It was already getting late in the afternoon and Vahn found Eina was actually at Terra’s Garden alongside Riveria, Aina, and Ryuu. Since he had also wanted to talk to Aina about the matter of her daughter as well, it was a good opportunity. However, having such a discussion right in front of Riveria, the day before their wedding, was a bit awkward and Vahn was somewhat hesitant before eventually deciding to move forward. He couldn’t take a passive approach to such things and Riveria was going to be at the heart of matters soon, especially considering her status and relationship with Aina.
When he arrived, all four girls were soaking their legs in the wellspring and Vahn was actually a little surprised that Aina didn’t seem to mind that Terra was naked. She always had a gentle smile on her face with slightly droopy eyes, almost like nothing could actually phase her. Since he had approached from a spot where they could see him, all four girls noticed his presence and Vahn’s mind stalled a bit when they all smiled at the same time. Even Terra had turned her head towards him and Vahn felt like he had just wandered into an Elven paradise, or at least a strange land full of pointy-eared girls…
Aina was surprisingly the first to respond as she laughed like a bell and said, “I’m surprised there is a place like this within the Hearth Manor…its very peaceful and helps calm the heart.” Eina looked at her mother and released a small sigh, saying, “I told you he would probably come here soon.” Vahn rubbed the back of his head when he heard Eina and said, “Yeah, I needed to talk to the two of you about Risna…” As he spoke, Vahn looked at Riveria, Ryuu, and then Terra as he considered asking Eina and Aina to accompany him into the forest where they could have some privacy. Before he asked, however, Eina moved her feet gingerly through the water and said, “Vahn…I want my sister to be happy, but I’m very conflicted because of how peculiar this situation is…”
Riveria spoke up at this point and explained in a surprisingly calm tone, “Risna is still young, but her perception of the world has been shaped by her existence as a Half-Elf in a society that isn’t that understanding of her existence. It isn’t the fault of her family for trying to look after her, but it won’t be easy for her to adapt to normal society unless she is broken out of her shell. Unless you intend to take care of her indefinitely, you shouldn’t lead her on and give her false hope, Vahn…” Since he didn’t expect such words, Vahn was somewhat confused since he didn’t think he was doing anything to lead her on.
As if to answer his confusion, Aina laughed once again and said, “It’s because you are a very handsome and capable boy near her age…it’s hard to consider your options when the ‘best’ option is already right in front of you. There is also the fact that you have a ‘cure’ for the infertility issue when both Eina and Risna had previously resolved themselves to never have children…I’m very thankful that you have changed that reality, Vahn, truly…I felt like a failure as a mother knowing my own daughters would grow up without knowing how wonderful it is being mothers themselves…”
Aina had originally raised Eina to be a strong girl, knowing she would probably live a difficult life. When Risna was born, however, she felt very guilty and saw the efforts Eina put in to help her little sister, resulting in her spoiling her a great deal as well. She previously believed that they would just look after the flower shop together when Thomas died, as it was actually very possible she would outlive both of her daughters under normal circumstances. Aina believed she would eventually end up alone, but she felt it was a justifiable ‘punishment’ for burdening her children with such a ‘cursed’ existence. Vahn, however, had completely changed that and brought her a hope that hadn’t existed previously…she truly was grateful to him, especially since he was even able to help Riveria and was likely going to ‘save’ their entire race.
At this point, Ryuu had excused herself since she knew it wasn’t her place to be involved in such a discussion while Terra didn’t really feel bothered by it at all. As for Vahn, he felt very awkward to be thanked so suddenly and just walked over to sit down next to Eina. Seeing this, Aina actually got up from her own spot and said, “You should sit between your wives~” in a quiet and playful tone. Even when she was talking about something so ‘serious’ previously, Aina’s expression remained soft and gentle, causing Vahn to feel like he couldn’t really go against her as he sat down between Eina and Riveria. The moment he did so, Eina leaned into his shoulder and muttered, “We were talking about it before you showed up…”
Though he had already expected it, Vahn sighed when he heard Eina’s words and just rubbed her shoulder in an effort to comfort her. She was a good sister and a very gentle woman, just like her mother, so Eina actually found it more difficult to ‘deny’ Risna than to accept her. The only thing stopping her was the fact that Eina didn’t want to be someone that burdened Vahn and this was definitely ‘unfair’ to him, regardless of how he actually felt about it. He shouldn’t have to be put into a situation like this where he had to make such ‘difficult’ decisions that contradicted his base character. But, at the same time, Eina also wanted her sister to be happy and she believed that Vahn really was the ‘best’ option at the moment.
