Early morning, Vahn found himself relaxing in a small study, reclining on a rather comfortable chair with three adorable little angels using his body to much the same effect. He was holding Aisha in his left arm, Autumn in his right arm, and had Lenneth sitting in his lap, snuggled up into his chest while her sisters used his shoulders as pillows. Vahn was going to be busy in the afternoon and had decided to spend some time with them but, partway through their small study session, Aisha had begun to doze off. With her taking the lead, the other two girls also decided it was a good time for a nap, thus leading to this rather wholesome situation Vahn found himself in.
From the entrance to the room, a pair of adorable rounded cat ears appeared, fixed atop the head of a rather beautiful young woman wearing a maid outfit. She, Emiru, had noticed there wasn’t any sound coming from the room and peered in to see what was going on. Sighting Vahn with his three daughters all taking a nap, Emiru felt her heart flutter a bit and nearly jumped out of her skin when her Master suddenly opened his eyes. Vahn gave her a small smile, mentally asking (“Is there something the matter, Emiru…?”)
The Snow Leopard in question lightly pat her chest to calm her rapidly beating heart as she returned a smile of her own and said, (“No, there isn’t anything in particular, Master. I was just passing by and noticed it was very quiet, even though I could smell Master and the young missuses. I’m sorry if I disturbed you…”) Bowing in a polite and proper manner, Emiru’s rounded ears lay flat against her head, adding to appeal greatly. Seeing this, Vahn’s smile softened and, if he could see his own affection towards others, he was certain that his would have gone up a few points towards the adorable little maid standing at the door.
As had been the case quite often recently, Vahn was feeling a little whimsical with his affections so, using his affections as a justification, he replied, (“I’ll be busy this afternoon, but I haven’t made any particular plans for the evening. The two of you should come by my room, if you’re feeling up for it…”) Almost as soon as the words left his mind, they resounded in Emiru’s head, allowing Vahn to see her rounded and plush tail curl up excitedly as a lovely smile bloomed across her face. This time, she bowed even lower than before, palms crossed over her lap as she loudly responded, (“Yes, Master~! I’m looking forward to it, very much!”)
Not tarrying much longer, Emiru left the room after her mental exclamation, a bit of a skip in her step as she drew a beeline towards her equally excited sister. Even though it wouldn’t be for several hours, the two were planning to go through their wardrobe and pick out some suitable clothing for the event that would take place in the evening. Recently, they had been working with Haruhime to sew some ‘unique’ outfits that would appeal to their Master, this time a maid outfit that was missing a cover for the chest and had a skirt that barely covered half of the buttocks their Master was so fond of…
Though he didn’t know exactly what she was thinking, Vahn knew that Emiru probably had something interesting planned based on her reaction. His own anticipation was beginning to build and he suddenly felt like the matter he needed to take care of this afternoon was a minor inconvenience. Of course, when that thought crossed his mind, Vahn immediately dashed it away since it was actually something very important towards the future. Not only would it potentially change the lives of everyone involved, but it was something that would have far-reaching effects on all people in the near, and distant, future.
There were still around four months until the next semester would begin but there were a few children that had been performing well in the ‘Magical Studies’ class. The majority were Elves, but there were also a few humans, three Beast Persons, and one of the children he had personally known even before the School had opened, the young orphan, Roux. As a Half-Elf, she wouldn’t be able to use ‘normal’ magic, without undergoing Nirvana, but Roux actually had a decent aptitude when her control of magical energy had been tested. This meant, using Eva’s magic system, she would be perfectly capable of using magic with a fair amount of study and a bit of practice.
Though she was only nine years old, slightly too early for any significant growth in her magical power, Roux had been studying very hard ever since entering the School. While Fina and Rye had still been stuck in the basic classes, Roux had actually earned five credits, two from passing her classes and three from self-study and taking exams on her own volition. It seemed she had taken his words back then very seriously and, not doubting them in the slightest, was absolutely determined to become a capable Mage. Since her success would fundamentally change the perception that Half-Elves couldn’t use magic, Vahn had been giving her supportive words whenever he saw her surrounded by pillars of stacked books within the School’s Library.
