Deep within the heart of the Elven Kingdom, which seemed to be ushering in a new era of peace, Vahn was currently nursing a slight headache as he listened to the King once again ask, “Are you certain you wish to step down as acting Prime Minister? You have done an excellent job thus far, Vahn, and I believe you are suited to the position…” Rubbing the bridge of his nose, while Rivera chuckled lightly from the side, Vahn looked into Larfal’s jade-green eyes and repeated, “I have already done everything I can with this position, and I need to focus on the matters of the Alliance now. My intuition tells me that events have already been set into motion that will affect the entire world, not just Orario and the Elven Kingdom…besides, the Elven Kingdom can’t simply rely on the effort of Riveria and myself for its prosperity…”
Larfal, understanding Vahn’s words to be the truth, released a sigh and, once again, asked, “Will you not rethink it…?” This time, Riveria began to laugh lightly while Vahn simply turned away and said, “I’ll stop by to make sure things are running smoothly when I can. If there are any emergencies, you can always contact the Alliance and request assistance…” Without turning to look at the King, Vahn raised his hand and continued to walk towards the exit, Riveria falling in line beside him with a gentle smile that always seemed to adorn her face these days. Larfal continued watching them until the large ornate wooden doors had closed before releasing another long sigh, muttering, “Things are going to get busy for me now…I hope my grandson grows up quickly…haaaaa…”
On their way out, Vahn sensed a troublesome presence approaching at a relatively fast pace, bringing him to a halt and causing Riveria to incline her head in confusion. This didn’t last long, however, when she saw the doors at the end of the corridor burst open, revealing a petite figure with white-gold hair and dark blue eyes. She was one of the few people that could freely run through the Palace without being stopped and, for the last year, one of the things that had constantly been wearing away at Vahn’s patience. Of course, if anyone heard him say such a thing, they would have looked at him like he was the greatest fool in the world. After all, the young woman with pointy ears was none other than the High Priestess, Sylfia, a beautiful young maiden who could even make gods and spirits turn their heads.
Sylfia was currently breathing a little heavily as she walked forward with hasty steps until she was right in front of Vahn and Riveria. She took a few seconds to calm her breathing, putting on the air of a proper young lady before asking, “Are you really going…?” Then, without waiting for the answer, Sylfia adopted a resolute look and said, “Please, take me with you…!” This time, Vahn closed his eyes, containing the profound sigh he was tempted to release before saying in a calm tone, “Sylfia…at this point in time, your presence is needed to help the Elven people tide through this transition…besides, I’ve told you several times that I’m not trying to increase the number of women around me…you will be happier if you find someone else to love…”
To this statement, Sylfia just snorted and, not minding Riveria’s presence at all, stepped forward and grabbed Vahn’s other arm. She didn’t say anything and just continued holding onto him, almost as though she had completely ignored his refusal. This caused Riveria to nudge Vahn slightly, a small smile on her face as she mentally communicated, (“Elves, especially High Elves, can be pretty obstinate when it comes to things like love, Vahn…you should be very aware of this…”)
With Riveria’s words, the image of Ryuu, Eina, and Risna all entered Vahn’s mind, with the latter being another one of his ‘concerns’ as of late. He knew that Riveria was right, as even Aina, Eina’s and Risna’s mother, had been willing to spend hundreds of years without remarrying after her husband finally dies. Typically, an Elf didn’t look for a life partner until they were between 50-100 years old and, when they finally found one, it was generally a life-long love. There were actually legends about unrequited loves that had become tragic tales as, without being able to follow the one their heart had been dedicated to, many female Elves would simply spend the rest of their years alone…
If not for the fact that even goddesses, many hundreds of millions of years old, had also fallen in love with him over a relatively short period of time, Vahn wouldn’t be able to process how quickly the Elven women in his life fell for him. Riveria was at the ‘correct’ age, but girls like Ryuu and Lefiya were ‘very’ young to have already entered into a relationship, with the former even becoming a mother at an inordinately early age. With Risna and now Sylfia looking to enter into a relationship with him, Vahn felt greatly conflicted and simply wished they could be more patient. Things were going to be very hectic for a while and he didn’t think it would be ‘right’ to start new relationships with girls when he could barely manage his current affairs…
