Chapter 970: Rumors

Even before the Denatus had come to an end, some of the more impatient gods had already left the assembly, spreading gossip about with an atmosphere of excitement about them. The fact that the Divine Council had been established was major news but it still paled in comparison to the news that Vahn would become an actual Emperor. Some were unable to believe it, even though it had been a popular topic over the last few months, while others were completely taken aback by feelings of incredulity. Many of the foreign dignitaries that had arrived within the City, some of which had expected things to turn out like this, were now feeling an even greater pressure than before. They had already prepared themselves for several different outcomes, including a situation where they would be forced to yield to Vahn’s demands, but now things had been elevated to another level completely…

Vahn also heard the rumors being spread around the City as he had kept up with his habit of making public appearances even during the Denatus. The first time he heard the rumor was in one of Orario’s larger market districts as he and Lili were enjoying a short date. They had just come out of a Cafe when a member of one of the smaller Familia within the Alliance was completely awestruck after seeing Vahn come out through the front door. The young man fell into a panic of sorts, seemingly unsure if he should bow or salute as he awkwardly gesticulated before eventually apologizing, all while Vahn looked on with a slightly bemused look. It wasn’t until the man had calmed down, explain that his god had already left the Denatus to spread the information, that Vahn understood the man’s peculiar behavior.

After ‘allowing’ the man to leave, Vahn lightly shook his head while a small smile adorned his face, even as people looked towards him with mixed expressions of fear and reverence. As for Lili, she seemed rather proud that things had gone well, puffing out her more than modest chest with a happy smile on her face before grabbing Vahn’s arm affectionately. The top of her head barely reached his diaphragm so she had to crane her head quite a bit, hear hazel-brown eyes shimmering excitedly as she asked, “Does this mean I get to be an Empress if we get married~?”

Vahn released a light-hearted chuckle in response before picking Lili up and ascending into the sky, much to the surprise of the gathering crowd. Lili herself wasn’t surprised, however, and just casually nuzzled into Vahn’s chest while he carried her, bridal style, through the air. To answer her previous question, Vahn had a thoughtful look in his eyes as he said, “I think things will be a little complicated if I have everyone become an Empress so it may be necessary to come up with a different title…if you want to get married, I’d be more than happy to, Lili…” Realizing he was unnecessarily complicating things, Vahn changed his tone as a gentle smile spread across his face. Lili hadn’t particularly minded his words, as she was already fully aware of Vahn’s disposition, but she was still much happier when he said they could get married…

While already imagining herself in a pristine white dress, Lili had her eyes closed for several seconds before releasing a small sigh. She might not be the smartest woman around Vahn, but Lili was rather prideful of her intelligence. Though Vahn had changed the topic a bit, she tried to imagine what it would be like if he had nearly thirty Empresses around him, something that didn’t seem reasonable, no matter how she looked at it. If she truly wanted the title, Lili knew she would have to change the way she acted and, depending on the circumstances, she could even be wrapped up in the Empire’s politics. Since she would much rather just be someone close to Vahn, without having to worry about such troublesome things, Lili gave up on becoming an Empress and began to wonder how she could make her own wedding more memorable…

Holding Lili’s small figure a little tighter, Vahn sent warm energy coursing through her body as they quickly zoomed through the sky, arriving at the Manor in just a few short minutes. They touched down in the Manor’s central courtyard but, instead of setting Lili on the ground, Vahn continued to carry her for a while as she was lost in thought. Since it was a good opportunity, he made his way to the western side of the Manor, following a few passages before arriving at a large room where two auras, and several life signs, were present. Vahn couldn’t see the aura of his children and, for the time being, the large room served as a daycare for some of the younger children that were too old to stay in the maternity ward.

Within the room, Vahn found Eina, Syr, Mona, and Lunoire all looking after several young children and a veritable menagerie of guardians. Amongst the group, there were three nearly identical young children that were wearing small smock-like dresses with large embroidered flowers on the chest region. Each had a unique design, showing a rose, iris, and daisy, matching the names of the inordinately small Pallum children. Though they were very tiny, the girls were already very perceptive and were developing rather quickly, making them easily able to discern the presence of their Mama and Papa as eager and excited smiles adorned the girls’ faces.

