Chapter 934: Idle

Watching the Amazonian crew at work was almost like watching a skilled artisan create a masterpiece. Each coordinated their efforts according to the commands of the hawk-eyed Amazoness steering the ship, never once stopping to doubt or question the orders issued. Other than Kali, Vahn, Tione, and Tiona, there wasn’t a single idle hand as even Bache took over one of the guidelines for the main masted sails. It would usually take a much larger crew to man a vessel of this size but, with the monstrous strength of the Amazonesses, they were able to easily perform the duties of several people with individual members.

Tiona had been a little antsy ever since setting sail, eyeing the crew hard at work as she fidgetted about on the deck. Kali gave her an amused look, commenting, “See, Vahn, it is the instinct of a true Amazoness to take action. Life is a machine in perpetual motion, constantly threatening to consume those who sit in place, accepting a life of stagnation and complacency. The number of lives that have been lost because of such a foolish concept such as ‘civilization’ far outstrips the lives of those who live and die by the law of the jungle. As you continue to play at making a world where people can live ‘free’, you are really just creating a prison that perpetuates excess life and death. Those who live in such a society will turn passive, living amongst excess and going against the natural order as their numbers expand exponentially, leeching off the power and resources provided to them by the strong…”

As a Goddess of Death, Kali was intimately familiar with Life as well, being that the two were the opposite sides of the same coin. There had been a time before Death, causing even the gods themselves to go mad as they sought an end to the endlessly perpetuating cycle. Without death, the world could never exist in balance while those who seek to preserve the lives of others indiscriminately only upset the natural order. She didn’t fault Vahn for desiring a world with ‘needless’ suffering, but the world he envisioned also led to an increased reliance on resources, leading to greater consumption, waste, and inevitable decay. People propagated even faster during ‘peaceful’ times and, without the lingering threat of death, they would steadily grow complacent, dooming the very civilization that supports them out of the greed and expectation that always accompanies such development…

Vahn had been standing near the center of the deck, making sure he wasn’t in the way of any of the Amazonesses as they performed their duties. Hearing Kali’s words, his expression hardened since most of the goddesses, especially Loki, had mentioned similar things. They had all seen Empires, Kingdomes, even entire civilizations, rise and fall over the course of the Mortal World’s long History. Orario was only a City that had existed for a thousand years while there were several Ancient Kingdoms that had come to ruin well over ten-thousand years ago. Some of these had even persisted for far longer than Orario itself and, in almost every case, it was ‘prosperity’ itself that led to their ruin…

Passing his gaze over the silent Tione and the giddy Tiona, Vahn then set his sights on Kali herself as he replied, “I won’t deny that your words hold a great deal of truth, Kali…however, just because something has ‘always’ been one way, that doesn’t mean it can’t become something else. After all, more than a thousand years ago the concept of gods roaming amongst mortals didn’t even exist. The world is constantly in flux, moving forward as other variables are introduced into the complex equation that is life. In my short time, I have seen and done many things that even gods older than you had deemed impossible…even if my vision of the future fails, I will pick up the pieces and try again, no matter how many times it takes. That is the persistence of humanity, the very thing that has intrigued gods since the birth of primordial man…”

Vahn had accepted long ago that he was very likely to fail on his path, perhaps even several times in sequence. Over the course of an ‘eternity’ that even exceeded entire records, Vahn knew he may even experience events that led to the destruction of entire universes. Even so, he was determined to continue forward until he could create the world he envisioned, knowing full well that he may become the very lynchpin maintaining the balance between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in the future. This was something even Kali, having existed more than five hundred million years, couldn’t even conceptualize in a meaningful way…

Kali was slightly surprised by Vahn’s conviction and, knowing some of the feats he had performed, she couldn’t help but agree with him, even if only a little. In fact, she was currently thinking about what it would be like to get pregnant and give birth, a thought that had never even crossed her mind previously. The existence of the Vanir, a completely new race that ‘defied’ nearly a billion years of ‘common sense’ was the truest testament to Vahn’s words. Even his remark about the gods descending to the Mortal World was true, which was one of the reasons she herself had descended in the past.

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With a thoughtful expression on her face, Kali pulled up her leg to get comfortable, taking note of the fact that Vahn averted his eyes in the process. This caused her smile to turn mischevious as she made no effort to adjust the piece of fabric that was supposed to conceal her nudity. Though she would dig the eyes out of a normal man’s skull for daring to peak at her, Kali treated Vahn an exception and found his reaction entertaining. She wondered how long he would fret over such a small and inconsequential matter and wanted to tease him since it was his decision not to ‘play along’ when she wore proper clothing.

