Chapter 776: Fate

As he was ought to do, Vahn awoke early in the morning with a beautiful woman snuggled up in his arms, bare body pressed into his own as subtle signs of the previous night’s activities marred their flesh. Leaning over, Vahn kissed the light grey hair that had been tickling his nose, stirring awake the blissfully sleeping beauty, causing similarly light grey eyes to turn up and meet his as she lazily mused, “Good morning…Vahn…” Reaching out his hand, removing some stray strands of hair, Vahn pressed forward with his lips, sampling the sensuous sweetness of her lips and tantalizing tongue before responding, “Good morning, Syr…” In response to his kiss, Syr just nuzzled into the nook of his neck and released a sigh as she said, “We won’t be able to have sex for a while pretty soon…did you want to ‘sleep in’ with me this morning~?”

Vahn released a light chuckle before reaching his right hand down, tracing the curve of Syr’s body before bringing his palm to rest on her abdomen. Turning his glimmering green eyes to match the loving expression of the beautiful girl in his arms, Vahn smiled and began gently stroking her stomach as he said, “There will be plenty of time for things like that in the future…you shouldn’t push yourself so hard, Syr.”

Feeling Vahn’s warm palm diffusing energy into her body, Syr felt very comfortable and simply entrusted her body to his completely while playfully pouting, “Moouuu…you better not let my body get saggy after I give birth, Vahn…” This caused Vahn to begin laughing loudly, as he couldn’t even imagine any part of Syr’s flawless body ‘sagging’, regardless of what happened in the future. Even if she gave birth a thousand times, Vahn still felt like Syr would look like an inordinately beautiful young woman, constantly skirting the border between innocence and sensuality. For now, however, he was content with her just giving birth once, proud that their ‘efforts’ had borne fruit two months prior.

Syr was currently the only girl within the Manor that was pregnant, something that had caught all of them off guard since it was ‘very’ rare for a Demigoddess to get pregnant. Because she had wanted her pregnancy to occur naturally, it had taken nearly twenty months of ‘effort’ before Syr ended up getting pregnant. Though they didn’t spend every night together, she was one of the girls that often appeared whenever he had group activities, at least in the beginning. Later on, his time with Syr had been cut down a bit, as a result of being split between Orario and the Elven Kingdom. However, quantity didn’t seem to matter much and, after spending an intimate night alone together, Syr ended up getting pregnant completely naturally.

Though they didn’t do anything more sensual, Vahn still decided to take Syr up on her offer and spent the better part of two hours just cuddling with her. It wasn’t until Maemi had sent him a telepathic message, informing him that Loki was looking for him, that Vahn finally crawled out of bed. As for Syr herself, she decided to sleep in for a bit since she was still tired from the previous night’s exertions. Vahn spent a few minutes helping her get comfortable and making sure she was properly tucked in before making his way down the stairs to the main study, where Loki, Hestia, Anubis, Maemi, and Emiru were all waiting for him.

Anubis’ tail began to wag gently when she saw him enter into the room, bowing slightly as she said, “Good morning, Master…” Vahn smiled, returning her greeting and stroking her head for a short while before sitting down next to Hestia and Eirene. Loki made a small frowny face, acting as though she was bothered that he chose to sit in between them instead of next to her. However, she was only playing around and quickly got to the point before Vahn even asked, “That boy, Bell Cranel, had registered at the Guild and started looking around for a Familia this morning. The little werewolf girl, Rose, received the message and relayed it through Aisha, who then told Eina, who passed on the message onto the Network. What did you want to do about it, Vahn~?”

The moment he heard Loki’s words, Vahn’s somewhat tired expression immediately morphed into a more serious one as he reminded, “That boy has an incredibly powerful fate and will likely become one of the Alliance’s most important allies. However, that doesn’t mean we should cater to him and provide everything that he needs. Even if left alone, I believe events will transpire that forces our paths to converge at some point…though, that isn’t really my intent…” Vahn knew that, if he let Bell’s ‘fate’ jumpstart things, it might be in the form of an event outside of their control. By bringing Bell into their fold early on, even if he allowed the boy to take action on his own, Vahn believed they would be able to avoid some of the more troublesome events that would normally surround a ‘protagonist’.

