Chapter 902: Overwork : Understanding

Back in Orario, Vahn had been busy with a veritable mountain of paperwork, even though the largest portion was being handled by Fortuna, Loki, and Eirene. The latter’s Familia was processing all of the new residents that would be entering into the City while Fortuna was allocating the necessary funds to get everyone situated. If not for all the temporary housing that had been constructed during the ongoing reformations of Orario, it would have been extremely difficult to place the large influx of refugees. Currently, the Alliance was assigning refugees that had close relationships with each other to the same abode, at least until they were able to find work and move into one of the proper housing districts.

As there was a chance some of the slaves would want to stay inside of the temporary housing indefinitely, Vahn had to make the ‘hard’ decision to put a two-year limit where they would have ample opportunity to find work. Fortunately, most of the former slaves were extremely motivated and wanted to get a jump start on their new lives, many immediately becoming laborers and joining construction crews. They had the necessary skills after living for decades within the Iron Hills and, with the availability of food, ample break time, and decent pay, many refugees considered Orario as ‘paradise’. This was especially the case for the Pallum, making up nearly half of the entire refugee population, who moved into the large community that had been established for Pallum previously.

Because Vahn had always anticipated that a very large number of Pallum would migrate into Orario after his policy changes were introduced, the Alliance had placed a lot of its efforts into expanding that particular district, even when the population wasn’t that great. Previously, there had been around 70,000 permanant residents in the district while the available housing could accommodate nearly 500,000. They weren’t the most lavish of residences but the architecture was suitable for ease of living for Pallum, with most of the shelves, tables, and countertops made much lower than normal. As a result, Orario referred to this section of the City as ‘Little Orario’, even though the Pallum residing in it had literally named it Pallum’s Paradise…

Currently, Vahn was pouring over a list of applicants who wanted to join the Haven Defense Force, which, once again, constituted a large number of Pallum and various Beast Humans. The Elves he had liberated were either returned to the Elven Forest or given residency within the budding Elven Community District. Many of them hadn’t been slaves for very long, so their mentality had suffered a heavy trauma as a result of the very different lifestyles. As for the Half-Elves that had been forced to become slaves, they were currently unable to rationalize that the very nation that had sold them into slavery was now undergoing reforms. Many of them were seeking to become servants and shop assistants, essentially taking up the role they had back in the Iron Hills. As a result, Mama Mia ended up taking in several hundred Half-Elf refugees to serve within her various Hostess of Fertility, which now had a total of twenty-nine branches in operation.

Overall, things were transitioning slowly but surely in a positive direction, at least until Vahn saw what was happening back in the Iron Hills. His hands had come to a stop mid-stroke, causing Fortuna and Loki to give him a curious look as the latter asked, “Did something happen, Vahn?” She had been helping sort out the more ‘troublesome’ slaves, as not every slave that had been liberated from the Iron Hills could be treated with impunity. Some had fallen into slavery as a result of crimes, many relating to theft, fraud, and embezzlement. Currently, so long as they cooperated with the investigations, these individuals would be given a clean slate of sorts, assuming their crimes were not of the heinous variety.

Vahn shook his head lightly, explaining, “I’ll have to take a break to meet with Tsubaki…there are a few things I need to inform her about. Why don’t the two of you take a tea break to clear out the cobwebs? You’ve both been working hard…” Instead of Loki, Fortuna was the one to answer Vahn’s question, laughing in an amused tone as she twirled her pen and said, “Though I’m sure we can both appreciate your concerns, aren’t you working harder than everyone right now, Vahn? I’ll take a break when you take a ‘real’ break…”

Fortuna was a principle Goddess of Fortune with lesser divinities related to Wealth, Trade, and Luck. Vahn had been introduced to her through Minerva a long time ago and she had served as his intermediary when dealing with the markets of Orario. She was a beautiful goddess with a sharp and intelligent appearance, possessing pale green eyes and platinum blonde hair. As if trying to accent her intelligent look, Fortuna almost always wore a pair of designer bifocals while her hair was done up in a neat ponytail with her bangs done up near her temples with two golden pins. This caused the fringe hairs on the side of her face to frame her intelligent visage in an extremely neat fashion, completely her intelligent look, even though there was always a ‘teasing’ glint in her eyes that seemed capable of discerning the true value of everything…

