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«Endless Path: Infinite Cosmos EPIC (Web Novel) - Chapter 2247: Authority : Penance

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Chapter 2247: Authority : Penance

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Following Ryouma's disappearance, Cheshire leaped towards Vahn with a paradoxically fierce yet adorable expression on her face. Unfortunately, the moment her feet departed the ground, Vahn arrested her momentum and anchored her in place. She was still able to move around and swing her hammer, but, the moment she tried to throw it, Vahn just placed it into a pocket dimension, saying, "Calm down. It's not as though he has truly died. Once the game has concluded, you will find him outside."

Ignoring Vahn's words, Cheshire held up her hands as though she was about to grab the air. The dimensions of her mouth suddenly began to expand, but, before she could execute whatever she had in mind, Vahn waved his hand to produce a pair of paper talismans over her mouth, explaining, "They will fall when the game ends or when an hour has passed."

On that note, Vahn teleported Cheshire back to the Akuma Community's planet before using long-range telekinesis to physically rip their Teleportation Nexi from the planet's surface. This was pure theatrics on his part, but, as it looked pretty cool to see massive, ruin-like structures ripped from the ground, he doubted the spectators would complain.

Shifting his attention to the remaining members of Ryouma's party, Vahn took notice of the fact that less than half of the twenty-three women present bothered to try and 'avenge' their lost lover. Those that rushed forward found themselves temporarily frozen in place, not because Vahn didn't feel like dealing with them, but because there was a far more important matter for him to address…

Turning towards Fenrir, Vahn's expression softened in a tender and loving smile as he wrapped his arms around her and said, "Sorry for showing up so late…"

Chuckling in response to her Master's words, Fenrir's tail began to waggle slightly as she nuzzled against his chest and said, "Master arrived just in time. It was my fault for choosing to intervene. I just wanted a chance to show off but ended up embarrassing myself…"

"Mmm…"

Rather than commenting on what Fenrir had said, Vahn continued cradling her in his arms while nestling the lower half of his face and nose between her ears. He could sense the desire for revenge she was doing her best to keep concealed from him. Until it had abated to the point he was certain she wouldn't sneak off to teach Ryouma a lesson, Vahn had no intention of letting her go…

Understanding her Master's thoughts, an exasperated sigh escaped Fenrir's throat as she nestled even closer to his chest. She had been isolating herself with increasing frequency as of late so her anger and frustration had been increasing along with her desire to prove herself. It didn't help that she had spent the last seven months attempting to master the basics of the Magia Erebea…

Aided by her Master's scent and the meditation technique she had been practicing for decades, a calm and cooling sensation gradually spread through Fenrir's mind. By the time half an hour had passed, her desire to kill Ryouma had transitioned into the comparably tame desire to cut off his hands and feet. Ten minutes after that, she had convinced herself that she would be satisfied with someone else kicking him a firm kick in his reproductive organs. She was tempted to do it herself but she didn't want to get her paws dirty…

Sensing the flames of Fenrir's hatred mellow into smoldering ashes, Vahn planted a prolonged kiss atop her head, whispering, "Good girl…" in an affectionate tone of voice. This caused her drooping tail to begin waggling again, but, more importantly, it thoroughly smothered any lingering appetite she had for revenge. So long as Ryouma didn't go out of his way to rekindle it, she likely wouldn't even spare the dichromatic man so much as a single thought…

.

While the primary version of himself escorted Fenrir, Kusu, Vados, and Marcarita back to the throne room, Vahn made his way over to where the members of Ryouma's party were currently waiting. He needed to act before Shion could announce that her Community had surrendered, so, shortly after sending Ryouma off to explore space, Vahn manipulated the flow of time to give them as much as he needed.

Waving his hand, Vahn released the frozen members from their temporal prisons before sending them skidding backward in the same motion. At the same time, he adopted his characteristically casual smile as he said, "You are free to attack me, but, as I mentioned to the diminutive girl with cat-like features, there is little point. Once the Gift Game has concluded, Ryouma will be perfectly fine. As for why I've kept you here…I merely wanted to ask each of you a series of questions. Who among you is willing to act as a representative?"

To Vahn's surprise, it was the little lolita with oversized twin tails and a massive Gatling Gun that stepped forward, stating, "When Ryouma-san is absent, I have the highest authority as Strike Team Leader. If you have something to ask, I will answer do my best to answer your questions. Just know that, no matter what you say, none of us here will betray Ryouma."

Though he had serious doubts about the little lolita's words, Vahn offered an understanding nod before ignoring her statement entirely as he asked, "Do each of you follow Ryouma of your own volition?"

"You…you asshole…!"

Preempting the little lolita's attack, Vahn held up his hand and declared, "From this point onward, aggression equates to docility. The angrier you become, the stronger your desire to sit in a seiza."

