Chapter 770: Reform

Riveria wasn’t just the Princess of the Elven Kingdom in name, no, she had spent nearly fifty years preparing to become the next ruler of the Kingdom before fleeing to Orario after the revelation she had been denied the opportunity to do so. Now that she had the chance to bring about reforms, bringing forth a better future for her people, and preserving the life of her Father, Riveria had taken to the task with unrivaled fervor. Though she was still very reliant upon Vahn to bring certain changes, especially in regards to the status of the Noble families, most of the other things were easily fixed after making changes in the policies, and those charged with overseeing them.

Ultimately, after a period of nearly two months, the seven primary Noble families had been completely defanged. After conducting their investigations, and holding nearly three-hundred public trials, it was determined that none of the Noble families, including the Ljos Alf family, should keep their Noble status. They were stripped of their Duke titles and, with the exception of some ancestral lands, most of their properties and investments were also seized. Though there was a fair amount of resistance, especially in the Ljos Alf and Dal Alfan families, Riveria had been as objective and decisive as possible. After all, even though she was a descendant of the Ljos Alf family herself, they obviously had their fair share of problems and were ultimately responsible for how things had become.

During the trials, the amount of resentment the normal Elven households held towards the Nobles, including the few that believed High Elves to be ‘special’, had reached a critical level. The fact that five of the Noble houses had conspired together, with the support of the Sage Council, had been a very eye-opening event for them. With the Council completely dissolved, with most of its members killed or crippled, all of their wrath had been directed towards the Noble families themselves. If not for the transparency in the trials, and how Riveria had held ‘all’ families accountable, there could have been an internal revolution. Of course, the ultimate deciding factor, preventing things from getting that far, was the presence of Vahn, and the prestige of Riveria and Larfal.

In the end, though Larfal would remain King until he ceded the throne, it was decided that things would revert back to the past, a means of showing respect to the Elves of old. Previously, before the first Elven King had taken power, the throne had always been held by the strongest and most capable among the Elves. They also needed to be respected by the people and, any member of the royal court, was elected by the populous, not ‘assigned’ by a Noble family. As for the whole ‘blood purity’ thing, and the fact that Elves were ‘superior’, this was one of the first policy changes brought about.

Riveria, Larfal, and Vahn, all made it very clear that, while your birth certainly affected your starting point, the life you lived after the fact it what should define you. Blood purity was a flawed concept from the start as, without having a large enough genetic pool, it caused more problems in the future than it solved. Though most people couldn’t really understand this, documentation to that effect was made publically accessible after the [Sage Aldrnari’s Blessing] had been revealed. A lot of people had already heard the rumors, but seeing Riveria moving around easily, even more powerful than in the past, had caused many people to begin believing the claims about how Vahn had become a Sage, to begin with. When the [Sage Aldrnari’s Blessing] had been revealed, there was a very noticeable shift in the dynamic of the Elven people, giving Riveria much greater momentum for other policy changes later on.

Though he didn’t disclose how the [Sage Aldrnari’s Blessing] was made, nor how to inscribe the crest onto the stomach of Elven women, Vahn did make much of his research public. This was to give people hope for the future and, to prove that it worked, Vahn had willingly performed the ‘ceremony’ on a few Elven females, including some volunteers from the High Priestess Faction. Then, to demonstrate the principle that the developing fetus needed a large amount of natural energy to sustain itself, Vahn used his [Yggdrasil’s Favor] and [Hands of Nirvana] to replenish the vitality of many expectant mothers. At the same time, he had become something of a physician within the Elven community and was training many of their doctors in some of the medical procedures he had learned from reading books and simulating within his mind.

Previously, most of the Elven community had been utterly terrified of Vahn, especially when they realized exactly what he had done. The fact that, within the period of a day, Vahn had saved the King, defeated the Noble families’ forces, extinguished the fires burning down their homes, protected the Sacred Trees, freed more than thirty thousand of their kin, destroyed the Sage Council, and become the Prime Minister…it was very difficult to accept the reality of the situation. If not for the fact that nearly a third of their population has ‘witnessed’ these events, many people would have thought it was just a gross exaggeration.

