Chapter 821: Introductions

Upon arriving at the Xenos’ Hidden Village, Vahn was greeted by the sight of what most would describe as a small Monster Party. There were ‘monsters’ of all shapes and sizes, including a number of variant species that stood out from the crowd. However, their impact paled in comparison to the numerous individuals that were attired in the equipment of Adventurers, some even wearing full armor while carrying swords, spears, and axes. Among this group, there were several that had humanoid traits and Vahn couldn’t help but marvel at the uniqueness of their entire species. The fact they could all come together in support of each other made a warm feeling spread through his heart, even though the tiny ‘pincers’ at the ends of Naho’s legs were digging into his back a little.

From amongst the group, there was one particular Xenos that readily drew the eye, though it could have been a result of the fact he had another one of her species clinging to him. She was an Arachne-Xenos garbed in the attire of a female Adventurer, but it didn’t do much to hide her mature and shapely figure. The armor consisted of a few plates that had been sewn together by what Vahn assumed to be her own silk and she had a visored helmed on her face with two glowing red eyes staring back at him. There was white hair sticking out from her helmet, causing Vahn to wonder if it was a trait of all Arachne-Xenos since her ‘spider-bits’ were significantly different than Naho’s. If Naho was like a cute little jumping spider that was covered in white fur, this unknown Arachne-Xenos had black chitin that was glossy, even in subtle green light from the bioluminescent moss. There was also a startlingly red hour-glass like marking on her abdominal segment while the two ‘mandible’ protrusions at the front of her body looked significantly more fierce than the petite Naho’s…

The moment her eyes locked on him, Vahn felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as she scuttled towards him very quickly, shouting, “Let Naho go right now you-!” Before she was able to complete her journey, Fenrir had stepped out to block her path, eyes glowing with a fierce light as she said, “Do not insult my Master…he hasn’t done anything wrong…look closely…” Though it looked like she had considered attacking Fenrir for a brief moment, the unknown Arachne-Xenos turned statuesque around the same time that Fenrir let her bloodthirst leak out. Since Xenos had very strong instincts, she was able to discern rather quickly that only death awaited her if she took another step forward.

Following Fenrir’s prompt, the Arachne-Xenos trained her eyes on Vahn and also saw that Naho was wearing high-quality clothing while also clinging to the human boy on her own. She had initially thought that Naho had been captured but, remembering the words of Terror, she remembered the supposed identity of the ‘docile’ looking boy. Realizing she had lashed out on an assumption, the Arachne-Xenos felt her body heating up slightly as she curled into herself and snorted before saying, “Naho, come to your Big Sis. You shouldn’t be overly familiar with humans…they will-” This time, instead of Fenrir speaking out, the little Naho turned her head a little ‘too’ far and exclaimed, “Bigger Sis, don’t be mean to Big Brother!”

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This caused the Arachne-Xenos to flinch as she released an ‘Eh…?’ from behind her visor, pointing to Vahn with her pale white finger and asking, “This is your Big Brother…?” Naho immediately nodded her head and tightly ‘hugged’ Vahn’s body with six of her legs and both of her arms, happily giggling as she said, “Big Brother is great~!” To this, Vahn lightly pat her back and, keeping eye contact with the yet unnamed Arachne-Xenos, said, “It looks like we became something like extended family now. My name is Vahn Mason, Sage Aldrnari, and Captain of the Hestia Familia. May I inquire as to your name, Miss…?”

The Arachne-Xenos shrunk away slightly and Vahn could see her trembling, not as a result of fear, but likely her own embarrassment. Fortunately, Naho was more than willing to sell out her ‘Bigger Sis’ as she giggled and said, “Bigger Sis is named Rayne. She is an Arachne-Xenos, just like me~!” Vahn smiled, nodding his head in response to Naho as he mused, “Yes, I can see that quite clearly, Naho…well, it’s nice to meet you, Rayne. I understand you have been wronged by other surface dwellers so I will not force you to open up to me. My only expectation is that, unless I give you a reason to distrust me, please don’t make assumptions that could cause problems for everyone…I am not the enemy of the Xenos…”

Though she seemed ‘very’ unwilling, Vahn pulled Naho away from his body and set her down on the ground before kneeling down and whispering, “Go to your Bigger Sis so she can stop worrying…ah, and if she asks about your clothes, tell her that I can make her some as well. That way, you can look even more like family…okay~?” Naho perked up very quickly when she heard these words and, after a few more head pats from Vahn, ran over to Rayne and ‘crawled’ on her body in much the same way as she had Vahn, hugging the now relieved looking Arachne-Xenos from behind. The two then wandered away from the group, climbing up the side wall as if it were flat ground and retreating into a canopy house near the ceiling…

