Vahn helped Aina pack up, mainly focusing on Thomas’ stuff so as to avoid any ‘awkward’ situations with his mother-in-law. Even though she was 97 years old, just like Riveria, Aina was an incredible beauty and he couldn’t help but compliment Thomas for being able to get such a woman to be his wife. Since he was a normal human, he would continue to age normally and he was already in his forties, making him somewhat middle-aged. The fact that Aina decided to be with him, even knowing she would outlive him by well over a hundred years, really showed that he had to be a capable and kind man. Though it was a bit rude, Vahn wondered how they would be able to keep their relationship when he reached his sixties since Aina wouldn’t have changed at all while Thomas would have become an elderly man…
Deciding not to really worry about the love lives of other people, Vahn simply resolved to make sure he gave them some grandchildren pretty soon so Thomas would be able to see them grow up. If necessary, he could at least help Thomas maintain his youthful appearance until he died naturally, as it was really the least he could do for his father-in-law. The decision would ultimately be his and, even though it was awkward to imagine performing Nirvana on a man, Vahn wouldn’t let it bother him. He often called himself a professional, as he had been seriously studying what it takes to be a good physician, so it wouldn’t make sense if he couldn’t treat men as well.
Since he was able to store entire wardrobes, it took a lot less time than Aina expected to actually pack everything up. For the majority of the extra items, she just stacked them on the bed and Vahn stored them all into his inventory at the same time. By the time Risna came searching for him, the room was almost entirely bare and she had a very surprised expression as her mother laughed happily. Instead of entering the room with them, Vahn waited outside while Risna and Aina cleaned up her room and moved everything together. Since Aina knew how his ‘storage’ magic worked now, it didn’t take much time before they had Vahn come in and throw everything into his inventory. Risna’s eyes glittered when she saw this and she tried to get close to Vahn again, unsuccessfully, as she said, “We should go shopping sometime…”
Vahn gave her a curious look before asking, “Do you actually have money to spend on shopping…?” Once again, Risna looked like she took a critical impact and blushed deeply with her head lowered, pressing her fingers together without actually saying anything in response. Aina laughed at her daughter’s behavior and teased, “Vahn, do I have to worry about you taking my other daughter away from me~?” Vahn furrowed his brows slightly in response because he didn’t expect Aina to be the one to say something like that, even if she was just teasing him a bit. Looking into her emerald green eyes, Vahn could see a subtly serious light inside of them that made him feel a little nervous.
After thinking over why Aina might say something like that, Vahn realized she probably just wanted both of her daughters to be happy, even if the situation was a little awkward. She had already ‘betrayed’ her people when she left the Elven Kingdom with Riveria, even more so when she married a human, so Aina wasn’t really bothered by the opinions of other people. Vahn, however, couldn’t take a soft stance on the matter because he was worried about Eina and the other girls more than ‘potential’ girls. Firming his expression, Vahn said in a calm and firm tone, “Eina means a lot to me, so much so that I’ll be willing to help take care of her entire family if necessary. However, there are many girls that rely on me and I’m not trying to make their lives even more complicated by becoming involved with more women right now…I’m sorry, but I would have to decline your advances, even if you really did fall in love with me Risna.”
Aina’s expression didn’t change at all, almost like it was impossible to actually phase her, whilst Risna’a actually went through a variety of different emotions. She showed envy when he talked about how important Eina is to him, happiness when he talked about ‘taking care’ of them, and then a mixture of jealousy and sadness when he talked about being involved with so many girls and refusing her. He was a very handsome boy and Risna couldn’t really imagine a better candidate to get married to in the future, even if he was the husband of her sister. She knew about his ‘Nirvana’ already, but that just made her more interested in him and she thought other boys would simply be ‘boring’ to get involved with. Knowing she was being ‘shut down’ from the beginning made her feel like she had been wronged, even though there was truly no bond between them other than the fact she was Eina’s sister…
Gauging the girls’ reactions, Vahn turned to Risna and said, “The world is a very large place, Risna, you can do better by yourself and your sister by expanding your horizons a bit. If you just want to be an Author, I can help sponsor you and even get your books printed for everyone to read…you don’t have to worry about money, but please don’t make things difficult for the others…” Vahn was very bad at dealing with girls when they were actually sad and he felt somewhat guilty when Risna had a ‘wronged’ expression on her face. He simply couldn’t back down on this though, unless a lot of things changed and she somehow got the approval of the other girls within the Manor. Vahn knew there was actually a chance of it happening, but he wasn’t going to be the one to move forward on the matter and was already considering using the private baths in the future.
