Chapter 986: Decision

After returning to the Manor, Vahn split his focus between two equally important tasks. Using his main body, he met up with many of the Manor’s residents while his avatar entered into the Sub-Space orb to experiment with his new system function. Now that he could see even small increases in his mastery of specific skills, Vahn felt as if his training would become exceptionally smooth compared to the past. Though he had never felt as if his strength had started to stagnate, there was a distinct difference between feeling as if you’re growing stronger and ‘knowing’ that you are growing stronger.

The only real downside was that, as always, the new system function provided no real insight into any of his Innates. Unlike the rest of his skills, magic, and development abilities, each of Vahn’s Innates simply showed a (-) whenever he clicked on them. This was due to the fact that Innates themselves were without any inherent limits, at least as far as growth and potential were concerned. Though other skills would eventually reach a point where the only way they could become stronger was if the user themselves became stronger, Innates were, by their own virtue, the very ‘source’ of a person’s true power. Even if he decided to wholeheartedly commit himself to mastering just a single Innate, there was a very real chance it would be far more powerful than all of his other skills and abilities combined…

Back within the Manor, after gathering nearly all of the permanant residents, Vahn found himself surrounded by a variety of multi-colored eyes, each having placed nearly their entire focus on him. Though it wasn’t particularly rare for him to ask for a ‘family meeting’, the girls were always able to tell if the matter he wanted to discuss was important based on the subtle link they all shared. This was especially true for the goddesses and, as a matter of her own personal pride, Fenrir. The latter had long ago developed a powerful link with him through the loyalty she possessed and, after knowing the value actually existing, Fenrir had ‘cultivated’ her loyalty to the extreme in the hopes of one day overtaking the ‘love’ value of goddesses like Hestia…

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With a small smile on his face after passing his gaze over Fenrir, Vahn’s eyes ultimately came to rest of the slit-like openings of Loki’s, seated with two glimmering red irises that seemed to possess almost infinite intelligence. Over time, completely contrary to their interactions during their first meeting, Loki had become one of the most important goddesses within his life. Vahn knew he was almost too reliant on her but, seeing how much effort she put into making everything run smoothly for him, he couldn’t help but feel a soft spot for this goddess that he once scorned out of ignorance. This was something Loki seemed to pick up on as well since, even though everyone was present, a light flush covered her cheeks as she averted her eyes to the side with a smile.

Now in an even better mood than before, Vahn cleared his throat to draw everyone’s attention away from Loki and back to himself, saying, “After my audience with the various dignitaries from around the Continent, I had a revelation of sorts that I needed everyone to be aware of…” In response to this, perhaps to get ‘even’ with him for shifting the focus to her for a brief moment, Loki teasingly asked, “Oh, a revelation, was it~? I wonder how many new ‘sisters’ we’ll end up having to manage in the future…?”

Though he knew she was only jesting, Vahn turned statuesque with his mouth slightly agape after hearing Loki’s slight barb. Many of the girls snapped their heads toward her with disapproving expressions on their faces but, in that same moment, Vahn noticed that many of their auras had slightly flickered while some had even lost a single point of affection after realizing that Loki’s words could very well be true. Everyone had already accepted that Vahn would have multiple lovers but, with the passage of time and the expansion of their rather large family, Vahn could tell that some of the girls were no longer as enthused about the idea since he continued adding more girls instead of focusing on those he already had…

Realizing she had stepped on a landmine, Loki had also turned statuesque but, unlike Vahn, she was able to mask it exceptionally well without breaking her poker face at all. She did, however, feel extremely apologetic and, though she couldn’t do much about it at the moment, Loki promised she would make it up to Vahn latter while also reprimanding herself for letting her Divinity spoil the mood. Vahn had been rather jubilant when he had gathered them all together but now things would become relatively awkward, at least for a short while. Loki wanted to make this transition a little faster so, instead of allowing the silence to persist, she made a dismissive gesture that indicated they would talk about it later before asking, “So, what did you see this time, Vahn? Was it a vision, or something else…?”

With Loki’s question snapping him back to reality, Vahn closed his gaping mouth and swallowed before saying, “Just like what we’ve seen in the girls’ [Heroic Tale]s, I am now able to determine just how close I am to obtaining a Divinity. To my surprise, I discovered that I have very nearly obtained a Divinity related to Creation and, for fear of losing the opportunity, I have decided to probe the depths of the Dungeon. After I come up with a solution in regards to my promise about slaying the One-Eyed Black Dragon, I intend to venture forth into Tartarus until I have completely conquered it. If I go all out, there are very few things that would prevent me from reaching the lowest Floor in my current state…”

Rather surprisingly, at least from Vahn’s perspective, none of the goddesses within the room showed even a hint of surprise after the revelation that he had nearly reached godhood. From their perspective, he had always been closer than most and, if anything, Vahn’s words actually proved to validate what they already ‘knew’. As for everyone else within the room, with a few exceptions, they had almost grown desensitized to the presence of gods after living alongside several for such an extended period of time. Thus, instead of making a big deal out of what should have been a monumental event, Hestia showed a genuinely happy smile as she brought her hands together and said, “Congratulations, Vahn!”

