Chapter 664: Patience

Everyone in the ward looked at the two creatures with a great deal of surprise on their faces, at least until Vahn sighed and explained, “These are guardians, entities that will protect our daughters and grow alongside them. There are also some other items that can only be used by them, though I didn’t want to pull them out just yet. Seems like my subconscious desire to ensure they were safe caused the summoning to trigger without my prompting…” Vahn had a slightly wry smile on his face at first but, after analyzing the benefits of the guardians being ‘born’ now, he understood it was probably for the best.

Hephaestus was still a little confused but still gave her husband a teasing look while mentally confirming that his powers were getting closer to those of the gods. They already knew he had pseudo-divinities related to creation and life so it wasn’t that strange to see the guardians pop out of thin air. There was also the fact that, from the moment they popped up, her daughters seemed to be much happier by their presence. Hephaestus smiled, looking toward the small winged-cat and red-dragon brood before. They hesitantly approached, showing curious expressions on their faces as they inspected their would-be masters…

The entire room watched as Ina and Vana both reached out, touching the head and snout of the two creatures before a magical light shone. Just as quickly as they had appeared, the two guardians had now vanished while two small crest-like designs appeared on the girls’ hands. Vahn was watching the entire process with his [Eyes of Truth] active, taking note of how an invisible protective membrane actually covered his daughters while a spiritual intent seemed to search around their bodies, strengthening parts where the flow of mana was slightly out of tune.

Though it felt a little awkward, Vahn pulled out the two [Heroic Tale]s and explained, “The guardians will protect them while these books will help them become stronger while recording all of their feats and achievements. When they are a little older, I also have unique items that will bind to their souls, giving Ina the ability to create a powerful hammer while Vana will be able to display mastery over fire…” Hephaestus nodded her head somewhat slowly, showing how tired she was as she said, “It feels strange knowing that our children will grow up so much faster than normal…but, at least now, I can be relieved knowing they have a father that is already thinking about their future in such a serious manner…”

Vahn had a light blush on his face, earning him a few chuckles from the other girls while Ina peered at him through her slightly parted eye. When things began to calm down, Juno patted his shoulder and reminded, “Loki is still waiting for us, so let’s make our way over there pretty soon. Little Ina still needs to get her first meal and Hephaestus needs to get some rest. Since she is a goddess, rest will make her body heal very quickly an there shouldn’t be any problems like in mortal women. She will just return to the state her body was in before the pregnancy…” As she spoke, Juno looked around to see if she could tease anyone, sending playful smiles towards Lili, Preasia, and Naaza.

After hearing Juno, Hephaestus nodded her head with a bit of hesitation on her face as she passed over her daughters to Epona and Hestia. However, when Vana simply went straight back to sleep, Hephaestus gave a small chuckle before releasing the tensions in her own body. Childbirth had been a lot more difficult than she expected, seeding a deeper appreciation for mortal women in the recesses of her mind. She gave Vahn one last look, smiling through half-lidded eyes as she said, “I owe Loki a great deal for having made her wait this long. Go, Vahn, take care of that mischevious woman for me…I hope our daughters get along well…” By the time she had finished her words, Hephaestus had given in to the desire for sleep and quickly fell into the embrace of unconsciousness. She began dreaming of spending time with her daughters, showing a loving smile on her face as the image of two girls playing in the forest surfaced in her mind…

Vahn gingerly stroked the side of Hephaestus’ face, not minding the sweat on her brow at all as he marveled at how beautiful she looked at this moment. Leaving her side right now was very difficult but, understanding that he had a job to do, Vahn leaned down and lightly kissed her forehead before nodding to the other girls present. Juno gave a curt nod in response, gesturing towards the door as they all made their way to the next room over. Lili, Naaza, and Preasia were all a little pale from having witnessed the delivery but their auras were still stable and they seemed determined to continue. Vahn gave them all a comforting pat, hoping to encourage them to stay strong before stepping into the room where Loki had been napping.