Vahn suspected that Risna would probably try to use the onsen with everyone else and Vahn didn’t want things to become awkward by ‘forcing’ her to be the only person to use a private bath. He’d rather bathe privately with some of the girls, which would also be a good opportunity to strengthen his bonds with them, rather than let it become an issue. As for Aina, they were actually going to be using the Guest Residence for the interim until the situation became clear. Hestia wouldn’t allow Thomas to live within the Manor because he was both a City official and a man, which was against the ‘rules’ she had established. Thomas would probably feel pretty awkward to be around so many young women for a long period of time as well so Vahn had already decided they would stay in the Guest Residence.
After packing up a few more things, Vahn escorted the two outside where Fenrir was currently radiating a very intimidating aura that even caused Aina to inhale sharply. Risna nearly fell down when she felt the pressure but Vahn caused a ‘soft’ bubble-like barrier to appear behind her as support. She was surprised by the sudden appearance of something touching her from behind but calmed down after she made sense of the situation. A small pout appeared on her face because she knew Vahn probably could have caught her but was ‘avoiding’ her. As for Fenrir, she stopped releasing her aura when the door opened and adopted a very ‘innocent’ smile as she said, “Fenrir scared away all the dumb people~!”
Vahn stroked Fenrir’s ears as Terra flittered down from the roof and landed in front of them, surprising Risna again as she muttered, “How beautiful…” in a quiet tone. Terra turned her gaze to Risna in the process and smiled happily before waving as Vahn introduced them, “This adorable little one is Fenrir, a unique Vanargandr. As for the ‘beautiful’ one, she is Terra, a True Dragon with a perfect affinity for natural elemental energy…” Aina approached Terra without any noticeable inhibitions and closed her eyes slightly, saying, “You have a very calming aura, Terra…I’m Aina, Eina’s mother, it is very nice to meet you.” Like most Elves, Aina felt a strange ‘attraction’ to Terra, almost like she was near one of the sacred trees back in the Elven Kingdom.
Risna flustered a little at this point and said, “I-I’m Risna, Eina’s s-sister!” in a surprisingly bashful manner. She realized her mutterings had been heard by everyone present and was very embarrassed by her slip of the tongue. Terra simply laughed in an elegant manner in response and said, “I’m Terra, one of my Master’s mounts and guardian of the Hearth Manor~.” Vahn released a slight sigh while Risna’s face turned beet red when she heard Terra say something like being Vahn’s ‘mount’. However, when Terra spontaneously transformed into her dragon form, Risna was able to understand the matter better and was actually very excited when it came to flying through the sky.
Though she would have given them a ride anyways, Terra didn’t have any problems with Aina and Risna sitting on her back because they both had ‘comfortable’ presences. Aina’s elemental affinities were wind, water, and light while Risna actually had a pure wood elemental affinity, which was even rare amongst the Elves. Since she was a Half-Elf, Risna couldn’t really make use of her rare affinity, but Vahn could help her overcome that restriction if she one day wanted to become a Mage or a Botanist. Unfortunately, she seemed to be very focused on her writing and Vahn realized that most of the ‘books’ he had stowed away were actually things written by her and not ones she had purchased elsewhere.
Risna was only fourteen years old but had already written more than forty books, almost all related to fiction and romance. The most surprising thing was the fact that they were all several hundred pages long and Vahn noticed her handwriting was very neat and tidy since he had been able to ‘scan’ them once they entered his inventory. It was probably ‘rude’ to have peeked at the contents of her books but Vahn actually couldn’t disable the identification component of his system and the information was automatically stored in his brain. He even had the information from Aina’s, Risna’s, and even Thomas’ personal journals within his mind though he hadn’t ‘peeked’ at them set them aside in the deep recesses of his mind.
