Chapter 775: Power

With a shift in focus from the affairs of the Elven Kingdom, Vahn suddenly found that his schedule had opened up a great deal. He suddenly had a lot more free time than before and it was having a very positive impact on his own mentality and his relationships with the girls, his children, and his personal affairs. However, though this was the case, Vahn knew it was actually a ‘sign’ that events were about to be set into motion, especially considering that he had almost been in the world for a total of three years at this point. This meant, if he hadn’t already shown up, Bell would be entering Orario soon and, considering that the expedition to the 50th Floor was less than a month away, Vahn knew the young Hero would likely set in motion a series of troublesome events.

Fortunately, the girls had all been training hard over the last year in preparation for the push into the 50th Floor and the battle against Enyo’s forces. Though Vahn wasn’t actually that worried about the threat posed by Enyo from the original story, as he knew the girls were now far stronger than they would have been in the canon material, he knew that his influence on the world would cause events intended to ‘balance’ his impact on the record. Since girls like Cassandra had seen events that shouldn’t have taken place, Vahn knew Enyo had likely made some kind of preparations to deal with the changes he had introduced into the City. Now, it all depended on how the events transpired after the arrival of Bell within the City…

Vahn had a theory that, as the ‘protagonists’ of the world, it was almost impossible to prevent the flow of fate from somehow incorporating people like Bell and Ais into the significant events in the world. It was almost as though, as a result of the original author’s intent, essentially as the ‘creator’ of this world, they ‘had’ to be at the center of things. Vahn wasn’t really against this, as it would allow him to essentially use Bell as ‘bait’, but he was still concerned how it would impact those around him. This was why he helped the girls increase their strength greatly and, as a result of these efforts, the weakest person in the entire Familia was Preasia, who was Level 3.

After making arrangements with the Guild, the residents of the Hearth Manor no longer had to publicize their Levels and, though most of the general public only thought there were a few Level 6’s amongst their group, there were actually several Level 7’s now. Riveria, Ais, Tiona, and Haruhime were all Level 7 now, with Lefiya, Tione, Mikoto, Arnya, Tsubaki, Chloe, Ryuu, Lunoire, and Lili making up the Level 6’s. Behind them, still monstrously powerful in their own right, were Naaza, Emiru, Maemi, Milan, Tina, Shizune, and Nanu at Level 5. This left the only girls below the rank of First Class Adventurers as Aki, Risna, and Preasia, being Levels 4, 3, and 3 respectively, none of which were considered combat personnel.

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Since he was also around the peak of Leve 6, while having thousands more parameters than the girls themselves, Vahn was one of the strongest in the Manor, with only Terra being ‘inarguably’ stronger than him. However, if it was a fight to the death, there wasn’t anyone capable of defeating him, with only girls like Ryuu, Fenrir, and Lefiya even being able to do any meaningful damage to him. Still, ever since gaining increased proficiency with his three most powerful forms, now referred to as ‘Lightning Emperor’, ‘Void Emperor’, and ‘Flame Emperor’, Vahn was confident he would be able to win any fight, even if it had to be through attrition…

If his own strength wasn’t enough, there were a few ‘Aces’ that were always waiting to take action, especially if it was in the defense of the Manor itself. These were his subordinates, with the weakest among them being Khaos, who was currently Level 6. Since they had been able to take human forms, it was now possible to view the Status Boards of Fafnir and Khaos, confirming that the former was Level 8 while the later was nearing Level 6. As for Terra and Fenrir, it was almost impossible to know exactly how strong Terra was, only that she was beyond Level 10. Fenrir, however, could still be measured with the Falna and, as a result of her unique training and cultivation, she was also at Level 7, even though her actual fighting prowess would make it impossible for anyone other than Ais and Haruhime to even contend with her.

