Chapter 946: Shock

After leaving behind Kali, Vahn was escorted to one of the few furnished areas with the Coliseum so that he could receive a ‘briefing’ from Bache, Tiona, and Tione. Though they had talked at length about things he needed to be concerned about previously, there were a few rules and regulations Vahn needed to keep in mind to avoid causing too many issues. Because of this, once they were in a relatively vacant area, Bache explained, “As long as you are in the Coliseum, there shouldn’t be anyone causing trouble with you. Since you rode in on Kali’s palanquin, everyone would either think you are her equal or her personal possession. Until things are clarified at the feast, there shouldn’t be anyone getting in your way…”

From the side, Tione nodded her head and added, “The most important things to avoid should be bumping shoulders with someone, locking eyes with them for an extended period of time, or doing anything to ‘help’ them in a direct manner. If you bump shoulders with someone, it is the same as telling them that they should have made way for you, leading to an inevitable duel to determine who is superior. If you lock eyes with someone, it is considered a direct challenge and, if they don’t look away, you’ll end up having to fight them in the arena. As for helping, that is the more troublesome of the three as it is the same as saying, “You are mine now.” It isn’t that rare for older Amazonesses to take charge over the younglings but it will be a big problem since you are a man…”

Though most Amazonesses were very straightforward and open about things, a very large part of their culture was comprised of non-verbal communication. Everything from your expression to your body language was constantly being read by everyone else since their battle instincts had them observing for even subtle changes in the muscles of potential enemies. Since even small misunderstandings could lead to battles, everyone was always in an ‘alert’ state, especially within the Warrior tribe. Each of these things would only be exacerbated by the fact that Vahn was a male so he had to be extremely careful about the way he acted, even though he ‘needed’ to be direct at the same time…

Bache had given a curt nod in response to Tione’s words before clarifying, “It would probably be best if you went to the arena and fought a few times in public to avoid small mishaps. If they know how strong you are, they would likely give way to you while walking or lower their heads if you make eye contact. In this place, strength is the most important factor and, before you fight with the Queen, it might not be a bad idea to show off your strength a bit…” Even as these words left her lips, Bache could feel a small heat rising up in her body. She didn’t make any attempt to hide these feelings, causing Vahn to smile wryly in response as he said, “I’ll think about it…”

Vahn knew that, if he were to fight anyone, it would likely be Bache, if not Tiona and Tione after their own displays of power. After he defeats her in a direct battle, it would be much harder to prevent things from developing further between him and the mature Amazoness since her instincts would have been triggered by him. Though it was almost determined that they would have a relationship in the future, Vahn knew that ‘timing’ was important in this situation. After all, there was almost no real privacy in Telskyura, even in an actual building like the Coliseum. There were no real doors or soundproofing available so Vahn would have to erect barriers to prevent people from walking in on him if he decided to partake of any sensual pleasures. If he neglected in his preparations, the chances they would draw a crowd of spectators was extremely high…

After a few more minutes of briefing, generally warning Vahn about ‘posturing’ and ‘presenting’ behaviors, he had a good idea of what to be cautious of. When the explanation was coming to an end, he gave Tiona and Tione a concerned glance, asking, “What are the two of you going to do?” Though he didn’t mind having them accompany him, Vahn knew that both girls likely had a few things they wanted to tend to now that they had returned to their home country. As expected, Tione furrowed her brows slightly and said, “I’m going to go fight in the arena before spending some time with the younglings. I’ll probably leave the Coliseum for a bit as well, but I’ll make sure to send a message before I go…”

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Vahn gave Tione an understanding nod, knowing that she ‘needed’ to deal with some of her past traumas by confronting them directly. As for Tiona, she had been quiet while Bache and Tione had been explaining things, choosing the current moment to frown in concern as she said, “Vahn, I don’t think you should go to Kali’s tent. Nothing bad will happen, but I’m a little worried that you are underestimating Amazonesses a bit…” It wasn’t often that Tiona felt as uneasy as her current appearance depicted. However, being one of Kali’s ‘favorites’ back in the day, she knew some of the things Vahn might witness if he followed through and decided to enter her chambers for the evening…