The one thing that Fortuna herself complained about was, much like Loki, she hadn’t been blessed in the breast category at all. She was also rather petite, standing only 162cm tall, though her heels brought her up to a fair 170cm. Vahn had given her a massage in the past, discovering that Fortuna wore a padded bra that bolstered her bust size quite a bit. Though she wasn’t truly flat, having similarly sized breasts to Emiru and Maemi, Fortuna had remarked, “Having a large bust is an asset when conducting business.” Since she usually wore very stylish clothing that accented her appearance even further, giving her a ‘professional’ feel that could put most of the Guild receptionists to shame, it was obvious that Fortuna was very calculating in how she presented herself to others…

Vahn knew that Fortuna was more than a little fond of him and, if circumstances were slightly different, they may have already entered into a more permanant relationship. Now that she was showing her concern for him, in her own way, Vahn’s expression softened a little as he said, “I’m not sure how long I’ll be, but I wouldn’t mind joining the two of you for a long break when I return. Though there is still a lot of work to complete, I can finish most of the paperwork in the Sub-Space Orb or create an updated memory fragment that can go through the paperwork on my behalf…” In general, if not for the two orbs, Vahn wouldn’t be able to manage all of the documents that required his attention, especially during chaotic times like this.

Fortuna and Loki both frowned when they heard Vahn’s words, knowing that he was going to use the ‘break’ as an excuse to later work himself even harder. They knew he was trying to build a foundation to become an Emperor, something they both supported, but he was trying too hard to make things run ‘perfectly’ from the very beginning. There were so many ongoing projects right now and, at the heart of everything, there were both of Vahn’s bodies working tirelessly to make sure things were running smoothly. Though he did take breaks, usually when they forced him to spend the night with the children, Vahn was spending upwards of six full days without sleeping even a wink. During the ‘Fifteen Day War’ between Orario and the Iron Hills, Vahn had spent more than two months of time without resting at all…

Knowing that Vahn ‘had’ to have a limit, and fearing they would learn the hard way what happens once he reached it, Loki rose to her feet before walking over and placing her hand on Vahn’s shoulder, sternly saying, “You can take the documents and let your memory fragment deal with them. That isn’t an opportunity to just do more work, though, so you’ll have to take a few days off to actually relax, okay? This thing with Tsubaki, it seems like a pretty big deal…you should spend some time with her and Sakuya. Though everyone in the Manor will help her out, you’re her lover and the father of her child…there are some things only you can do for her. Relax, show her you are there for her through your actions, not just your words…”

Without waiting for Vahn’s response, Loki turned to Fortuna and said, “Come on, Fortuna, we could use a break of our own. This idiot will probably be busy for a while and we might starve to death if we wait around for him~.” Though Vahn had become very ‘reliable’ over the last few years, Loki knew it wasn’t that difficult to influence his decisions. She was confident that her words would be enough to get him to at least rest for three days, even if it was only with one of his bodies. The other would undoubtedly be off taking care of other important matters, something she understood was outside of her control to truly regulate. It would take the combined efforts of the girls in the Manor to get him to truly relax which, at the present, wasn’t necessarily a good thing with how much was going on…

True to Loki’s expectations, Vahn sought out Tsubaki with the intention of staying at her side for as long as she needed him there. In truth, he also wanted to spend time with her and Sakuya, just as he wanted to spend time with all of his lovers and children. Though he had a decent lull in his schedule after sealing Enyo, it never felt like he had enough time to actually spend with all of the people important to him. He had to split time between spending time with his lovers, playing with his children, training, forging, assisting Asfi, Naaza, and Nanu with their research, making sure things were running smoothly at Spero, watching over the development of Haven, and ensuring that Enyo’s seal wasn’t compromised somehow. Without the Sub-Space and Space-Time orbs, it would be impossible for him to manage everything, even when he was in a period where he was supposed to be ‘relaxing’…

