Chapter 939: Worries

As the days continued to pass in relative peace, Vahn began to feel like many of his ‘ambitions’ had slowly started to fade away as his happiness continued to increase. Though there were still ongoing issues, such as his maintenance of Enyo’s seal, the treatment of Alexa’s ‘condition’, and the instability in both Westport and the Iron Hills, they didn’t have too much of an impact on daily life in the Manor. At this point, Alexa had calmed down a great deal and had been able to return to her female form so long as she didn’t get excited. As for the other matters, excluding Enyo’s seal, Vahn didn’t have to worry about them personally since they were being handled by people he could trust.

Presently, Vahn’s greatest ‘worry’ was the upcoming birth of his next child as Shakti was well over eight months into her pregnancy. She had already been moved into the Manor so he had been spending a lot of time with her and his children as the days counted down towards her delivery date. Even the ongoing journey with the Kali Familia had almost become ‘routine’ for him so, unless something unexpected happened, Vahn’s avatar spent most days in a daze. He had grown accustomed to skinship with the Amazoness crew and would occasionally spend some time during the evenings alongside Kali, but nothing major had happened after the Charybdis event.

As a result of how lax things had become recently, Vahn found himself in one of the comfortable hemispherical canopy chairs with Shakti dozing away in his embrace. Instead of wearing her Adventurer attire, she had been wearing loose and comfortable clothing lately and was currently sporting a white sundress as she curled up against him, cradling her own stomach by placing her hands overtop Vahn’s. The canopy chair they were relaxing in was gently rocking with the wind as it was suspended like a swing from Yggy’s branches. There was a very pleasant aroma permeating through the air as some of the younger and more adventurous children played around nearby…

Vahn had recently been fighting against the feeling that ‘something’ was going to go wrong as he grew progressively happier. Fortunately, his instincts seemed to have also taken a vacation and, even though he never truly dropped his guard, it was extremely refreshing to spend his days in such a fulfilling way. He knew this was primarily because of how hard goddesses like Loki, Freya, and Fortuna were working, but he made sure to make it up to them when he had the chance. There was even a moment, just a few days prior, where he had given Fortuna her first full-body massage, causing the generally stoic and professional goddess to have to stay the night since she had been unable to walk for a few hours after the fact…

Thinking back to Fortuna’s scarlet blush, Vahn’s mouth arced into a smile before he adjusted his posture without waking Shakti, tempted to join her in taking a nap. If not for the fact he was supposed to be keeping an eye on the children, Vahn very well might have dozed off himself for an hour or two. He had to remind himself that, even though Vana looked like an adult, she wasn’t even four years old yet and, with how much fun she was having with the other children, this was especially apparent. She may have mellowed out a great deal, but her true nature would come out when she was having fun with her smaller siblings…

With his mind wandering a bit back at the Manor, Vahn’s focus subtly shifted to the Kali Familia ship where the cold air had turned frigid with nearly two months having passed since their departure. The further south they went, the colder the winds blowing inward toward the Continent seemed to become. They had to follow a rather roundabout path to reach Telskyura, traveling far from the shore to avoid the underwater rock structures and coral reefs that were located closer to land. Out in the sea proper, the depth could easily reach several kilometers, making Vahn liken it to an ocean but unable to really remark on it since such a concept didn’t really exist in a record like Danmachi.

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Over the last two months, not too many exciting events had happened and, other than the daily competitions for food, things had been ‘smooth sailing’. Even Kali seemed to have grown bored with watching him every day and could often be found sunbathing completely naked on the deck or lounging about and taking long naps. At this point, Vahn had grown somewhat desensitized to her behavior and was largely immune to her teasing during the evenings, even though she had become progressively bolder in her actions. There had even been an evening where Kali had invited him to take a dip in the frigid ocean with her, not really waiting for his consent as she dragged him down into the water for a late night swim…

Vahn didn’t mind the cold water at all, as the temperature never really bothered him, but the fact that his vision worked just as well during the evening was a detriment at the time. Kali had been completely bereft of clothing and had dragged him deep under the water as she attempted to get him riled up. The image of her blood-red eyes glimmering in the icy and dark waters had left quite an impact but Vahn ultimately disappointed her after she tried to snake her fingers into his swimwear. Neither of them needed to breathe underwater and they could have very easily stayed down for as long as ‘necessary’, but Vahn ended up pulling away from her grasp, much to Kali’s frustration.

Even now, after several days had passed, Vahn felt like he could still feel prickles on his skin from where Kali had bitten and clawed him during the tantrum that had followed his rebuff. He really didn’t know what to tell her as, even though he had been warming up to the idea after spending a few thoughtful evening with Lili, there was still a mental block that prevented him from closing the distance between them. She wasn’t aware of it, but this was primarily due to the presence of Myahi who, while only eight years old, was nearly as tall as Kali.

