Chapter 723: Filial Piety

After waiting for a few days, it didn’t seem like Zeus wasn’t going to try anything. His reputation had been torn to shreds by the general populace, not that he had been popular from the start, and Vahn’s own had increased greatly. It seemed like all the most interesting things to talk about recently revolved around the Alliance, the Supply Depot, Lil Geirr, and the matters of the Hearth manor itself. Many Familia that had been hesitant about throwing their lot in with the Alliance had slowly been coming around, especially the smaller production Familias.

To fill out the Alliance controlled territory with their own forces, many of the smaller Familia has been shown favorable treatment and, as there was a ‘seemingly endless’ amount of materials flowing out of the Alliance, it made their professions highly profitable. After all, if you could exchange Drop Items from weak monsters to obtain rare materials that could only be gotten in the lower floors, anyone would be willing. This allowed the weaker Familia, who didn’t want to send their ‘children’ into the Lower Floors, the opportunity to stay afloat within the Alliance-controlled territory.

It was ‘well-known’ that Vahn had an appreciation for both the trades and the arts, as they were ‘required’ classes in his School, so he was very popular with small Familia’s that made their livings off creating items and providing logistical support to other Adventurers. Some saw this as a ploy by the Alliance to just garner support in the interim and, once things settled down, the ‘true face’ of the Alliance would be shown. These rumors were circulated almost exclusively by the Noble factions, however, so there weren’t too many Familia that took them seriously. The general populous might be easily manipulated, but even the youngest gods usually had more than a hundred million years to their name.

The godly community was a relatively close-knit group and they were very aware that the Alliance wasn’t simply trying to exploit people for temporary benefits. It was actually the complete opposite, as could be seen by the various long-term projects that had been set in motion by the Alliance. You didn’t make things like Schools, build up communities, support small businesses, and strictly regulate the policies of your group if you just had a short-term plan. Anyone with a good head on their shoulders could see that, if the Alliance wasn’t stopped soon, they would undoubtedly be the decision-makers of the City, in a very short period of time. This was one of the things that terrified the Nobles, especially since the Guild had shown no signs of even trying to oppose the Alliance’s power grab.

And, at the center of everything, the one person that was on everyone’s mind, Vahn Mason…he was currently having his hair styled by his daughter, the Vanir, Ina. The man everyone saw as the mastermind behind everything, the reputed Sage Aldrnari, had a silly smile on his face while watching his daughter play around with his hair to her satisfaction. This was an image that few could even imagine and, though it was generally well-known that Vahn was a very doting father, people would have been gobsmacked to see the extent he went to in order to make his children happy.

After styling part of her Papa’s hair into a mohawk, with seventeen tiny pigtails located over the rest of his scalp, Ina giggled happily and said, “Papa looks cool like this~.” If he had been back in his previous world, and knew what punk was, Vahn would have had the impression he looked like the frontman of an edgy band. Without this knowledge, he just saw his current appearance as one of the various quirks of his adorable young daughter, now wearing her own hair in a ‘unique’ fashion. Of course, as Vahn had been the one to style it for her, it looked neat and professionally done, at least compared to the rather interesting style she had concocted for him.

Ina’s hair looked elegant and tidy from the front, with two neat braids tying around to the back of her head. When you looked at her from behind, however, you could see that the hair was arranged in a complex pattern that formed into a braided ponytail that had seven unique segments intertwined together like a mesh weave. It had taken him almost two hours to style her hair until she was satisfied with the final appearance, not that he felt like the time wasn’t well spent. Ina’s smile was so impactful that Vahn actually believed she had an Innate ability to amplify the effect. He wasn’t the only one either, as many of the girls actually talked about it on the network as they all tried hard to make Ina smile when they could.

While Ina had started to change parts of his hairstyle that she thought weren’t up to standards, Vahn was also sitting in another room with Syr, Ryuu, Arnya, Lunoire, and Chloe. The entire Hostess of Fertility group was present, excluding the temporary staff like Milan, Tina, and Shizune, and they were talking about refurnishing the Hostess of Fertility, still located opposite the main gate. Mama Mia, no longer having to look over the five girls she had been worried about, ended up ‘retiring’ from her position as Proprietress and now managed the ‘chain’ known as the Hostess of Fertility. They now had three locations within the Alliance-controlled territory and one located within Melen, maintaining their affiliation with the Njord Familia. The god, Njord, had been the one to look after Chloe in the past and he had an amicable relationship with Mama Mia herself.

