After leaving the Manor, Vahn quickly made his way across the sky with Fenrir following close behind him. Today would be the last day for conducting the preliminary interviews so Vahn was looking forward to wrapping things up so he could begin his training. As for his worries about the Noble faction, and the Smiling Reaper, Vahn suddenly found that they seemed inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Right now, the girls weren’t haphazardly moving around and, regardless of how strong the Smiling Reaper was, it would be very difficult for her to target any of the girls directly. The fact she had been ‘scheming’ around him showed that the Nobles didn’t actually want to draw his attention and ire directly, as the potential consequences weren’t something easily shouldered.
Vahn speculated that her purpose had been to try and infiltrate the School and, now that she had failed, it was likely they would try to use other means instead. Given the nature of the Nobles, using their wealth and influence as leverage against other people, Vahn expected they would target his employees and their families. To avoid drawing attention, this would likely be through backroom dealings and agreements. It ultimately wouldn’t matter that much, as most of the ‘important’ teachings would be kept a closely guarded secret. Every student would be required to take a vow just to qualify for the class and all the other classes weren’t exactly something ‘proprietary’ to the School he was establishing.
If the Nobles decided to copy his example and teach the children similar lessons in a second School, that was their own prerogative. Thus, even if they ‘bought’ the loyalty of some of his future employees, it wouldn’t make a big difference with their system that vetted and evaluated the teachers every six months. If it was seen that the instructors were trying to exploit and scout the students for the Noble houses, they would be fired and replaced very expediently. This meant that, in order to be proper agents for the Nobles, the people they hired to steal information would still have to teach and mentor the students properly.
When Vahn and Fenrir arrived outside the cafe, there was already a small crowd of people that were grouped around, all waiting for the opportunity to be interviewed. Word had spread about the benefits offered so Vahn wasn’t surprised to see nearly a hundred people outside, comprised mostly of women and their children. Vahn knew that they were trying to play him a bit, as some of the children didn’t even look to be related to the women, but that was easily dealt with during the interview. He quickly gathered everyone and had them organize into an orderly queue, warning them not to stir up trouble and be patient if they wanted an opportunity to be interviewed. Those on the list he had would be prioritized, but there was plenty of time to go through a few dozen prospective employees from among the general populous.
After making his preparations, and enjoying a nice cup of coffee, Vahn began his last day of interviews on a high note since the person at the front of the line was someone that caught his eye instantly. Thus, when a rather diminutive looking young man walked into the room, possessing peculiar white hair and faded grey eyes, Vahn couldn’t help but smile as he said, “I didn’t expect a god would lower themselves to interview with a mortal.” Though they had never met before, Vahn rose to his feet and gave a slight bow to the youthful god.
With an amused expression, the god began to chuckle in a somewhat raspy manner before saying in a strangely mature voice, “There is no need for formalities, young Sage. I have come here at the behest of my sworn-sister, Amaterasu. It seems you have some fate with the Far East and, to ensure there will be no ill-will between our people, I have come to observe and make peace with you.” At the end of his words, the youthful look god bowed slightly lower than Vahn himself, a sign of respect that would have made most people feel very awkward. However, having dealt with Takemikazuchi in the past, Vahn was somewhat used to the gods of the Far East being very polite.
Even so, Vahn was still surprised to learn that this god had traveled all the way from the Far East at the behest of a goddess he had yet to meet. His knowledge of Amaterasu showed that she was a very influential goddess in the Eastern Pantheon so it meant a great deal for her to send an ‘envoy’ of sorts such a great distance. For the time being, he decided to get a better understanding of the situation by saying, “I have no enmity towards anyone that hasn’t taken unnecessary action against myself and my family. If you only came here at the behest of your sister-goddess, please tell her not to worry. So long as they don’t give me a reason, I will never go out of my way to stir up trouble with other people…”
To this, the god began to laugh once again, seemingly finding Vahn’s words amusing. Walking over to the chair, he sat down and said, “Well, I’m afraid some things cannot be avoided so easily. I’m aware there are several young women surrounding you that have roots in the Far East. With your nature, I’m certain you will one day go to the Far East on their behalf. When that time comes, I fear you will not be so tolerant with your words and actions…”
Vahn raised his brow, surprised by the yet unnamed god’s words. He seemed very sure of the matter and, after considering the pasts of girls like Haruhime and Shizune, Vahn couldn’t help but agree that he would likely take action at some point. Haruhime would one day want to visit the grave of her mother and, though Shizune had been less ‘focused’ on vengeance, that would likely change if she actually found the group responsible for her torment. Vahn also knew that Inari resided in the Far East and, knowing how she had influenced their culture in such a negative way, Vahn would likely have some conflict with her followers.
