Chapter 931: Melen

As Melen was only located a little more than three kilometers away from Orario, it was a very short journey with Vahn, Tiona, and Tione all being capable of using [Shundo]. However, as it had been a long time since Vahn actually ‘walked’ anywhere, with flying being his primary means of transport, it was somewhat refreshing to be able to join the scenery they passed along the way. The area surrounding Orario was very scenic while the record of Danmachi itself was full of beautiful and breathtaking landscapes. Vahn was able to enjoy several sights that most people could only dream of but, on occasion, it was nice to just travel leisurely alongside some of the people he cared about.

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To make things more interesting, Tiona had started a game of [Shundo] tag, that had the three of them darting around along the landscape, trying to evade each other using the surrounding terrain as cover. Vahn enjoyed a big advantage, being able to detect the girls within his domain and use [Shundo] to a much higher proficiency, but it was still very fun. Seeing Tiona and Tione acrobatically navigate the terrain and try to pull feints against him, only to end up falling into his arms regardless, brought a smile to Vahn’s face each time. It also made the trip to Melen seem much shorter, as time spent playing always seemed to pass much faster than normal…

As such, Vahn and his two Amazoness companions arrived at the port town of Melen, located on the shores of Lolog lake and having a small population of only 40,000 permanent residents. This homely place was affectionately referred to as Orario’s access to the sea, providing fresh fish to the City while serving as the primary hub for merchant vessels trying to conduct trade inland. The architecture primarily used wood for the foundation while the overall structure used the wattle and daub method, interweaving stray and hay before compacting it with processed mud, lime, and other building materials. Most of the buildings had slate-tile roofs and Vahn could smell the nearby sea, carried on the rather strong wind flowing in from coast. It was already much colder here than it was in Orario yet, everywhere he looked, Vahn could see people with smiles on their faces as they happily worked alongside each other to unload the early morning catch…

Tiona, who had been standing close at Vahn’s side, had her arms leisurely placed behind her head as she mused, “It’s been a long time since I’ve visited Melen. I’m looking forward to being able to travel by sea once again~.” Though they had used the land route when their journey began, Tiona and Tione had both served and Kali’s personal vessel to train out at sea a few times. They both had experience fighting underwater and had a very high tolerance to both pressure and cold, much like most of the Amazonesses who served on such vessels. As for Tione’s take on things, she had a stern expression as she muttered, “We’re not here to play around, Tiona. Don’t forget our purpose on this journey…!”

Tione could already feel her blood boiling, completely invalidating the cool sea breeze as she looked forward to stomping the woman who had made her life a living hell. In the past, whenever she would make her ‘Master’ upset, it wasn’t uncommon for the latter to beat her until Tione had been left bedridden for weeks. Once, Argana had even broken both of her arms and fractured several of Tione’s ribs, all while insulting her as being ‘weaker’ than Tiona. Now, Tione knew she would be able to defeat the cruel and vicious woman who played at being her Master. She had even been tasked by Loki to personally deal with Argana as, no matter how things developed moving forward, there was no way such a woman could ever be a suitable mother. After all, back within Telskyura, Argana had the nickname ‘Voracious Killer’, as she had a propensity of biting the jugular and even taking large chunks out of her opponents using nothing more than her teeth. Though it had healed now, Tione had also lost a large chunk of her calve in the past after pissing off Argana when the latter had a little too much to drink…

Remembering all of the times she had suffered under Argana’s cruelty, Tione tightly gripped her fists in expectation, a murderous look in her eyes. Vahn and Tiona both noticed this, completely understanding Tione’s current state of mind. Tiona had been there to see her sister’s suffering and, though he hadn’t been there personally, Vahn had seen the events from both sisters’ perspectives. He knew that, if he had to choose between Argana and Bache, it wasn’t even a contest. Bache had been a relatively kind and caring Master to Tiona, even if she was still harsh during their training. She was also the one that allowed Tiona to keep books related to heroes, giving her hope during the darkest part of her life…

Vahn reached out his hand, grasping Tione’s fist firmly as he said, “Whatever you decide, I will support you…” Though he knew it was ‘better’ for people to move on, leaving their tragic past behind them, Vahn also knew it was borderline impossible for some. Experiencing great cruelty, all while feeling you are powerless to change it, is something most people can’t overcome. Tione had managed to escape with Tiona in the past, but the trauma she had experienced due to Argana’s treatment was deeply rooted in her psyche. If she wanted to duel Argana to the death, Vahn wouldn’t allow anyone to interfere, even Kali herself…though the latter probably wouldn’t care at all.