Just as Vahn was about to ask why Tiona was so worried, Bache had given her former apprentice a deep frown before turning to Vahn and explaining, “Kali-sama’s chambers are where she updates Status Boards and rests during the evening. Since they have to rely on her for the update, it requires Amazonesses to contribute to Kali-sama’s enjoyment in exchange. If you stay in her chambers, you’ll likely see a lot of wrestling, ceremonial dancing, or other kinds of traditional performances. Since it is a presentation and appeal, the girls will be completely naked and it isn’t rare for…well…”

Though she didn’t think it was anything strange, Bache also found it somewhat difficult to narrate what was almost guaranteed to happen. The simple truth of the matter was that Amazonesses, from a very young age, were ‘educated’ in ways to fulfill their ‘purpose’. Since they didn’t have anyone else to practice on, this meant that Amazonesses that had yet to leave the country would practice on each other, often fighting for dominance and pinning their weaker kin into submission holds. In many events, when young Amazonesses got riled up, things could get out of hand very quickly…

Now that even Bache was acting strangely, Vahn felt like there was something very wrong about the situation and he couldn’t help but recall Kali’s cackling as they left the room. Part of him felt strangely nervous, seeding a small notion of going to Kali and refusing to stay in her room. He could easily continue to stay awake until the duel with Hippolyta, meaning it wouldn’t be that difficult to avoid whatever Tiona and Bache were eluding to. At the same time, however, Vahn felt like he would be acting in a cowardly manner if he refused after already agreeing to stay in Kali’s chambers. Since he had already decided to observe the Amazoness culture directly for the next week, there was no better place than witnessing it directly from the same perspective as their primary goddess…

Though he would later come to regret the decision, Vahn’s expression softened a bit as he reached out and stroked Tiona’s hair. She had let it grow out a bit longer than in the past but it still had a wild and untamed feeling, especially whenever she would transform with her [Pactio]. Even so, it was still silky smooth and Vahn had never lost his fondness for rubbing her head, something Tiona also seemed to enjoy since she smiled happily in response. Tione, however, made a pouting expression that caused Vahn to have to placate her for a bit before they all went their separate ways. Tiona accompanied Bache to where the latter had kept all of Tiona’s books while Tione headed straight for the arena to issue an open challenge to anyone who wanted to test themselves against her…

With a few hours left until evening fell, Vahn decided to wander around the Coliseum while spreading his perception around the area and peeking into distant rooms with his [Eyes of Truth]. His main focus was on making sure there were no deeply rooted injuries in the bodies of the younger Amazonesses, even though he was also avoiding the areas where they congregated. Vahn was aware of the dangers of having them imprint on him so he wanted to avoid interacting with the younglings unless there was someone like Tione or Bache accompanying him. As for the Amazonesses he met during his exploration, they all gave him intrigued looks while a few would stare directly at Vahn in an attempt to ‘taunt’ him.

Vahn kept his head raised and curtly greeted those who seemed amicable while completely ignoring the few that seemed to want to fight him. There were some who even tried to bump shoulders with him but Vahn stunned them by using [Shundo] to completely bypass them without breaking stride. This earned him a few appraising looks but there hadn’t been anyone willing to attempt to bar his passage a second time after witnessing his movement ability. He did, however, earn himself a few stalkers who were curious about what he was up to and began to trail behind a short distance without making much of an attempt to actually hide their presences.

For the time being, Vahn knew it wasn’t really a good idea to interact directly with any of the Amazonesses so he ignored his ‘instincts’ and chose to avoid initiating a conversation with anyone. There were some Amazonesses who were particularly eye-catching but Vahn had become very accustomed to the presence of beauties around him and didn’t pay them too much attention, even if his senses did linger on them for a very short while longer than most. In this way, nearly three hours had passed, allowing Vahn to inspect the Coliseum’s structure and heal well over a hundred critically injured children without their knowledge…

During his exploration, Vahn was able to learn many things about the Coliseum, including the number of people inside and many of the secret areas that were probably not meant to be discovered by outsiders. In total, he had counted around 47,000 people within the rather large and ancient structure, more than half of which were children. The Kali Familia itself had well over 50,000 members while the number of Amazonesses that had belonged to it, at least for a short while, was likely closer to 200,000. This was because they would have to leave the Familia, at least temporarily, whenever they became adults and wanted to seek out mates outside of the country. As a result, the Kali Familia was largely comprised of children that were undergoing the crucible and it was a little shocking to see them all residing in small rooms with up to fifty people clumped together. Even in this relatively cramped environment, they would keep a distance from each other and Vahn could feel the hostility radiating off of them, even though only a few of their auras were unstable…

