Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 972
While waiting for the Denatus to conclude, Vahn found himself with little to do so, as was often the case in such situations, he spent the majority of his free time with his children and his frighteningly expansive harem. They would officially become his actual harem in the future, something that caused Vahn to feel rather peculiar since he wouldn't have even imagined being something like an Emperor in his past life. Stranger still was the fact that, amongst the girls he had surrounded himself with, there were both goddesses and mortals, each having their own unique qualities and quirks. As a result, Vahn often found himself in rather strange situations, such as how he was currently walking through the illusory forest in the center of the Manor while holding a leash...
Though he would often take Anubis on walks, it was rather rare that Vahn found himself wrangling a leash that belonged to Nanu. She was currently walking rather spiritedly with her tail waggling back and forward with incredible fervor, a happy smile affixed to her face. Seeing how happy she was, Vahn couldn't help but allow an affectionate smile to adorn his face, even though he still felt rather odd escorting any of his women in such a fashion. Still, so long as they took precautions to make sure none of the children would develop strange habits, Vahn didn't mind indulging any of the girls since it helped him deal with some of the guilt he had about keeping so many women at his side...
Along the way through the forest, Nanu's ears would constantly perk up at the slightest of sounds before she would turn in the direction of the noise with an excited look in her eyes. There were times when Vahn felt like she would chase after whatever had caught her attention but Nanu would never pull against the leash, always aware of the maximum range of movement she was allowed. It was ultimately his choice where they went and how fast their pace was, though Vahn often wandered without any particular destination in mind since he was often more focused on avoiding anyone else during such situations. There were times when Vana would, generally out of curiosity, try to follow along in secret but it wasn't difficult for Vahn to give her the slip, one of the many benefits of his domain and incredible perception.
After around twenty minutes had passed, Vahn and Nanu ended up near the rather large clearing where Yggy's main body was located. She had cleared out a bit of space for herself previously and there were now neatly arranged berry bushes and small orchards surrounding the periphery. This was where Vahn got many of the secondary ingredients that he would use to bake cookies and treats for the various children he would come across on his excursions in Orario. They were all highly nutritious and contained an extreme amount of natural and vital energies. Each of these ingredients would easily sell for a rather ridiculous amount on the market, not that Vahn intended to exploit Yggy for something so petty.
Before entering the clearing, Vahn loosened Nanu's leash, causing her ears to droop for a moment before she almost immediately recovered after Vahn affectionately rubbed her head. He then pulled out a small golden ball which quickly unfurled four golden wings that began to beat rapidly, causing a high pitched whine to resonate through the area. Nanu's pupils shrank as her ears and bushy tail became rigid, her entire body tense after seeing the small object Vahn had pulled out. She was very aware of its purpose and, as Vahn's hand moved around with the tiny ball, Nanu's eyes followed it without wavering in the slightest. This caused Vahn to release a light chuckle before he threw the small ball with a bit of force and said, "Nanu, fetch...!"
The moment the small golden ball left his hand, it seemingly vanished into thin air and, if not for the high pitched whine, most would have assumed it teleported away. The truth of the matter was that the small golden ball, an item Vahn had purchased through the shop called a [Golden Snitch], was simply moving at an incredibly high speed. Its raw speed was only that of an Adventurer around the peak of Level 4, but its Agility and the rate at which it could spontaneously change direction were something only Agility-oriented Level 6s would be able to emulate. This made it extremely difficult to catch and, without incredibly high perception or enhanced sense, it would be nearly impossible to even track the [Golden Snith] through normal means.
Nanu was currently around the peak of Level 5 so her base speed was much higher than the small golden ball that she had quickly set about capturing. However, she wasn't focused so much on speed as a result of her training and profession, making her a somewhat bad matchup for the tiny [Golden Snitch]. Fortunately, she had incredible eyesight, an extremely powerful nose, enhanced hearing, and all of the other benefits that came with being a Chienthrope [Master Smith]. As a result, Nanu was moving around like a blur, nimbly twisting her body as she bounced off trees and vaulted across any obstacles in her way as she determinedly chased after the [Golden Snitch].
Vahn watched Nanu's pursuit with an amused glimmer in his eyes as a shimmering mixture of gold and green light coalesced into the figure of Yggy. Instead of looking like a carbon copy of a young Ryuu, she now had light pink hair and, obviously emulating him, aquamarine green eyes. Vahn's expression softened when he saw her appear and, just as naturally as he would his actual children, picked up the tiny Yggy into his arms as he said, "Good morning, Yggy..." in a gentle tone. This earned him a happy chuckle from the young Spirit as she gave him a quick peck on the cheek and said, "Good morning, Papa~." in a chipper tone. She was always happiest whenever he would come to visit, especially if it was early in the morning when the Sun had just begun to crest over the horizon.