For a moment, Vahn, Tione, and Tiona were enjoying a heartwarming yet tense atmosphere amongst themselves. It wasn’t until a burly looking fisherman, carrying a wet net full of a fresh catch, gave them a wry smile that they were brought back to reality. Tione gave a rare blush while Tiona just laughed out loud, just as she normally did when embarrassed. Vahn’s own cheeks felt a little hot, even against the cold air, so he just gave a small nod to the fisherman before heading towards the port. There were several fishing vessels in port but, standing out amongst them all, Vahn could see a large red twin-masted Brig Sloop moored in the center of the harbor. It was a large vessel around 50m long, possessing a unique structure that had a very ‘foreign’ feel to it compared to the relatively standard vessels anchored nearby…

Tione and Tiona had confirmed it was indeed Kali’s ship and, with the large eight-armed female emblem adoring the sails, it wasn’t really a point of contention as to who the ship belonged to. This was clearly the Kali Familia emblem and, as a result of her reputation, most of the other ships gave them a ‘very’ wide berth. Some ships were even traveling in a very wide arc to avoid passing anywhere close to the large blood-red ship and its crew. As for the crew themselves, Vahn could see several nearly-naked women diving into the large saltwater lake, disappearing for what felt like several minutes before reemerging with large fish they had caught by hand.

Seeing this, even from a distance, Vahn wondered what it would be like to go fishing while relying on nothing but his physical capabilities. He had never really dived too deeply into a large body of water and couldn’t help feeling a little intrigued by the concept. Unlike ‘most’ people, he didn’t really need to breathe so there was no limit to the depth and duration of his dives. Vahn knew that, even with the large size of the Continents, they made up less than five percent of the planar world of Danmachi, the rest almost entirely comprised of an ocean that extended several dozen kilometers down into the dark abyss where the light from the sun had no hope of reaching…

While humoring the thought of exploring the ocean’s depths, Vahn came to a sudden stop as the aura of three gods entered his perception. One was far more powerful than the other two and seemed to be making its way towards them, causing Vahn to gesture to Tiona and Tione as he turned his head towards the direction of their ‘guest’. Given the circumstances, it was almost undoubtedly Kali herself and Vahn was curious about what she was up to by meeting them without an escort. Though she didn’t have any reason to ‘fear’ for her safety, it was still a very strange decision to make since Vahn did have a track record of killing gods…

From around the corner connecting to an alleyway, a small brown-skinned girl wearing a blue smock-dress came into view. The dress had a squarish hole where the head protruded, adorned with cream colored and green stripes, just like the hem of the dress. Since the hem extended past her knees, it gave the girl a very youthful appearance and, if not for the golden ornaments on her wrists and ankles, she might have looked like a normal young girl. Even without such adornments, however, the long black hair tied into a loose ponytail that extended to the back of her calves, the crimson red pupils, and the fact that she had exuded a feeling of intense ‘threat’ made her stand out quite a bit…

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As soon as the ‘young girl’ made eye contact with Vahn, she gave a small pouting expression as she said, “Lok said you were very perceptive, but you could have at least played along for a little while, Vahn…” Vahn had already started to emit a bit of pressure from his domain while Tiona and Tione had both assumed combat-ready stances, neither remotely fooled by the ‘disguise’ of the goddess that had been deeply ingrained into their hearts, minds, and bodies. Even so, Kali didn’t really seem bothered by the cautious and hostile reactions of the group, walking forward with a pretend ‘innocent’ expression on her face as she explained, “Like this, you can refer to me as Chandi, okay? Come on, don’t you want to try patting my head~?”