Though Myahi, according to their culture, was also considered an adult, Vahn simply couldn’t see it that way since she ‘literally’ had a bit of baby fat around her face and stomach, without even a semblance of secondary sexual characteristics having developed. She had actually gone through a growth spurt of sorts after essentially setting Vahn as her ‘target’, growing from around 125cm to 133cm over the last two months of their sea voyage, but that was beside the point. Vahn simply couldn’t see her as anything more than a young girl that wasn’t even remotely prepared to be a mother. She couldn’t even speak anything other than her native tongue, completely lacking the ability to read and write, so Vahn had left her under the tutelage of Tiona to stop her from trying to grind against him when she was excited…

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As if she knew he had been thinking about her, Myahi had intruded on the bowsprit, completely unaffected by the rise and fall of the ship as it cut through the waves. She, like all Amazonesses, had impeccable balance and had easily made her way over to Vahn, asking, “Can I sit with you, Vahn…?” Since her only duty was to beat the drum and clean the ship, Myahi had more free time than the rest of the crew and, even though it had earned her a few sharp quips and barbs from the others, she had been trying her luck lately. This time, her luck didn’t hold out since Vahn was aware of the state of her aura, shaking his head as he said, “You aren’t calm right now…”

Myahi showed a pouting expression but didn’t argue against his words, knowing it was futile to even try since Vahn hadn’t shown any ‘real’ openings throughout the journey. She knew the state of her own body well and, even though it wasn’t time for fishing, dove into the water below to cool off. Nobody stopped her from doing so and, as she could easily catch up with the ship, it didn’t matter if she wanted to go for a short swim. Vahn kept track of her within his domain to make sure she didn’t come across anything too dangerous but she wasn’t foolhardy enough to wander away too far so it wasn’t an issue. She just ended up killing a few large fish to vent some of her frustrations before picking up speed in the water and leaping back onto the deck around twenty minutes later.

Vahn was aware that she was watching him for nearly a full minute after returning to the deck before her aura slowly calmed down when she realized he wasn’t going to turn around. Then, just as all the Amazons did after going for a swim, Myahi stripped down into the buff and applied a type of lotion to her skin that would protect against the harmful rays of the sun and prevent brine and salt buildup from damaging the soft tissues of the body. Vahn had the basic sense of propriety to not gawk when the other Amazonesses would wipe down their bodies, so there was no way he could meet Myahi’s expectations when she did the same…

Ignoring the pair of eyes that would periodically glance over at him, Vahn activated his own [Eyes of Truth] to peer at a large presence around 2km ahead of the ship. It ended up being a large jellyfish with a crown more than 5m wide and tendrils that seemed to stretch down for nearly 20m. It wasn’t a species that Vahn had ever encountered, causing Sis to explain, (*That is a type of sea creature known as a Cannonball King Jelly. They aren’t particularly dangerous to large ships but have been known to ram against smaller merchant vessels. It is uncommon to see them out during this season, according to the records stored within your memory.*)

Cannonball King Jellies were more common in the Serpent Sea, where the water would remain relatively warm during the winter, at least compared to the open Poseidon Sea. The current sea temperature was around -1.4 degrees Celsius, causing ice drift to build up when the waters were calmer. For it to be in the area, it meant there was likely a pocket of warmer water in the area or even something like an underwater volcano nearby. It was too deep for Vahn to determine if this was the case so he could only set the matter aside as his eyes traced over a few other creatures roaming about, some of which seemed to support this idea.

As Sis had pointed out, the Cannonball King Jelly didn’t even try to interfere with their voyage and instead drifted out of the ship’s path without contest. Since there were no real benefits in killing such a creature, as it wasn’t even edible under normal circumstances, Vahn ignored it in passing. He was more interested in some of the larger chunks of ice that had been appearing in the sea, causing him to wonder if they would reach Telskyura before the inland sea became impassable. Khodiva had said they would make it a few weeks before the ice set in, so he could only trust her experience since he could only guess as to how the nature of the sea would change in the weeks to follow…

Like this, another day at sea passed without any major incidents other than the successful hunt of a juvenile Aspidochelone, an extremely rare sea creature that even the Amazonesses weren’t willing to waste. They were a type of creature known by some as ‘Island Turtles’, as there was no limit to their potential growth and they could live well over ten-thousand years. In that time, they could grow to the size of a small island and there had even been cases where ships would become marooned on unexplored islands, only to find that it was the corpse of an Aspidochelone later on. As for why even the Amazonesses would treat it as a big harvest, it was due to the fact that the liver, which could be several meters long, could be used to make extremely high-quality Elixirs. The rest of the materials, such as the shell and bones, were also suitable for making equipment so they had spent the better part of four hours harvesting the rather unfortunate creature after Vahn had spotted it…

