Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 1175
Though there was a considerable amount of things he would need to keep in mind, much of what Olivia brought up actually pertained to what Luvia would need to deal with. Vahn knew this was her way of elevating Luvia's status in his mind but, as it would ultimately be up to her to deal with most of the political and business aspects of their life, he couldn't really blame her for doing so. His most important duty was similar to what it had been in his previous life, serving as the 'face' of the Empire. Though he had the freedom to make decisions on his own, it would be up to others to implement them so, while Vahn sat upon his Throne, representing inviolable authority, it would people like Luvia and his allies who carried out his will...
The most important thing Vahn had to consider, at least until his Empire was an established world power, was the image he presented to the more distinguished Magus families. There would always be those who, regardless of the facts, would try to elevate their own status while proactively trying to degrade his. If he presented himself in high society, it was a given that families like the Barthomeloi, Trambelio, and Valualeta families would try to hold their heads up high around him. There was even a good chance they would try to demean his status, claiming he is not an Aristocrat himself for no other reason than he wasn't a part of their established hierarchy.
When dealing with such people, Vahn needed to appear implacable, completely unaffected by their words and actions. If he carried himself with more dignity than they presented, never bending the knee to any pressure, it would eventually drive them to make mistakes, resulting in them lashing out and using forceful means to get their way. When that happened, Vahn needed only to use their own attack as a justification to deal with them directly. Though some would lambast him if he went too far, that ultimately served no purpose if there was evidence he only took action in response to their provocation. Dignity and pride were extremely important in the Magus community so, regardless of what others would say against him, Vahn needed only point out the fact he took the high road until they attacked him...
Though Vahn had already been 'taught' these things by Riveria and Loki in the past, Vahn humored Olivia by listening attentively to her advice. There was always a chance things would be different, as this was a completely different Record, but it seemed that Nobility and Aristocratic society was the same in various Records. Since these were worlds that had originally been created by Authors, given form by the dreams of an incalculable number of people, Vahn wasn't too surprised there were some similarities.
Even the Gods were similar to the ones in Danmachi, at least going by the names that had been recorded in History. Some even had similar natures and personalities, such as Zeus, while others were so far removed from his expectations that Vahn found it rather hard to believe. The best example of this was Hephaestus who, in Vahn's heart and mind, was a beautiful and powerful woman while, here in the Nasuverse, Hephaestus was a male God who was malformed and made lame by Zeus' torture and Hera throwing him from Mt. Olympus...
After the more 'important' matters were discussed, the conversation took a rapid turn when Olivia suddenly asked, "So, when can I expect my great-grandchildren? Also, are you planning to hold an official wedding ceremony or do you intend to wait until this matter with Angra Mainyu is brought to an end...?" This was a subject Luvia seemed to anticipate, resulting in her releasing a cheerful laugh before answering, "Due to the environment and training methods employed back in Avalon, it seems our future generations will be far more powerful than those preceding it. Though the matter of succession will need to be sorted out, I'm quite looking forward to having a few children running around the castle~."
With Luvia now happily clinging to his arm, Vahn couldn't help shaking his head, even though there was a discernible smile on his face. He was quite fond of children, especially if they were his own, so it wasn't an exaggeration to say he looked forward to the castle being more lively in the future. With that in mind, he explained, "Due to the time dilation within Avalon, there is no particular rush to have children. If we rushed things now, there is a chance your great-grandchildren would be in their fifties by the time Angra Mainyua emerged." As they had yet to discuss Avalon's projection, Vahn wanted to bring the matter to Olivia's attention to gauge her reaction.
As expected, Olivia was a little surprised by Vahn's words as even Luvia's mother, her daughter, was only 51 years old. She was actually looking forward to seeing her great-grandchildren grow up, as watching over the young Luvia comprised some of her most precious memories. When she imagined them suddenly becoming adults in only 2~3 years, it caused her brows to furrow considerably. Even Luvia had a complicated expression on her face, even though she knew Vahn had the means to stop, or even reverse, aging. This was because, as she wouldn't be back in Avalon all that often, there was a chance her children could even grow older than she was in a remarkably short period of time...
Seeing the reaction of the two women, Vahn had an amused smile on his face, glossing over the matter for the time being as he explained, "Succession isn't something that we need to worry about as, regardless of their age or status as my children, only the most suitable candidate would be given the Throne. With me being immortal, there isn't a pressing need to arrange my replacement and, while I won't deny it is important to layout proper procedure for transferring the Throne to another, I would never grant power to someone who hadn't earned it. While I am Emperor, I will not allow for something like factions to form within the Imperial Family, nor will I tolerate anyone trying to seize power through infighting..."
