Chapter 669: Intermission : Pactio (2/2)

After Ryuu put her artifact away, moving to the side to stand with the rest of the observers, Syr was the next to step into the ward. She had a look of intrigue reflected in her light grey eyes, giggling a little as she said, “This should be interesting~.” Vahn returned a smile, gingerly reaching forward to stroke her cheek before sealing her lips for a few seconds. Syr’s lips always tasted strangely sweet and, even though there was a subtle attempt by her pseudo-divinity to charm him, Vahn found it more amusing than scary these days. When they parted, he grabbed the floating card and made a copy for Syr before checking the cover and watching her transformation.

Syr’s [Pactio], Pupa Domina, took on the form of a light grey gothic-style dress with light blue ribbons adorning various parts of the ensemble. The most notable thing, however, was the fact that she had a rather strange looking featureless doll with small button eyes. When she learned its effect, Syr gave a rare wry smile as she somewhat hesitantly explained, “My artifact seems to be a little unique…it allows me to create puppets of other people and link them with the original…” To demonstrate her ability, Syr asked for a hair from Vahn, sticking it into the doll’s head and surprising everyone when it suddenly took on a form reminiscent of their favorite green-eyed boy. Then, surprising them even further, Syr moved one of the arms of the doll and watched as Vahn repeated the action. This allowed them to understand the ‘terror’ associated with Syr’s artifact, especially when she picked up the doll with two hands and caused Vahn to lift off the ground…

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Though they didn’t truly fear her, some of the girls took a step back when Syr came to join them. Control-type abilities were always a little awkward to deal with, even if you knew your ally would never use them against you. For people like Loki, however, she didn’t seem to mind, nor was she even surprised that Syr ended up with such an ‘interesting’ artifact. Though it was generally very subtle, Syr was constantly getting into the heads of the girls in the Manor so that she could better regulate and balance everyone’s lives. She never really misused her abilities but, regardless of how anyone looked at it, Syr had a very manipulative personality and her current artifact reflected that almost perfectly.

Fortunately, Tsubaki was the next to receive her [Pactio] so she cleared up the atmosphere very quickly by excitedly squeezing Vahn’s head between her breasts before kissing him. Syr sent her a somewhat grateful look while many of the smaller breasted women had dead-fish eyes on their faces as they saw Vahn struggle for air within Tsubaki’s massive mounds. As for the form her [Pactio] and artifact took, the card showed Tsubaki wearing brilliant red armor that was very reminiscent of the Far East. It was comprised of several plates and made her look very much like a General with the rather large helmet, adorned with a golden crescent crest, that accompanied it. Strangely, the card once again showed her wearing an eye-patch while a massive cleaver-like katana was hefted on her shoulder…

Though she couldn’t transform into her raiment, Tsubaki still read the name of her [Pactio], Caelesti Generalis, before pulling out the massive ‘katana-like’ artifact. It really did look like a cleaver, having a blade nearly 20cm from spine to cutting edge. The length was nearly 200cm, making it one of the largest swords many of them had ever seen. This would have been intimidating on its own but, according to Tsubaki, it had the ability to almost completely ignore defense and she was able to wave it around almost as if it were a feather in her hands. Tsubaki seemed very content with the blade, hefting it on her shoulder once again before giving Vahn a second kiss, saying, “Thanks, Vahn, it’s awesome…” when she pulled away to join the others.

Vahn was slightly dazed after watching the pregnant Tsubaki wave around a giant cleaver-like katana so it was very fortunate that Riveria had come forward next. She had been one of the few against the idea of making the ceremony public but, after seeing everyone else’s [Pactio], Riveria had warmed up to the idea a little. Still, when it came time to actually share a kiss, it was very brief and still caused Riveria’s face to flush a great deal since her body had been ‘acting up’ after Vahn’s return. When she heard a few chuckles from the rest of the girls, Riveria’s face became somewhat ‘solemn’ as she pulled out her artifact…

At a glance, it looked like a large grimoire with a bronze cover adorned with various complex runes. Though she couldn’t understand the complexity of the runes just yet, Riveria knew what the artifact was called, along with the name of her [Pactio], Discipulus Aeternitatis. Her card showed her wearing a green gown, fitting with long sleeves and a large leaf-green sash with golden embroidery on it. As for the use of her artifact, it could apparently be used to ‘scan’ any object, item, or monster using an eye-shaped aperture on the front. The book would then record the details of whatever Riveria scanned, embedding them within the page and allowing her to even track the price changes of objects within the market. It didn’t have much in the way of combat capabilities, at least for the time being, but Riveria was still very satisfied with it. The fact that it could identify and analyze almost anything was a tremendously useful ability, after all.