Following the successful harvest, the Amazoness crew was in especially high spirits as they enjoyed the rather famous turtle meat in large quantities. Vahn was once again the center of attention and, after producing a few gourds of rather expensive wine from his own inventory, the evening had become rather chaotic and lively, resulting in some of the Amazonesses to even begin to playfully wrestle together while Vahn watched alongside Tiona and Tione. They knew better than to go all out while on the ship but that didn’t stop the girls from play-fighting for dominance, usually pinning each other in rather compromising positions and pulling at each other’s already sparse clothing.

The evening finally came to an end after one of the drunker Amazonesses ended up challenging Tiona to a wrestling match, promptly finding herself on the losing end as Tiona laughed happily on her back. She had managed to pin the challenging Amazoness in under ten seconds, forcing the woman onto her stomach as Tiona twisted her legs into a rather painful looking angle. If not for the flexibility purported by most Amazoness warriors, the foolhardy woman likely would have injured her joints and tendons, if not outright having her bones broken under the pressure of Tiona’s submission hold. After that, nobody was foolish enough to challenge Tiona and, being the ‘reigning champion’, the impromptu event came to an early end as Khodiva wrangled the crew and forced them into the cabin to rest for the coming day.

As was often the case, Kali showed up when the other Amazonesses had cleared out, now no longer worried that they would be spied on. At this point, the crew had adjusted to their goddess’ habit so they wouldn’t leave their cabin unless the alarm was sounded. Because of this, Kali made her way into the galley before sitting down on one of the cushions that Vahn had set out. The Amazonesses didn’t normally use such luxury items but, with Vahn bringing them out, they didn’t refuse to make use of them either. As for Kali, she unhesitantly got comfortable on the plush cushion without making any attempts to feign decency as she laid on her side and said, “You know, since you are the one that found the Aspidochelone, you have the right to keep it for yourself. Are you trying to make us feel indebted to you, Vahn~?”

Though he didn’t look directly at her, Vahn also didn’t avert his eyes and just matched Kali’s expression, even as she played with the thin piece of fabric covering her crotch. Vahn didn’t answer Kali’s question and instead changed the topic, asking, “Why do you want to have a child, Kali…?” This had caught her off guard, causing Kali’s brows to rise before she adopted a more casual expression and answered, “I imagine my reasons aren’t that dissimilar to the reasons of other goddesses, even with my rather ‘unique’ Divinities. Though I am a Goddess of Death, I am inextricably drawn to the living…I want to see the natural limit of all creatures, watching as they struggle to survive against an unforgiving existence that will inevitably even claim the very gods themselves…”

While speaking, Kali had rolled onto her back, staring up at the roof above instead of looking back at Vahn. She extended both of her hands, almost as if she were trying to grasp something as she said, “The Vanir are something completely new, a type of existence that has never been seen in the world before now. I’m curious to see their potential for myself and, knowing I have the opportunity to give birth to one, I can’t help but desire to experience being a mother to something so unique and exciting. You know, I’m one of the first generation goddesses after the creation of the three realms. Even though I see the futility of everything, a part of me still wants to break free from the constraints that have limited my own existence…”

The power of a god is almost wholly determined by their age and the t power of their Divinity itself, making it almost impossible for them to grow any further with the restrictions of the Laws. This, combined with the compulsion of their Divinity, could cause existence itself to feel like a heavy burden for some gods. Though not to the extent of someone like Loki, Kali too had desired to change the fate she had been given but, understanding the futility of such things, accepted it far more readily than Vahn’s favorite trickster goddess. After all, Kali’s Divinities were very easy to pacify as, just by existing, observing the passage of time and the natural cycle of life and death, she was able to remain calm and in control.

Vahn nodded his head after hearing Kali’s words before laying down on a few cushions of his own, looking up at the same roof as the diminutive goddess in silence. A few minutes passed like this before he eventually said, “I read the file Loki had given you, so I’m sure you know that the ‘intent’ of the parents heavily influences the development of the Vanir. Honestly, I’m a little afraid of what our union might produce with your nature and the influence of the Amazonesses that may interact with our child in the future. Though I will care for my children, no matter what, I have seen a terrifying example of how bad things could get if both parents aren’t in a stable state of mind as the Vanir develop…”

With this recent incident with Alexa, Vahn was once again reminded of the Lenneth from the Divination, an existence that still terrified him at times. Even when Terra had tried to talk to him about opening up and accepting Alexa, as they had no actual relation to each other, Vahn couldn’t remove the shadow of the former Lenneth from his heart. The idea of treating someone as his genuine child, only to make them his lover later in life, was one of the few things that terrified him to the core.

