Chapter 714: Upon the Precipice

Vahn was awoken the next day by a very warm feeling spreading out across how abdomen, reaching the edges of his tunic and trailing down the sides of his body. It was a very peculiar feeling that he had never experienced before and, before he was able to make sense of its origin, a very pungent aroma reached his nostrils. Noticing it was 2:43 AM, Vahn peeled his eyes open, immediately understanding what had happened. He could see the drooling face of Erika hugging his body tightly with a face of pure relaxation and ‘release’ displayed. With a wry smile on his face, Vahn internally retorted, (“I never imagined a time when I would get peed on…she is going to be upset if I don’t fix this before she wakes up…”)

Knowing that it might compromise his time with Erika in the future, Vahn wanted to hide the evidence of her accident before she realized what happened. Fortunately, both she and Loki were both in a deep slumber, as neither had particularly been morning people. Vahn formed a small transparent ward in the air above Erika’s back and, after activating it, the ward began to shimmer slightly as a tingling feeling covered his body. The warmth was slowly ‘peeled’ away as little droplets of golden liquid formed into a stream that was absorbed by the aerial ward. Vahn was a little surprised by the volume and wondered why Erika would have had so much to drink before bed…

The tingling feeling wasn’t something unique to Vahn, as Erika also felt the strange sensation and began to wriggle about on his chest. Her tiny brows furrowed and it seemed like she would wake up at any moment, at least until Vahn gently stroked her back and helped her go back to sleep. Thus, without ever being aware of the embarrassing incident, Erika continued to sleep with a happy and contented smile on her face. As for Vahn, he just gently kissed his daughter’s forehead and began to think about matters of the previous night and the coming day.

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It was still a ways away from Hestia, but Loki’s Affection had jumped up to a staggering 849,037, putting her just behind Hephaestus, at 918,443. The numbers themselves were rather far apart, compared to how much Affection he had from some of the mortal girls, but Vahn understood that goddesses weren’t exactly normal. When Hephaestus and Loki had given birth, their Affection had jumped up several hundred thousand in an instant. Something similar had happened the first time he ‘melded’ with Hephaestus in the past, so Vahn wasn’t that surprised by the change at all. Still, being able to sense the strong bond he now shared with the adorable goddess to his left, Vahn couldn’t help but feel he had developed a soft spot for the lovable trickster…

A part of Vahn now wanted to ‘delay’ the matter with Lili and Naaza but, as he was the one to make the promise in the past, Vahn couldn’t do that to them. He knew he was just caught up in the moment and, much like other happy events, Vahn didn’t really want it to end. If not for the fact Loki had quite a few matters to take care of later, Vahn would have found it a lot more difficult to make this decision. That was the truth of the matter, so it was perhaps ‘fortunate’ that Loki had thrown all of her plans aside the previous day as a result of their union. Now, even if Vahn wanted to stay with her longer, his guilt for interfering with her matters forced him to make the ‘correct’ decision, keeping his promise to two other girls who loved him.

It was a strange thought, but Vahn began to consider how many girls he still had to ‘finalize’ things with before his relationships became ‘somewhat’ normal. Amongst the girls in the Manor, there were Lili and Naaza, who would officially become his lovers after today, Mikoto, who already considered herself to be involved with him, though they had never done the deed, and…Fenrir, Shizune, and Tina? Fenrir was definitely in the running, as Vahn would never be able to abandon his most loyal companion, but he still had some slight hesitation about Shizune and Tina. The former, because she pined after him while still looking far too young, and the latter because she was Milan’s daughter, while also being like a surrogate daughter to him…

Even so, Vahn didn’t intend to back down at all, as he wouldn’t be able to betray the girls that had placed their hopes, trust, and love in him. That left only girls like Risna being somewhat troublesome, but Vahn wasn’t too worried about her since she had never shown any ‘real’ signs of infatuation towards him. She was more so the type that just fantasized about things and, even now, her Affection fluctuated between the mid-to-late nineties. Something might happen between them in the future, but it could be several years down the line…or maybe not, with how she holed herself up inside the Sub-Space orb all the time.

As for girls outside of the Manor, Vahn had promises with both Eirene and Demeter, even though he didn’t spend too much time with the latter. Freya was an inevitability at this point and, if he actually took into consideration the girls at the Guild branch, there was also Rose. However, after making contact with Rose in the past, Vahn knew she didn’t actually harbor any feelings for him. Unless he took a more proactive approach, Rose was more like an associate than a potential love interest. And, though she was very attractive and exotic, Vahn didn’t want to just arbitrarily develop relationships with every woman he met. In fact, he promised himself that, after leaving this world, he would do his best to avoid developing long term relationships with anyone else.