Now, the public opinion of Vahn had been quickly transitioning in a positive direction, especially after the blockade of the Western Forest had been immediately brought to an end. Not only was he improving the quality of life for the common citizens of the Elven Kingdom, but there was a large influx of essential goods entering in through the previously closed borders. This, added to the fact that he had publicized his research, had left a deep impression on people. He also made himself very accessible and could always be seen either helping people out, rebuilding areas that were damaged during the attack, and even revitalizing the Sacred Trees…

However, the biggest factor that changed the way Elves viewed Vahn were the people who had surrounded him. Not only did he have the support of their Princess, Riveria, but he also had a True Dragon that had dominion over nature. Terra, to the people of the Elves, was almost like a walking Sacred Tree. Not only did her aura give them an extreme degree of comfort, but she had a very kind and caring disposition, seemed to possess an infinite amount of wisdom, and was, inarguably, the strongest entity they had ever seen. She had been the one to put out the fires across the forest and, though it had caused them a great deal of stress at first, the barriers that had been erected around the Sacred Trees had been slowly revitalizing them over time.

Other than Riveria and Terra, Vahn eventually brought Lefiya and Ryuu over as well, causing a stir within the Elven community when they learned that Lefiya was not only a Dal Alfan, but a Spirit. As for Ryuu, she had simply wanted to return to her family for a short while. Her family had been part of the loyalist faction that served the High Elves and, as a result of their foolishness, the majority of them had been killed by Vahn, or tried after the fact. The only survivors ended up being her aunt and three children who had avoided the conflict outright. Vahn had agreed to let them attend the School in the future, but only because Ryuu didn’t want to entrust them to her rather despicable Aunt…

The reason Vahn had asked Lefiya to come over was to deal with a troublesome situation that had been occurring with the High Priestess Faction, though it had a lot of its authority removed and was no longer a standing faction. Sealing of the Sacred Trees, and forcing the Priestesses to mingle amongst normal civilians, had hurt the prestige they enjoyed for the last thousand years. Though they had never taken direct action to try and ‘control’ the people through force, it was easy to see that the High Priestess Faction had enjoyed many privileges due to the power base they had established. With the Nobles and Sages being dealt with, they also had to make several concessions and had the majority of their authority outright stripped away from them.

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At first, the High Priestess Faction had opposed these changes, as all powers that had held onto their power and authority for too long were ought to do. However, the fact that their current High Priestess, Sylfia, had been working alongside Riveria made it very difficult for them to make a case against it. Vahn also publicized the fact that, unless all of the standing powers gave ground on the issues of reform, he would never publicize the blueprints of the [Sage Aldrnari’s Blessing], nor would he teach anyone how to carve the crest. He wasn’t here to empower a broken system, but to bring about real and lasting change that would benefit all Elves in the present, and future. Sylfia had made a public statement as the High Priestess, giving her full support for the idea and asking that all of the other Priestesses, and those faithful to their beliefs, took this as an opportunity to revitalize the Elven people and create a better future for themselves…

This had caused a bit of a problem, however, as Sylfia had never made any major public appearances and, though she had a fair amount of support, there were a lot of rumors going around about how she had become Vahn’s slave, even temporarily. Though they had felt a certain amount of gratitude and anguish when she had originally agreed to the terms of the people keeping them captive, all so they might go free, people couldn’t forget how ‘readily’ she had lowered her head to Vahn. The fact that she supported him so strongly, after the fact, had caused people to wonder if she was simply a maiden that had fallen in love and, though this wasn’t exactly a bad thing, tensions had been very high during the time these rumors were going around.

