Chapter 842: Caretaker

A few minutes after their first meeting, Vahn ended up having Diana sitting on his lap with a contented expression, enjoying some quality head-pats, as he discussed exactly what Freya wanted him to do. She explained that, in almost all other circumstances, a Xana like Diana would pose a legitimate threat to most people, making her existence rather tragic. Since her voice could be fatal to those with dark hearts, even a place like the Freya Familia wasn’t exactly safe for her. Diana could only interact with a few people and could almost never live a free and happy life, at least under normal circumstances.

Freya wanted Diana to be able to live within the Hearth Manor, where her abilities would essentially have no effect, while Vahn helped find a means to let her control her abilities. Since she also knew about his ability to ‘modify’ those that were his subordinates and retainers, information that had been spread through all the central figures in the Alliance, it was even possible for Vahn to eventually turn Diana into something other than a Xana. However, she also directly opposed this idea, stating that Diana could essentially be a ‘failsafe’ within the Manor that would also be a very potent asset during any negotiations.

If Diana’s existence was made public, it would undoubtedly strike fear into the hearts of any individuals who lived at the expense of others. Most people would outright avoid getting anywhere near the Manor, making things like burglaries, kidnapping, or any other form of subterfuge exceedingly more difficult. Of course, after the next few days, Vahn knew this wouldn’t really be necessary since he was still planning on having a reckoning with the Nobles. However, he understood Freya’s reasoning and, considering Diana was actually 3,409 years old, it wouldn’t necessarily be ‘fair’ to change her into an existence she was unfamiliar with…

Like gods, High Spirits also had very different thought processes than normal entities within the record of Danmachi, even if they didn’t exactly possess Divinity. This was because Spirits were created with a ‘purpose’ and, as they had biological immortality, their brains weren’t really wired in the same way as other creatures. If a normal person had lived for more than 3,000 years in such circumstances, they would have long gone crazy, potentially even killing themselves out of loneliness and depression. Diana, however, didn’t seem to take any of this to heart at all and, instead, was more concerned about ‘accidentally’ hurting other people than the fact she had been locked away for 60 years without any contact with others…Vahn was a little worried that, if he changed her race into something that could ‘rationalize’ negative emotions better, Diana might suffer a severe trauma and undergo a formative change in personality…

Right now, Diana seemed to have a relatively carefree and innocent nature, especially as she happily hummed away in his lap, kicking her legs out playfully. His [Grooming] had caused her to warm up to him very quickly and, after just a minute or so of discussion, Diana ended up shifting from Freya’s arms into his. After that, they sat down to properly discuss the seemingly young Xana’s fate and Diana had decided to sit in his lap instead of the chair offered to her. As this was something Vahn was very accustomed to, he didn’t think anything of the situation at all, even as Diana’s Affection breached 80(Trust) over a few short minutes.

Eventually, the four Maids, consisting of Momo, Sakuya, Elizabelle, and Merribelle, came out from the side room with mild blushes on their faces. Vahn made sure to act ‘oblivious’ to what had happened to them earlier, so as to make things slightly easier on them, before deciding to wrap up the conversation by saying, “Well, if Diana wants to stay at the Hearth Manor, I don’t think there will be any problems. Her ability shouldn’t have any effect on children and I don’t think any of my sons would be endangered by her ‘song’ before I find a solution to help her control it.” Since he already had a few ideas in mind, Vahn knew it wouldn’t be difficult to create a pendant or choker that allowed Diana to regulate her ability. He had more than thirteen years to come up with a solution and that was way more time than he would need to solve such a ‘simple’ problem…

Freya’s smile softened a little, even though she knew Vahn couldn’t exactly overlook an adorable girl like Diana, especially considering her ‘tragic’ past. It was a very well-known fact that Vahn was something of a bleeding heart that was very susceptible to girls with past troubles. Ever since he had done recruiting for the School, this became public knowledge and it was often a means by which some women would try to get close to him. Of course, having such thoughts generally made it impossible for them to genuinely make an impression. Though he was drawn to girls with a tragic past, Vahn’s ‘appreciation’ was generally directed towards those that had stronger personalities that were already trying to change their lives for the better…

