Chapter 660: Hiccups

The party last for several hours, reaching deep into the night without bothering anyone present whatsoever. It wasn’t until Juno started ‘urging’ the pregnant women to head off to bed that things started to settle down. As a goddess that had a Divinity related to pregnancy itself, she was the defacto expert and had been managing the batch of expectant beauties for the last few weeks. Vahn helped escort the girls to their rooms, sharing his own bed with both Hephaestus and Eina that night. The mood had been very pleasant during dinner and Vahn already felt very satisfied so he spent the remainder of the evening just sharing affectionate words his two first wives while stroking their pregnant bellies…

When Vahn awoke early the next morning, the pleasant feelings hadn’t faded at all so he spent nearly two hours just watching the sleeping faces of Hephaestus and Eina until the latter eventually woke up. Eina, seeing Vahn staring at her, giggled softly before saying, “Good morning, Vahn…” in a soft, still tired, voice. Vahn reached out his hand, stroking her face with an affectionate look in his eyes as he mused, “Good morning, beautiful~.” in a playful tone. Eina covered his hand with her’s smiling more vibrantly at the compliment as Hephaestus stirred awake as a result of the noise. Vahn matched her red-crimson gaze, leaning down to share a kiss before commenting, “Waking up with two beauties by my side…I’m very fortunate.”

This comment earned him a laugh from Hephaestus, who reached up to pinch his nose as she playfully said, “For a boy that could wake up surrounded by ten beauties, that is a bit of an understatement.” Vahn laughed as if all the inhibitions he had in life had dispersed into the void. Even without Hephaestus saying it, Vahn knew he had been incredibly fortunate in this life, even more so when compared to his previous one. It was this reason that made him work so hard for everyone’s sake, and also why he promised in his heart to return to this world no matter how long it took. Though he had been born on Earth, Danmachi was his first ‘home’, filled to the brim with people that cared for and loved him. Now, he just needed to make it a better place for everyone else to live, so that his children wouldn’t grow up in a world filled with hate and impending danger…

Vahn escorted Eina downstairs, greeting Emiru and Maemi, both carrying a bed trays full of food to both Hephaestus and Loki. They spent a lot of time resting these days so took most of their meals in their own quarters or, in Hephaestus’ case, his. Loki was residing in the West Wing, near where Risna and Riveria stayed, while Juno and Epona had taken up residence near the medical ward. They had already prepared everything for the coming births and were now just standing by for the inevitable moment to come. Hephaestus was supposed to be staying on the first floor, as going up and down three flights of stairs while pregnant was ill-advised, but had ignored the recommendation on the grounds of it being good exercise.

The only people that had shown up for breakfast by the time he had arrived were Preasia and Fenrir, both having happy smiles on their faces that become decidedly more vibrant when he came into the room. Eina, seeing the two girls’ reactions, released a peal of bell-like laughter before sitting down on the cushion next to Vahn’s seat. Both girls came around to their side of the table, Fenrir surprisingly letting Preasia sit in Vahn’s lap as they all enjoyed a peaceful breakfast together.

Vahn, after once again remarking at Preasia’s softness, began asking about what she had been up to while he was away. She admitted to spending the majority of her waking time studying with Naaza, Lili, and Chloe, while the rest of her time had been invested almost solely on the development of her rare skill. It wasn’t uncommon for her to sleep for up to fourteen hours a day, which she fit into a carefully planned schedule, and she often invited the other girls to take naps with her. At this point, she had gotten very good at controlling things within the dreamscape and could pull in anyone within a 10m radius as long as they didn’t resist it.

