This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
Though the Gift Game hadn't ended how he expected, Vahn wasn't particularly bothered by the development. Fenrir and Mikoto were a little miffed at having their fights interrupted, but, when it came down to it, neither really cared about fame. A whispered promise was all it took to color their faces red and qualitatively improve their moods.
The hardest person to appease in the wake of the Gift Game, sans the Communities that feared the Aldrnari Empire's takeover, was Wu. She wasn't anywhere near as angry as Vahn expected her to be, but, before she was willing to forgive Caulifla and Kale for their unintended slight, she demanded a grand celebration to acknowledge the fact they were now a couple.
While not exactly a wedding, the event was attended by many within the Heavenly Domain nearly every member of the Sage Dragon's Hearth. Wu enjoyed each and every moment but her favorite part was when Caulifla, Kale, Goku, Broly, and their children came forward to pay their respects and acknowledge her as their Ancestor. She also enjoyed what followed quite a bit, but that was a secret affair between Vahn and the three monkey-like women.
On the topic of celebrations, a grand festival was organized by the Thousand Eyes Community to acknowledge the formation of the Aldrnari Empire. A number of people accused them of trying to steal the thunder from the Salamandra Community's upcoming succession ceremony but the truth of the matter was they still had five days set aside from the time allocated for the Gift Game. A lot of people had migrated to the East in order to witness the event first-hand, so, instead of sending them home early, Vahn invited them to stay and attend his Inauguration and the subsequent, five-day celebration…
To get the other Communities on board, Vahn offered a plethora of Gifts and other rewards to any and all who were willing to support the festivities. He achieved this by inviting many of the highest-ranking individuals in the East to participate in a private banquet catered by Rindo. Very few people appeared on the first evening, but, by the fifth, well over a thousand people had come by to discuss business and sample Rindo's incomprehensibly delicious cooking.
Among the guests that Vahn personally greeted were members of the Nine Realms Alliance and White Raven Community. He had heard about the assistance they provided, and, while completely unnecessary, he had never been the type to ignore gestures of kindness. It didn't matter that they had only helped in order to further their own goals. When it came to politics and inter-community affairs, such exchanges were as common as stones on the ground.
Though Vahn ultimately refused Odin's invitation to join hands and form an Alliance, Vahn swore an oath that he would restore the World Tree to good health. He also agreed to accept a few members of the White Raven Community into the Aldrnari Empire's soon-to-be-developed Aldrnari Institute. This included Vor, two breathtakingly beautiful Valkyries named Hrist and Lenneth, and, somewhat surprisingly, Muninn herself.
With Vor, Hrist, and Lenneth appearing in 'extremely' revealing gowns, it wasn't difficult to imagine why they had been chosen as representative of the White Raven Community. Muninn, however, was something of a curveball. She was clearly there to act in the interests of Odin, but, at the same time, she showed a genuine interest in the technology of the Aldrnari Empire. When the discussion of the Aldrnari Institute came up, she immediately took an interest, and, by the end of the conversation, all but 'insisted' that she be allowed to join.
Though the task had clearly been assigned to Vor, Hrist, and Lenneth, Muninn spent the rest of the evening attempting to seduce Vahn. This was clearly noticed by Odin and several other guests, but, demonstrating very little regard for the opinions of others, Muninn didn't give up. What genuinely surprised the guests was when she and Vahn disappeared into a side room before returning a few minutes later.
While it was no secret that Vahn had an inordinate 'fondess' for beautiful women, the guests that had participated in the festivities across multiple evenings had seen him politely refuse more than a dozen different offers to have a 'private discussion'. The majority of these offers came from literal Goddesses of Love, Beauty, and Sex so it was a surprise to even Odin when Muninn returned to the banquet hall with a faint smile and an absentminded expression on her face.
What many of the people attending the ball-like event were unaware of was that Vahn appreciated genuine intrigue and sincerity far more than he appreciated beauty. Muninn may have approached him with similar intentions as the other girls at the party, but, hidden beneath her pretense of duty was a genuine desire to learn more about him. His very existence fascinated her, so, even though he would have preferred if she approached him after the party, Vahn eventually succumbed in the face of the snow-white beauty's persistence.
Needless to say, Muninn became 'very' popular once her success spread to the other attendees of the party. Those that had previously approached Vahn wanted to learn her secrets while Vor, Hrist, and Lenneth wanted to know if their mission was still a go. In response, she notified them that their mission hadn't changed but that it would be difficult for Hrist, in particular, to approach Vahn.
Though Hrist felt more than a little vexed by Muninn's words, Vor and Lenneth were equal parts nervous and excited. According to Muninn, Vor needed only to be honest and Vahn would quickly 'reward' her efforts. As for Lenneth, she had specifically been chosen because of her earnest nature and unshakeable conviction.
When Lenneth learned that there was even a remote chance the World Tree could be restored, she offered to give her everything in order to see it done. This had come as quite a surprise as Lennth's duty among the Valkyries was the preservation of the present. She was the Valkyrie that should be the most opposed to drastic change, but, after witnessing the suffering of her people over the last three hundred years, Lenneth had slowly come to the realization that preserving the present meant toiling and sacrificing oneself for the benefit of those that walked the same path and followed after you.
For the sake of her people, and, more importantly, her younger sister Silmeria, the Valkyrie assigned to safeguard the future, Lenneth was willing to sacrifice even her pride. This was more than enough conviction to win Vahn's favor, but, at the same time, it drastically decreased the chances he would lay a hand on her.