As if seeing through Vahn’s thoughts, the god smiled with an amused light in his eyes as he said, “It seems you have some awareness, that’s very good…I hope you will show that same level of insight when it comes to actually making decisions in the moment. Remember, young Sage, the actions you take in an instant have far-reaching consequences. Just as you put in so much effort and planning for the decisions you’re making right now, you should also carefully consider your actions during tense and strenuous moments.”
Hearing this, Vahn took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose before waving in a dismissive gesture that surprised the ‘young’ god. Vahn was still riding the momentum of his earlier decision ‘not’ to worry about such things so he said, “Listen…what was your name?” The god, still showing a small amount of surprise on his face plainly stated, “Tenjin.” Vahn gave a curt nod before continuing, “Okay, Tenjin, I’ll be straight with you. This world isn’t exactly a pleasant place and, regardless of how much it might upset those that cling to power, I am determined to change it. Don’t worry, force isn’t the method I have chosen, as that will only perpetuate a pointless cycle of hatred. The only time I take a hard stance is when people threaten my family, my friends, and those I’ve sworn to protect. If there is to be a conflict between myself and the Far East in the future, it will be because someone from your side instigates it. The only other reason would be that things are so horribly corrupt that I’m ‘forced’ to take action as a result of being unable to tolerate selfish people oppressing others for their own gains…if you have a problem with that, then you ‘created’ a problem with me.”
At this point, Tenjin’s brows were raised high with a very surprised expression on his face. Then, against Vahn’s expectations, he began to laugh uninhibitedly while striking his knee. It was Vahn’s turn to be confused until Tenjin said, “Amaterasu was right about you, young Sage. You see, she isn’t fond of how things had turned after Inari, Hachiman, and Ryujin descended to the mortal world. When you visit the Far East in the future, you will likely have to contend with those three fools…our only wish is that you show leniency towards the people. After all, it is not exclusively the fault of mortals to have become the pawns of wayward gods and goddesses…the lure of power and influence are powerful tools of control…”
Hearing this, Vahn couldn’t help but furrow his brows slightly, agreeing with Tenjin’s words but also finding them somewhat flawed. Yes, while gods could certainly give power to people, it was still the decision of those people to accept the power. Though many people may fall into the illusion that they have no choice but to bow to the people with a stronger fist, those at the top typically wielded such power willingly. Many of the clans willingly followed goddesses like Inari and, under her influence, reigned over the people with strict and unfair regulations. It was the same all of the world, just a bunch of people that came into power in the past and now rely on oppression and unjust regulation to keep that power. They feared progress and ‘desperately’ fought to eliminate any competition for fear of losing their comfortable and exploitative lifestyles.
Now, though he hadn’t really been considering dealing with the Far East any time soon, Vahn suddenly felt a sense of righteous indignation towards flawed systems that had made victims of girls like Haruhime, Shizune, and Tsubaki’s mother, Sakuya. However, he felt the same way about many of the systems in other countries, including Orario itself. Unless he went on a tirade and forcefully brought about change, Vahn’s only option was to continue along his current path.
It was difficult knowing that he had the power to bring ‘fast’ change, but couldn’t easily make use of it without feeing into a larger problem later on. With the power vacuum caused by his actions, a great many people would die as various groups fought to gain power and influence for themselves. The only real ‘solution’ was to either put people into power in those regions, much like how he had done in the Divination, or to enable the people from the country itself to seize power. Just as he was doing with the School, Vahn could empower a few honest and capable youths, groom them into strong and righteous leaders, and then allow them to lead their people towards a better future. Such revolutions would undoubtedly be bloody, but there wouldn’t be a power vacuum and, at least for a time, things would certainly improve with the introduction of positive leadership.
Realizing this, Vahn had an interesting thought so he asked, “Tenjin…you came here from the Far East, correct?” Tenjin nodded his head, a small smile appearing on his face that communicated a great deal of information to Vahn. He realized that this god before him, or perhaps Amaterasu herself, had a very similar idea to what had just crossed Vahn’s mind. To make sure they were on the same page, Vahn asked, “So, you must have come with a trade caravan, or with the escort of a Familia…?”