What made matters worse was, during one of her public appearances, shortly after she had gotten a crest carved into her abdomen, Sylfia had publically admitted to the fact. Vahn had already been very aware of her feelings, as she had been very awkward during the time he was applying her crest, but he hadn’t expected her to essentially announce that she had fallen in love with him to the public. This caused things to take a strange transition and it almost ended with Sylfia having to announce that she had given up her title as High Priestess. If not for the fact that she had the support of the King, Riveria, Vahn, and, after making her existence public knowledge, Lefiya, things might have become even more troublesome.

Lefiya’s involvement had been predicated on the fact that she was a Spirit, the object of worship by the Elves and the High Priestess Faction in general. Though they respected all Spirits, those that had direct ties to their Ancestral Spirits were significantly more important to the Elven people. The whole reason Sylfia had even become a High Priestess herself was that she had descended from the line of Wishe and possessed high potential, startling intellect, and the ability of foresight. With Lefiya also being revealed as a daughter of Wishe, with a purified bloodline, her existence had garnered a lot of attention, especially from the now-defunct Dal Alfan family. There was a big push to have her be the next High Priestess, something Lefiya had adamantly refused while publically giving her support to both Vahn and Sylfia, though not towards any romantic developments between them.

With Lefiya’s words, people began to consider things in greater detail and, after learning that her blood purification was also a result of Vahn’s efforts, public opinion immediately swayed to their side. Though ‘blood purity’ had been invalidated and treated as a matter of lesser significance, it was still something deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of almost every person of Elven descent. Knowing that Vahn had not only come up with solutions to their infertility issue, but could also purify their bloodlines, the public couldn’t blame anyone for wanting to support him, especially the High Priestess. After all, she was a very rare female High Elf and, though she didn’t exploit her status, she was an important figurehead to her people and there was a big push to have her engaged with Vahn as a result of their heritage.

Though it was still very difficult to believe, it had already been made public that Vahn was a ‘Progenitor’ who had already sired a child with their Princess, resulting in a High Elf of extremely high blood purity. Since he also had the ability to purify a person’s blood after the fact, a lot of the older families, and those that had previously supported the idea of Elven superiority, believed that Vahn would be able to ‘revitalize’ their people. It wasn’t just Sylfia who the people had tried to push onto him, but almost every unmarried High Elf, totally thirty-seven people, with Sylfia being the youngest.

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Eventually, Vahn had to publically announce that he had no intentions of taking additional wives, nor would he be accepting mistresses. Though he appreciated the feelings directed towards him, it was his goal to change the standard of living for all Elven people, not create a new generation of High Elves to be worshipped and respected by virtue of their birth. Though he would help ensure that High Elves, and Elves in general, were able to safely give birth, he wouldn’t have any direct hand in impregnating them. Since the majority of people couldn’t really understand why he would refuse to bed so many beautiful women, Vahn outright admitted that he was already in love with too many women and it would simply be wrong for him to accept even more into his life. Since he also refused to sire children that he could not care for personally, this meant he had absolutely no interest in becoming ‘breeding stock’ for the benefit of a broken system.

Such admissions had hurt his impression within the community at first but, after a few weeks had passed, most people had accepted his reason and had started to open up to him after witnessing all the things he was doing to make good on his promises. Anyone that knew him closely could see that Vahn was a very kind and caring man and, though they didn’t have too many public displays of affection, it was easy to see that he was very close to the girls around him. Though some of the hardliners from the old factions were still trying to press the issue, most of the High Elven women respected Vahn’s decision as, both directly and indirectly, he had shown his respect for them as well.

The only one who didn’t seem to give up on the idea was Sylfia herself who, if she wasn’t busy, would linger around the areas Vahn’s frequented. If she couldn’t find him, she would go to where Terra could usually be found or, using her status as High Priestess, seek out Riveria or Lefiya to simply chat. She had also started wearing a two-piece robe that had a crop-top design that exposed the navel and a loose robe that hugged her slender hips. This was a ‘fashion’ that had been popularized by Riveria herself, and the public display of their crests had become a matter of pride for the women who already possessed one.