Vahn had never been the type to take advantage of others or pressure them into making sacrifices in exchange for his assistance. Lenneth's particular brand of sincerity actually placed him in a bit of a bind as it compelled him to refuse her advances while simultaneously rendering his assistance.
In many ways, Lenneth was actually the best possible candidate to infiltrate the Aldrnari Empire and secure a close connection with Vahn. His refusal of her advances would invariably develop into an overwhelming feeling of obligation that her pride would compel her to repay. The more he refused her, the stronger her feelings of obligation would become until both of them eventually just broke down, confronted, and accepted one another. In the end, their feelings would turn into a powerful bond comparable to true love. It was simply a matter of time.
For similar yet contrasting reasons, Hrist would find it very difficult to close the distance with Vahn. She was one of the original Valkyries, and, much like Lenneth, she was charged with preserving an aspect of fate. More specifically, she was the Valkyrie charged with preserving the past. As a result, she was also willing to do whatever it took to restore the Nine Realms Alliance to its former glory. The things that distinguished her from Lenneth were her disposition and her personal allegiances.
Whereas Lenneth was a stoic and reserved woman who properly considered each and every word that parted her lips, Hrist could transition between being exceptionally cold and extremely alluring in the blink of an eye. Her true nature could be likened to a breathtakingly beautiful but venomous snake. Whenever she entered a room, she would immediately become the center of attention. As a result, those she rewarded with her own often felt as though they were the most important person in all of Creation.
In actuality, the only people Hrist cared about were her sisters. Even then, she would not hesitate to kill them if she believed they were a threat to the Nine Realms Alliance. To that end, those seduced by her would often find themselves with a dagger buried deep into their spines. In spite of this, the people that had fallen victim to Hrist would rarely lay the blame on her. Instead, they would lament the fact they couldn't experience just one more night together…
Though she was easily one of the most ruthless Valkyries, Hrist was paradoxically the gentlest of Odin's daughters. During the weeks, months, or sometimes years leading up to her assassination attempts, her act was so convincing that many of her victims would actually believe they were at fault for her betrayal. Her association with the past allowed her to ascertain the innermost desires buried deep within a person's heart.
Explained simply, spending time with Hrist made people feel extremely nostalgic. Some people had even likened it to falling in love for the first time each and every day they were together. For this reason, there were a surprising number of people that actually looked forward to being targeted by her. She was well known as one of the most capable assassins in the entire Little Garden. Many just didn't care. For being that could live for tens of thousands, if not millions of years, the experience of falling in love for the first time was indescribably precious…
Unfortunately for Hrist, Vahn could re-experience falling in love whenever he wanted. Rarely a day passed where he didn't look back on his time in Danmachi with fondness. He could recall each and every moment spent with his loved ones with crystal clarity, so, unless she could demonstrate some form of sincerity, Hrist had no hope of breaking down the walls of his heart. After all, unlike the vast majority of people, Vahn simply didn't have any. People were able to come and go as they pleased. The caveat was that his heart was so vast that finding a place to leave your mark was exceptionally difficult without him personally revealing the foundation…
Aided by Muninn's advice, Vor awoke to find herself lying naked against Vahn's chest. The previous night had been her first time, yet, instead of feeling pain, she enjoyed every moment from start to finish. Now, instead of feeling muscles aches or abdominal pain, a pleasant warmth permeated her entire body as she stared at Vahn's sleeping face with an unreadable expression on her own.
"You're awake…I can feel your intent wandering my body. Tell me, what are you searching for…?"
Opening his eyes, Vahn surprised Vor by tilting her chin up and planting a chaste kiss on her lips. It was so unexpected that she was wholly unable to respond. As a result, traces of anxiety appeared in her aura as the notion she had just missed an opportunity washed over her body and mind.
Amused by Vor's surprisingly innocent yet opportunistic thoughts, a light chuckle emanated from Vahn's throat as he rewarded her with a second kiss. This time, Vor was more than prepared, her tongue immediately entangling with his as she pushed herself further up his body.
Though it hadn't been his intention when he kissed her, Vahn didn't prevent Vor from mounting his body. Instead, his hands immediately gravitated towards her paradoxically firm yet pillowy bottom, a subtle tremor spreading through her body the moment his fingers sank into and began to knead her supple flesh…
Breaking away from the kiss, Vahn allowed Vor a moment to catch her breath as he answered her previous question. When she heard the words that had come out of his mouth, a far more powerful tremor ran through her body, as, the moment Vahn brought his lips near her ear, he revealed that she was no longer incapable of bearing children. Did he have the intention of knocking her up? Not at the present moment. He just didn't like that neither she nor any of the other Valkyries possessed the ability to bear children. They could have sex, but, for the sake of ensuring they treated each of the Einherjar equitably, they were intentionally made barren. This was something Vahn vehemently disagreed with, so, even though he had no intention of impregnating any of them, even Odin could not prevent him from restoring the function all females, by right, ought to possess.
The Valkyries may struggle with their emotions but they were not machines. Treating them as such, at least in Vahn's opinion, was simply wrong…
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Granny Wu (O w O)…','Muninn be like, "Let me just step right in…"','Sage Aldrnari strikes again xD…')
Liked it? Take a second to support Novels on Patreon!