Vahn set Lili down on the ground before sitting down himself, fully aware of the fate he had invited upon himself as his sons and daughters began to congregate around him. Rose ended up falling prey to Lili’s embrace while Vahn was practically piled on by Iris, Daisy, Eiko, Macht, and, though she was barely able to hobble about, his doll-like daughter, Natalie. The only child that didn’t migrate over to him was the perpetually sleeping Lucas who now had a healthy coat of thin golden fur covering his body as he happily dozed in Mona’s embrace. As for Mona, she looked increasingly more vibrant with the passage of time, even though Vahn knew it had to be stressful looking after so many children all day…

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With Iris, Daisy, and Eiko sitting in his lap, Macht climbing on his shoulders, and Natalie clutching the fringe of his tunic, almost as if she was saying, ‘don’t go’, Vahn accepted his fate and decided to commit his afternoon to his children while talking with Eina, Syr, and Lili about the future. Mona and Lunoire weren’t left out of the conversation but, having never really interfered much in the matters and affairs of the Manor, they only offered small tidbits while listening in most of the time. It was Syr would gave Vahn the wisest counsel while Eina, though having one of the more influential positions in the Manor, simply expressed her concerns about Vahn’s, and the children’s’, well being. As for Lili, she was a little preoccupied with her three rather clingy children who, for reasons unknown, had developed a ‘climbing’ habit, much like Macht…

Even with his hair being pulled on by Iris, Vahn kept a casual smile on his face without minding it too much as he would periodically rub the heads of his children or pinch their cheeks. He knew that his time with them would be cut down in the future so, at least for now, Vahn wanted to spend time with them so they didn’t feel lonely. Though everyone in the Manor helped to look after the children, Vahn knew he was like the ‘lynchpin’ of everything, as his children all seemed exceptionally fond of his presence. This wasn’t just because of his [Hands of Nirvana] and [Grooming], which he rarely proactively used against them, but because of the strange ‘link’ between him and all entities that had Source Energy contained within…

Vahn had noticed this even before the birth of his first children, as he had seen the signs in his subordinates like Fafnir and Fenrir. Since The Path was the source of ‘Source Energy’ itself, it wasn’t incorrect to say that any entity with Source Energy flowing through them was almost like an extension of himself, the one who had fused together with The Path. This was an unbreakable bond as even Tier 9 energy systems would never be able to destroy Source Energy. As a result, Vahn had a close connection to every entity that had Source Energy flowing through its body and, in turn, they also seemed inextricably drawn to him with an impulse that even exceeded the bonds between close kin.

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Eventually, all of Vahn’s children, with the exception of Natalie, ended up falling asleep after lingering around him for a while. Vahn found the weight and presence of his children extremely comforting, a feeling they shared if their happy smiles were any indicator. Even Natalie, who almost seemed lacking in expression, would allow a small smile to adorn her doll-like facial features as she gently stroked her Silvervine Python while Vahn tied up her silvery hair into two small pigtails. This was already the fourth hairstyle he had done for her, each causing Natalie to giggle happily whenever Syr would hold up a mirror for her use. Natalie didn’t speak much, at least during normal circumstances, but it was obvious she was very aware of her surroundings since there was a glimmer of intelligence perpetually present in her silvery-blue eyes.

Seeing her daughter’s hair done up by Vahn, Syr held up an ornate hand mirror for Natalie while commenting, “This daughter of our’s is going to be a heartbreaker in the future…fufufu~.” Since Natalie was ‘purified’ as a result of the union between Vahn and Syr, she was actually a ‘true’ Demigoddess, a similar existence to other Demigods but inordinately more refined. Instead of having a mixture between the two different races, which often caused a variety of issues, Natalie’s genes were ‘flawless’ as a result of the existence of Source Energy in her body and the perfect fusion of the two halves of her heritage. In a way, she was the first ‘real’ Demigoddess that had ever existed, much like how Eina was the first true Half-Elf and Tsubaki was the first true Half-Dwarf. Vahn had even thought about coming up with completely new names for the races they had become, though such discussions had never gone very far since it ultimately didn’t matter…

Natalie showed a thoughtful yet confused expression on her face while adorably tilting her head to the side after hearing her Mother’s words. As for Vahn, he could only produce a wry smile since he was very aware that Natalie could certainly be a little ‘dangerous’ depending on how she developed. Though they couldn’t be sure as of yet, it was highly likely that Natalie had pseudo-divinities related to Beauty and Love, as her appearance was simply too abnormal otherwise. Fortunately, she didn’t seem to have an inherent charm, at least for the time being, though Vahn knew it was bound to pop up when she had matured a bit…

Knowing that the only thing he could really do was try and guide Natalie down a path where she could find happiness, much like Syr, Vahn lightly poked his daughter’s soft cheeks as he said, “So long as it is someone she chose, I’ll at least give them a chance…if anyone thinks they can pursue any of my daughters, they’ll have to go through me first…” Though it wasn’t really a threat, a small amount of pressure emanated from Vahn’s body as even the momentary thought of someone harboring intentions towards his children caused an intimidating light to flash across his eyes. This went completely unnoticed by his children, as most were sleeping, but Eina, Syr, Lili, Lunoire, and even Mona, all giggled in response.

