Chapter 661: Acceptance

Vahn had known that there would be consequences faced by the Elven Kingdom for their policies, but seeing how it affected Riveria made him feel a bit of anguish in his heart. He had even been willing to let the entire Kingdom collapse while offering refuge to Elves that wanted to escape, building a second Kingdom for them away from the stagnant culture that currently defined their people. Riveria had committed to the same thing, but it didn’t seem like she was taking it well knowing that her people were suffering. This made it a lot harder for Vahn to simply allow the Elves to bring about their own destruction, bringing a frown to his face as he thought about possible solutions.

Loki, having observed Vahn’s reactions, plainly stated, “Vahn, unless you want to become a tyrant that forces other countries to bow to your whims, you can’t take any direct action. This could be a way for the Nobles to try and draw Riveria out and force compromise in their favor. At this point, there is no way they aren’t aware that she is pregnant as rumors have even circulated through the City. If you go to the Elven Kingdom without the resolve to kill the people that are the source of the problems, you will just be taken advantage of and seen as weak. Even if you do kill them, however, any good reputation you had will be thrown out the window and, even with the support of hundreds of gods, you will still be seen as an arrogant tyrant to uses his power to oppress people that oppose him…”

Though she had been speaking to Vahn, Loki’s words were for the benefit of Riveria as well, who quickly returned to a stoic appearance as she looked to Vahn and said, “This is the path my people have decided for themselves, even if they didn’t know the consequences of their actions. The faith they have put in the Nobles families over the last thousand years will be their inevitable undoing. I can only pray that more people seek shelter with the High Priestess Faction to avoid the conflict…”

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It was very difficult to look at the situation objectively, but Riveria knew this was still a route that would allow a greater number of her people to survive compared to waging an actual war. There was also the fact that, by selling actual Elves into slavery, something that was ‘exceptionally’ rare, it would be much harder for any surviving elitist to claim they are a superior race.

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When the people you put your faith in start trading you as a commodity, just like the races you talked down on, it becomes much harder to keep your head raised and speak of pride. This would be a wake-up call that would resonate with the future generations of Elves, perpetually reminding them of the price their hubris had wrought upon them. Thinking till this point, Riveria hardened her heart and said, “We should establish open communication with the High Priestess Faction and ask if they are in need of any assistance. The Sage Council and some of the Nobles families may ally together to try and force the High Priestess into a compromise. Though their combined power shouldn’t exceed that of the High Priestess Faction, there is no way of knowing how things will develop when the Nobles become desperate…”

Vahn slowly nodded his head, observing all the changes in Riveria before slowly saying, “We’ll form a secret alliance with the High Priestess Faction and come to their aid if anything unexpected occurs. If necessary, I can personally transport goods with my storage magic and, depending on how trustworthy they seem, create a teleportation ward that will allow them to move outside of the forest without drawing the attention of the other two factions. I’ll set it up as an emergency measure so it will only be active for a short period of time, enough for an evacuation if they are forced to flee…”

Loki, Riveria, and Juno were all surprised by Vahn’s words as they had never heard anything about a teleportation ward. Teleportation magic was exceptionally rare, but Vahn was talking about it as if it wasn’t really that difficult to set up at all. Riveria had a better understanding of things, as she spent a lot of time talking with Terra, but Loki and Juno were clueless on the matter. Vahn, seeing their reactions, gave a wry smile and said, “I already told you in the past, but the magic system Eva taught me is unlike anything that exists in this world at present. Though I can’t go into the exact details, it will become apparent with the passage of time just how different it is. There are several secrets that will only be passed down to a select few individuals, so I can’t explain the details just yet…”

Seeing the reactions of the three girls, Loki’s showing intrigue, Juno’s showing confusion, and Riveria’s showing borderline melancholy, Vahn clarified, “Riveria, you’re one of the people I will be imparting all the secrets to as I believe you are the best suited for integrating the two magic systems. You may not be able to increase the internal reserves of your mana to the same extent as some of the younger girls, but I believe you will become one of the most powerful and influential Mages in the world. You’ll understand once our lessons officially begin, but please keep in mind that most of what I impart to you will be a secret…”

Riveria had a small smile on her face, nodding with a contented expression as she said, “Very well. As long as our child is able to learn the same magic, that will be enough for me. For everything else, I will do as you say and only confer the knowledge to those that are deemed worthy of it…” Vahn didn’t immediately agree with Riveria, saying in a plain tone, “Our child should have the same basic foundational training as everyone else so they can develop their own unique spells. The more advanced knowledge must be earned, regardless of heritage, relations, and rapport. If we start giving our children privileges they haven’t earned, there is an increased chance they become spoiled or walk down a darker path.”