When they reached the Hearth Manor, Risna exclaimed, “This is where sis lives…? That is totally unfair!” in a hushed tone. Unfortunately for her, perhaps because she didn’t socialize with people often, Risna’s ‘hushed’ tone was actually very loud and everyone could hear her clearly. She showed a pouting expression and averted her eyes while Aina chuckled and stroked her daughter’s hair, which had become even messier with the wind. When they landed, Vahn stroked Terra’s nuzzle and passed his hands along her long and slender neck before she flew off and returned to the garden, still in her dragon form. Vahn smiled and watched her departure before saying, “Eina is coming, along with several others…” as he turned to the two girls.
Risna had a confused expression on her face and was surprised when the door suddenly opened and showed her sister with a complex expression and an awkward smile on her face. Hestia, Hephaestus, Syr, Riveria, and Aki showed up behind her as well. Though she had been eyeing her sister at first, Risna showed a startled look when she saw Riveria and moved closer to her mom, almost like she wanted to hide behind her. Unlike the 160cm tall Eina, and the 171cm tall Aina, Risna was only around 152cm and still in her growth phase with hard to define features since the clothing she wore was somewhat baggy and childish, matching the ‘cute’ appeal she was going for.
The groups converged together and Riveria showed an apologetic look but, before she could say anything, Aina happily brought her hands together and said, “Riveria, congratulations on your engagement! I can’t wait to attend the wedding…is that the dress you’re going to wear? It’s so beautiful and elegant…” Riveria was currently wearing her [Elven Queen’s Gown] and it had a very regal and noble look, enhancing her immaculate features even further, almost as if she were the true Elven Queen already.
Hearing Aina’s words, Riveria swallowed her own and remained silent for a few seconds before smiling and saying, “Thank you, Aina…it means a lot to me that you’ll be attending the wedding.” Aina had always been closer to an actual sister to her than a chamberlain, which wasn’t wrong since they actually came from similar ancestry. The only thing that kept Aina from being an Alf, and a High-Elf at that, was one generational split and the fact she was from a branch family that had thining blood. Aina’s older brother, though they shared different mothers, had actually been born a High-Elf while she had been forced to become a servant as a result of her ‘Elven’ status…
Though they had met several times, Aina introduced Risna once again but the young Half-Elf just hung her head and refused to say anything. Since she had been trying to ‘appeal’ to Vahn, even though she knew Riveria was going to marry him, Risna felt very intimidated and couldn’t make eye contact with her right now. Eina tried to smooth things over a bit by introducing everyone else, but Risna just ‘hid’ behind Aina’s back and seemingly became a very shy girl all of a sudden. As if she was trying to explain her daughter’s actions, Aina placed her hand on her cheek with a gentle smile and said, “Sorry, Risna’s always been a very shy girl…she isn’t very sociable, but she is a kind girl and could use a few friends.”
Vahn wasn’t yet aware of it, but one of the reasons Risna became a shut-in was a result of the fact she had been bullied a bit when she was very young. Eina had experienced much the same but, taking pity on her little sister, hardened her own heart and tried to become more mature while ‘protecting’ Risna to the point where she became somewhat spoiled. Aina and Thomas also contributed to this a great deal because, even though they knew it was becoming a problem, they allowed her to hole herself up in the room and become enamored with fiction and solitude.
Hestia seemed to have taken pity on Risna as well, saying in a kind tone, “Risna, all of the people that live within the Hearth Manor are kind children. If you open your heart to them, everyone will become your friend, I’m certain of it!” Hearing the unknown voice, Risna peeked out and saw Hestia, realizing instantly she was a goddess. However, her eyes snapped to Hephaestus and saw her big belly as shock settled into her heart while recalling the ‘rumors’ related to Vahn. Coming back to her senses, Risna nodded her head but continued to use her mother’s body as a shield. As if she had inherited the trait from her mother, Eina also put her hand to her cheek and gave her little sister a worried look while sighing.