Riveria wasn’t actually that against the idea of Sylfia pursuing Vahn and, as they worked together a lot, the two had started to become close over the two-month period they had been traveling back and forth between Orario and the Elven Kingdom. As for Lefiya, she wasn’t that fond of her ‘cousins’ attempts to ‘seduce’ her Master, especially when she heard how Sylfia had also tried to become a ‘subordinate’ during the chaos of the first day. Though Lefiya didn’t mind Vahn’s relationships with other girls, as some of them were also very exciting for herself, she actually didn’t like the idea of him being involved with other girls. The people at the Manor had been like one big family for a long time and it was much easier to accept her Master being involved with them than any ‘outsiders’.

Even though this was the case, and Sylfia could tell that her younger cousin wasn’t too fond of her pursuit of Vahn, she never gave up trying to get close to them. The first time she had been able to receive a ‘head pat’ from Vahn, Sylfia had happily talked about the event to everyone in her social circle. That night, Vahn had to pacify a frustrated Lefiya, promising that he wasn’t going to let other girls break into his heart so easily. As this was the truth of the matter, and Vahn was still living his dual life between the Manor and the Elven Kingdom, she eventually forgave him. After all, Vahn genuinely had no intention of giving into Sylfia’s advances and was actually more focused on managing things with the School and spending time with his children.

Each of the Vanir had been growing like beansprouts, now appearing to be around the ages of 5-6 years old each. Eina was also due to deliver her child any day now and it had been a big distraction for Vahn’s other duties. This was compounded by the fact that Naaza had been seeking him out a lot more than before, simply wanting to spend time together, while Lili actually looked like she was already halfway into her pregnancy. The fact she was carrying triplets, with her small body, always made Vahn feel very fretful. If not for his ability to travel the distance between Orario and the Elven Kingdom in less than a few seconds, he wouldn’t really be able to keep up with all of the things he wanted to take care of right now.

Vahn was stuck between helping manage the affairs of the Elven Kingdom, dealing with the fallout of the Alliance between the Elves and the Dwarves, renegotiating trade agreements, spending time with the girls, making sure his children were happy, and trying to fit in small moments of training. All the while this was going on, Vahn also had to make sure things with the School were running smoothly and, though he still struggled with controlling two bodies, Vahn was starting to consider trying to make a third. Even [Shadow Clones], which he had neglected as a solution in the past, were starting to look like a very useful ability…

Even so, Vahn still felt like every day was very fulfilling, especially since his children seemed to be very understanding of things. He still played with them when he could and, almost every night he wasn’t within the orb, Vahn would sleep with them and their mothers. Loki and Hephaestus had been very helpful during all of this, while all the girls in the Manor showed their support in their own ways. Vahn even summoned over the girls to the Elven Kingdom to start getting people used to the idea of foreigners visiting their lands in the future.

Vahn also noticed that many of them had, temporarily, even stopped using the orb and spent more time in the real world. Since he couldn’t really make use of it himself right now, they didn’t want to be away from him for long periods of time, especially when they knew he was working very hard. Though they would still drop in for an hour or two each day, generally to get in some morning training and work on some projects, most of the girls had been outside playing with the Vanir, taking care of the children, or even serving as assistant teachers at the School. It was moments like this, when everyone was working together to share the burden that would have been impossible for one person, that made Vahn feel truly gratified…

Though Vahn had been busy with a variety of different issues, he had become the primary talking point for a certain group that resided in a City above the clouds. Presently, located within a cold stone sanctum, there were three gods sitting around a circular table talking about Vahn’s recent exploits. On one side, there was a youthful god with onyx-black hair, starling blue eyes, and a strange golden eye patch covering his left eye. On the other side, there was a god who appeared both elderly and youthful, possessing similarly striking eyes and currently wearing a loose robe that exposed his muscular body. To his left, leaning into his shoulder, there was a proud goddess who had a glimmer of wisdom in her golden eyes as she rested her auburn red hair against the previous god’s neck.

