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Published at 16th of August 2019 09:05:31 AM

Chapter 840

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With preparations on the surface going relatively smoothly, even though it involved a very rapid deconstruction of Loki's Manor, Vahn and the Xenos had already started their migration to the surface. They were one of the most likely targets for Enyo and, though none of the 'changed' Xenos had shown up during his stay, Vahn felt that a large-scale attack might occur if he left them alone. He had never discovered the exact means Enyo's forces were using to obtain information through the Dungeon but was certain they must know about his presence within the Xenos' Hidden Village.

Though his presence in two locations may be very confusing for them, they apparently didn't have the means of using more powerful pawns in the Middle and Upper Floors, something Vahn wanted to look into when he had time. He speculated that it was either related to the energy density on the Floors, making it harder for strong monsters to survive for long periods of time as they went higher up, or that Babel Tower's sealing effect got stronger towards the surface. Thus far, he hadn't been able to determine how exactly Babel Tower was sealing the Dungeon but, after seeing the massive formation situated behind Ouranos' throne, Vahn knew the two were related...

It was very likely that forces he simply couldn't comprehend, at least for the time being, were at play. Since even his 'Emperor' self had been unable to circumvent this issue, Vahn knew there 'had' to be something going on behind the scenes, especially since the version of himself in the Divination had been rather overbearing in the actions he took. However, instead of worrying about such things, Vahn was trying to focus on the tasks at hand, specifically the establishment of Haven and the migration of the Xenos. His main body was currently leading the expedition towards the 50th Floor while his Avatar was protecting the small congregation of Xenos as they took the safest paths available towards the surface...

As there were simply no other means to transport her, Vahn ended up in a rather unique situation where he was using Water Elemental manipulation to create a sphere of water that contained a very excited Marie. She would periodically send small jets of water to splash him and seemed to be enjoying the strangeness of the situation while most of the other Xenos, somewhat against Vahn's expectations, weren't tense at all. They made their way through the Dungeon as if it was their backyard, not minding the noise they were making or showing any great concerns for their safety. This was a combination of the fact that the weaker Xenos had full confidence in their leaders, which now seemingly included Vahn himself, and the fact that their instincts and senses were extremely developed. If there was any actual danger, even Marie would become alert in an instant, causing most monsters to get immediately taken out without Vahn having to do anything...

This ended up being for the best as, other than maintaining the sphere of water for Marie, Vahn currently had a 'backpack' shaped like an adorable Arachne-Xenos. Naho seemed to have the ability to cling to him even while she was asleep, so Vahn was carrying the tuckered out Xenos who had stayed awake throughout the night out of excitement. Most of the Xenos with 'immature' mentalities had a stronger desire to live amongst the surface or, at the very least, they were more open about it. The Xenos who had developed more mature mentalities were better at keeping their thoughts and emotions under control, typically serving as leaders and counsel to their...less intellectually inclined kin.

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It only took around two hours to reach one of the connection points between Knossos and the Dungeon, something the Xenos were very aware of since the existence of Knossos was one of their banes. Now, though there were likely more than a few secrets still pertaining to the artificial dungeon, Vahn could lead them through it safely and disarm any traps that would bar their safe passage. Once they reached the elevator shaft, it was apparent that others were still at least trying to make use of Knossos for their own purposes, as the elevator platform was located a few Floors above.

Vahn spent a few minutes figuring out how the mechanism worked before calling the platform to them, noticing that the majority of the 'supplies' were now missing. He would have to investigate the lower fifteen Floors of Knossos in the future but, for the time being, simply made the elevator return to the first subterranean Floor. The elevator moved rather slowly and, more so than when they were in the Dungeon, many of the Xenos were becoming tense. Even Naho, who had woken up from the loud noises of the elevator, was clinging to him with greater strength. Her small arms were trembling a little, causing Vahn to lightly pet her head as he spoke loud enough for everyone to hear, saying, "Don't worry. Even if the entire City of Orario wanted to bring you harm, the Alliance would never allow it. Just trust me...I will protect you all."