Thinking of the hard-working little Half-Elf, Vahn cracked a small smile and hugged his daughters close, hoping they would also be studious and hard-working in the future. Unfortunately, he knew Aisha and Lenneth leaned more towards Vana in nature, even though Lenneth would often use books as a pretext to spend time with him. As for Autumn, she was a very quiet girl who liked to go through picture books filled with various plants and animals. She had also started to show a small interest in medicine so Vahn assumed she would end up going the route of a physician or veterinarian…
While his main body was in the real world with his daughters, Vahn’s avatar was within the orb fighting against Arnya. They had already decided who would be going on the expedition and, being one of the main forces that would be protecting Haven, Arnya had been trying to get as much practice with her [Pactio] as she could. Vahn had also wanted to try and get better at dodging fast attacks in his base form and, as Arnya was a very prodigious spearman, she was also one of the best possible candidates to help him improve his own spearmanship. In fact, after their very first lesson with each other, Vahn ended up obtaining the [Spearman:I] Development Ability, something he intended to at least get to A-Rank within the next 4-6 months. (A/N: There are around 25 days until the expedition, meaning Vahn’s avatar could spend around 150 days in the orb. Leet haxor :)…)
Arnya’s raiment was one of the more interesting ones among the girls, taking on the form of a tan overcoat in much the same way as Mikoto’s. The biggest difference was that Arnya’s had a strange cross-motif along the individual splits of the coat. There was also a circular gap formed by a golden loop, located around the divide of the two coattails that allowed her tail to poke through without causing any discomfort. At the same time, there were two belts that crisscrossed around her hips, keeping the coat in place as she dashed around at high speeds and barraged him with not one, but two spears in her hands.
Instead of simply using her spears as projectile weapons, Arnya had been developing a fighting style where she could freely pull them out and store them away in an instant, conserving her mana and making almost impossible to adapt to her fighting style. Even with the enhancements of his perception, Vahn often found himself pressured by the tempestuous attacks that would assault him from every conceivable angle. However, he hadn’t been slouching nearly as much lately and, instead of being ‘helpless’ in the spar, Vahn was able to use his [Longinus] to parry a few of the attacks while using his own nimble body to evade the rest. He would still end up with some shallow cuts every now and then, but it was much better than when they first started sparring a few days priors. (A/N: Once again, this is a few days in the orb, not the real world.)
Previously, when his training with the girls had begun, it wasn’t uncommon for him to lose an average of three limbs-per-minute, a unit of measurement that was rather unnerving. However, as he would only benefit even more by using such an ‘extreme’ method of training, Vahn had persisted to the point that he could now avoid any major loss of limbs against almost everyone except Haruhime and Ais. They were a bit of an exception, even amongst the group of exceptional girls, as Ais’ attacks were almost impossible to counter while Haruhime’s were impossible to read…
Towards the end of their spar, Arnya made a movement with her body spinning low to the ground, causing Vahn’s hairs to stand on end as she disappeared from sight. Trusting his instincts, he used [Shundo] to move forward in a ‘flicker’ and kicked back after the small evasive maneuver. Arnya had appeared behind him, using a unique version of [Shundo] she had been developing and he had just barely avoided a decapitation by her true spear, [Gulgeirr].
Vahn’s foot carried toward her abdomen, but Arnya skillfully traced the shaft of her spear in a circular motion to deflect the counter-blow while a golden light emerged from both the right and left sides of his body. In normal circumstances, he would have immediately moved to dodge with [Shundo] but this time Vahn surprised her by using the momentum of when she diverted his kick to jump, twisting his body as the two spears passed where he had previously stood. In the same motion, Vahn thrust his [Longinus] downward, aiming towards Arnya but finding her spear tracing a perfect line to meet his own.
Unfortunately for Vahn, this ended up being a misconception as, instead of coming to meet his spear, Arnya’s passed just next to his, diverting it away from her body as her own traced a ‘dangerous’ path towards the fleshy bit between his legs. This time, even though his own use of teleportation was severely lacking, Vahn used nearly 90% of his energy reserves just to flicker a few meters away and avoid that especially dangerous strike. He couldn’t help but look at Arnya with blame and indignation written across his face as she laughed in a mischevious manner, saying, “Nyahaha, I would have stopped before it hit. I don’t think the girls would let me live it down if I actually followed through with that strike~.”
Even with her words of assurance, Vahn felt like his legs had turned to jelly as he plopped down onto the ground and released a sigh. Arnya released another awkward laugh before stowing her [Gulgeirr] away in the small golden bracelet on her left wrist. Over the last year, with the assistance of Terra and her memory fragment, they had been able to emulate the function of a unique item he had purchased through the shop known as an [Interspatial Ring].