Loki began laughing, tracing her fingers around the back of Vahn’s hand as she said, “Look at you, Vahn, already thinking such mature thoughts. I wonder how well that impartial nature of your’s will hold up when you actually interact with your kids…kukukuku~.” Even if their basic education was similar to what others would receive, Loki didn’t believe for a single moment Vahn wouldn’t be partial to his own children. He wasn’t the type to stand at the side if someone needed his help, especially if the person asking ended up being his own children. Even if it wasn’t in the form of passing on secrets to them, at least early on, he would still give them all kinds of resources, powerful protective equipment, and a safe environment where they would be nurtured to become exceptional.

Riveria was having similar thoughts to Loki, but still gave Vahn a gentle smile since his words were actually very commendable for a boy his age. Though he lacked wisdom and a noble bearing, Vahn was undoubtedly someone suited to lead, not directly, but by influencing those that were capable of making his ideals a reality. He had a natural charisma and a highly empathetic nature that allowed him to get close to people very quickly. This, combined with the fact that he had a great deal of power at his disposal, gave him a great deal of influence over the direction of the world, even if he didn’t personally take action. Since Riveria knew he ‘would’ take action, if necessary, that just made him even more qualified, at least in her opinion…

Vahn felt a little awkward but just shouldered the momentary discomfort, allowing it to completely fade away when he felt a slight movement in Loki’s stomach. With a smile on his face, he said, “I want to focus on being a good father to our children and consolidating the power of the Alliance for the time being. The School should be operational pretty soon, if I’m not mistaken, and we can slowly change the perception of people by influencing the younger generations. When it becomes known that almost anyone is capable of learning magic, I believe things will slowly change for the better. We don’t do anything too flashy, at least until the Academy at Haven is founded, but it should create a fair number of ripples that will one day have far-reaching effects…”

As he was speaking, Vahn thought of the troubles with Rakia Kingdom and one of the plans he had come up with in the past. The smile on his face faded before he said, “I’ll take Fafnir with me and raid some of the border outposts of the Rakia Kingdom. This will cause an influx in the number of refugees fleeing from their borders and divert some of the Elven Kingdom’s attention to the western front. There is a chance it will also cause some of the Elven Nobles to rethink their actions once they see how much damage we can do in a short period of time…”

Loki gave a playful snort before musing, “Make sure you discuss things with Minerva and Eirene before you do anything. You also need to make some time to help two more goddesses with their pregnancies as there were a few complaints about letting you go on the Expedition. Other than that, feel free to do whatever you want, so long as you’re here when the time comes. I’m not sure I can keep this brat holed up for much longer before she starts trying to force her way out~.” As if in response to Loki’s words, her belly deformed slightly, causing her to laugh while Juno gave her a concerned frown. It was very obvious that Loki was already ‘ready’ to give birth but she was adamant about waiting for Hephaestus to go into labor first. Juno had stressed the dangers involved with delaying labor but Loki ignored her completely, causing the petite goddess several headaches…

Though he didn’t know Juno well, Vahn could see the concern in her eyes and, as she was a principle goddess of pregnancy, Vahn assumed it was dangerous if Loki kept going for much longer. Since Hephaestus was due any day now, it was possible for them to induce labor without any real complications. Thus, after resolving himself for the ‘trials’ to come, Vahn hugged Loki with a gentle embrace and said, “I’ll talk to Hephaestus and we’ll induce labor tomorrow so there are fewer chances of any complications occurring. I’ve already inspected everyone’s body carefully and both twins are more than ready to come out by now…”

Even as Vahn spoke, he trembled slightly until Loki grabbed his hands with her own, opening her eyes in a natural manner with a subtle softness to her red irises. She could see that he wasn’t just saying something to try and comfort her so, instead of rebuffing him, Loki smiled and said, “Guess I’ll need to mentally prepare myself tonight…tomorrow will be interesting, ufufufu~.” It was a strange transition from their earlier discussion, but Loki understood that Vahn wanted to make sure things were stable within the Manor before he started taking actions outside. She was also looking forward to finally seeing what their union had produced with her own eyes, as it sometimes felt like she was in a very extended dream with how ‘unreal’ the situation seemed…

Juno released a sigh of relief, saying, “It’s good that you spoke up, boya. This idiot should have given birth weeks ago and, if the children develop as fast as I’ve been told, it isn’t safe to delay the pregnancy, even if it’s just a few more days. I heard you’re skilled enough to even bring someone back from the verge of death so I have to ask, are you going to be the one handling the delivery? If not, I still think you should be there to observe since you should be capable of dealing with any complications.”