Following Hestia’s congratulations, the room entered into a relatively festive state where everyone congratulated Vahn for the progress he had made. The only real exception amongst them, though she also gave him a fair amount of praise, was Jeanne. When Vahn had revealed that he had nearly reached godhood, she felt as if a hammer had struck both her heart and mind. After all, it had been the goal of Legend for nearly a thousand years to produce a mortal that was capable of becoming a god and, much like Helen, Jeanne had believed it was nearly impossible without ‘certain’ developments. Now that Vahn had confidently declared he was nearing godhood, Jeanne couldn’t help but think about Helen and wondered how her long-time friend would react when she heard the ‘good’ news…

For the rest of the afternoon, after allowing the children to invade the dining room, everyone celebrated Vahn’s coming ascension while discussion about their own potential ascension became one of the hottest topics. Everyone was talking about what kind of Divinity they would obtain in the future while the goddesses within the group provided counsel and insight into what they should expect if they truly walk down such a path. Other than that, the most popular conversation was the Dungeon itself as Fenrir, Ais, Tiona, Haruhime, Lili, Tina, Shizune, and many of the other girls, kept offering to accompany Vahn on his journey into the heart of the Dungeon.

Though he would have accepted under normal circumstances, Vahn had to refuse them this time around since the pace he would be moving at wasn’t something they would be able to keep up with. There were also enemies in the lower Floors that even Ais may not be able to defeat while the most troublesome existence would be the One-Eyed Black Dragon itself. Vahn’s instincts told him that she would be following him around for a bit as, every time he entered the 60th Floor to make sure Enyo’s seal wasn’t damaged, he could ‘feel’ an intent lingering around him. Her skills and abilities were very similar to his Qinglong transformation, meaning the One-Eyed Black Dragon had a high affinity with Space and, as a result, Time Laws. If she was a little smarter, Vahn felt that the One-Eyed Black Dragon would be one of the most terrifying enemies anyone could ever possibly face. Fortunately, she seemed closer to Kali in personality and, for better or worse, didn’t seem too keen on the idea of spending much time and effort thinking about things…

Deterred from following along at his side, many of the girls in the ‘combat’ group ended up gathering at the side to discuss something in private while three particular ‘women’ weren’t so easily pacified. Terra was very aware of the existence of the One-Eyed Black Dragon and, knowing that it sought her Master, she suddenly felt that protecting the Manor was no longer her highest priority. Though she was a pacifist by nature, knowing that another True Dragon was trying to encroach upon her ‘territory’, Terra, with a dangerous glimmer in her eyes, professed, “You know, Master, I would really like to meet this One-Eyed Black Dragon~.”

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Standing at Terra’s side were Fenrir and, though she would never be allowed to accompany him in her current state, Alexa. The former was adamant about following him, regardless of how dangerous it was for her safety, while the latter would be in a very different kind of danger if she tried to accompany him. Vahn knew he would have to rely on his Qinglong form at times and, with Alexa present, that would either be impossible or outright problematic. She had barely recovered from the last incident and, regardless of how strong she was becoming, Vahn didn’t want to trigger her instincts a second time, especially so soon.

With that thought in mind, Vahn proffered an apologetic smile as he stroked Alexa’s emerald green hair and said, “Please stay here and be a good girl, Alexa. If your mother ends up following after me, I’ll need someone to look after Spero Village while we are away…” In response to this, Alexa showed a slight pout but still nodded her head in agreement, saying, “Okay, Papa…but you have to promise to go flying with me every morning, okay…?” Though she couldn’t get what she wanted, Alexa knew she could at least get ‘something’ out of the situation, as her Papa was weakest when he was trying to make up for something.

Vahn knew of his daughter’s scheme but didn’t mind it too much as he ruffled her hair a bit roughly and said, “Sure, that sounds very pleasant…” in a gentle tone of voice. This was enough to get Alexa to obediently stay back at the Manor but, contrasting her, Fenrir was not so easily swayed. Vahn could only smile wryly towards the scarlet-eyed Vanargandr before finally releasing a sigh that was soon followed by a grateful smile as he nodded his head and said, “Let’s go together, then…” These words immediately caused Fenrir’s ears to perk up in a way Vahn hadn’t seen in what felt like years as she happily threw herself into his embrace while exclaiming, “Yes, Fenrir will follow Master~!”