‘Nirvana’ alone was a life-changing thing and Risna probably wouldn’t be able to get over it and simply look for another boy, especially since she never really cared about matters of love in the real world. Her passion had always been fictional romance and, once it reached a certain level, she started writing about it instead, showing no interest in real men until hearing about her marriage with Vahn. Ever since then, Risna had ‘pestered’ her a great deal about Vahn and, being unable to say any ‘bad’ things about him, it was almost like she had been ‘advertising’ her husband to a girl that only knew men from the pages of a book.
Like their mother, Eina had also taken ‘pity’ on Risna and allowed her to get caught up in her own fictional world, doing very little to actually prepare her for real society. She always expected that Risna would end up staying home and helping out around the house, eventually meeting a boy after reaching her late twenties or early thirties. If she didn’t find someone she liked, Risna would probably just stay with their mom and help maintain the shop for the rest of her life and simply continue writing books, blissful in her own unique way.
Eina herself was aware of the differences in their race, so she knew their mother would have outlived them in normal circumstances, meaning Aina could have looked after Risna to prevent her from actually being lonely…at least, this was the likely scenario before Vahn came into their lives. She hadn’t even considered it a possibility in the past, but after learning about the Divination and undergoing Nirvana, Eina figured things would eventually lead down this road at some point and had simply hoped to avoid it for a longer period of time. After all, she was very concerned about Vahn’s mentality and wanted him to live a more ‘normal’ life, not continue introducing new factors into it for him to deal with…
After collecting her thoughts, Eina continued by asking, “Vahn, do you think my sister is cute…?” Vahn furrowed his brows in response but Eina had already lifted her head to stare at him, clearly to see if he was being truthful or not. Turning his head up, Vahn started at the blue sky overhead for a few seconds before saying, “There are many beautiful women in the world, but I can’t be involved with all of them…yes, your sister is cute, but I don’t want to make things awkward for you, Eina. It’s fine that you care about her, but you shouldn’t make so many sacrifices for the happiness of others. Everything you’ve done for me is something beyond what I can ever repay, so I should at least have the resolve to make sure you can live with peace of mind…”
Eina’s eyes opened a little wider before she showed a happy smile on her face and hugged Vahn’s arm, locking her hand with his in the process. With her eyes closed, Eina leaned against his shoulder while Vahn tightened his grip on her hand, resolving himself to do what was necessary to make Eina happy. Before he could actually think of what the best course of action was, however, Eina suddenly said, “I think we should let Risna stay here…I don’t want her to be lonely and I think it would be better for her if she could interact with everyone else. And, before you say I’m making sacrifices, I’m really not…this is actually me being selfish since I want my little sister to be just as happy as I am.”
Though she still felt very awkward about the situation, hearing Vahn’s earnest words and knowing the limits he was willing to go for her made Eina feel very warm inside. Even if they went fast, Eina was confident it would be a few years at the earliest before anything actually happened between Vahn and Risna. Her sister wasn’t the proactive type and she wouldn’t be able to move out of consideration for the other girls in the Manor, especially Riveria, herself, and the various goddesses. Depending on how things progressed, she may even ‘flee’ the Manor after a bit of time passes since she wouldn’t want to upset any of the other girls she opens up to.
Vahn furrowed his brows slightly and felt conflicted but it seemed like he had completely lost the momentum because Riveria said, “If you’re worried about me, you really shouldn’t be Vahn. You can call it my pride, but I’m not the type that likes to owe great debts to people. Even if she would never accept it, I owe an endless debt of gratitude toward Aina and I would never stand in the way of her children’s happiness. I’m also even more indebted to you, something I’m sure you’ve taken into consideration at times and would also never expect me to repay. However, I will always endeavor to do so in the hopes of standing at your side with my head held up high…”
Riveria was a very prideful woman and never expected herself to actually be in a situation where she was involved with a man that also had other lovers. However, that had changed drastically when she met and interacted with Vahn and she didn’t really have much against the idea, even feeling guilty at times because she felt like she was ‘taking’ him away from other girls. Her matters, especially regarding the Elven Kingdom and her Race’s issues, were things that shouldn’t have to be entrusted to any singular person. Vahn, however, had taken the burden upon himself while at the same time whittling down her defenses and finding his way into her heart. Riveria had never truly considered matters of love before interacting with him and, now that she had let him into her heart, she really couldn’t imagine being with anyone else, at least not if she wanted to be happy…
With the combined ‘attacks’ of his two wives, Vahn felt like it was very difficult to actually say anything about the matter since all of his actual inhibitions were the concerns he had for the other girls. People may call him fickle in love, something he was very aware of himself, but Vahn actually wanted to show his love to others. If Risna actually approached him in the future, he knew things would eventually progress to that point because he ‘wanted’ to show people the same love he received from them. With Eina, Riveria, and even Aina seemingly supporting that development, Vahn found himself at a loss for words. He held hand with Eina and Riveria in silence for a very long period of time, staring aimlessly toward Terra and watching her tail snake through the water…