When Riveria joined the rest of the onlookers, Loki had immediately come to her side, whispering into her ear in a voice that others weren’t intended to hear. Other than a small nod from Riveria, nothing else was shared, though Vahn already had a reasonable idea what Loki was thinking. It would be possible to completely control the market if Riveria’s artifact were used properly so she likely wanted to coordinate with Fortuna to increase the wealth of the Alliance even more. Though their earnings were already incredible, the upkeep for the Alliance wasn’t cheap and, after purchasing up most of the territory around them, they were more than a little in the red in some areas. The blockade of the Elven Kingdom hadn’t helped their finances any either so Riveria’s artifact was, in fact, a tremendous boon for the Alliance.

Shortly after Riveria stood off to the side, Preasia had come forward, unabashedly wearing small silken shorts and a loose top. If she weren’t covered in fur, the outfit would have bordered on the inappropriate, at least making it unsuitable to be worn around town. Since everyone in the Manor was used to the presence of girls like Tiona and Tione, however, they didn’t really mind Preasia’s appearance at all. Vahn even found her very cute, as her platinum blond fur glimmered under the sunlight and gave her a peculiar appeal that couldn’t be matched by the other girls. When she approached, Preasia wrapped her arms around him tightly, enjoying a long embrace that last until the light of the [Pactio] faded away.

Preasia’s [Pactio], Oves Ordinem, took on the form of pale-yellow sleeveless frock that hung off Preasia’s shoulders and extended to her knees. There was a large cross-shaped pattern on both sides and she had a pair of ribbons neatly tied at the top of her horns. As for her artifact, it took on a strange form that nobody had expected, especially Vahn. They might not have realized what it emulated, but Vahn immediately recognized Preasia’s artifact to be similar to a gun. The only difference, other than it being white in coloration and somewhat simplistic in design, was the fact it had a cartoon-ish sheep’s head at the end of the barrel. According to Preasia, she could shoot at projectiles that, when striking the enemy, could lull them into a deep slumber. The effect and duration depending on the amount of magical powerful put into the projectiles, however, so it wasn’t currently that useful on anything over Level 2.

Vahn felt slightly numbed as he watched Preasia happily shooting around golden ‘bullets’ of light that struck against trees and stones around the area. He was just hoping that her artifact didn’t inspire other people to try and create guns of their own, as the introduction of such weaponry seemed counterintuitive. This world had people that could destroy entire buildings with a single blow, or wipe out large battalions of soldiers with a single spell…

The only thing guns would do would be to give criminals an easier alternative to dealing with their enemies while encouraging ‘normal’ people to simply give up training themselves. If they could deal with most situations by simply pulling a trigger, many people would give up trying to increase their Level, potentially leading to the destruction of the world if there weren’t people to prevent it. After all, no matter how strong you made a bullet, it wouldn’t be strong, or versatile, enough to take down something like a Dragon…

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After Preasia joined the large crowd of observers, Emiru and Maemi walked into the ward next, both holding each other’s hands with expectant smiles on their faces. It was actually possible for normal twins to enter into a [Pactio] at the same time so, with the unique bond between Maemi and Emiru, there shouldn’t be any issues whatsoever. Vahn caressed both girls’ heads for a short while, rolling their circular cat-like ears between his thumb and index finger before giving them both a short kiss, starting from Maemi and ending with Emiru. When they parted, the girls both gave him a kiss on the cheeks before giggling as they accepted their [Pactio] cards, this time showing two people on each card.