Tenjin, still smiling, shook his head before saying somewhat exasperatedly, “Unfortunately, I had only descended to the mortal world a few months ago. It was only by the grace of my sworn-sister that I was able to make the journey from the Far East to this beautiful land of Eden. To ensure I would be well protected, she sent several samurai to accompany me. However, as the journey would be very long, many of the warriors that came with me brought along their families and would like to settle within the City one day. Currently, we’ve made camp to the south-east and have started constructing a small village…haaaa, it isn’t easy coming to an unfamiliar land, much less make it a home. I’m certain some of the children would one day want to return to their home country…”
For several seconds, there was silence within the room as Vahn and Tenjin held eye contact with each other. Then, as if on an agreed upon cue, they both started laughing in a free and unrestrained manner. Several seconds later, Vahn smiled and said, “It seems your sworn-sister is a very wise goddess. Very well, Tenjin, I’ll play my part and help bring peace to the Far East, even if it take a generation or two. Those warriors of yours would likely benefit from employment within the City and I have a few things in mind to make their transition easier. A friend of mine, a god by the name of Takemikazuchi, could use capable warriors within his Familia. They will be able to become Adventurers and take missions in the Dungeon to earn income. As for their children, I imagine it isn’t easy for them to move such a vast distance while being so young. To help them adapt to the various cultures of the Continent, why not have them attend the School? As long as they work hard in their studies, their tuition and board will be taken care of.”
Tenjin’s smile was very wide at this point as he stroked a nonexistent beard on his youthful face. He put on a show of seriously considering the offer before finally nodding his head and saying, “I had only intended to offer my services as a teacher at your School but, hearing you make such a kind offer, I can’t help but accept it. Your reputation as a benevolent and wise Sage is well-earned, Vahn Mason…you have this god’s sincere gratitude.” This time, Tenjin bowed low enough that his head nearly struck against the hardwood table in front of him. Vahn rose to his feet, helping Tenjin stand before patting his shoulder and guiding him to the door.
Their discussion had gone on much longer than expected and there were still numerous things for both of them to attend to. Vahn gave Tenjin a small slip for identification purposes and sent a telepathic message to Syr while writing the finer details into his network logbook. Tenjin would have to discuss the specifics of their arrangement with Loki and Takemikazuchi before anything was set in stone. Still, Vahn didn’t think there would be any problems and, judging by the fact that Tenjin’s Affection was 78(Respect), his impression of the youthful-looking god was quite high. However, this changed slightly when that same god turned to him at the door and said, “My sworn-sister is looking forward to meeting you one day, Vahn Mason. You should know…well, I’ll leave that for you to learn on your own~.”
For the rest of the day, Vahn continued interviewing prospective teachers and staff while thinking about Tenjin’s words. Amaterasu was one of the three most influential gods in the Eastern Pantheon, with Susanoo and Tsukuyomi her equals. Above her, only the primordial deity, Amenominakanushi, had any greater significance to the devout of the Far East. Vahn was curious about what kind of person she was and, with Tenjin’s enigmatic words, he was also a little nervous. In the Divination, his counterpart had come into contact with Inari and ‘forced’ change to take place. This time, however, things weren’t likely to develop in a similar manner. Vahn wasn’t sure if he met Amaterasu in the Divination, but she would certainly play a larger role this time around…
By the time he was wrapping up the interviews, Vahn had decided to see if he could get more information about the various gods of the Far East through Loki’s connections. Her information network extended through both Heaven and the Mortal World. Vahn was confident she would be able to find out more information, including anything related to Amaterasu and any quirks the goddess might have. Given her power and authority, she had to be a first generation goddess like Hestia so Vahn knew she couldn’t be a ‘normal’ goddess by any means. If she turned out to be another 540 million-year-old virgin, Vahn swore in his heart he would try to avoid entering into a relationship with her. Even now, the legendary ‘clamp’ of Hestia was something that would sneak its way into his thoughts at times…
While he was lost in thought, Fenrir poked his cheek with the paw pad of her index finger and said, “Master is thinking about lewd things…we should hurry home.” Vahn was certain it hadn’t shown on his face but, remembering his connection with Fenrir, he wasn’t too surprised she had seen through him. This thought actually caused him to remember another girl he had a very powerful bond with though and, just as that thought crossed his mind, Vahn suddenly found the image of a smiling Hestia pervading his thoughts. The tensions in his body began to increase as a heat bubbled up in his abdomen. Nodding his head towards Fenrir, Vahn smiled and said, “Let’s go home…”