Kali was a little surprised with how forthright Vahn was being, causing her to fall into a very rare state of rumination before saying, “Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how you see me, Vahn, but I would say that I’m far more stable than you are. I have no expectations for our child other than that they are a unique and interesting existence that I would like to experience mothering. Even though I may not be the ‘best’ mother from your perspective, I’ve watched over the Amazonesses for well over ten thousand years and have seen hundreds of thousands grow up within my time in Telskyura. Your fear is that our child may not take a form that matches your sensibilities…if your words about loving your children ‘no matter what’ are true, that wouldn’t be an issue. If the Vanir are shaped by the intent of their parents, I am more of a neutral element in the equation that has the potential to grow and change, just like that pet Freya of yours…”

As she had spoken, Kali rolled onto her side, closing a bit of the distance between her and Vahn before adding, “One of the reasons I took an interest in you is because I believe that you would even be able to change me, even if it took a little while. I’ve been willing to compromise with you from the start, all because you aren’t ‘strong enough’ to compromise for me. Don’t worry, Vahn, even if you never truly come to love me, I’m not going to neglect my own responsibility as the mother of a Vanir. At the very least, I can make sure to ‘act’ the part for a few decades…” Though she knew it was pushing her luck, Kali had begun to nibble on Vahn’s ear as he processed her words…

Vahn frowned at Kali’s actions but didn’t immediately put a stop to them as he was indeed ruminating over what she had said. Just the fact that Kali had been ‘cleared’ to give birth to a Vanir, which was a decision that could only be made by the ‘entire’ group of goddesses at the Manor, showed that they trusted her enough to give their consent. In truth, though she often got a bad rep as a result of being a goddess presiding over Amazonesses, Kali wasn’t particularly cruel towards anyone. Even in the [Hearts Desire]s of Tiona and Tione, though she obviously enjoyed watching the struggles of others, Kali never personally tormented anyone and forced them into anything…

Just as he was thinking along these lines, Vahn jerked his head to the side since Kali had licked the inside of his ear suddenly. She began laughing mischievously before saying, “There is only a month until we reach Telskyura and we haven’t really grown any closer so far…how long are you going to continue playing around and being indecisive? Even though I’m ‘very old’, my patience isn’t without limit, Vahn…” The final few words spoken by Kali were said in a very serious and cold intonation that was reflected in her expression. She wasn’t fond of being ‘played with’ and, since it was already decided that they would have a child together, Kali was growing progressively more annoyed with Vahn footing around the issue for so long…

Vahn had matched gazes with Kali, made easier by the fact that she was looking over him with her blood-red eyes glittering in the low light of the galley. She had very clearly emphasized the words ‘very old’, reminding him of the fact that she was easily more than a million times more senior than he was in this record. From her perspective, his behavior could be considered very childish and, admittedly, Vahn knew he had been rather unfair to her over the last two months. Most of his relationships developed rather quickly and, even though she had actually taken steps to close the distance between them, his own efforts had been lacking. Though he certainly thought about it quite a few times, Vahn always felt a sense of incongruity when seeing Kali’s figure and how she generally behaved…

As if she could read his mind, Kali’s expression turned icy and Vahn could see her jaw flexing as she clenched her teeth a few times to stay calm. She was, once again, restraining herself on his behalf and, though he had grown accustomed to it in the past, Vahn felt guilty this time around. Surprising her, Vahn released a heavy sigh before rolling onto his side, coming to face Kali and once again realizing just how small she was compared to him. Even so, Vahn kept eye contact with her as he reached up his hand, moving it under the thin vest-like fabric that generally did nothing to cover her breasts. The cold and cautious light in Kali’s eyes seemed to fade away in an instant, replaced by a glimmer of amusement.

Before she could say anything that would inadvertently deter him, Vahn nestled his forehead against the bone mask on Kali’s face, placing it into his Inventory and revealing her rather childish face of surprise. Vahn gave her a smile that seemed to contain a variety of emotions that even he didn’t understand as he said, “For now, let’s just stay like this. Laugh at me all you want later, but it’ll take some time for me to get used to this…” As he spoke, Vahn sent out threads of energy through his fingertips that caused Kali to sharply inhale, shock visible in her expression. Her reaction caused Vahn’s smile to turn more natural as he began to slowly move his hand around, exploring the body he had hardly dared to even look at previously…

(A/N: This chapter was made longer since I won’t be able to write another.)

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