Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 595
Milan and Hestia had watched Tina cause another 'accident' and gave each other incredulous looks before pulling Tina off of Vahn since she didn't seem 'capable' of doing it herself at present. Tina had been so focused on the pain coming from her tail that she didn't even realize the situation she ended up in before two pairs of arms lifted her up. Opening her eyes in confusion, Tina looked in front of her and saw Vahn laying back with his legs slightly parted and his sleeping dragon clearly visible through the slightly opaque water. Realizing what had happened, Tina blushed fiercely and pulled her up her legs, allowing Milan to hold up her body as Tina tried to shrink into the smallest shape possible. From Vahn's perspective, however, he saw Tina coiling up with her thin chestnut brown hair the only thing protecting her 'dignity' from being visible.
Turning his head to the side, Vahn explained, "Tina's [Luck] Development Ability has awakened on its own and it's already at the B-Rank..." so that Hestia and Milan would understand the situation. Both girls' eyes opened wide because most skills were only at I-Rank when they were first unlocked, with a few exceptions for those that study blacksmithing and mixing before awakening the actual Development Ability for them. However, even they would usually be around G-Rank with only a few exceptional blacksmiths being marginally higher. It was already incredibly rare to awaken Development Abilities without leveling up so the fact that Tina's was already at B-Rank was a very significant revelation.
Shaking his head, Vahn clarified, "[Luck] seems to be unique in that it can degrade depending on various factors, unlike how other Development Abilities function. As for its effects, they are hard to quantify since it is related to luck, fate, and other somewhat abstract concepts..." Even though there were gods and goddesses with Divinities related to luck, it was one of the more abstract Divinities and there were examples of gods with luck Divinities experiencing great misfortunes. Fortune was a very 'fickle' thing as well, meaning you could experience great windfalls in one moment only to lose it all in the next. The important thing was to not try and 'exploit' luck if you wanted it to favor your, as intentionally trying to manipulate fate without putting in a real effort often resulted in tragedy.
With Vahn's explanation, Hestia and Milan could understand why Tina's [Luck] was already so high, even though she had just awakened it. Vahn had continued to avert his eyes until this point and said, "Milan, turn your daughter around or put her down..." since Milan was still holding her up as if she were presenting her to him. Realizing what Vahn had said, Milan's eyes opened and she immediately turned around with a blush touching her cheeks when she thought about the angle Vahn was at while she was holding up Tina's body. This was probably another proponent of Tina's [Luck] and it seemed to be very 'dangerous' since it caused other people to behave strangely without them even noticing it...
After things settled down, Vahn had everyone get dressed so they could talk more comfortably and explained several things Tina needed to keep in mind if she wanted to develop her [Luck] further. As long as she didn't try to exploit it, or become reliant on its existence, good things were bound to happen so she just needed to keep working hard without thinking about the ability at all. Knowing about it made it much harder to raise, but Tina was already a hardworking and sensible girl so Vahn was confident she would be able to even master it one day. It already had a noticeable influence on her life, and the lives of those around her, so Vahn was very interested to see how it would develop in the future. He just needed to keep his guard up until she reached adulthood and things 'should' be fine...
Tina listened patient to Vahn's explanation from a 'safe' distance with her mother holding her from behind as if anchoring her to the spot. She realized that many of the 'accidents' that had been happening recently were events that had been set in motion as a result of her [Luck]. Though they were all very embarrassing events, Tina knew they could easily be considered great 'fortunes' if she changed her perspective a bit. It was a fact that she often thought about things after the fact and was 'grateful' they had happened, even if it caused her to feel giddy and embarrassed. Now that she knew the only thing she needed to do to experience more 'exciting' events was work hard, Tina was shivering slightly in anticipation.
Deciding he needed to relax a bit, Vahn went to his workshop and took a nap instead of eating lunch with the others. However, shortly after he laid down against the sofa, Vahn sensed the arrival of a presence coming from the opposite end of his workshop. Sitting up, Vahn smiled as Hephaestus walked out of the secret passageway and looked toward him with her gentle and loving expression on her face. Before he could ask why she had come to his workshop, Hephaestus started walking over and said, "I got a message on the network saying you were probably troubled so I came to comfort you..."