Fortunately, as he was brooding over the best course of action to take, two other presences closed in on their position, each belonging to Deina and Irisalia. When Sylfia saw them, her body tensed up and she tried to hide behind his back as the two mature High Elves observed with stern expressions on their faces. Vahn, seeing this, took a slow breath through his nose before smiling as he said, “Good morning, Deina, Irisalia…you seem…healthy…” Deina, never quite forgiving him for the backhand she had earned, simply snorted in response. Irisalia, however, gave a somewhat wry smile as she said, “I heard you will be leaving the Kingdom for a while…the Elven people will miss your presence dearly…”
To this, Vahn just shook his head lightly and said, “Well, it isn’t as though I won’t be visiting when I have time. It doesn’t take long for me to jump over and check in on things, and I’ll probably come by to visit with Riveria and Lefiya when they want to stop by…” Turning to Sylfia, who was still hiding behind his back, Vahn lifted his hand and began petting the top of her head as he said, “Your people need you right now, Sylfia…but…once things settle down…haaaa…” Vahn hadn’t been able to finish the words but, understanding what he meant, Sylfia immediately became bubbly as she grabbed his hand and bounced around happily. It wasn’t until Irisalia and Deina ‘dragged’ her away that Vahn was finally liberated from the rather ‘unique’ High Elf…
Riveria, still holding onto his other arm, squeezed it gently as she said, “There is nothing wrong with having more love to give, Vahn…we all understand what kind of person you are…even I…ufufufu~.” As there weren’t any people to see them, Riveria leaned her head against Vahn’s shoulder and showed a lovely smile on her face. This last year had been very fulfilling for her, especially since her son was growing quickly and had even said his first words, gratifying her as he had inarticulately cooed ‘Mama’. Since most of Vahn’s children almost always said ‘Papa’ first, Riveria felt strangely prideful about the matter and had teased Vahn ‘excessively’ about it after the fact…
With Riveria leaning against his shoulder, Vahn couldn’t prevent a small smile from spreading across his rather tired looking face. In truth, if not for how busy things had been over the last year, he likely wouldn’t have been able to actually refuse Sylfia for very long. She was a smart girl who was pleasant to be around, especially since she was always deferential and honest with him, something very rare for a High Elf. Though she wasn’t prone to ’embarrassment’, another rare trait, her assistance had been instrumental in ensuring things ran smoothly within the Kingdom. If he were to be honest, she had found a small part of his heart and laid claim to it, something he couldn’t honestly refute…
For the time being, however, he simply couldn’t divert his focus even further than he already had been, especially since things should be picking up with Orario. He wasn’t lying when he told Sylfia her presence was needed in the Kingdom but, inversely, his own was required within Orario. The expedition down to the 50th Floor was scheduled only a month from now and it was nearing time for Alexa to exit the Space-Time orb. He also needed to handle his tasks as the representative of the Alliance and, as his own strength had been stuck around the middle of Level 6 for a while, Vahn knew he needed to begin training soon. Simply put, he just didn’t have time to invest himself in new relationships, especially with the fact that girls like Nanu, Risna, Tina, and Shizune were becoming ‘pressing’ issues…
Because they had been making use of the Sub-Space orb, even sparingly, the youngest of the previous ‘youth’ troupe was now, chronologically, seventeen years old. Shizune and Risna, who had been staying in the orb a lot more than the other two, were actually 24 and 22 respectively, even though their appearances hadn’t changed much. Shizune, at least, no longer looked like a ten-year-old girl and, using the nutrition supplements he had developed, she now looked to be around 13-14 years old, even though her chest hadn’t developed that much. The troublesome thing was, Vahn could see their ‘patience’ had been slowly wearing down, especially since they were all of legal age, with the exclusion of Tina.
Tina was still thirteen, if ignoring the amount of time she had spent in the orb, but her birthday was coming up relatively soon. She had also been taking the nutritional supplements and, though she still looked on the younger side, her height had increased to 156cm and her secondary sexual characteristics had been steadily developing. To deal with her ‘stress’, she had been training very hard with the other girls and, as a result of possessing a ‘flame seed’, learning magic, and spending several hours polishing her skills, Tina had reached the peak of Level 5 already. She even managed to awaken her Innate, [Eclipse], a terrifying ability that allowed her to enhance her own parameters based on a percentage of her own opponent every time they traded blows.
