Chapter 959: Laying The Foundation

A lot changed after Vahn’s return to Orario, even though the Winter season was usually a time where everything would slow to a halt. Contrary to the past, the atmosphere in Orario was extremely lively as the sounds of construction and the perpetually ongoing festivities continued to permeate through society. With Vahn’s reforms, the economy was flourishing and the means by which people could entertain themselves had increased greatly. Other than the introduction of sports, there had been a rapidly evolving entertainment culture where music and theater were becoming increasingly popular. At the same time, Vahn had purchased a variety of different board games that had been introduced into the market while several other forms of ‘simulated’ events were becoming popular in the Coliseums.

One thing of note was the fact that many of the leaders he had contacted had already started to arrive in the city, even though there were still several weeks before the meeting was scheduled. They had been showing up at the Hearth Manor to try and have private meetings with Vahn, each trying to build an amicable relationship with him to ensure they would have greater benefits in the future. Most of them were turned away long before they even came to the attention of Vahn but there were a few persons of interest he made an exception to meet with. These were dignitaries from some of the nations that Orario had already established trade relations in the past while a few were leaders that Vahn’s information network made out to be capable or wise.

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Even without making the meeting public, there were already dozens of rumors circulating within Orario about why Vahn had called so many people into the City. People had affectionately referred to him as the Emperor of Orario in the past but now that Vahn was in a position where he directly influenced other world leaders, it no longer sounded like a joke. This was especially true amongst the growing communities of Pallums, Beast Humans, Elves, and anyone who had directly benefitted from Vahn’s assistance in the past. He also had an extreme level of influence with the successful merchant Familias and, after providing support to the fringe territories during the harsh winter, his popularity had skyrocketed in a very short period of time.

Much of this popularity was the result of the efforts of Loki, Hephaestus, Freya, Fortuna, and many of the other gods that would make up the Divine Council in the future. Loki, in particular, had been using the Hermes Familia to proactively spread rumors that painted Vahn in a positive light while Fortuna had been flexing the financial might of the Alliance to seize control of the entire market, both inside of Orario and outside. It was her efforts, combined with the assistance of the Valkyries, that had caused many of the nation’s leaders to arrive early. Since there were few nobles that wouldn’t want to have a positive relationship with the person that would control the markets in the future, they were competing with each other behind the scenes to be the first to approach Vahn and the core members of the Alliance…

Though not fully aware of what the goddesses had been doing on his behalf, Vahn knew they were taking actions to ensure that his rise had as few hiccups as possible. As a result, after returning from Telskyura with his avatar, Vahn had been spending a fair amount of time with Loki, Fortuna, and Freya every day. They rarely talked about serious issues, unless it was something pressing that Vahn needed to know about, and just spent the time lounging and discussing other matters. Vahn’s relationship with Fortuna had been steadily improving as well, to the point that they eventually ended up sleeping with each other a few times. She wasn’t ready to have a child just yet but that didn’t mean they couldn’t enjoy a bit of quality time together. It helped that Fortuna had a positive relationship with most of the other goddesses and had even won over some of his children after bringing them a few exotic gifts that her Familia had acquired through trade.

As for other goddesses that Vahn had a budding relationship with, Kali had come to reside in Freya’s Manor for a short while as the construction of the Amazoness community was still underway. Her Familia had yet to set out on their journey but it didn’t stop her from having Vahn escort her over to spend time together beforehand. She wasn’t allowed at the Manor just yet so she spent most of her time at the Coliseum with Ganesha, who hailed from the same Pantheon, whenever Vahn was busy. Seeing the various events taking place firsthand had been an eye-opening experience for Kali and, after bringing Hippolyta over to experience one of the major tournaments, both seemed far more accepting of the idea that it would become a national pastime for all Amazonesses in the future.

Vahn’s main focus during these times, excluding his unavoidable responsibilities, was taking care of his present and future children. Artemis’ pregnancy had been relatively short since she had spent a fair amount of time within the Space-Time orb. She ended up giving birth to a healthy baby boy with uniquely pink hair and light-blue eyes. After a bit of discussion, they decided to name him Orion since, much like Vahn, he had become the object of Artemis’ love and affection. His Guardian ended up being a creature known as a Wandering Owl who, much like Orion, possessed abilities related to Time. Vahn hadn’t made the same mistake as before so he bestowed Orion with his artifact and [Heroic Tale] while his son had been napping in Artemis’ embrace.

Orion ended up having pseudo-Divinities related to Love, Animals, and, likely as a result of Artemis residing within the Sub-Space orb, Time. His artifact was a bow known as [Oebstus] that, like all artifacts, would grow along with Orion and help him strengthen his soul. It had the effect of completely ignoring all defenses and, according to the description, could even target ‘concepts’ like emotions. Vahn was curious about the functionality of the bow and wondered how powerful it could become if Orion developed it to an extreme. After all, being able to target concepts was almost like being able to influence the laws themselves. So long as his understanding of the target was high enough, Orion could potentially even use his bow to damage a person’s ‘ego’ in the future…

With the birth of another child, combined with his relationship with his other children, Vahn spent most days with a contented smile on his face. Most of Vahn’s time with his main body was spent helping his children study, train their bodies, or simply playing around and having fun. This included girls like Yggy and, even though she was far older than he was, Diana. The former was exceptionally intelligent and had been studying with Terra to become an equally exceptional mage. As for Diana, she was given the ‘important’ task of making sure Vahn’s room was cleaned every day since she would often get distracted with more detailed work. She still acted as a Maid, almost as if it were a matter of pride for her, but most of her time was spent just playing with the children who most closely matched her appearance’s age.