Vahn felt a great deal of warmth from Hephaestus presence, especially when she sat down on the sofa next to him. Pulling out some extra pillows to support her back, Vahn propped Hephaestus up and then happily used her lap as a pillow while stroking her belly. She was already twenty-one weeks pregnant at this point and, even though her stomach was very smooth, it had a beautiful rotund curve and felt hot to the touch. Since she was pregnant with twins, Hephaestus' belly had swelled up a bit more than normal and Vahn could sense a powerful vitality coming from his daughters as both of their hearts beat with rhythmic thumps. As if she knew he was there, Ina moved around in Hephaestus' stomach and 'kicked' against it allowing Vahn to see the strange sight of her belly visibly moving.
Seeing this movement made Vahn's heart tremble at the realization that his children were getting progressively closer to being born, making him a father in the truest sense of the word. Hephaestus could feel his anxiety and the great love he had within his heart, causing her own to melt as she lovingly stroked Vahn's hair with her hand. Being pregnant had actually been more difficult than she expected but Hephaestus started to feel that the pains associated were a 'blessing'. She had already discussed this with both Loki and Freya, but being pregnant seemed to repress their Divinities a bit and she had felt less compelled to forge recently. Since she had been worried about injuring her daughters, Hephaestus was very grateful for this as it meant she wouldn't have to suffer from her compulsions even if she took a break from forging...
For the better part of two hours, Vahn stroked Hephaestus' belly and channeled a very gentle flow of source energy into her womb, allowing their daughters to absorb it into their bodies. Though it wasn't as concentrated as Terra, Fafnir, and Fenrir, Vahn could sense subtle fluctuations of source energy coming from his children and knew the nourishment they received from his own energy would benefit them in the future. He didn't give them much, as he didn't want to influence their growth even further, but it was just enough to help them develop 'on time' so that Loki wasn't forced to wait for Hephaestus to give birth even longer. Hephaestus already knew what he was doing, as they had talked about it previously, so she just enjoyed his caress while returning one of her own as they both had happy smiles on their faces...
Eventually, Vahn sensed another presence coming towards them and softly uttered, "I can sense Riveria, she must be coming to help with the development of the belt..." Hephaestus nodded her head but didn't seem to be in a hurry as she continued to stroke his hair. Though she was okay with how things were developing, Hephaestus felt a great deal of ire towards the Elven Kingdom after the Alosrin fiasco and didn't appreciate how they treated both Vahn and the Alliance. She knew the union between Riveria and Vahn was going to happen for a very long time, as Loki had confided in her about Riveria's past from the outset. There was no way Vahn wouldn't eventually get involved with her since he was the type that threw himself into the troubles of other people in an effort to resolve them. It was one of the things she loved the most about him as the happiness she now had existed solely as a result of his nature.
Vahn was also in no hurry to part from Hephaestus but he knew things would be a little awkward if he ignored the presence of Riveria. She would probably show up and then excuse herself if they were still lazing about when she entered the workshop. Hephaestus began to laugh around the same time he was thinking this and said, "There were a few smaller projects I was wrapping up, so I'll see you later, Vahn..." Hephaestus began leaning forward so Vahn lifted up his body to accept her kiss so that she wouldn't have to bend down and put pressure on her stomach. It was relatively tame but both of them could feel the love they had for each other, something that persisted long after they parted...something that Vahn believed would persist for all of eternity if he had anything to say about it.
Riveria showed up shortly after Hephaestus had left but spent several minutes just standing outside his workshop, clearly hesitant about coming inside. Vahn just shook his head and released a small sigh because it was situations like this that usually made Riveria feel embarrassed, even though he didn't do anything to trigger it. She would eventually remember that he could sense her presence and, because she had been standing outside for a while, she would inevitably get flustered before giving him a look of 'blame' if he tried to tease her about it. As expected, Riveria's aura eventually flared up with a variety of different colors before she eventually calmed down and entered his workshop.
Vahn had already moved over to his table and started working while he waited for her to enter, already working on the basic template and 'pretending' to have been so focused on his work that he didn't notice her. Turning his head to face her, Vahn's eyes opened slightly wider and he said, "Welcome to my workshop, Riveria." with a smile on his face. Riveria seemed to be relieved at first before she furrowed her brows slightly and asked, "How long have you known I was standing outside...?" Knowing that he wouldn't really be able to lie to her, Vahn gave a wry smile and said, "For around ten minutes..." while turning back to his work as if it didn't really bother him.
Realizing that Vahn was once again trying to cover for her, Riveria felt a bit ashamed and any blame she felt toward him had dissipated at the same moment as he showed her a wry and apologetic look. She was the one that waited outside like an 'idiot' for so long and he had tried to be considerate of her, only for she herself to break the convenient 'illusion' he had created for her. Riveria was realizing more and more how Vahn catered to her needs and it made her feel very guilty as she walked over to his side. Though she felt very anxious about it, Riveria stood very close to Vahn and said, "Thank you for your consideration, Vahn..." before kissing him on the cheek very briefly.