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As soon as he entered the room, Loki’s eyes parted slightly before the ‘playfully’ mused, “Oh, and I was beginning to think I had been forgotten…well, let’s go ahead and get this show on the road. I don’t want our daughter to blame me for having her wait any longer. If she turns out to be a troublemaker, you’ll have to be the one to step in and pacify her, Vahn…” Though the words sounded a little harsh, Loki had a gentle look in her deep red eyes and a small smile on her face when she saw Vahn’s apologetic expression. With how quickly the Vanir grew, and how busy Vahn would often be, she knew he wouldn’t be able to make that much time for his children. The only thing she really hoped for was that his daughter got along well with the lovable little idiot she fell in love with…

While they began preparations, Loki asked a lot of questions about how things had gone with Hephaestus. She clearly understood the process but, knowing it had gone well was a very comforting thought, especially when she heard about the guardian and unique items that had come into existence. Knowing that one of Hephaestus’ children beat her to the punch in obtaining a dragon was a little bothersome, but Loki decided not to mind it since she knew Vahn had her Wyvern’s magic core safely tucked away in his storage dimension. Now, her primary concern, other than delivering her daughter, was the form her guardian would take. Loki speculated the guardian represented some of the personality traits the children would have as they rapidly developed into adulthood.

Hestia showed up when everything was about to begin, locking eyes with Loki for a few seconds before they both showed small smiles. They had been at odds with each other for millions of years before being ‘forced’ to cooperate after meeting Vahn. Now, it almost seemed like their bickering in the past had been pointless, even though Loki was still more than a little bothered by the differences in their bust size. Since Vahn had always cared for her properly, however, Loki found herself starting to care less about such things. It also helped that Hestia, who used to constantly bring it up during their arguments, no longer pestered her about having a flat chest…

Once everything was ready, Vahn got Loki’s permission before he began inducing her labor, activating his [Eyes of Truth] to make sure there weren’t any issues. Contrary to expectations, their daughter hadn’t developed too much more than Ina and Vana. It seemed that the same Divinity that protected them during pregnancy also slowed down the process of their development a great deal once they had fully matured. Vahn suspected there were some laws at work that he didn’t understand but that could always be researched later. For now, he just helped Loki stay calm while Hestia, similar to what she had done with Hephaestus, held Loki’s hand from the side.

By the time they had entered the second phase, Loki’s contractions began with a surprising intensity that caused a deep frown on her face as she murmured, “Uku…I’ll remember this pain and pay you back for it in the future…” Though she had a pained expression on her face, Loki still gave a slightly playful look that also came off as seeming very serious at the same time. She began to tense up a great deal every time one of her contractions hit, causing Juno to grimace as she whispered, “This is going to be a painful one…make sure you’re ready for any tears and ruptures that may occur, boya…” Though Loki’s child wasn’t that much larger than normal, it was the fact that Loki herself had a petite and thin body, not suited for rearing children, that was the problem.

Vahn maintained absolute focus, letting thin tendrils of energy spread through his fingers and repair any area that started to become damaged through Loki’s exertions. Though she would eventually heal completely, any internal bleeding could cause increased pressure within the womb and complicate the birth itself. Until he punctured the amniotic sack and his daughter began to crown, it was better to address the issues immediately. It would delay the process a bit, causing Loki more pain, but she was a strong woman who Vahn believed could bear-

“Uuuuuuuuuu, you did this to me, Vahn! I just want to kick you so badly right now!” Vahn was slightly stunned but didn’t break his focus as Juno rebuked, “Oh, you can just shut your little trap, Loki. This is the pain of motherhood so suck it up and remember the experience. You’ll look back on today with nostalgia and wouldn’t want to remember attacking the boy working his butt off to make things easier for you!” Loki gave Juno a momentary glare, immediately remembering that Juno was actually a great deal smaller than she was. There was a reproachful look in the petite goddess’ eyes that made Loki swallow her next words and just grit her teeth instead. This was a lot more painful than she expected but, just like Hephaestus had done, Loki denied any form of pain relief that Vahn would have provided…

It took nearly five and a half hours, but Loki eventually managed to push out the ruddy little bundle into the real world, releasing a ‘profound’ sigh of relief after the final push. For a moment, the only thing on her mind was falling asleep but, the moment she heard her daughter cry out, Loki suddenly felt revitalized enough to lift her head and say, “Give me my baby…I want to see her…” Vahn had just passed his daughter over to Juno, showing a fair amount of exhaustion on his own face as he looked over to Loki and smiled, saying, “Just one moment, Loki. After she is cleaned, you’ll be able to hold her as much as you want…she is beautiful, by the way…just like her mother…”