Vahn had learned about the ridiculously convenient item through his research into Cultivation and, by attuning metals with a high adaptability towards Space Elemental Laws, they had been able to create accessories for the girls to store extra equipment and items. They were another important secret of the Alliance, but Vahn intended to publicize them as one of Haven’s unique products in the future. For these items alone, Vahn was absolutely certain that a large number of people would try to make the trip…
Arnya had walked over at this point, taking a seat next to him before laying down and using his spread arm as a pillow. Vahn didn’t mind her action at all, as it was far tamer than how some of the girls would behave after their spars, so he just let her snuggle up at her leisure. Generally, after a hard-fought battle concluded, Vahn would then spend a good hour or so just relaxing with them before he moved on and began sparring with his next opponent. After Arnya, he would be facing off against the terrifying Ais, so Vahn felt like he needed to use this time to mentally prepare himself. Fortunately, with his real body snuggled up with his daughters, Vahn was able to fall into a relaxed state very quickly, at least until Arnya’s somewhat dry tongue licked the base of his jawline.
For a brief moment, Vahn could feel his tensions increase but, after realizing she was just affectionately grooming him, he quickly calmed down and enjoyed the sensation. The giveaway had been the fact that her aura, while having a pink coloration, was filled with warm yellows and soft blues instead of anything more passionate. She was likely trying to ‘apologize’ for nearly skewering him previously so Vahn allowed the tensions to completely drain away while she systematically licked around the entire left side of his head, including the fringe of his scalp…
After enjoying his morning alongside his cute daughters, it was finally time for Vahn to head off to the School. Riveria had already been waiting for him outside the Manor’s entrance so Vahn used his telekinesis to lift her body before flying off towards the School at a casual pace. Along the way, Riveria looked down over the City while enjoying the warm energy enveloping her body, remaining relatively silent until just before they reached the School’s grounds. Still, when she did speak, it was only three soft words that Vahn wasn’t quite sure were meant for him, simply, “Flying is nice…”
Upon landing, even though it wasn’t necessary, Vahn extended his hand as he lowered Riveria’s body to the ground. She graciously accepted it with a small smile and, like a goddess descending upon the earth, landed softly next to him. Vahn returned a smile of his own, stating, “If you’d like, I have confidence in creating an item that will allow you to fly for short distances. I still haven’t had Asfi show me how she creates Magic Items, either, so I could probably reach out to her if you want something more practical…” Vahn recalled that Asfi actually had a pair of sandal-shaped magic items that could allow her to fly, figuring it would be a useful item for most of the girls, not just Riveria.
In response to his words, Riveria released a soft laugh and said, “I would like to be able to fly at your side, instead of being carried along by you. If it won’t burden your current schedule, I wouldn’t mind accepting such a gift…thanks in advance, Vahn.” Then, looking around to ensure there were no witnesses, Riveria leaned in an gave him a light peck on the lips before a soft blush spread across her cheeks. Vahn’s own expression turned into a gratified grin and, as it would be prudent to develop the items before the expedition, Vahn made a mental note to contact Asfi later.
Ever since the incident within the Dungeon, Vahn had only seen Asfi twice, both times when she had stopped by the Manor and rather awkwardly apologized before mentioning that she was prepared to make Magic Items whenever he was ready. Since he had been busy at the time, and also wanted to avoid any ‘troublesome’ developments, Vahn had politely turned her away and promised to reach out to her when he was ready. He knew that, especially the second time, he had hurt Asfi’s feelings a little but, considering he wasn’t trying to get involved with her, it had been a necessary action to take.
Vahn knew that Asfi still felt a lot of guilt about what happened and, as she had intended to make amends personally, it had been difficult on her knowing that she had yet to be called upon. The reason for this was simple, however, as Vahn had noticed her Affection was hovering in the upper nineties and was trending in a direction that would have them develop a relationship.