While Vahn was spending time with his children, he was also back on the 60th Floor of the Dungeon making sure Enyo’s seal was still secure. This time, he had Ais and Shizune at his side since he was going to escort the two down to the 70th Floor to help them familiarize themselves with the impossibly dark terrain’s layout. Both had extremely high perception and could easily sense their surroundings without relying on sight, but Vahn wanted to make sure they were able to navigate the complex terrain without incident since he wouldn’t always be accompanying them on their path to greater strength. The more he protected them, the harder it would be for them to overcome their mental restrictions and further develop their soul, something that would be necessary if they truly seek to become immortals in the future…

Shizune had been watching with intrigue as Vahn checked over the strength of Enyo’s seal and, unable to resist the urge, asked, “Is it okay if I try and send one of my Shadows into the seal…?” Since Shadow Elemental magic had the property of ignoring magical resistance, barriers, and even complex wards, Shizune was a little curious about if she could send one of her familiars into Enyo’s seal. This caused Vahn’s brows to raise slightly, as he was also a little curious since he believed the seal used on Enyo was very likely near the peak of Tier 4 at this point. Shizune was, at best, around the middle of Tier 2 so he couldn’t help but feel slightly curious by the prospect of her being able to simply ‘ignore’ something far beyond her capabilities.

Knowing that Shizune wouldn’t be able to break the seal, even if she could probe into it, Vahn gave a small nod as he said, “Sure, but don’t try to break it. Though I could probably reseal Enyo before she breaks free, it would be far more trouble than its worth…” Shizune hadn’t actually expected Vahn to give her permission so she was a little taken aback before issuing an awkward laugh as she said, “I’m not so foolish as to jeopardize everything over simple curiosity, Vahn…ufufu~.” Since Vahn had given her permission to do something that most ‘sensible’ people would have outright prevented, Shizune felt more than a little happy since she interpreted it as him being slightly deferential towards her out of respect and mutual love…

To avoid any accidents, Shizune summoned a tiny black whisp at the tip of her finger that took on the shape of a simple housefly. It began to silently beat its wings as it careened through the air before disappearing into the complex seal surrounding Enyo’s enclosure. This wasn’t too much of a surprise to anyone present, as Shadow magic simply had such properties, so Vahn continued to watch with intrigue until Shizune frowned deeply. Her connection with her familiar had been severed but she could still ‘feel’ it, now stuck within the seal and unable to escape. It was a very annoying feeling as, even after trying to dismiss it several times, she found herself unable to exercise any influence over the small part of herself that was now stuck inside of Enyo’s seal.

Vahn, understanding Shizune’s discomfort, reached out his hand and began to lightly stroke her head as his eyes transitioned from aquamarine to a stark blue. He peered into the seal and saw Shizune’s fly practically frozen in time, its wings beating so slowly it would likely take days before they completed a cycle. With his [Eyes of Truth], he could tell that the mana contained within had actually started to disperse but would take several days before it managed to escape the seal’s influence, something that was fully expected since that was the purpose of the seal from the start. Still, in order to alleviate Shizune’s discomfort, Vahn used ‘Oblivion’ to create a small sphere that completely destroyed the fly and the contained mana. Though this would be a permanant loss to Shizune’s base mana pool, it wouldn’t even take her a day to replenish what was lost…

Feeling relief, both from Vahn’s hand and the fact that her mana was no longer stuck in Enyo’s seal, Shizune released a sigh while leaning against Vahn’s shoulder. Ais had been watching at the side with a bit of intrigue of her own this entire time but, seeing Shizune snuggling up with Vahn, her brows raised slightly before she also made her way over to his other side. This brought a small smile to Vahn’s face as, for a few minutes thereafter, he simply stood with the two girls at his side as they enjoyed each other’s company. It was only after Gros showed up to pass a message that their small reverie was broken, causing the two girls to give the slightly pale titan an aggrieved look before they finally started their descent towards the 70th Floor…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Gossiping Gods’,’Pile on the Papa~! *sleeping intensifies*’,’Some things never change…’)

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