a few weeks. There were mountains of books all over the place and several empty cups and dishes strewn about a desk. It was very obvious that Aina probably brought meals to Risna’s room and she spent the majority of her time cooped up inside the relatively small space. Vahn could smell a very flowery aroma which he knew was the fragrance given off by most Elves…
Risna watched his expression with a great deal of embarrassment as she tried to explain, “I…I get really caught up in my work…I’m really not that messy…” She also wanted to say she just didn’t like to clean, but that was the same as saying she was messy. Realizing she probably needed to change her living habits, Risna looked around with a distraught expression on her face while thinking where to start. Suddenly, she saw a ‘mountain’ very near Vahn and, when he saw her looking, he also turned to stare at it before ‘swallowing’ awkwardly. Risna felt her face burning as she ran over and pushed against Vahn, saying, “Get out, I’ll tell you when I’m ready!” Without resisting, Vahn allowed himself to be forced out of her room before the door slammed shut behind him. The ‘mountain’ he had seen was actually a pile of laundry and, because she actually didn’t go out much, consisted almost exclusively of underwear. Remembering some of the designs present, Vahn smiled and remarked, (“She is still pretty childish in that regard…”) before making his way to Aina’s room.