Though not everyone in the Alliance would be okay with the Xenos from the start, it was already the official policy that their organization supported the equal rights of all Xenos. Anyone that tried to cause trouble would have to make the choice of distancing themselves from the Alliance and becoming blacklisted. Since very few people had a prejudice strong enough to sacrifice their livelihoods for something that was essentially unrelated to them, the majority of those within the Alliance would just 'accept' the Xenos passively. They may not rally to the protection of the Xenos but, so long as they weren't causing trouble, Vahn didn't really mind letting their perception change with time...

Since the lowest Affection he had amongst Xenos was now 95, with the majority actually around 98 and 99, many of them had relaxed after hearing Vahn's words. This caused Vahn's desire to protect them to become even stronger as, even in the distant past, he had always endeavored to meet the expectations of those that placed their trust in him. Since his impression of the Xenos was almost at an extreme level now, Vahn didn't care if the entire world opposed his decision to support and protect them. No matter how much time it took, he would create a better world where, not just the Xenos, but all peoples could live freely and seek the happiness everyone intrinsically deserved...

(A/N: Vahn is a Beyond-Omega Level Idealist...)

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After around twenty minutes, the elevator platform reached the highest Floor, which Vahn had already mapped completely in the past. He confidently led the way forward until they were nearing the main entrance of Knossos, encountering two members of the Freya Familia along the way. Since Freya had already received notice that he would be returning with the Xenos, her Familia members weren't surprised by the 'horde' of monsters behind Vahn. Instead, they both saluted with stoic indifference before one of them began ringing a bell. Following this sound, several other bells began ringing further away, resonating with each other to alert those stationed around the first Floor that Vahn had returned.

Seeing the 'respect' other surface-dwellers showed Vahn, many of the Xenos released a sigh of relief and, while passing the two guards, some of them even tried greeting them. To the guards' credit, they managed to remain relatively unperturbed, at least until the more powerful and humanoid Xenos passed by them. Since Gryuu, a Green Dragon that was nearly 14m long, was also amongst their entourage, the two guards had to reposition themselves to make room as Gryuu, with a deep voice, said, "Pardon me..." and squeezed his way through.

Upon reaching the surface, Vahn wasn't surprised by the fact that Freya was waiting for him while several hundred members of her Familia had created a cordon around the entire district. The Alliance had already cleared out the area around Knossos' entrance and had started to tear down the surrounding region to construct their future headquarters. Even so, being surrounded by relatively strong Adventurers had caused the Xenos to become somewhat tense, even as Vahn gestured for them to remain calm. He then removed Naho from his back as, though Freya was relatively docile these days, Vahn knew she wasn't truly understanding of 'any' kind of relationship he had with other women.

Even with this being the case, Freya retained her elegant appearance as she walked forward, long legs causing her hips to snake seductively with each step taken. Then, as if it were perfectly natural, Freya reached her arms forward and attempted to hug him. However, before completing the act, there was a brief pause which brought a small smile to Vahn's face as he stepped forward to complete the embrace. He stroked the back of her hair and whispered, "I almost thought you were going to misbehave a little..." This caused Freya's body to shudder slightly as she whispered in a somewhat pitiable tone, "Maybe I'm a little jealous after your other body played around at the Manor...please don't tease me too much..."

Releasing a slight chuckle at Freya's antics, Vahn stroked the side of her immaculately sculpted face and gave her a rather long kiss, even if it was very 'tame'. At the same time, he moved his hand along the side of her body, sending energy through his fingertips that caused Freya's aura to begin flaring up. He didn't do anything too untoward, especially since it would potentially cause dissent amongst some of her 'children', but knew she would appreciate his touch, even if but a little. By the time they separated, Freya's face was slightly flushed as she whispered, "I had prepared a surprise for you...but I'm not sure if it would appeal to you after gathering so many 'exotic' women..."

Freya had been eyeing several Xenos, very aware of the ones that were drawn to Vahn since she was, after all, a lesser goddess of Love. Her eyes settled the longest on Marie, who was floating just behind Vahn, surprised by the fact her young lover had managed to secure a Mermaid, especially one with genuine intelligence. Freya could sense the natural [Charm] radiating off of the innocent Xenos and, if not for the fact it would bother Vahn, would have tried to 'train' the exotic girl to her preferences. She would have been very useful in the past, though that was no longer important now that so much had changed...