Wrapping up her request, Syr smiled lightly and implored Vahn with a slight plea to her voice, “Ano…would you please consider giving Mama Mia a loan so that she can increase the wages of the pub’s employees and refurbish some of the properties…?” At the same time, Ryuu, Arnya, Lunoire, and Chloe all had ‘pleading’ looks on their faces but, much like Syr herself, Vahn could see the playful glint in their eyes.

Though it wasn’t quite the case, Mama Mia was essentially his Mother-In-Law, having entrusted to him her five ‘daughters’, two of which he had already knocked up. If he didn’t help her out on such a simple matter, Vahn would have felt like he had betrayed her somehow. It helped that he was also a billionaire, so Vahn put on a casual smile and said, “Of course. Mama Mia did a lot for me in the past; if I can’t do this much, I would have treated her kindness with contempt.” Then, making eye contact with Syr, Vahn’s smile became marginally larger as he asked, “I trust you already prepared the paperwork~?”

Syr stuck her tongue out at him before pulling a small folder out of the book bag she kept her ‘various’ network logbooks and communication scrolls in. She passed over the folder to Vahn, who readily accepted it and began to peruse the contents of the contract. It was a larger sum than he expected, but 2MV didn’t even put a dent in his personal net worth, now exceeding 5BV. Vahn quickly penned his name at the bottom of the document and then, using the seal that Hephaestus had given him, stamped a magical seal to validate the signature was his own.

Though it might not look like it, the small seal he used to stamp his signature was an S-Grade magical artifact that Hephaestus had given to him shortly after their wedding night. On the surface, it had his own personal emblem as the representative of the alliance and was surrounded with five petals, each indicating the five original Familia. To give the seal power, it was mixed with, not only his ichor, but that of Hestia, Loki, and Hephaestus. Since it had the effect of serving as a minor vow, it was completely impossible to replicate and, attempting to do so, could actually cause a backlash on the culprit. Any document approved by him, as the representative of the Alliance, needed to be stamped by the seal to have any credibility.

Syr happily accepted the contract from Vahn, smiling lovingly towards him as she said, “Thank you, Vahn~.” in a subtly sultry voice. Vahn lightly chuckled in response, looking around at the gathered girls as he said, “Visiting the Hostess of Fertility has always been one the greatest fortunes in my life. This is the least I can do to express my gratitude…” His words earned laughter and smiles from all the girls, especially Chloe and Arnya, both prone to bouts of laughter even in serious situations. The latter was currently holding the tiny Meinya in her arms, however, so, when she began laughing loudly, the adorable little kitten began to show a face of frustration before crying loudly.

Silence immediately descended upon the room as Arnya gently rocked Meinya in her arms, soothingly saying, “Shhhh…it’s okay…everything is fine…Mama is here…” Seemingly unconvinced by her mother’s comforting words, Meinya continued to cry, voice filled with a great deal of vitality and an incredibly adorable intonation. To Vahn, Meinya’s and Anise’s cries were almost like music to his ears because they were like high pitched ‘Nyaaaaa-‘ and ‘Miau’ sounds, causing his stomach to feel fluttery. Of course, he wouldn’t just stand there and listen to his daughter crying, regardless of how cute it sounded.

Walking to Arnya’s side, she gave him a pouting look while maneuvering to ‘shield’ Meinya from him as she said, “Nyo! Let me do it, nya!” Vahn immediately turned statuesque, earning laughter from Syr, Lunoire, and Chloe as the latter commented, “Nyahaha, Papa got given the cold shoulder~.” Syr, still lightly chuckling, added, “Well, I can understand Arnya’s concerns. Its hard to be a good mother when the Papa is so ‘exceptional’. At this rate, Vahn will tame all his daughters and make it almost impossible for them to ever leave the Manor…ara, could that have been your scheme~? How sneaky, Vahn…”

Though he knew they were just teasing him, Vahn felt like he was taking mental damage with each of their comments. The fact that Arnya had stepped away from him to soothe Meinya had dealt an especially critical blow. However, it was when Lunoire suddenly muttered, “I’ll have to take make sure I give birth to a son…how troubling…” that Vahn took the most damage. His reaction earned another round of laughter from the girls but, as a result, Meinya began to cry even louder. Arnya looked towards them with furrowed brows as her tails flitted about in a frustrated manner. Vahn found her appearance to be cute but the ‘cold’ look in her eyes had silenced the other girls.