In a direct battle, Fenrir would be able to injure or kill almost any enemy, regardless of how physically strong or durable they might be. The only girls who could even fight against her were Ais, Tiona, and Haruhime, with only Ais and Haruhime being able to come out ahead on occasion. This was because Ais was simply faster than everyone else, especially after incorporating [Shundo] into her skill set. Though Vahn hadn’t taught them the skill directly, both Ais and Tiona had learned how to use the instant movement technique just by seeing Fenrir and Haruhime use it so often. As for how Haruhime was able to fight against Fenrir, much to the frustrations of the latter, it was because her skillset almost perfectly countered Fenrir’s.

Fenrir’s Magic was still one of the most powerful within the group of girls, with only Lefiya even coming close, but that had almost no effect on Haruhime. When Haruhime used her [Pactio], her barrier was able to block most magical attacks with ease. Then, when it came to close combat, Haruhime’s Innates made it almost impossible for Fenrir to even strike at her directly. Unless it was a battle to the death, where Fenrir used her [Severing Claws] or [Devour], she had no means to get close to Haruhime at all. The latter would simply dance around the battlefield like an illusion that even his [Eyes of Truth] couldn’t see through, as any attempts to ‘focus’ on Haruhime often forced him to fall into a dazed state…

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Just imagining Haruhime’s ‘dance’ would cause Vahn’s mind to dull for a moment and, as a result of his lapse in focus, he was almost caught off guard when Lili’s fist came tearing through the void like an unstoppable force. Twisting his body slightly, tapping the side of her fist to redirect it, Vahn jumped back with [Shundo] and watched as the tiny fist slammed into the ground. He had made sure to jump back more than 20m, allowing him to be outside the ‘blast’ radius when Lili’s fist caused the ground to explode with a massive shockwave. Of all the girls in the Manor, Lili was physically the most powerful, without any question whatsoever. She was also one of the most agile, making use of her small size and impeccable sense of balance, making it very difficult to fight against her directly…

Before the dust had even started to fall downwards, a ‘tunnel’ had been cut through the debris as Lili’s small body bore through the shrapnel, shouting, “Yaaaaaaah!” as she tried to punch him in the diaphragm. Vahn exhaled while his blazing blue eyes focused on the tiny fist, coming to pinhole sized points that made it feel as though the flow of time had stagnated to a crawl. He could see the formless energy contained within Lili’s body, which would completely annihilate him if he allowed the strike to land. Even so, Vahn didn’t try to dodge directly and instead moved his right hand into the nook of Lili’s arm, opposite her elbow, while using his left hand to redirect her arm away from his body.

Lili allowed her body to be twisted, using the momentum of the movement to coil up her body like a spring as she kicked off his stomach with enough force to dislocate his arm while causing catastrophic damage to his abdominal muscles and internal organs. Vahn could feel a powerful shockwave pass through his body, almost like he was loose silt beneath the crashing of a wave. He simply couldn’t resist it at all and nearly fell to the ground before catching himself by levitating. Before Lili had even turned back around to continue the fight, he had already completely regenerated and, as before, they continued the spar for a full four hours.

Thus far, most of the girls weren’t exactly accustomed to attacking people with the intent to kill so, in order to make it easier for them to adapt, Vahn always had them go all out against him. He figured, if they were able to go all out against him, someone they cared about deeply, the girls wouldn’t hesitate if they had to fight against real enemies. Though this had the result of some accidental activations of [Effigy of the Hero]s, when they got a little too excited fighting against each other, it was a very ‘realistic’ form of training that would probably save their lives in the future. Ironically, it was Tiona, who was borderline ‘unkillable’, who had used the most [Effigy of the Hero] in her spars. This was because she would sometimes place too much trust in her ability and, when Ais got serious, it was ‘very’ difficult to not get shredded into pieces…

With their spar coming to an end, Vahn released an exasperated sigh while Lili sat on his stomach, giggling as she traced her hands around the musculature of his upper body. Then, as she was prone to doing, Lili’s hair changed into a light pink color as two curved black horns appeared at the sides of her head. Her ears, previously rounded, grew into points while, at the area above her rather small shorts, a bushy black tail similar to Anubis’ sprouted out and began to tap against his inner thigh. Leaning forward, not minding the presence of the other girls, Lili dragged her slightly pointed tongue along his collarbone and asked, “Will you play with me tonight~?”