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Diana, already being told that she would end up staying at the Manor for over half a year, wasn’t surprised by Vahn’s words at all. She just tilted her head up, looking into his face as she said, “I may be small, but I promise to be a good Maid~.” Vahn blinked, somewhat surprised by Diana’s words until Freya explained, “Since she saw the other girls working hard to become Maids, Diana also wanted to become a Maid…she worked very hard, ufufufu~.” Freya reached out her hand, patting Diana’s head and causing the small Spirit to giggle happily. Vahn drew the assumption that Diana probably didn’t want to be a ‘freeloader’ or, given how she had behaved so far, it was very likely she simply treated being a Maid as a ‘game’ of sorts…

Since he wanted Diana to live with relative freedom, Vahn didn’t mind letting her ‘play’ as a Maid for a bit, confident that his children would be able to influence her positively after a while. Given her innocent and caring personality, Diana would get along with the majority of children and Vahn believed she could become good friends with his daughter’s, the Vanir. At the very least, he could guarantee her a decade or so of companionship with other ‘children’ and give her a chance to acclimate to socializing with people as he worked on an accessory to restrict her voice.

With his mind made up, Vahn nodded his head slightly before saying, “We will need to discuss the changes in your body with the others soon, if not today. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I know it is something very…significant…for now, I’ll take everyone back to the Manor and introduce them to Syr and Lunoire. Also, though I’ll probably need to send Fafnir to watch over her, I’ll try and arrange it so that Lenneth can visit you at the Southern Manor…” Vahn knew it would be very difficult to give Freya access to the Manor, as her presence would cause problems even without her directly intending to. However, so long as precautions were made, it shouldn’t be that difficult to at least arrange things so that Lenneth could spend more time with her mother.

Freya’s aura flared up and a very beautiful smile spread across her face as she quietly uttered, “Thank you…Vahn…” She had never complained about it, but Freya actually felt a little saddened every time she saw Lenneth, especially seeing how quickly the latter was growing. When actually spent a fair amount of time just absentmindedly looking towards the direction of the Hearth Manor, wondering what her daughter was doing…it was a very strange feeling that she couldn’t quite explain. If not for Ottar and Diana, Freya wasn’t sure she could cope with only seeing her daughter once or twice a week for much longer…

After a few more minutes of discussion, during which Freya sent a few messages through the Network to explain things, Vahn decided to head back to the Manor. It was starting to get late in the day and he still needed to plan out how he wanted to deal with the Nobles while also checking to make sure things were going smoothly at Spero Village. Tonight would be the first night the Xenos spent on the surface and he wanted to make sure they were comfortable and had plenty of mana-rich food to keep their bodies stable. Until their ‘village’ was connected with the Dungeon, they needed to supplement their energy requirements with things like magic cores and other items that could supply them with the mana needed to sustain themselves.

Vahn gave Freya one last kiss, promising to come and pick her up in the morning since that is when they would be discussing exactly what happened to her body. It was very obvious that some of the restrictions placed on her Avatar had been loosened at this point and, depending on their future findings, it may even be possible to fully manifest their entire Arcanum in the world one day. Though it would likely require years of research, a great deal of support from the godly community, and the implementation of several precautionary measures, the chance that the gods could use their power in a more meaningful way were actually very high…

Though they panicked a little when he first lifted them into the sky, the girls calmed down after a short while and were more focused on holding their skirts than moving through the air at a relatively high speed. The only clothing they had were several sets of Maid clothing, undergarments included, all safely stowed away within his Inventory. This would have bothered him a little in the past but, after seeing how dedicated Maemi and Emiru were, Vahn’s perception of Maids had changed quite a bit. Since the five were willingly becoming Maids, he intended to treat them as such, at least until they themselves decided to try and change their fates.