Other than a few exceptions, such as Eva, Vahn wanted to avoid getting involved with too many girls, if it could be avoided. After all, that would increase the number of records he would have to link later on and Vahn didn’t think it was practical to put every world he visits into stasis. If he left behind children in a world where time hadn’t been frozen, Vahn would be far too stressed out. There was also the fact that, just imagining one day returning to the record of Danmachi with a host of girls, would be very embarrassing. Time wouldn’t have passed for anyone remaining inside the record and, as thousands of years might have passed, that could potentially mean dozens, if not hundreds, of girls would follow him back. Thus, Vahn decided to be more decisive and less ‘free’ in how he loved people…

Suddenly, a sleepy and adorable voice tickled his ears as Erika murmured, “Papa…” before giggling in a manner that made Vahn’s heart do backflips in chest. His children were another one of the reasons he decided not to get involved with too many people in other worlds. After all, if he decided to interact with characters important to the plot, many of them might actually be younger than his own children by then. Vahn didn’t care that much about the difference in age, at least when it came to girls like Riveria, Tsubaki, and Milan, but he didn’t want to become some cradle-robbing Grandpa. He knew that, with his capabilities, it wasn’t actually that difficult to get young women to fall for him, so Vahn simply decided to use his children as a mental ‘seal’ on his own heart and mind…

After spending a few hours enjoying the sight of his daughter’s sleeping face, it was eventually time to wake her up and prepare for the day. Erika was still very sleepy and, even though she knew it would be another embarrassing memory, she clung to her Papa like the koala she was dressed as while he walked her to the nearby bathroom. He helped her wash her face and, while she was brushing her teeth, brushed and styled her hair. Like Vana, Erika’s hair was very strange and it seemed to form into a natural ‘starburst’ shape at the back of her head. Many goddesses had unique and sometimes impossible hairstyles so Vahn wasn’t that surprised. He just helped her tie it up into an adorable star-shaped ponytail at the back of her head before helping her change into casual wear.

By the time he had finished helping Erika prepare for the day, she had resumed her bashful appearance with a slight blush as she said, “Thank you, Papa…” She had a habit of overthinking things so Vahn just ruffled her hair while Loki walked into the bathroom wearing nothing but a loose white tunic and panties. She trudged over to the sink, mumbling, “Good morning, you two…” before splashing her face with cold water. Vahn cast a casual glance at Loki’s pert rear before averting his eyes away and addressing Erika, “You have to work on waking up in the morning unless you want to become like your Mother~.” Erika had been watching her Mother’s behavior with a mixture of embarrassment and frustration so, when she heard her Papa’s words, she turned pale before exclaiming, “I don’t want to be like Mother…!”

Loki performed a spit take, giving her daughter a look as if she had just been grievously wronged. Vahn laughed, ruffling Erika’s hair in the process of saying, “Hey now, your Mother is an incredible woman. She works really hard for everyone’s happiness…” Loki nodded, giving a satisfied smile at Vahn’s praise until he continued, saying, “Though, I’ll admit, she is a little sloppy at a little ‘too unrestrained’ at times~.” This comment caused Loki’s shoulders to slump with Erika simply nodded her head in agreement, adding, “Mother is a very capable goddess…I want to be like her one day so that I can help Pa…everyone.”

Though she changed her words, both Loki and Vahn clearly understood what Erika was going to say before she caught herself. Understanding she hadn’t successfully diverted, Erika’s face became beet red. She grabbed her bag and shuffled to the door with a quick pitter-patter of footsteps, clearly trying to escape the room and hide her embarrassment. However, when Loki shouted out, “Hey, don’t forget to give your Papa a hug and a kiss! He is going to be busy today, so you might not see him until tomorrow~.” Erika’s hand stopped on the handle of the door. She held it there for a few seconds before lowering her head and running over into the already waiting Vahn. After giving him a firm hug, and hesitantly kissing his cheek, Erika mumbled, “I love you, Papa…” before running off a second time.

Vahn had a goofy smile on his face as he muttered in a voice he knew Erika would be able to hear, “I love you too, Erika, my precious and adorable daughter~.” The only thing Vahn got in response this time was Erika slamming the door as she ran down the corridor. When she rounded the corner, Vahn saw her sloop down to the ground and, though he couldn’t see her aura, he knew she was likely very embarrassed. At the same time, Loki released a loud yawn before commenting, “That girl is going to struggle to find a partner in the future. It’s probably both of our faults, but she has a big shadow in her heart, shaped like her Papa~.”

With a small nod, Vahn turned to Loki and walked up behind her before loosely wrapping his arms around her petite body and saying, “I have already thought about their future a lot, especially after learning about Ina’s ability. However, if it means the boy they choose is a kind and capable man, I don’t mind if my daughters have trouble finding a partner.” Vahn knew that, because he was so honest and kind with his children, their interactions with all people, especially males, would be slightly skewed.