As for the uses of the Dreamscape, it had been documented by Riveria to greatly increase mana regeneration while even accelerating natural healing. Of course, there were other uses for it, but most of those hadn’t been researched in detail since it was only applicable to enemies. Preasia could create a ‘nightmare’ of sorts, trapping the person in her dreamscape and causing them a great deal of mental anguish. As someone who had been nearly overwhelmed by her in the past, Vahn was very aware of the dangers presented by the skill. If Preasia actually managed to pull in an enemy, she would probably break them unless they had some means of protecting their mind…

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While they were eating, most of the other residents of the Manor began showing up, either returning from their morning training or simply waking up naturally. As for those that actually went out to train, even though they had celebrated late into the evening, they were Haruhime, Mikoto, Lili, Milan, Chloe, Shizune, and Tina. Unless they had a ‘proper’ excuse, the girls practiced almost every morning, with Shizune and Tina being ‘required’ by their respective mentors. They were in their growth phase and had just started out as Adventurer’s a few months ago, making it exceptionally important that they don’t slack off. Tina lamented this fact, as she wasn’t a morning person, but got into the swing of things the moment she began wearing her equipment.

When the youth troupe arrived, Tina immediately became somewhat high tension as she asked, “Ah, Vahnya! Will you take us into the Dungeon soon~nya!?” Milan began to laugh at her daughter’s antics, stroking the small cat girls hair as she said, “Now, Tina, you know Vahn just got back. Give him some time to relax…” Tina’s ears became flat against her head, causing Vahn to issue a small smile before he said, “I actually wanted to help the two of you jumpstart your magic training instead of focusing on the Dungeon. Both you and Shizune are at the correct age to build your foundation and I’ll begin training you in a method that will make you become much stronger than if you simply entered the Dungeon.”

Tina’s ears immediately perked back up while Shizune’s amethyst eyes focused on him with unveiled intrigue contained within. Most of the girls had, in fact, focused their attention on him so Vahn explained, “I’m sure you’ve all seen, or at least heard about, how strong Terra has become…well, I’m not quite at her level, but I’ve managed to memorize all of the texts that Eva created and can transcribe them for everyone. It will take a lot of studying, but I can help you build a foundation that will allow you to create your own magic. Anything you can think of, as long as you understand the principles behind it, is possible. You can even get to the point where flying through the sky or teleporting great distances would become second nature…”

Vahn had never seen a tail become ramrod straight, but Tina managed to pull it off as she leaned against the table with an expectant gaze. Milan pulled her back, reprimanding her to sit still with a slightly incredulous look on her face. Tina hadn’t had any major ‘incidents’ while Vahn was away and had calmed down a great deal. Now that he was back, however, it seemed like a ‘switch’ had been flipped in her daughter that made her act ‘peculiar’, to say the least. Tina’s behavior earned her a small amount of laughter from those gathered at the table, causing a rosy pink tinge to touch her cheeks as she lowered her head in embarrassment.

Though he would undoubtedly have to explain it in much greater detail, later on, Vahn started talking about his own experiences with Magic. Even Risna, after deciding to take up permanant residence within the Manor, had taken vows of secrecy. This meant the only people Vahn needed to worry about were if Misha, Rose, Mona, Senna, or Pram. Since they usually ate breakfast in the small kitchenette in their own residence, with the exception of Misha, Vahn could speak freely for the time being. As for Misha herself, she had been working the shift between 8 pm to 4 am and was likely to sleep until the early afternoon.

Chloe listened very closely to the explanation, waiting for an appropriate timing before asking, “So, it’s impossible for people to become powerful Mages unless they start their training early~?” Vahn, understanding Chloe’s concerns, smiled as he shook his head and explained, “Actually, anyone can become a powerful Mage as long as their understanding of the phenomenon they’re trying to make is sound. The majority of spells rely on using external mana and shaping it using your willpower, not your internal mana reserves. Having a large internal reserve just makes it easier to fill in the gaps for spells you don’t yet have complete mastery over. Also, though it varies depending on the race, the development period for mana is around ages 8-25. As long as your body has reached full maturity, you can still increase your internal mana reserves through constant practice. Also, there are ways to supplement for the lack of your own reserves, such as the mana batteries I’ve been developing…”