Vahn helped Aina get situated in the Guest Residence, allowing her to use the privacy of the second floor for as long as they wanted. She would be staying there with Thomas but was allowed into the Hearth Manor whenever she wanted, since she would probably want to interact with Riveria and Eina. As for Risna, she chose to stay in the West Wing where Riveria resided and quickly became fond of the Library once she learned of its existence. Vahn helped her unload everything into her room before Aina, Eina, and even Syr began helping her set everything up while also sorting through her stuff. Most of her ‘luggage’ was just things that had been piled up together so it was still a mess even when Vahn pulled it back out. He also gave her a few bookshelves, a large writing desk, and a few helpful tools that would assist her in her writing.
Risna was very surprised by how much stuff Vahn kept in his ‘storage’, especially since many of the things he gave her seemed solely for her own use. Since she didn’t know about his ‘secrets’ just yet, she misunderstood this to mean that Vahn had already planned for them to move in at some point and he made preparations for it. Though he didn’t seem to be willing to give her a chance, Risna was happy that he was so ‘thoughtful’ and considerate. Since she had met several girls at this point, Risna understood why he wasn’t trying to get involved with anyone else because even she was surprised by how many girls seemed to like him. She had previously thought he was involved with her sister, Riveria, and a few goddesses, but now realized that almost every girl she had seen was in some kind of relationship with him. So far, she had met thirteen different people and had received an explanation of the ‘rules’ from Syr, a scary woman who also seemed to be in love with Vahn…
After hearing some more of the details, even receiving a communication scroll of her own, Risna realized there were more than twenty girls staying within the Hearth Manor and they seemingly all had some kind of relationship with Vahn. Though this was a very startling fact, it also gave her a strange sense of hope since she discovered there were two sets of sisters amongst the numbers. At the very least, Vahn seemed like a very considerate boy that would help support her regardless of their relationship. She had access to a lot of books and Vahn had given her a ton of materials that she could use for writing, so Risna was very happy at how things had developed.
Once Risna and Aina had settled in, Vahn sat with Hestia, Hephaestus, and Syr in private as he explained some of the changes he as going to make in his living habits. For the time being, he was going to take baths in private because he didn’t want to force Risna to be alone all the time. It was a good way to avoid ‘accidents’ with Tina as well, so Vahn figured it would be a good temporary solution. He didn’t expect that Risna would stay within the Manor for too long, though her actions seemed to contradict this, so he wanted the girls to help her open up to other people more. Unfortunately, none of them really seemed to ‘agree’ with his understanding of things as even Hestia explained, “Vahn, it’s almost impossible for a girl to stay here for a long period of time without eventually getting wrapped up with you…”
Syr laughed in response to Hestia’s words and said, “Hestia is right…even Eina probably realizes it herself and is simply ‘spoiling’ her little sister by allowing her to stay here. I think she wants to help her be happy since it seems like her sister would have trouble actually finding a man unless she was ‘forced’ into it. Most guys wouldn’t really want a wife that just stays cooped up in their room all day and it would probably put a strain on most of her other relationships with people…how troubling~.” Piggybacking Syr’s words, Hephaestus nodded and said, “She seems like the type of girl that only really cares about the things she is interested in…I doubt she could live a normal lifestyle. Unless Aina kicked her out of the house, she probably would have stayed there almost indefinitely. She doesn’t seem like the type to really consider her future…”
Vahn was a bit taken aback by their words but, when he thought about it very seriously, it really did seem like they saw through to the truth of the matter. Even Eina and Aina seemed to be aware of this, with the latter joking about Vahn ‘taking’ her youngest daughter as well. There was also the fact that Syr was able to see through a person’s true nature very quickly and she was already giving him words of caution. Releasing a sigh, Vahn asked, “Then what should I do? She is a cute girl, but I can’t just keep getting involved with everyone I meet. Even if Eina ‘expects’ something might happen in the future, I don’t think she would really be okay with it either…and I don’t want to keep burdening everyone else in the Manor.”