Vahn watched this occurring with eyes of intrigue before turning to the larger group of Xenos, smiling as he said, “That was an interesting way to start introductions…well, as I said previously, my name is Vahn Mason. How you address me is up to you though, as long as it isn’t anything blatantly offensive…” Since he already allowed Naho to call him ‘Big Bro’, Vahn figured there would likely be some of the younger members of this ‘tribe’ that would want to call him similarly. He noticed there were also several Xenos that had furry and fluffy bodies and, even if he tried to fool himself, Vahn knew his [Grooming] would see some heavy use while he stayed within the village.

From amongst the more than one-hundred variable Xenos, three figures walked forward and Vahn could tell they were all much stronger than the others. The largest among them was a stout Gargoyle-Xenos with a rigid and stern appearance, though it could have been an illusion since he was seemingly made of stone. His skin was grey and there were strange runes covering his body, including the large bat-like wings behind his back. Even his eyes seemed to be made from stone and, if not for the fact he was wearing armor and moving around, it would have been very difficult to discern him from a statue.

Leading the group, though he was decidedly less human in appearance than some of the other Xenos present, was what appeared to be a variant Lizardman Chieftan. His body was covered in red scales, except for his front and ‘underbelly’, and his orange eyes blazed like a Dragon’s. As if he wasn’t content with simply having his scales be red, this Lizardman-Xeno was also wearing red plated armor that was similar in design to the ‘Samurai’ armor worn in the Far East. Instead of a katana, however, this Xeno had a massive scimitar that was nearly 160cm long and, though there were several nicks and other signs of use, it was highly polished and well cared for. Though he slouched forward as a result of his two-jointed legs, his balance was impeccable with the spined tail that trailed behind him…

The last of their group, even though he had noticed her first, was a strikingly beautiful woman that was similar to Terror. She appeared to be a Variant-Harpy with fair skin, features that appeared to be sculpted by the gods, and beautiful golden feathers that were tinged a subtle blue on the ends. Her eyes were a scarlet red that could almost compete with Fenrir’s, if not for the fact her pupils were much bigger than normal, giving her a very fierce gaze. She was wearing highly revealing clothes that looked like they had been ‘borrowed’ from an Amazoness, her figure stood out even more. Vahn could even see small downy feathers poking out from the front of her panty-like bottoms and he wondered if he should give her something that can help properly conceal the tiny blue feathers…

Even as he was evaluating their physical features, Vahn’s expression remained placid and casual while keeping eye contact with the Lizardman-Xenos at the front. He could tell all three of them had already formed an opinion of him and they were likely the leaders of this particular village. The Lizardman-Xenos seemed pretty amicable and, if not for the fact he had a reptilian face, Vahn could have sworn he was smiling. As for the Harpy-Xenos to his right, she had a surprisingly gentle look on her face and, other than her somewhat fierce looking eyes, Vahn felt her impression of him was rather high. This left the only exception amongst the three as the Gargoyle-Xenos on the left, who had furrowed brows and a stern expression…though it was hard to know if he could even form other expressions from first appearances…

The Lizardman-Xenos raised his hand in greeting, even before they had fully closed the distance, a lively and excitedly voice sounding from his carnivorous maw as he said, “Yo!” His eyes squinted as if he was very happy and Vahn’s impression of the ‘man’ immediately went up a few points as he also raised his hand and said, “Yo.” This caused the Lizardman-Xenos to laugh hard enough that he had to hug his stomach before he wiped a non-existent tear from his eye and said, “The names Lyd, a Lizardman-Xenos. I’m one of the three leaders for this here village. Nice to meet ya, Vahn!” By now, they were right in front of each other so Vahn accepted the offered handshake from Lyd and didn’t mind it much when the rambunctious Xenos heavily pat his shoulder.

