Even ignoring the fact he was spending nearly ten days worth of time within a single day, time always seemed to pass both slowly, and very quickly at the same time. It could have been the result of his shifting perception, from controlling two bodies, but Vahn suddenly found himself in the delivery ward once again, this time staring into down at the form of his son with a complacent and proud smile on his face. He seemed incredibly healthy, practically radiating a powerful aura of ‘life’ from his body that had a soothing effect on everyone present, including the exhausted Riveria.
Much like Ryuu, she had been in labor for quite a long time, taking a little more than fifteen hours before finally releasing a profoundly relieved sigh. She was currently resting her head against the stack of pillows supporting her body, patiently waiting for her son to be handed over to her. Vahn, however, knew she wasn’t actually as ‘patient’ as she was letting on so, after handing over the jade-haired little High Elf to Preasia to be cleaned, he wiped down his hands and then carried the form of his young son to her side. When she opened her eyes, Riveria’s jade-green irises were wavering slightly and it almost seemed like she would burst into tears at any moment.
After passing over his son into the waiting arms of his mother, Vahn ran his fingers through Riveria’s long jade-green hair, a gentle smile on his face as she looked down at their son with expressions of awe and love fighting for dominance over her generally noble and elegant countenance. However, no matter how close she seemed appeared to get, Riveria managed to avoid shedding tears outright and, but for a few lone crystal clear drops, the only thing present on her face was a beautiful smile, practically glowing within the well-lit and warm room. She gingerly reached out to touch their sons face with her fingers, almost as if she couldn’t quite believe he was real, before saying, “I hope he is always so well behaved…fuuuu…”
Vahn released a light chuckle, understanding Riveria’s meaning since their son had only cried out for a very short moment earlier before quickly calming down. Now, he just lay his mother’s arms while showing a variety of facial expressions, almost as if he were trying to learn how to control his facial muscles. Every now and then, jade-green eyes would appear as the young High Elf struggled to open his eyes. They were slightly lighter than Riveria’s, but it was very obvious that he had inherited her characteristic hair and eye color, essentially shouting out to the entire world that he was the inheritor to the Ljos Alf bloodline.
With a bit of hesitation, Riveria suddenly asked, “Is it really okay to name him…Vahn…I…” Shaking his head slightly, Vahn just continued to stroke Riveria’s hair as he said, “It is only a name. Regardless of what my children are called, I will care and love for them to the best of my ability. This is my pride as a father, the honor I have been blessed with by surrounding myself with so many beautiful and capable women…”
Riveria inhaled a deep breath, fighting the tingling feeling in her nose that seemed to cause moisture to build up in her eyes. Swallowing the knot in her throat, she did her best to produce a smile, an act made easier when she saw her son energetically moving about. In the soft and elegant voice she generally only reserved for the people she was closest to, Riveria gently hugged the body of her son and said, “From now on, your name will be Masonia Ljos Alf…even though this name may become your burden one day, your father and I will always support you…” Leaning down, Riveria kissed the forehead of their son, Masonia, this time liberating a few more of her tears as Vahn’s body visibly tilted a few degrees to the right…
//Optional Quest Complete//[Quest: A Man’s Responsibility]
Completion Grade: S
Rewards: 100,000 OP, 1x[Guardian:(Nameless)]
Grade Rewards: 1x[Spirit-Jade of Yggdrasil], 500,000 OP[Spirit-Jade of Yggdrasil]
Use: A pendant that radiates with seemingly endless vitality, nourishing the body and mind of the wearer. Helps to calm the minds of both the user and those within the immediate vicinity. Has a self-concealing ability when worn, making the powerful vital energy appear to originate from the wearer, not the pendant.
Soulbound: Masonia Ljos Alf
She hadn’t noticed it immediately, as she was too focused on Masonia, but Riveria eventually turned her eyes to Vahn, momentary confusion flashing across her jade-green irises. Vahn habitually produced a smile before regaining his composure and saying, “Sorry, my ability had kicked in while I was looking at our son…” Reaching out his hand, Vahn produced the [Spirit-Jade of Yggdrasil], surprising both Riveria and himself with how powerful the aura radiating off the small emerald-green pendant was. At the same time, a complex and indecipherable magic circle appeared, causing a gentle light to spread through the ward as the form of Masonia’s Guardian took shape.
Everyone present in the room watched as the light slowly coalesced into a rather small form and, as the light began to fade, Vahn had already moved his arms to snatch it out of the air before an accident occurred. Within his arms, much to the incredulity of everyone that hadn’t witnessed the formation of Doppel, there was now a brown-skinned infant girl with similarly jade green hair to Riveria and Masonia. When she opened her eyes, however, they were a vibrant pink and, the moment she saw Vahn, vines began to sprout from her body, coiling around his arms as she giggled happily.