Vahn was genuinely enjoying his relatively peaceful life at the moment, even though the looming ‘threat’ of his high Karma constantly lurked in the back of his mind. Fortunately, even without him doing much, Vahn was earning well over a million OP per day while more concerted efforts could net him over ten million. He was growing progressively closer to the requisite amount to purchase a dimensional anchor so the only things he had to genuinely concern himself with was uniting the Continent and conquering the Dungeon. The former was a foregone conclusion while the latter simply depended on when he could allocate the time to probe the Dungeon’s depths. It helped that the girls were constantly increasing their strength since Ais, Lili, Haruhime, and Lefiya had already been able to clear down to the 56th Floor through their own efforts. Vahn’s personal record was Floor 58 so he knew exactly how capable they had to be to reach that point without relying on his assistance.

While thinking of the Dungeon and what awaited him in the deeper floors, Vahn’s perception became aware of the presence making its way toward his avatar. His main body was currently enjoying the companionship of the Xenos back at Spero while he had been using his avatar had been meditating while in his Qinglong form. He was currently seated inside an empty stone chamber that had been created by Terra within the Sub-Space orb for his own personal use. Few people would come to disturb him during his training so Vahn’s awareness had immediately taken note of the subtle fluctuations in the person’s aura. The aura belonged to Mikoto and he could tell she was very apprehensive about interrupting his private training session so he quickly rose to his feet before teleporting behind her.

Mikoto jumped nearly a meter off the ground when Vahn appeared right behind her but she quickly calmed down by patting her rather buxom chest and taking a few deep breaths. Vahn’s expression was exceptionally gentle as he said, “Good afternoon, Mikoto. I was just about to exit my meditation so you’re timing is impeccable…” Since he didn’t want her to fret over nothing, Vahn gave an easy excuse that would allow Mikoto to relax a bit. She may not have fully believed him, as Vahn seemed to be unable to genuinely lie to the girls around him, but Mikoto still smiled in return as a loving light flashed across her eyes. Since she was wearing a loose purple kimono, Vahn’s heart palpitated a few times when he saw the look in her eyes, causing his own expression to soften greatly.

With the atmosphere quickly becoming warm between the two, Mikoto seemed to have calmed down a lot as her expression became more natural. She moved a few strands of stray hair before taking a deep breath and saying, “Vahn…I wanted to talk to you about something very important to me. I…” Vahn shook his head gently in response to Mikoto’s words while stepping closer to her body and pulling her into his embrace. He stroked her long and silky black hair as he said, “Don’t forget that I’ve also read the [Flying Heavenly Sword Manual]. I know what you need to do and you have my blessing. If possible, I’d like you to wait for a few months since I intend to go to the Far East myself after Tiona and Tione give birth…”

Though Mikoto had been able to duel people within the Coliseum’s arena, it was hard to develop real sword intent without actual life and death battles against other capable swordsmen. Her skills had developed to an extreme, to the point that she was already rumored to be the most skilled swordswoman in Orario, but they both knew her development had reached a bottleneck. She could still continue to grow, without any real limits, but Mikoto genuinely wanted to master the [Flying Heavenly Sword Manual] to develop it into a true inheritance. Before her strength increased to the point where skill was nearly meaningless, Mikoto wanted to travel the land on her own and polish her skills against other swordsmen.

Upon hearing Vahn’s words, Mikoto’s smile truly blossomed until it had reached her eyes. Their relationship was at a point where Mikoto genuinely felt anxious just thinking about being away from Vahn for a long period of time. Her journey across the sea, combined with the time she would spend traveling the lands, would likely take several years. With Vahn escorting her over, Mikoto would be able to save a lot of time and there was a good chance she would face many powerful foes since he always seemed to get entangled with the most powerful forces in a region. Though she would eventually journey out on her own, as Vahn’s presence could also be like a tree that caused other plants to starve for nutrients, Mikoto knew the first leg of her journey would be far more enjoyable with him accompanying her…

For the better part of an hour, Vahn and Mikoto discussed their intentions in going to the Far East, including Vahn’s intention to seek out Amaterasu while also escorting Tsubaki, Haruhime, and Shizune to their homelands. Girls like Kaguya obviously had things to take care of back in the Far East but, as their strength was still increasing, Vahn had set their matters aside for the time being. He didn’t want to spend too much time in the Far East since his Empire was just about to begin ‘real’ development, so his first journey to the exotic land of swords and spirits would be relatively short.

After their discussion had ended, Vahn and Mikoto spent a few hours just enjoying each others company since Vahn decided to treat his comment about being done with his training as the truth. Since Mikoto had a genuine love for hot springs, they moved to one of the private areas near the third spatial suppression area where a small hot spring was located. This was considered a part of Mikoto’s territory so, unless she had invited them, few would ever venture to this location. The few exceptions were girls like Haruhime, who Mikoto would often bathe with, and the other women who had grown close to her over the years. This included Tsubaki, Shizune, Tina, and, on occasion, Artemis.

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Vahn was enjoying the hot and mineral-rich water while the Mikoto rested her rosy-cheeked face against his shoulder. She enjoyed the moments like this, where it was just the two of them, so Mikoto had been a bit more proactive than normal. Currently, she could feel Vahn’s warmth spreading through her lower body as she lightly kissed his neck in response. In this manner, the two reduced the distance between their hearts and bodies even further, to the point where they were almost inseparable from each other…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The Divine Council is going to have a lot of bias…’,’Musashi vs. Mikoto, when!?’,’Quality Time with a demure swordmaiden…’)

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