Though this was ‘necessarily’ a problem, Vahn didn’t want to be involved with another person simply as a result of guilt or for personal indebtment. He knew that Asfi would inevitably request his assistance with her home Kingdom and, in order to ensure that he would help, would probably dedicate herself a little too strongly to him. Since he had already promised to help her, as a friend, Vahn felt uncomfortable with this thought and, as he couldn’t even spend time with some of the girls he was already involved with, he simply prevented things from developing further from the start…
After walking along with Riveria for a few minutes, the two arrived outside of the Headmaster’s Office, belong to Vahn himself. There was still a bit of time before the preliminary exam was scheduled to start so Vahn set out some tea for Riveria and the two relaxed in his relatively lavish office for a few minutes. During that time, Riveria had been leaning against his shoulder and Vahn had to fight the urge to nibble on her long ear, tantalizingly located just on the periphery of his vision. Since she would probably ‘shun’ him for a while after the fact, as a result of embarrassing her in public, Vahn behaved himself and just enjoyed the time they had together.
When it was nearing 1 PM, just after the children would typically finish eating lunch, Vahn and Riveria walked through the hallways towards their destination classroom, politely greeting the excited students who would loudly exclaim whenever they saw him. Most of the boys would have looks of excitement, mixed with a great deal of respect, while the larger student body, comprised of the girls, had a variety of different reactions.
Vahn knew there was a fan club comprised of some of the more ‘excitable’ girls within the School, but it wasn’t that uncommon for many of the younglings to flush slightly whenever they came across him. It took a lot of self-restraint and individual training just for him to break the habit of patting anyone he came across, though it seemed like many of the girls hadn’t been fond of this development as, at times, they would sometimes stand a little too close to him with expectant looks on their adorable little faces.
Along the way, seeing how all the students behaved around him, Riveria had a gentle yet teasing smile on her face as she said, “My, you are rather popular, my Husband…it seems the rumor within the Manor about you being good at coaxing young girls needs to be treated more seriously…” Vahn tensed up a little when he heard this but managed to laugh it off a few seconds later since he knew she was just teasing him a little. In truth, he did have a soft spot for children in general and it wasn’t just the young girls that he would extend a hand to. If he knew they wouldn’t be upset by the action, Vahn would ruffle the hair of some of the younger boys as well, giving a few kind words to encourage them to work hard.
After reaching the Classroom, Vahn saw Tenjin waiting for them along with a few students who had already arrived. Out of the corner of his eye, even though he had already sensed her, Vahn saw Roux fidget a little and it looked like she was having trouble trying to call out to him. To ease her burdens, Vahn took the initiative to send her a small wave, causing the young Half-Elf to blush as he turned to Tenjin and asked, “How have classes been going, Tenjin?” In response to this, the scholarly god issued a light chuckle and said, “This School of yours is actually quite amazing. I think, once everything settles down, I’d like to bring about some reforms in the Far East to match the standard you’ve established here.”
Vahn gave a small nod, explaining, “There are a lot of specific guidelines that I’d like to have implemented for such things, but it has always been my intention to open more Schools in the future. Though I don’t really have the logistical support to manage it now, I’m certain it will be possible once the various countries have stabilized a bit more. After all, it isn’t really a practical solution to have every child born attend just two or three different Schools…” To this, Tenjin just nodded while stroking his non-existent beard, a habit that he had explained away as being part of his Divinity.
When all the students had arrived, almost each as excited as the rest to see both Vahn and Riveria, it was officially time to test each of their progress. Though he had been willing to see to their education himself, enough time had passed that Riveria was prepared to see to her own duties. She was the official Department Head of the Magic Division of the School and would be in charge of giving the children a basic education in language, magical geometry, ward creation, and basic incantations.
Vahn had already provided her with the majority of Eva’s books on magic theory and Riveria had been making steady progress in her own research on the subject. Though she would never quite reach the pinnacle that people like Lefiya were working towards, Riveria would still be one of the most prolific magic scholars in the future. Of course, if she genuinely wished to become stronger, Vahn had already come up with several potential solutions, though the majority would have to wait until his return to the record in the far future…
After the explanations were finished, the preliminary tests were conducted and, over the twenty-nine applicants, only seventeen ended up meeting the pre-requisites. Unfortunately, Roux hadn’t made the cut this time around since she didn’t have a proper education prior to attending the School, unlike many of the other students. Still, this was just the first round of testing and the students actually had three more opportunities to improve upon their scores before the official enrollment would begin. To ensure Roux, and the other students, would be successful, Vahn gave them a short speech to encourage them and, as the testing had extended into the late afternoon, had all of them gather together for a special dinner with Riveria and himself. Since many of the children were orphans, Vahn knew it would help them a lot to, even for a moment, experience a lively dinner with a familial atmosphere…something he ensured by extending calming and comfortable energy through his domain…