Though she should have been called, Disa, Loki had decided to change the name of their daughter and had yet to reveal what she had chosen. As for her appearance, she was much like what Vahn had described, a very small version of Loki herself. Even though she was still an infant, his daughter had slightly angular eyes just like her mother. He never really understood how Loki could walk around with her eyes closed most of the time and wondered how their daughter would manage if she had the same habit. Imagining this had brought a small smile to Vahn’s face as he looked over the slightly mischevious face of his third-born daughter and marveled at her ruby-colored hair that was slightly darker than Loki’s…

It didn’t take long for Juno to finish washing her off before immediately handing her over to Loki. When she saw her daughter, Loki felt a strange urge to cry and held it in by taking a very deep breath. Even without all the pain she had experienced as ‘evidence’, Loki could see at a glance that the little ruddy bundle in her hands was her own flesh and blood. It really was like a miniature version of herself, which made Loki feel strangely nervous since she didn’t want her own daughter to suffer the same way she had. There was a very strong desire in her heart to protect this mischevious little bundle, keeping her safe from everything that might try to cause her harm.

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With a loving smile on her face, something that was very rare under normal circumstances, Loki kissed her daughter’s head and said, “From now on, you will be my Erika…” Then, in a quiet voice, intended only for her daughter, Loki whispered, “I hope that you will be a kind and wise ruler that will help your father…” Unlike Ina and Vana, Erika didn’t seem capable of opening her eyes just yet but there was a small ‘Nn’ produced from her, surprising everyone while Loki laughed with a ‘kukuku’. Though it wasn’t guaranteed that Erika had responded in affirmation of Loki’s words, there was a fair chance this was the case since all the Vanir seemed to have remarkable intelligence.

Vahn had already arrived at Loki’s side, marveling at the mother-daughter pair as he inspected Erika’s body with his [Eyes of Truth]. The flow of mana in her body was slightly chaotic in structure, though the flow itself was very stable. There were intermixed reds, purples, and golds, coiling around a rainbow-hued core that created a helical structure with a strange green Vahn had never seen before. It was hard to know what affinity Erika actually had so he would have to observe her closely to make sure she wasn’t a danger to herself and others. After all, unknown elements could be very dangerous since there were few ways of knowing how the ‘laws’ influenced them…

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[Quest: Origin of Heroes]

Rank: SS-SSS

Completion Grade: SS

Objective: Impregnate Loki (1). Ensure a safe delivery (1)

Rewards: 1,000,000 OP, 1x [Guardian:(Erika Mason)], 1x [Heroic Tale]

Grade Rewards: 2,500,000 OP, 1x [Amorphous Guise] [Guardian:(Erika Mason)]

Rank: Unique

Use: Summons a spiritual guardian that bonds with the user’s soul and protects them from danger.

Restriction: Erika Mason

[Amorphous Guise]

Rank: Unique

Use: A mask that can be nourished by the soul of the user, allowing it to become increasingly more powerful with the passage of time. Allows the user to emulate the capabilities of an individual, even providing insight into their recent thoughts and memories.

Restriction: Erika Mason

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Vahn was stunned by the description of the [Amorphous Guise], feeling somewhat hesitant about actually giving it to Erika before tossing that thought to the back of his mind. It was an item that The Path had deemed fit for her use and Vahn wasn’t going to treat his daughter any differently than he would any of his other children. Even if she ended up constantly scheming like Loki, Vahn would care for and love her all the same. He believed that, by showing her the love she deserved, Erika would never walk down a path where she used and exploited other people with ill intent…

Before the system took matters into its own hands, Vahn said, “I’m going to summon a guardian to protect our Erika. It will grow alongside her, keeping her safe from harm and providing companionship for the rest of her life…” Loki nodded her head, lightly pinching her daughter’s nose before turning her attention to Vahn. She was more than a little curious about the form her daughter’s guardian would take, as it would give her a better idea about how to educate and groom her. When Vahn pulled out a small red orb and tossed it into the air, Loki traced the arc with her eyes as a magical light emerged from the orb and formed…a small brown-skinned baby.