Emiru’s [Pactio] took on the form of a black gothic-maid outfit while Maemi’s was almost pristine white in color. The fact that they both got maid outfits earned a few chuckles from the spectators while the girls in question both had happy smiles on their faces. As expected, their [Pactio]s shared the same name, Binarii Angelus, and their artifacts were similar to Ais’. Emiru was able to create a pair of white angel wings that protruded from her lower back while Maemi’s were a glossy black. Forming the [Pactio] gave them the pre-requisite knowledge to make use of the wings but they would still need to train a bit to use them in combat. Terra, finding the fact that both girls had similar wings to herself, decided to help teach them since they were two of her Master’s most loyal ‘servants’.

With the twins taken care of, this left only Arnya, Eina, and Shizune as recipient awaiting their own [Pactio]s. As if she couldn’t wait to get her own, Arnya had come forward, supporting her belly with one hand with a large smile on her face. Many of the problems she had expected, primarily from her brother, simply never came to pass. As her own delivery date approached, Arnya became progressively more excited and was looking forward to raising her daughter to be a powerful warrior. The world Vahn would create would be full of powerful beings and Arnya, other than increasing her own strength, wanted to make sure her daughter was able to become strong enough to live as freely as she chose.

After sharing a rather passionate kiss, Arnya took her copy of the card and inspected the surface, noticing the name Magister Armis at the bottom. As for the image on the card, it showed her striking a heroic pose with a rather awe-inspiring spear in hand. This caused Arnya to frown slightly before the knowledge in her mind finished informing her of the actual artifact’s use. If it had been another spear, Arnya wouldn’t have been able to use it until she passed on the legacy of her school. However, with how her artifact actually functioned, Arnya was very excited as two small bangles appeared on her wrists. Without explaining their use, Arna waved her hands around and created a scene that caused many people to feel cold sweat on their brows.

Much like how Vahn’s use of [Enkidu] created golden ripples in the air, Arnya’s artifact made small wards that had obscured centers caused by the twisting of space. From these spatial anomalies, several different types of spears came protruding out, containing a surprising amount of energy as they resonated with an expectant intent. These wards followed Arnya around until she waved her hand again, sending the spears forward at several times the speed of sound as they smashed into some of the stones at the far end of the clearing. Vahn had instantly erected a barrier since the spears actually made him slightly nervous. This ended up being the correct decision since, after they struck the target, the spears exploded with their contained energy and sent stones, grass, and other forms of debris flying through the air.

Even Arnya was surprised by the power of her own artifact and remained stunned for several seconds before giving a sheepish grin and apologizing to everyone present. However, it was the fact that she took such actions while she was pregnant that earned her a long lecture from the other girls. Arnya obediently listened to their words with rapt attention, seriously reflecting on her own actions while wondering if her habit of ‘acting’ foolishly for so many years had affected her mind. She could have simply formed a single spear but, excited by the information that had appeared in her mind, called out a total of thirteen. Since each strike was the equivalent of one of her own serious blows, the amount of damage done had been done to the clearing was rather extreme. Fortunately, Terra was able to repair things with relative ease, even fixing the damaged trees and stones that had been destroyed by the attack.

Once the cleanup was taken care of, Eina was the next up to form a [Pactio] with Vahn. Even though she wasn’t a combatant, the [Pactio] would help guarantee she was safe and also allowed her to contact Vahn through telepathy during emergencies. There were truly no downsides of note so Eina had agreed to undergo the ceremony without needed much convincing. When they actually kissed, things were kept relatively tame but everyone watching was able to feel the emotions shared between the two. Ever since Eina had gotten pregnant, she had fallen deeply in love with Vahn, at least compared to the past. Initially, she just wanted to protect and care for him but, now that she was an expectant mother, Eina found herself simply wanting to be with him. She found comfort in his presence and, knowing he was also very comfortable with her, Eina was very content with her current lifestyle.

Eina’s [Pactio], Cygnus Canticum, took on the form of a blue minstrels outfit adorned with golden threads. She also had a pair of ornate white gloves with stockings covering her long legs, visible through the slit at the side of her long dress. As for her artifact, it took on the form of a small golden lyre and had the peculiar effect of making her songs carry over great distances without being obscured by other sounds. She also gained knowledge of several short ballads that worked as ritual spells, each giving different buffs to her allies while restricting the capabilities of her enemies. As a non-combatant, it wasn’t the most useful artifact but, since she was actually very fond of singing in the past, Eina was happy to receive it.