After averting his eyes from Kali’s figure, Vahn looked to Tiona and said, “If you want to help out, I’m sure they could use the assistance. The same goes for you Tione, though you don’t have to push yourself if you want to just enjoy the journey. I’ll continue to observe for a while and try to pick up small duties after a few days pass…” Even though they were ‘guests’ on the ship, Vahn felt it would potentially become very boring for Tiona and Tione if they sat still the entire time. They were the type that needed to enter the Dungeon every few days to vent stress, even though they spent a lot of time training and sparring. The three-month long journey wouldn’t be easy for them as Tiona could already hardly contain herself…

With Vahn’s consent, Tiona released a happy ‘Yosh~!’ as she ran over and ‘liberated’ one of the main mast’s guidelines from an unsuspecting Amazoness. This was the paired line to Bache and, outside of steering the rudder, it gave the most control over the direction and progress of the ship. Tiona had a happy smile on her face as she easily coordinated with the other Amazonesses, almost as if she had been part of the crew for years. As for the Amazoness who had lost her duty, she immediately moved to assist elsewhere, not even sparing Tiona a second glance since there was a ‘vast’ difference in both their status and strength.

Tione watched her younger sister with a small amount of incredulity in her gaze before releasing a sigh and saying, “I’ll rest for a while before joining the fishing team once we get out to sea…” She hadn’t really expected to start working alongside the crew so early but, after thinking about how boring and troublesome it would be to just stand around, Tione accepted reality and thought about how she could best help out without getting in the way. Back when they were both sailing on Kali’s ship, her duty had been the same as the small girl beating the large drum so her actual sailing experience was lacking compared to Tiona’s. Since it would be very demeaning for her to beat the drum at her age, Tione decided she would catch the biggest fish during the competition that was bound to occur later…

After their short exchange, Vahn and Tione just watched the crew guide the ship into open waters, entering into the Serpent Sea as the mainland quickly began to shrink on the horizon. Vahn had seen the sea several times from high above but it was his first time seeing such a vast expanse of water up close. It was somewhat surprising and strangely ‘eerie’ to see so much water, especially with the land shrinking in the distance. His curiosity about what lay in the depths increased the further they went out but, even though he would easily be able to catch back up with the ship, Vahn stayed at Tione’s side and continued to support her for the time being…

During this time, Kali had been watching him intently and, even though Vahn was aware of it, he refused to look in her direction ever since they had reached open seas. It was surprisingly windy out at sea and, with Kali’s ‘negligible’ clothing, there were constant flashes of tender skin that he’d much rather avoid perusing. Part of him wanted to pull out another dress and ‘force’ her to wear it but, given the circumstances, it would be impossible to convince her without coming to some kind of compromise. He knew this is what she was waiting for as her smile had grown increasingly large while her posture became progressively more slovenly…

Eventually, a change occurred on deck as the hawk-eyes helmswoman issued orders to go half-sail while adjusting the ship’s course at an angle against the wind. This started them on a zig-zagging pattern that allowed them to progress forward, even against a headwind, as most of the oars were pulled back into the ship. A few minutes later, some of the crew appeared from below-decks, the majority of their clothing removed. Other than their waterproof tops, bottoms, and some stockings, most of these Amazonesses had completely discarded the majority of their already revealing outfits.

At this point, Tione also began to store her excess equipment into her storage bracelet, causing Kali’s brows to rise slightly but otherwise remain silent. As for Tione herself, she turned to Vahn and said, “I need to catch the biggest fish, so I’ll probably be under for a while. You don’t have to worry unless I send you a telepathic message…” With these words, Tione began to stretch her body for a short while before leaping overboard and diving into the water below. This started a chain reaction amongst the other scantily clad Amazonesses who almost immediately dove in after her, each disappearing into the sea’s depths. Even the small Amazoness girl, no longer having to create the cadence for the rowing crew to follow, jumped down into the murky and cold water below…

Kali had noticed Vahn’s reaction when he watched the youngest of her crew jump overboard, commenting, “She would be very insulted if you tried to advise her against fishing with everyone else. You’ll come to understand Amazonesses better in the future, Vahn…for now, you should just observe. If you want to step in during an emergency, however, feel free…assuming you are willing to take responsibility~.” Just as an Amazoness would get excited watching a strong potential mate in battle, they could become equally excited if a strong potential mate saved their lives. One of the ways to ‘fish’ for an Amazoness that would dedicate themselves to you, at least for a short while, was to try and save them when they were in dire straits. After all, even if you were weaker than them, the fact you helped them overcome a situation where they would have otherwise perished left quite an impression on the Amazoness in question…