Using the small ‘gap’ created, Vahn slightly twitched his index finger and began to infuse a thread of calming energy into his domain. Very sneakily, so as to avoid detection, he sent the thread into the crying Meinya’s body while still showing a defeated expression. When Arnya went back to trying to soothe her daughter, Vahn sent gentle pulses of energy through the thread that quickly made the crying infant calm down. This brought a radiant smile to Arnya’s face as she looked towards the girls before resting her eyes on Vahn and saying, “See, I can do it too, nyahaha~.”

Vahn smiled, giving Arnya a small nod as he said, “Of course, after all, you’re a fine woman, and an even more capable mother…” Arnya’s cheeks flushed slightly and, much like Syr had done previously, she stuck her tongue out before turning away. However, this allowed everyone in the room to see her tail flickering happily though, remembering the previous two incidents, nobody laughed. This didn’t stop Chloe from taking advantage of the situation, though, as she came over to Vahn’s side and clung to his arm while whispering, “Would I make a good mommy too, Vahnyaa~?”

Without any hesitation at all, Vahn nodded, wrapping his arm around Chloe’s waist as he responded, “Almost since the time of our first meeting, I always thought you were an amazing girl, Chloe. You’re already so good with children, so you would make an excellent mother…” Chloe’s eyes widened marginally as a result of his words and there was a very thin layer of moisture building up on her green irises. Still, she managed to silently inhale a deep breath through her nose before simply resting her head into the nook of his neck and shoulder. Chloe didn’t want to develop a habit of crying every time Vahn said something that caused her heart to tremble, so she just decided to show her affection instead…

Ryuu, who had been silently sitting on the sofa, noticed the mood was becoming a bit pink so she lightly teased, “If you’re going to get intimate, go into another room…show some consideration…” Even though she was giving what sounded like a reprimand, Ryuu had a gentle smile on her face, currently framed by a few curls of her golden hair. The light green she used to dye it had completely faded by now and, as a result of her pregnancy, Ryuu had developed a softer and more mature look. To her lamentation, her breasts hadn’t grown that much but the round belly showed that she was very nearly ready to bring a child of her own into the world.

Chloe laughed silently and gave Vahn a small lick on his chin before breaking away from him and saying, “I actually have something else to take care of right now, so I’ll be heading back to the orb. If you want to do something later though…nyufufu~” Chloe’s tail flickered playfully as she grabbed Lunoire’s hand and dragged her out of the room. They had come into the real world just to show support for Mama Mia so, now that everything was taken care of, they needed to return to the Sub-Space orb. Shizune was at an important stage of their training and she and Lunoire had both been looking after her to give Shizune a more balanced skill set. Her main weakness was her physical body, so Lunoire had been helping train her since the other girls were a bit ‘too intense’ in their training regimens.

Vahn watched the two girls leave and decided he would definitely make an appearance in the orb later. He spent a large portion of his time in the real world, but he had been getting better at splitting his focus lately. Though he would have to take breaks periodically, he could even tolerate the mental strain of using one of his bodies inside of the orb while the other remained outside now. Since he had always had a basic affinity with Time and Space, Vahn had been adapting much faster than he initially expected. It would still take time, but the dilation effect within the orb gave him a lot more than he would have otherwise had. If he could get to the point where one of his bodies could always stay inside the orb, he would simultaneously be able to spend a year in the real world while six years passed inside the orb…

From the corner of his eye, Vahn suddenly saw Arnya pull down the top of her thin white blouse to begin feeding Meinya. His eyes flickered over towards the exposed breast, a reaction that had been noted by Syr, Ryuu, and, being the target of his gaze, Arnya. She gave a light snort before playfully saying, “This isn’t for you, nyahaha~.” He had been getting better at controlling his emotions lately, but Vahn still blushed when he heard Arnya’s words. In truth, after watching so many girls breastfeeding, Vahn couldn’t help but feel slightly curious. However, the first person to tease him about it had been Juno, which had unnerved Vahn to the point where he never sought to sate his curiosity.