After thinking this far, Vahn matched Loki’s gaze and said, “I want to observe him and see what kind of person he is with my own eyes. Since he had been raised by Zeus, there is always a chance that he could have become brainwashed by that old pervert’s idea of what it means to be a hero. As we previously planned, I think it would be best for him to join the Loki Familia but I also want to see if events transpire that lead him to any particular Familia. I’ll leave my avatar here and go observe him personally for the next couple of days.”

Loki nodded her head, also adopting a serious expression as she reminded, “I don’t mind if that boy ends up becoming the ‘heart’ of my Familia, but I won’t let my other children be endangered so easily. Though I’m also curious to see what kind of existence could have such a powerful ‘fate’ around them, I’m not going to just watch on the sidelines if things begin going south. For now, I’ll let Finn take the actions he deems prudent but, if that boy triggers an event bigger than they can handle, you’ll have to be ready to step in at a moment’s notice.” Even if some people assumed she only treated her ‘children’ as tools, Loki still cared for them very deeply. After being influenced by Vahn, this nature of her’s had become even stronger, especially after having an actual daughter of her own.

Previously, in preparation for the events that would follow, everyone within the Hearth Manor had gotten together to discuss Enyo, the forces outside Orario, and key figures such as the ‘Heroes’ and Bell Cranel. Since Bell had even been able to reach Level 9 in the Divination, becoming the Commander of the forces probing deeper into the Dungeon, his potential couldn’t be ignored. Though he certainly wasn’t ‘necessary’, Vahn knew that things would actually be harder to deal with if he tried to remove Bell from the equation. It was similar to how he had received a quest to save Haruhime in the past, an event he could have avoided entirely if he had been willing to shoulder the burden of the world on his own.

Vahn knew that there were certain ‘key’ figures that would likely be involved with future events, primarily revolving around Bell, Ais, and Haruhime. Ais had been the ‘heroine’ in the story and, now that she was involved with him, Vahn didn’t know how fate would have changed to incorporate her into the events that would follow. This was the same for Haruhime, though Vahn assumed that her influence on events was likely related to her Level-Up magic, not necessarily any specific action she would have taken. Still, he didn’t know these things for certain and, fearing that withholding the knowledge would cause even more problems, Vahn had disclosed as much information as he could without exposing the existence of The Path. It helped that he actually had access to several different means of divining the future, with Cassandra, Sylfia, and Ina, while also having experienced an actual Divination himself.

The current ‘plan’, if it could be called that, was simply to go about their own lives as much as possible while simultaneously doing their best to keep each other informed of any ‘events’ that might take place. One of the best means to maneuver around fate was simply to communicate with each other and, as they were able to telepathically communicate, they already had some massive advantages. As for everything else, such as interacting with Bell himself, that would be up to the prerogative of everyone on an individual level, so long as they weren’t going out of their way to act out of character or on a ‘whim’.

Vahn had already warned everyone about Bell’s [Luck] so, if anything happened to ‘trigger’ an event, they needed to be firm with the boy to prevent the unique Development Ability from putting them in compromising positions. Though Vahn believed [Luck] wouldn’t lead Bell into a situation where it drew him the ire of other people, Vahn would personally extend some punishment on the boy if he ended up having a ‘fated encounter’ with one of his girls. Since he had already seen the type of person Zeus was, and interacted with Hera, Vahn didn’t believe for a moment that the two gods didn’t intend to use Bell to their advantage at some point.

One of the things Vahn couldn’t help thinking about was how fate might alter the flow of events to allow Bell to cross paths with one of the Vanir in the future. He didn’t believe it was a coincidence that the Vanir’s ages put them around the same age as the young Hero, especially with how Vana was already pressing him to allow her to venture into the Dungeon. Though Vahn wouldn’t prevent his daughter’s from falling in love in the future, he didn’t like the idea that ‘fate’ would have already paired his children with someone else, at least until they were of age. If Bell tried to make a pass at one of his 2-3-year-old daughters, Vahn would take the boy so far away from the continent of Eden that the young protagonist would never be able to influence events again, fate be damned…

After getting the information regarding Bell’s last known location, Vahn changed his form slightly and set out into the City, seeking out the boy that used to be his favorite character within the original story. Now, that impression had faded a bit, likely as a result of accruing nearly 120 years of experience within the Space-Time orb, so Vahn wasn’t as excited to meet him. Though he was certain Bell would be a good friend, Vahn no longer felt bound by the idea that he ‘needed’ to befriend him simply based on his previous understanding of the boy’s character.