Vahn withheld a sigh after hearing Kali’s words before doing something she, and most of the other Amazonesses hadn’t quite expected. Since it was a little awkward to just stand in the middle of the deck doing nothing, Vahn unequipped his top before changing into a pair of diving shorts. This left his own tanned skin exposed to the brisk sea breeze as more than twenty pairs of eyes ‘locked’ onto his body. Ignoring the heated gazes, Vahn leaped high into the air, lingering for a few seconds before diving down into the water with unexpected momentum. His rather dynamic entry caused a plume of water to erupt at the side of the ship as he barreled through the water faster than most of the Amazonesses themselves could manage…

Though he didn’t possess the [Diving] Development Ability, Vahn was able to move through the water with even greater ease than he could fly through the air. He sacrificed a lot of agility but, by moving the water ahead of him to the side, Vahn was able to move at supersonic speeds through the water. Since his domain allowed him to detect life in the depths, he made a beeline towards a large shark-like creature that was around 18m long. It should have more than enough meat to feed the entire crew so he quickly skewered the side of its neck, sending a blade-like pulse of energy that completely decapitated the rather surprised creature.

After grabbing the still-twitching tail, Vahn was preparing to make his way back to the surface before stopping for a moment and looking at his surroundings. He had gone down to around 300m in a very short period of time, causing there to be almost no visibility, at least under normal circumstances. With his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn could easily see through the murky water where even the sun’s light could barely reach. He could see large schools of fish and even larger singular creatures swimming about in the distance. There was even a serpent that was more than 30m long, currently being tag-teamed by two incredibly agile Amazonesses who were quickly causing it to bleed out as it futilely struggled against them…

Turning his attention away from the duo, Vahn’s eyes passed over the area where the youngest Amazoness was rapidly swimming after a fish more than three times her size. It looked like a type of tuna and, even though it was darting through the water at more than 80km/h, the young Amazoness was keeping pace, matching every twist and turn with her tiny body as she steadily closed the distance between them. He noticed that, though Amazonesses weren’t particularly known for treating their young well, there were a few nearby the younger Amazoness that were keeping an eye on her, both out of intrigue and just the smallest modicum of concern…

After watching the chase for a few seconds, Vahn felt a shockwave pass through the water that was followed by a loud yet muffled thump. Though he had been keeping tabs on her, Vahn was a little surprised to see Tione dragging a massive crab that was over 10m across up towards the surface. It wasn’t really the ‘biggest’ catch, but the strength and difficulty of capturing such a creature were much higher than even fighting against the serpent. Unlike the latter, the crab in Tione’s grasp was known as a Titan Stone Crab, a type of monster that was the equivalent of a Level 3 monster. The serpent was just a large sea-dwelling creature that had grown large from exposure to the mana leaking out from some of the connecting points to the Dungeon below. If it were to come across the Titan Stone Crab, it would be killed almost instantly, making the latter far more ‘impressive’ of a catch…

Vahn suddenly felt like his 18m long shark was significantly less impressive than his initial impression. However, not wanting to show up Tione, Vahn threw it into his Inventory before moving on to catch something ‘slightly’ smaller than her Titan Stone Crab. He found a relatively rare Emerald Tortoise that was also around Level 3 but was much easier to deal with since they were relatively slow. Using his Xuanwu form, Vahn easily broke through the monster’s notoriously high defense before dragging it towards the surface. Though he could store it in his Inventory, everyone else was dragging their prey back so Vahn felt compelled to do the same…

After Vahn had dived down below, Kali had risen from her seat before making her way to the side of the ship, her crimson eyes glimmering with interest as she looked at the surface of the water below. She didn’t have the ability to see through the depths, but she could feel several lives being extinguished and was curious about what kind of prey Vahn would bring back. Even she hadn’t expected him to suddenly strip down and jump into the water, causing her to stare slightly wide-eyed with the other Amazoness when he revealed his body. Though it wasn’t the most impressive figure she had ever seen, Vahn was significantly more ‘developed’ than she had expected. As a result, slowly but surely, Kali’s intrigue in the anomalous boy continued to grow…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Death is part of life. Those who cannot die, seek it. Those who can die, run from it. The truly wise seek a worthy death, the culmination of all their life’s achievements, never fearing the future they had a hand in shaping’,’Clinging to the past denies the future; failing to learn from the past perpetuates the cycle anew…’,’Go, tiny Amazoness, catch the fishy…!’)

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