Knowing the future Vahn envisioned, Luvia wasn't all that surprised by his words as, if Da Vinci had her way, there was a real chance the Imperial Family would be relegated to the role of 'Guardian of the Empire' while the 'Mother System' governed the people. So long as the system wasn't corrupted, it would certainly be better than having people in charge. The biggest issue was, with the passage of time, there would undoubtedly be factions forming within the Imperial Family, regardless of Vahn's intentions.
There would be people all over the world who, despite the convenience of Da Vinci's system, would greedily seek more power for themselves. This was especially the case in a world where Magecraft had been made common as, given enough time, powerhouses would begin to arise within the general populace who, thinking themselves 'superior' to others, would try to seize power in their communities before extending their influence to other regions. There would undoubtedly be some who were more politically affluent than others, devaluing the system Da Vinci wanted to put in place and creating dissidence that would be hard, if not impossible, to prevent. The only means of doing so would be through the use of force which, in the end, would cause people to 'doubt' the system that had literally been developed to promote their individuality and protect them...
For a brief moment, Olivia and Luvia exchanged glances, the latter giving her Grandmother a simple smile that seemed to communicate a great deal. After this, Olivia gave a slightly incredulous sigh, shaking her head before saying, "It is very apparent that our worlds have a number of differences...as I cannot predict the future, I will trust in the path you have decided upon, Vahn. It is enough for me to know you will protect my Granddaughter and Great Grandchildren with all your might..." Though she knew an 'idealist' like Vahn could be very dangerous, especially when they had power, he gave off the impression of a genuine and almost incorruptible person. Even if things went south, he would undoubtedly work hard to 'fix' things so, as long as they made the proper arrangements, it wouldn't be difficult to secure their own position in the future he envisioned.
Understanding that actions spoke far louder than words, Vahn just nodded politely in response to Olivia's words without trying to convince her his method was correct. Then, changing the tempo of the conversation, Vahn doubled back a bit and explained, "Regarding the matter of mine and Luvia's children...well, it would be best if they experienced accelerated growth within the Projection, at least until they were capable of protecting themselves properly. I can arrange for a residence to be built for the Edelfelt family on the island and, as direct relatives of Luvia, you will obviously be allowed to enter the Projection. As for things like aging...well, I have the means to extend your life for hundreds of years with the only side effect being that you would be able to grow even stronger..."
As 'strength' was one of the founding principles that the Edelfelt family lived by, Olivia couldn't help perking up a bit in response to Vahn's words. Once again, she looked toward Luvia for confirmation, however, causing Vahn to squint slightly. This wasn't missed by Olivia so, after seeing Luvia nod her head, she adopted a slightly apologetic look before saying, "You'll have to excuse my behavior...you do not live to my age in this world without a bit of skepticism and caution. Even if you are older than me, Your Majesty, I'm certain you can understand how drastically different our situations are. I'll do my best not to unnecessarily offend you in the future, but please forgive me for deferring to my Granddaughter as I have come to trust her judgment over the years..."
Though she knew he was playing him a bit, Vahn knew there wasn't much sense in trying to put pressure on Olivia over such a small matter. Instead, he just let the matter pass before explaining his understanding of Magic and the Laws that governed the world. To her credit, Olivia was attentive, even asking a few questions in an effort to better understand what he was trying to convey. She was very interested in the existence of the Familia Crest as, in more ways than one, it seemed to function in the same way as a Magic Crest. Though their uses were actually fundamentally different from each other, Olivia felt they were complementary systems that would make future generations intrinsically more powerful.
Even before Vahn had finished explaining, she was already thinking about how to get the Clock Tower to grant them access to the Spiritual Tomb in order to ascertain whether or not the Familia Crest functioned in the way Vahn had explained. If that were the case, getting other families on their side would be much easier as the promise of power was a very potent motivator for most Magus families. Just the fact that Vahn was able to summon Heroes from throughout History already made him one of the most coveted individuals to befriend as, if you played your cards right, it was possible to get the aid of powerful figures throughout history, some of which could fundamentally change the balance of power in the modern world...
After passing a few hours in discussion, a light knock could be heard at the door, bringing a prompt end to things when Olivia rose to her feet, remarking, "It seems lunch has been prepared. If you'll join me, Your Majesty, our chefs have prepared a small feast for you to partake before your business at the Clock Tower requires your attention. If things go well this afternoon, a celebratory feast with our allies has been arranged to conclude the evening. Will you be attending...?" Though it actually didn't require Vahn's presence, as the alliance was more so between the Edelfelt family and other Aristocratic families, it was better that Vahn begins making public appearances sooner, rather than later.