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Young girls, especially those close with their father’s, had a tendency to compare other men to him. Since many men would look towards them with ‘greed’, ‘desire’, and ‘intent’, all while speaking false words and putting up pretenses, it would be very difficult for the girls to actually find partners. Unless it was a relatively pure, innately kind, or highly capable man, it wasn’t likely any of his daughters would settle down early on. Though Vana might be something of an exception to this, Vahn had an inkling that she also placed the least emphasis on such emotions. She seemed like the type that would be both quick to fall in, as well as out, of love. To ensure she wasn’t taken advantage of, Vahn didn’t mind playing the villain a bit…after all, he wouldn’t let his daughters become some prize to be won by men with ill intentions…

Seeing the expression on Vahn’s face through the mirror, Loki laughed mischievously and said, “I feel bad for any boys that actually try to date your children~.” Vahn blinked, coming back to his senses as he asked, “Oh, and you would just let some random man try to woo your darling daughter?” This time, Loki began laughing as if she had heard the most hilarious joke in the entire world. When she was done, there was a slightly cold light shining in her eyes as she said, “Our daughter isn’t the type that would be taken advantage of. If it is someone she chose, I believe they would be qualified to stand at her side…though, if anyone tries to force their way into her life…kukukuku…” Vahn felt a shiver run up his spine but the expression on his face showed him smiling…with a similarly cold light as Loki’s shining through his eyes.

By the end of a lively, albeit somewhat awkward breakfast, Vahn ended up venturing into a room he had only been to a few times in the past. His first impression was that it smelled very pleasant with a mixture of earth, herbs, and intermixing female fragrances. This made sense considering that it was the room shared by Lili and Naaza, both following closely behind him after they managed to extricate themselves from the larger group.

Without saying any directly, as there were children present, most of the girls during breakfast had given their encouragement to Lili and Naaza. As a result, Lili had already started breathing something heavily by the time they reached the bedroom. She had been looking forward to this moment for a very long time and, now that she stood upon the precipice of making her dream a reality, she could hardly contain herself. Naaza was taking things considerably better than expected, likely as a result of his care the previous day, but her flushed face told the truth of the matter.

From the moment she had been saved by Vahn in the past, Naaza had often thought about this day. She had previously wanted to become a capable woman that could stand at Vahn’s side proudly but, after so many things had happened, Naaza just wanted to be with the boy that had found his way into her heart. Capabilities didn’t truly matter when it came to things like love and, waiting as long as she did, Naaza also felt that her heart had become somewhat impatient. The moment she stepped into the room she shared with Lili, Naaza’s heart began to beat thunderously in her chest.

Feeling the giddiness of Lili, and the nervousness of Naaza, Vahn squeezed the hands of both girls and said, “I’ve kept the two of you waiting for quite a while…thank you for being patient with me.” Lili didn’t exactly seem patient, given how it looked like she was about to ‘attack’ him at any moment, but Naaza produced a small smile in response to his words. She moved her hand up to her hair, moving aside a few silky brown strands as she said, “It feels like my heart is going to break out of my chest…but I’m happy to be here. I never felt like I had ever truly thanked you for saving my life, so I intend to show you…my gratitude…now…” While she was speaking, Naaza became progressively redder and her tail had started wagging marginally faster. Vahn loved this trait of Chienthropes, as it made them exceptionally adorable and hard not to love…

Lili seemed to have been inspired by Naaza’s words, so she exclaimed, “I also wanted to show my gratitude! When you saved my life back then…I…” It had actually been a while since Lili thought about the past and, now that she recalled that incident, some of her fervor faded away. Instead, a gentle smile appeared on her face and her eyes began to water slightly as she said, “Even though it nearly cost you your own, you still saved my life. You got angry on my behalf and protect me, not just from those cruel men, but from my own self-destructive tendencies. Vahn, I will never be able to repay you for everything you’ve given me…not only did you save my life, but you also saved my heart and mind…now, I have friends I can truly believe in, lots of people I care about, a dream I’m striving towards, and a boy that I’m in love with…”

By the end of her words, Lili was squeezing his arm very tightly while tears trickled down her cheeks. In the past, she had been afraid that Vahn would eventually throw her away unless she could make herself useful. She had even been prepared to serve him with her body, all so that she could experience his kindness and warmth for a while longer before he inevitably left her, just like everyone else. However, Lili knew now that there had never been any chance of that happening from the start. True to the promise he had made to her back then, Vahn had never left her behind and had constantly pushed her forward. She had wanted to follow him, but they ended up in a situation where he supported her from behind, down a path of her own choosing. Now, the path she walked had brought her to the place she had wanted to be, not because of pity given to her, but because she had never given up and continued striving forward…

Naaza began to feel a little out of place because she hadn’t expected Lili to get so emotional so suddenly. When Vahn let go of her hand to hug Lili, Naaza felt strangely lonely until a warmth appeared at her side without her notice. Turning her head, she saw Vahn, the second Vahn, as he also hugged her tightly. It was a little strange, seeing the man she loved possessing two bodies, but Naaza knew they were both him, as hard as it was to wrap her head around. Knowing that he didn’t just set her aside to tend to Lili made Naaza’s momentary loneliness fade away, replaced, instead, by a gentle and pleasant warmth that slowly spread through her body…

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