Seeing so many children living in such conditions pained Vahn’s heart more than a little but, at the same time, he knew that these conditions weren’t even as bad as some other countries. At least in Telskyura, all children were cared for by the entire community, even if their own mothers might not have cared for them directly. They also had food and, even though it was very ‘normal’ for Amazonesses to simply sleep outside, shelter. Though they had to fight and undergo severe trials to temper themselves, they weren’t subjected to excessive cruelty, at least from the perspective of ‘normal’ Amazonesses. The ones who suffered the most were the Amazonesses with unique dispositions, of which Vahn only found a few. They were the ones who showed genuine fear and trepidation about their circumstances while also displaying clinginess as they attempted to get along with other children in their group, usually without any success…

Vahn knew he would need to remove these ‘unique’ children from this kind of environment, or at least convince Kali to change things so they wouldn’t be repressed and suffer as a result of their own culture. For the time being, however, he could only help by healing some of their deeper wounds while exploring the other aspects of the Coliseum. One of the most important discoveries he had made was the existence of an underground structure that seemed accessible to only a few Amazonesses. It was here that many of the monsters bred for fighting in the Coliseum were kept while, at the very center of the structure, a large sacrificial altar could be found near what he could only liken to as a maternity ward. There were several dozen pregnant Amazonesses being cared for within while several hundred infants were waiting to receive their Familia crests…

It was during his invasive glance into the underground structure of the Coliseum that Vahn got his first witness of the ‘survival test’ of the Amazonesses. In a small arena that connected between where the monsters and children were kept, there were a few powerful Amazonesses holding infants in their arms as handlers released ‘infant’ monsters like Goblins. They would place one of the infants on the ground and, shaking Vahn to the very core, watched as the Amazoness and Goblin almost immediately fought against each other. Vahn had seen the moment when the Amazoness infant looked at the small Goblin, their aura immediately blazing with an almost animalistic fervor as they crawled forward with surprising agility and began trying to rip the limbs from the almost defenseless monster…

Though he knew that Amazonesses were supposed to have strong battle instincts and a natural desire to fight, Vahn hadn’t expected it to be so ‘extreme’. He understood why they were kept in isolation until they were around four years old, as the chance of infants fighting and killing each other was likely very high if they were left unattended. There were even some infants who seemed far more ‘feral’ than others, being pitted against young Kobolds instead of Goblins. These infants were designated with small red markings on their bodies and their ferocity was far greater than those without. Vahn had watched one of these young Amazonesses, likely not even two months old, choke the life out of a Kobold while completely ignoring the cuts and abrasions she received from its claws and rounded fangs…

After having witnessed a few of these battles, Vahn fell into deep reflection and couldn’t continue watching the bloody scene directly. Part of him wanted to document the development of a young Amazoness from the moment of birth so that he could understand ‘why’ they were as they were. Another part of him wanted to pretend as if he had never even seen the scene, wanting the reality of the situation to be different than what his own eyes had witnessed. However, because he had seen examples like Alexa and even Fenrir, Vahn knew that ‘instinct’ was something that simply couldn’t be ignored. He could probably ‘forcibly’ change things, given enough time, but he also knew this wasn’t ‘right’ to do, even though he also knew many of his other actions were also ‘wrong’…

It was in this conflicted state that Vahn found himself meeting back up with Tiona and Bache before they made their way to the large feast that Kali was hosting. They could both tell that something had happened, causing Tiona to hold Vahn’s arm gently and ‘protect’ him from everyone else during the feast. She would normally happily join in on the festivities, especially when a few Amazonesses started a brawl, but decided her place was at Vahn’s side for the moment. Even Kali seemed to respect this as, other than addressing Vahn as one of the talking points of the feast, she didn’t even approach him until near the very end…