Immediately following Vahn's words, four of the girls present sat down in a flawless seiza with their backs straight and eyes forward. The look in their eyes made it very clear they were angry, but, due to the overwhelming difference in Authority, there was very little they could do to free themselves from their predicament.

Using the four as an example, Vahn passed his gaze over the other women present, stating, "I have no intention of harming or forcing anyone against their will. As I stated previously, I simply want to ask you a series of questions. Once my curiosity has been sated, you will be allowed to leave at your leisure."

Though he wasn't particularly fond of using his Authority in this manner, Vahn knew he would need to demonstrate his capabilities. This demonstration would serve as a deterrence against those who still viewed him as an 'upstart' with cheat-like abilities and limited Authority. In reality, his Authority was his greatest asset, so, while he couldn't help feeling a little guilty about forcing a bunch of girls to sit in seiza, he maintained his usual smile without so much as flinching.

Loki would have been proud.

.

Following the impromptu interrogation, Vahn learned that nearly half of the women present had effectively been tricked into becoming members of Ryouma's harem. The moment they accepted his offer for a date, it was already too late to change their mind. So long as Ryouma kept pestering them and providing gifts, they would eventually feel 'obligated' to return the favor. After that, they would either become addicted to pleasure or offered power in exchange for becoming members of his harem. In many cases, both.

Though this explanation made it sound as though the girls were partially responsible for the events leading to their 'downfall', the truth of the matter was that Ryouma had approached the majority of them at taverns, restaurants, or cafes. He had figured out an exploit that allowed him to trigger the activation requirements of his System by approaching women and proposing to buy them drinks in exchange for their company. The moment they accepted, Ryouma would treat them with care and consideration for days, sometimes weeks on end. By the time most of them realized something was wrong, they were already being introduced to the other members of his harem.

Simply put, Ryouma had taken advantage of the fact that some girls visited taverns with the intent of receiving free drinks or having one-night stands. If he had respected their intentions, it would be difficult to say he had done anything wrong. Instead, Ryouma entered into such situations with the singular intent of adding new members to his harem. In other words, he ignored the fact that most of the girls present were simply looking for free drinks or casual relationships. He didn't drug them or anything, but, by tracking them down to their Communities and constantly pestering them on a daily basis, he effectively removed the right of the women to refuse his advances.

Ryouma was a textbook example of someone who used their 'kindness' and charisma as weapons to take advantage of people. To make matters exponentially worse, he didn't find anything wrong with his behavior. In his mind, he was still the protagonist of a world where every attractive woman he encountered was a viable target to romance. He basically treated everyone except for himself as non-playable characters, people whose only purpose was to add flavor and variety to his life.

The saddest thing about this was that Ryouma was a genuinely good person. He viewed himself as the Hero of the world so he never stopped trying to help the people around him. His perspective of the world had simply been twisted to the point it was almost impossible for him to change.

Fortunately, though it would take several years for Ryouma to accept it as a good thing, Vahn was there to guide the youthful-looking Hero back to the path of righteousness. His power allowed him to purge the influence of Ryouma's Ero God System from the girls' minds. This resulted in all but six of the girls choosing to seek asylum with the Sage Dragon's Hearth. As for the rest, they hailed from worlds that Ryouma had passed through on his journey.

By completing each of the girls' routes, Ryouma had effectively earned their unconditional love and support. There were times when they felt unbelievably frustrated by his incessant womanizing, but, understanding it was necessary for Ryouma to increase his strength, it never took long for them to forgive him. Some had even helped him pick up girls by accompanying him to various taverns and cafes. The presence of another female was a good way to lower the guard of a potential target, so, with the hope of having a date with the one they loved, many of the girls accompanied Ryouma in spite of the knowledge that their lovers' night out might turn into a plot to expand their numbers.

Armed with this information, one of the first things Vahn did in the days following the promotional Gift Game was ripping out Ryouma's Ero God System. At the same time, he helped Shion purge the more 'cancerous' elements of her Community. Instead of killing them, however, Vahn afforded each of the former 'Heroes' the opportunity to prove they weren't completely irredeemable. To this end, he marooned each of them in an Actualized World based on memories from the lives they had led prior to their first reincarnation/transmigration. He wanted to see what kind of decisions they would make if given similar opportunities but without the 'cheats' to back them up.

Though some would undoubtedly liken Vahn's decision to a form of imprisonment, he felt no guilt as it was ultimately the decision of the Heroes. He had given them the option of choosing between transmigration and returning to the cycle of reincarnation without memories. Each and every single one of them had chosen the former. Some may argue that Vahn hadn't really given them a choice, but, considering 99.99999999999999…% of people reincarnated without being given the option to retain their memories, it was kind of a moot point…

.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Vahn be like, "Grab the Vanargandr and squash it against your body. It may not like it at first but it will eventually calm down. You just need to keep squashing it until it feels calm and secure in your embrace."','Authority is pretty terrifying…','I like to imagine that the only reason the Heroes got off easily is because they have A-SS Rank Luck (O w O)…')

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