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The thing Freya found the most 'interesting' was the fact that some of the 'normal' looking Xenos, those that still had uniquely monster features, also seemed very fond of Vahn. She could understand why the 'obviously' female Xenos were drawn to him, as she understood Vahn's nature very well, but it was very interesting to her to see 'animals' attached to her lover. As this thought crossed her mind, however, Freya remembered that Vahn could actually give them humanoid appearances through his unique skill, putting the puzzle in her mind together in an instant. This made her feel a little excited, as something 'new', like the Xenos, represented a path she had never even considered in the past...

In response to Freya's words, Vahn tilted his head to match her gaze and obstruct her view of Marie, saying, "I'm certain whatever you had planned would be exhilarating...you've been working so hard, Freya...I know you wouldn't let me down after having several days to plan..." Though she understood his nature, Vahn had become accustomed to Freya's as well. He knew that, if he had never existed in this world, Freya is exactly the type of goddess who would have taken advantage of the Xenos. He could imagine her taking an interest in and grooming several of their kind, if not outright using them as 'whetstones' to sharpen and test the members of her Familia she had taken an interest in...

Hearing Vahn's words, Freya couldn't stop another slight tremble from passing through her body, knowing he had seen through her once again. Unlike all of her former lovers, Vahn had always been able to strip her down until she laid everything bare before him. It was almost impossible to even think about what she would do with other men now, to the point that she hadn't even kept any of the male Xenos in her eyes. The only reason the females had caught her attention was because of their attraction to Vahn, something she was always very perceptive of since it would potentially 'threaten' her own relationship with him.

Not wanting to stress her out too much, Vahn kissed Freya's forehead and smiled before saying, "We need to move the Xenos safely to their new home. After we get them settled, I'll make sure to keep my promise with you...I'm looking forward to your surprise..." Freya nodded her head almost immediately and, while still leaning into Vahn's chest, shouted out, "Make preparations to begin moving. I want all the streets within two blocks of our path completely cleared out...!" Since a 'block' within Orario, at least when you got to districts with Manors, could be several kilometers, this would be a relatively daunting task. However, none of the Freya Familia members complained and had immediately set out to perform their duties, even as the object of their reverence rested in the arms of another...

As reluctant as she was to part, Freya gave Vahn one last 'sneaky' kiss before separating from him, saying, "I need to make some final preparations. Everything should be ready in around two hours but, even if it takes a bit longer for you to show up, I'll keep waiting..." Freya knew it would probably take a little while to get the Xenos settled in, especially since the journey to the Manor would probably take around twenty minutes. She knew he would probably end up spending some time with his children and talking with the goddesses within the Hearth Manor as well. However, this didn't matter much and, if she had to wait longer, Freya was very willing to do so...after all, if Vahn felt a little guilty about keeping her waiting, her 'reward' would be even greater...

Though he knew she was playing him a little, Vahn kept a calm smile on his face and wondered exactly what she had planned for him. He knew it was likely related to a group that she wanted to make into his retainers and wondered if she had gathered some of the more attractive members of her own Familia for 'entertainment' purposes. Given her nature, Freya wouldn't exactly share him with others so Vahn suspected she had arranged a show of sorts and potentially wanted to engage in something like an exhibition play. One of her 'quirks', which is how he referred to many of the compulsions binding the gods, was that Freya enjoyed being seen. As a principle Goddess of Beauty, she 'needed' to be appreciated for her appearance and, if they made love in front of a gathering of beauties, that would appease her Divinity a great deal...

Deciding not to think about it too much, Vahn shook his head lightly and turned to the somewhat stupefied Xenos and said, "Let's go see your new home on the surface...shall-" Vahn's words were interrupted by Naho suddenly jumping towards him, clinging to him 'expertly' as she exclaimed, "Who was that girl!? Was she ones of your wives~!?" Freya, who actually wasn't that far away just yet, nearly tripped when she heard Naho's outburst. She looked back with a light blush on her face and even hugged her body somewhat insecurely before walking away with hastier steps. Vahn had pretended not to see this, as he didn't want to make her feel even more embarrassed, and instead lightly patted Naho's head as he said, "Maybe someday..."

(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'I mean, it kind of is their backyard...','Vahn often ends up as some kind of 'pack leader', doesn't he...','Freya...is kind of cute...?')

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