From the bed, Riveria was absentmindedly staring at the figure in Vahn’s hands, a whisper of disbelief escaping her lips as she asked, “A Dryad…?” Though she had asked the question to no one in particular, Vahn smiled in response and said, “This is Masonia’s Guardian, the immortal companion who will protect him from harm. She isn’t a Dryad though, not that it would be incorrect to call her one…she is a Meliai Dryad Queen, a nymph of the World Tree, Yggdrasil…” Considering the path his son would walk in the future, Vahn wasn’t surprised that his Guardian would be a ‘Queen’. Since it had a clearly defined gender, Vahn just hoped that they exercised a sense of propriety in the future. He would need to make sure his son didn’t have the same curious nature Vahn himself had in his youth…
Bringing the young Dryad Queen over to the bed, she immediately ‘ignored’ him and happily ‘lunged’ towards Masonia, turning into jade-green light as she entered into his body. Masonia released a laugh of his own, breaking Riveria from her stupor as a gentle smile spread across her face. She knew how incredible an existence Yggdrasil was so, hearing that her son had one of the protector spirits of the World Tree, Riveria had been very surprised. However, knowing that such a powerful entity would be protecting her son, she felt a great deal of relief, even though she shared some of the same concerns as Vahn. She would have to be strict with Masonia in the future to prevent the young High Elf from acting without restraint…
With the reminder of Hestia, Riveria finally started to give Masonia his first meal, embarrassing the ‘young’ mother for having forgotten something so important. Soon after, Masonia finally went to sleep with a contented expression on his pristine white face. After that, Riveria was also feeling greatly fatigued and, now that the tensions in her body had started to release, it was important for her to get some rest of her own. Vahn, as he ought to do, stayed at her side throughout the night, simply watching over the two of them before, as was also common in this scenario, he accepted Hestia’s offer of a lap pillow.
The birth of Masonia had occurred only three days before the coming Monster Feria, which had turned into a much larger event after the Alliance started campaigning and advertising the event throughout the city. Things had gotten so out of hand that the schedule had been extended to encompass a five-day period, as the number of people that had wanted to attend was several times more than in the past. One of the reasons for this was, unlike previous Monster Ferias, there would actually be an event that the spectators could participate in. This wouldn’t have mattered to most people but, as there was a 1,000,000,000V prize offered, the entire city was in an uproar.
Vahn had decided to use the Monster Feria as a platform to put on a public demonstration of his base power, both to increase his fame and deter future enemies from trying to find trouble with him. Since Zeus, Hera, Siegfried, and Jeanne had already seen him reveal some of his cards, there wasn’t any great benefit in keeping his basic abilities a secret from the public. Though it might pull some powerful warriors out of the woodwork, this wasn’t exactly a bad thing since it would allow him to polish his skills further and, in some cases, potentially recruit combat instructors to teach at the School and Academy. As for the monstrous prize pool, Vahn had more than 8BV to his name and he rarely had a use for it these days…
Regardless, that wasn’t really the matter that was chief amongst Vahn’s concerns at the moment since Riveria had sent a missive to the Elven Kingdom to inform her father, the Elven King, that her ‘son’ had been born. As if there weren’t more than a 6,000km distance between the Elven Kingdom and Orario, a small procession had been allowed through the blockade of the Western Forest and had now arrived within the City. This procession was for none other than Riveria’s father, Larfal Ljos Alf, supposedly acting as an envoy for peace. To show his sincere desire to bring the ongoing conflict to an end, Larfal had left the Elven Kingdom for the first time, coming to the heart of the Alliance to ‘negotiate’. Those in the know, however, knew he had just come to see his daughter and grandson, with a special interest directed towards the latter.
While awaiting the arrival of his father-in-law, Vahn’s mind wandered back to two days prior, when Riveria had first gone into labor. With a pained and sickly complexion on her face, she had looked into his eyes and given him permission to use her [Heart’s Desire]. They had previously talked about the disconcerting orb in detail and, in order to obtain and Guardian for her son, Riveria had been willing to allow Vahn to peer into her memories. This, ultimately, hadn’t been that impactful an event, however, as the only thing waiting for him within her orb was a naked Riveria with a brilliant smile on her face.
As the two watched her memory panes slowly shatter, each filled with fragments of the memories she held dear to her heart, Riveria’s Avatar of the Heart recounted the significant events of her past and the hopes she had for the future. Vahn spent what felt like an hour just holding her in his arms as she explained to him to the pain and disappointment she had experienced when being told she wasn’t ‘suitable’ to become Queen. At that time, she had felt so betrayed and lost that she had seriously considered ending her own life, refusing to become the tool for someone else. When she heard about her arranged marriage with Alosrin, however, something inside of her had ‘broken’.