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The Manor actually needed a rather large staff to take care of the cleaning, laundry, and cooking. Thus far, things had only worked out because everyone helped each other out, usually with the girls originating from the Hostess of Fertility assisting Maemi, Emiru, Milan, and, after her retirement, Aki. It would make things much easier on the girls if there were full-time Maids working in the Manor, especially since they had the proper training to provide adequate service. Though it was only a matter of time before the five were ‘integrated’ into the Manor completely, Vahn believed they would continue to perform their duties diligently without trying to take advantage of the situation…

After a relatively short flight, Vahn integrated the girls’ mana signature into the surrounding barriers before touching down within the inner courtyard. He was carrying Diana in his arms and, after setting her on the ground, turned to the girls and explained, “Most of the finer details with be explained by Syr after I introduce you to her. She is essentially the Administrator of the Hearth Manor and also acts as something akin to the ‘Head Maid’. As long as she doesn’t order you to do anything compromising or dangerous, please listen to what she has to say…other than that, you should try to avoid wandering into the forest until you are properly introduced to Terra. She can be territorial at times…”

Terra was a very well-known entity within the City now as her ‘aura’ was something that most gods could sense even from several hundred kilometers away. It had caused a bit of a fiasco when people realized she was ‘taking over’ an area of the City but, after clarifying that she was only influencing the territory of the Alliance, there wasn’t much anyone could say. After all, there wasn’t anything wrong with ensuring their territory was well protected, especially after pointing out the incident where several streets had collapsed in the past. There weren’t any legitimate arguments to make against her efforts to prevent people from illegally tunneling so, with the Alliance taking a hard stance on the issue, Terra was now ‘allowed’ to take over any land within the Alliance’s territories.

Not wanting to make an enemy out of a True Dragon, the four girls nodded while Diana seemed blissfully unaware of the dangers involved. To her, this place was the home where Freya promised she would be protected while finally being able to live a happy life. She just continued to hold Vahn’s hand with a smile, looking around at the rather beautiful scenery with a very curious expression on her face. As Vahn’s words weren’t exactly directed toward her, he didn’t bother repeating them since Terra would likely be very fond of Diana even without his interference. Since Xana were High Spirits that resided in heavily forested areas and near rivers, their energy was very pure and he wouldn’t be surprised if Terra ended up taking an interest in Diana, assuming she hadn’t already…

Other than Anubis, all of the other goddesses were away and Vahn actually felt a little strange that Hestia hadn’t been there to greet his return. He hadn’t thought about it before, but she had always been here previously and it was only now that he noticed that it didn’t quite feel like he had returned without hearing those words. Fortunately, Syr had shown up as they were heading over to the dining room, a welcoming smile on her face as she said, “Welcome home, Vahn…” Though it wasn’t quite as impactful as when Hestia said it, potentially because of her Divinity, Vahn’s heart felt unburdened by Syr’s words, a natural smile spreading across his lips as he embraced Syr and said, “I’m home…”

Since she had already been aware of Momo, Katsuya, Elizabelle, and Merribelle, Syr wasn’t that surprised when introductions were made. She quickly began assigning each of them duties and dragged them off for a tour around the Manor, leaving behind Diana until the latter followed on her own initiative. Though she wanted to stay with Vahn, Diana also wanted to treat her Maidly duties very seriously, surprising Syr a bit until Vahn clarified exactly who and what Diana was. Before his explanation, Syr just thought she was a random child that Vahn picked up off the street or saved from some vile scum.

Freya had kept Diana’s existence a secret from almost everything so Vahn had to explain the reality of the situation before entrusting the 115cm tall ‘Maid’ to Syr. When she understood the situation, Syr’s expression had softened and she led Diana by hand through the Manor while the other four girls followed behind. She was able to understand Vahn’s intentions, even without him stating them openly, and knew Diana was a ‘special’ existence within the Manor. For the time being, Syr decided to look after the girl to get a better understanding of her character and, though she didn’t openly state it, make sure the youthful-looking High Spirit wasn’t a danger planted by Freya…

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