Vahn hadn’t even known Eina could play the lyre, nor did he know she enjoyed singing, so it made him both happy and sad to learn about them so suddenly. He realized that he still didn’t know much about the women he loved, even his own wives. Fortunately, he would have plenty of time to spend with them from now on since he could use the orbs for training and production in the future. Vahn swore to himself to learn more about the girls, including their likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. If possible, he wanted to know everything they were willing to share with him since he truly cared about them more than anything else in the entire world…

Eina, understanding Vahn’s expression, simply smiled in response before giving him a short kiss on the cheek and saying, “I’ll sing for you later, okay~?” Vahn nodded his head, smiling as he ran his fingers through Eina’s hair and stared into her emerald green eyes. He could see the love and care contained within and, knowing she didn’t blame him for his negligence, Vahn felt extremely blessed and promised to do better in the future. After all, what was the point of becoming strong enough to protect the people he cared about if he didn’t actually show any interest in their lives? This realization made Vahn slightly annoyed that the world was in such a state that he couldn’t freely enjoy his time with the people he cared about, further hardening his resolve to change things for the better…

With Eina completing her own [Pactio], the last person up was Shizune herself, something of a test to see how the ‘rules’ of the [Pactio] affected people with unique circumstances. Regardless of how they treated her, Shizune was still an adult, even though her body had been restored to a ‘pristine’ state as a result of ingesting the [Virgin’s Promise]. The laws of the world might have led to a small backlash, or a ‘Temporary Contract’ if she were truly as young as she seemed but, from Vahn’s own understanding of various laws, he was confident things would go well. As for Shizune herself, she was just excited to get the opportunity to increase her own strength by sharing a kiss with Vahn. Though she didn’t say it, and knew it likely wouldn’t work against him, Shizune thought she might be able to use this as justification to get more ‘benefits’ in the future. After all, if even the world treated her as an adult, why should Vahn continue treating her like a child? (A/N: RIP Shizune, she is so far gone…)

Though Shizune would have liked for it to last longer, Vahn only gave her a short kiss before pulling away with a smile. She furrowed her brows for a short moment before releasing a frustrated sigh when Vahn reached out and began to pet her head. It was annoying that his actions made her feel at ease, even though her heart wanted a little bit more from the boy she had started to care about very deeply. Though she had stabilized a great deal, the knowledge of her past was still fresh in Shizune’s mind and she wanted to use that same knowledge to get closer to Vahn. Part of her felt it was ‘necessary’ in order to make sure he didn’t abandon her, putting her in a similar state as Lili had been in the past. These thoughts would fade with time, but Shizune wasn’t so sure she wanted to forget them since she wanted Vahn to be satisfied with her…

Shizune’s [Pactio], Umbra Exhibitionem, ended up being one of the most peculiar amongst the various assortment of raiments and artifacts. It gave her what looked like a ninja outfit, including a mesh undersuit, long-sleeved black tunic, black trousers, and specialized tabi on her feet. Both wrists and ankles were bound with a strange cloth that looked almost metallic in structure but seemed to absorb the light and didn’t produce any sounds. Completing the outfit, Shizune had a red obi around her waist that had various animal patterns along the edges. This strange obi ended up being the actual form of her artifact and, when she explained its uses, even Vahn was awestruck…

According to Shizune, though she couldn’t demonstrate it just yet, she was able to kill almost anything, including animals, monsters, or even people, absorbing part of their essence to create ‘Shadow Summons’. Though they had some basic autonomy, Shizune could purportedly share senses with her summons, giving her exceptional combat potential and information gathering capabilities. If she could have a small army of insects or rodents to investigate areas that were too dangerous to venture into on her own, she could safely gather information without exposing herself. The most terrifying thing, however, which many people already realized, was that Shizune may one day even be able to have an army of Level 5-6 monsters at her beck and call. Depending on how powerful monsters got in the deeper floors, she may even have a few level 7s to add into the mix…

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