While waiting for Nanu to catch the [Golden Snitch], Vahn prepared a light breakfast with Yggy bringing him various ingredients, often by having the plants themselves carry them over in a rather fantastical display. She had the ability to manipulate nature to an extreme degree and, though the plants around her weren't sentient creatures, they acted as if they were when under Yggy's influence. When she was expanding the clearing to accommodate her personal garden, Vahn had watched as Yggy literally commanded the trees to uproot themselves and move off to the side before sinking their roots back into the ground. It was a strangely disconcerting yet awe-inspiring sight, something that had left a deep impression on Vahn since he was always excited to witness new and interesting things.
In the midst of cutting a few fruits into the shape of various animals, Nanu came running over with both hands tightly clasped in front of her chest. She was breathing heavily and there was a light layer of sweat covering her olive-brown skin as she smiled happily and presented her catch with a prideful expression on her face, exclaiming, "Master, I caught it...!" Within the palm of her hands was a pacified [Golden Snitch] that was beating its wings rather slowly, seemingly just as exhausted as Nanu, even though it didn't actually have anything like stamina. Vahn picked it up with his thumb and index finger while stroking the fringe of Nanu's hair, digging his fingers in a little roughly, just how most Chienthropes liked it.
Nanu's tail began to waggle furiously as a light cooing escaped from her lips, not even remotely feeling embarrassed at the display. This caused Vahn to smile while Yggy giggled at the side, still peeling away the skin from a few golden apples with the ease that others would peel something like a banana. If you had adequately high perception and could sense mana, it was possible to see Yggy's extreme degree of control as she cut through just enough of the peel to create a 'petal' before separating the skin from the peel almost perfectly. Her control had already reached a point where she could even outperform Terra, even though the latter was still far more capable as a Mage, at least for the time being.
Vahn always felt humbled by how skillful Yggy was, as his own control always seemed incredibly lacking in comparison. Though he knew the reasons for this, Vahn was determined to get to the point where he would be able to manifest spells without wasting a large amount of his Source Energy unnecessarily. The simplest method was to use the energy in the atmosphere, much like how Mages of Eva's caliber would, but Vahn still had a ways to go before reaching that level. He had yet to even break into Tier 4, meaning the distance between him and the most powerful version of Eva was like comparing a droplet of rain to a large ocean. Though there were ways he could come out ahead, the benefit of knowing almost everything there was to know about Eva, it wouldn't be his own skill that allowed him to emerge victoriously against her. Since the Mage of the Beginning was far more powerful than even Eva, Vahn knew he wasn't even remotely prepared to face against the ancient entity that had birthed Magic in Eva's world...
Sensing the small 'shift' in her Master, Nanu focused less on the pleasant feeling coming from Vahn's palm as a concerned glint flashed across her rose-pink pupils. Taking the initiative, Nanu wrapped her arms tightly around Vahn's torso while nuzzling affectionately against his chest with her cheek as she said, "Master is the greatest. I'm sure you can do it if you really try your hardest..." Though she didn't know what he was thinking about, Nanu was keenly aware of the small changes in her Master's facial expression that would give insight into what he was thinking. He had a look that told her that he was worrying about some distant threat and, even though she couldn't imagine what would trouble him so, it was obvious he wasn't confident in facing whatever awaited him.
Vahn released a dry chuckle before stroking Nanu's back as he said, "You're right, Nanu. Don't worry, no matter how difficult it might be, I will never give up until I succeed. My target is far beyond the enemy that I will have to defeat so I can't let their presence intimidate me...hahaha..." Since he needed to reach Tier 7 at some point, an existence that would make something like the Mage of the Beginning a complete non-factor, Vahn knew it wasn't impossible for him to defeat them. Just as he could defeat Eva, albeit with a bit of preparation, it would be possible to defeat the Mage of the Beginning if he was able to understand the nature of its existence. With the system shop, he could undoubtedly find historical accounts of how others might have defeated it and, though that wouldn't necessarily apply to the Mage he would have to face, it would still give him a bit of insight into the steps he should take...
Understanding Vahn's intentions, Sis began to purchase tens of thousands of historical texts that were related to the record Eva had originated from. Though History and Fate would practically be 'broken' when he entered the record, it didn't mean that entities who had always been present would suddenly cease to exist. However, as was often stated in the political texts of many worlds, History was often written by the winners and it was highly probably for the truth to be misconstrued for the benefit of those that held power in the aftermath of conflict. Just from the records she had purchased, Sis found more than a hundred different identities for the Mage of the Beginning, some of which were coincided with the identities of powerful historical figures, including even Eva herself...
