Chapter 812: Snap

While his main body slept, causing a ‘shroud’ to cover his perception, Vahn was using his avatar within the sub-space orb to think of solutions and methods to circumvent Enyo’s plans. Drinking with Gareth and Finn hadn’t exactly provided him with any concrete ideas so he now found himself reclining in a plush spherical chair that allowed a person’s body to sink into it. Curled up on his lap, Vahn had both Fenrir and Nanu keeping him company as he absentmindedly stroked their hair. Since girls with fluffy ears and tails had something of a therapeutic effect on him, Vahn had somewhat selfishly asked them to accompany him for a few hours…

Since there were so many things that were taking place in the ‘future’, Vahn couldn’t help thinking about it and how all the pieces fit together, comprising his jumbled existence. One thing he was considering was how to best use his Unit Management in the future, as it was one of his most powerful functions within the system at present. At the same time, though he had tried to ‘accept’ the idea that whatever happened between him and other girls didn’t matter, part of him was still resistant to the idea. Since ‘opening’ his heart and mind to the idea might exponentially increase the number of women around him, Vahn was considering tempering his mind to both refuse women, without letting their sadness weigh on his heart…

The problem with this was that it made him feel somewhat like Finn, who he had been frustrated with in the past because of the matter with Tione. If girls genuinely fell in love with him, which seemed to be the trend, but he still closed his heart to them…it would be very similar to how Finn had closed his heart to Tione. If there were girls like Sylfia, who showed they were willing to wait several years for him to eventually open his heart…Vahn felt like he had already taken a step down a path filled with endless troubles…

Vahn was genuinely afraid that he simply didn’t have what it took to ‘refuse’ a woman in any meaningful way, especially if she was beautiful or had a nature he could appreciate. Though he had resolved himself to have little to no relationships in future records, well…it was easy to say such things. The question he had to ask himself is if he found some girl with a tragic past, helped her out, and then she fell in love with him…could he actually refuse her? If he became the ‘anchor’ for their existence, much like Chloe had for him in the past, could he simply burden them after potentially becoming their ‘reason’ for living…?

There had been a time when Vahn ‘refused’ such girls, such as when he first met Lili, Haruhime, Preasia, Maemi, and Emiru…but that wall had been broken down a long time ago. In fact, because he had ‘made’ them wait, Vahn had felt very guilty by the time he finally accepted the girls into his heart. It had been very ‘unfair’ to them when he forced them to work hard, essentially making them earn the right to be with him. Now, with things like that as a precedent, Vahn found himself severely lacking ‘reasons’ to refuse women, even though the only one he actually needed was a general unwillingness…he…just…wasn’t…unwilling…!

Feeling a strong urge to break something, Vahn kept his calm by stroking the fluffy ears of the two girls, both of which had already noticed his state and were trying to comfort him. This was another thing he had become very aware of, the fact that he was ‘extremely’ reliant on the girls around him just to maintain his mental stability. There were just so many things going on at any given time that it was almost ‘maddening’ when things were happening outside of his control. All of these events with Enyo were wearing at his patience and Vahn felt himself deviating ever closer to the existence he had embodied as the ‘Emperor’.

Vahn kept telling himself that, even if he walked down that path, he wouldn’t end up the same way…after all, he had so many people supporting him. But, remembering the things he had seen in the Divination, how the girls kept chasing after him tirelessly, Vahn knew he had a great deal of support then as well…even when he had become a terrible person, there were likely hundreds of people propping him up and enabling him to keep moving forward…

It was a strange thought to consider, but Vahn now realized there were actually a lot of problems with having ‘too much’ support. He lived a truly blessed existence, surrounded people that loved and supported all of his decisions. At the same time, this enabled him to do almost anything he wanted to and, with The Path as his biggest support, there were fundamentally no limits placed on him. This had horribly warped his personality into something that was ‘beyond’ the comprehension of other people and, as much as he might try to deny the reality, Vahn knew he was ‘exceptionally’ spoiled…

