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«Endless Path: Infinite Cosmos EPIC (Web Novel) - Chapter 2253: Anxiety

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Chapter 2253: Anxiety

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Though his afternoon was best by another round of audiences, Vahn's day ended on a high note when he returned to his room to find Artoria, Gray, and Gareth lounging on his bed in silk pajama tops, lace panties, and stockings.

"Is it my birthday or am I just the luckiest man in the world~?"

Noticing Vahn's presence, Gareth practically pounced from the bed before running over, wrapping her arms around him, and exclaiming, "Welcome back, Master~!" while her dog-like tail wagged furiously behind her. As for Artoria and Gray, they just adopted smiles as they waited patiently for Vahn to carry the puppy-like woman back to the bed.

Waiting until Vahn had climbed in alongside them, Artoria explained, "Fenrir came by to tell me you were in low spirits earlier this morning. Since she had already been given the opportunity to spend time with you, she asked if I could come by and help cheer you up. Gareth, Gray, I had been taking tea with Lady Boudica so it was decided they would accompany me."

Though he didn't actually need an explanation, Vahn ended up thanking Artoria with a kiss. Then, for the better part of an entire day, he pampered and was indulged by the three loveable dames until his mood had fully recovered…

Gareth had apparently been learning how to dance from Nero…

.

"How are you intending to respond? Unless I am misremembering things, I believe you wanted Eva to become the Empress of the Far North. Are you going to allow this Sandora to continue operating her Community as a police force…?"

Though a very small part of him wished they had found fault with the circumstances, Vahn wasn't even remotely surprised when neither Artoria, Gray, nor Gareth presented so much as a single hint of confusion or frustration. In their eyes, he could basically do no wrong, as, even if he did make a mistake, they knew he would do everything in his power to either fix it or make amends.

It didn't help that there was no legal age during the period in which Artoria and Gareth had lived. In fact, prior to becoming a Page at the tender age of 7, Gareth had already been betrothed to one of her cousins. If her elder brothers hadn't convinced their mother to let her impersonate a young boy, she would have been married off and never allowed to be a Knight.

When she learned about the letter penned by Sandora, Gareth was actually excited by the prospect of adding a new member to their family. She still had a very naive and pure view of the world, so, as long as she could train hard, play hard, and fill her belly whenever she wanted, she was happy.

Scratching the underside of the puppy-like woman's chin, Vahn carefully considered Artoria's words before answering, "I think I will accept. When Shiroyasha and I first considered the idea of taking on each of the Floor Master positions, I had already considered that something like this might occur…"

Nodding her head in both affirmation and approval, Artoria noted, "It's probably for the best. When it comes to young girls with tragic pasts, there is little you can do to resist helping them. Given how you described her, I imagine that Princess Sandora would feel considerably stressed if you rejected her proposal but still choose to help her. Girls like that, burdened by the expectations of others, find it particularly difficult to accept the assistance of others without providing something of substantial value as recompense…"

Having already reached a similar conclusion, Vahn offered a nod of his own as he squished and massaged Gareth's cheeks like mochi. It always amazed him how soft girls could be, so, with his mood slowly diminishing, Vahn decided to cheer himself up by tickling the unsuspecting Gareth until she managed to escape his clutches and get revenge by play biting him all over his body…

.

Though there were a few days remaining until the start of the week-long festival, Vahn decided he would head over early in order to spend some time with Semiramis and their two twins, Ebony and Raven. After that, he would be staying at the Royal Palace as Sandora had invited him to visit early so she could show him around and personally acquaint him with the Royal Capital, Kouen City.

Unlike the residential districts in the East, reminiscent of Feudal Japan, the buildings in the North closely resembled the types of buildings present in Europe between the seventeen and nineteen hundreds. This included a number of clock towers, neatly arranged cottages, and, every now and then, a gothic-style church.

Reinforcing the comparison, the Royal Palace of Salamandra more closely resembled the Palace of Westminister than the middle-eastern structure most people would expect after meeting members of the Royal Family.

For reasons even the senior members of Salamandra didn't fully understand, the direct descendants of Salamandra wore the type of garb typically associated with Arabic culture. For men, this typically meant muted grey tunics bound by a sash, curve-toed slippers, and long-sleeved robes made from extremely fine and breathable materials. To complete the image, they often carried around scimitars and a special type of curved knife called a Jambia.

Though it made them exponentially more popular with the citizenry, the female descendants of the Salamandra Royal Family were made to wear far more revealing outfits than the males. More often than not, this included a ceremonial top that only covered the breasts, various golden accessories, and flowing skirts. At a glance, there was no discernible difference between their ceremonial attire and the outfits worn by simple street performers and belly dancers.