Thinking of how strong all the girls had become over the last fourteen months, Vahn had a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. He was happy they were all a lot more powerful than before, as it would make the future threats easier to deal with, but it felt like he had ‘missed’ a lot of their growth. As he hadn’t been using the orb much, as a result of splitting his time between Orario and the Elven Kingdom, it felt like they had been changing faster than he could easily cope with. He now had a true understanding of how the girls had seen him in the past, with how he was developing much faster than they expected by relying on Eva’s orb. Fortunately, none of the girls seemed to be too affected by the fact that they would spend months at a time away from him and it had even made the times when they were together more ‘intimate’ than expected…
Vahn knew that the girls were a very powerful support group for each other and, as many of them were actually pursuing the path of immortality, they weren’t too caught up by the idea that they were ‘missing’ out on life. The only exceptions to this seemed to be the girls he hadn’t actually consummated a relationship with, such as Risna, Tina, and Shizune. Nanu was surprisingly okay with things and had even told him that she wanted to try and become a [Master Smith] before they ‘mated’. She was now, chronologically, slightly under twenty years old and had made great strides in her skills as a [Blacksmith], pushing the Development Ability to Rank A under the guidance of Hephaestus and Tsubaki.
Thinking of his young and faithful apprentice, Vahn’s smile softened and he kissed the top of Riveria’s head, saying, “I’ll meet you back at the Manor. I’m going to do one last check on the Sacred Trees before I head back…” Riveria nodded her head and, taking advantage of the fact they were alone, stood on her toes and gave him a quick peck on the lips before smiling. A few seconds later, after being summoned by his other body, Riveria vanished with a magical light and Vahn found himself alone within the corridor while, on the other side, he playfully pinched Riveria’s ears. When he said he would meet her back at the Manor, the words had been quite literal. After all, with his ability to control two bodies at once, Vahn could serve as a waypoint for the girls to travel vast distances in very short periods of time.
While his main body was flying around above the Elven Kingdom, Vahn had escorted Riveria back to the Manor. They had nearly been run into by a figure exiting through the back door but, as Vahn had already noticed her presence, they had already moved out of the way when Vana burst out through the door. Her eyes widened when she saw them, nearly dropping the pastry from her mouth before grabbing it and saying, “Hey, Papa, Riveria~!” Then, as if realizing something, Vana’s eyes began to glimmer as she asked, “Papa, are you busy right now!? I wanted to show you something!” Riveria released his arm when she heard this and just smiled politely as she said, “I’m going to go check on Masonia. You two have fun…”
Vahn followed Riveria’s back with his eyes before turning his attention to his eldest daughter, excluding Alexa, and marveling at how much she had grown. Since the girls’ appearances hadn’t changed that much, as a result of his ‘care’ in the past, Vana almost looked like she was in the same generation as girls like Ais, Tiona, and Tione. She had the appearance of a girl around 12-14 years old, already 153cm tall with a maturing face and a figure that was quickly following in the footsteps of her mother. It was a very strange feeling, seeing his daughter had already blossomed into a young woman when, just two years ago, she was small enough to lay atop just one of his arms…
Even so, Vana didn’t seem to care that her body had changed and, without any hesitation whatsoever, jumped forward and gave him a big hug while shouting, “Yay~! Let’s go, let’s go~!” Thus, never really able to refuse his daughters’ requests, Vahn ended up being dragged into the illusory forest by Vana so that she could show him what had interested her. It didn’t take long for them to reach the ‘secret’ area, which now looked like a proper training field, allowing Vahn to see what his daughter had wanted to show him.
There, in the center of her training area, was a mannequin that Vana often used for her sword training. This time, however, she took out a satchel full of candles and began placing them all over the mannequin before having him stand off to the side. Vahn already understood what Vana wanted to show him but just remained silent, a small smile on his face as he watched her shout, “Doryaaaa!” and send out several ‘lines’ of flame. In an instant, without burning any part of the mannequin, Vana had lit all the candles and immediately jumped up, raising her fist high as she shouted, “Did you see that, Papa!?”
Without waiting for his answer, Vana had already run forward, poking out her head happily with a large smile on her face that screamed ‘praise me’. Then, as if it were the most natural reaction his body had, Vahn reached out his hand and began stroking her ruby-red hair and said, “You’re amazing, Vana. You never cease to amaze me~.” This compliment caused Vana to release her characteristic ‘shishishi’ laughter before her eyes suddenly widened and she asked, “So, do you think I’m strong enough to start going on my own adventure now!? I know we’re supposed to wait until we’re older, but I reeeeeeally really want to try and go into the Dungeon on my own. Please, Papa, pleeeeeeeease~?”