Scratching the back of his head, Vahn gave a wry smile and said…nothing. He didn’t really know what to say in such a situation since he didn’t have the habit of lying to the girls. They would easily be able to see through him, unlike the people he would negotiate with on behalf of the Alliance. It was fortunate that Syr deigned to take pity on him at this time, as Vahn was starting to feel strangely guilty about his ‘unnatural’ curiosity. She grabbed his hand and pulled him over to where Ryuu was seated, allowing him to sit down on the soft sofa next to her. Ryuu didn’t move much on her own lately, especially if they were big movements, or she would have gone to Vahn’s side earlier.

After lightly stroking his hair, Syr gave a comforting smile and said, “Stay with Ryuu for a bit. I’m sure she would enjoy your company~.” At the same time, Arnya was hanging her head slightly and, after matching gazes with Syr, sighed before following her out of the room. There were certain things that would trigger Vahn these days and, even though she had just been playing around, his reaction showed that he had been overthinking that subject lately. They all knew he almost ‘couldn’t’ lie to them so, if he was in a situation where he would have to say something very shameful, Vahn would just freeze up. It was another reminder to them that, though Vahn was an incredible father, a capable figurehead for the Alliance, and a powerful warrior…he was still, very recently, just a broken boy.

Syr and Arnya left the room behind rather quickly, leaving only Vahn and Ryuu within the silent room that had previously had a lively atmosphere. As he was prone to do, Vahn loosely held Ryuu’s body and rubbed her belly while she rested against him. Vahn himself knew he had just made things awkward but he actually preferred this situation over developing a habit of lying to the girls. It was one of the quirks he was trying to work through recently but, as he was currently split between two bodies, it was a little hard to deal with complex emotions like this in such a setting. If it had been ‘just’ him, Vahn would have been able to laugh it off more easily, instead of letting the thoughts run rampant in his head…

Ryuu, who had been relaxing against his chest while watching Vahn’s hands trace around her abdomen, suddenly raised her head. Vahn looked down into her sky-blue eyes and noticed that her face had started to turn progressively redder as she meekly said, “I don’t have much…but, at least until our daughter is born, you can…use my milk…?” Hearing Ryuu’s statement, which sounded like a question, Vahn mechanically nodded his head before looking up at the ceiling. He had a distant look in his eyes as he slowly processed what Ryuu had just said, words he never expected to ever leave her lips.

Yes, she had changed a lot over the duration of her pregnancy, but this was an ‘advanced’ development he had never expected. If it was someone else, he would have just simply accepted it as them teasing him but, coming from Ryuu, Vahn knew she was absolutely serious. Thus, though a large part of him was somewhat resistant to the idea, he eventually turned back to match her wavering eyes and said, “Thank you…Ryuu…” Then, in the relative privacy of the study they shared together, Vahn partook of the opportunity Ryuu had provided him, satiating his curiosity and seeing another side of Ryuu, this one possessing various shades of red…

Feeling the light slap against his face, Vahn blinked, shook his head slightly, and then made eye contact with Ina as she repeated, “Papa?” The ‘event’ happening in the other room had caused Vahn to stall momentarily and his eyes had glazed over slightly, causing Ina to worry as she lightly pat his face with her tiny hands. Vahn smiled, patting his daughter’s head as he said, “Sorry, Papa was just a bit distracted. You know how I can be when I’m using two bodies. Here, let me make it up to you~.” Without waiting for her response, Vahn began to lightly tickle Ina’s sides as she began giggling and trying to escape his clutches.

At the side, her Celestial White Tiger, Kuu, lifted its head out of curiosity and, seeing the familiar scene of its host and her ‘Papa’ playing, it simply set its head back down. It was now the size of an average adult tiger, but this was still its juvenile phase as it wouldn’t reach maturity until Ina was fully grown. Still, much like its host, Kuu had grown a lot both physically and mentally within the last seven months. It knew now that the ‘Papa’ that its host always played with wasn’t dangerous and, though it would never admit it, far more capable of protecting its host than Kuu itself. Thus, instead of wasting energy by trying to ‘protect’ its host from her Papa, Kuu just went back to sleep, allowing the rays of the sun shining through the room to warm the black and white fur of its body…

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