Surprised by Riveria's unexpectedly 'forward' behavior, Vahn gave her a questioning look but didn't hide the pleasantly surprised smile on his face. Riveria flushed a little and averted her eyes, holding her arm in a somewhat insecure manner as she said, "We're going to be married soon, so a little intimacy is fine...after all, we're the only ones here right now..." Though it almost sounded like an 'invitation', Vahn knew that Riveria had just chosen her words poorly and just gave her a grateful look before drawing her attention to the diagram before she realized the 'flaw' in her word choice. He already had all the materials present and he would actually be able to finish it in a single afternoon if he worked hard, which was a given considering the importance of the item he was making.
Since Riveria probably didn't understand how long the process would take, Vahn decided to explain the process so she could prepare herself mentally. In a firm and steady tone, which Vahn often used when 'acting' professionally, he said, "The prototype is meant to be fully functional from the outset, but there may be some changes required depending on how comfortable it is to wear for extended periods. Based on my observations of Ryuu, I can tell it isn't necessary to wear the belt at all points during pregnancy, but it would be beneficial to wear it for a few hours a day to prevent having the vital energy of the mothers be drained by the developing fetus. I've already prepared all the materials and it'll only take around two hours to assemble, so please let me know if there are any issues and I'll take care of them as I work..."
Hearing Vahn's explanation, Riveria became somewhat pale for a brief moment before returning to normal, without even a blush on her face. She knew they were doing something very 'serious' right now and she was trying to treat it from the perspective of a scholar. Nodding her head, Riveria said, "I understand, Vahn, I'll let you know how comfortable it is to wear. To make sure there aren't any issues, I may wear it during my entire pregnancy and we can alter the design based on how functional it is..." At this point, though she willed herself to remain calm, Riveria flustered slightly since she was talking about her own pregnancy, something that would become a reality within a week's time.
Pretending to not notice her flaring pink, yellow, and purple aura, Vahn nodded his head and said, "The most important part will be the 'buckle' as it needs to almost perfectly overlay with the navel. As you can see, I decided to go with a maternity band like what the other girls wear, as it seems like the most practical basis to work from for long-term use. Though there are alternatives to consider for mass production, I'll be using Terra's feathers, blood, and a few other precious materials for the prototype...I want to make sure everything works perfectly so there aren't any problems during your pregnancy." Vahn had a very serious look on his face as he said this, making it difficult for Riveria to feel anything but 'positive' emotions for the earnest boy standing before her.
Vahn had purchased a much higher quality maternity band through the system shop since there were some that even reached more than a billion OP, which wasn't that surprising considering how important children were. If it was in a higher tier world, Vahn could easily imagine powerful gods creating a variety of items to protect their wives and ensure there aren't any issues during pregnancy. Not every record had the same restrictions as the those within Danmachi and Vahn knew it wasn't that abnormal for gods to have children. The one he actually purchased only cost 70,000OP and seemed to be made of a synthetic material he had never seen before, even though it was still simply called [Maternity Band].
Rank: B (Magic)
Abilities: Maternal Guardian(B), Shaping(B), Insulated(B)
A specialized maternity band that was created to guarantee no harm would befall the child during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the defensive capabilities of the mother increase greatly and the band becomes indestructible as long as there is enough energy to sustain the barrier. Take caution, as this band will sap the energy of the mother, including vital energy, if they truly desire to protect their child.
The [Maternity Band] alone was already an incredible item, causing Vahn to purchase one for each of the pregnant women as a gift. As for Riveria's he had to modify it a bit but hoped to keep the majority of the effects in the final product. One of his abilities as a [Master Smith] allowed him to reforge and modify existing items so, as long as he didn't compromise the important structures within the band itself, there shouldn't be any problems. After giving her the pareo to wrap around her waist, Vahn had Riveria remove her gown to reveal a completely different set of swimwear than the set he had given her previously. He realized she must have gone and purchased some new clothing while everyone else was in the Dungeon, which made sense considering she would probably be too embarrassed to ask him for a bunch of clothes.