Somehow, Juno had moved to instinctually catch the tumbling infant, surprised by the fact that it had nearly no weight at all as she cradled it in her arms. When she glared toward Vahn, he felt a shudder along his spine as he explained, “It seems her guardian has taken the form of something called a ‘Doppelganger’. Though I can’t be certain, I believe it should be able to transform into any shape once it becomes more powerful…” If Juno hadn’t already moved, Vahn would have blinked around to the side of the bed to catch the infant Doppelganger in her stead. He was certain it wouldn’t have actually been harmed if it fell, but seeing a baby tumble was more terrifying than facing a Valagang Dragon’s maw head on…

Since she had seen the earlier interaction between a newborn and its guardian, Juno carried the infant Doppelganger to Loki’s side, causing the small ‘creature’ to open its eyes and stare towards Erika. It had black sclera with pale golden pupils and a small tuft of white hair growing from its head. Though it likely didn’t have a ‘true’ form, the Doppelganger currently looked female and it took the initiative to reach out and touch Erika’s face since the latter didn’t seem to care about what was going on around her. Like the previous two guardians, the Doppelganger vanished into thin air as a small crest appeared on Erika’s hand.

Loki’s mind had already started racing from the very moment she heard Vahn mention the Doppelganger’s supposed abilities. Being able to transform into anything was a very useful ability and would give their daughter an edge in almost any path she ended up walking. Though she didn’t know exactly how strong a guardian could become, Loki speculated their potential was very high if it was something Vahn had ‘created’ to protect his children. Even if Erika herself never trained, Loki believed the Doppelganger could become very strong and she could already feel the protective membrane that had appeared around Erika’s body. Though it bothered her that everything seemed to be going according to ‘fate’, Loki believed that her daughter would be able to overcome such things with the proper mentality and the support from what Loki believed would be a ‘doting’ father…

Much like Hephaestus, Loki was utterly exhausted by the time everything was said and done, willingly entrusting Erika to Hestia’s care as the latter carried her off to be nursed. When they had disappeared through the door, Loki felt a small amount of ‘terror’ well up in her heart but dismissed it since there was no way anything would actually happen that endangered her child. It was just a little scary being separated from her daughter so soon, something that was more impactful since Loki could feel the bond she shared with her fire-born. Even when Hestia had walked two rooms over, Loki was aware of Erika’s presence and could even feel her daughter’s mood, which seemed to be tired and hungry at the moment.

Vahn reached out to stroke Loki’s hair, breaking her from the reverie she had found herself in as she playfully asked, “Did you wash your hands yet? I imagine they aren’t exactly the cleanest things after everything that has happened…kukuku~.” A light blush touched Vahn’s cheeks as he replied, “I had covered them with a light layer of energy to keep them sterile and I already cleaned them with a spell…” Loki’s grin grew progressively larger the more Vahn tried to explain things so he simply gave up and just stroked her hair without minding the playful glint in her eyes. She didn’t make any attempts to avoid his hand so it was clear that Loki had just wanted to tease him a bit, even going to far as to ‘sample’ his palm with her tongue when it got close. However, after she had calmed down a bit, the fatigue began to settle into her body and she released a tired sigh and said, “I’m going to take a nap…go look after our daughters, Vahn…”

All of the girls had come together during one of their ‘Vahnatus’ meetings, agreeing that everyone would be responsible for raising everyone’s children. If possible, it was the hope of the girls in the Manor that all of the children truly acted like siblings as they grew up. Loki, though certainly showing some preferences towards the daughter she had birthed, would treat all of the children in the Manor as if they were her own. By giving them strong familial ties, it was hoped that all the children would look out for each other and have a strong sense of belonging in the future…

Vahn continued to stroke Loki’s hair for a bit, even after she had fallen asleep, before turning to Lili, Naaza, and Preasia. They looked very tired, almost like they had been the ones on the table, so Vahn gave them a small smile and said, “You all held up very well. Make sure to eat a good meal and take a long rest after this. I will stay in the maternity ward and watch over my daughters for a bit before I head off to sleep a little later…” Taking his words as a cue, Juno wiped off her own hands with a clean towel and gestured to the three girls, saying, “Lets go to the dining room. There are a few things I want to cover with the three of you to wrap up this event. If you’re going to act as a midwife in the future, there are a lot of things you’ll need to know…” Without any complaints, Lili, Naaza, and Preasia all nodded their heads, practically ‘fleeing’ from the ward as they followed behind Juno…

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