Fenrir’s outburst had caught the attention of the other girls but, without making a big deal out of things, they simply gave her somewhat envious smiles before returning to their conversation. This only left Terra for Vahn to deal with but, with Yggy protecting the Manor, Vahn didn’t have any real grounds to deny her following along with him. Since it didn’t seem like she would back out without at least meeting with the One-Eyed Black Dragon, Vahn eventually wavered under her persistently smiling gaze before nodding his head in approval. This caused Terra to produce an admittedly adorable fist pump as her wings fluttered about happily in response to her Master’s assent.

Vahn’s decision to allow Fenrir and Terra to follow him was largely due to the fact that, if something did happen, he could always return them to the surface with Unit Management in an instant. Since he didn’t actually want to be alone with the One-Eyed Black Dragon, Vahn felt relieved knowing that he would have the company of his two most trusted subordinates. Though Terra and the One-Eyed Black Dragon would undoubtedly butt heads with each other, Vahn was a little interested to see the latter would respond to the presence of a True Dragon that could rival her main body in strength. When she learned how ‘young’ Terra was, Vahn suspected it might become much easier to get the One-Eyed Black Dragon to behave in the future…

It was when he was thinking about such things, all while spoon-feeding his adorable son, Macht, that Jeanne had decided to interrupt his train of thought. While everyone was focused on the meal and having a good time, she had been relatively silent throughout the afternoon, even when ‘pestered’ by Loki and Syr. Now, as if she was unable to hold herself back any longer, Jeanne bowed low enough that her head nearly slammed into the table as she interrupted every ongoing conversation to ask, “My Lord, please allow me to accompany you into the Dungeon!”

Vahn was more than a little surprised by Jeanne sudden outburst, as she wasn’t the type to go against propriety and disturb others. He had expected her to speak with him privately later in the evening so, seeing her make a scene like this, Vahn was a little taken aback by the situation. This didn’t last for long, however, as Vahn quickly understood the most likely reason for why Jeanne wanted to accompany him. She undoubtedly knew about the discussion between him and Helen and, as the latter likely would refuse any offer to venture into the Dungeon’s depths, Jeanne likely wanted to discover what connection, if any, her best friend had to both Tartarus and Nuwa. Though there was also a chance that she simply wanted to ‘protect’ him, Vahn figured he could find out Jeanne’s true motives later so, without putting too much thought into it, he simply smiled and said, “Very well, Jeanne. I will allow you to accompany me…”

Seemingly unprepared for an affirmative response, Jeanne raised her head with slight desperation flashing across her eyes as she exclaimed, “Please, my Lord, I…” It was only halfway through her words that Jeanne realized Vahn hadn’t refused her offer, causing her fair skin to gain a ruddy hue as everyone gathered at the large table looked towards her with a mixture of emotions, the most predominant of which was amusement. Even some of the children laughed at Jeanne’s expense, causing her to fluster slightly before she inevitably excused herself from the dining room after giving a polite bow.

Vahn followed Jeanne’s back with his eyes before turning his attention to the various gazes that had shifted towards him in the aftermath of Jeanne’s outburst. Many of these gazes came from the girls he had denied the opportunity to accompany him but there wasn’t much he could do about it as, compared to Jeanne, the risk to their life was simply too high. Even in his current state, Vahn didn’t feel as if he would be able to leave a mark on Jeanne’s seemingly indestructible body so it wasn’t incorrect to say that her Innates had nearly pushed her into the range of Tier 4 as well. However, as could be seen with existences like Yggy, even being near the ‘peak’ of Tier 3 meant you were still extremely far from actually reaching Tier 4. If Vahn had to make a comparison, it was as if he had currently expanded to form a small lake while Jeanne was still around the size of a large pond. As for Yggy, it wasn’t wrong to compare her to a vast ocean as, even without having a Divinity of her own just yet, she had already broken into the realm of ‘infinity’ with her ability to produce limitless energy…

Realizing he still had a long way to go, Vahn spooned up another spoonful of liquidized baby food before absentmindedly placing it into his own mouth. This earned him a ‘devastated’ expression from Macht who, prior to his Papa stealing his food, was looking forward to another mouthful of the delicious sustenance. Vahn realized his mistake just as the young Chienthrope was on the verge of tears, quickly pacifying the young toddler before the waterworks could officially begin…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘If only real life had experience bars…’,’Terra’s Yandere is leaking out…’,’Poor Macht, betrayed by his own Papa…!’)

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