While thinking it would be best to actually relax for once, even while preparing to head back to the 60th Floor to monitor things with his avatar, Vahn made his way to Tsubaki’s workshop. She didn’t spend much time in the Sub-Space orb as, even though he could prevent her from aging noticeably, Tsubaki had never truly gotten over how old she was. Presently, her ‘age’ was around thirty-nine years old while, chronologically, she was forty-three. Her appearance, however, would cause most people to assume she was in her mid-twenties, as her healthy brown skin glowed with a youthful vitality while her sensual curves would make most men short of breath, assuming they had the opportunity to gawk without getting their face smashed in by her fists…

It was currently Sunday, meaning Tsubaki wasn’t at the School, so Vahn was easily able to track her down without even having to look. He could have sent her a telepathic message to meet up with him but, considering the circumstances, Vahn wanted to go to her side instead. She was in the middle of making a pair of black bracers that would easily fit a child, leading Vahn to believe she was making them for either Sakuya, Aisha, or Meinya. The latter had started to train hard after Arnya became busy training members of the Haven Defense Force. Though she still liked to play around, Meinya obviously wanted attention so Arnya had been guiding her more actively after noticing the change.

Tsubaki was at the stage where she was adding embellishments to the material, giving it a unique appearance that would match its user. As a result, she finished up rather quickly before setting the bracers to the side, a loving smile on her face as she asked, “Vahn, is there something I can do for you…?” Even before she had finished asking her question, Tsubaki realized something was ‘off’ so she had started to make her way over, allowing Vahn to naturally embrace her. He wasn’t the type to complain about a bit of sweat and, in circumstances like this, it was important if they were closer together for mutual comfort…

Vahn held Tsubaki for nearly a full minute, sending threads of calming energy into her body, before explaining, “I know you told me not to worry about it, but I couldn’t help trying to find out what had happened to your father…” Tsubaki’s response to this was to just hang her head slightly, breathing in a little deeper to remain calm before uttering an ‘Nn’ to encourage Vahn to continue. He went on to explain the truth, including her father’s past, how he had come to meet Sakuya, and ‘why’ he had put his life on the line. In the end, Vahn gave her the [Sakuya-no-Tsubaki], explaining its name and origin, causing the silent Tsubaki to tremble with the blade in her grasp.

For the better part of an hour, Vahn just held Tsubaki in his arms as she curled up in his embrace, neither crying nor speaking a word. She just held the [Sakuya-no-Tsubaki] as if it were a precious treasure, staring into the pristine white blade that even her current skill may not be able to replicate. Though it lacked magic, the make of the blade and its unique abilities were something that only a god would be able to replicate, making it a true miracle amongst [Master Smith]s. The fact that Jorfaic had produced such a masterpiece, all because of the passion and love he had for Sakuya and her unborn child, showed the man’s absolute dedication to both. Tsubaki, however, simply couldn’t shed tears for the man as it conflicted with her own image to greatly…it would take time for her to truly accept these revelations…

After calming down, Tsubaki still remained silent for a few minutes before asking, “Are you still back in the Iron Hills…?” Though he had already started making his way back with Fafnir, Vahn nodded his head in affirmation, causing Tsubaki to say, “I know you have the power…please, bring my father back…I want him to be buried at my Mother’s Manor. In the future, when we go to pay respects…I…” Tsubaki knew that Jorfaic, her Father, had been yet another victim of circumstance and that all of her resentment towards him had been created based on a misunderstanding. Part of her even wondered if her mother had known about his death, giving her his surname and helping her to grow stronger as both a warrior and a blacksmith before telling her the truth. In the end, however, her Mother had remained silent on the issue, for reasons that had died with her…

Tsubaki wondered if it was because of her single-minded hatred of her Father that her Mother had been unable to speak the truth. People could be foolish at times, especially when it came to keeping the truth from their loved ones, all in the name of ‘protecting’ them. Understanding this was likely just another misunderstanding, Tsubaki didn’t know quite how she should feel about the situation. The one thing she now understood was that both of her parents loved her dearly and, even though she had gotten her Father’s gift late, she had already found the happiness her parents had wanted for her…

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(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Welfare and Charity can also cause problems’,’Vahn is still broken, just in a different way…’,’There is no truer love than that of a parent towards their children’)

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