At this point, Hestia spoke out a few surprising words as she said, “Vahn, I don’t think anyone here expects that you can even have normal relationships anymore. It’s almost to the point where, even though we know you aren’t actually a promiscuous boy by nature, it wouldn’t be surprising if you had random flings on occasion. However, if you really want to avoid having anything happen between you and Risna, the only choice would be to put restrictions on her and potentially have her move into the Guest Residence or start apprenticing at the Guild. I’m certain she would want to stay here at the Manor, given the option, but that almost exclusively ends in one way…”
Syr continued where Hestia left off, saying, “The more she opens up to others, the less likely she would actually want to leave the Manor. After enough time passes, this place would become her ‘home’ and it is almost guaranteed you would eventually feel sorry for her and move your relationship forward. You almost have ‘too much’ empathy and compassion, making you very free in your love and causing you to have multiple relationships, even with women you don’t initially love.” Syr actually knew she was in that category of girls and she was actually very grateful that Vahn was such an ‘open’ person when it came to love.
As if they were working in perfect concert, Hephaestus was stroking her stomach while adding, “You can work over the matter with Eina, but it’ll ultimately be a decision you have to make Vahn. Try talking to Risna as well…open her up to the idea of moving into a private residence of her own and then try introducing people to her in the future. She seems to enjoy a solitary lifestyle so she should be fine living on her own after adapting. When she matures a bit, she would probably try to find a partner of her own to ease the loneliness in her heart…that is when Aina and Eina can help her find love without having to burden you directly.”
Vahn realized they were actually giving him a variety of different options while taking into consideration his personality and ‘habits’. He felt a little guilty because it almost felt wrong to ‘pawn’ someone off on somebody else. For almost his entire second life, Vahn had been accustomed to ‘accepting’ people, without pushing them away. When he thought about it, it was very easy to see that Risna would probably have a relationship with him if he allowed her to stay here long term. If she was here long enough, Vahn would undoubtedly feel guilty for ‘ostracizing’ her and that would be all it took for things to develop further. Realizing this, Vahn released a sigh and said, “I’m sorry. I’ll talk to Eina and try to resolve this without it becoming an issue…”
All three girls gave him gentle looks with a bit of concern in their eyes before Hestia’s deep blue eyes sparkled slightly and a beautiful smile appeared on her face. With a gentle and guiding tone, Hestia said, “Vahn, I don’t think anyone in the entire Manor would blame you for the type of person you are. In fact, we all fell in love with you because of the endless compassion and understanding you show for others…you are the lynchpin that keeps us all together, the heart of our ‘family’. Risna seems like a good girl and I’m certain everyone would get along with her, regardless of the decision you make. She actually seems a lot like me so I believe we can be good friends~.” When Hestia saw the ‘piles’ of items belonging to Risna, it was almost like she found a kindred spirit and she actually liked having more people to talk to on the network.
Hearing Hestia’s words, Vahn felt a little calmer so he smiled in response and said, “For now, just treat her as an important guest. I’ll still be using the private bath since Preasia is still a little self-conscious about the changes in her body. The final decision will be left to Eina and I’ll let her deal with things going forward since I’m really ‘fickle’ when it comes to making such decisions. I’ll continue to push for helping her establish herself as an Author and set up a small bookstore for her within the Alliance territory…it shouldn’t take too long, so I think things won’t become too difficult to deal with.”
Though they smiled in response, everyone knew it was the ‘help’ Vahn provided that would actually make it more difficult for Risna to give up on him. With the current state of the world, there were few people, especially young girls that are typically ostracized by society, that wouldn’t become fond of their benefactor. If Risna got used to the idea that she could rely on Vahn, she would ‘want’ to rely on him even more and, given Vahn’s nature, he would probably help her out regardless of his feelings. If Aina and Eina didn’t oppose the idea, which was unlikely to happen after enough time passed, there was almost only one way things could end. Vahn’s good intentions and kind nature actually made him a bit ‘dense’ when it came to things like this but, even if he was an idiot, he was still the boy they all loved…