After collecting himself, Vahn grabbed their hands more firmly and said, “I will not actively pursue Risna…but if things develop to that point, I will do my best to make her happy…” It felt strange to talk about such things when the most important part of the equation, Risna herself, was currently absent. There was actually no ‘guarantee’ she would even want to be involved with him in the future, though all the signs pointed towards such a development happening. She had already tried to appeal to him several times since their first meeting but that could just be her childishness and curiosity getting the better of her. For some girls, it was ‘safe’ to try and tease men they didn’t actually think they had a chance with and Risna seemed like that type of girl from what he could see. The only ‘contrasting’ point was that she was very introverted by nature but had tried behaving in a forward manner when they first met…
At this point, Eina sighed and released a, “Mouuu~” sound of exasperation before saying, “Vahn, I’ll never forgive you if my sister gets pregnant before me…” It was obviously a joke, but Eina was actually very serious about it at the same time. It had always been an important part of her character to be the ‘big sister’ and she even made a request that Vahn didn’t make her look younger than Risna previously. She couldn’t ‘tolerate’ the idea of her little sister suddenly getting pregnant before her and wondered if she needed to try harder in the future. Vahn felt a cold sweat when he heard Eina’s words and reminded her, “I can help you get pregnant whenever you want, Eina, you just have to let me know…”
Eina flushed a deep crimson when she received Vahn’s reminder because, if not for her wanting things to happen ‘naturally’, she would probably already be pregnant. Even Riveria flushed slightly since she knew tomorrow would probably be the day she herself became a prospective mother. As for Aina, she began to laugh in an elegant manner after seeing Eina’s and Riveria’s expressions, musing at how ‘forward’ Vahn’s words were. She actually didn’t know about Vahn’s ability to ‘guarantee’ pregnancy and thought he was just talking about being more ‘proactive’ in the bedroom. Somehow, the image of her ‘little sis’, Riveria, showing a bashful expression in the bed made Aina feel a very strong desire to laugh.
Vahn spent the remainder of the afternoon talking with the three girls, even having Terra join them at one point as they all sipped on tea and ate a few snacks. Though it might be ‘unfair’ to Risna, it was decided that she would be kept in the dark about the ‘decision’ that had been made because everyone wanted her to get close to the others first. To avoid any potential conflicts from occurring, though it was rather unlikely given the current ‘climate’ within the Manor, it was important that Risna become part of the group first. She would have to take the same vows as everyone else and, even if she wasn’t interested in training, would need to help around the house and stuff at the very least.
Even Preasia did things like cooking and cleaning while even opting to have one of the smaller rooms in the Manor since she didn’t want to ‘take advantage’ of the kindness she received. Unless Risna could be ‘cured’ of her bad habits, it was too dangerous for her to actually be in a committed relationship. Since she would probably undergo many changes by interacting with the other girls, it was important she didn’t have the pressure of a potential relationship on her mind as it would dictate how she acts around the others. Leaving it as a ‘speculative’ matter might pressure her in a different way, but it also gave her the opportunity to open herself up and try to get closer to people other than Aina and Eina.
Since she actually had good ‘synergy’ with Hestia and Haruhime, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to entrust her to them, especially the latter since Haruhime was very interested in books as well. That would also allow her to talk with people like Hephaestus while interacting with girls like Mikoto, Naaza, Lili, Preasia, and potentially even the group of Ais, Tiona, Tione, and Lefiya. Since Tiona was fond of stories, she actually joined the youth troupe when Vahn was reading to them. Lefiya was actually slightly younger than Risna and could probably be a good friend to her if they got along well, which didn’t seem like a big barrier since Lefiya was actually a very considerate girl…
After discussing it for a bit, Vahn started to realize that the Manor was actually a very ‘safe’ place for people that were either damaged or hadn’t adapted to society. There were many people that were very caring and almost everyone gathered was very considerate of everyone else. Just being around would slowly reshape how people saw the world, often allowing them to become much stronger people as a result. It was a little strange to consider, as he was at the ‘heart’ of everything, but Vahn felt like what they had created together was a very beautiful thing. He just needed to find out a way to ‘spread’ his time better so that he could show each girl the affection the deserved while also looking over his future children.
Preasia’s Innate may provide some insight into that, but there was also a good chance he could learn how to make dimensional and memory orbs from Eva. Regardless of which route he ended up taking, the most important thing was that he treated the matter seriously and continued doing his best. Even if things didn’t always work out, Vahn felt like the powerful bonds everyone had been building were strong enough to keep things from falling apart. Since he was the ‘heart’, Vahn just needed to make sure he didn’t let them down by making a decision that would drag them all onto a path that was filled with regret and loneliness…such as the one he experienced in the Divination.