Hearing that they could also increase their own power, most of the older girls present released sighs of relief. As for Milan, she never cared that much about power and, as long as her daughter could become strong enough to avoid danger, that was enough for her. Vahn, however, didn’t seem to give her an easy out as he then began explaining the [Pactio] system. When they heard he had contract magic that could greatly increase their own potential, that actually worked in conjunction with the Falna, everyone experienced various levels of shock and excitement. Even Preasia, who had been lamenting entering the Dungeon, began to writhe around in his lap as a result of how giddy she felt about the prospect of becoming strong without having to fight terrifying monsters…

Vahn had Haruhime and Mikoto demonstrate their own [Pactio]s for the girls after his explanation had finished, stunning the breakfast goers when they saw the transformation of the two. Even those without high perception could tell that Haruhime and Mikoto became much stronger the moment they activated their cards, even though it only required them to say a single word. When Vahn demonstrated the ‘active’ component of the [Pactio], causing the two girls to become covering in a pale golden aura, Tina’s eyes were practically shining along with them. Haruhime laughed in an elegant manner, accented by the fact she currently looked like an Empress, while Mikoto stood stoic with the smallest sign of a smile reaching the edge of her lips.

Tina, having apparently missed part of the explanation earlier, was very eager to form a [Pactio], even though her small face flushed at the thought of sharing a kiss with Vahn. When he reminded her that the [Pactio] was only permanant if she was recognized as an ‘adult’, she dropped to her butt with a look of disbelief that could cause cracks in the heart of a war-hardened veteran. Vahn assuaged her heartache by explaining, “Don’t worry, Tina, as you can always form a [Pactio] later. It’s actually better that you don’t become accustomed to relying on it so early since it might interfere with your own development. Focus on studying and polishing your own skills further so that your future [Pactio] will become even stronger. After all, the artifact you obtain is based on your personality and capabilities. You’re still young, so there is plenty of time for you to develop before you need to worry about creating a permanant contract…”

Vahn hadn’t explained about temporary contracts since he didn’t really see the purpose in propagating the existence of magic that could make minors more powerful. Though it was unlikely for most people to be able to learn [Pactio], without being able to circumvent the world’s laws to an extent, Vahn didn’t want to seed the idea in their minds. He intended to let the majority of people believe that [Pactio] was just the result of a complex magic item, which wouldn’t be difficult to spin since he could purchase all kinds of items from the system that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Just having Tiona demonstrate her use of the [Mirukurun Magic Wand] would be enough to convince the masses that such items existed.

Though Tina was momentarily deterred, along with a dejected Lili, there was one person who seemed curious about something and asked, “Can I get a [Pactio] now? Though I’ll still study Magic with everyone else, I’m more interested in getting accustomed to using whatever tools are available to me. I don’t want to have to change my entire fighting style later on just because I got a new transformation…” The source of the voice was none other than Shizune, perhaps the singular exception to the age requirement. As Eva claimed it was possible for her to perform [Pactio]s in her real body, even though she was stuck at a physical age that should have made it impractical, it was highly likely that Shizune was ‘qualified’ to enter a permanant [Pactio]. After all, though she had the body of a young girl, she was actually still seventeen years old, coming upon her 18th birthday in less than a month…

Vahn was also somewhat curious, but he wasn’t trying to start up a queue of kissing everyone when they were still in the process of eating breakfast. He intended to enter a [Pactio] with every girl present at some point, including Eina, but that could wait until later. Though, after thinking about it for a short while, this didn’t seem like the best idea. If something happened that could have been overcome if they had access to [Pactio], Vahn wouldn’t easily be able to forgive himself. There was also the simple fact that having access to telepathy was a major boon for keeping in contact. It might not penetrate through the Dungeon that much, but it still allowed him to react to the situation if there were an emergency on the surface…