From the side, Tiona had bounded up to her feet and shouted, “Ah, Lili, that is cheating! You can’t use that form to try and tempt Vahn~!” In response to this, Lili just smiled mischievously and, like a pink blur, appeared behind Tiona, hugging the lively Amazoness from behind as she asked, “Oooh? Did you want to play with me instead, Tiona~?” Feeling her ear get licked, causing a hot sensation to spread through her head, Tiona quickly wiggled out of Lili’s embrace and ‘desperately’ wiped away at the saliva on her ear. Lili just began to laugh like a mischevious imp until a gloved fist landed on her head, knocking her onto her butt as a cool and reprimanding voice sounded out, “Lili, you’ve been getting carried away a lot lately…are you going back on your promise?”

Since the hand that had struck her had several metallic plates, Lili rubbed the top of her head with a teary-eyed expression and complained, “Ais, you’re too violent!” Then, after pulling herself back to her feet, Lili continued rubbing the growing bump on her head and said, “I’m just playing around. Seriously, even with this form, you’re the real ‘Succubus’ between us…” To this accusation, Ais just averted her eyes slightly and, seeing Vahn sitting on the ground smiling at them, returned one of her own as she said, “Perhaps…but it’s Vahn’s fault I’m like this…”

Hearing this, Tiona raised her hand like one of the children that attended the School and exclaimed, “Nope! Ais has always been a perverted and curious girl, you can’t blame Vahn for that~! Ahahaha…” Though she had been very ‘proud’ of her claim, Tiona’s laughter trailed off at the end when Ais turned her golden eyes towards her, apparently not as amused by the claim. However, after a few seconds of awkward silence, all of the girls began to laugh, including Lili. She had moved over to sit in Vahn’s lap and was currently getting the growing lump on her head treated while they were fooling around.

Over the last year, which had been closer to 4-5 years for the girls, they had become a lot closer to each other and liked to tease one another, especially during the lulls in their training. In truth, at least amongst the three of them here, they were all a little more ‘perverted’ than was probably healthy, as they had made it a competition amongst themselves to see who could ‘win’ against Vahn when they were together. As a result, Lili had developed her ‘Succubus’ transformation, ironically basing it off information she had obtained from books and observing Lefiya. Not only was her body very ‘unique’, almost to an extent that could even rival girls like Syr, but Lefiya’s saliva actually gained an aphrodisiac effect that she liked to use when teasing some of the other girls…

As for Tiona, though she couldn’t actually change the fundamental nature of her body so easily, she would sometimes use her [Pactio] transformation to make things more ‘interesting’. Since Amazons, in general, were already very pleasant girls to have sex with, the various exotic qualities she would adopt when transformed were very refreshing. As for Ais, she simply made up for her own inability to ‘transform’ by developing her skills in the bedroom a little ‘too far’. She had always been a very curious and competitive girl so, after several years of ‘practice’, she had become a very ‘scary’ existence in the bedroom. She was one of the few people that could directly contend against him in the bedroom, with the only others being goddesses like Freya, demigoddesses like Syr, and ‘anomalies’ like Lefiya and Lili…

Thinking of Lefiya, Vahn suddenly felt the ‘link’ between them begin to fluctuate slightly, followed by her voice actually sounding in his mind, (“Master, were you thinking of me~?”) Vahn released a chuckle, impressed by how ‘sensitive’ Lefiya was to their bond, as the only others that could contend with her were Hestia, Fenrir, Hephaestus, Loki, and Terra. He sent her a quick message, explaining that he was indeed thinking about her, including the ‘context’ behind his whimsical thoughts. He could almost ‘feel’ her blushing through the link they shared and, moments later, a magic circle actually appeared next to him as Lefiya ‘forcefully’ summoned herself to his side.