Completely ignoring the looks Tiona and Tione were giving her, Kali made her way right before Vahn, looking up at him with a playful and expectant smile. If not for the massive aura and insane bloodlust she exuded, Kali could have easily played the part of an innocent child, something that made Vahn feel apprehensive. Even so, he didn’t let it show on his face and, causing Kali’s smile to widen greatly, reached out his hand to stroke her head. She was only 138cm tall so it was very easy to place his hand on her head, sending waves of petting energy that caused Kali to show momentary surprise before ‘giggling’. This time, Vahn couldn’t help himself as he commented, “This act…is kind of disgusting…”

Kali poked out her tongue in response, stating confidently, “Who, other than a god, determines how a god should act? Even Loki and Freya were allowed to change, even though they had been stagnant for so many years. Is my ‘act’ really such a bad thing, if its who I’m willing to become in order to make things easier for you~?” Being one of the older gods in her Pantheon, Kali was nearly as old as Hestia yet, because of her Divinities, she had a far more ‘active’ role throughout History. She wasn’t nearly as ‘clever’ as Loki, but her experience over more than five hundred million years wasn’t something that could be looked down on by most mortals.

In response to Kali’s words, Vahn moved his hand back, removing the silky black-haired wig that Kali had been wearing, revealing her blood-red hair that curled a bit towards the ends. It easily extended past the small of her back as it flowed down, falling naturally into place as Kali’s eyes turned somewhat sharp. Her little tooth, which had been poking out innocently previously, now seemed more like a fang as Kali ran the tip of her tongue across it hard enough to draw blood. Then, with a bit of excitement glimmering in her eyes, Kali stated, “You know, I don’t mind if you want to take the lead and do things your way…but, if you are going to disrespect me so readily, Vahn, you should prepare yourself for the consequences. Unless you can beat me head on, don’t expect me to just stand idly by as you cause me to lose face in front of my Amazonesses…”

Kali had tried to use the information Loki had provided about Vahn to appeal to him in a way that she thought he would prefer. Though Loki mentioned that he had inhibitions about her size, the fact that he had a Pallum in his ‘harem’ meant he wouldn’t be able to use it as a genuine excuse. If he had just played along, Kali had been willing to keep up the pretense for the entire duration of their journey, all so that Vahn’s mind would be at ease. Now, he seemed to be doing everything in his power to undermine her intentions and, though Kali also expected this somewhat, it didn’t mean she would ‘play along’ if he wasn’t willing…

Vahn continued looking down at Kali, then, without minding her ‘vicious’ look, he reached out his hand and began stroking her head directly this time. The hair of a goddess was usually finer than refined satin so it was a very pleasant feeling against his palm, even though the silky black wig, which seemed to be a ‘very’ high-quality item, was also rather nice. Then, amidst Kali’s confusion, Vahn simply stated, “There will come a time when we have to settle things, but that is beside the point…this whole journey is supposed to be us getting to know each other better, not a version of ourselves that we think is ‘suitable’ for the occasion. If I can’t get close to the real you, there is no way I would be willing to have a child with you…for the time being, we should do our best to get close naturally. Don’t play games with me, Kali…”

Even as he spoke rather sternly, Vahn’s actions ‘seemed’ gentle, especially with the aid of his [Grooming] and [Hands of Nirvana]. Kali had become momentarily absentminded as she listened to his words, only coming to her senses when the last syllable left his lips. Then, a smile that was the exact opposite of the word ‘innocent’ appeared on her face as a predatory light glowed in her eyes. She bared all of her teeth like a wild animal before saying, “I’m starting to see how you were able to win over those two troublesome goddesses, Vahn. If that is your wish, I’ll be more than happy to oblige you~!”

At the end of her words, Kali broke away from Vahn’s hand, feeling a strange twinge in her heart that caused her brows to twitch as she began removing her one-piece smock. Before she could do so, however, Vahn had made his way to her side and held down the hem of the fabric, a stern expression on his face as he said, “Just wear that dress for the time being. You stand out quite a bit already, so it would cause problems if you’re walking around with next to no clothing on…” Vahn also placed the black wig back on Kali’s face, all while she looked at him as if he was spouting something completely ridiculous. He even went out of his way to make sure the wig was seated properly on her head, hiding her blood-red hair and fixing her clothing as if he was incredibly accustomed to the act…

(A/N: Never underestimate Papa Vahn…)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘It’s all fun and games when you treat like as if it’s a fun game~!’,’Tione’s resentment runs deeper than the ocean…’,’Kali is wholly unprepared for the abnormality that is Vahn Mason xD…’)

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