Vahn couldn’t help but swallow, suddenly finding his throat very dry but still saying, “I know how things are supposed to go, but I don’t have absolute confidence without experiencing an actual delivery. I think I’ll just observe and try to learn as much as I can in preparation for the future…” Juno and Loki both began to laugh while Riveria’s complexion alternated between a fierce blush and a sickly paleness. She never even thought about the possibility of Vahn being the one to deliver their child but, given his capabilities, it made a lot of sense for him to conduct the procedure. There was even a chance, though it was scary to even think about, that Vahn could make the infamously painful experience ‘painless’…

It didn’t take long for news to spread throughout the entire Manor, even reaching Hephaestus long before Vahn himself showed up in the room. She immediately agreed to it after Vahn informed her that the twins were both fully developed and ready to be birthed. Since Loki’s plight was one of her chief concerns these days, Hephaestus was relieved to know they would both be ‘eased’ of their burdens. Her pregnancy had been strangely pleasant and relaxing, but the last few weeks had made her feel very giddy and insecure. From the moment Vahn went into the Dungeon, Hephaestus couldn’t help but worry that something would go wrong and it wasn’t until his return that she finally managed to calm down.

Though she knew he had concerns about it, Hephaestus actually wanted Vahn to be the one to deliver the twins since she felt it would make their bond stronger. Juno could advise him from the side and, though he seemed very nervous about it, Hephaestus had confidence that he would perform splendidly. She had seen the amount of focus he could put into something and, though it was awkward to imagine the young boy she had fallen in love with watching her lady bits distort during birth, Hephaestus didn’t think he would mind too much. There was also the fact that she didn’t want Juno to deliver the twins only for Vahn to move on and deliver Loki’s daughter. This could lead to a very strange possibility of her being the only one to give birth without Vahn performing the delivery, something that bothered Hephaestus a fair amount…

Vahn was more than a little reluctant about it at first but, after Hephaestus expressed how much confidence she placed in him, Vahn eventually caved in and promised to do his best. This earned him a profoundly beautiful smile from Hephaestus, who pulled him into her embrace and peppered him with kisses. Vahn returned her affections with a happy smile of his own before spending the better part of four hours just laying together with the lovable goddess who put all of her faith in him. Though he wasn’t focusing on the change, Vahn’s hands slowly ceased their shaking until they were as steady as the unbreakable bond he shared with the woman in his arms…

After moving Hephaestus to a room on the first floor, so she could rest and prepare herself for the coming day, Vahn made his way to the dining room with a strange calm settling over his body. It almost felt like he was a passenger in his own mind but the world around him had become far more clear than in the past. There was a relaxed smile on his face as a feminine voice sounded out in his mind, (*You’ll do fine, Vahn. The girls have every reason to trust you, after all, you’re an incredible boy that has never truly let them down. As long as you remain calm and confident, there is nothing you can’t do…*). The smile on Vahn’s face increased in size as a gentle warmth flowed through his chest, nodding calmly in response to Sis’s words.

As it wasn’t time for any meals, the dining room was entirely vacant when Vahn first entered, though Emiru and Maemi were quick to take note of his arrival. They came out to inquire if he wanted to take a late lunch but Vahn just shook his head, gesturing for the two girls to sit with him. With a little more eagerness than he expected, both girls immediately came to his side and sat down, leaning against both of his shoulders with happy smiles on their faces. Vahn released a light chuckle, explaining the evolution of his [Petting] into the Development Ability [Grooming] while affectionately stroking their head, hair, ears, and chins. Though such actions would have caused them to squint with a contented smile in the past, now the girls almost became ‘lazy’ in his arms and just let him lead their bodies however he wanted, unashamedly releasing their own unique form of purring…

After a few minutes, Vahn had the two girls’ heads resting in his lap as they snoozed with blissful expressions on their faces. This made the warmth in Vahn’s heart increase because they truly had adorable sleeping faces, accented further by the fact they were wearing their maid uniforms. He actually had the urge to tease them a bit but held it in since he was already trying to focus his mind for tomorrow. Since he didn’t really need to sleep, Vahn imagined he would be meditating to the [Mantra of Eternity] instead. His plans to give all the girls their [Pactio] this afternoon had been changed, set aside until next Monday when their magic lessons officially began.

Though he had already detected her approach, Vahn smiled when Fenrir began trotting into the dining room, showing a moderate amount of concern in her deep crimson eyes. Vahn’s plans once again changed and he asked in a quiet tone, so as not to disturb the sleeping twins, “Fenrir, do you want to sleep in my room tonight? I’ve already calmed my nerves, but-” Before he was able to finish, Fenrir nodded her head with a small smile and said, “Fenrir will take care of Master…” Without any further explanation, Fenrir left the room with a confused Vahn who raised his brows slightly in curiosity. He realized she must have something in mind and wondered exactly what it might be…

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