After sorting his thoughts, Vahn changed his tune and said, “Okay, we’ll do it like this then. I’ll enter a [Pactio] with everyone that meets the requirements so that you have plenty of time to familiarize yourselves with their use. Also, I’ll be giving you a journal, so please document everything that you discover about your artifact and raiment so Riveria and I can compile everything. Understanding how some artifacts works can lead to major discoveries and the creation of newer spells that emulate the effects, after all…” Vahn was, admittedly, very curious about some of the artifacts that came into existence, especially Lefiya’s and Ais’. Having an artifact that can produce healing water or creating wings that allowed a person to freely fly around with a negligible cost was simply incredible…

It was decided that Vahn would clear out space in his salon to perform all the [Pactio]s this afternoon. Everyone needed to be informed of the details and he still needed to discuss several things with Riveria and Loki before starting a long kissing and study session with the girls. The main reason, however, was just to give everyone a bit of privacy since some of the transformations could be rather embarrassing. Some of the girls may even want to keep their artifacts a secret, which was understandable since the form each artifact took was a reflection of their character. Though everyone in the Manor was typically very understanding, it didn’t mean the girls wanted to disclose everything to each other.

Breakfast ended on a lively note, with everyone in high spirits as they talked about what they imagined their own artifacts to be. Vahn parted ways with the girls, heading off to where Loki’s room was since he wanted to learn exactly what ‘hiccups’ had occurred while he was gone. Given how everyone was behaving, it didn’t seem to be anything too bad and was likely just something that needed to be dealt with before it became a problem. Vahn imagined it related to the Elven Kingdom, as Riveria’s behavior seemed to suggest that was the case. Now that he had [Magia Erebea], Vahn wasn’t even afraid of walking directly into the palace without an escort, as there wasn’t much anyone could do to stop him right now. The only thing that kept him from doing so was Eva’s constant reminders not to ‘assume’ he was unstoppable as there were ‘always’ ways around any form of immortality. There was also the fact that he simply didn’t want to leave the Manor right now, as Hephaestus and Loki were due any day…

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Knocking on the door to Loki’s room, Vahn waited for permission to enter before making his way into the room where, unsurprisingly, Juno and Riveria were also present. This almost immediately confirmed his suspicions as Loki laughed mischievously and said, “I actually didn’t think you would take so long to come by. It’s good that you’re remaining focused instead of getting caught up in the tempo of the others~.” Vahn rubbed his head as he walked over to the side of the bed, explaining, “Actually, we were talking about everyone’s magic training and the existence of contract magic called [Pactio]. I’ll go into more details about it later, so for now, let’s just discuss the important matters that you alluded to previously…”

Vahn had seen the glimmer in Riveria’s eyes when he mentioned magic, giving her a small smile before sitting down on the bed. Loki grunted as she moved over to his side, causing Vahn to sweat a bit while Juno reprimanded her with a helpless look adorning her youthful face. Loki waved her away with a ‘Bah!’ before snuggly sitting in Vahn’s lap with a contented sigh escaping her lips. She began to laugh in a ‘kukuku-like’ manner before saying, “Every time I sit on your lap, it feels like I’m the Queen of the world~.” As she had referred to his lap as the ‘seat of power’ previously, Vahn wasn’t that surprised by Loki’s words and just kissed the top of her head in response while cradling her stomach with his palms.

Loki laughed a bit more before saying, “Well, as you undoubtedly expected, there have been a few issues that have popped up from the side of the Elven Kingdom. The blockade has been going as planned, though there are intermittent attacks on occasion and a large flux of smuggled goods than we anticipated. One of the more troubling things is the fact that slavers have been going through the routes to the north, exchanging goods for Half-Elves and some of the lower born Elven households. It’s really been pretty chaotic…” As Loki explained, Riveria gripped her hands with a frustrated expression on her face. She never expected that the response from some of the noble families would be to literally sell some of their own people. It was like all their talk of ‘pride’ and ‘Elven supremacy’ had no substance at all…