Any number of things could have changed over the last three years to fundamentally change the type of person Bell was, especially since Zeus probably wasn’t too fond of him. Even so, Vahn believed that Zeus had probably tried to bother him within the Divination as well and, considering Bell had still become a central character, Vahn believed it was still worth getting to know him. At the very least, it would be nice to have a male friend that might actually be able to stand at his back in the middle of a fight. Though he trusted the girls with his life, there was also a part of Vahn that was absolutely terrified by the prospect of losing any of them. Unless it was a situation where he could be reasonably certain they weren’t endangered, Vahn couldn’t easily expose the girls to the ‘real’ monsters that inhabited the world…

Since he had seen existences like Siegfried and Jeanne, Vahn knew it was possible for people to reach a degree of power he hadn’t actually considered possible before glimpsing it with his own eyes. He knew Bell would actually be able to become much stronger than either of those two, as he was the ‘main character’, so his expectations for the boy had gone up greatly after his battle with the Dragon Knight. Vahn was curious to see how quickly Bell would grow as well, especially since the latter must have been able to reach a strength that allowed him to ‘save’ the world in a relatively short period of time…

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While ruminating over the future, Vahn arrived in the area where Bell was last seen, which happened to be one of the Familia associated with the Alliance, the Skadi Familia. Without announcing his presence, Vahn walked in through the front gate and beheld the rather homely looking residence of the Skadi Familia, looking like an oversized hut that might belong to a skilled Hunter. There were numerous hides, bones, and drop items on display all around while the majority of the members present carried various different sized bows, shortswords, and daggers. The Skadi Familia was one of the few that focused on ‘hunting’ monsters instead of killing them, harvesting them for the greatest number of resources instead of simply killing them.

Though many of them had noticed his presence, it was a young woman with dark brown hair, styled in a boyish cut without any attempts to manage it. There were two red markings under her hazel-brown eyes and she was wearing leather armor that, contrary to how many females Adventurers wore their clothing, covered most of her body. On her back, there was a green shortbow that had a small amount of mana present within, making it a relatively high-grade magic weapon, even though it looked rather simple at a glance.

With a look of intrigue, the woman came forward and asked, “Are you here to try and join our Familia as well? We’re lucky to get a new member each month, much less two prospective members in one day…tell me, kiddo, do you know your way around a bow? Ever hunted anything?” While speaking, the girl was giving Vahn an appraising look and, even though he had disguised himself to an extent, she was still ‘very’ impressed by what she saw. At the very least, from her perspective, he was much better than the scrawny kid that had barely been able to form a coherent sentence…

Vahn was almost seized by his urge to show off but, remembering the times he had embarrassed himself in the past, he simply smiled and said, “My skills with a bow aren’t bad, but that isn’t why I came here. That other boy you mentioned, with white hair and red eyes, I’m actually looking for him. It would help me out if you could point me in his direction…” As he was speaking, though he tried to keep things casual, Vahn noticed that the girl’s aura had taken on a slightly pink hue. Seeing this caused his smile to tense up slightly, but he kept his calm and simply cursed the Development Ability he had never intended to awaken…

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[[Stats]]

Name: [Vahn Mason]

Age: 15

Race: Half-Doppelganger, *sealed*

Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]

-Level: 6(+)

-Power: 4001+(E408)(A/N: Weak!!!)

-Endurance: 5713+(D577)

-Dexterity: 5156+(C623)

-Agility: 4492+(D501)

-Magic: 11611+(S924)(A/N: Vahn’s Magic would make him a Level 12 xD…)

Total: 30,973+(3,033)

Soul Tier: 3 (Lord Soul)

[Karma]: 93,413

[OP]: 103,408,882

[Valis]: 11,007,912,050

Skills: [Will of the Emperor:SSS], [Rakshasa Body:D->C], [Keeper of the Akashic Tome:B], [Eyes of Truth: B],[Bow Mastery:S], [Stealth:A->S], [Chainbreaker:S], [Heart of the Eternal Flame:SS], [Prometheus:A], [Call of the Reaper:A],[Yggdrasil’s Favor:S], [Veil of the Traveler: S], [Featherfoot:S], [Hands of Nirvana:S->SS], [Metallurgy:B], [Fist Strike:A->S], [Friend of Spirits:A], [Void Ward:E->A]