Though it might have been a reason for her to follow through with her previous intent, Riveria had instead snapped out of her negative mindset and decided to take a different approach. After fleeing the Kingdom, she wanted to gain enough power and influence within Orario to slowly bring about the change she believed was necessary for her people. She also worked hard to increase her rapport with the Elven people, making it nearly impossible for the Elven Kingdom to even try and force her into action. In truth, she never truly planned to return to her home and intended to simply live out the rest of her days helping change the minds and hearts of the Elves before eventually dying within the Dungeon.
She had never stopped looking for a better solution, but Riveria had fully intended to become a Martyr for her people, which had been the secret she kept in her heart. The reason she became cold and detached from everyone, even though she had genuine care and concern for those she was close to, was so that they wouldn’t be burdened by her inevitable death. Even Lefiya, whom she had groomed as her successor in the Loki Familia, was supposed to bear witness to her death in the future. Riveria had hoped it would harden the girl’s heart and make her stronger for it by showing that, in the end, with her last and final act, Riveria had been willing to sacrifice herself to protect her comrades and her precious disciple…
When Vahn had awoken from the Heartscape, he had been stunned for a short while but, as Riveria’s water had already broken, he didn’t exactly have time to think about it. Now, while he was waiting for the arrival of a father that had failed his daughter, Vahn didn’t know how he should act. He had an urge to punch Larfal the moment he saw the man but, out of consideration for his wife, Vahn just periodically clenched his teeth to resist the building urge.
In truth, Larfal was also something of a victim in this entire thing, as he had been put on the throne and molded to be the King his people needed. It was the system he headed that was corrupt and, had he not done as was ‘required’ of him, Riveria would likely have never even been born. He had also lost his wife in the process and, according to Riveria, he spent most of his lonely moments within the Sanctum the errant King had constructed in her memory. His main failure, other than being a terrible father, was that his mentality had simply been too weak to bear the burden of his crown.
Larfal simply lacked the capacity and resolve to bring about the change he had sought in his youth, allowing the power and authority that was supposed to be his to be seized by the other powers within the Elven Kingdom. He had constantly compromised with them until, at the end of everything, he had lost the love of his life, the trust of his daughter, and was now embroiled in an internal conflict that likely wouldn’t end well for him and his people. When everything was said and done, it was very likely that Larfal would be dead at the end of everything and, by coming here when there was so much turmoil within his Kingdom, he had essentially sealed his fate.
Vahn could never truly understand why Larfal had made the foolish decisions he had in the past but, after seeing what his own self was capable of in the Divination, Vahn knew some paths did not always lead towards happiness. Had Larfal been stronger, smarter, or wiser, many of the events in his past could have been overcome with enough effort. However, the man, though powerful in his own right, was relatively average in all three categories. He simply hadn’t been suited to the role of King and, after losing his wife, this had only become even more evident. Others used that as an opportunity to seize even more power, to the point that he had to betroth his own daughter to an incompetent swine, essentially giving up the mantle of King to another family, even though he had fought so hard to keep it in the hands of his own…simply foolish…
All of that was in the past now, however, as Larfal seemed to have found his resolve and, according to Riveria, was heading unhesitantly towards his death to pave the way for Masonia to take power in the future. Vahn had found it somewhat difficult to believe but, seeing how quickly Larfal had come to ‘negotiate’ after the birth of his son, it was hard to see things any other way. While he was away from the Kingdom, the other families would obviously move to take the Palace into their own hands and, by the time he returned, the only thing waiting for him would be his death.
Fully expecting this, Larfal had already made plans to prevent the other families from trying to pin his death on the Alliance, making it public that his death was inarguably regicide machinated by the other Noble houses. This would likely lead to a bloodbath within the Elven Kingdom, throwing it into a full-blown civil war since, though Larfal hadn’t had the true respect of many of the Noble households, he had been a beloved King from the perspective of his people. The Ljos Alf family was one of the only households that didn’t exploit the people, instead, working to better the lives of everyone by supporting businesses and smaller clans. With the enmity most Elves held in their hearts towards some of the High Elf families, the assassination of their beloved King would undoubtedly push them over the edge…
Knowing that, just a few thousand kilometers away, a massacre was about to occur, Vahn couldn’t help but lament the foolishness of it all. However, this was a road that the Elven Kingdom had treaded for itself and, though there would undoubtedly be a great many people to lose their lives, the future of the Elven Kingdom would be better for overcoming this trial. As long as the next leader of the Elven people is capable, benevolent, and wise, there will be hope for their recovery. In fact, with Vahn’s assistance, the future that awaited them would even allow them to grow beyond the peak of power they held in the distant past, before the disappearance of the last Elven Queen…
With that thought in mind, Vahn watched as the procession arrived in front of his gate and, with Riveria at his side, holding the small Masonia in her arms, they made their forward. For Vahn, this would be the first time he met the man but, for the slightly pale Riveria, this may very well be the last. Even after everything that had happened, Larfal was still her father and, knowing what awaited him upon his return to the Elven Kingdom, she was struggling to maintain her composure…