Following Lyd, the female Xenos stepped up and offered her humanoid hand, significantly different than the ‘talon’ he had seen on Terror’s. She seemed to be much further along in whatever process the Xenos used to become humanoid and, other than the extra joint located near her wrist that extended to form the fold of her wings, she had normal and delicate looking fingers. Vahn accepted her handshake as she smiled radiantly and said, “My name is Ray, a Siren-Xenos. I have looked forward to meeting you for a very long time, Vahn Mason. Welcome to the Xenos Hidden Village…”

Vahn was a little surprised that Ray introduced herself as a Siren-Xenos, as they were a relatively rare creature that could use sound-based attacks that were very difficult to deal with. However, it was the fact that her Affection was already at 95(Exalted) that truly caught him off guard, so much so that he couldn’t prevent his brows from raising slightly. Though he wasn’t sure how she had interpreted this, Ray giggled pleasantly and squinted her glimmering red eyes as she moved off to the side to allow their final member to introduce himself. Unlike Lyd and Ray, however, this massive Gargoyle-Xenos stood at a distance as a deep voice emerged from his throat, saying, “So, you are the supposed ‘Savior’ of the Xenos…I don’t buy it…you are just another person that wants to take advantage of our people, aren’t you…?”

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As the ‘man’ spoke, a somewhat oppressive aura radiated from his body and Vahn had to send a mental command to Fenrir and Fafnir so they didn’t outright kill the untrusting Xenos. After making sure the two were under control, Vahn took a step forward through the pressure with a completely calm expression on his face. He looked up into the nearly 3m tall Xenos’ eyes and said plainly, “The reason the Xenos are feared and hunted is because of misunderstandings and prejudice from ignorant people. If you cannot see how your actions are the very same as those you hate, you don’t deserve to be a leader among your people. Stubbornness, especially towards your own allies, will only cause greater misfortunes…what are you willing to sacrifice in order to keep your own people from seeking out the happiness available to them…?”

To this, the Gargoyle-Xenos just remained stone-faced without any change in expression as he responded, “Surface Dwellers cannot be trusted…your kind only see the Xenos as an exotic commodity that can be exploited for labor, entertainment, and utterly disgusting acts. I will not stand by and watch as you mislead our people and turn them into your slaves and playthings, all for a dream that can never be…!” As he spoke, the Gargoyle-Xenos raised himself even higher until he was standing completely upright, now nearly 4m in height. Vahn, however, kept standing with an unperturbed expression on his face, even though there was a thoughtful look in his eyes…

After a few tense seconds, Vahn turned his eyes towards Ray, seeing her smiling back at him with a slightly concerned expression. He also raised his head towards the canopy house above, seeing the face of a pale woman duck back into a hole when they made eye contact. This caused the smile on Vahn’s face to soften slightly as he said, “I won’t deny, not even for a moment, that I am very interested in the general physiology and appearance of the Xenos. There are even those among you that I find very attractive…” Since there was already a massive stone fist heading toward his face, Vahn brought his Xuanwu transformed hand up and completely negated the attack with incredible ease.

Seeing how easily his attack was stopped, the Gargoyle-Xenos jumped back and flapped his wings, sending a powerful gust of wind as he stabilized himself in the air and exclaimed, “I knew it. You are just another despicable surface dweller that wishes to use the Xenos to sate his own perversions! I will not let you-” This time, without any effort on Vahn’s part, the Gargoyle-Xenos was sent flying when Lyd jumped up and smacked him across the head with his scaly red fist. There was an angry look in his eyes as he shouted, “Stop causing trouble without thinking, you stone-brained idiot! Are you really trying to start a fight with the person that just saved a group of our kin and defeated the Hunters that have made our lives miserable!?”

The Gargoyle-Xenos had been sent smashing into one of the residences that had been constructed but emerged unscathed a few moments later, the same stone-faced expression on his face. Vahn was slightly surprised that he didn’t immediately begin lashing out and trying to attack again. Instead, he seemed to be considering things before releasing a throaty grunt and flying towards a residence at the back of the village. Upon seeing this, Lyd released a sigh of relief as he rubbed the back of his head and said, “Sorry about that, Vahn. Gros really isn’t a bad guy…he has just been living this lifestyle a lot longer than most of us. The number of Xenos that he has seen come and go number in the hundreds…”

Vahn nodded his head in understanding and knew that Gros didn’t actually think too badly of him since his Affection was currently at 63(Trust). He likely had his own reasons for acting out and, after having his errors pointed out, Gros had backed away without stirring up further conflict. Just the fact he had the (Trust) bracket parameter fixed any negative impression Vahn had of the over-protective and stubborn individual. Since it was his intention to ‘show’ the Xenos he could be trusted, Vahn didn’t mind if there were a few that showed greater caution towards him. If all the Xenos openly accepted his presence within their home, even after what could have been hundreds of years of mistreatment, Vahn would have been far more surprised…

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