To make sure it was comfortable, Vahn had Riveria try on the [Maternity Band] to get her opinion before he started modifying it. She was doing her best to treat the matter seriously and gave her honest opinion about the band, claiming it was very warm and comfortably tight without being restrictive. Since her abdomen was still tender, these relatively simple words were actually very high praise for the [Maternity Band] itself. Though most of the discomfort from the formation had faded after she soaked in Terra's wellspring, the 'tenderness' would continue for days as her body adapted to the focused absorption of natural energy. When the band was finished, this process would accelerate even further and Vahn also speculated that Riveria would enter an 'active' state once the gathered energy reached a critical level. Based on her capacity, it would take around two weeks for things to get to that point but Vahn wouldn't know for certain until the band was actually finished and functional...
Since he didn't want to compromise the structure of the original band that much, Vahn turned it inside out and carved a complex formation on the inside of the fabric using Terra's blood. This would allow the energy to gather and be channeled toward the core, which was a medallion that Vahn had made out of organic materials, almost all gathered from Terra's body. The base was comprised of one of her scales, from when she was in dragon form, and he had taken some of her smaller and more delicate feathers before soaking them in a solution to allow the rachis, the stems of the feather, to become malleable. He shaped them into a three-pointed loop before cutting two feathers in half and creating a circle and embedding them into Terra's scale, which had been carved to fit the feathers perfectly. To prevent them from falling out later, Vahn applied a very thin layer of 'glue' that he had made from a coagulated form of Terra's blood mixed with bonemeal harvested from other dragons.
By the time he was finished, slightly more than two hours had passed and Vahn ended up with a neutral-green [Maternity Band] that was adorned with a complex arrangement of emerald green feathers and golden leaves that he had decided to add to enhance the aesthetic appeal. Riveria was very suited to the color gold, especially with her laurel belt that was still seated firmly around her thin waist. She may have forgotten about it while watching him, but Vahn had been 'very aware' of the fact that Riveria had spent the entire two hours just watching him intently while wearing nothing but a bikini with a pareo. The top she had chosen for herself was actually somewhat more revealing than the one he had given her and Vahn noticed it also pushed up her breasts a bit. He would never really understand why girls, especially those with an almost unbelievable beauty, worried about their secondary sex traits so much...
Once he was finished, Vahn checked it work again to make sure there weren't any problems in the basic structure that had appeared while he was working on other parts. Confirming that everything was in place, Vahn gave the band back to Riveria and had her wear it once again. This time, she was far more careful than previously so Vahn had to help her wear it as Riveria was too afraid to damage the very important piece of equipment. Terra's feather actually took Adamantine clippers just to snip, so Vahn wasn't really worried they would break at all, not that such things could easily alleviate Riveria's worries given the significance of the band. With it firmly hugging her stomach, Riveria nodded and said, "It is still very comfortable...I can feel a strange energy gathering around it, though the connection is unstable."
Vahn smiled and explained, "Since it isn't complete, the effects would be a little lackluster. We just need to come up with a name and the formation will activate in full...be prepared, though, as the sudden influx of natural energy might be a little stimulating if you're caught off guard." Riveria clenched her teeth in response to his words and her fair white face was once again touched with a small amount of ruddy red. As for Vahn, he was trying to consider what name to use and once again realized that his naming sense was more than a little terrible. Riveria noticed his 'plight' and asked in a curious tone, "Can you not think of a name...?" Seeing Vahn thinking so hard over something 'small' reminded Riveria that he was still a young boy, causing a small smile to appear on her face.
With an awkward smile of his own, Vahn scratched the back of his head and said, "It's different than when I research names for my subordinates...I'm not really that good at coming up with things on the fly. Sorry, Riveria..." Hearing his explanation, Riveria released a small sigh without losing her smile and said, "How about we call it 'Sage Aldrnari's Blessing' in honor of its creator. After all, if not for your efforts, this problem may have followed the Elves all the way till our destruction..." Realizing this, Riveria hardened her heart even more and determined that she 'needed' to do her best to return to Vahn just a portion of what she had received from him. She had to stop letting her own inhibitions get in the way or she wouldn't have the face to hold her head up high in the future.
Since he couldn't come up with anything better at the moment, Vahn decided that the band would be called [Sage Aldrnari's Blessing], even though it was a bit awkward. He understood why she would want to name it such a thing, as it would allow them to propagate the idea that it was his innovation far into the future. Every time an Elf made use of the band, they would be reminded of him and Vahn suspected his own karma would increase as a result. He was effectively changing the destiny of an entire species so it wouldn't be a surprise to Vahn if, by the time he was moving on to a new record, he accumulated several million karma points, most of which he wanted to be 'positive'. Though he couldn't use it much right now, Vahn knew he would be able to find plenty of uses for it in the future as it was one of the most important 'resources' available to him in higher tiered records, at least according to Sis...
[Sage Aldrnari's Blessing] <