Vahn gave Riveria a look filled with concern as a cool sensation started to spread through his mind as a result of his own anger. Loki, leaning into his chest and watching the changes in his expression, continued by explaining, “We tried to reach an agreement with the Dwarven outposts south of the Iron Hills, but their terms were simply ridiculous so we had to turn them down. Since there was a chance that the Elves being sold into slavery were intended to be seeded into Orario as spies, we managed to convince the Nobles within the City to bar entrance to any slavers found ‘smuggling’ Elves in their stock. However, there has still been an increase in the number of Elves within the City, likely using back channels and secret passages to bypass the gates…”

Hearing all of this made Vahn feel a powerful headache coming on that was only kept at by his [Will of the Emperor] and the concern he felt for Riveria. He could hardly believe a culture could degrade to the point where it justified selling its own people rather than compromise on an issue that could actually benefit everyone. It seemed that the Elven Kingdom had become rotten at its core and this was likely a way for the High Elves to try and shift the blame on them somehow, likely by claiming they are being ‘forced’ to trade away their people for the goods that are needed. This would prevent the Elves from blaming the High Elves for their struggles while directing the hatred of their people towards Orario. Though not everyone would believe that, especially those impacted by the malignant practices of some of the High Elven families, they only needed a bit of momentum to make the Elven loyalist deal with most internal issues for them…

Riveria, gripping her fists until the point where her fingers were solid white, stated in a cold tone, “My father isn’t the type of man that should have let things get to this point. It’s almost like he is trying to lead the Kingdom to a collapse. He isn’t listening to any of my advice and even the High Priestess seems to be in favor of these self-destructive actions. Everyone is just using this as an opportunity to increase the strength of their own faction while our people are the ones suffering!” There were tears of indignation in Riveria’s eyes, filled with the resentment of someone that had dedicated their everything to trying to create a better life for her people…

Loki nodded, slightly parting her eyes to look at Riveria with the same concern found in Vahn’s before saying in a plain voice, “It’s likely that your father is actually trying to destroy the noble factions entirely. The Sage Council is taking a hard stance on the matter and holding all of their elites in reserve while many people that want to escape the troubles plaguing the rest of society have sought shelter in the High Priestess faction. Though internal strife will be the inevitable result, the people that end up on the losing end with undoubtedly be the Elven supremacist faction and the High Elven households. It’s even possible that he is clearing away the competition so that your own child can step in and reunite everyone later on…”

Hearing Loki’s words, Riveria’s eyes opened wide in realization, causing her mouth to open and close slightly like a fish out of water. Now that she thought about it, that seemed to be the exact reasoning given how events were transpiring. The only problem with this was the fact that a large portion of her people were being ‘sacrificed’ for that purpose. War was something Riveria considered to be inevitable, but she didn’t want to see the situation devolve to the point where her people started killing themselves only for her to step in and reap all the benefits. However, the more she thought about it, the more this seemed like the ‘best’ outcome. Realizing this made Riveria feel very bitter and, for one of the first times since she discovered that she was ‘unsuited’ to rule, Riveria hated being born as a High Elf…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Vahn Mason, Luck Incarnate’,’The Power of Love…?’,’Elven Kingdom be Trippin…’)

(A/N: This may be the only chapter for today since I’m going to stay with my family this afternoon so they can take me to the airport in the morning. I’ll take my laptop with me and try to write another chapter or two, but there is no guarantee. I’ll be in Arizona from the 8th to the 15th for work but I will still be releasing at least one chapter per day. This is also the time when I’ll be opening up some discussion about the direction of the novel for the future and plotting things out for the next few worlds. Though I can’t explain how it will happen yet, as that would be a spoiler, Vahn will be going to Nasuverse next. Negimaverse will be the third world but, unless people actually want to see a negimaverse fanfiction, Vahn won’t spend more than 200 chapters in each world. If you have any good ideas for worlds that can be visited, go ahead and put them in the comments section. Upvote comments you agree with and I’ll be making a list of the most popular results so people can vote on them later (UwU)~!)

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