The onyx-haired god, Odin, looked at the two lovebirds across from him and asked, “So, do you think we should intervene with the Alliance, or let it continue to grow? I do not believe Vahn is a threat to the world, but I believe the changes he is introducing will fundamentally alter how people live in the future. I even had Frigga and Urðr look into the future…I believe Vahn’s actions to be just and in the interests of everyone…” Though he had only interacted with Vahn once, Odin had been watching over the boy and his exploits often ever since. Yes, Vahn was very ruthless at times, but only when he ‘needed’ to be. Most of his actions generally had far-reaching consequences, almost exclusively for the betterment of a large number of people, so Odin had a very favorable impression of the boy.

In response to his words, however, Zeus snorted and said, “I’ll admit, the boy truly is deserving of the title of Hero, but he is also far too arrogant. Though he hasn’t become a threat yet, he is only a few steps away from being a repeat of that golden-brat, Gilgamesh. We need to seriously consider dealing with him soon or it’ll be too late to have regrets after even more goddesses support him!” Unlike Odin, Zeus’ impression of Vahn was that of a petty and arrogant mortal that thought too highly of themselves. Though he couldn’t fault Vahn for wanting to protect the dignity of his women, the fact he had been so disrespectful to a ‘god’ had ruined most of Zeus’ favorable impression of the arrogant youngster.

As was often the case, Hera nodded her head in agreement with Zeus, parroting, “Even though he is still a little weak, he was able to defeat Siegfried after the latter went all out. It seems he has abilities that grant him ‘instant regeneration’, ‘unlimited mana’, and ‘elemental transformation’. Combine with his status as a demigod and Progenitor, he is simply too dangerous to leave be. Once he matures, even Heracles and Theseus may not even be able to pose a threat to him…depending on how things develop, he could become the greatest enemy of Legend and slowly conquer the entire Continent. Even gods are siding with him, making him a lingering threat that might also affect us when we return to Heaven…!”

Feeing into the loop, Zeus nodded his head and added onto Hera’s words, “If we cannot get Vahn under control, we need to take actions to remove him from the equation in the future. Though it will probably upset Hestia, and some other troublesome goddesses, we can’t simply let one person bring about such change in such a short period of time. People can’t adapt that quickly and, if left to his own devices, Vahn will probably bring about reform to all countries, not just the Elven Kingdom. If the policies he enacts are just, that is good, but we all know that power will eventually get into the head of any mortal. Now that he has progeny of his own, they will slowly change how he sees the world and, in order to make sure they are able to live as they please, Vahn will undoubtedly change his own perspective to suit them…troublesome…”

Odin looked at his two companion gods with a dull expression, supporting his head with his fist as he said, “As I said, the path Vahn is creating towards the future seems to be the ‘correct’ path. The prosperity he will bring to the world far outweighs any of the damage he is doing in the present. He is also increasing the strength of common men and pushing the strength of those that seek the peak even higher. For our purposes, the reforms he is bringing are actually more beneficial than any actions we ourselves have taken. The number of potential Heroes will undoubtedly increase in the future and, as long as we don’t make any mistakes now, our Organization may grow even larger. I also believe that, if we leave him be now, Vahn will actually be much easier to convince once he matures. He is still young right now and, though power can easily corrupt mortals, the number of goddesses around Vahn will keep him in line…if we take action now, there is no guarantee we can even defeat him. In the process, we will earn the ire of hundreds of goddesses, both in the Mortal World and in Heaven…you’re letting your own frustrations cloud your judgment…”

Hearing this, Zeus frowned and Hera finally stopped leaning against him as she sat up straight and hardened her expression. She actually agreed with Odin’s words a bit, especially after watching the battle between Vahn and Siegfried, but she would still support Zeus if it came down to it. Thus, she sat by and watched as the two gods, who had shared a kinship lasting for eons, glared towards each other. Neither was willing to back down and, even though Zeus also knew Odin was likely correct, he couldn’t easily give in on the matter. Vahn had hurt his pride and, as petty as it might seem, Zeus had never allowed anyone to step on his pride without some form of retribution…

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