While Sis was analyzing all of the newly acquired data, Vahn had sat down to enjoy breakfast with Nanu and Yggy. He absentmindedly listened to Sis' analysis while making casual conversation and enjoying the company of the two adorable girls. Nanu was sitting at his side rather obediently while Yggy was seated a little too close to him since she was enjoying feeding small pieces of fruits to Vahn with a happy smile on her face. Vahn found her actions rather adorable and, with his mind focused on other things, it was very convenient to have someone feed him, even though it was also somewhat unnecessary. He would never say that to Yggy, however, as even the thought of upsetting the almost incomparably adorable Spirit seeming 'wrong'.
After enjoying a rather long breakfast, Vahn's attention shifted to his avatar since Brynhildr had shown up with a report for him. Since she had just returned from a mission, she was wearing her Valkyrian armor, battle harness, and the long white battle dress that made up their common outfit. She had removed her feathered helmet as a general courtesy and bowed low after being allowed to issue her report. Though Vahn would typically dismiss with such formalities, it was a fact that he was about to become an Emperor and he knew he needed to act the part, both for his sake and the sake of those who followed him. He stood with his back straight, chin slightly raised, and hands neatly arranged behind his back as he sternly intoned, "Speak, Brynhildr..."
In response to his command, Brynhildr's wings twitched slightly as she exclaimed, "Yes, my Master!" before going into details about her mission. She had been tasked with leading a group of Valkyries to investigate a few places of interest that had many legends and rumors circulating about the nature of their existence. The most important of these places, one of the 'Three Unexplored Regions', was the Dragon Valley located at the northernmost point of Eden. It was rumored to be a place where the One-Eyed Black Dragon had nested for a while in the distant past and, true to its name, was filled with various Dragons and Dragon Subspecies. Though Sigfried had actually culled a large part of their numbers in the past, there were a few powerful 'Dragon Lords' present that had been expanding their brood over the last few hundred years.
On the subject of the Dragon Lords, Brynhildr had explained, "The region seems to be split into five separate areas, each ruled by one of the Dragon Lords. As for their strength, we were able to subdue to Lord of the East, though it was a hard-fought victory. If not for the blessings that Master had bestowed upon us, it is likely we would have sustained more than simple injuries..." Though their equipment had already been some of the best on the Continent when they served Legend, the upgrades provided by Hephaestus for some of the core Valkyries were leagues above the weapons and armor they had prided themselves for in the past. As for the 'blessings' Brynhildr was referring to, it was referring to the lessons in Eva's magic system and the various accessories Vahn had gifted the Valkyries after they officially became his subordinates and retainers.
Now, almost every Valkyrie was able to use some kind of magic, including those who didn't have a particular talent towards using it. The basic choker Vahn had given them, as per their request, emulated [Spirit Healing], allowing them to constantly replenish their mana, while also granting them the ability to use basic healing magic without a chant. As a result, the Valkyrie could not only heal themselves but, in the event that their stronger members would have to deal with powerful enemies, the weaker Valkyrie could quickly fall into a support role and allow them to overcome much stronger foes. This was how they had been able to defeat the Eastern Dragon Lord, Cypheon, a monster around Level 8, without losing any of their members...
Vahn felt his brain buzz a bit as he listened to Brynhildr's report but he managed to keep a calm expression as he said, "You did well, Brynhildr..." Though he wanted to remark that they shouldn't have taken such a risk, Vahn knew how prideful the Valkyries were and he couldn't actually deny that they had performed their duty properly. If they had actually lost any of their members, he would have felt extremely guilty, but he also knew he couldn't be so overprotective of everyone he associated with. They were a warrior race that felt fulfilled when facing powerful foes so he couldn't exactly tell them they weren't allowed to face danger, even though he did have the right to do so as their Lord and Master...
Brynhildr raised her head for the first time after hearing Vahn's praise, allowing a small smile to further enhance her already ethereal beauty. Vahn squinted his eyes slightly in response to this before giving himself a slight reprimand since he nearly fell into his bad habits again. Though he appreciated Brynhildr's beauty quite a bit, Vahn didn't want to take advantage of his status and make a thoughtless remark, as Brynhildr would undoubtedly take it very seriously. He knew that, with but a single order, the entire 'flock' of Valkyrie would probably queue up to attend to him. As interesting a thought as that was, Vahn wasn't so desperate for the company of women that he needed to give in to every small urge that arose in his heart. Though, as this thought crossed his mind, Vahn couldn't help but give a small glance at Nanu, causing the perceptive Chienthropes tail to begin waggling excitedly in response...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Nanu loves walkies...! Nanu fetch good...!','Yggy is scary...','Vahn is a deviant xD...')
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