Magic: [Thria*Mimos:A->S], [Shundo:S->SS], [Koku Shundo:C->B], [Cantus Bellax:S], [Mellodia Bellax:B], [Vis Maxima:E->B], [Sagitta Magica:B->S], [Pactio:S], [Magia Erebea:SS], [Dios Tukos:C]

Development Skills: [Wound Transfer:S], [Well of Spirit:C->A], [Swordsman:A], [Master Smith:H], [Mixing:C], [Mentor:A], [Grooming:D->B], [Arch Mage:I->G], [Charm:E](new)

[Charm]

Rank: E

Use: Increases the ability to build rapport with other people, especially members of the opposite sex.

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While he had been dealing with the affairs of the Elven Kingdom, Vahn had left a deep impression on a great number of people, especially the female Elves he interacted with. He had personally applied the crests of 1,739 females and, as Elven women are typically very reserved, the rather intimate ceremony had won him the favor and fanfare of more than a few of them. As his reputation continued to improve, Vahn eventually awakened the [Charm] Development Ability, an exceedingly rare ability that has only been documented a few times within the Guild’s records. Ever since he had awakened the ability that would have earned him the envy of almost any other man, Vahn’s life had been filled with troubles as even his own women seemed marginally more attached than normal…

Mentally shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Vahn listened as the woman explained, “Ah, that kid wanted to join our Familia but I sent him along after he said he had never used a bow before. All he had on him was the dagger given out by the Guild, so I guess he is a complete novice…” Then, as if realizing something, the woman frowned slightly and said, “Actually, I think I saw him run off in the direction of Babel Tower after I turned him away…you should probably hurry along if he is your friend. I hope he hasn’t done anything stupid just because some of our members teased him a little…”

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Vahn, having just cleared his head from stray thoughts, felt like his brain had been completely emptied by the woman’s words. He couldn’t help but ask, (“Sis…do you think…there is no way that could be the case…right?”) Unfortunately, the only thing Vahn heard in response was a sigh before Sis said, (*You should be an existence outside the influence of fate, under normal circumstances…but, as you have seen with Tina, your willingness to be involved in events allows fate to have some indirect influence on you. If you don’t chase after Bell now, he may end up dying before his journey even begins…*)

Before Sis had even finished her words, Vahn had already disappeared from the small courtyard, stunning the members of the Skadi Familia. Vahn now realized that it might not even be the other people around him that ended up getting wrapped up in Bell’s fate, but he himself would be the anchor between the other significant characters and Bell. This wasn’t that much of a surprise but, given how events were playing out, Vahn couldn’t help but feel as though he had become the ‘key’ to Bell’s future growth. Just as Ais had saved him in the original story, it looked like fate had conspired to put him into the position of Bell’s would-be savior. The fact that he didn’t get a quest for it was a little bothersome but, considering how annoying things would be if Bell spontaneously died, it didn’t really matter too much…

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//Optional Quest Triggered//

[Quest: Is it Wrong to Pick up Heroes in a Dungeon?]

Rank: B

Objective: Save Bell Cranel from his inevitable death as a result of the changes to fate. [0H17M43S]

Rewards: 1x[Fate Severing Knife], 18,000OP

Failure Conditions: Death, Death of Bell Cranel

Penalty: 5,000 Karma, Recognition as a threat by the Record’s Laws

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Seeing the sudden notification, Vahn nearly ‘slipped’ in mid-air and, after regaining his senses, immediately began chanting his [Dios Tukos] before absorbing it with his [Magia Erebea]. Then, like a flash of lightning, Vahn made his way to the entrance of Babel Tower, bypassed all the startled Adventurers located within, and then made his way into the entrance of the Dungeon. With less than seventeen minutes to find a single person within the Dungeon, Vahn knew he didn’t have that much time. Though he knew it might be the machinations of fate, trying to set things in motion, Vahn also sent a telepathic message to the girls explaining the situation. While he was quickly making his way through the first floor, he summoned Fenrir, Ais, Tiona, Tione, Lili, Naaza, Chloe, Arnya, and Nanu to his side, having them break off to find the boy ‘supposedly’ loved by fate…

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