Realizing this, Vahn began laughing out loud, even as tears poured down his face. He felt such an amazing amount of incredulity and confusion that it felt like something had broken inside of him but, even as this happened, the pieces of his mind were stitched together by all the people he loved, with his children being what kept his mentality firmly rooted in place. Vahn realized the answer had been in front of him the entire time, as it was something that had become his ‘reason’ for existence ever since he first laid eyes on his children. Since he wanted to live by example, Vahn knew he needed to be ‘better’ than he was now…he needed to become a rock that they could always rely upon, not something loose and unstable that would cause them to lose their own footing on the path of life…

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In an instant, the cold energy that had permeated through his mind expanded through his body and mingled with the warmth rising from his heart. Vahn felt the two energies blend together, seemingly neutralizing each other while simultaneously filling him with incredible calm, almost like he was floating in a perfectly placid ocean. At the same time, Vahn felt that this ‘ocean’ was a seemingly endless amount of power that he had access to with but a thought…however, at the same time, Vahn knew that, if he tried to tap into it, the calm would be disrupted and turmoil would be introduced to this extremely peaceful state of mind…

He couldn’t see it himself, but Vahn’s black pupils now radiated with a gentle blue light and, much like they had in the past, there was an ‘illusion’ of a tall figure holding a sword. The difference was, instead of raising it high and appearing extremely tyrannical, the figure had the blade of his sword firmly rooted in the ground as he crossed his hands over the pommel, completely calm, almost as if it were waiting for something. Behind the figure, what appeared to be an endless ocean of people all stood solemn and patient, not even a single movement discernable to be seen amongst them…

By the time Vahn realized the changes, his domain had expanded from 781m and continued to increase until it had extended a thousand meters, omnidirectionally, from Vahn. The same calm persisted in his mind and it almost felt like every action he took was through a ‘filter’ of sorts, even though his senses seemed sharper than ever. It was in this calm state that Vahn made a firm and inviolable resolution that would define his character from that moment forward. He would not be bound by a future that had no relevance on the present other than what little value he afforded it. His love would not be bound by paltry sensibilities that had been concocted by people in a society that was fundamentally flawed from the start. The feelings other people had toward him should never sway his decisions unless they were people he had decided to open his heart to. He would not allow himself to be exploited, nor would he serve as the anchor for someone else’s reality. From this moment onwards, he was Vahn Mason, not the possessor of The Path, but The Path itself. His existence was something inviolable that transcended the very tier system of reality itself. He was never ‘normal’, even when he had been born back on Earth long ago. The life he had lived in Danmachi had been nothing short of exceptional and, the only limitations he had ever possessed were those he placed upon himself. From this point onwards, compassion, love, mercy, these were things he would give at his leisure and, as long as he did not choose to walk the path of a cruel and merciless Emperor, there had never been a danger of that being a reality from the start…

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//Main Quest Chain Triggered//

[Quest: The Path of an Emperor Begins With the First Step]

Rank: Zenith

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Objective: Unify the Continent of Eden:(2/9), Conquer the Living Dungeon, Tartarus(0/1), Form a Divine Council with a God of every Major Divinity(5/30)

Optional Objectives: [Curiosity] Form a Harem with at least one member of every race:(22/59), [Inspiration] Acquire 10,000 Followers, Subordinates, or Retainers(9/10,000), [Might] Overcome the restriction of Level 10:(6/10), [Virility] Sire 100 Children(18/100)

Rewards: 10,000,000,000OP, Quest System Upgraded, 1x[Innate Awakening Pill], 1x[Page of the Akashic Tome]

Failure Conditions: Forfeiture of Main Quest Chain

Penalty: Record Backlash, Divine Law Cataclysm Initiated

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Even as the notification appeared within his mind, Vahn’s only reaction was a small smile as he began to ruminate over his decisions. He found that it was much easier to ‘act’ than it was to just wait for things to happen. With that in mind, he tilted Nanu’s head and looked into her slightly confused face as he asked, “Nanu, though I will never stop loving you, will you become my subordinate or retainer? I want to help you grow stronger and it will bring us much closer together. I swear that I will never exploit your status for my own benefit.” Though he wasn’t really surprised, Vahn’s smile widened slightly when he saw Nanu’s tail begin to wag quickly as she very earnestly said, “Yes, please! Master~!”