While rising to his feet alongside Luvia, Vahn adopted a polite smile and, understanding the hidden meaning in Olivia's words, answered, "It would be better to be forthright about such things to avoid potential issues in the future. The matters within the Imperial Family are already complex enough as they are. In order to avoid exacerbating things, announcing mine and Luvia's engagement would be for the best." Though it would eventually come to light that there were multiple Empresses, causing a few people to try their luck, Vahn already made an exception regarding Olga. He wasn't trying to become the 'glue' that held together a bunch of other Aristocratic families as it would only increase the chance of corruption and infighting in the future.
At this point, Vahn's 'goal' within the Nasuverse was less about traversing multiple timelines as it was about cementing himself in the current timeline and increasing his power in conjunction with the world itself. It was, in more ways than one, an opportunity for him to practice governing an Empire that, given enough time, would eventually spread throughout the galaxy. Since Akasha and her Superiors dealt with expanses of time so vast they could hardly be comprehended, it wasn't likely that they would be seeking 'immediate' results. So long as he managed to finish his 'mission' in the next series of 'cycles', the odds of them intervening without reason were infinitesimally small. They would instead continue to observe him and, based on his interactions with Akasha, determine if there was any need to 'stimulate' the experiment further.
Hearing Vahn's response, Olivia gave an approving nod while Luvia, excited by the idea of lording her future position over a few key individuals, began giggling cheerfully while clinging to his arm. She had already made some 'concessions' in regards to Rin, Olga, and the women preceding her so, unless there were significant benefits to be gained, there was no way she would allow others to stake a claim. It was clear that Vahn himself would need to be reined in a bit but, as this was an impossible task for her alone, Luvia would need to ally herself with the current women he was intimate with. She harbored no illusions about being 'enough' to deal with Vahn on her own...
Upon reaching the dining room, complete with an extravagant table filled from end-to-end with expensive dishes, Vahn's smile turned wry as, without a hundred people to assist, there was no way he could finish all of this food expediently. Even with Gray and Artoria present, they would hardly be able to make a dent in the 'small feast' that Olivia had prepared. Then, as if to allay his concerns, she laughed in a mischevious manner before saying, "Worry not, Your Majesty, as none of this food shall be left to spoil. Whenever we host a banquet, we always allow the staff to eat untouched foods while anything that can be packaged neatly will be given to various charities and food kitchens within the City. You need only keep in mind not to touch anything you do not intend to eat. Everything else will be taken care of properly by our staff~."
Though he wanted to comment about the staff eating alongside them, to prevent anything from going to waste, Vahn understood this would be a serious breach of etiquette. As he needed to start paying attention to such things, he gave an understanding nod in response to Olivia's words before moving to the 'guest' seat near the head of the table. It would not have been improper for him to sit at the very end, as his status was the highest in the room, but Vahn left that particular seat to Olivia as the Matriarch of the Edelfelt family. She might not be his senior, as he was nearly sixty years older, but that would only matter when his age became common knowledge.
With everyone seated, including Artoria and Gray at Vahn's behest, they began enjoying a rather lively lunch together. Vahn asked what the two girls had been up to while they were away, leading Artoria to explain some of the security arrangements and important protocols that he would need to be aware of. Artoria took her duty very seriously and, if not for Vahn asking her to sit down and eat, she would have been perfectly content to stand with the other security personnel arranged around the room. As for Gray, she was just following Artoria's lead as, with her current mentality being more than a little 'clouded', her distant ancestor was the only baseline she had to work from.
Luvia was very aware of the 'change' in Gray but, considering the daze she had been in after her first time with Vahn, she imagined that Gray was experiencing something similar. When she and Vahn had disappeared for more than twenty hours, Luvia had been a little shaken as, even if they were not 'together' the entire time, the possibility still existed. Later, Luvia wanted to try and milk the details from Gray as, while the latter had always been rather shy and demure, her current behavior was like an obedient maiden who was completely smitten. When she wasn't responding to Vahn or Artoria, Gray even seemed to be a little troubled that others were speaking to her while, when Vahn's focus was on other people, she would fall silent as if waiting for him to address her again...
As Olivia hadn't known Gray personally before, her opinion of the two nearly-identical women was that they were extremely loyal to Vahn. Since she knew Artoria's identity, this improved her opinion of him considerably as, gaining the true loyalty of a King wasn't a simple feat. It meant that Artoria genuinely believed in the future he sought and, though she might not have been the 'best' of Kings, the legacy of 'King Arthur' would likely persist until the conclusion of recorded history. Knowing he had such a noble personage supporting him, Olivia felt less concerned about the future Vahn wanted to create as, with Luvia's 'intuition' having never failed, there was no reason his Empire would be the first exception...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Aristocrats of one world would never recognize those from another..unless, of course, there were benefits to be had xD...','Luvia needs to put her foot down...booty up?','Gray has fallen quite hard. Eternal Loyalty is scary (o,...,o)...')
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