Vahn had only been paying partial attention to what was going on during the feast as he had ‘instinctually’ shifted his focus back to the Manor. He was currently snuggled up with Fenrir and, though he knew it was a little ‘pathetic’, Vahn couldn’t help but seek comfort after witnessing something that he couldn’t really accept. Even though he knew it was ‘natural’, Vahn felt like the Amazonesses had been cursed with a cruel and unjust existence…even though they genuinely seemed to enjoy it. Vahn didn’t know what the ‘right’ answer in this situation was so so he could only continue to observe…

It wasn’t until the feast was being wrapped up and everyone was being sent away that Vahn’s focus shifted back to his avatar. Tiona had fallen asleep while still clinging to his arm as Kali walked over and said, “I’m heading over to my chambers…you coming…?” Since he had been acting strangely, Kali was a little annoyed but still compromised a bit on Vahn’s behalf. If he wanted to just sit and brood, she would allow him to do so, even if her respect for him would diminish by a great deal. Vahn, however, nodded his head and released a heavy sigh before moving Tiona to the side and wrapping her up in a blanket. There were quite a few Amazonesses simply ‘cuddling’ together after passing out and, though it felt a little strange to separate from her at this moment, Vahn left Tiona amongst the company of her kin as he followed along with Kali…

Kali’s face showed a complex expression as she led the way in silence, growing increasingly annoyed by how Vahn was behaving. She knew he must have seen something that upset him but, at least from her perspective, Vahn was far too sensitive. Though Loki had said he was highly empathetic, Kali sometimes felt that his behavior dropped the ’em’ part of the word on occasion, especially if it was something he couldn’t change easily. However, since she knew he had the power to change things and the only thing holding him back was his own sensibilities and the consideration he had for people like her, Kali felt conflicted and couldn’t easily rebuke him for his behavior…

Eventually, the duo reached Kali’s chambers and, after passing by a few ceremoniously dressed Amazonesses, entered into a rather lavish and fragrant circular room. There was a small fire that was perpetually burning in the center, the only illumination for the tent, while a large hole existed in the roof for air circulation. It was a very hot and muggy room that harshly contrasted the brisk and refreshing air that had permeated through the rest of the Coliseum. Even without relying on any of his enhanced senses, Vahn could smell a very heavy pheromone aroma that seemingly wafted from every surface present, the only exception being a small golden lounge with blood-red cushions.

Kali had naturally made her way over to the lounge before patting the spot next to her, saying, “Come, sit with me. Even though the time for rest is quickly approaching, the night is forever young within these chambers, Shangri-La. I can tell you have been heavily affected by what you’ve seen so far, Vahn…and you will likely be influenced greatly by what you will continue to see. Just remember, unless you are willing to force change by acting like a child throwing a tantrum, you should withhold judgment and simply experience our culture. The changes you want to see are things that will take time to implement and unless you understand the very nature of our society, you have no right to interfere directly…”

Vahn had already sat down next to Kali, listening to each of her words closely, even if he didn’t wholly agree with them. The one thing she was right about was the implication that he simply didn’t know enough and, keeping that in mind, Vahn nodded his head before reclining onto the lounge and releasing a heavy sigh. He didn’t really have anything to say and just allowed Kali to lean against his side as she too showed an exasperated and tired expression. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, when a trio of young Amazonesses entered into the chamber, that Kali perked up and adopted her mischevious grin once again. She adjusted herself into a comfortable position, whispering, “Well, though you probably can’t appreciate it, you should still enjoy the evening’s entertainment. Just remember to keep your hands to yourself and there shouldn’t be any problems~.”

Unlike Vahn, Kali was very quick to recover since she generally avoided thinking about things incessantly. She immediately transitioned from pouting to feeling slightly excited at the prospect of how Vahn might react after witnessing the performances that were about to begin. For some reason, she found his ‘innocent’ and ‘awkward’ reactions somewhat adorable, even though his usual behavior would often annoy her to death. As for Vahn himself, his eyes glazed over slightly when he saw the three girls, none of which could remotely be considered adults, begin to dance around the fire in Kali’s room, completely bereft of clothing. His focus immediately shifted back to his main body, cuddling Fenrir a little closer as scenes he shouldn’t be privy to were burned into his perpetual memory…

(A/N: Vahn is going to break at this rate o_o…)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘As long as you do nothing, everything is okay~!’,’Vahn is grossly unprepared for even crueler worlds x_x…’,’Kali lacks sensitivity…’)

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