Vahn felt his brain buzz a little when his daughter suddenly started begging him to allow her to risk her life within the Dungeon. Though he hadn’t been there to see all of her growth, he knew she was only around the strength of a low Level 2, even with her flames. Vulcan’s strength was closer to a Level 4, but it was still far too dangerous to allow her to enter the Dungeon. They still didn’t know how the Dungeon would even react to the presence of a Vanir and, as they were unable to possess a Falna, it may not be ‘efficient’ to even allow her to fight monsters in the Dungeon. Still, though this was the case, Vahn felt like a hand had gripped his heart and it was very difficult to say no at times like this…
Fortunately, Sis’ voice sounded out in his mind, saving the day and making his decision a little easier as she reminded, (*You could always give her the [Genesis Flame] and set a goal for her to reach before accompanying her into the Dungeon personally. Also, you’ll need to let her fight at some point if you want to verify the use of the [Heroic Tale].*)
When he heard these guiding words, Vahn knew that Sis was right and all of the things she pointed out were actually ‘very’ important to the future of the Vanir. The [Heroic Tale] was supposed to record all the detail of the Vanir’s life and, according to its description, it even rewards them with items, skills, and abilities when they performed feats acknowledged by the record. It was almost like they all had their own sub-system to make use of, which would allow them to become much stronger than normal, especially if they were able to overcome difficult trials. Still, Vahn felt nervous about any of his children entering into the Dungeon…though, thinking about it more clearly, this was probably similar to how most parents felt…
After releasing a sigh, Vahn pulled his hand away from Vana’s head and, before she could begin pouting, pulled out a scarlet red book and a tiny vermillion colored seed that made the surrounding temperature begin to rapidly increase. Holding out the seed, Vahn smiled and explained, “This is a unique artifact you had been born with, Vana, called the [Genesis Flame]. When you consume this seed, you will be able to create and control flames at will. I wanted to make sure you had been able to control your normal flames before giving this to you…I believe you are ready now…”
Vana took the seed into her hands, feeling a very strong attachment to it and, without waiting for a single moment longer, immediately tossed it into her mouth. It felt like she had swallowed a very warm and delicious soup that spread through her stomach before warming up her entire body. Unable to resist the pleasant feeling, Vana released a light moan that made Vahn’s flinch as he continued to hold out the [Heroic Tale] with a blank expression on his face. When she had regained her focus, he held out the book and explained, “This is another item that is bound to you, called the [Heroic Tale]…you will need to keep it safe, as it will become very important if you want to become strong in the future.”
When she heard this, Vana reached out and grabbed the book, causing it to immediately flash with a magical light as the name on the cover changed to read ‘The Heroic Tale of Vana Mason’. This caused her fiery eyes to glimmer like a blazing flame as she opened up the book to see what the contents contained. There, on the first page, surprising the both of them, was a Status Board that listed all of Vana’s current parameters, including values for Soul and Divinity…
Name: Vana Mason
Title: Little Firecracker [Increases control of fire elemental energy]
Age: C2, P13, M8
SOUL: 3 [Lord Soul]
Divinity: Fire[pseudo:56%], Life[pseudo:17%]
Skills: [Inheritor of Flame:Innate:D], [Shepherd’s Grace:Innate:I], [Precise Thrust:E], [Featherfoot:F]
Magic: [Genesis Flame:Innate:I], [Sagitta Magicka:G], [Flame Lance:D]
Development Abilities: [Eternal Flame Spirit:Innate:F], [Swordsman:H]
Seeing Vana’s Status, Vahn realized he had made an error as a result of his concerns that the girls hadn’t been ready to make use of their artifacts and [Heroic Tale]s. Since Vana’s [Genesis Flame] actually showed as one of her Innates, Vahn realized he had set them back slightly by not allowing them to develop their artifacts while they were growing. Now that he thought about it, as all of the artifacts were nourished by the soul, it made a lot of sense that they had some relation to the girls’ Innates. He would have to check with Ina and Erika to see if they actually had a (sealed) version of the abilities before he gave them their artifacts…
Vana’s eyes were glimmering excitedly when she saw her own Status, especially since there were so many cool abilities she didn’t even know she had. Still, the things she was happiest about were the fact that she managed to awaken the [Featherfoot] skill and [Swordsman] Development Ability. It had bothered her a little not being able to see if she was able to use the same skills as everyone else. Now that she was able to tell that her efforts had paid off, Vana was incredibly excited so she hugged the scarlet book tightly before shouting, “Thank you, Papa, I love you~!”
Vahn was broken from his thoughts by Vana’s shout, instinctually smiling as he reached out and began to ruffle her hair again. He then spent the better part of half an hour giving Vana a few goals that she would need to reach before she was able to ‘accompany’ him into the Dungeon. Just like they weren’t supposed to start dating until they were 14, Vahn told her she wasn’t allowed to venture into the Dungeon on her own until she was, at least, ten years old. However, as long as she went with one of the Level 7 girls, or himself, she would be allowed to register as an Adventurer and start going into the Dungeon once she had completed her challenges…