Following her acceptance, the notification about Nanu wanting to become his subordinate appeared within Vahn’s mind once again. This time, instead of trying to push Nanu away and have her adhere to his intentions without him taking responsibility, Vahn quickly accepted the request. He wasn’t even remotely surprised when he saw that her Loyalty towards him was already at 43,391 and continually increasing every few seconds. He then selected the [Rename] option within the interface and added the last name ‘Mason’ at the end, willing her into direct association with him and desiring that it give her greater power.

Nanu’s eyes widened suddenly and formless energy that only Vahn could see began to flow around her body, very similar to Bell’s except for the fact Vahn ‘knew’ he could influence it, instead of the other way around. Following this intuition, Vahn moved his fingers through it and could actually ‘feel’ it against his skin as Nanu’s body trembled slightly. Pushing this even further, Vahn stated very seriously, “Nanu, without pushing yourself to a breaking point, I want you to earnestly continue trying to reach the pinnacle of forging. I believe that you have the potential of even reaching the level of the gods…never doubt yourself, as you now carry the surname Mason…” As if sealing a pact, Vahn tilted Nanu’s head up and kissed her lips, feeling and guiding her reaction much like how he did when he first shared kisses with the girls.

When he pulled away, Nanu’s face was flushed and Vahn was very aware of the state of her body, smiling with a somewhat teasing expression as he said, “I have some things to take care of right now. I’ll stop by your workshop when I’m finished and take care of you properly…” While speaking, Vahn pulled Nanu towards him by lifting her butt, kissing her on the collarbone for a few seconds before lightly spanking her and saying, “Go, but make sure to rest properly and not distance yourself from the others.”

Nanu, still breathing heavily, nodded her head like a chicken pecking at feed and said, “Leave it to me, Master! I won’t let you down~!” With her tail spinning like a propeller, Nanu then ran off at her fastest speed, completely determined to break through to [Master Smith] as soon as possible. Previously, [Master Smith] had been a goal she aspired towards in order to be with her Master. Now, however, she sought something far greater and, having her Master bestow his family name upon her, Nanu felt like her heart was going to explode out of her chest. If she didn’t begin forging something soon, it would be impossible for her to hold back from ‘attacking’ her beloved Master…!

Vahn had already risen to his feet, having Fenrir hop out of his lap and stand next to him as he said, “Things are going to be changing very quickly in the near future, Fenrir. I’m tired of waiting around to see what our enemies are going to do. Though it may be stressful for you, I’ll need your help in dealing with a few problems that I can’t tend to personally…” At the same time that he was speaking, Vahn ran his fingers through Fenrir’s midnight blue hair and kept eye contact, marveling at this woman who he had a hand in creating. He never thought about it in such a direct manner before, but Vahn now realized that this adorable little Vanargandr in front of him really was the embodiment of what he considered as ‘cute’. Since that had been his intent when naming her, she had become an existence that could easily weasel her way into his heart, something Vahn found humorous in retrospect.

Similar to Nanu, Fenrir also seemed to be getting very excited, nodding her head as she said, “If it is what you want me to do, I will do it without question. Please, don’t hold back, Master…your trust is what gives my life meaning…I want to be needed by you, more than anything else…!” To this, Vahn’s smile widened greatly and he made no effort to restrain himself as he sealed her lips with his own. Though he made certain to keep his tongue on the outside of her ‘inviolable’ devouring domain, this didn’t mean Vahn couldn’t share a passionate kiss with this lovable little subordinate of his. He even took it a step further, lifting her off the ground so that her paws dangled for nearly five whole minutes before letting her go. When he was done, he heavily patted her head and said, “Come, we have much to do…”

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