Vahn had yet to meet Sandora but all the posters of her depicted a young girl walking around in an outfit more suitable for a Samba Parade than the future Queen of Salamandra. Her entire back and belly were exposed, and, though her skirt covered everything it needed to, it hung dangerously low on her hips. So much so that it gave the impression she either wasn't wearing anything underneath and, even if she was, it was very scant…

While a version of himself went to meet with Semiramis, another version of Vahn decided to give the Capital a sweep with his domain. He wasn't actively searching for something, but, by sweeping his domain across the entire city, he could create a map of the city while Sis sorted through and analyzed the data at his behest. This allowed them to keep tabs on suspicious individuals, discover secret locations, and, most importantly, create a 'snapshot' of the present moment for the sake of posterity.

Reality and fate were constantly shifting within the Divine Realm. Depending on the decisions of the people living within, even the identity of a person could be changed over something as simple as a coin flip.

During Vahn's exploration of the Royal Capital, he had noticed hundreds of missing person posters posted all throughout the city. This wasn't actually that uncommon, but, upon noticing that the vast majority of missing persons were children, Vahn began paying closer attention.

According to the people discussing and complaining about the disappearances in the various bars and taverns littering the city, children between the ages of 7 and 12 had been disappearing every single night for the past three months. The strangest thing about these disappearances was that there was absolutely no indication of any wrongdoing. In some cases, the missing children would be mere meters away from a group of adults or actively playing with other children before simply vanishing into thin air.

After his encounter with Hanako, Vahn was a little sensitive about the subject of children vanishing without a trace. It may not be a problem he was obligated to resolve, but, now that he knew about it, the people responsible would either need to flee or face his wrath. The moment he noticed even a hint that something was amiss, there wasn't a force outside the 1-3-Digit Gates that could prevent him from passing judgment. By that point, they couldn't even hope to flee…

.

Due to the increased security in and around the Royal Capital over the past three months, Vahn's appearance was immediately noticed and reported by countless people. Nearly every resident of Kouen City was affiliated with Salamandra in some form or another, so, with children going missing on the regular, they were pretty on top of reporting strange sightings and 'suspicious' individuals.

While some would undoubtedly refer to Vahn as a suspicious person, the reason so many people had taken notice of him was due to his sudden and meteoric rise to fame. There was hardly a single person who hadn't seen and heard of the Sage Dragon Emperor at this point, so, seeing a recently coronated Emperor walking around in casual clothes without an escort, they couldn't help thinking something was amiss.

Since a version of himself was already enjoying a cup of brackish-purple tea back at the Hanging Garden, Vahn didn't make a fuss when a group of men riding 3m tall Wyverns descended upon his position and nervously asked him to accompany them to the nearest guard station.

Vahn was originally planning to tour around the Capital for a few days before visiting the Royal Palace, but, now that he knew about the mass disappearances, he figured he may as well see what the Royal Family has to say on the matter. Thus, in response to the visibly nervous soldier's request, he answered, "Certainly." before transforming into a much, much larger dragon and adding, "Lead the way."

.

Even before Vahn had been approached by members of the Winged Dragon Brigade, a messenger had already rushed over to the Royal Palace in order to report his arrival to a young girl seated atop an ornate golden throne furnished with bright red cushions.

Upon reaching the throne room, the man dared not look directly at the petite yet limber redhead seated atop the throne. Her outfit may be exceptionally revealing, but, if you were caught staring at her for a prolonged period of time, members of the Royal Police Force would invariably bring you in for questioning.

"Princess Sandora, we have received numerous reports stating that the Sage Dragon Emperor has been seen wandering the streets of Kouen City. We have sent a brigade to confirm his identity but we need to know how you wish to proceed from there."

Hearing the man's report, the young girl seated atop the throne, Princess Sandora Doltrake, visibly tensed. In spite of this, her expression remained calm and dignified as she ordered, "Make sure he is afforded the same courtesy as a member of the Royal Family. Once his identity has been confirmed, notify him that I wish to meet at his earliest possible convenience. If he declines, do not attempt to impede him in any way. Anyone found attempting to sow dissension between Salamandra and the Aldrnari Empire will be investigated on grounds of treasonous intent…"

Though a veritable horde of butterflies was waging war within her stomach, Sandora managed to enunciate her orders without revealing so much as a single indication of the nervousness she was currently feeling. She hadn't been anticipating Vahn so soon after she had penned her letter. At the very least, she expected him to return one of his own rather than just appearing out of thin air. She needed time to mentally prepare herself…

Unfortunately, the moment Vahn learned that Sandora wished to meet with him, he agreed to allow the Winged Dragon Brigade to escort him to the Royal Palace. When Sandora heard about this, she immediately ordered the palace chefs to prepare a banquet before practically sprinting back to her room, locking the door behind her, and burying her bright red face into a pillow. Then, for the first time in many years, she screamed…

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(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Fenrir is so thoughtful (O w O)…','Some say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Such people have never harmed children in the presence of Vahn…','Sandora was not prepared for today…')

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