With the introduction of the carnivorous spirit, the ‘training’ session had quickly been derailed and the group had to move to a more private location. Almost as if they were making up for ‘lost time’ from when he had been busy with the Elven Kingdom, the last few days since Vahn’s return had been filled with passionate emotions and romantic rendezvous. Though he was getting back into the swing of his own training, it was very difficult to keep his focus for long periods of time when the girls’ auras were constantly ‘clinging’ to him whenever they were relaxing. Unable to refuse them, or perhaps instinctually incapable of it, on a very primal level, Vahn often found himself giving into the momentum of the situation, something the girls hadn’t voiced any complaints about…

Back in the real world, Vahn tapped the tip of his pen against the document he had been perusing and let his mind wander to what was going on within the orb for a while. This didn’t last long, however, as he sensed a small presence sneaking around outside his office. Placing down his pen, and pushing the set of documents to the side, Vahn went to the door and opened it just as a tiny figure was trying to stretch up and turn the doorknob. This had spooked the young girl on the opposite side of the door but, before she was able to fall to the ground, Vahn had already swooped down and picked her up, asking, “Did you want to spend time with Papa, Lenneth~?”

Though she was still a little spooked, Lenneth nodded her but asked, “Is Papa busy…?” while tilting her head to the side, allowing her adorable silver pigtails to bob. Vahn just chuckled lightly, carrying her into the room so he could spend some time with this adorable little daughter of his. He pulled out the book that had been previously reading and allowed Lenneth to snuggle up in his embrace as she attempted to mouth each of the words on the page. To prevent himself from getting distracted, Vahn activated his [Will of the Emperor] with his main body while keeping things ‘relatively’ tame with his Avatar.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Vahn spent time helping Lenneth improve upon her vocabulary while he eventually finished things within the sub-space orb. Since he had previously stored the documents in his Inventory, Vahn pulled them out within the orb and began going over the various stacks of paperwork that required his attention. Though the gods were still the primary authorities within the Alliance, he was publically the Alliance Head or, more specifically, the Commander in Chief of the Alliance’s forces. He not only had the authority to command any of the Familia within the Alliance, but was also in charge of approving larger projects and personally finalizing negotiations.

Every day, Vahn felt like he would have to spend hours sorting through paperwork, as he needed to seriously consider each matter before making a decision. Though he could ‘change’ his mind later, he didn’t want to get into the habit of being an unreliable leader. Trust was the most important thing for any large organization and the fewer mistakes the made, the easier it was to implement more difficult policy changes in the future. These formative years were pivotal to ensuring things ran smoothly later on and, as he was about to be within the Dungeon for a long period of time, Vahn needed to make sure things were properly dealt with before he ventured down.

Though he could return to the surface in a relatively short period of time, Vahn wanted to always be at the ‘heart’ of things, even if events started to flow around Bell with the influence of fate. It was fortunate that he had two bodies to work with, or else it would be even more difficult to deal with things in the future. Even though he wouldn’t be able to move the girls in and out of the Dungeon, as the function was restricted based on the distance between Floors, he had already confirmed that his ‘Unit Management’ was able to get around this restriction.

Simply put, he could move anything that was directly linked to his soul and had been reconstituted with his [Keeper of the Akashic Tome]. This meant, wherever his bodies were, Vahn could summon Terra, Fenrir, Fafnir, and Khaos to his side at a moment’s notice. This functionality, on top of the fact that his Inventory was linked through the system interface, meant Vahn could move things in and out of the Dungeon in an instant. He could also facilitate communication between the Dungeon and the Surface through his two bodies and instantaneously react to anything the enemies tried to throw at them. Though he certainly couldn’t prepare for everything, Vahn was determined to at least be able to ‘react’ to any changes in the situation…

No matter what it took, Vahn was determined to protect this place that had become his home, even if it meant confronting ‘fate’ itself. One day, when he returned to this record, the influence of fate would probably become the most serious threat he had to face. Thus far, he had been able to overcome any challenges thrown his way. Now, the flow of fate would be revolving around someone else and Vahn wanted to use this as an opportunity to get a better understanding of how it worked. In the future, he wanted to be able to directly influence fate and, as there were no such things as ‘impossibilities’ within The Path, Vahn knew it would be possible if he never gave up trying…

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